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This writer's September 21, 2009 article titled "Goldstone Commission Gaza Conflict Findings and Reactions" explained the following:
On April 3, 2009, a UN press release stated:
"The Human Rights Council (HRC) today announced the appointment of Richard J. Goldstone....to lead an independent (four-person) fact-finding mission to investigate international human rights and humanitarian law violations related to the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip....The team will be supported by staff of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights....Today's appointment comes following the adoption of a resolution by the Human Rights Council....to address 'the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip."
Established by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006, the HRC's 47 member states are "responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe."
As a former South African Constitutional Court justice, Goldstone is a respected jurist. He also served as chief prosecutor for the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals and is a Hebrew University board member. As a Jew, he promised to be fair and even-handed, and "hope(s) that the findings....will make a meaningful contribution to the peace process....and will provide justice for the victims."
At the time, Israel refused to cooperate, Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, saying: "This committee is instructed not to seek out the truth but to single out Israel for alleged crimes." He then accused the Council of having "practically (no) credibility at all."
On September 15, the HRC released the Commission's 575 page report, titled Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories: Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
It covered Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza siege, the impact of Israel's West Bank military occupation, and much more including:
I am honored to be a part of the latest international citizen effort to break the Israeli and Egyptian governments’ siege of Gaza. This week, hundreds of persons from 20 countries will challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza in an eight ship flotilla.
An international coalition composed of Free Gaza Movement, European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza, and the Turkish non-governmental organization Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) is sending three cargo ships and five passenger vessels to Gaza from Ireland, Greece and Turkey.
While the citizens mobilize, their governments are receiving intense diplomatic pressure from the Israeli government. On Monday, May 17, 2010, Naor Gilon, the Israeli Foreign Ministry deputy director general, told the ambassadors of Greece, Ireland, Turkey, and Sweden that the attempt to break Israel’s blockage Gaza " is a provocation and a breach of Israeli law," and that "Israel has no intention of allowing the flotilla to enter Gaza," according to a ministry statement.
Arabic-language news station Al-Hurra reported that “about half of the Israeli naval forces will participate in an operation that was approved by the cabinet” and that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will supervise the operation. Israel will prevent the boats from reaching Gaza "at any price," an Israeli security source told the Ma'an news agency.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) provides weekly snapshots of Israeli killings, targeted assassinations, arrests, home demolitions, destroyed farmland, assaults on peaceful protesters, community incursions, home invasions, and more besides full-scale attacks at its discretion - a decades-long onslaught against 1.5 million Gazans and over 2.5 million West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians.
On May 11, a recent assault occurred in the West Bank's Lubban Al-Sharqiya village when settlers attacked a local mosque, set it ablaze and gutted it. Israeli fire-fighters blamed it on an electrical short-circuit, later investigations showing arson was responsible, what Palestinians knew all along.
A village spokesperson said the mosque was undergoing renovations, its electricity turned off in the section where the fire broke out. Other villagers heard cars arrive around 3AM and saw settlers entering the mosque. They tore down curtains to start the blaze, stacked Qurans next to a bathroom, and arranged shoes on the pile in the shape of a Star of David to desecrate them and the mosque.
Besides security force assaults, attacks like this happen often against Palestinian homes, businesses, vehicles, farmland, and livestock - even children on their way to school. Rarely are charges ever brought, giving settlers license to commit crimes with impunity, including cold blooded murder.
Last Thursday, May 20th, the House voted 410 - 4 to pass HR 5327, giving Israel an additional $205 million in military aid so that they could purchase an "Iron Dome" missile defense system. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c111:2:./temp/~c11180CEBa::
This is on top of the $3 billion that we will be giving them this year as part of a 10-year package.
Here's just one of the "findings" in the bill:
"(4) Regional stability and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians requires that Israel can ensure the safety of its population against rocket, missile, and other threats."
Oh, I get it now! So really by giving Israel $3,205,000,000 in military aid, we're really helping the Palestinians be safer and more secure. Right.
Dirty Linen Gets Intel Chief Fired
By Ray McGovern
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of how 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab soiled his underpants with a makeshift bomb over Detroit last Christmas hung out so much dirty linen on the crowded clothes line of the U.S. intelligence community that it was an easy call to get rid of Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair.
The Senate committee’s findings released on Tuesday showed the community in all-too-familiar disarray — adrift with no helmsman strong, savvy and courageous enough to bang heads together to get the far-flung intelligence bureaucracies to cooperate. The report is a damning catalogue of misfeasance and mistakes.
Two Italian Supermarket Chain Suspend Sales of Products From Settlements In the Occupied Palestinian Territories
TWO ITALIAN SUPERMARKET CHAINS SUSPEND SALES OF PRODUCTS FROM SETTLEMENTS IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES | Press Release
An important success for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli apartheid
Ethnic Cleansing & Genocide Defined In Less Then 100 Words
By Jeff Prager | Facebook
Of Gaza’s 640 schools, 18 were completely destroyed and 280 damaged in Israeli attacks. Two-hundred-and-fifty students and 15 teachers were killed.
Of 122 health facilities assessed by the World Health Organization, 48 per cent were damaged or destroyed.
Ninety per cent of households in Gaza still experience power cuts for 4 to 8 hours per day due to Israeli attacks on the power grid and degradation caused by the blockade.
Forty-six per cent of Gaza’s once productive agricultural land is out of use due to Israeli damage to farms and Israeli-declared free fire zones. Gaza’s exports of more than 130,000 tonnes per year of tomatoes, flowers, strawberries and other fruit have fallen to zero.
That "much of Gaza still lies in ruins," a coalition of international aid agencies stated recently, "is not an accident; it is a matter of policy". This policy has been clear all along and it has nothing to do with Israeli "security".
It's called Ethnic Cleansing & Genocide and just like Israel, I lied, there's more than 100 words.
Charles M. Young
In the spring of 1994, I went to the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York where I encountered a large red-faced man with white hair. He had the look and manner of Santa Claus, minus the beard, and he was standing behind a table from which he was selling audio and video cassettes of lectures by Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and other prominent anarchists, socialists, communists and even some vaguely progressive Democrats. He was also selling photocopies of an interview I had done with Noam for Rolling Stone.
“Hey,” I said, “that’s my interview with Noam Chomsky!”
“Cool,” said the large, red-faced man. “Would you mind if I crash on your couch tonight? I came all the way from Maine and I don’t have a place to stay.”
The University of San Francisco School of Law Center for Law and Global Justice and the Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic, in association with the Berkeley-based Human Rights Advocates, work for global abolition of juvenile life without parole (LWOP) sentencing, calling it inappropriate for children and illegal.
In November 2007, they published a report titled, "Sentencing Our Children to Die in Prison," making their case, saying:
- children given LWOP are "condemned to die in prison;"
- dispensed in adult courts, they ignore the "less(er) culpability of juvenile offenders; their ineptness at navigating the criminal justice system; their potential for rehabilitation, reintegration into society," and known child development principles "established through national standards and international human rights law;"
- only two countries impose LWOP sentences - the United States and Israel, America having 99.9% of all cases; however, nine others permit them, but no known cases exist in - Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Brunei, Cuba, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Sri Lanka; two other countries, South Africa and Tanzania, abandoned the practice;
- Black children are ten times more likely to get LWOP than while ones, and in California it's 20 - 1; in other words, the darker one's skin, the greater the risk for harsh sentencing, and if rich, the chance is practically nil;
- LWOP "violates international human rights standards of juvenile justice;" Article 37 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) prohibits sentencing children under 18 to LWOP or death; imprisoning them should be a last resort for "the shortest appropriate period of time;" all countries ratified it except Somalia and America;
- Article 24 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) requires children to be protected by their status as minors, and under the UN Convention Against Torture, LWOP amounts to cruel, unusual or degrading treatment.
The construction of sections of a controversial segregated road network in the West Bank planned by Israel for Palestinians – leaving the main roads for exclusive use by settlers – is being financed by a US government aid agency, a map prepared by Palestinian researchers has revealed.
USAid, which funds development projects in Palestinian areas, is reported to have helped to build 114km of Israeli-proposed roads, despite a pledge from Washington six years ago that it would not assist in implementing what has been widely described by human rights groups and the Israeli media as Israel’s “apartheid road” plan.
To date the agency has paid for the construction of nearly a quarter of the segregated road network put forward by Israel in 2004, said the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ).
The roads are designed to provide alternative routes to connect Palestinian communities, often by upgrading circuitious dirt tracks or by building tunnels under existing routes. Read more.
Ameer Makhoul is an Israeli citizen, human rights activist, and head of the internationally recognized Ittijah NGO, engaged in "strengthen(ing) and empower(ing) the Palestinian people within the Green Line (1.5 million Israeli citizens by) promoting the development of Palestinian civil society and advocating for political change, economic and social development."
He's also chair of the Public Committee for the Defence of Political Freedom within the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee in Israel.
On May 10, Haaretz writers Jack Khoury, Amos Harel and Asshel Pfeffer headlined, "Two Israeli Arabs arrested on suspicion of spying, contact with Hezbollah," saying:
"Reports of the arrests circulated widely on unofficial websites and blogs, but government censors had banned the Israeli press from reporting them until the gag order was lifted late Sunday night," May 9.
Makhoul's brother, Assam, a former Hadash MK, "said the family had no details of the investigation but they suspected authorities had singled out the activist because of his campaigns against the government's 'racist and discriminatory policies' against Israeli Arabs."
He's well known as a regular participant in conferences on the topic and for actively criticizing government policies.
Hussein Abu Hasin, a lawyer familiar with these type cases, told Haaretz that Israeli espionage charges are so vague and wide-ranging that incidental Internet chats or phone conversations with anyone about anything might be used as a pretext to prosecute for communicating with someone in an "enemy state." Hasin called these laws "draconian," and in the case of Makhoul:
"sparked outrage among Arab organizations and rights groups, who claim that (he and other activists are) disappeared from their homes in the middle of the night. (The) courts (are also) at the beck and call of security services, who often bar suspects from visits with lawyers or from obtaining legal counsel."
Israel's naval forces are allegedly in training to prepare to seize eight boats scheduled to dock in the Gaza Strip on 24 May from Europe, Arabic-language media reported on Wednesday.
"About half of the Israeli naval forces will participate in an operation that was approved by the cabinet. [Israeli] Defense Minister Ehud Barak will supervise the operation," an Israeli official told the Arabic-language satellite TV station Al-Hurra.
An Israeli security source told Ma'an that authorities will prevent the arrival of the boats "at any price."
The Freedom Fleet is scheduled to set sail from the UK, Greece and Turkey. The European Free Gaza campaign said Israeli authorities informed them that the flotillas would be prevented from docking in Gaza.
The boats will be loaded with prefabricated homes, cement, and medicine and will be accompanied by 600 individuals in a bid to break the siege on Gaza. Read more.
General 'tried to cover up truth about death of Rachel Corrie'
Israeli war hero accused of suppressing testimony that could reveal what really happened to Gaza activist
By Ben Lynfield | General 'tried to cover up truth about death of Rachel Corrie' | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
But according to a military police investigator's report which has now emerged, the "commander" of the D-9 bulldozer was giving testimony when an army colonel dispatched by Major-General Almog interrupted proceedings and cut short his evidence. The military police investigator wrote: "At 18:12 reserve Colonel Baruch Kirhatu entered the room and informed the witness that he should not convey anything and should not write anything and this at the order of the general of southern command."
The commander was a reservist named Edward Valermov. He was in the bulldozer with its driver. In his testimony before he was ordered to stop, he told military police investigators that he had not seen Ms Corrie before she was wounded. Alice Coy, a former ISM volunteer activist who was near Ms Corrie during the incident said in an affidavit to the court that "to the best of my knowledge the bulldozer driver could see Rachel while pushing earth over her body."
Seven years after the American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, evidence has emerged which appears to implicate Israel's Gaza commander at the time, in an attempt to obstruct the official investigation into her death.
The alleged intervention of Major-General Doron Almog, then head of Israel's southern command, is documented in testimony taken by Israeli military police a day after Ms Corrie was killed on March 16, 2003. The hand written affidavit, seen by The Independent, was submitted as evidence during a civil law suit being pursued by the Corrie family against the state of Israel.
Ms Corrie, who was 23 when she died, was critically wounded when a bulldozer buried her with sandy soil near the border between Gaza and Egypt. The American, wearing a fluorescent orange jacket and carrying a megaphone, was among a group of volunteers from the anti-occupation International Solidarity Movement who over a period of three hours on that day had sought to block the demolition by Israel of Palestinian homes.
The Israeli military has maintained that its troops were not to blame for the killing of Ms Corrie and that the driver of the bulldozer had not seen her. It accused Ms Corrie and the ISM of behaviour that was "illegal, irresponsible and dangerous". Three days after Ms Corrie's death, the US state department announced that the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had promised the US President George Bush that the Israeli government would undertake a "thorough, credible and transparent investigation". Read more.
Israeli Hypocrisy: Talking Peace While Preparing for War and Institutionalizing Dire Conditions in Gaza
On May 8, Haaretz Service and Reuters headlined, "PLO executive committee approves new peace talks with Israel," saying:
"The Palestinian Authority on Saturday got the green light to restart peace talks with Israel after the PLO's executive voted to approve indirect negotiations," excluding Hamas - the legitimate government after Palestinians overwhelmingly elected them in January 2006. Instead, coup d'etat leader (whose presidential term expired in January 2009) Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will participate, PLO spokesperson Yasser Abed Rabbo saying that "negotiations will take one form: shuttling between President Abu Mazen (Abbas) and the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu." Talks have now begun.
Obama's Middle East special envoy, former Senator and Walt Disney chairman, George Mitchell will do the honors, trying to force Palestinian negotiators to accede to Israeli demands and declare success, until inevitable new violence forces a restart of the whole process at some future time. The charade continues.
Recurrent negotiations have gone on for decades, always with the same result. Rita Mae Brown (in her book "Sudden Death"), and some say Albert Einstein, called it insanity, or the practice of "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In this case, results are what Israel predetermines, Palestinians having no say whatever about a process designed to fail.
...The report reveals why the 2010 Non-Proliferation Review Conference at the UN – like the GAO – isn’t really capable of challenging the true drivers of Middle East nuclear proliferation. “Nuclear Diversion in the U.S.? 13 Years of Contradiction and Confusion” is a report so unique and noble in intent that there will probably never be another like it. While it leaves unexplored the ongoing presence, influence, and effect of Israel’s lobbyists working at the center of U.S. presidential administrations, for concerned Americans the GAO provides a snapshot of a moment in time before their Congress, aspiring politicians, and mid-level management of government agencies all “got the memo.”
In 2010 that unwritten memo reads something like this: Crimes committed in the name of Israel – no matter how audacious – will never be properly investigated, let alone prosecuted… so don’t waste your time.
...But the 11-year gap “obviously hampered” the effort. The GAO revealed that the DOE’s nuclear materials safeguards, which before 1967 tracked the monetary value rather than the precise mass of the uranium, were seriously flawed. NUMEC claimed key records covering a period of heavy uranium loss were destroyed during a “labor dispute” in 1964. NUMEC paid a $1.1 million fine for 206 pounds of missing uranium in 1966, which closed the DOE case. NUMEC also hired away one of the DOE’s chief on-site investigators to enhance the appearance of serious materials control and accountability. The GAO found that even by 1978 the FBI had not contacted key individuals in the affair. An FBI agent-in-charge told the GAO it did not investigate the source of funds to pay NUMEC’s DOE fine anticipating “legal difficulties.” So the GAO investigated the matter, placing its own telephone calls to Mellon Bank.
The GAO report is highly critical of the CIA: “From interviews with a former CIA official and with former and current officials and staff of DOE and the FBI we concluded that the CIA did not fully cooperate with DOE or the FBI in attempting to resolve the NUMEC matter.” The report is inconclusive about exactly what happened at NUMEC, but not about the agencies involved in the investigation through 1978. “We believe a timely, concerted effort on the part of these three agencies would have greatly aided and possibly solved the NUMEC diversion questions, if they desired to do so.” Read more.
From TomDispatch this afternoon: Signs are everywhere that change is in the wind when it comes to Obama administration policy towards Israel and the Palestinians -- but behind the rumors of change lies a deeper choice for Washington -- Ira Chernus, "Blood or Treasure? Obama's Crucial Choice in the Middle East."
"Writing about U.S. Middle East policy used to be a boring job," begins TomDispatch regular and professor of religious studies Ira Chernus in his latest post. "You’d start out with 'The U.S. supports Israel’s stand on . . .' and then just fill in the details. No longer. Many pundits claim to smell the winds of policy change blowing from the White House. Every word about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the president or his advisors is now parsed by journalists like so many soothsayers studying oracle bones."
For the first time in a long while, change does seem to be in the wind (and the rumor mills) of Washington, when it comes to American policy toward Israel. There are hints that President Obama is threatening to move toward trying to impose, or at least press, a peace plan on both the Israelis and the Palestinians; the previously unacknowledged Israeli nuclear arsenal is now a topic of conversation here; and the Israelis are increasingly anxious.
Always a canny observer, Chernus lays out the sorts of actions Washington would have to take to involve both the Israelis and the Palestinians in a genuine peace process -- and then he digs deeper, behind the rumors and anxieties of the moment, to explore a choice that Washington will have to make, which he sums up in a phrase President Obama used recently: Blood or treasure?
Will Washington try to organize a peace process around its own imperial interests (and its campaign against Iran) or will it do so around the issue of saving human lives -- American, Israeli, and Palestinian? As he carefully explains, it's an either/or situation. Both are not an option. He concludes: "The brewing debate about U.S. Middle East policy could, and should, spawn a larger debate here on the question: Is empire the path to national security or the greatest threat to national security? Which do we value more: blood or treasure?" This is a stirring look at a changing situation. Don't miss it. Read it now.
We're almost ready. Our vessels are being loaded with construction materials, specialized medical equipment, generators, pre-fab homes, water filtration units, and school supplies for the children. Israel allows only 81 items into Gaza, forcing the people to use tunnels to bring in supplies, barely keeping their economy at subsistence level.
When asked why they refuse to allow supplies into Gaza, Israeli authorities stated, “If we disclose what is allowed in and why...it would damage our national security and harm foreign relations.” BBC, May 3, 2010
Therefore, we intend to open a sea route that will belong to the Palestinians. Gaza is the only territory on the Mediterranean that has no right to its sea, no right to fish more than a mile off its coast, no right to send out its flowers, vegetables and fruit for trade to other nations. Israel’s cruel blockade has shut 1.5 million Palestinians into an open-air prison, allowing only a trickle of aid through.
We cannot stand by and watch the people slowly starve and lose hope. Since our governments appear to be impotent, we civilians from around the world are stepping up instead.
We carry the hopes and dreams and prayers of thousands who have supported us over these past ten months, and we take those well wishes with us to the people of Gaza.
So for the next few weeks as we finish loading supplies and passengers, we will upload messages and well wishes like this one. Watch for them and send your own wish to us. Become a part of this citizen’s initiative by joining our Newslist, TWITTER account, Facebook page and YouTube list, all on the front page of our website.
Write to your representatives demanding they put Israel on notice for our safety and the safety of our cargo.
Then watch our journey from the live feed on our website at www.freegaza.org beginning soon.
Established in 1998, the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (BRC) "defend(s) and promote(s) the rights of Palestinian refugees and IDPs (to) advance (their) collective rights." In January 2010, BRC published a report titled, "Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, 2008 - 2009."
Its web site explains the problem:
- Palestinian refugees and IDPs are "the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today;"
- in 2007, of a global 9.8 million Palestinians, about seven million are refugees and another 450,000 internally displaced;
- they include 1948 Nakba victims, more from the 1967 Six Day War, new ones from continuous dispossessions for settlement expansions, and land seizures inside Israel;
- many thousands were displaced from the Jordan Valley, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and within Israel to cleanse Arab neighborhoods for Jewish only development;
- Palestinians in host countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria are also vulnerable to displacement; further, the 2003 Iraq war forced 34,000 Palestinian refugees to leave the country; and
- over six decades after their 1948 displacement, Palestinian refugees and IDPs are still denied solutions and reparations for their rights under international law and UN resolutions.
Former U.S. Diplomat, and U.S. Army/Army Reserves veteran, Ann Wright, a retired Colonel, described how Palestinians are being slaughtered again in the “border zone” at Gaza/Egypt. She traveled to Gaza three times in 2009. Col. Wright, who is also a CODEPINK activist, denounced the ongoing “collective punishment,” which is the fate of the Palestinians under the Israeli onslaught. In her remarks, she also referred to “The Goldstone Report,” and to the case of Rachel Corrie. See: Goldstone Report and Rachel Corrie. For more on Col. Wright and also Gaza, go to: Gaza Death Zone and Wikipedia: Ann Wright.
Col. Wright’s comments were made on Thursday, April 29, 2010, at a “Teach-In on Capitol Hill,” held in Room 2168 of the Rayburn House Building, in Washington, D.C. The forum dealt with the question of what the U.S. Congress must do to end the U.S. Wars and secure a peaceful Middle East. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) served as the host/moderator for the forum. For more details on this event and its sponsors, go to: Teach In on Capitol Hill: What Congress Must Do to End U.S. Wars and Help Secure a Peaceful Middle East.
During a recent visit, a 50-person European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza (ECESG) assessed conditions on the ground firsthand, one year after Operation Cast Lead:
"to collect and document the facts, and then return to our respective countries and the European Parliament to push for actions that will bring immediate humanitarian relief and an end to the siege, as well as peace and justice to the Palestinian people," what they've long been denied under a repressive occupation.
ECESG calls itself:
"an umbrella body of non-governmental organizations across Europe that advocates (for) the fundamental right of the Palestinian people in Gaza to live in peace and dignity without being subjected to any form of collective punishment....ECESG supports the restoration of (Gazans') inalienable rights....and lobbies for pressure to be exerted on (Israel) to lift its siege and end the human tragedy there."
Meetings were held with Palestinian Legislative Council members, Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, and UNRWA Director of Operations, John Ging.
Areas toured were most affected, including Izbet Abet Rabu, the Al-Fakhoura School, and the Al-Salam neighborhood. Delegates also met with Al-Samouni family survivors who lost 23 members during the war.
They saw firsthand what human rights and various international organizations documented, including the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Goldstone Commission's damning indictment of Israeli crimes of war and against humanity after its extensive 2009 fact finding mission.
The combination of destructive war, siege, and humanitarian crisis has been well reported. Nonetheless, ECESG's report is important because it's current and by 50 European parliamentarians and ministers, able to reach other high level officials at home, perhaps with enough clout for action - if not now, toward it happening sooner.
Hamas: Egypt Forces Gas, Kill 4 Tunnel Smugglers | CBS News
Egyptian Forces Pumps Gas Into Cross-border Smuggling Tunnel, Killing 4 Palestinians
Egyptian forces pumped gas into a cross-border tunnel used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, killing four Palestinians, Hamas officials said.
Egypt has been under pressure to seal off the hundreds of tunnels that are a key economic lifeline for the blockaded Palestinian territory but which are also used to bring in weapons for the Islamic militant group.
Israel and Egypt have kept Gaza's official border crossings closed since Hamas seized control of the coastal strip in 2007 from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who now only governs in the West Bank.
A Hamas security official in charge of the tunnel area along the border said the Egyptians filled the passage with some type of crowd dispersal gas. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name. Read more.
Teach In on Capitol Hill:
What Congress Must Do to End U.S. Wars and Help Secure
A Peaceful Middle East
April 29, 2010
Rayburn Building, U.S. Congress
Statement by Retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat
I am a retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel and served 29 years in the Army and Army Reserves. I also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.
I was on the small team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001 and was in Afghanistan until May, 2002.
Seven years ago, on March 19, 2003, I resigned as a U.S. diplomat in opposition to the Iraq. In my March 19, 2003, letter of resignation (http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0303/032103wright.htm)
GAZA DEATH ZONE: Israelis and Egyptians are Killing Palestinian Youth Who Challenge the Siege of Gaza
By Ann Wright
The Palestinians in the Death Zone called Gaza are being slaughtered again as Israel and now Egypt kill and wound more innocent civilians who challenge their illegal siege, blockade and quarantine.
In the past four days, one young Palestinian man has been killed and two young women and a young man have been wounded by Israeli snipers as they protested the Israeli bulldozing of 300 meters of Palestinian land into an Israeli “buffer zone.” Four young Palestinian tunnel workers have been killed by suffocation and 6 injured as Egypt sprayed a crowd disbursal gas into a tunnel.
Death in the Tunnels from Egyptian Gas and from Israeli Bombs
To the ASUC Senate,
We the undersigned Nobel Women Peace Laureates support your courage and call on you to reaffirm the ASUC Bill in Support of UC Divestment from War Crimes. We stand united in our belief that divesting from companies that provide significant support for the Israeli military provides moral and strategic stewardship of tuition and taxpayer-funded public education money. We are all peace makers, and we believe that no amount of dialogue without economic pressure can motivate Israel to change its policy of using overwhelming force against Palestinian civilians. Last year’s nearly 400 women and children casualties in Gaza, and thousands more injured and killed, were all victims of a well armed military machine allowed to operate unchecked. A delegation of us went to Gaza and saw firsthand the evidence of wholesale killing and destruction. Our hearts grieve for Gaza and we demand that there be no more Gazas. We urge the UC system to take the lead in this direction as has been its tradition, and commend the students who are working to achieve this goal. We reject the portrayals of this action as anti-Semitic, and maintain that it does not make a choice between Palestinians and Israelis, but between universal freedom and oppression.
Shirin Ebadi, Iran, 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate
Mairead Maguire (Corrigan), Ireland, 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate
Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Guatemala, 1992 Nobel Peace Laureate
Jody Williams, USA, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate
Israeli bulldozers today destroyed a garden and children’s playground in Beit Jala, and 100 fruit and olive trees in Al Walaja, both in the Bethlehem district, to make way for the continued construction of their illegal apartheid wall. Soldiers present used violent force to remove Palestinian, Israeli and international activists who attempted to prevent the destruction. Two Israelis were arrested immediately, and six internationals were later arrested.
In Beit Jala, this is the second time, that this particular garden and playground has been bulldozed. A legal injunction preventing further destruction expired this week. Following the previous demolition, in early March, local Palestinian residents and international supporters rebuilt the playground and planted new olive trees in the garden. All these were today destroyed.
Twelve people, representing six different nationalities, sat in front of the Caterpillar bulldozer as it moved up to the garden. Soldiers forcefully removed all twelve, several of whom sustained minor injuries, and one of whom was hospitalized with suspected broken ribs after his stomach was repeatedly stamped upon by one of the soldiers.
After soldiers forced everyone but the owners of the garden up to the road above, they joined approximately 50 other internationals and local residents to hold a demonstration which lasted into the evening. Overlooking the wreckage of the morning’s destruction, the protesters chanted and sang, asking only to be allowed back down to the house, where bulldozing had finished, to speak with the family there. Late in the afternoon, six activists, from the USA, Italy, Spain, Germany and France, managed to access the house via a back route, bringing food in to the family, before being arrested by Israeli Border Police, accused of illegally entering a Closed Military Zone. Read more.
TomDispatch: A Middle East Peace That Could Happen (But Won’t), In Washington-Speak, ‘Palestinian State’ Means ‘Fried Chicken
From TomDispatch, today: Noam Chomsky’s powerful exploration of why a genuine settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could be reached, if it weren’t for the intransigence of the Israelis -- and Washington. It’s an excerpt, adapted and newly introduced by the author, from his upcoming book, Hopes and Prospects -- Noam Chomsky, “A Middle East Peace That Could Happen (But Won’t), In Washington-Speak, ‘Palestinian State’ Means ‘Fried Chicken.’”
“The fact that the Israel-Palestine conflict grinds on without resolution might appear to be rather strange,” begins Noam Chomsky in his latest post for TomDispatch.com. “For many of the world’s conflicts, it is difficult even to conjure up a feasible settlement. In this case, it is not only possible, but there is near universal agreement on its basic contours: a two-state settlement along the internationally recognized (pre-June1967) borders -- with ‘minor and mutual modifications,’ to adopt official U.S. terminology before Washington departed from the international community in the mid-1970s.”
What follows is a vivid, powerfully argued explanation of just how -- and why -- both Israel and Washington, have been “acting in tandem to extend and deepen the occupation” of Palestinian lands and increase Israel’s stranglehold on a desperate Gaza, a place it had “no credible pretext” to attack in 2008–9, even though it did “with full U.S. support and illegally using U.S. weapons.”
This post also lays out just why the Obama administration’s policy on Israeli settlement building is anything but new and, even if successful, would evade the most crucial settlement issues. This is Chomsky at his most powerful. Don’t miss it. Read it now.
Protesting Elliott Abrams in Baltimore
On Sunday, April 25, 2010, Human Rights activists, in Baltimore, MD, protested Elliott Abrams. He was a speaker at a Zionist-sponsored symposium on the Middle East, held at the plush Suburban Country Club. Abrams was involved, as an official with the Ronald Reagan Administration, in the Iran-Contra scandal. He was convicted of “withholding information” from the Congress. While Abrams was also working for Reagan, a Far Right regime was in charge in El Salvador. When a massacre occurred in and around the village of El Mozote, in El Salvador, in Dec., 1981, Abrams insisted the claims of a massacre were “propaganda.” Later, events established that “more than 500” people were slaughtered by an army battalion. Mr. Abrams has consistently denied any wrongdoing on his part during his public career. Many others sharply disagree with that view. For some background, check out: The Truth of El Mozote and Elliot Abrams. It's Back! and Elliott Abrams: The Neocon’s Neocon.