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Spend 30 minutes on the ground of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza


Denny Cormier reporting from Al Shifa, Gaza:
This little girl said to me that she was going to buy some grocery when ...suddenly a Zionist missile hit the market and wounded her .Her parents tell her that she will be okay

This little girl said to me that she was going to buy some grocery when
…suddenly a Zionist missile hit the market and wounded her
.Her parents tell her that she will be okay

Spend 30 minutes on the grounds of Al Shifa Hospital, and I believe that you will have a life changing experience.

This is no ordinary place.

One Norwegian doctor recommends that Obama spend the night here. – that it might change the course of western history. Frankly, I think that he should – and it could..

My soul has become accustomed to a view of the world that just four weeks ago was foreign, but I still began to weep as I walked the grounds of Al Shifa just now. I could not help myself.

Certainly there are similar places throughout our world, and many are much, much worse – but Gaza is a place of epiphanies for me – Al Shifa is a place of awakening.

But today was a challenge.

It was challenging to witness three burial parties within five minutes carrying the dead to the nearby mosque.

Challenging to see two ambulances arrive with passengers whose faces were shrouded.

Challenging to see a dozen children and their mother crowded inside of a makeshift structure that was smaller than my bath in Santa Fe.

Challenging to see hundreds and hundreds of refugees stuffed into every corner – in parks, under staircases – lean-twos against every wall – foam mattresses with people sleeping everywhere – trucks and cars crammed with families,

Challenging to see children whose heads or limbs are wrapped in bandages – a young man in total shock with arms in casts – supported by his friends.

And among them walked men carrying the dead – Allahu Akbar – Allahu Akbar

Allahu Akbar

This is a place of life and death, my friends, laughter mingling with intense grief.

Six boys carrying bags of bread and skipping along – six men carrying a body whose soul has been transported to Jannah.

Allahu Akbar

A screaming tribe of children using a broken wheelchair for roller coaster rides down the short hill beside the hospital.

An old woman sitting expressionless.

A young boy alone and broken in the ICU – his entire family murdered.

In spite of all, Al Shifa is a particularly peaceful place today as people sit and wait…. perhaps there is a level of peace that is reached when you have only the belongings that you could carry as you ran from attacks on your home – on your street – on your city. The makeshift structures were filled with people and little else. This is a city of people and not of things.

This is a city for the living

Allahu Akbar

and a city for the dead.

Allahu Akbar

 
Categories: Uncategorized

Urgent Appeal: Palestinian Legislative Council Member Khalida Jarrar Expelled to Jericho

August 22, 2014 1 comment

 

Occupied Ramallah, 20 August 2014 –  The Israeli Military Governor in the West Bank has signed a military order expelling Palestinian Legislative Council Member and Addameer board member Khalida Jarrar to Jericho for a period of six months, with immediate effect.

 

 

 

At 1.30 A.M on 20 August 2014 approximately 50 Israeli occupying soldiers surrounded Jarrar’s home in Ramallah. An Israeli captain then proceeded to hand Jarrar an order which states that Jarrar must not leave the district of Jericho for the next six months and can only leave with the express permission of the Israeli military commander in the West Bank. Accompanying the order was a map outlining the boundaries of Jericho district. The order states, based on secret information, that Jarrar is a threat to the security of the area. She was given 24 hours to leave Ramallah. Jarrar refused to sign the order.

 

 

 

Jarrar was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in January 2006 and has continued to serve as an elected representative ever since. She is also the Palestinian representative on the Council of Europe and is head of the Prisoners Committee of the PLC.

 

 

 

Jarrar has been a prominent human rights activist for many years. She previously served as the director of Addameer from 1993 to 2005 and remains a board member. She has also previously worked with UNRWA and has been active working with Palestinian women.

 

 

 

Since 1998 Jarrar has been banned from travelling outside of the occupied Palestinian territory, expect for one occasion in 2010 when she travelled to Jordan for medical treatment. Jarrar is married with two children. She has a received her B.A and Masters in human right and democracy from Bir Zeit university.

 

 

 

The order is based on Israeli Military Order 1651 Article 297 (2009) and is based on the accusation that Jarrar is “dangerous to the general security of the area.” As is standard with Military Orders and the decisions of Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, GOC Central Command, the order does not explain or clarify the danger that Jarrar poses.

 

 

 

Jarrar lives in Ramallah, which according to the Oslo Agreements between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the occupation, is considered “Area A” and under complete Palestinian control. By allowing Israeli occupying forces to enter Ramallah means that in effect the so-called ‘security co-ordination’ between Palestinian Authority security forces and Israeli occupying forces allowed for the expulsion of an elected representative of the Palestinian people, an elected representative who has continuously called for an end to such ‘coordination’.

 

 

 

The order to expel Jarrar to Jericho violates Article (42) of Geneva Convention IV which is applied to the occupied Palestinian territory, and states “The internment or placing in assigned residence of protected persons may be ordered only if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary.”[1]

 

 

 

The decision of the Maj. General also violates Article (49), which prohibits forced collective or individual transfer of protected persons, or banning from them from the occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power, under any circumstance.

 

 

 

This is not the first instance the Occupation has forcibly transferred Palestinian Legislative Council members who have been democratically elected. In 2010, three PLC members, Mohammad Abu Teer, Ahmad ‘Atoun and Mohammad Totah, as well as Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Khalid Abu Arafeh were deported from their homes in Jerusalem to Ramallah. Shortly after, all four were arrested by the Occupation and placed under administrative detention, which is detention without charge or trial.

 

 

 

 

 

Take Action

 

 

 

Here is how you can help Khalida Jarrar:

 

*Write to the Israeli government, military and legal authorities and demand the military order expelling her to Jericho is revoked immediately.

 

 

 

· Brigadier General Danny Efroni
Military Judge Advocate General
6 David Elazar Street
Harkiya, Tel Aviv
Israel
Fax: +972 3 608 0366+972 3 569 4526
Email: arbel@mail.idf.ilavimn@idf.gov.il

 

 

 

· Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon
OC Central Command Nehemia Base, Central Command
Neveh Yaacov, Jerusalam
Fax: +972 2 530 5741

 

 

 

· Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon
Ministry of Defense
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 691 6940 / 696 2757

 

 

 

· Col. Doron Ben Barak
Legal Advisor of Judea and Samaria PO Box 5
Beth El 90631
Fax: +972 2 9977326

 

 

 

 

 

 *Write to your own elected representatives urging them to pressure Israel to revoke the military order.

 

 


[1] The internment or placing in assigned residence of protected persons may be ordered only if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary.
If any person, acting through the representatives of the Protecting Power, voluntarily demands internment and if his situation renders this step necessary, he shall be interned by the Power in whose hands he may be.

An open letter to the people of Gaza


An open letter for the people in Gaza

This letter is published under the Freedom of Information Act: “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.”

Paola Manduca aEmail AddressIain Chalmers bDerek Summerfield cMads Gilbert dSwee Ang eon behalf of 24 signatories

We are doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives. We are also informed people; we teach the ethics of our professions, together with the knowledge and practice of it. We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years.

On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel.

We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.

We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.

This action also terrifies those who are not directly hit, and wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation. Our condemnation and disgust are further compounded by the denial and prohibition for Gaza to receive external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances.

The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza’s population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.1

People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”2

Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialized treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited.3 Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade.3 They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN.

Much of Gaza’s buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.

Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.

Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.

According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),1 as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al-Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatized in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorize, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.

Weaponry known to cause long-term damages on health of the whole population are used; particularly non fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs.45 We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children and we constantly see that so-called intelligent weapons fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives.

We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children’s well-being.

Israel’s behavior has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade.

This “defensive aggression” of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity must be stopped.

Additionally, should the use of gas be further confirmed, this is unequivocally a war crime for which, before anything else, high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe.

As we write, other massacres and threats to the medical personnel in emergency services and denial of entry for international humanitarian convoys are reported.6 We as scientists and doctors cannot keep silent while this crime against humanity continues. We urge readers not to be silent too. Gaza trapped under siege, is being killed by one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated modern military machines. The land is poisoned by weapon debris, with consequences for future generations. If those of us capable of speaking up fail to do so and take a stand against this war crime, we are also complicit in the destruction of the lives and homes of 1·8 million people in Gaza.

We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organizations to stop this massacre.

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Full-size image (24K) Associated Press
We declare no competing interests.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary appendix
Open file
PDF (63K)
 

References

1 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza emergency situation report (as of 21 July 2014, 1500 hrs)http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_sitrep_22_07_2014.pdf(accessed July 22, 2014).
3 Gilbert MBrief report to UNRWA: The Gaza Health Sector as of June 2014.http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/final_report_-_gaza_health_sector_june-july_2014_-_mads_gilbert_2.pdf(accessed July 22, 2014).
4 Naim AAl Dalies HEl Balawi M, et alBirth defects in Gaza: prevalence, types, familiarity and correlation with environmental factorsInt J Environ Res Public Health 201291732-1747PubMed
5 Manduca PNaim ASignoriello SSpecific association of teratogen and toxicant metals in hair of newborns with congenital birth defects or developmentally premature birth in a cohort of couples with documented parental exposure to military attacks: observational study at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza, PalestineInt J Environ Res Public Health 2014115208-5223PubMed
6 Ma’an News Agency4 killed, over 50 injured as Israel targets al-Aqsa hospital.http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=715087(accessed July 22, 2014).
a New Weapons Research Group and University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
b James Lind Library, Oxford, UK
c Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, UK
d Clinic of Emergency Medicine, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromso, Norway
e Barts and the Royal London Hospital, London, UK

Plugging Our Ears Does Not Serve Israel


by Oded Na’aman

An Israeli soldier poses with Palestinian detainees in an undated photo taken by an Israeli soldier and made available by the campaign group Breaking the Silence.

An Israeli soldier poses with Palestinian detainees in an undated photo taken by an Israeli soldier and made available by the campaign group Breaking the Silence.

I was born in Israel. I served in the Army. Israel is the only home I know. You would think my speaking to students at Hillel would be welcomed. Yet my presentation to students at Washington University’s Hillel in St. Louis last month sparked a storm of controversy.

I had been invited by J Street U and was graciously hosted by Hillel at their beautiful new building. As a member of Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli combat veterans that collects and publishes the testimonies of soldiers who served in the occupied territories, I was on campus to discuss the practices and principles of Israel’s military rule.

In the days leading to my visit, many in the Jewish community called for the event’s cancellation, claiming our sole goal was to “bash Israel.” Jacqueline Ulin Levey, executive director of St. Louis Hillel at Washington University, backed the event. She did, however, impose certain restrictions, asking that I not show any photographs or mention any testimonies besides my own. Hillel also flew in an Israel Fellow from Yale University to “balance” my talk by debriefing the students before and after.

Despite the constraints, the talk went well, with a long question and answer session. After the event, Lawrence Wittels, the chair of the school’s Hillel board, congratulated me.

But in the days following, the assault on Hillel and J Street U escalated. Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International, subsequently wrote to members of the Hillel community defending the organization’s decision. “While we join with the majority of the community in deeply resenting the actions of the former IDF soldiers in Breaking the Silence, who come to college campuses in America to disparage the IDF,” Fingerhut wrote, “it is, regrettably, part of the broad tent of dialogue regarding Israel.” By housing the event within Hillel, he argued, the staff could control and mitigate an unfortunate debate.

I applaud Hillel’s work facilitating a broad dialogue within the American Jewish community. But Fingerhut and those whom his letter addressed, seem to be more concerned with their own feelings toward Israel — their “tent” — than with Israel. Mention of the actions of the IDF, the values to which Israel is committed, and concern for the well being of Israel’s residents, whether Israeli or Palestinian, are noticeably absent from Fingerhut’s letter.

I don’t doubt Fingerhut’s genuine concern for Israel. I am sure those who called for the event’s cancellation are also sincerely dedicated to my country.  But their concern does not protect Zionism. Rather, it threatens it. If Zionism is the dream of Jews to overcome a state of mere survival and forge our own destiny, then claiming that the occupation is necessary, that Israel “has no other choice,” is the betrayal of Zionism. Israel’s rule of force over a civilian population threatens our democratic integrity, moral character, and international standing –  in short, it threatens that future.

Israel is a strong and thriving country. We can take responsibility for our actions, hold our institutions and military accountable, acknowledge our mistakes, and correct them. We can forge our own future, but only by ending the occupation.

Naturally, our claims are met with doubt. But we encourage critical debate based on evidence. We have testimony from over 950 soldiers about their service, many of them on film. Incidents we exposed have been confirmed by the Israeli media and we have been invited to speak at the United States Air Force Academy. Carmi Gillon, former head of the Shin Bet, has praised our work.

The testimonies portray a system of control and expropriation of land that is founded on the use of military force. Arbitrary violence is of the essence of military rule, which cannot rely on democratic legitimacy.

Instead of an actual dialogue about our reality and future, they are content to have a conversation about the conversation about Israel. Rather than respond to what they hear, they argue over whether they should plug their ears. This may serve some staff and some donors of Hillel International, but it doesn’t serve Israel. It takes some chutzpah to claim that by silencing our voices you are protecting our own country from us.

Oded Na’aman served in the IDF between November 2000 and October 2003. Since 2005 he has been a member of Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli veterans that collects soldiers’ testimonies from the West Bank. Oded is currently pursuing his PhD in Philosophy at Harvard University.

Dear Jon Voight: A letter about Gaza

August 18, 2014 1 comment

Does Jon Voight have his facts on Israel and Palestine right?

Original published in Aljazeera English: 13 Aug 2014 11:35

Gil Hochberg
Gil Hochberg is a professor of Comparative Literature at UCLA. She is the author of “In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination” (Princeton University Press, 2007) and is presently finishing a project studying the Visual Politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mark LeVine
Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University. His new book is One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States, co-edited with Ambassador Mathias Mossberg.

Jon Voight with Israel flag in the background

Jon Voight with Israel flag in the background


 

As the carnage in Gaza reached a crescendo in the beginning of August, Jon Voight, one of Hollywood’s most vocal conservatives, penned a harsh attack on fellow actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in response to a letter they signed condemning the latest Israeli bombing of Gaza in which he accused them of “inciting anti-Semitism all over the world”. Many activists dismiss Voight’s letter as the rantings of an unthinking actor who long ago lost touch with political reality – a poor relation of conservative icon Charlton Heston. But Voight’s vitriol, and the narratives behind them, have for decades been quite effective in silencing criticism of Israel in Hollywood or among entertainers more broadly.

Indeed, they provide the intellectual cover for even more extreme attacks by celebrities like Joan Rivers, who in an “epic rant” worthy of an Israeli Knesset member, declared that Palestinians in Gaza “deserved to be dead”. This level of hatred mirrors the increasingly genocidal discourse against Palestinians within Israeli political and culture.

Yet it also gives cover for a growing blacklist by “top industry executives” against actors like Cruz and Bardem who dare criticize Israel publicly and without the level of deference that has long defined Hollywood’s treatment of the Jewish state.

Like most Hollywood scripts, the narratives on which the views of Voight, Rivers and other Hollywood Israel supporters are based are far removed from the historical and contemporary realities they purport to describe. Yet their power remains secure precisely because they are the same narratives used by the seemingly reasonable mainstream media and political actors – from the New York Times to President Obama – whenever the conflict is discussed.

Historical myths

There are three fundamental “myths”, to borrow a phrase from one of Israel’s founding revisionist historians, Simha Flapan, surrounding Israel’s birth and subsequent history that cohere the traditional narrative Voight is re-voicing. The first surround’s the state’s creation itself: “when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921… The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea… The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973.”

The remains of an ambulance hit during the shelling of Shajaira

The remains of an ambulance hit during the shelling of Shajaira

 

Voight’s account is familiar but it is a distortion of the actual history, one that echoes the official Israeli narrative to the letter. In reality, after three decades of increasing intercommunal conflict marked by periodic bursts of violence and growing Jewish immigration, the UN voted to partition Palestine in 1947.

Already by December 1947 a civil had erupted, in which both Zionist and Arab forces engaged in regular attacks and even terrorism, with coordinated Zionist attacks on Palestinian villages aimed at Judaising strategic parts of the country picking up speed by the beginning of spring 1948.

By May 15, the date of Israel’s establishment, tens of thousands of Palestinians had already been forced into exile. As Oxford University professors Avi Shlaim and Eugene Rogan demonstrated in their book The War for Palestine, Rewriting the History of 1948, Arab leaders either sent mostly untrained and badly armed forces whose primary goals were to prevent rather than support the creation of a Palestinian state. Jordan had even secretly agreed to a division of most of the territory (except Jerusalem) with the Zionist leadership.

The second myth surrounds the Six Day War. Voigt’s description of 1967 as the “Arab trying again” is familiar yet similarly inaccurate. There were certainly many threats emanating from Arab capitals in the late spring of 1967, but ultimately it was Israel that launched a “sneak attack”, one in which US and Israeli intelligence agencies correctly assumed would wipe out the combined forces of the surrounding states in roughly five days.

Whatever its motivations, 1967 became a war of conquest and expansion. Israel could have maintained a military occupation indefinitely, if security was its main concern. Instead, it began a process of settlement, which in Jerusalem and the West Bank has intensified without pause to the present day. Gaza, which Voight and other Israel supporters argues was “give[n] the Palestinians… as a peace gesture”. Gaza was never a gift Israel could “give” to Palestinians. It was not only occupied under international law but legally inseparable from the West Bank. What Israel has done was withdraw and then impose a siege while intensifying once again its settlements in and control over the West Bank, both of which violate international law.

The third myth surrounds the Oslo peace process. The traditional narrative, repeated here, is that “Israel has always labored for a peaceful relation with its Arab neighbors.” In reality, Israel violated every agreement with and about Palestinians, beginning with its pledge in the Camp David Accords to enable “full autonomy to the inhabitants” as soon as possible (as we know, instead of robust autonomy Palestinians received half a million settlers and lost control over the vast majority of their land). Israel’s record of abiding by the Oslo-era agreements is no better, and in fact doomed them from the start.
INTERACTIVE: Gaza Under Attack

The fourth myth surrounds Hamas. Voight claims that “the Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, and they immediately began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.” Even the arch-conservative New York Post recognized that Hamas was elected not because of its terrorism but out of disgust with an utterly coopted, corrupt and brutal Palestinian Authority. More to Voight’s point, Hamas did not begin firing missiles into Israel until after it attempted to remove the newly elected leadership by force in a US and PA-supported coup. No significant rocket fire occurred until two years after Hamas was elected, during which time Israel continued its siege on Gaza and ever-tightening stranglehold on the West Bank.

Finally, Voight claims that his fellow actors “have forgotten how this war started”. But contrary to his assertion, as reported in great detail in the Israeli media, the Israeli government began a series of attacks on Hamas and other Palestinian activists, arresting, shooting and even killing many in response to its unity deal with the Palestinian Authority. This was the context for the kidnap and murder of three settler youth which was not a cause of but rather a link in a much larger chain of events that led to the present disaster.

Have Israel’s actions risen to the level of genocide, as the letter Mr Bardem and others signed alleges? Given the history of genocide against the Jews – the term was invented to describe the Holocaust – it is tragic that such a characterization can even be considered. But it must be faced, because Israel’s actions, which have long been characterized as “politicide” or “spaciocide” by Israeli and Palestinian scholars, as well as the political and public rhetoric against Palestinians, have become so intense that the genocide accusation can no longer be dismissed out of hand.

It is undeniable that Israelis have suffered in the latest Gaza war, but it’s equally certain that the suffering Israel has inflicted upon Palestinians is exponentially greater, and the responsibility for that suffering lies not just with Israel, but with the United States which has, in the words of Jon Stewart, acted as its “drug dealer” while pretending to be a caring friend. If Israel’s most vocal partisans like Jon Voight really care so much about Israel, they should take the time to understand this historical and political reality. Otherwise, their passion and concern for Israel will only lead it closer to the very reckoning they desperately hope it will avoid.

Gil Hochberg is a professor of Comparative Literature at UCLA. She is the author of "In Spite
of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination" (Princeton University
Press, 2007) and is presently finishing a project studying the Visual Politics of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict.
Mark LeVine is a professor of Middle Eastern History at University of California, Irvine, and
a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Lund University. His new book is One Land, Two States:
Israel and Palestine as Parallel States, co-edited with Ambassador Mathias Mossberg.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Israel’s atrocities in Gaza prompt unprecedented political fallout


By Ben White
Original Published Middle East Monitor

Friday, 08 August 2014 16:58

‘Now with the evidence of new war crimes there for all to see, Israel’s isolation will only increase, and, despite the predictable backlash, Palestine solidarity campaigning will take a significant step forward.’

“Carnage” in Gaza – “the killing of children and the slaughter of civilians”. Not the words of a Palestinian spokesperson but rather French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Australia’s FM Julie Bishop condemned what she called “shocking” and “indefensible” incidents, with “hundreds of innocent people” killed.Just two examples of how Israel’s strongest allies have criticised the conduct of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in unprecedentedly harsh terms. In the UK specifically, there has been an undeniable sea-change in the way that self-declared ‘friends’ of Israel have drawn a red line – adding their voices of criticism to more vociferous condemnation heard at numerous, large-scale demonstrations.

More on this in a moment. For now let us recap the devastation visited upon the Gaza Strip where, in the words of Human Rights Watch, Israel has killed “very large numbers of civilians” with “advanced weapons”. In the most recent update, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reported a death toll of 1,893 Palestinians, including 430 children. In one single F-16 strike on July 30, 19 children were killed. A further 9,805 Palestinians have been wounded, including almost 3,000 children. At least 122 families have lost three or more family members in the same attack, killing a total of 652 civilians in those strikes alone.

Many of the wounded are suffering from serious burns, or face life-long disabilities (physical as well as mental). In a fenced-in, blockaded territory, Israel’s attacks displaced almost 30 percent of the population. Israel has destroyed or severely damaged more than 10,000 housing units – many more have sustained less serious damage.

Shops, mosques, government buildings, all lie in ruins – the power plant is out of action, and 134 factories were destroyed. A low-end estimate cost of the damage is $5 billion. The health sector is in a state of emergency, while Amnesty International yesterday released evidence of the Israeli military conducting “deliberate attacks against hospitals and health professionals“. Nor were journalists immune: 13 Palestinian media workers were killed during the course of the attack.

The evidence of atrocities is mounting. One of the defining horrors of this attack has been the targeting of family homesclose to 1,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged by Israeli airstrikes. Reporting on the issue, the Associated Press said that the Israeli military did not respond to repeated requests “to explain in detail why even one of [the homes] was targeted”.

Earlier on in the operation, Israeli NGO B’Tselem noted how the Israel military itself had “acknowledged” conducting attacks that were “illegally aimed at homes that were not military targets”. A senior officer, commenting on the bombing of a senior al-Qassam Brigades figure’s house, said: “You call it a home, we call it a command centre and a military post for all intents and purposes”.

As Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard put it, the Israeli military’s “combat doctrine…redefines what constitutes a legitimate target for attack” so that it includes “houses belonging to Hamas commanders and operatives” (it should be noted homes have also been hit lacking even this ‘link’).

Another example of Israel’s war crimes – the intense and indiscriminate attack on Rafah on August 1, when the Israeli military killed an estimated 130 Palestinians, mostly civilians, after soldier Hadar Goldin was feared captured. Haaretz referred to “dozens of innocents killed” in a “massive use of force” – another item reported “the demolition of houses with bulldozers and very aggressive artillery, aerial and tank fire“. The Givati brigade responsible is commanded by Ofer Winter, who had told his soldiers prior to the ground invasion they were “engaged in a war to ‘wipe out’ an ‘enemy who defames’ God.”

Then there is the devastation of Shuja’iyya, when IDF officers boasted of “taking off the gloves” and tanks received orders “to open fire at anything that moved”. A brutal attack which, in the words of Israeli analyst Ron Ben-Yishai, was the very “essence of the deterrence” sought by Israel in its battering of Gaza. In Khuza’a, Israeli forces fired on and killed fleeing civilians, with a “furious assault” that left “whole streets flattened” and “its nine mosques…in pieces”. And so it goes on.

A report in Haaretz a week ago said that more than 30,000 artillery shells had landed in Gaza, in addition to the then-4,000 “targets” struck by airstrikes. It is vital to recall, when considering the bigger picture of Israel’s military operations, that the army’s own legal advice strips civilians of their protected status, in what has been described as “a ‘targeted assassination’ of the principles of international law“.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing for the anticipated legal ramifications of its war crimes – a reasonable expectation given the calls already made by the likes of Amnesty International for an arms embargo, as well as the UN Human Rights Commission inquiry.

According to the Israeli media, for domestic consumption officials describe the damage done to Gaza “as the main deterrent” – but “play down this claim in the international arena”, as they are “aware the destruction will have serious political ramifications”. On July 10, a military source claimed that when “Gaza residents see the great damage to the Strip“, it “will speak for itself”.

The Israeli military has already established a team “in case the army is accused of war crimes” consisting of senior army officials, as well as representatives of the Foreign and Defense Ministries. Their remit also includes “organizing a diplomatic and public relations offensive“.

They will have their work cut out. In recent weeks, Israel’s image has taken a battering in Britain. The public has taken a clear stand on what it thinks of the Gaza attack, while politicians and pundits from both the Right and centre-left have condemned the killing of Palestinian civilians. Palestine has shaped the domestic political agenda in a way perhaps never seen before.

Tory war over Gaza‘, ran a front page headline in The Times, in the aftermath of Sayeeda Warsi’s resignation. A self-defined pro-Israel Conservative MP spoke out against the “swift, and terrible, elimination of so many Palestinian lives, homes, hospitals and schools”. Newspapers have focused on the arms trade, as campaigners and senior politicians alike call for an embargo.

From celebrity tweets to Jon Snow’s emotional broadcasts – this summer would appear to be a watershed moment in how Israel is perceived, and treated, in the UK. No wonder that the Israeli embassy has almost begged for help in its embattled propaganda drive, while the country’s defenders issue desperate-sounding “choose which side you are on“-style pleas.

Take a step back from the summer’s bloodshed and remember where things stood in the spring. An intransigent Israeli government was winning few friends abroad, as the US-led peace process died on its feet. Israeli settlements in the West Bank were increasingly the target of mainstream anger and boycotts, as a growing chorus warned that Israeli colonisation policies had made a Palestinian state impossible. BDS campaigns were growing, in trade unions, faith communities, and on campuses.

Israel already stood charged with systematic violations of international law, apartheid, and institutionalised discrimination, even before the barbaric attack on the Gaza Strip. Now with the evidence of new war crimes there for all to see, Israel’s isolation will only increase, and, despite the predictable backlash, Palestine solidarity campaigning will take a significant step forward.

– See more at: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/debate/13342-israels-atrocities-in-gaza-prompt-unprecedented-political-fallout#sthash.ESI8pbDa.dpuf

‘Now with the evidence of new war crimes there for all to see, Israel’s isolation will only increase, and, despite the predictable backlash, Palestine solidarity campaigning will take a significant step forward.’

Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel. He has been visiting the region since 2003 and his articles have been widely published in the likes of The Guardian’s Comment is free, Al Jazeera, Electronic Intifada, New Statesman, Salon, Christian Science Monitor, Middle East International, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and others. He currently works as a writer and researcher for Middle East Monitor and Journal of Palestine Studies.

Latest link to Ben White’s pieces

1 Israel’s atrocities in Gaza prompt unprecedented political fallout Friday, 08 August 2014
2 Aid for Gaza, arms for Israel – UK must end complicity and ensure accountability Thursday, 31 July 2014
3 Premeditated murder: the Shuja’iyya massacre and Israeli criminality Tuesday, 22 July 2014
4 Israel’s Palestinian citizens feeling the heat, as space for dissent shrinks Wednesday, 02 July 2014
5 New ‘security’-focused plan advances Israel’s colonisation of East Jerusalem Monday, 30 June 2014
http://rt.com/op-edge/178228-israel-war-crimes-gaza/ 6 Fighting a losing battle, UK’s Israel lobby bolsters links with Christian fundamentalists Thursday, 26 June 2014
7 Israel studies conference to feature far-right speakers, hasbara activists Saturday, 21 June 2014
8 Israeli ministers join vicious new attack on Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi Thursday, 19 June 2014
9 Israel’s president-elect Reuven Rivlin in his own words Wednesday, 11 June 2014
10 Israeli film festival in London part of efforts to rebrand apartheid Monday, 02 June 2014

‘Israeli Troops Killed Gaza Civilians in Revenge’ Israeli soldier reveals


Eran Efrati

Former combat soldier and company sergeant of the Israeli army turned whistle-blower Eran Efrati, aged 28, was arrested by the Israeli authorities and questioned concerning his research regarding the use of illegal weapons in Gaza.

On Tuesday, July 29, Efrati announced on Facebook that he received information from sources within the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) revealing what he claims to be the real reason for the Shuja’iyya massacre which occurred nine days prior on July 20: namely that civilians were targeted and killed by Israeli soldiers as punishment for the death of soldiers in their units.

In recent weeks I was on the border of Gaza and getting reports from soldiers in the Gaza Strip who leak information out to me. I am in the process of publication of two big stories in major U.S. newspapers, but there are some things I can share with you right now: Soldiers in two different units inside Gaza leaked information about the murdering of Palestinians by sniper fire in Shuja’iyya neighborhood as punishment for the death of soldiers in their units. After the shooting on the Israeli armored personnel carriers, which killed seven soldiers of the Golani Brigade, the Israeli army carried out a massacre in Shuja’iyya neighborhood. A day after the massacre, many Palestinians came to search for their relatives and their families in the rubble. In one of the videos uploaded to YouTube, a young Palestinian man Salem Shammaly calls the names of his family and looking for them between the ruins when he is suddenly shot at in his chest and falls down. A few seconds after that, there are two additional shootings from snipers into his body, killing him instantly. Since the video was released, there was no official response from the IDF spokesperson. Today I can report that the official command that was handed down to the soldiers in Shujaiyya was to capture Palestinian homes as outposts. From these posts, the soldiers drew an imaginary red line, and amongst themselves decided to shoot to death anyone who crosses it. Anyone crossing the line was defined as a threat to their outposts, and was thus deemed a legitimate target. This was the official reasoning inside the units. I was told that the unofficial reason was to enable the soldiers to take out their frustrations and pain at losing their fellow soldiers (something that for years the IDF has not faced during its operations in Gaza and the West Bank), out on the Palestinian refugees in the neighborhood. Under the pretext of the so-called “security threat” soldiers were directed to carry out a pre-planned attack of revenge on Palestinian civilians. These stories join many other similar ones that Amira Hass and I investigated in Operation Cast Lead. The death toll that continues to rise is steadily reaching the numbers of the massacre of 2009.
More than 1,100 have been killed in Gaza, at least 80 percent of them civilians. Today it is cleared for publication that at least 4 soldiers were killed by a rocket in a gathering area outside of Gaza, and another soldier was killed in Gaza. They join 43 soldiers that have already been killed. We know that more acts of revenge will come soon and it is important that we not stay silent. This is the time to take to the streets and to social media. Demand from your representative wherever you are to stop supporting this massacre and to immediately boycott the state of Israel until the occupation ends, the blockade is lifted and Palestinians will be free. We all want to be in the right place at the right time when history knocks on our door, and history is knocking in Gaza right now. You need to decide on which side you want to go down in history.

In addition to being arrested and questioned, Efrati had both his Facebook and email accounts blocked and apparently received death threats aimed at keeping him silent. He wrote:

In recent days I was arrested by authorities and questioned about my research regarding the use of illegal weapons in Gaza, my mail and Facebook accounts were blocked, And I received strong hints that my life is at risk and I need to be silent and keep low. But I’m not going anywhere.
They may close my communication channels again,but that does not mean I’m not here, I’ll find a way to get the information out to you,and I trust you will echo it on, go down with it to the streets ,And demand your representatives, your government to stop funding the slaughter in your name,to boycott Israel and to stop the bloodshed in Gaza. The whole world is watching now, history is being made.
I’m counting on you.

The Shuja’iyya massacre took place during intense fighting between Hamas forces and the Israeli military. The killing resulted in the death of 72 Palestinians, among whom 17 were children. It also resulted in the death of 13 Israeli soldiers.

The video of the wounded Palestinian who was shot by a sniper was released by the International Solidarity Movement and can be viewed below. [Warning: The video is graphic, viewer’s discretion advised.]

The massacre was described by Amnesty International as tantamount to possible war crimes:

The continuing bombardment of civilian homes in several areas of the Gaza Strip, as well as the Israeli shelling of a hospital, add to the list of possible war crimes that demand an urgent independent international investigation, said Amnesty International.

[…]

The Israeli military said that Shuja’iyyeh, a densely populated area with some 92,000 residents east of Gaza City, had been targeted because it was a “fortress” housing rockets, tunnels and command centres. Israeli military and government officials have repeatedly said that civilians were warned to evacuate the area days before it was attacked.

However, many civilians in Shuja’iyyeh and other areas did not evacuate because they had nowhere to go. All the UNRWA schools and other facilities opened as shelters are overflowing. Issuing warnings to evacuate entire areas does not absolve Israeli forces of their obligations to protect civilians under international humanitarian law.

“The relentless bombardment of Shuja’iyyeh and other civilian areas in the Gaza Strip, as well as the continuing indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel, demand urgent international action to prevent further violations. The UN should impose an arms embargo on all sides, and all states should immediately suspend transfers of military equipment to Israel, Hamas, and other Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip,” said Philip Luther.

Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders accused Israel of indiscriminate bombing:

“While official claims that the objective of the ground offensive is to destroy tunnels into Israel, what we see on the ground is that bombing is indiscriminate and that those who die are civilians,” said Nicolas Palarus, MSF’s project coordinator in Gaza.

At the time of writing, Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” has claimed the lives of more than 1,650 and wounded nearly 9,000 Palestinians. Israel says the assault is targeting Hamas for firing hundreds of rockets across the border into Israel. Seventy-five percent of the Palestinians killed in this offensive have been civilians. Since the offensive started on June 8, 62 Israeli soldiers have been killed in fighting in Gaza, and three civilians killed and around 400 injured in rocket attacks in Israel.

Besides being a member of Anarchists Against the Wall and the pro-BDS Boycott from Within, Efrati was a member of Breaking The Silence*, an Israeli NGO comprised of former IDF soldiers whose aim is “to raise awareness amongst the public about the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”

Here’s a lecture he gave in Colorado as part of The Soldier and the Refusenik U.S. tour with Maya Wind a few months ago:

This is Israel’s third military operation in Gaza in 6 years. Israel has bombed residential neighborhoods, schools, a playground, hospitals, shelters and refugee camps. On July 28, Israel attacked the only power plant in Gaza, plunging the congested strip of 1.8 million people into darkness. UN shelters are struggling to accommodate more than 250,000 Gaza residents who are fleeing the violence or whose homes have been destroyed by bombings. Six UN shelters have come under attack by Israeli forces. Excessive restrictions from Israel in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank is why most of the world and the United Nations considers this territory “occupied” by Israel.

[*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said that Efrati is a member of Breaking The Silence. He is no longer involved in it and has not worked with this organisation for four years.]

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