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ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES: 2003 - 2006
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"And if I could, I would send you a bone. Not to call you to war, but away from it. Something you cannot avoid seeing, touching. Something to make the blood on our hands visible, unmistakable. A limb, a shoulder, a hunk of flesh dripping real blood, from the rubble beneath the bulldozer, the doorstep, from the child shot dead in the gunfight or buried under the house, from the bomb shelters of Baghdad and from the bloody busses of Tel Aviv. A bone red with blood to say: This is what colonization requires: blood soaked sand, holy earth defiled with death, human sacrifice." -- STARHAWK
A Bone from Rafah by "Starhawk" in Palestine on March 26th 2003. Full text.                The Photo

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
UNITED STATES: CUT OFF CLUSTER MUNITION SALES TO ISRAEL

Compel Israel to Provide Strike Data

(Washington, DC, January 29, 2007)

– Preliminary US government findings that Israel violated agreements with the United States by its use of cluster munitions in Lebanon last summer should lead to an immediate cutoff of all US cluster munitions sales to Israel, Human Rights Watch said today. " The issue is not whether Israel used the American cluster munitions lawfully, but what the US is going to do about it. "

The Bush administration is expected to report to Congress today on a State Department investigation into the use of US-made cluster munitions by Israel. Demining groups estimate that Israel used cluster munitions containing some 2.6 to 4 million submunitions in Lebanon, the majority of which were produced in the United States. Israel’s use of cluster munitions was the most extensive anywhere in the world since the 1991 Gulf War.

“We’ve investigated cluster munitions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, but we’ve never seen use of cluster munitions that was so extensive and dangerous to civilians,” said Steve Goose, director of the arms division at Human Rights Watch. “The issue is not whether Israel used the American cluster munitions lawfully, but what the US is going to do about it.”

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH


ISRAEL: IDF PROBE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR REAL INVESTIGATION

Internal Army Probe into Beit Hanoun Deaths is Insufficient

   (Jerusalem, November 10, 2006)

– The Israel Defense Forces' internal inquiry into its artillery shelling of Beit Hanoun, which killed 19 Palestinian civilians and left dozens injured in northern Gaza, failed to address the key questions of whether the attack was a violation of international law and who should be held accountable for the lethal fire, Human Rights Watch said today. The Israeli government should immediately conduct a comprehensive independent investigation to establish these issues.

"The IDF's internal probe suggests that the Beit Hanoun tragedy can be chalked up to an errant volley of shells," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. "But a comprehensive investigation should start with questioning whether Israel had any business firing artillery shells into this civilian area to begin with."

    Human Rights Watch said that the investigation should examine the policy that has led Israel to fire some 15,000 artillery shells into Gaza since September 2005, killing 49 Palestinian civilians and seriously injuring dozens more. A comprehensive investigation should identify issues of individual and command responsibility, including criminal responsibility, for any violation of international humanitarian law committed in the conduct of these artillery operations in northern Gaza...


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WE OVERCAME OUR FEAR

The unarmed women of the Gaza Strip have taken the lead in resisting Israel's latest bloody assault


Jameela al-Shanti in Beit Hanoun
Thursday November 9, 2006
The Guardian

   Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week.

This is Israel's tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents. For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.

It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine.

We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege. The soldiers of Israel's so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever.

Later an Israeli plane shelled a bus taking children to a kindergarten. Two children were killed, along with their teacher. In the last week 30 children have died. As I go round the crowded hospital, it is deeply poignant to see the large number of small bodies with their scars and amputated limbs. We clutch our children tightly when we go to sleep, vainly hoping that we can shield them from Israel's tanks and warplanes.

But as though this occupation and collective punishment were not enough, we Palestinians find ourselves the targets of a systematic siege imposed by the so-called free world. We are being starved and suffocated as a punishment for daring to exercise our democratic right to choose who rules and represents us. Nothing undermines the west's claims to defend freedom and democracy more than what is happening in Palestine. Shortly after announcing his project to democratise the Middle East, President Bush did all he could to strangle our nascent democracy, arresting our ministers and MPs. I have yet to hear western condemnation that I, an elected MP, have had my home demolished and relatives killed by Israel's bombs. When the bodies of my friends and colleagues were torn apart there was not one word from those who claim to be defenders of women's rights on Capitol Hill and in 10 Downing Street.

Why should we Palestinians have to accept the theft of our land, the ethnic cleansing of our people, incarcerated in forsaken refugee camps, and the denial of our most basic human rights, without protesting and resisting?

The lesson the world should learn from Beit Hanoun last week is that Palestinians will never relinquish our land, towns and villages. We will not surrender our legitimate rights for a piece of bread or handful of rice. The women of Palestine will resist this monstrous occupation imposed on us at gunpoint, siege and starvation. Our rights and those of future generations are not open for negotiation.

Whoever wants peace in Palestine and the region must direct their words and sanctions to the occupier, not the occupied, the aggressor not the victim. The truth is that the solution lies with Israel, its army and allies - not with Palestine's women and children.

· Jameela al-Shanti is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas. She led a women's protest against the siege of Beit Hanoun last Friday

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BEIT HANOUN:
ISRAELIS PULL OUT LEAVING TRAIL OF DEATH


· Legacy of bitterness after six-day operation in Gaza
· Soldiers say they targeted rocket-launching cells

Rory McCarthy in Beit Hanoun
Tuesday November 7, 2006
Guardian Unlimited


Hours after the Israeli military pulled out of the town of Beit Hanoun this morning, Talal Nasr was at the cemetery to search for a spot to bury the body of his 13-year-old daughter.

It was the first time for six days that any of the town’s residents had been allowed out of their homes, the duration of Israel’s biggest military operation in the Gaza Strip for months. The streets quickly filled and many headed out to mourn and bury their dead.

The cemetery at Beit Hanoun is small and overcrowded, and it took Mr Nasr three hours to find a space for his daughter Wala’a, the victim of an Israeli sniper’s bullet to the forehead. In the end he found a spot almost on top of a grave dug 30 years before, and he and his family filled the new hole, setting up six folded palm fronds to shade it.

Wala’a died last week in the middle of the military incursion. It was dusk and Mr Nasr, 52, was at home with his four young daughters and his sister-in-law. Through loudspeakers the Israeli military had called all men in the town between 16 and 45 to appear for questioning. Mr Nasr’s son and brother, who lived in an apartment next door, went for interrogation.

Israeli troops appeared outside the family’s house and began shouting. “They were screaming but we couldn’t understand what they were saying,” Mr Nasr said. “I asked my sister-in-law to open the window a little.” There was no electricity so the family lit a candle. “She shouted out of the window to the soldiers: ‘What do you want? Do you need anything from us?’ Suddenly the firing started.”

His sister-in-law was hit in the shoulder. Then a bullet came through the window, across the living room and into the corridor where Wala’a was standing. A pool of dark blood still lay today on the spot where she died.

“We couldn’t move, we were so scared,” Mr Nasr said. “I started screaming: ‘My daughter is dead.’” They took the candle and hurried downstairs and out on to the street. There a unit of Israeli soldiers told them they believed there were militants in the building. Once the soldiers had taken Mr Nasr with them to search the house and found nothing, ambulance workers removed Wala’a’s body. Today the family returned to the house for the first time.

“It was just an act of aggression,” Mr Nasr said. “They said this operation was to stop the rockets. But if I was convinced of the need for a peace process before, now I am not. And my daughters - when their sister was killed before their eyes how can you convince them of the peace process?”

Later, Wala’a’s uncle Nidal stood over her grave in the cemetery and said: “You know, the more pressure they put on the militants, the more the people stand with them.”

At least 50 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed in the operation. Among the dead were civilians and militants. Fierce gunbattles left large parts of the town centre in ruins, including the al-Nasr mosque, where a group of fighters were holed up last week and which had been reduced to rubble except for the minaret with its turquoise roof.

The front walls of many houses and shops had been punched through, so that living rooms and kitchens were exposed to the street. Rubble was strewn across the streets, sewage flowed thick and gardens had been ripped up by tanks.

The Israeli military said the goal of Operation Autumn Clouds had been to attack militants launching rockets into Israel. It said dozens of armed gunmen had been killed and large amounts of weaponry discovered, including rocket launchers, grenades and rifles. It said “nine rocket launching cells” were hit. “The IDF operation targets terrorist organisations and terrorist infrastructure only, while making every effort to avoid harming civilians,” it said. “The IDF continues to warn civilians to stay away from combat areas.”

Israeli troops were still operating in other parts of Gaza tonight and militants continued to fire rockets into Israel.

PALESTINIANS FORCED TO SCAVENGE FOR FOOD ON RUBBISH DUMPS

By Patrick Cockburn in Jerusalem
Published: 09 September 2006
THE INDEPENDENT

The Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to a collapse in Palestinian living conditions and many people only survive by looking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps, say international aid agencies.

"The pressure and tactics have not resulted in a desire for compromise," Karen Abuzayd, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency is said to have warned. "But rather they have created mass despair, anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment."

Israel closed the entry and exit points into the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, on 25 June and has conducted frequent raids and bombings that have killed 262 people and wounded 1,200. The crisis in Gaza has been largely ignored by the rest of the world, which has been absorbed by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

. . . Not only do Palestinians in Gaza get little to eat but what food they have is eaten cold because of the lack of electricity and money to pay for fuel. The Gaza power plant was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in June. In one month alone 4 per cent of Gaza's agricultural land was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.

The total closure imposed by Israel, supplemented by deadly raids, has led to the collapse of the Gazan economy. The 35,000 fishermen cannot fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go more than a few hundred yards from the shore. At the same time the international boycott of the Hamas government means that there is no foreign aid to pay Palestinian government employees. The government used to have a monthly budget of $180-200m, half of which went to pay 165,000 public sector workers. But it now has only $25m a month.

. . . The total closure imposed by Israel dates from the seizure of Cpl Gilad Shalit by Palestinian militants on 25 June. Between then and the end of August, Israeli security forces killed 226 Palestinians, 54 of them minors, in the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem. Of these it says that 114 were taking no part in any hostilities.

"Women in Gaza tell me they are eating only one meal a day, bread with tomatoes or cheap vegetables," said Kirstie Campbell of the UN's World Food Programme, which is feeding 235,000 people. She added that in June, since when the crisis has worsened, some 70 per cent of people in Gaza could not meet their family's food needs. "People are raiding garbage dumps," she said.

AMNESTY REPORT ACCUSES ISRAEL OF WAR CRIMES

Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure

David Fickling
Wednesday August 23, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Israel deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure and committed war crimes during the month-long conflict in Lebanon, according to an Amnesty International report.

The report said strikes on civilian buildings and structures went beyond "collateral damage" and amounted to indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks under the Geneva conventions on the laws of war.

Kate Gilmore, the Amnesty executive deputy secretary general, said the bombardment of power and water plants and transport links was "deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy".

"Israel's assertion that the attacks on the infrastructure were lawful is manifestly wrong," she said.

"Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes. The pattern, scope and scale of the attacks makes Israel's claim that this was collateral damage simply not credible."

Amnesty called for an official UN inquiry into human rights violations on both sides of the conflict.

The report's authors described the destruction of up to 90% of some towns and villages in southern Lebanon, releasing aerial photographs that showed Beirut's southern Dahiya district had been transformed from a bustling suburb into a grey wasteland.

"In village after village the pattern was similar - the streets, especially main streets, were scarred with artillery craters along their length," the report said.

"In some cases, cluster bomb impacts were identified. Houses were singled out for precision-guided missile attack and were destroyed, totally or partially, as a result.

"Business premises such as supermarkets or food stores and auto service stations and petrol stations were targeted, often with precision-guided munitions and artillery that started fires and destroyed their contents."

Israel launched more than 7,000 air strikes against Lebanon during the 34-day war, and naval vessels launched 2,500 shells, the report said.

Around one third of the 1,183 people killed in Lebanon were children, while 4,054 people were injured and 970,000 displaced.

Lebanese estimates suggest that 30,000 houses, along with up to 120 bridges, 94 roads, 25 fuel stations and 900 businesses, were destroyed.

Two hospitals were destroyed and three others severely damaged, while 31 "vital points" - such as airports, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, and electrical facilities - were also completely or partially destroyed.

The overall cost of the damage amounted to $3.5bn (£1.8bn), the report said.

Around 4,000 Hizbullah rockets were fired at northern Israel during the conflict, killing around 40 civilians. Up to 300,000 people in northern Israel were driven into bomb shelters by the fighting, and 117 soldiers died.

The Amnesty report said Israeli military policy seemed directed at destroying Lebanese popular support for Hizbullah, a tactic prohibited by the Geneva conventions.

"The widespread destruction ... in addition to several statements by Israeli officials, suggests a policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population in an effort to get them to turn against Hizbullah," it said.


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WASHINGTON’S INTERESTS IN ISRAEL’S WAR.
WATCHING LEBANON
NEW YORK TIMES

by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Posted 2006-08-14

   In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s a moment of clarification,” President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why we don’t have peace in the Middle East.” He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the “root causes of instability,” and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until “the conditions are conducive

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

... According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.” The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by Hezbollah. He went on, “The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of Middle East democracy.”
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Human Rights Watch

U.S.: DENY ISRAELI REQUEST FOR CLUSTER MUNITIONS

Use in Lebanon Has Killed and Maimed Civilians

(Washington, D.C., August 11, 2006) – The United States should reject any request by Israel to transfer cluster munitions for use against targets in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch wrote in a letter to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley today. Civilians in Lebanon have already died from Israel’s use of similar weapons, which blanket a wide area with deadly submunitions.

According to the August 11 edition of the New York Times, Israel has requested delivery of surface-launched M26 artillery rockets for use against locations in Lebanon where it believes Hezbollah fighters are launching Katyusha rockets into Israel. The wide dispersal pattern of submunitions from M26 rockets makes it very difficult to avoid civilian casualties if civilians are in the area. Moreover, because so many of the submunitions initially fail to detonate, M26 rockets leave behind large numbers of hazardous explosive “duds” that are akin to landmines, injuring and killing civilians long after the attack.

“Harm to civilians is inevitable if Israel uses M26 rockets in Lebanon,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “These weapons killed or wounded hundreds of civilians in Iraq in 2003. Washington has a duty not to assist in replicating that death toll in southern Lebanon.”

... In the current conflict, Israel has already used artillery-fired cluster munitions against populated areas, causing civilian casualties. According to eyewitnesses and survivors of an attack interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Israel fired several artillery-based cluster munitions at the village of Blida around 3:00 p.m. on July 19. Three witnesses described how the artillery shells dropped hundreds of cluster submunitions on the village.


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WHILE THE BOMBS FALL
By Starhawk

12 Aug 2006
   While the bombs fall in Lebanon, I’m teaching a two-week course in permaculture: regenerative, ecological design, with a schedule so demanding that I find it hard to check email every day, let alone watch the news. But it comes in, between lesser messages about leaks in the watering system in the garden and flight cancellations: pictures of dead children on the road. I feel horrified, angry, frustrated, powerless…all the things I’m used to feeling about the situation, but more so. I try to write something in the spare moments when my teaching partner Penny is covering rain catchment or graywater systems, but all I keep writing, over and over, is “Killing children is wrong.” That sees so self-evident and banal that I can’t quite bring myself to send it out. Or rather, it doesn’t seem to add much to a discussion in which the decision makers are so convinced that killing our children is very, very wrong, but killing their children is the Path of Righteousness.

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LEBANON WAR QUESTION AND ANSWER

by Stephen R. Shalom
August 07, 2006

DOESN'T ISRAEL HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEFEND ITSELF?

   One has the right to self-defense if one is not oneself guilty of aggression. So, for example, the Soviet Union could not invoke self-defense when its occupation troops in Afghanistan were attacked by Afghan mujahideen. Instead, it ought to have withdrawn its troops. Likewise, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is illegal and unjust and Israel can't claim self-defense when Palestinians struggle by legitimate means to end the occupation. The proper Israeli response to such Palestinian actions is not self-defense, but full withdrawal from the occupied territories.

The situation with Lebanon is different; whereas in Palestine, Israel was engaged in an ongoing aggression, in Lebanon the Israeli violations of Lebanese rights prior to July 12, 2006, were far less substantial, and less immediate.

But even when a country's own prior acts aren't contributory causes of an attack, international law places various limitations on the right of self-defense to that attack.

One limitation is that the right of self-defense is meant to give nations the right to take measures to repel an armed attack until the UN Security Council can act to stop the aggression. If an enemy's tanks are hurtling toward your capital city, any delay in responding would mean further losses and further harm. In the case of the Hezbollah raid across the Israeli border on July 12, 2006, the act of aggression took place and was over; it was not an ongoing aggression to which any delay in responding would have meant additional harm to Israel. Once the immediate danger is over, international law requires that victims of aggression bring their cases to the Security Council for action.

Of course, the Security Council is not always able to act. But the main obstacle to Security Council action has generally been the veto wielded by Washington on behalf of Israel.

A second requirement of international law is that acts taken in self-defense must be proportionate to the offense.

This is interesting reading.
How many Israelis were killed in the last 4 years by Hezbollah rockets?
Did Israel bomb Lebanon BEFORE or AFTER Hezbollah fired rockets into Israel?
Does Israel hold Hezbollah hostages?
Which side has committed war crimes?
More questions and answers


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HOW THE WAR IN LEBANON STARTED
4 August 2006

Everything you wanted to know. This long page will take you to the start of the war. Not when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, but when it really started.


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HEZBOLLAH, all you want to know.

31 July 2006

The media, following along with the US government and Israel, claim that Hezbollah, is just a "cat's paw of Iran/ Syria". It makes for a good story, easy to understand; the bad guys are easily identified. Pity the reality is so different.

If you act of false information, you can't expect the results you wanted. For example, you base your war on the belief that there are Weapons of Mass Destruction hidden under every rock, you are not going get a worthwhile result.


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END INDISCRIMINATE STRIKES ON CIVILIANS
Some Israeli attacks amount to war crimes


Beirut, August 3, 2006


Israel/Lebanon: – Israeli forces have systematically failed to distinguish between combatants and civilians in their military campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Human Rights Watch said in report released today. The pattern of attacks in more than 20 cases investigated by Human Rights Watch researchers in Lebanon indicates that the failures cannot be dismissed as mere accidents and cannot be blamed on wrongful Hezbollah practices. In some cases, these attacks constitute war crimes.

" The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians. Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare. " Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

The 50-page report, “Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon,” analyzes almost two dozen cases of Israeli air and artillery attacks on civilian homes and vehicles. Of the 153 dead civilians named in the report, 63 are children. More than 500 people have been killed in Lebanon by Israeli fire since fighting began on July 12, most of them civilians.

“The pattern of attacks shows the Israeli military’s disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Our research shows that Israel’s claim that Hezbollah fighters are hiding among civilians does not explain, let alone justify, Israel’s indiscriminate warfare.”

... Human Rights Watch researchers found numerous cases in which the IDF launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military objectives but excessive civilian cost. In many cases, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians.

In one case, an Israeli air strike on July 13 destroyed the home of a cleric known to have sympathy for Hezbollah but who was not known to have taken any active part in the hostilities. Even if the IDF considered him a legitimate target (and Human Rights Watch has no evidence that he was), the strike killed him, his wife, their 10 children and the family’s Sri Lankan maid.

On July 16, an Israeli aircraft fired on a civilian home in the village of Aitaroun, killing 11 members of the al-Akhrass family, among them seven Canadian-Lebanese dual nationals who were vacationing in the village when the war began. Human Rights Watch independently interviewed three villagers who vigorously denied that the family had any connection to Hezbollah. Among the victims were children aged one, three, five and seven.

... “Hezbollah fighters must not hide behind civilians – that’s an absolute – but the image that Israel has promoted of such shielding as the cause of so high a civilian death toll is wrong,” Roth said. “In the many cases of civilian deaths examined by Human Rights Watch, the location of Hezbollah troops and arms had nothing to do with the deaths because there was no Hezbollah around.”

Statements from Israeli government officials and military leaders suggest that, at the very least, the IDF has blurred the distinction between civilians and combatants, arguing that only people associated with Hezbollah remain in southern Lebanon, so all are legitimate targets of attack. Under international law, however, only civilians directly participating in hostilities lose their immunity from attack. Many civilians have been unable to flee because they are sick, wounded, do not have the means to leave or are providing essential civil services.

Many civilians are afraid to leave the south because the roads are under Israeli attack. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have fled their homes, but Israeli forces have fired with warplanes and artillery on dozens of civilian vehicles, many flying white flags. Israel has justified its attacks on roads by citing the need to target Hezbollah fighters moving arms and block their transport routes.

However, none of the evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch or reported to date by independent media sources indicate that any of the attacks on vehicles documented in the report resulted in Hezbollah casualties or the destruction of weapons. Rather, the attacks have killed and wounded civilians who were fleeing their homes after the IDF issued instructions to evacuate.

“Israeli warnings of imminent attacks do not turn civilians into military targets,” said Roth. “Otherwise, Palestinian militant groups might ‘warn’ Israeli settlers to leave their settlements and then feel justified in attacking those who remained.”

In previous reporting, Human Rights Watch has addressed the conduct of Hezbollah forces, condemning its attacks on civilian areas as serious violations of international humanitarian law amounting to war crimes. ...



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GAZA IN THE VISE

July 11, 2006
Omar Karmi


... A campaign of Israeli artillery fire, mostly at targets in the northern Gaza Strip, dramatically intensified in late spring, in response, according to the Israeli government, to the firing of homemade Palestinian Qassam rockets over the Gaza border at targets inside Israel. The campaign also came shortly after the formation at the end of March of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, eight weeks after the Islamist movement won parliamentary elections.

According to a June 21 report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel fired 781 artillery shells into Gaza in the first three months of the year. The same period saw 417 Qassam rockets fired into Israel. From April to June 20, however, an extraordinary 7,599 Israeli artillery shells were launched at Gaza, compared to 479 Qassams shooting in the other direction.

From June 9 to June 20, 31 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, including 10 children, six of them five years old or younger. Those numbers include seven members of the Ghalia family, who were killed on a northern Gaza beach on June 9. The killings caused outrage among Palestinians and made an icon out of Huda Ghalia, 10, the surviving daughter, who was caught on camera in the aftermath of the bombing crying out for her father next to his body.

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THE UBER-WARDENS
by Amira Hass
April 13, 2006



Two weeks ago, on Election Day, at 8 A.M., drivers wishing to leave Tul Karm from the eastern exit (toward Anabta) discovered that their permits were invalid. A soldier at the checkpoint, who prevented the passage of the drivers, apologized: Today, leaving the city by car is permitted only to residents of the three neighboring villages - Shufa, Safrin and Beit Lid, he explained to Machsom Watch activists. "And in general, this is not a checkpoint (through which the permits are meant to allow passage - A.H.), but a barricade. And here there are no permits; here there are procedures."

Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation are imprisoned in a thicket of physical, corporeal barriers of all types and sizes (checkpoints, roadblocks, blockades, fences, walls, steel gates, roads prohibited to traffic, dirt embankments, concrete cubes) and by a frequently updated assortment of bans and limitations.

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PALESTINIAN HEALTH CARE CONDITIONS UNDER OCCUPATION

April 10, 2006

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 36 health care workers have been killed, 447 health providers have been wounded and 129 patients have died at Israeli checkpoints. How? There have been 375 attacks on health care centers, 383 attacks on ambulances, with 38 ambulances destroyed altogether.

Palestinian women in labor have not been left out of the equation of military occupation. Since September 28, 2000, at least 67 women have given birth at Israeli checkpoints. As a result, 39 newborns died or they were delivered stillborn.

According to a map from the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem there are over 100 established checkpoints throughout the West Bank, an area totaling 5,970 sq. km, and this figure does not include flying checkpoints and barriers, such as roadblocks, razed roads, dirt mounds, etc. When Israel completes construction of the wall, approximately 33 per cent of villages within the West Bank will be denied “…free and open access to their health care system,” per the IHC. Moreover, 81 per cent “…of people living in isolated zones and enclaves cannot access primary health clinics, medical centers, and hospitals as needed.”

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ISRAEL: MILITARY MUST ACCOUNT FOR KILLINGS OF TWO CHILDREN

Human Rights Watch

(Jerusalem, February 8, 2006)
  – The Israel Defense Forces' top judicial officer should demonstrate his resolve to combat impunity by immediately ordering thorough and effective criminal investigations into the latest shooting deaths of Palestinian children by Israeli forces during policing operations, Human Rights Watch said today....

"The Israeli military's failure to conduct effective investigations into civilian killings has fostered impunity in its ranks," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

On January 23, Israeli soldiers shot a 13-year-old Palestinian boy in the back as he walked along a West Bank road reserved for Jewish settlers. The boy, Munadel Abu Aalia, from the nearby village of El-Mughayer (near Ramallah), died the same day. After first telling the press that the boy and his friends were planning to throw stones at settler cars, Israeli military officials then told journalists that the boys were planting an explosive device.

The Israel Defense Forces' allegation that the boy posed a threat should not preempt a criminal investigation since media accounts suggest that the incident occurred outside the context of any exchange of fire, he was shot in the back, he reportedly was far from any conceivable target when he was shot, and the incident occurred in broad daylight. The soldiers did not fire warning shots or attempt to question or arrest the boys first.

In a second incident, soldiers patrolling Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on January 26 shot dead a 9-year-old Palestinian girl on the other side, not far from her home in Khan Younis. Gaza-based human rights organizations investigating the case found that Israeli forces had opened indiscriminate fire on Aya al-Astal without warning when they saw something moving near the border.

Afterwards, the Israeli military contacted Palestinian security officials in Gaza to announce that their "soldiers shot and hit a terrorist." The girl's mother told the press, however, that her daughter was small, unveiled and should have been easily identifiable as a child. Her father said that she was mentally disabled and had become lost after wandering from the house. According to the girl's family and paramedics, the girl was shot multiple times in the neck, leg, arm and stomach. The Israel Defense Forces have not accounted for the mistaken identity or their rules of engagement at the border, warranting an immediate criminal investigation.

READ ALL THE ARTICLE


ISRAEL'S SHOOTING OF YOUNG GIRL HIGHLIGHTS INTERNATIONAL HYPOCRISY, SAY PALESTINIANS

McGreal in Khan Yunis
Monday January 30, 2006
Chris The Guardian


  As the votes were counted in the Palestinian election and the scale of Hamas's landslide became apparent to the world, Aya al-Astal drifted away from her home and wandered towards the fence along the border between the Gaza strip and Israel.

  The nine-year-old girl's parents realised she was gone as they watched the election results on television. They do not know precisely what happened, but the Israeli army later said Aya was behaving in a suspicious manner reminiscent of a terrorist - she got too close to the border fence - and so a soldier fired several bullets into the child, hitting her in the neck and blowing open her stomach.

  Aya was the second child killed by the Israeli army last week. Soldiers near Ramallah shot 13-year-old Munadel Abu Aaalia in the back as he walked along a road reserved for Jewish settlers with two friends. The army said the boys planned to throw rocks at Israeli cars, which the military defines as terrorism.

The two killings went unnoticed by the outside world amid the political drama, but they made their impact among Palestinians angered by demands from western leaders for Hamas to recognise Israel and renounce its armed struggle.

Some Palestinians see the demands as a rejection of a democratic election and as siding with Israel. Others see hypocrisy. They say Israeli soldiers killed twice as many Palestinians last week alone - both of them children - as the number of Israelis killed by Hamas all last year.

"Aya was shot in the neck and stomach. Her stomach was hanging out," said the child's mother, Aisha. "We have no idea why she went there but she was a child. She was so small. She was nine years old. She didn't wear a hijab. It was clear she was just a young girl. This is hatred."

Hamas is responsible for the murder of more than 400 Israelis. But since it declared a ceasefire a year ago the group has killed one Israeli, according to the Israeli government's own figures. Sasson Nuriel was kidnapped in September and forced to record a video demanding the release of prisoners. Hamas said it shot him when the army got close to finding him.

Hamas also carried out a suicide bombing at Beer Sheva bus station in August that seriously wounded two security guards, and it was behind some of the attacks by rudimentary rockets fired from Gaza into Israel that frequently terrify but rarely kill. Hamas said it launched the rockets in response to Israeli attacks.

"Hamas has kept the calm for a year. Israel is still killing our civilians," said the Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar. "Why is it that the Israelis can continue to kill our people, innocent people walking down the street, and there is no criticism from those who tell us we must give up our historic struggle against occupation? Why are they so afraid to criticise Israel but tell us what to do?"

The Astal family is politically divided. Aya's mother voted for Hamas. The child's aunt, Samir al-Astal, backed the losing party, Fatah. But there is little difference in their belief that there is a double standard at work in the foreign demands of Israel and of Palestinians.

"The Americans always give excuses for Israel," said Samir. "Israel is like a spoilt son. They never pressure them. They kill our children and no one says anything. If there is a reaction by Palestinians to these incidents they call us terrorists."

Israel said it regretted civilian deaths but added that they were accidental, unlike those caused by suicide bombs. It said Hamas was "intensively involved in terrorist actions" despite the ceasefire.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY:
HAMAS MUST STOP TARGETING OF CIVILIANS

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

31/Jan/06

   Amnesty International today called upon Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement) to commit unequivocally to abide by international law, respect the rights of all Palestinians across the political spectrum, and repudiate its policy of targeting Israeli civilians.

"As it prepares to form the next Palestinian Authority (PA) government, Hamas must undertake to spare no effort to end the spiral of violence which has cost the lives of so many Palestinian and Israeli civilians," urged Amnesty International.

The prohibition on targeting civilians is absolute in international law. It applies to everyone at all times, including people under occupation who are striving for self-determination, as well as to the occupying power.


READ THE ARTICLE



WITH NO PALESTINIAN STATE IN SIGHT, AID BECOMES AN ADJUNCT TO OCCUPATION

Israeli policy is the root cause of need in the occupied territories, but donors pay up without challenging it

Ghada Karmi
Saturday December 31, 2005
The Guardian


   This month has seen a flurry of high-level activity designed to fund the Palestinians under occupation. A private sector investors' conference took place in London to discuss ways of boosting the Palestinian economy. It followed the G7 finance ministers' meeting at the beginning of December, which pledged its support, saying that "economic development of the West Bank and Gaza is an indispensable element of lasting peace in the region". And in the summer, the G8 summit at Gleneagles promised the Palestinian Authority an annual $3bn for three years. Next March, the donor countries will decide their allocations to the PA.



   Sounds good. But will these donors pause to consider that Israel's occupation of Palestine is set to continue so long as they remain prepared to underwrite it? The Palestinians' dire need for help is indisputable: the PA is virtually bankrupt and has asked for an immediate injection of $200m, just for basic services, between now and next February. Humanitarian aid alone, however, will not solve the problem.


READ ALL THE ARTICLE

THE QUIET OCCUPATION PART 1


Written by: Ran HaCohen
Date: Wednesday, 02 November 2005


    The Quiet Occupation (Part I)
by Ran HaCohen | Anti-war.com | 15 June 2005

What is the first picture the term "occupation" raises in our mind? Probably some kind of extreme violence among civilians: lethal fire in the middle of town, terrified kids in pajamas watching heavily armed soldiers searching a house, a helicopter firing a missile in the midst of Gaza. All these violent scenes do happen, but they do not give an adequate picture of what the occupation really looks like.

Very few people realize that Israel has turned life in the occupied territories (Israeli settlers excluded) into complete misery without any need to fire a single bullet. A unique, invaluable glance into the mechanisms that constitute this "quiet" occupation, usually hidden behind the literal smokescreen of violence, is given by the first annual report of the Israeli human rights group Machsom Watch, presented in a press conference in Tel Aviv last week.

West Bank Checkpoints: The Basics

Machsom – "roadblock" in Hebrew – stands for a whole arsenal of obstacles spread throughout the occupied territories: temporary or permanent roadblocks, manned checkpoints or roads closed off by heavy cement blocks, gates in the Wall, earth mounds, trenches, observation towers. The least known but most significant fact about these various physical obstacles is that almost all of them are NOT "border checkpoints" located between Israel and the occupied territories; almost all of them are placed WITHIN the occupied territories, hampering the movement from one Palestinian town or village to another.

Within the last four years – signs were clear enough in early 2002 – Israel made every movement of every Palestinian dependent on Israeli permit. Incredible, but true: a Palestinian wishing to get out of (or reenter) his or her immediate surrounding – a town, a village, a neighborhood, or just an arbitrarily cut-off part of a village – has to get a permit from Israel in advance and show it at every Israeli-manned checkpoint. You cannot just go to work, to do some shopping or business, to school, to visit family or friends, to a hospital – you have to go through one or several Israeli checkpoints first.

The numbers are horrifying. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) counted in November 2004 not less than 719 (!) physical obstacles throughout the West Bank. Machsom Watch reports that less than 70 of them were removed in the recent "calm" period, some only to be replaced by the rapidly progressing Wall. An army general reported that the 25 central checkpoints under his command required 1,000 soldiers, and up to 5,000 soldiers are employed on special alerts (Ha'aretz, July 22, 2003); no wonder the checkpoints are consistently undermanned, resulting in endless queues.

None of the more than 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank thus live more than a couple of miles away from a roadblock or checkpoint. A short route through the West Bank would inevitably take you through several Israeli checkpoints, some of them five minutes' ride from each other. Lucky to have gone through one checkpoint? The next one is just a few minutes ahead, where you'll have to start all over again.

Checkpoints are closed on Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, and other holidays and public occasions, paralyzing Palestinian economic and social life. Machsom Watch reports that

"From March to May [2004], a closure was imposed that included full encirclement in many areas of the West Bank. The closure started for the Passover holiday, continued uninterrupted until Israeli Independence Day (several weeks later) and from then to the Likud party's referendum, and it was finally lifter after the Final Four playoff games."

READ ALL THE ARTICLE


_______

THE QUIET OCCUPATION PART 2


Written by: Ran HaCohen
Date: Wednesday, 02 November 2005


    The Quiet Occupation
   One of the difficulties in writing regularly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, in my eyes, that so little ever changes. The basic constants – above all, Israel's overwhelming military, economic, and political superiority, all serving its colonialist aims – change slightly over years, if at all. The media concentrate on immediate episodes: a violent incident, a statement, a peace plan – but in hindsight, they all make very little difference.

In the longer term, the realities on the ground are ultimately derived from the aims and interests of the stronger side, with minor considerations, modifications, or delays due to Palestinian resistance or international reservations.

Blockade on Gaza
The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip seems to be one of those few great earthquakes that do change the view completely, for better or worse. This is not the place, perhaps not the time either, to evaluate the withdrawal as a whole; but at the moment, even here little has changed. The Quartet's special envoy for the disengagement finds that Israel is acting as if the disengagement never happened. James Wolfensohn says "the Government of Israel, with its important security concerns, is loath to relinquish control, almost acting as though there has been no withdrawal, delaying making difficult decisions and preferring to take difficult matters back into slow-moving subcommittees."

    Typically, what Israel targets is Palestinian freedom of movement. The Gaza Strip has no seaport nor airport; the border to Egypt is closed: "The Israelis have not agreed to accept the EU's generous offer to consider the role of 'a third party' in supervising the Rafah crossing temporarily," says Wolfensohn in his report, and as for the Strip's border with Israel, Ha'aretz (24.10.2005) reports that "since the pullout was completed, the Erez Checkpoint has been almost hermetically sealed to Palestinian traffic. Before the disengagement, 6,500 people went through Erez daily. That number dropped in September to 100, on average, and to zero at the beginning of this month. The Karni cargo crossing has also been either closed or particularly slow." The Palestinians may now move freely inside the 5 x 25 miles of the Strip, free of Israeli settlements, but the economic and humanitarian disaster due to Israeli strangulation from without has only worsened since the withdrawal.

Apartheid Roads in the West Bank

But the real gambit of the Gaza pullout, in Israel's eyes, is the West Bank. Barely a month after that pullout, using as pretext an armed Palestinian attack killing three Israeli settlers, the Israeli army closed Road 60 – the main intercity road of the West Bank, connecting the urban centers of Hebron and Nablus with Jerusalem – to Palestinian private vehicles. Following American protest, officials in Jerusalem clarified that Israel had no new plans to separate Israeli and Palestinian traffic. That is quite true: Israel has no such new plans. What is being implemented, step by step, are very old policies. The settlers' far Right, always the best indicator for the government's future plans, demanded almost a decade ago, years before the second Intifada, to impose "complete and perpetual closure on the Arabs of Judea and Samaria" (Moledet Party ad published in Ha'aretz, June 15, 1996); during the past half decade, this demand was more than met. As Gideon Levy writes (Oct. 23, 2005),

    "For nearly five years, the basic freedom of movement has been denied to 2.5 million residents in the West Bank. … Most of the roads in the West Bank are desolate, with no people or cars. On days [Shabbat] and hours when the settlers are not traveling on them, they become ghost roads. … If you strain your eyes, you will notice at the sides of the road the traffic lanes assigned to the Palestinians: pathways through the terraces winding up the hills, goat paths on which cars are sputtering, including those carrying the sick, women in labor, pupils, and ordinary citizens who decide to place their life in their hands in order to travel for two to three hours to reach the neighboring village."

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

LIFE UNDER SIEGE IN A DIVIDED CITY

Palestinian families driven from homes by settlers in 'cleansing' of Hebron in the West Bank

Chris McGreal in Tel Rumeida, Hebron
Friday December 9, 2005

The Guardian

Visitors to the Abu Aishe family in the heart of the biblical and bitterly-disputed city of Hebron either require an army escort to the front of the steel mesh cage protecting the three-storey home or risk assault by a barrage of stones, rotting food and shouts of "Death to Arabs" from the neighbours.

Three generations of the Abu Aishe family are the last Arabs living in their street, defiantly staying on in the face of what international monitors have described as the "cleansing" of parts of Hebron by messianic Jews, with the complicity of the Israeli army, that has driven thousands of people from their homes and businesses. Over recent years, parts of Hebron were all but emptied of Palestinians as their shops were sealed and the streets closed off.

"The neighbours all left," said Reem Abu Aishe, a mother of six children, who lives in the midst of the small but growing settler enclave of Tel Rumeida which some Jews claim as the original city of Abraham and therefore the world's oldest Jewish settlement.

"They couldn't stand the threats and the constant harassment. Their children were attacked, their windows were smashed. Sometimes the Jews even fired bullets into their houses. So they left and the Jews took their houses," she said. "The settlers don't want any Arabs in the area. They think it is their neighbourhood. We don't dare leave the house empty. Someone always has to stay. There is a big risk that any time the settlers see we have left the house they will break into it. One time they came in the back door."

Massacre

Palestinian and Israeli communities live closer in Hebron - sometimes in the same street - than anywhere in the occupied territories outside Jerusalem. About 500 Jews live in the heart of the city among 130,000 Palestinians. A short walk away is the settlement of Kiryat Arba, home to another 6,000 Israelis and the crucible of support for the Kach organisation, which is banned in Israel as a terrorist group.

The relationship has always been uneasy. The settlers arrived after the 1967 Israeli occupation of the city, proclaiming the revival of a Jewish presence driven out by the Arab massacre of 66 Jews in 1929. For the Palestinians, there is the more recent memory of the slaughter of 29 Muslims at prayer in Hebron by an ultra-nationalist Jewish doctor, Baruch Goldstein in 1994.

The city was divided in 1997 when the Palestinians took over administration of 80% of Hebron while the Israeli military retained authority in the central market and old city. But the Israeli area was still home to four times as many Palestinians as Jews, regarded as interlopers by many settlers who set about pushing the Palestinians from their businesses and homes, often with the assistance of the military and approval of Israeli officials.

In recent years, more than half of the 2,500 Palestinians who lived in Hebron's old city have been driven out and many hundreds more have been forced out on the edge of the settlements. Palestinians are now barred from the main commercial road, Shuhada street, where shops are boarded up. Elsewhere they are permitted only to walk and not drive. The UN has counted 101 military roadblocks and checkpoints controlling the movement of Palestinians in central Hebron.

The army says the measures are the result of a "complex reality" created by the Palestinian intifada and more than 30 suicide bombers from Hebron, and a climate of anger fuelled by killings such as a Palestinian sniper shooting a Jewish baby and a mob of settlers murdering a 14-year-old Arab girl.

The settlers call the Palestinians leaving "a gift from heaven". But last year Jan Kristensen, a former lieutenant colonel in the Norwegian army who headed the European monitoring team in Hebron, said it had more to do with a strategy by the army and settlers to drive Palestinians out of the old city.

"More and more people are leaving the area and it is effectively being emptied. The settlers' activities, which are aimed at causing the Palestinians to leave, and the army's activities, which impose severe restrictions, create an irreversible reality," he told Haaretz newspaper. "The settlers go out almost every night and attack those who live near them. They break windows, cause damage and effectively force the Palestinians to leave the area. In a sense, cleansing is being carried out."

In Tel Rumeida, the Abu Aishes's immediate neighbours all left in fear. A carpet of broken glass from bottles thrown at the Abu Aishe home leads up to the door. On the other side of the street live settler families. When a new block opened earlier this year, the army locked the Abu Aishe family, including the 71-year-old grandfather, into one room for the entire day on the grounds they were a "terrorist risk".

"My grandfather refuses to leave," said Raja, the 16-year-old daughter. "He said he would rather die in the house that has been his life than leave."

But staying is not easy. Raja runs a gauntlet of abuse and violence on her way to Qurtuba girls school."They throw stones, water and old food at us. Sometimes the soldiers try and protect us but they are not always there."

Raja said she and her brothers had all been injured, including four-year-old Walid, whose arm was fractured.

Qurtuba school has become a rallying point for the settlers who sometimes block the entrance and have ripped off doors. A woman standing outside tells mothers bringing their children to the school: "Go to Auschwitz and take all the Arabs with you." Someone hung a sign outside: "Gas the Arabs."

Gates

David Wilder, a spokesman for the Jewish settlers in central Hebron, denied Palestinians were being pressured to leave. "We have not in the past, and I don't think we will be able to in the near future, been able to force anybody to leave. Any Arabs who leave do so of their own free will. We haven't pushed anybody out. Neither has the army as far as I know. People leave because they want to leave. For whatever reason," he said.

In recent weeks, the Israeli military has moved in new gates between the Jewish and Palestinian neighbourhoods, the army says, to improve the lives of Arabs. The Palestinians are suspicious, believing it is marking out an area for the further expansion of Jewish settlements. The UN describes the gates as "completing the encirclement of the Old Suq area ... Once the centre of Hebron's commercial and cultural life, the Old Suq is now virtually deserted."

Imad Hamdan, head of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, which wants to limit the expansion of Jewish settlements, said: "They are working to get us out. It is a long-term goal. They are patient but that is their goal."

Mr Wilder does not deny it, and he warns that if Ariel Sharon tries to remove more West Bank settlements it could provide the pretext for the Jews of Hebron to achieve their goal. "All of those people who seem to be in favour of these unilateral expulsions, they should have reason to be worried because expulsion is a two-way street and if it's permissible to expel Jews in the name of peace then it's also permissible to expel others in the name of peace."

AFTER GAZA, SHARON'S NEXT AIM IS ... DO NOTHING

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Friday August 26, 2005
The Guardian


   The answer, whether the question is asked of the left or right, militarists or peaceniks, almost always boils down to one word: nothing. Even before Ariel Sharon finished prising 8,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and a small part of the West Bank earlier this week, the debate in Israel had turned to what happens next.

   Israel's destruction of settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians for their state is widely seen as an opportunity to break the diplomatic logjam built up since the intifada began five years ago.

   Mr Sharon's public position is that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and four isolated settlements in the northern West Bank is a path to the US-led "road map" to a two-state solution - if the Palestinians first end "the terror". But last year, the Israeli prime minister's closest aide, Dov Weisglass, said the real intent of the pullout was to place the peace process in formaldehyde.

   "Withdrawing from Gaza offers real political opportunities for peace," said Yossi Beilin, a leftwing former cabinet minister and Israeli negotiator with the Palestinians. "This political horizon [peace] is something that is good for us and good for the Palestinians. Then the question is whether it's going to take place. The answer is no, it will not take place as long as it's up to Sharon. As long as he's in power he will do his utmost to do nothing.

   "How do I know that? He told me that. He said to me: 'You believe in peace, I don't believe we can have peace. For sure not in the foreseeable future, so I will go very very slowly'."

   Mr Beilin's view that Mr Sharon will do nothing is shared by influential figures on the right of the prime minister's Likud party, including Gideon Saar, the party leader in the Israeli parliament and a vocal opponent of the Gaza pullout.

"Sharon will do nothing. He cannot afford to do anything if he is to retain control of the party and stay in power. Anyone who thinks that it is Gaza first is mistaken. It is Gaza only," he said.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

A DOCUMENTARY SERIES BY A RESPECTED NEWSREADER DELIVERS A DAMNING ASSAULT ON THE SETTLER MOVEMENT.

4 June 05

   A new documentary series stunned Israeli television viewers this week, not only by its unprecedented and searing indictment of Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories, but also because of its unexpected source.

Often described as Israel's Walter Cronkite, 72-year-old Haim Yavin has fronted state television's evening news bulletins since 1968, cultivating a neutral image that put him, for most Israelis, at the symbolic heart of the national consensus.

All that changed on Tuesday with the broadcast of the first of five episodes of Land of the Settlers, the result of two-and-a-half years spent wandering the West Bank and Gaza with a miniature video camera. ...

The documentary dwells on the machinery of occupation - the roadblocks, fences, walls, settler roads and curfews - set up to support and defend the settlements.

In Hebron, where the army has helped a few hundred fundamentalist settlers seize the heart of a Palestinian city, a soldier tells Yavin that settlers are inciting him to shoot and kill Palestinian children.

A leader of the Hebron settlers tells him that Palestinians should be told to leave the country immediately or be bombed from the air.

He films graffiti on a wall, "Arabs to the crematoriums".

A Russian-born Israeli border policeman assures Yavin that "I am only following orders". Another soldier confides: "We have set up a slave camp here. We are committing crimes here."

The religious Zionists of the settler movement believe that God covenanted the Jews with an exclusive right and religious duty to inhabit all the territories between the Nile in Egypt and the Euphrates in Iraq.

Secular Israeli governments of both the left and right have encouraged, funded and armed settlers to move into the occupied territories, arguing that it is Jewish destiny to control them and that they are vital to Israel's security.

            READ THE ARTICLE

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Washington, April 11, 2005


  George Bush should tell Ariel Sharon that the United States is unequivocally opposed to all Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Human Rights Watch said as the U.S. president and Israeli prime minister meet.

"Bush needs to make it clear that the U.S. cannot accept illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank in exchange for the evacuation of Gaza settlers," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

As long as Israeli settlers—which now number more than 400,000— remain in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Israeli government's forthcoming withdrawal of approximately 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip and four small West Bank settlements would not fulfill its obligations under international humanitarian law, Human Rights Watch said.

Israel's policy of encouraging, financing, establishing and expanding Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories violates two main principles of international humanitarian law, or the laws of war. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a party, states are prohibited from transferring civilians from the occupying power's territory into the occupied territory, and from creating permanent changes in the occupied territory that are not for the benefit of the occupied population.

In the April 2003 road map, Israel agreed to freeze all settlement activity, including "natural growth," and to dismantle all settlement outposts created since March 2001. Israel has failed to meet either of these provisions, and instead has substantially expanded settlements during this period.

   READ THE REPORT

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT
ISRAELI FORCES DESTROY HOMES TO CLEAR PALESTINIANS FROM BORDER

Jerusalem, October 18, 2004

   The Israeli armed forces have illegally razed thousands of homes, regardless of military necessity, to clear Palestinians from the Gaza-Egypt border and create a “buffer zone,” Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Israeli government is calling for the destruction of hundreds more homes to widen the zone as part of a plan to “disengage” from the territory.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF), which regularly comes under fire along Gaza’s southern edge from Palestinian armed groups, claims that the destruction is militarily necessary. Human Rights Watch found the IDF has made 16,000 people homeless over the past four years, regardless of whether their homes posed a genuine military threat.

According to international law, Israel as an occupying power may destroy civilian property only when “rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” Destroying property to improve the occupying power’s general security or as a broad precaution against hypothetical threats is prohibited.

“Israel’s conduct in southern Gaza stems from the assumption that every Palestinian is a suicide bomber and every home a base for attack,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This policy of mass home destruction leads to serious violations of international humanitarian law meant to protect civilians.”

The 135-page report, “Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip,” focuses on the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where more than 10 percent of the population has lost their homes. As well as research and interviews conducted in Gaza, Israel and Egypt, the report uses satellite imagery, maps, graphs and photographs to document a pattern of illegal demolitions by the IDF. Such a pattern, the report says, is consistent with the political goal of having a wide and empty border area to facilitate long-term control over the Gaza Strip, rather than absolute military necessity.

The IDF gives two main arguments for widening the buffer zone: to close smugglers’ tunnels from Egypt and to enhance the security of IDF forces on the border. While the tunnels and the security of Israeli soldiers are legitimate concerns, the government’s arguments do not withstand scrutiny on either account, Human Rights Watch said.

There is no dispute that Palestinian armed groups use tunnels to smuggle arms for use in attacks against the Israeli military and civilians. But evidence strongly suggests the IDF is using their existence as a pretext to justify home demolitions and illegally expand the “buffer zone.”

In addition to exaggerating tunnel numbers, the IDF has apparently failed to explore well-established methods to detect and destroy tunnels—like seismic sensors, electromagnetic induction and ground-penetrating radar—which would obviate or reduce the need for IDF incursions into Rafah that have resulted in destroyed homes and sometimes loss of life. In some cases, the IDF destroyed groups of houses in order to “close” tunnels that Palestinian authorities had reportedly sealed.

“Instead of destroying the tunnels under the border they control, the Israeli military is launching incursions deeper and deeper into Rafah” Roth said. “This leaves Palestinians homeless and even places IDF soldiers at greater risk.”

Along the Rafah border, IDF forces and Palestinian armed groups regularly exchange fire. But under the pretext of protecting its soldiers, the IDF has taken steps that go far beyond what international law allows and what the security of IDF forces requires. In 2003, for example, the IDF completed construction of an 8-meter-high metal wall in the already cleared “buffer zone” to protect its troops. Despite this extra protection, the rate of home demolitions in Rafah tripled in 2003 in comparison with the previous two years.

“The IDF has a series of sophisticated arguments to justify the destruction in Rafah,” Roth said. “But these arguments crumble under scrutiny, revealing a pattern of unjustified abuse and destruction.”

In mid-May, the Israeli government approved a plan that calls for further widening the “buffer zone” by demolishing “dozens or perhaps hundreds” of homes. The IDF then reportedly recommended demolishing all homes within 400 meters of the border. Such destruction would leave thousands more Palestinians homeless in one of the most densely populated places on earth.

The report also documents Israel’s extensive destruction of Rafah homes and infrastructure in May in apparent retribution for the killing of five IDF soldiers by Palestinian militants. Major IDF operations that month resulted in the destruction of over 200 homes, many of them deep inside the town away from the border. Armored bulldozers plowed through houses and shops, indiscriminately tore up roads, destroyed water and sewage systems, and turned two large agricultural fields into barren patches of earth.

The IDF claims that the destruction was militarily necessary because its soldiers came under attack, but evidence indicates that Palestinian resistance was light, limited and quickly overwhelmed within the initial hours of each incursion. In some cases, the destruction in areas away from the border took place after the IDF had secured the area, in a manner that was time-consuming, deliberate and comprehensive, rather than in the heat of battle.

The United States and European governments have failed to hold Israel accountable for its unwillingness to comply with international law. On the contrary, they fund repairs and re-housing after demolitions occur. The report urges foreign governments to demand that Israel either pay reparations to victims or compensate donors for funds spent to repair unlawful destruction.

The report, “Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip” is available at: http://hrw.org/reports/2004/rafah1004/

'WHEN WE CAME BACK THEY HAD DESTROYED ALL THE HOUSES'

Chris McGreal at Jabaliya refugee camp

Monday October 18, 2004
The Guardian

"Since 1948, the Israelis have demolished three of my homes. This is the most difficult because before others helped us rebuild but now everyone needs help and I don't know who will help us."

While Mr Sharon agonises over how to draw 7,500 Jewish settlers out of Israel's Gaza colonies - offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to each family - the army has already bulldozed close to 9,000 Palestinians from their homes in the Gaza strip this year alone.

Most got no more than a few minutes notice to get out and lost all but the possessions they could hurriedly bundle together.

The latest target was Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza city. From dawn on Saturday the people came, trying to find their bearings amid the rubble and then scrambling across the sand where once there was an asphalt road.

A man ripped at the remains of his shattered home in search of anything that could be saved, burrowing out a picture, some clothes, a schoolbook. Another collapsed on to the wreckage, stunned and silent.

The tide began as soon as it was clear that Israeli tanks had pulled out of Jabaliya after 17 days of destruction and killing. The bulldozers left behind dozens of flattened homes and hundreds homeless.

The remains of the mosque were marked by its twisted steel minaret and loudspeakers. A sewage line torn from the ground spewed filth as people attempted to jump it. The only clue to the existence of a small orange grove was a few of the scattered fruits.

The scale of the destruction - about 20 acres of homes, shops and roads razed or ground into the sand - matched the Israelis' controversial assault on Jenin refugee camp two years ago. But the death toll in Jabaliya was double that with about 130 people killed, one in six of them children 15 or younger.

Within hours of pulling out of Jabaliya, the army's bulldozers were at work again in another Gaza refugee camp, Rafah.

"One would have thought that the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip would decrease house demolitions," said Kenneth Ross, director of Human Rights Watch, after visiting Jabaliya.

"In fact, house demolitions have risen dramatically. This seems to reflect on the one hand a political show of force and Sharon's desire not to be seen to withdraw under fire, but also part of his vision to create a buffer zone along the Egyptian border. It is also part of a wider pattern of punishing civilians."

A United Nations human rights report on the Israeli occupation to be presented to the general assembly this month accuses Israel of "massive and wanton destruction of property" in the Gaza strip.

READ THE REPORT

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International

ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIES: EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE

AI Index: MDE 15/095/2004 (Public)
5 October 2004

Amnesty International is concerned about the deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation as a result of the Israeli army incursion in the Jabaliya refugee camp and surrounding areas in the northern Gaza Strip (including sectors in the nearby towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya). In the past week (since the evening of Tuesday 28 September) more than 70 Palestinians have been killed, more than a third of whom were unarmed and including some 20 children. Hundreds of others have been injured.

The Israeli army has repeatedly used excessive force, including heavy shelling from tanks and helicopter gunships. Experience has shown that the use of such weapons and the manner in which they have been deployed by the army in densely populated residential areas (the Jabaliya refugee camp is one of the most densely populated places in the world, with more than 100,000 Palestinians living in less than two square kilometres), invariably results in a high rate of death and injury of bystanders and people who are not involved in armed confrontation. These tactics betray a lack of respect for fundamental human rights principles, including the right to life.

In certain areas the Israeli army has also unlawfully destroyed or damaged homes, schools, water and electricity networks, roads, and other crucial infrastructure. Israeli forces have hindered access to medical services -- not only for those injured in the military operation but also those who need medical care for other reasons, including women who need to give birth. When able to reach those in need (they often cannot reach those in need of medical treatment) ambulances have on several occasions come under Israeli army fire.

Strict closures have also been imposed throughout the Gaza Strip in the past week, cutting the Gaza Strip into four isolated sections, paralysing all aspects of life, with people unable to reach their workplace and students unable to reach the universities. In addition schools in the area besieged by the Israeli army in the northern Gaza Strip are closed. Thousands of people living in the besieged areas are also experiencing shortages of food and other essential goods.

Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authority to:
* put an immediate end to the use of excessive lethal force
* put an immediate end to unlawful destruction and damage of Palestinian homes and properties, roads and other infrastructure
* allow immediate access to medical care and other essential services for the Palestinian population in the affected areas
* respect the right to freedom of movement for the Palestinian population elsewhere in the Gaza Strip

Amnesty International also calls on Palestinian armed groups not to initiate attacks and armed confrontation with Israeli troops from amongst residential areas, as this puts the local residents at risk of return fire and retaliation from the Israeli army, and reiterates its call on Palestinian armed groups to put an end to attacks directed against Israeli civilians in Israel or in the Occupied Territories.

THE DEATH AND DISORIENTATION OF THE CHILDREN OF GAZA

In their homes, in the street, in UN-run schools, Palestinian youth are not safe from Israeli bullets

Chris McGreal in Khan Yunis
Friday September 17, 2004

Raghda Alassar's classmates did not hear the Israeli bullet that tore into the nine-year-old's brain as she wrote an English test. But as a pool of blood spread across her desk and spilled on to the floor, a wall of screams rose from the classroom of the UN elementary school for girls in Khan Yunis.

For five crucial days the army blocked Raghda's transfer to an Israeli hospital with the facilities to offer a glimmer of hope. An infection set in.

... "I find it so difficult to believe what happened to my daughter. She was at school, just carrying her notebook, not a gun. What is my daughter - nine years old - guilty of that she has to be shot? It's state terror against the whole population."

In recent weeks the Israelis have again been preoccupied with terrorism, from the murder of 16 people in the Beersheba bus bombings to the slaughter of Russian schoolchildren in Beslan, which received blanket coverage.

During the six months of relative peace for Israelis, until the Beersheba bombings, the army killed more than 400 Palestinians. Most were fighters, but they also included about 40 children under 15. Palestinians say this also is a form of terror.

"We're always listening for the helicopters, listening for the tanks, listening for the bombs," said Khitam abu Shawarib, the only social worker in Rafah refugee camp, on the southern tip of the Gaza Strip.

"I am very sorry when I hear of a Jewish woman or children killed. I think it is wrong and many people here think it is wrong. But what the Jews suffer is nothing to the terror we live with from them.

"It takes such a toll on our health, on society, most of all on the children." Israelis live in fear of random attacks, principally the suicide bombing of buses and cafes, and shootings in the occupied territories. But they are generally safe in their homes and are more likely to be killed in a road accident than by a bomb.

         READ THE REPORT

THE LIKUD DOCTRINE

First Bush, and now Putin, have picked up lessons for their wars on terror from Israel's campaign against the Palestinians

Naomi Klein
Friday September 10, 2004


  Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is so fed-up with being grilled over his handling of the Beslan catastrophe that he lashed out at foreign journalists on Monday. "Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or the White House and engage in talks?" he demanded, adding that: "No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child-killers."

  Fortunately for Putin, there is still one place where he is shielded from the critics: Israel. On Monday, Ariel Sharon welcomed the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, for a meeting about strengthening ties in the fight against terror. "Terror has no justification, and it is time for the free, decent, humanistic world to unite and fight this terrible epidemic," Sharon said.

  There is little to argue with there. The essence of terrorism is the deliberate targeting of innocents to further political goals. Any claims its perpetrators make to fighting for justice are morally bankrupt, and lead directly to the barbarity of Beslan: a carefully laid plan to slaughter hundreds of children.

  Yet sympathy alone does not explain the outpourings of solidarity for Russia coming from Israeli politicians this week. An unnamed Israeli official was quoted as saying that Russians "understand now that what they have is not a local terror problem but part of the global Islamic terror threat". The underlying message is unequivocal: Russia and Israel are engaged in the very same war, one not against Palestinians demanding their right to statehood, or against Chechens demanding their independence, but against "the global Islamic terror threat". Israel, as the elder statesman, is claiming the right to set the rules of war.

READ THE ARTICLE

ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIES:
FAMILIES TORN APART BY DISCRIMINATORY POLICIES
13 July 2004

"After 14 years of marriage, my husband and the father of my children has no right to sleep in our home, he has no right to kiss his daughters goodnight, no right to be there if they get sick at night... What logic is there for forcing families to go through such hell every day, year after year." Terry Bullata, a 38-year old school principle from Jerusalem.

Thousands of Palestinians are being denied their fundamental right to live as a family by an Israeli law that is due for review at the end of this month.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law bars Israelis who are married to Palestinians from the Occupied Territories from living with their spouses in Israel.

The law on family unification, discriminates against Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza and against the Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of Jerusalem who marry them.

"The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law institutionalizes racial discrimination contravening international human rights and humanitarian law. Without the right to family unification, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jerusalem residents can either have their spouse live with them illegally, in daily fear of expulsion, or the whole family must leave the country."

READ THE REPORT

DISMANTLE THE WALL, SAYS ICJ

9 July 2004
AI Index: MDE 15/068/2004

In the wake of the Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israel must immediately halt construction of the fence/wall inside the occupied West Bank, dismantle the sections already built there, and make reparation for the damage caused. Amnesty International said.

In its Advisory Opinion, issued today, the ICJ concluded that the construction of the fence/wall by the Israeli army inside the West Bank, including in and around East Jerusalem, violates international human rights and humanitarian law and that "Israel also has an obligation to put an end to the violation of its international obligations flowing from the construction of the wall in Occupied Palestinian Territories".

The ICJ concluded that Israel has an obligation to make reparation for the damage caused so far, noting the principle that "...reparation must, as far as possible, wipe out all the consequences of the illegal act...".

"The Opinion of this world court underscores that Israel's right and duty under international law to take measures to stop potential attackers from entering Israel does not justify building such a fence/wall inside the West Bank. The construction has destroyed agricultural land and the livelihood of tens of thousands of Palestinians for the benefit of unlawful Israeli settlements.

READ THE REPORT

THE MILITARIST AND MESSIANIC IDEOLOGIES

Neve Gordon

July 8, 2004
(Neve Gordon teaches political science at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.)

Two weeks after 60,000 Likud Party members voted against a pullout from the Gaza Strip, about 150,000 Israelis filled Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, calling on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government to proceed with the withdrawal plan. Those opposing the pullout from Gaza support the vision of a Greater Israel, while those favoring the pullout support the state of Israel. The first group believes that without Gaza, Israel will be destroyed; the second believes that with it, Israel will be destroyed.

Ironically, many of those who packed Rabin Square and today are over 40 years old also participated in a famous protest in 1982, only then the demonstration was against Sharon and his invasion of Lebanon, and the plaza was not called Rabin Square. The fact that many of those who protested against Sharon "the war criminal" in 1982 took to the streets to support him and his unilateral plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2004 warrants an explanation. Has Sharon undergone a metamorphosis in the 22 years separating these two protests or, alternatively, has the Peace Now rank and file who chanted in the Tel Aviv plaza changed over the years?

READ THE REPORT

COURT ORDERS CHANGES TO WEST BANK WALL

Guardian, Wednesday June 30, 2004

The Israeli supreme court today ordered changes to Israel's controversial West Bank wall, saying the current route was causing too much harm to the local Palestinian population. ...

Israel began construction of the network of fences and walls in 2002, saying it was needed to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers. However, Palestinians regard the structure, which dips into the West Bank, as a means of annexing occupied territory. ...

"The route that the military commander established for the security fence ... injures the local inhabitants in a severe and acute way while violating their rights under humanitarian and international law."

The hearing focused on a partially built, 25-mile (40-km) stretch of the barrier north-west of Jerusalem.

... a lawyer acting for the opponents of the barrier, said the stretch of wall would disrupt the lives of 45,000 people, living in ten villages, cutting many of them off from their farmland, olive and citrus groves, schools and jobs. ...

READ THE REPORT

UN: 3,437 PALESTINIANS, 942 ISRAELIS KILLED SINCE SEPT. 2000


By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent

The United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told the Security Council on Wednesday that 3,437 Palestinians and 942 Israelis have been killed since September 2000.

During this same period, 33,770 Palestinians and 6,008 Israelis were wounded, according to a senior UN source.

Prendergast's report painted a "gloomy picture" of the Palestinians' situation and was "pessimistic" regarding their expected future.

Prendergast said the "situation in the region continues to be tense. The killing of people continues and the Palestinians continue to suffer and this all contributes to an atmosphere of despair and extremism."

He added that "the Palestinians' hope for a good future is very poor."

Prendergast leveled harsh criticism at Israel and condemned closures on the territories, curfews and what he called illegal executions. Nevertheless, Prendergast noted it is still possible to secure a peace agreement "but what is missing is the readiness of both sides to take the difficult and necessary steps forward." ...

READ THE ARTICLE

ISRAEL USES SAME TORTURE METHODS

June 20 2004

CAIRO - The accounts of physical abuse of Iraqis by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad are similar to the Israeli army techniques in torturing Palestinian detainees, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, June 16.

The daily said Palestinian detainees were forced to stand for days at a time or were shackled in tightly contorted positions on low stools, a procedure known as shabah.

The Palestinians were violently shaken, deprived of sleep, bombarded with loud, continuous music, exposed to extremes of cold and heat and forced to relieve themselves in their clothing, according to the Post.

Their heads were often covered with canvas hoods that reeked of urine or vomit, a familiar scene in Abu Ghraib, it added.


READ THE REPORT

IN RAFAH, HISTORY HANGS HEAVY IN THE AIR

Omar Karmi

June 4, 2004

In all, UNRWA has put the number of people left homeless in the Gaza Strip during the intifada at over 21,000 people, 3,800 of them, according to the agency's Rafah Emergency Appeal, in Rafah in May 2004 alone. On May 31, UNRWA issued a plea for $16 million in international aid to repair the damage from Operation Rainbow and its aftermath. "Rafah was always a poor place," agency head Peter Hansen told Agence France Presse. "It is now a devastated place." A June 2 press release from the International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that some 38,000 people had been left without potable water. The organization said it was preparing to bring 150,000 liters of water a day into Rafah for the next five weeks.

At least 45 Palestinians were killed during Operation Rainbow, including at least ten when Israeli tank shells and/or helicopter-borne missiles slammed into demonstrators who had gathered on May 19 to try to walk into Tal al-Sultan. Seventeen of those killed during the operation, according to the UN, were children under 18. In the cases of two of them, circumstantial evidence suggests that they were killed in broad daylight by Israeli sniper fire.

READ THE REPORT

ANOTHER CHILD DIES AS RAFAH MOURNS Sunday May 23, 2004
The Observer

Rawan Mohammed Abu Zaed, aged three and a half, went to the shop with two of her sisters to spend their pocket money on sweets.

Sick of being cooped up at home after a week of Israeli army attacks, the girls were taking advantage of a lull in the violence, but minutes after leaving home Rawan was shot in the face and neck by an Israeli tank.
  Her dying words were: 'Mummy, Mummy'.

The 45-year-old father of 12 cried as he told of how Rawan used to run to him and how she loved to sleep in his arms. 'Her mother died giving birth,' he said, 'so I always try to compensate, and that's why we are so attached. I am both mum and dad to her. She's very intelligent, more like a 10-year-old than a three-year-old.'

According to the Palestinians, Rawan was the 11th child to be killed by the Israeli Defence Force since Operation Rainbow began last week. During the funeral, IDF planes circled the skies, giving the citizens of Rafah little hope for a let-up in the offensive that has killed at least 60 Palestinians so far.

The Israeli attacks began in response to the killing of seven soldiers here. The IDF claims it is targeting only militants and demolishing houses that conceal tunnels used to smuggle arms from Egypt. 'Does Rawan drive a tank?' asked Mohammed. 'Does she fire rockets?

...Much of the area is without electricity or water and looks as if it has been hit by an earthquake: the roads have been ploughed up by tanks and whole streets of former houses are in ruins.

At least 3,000 people have been made homeless in the past week and thousands more, including Mohammed, expect to join their ranks over the weekend.


READ THE REPORT

THE HEART BREAKS
by Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz
January 24, 2004

Na'im Araj awakens every day at 4 A.M., leaves quietly by the glass door in the living room that leads directly to the cemetery, and goes to his son's grave, just to be with him. After sunrise, his brother comes and takes him, for his own sake, away from there. "Mohammed, Mohammed," he hears him saying. But even when they've left the cemetery, glimpses of the dead boy are everywhere. The crowded camp cemetery is visible from the window of the house. There in the middle of a row of headstones, where olive and myrtle branches cover the freshly turned earth, is Mohammed's grave. The father need but look out the window to see it. An advantage of sorts that goes with living in the last house in a refugee camp, across from the cemetery.

Mohammed Araj was six and a half, and carefully protected by his father; even on the day he died, he hadn't been to school, lest something bad happen to him. His father permitted him to go only as far as the front steps, and Mohammed did as his father told him. But it wasn't enough: The soldier emerged from the alley between their house and the cemetery at the edge of Balata camp, and shot him once, straight to the heart.

Mohammed was eating a sandwich. Eyewitnesses say the street was quiet. The sandwich fell down and was covered with blood. Mohammed somehow got indoors and cried for his mother, then collapsed in her arms. Afterward, says the family, the soldiers barred entry to two ambulances rushing to save the child. The boy's brother, carrying the bleeding Mohammed, ran, panicked, a few hundred meters and flagged a passing car. At the hospital, they could only pronounce him dead. For four days, the IDF prevented the family from burying their son, because of a closure.

READ THE ARTICLE

140,000 PEOPLE, 40 BEDS AND A WAR Chris McGreal
Wednesday May 19, 2004
The Guardian

The first day was not even over and Dr Raed Tafesh was despairing.

"One hundred and forty thousand people, 40 beds and a war. It makes you laugh," said the anaesthetist at Rafah's only hospital.

Except it is not a hospital. The tiny building was designed for primary healthcare and minor emergencies, before anyone imagined that Rafah would become the frontline in Israel's war on the Palestinians. Those who needed more serious care were dispatched up the road to the grander European hospital near Khan Younis.

But an Israeli tank now straddles the road, helping to seal off Rafah from the rest of Gaza as the Israeli army pursues those it calls terrorists and the Palestinians call "the resistance". The casualties have nowhere else to go but the Rafah clinic-cum-hospital.

The director, Dr Ali Moussa, said that the hospital's 40 beds were filled yesterday, the first night of fighting, and that the hospital would be unable to cope if there was an escalation. The morgue is also full, with 13 bodies, and more corpses stored in a neighbouring shop.

Some of the dead and wounded do not even make it that far.

"We received calls that there are dead in the streets, in the houses, in the mosques but we can't reach them," said Dr Tafesh. "Our ambulances are trapped and a target for the Israelis if they move.

READ THE REPORT

19 February 2004

ISRAEL/OCCUPIED TERRITORIES: THE FENCE/WALL VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW

"The construction by Israel of the fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories violates international law and is contributing to grave human rights violations. Therefore, it is appropriate that a court of law examines this matter".

"Israel's legitimate needs to secure its borders and prevent access to people who may constitute a threat to its security do not justify the building of such a fence/wall inside the Occupied Territories. This could be built on Israeli territory on the Green Line, where mechanisms to control entry of outsiders could also be strengthened if deemed necessary."

Most of the fence/wall is not being built on the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank. Close to 90% of it is on Palestinian land inside the West Bank, encircling Palestinian towns and villages and cutting off communities and families from each other. It separates farmers from their land and cuts off Palestinians from their places of work, schools, health care facilities and other essential services.

READ THE REPORT

ISRAEL'S 'EXECUTION' TROOPS FACE DEATH QUIZ

Conal Urquhart reports from Nablus on what the army says was an anti-terrorist operation, but witnesses describe as cold-blooded killing

Sunday February 1, 2004
The Observer

The Israeli army is under growing pressure to explain a series of deaths of Palestinians in a three-week operation in the West Bank city of Nablus. According to witnesses and medical evidence, at least two of the 19 deaths during the operation have the hallmarks of executions.

The operation was launched on 16 December to track down Naif Sharekh, who the army say was behind the movement of suicide bombers from Nablus to Israel. The UN representative in the city described it as 'one of the largest military operations in Nablus since Operation Defensive Shield started in April 2002'.

By the time the army reduced its presence on 6 January, it had killed four gunmen and 15 unarmed civilians including six children.

One Israeli and one Palestinian human rights group are investigating the killings and want the army to launch its own inquiry, but it is reluctant.

Following the shooting of British student Tom Hurndall, 21, last year, it insisted that its soldiers had shot an armed terrorist. Six months later, following immense pressure from the Hurndall family, the army charged one of its soldiers with unlawful killing.


READ THE ARTICLE

THE KILLING OF CIVILIANS MUST STOP

29 January 2004

Amnesty International strongly condemned the suicide attack in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of at least ten people and injured scores of others when a man blew himself up in a bus on Thursday morning.

Palestinian armed groups must put an immediate end to suicide bombings and other deliberate attacks against civilians.

             READ THE ARTICLE

TWO PEOPLES AND A SINGLE LAND

The only solution for 36 years has been for Israel to end the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank

Avi Shlaim,
Sunday January 18, 2004
The Observer


  "Once again, Israel has reached a critical juncture in its tragic conflict with the Palestinians. ... Throughout his long career as a soldier and politician, Sharon conducted a savage and relentless war against the Palestinian people and this is what he is doing today. Force is the only language he understands. Negotiation and compromise are completely alien to his whole way of thinking. The burly 75-year-old Israeli leader is no diplomat and no statesman. He is the unilateralist par excellence. His aim is to annex to Israel as much Palestinian land with as few Palestinians on it as possible. Anyone who believes that this is a contribution towards a stable solution of the 100-year-old conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine will believe anything."

            READ THE ARTICLE

SHARON'S UNILATERAL STEPS

Joel Beinin, professor of history at Stanford University
December 31, 2003


   "As the Israeli army reimposed a nearly complete lockdown on the West Bank in the aftermath of the Christmas Day 2003 suicide bombing outside of Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reportedly deputized a top general to draw up the "separation plan" he threatened seven days earlier at the annual Herzliya conference on security issues. As widely predicted in the pre-performance publicity, at Herzliya Sharon announced that Israel would take unilateral measures to "disengage" itself from the Palestinians if Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei does not crack down on the armed Palestinian factions and engage in negotiations on Israeli terms.

... the fact remains that most of the major elements of Sharon's plan were being implemented well before his December 18 speech. ... According to a recent UN report, these two components of the barrier would isolate 274,000 Palestinians in small enclaves. An additional 400,000 Palestinians would have restricted access to their agricultural fields, jobs, schools and hospitals controlled by the Israeli army. The final route of the separation barrier, still a subject of debate among Israelis, could effectively annex about half the West Bank to Israel.

READ THE ARTICLE

GENEVA ACCORDS OFFER FALSE HOPE

December 05, 2003
by Ali Abunimah, a political analyst based in Chicago


   "Faced with official Israeli intransigence, ineffective Palestinian leadership and U.S. inaction, some Israelis and Palestinians have put their hope in the so-called Geneva Accord, a virtual peace agreement negotiated by former Israeli and Palestinian officials. Yet this accord offers only false hope."

READ THE ARTICLE

THE ISRAELI TEXT AND CONTEXT OF THE GENEVA ACCORD

by Shiko Behar and Michael Warschawski MERIP November 25, 2003

An analysis of the Geneva Accords, by Shiko Behar who is director of the Alternative Information Center, a joint Palestinian-Israeli organization based in Jerusalem and Beit Sahour. Michael Warschawski is co-chairman of the board of the Alternative Information Center.

   "As was the case with the 1993 Oslo agreement, in the Geneva Accords the context is far more important than the text, all the more so when Israeli public opinion is concerned.

   ... First, critical Israelis must tell the Israeli public is that the conflict is not the result of Palestinian terrorism or fanaticism, but rather the result of Israeli dispossession and occupation; Israel's responsibility in the conflict must be unmasked by Israelis. Basic Palestinian human and political rights that are denied by Israeli policies of occupation and colonization must be addressed in any agreement intended to reach a just peace. It must be made clear to the Israeli public that the only "generous offer" within the Israeli-Palestinian arena is the readiness by some Palestinians to renounce 78 percent of their claims to their historical homeland.

        READ THE ARTICLE          THE TEXT OF GENEVA ACCORDS

LETTER TO A ZIONIST
by Justin Podur
November 20, 2003

   "Do you know that in fighting the Palestinians Israel has patterned itself on the wrong side of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising? Did you read the quote from the unnamed 'senior IDF official' in Ha'aretz on January 25, 2002, who said "If the mission is to seize a densely populated refugee camp, or to take over the casbah in Nablus the commander must first analyze and internalize the lessons of earlier battles, even, however shocking it may sound - how the German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto." Did that shock you as it did me? Did you wonder why he called it the 'German army' instead of the 'Nazi army'?"
         READ THE ARTICLE

TORTURE IN ISRAEL
Facility 1391: Israel's secret prison

  It has been removed from maps and airbrushed from aerial photographs. But Facility 1391 certainly exists - you just have to ask the Palestinians and Lebanese who have been imprisoned and tortured there. Chris McGreal reports

Friday November 14, 2003 The Guardian

   This hardly comes as a surprise, Israel is one of the few countries where the government has sanctioned the use of torture and assassinations. Of course the justification is as old as humanity: it's necessary to torture people to get them to reveal information about an immanent killing or suicide mission. And yet almost ever country that uses torture uses the same method: as soon as anyone is brought in for interogation they are automatically tortured, often before they are interrogated. Sometimes people are tortured for weeks, months, before they are questioned. Israel is not the only country in the Middle East that uses torture, far from it. Probably all the countries of the Middle East use torture.
          READ THE STORY

                         WORLD TORTURE

BITTER HARVEST IN THE WEST BANK'S OLIVE GROVES

Jewish settlers wreck fruit of centuries of toil to force out Palestinian villagers

Chris McGreal in Sawiya, Friday November 14, 2003
The Guardian
    The annual olive harvest in the occupied territories has once again been rocked by Jewish settlers and their now routine assaults on Palestinian pickers to plunder their crop.

  Armed Israelis are systematically wrecking trees that have stood for hundreds of years and frequently provide the only livelihood for Palestinian families.
   "The settlers have built a road near the bottom of the hill. They told us that we are not allowed to cross the road any more and that all the land the other side, all our olive trees up the hill, are now theirs."

READ THE ARTICLE

STOP THE WALL
Amnesty International, 7 Nov 2003

Israel does not have a right to unlawfully destroy or confiscate Palestinian land and property and hinder the movements of Palestinians inside the Occupied Territories in order to consolidate its control over land which is being used for illegal Israeli settlements.

In order to build the fence/wall large areas of mostly cultivated Palestinian land have been destroyed. The land on which it is constructed has been seized by the Israeli military authorities for "military needs". Although the seizure orders for the land are generally "temporary", usually until the end of 2005, they can be renewed indefinitely. Over the decades Palestinian land "temporarily" seized by Israel has been used to build permanent structures, including settlements and roads for settlers, and has never been returned to its owners.
    READ THE AMNESTY REPORT

DEATH OF A TOWN

Monday October 27, 2003
The Guardian


   "With ruthless efficiency, the Israeli army has been crushing and rocketing the Palestinian refugee town of Rafah in a manner which rivals the destruction of Jenin last year. But it is all in the name of stopping terrorism so the international community has remained silent. Chris McGreal reports

The moment al-Brazil plunged into darkness, Amjad Alweda knew what was coming. He grabbed his wife and three young children and bundled them down a pitch-black stairwell to a room at the back of their small block of flats. And then he stopped and listened.

The sound of the tanks echoes along the streets around here so it seems they are coming from every direction at once and you never know which way to run," says the 32-year-old Palestinian man.

Minutes later an engine roared and tons of steel - he didn't wait to discover whether it was a tank or a bulldozer - came crashing into the front of Alweda's computer shop. He squeezed his children through a back window and told them to run as the clanking monster tore at his livelihood.

"The soldiers were calling over the megaphones for everybody to leave their houses but there was no chance for people to get out before they started shooting from the tanks. It was completely dark and there were bullets flying around," he says. "Usually, we try and stay in the house when the fighting starts but we knew the army had been everywhere else so it must be our turn."

READ THE ARTICLE

NEW STAGE OF SEPARATION BARRIER: This Stage will Trap 102,000 Palestinians in Enclaves

B'T selem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Oct 2003

Most of the Wall runs inside the West Bank, in some places it runs 22 km inside, thus seizing another 11.6% of the Palestinian territory.

More than 650,000 dunams (4 dunams = 1 acre), comprising 11.6 percent of the West Bank, will lie between the barrier and the Green Line. Added to this, are the 12 settlements established in East Jerusalem, which comprise 70,000 dunams (1.3 percent of the West Bank).

     * 42 villages, containing 102,000 residents, will become enclaves west of the barrier, cut off from the rest of the West Bank. The map approved by the government indicates that these villages will be enclosed by means of secondary barriers, within six detached, internal enclaves.

     * The barrier will separate the 200,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

     * 71 other Palestinian communities, with 367,000 residents, lie near the eastern side of the new sections, and some of these residents will be separated from their farmland on the western side of the barrier. Some of these communities lie east of the route, but will be surrounded by the barrier on three sides, and thus they too, will become isolated enclaves.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will have severe difficulty reaching their workplaces, educational institutions, and medical treatment.
         READ THE FULL STORY, LOOK AT THE MAPS

A SHRINKING PRISON

by Gideon Levy
October 13, 2003

"Last Wednesday, Hoda Shadub, a woman of about 50, wanted to go home after having eye surgery at an East Jerusalem hospital. She waited for hours at the Hawara checkpoint, which blocks access to her city, Nablus, but the soldiers refused to let her through. According to the new orders, they said, only ambulances could pass. The Physicians for Human Rights association had to intervene to get an ambulance for Shadub, who finally got home - exhausted and embittered.

No one can seriously claim that security reasons are behind the decision to keep an ailing Palestinian woman from getting home..."

Day by day the West Bank and Gaza are cut into smaller and smaller sections, more and more roads are blocked by concrete, fences, ditches, and army tanks. Sometimes when the Israeli army seizes control of their homes, people are even denied access to parts of their own house.
           READ THE FULL STORY

ISRAELI WAR CRIME IN RAFAH
13 October 2003

The large-scale destruction by the Israeli army of Palestinian homes in a refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, has made homeless hundreds of people, including many children and elderly people.

The repeated practice by the Israeli army of deliberate and wanton destruction of homes and civilian property is a grave violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, notably of Articles 33 and 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and constitutes a war crime.

This last wave of destruction between 10 and 12 October is part of a policy which the Israeli army has been carrying out in the Occupied Territories for decades and increasingly so in recent years.
In the past three years the Israeli army has destroyed some 4,000 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as vast areas of cultivated land, hundreds of factories and other commercial properties, roads and public buildings.

            READ THE REPORT FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

NO ONE IS SAFE

29 September 2003

REPORT FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

  No one feels safe in Israel and the Occupied Territories. As the intifada enters its fourth year there appears to be no end in sight to the growing spiral of killings, violence and destruction.

   Since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising on 29 September 2000 the Israeli army has killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 400 children, and Palestinian armed groups have killed some 800 Israelis, including 100 children. Tens of thousands have been injured, many maimed for life.

The vast majority of those killed and injured on both sides have been unarmed civilians and bystanders. Both sides have knowingly targeted civilians and shown utter disregard for the most basic principles of human rights and humanitarian law.

READ THE REPORT

SURVIVING UNDER SIEGE

8 Sep 2003
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

"Freedom of movement for people and goods, at least within borders, is an essential requirement for any functional economy, particularly so for a new economy trying to develop and establish itself against the backdrop of dependency created by 36 years of occupation. Yet some 3.5 million Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories are often effectively confined to their towns and villages by closures enforced by Israeli military checkpoints and roadblocks. Some villages have been completely sealed off and urban areas are frequently placed under 24-hour curfew, during which no one is allowed to leave the house, often for prolonged periods. Palestinians have been prohibited from driving on main roads connecting one part of the West Bank to another.

In addition to the increased time, effort and cost involved, journeys are also not without risk. To enforce closures and curfews, Israeli soldiers routinely fire live ammunition, throw tear gas or sound bombs, beat and detain people, and confiscate vehicles and documents (IDs). Ordinary activities, such as going to work or to school, taking a baby for immunization, attending a funeral or a wedding, expose women and men, young and old, to such risks. Hence, many people limit their activities outside the home to what is absolutely essential.

... in the 36 years of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In the past three years more than 2,100 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army in the Occupied Territories, including some 380 children. Palestinian armed groups have killed some 750 Israelis, most of them civilians, and including more than 90 children. Tens of thousands of people have been injured, many maimed for life. The Israeli army has destroyed more than 3,000 Palestinian homes, and hundreds of workshops, factories and public buildings in the West Bank and Gaza. They have bulldozed vast areas of cultivated land, uprooting olive groves and orchards and flattening greenhouses and fields of growing crops."

READ THIS AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT

FINAL STATUS IN THE SHAPE OF A WALL
3 Sep 2003
By Catherine Cook

Around the city of Qalqilya, Israel's "security fence" is a 25-foot concrete wall crowned by watchtowers at regular intervals. In other areas, such as near the village of Falamiyya, it is a complex arrangement of structures that together form a formidable barrier. The "fence" begins in the east with a tangle of concertina wire in front of a trench between six and 13 feet deep. Behind the trench runs an unpaved military road, a chain link fence topped by barbed wire and then a paved military road. According to some reports, the fence is electrified in some places. Combined, these structures stretch across 200 to 330 feet. In some places, a second barbed wire fence bristles on the western side of the paved road. In others, the entirety of the barrier consists of one military road and a barbed wire fence. Thermal imaging cameras, radar-equipped observation towers and touch-sensitive pads have been installed, or soon will be, along much of the wall.

... At the meeting, villagers learned that a 3.5-mile wide swath, comprised of 75 percent of their farmland, thousands of fruit and citrus trees, over 150 greenhouses and at least six wells, would disappear behind the barrier. At least an additional 550 dunams were eventually bulldozed to make room for the wall itself, along with another 8,000 fruit and citrus trees. With 95 percent of village families dependent on the lands behind the wall for their livelihood, the economy of Jayyous has been dealt a serious blow.

    READ THE REPORT, IT GETS WORSE

NO MORE TWO-STATE SOLUTION?

by Ari Shavit, Ha'aretz
August 28, 2003


   "In the past year, then, I reached the conclusion that there is no choice but to think in new terms. There is no choice but to think about western Palestine [Eretz Yisrael, or the land of Israel] as one geopolitical unit.

   Just as the South African rulers understood, at a certain point, that there was no choice but to dismantle their regime, so the Israeli establishment has to understand that it is not capable of imposing its hegemonic conceptions on 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and 1.2 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel. What we have to do is try to reach a situation of personal and collective equality within the framework of one overall regime throughout the country."

   READ THE ARTICLE

THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES IN PALESTINE
by Gideon Levy

Ha'aretz
August 23, 2003

   "It is not only food and physical health that these children lack. From Jenin to Rafah, hundreds of thousands of children are suffering from psychological traumas whose impact is difficult to gauge. These are children who, in the past three years, have been exposed to death in truly frightening dosages, to destruction, shooting, tanks in the streets, soldiers invading their homes in the middle of the night, arrests, beatings and multiple forms of humiliation. Some of them lost their friends, in some cases before their eyes: 230 Palestinian children under the age of 15 and another 208 aged 15-18 have been killed since September 2000. Many others have been rendered paralyzed or disabled, and their friends have been exposed to horrors. One doesn't have to be a psychologist to understand that children who live with deep anxiety for such a lengthy period will suffer mental problems. And, of course, hardly any of them are getting professional assistance."


    READ MORE

Israel/Occupied Territories:
Amnesty International condemns suicide bombing
20 August 2003

Amnesty International condemns in the strongest terms the suicide bomb attack which killed 20 people, including children, and injured scores of others on a bus in Jerusalem last night.

Palestinian armed groups must put an immediate end to such crimes and to their policy of deliberately targeting civilians. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two of the main Palestinian armed groups, were reported to have claimed responsibility for the attack.

    READ THE REPORT

A PLACE FOR OUR DREAMS

by Mustafa Barghouti
July 30, 2003

   "The post-93 expansion of settlements was an elaborate process. Not only were the settlements themselves often on a large scale, but they needed an intricate network of roads to link them to each other and to Israel. The aim was not to create houses for an expanding Israeli population, but to change the economic and political geography of the occupied territories. Through its settlement activities, Israel has sought to transform the West Bank into ethnically Israeli territory, in which Palestinian villages and towns are nothing more than isolated outposts. Between 1967 and 1993, Israel had tried to alter particular facts on the ground, mostly in Jerusalem. During the Oslo truce, they sought to transform the geographical character of the occupied territories as a whole, in order to claim these lands for themselves. "

"The Palestinian National Initiative can open up new horizons for the Palestinian people and enable us to revive our potential, consolidate our resolve, energise our struggle, and attain our goal of a free, peaceful, independent, and democratic state. As difficult as it looks, I'm fully confident that there is a place for our dream; there is a place for peace and for Palestine."
* The writer is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative and president of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees.

READ FULL ARTICLE

BUSH JUST DOESN'T GET IT
The US president has allowed himself to be comprehensively bamboozled by Ariel Sharon. PEACE IS AS FAR AWAY AS EVER

Simon Tisdall,   Thursday July 31, 2003

Not a little hope attached to this week's talks in Washington between the US president, George Bush, and the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Violence between Israelis and Palestinians has fallen sharply in recent weeks. Both sides have spoken in positive terms about the prospect of peace; both have made gestures, albeit mostly verbal, towards attaining that goal.

But there are three basic grounds for challenging Mr Bush's rosy judgment. The first cause for concern arises from the sight of Mr Sharon, standing alongside the US leader, reiterating in uncompromising terms his preconditions for negotiations on the fundamental issues that separate the two peoples.

If anything, Mr Sharon hardened his position. He made no mention, as he has in the past, of Israel's acceptance of a future Palestinian state; he made no reference, as before, to the unsustainability of the occupation of Palestinian land; and perhaps most ominously of all, he omitted all direct reference to the "road map".

READ FULL ARTICLE

THE STAGE IS SET FOR ETHNIC CLEANSING

by Kristen Ess July 26, 2003

   "Early Wednesday morning Israeli police and border guards invaded Sha'fat Refugee Camp in northern Jerusalem. They took 200 Palestinians and had thirty home demolition orders. Palestinians inside the camp say the Israelis want more space for the nearby settlement.

IOF continues to demolish homes and shoot into Khan Younis, Deir Belah, and Rafah, all in the southern half of the Gaza Strip. After the heavily publicized Israeli pull-out from Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, not much international attention is being paid to Israeli conduct inside the Strip. This was indeed the case when the IOF spent several months destroying the Beit Hanoun area outside of any public spotlight before they left.

Throughout this time the IOF is destroying hundreds of dunams of agricultural land. The Gaza Strip was a fertile area, with Palestinian farmers growing produce for internal consumption and for the residents of Jericho in the southern West Bank. But after destroying most of the farmland over the past year and confiscating much of it for Israeli settlements, there is little produce in the last month found inside the Gaza Strip, and what the residents of Jericho must now rely on comes from Israeli sources inside 1948 boundaries. This is part of the ethnic cleansing process. The dependency that occupation forces are foisting on Palestinians is deepening."

             READ FULL ARTICLE
THE IRON WALL OF FEAR
by Mitchell Plitnick
July 10, 2003


      "The wall creates a different kind of ghetto also in that it is a dual ghetto, affecting both Israelis and Palestinians, albeit in radically different ways. It will take Palestinian land, further strangle Palestinian travel and commerce, and make it even more unlikely that the Palestinians will even get the 22% of what was once Palestine under the British Mandate that the entire world (even, on paper, the United States) has agreed they are entitled to. It creates a further disruption of Palestinian life, increased hardship and desperation, and will only serve to increase the hopelessness and despair of Palestinians, some of whom will decide they have nothing better to do with their lives than to throw them away in order to kill Israeli civilians. It will also close Israelis in, so that only Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlers will extend beyond it. Palestinians will see none of the humanity of Israelis, none of the desire for peace, none of the characteristics of Israelis that can serve as the basis for an eventual rapprochement, that will serve as the hope for peace and a future where Israeli and Palestinian children can grow up with some expectation of a decent future. The wall will ensure that only the worst of each side reaches the other."

READ ABOUT THE WALL
THE ROADMAP HOAX
by Alexander Cockburn
June 01, 2003


Don't waste your time fretting over the fortunes of the "road map" to peace in the Middle East. It's all a fraud, following the contours of all the other frauds down the years, back to such museum pieces as the Rogers Plan, conceived in Nixon time.

The recipe is unvarying. The Palestinians are required to pledge that they will instantly abandon all vestiges of resistance to Israel's onslaughts on their persons, children, houses, land, crops, water, trees, livestock, roads, schools, universities, graveyards and public buildings.

In return Israel agrees that a few years down the road the government of Israel will begin to ponder the outlines of a dim possibility of formal ratification as a Palestinian statelet of whatever tiny sliver of territory they haven't already appropriated.
        READ THE FULL ARTICLE

THE ROAD MAP, FULL TEXT

   The Road Map is talked about a lot without much detail of what is in it. On the surface it is a laudable plan, a nice try, worded to appease Israel and the American Jewish lobby operating within Congress. But can it work? Can pigs fly? While you are at it you should look at the ISRAELI 14 OBJECTIONS. The realpolitik of the Road Map is something leading to a Palestinian Ghetto (akin to the Warsaw Ghetto).

ISRAEL'S 14 OBJECTIONS TO THE ROAD MAP

Marcus Clark, 31 May, 2003

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet approved the "road map" on 25 May. Intended to be a three-phase plan that calls for a settlement freeze and an end to terror attacks in the first stage, a Palestinian state with temporary borders in the second, and a final-status agreement by 2005.

The Road Map is clearly aimed at creating a Palestinian "state", but with Israeli definitions. That is a series of Palestinian ghettoes, surrounded by the new security wall. Israeli will control all borders, water supply, air space, main roads, radio waves, communications, electricity, who can enter and who can leave, importation and exportation of all goods, and there will be no armed forces or foreign policy.

In return the Palestinians will police themselves to the point where they will guarantee not to cause Israel any difficulties. This will be a great relief for the Israeli army, wonderful to have the Palestinian police force carry out arrests, interrogation, destruction of homes, and imprisonment for them.

READ THE 14 OBJECTIONS

I AM IN THE MIDST OF A GENOCIDE:
E-Mails from Gaza by Rachel Corrie May 2003

    "Rachel was murdered on March 16. She was run over by an Israeli-driven, U.S.-made Caterpillar D9 bulldozer while attempting to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home. At the time that she was killed she was wearing a bright fluorescent orange jacket, speaking to the driver through a bullhorn and looking at him straight in the eye. The driver of the bulldozer not only ran over her, but also backed over her again with the blade pressed down. There were seven eyewitnesses plus photos of her murder."

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

28 June 03. THE INVESTIGATION: A military prosecutor has exonerated the Israeli soldiers. According to the army, military police investigating the Corrie case found the soldiers operating the bulldozer were unaware of her presence in the area and had no intention of harming her.

A ROAD MAP TO THE OSLO CUL-DE-SAC
Adam Hanieh and Catherine Cook, 15 May, 2003

The "road map" to resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the subject of Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent diplomacy in the Middle East, may never reach the conclusion of its first phase. To date, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has yet to accept the initiative developed by the Quartet of the US, UN, European Union and Russia. Powell's May 11 visits with Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas failed to produce any significant developments -- their aftermath punctuated by Sharon's public dismissal of a settlement freeze and advisers close to Abbas reporting that Palestinians will take no action toward militant groups until Sharon formally accepts the road map.
                      READ ABOUT THE ROAD MAP

WHY THE ROAD MAP WILL FAIL
Marcus Clark 14 May, 2003

The Road Map is the latest plan to bring peace to Israel and Palestine. It has been sponsored by the US, UN, European Union, and Russia. The plan lays out parallel actions by the Israelis and Palestinians, step by step towards a two-state solution by 2005.

The Road Map will fail because there is no advantage for Israel to go down it. In contrast the Palestinians have repeatedly said they accept it 100%, since life in the ghettoes is getting impossible. The Palestinians are cut off from work, locked in their houses under curfew for days or weeks at a time, there are food shortages, unemployment near 50%, and malnutrition of children is endemic.

READ ARTICLE

ISRAEL'S CLAMPDOWN MASKS SYSTEM OF CONTROL

Adam Hanieh, 14 February, 2003
(Adam Hanieh is a researcher and human rights worker in Ramallah, the West Bank.)

   ... For those Palestinians not living under curfew, movement between towns and villages is extremely restricted, and often impossible. Following the March-April 2002 invasions, the Israeli government began to require any person wishing to travel between localities to present a permit issued by Israeli military authorities. It is very difficult to get a permit ... Even being in possession of a permit is no guarantee that movement will be allowed through checkpoints, as the major entrances and exits to and from cities are closed without stated reason, preventing everyone -- even those with permits -- from passing. All permits can be canceled by the decision of the Israeli army. ...

  . ... Israel steadily divides the West Bank and Gaza Strip into a series of separate cantons separated by concrete walls, bypass roads and Israeli settlements, such policies are necessary to maintain total control on the ground. The Israeli government is hoping that a Palestinian population driven into poverty and despair will accept this archipelago of disconnected population centers, dependent upon and controlled by Israel, as the contours of a future Palestinian "state."

   ... The West Bank now consists of 64 separate enclaves, with movement between them regulated by the Israeli military through the system described above. Moreover, Israel has begun construction of what has been dubbed the "Apartheid Wall," a chain of concrete ten feet high that will stretch for more than 223 miles along the length of the West Bank. ... it is estimated ... that around 10 percent of the West Bank will be confiscated to make way for the wall. ...
READ THE REPORT

THE MEN WHO WOULD SELL PALESTINE

by Ali Abunimah Daily Star 26 April, 2003

   David Hirst, the veteran correspondent for The Guardian, reported in 1996 on fears in Yasser Arafat's entourage that the Israelis would turn the Palestinian security forces against the Palestinian leader. According to Hirst, a Palestinian official said that the Israelis had so "penetrated" the security forces "that some of its leaders now depend on them at least as much as they do on Arafat. The time is coming when the Israelis decide that Arafat - who argues too much - has served his purpose." The official told Hirst that, "the Israelis are grooming Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], one of the secret negotiators of the Oslo accord, to take Mr. Arafat's place, and that they will count on Muhammad Dahlan, head of Preventative Security in Gaza, to lead the putsch."
          READ THE FULL STORY

MYRIAD FORMS OF ETHNIC CLEANSING
by Kristen Ess, 27 March 2003

   In Bethlehem there is a great deal of talk about a massive transfer of Aida Camp. The Israelis built the illegal settlement, Gilo, nearby, several years ago. This is how it often works: the Israeli military destroys Palestinian homes and terrorizes the people, kicking them out off their own land to no where. They begin just in the area where they build the settlements. Then the people who are living in the area nearby have to suffer increased repression at the hands of the Israeli military and heavily armed settlers. Next, little by little, using the excuse of the nearby settlement, the Palestinian people are kicked out of their homes and land, and the area for the settlement grows larger and larger. This is part of the process of ethnic cleansing--creating new facts on the ground.

READ THE ARTICLE


OCCUPIED PALESTINE
8 Feb 2003

  There are about 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Last night Israeli soldiers abducted 14 more. In the last two months Israeli soldiers have murdered 72 Palestinians. This means that the Israeli military kills four Palestinians a day.

  "All night it was explosions and shooting. They just shot everywhere to ruin the house. They exploded the door but everyone was sleeping. It was just the children in the room, just the small children. No one even knew what was happening. They put everyone outside in the cold and finished shooting the entire house. The buildings, my aunt has two, they're five floors, so ten families, they destroyed everything."

  This is ethnic cleansing and in all cases of ethnic cleansing, a great deal of effort goes into making the public think those being cleansed are bad, are evil, deserve it, are terrorists.

READ MORE

LIVING WITH THE HOLOCAUST
The journey of a child of holocaust survivors, by Sara Roy
November 14, 2002

  Read this fascinating article about the Holocaust, but wait... there's more! What was it like to be a Jew in Germany? What is it like to be an Arab in the West Bank? Read what a liberal Jewish woman experienced.

A CONSERVATIVE TOTAL FOR U.S. AID TO ISRAEL:
$84 Billion—and Counting

Total Cost to U.S. Taxpayers $134,791,507,200

By Shirl McArthur from THE WASHINGTON REPORT

  ... this is probably a good time to take another look at aid to Israel. The common figure given for U.S. aid to Israel is $3 billion per year—$1.2 billion in economic aid and $1.8 billion in military aid. As impressive as this figure is, however, since it represents about one-sixth of total U.S. foreign aid, the true figure is even more remarkable.

Download pdf report from the Library of Congress

Israel requests US $10 billion in aid for 2003
  Jan 2003