Posts Tagged ‘humanitarian’

al Jazeera‘s “Inside Story” takes a look at where the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is now, where it can go, and the Feb. 10th elections in Israel. (more…)

UN Special Rapporteur and Special Investigator on Torture Manfred Nowak said on CNN the US has an “obligation” to investigate the Bush administration for war crimes and that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (more…)

Analysis of the humanitarian crisis, Israel’s responsibility, the US role in the attacks, aftermath, and peace process. (more…)

UN condemns Israel and calls for “full investigation” of its atrocities in Gaza. Two of the world’s leading human rights groups find Israel guilty of war crimes in their usage of deadly chemicals on civilians. (more…)

Prof. Chomsky speaks at MIT on Gaza, Israel, Hamas, Lebanon, Hizbollah, State Terror, the West’s tacit consent and overt support of Israel, and more. (more…)

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In the latest case of US coddling Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), the US reportedly struck down a cease-fire in an emergency meeting of the UN Security [sic] Council last night:

The United States thwarted an effort by Libya on Sunday to persuade the UN Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after Israel launched a ground invasion, diplomats said.

Several council diplomats told reporters that the U.S. refusal to back a Libyan-drafted demand for an immediate truce at a closed-door emergency session had killed the initiative, since council statements must be passed unanimously.

The text by Libya, the only Arab member of the council,expressed “serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza, in particular, after the launching of the Israeli ground offensive” and called on all parties “to observe an immediate ceasefire.” Arab nations demanded Saturday night that the UN Security Council call for an immediate cease-fire following Israel’s launch of a ground offensive in Gaza, a view echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The United Nations Security Council held emergency consultations late Saturday to address the escalation of violence in Gaza….

“Israel cannot continue to behave as a state above international law – this is the law of the jungle,” [Riyad Mansour, the permanent Palestinian observer to the United Nations, told reporters].

Mansour added that it was crucial for the council to adopt a statement calling for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

It was not clear if Washington would back the Libyan text in its current form.

The United States and Libya have clashed repeatedly on the Israeli-Palestinian issue over the last 12 months since Libya joined the Council and the United States has tried to keep the topic off the agenda whenever possible….

Ban has urged key world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate Israeli-Hamas cease-fire that includes international monitors to enforce a truce and, possibly, to protect Palestinian civilians.

Ban “is convinced and alarmed that this escalation will inevitably increase the already heavy suffering of the affected civilian populations,” the statement said. He asked that Israel ensure civilian safety and allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, according to the statement.

The secretary-general urged regional and international partners to “exert all possible influence to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed and suffering.”

AP:

Libyan Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi said the United States during the discussions late Saturday objected to “any outcome” on the proposed statement.

He said efforts were made to compromise on a weaker press statement but there was no consensus. Several other council members, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were closed, also said the U.S. was responsible for the council’s failure to issue a statement.

The U.S., Israel’s closest ally, has designated Hamas a terrorist organization. U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week’s council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement “would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, (and) would not do credit to the council.”

Arab nations demanded that the council adopt a statement calling for an immediate cease-fire and expressing “serious concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation in Gaza and southern Israel,” a view echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

If it had been approved, the statement would have become part of the council’s official record but would not have the weight of a Security Council resolution, which is legally binding.

Egypt’s U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said it was regrettable that one permanent council member — a clear reference to the U.S. — refused to accept any statement at a time when “the aggression is escalating and more people are dying and the military attack on the ground is at its full scale.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, said: “We have war. We have aggression against the Palestinian people, and it is a sad and tragic moment when the Security Council cannot address this issue by at least demanding from Israel … to stop this aggression immediately.”

British Ambassador John Sawers said he was “very disappointed” as PM Gordon Brown has called for an “immediate cease-fire” agreement that includes a stop to Hamas rockets, arms trafficking, and border regulations staing that “Israel needs to be secure and Palestine needs to be viable.”

AntiWar.com:

The new draft seemed aimed at answering those concerns, as the British government suggested everyone was open to a resolution if the terms were right.

Yet this seems not to have been the case, and the US rejection this time appears to have nothing to do with the terms of the draft, and everything to do with the fact that it would call on Israel to stop its invasion. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United States can veto any resolution, and has traditionally done so when the resolution would stand in the way of Israeli military action.

Meanwhile, the death toll has risen above 500, including 87 children, and more than 2,450 wounded. and nothing from the US states conditions addressing Israel’s violations of IHL as have come from the EU:

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, on Sunday pledged an additional $4.2 million of emergency aid for Gaza and called on Israel to respect international law.

“Blocking access to people who are suffering and dying is also a breach of humanitarian law,” Louis Michel, EU’s humanitarian aid commissioner, said in a statement.

“I call on the Israeli authorities to respect their international obligations and ensure a ‘humanitarian space’ for the delivery of vital relief,” he said.

The same article quotes the US State Department as saying “it told the Israeli government that any military action should be ‘mindful of the potential consequences to civilians’.” Leaving out references to IHL is a result of carefully crafted statements. Were the US to mention IHL, they’d be contradictory to not condemn Israel’s actions being executed with US supplies. Still no word from the president-elect, yet, “we don’t have one president at a time when it comes to the economy or Iraq or Afghanistan or other issues.”



Israel bombs university in Gaza as hospitals run low on supplies due to pre-existing blockade:

Amira Hass reports for Haaretz:

At 3:19 P.M. Sunday, the sound of an incoming missile could be heard over the telephone. And then another, along with the children’s cries of fear. In Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, high-rise apartment buildings are crowded close together, with dozens of children in every building, hundreds in every block….

“Seventy policemen were killed there, not all Hamas members,” said S., who opposes Hamas. “And even those who supported Hamas were young men looking for a job, a salary. They wanted to live. And therefore, they died. Seventy in one blow. This assault is not against Hamas. It’s against all of us, the entire nation. And no Palestinian will consent to having his people and his homeland destroyed in this way.”

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights has condemned Israel’s attacks on Gaza:

Reference: 113/2008
Date: 28 Dec 2008

In a Criminal Escalation, IOF Strikes on Gaza Kill and Injure over 900 People as the Siege Continues to Debilitate Health and Other Vital Services

In one of the bloodiest escalations of Israeli military operations, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) initiated a wide-scaled air strike operation against the Gaza Strip. Dozens of targets were attacked from the air simultaneously using heavy missiles and bombs. Mostly, the strikes targeted police and security installations across the densely populated Gaza Strip, which indicative of IOF’s disregard of civilians’ life and wellbeing. Over 900 people have been killed an injured, most of whom are non-combatants. The number of casualties was exacerbated by the timing of the strike, which coincided with the change in schools’ shifts when tens of thousands of schoolchildren were on their way from or to school. Seven of UNRWA’s Gaza Vocational Training Center students were also killed in one of the airstrikes in Gaza City.

According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, at approximately 11:30am on Saturday 27 December 2008, Israeli military aircrafts launched a coordinated series of airstrikes targeting dozens of police, security and other premises across the Gaza Strip. The first wave of attacks lasted for less than five minutes, during which over 100 missiles and bombs were dropped on Gaza. One of the largest strikes targeted the Arafat Police Town, which is located near several UNRWA schools. Dozens of people were killed in this attack, including tens of young men who were undergoing training to join the police. Moreover, Colonel General Tawfik Jabir, who is the Police General Director in the Gaza Strip, and Captain Ahmed Al-Ja’bari, the Director of the Security and Protection Apparatus, were killed in the same attack.

The IOF’s air strikes have been characterized by their unprecedented fierceness. Police stations located in densely populated neighborhoods were attacked, destroying them and causing severe damage to tens of schools and homes and killing dozens of civilians, including children and old people.

Air strikes have continued through the night, targeting houses and other civilian premises, including water-wells, workshops, CBO offices, mosques and communications facilities. A guard of a water-well and three employees of the Palestinian Telecommunications Company were killed in North Gaza. Another two men were killed in a strike that targeted the Al-Borno Mosque near the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The Hospital’s building was damaged in this same strike. Moreover, IOF targeted prisons, including Gaza’s main prison facility of As-Saraya at noon today. Initial reports indicate that many policemen and prisoners were killed and injured in this attack.

Additionally, dozens of homes were destroyed, along with tens of UNRWA and government schools and clinics. Local government offices and private vehicles were also destroyed. Al Mezan’s initial monitoring indicates that at least 257 people have been killed in the IOF’s strikes in the last 24 hours. Of those, the vast majority are non-combatants and civilians; including 20 children, 9 women and 60 civilians. The majority of the rest of the casualties are members of the civilian police who were inside their stations or undertaking training. At least 597 people were also injured, including 35 children whose wounds were reportedly critical. Al Mezan’s believes that the number of casualties is expected to increase as many cases have been buried by their families without being registered at hospitals. Besides, a high number of people lie at hospitals between death and life. Moreover, dozens of people who were lightly wounded and; therefore, not admitted at hospitals were not counted. As the airstrikes continue, more people fall victims of them. This makes this operation one of Israel’s bloodiest, most criminal military actions in Gaza in the past few decades.

This escalation comes amidst unprecedented deterioration of the humanitarian conditions Gaza’s 1.5 million people face owing to Israel’s tight siege which prevents their access to food, medicine and power. Ordinary Gazans have particularly been suffering from shortages in water supplies, cooking gas and foodstuffs. The siege has also impacted on hospitals’ capacity to function under severe shortages in medicines and equipment. Hospitals’ ability to handle very high numbers of casualties in a short time since yesterday has been particularly problematic; and particularly during the first hour after the first wave of attacks yesterday. With the strongest possible terms, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the IOF’s criminal military escalation in the Gaza Strip, which indiscriminately harms civilians and civilian property, and blatantly breaches the rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), qualifying as war crimes. Al Mezan particularly condemns the IOF attacks against civilian objects in which children and uninvolved civilians have been killed and maimed; despite the high technological capabilities that the IOF employs in their surveillance of the Gaza Strip.

Al Mezan stresses that police members who do not take part in any hostilities do not qualify as legitimate military targets under IHL and must not be deliberately targeted. It further stresses that, regardless of the soundness of the Israeli justifications of this operation, Israel must respect the rules of international law at all times, particularly when the use of force is involved. A reaction to rocket attacks cannot justify the perpetration of grave breaches of IHL, i.e. war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Al Mezan warns about the continued silence of the international community in the face of Israel’s escalation, which only encourages Israel to further escalate its attacks. Al Mezan calls on the international community to intervene urgently to protect the civilian population in harmony with its legal and ethical obligations under international law. International intervention is required urgently as the IOF’s attacks on Gaza continue, and news about the falling of more casualties mounts while drafting this press release.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “called on Arab states to stop what he called Zionist (Israeli) wolves from committing ‘further crimes’ against Palestinians in Gaza” on Sunday:

He called on the Organization of the Islamic Conference to ‘punish the Zionist regime (Israel) and its leaders (in a war crime tribunal).’

The ayatollah also condemned the United States and President George W Bush who, he said, ‘has just lengthened his war crimes record.’

‘The Europeans also assisted in this tragedy and showed once again their animosity towards Islam and Moslems and proved that their claims on human rights are just lies,’ said Khamenei.

Earlier Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rebuked Israel and urged immediate action to end the crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Khabar reported that Ahmadinejad called his Syrian counterpart and the Emir of Qatar, and urged Muslim states to cooperate to end the killing in Gaza.

The Iranian president harshly criticized Israel’s massive weekend airstrikes in the salient, and once more predicted ‘the collapse of the Zionist regime.’

Iran’s foreign ministry earlier condemned the raids as ‘savage, inhuman and contrary to all human rights’ norms,’ and reiterated Iran’s firm support for the Palestinian nation.

The Iranian parliament interrupted its normal session on Sunday and shouted for several minutes ‘death to Israel,’ while Speaker Ali Larijani warned that Israel would soon face a third wave of intifada or Palestinian uprising.

A demonstration was held Sunday against Israel in front of the United Nations headquarters in northern Tehran, and a solidarity protest in front of the Palestinian embassy in the capital.

Khaleej Times“History of Massacre After Massacre in Palestine” by Palestinian researcher, Nizar Sakhnini:

Massacres were part and parcel of the Zionist project in Palestine. They aimed at intimidating the Arabs and make them leave the country.

Dozens of massacres were committed against the Arabs starting with the Massacre at Baldat al-Shaikh in December 1947 and not ending with the massacres in Qana in South Lebanon in 1996 and 2006. Another brutal massacre is being committed in Gaza today. Hundreds of Palestinian Arabs have been killed and/or wounded. Given below, is a list of some of the massacres committed by the Zionists since 1947:

Massacre in Baldat al-Shaikh (31 December 1947): Haganah gang members stormed the village of Baldat al-Shaikh in pursuit of unarmed citizens. The death toll was about 600 people, most of whose corpses were found inside the houses of the village.… [read the full article]