Meditation Focus #111
Holding High the Flame of Peace in the Middle East
What follows is the 111th Meditation Focus suggested for the 2 weeks beginning Sunday, May 23, 2004.
HOLDING HIGH THE FLAME OF PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
2. Meditation times
3. More information related to this Meditation Focus
4. Actions to Take and Background Information
Once again the world has been horrified by the reckless, inhumane actions of the Israeli government which has chosen, yet one more time, the path of indiscriminate violence and destruction to avenge the death of 11 of its soldiers killed last week by Palestinian bombs as they were driving in armored vehicles loaded with explosives towards Palestinians targets they had been ordered to destroy. The scope of destruction, reminiscent of its infamous similar actions in Jenin's refugee camp in April 2002, and the random killing of innocent children and women has triggered universal condemnations and some feeble words of discomfort by the U.S. Administration which has consistently and unequivocally supported Israel with billions of dollars in direct military assistance and endorsed so far most Israeli tactics in its efforts to perpetuate its 35-year occupation of Palestinian lands and its brutal repression of resisting Palestinians. It sometime seems as if nothing will prevent the Israeli army led by Ariel Sharon from continuing to commit human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian laws, including acts of war crimes, that have been documented by various human rights organizations and United Nations bodies.
And yet there comes a point when such wanton disregard for human life and excessive repression of a whole, practically defenseless population is crossing the line into what could be considered as a repetition of some of the traumatic experiences the Jewish population itself had been subjected to in Europe during World War II, a historic turn of event that should bring every human being to remember the commitment then collectively made to never again allow such atrocities to be committed on Earth. The Israeli government and its own sponsors as well as the Palestinian militants and their own sponsors must all realize that the way out of this descent into hellish violence cannot be through more violence, revenge and destruction but only through genuine, sincere negotiations, mutual trust-building measures and with active support from the international community, including in-situ patrolling by U.N peacekeepers, a method that has repeatedly been proven efficient to deter acts of violence.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following one, to contribute in fostering a spirit of global commitment towards taking the proper measures to stop the spread of violence in the Middle East, to foster a peaceful settlement of all disputes and to ensure the creation of a sovereign political entity in Palestine that will allow peace to take hold, harmony to come back, as well as forgiveness, compassion and love to flourish, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus111.htm
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation to the healing of the Earth as a whole. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/full.html to find your current corresponding local time if a closeby city is not listed above.
3. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
Israelis Will Continue Offensive in Gaza
RAFAH, Gaza Strip - Residents returned to ripped-up roads and demolished buildings in this refugee camp Friday, many lingering only to gather a few possessions amid fears of more of the violence that has left 40 Palestinians dead.
Israeli tanks and troops withdrew to the edges of the Tel Sultan and Brazil areas of the Rafah camp, but the army said it was merely redeploying forces and that its 4-day-old offensive in search of arms-smuggling tunnels and militants would continue.
Nevertheless, Israeli officials indicated they were looking for an alternative to the mass demolition of Palestinian homes, a prospect that has brought fierce international criticism.
Already, Israeli forces have destroyed or damaged dozens of houses and flattened cars in the two neighborhoods.
"I hardly recognized my own street," said Abdel Rahim Abu Jazer, 42, a teacher. "I don't think an earthquake could do what the Israeli army did to this area."
Residents waving strips of white cloth picked their way over mounds of rubble, at one point walking near an Israeli tank that fired machine-gun rounds as they passed.
Some Palestinians rummaged through the debris, retrieving mattresses, photo albums, shoes and clothing. A preschool boy sat on the ground, scooping up sand with a broken toy bulldozer.
"I came to get some stuff from my house but there's nothing left to take," said Sami Mekawi, 28, a resident of the Brazil neighborhood. "All I see is sand and rubble and torn-down electrical poles and destroyed roads."
U.N. relief workers entered Tel Sultan, delivering food and water to some of the 25,000 residents. Johan Eriksson, a spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said residents told him they were short on milk, flour and baby food.
During more than three years of Palestinian-Israeli violence, Israeli forces have made dozens of forays into the Rafah camp to destroy tunnels used to smuggle weapons across the nearby Egyptian border.
The Israeli military said 90 have been found and destroyed since 2000, though none has been discovered during the current "Operation Rainbow" offensive, launched Tuesday.
Army spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold said troops had detained "dozens" of Palestinians, including suspected senior militants, and killed a local leader of the armed group Hamas.
"The operation has not ended, we have redeployed forces and allowed residents to stock up on food," Feingold said.
She said the offensive would continue "as long as necessary."
Municipal officials said at least 43 homes were demolished and dozens more damaged in the camp since the offensive began. Forty Palestinians have been killed, including gunmen and eight demonstrators hit by a tank shell.
Rafah: Israeli forces kill 39 Palestinians in four days
Report, PCHR, 20 May 2004
For the fourth consecutive day, Israeli occupying forces (IOF) have expanded their military offensive in Rafah town and refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Overnight, IOF entered As-Salam and Brazil areas near the border with Egypt. At time of press, eight Palestinians, including a child, have been killed so far today. This brings the number of people killed in Rafah since Monday 17 May 2004 to 39.
According to PCHR's preliminary investigations, at around 22:30 on Wednesday 19 May, IOF, including helicopter gunships, tanks and other armoured vehicles, moved into the As-Salam and Brazil areas of Rafah located adjacent to the border with Egypt. IOF began to search Palestinian homes in these areas. Eye-witnesses reported that IOF opened fire indiscriminately in these densely-populated residential areas, including from helicopter gunships and tanks. During this operation, two Palestinian homes were destroyed. One of the homes belongs to the family of Ayman al-Akhras who was killed while conducting an attack against Israeli targets earlier during this Intifada. The second home belongs to Nafez Azzam, a well-known leader of the Islamic Jihad movement.
At approximately 01:00 this morning, Thursday 20 May, 2004, an IOF helicopter gunship fired a missile at two Palestinian civilians gathered near their homes in As-Salam neighbourhood. According to information obtained by PCHR, the remains of the bodies were collected by neighbours and taken to the hospital by approximately 05:00. Information available indicates that the two were unarmed. The two victims were identified as Mahmoud Najib Al-Akhras, 18 and Wael Mohammed Abu Jazar, 18.
At approximately 01:30, an IOF helicopter gunship fired a missile at members of the Palestinian resistance who had gathered in the street in the Brazil area. Three were killed immediately and two were injured. Those killed were identified as Mahmoud Fateh Deib, 22; Yousef Mahmoud al-Mugari, 21; Hamed Yassin Bahloul, 18.
Witnesses reported that Palestinian ambulances were fired upon by IOF as they attempted to reach the two wounded. Palestinian medical crews were able to evacuate the two after one hour.
Local residents fleeing As-Salam and Brazil neighbourhoods reported to PCHR fieldworkers that the IOF were demolishing Palestinian homes in these two areas without prior warning to residents. Those trying to flee their homes in these areas were forced to evacuate under IOF gunfire and shelling from IOF tanks. Tamer Younis al-Arja, 3, was reported to have died from a heart-attack as his family were evacuating their home. PCHR's fieldworkers currently have no direct access to As-Salam and Brazil neighbourhoods due to intense IOF gunfire and shelling and, therefore, are unable to provide further details on IOF demolition operations in these neighbourhoods.
At approximately 10:30, IOF began to demolish the house of Ziad Hassan. Hassan and his family attempted to evacuate the building carrying a white flag and asking the IOF to allow them time to leave the building. IOF gave Hassan permission to leave but as the family left the entrance to the house, IOF opened fire from a tank towards the family, injuring his wife and three children. A Palestinian ambulance attempted to reach the area to evacuate the family but was reportedly surrounded by IOF tanks and bulldozers. IOF bulldozers then reportedly began to lift sand and rubble on to the top of and around the ambulance with the medical crew trapped inside. After approximately four hours, IOF bulldozers began to remove the rubble from the vehicle and allowed the crew to leave the area with the severely damaged ambulance but without having evacuated the Hassan family.
At approximately 11:00 today, IOF snipers positioned on the roof of a Palestinian home in Tel As-Sultan area of Rafah town, opened fire at Jamal Awad al-Assar, 39, while he was standing on the balcony of his home calling to his neighbours to ask for drinking water. Al-Assar was shot in the head and died immediately.
PCHR's fieldworker has also reported that a Palestinian civilian, Mohammed Ibrahim Jaber, 27, was killed this morning by indiscriminate IOF gunfire as he was standing near the entrance to his home in the western part of Rafah refugee camp. Four other Palestinian civilians are reported to have been injured in different areas of Rafah today by indiscriminate IOF gun and tank fire.
PCHR again repeats its dismay at this continuing escalation in violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes, perpetrated by the IOF in Palestinian civilian residential areas. PCHR calls urgently on the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to take immediate action to ensure the protection of the Palestinian civilian population in Rafah and the rest of the OPTs.
* BY TOPIC: Rafah
Rafah has been frequently the scene of violence and oppression. Rafah is located in the southern part of the occupied Gaza Strip, at the border with Egypt. Rafah refugee camp was established in 1949 to provide shelter to 41,000 refugees. It was the largest and most densely populated refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. The camp is divided into 17 blocks. Over the past three and a half years, the Israeli occupying forces demolished some 1,800 homes in the Rafah Refugee Camp.
* Urgent: Protest Israeli "war crimes" against civilians in Rafah; Gaza (18 May 2004)
Attack on Tel Al-Sultaan March, 19 May 2004
* AP Video of Israeli attack on peaceful march (19 May 2004)
* PCRS: Israeli Army attacks peaceful solidarity march in Rafah, Palestine Red Crescent Society (19 May 2004)
* BY TOPIC: House Demolitions
* Palestinian Center for Human Rights
The day the tanks arrived at Rafah zoo
Among ruined houses, a haven for Gaza's children lies in rubble
Chris McGreal in al-Brazil, Rafah
Saturday May 22, 2004
Ask to be directed to the latest wave of Israeli destruction in Rafah's al-Brazil neighbourhood and many fingers point towards the zoo. Amid the rubble of dozens of homes that the Israeli army continued yesterday to deny demolishing, the wrecking of the tiny, but only, zoo in the Gaza Strip took on potent symbolism for many of the newly homeless. The butchered ostrich, the petrified kangaroo cowering in a basement corner, the tortoises crushed under the tank treads - all were held up as evidence of the pitiless nature of the Israeli occupation.
"People are more important than animals," said the zoo's co-owner Mohammed Ahmed Juma, whose house was also demolished. "But the zoo is the only place in Rafah that children could escape the tense atmosphere. There were slides and games for children. We had a small swimming pool. I know it's hard to believe, looking at it now, but it was beautiful. Why would they destroy that? Because they want to destroy everything about us."
The systematic demolition of homes was revealed yesterday as Israeli forces partially pulled out of al-Brazil on the fifth day of an operation officially to hunt down Palestinian fighters and weapons-smuggling tunnels running under the border from Egypt.
More than 40 people have been killed in the assault, about a third of them civilians, besides targets of the operation such as the Hamas military commander in al-Brazil who was hit by a missile.
About 45 buildings were razed by the army in the area it pulled back from yesterday, some of them two or three storeys high and housing several families.
The military says the houses were wrecked by Palestinian bombs planted to attack Israeli forces, or accidentally by tanks turning in the street. But Palestinians consistently gave similar accounts of armoured bulldozers arriving at the door and giving the residents just minutes to get out, at best.
"The bulldozer started hitting the house," said Juma Abu Hammad sitting on the remains of his eight-bed-roomed home that housed two families with 15 children. "I grabbed the children. We did not take a single thing with us, even very important documents like birth certificates. I was just worried about the lives of the children."
Aziza Monsour, 54, pointed to the remains of a yellow taxi tossed by a bulldozer on the top of what remained of a neighbouring house. "That taxi was our only living," she said. "My husband drove it. It provided for everyone who lived in this house." But there is no house any more.
"The blade of the bulldozer hit the room we were sitting in," said Mrs Monsour. "I waved my white headscarf at the soldiers as we pleaded with them to let us go. We were running between the tanks and the shooting and counting the children as we went to make sure they were all still with us. This is revenge, absolute revenge, for the seven Israeli soldiers killed in Rafah."
None of the homes left destroyed yesterday is close to the "Philadelphi road" security strip under Israeli control along the Egyptian border, and is therefore un-likely to have been used to dig weapons-smuggling tunnels. It is unclear whether other homes, next to the border, have also been demolished as Israeli forces retain control of that part of al-Brazil. The army said that after five days of searching, "the beginnings of a tunnel" had been found, although not in the area of the mass demolitions. The military also denied it had deliberately destroyed homes.
"We did not destroy any houses in al-Brazil," said a spokeswoman who identified herself as Eli. "There was damage to buildings from fighting. The terrorists activate explosive devices under the road or next to the buildings. These bombs that destroy tanks can easily destroy a house." But, aside from the accounts of Palestinians who fled their homes, the destruction is not consistent with individual explosions. Off al-Imam road, nearly 20 houses in a row were wrecked. There was no sign of a massive explosion, such as a crater in the road or damage to houses standing next to the wrecked buildings. Opposite, bulldozers had torn up an olive grove belonging to a well-known family in the area, the Qishtas.
The demolitions in al-Brazil are the third time the Israeli army has misrepresented its actions in Rafah this week.
On Tuesday the military dismissed accusations that an Israeli sniper shot two children in the head, claiming they were blown up by a Palestinian bomb. But the bodies of both children were later shown to each have only a single bullet wound to the head.
On Wednesday the army said armed men made up the majority of 10 people killed when an Israeli tank fired into a peaceful demonstration. In fact half of the victims were children and television footage showed no weapons among the demonstrators.
The army also initially denied that soldiers deliberately wrecked the zoo that provided Rafah's children with virtually their only contact with live animals, even ordinary ones such as squirrels, goats and tortoises. Among the zoo's more popular exhibits were kangaroos, monkeys and ostriches, which children could sit on.
The destruction was comprehensive. The fountain and its tiles were a jumble of rubble in one corner. There was no sign of the swimming pool. One of the ostriches lay half buried in the rubble. Guinea fowl and ducks were laid out in a row. Goats and a deer struggled with broken legs. Some of the animals were still on the loose, if not buried under the debris. One of the two kangaroos was missing; the other was cowering in the basement. A snake and three monkeys were unaccounted for. Mr Juma accused Israeli soldiers of stealing valuable African parrots.
The army's explanation evolved through the day. At first it said it had not destroyed the zoo, then it said a tank may have accidentally reversed into it.
By the end of yesterday, the military said its soldiers had been forced to drive through the zoo because an alternative route was booby-trapped by Palestinian explosives.
Finally a spokesman said the soldiers had released the animals from their cages in a compassionate gesture to prevent them being harmed.
Bitterness deepens over Gaza raid - Israel kept up its offensive (May 21)
At least 40 Palestinians, many children, have died in the fighting.
Besieged Palestinian Camp in Crisis (May 20)
Gaza misery - photo essay
Gaza fury after Israeli pullback (May 21)
The UN estimates at least 1,600 people have lost their homes - The scale of the destruction in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza has become apparent after Israeli troops pulled out of two key areas. During their three-day raid Israeli troops demolished homes and ripped up streets; the local zoo lies in ruins. The BBC's Gaza correspondent says local residents, who are venturing onto the streets once more, are furious.
Gaza town in shock at bloodshed (May 19)
Rafah's small hospital was quickly overwhelmedPalestinians in Rafah have been expressing their grief and outrage after protesters marching against Israel's raids on a neighbouring refugee camp were hit by Israeli fire. People covered in blood fled the scene after several large explosions went off among a crowd of several thousand. "What happened today is a massacre - Apache helicopters firing missiles at a demonstration and tanks firing shells," Dr Ali Moussa told the BBC, after receiving dozens of casualties at Rafah's ill-equipped hospital.
More carnage in Gaza as the US mutters its disapproval (May 21, 2004)
Israel's revenge attacks are, as ever, completely disproportionate - Israel's latest outrages in Gaza have produced a rare but tiny hint of American disapproval. For the first time since the Israeli assault on West Bank cities two years ago, the United States has abstained on a critical UN resolution rather than vetoing it. Colin Powell, the secretary of state, said Israel's actions "have caused a problem and worsened the situation". James Cunningham, representing the US at the UN, said the Israeli behaviour has "not enhanced Israeli security". But if Israeli forces pull back shortly, as many Israeli commentators assume, it will not be because the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is listening to Washington. It is more likely to be out of fear that more Israeli soldiers will die. Thirteen have been killed by the Palestinians' armed resistance in the Gaza Strip over the last three weeks. In spite of the Israeli army's vastly superior fire-power and its ruthless willingness to use it even in crowded city streets, it cannot avoid casualties on its own side. (...) The fact is that Israel's latest actions in Gaza are motivated by revenge, cynicism and desperation. As such, they have destroyed the political and moral capital that Sharon briefly acquired when he announced his unilateral plan to close the Israeli settlements in Gaza. Determined not to let the Palestinians or the world view the withdrawal as a defeat, he chose to wreak as much havoc as he could before the settlements were dismantled. He ordered the murder of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, as well as that of his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantissi, using air strikes which inevitably also killed and wounded bystanders. Then he ordered ground troops into the strip, resulting in the deaths of 11 Israeli soldiers. The Rafah attacks, which have already taken more than 30 Palestinian lives, most of them unarmed civilians, are aimed at avenging those deaths on the usual five-eyes-for-an eye, 10-teeth-for-a-tooth basis. The European Union rightly calls them "completely disproportionate". CLIP
End unlawful use of force against civilians in Gaza Report, HRW, 20 May 2004
NEW YORK -- The Israeli military's use of tanks and helicopters yesterday to fire on non-violent demonstrators in the southern Gaza Strip constituted an unlawful and unnecessary use of force, Human Rights Watch said today. At least eight people were killed and dozens were injured. "It's outrageous that Israeli forces used battlefield weaponry to block peaceful marchers," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division. "By using heavy weapons against non-violent demonstrators, Israel has violated not only international law, but also its own open-fire regulations." In a large-scale incursion in the southern Gaza Strip, Israeli forces earlier this week moved into and sealed off the Tel al-Sultan area along the Egyptian border, between the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah and the Israeli settlement area of Gush Katif. In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces outlined the measures they took yesterday during a protest march by Palestinians toward Tel al-Sultan. The IDF said that one of its helicopter gunships launched a missile at a nearby open area to deter the protesters from proceeding toward Tel al-Sultan and that tanks subsequently directed fire against an "abandoned structure" near the protestors, causing the deaths. The IDF also claimed that it used flares to warn the protestors against proceeding toward Tel al-Sultan. In contrast, eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch that the killings were not preceded by any warning fire, and that shelling continued as protestors sought to evacuate the wounded. The incident took place on a major road in a built-up area. According to witnesses, there were no "abandoned structures" nearby. Israeli forces have not alleged that they came under attack from the protestors. Accounts offered by the eyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch and the IDF differ over whether some of the demonstrators were armed, but the mere presence of some armed protestors would not justify such excessive and indiscriminate measures. Human Rights Watch called on the Israeli government to abide by the U.N. Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which apply to the armed forces when policing demonstrations. The Principles require that security forces, in carrying out their duty, shall as far as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force. Whenever the lawful use of force is unavoidable, law enforcement officials must use restraint and restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary. The legitimate objective should be achieved with minimal damage and injury, and with respect for the preservation of human life. CLIP
Palestinian health crisis warning
The WHO has warned the health situation in the West Bank and Gaza has reached a critical point and could slide into collapse without further assistance. Dr David Nabarro, the WHO's director for health in crisis situations, has just returned from a fact-finding trip to the Palestinian territories. At the annual assembly in Geneva he said there were signs the situation was becoming increasingly precarious. Malnutrition was rising and vaccination levels were falling, he said. People with diseases such as diabetes were not getting the treatment they require, he added. These are all indicators the WHO has observed in other crisis regions and they are frequently the precursors of a general collapse of the healthcare system. The Palestinian territories do benefit from generous medical aid and highly skilled doctors and nurses, but the increasing restrictions on movement caused by checkpoints and by the new security barrier mean that often medical supplies are not getting through. Patients cannot get to hospital and medical staff cannot get to work. The WHO is especially concerned for the health of very young children, the elderly and people with chronic diseases. These three groups account for almost 25% of the population. CLIP
100,000 tell Sharon to get out of Gaza (May 17, 2004)
Israel said yesterday it would intensify its military assault on the Gaza strip, hours after more than 100,000 people rallied in Tel Aviv to demand that Ariel Sharon follow through on his pledge to withdraw Jewish settlers from the territory. The defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, told the weekly cabinet meeting that the army would work to "create a new reality" along the border between Gaza and Egypt, where the UN has said the army destroyed about 200 Palestinian homes in the Rafah refugee camp after seven soldiers were killed in the area last week.A total of 13 soldiers have died in the Gaza strip since Tuesday - some of the worst casualty figures inflicted on the Israeli army during the present intifada.More than 30 Palestinians have died. Three more Palestinians were killed last night as they tried to plant a bomb on the Israel-Gaza border.
Israeli helicopters launch attack on Gaza City (15 May 2004)
An Israeli Cobra helicopter firing from the sky. In the early hours of Saturday morning, 15 May 2004, Israeli occupying helicopter gunships fired missiles at 2 civilian facilities in densely populated areas in Gaza City. The two facilities and a number of neighboring buildings were severely damaged and 10 Palestinian civilians, including a paramedic, were injured. CLIP
Israeli Army attacks peaceful solidarity march in Rafah
Rafah, Wednesday, 19 May 2004 (2:00pm) An estimated 1000 Palestinians were attacked by Israeli Army tank fire and helicopter shelling during a peaceful march in solidarity with the residents of Tal as-Sultan, which has been under Israeli military siege and curfew for the past three days. The PRCS Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Gaza has reported fourteen deaths and tens of injuries, several are in critical condition. According to eyewitnesses and live television reports, an Israeli Army tank fired two missiles towards the marchers and immediately after that, Apache helicopters began to fire missiles, directly hitting the marchers. The PRCS Emergency Operations Center in Gaza has declared 'code red' emergency status and has established two emergency mobile clinics in Rafah, one in the Ashaboura area and the other near the PRCS Emergency Medical Services (EMS) station. Additional medical personnel and volunteers were also dispatched to these mobile clinics. Ten ambulances from Khan Younis and Deir Al-Balah EMS stations and additional emergency medical supplies were also dispatched to the area. The PRCS Advanced Medical Post (AMP) which can treat more than 200 causalities per day will be dispatched from Gaza to Rafah tomorrow (20 May 2004). The deliberate targeting of peaceful marchers by the Israeli Army constitutes a grave violation to International Humanitarian Law and is considered a war crime. The Palestine Red Crescent Society calls upon the international community and States Parties to the Geneva Conventions to immediately intervene for the protection of the Palestinian population.
"oh rafah, aching rafah" - A poem from the journal of Rachel Corrie (20 May 2004)
oh rafah. aching rafah. aching of refugees aching of tumbled houses bicycles severed from tank-warped tires and aching of bullet riddled homes all homes worm-eaten by bullets and then impregnated through bullet holes by birds. Read the journal entry of peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was living in Rafah when she was crushed to death by an Israeli-operated bulldozer while defending one of the many homes that have been destroyed by the Israeli military in Rafah.
REPORT FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2000
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - February 23, 2001
(...) Israeli security forces killed numerous Palestinians in response to a sustained violent uprising late in the year. Most of the Palestinians were killed during demonstrations and other violent clashes, and others were targeted specifically by Israeli security forces. In May Israeli security forces killed six Palestinians and wounded up to 700 at demonstrations in which Palestinian demonstrators were protesting the continued incarceration of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Some protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails, and some demonstrators shot at Israeli settlers (see Section 1.c.). Deaths due to political violence increased significantly during the year due to the "al-Aqsa Intifada." At least 365 persons were killed between late September and the end of December in demonstrations, violent clashes, and military and civilian attacks, including 325 Palestinians, 36 Israelis, 3 Jordanian citizens, and 1 German citizen. Additionally, at least 10,962 persons were injured during this period, including 10,600 Palestinians and 362 Israelis (see Sections 1.c. and 1.g.). On September 28, Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem. On September 29, Palestinians held large demonstrations and threw stones at police in the vicinity of the Western Wall. Police used rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, killing 4 persons and injuring approximately 200. Following this incident, Palestinians began violent demonstrations against IDF soldiers, settlers, and other Israeli civilians throughout the occupied territories; these demonstrations and ensuing clashes between Palestinians and IDF soldiers occurred daily through the end of the year. (...) Israeli authorities also frequently treat Palestinians in an abusive manner at checkpoints, subjecting them to verbal and physical harassment. According to press reports, on September 6, Israeli border policemen physically abused three Palestinian workers near the village of Abu Dis outside of Jerusalem. The officers took photos of themselves with their victims; their trial was ongoing by year's end.The PA does not prohibit by law the use of torture or force against detainees, and PA security forces reportedly were responsible for torture and widespread abuse of Palestinian detainees. Such abuse generally took place after arrest and during interrogation. CLIP
MANY MORE ARTICLES AT http://electronicIntifada.net/new.shtml
Full Coverage on the Middle East Conflict
4. ACTIONS TO TAKE AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Urgent: Protest Israeli war crimes against civilians in Rafah; Gaza
Ali Abunimah, Nigel Parry, and Michael F. Brown, The Electronic Intifada
18 May 2004
The Electronic Intifada urges all concerned people to contact international and government officials to demand immediate action to halt Israel's assault on Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. Israel is in the process of committing major war crimes with total impunity.
* In the first 10 days of May 2004, Israel's demolition of 131 residential buildings in Gaza left 1,100 Palestinians homeless.
* Five days later, continued Israeli demolition operations doubled the number of homeless since the beginning of May 2004 to 2,197 Palestinians.
* The total number of people to lose their homes in the Gaza Strip is 18,382 since the start of the Second Intifada in September 2000.
* The majority of the demolitions this month have taken place in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, where 12,600 people had already been made homeless by demolitions since the Intifada began.
* On 11 May 2004, Israel killed 15 Palestinians in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, including 4 children, and injured at least 200 others, including 35 children.
* On 13 May 2004, Israel killed 12 Palestinians in Rafah, including a child, and injured at least 20 others.
* By 15 May 2004, two days after the 13 May invasion began, a total of 14 Palestinian civilians had been killed and 30 injured in Rafah, with 80 homes destroyed, leaving 880 Palestinians homeless.
* On 18 May 2004, ongoing Israeli raids in Rafah resulted in the death of 19 more Palestinians, including 2 children. Ahmad Mughayaer, 13, and his sister Asma, 16 (see photo right), were shot in the heads by Israeli snipers located on the 6th floor of a building as they hung washing out on the 3rd story roof of their neighbouring apartment building.
* Rafah continues to experience ongoing Israeli military operations at the time of publishing this alert.
ISRAELI WAR CRIMES
The United States continues to give a green light to Israeli war crimes. In recent days, Secretary of State Colin Powell half-heartedly criticized the destruction in Gaza. Today, however, as the atrocities continue in Rafah, President Bush declared in a major address to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC that Israel "has every right to defend itself from terror." Bush made no criticism whatsoever of the Israeli attack on Rafah.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2663.shtml) has said that, "The extensive destruction of civilian property, carried out wantonly and unlawfully, and without military necessity constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention as defined in article 147, and a war crime as clarified in article 85.5 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions."
Amnesty International (http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde150402004) reported today that: "More than 3,000 homes, vast areas of agricultural land and hundreds of other properties have been destroyed by the Israeli army and security forces in Israel and the Occupied Territories in the past three and a half years," and said that "some of these acts of destruction amount to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are war crimes."
INTERNATIONAL WORDS, NOT ACTION
Governments and international organizations have strongly criticized the Israeli action:
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2688.shtml) condemned the Israeli attack on Rafah and stated that Israel, "as the occupying power ... must cease such acts of collective punishment immediately, and ... refrain from further grave violations of international law."
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said that, "what is taking place now in Gaza is something that we have to condemn and to condemn very strongly."
However none of these statements has had any impact on Israel, because Israel knows that it can act with impunity and has the full backing of the US government. For years, Israel has been able to flout UN Security Council Resolutions and the Geneva Conventions without any real consequences. The result is escalating, unrestrained violence.
Israel is now even brazen enough to announce its war crimes in advance, knowing full well that international action will be limited to a few statements. On 18 May 2004, Ha'aretz reported Israeli army radio as quoting Israel's Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman as saying that there was a "very, very strong chance" that the United States would veto any such condemnation of Israel's actions in Gaza.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in particular, has failed to exercise his responsibility. Under the UN Charter, the Secretary-General has a duty to inform the Security Council of grave breaches of international law and security. Annan has restricted himself to statements "urging" Israel not to violate international law. As Israel has repeatedly ignored his pleas, he has effectively done nothing.
The EU, as Israel's largest trading partner, has enormous influence with Israel, but has so far been reluctant to use it.
We believe that a large mobilization of international public opinion on behalf of the people of Rafah demanding that those with power and responsibility act to end these war crimes can make a difference.
Key points should include:
* Immediate intervention to demand the protection of Palestinian civilians and Palestinian homes in Gaza -- particularly in Rafah refugee camp, which is the focus of the current Israeli military operations.
* A call for governments to unequivocally condemn Israel's recent actions against Palestinian civilians and homes in Gaza.
* Tell US representatives not to veto the coming Security Council resolution about the situation in Gaza.
We urge you to act now and contact the following US, UN, UK, and European Union representatives (Readers outside the United States are encouraged to contact their national political representatives. Contact information can typically be tracked down quickly by searching with Google.com):
United States Representatives
* US President George W. Bush -- Tel: (202) 456-1111; Fax: (202) 456-2461.
* US Secretary of State Colin Powell -- Tel: (202) 647-6575; Fax: (202) 261-8577.
* US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer -- Tel: (+972-3) 519-7575; E-mail: email@example.com
* Your member of Congress -- Call the Capitol switchboard toll-free on 1-800-839-5276 and ask to be connected to your member of Congress.
* General Telephone: (212) 963-1234; Fax for Kofi Annan's office: (212) 963-7055; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Permanent Missions to the United Nations
European Union Representatives
* EU Presidency, Bertie Ahern, T.D., Prime Minister of Ireland -- Tel: 353 1-6194123, Fax: 353 1-6621899; E-mail: email@example.com
* High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) for the European Union Javier Solana -- Tel: +32 (0)2-285-6467 or +32 (0)476-93-6426; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
* UK Prime Minister Tony Blair -- E-mail or Fax via Downing Street website
Israel and the Occupied Territories
Under the rubble: House demolition and destruction of land and property.
18 May 2004
More than 3,000 homes, vast areas of agricultural land and hundreds of other properties have been destroyed by the Israeli army and security forces in Israel and the Occupied Territories in the past three and a half years. Tens of thousands of men, women and children have been made homeless or have lost their livelihood. Thousands of other houses have been damaged, and tens of thousands of others are under threat of demolition, their occupants living in fear of homelessness. House demolitions are usually carried out without warning, often at night, and the occupants are forcibly evicted with no time to salvage their belongings. Often the only warning is the rumbling of the Israeli army's US-made Caterpillar bulldozers beginning to tear down the walls of their homes. The victims are often amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged. In most cases the justification given by the Israeli authorities for the destruction is "military/security needs", while in other cases it is the lack of building permits. The result is the same: families are left homeless and destitute, forced to rely on relatives, friends and humanitarian organizations for shelter and subsistence.
House demolition has been a long-standing policy in the Occupied Territories and in the Arab sector in Israel. However, in the past three and a half years the scale of the destruction has reached an unprecedented level. The destruction of Palestinian homes, agricultural land and other property in the Occupied Territories, is inextricably linked to Israel's long-standing policy of appropriating as much as possible of the land it occupies, notably by establishing Israeli settlements in violation of international law. In Israel it is essentially the homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel (Israeli Arabs) which are targeted for demolition. The phenomenon is linked to the state's policy of large-scale confiscation of land, restrictive planning regulations and discriminatory policies in the allocation of state land which makes it difficult or impossible for Israeli Arabs to obtain building permits.
This document summarizes a 65-page report: Israel and the Occupied Territories: Under the rubble: House demolition and destruction of land and property (AI Index: MDE/15/033/2004, May 2004), which analyses the main patterns and trends of forced eviction, house demolition and destruction of property by the Israeli army and security forces in Israel and the Occupied Territories in the light of international human rights and humanitarian law
PATTERNS AND IMPACT OF PROPERTY DESTRUCTION
The destruction of houses, land and other properties falls into two categories: houses built without a permit and houses, land and other properties which the Israeli authorities contend are destroyed for "military/security needs":
1 - Unlicensed houses: In the Arab sector in Israel demolition of houses for lack of building permits is a recurrent phenomenon, whereas house demolition in the Jewish sector is virtually unheard of. In the Occupied Territories it is also invariably Palestinian homes which are destroyed, while illegal Jewish settlements continue to be expanded.
2 - "Military/security needs": Most of the destruction in the Occupied Territories falls under this category. The scale of the destruction is massive, including more than 3,000 homes, large areas of cultivated land, hundreds of shops, workshops, factories and public buildings. Tens of thousands of other homes and properties have been damaged, many beyond repair. The Israeli army's criteria to define "military/security needs" are extremely broad. This category can be divided into four, at times overlapping, sub-categories:
A. Punitive demolitions of houses belonging to families of Palestinians known or suspected of involvement in suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers have become routine, frequently resulting in neighbouring houses also being destroyed or damaged.
B. Houses, land, and other properties which the Israeli authorities claim it is necessary to destroy for "security needs", notably to build or expand roads or other infrastructure for the benefit or protection of Israeli settlers or soldiers.
C. The destruction of houses, land and other properties which the Israeli authorities contend were used or could be used by Palestinian armed groups to shoot or launch attacks against Israelis. This category, which the authorities often refer to as "preventive", is extremely broad and such demolitions are often also manifestly carried out in retaliation for Palestinian attacks and as a form of collective punishment on the inhabitants of the area. In some cases the destruction also serves the purpose of removing Palestinians from areas where Israel has a particular interest in seizing or consolidating control of the land and/or benefit Israeli settlements.
D. Properties which the Israeli army contends were destroyed in the course of combat activities.
Impact on the economic situation: In addition to the demolition of thousands of homes, the extensive destruction of agricultural land will continue to have severe repercussion on the Palestinian economy for many years to come. Agriculture was a major sector of the Palestinian economy, especially since most Palestinians who used to work in Israel have no longer been permitted to do so in recent years. The land on which trees and crops stood is now mostly inaccessible to Palestinian farmers. Even if Palestinians were allowed to resume farming the land which has been destroyed in recent years, it would take a long time and considerable resources for it to become productive again.
Impact on women: Families whose homes have been demolished often cannot afford a new home and have to rely on relatives or friends for shelter. Most Palestinian women do not work outside the home, which is their primary responsibility and the space which they feel is their own. Hence, they are more affected by the discomfort of living in someone else's space, where they can no longer take responsibility for the administration of the family space and activities.
"Women suffer immensely from forced eviction...Domestic violence is higher in the precarious and often stressful situation of inadequate housing, especially before and during a forced eviction." Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions to the UN Commission on Human Rights, March 2003
CLIP - MUCH MUCH MORE AT http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde150402004
International human rights law
The right to housing: The right to housing is a basic right, which is a fundamental component of the right to an adequate standard of living and central to the enjoyment of other human rights, guaranteed by Article 11(1) of the ICESCR.
The right to housing encompasses the right to live somewhere in peace, security and dignity, as well as the right to adequate housing. The right to adequate housing not only includes adequate privacy, space, security, protection from the elements and threats to health, ventilation at a reasonable cost, but also, among other things, legal security of tenure -including protection against forced eviction, harassment and threats.
In May 2003 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) expressed serious concerns about Israel's practices which violate the right to housing of Israeli Arabs, including Bedouins in Israel, and of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.(9) CLIP
Annan calls on Israel to halt destruction of Palestinian homes in Gaza
UN News, Report, 17 May 2004
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today repeated his condemnation of Israels widespread destruction of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip, which a UN agency estimates will cost some $32 million to re-house the nearly 19,000 people left homeless by the demolition.
According to UN relief teams, 2,197 people have lost their homes following the demolition of 191 homes throughout Gaza in the first 15 days of May, with Rafah the worst-affected area. There was also news of Israeli military plans for a more extensive round of house demolitions in Gaza.
"[The Secretary-General] repeats his call on the Government of Israel to fulfil its obligations under international law as it acts to ensure its security. As the occupying power, it must cease such acts of collective punishment immediately, and to refrain from further grave violations of international law," Mr. Annan's spokesman said in a statement.
Asked earlier by reporters about the destruction of housing in Gaza, the Secretary-General said: "I am really distressed that [it] continues. It really is causing a very difficult and painful situation for the people of Palestine."
Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has opened a school to house the latest victims of the destruction and is distributing tents, food, water, kitchen kits, mattresses and blankets. The Agency estimates that it will cost $32 million to re-house the 18,382 people who have lost their homes across the Gaza Strip.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said the Agency now "has the job of dealing with the human tragedy behind each demolition - the distressed children in its schools, the homeless families in need of basics like blankets, food and water, and the communities shaken by the stress of ceaseless conflict."
He also stressed that his agency is facing severe under-funding of its Emergency Appeal for 2004 and is unlikely to receive all the resources it needs to meet the needs of the homeless. Already, many thousands of people have waited more than two years for the agency to provide them with new, permanent shelter.
Who really smuggled weapons to Rafah?
Arjan El Fassed, The Electronic Intifada, 20 May 2004
Israel's ongoing assault on human lives and property, killing civilians and demolishing homes is, according to Israeli spokespersons, "aimed at preventing a huge shipment of arms from being smuggled". According to Israeli spokespersons, Israel launched "Operation Rainbow", its largest military raid on Palestinian civilians since "Operation Defensive Shield", in a bid "to rid the border zone of its tunnels and capture the militants using them."
The past four days, Israeli forces have killed 39 Palestinians. Its military assault on Palestinians in Rafah includes extensive house demolitions along the so-called "Philadelphi route" that runs along the border.
The United States is 'very concerned' about the number of Palestinians killed in Israel's major military raid in the Gaza Strip and has sought answers from Israel, the White House said. (AFP/Yoav Lemmer)What no one asks, however, is the question who supplies Israel's military occupation of Gaza, a strip of land, slightly more than twice the size of Washington DC, housing at least 1.2 million Palestinians and 6,000 Israeli settlers. It is not hard to guess that the U.S. administration is the largest supplier of arms and aid to Israel. The common figure given for U.S. aid to Israel is $3 billion per year$1.2 billion in economic aid and $1.8 billion in military aid, representing about one-sixth of total U.S. foreign aid. Israel is one of the U.S.' largest arms importers.
In the last decade, the U.S. has sold Israel $ 7.2 billion in weaponry and military equipment, $762 million through Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), more than $6.5 billion through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. In fact, Israel is so devoted to U.S. military hardware that it has the world's largest fleet of F-16s outside the U.S., currently possessing more than 200 jets. The U.S. also gives Israel weapons and ammunition as part of the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, providing these articles completely free of charge. Examples of U.S. weaponry being used by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians and their property are AH-64 Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, missiles and other heavy arms. White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the Israel's assault on Rafah "troubling" and said: "The Israelis have told us they will make every effort to minimize the impact on Palestinians not involved in acts of terrorism or arms smuggling." While he had learned that U.S. delivered Apache helicopters fired missiles in a peaceful demonstration, he said: "We understand their explanation but we still find the violence troubling."
Israel not only uses arms transferred from the U.S., despite restrictive policies on arms exports to states that violate human rights, Israel also uses arms being transferred and exported from the EU.
A week ago, on May 14, Amnesty International reported that EU arms, security equipment and services are contributing to grave human rights abuses and that the scale of potential abuse is now enormous. The major EU arms exporting countries - France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom - account for one third of the world's arms deals. In its report, Undermining Global Security: the European Union's arms exports, Amnesty International highlights serious flaws in the European Union's key arms control agreements, especially the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.
Today France is one of Israel's main suppliers after the US and Germany. According to SIPRI, France exported major conventional weapons worth $50m to Israel between 1996 and 2000. This included a delivery of seven AS-565SA Panther helicopters between 1996 and 1998 which were ordered through and partly funded by the US.
According to figures from SIPRI, Germany supplied Israel with major conventional weaponry worth $765m between 1996 and 2000. In 2000 alone, the last year for which figures are available, Germany sold about $170m in military equipment, including parts for tanks and armoured cars. This included key parts for the Israeli Merkava tank, which are currently being used in Rafah. Israel is Germany's seventh largest military client.
The US Data Device Corporation (DDC), which has production facilities in Cork, Ireland (DDC Ireland Ltd) states on its website that its MIL-STD-1553 Data Bus products are used in the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters. Its MIL-STD-1553 data bus, the life line of the aircraft, include a lethal array of armaments, including a mix of up to 16 Hellfire missiles or 76 70mm aerial rockets and 1,200 rounds of 30mm ammunition for its M230 Chain Gun automatic canon.
A large part of Dutch exports are components for incorporation into larger weapon systems, mainly to be assembled in the U.S. which, in turn, is the major supplier of arms to Israel. In compensation orders Dutch companies are involved producing components for Apache attack helicopters and F-16 fighter planes to the U.S.. In general is not announced who the end-user of these aircrafts will be. In 2001 transfers of components were worth EURO 87 million. The Dutch company Stork Special Products produces components for Hellfire rockets, which are frequently used by the Israeli airforce in extra-judicial executions and to shell Palestinian residential areas. The missile is produced by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman and a number of subcontractors and exported to thirteen countries, including Israel.
At least one Dutch company is open about the end-user of its products, on its ethical policy page: "In principle, Philips companies do not produce products or render services specially designed or developed for the military, except for the following products: F16 parts and Apache parts supplied to NATO countries and Israel (under compensation agreements US/Netherlands)." Eventhough information on end-users remains largely secret, Philips announced that its components are incorporated into Apaches that are in action in Israel. Additionally, in 2002 the Netherlands granted Israel export licences worth 1.46 million euros, approximately half of the licensed Dutch transit trade. The licences were granted for goods under the category A2, which are those connected with armoured vehicles. This is despite the consistent reporting by human rights organisations of the misuse of such equipment by the Israeli security forces. Since 22 August 2002, the Dutch Central Service Import and Export received 24 "notifications" to transit small arms and light weapons from Israeli Airways for shipments originating in the United States with destination Israel.
The United Kingdom
The UK has sold Israel equipment and components for tanks, combat aircraft, combat helicopters, missiles, ammunition, mines, machine guns, tear gas, and electronic equipment for military use. UK companies with known connections with Israel include: the Airtechnology Group, which supplies parts to IMI for the Merkava tank, BAE Systems, which has provided head-up displays for US-built F16s214 and whose subsidiary Rokar International is the current sole-source supplier of counter-measure dispensing systems for the Israeli airforce, and Smiths Group which has supplied missile triggering systems for Apache helicopters.
Israeli Merkava tanks had been equipped with a cooling system made by the Surrey-based Airtechnology Group, and UK components, including missile trigger systems made by Smiths Group, are used in US-made Apache helicopters supplied to Israel, both in action killing and injuring Palestinian civilians in Rafah.
In March 2002, Junior UK Foreign Office Minister, Ben Bradshaw, disclosed that the Israeli armed forces had modified UK Centurion tanks, exported between 1958 and 1970, and were using them as armoured personnel carriers. He stated that this contradicted a written assurance from the Israeli government on 29 November 2000 that "no UK-originated equipment nor any UK-originated systems/ sub systems /components are used as part of the defence force's activities in the territories". The UK government has continued to supply arms and equipment to the Israeli security forces. Such transfers continue despite reports that generic types of such equipment have been used by the Israeli security forces in Rafah to commit human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law.
The European Union: What Code of Conduct?
The situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories should be foremost on the minds of European officials when they carry out their reviews of the EU Code of Conduct for Arms Exports. The code was adopted in 1998 with the aim of "setting high common standards" over arms exports. Criteria include respect of human rights in the country of final destination; in particular, member states will "not issue an export license if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression", including, inter alia, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, summary or arbitrary executions, arbitrary detentions and other major violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as set out in relevant international human rights instruments.
Human rights organisations and various bodies of the United Nations have documented such major violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the case of Israel. Other criteria include the existence of tensions or armed conflicts, and whether there is a clear risk that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country or to assert by force a territorial claim. Political and military experts can provide the necessary assessment that, indeed, Israel would fail the test on this item. Moreover, an assessment includes "the behavior of the buyer country with regard to the international community", in particular with regard to respect for international law, "its compliance with its international commitments, in particular the non-use of force, including under international humanitarian law applicable to international and non-international conflicts".
The world has seen and condemned Israel's human rights record. The transfer of arms to Israel is inconsistent with the criteria provided in the EU Code of Conduct. Export licenses should therefore be refused. Taking into account the volume and gravity of human rights violations and breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, including acts of war crimes, that have been documented by various human rights organisations and United Nations bodies, and the volume of Israeli forces and military equipment stationed in the occupied Palestinian territories, and since there is no common system of monitoring the end-use of European arms by the Israeli forces in the Palestinian territories, only a full arms embargo will prevent European arms from being used to commit war crimes and other human rights abuses. The European Union, therefore, should renew its arms embargo against Israel, which it lifted in 1994.
Weapons and Arms trade
Arms Trade to Israel
Israel's arms imports mainly come from the US and, to a lesser extent, Germany, France and the UK. The US is, of course, Israel's main supporter and provider of arms. It provides Israel with $3bn in annual aid and in 2001 alone US arms sales to Israel were worth $2.95bn. Germany is Israel's next biggest arms supplier - between 1996 and 2000, it supplied Israel with weaponry worth $765m. France exported major conventional weapons worth $50m to Israel between 1996 and 2000.
Cluster bombs and flechette shells
Cluster bombs are heavy ordinance which, when detonated, release hundreds of darts (flechettes) or other fragments of metal shrapnel. They are designed to target human beings and have been used on several occasions by Israel against Palestinians, with many civilian casualties.
Mordechai VanunuThe existence of Israel's secret nuclear weapons program was first confirmed in September 1996, when Israeli whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu provided Sunday Times journalist Peter Hounam with photographs and technical information about the Dimona facility. Vanunu had served in the Israeli army and then went to work in the Dimona nuclear "research center" in the Negev Desert near his home at Beersheba. The facility harbored an underground plutonium separation plant operated in strictest secrecy. Following his contact with the Sunday Times, before the article was published, Vanunu was lured to Rome by an Israeli agent and kidnapped by the Israeli Mossad. Vanunu served a sentence of 18 years imprisonment, 12 years of which were in solitary confinement. Now freed by the Israeli government, he leaves behind concrete walls, but will be thrown into a bureaucratic prison that denies him basic freedoms.
Rubber- and plastic-coated metal bullets
"Rubber bullets" are they typically characterised in the media, have been responsible for many injuries and deaths of Palestinians.
Israel: Germs, gas and A-bombs - Fingers on all the buttons
The world's best-known and most efficient 'secret' manufacturer of weapons of mass destruction is not Iraq, not even North Korea, but Israel. Neil Sammonds looks at a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare programme that even the Israeli Knesset cannot get access to, let alone the United Nations.
"The Israels Nuclear Arms and the Bush Administration" (22 January 2004)
According to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Israel is the fifth largest nuclear power in the world. The CIA estimates Israels nuclear weapons to number between 200 and 400. According to published research on Israels nuclear program, Israels arsenal enables it to obliterate all imaginable targets in most Arab countries. Furthermore, a 1993 official report to the U.S. Congress states that Israel has undeclared offensive chemical warfare capabilities and is generally reported as having an undeclared offensive biological warfare program. Yet despite Israels nuclear might, polls have shown that only 18.3 percent of Israelis have a sense of national security. Moreover, one in four Israelis believe that the country should give up its nuclear arsenal. On the international level, there has been continuous apprehension over Israels alleged nuclear program. Israel has purposely remained ambiguous about its nuclear program, maintaining that it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons in the region. Successive U.S. governments have refused to raise the issue with Israel and have remained silent as international demands on Israel to tell the truth increase. But with the growing tensions in the Middle East and the Bush administrations crusade to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, can the United States justify its insistence that Iran, Libya and Syria allow inspections while allowing Israel to disregard international inspections?
Israeli High Court considers use of flechette shells (15 April 2003)
The Israeli High Court held a session on Sunday, 13 April 2003, to consider the case of the use of flechette anti-personnel shells by the Israeli army. PCHR and Physicians for Human Rights appealed to the court to issue a decision to absolutely prohibit the use of flechette shells by the Israeli army in its military operations. The court considered the case in light of the sharp increase in the use of these internationally banned shells by the Israeli army, which have caused dozens of casualties among Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially in the Gaza Strip. In its response to the court, the Israeli authorities claimed that the Israeli army uses flechette shells in exceptional circumstances and in open areas, but facts available to PCHR and Physicians for Human Rights prove that the Israeli army has used these shells in residential areas, causing dozens of casualties among Palestinian civilians. CLIP
Flechette Shells: An Illegal Weapon
Flechettes are an anti-personnel weapon that is generally fired from tanks. The shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts 3.75 mm in length, which disperse in a conical arch three hundred meters long and about ninety meters wide. The IDF uses flechette shells that are 105 mm in diameter and are fired from tanks. The primary military advantage of the flechette over other munitions is its ability to penetrate dense vegetation very rapidly and to strike a relatively large number of enemy soldiers. The IDF used flechettes in Lebanon against the Hizbullah and the other militias fighting against Israel. The flechettes killed and wounded dozens of Lebanese civilians, who were not involved in the hostilities, including children. Since the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada, the IDF has used flechettes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. CLIP
Companies Providing Arms to the Israeli Military*
- Produces the Cobra Attack Helicopter.
- Produces the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter, used to kill Palestinian civilians. Some of the other Boeing weapons in Israel's arsenal include other helicopters, fighter planes, and missiles. Israel owns 98 Boeing F-15 Eagle jets, each costing $38 million. A Boeing Hellfire Missile killed local Palestinian leader Hussein Abayat, along with two women standing nearby, in the second of half of October 2000.
- Sells armored bulldozers which are used to demolish homes and uproot olive trees.
- Manufactures the 20mm guns for Israel's F-16 jets and has supplied Israel with approximately one thousand M60A3 Main Battle Tanks.
- Makes engines for Apache Helicopters.
- Produces the TOW missile.
- Manufactures the Patriot Missile and the F-16 Fighting Falcon jet. Israel possesses 237 Fighting Falcons, each costing $34.3 million.
- Makes radar and weapons systems.
Oshkosh Truck Corporation
- Makes tactical military trucks for Israel.
- Produces a number of missiles used by Israel against the Palestinians, including the AGM 65 Maverick, Patriot, and AIM 9 Sidewinder.
United Technologies (through a subsidiary, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation)
- Produces the Blackhawk Helicopter and the CH-53D Sea Stallion Helicopter. In 1997, Sikorsky was accused of diverting U.S. aid to Israel into a slush fund for an Israeli Air Force officer. "Our company's relationship of more than 40 years with Israel is a source of pride," said Sikorsky President Dean Borgman in a February 1, 2001 press release while announcing that his firm was awarded a $211.8 million contract with the Israeli Air Force.
* Sources: The World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center (http://www.worldpolicy.org/projects/arms/reports/israel050602.html) and Seattle's Palestine Information Project (http://members.aol.com/edwardmast/divest.html).
SEATTLE DIVEST FROM ISRAELI MILITARY OCCUPATION
Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in peace, independence and security. If we want peace and justice in Israel/Palestine, we must support both Israeli and Palestinian claims to statehood and self-determination. We must also penetrate the veil of misinformation that surrounds this conflict, misrepresenting it as a religious war, an ancient conflict, or a battle between two equal sides. It is not an equal battle. One side has power over the other, and has imposed a military occupation for over 35 years. We currently have municipal public funds invested in companies that support that military occupation, and the time has come for that to end.
Since 1967, over three million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived in a state of apartheid under Israeli military occupation. Under occupation, Palestinians have no right to vote, no freedom of speech or assembly or movement. They can be arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial. They are routinely subject to torture in prison. Israeli soldiers and civilians attack and murder them with relative impunity. According to the US State Department's Country Reports, the Israeli army targets civilians even when soldiers are not in imminent danger. Amnesty International is concerned that the main aim of the Israeli army's conduct "is to collectively punish all Palestinians," stressing that the Israeli army has taken actions which amount to war crimes.
No peace talks have offered Palestinians independence. No peace talks have stopped Israel from continuing to build settlements for Israeli citizens inside the Occupied Territories. Several Israeli generals have agreed that these settlements serve no purpose for the defense or security of Israel. As former President Jimmy Carter has observed, this ongoing process of colonizing occupied land for an Israeli population is an egregious and destabilizing obstacle to peace in the region. Our political and financial support of these activities only makes more violence inevitable.
The military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal under the UN Charter and 4th Geneva Convention, which not only forbid the acquisition of land by force, but also forbid the occupying power from moving its own population into occupied territories. As parties to the Geneva Convention, both the United States and Israel are compelled to "respect and ensure respect for" the Convention. The US therefore has an affirmative duty under international law to see that the illegal occupation ends. Under domestic law also, the US should not be supporting the Israeli occupation. Both the US Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act forbid selling weapons or giving financial support to countries that engage in consistent patterns of gross violations of human rights.
The Israeli military occupation, which denies human rights based on ethnicity, is a moral outrage as well. We would not support torture if it occurred in front of us, and conscience demands that we not support it anywhere. We would not support apartheid in South Africa or in the Jim Crow South of our own country, and conscience demands that we not support it when it happens in Israel/Palestine.
Through its Retirement Pension Funds for city employees, the City of Seattle invests in several corporations that sell military equipment to the Israeli army for use in the Occupied Territories. These companies sell equipment used to brutalize and kill people. Our divestment campaign focuses on seven such companies:
Gaza: horror beyond belief
Ghada Ageel writing from ZAHRA, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 16 May 2004
The situation in Gaza is horrific beyond belief.
Since Tuesday, May 11, thousands of people have been denied the simple right to return to their homes; this includes infants, children, students, employees, women, and men of all ages. There is no law in this life or world that should prevent someone from returning to his or her home.
Yet in Palestine this is happening. And it is Israel, the storied democratic state, that is practicing this grave violation of very basic human rights.
Tens of thousands of students and employees came from the south of the strip (Khan Younis and Rafah) to Gaza City for university studies, work, and for other various needs. They got stuck in Gaza after Israel closed all the internal checkpoints in the strip -- dividing it into three separate parts.
My mother was one of those people. She came to visit my sister in Gaza City on Monday afternoon. She was planning to stay overnight and go back home on Tuesday morning. But on Tuesday morning she was jolted by the news of the closure and by what was going on in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, which is very close to the Sabra neighborhood where my sister lives.
Like everyone else in the Strip she has followed the news not only via television and radio, but by watching and hearing the rockets launched by the Israeli combat helicopters which hovered over the buildings of Sabra and rocketed Zeitoun with air-to-ground missiles and shelled the neighborhood with high-explosive ammunition.
To reach Khan Younis refugee camp, she has to cross two checkpoints. The first is beside the illegal Israeli settlement of Netzarim where the tanks stand by two huge hills of sands. These tanks close off access to the coastal road and block anyone intending to cross. The second checkpoint is the one between Khan Younis and Deir Al-Baleh. This is Abu Holi checkpoint (so designated on account of the family name of the owner of the land and to call to memory that it was this family's land that Israel confiscated and uprooted for the checkpoint).
On Tuesday, my mother decided that the next day she would cross the first checkpoint. This is easy compared to Abu Holi. She was dying from worry for my two brothers and my sister whom she left alone at Khan Younis camp as it was subjected to several largely unreported incursions in the last few days. She was terrified that the army might invade Khan Younis while she was in Gaza. The fear is always there that something more might happen to our family. She wants to be with them at such times no matter the cost. But it is especially important to her now with my father in Egypt and there being no older family members with them. My sister and I failed to convince her to give up her idea.
We agreed that she get a taxi from Sabra to the northern part of Netzarim where I would meet her. And because we cannot use the main road where the tanks stand, we have to circumnavigate this via a one kilometer trek on the beach before we can use the main road again to get another taxi. I walked half an hour on foot to meet her. Many children and students also made the trek. The army shot above our heads many times. At such moments we ran -- myself every bit as much as the children and students around me.
I was notorious in my family for liking to run as a child. Now I run because my life may depend on it. But running on the sandy Gaza beach was extremely difficult. Some people, in their haste and fear, lost their shoes while running, but continued barefooted. Others were holding their shoes in their hands and running.
Many old women were crying after they fell to the ground and the sea water made their clothes wet. It was humiliating and yet I continued running. When I met my mom on the other side I started to worry about how I could get her safely to the other side. She cannot run. She cannot walk for even three minutes without sitting for a break. Then we saw the donkeys with carts coming to carry people. We paid four shekels and got on the cart. The donkey owner asked us to hold carefully to the edges of the cart and lie flat on it if there was any shooting. If so, we would then have to pick up the pace.
It is crazy. But in our situation today, nothing is normal. We sat. The driver ran alongside us. I closed my eyes and cried in silence. For a minute I wished that my mother had not brought me into this life. The 14-year-old driver saw my tears and told me to cheer up. At least, he said, you are not in Zeitoun where people are getting slaughtered. You have a chance to survive.
It was, he claimed, only another two minutes before we would arrive. And, after all, if anything happened there was a cameraman to take our picture. Apparently not all the journalists were blocked at Erez checkpoint on their way into Gaza. Some had obviously arrived earlier or were with the Palestinian press.
Despite all the hazards we succeeded in crossing. My mother was so happy and for a minute I was happy for her happiness.
We arrived at my apartment. The first leg of the trip was done. We decided to take a short break before continuing to Abu Holi checkpoint.
While listening to the radio we heard that the IDF opened Abu Holi. Quickly, my husband Nasser got our two kids and we raced to our car. More slowly, I helped my mother. We drove as fast as the engine could bear. My mother was so happy that she would go home. But her happiness did not endure. We arrived two minutes after the checkpoint was closed. The IDF had opened it for a scant 20 minutes. We waited for four hours before we returned home. My mother was so disappointed.
She could not sleep that night so on Thursday morning at 8:00 am I again took her to the checkpoint. It was so hot and thousands of people were there waiting. They all were praying that the army would let them cross. People were following the news and they learned more about the destruction at Zeitoun after the pervasiveness of the damage became clear following the IDF withdrawal. They also heard about the Apache helicopter strike in Rafah which left 13 people dead. Two girls, who were relatives of one of those killed, were seized by hysteria and tears. People at the checkpoint tried to calm them.
There was a woman who had left her 5-week-old infant and come to see the doctor in Gaza City. She could not return home. There was a young man who came to get his certificate stamped in search of a job, but got stuck.
The faces of the people were pelted by the relentless force of the sun. Many of them spent the night under the trees or sleeping in their taxis. Some returned to the middle camps or Gaza City to sleep with friends. Students who spent all their money on transportation going to and out of the checkpoint were sitting in great despair with nothing to do.
People were calling the Red Cross, UNRWA, the Egyptian Representative's office, and the Red Crescent asking them to try to contact or pressure the Israelis to open the checkpoint. Then, in the middle of the day, two mature men went to the Israeli soldiers and pulled off their shirts and put their hands above their heads in an attempt to speak to them.
After they explained the situation from a great distance -- a scenario that of course did not need any explanation beyond a simple glance the faces of the waiting people -- the soldier promised to open if we remained quiet. We remained quiet for six hours in the hope that they would open. It was not until 4:30 pm that people started to approach the checkpoint again in another attempt to speak to the soldiers or even to walk through.
Suddenly, the soldiers started to shoot using live bullets and tear gas grenades. The tanks and the jeeps started to drive towards us. I took my mum from the taxi where she had been sitting for eight hours and we started to run. Every single one of us tried to escape. I was holding my young son Tarek with one hand and helping my mother with the other while Ghaida, my young daughter, was screaming somewhere close by.
My mother -- my mother! -- fell to the ground and people carried her. I carried Tarek and ran far from the gas. I shouted and called to Ghaida. She was shouting for me somewhere nearby, but out of sight. As a mother, these moments were the worst.
Five people got injured and approximately 10 were rendered unconscious by the gas. Ambulance sirens started to be heard and I still could not locate Ghaida. The shooting was still going on and the wheat field beside the checkpoint had caught on fire.
No words can adequately express the fear and humiliation of those minutes. And you wonder for a moment what life is this? Do we, too, not deserve to live as human beings?
Even after what happened, people still maintained hope that the IDF would open the checkpoint. And again we sat quiet in lines; hundreds of grim faces waiting. I tried to convince my mum to return to my apartment, but she had hope that they would open. She said the soldier promised the two men to open and they might honor their commitment. By now I had found Ghaida. She, at age eight, and Tarek, who is nearly four, were so tired and their faces were yellow.
We sat for another two hours for my mother. Again the bulldozers accompanied by the tanks started to move. They brought sand and began to close the road. We were thinking that they were cleaning or leveling the area but they were closing the road.
People started to scream in one voice: No, please, do not close, let us go. There was no act violent act from those waiting, either by way of action or words, but they started to shoot again.
By now, it was around 7:00 pm. The same scene as before was repeated. But this time we escaped with no hope -- just with great despair -- after more than 10 hours of waiting.
Almost every woman and child was crying or screaming. Men were helping and I could not look at my mum's face. I had no words to say. I again noticed how tired my children looked. On our way back there was complete silence. Even our tears were spent. I wished that my mother could speak or cry to relieve her stress and heartache, but she did not.
The same exhausting wait happened on Friday, but this time we were not there. We decided not to go, but to call people we knew at the checkpoint to get the news.
There is no conclusion to this story. Tomorrow, we will wait again. Will we walk forward to our destination or will my heartsick mother fall unceremoniously to the ground and be borne away in retreat from gas, bullets, and hate?
Genocide By Public Policy
Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan, News from Within, 19 May 2004
Many words are taboo if used to describe Israels actions against Palestinians. One word in particular -- genocide -- sparks emotions that echo across Israel, Europe, and North America. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group." What is happening in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip today is dangerously close to genocide, close enough that photographs of terrified Palestinians in Rafah loading their meager belongings onto carts and fleeing their homes are all too reminiscent of another time, another place another people. These images should be setting off alarm bells in the hearts and minds of Israelis. Unfortunately, at stake is not only the lexicon of conflict, but our children as well. We refuse to sit still and watch a deaf, dumb and blind world steal their future from them.
A few weeks ago, Israeli professor and political sociologist at Ben Gurion University, Lev Grinberg, wrote an article that created an furore in Israel. Entitled "Symbolic Genocide,"  it provided an unsettling argument: "Unable to recover from the Holocaust trauma and the insecurity it caused, the Jewish people, the ultimate victim of genocide, is currently inflicting a symbolic genocide upon the Palestinian people
What is symbolic genocide? Every people has its symbols, national leaders and political institutions, a home land, past and future generations, and hopes. All these symbolically represent a people. Israel is systematically damaging, destroying and eradicating all of these, with unbelievable bureaucratic jargon."
During the last few years and weeks, in particular, such actions can no longer be accurately defined as "symbolic." In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinian cities and refugee camps are being battered beyond recognition. This is the same fate that todays very same Israeli leaders forced upon Palestinians in Lebanon in 1982 and upon Palestinians inside Israel proper nearly 60 years ago. The Israeli targets have been many, most recently, as we write, Rafah City and the Rafah refugee camp in the Southern tip of the Gaza Strip.
This isolated, poverty-stricken community is facing the same brute force of the Israeli military occupation that the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank, faced two years ago, if not worse. The Palestinian death toll has been mounting so steadily that the media does not even bother to mention the 5-7 Palestinian deaths that occur almost daily from Israeli firepower.
Nevertheless, "deliberate and systematic destruction," as the definition of genocide illustrates, does not necessarily mean physical killing of people, albeit Israel is having no problem, and is facing no international outcry, in doing just that. Destruction, Israeli-occupation style, is equally focused on demolishing Palestinian homes under the false pretext of "security." If so many Palestinians were not being killed and even more being made homeless, this outdated Israeli-manufactured pretext called "security" would be laughable.
Israeli newspapers routinely publish headlines such as the following, all of which appeared earlier this week: "[Israeli] High Court allows Gaza demolitions" (Haaretz, By Yuval Yoaz and Gideon Alon). This articles lead stated that "[Israeli] Army's 'operational necessity' takes precedence." This High Court is the same that several years ago allowed for Palestinian political prisoners to be tortured while under Israeli detention.
Indeed, the Israeli High Court has a long history of providing legal justification for the heinous actions of the Israeli military and the security services. This judicial carte blanche for Israels illegal occupation is worse than Israeli politicians publicly discussing which Palestinian is next on their assassination list or how Palestinians should be "transferred" out of their homes and cities once and for all. What Israel is doing is planned, organized, systematic and illegal. It is a wicked policy being discussed in full view of the public eye. On the other hand, Amnesty International, which historically has watered down the injustices inflicted upon Palestinians, has just released a report stating that, by destroying over 3,000 homes and causing damage to 16,000 more, and displacing thousands of Palestinians, making them refugees again for the umpteenth time, Israel is committing "war crimes." 
Yet the world remains silent.
As Professor Grinberg stated, "This is a dangerous policy. It poses an existential threat to the Palestinian people, but also to the state of Israel and its citizens, thereby endangering the entire Middle East."
Nothing could be closer to the truth. With every Palestinian assassinated from Israeli helicopter gunships, with every Palestinian home demolished, with every Palestinian illegally detained in Israeli prisons, ten times as many children are witnessing their ill fate before their very own eyes. Palestinian children now routinely climb on top of Israeli tanks invading their cities. Sadly, young Palestinians who have equated their life the only life they know under this brutal military occupation to death are being recruited to take innocent Israeli lives along with them while committing suicide themselves.
Victims of a naked aggression, Palestinians are slowly losing control of their society and being blamed for it as well. Israelis, too, are beginning to glorify death rather than life, as Israeli psychologist Yoram Yovel recently noted in an editorial in Haaretz newspaper (17 May 2004). He notes that what is happening in Gaza reflects a deep psychological process that Israeli society is undergoing, making it more and more similar to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
As the world powers watch the Palestinians being destroyed as a people, they have the arrogance and audacity to demand that a caged people develop and align their societys institutions for inclusion in a globalized world. While the worlds sole superpower watches, funds and provides political cover for the maze of Israeli military checkpoints and cement walls being erected to encircle Palestinian cities, they have the nerve to preach to Palestinians about necessary governmental and economic reforms and WTO accession. As if economic liberalization is a solution for the humanitarian and political disaster facing the Palestinian people, the worlds organizations, including the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan himself, are acknowledging Israeli war crimes while casually sending more teams of foreign consultants to document the gravity of the situation and suggest boilerplate reforms.
Knowing Palestinians' ability to remain steadfast in the face of earthshaking odds, we would venture to bet that Palestinians will continue to sustain the damages being systematically inflicted upon them. Palestinian students will continue their studies, even in makeshift schools if necessary. Palestinian investors and businesspersons will continue to invest and over-extend themselves to maintain even the minimal level of jobs possible. Palestinian women, the real unknown soldiers, will continue to be the threads of steel that hold together the strongest Palestinian institution yet: the family.
All of this can be expected, not because President Bush has some kind of blurry vision that keeps getting repeated like a broken record, but rather because Palestinians are the owners of a just cause and have been programmed to survive, despite all odds, and will continue to juggle two extraordinary struggles, one to free themselves from military occupation and the other to build for statehood.
Why does the community of nations refuse the screaming calls for an international peace-keeping presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, especially and immediately in the Gaza Strip, to prevent further escalation and destruction? The least that the world could do is to stand between our two peoples, for both of our peoples sake, and theirs.
If, to use Professor Grinbergs words again, "Silence under the present circumstances means acquiescence," then what does one call the United States blatant arming of, financial support for, and political cover of Israels or its own in Iraq, for that matter -- current policy of destruction and self-destruction?
Indeed, "genocide" seems too accommodating a word to describe such examples of the arrogance of power.
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the besieged Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank and can be reached at email@example.com. Dr. Michael Dahan is an Israeli-American political scientist living in Jerusalem and teaching at Ben Gurion University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article was first published in News from Within.
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