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Israel blocks pasta shipment to Gaza, and tensions boil
By Dion Nissenbaum | McClatchy Newspapers
For more than seven weeks, the international aid group Mercy Corps has been trying to send 90 tons of macaroni to the isolated Gaza Strip as part of a global campaign to help the 1.4 million Palestinians there rebuild their lives after Israel's recent devastating 22-day military operation.
Israel, which controls most of what goes into and out of Gaza, has said no repeatedly.
At first, Israeli officials said that they wanted to make sure that the macaroni wasn't destined for a Hamas charity. Then they said macaroni was banned because they didn't consider it an essential food item.
On Wednesday, days after American lawmakers raised pointed questions about the macaroni ban, Israeli authorities said that they were preparing to give the pasta a green light.
Targeting Israel with Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions, and Prosecutions
by Stephen Lendman
Enough is enough. After 61 years of Palestinian slaughter, displacement, occupation, oppression, and international dismissiveness and complicity, global action is essential. Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won't do it, so grassroots movements must lead the way.
In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote:
"The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure - in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation."
On Friday, 16 January, Mohammed Shurrab and his two sons, Kassab and Ibrahim, took advantage of the daily lull in the Israeli assault – the ‘three hours’ promised by the IDF – to travel from their plot of land in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip back to their home in Khan Younis. They were driving a red Land Rover. On the road, soldiers in a tank waved them on. Later, in the village of Al Fukhari, in a street lined with small houses and gardens, their vehicle was shot at by soldiers stationed on the roof of a local home. Kassab was killed instantly. Ibrahim lay bleeding beside his father; he died at midnight. Mohammed Shurrab had called for help on his cellphone, but the army prevented ambulances from entering the area until 23 hours after the shooting. The closest hospital was two minutes’ drive away.
Israel’s Attack on Gaza: Legitimate Self Defense or War Crime?
A two-part International Lawyers Without Borders interview with Dr Franklin Lamb | 7 February 2009 | Dissident Voice
Part I: What Law Applies?
Interviewer’s Note: On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a devastating 22 day and night bombardment of the Gaza strip. The assault left, amidst an estimated 600,000 tons of concrete rubble, some 1,740 dead (this figure includes more than 350 ‘forgotten’ stillbirths and trauma-caused abortions in Gaza during the 22 days of terror), a figure that increases as the severely injured continue to die. A majority of the victims were civilians, including nearly 900 (again including the stillborn) children, approximately 5,500 severely wounded, and more than one third of the 1.5 million population was displaced while more than 14,000 homes were completely destroyed. Approximately 92,000 Palestinians are still homeless with more than 16,000 living as many as 20 to a small tent without latrines, as supplies remain blocked at the borders.
Single-limb fractures and the walking wounded are not included in the above figures, according to renowned British surgeon Dr. Swee Ang, currently conducting an on-the-ground medical investigation in Gaza. Dr. Swee and her medical colleagues estimate that of the severely injured, 1,600 will suffer permanent disabilities. These include amputations, spinal cord injuries, head injuries, and large burns with crippling contractures.
Also bombed were 68 government buildings and 31 NGO complexes, buildings all of which were completely or partially destroyed. Property damage and loss of livelihood has been estimated at close to 2 billion dollars.
On February 4, 2009, the Government of France strongly protested Israel’s refusal to allow in donated filtration equipment for drinking water, given that much of Gaza’s population have not had clean drinking water for weeks. As the massive human and material destruction continues to be documented by journalists, investigators and relief workers, the international pressure for accountability increases.
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AFP) — The Palestinian Authority urged the US president on Monday to press Israel to scrap a plan to raze almost 90 homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.
"We call on President Barack Obama to intervene personally to have this project stopped," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, one of the main aides of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
The Palestinian owners of 88 houses in the Silwan neighbourhood have received eviction notices saying that the structures will be destroyed because they were built or expanded without the necessary permits. The move would affect about 1,500 people.
"It is a massacre that Israel will commit in this Holy City," Abed Rabbo told a news conference, calling for "urgent Arab and international action to halt this dangerous project."
He said some of the houses affected by the orders had been built before Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War.
A new report released just hours ago reveals that U.S.-made white phosphorus artillery shells among other U.S. weapons were found throughout Gaza. When white phosphorus munitions are used in densely-populated civilian areas as Israel has, it violates international humanitarian law’s prohibition on indiscriminate attacks and amounts to a war crime.
In light of this new finding, we are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to immediately call for:
* an investigation into Israel’s use of U.S. arms in Gaza
* a suspension of U.S. military aid to Israel and
* to urge the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict
Samia Salman Al-Manay'a, 16 years old, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house on January10th. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she spoke to our delegation.
"The pain is piercing. It's as though a fire is burning in my body. It's too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong."
George Galloway on Gaza
Can Gaza Be Rebuilt Through Tunnels?
The Blockade Continues—No Supplies, No Rebuilding
By Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel and former U.S. diplomat
How do you rebuild 5,000 homes, businesses and government buildings when the only way supplies come into the prison called Gaza is through tunnels. Will the steel I-beams for roofs bend 90 degrees to go through the tunnels from Egypt? Will the tons of cement, lumber, roofing materials, nails, dry wall and paint be hauled by hand, load after load, 70 feet underground, through a tunnel 500 to 900 feet long and then pulled up a 70 foot hole and put into waiting truck in Gaza?
An Arab League official said Saturday that a league mission was heading to Gaza to investigate allegations that Israel committed war crimes during its recent offensive against Hamas.
League spokesman Hisham Youssef said the mission would prepare a detailed report for league head Amr Moussa and take the necessary legal procedures.
But these are simply images of what Israel did to Gaza with weapons we paid for.
Once You See What Truly Happened in Gaza, It Will Change You Forever
By Medea Benjamin | Alternet
What I saw was like a form of collective punishment, leaving behind a trail of grieving mothers, angry fathers and traumatized children.
When I traveled to Gaza last week, everywhere I went, a photo haunted me. I saw it in a brochure called "Gaza will not die" that Hamas gives out to visitors at the border crossing. A poster-sized version was posted outside a makeshift memorial at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. And now that I am back home, the image comes to me when I look at children playing in the park, when I glance at the school across the street, when I go to sleep at night.
RAMALLAH, Feb 17 (IPS) - Israel is bracing for a wave of lawsuits accusing the Jewish state of substantial human rights violations during its 22-day military assault on Gaza which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and nearly 5,000 wounded, more than half of them civilian.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have confirmed that phosphorous bombs were used over Gaza. It is against international law to use phosphorous in densely crowded civilian areas.
According to Amnesty, Israel tanks also fired flechettes, 4cm long metal darts in civilian neighbourhoods. Shells containing 5,000 to 8,000 flechettes explode in the air and scatter in a conical pattern over an area about 300m wide and 100m long.
Fascist Rule in Israel
by Stephen Lendman
On February 10, Israel held parliamentary elections for 120 seats in its 18th Knesset. The process repeats every four years unless the body calls an earlier election by majority vote. The prime minister may also ask the president to request one early that will proceed unless the Knesset blocks it. Parliamentary terms may be extended beyond four years by special majority vote. Israel has no constitution.
Under Article 4 of its Basic Law: The Knesset:
"The Knesset shall be elected by general, national, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections, in accordance with the Knesset Elections Law." Every Israeli citizen 18 or older may vote, including Arabs who are nominally enfranchised, may serve in the parliament, but can't govern or in any way influence policy.
THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION (EAFORD) offers this petition to the United Nations for the Creation of a Special Tribunal to Try Israeli War Criminals.
To: President and Member States of United Nations General Assembly
To President and Member States of United Nations General Assembly
The Creation of a Special Tribunal to try Israeli War Criminals
Recalling that Israel was created by virtue of a General Assembly Resolution in 1947 against the wishes of the indigenous population of Palestine;
GAZA - February 19 - Two Members of Congress, Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and Brian Baird (D-Washington) visited Gaza on Thursday to view first-hand the destruction from recent Israeli air and ground attacks, and to meet with international and local relief agencies.
The visit, which did not have the official sanction of the Obama Administration, is the first time anyone from the United States government has entered into Gaza in more than three years.
Prior to entering Gaza, the Congressmen met with the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, and traveled to the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet with Dr. Riad Malki, Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority.
On Friday, Ellison and Baird will tour the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have been the targets of numerous rocket attacks, repeatedly launched from within the Gaza strip, and which Israel has said are one of the root causes for their recent actions into Gaza.
It is well-known outside the United States that a key obstacle, if not the key obstacle, to Israeli/Palestinian peace is the relationship between Israel and the United States. To say that the U.S. "supports Israel" severely misstates the problem: the key problem is the perception and the reality that the U.S. almost unfailingly protects the Israeli government from the negative consequences of anti-Palestinian policies, such as the recent military assault on Gaza, so that while rhetorically the U.S. is committed to peace, in practice the incentives that have been created and maintained by U.S. policy have had the effect of constantly pushing the Israeli government towards more confrontation with the Palestinians, rather than towards accommodation.
Revealing Words of an Israeli Columnist
By Ann Wright
I travelled to Gaza last week with Medea Benjamin and Tighe Berry of Codepink: Women for Peace. We were allowed by the Egyptian government to enter Gaza for only 48 hours.
I knew that 1026 of the 1330 who were killed in the Israeli attacks on Gaza were civilians. Of the 1026 civilians, 282 were children, 111 women, 168 civilian policemen and 501 civilian men died in Israeli bombings. 274 have been classified as combatant deaths.
I knew that the estimates for the cost of reconstruction to the destruction done by Israeli bombing is over $2 billion. After seeing the destruction in Gaza City, I thought I would be prepared for North Gaza. I had heard the damage done by F-16s and tanks was substantial, but I was stunned by the large number of apartment buildings and industries that had been blown up and destroyed by the Israeli military in the northern Gaza border region with Israel.
A three-person delegation from the peace group CODEPINK just returned from Gaza, entering through the Egyptian border at Rafah. We were able, in a short period of time, to see the terrible devastation and meet with human rights, medical, and women’s organizations.
We found the people of Gaza very anxious to have foreign delegations come to learn about their plight and push for an end to the blockade. That is why we are organizing a delegation to return to Gaza in time for International Women’s Day, March 8. The March delegation will be hosted by the Women’s Division of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
There is always the possibility that the Egyptian government won’t let us cross the border. In that case, we plan to set up an encampment near the border to call attention to the need to open the borders and end the siege of Gaza.
by Linda Milazzo
CODEPINK Women For Peace will be traveling to Gaza on March 6th. The purpose of their mission is to provide "humanitarian and emotional support to women and women's organizations and exert pressure on US, Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace and human rights in the region."
In advance of their trip, CODEPINK has created a petition that asks signers to write President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, to request that he meet with the women of Gaza. As an American Jew who opposes Israel's inhumane treatment of Palestinians, I answered CODEPINK's call, signed the petition, and wrote a letter to Mr. Mitchell. The letter that follows is my personal statement to Mr. Mitchell and not the statement of CODEPINK.
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserve Colonel
In a tent in front of Shifa hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, a sign on the photo of a young child bleeding from wounds from the Israeli attack on Gaza read “Gaza Will Not Die.”
Shifa hospital received hundreds of bodies of those killed and thousands of those wounded during the December 27, 2008-January 18, 2009 22 day attack, invasion and occupation of Gaza by the Israeli military.
Rep. Delahunt has taken a constructive step by introducing a resolution in support of former Senator Mitchell's diplomacy for peace. Supporting this resolution should be a no-brainer - even your Representative can do it. [You can ask your Representative to sign on here; the list of co-sponsors, 50 at this writing, is here.]
NO MORE BLANK CHECK FOR ISRAEL!
Declaration and Signatures Being Sent to President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Middle East Envoy Mitchell
By Kathy Kelly
People have asked me, since I returned from Gaza, how people manage? How do they keep going after being traumatized by bombing and punished by a comprehensive state of siege? I wonder myself. I know that whether the loss of life is on the Gazan or the Israeli side of the border, bereaved survivors feel the same pain and misery. On both sides of the border, I think children pull people through horrendous and horrifying nightmares. Adults squelch their panic, cry in private, and strive to regain semblances of normal life, wanting to carry their children through a precarious ordeal.
Day 2 in Gaza: Ann’s diary
Posted by Ann Wright
Medea Benjamin, Tighe Barry and I (retired Col. Ann Wright) arrived Jan. 29 in Cairo for a 10-day trip to Gaza, but only spent two days there before Egyptian authorities ordered all foreigners to leave by Feb. 5. But we called for an opening of the borders, were shown the Egyptian-Gazan underground tunnels, met with women’s aid groups to organize a fundraising effort for the women of Gaza for March 8, International Women’s Day. Here’s my account of Day 2 in Gaza:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Addresses European Parliament
In a speech to the European Parliament, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told members that Israel needed to be "held responsible for their war crimes." The speech focused entirely on the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza and humanitarian efforts to residents in the area.
A Short History of the Israeli - Palestinian Conflict: Past Is Prologue
by Stephen Lendman
Its roots are from the late 19th century when Theodor Herzl founded modern Zionism at the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897.
In his book "Overcoming Zionism," Joel Kovel writes:
Zionism seeks "the restoration of tribalism in the guise of a modern, highly militaralized and aggressive state. (It) cut Jews off from (their) history and led to a fateful identity of interests with antisemitism (becoming) the only thing that united them. (It) fell into the ways of imperialist expansion and militarism, and showed signs of the fascist malignancy."
By Cynthia McKinney
Hello, as you know I am in Malaysia upon th invitation of former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and his wife, Tun Dr. Siti. The information presented today in the Forum for Palestine was compelling, so much so that one of the doctors could not contain his sadness, anguish, and love. I say love, because anyone in the medical profession who would take the time to go to Gaza, in the middle of a war, and refuse to leave the Rafah checkpoint until the Egyptian authorities allowed them in demonstrates a pure love of mankind. I will make a more complete report later, after I have had the opportunity to completely digest what I saw today. I want to share just a bit of it with you now.
WE MUST NOT BE SILENT! WE WILL NOT BE SILENT!
In solidarity with the people of Gaza, who are being forced by the Israeli government to live in inhuman conditions under a brutal occupation, please join us for a 24-hour street protest in front of the offices of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, which promote and defend Israeli policies.
Thursday, February 12, 9 a.m. - Friday, February 13, 9 a.m.
633 Third Ave (40/41st Sts, east side of Third Ave)
NEW YORK CITY
IT'S NOT THE ROCKETS, IT'S THE OCCUPATION!
JEWS SAY NO TO THE MASSACRE
JEWS SAY NO TO THE BLOCKADE
JEWS SAY NO TO THE OCCUPATION
JEWS SAY YES TO JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
Please come for an hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, or more -- during
the day or night! Allies are encouraged to join us.
Signs and visuals will be available.
NEVER AGAIN: NOT IN GAZA, NOT ANYWHERE