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Obama team readying for confrontation with Netanyahu
By Aluf Benn | Haaretz
In an unprecedented move, the Obama administration is readying for a possible confrontation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by briefing Democratic congressmen on the peace process and the positions of the new government in Israel regarding a two-state solution.
The Obama administration is expecting a clash with Netanyahu over his refusal to support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Israel on Trial
By GEORGE BISHARAT, NY Times
CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:
• Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.
The top U.N. aid official in the Gaza Strip urged Israel on Friday to ease restrictions on the flow of goods into the conflict-torn territory, saying they were "devastating" for the people.
"It's wholly and totally inadequate," John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said about the amount of goods Israel permits into the territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.
"It's having a very devastating impact on the physical circumstances and also the mindset of people on the ground," he said.
Israel says it has opened Gaza's border to larger amounts of food and medicine since its December-January offensive against Hamas militants who control the Palestinian enclave and were firing rockets against Israeli towns.
GENEVA (AFP) — Former international prosecutor Richard Goldstone will lead a human rights probe into violence during Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip three months ago, the United Nations said Friday.
"It is in the interest of all Palestinians and Israelis that the allegations of war crimes and serious human rights violations related to the recent conflict on all sides be investigated," Goldstone said in a statement.
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted by a large majority on January 12 to set up the probe into "grave" human rights violations by Israeli forces against the Palestinians.
"I am confident that the mission will be in a position to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the conflict which took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009," said Council president Martin Uhomoibhi.
Israel's Illegal Annexation of East Jerusalem
by Stephen Lendman
So says a confidential EU report revealed on March 7 by The London Guardian's Rory McCarthy. It accuses Israel "of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank (Separation) barrier as a way of 'actively pursuing the illegal annexation' of East Jerusalem." More still, including restrictive permits, "closure of Palestinian institutions," and various other ways to "increase Jewish presence in" the city, "impede Palestinian urban development, and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank" incrementally to annex it.
It says plans are now accelerated and have undermined the Palestinian Authority's (PA) credibility as well as weakened support for peace. It calls "Israel's actions in and around Jerusalem....one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making (yet) have limited security justifications." In addition, they're illegal.
The message from Israel's new prime minister is stark: if the Obama administration doesn't prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, Israel may be forced to attack.
An Atlantic exclusive: http://www.theatlantic.com
Pro-Zionism: Defending the Indefensible
by Stephen Lendman
This article responds to a March 15 Los Angeles Times Judea Pearl one headlined: "Is anti-Zionism hate?" Pearl teaches computer science at UCLA, is the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, and president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. It was "formed....to continue Danny's mission and to address the root causes of this tragedy in the spirit" of the man it represents, including "uncompromised objectivity and integrity....and respect for people of all cultures...."
Some of its honorary board member belie this purpose:
- former president Bill Clinton, an unindicted war criminal and backer of neoliberal plunder;
- Elie Wiesel, a shameless self-promoter, "Holocaust" exploiter, and apologist for the most outrageous Israeli crimes;
- Jordan's Queen Noor, wife of King Abdullah II, who, like his father Hussein, rules with dictatorial police state powers; and
Courage of Conscience Speaking Tour Combatants for Peace: Israel and Palestine
WHEN: Friday March 27th 7:30-9:30 PM
WHERE: St. Columbia's Episcopal Church 4201 Albemarle St. NW DC 20016 - One block from the Tenleytown Metro.
Former Soldier, Former Fighter - Yaniv Reshef and Bassam Aramin.
Israeli Yaniv Rashef, whose home is range of Gaza missiles, was a soldier in a sabotage unit of the Israeli Army - and chose to fight no more.
Palestinian Bassam Aramin served seven years in jail for planning an attack against Israeli soldier - and chose no more violence. Just two years ago, Bassam lost his daughter to an Israeli soldier's rubber-coated bullet. Their movement, Combatants for Peace, numbers over 600 former Israeli soldiers and former Palestinian fighters, working together without revenge to build justice, peace, and a playground in memory of Abir Aramin.
Incriminating Evidence of Israeli War Crimes in Gaza
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout its history, Israel has willfully and repeatedly committed crimes of war and against humanity, always with impunity. Yet under customary legal standards and norms (including Geneva, Hague, the UN Charter, S.C. and G.A. resolutions), it's lawless, a serial abuser, a threat to the region and humanity, mostly as an oppressive occupier. Attacking Gaza is the latest episode in its six-decade reign of terror satisfying the definition of genocide against defenseless Palestinian civilians. This article covers more evidence from some disturbing but unsurprising newly published information.
Terror in the Holy Land
Message of Peace from Gaza
Grassroots in Gaza
Murder on the beach
UN relief Center in Gaza
Viva Palestina leaves Gaza
Jabylia destroyed by American Bombs
Rachel Corrie's Father in Gaza
America Funded Murder on the Beach in Gaza
Traditional Dancing in Palestine
Zionist Gunboat Threatens Gazan Fishermen
IDF Soldiers Ordered to Shoot at Gaza Rescuers, Note Says
by Amira Hass | Haaretz
"Rules of Engagement: Open fire also upon rescue," was handwritten in Hebrew on a sheet of paper found in one of the Palestinian homes the Israel Defense Forces took over during Operation Cast Lead. A reservist officer who did not take part in the Gaza offensive believes that the note is part of orders a low-level commander wrote before giving his soldiers their daily briefing.
One of the main themes in news reports during the Gaza operation, and which appears in many testimonies, is that IDF soldiers shot at Palestinian and Red Cross rescuers, making it impossible to evacuate the wounded and dead. As a result, an unknown number of Palestinians bled to death as others cowered in their homes for days without medical treatment, waiting to be rescued.
The bodies of the dead lay outside the homes or on roadsides for days, sometimes as long as two weeks. Haaretz has reported a number of such cases, some of them as they happened. The document found in the house provides written proof that IDF commanders ordered their troops to shoot at rescuers.
The sheet of paper entitled "Situational Assessment" was found by a field researcher of The Palestinian Center for Human Rights in the home of Sami Dardone's family in Jabal al-Rayes, east of Jabalya. The extended Dardone family lives in about 40 homes in this neighborhood, built on a hilltop. Some of the homes were taken over by the army to house troops during the offensive and to serve as sniping positions, or for shooting in general.
Col. Wright: "Incredible Crime Committed on Gaza"
Col. Ann Wright, US Army, Ret., and a former high ranking U.S. Diplomat, just returned from Israeli Occupied Gaza. She said:
Rabbis affiliated with the Israeli army urged troops heading into Gaza to reclaim what they said was God-given land and "get rid of the gentiles" — effectively turning the 22-day Israeli intervention into a religious war, according to the testimony of a soldier who fought in Gaza.
Literature passed out to soldiers by the army's rabbinate "had a clear message — we are the people of Israel, we came by a miracle to the land of Israel, God returned us to the land, now we need to struggle to get rid of the gentiles that are interfering with our conquest of the land," the soldier told a forum of Gaza veterans in mid-February, just weeks after the conflict ended.
The Israeli army has been forced to open an investigation into the conduct of its troops in Gaza after damning testimony from its own front line soldiers revealed the killing of civilians and rules of engagement so lax that one combatant said that they amounted on occasion to “cold-blooded murder”.
The revelations, compiled by the head of an Israel military academy who declared that he was “shocked” at the findings, come as international rights groups are calling for independent inquiries into the conduct of both sides in the three-week Israeli offensive against Palestinian Islamists.
Israel was last night confronting a major challenge over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians.
The testimonies – the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military – are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the operation. In one of the testimonies shedding harsh new light on what the soldiers say were the permissive rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead, one soldier describes how an officer ordered the shooting of an elderly woman 100 metres from a house commandeered by troops.
Israeli military officials Thursday announced an investigation into charges of misconduct by troops involved in the 22-day incursion into Gaza.
The military police has been ordered to look into allegations from soldiers involved in Operation Cast Lead, which began in December and lasted in January, that other troops shot at unarmed civilians, vandalized property and otherwise strayed from strict rules of engagement.
Israel News said an Israeli military spokesman assured that the investigation was being taken seriously and that individual unit commanders were being encouraged to speak candidly about the conduct of soldiers involved in the operation.
There are very worrying signs about Israel and Iran, amid new threats from Israeli officials that they won't long tolerate Iran's nuclear program before they strike militarily. But, at the same time, there are reports that President Obama's national security team isn't buying the Israeli line that time is running out.
For instance, a top Israeli military official, in Washington, was not exactly given the red carpet treatment by Obama's top officials -- yet even so, he met Jim Jones, Obama's national security adviser, Hillary Clinton, and Dennis Ross.
Ann Wright’s March 9, 2009 interview on Grit-TV on International Women’s Day in Gaza
Ann Wright’s article “With The Women of Gaza On International Women’s Day: We Will Not Be Silent!
Ann Wright’s February 9 interview on Gaza on Grit TV Israel’s Crimes http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/2009/02/10/israels-crimes/
Ann Wright’s article “The Israeli Smashing of Gaza and International Silence”
Ann’s article “Under Siege Again, But Gaza Will Not Die”
Ann’s article “Can Gaza Be Rebuilt Through Tunnels?”
We thank all who continue to remember Rachel and who, on this sixth anniversary of her stand in Gaza, renew their own commitments to human rights, justice and peace in the Middle East. The tributes and actions in her memory are a source of inspiration to us and to others.
Because one man, conceding defeat, didn't issue the typical statement indicating that he preferred to spend more time with his family, and instead launched a frontal attack on those who had attacked him, the foreign policy equation in Washington might have changed in discernable ways last week. On withdrawing from his nomination as director of the National Intelligence Council, Charles Freeman, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a rare provocative thinker in Washington, let loose with a broadside against his enemies. Of accusations from the generally right-wing groups and individuals who claim to represent the Jewish community in official Washington, he wrote:
By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press
JERUSALEM (AP) - An American demonstrator was critically wounded Friday in a clash between protesters and Israeli troops over Israel's West Bank separation barrier.
Peace activists with the International Solidarity Movement said Tristan Anderson, of the Oakland, Calif., area, was struck in the head with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops. The military and the Tel Aviv hospital where Anderson was taken had no details on how he was hurt.
"He's in critical condition, anesthetized and on a ventilator and undergoing imaging tests," said Orly Levi, a spokeswoman at the Tel Hashomer hospital. She described Anderson's condition as "life-threatening."
WASHINGTON, Mar 13 (IPS) - Although the successful campaign to keep Amb. Charles "Chas" Freeman out of a top intelligence post marked a surface victory for the pro-Israel hardliners who opposed him, the long-term political implications of the Freeman affair appear far more ambiguous.
Freeman’s withdrawal has provoked growing - if belated - media scrutiny of the operations of the so-called "Israel Lobby", and aroused protests from a number of prominent mainstream political commentators who allege that he was the target of a dishonest and underhanded smear campaign that, among other things, accused him of shilling for the governments of Saudi Arabia and China.
A newly-released recording of Osama bin Laden compared Israel's January military strikes in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust and renewed the al-Qaida leader's condemnation of Arab states for, in his view, failing to support the Palestinians.
A brief audio recording of bin Laden was aired by the Al-Jazeera satellite channel. Its authenticity could not be immediately verified. It refers to the Israeli military operation in Gaza in December and January, and charges that Arab states were, in bin Laden's words, "complicit with the crusader-Zionist alliance against our people."
Israel's War Crimes
Israel blamed its earlier wars on the threat to its security, even that against Lebanon in 1982. However, its assault on Gaza was not justified and there are international calls for an investigation. But is there the political will to make Israel account for its war crimes?
by Richard Falk | LeMonde
For the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948 the government is facing serious allegations of war crimes from respected public figures throughout the world. Even the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, normally so cautious about offending sovereign states - especially those aligned with its most influential member, the United States - has joined the call for an investigation and potential accountability. To grasp the significance of these developments it is necessary to explain what made the 22 days of attacks in Gaza stand shockingly apart from the many prior recourses to force by Israel to uphold its security and strategic interests.
In my view, what made the Gaza attacks launched on 27 December different from the main wars fought by Israel over the years was that the weapons and tactics used devastated an essentially defenceless civilian population. The one-sidedness of the encounter was so stark, as signalled by the relative casualties on both sides (more than 100 to 1; 1300-plus Palestinians killed compared with 13 Israelis, and several of these by friendly fire), that most commentators refrained from attaching the label "war".
Iran Nuke Myth Heats up
Retired Amb. Chas Freeman, who said today that he no longer accepts an offer to chair the National Intelligence Council, has just sent this message:
You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.
By Robert Parry
The neoconservatives have demonstrated that their power in Washington remains strong as they have succeeded in keeping veteran diplomat Chas Freeman out of a top intelligence job. READ IT.
Timidity Derails Obama Intel Choice
By Ray McGovern
On Tuesday morning, Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, employed the indicative mood in describing the high value that Chas Freeman, his appointee to head the National Intelligence Council (NIC), will bring to the job — “his long experience and inventive mind,” for example. READ IT.
Chas Freeman's own comments:
I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. READ IT.
A lasting ceasefire was urgently needed to keep Gaza crossings open, which will allow the Palestinian economy to recover, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
In a message to a UN seminar on assistance to the Palestinian people in Cairo, Mr. Ban called for a “proper and durable” end of hostilities to “allow for a return of calm” to Gaza and southern Israel.
“The situation at the crossings is intolerable,” he said, stressing the need for Israel to ease the closure.
The overall humanitarian situation in Gaza remains unchanged, according to an update from the office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory.
Yoni Goodman, director of animation for the Academy Award-nominated film, "Waltz with Bashir", talks about the process of making his new animated film on the closure of Gaza together with the human rights group Gisha.
Click "Read more" to see the animation's making and goal.
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserve Colonel
“Would women in Gaza really celebrate International Women’s Day?” was the question members of our 58 person delegation from United States, Canada, Pakistan, France, Australia, Egypt, Dubai and Turkey asked as we travelled from Cairo to the Gaza border.
In less than three weeks, the delegates had responded to an appeal by Codepink: Women for Peace to join an international delegation to try to go into Gaza at the invitation of the United Nations Works and Relief Agency of Gaza (UNWRA).
Women of Gaza have so little to celebrate.