Monday, 21 September 2009

Nil'in protesters pull down apartheid wall section

March to freedom – Ni’lin village takes down the Wall
Latest News, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, September 19th, 2009

After the people had concluded their Friday prayer in the fields near the village, more than 100 farmers, youth, international and Israeli peace activists marched towards the Apartheid Wall and their confiscated lands. Participants brought car tires and a big home made ladder to climb the high wall.

Right at the beginning of the protest, the youth had prepared a surprise for the Occupation forces: by using home made equipment one of the youth climbed the concrete wall and tied a chain at the holes in the upper part of the Wall’s cement components. Pulling this rope, the people managed to take down three concrete blocks of the Wall. This is the first time something like this has happened, and the people were happy to have such a success. This was the first message: one day the wall will fall and Ni’lin will be the start.


International Criminal Court considers war crime charges against IDF officer

Hot on the heels of the Goldstone report, which recommends the ICC take a look at Israel's crimes in Gaza, the court's chief prosecutor has taken up the challenge by considering the case of one IDF officer, Lt Col Benjamin.

Israel has not signed up to the ICC but South Africa, of which Benjamin is also a citizen, has.

Unfortunately, the US is likely to pressure the court not to go ahead with a prosecution given the implications for all the officers and soldiers of the Israeli armed forces. As it is IDF personnel likely won't be taking many foreign holidays as they may be seen as wanted criminals in many jurisdictions.
As chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo has so far steered clear of controversial cases. In doing so, he hoped to allay U.S. fears that the ICC would become a politicized tool for settling scores. Which is why it's so surprising that Moreno-Ocampo is now considering an investigation into whether Reserve Lt. Col. David Benjamin, an officer in the Israeli military, authorized war crimes during the Gaza campaign earlier this year. Israel did not sign the treaty that created the ICC and thus is outside Moreno-Ocampo's jurisdiction, but thanks to a bit of legal sleight of hand, the prosecutor told Newsweek he believes he has all the authority he needs to launch an inquiry: Benjamin holds dual citizenship in both Israel and South Africa, and the latter has signed the ICC's charter, bringing Benjamin into the court's orbit.


Brzezinski warns US may shoot down Israeli jet fighters heading for Iran nuclear sites

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US national security adviser, has suggested that the US might shoot down Israeli fighters crossing 'our' airspace to attack Iranian nuclear sites - he was referring to Iraq's airspace of course. It is difficult to envisage such a scenario given that Israel is the US's watchdog in the Middle East, kept armed to the teeth precisely in order to do this sort of dirty work for the Americans.

This news comes after the announcement of joint Israel/US military exercises in the Mediterranean aimed at countering imagined missile strikes on Israel.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, said on Sunday that U.S. forces should forcibly prevent the Israel Air Force from reaching Iran to strike its nuclear facilities.

In an interview with news Web site the Daily Beast, Brzezinski said that the U.S. forces were "not exactly impotent little babies," saying that Israel forces have "to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?"

When asked what should the United States do in case Israeli jets fly over Iraq anyway, the former national security advisor said the United States would "have to be serious about denying them that right."

"That means a denial where you aren't just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them," Brzezinski said, adding that Israeli fighters would then "have the choice of turning back or not."

Brzezinski added that "No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse," referring to the IDF attack on the U.S.S. Liberty during the Six Day War, which Israel claims was a case of mistaken identity.


IDF chief Ashkenazi tries to justify Israel's Gaza war crimes as its isolation grows

Israel is whingeing again about UN 'bias' but no one is listening anymore.
The Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, said on Monday that a damning United Nations report on Israel's winter offense against Hamas in Gaza was "biased," and that the IDF was a moral army.

"I read the report, it is biased and unbalanced," Ashkenazi told Army Radio, in his first public response to the report.

Referring to Richard Goldston, the South African prosecutor who wrote the report, the IDF chief said: "From his mandate, he was already unbalanced. He ignored Hamas [rocket] fire. As the one who planned the operation, I say that we have a moral army; we did everything we could to lessen the harm to noncombatants."

Though the 547-page document, which was released on Thursday, accuses both Israel and Hamas of carrying out war crimes during the three-week campaign in Gaza, it focuses primarily on Israel's actions during the hostilities.

more at the supposedly 'left-wing' Haaretz
Writing in the Financial Times Roula Khalaf points out that it is the sheer impunity that Israel's crimes are received with by the so-called 'international community' that will encourage Israel to carry out yet more crimes against the Palestinians.
The bias argument might have worked in the past and helped dismiss a whole slew of other reports - most of them reaching very much the same conclusions as the UN council. But it will prove a little harder to discredit a panel headed by Richard Goldstone, a friend of Israel, who is a former South African judge. "One report is biased, two reports are biased, but not everyone can be biased," says a human rights activist who investigated Gaza violations.

The most threatening recommendations of the report - that the UN Security Council should refer the findings to the International Criminal Court at the Hague if Israel and Hamas fail to carry out credible investigations - will probably never be implemented.

Washington has pledged a more even-handed treatment of the Middle East conflict and shown a desire to be better understood in the Muslim world. But, at the end of last week, the concerns the US expressed about the report suggested that it would probably block it from reaching the ICC.

This rescue, however, does not make the report any less devastating, morally and politically.

Israelis are usually dismissive of the outside world, seeing it as generally unfriendly and incapable of understanding the trauma of living next to an enemy like Hamas. But it would be wrong to assume they care little about their country's steadily deteriorating international image.

Israel's foreign ministry has mounted a diplomatic offensive against the UN report and it appears concerned about the legal implications in European countries that pursue complaints by individuals or judges against people suspected of war crimes. Officers who were involved in the Gaza war might think twice before travelling to some capitals.

Most important, at a time when Israel and the Palestinians are supposed to be working on reviving peace talks, a failure thoroughly and genuinely to investigate the tragedy in Gaza perpetuates a culture of impunity and promises more bloodshed.

Atomic Energy Agency attacks Israel over secret nuke programme

The general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has passed a resolution condemning Israel over its secretive nuclear weapons programme for the first time since 1991.

The IAEA called on Tel Aviv to accede to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to put its entire nuclear programme under IAEA inspections.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is not a signatory to the NPT and therefore accepts only limited IAEA inspections.


Mashaal thanks Sudan for solidarity efforts

An old story but worthy of comment is Khaled Mashaal's recent statement in Sudan that the resistance forces are still able to get weapons into Gaza, despite the blockade.

Israel earlier this year launched an air strike in Sudan against what it claimed was a weapons convoy en route to Gaza through Egypt.

Jerusalem – Hamas political chief Khalid Mash'al said on Wednesday that Palestinians in Gaza are able to buy, smuggle and manufacture weapons in spite of Israel's severe restrictions on the imports of any potential lethal substance into Gaza, ever since the Hamas' takeover of the Gaza regime in June 2007. This was confirmed by the Palestinian news agency, Ma'an.

"You did miracles in Sudan and thank God, your brothers in Palestine, despite the siege, closure, harassment, the large conspiracy and fleets of the East and West, which prevent us from bringing weapons, we were able to buy, manufacture and smuggle weapons, thank God," said Mash'al, Addressing the General Conference of the youth wing of the ruling National Congress Party in Khartoum, Sudan.

According the Ma'an, "Palestinian fighters in Gaza are also known to make homemade rockets from metal pipes, fertilizer and other common materials", adding that "Smugglers, maintain an elaborate network of tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, using them to import a wide range of goods, including food, fuel, cigarettes, toys, and anything else made scarce by the siege. Israel also says the tunnels are used to import weapons."

from The Bulletin (Philadelphia)

Art for Gaza to be projected at Tate Modern

Former ITN reporter Sam Hall's painting marking the Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza in 2008/9 is to be the subject of projection near the Tate Modern art gallery, the most popular modern art gallery in the world.

Speaking about the forthcoming projection Sam commented: "When statesmen and dignitaries visit Israel, they are often taken to the Holocaust Museum, which is right because we should not forget that.

"But by the same token, nor should we forget what happened in the Gaza Strip," said Mr Hall."

More at Sam's website:

No Shalit release until Palestinians freed say Gaza protesters

GAZA (PIC) Hundreds of Palestinian citizens participated in a protest organized by the popular committee against the siege on the Palestinian side of Al-Shujaiya (Nahal Oz) crossing, east of Gaza city, to demand the release of Palestinian prisoners and the opening of crossings.

The Palestinian protest (17/9/09) coincided with another one organised by Israelis on their side of the crossing to call for tighter blockade on Gaza and the release of Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

Spokesman for the popular committee Ali Al-Nazli said, addressing the Israeli protesters, that their demonstrations would not solve the problem and would not get Shalit released, calling on them to pressure their government to abandon its intransigent attitude in this regard.

Spokesman Nazli called on the international community to save the situation in Gaza and renounce its timid attitudes through imposing sanctions on Israel for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

The spokesman also stressed that the issue of reconstruction is humanitarian and related to the civil rights of the Palestinian people and should not be linked to other political issues.

Hamas and PFLP fighters killed by Israel at border

Al-Jazzera reports on the death of two resistance fighters yesterday. According to the Israelis they were planting IEDs. Hamas and the PFLP have confirmed that their fighters were involved. Interesting to see this level of co-operation between the secular and religious wings of the resistance movement.
Two Palestinian fighters have been killed after the Israeli military fired tank shells and mortars near the Gaza border.

The Israeli army said that the two men were planting explosive devices along the fence which separates the territory from Israel on Sunday.

"The two men, both in their early twenties, Abed al-haft Chalil al-Silawai and Machmud Achmed Muhammed Nazir, are known for recently planting explosive devices along the Gaza security fence and are responsible for firing mortar shells into Israeli territory," it said in a statement.

It also said that they fired three rockets into Israeli territory on August 24 and injured a soldier.

The military wing of Hamas said that 21-year-old al-Silawai was one of their fighters, while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) identified the 21-year-old Nazir as a member of their group.