Saturday 16 April 2011

Prisoners go on hunger strike to mark Palestinian Prisoner Day

[ 16/04/2011 - 05:06 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinians held in Israeli prisons have decided to go on hunger strike on Sunday as a warning before going on an open ended hunger strike soon in order to have their demands met for an end to isolation and medical neglect, the Gaza ministry of prisoner affairs said on Saturday.

The ministry called on the Palestinian masses to take to the streets and show solidarity with those prisoners going on hunger strike as they mark Palestinian Prisoner Day in order to draw attention to their cause.
”The prisoner circumstances have reached the worst stage altogether. The prison administration has closed every door in front of them, and there remains nothing for them except to go on an open hunger strike until their legal rights are attained,” the ministry said in a fresh statement.

”The strike will not be successful unless there is a strong, parallel, and simultaneous solidarity campaign, in order to send a clear message to Israel that we will not renounce our prisoners, and we will not leave them easy prey for the Israeli prison system.”

The statement addressed Israel and the family of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by resistance forces, asserting that the continued detention of Palestinian prisoners would force factions to try and capture more soldiers in order to negotiate the freedom of more Palestinian prisoners.
”If you want to regain your son Shalit, you must pressure your government in order to end its practices against those prisoners and meet the conditions of the factions and release the long time prisoners who have spent more than twenty years in detention.

Without that you will never see Shalit, but rather you will be forced to pay an even greater price should Allah permit that the resistance factions capture more soldiers.”
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Assad Announces Emergency Law to Be Abolished Within a Week

Assad Announces Emergency Law to Be Abolished Within a Week

As the new Syrian government was sworn in on Saturday, President Bashar Assad declared that the emergency law in force since 1963 will be abolished within a week.

While noting that Syria is passing through a delicate phase and conspiracy is always there, Assad highlighted that his country was facing big challenge. “The government can’t make any progress without the public support,” he emphasized.

Assad expressed sorrow over the deaths in Syria since violence erupted. "We are sad for all the people we have lost and all the people injured, and consider them all martyrs," he said.

The Syrian President pointed out that the commission investigating the latest clashes is continuing its work to determine what happened and to hold accountable those responsible.
Prime Minister Adel Safar unveiled Thursday his new cabinet, which is expected to carry out broad reforms including the lifting of the emergency law imposed since the Baath party seized power.

Meanwhile, the official news agency SANA reported that Sergeant Major Issam Mohammad Hassan of Homs police force was martyred on Friday after he was assaulted by protestors in Homs.

Commander of Homs police Gen. Hamid Assad al-Murrai stated that after the Friday prayer, a protest marched from in front of Khaled Ibn al-Walid Mosque, heading towards the city center. Rioting and assaulting of security personnel took place during the protest, leading to the martyring of Sgt. Maj. Hassan after he was hit on the chest and head with sticks and rocks by protestors.

Sgt. Maj. Hassan was born in 1979 in Dweir Raslan, Tartous. He left behind a wife and two children. He will be laid to rest on Saturday at the Martyrs Cemetery, accompanied by a fitting official procession.

In other developments, a number of groups of citizens took to the streets after Friday prayer in different Syrian cities, chanting slogans advocating Syria, freedom and the martyrs without security force intervention. SANA said that most of these gatherings broke up after a short time and normal life prevailed in the residential areas.

In Daraa governorate, thousands of people gathered at the Justice Palace Square in the city after Friday prayer chanting slogans calling for freedom, without the presence of security or armed forces.

In the rest of the governorates, the cities of Derbassiyeh, Qamishli, Deir Ez-Zour, Homs,Banias, Jableh, Haffeh, Hama and some areas of Damascus countryside witnessed limited gatherings which broke up without friction with security forces, with life returning to normal afterwards.

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Bardawil: Abbas's decision to halt smear campaign against Hamas is useless

[ 16/04/2011 - 02:02 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Senior Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil belittled the importance of Mahmoud Abbas's declared intention to stop the media smear campaign against Hamas Movement so as to create a climate for national reconciliation.

Bardawil said that Abbas' orders to stop the smear campaign is a media stunt because his focus of interest is not to end the inter-Palestinian division but to keep the security cooperation and the peace talks with Israel.

He underlined that Abbas was not honest about his intentions towards Hamas and his talk about halting media incitement against it is useless because his political arrest campaign in the West Bank never stopped against its cadres for a moment.

A spokesman for Fatah faction had said that Abbas issued orders to stop all media campaigns against Hamas.

In a related context, director of the Palestinian center of studies in Cairo Ibraheem Adderawi disclosed that Abbas's recent visit to Cairo was intended to curtail any Egyptian response with Hamas's demands regarding the Palestinian reconciliation and to read Egypt's new political landscape after the revolution.

Derawi added that Abbas stressed during his meeting with Egyptian officials the need for continuing to close Rafah border crossing (in order to help Israel tighten the blockade on Gaza) and not to recognize Hamas until it accepts the Palestinian reconciliation according to Fatah's vision.

He expressed his belief that this position explains why head of Fatah's parliamentary bloc Azzam Al-Ahmed avoided meeting with Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar while in Cairo and Abbas with political leader Khaled Mishaal.

"I have information that Mahmoud Abbas has issued a circular to his authority's embassies all over the world in which he confirmed that Egypt's stance towards the Palestinian issue had not changed and that Cairo would not deal with Hamas or recognize it, so Abbas's visit to Cairo was not for a reconciliation with Hamas, but it was to curb Egypt's sympathy with it and to read the Egyptian political scene following the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak," the center director emphasized.

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Hero of Gaza: Vittorio Arrigoni, Kidnapped and Murdered

Tim King and Bonnie King
"I have seen my brother Vik's body and his death certificate, but Vik is not dead." -Ken O'Keefe

All photos of Vittorio Arrigoni provided by Ken O'Keefe

(SALEM / GAZA) - Italian Journalist Vittorio Arrigoni's body has reportedly been found in Gaza. He was killed by a small faction of religious radicals according to reports.

Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO) wrote: "While Hamas forces were intensely searching Doghmosh area to find them, abductors tried to leave, when two of them were caught by Hamas. A third, who was with Vittorio, was given a signal to kill him. We lost a brother."
Al Jazeera reports that Hamas police stormed an apartment in Gaza City belonging to a member of the group that released a video of the activist. A police officer said four people were arrested in another location, in connection with the abduction.

Those on the ground in this embattled region of Palestine had held out hope along with the rest of us, that he would be returned alive.

The Hamas government had earlier made statements that led supporters to believe that Vik Arrigoni would be returned alive.

People in Gaza have a voice because of hard working dedicated peace activists like Vik Arrigoni. Beyond the overly religious fanatical Salafist radicals, the only detractors this man had were Israeli Zionists who wished for his death for years.
This a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior and National Security with the Palestinian National Authority:
Explanatory statement issued by the Ministry of Interior on the circumstances of the "kidnapping and killing of Italian Solidarity Activist"
(Roughly translated from Arabic)
The Ministry of Interior said that since the arrival of the news of the abduction of Italian Solidarity Activist Vittorio, the security agency Balastnfar launched a full search and investigation.

This resulted in contact with one member of the group who disclosed the location where Vittorio was being held. She led the security services toward the place where he was being held where they found that the victim, Vittorio, had "been killed hours ago in an ugly way" (according to the forensic report).

Faced with this situation, we affirmed the following:
First: the Palestinian government condemns the heinous crime that does not reflect our values, our religion and our customs and traditions, and confirms that it will hunt down the rest of the members of the group and will implement the law against them.
Secondly: We emphasize that this crime does not reflect the true state of the atmosphere of security and order in the Gaza Strip, does not imply a retreat, and will remain the Government is keen to promote stability, security and safety as this incident is the first of its kind in years.
Third: The initial data indicate the intention of the kidnappers was Murder. As he was murdered shortly after he was kidnapped.
Four: The motives behind this crime, though it seems intellectually certain, but it demonstrates the hands are still plotting against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and want to undermine the security and steadfastness, and achieve a state of terror for the movement of people of the world's solidarity with the Gaza Strip, especially the enemy Zionist looking at ways to prevent the fleet of freedom that was after the second campaign of international solidarity and the impact of a role in loosening the embargo imposed five years ago.
Fifth: The Ministry emphasizes the brothers in the media must pay attention to any rumor or news that is not accurate with respect to this crime, and to rely on official information from the Ministry.

Ken O'Keefe and Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza
You will note in the video below that Ken O'Keefe, our writer and diehard activist friend in Gaza, does not believe or at least did not, that any Palestinian could be responsible for Vik's death.

Indeed, it is hard to imagine anyone doing this to a man who was so well loved and respected. It is exceedingly clear that everything is out of sync.

Juliano Mer-Khamis
The perpetrators of this crime Ken suggests, were Zionist agents of Israel. This is the obvious relentless enemy of the Palestinian people, with frequent strikes on civilian targets in Gaza from U.S. made fighter jets and drones.

Just a few days ago, on 4 April 2011, Filmmaker Juliano Mer-Khamis was Murdered in Jenin, the scene of severe fighting during the Second Intifada.
Juilano's mother Arna had famously provided a haven for the Palestinian youth in Jenin. She was Jewish, her husband, Juliano's father, was a Palestinian Christian.
Juliano was murdered in front of his wife by masked men who were immediately assumed to be Palestinian.
In the bigger picture, nothing was gained for Palestinians in any way by either man's death.

Legacy for Palestine


His life's work is his legacy. It surpassed all boundaries. Vittorio Arrigoni has helped an endless list of Palestinian people over the years and his work has led to a great deal of exposure of the treatment of Palestinians under the Israeli occupation.
As the world moves toward a real understanding of the reality of Gaza; Israeli snipers, constant fear and attacks on civilians from the Israeli military, Vittorio Arrigoni was a bright light. He was close to our friend and fellow writer Ken O'Keefe, and loved by thousands, perhaps millions. The idea that he was taken by a radical faction and killed in Gaza, if this is true, is simply horrifying. Never has a more grave mistake been made.

He was there when the first Freedom Flotilla boat reached Gaza. He has been an ally and key friend of the most successful humanitarian activists and his beliefs and words in action inspired many to become involved with the International Solidarity Movement which he started.

According to the Free Gaza Movement,

"He was aboard the siege-breaking voyage in 2008 with the Free Gaza Movement and was incarcerated in Israeli prisons several times. He was in Gaza throughout Israel’s brutal assault (Operation Cast Lead), assisting medics and reporting to the world what Israel was doing to the Palestinian people. He has been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces for his participation in Palestinian non-violent resistance in the West Bank and Gaza. His last arrest and deportation from the area was a result of the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian fishing vessels in Gazan territorial waters."

An earlier report from al-Arabiya stated that Vittorio's body was found in the al-Saftwai area.
Around 4:30 p.m. west coast time, it was tweeted that Vittorio in the al-Dughmoush family block in Gaza, and the Hamas police were surrounding the area. Several members of the al-Dughmoush family are said to be associated with Salafist.

This is a group that reportedly looks down on Hamas for not being sufficiently religious and they are known for a rejection of western influence. What they have done if this is true, is robbed the life of one of the greatest people dedicating his life to seeing Gaza become free.

I was in contact with a person who worked closely with Vittorio today and she told me the only word is 'anguish'. The only hope now is that people become all the more familiar with this great man who did so much for so many.

The world lost a great spokesman and activist today, but his message is not lost.
Vittorio Arrigoni - Humanitarian - Palestinian - Hero - Martyr - 1975-2011 RIP

Produced by Ken O'Keefe 14/4/11

Articles by Vittorio on

Mar-23-2011: Israel's Attack on Civilians: Two Children Killed - Vittorio Arrigoni Special to
Mar-18-2011: Gaza's Youth: Hopes Broken at 15 March End Of Division Demonstration - By Vittorio Arrigoni for
Mar-04-2011: 15 March Palestine: End of Division - Vittorio Arrigoni for
Nov-10-2010: The First Targeted US Killing in Gaza - Vittorio Arrigoni for


Nov-30-2010: Israeli Soldiers Fire at Road to Hope Convoy Members - Tim King


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. You can send Tim an email at this address:

Publisher Bonnie King has been with since August '04. Bonnie has a wide ranging media background and in her career she has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and NIE/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers. View articles written by Bonnie King

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Jerusalem aid committee announced in Washington

[ 16/04/2011 - 01:57 PM ]

WASHINGTON, (PIC)-- The establishment of an international campaign designed to curb the Israeli Judaization of Jerusalem was announced in United States capital Washington, DC on Friday. The campaign will include a group of international figures as well as political and media events from across the world.

The campaign said it would take Jerusalem as its main contact center, and that the center would be linked to Ramallah, Nazareth, and Gaza to provide information.

The Jerusalem protection campaign is aimed at protecting Jerusalem families who are threatened by Israeli plans to displace major portions of the Arab population in the city and replace them with Jewish settlers.

The nature of the group's work is concentrated in transmitting news and reports to media by using reporters stationed across the globe. It has a keen interest to be fully independent and non-alligned with any political party.

The announcement comes as Washington has passed a decision to heavily increase support for the Israeli army.

The US has allocated $205m of its national budget to enhance and develop the Israeli army's anti missile systems, as the Iron Dome system is being deployed in Israel to intercept rocket-propelled short projectile missiles.

According to Israeli media sources, the US House of Representatives has approved the move in the largest yet grant to enhance an anti-missile defense system. Sources from the army had admitted beforehand that the Iron Dome system failed to intercept rockets launched by resistance forces in Gaza.

The US aid will also cover more Israel-US anti-missile projects.

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WikiLeaks: Murr Says Sleiman Will Fight Hezbollah!

Another WikiLeaks cable revealed on Saturday that Defense Minister in the caretaker government in Lebanon Elias Murr has told the Americans that President Michel Sleiman was set to fight Hezbollah till the end.


According to the cable, Murr told then US ambassador to Beirut Michele Sisson that the president was disappointed that the independent Christians were choosing not to run in the election, citing prominent industrialist Nemat Frem inparticular.

Sleiman reportedly conveyed to Murr his “frustration” with Hezbollah, and said he would fight Hezbollah to the end. Murr said he sensed a change in Sleiman's attitude toward Hezbollah from when he was LAF Commander and believes that Sleiman is feeling increasingly hindered by Hezbollah, hence the hardening of his attitude.

Murr posited that Sleiman had expected Hezbollah would not compete strongly against the President's former aide, Nazem Khoury, for a seat in Jbeil district. Sleiman realized now, however, that Hezbollah would not make such an agreement and would strongly support its political ally Michel Aoun against Christian candidates, including Khoury, the cable quoted him as saying. Sleiman saw that Hezbollah’s only “gift” to Sleiman was the presidency, Murr said.

Murr claimed that his colleague in the cabinet, Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, had been making frequent visits to Michel Aoun's residence, which is near Murr's. When he passed thisinformation on to Sleiman, Murr said, the president threatened Baroud with making him resign.


During the same meeting, which took place on the eve of Murr’s visit to Washinton, the Defense Minister discussed the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) many successes and credited US military assistance. He made a plea for an additional close-air support deliverable to demonstrate to so-called moderate Lebanese Christians (whose votes key swing districts are expected to determine the outcome of the June 7 parliamentary elections) and continued US support for the moderates in Lebanon.

Murr noted that he would be the first Christian political figure from the Middle East to go to Washington since Obama's election. Appreciative of the anticipated May shipment of military equipment from the US (Ref C) and the impending arrival of the Caravan, Murr made a plea for the announcement of an additional close-air support deliverable from the US during his trip.

Murr requested "some sort of aviation to sell to Christian voters during the elections." He clarified that he knew it was unreasonable to expect an actual deliverable before the June 7 parliamentary elections, but argued that an announcement of something to come from the US would be ideal in demonstrating continued US support for the moderates in Lebanon. He also suggested that a US push for UAE provision of 10 Hawks (from the UAE's inventory of 30 Hawks to be retired) would be welcome.

Murr feared Hezbollah and Free Patriotic Movement opposition Christian leader Michel Aoun would attack him in the headlines if he returned from the US "empty-handed."


According to the cable, dated April 4, 2006, Murr relayed that the Russian Defense Minister wants to visit Lebanon. He added that the Russians have been asking when the LAF officers would go to Russia for training on the MiG-29s it offered to the LAF in December (Ref D).

Murr said he had already begun hinting to the Russians that he did not want the fighter aircraft. He reiterated to the Ambassador that Lebanon would not be accepting the MiG-29s for a long time. "Not before 2040!" he stressed.

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Egypt Court Dissolves Former Ruling Party

The Higher Administrative Court in Cairo ordered on Saturday the dissolution of the political party of former President Hosni Mubarak, one of the demands of the protesters who ended his 30-year rule. It also ordered the liquidation of the assets of the National Democratic Party (NDP), with the funds to be returned to the state.

The NDP was fighting for its survival after protests forced the strongman to resign on February 11 and much of its senior leadership is now behind bars on suspicion of corruption. Others such as Hossam Badrawi, who briefly led the party before resigning in protest when Mubarak tarried in stepping down, either defected or are planning to form a new party.

The NDP dominated Egyptian politics since it was set up by Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar el-Sadat, in 1978.

Talaat Sadat, the late president's nephew, was appointed as the new head of the party after the revolt. Sources said he was at Saturday's hearing, after which opponents of the party began chanting "The NDP is illegitimate."
Some NDP properties were inherited from the previous incarnation of the ruling party in Sadat's time, while others are leased from private owners, its members claim. There are also separate, private lawsuits demanding the return of some of the buildings to their owners.

The party's headquarters were torched during the protests that led Mubarak to step down in February, and are now being fought over by the Cairo governorate, which wants to turn it into a park and the Egyptian Museum across the street.

Its remaining members had hoped to contest the upcoming parliamentary election in September and argued that they had cut ties with corrupt party officials and apologized to Egyptians for "party mistakes."

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Obama, take away the pain in my stomach

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Popular committee planning march to occupied Palestine borders

[ 16/04/2011 - 09:59 AM ]

AMMAN, (PIC)-- The Jordanian popular committee to commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe) announced it was planning a march to the Jordanian borders with occupied Palestine on the 64th anniversary of the Nabka on 15th May.

Tawfik Abu Ershaid, the committee's spokesman, said on Friday that the march would pose as a symbolic return of Palestinian refugees to their occupied homeland.

He added that a massive sit-in and rally would be organized in front of the UN offices in Amman among other events that would be organized over a week to remember the Nakba back in 1948 when Zionist gangs usurped the land of Palestine and declared the state of Israel.

 The committee urged Jordanians in general and Palestinian refugees in Jordan in particular to participate in the events.

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Now Israel Is Free to Declare Its Innocence before the International Court of Justice

April 15, 2011 posted by Prof. William A. Cook

United States Congress has once again jumped to the fore as defender of the beleaguered state of Israel by writing a letter to the UNHRC

Let us present this case as objectively as we can… A few photos of Israeli use of white phosphorus will accompany this article if possible.

William A. Cook / STAFF WRITER

Thank God Judge Goldstone recanted his judgment on Israel and its IDF forces in the slaughter inflicted on Gaza during its Christmas invasion in 2008-2009; both are now innocent of wrongful intent to kill Palestinian civilians since the Israeli military courts investigated Goldstone’s allegations and determined he was wrong. Now the good Judge has found, with the military court, that the Israeli government, that refused to cooperate with the United Nations investigation, did not intentionally send its forces to kill and destroy but only to kill and destroy Gaza; that the civilians were killed is simply a sad consequence of war. How astute, how learned, how compassionate; how absurd, how facetious, how despicable.

Yet, good may come of this decision. Now Israel is free to declare its innocence before the International Court of Justice since it is Israel’s investigation that can be presented as its case, with the good Judge as co-defendant. After all, isn’t this exactly what the Israeli government has wanted from the start, a way to demonstrate to the world that its Army is the most moral on the planet, its government the most democratic, acting only to defend its people, its weaponry the most sophisticated state of the art precision ordinance available, and its actions always proportionate to the crimes it seeks to address? Knowing now what they did not know before Judge Goldstone recanted his report, the government of Israel has nothing to fear from the ICJ but the justice it so rightfully deserves. Certainly it makes no sense for Israel or the UN to do nothing now that the report has been brought into question. The world has castigated Israel because of the report, now it’s Israel’s turn to seek revenge and put before the world how righteous and how legal its actions have been. How fortunate this turn of events.
And how opportune a moment since our United States Congress has once again jumped to the fore as defender of the beleaguered state of Israel by writing a letter to the UNHRC that it should expunge the report from history since it is biased against the Jewish state and this would help make amends. (“Congressional initiatives targeting Goldstone report” April 11, 2011 JTA) But why expunge it? Israel, after all, knows it did no wrong; it has done its own investigation and declared its innocence. What an opportunity to show the world that it has been maligned, that it has obeyed all international laws relative to individual rights, that as an occupying force under Geneva Conventions and the Charter of the UN it has observed all requisite responsibilities toward the people of Gaza, and finally that it had rights to invade that the international community must recognize since it was only defending itself.

Let us present this case as objectively as we can by using the words in the Israeli Gaza Operation Investigations: the means used to investigate, the difficulties that impeded the investigation, their presentation of the investigation concerning white phosphorus, and the conclusions drawn by the Military Advocate General, oh, and the convictions leveled on those found guilty. We’ll follow that presentation with some eye witness accounts of the Gaza operation, the effect of white phosphorus and its legality, and the impact of DIME explosives on humans and the environment. A few photos of Israeli use of white phosphorus will accompany this article if possible.
Consider the facts as articulated by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it labeled Cast Lead as Hamas war against Israel.
Israeli soldier looks impatient as he watches over a load of bombs destined to be fired at Gaza[My apologies; I’m interjecting a subjective comment on Israel’s calling Operation Cast Lead “Hamas’ war against Israel.” In the 8 years preceding Cast Lead, Hamas or other resistance groups in Gaza, fired 6000 home made rockets at Israel, roughly 750 a year, or 62.5 per month or 2 per day. Twenty three people were killed. In that same period Israel killed more than 1000 Palestinian children and in Cast Lead killed an additional 352. A total of 1084 Israelis were killed between 2000 and 2008, but 6430 Palestinians were killed. Yet it was Hamas’ war against Israel. One final observation: Israel’s launch of one of its American supplied missiles that cost $300,000, a fraction of the 8.2 million per day we supply to Israel’s military, a precision state of the art weapon that hit a home where the IDF ordered people to go, in less than one minute killed 21 members of the Samouni family, nine of them children.] (figures from and see this author’s article “Consider the Realities of Gaza,” Counterpunch, Jan. 5, 2009). Back to our sources and let the reader be judge.

Gaza Operation Investigations: An Update Jan 2010.

Israeli Defence Forces fire massive weapons of destruction toward the population of Gaza

1. Israel’s investigative system has multiple layers of review to ensure impartiality and independence. These include the Military Advocate General’s Corps (MAG), which determines whether to initiate criminal investigations and file charges against IDF soldiers. The Military Advocate General is legally independent from the military chain of command. Israel’s Attorney General provides civilian oversight, as any decision of the Military Advocate General on whether or not to investigate or indict may be subject to his review.

2. The Operation in Gaza: Factual and Legal Aspects, which addressed a range of factual and legal issues related to the Gaza Operation. The Operation in Gaza also set out the legal framework governing the use of force and the principles – including the principles of distinction and proportionality – that apply in such a conflict. It also described the IDF’s efforts to ensure compliance with these principles during the Gaza Operation and the modus operandi of Hamas, in particular its abuses of civilian protections that created such acute operational dilemmas.

3. Describing the application of these mechanisms to the Gaza Operation, the Paper notes that the IDF to date has launched investigations of 150 separate incidents arising from the Gaza Operation. A number of these were opened at the IDF’s own initiative. Others were opened in response to complaints and reports from Palestinian civilians, local and international non-governmental organisations, and U.N. and media reports.


183. The Gaza Operation presented complex challenges to Israel and the IDF. While the need and obligation to respond effectively to the thousands of Hamas rockets and mortars that had terrorized Israeli civilians for years was clear and acute, the strategies adopted by Hamas, and in particular its systematic entrenchment in the heart of civilian areas, created profound operational dilemmas. [A second interruption if I may: consider the reality of the Palestinians’ plight; they can go nowhere, they cannot escape through the Israeli gates, they can not flee by car, rail, air, boat or on foot, and they are caged in a steel enclosed land area blocked on the west by Israeli gunboats. They have no army, no air force, no navy; but they were training police to help provide order inside this cage of chaos, and Israel began its operation by killing 50 of the graduating class on December 27, 2008.]

Palestinian doctors carry the bodies of children killed by an Israeli tank shell, to the morgue at Shifa hospital in Gaza (images:
184. These challenges did not end with the close of operations. A key element of respecting the Law of Armed Conflict is a commitment genuinely to review military operations after the fact, and thoroughly investigate allegations of unlawful activity. Fulfilling this commitment in the context of Gaza is demanding, and requires serious efforts to obtain evidence from battleground situations and to make arrangements to enable residents of Gaza to give their accounts. It also requires an awareness that, in complex combat situations, errors of judgment, even with tragic results, do not necessarily mean that violations of the Law of Armed Conflict have occurred. [Note that Israel refused to cooperate with the UNHRC investigation that became the Goldstone Report.]

187. Israel recognizes the importance of engaging in dialogue and sharing best practices on theconduct of investigative proceedings with other democratic states facingsimilar challenges and committed to upholding the rule of law.

Obviously this article cannot provide a complete rendering of the Israeli investigation and its conclusions regarding proper conduct under international law. However, one of the more telling concerns raised about the IDF was its use of white phosphorus. Here is the comment from the Israeli operation cast lead investigation on that subject. Section IV contains others.


89. Israel is aware of concerns raised regarding the Gaza Operation. As discussed in detail in The Operation in Gaza, and as outlined above, the deliberate strategy of Hamas to blend in with the civilian population made it difficult for the IDF to achieve the objective of the Gaza Operation – reducing the threat of deliberate attacks against Israeli civilians – while also avoiding harm to Palestinian civilians. To be sure, the IDF undertook strenuous efforts to minimise such harm. It intensively trained its personnel on the requirements of the Law of Armed Conflict. It delayed, diverted, or refrained from attacks to spare civilian life. It provided numerous and varied types of concrete warnings before launching attacks.

88 Nevertheless, Israel’s efforts to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict do not lessen its regret for the loss of innocent lives and damage to civilian property.

93. The unique difficulties involved in the investigation of alleged violations of the Law of Armed Conflict in the battlefield should not be ignored. They include: the inability to secure the scene for forensic and physical evidence, either during a battle or after, when the territory is under enemy control; the possible destruction of evidence during fighting and the possible  manipulation of the scene by the enemy; the need to recall reserve soldiers back for questioning; the difficulty of accurately identifying the location of an incident, when it is described in local and unofficial terms and slang; and the need to locate the adversary’s civilians as witnesses and overcome their natural suspicion and fear of reprisals by their authorities.

90(v) The use of weaponry containing phosphorous

117. This investigation dealt with the use of weapons containing phosphorous by IDF forces during the Gaza Operation. The investigation focused on the different types and number of weapons containing phosphorous used during the Operation, the purposes for which they were used, the applicable professional instructions and rules of engagement, and the extent of compliance with those instructions and rules. Some of the findings of the special command investigation are detailed in The Operation in Gaza.107

118. The Military Advocate General reviewed the entire record of the special command investigation. With respect to exploding munitions containing white phosphorous, the Military Advocate General concluded that the use of this weapon in the operation was consistent with Israel’s obligations under international law.

119. With respect to smoke projectiles, the Military Advocate General found that international law does not prohibit use of smoke projectiles containing phosphorous. Specifically, such projectiles are not “incendiary weapons,” within the meaning of the Protocol on 106 Id. ¶¶ 436-45. Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons,108 because they are not primarily designed to set fire or to burn. The Military Advocate General further determined that during the Gaza Operation, the IDF used such smoke projectiles for military purposes only, for instance to camouflage IDF armor forces from Hamas’s antitank units by creating smoke screens.

120. The Military Advocate General found no grounds to take disciplinary or other measures for the IDF’s use of weapons containing phosphorous, which involved no violation of the Law of Armed Conflict. Nevertheless, the Military Advocate General’s opinion did not address a number of specific complaints that were received after the investigation concluded and which are being investigated separately.(vi)

Palestinians were burned alive with illegal weapons during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.
Based on information from B’Tselem and, the determinations by the Israeli investigation resulted in the following charges: “In the over two years since Operation Cast Lead, Israel and the Palestinian side have failed to conduct genuine investigations, and where appropriate, prosecutions. To-date one Israeli soldier has served 7.5 months in jail for the theft of a credit card and two others have received three month suspended sentences for using a Palestinian child as a human shield. These three convictions, and the ongoing trial of a fourth soldier, have been the only concrete judicial outcomes of Israeli Operation Cast Lead investigations. It is noted that neither these indictments nor the sentences handed down for the human shield conviction reflect the gravity of the actual crimes committed. It appears that the majority of other investigative procedures have been closed without charge. All alleged international crimes must be subject to genuine investigation, and, if appropriate, those responsible must be prosecuted in accordance with the requirements of international law. In light of the domestic authorities’ failure to conduct such investigation, the International Criminal Court now constitutes the most appropriate forum, as recommended by the Human Rights Council on 25 March.(

To date, no independent investigation apparatus, empowered also to investigate the responsibility of the political and military decision-makers, has been established. According to the report that the Foreign Ministry provided to the UN in July 2010, the Judge Advocate General’s office ordered 47 Military Police investigations with respect to Operation Cast Lead. B’Tselem is aware of 20 Military Police investigations of incidents in which a suspicion arose that soldiers in the field violated army regulations. Four soldiers have been prosecuted for three incidents that occurred during the operation. In the first case, a soldier was convicted of stealing a credit card and sentenced to seven and a half months’ imprisonment, a conditional sentence of seven and a half months, and demotion from sergeant to private. In the second case, indictments were filed against two soldiers alleging they used a nine-year-old child as a human shield, ordering him to open suspected booby-trapped bags. The two soldiers were convicted and sentenced to a three-month suspended jail sentence and demotion in rank from staff sergeant to private. In the third case, an indictment was filed against a soldier for killing an anonymous person and conduct unbecoming a soldier. In three other cases, disciplinary proceedings were instituted against six officers. B’Tselem is aware of at least six cases in which the Attorney General decided not to indict the soldiers. (B’Tselem).

Now let us return to the arguments for a UN investigation that can provide the people of the world with deliberations that place the Israeli Operation Cast Lead before an International Court of Justice.

Hiyam Noir, in Palestine Free Voice, January 13, 2009, reporting from Gaza observed “Blankets of white clouds covered the skies over Gaza, including the refuge camps in Khan Younis, Beit Lahia and Gaza City.  On Saturday Israeli F16 warplanes launched attacks using phosphorus bombs on the Block 2 section inside the densely populated Jabalya Refuge Camp. Many residents of Jabalya escaped the area covering their faces, searching for a safe shelter in the home of relatives and friends in the neighboring Beit Lahia from the Israelis “Cast Lead Operation”. Gaza has always been the Israelis “testing ground” – from nerve agents used in Khan Younis in 2003, to Sonic Boom “phantom air raids”, and the use of DIME in the Israelis massacre called ” Operation Summer Rain” over Gaza year 2006.”

In that same article, Noir notes, The Human Rights Watch senior analyst Marc Garlasco said in an interview on France Chanel 4 TV that ..”Israeli artillery bursted fire of white phosphorous shells over Gaza City.”Garlasco said ..”I have been standing at the border for the last few days ,watching Israeli artillery firing white phosphorus shells into refugee camps”.

Press TV on 4 March 2011 reported that cancer cases in Gaza had increased by 30 per cent, and that there was a link between the occurrence of the disease and residence in areas that had been badly hit by Israeli bombing. Zekra Ajour from the Al-Dameer Association for Human Rights told the channel that Gaza had been a testing ground for illegal weapons.

In a separate article, Richard Lightbown argues that Israel’s use of white phosphorus and other toxic metals, and its suspected use of depleted uranium, in the war against the people of the Gaza Strip has put the whole of the Strip’s population and its environment – air, soil, groundwater and possibly seawater – at risk of serious long-term injury and contamination. He also observes that The goldstone report mentions phosphorus in paragraph 896: Medical staff reported to the mission how even working in the areas where the phosphorus had been used made them feel sick, their lips would swell and they would become extremely thirsty and nauseous.

The toxicity of phosphorus is also recorded in a report by New York medical staff:4

‘Oral ingestion of white phosphorus in humans has been demonstrated to result in pathologic changes to the liver and kidneys. The ingestion of a small quantity of white phosphorus can cause gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Individuals with a history of oral ingestion have been noted to pass phosphorus-laden stool (“smoking stool syndrome”). The accepted lethal dose is 1 mg/kg, although the ingestion of as little as 15 mg has resulted in death.’

Although an Israeli army spokesman told CNN on 7 January 2009, “I can tell you with certainty that white phosphorus is absolutely not being used.” the chemical had been used by Israeli forces since the beginning of the war.12 The Goldstone Report stated that Israeli sources later claimed their forces had stopped using white phosphorous on 7 January 2009 because of international concerns. This was also untrue as there is evidence that it had been used after that date. Goldstone declared the Israeli armed forces to have been “systematically reckless” in using white phosphorous in built-up areas (paragraphs 884, 886 and 890).
Lightbown also discusses DIME: “Evidence of the use of depleted uranium against Gaza is tenuous and Goldstone merely recorded in paragraph 907 that it had received allegations which it had not further investigated. Much of this evidence came from Action des citoyens pour le désarmement nucléaire (ACDN: Citizens Action for Nuclear Disarmament). Their report of July 2009 hypothesizes that the GBU-39 bunker-buster bomb is packed with 75 kilogram of depleted uranium. (A UNEP report also ambiguously refers to bunker-buster bombs containing depleted uranium.) The US delivery of 1,000 of these bombs to Israel arrived in early December 2008 shortly before the start of the war. The GBU-39 is considered one of the world’s most precise bombs and Boeing, the manufacturer, claims that the bomb will penetrate three feet of steel-reinforced concrete. (UNEP suggests that it can penetrate reinforced concrete to depths ranging from 1.8 to over 6 metres.) Boeing’s patent on the weapon mentions depleted uranium.6

It is not known how many bunker-buster bombs were used against Gaza but it seems reasonable to assume that the number could run into hundreds. It is thought that they were used mostly in the Philadelphia corridor against the tunnels. Desmond Travers, the former Irish army officer who was a member of the Goldstone Commission, would only say that depleted uranium may have been used during the war, although he did agree that it would have been well suited for attacking the tunnels where maximum penetration would have been desired.7 He was also in agreement with ACDN that the use of below-ground targets would have considerably reduced the levels of aerosol uranium that was dispersed into the air.

In April 2009 Jean-François Fechino from ACDN was part of a four-person team which went to Gaza for the Arab Commission for Human Rights. Samples that the team brought back were analysed by a specialist laboratory which identified carcinogens: depleted uranium, caesium, asbestos dust, tungsten and aluminium oxide. Thorium oxide was also found, which is radioactive, as are depleted uranium and caesium. The analysis also identified phosphates and copper, along with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are a health hazard, especially to children, asthmatics and elders.9

Depleted uranium burns at almost 1200 degrees Celsius. (TNT by comparison burns at 576 degrees Celsius.) 10 At this temperature the fire vaporizes any metals in the target which in combination with uranium are released into the air in aerosol form. After deposition the aerosols have the potential to contaminate groundwater. (The Gaza aquifer, which is the Strip’s only water source, is also connected to ground water supplies in Egypt, although water only flows into Gaza from Israel.11)

The Goldstone Commission was unable to confirm that DIME munitions were used by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead. Col Lane had told the commission in testimony that there was no actual proof. He then went on to testify that he had been given samples in Gaza which analysis in Dublin had shown to contain DIME materials consisting mostly of tungsten with traces of iron and sulphur. He was of the opinion that ordnance had been used that had some sort of DIME component. He also mentioned that he had read of unusual amputations, and that tungsten and cobalt would have this effect. Weaponry had been found with DIME components which was capable of amputation and there are Palestinian amputees, yet neither Col Lane nor the commission was prepared to say that DIME weapons had been used by Israeli forces.

DIME bombs cause a high proportion of amputations particularly of legs, while patients often suffered internal burns as well. The bombs consist of powdered tungsten alloy mixed with an explosive material inside a casing which disintegrates on explosion. The tungsten powder tears apart anything it hits including soft tissue and bone, causing very severe injuries. Tungsten alloy particles, described as “finely powdered micro-shrapnel”, are too small to be extracted from the victim’s body and are highly carcinogenic. (Goldstone, paragraphs 902-4)
The whole Gaza population and their environment, including generations yet to be conceived, have been put at risk of serious long-term injury from heavy metal pollution of the air, soil and groundwater (and possibly the seawater too), while the causal pollution is likely to cross state borders into Egypt and even into Israel. Reassurances of the legitimate and responsible use and the reduced lethality of weapons (an opinion in part shared by Col Lane) are callous and inadequate in the context of the dangerous reality that has resulted. Meanwhile, the impacts of Israel’s illegal assaults on Gaza remain ignored and its deeds uncensored by the wider international community.”
Certainly it makes good sense to have the Israeli investigation brought before the ICJ. What possible reason exists not to do this, from either the Israeli perspective or the UNHRC. The perspectives presented above demonstrate the necessity; truth requires it, justice demands it, and the dead cry out for it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Prof. William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of The Rape Of Palestine: Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, Read Full Bio

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NOTE: The footnotes below are from Lightbown’s article which can be accessed at

I would also note that the pictures that accompany or may accompany this article are from Dr. Arthur Billy’s Memorial to the People of Gaza available at You tube or as contained in an article titled “What does it profit a congressman to retain his office but suffer the loss of his soul?” A google search will give you access.


1. Kawther Salam, 29 December 2009; Abortions, Cancer, Diseases and… in Gaza; Intifada-Palestine.
2. BBCNews, 4 March 2010; Falluja Doctors Report Rise in Birth Defects.
3. Rita Hindin, Doug Brugge and Bindu Panikkar; Teratogenicity of depleted uranium aerosols: A review from an epidemiological perspective; Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source 2005, 4:17 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-4-17.
4. Lisandro Irizarry, Mollie V Williams, Geri M Williams and José Eric Díaz-Alcalá, 21 October 2009; CBRNE – Incendiary Agents, White Phosphorus.
5. UNEP, 2007; Lebanon Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment, p 149.
6. ACDN, 4 July 2009; Report on the Use of Radioactive Weapons in the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead.
7. Dr Hana Chehata, 9 March 2010; Disturbing Findings of Toxic Uranium Levels in Gaza; Middle East Monitor.
8. Video accessed from
9. Palestinian Telegraph, 24 May 2009; Israel Used Depleted Uranium in Offensive on Gaza.
10. Sister Rosalie Bertell; Depleted Uranium in the Human Body: Sr Rosalie Bertell, PhD.
12. Human Rights Watch, 10 January 2009; Q & A on Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza.
14. Sobhi Skaik, Nafiz Abu-Shaban, Nasser Abu-Shaban, Mario Barbieri, Maurizio Barbieri, Umberto Giani, Paola Manduca, 31 July 2010; Metals Detected by ICP/MS in Wound Tissue of War Injuries Without Fragments in Gaza.
15. NWRC, 17 December 2009; Gaza Strip, soil has been contaminated due to bombings: population in danger.
16. NWRC, 17 March 2010; Metals Detected in Palestinian Children’s Hair Suggest Environmental Contamination.
17. James Brooks, 6 December 2006; US and Israel Targeting DNA in Gaza? The DIME Bomb: Yet Another Genotoxic Weapon, Part II. Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding.
18. John F. Kalinich, et al, 15 February 2005; Embedded Weapons-Grade Tungsten Alloy Shrapnel Rapidly Induces Metastatic High-Grade Rhabdomysoarcomas in F344 Rats;
19. James Brooks, 5 December 2006; The DIME Bomb: Yet Another Genotoxic weapon, Part 1; Al-Jazeera.
20. David Halpin, 14 August 2006; Are New weapons Being Used in Gaza and Lebanon; Electronic Intifada.
21. James Brooks, 5 December 2006; The DIME Bomb: Yet Another Genotoxic weapon, Part III; Al-Jazeera.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian