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Gaza Conflict Dead: 2,126 Palestinians; 68 Israelis*; Rachel Corrie’s Mom Says “Block the Boat!”

7:28 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Palestinian health officials say 2,114 people, most of them civilians and more than 400 of them children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the declared aim of ending Palestinian rocket fire into its territory.

Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been killed.

The Israeli* total includes one Thai resident of Israel. have added the twelve Palestinians killed in Gaza-related protests to reach the 2,126 figure. The Oman Tribune adds: “Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in the territory of 1.8 million where Palestinians, citing Israeli attacks that have hit schools and mosques, say no place is safe to live.”

And then there’s the Saturday bombing of Gaza City’s 13-story Al Zafer Tower, which “marked the first time in the Gaza war that Israel had brought down so tall a structure. It had housed 44 families, some of whom returned to the rubble on Sunday to search for belongings.” Was the attack collective punishment for Gaza mortars killing an Israeli child on Friday? Yeah, sure, probably.

Block The Boat!

Meanwhile, Block the Boat, people! If Rachel Corrie’s mom can do it, so can you, whether you’re in New York City tonight (Monday) at 11, or August 30 in Dublin.

Across the U.S. west coast, people have done their part in the effort to end Israeli apartheid and stop the barbaric killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians:

Israeli ship Zim Haifa stopped from unloading

The Israeli owned ship Zim Haifa arrived in Southern California early this morning (Saturday, August 23). The ship was scheduled to be unloaded today at Pier A of the Port of Long Beach. Over 250 people from throughout Southern California took part in the Community Picket at the entrance to the Pier called by the Block The Boat – LA Coalition.

We were there to show strong community support for the recent call by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) asking workers around the world to stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers, particularly those in Gaza who have been targeted so brutally by Israel over the last month, by refusing to handle Israeli goods.

Extra inspiration is to remember what the killing is all about, stopping Gaza from having a port and airport, from having any sovereignty:

Would Israel accept the demand for a port and an airport in Gaza? This has become a core issue in the quest for a long-term cease-fire. Would the agreement lift the embargo on Gaza? When would these issues be discussed and what guarantees would Hamas have that Israel would abide by any agreement?

Those guarantees are particularly hard to formulate, since Israel violated the 2012 ceasefire on a scale far in excess of Gaza violations, and refused to open up the Gaza as it had promised in the agreement.

Why Assassinating Hamas Leaders is Pointless Barbarism and Why Hamas Leaders Don’t Know Who Killed Those 3 Israeli Teems

I.e., don’t swallow the latest propaganda that transformed second-hand speculation into a factual statement … Anyway, The Irish Times says it best and adds some essential background:

Israel has routinely slain senior Hamas figures. Bomb maker and West Bank commander Yahya Ayyash was killed in 1996; Hamas’s co-founders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi in 2004; military commanders Nizar Rayan and Abu Zakaria al-Jamal in 2009; and al-Qassam’s deputy chief Ahmed Jabaari in 2012.

Hamas is resilient because it has dedicated leaders, a nationalist cause that appeals to Palestinians, and a structured organisation with political and military wings.

While its charter calls for Palestinian rule in all of Palestine, Hamas has said it is prepared to accept a Palestinian state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. …

The al-Qassam Brigades, established in 1987, … is subordinate to the political leadership but has considerable operational independence. The relationship has been described as being similar to Sinn Féin’s connection with the IRA.

Hamas units operate as separate cells; commanders are compelled to live underground, fighters to keep their membership secret.

86% of Gaza Dead Were Civilians (Believe the UN, Not NY Times’ Jodi Rudoren)

7:55 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

86% of Gaza Dead Were Civilians

As a pro-Israel propagandist, what would you do if the UN had just announced that 86% of those killed by Israel in its ‘war’ on Gaza were civilians? Would you:

1) Report the facts grudgingly but honestly.
2) Pretend the UN numbers don’t exist.
3) Misreport and slant the UN numbers so they favor Israel and add ‘for balance’ the alternative figures produced by an NGO allied with the Israeli military.

Well, obviously you’d choose 2 or 3. All except one American mainstream media outlet simply didn’t report the data provided by the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (PDF). I have found only one mainstream publication that did so, France’s Liberation, and there you see the 86% civilians figure (my poor translation aided by Google):

Gaza By the Numbers: Deaths, Immense Devastation, A Crushed Economy
AFP 5 August 2014 at 14:29 (Updated: August 5, 2014 at 17:37)

Over 29 days the Hamas-Israel war has killed more than 1,850 Palestinians and 64 Israeli soldiers, destroyed hundreds of homes and ruined an already barely functioning economy. The Gaza conflict numbers at the beginning of the 72-hour truce:


According to local emergency services, 1,867 Palestinians were killed and over 9,500 injured. According to a report Tuesday 0500 GMT the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the UN (OCHA), 1,814 Palestinians were killed. Among the 1,527 who were identified the overwhelming majority are civilians (1.312, 86%), including 408 children and adolescents and 214 women.

For its part, Israel lost 64 soldiers, its heaviest losses since the war with Hezbollah in 2006. Three civilians, including a Thai [resident], were also killed by rocket fire.

Liberation is working directly from the latest OCHA report:

Up to 08:00 on 6 August, the cumulative death toll among Palestinians was at least 1,849 according to preliminary data collected by the Protection Cluster from various sources, including 279 persons (15 percent) who could not be identified or their status established. Of the fatalities whose identity and status could be verified (1,570), (1,354 people) are believed to be civilians, including 415 children and 214 women, and nearly 14 percent (216) members of armed groups.

1,354 is 86.2% of 1,570. But instead of acknowledging these non-controversial figures, generated by the UN, an organization that is independent of the two warring sides, the New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren chooses “3)” and promotes the views of the Israeli-military linked Meir Amit. Not surprisingly but still preposterously it claims about half of the Gaza dead were combatants (or ‘militants’, the term the NY Times prefers for the Gaza government’s soldiers). As for the UN figures, here’s how she deals with the UN’s OCHA:

The United Nations — which had a lower death toll, 1,814 — said that at least 72 percent were civilians …

But wait, Jodi, I go to that link and it says this:

Over 85 per cent of Palestinian fatalities since the start of the emergency are believed to be civilians (excluding those whose bodies could not be identified or their status determined …

So, obviously, you’re lying. No, I don’t accept that you ‘made a mistake’ or that you seriously think all the bodies that could not be identified (yes, that is a nightmare image) were the bodies of combatants.

Greg Mitchell very capably and with all the essential sarcasm handles Rudoren’s stenography for the war criminals:

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Gaza Conflict: 72-Hour Ceasefire Fails; 1451 Palestinians, 59 Israelis Dead

3:10 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

According to Al Jazeera, “Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu Zuhri, tells AJE that Hamas and all factions in Gaza agree to the United Nations ceasefire for 72 hours starting from 05GMT [midnight ET], as long as the other side abides to it.” Earlier: “UN and US say humanitarian truce in Gaza has been agreed by all sides as Israeli and Palestinian delegations on way to Cairo.” You can read more here.

As for the casualties:

At least 1,441 Palestinians have been killed, three-quarters of them civilians, since hostilities began on July 8, according to Gaza health officials — surpassing the at least 1,410 Palestinians killed in 2009, according to Palestinian rights groups.

Israel says 56 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai agricultural worker have died — also far more than the 13 Israeli deaths in the previous campaign.

As I’ve done in earlier posts, I’ve added the ten Palestinians that Israel killed in West Bank Gaza-solidarity protests. Gaza’s emergency services reports more than 8,100 wounded in Gaza during the conflict/assault/massacre.

By the way, about those “terror tunnels,” hyped by the U.S. mainstream media in coordination with Israel’s propaganda services:

Media Hype and Gaza’s ‘Terror’ Tunnels
By Peter Hart
July 29, 2014

Coincidentally or not, there’s been a noticeable increase in media attention to the tunnels in Gaza, many of which lead to Israel and are used by Hamas militants for attacks. The Israeli government has said that destroying the tunnels is one of the rationales for the war.

… the only thing missing from these nightmarish scenarios of terrorists emerging from the ground to kill innocents is any evidence that anything like this has ever happened. The Times story quotes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the ‘sole purpose’ of the tunnels ‘is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children.’ But have there been any such attacks?

Journalist and media critic Greg Mitchell has posed this question on his blog (Pressing Issues, 7/29/14), where he reports that CNN’s Jake Tapper responded to his queries on Twitter by noting that all of the the tunnel deaths he was aware of have been Israeli military.

Palestinian deaths, military and civilian (Intercept) Glenn Greenwald (Intercept, 7/29/14) notes that Israel –- often credited in US media with taking great care to avoid civilian casualties -– has actually killed three noncombatant for every ‘militant.’ Meanwhile, only 5 percent of the much smaller number of deaths caused by Palestinian fighters have been civilians, even though Hamas’s disregard for innocent life is taken for granted by US journalists.

Gaza Conflict: 1039 Palestinians, 43 Israelis Dead; Israel Bombs Another Hospital [UPDATED]

7:04 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

851 Palestinians (844 in Gaza, 7 in the West Bank) and 38 Israelis have died in the Gaza conflict. 80% or about 680 of the Palestinians and three of the Israelis (one of whom is a resident and not a citizen) were civilians. [UPDATE: at the time of the Saturday morning truce, the number of dead had risen to 890 Palestinians and 40 Israelis.] [UPDATE 2: After a grueling day of digging up bodies from the rubble, the Palestinian death toll is now 1039 (1032 in Gaza and 7 in the West Bank. More Israeli soldiers had died before the truce, so the Israeli total increased to 43.] As noted in the casualty figures, Israel has expanded its killing to the West Bank: Israeli troops kill Palestinian teens in W.Bank protests. And Israel continues to target and bomb schools (see UN school shelled leaving 15 dead) and hospitals. The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) reported Friday night from Beit Hanoun Hospital:

“It’s now chaos, the military is shelling directly at us. There are two patients on the second floor and we think they’re okay, but we can’t move them easily as they’re bed-bound. I’m bleeding from a head wound and there’s another person injured. People are very frightened,” stated Fred Ekblad, Swedish ISM activist.

At 19:00, Beit Hanoun Hospital was first hit by an Israeli tank shell and the shooting and shelling has continually increased.

This afternoon, Israeli forces destroyed an ambulance in Beit Hanoun, killing one paramedic and critically injuring another.

The ISM medical team statement added:

This is the third Israeli attack on Gazan medical facilities and personnel in the last 24 hours. The first resulted in the destruction of Al Durrah Children’s Hospital in Gaza City last night. A two year-old child in the Intensive Care Unit was killed, and 30 others injured.

Since Israel began its attack on Gaza, 13 ambulances have been completely destroyed and two paramedics have been killed. Throughout the massacre, medical staff and facilities have been repeatedly targeted.

In other, possibly good news, Israel has agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire to begin at 8:00 am Saturday morning in Israel, with the condition that Israel not stop searching out and destroying the tunnels that in a very limited way have broken Israel and Egypt’s illegal siege. According to Israeli news reports, Hamas has also agreed to the short ceasefire. Looking at that condition, should they?

In any case my sympathies to the Palestinians who somehow have to figure out a way to resist the overwhelming force of Israeli arms, the constant death from the air even when Hamas has stopped firing rockets, and the siege (‘Unless Israel lifts its blockade of Gaza, no ceasefire can work‘), which is killing people as effectively as bombs do. The Angry Arab sums up:

Brief history of Palestinian resistance
They did nothing and they ignored them. They resorted to armed struggle and then they called them terrorists. They throw rocks at Israelis and they called told them that they should stick to civil disobedience and just bang pots and pans. Then (some) resorted to suicide bombings and then they told them: see, you are losing support. They were told that armed struggle is when they only attack soldiers. And then they sat quietly. And then they resisted Israeli war crimes and were told that Israeli soldiers’ families are really sad and upset and that they should not operate from “population centers” and that they should move to a field in Belgium if they really want to attack Israeli soldiers.

It is very good to see both that the ‘suicide bomber’ era is long in the past and that the Palestinian resistance is obviously targeting the Israeli military and not civilians. The numbers don’t lie, and they say that only one side, the Israelis, are the blood-soaked barbarians. On this matter, one more note from the Angry Arab:

Hamas targets
Today, for example, Arabic media reported that Qassam announced targeting a nuclear weapon site outside of Tel Aviv. Tomorrow, all US media will ignore the announcement and will say that Hamas announced targeting “Israeli population centers”.

Finally, Jon Snow of Britain’s Channel 4 has written a remarkably sad, humane piece on a reporter’s personal experiences inside Gaza during the bombing, and the telling contrasts when he crosses into Israel:

… I know not their story, nor how, alone seemingly, they were the only Palestinians, in that brief half-hour of Israeli aerial ceasefire, to have been allowed across.

But holding [their] girl baby connected me again to the wardfuls of small children so brutally smashed by this odious war. Connected me too to the ever-present reality that the average age in Gaza is 17 and that a quarter of a million are children are, like the babe in my arms, small children.

… Gaza’s agony … deepened with the UN school attack as I was crossing. I feel guilty in leaving, and for the first time in my reporting life, scarred, deeply scarred by what I have seen, some of it too terrible to put on the screen.

It is accentuated by suddenly being within sumptuously appointed Israel. Accentuated by the absolute absence of anything that indicates that this bloody war rages a few miles away. A war that the UN stated yesterday has reduced 55 per cent of Gaza’s diminutive land to a no-go area.

645 Palestinians, 29 Israelis Killed in Gaza Conflict, U.S./EU/HRW Condemn Hamas, ‘Concerned’ About Israel

3:42 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Human Rights Watch logo

HRW and other US NGOs have a double standard on Gaza.

621 Palestinians, 80% of them (495) civilians, and 29 Israelis, all but two of them soldiers, have now died in the Gaza conflict. [Update: 633 Palestinians (about 505 civilians).] [Update 2: Now 645 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza (The Israeli figure remains at 29).] Notice which side is apparently being very careful not to kill civilians. And yet the EU, U.S. and Human Rights Watch ferociously and specifically condemn the ‘criminality’ only of Gaza’s rockets fired into Israel, while not condemning Israel. Instead, these moral cretins just advise it to ‘please be more careful’ as it launches round after round of collective punishment death into Gaza. Are they on the same planet, do they see the same photos, as you and I?


Human Rights Watch and its tricks

It is now standard. HRW can’t offer mild, qualified, lawyerly, and half-hearted criticisms of Israeli war crimes without coupling them immediately with categorical, unqualified, and unconditional criticisms of the population under occupation.

Angry Arab above is commenting on HRW’s report, Airstrike Deaths Raise Concerns on Ground Offensive, which refuses to outright condemn or even mention the Shujaiyah massacre. Nonetheless, it may be slightly more forthright on Israel than its first report on the Gaza war, which Norman Finkelstein has analyzed.


In a dramatic statement issued Tuesday evening, the 28 foreign ministers of EU member states called for the disarmament of Hamas [pay wall] and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

Here is the EU statement on Hamas and the side that has killed a total of two civilians:

The EU strongly condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians. These are criminal and unjustifiable acts. The EU calls on Hamas to immediately put an end to these acts and to renounce violence. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm.

Here is the EU statement on the side that has killed 505 civilians:

The EU condemns the loss of hundreds of civilian lives, among them many women and children. While recognizing Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks, the EU underlines that the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law.

Is the EU insane? Why, when Gaza is undergoing the latest in a series of debased and indiscriminate ‘collective punishment’ assaults, with hundreds of civilians dead, would the elected Gaza government, i.e., Hamas, disarm rather than defend its people? And why doesn’t the EU condemn Israel’s massive bombardment as “criminal and unjustifiable” like it does Gaza’s rocket attacks against Israel? Where is the phrase “collective punishment” in the EU report? You craven batch of sniveling cowards.

The U.S.

It’s even worse in the U.S. I really want to get this out and I think you kind of know just how horrible the disinfo is in the U.S. If not, start with ‘Israel Is Killing Hundreds of Civilians in Gaza, and American Elites Don’t Really Care’, and then read this brilliant column by Rami G. Khouri:

Read the rest of this entry →

Israel Invades Gaza, 264 Gazans and 2 Israelis Dead, But U.S. Media Has Moved On

7:58 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

Israel invades Gaza, the number of dead soars (UPDATED) (UPDATE 2: Gaza deaths soar to 264 on day 11 of Israel assault), but the media has moved on. The Malaysian passenger jet tragedy is huge news, but does Israel’s invasion really not warrant even a mention on the Yahoo! News U.S. home page?

That’s so odd that I start to question my own reality. Did Israeli missiles really kill four boys yesterday while they were playing soccer or hide-and-seek on a Gaza beach? Or was that just an ‘anti-Israel’ nightmare? Erase Gaza from your minds my fellow Americans, there’s a Malaysian Airlines tragedy to ponder! But then, go to the UK’s Yahoo! News and the Israeli invasion of Gaza is back on, it’s real again. All very strange, how our U.S. media masters treat us. Like guinea pigs in a carefully controlled disinformation experiment.

Much Gaza news disappeared today, but while it was ‘hot’ half a day ago, we had this from famous American ‘liberal’ Bill Maher: “Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u – u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.” Yeah, say it loud misogynist man! And then there was the case of the man who reported too well and had to be removed immediately from your television. (Ayman Mohyeldin “was instrumental, both in social media and on the air, in conveying to the world the visceral horror of the attack” on the four boys.)

But at least Israel can rest comfortably today, the paralyzed, bed-ridden terrorists of El Wafa Hospital*** will threaten it no longer: Israel destroys el-Wafa hospital as staff evacuates all patients. Even better, Alan Dershowitz tweets, today’s a great beach day in Tel Aviv. And to make your beach day even better:

‘Tel Aviv municipality to install giant screens to watch IDF offensive …’ (See the ‘screenshot’ of the Times of Israel frontpage here) [Parody Alert!]

(Steven Salaita writes: “Many think@bouno479′s parody of Israelis watching the bombing on a big screen is real. Think about that for a sec.”)

***’The Israelis … have destroyed the only rehab clinic in the West Bank and Gaza. They are not solving the issues; they are creating more suicide bombers. You cannot solve issues like this at all. They are the ones creating suicide bombings, not us.’ – El Wafa Hospital Director Basman Alashi

53 Palestinians, 0 Israelis Die in Air and Missile Strikes …

5:54 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Smoke rises from Palestinian buildings after air strikes.

Is the US media biased in its reports on Israeli airstrikes?

And yet still we get obscene propaganda from the mainstream ‘news’ masquerading as a headline:

Gaza rockets land deep in Israel as it bombards Palestinian enclave

The Reuters article above, with its propaganda headline, reports that 37 53 (see comment 39) Palestinians have died so far, but differing data on the dead and injured is provided in a more balanced article in the Guardian:

The air assault continued throughout Wednesday morning bringing the Palestinian death toll to 32 in two days, including several senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. More than 150 people have been injured. There have been about 440 air strikes since the beginning of the week.

Palestinian medics in Gaza City said two women and four children had been killed in strikes in the north and east of the city near the border with Israel on Wednesday morning.

‘Four Palestinians were killed in air strikes, including two brothers who are 12 and 13 years old in Shejaiya, while a four-year-old boy and a woman were killed in a raid on Zeitun,’ emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told Agence France-Presse.

The Guardian reports that the U.S., which means Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama, supports without reservation the air war on a largely defenseless population:

The White House condemned the rocket attacks against Israel. ‘No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks,’ said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Oh of course, the Gazans are vicious for killing no one, but ‘no comment’ on the Israeli air strikes that have killed 29 civilians according to Reuters.

I bet most Americans oppose Israel’s deadly civilian-killing response to being attacked by so far harmless unguided missiles. They would oppose Israel’s actions even more strongly if they were allowed to read and listen to unbiased/balanced news reports in/on the mainstream media. The thing is, I wish it weren’t an issue of whether the U.S. ‘supports’ or ‘doesn’t support’ Israel’s actions. My question is, why are we giving Israel so much money every year? Can’t we find more deserving nations for our charity?

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On Gaza, Key Israelis Speak of Ethnic Cleansing and Mass Killing

8:11 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Women at a free Palestine protest in hijabs, one holding sign: Stop the Genocide of Palestine

Recent statements lay bare the lust for Palestinian blood.

Found this remarkable comment by 46nd2 under a CNN article on the latest Israeli air strikes on Gaza, mostly on civilians and government officials. (At least 13 have died so far, all but two apparently civilians.)

Through the smoke and behind the mirrors…

- Israeli FM Avigdor Liberman: ‘Israel needs to conquer and thoroughly cleanse the Gaza Strip’

- Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai: ‘The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages, only then will Israel be calm for the next 40 years.’

- Michael Ben-Ari: ‘There are no innocents in Gaza, don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives — mow them down!’ (Gaza has 1.6m people half children under 17yo)

- Gilad Sharon (son of the former Israeli Prime minister Ariel Sharon): ‘We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza, Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima — the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.’

Moments later 46nd2 adds another comment:

The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights warns the world that ‘Israel is slouching towards nothing less than a Palestinian Holocaust.’

These popular politicians’ obscenities reflect the new normal in Israel, which Israel-supportive media either ignore or categorize as outside the Israeli mainstream. But sometimes, as in Israeli reaction to the kidnapping and deaths of three Israeli 17-19 year-olds, the new normal is impossible to ignore:

Many users uploading photos were teenagers and currently serving in the IDF. Two girls took a picture as they held a sign saying, ‘Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values.’ Others posted messages threatening Arab members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Tuesday night, hundreds of Israelis staged a street march through Jerusalem, chanting ‘death to Arabs’ …

The world needs to say no to the concentration camp that is Gaza, and to the killing of Gaza civilians. And why can’t even befuddled and propagandized Americans find the moral compass and courage to say no emphatically to the racists, ethnic cleansers and murderers eager to kill thousands of Arabs?

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UN Chief backs Goldstone report on Israel/Hamas war crimes

10:05 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Reported here and below, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has lined up with a key provision of Goldstone report debate at the outset of debate on the Gaza war this morning at the U.N.:

UN urges ‘credible’ probes into Gaza war
October 14, 2009

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urges Israel and the Palestinians to conduct, without delay, “credible” domestic probes of war crimes allegations during the Gaza conflict, a top UN official said Wednesday.

Ban “calls upon all of the parties to carry out credible domestic investigations into the conduct of the conflict without delay,” UN Under Secretary General for political affairs Lynn Pascoe told the UN Security Council.

“He hopes that such steps will be taken wherever there are credible allegations of human rights abuses throughout the world,” he added.

Pascoe noted that Ban’s call dovetails with a key recommendation in a UN report that accused both Israel and Palestinian armed groups of war crimes during the three-week Gaza conflict over the new year.

The damning report by a team led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone, a former international war crimes prosecutor, also directed Ban to bring its report to the attention of the UN Security Council for follow-up action, which could be a referral to the International Criminal Court.

(Note to Israel Lobby: any anti-Ban smears at hand?) Tomorrow, the UN Human Rights Council takes up the report:

Human Rights Council to discuss recent UN probe into Gaza conflict
October 13, 2009

The Human Rights Council announced today that it will hold a special session on Thursday to discuss the report of the recent United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict that took place at the start of the year. . . .

The mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, found evidence that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants committed serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, which may amount to crimes against humanity, during the conflict in December 2008 and January 2009.

Presenting his report to the Council late last month, Justice Goldstone called for an end to impunity for those found to have committed human rights violations.

“It is accountability above all that is called for in the aftermath of the regrettable violence that has caused so much misery for so many,” he said.

Justice Goldstone urged the Council to implement a number of measures, including a referral of the mission’s report to the Security Council, since neither the Government of Israel nor the responsible Palestinian authorities have so far carried out any credible investigations into alleged violations.

Meanwhile and empowered by the Goldstone report, the divestment movement in the U.S. courageously marches on, university by university. Yesterday the University of Wisconsin took on Israel’s bulldozers:

UW must divest from Caterpillar
Sam Stevenson
October 13, 2009

Israel is a criminal nation. This statement has been a verifiable fact for many decades and continues to gain support with each new violation of international law Israel commits. Most recently, a U.N. report authored by Richard Goldstone — a South African judge and self-proclaimed Zionist — found that Israel (and Hamas) committed war crimes and (quite possibly) crimes against humanity earlier this year during the Israeli invasion of Gaza. During that war the Israeli army killed more than 1,300 Gazans including 437 under 18. They also wounded nearly 2,000 Gaza children. In contrast, the Israel Defense Forces suffered 13 causalities, nearly half victims of friendly fire. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were left homeless in the war’s aftermath. Even before the war, figures as diverse as President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had compared the conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territories to those of blacks in South Africa under apartheid.

. . . The UW system has an endowment that is invested in a long list of corporations. One of those corporations is Caterpillar — the manufacturer of the bulldozers that the IDF employs to tear down Palestinian homes — to the tune of nearly $400,000. The tuition dollars we give the university every year fund this system and makes us, in part, responsible for how and where this endowment is invested. A brief review of the facts makes it clear the UW System Board of Regents must follow historical precedent and withdraw endowment funds from companies doing business with perpetrators of war crimes.

In the past, the UW has divested from countries and companies that are complicit in violations of international law. These include South Africa, Burma and Sudan. In fact, the UW System Trust and Fund Policy states it will “seriously reconsider” investments in companies that “violate, frustrate or subvert” international law. Cases involving Caterpillar’s complicity in violations of international law as well as the legality of Israel’s demolition policy are currently being litigated; indisputably, compelling evidence of criminality exists. Other universities in the U.S. and Europe have already divested from Caterpillar for these very reasons.

The student idealists of the Israel divestment movement, following the path of the successful South Africa boycott movement of two decades ago, are the best hope for justice in Palestine. Aside from the direct pressure of divestment on Israel, the effort puts pressure from the left on the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, highlighting their hypocrisy and subservience to Israel. Great learning experience for Poli Sci and other students about what is at stake and about the bipartisan imperial policy. Foreign Policy in Focus’s Stephen Zunes writes:

The [Goldstone] report, authored by renowned South African jurist Richard Goldstone, detailed the results of the UNHRC’s fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict. These findings included the recommendation that both Hamas and the Israeli government bring to justice those responsible for war crimes during the three weeks of fighting in late December and early January. If they don’t, the report urges that the case be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible prosecution.

The Obama administration has declared — in the words of U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice — that such a recommendation is “basically unacceptable.” It has insisted that any legal remedies be handled by the respected parties internally. Since neither Hamas nor the Israeli government will likely prosecute those responsible for war crimes, the administration’s action will essentially prevent these Palestinian and Israeli war criminals from ever being brought to justice.

. . . The Goldstone Commission report cited in detail a whole series of violations of the laws of war by Hamas, including rocket attacks into civilian-populated areas of Israel, torture of Palestinian opponents, and continued holding of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

What has upset Obama administration officials and congressional Democrats, however, was that the report also concluded that Israel’s military assault on Gaza was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish humiliate and terrorize a civilian population,” citing Israel’s deadly attacks against schools, mosques, private homes and businesses nowhere near legitimate military targets. These conclusions echo detailed empirical reports released in recent months by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, among others.

. . . Though Rice had argued just a few months earlier during a UN debate on Darfur that war crimes charges should never be sacrificed for political reasons, she reinforced Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley’s insistence that the report “should not be used as a mechanism to add impediments to getting back to the peace process.”

Students, alumni, is your college or university funding the bulldozers that flatten Palestinian homes or human rights protestors? Is it financing apartment blocks for illegal settlements in the West Bank? Learn, then learn the most important lessons by acting for justice.

Israel’s Gaza war crimes at 10/14 UN Security Council

8:32 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Always good when popular pressure forces a politician to do the right thing. In this case, the right thing is to discuss and act on the Goldstone report, which detailed possible Israeli and Hamas war crimes during Israel’s invasion of Gaza last December and January. West Bank president Mahmoud Abbas reversed an earlier stance (purchased by the U.S.) to delay action, and now supports getting the report discussed on Wednesday by the Security Council and then referred to the UN Human Rights Council:

Criticism forces Abbas to harden stance
October 12, 2009
Michael Jansensus

. . . Many Palestinians were outraged when [Abbas] shook hands with Mr Netanyahu at an encounter arranged by US president Barack Obama on the sidelines of opening of the UN General Assembly.

Mr Abbas had said that he would not meet or negotiate with Mr Netanyahu until he agreed to freeze all Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Under US political and financial pressure, Mr Abbas capitulated to what a Palestinian observer called a “$200 million handshake,”referring to the amount the US pledged for PA budgetary support by the end of the year.

Outrage became fury when the PA agreed to postpone endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council of a report on crimes committed during Israel’s war on Gaza earlier this year.

Palestinian economy minister Bassem Khoury resigned in protest, other PA figures called the decision a mistake, and Palestinians staged a rally in Ramallah. . . .

. . . In an attempt to limit damage over the Goldstone report, Mr Abbas instructed the PA delegation in Geneva and the Palestinian observer at UN to press for an early discussion in either the Human Rights Council or the Security Council of the 575-page document, which provides evidence of Israeli and, to a lesser extent, Hamas war crimes.

Fearing involvement of the International Criminal Court, Israel has threatened to pull out of US-brokered talks if the Goldstone report is endorsed and its recommendations are adopted.

Though it won’t be as effective as human rights activists wish, especially not in the U.S., displaying Israeli immorality and criminality to the world is still the most promising path for international resistance to take. At least it gets real results (a series of diplomatic and popular blows against Israel are listed in “Israel-Turkey relations hit new low“), and the real results would mount if Israel continues on its present path. In addition, campaigning for basic human rights in Palestine and against war criminality on both sides is so obviously right and fair-minded that even members of the Israeli home team are swayed (see British UN ambassador in article below). Maybe even more so when the main argument against justice is ‘you/they did it too’:

Israeli officials warn against support for UN report
October 11, 2009
Ben Lynfield

A jittery Israeli government reacted furiously yesterday after a top British diplomat voiced support for aspects of a UN report that could lead to prosecution of Israeli army officers for alleged war crimes.

The UK ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, told Israel Army radio that the report on last winter’s Gaza war contains “some very serious details which need to be investigated by both the Palestinian authorities and the Israeli authorities.”

He added that “serious information” in the document gives rise to the suspicion that violations of the laws of war were committed.

The remarks, three days before the report is expected to be raised in the security council at Libya’s behest, highlighted a British position that is rhetorically distinct from that of Washington, which has been strongly backing an Israeli campaign to scuttle the report on the grounds it is biased.

Mr. Sawers took issue with the prevalent Israeli idea that the commission headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone had reached its conclusions in advance of its research. “This investigation was led by a serious figure, Richard Goldstone, a South African Jew with long experience in justice. It’s not as if he was in any way biased,” he said.

Israeli officials warned in response that any British support for the report would boomerang. If a precedent is set of Israelis being prosecuted for acts during the Gaza war, Britons could also be placed in the dock for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they said. “London, which is also in the midst of a war against terror, could find itself in handcuffs if it supports the document,” they said.

The report issued last month said that both Israel and Hamas were guilty of war crimes during the conflict in which nearly 1400 Palestinians and thirteen Israelis died. It said the Israeli military had proven unable to investigate itself and recommended the war crimes allegations be referred to the International Criminal Court if “good faith investigations” were not underway within six months.

The Jerusalem Post, probably accurately, explains why Sawers is standing against war criminality:

. . . The feeling in Jerusalem was that Sawers’s remarks were not random off-the cuff comments, but were actually reflective of British government thinking. There was a sense that the British, themselves involved in a nasty war against terrorism, realize that supporting this document could handcuff them down the road, but they also realize that the US would almost certainly veto any Security Council resolution on the matter. In other words, London could curry favor with the Arab and Muslim countries by supporting the report, knowing full well that in the final analysis the US would step in, do their “dirty work,” and veto the resolution before it could harm British interests.

Sawers will become head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency next month.

Finally, and maybe it’s wishful thinking, but it would be nice, in honor of his Nobel Prize, if Obama would not veto referring the Goldstone report to the UN Human Rights Council. If it really was given to him prospectively, it’s time to start earning it. Haroon Siddiqui writes:

Nobel Prize puts pressure on Barack Obama and Israel
By Haroon Siddiqui
Sunday, Oct 11 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize was always political, in the positive sense. The awards to Desmond Tutu, Yitzhak Rabin/Yasser Arafat, José Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Shirin Ebadi of Iran, etc. were meant to advance peace and other causes.

Barack Obama’s efforts at dragging America back into multilateralism, rebuilding bridges to the Arab/Muslim world, looking for a light at the end of the Afghan tunnel, trying for peace in the Middle East, etc. can use the Nobel to overcome his detractors. No wonder they are being so bilious.

Being honoured for defending the rule of law should also help him ease the U.S. from protecting Israel despite its flouting of international norms.

Take the recent Richard Goldstone report that said Israel and Hamas committed war crimes in Gaza. Instead of heeding his findings, Israel and the U.S. have been slinging mud at the highly respected South African jurist and former prosecutor of war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, who also happens to be a committed Zionist.

The smear job was followed by American strong-arm tactics to derail his report from the UN Human Rights Council, the Geneva-based body that had commissioned it. Mahmoud Abbas was pressured into spearheading a postponement until March.

But the report won’t go away. It has been forced onto the agenda of the Security Council for Wednesday by Libya, the only Arab state currently on the 15-member body. Even if the initiative had come from a respectable member, the outcome probably would still be the same: a U.S. veto against any meaningful action.

But post-Nobel, such a vote would be embarrassing for Obama (he has already backed off his earlier call for Israel to freeze illegal Jewish settlements). And his grand declarations of building bridges to the Muslim world would begin to sound hollow.

_Beginning_ to sound hollow? In a year that began with Obama approving of Israel’s invasion and crippling embargo of Gaza, Siddiqui is bending over backward trying to sound ‘mainstream’.