Saturday 22 January 2011


January 22, 2011 posted by Paul J. Balles

A terribly sad reality rears its ugly head with the realization that men and women of integrity otherwise have been forced to cheat–to pretend to blind themselves in order to preserve their jobs.

By Paul Balles / STAFF WRITER

In an earlier article, I suggested several alternative media sources and writers since the mainstream media makes free speech a dream that was left behind.

Instead of celebrating journalistic integrity, the media–controlled by Zionists in America–refuses to condone any criticism of Israel.

When Helen Thomas, diva of the White House press corps was asked by a rabbi if she had any comment about Israel, she replied honestly, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”

She paid dearly for being forthright, saying that the Palestinians are “occupied” and that the Jews should “Go home” — to Germany, Poland, America and “everywhere else”.

In a later interview with radio host Danny Schechter, Helen revealed that for fifty years “she censored herself as a reporter.”

Think about how many otherwise honest, knowledgeable yet restrained reporters and TV anchors have worn the same albatross around their necks.

Widely respected MSNBC commentators like Keith Olbermann, Rachael Maddow and Ed Schultz are brilliant and informed. They can’t possibly have missed the plight of the Palestinians.

Like Helen Thomas they have had to censor themselves.  Anyone listening to these commentators’ analyses of major issues would know that they could not possibly be ignorant of the truth.
A terribly sad reality rears its ugly head with the realization that men and women of integrity otherwise have been forced to cheat–to pretend to blind themselves in order to preserve their jobs.
Imagine the three that I mentioned at MSNBC with their heads on the bodies of monkeys labelled “see no evil”, “hear no evil” and “speak no evil”.

Unlike the chimps with limited mentality, these media giants must know that they wear blinders, ear plugs and muzzles to avoid truths which they hold so important when it comes to other issues

Dr Diane Shammas, lecturer in American Studies and Ethnicity, says, “More than being oppositional, Thomas’ comments reflect an accumulative anger and ire at an America that has not only vilified Arab Americans in their media and immigration laws for over a century, but also with a U.S. foreign policy that for over 60 years biases Israel and is complicit in perpetuating the oppression against the Palestinians.”

Helen Thomas and the Rabbi that filmed her comments

Why did Helen blurt out the comment that led to her forced resignation from the White House Press Corps for Hearst papers? What did she feel that moved her to do what other commentators know is right but have been terrified to say?

Dr Shammas says that “her (Thomas’s) outcry embodies a half century of frustration and mental occupation that Arab Americans feel as their voices of historical truth is pilloried, discredited, and dismissed as either delusional or Anti-Semitic.”

Ironically, as Dr Shammas reports, “while defending Helen Thomas’ freedom of speech, the Society for Professional Journalists deems her remarks as ‘inappropriate and offensive’.”

Inappropriate? The only thing inappropriate was that Thomas was forced out of her job by silencer shills!
Offensive? Only to those who have been brainwashed by Israeli propaganda. Thomas’s journalistic critics silently admit to brainwashing. Either that or they’re utterly dishonest.

Dr Shammas posed the right question when she asked “Does our country’s unwavering allegiance to the Zionist ideology irrevocably trump and excoriate any truth-telling of Palestinian suffering?”

William Shanley, who is making a film about Helen’s career, commented:

“Pathetic. America has become a country in which a thief is on the cover of Time Magazine, the Golden Rule is under the boot of empire, and the truth about the illegal occupation of Palestine, the theft of land and the mass incarceration of its people, cannot pass lips.”

Copyright @ Paul J Balles

More Paul Balles

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Hasbara at work: "Lebanon like the Gaza Strip ... would be isolated and ostracized"

Silvan Shalom: "Jumblatt's decision to join Hezbollah is dangerous for Israel.."

Israel's Channel 10 reported.
Also here

Jumblatt Decides, Meets Sayyed Nasrallah
Silvan Shalom might have also said:

"... Could anyone imagine what would happen to Samir Geagea'...?"

Posted by G, Z, or B at 11:31 AM

Geagea': "Lebanon like the Gaza Strip ... would be isolated and ostracized"

"..."Can anyone imagine what will happen to the Lebanese pound?" he asked.
Geagea said Lebanon, like the Gaza Strip after it was taken over by the militant Palestinian Hamas group in 2007, would be isolated and ostracized by the international community and Arab world, with the exception of Syria. ..." [Enough]
Posted by G, Z, or B at 11:20 AM

'Brainstorming & panic'

....... “Some Arab embassies including Jordan and Saudi Arabia called their students yesterday and advised them to leave the country given the current situation,” an American University official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “Up until now, no one has left, but the university has asked all students to stay in their dorms and remain in contact with the dean of students.” Meanwhile, Lebanese across the country are doing their best to carry on with their daily lives. But they cannot shake off the hovering fear that the next round of deadly violence is just around the corner. “It’s obvious that something is going to happen. After so many years, you learn to read the signs. All these feuding politicians are definitely not going to sit down and say a prayer together,” said bus driver Hussein Ezzedine. “There will be a war, and it will be soon. That’s what I believe,” the 56-year-old told AFP. “Our rich leaders have the luxury to send their kids abroad, while we have to struggle with gas and bread prices on a day-to-day basis and worry about war and the safety of our children on top of that.”
Posted by G, Z, or B at 9:43 AM

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Gaza family remembers grandfather killed by Israeli bullet

Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 21 January 2011

Palestinian mourners carry the body of farmer Shaban Qarmout, 65, during his funeral in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, 10 January 2011. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Shaban Qarmout, a 65-year-old farmer from the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, got up early on Monday, 10 January and headed out to his farmland as he usually did, accompanied by his 22-year-old son Khaled. Their land is located about 500 meters from the boundary fence with Israel, near the Agriculture School in the town of Beit Hanoun. At about midday, as the two were working, a bullet fired from an Israeli watchtower ripped through the elder Qarmout's chest, wounding him fatally.

Khaled Qarmout told The Electronic Intifada what happened: "My father and I were working normally, clearing some rocks from the land using a cart. At noon a number of people from a relief organization came to see my father. One of them wanted to take some pictures, but my father refused. He told them it might expose him to some danger from the Israeli military post nearby. Of course the area is dangerous, and my father was always keen to avoid any trouble with the Israelis."

After the visitors left, Shaban Qarmout resumed his work and Khaled moved about a hundred meters away. "Suddenly I heard my father screaming, 'Khaled!' and I rushed to see what happened. I found him silent and blood began to drip from his mouth," Khaled recalled.

Asked if he had observed any trouble or activity near the boundary, Khaled replied: "I kept silent, and looked around to see what was going on, but saw nothing. Then with the help of some neighboring farmers we carried my father on a bulldozer for a distance of about 300 meters until he was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance. He died a few minutes after he was shot from the Israeli watchtower."

At the Jabaliya refugee camp home of Shaban's son Shaker, family members were gathered, including Shaban's wife Umm Khaled, daughters Khulud (15), Rana (26), and daughter-in-law Umm Thaer.

Shaban Qarmout had a small house on his land, but the family left it two years ago during Israel's winter 2008-2009 assault on Gaza and moved to Jabaliya refugee camp. Despite this, Khaled told The Electronic Intifada that he and his father continued to work their land during the past two years from the early morning until evening. According to Khaled, the Israeli soldiers at the watchtower that is close to their land know them well, yet, Khaled says, they shot his father in cold blood.

"Almost two weeks ago, my father received some financial assistance from a relief organization and he asked me to keep the small amount of money at the house on the farmland, telling me, 'My son, maybe we will need this money some time in the future, so it is better that we keep it rather than spend it.' He said these words as if he were aware that his destiny was awaiting him," Khaled said, surrounded by family members in the home.

Umm Khaled spoke to The Electronic Intifada, her face pale, about what she called the "martyrdom" of her husband: "Let me tell you that my slain husband has been there in the same farmland for about 45 years and I personally spent almost half of this period with him along with our children. I am wondering why they killed him; I am sure they know him."

One week after the Israeli assault started in December 2008, Umm Khaled recalled, the Israelis using loud speakers ordered them to leave the area, and that was when they moved to Jabaliya.

"Shaban, my husband, was a very kind-hearted father," Umm Khaled said. "He was so kind to his children and generous towards other people. When we used to live in the house on the farm, before the war broke out, Shaban used to welcome all the relatives who used to spend some time with us among the citrus trees, to the extent that he always insisted to serve them food. May God accepts him as martyr and believe me I wish I were martyred along with him."

"My father was the kindest to me," said 15-year-old Khulud. "I am his youngest and I never felt deprived of anything -- tenderness, food, pocket money or anything else. My father used to give me whatever I wanted and always cared for me."

Reflecting on those who took her father away from her, Khulud added, "I don't believe there is a chance for coexistence with such killers, the Israelis! Why did they kill him? Did he shoot at them with his 45-year-old axe?"

Rana spoke of her father as she held his infant grandchild in her arms and as neighbors and relatives came to offer condolences.

"My father used to be very generous with me and his grandsons despite the fact his economic situation was not that good," Rana said. "Every now and then, he would give me some money to spend on my children, for he knew my husband is jobless. During Ramadan, he used to invite me and my children to iftar [the breaking of the fast], showing a great deal of kindness to us."

Umm Thaer, Shaban Qarmout's daughter-in-law and niece, said that her uncle was like a father to her. His loss was not the first tragedy she has suffered. On 29 December 2008, her 16-year-old son Thaer Shaker Qarmout was critically wounded in an Israeli missile strike. He died of his injuries on 4 January 2009. Two friends who were with Thaer, Muhammad Madi and Tareq Afani, were killed instantly.

On the terrible day her son died, Umm Thaer remembers her uncle Shaban telling her, "Dear daughter, Thaer has gone to the best place, to paradise, and believe me, may God take us the same way he took Thaer."

It seems that God heard Shaban and in the same month in which Thaer went to paradise, his grandfather followed him two years later.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

Mohammed Omer: Operation Cast Lead Is Over, But the Nightmare Continues

Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 9:52AM Gilad Atzmon

Abdullah (in red shirt) and his little brother (r) play “Arabs and Israelis”
with their friends in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. (Photo M. Omer)
The Sept. 6, 2010 issue of the leading German newspaper Der Spiegel included the article "Studies Show Nurture at Least as Important as Nature" by Joerge Blech on the findings of a groundbreaking study on intelligence. Researchers found that prolonged poverty, stress and other environmental factors—including war and the deprivation of basic needs—directly affect a child's intelligence and, therefore, his or her life prospects.

Previously it was believed that intelligence was 80 percent genetic. These latest findings, however, show that at least 50 percent of an individual's intelligence is actually determined by environmental factors. More specifically: the more stress, the more arrested mental development. As one of the researchers, Richard Nisbett, a psychologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, noted: "During World War II, some children in Holland started school late because of the Nazi occupation—with momentous consequences. The average IQ for these children was seven points lower than for children who came of school age after the siege."

The Nazi persecution and World War II in Europe, which lasted from 1933 to 1945, affected an entire generation of children. By contrast, Israel's dispossession and occupation of Palestine has lasted some six decades—and counting. Generations of Palestinian children have been affected physically, psychologically and materially. Since Ariel Sharon instigated the al-Aqsa intifada in late 2000, Israeli repression has been most restrictive, and most steadily escalated, in Gaza. According to "Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion," a 16-page BBC report released in March 2008: "In September 2007, an UNRWA survey in the Gaza Strip revealed that there was a nearly 80 percent failure rate in schools grades four to nine, with up to 90 percent failure rates in Mathematics. In January 2008, UNICEF reported that schools in Gaza had been cancelling classes that were high on energy consumption, such as IT, science labs and extra curricular activities."
The report adds that "The number of people living in absolute poverty in Gaza has increased sharply. Today, 80 percent of families in Gaza currently rely on humanitarian aid, compared to 63 percent in 2006. This decline exposes unprecedented levels of poverty and the inability of a large majority of the population to afford basic food."

War, poverty, stress caused by financial and personal insecurity due to living under occupation, the constant scarcity of basic necessities including food, sewer treatment, water and medical care, the threat of constant attack by military forces, forced imprisonment, lack of movement, lack of rights—these are the daily realities of children in Gaza, realities they, their parents and their grandparents have known their whole lives.
This is the recurring nightmare that is Gaza.

A Child's Life
At first glance, 13-year-old Khalil seems like your average teenager. His young body is just beginning to mature, and he is curious, easily distracted and slightly mischievous. A closer inspection, however, reveals a vacant look in his eyes more associated with age. In fact, if one saw only his eyes, one would guess Khalil is close to 50, not 13. What's missing is that sense of invincibility and heightened optimism common among youth his age elsewhere in the world. Where American and European children talk about the latest rap band, their school vacation or their latest crush, Khalil simply shrugs apathetically.

"Excuse me, but the war has wiped blank all my beautiful memories," he says somewhat sarcastically. "The front half of my house was damaged, so that I am transferred to a life-situation that I never dreamed I would be experiencing. After years of living in a large house," he explains, "I now live at Al Zahra city."

Khalil's home was destroyed in January 2009, during Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" assault, plunging his middle-class family into homelessness in an instant. Unlike in a natural disaster, insurance funds and global assistance were not available. His situation was man-made—and Khalil is far from alone.

Still traumatized, he remembers a friend of his being blown to pieces when an Israeli missile struck his neighborhood.

Understandably, these are things he would rather forget—but can't. Because of Israel's siege, few resources are available to help him cope with his trauma and move on with his life.

The children's stories are difficult to hear, of course. But as any parent knows, the pain of their children is felt two-fold by those responsible for care giving. Love, after all, can go only so far.

A Parent's Frustration
Abu Abdullah of Rafah expresses the pain of most parents in Gaza: the inability to protect his children. His wife frets because she cannot comfort them. The younger children, aged 10, 7 and 4, wet their beds and she feels helpless to quell their fears. "It's like a cancer you can't control or stop," Umm Abdullah says.
Nodding, Abu Abdullah sits on the stoop of his house watching his children play "Arabs and Israelis," the occupied territory's version of "Cowboys and Indians" or "Cops and Robbers." In the role of a soldier, his oldest son, Abdullah, aims a plastic Chinese toy gun at his brother's head. "I am going to kill you right now," the teenager says.

The game is popular among children who've had few outlets to channel their emotions since Operation Cast Lead. Abu Abdullah would rather they play soccer, but this game reflects the reality of their lives and gives his children some sense of control.

Even when he's awake Abu Abdullah's 12-year-old son suffers from nightmares about Israeli F-16s bombing his neighborhood. In his dreams, all the children are running away from home or school. Some of his friends are injured, others dead, and ambulance sirens scream incessantly in his head. But it's more than a dream: it's what he actually witnessed, and it replays in his mind ad nauseam, rarely giving him peace.

Nor are Abdullah's fears imaginary. When his mother sent him to buy lentils from the nearby grocery store less than three minutes away, the boy returned home with no lentils and his pants soaked in urine. Asked about the lentils, Abdullah began crying and told his mother in a voice quaking with fear that "the drones are bombing."

Teachers who work with at risk students in inner-city neighborhoods around the world can attest to the effect poverty, violence, guns and fear have on the children forced by circumstance to live in these situations. Gaza is the inner city on steroids. Its children deal not only with gangs in the form of resistance, but they also must endure the assaults—usually in the middle of the night—of the world's fourth most powerful military. The effects on the children are predictable: Fights and violent behavior, in schools and on the streets, have escalated in frequency and intensity, according to psychologists who visit Gaza's schools.

Psychologist Zahia Al Qarra with the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP) says that 79.9 percent of the children she sees feel they are in a big prison. Another 79.3 percent say that they cannot afford to buy what they need or want.

According to a recent GCMHP study, 20 percent of Gaza's children suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], and another 13 percent are diagnosed with depression. In Gaza's UNRWA-run schools, where literacy and academic standards are usually high, 9,000 primary students failed their school work and exams last academic year.

Another GCMHP psychiatrist confirms that cases of disease, behavioral problems and psychological traumas have multiplied among Gaza's children, citing increases in autistic behavior, bedwetting, thumb-sucking, nail biting, anger, slow-motion flashbacks, reliving war scenes in familiar neighborhoods, fear of the dark, agoraphobia, panic at the sound of planes overhead, and disinterest in taking part in social and group activities—all symptoms of PTSD and depression.

"It's not just the children" says Abu Diaa, a father of seven. "It's also we adults who need psychological counseling."

Like most parents in Gaza, Abu Diaa, whose only income is a disability pension from a 2003 injury, worries constantly about finding food and clothing for his children.

"It is two different types of traumas," Abu Diaa explains, "living in fear of attacks and worrying about not having a job to protect one's family."

Psychiatrists and general practitioners in Gaza observe that parents often do not realize the extent to which their children are traumatized. Many are trying to deal with their own pain and stress and often neglect or delay their own treatment. Add to this the stigma about seeking psychological treatment for themselves or their children. Palestinian and Arab society does not embrace victimhood, and seeking help is often equated with admitting one is powerless and therefore a victim. GCMHP director Dr. Ahmed Abu Tawahinah notes that when a patient visits a doctor, he "never says I am depressed or I have PTSD." Rather he'll say something like, "I have a headache."

A Society Under Stress
The physical and psychological effects of Gaza's plight are pervasive. According to the GCMHP's Al Qarra, divorces have increased, often due to poverty. When parents are unable to fully care for their children due to their own trauma, she adds, increasing numbers of children are forced to leave home or run away. They find themselves on the streets, digging through garbage containers for a few things to sell to make a bit of money or eat. Incidents of sexual abuse, previously unheard of in Gaza, also are being reported.

This past September, 20 months after Israel's war on Gaza, Dr. Jamil Al Tahrawi, a university lecturer in social psychology, decided to analyze the art work of children in Gaza to try and assess the depth of their psychological trauma. He asked 455 children to draw whatever they wanted. More than 82.3 percent drew images directly related to Israeli attacks on Gaza. Some of these drawings show Palestinian resistance fighters, Israeli soldiers, tanks, bulldozers, ambulances, helicopters, F-16s, and pilotless Israeli drones.
The children mainly used light colors in their drawings, avoiding dark colors as if they were afraid of them. Dr. Al Tahrawi and other doctors in Gaza saw a clear indication in the drawings of trauma following war crimes similar to those mentioned in Judge Richard Goldstone's report for the U.N. Human Rights Council. Indeed, Dr. Al Tawahiha confides, all 1.6 million residents of Gaza are traumatized to some extent—"including myself."

As Israel continues its attacks on Gaza, the nightmare continues for Abdullah and all residents of Gaza.
Nearly two years after Operation Cast Lead, Abdullah still is afraid to sleep, afraid to play and afraid to walk to school in the daytime, even with his father by his side. One can only guess at the long-term physical, emotional and intellectual effects Israel's continued occupation and siege will have on his life and millions of other Palestinians. One thing is certain, however: It is affecting everyone.

Award-winning journalist Mohammed Omer reports on the Gaza Strip, and maintains the Web site He can be reached at .

Israeli Probe on Flotilla Raid: Soldiers Acted “Properly”

21/01/2011 Israeli occupation soldiers acted “properly” by killing nine unarmed Turks. Their crime was that they headed to Gaza Strip, along with other international activists, to help its people and condemn the Israeli siege

The Turkel Commission investigating the events surrounding the Gaza flotilla of May 2010 is expected to determine that the actions of the commando unit that took control of the ships did not contravene international law, and that the Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara acted in “self-defense” when they killed nine Turkish citizens.

The Israeli commission will submit the first part of its findings to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday, after which they will be made public on Sunday afternoon.

Professor Yossi Shain, an international relations expert at Georgetown University and the head of Tel Aviv University's diplomacy program, said that any professional observer would view the Turkel Committee as a serious, distinguished team.

"Almost naturally, committees established by Israel draw a suspicious attitude in the world," he said. "There will always be a perception whereby Israeli committees take Israel's side."

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Dr. David Halpin: Silence is Complicity: The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force

Friday, January 21, 2011 at 10:38PM Gilad Atzmon

The deliberate injury of the limbs of 23 boys by high velocity weapons has been logged and described by Defence for Children International – Palestine Branch (DCI-P) since March 2010. (1) Some of the facts have been published in national newspapers. These barbarous acts contravene international and national law but there are no judicial responses. The caring professions see the physical and mental pain of those who suffer and they should be in the vanguard in calling for this great cruelty to cease forthwith. Political leaders have failed to act. The Geneva Conventions Act 1957, which is of central importance in holding war criminals to account in the jurisdiction of the UK, is being emasculated.


Most of the 1.5 million population of the Gaza strip is impoverished. Half are refugees from Mandate Palestine or their stock. About 50% of the male population is without work. It has been isolated and occupied for decades. A commercial port was being built in 2000 but that was bombed by Israel. The isolation and the hobbling of its commerce was increased by a siege which was started in March 2006 in response to the election of a majority of Hamas members to the legislature. It was further tightened in June 2007 after the Hamas government pre-empted a coup by the Fatah faction that was led in Gaza by Mohammad Dahlan.

The misery was further deepened with 'Operation Cast Lead' that was unleashed 27/12/08. This was promised 29/02/08 (2). "The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah (holocaust) because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” - Matan Vilnai Deputy Defence Minister to Israeli Army Radio. There was a massive bombardment which killed 220 adults and children in the first 15 minutes. This was followed by a full scale invasion. 1400 humans were killed and approximately 5000 injured physically. The minds of very many more were injured too. 4000 homes were totally destroyed, almost all the factories and 40 mosques. The two gleaming science blocks of the Islamic University of Gaza were flattened by very powerful thermobaric bombs, the blasts being heard throughout the 360 square kilometres of the Gaza 'Strip'. The siege has been even more draconian since. Cement, ballast and steel rods are only let in at about 5% of the rate needed for rebuilding, the pretext being that 'bunkers' could be constructed. At the present rate it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza. (3) Chocolate, writing paper and all manner of things have been blocked. The 1000 tunnels at Rafah have provided a way in for goods but in the face of bombing and roof falls.

The lack of any work and the extreme poverty of the large extended families has drawn the boys and men to scavenge for broken concrete ('gravel') in the evacuated Eli Sinai 'settlement' and in the industrial zone by the Erez border control post at the northern limit of the 'Strip'. The factories of the industrial zone have been progressively demolished by Israeli shelling etc. They are seen to the west as one enters Gaza through Erez. A donkey and cart, shovel, pick, sieve, muscles and courage are the tools. The rubble is used to make cement blocks and poured concrete with the cement that is imported largely through the tunnels. Many dozens of men and boys do this work for precious shekels in the shadow of manned watch towers and under 'drones' above.

The 23 boys who have been shot between 26/03/10 (Said H) and 23/12/10 (Hatem S) are listed in the table below with skeletal facts. These points are made:-
  • In 18 there were single shots and not automatic fire
  • The reported range in most cases confirms that the weapon was a sniper's rifle in the hands of a sniper
  • Almost always there were many dozens of other men and boys at work; these victims were picked off
The history of the injury and sequel for each boy are linked to in (1). It has been done meticulously and the translation into English is perfect. The pain, and often the terror, felt by the boy as the bullet struck home are vividly recorded. No bullets have been recovered yet so the calibre/type is unknown.

The shooting to wound and kill Palestinians is relentless. DCI-P notes that according to a UN study, between January 2009 and August 2010, at least 22 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed and 146 injured in the arbitrary live fire zone adjacent to the border with Israel and imposed at sea. At least 27 of these civilians were children. It also notes that the targeting of civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law, regardless of circumstances.

These quotations from the available stories convey a little of the poverty, the suffering and the courage:-
  • Mohammad was taught by his neighbours to watch for birds flying away from the watch towers, as this was a sign to start running, as it meant soldiers were climbing into
the towers and the shooting would soon begin. Mohammad M - 6
Silence is complicity
I thank Gerard Horton and DCI-P for the availability and excellence of this information, and for supporting publication in a medical forum. I also thank Dr Khamis Elessi in Gaza for information.
Conflict of interest: I founded the Dove and Dolphin Charity 110119
<> with a voyage to Palestine 8 years ago and chair its trustees. It attends to the welfare of children in Gaza in the main. No pecuniary benefit is derived from this charity.

David S Halpin FRCS is an author, human rights activist and a former, orthopaedic and trauma surgeon at
the Torbay and Exeter Hospitals Devon UK

David Halpin can be contacted via <>
His web site is <> )

This paper was submitted to the Lancet and the British Medical Journal 4 January 2011 under the title 'Ethical'. The refusal from the latter is here:-
The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force
by David Sydney Halpin
Dear Mr. Halpin
Thank you for sending us your paper. We read it with interest but I regret to say that we have decided not to publish it in the BMJ.
Clearly soldiers shooting at children is awful, but we didn't think your article gave a clear reason why we should be publishing it now. The information comes from the Defence for Children International (palestine section) website, there isn't much context, there's no description of the Israeli soldiers' explanation for these events, and the article just sort of ends.
We receive over 8000 submissions a year and accept less than 10%. We do therefore have to make hard decisions on just how interesting an article will be to our general clinical readers, how much it adds, and how much practical value it will be.
I am sorry to disappoint you on this occasion.
An editor at the British Medical Journal

The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force
Date of injury
Single shot heard?
?Work again near Erez
or other
Date report made - Arabic to English
1 Said H
15 yrs
Deep and tranverse, lower L thigh
Searching for brother
3 days
'Toe will not work' Persisting pain
Nerve injury
Lost 2 months training as plumber and car sprayer
2 Hasan W
17 yrs
Below R knee. 'Shattered'
2 months in plaster
Y then
Home same day
Cannot walk. Pain on movement.
'.. not be able to collect gravel though family needs money'
3 Awad W
17 yrs
Shot in R knee
Numbness Cannot walk as he used to.
Therapy from Doctors without Borders. Cannot work.
4 Ibrahim K 16 yrs
Shot in R knee
Y after
2 days
Pain in R leg
Forbidden by father to return to same work
5 Abdullah
16 yrs
Shot in R ankle
Painful. ?Will be able to walk normally again
'I will never collect gravel again.'
6 Mohammad
M 16 yrs
Shot in R flank
3 days
Very tired when he runs
Cannot work or play
7 Arafat S
16 yrs
Shot in R ankle
Still some pain and a little limp
8 N'uman A
14 yrs
Shot R lower leg – not deep
Forbidden by grandfather to return
9 Hameed O
13 yrs
L arm – not deep
Occasional pain
No work. Forbidden by father to return
10 Khaled I
16 yrs
L thigh. 'Cut artery and vein
?Heavy machine gun
15 days
'Considering what happened, not going to collect gravel again
11 Mohammad S
17 yrs
L thigh
Pain 'I have nightmares about being shot by Israeli soldiers'
‘I don’t think of going to the dangerous places anymore'
12 Mahmoud J
16 yrs
R thigh. Bled profusely. Exit wound diameter 5 cms.
?From tank or jeep
'I wanted to buy two pigeons and raise them on the rooftop of my house. I will never go back to that place.'
13 Ahmad H
17 yrs
600 -
R foot/sankle 'Big hole in my foot – 4 cms with small hole other side
14 Yahia Z
16 yrs
R lower leg
‘I will never go back to the industrial zone even if I starve to death.'
15 Shamekh D
15 yrs
L foot
BK cast
16 Mokhles M
15 yrs
L lower leg
BK cast
‘I’ll wait for my wound to heal before I go back to collect gravel.’
17 Belal L
16 yrs
L leg
plus a second shot into the L leg of his 22 yr old cousin
Fractured in two places. External fixation above and below knee
‘I still feel pain in my leg,’ says Belal, ‘and I don’t know whether I will walk again or
‘I have come under fire several times from Israeli soldiers guarding the border. Once they shot and killed our horse.’’ Belal’s older brother Nedal (24) has been shot four times whilst collecting gravel,
‘three times in the left leg and once in the right leg,’ says Belal.
18 Suhaib M
16 yrs
Through and through,
just below L knee. Exit wound 5 cms diameter
'Bullet exploded in leg.'
Long cast.
'I don’t know if I
will be able to walk again,’ says Suhaib, ‘but certainly I will never go back to collecting gravel.’
19 Rasmi G
15 yrs
R lower leg. Fractured tibia
External fixation
In Kamal Udwan hospital
‘I still feel great pain in my leg and don’t know whether I will walk again or not.'
20 Fadi H
17 yrs
Below L knee
4 shots
Moving about at 2 days
21 Rami
17 yrs
R lower leg
Will collect G again. 'What can I do?' Disabled
father. Large family
22 Mahmoud S
17 yrs
R elbow
'For the record, I will never go back to collecting gravel for it's a death profession.'
23 Hatem S
17 yrs
Head – back of.
Embedded 'shrapnel' from bullet
Headache plus nausea

Global Research Articles by David Halpin

It's not just Tunisians who are hungry

Cam McGrath, The Electronic Intifada, 21 January 2011

Twenty percent of Egyptians live in poverty. (Matthew Cassel)

CAIRO (IPS) - "Break my heart but don't come near my bread" goes an old Arabic proverb. Failure to observe it has often come at a high political price.Just ask Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has now fled.

For weeks his countrymen had protested against high unemployment, endemic corruption and political repression. They also decried the high cost of staple food items such as wheat, sugar and milk, whose prices rose about 25 percent in the first week of January.

"We want bread, water and Ben Ali out," one group of protestors chanted.

On Friday, after a brutal crackdown and last-minute concessions failed to contain the rising tide, the embattled Tunisian president fled to Saudi Arabia with his family.

Commentators said Ben Ali, who ruled the North African country with an iron fist for 23 years, grossly underestimated the public's anger over being unable to put food on the table. It was a cardinal error by an aging dictator who a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks described as being out of touch with his people.

The disgraced despot would have done well to recall the bread riots in 1984 that left some eighty Tunisians dead and almost unhinged the government of his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba.

Similar protests erupted in Egypt in 1977, Morocco in 1981 and Jordan in 1989. And it was bread riots in 1988 that eventually brought Islamists to the verge of parliamentary control in Algeria -- a situation that led to a decade-long civil war.

Providing cheap food to the masses is part of an unwritten pact between Arab dictators and their people. Since the 1950s, authoritarian Arab regimes have committed to distributing subsidized food staples such as bread, milk and eggs to their populations in exchange for political quiescence.

"While officials acknowledge the burden that subsidies put on national budgets, they have been hesitant to reduce or remove them," says economist Abdel Fatah el-Gebali of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. "They worry it could cause inflation and lead to social upheaval."

In Egypt, which allocates about seven percent of GDP to fuel and food subsidies, plans to restructure the food subsidy program are whispered in the halls of parliament. The government wants to replace the current "in-kind" system with a cash payment system that it says would directly target those who need it most. Yet the controversial plan is repeatedly delayed by nervous officials.

Antiquated and inefficient subsidy systems from Rabat to Riyadh are now buckling under the pressure of record-high global food (and fuel) prices. Arab governments face the dilemma: absorb the extra costs of food inflation into national subsidy programs at the risk of deepening budget deficits, or permit domestic food prices to rise at the risk of social unrest.

Tunisia appears to have chosen unwisely.

Of course, food inflation is not a problem on its own. It is the combustible mixture of poverty, high unemployment, economic disparity and rising living costs that has turned the region into a powder keg.

Arab Labor Organization (ALO) figures show that Arab countries have among the highest unemployment rates in the world -- an average of 14.5 percent in fiscal year 2007/08 compared with the international average of 5.7 percent. The rates may even be higher if one accepts unofficial estimates.

According to national figures, more than 20 percent of Egyptians live on less than two dollars per day, the UN-recognized poverty threshold. In Algeria, about 23 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, while in Morocco it is 14.3 percent, in Tunisia it is 12.8 percent, and in Yemen the rate exceeds 45 percent.

The popular uprising that sent Tunisia's president packing was not a political movement, but a spontaneous economic revolt by citizens unable to make ends meet. It began when Mohammad Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate, doused himself with kerosene and set himself alight after Tunisian police confiscated the unlicensed produce cart he was using to make a living.

"Tunisians and Algerians are hungry. The Egyptians and Yemenis are right behind them," Emirati commentator Mishaal al-Gergawi wrote in the Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News. "Mohammad Bouazizi didn't set himself on fire because he couldn't blog or vote. People set themselves on fire because they can't stand seeing their family wither away slowly, not of sorrow, but of cold stark hunger."

Bouazizi's self-immolation on 17 December 2010 sparked a conflagration that toppled the Tunisian government and now threatens to engulf much of the Arab world.

Should the region's autocratic rulers be worried? To date, they have managed to retain power through sham elections and by neutralizing and demoralizing political opposition. But a bread intifada -- in which the disenfranchised masses are ready to face down bullets to secure food for their families -- can be a very formidable force.

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2011). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

The rabbis of the devil

By Khalid Amayreh
[ 22/01/2011 - 12:54 AM ]

Imagine, just imagine, the outcry that would follow an imagined call by a European Muslim or Christian religious leader suggesting sending hundreds of thousands of Jews to concentration camps. The Sheikh or priest or bishop would be lambasted beyond imagination, and his denomination or church would immediately distance itself from his foolish remarks.

Political authorities would also declare that Nazi-minded Sheikh or bishop has no place in modern Europe and that governments would nip the hateful and racist elements in the bud. In short, he would be looked upon as a pariah, to say the very least. He even might be forced to commit suicide under public pressure.

As to Jewish circles, their protests would be clarion and omnipresent.

But how would things look like if such a call took place in Israel and was made by a popular rabbi, with hundreds of thousands of followers?

According to a weekly Hebrew magazine, several rabbis, including the rabbi of Safad, Shmuel Eliyahu, recently proposed the establishment of death camps for the Palestinians.

The magazine indicated that the creation of these camps would be the duty of all devout Jews.

The Yedeot Ahronot's YNet on Saturday, 15 January quoted the rabbis as stating that the Torah requires Jews to wipe out any trace of the so-called Amalek in Palestine . Many religious Jews refer to their perceived or real enemies as Amalek.

The YNet quoted Jewish intellectual Audi Aloni as saying that calls for the extermination of Palestinians are openly made in the synagogues as the genocidal idea has become a practical option.

"No one objected to Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safad and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Chief Rabbi of Beit El, who undersigned the advisory opinion, which suggested approval for their opinion."

I realize that these evil men don't represent Jews everywhere, nor do they even represent the entire rabbinic community. There are many esteemed rabbis who reject outright the satanic mindset permeating through the landscape of the sick minds of people like Elyahu, his cohorts and evil colleagues.

The Torah, after all, was supposed to be a light upon humanity. But when it becomes, thanks to those rabbis of Satan, a tool for genocide, there is obviously a huge catch-22 hanging over Judaism's conscience.

Again, the fact that these nefarious rabbis don't represent the entirety of Judaism is no guarantee that their damage will be limited. A fool man's fire could frustrate a thousand wise men who wouldn't know how to put it off.

Isn't this the way the holocaust started? It didn't start with concentration camps, or even with Kristalnacht. Such death camps as Auschwitz , Treblinka, Mauthauzen and Bergen Belsen became only known much later.

The purpose of this small piece is not to vilify or demonize Jews. Nor am I particularly enthusiastic about hurling Nazi epithets at Jews. However, nothing should be further from truth.

The call for sending millions of Palestinians to concentration camps means that a sizeable segment of the Israeli Jewish society is capable, at least mentally, of embarking on the unthinkable. It means that a real Jewish holocaust against the Palestinian people is not outside the realm of imagination.

This matter is well known, even known too well for us who live in this part of the world. After all, Israel demonstrated two years ago, during its Nazi-like onslaught on the Gaza Strip, that it could do the unthinkable.

And that was not the first time Israel behaved manifestly nefariously. In 2006, during the Israeli aggression on Lebanon , the Israeli air force dropped more than 2,000,000 cluster bomblets on South Lebanon civilian areas, arguably enough to kill or maim at least 2 million Lebanese children.

The scant media coverage of the latest diabolic statements by the rabbis of evil in no way lessens their gravity and seriousness. After all, these are not marginal or isolated figures in society.

In fact, paying not sufficient attention to this phenomenon is tantamount to encouraging it. If Germans and others had not kept silence in the late 1920s and early 1930s, many things wouldn't have occurred.

I would want to be cautious drawing historical analogy between every thing happening in Israel today and everything that happened in Europe several decades ago. However, there are certain parallels that shouldn't escape our attention, and the latest outrageous statements by these diabolical rabbis are one of them.

Let no one say that words are innocuous and can't kill; nay, words can kill and do kill. A few years ago, a Jewish immigrant from France decapitated a Palestinian cabby from East Jerusalem after the taxi-driver gave the killer a ride to his home north of Tel Aviv. And when the murderer was eventually arrested and interrogated by the police, he said he heard his neighborhood synagogue rabbi say that the lives of non-Jews had no sanctity.

More to the point, it is abundantly clear that thousands of Israeli soldiers would rather heed and obey their respective rabbis' homilies than their army superiors' instructions when it comes to treating Palestinians. This fact was revealed during the Israeli onslaught on Gaza two years ago when Israeli soldiers knowingly and deliberately murdered innocent civilians, including children, by the hundreds.

But this is not the time for demonization; it is rather the time for action. Jewish leaders of all orientations should speak up as strongly as possible against those who are besmirching the good name of their religion.

The likes of Shmuel Eliyahu must be told that there is no place in Judaism for those who advocate genocide for non-Jews. In the final analysis, when Jews or anybody else think or behave or act like the Nazis acted, they simply become Nazis themselves.

Finally, Jews shouldn't keep silent in the face of these abominations just because the media and public opinion in the West are more or less keeping silent. Well, since when a moral stance was decided by other people's apathy or silence? In fact, the immoral silence of much of the west toward what is happening in Israel these days is bad and dangerous for Jews and their future.

Anything that causes moral desensitization to occur is definitely bad. This is to put it extremely mildly.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Tunisian PM Vows to Quit Politics after Polls

22/01/2011 Tunisian prime minister pledged to quit after holding first polls since the independence from France, and after the ouster of Ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In an interview with Tunisian television on Friday, Mohammed Ghannouchi said the transition rule will lead to legislative and presidential elections “in the shortest possible timeframe.”

“After the transition, I will retire from political life,” Ghannouchi said promising to stage "transparent and democratic elections -- the first since independence" from France in 1956.

"My role is to bring my country out of this temporary phase and even if I am nominated I will refuse it and leave politics," Ghannouchi said.

He also said: "all undemocratic laws will be scrapped" during the transition to democracy, mentioning electoral, anti-terrorism and media laws.


After a month of widespread protests which force Ben Ali, who was for 23 years in power, to fled to Saudi Arabia, protesters have continued to demand the departure of all remnants of the ex-president’s old guard.

The prime minister, who occupied the same post in the previous government before the downfall of Ben Ali exactly a week ago, was speaking as protesters Friday called for all old regime figures to be removed from government.

"Like all Tunisians, I was afraid" under Ben Ali, Ghannouci said in the interview, his ever first direct address to the nation.

Earlier in the day, thousands of Tunisians gathered in front of the interior ministry, demanding the dissolution of the new interim government.

The protesters marched down the Avenue Habib Bourguiba on Friday morning in Tunis, chanting anti-government slogans.

Police blocked the protesters at the interior ministry and prepared water cannons, media reports said. Protesters soon dispersed, with many heading towards the headquarters of the main labor union, calling for a general strike.

Abid Briki, deputy head of the powerful labor union, UGTT, told AFP news agency: "The executive committee of the UGTT met today and called for the dissolution of the government and the formation of a new government for national salvation."

The union has refused to recognize the new government announced on Monday, in which key figures from the Ben Ali regime hold powerful posts, withdrawing its three appointees.

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Captives’ relatives protested at French FM visit to Gaza

[ 20/01/2011 - 10:01 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian captives’ families in the Gaza Strip came out in protest, throwing eggs and in some cases, shoes, as the French Foreign Minister Michel Alliot-Marie and her entourage visited the besieged region on Friday morning.

Dozens of families who have their loved ones imprisoned unlawfully in Israeli prisons, expressed their anger and dismay at statements attributed to her openly supporting Gilad Shalit's campaign.

Alliot-Marie's comments came during a meeting on Thursday afternoon where she is reported to have called on the European Union to condemn Hamas for the continued imprisonment of Gilad Shalit, which she described as a "war crime". Sources report that she was misquoted by the Israeli Arabic-language radio.

Protestors held "Get out of Gaza" signs and tried to block the convoy as it travelled through the Strip.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri considered remarks the French FM was alleged to have made during her meeting with Shalit’s family said that the FM’s remarks reflect bias to the Israeli occupation adding that Shalit was captured from the battlefield while thousands of Palestinians who are languishing in occupation jails have been kidnapped from the midst of their families.

Hamas slams Alliot-Marie for ignoring suffering of Palestinians in Israeli jails

[ 22/01/2011 - 08:17 AM ]

DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement strongly denounced French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie for describing, during a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit as a war crime and ignoring the suffering of thousands of Palestinians who were kidnapped from their homes.

In a press release on Friday, Hamas stated that Shalit was taken prisoner as he was aboard an Israeli tank besieging and pointing its gun at Gaza people.

Hamas underscored that Alliot-Marie's remarks were a diplomatic discourtesy from her side and reflected her blatant bias in favor of the Israeli occupation.

It added that the French minister affronted the Palestinian people and their prisoners in Israeli jails when it made such irresponsible remarks, and demanded the French government to apologize to the Palestinian people.

For its part, the Palestinian resistance committees said that Alliot-Marie's claims that the Palestinian resistance committed a war crime when it captured an Israeli soldier proved France's full support for the policies of the Israeli occupation in the region.

Spokesman for the committees Mohamed Al-Barim stated that Alliot-Marie knows well that Shalit was aboard an Israeli tank used to kill Palestinians east of Rafah area when he was captured by resistance fighters, stressing that the resistance has the right to take every Israeli assaulting the Palestinian people prisoner.

Spokesman Barim emphasized that the perpetrators of war crimes are the people who are occupying the Palestinian land, and committing massacres and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.

The spokesman demanded France, which intervened more than once to have Shalit released, to desist from statements showing loyalty to the Zionist project in the region and doing no justice to the Palestinian people who struggle for their freedom.

In a related incident, spokesman for Wa'ed society for detainees Abdullah Qandil told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the families of Gazan prisoners in Israeli jails set up a sit-in tent near Beit Hanoun crossing, north of Gaza, in protest at the remarks made by Alliot-Marie who ignored the suffering of about 7,000 Palestinians detained in Israel's jails.

Spokesman Qandil added that some of the families under the insistence of Alliot-Marie on not meeting them to listen to their suffering got irritated and expressed their anger at her through intercepting her motorcade.

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Fatal Detraction?

The increasingly volatile pre trial phase of the Lebanon tribunal

Franklin Lamb

It appears that no acceptable compromise regarding the divergent Lebanese political stances relative to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will be achieved. Support for this hypothesis can be found in the past 24 hours activities of the would-be mediators.

The Saudi King Abdullah, ‘lifted our hand’ (i.e. abandoned mediation) cold. The Turk and Qatari envoys split, the Americans fumbled, Jumblatt flipped his choice from anti-US Omar Karami to pro-US Prime Minister (again!) and then flipped back once again and now, who knows?

Hezbollah’s main Christian ally, Michel Aoun defamed and cursed (ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the American Ambassador respectively), Syria stressed, Iran warned, Egypt remained incoherent, the Arab League waffled and adjourned “pending developments”, Hezbollah prepared, and ex-PM Saad Hariri insisted that he’s going to fight to keep his job after all. His decision late yesterday puts Saad on a collision course with the Hezbollah led March 8 “minority” which, in fact, may now be the “majority”.

The odds are that Saad will not be back as Prime Minister but that Omar Karami will. The Hariri empire and its American and Saudi allies will very likely take revenge on the new Hezbollah controlled government and gut Lebanon’s economy. The Saudi Wahabists are said to be not disposed to bail out a Shia dominated country run by those they claim refuse to accept the legitimate Sunnah of the prophet Mohammad. As one Saudi journalist suggested this morning, “ Let Hezbollah and Iran put their money where their mouths are. They are going to learn a thing or two about the real World.”
It is possible that before long, Le Liban Ancien may be gone with the wind. Indicted, convicted, condemned, dispatched and gifted to others by profoundly flawed American-Israel regional policies. Not even my astute motorbike mechanic, Hussein, is bold enough to say, whether after the coming events that he is predicting, Lebanon can rise like the sacred firebird Phoenix or will simply implode one last time into ashes to be scattered.
This week, citizens are staying inside their houses more than usual, the Lebanese army is deployed at key intersections and overpasses, and some friends are cleaning their weapons and pondering whether civil war era ammunition will still fire when needed. “ Informal economy ” gun prices, like the cost of benzene, bottled gas, and fuel oil rose twice this week.

A few hours ago, someone from the Chinese Embassy called (the gentleman must have got my card from me during their fabulous reception and feast celebrating China’s National day a few months ago) asking if I thought Lebanon would be safe for Chinese tourists, as a group from Beijing is planning to come to Lebanon before long. Once more, I had to confess to total cluelessness. Meanwhile the Embassy of Qatar has just announced that all its citizens should leave Lebanon.

Serious doubts are being raised about the post-investigative/pre-trial phases of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), specifically regarding the increasing numbers of leaks, the failure of the so-called Syrian-Saudi initiative, unfulfilled Prosecution pledges to take action against wild media stories and perceived legal problems with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s Statute and Rules of Procedure.
Some STL staff and observers are reportedly concerned that the competition and enmity between the Canadian Danial Bellemare and the Belgium pre-Trial Judge Danial Fransen may also harm the STL’s progress.

The reputably mega-ego Bellemare is said to be still smarting from what he considered the unwarranted and rude judicial slap down he received earlier this year from judge Fransen concerning the Jamil Sayeed case.
Sayeed was one of four Lebanese pro-Syrian Generals who spent nearly four years imprisoned for alleged involvement in the Hariri assassination based on what some believes was grandstanding tactics, including false witnesses, by Bellemare’s predecessor, German lawyer, Detlev Mehlis who recommended the generals be jailed based on Zuhair Siddiq’s false testimony.
General Sayeed and his colleagues are understandably mad as hell and are demanding justice following release from prison after the STL acknowledged there was insufficient evidence to have held them in the first place. Bellemare objected to Sayeed being allowed due process Judicial Discovery in order that he might learn the evidence against him that led to his imprisonment and Bellemare was unexpectedly overruled by Judge Fransen. Sayeed’s case continues, as a side event of the STL.
Separate from the reported smoldering Bellemare-Fransen animus which hopefully will not cause the proceedings to become fatally mired, there are serious doubts among some legal international law students about problems with trying the suspects Bellemare has identified in his indictments. One named indictee is said to be a Middle East country head of state and also head of government, who like no fewer than 8 Arab countries “popular leaders of the people” got his job from his dad based on primogeniture rather than his personal record of public service.

Can the STL stage Hamlet without the Prince being present?

Increasingly, international legal critics of the STL are also highlighting flaws in the Special Tribunals Statute and Rules of Procedure. One Court Statue provision is particularly seen to be fundamentally inconsistent with international law, and which binds Lebanon, is Article 22 of the Tribunal’s Statute.

Article 22 allows for trials in absentia. One problem is that trying suspects in absentia is virtually unheard of among international ad hoc and ‘hybrid’ UN courts. In absentia trials have been consistently forbidden in international tribunals ever since the 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. Absentia trials were then, and ever since the end of WW II, have been condemned for the simple reason that in absentia trials allow for deep and broad politicization of the judicial process.

A careful reading of the STL Statute leads to the conclusion that not only does Article 22 authorize in absentia trials, but it requires them. As such, Article 22 violates Lebanon’s rights and obligations under international legal standards and practice. In absentia trials will almost certainly lead to the political corruption of fair trial standards and thus gives rise to legitimate grounds for Lebanon and other countries to withhold cooperation from the work of the Tribunal. In absentia trials also will delegitimize the work product of the Lebanon Tribunal leaving any resulting verdicts deeply flawed and likely rejected by international public and legal opinion.

How so?

The right to Habeas Corpus, being the fundamental right of a person to be present at trial is enshrined in Article 14(3)(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is binding upon Lebanon. It states that any person charged with a criminal offence has the right to be present at trial. This right is a minimum due process guarantee and it is required at all stages of the STL proceedings. The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) ruled in Mbenge v. Zaire that everyone is entitled to be tried in his presence and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance. This provision in Article 14 cannot reasonably be said to always prohibit proceedings in absentia and sometimes international humanitarian law would allow them.

One case would be when the accused person, after being given actual notice of the charges, sufficiently in advance of trial, knowingly declines the habeas corpus right. The critical question, then, is precisely when departure from the norm in the fulfillment of this objective is justified and does the STL Statue violate international law? It is submitted that the Court’s reasoning in Mbenge v. Zaire is sound and once it is appreciated where the burden of proving the accused’s knowledge lies — that is, on the prosecution — it becomes plain that any argument based on the accused have received informal knowledge or constructive knowledge is bound to fail. Thus, as indicated by the Court in Mbenge v. Zaire, the accused must at a minimum be served with a summons if the STL Office of the Prosecution is to discharge its burden.

The case law of both the Human Rights Council and of the European Court affirms that, absent a right of retrial, actual notice of the proceedings on the part of the accused is a necessary condition in order for those proceedings to be compliant with Article 14(3)(d) of the ICCPR or Article 6 ECHR. Therefore, under the relevant rules of international law binding upon Lebanon, absent an unfettered right of retrial, which the STL Statute does not provide, it is impermissible to commence a trial in the absence of the accused unless it can be demonstrated that, at the very least, the defendant had actual and direct knowledge of the proceedings. Meaning he/she must be personally served a summons.

In additions, Article 14(3)(d) of the ICCPR, read in light of the subsequent practice concerning trials in absentia in many jurisdictions, indicates that (subject to retrial at the accused’s option) a court may not commence or proceed with a trial unless the prosecutor is able to establish that the accused possessed actual knowledge of the proceedings and intended to waive his right to be present.

Article 22 STL Statute, entitled ‘trials in absentia’, provides as follows:
  1. The Special Tribunal shall conduct trial proceedings in the absence of the accused, if he or she:
    1. Has expressly and in writing waived his or her right to be present;
    2. Has not been handed over to the Tribunal by the State authorities concerned;
    3. Has absconded or otherwise cannot be found and all reasonable steps have been taken to secure his or her appearance before the Tribunal and to inform him or her of the charges confirmed by the Pre-Trial Judge.
Another of the problems with Article 22 is the real likelihood that ‘the State authorities concerned’ may have ‘failed’ to hand over the accused for various legitimate reasons. For example, how can it be known which State authorities are “ concerned” given that the whereabouts of the accused person would likely be unknown. Moreover, as a simple matter of public international law, Countries are under no obligation whatsoever to extradite suspects for trial in another Country. To do so is arguably unlawful in the absence of an extradition treaty providing a basis in law for such an extradition. International law does not permits canceling an individual’s right to appear at his own trial on the basis that some third state (possibly hostile to the accused or relevant Country) has not done a positive act that it is under no obligation to do. Also, the fact that a Country may have refused to extradite an accused person is immaterial when it comes to the critical question of whether the accused himself knew of the proceedings against him and voluntarily elected not to attend.

It is possible that the international community will tire of the STL, given all the tribunals perceived defects, long before any verdicts are achieved or appeals exhausted. It remains to be seen what becomes of the original objectives contemplated by UN Security Council Resolution­­­­ 1757 as serious questions are increasingly raised about the wisdom of the UN stamping its imprimatur to a widely suspected US-Israel project in the first place.
Dr. Franklin Lamb is Director of the Sabra Shatila Foundation.

Beirut Mobile: +961-70-497-804
Office: +961-01-352-127
He is working with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign in Lebanon on drafting legislation which, after 62 years, would, if adopted by Lebanon’s Cabinet and Parliament grant the right to work and to own a home to Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugees. One part of the PCRC legislative project is its online Petition which can be viewed and signed at:

Franklin Lamb’s book on the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, International Legal Responsibility for the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, now out of print, was published in 1983, following Janet’s death and was dedicated to Janet Lee Stevens. He was a witness before the Israeli Kahan Commission Inquiry, held at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in January 1983.

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