July 27, 2014, Issue 205
1. Three Messages
2. Mass Protest In Washington, Aug. 2
3. Netanyahu Lied About Hamas
4. Jewish Peace Activists Arrested In NYC
5. Gaza Ceasefire Reveals Extent Of Destruction
6. Our Wretched Jewish State
7. Iran: Huge Protests Back Palestine
8. Debunked: 5 Israeli Talking Points On Gaza
9. Chicago Rally For Gaza
10. West Bank Solidarity March
11. UN Launches Investigation Of Gaza Deaths
12. Israel Contemplates Next Steps
— PROTEST ISRAEL'S ATTACK: On Tuesday, July 29, there will be a demonstration in Kingston at the office of Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY-19th CD) at 721 Broadway, 3:30-5-30 p.m. The demands: “Stop U.S. funding of Israel; End the Violence in Gaza; End the Occupation of Palestine. Information, firstname.lastname@example.org.
— SEVERAL HUNDRED DEMONSTRATIONS deploring the Gaza war in the U.S. and around the world have taken place in the last several days. Since we’re rushing to finish this second special Gaza issue we only cover a few of them. To view dozens of inspiring photos from these actions go to local activist Barbara Upton’s site at http://clearstreammedia.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-war-on-children.html.
1. [Three Messages]
MESSAGE FROM ISRAEL
MESSAGE FROM ISRAEL
Here is a message from Gush Shalom,
the Israeli peace movement, distributed July 18
New hope for the future
It is not enough
To reach a cease-fire
And keep intact
An intolerable situation
The siege of Gaza
Must be lifted
And Inhabitants of Gaza
Must get free access
To the outside world
And a new hope
For the future.
MESSAGE TO ISRAEL
Members of New Paltz, N.Y, Women in Black on Main St., Saturday, july 26.
MESSAGE TO GAZA FROM FIDEL
MESSAGE TO ISRAEL
Members of New Paltz, N.Y, Women in Black on Main St., Saturday, july 26.
MESSAGE TO GAZA FROM FIDEL
"Obama does not support David against Goliath, but rather Goliath against David. As is known, young men and women from the Israeli people, well prepared for productive work, are being exposed to a death without honor, without glory. I am not aware of the Palestinian’s military strategy, but I know that a combatant prepared to die can defend even the ruins of a building, as long as he has his rifle, as the heroic defenders of Stalingrad demonstrated.
"I only wish to express my solidarity with the heroic people who defend the last sliver remaining of what was their homeland for thousands of years.
Fidel Castro Ruz, Havana, July 17, 2014
2. MASS PROTEST IN WASHINGTON, AUG. 2
A broad coalition of 30 antiwar, pro-Palestine, Muslim and Arab-American groups have joined together to organize a national march on the White House on Saturday, August 2 — a week away. Even if a temporary cease fire is somehow obtained, which remains doubtful, the principal issue of ending the seven-year siege of Gaza will not be resolved anytime soon.
The main slogans of the day, when demonstrators gather at 1 p.m. in Lafayette Square across from the White House, are: Stop the Massacre in Gaza, End the Siege, Halt U.S. Aid to Israel, End the Colonial Occupation.
Buses are leaving from many locations. The Activist Newsletter is a member of the ANSWER Coalition and a center of information. New York City ANSWER tells us they can accommodate people from our region if they are contacted right away.
For ticket information go to email@example.com or call (212) 694-8720. Round-trip bus tickets are $40. Buses leave Union Square Park, Manhattan ,14th St. and Broadway (Subway: L/4/5/6/N/Q/R; also walking distance: F or 1/2/3) at 6:30 a.m. sharp. (Arrive by 6:10 a.m.). The buses will return to Union Square about 9:30 p.m. It is possible to order tickets online at https://secure2.convio.net/pep/site/Ecommerce;jsessionid=BDC209FDC20C707FF27328DCDF13EDB6.app250a?VIEW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=2182&store_id=3041 .
People will also be driving, carpooling, taking trains and commercial buses. Here is a map of the destination: https://www.facebook.com/events/1505340756367346/
Here are the co-sponsors: ANSWER Coalition - American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) - Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - American Muslim Alliance (AMA) - Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition - Al-Awda: Palestine Right to Return Coalition - New York - CODEPINK - Muslim Legal Fund of America -World Can't Wait - Partnership for Civil Justice - MAS Immigrant Justice Center - UNAC (United National Antiwar Coalition) - Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) - House of Latin America (HOLA) - SI Solidarity Iran - Labor Fightback Network - Al-Awda, Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Cleveland Chapter - Al Quds Committee - Washington D.C. al-Quds Committee - Washington DC Chapter of Veterans For Peace - Methodist Federation for Social Action - The National Muslim Council for Justice (NMCJ) - Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel - Free Palestine Movement International Solidarity Movement - Northern California - Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, Virginia - The Phil Berrigan Institute for Nonviolence and Occupy the Dream, Reading, PA - LA Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild - The Green Party of New Jersey.
3. NETANYAHU LIED ABOUT HAMAS
By the Activist Newsletter & news sources
|"Hamas will pay!"|
Now, it turns out, he probably was lying. The Israeli police revealed that Hamas was not involved.
On Friday July 25, Chief Inspector Micky Rosenfeld, foreign press spokesman for the Israel Police, reportedly told BBC journalist Jon Donnison that the men responsible for the murders were not acting on orders of the Hamas leadership. Instead, he said, they are part of a “lone cell.”
Further, Rosenfeld told Donnison that if Hamas’ leadership had ordered the kidnapping, the police would “have known about it in advance,” evidently through its extensive spy system.
If the police knew, so assuredly did Netanyahu, who nonetheless used the incident to created a storm of public hatred toward Hamas and the Palestinians that contributed to the government’s “justification” for another criminal bombardment and invasion of Gaza.
Commenting on Rosenfeld’s revelation, Mondoweiss.net declared in a July 26 article: “We can only hope that the three-teens pretext is broadly examined, not just in Israeli and Palestinian public life, but in the American media. It is hardly the first time that a false story about endangered security has been used to justify Israeli violence, from the Lavon affair in Egypt in the '50s to Moshe Dayan’s confession about provoking Syrian attacks that were used to precipitate the Six Day war. The only good news is that many in the west are now seeing through the tactic and beginning to question the veracity of Israeli government sources.”
The article also noted: “As in the case of Weapons of Mass Destruction, many observers and journalists never bought the Israeli story. We didn’t.” The Activist Newsletter was also dubious, as we wrote in the July 15 Activist Newsletter: “There has been no evidence as to who killed the three Israelis. The Hamas government may not have been involved. Some other group or an individual acting without any authorization from Hamas may have committed this crime.”
4. JEWISH PEACE ACTIVISTS ARRESTED IN NYC
By Alex Kane, JVP, July 22
Nine Jewish activists protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza were arrested July 22 after occupying the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) office in midtown Manhattan. The protesters, members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Jews Say No! (JSN), stood in the office for an hour, holding a banner, singing songs in Hebrew and English and reading the names of the more than 600 dead who have been killed as a result of the Israeli attack.
The activists demanded that the FIDF stop funding the Israeli army. FIDF is a multi-millionaire dollar non-profit organization that collects funds to send to the Israeli military. Signs taped to the JVP and JSN members read: “Jews say no to the ground invasion of Gaza.”
|Singing during the arrests.|
During their hour or so inside the FIDF office the demonstrators kept up a steady stream of chants, slogans and the readings aloud the names of the victims in Gaza.
As police approached, Rebecca Vilkomerson (executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace) addressed the group: “Looks like they’re preparing to arrest us. They have a bullhorn. When the police come in, we’re going to tell them that we’re here peacefully doing civil disobedience. We’re mourning all lives that are lost, but we’re holding the Friends of the IDF accountable for helping to support the IDF to kill all these people in Gaza—whose names we’ve been reciting for almost an hour, and we’re still not through the list—and tell them that we’re here peacefully. We will not resist arrest, but that we’re not leaving.”
The activists were arrested by dozens of New York Police officers— including members of the Counter-Terror Unit — when they refused to leave the premises. When arrested the nine sang, “We are a peaceful Jewish people, singing for Gazan lives” as they were put into police vans and driven away for arraignment.
5. CEASEFIRE REVEALS EXTENT OF DESTRUCTION
brief ceasefire, Gaza women react to the destruction in Beit Hanoun. Marco Longari/AFP/Getty |
By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian
JERUSALEM, July 26 — Thousands of people in Gaza have ventured out from homes and shelters during Saturday’s 12-hour ceasefire to find that whole streets and neighborhoods have been destroyed in the last week.
Israel and Hamas both agreed to a UN request to stop fighting from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday. An Israeli cabinet minister said on Saturday night that Israel had agreed to prolong the truce by four hours. Hamas gave no immediate response to the extension.
Shortly before the ceasefire took effect, at least 18 members of the al-Najar family, including many children, were killed in an air strike on Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The family had recently gone there to escape fighting in a nearby village, a Palestinian health official said.
As the Palestinian death toll in the conflict reached 1,139 [on April 27], diplomatic efforts to forge a longer ceasefire continued in Paris. Foreign ministers from seven nations – the U.S., France, Britain, Italy, Germany, Turkey and Qatar — called for an extension of the truce.
The group had convened, along with a senior EU representative, at the request of Secretary of
State John Kerry, who failed to win Israeli or Hamas backing for a week-long truce on Friday. There were no envoys from Israel, Egypt or the Palestinian Authority.
State John Kerry, who failed to win Israeli or Hamas backing for a week-long truce on Friday. There were no envoys from Israel, Egypt or the Palestinian Authority.
In Gaza, scenes of devastation were discovered by those who returned to areas which had been the center of particularly intense fighting, such as Shujai'iya, Beit Hanoun and around Khan Younis. Scores of homes were pulverized, roads were blocked with wreckage, and power cables dangled in the streets.
Many of those attempting to check the condition of their homes, retrieve possessions and, in some cases, search for the bodies of relatives seemed dazed by what they found. Some who had not seen each other for days embraced as they surveyed the wreckage around them. Ambulances with wailing sirens and donkey carts loaded with mattresses and pots clogged the streets.
In other areas, Palestinians rushed to stock up with food and essentials, and get cash from banks and ATMs, ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which starts on Monday (7-28).
In Beit Hanoun, close to the border, Israeli tanks stood by as people searched through the debris for their belongings, packing whatever they could – blankets, furniture and clothes – into taxis, trucks, rickshaws and carts before fleeing the town.
Siham Kafarneh, 37, sat weeping on the steps of a small grocery store. The mother of eight said the home she had spent 10 years saving up for and moved into two months earlier had been destroyed. "Nothing is left. Everything I have is gone," she said.
Some people were defiant. One woman pulled a black-and-white Palestinian scarf from the rubble, shouting: "They won't take away our pride. We'll wear this to Jerusalem and the day of victory is close."
Others were resigned. Zaki al-Masri noted quietly that both his house and that of his son had been destroyed. "The Israelis will withdraw, tomorrow or the day after, and we'll be left in this awful situation as usual."
At the nearby hospital, six patients and 33 medical staff had spent the night huddled in the X-ray department as the neighborhood was shelled, said the director, Bassam Abu Warda. A tank shell had hit the second floor of the building, leaving a gaping hole, and the facade was peppered with holes from large-caliber bullets.
Two Red Crescent ambulances were hit in Beit Hanoun overnight, killing a medic and wounding three, one critically, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. On Saturday, rescue workers pulled the scorched body of the medic from the wrecked vehicle, which had been hit close to the hospital.
"Targeting ambulances, hospitals and medical workers is a serious violation of the law of war," said Jacques de Maio, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation for Israel and the occupied territories.
6. OUR WRETCHED JEWISH STATE
[The author is a columnist for the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, and a member of the newspaper's editorial board. He joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper's deputy editor. He has covered the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as writing political editorials for the newspaper. His new book, “The Punishment of Gaza,” has just been published by Verso Publishing House in London and New York.]
By Gideon Levy
The youths of the Jewish state are attacking Palestinians in the streets of Jerusalem, just like gentile youths used to attack Jews in the streets of Europe. The Israelis of the Jewish state are rampaging on social networks, displaying hatred and a lust for revenge, unprecedented in its diabolic scope... purely based on ethnicity. These are the children of the nationalistic and racist generation – Netanyahu’s offspring.
For five years now, they have been hearing nothing but incitement, scaremongering and supremacy over Arabs from this generation’s true instructor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Not one humane word, no commiseration or equal treatment.
They grew up with the provocative demand for recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state,” and they drew the inevitable conclusions. Even before any delineation of what a “Jewish state” means – will it be a state that dons tefillin (phylacteries), kisses mezuzot (doorpost fixtures with prayer scrolls), sanctifies charms, closes down on the Sabbath and keeps strict kashrut laws? – the penny has dropped for the masses.
The mob was the first to internalize its true significance: a Jewish state is one in which there is room only for Jews. The fate of Africans is to be sent to the Holot detention center in the Negev, while that of Palestinians is to suffer from pogroms. That’s how it works in a Jewish state: only this way can it be Jewish.
In the Jewish state-in-the-making, there is no room even for an Arab who strives his utmost to be a good Arab, such as the writer Sayed Kashua. In a Jewish state, the chairman of the Knesset plenary session, MK (Member of the Knesset) Ruth Calderon (from Yesh Atid – the “center” of the political map, needless to say), cuts off Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who has just returned all shaken up from a visit to the family of the murdered Arab boy from Shoafat, impudently preaching to him that he must also refer to the three murdered Jewish teens (even after he did just that).
In a Jewish state, the High Court of Justice approves the demolition of a murder suspect’s family home even before his conviction. A Jewish state legislates racist and nationalist laws.
The media in the Jewish state wallows in the murder of three yeshiva students, while almost entirely ignoring the fates of several Palestinian youths of the same age who have been killed by army fire over the last few months, usually for no reason.
No one was punished for these acts – in the Jewish state there is one law for Jews and another for Arabs, whose lives are cheap. There is no hint of abiding by international laws and conventions. In the Jewish state, there is pity and humane feelings only for Jews, rights only for the Chosen People. The Jewish state is only for Jews.
The new generation growing in its shadow is a dangerous one, both to itself and its surroundings. Netanyahu is its education minister; the militaristic and nationalist media serves as its pedagogic epic poem; the education system that takes it to Auschwitz and Hebron serves as its guide.
The new sabra (native-born Israeli) is a novel species, prickly both on the outside and the inside. He has never met his Palestinian counterpart, but knows everything about him – the sabra knows he is a wild animal, intent only on killing him; that he is a monster, a terrorist.
He knows that Israel has no partner for peace, since this is what he’s heard countless times from Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. From Yair Lapid he’s heard that they are “Zoabis” – referring dismissively to MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad).
Being left wing or a seeker of justice in the Jewish state is deemed a crime, civil society is considered treacherous, true democracy an evil. In a Jewish state – dreamed of not only by the right wing but also by the supposed center-left, including Tzipi Livni and Lapid – democracy is blurred.
It’s not the skinheads that are the Jewish state’s main problem, it’s the sanctimonious eye-rollers, the thugs, the extreme right wing and the settlers. It’s not the margins but the mainstream, which is partly very nationalistic and partly indifferent.
In the Jewish state, there is no remnant of the biblical injunction to treat the minority or the stranger with justice. There are no more Jews left who marched with Martin Luther King or who sat in jail with Nelson Mandela. The Jewish state, which Israel insists the Palestinians recognize, must first recognize itself. At the end of the day, at the end of a terrible week, it seems that a Jewish state means a racist, nationalistic state, meant for Jews only.
7. IRAN: HUGE PROTESTS BACK PALESTINE
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Iran on Jerusalem Day July 25 to support Palestine and protest Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Rallies took place in Tehran and most other Iranian cities to observe Iran’s annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The protesters, who had photos of Palestinian children killed by the IDF in Gaza, chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.” The flags of both nations were burned. One of many banners proclaimed, “Defending Gaza and Palestine is our religious duty.”
Shi’ite Iran has defended Sunni Palestine against Israeli oppression since the country became an Islamic Republic in 1979 after the revolution toppled the U.S.-beholden monarchy, which had close ties to Israel. The Hamas leadership of Gaza last year declared its support for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of the Iranian government, causing sober consternation in Tehran but no diminution of Iran’s expressions of solidarity.
According to Russia Today: “Tel-Aviv and Washington have also accused the Iranian authorities of supplying arms to the Hamas movement, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU. Tehran has always denied those claims, but Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, said that the country had provided Hamas with ‘the technology to manufacture arms. There was a time when Hamas needed the know-how.... We gave it to them and today the fighters in Gaza are capable of meeting their needs," Larijani told Iran’s al-Alam TV.
8. ISRAEL's FALSE TALKING POINTS ON GAZA
|This July 26 photo of a civilian section of Gaza is an example of Israeli "self-defense."|
By Noura Erakat, July 25, 2014
Israel has killed 1,000 Palestinians [now 1,239] in the past twenty-one days in the Gaza Strip alone; its onslaught continues. The UN estimates that more than 74% of those killed are civilians. That is to be expected in a population of 1.8 million where the number of Hamas members is approximately 15,000. Israel does not deny that it killed those Palestinians using modern aerial technology and precise weaponry courtesy of the world’s only superpower. In fact, it does not even deny that they are civilians.
Israel’s propaganda machine, however, insists that these Palestinians wanted to die (“culture of martyrdom”), staged their own death (“telegenically dead”) or were the tragic victims of Hamas’s use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes (“human shielding”). In all instances, the military power is blaming the victims for their own deaths, accusing them of devaluing life and attributing this disregard to cultural bankruptcy. In effect, Israel — along with uncritical mainstream media that unquestionably accept this discourse — dehumanizes Palestinians, deprives them even of their victimhood and legitimizes egregious human rights and legal violations.
This is not the first time. The gruesome images of decapitated children’s bodies and stolen innocence on Gaza’s shores are a dreadful repeat of Israel’s assault on Gaza in November 2012 and winter 2008–09. Not only are the military tactics the same but so too are the public relations efforts and the faulty legal arguments that underpin the attacks. Mainstream media news anchors are inexplicably accepting these arguments as fact.
Below I address five of Israel’s recurring talking points.
1) Israel is exercising its right to self-defense.
As the occupying power of the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Territories more broadly, Israel has an obligation and a duty to protect the civilians under its occupation. It governs by military and law enforcement authority to maintain order, protect itself and protect the civilian population under its occupation. It cannot simultaneously occupy the territory, thus usurping the self-governing powers that would otherwise belong to Palestinians, and declare war upon them. These contradictory policies (occupying a land and then declaring war on it) make the Palestinian population doubly vulnerable.
The precarious and unstable conditions in the Gaza Strip from which Palestinians suffer are Israel’s responsibility. Israel argues that it can invoke the right to self-defense under international law as defined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. The International Court of Justice, however, rejected this faulty legal interpretation in its 2004 Advisory Opinion. The ICJ explained that an armed attack that would trigger Article 51 must be attributable to a sovereign state, but the armed attacks by Palestinians emerge from within Israel’s jurisdictional control. Israel does have the right to defend itself against rocket attacks, but it must do so in accordance with occupation law and not other laws of war. Occupation law ensures greater protection for the civilian population. The other laws of war balance military advantage and civilian suffering. The statement that “no country would tolerate rocket fire from a neighboring country” is therefore both a diversion and baseless.
Israel denies Palestinians the right to govern and protect themselves, while simultaneously invoking the right to self-defense. This is a conundrum and a violation of international law, one that Israel deliberately created to evade accountability.
Israel argues that its occupation of the Gaza Strip ended with the unilateral withdrawal of its settler population in 2005. It then declared the Gaza Strip to be “hostile territory” and declared war against its population. Neither the argument nor the statement is tenable. Despite removing 8,000 settlers and the military infrastructure that protected their illegal presence, Israel maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip and thus remains the occupying power as defined by Article 47 of the Hague Regulations. To date, Israel maintains control of the territory’s air space, territorial waters, electromagnetic sphere, population registry and the movement of all goods and people.
Israel argues that the withdrawal from Gaza demonstrates that ending the occupation will not bring peace. Some have gone so far as to say that Palestinians squandered their opportunity to build heaven in order to build a terrorist haven instead. These arguments aim to obfuscate Israel’s responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank. As Prime Minister Netanyahu once explained, Israel must ensure that it does not “get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria…. I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
Palestinians have yet to experience a day of self-governance. Israel immediately imposed a siege upon the Gaza Strip when Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006 and tightened it severely when Hamas routed Fatah in June 2007. The siege has created a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip. Inhabitants will not be able to access clean water, electricity or tend to even the most urgent medical needs. The World Health Organization explains that the Gaza Strip will be unlivable by 2020. Not only did Israel not end its occupation, it has created a situation in which Palestinians cannot survive in the long-term.
3) This Israeli operation, among others, was caused by rocket fire from Gaza.
Israel claims that its current and past wars against the Palestinian population in Gaza have been in response to rocket fire. Empirical evidence from 2008, 2012 and 2014 refute that claim. First, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the greatest reduction of rocket fire came through diplomatic rather than military means. This chart demonstrates the correlation between Israel’s military attacks upon the Gaza Strip and Hamas militant activity. Hamas rocket fire increases in response to Israeli military attacks and decreases in direct correlation to them. Cease-fires have brought the greatest security to the region.
During the four months of the Egyptian-negotiated cease-fire in 2008, Palestinian militants reduced the number of rockets to zero or single digits from the Gaza Strip. Despite this relative security and calm, Israel broke the cease-fire to begin the notorious aerial and ground offensive that killed 1,400 Palestinians in twenty-two days. In November 2012, Israel’s extrajudicial assassination of Ahmad Jabari, the chief of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza, while he was reviewing terms for a diplomatic solution, again broke the cease-fire that precipitated the eight-day aerial offensive that killed 132 Palestinians.
Immediately preceding Israel’s most recent operation, Hamas rocket and mortar attacks did not threaten Israel. Israel deliberately provoked this war with Hamas. Without producing a shred of evidence, it accused the political faction of kidnapping and murdering three settlers near Hebron. Four weeks and almost 700 lives later, Israel has yet to produce any evidence demonstrating Hamas’s involvement. During ten days of Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank, Israel arrested approximately 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, killed nine civilians and raided nearly 1,300 residential, commercial and public buildings. Its military operation targeted Hamas members released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. It’s these Israeli provocations that precipitated the Hamas rocket fire which Israel claims left it with no choice but a gruesome military operation.
4) Israel avoids civilian casualties, but Hamas aims to kill civilians.
Hamas has crude weapons technology that lacks any targeting capability. As such, Hamas rocket attacks ipso facto violate the principle of distinction because all of its attacks are indiscriminate. This is not contested. Israel, however, would not be any more tolerant of Hamas if it strictly targeted military objects, as we have witnessed of late. Israel considers Hamas and any form of its resistance, armed or otherwise, to be illegitimate.
In contrast, Israel has the eleventh most-powerful military in the world, certainly the strongest by far in the Middle East, and is a nuclear power that has not ratified the non-proliferation agreement and has precise weapons technology. With the use of drones, F-16s and an arsenal of modern weapon technology, Israel has the ability to target single individuals and therefore to avoid civilian casualties. But rather than avoid them, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians as part of its military operations.
The Dahiya Doctrine is central to these operations and refers to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on Lebanon in 2006. Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said that this would be applied elsewhere:
What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. […] We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.
Israel has kept true to this promise. The 2009 UN Fact-Finding Mission to the Gaza Conflict, better known as the Goldstone Mission, concluded “from a review of the facts on the ground that it witnessed for itself that what was prescribed as the best strategy [Dahiya Doctrine] appears to have been precisely what was put into practice.”
According to the National Lawyers Guild, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Israel directly targeted civilians or recklessly caused civilian deaths during Operation Cast Lead. Far from avoiding the deaths of civilians, Israel effectively considers them legitimate targets.
5) Hamas hides its weapons in homes, mosques and schools and uses human shields.
|Two young brothers and one sister, killed when an Israeli tank |
attacked a mosque July 18 in Beit Lahia, Gaza.
International human rights organizations that have investigated these claims have determined that they are not true. It attributed the high death toll in Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks. Human Rights Watch notes:
The evidence Human Rights Watch uncovered in its on-the-ground investigations refutes [Israel’s] argument…we found strong evidence that Hezbollah stored most of its rockets in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields and valleys, that in the vast majority of cases Hezbollah fighters left populated civilian areas as soon as the fighting started, and that Hezbollah fired the vast majority of its rockets from pre-prepared positions outside villages.
In fact, only Israeli soldiers have systematically used Palestinians as human shields. Since Israel’s incursion into the West Bank in 2002, it has used Palestinians as human shields by tying young Palestinians onto the hoods of their cars or forcing them to go into a home where a potential militant may be hiding.
Even assuming that Israel’s claims were plausible, humanitarian law obligates Israel to avoid civilian casualties that “would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.” A belligerent force must verify whether civilian or civilian infrastructure qualifies as a military objective. In the case of doubt, “whether an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes, such as a place of worship, a house or other dwelling or a school, is being used to make an effective contribution to military action, it shall be presumed not to be so used.”
In the over three weeks of its military operation, Israel has demolished 3,175 homes, at least a dozen with families inside; destroyed five hospitals and six clinics; partially damaged sixty-four mosques and two churches; partially to completely destroyed eight government ministries; injured 4,620; and killed over 1,000 Palestinians. At plain sight, these numbers indicate Israel’s egregious violations of humanitarian law, ones that amount to war crimes.
Beyond the body count and reference to law, which is a product of power, the question to ask is, What is Israel’s end goal? What if Hamas and Islamic Jihad dug tunnels beneath the entirety of the Gaza Strip —they clearly did not, but let us assume they did for the sake of argument. According to Israel’s logic, all of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians are therefore human shields for being born Palestinian in Gaza. The solution is to destroy the 141 square mile strip of land and to expect a watching world to accept this catastrophic loss as incidental. This is possible only by framing and accepting the dehumanization of Palestinian life. Despite the absurdity of this proposal, it is precisely what Israeli society is urging its military leadership to do. Israel cannot bomb Palestinians into submission, and it certainly cannot bomb them into peace.
— From The Nation. Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and activist, is an Abraham L. Freedman Fellow at Temple University, Beasley School of Law, and a contributing editor of Jadaliyya.
9. CHICAGO RALLY FOR GAZA
|Big turnout in Chicago July 20 to condemn Israeli attack on Gaza.|
An estimated 7,000 to 10,000 people demonstrated in Chicago July 20 to demand an end to the Israeli attack on Gaza. They rallied, conducted a “die-in” — a symbolic re-enactment of the mass civilian casualties in Gaza — and marched to the Israeli consulate to press their demands.
"Since the offensive began, almost 400 Palestinian people have been killed and many more wounded," said Hatem Abudayyeh with the U.S. Palestine Community Network. "Almost 400 homes have been destroyed, thousands displaced. This is not a war against Palestine, it is a war on Palestine." Members of the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine said the rally was held to show solidarity with Palestinians and demand an end to the bloodshed.
10. WEST BANK SOLIDARITY MARCH
By The Activist Newsletter
|Police clash with pro-Gaza protesters in West Bank July 24.|
The Israeli military confirmed troops had used "riot dispersal means" — a term used for weapons such as rubber bullets and tear gas.
"There are thousands of rioters there," an army spokeswoman told AFP. “They are rolling burning tires and throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks at soldiers and border police.” She did not confirm or deny the use of live rounds, but that’s usually the reason for such deaths.
The protest erupted after allies of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement marched from the West Bank city of Ramallah to the edges of Jerusalem in protest against Israel's war against the government of Gaza.
Israeli troops have killed two other Palestinians this week in smaller confrontations in the West Bank. Protests were also reported in Jerusalem, where police confronted Palestinian protesters in and near the old walled city, including outside a flashpoint holy site revered by Muslims and Jews.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said several officers were injured by rocks thrown at them in Jerusalem and that about 20 protesters were arrested.
11. UN TO INVESTIGATE GAZA DEATHS
By Agence France Presse and other sources
GENEVA, July 24 —The UN Human Rights Council on July 23 launched a probe into the Gaza offensive, backing calls by the Palestinians to hold Israel to account despite fierce opposition from the Jewish state.
|Family member at burial of seven relatives.|
The United States, which supports the brutal Israeli action, was the sole member to vote against. The 17 abstentions were by the council’s European members, plus Japan and South Korea — virtually all of whom are U.S. allies. (The Activist Newsletter believes they were too embarrassed to actually reject this fairly reasonable proposal and too subordinate to Washington to vote in favor.)
The probe team, yet to be appointed, is tasked with eventually reporting back to the council. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s media office slammed it as a “travesty” that “ignored violations by Hamas... This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion.” Speaking for the Obama Administration, U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper warned the vote would undermine ceasefire efforts. “This resolution is not constructive, it is destructive,” Harper said, noting it lacked “any semblance of balance” because it made no mention of Hamas’ retaliatory attacks.
12. ISRAEL CONTEMPLATES NEXT STEPS
Israeli troops have spent nine days in the Gaza Strip, and resistance from Palestinian militants has reportedly been dropping. The Israeli military is reporting that it has been able to secure the areas it has moved into. Thus, the ground invasion seems to have accomplished its initial limited goal of damaging the tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has told troops that Israel might significantly widen the Gaza ground operation. The expansion of any limited Israel Defense Forces operation likely will not address a fundamental point in Gaza: There is no long-term military solution apart from occupation, which would come with a high political cost and would create new targets for Palestinian militants.
The Israeli military's ground operation thus far has been limited to the perimeter of the Gaza Strip, although the fighting on some occasions has brushed the edges of densely populated areas, especially near Gaza City, where the Golani Brigade has been deployed, and near Khan Younis, where the Paratroopers Brigade is operating. The activity near heavily populated areas has led to intense fighting and more Israeli casualties than previous operations in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military has confirmed that 35 soldiers were killed during the ground incursion, compared with only 13 deaths in Operation Cast Lead (2008-09) and two during Operation Pillar of Defense (2012). In Cast Lead, 1,417 Palestinians died; in Pillar of Defense, an estimated 50-100 were killed. Palestinian casualties in the latest incursion, Operation Protective Edge, are in excess of 800.
Meanwhile, rocket fire from Gaza has dropped gradually to the lowest point since the beginning of the Israeli operation. Militants fired 63 rockets from Gaza on July 24; before that date, the average number of rockets fired per day was 130. This may be a sign that Hamas is scaling back while working toward a cease-fire, but it could also be the result of logistical challenges — besides supply disruptions and the destruction of stockpiles, the very act of firing rockets at a sustained rate diminishes rocket reserves. Israel has not been able to completely halt the rocket fire because launch sites, Hamas' leadership, underground stockpiles and manufacturing facilities are located in more densely populated areas of Gaza's main cities, not in the tunnel networks on the Gaza border.
Hamas has used tunnels extensively in the past, but it is using them even more during the most recent escalation. Tunnels are crucial to diminishing Israel's advantage in air power. Palestinian militants have acquired an expertise in tunnel construction over the past decade of being forced underground by Israeli air power. They use household tools, such as shovels, to dig through the soft clay soil. Common construction materials, such as concrete, wood and steel, reinforce the walls, making them harder to destroy and able to withstand higher traffic. If Israeli troops demolish only the entrance to a tunnel, militants can reopen it in weeks or even days.
There are three broad types of tunnel networks beneath Gaza, each with a unique function. On the Egypt-Gaza border there are smuggling tunnels, which Israel and Egypt have not yet been able to render permanently inoperable. Then there are internal tunnel networks inside the Gaza Strip. These strategic tunnels are primarily used to avoid constant observation by Israel so militants can stockpile weapons. During combat, these tunnels serve a range of purposes, including enabling the movement of forces and materiel and providing shelter and command nodes for Hamas' leadership. Militants also use these tunnels to lay mines and kidnap ground personnel, or as space to service rocket launch sites. The third category is the offensive tunnels that cross the border into Israel. Damaging the third type of tunnels is the stated impetus for the current ground incursion.
Before the ground incursion, Israel Defense Forces would typically locate tunnels by observation -- for example, spotting militants who have surfaced to fire rockets -- or using remote sensing techniques. However, these methods are helpful only to locate and destroy tunnel entrances. Now that the ground incursion is well underway, Israeli forces can detect tunnels as they go from building to building searching for entrances. When this happens, soldiers from the combat engineers unit, specializing in counter-tunnel operations, typically lower a robot into the shaft. Not only can the robot send back video to the squad above ground, but it can also map the tunnel's route and determine its material composition.
Mapping large portions of the tunnels is important because it enables Israeli forces to destroy large sections accurately. A standard one-ton bomb dropped from a plane will readily penetrate the concrete-reinforced tunnels, but in order to completely demolish a tunnel system, heavy drilling equipment must be brought in and hundreds of kilograms of explosives have to be inserted into the passage all along its length. Special mixes of cement injected at high pressure can also be used.
The ground operation so far has only trimmed the edge of the entire tunnel network. While Israel Defense Forces have effectively damaged the offensive tunnel network, the bulk of the strategic tunnel networks beneath the population centers remains. To further degrade Gaza militants' infrastructure and leadership, Israeli forces would need to expand the ground operation, moving from their entrenched positions deeper into the highly populated urban cores. Combat in the Shejaiya neighborhood on the far eastern side of Gaza City demonstrated what the results can be of intense urban fighting, in which many of the Israeli military's advantages over the militants are lessened.
Any expansion of operations would clear more territory, but it would require more manpower and would come at a high cost for both combatants and civilians. Moreover, the moment the ground operation ends, the militants will begin to rebuild their arsenals and their infrastructure with plans that incorporate the lessons learned from the recent fighting.