|Year 2008 No. 30, March 3, 2008||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBBOOKS||SUBSCRIBE|
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Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip on Monday after the Palestinian resistance put up a massive struggle against the invading Israeli forces. On Saturday, Israel started an aggression which has killed more than 110 Palestinian people, including many children. Despite Israels attempt to claim self defence Hamas affirmed that it is the Palestinian people who are defending themselves after Israel extra-judicially executed five Hamas members on the morning of Wednesday, February 27.
This assault on the Palestinian people comes at a time when Israel has openly remarked on its intensions towards the Palestinian people. Israels deputy defence minister threatened Palestinians in the occupied Gaza strip with a holocaust. This exposure of the fascist nature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine makes it even clearer that the Palestinians are fighting a just cause against severe oppression despite the monopoly medias efforts to spread disinformation on the Palestinian struggle.
The Palestinians have set an example of resistance to terror, occupation and what amounts to apartheid, through their militant struggle to say no to occupation, terror and being treated as less than human. They have organised themselves to become militant upholders of liberation and the right to exist, winning battles as in the recent blowing up of the border wall between Gaza and Egypt. In the 60 years of occupation, the Palestinian people have never ceased to resist, and despite Anglo-American interference that tries to divert the people into thinking that the foreign powers will solve the problem, the Palestinian people have stood firm in their battle for self-determination.
WDIE condemns the Israeli incursion and attempted genocide towards the Palestinian people, and salutes the Palestinian resistance on behalf of all the working people of Britain, expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and their fight for liberation and the right to be.
Press Release of the Muslim Council of Britain, March 3, 2008
The Muslim Council of Britain is deeply concerned that Britain is continuing to adopt a policy of partisan support for Israel despite its atrocious behaviour in Gaza this week where it has killed over 100 Palestinians including several children as young as six months old.
"The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, explicitly says that he condemns the use by some Palestinian groups of poor quality home made rockets, yet inexplicably he seems to refrain from condemning the far more serious military firepower deployed by Israel against Gaza's civilian population. This is blatantly one-sided and does our image in the international community and across the Muslim world no favours whatsoever. The actions of Israels military machine have been condemned by the UN Secretary general and even drew censure from the US State Department. Instead, our government should be insisting on the requirement for Israel to abide by all relevant UN resolutions and withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories, dismantle its illegal Jewish settlements and honour the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. If we are serious about wanting peace, we must act as honest brokers, not partisan bystanders," said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
Stuart Littlewood*, March 2, 2008
The Israel lobby is now deeply embedded at the heart of British politics. Israels stooges keep up an endless flow of misinformation calculated to corrupt Parliament, blind MPs to the truth and bend decisions to suit the foreign regimes interests.
We saw it in the run-up to the Iraq war. The public were well aware of the lies but politicians in their hundreds let themselves be persuaded to vote for an illegal, unjustifiable military adventure that was bound to cost countless thousands of innocent lives and ruin our reputation abroad.
The other day there was a House of Commons debate on settlements and closures in Palestine. Here's the kind of nonsense those stooges expect us to swallow.
Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): "Does the hon. Gentleman recollect that Israelis left all the settlements in Gaza? Indeed, the settlements were demolished and 8,000 settlers were removed, many forcibly, by the Israeli army. However, the consequence was that last year alone 2,000 rockets were fired from Gaza deliberately on civilian targets in Negev."
This idea that Gazans repay the removal of Israeli squatters with rockets is trotted out with monotonous regularity. If Mrs Ellman doesn't know the reasons for the Qassams, any Gazan will be happy to explain.
Mr Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): "Since 2000, more than 1,000 people in the region have been killed by suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks."
The occupation of Palestine is illegal so only Israelis killed while minding their own business in Israel can be considered terrorist victims. These total 595 according to the Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem. Mr Fabricant doesnt mention that in the same period 4472 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli state terrorists operating in Palestine. When it comes to kids the Israelis have achieved a kill rate of at least 10 to 1, slaughtering 875 while 80 Israeli children were killed by Palestinians.
In Gaza specifically the Israeli military has killed 800 and wounded over 1,000 Palestinians since Hamas took control of the Strip last summer, and has imposed a blockade aimed at starving the entire 1.4 million population in the hope of goading them into overthrowing their elected government.
As I write, Israeli air strikes have blasted 1 baby and 9 children into oblivion along with 20 other victims in 34 hours! While struggling to come to terms with this horror I see news of 4 children killed playing football. Suicide bombers weren't involved (the explosives being delivered impersonally by high technology) and these appalling casualties werent Israeli, so I doubt if theyll be reported in the British or US media.
Very latest figures (from BTselem) on Israels killing spree in January and February show 146 Palestinians dead 132 in the Gaza Strip and 14 in the West Bank. At least 42 were non-combatants and 11 were children. On the other side of the score-sheet 2 Israeli civilians were killed and one soldier.
Mr Fabricant is reported to have said on another occasion that terrorism against Israel and terrorism against Britain "are actually closely interlinked", and he called for the West to ally itself with Israel in view of the shared ideals of freedom and democracy. What common ground could Britain possibly have with a regime that practises apartheid, confiscates and plunders other people's lands, slaughters children and inflicts slow genocide on defenceless civilians, sends snatch squads to abduct citizens in the dead of night, demolishes homes, tortures and assassinates, uses prohibited weapons in civilian areas (e.g. thermobaric), and ceaselessly breaches the rules of civilised conduct?
To be allied with such people is hardly in our best interests. And why on earth would a mainly Christian nation wish to cuddle up to a regime that persecutes the Holy Lands Christian communities?
Mrs Ellman again: "Is not the nub of the Israeli-Palestinian problem that peace has been thwarted by Palestinian terrorists determined to kill as many Israelis as they can, with the deliberate objective of ruining peace initiatives?"
If Mrs Ellman paid attention she'd know that peace is off Israel's agenda until they have grabbed all the land and resources they want and established enough irreversible facts on the ground to ensure they keep their ill-gotten gains or can use them as bargaining chips. They are still expanding illegal settlements in defiance of earlier peace initiatives so clearly arent through yet with their criminal activities.
Mr Douglas Carswell (Harwich) (Con): "Israel is often criticised for its policy on settlements and the closure of territories. It is easy to make those criticisms, but I believe that they are unfair and that the UK Government must not join in with them. What else is Israel supposed to do? Her actions are essentially defensive, not aggressive. Israel has dismantled settlements in trying to seek a two-state solution, limited the growth of settlements and removed illegal posts. In Gaza Israel went so far as to remove posts, despite considerable criticism within Israel for doing so, and has been paid for that with numerous rocket attacks.
"As for the closure of territories, it is easy to portray the erection of the security barrier as a hostile act.... but again I believe that Israels actions are essentially those of a defensive liberal democracy. It built the security barrier to prevent suicide bombings and sniper attacks."
Dont you know, Mr Carswell, that the route of the Wall encloses strategic water resources and prime agricultural land? 875,000 Palestinians are believed to be directly affected, amounting to 38 percent of the West Bank population. The Wall is an evil device for changing the facts on the ground in order to expand Israeli territory and greatly reduce the viability of a future Palestinian state. Many rightly say it is a barrier against peace rather than a barrier against terrorists.
In any event, the International Court of Justice ruled 15 to 1 that the Wall is illegal and must come down, and compensation paid to Palestinians whose lands have been confiscated.
Mr Carswell again: "I am not a great fan of that institution. As for the idea that remote international judges should make the decisions for a democracy, I think that it is democratic Governments and national judiciaries that should make decisions, and should be accountable to the people. When Hamas abides by all the decisions of international bodies I shall be happy to put pressure on democratic Governments to abide by them, but it is slightly unfair to expect one side to conform to international law when another so clearly violates its principles."
Mr Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab) shot him down in flames: "I am utterly astonished by the contribution that we have just heard: it seems that if we are not fans of international institutions and treaties we are free to break those treaties. The reality is that Israel is in breach of international law by the construction of the Wall... This is not a struggle of equals, but a war of occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories."
Mr Carswell again: "Israel is a liberal democracy. The UK Governments policy should be to support it against those who want to destroy it. Where there are stable and responsible Governments, Israel has made peace. Israel is unable yet to find a lasting peace in the West Bank, or with Gaza or south Lebanon. That tells us more about the tyrants who run those territories."
It tells us, Mr Carswell, that there can be no peace under occupation, no peace with a gun to your head or a jackboot on your throat. Israel is an ethnocracy, racist to the core, driven by the territorial ambitions of a Zionist doctrine.
Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): "There should be no mistaking that Israel is prepared to live in peace with its neighbours and to go the extra mile to achieve that peace. The Palestinian people face a similar choice, as they have all along whatever else they do, they must first renounce terrorism in order to secure peace.
"It is not helpful for hon. Members, or indeed anyone else, to huff and puff about apartheid, or to use similar analogies, which are neither accurate nor warranted, given that 20 per cent of full Israeli citizens are Arabs and that the country has the benefit of both a free press and an independent judiciary."
So what are we to make of Israel's Chief Rabbi, who argues for an ethnic cleansing programme to transfer Gazans out and dump them in the Sinai desert? He even calls for Britain, the European Union and the United States to assist in the construction of a Palestinian state in the middle of nowhere. He also has the cheek to claim that Muslims "have no connection to Jerusalem" and must recognise that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. This is the same rabbi who thanked Bush for waging war against Iraq.
You are sadly misinformed about the status of non-Jews in Israel, Mr Newmark. And when did Israels military courts (which most abducted Palestinian civilians are dragged in front of) become independent? They have been condemned by an Israel human rights group for producing "automatic convictions". And you surely know about administrative detention, a farcical procedure used by Israel to arrest, torture and imprison people without cause, without trial and without conviction. Its something you won't find in any civilised country. Some 800 Palestinians have been held for 15 years or more under this system. And lets not forget the 36 Hamas MPs kidnapped and still languishing in prison for no good reason except to disable Palestines democratically elected government.
Mr Newmark again: "At the current rate of fire, by the end of 2008, 4,500 rockets and mortar shells will have been fired by terrorist organisations from Gaza alone. Given those statistics, it is hardly surprising that Israels current guiding principle in deciding upon further withdrawals is once bitten, twice shy. Another certainty is that Israeli citizens have the right to live without fear of attack. Already this year, 31 Israelis have been killed or wounded and the daily strike rate reached its highest ever level in January."
Your statistics are commendable, as far as they go. Have you also kept count of the bombs, rockets, tank shells and other ordnance delivered by Israels F-16s, armed drones, helicopter gunships, tanks and naval vessels into Gaza, Mr Newmark, and the Palestinian deaths resulting from the bombardment and siege?
The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): "Suicide bombings... it is the most foolish thing that any defender of the Palestinian cause can do. A few years ago, I heard an hon. Member say, If I were Palestinian, Id be a suicide bomber. That is not what a responsible representative in a democracy should say; such a statement contains elements of the insanity that drives people to do that."
Dr Howells fails to understand the hopelessness and despair felt by people under brutal military occupation who have seen their economy strangled, home destroyed and loved ones murdered. Given that the good doctor is a former chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, it was surely an act of folly to put him in charge of Middle East affairs. The person he misquoted is Jenny Tonge, who was sacked from the Liberal Democrat team by the then leader Charles Kennedy for saying about Palestinian suicide bombers: "If I had to live in that situation I might just consider becoming one myself."
Kennedy said the remark was "completely unacceptable". Mrs Ellman, another Labour Friend of Israel and eager to put the knife in, welcomed Kennedy's decision. "It recognises that her statement was irresponsible and gave the green light to terrorism," she said.
Dr Howells again: "...We have not mentioned today the outside powers that are meddling in the situation, fighting wars of their own by proxy. The influence of Damascus and Tehran is not positive. Nor is the way in which money is given to terrorist organisations when it is known that they will use it to kill innocent Israeli civilians. That cannot help the situation.... There must be concessions on both sides, particularly on the issue of settlement, which must be taken seriously."
He might almost have been talking about that mega-meddler America, which defends, arms and gives mega-bucks to fund Israeli extremism. Who exactly are the "terrorists" in this scenario? If terrorism is the inflicting of fear on a population for political ends, Israel is guilty of state terrorism. Dr Howells seems to forget that the State of Israel was founded by terror gangs such as the one that blew up the British mandate government in the King David Hotel in 1946, killing 90. And whats this about concessions? The International Court and the UN have ruled and spoken. All that's needed is enforcement. And sanctions, no doubt.
Dr Howells, why not take yourself and fellow Friends of Israel off to Gaza? No Israeli ministerial briefings and hospitality this trip Sit down and have coffee with Hamas. Drop in on the Christian community. Tour the hospitals with their exhausted stocks of drugs and broken-down equipment and watch the chronically sick dying in agony. Inspect the overloaded sewage system but on no account taste the water now that the disinfectants have run out. Check the fuel-starved electricity power station and the disintegrating infrastructure. Talk to the 3000 fishermen who cannot put to sea without being shelled by Israeli gunboats. Dodge the air-raids and hide from the snooping drones. Meet the so-called militants and ask them what drives them to do what they do. Shiver through the long dark cold nights without power. Share the meagre rations of the 85 percent living in abject poverty. Experience the humiliation and frustration of being processed through the Erez border crossing.
Perhaps you would like to meet the children who have been horribly maimed by Israels military, like the one my journalist friend Mohammed Omer wrote to me about this morning. " I met with two children who survived Wednesdays Jabalyia soccer bombing: the other 4 kids were, as you likely know, killed. One of the children I saw had no flesh on their legs, had burns all over their bodies from the tank shelling. This was one of the scariest things I have seen yet, and I have seen a lot more than that.
"I asked one boy to give me details of what happened that Thursday afternoon. The 9 year old boy cried while he told that hed seen the decapitated head of his cousin strewn far from his body, arms and legs, far away from where they were all playing soccer. His mother added that there wasnt any electricity when her son was admitted to the hospital.
"He was crying as he told the story, his tears hurting him even more than his psychological pain, as he has burns in his eyes. His mother uncovered his wounded leg where I could only see bones without flesh in places."
Reuters reports that Israel is now threatening Gazans with a shoah a holocaust or disaster as if they havent been tormented and terrorised enough. A ceasefire petition organised by Gush Shalom has just arrived in my intray. It says: The siege of Gaza and the collective punishment of its population are totally unacceptable. It is a medieval form of war which is in utter contradiction to the present norms of human rights and international law which Israel, as an occupying power, is bound to respect. There should be an immediate end to the siege, unconnected with any other issue, and the Gaza Strip must have free access to the outside world, for the free passage of persons and goods.
It is regrettable, but no longer surprising, that our own Government couldnt have come to the same conclusion. Prolonging the awful suffering of Gazas civilians and lately increasing the murderous atrocities is beyond reason and beyond excuse. We are watching a replay of the shameful British thumb-twiddling that went on while our friends continued with impunity their merciless pounding of Lebanese civilians in 2006.
The British government, whose prime minister is a patron of the Jewish National Fund, regularly mouths off about freedom and democracy but is terrified to speak out on behalf of the oppressed, let alone suit action to words, if it might upset the bully-boy axis Israel and the US. Every half-starved Gazan who picks up a Kalashnikov rifle and stands up for freedom against the most powerful and destructive army in the Middle East, has more raw courage in his little finger than the whole shabby British government put together.
British-Jewish MP Sir Gerald Kaufman recently branded the Israeli government a gang of amoral thugs. Whatever they are, theyre out of control and not worthy of anyones friendship.
* Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk
Ali Abunimah*, The Electronic Intifada, February 29, 2008
Israeli officials began damage limitation efforts after the country's deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip with a "holocaust".
The comments came a day after Israeli occupation forces killed 31 Palestinians, nine of them children, one a six-month-old baby, in a series of air raids across the Gaza Strip. Israel claimed that the attacks were in retaliation for a barrage of rockets fired by resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip which killed one Israeli in the town of Sderot on Wednesday, February 27. Palestinian resistance groups, including Hamas, said the rockets were in retaliation for the extrajudicial execution of five Hamas members carried out by Israel on Wednesday morning. Israeli occupation forces have killed more than 200 Palestinians since the US-sponsored Annapolis peace summit last November. In the same period, five Israelis have been killed by Palestinians.
Speaking to Israeli army radio today, Vilnai said, "The more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."
A report on the BBC News website headlined "Israel warns of Gaza 'holocaust'" noted that in Israel the word "holocaust" shoah in Hebrew is "a term rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi genocide during World War II".
The BBC later reported that "many of Mr. Vilnai's colleagues have quickly distanced themselves from his comments and also tried to downplay them saying he did not mean genocide". An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Arye Mekel, claimed that Vilnai used the word "in the sense of a disaster or a catastrophe, and not in the sense of a holocaust".
The attempt to limit the damage of Vilnai's comments is not surprising. It was recently revealed how another Israeli official, Major-General Doron Almog, narrowly escaped arrest at London's Heathrow airport in September 2005, in connection with allegations of war crimes committed against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. British police feared a gunfight if they attempted to board the El Al civilian aircraft on which Almog had arrived and on which he hid until he fled the United Kingdom back to Israel as a fugitive from justice.
Incitement to genocide is a punishable crime under the international Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948 after the Nazi holocaust.
"The 8 Stages of Genocide," written by Greg Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, sets out a number of warning signs of an impending genocide, which include "dehumanisation" of potential victim groups and preparation, whereby potential victims "are often segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine-struck region and starved." 
Vilnai's holocaust threat, however much Israeli officials attempt to qualify it, fits into a consistent pattern of belligerent statements and actions by Israeli officials. Israel has attempted to isolate the population of Gaza, deliberately restricting essential supplies, such as food, medicines and energy, a policy endorsed by the Israeli high court but condemned by international officials as illegal collective punishment.
As The Electronic Intifada has previously reported, dehumanising statements by Israeli political and religious leaders directed at Palestinians are common (see "Top Israeli rabbis advocate genocide," The Electronic Intifada, 31 May 2007 and "Dehumanising the Palestinians," Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 21 September 2007)
On February 28, Vilnai's colleagues added their own inflammatory statements. Cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit stated that Israel should "hit everything that moves" in Gaza "with weapons and ammunition", adding, "I don't think we have to show pity for anyone who wants to kill us."
And today, Tzachi Hanegbi, a senior member of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party said that Israel should invade Gaza to "topple the Hamas terror regime" and that Israeli forces, which now enforce the occupation of Gaza from the periphery and air, should prepare to remain in the interior of the territory "for years".
While Israeli leaders escalate the violence and threats, some other top officials and a vast majority of the Israeli public support direct talks with Hamas to achieve a mutual ceasefire, something Hamas has repeatedly offered for months.
"Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit," the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on February 27 citing a Tel Aviv University poll. The report noted that half of Likud supporters and large majorities of Kadima and Labour party voters support such talks and only 28 percent of Israelis still oppose them.
Knesset Member Yossi Beilin, leader of the left-Zionist Meretz-Yahad party, called for an agreed ceasefire with Hamas, noting that "there have been at least two requests from Hamas, via a third party, to accept a cease-fire", Haaretz reported on February 29. Israel's public security minister, Avi Dichter, visiting Sderot the previous day, criticised Israel's military escalation, saying, "Whoever talks about entering and occupying the Gaza Strip, these are populist ideas which I don't connect to, and in my opinion, no intelligent person does either." And, in an interview with the American magazine Mother Jones, published on February 19, the former head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Efraim Halevy, repeated calls for Israel and the US to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas. Dismissing lurid rhetoric about the group, Halevy stated that "Hamas is not al-Qaida", and "is not subservient to Tehran".
The question remains as to why when the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, some senior Israeli officials, and Hamas leaders are all talking about a ceasefire, the Israeli government refuses to accept one and the US refuses to call for one. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has blamed the escalating bloodshed entirely on Hamas, and has failed to call for a ceasefire. This echoes her support for Israel's merciless 2006 bombardment of Lebanon which she notoriously celebrated as being "the birth pangs of a new Middle East".
The Palestinian and Israeli populations are exhausted by the relentless bloodshed, however unequal its toll. They are paying the price of a failed policy, pushed by Washington and its local clients, which attempts to demonise, isolate and destroy any movement that resists the order that the United States seeks to impose on the region.
* Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse (Metropolitan Books, 2006).
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using " excessive" force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive on March 1 after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s.
Ban was addressing an emergency session of the Security Council in New York after four days of fighting in which 96 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians.
"While recognising Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children ... I call on Israel to cease such attacks," said Ban. "I condemn Palestinian rocket attacks and call for the immediate cessation of such acts of terrorism," he said.
Diplomats said the Security Council was unlikely to adopt a Libyan resolution that condemns Israel's killing of civilians but makes no mention of the Palestinian rocket fire.
European diplomats said they believed the world body should at least make some comment on bloodshed which some say jeopardises the new US-backed peace talks between Israel and Abbas, who holds sway now only in the occupied West Bank.
Following the meeting, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which currently holds the monthly rotating presidency of the Council, on March 2 read out a summary of the discussions that was agreed to by all 15 members of the panel. Voicing deep concern about the loss of civilian life and the escalation of violence in the region, Council members called on all sides to respect their obligations under international law and to immediately cease all acts of violence.
"These acts must not be allowed to deter the political process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, aimed at establishing two States Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security," Mr Churkin said.
(source: Reuters, UN News)
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