Archive | July 27th, 2014

Watch: Al Jazeera’s Nazi Massacre at Dawn gives glimpse of horror in Shujaiya

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Submitted by Shahd Abusalama

My body shakes as tears fall out of control after watching the first minute of Al Jazeera’s 22-minute documentary on the Shujaiya massacre which Israel committed in the eastern Gaza City neighborhood a week ago today, killing dozens and flattening the entire area.

Thinking that the footage contained in Massacre at Dawn is just a fraction of the horror makes it even worse. No wonder Israel prevented media from covering the brutality that our people endured there.

(Readers in the United States can watch the documentary with English subtitles here. It can also be watched on Al Jazeera Arabic without subtitles.)

I tried to put myself to sleep as only sleep can give me a break from the pain. My attempts failed. So I got up to share with you the most heartbreaking scenes that keep playing back once I close my eyelids.

“My son is gone!”

The mother’s voice at 3:35 in the video saying, “My son is gone! Mahmoud is gone” echoes in my mind.

The mother was running, escaping death along with her son. Her son suddenly is shot and falls. She stops despite that Israeli forces were still shooting.

She risks her life to rescue him and starts screaming, “My son got injured. My son is dying. Help!” But no ambulances are allowed there. Finally a man comes, carries her son and they continue running. I don’t know if they survived.

Watch the traumatized elderly man at 5:58 who stutters, out of breath, “There was shelling. Everything was bombed.”

“We were stuck in the house while bombings everywhere. My son was killed and my hand got injured,” he says (my translation). “My son is still over there [in the house]. We were sitting together. I went to the toilet. I returned to find blood flooding out of his neck. He has been bleeding since the morning.”

Listen to the cries of the man at 7:00 who tries to prevent the camera from filming him, refusing to appear broken. “Instead of [us] feeding our babies with milk, they sent them rockets!” he exclaims.

The reporter asks him, “Do you have a house here?” He replies, “I have a house and I lost my four kids,” trying to hide his tears from the camera.

“Are they kids? Don’t worry. Speak so the world can see what we’re suffering here,” the reporter says. So the man tries hard to continue with a voice choked with tears, ”They’re kids. I don’t know where they are!” They might be lost, or dead, or under the rubble, some people took them or they evaporated, he says.

Listen to the woman at 8:05 who is running and screaming like mad: “Our house collapsed over us while were inside. We left, miraculously” (my translation).

Orphaned child

Then comes the injured child Bisan Daher on her hospital bed at 9:35, whose condition is like countless others who were the only survivors of their massacred families. She lost her parents and her siblings.

At 10:20, a man is crying with his children: “We were sleeping at the house normally. I don’t know how, the house was shelled all of a sudden. And shelled once again. I got out to find my wife dying in the hallway” (my translation).

His son at 10:35 says (my translation): “Our house was destroyed and my mother was killed. We took her to hospital but she became a martyr. She was looking through the window of my sister’s room when a missile hit the apartment below us and killed her. And our house was destroyed, how will we live?”

At 10:55, the boy’s sister says, “We weren’t doing anything. I woke up after a ‘warning’ rocket hit our house. Only seconds later, we found Mom dying in the hallway. We started screaming, calling for ambulance to rescue her but she was already dead. May she rest in peace.”

“Just like in 1948!”

At 12:28, a man who is fleeing says (my translation), “At al-Mansoura street, we were running in between bodies, torn pieces are on both sides, everywhere. Houses collapsed over their inhabitants. Worse than Sabra and Shatila.”

Another man escaping with his family says at 16:10: ”Just like in 1948! We are fleeing again. Let the world hear this. This is a new exodus.”

Within the scene of people fleeing Shujaiya, an elderly man paralyzed by shock is unable to run. His son retrieves him and carries him on his back, as he says, “May God get revenge of them [Israel].”

‪#‎GazaUnderAttack: As you watch this, just remember that this is just a glimpse of the indescribable horror endured by our people in Shujaiya.

That’s why Israel didn’t want its ugliness to be reported to the world and prevented media from entering the area as they were massacring civilians.

Remember that these people are the voices who had a chance to be heard. They were luckier than others, who suffered and were killed amidst the world’s silence.

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Multinational doctors slam Nazi war on Gaza

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A multinational group of doctors have written an open letter denouncing the Israeli war and crippling siege on the Gaza Strip.

The doctors have voiced their opposition to the relentless onslaught in the blockaded enclave, describing the war on Gaza “a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent and intensity.”

The group says the Israeli war on Gaza has a direct implication on ordinary civilians who are losing their lives and bearing the brunt.

“The massacre in Gaza spares no one,” the doctors said in the letter.

According to the doctors, the Israeli war on Gaza terrifies people and wounds the soul, mind, and body of the young generation.

The group also says that the Israelis are “demolishing their homes”.

They also condemned the Israeli siege on Gaza, saying it has added to the suffering of ordinary civilians who are living under dire circumstances without being able to receive external help.

Israel unleashed its offensive on the Gaza Strip on July 8. Over the past 20 days, Israeli warplanes have been hitting numerous sites in the besieged Gaza Strip, demolishing houses and burying families in the rubble.

Israel also began a ground offensive against the impoverished enclave on July 17.

The Palestinian death toll from 20 days of aerial and ground assaults on Gaza now stands at 1,062, with more than 6,000 people injured.

The Tel Aviv regime confirms that 43 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the Gaza war. However, Al-Qassam Brigades, which is the military wing of Hamas, says Palestinian resistance fighters have killed at least 90 Israeli soldiers.

Gaza has been blockaded by the Israeli regime since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standards of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

The apartheid regime of Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights.

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“Their F16, drones and guns can kill our bodies, but they can never kill our voice. One day our voice will reach to the sun”

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Talmud The root of religious evil

An old man holds a placard that reads,
“You take my water, burn my olive trees,
Destroy my house, take my job, steal my land,
Imprison my father, kill my mother,
Bombard my country, starve us all,
Humiliate us all, but I am to blame:
I shot a rocket back.”

Here are some ungodly chants
From the Zionist Book of Psalms
Which are used to justify
Laying waste to a whole country
And to its inhabitants:

“We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages
Destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water”
Eli Yishai, former Deputy Prime Minister.
Amen

“There should be no electricity in Gaza,
No gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. …
We need to flatten entire neighborhoods
… flatten all of Gaza”
Israeli journalist Gilad Sharon in the Jerusalem Post.
Amen

“There are no innocents in Gaza. Mow them down …
Kill the Gazans without thought or mercy.”
Michael Ben-Ari, a member of the Knesset.
Amen

Gaza should be “bombed so hard the population
Has to flee into Egypt”
Israel Katz, a Minister of Transportation.
Amen

Gaza should be “wiped clean with bombs”,
Avi Dichter, a Minister of Home Front Defense.
Amen

Israeli soldiers must “learn from the Syrians
How to slaughter the enemy”,
The Israeli Rabbi Yaakov Yosef.
Amen

Here is Ze’ev Jabotinsky, admirer of Mussolini
And the godfather of Zionist militarism,
Justifying “transferring” the Palestinian people
From their homes in 1940:
“The world has become accustomed to the idea
Of mass migrations and has become fond of them.”

Jabotinsky adds, “Hitler— as odious as he is to us—
Has given this idea a good name in the world.” (1)
Amen

It is ironic that Jabotinsky used Hitler
As a precedent for the Palestinians’ “transfer”
Since forcible expulsion
Was among the charges against Adolf Eichmann –
One of the architects of the Nazi Holocaust
Captured in Argentina, and tried and hanged in Israel.

Undeterred, the former chief rabbi,
Mordechai Elyahu, has urged Israel,
Its army and its government
To “employ the Nazi choice”
Against the Palestinians.
To carry out a series of carpet bombings
Of Palestinian population centers in Gaza
He urges the “indiscriminate killing of civilians”.
On religious grounds.
Amen

The Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Schneerson,
A self proclaimed Messiah
Whose followers await his return from the dead,
(As if the Rabbi hadn’t preached
Enough when alive by his making the claim
That his religion heralded a new Master Race) –
Has a devoted and powerful acolyte, Rabbi Manis Friedman,
Who declares that the “only way to fight a moral war”
Is to “destroy the Arabs’ holy sites” and “to kill them.”
To “kill men, women and children”, and to eliminate anyone
Who stands in the way of a Greater Israel,
Friedman embraces Israel’s ruthless colonizing power
With an Old Testament ferocity
And with what Christopher Hitchens has called,
“The root of religious evil.”

Forty-two streets in Israel
Have been named after armed cuckoos –
Murderous Israeli cuckoos
Evicting indigenous birds
From the Palestinian nest,
And then killing them.

Enflamed whenever Palestinians fight back
With an increasing desperation
And despite overwhelming odds
To regain their ancestral land,
Israelis chant “Death to the Arabs”
“A Jew is a brother, an Arab is a bastard,”
The Israeli lawmaker, Ayelet Shaked, calls
For the genocide of Palestinians on Facebook
And advocates “the slaughter of Palestinian mothers
Who give birth to ‘little snakes,’”
Two Israeli girls hold up a banner
“Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values!”
The Rabbi Noam Perel, head of Bnei Akiva
The world’s largest religious-Zionist youth organization,
Urges on his Facebook page that the IDF,
The Israeli Defense Force be transformed
Into an army of avengers,
“Which will not stop at 300 Philistine foreskins”

And, thus incited by a fascistic atavism,
Israeli Jews go on the rampage
Looking to beat any Arab they encounter.

On July 2nd, 2014,
A young man in Gaza,
Muhammad Abu-Khdeir,
A 16-year old boy with a knowing, elfin smile
Is pulled into a car
And kidnapped in East Jerusalem
On the way back from the mosque.

He is tied and beaten;
He has gasoline poured into his mouth
And he is burned alive.

His body is found in the Jerusalem Forest;
Battered in the head
And with soot deposits in the lungs
Suggesting he still breathed
When set on fire.
Ninety per cent of his body is burned.

Another victim of Israel’s slow motion genocide –
A holocaust which, this time,
Is being financed and uncritically supported
By ‘the good guys’,
By the internationally great and the good,
By a chorus of the compliant who ritually pipe up
To defend Israel’s right to defend itself –
To defend the indefensible.

Heathcote Williams is an English poet, actor and award-winning playwright. He contributed this poem to PalestineChronicle.com.

http://othersite.org/heathcote-william-an-old-man-and-a-young-man-in-gaza-a-poem/

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on “Their F16, drones and guns can kill our bodies, but they can never kill our voice. One day our voice will reach to the sun”

Witness to Nazi shelling: first-hand account of deadly strike on Gaza port

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There is a deafening explosion, then a second. Four children are dead. Four survivors reach the safety of our hotel.
Link to video: Gaza: Israeli strike kills four children on beachThe first projectile hit the sea wall of Gaza City’s little harbour just after four o’clock. As the smoke from the explosion thinned, four figures could be seen running, ragged silhouettes, legs pumping furiously along the wall. Even from a distance of 200 metres, it was obvious that three of them were children.Jumping off the harbour wall, they turned on to the beach, attempting to cross the short distance to the safety of the Al-Deira hotel, base for many of the journalists covering the Gaza conflict.

They waved and shouted at the watching journalists as they passed a little collection of brightly coloured beach tents, used by bathers in peacetime.

Smoke billows from a beach shack following an Israeli military strike - gaza port shelling

Smoke billows from a beach shack following the in Gaza City which killed four children. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty ImagesIt was there that the second shell hit the beach, those firing apparently adjusting their fire to target the fleeing survivors. As it exploded, journalists standing by the terrace wall shouted: “They are only children.”In the space of 40 seconds, four boys who had been playing hide and seek among fishermen’s shacks on the wall were dead. They were aged between seven and 11; two were named Mohammad, one Zakaria and the youngest Ahed. All were members of the extended Bakr family.

Three others who were injured made it to the hotel: Hamad Bakr, aged 13, with shrapnel in his chest; his cousin Motasem, 11, injured in his head and legs, and Mohammad Abu Watfah, 21, who was hit by shrapnel in his stomach.

A man who had been near them reached the hotel terrace first, scrambling up a steep sandy bank. A skinny man in his 30s, he groaned and held up a T-shirt already staining red with blood where he was hit in the stomach. He fainted and was carried to a taxi waved down in the street as he grew pale and limp.

The children were brought up next. Pulling up the T-shirt of the first boy, journalists administering first aid found a shrapnel hole, small and round as a pencil head, where he had been hit in the chest. Another boy, a brother or cousin, who was uninjured, slumped by the wall, weeping.

Employees of Gaza City's al-Deira hotel take care of a wounded boy -  gaza port shelling

Employees of Gaza City’s al-Deira hotel take care of a wounded boy. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty ImagesThe injured boy cried in pain as the journalists cleaned and dressed the wound, wrapping a field dressing around his chest. He winced in pain, clearly embarrassed too as a colleague checked his shorts to look for unseen femoral bleeding. A waiter grabbed a table cloth to use as a stretcher, but a photographer took the boy in his arms to carry him to the ambulance.The Israeli military said it was looking into the incident. The Israel Defence Force told the AFP in a statement: “Based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives. The reported civilian casualties from this strike are a tragic outcome.”

The Islamist group Hamas, which controls Gaza, on Wednesday formally rejected Egypt’s ceasefire proposal that had been accepted by Israel to end the nine-day-old conflict that has left at least 213 Palestinians and one Israeli dead. In a text message to the Associated Press, a senior Hamas figure, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: “We informed Cairo today officially that we don’t accept the proposal they made.”

He added that Hamas felt “alone in the field” with little support from the Arab world and called on the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of the rival Fatah faction in the West Bank, to support Hamas’s refusal of the ceasefire deal.

Diplomatic sources told the Guardian that they did not believe that a serious new ceasefire proposal was likely to emerge for several days and, even then, securing a deal looked very difficult.

Hamas’s rejection came as an Israeli official said Israel’s defence minister had asked prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet to authorise the mobilisation of another 8,000 reserves. The military has said about 30,000 reservists have been called up since the Israeli offensive began last week.

Israeli experts have been predicting in recent days that any ground attack, which Israel has threatened, may involve overland raids in the Gaza Strip to destroy command bunkers and tunnels that have allowed the outgunned Palestinians to withstand air and naval barrages and keep the rockets flying. Hamas continued to fire dozens of rockets into Israelon Wednesday.

Palestinian al-Deira hotel employees carry a wounded boy - gaza port shelling

Palestinian employees of Gaza City’s al-Deira hotel carry a wounded boy following the shelling nearby on the beach. Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty ImagesHamas views a significant easing of the Israeli blockade as key to its survival, but does not believe Egypt’s current rulers – who deposed a Hamas-friendly government in Cairo last year – can be fair brokers.The Egyptian proposal called for a halt in hostilities by Tuesday night to be followed by talks on the terms of a longer-term ceasefire, including easing Gaza’s seven-year-old border blockade by Israel and Egypt. Israeli air raids on Gaza on Wednesday saw the targeting of 30 houses, including those of senior Hamas leaders, most notably Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas’s former foreign minister.

Alongside the air strikes, Israel told tens of thousands of residents of the northern town of Beit Lahiya and the Zeitoun and Shujai’iya neighbourhoods of Gaza City– all near the Israel border – to evacuate their homes by 8am. The warnings came by automated phonecalls, texts and leaflets dropped from planes.

The Israeli military said in its message that large numbers of rockets were being launched from these areas and that Israel planned to bomb these locations.

“Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families,” the message said.

At the Shifa hospital on Wednesday afternoon, Hamad Bakr was conscious and waiting for surgery to remove the shrapnel from his chest and drain fluid from his chest cavity. “My father has a fishing boat there. We were playing hide and seek when we were hit. I didn’t hear the first one which killed one of us but I heard the second as we were running along the beach. That one killed three more.”

His mother Taghrid, 35, came into the room. “Why did you go out of the door?” she demanded of Hamad.

She said that his brother, Younis, who was with Hamad, while he was being treated, “is so scared that he is shaking”.

Suddenly angry and grief stricken, she said: “They killed my nephew. Who does that? Who fires on children?”

As the reporters left, Mohammad Abu Watfah was wheeled out of a lift after surgery to remove the shrapnel in his stomach. As relatives gathered not far from the Al-Deira hotel to bury the four dead boys, barely 90 minutes after the attack on the beach, the boys’ uncle, Abdel Kareem Baker, 41, said: “It’s a cold-blooded massacre. It’s a shame they didn’t identify them as kids with all of the advanced technology they claim they’re using.”

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Why Nazi legal justifications for ‘Operation Protective Edge’ are wrong

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Video of Nazi roof knocking technique in Gaza.

On 8 July Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge” in the Gaza Strip followed, on 17 July, by an ongoing ground invasion. Reminiscent of “Operation Cast Lead” in December 2008 to January 2009 and“Operation Pillar of Defense” in November 2012, there have been violations of international law committed both by Israel and Palestinian resistance groups. Yet, as with previous operations, the framing of “Operation Protective Edge” by both the media and world leaders has not only distanced this latest round of hostilities from the wider context of Israel’s 47 year-old occupation of the Palestinian territory – namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip – but has also framed the discourse in a manner that largely legitimises Israel’s violations of international law.

As a Palestinian human rights organisation established to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq has sought to address the widely inaccurate interpretations of international law that appear to justify Israel’s actions during “Operation Protective Edge”.

Why Israel’s “self-defence” justification is misleading

The UN Charter obliges all Members to refrain from the threat or use of force, with the sole exception of the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations”. This provision of the UN Charter forms the basis of the jus ad bellum – otherwise known as the body of law that regulates how and when UN Member States can resort to the use of force, i.e. it is applicable before an armed conflict erupts.

“Operation Protective Edge”, however, has been launched within the context of an ongoing occupation. Occupation in itself is a phase in armed conflict in which the previous invasion phase has ceased and authority is exercised and established by the Occupying Power. As such, the applicable body of law is international humanitarian law (IHL), which forms the basis of the jus in bello – otherwise known as the laws that regulate an ongoing armed conflict. Once in the throws of an armed conflict, as Israel has been since it occupied the OPT in 1967, the initial resort to force has already occurred and all ongoing and future use of force must be regulated exclusively by IHL, which does not include a “self-defence” provision. Instead, IHL recognises the reality of armed conflict while seeking to limit the humanitarian cost with a number of fundamental provisions, from which there can be no derogation. The prohibition against intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure and the obligation to take all precautions in attack to avoid civilian casualties are two crucial tenets of IHL.

Furthermore, Israel’s use of the “terrorism paradigm” to justify its attacks on the Gaza Strip is legally flawed. As the Occupying Power, Israel already exercises effective control over the OPT according to the rules of IHL. As such, rockets fired from the Gaza Strip cannot be viewed as an external threat of terrorism, but instead must be addressed within the context of a belligerent Occupant’s duty to maintain order within the occupied State under the laws governing belligerent occupation.

Regardless, the UN Security Council has made it clear that any actions combating terrorism must be in line with international law, particularly international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. Therefore, Israel’s claim that it is engaged in a conflict to combat alleged terrorism does not absolve it from its obligations as a party to the conflict. As such, IHL and international human rights law (IHRL) remain the applicable bodies of law for any Israeli actions taken in the Gaza Strip no matter the pretext. Furthermore, it must be noted the obligation to respect and ensure respect for IHL does not depend on reciprocity.

Why “knock-on-the-roof” warnings, telephone calls, SMS messages and leaflets do not alleviate Israel’s obligation not to target civilians and civilian infrastructure

FA1 X4 GAZA 2014-03-06 H264-15Mbs from Forensic Architecture on Vimeo.

While the attacking party to the conflict is obliged to take precautionary measures before carrying out attacks in order to spare civilians and civilian objects, this by no means negates the primary obligation not to make civilians and civilian objects the target of attack. In cases in which a building is civilian in nature, Israel’s policy of “knock-on-the-roof” warnings – a procedure in which it fires a small missile at the roof of a building to warn its occupants that a fully armed larger missile attack is imminent – does not transform that building or its occupants into legitimate military targets. Telephone calls, SMS messages and leaflets warning civilians of an imminent attack similarly cannot be considered to alter the individuals’ civilian character nor imply that civilian casualties resulting from such attacks are to be considered ‘human shields’. In addition, when providing warnings, attacking parties to the conflict must ensure that such warnings are meaningful in that they indicate where civilians can take shelter and how much time they have to evacuate the premises. Without such information the warning is rendered ineffective.

Furthermore, Israel’s “knock-on-the-roof” policy in itself has caused damage to civilian property, has injured and killed civilians and generates fear among the civilian population. In this regard, it should be emphasised that in all circumstances it is the attacking party that must to do everything possible to verify that the objective is indeed military and not civilian. In case of any doubt as to the identity of the object or persons, they must be assumed to be civilians; hence the attack must be aborted.

Why the military necessity of displacing thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip must be called into question

Under IHL, the principle of military necessity is the exclusive legal justification for any military operation. As such, belligerent parties must assess whether a military advantage will be gained as a result of an attack against legitimate military targets. Even if the proposed action does not violate other rules of IHL, attacks not intended to contribute to the enemy’s military defeat can never be justified by military necessity, because they serve no military purpose. Following from this definition, military action must be intended towards the military defeat of the opposing forces and must offer a direct contribution towards this goal.

Israel’s policy of urging Palestinians to evacuate their homes in whole neighbourhoods, leading to the displacement of tens of thousands of people, can only be justified if such action is essential for the attainment of legitimate goals, which are in themselves in line with the rules of IHL. If an attack is carried out and it transpires that there was no military advantage to be gained, then it may suggest that the motivation for the attack was to terrorise and forcibly displace the civilian population, in violation of IHL. During “Operation Protective Edge” Israel has issued fake warnings in which it informs families that their homes will be attacked without actually carrying out the attack. Such warnings instil fear into the civilian population of Gaza, unnecessarily contribute to the daily increase in displaced Palestinians and violate the prohibition included in the Fourth Geneva Convention against all measures of intimidation or terrorism.

Why any rejection of ceasefire proposals does not alter the obligations incumbent on the parties to the conflict under international law

The acceptance or rejection of any ceasefire proposal by either party to the conflict is a purely political decision and does not alter the obligation incumbent upon both Palestinian resistance groups and Israel to refrain from targeting civilians and civilian objects. In accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention, no agreement between the parties to the conflict can adversely affect the situation of protected persons, i.e. the Palestinian population, nor restrict the rights conferred upon them by the Convention. Any ceasefire should be brokered under conditions that address the root cause of the current situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and that seek to bring to an end the unlawful closure of the Gaza Strip and ensure Israeli compliance with its obligations under international law.

Why “Operation Protective Edge” must be viewed in the context of the 47 year-old occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip

Despite Israel’s unilateral ‘disengagement’ in 2005, the Gaza Strip remains under occupation, as affirmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), numerous states and UN bodies. Israel has repeatedly demonstrated that it meets the “effective control” threshold necessary for occupation through its ability to deploy troops into the Gaza Strip, its ability to make its authority felt in the territory and its continuing control over land borders, population registry, airspace and territorial sea.

As the Occupying Power, Israel is under a legal obligation to take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population of the occupied territory and to ensure that the human rights of the population therein are upheld. Israel’s illegal regime of closure imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 amounts to a form of collective punishment of the population of 1.8 million and has prevented full recovery from the devastation caused by “Operation Cast Lead” and “Operation Pillar of Defense”. The Gaza Strip is entirely surrounded by a concrete wall, a double wire fence, watchtowers and closed crossings and is subject to a naval blockade, allowing Israel to monitor and restrict the entry of goods and materials into the territory, including vital medicine and medical equipment. In the past year, the only departure point from the Gaza Strip, the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, has been frequently closed. These closures of the Rafah crossing, compounded by Israel’s ongoing closure of the territory, have resulted in electricity and fuel shortages.

This ongoing closure, combined with repeated cycles of violence, has a devastating impact on the population’s right to life, health, education, food, water and adequate standard of living – all of which Israel is obligated to provide for under IHRL. Import and export restrictions have severely stunted basic infrastructural development and recovery and have had a particularly negative impact on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in Gaza. By the first quarter of 2014, this had translated into an unemployment rate of 40.8%.

These continuous violations of international law have provided the background for the current escalation of violence. In order for a just peace to be achieved that puts an end to this vicious cycle of violence, the international community must uphold their obligations under international law, including their own obligations under the Geneva Conventions, in order to end Israeli impunity. Ultimately, Israel’s occupation of the OPT must be brought to an end, as this is the root cause of the violations of international law committed in the region and the ongoing threat to peace and security. The framework for achieving this just peace is found in international law and only through its respect and enforcement can such a peace be achieved.

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Berkeley rabbi mounts a soapbox in my living room

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Palestinian al-Deira hotel employees carry a wounded boy - gaza port shelling

Today an obnoxious blog post showed up in my living room via my Facebook feed. A friend commented on a bit of detritus, and, voila, courtesy of the FB algorithm, there it was, staring me in the face. I see the headline (“I’m Done Apologizing for Israel”) and I try to avert my eyes.  But it’s too late. Somehow, when someone stands on a soapbox in my living room to make provocative statements, I feel compelled to respond.  I can’t help it. Friends don’t always appreciate it. They get all excited because I state a dissenting view when they share on FB; I speak up and they complain “why are you raining on my parade?”  Well, I say, because you are standing on a soapbox in the middle of my living room, that’s why.

Today’s offender does not know me.  He probably means me no harm. Yet, surely by posting on the Internet, he must have known he was acting with reckless disregard that his provocation might show up in my living room and disturb an otherwise perfectly peaceful evening.

He’s a rabbi, this particular offender.  And not just any rabbi, but a rabbi recognized by Newsweek magazine as one of America’s 50 most influential rabbis. He’s from Berkeley; a self-professed “progressive” in favor of gay rights, gun control, pro-choice, and granting refuge to illegal immigrants.  He considers himself a spiritual leader.  So he says, when it comes to Israel, we might expect him to “react to Israel’s military actions in Gaza with scorn and criticism.”

Well, actually no.  Anyone who is awake and paying attention has surely noticed that lefty spiritual leaders in America these days are the most mindless, reactionary apologists for Israel on the planet.  If you haven’t been paying attention, read Peter Beinart’s “The Crisis of Zionism.”  So here’s my first peeve with this rabbi on his soapbox in my living room:  for him to suggest that because he’s a lefty I should expect him to be critical of Israel killing in excess of 630, and injuring in excess of 3,700 Palestinians in 10 days by bombing densely populated areas, means he is implicitly assuming that I’m a moron–that I haven’t been paying attention.

So, no, although annoyed, I am not surprised that this “spiritual leader” is sitting on his soapbox in my living room spouting the standard Israel apologist talking points:  (1) how can you say it’s wrong for Netanyahu to bomb civilians–just look at the anti-Semitic chants at protests in Los Angeles, Paris, Antwerp, and Boston; (2) how can you say Netanyahu is over-reacting when Israel is treating wounded Palestinians in this conflict, when (just in the last 48 hours) Israel has let 10 tons of supplies into Gaza, when Israel has agreed to two humanitarian cease fires while Hamas has rained down rockets on civilians?  How indeed.

For every anti-semitic chant last week in Los Angeles, Paris, Antwerp, and Boston, there have been chants of “death to Arabs” in Jerusalem.  Our “spiritual leader” does not deem this worth mentioning.  Contrary to what our “spiritual leader” says, of course, no Hamas rockets have rained down on civilians:  virtually all rockets have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome (developed with American aid and ingenuity and money, thank you very much) or have fallen on empty fields.  How can we be critical of killing 630 Palestinians and wounding 3,700 when Israel treats some of the wounded?  Really?  Our “spiritual leader” might benefit from reading the Thomas Mann short story Tobias Mindernickel.  It’s about a highly disturbed fellow who mercilessly beats his dog, only to take great pity on him and nurture him lovingly back to health–repeatedly, until the dog finally dies, at which point the man is very sad.

Why do we need to apologize for Israel’s killing of Palestinians, asks the “spiritual leader,” when Hamas is using building materials to build smuggling tunnels instead of schools? Isn’t it o.k. for Israel to kill women and children and old people when Hamas has such obvious disregard for them?  “I am done trying to apologetically explain Jewish morality,” says our spiritual leader. “I am done apologizing for my own Jewish existence.”  He says “I have lost 20 of my sons in the last three days.” He refers to IDF soldiers.  Soldiers who were party to the murder of 630 Palestinians, mostly non-combatant civilians.

This is no spiritual leader, this is one of stout Cortez’s chaplains.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Berkeley rabbi mounts a soapbox in my living room

U.S. casts lonely vote against establishing war crimes inquiry in Gaza

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Thousands hold an anti-Israel rally in the city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on July 27, 2014.
UN Human Rights Council vote for Commission of Inquiry on alleged war crimes in Gaza,  July 23, 2014. (Photo: Twitter)

UN Human Rights Council vote for Commission of Inquiry on alleged war crimes in Gaza, July 23, 2014. (Photo: Twitter)

The U.S. has cast the sole vote against establishing an investigation by the United Nations into war crimes committed in Gaza.

Yesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 29-1, with 17 abstentions, to establish an inquiry. The United States was the only no vote. The European nations on the council all abstained.

In a statement, the UN Human Rights Council said it voted to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations” of international law “in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.”

The UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, said that “there seems to be a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”

The Israeli government immediately condemned the vote. “The decision today by the UNHRC is a travesty and should be rejected by decent people everywhere,” the Israeli government said in a statement sent to journalists. “The predicable result will be the libeling of Israel and even greater use of human shields in the future by Hamas.”

The Israeli news website YNet reported that officials were contemplating whether or not to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council in response to the vote. Israel has long decried the Human Rights Council’s focus on Israel. Both the United States and Israel had withdrawn from the council in recent years over its focus on Israel, but had rejoined over the past two years.

A key U.S. priority at the UN has been shielding Israel from criticism of its human rights record. In 2009, then U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the U.S. rejoined the Human Rights Council so she could, in part, “fight against the anti-Israel crap.” And in 2013, Rice told Reform Jews that a “huge part” of her job was defending Israel.

Israeli assaults on Gaza inevitably draw the council to establish inquiries.

In 2009, the Human Rights Council’s decision to do so lead to what became known as the Goldstone Report. Respected South African Jewish jurist Richard Goldstone authored the comprehensive report which condemned Israel’s attack, saying it was designed to “humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.” The U.S. voiced strong criticisms of the report and ensured that its findings of Israeli war crimes would not come up for a vote at the Security Council or be referred to an international court.

The impact of the Goldstone Report’s findings were diminished after Goldstone himself recanted a key finding of the report: that Israel deliberately targeted civilians. The other three members of the inquiry sharply disagreed with Goldstone’s recantation.

Whether this report on Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” will attract the attention the Goldstone Report received likely depends on who is chosen to lead the authoring of the report. Goldstone was demonized after his report was published.

The UN Human Rights Council found that Israel’s 2012 assault on Gaza violated international law. They also found that Palestinian militant groups violated the law. But nothing substantive came from that report.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, GazaComments Off on U.S. casts lonely vote against establishing war crimes inquiry in Gaza

How Zio-Nazi militarized social media

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The Israeli Defense Forces Facebook page

The Israeli Defense Forces Facebook page

Is Israel losing the media war?  In the last few days, as Israel continues its bombardment of the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian death tolls continues to mount, this question has consumed the global media.  And most have agreed: in the age of social media, with abundant mobile technologies in the hands of Gaza Palestinians and their global supporters, the Israeli state-sponsored media strategy has failed.  On the one hand, we have the staccato of familiar @IDFSpokesman talking-points: “human shields” “we warned them with leaflets.”  On the other, we have a deluge of viral images of Palestinian dead and wounded, minute-by-minute updates from the unfolding Gaza warfields.  From the @IDFSpokesman, we get didactic infographics.  From Palestinians in Gaza, viral jpegs from the ground.  The Israeli military does not understand the nature of the social media playing field, pundits have implied, and their message is failing.  There is something like a tone of surprise in such assessments.  As if surely the innovation nation (thus Israel has branded itself) should reign supreme in the social media field.

What’s been lost in this coverage – in this story of surprise — is the history of the Israel’s army presence on social media.  For in fact, the military’s move to social media as a public relations platform has been rife with improvisation and failure, a process that runs counter to IDF narratives about its innovative work in this regard (the IDF lauding itself as a military early adopter).  The army’s interest in the wartime potential of social media can be traced to the first few days of the 2008-2009 Gaza incursion.  Then, they launched their own YouTube channel to showcase footage of the Israeli assault – a very improvisational effort of young military recruits.  Despite widespread international condemnation of Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, the military claimed a decisive public relations victory in the arena of social media, trumpeting the popularity of its YouTube initiative (some videos were viewed more than 2 million times).  In the years that followed, the IDF investment in social media would grow exponentially both in budgetary and manpower allocations, building on this ostensible wartime triumph.

But the process was rife with challenges and missteps.  For the military, Facebook presented the paramount challenge, deemed the biggest PR risk and the biggest PR opportunity. The standard Facebook template was initially seen as infeasible on several grounds.  First was the populist character of the platform: “Facebook has a tabloid-y look to it,” an IDF official told me in March 2011, “and we are, after all, a serious organization.” [1]  But perhaps most crucially, military developers regarded the Facebook “wall” as a nearly insurmountable obstacle due to the anticipated fusillade of criticism.  The army had learned this lesson during the 2008-2009 Gaza incursion, when its YouTube channel was initially left open to commenters, many of whom turned out to be detractors. The comment function was disabled one day after launch.

On August 14, 2011 — following months of development work — the first official IDF Facebook page was launched in English and within one day boasted 90,000 followers (an Arabic-language page, with far fewer followers, appeared shortly thereafter). Military developers toyed with playful manipulation of platform protocols so that they might serve military priorities.  Its retooling of the “like” button was considered a case in point: “Click ‘Like’ if you support the IDF’s right to defend the state of Israel from those who attempt to harm Israelis,” in the words of an early post.  Military personnel articulated the retooling challenge this way: “This is a problem that I face every day. And I have to be creative. I cannot say: ‘Like’ Israel under attack. So, it’s really complicated, but what I try to do is to create a new language, to interpret the language of the army on Facebook.” [2]

The administration of Facebook was a particular challenge.  Here, the military was hoping to avoid the mistakes made by the Israeli Foreign Ministry (FM), their online presence preceding that of the military.  In 2011, I spent a morning with the administrator of the FM’s Arabic Twitter and Facebook accounts who confessed to being perennially overworked, her labor complicated by the lack of prior experience with digital technologies.  Facebook moderation constituted the bulk of her job – this on a page with some 70,000 followers from the Arab Middle East.  Then, posts from any day generate hundreds and sometimes thousands of comments, many of them hostile. But due to budgetary constraints, their ‘wall’ was only surveyed during working hours.  In the morning, she would conduct the mop-up.  Israeli army plans for Facebook page included “specific night shifts” on the wall alone, a lesson learned from FM mistakes.

The military’s approach to Facebook commentary would change considerably over time. At first, members of the military’s social media team were anxious to remove what they deemed “derogatory” posts — namely, comments critical of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories. In subsequent months, it would adopt a looser policy of permitting criticism to remain online and visible to users.  In the language of the military, this shift in policy was articulated through the metaphor of graffiti, by which the Facebook wall was conceived as a physical edifice, available for public defacement:

“We’re not responsible [for the Facebook wall], and I think that people understand that.… Like, if somebody sprays graffiti on the front door of the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, with graffiti that says “Zionist pigs,” nobody would assume that we painted that, but we’re sure not gonna leave it. I think it’s the same general principle. People understand, but if you leave it, it’s kind of tacit approval. As a policy it’s good to get rid of it, but it’s still not immediately important that you do. No one is assuming that it reflects your policies.” [3]

Twitter presented its own problems and possibilities.  In the fall of 2011, the military had only four officials tweeting in its name.  Increasingly aware of the time-sensitive nature of social media content, their new media team was beginning to prepare Twitter messaging ahead of time — drafting boilerplate that might become army communiqués during military actions in the Occupied Territories, cognizant of the ways that such preparations would enable the military’s social media team to deliver real-time responses to detractors in times of crisis.

Order vs. Informality

Perhaps the military’s chief challenge in those early days was the informal tenor of social media communications. In 2011, as the military was expanding its work with popular platforms, a senior representative of the IDF spokesperson’s office described this problem to me as follows:

They [social media] are contradictory to the military institution. Any army is a closed organization, and usually it keeps its secrets and operational details inside. And new media works on the opposite [sic]; also the language is different. The military language is very strict. There’s a lot of abbreviations; it has very specific intonations. And the new media is exactly the opposite — a lot of emotions, a lot of questions…informality. So it’s a bit difficult to teach the military how new media is really an asset, but we’ve been doing it for the past two years. [4]

This officer touted the potential of new media as a means of spreading information, mainly its ability to reach audiences that traditional media could not. But she conceded that it had been hard persuading the upper echelons to embrace the shift, given its radical departure from conventional military protocols and modes of IDF self-presentation. Over the course of subsequent two years, the army endeavored to redress internal reluctance through education, chiefly training courses for officers.

In those early years, the ignorance led to embarrassing missteps. In the spring of 2011, senior IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu spoke of the military’s intention to enlist “little hackers who were born and raised online,” young people whom the IDF would “screen with special care and train…to serve the state.” His comments were picked up by the Israeli online media and were broadcast on the military’s dedicated YouTube channel.  An IDF spokesman later clarified the nature of the misstatement to me by e-mail, explaining that Benayahu had intended to refer to “an army of bloggers,” rather than “hackers” — the latter term disturbing many IDF officials with its unflattering invocation of covert online malfeasance, a notion out of keeping with the self-portrait that the military’s social media team sought to paint. When I looked for Benayahu’s remarks on YouTube at a later date, they were gone — scrubbed, presumably, in the interest of the IDF’s image of professionalism.

“Telegenetically Dead”

Today, Israelis are also concerned about losing the media war.  But they tell the story differently.  In their rendering, the Israeli media problem is a by-product of damning or doctored images (this was the spirit of Netanyahu’s infamous “telegenically dead” remarks), of Palestinian media manipulation, of global anti-Israeli cum anti-Semitic bias.  The Israeli media manages these problems by removing most traces of Palestinian dead and wounded from national news broadcasts. As in Gaza campaigns of the past, many Israelis deem their mere mention tantamount to national slander; in the past few days, Israeli leftists have been physically and verbally attacked for no less.  And for mainstream Israeli publics, who overwhelmingly back the current operation, @IDFSpokesman tweets will continue to resound convincingly: the only moral army, the existential threat, we had no choice, #IsraelUnderFire.

Notes

1. Stein interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, March 2011.

2. Stein interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, November 2011.

3. Stein interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, November 2011.

4. Stein interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, March 2011.

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Horrifying details continue to emerge of Nazi massacre in Khuza’a

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A Palestinian relative holds the body of a two-year-old girl, who medics said was killed by an Israeli tank shell, at the morgue in Beit Lahiya. Photo credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Yesterday we published a brief account of an apparent massacre in the Palestinian village Khuza’a, a village east of Khan Younis and close to the Israeli border in Gaza. That had been sent to Felice Gelman over Facebook and today, Yamen Radwan sent Gelman another brief message: “#Massacre_Khuza’a: stilling going on until now executions of civilians and wounded by Israeli forces in the streets of Khuza’a.”

News reports of what happened, or is happening, in Khuza’a remain vague. Above, from Al Jazeera, is the only video news report we’ve been able to find.  National Public Radio’s Emily Harris just now reported a telephone conversation with a woman who escaped the village after two days in a basement and who said that snipers were shooting people in the streets.

The Gaza NGO Palestinian Centre for Human Rights included these details from Khuza’a in an daily report it issued today covering events from yesterday:

At approximately 12:30, Israel forces that had moved into Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, fired bullets and artillery shells at hundreds of Palestinian civilians who attempted to leave the village as there were reports about a one-hour coordination to evacuate casualties.  Israeli forces fired also at ambulances and prevented them from entering the village.

At approximately 17:00, 12 ambulances attempted to enter Khuza’a village, but Israeli forces prevented and fired at them.

At approximately 18:30, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a house belonging to Dr. Kamal Abu Rujaila, which he uses as clinic, in Khuza’a village, as a number of wounded Palestinians went to the house seeking medical aid.  A number of casualties were reported as a result of the attack.  Apparently, one Palestinian was killed.  Medical crews were not able to reach the house. A volunteer paramedic, who was wounded throughout the body while he was attempting to evacuate wounded Palestinians, has been trapped in the area since Wednesday morning, 23 July 2014, as medical crews have not been able to reach him.  According to reports from Khuza’a village, Israeli forces raided a number of houses and turned them into military sites.  They also arrested scores of Palestinians.  At approximately 23:00, an ICRC crew and 10 ambulances of Palestine Red Crescent Society went to Kuza’a village, but they were not able to evacuate victims because the situation was extremely dangerous.

At approximately 21:00, an Israeli warplane launched a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis, killing 2 of them: Mohammed Barham Abu Draz, 24; and ‘Essam Ibrahim Abu Ismail, 23.

At approximately 06:50, Israeli forces fired at dozens of Palestinian civilians who raised white flags and attempted to leave Khuza’a village, and forced them to go back homes.

At approximately 07:15, Israeli forces fired at a number of Palestinian civilians who attempted to leave Khuza’a through a dirt road leading to ‘Abassan village.  One of these civilians, Mohammed Ahmed Suleiman al-Najjar, 56, was killed by a bullet to the neck.  Two civilians were also wounded.

Also at approximately 08:30, medical crews were able to recover the body of Fadi Yousef Ahmed al-Najjar, 27, who is physically disabled, from Khuza’a village.  He was killed by Israeli shelling.

At approximately 09:50, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a motor cart on which a number of Palestinian civilians were traveling attempting to leave Khuza’a village.  As a result, 4 civilians were killed and another 2 ones were wounded.  The victims have not been identified as their bodies were burnt.

This account is consistent with social media. The most complete comes from Khuza’a resident Mahmoud Ismail who tweeted out updates from the village. They were translated by Mohammad Alsaafin who retweeted them. The updates read:

Account: My family & I made it out, light injuries. Hundreds of casualties, bodies in the streets. Many of the dead in Khuza’a bled to death bc ambulances unable to reach. From my window I watched a 20 yr old die for hours. One doctor, Kamal Abu Rjeila, treated injuries that came into his clinic even after it was bombed & his father killed. The Israeli army used ten families as human shields. They took over their homes and wouldn’t let them escape.Home I was sheltering in with 50 others was bombed. I don’t know what happened to them but my shoes soaked in their blood. We escaped to our home under the cover of the dust from the bombing. Minutes later, it was hit by 3 artillery shells. We tried to escape on foot to Khuzaa’s exit, but helicopters fired on us. I saw a woman carrying her dead child in one arm and a white flag in the other. She used the white flag to wrap his body. As we walked I saw my uncle and his son, dead on the road next to their house. Snipers were hitting people in the legs. My other cousin died trying to save his bleeding brother in the street. They died on top of each other. There are corpses still lying in the streets, injured people waiting to become corpses, families who still haven’t escaped

The village was also attacked during Cast Lead, the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2009. The definitive report on the conflict by the UN Human Rights Council, the Goldstone Report of 2009, documented Israeli sniper killings of civilians in the village, and the prevention of ambulances from arriving to take the wounded away:

11. The shooting of Rouhiyah al-Najjar

780. The Mission visited the site of the shooting of Rouhiyah al-Najjar in Khuza’a. It interviewed two eyewitnesses of the shooting and six other witnesses to the events, including Yasmine al-Najjar, Nasser al-Najjar, Rouhiyah al-Najjar’s husband, and their daughter Hiba.

781. The Israeli armed forces launched the attack against Khuza’a, a small town about half a kilometre from the border (Green Line) with Israel east of Khan Yunis, around 10 p.m. on 12 January 2009. During the night, they used white phosphorous munitions, causing fires to break out in the al-Najjar neighbourhood on the eastern fringe of Khuza’a. Families in the neighbourhood, including the family of Nasser al-Najjar, his first wife Rouhiyah and their daughter Hiba, spent much of the night trying to extinguish fires in their houses. Israeli armed forces, possibly heliborne troops, had taken position on the roofs of some houses in the neighbourhood and observed the residents as they attempted to fight the fires. Around 3 a.m. residents also began to hear the noise of approaching tanks and bulldozers, with which they were well familiar, as in 2008 there had been several Israeli incursions into the farmland to the north and east of Khuza’a, in the course of which bulldozers flattened fields, groves, chicken coops and greenhouses.

782. In the early morning hours, some of the residents, including Rouhiyah al-Najjar, climbed on the roofs of their houses and hoisted improvised white flags. Using megaphones, the Israeli armed forces asked the men of the neighbourhood to come out of the houses and walk towards the tanks. There the men were separated into two groups which were then held in different houses under the control of the soldiers.

783. At some point between 7 and 7.45 a.m., Rouhiyah al-Najjar and the women in her immediate neighbourhood decided to leave their homes and walk with their children to the town centre. The group of women was headed by Rouhiyah al-Najjar and her 23-year-old neighbour and relative Yasmine al-Najjar, both carrying white flags. Rouhiyah’s daughter Hiba was right behind her. Other women were holding up babies in their arms, shouting “God is great!” and “We have children!” The group of women and children started moving down a straight alley, about six or seven metres wide, flanked on both sides by houses. At the other end of the alley, a little more than 200 metres away,431 was the house of Faris al-Najjar, which had been occupied by numerous Israeli soldiers (around 60 according to one witness). The soldiers had made a hole in the wall of the first floor of the house, giving them a good view down the alley into which the group of women and children were advancing. When Rouhiyah al-Najjar was about 200 metres from Faris al-Najjar’s house, a shot fired from that house hit her in the temple (she had just turned her head towards her neighbour next to her to encourage her). Rouhiyah al-Najjar fell to the ground; Yasmine was struck in her leg. This single shot was followed by concentrated gunfire, which forced the group of women and children to scramble back into the houses of Osama al-Najjar and Shawki al-Najjar, though it did not cause further injury. Because of the fire from the Israeli soldiers, they did not dare to leave the house and look after Rouhiyah al-Najjar. They stayed inside until around noon the same day, when they made a second, successful attempt to leave the neighbourhood and walk to a safer part of Khuza’a.

784. An ambulance driver from Khan Yunis hospital, Marwan Abu Reda, received a phone call from Khuza’a asking for emergency help for Rouhiyah al-Najjar at around 7.45 a.m. He immediately drove to Khuza’a and arrived in the neighbourhood shortly after 8 a.m., i.e. within no more than an hour from the shooting. He was already in the alley where Rouhiyah al-Najjar was lying on the ground when soldiers opened fire from houses or rooftops, forcing him to make a U-turn and take the ambulance to a nearby alley. He called PRCS and asked it to see access to the injured woman, through ICRC and in coordination with the Israeli armed forces, without success. Marwan Abu Reda was not able to pick up Rouhiyah al-Najjar’s (by then lifeless) body until the evening of that day. He confirmed to the Mission that she had received a bullet in the temple.

431 The Mission did not measure the distance; this is an estimate.

432 The Mission does not have information which would allow it to state whether Rouhiyah al-Najjar was still alive when the ambulance arrived.

12. Factual findings

785. The Mission has no reason to doubt the veracity of the main elements of the testimony of the witnesses it heard with regard to the shooting of Rouhiyah al-Najjar.

786. The Mission’s site inspection and the testimony of several witnesses appear to establish that the group of women and children led by Rouhiyah al-Najjar had slowly walked for at least 20 metres before the shot that killed Rouhiyahher was fired. During that time, Israeli soldiers standing on the roofs of the houses in the neighbourhood had ample time to observe the group.

The fact that, after shooting Rouhiyah and Yasmine al-Najjar, the soldiers directed warning fire at the group without injuring anyone, but forcing them to retreat to a house, is further indication that the soldiers had not observed any threat to them from the group. Indeed, a few hours later the same group was allowed to walk past the soldiers to a safer area of Khuza’a. The Mission accordingly finds that Rouhiyah al-Najjar was deliberately shot by an Israeli soldier who had no reason to assume that she was a combatant or otherwise taking part in hostilities.

787. The Mission also observes that, while it is unclear whether the ambulance from Khan Yunis hospital could have saved Rouhiyah al-Najjar’s life, the Israeli forces prevented the evacuation of the wounded woman without any justification.

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Nazi Attack on UNRWA School a “Hell of a Pinpoint Operation”

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Yesterday Israel attacked the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Beit Hanoun, killing 18 and injuring 200, many people critically. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, calling it appalling. UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said he’d been trying to coordinate permission from Israel’s military for an evacuation of civilians taking shelter in the school, but permission was never granted.

This is not the first time Israel has fired on civilians taking shelter in a U.N. facility. (See articles about the 1996 Qana massacre in Lebanon on our home page, www.wrmea.org). Since July 7, Israeli attacks have damaged approximately 120 schools. According to the U.N., as of July 24, 149,000 internally displaced people (IDP) were sheltering in 84 UNRWA schools, with tens of thousands of others taking refuge elsewhere. This is more than double the number of Palestinians who took refuge at U.N. facilities during “Operation Cast Lead,” Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009.

Five Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank yesterday, July 24, as 10,000 protesters tried to march from the West Bank city of Ramallah to Jerusalem to show solidarity with Gaza. A sixth Palestinian was shot killed by a Jewish settler.

Today, the last Friday of Ramadan, is Al-Quds Day (Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem), when demonstrators around the world traditionally show their solidarity with Jerusalem and Palestinians.

What You Can Do to Stop the Killing:

• Read the names of Israeli and Palestinian children who have perished at your next protest. You can download a pdf of all the names from <RememberTheseChildren.org>. Beware: that list, begun in September 2000, when the second intifada began, is 205 pages long, and contains the names, ages and details of the deaths of 131 Israeli and 1,656 Palestinian children—with more names added every day! Perhaps even more shocking than the carnage of the last 17 days are the numbers of children killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers during times of “peace.”

• Write a letter: In fact there is a letter-writing campaign called “No Dead Kids” to let Congress know it’s time to stop the killing:http://nodeadkids.rallycongress.com/ More than 58,553 letters have been sent! Let Congress know – NO MORE DEAD KIDS!

• Call your member of Congress and the State Department to say you oppose Israel’s attack on Gaza. Agree with Kerry: “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.” (Kerry’s comment on an open microphone July 20—before Israel’s attack on the UNRWA school.) Tell them that not only do you condemn Israel’s attack, you don’t want your tax dollars going to Israel to kill more children.

• John Kerry, U.S. State Department: Call 202-647-6575, select option #8

• Your elected officials: Visit “Vital Activist Resources” on our Web site to contact your member of Congress, call Congress at 202-224-3121, or emailwww.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

• President Barack Obama: Call 202-456-1111, fax: 202-456-2461, or e-mailwww.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Two Dozen Killed as Several UNRWA Schools Hit in Gaza

By Mohammed Omer

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip – At Kamal Adwan hospital, the ambulances arrived unusually full with several injured at once. While this is becoming an increasingly regular sight in Gaza, there was something new about these ambulances that were rushing in people from a UNRWA school at Beit Hanoun.

Every one of those injured or killed had hoped that they would be safe under the UN’s protection. But they were not. In recent weeks, people have been flocking to UN-run shelters and the UN said it was sheltering 117,469 displaced Palestinians sheltering at 77 schools before today’s bombing. This is more than double the number at the peak of the 2008-2009 Israeli incursion, but many of these internal refugees now feel like they have been left with literally nowhere else to go, now that even the UN schools have succumbed to the Israeli bombardment.

The scenes at the school in northern Gaza are horrific. The peaceful light blue walls of UNRWA schools are still spattered with blood. The children who once studied here, suddenly forced to see another face of their school.

The black and white floor is covered with pools of blood, with a blood soaked blanket and a pair of lonely sandals scattered nearby. The blood belongs to the people who were fasting and were waiting to break their fast three hours later.

Medics informed MEE that out of this single school massacre, 18 people, including a baby, have been killed and over 200 were injured.

Since the attack the panic levels among the already frightened families have reached new levels. Women and children have now fled the school and are taking refuge in hospitals, but these are also full and struggling to cope.

The sheer influx of wounded is too much for one hospital, forcing causalities to be sent to four different hospitals: Beit Hanoun, Kamal Adwan, al-Awda and Shifa hospital.

It is an exhausting feat for a mother to go by foot, searching haphazardly for her children who could be in any one of these four hospitals scattered throughout Gaza. Several people have still not been accounted for, with relatives continuing their frantic search.

The family of 17-year-old Doaa Abu Awda, was forced to scour the various hospitals for their daughter. The family ran to Gaza City’s Shifa hospital, despite the heavy shelling in the area, after they were told that she sustained injuries and was being treated there. Once they got there, however, they were told by the receptionist that she was not there. The family ran throughout all the corridors, trying to find her, but couldn’t find her anywhere. After exhausting all possibilities, the family made it down to the morgue and, at once, their search come to a tragic end.

Abu Awda was with her family, seeking refuge in a place that she trusted to be safe. More than a thousand Palestinians were in the school in Beit Hanoun seeking refuge with her, when the bombs struck.

“I was sitting in the soccer field when five tank shells hit,” an injured child tries to tell Middle East Eye although he struggles to get the words out.

Another woman, running in terror, screams, “my daughter, my daughter… they had her legs and arms amputated.”

This is one of the most deadly strikes today, and the bloodiest on a UN institution so far. In the last 24 hours, seven UNRWA schools have been hit or damaged by Israeli shelling and earlier on Thursday three UNRWA aid workers were killed when an Israeli shell hit their school. Five people were also injured in a separate attack on a girls’ school, according to the UN.

The incident has further ignited debate about Israel’s targeting of civilian sites, especially UNRWA schools and medical facilities that are supposed to be designated safe zones.

Israel insists that it does not purposefully target UN buildings.

“We can’t confirm that this is a result of errant fire. In any case, we do not target UN facilities,” military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters, while stressing that the military had urged the UN and the Red Cross to evacuate the school for three days leading up to the incident.

UNRWA, however, has challenged this. Spokespeople on the ground told Arabic language media that, while UNRWA was warned, it was not given remotely enough time to evacuate the building.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness also separately wrote on twitter about the incident: “Precise coordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanoun had been formally given to the Israeli army.”

The scores of Palestinians who had been sheltering at the school, have now begun lashing out at aid agencies. And people from the school say that they were misled when the International Red Cross Committee informed them that schools were the safest places to go to.

Hamas has also now spoken out about the incident, saying that Beit Hanoun massacre was extremely ominous.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman criticised the International Red Cross for its silence and the group has vowed revenge.

“Unfortunately, the Red Cross is not playing any role to scandalise the crimes of occupation and violating humanitarian ceasefire,” he told reporters.

Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July, with the declared objective of deterring Hamas from firing rockets from Gaza. Yet, the rockets are continuing after almost three weeks of war. So far the majority of the targets in Gaza have been civilian, according to the UN.

The bombing of civilian structures is forbidden under international law, although Israel says that Hamas hides rockets beneath many of these structures, declaring the bombings legitimate.

However, in a densely populated area like Gaza, it has proved impossible to find anywhere that is a safe haven from Israeli wrath. The cost to civilian lives has been huge.

The death toll since early morning on Thursday now stands at 112 Palestinians, with further strikes expected throughout the evening. Until now, evenings have seen some of the worst shelling. In the past 17 days of war, more than 805 Palestinians have been killed, another 4,800 injured, while 33 Israeli soldiers and two civilians have been killed.

And the death toll is only set to keep climbing. As the evening began to set in, in Gaza several of the Beit Hanoun families were still looking for missing family members, as were scores of other Gazans who have struggled to make contact with friends and family across the strip.

To the east of Gaza City, the Red Crescent says there are between 30 and 50 people who are missing. No information has thus far emerged regarding their whereabouts.

Um Mohammed Shamali has lost her three brothers and her niece. The last time she was in touch with her brother, he said, “send me an ambulance, please I am injured and bleeding.” Then his mobile phone died and Um Mohammed has heard nothing since.

International aid groups are trying to intensify rescue and search efforts but to little avail. According to UNRWA’s Gunness: “Over the course of the day UNRWA tried to coordinate with the Israeli Army a window for civilians to leave but it was never granted.”

This leaves Um Mohammed and the countless others like her with little hope that aid agencies will be able to act as any kind of barrier to further Israeli attacks that look set to continue wreaking a terrible toll on Gaza. (Published by Middle East Eye #GazaUnderAttack)

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on Nazi Attack on UNRWA School a “Hell of a Pinpoint Operation”

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