Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Israel Tortures Palestinian Detainees Captured in Gaza War

Most people have heard about Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier taken hostage in late June 2006 but not so much about the kidnapping earlier in the month of Salwa Salah and Sara Siureh, two Palestinian girls (both 16) kidnapped from their homes in Bethlehem and held without charge in administrative detention. See a piercing post about the issue here.

It is similarly unlikely to expect mainstream media to report on the roughly 200 Palestinians kidnapped by Israeli forces during Israel's most recent war on Gaza and the torture to which they have been subjected.
Speaking about the kidnapped, seven Israeli human rights groups assert that:
... minors and adults were held in ditches dug in dirt for hours, sometimes days, exposing the detainees to the elements while handcuffed and blindfolded. The testimonies also suggested that food and shelter were not always made available to the detainees. Even after the detainees were taken out of the ditches, the letter argued, the detainees were held inside a truck for an entire night, handcuffed, with one blanket for every two people. They suffered violence and humiliation at the hand of IDF soldiers and investigators, the letter went on to suggest. The rights groups went on to argue that after the detainees were transferred to a military detention facility, they were denied showers and bathroom facilities.
See Ha'aretz here. According to Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs (yes, so persistent is the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails that a ministry was created):
...prisoners were subjected to severe beating especially in the upper parts of the body, forced to sit in uncomfortable positions, deprived of sleep and forced to sit on children chairs while both hands and feet shackled in addition to violently shaking them and exposing them to extreme cold... some of those detainees were moved to the Negev desert prison without any clothes, covers or other basic necessities, and noted that the IOA [Israeli Occupation Authority] was dealing with those detainees as "unlawful combatants", which meant they had no rights and [are] indefinitely detained without trial or specific charge or knowing the reason for their detention.
See Palestine Information Center here.

The Shin Bet is currently releasing information that 'terrorists' that they captured in Gaza are now confessing to
Palestinian terrorist groups training and hiding bombs in mosques. Sure, nothing a little waterboarding and torture can't dream up for the occupation.

There are currently 11,000 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, including 345 children and 53 parliamentary members! Inspite of the 1999 High Court of Justice ruling prohibiting most means of torture by the Israeli security forces, Palestinian detainees continue to be victims of torture.

Obama's Math Theorem = 100 Palestinian Kids' Lives < (Worth Less Than) 1 Israeli Kids' Life

On July 23 2008, when visiting Sderot (the Qassam hit-town) in Israel, Obama spoke the following, "if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that." See Ha'aretz here.

During the Gaza War, which conveniently ended two days before Obama's inauguration as President, he insisted on not commenting on the assault because 'there is only one president at a time'. His charming rhetoric was being put on hold because it would mean he would not have to talk about Palestinian lives under threat from chiefly US-supplied arms.

Following inauguration, the silence on Palestinian children and Palestinians continued. Rather, he spoke with Mahmoud Abbas and Olmert and with the heads of Jordan and Egypt (the American-friendly regimes at peace with Israel who came under serious criticism for essentially echoing the Israeli line in the opening days of the assault). He did not call the elected government of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, Hamas, who throughout was under threat of political assisinations together with the people of Gaza.

The following photo is of Palestinian kids back in school following Israel's 22 day assault on the Gaza Strip. Placards indicate classmates who are no longer with them.

Mohammed Kutkut, 14, right, covers his face as he sits next to the name sign of his killed friend Ahed Qaddas in the Fakhoura boys school in Jebaliya, northern Gaza strip, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009. Three friends of his class where killed when the Israeli army shelled Jebaliya in the past weeks (AP)

So really Obama? You would do everything? You would kill over 400 Palestinian kids to stop home-made rockets from landing on your home (rockets which incidentally have killed around 18 Israelis since 2000)? Well, if your theorem reads that 1 Israeli life (13 Israelis dead) is worth more than that of a hundred Palestinians (over 1300 Palestinians dead), I'd see how you would.

Please see Noam Chomsky's take on Obama's oratorical prowess but moral ineptness here. On how Obama learned to love Israel to stay in political power see Ali Abunimah here.

Shame on your silence. Shame.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Israeli Soldiers Confirm Suicide Orders Over Being Taken Hostage in Gaza War

According to the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv and the Israeli Channel 10 Tv station, a number of Israeli soldiers have confirmed that they were given strict orders not to be kidnapped, and to kill themselves rather than be taken hostage in the War on Gaza. See the report at arabs48 here.

This would strengthen Hamas' claim that two kidnapping operations did take place, the first on the third day of the ground invasion and the second on January 5, and that in both cases, the Israeli air force struck and killed the kidnappers and the kidnapped - their own soldiers. See my previous post on this issue here. At the time I wrote that report, there was no news of the kidnappings. However, now Israeli soldiers and the media are speaking up.

According to an officer from Battalion 501 of the elite Golani Brigades, "No troop member from the 501 battalion was to be kidnapped at any cost, nor in any situation, even if this means blowing up a grenade in his possession, killing himself and those trying to kidnap him".

According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonot, army instructions called for the prevention of kidnapping at all costs, including shooting at the area where the kidnapped soldier was being held.

According to one soldier, he received the following instruction from a Givati Brigades officer before the ground incursion into Gaza, "What is happening is not important, there will not be a kidnapped soldier, we will not have 2 Gilad Shalits at any price."

Is this honestly an establishment and an order that cares about its soldiers? The government's public adulation for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped June 2006, really amounts to naught when we factor in these strict orders - for Israeli soldiers to commit suicide over being taken hostage - during the Gaza operation.

We come to realise that Israeli lives do not matter, contrary to government professions. The gesturing for Gilad Shalit is just that, gesturing. What the overarching goal of the government is is to prevent 'political casualties', those events that would make the government appear weak.

The Israeli establishment's war ethos makes it so morally devoid that not only do over 1300 Palestinian lives, 86% of them civilians, not count, their own countrymen do not count either - they explicitly call for their deaths over suffering a 'political casualty'.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Palestinian Resistance: Around 80 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza War; Israel Silent

Ezzedeen Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, confirm having killed 49 Israeli soldiers during the War on Gaza, and estimate that throughout the war around 80 Israeli soldiers were killed. They confirm having injured hundreds. They also assert that they undertook two kidnapping operations of Israeli soldiers - the first was on the third day of the ground invasion and the second was on January 5. In both cases, the Israeli air force struck and killed the kidnappers and the kidnapped - their own soldiers.

See the full press release in Arabic here, a roughly translated version of the press release in English here, and an English news brief on the press release here.

However, there has been no mention of such Israeli soldier deaths, injuries or kidnappings from the Israeli media. Israel insists that only 10 soldiers were killed during the war and 4 of them from friendly fire. Either Hamas is outright lying or Israel isn't telling the whole story. If the latter is true, it can be explained by the fact that the Israeli Military Censor strictly forbids news of soldiers deaths, rocket strikes, and troop movements from being published without it going through the news item first. This is so as to prevent aiding an enemy or harming the security of the state.

Zatzman in 'The Return of the Israeli Military Censor' writes of the Israeli Military Censor (IMC):

...the Israeli military censor has been and will continue to suppress publication of information it considers not appropriate to relay to the Israeli public at this time. Until now, the Israeli Military Censor had been trotted out, especially during the first Intifada, to keep the foreign press from reporting struggles waged or victories won by Palestinian military forces against regular Israeli military forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Read the full article here on the IMC's role during the Lebanon War.

Should the Hamas reports on the kidnappings be true, we can conclude that the establishment almost certainly wants to avoid creating another Gilad Shalit and the heat it would come under as a result. But would that warrant taking out their own soldiers?

Further, the lack of coverage on Israeli soldier casualties can be explained partly by the fact that the Israeli public is very sensitive to news of that kind, the occurrence of which could all taste very sour for politicians in their scramble for votes in the upcoming elections. But does censoring soldier deaths really assist the enemy or harm the security of the State according to IMC directives? Very unlikely. Rather, publishing the truth on the number of casualties allows the Israeli public the opportunity to judge for themselves whether or not they want this war and future wars of this kind. Moreover, it is the right of the Israeli public to know fully the extent of their army's wars - the real motives of going to war, the 'nature' of their 'enemy', the financial cost, and very definitely the human cost - on both sides, Palestinian and Israeli.

However, the establishment is not giving their public this right. It is censoring the truth. And it achieves this with the media's complicity. This is so that the upper echelons of society, those with political and capital gain at stake, are the only recipients of truth, the broadcasters of untruths and convenient truths, and the decision makers and fate sealers for their people and those that they occupy.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Now is Time for the Rebirth of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Campaign

Now is a very opportune moment to join and support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign and support Palestinians who are a defenceless people on the receiving end of a belligerent force that has lost moral direction, and certainly too its political compass.

The BDS Campaign is a moral action to pressure Israel to comply with basic principles of justice and international law, including ending the occupation, facilitating the right of Palestinian refugees to return and ensuring equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Please, this is a call to all people of conscience, wherever you may be, to impose broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. This would be similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. This is also an invitation to conscientious Israelis to support this call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.

Haidar Eid, a professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza makes a very convincing plea in this interview given on January 19 of the urgency of the BDS campaign at this time.

For more on what you can do in the US see adalahny here, in the UK see BIG here, and more generally see the Global BDS Movement here.

The Israeli barcode starts with 729. Please, do your bit.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dimi Reider on Israeli Media Propaganda during Gaza War

Picking up on my previous post about Israel's cheerleader media, this article by Dimi Reider on the online journal, Index on Censorship is a great read. He talks about Keshev, the lack of coverage on the anti-war movement within Israel, and brain-jolting oxymorons by Tzipi Livni:
IDF statements are given as news items and the most extravagant quotes by the Israeli politicians are reported as they are. (The prize-holder for these is, undoubtedly, Tzipi Livni, with such profound statements as ‘a ceasefire would damage negotiations’ and ‘the war is necessary to promote peace.’)
See the full article here.

Photo taken from

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Israel and its Cheerleading Media

Israeli attacks brought the death toll in Gaza to over 1300 Palestinians and the number of injured to 5300 Palestinians.

This war seems to be overwhelmingly supported by Israelis, all the Jewish political parties, and as I wish to expound on in more detail, by the media in Israel as well.

The recommendations of the State-appointed Winograd Commission (see summary interim and final reports), setup post-Lebanon War 2006 to investigate the shortcomings of that war, included that there be more political-military coordination and a prohibition of leaks. The media, in keeping with the recommendations of the Winograd Commission, and contrary to its role as the fourth estate that is supposed to place the government and those in power in check, is functioning as an overenthusiastic pom-pom queen of the State.

Keshev - The Center for the Protection of Democracy in Israel that monitored the conduct of the Israeli media during the Gaza war has reported that the Israeli media in the first days of the war was "enthusiastic" and "self-righteous", with sparse criticism of military operations and reports on the deaths of Palestinian civilians buried in the newspaper. Arabs protesting the war and calling for an end to the killing were seen as disloyal and violent! See Keshev's December 2008 report here. However, Keshev writes that the media could be patted on the back for giving decent coverage, compared to coverage during the Lebanon war, to diplomatic options alongside military ones. See January 2009 report here.

Keshev's reporting focused on the early period of the war. So criticism of media coverage was very limited. They did not touch upon the issue that the very premise for going to war should have been challenged in the Israeli media - that this was indeed a war on Palestinians and their national liberation and not on the official pretexts offered by the State. Or that this was the single most brutal attack on Palestinians to date and should be a moral red-light for the State to ask itself where the hell it is headed. Or at the very least allow for adequate coverage of the deaths of civilians in Gaza, in keeping with the ethical codes of the media. These should have been the questions posed by the Israeli media on its front pages, not buried inside the newspaper, chiefly in opinion columns not considered 'real' news by most readers.

Of course, the attack on the media can be gauged by the State's approach to the media in general during this war - in the killing of five journalists; in targeting media stations in the Gaza Strip including Al-Aqsa Television, the al-Johar Tower housing 20 news organisations and the Ash-Shuruq Tower housing various news agencies including Reuters, NBC, Fox News, Sky News, Al-Arabiya and Abu Dhabi TV; in preventing foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip; through police attacks on Arab journalists operating within the Green Line; in the arrest and prosecution of Al-Alam TV's (Press TV) journalists for not informing the military censor before reporting live developments. See the International Federation of Journalists' (IFJ) press releases here (Jan 15), here (Jan 14) and here (Jan 12).

When the team clears the field, and the cheerleaders are left standing alone with exhausted pom-poms, it is sincerely hoped that they reflect on what exactly they have been cheering. Killing? Murder? Destruction? And for what ultimate good?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Arab Parties - Balad and United List - Banned From Participating in Israeli Elections

Today, the Central Elections Committee voted overwhelmingly in favour to ban the Arab parties, Balad and The Arab United List for Change, from participating in the upcoming Israeli elections on February 10 after accusing the Arab parties of incitement, supporting terror groups, and refusing to recognise Israel's right to exist. See arabs48's article here.

The Arab parties have been vocal, as always, against the targeting of civilians and the belligerent forces of war, especially during this current war on Gaza, and in response have held a number of demonstrations. Furthermore, they have been calling for a number of years now for a state of all its citizens (see two documents reflecting this call - 'Future Vision' and 'Democratic Constitution') - that is, not a state based on ethno-cultural or racist particularities, but a democratic state where every citizen enjoys equal rights and protections, currently which Israel is not as it constitutionally accords the state to Jews to the exlusion of 18% of its citizenry, Arab Palestinians. The Committee has concluded that such demonstrations and such calls for a state of all its citizens either challenge Israel's right to exist, support terror groups or equal incitement!

These elections have been marked by more racist calls for population transfer of the Arabs in Israel from parties such as Yisrael Beitenu and National Union, and even traditionally 'left'/'liberal' parties, like Meretz, are tending to the center-right.

Hassan Jabareen, head of the legal NGO Adalah noted that at no time in the 20th century was any political party banned from running under the platform 'a state for all its citizens' except for the ANC in apartheid South Africa in the 1960s.

In the previous elections, the Balad party - then led by Azmi Bishara, who is currently in exile because he would be tried for treason should he return to Israel; such is the extent of his political persecution - was banned from running in the elections by the committee. The Israeli High Court of Justice overturned that decision and allowed the party to stand. Both parties are expected to file a similar case before the court shortly.

I think now the mask truly has come off. The 'only democratic' state in the Middle East is showing the world its true colours. Dissent is absolutely forbidden. Political dissent will not even be allowed the platform to run in elections! Come one, come all - come see the facade that has fallen apart!

Update: On January 21 The Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Central Elections Committee, allowing both parties to participate in the elections. Victory for democracy? I'm not so sure. Why does a political party that calls for a state for all its citizens and democracy for all have to petition a court to participate in elections? Why does the Arab minority who account for 18% of the population have to be threatened with losing political representation? And why do these parties, who are supposed to be among the people, working with their electorate, spreading their message, have to deal with a court case a few weeks before the election?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Israel Deliberately Targeting Civilians to Ensure Quiet Occupation

Around 40 people were killed, overwhelmingly civilian, in an Israeli attack on the UNRWA-run Al-Fakhora school in Jabaliya, Gaza on January 6. See here. As of now, there have been 660 Palestinians killed and close to 3000 injured. The majority of casualties are civilians. Around 50% are civilian women and children. See here.

According to Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor currently in Gaza, he has only seen a single fighter treated at the hospital but has witnessed hundreds of civilians. See here and check out his statement on CBS below. To paraphrase Gilbert, "This is a war on the civilian population of Gaza, not Hamas".

In my opinion, the goal of the state was always to dispel Palestinians from Palestine, and for those that remained, to keep them an occupied, docile, chaotic, illiterate, subjugated mass devoid of emancipatory sentiments that take the form of a genuine liberation movement. See in general the work of Nur Masalha, Ilan Pappe.

And it has been mostly successful - in having the PLO essentially work together with them in designing policy and life (of a subjugated people) for Palestinians, in signing agreements with Egypt and Jordan to neutralise emancipatory threats from outside their borders, and in having most international governments agree to the designation of unliquidated Palestinian liberation movements as terrorist organisations.

Unfortunately for Israel, Hamas is not playing the same game. It could very well play the same game if weakened enough, but it seems a genuinely emancipatory liberation and resistance movement.

In my opinion, Israel is deliberately targeting civilians to drive popular sentiment in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere against Hamas. In other words, Israel is targeting civilians in the Gaza Strip to deflect and neutralise sentiment, support and action for a genuine liberation of Palestinians from subjugation and occupation.

Enough is enough! The international community needs to act immediately to stop the aggression and to push for the State of Israel's leaders - Barak, Olmert, Livni and others - to be tried for war crimes for the (deliberate or not) targeting of civilians; I maintain that such attacks are reflective of a historical trend towards Palestinian emancipation and are evidenced by numbers, making such civilian attacks seem a deliberate policy.

For more on the colonial manoeuvrings to crush genuine Palestinian liberation movements see
Azmi Bishara on al-Jazeera.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

150,000 Palestinians in Israel Demonstrate Against Israeli Assault on Gaza

On Saturday, January 3 around 150,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrated in Sakhnin in support of the people of Gaza and in opposition to the Israeli aggression, which Saturday moved forward with a ground operation. The demonstration was organised by the Higher Monitoring Committee and was probably the largest demonstration in the community's history. See more here.

The following are photos from the demonstration, courtesy of the online news website, alarab.

from Hamas say that 5 Israeli soldiers were killed and 29 injured as Israel began its ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Check out this website for immediate updates in Gaza from those in Gaza -

Friday, January 02, 2009

Hamas exposes Israeli campaign of deception of Israelis, Palestinians and the world

With 5 Israelis dead, and over 425 Palestinians dead, 8,500% more Palestinians than Israelis suffering casualties (not factoring in the injured), we ask what started it?

These are the Israeli government's assertions:
- The war is on Hamas and not on the Palestinian people.
- Hamas broke the ceasefire and so instigated the attacks a week after its 6-month conclusion.
- The rockets that Hamas fires legitimate the response currently being undertaken by the Israelis.

Looking at each of these assertions, we see that in targetting mosques, businesses, civil establishments, the police force, the university, a hospital, homes - Israel may be hitting at the political wing of Hamas, but they are certainly also attacking Palestinian civilians who utilise, live in, live off and depend on these institutions and facilities. Further, civilians being killed are unarmed non-combatants, thus making such attacks war crimes in international humanitarian law. Second, the Palestinian people voted Hamas into power in January 2006, making Hamas the legitimate political representative of the people; even if the assertion that only Hamas was being targetted, which is false as the evidence shows, this would still be an attack on the Palestinian people's democratic choice of a political representative, thereby making it an attack on Palestinians in general.

Second, Israel broke the 6-month long ceasefire when it killed six Palestinians in Gaza on November 13 and prior to that on November 5 when it blew up a tunnel and also killed around six Palestinians. See the BBC here and Press TV here. Therefore, there is absolutely no truth to the assertion that Hamas broke the ceasefire. Another condition of the ceasefire was the opening up of the border crossings to allow in aid, medical supplies, fuel and food into Gaza. This was another violation on the part of the Israeli government who repeatedly closed the border crossings. Also important to note is that 49 Palestinians were killed by the Israelis during the ceasefire; Israel did not suffer a single casualty.

Finally, there is absolutely no 'proportion', a buzz word among the human rights activists sitting in comfortable chairs in the UN, between "homemade projectiles that make more noise than damage" and the Israeli response of a seige on Gaza preventing electricity, food, medicines, fuel and other essentials from reaching 1.4 million Gazans, not to mention the humiliation, uncertainty of death, and the terror instilled in those on the receiving end of such a policy.

And then at 1130am on December 27, sixty Israeli war planes dropped a hundred bombs on Gaza city, killing close to three hundred Palestinians. And the operation continues.

Video of Palestinians in Israel demonstrating in Support of our Gaza Brothers and Sisters; And Glimpse of Police Response

Courtesy of alarz tv.

Please come out and show your support and participate in the march in Sakhnin tomorrow, Saturday, January 3 at 1pm.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Ali Zeidan from Kfar Manda brutally assaulted by Israeli police

Last night, on New Years eve, Israeli police and special forces launched an unprovoked and brutal assault on Palestinian youth from the Galilee village of Kfar Manda in Israel while they were on their way to visiting a friend in the hospital in Nazareth.

Ali Zeidan and his friends were on their way to visiting a friend in hospital in Nazareth, but as the road was blocked due to ongoing events, police presence and demonstrations in Nazareth, they got out of their car to survey the situation. Only a couple of minutes had passed when they were attacked brutally by a large contingent of Israeli police and special forces. They assert they had done nothing to provoke the attack. While some friends managed to get away, Ali Zeidan was not so lucky. Partially unconcious, he was later taken by ambulance to a hospital. He suffered a broken hand and suffered serious injury above his eye and on his head.

The following are photos showing the beatings he received:

I picked up on this story on the online news website, alarab. This site has shown itself to provide better coverage on goings-on in the Palestinian community during the Gaza assault than the other up-to-the-minute news website for Palestinians in Israel, .

All photos are courtesy of