Israel refuses ceasefire again – more killing to do

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, who is in hiding from Israeli assassins, called for a ceasefire yesterday while Israel prepared its ground forces for invasion of Gaza and Olmert postured. As a consequence of Israel’s 2 year collective punishment on its people by siege and recently bombings, Gaza is one of the most wretched, impoverished places on the planet.

“What is happening in Gaza is not normal aggression,” said Mr Haniya. “It is a real war, a war without morals, with neither principles nor laws. It is a war of elimination against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. We tell the Palestinian people that you will win, inevitably.”

Earlier, the Israeli security cabinet rejected a French proposal for a 48-hour “humanitarian” ceasefire that would be used to mediate a long-term ceasefire.

“We didn’t initiate the Gaza operation to end it while Israeli towns are still under fire, as they were before the operation,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

He added that the proposal would be reconsidered when the time was right and only if international monitors took responsibility for enforcing it. As for humanitarian considerations, he said Israel was permitting an unlimited amount of humanitarian supplies to be trucked into the Gaza Strip daily.

Israel is believed to be planning a brief incursion aimed at weakening Hamas’s incentive to resort to violence in the future.

Since Israel’s slaughter is more likely to have the opposite effect of inciting more violence against it, one can only imagine that perpetual retaliation is precisely what Israel desires. When there is no suitable ‘partner for peace’ more land grabs can be justified.

Aid agencies give a contradictory and deeper understanding of the humanitarian crisis. They feel a cease fire is essential.

“After six days of Israeli bombardment, aid agencies say that Gazans are facing a humanitarian crisis with air strikes causing severe problems in getting food, medicine and fuel supplies to the besieged civilian population.

The assessment, by several international relief organisations, contradicts the statement by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, during a visit to Paris yesterday that “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce”. While relief shipments were allowed into Gaza by the Israeli authorities in the days before the start of the offensive, they came after weeks of virtually no supplies getting through, the agencies point out.

Dr Hassan Khalaf, of the main Shifa hospital in Gaza City, said that Palestinian civilians are paying a terrible price: “We are getting really badly injured people coming in every day. What is the point of saying you are allowing food in for people when you then go on to bomb them? The Israelis may say they are just attacking Hamas but I am seeing children and women coming covered in blood. What we are seeing is a war on the people. The Hamas fighters firing the rockets are at the border, they are not in the city.

“We have organised the hospitals so that different ones are looking after different types of injuries. But the common problem we face is that we are having bad shortages in lots of things, especially anesthetics and antibiotics. We are talking to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and I hope we shall get some help.”

Christine Van Nieuwenhuyse, head of the World Food Programme for Gaza and the West Bank, acknowledged that a “significant amount” of food was allowed in by the Israelis before the start of the air strikes. “But we must not forget this came after weeks when hardly any food had got in at all. One of our warehouses is full but we have another one empty as it is in an area which has seen a lot of bombings.

“Our partners in Gaza are the Ministry of Social Welfare and their officials are not taking part in the distribution process because they feel they might get bombed for working for a Hamas government. This is a serious problem as is the fact that people are finding it difficult to move about. We are facing an acute food crisis.”

Maxwell Gaylard, the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator for Gaza and the Palestinian territories, said “Gaza is facing a serious emergency, that is a fact. Food supplies have been allowed in but there are huge problems caused by the lack of industrial fuel and this is causing severe problems. To address all these problems we need a ceasefire.”

Does Olmert’s mention of international monitors signal an opportunity for diplomacy? if so, when? after a ground assault killing spree?

After petitions by the Foreign Press Association, Israeli courts have now allowed foreign journalists to enter Gaza..

Israel however, is not complying with the court decision and foreign journalists are still barred. A ground invasion with accompanying atrocities safe from scrutiny by the media is still on the cards.

Is this what Israel is scared the foreign press will see?

Oren Ben-Dur points out the logical outcome from Zionist terror inflicted on the Palestinian people in Gaza:

No army, however well equipped and trained, can win a combat against increasing number of people who no longer have any reason to care about dying. If there was hatred against Israelis before the Gaza massacre, the hatred after it will be of a different order of magnitude.

Israel – State Terrorist, always making excuses

MIDEAST-PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-GAZA-CONFLICT

Palestinians carry the body of a little girl following an Israeli air strike targeting the house of Senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan in Gaza City on January 1, 2009. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Nizar Rayyan was killed along with eighteen other people, including members of his family. Nice going, Israel, 18 innocent people killed to assassinate 1 unarmed public official. Another 25 people were wounded. Surely that couldn’t be a disproportionate response?

Prior to striking Rayyan’s house the IDF tried to warn his family about the imminent attack and urged them to evacuate the place, but they refused to do so.

The IDF decided in its usual ‘moral’ way

… regarding the legality of striking homes used as weapons storages when sufficient warning is given to the residents. It has been decided that this falls within the boundaries of international law and is therefore legitimate.

Thus we have the word of the IDF that the home was storing weapons and that the inhabitants were warned prior to their home being bombed. How reliable is the word of the IDF when it comes to killing Palestinian children? or others?

Israel’s actions, along with being barbaric, are incendiary. As Richard Silverstein says:

For every Rayyan Israel kills, 1,000 will take his place. And they will not only be mere soliders in the conflict. Some of that 1,000 will outdo Rayyan in devising ever greater acts of revenge against Israel for this travesty. So has it been in the past and so will it be till the ends of time or of this conflict, whichever comes first.

Elsewhere in the Ynet News story, Palestinian sources are reported saying that Israeli fighter jets attacked a school in Gaza City, killing 10 people.

The ever so moral IDF seems to have missed Article 3 of the Geneva Convention

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

and Article 50

The Occupying Power shall, with the cooperation of the national and local authorities, facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children.

Perhaps they interpret Article 53 as justification for their wanton slaughter of civilians and destruction of civilian buildings in Gaza.

Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.

Israel’s military plans are to annihilate the support for and existence of the democratically elected Hamas government. Their scope has creeped to include the destruction of all public buildings, private workplaces, killing and / or enforced homelessness of all whose homes are suspected military targets – perhaps being a Hamas voter is enough – democratic governments after all rule by consent of the people. Look, a Hamas voter! they probably have weapons in their home. Ring, ring … hello … you have 10 minutes to vacate the premises before BOOOOOOM! have a nice day.

Thick & fast, the stories fly as bombs fall in Gaza

Keeping up with all the great writing on the net about the current Israeli onslaught on the Gazan people is nigh on impossible, still, here’s a smattering of what we’ve collected of the good stuff for future reference. Please feel free to add your choices in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Mark Steel writes brilliantly in his satirical opinion So what have the Palestinians got to complain about?

The gap between the might of Israel’s F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters, and the Palestinians’ catapulty thing is so ridiculous that to try and portray the situation as between two equal sides requires the imagination of a children’s story writer.

The reporter on News at Ten said the rockets “may be ineffective, but they ARE symbolic.” So they might not have weapons but they have got symbolism, the canny brutes.

It’s no wonder the Israeli Air Force had to demolish a few housing estates, otherwise Hamas might have tried to mock Israel through a performance of expressive dance.

The rockets may be unable to to kill on the scale of the Israeli Air Force, said one spokesman, but they are “intended to kill”.

Maybe he went on: “And we have evidence that Hamas supporters have dreams, and that in these dreams bad things happen to Israeli citizens, they burst, or turn into cactus, or run through Woolworths naked, so it’s not important whether it can happen, what matters is that they WANT it to happen, so we blew up their university.”

Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood – Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative dispels several myths propagated by Israel, including

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.

Uri Avnery reminds us of the state of play between the parties in A Memo to Obama on Israel:

13) The terms of Israeli-Palestinian peace are clear. They have been crystallized in thousands of hours of negotiations, conferences, meetings and conversations. They are:

13.1) A sovereign and viable State of Palestine will be established side by side with the State of Israel.

13.2) The border between the two states will be based on the pre-1967 Armistice Line (the “Green Line”). Insubstantial alterations can be arrived at by mutual agreement on an exchange of territories on a 1:1 basis.

13.3) East Jerusalem, including the Haram-al-Sharif (“Temple Mount”) and all Arab neighborhoods will serve as the capital of Palestine. West Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and all Jewish neighborhoods, will serve as the capital of Israel. A joint municipal authority, based on equality, may be established by mutual consent to administer the city as one territorial unit.

13.4) All Israeli settlements–except any which might be joined to Israel in the framework of a mutually agreed exchange of territories– will be evacuated (see 15 below).

13.5) Israel will recognize in principle the right of the refugees to return. A Joint Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, composed of Palestinian, Israeli and international historians, will examine the events of 1948 and 1967 and determine who was responsible for what. Each individual refugee will be given the choice between (1) repatriation to the State of Palestine, (2) remaining where he/she is living now and receiving generous compensation, (3) returning to Israel and being resettled, (4) emigrating to any other country, with generous compensation. The number of refugees who will return to Israeli territory will be fixed by mutual agreement, it being understood that nothing will be done that materially alters the demographic composition of the Israeli population. The large funds needed for the implementation of this solution must be provided by the international community in the interest of world peace. This will save much of the money spent today on military expenditure and direct grants from the United States.

13.6) The West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip constitute one national unit. An extraterritorial connection (road, railway, tunnel or bridge) will connect the West Bank with the Gaza Strip.

13.7) Israel and Syria will sign a peace agreement. Israel will withdraw to the pre-1967 line and all settlements on the Golan Heights will be dismantled. Syria will cease all anti-Israeli activities conducted directly or by proxy. The two parties will establish normal relations between them.

13.8) In accordance with the Saudi Peace Initiative, all member states of the Arab League will recognize Israel and establish normal relations with it. Talks about a future Middle Eastern Union, on the model of the EU, possibly to include Turkey and Iran, may be considered.

From the ashes of Gaza – Tariq Ali points to a one state solution:

Soon after the Hamas election victory in Gaza, I was asked in public by a Palestinian what I would do in their place. “Dissolve the Palestinian Authority” was my response and end the make-believe. To do so would situate the Palestinian national cause on its proper basis, with the demand that the country and its resources be divided equitably, in proportion to two populations that are equal in size – not 80% to one and 20% to the other, a dispossession of such iniquity that no self-respecting people will ever submit to it in the long run. The only acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians alike, in which the exactions of Zionism are repaired. There is no other way.

A new U.S. policy for Israelis and Palestinians – Jess Ghannam is on the faculty of the department of psychiatry and global health sciences at UC San Francisco. While she does not proffer Fringe’s diagnosis of Israel as suffering from a national form of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Ghannam describes the symptoms.

Besieged Palestinians battle to find burial spaces

Finkelstein: Israel seeking Arab obeisance – Gary Norman Finkelstein in his interview says:

Number one Israel wants to reestablish what it calls its deterrence capacity. That is a technical term that the Israelis use. It basically means to restore the fear of Israel among the Arab states in the region.

After the defeat inflicted by Hezbollah and the inability of Israel to launch an attack on Iran it was almost inevitable that they would attack Hamas, because Hamas is defying the Israeli will. According to the Israeli papers, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was planning the attack before the last ceasefire and they were just waiting for a provocation from the Palestinians.

On November 4, the Israelis broke the ceasefire with Hamas knowing full well–and if you review the Israeli papers, they say so knowing full well that when they killed six militants in Gaza the Palestinians would retaliate and then Israel would have the pretext to invade. Therefore, the first goal was to restore the fear of Israel among Arabs by inflicting a bloodbath in Gaza.

The Gaza Massacre – Taki Theodoracopulos notes similarities between the German occupation of Greece and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

During the German occupation of Greece, the occupiers posted the following rules: If any German soldier was found murdered, 10 Greeks would immediately be rounded up at random and executed; if there was a repetition, the number would go up to 100.

Since 2005 Israel, which is still punishing the original inhabitants of the lands it rules or occupies, has killed 150 Palestinians for each Israeli killed these last eight years. Just think of it. Seventeen Israeli lives have been expunged by the murder of 2550 Palestinian ones. That’s doing much better than the Nazis.

Is the UN complicit in Israel’s massacre in Gaza? – Omar Barghouti looks at the sanitisation of the massacre in Gaza perpetrated by the UN:

Now, senior UN officials, excluding the particularly courageous and principled UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Richard Falk, and a few others, are only focusing on “women and children” victims of the massacre, implying, even if unintentionally, that all Palestinian men in Gaza are fair game for the Israeli killing machine. The tens of Palestinian civilian policemen that were butchered in the opening hours of the massive Israeli attack by dozens of fighter jets were, thus, conveniently dismissed by such irresponsible UN figures of casualties as Hamas “fighters,” more or less, that may be targeted with impunity. This is not to mention the scores of male teachers, doctors, workers, farmers and unemployed who were killed by Israel’s indiscriminate bombing in their workplaces, public offices, homes or streets and were not accounted for as civilian victims of Israel’s belligerent murder spree.

Gaza’s New Year doesn’t break from the last – news from Gaza by Mohammad:

Israeli F-16 warplanes had just destroyed the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education, and the Palestinian Legislative Council, all potent symbols of Israel’s desire to destroy and demolish. I cannot think of any excuse for the destruction of ministries that regulate law and order and education.

The bombing continued, as it has for six days now. The targets are almost exclusively civilian, as they have been for six days. A school in the Tufah neighborhood, a mosque in Abasan, homes, farms, the aforementioned ministries and the house of Palestinian democracy, the Legislative Council.

From 2006, a reminder of the reasonable outcome Hamas is seeking – Israel must withdraw to pre-1967 borders if Israel:

“is ready to give us the national demand to withdraw from the occupied area [in] ’67; to release our detainees; to stop their aggression; to make geographic link between Gaza Strip and West Bank, at that time, with assurance from other sides, we are going to accept to establish our independent state at that time, and give us one or two, 10, 15 years time in order to see what is the real intention of Israel after that.”

Until Israel says what its final borders will be, Hamas will not say whether it will ever recognize Israel, Zahar said. “If Israel is ready to tell the people what is the official border, after that we are going to answer this question.”

Israel bombs chicken farm:

In the Akram Al Kanwa’s family of 10 children, 7 were injured; 2 remain in hospital. … Either from shock or a physical effect of a nearby explosion 3 days ago, 11,000 were dead … that’s 11,000 less dinners for Gaza families, not even counting the eggs.

Will we hear any protests from PETA about this? Doubtful.

The truth about those rockets from Dennis Rahkonen, quoting Jerusalem Post writer Larry Derfner:

“The [Palestinian] Kassam [rockets] have terrorized the 25,000 people in Sderot and its environs, but have caused very, very few deaths or serious wounds. By contrast, Israel has terrorized 1.5 million Gazans, locked them inside their awfully narrow borders, throttled their economy, and killed and seriously wounded thousands of them . . .

“This is crazy. Israel is the superpower of the Middle East, but because we still think we’re the Jews of Europe in the 1930s, or the Israelites under Pharaoh, we spend a lot more time fighting our enemies than we might if we looked at the whole picture, not just our half of it . . .”

Israel’s hasbara propaganda machine is dissected.

in Salon, Glenn Greenwald looks at the blindsupport given to Israel by the US, despite the strong feeling in democratic camps (55% against – 31% for) that the criminal offensive on Gaza is not kosher, the monstrous annual tithe delivered by the US taxpayer to the Zionist land grabbers to support their military thuggery and the obvious consequences to US national security in doing so. It’s difficult to work out whether Israel owns the US, or vice versa.

Democracy Now interviews the conscientious objector nephew of Netanyahoo, Jonathan Ben-Artzi and Dov Khenin, member of the Hadash party, a Jewish-Arab party also known as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality.

JONATHAN BEN-ARTZI: Well, it’s not—you know, it’s not only my uncle. It’s the voices of most Israelis. And what’s worrying is that it’s the voices of many—although there are many who, as Dov said, many Israelis who do oppose this, there are far more Israelis who blindly support this. And, you know, even given the war in Lebanon of two-and-a-half years ago, where Israel killed so many people and yet emerged the loser, by all accounts, of that endeavor, they once again support something similar, which is bound for failure, only after collecting hundreds or thousands of bodies of dead innocent people.

So, you know, I’m speaking to you here not as anyone’s nephew or anything like that, but just as someone who’s, you know, speaking as an Israeli—I’m not an American—and trying to speak out to Americans to tell them you don’t have to support Israel blindly. Not everything that Israel does is holy. And sometimes you have to speak firmly to Israel and tell us, tell our government, you know, stop doing this.

Ted Honderich has a perceptive overview of Israel’s descent into madness:

The preponderant aim of neo-Zionism in Gaza now is neo-Zionism. It is that vicious selfishness. It is that semitism on a level with anti-semitism and now beginning to be comparable in effects. The state of Israel has no moral right to pursue its preponderant aim in Gaza.

That is not quite all. In its neo-Zionism, Israel has no moral right to defend itself against the rockets used against it. Whatever the instincts of human nature, it has no more right to defend itself against them than Hitler Germany had a right to defend itself and its death camps.

What Israel is engaged in is not even war. For a war, in the connotation of the term that is necessary, including necessary for propaganda, you need two sides comparable in power. What is happening in Gaza now is something else.

It is the Palestinians who have had, and now have, a moral right to their terrorism, their justified self-defence against neo-Zionism, in all of historic Palestine. The argument for that proposition, partly on the basis of the Principle of Humanity, is now easier.