Besieged Gaza in ruins – more illegal settlements

18 Sep

 

Abby Martin Breaks the Set on More West Bank Settlements, IDF Soldiers Against Militarism, Prohibition in Gaza, and Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. RT 15 Sept 2014.

EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin reports on the announcement by Israel that 1,000 acres of land have been claimed for a new settlement bloc near Bethlehem, discussing the continued expansion of Israeli settlement in Palestinian territories. Abby then speaks with Eran Efrati, a former IDF soldier who recounts his experience being ostracized for attempting to expose crimes he witnessed as a soldier. Abby then outlines a few of the various goods banned from entering Gaza under Israel’s blockade, and how a ban on cement and other construction materials could mean that it will take several decades to rebuild Gaza. BTS wraps up the show with an interview with journalist and author Max Blumenthal, discussing his book ‘Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel’ which explores the true makeup of modern Israeli society and its policies toward the Palestinian territories.

Israel’s brave whistle-blowers

17 Sep

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Alastair Sloan, Middle East Monitor, 16 September 2014

It is the whistle-blower’s dilemma: follow the official internal complaints’ procedure and risk the truth being buried, or take it straight to the press, and risk improvised prosecution by a bitter government resentful that you did right and exposed its dirty tricks. The forty-three Israeli whistle-blowers of Yehida Shmoneh-Matayim, Israel’s equivalent of GCHQ or the NSA, opted for the latter.

These bold citizens have been rewarded by the Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon denouncing them as criminals; an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) spokesperson claiming that their allegations have been fabricated; and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing, “I know that these accusations are baseless, and will not harm the important work done by others for the security of Israel.” The lady doth protest too much, methinks, not least because, in the same breath, Netanyahu declared the IDF to be “the most ethical army in the world”.

According to the whistle-blowers, Unit 8200’s surveillance activities amount to political policing. The Israeli military have been collecting dirt on ordinary Palestinians, including sexual preferences, infidelities, family illnesses and financial problems, matters totally unconnected to the armed resistance movements. This information is used to humiliate people; to turn the unfortunate victims against their own communities and force them to collaborate with the Israeli occupation; and to blackmail them on pain of public exposure and embarrassment.

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EU Delegation: Israel has committed genocide

10 Sep

 

Jerome Hughes, Press TV, Brussels, Wednesday 10 September 2014.

  • An official European Union delegation has just returned to Brussels from the Middle East and has declared that Israel has committed genocide against the Palestinians.
  • The delegation, made up of 13 members of the European Parliament, has called on the EU to implement sanctions against Tel Aviv.

These members of the European Parliament are calling on the European Union to break diplomatic ties with Israel and implement sanctions against the country because of the war crimes it has committed against the people of Palestine.

The delegation of 13 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) has just returned to Brussels from the Middle East and played a video to journalists showing a Palestinian child dying in the back of an ambulance. The delegation describes what Israel has done to the people of Gaza as genocide.

The 50-day Israeli war on Gaza left thousands dead and tens of thousands wounded. The delegation of MEPs is accusing the West of turning its back on the Palestinian people by not taking action against Israel. The politicians accuse Tel Aviv of continuing to break international laws by engaging in land grabs to build settlements in Palestine.

The United Nations aid organisation, UNRWA, estimates that it will cost 800 million euro to reconstruct the buildings and infrastructure in Palestine that were recently destroyed by Israel during its 50-day bombardment of Gaza. In the meantime hundreds of thousands of people will effectively remain homeless. The agency says 90% of the water in Gaza is now undrinkable, disease is spreading and it predicts that the area will be uninhabitable by the year 2020 unless the international community gets behind the citizens of Palestine.

 

Dr Mustafa Barghouti on the destruction of Gaza

10 Sep

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Dr Barghouti in Gaza

Moving and powerful: Mustafa Barghouti’s speech on the destruction of Gaza

Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK, September 9, 2014

On Tuesday 9th September, Dr Mustafa Barghouti, the Palestinian MP, member of the PLO’s Central Council, and General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, addressed Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists in London.

Dr Barghouti, a medical doctor, was in Gaza during Israel’s latest massacre.

He spoke to a packed hall of 400 people on the day of PSC’s National Lobby of Parliament for Palestine. Activists then went on to meet their MPs and put the case for justice for Palestine and sanctions on Israel.

This is Dr Barghouti’s speech:

Thank you for everything you have done for Palestine and Gaza. We have been watching the demonstrations. What you have done has given the people a great amount of moral support and I hope you can continue with this, because it is very important.

I ask you to continue with this solidarity work because we have a very, very big fight ahead of us.

I want to give you a glimpse of what I saw and experienced in Gaza.

No footage, no speech, no camera, no television can really show the reality that you can see with your own eyes. Please go there if you can. It’s so important for you to know the reality and it’s also important for there people there to see you there.

What happened is beyond description. Even describing it as an act of disproportionality is an insult to humanity. Describing it as an imbalance of power is also an insult.

After slaughtering thousands of people and destroying thousands of homes and to speak about reconstruction and to immediately allow Israeli companies to make a profit from this is also an insult to humanity.

What happened in Gaza, as has happened before in the West Bank is nothing but war crimes and crimes against humanity. What happened was nothing but massacres against the civilian population and Israel couldn’t have done that without a feeling of impunity and without having impunity from international law, and this couldn’t have happened if so many Western world leaders hadn’t been complicit in what happened.

When major world leaders come out and speak about the right of Israel to self defence and not a single word about the Palestinian right to self-defence when Palestinians are slaughtered and occupied for 47 years, this is an insult to humanity.

And let me tell you frankly, after all these days and all this suffering, I have no patience for diplomatic talk.

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Noam Chomsky: Ceasefires in which violations never cease

10 Sep

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A Palestinian girl surveys what is left of her home in Shejaiya neighbourhood, Gaza city, following the latest ceasefire.

Noam Chomsky, Middle East Eye, Tuesday 9 September 2014

What’s Next for Israel, Hamas, and Gaza?

On 26 August, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) both accepted a ceasefire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind. The agreement calls for an end to military action by both Israel and Hamas, as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

This is, however, just the most recent of a series of ceasefire agreements reached after each of Israel’s periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza.

Throughout this period, the terms of these agreements remain essentially the same. The regular pattern is for Israel, then, to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it – as Israel has officially recognised – until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality. These escalations, which amount to shooting fish in a pond, are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance.

The most recent was more accurately described as “removing the topsoil” by a senior US military officer, appalled by the practices of the self-described “most moral army in the world.”

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NZ Herald editorial: ‘NZ should not back down’

10 Sep

images-9Foreign Minister Murray McCully

Editorial: NZ must resist Israel’s push to control our foreign policy

NZ Herald, Wednesday 10 September, 2014

For no good reason, the Israeli Government has picked a quarrel with New Zealand over its newly nominated ambassador, Jonathan Curr. It has told him he would be violating diplomatic protocol by being accredited also to the Palestinian Authority. Unless his dual credentials were cancelled, he could not be the ambassador to Israel. Never mind that New Zealand’s ambassador, who lives in Ankara, has performed both roles since 2008. If Israel does not come up with a far better explanation, New Zealand should not back down.

The motive behind Israel’s action is easy enough to see. It seems to have taken umbrage at New Zealand’s more assertive questioning and criticism of its policies in recent times. On September 2, for example, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said he was deeply concerned by the appropriation of 400ha of privately owned Palestinian land near Bethlehem for Israeli settlements. This was, he said, particularly disappointing when the focus should be on supporting the ceasefire in Gaza and peace talks in Cairo, “not deepening Israel’s occupation in the West Bank”.

This statement followed earlier ones in which Mr McCully called for “proportional responses” so the violence in Gaza and Israel did not escalate, condemned the shelling of United Nations buildings in Gaza, and emphasised New Zealand’s wish for a resumption of talks aimed at producing a two-state solution. Prime Minister John Key called the shelling of a United Nations school a “blot on the world as we know it”.

Israel may have been startled by the tone and thrust of these statements. Mr Key’s Government had previously steered well clear of the sort of strong criticism that was a trademark of his predecessor, Helen Clark. Its reaction to, for example, Israel’s 2008 military assault on Gaza was so bland that it was criticised at home for abdicating New Zealand’s moral leadership in international affairs.

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Israel rejects NZ ambassador – how will Key respond?

9 Sep

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NZ ambassador Jonathan Curr (Photo provided by New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

RT report 8 September 2014

Israel refused to accept New Zealand’s new ambassador as he is also an envoy to the Palestinian Authority. However, New Zealand is perplexed over what it sees as a sudden change to the long-standing practice.

New Zealand does not have a separate embassy in Israel as well as many other countries near it. The island nation’s embassy in Turkey has to handle ties with quite a number of nations, including Jordan, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Until recently it was also responsible for New Zealand’s relations with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Israel’s Foreign Ministry however refused to allow New Zealand’s new ambassador to the region, Jonathan Curr, to present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin.

Curr’s meeting with the Israeli president was canceled after he informed the country’s Foreign Ministry that he also planned to visit Ramallah for an official ceremony with PA president Mahmoud Abbas.

“A few days ago, Israel advised New Zealand that it would not accept as ambassador a person who was also a representative to the Palestinian Authority,” New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in a statement on Monday, according to AP.

New Zealand’s authorities are perplexed, because Curr’s two predecessors also did both the jobs and Israel never protested.

Senior officials at the Israeli Foreign Ministry explained to the new ambassador that his mistake could actually be informing Israel of his meeting with Abbas, according to Haaretz.

The same source says the Foreign Ministry suggested that a lower-level diplomat from New Zealand’s embassy could maintain ties with the PA, which infuriated Curr who reportedly said New Zealand was capable of deciding for itself how to handle its diplomacy.

Israel eventually tried to play down the situation, saying it was no more than a “protocol principle.”

“The issue in question is totally unconnected to the good relations between the two countries,” The Israeli Embassy in Wellington said in a statement.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided not to allow any exceptions to the regulations.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he was looking into the issue to find out if Israel was sending a particular message by the move.

“I don’t know. Maybe… I wouldn’t want to read too much into it. Let’s see,” he said.

New Zealand has been generally perceived as a pro-Israel country. However, it voted in favor of giving Palestine non-member observer status at the UN in 2012.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister said having a separate ambassador for Israel could be “pretty inconvenient,” as the country does not have a “massive representation in that part of the world.”

Tags: Conflict, Israel, New Zealand, Politics, Scandal

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