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By Definition, An Aggressor Cannot Act in Defense

By Robert Barsocchini | Empire Slayer | June 17, 2015

The statement that Israel has the right to defend itself against Palestine is similar to the statement that if, say, the US annexed, occupied, and started building illegal settlements in Cuba (the parts the US isn’t already illegally occupying and using as a torture camp, Guantanamo), then the US would have the right to “defend” itself against Cubans acting in retaliation to US aggression.

Everyone aside from blind fundamentalists and/or the hopelessly corrupt would laugh at the notion that in such a situation, US action against resistant Cubans would be “defense”. Likewise, the world laughs at the idea that Israel can “defend” itself against the vastly more outgunned Palestinians resisting Israeli aggression.

International law reflects the common sense dynamics of this situation, which any child could easily understand and naturally grasp.

Georgetown International Law professor Noura Erakat explains the relevant rules:

… where an occupation already is in place, the right to initiate militarized force in response to an armed attack, as opposed to police force to restore order, is not a remedy available to the occupying state.

the right of self-defense in international law is, by definition since 1967, not available to Israel with respect to its dealings with real or perceived threats emanating from the West Bank and Gaza Strip population.

An occupying power cannot justify military force as self-defense in territory for which it is responsible as the occupant.

However, people exploiting weaker groups try to deny elementary common sense and rewrite rules to defend what they are doing, and/or make themselves feel better about their awful acts. For example, the Spanish inquisition made little rules for itself regarding its torture subjects, such as that they were not supposed to bleed. Thus, the Inquisition, instead of say using thumbscrews (a Euro favorite), would burn people alive, as this, they ludicrously argued, did not make people bleed and thus made the Inquisition perpetrators moral and law-abiding, at least in their warped and self-serving minds. (Also, they would make people bleed through various torture methods, anyway, and just ignore their own rules.)

Naturally, this is what Israel, the US, and all corrupt, nasty power-centers do. Erakat explains how Israel plays these games with International Law:

[Israel tries to get around International Law by saying it does] not occupy [the Palestinian territories] within the meaning of international law. The UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly, as well as the Israeli High Court of Justice have roundly rejected the Israeli government’s position. 

In its 2012 session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described current conditions following decades of occupation and attendant repression as tantamount to Apartheid.

[The International Court of Justice rules that “Article 51 of the Charter [the right to self defense] has no relevance” to Israel’s assaults and massacres against the territories it illegally occupies and colonizes.]

… Israel is distorting/reinterpreting international law to justify its use of militarized force in order to protect its colonial authority…

In doing this, Israel:

… forces the people of the Gaza Strip to face one of the most powerful militaries in the world without the benefit either of its own military, or of any realistic means to acquire the means todefend itself.

If Israel were concerned about small matters like honor, it would help or allow Gazans to acquire guided weapons for self-defense. However, the Israeli state prefers to use its civilian population as a human shield (a tactic constantly used by Israel) to absorb the few unguided rockets that make it into populated Israeli areas, rather than have guided rockets hit designated Israeli military installations, which are enmeshed throughout Israeli civilian society.

Erakat concludes that, since the Israeli state’s behavior is an “affront to the international humanitarian legal order”, “the onus to resist this shift and to preserve protection for civilians rests upon the shoulders of citizens, organizations, and mass movements who can influence their governments enforce international law. There is no alternative to political mobilization to shape state behavior.”

The next question is whether the Palestinians have the right to use arms to resist illegal Israeli occupation, annexation, settlement, and aggression.

If we return to our US-occupying-Cuba metaphor, the common sense/fairness answer is obviously yes, of course. And again, the only reason many US citizens do not answer yes immediately to the question of whether Palestinians are allowed to use force to defend themselves against Israel’s armed aggression is that US citizens utterly lack exposure to information representative of common sense and world opinion. What they are exposed to represents opinion and “reporting” heavily biased in favor of the US-backed aggressors, in ways that range from obvious to subtle and subconscious, from natural ethnocentrism to intentional insidiousness.

But again, international law, when we look at it, represents the common-sense interpretation of the situation at which any child would arrive.

Middle East scholars LeVine and Hajjar explain that Palestinians are not prohibited:

… from taking up arms to resist occupation.

Additional Protocol I established people’s right to use armed force to resist foreign occupation as well as colonial domination and to fight against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination. This Protocol was promulgated for the purpose of injecting IHL standards into asymmetric wars (between states and non-state groups).

Israel has refused to sign this Protocol (as has the US) and does not recognise the right of non-state groups to fight for those specified causes, even if they were to abide by the laws of war. Nevertheless, the lawfulness of the use of armed force is not contingent on the status of the adversaries but rather on whether those who fight do so in accordance with the principles of IHL (International Humanitarian Law) enumerated above [and, as Dr. Norman Finkelstein and others note, on whether a group under attack has the option or ability to retaliate within the technical bounds of IHL – ie, do Palestinians have guided, and thus legal, projectiles to use as a deterrent? They do not. Do they therefore lack the right to retaliate in the most effective ways they can?].

Further, as I have noted, the mostly symbolic and ineffective Palestinian projectile attacks – which have killed about 30 people in their entire history – are not only launched under illegal Israeli occupation, but also mainly “in retaliation for prior indiscriminate Israeli killings of Gazan civilians“, doubling both the illegality of Israeli action and the right to self defense of the Palestinians.

Examples of Israeli double-war crimes (occupation combined with further military assault/aggression) that have elicited defensive retaliation from Palestine include:

… the November 5 [2012] killing of a 23-year-old mentally disabled man who strayed too close to the border fence, and at least one boy killed while playing football five days later. Two other Palestinians who rushed to the latter scene to help the victims were themselves immediately killed by three more shells fired by Israeli forces [in 2012, and similar attacks by the Israeli occupier in 2014 that spurred retaliatory rocket firing, as Israel concedes.]

[In 2012, for example, Israeli] attacks prompted a retaliatory strike by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which launched an anti-tank missile at an army jeep near the border, wounding four soldiers. That attack by a group not under the operational control of Hamas in turn triggered the targeting of Jabari and the all-out assault on Gaza by Israel.

The second factor that undercuts the self-defence rationale is that Jabari was involved in negotiating an Egyptian-brokered comprehensive, long-term cease-fire with Israel when he was assassinated. In a November 17 New York Times op-ed, Israeli academic Gershon Baskin (who was a mediator in these negotiations) declared that Jabari had been given a near-final version of the agreement hours before he was killed.

the immediate causes of the most violent wave of rocket fire were precisely the indiscriminate killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces and the assassination of the official who was engaged in negotiations to permanently curtail such rocket attacks. Moreover, Israeli officials had to know and anticipate that killing Jabari would precipitate a violent Palestinian response, raising serious questions about their moral and political responsibility for the ensuing violence.

The circumstances noted above are exactly similar to Israel’s 2014 massacre in Israeli-occupied Gaza, which began with Israeli killings of Gazans, including killing children on video, against the background of an imminent agreement between Hamas and the West Bank leadership, with US and EU approval.  This enraged Israel due to the prospect of another “Palestinian peace offensive”, which might mitigate Israel’s ability to continue illegally colonizing territory outside its legal and internationally recognized borders.

Indeed, Israel’s assaults on occupied refugee camps such as Gaza, “must be judged against a reality which, although vehemently rejected by Israeli officials … enjoys an overwhelming international consensus: Namely, that the entirety of the territories captured by Israel in 1967 remain occupied according to international law.”

The professors sum up:

Put simply, an occupying state has no legal right to wage a full-scale military war against an occupied population. Rather, the occupying state is legally obligated to protect the rights and prioritise the interests of this population, something Israel has manifestly not done in any part of the Occupied Territories.

The occupying power has rights, too, including the right to maintain order and to take steps to ensure for its own security. But in a context of occupation, these options are limited to police actions and at most use of small arms to address an immediate threat, not full-scale war.

Israel practices “continual deployment of large-scale, indiscriminate force against people and space of Gaza – and, equally important, the West Bank as well…”

These acts constitute “not merely the context for war crimes but for crimes against humanity and, because of their clearly aggressive nature, a crime against peace.”

Like all aggressive criminal actors, Israel would prefer to meet no resistance, and thus naturally insists that the Palestinians do not have “any right to use force, even in self-defence”.  Such desperate claims give “important insight into how Israel interprets the law to project the legality of policies and practices it wishes to pursue.”

Recognized as the most important and authoritative moral voice on the issue of resistance to tyranny, Mahatma Gandhi spoke specifically on the issue of Israeli tyranny against Palestine, and said,

[Israelis] can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs … nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Also see: The Hateful Likud [Israeli ruling organization] Charter Calls for the Destruction of Any Palestine State 


June 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Bush-era officials can be sued for abuse of 9/11 detainees – court

RT | June 18, 2015

A federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against former Justice Department and law enforcement officials for violating the rights of men perceived as Arab or Muslim who were rounded up after 9/11 and held for months, sometimes in solitary confinement.

In a 2-1 ruling, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Bush-era heads of the Department of Justice, FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), can be sued for violating the constitutional rights of 762 men, described as “out-of-status aliens” because they either overstayed their visas or worked without permits.

The case, known as Turkmen v. Ashcroft, was filed in 2002 by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). It names as defendants the former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former FBI Director Robert Mueller and former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service James Ziglar. The CCR is also suing the officials in charge of the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, and the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, New Jersey, where the plaintiffs were being held for anywhere from three to eight months.

A federal court dismissed the case in 2013, after concluding there was no evidence the officials had any “intent to punish” the plaintiffs. However, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, ruling that the Justice Department officials were not entitled to “qualified immunity,” and that the confinement conditions of the immigrants were actually established with “punitive intent.”

“We believe, then, that the challenged conditions—keeping detainees in their cells for twenty‐three hours a day, constructively denying them recreation and exposing them to the elements, strip searching them whenever they were removed from or returned to their cells, denying them sleep by bright lights—were not reasonably related to a legitimate goal, but rather were punitive and unconstitutional,” judges Rosemary Pooler and Richard Wesley wrote in the majority opinion.

Pooler and Wesley said the government officials presumed that “all out‐of‐status Arabs or Muslims were potential terrorists until proven otherwise,” and justified the detentions on national security grounds.

The lawsuit claims the mass detentions were part of the FBI’s “hold-until-cleared policy,” holding the men described as “potential recruits” for Al-Qaeda solely because of their Middle Eastern, North African, or South Asian origin. Of the eight current plaintiffs, six are Muslim, one is Hindu, and one is Buddhist.

“It might well be that national security concerns motivated the defendants to take action, but that is of little solace to those who felt the brunt of that decision,” the two judges wrote.

“We are thrilled with the court’s ruling,” said CCR attorney Rachel Meeropol. “The court took this opportunity to remind the nation that the rule of law and the rights of human beings, whether citizens or not, must not be sacrificed in the face of national security hysteria.”

Benamar Benatta, one of the plaintiffs, said he was “delighted” by the ruling. Cleared for release on November 14, 2001, Benatta remained in solitary confinement until April 30 the following year. … Full article

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kiev’s Moves Against Transnistria Are Anti-Ukrainian

Not content to merely blockade and shell its citizens in Donbass post-Maidan Ukraine is now also looking to squeeze ethnic Ukrainians in Transnistria

Transnistria president Yevgeny Shevchuk is one of Transnistria’s 160,000 ethnic Ukrainians
By Marko Marjanović | Russia Insider | June 10, 2015

Transnistria (or Pridnestrovie – “land along the Dniester”) is the spiritual predecessor of Novorossiya. It is a small, de facto independent, state taking up a strip of land along the left bank of the mighty Dniester river. The territory in question is internationally recognized as being part of Moldova but has a Slavic majority.

Transnistrian independence is a result of a joint Russian-Ukrainian uprising in the 1990s.

As Soviet Union dissolved the Slavic left-bank of the former Moldavian SSR sought independence, especially since Moldova was being shaken by a movement that sought the unification of this Romanian-speaking country with Romania.

For Slavs on Dniester’s left-bank this would have meant leading the existence of a tiny minority among 25 million Romanian speakers, and furthermore would have meant returning under the rule of their former occupiers – during WWII Romania occupied a chunk of southern Ukraine and was not well-remembered among the Slav populace. As one would expect they were not too thrilled about the prospect.

Indeed, Pridnestrovie’s inclusion into Moldovan SSR was highly artificial in the first place.

In the interwar period the Soviet Union lay claim on the historic region of Bessarabia on the right bank of the Dniester which had been part of Russian Empire but was inhabited by a Romanin majority and was at this time part or Romania. To enhance its claim the Soviets dreamt up a “Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic” out of southern Ukraine along the border with Romania on the Dniester and maintained that this “Moldavia” properly extends to cover the entire Romanian region of Bessarabia.

In 1940 under Stalin the Soviets fulfilled their ambition and after seizing Bessarabia formed a highly dubious “Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic” out of this majority ethnic Romanian territory and the Ukrainian left-bank Dniester. Essentially, exactly in the same way that inclusion of Romanina-majority Bessarabia into the (Slav-majority) Soviet Union was artificial and forced, so was the inclusion of Slav-majority left-bank Dniester into the Moldavian SSSR.

In 1992 when Slavs of Transnistria who are an equal mix of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians rebelled, Ukrainians and Russians recognized the validity of their cause. Volunteers from both Russia and Ukraine flocked to help in their fight.

What is particularly interesting is that volunteers included both Russian and Ukrainian nationalists. Among the Ukrainian volunteers one could find members of the ultra nationalist UNA-UNSO – which is the oldest and the largest of the groups which today forms the Ukrainian Right Sector coalition.

In other words, back in 1992 Ukrainians, including extreme anti-Russian nationalists, were convinced Transnistria deserved to be helped and that it was wrong to demand of ethnic Ukrainians there to submit to rule from the other side of the Dniester (or even from Bucharest in Romania) that they experienced as alien.

(However, the decisive role in the conflict was not played by such volunteers but by the remnants of the Soviet Army in the region which put itself between the warring sides and deterred attempts of the stronger Moldavian/Romanian side to resolve the matter by force. Russian peacekeepers in the region today are a continuation of this force.)

In the mean time much has changed. Today Transnistrians complain (1,2,3) that Ukraine is working with Moldovans to exert pressure against them and get them to submit to Moldova. This pressure consists of a military build up along the Ukrainian-Transnistrian border, a blockade against Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria, making it hard for Transnistrians with Russian passports to travel, and making it difficult for Transnistria to export goods except through Moldovan customs.

Kiev has justified these moves by essentially painting Transnistria as Putin’s military colony. This is highly dubious since Transnistria is very much a geostrategic liability. It is tiny (population of 0.5 million), landlocked, borders only Moldova and Ukraine and covers a thin strip of land – which is therefore highly vulnerable. It may have some value as leverage in relation to Moldova, but it is the case that Moldova itself is a small (population of 3 million), impoverished and landlocked country of little to no strategic significance itself. The reality is that Moscow sees its presence in Transnistria as a moral and possibly political, but not military, asset.

The real reason why Kiev feels the need to denounce Transnistria is because the enclave is in so many ways the antithesis of post-Maidan Ukraine. Culturally and politically it is far closer to Crimea and Donbass than what Ukraine is moving towards. … Full article

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Global conflict cost world $14.3 trillion in 2014: Report

Press TV | June 18, 2015

The cost of global war in the year 2014 reached $14.3 trillion, or 13.4 percent of the global gross domestic product, a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace says.

Last year, the cost of global conflict equaled the combined economies of Britain, Germany, France, Brazil, Canada, and Spain, according to a recent report by the Australia-based group.

The statistics mark a 15.3-percent spike in the cost of conflicts since 2008 when the financial impact was recorded as $12.4 trillion, the report notes.

“Large increases in costs are due to the increases in deaths from internal conflict, increases for IDP (internally displaced person) and refugee support, and GDP losses from conflict, with the latter accounting for 38 percent of the increase since 2008,” the report stated.

Since 2008, the cost of supporting IDPs and refugees has increased by 267 percent and the number of people forced to relocate by war has reached its highest since the Second World War, the report noted.

It also described the Middle East and North Africa as the most violent regions in the world and Europe as the most peaceful, adding that Saudi Arabia’s ongoing aggression against Yemen has dragged down the overall outlook for the Middle East.

According to the report, Syria, which has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011, was world’s least peaceful country, followed by Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Israeli foreign minister avoids Gaza war crimes arrest thanks to UK diplomatic immunity

RT | June 18, 2015

Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni was granted diplomatic immunity by the British government during a visit to the UK this week to avoid possible arrest over alleged war crimes.

The Zionist Union politician was attending the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in London, where she spoke on the Israeli political climate and the future of Israel and Palestine.

Livni was able to qualify for legal immunity by arranging meetings with British officials, exploiting a legal loophole that protects Israelis on official visits to the UK.

She has had to use the loophole since pro-Palestine activists successfully petitioned a British court to issue an arrest warrant in her name ahead of a visit in December 2009.

As Israeli Foreign Minister during the 2008-09 Gaza War, Livni was involved in the decision to take military action in response to rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip. The rocket fire itself was in response to a November 4, 2008 incident, when IDF soldiers killed several Hamas fighters in a military incursion.

Livni told reporters at the time: “We have proven to Hamas that we have changed the equation. Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on its citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a good thing.”

A UN investigation found Israel had used excessive force which unfairly impacted on civilians, as well as using Palestinians as human shields by forcing them to enter houses which might be booby trapped.

Some 926 Palestinian civilians were killed in the conflict, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

The report concluded Israel had violated articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Palestine supporters hold Livni accountable for these war crimes.

Livni, a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, abandoned her trip to the UK in 2009. Then-Foreign Secretary David Miliband subsequently issued Livni a personal apology.

The British government is theoretically able to prosecute Livni on suspicion of war crimes.

By using “universal jurisdiction,” UK law permits British courts to cover serious offenses such as war crimes, torture and hostage-taking, regardless of where they were committed.

However, the British government amended the law in September 2011 to avoid further diplomatic incidents.

Parliament changed the legislation so that the head of public prosecutions must give approval to a request for arrest warrants under universal jurisdiction.

The UK government has also granted automatic immunity to all Israelis on official visits to Britain, according to the Times of Israel.

As a result, British courts rejected a request for a new arrest warrant against Livni ahead of this week’s visit.

The Zionist Union member exploited the legal loophole to attend the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit, according to the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

During her London visit, she met with Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood MP to present a copy of Israel’s 275-page report on Operation Protective Edge, last summer’s deadly assault by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) against Gaza.

The report places blame for the war’s casualties on Hamas in Gaza and declares Israel’s attack to be “lawful” and “legitimate.”

More than 2,000 Palestinians died in the conflict, the majority of them civilians. Some 73 Israelis were killed, all but six of whom were soldiers.

Livni told Ellwood: “It is important that the British government have an accurate picture of the factual, ethical, and legal reality, because the UN report is expected to be so twisted and anti-Israel.”

During her visit, a BBC Newsnight interviewer challenged Livni over her parents’ involvement in Irgun, a paramilitary organization that used violence against the British in its struggle for an independent Israel. Livni was asked if she would describe her parents as terrorists.

The former Israeli foreign minister denied there was any comparison between Hamas and Irgun.

She told BBC journalist Evan Davis: “There is a huge difference between those fighting an army, the British Army, and between all those terrorist organizations in our region that are looking for civilians to kill.”

Read more

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The “occupation” of medical journals by pro-Israel professionals without any “preoccupation” about health issues

Missing the target, forgetting the point, forgetting the profession

MEMO | June 18, 2015

I am the author, with 23 other health and science professionals, of an Open Letter for the People in Gaza (1) published in The Lancet on 22 July 2014. The letter prompted friends of Israel in the medical profession to demand the dismissal of the magazine’s editor, Dr Richard Horton and the withdrawal of the publication; there was also a defamation campaign against the authors.

Neither of the first two demands succeeded, but a smear campaign against the letter’s signatories continues. A recent letter by a group of doctors led by Dr M Pepys (2) unleashed again the defamatory accusation against myself and my fellow signatories as well as Dr Horton. An invited comment by J Yudkin and J Leaning (3) in the British Medical Journal supported the decision by The Lancet to publish and was followed by a number of smear letters in the BMJ against us (referenced as responses in 4), taking advantage of the duty for the journal to publish responses.

Here I will write about facts and the lack of facts, and the absence of intellectual, moral and professional adequacy. First, though, some context behind the original letter.

My main concern in asking colleagues to co-author the open letter, after the first 10 days of Israel’s attacks on Gaza last summer, was to draw attention to what was the predictable great loss of civilians’ lives and damage to health in the already fragile situation that the Palestinians in Gaza find themselves in.

We acknowledged that the fragility was a consequence of the Israeli-led blockade of the Strip; the main keys to the doors of Gaza are not in the hands of any of the Palestinian players, but with the Israeli government. We noted endless public declarations in the media by Israel’s political and governing elite over the past 10 years which are unanimous in their conviction that Gaza has to be silenced; the debate, if there was one, was about how to keep Gaza quiet, not necessarily only by political means. We also registered the menacing reaction of Israel’s prime minister to the attempts at political and factional reconciliation made by the Palestinians, indicating that an autonomous Palestinian government, let alone a state, is not regarded by him as an option.

This point notwithstanding, our opinion about Middle East politics was not the motivation for writing the letter to a major medical journal; nor was that the core message.

Our shared main motivation to send the letter was to address the concern for that fragile, almost collapsing, health sector meant to cater to 1.8 million people effectively “caged” in the Gaza Strip. We wanted to share our knowledge of the accumulating scientific and clinical evidence of the effects that war and post-war environmental conditions pose on people’s physical and mental health, while very few in-depth studies or remedies have been developed. We felt a responsibility to “avoid further damage” and illustrated the situation as we knew it to be, to encourage attention for studies, professional support and for remedies, even if we knew that we could not immediately stop the war.

My colleagues and I, and the linked medical journals, were then attacked because we wrote about Gaza and not Syria or any of the other dire situations around the world. Why Gaza? From our perspective is was the obvious choice because we all had direct experience of the situation there; in modesty and professional truth, therefore, we could speak about what we knew and the consequences we could predict in our areas of competence and knowledge.

So there was no conspiracy; it was simply the fact that we knew the situation on the ground which inspired us to write the letter and gave the editorial team at The Lancet the confidence to publish it. I believe that if medical or other professionals have equal knowledge about the situation in, say, Syria or Yemen, and submit an article or letter for publication, it too would be published in the same journal.

For the time being, I guess that we who sent the letter and the editor who published it will have to accept the attacks against us merely for publicising the truth about the situation in the Gaza Strip. We hope, however, that we may have a role in encouraging positive steps for health preservation and care, each through our own independent work and activities. I can only express the utmost gratitude for the medical journals that care enough to provide a space for contributions about the relationships between health and occupation, and health and wars, wherever and whoever they come from. The editorial staff fulfil their duty to free speech by keeping that space open, while we authors fulfil ours by sticking to what we know.

Let me emphasise here that none of the hundreds of letters sent by our detractors, all of whom appear to be health professionals, raised any health-related issues. Their contribution to medicine and related matters in this case was negligible, and so their motivation in writing at length about what we said has to be questioned. It is interesting, too, that few demonstrated any in-depth knowledge of the local issues in question. Accusing a medical journal of not giving coverage to all wars around the world as a means to attack a specific published item – in this case our letter – is neither a medical nor a scientific point of value.

The final sentence from Tony Demonthe in the Christmas 2014 editorial in the BMJ (5) expresses well what we aimed at as signatories of the open letter: “I think future generations will judge the journal harshly if we avert our gaze from the medical consequences of what is happening to the occupants of the Palestinian territories and to the Israelis next door.” This applies to journals as well as to individual professionals.

Our decision to send this letter to The Lancet and not to the mainstream media was motivated in part by the hope that medical journals will host an open debate on the issue, and that this would be achieved by signalling the ongoing damages and their potential consequences of such professional attention. More specifically, we hoped that this audience would contribute to the opening of medical and scientific investigations and generate help for the health sector which we knew was dire from the very first acts in the war

It turns out that we were correct in our expectations about the dire nature of the consequences, and even modest in our anticipation of the amount and severity of the damage caused. And the extent of the damage to health is wide despite the claims of the Israeli NGO Amuta or Israel’s Terrorism and Intelligence Information Centre (6, 7) about “bias” by the sources of the numeric data of victims reported by UN organisations. To put the record straight, these Israeli sources used the same database as the UN agencies but lowered their published number of civilian victims by reducing the age of majority to 15 years old; male victims were also excluded from the list of civilian victims on the basis of imprecise and secret information about them.

What has happened after the Israeli offensive?

Following the ceasefire in August 2014, reduced access due to Israel’s ban on almost anyone entering the Gaza Strip, hindered both independent and institutional investigations, including those looking at the health sector. The official UN commission of inquiry has not been allowed to travel to Gaza, nor has the UN rapporteur. Nonetheless, those few who managed to skip the blockade were reliable for first views and interviews of a cohort of victims and situations, verifying a number of registered accidents and their modalities (8-18). Their reports illustrate different angles taken of the events and their conclusions about Israel’s responsibility under international laws and conventions will not be disclaimed easily in a fair analysis, but they are not directed specifically at the health sector.

Thus, it remains true, once again, that every independent fact-finding investigation was obstructed by the Israeli government, including that of the “UN special enquiry commission” (19) by refusing permission to enter the enclave. Similarly, most EU political representatives were stopped from visiting Gaza, and there has since August 2014 been even greater difficulties for anybody trying to be a direct witness to the damage caused by Israel, including that within the health sector. There is no doubt that Israel created serious hindrances to fact-finding and support in health by denying entry permits.

The issue that we presented in our letter last July was what could be done “to avoid harm”. The issue for medical journals has never been pro-this or anti-that – especially not anti-Semitism – among individual contributors or editors. The journal did not present the case of Palestine and not of Syria for the sake of it; the professional issue at hand was, “What can be done to limit and then heal the damage?” This is the sort of issue to be debated in medical journals by anyone and everyone who has pronounced the Hippocratic Oath or sticks to the ethics of scientific research.

As an issue, “What can be done to limit and then heal the damage done?” is rooted in the Gaza situation, both for the physical and mental damage, as well as the long-term consequences of the war. There aren’t the same numbers of physically damaged civilians in Israel and there may be a lot fewer mental health issues among Israeli civilians as a result of the war. I guess that they would be proportionate to the stress and number of people involved in or affected directly by the conflict.

Turning then to the real issue, professionals and medical journals are required to document, assess, discuss and produce support for those who would like to work in the healing and reduction of damage, working with those who can help the structures still active in the health sector to provide care and support to those who are permanently disabled (of which there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, including many women and children), the traumatised and the children.

In the Gaza Strip, the consequences of the war for the health sector are even worse than we predicted. Gaza and its people remain unhealed, and the possibilities for receiving help are limited, while the worst environmental conditions persist.

The severe limitations put in place by Israel to reduce both access and the effective working capabilities of professionals in the health and science fields, while the needs have actually increased since the war, have not diminished. Such professionals could provide support and training in Gaza, and Palestinian professionals could leave the enclave for training abroad (and many have fellowships to do just that) but this is not being allowed. Even travel by patients seeking expert help overseas has been restricted by the Israeli blockade.

The presence of thousands of newly-handicapped people, young and old alike; of traumatised children and adults; of conditions potentially inductive of long-term effects on fertility, reproductive health and diseases at large (20); and of the difficulties to cope with chronic illness for lack of medicines and instruments, continue to persist. Indeed, all are in a much worse situation than before the war.

It has not been possible to reduce this toll, due to the blockade which prevents professionals and medical supplies from entering Gaza. Under Israel’s restrictions and control, much-needed health and professional support is largely inaccessible.

Thus Gaza is, to this day, experiencing the destruction of infrastructure; food and medicine insecurity; mental problems among thousands of homeless civilians and families which have experienced loss, and children; the scarcity of energy and water; and a broken sewage system that flows untreated into the sea and pollutes the wells. Potentially toxic powders still fly in the air; its hospital and clinic facilities are reduced in effectiveness due to destruction; and medical supplies are always limited and erratic in delivery. All of these are health issues that should and could be dealt with, but all are impossible to resolve because of the blockade by Israel.

Considering the impossibility of people escaping all of this, assuming that they would want to, of course, the issue is something that should be debated, discussed, evaluated and reported on in medical journals. What is the impact on people’s health of Israel’s policies and what can be done to overcome the limitations facing the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip? This is what the medical media should be engaged with instead of the racist, ethnic or religious discrimination that we have seen for the past 11 months. Such “exercises of free speech” can and should be hosted elsewhere.

The seriously worrying aspect of the endless accusations of “anti-Semitism” hurled at us represents a “determination to abuse a medical tribune” for a sectarian “witch hunt”, without entering into discussion of the relevant medical points. It is a waste of energy in the context of medical care.

Furthermore, this emphasis also confirms how racism, ethnicity and confessional divides, as handled by the medical professionals who have made it their job to attack us, are indeed a main political determinant of Gaza’s health. I am afraid that the professionals responsible for the smears have, in a personal capacity, forgotten their medical oaths and scientific ethics.

I submit that there are possibilities other than the present debate on Semitism and anti-Semitism which need to occupy the space about Palestine in medical journals. The current state of the health sector there should be the subject for discussion in a medical journal, within the framework of the medical profession’s mission to define how we can “not collaborate to do harm, and heal when possible”, without fear or favour in terms of race, creed, age or gender.

So let us ask Dr Pepys and the others if they intend to continue diverting attention from the health sector crisis in Gaza. If the answer is no, then let them act by encouraging Israel to lift the ban for health professionals from abroad to travel and collaborate with our Palestinian colleagues in Gaza; and for Israel to let Gaza’s medical and science professionals – men and women of any age – to travel abroad for training. Let our critics ask their Israeli contacts to allow medical supplies, drugs, instruments, prosthetics, surgical necessities and other items to get into Gaza; and allow the hospitals and clinics destroyed by Israel’s bombs to be rebuilt, instruments and machines to be replaced, and ambulances to be repaired. Such pressure on the authorities is the responsibility of medical professionals everywhere.

Will they, according to their professional standards, lobby for the blockade on health care and professional work to be lifted; for patients, trainees and local professionals to travel out of Gaza; and for international professionals to have free access to Gaza? Will our critics submit research papers if they feel that Israel is under-represented in journals? This seems to be a burning issue for them, though it is unclear how it can be requested simply on a nationalistic basis for debatable reasons. Or will they simply rewrite their defamatory pamphlet? Will doctors and scientists in general, as authors in medical and science journals, carry out research and studies on the impacts of war on health and submit the results for peer review?

I labour this point because it is worrying that for the 11 months that the pro-Israel “lobby” has been engaged in what I believe is “defaming” the authors of the Open Letter for the People of Gaza and the editor of The Lancet, our detractors appear to be completely oblivious to the health consequences of Israel’s attacks on Gaza. I take it as sign of their personal and professional inadequacy that they have only attempted to deflect the responsibility for maiming, destroying and killing their own civilians onto the Palestinians in Gaza, as if they staged some form of collective suicide.

Although our “detractor colleagues” have missed all of the facts that motivated our warning in July 2014, the same is not true of 20,000 others who co-signed the letter on line within a week. They did so in order for us not to be the only ones taking the pro-Israel flak. I believe, therefore, that we achieved what we set out to do; we raised awareness of the real problems facing the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip among an audience who may be able to do something to help in the field.

Eleven months down the line, though, and the detractors – along with that Israeli NGO – still ignore the health-related topics in their comments. It’s time to say enough is enough and push them to explain how they mean to fulfil the terms of their professional oath and square up to the breach of the requirement to “do no harm” and “possibly heal”. Everyone in the medical profession should ask themselves this question before taking sides.

The context of the facts is not a unilateral whim, nor is there only one narrative being masticated for months while insults are thrown at us. Acceptance of a broad narrative does not depend on force or intimidation, nor by the repetition of wrongs. Frankly, the discourse of the detractors who have dedicated themselves to harassing my colleagues and The Lancet editor for almost a year reveals a particularly nasty mindset; it is not intended to change anyone by appealing to hearts and minds. How can it when respect for the facts and truth is completely absent?

I am not so naïve as to think that the narrative promoted on behalf of the more vulnerable members of society, in this case the Palestinians, is ever likely to win in the short-term; the pro-Israel lobby is too well organised and influential for that, even when what it promotes is not factually accurate. Yet, we will have to see to it that the narrative which takes into account the facts and the people’s health wins in the end over that of any other party whose aim is to hide reality underneath a barrage of insults.

In conclusion, and hopefully to put an end to speculation about my personal position, I believe that I am innocent of the charge of anti-Semitism. I am appalled that within a European culture of freedom of information and expression I can be attacked so viciously for sharing information already in the public domain, albeit being unpalatable. That I can be labelled, without any evidence, as an “anti-Semite” and “white supremacist” for publishing facts in a well-respected medical journal is a disgrace in a continent which professes freedom of speech.

I am a scientist, and a woman, and I have struggled for freedom of information, opinion, differences and debate which we still (temporarily) enjoy in Europe. Should I exercise self-censorship and refrain from sharing information to any of my contacts? Should I not let my peers, friends and students form their own opinion and then discuss the issue? Who are my detractors to attack me and hang me out to dry, and threaten me? Europe cast off the shackles of fascism decades ago; the pro-Israel lobby should not be allowed to bring them back.

Since this article was written on 15 June, the Israel government has published its own report on the attack on Gaza, acknowledging as a source the data quoted here. It has also refused entry in Gaza for the second time to Makarim Wibisono, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, who is supposed to report to the UN Human Rights Council on 29th June.

Statement of interests

I am a Geneticist and experimental biologist, with a curriculum in molecular, cell and development biology in mammals. I retired in 2014 from the position of Professor in Genetics in the University of Genoa, Italy. I have worked in Gaza since 2010 and I also work in Italy. In both places I am an unpaid volunteer professional doing research on determinants of reproductive health. To have transparency in the position of investigator and access to donations and their utilisation for research expenses, I am a member of the volunteer association for research, NWRG.

In Gaza, I have learnt about the good aspects and shortcomings of the hospital and health provision, and about the needs of the patients, the rise in infertility and the difficulties in treating serious chronic diseases; the impact of the blockade on the specialisation of doctors and nurses; and about obtaining suitable medical instruments. Being a simple person, I also learnt in Gaza about the cost and availability of food and other market products, the cost of living, the ongoing reduction in the availability of supplies, electricity cuts and poor water quality; and about the limited assistance available for the needy, the multiple shifts in schools, and so on. In doing so I have observed how the Palestinians overcome all such difficulties, educate their children and work, even when wages are cut.

From my colleagues I learnt how they do their best to help their patients with the meagre means at their disposal; how they struggle for a permit to send a child for treatment abroad; how they wait in frustration for the missing drugs for their patients; and how they desire to develop their professional competencies.

Being a scientist, I usually learn from all of the sources that I can possibly find, or are presented to me, which report facts and/or interpretations. I discuss them with my peers often, before I formulate a judgement or hypothesis; only then do I act on this and take the next research step.

The same rules apply to the task of understanding the social and political determinants of health. I am not infallible, but I can say with all humility that what I understood is nearer to the truth than my detractors are; I do not lie for convenience or personal benefit.

1-Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S, Hay A, Rose S, Rose H, Stefanini A, Balduzzi A, Cigliano B, Pecoraro C, Di Maria E, Camandona F, Veronese G, Ramenghi L, Rui M, DelCarlo P, D’agostino S, Russo S, Luisi V, Papa S, Agnoletto V, Agnoletto M (2014a). An open letter for the people in Gaza. Lancet 384:397-8.

2- Pepys M (2015). Complaint to Reed Elsevier. Email sent to 58 Israeli recipients. 24 February.

3- John S. Yudkin and Jennifer Leaning, “Politics, medical journals, the medical profession and the Israel lobby,” The British Medical Journal,,May 12, 2015,

4- “Politics, medical journals, the medical profession and the Israel lobby,” The British Medical Journal rapid responses

5 -Tony Delamothe. Don’t look away now, 2014.

6- Issues Related to UNOCHA’s “Protection Cluster” Regarding Gaza- Written statement* submitted by the Amuta for NGO Responsibility, a non-governmental organisation in special consultative status, august 25, 2014.

7- Meir Amit Terrorism & Intelligence Information Centre, “Preliminary, partial examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge and analysis of the ratio between terrorist operatives and non-involved civilians killed in error,” 28, 2014,

“Based on the examination of the lack of appropriate methodologies and independent verifiability regarding the claims of the three key NGOs, the civilian casualty statistics and claims produced by the OCHA are unreliable”… When the names of alleged civilian casualties were examined by the Terror Information Centre in Israel, many were shown to be members of terrorist groups. UNOCHA, however, has failed to respond to the analysis published by this Israeli NGO, magnifying Protection Cluster framework must be considered unreliable.”


Situation Report (as of 18 July 2014, 1500 hrs): “The impact of hostilities on Palestinian children has been particularly devastating: 59 killed (11 in the past 24 hours) and 637 injured since 8 July… 48,000 persons hosted at UNRWA shelters and another 700 displaced families hosted by relatives, are in need of emergency food and other assistance… The vast majority of households receive electricity only four hours a day, due to damage to ten feeder lines; water supply has been further undermined”


“As of 20 July (16:00), a total of 425 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza (112 children, 41 women and 25 elderly over 60 years) and a total of 3008 Palestinians have been injured (904 children, 533 women and 119 elderly over 60 years). The ongoing ground incursion, begun July 18, has greatly accelerated the casualty rate over the past two days, as well as the numbers of displaced families… during 12 days of escalated violence in Gaza (July 7-19), 2 medical staff, 3 paramedics and 15 emergency medical services staff and volunteers were injured in attacks. A pharmacist was killed in his home. 17 health-related facilities have been damaged by that hit the structure directly or in the area of the facilities (2 MoH hospitals, 1 NGO hospital; 4 MoH clinics, 5 UNRWA clinics, 3 NGO clinics; 2 NGO nursing care centers; 1 NGO emergency medical services centre). Four Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances have been damaged. There are critical concerns with hospital supplies, as both medicines and medical disposables are in serious shortages, both in MoH and NGO hospitals due to the large number of casualties and serious shortages even before the escalation of violence.”

10- UN OCHA opt, 2014. “Fragmented lives. Humanitarian overview 2014. March 2015.

11- Defence for Children International – Palestine. Operation Protective Edge: A War Waged on Gaza’s Children. 2015.

12- Bachmann J, Baldwin-Ragaven L, Hougen HP, Leaning J, Kelly K, Özkalipci O, Reynolds L, Vacas L (2014). Gaza, 2014.Findings of an independent medical fact-finding mission. Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

13- B’Tselem. Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, Summer, 2014. January 2015.

14- Amnesty International. Families Under The Rubble. Sept 2014.


16- Breaking the Silence , May 2015

17- Drone footage shows how entire neighbourhoods in Gaza were razed to the ground by Israel’s bombardment last summer.

18- Satellite recognition

19- Netanyahu: UN inquiry commission’s report on 2014 Gaza war is “waste of time”, June 14, 2015

20- P.Manduca

The author is a professor of genetics at the University of Genoa, Italy

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Church located on Christian holy site torched in Galilee

By Celine Hagbard | IMEMC News | June 18, 2015

-72276680Unknown arsonists set fire to the Church of the Multiplication, where Christians believe that Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes, and wrote graffiti in Hebrew on the walls that read, “False idols will be smashed” and “Pagans”.

The fire was set at about 3 am in the early hours of Thursday morning, severely damaging church offices and storage rooms. The entire church was saturated with smoke damage.

The Church of the Multiplication is believed by Christians to be the site of Jesus’s miracle of multiplying two fish and five loaves to feed 5,000 people.

Several church volunteers suffered from smoke inhalation while trying to extinguish the fire before the firefighters arrived on the scene. The fire was put out several hours after it began.

The church, which is run by the Catholic Benedictine Order, is best known for its fifth-century mosaics, including one depicting two fish flanking a basket of loaves.

Christian churches have been targeted by right-wing Israeli Jewish attacks hundreds of times in recent years.

In May 2014, the Romanian Orthodox Church on Hahoma Hashlishit Street in Jerusalem was defaced in a suspected hate attack. That incident saw the words “price tag”, “Jesus is garbage” and “King David for the Jews” spray-painted on the site’s walls.

Two weeks earlier, ahead of a visit to the country by Pope Francis, suspected Jewish extremists daubed hate graffiti on Vatican-owned offices in Jerusalem.

The Hebrew-language graffiti, reading “Death to Arabs and Christians and those who hate Israel,” was sprayed on the walls of the offices of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame center, a complex just outside the Old City, the Roman Catholic Church said.

Dmitry Diliani, a member of the Fateh revolutionary council, as well as the Secretary-General of the national Christian Assembly in Palestine, issued a statement that the attack on the church represents a practical application of the stances taken by the Israeli government, which funds fanatic groups.

He noted that some of the leaders of those fanatic groups hold political positions in spite of their incitement. By refusing to list those groups as terrorist organizations, Diliani argued, the Israeli Knesset is effectively providing them with legal protection, and is not taking seriously the ongoing, multiple attacks by right-wing Israelis against Christian and Muslim holy sites.

Knesset Member Dr. Basil Khattas was quoted as saying, “Those terrorist groups attack both Christian and Muslim holy sites with impunity. The Israeli government must open a serious investigation into this and other incidents of violence against holy sites.”

Israeli authorities say they are investigating to see if the fire was an accident or was intentional. But Christians who live in the area say that the Israeli police are not taking the investigation seriously – adding that this was obviously an anti-Christian hate crime, given the graffiti that was written on the site of the fire.

No arrests have been made in connection with the arson.

Photo credit ‘Palestinian Christians’ Facebook group

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Netanyahu Orders New Palestinian TV Shut, P.A Plans to Appeal Decision

IMEMC & Agencies | June 18, 2015

460_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_palestine48Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as the Communication Minister, has instructed the head of the Communications Ministry, to begin shutting down a new Palestinian TV station, funded by the Palestinian Authority, in Israel.

The official launch of the new TV was scheduled for today, Thursday, and all official preparations were concluded Wednesday for the historic launch of the new Palestine 48 TV Station.

Following Netanyahu’s announcement, a press conference was held in Nazareth by the Chairman of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation’s Board of Trustees, Minister Riyad al-Hasan.

Al-Hasan said the Netanyahu decision to shut down the new TV station was illegal, and that the TV Channel will pursue all legal means to counter the move.

He added that the new Channel purchased all services from licensed corporations, and noted that legal advisors, in addition to human rights groups, are all participating in the efforts to appeal the Israeli government intention to shut it down.

Netanyahu gave the order to Director General Shlomo Filber, just a few hours after a press conference was held during the inauguration of the Palestine 48 Arabic-language Channel.

Al-Hasan stated during the conference that Netanyahu and his extremist right-wing government are trying to shut the new channel, to silence the Palestinian voice, and said the new TV would be an open forum that would even give Israel’s right-wing, including government ministers, a stage to express their opinions.

Netanyahu’s main argument was that the new TV “receives funding from the Palestinian Authority, which is considered a foreign entity in Israel”.

Al-Hasan also noted that the station has been under preparation for over a year, and was meant to begin broadcasting on Thursday, the first day of Ramadan for 2015.

The station would have been the first Palestinian Arabic-language station to be broadcasting inside what is now Israel. After Netanyahu’s announcement, the future of the station is unclear.

The official added that the Palestinian Authority has no intention to violate any Israeli laws, and that the idea of establishing the TV station received the approval of various Arab Members of Knesset, and several senior journalists in Israel.

He said the new station intends to highlight the lives of Arab citizens of Israel, while production companies would offer content produced in the Galilee, the Triangle Area, and the Negev.

Although the station would start airing from Nazareth, it is planning to open offices in the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment