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Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe

Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe
by Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories | | Submitted by Michael Munk |

Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe
For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel's 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.

Bush Plan Eliminated Obstacle to Gaza Assault

By Gareth Porter, IPS

WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (IPS) - Until mid-2007, there was a serious political obstacle to a massive conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza: the fact that Hamas had won free and fair elections for the Palestinian parliament and was still the leading faction in a fully legitimate government.

But the George W. Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that obstacle by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power in Gaza. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government -- something Bush had tried unsuccessfully to do for many months.

Blaming the Victims - The Dominant Media Vilify Hamas

Blaming the Victims - The Dominant Media Vilify Hamas
by Stephen Lendman

The blame game - no one plays it better than the dominant media, and they're at it again over Gaza. Expect no comments below in their spaces, yet honest journalism would headline them.

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress - with an appropriating updating for Gaza:

December 27 "will live in infamy." The people of Gaza were "suddenly and deliberately attacked by....air forces of the" State of Israel. The "attack was deliberately planned many (months) ago. During the intervening time (Israel) deliberately sought to deceive (Palestinians) by false statements and expressions of hope for" the peace process.

"The (weekend and continued) attack(s) caused severe damage to" property throughout Gaza. In addition, "many (Palestinian) lives have been lost. The facts (on the ground) speak for themselves....this "unprovoked and dastardly attack" must not go unanswered.

Group: Israel deliberately attacked Palestinian journalists

GENEVA (AFP) — Israel deliberately targeted Hamas-run media installations in its bombing campaign on Gaza and is practising media censorship, a journalist rights group said Monday.

The installations in question include Al-Aqsa television, Al-Resalah newspaper and Sawt Al-Aqsa radio, which the Israeli army bombed on December 28 and over the weekend respectively, the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign said in a statement, citing a Palestinian media non-governmental group.

The press group, which fights for better protection of journalists in conflict zones, also condemned the recent deaths of two journalists as a result of Israeli attacks.

"Two Palestinian journalists were killed one in previous attacks by Israel, photographer Hamza Shahin,who died on 26 December 2008, and another during the current military round on 3 January, Omar Silawi.

Iranian TV Newsman Arrested for Reporting on IDF's Entry into Gaza

Iranian TV newsman arrested for reporting on IDF's entry into Gaza
By Jonathan Lis and Gili Izikovich | Haaretz

An Iranian television reporter was arrested by Israeli authorities on Monday for a dispatch which broadcast news of the Israel Defense Forces' entry into the Gaza Strip.

The journalist is alleged to have violated military censorship laws which forbade the news media from releasing information during the initial stages of the ground incursion.

Israel rains fire on Gaza with phosphorus shells

By Times of London

Photos here.

Israel is believed to be using controversial white phosphorus shells to screen its assault on the heavily populated Gaza Strip yesterday. The weapon, used by British and US forces in Iraq, can cause horrific burns but is not illegal if used as a smokescreen.

Let Palestinians Be the Media

By Alison Fast

I just returned from Israel and the West Bank where Chandler and I learned about the many sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, making it all the more poignant what is happening now upon our return.

In an effort to bring some balance to the one-sided reporting of matters, since the U.S. is such a staunch ally of Israel, we feel it is really important to give Palestinians in Gaza & West Bank a voice at this moment.

How Israel is Multiplying Hamas by a Thousand

Molten Lead in Gaza
By URI AVNERY, CounterPunch

JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT, Aljazeera’s Arabic channel was reporting on events in Gaza. Suddenly the camera was pointing upwards towards the dark sky. The screen was pitch black. Nothing could be seen, but there was a sound to be heard: the noise of airplanes, a frightening, a terrifying droning.

It was impossible not to think about the tens of thousands of Gazan children who were hearing that sound at that moment, cringing with fright, paralyzed by fear, waiting for the bombs to fall.

* * *

“ISRAEL MUST defend itself against the rockets that are terrorizing our Southern towns,” the Israeli spokesmen explained. “Palestinians must respond to the killing of their fighters inside the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas spokesmen declared.

Depleted uranium found in Gaza victims

By Press TV

Medics tell Press TV they have found traces of depleted uranium in some Gaza residents wounded in Israel's ground offensive on the strip.

Norwegian medics told Press TV correspondent Akram al-Sattari that some of the victims who have been wounded since Israel began its attacks on the Gaza Strip on December 27 have traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.

The report comes after Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night, opening a ground operation after eight days of intensive attacks by Israeli air and naval forces on the impoverished region.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Sunday that the wide-ranging ground offensive in the Gaza Strip would be "full of surprises."

A ground offensive in the densely-populated Gaza is expected to drastically increase the death toll of the civilian population.

Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe

By Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, Huffington Post

US Again Stops UN Call for Gaza Truce

Envoy Insists 'No Point' in Security Council Calling for End to Gaza Violence

For the second time in four days, the United States has quashed an attempted United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate end to the war in the Gaza Strip. After the latest rejection, US envoy Alejandro Wolff declared that there was “no point” in the statement, because Hamas (who has previously suggested openness to a ceasefire) would never abide by it. Wolff added that it was unacceptable for the council to equate the killing of civilians by the Israeli government with the killing of civilians by Hamas, and that “Israel’s self-defense is not negotiable.”

Write to UN General Assembly President for Israeli WarCrimes Tribunal

1. Summary

With the Gaza death toll exceeding 400, the Islamic Human Rights
Commission calls on campaigners to send letters to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, to urge the U.N. General Assembly to establish an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI).

2. Background

After five days of consecutive bombardment of Gaza, and an
ever-increasing death toll, demonstrators all over the world are calling for an end to the massacre. Campaigners are urged to continue attending demonstrations and boycotting Israel, and are now asked to send letters to the President of the U.N. General Assembly, urging for the long-overdue establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI), under U.N. Charter Article 22.

On the topic of Israel's current attack on Gaza, Archibishop Desmond
Tutu said on Sunday:

"In the context of total aerial supremacy, in which one side in a
conflict deploys lethal aircraft against opponents with no means of

President-Elect Obama, You Must NOT Be Silent!

by Linda Milazzo

I don't believe in god. I never have. I don't believe in religions. I study them, but I don't practice them. I try to understand them to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of others, and to attempt to appreciate the motivations behind religious thought and deed. But they are irrelevant to living my life.

Long ago as a freshman at CUNY's Queens College I was introduced to Taoism. Taoism began in ancient China as a religion, then morphed into a dogma free/deity free philosophy. Since my late teens I've tried hard to apply MY understanding of my Tao to my life. I have the freedom to choose my own path and not judge the paths of others. But since I have freedom of opinion, I fall prey to judge. I try not to. But I do.

Through the Tao, I'm both a peacemaker and a warrior since Taoism couples with the art of self-defense. I understand my right to protect myself when needed, and to protect the defenseless when they need me. Since I'm by nature protective, it suits my sensibilities to aid the weak, where I fancy myself absurdly as inordinately strong.

Israeli ground forces launch Gaza invasion

By Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli tanks and infantry rolled into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, launching a ground offensive in a widening war against Hamas that the Israeli defense minister said "will not be easy and will not be short."

The ground operation was preceded by several hours of heavy artillery fire after dark, igniting flames in the night sky. Machine gun fire rattled as bright tracer rounds flashed through the darkness and the crash of hundreds of shells sent up streaks of fire.

Artillery fired illuminating rounds, sending streaks of bright light drifting down over Gaza's densely packed neighborhoods. Gunbattles could be heard, as troops crossed the border into Gaza, marching single file. They were backed by helicopter gunships and tanks.

US gives Israel free reign on whether to invade Gaza


The United States gave Israel free reign Friday on whether to send troops into the Gaza Strip, insisting that the key to a ceasefire is an Israeli demand for Hamas to permanently halt rocket fire.

But the White House said it has asked Israel to try hard to avoid civilian casualties as reserves were called up for an expected ground incursion on top of a week of air strikes that has killed more than 400 Palestinians.

"We've been in regular contact with the Israelis," White House deputy press secretary Gordon Johndroe told reporters when asked if US officials were trying to prevent a possible ground offensive.

US officials have urged the Israelis "to be mindful that any of the actions that they're taking in Gaza avoid unnecessary civilian casualties and also to help continue with the flow of humanitarian goods," he said.

What's Happening in Gaza


Please, everyone, stop what you're doing. This is not just any report
from Palestine, but the worst in my lifetime, the worst in 40 years.
At this moment, Israel is raining bombs down on Gaza, an enclosed tiny area that is home to 1.5 million men, women, and children, most of them innocent civilians. This space is tightly sealed by Israel, which constantly denies Gazans electricity, food, medicine, and the ability to leave. Gaza is one big prison being bombed from above. The death toll is up to 428 in the past 7 days. That's more than the number of Israelis killed in the last 7 years. This is what I would call a massacre.

Yes, more Palestinians killed in 7 days than Israelis in 7 years, and
yet no comments from President Bush or President-elect Obama.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice places blame solely on Hamas for

Calling Out Bush's War in Gaza

It may well be that in denouncing "Israel's" attack on Gaza one, in an important way, unwittingly does a disservice to the cause of holding the Bush Administration accountable for its crimes.

Is there any doubt that the Bush Administration approved this assault? Is there any doubt that it could not have taken place without the Bush Administration's approval?

Is there any doubt that it could not continue without the support of the Bush Administration and the protective umbrella of its veto at the UN Security Council? Is there any doubt that it will stop the very day that the Bush Administration says that it must?

If so, is it in the interest of humanity that we Americans engage in the charade that the Israeli government is an autonomous actor in this matter?

All these observations are true in general, but we have plenty of specific evidence in this case.

Gaza Crisis Proves Need for Better Relations with Iran

In response to mounting international pressure for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and Israel, Secretary of State Rice is reportedly engaged in "furious telephone diplomacy with officials in the region, pressing them on the need for a 'durable and sustainable' cease-fire."

The Bush Administration is saying that they don't want an "immediate ceasefire," they want a ceasefire that has certain features, such as a permanent end to Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. This is also, of course, the Israeli position.

Meanwhile, Hamas also has issues with an "immediate ceasefire." They also want a ceasefire that has certain features, such as an end to the blockade of Gaza.

Israel, Hamas, and the Bush Administration all agree. They all want a ceasefire with certain conditions. They disagree on the conditions.

Protesters assemble near Obama compound

By Star-Bulletin

Demonstrators protesting Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip tried to get President-elect Barack Obama’s attention this morning in Kailua.

About six demonstrators assembled near the security checkpoint fronting the entrance to the $9 million rental home where Obama and his family are staying. Some carried signs urging Obama to address U.S. foreign policy when he takes office.

Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel, wore a T-shirt that read: “We will not be silent” and carried a sign that read: “Change U.S. foreign policy. Yes we can.”

Wright, 62, of Honolulu, said the demonstrators represented various groups, including her organization Veterans for Peace.

Other signs read “War is Terror” and “Free Palestine.”

American Jews Call for Immediate Ceasefire, End of Gaza Blockade

Expressing views that are surely representative of American Jews as a whole, here's what some American Jews are saying about the violence in Gaza.

J Street has a petition demanding that the U.S. intervene to bring about an immediate resumption of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas; the petition also calls for lifting the blockade of Gaza.

The petition says:

I support immediate and strong U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to urgently reinstate a meaningful ceasefire that ends all military operations, stops the rockets aimed at Israel and lifts the blockade of Gaza. This is in the best interests of Israel, the Palestinian people and the United States.

The National Lawyers Guild Condemns Illegal Israeli Massacre of over 300 Gazans, Calls for Ceasefire and Urges Participation in

New York. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) condemns Israel's massive bombardment of the Gaza Strip which has left over 300 dead and 1,400 wounded, with the tolls mounting. The Israeli Air Force dropped more than 100 bombs in dozens of locations throughout the Gaza Strip as children left school on Saturday. The dead include men, women and children in school uniforms.

"International law forbids the targeting of civilians," said Radhika Sainath, a civil rights attorney and member of the Free Gaza Committee of the NLG. "Israel must comply with laws of war and the Fourth Geneva Convention." Today's massacre marks an escalation of Israel's two-year blockade of the Strip which has deprived 1.5 million Palestinians of necessary food, medicine, fuel and other necessities. In November 2008, the United Nations stated that it had run out of food to feed over 750,000 needy Gazans.

Norfolk VA Vigil to Protest the Israeli Siege Tomorrow Downtown, 4:30 - 6:30 PM

There will be a vigil Tues. Dec. 30 from 4:30-6:30 pm to protest the Israeli Siege of Palestinians (over 350 Palestinians have been killed, over 1,000 wounded in 3 days) in Gaza. The local vigil will be at the corner of City Hall Ave and St. Paul's Blvd (where the usual peace vigil is organized by Catholic Workers) in downtown Norfolk.

PLEASE COME. During this season of the Moslem New Year, also Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Christmas, and the New Year Holiday, join us in solidarity for those who struggle this week. Please spread the word and COME!

If you have questions about directions or anything email me at .

Albuerquerque NM Protests Gaza Strikes Tomorrow at 2 Protests

1. Tu, 12/30, 12-2pm, Lockheed Martin's Dyna Theatre (1801 Mountain Road in Old Town) (Lockheed "benevolently" shows movies to our kids and simultaneously profits from the bombing of kids in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on and on and on), Albuq

2. Tu, 12/30, 5pm, candlelight vigil and press conf at Federal Court Bldg. on Lomas between 3rd and 4th Streets, Albuq

3. Sat, 1/3, 12-1:30pm, vigil at Central and Tulane in Nob Hill, Albuq

The Hanukkah Massacres

The Hanukkah Massacres
By Gary Corseri

On the seventh day of Hanukkah, 2008, as Jews around the world were lighting the seventh candle on the menorah, commemorating the victorious rebellion of Judah Macabbee and the re-dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem 2200 years ago, a terrorist, Zionist entity, with the approval of the world's last "Superpower" rained down death and destruction on men, women and children herded together on a sliver of the land they had once cultivated and shared with their fellow Semites.

Characteristically, a spokesman for the last Superpower blamed the herded people, the bombed and slaughtered, for their own miseries. It seems these herded Palestinians had had the effrontery to rebel against their Zionist masters in Tel Aviv, London, Jerusalem, New York and Washington.

The Gaza War is Completely Stoppable

We have seen this movie before. In the summer of 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon. Replace "Hizbullah" with "Hamas" and "Lebanon" with "Gaza," and much we have seen in the last few days is depressingly familiar. Once again, the Israeli military assault is justified on the basis of the need to stop rocket attacks on Israel, even though it is widely conceded that this will not be the result. Once again, establishment voices in Washington give carte blanche to the military action, even though few believe it will accomplish its stated objectives, and everyone understands that it will impose a huge political cost for the United States around the world, especially in the Arab and Muslim world.

Israel's Wanton Aggression On Gaza

Israel's Wanton Aggression On Gaza
by Stephen Lendman

Former Palestinian information minister, Mustafa Barghauthi, said: Israel didn't attack Hamas, it attacked "the whole population and the free will of the people of Gaza. (Israel is guilty of) war crimes."

It's not the first time and won't be the last. On December 27, AP reported that:

"Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous attacks, and Hamas and medics reported dozens of people were killed."

Haaretz headlined:

"Israel launched (Operation Case Lead) Saturday morning (at around 11:30AM with no warning) the start of a massive offensive against Qassam rocket and mortar fire on its southern communities, targeting dozens of buildings belonging to the ruling Hamas militant group."

Statements on Gaza From Kucinich and Hoyer: Compare and Contrast

Hoyer Statement on Situation in Gaza
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the developing situation in Gaza: “Israel is acting in clear self-defense in response to heinous rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza. As a sovereign nation, Israel has an unequivocal right to take action to ensure the security and safety of her citizens. Indiscriminate attacks by Hamas are a serious detriment to the peace process in the region.”

Israeli government attacks civilians in violation of international law
WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 29, 2008) — U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich today released the following statement as Israeli attacks on Gaza have gone into a third day with a pending ground invasion of Gaza by Israel:

“Today I sent a letter to Secretary General Ban ki-Moon urging the United Nations to establish an independent inquiry of Israel's war against Gaza. The attacks on civilians represent collective punishment, which is a violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention ( The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better. The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel's right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation,” Kucinich said.

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