Archive | July 27th, 2014

The dark reality of Britain’s privatised immigration system


My weekly Guardian column:

Yarl’s Wood is a Serco run immigration removal centre in Milton Ernest, built in an industrial park more than an hour from central London. Allegations have been made against Serco staff, including of sexual assaults by guards against detainees, yet the British government continues to use the facility.

During a visit inside the centre, I briefly experienced the prison-like conditions suffered by immigrants on a daily basis. After submitting myself to a biometric reading of my index finger – a Serco brochure in reception helpfully informed me that the information could be kept indefinitely because the Data Protection Act is so vaguely worded – I met a young couple from Sri Lanka who were confused and anxious.

The woman was pregnant, and told me Serco staff often didn’t believe her when she said she needed to visit a local hospital for care. She was depressed and worried about her baby. She regularly missed meals and begged me to help them get out. Thankfully, they were released shortly after my visit, to an undisclosed location.

Emma Mlotshwa is the head of Medical Justice, an NGO that provides doctors to immigrants in detention. They offer independent assessments of asylum seekers condition while campaigning for the end of prolonged incarceration. She told me that the system was making people sick.

“The lowest price wins the contract”, she said. “They cut corners, which results in less care, lower paid staff, lower qualified staff – and at Yarl’s Wood, this deliberately aims to fudge responsibility between Serco and the Home Office. Serco often tries to stop us visiting, saying detainees can’t be found or we have the wrong paperwork.”

One thing is clear: keeping the Sri Lankan couple locked up for months was about punishment; they weren’t a security risk, nor flush with funds and able to disappear into the community. This brutal treatment is supposedly a deterrent for future migrant arrivals landing in a country where politics is increasingly defined by leaders who talk tough against the most vulnerable.

The desperation of immigrants behind bars was repeated during my visits to the Geo Group-run Harmondsworth and Serco-managedColnbrook sites, both near Heathrow airport. The centres will be taken over later this year by Mitie, a less well-known British provider than G4S and Serco.

In October 2013, a large fire broke out in Mitie’s Campsfield detention centre. Subsequent investigations found no sprinklers had been installed. Mitie’s CEO, Ruby McGregor Smith, told me that when her firm took over the facility from the Home Office, she wasn’t asked to install a sprinkler system.

She was confident that she had a “good team” to manage what would soon be, according to the corporation’s February press release, the “largest single private sector provider of immigration detention services to the Home Office, less than three years after entering the market”.

I asked McGregor Smith why she thought her company could run these centres any differently than other contractors. She talked of a more “humane” policy towards asylum seekers – she damned G4S and Serco for their failings in Australia, and argued that both firms were clearly incapable of managing remote facilities, but didn’t admit this to the government in Canberra.

She also slammed competitors for having a “prison culture”. “There’s a danger”, she said, “that if you bring in companies who have run some of the toughest prisons in the world to run detention centres, you won’t get anything different. That’s all they know.”

Nick Hardwick, Britain’s chief inspector of prisons, told me that contractors like Serco, G4S or Mitie aren’t entirely to blame for problems in detention centres. “What causes people’s despair in immigration removal centres, the bulk of them, why they are such unhappy and sad places, is because of people’s distress in how their immigration case is being handled. It’s not generally about the centre itself.”

When detainees are released, they still often face indefinite insecurity. In Sheffield, I visited G4S housing in one of the poorest areas of the city. On a windy summer day, with Roma children playing in the streets, I saw squalid houses, with up to nine men packed into small rooms. I heard stories about the Home Office taking years to reach a decision on immigration claims, which precludes many migrants from building a decent life, given their lack of work rights.

G4S in Sheffield is opposed by local campaigners, such as the South Yorkshire migration and asylum action group. The privatisation of asylum seeker housing has led to allegations of corruption, incompetence and wilful blindness. A senior Serco source in Australia told me last year that his company wanted to run all Australia’s asylum housing, concerned that the immigration centres would empty and their bottom line suffer.

The political class in Britain rarely highlights the personal cost of outsourcing the most basic social services. The complete privatisation of welfare services is a real possibility, despite G4S and others failing to assist the unemployed after being paid by the state to do so. Across the UK, Europe and the world, the same few companies are competing for an ever-widening range of contracts.

What I saw and heard across Britain confirms the startling facts: poverty is soaring and the government and corporate media response is to pass these people into the warm embrace of multinational bureaucracy.

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Backs to the wall, Palestinian leadership comes out fighting



The Palestinian Authority is fed up with the international community’s empty promises to implement its national aspirations, and realized that the Palestinians have no one to rely on but themselves.

By Jack Khoury

A veteran member of the Fatah movement reminisced this week about a fateful meeting held by the organization’s leadership in Beirut at the start of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Fatah chairman Yasser Arafat had to choose between caving in and leaving, or fighting the “strongest army in the Middle East.” A stormy debate took place between those who wished to stop fighting and conserve their arms for future campaigns, and those who wanted to continue the armed struggle to the end.

Arafat, as was his wont, refused to be hurried. After hours of discussions, he withdrew to his room and prayed. He then opened the Koran and a phrase calling for waging war against infidels jumped out at him. “We’re fighting,” he said, upon returning to the meeting.

Thirty-two years have passed since then and the Palestine Liberation Organization – which ended up leaving Beirut for Tunis – is now permanently located in Ramallah. The Palestinian state that was only a distant dream then has become a realistic goal, at least as far as most countries are concerned. The leadership, which in those days was constantly hounded and hiding from shelling, is now living in spacious villas in Ramallah, travelling in lavish official vehicles.

The pictures of piles of bodies lying among the rubble in the streets of Shujaiyeh shocked many people around the world last week. However, Fatah veterans were reminded of Beirut in the 1980s, and of those critical discussions in the Lebanese capital.

The leadership today is different, but it, too, stands at a critical juncture, needing to reach a decision. Senior members wonder where the Palestinian people are headed, and who can be relied on.

A cease-fire is not yet on the horizon and the Gaza Strip has become an ugly battlefield – not only between armed Palestinian factions and the Israel Defense Forces, but also between states fighting over interests that do not necessarily coincide with those of the Palestinians.

A speech delivered by President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, and a subsequent statement issued by the Palestinian leadership, led to one conclusion: The Palestinian Authority is fed up with the international community’s empty promises to implement Palestinian national aspirations. Furthermore, the Palestinian people have no one to rely on but themselves.

The current Palestinian leadership has concluded that it must now choose between a continued reliance on world leaders who excel in declarations but not in deeds, or its local base, the “street,” which often serves as a guide on the way to achieving a state.

It seems the die has been cast, with the choice falling on the “street.” Whereas earlier the Palestinian leadership tended to adopt the Egyptian initiative that called for an immediate cease-fire to be followed by negotiations over the terms for maintaining a truce, Ramallah has now accepted the position of the factions in Gaza, headed by Hamas, according to which there will be no cease-fire until the terms of the truce are determined.

Veteran Fatah member Saeb Erekat was emphatic Wednesday when he said it would not be possible to separate quiet on the security front from a calm economic front, implying a lifting of the siege and an opening of the border crossings. Erekat said this was a demand not only of Hamas but the entire Palestinian people, and that the international community must safeguard the implementation of such an outcome.

Abbas, who up to last month talked of the hallowed security coordination with Israel, sounded very forceful when he declared that no one in the world would enjoy peace unless Palestinian children did so as well.

These words may not have been well received in Israel, but their message is clear. As in Beirut long ago, the Palestinians are now standing with their backs to the wall, without many options. The world must decide whether it wants to leave behind its complacency and indifference, and lead a process that will end this conflict once and for all.

The other option is that the pragmatic Palestinian leadership will abandon the diplomatic process and leave the Israeli government, along with the international community, mired in besieged Gaza. In addition, Israel will have to figure out how to manage the lives of three and a half million people in the West Bank and Gaza.

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West Bank Palestinians die in fresh clashes


Four killed near Hebron and Nablus on Friday as worst spate of West Bank protests in years continues for second day.

Israeli policemen arrest a Palestinian during clashes following Friday

prayers in East Jerusalem [AFP]

Four Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, a day after mass protests over Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip which has killed more than 800 people.

In the first shooting on Friday in Hawara, near Nablus, an Israeli settler shot dead an 18-year-old and injured three other Palestinians, sources told Al Jazeera. Two hours later at the same protest Israeli soldiers open fire, killing a 22-year-old.

Two other Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli solders during a protest in Beit Ummar, near Hebron. One of those killed reportely worked for the Defence for Children International charity.

An Israeli army spokeswoman had no comment on the incident in Beit Ummar, but said there had been “confrontations” between Israeli troops and Palestinians near Nablus “in which settlers were involved”.

Israeli army radio reported that a woman settler opened fire in in the incident near Nablus.

Protests were also reported in East Jerusalem after Friday prayer.

“We are with the resistance [in Gaza], and this is our way of resisting,” said Samir Natsheh, one of the worshippers praying on the street near Al-Aqsa mosque.

“The same Israeli government that is carrying out this aggression in Gaza is taking away our right to pray.”

There were brief scuffles in Wadi al-Joz, an area north of the Old City.

The protests on Friday came a day after two Palestinians were killed in mass protests in the occupied West Bank. The funeral for one, Mohammad al-Araj, 17, was held in Qalandia refugee camp.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation on Friday called for Palestinians to take to the streets to express their rage at the invasion of Gaza, calling it a “genocide”, and to offer a funeral prayer to those who had been killed on Thursday.

Palestinian activists and Israel media said the Thursday protests appeared to be the largest since the end of a 2000-2005 Palestinian uprising.

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On stupidity and war


Israel is a fast learner, but did it learn the most valuable lesson of all?

Marwan Bishara

Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.

So far 29 Israeli soldiers have died in the offensive on Gaza [EPA]

The war hasn’t ended and already the criticism over Israel’s military adventure in Gaza is mounting as the Islamist movement, Hamas, continues to surprise the “invaders”.

Leading and, presumably, respected media commentators have blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his hastiness, Israel’s Security Service – the Shabak – for its ignorance and the military for its poor performance.

Israel might claim technological superiority and tactical victory, but, as one expert concluded, strategically, it’s been defeated.

Needless to say, there are many ways by which one takes stock of the ongoing war. But after three military adventures in six years, Hamas remains a formidable force in Palestine. And Israel has little to show for its military prowess and technological edge aside from the terrible devastation wrought across the Gaza Strip – home to 1.8 million Palestinians living impoverished lives in the world’s longest-standing refugee camp.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has boasted of Israel’s moral standing and condemned Hamas for targeting civilians. But in the last few days, it’s the Israeli military that has suffered hundreds of casualties, including 29 soldiers killed, thus far. While on the Palestinian side, Israel’s bombings led to thousands of civilian casualties. It takes chutzpah to take pride in such a dreadful record.

At any rate, if it doesn’t cool down its aggression on the population of Gaza, Israel might increasingly face another uprising in the West Bank as the Palestinians open another front against their occupiers. And if the early indicators are anything to go by, it shows signs of turning violent and bloody.

Israel, a fast learner

It’s smart to learn from one’s own mistakes; wise to learn from others’ mistakes. What lessons has Netanyahu learnt, if any?

There is no doubt that Israel is a quick learner. It learned much from its own operational and even strategic mistakes in past wars, and no less, from the war experiences of other nations.

The last century witnessed countless wars, including civil wars, proxy wars, wars driven by nationalism, racism and greed, and two destructive world wars.

Israel has had its share of these wars – 14 in six decades – and the Middle East region that makes up some five percent of the world population, accounts for 20 percent of its conflicts; a percentage that probably skyrocketed in recent years.

Their motivations varied, but self-defence has generally been the excuse for aggression. Underlining its lack of strategic depth, Israel has long boasted of its pre-emptive doctrine to hit first when needing to defend itself.

Israel has also relied on the United States for lessons of war. And in recent times, it taught its patron a few lessons it’s learned itself in Lebanon and Palestine, for fighting in Iraq – a reason why the Israelis were stunned this week to hear former Secretary of State Madeline Albright speak of Israel’s “disproportionate” military response in Gaza, when she justified the US blockade on Iraq even when it led to the death of half a million children.

Israel is hardly the first to invoke self-defence to justify aggression – Lebanon being the best example – or protecting civilians to kill civilians. It has learnt the art of victimhood like no other. Its ultimate chutzpah goes along the lines of: “We won’t forgive you for forcing us to kill you.”

So yes, Israel has learned many lessons, and has institutionalised these lessons and is making money out of these lessons through training other nations’ military and security forces. Indeed, Israel arms sales have rocketed to $7.5bn in 2012, arms that are war-tested, as Israel so frequently vaunts.

But the more important question is: Has Israel learnt the most important lesson of all about its type of colonial asymmetrical wars?

The predictable war

Unlike conventional wars, the longest and most legitimate wars of all have been the people’s fight for independence from colonialism.

Israel is in the midst of such a fight against a people’s struggle for freedom and independence and it makes similar, if not identical claims, to those made by other colonial powers of the past.

But not one foreign power big or small was able to win a single asymmetrical war against a people resisting colonialism throughout the entire 20th century.

This definite and paradoxical conclusion – the most instructive, and yet ignored of all lessons of war is categorical: Not one great power possessing superior firepower has won against a weaker, less organised and less professional resistance against occupation.

Not the French, not the English, not the Belgians, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Italians, the Soviets, the Chinese, the Afrikaners, etc. Not one!  In the end, they all lose. And if they don’t, then it’s not the end.

INTERACTIVE: Gaza Under Attack

In each and every case, the indigenous population was designated terrorist, or fanatic, extremist, destructive, insensitive, or all of the above when they stood up to their occupier. Similar if not identical to the stuff we hear from Israelis nowadays.

Yet, despite all their military domination, political mechanisation, and superior moral pretentions, they eventually lose the battle of wills and are compelled to leave – defeated or humiliated.

While there are exceptions, such as in the case of India, the cost is generally high in death and destruction especially for those at the receiving end of aggression. But don’t depend on those who can keep a record to do so for their victims.

During the Algerian war for independence that lasted a decade, almost 30,000 Frenchmen, and we are told half a million to a million Algerians, were killed – give or take a couple of hundred thousand deaths.

Like today’s Israel, those colonial powers also justified their wars as last resort, and explained the high casualties as “War sucks”, “We’ve got to do whatever we need to protect ourselves”, or “The terrorists are hiding among the population”, and “using them as human shields” etc.

And so the fog of war and propaganda continues to blur the lines between right and wrong, occupied from occupier, defence and aggression. But when the dust settles, Israel will find itself where it was before its latest and past adventures, but with weaker deterrence, less credibility and hardened enemies.

Yes, it could continue to justify its military adventures under the pretext of combating terrorists, destroying rocket-launchers and tunnels. But whatever its justifications, these are the by-products of its own colonialism and war.

In the final analysis, if Israel doesn’t start packing and leaving the occupied territories sooner, many Israelis will start leaving it later because conditions are bound to get much worse.

Late is better than never learning the primary lesson from this conflict: It’s the occupation, stupid.

Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.

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

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I$raHell: This is what national resistance looks like


Rachel Shabi

Israel’s conflation of Hamas, the Islamic State and Boko Haram aims to denigrate Palestinian nationalism.

Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.

Hamas rejects a ceasefire with Israel unless the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted [AFP]

If you’re going to pursue an outlandish narrative, you might as well go all the way with it. This must be the operational assumption among Israeli leaders who, in trying to justify a grotesque attack on Gaza that has resulted in, at latest count, more than 800 Palestinian deaths – the majority of those innocent civilians – are now asserting that Hamas is like the Islamic State group (formerly known as ISIS) and al-Qaeda.

Speaking at a joint press conference with UN chief Ban Ki-moon on July 22, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas represents another type of “Islamist extremism, violent extremism that has no resolvable grievance” adding: “Hamas is like ISIS, Hamas is like al-Qaeda, Hamas is like Hezbollah, Hamas is like Boko Haram.”

Later the same day, Israel’s ambassador, David Yitshak Roet, reiterated the point at the UN Security Council’s open meeting, as he talked of a global struggle between nations like Israel and the “radical Islamic terrorism” of groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah – and Hamas.

Such statements, seemingly intended for international consumption, are not the first instances of Israeli officials hitching a ride on the war on terror bandwagon. In the years after 9/11, Israeli leaders tried to tether Palestinians living under Israeli occupation to a global terror network. This dovetailed with the Israeli line of being an enlightened nation stranded in an uncivilised neighbourhood, best surmised by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s appraisal of Israel as a “villa in the jungle”.

Still, these new assertions factoring in freshly minted regional groups represent an added twist.

Gaza’s nightmarish reality

Apart from anything else, comparing Hamas to the group that insists on calling itself Islamic State seems a bit insulting to the Syrians and Iraqis suffering the spread of this violent cross-border group that claims to have set up a caliphate.

Unlike Hamas, Islamic State wasn’t democratically elected. And, unlike Hamas, it isn’t viewed as an indigenous resistance group so much as an imposed source of deadly terror. Trying to equate Hamas with Islamic State is like trying to climb into another nation’s nightmarish reality. And, unlike land, fear can’t really be appropriated.

Meanwhile, as Alon Liel, former director of Israel’s foreign affairs ministry, points out, this binding together of causes isn’t a particularly helpful line for Israel to take. “It is a mistake for us to describe the situation as if we are fighting in Gaza the international movement of Islamic radicalism,” he said, during a phone conversation. “We turn it into a religious war or a cultural war – and we carry on our shoulders something far beyond Israel’s responsibility, or ability.”

But, as Liel suggests, there is an obvious reason why Israel’s current government would pursue this contortion: “Netanyahu prefers not to describe the Hamas militants as Palestinian nationalists,” he says. “He prefers to describe them as not belonging to this region, as not tied to the land in Gaza but tied to a world movement of radical and fundamentalist Islam.”

So there’s the obvious source of all those awkward semantic twists: the inability to countenance the idea of Palestinian nationalism. You might not like Hamas; you may have criticisms – indeed, Palestinians living in Gaza have plenty, ranging from the group’s imposition of religious edicts to corruption and failure to tackle crime in the strip. But in the midst of a horrifyingly destructive Israeli assault on Gaza, Palestinians back Hamas – even if they didn’t before the assault – because that’s what support for a national resistance movement looks like.

Netanyahu, who surreally accused Hamas of “piling up” civilian dead, as though Palestinians somehow choose to be killed by brutally disproportionate Israeli force, knows about resistance. He must know that newly conscripted Israeli soldiers are often bussed to Masada, the desert mountain fortress where ancient Jews carried out mass suicide to avoid subjugation by the Romans, to pledge that the fortress must never fall again.

He knows, just as Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf outlined recently, that the impulse to resist is hardly unique to Palestinians. “Nations will make inconceivable sacrifices in these kinds of struggles,” wrote Sheizaf, adding that the Jewish population fighting the 1948 war that dispossessed Palestinians and created Israel saw loss of life as an inevitable part of the struggle.

Gabe Mate, a Holocaust survivor now living in Canada, pointed out that, in different circumstances and in the face of its own annihilation, the Jewish resistance of the Warsaw ghetto used tunnels, like Hamas, to coordinate attacks against their assailants.

‘Return to a living death’

Even a former Israeli security chief, Yuval Diskin, urged the nation to understand “the growing tension and enormous frustration of the Palestinians in the West Bank who feel that their land is being stolen from them, who gather that the state they yearn for is slipping away from them”.

Those words were written before Israel launched its military assault on Gaza, the third in six years; before entire families were killed and thousands injured and more than 100,000 displaced. But they speak to the logical consequences of inflicting suffering: People fight against it, if they can.

INTERACTIVE: Gaza Under Attack

How bad must blockaded Gaza be, if Palestinians support Hamas’ insistence on lifting of the siege as a condition of ceasefire – even if that insistence may prolong Israel’s deadly pummelling of the tiny, sealed strip? Days ago, a long list of Palestinian doctors, academics and public figures issued a letter explaining that a ceasefire without conditions, a return to the status quo of the seven-year blockade on the free movement of people and materials would be a “return to a living death”.

Palestinians beyond the strip clearly back this, too – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stands with Hamas in its demand for an end to the siege, along with other ceasefire conditions. And, since such a blockade amounts to collective punishment, international and human rights groups have been calling for the same thing, for some time.

Words matter more in starkly asymmetric wars. While we’re defining terms, let’s not get thrown by curious assertions coming from Netanyahu and other Israeli officials; wanting to lift a suffocating siege is definitely not the same thing as wanting to create an ISIS-inspired regional caliphate. And when Palestinians demand an end to a 47-year-long occupation – a demand seconded by the international community for just as long – this cannot sensibly be defined as an “unresolvable grievance”.

Rachel Shabi is a journalist and author of Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.

Follow her on Twitter: @rachshabi

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

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Kerry: Naziyahu agreed to 12-hour pause in fighting


Palestinian medics carry the body of a woman found under the rubble of her home after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, July 27, 2014.

Intensive efforts underway to bring about cease-fire ● IDF confirms death of Sgt. previously declared missing ● Palestinian officials file complaint against Israel to International Criminal Court ● Six Palestinians killed in West Bank.

By Haaretz

July 25, 2014

Israel’s Operation Protective Edge entered its 18th day on Friday, marking the 8th day of the IDF’s ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.

Two Palestinians were killed near the Qalandiyah checkpoint in the West Bank and over 200 were wounded, many of them by live IDF fire, when some 10,000 protesters marched from Ramallah toward Jerusalem late on Thursday night. Israeli authorities say live fire was fired at IDF troops from with the crowd. Four Palestinians have been killed during Friday demonstrations.

In Gaza, the Palestinian death toll in Gaza since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge surpassed the 800 mark, most of them since Israel entered Gaza a week ago.

Sgt. Oron Shaul, previously declared missing, was officially declared “killed in action” by the IDF. Israel military fatalities stand at 35 since the operation commenced. 134 soldiers are currently hospitalized due to wounds incurred in the fighting, and one soldier is missing.

Israel asserted Thursday that the hospital it struck the day before was empty of patients and being used for missile attacks, while Palestinians asserted that 15 people were killed when a UNRWA school was hit by artillery fire on Thursday.

For Thursday’s live updates, click here

11:45 P.M. Two rockets explode in open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council.

11:29 P.M. The U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a notice saying that official U.S. personnel and their families are restricted from traveling to Bethlehem after 9:30 p.m. and from staying there overnight until further notice. The notice went on to caution that Americans should stay clear of Jerusalem’s Old City overnight and all day Fridays.

10:48 P.M. More than 80 rockerts were launched at Israel over the past 24 hours, according to the IDF Spokesperson. 61 of the rockets hit Israel and 16 were intercepted.

Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, approximately 2,430 rockets have been launched at Israel, and at least 1,500 targets “associated with rocket-launching capabilities” have been targeted. (Gili Cohen)

10:44 P.M. France will host an international meeting on Saturday in order to reach a cease-fire agreement “as quickly as possible,” according to a French diplomatic source.

Representatives from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, Turkey and Qatar will reportedly attend talks in Paris aimed at converging “all efforts” for reaching a cease-fire. (Reuters)

10:40 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon are still discussing Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry’s request for a 12-hour pause in Gaza fighting, according to an Israeli official. (Barak Ravid)

10:35 P.M. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon tells soldiers to “be prepared for the possibility that IDF will be ordered to expand Gaza ground operation very soon.” (Barak Ravid)

10:28 P.M. Hamas gunmen attempt to kidnap IDF soldier by dragging him into a tunnel. An IDF tank fired shells at the site of the attempted abduction, enabling the soldier to break free. (Gili Cohen)

10:01 P.M. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a “down payment” of a 12-hour pause in Gaza.

Kerry said all parties are “working towards a brief, seven-day humanitarian cease-fire to try to create a more durable, sustainable cease-fire,” but the parties “still have some terminology in the context of the framework to work through.”

Kerry added that the Israeli cabinet “may have rejected some language on a potential truce,” yet Israel never formally rejected the proposal since it was never officially offered. (Barak Ravid)

9:45 P.M. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry: More efforts needed to get all parties to agree to a cease-fire proposal. (Barak Ravid)

9:40 P.M. Eid Fidila’at, 32, was killed at the Al-Arroub refugee camp in the West Bank, north of Hebron.

The IDF reported that Fidila’at attempted to grab a soldier’s gun, who opened fire in response.

Fidila’at’s death brings the West Bank death toll over the past 24 hours to seven. (Gili Cohen and Jack Khoury)

8:51 P.M. Air France says it will resume flights to Tel Aviv later Friday, the latest major airline to lift a ban on flights to Israel imposed earlier in the week over security concerns. (Reuters)

8:39 P.M. IDF Spokesman says soldier killed in Gaza Friday is Staff Sgt. Guy Levy, 21, from Kfar Vradim. Levy was killed by mortar fire from a structure near an UNRWA school in the central Gaza Strip, according to the IDF Spokesperson.

8:37 P.M. Rocket barrage targets south and central Israel.

8:34 P.M. Israeli cabinet rejects John Kerry’s cease-fire proposal, according to a senior Israeli official. Discussions continue on how to improve the proposal in Israel’s favor. (Barak Ravid)

8:24 P.M. IDF artillery shell hits hospital in Beit Hanoun, according to eyewitness Palestinian reports. Hospital personnel, civilians and volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement are trapped inside. Earlier Friday, an IDF shell hit a private ambulance on its way to pick up wounded. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, one medic was killed and another was seriously wounded.

Overnight, the IDF struck al-Dora Hospital in Gaza. a one-year-old baby hospitalized in the intensive care unit was killed and 30 other patients were wounded. At least 52 Palestinian civilians were killed by IDF fire in the Gaza Strip between Thursday night and Friday evening. (Amira Hass)

8:01 P.M. Head of IDF Southern Command Sami Turgeman said the IDF will take advantage of all the time it has to deal with the Gaza tunnels, commenting on a potential cease-fire.

Torjamin told reporters that the IDF has so far targeted “hundreds of terrorists” and taken dozens captive.

7:45 P.M. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah pledged full support on Friday to Hamas in its conflict with Israel despite a deep rift between the two militant organizations over the civil war in Syria.

“We in Hezbollah will be unstinting in all forms of support, assistance and aid that we are able to provide,” Nasrallah said.

“We feel we are true partners with this resistance, a partnership of jihad, brotherhood, hope, pain, sacrifice and fate, because their victory is all our victory, and their defeat is all our defeat,” he said.

Nasrallah delivered his speech in public in Hezbollah’s stronghold of south Beirut, a rare event for the militant Shi’ite Lebanese leader who has lived in hiding, fearing for his security, after Hezbollah’s 2006 war with Israel. (Reuters)

7:19 P.M. Iron Dome intercepts rocket over Ashkelon, two rockets explode in open areas. Three rockets previously intercepted over Ashdod. (Shirly Seidler)

7:08 P.M.: IDF Spokesman says a soldier was killed Friday afternoon in the Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll of IDF soldiers to 35. (Gili Cohen)

7:01 P.M. Germany’s Lufthansa said it would resume flights to Ben-Gurion International Airport on Saturday July 26, lifting a ban imposed in response to fears that rockets being fired from Gaza could pose a threat to aircraft.

“On the basis of the most up-to-date information we have available and our own assessment of the local security situation, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group will resume their flights from and to Ben-Gurion International Airport,” the airline said on Friday.

Lufthansa Group also operates Germanwings, Austrian Airlines and Swiss. (Reuters)

6:36 P.M. Two rockets intercepted over an open area near Sderot. (Shirly Seidler)

6:17 P.M. Top Palestinian officials have filed a complaint to the International Criminal Court, accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza.

Palestinian Justice Minister Saleem Al-Saqqa and Ismail Jabr, the Gaza court public prosecutor, started legal proceedings Friday via a Paris-based lawyer over the 18 days of fighting between Hamas and Israel.

To process the complaint, the Hague-based court must first rule if it has jurisdiction in the Palestinian Authority. (AP)

6:01 P.M. An Egyptian security official says gunmen killed two senior officers in the northern Sinai Peninsula.

The official says the attackers opened fire on the officers’ vehicle near the city of el-Arish on Friday, sprayed it with bullets and fled the scene. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media. (AP)

5:29 P.M. IDF confirms Sgt. Oron Shaul, who had been previously declared missing, did not survive the attack on his APC in Gaza on Sunday.

A special committee established by IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz concluded that Shaul is defined “a soldier killed in action whose burial site is unknown”.

Shaul’s family has been notified.

5:23 P.M. Six Palestinians have been killed over the last 24 hours in the West Bank.

Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashed in Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. Israeli reserve soldiers shot and killed Sultan al-Zakik, 30, and Hashim Hadar, 47, during the clashes, according to Palestinian media.

An Israeli citizen opened fire from a car during clashes in Huwara, south of Nablus, and shot 18-year-old Khaled Odeh to death, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

Only later did a woman fire a gun into the air, as previously reported.

The shooter fled the scene in his car.

Two Palestinians were killed during clashes at the Qalandiyah checkpoint Thursday night. (Chaim Levinson and Jack Khory)

4:59 P.M. Iranians took part in huge rallies across the country on Friday to show solidarity with Palestinians, urging them to keep up their struggle despite the Israeli assault on Gaza, Iranian state television reported.

Footage showed hundreds of thousands of people demonstrating in the capital Tehran. They chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” and carried pictures of Palestinian children killed in Gaza.

State media said “millions” of people joined the rallies nationwide, which were called to mark Iran’s annual day of solidarity with Palestinians. (Reuters)

4:34 P.M. Rocket explodes in an open area in Ashdod. No injuries reported, parked cars were damaged. Police are at the scene. (Shirly Seidler)

4:30 P.M. John Kerry’s joint press conference with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon postponed until 8:30 P.M. (Barak Ravid)

4:25 P.M. A third Palestinian was killed during separate clashes in Beit Ummar near Hebron, according to Palestinian medical sources. (Reuters)

4:21 P.M. Security cabinet convenes to discuss John Kerry’s cease-fire proposal. (Barak Ravid)

4:17 P.M. Second Palestinian died following demonstrations in Huwara, near Nablus.

Tayib Oudeh, 22, succombed to gunshot wounds. (Chaim Levinson and Jack Khoury)

3:57 P.M. One Palestinian was killed and three were wounded Friday afternoon during a demonstration at Huwara, near Nablus.

Khaled Odeh, 18, of Huwara, was shot in the chest. Circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated after a settler tesitified she fired into the air, fearing her life was in danger. She was taken in for questioning.

The incident occured at 2:30 P.M., after a protest against Israel’s operation in Gaza came out of a local mosque.

Soldiers used riot control measures to prevent the closure of a main road, which connects the settlements of Yitzhar, Itamar, Elon Moreh and Har Bracha.

Meanwhile, a resident of a nearby settlement allegedly ran into the scene and fired into the air. (Jack Khoury)

Posted in Palestine Affairs, GazaComments Off on Kerry: Naziyahu agreed to 12-hour pause in fighting

A Plague on One House


by Greg Shupak

July 17, 2014

“Both sides” aren’t to blame in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel is

An early refugee camp. Late 1940s, Palestine.

On July 15, Western media demanded that Hamas and other resistance groups operating in the Gaza Strip accept what they labeled an “Israeli-Egyptian ceasefire proposal.” On the surface, the call sounds reasonable, which is exactly what allows it to disorient audiences largely unfamiliar with the details of the ongoing conflict.

The first objection is the obvious one: How can Hamas agree to a deal that it played no part in negotiating and that was crafted by two of its enemies? The mainstream media would be unlikely to demand that Israel agree to an arrangement jointly put forth by, say, Hamas and Iran — an imperfect analogy, since Hamas and Iran do not colonize and besiege Israelis. But the point stands.

Second, implicit in this criticism of Hamas is the idea that Palestinians are obliged to accept any offer, no matter its terms. Consider, for instance, Mouin Rabbani’s point that what the Gaza Strip’s militant groups and a huge number of Palestinians object to in the proposal is that it just puts back in place the same 2012 ceasefire agreement which Israel has violated freely, and does not ensure that such violations would stop.

What’s more, Rabbani suggests, “Hamas and other Palestinian organizations are averse to returning to an untenable status quo, which lasts only until Israel once again decides to launch a major assault on the Gaza Strip,” and which does not point to “concrete steps towards lifting the ongoing and prolonged blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

The Israeli violations of the 2012 agreement that Rabbani mentions are along-term habit of the country. Hamas has good reason to distrust Israel’s commitment to a ceasefire, but Western media has tended to ignore this point when it discusses the failure of the proposed truce.

Also overlooked is that a ceasefire which does not lead to lifting the siege is no ceasefire at all. For the siege and the naval blockade on which it relies are acts of war. An agreement that only ends one aspect of the violence and not the others is not a ceasefire but a surrender. Israeli tactics for dealing with Hamas are ransom, not negotiation.

In that vein, Netanhayu also reportedly “suggested that the agreement would be used to completely ‘disarm’ the strip, a condition Hamas and other groups would not accept.” Such a proposal cannot be taken seriously unless Israel were to also agree to disarm, which is clearly not on the table.

The Western ruling class and Israel would react with laughter rather than rage if Hamas proposed that Israel surrender its weaponry. If Israel was sincerely interested in a ceasefire, it would offer terms that there is a chance of Hamas accepting.

Such accounts also play on racist notions of Arabs as creatures who prefer violence to the alternatives available to them. The trope is clear: the atavistic colonized subjects who will consent to their own people’s destruction rather than have a dialogue with their oppressors. The latter’s alleged preference for dialogue over bloodshed is proof of their civility, and so also justification for their rule.

The myth of Palestinians who refuse generous offers is longstanding within Zionist historiography — exemplified in the longstanding lie of Palestinians “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

This colonial inversion of reality is likewise present in Western reporting on the conflict, which must justify the Israeli assault on Palestine to its audience. For example, earlier in the current massacre we were frequently told that both sides fighting in historic Palestine are suffering and are in the wrong.

This rhetoric of “both sides” implies that pain and fault belong equally to Palestinians and Israelis. It erases manifold, unmistakable, qualitative and quantitative differences at play in Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip and the political-historical context in which this is taking place — most centrally, that what is occurring is part of a settler-colonial invasion.

“Both sides” rhetoric refuses to make even the easiest, most obvious judgment, to which any honest evaluation of the information points: thatIsrael is massacring Palestinian adults and children, 77% of whom are civilians, and subjecting them to collective punishment; that Israel evidently claims for itself a right to extra-judicially execute anyone who it says is a Hamas member, a practice too few among even Palestine’s allies have denounced; that Israel is bombarding what is essentially a giant refugee camp home to an imprisoned population of a people Israel has ethnically cleansedoccupied, subjected to apartheid, and repeatedly slaughtered; that international law does not grant Israel a “right to defend itself” against the Gaza Strip. And that international law does grant Palestinians a right to resistusing armed struggle.

To employ “both sides” rhetoric completely misrepresents the situation. It is not “both sides” who take thousands of political prisoners. Both sides do not systematically torture each other. Both sides do not control each other’s freedom of movement, or access to the sea, drinking water, and education.

Since Israel began its bombing campaign on July 7, only one side hasbombed a hospital for the disabled and destroyed a place of worship. It was that same side who on July 9 killed a pregnant woman and her one-year-old daughter and then on July 11 killed two civilian municipal workers in a refugee camp, killed nine civilians watching a soccer game, and “fired four missiles targeting the fifth and sixth floors of a hospital.”

Only one side killed four children who were playing on a beach on July 16. At the time of writing, only one side has inflicted on the other the destruction or severe damage of 1,660 homes or the deprival of 900,000 people of water supply. Nor do Israelis and Palestinians bear comparable responsibility for the forty-seven United Nations Relief and Works Agency premises such as schools and clinics that have been damaged since July 7.

What is even more important about the “both sides” notion is what it conceals.

“Both sides” rhetoric means accepting the timeline the aggressor puts forth so as to make its claim to be acting defensively seem plausible. In this view, the current killing supposedly started with the June 11 disappearance and killing of three Israeli settlers rather than the murder by the Israeli military ofunarmed Palestinian teenagers Nadeem Nawara and Mohammad Salameh on May 15.

Nor in this telling was the starting point June 10, when Israel attacked a man alleged to be a militant and the ten-year-old he was with, instantly killing the man and causing the child to die from injuries three days later. That’s to say nothing of the accurate starting points: the 1947-8 Nakba, the 1917 Balfour Declaration, or May 2, 1860, the date of Theodor Herzl’s birth.

In addition to these distinctions, the “both sides” idea is dangerous because it is immobilizing. With its use, it becomes impossible to demand an end to colonial practices. And that is exactly the point.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on A Plague on One House



We, the undersigned, endorse the principles of  “Jews Against Genocide” (below) and support its actions. We urge you to join us in condemning Israel’s incremental genocide of Palestinians and pledge to do everything in our power to stop it.


We, Jews Against Genocide, came to Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial of the genocide committed against Jews, to honor the Palestinian children who are dying in a genocide committed by Jews.

We brought dolls to symbolise the children of Gaza, and tried to bring a glimpse of the horror that Gazans face, to Israel’s doorstep. We hope to show Israel, and the world, the absurd reality of using the memory of one genocide to justify another.

We invite compassionate people from across the globe to join the outcry by staging similar protests in front of Israeli embassies and consulates around the world. Please send pictures of your actions to

Just as we honor the people who were murdered seven decades ago in Europe because they were Jews, we are here to honor the people who are being murdered at this very moment because they are the indigenous people of this land who are not Jews.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines Genocide as, “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; […]“

The children of Gaza, who are being systematically murdered as we write this article, constitute 52% percent of the population under siege in the strip. The vast majority of these children are descendants of refugees from historical Palestine.

In the current round of atrocities committed by the Israel occupation army, so far dozens of children have been murdered in their homes, with Israel’s war-making leadership vowing “much higher costs” on the Palestinian side as the bombing and shelling continues.

The war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza today are the latest stage of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous people of this land.

The Jewish State was founded on the Zionist principle of “maximum Jews on maximum land, and minimum Arabs on minimum land”, which was made reality through sixty-six years of continued assault against Palestinians, denying them the right to live freely and peacefully in their historical homeland.

The Israeli regime has turned the beautiful Gaza strip into a densely populated ghetto, with unsafe water, untreated sewage, and insufficient resources and electricity. This ghetto has become a concentration camp, through repeated Israeli massacres in what the Goldstone Report described as an effort to, “humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish[ing] its local economic capacity.”

We express our support and solidarity for the Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with the three basic demands of:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Never Again for Anyone – End Israel’s Genocide of Palestinians

Jews Against Genocide (JAG)


United Nations, preventing Genocide:

Palestinian civil society call for BDS:

United Nations, human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories:

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on JEWS AGAINST GENOCIDE

I$raHell attack on Gaza is revenge for the Palestinians’ refusal to accept occupation


Israeli soldiers observe bombings of Gaza on July 26, 2014.

Say what you will about Hamas’ rocket fire, at least they managed to scratch the surface of Israel’s faith in the normalcy of its domination of another people.

By Amira Hass

Jul. 23, 2014

There is method in madness, and the Israeli insanity, which refuses to grasp the extent of its revenge in Gaza, has very good reasons for being the way it is. The entire nation is the army, the army is the nation, and both are represented by a Jewish-democratic government and a loyal press, and the four of them work together to stave off the great betrayal: the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the normalcy of the situation.

The Palestinians are disobedient. They refuse to adapt. This is after we thought it was working for us, with VIP treatment for a few of them and an opportunity for swollen bank accounts for some, and with enormous donations from the United States and Europe that nurture the pockets of imaginary Palestinian rule.

The insistent, steadfast demonstrations in West Bank villages have not even scratched the surface of the Israeli faith in the normalcy of our domination of another people. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement did manage to confuse our ego a bit, but it is still not enough to make Israelis want to get the message. The Palestinian reconciliation government seemed to move us another step forward; it had the potential to embark on the path of rejecting the show of normalcy dictated by Israel, but too many forces within Fatah and Hamas did not support it.

Then it was the turn of Hamas’ rockets to disturb the occupier’s rest. Say what you will about it, but they succeeded in doing what the demonstrations, the boycott of Tapuzina orange drink and the concert cancellations did not.

Nation, army, government and press: You have eyes and ears, yet you will not see and you will not hear. You still hope that the Palestinian blood we have already shed and have yet to shed will win a long-term lull, which will bring us back to occupation as usual. You refuse to use your competence to stop in time, before an even bigger disaster takes place — just as you refused the time before, and the time before that.

And boy, are you competent when you want to be. The armed Hamas operatives who emerged from the tunnel shaft on Kibbutz Nir Am on Monday were dressed as Israeli soldiers. Haaretz’s Amos Harel writes that in the first moments, the field commanders were not sure whether they were soldiers or terrorists. “Finally, thanks to an aerial photograph taken by a drone, they were found to be Hamas operatives,” writes Harel. “They were carrying Kalashnikov rifles, which the Israeli army does not use.”

So the photographs taken by the drone can be very precise when its operators wish. It can discern whether there are children on the seashore or on the roof — children who, even for the legal acrobats in the Justice Ministry and the army, are not a justifiable target for our bombs. The drone can also discern that a rescue team has arrived to pull out wounded people, that families are fleeing their homes. All this can be shown in a close-up photograph taken by a drone, at high enough resolution that the operators of the bombs and the shells have no reason to press the “kill” button on their keyboards. But for some reason, the eye of the drone that can tell the difference between various makes of rifles cannot tell that this figure over here is a child, and that is a mother or a grandmother. Instead, all are given a death sentence.

The Israeliness of the moment is like that drone. It chooses to see blearily. It clings closely to the good, comfortable life of a master nation, unwilling to allow its subjects to interfere with it. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon translated that into political language when he said, “We will not agree to recognize the reconciliation government, but other arrangements such as controlling crossing points is something we can accept. [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud] Abbas will control the crossing points, but he will not control the Gaza Strip itself.”

That is the routine we are cultivating. Gaza and the West Bank are cut off. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, but under conditions that we dictate, just as Fatah and the PA “rule” in their pockets in the West Bank, in accordance with our conditions. If the Palestinians need to be tamed at times, we will tame them with blood and with more blood. And peace be upon Israel.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on I$raHell attack on Gaza is revenge for the Palestinians’ refusal to accept occupation

UN chief: Circumstances of Gaza school attack that killed 15 still unclear


Palestinian medics carry the body of a woman found under the rubble of her home after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, July 27, 2014.

FAA lifts ban imposed on U.S.-Israel flights; Palestinian death toll in Gaza at over 770.

[for updates click on the link]

By Haaretz

Israel’s Operation Protective Edge entered its 17th day on Thursday, marking the 7th day of the IDF’s ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian death toll since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge surpassed the 770 mark, most of them since Israel entered Gaza a week ago.

Israel military fatalities stand at 32 since the operation commenced. 134 soldiers are currently hospitalized due to wounds incurred in the fighting, and one soldier is missing. The IDF has not announced the loss of any soldiers since Wednesday.

Israel asserted Thursday that the hospital it struck the day before was empty of patients and being used for missile attacks, while Palestinians asserted that 15 people were killed when a UNRWA school was hit by artillery fire on Thursday.  [A UNRWA official stated on BBC TV that this was the 4th school that Israel had hit this week, and that all are used as refuge for Palestinians who have left their homes. D]

While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Egypt pushing for a cease-fire, and Prime Minister Netanyahu was meeting with the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah to present a list of Hamas and Palestinian Authority truce demands.

9:26 P.M. Hamas political bureau head Khaled Meshal says Hamas is prepared to sign a ceasefire agreement – on the condition that Israel’s siege of Gaza is rescinded.

“We seek full international commitment to the end of the aggression and the siege over Gaza – real commitment,” he told several Arabic-language media outlets. “We are not interested in the mechanism, what we are interested in are true guarantees that the siege be lifted. We have gotten such promises before, and nothing came of them.”

“We want an international airport, we want a seaport, we want an opening to the outside world, and not the situation where we are controlled by a few border crossings that turn Gaza into a huge prison, where no one can leave even for medical treatment or to work […] When we get a clearly worded drafting that guarantees these things, and the international community gives its backing to this draft – than the fire can be stopped, even today.” (Jack Khouri)

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on UN chief: Circumstances of Gaza school attack that killed 15 still unclear

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