Saturday, 21 March 2009

Our ambassador to Poland


[ 21/03/2009 - 04:59 PM ]

Comment by Khalid Amayreh

Many of our so-called ambassadors around the world are really unqualified for the job. They simply lack the required professionalism and experience to communicate the plight of our people and justice of our national cause to a world community that is heavily bombarded by Zionist lies around the clock.

I say “so-called” because we are not a state, or even a quasi-state, to have luxurious embassies which fruitlessly consume a significant chunk of our scant financial resources.

Added to that is the too-well-known fact that most of these “ambassadors” are chosen rather haphazardly irrespective of their abilities and qualifications. Some of these actually don’t speak English and their knowledge of international politics is minimal or nonexistent.

Hence, instead of being misrepresented by these flamboyant and often ineffective money-grabbing operatives, who spend much of their time throwing parties and visiting local bars, we should post in the capitals of the world professional spokespersons, fluent in foreign languages, who can effectively and eloquently communicate the truth about Israeli barbarianism.

Still there are more serious problems involving clearly improper behavior on the part of some of our diplomats.

According to reports from Warsaw, our ambassador to Poland (I don’t want to mention his name) threw a farewell party in honor of his Zionist friend, the Israeli ambassador to Poland David Pylgaeim (sic) on the occasion of the latter’s end of term.

I don’t have all the details of this most dishonorable behavior on the part of the ambassador who on several occasions denounced Palestinian resistance to Israeli Nazism as “violence and terror.”

However, if these reports which I have received from reliable sources in Warsaw are proven accurate, then the PLO which claims to be the “sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” should take a swift decision to sack and punish this man.

Socializing amicably with the representative of a Nazi-like state, whose SS-like army, has just reduced the Gaza Strip to ruins and exterminated and incinerated thousands of Palestinian civilians with White Phosphorus and dart shells, implies that the Palestinian representative in Warsaw is either habitually drunk, blackmailed, ignorant or traitor, characters each of which is sufficient to get him sacked immediately.

It means that the ambassador doesn’t take the blood of the 1400 Palestinians slaughtered by the Jewish Wehrmacht seriously. It means that he is thoroughly preoccupied with his own morbid whims, such as endearing himself to Zionist circles.

Such behavior by the very man who is supposed to represent his people and champion their cause is nothing short of a cancer upon the collective conscience of our people.

I don’t know if this ambassador and his despicable behaviors represent the norm or the exception among Palestinian diplomats.

However, one can hardly rest assured, pretending that things are alright.

This writer has been told by confidential and reliable sources that some of our diplomats are heavy drinkers who often indulge in promiscuous conduct, which clearly makes them vulnerable to blackmail by the Mossad and other intelligence apparatuses.

This is of course in addition to indulging in a behavior unbecoming a dignified Palestinian, let alone a dignified Muslim.

I have also been told that a good number of our diplomats indulge in illegal business activities in violation of their diplomatic status.

Unfortunately, the PLO leadership in Ramallah is utterly ignoring this matter that causes immense damage to our reputation, dignity and national interests. Indeed, as far as I know, our Zionist-friendly ambassador has been neither rebuked nor reprimanded by his “bosses” in Ramallah, which amounts to giving him a green light to indulge in a fresh scandal.

Afif Safya

Afif Safya is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable Palestinian diplomats. He had served as PLO representative in London, Washington and most recently in Moscow. He appeared numerous times on western TV screens explaining rather eloquently the Palestinian people’s struggle against Israeli Nazism, often prompting Zionist circles to ask the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat to fire him.

Arafat refused, but his successor, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, seems to hate to see a dignified and capable Palestinian diplomat carry out his tasks professionally and successfully.

A few weeks ago, Abbas reportedly arbitrarily fired Safya from his post for attending a Moscow rally protesting the recent Israeli blitzkrieg against Gaza.

According to the London-based newspaper, al-Qods al-Arabi, Safya protested the decision, explaining that in his capacity as the Palestinian ambassador to Russia, he attended the rally which focused on the criminal Zionist invasion of the Gaza Strip which left hundreds of Palestinians murdered and maimed.

Again, if this is true, then the depravity of the PLO leadership must have reached unprecedented levels bordering on treason.

This is also another important reason that the PLO leadership must be overthrown and replaced by another leadership that is answerable to the Palestinian people.

Israel Intentionally Undermined Obama's Outreach To Iran


In the PULSE, here

"Yesterday, when the New York Times inexplicably gave Shimon Peres' insulting message to Iran equal play with President Obama''s, I thought it might be no coincidence.

Peres, who is an uberhawk on Iran, suddenly sends "greetings" to the Iranian people urging them to rise up against their government at the same moment that Obama respectfully addressed the "Islamic Republic of Iran" with the most conciliatory US message in decades. Coincidence? Maybe.

Of course, the Iranians would not view it that way. They would see America and Israel playing "good cop, bad cop," diminishing the effect of Obama's remarkable overture.

I hear that the White House is furious.

Today's Times reports that when asked about the Israeli move, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "I know we notified our allies about our message last evening," saying he did not know if the Israelis had been notified. ...Of course, they were. No other ally is as concerned about Iran as Israel so Jerusalem must have been at the top of the list of those notified. Did it respond with a hasty and insulting message iin order to kill the effect of President Obama's? If so, it was a serious breach. If the shoe was on the other foot, Jerusalem would go ballistic.

Some reporter needs to develop a tick-tock on this one. We need to know what happened. If it was an innocent coincidence, fine. If it wasn't, it bodes ill for any US attempt to mend relations with Iran (and prevent an Iranian bomb diplomatically rather than by attempting and failing through military means)."

Posted by G, Z, & or B at 11:22 AM

Nakhala: Qurei asked for "crystal-clear" recognition of Israel

Nakhala: Qurei asked for "crystal-clear" recognition of Israel

[ 21/03/2009 - 09:00 AM ]

LONDON, (PIC)-- Ahmed Qurei, the leader of the Fatah faction's delegation to the Cairo inter-Palestinian reconciliation dialog, has demanded the formation of a PA government with a political program carrying a "crystal-clear recognition of Israel", Ziad Al-Nakhala, the deputy secretary general of the Islamic Jihad Movement, revealed.

Nakhala in a press statement published on Saturday in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper quoted Qurei as saying that without such recognition the government would not be able to win international support or lift the siege on Gaza.

He said that Fatah refused a proposal by the Islamic Jihad Movement and the PFLP to form a PA transitional government without any political program but rather with the sole mission of breaking the siege and reconstructing Gaza.

The Jihad leader said that Hamas advocated a political program based on the Makkah agreement with Fatah but the latter demanded a more "flexible" political program that would declare abidance by the PLO commitments to facilitate lifting of the siege on Gaza.

He underlined that his movement would not join the PLO "unless we shared in drafting its political program", and added that all factions were waiting for the return of Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman from Washington hoping that he would bridge the gap and table a compromise solution.

Hamas threatens to capture more Israelis

Hamas threatens to capture more Israelis
Sat, 21 Mar 2009 00:59:14 GMT

Hamas' political chief Khalid Mashaal
Hamas warns it may capture more Israeli soldiers as a last option after a Tel Aviv committee urged pressure on Israeli-held Palestinian inmates.

On Friday, the Palestinian resistance movement said Tel Aviv's non-contribution to a prisoner exchange between the two sides may leave the group no choice but to seize more Israeli troopers.

"When they refuse to release Palestinians, it forces the Palestinians to resort to other means to gain their release - and inevitably this includes the capture of more Israeli soldiers," said Hamas' political leader Khalid Mashaal in an interview with the Australian daily The Sydney Morning Herald.

The comments came after an Israeli committee, tasked with examining the conditions of confinement of nearly 11,500 Palestinian prisoners, urged the government to build up pressure on the inmates to force the release of Gilad Shalit -- the Israeli soldier captured in 2006 by Gazan fighters.

The two sides have so far failed to agree on a swap deal which would see Shalit's release in exchange for the freedom of 1,450 Palestinian prisoners.

Following Shalit's capture, Israel acted to almost block the flow of direly-needed supplies into the Gaza Strip before placing the coastal area under a stifling blockade in 2007. Tel Aviv claimed its actions were a response to alleged rocket attacks by Hamas on southern Israel.

In July 2007, Israel agreed to open the region's border-crossings in exchange for progress in resolution of the prisoner ordeal and cessation of the rocket attacks. Tel Aviv, however, failed to live up to the promise.

"Israel was supposed to end the siege and open the border crossings in return for a halt to the rockets; the rockets stopped, but the siege remained and the crossings stayed closed," Mashaal added.

"It's unfair to ask Palestinians if they want to die slowly under siege or quickly under fire," concluded the Hamas leader who himself survived an assassination attempt by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in 1997.


Hebrew paper: Israel should bow to Hamas's conditions on Shalit

[ 20/03/2009 - 05:22 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Hebrew Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper has asserted Thursday that all events indicate that Hamas Movement emerged victorious in the latest war in Gaza Strip, and that the Israeli occupation authority should bow to the Movement's conditions for swapping prisoners.

In an article it published Thursday, the popular paper highlighted the necessity to release Palestinian captives in Israeli jails based on the list submitted by Hamas, adding that the harm inflicted and could be inflicted on the Hebrew state as a result of the failure of the swap deal would be greater than Hamas's losses.

The paper, in this regard, urged the IOA to acknowledge the defeat in Gaza, and to stop deceiving the Israeli occupation army soldiers, stressing, "Israel won't be able to free Gilad Shalit neither by pressuring Hamas nor by going to another military operation in Gaza Strip".

It added that Hamas Movement, the strongest in the Palestinian arena, would exert more efforts to capture more Israeli soldiers to swap them with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in the event the IOA continued to refuse Hamas's conditions.

"Defeated Israel should bow its head and surrendering Palestinian captives to Hamas Movement, and Israeli leaders and officials must stop playing the role of heroes at the expense of Shalit", the paper concluded.

Shalit was captured in June 2006 from his tank in a qualitative operation that was carried out by Palestinian resistance fighters from three Palestinian factions led by Hamas.

Since then, the IOA spared no effort in locating him using its intelligence networks, in addition to its agents in the Gaza Strip but to no avail.

Ayatollah Khameneir: No change in hostile US policy

Leader: No change in hostile US policy
Sat, 21 Mar 2009 09:01:50 GMT

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution says the US has showed no sign of real change in its hostile attitude toward the Iranian nation.

Addressing masses of people in the holy city of Mashhad on the occasion of Nowruz (the Iranian New Year), Ayatollah Khamenei said the US has mistreated the Islamic Republic, which will not be forgotten by the Iranian nation.

Ayatollah Khamenei said the US has not showed any sign of 'genuine' change in its 'hostile' policy toward the country, reiterating Washington has only changed its 'tone' on Iran.

The Leader's remarks came a day after US President Barack Obama addressed the Iranian nation and leaders in videotaped message on the occasion of Nowruz.

In the message released on Friday, President Obama said he was ready to bring 'new beginnings' to the relations with the Islamic Republic, promising 'constructive ties' with the country.

He said his new administration was committed to 'diplomacy' with Iran. He, however, echoed US old accusations against Iran, saying Tehran had 'a choice' to abandon what Washington considers as Iran's effort to sponsor terrorism throughout the world.

The Leader added the US has repeatedly 'insulted' the Iranian nation and has threatened the country with military strikes under various pretexts, which cannot 'intimidate' the Iranian nation.

Ayatollah Khamenei said the US has been a 'challenging test' for Iran since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 by practicing a 30-year animosity toward the country.

Referring to the starting point of the US animosity toward the Iranian nation, the Leader said "the US provoked anti-Iran groups in any part of the country where subversive actions were initiated to disintegrate the country".

Ayatollah Khamenei also condemned the US support of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the war with Iran which dragged for eight years.

"Saddam Hussein could not have attacked Iran if Washington had not given him the green light."

The Leader also blamed Washington for downing Iran's passenger plane in 1988 by a US warship in which all 290 people on board were killed.

Iran and the US have had no diplomatic ties for thirty years after the Islamic Revolution toppled a US-allied monarch in the country in 1979.

Since then, the US has imposed different sanctions against the country for allegations including sponsoring terrorism and pursuing a military nuclear work.


Baraka: Testimonies of Israeli soldiers enough to indict their leaders

Baraka: Testimonies of Israeli soldiers enough to indict their leaders

[ 20/03/2009 - 02:18 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Arab member in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) MP Mohammed Baraka has asserted Thursday that the testimonies of Israeli soldiers who participated in the war on Gaza could serve as clear and irrefutable evidence to indict the Israeli occupation leaders of war crimes.

The Hebrew Haaretz newspaper published testimonies of a number of Israeli soldiers who took part in the monstrous Israeli war on Gaza, proving that the IOF troops targeted and killed Palestinian civilians intentionally, and with blessing from their commanders.

"Today, we read only little of the many things we know about the war crimes committed by the Israeli soldiers in Gaza Strip with clear and direct orders from the Israeli occupation government, the Israeli war minister, and the army leadership", underlined Baraka, describing the soldiers' confessions as "self-indicting" evidences.

Baraka said that Israeli occupation leaders should be put on trial for the war crimes they had committed against the Palestinian civilians, deprecating the international community's position that did not even blame Israel.

In this regard, the MP said that a single decision by the international community to prosecute Israeli leaders could help stop the daily Israeli crimes and aggressions against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, urging the world public opinion to pressure for halting those Israeli crimes.

On Thursday, testimonies of a number of Israeli soldiers were published in the Haaretz newspaper, narrating ugly crimes they had committed against Palestinian families, children, and elderly people, including killing a mother and her two children in cold blood after they detained them for days in their home.

"I don’t think that the soldier was unhappy about what he has done because, for him, what he has done was based on orders given to him by his superiors", one of the Israeli infantry commanders was quoted by the paper as acknowledging that cruel crime.

The testimonies also show that an Israeli sniper requested his commander to shoot and kill an elderly Palestinian woman standing only 100 meters away from him, which the commander approved, and the woman was indeed shot dead by the soldier.

The Israeli occupation government and Israeli military leaders repeatedly alleged that the IOF troops followed ethics of engagement during the war on Gaza; but the testimonies of their own soldiers constituted a big blow to their allegations, and exposed Israel's ugly face in deliberately killing children and innocent civilians.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Could someone translate these shirts for me?

Abbas fires ambassador to Moscow for attending Hamas's rally on Gaza

Abbas fires ambassador to Moscow for attending Hamas's rally on Gaza

[ 20/03/2009 - 02:23 PM ]

MOSCOW, (PIC)-- The veteran Palestinian diplomat Afif Safia, who serves as Palestine ambassador in Moscow was "arbitrarily" fired from his post by former PA chief and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas for attending a rally organized by Hamas Movement on Gaza tragedy, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper revealed Thursday.

According to the paper, Safia protested the decision and sent an official protest petition to Abbas, explaining that in his capacity as the Palestinian ambassador in Russia, he attended the rally which focused on the brutal Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip that left 1500 Palestinians dead, 6000 wounded, and tens of thousands of families homeless.

He was quoted as saying that he would serve Palestine at any time and in any place, although he prefers to remain at his current post as ambassador.

The security officer in the PA embassy in Moscow sent a report to Ramallah, criticizing and accusing Safia of publicly praising Hamas, which was immediately reacted upon by the Ramallah authority and ordered Safia out of his post, the paper added.

In his speech during the Hamas-organized rally, Safia stressed that the great sacrifices of the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip and the victory they was achieved on the Israeli occupation army requires different approach and performance on the part of Ramallah authority.

Gaza; Armed and dangerous

As I write, we can hear the dull thud of explosions in the distance. Israeli air strikes continue to blast targets in southern Gaza.

While the US military behemoth is by far the world’s largest, looked at a different way, a per capita military spending infographic reveals that it is far exceeded by israel. This also aligns with the observation that the zionist entity is a military attached to a state rather than a state with a military. I’ll wager the Saudi Arabian arms purchases are largely from the US and serve to recycle the petrodollars from US consumption. From Princeton’s International Networks Archive (click here for full enlarged graphic).


The Tunnels of Gazza............


Sherlock Hommos
Presents !!!

The IDF has found the plans to the Gazza-Tunnels
in which heroism was smuggled out of Gaza ,
into Egypt .

and here is a photo of a major suspect
believed to be Mr. Ismael Hanniyah
who has, obviously, lost weight ,here
due to the blockade on Gazza
and has now grown a beard.

here are some of the Hamas Terrorists
plotting their next bombing of innocent- Israeli-civilians

the new
UN-reconstruction's plans
for the Rafah-Border-Crossing

The Chief Prison's guard
the moustache , here, is a fake
but the uniform is real

The Prison's nurse
( still a virgin!! )
she falls in love with
Steve Mac.Hanniyah's rat
at the end of the film,
but that rat doesn't want her
so it marries Abbas !!

The End

Tickets on Sales
at nearest US-Embassy !!

Nominated for 5 Oscars !!
Best Massacre
Best co-production
Best reporters-absence
Best real-time-genocide
Best original-scenario

parental-guidance required

Posted by Тлакскала at 4:05 PM

The Most Humane Military Passes Out T-Shirts Celebrating Civilian Deaths


By Will

Israeli soldiers finishing training were given these stylish t-shirts. The shirts make light of shooting pregnant Palestinian mothers and children and include images of dead babies and destroyed mosques. There were other equally offensive designs described in the Haaretz article.

revelations by Israeli soldiers portraying official orders to explicitly target civilians, it makes one wonder just what Israel has to do to be the subject of war crimes investigations. The army is now bragging about war crimes on t-shirts!

Adam at Mondoweiss, covered this well and has pictures from the Haaretz Hebrew edition.

[tarboush tip: GSI Nimr and Light]

Racist and sexist Israeli military shirts show the mindset that led to war crimes in Gaza

From Guangzhou to Gaza -- underground

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 20 March 2009

Mohamed Ahmed, 29, is manager of "PC World" computer shop in Rimal, Gaza City. The shop supplies Gaza residents with computers and IT equipment that enters Gaza via tunnels from Egypt. Equipment is often damaged by the trip through the tunnels. (Erica Silverman/IRIN)
GAZA CITY (IRIN) - The main kitchenware supplier in Gaza, al-Dahshan Company, last received a shipment from Israel over two years ago through the Karni crossing.

Karni, the only commercial crossing with the facilities to allow large numbers of trucks to enter Gaza, has been closed since June 2007 except for the conveyor belt that operates for grain deliveries.

"I only have 20 percent of my goods in stock, there are no plates, glasses or mugs," said owner Jalal al-Dahshan from his distribution centre in Saha, Gaza City's main commercial district. "Two years ago six teacups cost $1. Today they cost $5." Al-Dahshan supplies about 100 shops in Gaza.

Jalal's father, Nahed, runs their sister company, MN International al-Dahshan, from the Guangzhou free trade zone in China.

"There are about 35 Gazan companies with offices in China," according to an MN International al-Dahshan representative in Guangzhou, who spoke to IRIN on the phone on condition of anonymity.

Goods from Guangzhou take a circuitous route before reaching Gaza, according to the representative: Shipped first to Port Said, a duty-free port in northeastern Egypt, they are then taken to the Egyptian side of Rafah, via al-Arish, before being smuggled into Gaza by tunnel.

"Each small box costs $30 to enter Gaza via tunnel and there are about 4,000 boxes per container," said the representative. He reckoned about 400 Chinese companies exported goods to Gaza, including IT products, furniture and clothing.

Vital lifeline

The tunnels remain a vital lifeline for Gazans, supplying the market with goods restricted from entering Gaza through the Israeli-controlled crossings, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

However, "tunnel products" are poor quality and expensive, according to Gaza residents.

Since the Israeli blockade of Gaza in June 2007, the tunnels have increasingly been used to send in humanitarian items, including medical supplies, fuel and food products.

The Gaza government's head of borders and crossings, Ghazi Hamad, told IRIN: "Hygiene products like soap, shampoo and washing powder only come from the tunnels." OCHA field officer in Gaza Hamada al-Bayari said no IT supplies enter Gaza via Israel, implying that if they came in at all, it was by tunnel.

Israel routinely retaliates against cross-border rocket fire by bombing the tunnels, which it says are being used by Hamas to smuggle weapons, according to announcements made by the Israeli military emailed to journalists.

During the 22-day Israeli offensive which ended on 18 January 2009 many tunnels were destroyed or damaged, according to the same announcements. Hamad estimated that about 400 tunnels are still operating along the 12km Gaza-Egypt border, although before the conflict there were said to be some 1,000.

In February Israel allowed about 127 trucks per day to enter Gaza, according to OCHA. In May 2007, before the Hamas takeover, about 475 trucks entered daily.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

In Israel, Recession Pressures Boil over into Looting!


An Israeli man takes items from the shelves of a God's Blessing supermarket in northern Israel after the company declared bankruptcy.

An Israeli man takes items from the shelves of a God's Blessing supermarket in northern Israel after the company declared bankruptcy.

Isolated outbreaks have erupted after beleaguered business owners or managers defaulted on debts, stopped paying workers and went into hiding.

By Richard Boudreaux www.
March 19, 2009

Reporting from Hatzor Haglilit, Israel — First came the employees, shortchanged two months’ pay and laid off by the supermarket called God’s Blessing. They rifled through their shuttered workplace, helping themselves to crates full of groceries.

As word spread through the small town, the store’s jilted creditors joined in. They dismantled the light fixtures, ripped out wiring and absconded with the cash registers, even as television cameras rolled.

Within hours the parking lot was jammed with ordinary shoppers. They left car engines running and brought their children to help pick the shelves clean. Finally even the shelves were hauled away, leaving latecomers to scrounge the floor for leftover fruit.

The two-day spree shocked and puzzled Israelis, who assume that the rule of law prevails in their society. Yet this and other recent cases of looting have coincided with news that the economy, flattened late last year after half a decade of enviable growth, had slid into recession.

The outbreaks are isolated and few, but labor activists and social commentators warn that many Israelis are becoming desperate.

“What we’re seeing are small stories about collapsing businesses and layoffs that threaten their livelihoods,” said Dafna Cohen, a spokeswoman for the Histadrut, Israel’s trade union federation. “These small stories are the beginning of a big fire.”

For months, the spreading hardship has been obscured as Israel’s political discourse focused on regional security threats and the fight with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But aides to Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu say the economy will top his agenda after he takes office in the coming weeks.

The economy is expected to shrink 1.5% this year, according to the Bank of Israel, compared with growth rates of 4% or more in the previous five years. The global downturn is taking its toll; the bank forecasts an 11% decline in Israeli exports, which account for half the value of everything the country produces.

But as the crisis moves from one workplace to another, Israelis are blaming other Israelis: the tycoons who gambled in overseas real estate and lost, bringing down Israel’s financial markets; the bankers who tightened credit; the entrepreneurs who faltered under impossible debt burdens and started bouncing checks.

The anarchy at the supermarket is one of three well-publicized cases of looting that erupted after beleaguered owners or managers defaulted on debts to suppliers, stopped paying workers and went into hiding.

Victims intent on payback have taken matters into their own hands.

Nearly 200 workers locked themselves inside the Chicken of the Valley processing plant in Ramat Yishai last week after the principal owner vanished, having failed to pay their February wages.

To cut their losses, they raided the freezer and sold about 100 chickens to motorists in the streets of Haifa, a nearby city. Holding up protest signs along with red plastic packages of frozen fowl, they turned the looting into a televised rally against the remaining shareholders’ threat to close the plant.

“It’s a symbolic act,” said Moti Saar, the plant’s union representative, who has joined a round-the-clock encampment of protesters inside the workplace. Selling pilfered chickens “won’t cover our lost wages,” he added, “but it says something: ‘People want to work.’ “

Like the supermarket, the chicken plant is in the Galilee, a northern region with higher unemployment and lower public investment than Tel Aviv and other wealthier areas in the center of Israel.

Many in the Galilee feel neglected and angry that policy discussions are mainly about bailing out tycoons who lost other people’s money.

“There isn’t much talk about saving people who do an honest day’s work, earn the minimum wage and don’t have much bargaining power,” said Barbara Swirsky, executive director of the Adva Center, a think tank specializing in economic and social issues.

Tel Aviv has its own tale of pain and retribution.

The Pine Garden banquet hall and its artificial lawn once hosted the weddings, bar mitzvahs and corporate dinners of the city’s elite. The business collapsed in January as wealthy Israelis began to feel the recession and thinned out winter social calendars.

The owner fled the country, reportedly leaving debts of nearly $20 million to banks, suppliers and families that had plunked down advances as high as $30,000 for their celebrations.

March 20, 2009 Posted by Farhud NEWS & POLITICS , , , , , , , , No Comments

Pro-Palestinian Supporters Enter French Supermarket And Remove Israeli Goods From Shelves.


Pro-Palestinian Supporters Enter French Supermarket And Remove Israeli Goods From Shelves.

On the 7th March a group of Pro-Palestinian supporters wearing ‘Boycott Israel’ T-Shirts entered a French supermarket and started to remove all goods supplied by Israel. Where were the police?
Viva France
This is fantastic! too bad its not in English. The young man was explaining that the first three digits 729 in the bar code signifys that the product is made in Israel. The oranges you saw was grown from land stolen from Palestinians. Actually the Israelis are uninvited guests in Palestine. Administrador

Boycott Israeli Goods!

Believers in justice, including Muslims and Jews,

Believers in justice, including Muslims and Jews,


Soldier says rabbis pushed "religious war" in Gaza


20 Mar 2009 13:59:24 GMT

Source: Reuters

JERUSALEM, March 20 (Reuters) - Rabbis in the Israeli army told battlefield troops in January's Gaza offensive that they were fighting a "religious war" against gentiles, according to one army commander's account published on Friday.
"Their message was very clear: we are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land," he said.
The account by Ram, a pseudonym to shield the soldier's identity, was published by the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper in the second day of revelations that have rocked the Israeli military. ( "Shooting and Crying, 2009").
They were leaked from a Feb 13 meeting of armed forces members to share their Gaza experiences. Some veterans, alumni of an Israel Defence Force (IDF) military academy, told of the killing of civilians and their impression that deep contempt for Palestinians pervaded the ranks of the Israeli forces.
The institution's director, Danny Zamir, confirmed that Thursday's published accounts were authentic.
In longer excerpts in its Friday "Week's End" edition, the daily quoted 'Ram' as saying his impression of the 22-day operation was "the feeling of an almost religious mission".
It began when a devout sergeant in his unit "assembled the whole platoon and led the prayer for those going into battle", he said. "Also when we were inside they sent in those booklets full of Psalms, a ton of Psalms. I think the house I was in for a week, we could have filled a room with the Psalms they sent."
The officer felt there was a "huge gap between what the Education Corps sent out and what the IDF rabbinate sent out".
The corps distributed pamphlets about the history of Israel's fighting in Gaza from 1948 to the present, he said.
But the rabbinate's message imparted to many soldiers the sense that "this operation was a religious war".
A squad commander from Ram's Givat Brigade, named as Aviv, recounted his misgivings about orders to break down doors with armoured vehicles and shoot anyone inside, floor by floor. In the event, the order was amended to include "operating megaphones" so advancing troops could tell people they had five minutes to get out or be killed.
Aviv said "there was a very annoying moment" when he briefed his men and one challenged that order, saying: "Yeah? Anyone who is in there is a terrorist, that's a known fact..."
"And then his buddies join in: 'We need to murder any person who's in there, yeah, any person who's in Gaza is a terrorist' and all the other things that they stuff our heads with, in the media," Aviv was quoted as saying.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has put the Palestinian death toll during the war at 1,417 -- 926 civilians, 236 fighters and 255 police officers. Israeli officials have disputed those figures. Thirteen Israelis were killed.
On Thursday, an Israeli think-tank, the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, challenged the conclusion that close to 1,000 Gaza civilians were killed. It said a statistical analysis of PCHR's list of civilian casualties showed a disproportionate number of young men of fighting age.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak responded to the IDF revelations on Thursday by repeating Israel's description of its armed forces as the most moral in the world. The IDF said its judge advocate-general had ordered an investigation.
According to a soldier named as Moshe, investigations into battlefield conduct are not taken seriously. He said the attitude could be summed up as:
"It isn't pleasant to say so, but no one cares at all. We aren't investigating this. This is what happens during fighting..."
(Writing by Douglas Hamilton; editing by Samia Nakhoul)
(For blogs and links on Israeli politics and other Israeli and Palestinian news, go to

Israel planning to build 73,000 new apartments and settler units on occupied Palestinian land!!!


By Khaled Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

While Israel never stops claiming that it has a sincere desire for peace with the Palestinians, the Israeli Housing Ministry, in coordination with other government agencies as well as the occupation army, is finalising plans to build tens of thousands of Jewish settler units all over the West Bank, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.

The plans, it is generally agreed, would put an end to Palestinian dreams of establishing a viable and territorially contiguous state that they could call their own. According to a detailed document by the Israeli Peace Now group, which monitors the proliferation of Jewish colonies in the West Bank, the Housing Ministry is planning to build more than 73,000 new apartments and settler units on occupied Palestinian land.

If implemented, the plan means that existing settlements would more than double, both in the sheer number of apartments and in terms of the settler population. That population now stands at more than half a million in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, one major obstacle that could impede the implementation of the plan is the growing dearth of Jewish immigrants from abroad.

In 2008, less than 18,000 immigrants arrived in Israel. This is a mere trickle compared to the hundreds of thousands who arrived in the late 1980s and early 1990s following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Nonetheless, the Israeli government hopes to be able to tackle this problem, at least partially, by giving “generous inducements” to potential settlers that would woo Israeli Jewish citizens to move onto the West Bank. These inducements include hefty tax reductions, preferential treatment with regards to income tax, and long-term loans.

Predictably, the Peace Now revelations drew furious reactions from Palestinian leaders who labelled the plan “peace killer”. “If this is true, then it will be futile to even think about peace, let alone the continued relevance of the two- state solution,” said Palestinian Authority (PA) official Saeb Erekat.

“I believe that if the international community is sincere about peace in this part of the world then it must force Israel to stop stealing Palestinian land. As far as we are concerned, we can’t allow this incessant theft of our land to go on and on under the rubric of a disingenuous process that has a form but has no substance,” he added.

Erekat said the PA would be closely watching how the Obama administration deals with the issue of settlements. The Palestinian official tacitly admitted that the Bush administration’s approach towards the “settlement issue” was scandalous, adding that the next Israeli government, led by Benyamin Netanyahu, would have to accept the principle of land-for-peace or otherwise there will be no peace process left.

Embarrassed by the leaking of the plan, which was applauded by members of the religious and right-wing parties, Israeli government reactions ranged from silence to half-hearted denials. Israeli Housing Minister Zeev Boim, a former deputy defence minister and a notorious hawk advocating an accelerated pace of settlement expansion, described the Peace Now document as “baseless and inaccurate”.

However, Boim did admit that at least 11,000 settler units were approved for construction in 2009 and that hundreds of other tenders had been issued for construction in colonies in the central and northern parts of the West Bank. He also indicated that more tenders might have been issued by other government agencies.

Boim’s defences were flatly rejected both by Peace Now and Palestinian experts on Jewish settlement activities as “sly and dishonest manipulation of statistics”. Abdel-Hadi Hantash, a veteran cartographer and noted expert on Jewish settlement expansion, described Boim’s pronouncements as “prevarications and outright lies”. “These people are pathological liars. They claim they want peace, but everything they do on the ground shows beyond any doubt that true peace is the last thing on their minds,” he told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Hantash said Israel was following a master plan the implementation of which would render the creation of a Palestinian state impossible.

“We have to differentiate between official Israeli pronouncements on the one hand, and activities on the ground, on the other. In terms of activities on the ground, it is manifestly obvious that Israel is building new settlements and expanding existing ones, and in both cases more Palestinian land is confiscated, or more correctly, stolen,” he said.

Hantash described Israeli claims that most of the new building occurs within existing settlements themselves and is aimed at meeting immediate housing needs for the settlers as a “pack of lies”. “First of all, the settlements themselves are illegal according to international law, because the West Bank is not a disputed territory as Israel claims but an occupied land. Second, I have accurate information based on Israeli sources that the vacancy rate in settlements in the West Bank stands at 18-25 per cent. Hence, the mantra of ‘natural growth’ is merely a pretext, and for that matter a mendacious one.”

Israeli plans — both long-standing and new — to swallow up East Jerusalem, now accelerated, have drawn angry reactions from the European Union. According to a confidential EU report issued on 15 December, Israel is using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory policies as well as the West Bank apartheid wall to swallow up occupied East Jerusalem. The report points out that Israel is undermining the PA’s credibility and weakening support for peace talks among Palestinians.

“Israel’s actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli- Palestinian peacemaking,” the report said.

The EU report also speaks of a systematic Israeli policy aimed at narrowing Palestinian horizons in East Jerusalem for the purpose of preventing their demographic growth or forcing them to leave their city.

“Israeli ‘facts on the ground’ including new settlements, construction of the barriers, discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive permit regimes and continued closure of Palestinian institutions, increase Jewish Israeli presence in East Jerusalem, weaken the Palestinian community in the city, impede Palestinian urban development and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank,” the report added.

Palestinian officials have welcomed the report, calling it “a belated but welcomed recognition of the anti-peace measures Israel has been carrying out” in the Palestinian capital. “We certainly appreciate this report. But it is very important that the Europeans act on it, because without doing so, Israel will just continue doing the same thing,” said Hatem Abdel-Qader, a PA official in charge of the Jerusalem portfolio. “Of course, the Europeans won’t take an active posture if the Arabs themselves remained silent.”

Source: Al-Ahram weekly online

Israeli Lobby Humiliates Obama Administration!!!


By Uri Avnery
Gush Shalom

Returning home from a very short visit to London, I found the country in the grip of uncontrollable emotions.

No, it was not about the looming danger of the radical right gaining control. It is now almost certain that the next government will consist of an assorted bunch of settlers, explicit racists and perhaps even outright fascists. But that does not evoke any excitement.

Nor was there much excitement about yet another interrogation of the (still) incumbent prime minister in his various corruption affairs. That is hardly news anymore.

All the excitement was about a “press conference” given by the former president of Israel, Moshe Katsav, after the attorney-general announced that he might be indicted for rape.

Katsav, it may be remembered by those who remember such things, was accused by several of his female staff of persistent sexual harassment and at least one case of rape. He had to resign.

An Iranian-born immigrant and a protégé of Menachem Begin, Katsav had made a career based on a kind of affirmative action. Begin believed that, for the sake of integration, promising young immigrants from Oriental countries should be promoted to positions of responsibility. Katsav, a rather nondescript right-wing politician with all the customary right-wing opinions, became minister of tourism and then was elected by the Knesset to the ceremonial post of president, mainly to spite the rival candidate, Shimon Peres. Wags said that the Knesset was reluctant to spoil Peres’s (then) unbroken record of lost elections.

Since his abdication two years ago, the Katsav affair has dragged on and on, almost to the point of farce. Revelations were leaked by the police, several women disclosed lurid details, the ex-president made a plea agreement admitting to lesser offences, he then revoked the deal, the attorney-general procrastinated and now he seems to have made up his mind about the indictment.

So Katsav called a press conference in his remote home town, Kiryat Malakhi (the former Arab village of Qastina, now within reach of the Qassams). It was an unprecedented performance. The ex-president spoke solo for nearly three hours, airing his grievances against the police, the attorney-general, the media, the politicians and almost everybody else. All this was, incredibly, broadcast live on all three of Israel’s TV channels, as if it had been a State of the Union address. Katsav rambled on and on, repeating himself again and again. No questions were allowed. Respected journalists, hungry for scoops, were evicted if they dared to interrupt.

So when I came back yesterday morning [13 March], I found this feat dominating the front pages of all our newspapers. Everything else was banished to the back pages.

Because o this, Charles Freeman got hardly a mention. Yet his affair was a thousand-fold more important than all the sexual activities of our ex-president.

Freeman was called by Barack Obama’s newly-appointed chief of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, to the post of Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. In this position, he would have been in charge of the National intelligence Estimates (NIE), summarizing the reports of all the 16 US intelligence agencies, which employ some 100,000 people at an annual cost of 50 billion dollars, and composing the estimates that are put before the president.

In Israel, this is the job of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, and the officer in charge has a huge influence on government policy. In October 1973, the then intelligence chief disregarded all reports to the contrary and informed the government that there was only a “low probability” of an Egyptian attack. A few days later the Egyptian army crossed the canal.

Throughout the 1990s, the man in charge of intelligence estimates, Amos Gilad, deliberately misled the government into believing that Yasser Arafat was deceiving them and was actually plotting the destruction of Israel. Gilad was later openly accused by his subordinates of suppressing their expert reports and submitting estimates of his own, which were not based on any intelligence whatsoever. Later, as the guru of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Gilad coined the phrase “We have no Palestinian partner for peace”.

In the US, the intelligence chiefs famously supplied President George W. Bush with the (false) intelligence he needed to justify his invasion of Iraq.

All this shows how vitally important it is to have an estimates chief of intellectual integrity and wide experience and knowledge. Admiral Blair could not have chosen a better person than Charles Freeman, a man of sterling character and uncontested expertise, especially about China and the Arab world.

And that was his undoing.

As a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Freeman is an expert on the Arab world and the Israeli-Arab conflict. He has strong opinions about American policy in the Middle East, and makes no secret of them.

In a 2005 speech, he criticized Israel’s “high-handed and self-defeating policies” originating in the “occupation and settlement of Arab lands”, which he described as “inherently violent”.

In a 2007 speech he said that the US had “embraced Israel’s enemies as our own” and that Arabs had “responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies.” Charging the US with backing Israel’s “efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations” and to “seize ever more Arab land for its colonists”, he added that “Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians”.

Another conclusion is his belief that the terrorism the United States confronts is due largely to “the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that has lasted over 40 years and shows no signs of ending”.

Naturally, the appointment of such a person was viewed with great alarm by the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. They decided on an all-out attack. No subtle behind-the-scenes intervention, no discreet protestations, but a full-scale demonstration of their might right at the beginning of the Obama era.

Public denunciations were composed, senators and congressmen pressed into action, media people mobilized. Freeman’s integrity was called into question, shady connections with Arab and Chinese financial interests “disclosed” by the docile press. Admiral Blair came to his appointee’s defence, but in vain. Freeman had no choice but to withdraw.

The full meaning of this episode should not escape anyone.

It was the first test of strength of the lobby in the new Obama era. And in this test, the lobby came out with flying (blue-and-white) colours. The administration was publicly humiliated.

The White House did not even try to hide its abject surrender. It declared that the appointment had not been cleared with the president, that Obama had no hand in it and did not even know about it. Meaning: of course he would have objected to the appointment of any official who was not fully acceptable to the lobby. The portrayal of the power of the lobby by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, has been fully vindicated.

This has a significance which goes far beyond the already far-reaching implications of the affair itself.

Many people in Israel, who view the establishment of the new rightist government with apprehension, cite as their main fear the danger of a clash with the new Obama administration. Such a clash, they believe, could be fatal for Israel’s security. But the rightists deride such arguments. They assert that no American president would ever dare to confront the Israeli lobby. The captive congressmen and senators, as well as the supporters of the Israeli government in the media and even in the White House itself, would sink on sight any American policy opposed by even the most extreme right-wing government in Israel.

Now the first skirmish has taken place, and the president of the United States has blinked first. Perhaps one should not rush to conclusions, perhaps Obama needs more time to find his bearings, but the signs are ominous for any Israeli interested in peace.

It may be too early to call this episode the rape of Washington, but it is certainly vastly more important than Katsav’s sexual escapades.

By the way, or not by the way, a word about my trip to London.

I went there to lend support to a group of Jewish personalities, well-known in academic and other circles, who have set up an organization called “Independent Jewish Voices”.

Recently ,they published a book called “A Time to speak out”, in which several of them contributed to the debate about Israel, human rights and Jewish ethics. The views expressed are very close to those current in the Israeli peace camp. But when they offered their book for presentation in the Jewish Book Week, they were rudely rejected. In protest, they convened an event of their own, and that’s where I spoke.

I believe that it is of utmost importance that such Jewish voices be heard. In several countries, including the US, groups of brave Jews are trying to stand up to the Jewish establishment that unconditionally supports the Israeli right. In the US, several such groups have sprung up, some quite recently. One of them, called “J Street”, is trying to compete with the formidable and notorious AIPAC…

Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, writer and peace activist.


Zionist Control: Spanish Language Media

Ernesto Cienfuegos writes in La Voz de Aztlan:

Los Angeles, Alta California - March 19, 2009 - (ACN) The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, an area publication on behalf of Zionist Israel, has again attacked another media voice for the Chicano, Mexican and Latino communities. Some time ago this same Zionist magazine published a hateful and extremely biased article against La Voz de Aztlan and yesterday they did the same against one of the few radio programs that speak on behalf of Chicanos in Southern California. The aim of these attacks is to silence any criticism of Israel and of the American Jewish Lobby which now dictates many of the US government's domestic and international policies.

The article is authored by the Sephardic Jew Roberto Loiederman and targets the hugely popular program La Causa on KPFK FM radio hosted by Augustin Cebada and Rafael Tlaloc. Loiederman objects and criticizes La Causa for covering the recent attacks by Israel on the Gaza Strip as if Chicanos are not supposed to speak on the issue. Loiederman writes, "Though it presents itself as a program by and for Latinos, La Causa spends a lot of time on the subject of the Middle East, all of it fiercely critical of Israel. Referring to the recent military actions in Gaza, the show’s hosts characterize Israelis as perpetrators of 'genocide', 'massacre', 'slaughter', 'war crimes', 'ethnic cleansing' and 'atrocities'.”

Roberto Loiederman especially objected, in his hateful diatribe, that Augustin Cebada recently gave too much time to a caller named Mohammed that expressed strong pro-Palestinian views. Mohammed is a well known frequent caller to La Causa and is of dual Mexican and Palestinian descent. Loiederman's objection gives the impression that Jews believe in "freedom of speech" only when it applies to them. The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles has given La Voz de Aztlan pretty much the same treatment.

[To read the entire story, click here.]

Loiederman is probably of Spanish-speaking ethnic Ashkenazi background and not of Sephardic (Ibero-Berber) ethnicity.

EdFromNH alludes to some very similar problems with Israel advocates in EdFromNH on "Fealty to Israel". Ed is somewhat circumspect in the details, but in short his family owned a moderately sized New England radio network that was threatened 40 years ago with a boycott by Jewish-owned (or simply influenced) advertisers if the network did not broadcast news from the ME exactly as Jewish Zionist groups wanted Americans to hear it. It was a Zionist campaign that took place entirely behind closed doors and never became public. The network caved in to Zionist pressure.

Sphere: Related Content
Posted by Joachim Martillo at 8:52 AM

Zionist Control: Spanish Language Media


Joachim Martillo

Iqbal Tamimi - Google does not know that Arab and Palestinian Mothers Exist

Iqbal Tamimi - Google does not know that Arab and Palestinian Mothers Exist

By Iqbal Tamimi • Mar 19th, 2009 at 16:54 • Category: Analysis, Children's Corner, Newswire, Opinions and Letters, Palestine, Resistance, Somoud: Arab Voices of Resistance, War, Zionism

On the 21st of March the Arab world celebrates Mother’s Day. On this day also the length of the day becomes equal to the length of the night. Nature is sending us a hint of optimism that everything is possible and as much as we feel despair, there is an equal chance of hope.

I thought of researching some photos from Google to celebrate women and their children. I started with the terms "Mother and child" in a research in Arabic and I found all kinds of mother and child pictures available from every country and animals as well, including chimps and monkeys, but not one of an Arab woman or a Palestinian woman with a child.

I thought of shifting to the English search in Google engine, again the Arab woman was not there at all. Is it possible that thousands of screaming mothers in Gaza next to their children’s corpses have been dropped from the memory of Google? Was this an intentional attempt not to include us as mothers from a general search? Mothers and children of remote areas I have never heard of were there in hundreds of pictures, but not one Arab woman with her child… not even one mother from Lebanon crying over her children during the attacks on South Lebanon, not one woman crying over her killed children in Iraq, not one photo of any Arab woman with a child in Darfur or Iraq.

Have we been condemned sterile? Are we denied the honour of being mothers by Google?

I would like to remind Google on Mother’s Day that Mary the Mother of Christ, who happens to be the most important icon of motherhood in history, is a Palestinian Mother. How come none of almost 2000 pictures of Palestinian Mothers and their killed children on the Net could not manage to find their way to Google’s engine?

Talking about conspiracy, I guess this one example shows how common it must be to manipulate the media. Imagine if every researcher of women and their children stumbled upon photos of thousands of Palestinian Mothers hugging their killed children - what that would that lead to? Yes, it will offer people an extra eye and a great chance to know that there are people oppressed and crying for help, this will move the hearts of people who have a clean conscious that they might spend some time to know why all Palestinian Mothers are stained with blood, and investigate why their children are laying there wounded or killed. People will start to wonder why there is no picture of children playing, drawing, flying a kite, enjoying a meal, smiling or studying. People might wonder why women’s pictures show mothers without homes, mothers cooking on open fires in the wild, mothers inside prisons, mothers who do harvest flowers in black so that another mother from the FIRST world can enjoy mother’s Day and get a beautiful bouquet of flowers gathered by another Mother in Palestine who could not afford to take a day off on Mother’s Day, because she is the sole supporter and provider of her family because men are either dead or in prisoners by Israeli authorities.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers around the world, and a special Happy Mother’s Day for my heroines, the Palestinian and Arab Mothers.

Tagged as: , , , , ,

Iqbal Tamimi is a Palestinian journalist and poet from Hebron. She is the creator of a vibrant and important activists' network Palestinian Mothers, open to all who share the vision of peace and justice, men and women alike. She is working now in UK.
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'Mistrust' marks US-Syria relations


In BBC, here

"...The main problem, he said, is that Damascus is never in a hurry, while Washington always is.

Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel, believes that the plan is realistic. "I think beneath the bravado, Syria is in fact uncomfortable with Iran and that both President [Bashar] al-Assad and his people would prefer to look to the West," he says.
Mr Wahab laughs at this assumption......

But political scientist Karim Makdisi believes America's track record in the region will create problems for President Obama. "People in the region understand that the US policy has been very fickle," he says. Mr Makdisi says it is not in Syria's interest to give up Hezbollah or Iran for the sake of the Golan Heights..."

Posted by G, Z, & or B at 12:25 PM

The crimes we witnessed in Gaza

Radhika Sainath writing from Los Angeles, US, Live from Palestine, 20 March 2009

Huwaida Arraf, Radhika Sainath, with filmmaker Adam Shapiro, interview Khaled Abed Rabu outside his demolished home in eastern Jabaliya. (Mohamed Majdalawi)
Two days after Israel ended its 22-day invasion of the Gaza Strip, a friend and former clinical law professor in Jerusalem, Huwaida Arraf, asked me: "What do you think about organizing an emergency legal delegation to Gaza?" A small committee formed and we quickly put a call out for participants. Dozens of attorneys and law students from across the nation expressed their interest in traveling to Gaza to investigate the circumstances that led to massive Palestinian casualties, and to determine, what, if any, violations of international law occurred.

A week later, eight National Lawyers Guild members and a documentary filmmaker landed in Egypt. We crossed into Gaza through the Rafah land crossing on 2 February 2009. Minutes after Palestinian officials stamped our passports, we were startled by a loud explosion. "Don't worry," said one of the officials, unflinching. "They're only bombing the tunnels. It's normal here." Though all of us had experience working or traveling in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), none of us were prepared for what we saw.

During our six days in Gaza, we visited neighborhoods in Gaza City, Jabaliya, Rafah and Khan Younis to interview paramedics, hospital workers, non-governmental organization representatives, Palestinian Ministry of Health officials and other civilian witnesses. In particular, we looked at three areas: (1) whether Israel targeted civilians or civilian infrastructure; (2) whether Israel had used weapons illegally; and (3) whether Israel had deliberately or arbitrarily blocked or prevented medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians during the offensive.

On our first evening, we met with John Ging, the Director of Gaza Operations for the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA). Ging told us how on 15 January 2009, Israeli forces hit the UN compound in Gaza City with white phosphorous shells. That morning, UN workers were in real-time communications with Israeli authorities, and informed them that more than 700 people had sought refuge in the compound from heavy shelling in the area. We saw the charred remains of UN warehouses containing food and medicine, and heard how UN workers retrieved fuel tanks to prevent them from exploding.

Throughout our week in Gaza, we recorded numerous accounts of Israeli soldiers shooting at civilians -- who were often carrying white flags or attempting to flee -- in violation of international law. Moreover, Additional Protocol I of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires that a belligerent give an effective warning when attacks may affect civilians.

Khaled Abed Rabu of eastern Jabaliya related how he witnessed an Israeli soldier kill his two-year-old and seven-year-old daughters in the early afternoon of 7 January 2009. "This is where it happened," said Abed Rabu, sitting on the concrete remains of his home. Israeli soldiers had ordered the family out of the home, so his wife, mother, three daughters and he came out, holding four white flags amongst them. Two soldiers sat outside a tank, eating chips and chocolates, when a third, without warning, began shooting at the youngest, Amal. Abed Rabu looked down, and Amal's stomach was outside her body. "She was carrying a white teddy bear, and the teddy bear was executed with her," he said. When Abed Rabu bent down to pick her up, the soldier shot his seven-year-old, then his mother and his four-year-old daughter, who survived but is paralyzed.

As the soldier continued shooting, Abed Rabu ran back in the house carrying the surviving daughter, Samar, in his arms. After two hours of watching her bleed, Abed Rabu took Samar outside in his arms, believing the Israelis would shoot both of them, putting her out of her pain, and his as well. However, the soldiers let Abed Rabu and his family pass.

Abed Rabu walked for a kilometer when he reached an intersection. There, he saw Adham Hamis Naseer, with a cart and a white horse, coming to his aid. Israeli soldiers shot the horse in the head, and then Naseer, also in the head. It was this incident that made Abed Rabu incredulous -- that they had shot a horse. That Israelis had set out to terrorize the entire population of Gaza, even going so far as murdering his children, was sadly not a surprise, but it was a surprise that they would take the life of a horse.

A Palestinian child walks outside tents setup for people whose homes were destroyed in Jabaliya, Gaza Strip. (Radhika Sainath)
During our week in Gaza, we also uncovered extensive evidence suggesting that Israeli forces destroyed buildings that had no links to militant or resistance activity.

In addition to attacks on UNRWA schools, Israeli forces also hit the American International School in Gaza -- one of the Strip's few co-ed schools. According to the school's director, Dr. Ribhi Salem, the Israelis gave no warning nor targeted any areas adjoining the school. Dr. Salem also stated that not only had no armed resistance activity had ever taken place on the property, but Israel had never accused the school of harboring or being used by militants.

Israel also appears to have disregarded the prohibition on the use of indiscriminate weapons in civilian areas by using battlefield weaponry in heavily-populated civilian areas, namely white phosphorus, flechettes and artillery.

Dr. Nafiz Abu Shaaban, head of the burn unit at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, explained to us how that during the offensive, the hospital released patients with minor burns in order to clear beds for the large number of incoming victims. Many of those released returned a few days later, their wounds having expanded in size and depth. Doctors then realized that something was continuing to burn into the body following the initial treatment. It was not until two weeks into the Israeli offensive that foreign doctors, who had worked in Lebanon, identified the burns in Gaza as consistent with use of white phosphorous.

In addition to a belligerent's duty to avoid injury to civilians, international humanitarian law requires that care be provided to the wounded. In conversations with medical workers and the families of victims, we documented many serious violations of the requirement to allow medical access to the injured.

For example, from 3-7 January 2009, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) received 145 calls from the neighborhood of al-Zeitoun alone, but Israeli forces refused to allow ambulances to enter. "A lot of people could have been saved, but they weren't given medical care by the Israelis, nor did the Israeli army allow Palestinian medical services in," said Bashar Ahmed Murad, Director of Emergency Medical Services for PRCS. When the Israeli army finally allowed medics to enter on 7 January, they refused entrance of ambulances. Dr. Murad explained how paramedics were forced to "pile the wounded on donkey carts and have the medical workers pull the carts."

When I left for Gaza, I, like many people, was aware of the stark disparity between Israeli and Palestinian casualties during the offensive that began on 27 December: the death toll currently stands at more than 1,400 Palestinians killed compared with 13 Israelis -- three of whom were soldiers killed by friendly fire. Like many, I analyzed the Gaza attacks within the framework of "proportionality" -- the idea that civilian injuries and deaths may not be excessive in relation to anticipated military advantage.

Graffiti by Israeli soldiers in a Palestinian home in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. (Radhika Sainath) While I do not know what Israel hoped to achieve with its invasion, I do know the goal was not to stop Hamas rockets. In a house in al-Zeitoun, the walls, ceilings and doors are covered in graffiti that reads, in Hebrew and English, "Death to the Arabs," "An Arab brave [a real Arab] is an Arab in a grave," and "he who dreams Givati [the Israeli infantry brigade], kills Arabs." Such sayings do not stop Hamas rockets. Covering prayer rugs in feces serves no military objective. Tearing up college diplomas and giving bottles of urine to detained children asking for water are not acts of self-defense.

Finally, the brutal killings of innocent civilians, whether by bombing neighborhoods or directly targeting people carrying white flags is never self-defense. These were not isolated incidents perpetrated by bad apples, but a repeated pattern of Israeli assaults on the dignity of Palestinians.

Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza, and the horrors I witnessed, are consistent with Israeli General Moshe Yaalon's aim that "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people." Were this any other country, official sanctions and exclusion from the community of nations would be the obvious answer. More than two months have passed since the end of "Operation Cast Lead" and Gaza is still waiting for the world's response. The question still looms: will Israel and Israeli war criminals ever be held accountable for the actions in a court of impartial international justice?

Radhika Sainath recently returned from a National Lawyers Guild delegation to Gaza. She practices civil rights law in Los Angeles, California.

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