8 thoughts on “Sderot Israeli woman against war

  1. ISRAEL IN GAZA: A CRITICAL REFRAMING

    Israel’s core messages, listed below, argue for the justice of its invasion of Gaza in late December, 2008, cast Israel as the victim and endeavor that its “war on Hamas” not be seen against the background of prolonged occupation, closure and sanctions, but of the broader Western “War on Terror.” The alternative view presented below argues otherwise. As Israelis committed to human rights, international law and a just peace as the only way out of our interminable and bloody conflict with the Palestinians, we contend that security cannot be achieved unilaterally, especially as Israel shows no signs of fully relinquishing its 41 year Occupation so that a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian may emerge. In that context, Israel’s attack on Gaza can be considered merely another attempt to render its Occupation permanent by destroying any source of effective resistance. The immediate pretext of Israel’s attack, rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, does not explain the disproportionality of its attack, especially given the unrelenting sanctions, attacks and assassinations carried out by Israel throughout the cease-fire. Indeed, we argue that Israel could have avoided all attacks upon it over the last twenty years, as well as the rise of Hamas to power, if it had accepted the PLO’s offer of a two-state solution proffered already in 1988 and has entered into negotiations in good faith. Instead, Israel, the strong party in the conflict and the sole Occupying Power, chose to dramatically increase its settler population, construct a permanent infrastructure of separation and control, remove “Greater Jerusalem” from Palestine and encircle the West Bank with its expanded borders: that of the Separation Barrier incorporating Israel’s major settlement blocs and the “security border” of the Jordan River. Israel is not a victim; it is the active perpetrator of a permanent apartheid regime over all of Israel/Palestine. It is toward that goal that Gaza is being violently pacified today, Israel’s killing with impunity scores of Palestinian civilians constituting nothing less than State Terrorism.

    The following pages present the essential elements of the Israeli government’s framing of its assault on Gaza, followed by a critical re-framing that introduces context, policies and aims which the government’s version purposely omits.

    · Israeli PR: Like all countries, it has a right and duty to defend its citizens.

    An alternative framing: To pursue offensive policies of prolonged occupation as well as sanctions, boycotts and closures which rob another people of its rights, aspirations and very livelihood, and to then refuse to truly engage with that people’s elected leaders (a policy preceding Hamas’s rise to power), is what puts your own people at risk. To expect your citizens to live in security while a million and a half subjugated people just a few kilometers away live in misery is both unrealistic and presumptive. Israel will only be able to defend its citizens – which is indeed its duty – if it addresses the causes of their insecurity, which is a 41 year-old occupation which the oppressed will resist, by “legitimate” means or not.

    · Israeli PR: Israel had no choice but to attack in response to the barrage of 8,500 Hamas rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the past eight years that have killed 20 Israeli civilians.

    An alternative framing: Israel had a choice. In the past three years alone Israel – together with the US, Europe and Japan – imposed an inhumane siege of Gaza while conducting a campaign of targeted assassinations and attacks throughout the cease-fire that left 1,700 Palestinians dead. This war is no “response:” it is merely a more deadly round of the tit-for-tat arising out of a political vacuum. Hamas firings on Israel were for the most part, if not exclusively, responses to Israeli actions either not reported in the press or discounted as legitimate unilateral action – such as assassinating leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian organizations, often with a high toll in civilian casualties. To present the “barrage” as an independent variable disassociated from wider Israeli policies that led to them is disingenuous. Indeed, had there been a genuine political process which offered the Palestinians hope for self-determination, the rocket firings could have been avoided altogether.

    · Israeli PR: Hamas is a terrorist organization that refuses to recognize Israel or enter into a political process.

    An alternative framing: “Terrorist” is a problematic term. States always use it to delegitimize and demonize non-state actors who resist their oppressive policies, as apartheid South Africa did, for example, with the ANC. The term assumes that states, bad as they may be, have the right to employ military force as they see fit. If, however, we take “terrorism” to mean the killing, harming or intimidation of non-combatant civilian populations, then states are far more terroristic, kill far more innocent civilians, than do non-state groups. In the eight years since the second Intifada broke out (September 2000), almost 500 Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinians while almost 5000 Palestinians have died at the hands of Israelis. All attacks on civilians are unacceptable, no matter how just the cause. Yet it is only the Palestinians to whom the term “terrorist” is applied.

    An alternative framing: Presenting Hamas as merely a “terrorist organization” removes the political element from their struggle and presents them as a criminal organization. This not only distorts reality in a fundamental way but, by preventing negotiations, it ensures the perpetuation of mutual suffering. Hamas has its military wing – though nothing compared to the Israeli army – but it is essentially a grassroots religious-political movement that democratically won the Palestinian elections in 2006 and earned the right to establish a government – which was denied it by Israel, the US…and the Fatah part of the Palestinian Authority. It does deny Israel’s legitimacy, as any colonized people would, and there is no reason why it should accept the loss of 78% (or more) of its historic homeland. But Hamas has agreed, as a signatory to the “Prisoners’ Document” and in repeated public pronouncements, to respect the outcome of negotiations of other Palestinian parties (like Fatah) with Israel, if they result in a complete withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. So despite its militant and scary image, despite the fact that it will not legitimize what it considers another people’s colonization of its homeland, Hamas does accept, as a practical political matter, a two-state solution. Given the fact that negotiations with Israel since the Madrid Conference of 1991 have yielded nothing – indeed, Israel’s massive settlement enterprise has perhaps eliminated the possibility of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel – Hamas’s resort to armed resistance is understandable. All attacks on civilians are prohibited in international law. In this regard both Hamas and Israel engage in terrorism, with the later taking by far the greatest of civilian dead, injured and traumatized.

    · Israeli PR: There is no occupation – in general, but specifically in Gaza. Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005 with the “disengagement.” Gaza could have flourished as the basis of a Palestinian state, but its inhabitants chose conflict.

    An alternative framing: Israel claims there has never been an occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza; instead, these are “disputed” territories with no clear claimant – and certainly not the Palestinians who, in Israel’s view, do not constitute a people with rights of self-determination in the Land of Israel and who never exercised sovereignty over any part of Palestine. This position is rejected utterly by the international community. Indeed, the Road Map initiative uses the term “occupation” explicitly. Neither does it accept Israel’s claim that the occupation of Gaza really ended with “disengagement” in 2005, since occupation is defined in international law as exercising effective control of a foreign territory, which Israel obviously does over Gaza.

    To then argue that Gaza could have developed under these conditions is unfair and unreasonable. Neither Israeli control exerted over Gaza since 1967 nor the economic closure imposed upon it in 1989 ever ceased, even if Israel removed its settlers and army. Gazans were never allowed to open their sea or air ports, nor were any conditions conducive to economic development allowed to develop. And then, in early 2006, less than six months after “disengagement,” Gaza was sanctioned and hermetically isolated by Israel and the international community as punishment for voting the wrong way. John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, wrote that this was the first time in history the oppressed was sanctioned and the Occupying Power freed of any responsibility. Economic development, not to mention a political process which might have prevented the violence on both sides, was actively prevented by both Israel and its international supporters, which share responsibility for the present tragedy in Gaza.

    Let us also remember Israel’s special responsibility towards the people of Gaza. These “civilians” are, for the most part, refugees driven from their homes in Israel in 1948 and their descendants, people dying and suffering at the hands of Israel for the past 41, if not 60, years. This adds a particular poignancy to the assault – yet another assault.

    · Israeli PR: Only Hamas violated the cease-fire, and thus it carries full responsibility.

    An alternative framing: Israel and Hamas agreed to a truce (through Egypt) by which Israel would allow the opening of the Gazan border crossings (at least partially) in return for a end to rocket fire on Israel. Hamas largely, though not entirely, kept its part of the bargain; Israel almost never did. Killings of Palestinians from the air continued, and on the American election day in early November it attacked the tunnels (which functioned as alternative means of supplying Gaza in the absence of open borders, which would have allowed control over the movement of arms), killing a number of Hamas people. In response Hamas launched rockets and….the truce began breaking down.

    · Israeli PR: There is no humanitarian crisis; Israel is only attacking the “infrastructure of terror.”

    Alternative View: Being the elected government, all the infrastructure, from traffic cops (non-combatants under international law) to schools to military installations, “belong” to Hamas. It is clear that Israeli attacks go beyond “the infrastructure of terror.” Gazan sources claim that some 5000 homes have been demolished and the Islamic University has been severely damaged. According to the UN OCHA report of January. 5, the tenth day of the war:

    ü “More than a million Gazans still have no electricity or water, and thousands of people have fled their homes for safe shelter;.

    ü Gaza’s water and sewage system is on the verge of collapse, 75% of Gaza’s electricity has been cut off;

    ü The sewage situation is highly dangerous, posing serious risks of the spread of water-borne disease;

    ü Hospitals are unable to provide adequate intensive care to the high number of casualties. There is also an urgent need for more neuro-, vascular-, orthopedic- and open heart surgeons.

    · Israeli PR: Israel only targets Hamas fighters.

    An alternative framing: Who’s a “Hamas fighter?” The graduating class of traffic cops that was slaughtered in the first aerial attack on Gaza? Professors and students who attend the “Hamas” Islamic University? Family members of Hamas military figures? People who voted for Hamas? Attacking a grassroots political-religious-social movement engaged in military resistance to occupation in densely crowded urban settings makes it either impossible or inconvenient for an invading army to distinguish between civilians and fighters.

    · Israeli PR: Civilians may die, but it’s because Hamas hides its fighters and weapons factories among ordinary people.

    An alternative framing: Gaza being such a barren, exposed and tiny area (360 sq.km./223 sq. miles, half the size of London), separating civilian from military areas, though desirable, is impossible, especially since, in concept, Hamas is a people’s militia. It’s worth noting, however, that Israel’s military headquarters are located in the center of Tel Aviv, the military headquarters over the West Bank are in the densely populated Neveh Ya’akov neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel’s center for biological and chemical warfare is located in the town of Ness Tziona, close to Tel Aviv, its main weapons development centers or in Haifa, and most settlements in the West Bank have military camps embedded within them – or vice versa.

    Hamas, of course, as both a government and a military organization, carries responsibility for protecting the civilian population and keeping the fighting away from them. In a situation where this is impossible, as in Gaza, an invading force like Israel should avoid engagement, or engage only when legitimate military and political aims (such as defense) are genuinely endangered – which is not the case here. Israel has political and negotiating options that can end both the immediate threat of rockets and the longer-term conflict, but it chooses not to use them.

    A terrifying development: According to the Israeli press, Israel has decided to ignore the distinction between civilians and combatants which lies at the root of international laws of warfare. Citing what the IDF calls the “Georgia rules,” the two military correspondents of Ha’aretz (Jan. 6 and 7) explain:

    [IDF Chief of Staff Gabi] Ashkenazi had said in earlier discussions that use of major fire power would be inevitable even in the most densely populated areas. The Israeli solution was thus to be very aggressive to protect the lives of the soldiers as much as possible. These are ‘Georgia rules,’ which are not so far from the methods Russia used in its conflict last summer. The result is the killing of dozens of non-combatant Palestinians. The Gaza medical teams might not have reached all of them yet. When an Israeli force gets into an entanglement, as in Sajaiyeh last night, massive fire into built-up areas is initiated to cover the extraction. In other cases, a chain of explosions is initiated from a distance to set off Hamas booby-traps. It is a method that leaves a swath of destruction taking in entire streets, and does not distinguish military targets from the homes of civilians….

    The incident in which some 40 Palestinian civilians were killed when Israel Defense Forces mortar shells hit an UNRWA school in the Jabalya refugee camp Tuesday surprised no one who has been following events in Gaza in recent days. Senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous firepower. “For us, being cautious means being aggressive,” explained one. “From the minute we entered, we’ve acted like we’re at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground … I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock. Maybe someone there will sober up before it continues.”

    What the officer did not say explicitly was that this is deliberate policy. Following the trauma of the war in Lebanon in 2006, the army realized that heavy IDF casualties would erode public (and especially political) support for the war and limit its ability to achieve its goals. Therefore, it is using aggressive tactics to save soldiers’ lives. And the cabinet took this into account when it approved the ground operation last Friday, so it has no reason to change its mind now.

    Nor is it likely that Tuesday’s incident, with its large number of civilian deaths, will result in an immediate cease-fire…. Until Tuesday’s incident, the world appeared relatively indifferent to Palestinian civilian casualties. On Monday, 31 members of the Samouny family were killed when a shell hit their house in Gaza City; that same day, 13 members of the Al-Daiya family where killed by another Israeli bomb. Yet international media coverage of these incidents was comparatively restrained.

    This is an absolutely unacceptable development in modern warfare – particularly urban warfare which involves and entraps large populations of civilians – and must be condemned and rejected by the international community. If the Israeli-Georgian “rules” become a de facto norm of warfare, the entire edifice of human rights and international which has been constructed over the past 60 years will collapse and we will enter into a new age of barbarism. Again, All attacks on civilians must be opposed, whether sanctioned or not by military doctrine.

    · Israeli PR: Hamas is a global problem, part of Islamist fundamentalism together with Iran and Hezbollah.

    An alternative framing: Hamas was allowed by Israel to develop as a political force in Occupied Palestine in the late 1980s in order to counterbalance the secular PLO, which Israel regarded then as its real enemy but today considers a “moderate” force which should be supported in order to counterbalance Hamas(!). It has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, but is a particularly Palestinian phenomenon that arose in response to increasing Israeli repression, the loss of Palestinian land, rights and honor, and the corruption and high-handedness of the ruling Fatah party. It cannot be conflated with the Shi’ite Hizbollah (which emerged in Lebanon only in the wake of threw 1982 war), al-Qaida (which has a completely different global agenda and ideology) or Iran (in which the theocrats were an organized but quite small political force until the U.S. overthrew Iran’s democracy in 1954 and installed the repressive regime of the Shah – for whom Israel trained his dreaded SAVAK security police, noted for their widespread torture of “dissidents”). Painting Hamas as part of a global conspiracy when it’s a product of the Occupation itself is disingenuous and a gross distortion of history. Indeed, as the history of Hamas, Hizbollah and the Iranian clerics shows, Israel itself had played a significant role in the rise of political Islam.

    An alternative framing: have to get beyond such simplistic and self-serving terms as “terrorists” and “terrorism” – especially since the Western politicians that use them refuse to apply them to themselves, as in the case of Israel in Gaza. It will do no good to dismiss Hamas as a “terrorist organization.” The issues, grievances and demands upon which it arose must be addressed. From the point of view of its voters, who include many who do not share Hamas’s religious or political agenda, Hamas is a quintessential liberation movement, a Palestinian liberation movement. Attempts by Israel to delegitimize Hamas and disassociate it from the Palestinian people, even to have the gall to suggest that the carnage created by Israel in Gaza will benefit the people by “releasing them from Hamas’s grip,” only serve – as they are intended to do – to neutralize Hamas as an effective source of resistance to Israel’s Occupation.

    · Israeli PR: In attacking Hamas in Gaza, Israel is only doing its part in the West’s War on Terror.

    An alternative framing: This brings us to why Israel actually attacked Gaza and why the slaughter has gone on far beyond Israel’s declared goal of ending the rocket fire through negotiations. Immediate causes played their role, to be sure. Public pressure to end the rocket fire, especially in an election period, could not be ignored, nor the need to assert national pride. But this does not explain the immense scale of the operation; the rocket firings were the immediate trigger (and Hamas may have erred in its brinksmanship), but not the true reasons, which were several.

    First, the invasion of Gaza was an exercise in pacification. On one level, it is an attempt to destroy Hamas as a political force, the only effective Palestinian resistance to Israel’s ability, through the Annapolis Process, of imposing an apartheid regime on Palestine. On another level it seeks to pacify the Palestinian people by delivering “a message:” If you keep resisting, this is what is waiting for you. You have no hope to force Israel to withdraw from its settlements and expanded borders. Second, it is an attempt to resuscitate Israel’s image as an effective ally in the War on Terror after the humiliation of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. This is crucial for Israel’s security politics, especially vis-à-vis the US, and the Palestinians are paying the price for Hizbollah’s success. Third, it is an exercise in urban warfare, an opportunity to field-test new weaponry and tactics of counterinsurgency in dense urban environments that can be exported – both as part of Israel’s security politics (earning its place with the Big Boys at the table of the War Against Terror) and as part of its economic export strategy (60% of Israeli export firms deal in security). “Tested in Gaza” (or Nablus or Fluja) is one of Israel’s most effective marketing pitches.

    Gaza demonstrates in microcosm the shift in Israeli priorities and policies as its long-standing commitment to hold onto the Occupied Territories for both nationalist and security reasons comes into conflict with its broader regional and global agendas, centered today around its campaign to neutralize Iran’s nuclear potential. The Saudi Initiative, endorsed by the Arab League, holds out the tantalizing offer of Israeli integration into the Middle East – meaning that Israel, whose foreign policy interests match those of the “moderate” Arab states, could assume a regional role. But because of public opinion in the Arab and Muslims worlds, this offer is good only if Israel relinquishes enough of the Occupied Territories that the Palestinian leadership could sign off on an agreement. Hence Israel’s courting of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Mubarak and even Assad of Syria and the Saudis. And hence Israel’s readiness to offer Abbas yet another “generous offer – short, however, of dismantling its major settlement blocs, relinquishing control over “greater” Jerusalem or giving up control of the border with Jordan, for which no Israeli government has a mandate. Caught between the necessity of maintaining its settlements – a position Netanyahu still endorses – and its desire to assume a role as one of regional hegemons, Israel is trying to find a way to finesse its way through. This explains Olmert’s sudden readiness to change direction and talk of the necessity for a two-state solution, as well as the hasty Annapolis Process. Hence Abbas and Mubarak’s support for Israel’s action in Gaza (with mild, perfunctory criticism of its excesses). Their virtual collaboration with Israel raises even further in the eyes by many Palestinians and other Arabs the standing of Hamas as the only genuine source of resistance.

    So there are high stakes involved in the Israeli-Hamas war, which diminish the seemingly decisive role the firing of rockets into Israel had. We do not believe that Israel can either impose an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people nor sustain its Occupation. If anything, as is becoming obvious, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, emblematic as it is throughout the entire Muslim world and beyond (among, for example, progressives civil society on every continent), will impact negatively on European and especially American efforts to stabilize the global system, and in particular the volatile Middle East where the US remains bogged down. It is our role as proponents of human rights, international law, decolonization, the integrity of cultures and a just peace in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere to highlight the injustice and unsustainability of Israel’s Occupation both on the ground and globally, the quicker to bring it to an end. May the suffering of the both peoples in this war on Gaza, one oppressed and the other held hostage to an image of the Palestinians as “permanent enemies,” be the last straw. A just peace in Palestine will relieve a major obstacle towards global justice.

    · Israeli PR: Israel, acting as any life-loving nation would, has a right to be a normal country living in peace and security.

    An alternative framing: By now you should be empowered to provide a critical response of your own.

    The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Please visit our websites:
    http://www.icahd.org
    http://www.icahduk.org
    http://www.icahdusa.org

  2. The Other Israel, December-January issue is out
    Some articles online & info how to order free sample
    http://otherisrael.home.igc.org

    Who will save them from us / us from ourselves?

    Here follow the January 13, 2009 press picks from what was published recently by different sources -posted by TOI-staff on Occupation Magazine. (Today, we posted articles; OM is updated each day of the week, by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.)

    Activism:

    Wedn Jan. 14, vigil in Be`erSheva 15.30 at Henrietta Szold-corner Yitzchak Rager St.
    Stop shooting, Start talking – Stop shooting, Start thinking (vigil in missile range area [ed.]) 13/1/2009
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31289

    Wedn. Jan. 14, again an early morning vigil – 6.15am opposite the Air Force base
    at crossing of Ibn Gvirol and Rokach St. in North Tel-Aviv – for coordination call Yonathan Shapira 054-4892928 13/1/2009
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31285

    A protest and mourning vigil is held in Jaffa every day, 18:00
    at The Gazans Park (previously/officially Gan Hashnaim), corner Dr Ehrlich and Yeffet streets. 13/1/2009
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31288

    Protest, Solidarity and Aid Convoy for the Residents of Gaza
    Friday, 16th of January 13/1/2009
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31286

    Reports on protests of the past days
    http://gush-shalom.org.toibillboard.info/TAdemos.htm

    Articles:

    “We could hear their bodies burning” – survivors` eyewitness report on the effects of White Phosphorous
    Ma’an News Agency – Everything was on fire; houses, sheds, trees. Bombs, too, were everywhere, and with them came the white clouds. White phosphorous, the doctors are now saying, but that`s disputed in Israel. But for sure it was a night of terror. We were terrified. We thought we were going to burn to death.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31284

    Special: White Phosphorus and its use in Gaza
    Mazen Qumssiya – Arij – White Phosphorus, which ignites spontaneously upon exposure to air, might cause severe burns and injuries to human exposed to it, and might lead to death. It has many military applications, its use as an incendiary being forbidden by International Law but using it a smoke-screen is permitted. There is no watertight division between these two roles, however, and the loophole makes it possible for Israel to use in in populated Gaza areas and claim it is not violating International Law. The same ambiguity had been used before by the US to justify its use in Iraq.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31282

    Finland: Church Group Demands Probe of Gaza Clinic Attack
    YLE / Gush Shalom – “From our point of view, this was a calculated act. Even the warning missile targeted the clinic, which was clearly marked with the insignia of the Red Cross. This attack broke all international treaties,” said Jouni Hemberg, Chief of Humanitarian Aid for Finn Church Aid.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31283

    Gazans trapped in no man`s land between fire, farmlands
    Amira Hass – Haaretz – HaMoked has made contact with some of the besieged people and has even tried to organize, in coordination with the IDF, food delivery to some 120 people trapped in Siafa. A small part of the equipment, medications and food was delivered on Sunday but delivery was cut short due to the end of the lull in Israeli fire.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054899.html

    Field Update on Gaza
    U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator – ochaopt.org – Civilians, notably children who form 56 percent of Gaza’s population, are bearing the brunt of the violence. As one of the most densely populated places in the world, more civilians risk being killed or injured if the conflict continues. The parties to conflict must respect the norms of International Humanitarian Law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31281

    New Free Gaza ship en route – ambiguous assurances from PM`s office
    Anis Hamadeh/Paul Larudee – Free Gaza Movement – The Free Gaza Movement`s boat “Spirit of Humanity” is currently at sea, en route from Cyprus to Gaza. The movement`s Paul Larudee spoke with Mark Regev of the Israeli PM`s office, seeking seeking assurance that the boat would not be harmed or prevented from entering Gaza with medical supplies and personnel. Regev promised that “Israel will respect international law” but refused to specify how this would translate to actual behaviour of its navy`s gunboats off Gaza.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31275

    American Medical Students` Letter of Solidarity with Gaza
    Rami Abdou/Kirsten Austad – With sadness and urgency we, medical students, express our outrage at the brutal Israeli attacks and subsequent humanitarian disaster that is occurring in Gaza. Medical supplies in Gaza’s overstretched and under-equipped hospitals dwindle. The international community has been slow to respond with aid and even that which is offered is not reaching those in need.
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31278

    Turkey central to Hamas-Egypt talks
    Herb Keinon – Jerusalem Post – An Israeli source said that “Erdogan has removed Turkey from the game. We have lost trust in him.” But this loss of Israeli faith in Erdogan has apparently gained him stature in Hamas`s eyes. [A "strategic alliance" with Turkey had been a cornerstone of Israeli policy since the time of Ben Gurion. Ed.]
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31279

    Israel takes fighting into Gaza suburbs
    Donald Macintyre and Kim Sengupta – The Independent – “Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch called on Israel to refrain from using white-phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas, saying it could badly burn people. And a Norwegian doctor in Gaza City, Mads Gilbert, said there was ‘clear evidence’ that Israel was using ‘a new type of very high explosive’, which caused more severe injuries and carried a cancer risk. The military said its weapons all conformed with international law”
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31253

    Who will save Israel from itself?
    Mark LeVine – Al Jazeera – “With each new family, 10, 20 and 30 strong, buried under the rubble of a building in Gaza, the claim that the Israeli forces have gone out of their way to diminish civilian casualties – long a centre-piece of Israel`s image as an enlightened and moral democracy – is falling apart”
    http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=31260

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English http://www.kibush.co.il and Hebrew http://www.kibush.co.il/index_h.asp

    Articles posted on earlier days are on top in the sections on the homepage http://www.kibush.co.il/#top#top

    Also possibility of searching for articles back to 2004


    TOI-Billboard is the weekly (approximately) ‘ezine’ of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly (approximately) peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

  3. nternational release

    N.B.: We just saw on Israel’s Channel-I prime time TV the hostile coverage of this press conference of Israeli Human Rights organizations – but at least it was shown! Is perhaps the “patriotic concensus” starting to crack?

    From: “Noah Hertz-Bunzl”
    Date sent: Wed, 14 Jan 2009 16:24:51 +0200
    Subject: A Clear and Present Danger: An Israeli Call for Urgent Humanitarian Action in Gaza

    At a press conference held Wednesday in Jerusalem, a coalition of nine mainstream Israeli human rights groups presented a dramatic call to the Government of Israel to act immediately to end further violations of the Law of War in Gaza and relieve the humanitarian crisis in the territory. Ongoing violations were detailed and clear operational demands specified.

    The text of the call can be found attached and below.

    ***

    Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel | Amnesty International Israel Section | Bimkom — Planners for Planning Rights | B’tselem — The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories | Gisha — Legal Center for Freedom of Movement Hamoked — Center for Defence of the Individual | Physicians for Human Rights — Israel Public Committee Against Torture in Israel | Yesh Din — Volunteers for Human Rights

    A Clear and Present Danger

    An Israeli Call for Urgent Humanitarian Action in Gaza

    January 14, 2009

    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

    Defense Minister Ehud Barak

    Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi

    OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant

    Atty. Gen. Menachem Mazuz

    RE: Warning of a clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians

    Since the beginning of the campaign in Gaza on December 27, a heavy suspicion has arisen of grave violations of international humanitarian law by military forces. After the end of the hostilities, the time will come for the investigation of this matter, and accountability will be demanded of those responsible for the violations. At this point we call your attention to the clear and present danger to the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of civilians.

    The level of harm to the civilian population is unprecedented. According to the testimony of residents of the Gaza Strip and media reports, military forces are making wanton use of lethal force which has to date caused the deaths of hundreds of uninvolved civilians and destroyed infrastructure and property on an enormous scale. In addition, Israel is also hitting civilian objects, having defined them as “legitimate military targets” solely by virtue of their being “symbols of government.”

    Caught in the middle are 1.5 million civilians in extreme humanitarian distress, whose needs are not being adequately met by the limited measures taken by the army. That distress is detailed in the Appendix to this letter. Its main points are as follows:

    1. The fighting is taking place throughout the Gaza Strip, whose border crossings are closed, so that residents have nowhere to flee, neither inside the Gaza Strip nor by leaving it. Many are unable to escape from the battle zone to protect themselves. They are forced to live in fear and terror. The army’s demand that they evacuate their homes so as to avoid injury has no basis. Some people who did escape are living as refugees, stripped of all resources.
    2. The health system has collapsed. Hospitals are unable to provide adequate treatment to the injured, nor can patients be evacuated to medical centers outside of the Gaza Strip. This state of affairs is causing the death of injured persons who could have been saved. Nor are chronic patients receiving the treatment they need. Their health is deteriorating, and some have already died.
    3. Areas that were subject to intensive attacks are completely isolated. It is impossible to know the condition of the people who are there, whether they are injured and need treatment and whether they have food, water and medicine. The army is preventing local and international rescue teams from accessing those places and is also refraining from helping them itself, even though it is required to do so by law.
    4. Many of the residents do not have access to electricity or running water, and in many populated areas sewage water is running in the streets. That combination creates severe sanitation problems and increases the risk of an outbreak of epidemics.

    This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.

    The responsibility of the State of Israel in this matter is clear and beyond doubt. The army’s complete control of the battle zones and the access roads to them does not allow Israel to transfer that responsibility to other countries. Therefore we call on you to act immediately as follows:

    1. Stop the disproportionate harm to civilians, and stop targeting civilian objects that do not serve any military purpose, even if they meet the definition of “symbols of government.”
    2. Open a route for civilians to escape the battle zone, while guaranteeing their ability to return home at the end of the fighting.
    3. Provide appropriate and immediate medical care to all of the injured and ill of the Gaza Strip, either by evacuating them to medical centers outside of the Gaza Strip or by reaching another solution inside the Gaza Strip.
    4. Allow rescue and medical teams to reach battle-torn zones to evacuate the injured and bring supplies to those who remain there. Alternatively, the army must carry out those activities itself.
    5. Secure the proper operation of the electricity, water and sewage systems so that they meet the needs of the population.

    Sincerely,

    Atty. Fatmeh El-Ajou

    Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

    Vered Cohen Barzilay

    Amnesty International Israel Section

    Dr. Haim Yaakoby

    Bimkom — Planners for Planning Rights

    Jessica Montell

    B’tselem — The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

    Atty. Sari Bashi

    Gisha — Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

    Dalia Kerstein

    Hamoked — Center for Defence of the Individual

    Prof. Zvi Bentwich

    Physicians for Human Rights — Israel

    Dr. Ishai Menuchin

    Public Committee Against Torture in Israel

    Atty. Michael Sfard

    Yesh Din — Volunteers for Human Rights

    ***

    Appendix: The humanitarian collapse in the Gaza Strip

    Situation Report, January 14, 2009, [Day 19 of Fighting]

    Overview

    As of Wednesday, January 14, 2009, the 19th day of the military campaign in the Gaza Strip, the dimensions of the humanitarian collapse in the Gaza Strip are growing: many injured people are not receiving medical treatment at all, the evacuation of the injured to hospitals is not being permitted, medical teams are being attacked on their way to render aid and the health system in Gaza, especially hospitals, is collapsing. Gaza’s electricity, water and sewage systems are in a state of partial collapse, preventing Gaza residents from accessing clean water and exposing them to the risk of infectious disease and lethal sewage flooding in populated areas.

    ***

    Damage to the health system and prevention of evacuation of casualties

    · Six cases of army shooting at medical teams have been documented by human rights organizations. 12 medical personnel have been killed, and 17 were injured.

    · We know so far of 15 cases of attacks on medical facilities, including a medical supply warehouse, three mobile clinics, a mental health center, the walls and windows of three government hospitals and a number of rescue vehicles. Direct attacks were recorded in the European hospital and the Dura hospital, an UNRWA facility and the Safha Al-Harazin clinic in Shuja’iya.

    · There are delays of an average of between 2 and 10 hours in coordination between the army and the medical teams for evacuation or transfer of casualties. In most cases, the army does not respond at all to the requests made to it. The human rights organizations know of more than 100 civilians who were trapped for more than 24 hours, including dozens of injured, without any medical care, sometimes without water or food either. In one case a family of 21 (including six injured) waited seven days until the army allowed Red Cross representatives to evacuate them. In two other cases families waited more than 36 hours for evacuation. The organizations believe there are other similar cases that have not yet been documented.

    · The Gaza health system is in a state of total collapse after more than a year and a half of continuous closure: a severe shortage of medical equipment and medications, a shortage of skilled personnel, the absence of knowledge and experts to treat complex injuries and more. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, only 30% of the medical equipment and medications permitted to be transferred to the Gaza Strip meet the needs and of its hospitals and are responsive to their shortages.

    · There are 2050 hospital beds in the Gaza Strip (1500 in government hospitals and 550 in private clinics). The intensive care unit at Shifa Hospital was reinforced from 12 beds to 30. Since January 1, 2009 the unit has been at full capacity, even though since January 6, 2009, each day an average of five patients are sent from it to Egypt. The health system is maintaining a 75% capacity at Shifa while at other hospitals, the capacity is 95%. The treatment of chronic patients, including cancer patients, liver patients, dialysis patients and others, has stopped almost completely due to a shortage of hospital beds in the departments and of available doctors.

    · 850 chronic patients and hundreds of injured from the Israeli assaults need to be referred to medical treatment outside of Gaza since December 27, 2008. Of them, just three wounded and a few dozen ill patients have been evacuated to Israel while 250 injured were evacuated to Egypt through the Rafah Crossing. Since January 6, 2009 no additional patients have been transferred to Israel for medical care.

    · Shifa Hospital and the other government hospitals in Gaza city operated without electricity supply using generators for a week between January 3-10. Since January 10, 2009 the hospital has been receiving electricity for 8-12 hours a day. Throughout the month of January the other hospitals in the Gaza Strip have been receiving electricity for an average of 4-8 hours a day. The rest of the time the hospitals rely on generators. In at least one case when a generator broke down at the Al-Quds hospital it remains without any electricity supply and life-saving medical equipment stopped working.

    · Patients who are at home are exposed to heightened risk because of the shortage of electricity, which prevents the regular use of household medical equipment operated by electricity as well as heating devices.

    ***

    Attacks on electricity, water and sewage infrastructures

    Electricity lines, water and sewage pumps and waste collection and treatment facilities have been damaged by the bombardments. The battles taking place in the Gaza Strip prevent most repair work in the absence of security coordination with the army. The same is true of transporting fuel and equipment inside the Gaza Strip. Without electricity, it is impossible to pump water and treat sewage.

    In the 14 months before the military campaign Israel prevented the supply of vital products to the Gaza Strip and thereby emptied it of the fuel, food, medicine and spare parts needed to cope with the severe results of the fighting. There is a severe shortage of fuel needed to operate the power plant in the Gaza Strip as well as the generators that back up the electricity system. There is a shortage of spare parts and equipment needed to perform repairs and maintenance.

    Water and sewage systems

    · More than half a million people are completely cut off from access to clean water, mostly in Gaza City and the northern area. Some of those people have been without access to water for more than 10 days. Many water pipes have been damaged. Without electricity in the homes it is impossible to pump water to the high stories and the water reservoirs on the roofs of the high houses.

    · Sewage is flowing in the streets because of the shortage of electricity for sewage pumps and treatment facilities, due to the damage caused by the bombardments and because of breakdowns that could not be fixed in the absence of security coordination with the army and without the necessary spare parts. In Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, Jabaliya and parts of Gaza City the sewage pumps are not working at all. Since January 3, 2009 it has been impossible to access a sewage pipe in Beit Hanoun that was bombed. Since then sewage has been flowing to the area.

    · Israel is preventing Water Authority technicians from accessing the Gaza City waste treatment facility. Since January 3, 2009 sewage has been flowing to the facility but it is not emptying because there is no one to operate the pumps. In addition on January 10, 2009 one of the sewage reservoirs there was bombed. It is believed that the sewage from the treatment facility and the sewage reservoir has begun to flood the area, but the damage cannot be assessed in the absence of security coordination.

    · Israel is prohibiting access to the Beit Lahiya sewage reservoirs, where the waste level rises every day in the central reservoir and the waste water threatens to flood the area. The reason is destruction of the generator on January 3, 2009 that is supposed to pump the waste into overflow lagoons. Despite requests from international organizations to avoid striking that sensitive area, the area was bombarded again on January 10, 2009 and damage was caused to buildings next to the reservoir. Floods in that area would risk the welfare and lives of some 10,000 residents living nearby.

    · The Gaza Strip water company needs many items that are in short supply including chlorine, pipes, valves and other items. Most of the equipment was ordered months ago but no permission was given to let it in.

    Electricity system

    · At least a quarter of a million residents of Gaza have been living without electricity for 18 days. At any given moment, up to one million people are disconnected from the electricity supply, which makes it difficult to access water, use medical equipment, preserves and refrigerate food and heat homes.

    · Six of 12 high-voltage lines supplying electricity from Israel and from Egypt are not working because of damage caused by the bombardments. The Gaza power plant has been working since January 10, 2009 very partially (at 38% capacity) and manufacturing only 30 MW a day. As a result, the Gaza Strip is receiving a supply of only 48% of the required amount of electricity, at most. It is estimated that because of local breakdowns of lines, the amount of electricity reaching consumers is much smaller.

    · The amount of industrial diesel available at the power plant is 500,000 liters, the amount needed for one single day to operate the three turbines. Another 369,000 liters were transferred to the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz terminal but cannot be shipped to the power plant because of the absence of security coordination.

    · On the night before Tuesday, January 13, 2009, Israel bombed the electric company’s warehouse in Gaza, causing tremendous damage including damage to transformers, cables, low voltage disconnect pillars and additional equipment. Israel had allowed the entrance of this equipment and spare parts into Gaza only four days earlier, after delaying the approval of its entry for months. The stores of the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company were empty before the military campaign since Israel has for months prevented the transfer of spare parts that were ordered and paid for.

    ***

    A predictable humanitarian collapse

    · For the last 14 months Israel has deliberately and consistently restricted the transfer of fuel into the Gaza Strip as part of the Cabinet decision from September 19, 2007 authorizing punitive measures against the residents of Gaza. Instead of fulfilling its duty to provide the civil population with the necessary humanitarian products before launching the military campaign, the Israel drained the Gaza Strip of the fuel, food and equipment needed to cope with the severe results of the fighting.

    · In the two months preceding the military campaign Israel tightened the closure and deliberately drained the Gaza Strip of the industrial diesel needed to manufacture electricity, by preventing its transfer through the Nahal Oz terminal. During those two months Israel allowed the transfer of only 18% of the amount of industrial diesel needed to operate the Gaza power plant, which is only 28% of the amount of industrial diesel the Supreme Court ordered it to provide.

    · For more than three months Israel has been preventing the transfer of the spare parts needed by the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCo) for its current operations. Even at this very moment spare parts are waiting at the Karni Crossing and the Ashdod port.

  4. Your comments about rejecting the necessity for the Gaza war astonishes me and other Jews. No nation in the world would tolerate terrorist missiles being launched randomly at another country. The Hamas cowards put Israel in the terrible position of being forced to wreck Gaza and it is against them, not your politicians, whom your anger should be directed. If you feel you would rather be bombed and live in a country permanently at risk of destruction without any care for its citizens, I would suggest you move to Iran. We Jews in Europe pray for peace but support any measures Israel must take to defend itself. I have 2 cousins in the Israeli army and I know what torment their parents go through when they go off to fight.

  5. Hi Michael Mitchell: then, maybe the Jewish woman Nomika Zion, living in Sderot where, according to the Israeli government, this war is all about, understands better than you in Europe. The death toll in Gaza, mainly of civilians, including hundreds of women and children, during the invasion rose from zero to one to five to 10 to a 100 to 500; to over 1300 now. Did that stop missiles being fired to Sderot and elsewhere? No, it did not. Did that improve the international goodwill of the state of Israel? No, it did not. Did that make the desire among Palestinians for violence against Israel weaker, or did it make it stronger? The latter, I fear.

    Now there seems to be a (sort of) truce. Though one should not be over optimistic, one can hope it will lead to negotiations and peace. That might have been thought about already when the over 1300 victims of this Gaza incursion were still alive, and the thousands of injured were not injured yet.

    It is somewhat ironic that you mention Iran in the context of a government taking “care for its citizens” by, as you think, killing people on the other sides of borders. Because during the Iraq-Iran war, the Iranian government claimed, just like you, that it was “taking care for its citizens” by its violence in the war, for which supposedly Iraq was to blame 100% and the Irianian government supposedly had zero blame.

  6. Pingback: Israeli peace demonstrations | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  8. Pingback: Peace demonstration in Israel tomorrow | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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