Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Human shield war crimes of the 'moral' Israeli army

'Cases below are examples of customary Israeli practice in violation of international law.'

By Stephen Lendman – Chicago

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is a Gaza-based Palestinian NGO mandated "to promote, protect and prevent violations of human rights in general, and economic, social and cultural rights in particular, to provide effective aid to those victims of such violations, and to enhance the quality of life of the community in (Gaza's) marginalized sectors."

It monitors and documents violations, provides legal aid and advocacy, and helps Gazans on "fundamental issues such as basic human rights, democracy, and international humanitarian" matters. It also produces reports and publications on its work.

In April, it published a seven-case study update of its July 2008 report titled: "Hiding Behind Civilians - The Continued Use of Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields by the Israeli Occupation Forces." This article reviews both reports to highlight what international law unequivocally prohibits. Nonetheless, it's customary IDF practice even though Israel's Supreme Court banned it on October 6, 2005.

One Palestinian woman described her experience:

"They handcuffed and blindfolded me. Then, they forced us to move out of the room, pushing me with their hands and guns to move although I was blindfolded and pregnant. I heard them pushing others to hurry up as well. I got exhausted and fell down many times. I told them that I was four months pregnant and couldn't continue but a soldier threatened to shoot me."

Two case are highlighted in the article:

Number 1: 15-year-old child used as a human shield

After being used for that purpose, the child was detained in a hole in the ground with about 100 others for four days. He now suffers from serious mental health difficulties and refuses to speak to strangers. With help from his parents, Al Mezan got him to tell his story and presented excepts from it below. At home with his parents, he was terrified by days of conflict.

Case 2: Majdi al-Abed Ahmed Abed Rabbo, male, age 40

On January 5 at 9:30AM, he was at home when he heard a loud sound and someone say, "Open the door....I arrived at the door and opened it. I was surprised to see an (IDF) soldier hiding behind a man in his twenties and pointing a gun at me. He said in Arabic, 'Take off your pants.' I took" them off. He ordered him to strip naked, then get dressed. About "15 - 20 Israeli soldiers then entered the courtyard of my house....one grabbed my neck from behind and put his gun to the back of my head."

Thanks to the Palestine Chronicle - full article

Hamas and Hezbollah resistance forces western rethink


From post at: Organisation to Understand Radical Arab and Islamist Movements
[pictured: Samir Al-Kuntar, Lebanese prisoner freed after the 2006 Israeli aggression against Lebanon]

A new order emerges in Lebanon


By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times Online

DAMASCUS - Last week, one of America's top allies in
Lebanon, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, caused a row when he
made remarks - off the record - criticizing his allies in
the pro-Western March 14 Coalition. Among other things,
Jumblatt scoffed at his patron Saad al-Hariri, the head of
the largest bloc in the Lebanese parliament, for having
tried - and failed - to combat Hezbollah on the streets of
Beirut last May.

Then, Hariri's armed men were round up and disarmed in a
matter of minutes by the well-trained Hezbollah fighters.
"We have seen the Sunnis in the field, huh!" he said,
adding, "They didn't last for more than 15 minutes!”
Jumblatt quickly apologized - but the damage was already
done.

Shortly afterwards, when landing in Beirut, US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton did not meet the Druze warlord - who
had often played host to her predecessor Condoleezza Rice,
and been received previously at the Oval Office by George W
Bush.

Jumblatt is a symbol of a loud anti-Syrian and
anti-Hezbollah stance in Lebanon. The fact that he has lost
faith in his own allies - who have bankrolled him for years
- and was snubbed by Clinton, are testimony to how much
things have changed in Lebanon. This is the same man after
all who called for regime change in Damascus, and betted on
American and Israeli forces to disarm Hezbollah in 2006.

Jumblatt is a political animal, however, who knows how to
get off a ship before it sinks. The US is simply no longer
interested in battle, either with Damascus or with
Hezbollah. On the contrary, it is trying to find common
ground with the Syrians to solve a basket of problems in
the region, like Iran's nuclear file, Palestinian
reconciliation and the future of Hezbollah.

If March 14 continues to challenge Syria, it should not
except much support from the Barack Obama administration.
That is why, according to some observers, Jumblatt might be
toying with the idea of a u-turn - which from where the
Syrians see it, is close to impossible, given the
aggressive stance he took against Damascus during the
difficult years in Syrian-American relations.

Why would the US continue to support March 14 if it is
cooperating fully with the Syrians? March 14 was useful,
after all, during the war against Syria in 2005-2008
-mainly to punish the Syrians for having worked against US
interests in Iraq.

Jumblatt realizes that for all practical purposes, its only
a matter of time until the United States begins dialogue
with two arch-enemies of the former Bush White House -Hamas
in Palestine and Hezbollah. Delaying his own rapprochement
with Hezbollah would harm nobody but him.

During the recent Summit of the Americas, Obama said that
he would respect the "legitimacy" of all democratically
elected governments, even if the US "might not be happy"
with the results of any elections. He added that the US
“condemns any efforts at a violent overthrow of
democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in
the hemisphere”. Talks with Hamas have already begun in
Europe and it is only a matter of time until they are
expanded to include Hezbollah.

Earlier this year, Britain announced that it would commence
political dialogue with Hezbollah, much to the displeasure
of March 14. In early April, British parliamentarians came
to Damascus and met with Hamas political chief Khaled
Meshaal. Certain American political figures, like former
president Jimmy Carter, also met with the Hamas chief in
Syria last December.

According to a January 9 article in The Guardian, "sources
close to the [Obama] transition team" will change course
via Hamas, and "initiate low-level clandestine approaches".
For that to be done, not only would there be a need for a
change in US mentality - both in the media level, on the
street and in American officialdom - but it would also
require changing a 2006 Congressional law banning any kind
of assistance to the Islamic group.

Recently, however, Paul Volker, a senior economic advisor
to Obama, was among those who authored a letter calling for
a more rational approach to dealing with Hamas. Martin
Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel, who is close to
Clinton, recently wrote that any peace deal without Hamas
was destined to fail.

Additionally, former British prime minister Tony Blair in
his capacity as international envoy for the Middle East
warned of the dangers of continuing to ignore the Gaza
Strip, which effectively is under the command of Hamas. He
was quoted saying, "I think it is important to find a way
to engage Hamas in dialogue."

Richard Hass, a diplomat under both president George H W
Bush and George W Bush, who was earmarked to become Obama's
Middle East envoy, also supports low-level contacts with
Hamas. James A Baker, former secretary of state now based
at the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston, was
quoted in Newsweek as saying that Obama must involve Hamas
in any peace process in the Middle East. Baker said, "You
cannot negotiate peace with only half the Palestinian
polity at the table."

Richard W Murphy, a veteran American diplomat and former
ambassador to Syria, added, "I don't think it will happen
quickly but I think it is inevitable. Hamas is, in my
opinion, a legitimate representative of part of the
Palestinian community."

Taking all of that into account, many raised questions
about Clinton's weekend visit to Beirut ahead of
parliamentary elections in June, which are expected to
bring about a smashing victory for Hezbollah. Already,
France has said that it will not boycott any Lebanese
government, even if it is packed with members of the
Islamic group.

With loud voices coming out of Washington calling for
engagement with Hezbollah, Obama promising to respect any
election, Britain taking the lead in dialogue with
non-state players, and the Syrians back in the
international arena, times are not good for leftovers of
the Bush era in the Middle East.

Decision-makers around the world have reasoned that not
talking to Hezbollah or Hamas will not make them disappear.
On the contrary, it will only lead them to radicalize.

Looking back at the Hamas tenure in government, everybody
realizes that the Bush administration missed a golden
opportunity when the Palestinian group said that it was
willing to accept a long-term truce with Israel, and abide
by the borders of 1967. Israel couldn't get them to disarm
by force, clearly demonstrated by the results of the
December 2008 war on Gaza.

The United Nations couldn't disarm them, nor could
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat or the United States. The
same applies to Hezbollah, which emerged victorious from
the war of 2006. Obama, a practical leader by all accounts,
realizes that if these groups are voted into power, it
would be sheer hypocrisy not to deal with them and repeat
what was committed by Bush.

Walid Jumblatt - and anti-Hamas figures in Palestine like
President Mahmud Abbas - is among the first to fully grasp
this new attitude in Washington.

Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

Israel in draft dodger clampdown


Israeli police have arrested seven people who are suspected of operating websites to encourage Israeli youth not to join the military.

The seven, allegedly operated websites that posted materials against enlisting in the Israeli military, Haaretz reported.

They also provided advice for those interested in dodging Israel's mandatory military draft through training how one can pretend to be psychologically unfit to join Israel's mandatory military service.

"The main part of the investigation has focused on locating those persons who are operating the two websites where violations to article 109 of the criminal law, incitement for draft evasion, are being carried out," said Superintendent Nimrod Daniel, chief of investigations in the Yarkon District Police.

"It may be that these persons have explanations, but according to the law this is a criminal violation that is punishable by five years imprisonment," he added.

Thanks to Press TV

Cardiff May Day protest against police violence

• End Police Violence
• Defend the Right to Protest
• Disband the Riot Squads
• Justice for Ian Tomlinson

There is a May Day protest on Friday 1st May at 6 pm outside Cardiff Central Police Station, Edward VII Avenue (Behind City Hall) called by Cardiff Stop the War Coalition & supported by several other social justice organisations.

With attacks on civil liberties, repeated attacks on the right to protest and harassment of campaigning organisations it is a v.important protest, unless you think it is okay to be beaten up by a policeman or have your house raided because you have a strong opinion on Gaza, climate chaos or the credit crunch.

"But something else has changed in this country: the resolution of the protesters. Despite repeated assaults, they appear to become better organised and less afraid. That, so soon after Operation Glencoe, 114 people were prepared to risk arrest and another beating testifies to the resilience of this movement. These people know that protest is not a threat to democracy but its cornerstone. They know that the issues they contest outweigh any harm they may suffer. They know that getting beaten up is a sign that state has lost the argument." - George Monbiot

Love & Rage,
Cardiff Students Against the War

Facebook

Killing of non-violent protester Bassem Abu Rahme

Great Op-Ed piece in the Seattle Times from an ISM founder

The United States continues to supply Israel with approximately $3 billion in military aid annually, which allows Israel to continue abusing Palestinians and preventing any meaningful resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, writes guest columnist Huwaida Arraf.

We Palestinians are often asked where the Palestinian Gandhi is and urged to adopt nonviolent methods in our struggle for freedom from Israeli military rule. On April 17, an Israeli soldier killed my good friend Bassem Abu Rahme at a nonviolent demonstration against Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land. Bassem was one of many Palestinian Gandhis...

...Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed recently, "Believe me, America accepts all our decisions." I do not believe, however, that the United States condones the killing of my friend Bassem. But if President Obama is serious about true peace in the Middle East, he must demonstrate that Lieberman is wrong, break the American silence, and heed the voices of those calling for justice.

Huwaida Arraf, J.D., specializes in international human rights and humanitarian law. In 2001 she co-founded the International Solidarity Movement.




Demonstration by village of Bil'in Friday April 17th 2009, Bassem Ibrahim abu-Rakhma ('Phil") mortally wounded

Join Freedom Summer 2009 in Palestine



Freedom Summer 2009: Defend the Land and Jerusalem

Whether you can come for only a few weeks or several months, your presence is needed to support Palestinian communities who are nonviolently resisting the Israeli occupation. Freedom Summer 2009, which will run from June 6th until August 15th, aims to challenge the continued theft of Palestinian land for the rapid expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and their infrastructure in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Volunteer training sessions will be held every week on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Visit our “Join Us in Palestine” section to read more information about volunteering.

Ian Tomlinson funeral today - lobby MPA tomorrow - defend right to protest

Ian Tomlinson's family will be holding his funeral today. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

The third post mortem, ordered on behalf of the policeman that attacked Ian, has been carried out but the result has not been released as yet.

Tomorrow campaigners will be lobbying, or should that be kettling, the Metropolitan Police Authority at City Hall.

Called by UCAPV
Assemble 9:00am, Thursday 30 April
Outside City Hall (http://www.london.gov.uk/gla/locationmap.jsp)

See message below from Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly:
Jenny Jones, Green representative on the MPA will be addressing the lobby prior to the MPA meeting this Thursday and would like to update all those concerned about the policing of the G20 protests on April 1st and those who have written to her. A call to write to members of the MPA then follows. Please use this opportunity to impress upon all members of the MPA the importance of our campaign ahead of the meeting and as they convene it.

JENNY JONES: "I'm writing to bring you up to date with the actions which I am taking to ensure that the police are both brought to account for their past actions and more professional in handling future protests.

"I've written two letters to the Commissioner outlining key questions about the G20 protests. I've also written to the London Mayor making practical suggestions about changing public order policing in the short term.

"Along with Dee Doocey, I have put forward the following motion [below] to the next public meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority, 10am on 30th April at City Hall. This motion falls short of the full public inquiry which some of you have called for, and falls short of my own aims, but I'm keen for the MPA to pass something which takes the debate forward and developing that consensus is going to be quite challenging.

"Don’t forget that I am only one member of the MPA and there are lots of other members who would love to hear your views. The London Mayor chairs the MPA, then there are 11 elected politicians, who are members of the London Assembly and 11 independent members whose appointment is approved by the London mayor.
Contact details below are taken from the MPA website: http://www.mpa.gov.uk/about/people/members/

"Thanks again for taking the time and trouble to write in. Let's hope for an end to repressive policing here in London."

Jenny Jones
Members Services
Metropolitan Police Authority

MOTION TO MPA: “This Authority recognises that the job of policing the G20 demonstrations on 1st April was difficult but believes that the strategy and tactics adopted by the Metropolitan Police were fundamentally wrong. This Authority notes that the Commissioner has asked HMIC to review public order policing, and that the IPCC are investigating a number of specific complaints. In order to begin the process of restoring public confidence the HMIC review must take evidence in a public forum from all concerned, including protesters, and closely examine other recent protests to consider the growing concern that police tactics have become more aggressive in recent years. The HMIC review should make recommendations that would form the basis of long-term policies on the policing of protest in recognition of the following principles:

1. Demonstrations and other peaceful forms of protest are a fundamental democratic right, which all public bodies are under a duty to facilitate and protect.
2. Policing of demonstrations must always be proportionate, and must discriminate between the need to facilitate peaceful protest and prevent criminal acts committed by a minority.
3. The police must use aggressive tactics such as kettling’, baton charges, and attacks with dogs only when they are absolutely necessary and proportionate. The seizure of personal property from demonstrators is not acceptable. The use of aggressive or intimidatory tactics against peaceful protesters is provocative, inappropriate, and counter-productive, since it increases the tension and likelihood of violence.
4. Any officers not clearly identifying themselves by wearing an identification number are committing a disciplinary offence.
5. The police must exercise due care and attention when making statements to the media since predictions of violence can be self-fulfilling. The police must never exaggerate the likelihood of violence, nor should they dissemble the facts after a demonstration has occurred.
6. The police must consider Britain’s reputation abroad and not commit acts that set a poor example and thus undermine our country’s efforts to promote human rights.
If these principles are not fully incorporated into the HMIC review and any recommendations that arise from it, then this Authority will re-examine what further steps need to be taken, including the possibility of instigating a further review.”

DETAILS OF MEMBERS OF THE MPA

Please write to membersservices@mpa.gov.uk and include the Member's name in the subject header. See http://www.mpa.gov.uk/about/people/members/ if member links not live below.

Chair
Boris Johnson Mayor of London (London Assembly)
Vice Chairman
Kit Malthouse Deputy Mayor for Policing and Conservative Member of London Assembly
London Assembly members
Jennette Arnold – Labour constituency Assembly Member for Waltham Forest, Hackney and Islington
Victoria Borwick - Conservative Londonwide Assembly Member
James Cleverly - Conservative constituency Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley
Dee Doocey - Liberal Democrat Londonwide Assembly Member
John Biggs – Labour constituency Assembly Member for Barking and Dagenham, City of London, Newham, Tower Hamlets
Jenny Jones – Green Party Londonwide Assembly Member
Joanne McCartney – Labour constituency Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey
Stephen O'Connell – Conservative constituency Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton
Caroline Pidgeon - Liberal Democrat Londonwide Assembly Member
Richard Tracey – Conservative constituency Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth
Independent members
Reshard Auladin
Faith Boardman
Christopher Boothman
Valerie Brasse
Cindy Butts
Toby Harris
Kirsten Hearn
Neil Johnson
Clive Lawton
Deborah Regal
Graham Speed

Boycott Africa-Israel setttlement building company

The UK Foreign Office will no longer rent from Lev Leviev. Now other states must also boycott this builder of illegal settlements

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office must be commended for its decision to cancel renting premises for the UK embassy in Tel Aviv from the company Africa-Israel, owned by Israeli businessman and settlement builder Lev Leviev. This is an encouraging step that should now be backed by stronger sanctions against the building of the separation wall and the building of illegal settlements by Israel. Furthermore, the governments of Norway and Dubai should emulate the example set by the UK and sever their relationships with Leviev's companies.

From the Guardian

Justice for Tristan Anderson


A website has been set up for Tristan Anderson. You can done to help with medical expenses here
Tristan Anderson, 38, an American citizen, was critically injured on Friday [13 March 2009] by Israeli troops during protests against Israel’s Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. He was hit in his forehead by a new type of high velocity, extended range teargas projectile, and has been transferred to Tel Hashomer hospital, near Tel Aviv. Tristan is unconscious, anesthetized and artificially respirated, has sustained life-threatening injuries to his brain (as well as to his right eye), and is expected to undergo several operations in the coming days, in addition to the one he underwent today.

The impact of the projectile caused numerous condensed fractures to Anderson’s forehead and right eye socket. During the operation, part of his right frontal lobe had to be removed, as it was penetrated by bone fragments. A brain fluid leakage was sealed using a tendon from his thigh, and both his right eye and skin suffered extensive damage. The long term scope of all of Tristan’s injuries is yet unknown. It should also be noted that soldiers at the Ni’ilin checkpoint prevented the Red Crescent ambulance from taking Tristan directly to the hospital, forcing it to wait for approximately 15 minutes until an Israeli ICU ambulance (called by Israeli activists) arrived at the scene, after which he had to be carried from one ambulance to the other. This, of course, is standard procedure - in the extremely rare cases where the army allows patients from the occupied territories to be tranferred into Israel.

Tristan was hit while standing with a fellow protester inside the village, several hours after the army initially attacked a protest march of Ni’ilin’s residents (joined by Israeli and international activists) who attempted to march onto their own lands in the vicinity of the wall. As opposed to previous demonstrations, this week protesters managed to actually reach the road on which the wall is currently being built, and even caused damage to parts of the razor-wire protecting the site, as well as to the newly erected fence segments of the barrier. Israeli troops dispersed demonstrators by using large amounts of teargas and rubber coated steel bullets, driving everyone back into the village. Soldiers then followed the crowd and proceeded to shoot concussion grenades, teargas canisters, rubber coated steel bullets and even live ammunition into the village, to which many of Ni’ilin’s youth responded with slingshots, trying to drive the army away from the outskirts of the village.

Anderson’s injury is part of a recent escalation in the army’s violent attempts to suppress Palestinian unarmed popular resistance to the occupation. Israeli troops have been using the new teargas canister since December 2008, coinciding with the beginning of Israel’s ruthless assault on Gaza. The black canister, labelled “40mm bullet, special/extended range” in Hebrew, has a range of over 400 meters, emits a very faint sound when fired and leaves hardly any smoke tail at all – making it extremely difficult to avoid. Furthermore, and against the army’s own regulations, soldiers routinely shoot it directly towards demonstrators, as opposed to in an arched trajectory. The combination of all these factors has led to numerous severe injuries from the projectiles, including a fractured skull and a broken leg suffered by Palestinians earlier this year.

In addition, Israel has resumed its use of sniper-fire, shot from a suppressed Ruger 10/22 rifle, as a means of crowd dispersal. This was forbidden by the army itself already in late 2001, after the Judge Advocate General at the time reclassified the Ruger as “live ammunition” for all intents and purposes, following numerous deaths of demonstrators as well as tests carried out in military shooting ranges.

During the Friday clashes in Ni’ilin, two other Palestinians and one international were lightly injured after being hit by teargas canisters, while a third Palestinian was shot in his leg with live ammunition by a sniper, and was evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah.

Illegal settlement taking root south of Jerusalem part of Israel encirclement plan


OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation authority is embarking on establishing a new Jewish neighborhood in the Palestinian area of Arab Al-Sawahreh, south of occupied Jerusalem, adding that Jewish religious nationalists will live in this area.

The work on establishing this new neighborhood started about two months ago, and the area is surrounded by Palestinian homes from the north, south and west, while the eastern side has the main road, and only route, leading to the settlement.

The building of this neighborhood was ratified by the Israel in 2000 when Ehud Olmert was still the mayor of occupied Jerusalem and encouraging the settlement activities inside the Palestinian neighborhoods.

British circus entertainers going to Gaza for two months

A British group specialized in entertainment and circus shows declared its intention to go along with the "Hope" convoy to the Gaza Strip to give psychosocial and recreational support for Gaza children who sustained a severe psychological trauma as a result of the brutal Israeli war.

In a statement received by the PIC, Sameh Habib, the spokesman for the convoy, said Monday that the convoy will be accompanied by a group of seven entertainers and a number of European people with special needs, pointing out that Ruth Jamz, a member of the group, will drive a circus truck loaded with toys and other means to develop the capacity of disabled children in Gaza.

Habib added that the British circus will stay in Gaza for about two months, where it will be traveling around the Strip to hold a series of recreational shows for children.

The "Hope" convoy will include also more than 10 fully-equipped ambulances and trucks laden with medical equipment and supplies especially appliances and aids for handicapped children.

Thanks to Palestinian Information Center

Sixth Fatah conference preparations hit by splits, Egypt and Jordan turn down hosting

AMMAN, (PIC)-- Fatah sources ruled out holding the sixth conference of Fatah in the near future, attributing this to the altercations that erupted between members of the preparatory committee on the mechanisms and the location of the conference.

The sources said, in a statement published Wednesday in the Saudi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, that these disputes became heated after members of the preparatory committee of the sixth Fatah conference Hakam Balawi and Nasser Yousef traded insults over the increase of the conference membership.

According to the sources, Yousef strongly refused the proposal of increasing the conference membership and insisted the committee reduce the number of members from 2,900 members to about 1,500.

The sources added that Fatah members inside the 1948 occupied land rejected this reduction and tried to raise the number of members.

They noted that Fatah conference members are also wrangling over the place for holding the conference after Jordan and Egypt refused ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas's request to hold the sixth Fatah conference in their countries.