Haidar Eid (in Gaza):
“Our message to the Palestinian negotiators in Cairo (trans. by Nada Elian): The fact that the six crossings [with Israel] and the Rafah crossing [with Egypt] are not permanently open, and the inability of a single person to leave whenever they want, and the shortage of medicine in pharmacies, and the lack of alternatives to Israeli merchandise, and the absence of a safe maritime channel, all this means the blockade is ongoing, no matter how you sanitize it linguistically.”
**excerpts, the whole article is an important read**
“All colonial settler states are based on the violent dispossession of the native peoples – and as a result, their fundamental and overriding aim has always been to keep those native peoples as weak as possible. Israel’s aim for the Palestinians is no different.
Palestinian statehood is clearly an obstacle to this goal; a Palestinian state would strengthen the Palestinians. Genuine sovereignty would end Israel’s current presumed right to steal their land, control their borders, place them under siege, and bomb them at will. That is why Netanyahu’s Likud party platform “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”; that is why Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for even suggesting some limited self-governance for the Palestinians; and that is why every proposal for Palestinian statehood, however limited and conditional, has been wilfully sabotaged by successive Israeli governments of all hues.
Within three years of the 1993 Oslo declaration, for example, which promised self-governance for Palestinian areas, foreign minister Ariel Sharon was urging “everyone” to “grab as many hilltops as they can” in order to minimise the size and viability of the area to be administered by Palestinian Authority. The 1999 election of a Labour Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, made no difference, ushering in “a sustained commitment by Israel’s government to avoid full compliance with the Oslo agreement”, according to Jimmy Carter, most notably in the form of the greatest increase in illegal Israeli settlements that had yet taken place. The popular story that Barak had made a ‘generous offer’ on Palestinian statehood at negotiations in Taba in 2001, turned out to be a complete myth.
In the 2000s, the stakes were raised by the discovery of 1.4trillion cubic metres of natural gas in Gaza’s territorial waters, leading Israel to immediately strengthen its maritime blockade of Gaza to prevent Palestinian access to the reserves. But Palestinian sovereignty over this gas would obviously enormously strengthen the economic position of any future Palestinian state – and thus made the Israelis more determined than ever to prevent such a state from coming into being.
…What the US seeks is rather a thoroughly compromised entity, devoid of all significant attributes of statehood (border control, airspace control, etc) and dependent on Israel, but which it would call a state – and thus would provide the Arab states with a pretext for overt collaboration with Israel. As Jeff Halper has explained, for the US, as for the Saudis, the idea behind the Saudi peace was actually to strengthen Israel, by facilitating Arab support for Israeli-US action against Iran, and thus establishing solid Israeli hegemony across the entire Middle East. In other words, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states wanted a (feeble) Palestinian state to come into existence, in order to justify the collaboration with Zionism being demanded of them by their US masters. But Israel does not particularly want or perceive the need for Arab support. Indeed, the image of the plucky little victim, besieged by ‘hostile enemies’ on all sides, is a fundamental plank of the Israeli national psyche, necessary to ensure the continued identification of the population with the militaristic state and its expansionist policies. And more importantly, in the zero-sum game of settler-vs-native politics, any Palestinian state, however toothless, represents an intolerable retreat for the Zionists.
…Israel’s excuse for its reluctance to take negotiations seriously has always rested on two planks: a) Palestinian ‘terrorism’ and b) Palestinian ‘disunity’. Both of these, Israel claims, means it has no ‘partner for peace’; no one to negotiate with – either because they are terrorists, or because there is no single entity representing the Palestinian population who they can talk to.
…However, reaction to the recent unity government announced in April this year was very different. A government of ‘technocrats’ – comprising not a single Hamas member – was endorsed by both Fatah and Hamas in an attempt to end the isolation and strangulation of the Gaza strip.
Israel no longer had ‘Palestinian disunity’ as an excuse for refusing to engage in peace talks. Nor did they have ‘terrorism’ as an excuse, as Hamas had steadfastly stood by the terms of the 2012 ceasefire, not only ceasing their own rocket fire, but also successfully preventing rocket attacks by other Palestinian groups in Gaza. And all this despite continuous violations of the ceasefire by Israel beginning before the ink was even dry – from a refusal to lift the blockade (as required by the ceasefire terms), to continued attacks on Palestinians, killing 4 and maiming nearly 100 within the first three months of the ‘ceasefire’ alone. Even after Israeli attacks were stepped up over the past year, with four Palestinian children shot dead by Israeli forces between December 2013 and May 2014, including a 15 year old shot in the back from 100m, Hamas held their fire.
Nine days after the swearing in of the unity government, on June 11th, the IDF made a raid on Gaza in which they killed a 10 year old boy on a bicycle. But still Hamas held their fire.
The following day, however, the apparent kidnapping of three Israeli settlers in the West Bank provided the opportunity for a provocation on an altogether larger scale. Having blamed the kidnapping on Hamas (without ever producing a scrap of evidence), Netanyahu used it as an excuse for an attack on the entire Hamas leadership in the West Bank, while his economy minister Naftali Bennett announced that “We’re turning the membership card for Hamas into a ticket to hell”. Operation Brother’s Keeper did precisely that, with 335 Hamas leaders arrested (including over 50 who had only just been released under a prisoner exchange scheme), and well over 1000 house raids (which left them looking “like an earthquake had taken place” according to one Palestinian activist).
According to Israeli military sources, Israeli soldiers arrested 419 Palestinians, including 335 affiliated with Hamas, and killed six Palestinians, also searching thousands of locations and confiscating $350,000. Israel also conducted dozens of attacks in Gaza, killing 5 Hamas members on July 7. Hamas finally reacted with its first rockets in 19 months, Israeli officials reported, providing Israel with the pretext for Operation Protective Edge on July 8.” Thus having killed eleven Palestinians in under a month, Israel then used retaliatory rocket attacks which killed no one as an excuse to launch the biggest slaughter of Palestinians in decades.
… Indeed, having in April faced a US government supporting the unity government, once the massacre of Gazans (and corresponding rocket fire) was under way, the US Senate instead voted unanimously in support of Israeli aggression against Gaza while condemning “the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel” by Hamas and calling on “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.”
…the onslaught was an opportunity to destroy as much as possible of the infrastructure that would provide the basis for a Palestinian state. Of course, as the Israelis openly stated, this includes the military defence infrastructure, primitive as it is, but also all the economic infrastructure necessary for a functioning society. Thus, Israeli shelling destroyed Gaza’s only power plant, cutting off electricity for 80% of Gaza’s 1.6 million inhabitants, as well as dozens of wells, reservoirs and water pipelines, according to a recent report by Oxfam. A summary by Middle East Monitor notes that Oxfam “estimate that 15,000 tons of solid waste is rotting on the streets, wastewater pumping stations are on the verge of running out of fuel and many neighbourhoods have been without power for days, due to Israel’s bombing of the only power plant in Gaza. Oxfam said it was working in an environment that has a completely destroyed water infrastructure that prevents people in Gaza from cooking, flushing toilets, or washing hands, emphasising that the huge risk to public health.
…Groups such as ISIS have played a key role in facilitating US and British policies in the Middle East in recent years, by weakening independent regional powers (or potential regional powers) such as Libya, Syria and now Iraq…. if Gaza became an ungoverned and ungovernable disaster zone – which is what Israel is in the process of creating – there would of course be no question of its gaining sovereignty over its territory, and even less over its waters and gas reserves. Israel would remain free to bomb at will, just as the US and Britain remain free to bomb at will in the failed states they have created in Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Iraq.
…Whilst many commentators have focused on the fall of President Morsi in Egypt to explain Hamas’ weakness and relative isolation, in fact the Western-sponsored wars against Libya, Syria and Hezbollah are of greater significance. These wars have respectively destroyed, weakened and preoccupied three of the major independent and anti-Zionist forces in the region, and thus strengthened Israel’s ability to act with impunity.
…Clearly, the transformation of Libya into a failed state at the hands of Western-sponsored sectarian militias, and the attempt to do the same to Syria, serves the long term Israeli goal of dividing and weakening all its regional foes (real or potential). Recognising this obvious point, an incendiary 1982 journal piece by Israeli academic Oded Yinon (notable not so much for its originality as for its blunt honesty) explicitly called for the region’s balkanisation: “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. …
…the Western-backed offensive in Syria, and its current spillover into Iraq, directly serves Israeli goals by weakening all potential counterweights to Israeli dominion in the region – and thus directly facilitates Israel’s current slaughter.”
“According to a ministry statement, a total of 2,016 people were killed and another 10,196 wounded.
Among the dead were 541 children, 250 women and 95 elderly men, it said.
The toll, which had stood at 1,980, jumped up after a number of people died from their injuries in hospitals across Gaza, as well as in Cairo and Jerusalem where they had been taken for treatment.
Medics also retrieved another body from under the rubble in the battered Shujayeh district east of Gaza City, where it had lain for more than three weeks, the statement said.”
“…Echoing the official Canadian line of support for the Zionist state’s attempt to bomb the Palestinian people into submission, Hodge wrote, “There is only one party responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people, and that is the international terrorist group Hamas.”
Turning reality on its head, in a transparent attempt at covering up Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, Hodge continued, “Hamas’s reckless aggression continues to put Palestinian lives at risk by impeding the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza.”
There are in fact numerous reports of Israeli strikes specifically aimed at health facilities since the beginning of the conflict. Dr. Bashar Murad, director of the emergency and ambulance unit of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, recently stated, “Our ambulances are often targeted although they are clearly marked and display all signs that they are ambulances.”
…Hodge cited another reason to justify Canada’s refusal to come to the aid of badly wounded children from the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. Ottawa, he wrote, is exploring options “on how best to deploy Canadian medical expertise, financing and matériel to support victims of Hamas on the ground.”
How can one pack so many lies in so few words? Victims of indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of a densely populated urban area half the size of Toronto are turned into “victims of Hamas.” As for the claim that Canada wants to provide help “on the ground,” this too was exposed as a lie.
Tarek Loubani, a physician based in London, Ontario, was recently denied entry to the Gaza Strip where he was to assist as a trauma and emergency specialist. Despite his travel documentation being in order, he was expelled after being strip-searched and escorted by Israeli police. Before departing for Tel Aviv, he asked for assistance from Ottawa. “An official at the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Loubani recounts in a comment published August 12 in the Toronto Star, “responded to me directly by email that ‘neither we in Ottawa nor the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv can assist in facilitating the entry of Canadians into the Gaza Strip.’”
Baird has also condemned the United Nations for its choice of William Schabas, Canadian international law expert and Officer of the Order of Canada, to lead an investigation into potential war crimes in the Israel-Gaza conflict. “UN Human Rights Council continues to be a sham for advancing human rights,” Baird tweeted last Monday.
What makes Schabas unfit for such a position, in the eyes of Baird and the Zionists, is a 2013 speech in which Schabas courageously stated the obvious—that “international law can be used to demonstrate and underscore the violations committed by the state of Israel, and moreover can be used to hold accountable individuals who have perpetrated international crimes against the people of Palestine.”
The pro-Israeli stand taken by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives has been embraced by the entire Canadian political establishment, including by so-called “progressive” parties such as the New Democratic Party and the Green Party of Canada.
The social-democratic NDP’s endorsement of the Israeli assault on Gaza has been so open—with an infamous statement by party leader Thomas Mulcair that “Hamas is a recognised terrorist organisation and Israel has the right to defend its citizens from these attacks”—that it has created internal frictions, including a so-called “die-in” protest last week by party supporters in front of Mulcair’s office in Montreal.
“During the current conflict in Gaza,” Mulcair wrote defiantly, “we have criticized the indiscriminate rocket fire and breaking of ceasefires by Hamas—and have been clear that Israel, like all countries, has the right to defend itself from attacks.”
A similar situation has emerged in the Green Party of Canada. In an article published on August 2 in the National Post, party leader Elizabeth May called on all Canadian political parties “to condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization and to demand that it stops sending rockets into Israel.” She insisted that “Hamas is to blame for provocation” and made clear that she “defends the right of the State of Israel to exist.””
“The UK government is being taken to court over its continuing multi-million pound program of selling arms to Israel after claims they could have been used in Gaza. Unless it stops, its issuing of licenses to arms manufacturers will be legally challenged.
The lawsuit comes from the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which is represented by law firm Leigh Day. The firm wrote to the UK’s business secretary, Vince Cable, stating that the government was acting unlawfully and that a judicial review of its activities would be carried out if it refuses to stop the exports, the Guardian reports.
“If arms from the UK are being used to commit crimes against humanitarian law, and human rights law, then export licences for these materials must be revoked immediately,” Rosa Curling, of the human rights team at Leigh Day, said in a letter obtained by the newspaper.
“If this is not done, the government’s current policy is unlawful and susceptible to legal challenge. We have asked the government to clarify the review of the arms export licences and requested details of all current licences to understand what is being sent so we can get a better picture of whether any of the arms supplied by the UK have been or may be used in criminal acts.”
CAAT recently outlined the issue on its website, saying: “Israeli equipment used in Gaza in the 2008-9 conflict “almost certainly” contained UK-supplied components. Yet the UK has approved over £47 million in weapons sales to Israel since then – and spends millions on buying its “battle-tested” weapons exports. The UK government is supplying Israel, It has been supporting it and providing it with succour. It cannot deny responsibility for the acts it is carrying out.”
On Wednesday, the British government promised that it would suspend 12 licenses for its companies to sells arms to Israel if the current ceasefire were broken, just as Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond “welcomed the [five-day] agreement by all parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire and to work towards a lasting ceasefire in Gaza, with Egyptian mediation.”
Leigh Day, however, maintained that complications arise with such promises, owing to a lack of clarity in establishing what a “broken” ceasefire means.
…A parliamentary coordinator with the group, Ann Feltham, wrote: “After the slaughter of recent weeks, it beggars belief that the UK government is continuing to allow the export of components which it admits could be part of equipment used by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza… Such equipment containing UK components has been used in Israeli attacks in the past and the licences should never have been granted in the first place.”
The impact on UK military equipment manufacturers would be substantial if all arms exports to Israel cease. British arms manufacturers supply Israel with a wide variety of weapons, including components used in targeting systems and drones, as well as those included in weapons supplied to Tel Aviv by the United States.”
“In early 2006, Dov Weisglass, then a senior advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, explained that Israeli policy was designed “to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” In 2012 it was revealed that in early 2008 Israeli authorities drew up a document calculating the minimum caloric intake necessary for Palestinians to avoid malnutrition so Israel could limit the amount of foodstuffs allowed into Gaza without causing outright starvation.
- Since 1991, Israel has made it increasingly difficult for Palestinians and commercial goods to enter or leave Gaza. Following Israel’s withdrawal of settlers from Gaza in 2005 and Hamas’ victory in Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections in 2006, restrictions on the movement of people, goods, and supplies were further tightened as Israel implemented a siege and naval blockade on Gaza in conjunction with Egypt. In doing so, Israel has deepened the separation it began imposing between Gaza, the West Bank and the rest of the outside world during the 1990s, in violation of the Oslo Accords, which specified that the occupied Palestinian territories should be treated as one territorial unit.
- Since 2000, Israel has prevented students in Gaza from traveling to study at universities in the West Bank, some of which offer fields of study and degrees not available in Gaza. According to a report from Haaretz newspaper, between 2000 and 2012 Israel let just three Gazans travel to study at universities in the West Bank, all of whom had received US government scholarships. (See fact sheet here for more on Israel’s violations of Palestinian academic freedom and right to education.)
- As of July 6, 2014, Israel limited fishing in Gaza’s territorial waters to just three nautical miles off the coast, barring Palestinian fishermen from reaching fertile fishing grounds further out in violation of the terms of the Oslo Accords, which stipulated a fishing limit of 20 nautical miles.
- 10% of children under five experienced stunted growth due to prolonged malnutrition due to the blockade and siege.
- 58.6% of Gaza’s schoolchildren were anemic, as were more than 68% of children aged nine to 12 months and nearly 37% of pregnant women.
In 2012, following a protracted legal battle waged by Israeli human rights group Gisha, the Israeli government released a confidential document produced in 2008 detailing how Israeli officials had been calculating the minimum caloric intake needed to keep Gazans from starving while maintaining strict control over the import of food. According to Haaretz newspaper:
“The ‘red lines’ document calculates the minimum number of calories needed by every age and gender group in Gaza, then uses this to determine the quantity of staple foods that must be allowed into the Strip every day, as well as the number of trucks needed to carry this quantity. On average, the minimum worked out to 2,279 calories per person per day, which could be supplied by 1,836 grams of food, or 2,575.5 tons of food for the entire population of Gaza.”
“Robert Turner, UNRWA’s director of operations in the Gaza Strip, told Haaretz that he ‘read the draft with concern. If this reflects an authentic policy intended to cap food imports, this “red lines” approach is contrary to humanitarian principles. If it is intended to prevent a humanitarian crisis by setting a minimum threshold, it has failed.’
“UNRWA, as the UN agency responsible for aiding Palestinian refugees, is closely involved in the daily lives of some 1 million residents of the Gaza Strip. Based on this knowledge, Turner asserted that ‘the facts on the ground in Gaza demonstrate that food imports consistently fell below the red lines.’”
While Hamas nominally controls most of the territory inside the tiny Gaza Strip, Gaza remains under overall Israeli military occupation according to international law. Although Israel withdrew its soldiers and some 8000 settlers from the interior of Gaza in 2005, it continues to control virtually all entry and exit, as well as Gaza’s airspace and coastline, therefore retaining “unconsented-to effective control,” the legal definition for qualifying as an occupying power.”
“It’s not an uncommon thing to read news in the Israeli occupation’s media on the treatment of members of terrorist organizations who had been injured in Syria, and this is merely the tip of the iceberg as evidence keeps piling up to show that this treatment is merely a small facet of the aid rendered by the Israelis to the terrorists wreaking havoc in Syria.
While the Israeli occupation’s attempts to mask its supports for terrorists by claiming that it’s are providing “humanitarian aid,” evidence on the ground says otherwise; the Syrian Arab Army’s operations in various areas led to uncovering weapons caches containing a variety of Israeli-made weapons and munitions, including assorted rifles, explosive shells, and offensive hand grenades.
A few days ago, terrorist Sharif al-Saffouri, leader of the so-called “Brigade of the Two Holy Mosques” terrorist group in Daraa, admitted in a video posted on YouTube that he entered the Palestinian occupied territories several times and met with Israeli officers, confirming that he and his terrorist organization have received weaponry and are coordinating with those officers logistically.
Observers suggest that the recent emphasis in Israeli media on the treatment of terrorists under the claim that they’re civilians is a PR stunt to polish the Israeli occupation’s image following its failure in Gaza Strip and to somewhat assuage the public opinion’s ire over the massacres it committed against Palestinian civilians there.
While there are no solid statistics, the figures circulated by media outlets suggest that hundreds of terrorists who were fighting in Syria have received treatment in Israeli hospitals, accommodating them in the most modern medical facilities including ones where senior Israeli officials receive treatment, which shows the importance of these terrorists to the Israeli occupation authorities. This is hardly surprising, since these terrorists are doing the Israelis dirty work for them and further the Israeli-U.S. goals in the region.”
“The Israeli cargo ship ‘Zim’ was set to dock in the Oakland port, on Saturday morning. But activists have claimed credit for an announced delay in the ship’s docking, and are planning to stop the ship wherever it tries to dock.
The U.S. activists are following the lead of trade unionists in South Africa, who successfully blocked Israeli ships from docking on several occasions, to protest Israeli aggression against Palestinians and call for a just and lasting peace.
Activists in Oakland, California are gathering Saturday to carry out direct action to stop the ship from being able to dock at the port. And, activists in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC are also planning to blockade scheduled stops in those ports.
The actions could potentially cost Israeli exporters millions of dollars, if their goods are unable to reach their ports of destination. The exact products on board the Zim are unknown, but they are likely to include Sodastream, a do-it-yourself soda-making device that is manufactured in an Israeli settlement on illegally-seized Palestinian land, Ahava dead sea salts, which are seized from Palestinian land in violation of the Dead Sea Agreement, and Osem brand food products, some of which are manufactured and packaged in Israeli settlements on illegally-seized Palestinian land, in the West Bank.
In their organizing materials, protesters say, “Palestine is calling us to action! Palestinian laborers [and the] Palestinian General Federation Trade Union have called on workers around the world to refuse to handle Israeli goods.”
They say that their “Block the Boat” actions are in response to a call by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, which calls for people around the world to “educate and build awareness among the labor movements of the U.S., and urge them to condemn the Israeli aggression and to boycott Israel.”
In 2010, Oakland activists successfully turned back an Israeli ship, while protesting the Israeli siege on Gaza. But that ship was later able to dock in Los Angeles. This time, activists are coordinating via social media and contact lists to ensure that protesters prepared for direct action will be on hand to meet the ship in Los Angeles, Seattle, or Vancouver, BC if it decides to re-route.”
“U.S. and Canadian activists are planning a series of actions beginning on Saturday to shut down West Coast ports to prevent a commercial Israeli cargo vessel from docking and unloading goods. The actions come in response to a call from Palestinian and South African unions to hold Israel accountable for what they allege are violations of Palestinians’ human rights — particularly during Israel’s latest offensive in the Gaza Strip, an operation that has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians.
Block the Boat will target Israel’s largest cargo shipping company, Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. If successful, it would effectively lock out Israeli commercial shipping from the West Coasts of both the United States and Canada…
“From its founding in 1945 by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Histradut, Zim has served Israeli settler-colonialism, bringing settlers to Palestine and serving as Israel’s only maritime connection during the 1948 war, supplying ‘food, freight, and military equipment’ used of course to carry out the Nakba. The worldwide commerce conducted by Zim today funds the occupation of Palestine with revenue generated on every continent,” a statement issued by the activist group read.
…activists could still stop the unloading of the ship by gathering enough protesters to create a “health and safety risk” that would prevent union workers from crossing the picket line and doing their jobs.
“It’s on us to ensure that the action is successful enough that they don’t have to make a choice,” Shehk said. The group is expecting several hundred protesters to join Saturday’s action.”
photos from Pal QA
memory lane, Lebanon, Hezbollah Resistance, from the Mleeta museum: