15, 2009 - No. 11
Israel's Criminal Campaign
of Death and Destruction
Long Live the Palestinian Resistance!
Nations headquarters in Gaza City after being bombed by Israeli
Occupation Forces, January 15, 2009.
• Death and
Destruction in Gaza City
• Criminal Bombing of UN
Crimes Committed by Occupation Forces
• My Message to the West -- Israel
Must Stop the Slaughter - Ismail Haniyeh
• Hamas: IOF Troops Must Get out
of Gaza, Siege Must Be Lifted
• Emergency Session of UN General
• Suit Filed in the Hague for
Crimes against Humanity
• Israel May Face UN Court Ruling
on Legality of Gaza Conflict
• Bolivia Cuts Ties with Israel
• Canadian Jewish Activists
Condemn Attempts to Smear Critics of Israeli Atrocities
• Possible Israeli War Scenarios
on Gaza and Lebanon
• Demonstrations in
Palestine, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Cuba
Death and Destruction in Gaza City
On the 20th day of its criminal "Operation Cast
Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) are intensifying their campaign of
death and destruction as they push deeper into Gaza City
and the surrounding areas of Jabaliya and Beit Hanoun.
John Ging, director of operations for the UN
Relief Works Agency (UNRWA),
appealed to the international community on January 14 to protect Gaza's
civilians, saying nowhere in the territory of 1.5 million people was
safe any longer with the conflict becoming "a test of our humanity."
"All the people, the first thing they say
to me and the last thing they say to me is 'Please, we need protection,
nowhere is safe.'"
The UN reports that Gaza hospitals are near
collapse trying to cope with the nearly 5,000 injured. As of today
Palestinians have been killed, including more than 670 civilians. Al
Jazeera reports more than 80,000
Palestinians have fled their homes.
The IOF also continues to attack civilian
and humanitarian facilities. These include the UN Headquarters in Gaza
City and offices of media and press organizations on January 15 and a
hospital in Tal al-Hawa on January 14. The UN headquarters had just
taken in 700 refugees when it was attacked,
while the hospital had about 500 people taking shelter inside when it
came under attack. "The last hit was on the Red Crescent's operations
building and destroyed the pharmacy. There's a hole in the roof and a
fire is still burning," hospital volunteer Sharon Locke told Al Jazeera
in the aftermath on January 14.
rises from a tower block (at left) in Gaza City that
houses the offices of Reuters and other media organizations after being
shelled by the IOF, forcing an evacuation and disrupting coverage,
January 15, 2009. Right: Lebanese journalists protest against the killing of
journalists in Gaza in
front of the UN headquarters in Beirut, January 15, 2009.
A UN official said January 14 that an Israeli
shell had hit one of its cars used to ferry senior UN officials in
Gaza. The car was clearly marked, emblazoned with the UN Relief Works
Agency (UNRWA) initials and carrying a UN flag lit with a spotlight.
The driver was wounded. "I'm sure it was an
Israeli shell targeting the vehicle." said UNRWA spokesperson Chris
Shelling also continues during the daily
three-hour so-called humanitarian corridor or "lull" in IOF attacks to
allow Gazans to find food and medical supplies, Al Jazeera reports.
Al Jazeera 's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting today
from Gaza City, said that the Israeli shelling was the closest it had
been to the city centre. "There have, no doubt, been a series of air
strikes that have destroyed so many of the buildings here in the heart
of Gaza City, but this is the first time we have
seen this kind of shelling," he said. "We are getting some very
horrific accounts from people trapped in buildings unable to leave."
Elsewhere, the town of Rafah near the Egyptian
border suffered extensive Israeli bombardment on January 13 causing
several thousand residents to flee their homes on Tuesday. Israel is
using "bunker-busting" bombs in the area, attempting to destroy
underground tunnels which have been used to circumvent
the blockade of Gaza.
"They used bombs that went deep into the tunnels
and shook the whole Rafah refugee camp. The land trembled beneath our
feet," local Palestinian cameraman Bassam Abdallah said.
The Israeli attacks have completely reduced a
large part of Rafah to rubble, with Al Jazeera's Gaza correspondent
saying, "It has been described as hell on earth by some of the
witnesses we have met."
On Wednesday, January 14 various
UN agencies and aid organizations issued statements about the
humanitarian situation in Gaza.
"Pregnant women and their newborn babies are some
of the unseen victims of the current crisis in Gaza," said UN
Population Fund (UNFPA) executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid.
"Without attention to their special needs, including safe access to
proper care and nutrition, many of them could suffer
from silent deaths."
"Putting an end to violence and civilian
casualties is not an option, it is an obligation," said Charles Clayton
of World Vision Jerusalem. "We cannot stress enough that the current
situation needs to be addressed without further delay. Too many people
have died already."
A joint statement from Save the Children, Oxfam
International, World Vision Jerusalem, Christian Aid and CARE
International added that the three-hour "lull" in the fighting for the
delivery of aid, which is now restricted to Gaza City, diverts
attention away from the immediate need for a ceasefire.
David Bourns, director for Save the Children in
Palestine said, "With shelters overflowing, food shortages, inadequate
facilities and the general sense of panic and abandonment felt, we must
be allowed to sufficiently assist the needy population of the Gaza
Strip at once."
Last week, CARE International staffers were forced
to flee a food distribution site when heavy bombing hit the area.
Distribution of food takes at least five hours per delivery. A daily
delivery of medical supplies took 11 hours last week -- far longer than
the three-hour "lull" promised by the Israeli
Even with an increase in the number of workers
packing and dispatching, the needs of clinics and hospitals can't be
met in the short time frame, the group said.
Oxfam International said it is "impossible" to
perform its work within the Gaza Strip during the three-hour lull.
Oxfam's seven staff members in Gaza, most whom have themselves been
displaced due to the violence, are also struggling to deliver food to
thousands of civilians in such a tight space of
"The lulls are barely long enough to distribute a
minimum of aid to the people who need it. In most cases, it's simply
not sufficient time to provide adequate assistance," said Oxfam's John
Prideaux-Brune. "It's akin to putting a band-aid on a bullet wound when
surgery and life support is what is needed,"
Meanwhile, during his regular televised briefing
from Gaza on January 14, the chief of the UN relief operation in Gaza,
John Ging, said: "Everywhere here there is death and destruction.
Everyone I met in the [UN] shelter, everyone has a traumatic story to
tell. It's horrifying."
Despite the Israeli onslaught, the alleged aim of
which is to stop Palestinian rocket fire, more than a dozen rockets
were fired from Gaza into Israeli territory on January 14.
Meanwhile, a Greek-flagged vessel Spirit
of Humanity with the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement trying to
break the blockade was forced to turn back to Cyprus by an Israeli
naval vessel after being intercepted about 160 km northeast of Gaza
today. Huwaida Arraf, an organizer with Free
Gaza, told Reuters that the Israeli ship "got very close and they
threatened that if we continued they would open fire on us. They
surrounded us with about four warships making it very difficult to
navigate. They said they would use all means to keep us out of Gaza." Spirit
of Humanity was carrying doctors,
journalists, human rights workers and parliamentarians. The ship also
carried over a ton of medicines donated by the European Campaign to
Break the Siege. The latest attempt by Free Gaza to breech the blockade
comes after another of its vessels, the Dignity,
was rammed and severely damaged by an
Israeli naval vessel on December 30.
Hizbullah Deputy Secretary-General Naeem Qassem,
speaking January 14 at a forum at the Lebanese University's faculty of
law said, "Israel is heading towards defeat, while the resistance
(Hamas) and the people of Gaza are heading towards victory. I can say
that we are now in the age of resistance
and there is no going back." The war in Gaza has produced a sharp
between popular and official stances, Qassem said. "Those who stand
next to Gaza, its resistance and the Palestinians are the product of
the resistance culture, while those who stand next to America and
Israel are the Arab losers who follow the camp of
surrender," he explained.
"The Israelis wish to accomplish two things via
their aggression on Gaza; either to finish the resistance off and end
the Palestinian cause forever, or to place the entire region in the
framework of the new Middle East," said Qassem.
Qassem added that the successes of the Palestinian
resistance meant the revival and continuation of the Palestinian cause
and all other causes in the region. More than 200
people have been killed since the UN called for a ceasefire on January
8 and many more are still dying, they said.
Criminal Bombing of UN Headquarters
Nations workers and Palestinian firefighters try and put out fires and
save bags of food aid at the UN headquarters in Gaza after it was
bombed by Israeli Occupation Forces, January 15, 2009.
Israeli Occupation Forces shelled the UN
headquarters in the Gaza Strip today, engulfing the compound and a
warehouse in fire. Thousands of pounds of food and humanitarian
supplies for distribution to Palestinian refugees by the UN Works and
Relief Agency (UNRWA), also housed in the compound, were
destroyed in the attack. Just that morning, the compound had also
become a makeshift shelter for 700 Gaza City residents.
Israeli shells first hit the courtyard filled
with refugees, then struck garages and the UN's main warehouse, sending
thousands of tons of food aid up in flames, said John Ging, director of
UNRWA operations in Gaza. Later, fuel supplies went up in flames,
sending a thick black plume of smoke into
Ging said the attack on the compound caused a
"massive explosion" that wounded three people.
"It's a total disaster for us," Ging said, adding
that the UN had warned the Israeli military that the compound was in
peril from shelling that had begun overnight. The refugees have now
been moved to a school away from the immediate fighting, he added.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in Israel to
negotiate a truce, said, "I conveyed my strong protest and outrage to
minister and foreign minister and demanded a full explanation." The
Israeli defense minister told him there
had been a "grave mistake," said Ban.
UNRWA Director John Ging at UN headquarters in Gaza, January 15, 2009.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resorted to a
claim of self-defence, saying the Israeli military only fired artillery
shells at the UN compound after militants allegedly opened fire from
the location. "It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that
place, but the consequences are very sad and we
apologize for it," he said. "I don't think it should have happened and
I'm very sorry."
Ging, present in the compound at the time
dismissed the explanation as "nonsense."
Even though UN officials provide the IOF with GPS
coordinates for all UN installations in Gaza, Israeli shells also
landed next to a UN school in another Gaza City neighbourhood, wounding
14 people who had sought sanctuary there, medics and firefighters said.
An Israeli attack on a UN school in
Jabaliya in northern Gaza January 5 killed more than forty people.
Elsewhere in Gaza City, Israeli shells also
struck a hospital, five high-rise apartment buildings and a building
housing media outlets, injuring several journalists. Bullets also
entered offices of the Associated Press. The Foreign Press Association,
representing journalists covering Israel and the Palestinian
territories, demanded a halt to attacks on press buildings. The
Associated Press reports that like the UN facilities, the Israeli army
had been given the locations of media organizations at the outset of
fighting to prevent such incidents.
Unprecedented Crimes Committed
by Occupation Forces
The following item was posted by IslamOnline.net,
"Oh, God! I have never seen such a terrible
scene," cried Kayed Abu Aukal. The emergency doctor could not
believe himself seeing the remains of
what was days back Shahd, a full-fleshed 4-year-old Palestinian girl.
She died when an Israeli shell was fired at the
backyard of her home
in the Jabalya refugee camp northern Gaza strip where she was playing.
When her parents attempted to rush to the rescue
of their child, who
fell to the ground amid a pool of her blood, a hail of Israeli bullets
kept them a distance. For the next five days Shahd's body was
left lying in the open left for dogs to tear out.
"The dogs did leave one single part of the poor
baby's body intact," said a tearful Abu Aukal. "We have seen
heart-breaking scenes over the past 18 days. We picked
up children whose bodies were torn or burnt, but nothing like this."
For five days Shahd's brother, Matar, and cousin,
Mohamed, tried in
vain to reach her body. They were fired at by the Israeli occupation
forces every time.
Seeing the body of the little angel torn to piece
by the assaulting dogs, the two made one final attempt, and it was
their last. They were showered by Israeli bullets before they
Shahd's body, joining a long list of more than 920 Palestinians killed
by Israel since December 27.
Omran Zayda, a young neighbor, said the Israelis
knew very well what they were doing.
"They chased her family and prevented them from
reaching to her body, knowing that the dogs would eat it," he
said. "They are not just killing our children, they are
intentionally doing so in the most heinous and inhuman ways."
Zayda said words, and even cameras, can not
describe the horrific scene. "You can never imagine what the
dogs have done to her innocent body," he said, fighting back his tears.
Many Palestinians insist Shahd was not the first
or only such case.
In Jabalya, when Abd Rabu's family was trying to
bury three of its
dead, the Israeli forces started firing at them, witnesses
said. They then released their dogs at the bodies, deserted by
mourners who sought shelter from the Israeli gunfire, they added.
"What happened was awful and unthinkable," Saad
Abd Rabu, the deceased uncle, told IOL.
"Our sons died before our eyes and we were even
prevented from burying them," he cried. "The Israelis just
released their dogs at their bodies, as even they have not done enough."
My Message to the West --
Israel Must Stop the
I write this article to Western readers across the
social and political spectrum as the Israeli war machine continues to
massacre my people in Gaza. To date, almost 1,000 have been killed,
nearly half of whom are women and children. Last week's bombing of the
UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency) school in
the Jabalya refugee camp was one of the most despicable crimes
imaginable, as hundreds of civilians had abandoned their homes and
sought refuge with the international agency only to be mercilessly
shelled and bombed by Israel. Forty-six children and women were killed
in that heinous attack while scores were
Evidently, Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
in 2005 did not end its occupation nor, as a result, its international
obligations as an occupying power. It continued to control and dominate
our borders by land, sea and air. Indeed the UN has confirmed that
between 2005 and 2008, the Israeli army
killed nearly 1,250 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. For
most of that period the border crossings have remained effectively
closed, with only limited quantities of food, industrial fuel, animal
feed and a few other essential items, allowed in.
Despite its frantic efforts to conceal it, the
root cause of Israel's criminal war on Gaza is the elections of January
2006, which saw Hamas win by a substantial majority. What occurred next
was that Israel alongside the United States and the European Union
joined forces in an attempt to quash the democratic
will of the Palestinian people. They set about reversing the decision
first by obstructing the formation of a national unity government and
then by making a living hell for the Palestinian people through
economic strangulation. The abject failure of all these machinations
finally led to this vicious war. Israel's objective
is to silence all voices that express the will of the Palestinian;
thereafter it would impose its own terms for a final settlement
depriving us of our land, our right to Jerusalem as the rightful
capital of our future state and the Palestinian refugees' right to
return to their homes.
Ultimately, the comprehensive siege on Gaza, which
manifestly violated the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibited the most
basic medical supplies to our hospitals. It disallowed the delivery of
fuel and supply of electricity to our population. And on top of all of
this inhumanity, it denied them food
and the freedom of movement, even to seek treatment. This led to the
avoidable death of hundreds of patients and the spiralling rise of
malnutrition among our children.
Palestinians are appalled that the members of the
European Union do not view this obscene siege as a form of aggression.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, they shamelessly assert that Hamas
brought this catastrophe upon the Palestinian people because it did not
renew the truce. Yet we ask, did
Israel honour the terms of the ceasefire mediated by Egypt in June? It
did not. The agreement stipulated a lifting of the siege and an end to
attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Despite our full
compliance, the Israelis persisted in murdering Palestinians in Gaza as
well as the West Bank during what became
known as the year of the Annapolis peace.
None of the atrocities committed against our
schools, universities, mosques, ministries and civil infra-structure
would deter us in the pursuit of our national rights. Undoubtedly,
Israel could demolish every building in the Gaza Strip but it would
never shatter our determination or steadfastness to live
in dignity on our land. Surely, if the gathering of civilians in a
building only to then bomb it or the use of phosphorous bombs and
missiles are not war crimes, then what is? How many more international
treaties and conventions must Zionist Israel breach before it is held
accountable? There is not a capital in the
world today where free and decent people are not outraged by this
brutal oppression. Neither Palestine nor the world would be the same
after these crimes.
There is only one way forward and no other. Our
condition for a new ceasefire is clear and simple. Israel must end its
criminal war and slaughter of our people, lift completely and
unconditionally its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, open all our
border crossings and completely withdraw from Gaza. After
this we would consider future options. Ultimately, the Palestinians are
a people struggling for freedom from occupation and the establishment
of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of
refugees to their villages from which they were expelled. Whatever the
cost, the continuation of Israel's
massacres will neither break our will nor our aspiration for freedom
Hamas: IOF Troops Must Get out of Gaza,
Must Be Lifted
The Hamas Movement in the West Bank has reiterated
Wednesday its rejection to any solutions and initiatives that don't
clearly stipulate the immediate halt of the Israeli Occupation Forces
(IOF) aggression on Gaza, the swift withdrawal of the IOF troops, and
the instant lifting of the unjust economic siege on
the Gaza Strip.
In a statement it issued on the matter, and a copy
of which was obtained by the PIC, the Movement deplored the stand of a
number of Arab countries refusing to attend the extraordinary Arab
summit in the Qatari capital Doha on Friday to discuss Gaza, stressing,
"If the blood of 1000 Palestinian martyrs
and the blood of 4,500 Palestinians wounded is not enough for Arab
leaders to hold a summit, what else could stimulate those leaders [to
It also lashed out at Mahmoud Abbas for not
endorsing lawsuits filed by concerned agencies before the International
Criminal Court against Israeli officials accused of war crimes in Gaza.
"The behavior of Abbas shows how cheap is the
Palestinian blood for him," the Movement added in the statement,
condemning at the same time the torturing of Hamas cadres in Abbas's
jails in the West Bank despite the war on Gaza.
According to records of the Movement, around 200
Hamas cadres were rounded up by Abbas's security forces in different
parts of the West Bank in concert with the ongoing Israeli genocidal
onslaught in Gaza.
"In day one of the Israeli brutal attack on Gaza,
detained Hamas cadres in Abbas's jails were freed in handcuffs, and
believed they would be released and go home after what had happened to
Gaza; but they were surprised at being gathered together and subjected
to humiliating torture sessions at the
hands of Abbas' men who expressed joy over the Israeli attack on
Gaza," the Movement pointed out.
However, the Movement reiterated its call on the
Palestinian people throughout the West Bank to go in massive
demonstrations against the invasion, and to support the steadfastness
of their fellow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
"This coming Friday would be the day of the
Palestinian rage in addition to massive demonstrations at the Aqsa
Mosque and the rest of the West Bank mosques in support of Gaza that is
making victory for the Palestinian people and the Arab Ummah," the
Movement stressed in the statement.
Emergency Session of UN General Assembly Convoked
An emergency special session of the UN General
Assembly has been convoked for today by Assembly president Miguel
d'Escoto. "The number of victims in Gaza is increasing by the day...
The situation is untenable. It's genocide," d'Escoto told Al Jazeera
television January 13. "It's unbelievable that a country
that owes its existence to a General Assembly resolution could be so
disdainful of the resolutions that emanate from the UN," he said,
referring to Israel.
D'Escoto's spokesman Enrique Yeves said the
General Assembly president decided to convene the emergency meeting
after a number of member states, disappointed with the Israeli defiance
of the latest Security Council resolution, asked him to do so.
The General Assembly may call for an
international inquiry into the Israeli killing of hundreds of innocent
Palestinian men, women and children in Gaza, diplomatic sources told
Inter Press Service (IPS). "A number of countries are in favour of the
idea that Israel must be held accountable for its war
crimes in Gaza," said an Asian diplomat who did not want to be named.
"Most of those countries are from Africa and Asia and Latin America."
However, there is resistance to such a move on the part of certain
European and Arab countries. "The Arab world has a divided opinion," he
said. "Countries like Saudi
Arabia, Jordan and Egypt do not want such measures against Israel."
Intense discussions took place yesterday at UN
headquarters in New York to prepare the text of a resolution for a vote
at the emergency session, IPS says.
On January 13, UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Navi Pillay said accountability "must be ensured for violations
of international law." She suggested the UN Human Rights Council should
consider setting up a commission to assess violations by both sides in
The former chief of UN relief operations in
Palestine, Peter Hansen, told IPS: "Yes, [the Israelis] must be held
accountable for what they are doing in Gaza."
Diplomatic observers told IPS that had Israel
demonstrated its willingness to comply with Security Council resolution
1860, there would have been no need to convene the emergency session of
the General Assembly.
Non-Aligned Movement Condemns Israeli Aggression
Also on January 13, the 118-member Non-aligned
Movement (NAM) issued a statement deploring "the massive military
aggression" being carried out by Israel against the civilian population
in Gaza and its "blatant disregard" of the Security Council's
resolution, IPS reports. The report continues:
"NAM called for the 'immediate implementation' of
the resolution, including in particular its call for an immediate
ceasefire leading to the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces
from Gaza as well as for measures to address the pressing humanitarian
and economic needs of the Palestinian people.
"The largest political bloc in the General
Assembly described the Israeli military incursion into Gaza as 'a grave
breach' of international humanitarian and human rights law. It demanded
that Israel 'unconditionally comply' with its obligations as the
occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention
relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of Aug.
"NAM said it fully supports all diplomatic and
political efforts and initiatives being exerted at the international
and regional levels to address this crisis, including by the UN system,
stressing once again that there is no military solution to this crisis
or to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole.
"It also endorsed yesterday's Human Rights Council
resolution on the grave violations of human rights committed by the
Israeli military in Gaza and called for a 'speedy dispatch of the
independent international fact-finding mission' to investigate
violations of human rights and of international law by
Suit Filed in the Hague for Crimes against
outside UN offices in Amman Jordan, January 15, 2009.
Lawyers and jurists from several countries filed
on Wednesday a lawsuit before the International Criminal Court in The
This is the first in an expected string of suits
against the Israeli government and senior political and military
officials for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide stemming
from the current military operation against the Gaza Strip.
As part of a series of claims against the
Israelis, the "Palestinian Forum" in the Netherlands and the
Brussels-based "European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza" are
involved in the cooperative effort. In conjunction with the date of the
lawsuit the "Palestinian Forum" called for a mass protest and
sit-in in front of the International Criminal Court, affirming the need
for leaders to condemn the Israeli occupation for crimes against
humanity in Gaza.
Amin Abu Rashid, Secretary General of the
Palestinian Forum in the Netherlands and a founding member of the
European Campaign, said the move comes in light of the actions of
Israeli forces including "the ugly massacres." He also noted the
"collective rights of the Palestinian people in the Gaza
Strip," drawing attention to the nearly 1,000 killed and over 4,000
Abu Rashid stressed that "the continuation of this
war imposes obligations on all human rights defenders and those
involved in justice." He called for the intensification of collective
efforts to stop this aggression and to ensure that those involved in
perpetration will be held accountable.
"It is no longer possible for people of conscience
to stand idly by in the face of this chilling aggression and these
rising massacres. Now is the time for urgent moves in every direction
to curb the aggression and to curb the Israeli war machine that in the
past has committed mass murder with impunity."
The Netherlands-based Palestinian Forum leader
added that inaction "makes us witnesses to the brutal aggression
perpetrated by the most powerful military force in the Middle East."
Suits are planned to be filed for all of the one
and half million residents of the Gaza Strip.
Israel May Face UN Court Ruling
on Legality of
Israel faces the prospect of intervention by
international courts amid growing calls that its actions in Gaza are a
violation of world humanitarian and criminal law.
The UN general assembly, which is meeting this
week to discuss the issue, will consider requesting an advisory opinion
from the international court of justice, the Guardian
"There is a well-grounded view that both the
initial attacks on Gaza and the tactics being used by Israel are
serious violations of the UN charter, the Geneva conventions,
international law and international humanitarian law," said Richard
Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories
and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.
"There is a consensus among independent legal
experts that Israel is an occupying power and is therefore bound by the
duties set out in the fourth Geneva convention," Falk added. "The
arguments that Israel's blockade is a form of prohibited collective
punishment, and that it is in breach of its duty
to ensure the population has sufficient food and healthcare as the
occupying power, are very strong."
A Foreign Office source confirmed the UK would
consider backing calls for a reference to the ICJ. "It's definitely on
the table," the source said. "We have already called for an
investigation and are looking at all evidence and allegations."
An open letter to the prime minister signed by
prominent international lawyers and published in today's Guardian
states: "The United Kingdom government ... has a duty under
international law to exert its influence to stop violations of
international humanitarian law in the current conflict
between Israel and Hamas."
The letter argues that Israel has violated
principles of humanitarian law, including launching attacks directly
aimed at civilians and failing to discriminate between civilians and
The letter follows condemnation earlier this week
from leading QCs of Israel's action as a violation of international
law, and a vote by the UN's human rights council on Monday on a
resolution condemning the ongoing Israeli military operation in the
"The blockade of humanitarian relief, the
destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic
necessities such as food and fuel are prima
crimes," a group
of leading QCs and academics, including Michael Mansfield QC and Sir
Geoffrey Bindman, wrote in a letter to the Sunday
Israel has already been found to have violated its
obligations in international law by a previous advisory opinion of the
ICJ, and is likely to vigorously contest arguments that it is an
occupying power. It previously stated that occupation ceased after
disengagement from Gaza in 2005.
Its stance raises questions as to the utility of
an advisory opinion by the ICJ after Israel rejected its finding in a
previous case, which found the wall being constructed in the
Palestinian territories to be a violation of Israel's obligations under
international humanitarian law.
Questions are also being raised as to whether the
International Criminal Court, which deals with war crimes and crimes
against humanity, would have any jurisdiction to hear cases against
perpetrators of the alleged crimes on both sides of the conflict.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinian territories are signatories
to the Rome statute, which brings states within the jurisdiction of the
More likely, experts say, is the establishment of ad-hoc
tribunals of the kind created to deal with the war in the former
Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda.
"If there were the political will there could be
an ad-hoc tribunal established to hear
allegations of war crimes," Falk said. "This could be done by the
General Assembly acting under article 22 of the UN charter which gives
them the authority to establish subsidiary bodies."
Bolivia Cuts Ties with Israel
Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, said on
Wednesday his country is breaking off ties with Israel in protest
against its war in Gaza. Morales said he would seek to get top Israeli
officials, including Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, charged
with "genocide" in the International Criminal Court. Morales also
decried the UN and its "Insecurity Council" for its "lukewarm" response
to the crisis and said the General Assembly should hold an emergency
session to condemn the invasion.
"Considering these grave attacks against ...
humanity, Bolivia will stop having diplomatic relations with Israel,"
Morales told diplomats in the Bolivian capital, La Paz.
He also said that Shimon Peres, the Israeli
president, should be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize for failing to
stop the invasion.
Morales's move follows the decision of Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez to expel Israel's ambassador in the country
because of the offensive, calling it a "holocaust."
A reliable source in Hamas said in
a statement on Wednesday that Bolivia and Venezuela had taken honorable
stands in face of this cruel aggression. He added that Hamas was
surprised at the fact that a number of Arab countries are still
insisting on retaining relations with
Israel despite the savage crimes it was and still is committing against
the Palestinian people.
In related news, Ma'an news agency reports that
the city council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is twinned with
Bethlehem in the West
Bank, voted on a resolution to condemn Israel's ongoing onslaught in
Gaza. Home to both Harvard University and the Massachusetts School of
Technology, Cambridge city council
voted to become the first such American city to make official its
condemnation of the Israeli assault on Gaza.
Lawyer Shawqy Al-Ayaseh, the two cities' twinning
representative, said the council made its decision after a long meeting
in the presence of citizens, where negotiations lasted some three hours.
In addition to condemning violence against
civilians on both sides of the conflict, the city council insisted
Israel end the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
"How could I not do something?" City Councillor
Marjorie C. Decker, who authored the resolution with Cambridge Mayor E.
Denise Simmons, was quoted as saying in Harvard's student newspaper.
"To not say something feels very complicit," she
Canadian Jewish Activists Condemn Attempts to
Smear Critics of Israeli Atrocities
Activists and concerned community members are
voicing outrage that, in the context of an ongoing Israeli military
assault which has killed more than 1,100 Palestinians, wounded nearly
5,000 and destroyed essential civilian infrastructure in the already
devastated Gaza Strip, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC)
is seeking to smear those who have protested these atrocities.
The CJC planned to screen video and images at a
news conference January 14 from protests in Toronto, Montreal and
Calgary to show "pro-Hamas" demonstrations that are "uncivil,
un-Canadian, that demonize Jews and Israelis," according to CJC CEO
Bernie Farber. The CJC says it plans to ask both
local police and the RCMP to investigate whether any crimes might have
To provide information regarding the CJC's
connection to the propaganda campaign accompanying the latest Israeli
assault, on January 14, some of these concerned community members
assembled in front of Toronto's Sutton Place Hotel to denounce the
CJC's attempts to distract people from ongoing
Judy Deutsch, a member of Independent Jewish
Voices-Canada (IJV-Canada) and one of the eight Jewish women who
recently occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto to protest the
Israeli attack on Gaza, emphasizes that the real scandal is the
whitewashing of Israeli crimes as they transparently unfold.
"The disinformation from Israel is transparently dishonest and
shameless and is a travesty to all civilians caught up in this needless
invasion," Deutsch says. "There is no excuse for these distortions of
the facts as there is such reliable information from numerous human
rights and medical witnesses to the atrocities."
Dan Freeman-Maloy, a graduate student at York
University who researches Canadian-Israeli relations, notes that the
CJC is directly connected to Israel's system of wartime diplomacy. "It
is well known that Israel has established a National Information
Directorate to justify its invasion of Gaza before
world opinion, involving representatives of the IDF, key government
ministries and the Jewish Agency," Freeman-Maloy explains. "The CJC,
like the Canada-Israel Committee, is part of an advocacy system closely
associated with the Jewish Agency, and its shameful apologetics for
Israeli crimes amount to crass
and cynical diplomacy," he said.
Andy Lehrer, a member of the IJV-Canada steering
committee, adds that CJC smearing of anti-war demonstrations is wrought
with hypocrisy. "Such charges are aimed at suppressing legitimate
protest against Israeli war crimes," asserts Lehrer. "Ironically, the
CJC has ignored repeated requests that
they distance themselves from a bona fide hate
group, the Jewish Defence League (JDL), which has had a high profile
within the Jewish community, including at CJC-sponsored events. In
addition, the JDL has engaged in verbal abuse and intimidation at Gaza
solidarity events," Lehrer explains. "Last
Thursday [January 8] we held a vigil across the street from the CJC's
own pro-Israel rally and were subjected to a barrage of hate speech and
vitriolic abuse from the JDL, who had come out to support the CJC
rally. Among the things they yelled were 'you're not Jews, you're
shit,' 'you're rats' and 'blow yourselves
up.' The next day I talked to Farber and asked him to publicly denounce
the JDL. He refused."
Foreign journalists have recently been barred from
entering Gaza, multiple news offices within the Strip have been damaged
by IDF attacks, and numerous journalists working from Gaza have been
killed by IDF forces. While Israel wishes to see international
perceptions shaped by its diplomats and
their associates, Canadian journalists can hopefully adopt a more
critical attitude, the activists said.
Possible Israeli War Scenarios on Gaza and
Lebanese military sources said that the Israeli
decision to go to war against Lebanon is pre-determined adding that
Israeli leaders are awaiting the necessary excuses and proper timing to
launch their war. According to military reports, the Israeli army
completed unannounced large-scale military manoeuvres weeks
prior to launching its attack on Gaza.
The Israeli plan included two scenarios:
1. A full reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, the
destruction of all underground tunnels (estimated to exceed 250)
throughout the length of the Gaza-Egypt border.
2. A full war with both Lebanon and Syria that
includes a deep penetration into Lebanese territories.
The Israeli manoeuvres were code named
'Integration of Arms' and are considered to constitute the second
largest drills carried out by the Israelis since the July 2006 war with
The main target for the manoeuvres is to prepare
the military for attacking cities and residential areas.
Israeli air force pilots were told to concentrate
on destroying rocket launch pads and medium range missiles, while land
forces were to focus on accomplishing deep penetrations within enemy
territory to prevent the launching of any rockets towards Israel.
Israeli Chief of Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi
closely followed up the Israeli manoeuvres from his Longbow Apache
helicopter prior to moving to an Israeli submarine and joining
President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Tel-Aviv is reportedly planning to execute the two
scenarios either in parallel or in succession.
However, according to the report, Israeli military
leaders want to carry out the operation as soon as possible due to
intelligence data that Hezbollah has supplied Hamas with rockets that
have a 37-km range.
According to Israel, Hezbollah possesses Russian
112 mm Grad rockets with a range of 20 to 40 Km. Hamas only owned the
Iranian version of the 20-km range.
The supply of new rockets by Hezbollah to Hamas
forced Israel to review its position and consider the occupation of
Gaza, the report said.
In related news, Israel has warned Lebanon it
retaliate with aerial bombardment against southern Lebanon next time it
is attacked by rockets from Lebanon. News reports on today said
Israel's threat was relayed to Lebanon via international sides upon the
firing of three Katyushas early Wednesday
into northern Israel. Israel retaliated by shelling southern Lebanon
with four rockets.
The daily As-Safir said it
had learned that Israel informed the UN Interim Force in Lebanon
(UNIFIL) that it had intended to hit
back at the source from where the rockets were fired with aerial
bombardment, but that it had changed its mind upon international advice.
Israeli officials said 3 rockets fired from
Lebanon slammed into northern Israel early on January 14 in the second
such attack in less than a week that comes amid a devastating war in
the Gaza Strip.
Hezbollah on January 14 reiterated its commitment
to the stand adopted by the Lebanese government which rejected the
launching of rockets from Lebanon towards Israel.
Cabinet Minister Mohammed Fneish, in answering a
question about Hezbollah's reaction to the repeated launching of
rockets against Israel from south Lebanon, said: "Hezbollah's stand has
"The cabinet's stand was clear and has not
changed, and our stand is similar to that of the cabinet," Fneish said
in answering a question.
Demonstrations in Palestine, Bangladesh,
Afghanistan and Cuba
Muslim clerics pray for the Palestinians who were killed during
Israel's offensive in Gaza during a protest in the West Bank city of
Ramallah, January 15, 2009. Right: Nablus, West Bank, January 15, 2009.
for Gaza, University of Dhaka campus January 15, 2009. Left: students
shout slogans and burn effigies of U.S. President George W. Bush and
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
of Afghans protest in the Ghani khil district of Ningarhar province,
east of Kabul, Afghanistan, January 15, 2009. Demonstrators hold up an
Israeli flag and an effigy of Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
before burning as they shout slogans against U.S. and Israel.
Cuba, January 14,
2009. Sign at right reads: "Israel, out of Gaza!"
Israel's genocide in Gaza was strongly condemned
by thousands of young Cubans in Havana on January 14, in a protest
against both the military attack and the complicit silence of powerful
countries protecting the attackers.
Akram Samhan, Palestinian ambassador in Cuba addressed the
demonstration, expressing his thanks for Cuba's friendship with the
cause and affirming that the Palestinian people would remain steadfast
because they are backed by international law, solidarity and justice.
Samhan referred to the 60-plus years of Zionist aggression against
Palestine, and condemned the blockade that is preventing food, medicine
and other basic necessities from reaching the 1.5 million people who
live in those 360 square kilometers.
"Sometimes with guns, other times with stones, we will always fight
firmly," declared the president of the Union of Palestinian Students in
Camilo Rojo Alvarez, coordinator of the Committee of the Families of
the Barbados Crime Victims (relatives of those killed in the bombing of
the Cubana airliner over Barbados in 1976), criticized the unjust
Israeli onslaught and said "We too have been victims of injustice and
massacres. Because we know about bombs and other aggression, we defend
the Palestinian people even more strongly."
"We want to reiterate that our country will not waver in defending the
Palestinian cause, and the people's legitimate right to constitute a
sovereign state," Rodrigo Alvarez Cambras, president of the Cuban-Arab
Friendship Association (AACA), stated on Wednesday.
During an event organized by the AACA and the Cuban Institute of
Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) at the Frank País Hospital in
Havana, Alvarez Cambras also spoke about the reasons for the conflict
and the passivity of powerful nations in face of the massacre of
Palestinians, including the United States.
In Santa Clara thousands of Cuban and
foreign students of the Marta Abreu Central University took part in a
similar action, where a resounding demand for an
end to the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip was expressed by
Palestinian student Fouad
"From the land of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, an example of the heroic
resistance against imperialism, we demand the immediate Israeli
withdrawal and an end to the holocaust being committed against my
people before the eyes of the world, under the protection of the United
States and the inactivity of the UN Security Council," said Othman, who
is studying for a master's in communications.
He denounced that more than a million people in the Gaza Strip
are enclosed and on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, unable to
receive water or foodstuffs, constituting a concentration camp that in
no way differs from those created by German fascism in Europe.
Jose Angel Aguilera, professor in the Faculty of
denounced the mainstream media that ignore the daily slaughter of
innocent people. He recalled that the current situation in Gaza is
similar to the crimes committed in the refugee camps of Sabra and
On behalf of the Cuban students, Daniel Guemechu, president of the
Federation of University Students (FEU), expressed solidarity with the
just cause of the Palestinian people and called for an end to the
Calendar of Events
Jeff Halper Cross Canada Speaking Tour
anthropologist, is co-founder of the Israeli Committee
Against House Demolitions (www.icahd.org), a non-violent group
originally established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of
Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories. He is making a
cross Canada tour with upcoming events in
Toronto, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria. For details of
Screening: Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land
Saturday, January 17
-- 7:00 pm
Conserver House, 180 St. John St.
Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land is a 2004 documentary by
Sut Jhally and Bathsheba Ratzkoff which provides a striking comparison
of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle
East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have
reinforced false perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and
which analyzes and explains how -- through the use of language, framing
and context–the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains
hidden in the news media.
Donations will be taken for Gaza humanitarian relief efforts.
information: Fredericton Palestine
Solidarity, email@example.com, www.frederictonpeace.org
January 17 -- 1:00 pm
Weekly Rally and Public Forum
Victoria Park, corner of Spring
Garden and South Park.
Stand in solidarity with Palestine. Bring placards, banners and your
information: Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Gaza, 902-477-0470 or
Teach-In On Palestine
January 24 and January 31 -- 1:00-6:00 pm
Suggested donation $5
Opening Session, January 24: Room 105, Weldon Law Building, Dalhousie
University, University Ave.
Second Session, Saturday, January 31: same location
Detailed program to be announced shortly
or for information: Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Gaza,
firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-477-0470
Since December 27, 2008 the world has witnessed an incessant and
ever-widening attack on the Palestinians of Gaza. This has outraged
international public opinion, resulting in massive mobilizations across
the globe in defence of Gaza. On Saturday January 24th, from 1 to 6 pm,
the Opening Session of the Halifax Teach-In on Palestine will be held.
Among the themes: Testimonies of Palestinians; Understanding the
Assault on Gaza; Zionism; Who Are The Palestinians; and the History of
25 -- 10:00 am
January 25 -- 1:00 pm
Cabot Square (corner St. Catherine and Atwater, metro Atwater)
January 19 -- 12:00 pm
125 Sussex, Foreign Affairs Ministry
Rally against the Canadian government’s unconditional support for
Organized by: The Association of Palestinian
Arab Canadians (APAC),
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV - Canada) and the Ottawa Palestine
Network (OPSN). www.apacottawa.com,
the Siege : End the War
Freedom for Palestine
January 16 -- 7:30 pm
Ryerson University, room LIB 72
Speakers include: Professor Judy Rebick - One of the Jewish women who
occupied the Israeli Consulate in Toronto in oppostion to the recent
attacks on Gaza / Rafeef Ziadah - Third generation Palestinian refugee
/ James Clark - Toronto Coalition to Stop the War. The event will also
include Spoken Word & Musical Performances. Please come out ,
Show your support , and Spread the Word ...
at Constituency office of Conservative MP Peter Kent
January 17 -- 11:00 am-1:00 pm
7600 Yonge Street, north of Arnold Avenue, assemble on the sidewalk
Buses to the picket will depart from the following locations:
Buses leave at 10:15am
Meet at: 720 Spadina Avenue (TTC: Spadina)
To book a seat, please e-mail email@example.com
Suggested donation: $5 to $10 (or pay what you can)
Car pooling will be arranged by Palestine House -- email
firstname.lastname@example.org in advance.
called by: Not in Our Name – Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism,
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network Toronto, Independent Jewish
Voices, Palestine House, Canadian Arab Federation, Coalition Against
Israeli Apartheid, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, For more
information, please email email@example.com or phone 416-795-5863
Vigil & Leafletting
January 15 -- 12:00 noon
University Ave & Sterling, in front of Burke Science Building,
January 16 -- 4:00 pm
King & James, in front of Jackson Square Entrance, downtown
Fundraiser Cultural Night
January 18 -- 4:30--8:00 pm
Carmen's Paizza Banquet Hall, 230 Anchor Road
Includes: Live Entertainment, Art Display by the Palestinian Canadian
Painter Esam Safi, Refreshments & Arabic Dessert, Poetry
Readings, & More!
$25 tickets. All money raised will be sent to Gaza through the Canadian
registered charity, Medical Aid for Palestine. Tax reciepts are
Car pooling available from McMaster University. Contact us for details.
To RSVP: (905)921-7254 or firstname.lastname@example.org
January 17 --
Federal Building (Water Ave. and Main St.)
Peace Alliance Winnipeg and CanPalNet will be holding a rally at the
Federal Building this Saturday and on each successive Saturday until
17 -- 1:30 pm
Park, 13428 Old Yale Rd, Sacross from King George Skytrain Station
January 24 -- 2:00 pm
Vancouver Art Gallery, corner of Robson and Howe
information: Mobilization Against War and Occupation,