Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

Ninotchka Rosca: Gazing On Gaza

February 3, 2009

The pale moon ruled over my last three nights in Hawaii, laying a magical veneer over an already perfect landscape. As I watched it from the 25th floor lanai (balcony), I wondered if it was refusing to shine over Gaza, so as not to witness a continuing inhumanity of human beings upon human beings.

Years ago, I used to wonder how Israel could do what it was doing to the Palestinians, or even to ally itself with the apartheid government of White South Africa – but since then, I’ve seen the abused take on the persona of the abuser – prisoners doing the guards’ work, women maligning other women – all to align themselves with brute authority. Underlying the repetitive cycle of violence is survival at all costs – and Israel has bluntly used and overused this to justify the most extreme measures taken against a people whose land and patrimony it expropriated in successive acts of violence.

The siege of Gaza underscores the senselessness of what has gone on with the Palestinians: the assault began for no reason, continues with no clear far-reaching objective and ends without any goal reached. Population control, perhaps?

For the last 50 years, Israel has gotten away with this by stoking the guilt feelings of the West by elevating victimhood as the hallmark of its history. The Germans, if for nothing else, owe the Palestinians a great debt of gratitude for having taken their place as villains in Israel’s self-image as victim and for enduring collective punishment for a Holocaust they did not commit.

Deeper still, behind all these surface relationships, lies the Bush administration’s determination to leave as much of a mess as possible for the new political leadership. Make no mistake about it: this was Bush’s last war. Israel would not have embarked on this silly adventure without a go-signal from the US government. It was a last flip of the finger to the people of the US – to the millions who marched against the invasion of Iraq and those who now march against the siege of Gaza.

There are those who leave an office or a residence neat and clean, ready for the next occupant; there are those who improve on what they find and leave behind potential for even greater achievement; and there are those who make sure that they’ve thoroughly messed up the terrain so that it would be impossible to accomplish, much less change, anything. Legacies are determined not simply by accomplishment but what doors have been opened, what new pathways have been created, what possibilities have been made clear… Bush’s legacy is a complicated political terrain that leaves his successor very little maneuverability.

The old leadership refuses to let go while the new hasn’t crystallized a vision for how it will govern. And we are all held hostage at this between the intake of breath and its release.

Does the moon also shine over Gaza?(PinoyPressBlog)

Editorial Cartoon: Israel is US Sales Agent

January 28, 2009

us-armament-salesman

A very hardworking one

(ObamaWatch) Day 1: Obama calls Middle East leaders during first day in office

January 22, 2009

MARK WEISS in Jerusalem

HOURS AFTER the last Israeli troops left the Gaza Strip, President Barack Obama, in his first day in office, phoned regional leaders yesterday stressing his commitment to pursuing Middle East peace.

The first foreign leader to receive a phone call from Mr Obama was Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. The new US leader pledged to work with Mr Abbas as a partner for a “durable peace” in the Middle East.

Mr Obama promised Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert that he would work together with Israel to halt the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.

Mr Olmert told the US president that preventing Hamas from rearming was critical to “stabilising the ceasefire and promoting the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

President Obama also spoke yesterday to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah, fulfilling a promise to get involved in Middle East peacemaking from day one of his presidency.

Earlier yesterday the last Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza Strip, but Israeli forces remained massed on the border, ready to respond to any Palestinian ceasefire violations.

Tsahi Hanegbi, the chairman of the Knesset’s (parliament) foreign affairs and defence committee, warned of a harsh Israeli response.

“Hamas militants face a simple equation,” he said, “If the rocket fire resumes, we will respond with force so strong and overpowering, they will miss the day the Israel airforce’s offensive began.”

Israel had planned to pull out all its troops on Tuesday, before Mr Obama’s inauguration ceremony, but isolated incidents of shooting and mortar fire delayed the withdrawal.

Inside Gaza, armed police returned to the streets, directing traffic and guarding the few government offices that survived the Israeli bombing.

Hamas security forces also began rounding up residents who were suspected of providing Israel with intelligence prior to, and during, the 22-day military campaign. “The internal security service was instructed to track collaborators and hit them hard,” said Ehab al-Ghsain, spokesman of the Hamas interior ministry.

Fatah, the secular rival to Hamas, issued a statement in Gaza, claiming that since the fighting ended at the weekend, its members have been targeted by Hamas gunmen.

Fatah claimed that there were cases of summary executions with bodies thrown on to the piles of rubble.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas’s political wing, confirmed that his organisation had executed several people who were considered collaborators and had helped pinpoint several key targets in Gaza for the Israeli air force.

“We will bring to justice those who were involved in helping Israel mark the location of interior minister Said Siam,” he promised.

Israeli official Amos Gilad is due in Cairo today for further talks with Egyptian representatives on efforts to prevent Hamas rearming via smuggling tunnels.

Hamas negotiators, who are holding separate talks with the Egyptians, are pressing for the border crossings to be opened.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

Israeli Occupation of Palestine

January 21, 2009

Israel’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
ANAYSIS
Bulatlat

The Israeli army has already killed almost 800 Palestinians, including 220 children, and has wounded around 3,1000 since it began bombarding the Gaza strip on December 27 and moving into Palestinian territory January 3. It occupied the Gaza strip purportedly to protect southern Israel from Hamas’ rocket attacks. On January 9, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an investigation of possible war crimes in Gaza and Israel, saying that “harm to civilians in Israel by Hamas rockets is unacceptable” and that Israel must follow international humanitarian law regardless of Hamas’ actions.

Statements from Israel and even the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights make it appear that Israel is merely retaliating against Hamas’ rocket attacks. However, Israel’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

The struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination began after World War I, when it became clear to the Palestinians that the British had deceived them. During World War 1, the British, through its High Commissioner for Egypt Henry McMahon, convinced Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the patriarch of the Hashemite family and Ottoman governor of Mecca and Medina to revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was aligning with Germany. The British promised that if the Arabs aligned with it in the war, it would support the establishment of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine.

At the same time, British Foreign Minister Lord Arthur Balfour issued a declaration in 1917 declaring Britain’s support for the establishment of a “ Jewish national home in Palestine”, which was being pushed for by the Zionist movement since its founding in Europe in 1897 by Theodor Herzl. Britain also entered into an agreement with France to divide control over the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

After the war, the British took control over areas, which now comprise Israel, the West Bank, Gaza strip, and Jordan, and France annexed Syria, and from it carved a separate state of Lebanon. The British also allowed the purchase of large tracts of land from absentee Arab landowners by the Jewish National Fund and the steady stream of Jewish immigration from Europe. When Arabs were evicted from lands purchased by the Jews, clashes erupted between Arabs and Jews from 1920-21. Clashes erupted anew between Muslims and Jews over the Wailing Wall from 1928-29.

The dramatic increase in European Jewish immigration in 1933 was the last straw. The Arabs revolted from 1936-39. The revolt was crushed by Britain with the help of Zionist militias and the complicity of neighboring Arab countries.

On March 22, 1946, the British relinquished its mandate over Jordan after securing their military bases and installations there. On April, it authorized the entry of 100,000 Jews into Palestine.

At the end of 1946, there were 1.3 million Arabs and 608,000 Jews in Palestine, with the latter owning 20 percent of the arable land. This was already a dramatic increase in the Jewish population in Palestine considering that during the late 19th century, Palestine, with a total land area of 10,000 sq m, used to be inhabited by 403,795 Muslims, 43,659 Christians, and only 15,011 Jews.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states: one Jewish and the other Arab. The Jews were given 56 percent of the territory while 43 percent was allocated for the Arabs. Fighting between Jews and Arabs erupted within days of the announcement of the partition plan. On May 15, 1948, the British evacuated Palestine and the Zionists proclaimed the state of Israel.

Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq declared war on Israel shortly thereafter. Israel’s armed forces unleashed a brutal was causing the displacement of 700,000 Palestinian refugees. The war ended with an armistice agreement whereby Israel encompassed over 77 percent of the territory. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank; Egypt took control of the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Arab state was never established.

Tensions between Israel and the Arab states did not abate, but with every eruption of the conflict, Israel – which was being aided militarily by the US – was able to expand its territory. After another war in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza strip and Sinai peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Israel established a military administration in the Gaza strip and West Bank. Since 1967, over 300,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned without trial; over half a million have been tried by Israel’s military courts; and torture of Palestinian prisoners was a common practice. At the same time, Israel built hundreds of settlements in the occupied territories.

Palestinian resistance

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was organized in 1964. The largest group is the Al Fatah. Other members included the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestine People’s Party. It established its base in Jordan before moving to Lebanon then Tunisia. In 1985, Israel bombed the PLO headquarters in Tunisia.

In December 1987, the first intifada erupted and lasted until 1991. It was a mass uprising that included demonstrations, general strikes, boycott of Israeli products and refusal to pay taxes. The intifada was brutally crushed by the Israel army, killing 1,000 Palestinians, including 200 below the age of 16.

While the intifada was led by the four PLO parties active in the occupied territories, it gave birth to Islamist groups such as Hamas. Earlier, Israel encouraged the development of Islamist groups to divide the Palestinians. When it appeared that these groups pose a greater threat to it than the PLO, Israel began talks with the latter.

On September 28, 1995 an interim agreement was signed between the Israel government and Palestine. It provided for the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza strip and Jericho, as well as parts of the West Bank during a period of five years, and for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) with “self-governing powers”. Yasser Arafat, head of Al Fatah, was elected president of the PA in 1996.

However, the talks were protracted. After painful negotiations, which extended till the turn of the century, the Palestinian Authority was able to fain direct or partial control of 40 percent of the West Bank and 65 percent of the Gaza strip.

All through the period of negotiations, Israel expanded its settlements and built bypass roads within the occupied territories. Thus, even as the PA gained some measure of control over certain areas of the West Bank and Gaza strip, they were surrounded by Jewish settlements with entry and exit to these areas being controlled by the Israel army.

On September 28, 2000 Ariel Sharon visited the Muslim holy shrine, Haram al-Sharif in the company of 1,000 guards, thereby provoking a second intifada. When the militant wing of Al Fatah fired on Israeli soldiers, Israel attacked PA installations with helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery fire, and missiles. It also bombarded civilian neighborhoods in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

In June 2002, Israel began construction of the West Bank barrier, which was 700-km long and five meters high. Palestinian land was confiscated to build the wall. Worse, Palestinian farmers and traders were cut off from their farms and water sources.

On September 20, 2002 Israel besieged Arafat’s headquarters in Ram Allah and confined him there for over two years up to his death in November 2004. Israel also embarked on a policy of extrajudicial assassinations and imprisonment of Palestinian leaders. One of the more prominent Palestinian leaders who was imprisoned and sentenced to five life terms is Marwan Barghouti of the Al Fatah.

On February 26, 2003, Israel made a series of re-incursions that led to the re-occupation of parts of the Gaza strip and the West Bank.

In April 2003, Mahmud Abbas was elected as Palestinian Prime Minister. On June 4, 2003 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas met at Aqaba, Jordan to discuss the implementation of the “road map formula for peace”, which was backed by the US, Russia, the European Union, and the UN.

However, nothing came out of the negotiations. Abbas was politically humiliated.

On January 25, 2006, Palestinians voted in parliamentary elections and Hamas won 74 out of the 132 parliamentary seats. Fatah won 45 seats, and 13 seats went to other minor parties. Since then, Israel vowed to “liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza”.

Thus, the December 2007 Israeli offensive was more than a retaliation. It is part of Israel’s genocidal acts against the Palestinian people, much like what the British settlers did to the native American Indians. (Bulatlat.com)

Editorial Cartoon: (Bush-Israel’s Agenda) Sabotage Obama

January 19, 2009

sabotaeour

Photos: Students stage protest at US embassy, hit US role in Gaza bombing and invasion

January 18, 2009

Students stage protest at US embassy,

hit US role in Gaza bombing and invasion

Manila

Video: US Congress votes to back Israel

January 11, 2009

Students hit US role in Gaza bombings; hold protest at US embassy in Manila

January 11, 2009

The League of Filipino Students (LFS) today led a protest action in
front of the US embassy in Manila calling for a stop to the “genocide
and occupation” being conducted by Israeli troops in Gaza. The
students also condemned the US for backing Israel, saying the US is
the financier and operator of the killings.

“The US-Israel child-killing, mass murder tag team in the Middle East
must be stopped. The on-going conflict in Gaza shows how merciless and
brutal the US war machine is, despite its pretensions of being
democratic and humanitarian. Israel and US must be punished as war
criminals,” says Vencer Crisostomo, LFS National Chairperson.

The US provides a large sum for Israel military funding, of up to
almost $4 billion annually.

Crisostomo said that the killing and occupation has also to do with
oil and natural resources, in which the US has big stakes.

“In part, this war is about a right-wing Zionist ideology, but also,
this is about economic interests, particularly oil and natural gas, in
the Middle East. There is natural gas in Gaza, and an oil pipeline
planned to pass through the strip. This is, like Iraq and Afghanistan,
also blood for oil,” said Crisostomo. (Reference:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11680)

Crisostomo said that they will launch an anti-war campaign in schools,
taking part in the international efforts to stop the conflict and end
the occupation.

“We are in solidarity with the protests around the globe against the
war. The students, youth and peoples of the world must unite in
stopping this monstrosity,” says Crisostomo.

Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, at least 854 people
have been killed, including 270 children, 93 women, and 12 paramedics.

www.lfs.ph

MEDIA STATEMENT
14 January 2009
Reference: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0917-221203

WOMEN UNITE AGAINST ISRAELI ATTACK
ON PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

The women of GABRIELA National Alliance of Women stand in unity with the international community in condemning the Israeli invasion of the Gaza strip.

The vision of hundreds of wounded and lifeless Palestinian children
strewn in Gaza is beyond heartbreaking. In each and every woman, the
death, destruction and overall human suffering in Gaza should stir
rage against the governments of Israeli and the United States. From
generation to generation, the Israeli government repeatedly attacks
with impunity the Palestinian people and the United States government
inspires and supports such inhuman acts of massive proportions.

The current aggression of Israeli troops in Gaza has resulted, so far,
in the death of 910 Palestinians, 292 were children and 75 were women
and the wounding of more than 4,000 others.

This unspeakable violence against the Palestinian people is not unlike
the attacks waged against peoples in the name of political and
economic control over sovereign nations. Wars of aggression, within
which the culture of violence is intricately webbed, victimize women
and children most. In the recent past it has happened in Afghanistan
and in Iraq and in Mindanao in the Philippines. Displacement,
dislocation, hunger, rape and other forms of sexual violence are
suffered most by women and children.

Filipino women must stand together with all freedom-loving people of
the world in protesting this recent violation on the lives and
sovereignty of the Palestinian people and demand for the immediate
pull out of Israeli troops in Gaza and put and end to the death,
destruction and overall human suffering Palestine.

(Photos Courtesy of ANAKBAYAN and news agencies)

Arkibong Bayan

Editorial Cartoon: (Palestine Murders) Israel’s Way

January 17, 2009

israels-way

Goliath’s way.

Photos: Anakbayan and ILPS lead Free Palestine rally in San Francisco

January 17, 2009

Anakbayan and ILPS lead Free Palestine rally

in San Francisco

January 10, 2009

(Photos Courtesy of Anakbayan-East Bay)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Week 2: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine; Condemn Corporate Media’s Distortion of Gaza Situation

January 16, 2009

Week 2: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine;
Condemn Corporate Media’s Distortion of Gaza Situation

New York City

January 11, 2000

News Release
January 11, 2009
Reference: Christina Hilo, Northeast Coordinator, BAYAN USA, email: ny@bayanusa.org

Week 2: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine;
Condemn Corporate Media’s Distortion of Gaza Situation

New York– For the second weekend in a row, Filipinos from New York City and neighboring Jersey City, under the alliance of BAYAN USA, marched with thousands of pro-Palestinian activists from Times Square to the New York offices of CNN and Time Warner to protest the continuing Israeli military invasion of the city of Gaza. BAYAN USA members organizations Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), and NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), comprised a strong and indignant Filipino contingent amidst a sea of Arab and non-Arab supporters for the Palestinian people of Gaza and the cause of the Palestinian people to end the Zionist occupation of their homeland.

News reports from various media outlets tally the Palestinian casualties to more than 800 dead and 3000 wounded in Gaza City, but pro-Palestinian protesters remain critical that facts reported in mainstream news are heavily distorted, and Palestinian victims, including women and children, are possibly under-counted. Pro-Palestinian activists marched from Times Square to the offices of media giants CNN and Time Warner near Central Park to denounce strong pro-Israel bias in mainstream news coverage of the Gaza situation.

“Today, we are all Palestinians!,” shouted 20-year old Anakbayan member Yves Nibungco for BAYAN USA from the rally main stage, met with thunderous applause. “We condemn the corporate media for their distortion of the facts in Gaza and puppetry to US interests. They continue to demonize the victims and praise the murderers….. We know the violence in Gaza is not escalating because of Hamas, the violence in Gaza is escalating because of Zionism!” Nibungco stated.

According to most news reports, Hamas’ so-called “terrorist activities” are projected as the main cause of the conflict, while Israel’s invasion is justified as a matter of self-defense. But BAYAN USA and the other protesters in New York, see the conflict within the historical context of the ongoing Palestinian resistance to the violent 60+ year old Zionist occupation of their ancestral lands assisted by financial support from the US government.

As the largest recipient of US economic aid in the world, Israel enjoys a pork barrel of $15 million a day, or an annual average of $6 billion, from US tax dollars. Nibungco further stated that the US government’s large financial investment in Israel ensures US government control over the vast deposits of oil and natural gas in the region.

Last week in Washington DC, both houses of US Congress unanimously passed resolutions in full support of Israel’s continued military offensive of Gaza. As stated in Senate Resolution 10 (S.R. 10), US lawmakers united under the framework that Israel has every right to exercise “non-restraint from targeting civilians.”

“Filipinos are concerned about Gaza and the liberation of Palestine because there are similarities in Philippine history and current affairs,” stated BAYAN USA Secretary-General Berna Ellorin. “US tax dollars fund and enable the Israeli military offensive in Gaza and violent occupation Palestinian soil, just as US tax dollars fund and enable the Philippine military to commit gross human rights violations against the Filipino people at an alarming rate.”

As a former direct colony of the US, the Philippines suffered a bloody colonization from the US military that led to the massacre of millions of Filipinos at a time when the US government was a fledgling superpower at the turn of the 20th century. Today, more subtle forms of US economic and political plunder still lord over Philippine national affairs, including a push from Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for dangerous provisions to the 1987 Philippine Constitution that would allow 100% foreign ownership of the country’s vast natural resources, including oil, gold, and natural gas. Opposition to Arroyo’s Charter Change, or Cha-Cha, is another campaign of BAYAN USA.

While none from the BAYAN USA contingent was arrested, police officers brutalized protesters and arrested at least 10 from the march and rally. BAYAN USA, an overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines and member of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), marched closely with allies from Nodutdol, a progressive Korean community organization based in Queens.

For more information on BAYAN USA, visit http://www.bayanusa.org, or email info@bayanusa.org. ###

(Photos Courtesy of BAYAN-USA)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 2

January 16, 2009

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 2

January 10, 2009

Gaza’s day of carnage – 40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools
• Bloodiest attack of campaign so far
• Obama breaks silence on conflict


Israel’s assault on Gaza has exacted the bloodiest toll of civilian lives yet, when the bombing of UN schools being used as refugee centres and of housing killed more than 50 people, including an entire family of seven young children.

The UN protested at a “complete absence of accountability” for the escalating number of civilian deaths in Gaza, saying “the rule of the gun” had taken over.
Doctors in Gaza said more than 40 people died, including children, in what appears to be the biggest single loss of life of the campaign when Israeli bombs hit al-Fakhora school, in Jabaliya refugee camp, while it was packed with hundreds of people who had fled the fighting.

Most of those killed were in the school playground and in the street, and the dead and injured lay in pools of blood. Pictures on Palestinian TV showed walls heavily marked by shrapnel and bloodstains, and shoes and shredded clothes scattered on the ground. Windows were blown out.

Hours before, three young men who were cousins died when the Israelis bombed Asma elementary school in Gaza City. They were among 400 people who had sought shelter there after fleeing their homes in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza.
Abed Sultan, 20, a student, and his cousins, Rawhi and Hussein Sultan, labourers aged 22, died. Abed Sultan’s father, Samir, said the bodies were so mangled that he could not tell his son from the cousins. “We came to the school when the Israelis warned us to leave,” he said. “We hoped it would be safe. We were 20 in one room. We had no electricity, no blankets, no food.

“Suddenly we heard a bomb that shook the school. Windows smashed. Children started to scream. A relative came and told me one of my sons was killed. I found my son’s body with his two cousins. They were cut into pieces by the shell.”

The UN was particularly incensed over targeting of the schools, because Israeli forces knew they were packed with families as they had ordered them to get out of their homes with leaflet drops and loudspeakers. It said it had identified the schools as refugee centres to the Israeli military and provided GPS coordinates.

Israel accused Hamas of using civilians as cover, and said the Islamist group could stop the assault on Gaza by ending its rocket attacks on Israel.

The Palestinian authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, last night delivered an impassioned plea to the UN security council to act immediately to stop the Israeli operation, which he described as a “catastrophe” for his people. Israel has agreed a “humanitarian corridor” to allow Palestinians to get essential goods.

The rising casualty toll, more than 640 Palestinians killed since the assault began 12 days ago, gave fresh impetus to diplomatic efforts. The White House offered its first hint of concern at Israel’s actions by calling on it to avoid civilian deaths. The president-elect, Barack Obama, broke his silence by saying he was “deeply concerned” about civilian casualties on both sides. He said he would have “plenty to say” about the crisis after his swearing in.

Gordon Brown said the Middle East was facing its “darkest moment yet” but hoped a ceasefire could be arranged soon.

Explaining its attack on al-Fahora school, the Israeli military claimed that a mortar was fired from the playground, and it responded with a single shell whichkilled known Hamas fighters; the resulting explosion was compounded because Hamas “booby-trapped the school”. Two Hamas militants were among the dead, both part of a rocket-launching cell.

The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, John Ging, said three shells landed at the perimeter of the school. “It was entirely inevitable if artillery shells landed in that area there would be a high number of casualties,” he said.

He said UN staff vetted those Palestinians who sought shelter at the school. “So far we’ve not had violations by militants of our facilities,” he said, though responding to questions he accepted there had been clashes between Hamas and the Israeli army in the area.

Earlier in the day, Ging visited Gaza’s hospital and was shocked at the scale of civilian casualties. “What you have in this hospital is the consequences of political failure and the complete absence of any accountability for actions that are being taken. It’s the rule of the gun now, and it has to stop,” he said.

At least 12 of one family, seven children aged from one to 12, three women and two men, were killed in an air strike on their house in Gaza City. Nine others were believed trapped.

Israel continues to insist most of those killed by its forces are Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters – although its assertion it is going to extraordinary lengths to target only “terrorists” has been undermined by a tank firing on a building used by Israeli troops, killing four of them, on Monday.

Another soldier was killed yesterday as Israeli forces continued their push into Gaza City. Tanks and troops also moved on the southern town of Khan Yunis.

The invasion has yet to achieve what Israel says is its goal of stopping rocket attacks. Hamas fired more than 30 into Israel yesterday, one to within 20 miles of Tel Aviv at Gadera, wounding a baby.

The de facto Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, issued a statement from hiding, saying that the Gazans would defeat Israel. “[Israel] has failed to force the population to surrender,” he said.

From:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/07/gaza-israel-obama

UN: Gaza faces ‘alarming’ humanitarian situation
01/01/2009 | 07:20 AM

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UNITED NATIONS — Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are facing an “alarming” humanitarian situation under constant Israeli bombardment, with the main power plant shut down, overcrowded hospitals struggling to cope and very limited food supplies, UN officials said Wednesday.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the power plant shut down Tuesday because Israel has blocked fuel delivery through the main pipeline since Dec. 26. This has forced hospitals to use generators, which have limited fuel supplies, and left many of the 650,000 people in central and northern Gaza with power cuts of 16 hours a day or more, he said.

“On the humanitarian side,” Holmes said, “the situation remains alarming.”

“Hospitals are obviously still struggling very much to cope with the number of casualties. We have continued to get some medical supplies in and to help them cope, but this remains difficult and fragile,” he told reporters at UN headquarters.

Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the UN Relief and Works Agency which helps Palestinian refugees, told reporters by video link from Gaza that the agency, known as UNRWA, has not distributed any food for two weeks because of the shortage of supplies and the Israeli bombardment.

“I think that means that 20,000 people a day have been without food that they expect — and probably is the bulk of what they get. … It’s not just the flour, but it’s the protein source, either lentils or tinned meat and the sugar and milk powder and oil,” she said.

“So people are doing pretty badly. Everyone we know is sharing whatever they have, not just with their families but with their neighbors,” Abu Zayd said. “People are not eating what they used to. That’s simply what’s happening.”

“We haven’t seen widespread hunger. We do see for the very first time — I’ve been here for eight years— … people going through the rubbish dumps looking for things, people begging which is quite a new phenomenon as well,” she said.

Holmes said the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel continues to be open, with 55 trucks of food and medical supplies and five ambulances getting into Gaza on Tuesday, and about 60 trucks on Wednesday. That compares to 125 truckloads a day in October 2008 and 475 truckloads a day in May 2007, just before Hamas took control of Gaza, he said.

Some medical supplies, ambulances and generators also got into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, he said.

A spokesman for President George W. Bush, Gordon Johndroe, told reporters in Texas that American officials are seeing “a good flow” of medical and food supplies into Gaza.

Abu Zayd stressed, however, that UNRWA needs 100 trucks of flour a day to meet the needs of refugees. But she said Israel has closed down the Karni crossing, the main gateway for cargo into Gaza where it is normally delivered, for security reasons.

She said UNRWA was told by the Israeli humanitarian coordinator that all other crossings aren’t open because “there is intelligence about serious preparations for security operations.”

“We wonder if it’s serious enough to really keep things completely closed and to keep people on their edge of subsistence,” she said.

Holmes said “the major needs, apart from medical supplies, remain … grain and wheat flour and fuel — also cash would be very helpful to enable people to buy supplies.”

He said the Israelis have been “cooperative in principle about these supplies but we need to see more results.”

UNRWA launched an emergency appeal on Tuesday for US$34 million for food, medical supplies and other goods, he said, and “there are good indications that the donors will respond generously.”

On the infrastructure side, Holmes said damage has been limited so far, but two major wells have been hit along with schools and some UN facilities. Five mosques identified with Hamas were also hit by Israeli bombs, Abu Zayd said.

Both Holmes and Abu Zayd said the bombing has taken a psychological toll.

Abu Zayd said UN staff members “try to tell their children that the bombing is a wedding and somebody’s celebrating.”

“The children, of course, know that there’s something wrong because they’re not going to school,” she said. “They were supposed to take their exams this week.”

“Everyone is just traumatized by what’s happening each day, and also their worries about the future, because they don’t know what’s going to happen next… they’re just expecting the worst,” Abu Zayd said.- AP

From:

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/142027/UN-Gaza-faces-alarming-humanitarian-situation

**Stills from the Youtube video at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgeqrs5ePLU

Arkibong Bayan

Kawagib Moro human rights group leads protest against Israeli aggression in Gaza

January 15, 2009

Kawagib Moro human rights group

leads protest against Israeli aggression in Gaza

Cotabato City

January 9, 2009

Press Release
January 09, 2009

Cotabato City- The KAWAGIB MORO HUMAN RIGHTS joins the international community in condemning the atrocious military aggression of Israel in Gaza and urges world leaders to support measure to protect and advance the basic rights of the Palestinian people.

The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip calls for an immediate and comprehensive intervention. The entire Gaza populations are being punished for the actions of a few militants. Israel ’s military incursion has targeted Hamas but a vast majority of the victims are innocent civilians. The deadly air strikes were aimed at civilian areas. At least one aerial assault hit a U.N. school.

Israel ’s sustained and escalating military assault in Gaza has already claimed the lives of close to 700 Palestinians – about a third of whom are women and children – and injured thousands of others.

Despite mounting international pressure, Israel , with the backing of the United States (U.S.), has kept on with its military operation, which is nothing but a large-scale massacre of innocent civilians. The U.S.’ used of its veto power to oppose a draft ceasefire resolution by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council is a clear manifestation of its support to Israel’s aggression.

We are very dismayed by the apparent impunity with which Israel with its complicit state, the U.S. , persist in their systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel , with the backing of the U.S. , has been committing immense crimes against humanity despite strong condemnation of international watchdogs.

The Bangsamoro people are, to some extent, beset with similar aggression and feel for the Palestinians in their quest for the right to self-determination. The Philippine government has consistently suppressed the rights and aspirations of the Bangsamoro people and brazenly violated international humanitarian law with its all-out war policy. It has been quick to resort to military option to contain peace and security issues and puts little consideration to the number of civilian lives lost and affected in its military campaigns.

We condemn in the strongest terms Israel ’s military aggression in Gaza ; its shameless and flagrant defiance of international humanitarian law and its arrogant and appalling disregard of the unified call of the international community.

We deplore U.S. support in the armed aggression and its imperial pursuits in the Philippines and in the rest of the world.

We support the adoption of concrete measure to end the aggression and the sufferings of the Palestinian people and call an end to Israel ’s military and humanitarian siege of Gaza .

FOR REFERENCE: BAI ALI INDAYLA

(064)421-5680. Contact # 0921.906.4699

Liga ng Kabataang Moro calls for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel Zionism.

Following the current massive military attack in Gaza Strip, the Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) released a statement condemning the latest overkill launched yet again by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.

The LKM joins several other progressive Moro organizations gathered today to protest the US-backed Israeli War Crimes.

“Today’s action is part of Mindanao-wide Day of Action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and to demand an immediate end to the murderous attacks carried out by the Israeli military that once again on the brink of a full-scale war,” said Yousri Usop, Chairmanperson of LKM, Notre Dame University Chapter. This escalation, he fears, can only lead to another round of bloodletting and destruction.

The group holds the Israeli government and its primary ally, the United States, responsible for the said condemnable act.

This latest phase in the long-running tragedy in the Middle East began in December 27, 2008 when Israel bombarded Gaza leading to the death of 683 innocent women, children and the elderly and more than 3,085 injured since Israel began its offensive 13 days ago. Palestinian fighters captured an Israeli soldier in exchange of some of the 10,000 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. Under international law, the soldier is a legitimate target in a legitimate resistance operation by an occupied people.

Yousri said “all hell then broke loose as Israel began an all-out military assault on Gaza.” The protesting Moro youth organization claims that it is clearly another manifestation of overkill.

It bombarded civilian infrastructure, including bridges and power stations, leaving over a million civilians without water supply and hundreds of sick people in hospitals without access to medication. Over 683 individuals have been killed and thousands have become refugees.

The grossly disproportionate use of force and the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people are flagrant violations of international law.

LKM related the Israeli attack to the present war in Mindanao Usop said, “This is what the US-puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is doing in its present war in Mindanao against our Muslim compatriots.”

“More than 600,000 people have lost their homes and more than 200 have died since August 2008 when the full-scale war broke out. Many of the victims are women and children.”

The protest calls for a Stop to the US-Backed GMA Regime’s War in Mindanao and against the people of Gaza!”

The current condition of the refugees is not getting any better, they claimed, because for the past 18 months there is little or no medicine to treat the wounded, electricity, food or clean water for much of the population.

“We demand that Israel should immediately end its military offensive on Gaza, free all Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails, and end the occupation of Palestine and people’s right to sovereignty and self determination be respected,” the Moro youth group demanded.

“We also demand that the Philippine government recalls its ambassador from Israel and begin the process of severing all diplomatic ties with that state until it complies and take a stand in favor of international law and justice, summon the Israeli ambassador to protest, and expressly condemn Israel for its actions. In solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.”

“In solidarity with the Palestinians and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.”

Reference: Yousri Usop-LKM,Chairperson, Notre Dame University-Chapter, Contact Number-09058016752

Press Statement
January 9, 2009

Liga ng Kabataang Moro calls for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel Zionism.

We Liga ng Kabataang Moro joins with other progressive Moro organizations gathered today to protest the US-backed Israeli War Crimes. Today’s action is part of Mindanao-wide Day of Action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and to demand an immediate end to the murderous attacks carried out by the Israeli military that once again on the brink of a full-scale war. This escalation can only lead to another round of bloodletting and destruction.

We Liga ng Kabataang Moro, lay the responsibility behind this tragedy squarely on the Israeli state, its primary ally the United States, and all those who actively support or tacitly tolerate its actions.

This latest phase in the long-running tragedy in the Middle East began in December 27, 2008 when Israel bombarded Gaza leading to the death of 683 innocent women, children and the elderly and more than 3,085 injured since Israel began its offensive 13 days ago. Palestinian fighters then captured an Israeli soldier, demanding the release of some of the 10,000 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. Under international law, the soldier is a legitimate target in a legitimate resistance operation by an occupied people.

All hell then broke loose as Israel began an all-out military assault on Gaza. It bombarded civilian infrastructure, including bridges and power stations, leaving over a million civilians without water and hundreds of sick people in hospitals without access to medication. The grossly disproportionate use of force and the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people are flagrant violations of international law.

It was evidently in response to the atrocities being carried out by Israel on the people of Gaza. Over 683 been killed and thousands have become refugees. Again, Israel’s actions are brazen violations of international law. Not only do they constitute disproportionate violence but ¬ with Israel itself provoking the actions it claims to be defending itself from they are also totally unjustified.

This is what the US-puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is doing in its present war in Mindanao against our Muslim compatriots. More than 600,000 people have lost their homes and more than 200 have died since August 2008 when the full-scale war broke out. Many of the victims are women and children.

Because an injury to one is an injury to all, as we say “Stop the US-Backed GMA Regime’s War in Mindanao!”, we say loudly “Stop the War against the people of Gaza!”

Because of the US-backed Israeli blockade and strangulation of the people of Gaza for the past 18 months there is little or no medicine to treat the wounded, electricity, food or clean water for much of the population. This massive international war crime perpetrated by the Israeli government and military must be stopped.

At the root of the continuing tragedy in the Middle East is the continuing occupation of Palestine by Israel. That Israel is able to continue this occupation and that it is able to bomb and kill indiscriminately without restraint points to the incapacity of the international community, including the United Nations and the world’s governments, to uphold peace and justice.

It is this unwillingness to act that will ensure that more blood and tears will flow from this escalating war. We demand that Israel should immediately end its military offensive on Gaza, free all Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails, and end the occupation of Palestine and people’s right to sovereignty and self determination be respected.

We demand that the Philippine government recalls its ambassador from Israel and begin the process of severing all diplomatic ties with that state until it complies and take a stand in favor of international law and justice, summon the Israeli ambassador to protest, and expressly condemn Israel for its actions. In solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.

In solidarity with the Palestinians and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.

LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF PALESTINE!
FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!

Reference: Yousri Usop-LKM,Chairperson, Notre Dame University-Chapter, Contact Number-09058016752

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Israel’s Occupation of Palestine
www.bulatlat.com


Israel’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
ANAYSIS
Bulatlat

The Israeli army has already killed almost 800 Palestinians, including 220 children, and has wounded around 3,1000 since it began bombarding the Gaza strip on December 27 and moving into Palestinian territory January 3. It occupied the Gaza strip purportedly to protect southern Israel from Hamas’ rocket attacks. On January 9, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an investigation of possible war crimes in Gaza and Israel , saying that “harm to civilians in Israel by Hamas rockets is unacceptable” and that Israel must follow international humanitarian law regardless of Hamas’ actions.

Statements from Israel and even the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights make it appear that Israel is merely retaliating against Hamas’ rocket attacks. However, Israel ’s incursions into Palestine and its attacks against the Palestinian people did not begin with the founding of Hamas in 1987, during the first intifada (uprising), or its victory over Fatah during the January 2006 elections. Sadly, what is seemingly lost in news reports is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: the struggle for land and self-determination of the Palestinian people.

The struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination began after World War I, when it became clear to the Palestinians that the British had deceived them. During World War 1, the British, through its High Commissioner for Egypt Henry McMahon, convinced Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the patriarch of the Hashemite family and Ottoman governor of Mecca and Medina to revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was aligning with Germany. The British promised that if the Arabs aligned with it in the war, it would support the establishment of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine .

At the same time, British Foreign Minister Lord Arthur Balfour issued a declaration in 1917 declaring Britain’s support for the establishment of a “ Jewish national home in Palestine”, which was being pushed for by the Zionist movement since its founding in Europe in 1897 by Theodor Herzl. Britain also entered into an agreement with France to divide control over the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire .

After the war, the British took control over areas, which now comprise Israel , the West Bank, Gaza strip, and Jordan , and France annexed Syria , and from it carved a separate state of Lebanon . The British also allowed the purchase of large tracts of land from absentee Arab landowners by the Jewish National Fund and the steady stream of Jewish immigration from Europe . When Arabs were evicted from lands purchased by the Jews, clashes erupted between Arabs and Jews from 1920-21. Clashes erupted anew between Muslims and Jews over the Wailing Wall from 1928-29.

The dramatic increase in European Jewish immigration in 1933 was the last straw. The Arabs revolted from 1936-39. The revolt was crushed by Britain with the help of Zionist militias and the complicity of neighboring Arab countries.

On March 22, 1946, the British relinquished its mandate over Jordan after securing their military bases and installations there. On April, it authorized the entry of 100,000 Jews into Palestine .

At the end of 1946, there were 1.3 million Arabs and 608,000 Jews in Palestine , with the latter owning 20 percent of the arable land. This was already a dramatic increase in the Jewish population in Palestine considering that during the late 19th century, Palestine , with a total land area of 10,000 sq m, used to be inhabited by 403,795 Muslims, 43,659 Christians, and only 15,011 Jews.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states: one Jewish and the other Arab. The Jews were given 56 percent of the territory while 43 percent was allocated for the Arabs. Fighting between Jews and Arabs erupted within days of the announcement of the partition plan. On May 15, 1948, the British evacuated Palestine and the Zionists proclaimed the state of Israel .

Egypt, Syria , Jordan and Iraq declared war on Israel shortly thereafter. Israel ’s armed forces unleashed a brutal was causing the displacement of 700,000 Palestinian refugees. The war ended with an armistice agreement whereby Israel encompassed over 77 percent of the territory. Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank; Egypt took control of the Gaza strip. The Palestinian Arab state was never established.►

Tensions between Israel and the Arab states did not abate, but with every eruption of the conflict, Israel – which was being aided militarily by the US – was able to expand its territory. After another war in 1967, Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan , the Gaza strip and Sinai peninsula from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria .

Israel established a military administration in the Gaza strip and West Bank . Since 1967, over 300,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned without trial; over half a million have been tried by Israel ’s military courts; and torture of Palestinian prisoners was a common practice. At the same time, Israel built hundreds of settlements in the occupied territories.

Palestinian resistance

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was organized in 1964. The largest group is the Al Fatah. Other members included the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Palestine People’s Party. It established its base in Jordan before moving to Lebanon then Tunisia . In 1985, Israel bombed the PLO headquarters in Tunisia .

In December 1987, the first intifada erupted and lasted until 1991. It was a mass uprising that included demonstrations, general strikes, boycott of Israeli products and refusal to pay taxes. The intifada was brutally crushed by the Israel army, killing 1,000 Palestinians, including 200 below the age of 16.

While the intifada was led by the four PLO parties active in the occupied territories, it gave birth to Islamist groups such as Hamas. Earlier, Israel encouraged the development of Islamist groups to divide the Palestinians. When it appeared that these groups pose a greater threat to it than the PLO, Israel began talks with the latter.

On September 28, 1995 an interim agreement was signed between the Israel government and Palestine . It provided for the withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza strip and Jericho , as well as parts of the West Bank during a period of five years, and for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) with “self-governing powers”. Yasser Arafat, head of Al Fatah, was elected president of the PA in 1996.

However, the talks were protracted. After painful negotiations, which extended till the turn of the century, the Palestinian Authority was able to fain direct or partial control of 40 percent of the West Bank and 65 percent of the Gaza strip.


All through the period of negotiations, Israel expanded its settlements and built bypass roads within the occupied territories. Thus, even as the PA gained some measure of control over certain areas of the West Bank and Gaza strip, they were surrounded by Jewish settlements with entry and exit to these areas being controlled by the Israel army.

On September 28, 2000 Ariel Sharon visited the Muslim holy shrine, Haram al-Sharif in the company of 1,000 guards, thereby provoking a second intifada. When the militant wing of Al Fatah fired on Israeli soldiers, Israel attacked PA installations with helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery fire, and missiles. It also bombarded civilian neighborhoods in the West Bank and Gaza strip.

In June 2002, Israel began construction of the West Bank barrier, which was 700-km long and five meters high. Palestinian land was confiscated to build the wall. Worse, Palestinian farmers and traders were cut off from their farms and water sources.

On September 20, 2002 Israel besieged Arafat’s headquarters in Ram Allah and confined him there for over two years up to his death in November 2004. Israel also embarked on a policy of extrajudicial assassinations and imprisonment of Palestinian leaders. One of the more prominent Palestinian leaders who was imprisoned and sentenced to five life terms is Marwan Barghouti of the Al Fatah.

On February 26, 2003, Israel made a series of re-incursions that led to the re-occupation of parts of the Gaza strip and the West Bank .

In April 2003, Mahmud Abbas was elected as Palestinian Prime Minister. On June 4, 2003 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas met at Aqaba, Jordan to discuss the implementation of the “road map formula for peace”, which was backed by the US, Russia, the European Union, and the UN.

However, nothing came out of the negotiations. Abbas was politically humiliated.

On January 25, 2006, Palestinians voted in parliamentary elections and Hamas won 74 out of the 132 parliamentary seats. Fatah won 45 seats, and 13 seats went to other minor parties. Since then, Israel vowed to “liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza ”.

Thus, the December 2007 Israeli offensive was more than a retaliation. It is part of Israel ’s genocidal acts against the Palestinian people, much like what the British settlers did to the native American Indians. (Bulatlat.com)

(Photos Courtesy of Kawagib Moro Human Rights)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Hongkong multisectoral organizations condemn Israeli invasion of Gaza

January 15, 2009

Hongkong multisectoral organizations

condemn Israeli invasion of Gaza

January 8 2009

No More Bloodshed in Gaza! Stop the Invasion!
Hong Kong People Condemn Israeli Aggression, Vow More Protests
Solidarity broadened and strengthened for Palestine today.

Several organizations and individuals all over Hong Kong gathered in a picket protest today, January 8, at the Israeli Consulate General to condemn the ongoing and intensifying attacks by the Israeli Zionist government on the people of Gaza.

Led by the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA, formerly known as the Asian Students Association), the picket gathered around 70 people from various local and regional platforms, with many of them joining the march to the U.S. Consulate.

The organizations who joined included the following: Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, HK Confederation of Trade Unions, Hong Kong Federation of Students, League of Social Democrats, Refugee Action Centre, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants, Mission For Migrant Workers (HK) Society, Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, United Filipinos in Hong Kong, Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong (ATKI-HK), Pakistani Islamic Welfare Union,

The Incorporated Trustees of The Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Hong Kong (BAYAN-HK), Asian Centre for the Progress of Peoples, International League of Peoples’ Struggle Hong Kong, Filipino Migrant Workers Union, Association for the Advancement of Feminism, Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Monitor Resource Centre, April 5th Movement, World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific, and Helpers for Islam.

Other known personalities present were Legislator Leung Kwok Hung (aka Long Hair), Dr. Rose Wu (former director of the HK Christian Institute), Father Franco Mella PIME, and Mufti Muhammad Arshad (Chief Imam Hong Kong).

Note-worthy are the many individuals, many of whom were students, who joined the action after learning about the invitation through SMS and Facebook.

At the Admiralty Centre

A strong sense of solidarity spirit engulfed the whole ground floor of the Admiralty Centre, the building where Israeli Consulate is situated.

Speeches were given as slogans like “No More Deaths! No More Bombings!” and “Stop the Aggression! Israel Out of Palestine Now!” were chanted right after every speech.

During the start of the program, a small delegation made up of Rey Asis (secretariat member of the ASA), Imam Arshad, Baseer Navid of AHRC, Long Hair and a representative from PIWU were planning to give the position paper signed by various groups and individuals to the Israeli Consulate.

However, they were stopped several times by the building security and finally refused entry to the lift going to the Israeli Consulate’s office. This created uproar and indignation both from the delegation and the people gathered outside the building.

Truly, such action from the Admiralty Centre security was shameful.

Marching to the US Consulate

After the program in Admiralty, the protesters marched to the US Consulate to continue the demonstration.

There, the protesters were not remiss in denouncing the US government’s continuous political and military support to the Israeli Zionist government’s invasion of Gaza and Palestine.

A moment of silence was observed towards the end of the program to remember the many women, children and innocent civilians who died from the Israeli assaults.

Solidarity was again expressed as the groups committed to follow up on the developments and take necessary actions. A solidarity network for Palestine is already in the offing.

Truly, today’s action proved that solidarity embraced all races, religions, ages and colors. It was a very meaningful and inspiring event.

Reference:
Rey Perez Asis
Secretariat Member, Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association
Contact number: (852) 9588 9491
Email: reyasis@gmail.com

HongKong Legislator Leong Kwok Hung

Immam Muhammad Arshad of AHRC

Rey Asis of ASA

Elizabeth Tang of HKCTU

xHong Kong’s Expression of Solidarity with the People of Gaza Strip
STOP THE ATTACKS!
RESIST THE ONSLAUGHT OF ISRAELI ZIONISM!

What Israel is doing is not democracy. It is genocide. It is terrorism.

This we say as we condemn in the strongest possible terms the Israeli Zionist government for intensifying its military onslaught on the Gaza Strip.

It continues to hurl bombs through aerial attacks, fire artillery shelling through naval vessels as its tanks and troops invading Palestinian territory have been strifing at civilians, homes and even medical personnel.

It has the arrogance to admit and exhibit its military prowess at the expense of the Palestinian civilians as homes, hospitals and universities, mosques and prayer halls have been targeted and obliterated.

It has not shown any compunction in blockading medical, food and other forms of humanitarian aid from getting into the borders. It kills civilians and even targets those who are helping the wounded and attending to the distressed. Is this what the Israeli government calls defending itself as they collectively punish the people of Gaza?

By using military force disproportionately, placing civilians in harm’s way by deliberately aiming bombs at their homes or hospitals they have sought refuge in, by hindering humanitarian access, the Israeli Zionist government has not only violated international conventions but committed the foulest crimes against humanity.

No remorse, no logic, no shame

It is of no remorse, of no logic, of no shame as they vehemently deny the reality of devastation in Gaza and ignore the international outcry for an immediate ceasefire.

On the part of U.S. government, it has shed off any illusion of pretense and objectivity as it condones and virtually champions the Israel’s expression of “defending itself from the attacks of Hamas.”

As outgoing president George W. Bush rashly demands the Hamas to stop “its military offense”, the U.S. government continually implores its standing relations with Israel before making any categorical position on the current Middle East crisis.

What uncouth positioning of a government with diplomatic relationships taking more precedence over the protection of lives and rights of the civilian populace!

We will not forget

We will not forget how the people of Gaza have suffered from the brutal rule of the Israeli Zionist government from the period of the latter’s occupation of Gaza (1967-1994) to the present. The independence of the Palestinian people in 1994 is almost nothing when their land, air and sea bases remain under the control of the Israelis.

In recent years, we have seen how the Israeli Zionist government has attacked Gaza and continued to advance and occupy small land portions of the Palestinian territory, as what they did this November 2008.

The people of Gaza and of Palestine have been defending themselves from Israeli invasion for the longest time. Hamas, a legitimate government elected by the people of Gaza and recognized by the U.N. and various governments, only responds to defend Gaza’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Expression of defiance, of solidarity

We welcome the strong position that United Nation General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto has taken against the Israel attacks. We welcome and embrace greatly the strong positions and solidarity actions that many people all over the world have taken against the Israel attacks.

We exert strong pressure on the various governments in the Middle East to provide space for their people to express freely their position on the issue and allow them to extend support to the people of Gaza. We denounce those governments who cheer on the Israeli government for the latter’s wanton display of brute military violence.

We likewise call for the provision of full access to all journalists to the region.

We call for more expression of this solidarity as we not only hold protest actions but gather material and medical support for the people of Gaza. In the midst of the global financial crisis, the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip, have experienced hardship, poverty and denial at the most extreme sense AND today, they need our help more than ever.

All of us undersigned express our strongest solidarity with the people of Gaza and the whole of Palestine as we call for the immediate and complete halt to these attacks as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli military personnel from the Palestinian territory.

We are one with them and the people of the Middle East as well as the international community in resisting these attacks of the US-backed Israeli Zionist government.

Signed:
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA, formerly Asian Students Association)
Asian Centre for the Progress of Peoples
Association for the Advancement of Feminism
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Hong Kong (BAYAN HK)
Baseer Navid
Civil Human Rights Front
Hong Kong Christian Institute
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
International League of Peoples’ Struggle Hong Kong
League of Social Democrats
Leung Kwok Hung, HK Legislator
Pakistani Islamic Welfare Union
United Filipinos in Hong Kong
World Student Christian Federation-Asia Pacific
Wu Lo-sai, Rose

Reference: Rey Asis of Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (9588 9491)

Photos: UP Community: Justice for Palestine! Lighting candles to protest the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza

January 15, 2009

UP Community: Justice for Palestine!

Lighting candles to protest the Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza

UP Diliman Campus

January 8, 2009

Faculty, students and employees of UP light candles to protest the US-backed Israeli  War of Agrression on Gaza. Shown above, L-R: Dr. Noli Reyes, UP Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid, UP Faculty Regent Prof. Judy Taguiwalo,  Prof. Epifanio San Juan of the US-based Cultural Studies Group, and Prof. Harry Roque of the UP College of Law.

UP Faculty Regent Prof. Judy Taguiwalo

UP Student Regent Shahana Abdulwahid

Streetwise By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

War of Terror in Gaza

Remember Sabra and Shatilla?

These were the two Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon where an estimated 1,700 to 3,500 civilian residents — men, women and children — were massacred in 1982 by pro-Israel Lebanese phalangist militia units with the protective shield and go-ahead of Israeli Defense Forces. IDF commander Gen Ariel Sharon was found “indirectly responsible” for the massacres and was forced to resign. But he eventually went on to be Israel Prime Minister after several years.

This long record of impunity for the Israeli government in barefaced aggression and military overkill, perpetrating gross human rights violations, war crimes and even genocide must be seen in the context of unshakeable US backing – military, economic, political and diplomatic.

With the acquiescence of the other big powers, this unstinting and continuing US support explains in large part the destructiveness, brutality and callousness exhibited by the IDF in the recent attacks on Gaza. Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir said that no matter how clever or powerful Israel was it would not be able to carry out the offensive without the US acting as a “big brother” providing the money and the weaponry for Israel’s renewed war of aggression.

Thus, the US is “much more guilty than even the Israelis” for the civilian carnage and the ratcheting up of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East. Israel remains the single biggest recipient of US aid getting a hefty US $3 billion annually.

A country of approximately 6 million people, it is currently receiving more US aid than all of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean taking out Egypt and Colombia. It has a nuclear arsenal that would be the envy of any of the countries named by US President Bush as constituting an “axis of evil”.

Despite international outcry against mounting civilian casualties and the massive humanitarian crisis the Israeli assault has given rise to, the US government is unrelenting in its support. The US sabotaged a draft UN resolution that called for a ceasefire, addressing the humanitarian crisis, as well as the resumption of peace talks. It rejected calls for Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and attacked the proposed resolution for not condemning Hamas’ firing rockets into Southern Israel as “terrorist” acts.

In fact, it was Israel that had made a months-old truce untenable by keeping Gaza under siege. Since Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006, Israel, Washington and the West have withheld recognition and all outside aid; an economic embargo and sanctions were imposed; and the legitimate government subjected to vilification and political isolation.

The Israeli government claims that Hamas initiated the hostilities by raining rockets on Israeli villages are belied by reports that IDF forces had earlier intruded into Palestinian territory purportedly to close off tunnels allegedly used by Hamas to smuggle arms and had killed six Hamas officers in the process.

Since the six-month ceasefire ended, Israeli troops have crossed the border several times, while Hamas resumed shelling nearby Israeli towns. US President Bush immediately justified Israel’s attack by demonizing the Hamas regime as a “terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria.”

US Secretary of State Rice strongly rejected outright any ceasefire that didn’t meet Israel’s conditions. President-elect Barack Obama, heretofore silent on the raging global issue, finally expressed “deep concern” for the loss of civilian life after Israeli tank shells killed at least 40 Palestinians at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter on the third day of the invasion.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is certainly not about Israel and Palestine alone. It is about oil. It is about who controls the Middle East. And it is about the US drive for world domination currently in the guise of a US-instigated “global war on terror”.

Mainstream media have always portrayed and explained the conflict in terms of the Palestinians’ struggle to return to their homeland, on one hand, and the Israeli state’s right to exist on the other. But in fact, from the very start, world powers have manipulated and even instigated the conflict according to their interests and designs, the ordinary Palestinians and Israelis be damned.

To begin with, the British government played a central role in arranging for the migration of tens of thousands of Jews to Palestine and in violently displacing the Palestinians from their lands.

Then, the US engineered the lopsided 1948 UN resolution to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. The Palestinians rejected the resolution, rightfully protesting that they were not consulted, and the partition favored the Jews heavily. The resulting armed conflict ended in the Palestinians’ defeat, mass expulsion from Palestine and their seeking refuge in neighboring Arab states.

To this date, their just struggle to return to their homeland continues. With the intensification of the Cold War after the Korean War and the rise in Arab nationalism and unity in the late 50s, the Middle East became a flashpoint with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in focus. The so-called Arab-Israel wars, ostensibly over the Palestinian issue, were in fact proxy wars by the world superpowers for control of the Middle East, with Israel serving as the US’ surrogate force against the Soviet-backed Arab states.

Since then, and especially with the emergence of the US as sole superpower, Israel has grown into a bully whose arrogance, brutality and ruthlessness is matched only by its mentor and backer, the US.

The International League for People’s Struggle in a statement condemning the invasion and the escalating massacre of the Palestinian people said, “The US has used Israel as the bridgehead of US imperialist hegemony in the Middle East and as the platform for threatening and blackmailing countries in the region, making them military and political clients and controlling the oil resources.”

One does not have to be partisan for Hamas or against the Israeli government to acknowledge the truth articulated by UN President Miguel d’Escoto Brockman on the day of the Gaza airstrikes, “The behavior by Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that it illegally occupies.”#

Dr. Roland Tolentino, Chair of CONTEND-UP

Prof. Harry Roque of UP College of Law

Prof. Danilo Arao of Department of Mass Communication

Prof. Epifanio San Juan, Dircetor of US-based Cultural Studies Group

UP studnets decried the destruction of school facilities in Gaza and the slaughter of children and the Israeli blockade of humanitarian and coming from all parts of the world

Dr

Dr. Epifanio San Juan, left, and Dr. Fidel Nemenzo, with Dr. Delia Aguilar

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

Tani Basman, President of the UP Muslim Students Association

January 9, 2009

Press Statement

Liga ng Kabataang Moro calls for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel Zionism

Following the current massive military attack in Gaza Strip, the Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM) released a statement condemning the latest overkill launched yet again by the Israeli government against the Palestinian people.

The LKM joins several other progressive Moro organizations gathered today to protest the US-backed Israeli War Crimes.

“Today’s action is part of Mindanao-wide Day of Action to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and to demand an immediate end to the murderous attacks carried out by the Israeli military that once again on the brink of a full-scale war,” said Yousri Usop, Chairman of LKM, Notre Dame University Chapter.

This escalation, he fears, can only lead to another round of bloodletting and destruction.

The group holds the Israeli government and its primary ally, the United States, responsible for the said condemnable act.

This latest phase in the long-running tragedy in the Middle East began in December 27, 2008 when Israel bombarded Gaza leading to the death of 683 innocent women, children and the elderly and more than 3,085 injured since Israel began its offensive 13 days ago.

Palestinian fighters captured an Israeli soldier in exchange of some of the 10,000 Palestinian detainees held by Israel. Under international law, the soldier is a legitimate target in a legitimate resistance operation by an occupied people. Yousri said “all hell then broke loose as Israel began an all-out military assault on Gaza.”

The protesting Moro youth organization claims that it is clearly another manifestation of overkill. It bombarded civilian infrastructure, including bridges and power stations, leaving over a million civilians without water supply and hundreds of sick people in hospitals without access to medication.

Over 683 individuals have been killed and thousands have become refugees. The grossly disproportionate use of force and the collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people are flagrant violations of international law.

LKM related the Israeli attack to the present war in Mindanao Usop said, “This is what the US-puppet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is doing in its present war in Mindanao against our Muslim compatriots.”

“More than 600,000 people have lost their homes and more than 200 have died since August 2008 when the full-scale war broke out. Many of the victims are women and children.”

The protest calls for a Stop to the US-Backed GMA Regime’s War in Mindanao and against the people of Gaza!” The current condition of the refugees is not getting any better, they claimed, because for the past 18 months there is little or no medicine to treat the wounded, electricity, food or clean water for much of the population.

“We demand that Israel should immediately end its military offensive on Gaza, free all Palestinian detainees from Israeli jails, and end the occupation of Palestine and people’s right to sovereignty and self determination be respected,” the Moro youth group demanded.

“We also demand that the Philippine government recalls its ambassador from Israel and begin the process of severing all diplomatic ties with that state until it complies and take a stand in favor of international law and justice, summon the Israeli ambassador to protest, and expressly condemn Israel for its actions. In solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.”

“In solidarity with the Palestinians and Israeli people opposed to war, we call for a global boycott and sanctions campaign against Israel.

Reference: Marbawi Edza -LKM,Spokesperson,

Cotabato City State Polytechnic College-Chapter

09264010386

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

Photo by Prof. Sarah Raymundo

(Photos Courtesy of Prof. Sarah Raymundo)

Arkibong Bayan

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 1

January 14, 2009

Images of Gaza massacre and destruction – Part 1

From:

The other side of the story

http://palestinian.ning.com/forum/topics/the-other-side-of-the-story


PDI Commentary: Our indifference to Gaza

January 14, 2009

By H. Harry L. Roque Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:29:00 01/14/2009

It is unfortunate that the crisis at the Gaza Strip has taken a back seat to two ongoing domestic issues: those of the Alabang boys and the Pangandaman Valley Golf incidents. While perhaps the distant location of Gaza and its lack of “soap opera” appeal may largely be to blame for the lack of serious discussion on the Gaza issue, it is imperative that equal importance be accorded to Gaza since it involves important rule of law issues that are equally relevant to the Philippines, what with our armed conflicts against the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as well as our unresolved territorial controversies that may also lead to further armed conflicts.

Thus far, the bulk of the reportage by Philippine media on the Gaza crisis has been on the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who continue to be stranded in the place of conflict. This is a sorry reflection of how Philippine foreign policy has been crafted of late: parochially reduced only to how events overseas may directly affect our overseas workers constituting the Diaspora. Not much has been said as to why there are mammoth rallies around the globe against this latest instance of Israeli adventurism. That is, that by unilaterally resorting to the use of force, Israel has again showed its defiance of International Law, which prohibits the use of force and restrictively allowing the same only to circumstances constituting self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council of the United Nations. Imperfect as the UN may presently be, it has nonetheless been largely instrumental in preventing what the UN Charter describes as “scourges of war.” This prohibition on the use of force is in fact the most important rule stated in the UN Charter and one that has proven largely effective in preventing armed conflicts of the scale that ravaged humanity in the past two world wars.

Why Israel has not opted to have the Hamas issue debated in the Security Council is open to speculation. The fact though is that if the missile attacks are indeed threats to international peace, the international community has already granted the Security Council primary jurisdiction to deal with these types of threats. For Israel and its ally, the United States, to now insist on unilateral use of force is a blatant disregard of a cardinal rule recognized by all civilized states.

Israel of course will claim that its recent offensive is but an exercise of self-defense. In fact, it has stated that it will only stop when and if Hamas stops launching missiles into Israeli territory. But the question is: self-defense against whom?

Hamas is a non-state party that Israel accuses of operating in the territory of its neighboring states. Without accusing either Palestine or Lebanon of aggression, it has waged wars against both these states solely on the ground that Hamas operatives are found in the territories of these two states.

Meanwhile, the death toll as a result of the crisis continues to rise. Among the victims are protected individuals under humanitarian law, such as civilians, including women and children. What is the sense, for instance, of targeting even the 11 children and four wives of an alleged Hamas leader? Has there since developed a principle attributing criminal guilt to a person solely by virtue of family relations?

The fact that Israel has been targeting civilian homes is a breach of humanitarian law itself since the Geneva conventions prohibit combatants from targeting civilian infrastructures. And yes, the fact that Israel has been violating the non-derogable norms of humanitarian law apparently with impunity is equally deplorable since these grave breaches weaken the rule-enforcing value of the law. Why should our own soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, desist from targeting civilians when the Israelis have seemingly gotten away with it?

Ultimately the Gaza issue should be accorded equal importance as the case of the Alabang boys and the Valley Golf incident because it undermines the rule of law on the prohibition against the unilateral use of force and the non-derogable rule according protection to civilians and other non-combatants in times of armed conflicts. The Gaza issue could spell disaster to countries like the Philippines. For while Israel may have the confidence to engage in military adventurism and commit grave breaches of humanitarian law owing to its superior military strength, countries like the Philippines can only rely on other countries’ compliance with the rule of law against threats of these nature. Think of the Spratlys. Think of China. Think of Malaysia. Think of terrorists operating in Mindanao. This is why Filipinos should take the Gaza incident more seriously. Because unless the rule of law is observed, our “tora-tora” planes will simply be no match to the military might of our potential state adversaries.

Prof. H. Harry L. Roque Jr. teaches Public International Law at the UP College of Law and at the Philippine Judicial Academy. He is also chair of the Center for International Law (CENTERLAW).

Photos: BAYAN – USA in Los Angeles joins protest against the US-backed Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

January 14, 2009

BAYAN – USA in Los Angeles joins protest

against the US-backed Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Gaza

IIn front of Israeli Consulate, Los Angeles, CA, USA

January 2 , 2009

Los Angeles, CA – January 2, 2008 – BAYAN-USA, a member of the International Migrants Alliance, stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Gaza is not alone! Solidarity in Greece

On Saturday 3 January a massive and combative demonstration took place in the center of Athens and marched towards the Zionist embassy. Thousands of people responded to the call of the Palestinian Community, of the Greek Social Forum and of the Left organizations (with the exception of the “Communist Party of Greece” – KKE). With slogans against the Zionist murderers and their accomplices, the USA, the EU and the so-called “international community”, and throwing stones, the people resisted for long time the attacks of the Police Special Forces. The Police attacked with chemicals in an attempt to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the embassy.

The spirit of the demonstration, one of the biggest of the last years, was characterized by outrage for the Zionist crimes, anger for the pro-US, pro-Israel stand of the Greek government, and by resolute spirit of solidarity. The main slogans scanded also by the block of the Communist Organization of Greece were:

“Bush-Olmert murderers! Victory to the Intifada! Freedom for Palestine!”
“The people does not want them here – Throw the Zionist embassy out of Greece”
“Solidarity is the peoples’ weapon – War against the imperialist war”
“Zionist pigs murderers: Gaza is not alone”
“Bush and Olmert kill, Karamanlis and Papandreou applaude”
“USA and EU, accomplices in the crime”
“No justice, No peace – Solidarity with Palestine”
“The real terrorists are in the embassies of USA and Israel”

Similar demonstrations took place also in Thessaloniki and other Greek cities. Today Sunday 4 January in the afternoon a new demonstration is called by the Palestinian Community, the Greek Social Forum, the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA), etc. Unfortunately, and despite the plea of the Palestinian Community to organize one common demonstration, the KKE refused and will organize its own separate “peaceful march” 1 hour earlier… The same happened in Thessaloniki.

The Communist Organization of Greece calls upon the Youth and the People of Greece to get into the streets, to take part in the mobilizations organized by the Palestinian Community and the Left, and to express their outrage for the Zionist criminal aggression and for the shameful complicity of the Greek government.

All out to the streets!
Throw out of Greece the embassy of the Zionist murderers!
Unconditional support to the Palestinian Resistance!

*****
Communist Organization of Greece / Kommounistiki Organosi Elladas (KOE)
International Relations Department

Email: laokratia@yahoo.com * aristera@tellas.com
Web: http://www.koel.gr * In English: international.koel.gr

Post address: Newspaper “Left!” * Isaia Salonon 6 * 11475 Athens, Greece
Phone: +30 210 6441745 * Fax: +30 210 6430024
*****

UN chief demands Gaza ceasefire

Ban Ki-Moon: ‘Civilians in Gaza are being subjected to massive trauma’

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate end to fighting in the Gaza Strip during a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

The US and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have backed a French-Egyptian ceasefire proposal.

Israel says it has agreed to set up a humanitarian corridor to allow aid into the Gaza Strip.

On the ground in Gaza, explosions were heard through the night. Israel says it carried out more than 30 air strikes.

Mr Ban criticised both Israel for its bombardment of Gaza and Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and urged Security Council members in New York to act “swiftly and decisively to put this crisis to an end”.

Map


“We need urgently to achieve Palestinian unity and the reunification of Gaza with the West Bank within the framework of the legitimate Palestinian Authority,” he added.

More than 600 Palestinians are now believed to have been killed since Israel began its offensive 11 days ago. Palestinian health ministry officials say at least 195 children are among those killed.

An Israeli attack on Tuesday on a school building, which Israel says was sheltering militants, left at least 30 people dead and 55 injured, UN officials say.

Israel, which has vowed to reduce rocket attacks from Gaza on its territory, has lost seven soldiers on the ground. Four people within Israel have been killed by rockets.

In another development, Venezuela ordered the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador in protest at the Gaza offensive and its “flagrant violations of international law”.

Support for truce

The ceasefire plan proposed jointly by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy would bring together all the main parties and take all measures to end the conflict in Gaza.

The plan envisages the resumption of the delivery of aid to Gaza and talks with Israel on border security, a key issue for Israel as it says Hamas smuggles its rockets into Gaza via the Egyptian border.

Welcoming the proposal, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for a “ceasefire that can endure and that can bring real security”.

The contours of a possible diplomatic agreement are in place, the BBC’s Laura Trevelyan reports from the UN.

GAZA CRISIS BACKGROUND

Smoke rises over Gaza (06/01/2009)


However, if Israel continues to control the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza and can choose to stop it at any time this seems unlikely to command the support of Hamas, she notes.

Thus frenetic diplomacy in New York and in the Middle East is likely to continue.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, did not say whether Israel would accept the proposal but said it would take it “very, very seriously”.

Israel has proposed suspending attacks in specified parts of Gaza to allow people to stock up on essential goods.

The military will open up “areas for limited periods of time, during which the population will be able to receive the aid”, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said.

Andrew Whitley of the UN relief agency told the BBC that any relief in the conditions of the people of Gaza could only be a good thing:

“People have been weakened by 18 months of blockade and siege. They’ve been getting very little food, electricity or heat for a long time, and so they are in a very weakened condition.”

School carnage

UN officials have said that the al-Fakhura school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was being used as a refuge for hundreds of people when it was hit by Israeli shell-fire.

The BBC’s Rushdi Abu Alouf reports from a UN school inside a Gaza refugee camp

The Israeli military said its soldiers had come under mortar fire from Hamas militants inside the school. A spokesman for Hamas denied there had been any hostile fire coming from the school.

In all, at least 70 Palestinians and five Israeli soldiers were killed on Tuesday.

Israel says its offensive is stopping militants firing rockets but at least five hit southern Israel on Tuesday, injuring a baby.

Casualty claims in Gaza cannot be independently verified. Israel is refusing to let international journalists into Gaza, despite a supreme court ruling to allow a limited number of reporters to enter the territory.

(Photos Courtesy of Bayan-USA)

Arkibong Bayan

Photos: Protest rally at the Israeli Embassy in Makati City condemns the massacre of Palestinian people

January 14, 2009

Protest rally at the Israeli Embassy in Makati City

condemns the massacre of Palestinian people

January 6, 2009

Bayan Chair and ILPS Officer Dr. Carol P. Araullo

Moro Representative

OFFICE OF THE CHAIRPERSON

ILPSheader

Press Statement

4 January 2009

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI GROUND INVASION OF GAZA

AND THE ESCALATING MASSACRE OF PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Chairperson, International Coordinating Committees

International League of Peoples’ Struggle

Since December 27, 2008, the US-supported Zionist Israel has carried out a war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza. It has launched air strikes by F-16 jet planes and Apache helicopters and artillery shelling by naval vessels in order to massacre hundreds and injure thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and destroy their homes, mosques, schools, public buildings, oil depots, power plants, water facilities  and other infrastructure.

The massacre of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their public and private properties are being rapidly escalated with the ground invasion of Gaza by thousands of Israeli troops and tanks since evening yesterday.  The aggressors have interdicted food and medicine supplies. They have destroyed all the sources of fuel and power and have thus disabled vehicles and the hospitals.  They have killed Palestinian medical personnel and have prevented ambulances from reaching the victims of aerial bombardments, shelling by naval artillery and strafing by ground forces.

The US imperialists are hellbent on letting the Zionists wreak death and destruction on the Palestinian people without limit and with complete impunity.  They have publicly incited the Zionists to escalate their aggression and have blocked every effort in the UN Security Council to pass a ceasefire resolution and to stop the carnage.  Together with the Zionists in Israel, they want nothing less than the complete surrender and subjugation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in the whole of Palestine.

US imperialism is being consistent and true to its evil nature. It has supplied Israel with all the military, political and economic resources to wage aggression repeatedly against the Palestinian people since 1948, occupy Palestine and drive away millions of Palestinians from their homeland.  The US has used Israel as the bridgehead of US imperialist hegemony in the Middle East and as the platform for threatening and blackmailing countries in the region, making them military and political clients and controlling the oil resources.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, reiterate in the strongest terms our condemnation of the US-supported war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and once more declare our solidarity with and support for the entire Palestinian people in their resistance against Zionist Israel and its US imperialist master.

In this regard, we also criticize and condemn those governments in the Middle East that collaborate with the US in supporting Israel directly and indirectly, delivering the oil resources of the region to the US oil giants and suppressing the resistance of the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples in the Middle East. It is a shame that the overwhelming number of Arab people are prevented by their governments from extending the most effective support to the Palestinian people.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, stand in solidarity with the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples of the world in the struggle against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism.  Once more we call on all member-organizations and allies of the ILPS to initiate as well as join protest mass actions and other activities that express and gather militant support for the resistance of the Palestinian and Arab peoples against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism. ###

Press Statement
December 29, 2008

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATTACKS
ON THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN GAZA

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle condemns the murderous and cowardly air strikes and artillery fire unleashed by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza. These have already resulted in the indiscriminate killing of more than 300 people and the wounding of more than a thousand people and the destruction of office and apartment buildings, mosques, school buildings, and infrastructure. The attacks are still being escalated and the Israeli military forces have been ordered to mobilize for a fullscale invasion and reoccupation of Gaza.

The ILPS likewise condemns the US in the strongest terms for justifying and encouraging the Zionist acts of terrorism and for blaming the Palestinian people for the barbaric crimes committed by Israel against them. US imperialism has long propped up Zionist Israel, supplied to it the most powerful weapons and enabled it to commit acts of aggression, occupy Palestine for so many decades and deprive the Palestinian people of their homeland and squeeze them in a small piece of land like Gaza, which is now walled in on all sides.

It is utter mendacity and hypocrisy worthy of war criminals and mega-terrorists for both the US and Israel to put the blame on Palestine and the Palestinian people for the ongoing large-scale crimes of aggression and oppression committed by Israel against them and for the impending Israeli invasion and reoccupation of Gaza. The current call of Israel for all-out war reminds us all of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in recent times and how far Israel can go in committing crimes against humanity with complete impunity with the encouragement and support of the US imperialists and the acquiescence of the other imperialist powers.

The ILPS stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national salvation and independence and for the defense of all their human and democratic rights against the onslaughts of the US-backed Israeli aggressors. We join the Palestinian and Arab people and the entire humankind in condemning the US-supported crimes of aggression of Israel and in demanding that Israel stop its scheme of all-out war of aggression.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle therefore calls on all its member-organizations and all its allies throughout the world to carry out mass campaigns to condemn the US-Israeli collusion in the war of aggression against Palestine and the Palestinian people, to demand the end of such horrible war and to discourage and prevent Israel from using its military might to slaughter the Palestinian people. ###

Press Statement
January 6, 2009

BAYAN Statement for the Protest Action Condemning Israel’s Siege of Gaza

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan joins the people of the world in condemning the brutal armed aggression of Israel against the Palestinian people in the Gaza. The 8-day airstrikes followed by the ground invasion of Gaza is the latest in the long list of atrocities committed by Israel against the Palestinians under the Occupation.

Israel justifies its armed aggression by saying it is a response to the rocket attacks of Hamas on Israel. This view is also supported by Israel’s # 1 ally, the United States. What Israel refuses to acknowledge is the broader context wherein this violence is happening. The actions of Hamas should be seen in the context of the brutal, more than half-century occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel. In the case of Gaza, while Israel has pulled out its troops and settlements over the past three years, Israel has effectively set up an economic blockade that systematically and collectively punishes, starves and kills the Palestinian people.

The residents of Gaza have been denied any meaningful economic activity as a result of the blockade. For months now, Israel has prevented food, medicine, and fuel from reaching Gazans. Even during the time of the airstrikes, Israel has prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Gaza as it has prevented Gazans from seeking refuge and hospital treatment outside.

It is the brutal occupation which has pushed the Palestinian people to armed resistance. It is the occupation that is the main stumbling block to a meaningful peace. It is Israel’s refusal to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian State which is the root cause of violence in that region.

In light of the historical circumstances of Israeli occupation, the current offensive against the Palestinian people can never be justified.

We condemn in the strongest terms the US government for its political and military support for Israel. For decades now, US government has encouraged and supported Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its armed aggression against the Palestinian people. The US government not only provides billions of dollars of military aid to Israel, it also uses its veto power in the United Nations to support the cause of Israel. Recently, the US government rejected a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution, a clear indication that the US supports the attacks on Gaza.

We call for an end to the siege of Gaza and for immediate relief for the Palestinian people ravaged by the Israeli armed offensives. We call for an end to the inhumane blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza and for allowing much-needed aid to be brought to Gazans.

We call for an end to the Israeli occupation as the only long-term and viable path to peace. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their fight of genuine self-determination and freedom from oppression.

STOP THE SIEGE! STOP US-ISRAELI AGGRESSION AND TERRORISM!
END THE OCCUPATION! FREE PALESTINE!

5 JANUARY 2009
PRESS RELEASE
Reference: Garry Martinez, Chairperson
Mobile: 0921-7229740

MIGRANTE condemns Israel’s attack on Gaza

As Israeli forces rolled their tanks inside Palestinian territories in the Gaza strip after more than a week of continuous aerial bombardment that left hundreds of innocent civilians killed, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) groups denounced the attacks as “barbaric” and called for the immediate end to Israel’s bloody campaign against the Palestinian people.

“Migrante International joins peace loving peoples throughout the world in condemning US-Israel’s ongoing military assault on Gaza. At the same time, we join the Palestinian people in demanding justice for those killed, hurt and displaced in the attacks. The attacks are undoubtedly fuelled by US imperialism’s intent to lord over the entire Middle East and corner its abundant oil resources,” says Garry Martinez, Chairperson of Migrante International. “We fear that this attack is merely a prelude to more acts of military aggression as the US seeks to recover from the worst financial crisis it has ever faced.”

The group asserted that the US’ role in the ongoing military aggression couldn’t be overly emphasized. They said since the end of World War II, Israel has been the largest recipient of US’ direct military aid. This vicious attack, they said, is proof that the US considers Israel as its jumping board to assert its hegemony over the Middle East.

As of this writing, over 500 Palestinians have been killed and almost 3,000 have been critically wounded inside the 25 mile Gaza strip. The Israeli Defense Force has also mobilized more than 10,000 of its armed reservists to carry out Israel’s biggest military campaign since the 2006 Lebanon war.

Migrante also slammed the Philippine government “for turning a blind eye to the US-Israeli led massacre of the Palestinian people,” and challenged the Arroyo regime to make a categorical stand in denouncing the attacks.

“We have 120 Filipinos inside strife-torn Gaza and more than 30,000 inside Israel. We believe these are enough reasons for this regime to join the chorus of nations in denouncing US-Israel’s attack on Gaza. This is the best contingency plan that the Arroyo regime can undertake if only to ensure the lives of our kababayans who will surely be caught in the crossfire,” says Martinez, whose wife is currently an OFW in Israel. ###

06 January 2009
His Excellency Zvi AVINER-VAPNI, AEP
Ambassador
Israel Embassy
23rd Floor, Trafalgar Plaza 105 H.V. dela Costa Street,
Salcedo Village, Makati City

Dear Ambassador VAPNI,

Shalom! The SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns, a nationwide alliance of children’s organizations and child rights-based institutions here in the Philippines, strongly condemns and protests the aerial attacks of Israeli army to Gaza’s civilian populated areas that started last December 27, 2008. It is sad to see hundreds of civilians, mostly children, killed with Israeli aerial bombing strikes while thousands more were injured.

The subsequent ground operations conducted by your government’s troops last January 3 which continues to date showed the true objectives of your government’s intention in Palestine occupied territories, which is to annihilate the Palestinian people, and illegally deny them of their homeland.

We are witness to the long struggle of Palestinian people against Zionism, racism and human rights violations committed by Israel’s army with the support of the United States. Worst, the current Israeli’s invasion of Gaza deprives hundreds if not thousands of children their right to life, protection and development.

The recent occupation of Israel’s forces in Gaza, is a violation of existing international laws. The wanton destruction of civilian property, killing and maiming of children and minors further aggravates the violation of Israel to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child wherein Israel is a signatory. It is clearly stated in UNCRC that every child should be protected at all times most especially during war. The fact that airstrikes by the Israeli army and the subsequent ground assaults which victimized children, including very young children, makes your government liable of genocide and infanticide.

We appeal to you to immediately call for a stop to the attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and give the Palestinian people especially the children, their dignity to live peacefully as one country… Palestine.

Stop killing Palestinian children!

Stop US-Israel Aggression against Palestine!
Stop Israeli Attacks on Gaza! Stop the siege of Gaza!
Israeli Troops Out of Gaza Now!
End the Occupation! FREE Palestine!

(sgd)
Mr. Alphonse Rivera
Officer in charge

Bayan Muna condemns the US-backed Israeli invasion of Gaza; calls for an end to the war against the Palestinian people

Bayan Muna strongly condemns the US-backed Israel war of aggression and calls for an immediate pullout of its troops in Gaza. We support all international diplomatic efforts to put a stop to the war that can slaughter more of the 1.5 million Palestinian people, including women, children and elderly. The Palestinian people must be given justice. Their right to exist and to remain in their homeland must be respected.

Since December 27, 2008 Israeli government air bombardment, artillery shelling and the ongoing ground invasion have massacred hundreds and injured thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Homes, places of worship, hospitals, schools, government offices, oil depots, fishing ports, power plants, water facilities and other infrastructure are systematically being destroyed. Food, medicine, and medical personnel are being blocked by Israeli troops.

We likewise denounce the US government’s full support to the Israeli Zionist aggression versus the Palestinian people. It has stymied every effort in the United Nations Security Council to pass an urgent ceasefire resolution to stop the carnage. It continues to supply Israel with military

and economic aid to starve, subjugate, and evict the Palestinian people from their homeland since 1948. The US has also used Israel as an effective springboard for controlling oil resources in the Middle East, with most governments in the region rendered servile to US hegemonic interests.

We also decry the Macapagal-Arroyo government for its deafening silence when a growing number of the world’s peoples and leaders are calling for a stop to the carnage in Gaza. We urge the Philippine government to condemn the Israeli invasion of the battered Palestinian enclave that has also put in grave danger the lives and livelihood of Filipino expatriates working in Gaza. The Philippine government should support mounting calls for the pullout of Israeli forces in the Gaza strip.

The international community of nations and peoples must work for an immediate ceasefire so urgent humanitarian concerns can be addressed. We join all governments, parliamentarians, peoples’ organizations and agencies that have criticized, protested and condemned the US-backed Israeli war against Palestine and call for an immediate end of hostilities in the Gaza Strip to stop the loss of life and property there. #

News Release
06 January 2008

ANAKPAWIS ASKS PHIL. GOVERNMENT TO DENOUNCE US-BACKED ISRAELI INVASION IN GAZA

THE MILITANT Anakpawis party-list condemned the escalating Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and asked the Philippine government to denounce the US-backed attack.

“The military offensive has already killed more than 500 Palestines including civilians since the air attacks started last December 27 and escalated into the current ground assault. We ask the Philippine government to denounce the invasion and call for an immediate truce to stop the slaughter. The Hamas rocket attacks are but pinpricks on Israel compared to the sledgehammer pounding of Israel on the 1.4-million Palestines in the Gaza Strip,” Anakpawis secretarty-general Cherry Clemente said.

Anakpawis is set to file a House Resolution on the issue but the 14th Congress is still in recess and has yet to resume session till January 19. It has however joined other militant activists in a protest action today at the Israeli embassy in Makati.

“We likewise denounce the inaction of the US at the UN Security Council on the Arab proposals for an immediate truce. There is outright support of the Bush government for the Israeli military attack. Blaming the duly-elected Hamas government in Gaza solely for the turmoil in the region is grossly unjust. The US-backed war will only worsen the local situation and is sure to aggravate the global crisis that the US war on terror has created,” Clemente said.

“The Philippine government shouldn’t reduce the issue on the mere evacuation of Filipino overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and expatriates. Just as the Israeli attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 endangared Filipino lives, the on-going attack on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, while involving lesser number of Filipinos, once again exposed our compatriots to the horrors of an unjust war. The Philippine government should do all it can in the diplomatic community to stop this atrocity and not confine itself to self-seving interests for OFW remittance senders,” Clemente added.

“Failure by the Manila government to denounce the Israeli attack would only show the utter puppetry of Macapagal-Arroyo to the US and her fascist support for the US-led war on terror and Zionist expansion,” Clemente said.

###

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Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy

Itigil ang mga atake sa Gaza! Itigil ang agresyon at terorismo ng US-Israel!
Enero 6, 2009

Kami, sa Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) ay mariing kumukundena sa walang habas na pagpaslang, pambobomba at pagyurak sa karapatang pantao ng sambayanang Palestino sa kamay ng imperyalismong Estados Unidos at ng mga papet na mga pamahalaan katulad ng Israel.

Batayang karapatang pantao na kinikilala ng United Nations ang karapatan ng mga bayang itakda ang kanilang pagsasarili. Sa mahabang kasaysayan ng pakikibaka ng mga bayan para sa pambansang kalayaan, parati nang sumasagabal dito ang mga reaksyonaryong pwersa ng imperyalismo at mga lokal na pamahalaang papet na kakuntsaba nito. Pilit na sinusupil ng mga ito ang karapatan ng mga tao sa pagsasarili sa kadahilanang mawawalan sila ng kontrol hindi lamang sa mga estratehikong likas yaman kundi pati na rin sa mga geo-estratehikal na posisyon ng pagpapalawak pangmilitar.

Muli na namang pinatunayan ito sa kasalukuyang nagaganap na pagpapatindi ngkarahasan laban sa mga mamamayang Palestino. Nagbunga ang walang patid na pambobomba at pag-atake sa mga pamayanan sa daan-daang bilang ng mga nasawi,libo- libong nasugatan, at mahahalagang pasilidad pambayan na nasalanta. Lalo pang pinatindi ang pagdurusa ng mga mamamayan sa pagtanggi ng agresibong pamahalaang Israel na makapasok ang mga lehitimong tulong panghumanitarian para maampat ang pagdurusa ng sambayanang sinasakop.

Sa kaso ng Palestina, nagkukubli ang Israel sa lambong ng kunwang pakikibaka nito laban sa terorismo upang siya mismong maglunsad ng teroristang pag-atake sa mga pamayanang Palestino.Pinalala pa ito ng matagalang blockade na pumigil sa pagpasok kahit ng mga batayang pangangailangan gaya ng suplay ng gamot, pagkain,inumin, at gamit sa ospital at kabahayan na inilunsad ng Israel ilang buwan na ang nakakaraan. Ang pagpayag at pagdepensa ng Estados Unidos bilang amo ng Israel sa nagaganap na karahasan ng kanyang kliyenteng estado, at ang patuloy napagsuporta nito sa mga teroristang pag-atake ng Israel sa mga karatig-bayan ang patunay ng sabwatang nagaganap at ang pag-uugat ng suliranin sa pusod ng imperyalistang bayan. Higit na nakababahala, binabaog ng Estados Unidos at Israel ang maraming resolusyon ng United Nations na kumikilala sa karapatan ng mga Palestinong magsarili at pumupula sa agresyong isinasakatuparan ng magkakuntsabang Estados Unidos-Israel.

Hindi mapipigilang maiugnay ito sa nagaganap na isa pang sentro ng tunggalian sa Middle East. Sa kalagayan ng Iraq, ang di matapos-tapos na karahasan laban sa mga pamayanan ng Iraqi matapos ang ilang taon ng pananakop ng Estados Unidos ang siyang nagdudulot ng lubusang paghihirap sa mga pamayanang Iraqi. Muli, sa lambong ng pagtugis sa terorismo, patuloy ang pag-atake sa mga sibilyan at mga pamayanan na sa bandang huli ay siyang magtitiyak sa geo-estratehikal naposisyon ng Estados Unidos sa pagkontrol sa likas-yaman ng Middle East.

Sa gitna na pandaigdigang krisis ng kapitalismo na sila rin ang may Kagagawan,isinasaka tuparan ng mga imperyalistang bayan ang pagpapatindi ng pakikidigma upang maisalba ang kanilang naghihingalong interes militar at industriyal. Isinasakatuparan ito kahit na magdulot ng pananakop at pagsasamantala sa mga inaaping bayan.

Sa diwa ng pandaigdigang kapatiran at pakikiisa ng mga inaaping sambayanan,naglalaa ng tinig ang CONTEND sa pandaigdigang pagkundena sa terorismong inilulunsad ng Israel at Estados Unidos laban sa mga mamamayang Palestino.

Itigil ang mga atake sa Gaza! Itigil ang agresyon at terorismo ng US-Israel!
Katarungan para sa mga biktimang Palestino ng mga atake ng US-Israel!
Igiit ang kasarinlan ng bayang Palestine!
Mabuhay ang pandaigdigang anti-imperyalistang prente!

From the blog of Prof. Sarah Raymundo, CONTEND’s Secretary General and ACT National Treasurer

Gaza Gazing
January 3, 2009

The spilling of Palestinian blood in Gaza Strip as Israeli bombardment continues (now on its 8th day) demonstrates that this is a one-sided war.

Of course, George Bush blames it on the “terrorist organization” Hamas because, as everybody knows, he is a big fat stupid fly. Meanhwile, Obama’s excuse for his silence is the “fact” that he is not yet president. As though one needs the highest position on earth to take a stand against human slaughter. President Gloria Arroyo must have heard of this yet another barbaric attack on human rights and is by now probably guessing how to milk big bucks from what she probably imagines as one of 2009’s opening salvo.

The historian Khaled Hroub claims that the Hamas is hardly an organization that has a “strong hold” on Gaza Strip. Rather, it is a deeply rooted ideology among the Palestinians in and of the Gaza Strip. But what we can know for sure is this: That at stake in this attack on Gaza is Israel’s interest of turning every space into a West Bank territory where household demolitions have become a normalized feature of everyday life. And the only reason why people from the West Bank have not for the past years been the subjects of Israeli air strikes is because they are “well behaved.” No screwy Hamas to complain nor to challenge Israeli occupation.

So far, we have heard three things from the Israeli Government: 1) that it demands permanent peace in Gaza; 2)that it did not start the fire; 3)that no significant invasion is under way.

But the ferocity of the strikes, the death toll (423 in the past 8 days and 10 more in the past hour), that thick cloud of white smoke that has drenched the northern part of Gaza made apparent yet hyperreal by television, the absolute terror of the Palestinians who barely survive as we speak should all lead us to the conclusion that Israel is not merely exercising its “right to defend itself.”

In one of his more forceful essays (Adrift in Similarity*), Edward Said speaks of an article that “was intended to supply Americans with an original thesis about the “new phase” in world politics after the end of the cold war…(119:2004).” Samuel Huntington (and may he rest in peace despite himself) was banking on a very slick notion of “civilization identity and the interactions among seven or eight [sic] major civilizations, of which the conflict between two of them, Islam and the West, gets the lion’s share of his attention” (Said, 2004:119). After an extended discussion that projects civilization and identity in the most static and essentialist way possible, Huntington argues that the “challenge for Western-policy makers…is to make sure that the West gets stronger and fends off all others, Islam in particular (2004:120).”

The U.S-backed Israeli war on Palestine is none other but the politics of the so-called post-political era of global capitalism. This era is by no means post-political. It is writ with the most hostile of conflicts that are pushed to their extremes by war investors such as Bush and his ilk, and their wager for a thriving military industrial complex through military keynesianism. This context belies the slogan “war solves nothing” because it does save the imperialist economy from total breakdown by creating a particular enemy-terrorist groups-and by subsequently vowing to annihilate them in an atrocious parade of war artillery. Indeed, not only the terrible fraud that was Oslo and Arafat are to be lambasted during these times of stressful spectatorship.

Contrary to its claim as a war against terror,– one that targets particular terrorist groups–this imperialist-led killing is patently racist and colonial. The sustained shelling in Gaza Strip even shows that it cannot target its true enemy, “the terrorists.” There is nothing surgical about the strikes that have affected the non-Jewish general population, 80% of whom are by now incapable of defending themselves; 250,000 of whom are left in the dark on account of busted electrical connection; and 500 people have just turned into refugees who mourn the death of their loved ones as they confront the terror of their own survival.

Tonight as I blog away, food shortage is all over Gaza Strip. And as I respectfully urge all of you to join the indignation protest on Tuesday at the Embassy of Israel in the district of acceptable greed called Makati, the Palestinians of the Strip have nowhere to go since Gaza has been sealed off on all three sides by the Israeli army. It’s a state of war for the people of Gaza. Yet, it is not a war between two equal armies. This leaves us with no reason not to fight on their side.

*in From Oslo to Iraq And the Road Map (2004). New York: Pantheon Books.

The Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy or CONTEND is a progressive organization of academics based in the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

www.freeweb.com/upcontend/

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KMU slams imperialist instigation of Gaza war
Submitted by KMU on Tue, 2009-01-06 11:25. :: English News

Kilusang Mayo Uno joins the international community today in strongly denouncing the latest war of aggression brutally unleashed by the US-Zionist Israeli regime in Gaza.

“Fireworks from tanks, F16s, Apache helicopters and the latest weaponry tainted Gaza’s new year. Imperialist aggression has again demonstrated how it can ruthlessly destroy lives, properties and livelihoods just to preserve itself in power,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog.

Labog claimed that the real culprit can never be clearer, as the US supplies more than US$3 billion of aid, war artillery and vehicles to Israel every year.

“The US resorts to its terrorist-tagging schemes to pin down Palestinians and blame them for starting the chaos. But the Palestinians’ fight for their right to life, liberty, and sovereignty – honed by thousands of years of struggle – are valid and just. They are victims of imperialist interests, just like the rest of the oppressed peoples of the world.”

“The US has all the motives to back Israel, as the renewed attacks can pave the way for their greater control of the Middle East’s natural resources and territory – its precious oil reserves most especially.

“Amid the financial crisis, the US is now more than ever struggling to get hold of the world’s wealth. Wars of aggression such as this serve to suppress the imperialist’s convulsions from the crisis.

“This is no different from the US’ backing up of the war against the MILF and the Moro people in our homeland. In the guise of anti-terrorism, they are threatening to wipe out the strong resistance of the Moro people and use Mindanao in acquiring economic and political hegemony in Asia.

“We warn Gloria Arroyo, one of Uncle Sam’s most favorite puppets, not to deliver support again to this latest war of aggression,” Labog added.

“We are all victims of one war criminal, so we are all called on to partake in this struggle for the liberty and vindication of all. We call on all peace loving people of the world to strongly condemn the US-Zionist Israel war of aggression against the Palestinian people, to call for the immediate end to the Israeli raids and ground assaults in the Gaza strip, and to demand the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli military forces in Palestine.” Labog ended. ###

As of Friday morning, more than 360,000 petitions have been sent!
Please add your voice to the thousands who are demanding: Stop the massacre in Gaza!

Please help get the word out – pass this message along, post it on local bulleting boards & Indymedia,

Sign the Petition Online Now – http://www.iacenter .org/gazapetitio n

Join the ONLINE PETITION initiated by Ramsey Clark – sign on and send the message to President Bush, President-Elect Obama, VP Cheney, VP-Elect Biden, Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of State designate Clinton, Congressional leaders, the U.N. Secretary General, Security Council, the Israeli President, Prime Minister and cabinet, and members of the world media appealing for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza



Urgent Appeal for Israel to Immediately Cease Its Murderous Bombing, Siege and Threatened Invasion of Palestinian Gaza!

To: President George W. Bush, President-Elect Barack Obama, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Designate Hillary Clinton, Vice President Richard Cheney, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. Secretary General Ban, U.N. General Assembly President d’Escoto-Brockmann, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel, and Major media representatives:

For 60 years, Israel has persecuted the Palestinian people with impunity in defiance of United Nations General Assembly and United Nations Security Council Resolutions, orders of the International Court of Justice, International Law and fundamental human rights.

Throughout the years, Israel has proclaimed itself the victim as it grew richer, more powerful and more violent, while

URGENT!

The International Action Center is mobilizing for demonstrations across the U.S. to stop the attack on Gaza, and we are networking with activists across the globe who are taking to the streets against U.S./Israeli war crimes. To view a roundup of the growing number of international actions, see: http://www.iacenter .org/palestine/ gazademos123108.

Please consider making an emergency donation at http://www.iacenter .org/donate
to help with the costs of organizing and mobilizing.

NYC: Gaza Massacre: Emergency Demonstration – Sat. Jan. 3, 1 pm, Times Square

Emergency Demo in Boston, Sat, Jan 3: Stop the US/Israeli Attack on Gaza!

LA event Friday at 4:30 pm at the Israeli Consulate at 6380 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles

Solidarity with heroic Gaza: Statement from the International Action Center – Dec. 27, 2008 / also en Español

Video: Support for Gaza!
http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=E4hejAqOUMY&feature=channel_ page

Palestinians were abused, impoverished, divided and demeaned.

A consistent tactic of Israel through all the years has been to divide Palestinians against their most effective organizations. Through most of the recent years Israel has attacked Fatah. Now it is Hamas that Israel attacks. But there is only one Palestinian people and there can be only one Palestinian State. This has been the guiding principle of the PLO. Israel’s policy has always been to destroy the possibility of a Palestinian State. Its criminal assault on Hamas is in truth Israel’s continuing assault on the possibility of a Palestinian State: divide and conquer.

Now in the waning days of the disastrous Bush Administration, the government of Israel with its Prime Minister under criminal indictment, is testing whether world opinion will permit it to escalate its isolation and impoverishment of Palestine and selective and systematic assassination of Palestinian leadership in Gaza to a genocidal, indiscriminate assault and invasion of Palestinian Gaza, knowing full well its acts will inflame passions throughout the Middle East and Arab and Muslim worlds risking conflict of disastrous magnitude in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, even between India and Pakistan.

Beyond crushing Gaza’s capacity to resist and imposing its final solution on Palestinians, Israel is seeking confrontation that will lead to war with the U.S., the European Union, and NATO fighting for Israel against Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan to impair their ability to prevent expansion of Israel’s domination of the region while the “only one President at a time” the U.S. has, George W. Bush, will support Israel, finding all fault with Gaza.

In these dangerous and difficult days and hours the undersigned call upon the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, NATO members, and European countries independently, the governments of Asia, foremost China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, the nations of Africa, and the Americas to demand an immediate ceasefire throughout Israel and Palestine and the assurance of peace. All borders to Gaza, Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, must be opened for humanitarian relief and a complete arms and trade embargo on Israel until it fully complies with all the requirements of permanent peace.

We call upon all the people, the ultimate power in every nation when organized and energized, to take to the streets where they live and demand that their governments do all in their power to cause Israel to stop its war of aggression against Palestine and for all parties to pursue peace and for Israel, the U.S. and other nations who have provided material support for Israel’s aggression to be held accountable for the deaths, injuries and damage Israel has inflicted.

We call upon governments and humanitarian agencies to provide all needed emergency relief to Palestine – medical care, food, humanitarian supplies, shelter; and on all the media that truly seeks peace, justice and respect for the equal dignity of every child, woman and man on earth to headline the demand that Israel stop its aggression immediately. All parties must engage in continuous negotiation with all Palestinians until a one state solution is agreed or the state of Palestine as mandated not later than October 1948 in UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947) is created, fully implemented, and Palestine thrives.

Sincerely,

Initiated and signed by
Ramsey Clark, winner, 2008 U.N.Human Rights Award and Founder, International Action Center

Add your signature to this letter now – go to http://www.iacenter .org/gazapetitio n

Photos: BAYAN-Canada in Toronto Denounces Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

January 13, 2009

BAYAN-Canada in Toronto
Denounces Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

Toronto, Canada

Janaury 3, 2009

More than 380 people were indiscriminately killed by cowardly air strikes and artillery fire unleashed by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza. Many of the victims are children, women and elderly. The targets have included hospitals, mosques, the Islamic university and other social institutions of the Palestinian people. People in Toronto respond to the international condemnation of this act by the state of Israel to the Palestinian people.

BAYAN-Canada in Toronto
Denounces Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

BAYAN-Toronto, the Toronto section of BAYAN-Philippines, the legal alliance of progressive Filipino organizations, condemns the state of Israel for its bombing and shelling of the Palestinian people in Gaza. As of this writing, 380 people have been killed, including many women and children, over 1000 injured and numerous properties destroyed. This outrage was preceded by many months of siege by Israel to deprive the Palestinian people of necessities like food and medicines in order to try to overthrow the legitimately elected government of Palestine. Its background has been almost 60 years of outrage by Israel against the Palestinian people: ethnic cleansing through wholesale terrorism, illegitimate seizure of Palestinian farms, homes and other properties, daily humiliations, state sponsored torture, collective punishment, racism and systemic discrimination against Arabs and other people of colour, and the turning of what little is left of the Palestinian homeland into a giant prison camp divided into apartheid style reserves or bantustans.

This horror has only been possible because the state of Israel has received yearly, without fail, billions of dollars of economic and military aid from the United States, and unfailing political support from the same and its co-imperialist allies. To its great shame, Canada has not been lacking in its support of Israel’s horrors against the Palestinian people. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has put the blame for the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people on the victims themselves. Shame!

Let us be crystal clear on the character of Israel. Israel is a settler colonial state imposed by European Zionists against the native people of Palestine through deprivation of Palestinian freedom, rights, property, peace, justice, institutions, safely and lives. Israel is a racist state that treats its Arab minority as second class and even mistreats coloured Jews. Israel is a theocracy that discriminates against people on the basis of religion. Israel is a fascist state that engages in systemic torture and collective punishment. This is a society that regularly contemplates in its mass media the utter liquidation of the Palestinian nation as a nation and its effacement from its homeland.

Those who call, therefore, for Israel’s right to self-defence are defending ethnic cleansing, state sponsored terrorism, collective punishment, state use of torture, harassment and humiliation, bulldozing of homes and people, the shooting of women and children, the destruction of infrastructure and all institutions required by the Palestinian people to exist. Shame on Cannon! Shame on Harper and the Conservatives! Shame on the Canadian government! Shame on the Canadian state!

We, Filipinos, are in profound solidarity with the Palestinian people. Though Palestine and the Philippines are on opposite sides of Asia, we have many things in common. Like the Palestinian people, millions of Filipinos are regularly deprived of decent wages, basic rights, and a humane livelihood: collective punishment, torture, imprisonment, exile from our homes, destruction of our economy, destruction of our culture, ethnic cleansing, etc. Some more in Palestine, others more in the Philippines! Though different in specifics, we are both oppressed nations under the boot of US imperialism, and its allies like Canadian imperialism. Whereas the US acts through a proxy settler state against the Palestinian people, its acts through a neocolonial state against the Filipino people. That is all. Now, our Filipino migrant workers in the West Bank too experience daily the racism of their Israeli bosses and other Israelis, on the one hand, and the friendship of Palestinians among whom Filipino migrant workers live, on the other hand.

STOP THE ATTACKS ON GAZA!
JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN VICTIMS OF THE US-ISRAELI ATTACKS!
WITHDRAW US ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL AND THE PHILIPPINES!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

3 January 2009

(Photo Courtesy: Al Calara and Jonathan Canchela)

Arkibong Bayan

The war isn’t over, but Israel has lost

January 13, 2009

Written by Tony Karon
Friday, 09 January 2009
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I. The Last Waltz?
Repeating behaviors that have produced catastrophic failures and expecting a different result is insane; and when a person’s psychotic behavior puts himself and those around him in immediate physical danger, the responsibility of those who claim to be his friends is to restrain him. But even as Waltz With Bashir shows in multiplexes across the world as a grim reminder of the precedent for Israel’s brutal march of folly in Gaza, the US (and the editors of the New York Times and Washington Post) insist that there is a sanity and rationality to sending one of the world’s most powerful armies into a giant refugee camp to rend the flesh and crush the bones of those who stand in its way — whether in defiance or by being unlucky enough to have been born of the wrong tribe and be huddling in the wrong place. By fighting its way to their citadel, they would have us believe, Israel can destroy Hamas and usher in a golden age of peace. Or, to borrow from the casual callousness of Condi Rice during the last such display of futile brutality, we are witnessing, again, the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Israel failed in 2006, just as in 2002 and 1982. This time, they tell us, will be different.

And then the horror unfolds, as it always does — the hundreds of civilians accidentally massacred as they cowered in what they were told were places of safety, mocking Israel’s torrent of self congratulation over its restraint and its brilliant intelligence — and the hopelessly out-gunned enemy manages to survive, as he does every time. And by surviving, grows stronger politically. No matter how many are killed, the leaders targeted by Israel’s military are endlessly regenerated in the fertile soil of grievance and resentment born of the circumstances Israel has created. Circumstances it has created, but which it, and its most fervent backers refuse to acknowledge, much less redress.

Arafat is dead and gone. So are Sheikh Yassin, and Rantissi. And Abbas al-Musawi, and Imad Mughniyeh. Israel’s ruthless efficiency at killing the leaders of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance groups is second to none, and yet, no matter who it kills, there are always thousands more, ready to declare, “I am Spartacus”. That’s because those who step up to lead these organizations are acting not out of personal ambition — leadership in Hamas is a death sentence. The endless stream of Palestinians willing to sacrifice themselves in the role, then, is a symptom of the condition of their people. And Israel’s leaders know this. Asked when running for Prime Minister a decade ago what he’d have done if he’d been born Palestinian, Ehud Barak — the man directing the current operation in Gaza — answered bluntly, “I’d have joined a terror organization.”

By the logic of his own instinct on the campaign trail in 1999, Ehud Barak should know that Operation Cast Lead in Gaza cannot succeed, except, perhaps, in reviving his own political prospects. No matter how many leaders, militants and ordinary civilians Israel kills in Gaza, Hamas — or something like it — will survive.

Waltz With Bashir — a movie that had to be made in Israel, I venture, because questioning Israeli militarism would have been deemed “anti-Semitic” in Hollywood — reminds us that, in 1982, Ariel Sharon led an invasion of Lebanon supposedly aimed at stopping attacks on northern Israel, advancing all the way to Beirut in order to crush the PLO. Sure, the PLO was driven out of Beirut and exiled to Tunisia, but the Israelis were forced within six years to begin negotiating with it because of the uprising of the youth of the West Bank and Gaza. Lebanon in 1982 was a brutal and ultimately futile campaign that delivered only the brutal images of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila around which the movie centers.

Since 1982, of course, Israel has laid siege to and bombed nearly every major Palestinian city, killing and imprisoning thousands of Palestinians, blundering into Lebanon again in 2006 and killing another thousand Lebanese, repeatedly bombed Gaza and choked off its economy for much of the past three years, and yet, nothing has changed: They have killed some 700 in Gaza now, and still the rockets come; regardless of the state of its structures, Hamas is politically stronger on the Palestinian street, while those Palestinian leaders who have cooperated with Israel and the US are weaker and more discredited than ever. The Israelis — and their backers in the American political establishment — appear incapable of grasping that which is empirically obvious: Hamas and its ilk grow stronger every time Israel seeks to eliminate them by force.

II. Dangerous Illusions and a War of Choice

“But what choice did Israel have?” say those in its amen corner in the US. “No normal society would tolerate rocket fire on its territory. Hamas left it no option.”

Well, actually, as Jimmy Carter explains from first-hand experience, Israel had plenty of alternatives and chose to ignore them, because it remains locked into the failed US-backed policy of trying to overturn the democratic verdict of the 2006 Palestinian election that made Hamas the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority. The primary Israeli-US-European strategy here (tacitly backed by Arab autocrats from Mubarak to Mahmoud Abbas) has been to apply increasingly strict economic sanctions, in the hope that choking off the chances of a decent life for the 1.5 million people of Gaza would somehow force them to reverse their political choice. Collective punishment, in other words. So, even when Hamas observed a cease-fire between June and November, Israel refused to open the border crossings. When the exchange of fire began again on November 5 when Israel raided what it said was a Hamas tunnel, Hamas escalated its rocket fire but made clear that it would restore and extend the cease-fire if Israel agreed to open the border crossings. Israel’s answer, Carter explains, was if Hamas ceased firing, Israel would allow 15% of the normal traffic of goods into Gaza. And it’s any surprise that Hamas was not prepared to settle for just a 15% loosening of the economic stranglehold?

Hamas appeared to believe that creating a crisis would force Israel to agree to new terms. Whether this was a mistaken belief or not actually remains to be seen: If the truce that ends Israel’s Operation Cast Lead leaves Hamas intact and includes the lifting of the siege, it will claim vindication. Even now, Israeli leaders continue to insist, idiotically, that Hamas cannot be allowed to achieve any diplomatic gains as a result of any truce that must, of necessity, require its diplomatic cooperation. Just as in 2006, the Israelis have achieved the exact opposite political result to what they intended: They have made it abundantly obvious, even to the incoming US administration, that the policy of trying to isolate Hamas is spectacularly dysfunctional, and will have to be abandoned as a matter of urgency.

Even as the realization begins to dawn that their adversary, once again, will emerge politically stronger from a military pummeling, the Israelis contemplate one last bloody foray into the heart of Gaza City, hoping that military action can weaken Hamas and force it to surrender to Israel’s terms. Some American policymakers even cling to the fantasy that they can reimpose the regime of the pliant Mahmoud Abbas on Gaza — a pathetic fantasy, to be sure, because close observers of Palestinian politics know that the only thing keeping Abbas in charge of the West Bank, right now, is the presence of the Israeli Defense Force, and it’s willingness to lock up his opponents. Conveniently, for example, Abbas doesn’t have to deal with his own legislature, which is dominated by Hamas, because Israel has locked up most of the legislators. Mahmoud Abbas has allowed himself to be turned into a Palestinian Petain, and even much of the rank and file of his own Fatah party has turned against him. Not even the Israelis believe he could control Gaza without them, and they are not inclined to stay.

If Hamas is not allowed to govern in Gaza, chances are that nobody will govern in Gaza. It will look more like Mogadishu than like the West Bank — a chaotic cauldron run by rival warlords, with Hamas — no longer responsible for governance — the most powerful political-military presence (although al-Qaeda will fancy its chances of setting up shop if the Hamas government is overthrown — Hamas is the greatest bulwark against Bin Laden’s crowd gaining a foothold in Gaza).

III. Palestinian Sovereignty

The other trope being desperately worked by Israel’s cheering section is the idea that this is simply another episode of a regional conflict between Israel and its mortal foe, Iran. Hamas, we are told, by many media outlets that ought to know better, is a “proxy of Iran”. This is simply not the case, and sober regional analysts know it: Hamas is certainly dependent on Iranian cash in Gaza, although those Western and Israeli strategic geniuses who deprived it of all other sources of funding ought not be surprised that Hamas turned for funds to those who would offer them. No doubt it will take whatever military assistance it was offered, too. But Hamas shares neither ideology nor the kind of political relationship with Iran that Hizballah does, in Lebanon. Hamas was the creation of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, originally, and its political decision making is entirely independent of Iran. Syria is more politically influential over Hamas, of course, and Syria is hardly a proxy of Iran despite their alliance — if it was, why would the US be working so hard on a diplomatic strategy to break that alliance? Moreover, the idea of Iran on some sort of path of confrontation with Israel is something of a phantom. Sure, Ahmadinejad loves to warn that Israel will disappear, but he, and his superior, have long made clear that Iran has no intention of attacking Israel. And you’d think that those who insist that Iran’s mullahs exist in order to destroy Israel, even at the cost of their own survival (you know, the argument that the iranians are so ideologically committed to Israel’s destruction that normal deterrence policies won’t restrain them) might want to answer this question: Why has Hizballah refrained from firing its massive arsenal of rockets at Israel as it butchers Palestinians in Gaza? Israel tells us they have the means, and there’s no doubt they have the implacable rage. Could the answer be that this Iranian proxy is being restrained by the pragmatic concern for its own survival and progress in Lebanon? And if so, what does this tell us about Iran? Then again, Iran is not especially relevant to the conflict in Gaza.

Nor was the crisis there created by the militancy of Hamas; instead, it’s the final bloody chapter in the failed Bush Administration-Israeli strategy to overthrow Hamas. The alternative to war, ignored by Israel but patently obvious, is simple: It will have to negotiate with Hamas. (And spare me the “but Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist” argument: No Palestinian leader would, if offered the chance to reverse history, allow Israel to have come into existence, for the simple reason that Israel’s emergence was the Palestinian Nakbah, the catastrophe that dispossessed them and made them refugees. Israel started talking to the PLO long before its charter was revised to allow for recognizing Israel; its leaders realized that Israel could not be militarily defeated. Many in Hamas have come to the same conclusion; Efraim Halevy, the former head of Mossad, argues that Hamas is moving towards acceptance of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders. The Americans are simply going to have to let go of the idea that they’re going to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that answers to them, as Mahmoud Abbas does, rather than one that answers to the Palestinian public.)

As Oxford-based Israeli historian Avi Shlaim writes:

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel’s propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel’s terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

Shlaim introduces us to the deeper flaw in the “no normal society would tolerate rocket fire” reasoning: Israel, quite simply, is not a normal society. It is a country without fixed legal borders, and the disputes over where those borders should be drawn — the basic conflict not over religion or ideology, but over land and power — is at the very epicenter of the current clash in Gaza, and of Israel’s never-ending series of wars with those around it.

One can only hope, with great fervor, that Barak Obama has heeded the wisdom of his foreign policy tutor Brent Scowcroft, whose observations about the folly of the Bush Administration backing Israel’s 2006 campaign against Hizballah apply as much to today’s offensive in Gaza: “Hezbollah is not the source of the problem,” Scowcroft wrote in the Washington Post. “It is a derivative of the cause, which is the tragic conflict over Palestine that began in 1948. The eastern shore of the Mediterranean is in turmoil from end to end, a repetition of continuing conflicts in one part or another since the abortive attempts of the United Nations to create separate Israeli and Palestinian states in 1948.”

If that were true in Lebanon, it’s even more so in Gaza. To understand everything from why Hamas refuses to recognize the State of Israel; why it fights by means both fair and terribly foul; and why it won Gaza by a landslide in the 2006 election; a good starting point is the demographic composition of the strip — 80% of today’s Gazans are refugee families, who were driven out of homes and off land they owned inside what is now Israel in 1948, and forbidden by one of the founding laws of the State of Israel from ever returning. Is it any surprise then that the basic default position of Palestinian politics has always been to refrain from “recognizing” Israel in the sense of simply abandoning their own claims to homes and land stolen from them by Israel’s very creation. Sure, Israel can say it won the war of 1948, and to the victor the spoils. But what would Ehud Barak do if it had been his father or grandfather who’d been forced off a farm in Ashkelon and now found himself in the hellhole of Gaza? You already know his answer.

And that answer will remain the same (even if Barak would never dream of admitting it any longer) as long as justice and dignity is denied to the community that gave rise to Hamas.

What Operation Cast Lead has revealed in stark and brutal terms, is that Israel’s leadership is incapable of transcending the dysfunctional patterns that lock it into a morbid cycle that precludes Middle East stability. Israel is moving steadily to the right politically — even when the center-left was in power and negotiating with the Palestinians, settlements on occupied land expanded at a steady clip; no Israeli government for the foreseeable future is going to withdraw from the West Bank to the Green Line. So, if the madness is to be stopped, Israel and the Palestinians will have to be told where their borders are, as part of an internationally enforced, fair settlement that gives the parties no choice, and provides the Turkish troops to enforce it. But hey, I’m not holding my breath.

[Source: Rootless Cosmopolitan.]

In Montreal Canada: Candlelight vigil in solidarity with the people of Gaza

January 13, 2009

In Montreal Canada:

Candlelight vigil in solidarity with the people of Gaza

January 1, 2009

Participants in the candlelight vigit reiterated a call put out by over 170 Palestinian organizations calling for a comprehemsive campaign of boycott, sanctions and divestment in Israel.

The action was organized by the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and Tadamon! Montréal and supported by many groups including the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada (ILPS – Canada)

New Year’s Eve candlelight vigil in solidarity with Gaza held in Montreal, Canada

Montreal, Canada 31-12-08 — Demonstrators braved freezing cold weather here on on New Year’s Eve to commemorate the Palestinian victims of the Israeli massacre in Gaza.

As 2009 began, “Solidarity with Gaza” demanded an immediate end to the Israeli assault and addressed the Canadian government’s total support to Israel which incudes increased biliateral military, political and economic ties and a refusal to denounce this further Israeli aggression.

Gaza is now on the verge of a humanitarian crisis triggered by severely reduced access to energy, food and medicines since it is essentially the world’s largest open air prison.

Participants reiterated a call put out by over 170 Palestinian organizations calling for a comprehemsive campaign of boycot, canctions and divestment in Israel. Twenty years ago such a campaign put pressure on another apartheid regime, South Africa, and led to its eventual demise.

The action was organized by the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) http://www.sphr.org and Tadamon! Montréal http://www.tadamon.ca and supported by many groups including the International League of Peoples’ Struggle – Canada (ILPS – Canada) http://ilps-canada.typepad.com/.

Malcolm Guy

+++++

CAP-CPC demands an end to the Israeli massacre in Gaza
Montréal, Québec (1-1-09) — The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) condemns in no uncertain terms the Israeli regime for its barbaric act of massacre against the people in the Gaza. The CAP-CPC joins millions in demanding an immediate end to this crime against humanity.

The massacre in the last few days has resulted in three people killed and 14 wounded each hour. And there is no plan to stop the killing but instead the Israeli military forces armed with US weapons are being amassed along the walled borders ready for the signal to go into the Gaza for re-occupation and carnage. This is totally unacceptable. The United States has encouraged the Israeli regime to continue its aggression and President elect Barrack Obama has maintained a deafening silence. The Canadian government has tacitly approved of this action by its refusal to condemn the Israeli aggression. Once again the war on terror is being used in order to perpetrate genocide on people who have been cornered and walled in for the last three generations.

The CAP-CPC sends this message to all peace-loving Israelis: STOP your Zionist regime from committing continued acts of outright murder against the people in the Gaza. Let not your hands and the generations to come be soiled with the blood of old people, men, women, youth, children and infants because of the Israeli government.

It is utter hypocrisy for both the US and Israel to put the blame on Palestine and the Palestinian people for the ongoing large-scale crimes of aggression and oppression committed by Israel against them and for the impending Israeli invasion. This is not a war against Hamas, the elected government in Gaza, but a well-coordinated war of annihilation against the Palestinian people. There can only be peace if there is justice in Palestine.

The current call of Israel for all-out war reminds us all of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in recent times and how far Israel can go in committing crimes against humanity with complete impunity with the encouragement and support of the US imperialists and the acquiescence of the other imperialist powers like Canada.

The CAP-CPC stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national salvation and independence and for the defence of all their human and democratic rights against the onslaughts of the US-backed Israeli aggressors. We join the Palestinian and Arab people and the entire humankind in condemning the US-supported crimes of aggression of Israel and in demanding that the Israeli regime stop its all-out war of aggression.

There can only be peace in Palestine if it is accompanied by justice and an end to 60 years of occupation and exploitation. The CAP-CPC supports the call for a comprehensive campaign of boycott, sanctions and divestment against Israel. Such a campaign eventually helped bring down a similar apartheid regime in South Africa.

The Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Center for Philippine Concerns is an organization of Filipinos and non-Filipinos in Montreal, Canada. It advocates for the promotion of and respect for human rights in the Philippines and around the globe and supports the people’s struggles for fundamental social, political and economic rights.

— HR Desk of the Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC Montréal)
see http://cap-cpc.blogspot.com/

Press Statement
December 29, 2008

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATTACKS
ON THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE IN GAZA
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle condemns the murderous and cowardly air strikes and artillery fire unleashed by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza. These have already resulted in the indiscriminate killing of more than 300 people and the wounding of more than a thousand people and the destruction of office and apartment buildings, mosques, school buildings, and infrastructure. The attacks are still being escalated and the Israeli military forces have been ordered to mobilize for a fullscale invasion and reoccupation of Gaza.

The ILPS likewise condemns the US in the strongest terms for justifying and encouraging the Zionist acts of terrorism and for blaming the Palestinian people for the barbaric crimes committed by Israel against them. US imperialism has long propped up Zionist Israel, supplied to it the most powerful weapons and enabled it to commit acts of aggression, occupy Palestine for so many decades and deprive the Palestinian people of their homeland and squeeze them in a small piece of land like Gaza, which is now walled in on all sides.

It is utter mendacity and hypocrisy worthy of war criminals and mega-terrorists for both the US and Israel to put the blame on Palestine and the Palestinian people for the ongoing large-scale crimes of aggression and oppression committed by Israel against them and for the impending Israeli invasion and reoccupation of Gaza. The current call of Israel for all-out war reminds us all of the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in recent times and how far Israel can go in committing crimes against humanity with complete impunity with the encouragement and support of the US imperialists and the acquiescence of the other imperialist powers.

The ILPS stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for national salvation and independence and for the defense of all their human and democratic rights against the onslaughts of the US-backed Israeli aggressors. We join the Palestinian and Arab people and the entire humankind in condemning the US-supported crimes of aggression of Israel and in demanding that Israel stop its scheme of all-out war of aggression.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle therefore calls on all its member-organizations and all its allies throughout the world to carry out mass campaigns to condemn the US-Israeli collusion in the war of aggression against Palestine and the Palestinian people, to demand the end of such horrible war and to discourage and prevent Israel from using its military might to slaughter the Palestinian people. ###

Photos: Filipinos in Amsterdam join demo vs. Israeli attacks on Gaza

January 13, 2009

Filipinos in Amsterdam join demo vs. Israeli attacks on Gaza

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Janaury 3, 2009

Filipinos in Amsterdam join demo vs. Israeli attacks on Gaza

Several representatives of Filipino organizations based in the Netherlands joined the big demonstration in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, last Jan. 3, 2009, to condemn the latest Israeli attack on Gaza.

They joined some 5,000 mostly Palestinians, and peoples from the Middle East together with leaders of Dutch support groups for Palestine. They denounced the latest Israeli attacks and invasion of Gaza that has already cost the lives of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly civilians, women and children.

The Filipino activists distributed statements of the ILPS and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemning the Israeli attacks.

The protesters, who came from all walks of life and included some prominent Dutch politicians, marched along the city center of Amsterdam.

The Filipino activists carried two big murals that depicted the persevering struggle of the Palestinian people for a free homeland.

The demonstration in Amsterdam was a reply to a worldwide call to express support for the people of Palestine. Other big demonstrations were held in France, the UK, Belgium, Germany, and Italy. #

Press Statement
4 January 2009

ILPS CONDEMNS ISRAELI GROUND INVASION OF GAZA
AND THE ESCALATING MASSACRE OF PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committees
International League of Peoples’ Struggle

Since December 27, 2008, the US-supported Zionist Israel has carried out a war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza. It has launched air strikes by F-16 jet planes and Apache helicopters and artillery shelling by naval vessels in order to massacre hundreds and injure thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and destroy their homes, mosques, schools, public buildings, oil depots, power plants, water facilities and other infrastructure.

The massacre of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their public and private properties are being rapidly escalated with the ground invasion of Gaza by thousands of Israeli troops and tanks since evening yesterday. The aggressors have interdicted food and medicine supplies. They have destroyed all the sources of fuel and power and have thus disabled vehicles and the hospitals. They have killed Palestinian medical personnel and have prevented ambulances from reaching the victims of aerial bombardments, shelling by naval artillery and strafing by ground forces.

The US imperialists are hellbent on letting the Zionists wreak death and destruction on the Palestinian people without limit and with complete impunity. They have publicly incited the Zionists to escalate their aggression and have blocked every effort in the UN Security Council to pass a ceasefire resolution and to stop the carnage. Together with the Zionists in Israel, they want nothing less than the complete surrender and subjugation of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in the whole of Palestine.

US imperialism is being consistent and true to its evil nature. It has supplied Israel with all the military, political and economic resources to wage aggression repeatedly against the Palestinian people since 1948, occupy Palestine and drive away millions of Palestinians from their homeland. The US has used Israel as the bridgehead of US imperialist hegemony in the Middle East and as the platform for threatening and blackmailing countries in the region, making them military and political clients and controlling the oil resources.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, reiterate in the strongest terms our condemnation of the US-supported war of aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and once more declare our solidarity with and support for the entire Palestinian people in their resistance against Zionist Israel and its US imperialist master.

In this regard, we also criticize and condemn those governments in the Middle East that collaborate with the US in supporting Israel directly and indirectly, delivering the oil resources of the region to the US oil giants and suppressing the resistance of the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples in the Middle East. It is a shame that the overwhelming number of Arab people are prevented by their governments from extending the most effective support to the Palestinian people.

We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, stand in solidarity with the Palestinian, Arab and other peoples of the world in the struggle against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism. Once more we call on all member-organizations and allies of the ILPS to initiate as well as join protest mass actions and other activities that express and gather militant support for the resistance of the Palestinian and Arab peoples against US imperialism and Israeli Zionism. ###

Blaming the victims: The dominant media vilify Hamas

January 13, 2009

Written by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, 03 January 2009
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The blame game – no one plays it better than the dominant media, and they’re at it again over Gaza. Expect no comments below in their spaces, yet honest journalism would headline them.

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress – with an appropriating updating for Gaza:

Dec. 27 “will live in infamy.” The people of Gaza were “suddenly and deliberately attacked by….air forces of the” State of Israel. The “attack was deliberately planned many (months) ago. During the intervening time (Israel) deliberately sought to deceive (Palestinians) by false statements and expressions of hope for” the peace process.

“The (weekend and continued) attack(s) caused severe damage to” property throughout Gaza. In addition, “many (Palestinian) lives have been lost. The facts (on the ground) speak for themselves… this “unprovoked and dastardly attack” must not go unanswered.

Note the contrast. Japan in the 1940s sought accord, not conflict. Not America. FDR goaded them to attack through numerous harassments and provocations – selling arms to Tokyo’s enemies, denying Japan strategic resources and port access, as well as imposing a damaging embargo.

For its part, Hamas has been conciliatory and sought peace. It’s willing to recognize Israel in return for a sovereign Palestinian state inside pre-1967 borders – just 22 percent of it original homeland. In 2008 and earlier, it agreed to unilateral ceasefires in spite of repeated Israeli violations and Gaza in duress under siege. It responds only in self-defense when attacked as international law allows, yet Washington, Israel, and the West call it “terrorism.”

The dominant media also in their customary role – guarding the powerful and suppressing uncomfortable truths in lieu of full and accurate reporting. They’re in high gear over Gaza. They vilify Hamas, stay silent about Gazan suffering, are mute on the crippling blockade, its devastating human toll, and practically champion Israel’s call for “all-out war” and the slaughter of defenseless men, women, children and infants.

“The more damage to Hamas, the better the chances for peace” says the Wall Street Journal in a lead Dec. 28 editorial headlined “Israel’s Gaza Defense.” The Journal rewrites history this way:

“The chronology of this latest violence is important to understand. Israel withdrew both its soldiers and all of its settlers from Gaza in August 2005. Hamas won its internal power struggle with Mr. Abbas’ Fatah organization to control Gaza in 2006. Since 2005 Hamas has fired some 6300 rockets at Israeli civilians from Gaza, killing 10 and wounding 780.”

“Hamas did agree to a six-month ceasefire earlier this year, during which the rocket attacks declined in number but never stopped. But Hamas refused to extend the truce past Dec. 19, and the group has since resumed attacks…” Israelis in the south “live under constant threat, often in bomb shelters, and the economy has suffered. Yet the world’s media (only pays) attention when Israel responds to that Hamas barrage.”

The Journal’s op-ed page standard fare twists facts into a fabric of misinformation and agitprop, and when vilifying Hamas it’s vicious. A few corrections:

  • Israel never disengaged from Gaza;
  • it relocated its settlers to seized West Bank land to strengthen its hold on the Territory;
  • it redeployed to new positions; re-enters Gaza at will; controls its airspace and coastline; movement within and between Gaza and the West Bank; virtually all other aspects of Palestinians’ lives; and since Hamas’ January 2006 electoral victory, falsely called it a terrorist organization; cut off all outside aid; imposed a crippling economic embargo; imprisoned 1.5 million Gazans in isolation; inflicted devastating human suffering; and stepped up oppression in an all too familiar pattern: repeated incursions, killings, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, incarcerations, torture, and all the rest;
  • then, after mid-June 2007, collaboratively and at the behest of Washington and Israel, president Mahmoud Abbas declared a “state of emergency” (when there was none); he dismissed Hamas’ prime minister; appointed an “emergency” cabinet; split Palestinian authority between Gaza and the West Bank; incited internal conflict to divide and conquer; and acceded to Israel blockading Gaza – closing all border crossings; cutting off most essential to life supplies; creating critical shortages of everything; devastating local production and agriculture; sending poverty and unemployment soaring; and grievously harming the health and welfare of the population;
  • no Journal op-eds condemn this; they call Israel the region’s “only democracy” and a model for others to emulate;
  • no op-eds mention thousands of Palestinians killed, many more wounded, even greater numbers imprisoned, many uncharged, torture as official policy, and no chance for redress in Israeli courts;
  • none mention previous Hamas unilateral ceasefires, one lasting 18 months despite repeated Israeli violations and continued other failures to observe international law;
  • none explain that rocket fire from Gaza during Hamas’ ceasefire came from other elements in the Territory, not its own members;
  • none say that Hamas uses crude, homemade rockets and light arms against the world’s fourth most powerful military, a nuclear power, with the latest home-produced and US supplied technology and weapons;
  • nothing gets reported about over 60 years of Israeli state terror; the unimaginable harm it’s done; the continued theft of Palestinian lands; the destruction of their homes, crops and other property; the ethnic cleansing of its people; and Israel’s slow-motion genocide against a population too isolated and weak to contest it;
  • no op-eds about one-sided media reporting; suppressing uncomfortable truths; defending the indefensible; ignoring Israeli crimes; vilifying Hamas without cause; Palestinians for being Arabs; and Arab Israeli citizens because they’re not Jews;
  • no mention that the ratio of Arabs to Jews killed and harmed is disproportionately one-sided; or
  • that Palestinians have endured a brutal, illegal 41-year occupation in violation of international law; Journal editors find those facts uncomfortable, unimportant so they ignore them.

Instead the Journal supports the Gaza siege, and says “If Hamas wants its people to have freer movement, it can stop sponsoring terror killings.” Even Arab leaders were “urged to demand that Hamas maintain the truce… so we could have avoided what happened.”

In the aftermath, Journal editors hold Hamas responsible as does Washington. Arab leaders “understand that (Hamas’ leaders), like Hezbollah, (are) increasingly allied with Iran and its goals for fomenting regional instability.”

In fact, despite pro-forma criticism and anger on Arab streets, leaders in the region’s capitals offered little support for Gazans for fear of antagonizing Washington and their powerful Israeli neighbor.

The Arab League won’t discuss a common response until a Jan. 2 Doha summit, and when it does expect little more than from the UN. As for Arab foreign ministers, they postponed an “emergency” meeting until Dec. 31, so the killing continues while they attend to more pressing business.

Journal editors have a message for Obama. He’s “about to discover that the terrorists of the Middle East (won’t) change their radical ambitions merely because America has a new president.” For their part, Palestinians will learn that the new one is no friendlier than the incumbent and may turn out even worse. White House occupants, key congressional members, and the entire Senate pledge unswerving support for Israel. At the same time, blaming their victims (and ours) is one of Washington’s favorite spectator sports.

On Dec. 28, the Journal gave two noted Israeli flacks prominent space – Michael Oren of Jerusalem’s Shalem Center and Yossi Klein Halevi of the Shalem Center’s Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies for their op-ed headlined: “Palestinians Need Israel to Win.”

They claim that while Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni “implore(d) Egyptian leaders (on Dec. 19) to urge restraint on Hamas… prime minister Ehud Olmert told viewers of Al-Arabiyah Television that Israel had no interest in a military confrontation” at the very time it was long-planned and about to be unleashed.

“If Israel was guilty of acting disproportionately, it was in its willingness to seek any means, even at the risk of its citizens’ lives, to resolve the (brewing) crisis diplomatically.” The writers blame the UN for not condemning Hamas and for “growing media criticism of Israel.”

Israeli security comes first, and “Gaza is the test case. Much more is at stake than merely the military outcome.” It’s about Israel’s “deterrence power and uphold(ing) the principle that its citizens cannot be targeted with impunity.” They’re not unless Palestinians are attacked first and even then have little to fear beyond their government’s own rhetoric.

Syria is an issue as well… “triggering the Gaza conflict only deepens Israeli mistrust. The Damascus office of Hamas, which operates under the aegis of the regime of Bashar al Assad, vetoed the efforts of Hamas leaders to extend the ceasefire and insisted on escalated rocket attacks.”

The Gaza conflict may “intensify with a possible incursion of Israeli ground forces. Israel must be allowed to conclude this operation with a decisive victory over Hamas…. This is an opportunity to redress Israel’s failure to humble Hezbollah (in 2006), and to deal a substantial setback to another jihadist proxy of Iran… without Hamas’ defeat, there can be no serious progress toward a treaty that both satisfies Palestinian aspirations and allays Israel’s fears. At stake in Gaza is nothing less than the future of the peace process.”

Their rhetoric defies comment. It’s breathtaking, mirror opposite of the truth, and credible only to the truest of true believers of the most dubious analysis the two writers lay out.

New York Times press handout-style journalism

The Times‘ 1997 proxy statement calls itself “an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare” in reporting “all the news fit to print.” No media source anywhere has more clout. None more effectively influences world opinion, and none show more one-sided support for Israel, disdain for Palestinian rights, and justifying the unjustifiable when they’re so grievously harmed.

It’s Dec. 29 Ethan Bronner/Taghreed El-Khodary “No Early End Seen to ‘All-Out-War on Hamas in Gaza” article is typical. It highlights Israel’s aim “to cripple Hamas’ ability to fire rockets into Israel,” never mentioning they’re for legitimate self-defense and never preemptively fired. It calls Hamas a “terrorist organization” when, in fact, it’s Palestine’s legitimate government. It respects the rule of law, and it fearlessly defends the rights of its people. It reports nothing about its democratic election, its seeking peace and rapprochement, its unilateral ceasefires, its support by the great majority of Gazans, and the efforts it makes for them in spite of overwhelming challenges under siege.

Instead it states that “Hamas killed four Israelis on (Dec. 28) after firing more than 70 rockets, including a long-range one into the booming city of Ashdod some 18 miles from Gaza, where it hit a bus stop, killing a woman and injuring two other people. Earlier a rocket hit nearby Ashkelon, killing an Israeli-Arab construction worker and wounding three others. The other dead Israelis… were a civilian in the Negev desert and a soldier.”

“Thousands of Israelis huddled in shelters as the long-range rockets hit streets or open areas in… the most serious display of Hamas’ arsenal since the Israeli assault began.” It referred to “Hamas gunmen,” reported that “Israel would widen and deepen the attack if necessary… until Hamas no longer had the ability to fire rockets into Israel.” It said that Israel has “nothing against the citizens of Gaza and that it had more than once offered its hand in peace to the Palestinian nation.”

“Israel sent in some 40 trucks of humanitarian relief, including blood from Jordan and medicine. Egypt opened its border with Gaza to some similar aid and to allow some of the wounded through.” No mention of the Gaza siege, the devastating pre-conflict humanitarian crisis, or that Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak initially ordered his soldiers to shoot Gazans breaching border barriers, then only reluctantly allowed in some of the seriously wounded for medical treatment.

“Meanwhile in Israel, sirens wailed over mostly empty streets in the seaside city of Ashkelon. Storefronts were battered shut. Families clustered inside the city’s stretches of towering white apartment blocks and single-family houses. Weary of venturing too far outside, they scurried into protected rooms when sirens sounded, listening for the sound of another rocket crashing somewhere in their city. ‘It’s frightening, but what can we do?’ asked a high school senior.”

Plenty the Times won’t report. Ask your government to stop attacking Gazans so they won’t respond in self-defense. Demand that Palestinian rights be respected, the illegal siege ended, the IDF aggression stopped, and the occupation of the West Bank. Insist Israeli laws apply equally to Arab citizens, that Palestinians no longer will be persecuted, that peace will take precedence of war, that Israel will engage its neighbors, not attack them, and that real democracy will replace the sham kind now practiced.

Make it impossible for the (outrageous Dec. 29) New York Times‘ “War Over Gaza” editorial to be written. It begins:

Israel must defend itself. And Hamas must bear responsibility for ending a six-month cease-fire this month with a barrage of rocket attacks into Israeli territory. Still we fear that Israel’s response… is unlikely to weaken the militant Palestinian group substantially or move things any closer to what all Israelis and Palestinians need: a durable peace agreement and a two-state solution.

Hamas’ leaders, especially those safely ensconced in Damascus, are unconcerned about their people’s suffering – and (are) masters at capitalizing on it.” The writer urges other Arab leaders “to cajole or more likely threaten Hamas (or its patrons in Syria and Iran) to accept a new cease-fire (read “surrender”).

The editorial claims most casualties were “Hamas security forces” when, in fact, the great majority are civilian men, women and children, including police with no military connection. It stresses Ehud Barak’s promised “war to the bitter end.”

It says there’s “no justification for Hamas’ attacks or its virulent rejectionism,” but turns a blind eye to Israel’s culpability. It refers to the failure of the never was and never will be “peace process” but won’t report that Washington and Tel Aviv won’t tolerate one. That they choose dominance over peace, violence over reconciliation, and conquest above the rule of law.

It claims Condoleezza Rice sought Middle East peace, and it’s up to Barack Obama to accomplish it himself – when, in fact, Democrats and Republicans one-sidedly support Israel, seek dominance over Middle East states, want a subservient Hamas like Fatah, back the Gaza conflict to weaken its effective rule, and are for the illegal occupation of Palestine to continue.

Times‘ articles reveal more about what they don’t report than what they do. They:

  • leave Israeli brutality unexplained; its vicious 41 year occupation;
  • let Gaza images inciting world outrage go unpublished;
  • suppress Israel’s continued waging of the bloodiest, most unjustifiable war on Palestine since 1967;
  • won’t report how its current air strikes hit civilian targets (including residential neighborhoods, homes, workshops, medical warehouses, a sewage lagoon, a plastics factory, a TV broadcasting center, universities and mosques) while claiming only military ones are attacked;
  • don’t explain the terror on ordinary Gazans; the traumatizing effects on children and how psychologically damaged they are;
  • the night phone calls Israeli intelligence personnel make to families, ordering them out of homes to be bombed;
  • Gaza’s humanitarian crisis compounded by Israel’s “war to the bitter end;”
  • the immensity of Israel’s crimes of war and against humanity; its mockery of the rule of law; its worse than apartheid South African practices according to observers who know.
  • the near-silence and inaction of the international community; the compliance of regional Arab states;
  • the Palestinians’ total isolation; Gaza’s tighter than ever siege; the media mostly barred from entering and when allowed are few in number, carefully screened, and greatly circumscribed; reports are from Gazans on the ground; they include much higher death and injury totals; hundreds still alive but clinically dead and will perish; surgeries performed without anesthesia because little to none is available; and the impossibility of proper medical care because of Israel’s imposed blockade.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reports that “its field workers have faced extreme difficulties in documenting crimes due to the dangers of getting close to” bombed areas and the chaos throughout the Territory as war rages round the clock. Yet they do what they can throughout Gaza and in horrific pictures they take and publish – images suppressed in America.

It urgently asked the UN Human Rights Council to act under its (”Uniting for Peace”) UN Resolution 377 authority. It permits the General Assembly to address peace and security matters when the Security Council doesn’t do it. General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto said: “the time has come to take firm action if the UN does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.”

As of New Year’s day, Ma’an News reported 428 known killed (other reports are higher) and over 2000 injured, many too seriously to survive.

On Dec. 28, the US vetoed a Security Council draft resolution to end Israel’s “disproportionate use of force” on Gazans. The vote was 11 ayes, three abstentions (Britain, Germany and Bulgaria), and one nay – America. John Negroponte did the dishonor following a long-standing practice of blocking any UN condemnation of Israel, regardless of how justified.

The Security Council held an emergency meeting on New Year’s eve at which Negroponte again rejected a legally binding resolution condemning Israel and demanding its attacks stop. At the same time, Israel rejected pressures for a 48-hour ceasefire to allow in humanitarian aid. According to the New York Times, “The government said it would push ahead with its air, sea, and ultimately ground operation, which one senior military official described as ‘making Hamas lose their will or lose their weapons.’ ”

Earlier on Dec. 30 at 5:00AM, Israeli gunboats (without warning) attacked the humanitarian boat Dignity (in international waters 90 miles from Gaza) bringing three tons of medical supplies. It was rammed three times, heavily damaged, and took on water. Israelis also threatened to shoot its occupants and fired machine guns overhead and around it attempting to head it off. It managed to get to the Lebanese port of Tyre in the afternoon. Luckily no one was injured. The Free Gaza Movement founder, Paul Laurdee, said 11 Israeli vessels surrounded Dignity, ordered it to stop, but it refused.

The New York Times was silent on the incident. However, on Dec. 29, it gave pro-genocide historian Benny Morris space for his “Why Israel Feels Threatened” op-ed – a disturbing justification of Israel’s attacks and warning of much more to come. This by an advocate of attacking Iran with nuclear weapons and a believer in ethnic cleansing who once described Palestinians as “wild animal(s who have) to be locked up in one way or another…. When the choice is between destroying or being destroyed, it’s better to destroy.”

He paints a totally disingenuous picture of isolated Israel surrounded by hostile neighbors and losing support from the West. “To the east, Iran… to the north, the Lebanese fundamentalist Hezbollah… to the south… the Islamist Hamas movement (controlling) the Gaza Strip.”

These “dire threats” make Israel “feel that the walls – and history – are closing in on their 60-year-old state.”

Israel threatened? Syria, Lebanon and Iran should worry based on past and current provocations. No country attacked Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur war, and none today would dare – given its military strength, nuclear arsenal, and close ties to America and the West.

Morris cites another threat – demography. The 1.3 million Israeli Arabs “offer the recipe (for the) dissolution of the Jewish state.” They’ve become “radicalized, embrac(e) Palestinian national aims,” Jews see them as a “potential fifth column,” and, with their higher birthrate, will outnumber Israeli Jews by 2040. Within five years, Arabs may become the majority in pre-1948 Palestine.

According to Morris, Israel is endangered because of its commitment to “Western democratic and liberal norms.” Violence in Gaza resulted, and “it would not be surprising if more powerful explosions were to follow” – a clear assessment that slaughter is OK in the name of “self-defense” and an indication that the Times agrees.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Misinformation “primer on Gaza, Israel, and some key factors behind the current violence.”

On Dec. 30, Michael Muskal wrote it asking:

– “Why is Israel attacking Hamas? To curb rocket attacks he maintains, when, in fact, neutralizing the government is the real aim, destroying its ability to rule effectively, weakening its support on the ground, and, in the end, co-opt it like Fatah and the PLO under Arafat; rocket attacks are just pretext.

– “What is Hamas?” An Islamist group founded to destroy Israel and refuses to accept its right to exist, he claims. In fact, after its establishment during the First Intifada (in 1987), Israel supported it against the PLO (as it now backs Fatah against Hamas). Ever since, it’s been an effective resistance movement. Its goal – ending Israel’s illegal occupation through negotiation and international consensus, not terrorism, war, or denying Israel’s right to exist. However, its charter states that it wants peace, equity and justice for all Palestinians; supports the weak; defends the oppressed; and will fight for its rights if Israel won’t grant them peacefully. Hamas is clear on its willingness to recognize Israel in return for a Palestinian state inside pre-1967 borders – a nonstarter for Israel.

– “Does Hamas speak for all Palestinians? No. Hamas gunmen took full control of Gaza in the summer of 2007. The West would prefer to deal with (Fatah’s) Abbas, who has shown a willingness to negotiate with Israel, and it tried to topple Hamas with economic and political sanctions.” No is right as well as the West going along with Washington and Israel trying to topple Hamas, but unmentioned is the crippling siege. Hamas is a legitimate political group with a military wing for defense, not offense. They’re not “gunmen” or militants. Abbas’ subservience endears him to America and Tel Aviv. Hamas is independent. It champions Palestinians’ rights, and therein lies the conflict.

– “If Hamas is so opposed to Israel, why did it agree to a truce? Hamas had hoped to end the blockade, but the cease-fire collapsed in November and expired Dec. 19. Abbas blamed Hamas for prompting the Israeli attack by refusing to extend the cease-fire.” True on the first point. False or misleading on the rest. Hamas declared a ceasefire unilaterally. Israel never respected it and killed over two dozen Gazans while it was in force. Abbas blamed the victims and absolved the aggressor in deference to Tel Aviv and Washington – in betrayal of his people for his own political aims.

– “What has been the response to the Israeli attacks in the Arab world?” Saying that anti-Israeli demonstrations have been held in several countries greatly understates how many, their size and where. They’re large and growing and are being held across America, throughout the Middle East, and in many other countries worldwide.

“What about Egypt? (It) opposes Islamic radical groups, including its own Muslim Brotherhood, which helped give birth to Hamas. Egypt has a difficult relationship because they share a border (and) clashes have been reported between Palestinians and Egyptian security forces at border crossings?” Half truths and misleading. Egypt is allied to Washington and Israel. It opposes the Muslim Brotherhood and all independent opposition to president Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship. Egyptian forces initiated border clashes by firing on Gazans trying to escape the violence.

– “What about the US?” A “power vacuum” suggests Muskal until Obama takes office. Unexplained is a continuity of policy that unswervingly supports Israel, its right to wage aggressive war, violate international law, slaughter Gazan civilians, maintain its illegal occupation, and deny Palestinians their right to self-determination.

– “What has the Bush administration done?” Saying it blamed Hamas and asked Israel publicly to avoid civilian casualties is right but misleading. For eight years, George Bush disdained Palestinian rights, supplies Israel with billions of dollars in aid, the latest weapons and technology, and full support for its occupation, oppression and aggressive wars.

– “What about the Obama administration?” Repeating his saying the US has only one president at a time is right. So is affirming his strong support for Israel. Unmentioned is his indifference to Palestinian issues and that chances for regional peace will be no greater than under George Bush so expect little hopeful change.

– “How do Israeli politics figure in the equation? Muskal is right in relating the current conflict to Israel’s February 10 elections. A new prime minister and Knesset will be chosen and polls show a large majority of Israelis back its government’s attacks. Acting tough could prove a winning strategy even at the expense of human lives and less security than without conflict.

Misinformation like the above is de rigueur throughout the dominant media, especially when it comes to Israel. Tel Aviv can do no wrong even when it inflicts vast amounts of destruction, massacres hundreds of civilians, and injures tens of hundreds more, defenseless against its onslaught.

Profiting from human Ssaughter

On Dec. 27, the London Guardian reported that the “Israeli far right gains ground as Gaza rockets fuel tension.” Jerusalem-based Toni O’Loughlin wrote that pre-conflict polls showed “the Israeli public calling for harsher military strikes in Gaza.” It’s been a boon for former Likud member Avigdor Lieberman’s extremist Yisrael Beiteinu. It advocates ethnic cleansing by revoking Israeli Arabs’ citizenship and transferring Palestinian towns in Israel to PA control.

Likud leader, Binyamin Netanyahu also stands to gain because he states: “In the long run, we have no choice but to topple Hamas rule… we have to go from passive response to active assault.” That got Kadima’s foreign minister Tzipi Livni saying: “Israel must topple the Hamas rule in Gaza and a government under my command will do just that.” Campaigning is in high gear for the upcoming February elections with all sides vying to look toughest.

War rages as a result, and according to Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem founder Michael Warschawski: “all Israeli leaders are competing over who is the toughest and who is ready to kill more.” Mass slaughter makes good campaign politics, and whoever looks the meanest may become Israel’s next prime minister. Follow the body count for clues. Watch TV clips of Tzipi Livni disheveled with no makeup to show machismo, and as Tariq Ali puts it: “dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder” and may help Kadima retain power.

Justifying the unjustifiable

On Dec. 28, O’Loughlin in the Guardian headlined: “Israel mounts PR campaign to blame Hamas for Gaza destruction” as Kadima put positive spin on mass murder and destruction.

Israeli media suggested the following preceded the attack:

  • six months of intelligence-gathering to pinpoint bases, weapons silos, supplies, training camps, senior officials’ homes, and other strategic targets, including civilian ones; the attack also began exactly at 11:30AM Saturday when children just finished morning classes, were in the streets, and others were en route to school;
  • disinformation and deception were used to keep the media and public uninformed and off guard;
  • Hamas was lulled momentarily into a false sense of security to give the initial onslaught maximum tactical effectiveness;
  • on Dec. 26, food, fuel and other humanitarian supplies were let into Gaza as part of the deception; and
  • when the assault came, officials justified it saying “patience ran out” to hide their real motives.

Ahead of the attack, Britain, the EU, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were briefed, and Israel coordinated everything with Washington the way it’s always done at least since the 1967 war. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Bush administration also supplied the Israeli Air Force with “a new bunker-buster missile” called GBU-39 – a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision, minimal collateral damage strikes.

Congress authorized 1000 of them in September, and defense officials said the first shipment arrived in early Dec. for use in penetrating underground Gaza Kassam launcher sites and bombing Egyptian border tunnels in Rafah through which emergency supplies were funneled.

Israel’s PR spin began before the assault. According to the Guardian, “the foreign ministry honed its message and amassed its staff… Israeli diplomats were recalled from holidays and ordered back to work, and in” Sderot, a multilingual media center was opened to brief foreign journalists.

Everything was orchestrated. At the right moment, Tzipi Livni called foreign ministers in Washington, London, Russia, China, France and Germany as well as EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. She also briefed around 80 international representatives and dignitaries in the Sderot media center. World leaders spread her message, blamed Hamas for “breaking” the ceasefire, and claimed Israel had to respond.

Israeli envoys around the world did the same, and Livni vowed to end Hamas rule if elected. She told Kadima party members and the media that “The State of Israel, and a government under me, will make it a strategic objective to topple the Hamas regime. The means… should be military, economic and diplomatic.”

As war rages, Israel is in full spin mode. According to Haaretz, even Fatah loyalists say Gaza is “Allah’s revenge” – referring to the 2007 clashes that secured Gaza for Hamas and left Fatah, under Abbas, in control of the West Bank. For his part, prime minister Ehud Olmert said the bombardment is “the first of several stages approved by the security cabinet” – a clear signal of more to follow and Israel’s intent to destroy Hamas’ effectiveness and render it as weak as possible.

Livni also released a document to the Israeli and world press spreading deceit, disinformation, exaggeration, and agitprop. Examples included:

  • “Israeli citizens have been under the threat of daily attack from Gaza for years;
  • Only this week hundreds of missiles and mortar shells were fired at Israeli civilian communities;
  • Until now we have shown restraint; but today there is no other option than a military operation;
  • We need to protect our citizens from attack through a military response against the terror infrastructure in Gaza;
  • Israel left Gaza in order to create an opportunity for peace;
  • In return, the Hamas terror organization took control of Gaza and is using its citizens as cover while it deliberately targets Israeli communities and denies any chance for peace;
  • We have tried everything to reach calm without using force; we agreed to a truce through Egypt that was violated by Hamas, which continued to target Israel, hold Gilat Shalit, and build up its arms;
  • Israel continues to act to prevent a humanitarian crisis and to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians.”

These and other statements blame Hamas for the violence; accuse it of being a terrorist organization backed by Iran; has a radical Islamic agenda; is the enemy of all Palestinians seeking peace; is criminal under international law, and seeks Israel’s destruction.

These comments are from Israel’s foreign minister and a leading candidate for prime minister; someone representing a state founded on terrorism by massacring and ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their land; that disdains international law; illegally occupies Palestine; collectively punishes its people; denies them self-determination; their right of return; seizes their land; demolishes their homes; imprisons and tortures their people, impoverishes them; denies them free movement, essential services, employment and enough food and clean water; destroys their crops and factories; and grants them no judicial redress because they’re Arabs in a Jewish state or under occupation.

On Dec. 31, Livni was in Paris meeting with president Nicolas Sarkozy, foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and other officials. In response to a French two-day truce proposal, she rejected the idea saying: “there is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.”

Protests worldwide over Gaza

Carnage and destruction trump spin, and it shows worldwide on city streets – across the Arab world, in America, the EU, London, and even parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The New York Times reported that “After four days of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, an outpouring of popular anger is putting pressure on American allies in the Arab world and appears to be worsening divisions in the region.” Egypt has been especially pressured because it’s a close US and Israeli ally. But “demonstrations continued… from North Africa to Yemen.”

Al Jazeera reports that protests spread across the Middle East, and in the West Bank Israeli troops opened fire, killed one Palestinian, and critically injured two others. One was declared brain damaged from a bullet to his head. In Yemen, “tens of thousands of people gathered in and around a stadium in the capital, Sanaa, chanting anti-Israeli slogans and criticizing Arab leaders for failing to act.”

It’s been much the same in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, and dozens of other world capitals. In Tehran, students broke into the British Embassy’s residential compound, vandalized buildings, and replaced the British flag with a Palestinian one.

Al Jazeera added that several members of Jordan’s parliament burned the Israeli flag in protest and called for the expulsion of Kadima’s ambassador. In Lebanon, hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinian refugees staged a sit-in near the Beirut UN office. Hezbollah condemned the attacks as a “war crime and a genocide that requires immediate action from the international community and its institutions.”

Its statement called on Arab countries to “take a firm stand and exert its utmost efforts against the Israeli barbarism – which is (endorsed) by the US – and the international community (must) stop this ongoing massacre.”

In Damascus, thousands were in Yusif al-Azmeh square shouting slogans and displaying flags of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollah, Syria, Iraq and Palestine. From loudspeakers, calls were for “jihad” against Israel and for continuing the “struggle in the name of God.”

Protests across Iraq took place – in Baghdad with messages supporting Gaza, anti-Israeli slogans, and the Palestinian ambassador, Dalil al-Qasoos, saying: “Gaza will remain steadfast in the face of Americans and Zionists whatever the plots and conspiracies hatched by tyrants and arrogant enemies.”

Across Britain as well in Belfast and London where hundreds demonstrated in front of the Israeli embassy and outside the BBC.

In Washington, 5000 gathered at the State Department and marched to the White House. In San Francisco, over 10,000 protested in front of the Israeli consulate. In Los Angeles, around 5000 did the same, and in New York thousands more were at the Israeli consulate waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Free Palestine.” Similar demonstrations were held in dozens more US cities, including Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Portland, Houston, Dallas, Seattle and in Hawaii in front of Obama’s vacation compound where he remains indifferent.

On Jan. 2, the ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom, and National Council of Arab Americans plan a major protest at the Israeli embassy in Washington and at the Egyptian embassy as well.

Expressions of world outrage

On Dec. 29, a National Lawyer’s Guild (NLG) press release condemned the Israeli massacre, called for a ceasefire and urged participation in New York protests. NLG president and Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor Marjorie Cohn stated:

“The Human Rights and Security Assistance Act mandates that the United States cease all military aid to Israel, which has engaged in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” America, like Israel, disdains international law and has supplied Tel Aviv governments with tens of billions of aid, weapons and technology for decades, and as explained above, with special bunker-buster bombs to attack Gaza. It also partners in Israeli aggression, assists all aspects of it, and provides cover through vocal support and UN resolution vetoes for it to continue.

On Dec. 29, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) condemned Israel’s Gaza attack, its slaughter of civilians and “violation of all international laws and treaties,” and its crippling siege as “another crime and collective punishment against (over 1.5 million Gazans) living in an atmosphere of continued terror and intimidation.”

HRA also denounced world leaders for failing to speak out or act and thus effectively give “a green light for Israel to escalate its siege, topped with the barbaric bombardment” of Gaza and its people. “The Security Council’s non-binding statement (calling for “an immediate halt to all violence” and for both sides “to stop immediately all military activities”) is evidence of (the UN’s) incompetence (and impotence) in implementing its primary duty in maintaining world peace and security.”

In his “Dachau to Gaza” article, law professor, international law expert, and former PLO legal advisor Francis Boyle compared Washington and Israel’s aims to Hitler’s Munich Pact for Germany to occupy and annex the Sudetenland. Today it’s to seize Palestinians’ land and deny them “self-determination and a real independent state of their own.” As a result, he fears a “high probability that history will repeat itself” in more conflict.

In 1986, he visited the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, complained about “criminal Israeli occupation practices,” its violations of international law, and that America “has an absolute obligation to use its enormous political, military and economic leverage over Israel to terminate (these) practices immediately.”

Yet since Israel’s establishment in 1948 and its post-1967 occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, Washington has one-sidedly supported Israel and denied Palestinians their “freedom, justice, dignity, respect and independence.” One day, America must end this policy and “order Israel out of Palestine.” Until then, no Middle East peace is possible and the possibility of greater conflict exists.

Like others wanting war crimes to be punished, Boyle also advocates “An International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) as “the Only (possible) Deterrent to a Global War.” He urges the General Assembly to establish one as a “subsidiary organ” under Article 22 of the UN Charter. It would be similar to those for Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) to:

“investigate and prosecute Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide against the People of Lebanon and Palestine.” It would “provide some small degree of justice to the victims” of decades of Israeli crimes, thus far committed with impunity. “It would also have a deterrent effect” on current Israeli leaders and generals and force future ones to obey international laws or face similar prosecution.

Without legal restraints, Boyle, like others, fears possible new Middle East conflict that could “degenerate into World War III,” not by intent but by accident, much like WW I developed. He urges General Assembly action to prevent it at a time attacks on Gaza persist, the Arab street is enraged, and the longer fighting continues, the greater the risk of something far greater.

Israel is a serial aggressor. Its lawlessness can no longer be tolerated. Mass outrage and world pressure must build for a global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions until its human rights abuses stop, its war crimes are punished, its occupation and colonization end, Palestinian refugees have the right to return, and the people of Gaza and the West Bank achieve their long-denied self-determination rights in an internationally recognized sovereign state, free from Israeli oppression. For people of conscience, that’s Resolution One for the new year.

[Source: Dissident Voice. Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago.

This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
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. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.]

Photos: Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine New York City Janaury 4, 2009

January 13, 2009

Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine

New York City

Janaury 4, 2009

News Release
January 4, 2009
Reference: Christina Hilo, BAYAN USA Northeast Coordinator, email: ny@bayanusa.org

Filipinos in NYC March for a Free Palestine

Filipinos in New York City yesterday joined thousands in a long march from Times Square to the Israeli Consulate on Second Avenue in opposition to the continuing military offensives of the Israeli government on the city of Gaza, already claiming over 400 lives and wounding thousands more Palestinians, including women and children. Under the banner of the Filipino-American alliance known as BAYAN USA, members from Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), Anakbayan New York/New Jersey, and the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) expressed solidarity for the Palestinian people’s 6-decade long struggle against the Zionist occupation of their ancestral land, otherwise known as the state of “Israel”.

“The Filipino people are in complete and unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle for national liberation,” stated BAYAN USA Secretary-General Berna Ellorin from the rally stage in Times Square, in front of four packed city blocks of protesters, many of whom were Palestinian immigrants, who cheered in response. “In Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, the Israeli embassy is already the site of massive protests of Filipinos against the US-Israeli attacks on Gaza.”

Ellorin also expressed the alliance’s respect for the Palestinian people’s right to choose any form of struggle to defeat their oppressors, including armed struggle. “The massacre of the Palestinian people by the US-Israeli pact is historical and systemic. The Palestinian people not only have every right to defend themselves, but to assert their claim over their occupied homeland,” she also exclaimed from the loud speakers.

During the rally and march to the Israeli Consulate, BAYAN USA members painted “Free Palestine!” on their faces and learned pro-Palestinian chants in Arabic from Palestinian youth. They also drew connections between the Palestinian people’s struggle and the Filipino people’s continuing struggle for genuine nationalism and democracy in the Philippines, free from US government intervention in economic and political affairs through US-puppet Philippine governments such as that of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Protesters also sharply criticized US President-Elect Barack Obama’s silence and inaction on the Gaza attacks. Meanwhile, Israel remains the largest annual recipient of US economic aid in the world, billions of which are used to supply the weaponry, ammunition, and technological capabilities being employed in the Israeli military offensive on the Palestinians. US foreign aid is funneled from US tax dollars.

January 3rd marked a national day of protest across the United States against the continuing US-Israeli attacks in Gaza that began as air strikes and have now evolved into ground attacks.

BAYAN USA is an overseas chapter of BAYAN Philippines. For more information on BAYAN USA, contact info@bayanusa.org or visit http://www.bayanusa.org. To view pictures from BAYAN USA’s participation in the rally in New York City, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33986988@N07/sets/72157612153269952/ . ###

Statement of the President of the 63rd Session

of the United Nations General Assembly


On Gaza airstrikes

UN Headquarters , New York, 27 December 2008

The behavior by Israel in bombarding Gaza is simply the commission of wanton aggression by a very powerful state against a territory that it illegally occupies.

Time has come to take firm action if the United Nations does not want to be rightly accused of complicity by omission.

The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.

Those violations include:

Collective punishment – the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.

Targeting civilians – the airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.

Disproportionate military response – the airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.

I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law – regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move expeditiously not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.

http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/statements/ongaza271208.shtml

The Israeli military is doing the US government’s dirty work! Stop the ongoing massacres in Gaza now! (Updated)
December 29th, 2008

Contact: Berna Ellorin
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
secgen@bayanusa.org

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 12 Filipino organizations in the US, vehemently condemns the US government-sponsored bloodshed that is currently ongoing in the city of Gaza, in the Palestinian territories. As of the writing of this statement, the Israeli military air strikes in Gaza have killed over 300 Palestinians, and nearly 1000 more are critically wounded, including women and children. The death toll from the last 72 hours alone in Gaza marks the highest in the decades-long so-called “Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. Israeli state officials claim the siege on Gaza is a response to the Hamas government’s continued “violent retaliation” in the form of rocket barrages.

To understand the so-called “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” more comprehensively, one must see it in the context of US imperialism’s role in dividing and plundering the Middle East to serve its economic and political interests. The state of “Israel” still serves as a strategic access point for US-imperialism to plunder the entire region’s most profitable resources– black gold and oil.The state of “Israel” is a US surrogate state that has long been funded by Washington DC to do its dirty work and uphold its interests in the region. This includes the ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinian families who were violently forced to flee from their ancestral lands beginning in 1948 with the forceful and violent Zionist occupation of Palestine and the establishment of the state of “Israel”. The establishment of Israel and its systemic massacre and displacement of the Palestinian people is one of the greatest offensives of the US government in the Middle East, that duly serves the interests of US imperialism to control the region.

Israel-US government relations remain tight and intimate in this campaign. Israel is the largest recipient of direct economic and military aid from the US government since World War II. This means the Israeli military’s continuing offensives on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are made possible with generous funding from the US government. The hard-earned tax dollars of the people of the US are fueling these continuing attacks of the US surrogate government of Israel against the Palestinian people. At the same time, the global economic crisis is hitting the people of the US hard with massive job lay-offs, foreclosures, evictions, and budget cuts to health care and education.

In light of their historical oppression, the oppressed Palestinian people have every right to resist and determine their form of resistance in the interest of their national liberation. It is understandable that this heroic resistance includes armed struggle. The Palestinian people have suffered the most horrific crimes of war and massacre from US imperialism at the hands of the Israeli government.

In the same light, the Filipino people are suffering from attacks from the same enemy. If the state of “Israel” is considered US-imperialism’s front door to the rest of the Middle East and Asia, then the Philippines would be the back door. For almost 110 years, the US has forcefully imposed its control over the Philippines, directly and indirectly, for the sake of maintaining this strategic geo-political and economic post in the Asia Pacific region. One of the first colonies of US-imperialism at the turn of the 20th century, the Filipino people suffered great losses. More than one-sixth of the Filipino people were massacred with the first few years of US occupation.

Like the US surrogate government in Israel, the US surrogate government of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is also performing the same dirty work in the Philippines to advance US imperialism’s control over the country. While Israel is the largest annual recipient of US economic and military aid in the world, the Philippines is the largest recipient in Asia. But US economic aid to the Philippine government is not used for economic development of a very poor nation. Instead the Arroyo administration directs US economic aid towards beefing up the Philippine military, which has been responsible for the gravest human rights crisis in the country since the period of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, and deepening corruption by buying the loyalty of corrupt Philippine politicians. The Philippine military is also responsible for the massive displacement of millions of Filipinos from their lands, especially the Muslim and indigenous communities.

Here in the United States, oppressed and working people have the responsibility to cripple the state terrorist machinaries of the Israeli and Philippine governments by demanding the withdrawal of US direct economic and military aid to both countries. As the global economic crisis continues to awaken the people in the US to the rotten character of US imperialism, we must strengthen our solidarity ties to national liberation struggles abroad, including Palestine and the Philippines. By intensifying our struggles and resistance against US imperialism in all parts of the globe, we can weaken our common enemy.

Furthermore, President-Elect Barack Obama’s swift appointment of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief-of-Staff foreshadows continued Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people. His father, Benjamin Emanuel, is an ardent Zionist militant who has been infamously quoted as bragging that his son will ensure the incoming Obama administration’s pro-Israel agenda, and offensively remarked that Arabs in the White House are usually relegated to cleaning floors. We must therefore remain vigilant and maintain no illusion that the incoming US presidential administration can effectively or even has the intention to restore peace in the region.

In condemning the attacks on Gaza, we demand justice for the Palestinian people. This means we demand the US-Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people’s ancestral land end, and that the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland be globally respected and recognized. Without justice, neither peace nor democracy can be realized or practiced in the Middle East or the Philippines.

STOP THE ATTACKS ON GAZA!
JUSTICE FOR THE PALESTINIAN VICTIMS OF THE US-ISRAELI ATTACKS!
FREE PALESTINE!
WITHDRAW US ECONOMIC AID TO ISRAEL!
WITHDRAW US ECONOMIC AID TO THE PHILIPPINES!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

Photos: HK people express solidarity for the people of Palestine, condemn Gaza attacks

January 13, 2009

HK people express solidarity for the people of Palestine,

condemn Gaza attacks

Hongkong

December 30, 2008

Two events happened on December 30: one was a picket protest at the Israeli Consulate led by HK Legislator Leung Kwok Hung, and the other was the candle-light vigil at Chater Garden led by the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA).

HK People Expressed Solidarity for the People of Palestine, Condemned Gaza Attacks

Solidarity shone brightest in Hong Kong this December 30.

With the continuous attacks that the Israeli government is launching against the people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip, international outrage poured and the Hong Kong people joined in this condemnation.

Two events happened today: one was a picket protest at the Israeli Consulate led by HK Legislator Leung Kwok Hung, and the other was the candle-light vigil at Chater Garden led by the Asia Pacific Students and Youth Association (ASA).

Picket at Admiralty

The ASA joined Leung Kwok Hung, also known as Long Hair, in the condemnation picket the latter held at the Israeli Consulate this afternoon.

The building security, however, was quick to stop us. But the stopping turned out for the good.

The picket was staged at the ground floor of the building where many fast food chains and shops were located. The whole duration of the program then drew crowds and onlookers, with a few even taking photos and even stopping by to listen.

Around 15 people were in the rally, including Eman Villanueva of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (a Filipino migrant organization in Hong Kong) and Jackie Hung of the Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese.

Long Hair condemned the Israeli government for intensifying its attacks on Gaza with the aim of taking over the strip of Palestinian land. He likewise condemned the US government for condoning this action while urging the Chinese government to take a stand.

The program was concluded with the burning of the Israeli flag and a face of outgoing US president George W. Bush.

Candle-Light Vigil at Chater Garden

The holiday rush did not stop people from all sectors and groups to join in the candle-light vigil tonight.

More than 30 people from various local and regional organizations in Hong Kong gathered at the Chater Garden to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people against the Israeli government’s brutal attacks.

Among those present were Elizabeth Tang of the HK Confederation of Trade Unions, Rose Wu formerly with the HK Christian Institute, Sunita Suna of the World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific and Long Hair. Other groups present were the Asian Centre for Progress of Peoples, Migrante International, Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants and Mission For Migrant Workers (HK) Society, International League of Peoples’ Struggle Hong Kong (ILPS-HK), UNIFIL-HK, Filipino Migrant Workers Union and several Filipino migrant organizations, HKJP and HK Catholic Students Union as well as the activist group 8th Floor .

Several speakers expressed their indignation, one of whom was Chuiyung, a HK journalist who went to Gaza a few years ago. She explained that the bombings made by Israel were nothing new. She expressed her anger over the inhuman way Israel is treating the Palestinians and its ultimate plan to occupy the Gaza Strip.

Other speakers included Elizabeth Tang, Linda Noche of the ACPP, Long Hair and Eman Villanueva.

Elizabeth Tang expressed the HK people’s continued solidarity with the Palestinian people and their outrage at the renewed attacks by Israel. Eman Villanueva likened the Gaza situation to that of Philippines that have struggled against many colonizers and countries who aimed to control the said country.

Long Hair once again condemned the bombings and said that this is an issue of occupation that the US-backed Israeli Zionists have been doing for the longest time. Jun Tellez of Migrante International read the ILPS statement on the said issue.

There was a vow among the many individuals and groups present in both programs to mount more actions and bring more people to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people as well as the intensification of the campaign against the atrocious attacks and planned invasion by Israel over Gaza.

Truly, solidarity brought people together. And Palestinian people will never be alone in their fight.

Download statement of  the Asian Students Association

A moment of silence was observed for all those who have been killed, injured and left devastated by the Israeli government’s attacks. The song “We Shall Overcome” was sung to close the program.

(Photo Courtesy: Asian Students Association)

Arkibong Bayan

DEATH TOLL RISES TO 850 Israel vows to escalate war in Gaza

January 11, 2009

By Sakher Abu El Oun
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 04:19:00 01/11/2009

GAZA CITY – Israel vowed to escalate its war in Gaza on Saturday as it pounded the impoverished territory with air strikes and troops battled Hamas fighters into a third week and the death toll rose past 850.

Israeli planes sent a cloud of white leaflets fluttering across the Gaza City skyline warning residents it would soon step up its war on Hamas and other militant groups despite mounting international calls for a ceasefire.

Ground troops clashed with militants while the airforce said it carried out 60 air strikes targeting arms manufacturing sites, weapons depots and smuggling tunnels, the army said.

The Israeli military said it had killed Amir Mansi, a senior Hamas rocket launcher responsible for many of the long-range rockets fired in recent days. Hamas refused to say where he ranked in the movement’s armed wing.

In a separate incident, eight members of the same Palestinian family, including a 12-year-old, were killed during the shelling of the northern town of Jabaliya.

“We were at home when the bombing started,” one of the attack’s survivors Umm Mohammed told Agence France-Press (AFP) inside a nearby hospital.

“We fled towards another house and the tanks started firing. Several of us were hit.”

An Israeli army spokesman denied the incident took place, and Israel has said from the start of the conflict that it is not targeting civilians.

Israeli forces killed at least 28 people on Saturday including 17 in heavy fighting in the north and around Gaza City, according to Dr Muawiya Hassanein, head of Gaza emergency services.

Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, at least 854 people have been killed, including 270 children, 93 women, and 12 paramedics, he said.

Another 3,490 people have been wounded, overwhelming Gaza’s beleaguered medical facilities.

Hamas and other armed groups meanwhile fired at least 13 rockets into Israel, wounding four people, according to the Israeli army.

The conflict has sparked worldwide pro-Palestinian demonstrations, including rallies in Europe that drew tens of thousands of war protesters.

In London thousands of protestors clashed with police around the Israeli embassy, while in Paris protesters shattered windows and lit scooters on fire after a rally attended by more than 30,000 people.

Egypt has been spearheading US-backed efforts to end the fighting, with President Hosni Mubarak meeting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday.

A Hamas delegation was also due to hold talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Abbas pressed Hamas to accept the Egyptian plan “without hesitation,” warning that “whoever does not accept (the plan) will be responsible for the continuing aggression and for bloodshed.”

Mubarak’s initiative calls for an immediate truce for a specified period, opening Gaza’s border crossings, preventing arms smuggling and a call for Palestinians to resume reconciliation talks.

Israeli officials said Egypt has proposed that Western-backed forces loyal to Abbas — which were violently driven out of Gaza when Hamas seized power in 2007 — patrol the Gaza-Egypt border to help prevent arms smuggling.

But Hamas’s Syria-based politburo said in a joint statement with other armed factions that it would reject “any security arrangements that undermine the resistance” against Israel, including international forces or observers.

Hamas has also rejected a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate truce in a territory, already reeling from an 18-month Israeli blockade enacted when the Islamist movement seized power.

“UN Security Council Resolution 1860 does not meet the demands and interests of the Palestinian people, and harms the resistance,” said the joint statement issued in Damascus.

Israel has also ignored the UN resolution and on Friday vowed to press ahead with its offensive.

The flyers which rained down on Gaza warned that the military “will soon intensify its operations” throughout the Gaza Strip.

“For your security and that of your families, you are asked not to approach terrorists, weapons depots and arms,” added the flyers, printed in Arabic.

Israel launched the war aiming to end rocket fire against southern towns and the smuggling of weapons into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket attacks since the operation began, as Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets, some of them penetrating deeper than ever inside Israel.(PDI)

Israel pounds Gaza, death toll hits 850

January 11, 2009

By Adel Zaanoun
Agence France-Presse
First Posted 13:18:00 01/11/2009

Filed Under: Gaza conflict

GAZA CITY — Tanks and warplanes pounded Gaza City before dawn on Sunday, hours after Israel warned it would escalate its war on Hamas targets, as the death toll in the 16-day-old conflict passed 850.

With the body count spiraling, Hamas remained defiant in the face of Egyptian-led efforts to broker a cease fire, vowing it would not negotiate “under fire.”

Medics said four Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded by heavy Israeli tank fire and air strikes. Some doctors alleged burn injuries were caused by banned white phosphorous shells that Israel denied using.

Witnesses said that at around dawn, tanks had entered the Al Sheikh Ajlin neighborhood of Gaza City, shelling it and another area closer to the city center, Tall al-Hawa.

They said there had also been intense shelling of the city’s Zeitun neighborhood, as well as of Sudaniyah, near the Mediterranean Sea in northwestern Gaza.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad said several people had been hurt during clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli tanks on the edge of Al Sheikh Ajlin.

They said militants were placing roadside bombs to impede the advance of the tanks as they moved into the neighborhood.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the army had forces in the area, saying they were part of the ongoing operation, but would not say whether their attacks were intensifying or were the beginning of a new push.

Israeli planes on Saturday dropped leaflets over Gaza warning that the Jewish state was about to escalate the campaign it launched more than two weeks ago aimed at halting rocket fire into Israel.

Doctor Yusef Abu Rish at Gaza City’s Nasser hospital told AFP that at least 55 people were injured early Sunday by white phosphorous shells, banned under international law for use against civilians, but permitted for creating smokescreens.

“These people were burned over their bodies in a way that can only be caused by white phosphorous,” said Abu Rish.

A military spokeswoman denied the claims. “There is no use of white phosphorous. Everything we use is according to international law,” she said.

A closed-door briefing was told on Saturday that Israeli troops had killed more than 550 Palestinian fighters since the operation began, a senior military official told AFP.

Army spokesman Jacob Dallal declined to confirm the number but said “several hundred” fighters, most of them from Hamas, had been killed since Israel launched its offensive on December 27.

“There is no question that the military ability of Hamas has been diminished,” he said.

But Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal, speaking from exile in Syria, said Israel was making no headway.

“I can say with full confidence that on the military level the enemy has totally failed; it has not achieved anything,” Meshaal said in pre-recorded remarks broadcast on Arabic satellite television.

“Has it stopped the rockets?” he asked of Israel’s declared aim in launching the offensive.

Meshaal added that Hamas would not accept any truce without the withdrawal of all Israeli forces and the lifting of the blockade slapped on the territory when the Islamists seized power in 18 months ago.

“With an open mind we will work with any initiative or any resolution but only based on these demands. We will not accept negotiations on a truce under fire,” he said.

Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27, at least 854 people have been killed, including 270 children, 93 women, and 12 paramedics, according to Palestinian medics.

Another 3,490 people have been wounded, overwhelming Gaza’s beleaguered medical facilities.

Meanwhile, Hamas and other armed groups fired at least 13 rockets into Israel on Saturday, wounding four people, the army said.

Egypt has been spearheading Western-backed efforts to end the fighting. On Saturday, President Hosni Mubarak met Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who urged Israel and his Hamas rivals to accept the plan “without hesitation.”

Mubarak is calling for an immediate truce, opening Gaza’s border crossings, preventing arms smuggling and a call for Palestinians to resume reconciliation talks.

Abbas stressed he wanted an international force in Gaza rather than controlling traffic on the Egyptian side of the border, as suggested by European countries.

But Meshaal said Hamas “will consider any international troops imposed on our people as an occupation force” and Hamas and other groups have said they will oppose any measure that hinders the armed “resistance.”

Both Hamas and Israel have already brushed aside a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate truce in the territory.

The conflict has sparked worldwide pro-Palestinian demonstrations, including rallies in Europe that drew tens of thousands of protesters.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket attacks since the operation began, as Palestinian militants have fired more than 600 rockets, some of them penetrating deeper than ever inside Israel.(PDI)

Israel attacks continue despite UN resolution

January 10, 2009

GAZA CITY: Israel battered Gaza with bombs and shells on Friday, vowing its offensive on Hamas would go on despite an order by the UN Security Council to stop the assault that has killed hundreds of civilians.

“Israel has never agreed for any outside influence to decide on its right to defend its citizens,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, according to a statement from his office.

“The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] will continue to operate in order to defend the citizens of Israel and will carry out the task it was given for the operation,” said the statement, which was released as the Israeli security cabinet met to debate how to proceed with the two-week-old campaign.

“This morning’s rocket fire against the citizens in the south only proves that the UN resolution is not practical and will not be respected by the Palestinian terror organizations,” Olmert said.

A Hamas official in Beirut, Raafat Morra, said his group was also rejecting the UN resolution, because “it is not in the best interest of the Palestinian people.”

Israel staged more than 50 air strikes in Gaza which Palestinian emergency services said killed 12 civilians, taking the death toll since the campaign began to almost 800.

Hamas and its allies fired more than 15 rockets into southern Israel, injuring one person, the military said. At least four Grad rockets hit Beersheva, about 40 kilometers from Gaza.

UN resolution

Pressure on the two sides increased with the UN Security Council resolution, which demanded an “immediate, durable” ceasefire leading to the “full withdrawal” of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas called the UN move an “important step,” but stressed that applying it was key.

“The credibility of the international community is at stake,” his spokesman quoted him as saying. “We need words to be translated into deeds.”

Israel has been strongly criticized by UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other aid groups. The text called for “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment.”

Fourteen of the 15 council members voted in favor. The United States, Israel’s main ally, abstained but refrained from vetoing the resolution agreed after lengthy negotiations between Arab and Western foreign ministers.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States had wanted to see what happened to a peace initiative by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who has invited Israel and the Palestinians to Cairo for talks on truce conditions.

Israel’s plans

Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, political rivals in the ruling coalition, held a special meeting before starting a security Cabinet with other top ministers and military leaders.

The three key ministers are divided over how to continue Operation Cast Lead.

Olmert is reported to be in favor of pursuing the military offensive, while Labor leader Barak wants a ceasefire. Livni has spoken out against any ceasefire with Hamas because this would give implicit recognition of the Islamist movement which Israel and most Western nations have on their terrorist lists.

Israel launched its war against Hamas on December 27 aiming to end rocket attacks in southern Israel and the smuggling of weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Palestinian medics say at least 785 people have been killed since then.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or rocket attacks into Israel over the same time. Hamas has demanded the end of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, imposed after the Islamist group pledged to Israel’s destruction seized power there in June 2007.

Collateral damage

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it is restricting Gaza operations to the territory’s main city after a vehicle was hit, apparently by Israeli forces, a spokeswoman said.

“We had an incident when one of our trucks traveling at the front of a convoy of 13 ambulances delivering medical assistance to south Gaza was shot at,” Red Cross spokesman Anne Sophie Bonefeld told Agence France-Presse. She said one person was wounded.

“We very much believe it was the IDF [Israeli military]” and the Red Cross were temporarily limiting operations to Gaza City to review security arrangements.

There has been mounting criticism of the civilian death toll from Israel’s offensive. The main UN Palestinian relief agency, UNRWA, suspended operations in the enclave on Thursday after a UN convoy was hit by two Israeli tank shells, killing a truck driver.

Hamas position

Hamas criticized the decision by the agency, which distributes food to about half of Gaza’s 1.5 million people as well as running schools and other centers.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has accused Israel of failing to help the wounded after rescuers found four small children clinging to their dead mothers.

Israel has said it was investigating the incidents but has repeatedly insisted Hamas is to blame for civilian deaths because the Islamist fighters operate from densely populated areas.

Thousands of Israeli security forces were deployed in east Jerusalem on Friday after Hamas called for a “day of wrath” over the Gaza offensive following similar protests last week.

The Army also sealed off the West Bank for 48 hours, with movement in and out of the territory prohibited except for emergencies and special cases.
–AFP(ManilaTimes)

17 Pinoys evacuated from Gaza

January 9, 2009

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that only 17 Filipinos were evacuated from the Gaza Strip out of the 108 that they hope to be moved Thursday morning.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. said the 17 Filipinos were among the 250 foreigners that were transported using six buses.

Arroyo Watch: Sun.Star blog on President Arroyo

“The ICRC-led convoy of six buses with 250 foreigners including 17 Filipino nationals has just arrived at the Erez Crossing,” Conejos said.

He said Philippine Ambassador to Israel Petronila Garcia and the embassy team had been on standby at the Gaza-Israel border to meet the Filipino evacuees.

From the Erez Crossing, Garcia will bring the evacuees to the Allenby Crossing which is within the border of Israel and Jordan.

“Ambassador Garcia and the embassy team are at the Gaza border to meet the evacuees and ferry them to the Allenby Crossing at the Israel-Jordan border,” Conejos added.

The DFA official hoped that they would evacuate the 108 Filipinos in Gaza as tension between the two warring parties is expected to escalate further.

He said the planned evacuation of the 108 Filipinos have been coordinated with other countries that are also planning to move their citizens that were caught in the tension.

“All the 108 Filipinos have been advised to join the planned evacuation,” Conejos said. (MSN/Sunnex)

GLOBAL NEWS: Thousands in Lebanon, Turkey protest Israel attack

January 5, 2009

BEIRUT (AP) – Thousands protesting Israel’s ground offensive on Gaza converged yesterday in Beirut and the Turkish capital, as the leaders of the only two Mideast Arab nations to sign peace treaties with Israel demanded an end to the attack.

In Yemen, security officials said anti-Israel protesters attacked several Jewish homes in the northern province of Omran, smashing windows and pelting them with rocks. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said at least one Jewish resident was injured among the tiny minority community.

Lebanese police used water hoses to try to push about 250 demonstrators away from the US Embassy in Lebanon’s capital. When that failed, they fired tear gas, said Lebanese security officials. A second Beirut protest — a sit-in outside the UN building — drew thousands of supporters of Hamas and Lebanon’s Islamic Group.

In Turkey, more than 5,000 people held an anti-Israel rally in Istanbul, waving Palestinian flags and burning effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President George W. Bush. Also in Istanbul, club-wielding police broke up a small demonstration by protesters who hurled eggs at the Israeli Consulate, the private Dogan news agency reported. There were no reports of arrests or injuries.

Israel’s weeklong aerial bombardment of Gaza and the start of the ground offensive Saturday against Hamas have drawn condemnation across the Muslim and Arab world and news coverage of the invasion has dominated Arab satellite television stations.

Thousands in cities from Tehran to Damascus have also taken to the streets to protest the attacks, which have killed about 500 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,600, according to Gaza officials.

In some cases, the protests of the past week were as directed against Arab governments as much as Israel, with many criticizing their perceived inaction or lack of sufficient support of the Palestinians.

Yesterday, the leaders of Egypt and Jordan — the only two Mideast Arab countries to sign a peace agreement with Israel and maintain diplomatic ties — condemned the ground offensive and called for an end to Israel’s onslaught in Gaza.

Several hundred Jordanians shouting “death to Israel” protested against the Gaza offensive yesterday in two separate demonstrations in central Amman, the Jordanian capital. The protests were peaceful and police made no arrests.

In parliament meanwhile, the Jordanian government came under criticism from Islamic opposition lawmakers demanding that it suspend relations with Israel.

“All options are available to assess the relationship with every side, especially Israel,” Prime Minister Nader al-Dahabi told parliament during a heated debate.

“We will reconsider relations according to our higher national interests,” he said. “We will not remain silent about the situation and the serious deterioration in Gaza and neither about the threat which risks the security of the whole area and its stability.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who runs his own Palestinian administration from the West Bank, also denounced Israel’s ground offensive as “brutal aggression” in his harshest words yet in describing Israel’s assault on his Hamas rivals.

Israel says the aim of the operation is to stop the Palestinian militant Hamas group from firing rockets at southern Israeli towns. Hamas is opposed to any peace settlement with Israel and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

“This battle will end a (peace) settlement forever,” Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, told the protesters at the sit-in. “This battle will show who are the men.”

Five civilians and one policeman were lightly injured in the clash outside the US Embassy earlier in the day, according to the Lebanese officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Meanwhile, the leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, discussed the situation in Gaza with visiting chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, the group’s Al-Manar TV said.

Al-Manar did not give further details but said Nasrallah and Jalili, who arrived here Saturday from neighboring Syria, discussed “ways of ending this aggression.”

Hezbollah, which is a strong ally of Hamas, possesses a formidable arsenal of rockets and missiles that bloodied Israel during a monthlong war in 2006. Hezbollah has not threatened to join Hamas in its current battle with Israel, but Nasrallah said last week that his men are on alert in case Israel attacks Lebanon.(PhilStar)

GLOBAL NEWS: Gaza civilians left exposed in Israeli invasion

January 5, 2009

GAZA CITY (AP) – With booms from artillery and airstrikes keeping them awake, the 10 members of Lubna Karam’s family spent the night huddled in the hallway of their Gaza City home.

Earlier strikes shattered the living room windows, letting cold air pour in. The Karams haven’t had electricity for a week and have run out of cooking gas. The family, including three small children younger than four, eats cold, canned beans.

“It’s war food,” said Karam, 28. “What else can we do?”

As Israel’s offensive against Hamas moves from pinpointed airstrikes to ground fighting and artillery shelling, Gaza’s civilians are increasingly exposed. Some two dozen civilians were killed within hours after the start of Israel’s ground invasion Saturday night.

Israel says eight days of aerial bombardment, followed by the ground invasion, seek to undermine Hamas’ ability to fire rockets at the Jewish state. So far, more than 500 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed. Palestinian and UN officials say at least 100 Palestinian civilians are among the dead.

The ground offensives will put Israeli solders, Gaza militants and civilians in much closer quarters.

The guiding principle of Israel’s ground invasion is to move in with full force and try to minimize Israeli casualties, Israeli military correspondent Alex Fishman wrote in the daily Yediot Ahronoth. “We’ll pay the international price later for the collateral damage and the anticipated civilian casualties,” Fishman said.

While Israeli said its airstrikes have targeted only Hamas installations and leaders, some of the bombs were so powerful that they destroyed or damaged adjacent houses.

Karam said she always felt under threat. She said her family didn’t sleep. “We keep hearing the sounds of airplanes and we don’t know if we’ll live until tomorrow, or not,” she said.

Anas Mansour, 21, a resident of the Rafah refugee camp on the Gaza-Egypt border, said he and his family may try to leave the area later yesterday. Mansour said he was sleeping in his clothes, with his identification cards in his pocket in case he had to flee quickly.

He said he could see his neighbor loading a donkey cart with mattresses and blankets to leave, but hadn’t yet decided if he’d do the same. “Where can we go? It’s all the same,” Mansour said.

Deprivation is nothing new in Gaza, but the Israeli-led blockade of the territory has grown increasingly tighter over the past two months, making cooking gas and many foods scare.

Adding to that, last week’s bombings damaged the strip’s sanitary and electrical infrastructure, leaving many residents without power and water, and most shops are now shuttered.

“When there was a siege, we kept taking about a catastrophe,” said Hatem Shurrab, 24, of Gaza City. “But then the airstrikes started, and now we don’t even know what word to use. There’s no word in the dictionary that can describe the situation we are in.”(PhilStar)

Israeli troops invade Gaza

January 5, 2009

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Smoke caused by explosions rises over Gaza City yesterday. AP

GAZA CITY – Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early yesterday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum.

At least 23 Palestinians were killed in the new fighting as trucks and cars packed with families fled Gaza City and other towns ahead of the biggest Israeli military operation since its 2006 war with Lebanon.

Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive after a week of intense aerial bombardment.

Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light and bursts of machine-gun fire rang out.

Witnesses said that Israeli infantry units and tanks had taken control of the Salaheddine Road, the main highway along the length of the enclave, dividing Gaza.

TV footage showed Israeli troops with night-vision goggles and camouflage face paint marching in single file. Artillery barrages preceded their advance, and they moved through fields and orchards following bomb-sniffing dogs ensuring their routes had not been booby-trapped.

The military said troops killed or wounded dozens of militant fighters.

Palestinian medics and doctors said 23 Palestinians have been killed – three Hamas fighters and the rest civilians. Many of the casualties were in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting.

A Palestinian child was killed and 11 other children were wounded in the strike, when a tank shell hit a house in eastern Gaza City, Gaza medics said.

Israel launched the nighttime offensive on Saturday after eight days of air strikes in which at least 485 Palestinians died and more than 2,400 were wounded, Gaza medics said.

More than 80 children are among the dead.

Explosions and shooting could be heard in many areas as troops backed by Apache helicopters forged into the territory, they said.

Militants fired mortars and detonated roadside bombs. The heaviest fighting was reported in and around Jabaliya.

Army ambulances were seen bringing Israeli wounded to a hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. The military reported 30 Israeli troops were wounded, two seriously, in the opening hours of the offensive.

But an army spokeswoman said 28 Israeli soldiers have been wounded, two of them seriously, in the ground invasion.

Hamas said nine soldiers had been killed in the operation. The army refused to comment on the claim.

According to the spokeswoman, “28 soldiers have been wounded, with two of them — an officer and a soldier — seriously wounded.”

A statement from Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said that in monitoring Israeli military radio traffic, it learned that five soldiers had been killed.

In his first public comments since the ground operation was launched, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday that the invasion was unavoidable and that his government exhausted all other options before approving the operation.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak predicted a long and difficult campaign in Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.4 million where militants operate and easily hide among the crowded urban landscape.

Hamas threatened to turn Gaza into a “graveyard” for Israeli forces.

“You entered like rats,” Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan told Israeli soldiers in a statement on Hamas’ Al Aqsa television. “Gaza will be a graveyard for you, God willing.”

The ground operation is the second phase in an offensive that began as a weeklong aerial onslaught aimed at halting Hamas rocket fire that has reached deeper and deeper into Israel, threatening major cities and one-eighth of Israel’s population. Palestinian officials say dozens of civilians were killed in the air offensive.

Rocket fire has persisted, however, and several rockets fell in Israel on Sunday morning, causing no casualties. In much of southern Israel school has been canceled and life has been largely paralyzed.

While the air offensive presented little risk for Israel’s army, sending in ground troops is a much more dangerous proposition.

Hamas is believed to have some 20,000 gunmen intimately familiar with the dense urban landscape. For months, Israeli leaders had resisted a ground invasion, fearing heavy casualties.

No choice but war

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he decided that the government had no more choice.

“I want to be able to go to the Israeli public and all the mothers and say, ‘We did everything in a responsible manner,’” Olmert said in a statement released by his office.

“In the end, we reached the moment where I had to decide to send out soldiers.”

Olmert stressed the campaign’s objective is to restore quiet to Israel’s south, not to topple Hamas or reoccupy Gaza.

Israel considers Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since June 2007 and is sworn to Israel’s destruction, a terrorist group.

Israel has launched at least two other large ground offensives in Gaza since withdrawing its troops from the area in 2005. But the size of this latest operation dwarfs those, with at least three times the firepower.

Israel also has called up tens of thousands of reserve soldiers, which defense officials said could enable a far broader ground offensive as the operation’s third phase.

The troops could also be used in the event Palestinian militants in the West Bank or Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon decide to launch attacks. Hezbollah opened a war against Israel in 2006 when it was in the midst of a large operation in Gaza.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the military’s preparations are classified.

Cutting through

An armored force south of Gaza City penetrated as deep as the abandoned settlement of Netzarim, which Israel left along with other Israeli communities when it pulled out of Gaza in 2005, both military officials and Palestinian witnesses said.

Israeli tanks and troops had pushed into two areas of northern Gaza, one near the Erez crossing and another east of the town of Jabaliya, near an Islamic cemetery.

That move effectively cut off Gaza City, the territory’s largest population center with about 400,000 people, from the rest of Gaza to the south.

The offensive focused on northern Gaza, where most of the rockets are fired into Israel, but at least one incursion was reported in the southern part of the strip. Hamas uses smuggling tunnels along the southern border with Egypt to bring in weapons.

Warplanes struck about four dozen targets overnight, including tunnels, weapons storage facilities, areas used to launch mortars and squads of Hamas fighters, the military said.

Israeli tanks opened fire on Hamas positions after entering the impoverished territory and Hamas forces replied with mortar fire, witnesses said.

They said there were explosions and tank fire just north of Jabaliya, where Palestinian militants were responding with rocket fire.

Gunboats backed up the ground forces, attacking Hamas intelligence headquarters in Gaza City, rocket-launching areas and positions of Hamas marine forces.

Hamas has been responding with mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades. Field commanders communicated over walkie talkie, updating gunmen on the location of Israeli forces. Commanders told gunmen in the streets not to gather in big groups and not to use cell phones. Hamas’ TV and radio stations, broadcasting from secret locations after their offices were destroyed, remained on the air, broadcasting live coverage.

Ground forces had not entered major Gaza towns and cities by early yesterday morning, instead fighting in rural communities and open areas militants often use to launch rockets and mortar rounds. Militants also fire from heavily populated neighborhoods.

Residents of the small northern Gaza community of al-Attatra said soldiers moved from house to house by blowing holes through walls. Most of the houses were unoccupied, their residents already having fled.

Israel launched the air campaign against Gaza on Dec. 27. Gaza health officials say more than 480 Palestinians were killed in the first eight days of the operation.

The breakdown of combatants and civilians remains unclear, but the UN says at least 100 civilians were killed in the initial, aerial phase of the war.

Hundreds of rockets have hit Israel so far, and four Israelis have been killed.

The decision to send ground troops into Gaza was taken after Hamas kept up its rocket fire despite the aerial assault, government officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions leading up to wartime decisions are confidential.

Outrage

The ballooning death toll in Gaza — along with concerns of a looming humanitarian crisis — has aroused mounting world outrage, as evidenced by protests that drew tens of thousands of demonstrators in European capitals on Saturday.

“There is a humanitarian crisis. It’s impossible to say how many innocent women, innocent children and innocent babies are being caught up in this conflict, who are being maimed and killed,” said Chris Gunness, a UN spokesman. “This offensive must stop.”

The offensive has sparked spiraling anger in the Muslim world and protests across the globe.

Denunciations also came from the French government, which unsuccessfully proposed a two-day truce earlier this week, and from Egypt, which brokered the six-month truce whose breakdown preceded the Israeli offensive.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said “what is happening in the UN Security Council is a farce that shows the level that America and Zionist occupier dominates its decisions.”

But the US has put the blame squarely on Hamas. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said US officials have been in regular contact with the Israelis as well as officials from countries in the region and Europe.

“We continue to make clear to them our concerns for civilians, as well as the humanitarian situation,” he said.

At an emergency consultation of the UN Security Council on Saturday night, the US blocked approval of a statement demanded by Arab countries that would have called for an immediate ceasefire. US deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the US believed that such a statement “would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, (and) would not do credit to the council.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due on Israel today for talks on a ceasefire with Olmert in Jerusalem.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Koucher called the ground invasion a “dangerous military escalation” that would undermine attempts to broker a truce.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke with Olmert, “pressing hard for an immediate ceasefire.”

Hamas began to emerge as Gaza’s main power broker when it won Palestinian parliamentary elections three years ago. It has ruled the impoverished territory since seizing control from forces loyal to moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007. –AP(PhilStar)