Monday, 23 March 2009

Sheffield Uni occupation defies lockdown, rally on wednesday

The lockdown initiated at the beginning of the weekend by management against the occupiers at Sheffield University has not been lifted.

The students are now being denied freedom of access and the management is refusing to negotiate with the Gaza protesters directly.

It is not clear what status the occupiers have at pending negotiations between the university and the students union. The occupiers were told last week that they would be able to send a delegation to any meeting.

To spread the word on campus on Wednesday a rally is planned for 3pm, followed by speakers from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice, and others.

More details at the Sheffield Uni occupation blog

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IAF boasts that 81% 0f bombs were 'smart'

So if the Israeli Air Force had used dumb bombs we could have expected many more thousands of dead people. The people of Gaza thank you for your consideration when carrying out war crimes.
Eighty-one percent of bombs deployed by the Air Force (IAF) during Operation Cast Lead were 'smart bombs', a senior IAF official said Sunday during a roundup of the force's operations during the Gaza offensive. more at ynetnews

US set to depose their dictator Karzai of Kabul?

We commented last week on the strange sight of Hamid Karzai, the western puppet in Kabul, complaining about foreign interference in his country as he stood next to the general secretary of NATO.

It turns out the foreign influence Karzai was talking about was that of the US, not the usual suspect Pakistan. This morning's news that the US is to appoint a prime minister to circumvent Karzai should only be a surprise to those that fell for the stuff about building democracy in Afghanistan. Nevertheless it is a surprise that such fissures in the 'coalition' busted out into the open from behind closed doors. Maybe Karzai has done his pleading in private already and now sees the writing on the wall for his grubby little money-spinner otherwise known as governing Afghanistan. The US has lost patience with its dictator.

The US knows Karzai has no real power in the country other than that exercised by the warlords he has brought into his orbit. A puppet with no power is no good for the US. It's all dressed up in noble chatter about fighting the Karzai regime's corruption but don't let that fool you. The US had had it with Karzai because he has not delivered the head of Osma Bin-Laden or quelled the Taliban. Which is rather harsh given that the US hasn't achieved much in those spheres either.

As we argued at the weekend Obama's speech on Iran was more to do with clearing the way for a dramatic shift in the intensity of the Afghanistan/Pakistan war. This is another move on that chess board.

Starving Gaza the Mubarak way

A chicken in Gaza now costs 35 shekels - or 9 US dollars. The only meat the poor have been able to buy for some time has been chicken, with the prices of beef and lamb way beyond their reach. But since the war the prices of chickens have skyrocked further as a direct result of the Israelis destroying three of the 12 hatcheries on the strip, and partially destroying two others.

So Gazans will be enraged by the news that some 560 sheep being brought into Gaza through the Rafah tunnels were turned back by Egypt. The sheep are now being auctioned in Egypt while shortages and malnutrition spread

World clamour grows to indict Israel for war crimes in Gaza

As they say: the truth will out. Gaza Solidarity salutes those IDF soldiers who have managed to maintain their humanity and spoken out against the barbarism that was 'Operation Cast Lead'. In Sabra and Shatilla they directed the Phalange into the Palestinian refugee camps to do the slaughtering. This time the IDF did it itself, and for some it was too much to take, although for others it seems to have been an task to be commemorated with vile T-shirts.

There seems to have been a step change in the way this war was conducted, and everything Palestinians were saying about the war crimes being committed by the IDF, and doubted by some in the west, were true.

We know about the weapons they used illegally and we have seen the detritus of vandalism and wanton destruction they left behind. We know from the massive number of civilian casualties that they must have shown no regard to differentiating between civilians and fighters.

But now we are learning from the horses mouth on the ground, so to speak, that they deliberately shot and killed dozens of medics, they deliberately targeted Mosques for no military purpose other than spreading terror among the civilian population. In short, the IDF soldiers shot and killed anyone they came across regardless of whether they were woman or children or unarmed men, often using them as human shields.

And this wasn't the work of mavericks but of soldiers carrying out orders. The IDF is currently refusing to tell the world what its rules of engagement were. Suffice to say they didn't have any other than shoot on sight. Before they at least made a pretence of minimising civilian casualties, not so in this war.

Nothing has brought out the systematic de-humanising encouraged by the officers and military rabbinate, than the truly revolting T-Shirts being snapped up by Cast Lead veterans. They bring to the mind the stories related in Martin Gilbert's brilliant but harrowing book on the history of the holocaust, when drunken Nazis and their eastern anti-semite collaborators took pleasure in smashing the heads of babies against the walls of one Ukrainian (I think) town. It's like an acrid smell that you can't get rid of. That 2 for 1 T-shirt image 'celebrating' the killing of a pregnant Palestinian woman is in the same league. Perhaps its the IDF version of post-traumatic stress therapy.

Now, hopefully, the Israeli state will start to pay the diplomatic and political price for its state terrorism.

The fight for Palestinian liberation needs to exploit the growing isolation of Israel to break the siege of Gaza, bring a halt to the demolition in East Jerusalem and smash the apartheid wall on the West Bank, and continue to move forward with boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

A round-up of the racist t-shirts (Thanks to Philip Weiss)
  • A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him.
  • A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills."
  • After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh
  • A "graduation" shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, "No matter how it begins, we'll put an end to it."
  • There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!"
  • A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as "confirming the kill" (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim's head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.
  • "Let every Arab mother know that her son's fate is in my hands!" had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit's shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.
  • 468blau2 "It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town," he explains. "The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him."
  • In 2006, soldiers from the "Carmon Team" course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, "You've got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it's all over." Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: "And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry." [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.]
  • Another sniper's shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, "Everything is with the best of intentions."
  • A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: "If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!"

Thanks to Philip Weiss for T-shirt round-up

From the Washington Post
By Howard Schneider - Jerusalem - Updated: Saturday, March 21, 2009
-- A soldier involved in Israel's recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip said in published reports Friday that the military's rabbinical staff distributed material characterizing the operation as a religious mission to "get rid of the gentiles who disturb us from conquering the holy land."...

..."The military rabbinate brought many magazines and articles with a very clear message: 'We are the Jewish people, a miracle brought us to the land of Israel, God returned us to the land, and now we have to struggle so as to get rid of the gentiles who disturb us from conquering the holy land.' All the feeling throughout all this operation of many of the soldiers was of a war of religions," he said. "As a commander, I tried to explain that the war is not a war of Kiddush Hashem [the sanctification of God's name, including through martyrdom] but over the stopping of the launching of the Qassam rockets."

UN to report today on Israel's war crimes

The world waits for initial UN report from Richard Falk on Israel war crimes - BBC
The UN investigator into human rights in the Palestinian territories is set to present his latest report to the UN human rights council in Geneva.

It is the first such report since Israel's incursion into Gaza.

Richard Falk has been highly critical of Israel in the past, and his new report is no exception.

In it he questions the legality of Israel's actions in Gaza. Israel, however, has repeated accusations that that Mr Falk is biased.

Israeli authorities denied him entry last December, when he attempted to conduct his regular investigative mission to the Palestinian territories.

Holy war zionists taking over Israeli armed forces

By Jonathan Cook, The Palestine Chroncile
Extremist rabbis and their followers, bent on waging holy war against the Palestinians, are taking over the Israeli army by stealth, according to critics.
“We have reached the point where a critical mass of religious soldiers is trying to negotiate with the army about how and for what purpose military force is employed on the battlefield,” said Yigal Levy, a political sociologist at the Open University who has written several books on the Israeli army.

The greater role of extremist religious groups in the army came to light last week when it emerged that the army rabbinate had handed out a booklet to soldiers preparing for the recent 22-day Gaza offensive.

Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, said the material contained messages “bordering on racist incitement against the Palestinian people” and might have encouraged soldiers to ignore international law.

The booklet quotes extensively from Shlomo Aviner, a far-right rabbi who heads a religious seminary in the Muslim quarter of East Jerusalem. He compares the Palestinians to the Philistines, the Biblical enemy of the Jews.

He advises: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers … This is a war on murderers.” He also cites a Biblical ban on “surrendering a single millimetre” of Greater Israel.

311th palestinian patient dies because of siege

The victims of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip rose to 311 Palestinians after three patients died in Gaza on Sunday due to inability to travel abroad for treatment of chronic diseases.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said in a statement that two of the deceased suffered heart ailments and could not receive proper treatment in the Strip because of the poor health facilities, which were worsened by the oppressive siege that prevented entry of appropriate medication, medical equipment and medical personnel.

Thanks to Palestine Information Center

Cast Lead 2: 'Conquer part of Gaza'

Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai calls for another war on Gaza. Israel may attempt a partial re-occupation of parts of the strip:
"We need to conquer the areas from which mortar shells are being fired," Vilnai said at a conference held by the Institute for National Security Studies regarding lessons learned from Operation Cast Lead's in the field of civil defense

From ynetnews