Author: Eva Bartlett

UN predictions fall short: Gaza uninhabitable today

The coastal road bridge linking central Gaza to Gaza City, targeted again in Nov 2012. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com

 

Dec 21, 2014, RT Op-Edge

-By Eva Bartlett

Five months ago the world watched in horror as the bully of the Middle East, Israel, launched the most brutal massacre on the Palestinians of Gaza since the Nakba (perhaps more brutal, Palestinian friends in Gaza have said).

Lasting over twice as long as the 2008-09 war on Gaza (formerly the most-brutal massacre since the Nakba), and killing over 800 more Palestinians than in the attack six years ago, the July-August 51-day offensive killed 2,131 Palestinians and injured over 11,000, and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, buildings, businesses, hospitals, Gaza’s only power plant and other key components of Gaza’s infrastructure.

Palestinian and foreign activists and journalists within the 40 kilometer-long strip of open-air prison tweeted and live-streamed images more horrific than the best Hollywood productions. Weathered journalists broke down sobbing at the sight of Palestinian civilians, especially children being targeted like prey by one of the world’s most wickedly powerful armies and navies. Doctors who have seen the mutilated corpses and scarcely-living bodies of Palestinian elderly, men, women and children many times before were yet still appalled by the brutality of these latest attacks.

Worldwide, protesters, journalists of integrity called the bombardment of Gaza genocidal (as Israeli officials and politicians called for genocide). One of the most shocking of many images was that of 4-year-old Saher Abu Namous‘s half blown-off head, his father cradling him and wailing. Entire families were murdered in this latest Israeli offensive. Not for the first time, the Israeli army bombed schools hosting internally displaced, hospitals (including a rehabilitation hospital for disabled and invalid), and entire neighborhoods.

As with prior military operations, the Israelis in 2014 targeted water and sewage lines, electricity networks, hospitals, primary health centers, ambulances and medics, bridges and major roads, key governmental buildings, schools and universities.They went further and attacked water, electricity and sanitation personnel, killing at least 14, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted. The resulting electricity, water and sanitation crises are such that until November, power was out 18 hours a day, and just 10 percent of the 1.8 million Palestinians get water once a day (for a matter of hours). As of mid-November, Oxfam reported, power cuts were 12 hours per day in some areas.

While the bombs rained down, some Israelis pulled up seats to watch the bloodshed, as 21st Century Wire noted: “Old sofas, garden chairs, battered car seats and upturned crates provide seating for the spectators. …Some bring bottles of beer or soft drinks and snacks. …Nearly all hold up smartphones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke.”

The Israeli army used the same banned weapons on Palestinians this summer that they’ve used in the past two massacres, as well as “armour piercing bombs” which have “high explosive capabilities” and were used on Palestinian homes. Weapons-seekers flocked to Israel after seeing the effects of its weaponry and technology. Israel’s weapons industry thrives with each massacre of the Gaza testing ground.

Strangling and starving Gaza

In September 2005, the 8,500 Israeli colonists finally, unwillingly leave their homes on stolen land. With no Jewish colonists in Gaza, Israel has since been free to lock-down all of Gaza and bomb whenever the whim occurs, with no fear of any Israeli loss of life. The Israelis have waged wars against Gaza every year or two since pulling their colonists out.

Since the June 28, 2006 Israeli repeating bombing of Gaza’s sole power plant—destroying all six transformers – Palestinians in Gaza have neither been allowed to import the transformers and materials needed to rehabilitate the plant, nor offered an alternative solution. Through the now-destroyed tunnels, Palestinians did import smaller transformers and got the power plant hobbling again, but never to full capacity.
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Convening for Palestine

Delegate Feroze Mithibowala at the conference.

Delegate Feroze Mithiborwala at the conference.

December 8, 2014, Crescent-online

Beirut, Eva Bartlett:
As the Zionist state increasingly and openly reveals its criminal, apartheid nature, more and more citizens from around the world are waking up and standing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice. Activists, academics, journalists, unions and ordinary people are confronting the lies of Zionist propaganda, rendering the Zionist narrative weak and its genocidal, colonial agenda opaque.

Rather than leaving the issues of justice, the return of Palestinian refugees, the release of Palestinian Political Prisoners from Zionist jails, the Palestinian just struggle for sovereignty, and ending the siege on the Palestinians of Gaza to institutions and governments, Palestinians and supporters take matters into their own hands, among other actions organizing conferences to share strategies and successes and build networks.

Over 80 delegates from around the world attended the Second “Global Convention of Solidarity With Palestine” in Beirut for two days of discussions (December 1-3), including delegates from Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Senegal, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, North America, Britain, Europe, Russia, Iran, among other nations. Notably, delegates from Gaza under siege and other areas of occupied Palestine were unable to make it to the conference due to the Zionist, and sadly the Egyptian, control of border crossings.

Special focus was put on the Zionists’ summer massacre of Gaza and on the ongoing assaults on Palestinians in al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the openly-admitted intent to Judaize Jerusalem and all of occupied Palestine.

“Two hundred thousand people came out to demonstrations to support Gaza. That’s even more than when Mandela was released,” said South African delegate Firoz Osman, of Media Review Network.
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Mads Gilbert: “I saw beheaded children in Gaza, I have pictures… what we see in Gaza, is by definition pure state terrorism.”

When he shares stories of Gaza, ‘the Palestinians change from being terrorists to being humans’, Gilbert says [AP]
Dec 7, 2014, Al Jazeera

[not endorsing Al Jazeera, but Mads Gilbert’s words deserve to be heard]

When called to return to Gaza to help out in al-Shifa hospital, doctor Mads Gilbert was denied access with valid papers. 

Gilbert told Al Jazeera that he was turned away at the Erez border crossing after Israeli authorities deemed him a “security risk”. After asking for an explanation, Gilbert was threatened with arrest.

Al Jazeera: Did you just get a note from the Israelis saying you are no longer allowed to come back?

Mads Gilbert: No, actually, I had been in Gaza in June for three weeks on an assignment for the UN and they had applied for a multiple entry visa for me, which I got from the Israeli army. It was a multiple entry visa valid until the 11th of November. So I went in on that to do the job for the UN, stayed for three weeks, wrote up the report and went home to Tromso in Norway to pick up my call in the helicopter.

It is a week-long call. While I was on call in my helicopter, the bombing started. I went back to Amman over the Allenby Bridge to Erez. I showed my papers in the guard house, and he called up and he said ‘you are not allowed in’. I told him that my papers are valid and he said ‘no, we have a security problem with you and I can’t tell you what’.

So I called the commander at Erez and he was very cross and he said ‘we have orders from the higher authority of security and we have a security problem with you’, so I asked if they can tell me what the problem is and he said, ‘it’s none of your business and if you don’t leave the premises we will call the police, I will arrest you’.

So I called my ambassador and I called Tel Aviv. My diplomatic missions there and my minister of foreign affairs called them and they said ‘there is no way he is getting in’.

So I returned to Norway and the Norwegian authorities, my minister for foreign affairs, formally inquired and asked why and they only get the response that there is a security issue from Shin Bet Mossad.

Interestingly, the minister for foreign affairs has been protesting this denial of entry formally; they do not accept it. They have asked Israelis to reverse this denial, citing that it is inconceivable and unacceptable that humanitarian staff should not be allowed in to support Palestinians in a difficult situation on the medical side.

AJ: What do you think the reason is for them not letting you in?

MG: I think the truth is the security risk because when I, as a white medical doctor with blue eyes and white hair, tell the real story of the realities in the sharp end of the Israeli attacks, the Palestinians change from being terrorists to being humans, the numbers change from being numbers to being people, and the children appear as yours and my children.

So when I write my articles and when I do my research, and when I publish in The Lancet and when I write my books, this is actually a danger to the Israeli narrative and, in a way, the global reputation of Israel, which is partially falling apart now.
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Bashar al-Assad: “What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations.”

Our Full Interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

-from: Paris Match

The Full Paris Match interview of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, granted in Damascus on November 28th.

Paris Match: Mr. President, three years into this war, and considering how things have turned out, do you regret that you haven’t managed things differently at the beginning, with the appearance of the first signs of the revolution in March 2011? Do you feel that you are responsible for what happened?
Bashar el Assad: Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism. It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice. We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made in practice. There are always mistakes. Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes.

Paris Match: Your army is blamed for its excessive use of force during this war. Why are civilians shelled?
Bashar el Assad : When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people, with dialogue?! The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years? If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense.
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Astonishing Pictures of Christian Palestine

Eva Bartlett:

Excellent compilation of photos not often shown, showing not only Palestine’s history but also showing the coexistence that the media does not show.

Originally posted on Krishan The Orthodox Singh:

When Western Christians think of Palestine, they seldom think of the native Palestinian Arab Christians, who’s ancestors were among the first Christian peoples to accept Christianity. I’ve compiled a collection of snapshots from various sources of Christian civilization in Palestine from before the Nakba (the Catastrophe) to the present. From the flourishing golden days of the civilization to it modern culture of noble resistance.

Sure knocks the undies off those uneducated “Christian Zionists” and “Restorationist Zionists” who coined the slogan: “A land without a people for a people without a land” to justify their ethnic cleansing, mass land theft, and genocide and those who make the dense claim that there’s some sort of sectarian issue between Palestinian Arab Muslims against Palestinian Arab Christians.

Seriously, the next time you hear bs like that from a Zionist smack them with the kuffiyeh of justice, by sharing this article. ;)

ALSO, check…

View original 528 more words

“Oh, my Syria!”

In a different area of Lebanon, I meet another Syrian, this time from the Aleppo outskirts. He is wiry, with grey hair though not yet 50, and a bright face, his presence emanating peace and calm… in spite of what he has gone through and lost.

He and his wife and children have been here about a year, leaving behind their home and his work as a tailor. Here, he cleans the simple lodging where I’m staying.

He is a Kurd, from the Syrian village of Ifreen, and while he says he says he would like to have Kurdish taught in schools, he insists that his area was never supportive of the insurgents, nor with the west’s manufactured “revolution“. [An interesting aside, but Armenians in Syria have founded public institutions to teach their language.]

“It isn’t a revolution,” he says (contrary to what an insistent pro-“revolution” foreigner insisted the other day, also insisting if I hear otherwise–in Syria or here–it’s because they are afraid to speak.  Well, once again, here  is a Syrian, uninhibited and not afraid to voice his opinion, and his opinion echoes the countless Syrians I’ve encountered in Syria and Lebanon).

Here he is, a Kurd, who corporate media and talking heads would say is demanding “freedom” and “revolution“. But he’s not demanding those things.  And he’s adamant that if there were to be a “revolution”, it wouldn’t have unfolded as the crisis in Syria has these past few years.  “What is that? Stealing from us, beheading us, destroying my country?  How is that a revolution? If it was a revolution, you target the government not the people, not the history.”

I’ve seen the same nostalgic eyes and heard the same “oh, my Syria“.

He speaks of President al-Assad with admiration, praising his demeanor, refusing the western narrative that he’d want someone else as President. […I’ve heard this before…(Freedom)].  I look around for lurking thugs pressuring him to speak thus. But there is only this man, speaking from his heart.

Sharmine Narwani’s MUST READ: “Stealing Palestine: Who dragged Palestinians into Syria’s conflict?”

 

Palestinian "volunteer forces" stand guard while NGOs tend to Yarmouk camp residents receiving food aid, medical assistance and evacuation.

Palestinian “volunteer forces” stand guard while NGOs tend to Yarmouk camp residents receiving food aid, medical assistance and evacuation.

Palestinians didn’t jump into the fray in Syria. They were dragged into it – violently and reluctantly. Here is the story of how and why Palestinians and their 14 refugee camps became strategic targets in the Battle for Syria.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She tweets @snarwani
November 10, 2014, RT Op-Edge
A small UNRWA van delivers boxes of staple foods to Yarmouk camp residents who wait at a pick-up point. Bread donated by the Syrian government lies atop the boxes.

A small UNRWA van delivers boxes of staple foods to Yarmouk camp residents who wait at a pick-up point. Bread donated by the Syrian government lies atop the boxes.

My first visit to Yarmouk took place a few days after 20 people were killed in the Palestinian camp’s first major shelling incident on August 2, 2012. Residents showed me the damage caused by the first mortar – which hit the roof of a small apartment building not far from Tadamoun, a Damascus suburb where rebels and security forces were clashing daily.As bystanders rushed to investigate the damage, a second shell hit the narrow street outside where onlookers had congregated, killing and injuring dozens.

Foreign media headlines suggested the Syrian government was shelling Yarmouk, but Palestinians inside expressed doubt. Some said these were rebel mortars from adjacent neighborhoods, but it was clear nobody could provide definitive answers for what may simply have been a series of stray shells.

Yarmouk, once home to around a million Syrians and 160,000 Palestinian refugees, was an oasis of calm that summer day of my visit.

By contrast, driving through rebel-occupied Tadamoun, Yalda and Hajar al-Aswad on my way in and out of the camp, one could only gape at the burned buildings and vehicles, shuttered shops, rubble in the streets and makeshift checkpoints dotting these new conflict zones.

Return to Yarmouk

A year-and-a-half later, in March 2014, I visited Yarmouk again. The camp is unrecognizable now, and the pictures we see don’t do justice to the damage.

At the entrance of the camp, I was greeted by armed Palestinians who are part of a 14-group ‘volunteer force’ formed for the purpose of protecting Yarmouk and ejecting the rebel fighters deep inside the camp. The group falls under the umbrella of the Popular Palestinian Committees for the Liberation of Yarmouk.

When I ask them where they’re from, in rapid-fire, one after the other, they tell me,“Safad, Lubya, Haifa, Tiberias, Jerusalem, Acca,” though, of course, they’re too young to ever have been to any of these places. That’s where their parents or grandparents hail from. That’s where they intend to return one day.

There’s a lone Syrian among them. He was raised in Yarmouk and is a Palestinian as far as he’s concerned.

The stories these fighters tell me is nothing I have read in English, or in any mainstream publication outside Syria. Theirs is a story that is black-and-white. Thousands of Islamist fighters invaded and occupied Yarmouk on December 17, 2012, and Palestinians and Syrians alike fled the camp, literally beginning the next day.

The militants, they say, systematically destroyed the camp, killed people, looted homes, hospitals – anything they could get their hands on. They insist that the rebels could not have captured Yarmouk without the help of Hamas, and are convinced that Hamas supporters are still inside the camp, now members of Al-Nusra Front, AknafBeit al-Maqdes, Ohdat al-Omariyya, Ahrar al-Yarmouk, Zahrat al Mada’en and other rebel groups that they say occupy the camp. They claim Hamas employed and provided financial assistance to displaced Syrians who escaped conflict elsewhere and settled in Yarmouk.

“They hired them for this conflict,” says one.

The finger-pointing at Hamas persists throughout all my conversations with refugees in the three separate camps I visit in Syria. While all Hamas officials exited the country early on in the conflict, the fact remains that many Palestinians affiliated with Hamas did not. On the outside, we understand Hamas is not there, but within the camps, Palestinians identify the individuals they accuse of sedition as “Hamas people.”

This blurred line has provided Hamas’ political leadership with ‘plausible deniability’ against accusations that it has aided Islamist rebels in the camps.

The fuzzy lines first became clear to me in the autumn of 2011 when a Hamas official confided that they had to “remove some people” from these areas who were displaying increasing sympathy with the Syrian opposition.

But back to the Palestinian fighters in Yarmouk.

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