Archive | Human Rights

10 Palestinians held by Nazi regime in administrative detention and legislator sentenced to 20 months

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attoun

10 Palestinians were sentenced to administrative detention, a form of imprisonment without charge or trial for up to 6 month renewable periods, on Monday, August 18. There are now over 466, after 288 people have been held under administrative detention since mid-June 2014.

The 10 new administrative detainees, who are held solely on secret evidence are: 1. Diaa Hroub, 6 months; 2. Hashem Humaydin, 6 months; 3. Mohammed Hassanieh, 6 months; 4. Mohammed Harizat, 6 months; 5. Yasser Abu Dahouk, 4 months; 6. Musab al-Nasser, 6 months; 7. Adham Ajlouni, 6 months; 8. Harbi Ajlouni, 6 months; 9. Saadi Al-Atrash, 6 months; 10. Sajid al-Laqta, 4 months.

In addition, Palestinian Legislative Council member Ahmad Attoun was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment; he was charged and sentenced after over two years in administrative detention, where he had been held without charge or trial since February 2012. Attoun, a legislator from Jerusalem, was stripped of his Jerusalem ID after being elected to the PLC. He has spent 15 years in occupation prisons over the years of multiple detentions.

Posted in Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

From Rodney King to Ferguson: Covering US Racism as an Event

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Video footage of the beating of Rodney King by Los Angelese police officers in 1991 sparked widespread public outrage, but did it really lead to a deeper and more complete understanding of how race operates in modern society? (Image: Public domain)

While following events in Ferguson on Twitter, I noticed a small-but-steady stream of tweets from African-Americans irritated by users who were suggesting that, because there was police militarization and the use of excessive (and deadly) force against citizens and journalists, Ferguson was now like Gaza, Iraq or other international trouble-spots. These citizens were not irritated because they found the comparisons to be unfair, they were irritated because they felt these comparisons suggested that the use of excessive force was somehow new or unusual. For these users, the US had not become this way…it has always been this way. To suggest otherwise was to view the events in Ferguson in a social and historical vacuum, divorced from the everyday realities facing African-Americans resulting from generations of structural discrimination.

These were powerful observations.

Our view of the politics of everyday life is often obscured by an excessive media focus on events and individuals rather than on structures and long-term social processes. This is a broad statement, I know, but I think it holds. Events and individuals are media-friendly. They are easily packaged, built up, sexed up and torn down. Events and individuals are also excellent when searching for explanations, excuses, scapegoats or heroes. Life becomes simple this way. Wars are battles between good and Evil. Poverty is the result of individual failure. Crime is a question of individual responsibility. Politics is a battle of individual will. Racism is personal prejudice. Looting is a breakdown of law and order.

Context, history and structure would only muddy these unnaturally clear waters.

Unfortunately, events and individuals are often our only touchstones for understanding much larger, complex, long-term structural issues. And this is a problem. I can no more understand the true functioning of US politics by watching coverage of a Presidential debate (or even an entire election) than I can understand structural racism in the US by watching coverage of the 1991 beating of Rodney King or the 2014 killing of Michael Brownin Ferguson. Of course, I can bear witness to the results of structural prejudice and inequality by watching these events, and I can get a sense of how that prejudice and inequality is a viscous circle.

What is lost in sporadic event-based coverage, however, is the everydayness of racism in the US (or anywhere, for that matter), and this is the point made by the Twitter users I mentioned at the start of this piece. A full accounting of how such prejudice permeates society requires constant attention and explanation, and a focus upon the things that make everyday life difficult for many citizens in the US: housing discriminationjob discrimination, subtle racism in the form of looks and comments, and overt racism in the form of police harassment or media invisibility — things that white Americans rarely experience. And, not to forget the long-term implications of practices such as the death penalty and “3 Strikes” laws upon how minorities in the US have little trust that their system of justice is blind.

This isn’t a critique of all of the journalism coming out of Ferguson — some of which is excellent — but it is rather a critique of journalism in general.

Take Iraq as another case. Prior to 9/11, what did people know about US relations with Iraq and Afghanistan? Or about US politics in the region? Very little. Then, starting in 2003 we were absolutely saturated with media coverage from Iraq and Afghanistan, and there were good journalists doing good reporting during the invasion and occupation. But, after the countless television hours and acres of paper used, can we honestly say that people in the US have even a basic grasp of the social, political and economic implications of an operation that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians? Or why the US even went to war to begin with?

In the same way, if race and racism are only discussed in relation to widely-mediated stories such as Ferguson, the Los Angeles riots or the O.J. Simpson trial, then they also become isolated. When an issue as fundamental to society as racism is routinely addressed only during periodic upheaval, then we weaken the links between that upheaval and everyday history, making it an event we just cover…and then move on.

Posted in Human Rights, USA0 Comments

I$raHell Bars Amnesty, Human Rights Watch Workers from Gaza

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237,659 internally displaced Palestinian civilians are taking shelter in 81 United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools. (Photo: UNRWA)

Israel has been refusing to allow employees of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to enter the Gaza Strip in order to conduct their own independent investigations into the fighting, using various bureaucratic excuses.

Both human rights organizations have been trying to obtain permission from the Civil Administration to enter Gaza since July 7. Two different reasons have been cited for the refusals: The first is that the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip is closed and no entry permits are being granted until further notice; the second is neither group is registered with the Social Affairs Ministry as a humanitarian aid organization.

In fact, Erez was open throughout most of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which began on July 8. Among others, journalists, United Nations employees and Palestinians needing medical care or returning from abroad (with special permits), were allowed to pass through.

The spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories told Haaretz yesterday that it was suggested to both groups that they submit a special request with the COGAT ombudsman, but that no such request had as yet been received. Human Rights Watch said it had only received the suggestion late last week. Amnesty said it had not heard of the suggestion at all.

Both organizations had hoped to have researchers in the Strip during the fighting, accompanied by weapons and munitions experts with military backgrounds: Figures in the NGOs said there are no Palestinians in Gaza with the requisite professional military knowledge to independently evaluate claims being made by both the Palestinians and Israelis. While testimonies can be taken and cross-checked after the fact, physical evidence such as shell impact craters or traces from munitions is usually removed quickly.

Both groups have in the past published reports critical of Hamas. Following Operation Cast Lead (2009) and Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) they documented incidents that raised allegations of war crimes by Israel. It should be noted that both groups conduct investigations in the West Bank and in Israel proper without any interference from the authorities.

Human Right Watch investigators have been barred from entering Gaza via the Erez crossing since 2006, while Amnesty’s people have been barred since June 2012. Until the Morsi government in Egypt was brought down, they would enter Gaza from Egyptian territory through the Rafah crossing. On December 6, 2012, the international department of the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (which is part of the Civil Administration) told Amnesty that it would no longer process its requests to enter the Strip because it only handles requests from groups registered as aid groups with either the Israel Foreign Ministry or the Social Affairs Ministry. The notice acknowledged that this was a change in policy and said the change had come “from a higher authority.”

In subsequent discussions that Amnesty held with the Israeli authorities, it emerged that only UN agencies are registered with the Foreign Ministry. Yonatan Gher, Amnesty’s executive director in Israel, told Haaretz that the Foreign Ministry had specifically told his group that it couldn’t register with the ministry. As for the Social Affairs Ministry, the group explained that it doesn’t fall under the category of aid or humanitarian organizations that work regularly in the territories, and which register with that ministry to get work permits. Gher said that while he had gotten verbal promises from the Civil Administration that it would continue to accept Amnesty’s entrance requests, in recent weeks the only thing that had been raised is registering with the Social Affairs Ministry.

Bill van Esveld, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said he was first told by the Civil Administration offices in Beit El that his requests to enter the Strip were not being handled because of the military situation, but the Coordination and Liaison Administration at the Erez crossing told him that his requests weren’t being handled because the organization wasn’t registered with the foreign or the social affairs ministries.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a response that he had no knowledge of the complaints by Human Rights Watch. Regarding Amnesty, Palmor said its people could not enter Gaza because it isn’t registered with the Social Affairs Ministry.

“Entrance to the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing is permitted primarily to humanitarian and aid organizations, journalists, diplomats, and international political officials. This is government policy and the criteria that the government set. I am not aware of any effort to withhold entry permits or registration from Amnesty for any political reason. As noted, the organization, by its own admission, does not meet the criterion set [humanitarian aid].

Amnesty has asked several European foreign ministries to raise the issue with Israeli diplomats and the Israeli Foreign Ministry. No response has been received as yet.

COGAT’s written guidelines for the passage of foreigners through the Erez crossing, from September 2013, says employees of unrecognized (i.e., not registered with the Social Affairs Ministry) organization “may submit an exceptional request that will be considered in light of the prevailing policy based on the political-security situation.” In other words, the guidelines acknowledge the option of granting a permit to cross at Erez, if the authorities are interested in doing so.

Posted in Human Rights, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Nazi systematically killing Palestinian kids

NOVANEWS

Palestinian human rights groups say Israeli forces are systematically killing Palestinian children and youths in the occupied West Bank.

The rights groups say there is a growing trend among Israeli soldiers to target Palestinian children and youths.

They have also documented several instances of Palestinian youths shot dead by Israeli troops in recent days across the region.

Over 1,940 Palestinians, including 470 children, have lost their lives since the Israeli military unleashed fatal assaults on the densely-inhabited strip on July 8.

Figures show more than 22 Palestinian children and youths have been killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank over the past month. Most of them were shot dead during continuous protest rallies against the Israeli onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israeli soldiers have frequently used live ammunition and plastic bullets to disperse thousands of angry anti-war Palestinian protesters in the occupied region.

Political experts believe Israel’s ongoing savagery and relentless attacks on youths is aimed at ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. They say the Tel Aviv regime seeks to empty the entire Palestine of its native inhabitants.

This comes as Israeli authorities are also systematically acting to change East al-Quds’ identity.

Meanwhile, a report published by the al-Aqsa Foundation in October 2013, said the Israeli regime is planning to build a synagogue in al-Aqsa Mosque compound as part of its efforts to further Judaize the occupied Palestinian territories.

Over the past decades, Israel has tried to change the demographic makeup of al-Quds by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites, and expelling local Palestinian population.

Over half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds. The international community considers the settlements as illegal.

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Gaza Holocaust ” 10 ”: Ruins in Beit Hanoun, August 2014

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Photos of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. Taken by Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem field researcher in Gaza, on 5 August 2014, in the course of the ceasefire. Whole sections of Beit Hanoun have been demolished, making it one of the hardest hit communities in the recent offensive, along with Gaza City, Beit Lahiya, Khuza’ah and Rafah.

In the course of the fighting B’Tselem collected several testimonies from Beit Hanoun residents. All but one of the testimonies were taken by phone by B’Tselem field researchers in the West Bank:

Ambulance driver Rami ‘Ali recounts attacks that killed paramedic ‘Aaed al-Bura’i and injured team sent to rescue him, both despite coordination with Red Crescent Read testimony

Suhair Shabat describes mortal fear of bombing, leading her to take her children and flee Beit Hanoun Read testimony

Shadi Taleb tells of seeing Abu Jarad family home shelled, leaving 8 dead; recounts constantly fleeing with his family for fear of bombings Read testimony

Muhammad Hamad, 75, resident of Beit Hanun, relates how bombing killed his family members in their yard Read testimony

 

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Gaza Holocaust ”9”: Paramedic and photojournalist killed during an attempt to evacuate wounded people from a-Shuja’iyeh

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Palestinian woman walks past the wreckage of an ambulance in Beit Hanoun town. Suhaib Salem, Reuters, 1 August, 2014

Palestinian woman walks past the wreckage of an ambulance in Beit Hanoun town. Suhaib Salem, Reuters, 1 August, 2014

I work as a paramedic. On Saturday, 19 July 2014, at around 11:00 P.M., I was at work, at the call center that sends ambulances to people calling for help. We started getting calls from three areas in a-Shujai’yeh neighborhood in Gaza City: a-Nazaz Street, a-Sha’ath Street, and al-Beltaji Street. The callers sounded extremely distraught. They were shouting for help and asking that we come quickly to take wounded people to hospital. They said they were under massive artillery shelling and a lot of people had been hurt.

We realized that the shelling was still underway and we couldn’t reach the area. We called the Red Crescent and the Red Cross, but they said it was very dangerous, that we mustn’t go there, and that they were also waiting for the shelling to stop in order to go there. In a short space of time, we got more than 200 calls from the neighborhood of a-Shujai’yeh. I can say with almost absolute certainty that we received a call from every single house in the areas I mentioned. During the calls, we could hear young children screaming in the background and women crying. People had been injured and killed in every home we got a call from.

At around 5:00 A.M., we held an emergency meeting with the director of the First Aid and Trauma Unit, Diaa Abu Hassan. We decided to go out there, no matter what.

We left in three ambulances and two vehicles with civil defense teams. We were joined by Khaled Hamad, a photojournalist. The first house we got to was the a-Sarsak family home on a-Nazaz Street. We had gotten a report that a person had been killed and a child injured in the house. We got out of the vehicles about 200-300 meters away from the house. We couldn’t drive any closer because the street was covered with rubble from the shelled buildings.

We only took several steps when, suddenly, a missile was fired at us. It landed very close to me. It hit the photojournalist Khaled Hamad directly, killing killed him.

A 25-year-old paramedic named Fuad Jaber was hit in the back by shrapnel. We ran towards the a-Sarsaks’ home to take cover but then another missile landed, close to the house. I started treating a little boy, about four years old, who had been hit in the leg by shrapnel. Then I treated another paramedic, Fares ‘Afaneh, who was hit by stones that flew up because of the blast. We carried them both towards the vehicles. When we got to the vehicles, we saw they’d been damaged by the bombing, too. Two ambulances and one civil defense vehicle were useless. We were left with one ambulance and one civil defense vehicle. We got in with the injured child and Fares, the injured paramedic. We headed to the hospital in those two cars, leaving behind Khaled Hamad, the photojournalist who was killed, and Fuad Jaber, the other injured paramedic. We reached the hospital and left the injured people there for further treatment.

Despite the huge risk, we decided to go back to get Fuad. We hoped to find him alive. I’m sorry to say, but when we got there, he was dead. His wound was small, but he simply bled to death. He could have been with us now, if only we’d taken him in the ambulance with us. If they’d have let us take the injured people to hospital instead of bombing us.

We carried away the bodies of Khaled and Fuad. We couldn’t take any others. Only then did we understand the horror of what had happened there. Along the short distance I crossed, about 300 meters, I saw a woman and six or seven children lying dead. A few meters from there, I saw two dead men. Across the road, I saw a man, woman and two small children lying dead. They may have been from a single family.

Not a single house was left unharmed on that street. Every house was bombed. It was such a terrible sight. Your eyes see it, but your mind doesn’t comprehend.

So many people called us for help that day that I can’t even remember most of their names. It’s all registered in our records. I do remember one call, made from the house of Abu Muhammad Harazin. It was his son, calling to tell us his father had been injured. At the time, the massive bombing was still going on and we couldn’t reach him, to give emergency care and take him to hospital. Half an hour later, the son called us again. He said we shouldn’t risk trying to reach them, because his father had passed away.

Ahmad Sabah, 28, married, lives in Tal a-Za’tar neighborhood, Gaza City. He works as a paramedic with the Red Crescent. He gave his testimony by phone on 22 July 2014 to Salma a-Deb’i, B’Tselem’s field researcher in Nablus.

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Gaza Holocaust ”8”: Ambulance driver Rami ‘Ali recounts attacks that killed paramedic ‘Aaed al-Bura’i and injured team sent to rescue him, both despite coordination with Red Crescent

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Beit Hanoun resident leave town during brief humanitarian ceasefire. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 26 July 2014

Beit Hanoun resident leave town during brief humanitarian ceasefire. Photo: Muhammad Sabah, B’Tselem, 26 July 2014

On Friday afternoon, 25 July 2014, I was working at the medical emergency call center in Beit Hanoun. At around 4:30 P.M., we received a call reporting injured people in al-Masriyin Street in Beit Hanoun. We asked the International Red Cross to coordinate our going there. About 15 minutes after we received the call, we got authorization and an ambulance headed over there with paramedics ‘Aaed al-Bura’i, 25, Hatem Shahin, 38, and driver Jawad Bdeir, 52. The team didn’t make it to the wounded people. Soon after they reached the street, they reported back that a tank had fired at them and they were injured. They asked for another team to come and rescue them.

The call center coordinated the arrival of another team with the International Red Cross and got authorization to go rescue the injured team. I drove the second ambulance, and there were two medics with me – Muhammad Harb, 31, and Yusri al-Masri, 54. The street is only about 200-300 meters from the call center, so we were there within minutes. When we reached the entrance to the street, we were surprised to see three tanks and a military bulldozer in the street, about 100 meters away.

Suddenly, with no warning, they opened heavy machine-gun fire at us. The bullets penetrated the ambulance. I tried to turn the ambulance around to get out of there, but the steering wheel must have been hit. Suddenly, I felt sharp pain in my leg and realized I’d been hit by a bullet or shrapnel. Then the windshield shattered. Because I couldn’t turn the ambulance around, I decided to try reversing. They kept firing as I backed up, until we got far enough away. When they stopped, I managed to turn us around and head back to the center.

On the way there we met Hatem Shahin, one of the paramedics from the first ambulance. He’d been hit by shrapnel in his shoulder and leg. He told us that a shell fired from a tank had hit the front part of the ambulance. He said he’d managed to get away but the other paramedic, ‘Aaed, had been hit. He told us that after he ran away from there, he saw the tank fire another shell at the ambulance, completely destroying it. He thought ‘Aaed must have been killed, but we didn’t know for sure.

The next day, on Saturday, a ceasefire was declared from 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. An ambulance team went to the spot and found ‘Aaed’s body in the burnt ambulance. My injury was minor. I was treated at hospital and released the same day. Jawad Bdeir, who drove the first ambulance, was injured in his face and leg. Hatem Shahin, the paramedic, was injured in his shoulder and leg. They were both treated at the hospital in Beit Hanoun. The other two members of the emergency medical team who were with me in the ambulance were not hurt. We found eight bullet entry holes on the ambulance I drove. The windshield was shattered and the radiator was damaged.

Rami ‘Abd al-Haj ‘Ali, 32, is married and has two children. He works as an ambulance driver for the Red Crescent and lives in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. He gave his account by phone to Iyad Hadad, B’Tselem field researcher in Ramallah, on 27 July 2014.

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Gaza Holocaust ”7”: Families bombed at home, Gaza, July-August 2014 (initial figures)

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During the fighting in Gaza, dozens of residences were bombed while residents were at home. The following infographic lists members of families killed in their homes in 59 incidents of bombing or shelling. In these incidents, 458 people were killed, including 108 women under the age of 60, 214 minors, and 18 people over the age of 60. Mouse over the houses for more details.

The figures are based on B’Tselem’s initial investigation. We will continue to investigate the incidents and update the figures accordingly.

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Gaza Holocaust ”6”: Death Foretold: The inevitable outcome of bombing homes and inhabited areas in Gaza

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A house bombed in Gaza. Ronen Zvulun, Reuters, 26 July 2014

A house bombed in Gaza. Ronen Zvulun, Reuters, 26 July 2014

From 8 July 2014, when the recent bout of fighting in Gaza began, through 10 August 2014, at least 1,767 residents of the Gaza Strips were killed. This according to initial figures B’Tselem collected in the course of the fighting. This number includes 431 individuals under the age of 18 (including one of whom it is known that he took part in the hostilities); 200 women under the age of 60; and 85men and women over 60.

To the best of B’Tselem’s knowledge, at least 70 residential buildings were bombed or shelled, with three or more relatives from a single family killed in each case. A total of 542 persons, mostly minors and women, were killed in these 70 homes: 242 minors; 126 women under the age of 60; and 25 men and women over 60.

Airstrikes on homes formed a major part of the policy implemented by the Israeli military from the start of this bout of fighting in Gaza. The scope of these airstrikes as well as the length of time that they persisted indicate that they were likely authorized by senior military and political officials, and were also granted advance sanction by the Military Advocate General Corps and the Ministry of Justice.

As part of that policy, homes were bombed every day, more and more civilians were killed and entire families were obliterated. Even compared to previous bouts of fighting in Gaza, the number and frequency of incidents this time around was unusually high, with many people killed each time, mostly civilians who did not take part in the hostilities. For instance, on 20 July 2014 an airstrike on a building in Bani Suheila – a neighborhood northeast of Khan Yunis – killed 26 people from the Abu Jame’ family, including 19 minors and five women; the bombing of a residential buildings on 26 July 2014 killed 20 members of the a-Najar family, including 12 minors, six women, and a 60-year-old man; an airstrike on an apartment building in Khan Yunis on 29 July 2014 killed 35 people from four families – including 18 minors and eight women.

Nevertheless, to date – either during the fighting or subsequently – no official Israeli authority has troubled to offer an explanation for so many civilian fatalities, except with regard to a few cases in which an explanation was demanded by international bodies. It may be that the government and military consider these results reasonable and proportionate, or perhaps they see no need to explain to the public how and why so many people were killed in Gaza. Be that as it may, their silence implies that such extensive harm to civilians is seen as legitimate.

The grave consequences lend a hollow ring to Israel’s repeated claims that it has no intention of harming civilians. The massive bombardments of civilian locations were the rule rather than the exception in the last operation, routinely killing dozens of people a day. Whoever authorized the strikes must have known that they would result in many civilian fatalities, yet the bombardments continued day after day and even intensified. Authorizing attacks from the air, sea and artillery fire at heavily populated civilian areas and specific homes, constitutes willfully ignoring the inevitable killing of civilians – men, women and children – who did not take part on in the hostilities.

But Hamas is to blame – right?

Israeli officials – military and otherwise – repeatedly state that the military is doing all it possibly can to minimize harm to civilians. However, they argue, Hamas is endangering the lives of the civilian population, and is therefore solely responsible for the consequences of Israel’s actions: people killed, injured or displaced, and homes and infrastructure ruined.

In this vein, in response to a joint letter by several human rights organizations, including B’Tselem, the Israeli Attorney General wrote on 5 August 2004 to Att. Tamar Feldman of Israeli NGO ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel) that Israel is committed to upholding the law, but “terrorist organizations make cynical, criminal use of the civilian population as human shields in the face of IDF activity. In this reality, unfortunately, even legal, proportionate attacks carried out in keeping with international law may cause unintentional and unwanted harm to civilians and civilian property”. Similarly, Israeli Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said in a press conference on 6 August 2014 that “the result in Gaza has been devastation, and the tragic blame lies with Hamas leaders, who operated from within concentrations of population”.

Hamas did, indeed, violate international humanitarian law (IHL) during the fighting: its operatives fired at civilians and civilian locations within Israel, concealed weapons in civilian buildings and institutions in the Gaza Strip, and even fired from locations close to civilian structures or from within such structures. In doing so, Hamas endangered civilians within Gaza, forcing the civilian population to be a part of the sphere of fighting. Such conduct is unlawful, as B’Tselem has repeatedly stated and wishes to underscore once more.

However, Israel is wrong in shirking responsibility for the consequences of its actions and in laying them at Hamas’ door. Israel and Hamas are each responsible for their own actions. The Israeli premise is faulty, on legal, factual and moral grounds:

From a legal standpoint, IHL – which stipulates rules of war for exactly such circumstances – actions during hostilities are not dependent on “reciprocity”: one party’s breach of the law does not give the other party carte blanche to do so. Israel is well aware of this issue. Therefore, along with depositing responsibility at Hamas’ doorstep, Israeli states it carefully abides by IHL. Those statements, however, issued by government and military officials, do not hold water:

  • Israel states that all the attacks on Gaza were only aimed at military targets – yet it defines “military target” so broadly that the term loses all meaning. In the last operation, the term came to encompass civilian buildings, such as the family homes of Hamas military operatives. This violates the fundamental IHL principle of distinction.
  • Israel states that all its strikes in Gaza were proportionate, and that the fact that civilians were killed does not in itself contradict that. Yet after dozens of strikes, each killing many uninvolved civilians, while Israel did not prove or even claim military gains significant enough to render such damage proportionate, this argument is no longer tenable. This conduct violates another central tenet of IHL – the principle of proportionality.
  • Israel states that the military warned residents in Gaza prior to attacks – but issuing warnings is not enough in itself. True, hundreds of thousands of Gazans – including children, the elderly and sick individuals – were given warning that they should leave their homes. Yet, if there is nowhere to go, when there in not always enough time to complete the evacuation, and when traveling is unsafe – as many Gazans reported in recent weeks – it is unreasonable to expect the entire civilian population to evacuate. Indeed, many civilians did not leave their homes, either for fear or because they could not. Under such circumstances, Israel should not have assumed that all civilians have indeed left their homes and fully heeded its warnings.

IHL places important restrictions on combatants, in order to minimize harm to civilians. While Israel argues that it operates within these parameters, in actuality it shifts them to its convenience, ignoring accepted interpretations of the law. The practical implication is sending the military to act in accordance with an unlawful policy, inevitably resulting in extensive damage to civilians in Gaza.

As for the facts: Israel did not bomb only those places that it claims Hamas used for military activity but also civilian locations, including dozens of homes with families in them, killing many civilians. As yet, the military has not provided proof that it attacked only targets used by Hamas’ military branch. Unlike previous incidents, almost no attempt has been made to explain the high civilian death toll. Instead, officials made only general claims about Hamas’ conduct and published footage of several instances in which Hamas concealed rockets at civilian sites, instances in themselves of unacceptable and unlawful conduct.

Morally: because civilians have paid a terrible price for this policy. Initial data gathered during the operation indicate that in four weeks of bombardment and shelling, more than 600 minors, women, and men over 60 were killed. It is certain that none of these persons took part in the hostilities nor did they threaten Israeli civilians or targets. Almost half a million people (more than a quarter of Gaza’s populace) were displaced on short notice, leaving behind all most of their belongings. It is unclear how many of them will have homes to return to. This is the direct result of the policy led by senior Israeli officials, who considered it a legitimate response to rocket fire into Israel and the threat of infiltration into Israel via tunnels. These officials must have had the capacity to predict such grave consequences, and the moral responsibility for choosing this course of action lies with them.

Hamas does fire at civilians, does operate within its own civilian populace, and does conceal weapons in civilian locations. These actions are breaches of the law and Hamas must be held accountable for such violations. However, Hamas’ responsibility does not absolve Israel of responsibility for its own actions. Hamas is not – and cannot be – responsible for the extreme damage that Israel caused civilians in Gaza. Holding Hamas responsible for Israel’s actions is tantamount to freeing Israel of any restrictions in its response, no matter how horrendous, to violations of the law by Hamas. This position is unjustifiable, either morally or legally: the responsibility for the harsh consequences of Israel’s policy in the last month lies with Israel’s government and top military commanders who authorized it, despite the foreseeable horrific results.

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Gaza Holocaust ”5”: Initial figures: At least 1,767 Palestinians killed by day’s end on 10 Aug. 2014; two Zionist civilians, one foreign national and 64 Nazi soldiers killed during same period

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Member of emergency services crew in Gaza; background: house bombed on 10 July 2014. Photo: Ahmad Zakut, Reuters

Member of emergency services crew in Gaza; background: house bombed on 10 July 2014. Photo: Ahmad Zakut, Reuters

According to B’Tselem’s initial figures, at least 1,767 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip and I$raHell from the time the fighting began through 10 Aug. 2014. The fatalities include:

431 minors (one minor participated in the hostilities);

200 women (under age 60);

85 persons aged 60 and over.

During the same period two Zionist civilians, one foreign national and 64 Nazi soldiers have been killed in I$raHell and the Gaza Strip.

Posted in Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

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