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Dutch court starts hearing in war crime case against Israel’s Gantz

Press TV – September 17, 2019

A Dutch court has held a hearing on a war crime case against a former Israeli general challenging incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in ongoing general elections.

The Hague District Court weighed on Tuesday whether it should hear a lawsuit brought by a Palestinian man seeking compensation from Benny Gantz for his role in the killing of six of his relatives during the Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip in 2014.

On July 20, 2014, Ismail Ziada lost his mother, three brothers, a sister-in-law, and a 12-year-old nephew when their family home was bombed by the Israeli air force.

A visitor was also killed in the Israeli bombardment.

“I was shot at a very close range with a rubber coated metal bullet in the head. I witnessed another boy being shot in the head next to me, dying on the spot,” said Ziada about his encounters with the Israeli army.

Ziada, who now lives in the Netherlands, filed a civil lawsuit in 2018 seeking damages from Gantz, who was the chief of staff of Israel’s military at the time of the bombing, and the then-air force commander Amir Eshel.

Ziada says the attack violated international humanitarian law because it deliberately targeted civilians.

The Tuesday session addressed a motion filed by Gantz and Eshel’s lawyers asking the court to dismiss the case. They argued the ex-commanders were immune because the Dutch court had no jurisdiction over the case.

Ahead of the hearing, Ziada’s lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, said Palestinians from Gaza could not receive fair treatment in Israeli courts.

Dutch courts can exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes, provided the accuser cannot get a fair trial elsewhere.

Israel launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also wounded in the war.

The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 5 Comments

Why do so many spy agencies take so much interest in Gaza?

By Motasem A Dalloul | MEMO | September 16, 2019

The Gaza Strip is a part of Palestine with more than two million Palestinians living in around 365 square kilometres. It has been occupied by Israel since 1967, which has imposed a near-total 13-year land, air and sea blockade. It is regarded as one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

The coastal enclave has been subject to many Israeli military offensives, with three major attacks during the past decade alone. It has no natural resources and “less than four per cent of fresh water is drinkable and the surrounding sea is polluted by sewage.” Tragic humanitarian statistics — unemployment at 52 per cent; poverty 53 per cent; water pollution 95 per cent; and daily power outage 75 per cent — convey a bleak picture. A United Nations report warned in 2018 that it could soon become unfit for humans to live in by 2020.

However, Gaza has a presence in many corridors of power around the world, in both the East and the West. Last week, a security source in Gaza told me that they had so far discovered agents for 25 regional and international intelligence agencies operating in the territory.

Furthermore, every official or partisan Israeli election list has the issue of Gaza at the top of the agenda in their current campaigns. What are they promising to do with the Gaza Strip?

According to Ron Ben-Yishai, the military correspondent of Yedioth Ahronoth, for example, the Likud Party is planning a large-scale military ground operation in Gaza to deter the Palestinians’ “military power”, after which, he claimed, Israel will call for the world to disarm the security forces there and reconstruct the infrastructure and economy. The Blue and White party, said Ben-Yishai, is promising potential voters that it will do more or less the same thing as Likud.

The veteran journalist pointed out that the head of Israel’s Jewish Home party, Avigdor Lieberman, is promising its voters to carry out a similarly “strong” military operation in Gaza to “completely” remove its government before rebuilding the enclave “from zero”. Again, the intention is to have a disarmed population on Israel’s doorstep. The Yamina alliance led by the former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, meanwhile, is promising to carry out a massive air strike in Gaza and carry out assassinations (“targeted killings”) of Palestinian leaders.

It is no secret that Egypt is a major player in the situation in Gaza. It plays a role in the Israeli and internationally-backed blockade, and has a special unit in almost every security agency tasked with dealing with the Gaza Strip. In practice, Egypt, is the only state beside Israel which has a land border with the Gaza Strip, but regards it as a security issue and is dealing with it as such. As far as the Palestinians can see, though, since the time of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s deep state gives priority to Israel’s interests in Cairo’s relationship with Gaza.

End Gaza Siege! – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The UAE has imposed severe restrictions on Gaza since the victory of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in the 2006 elections. Hamas has been the de facto government in Gaza ever since. The government in Abu Dhabi has since deported or asked hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza to leave the Emirates, and has been running active intelligence agencies in the Gaza Strip with the help of Palestinian MP Mohammed Dahlan who lives in the UAE with his family.

During the 2014 Israeli military offensive against Gaza, the security services discovered that an ostensibly medical aid convoy which entered the territory included intelligence staff instead of doctors and medical staff. To avoid clashes with the UAE, the Gaza security officials immediately deported the UAE nationals.

Jordan also has a hidden agenda in Gaza. A security source told me that a Jordanian MP who visited the territory during the 2014 Israeli offensive was discovered collecting and reporting intelligence on behalf of a certain country. He was immediately deported with the threat that he would be exposed to the media if he did not leave his hotel in the enclave at once.

Other known agents active in Gaza include those working on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Western powers, the US and Russia. Prior to 2008/9, an American citizen in her 20s entered Gaza posing as a journalist and claimed to me that she was a CIA agent. Israel, of course, has many Palestinian collaborators in the territory.

Why are the countries of the world paying so much attention to the sliver of land known as the Gaza Strip? Could it be because Gaza is the only place in the whole Arab world which is being ruled by the people who were chosen by democratic elections declared to be free and fair by international monitoring bodies, including the NGO run by former US President Jimmy Carter? Or is it because the Gaza Strip is a “superpower” that the whole world is afraid of? May be the latter is true precisely because of that electoral accountability.

September 16, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , | 3 Comments

Israel bombs Gaza position for an entire hour: Palestinian sources

Press TV – September 7, 2019

Israel has launched a lengthy bombardment of positions in the Gaza Strip, sources inside the besieged enclave say.

Palestinian news agencies said late on Saturday that Israeli airstrikes targeted positions allegedly held by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas north of the Gaza and deep inside the enclave.

Health officials said there were no casualties from the attacks that lasted close to an hour.

Israeli regime sources said the attacks hit Hamas naval facilities on the Mediterranean and two military compounds run by the group in central Gaza.

There was no confirmation from Hamas and its affiliated groups.

The relentless Israeli bombardment came after Hamas launched a drone operation targeting an Israeli military equipment stationed along the border with the occupied Palestinian territories.

It also came a day after Israelis launched attacks on five positions inside Gaza.

Regime sources have claimed the attacks were in response to Hamas operations targeting Israeli settlers and military forces.

However, attacks by Hamas have come in response to regime’s killing of people marching along the border to protest the Israeli occupation.

Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in such attacks by Israeli troops earlier on Friday in clashes that erupted east of the Gaza City.

Some 66 other Palestinians were wounded in Israeli gunfire and other attacks during the anti-occupation protest held the same day.

Hamas has launched two rounds of retaliatory attacks on Israeli positions over the past 48 hours. The group fired five rockets into the occupied territories on Friday night, setting off sirens in Israeli settlements along the Gaza border as well as in the city of Sderot.

The group also responded to Israeli attacks by launching a successful drone operation earlier on Saturday.

The Israeli military confirmed the drone attack inflicted damage to equipment stationed along the border while claiming there were no casualties to its troops.

September 7, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel Actively Pushing Palestinians to Leave Gaza Strip

Palestine Chronicle | August 20, 2019

Israel is actively pushing Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip, asking a number of European and Middle Eastern countries to absorb them and offering to arrange their flights if they agree to emigrate.

The policy was disclosed by a senior official accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a diplomatic visit to Ukraine this week.

The unnamed official told reporters yesterday that Israel is in contact with third countries to see if they would be willing to absorb Palestinians from the besieged enclave, adding that:

“Israel is even willing to arrange transportation for them, at least to one of the airports in the Negev and arrange for them to travel out of the country”.

Israel’s National Security Council has been spearheading the initiative, with Netanyahu’s blessing, for about a year, the Times of Israel reported, citing the official.

The Israeli daily added that the program has also been discussed several times in Israel’s security cabinet.

The official conceded that, thus far, Israel has been unable to find any country willing to cooperate with its initiative, despite speaking to a number of Middle Eastern and European states.

He also claimed that thousands of Gazans are leaving of their own volition, pointing to 35,000 Palestinians who left the Strip in 2018. “That’s a pretty high number,” the official stated, even claiming that those who remain “are being held hostage in Gaza”.

The official, however, failed to mention Israel’s now 12-year-old siege of the Strip – which has devastated its infrastructure, economy, health sector and Palestinians’ livelihoods – or its three assaults on Gaza in the past decade. The UN has predicted that the Strip will be “unliveable” by 2020, calling the fate of Gaza’s some 1.9 million Palestinians into question.

Commentators have slammed the revelation, with Joint List Knesset Member (MK) Yousef Jabareen writing on Twitter: “The country that should welcome Palestinians from Gaza is Israel which, along with its obligation to remove the blockade on Gaza, should respect UN resolutions regarding Palestinian refugees as a part of a just and peaceful solution to the conflict.”

August 20, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

4 Palestinians Killed by Israeli Forces at Gaza Border

By Ali Salam | IMEMC | August 10, 2019

Four Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces for allegedly coming too close to the border fence between Gaza and Israel, east of Dir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, according to Israeli media sources.

Israeli forces stationed along Gaza borders to the east of Khan Younis reportedly opened fire on a group of Palestinians after they allegedly approached the Israeli-installed barbed-wire fence along Gaza’s border with Israel, shooting and killing four.

The identities of the Palestinians remain unknown.

Israeli sources claimed that the group of Palestinians had fired toward the military base at the border, and there was an exchange of fire.

The Israeli Ynetnews said that the Golani Brigades that opened fire on the Palestinians are the same Brigade that came under fire two days ago, when two soldiers were injured.

Following the shooting of the two Palestinians, the Israeli airforce dropped bombs on what they claimed were two observation posts for the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas party.

Military vehicles also invaded the area east of Dir al-Balah and began combing the area.

Israel has imposed a buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip along the border between Gaza and Israel, preventing Palestinians from reaching their lands near the border fence. It regularly opens fire at anyone who enters that buffer zone.

In a fact sheet about Israeli attacks on border areas and their consequences, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said, “preventing Palestinians from accessing their lands and fishing areas violates numerous provisions of international human rights law, including the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health.”

August 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 4 Comments

‘Clear and Decisive Win’: Why Netanyahu Needs a War on Gaza More Than Ever Before

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | August 1, 2019

Media reports of an impending Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip are now a regular occurrence. The frequency of these reports fluctuates based on Israel’s own political landscape.

Empirical experience has taught us that when Israeli leaders are in trouble, they wage a war on Gaza. Now that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing the greatest challenge in his political career, Gaza is bracing for another Israeli war.

The war rumors are no longer just that. Rightwing Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post recently reported that Israel’s military chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, “has already approved operational combat plans and recently set up an administrative unit to handle the formation of a list of potential targets in the coastal enclave for when the next war breaks out.”

The Post’s own military correspondent, Anna Ahronheim concurs, that, indeed, war on Gaza “is not far away.” But unlike previous wars, the upcoming war must “have a clear and decisive win” by Israel so that “the other side will think twice about going to war in the future.”

The fallacy in Ahronheim’s analysis is obvious. Israel always approaches its wars in Gaza with the aim of having a “clear and decisive win”, aims that are often thwarted by strong Palestinian resistance in the besieged and impoverished Strip.

Second, Gaza never initiates wars. The Strip has no army or military strategy beyond self-defense tactics carried out by organized resistance factions, including Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and various PLO groups. However, if Israel thinks that a ‘decisive win’ would eradicate Palestinian resistance, it will be greatly disappointed. Gaza’s resistance, in all of its forms, against Israel and Israeli occupation goes back to the late 1940s. No amount of firepower will ever end this kind of determined resistance.

However, it is likely that Israel measures the decisiveness of its ‘victory’ based on the amount of destruction it is able to inflict on Palestinians.

Marvel at these numbers from the last major Israeli war on Gaza, in 2014, to understand the real target of Israeli wars on the Strip:

According to United Nations figures, more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s so-called “Operation Protective Edge”. The causalities, most of whom were civilians, included 551 children. Moreover, 11,231 were also wounded, and more than 20,000 homes were destroyed. The massive destruction was also aimed at the already ailing infrastructure of impoverished Gaza, reaching schools, hospitals, mosques and even UN shelters.

How more “decisive” must the next Israeli war be so that Israel’s warmongers may feel satisfied that their war achieved its intended objectives?

Israel wants Palestinians to accept their perpetual besiegement, embrace their fate as an occupied nation with no rights, subject to the whims of Israel and its racist, deadly policies.

However, Israeli leaders are now driven by a second objective: winning the upcoming elections.

There is much at stake for Netanyahu and his prospective coalition of rightwing ideologues and religious zealots. Israel has never held two national elections in one year, but this year is an exception.

The April 9 elections failed to achieve a decisive victory for either camp. After weeks of attempting to form a coalition government, Netanyahu accepted the inevitable: another election, which is set for September 17.

But Netanyahu is not only politically embattled. He, along with his family and close aides have been embroiled in a series of corruption charges that could potentially end his political career.

On June 6, Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mandelblit rejected Netanyahu’s bid to postpone for the second time the pre-indictment hearing in the several corruption cases concerning his misconduct while in office.

However, Netanyahu hopes to secure his position at the helm of Israeli politics a while longer, to evade corruption charges, and to eventually strike a deal to drop the charges altogether.

He is desperate to remain a prime minister. For that to happen, he will do whatever it takes to appeal to the most powerful constituency in Israel: the right wing and their religious allies.

For Israel’s right, a war is a normal state of affairs. They seem to acquire their sense of collective safety when Palestinians suffer. And, for months, Israeli rightwing voices calling for war against Gaza have massively amplified.

Even the supposedly sensible political center has joined the chorus, knowing that an anti-war stance in Israel is a losing strategy.

Head of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, who remains Netanyahu’s strongest opponent said in an interview released last May with Channel 13: “We must strike hard, in an uncompromising manner … We must restore the deterrence that has been eroded catastrophically for more than a year.”

Of course, there will be a next war on Gaza. It will be as “decisive” and deadly as Israeli leaders need it to be, to serve their political calculations.

But they must also be aware that wars on Gaza are no longer the cakewalks of the past. The resistance in that small, but unbreakable region, is tougher than it has ever been in the past, a natural outcome of 12 years of a relentless siege, interrupted by massively destructive and lethal military onslaughts.

A war on Gaza will also come with a price for Israel. Are Netanyahu and his government willing to endure the political fallout of another failed war? It all depends on how truly desperate the corrupt Netanyahu is to remain in power and out of prison, at least for a while longer.

 – Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His last book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London).

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Netanyahu Needs a War on Gaza More Than Ever Before

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | July 21, 2019

Media reports of an impending Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip are now a regular occurrence. The frequency of these reports fluctuates based on Israel’s own political landscape.

Empirical experience has taught us that when Israeli leaders are in trouble, they wage a war on Gaza. Now that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing the greatest challenge in his political career, Gaza is bracing for another Israeli war.

The war rumors are no longer just that. Rightwing Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post recently reported that Israel’s military chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, “has already approved operational combat plans and recently set up an administrative unit to handle the formation of a list of potential targets in the coastal enclave for when the next war breaks out.”

The Post’s own military correspondent, Anna Ahronheim concurs, that, indeed, war on Gaza “is not far away.” But unlike previous wars, the upcoming war must “have a clear and decisive win” by Israel so that “the other side will think twice about going to war in the future.”

The fallacy in Ahronheim’s analysis is obvious. Israel always approaches its wars in Gaza with the aim of having a “clear and decisive win”, aims that are often thwarted by strong Palestinian resistance in the besieged and impoverished Strip.

Second, Gaza never initiates wars. The Strip has no army or military strategy beyond self-defense tactics carried out by organized resistance factions, including Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and various PLO groups. However, if Israel thinks that a ‘decisive win’ would eradicate Palestinian resistance, it will be greatly disappointed. Gaza’s resistance, in all of its forms, against Israel and Israeli occupation goes back to the late 1940s. No amount of firepower will ever end this kind of determined resistance.

However, it is likely that Israel measures the decisiveness of its ‘victory’ based on the amount of destruction it is able to inflict on Palestinians.

Marvel at these numbers from the last major Israeli war on Gaza, in 2014, to understand the real target of Israeli wars on the Strip:

According to United Nations figures, more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s so-called “Operation Protective Edge”. The causalities, most of whom were civilians, included 551 children. Moreover, 11,231 were also wounded, and more than 20,000 homes were destroyed. The massive destruction was also aimed at the already ailing infrastructure of impoverished Gaza, reaching schools, hospitals, mosques and even UN shelters.

How much more “decisive” must the next Israeli war be so that Israel’s warmongers may feel satisfied that their war achieved its intended objectives?

Israel wants Palestinians to accept their perpetual besiegement, embrace their fate as an occupied nation with no rights, subject to the whims of Israel and its racist, deadly policies.

However, Israeli leaders are now driven by a second objective: winning the upcoming elections.

There is much at stake for Netanyahu and his prospective coalition of rightwing ideologues and religious zealots. Israel has never held two national elections in one year, but this year is an exception.

The April 9 elections failed to achieve a decisive victory for either camp. After weeks of attempting to form a coalition government, Netanyahu accepted the inevitable: another election, which is set for September 17.

But Netanyahu is not only politically embattled. He, along with his family and close aides have been embroiled in a series of corruption charges that could potentially end his political career.

On June 6, Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mandelblit rejected Netanyahu’s bid to postpone for the second time the pre-indictment hearing in the several corruption cases concerning his misconduct while in office.

However, Netanyahu hopes to secure his position at the helm of Israeli politics a while longer, to evade corruption charges, and to eventually strike a deal to drop the charges altogether.

He is desperate to remain a prime minister. For that to happen, he will do whatever it takes to appeal to the most powerful constituency in Israel: the right wing and their religious allies.

For Israel’s right, a war is a normal state of affairs. They seem to acquire their sense of collective safety when Palestinians suffer. And, for months, Israeli rightwing voices calling for war against Gaza have massively amplified.

Even the supposedly sensible political center has joined the chorus, knowing that an anti-war stance in Israel is a losing strategy.

Head of Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, who remains Netanyahu’s strongest opponent said in an interview released last May with Channel 13: “We must strike hard, in an uncompromising manner … We must restore the deterrence that has been eroded catastrophically for more than a year.”

Of course, there will be a next war on Gaza. It will be as “decisive” and deadly as Israeli leaders need it to be, to serve their political calculations.

But they must also be aware that wars on Gaza are no longer the cakewalks of the past. The resistance in that small, but unbreakable region, is tougher than it has ever been in the past, a natural outcome of 12 years of a relentless siege, interrupted by massively destructive and lethal military onslaughts.

A war on Gaza will also come with a price for Israel. Are Netanyahu and his government willing to endure the political fallout of another failed war? It all depends on how truly desperate corrupt Netanyahu is to remain in power and out of prison, at least for a while longer.

July 21, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

US’ Greenblatt: ‘Israel is victim in conflict with Palestinians’

MEMO | July 18, 2019

The US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, has said that Israel is the “victim” in its conflict with the Palestinians and that he “cannot think of single instances” when Israel made a mistake.

In an interview aired yesterday by US broadcaster PBS, Greenblatt was asked what responsibility Israel bears for its now 71-year-old conflict with the Palestinians. The US envoy replied:

I think that Israel is actually more the victim than the party that’s responsible. From the moment of its formation, they were attacked multiple times. They continue to be attacked with terrorism. So — I’m not sure I understand the premise of the question.

He added that he “cannot think of single instances” in which Israel made a mistake or overstepped its authority, saying: “I think that they’re trying their best to succeed. They have actually succeeded in many ways, especially economically, under very, very trying circumstances.”

Greenblatt also doubled down on previous comments in which he argued Israel’s illegal settlements should be referred to as “neighbourhoods and cities”, saying that the term “settlements” is “pejorative”.

On the occupied West Bank – where over 500 illegal settlements are located – and the besieged Gaza Strip, the envoy said: “I would argue that the land is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiations between the parties. Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict.”

Under international law, both the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain classified as occupied territories.

Greenblatt’s comments are the latest in a series of controversial remarks that have drawn fierce criticism and rebuke of the US envoy.

Earlier this month, Greenblatt came under fire after criticising the Palestinian Authority (PA) for failing to provide adequate funds for a Palestinian child’s blood cancer medication. This came after Gaza-based Palestinian journalist Fathi Sabbah accused PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, and Ahmed Abu Houli, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), of reneging on promises to assist with his daughter Rima’s treatment.

This prompted Greenblatt to write on Twitter: “Mr. Shtayyeh, how about keeping your word & paying for Rima’s treatment? The PA has the funds and it would be a wise and compassionate use of them. Mr. Sabbah, my thoughts are with you and your family. I pray Rima will have a full and speedy recovery.”

Twitter users – including Sabbah – were quick to point out the irony of Greenblatt blaming the PA for the family’s plight while ignoring Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, regular refusal to grant exit visas for medical treatment, and the US’ almost-unconditional support for Israel.

The US envoy – who is one of the chief architects of the US’ long-awaited “deal of the century” – has also made a number of provocative claims about Israel’s policy in the occupied West Bank.

In June, Greenblatt stood behind comments made by US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, in which the latter stated Israel has “the right” to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.

Friedman told the New York Times that “under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank”, provoking international outcry and prompting the Palestinian Foreign Ministry to consider filing a complaint against the ambassador at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Greenblatt backed Friedman’s stance, saying: “I will let David’s comments stand for themselves. I think he said them elegantly and I support his comments.” For his part, Friedman has also refused to back down, since claiming he does “not understand why this issue was faced with such criticism. There is no scenario in which Israel is leaving the whole West Bank.”

His comments have been interpreted as an effort to normalise discussion of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed ahead of the country’s April general election that he would annex the territory if he were re-elected.

Though the political elements of the “deal of the century” have not yet been unveiled, the plan is not expected to demand that Israel dismantle its West Bank settlements. Though the US has not yet changed its policy on annexation, the precedent set by President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli could pave the way for a similar move in the West Bank.

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s Latest ‘Security Problem’: Who’s to Blame for Gaza’s Environmental Crisis

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | July 15, 2019

Writing in The Jewish Journal under the title, “A Spillover Crisis: How Gaza’s Water Shortage Affects Israel”, Dominik Doehler explains the direct link between Gaza’s water problems and Israel.

Doehler offered a scientific explanation behind the besieged Strip’s water crisis, but when it was time to assign responsibility, something went wrong. Instead of recognising how Israel’s war and protracted siege destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, the writer blamed the “ongoing conflict between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority” for Gaza’s suffering.

“Today, those who pay the price of the conflict between the Palestinian factions are the two million people in Gaza,” Doehler writes, without any mention of Israel’s primary role in any of this.

The dishonesty of the writer should not be entirely surprising, considering the biased nature of the publication. This is particularly symptomatic of Israeli and pro-Israeli media which often shy away from acknowledging the facts, but deflect responsibility from Israel, and point the finger of blame on Palestinians only.

That said, it is interesting that Gaza’s growing humanitarian crisis is finally registering in Israel as a pressing problem requiring action. However, it is not the impact of the crisis on the population of Gaza that is sounding the alarm bells in Tel Aviv, but rather the potential environmental damage Gaza’s ongoing misery may cause Israel.

On June 3, researchers from Israel’s Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion universities presented a report commissioned by the environmental organization, EcoPeace Middle East, in which they warned that “the collapsing water, sewage and electricity infrastructure in the Gaza Strip pose a material danger to Israel’s groundwater, seawater, beaches and desalination plants”.

One would expect any report on the environmental situation in Gaza to focus on the fact that nearly two million Palestinians in the Strip are living in inhumane conditions due to a relentless 12-year Israeli blockade and repeated devastating military assaults which are rending the area “uninhabitable by 2020“.

Instead, the report has implied that the residents are solely responsible for the imminent environmental catastrophe in Gaza, which is threatening the security and well-being of Israeli citizens. The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, which published a detailed report on the presentation, also spun the issue as a matter of national security.

But what Israel has now identified as a “national security problem” is indeed a disaster of its own making. The occupation, colonisation, dispossession and aggression against Palestine and the Palestinians have caused untold environmental damage to the extent that now, even the Israeli occupier is suffering.

The environmental situation in Gaza is indeed dire at the moment, but it is not the Palestinians who made it so. Neither the “rapid population growth”, nor neglect or ignorance of residents that are its root causes. Countless reports by the United Nations and other organisations have documented in detail how and why the main culprit is Israel, its violent assaults on Gaza and its merciless siege.

Israeli settlers flood Khan al Ahmar with wastewater [Twitter]

Take the problem of untreated sewage ending up in the sea, which is causing issues for Israeli beach-goers and water desalination plants. The reason why Gaza’s sewage is getting disposed of in this “irresponsible” way is that water treatment plants are not operational; they were targeted in the 2014 Israeli assault on the Strip and were never rebuilt because the Israeli siege does not allow for construction materials and spare parts to be brought in.

Untreated sewage is part of the larger water crisis in Gaza. As the report rightly points out, Gaza residents are overusing the aquifer under the Strip, which has become increasingly contaminated with seawater and chemicals and which constitutes the only source of freshwater for residents because of the involuntary separation with the West Bank.

The reason for Palestinians in Gaza being unable to establish a proper water management system is again Israel’s doing. Israel has repeatedly bombed its water infrastructure, including water pipes, wells and other facilities, and the debilitating Israeli siege has prevented the local authorities from fixing it and building a water desalination plant.

Gaza’s water problem is not only an annoyance for the Israelis but a potential source of an epidemic for the Palestinians. Already, diarrheal diseases have doubled, reaching epidemic levels, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, while salmonella and typhoid fever are also on the rise.

Then there is the problem with rubbish which Palestinians are burning, hence “polluting Israeli air”. As Cambridge University academic, Ramy Salemdeeb, has pointed out, Gaza has been unable to develop a proper waste management system because of economic restrictions due to the Israeli siege and a “limited land availability” because of its isolation from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Given that Israel is a settler-colonial project, the overexploitation of the colonised land to the detriment of the environment and the local population is naturally a part of its modus operandi.

Indeed, all the land Israel has taken and occupied has suffered from environmental degradation in one way or another, with its harmful effects being conveniently shifted towards Palestinians area, villages and cities.

If Israel continues to treat the issue as a “security problem” it will never get resolved because at the heart of it is the destructive logic of a colonial enterprise which seeks to exploit both land and people with no regard for nature and human wellbeing.

In other words, Israel will never achieve security – environmental or otherwise – as long as it continues to oppress the Palestinians, occupy their land and ravage the environment. Israeli air, water and the overall environment will never be immune from the Israeli-made disasters in occupied Palestine. 

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli ‘solution’ for Gaza includes massive military offensive and move to Sinai

MEMO | July 1, 2019

Two Israeli officials have proposed a “solution” for the Gaza Strip which includes another massive military offensive against the enclave and moving the Palestinians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Arabi21.com reported on Sunday. The end of the government led by Mahmoud Abbas is also suggested in a report published by the Jerusalem Institute for Public and State Affairs.

The purpose of the proposal is to make the humanitarian crisis in Gaza even worse, prompting a military confrontation. Its authors are Shimon Shapira, a former military secretary to Israel’s Prime Minister, and Shlomi Fogel, an official who has proposed numerous initiatives related to the Arab world. The phase which would follow the offensive would be based on economic and commercial development for Sinai backed by Egypt.

According to Shapira and Fogel, Gaza is still a crisis issue for Israel and the international community. They refer to a report issued by the International Bank in 2018 which said that Gaza’s economy is failing.

Saving Gaza will not be easy, the report claims, because Hamas, which controls Gaza, is seen by the US, EU and Israel as a “terrorist group”, while its ideological parent, the Muslim Brotherhood, is also regarded as a “terrorist” movement by a number of Arab states. Furthermore, the Gaza Strip and its residents have faced three massive Israeli military offensives against the largely civilian population since Hamas won the last Palestinian elections in 2006 and took full control of the coastal territory a year later.

The report describes the failure to deal with Gaza as a “ticking bomb”, not only for Israel, but also for the other countries in the region, including Egypt. It suggests an international aid package for Egypt coming mainly from the US and Gulf States to develop the infrastructure in Sinai. This, it is proposed, will help Egyptian workers by giving them work and improving their life, and will, it is believed, deter them from joining Daesh or attacking the Egyptian army. Workers from Gaza will also benefit.

As well as developing the port at El-Arish, Shapira and Fogel suggest the building of an airport for goods and passenger transport, as well as a new power plant run on Egyptian natural gas, a desalination plant and a railway from Gaza to the North Sinai coastal city.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Justice is still being sought nine years after Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara

By Gülden Sönmez | MEMO | June 19, 2019

On 31 May, 2010, Israel carried out a deadly attack on human rights activists trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip. After boarding the Mavi Marmara during a dawn raid whilst it was sailing in international waters, Israeli soldiers killed nine aid workers and injured several others; one of those injured succumbed to his wounds a few years later. The assault was met with international outrage, but nine years on the victims of the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla are still seeking justice. I was on board the Mavi Marmara on that day and witnessed the ordeal of my fellow passengers. Since then, as a lawyer, I have been working closely with the victims in their quest for justice.

The victims of the attack and their families took their case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). On 14 May 2013, an application was made to the ICC on behalf of the Comoros, where the Mavi Marmara was registered, against several Israeli politicians and military officials. These included the late Shimon Peres, who was President of Israel at the time, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They were accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

In her first decision on 6 November 2014, the ICC Prosecutor stated that war crimes had been committed by Israel, describing the attack as “wilful killing and causing serious injury to body and health, and committing outrages upon personal dignity.” All of the passengers taking part in the Flotilla had the status of protected civilians under international law and the Israeli soldiers carried out the attack despite knowing that the passengers were civilians. The Prosecutor objected to Israel’s claims of self-defence by stating that, “The autopsy reports of those killed indicate that they have received multiple shots in the head, legs and neck and at least five of the passengers who were killed were shot at close range.”

Despite finding evidence to indicate that crimes may have been committed by Israel, the Prosecutor refused to open an investigation into the attack on the basis that it did not carry sufficient “gravity” to justify further action by the Court. Following an appeal by the lawyers of the Mavi Marmara victims, the Court concluded that the Prosecutor had erred in her decision.

In a decision issued on 15 November 2018, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber once again found that the Prosecutor was wrong and ordered her to reconsider. It also requested the Prosecutor to reach a final decision by 15 May 2019 to prevent any further delay to the process. The ICC Prosecutor appealed against this decision, following which the ICC Appeals Chamber decided to hold a hearing on 1 May 2019 to hear from the Prosecutor as well as the lawyers acting for the victims of the Israeli attack. The families of the victims as well as representatives from the Flotilla were present in the hearing. The victims have expressed concern over the Prosecutor’s stance in this process, claiming that that she may be caving-in to external pressure.

These concerns were reinforced recently when US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened the ICC. “If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies,” the right-wing hawk warned, “we will not sit quietly. The United States will retaliate by banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the US, imposing sanctions.” The victims responded by calling on relevant bodies to safeguard the Court’s freedom and allow it to do its job.

The fate of our case at the ICC will now not be known until September, when the ICC will deliver its judgment from the hearing concerning the procedural conduct of the case. We are hopeful that the Prosecutor and the Court will initiate this investigation freely as a matter of justice. It should not be forgotten that the ICC is the most precious hope of humanity and the victims of state terrorism and crimes against humanity.

The ICC, though, is not our only hope for justice. The victims have pursued their quest in countries with universal jurisdiction and legislation that is applicable to our case. In Spain, a criminal complaint has been launched by Spanish citizens who were on board the Mavi Marmara. The legal process has been carried out with difficulties due to the pressure applied by Israel. However, a case was finally filed at the country’s High Court, which issued an arrest warrant for seven people, including Netanyahu, Ehud Barak — Israel’s Minister of Defence at the time — and several other senior military and political officials. Our campaign prompted legislative changes in Spain which have blunted universal jurisdiction provisions and, consequently, the chance for victims of crimes against humanity being able to obtain justice.

In America, our case has also faced challenges. The family of Furkan Doğan, a US citizen who was killed during the raid on the Mavi Marmara, filed a case at the US District Court for the Central District of California. Ehud Barak was called to appear before the court to be tried for planning and ordering the crimes, including the unlawful attack on civilians and intentionally killing Doğan in international waters, as well as the crimes of international terrorism, torture, mistreatment, cruel treatment and unjust detention.

The US State Department informed the Doğan family lawyers through the court that Barak enjoyed diplomatic immunity. In the first hearing on procedure, which took place on 22 July 2016, the Israeli lawyers argued that an agreement had already been reached between Turkey and Israel. The court decided that the case could not proceed further. Following this, an appeal was made by the Doğan legal team. No decision has yet been made on the appeal.

In a separate lawsuit, three American citizens who were on board the US-flagged Challenger I, which was part of the Flotilla, filed a case in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against the State of Israel for the losses suffered during the attack. US Counsel for the Plaintiffs, Steven Schneebaum, said that, “States are generally immune from suit in United States courts. But that immunity is waived in a number of circumstances. When agents of foreign governments commit wrongful acts in the United States that cause personal injury, and egregious acts against US nationals anywhere in the world, they are not entitled to immunity. We contend that both of those exceptions apply to the facts of this case.”

Professor Ralph Steinhardt, a leading international law expert at George Washington University and member of the Plaintiffs’ legal team added that, “The attack on Challenger I was a patent violation of international law, including the laws of war, human rights and the law of the sea. It falls to the courts of the United States to enforce the rules when – as here – Congress has given jurisdiction to those courts.”

However, as a result of the pressure and efforts of the pro-Israel lobby, this court did not open a case against the State of Israel.

Nevertheless, similar cases are also proceeding in South Africa, Turkey and Britain, where a complaint has been made to the Crown Prosecution Service and the police by lawyers acting on behalf of Mavi Marmara victims who are British citizens. Named in the complaint are Israel’s then Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi; the then Naval Forces Commander, Vice Admiral, Eliezer Marom; Air Forces Intelligence Director Brigadier General Avishai Levi; the then Chief of IDF Military Intelligence, Amos Yadlin; and five officers, including one of the commandos involved in the attack, Tal Russo.

An independent UN report concluded that the attack on the aid Flotilla was a severe violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law. After listing the various crimes committed by Israel it said that, “There is clear evidence to support prosecutions of the following crimes within the terms of article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention…” The UN called upon the ICC to take action. In addition, Sir Desmond De Silva, former International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor for Sierra Leone later expressed his opinion that the attack should be tried by the ICC. The UN report was formally adopted on 27 September, 2010, but little has been done since.

All of the victims of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara and the rest of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla deserve justice for crimes carried out in international waters which clearly broke international laws and conventions. We will continue to seek justice in each and every court possible, no matter where it is in the world.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disinformation and False Accusations of Anti-Semitism

Permitting Israel’s Slow Motion Genocide of Palestinians

By Heather Stroud | Dissident Voice | June 16, 2019

The smearing of George Galloway and widely reported disinformation that there was no evidence to support the claim that Viva Palestina delivered aid, raises serious concerns, not just in this case, but far beyond.

It is seriously disturbing how disinformation and lazy ‘cut and paste’ journalism has become common place within the monopoly media of the UK. One wonders where the professional and serious investigative reporting of old has gone.

With regard to the ‘possibly liable’ headlines of several national newspapers: Gaza charity ‘may have delivered no aid’ ‘no evidence of charitable activity’ and so forth…, as a participant of  the Viva Palestina Convoy 2009/10, I can confirm that not only was medical aid delivered to Gaza, there is significant evidence to support this. The medical supplies were, in fact, accurately documented as required and submitted to customs officials in the countries we passed through. So, why didn’t the charities commission, the government and the mainstream journalists find any evidence? Why didn’t they speak to any of the hundreds of witnesses who would likely be willing to testify in a court of law, were they called upon to do so.

My conclusion is that they didn’t look, which brings us to the more serious question: why didn’t they look?

It doesn’t take much imagination to consider why journalists and career politicians might have chosen not to look. It is frightening to consider how we have allowed ourselves to slide into this Orwellian condition of cognitive dissonance where investigative journalists and publishers are punished, criminalised and imprisoned for writing the truth, while the commonplace peddling of disinformation is rewarded.

To quote from George Orwell; “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Julian Assange understands this more than most.

I’m not an investigative journalist; however, as a concerned citizen, my first question would be: Who were the people within the Charities Commission that instigated ‘Viva Palestina’ (a campaigning group), to register as a charity.

I remember that none of the participants of the convoy considered what we were doing as charity. Palestinians are not looking for charity. They want a political solution that offers dignity, freedom and justice. It was this political solution we were attempting to achieve by driving the convoy of politically decorated ambulances overland to Gaza. The symbolism of taking medical supplies was the powerful message that drew people from their homes to wave their support as we drove by.

Further questions we should all ask: “What was the motive in forcing a campaigning group to register as though it were a charity? Were those behind this move politically motivated in any way?”

Given all the false charges of anti-Semitism directed against George Galloway and many other outspoken critics of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, it is credible to surmise that there ‘might’ have been political motives behind, not only forcing ‘Viva Palestina’ to fall under the power of the charities commission, but also the later investigation and false accusation – delivered ten years after the event: ‘of the probability that no aid was delivered’.

Seriously, such throw away meaningless phrases such as.., ‘may not have’ ‘high likely’ … whatever happened to evidence-based accusations?

The convoys of ambulances packed with medical supplies, (Viva Palestina 2009) grew out of an inspirational idea put forward by George Galloway. Both within the UK and indeed globally, individuals were/and continue to be shocked by the brutal attacks on a largely defenceless population living under siege in Gaza. The Israeli ‘Operation Cast Lead’ of 2008/9 left around 1,440 people dead and many more thousand injured. Ten years on, Gaza continues to face a slow genocide so the motivation to place blame on those who speak out about these outrageous war crimes and crimes against humanity, are well entrenched within the establishment and media.

The aims of Viva Palestina were threefold: besides delivering ambulances and medical supplies to Gaza by driving across Europe, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt in convoy, our aim was to raise awareness as to the desperate plight of the Gazan people. The medical supplies will have been used up long ago; however, our intended aim of  raising awareness and demonstrating love and solidarity toward the Palestinians is enduring.

Viva Palestina was not one person. It was an inspirational campaigning umbrella for more than a hundred and ten different groups that comprised around 500 people from an international collective of around 17 different nationalities. The largest contingent participating in the convoy came from UK, followed by Turkey, Malaysia, and Jordanian doctors.

I was one of four who represented the people of York. Besides contributing our own money we fundraised locally and were responsible for our own financial accounting. Although it’s credible to believe that £1M was around the total sum of aid delivered, other than the international groups none of the local UK groups would have individually met the threshold of the £25,000.00 that was the excuse to force charity status on us. Our first purchase was an ambulance for which we paid £6,000.00. Having acquired the ambulance money came in more readily and we were able to purchase medical supplies, a defibrillator, and a second hand dialysis machine. This we handed over personally to doctors from the Red Crescent in Gaza. However spurious claims that we might have handed over aid (aid that we supposedly didn’t have) to ‘the ruling government’ are misleading and disingenuous. Hamas is the democratically elected government of Palestine. Just like our government which has a financial responsibility toward the NHS, Hamas finances the main Al Shifa Hospital, along with a responsibility for the health services of the population of Gaza. Had we handed our ambulance and medical supplies over to them, as many did, this would have been absolutely legitimate.

In a report put out by the UK government based on the charity commissions findings, it is stated that trustees of Viva Palestina were found lacking in their assessment of the risks. I should add that all participants were aware that there were risks. It was discussed prior to departure of the convoy and during the journey on several occasions. Given the Egyptian military siege that took place in El Arish against all participants of the convoy, it would have been comforting to think our government thought well enough of us, to have made some diplomatic gesture toward protecting us. The only response I am aware of from them was: “You were advised not to go. You are on your own.” Maybe behind the scenes they said something, but we were certainly not aware of it.

In contrast it was evident that the Turkish Government, the Malaysian Government and others, did take diplomatic steps to offer assistance to their citizens and as a result the military confrontation and siege ended with few casualties. Sadly this was not the case at the Rafa borders where Palestinians gathered in protest of our coming under siege by the Egyptian military. One Egyptian soldier was killed and a Palestinian was shot in the legs. If a reminder were needed, this tragedy reflects the brutality of conflict in this area of the world and what Palestinians in Gaza face on a daily basis.

We have normalised wars waged against civilians as though this were a natural condition of being human. Gaza continues to face a slow genocide, so the motivation for Palestinians during this current ‘Great March of Return’ arrives out of a sense of despair as they witness their country being steadily stolen away. Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel simply added fuel to an already simmering anger. This desperate act of resistance arises in the belief that it is better to die in dignity than to die slowly on one’s knees.

The courage of the Palestinians comes from the belief that their individual death might trigger a global outrage that will finally bring justice and freedom for the children of their community. The realisation of this belief is slow in coming; however, it’s this faith in our common humanity that gives them the courage to transcend fear. It was this same faith that persuaded us to undertake the long journey across Europe and beyond in hopes of stirring a conscious awakening of decent people to this injustice.

In contrast to our good will, disinformation and labels function as a way of de-legitimising genuine resistance to injustice, resistance to the theft of one’s land, the theft of one’s freedom, and resistance to the theft of many lives… resistance to all that is inherently wrong.

Palestinians and their democratically elected government, Hamas, are frequently described as terrorists by Israel, UK and its politically ideological Zionist supporters; however, when Israel bombs Gaza and drops white phosphorous on its civilian population, it is stated that Israel is defending itself.

Labels and calculated disinformation function as a way of diverting attention  from legitimate outrage. People are afraid of the slurs and negative labels that might be attached to them; in the case of supporting Palestinians one is charged with being anti-Semitic. We just have to look at how these attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, George Galloway and the participants of Viva Palestina, to see how labels, false charges and calculated disinformation have become weaponised.

Labels don’t need truth to stick. Like lies they just have to be said often enough and with enough force to be intimidating and carry the power to turn a contrived falsehood into a popularly held truth. A false label is like the smelly stuff that clings to the bottom of your shoe if you are unfortunate enough to walk on the wrong part of the pavement. Evidently, George Galloway, like Jeremy Corbyn and all those of us on the Viva Palestina Convoy, have trodden in the wrong place by our physical endeavour to demonstrate an ongoing injustice and an unpalatable truth into the reaches of power.

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment