UN: 254 Palestinians Killed, 23,000 Injured in Gaza Protests

UN: 254 Palestinians Killed, 23,000 Injured in Gaza Protests

By Middle East Monitor,

More than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army fire and over 23,000 injured since the start of the “Great March of Return” protests in the besieged Gaza Strip on 30 March until the end of last year, UN OCHA revealed in a report yesterday.

“Since 30 March 2018, the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant increase in Palestinian casualties in the context of mass demonstrations and other activities along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza, taking place as part of the Great March of Return.”

OCHA confirmed that “254 Palestinians were killed in Gaza between 30 March and 31 December, among them 180 killed during the March of Return protests at the Gaza border with Israel and the rest in other circumstances but also by Israeli gunfire. Among those killed 44 were children and four were women.”

The report pointed out that “23,603 Palestinians were injured during the same period, almost all of them during the March of Return protests and included 5,183 boys, 464 girls, and 1,437 women.”

“The largest number of fatalities and injuries occurred in May (80 deaths and 5,981 injuries) during mass protests against the relocation of the United States embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

OCHA stressed:

“The large number of casualties among unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including a high percentage of demonstrators hit by live ammunition, has raised concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli troops. Exposure of children to violence and lack of protection for medical teams are also of concern.”

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Featured image: Palestinian take cover as Israeli forces fire at protesters at the Gaza border on 14 December 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

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Palestinian Prisoners Announce Hunger Strike in Ofer

January 22, 2019

Ofer crackdown

Palestinian prisoners at Ofer detention center announced on Tuesday they were going on an open-ended hunger strike a day after IOF carried out a fierce crackdown on the prison cells, injuring about 100 Palestinian prisoners.

Prisoners’ committee of the of Islamic and National Powers in Gaza said that many prisoners are the victims of Israeli attacks and medical negligence in prisons.

“These Israeli attacks against the Palestinian prisoners won’t break the Palestinian prisoners’ will and persistence,” the committee stated.

The committee also warned of a Palestinian Intifada (uprising) across the Israeli prisons due to the aggressive policies committed by the Israeli Prison Service.

It also revealed that the first step to be followed in the prisoners’ combat program in Ofer is returning back meals, noting that more steps “are yet to come.”

For his part, Hamas lawmaker, Moshir al-Masri commented on the latest developments.

“If the occupation declared a war on prisoners, we’ll declare a war from our side,” al-Masri said.

Source: Palestinian media

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“Israel” Killing With Impunity, Lying Without Consequence?

 

The Guardian’s Editorial

In the last nine months of 2018, according to the United Nations, Palestinians – many of them children – were killed at the rate of around one a day while taking part in protests along “Israel’s” perimeter fence with Gaza about their right to return to ancestral homes.

They included medics and journalists. Most of the dead were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone, with little more than rocks in their hands and slogans on their lips. Yet “Israel” continued with an immoral and unlawful policy that sees soldiers of its military, which is under civilian control, shoot, gas, shell and kill protesters, including those who pose no credible threat.

Hospitals in Gaza, which already struggle under an “Israeli”-Egyptian blockade, have been stretched to breaking point in dealing with the flood of patients ferried in from the protests.

It would appear, sadly, that “Israel” wishes to conduct a war over the airwaves, as well as one on the ground, against the Palestinians. This blatant disregard for Gazan lives and the lack of accountability is underpinned by a politics of resentment and dissembling that has profound repercussions for “Israel.” If one can kill with impunity, then can one lie without consequence?

“Israel’s” Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, unexpectedly called for early elections in December in what seems a transparent bid to head off possible corruption charges. The decision by Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset came days after the prosecutor’s office recommended that “Israel’s” attorney general indict Netanyahu on charges of bribery, which he denies. Netanyahu is not only running for a fifth term in office, he is also running for his political life. His lawyers, it is reported, are arguing that a possible indictment be delayed… Echoing his friend Donald Trump, Netanyahu has told reporters that “Israel” can choose its leadership only at the ballot box and not through legal investigations, which are a “witch-hunt”…

The novelist Amos Oz’s words that “even unavoidable occupation is a corrupting occupation” have been ignored for too long. Netanyahu’s nearest rival brags that he sent parts of Gaza “back to the stone age” when in the military. Netanyahu would dismiss Oz’s warnings; but perhaps he ought to take heed of the recent spat between the historian Benny Morris and the writer Gideon Levy. The former, who made his name by lifting the veil on the ethnic cleansings on which “Israel” was founded, but drifted rightwards to say that these heinous crimes did not go far enough, and the latter, a leftwing columnist, agree that the [so-called] ‘two-state’ solution is a fading prospect. Netanyahu lulls the public with the notion that a ‘two-state’ solution will wait until “Israel” deems the conditions to be ripe. He hints that new friends in Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will come up with a proposal the Palestinians will swallow. This is pure cynicism. There is no new plan – just a rebranding of the status quo, maintained by force by “Israel,” and with Palestinians within and without “Israel’s” [occupied] borders subjugated and dependent. “Israelis” must turn away from the occupation, which is debasing their society and suffocating the Palestinians.

Source: The Guardian, Edited by website team

IDF chief turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad

IDF commander turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad

IDF chief turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad

Former Israeli Defense Forces chief turned political candidate Benny Gantz is touting the body count he racked up leading Operation Protective Edge with a campaign that boasts about bombing parts of Gaza “back to the Stone Age.”

Gantz has released a series of campaign ads for his “Hosen Le Yisrael” (Israel Resilience) party, glorifying the operation he oversaw as IDF commander as he attempts to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister in April’s election.

“Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages,” one clip boasts over footage of the bombed-out shells of Palestinian buildings. As chief of general staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, Gantz led the offensive that bombarded Gaza for 51 days, killing – as the ad boasts – “1,364 terrorists” and bringing “3.5 years of quiet.”

The second ad in the series shows a running tally of deaths over scenes of Palestinian funerals, and a third shows the targeted assassination of a Hamas leader whose car explodes in a ball of flame.

Gantz, whose campaign slogan translates to “Israel Before Everything,” seems convinced that Israeli voters pick their leaders by evaluating their death-dealing prowess – though he may be onto something, as recent polls have him trailing Netanyahu by just ten points. Hosen le Yisrael would win less than half as many seats as Netanyahu’s Likud party if the elections were held today, according to that poll.

Also on rt.com Israeli PM shows off beefed-up border fence in #10YearChallenge post

Palestinian and Israeli media have both taken issue with Gantz’s “terror” math. Using UN Human Rights Council figures, Electronic Intifada suggests that the ad tacitly admits that Gantz’s IDF targeted civilians, since less than 800 of those killed in Protective Edge were militants, while Haaretz notes that even the official Israeli military figures counts less than half of the Palestinian casualties as militants – meaning Gantz included close to 500 “uncategorized” casualties in his “terrorist” tally.

This accidental admission, EI points out, could help Palestinian-Dutch citizen Ismail Ziada in his lawsuit against Gantz – since Ziada’s suit alleges the bombing that killed his family was part of an official IDF policy to target civilian residences “in breach of international humanitarian law.”

Only the strong win,” the videos proclaim, echoing Netanyahu’s own militaristic rhetoric – though a fourth campaign spot features shots of Gantz looking thoughtful and platitudes about “striving and working toward” peace, seemingly beamed in from a parallel universe or someone else’s campaign.

Dozens of Palestinians Injured by Zionist Occupation Forces during 43rd Return Protests

January 18, 2019

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Thousands of Palestinians flocked after Friday prayers to Gaza border with the Zionist settlements, protesting against the blockade imposed by the enemy on the Strip and stressing their right to return to their occupied land.

It is worth noting that the Gazans have been holding the Return Protests for 43rd consecutive weeks amid the Israeli intensifying assaults.

Dozens of Palestinians were injured today by the Zionist occupation soldiers who deliberately fired live bullets at the upper parts of the protestors’ bodies.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Gaza Fuel Crisis Threatens Hundreds of Patients amid “Israeli” Blockade

Local Editor

Warnings over a possible health crisis in the Gaza Strip under the “Israeli” blockade escalated with the ongoing fuel shortage that lacks hundreds of patients’ treatment in hospitals, threatening their lives.

Al-Mezan, a Palestinian human rights group, stated that 128 dialysis machines are non-operational due to the ongoing fuel crisis. This situation led to 30 children, out of 800 kidney dialysis patients, being unable to receive treatment, it also noted.

The ongoing crisis will also lead to cancellation of more surgeries in the besieged Gaza Strip, the statement added, urging to stop the humanitarian crisis under the “Israeli” blockade.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s Health Ministry also warned that a continued shortage of fuel would have “catastrophic consequences” for hundreds of patients. Officials at the ministry in Gaza warned Wednesday that medical services at the Beit Hanoon Hospital in northern Gaza would soon stop completely due to the fuel shortage.

“This means that 450,000 people will be deprived of the services and medical care that the hospital provides,” said Abdulatif al Hajj, director of the hospitals in the Gaza Strip. He also said the hospital had already been forced to stop doing surgical operations.

Earlier this week, Ashraf al-Qedra, the Health Ministry spokesman, warned that generators would stop in the coming days, threatening the lives of 800 patients with renal failure who are dependent on dialysis machines.

Home to more than 2 million people, Gaza, which continues to suffer under an “Israeli” occupation’s siege, has struggled with severe electricity shortages since 2006.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

After Gaza slaughter, Obama officials met with Israeli generals to counter ‘poisonous’ Goldstone Report and get ‘israeli (apartheid state) story out’

After Gaza slaughter, Obama officials met with Israeli generals to counter ‘poisonous’ Goldstone Report and get ‘Israeli story out’

Michael Posner

During those three weeks of horrifying images, President-elect Obama had nothing critical to say and Israel did him a favor in return: it ended the bombing/invasion two days before he was inaugurated.

Then in September 2009 the UN Human Rights Council issued a bombshell of its own, the Goldstone Report, which documented war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during the campaign, chiefly the Israeli pattern of deliberately striking civilian targets, including schools, mosques, homes, and a flour mill and a chicken farm.

The Obama administration worked to stymie the report at international bodies, and in the end the report went nowhere (defused by its author, Judge Richard Goldstone, who under huge pressure from his own community retracted the allegation that civilians were intentionally targeted).

The greatest impact the Goldstone report had was its first impression, on international opinion. Now a State Department cable has been leaked in which US diplomatic officials are shown to have met with seven Israeli generals over two days in January 2010 to discuss ways to counter the “poisonous” Goldstone Report.

The cable shows how closely Obama officials were working with alleged war criminals to counter Israel’s bad press and help Israel “tell its story” and show the “lessons learned” from the massacre.

“It shows how vulnerable Israel can be to public opinion,” Norman Finkelstein, the author of Gaza: An Inquest into its Martyrdom, writes to me. “It’s not been noticed that Israel ceased using white phosphorus after Cast Lead because of the bad p.r… They do worry about public opinion. That’s why I’m skeptical when people say, ‘Israel can do whatever it wants.’ Not true.”

Finkelstein also notes the role of an Obama aide as a general-whisperer: Michael Posner, then assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor.

“[I]t’s telling that instead of advocating the indictment of Israel for its war crimes, as one might expect of the founder and president of Lawyers Committee for Human Rights [later Human Rights First], Posner counsels Israel how to evade prosecution.”

Indeed, throughout the cable, Israeli generals admit that mistakes were made and promise that there will be consequences. The American officials urge the Israelis to do independent investigations so as to salvage the country’s reputation. But there’s been nothing to show for that. Israel indicted three soldiers in connection with the massacre, and the longest sentence was for a soldier who stole a Palestinian’s credit card.

The Goldstone Report was in the news for two full years. And this meeting was as much of an accounting as the top Israeli brass ever got: discussions with a handful of American State Department officials who were concerned about the report’s conclusions, including Posner who had met with Goldstone. That was all. And they got off the hook!

Here are some excerpts from the cable, which was leaked by Wikileaks

It begins by saying that Posner and the US ambassador, James Cunningham, met with seven Israeli generals (Chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Yoav Galant, Amir Eschel, Avishai Mandelblit, Yossi Heymann, Ido Yuval, and Yuval Halamish, a former general now heading the “Goldstone committee” for the army) and the Israelis promised there was going to be accountability!

Posner’s interlocutors agreed that mistakes had been made at times by Israeli soldiers and reported that, although it was too early in the investigatory process to draw firm conclusions, that internal investigations would likely result in accountability for some soldiers involved — either criminal prosecutions or disciplinary action.

Posner was very sympathetic:

Posner stressed the purpose of his visit was to “listen and learn” from Israeli interlocutors, and to confer about how the Government of Israel could most effectively tell its “story” regarding Operation Cast Lead to the international community… [A]ddressing broader doctrinal issues and compilation of lessons learned could help change the debate internationally.

The Israeli generals insisted that they had not targeted civilians, but it was asymmetric warfare in which terrorists worked in civilian settings. One general gave Posner a lesson in terrorism.

Eshel noted that the IDF was “chasing the worst terrorists on the face of the earth,” but in many cases could not act against them due to the presence of civilians.

One of the headings in the cable is, “Getting the Israeli Story Out.”

James Cunningham, former ambassador

to Israel. Now at the Atlantic Council.

A/S [Assistant Secretary] Posner asked how the GOI planned to convey the investigation results to a larger audience…. [W]hile the Goldstone Report was a fundamentally flawed report, it had a certain credibility internationally. He asked … about a broader review by a prominent Israeli group apart from the IDF to validate its investigations. Ambassador Cunningham said the objective was not to appease the international community, but to dilute the poisonous effects of the Goldstone Report. He noted a great deal of skepticism among many in the international community regarding the Goldstone Report, but with no credible alternative narrative, the Goldstone allegations would be the focus of deliberations. The Ambassador stressed the importance of getting the word out employing a variety of means — perhaps YouTube or other outlets afforded the opportunity to help re-tell the story.

But the world wasn’t really listening.

Ashkenazi said the GOI [Gov’t of Israel] was “under attack” by international media.

The officials discussed several atrocities, including the targeting of a house where a large number of members of the al-Samouni family had taken refuge. Twenty-one were killed. Mandelblit was the chief investigator for the Israeli army as head of the Military Advocate General (MAG) Corps.

Mandelblit said the case will be referred to LTG Ashkenazi following the investigation’s completion, that the IDF would study this case carefully from an operational standpoint for
“lessons learned” and that he had reached no conclusions as yet about individual accountability.

That investigation two years later concluded that the attack was an innocent mistake. B’Tselem, the human rights group, condemned the finding, saying it was never a “serious” investigation and it had been undertaken too late. “The investigations were all opened at a very late stage – the first, to B’Tselem knowledge, in October 2009, a full ten months after the operation had ended.” I.e., after the Goldstone Report came out and embarrassed Israel.

Israel Air Force Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan went further than the other generals in his meeting with Posner, saying that the air force took precautions not to hurt civilians that the army did not.

Nehushtan admitted, however, that IDF artillery and tank units did not follow the same procedures and caused most of the Palestinian civilian casualties in Cast Lead…

The Israeli generals also emphasized what was widely reported at the time: that the Israeli public was all for the Gaza massacre. Notice the generals don’t say what the news reports do say (here in 2012,  and in 2014) that it’s Israeli Jews who are so overwhelmingly in support.

MG Eshel also was skeptical that the Israeli public would understand the purpose behind an outside review process. He noted that there was broad public acceptance in convening committees following controversial military operations such as the Yom Kippur War or the Second Lebanon War. But Operation Cast Lead enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Israeli public — “no one will understand” why an independent committee would be convened following Cast Lead, he said.

Here is the pressure that the U.S. applied:

A/S Posner accepted the argument that a military should be responsible for its own investigations and discipline. He reiterated, however, the utility of telling Israel’s story from an outside point of view — independent voices to deliver the message in a way that is credible….

A/S Posner asked how the IDF would capture “lessons learned,” in response to which most of his IDF interlocutors listed a number of operational decisions they would make differently in the next conflict…

The Israelis do say that bad press about an illegal weapon, white phosphorus, burning civilians had hit home. Bad press caused “Strategic damage.”

General Galant volunteered that use of white phosphorus was no longer politically tenable in Gaza for any purpose, even though it remained a legal munition, because of the strategic
damage to Israel that would result from news footage showing civilian casualties or damage to civilian structures.

(Galant is now a Netanyahu cabinet minister averring that it’s all Jewish land from the river to the sea…)

Again, Norman Finkelstein states that the white phosphorus concession is an important point.

The white phosphorus point has been completely ignored. All the recovered white phosphorus shells from Cast Lead came from the US…. I am quite sure that after Cast Lead the US told Israel to cut the white phosphorus… and of course they did. It is my opinion that the various human rights reports (e.g., HRW’s Rain of Fire) caused people like Posner to intervene and Israel obediently suspended use of it, permanently.

Finkelstein goes on:

Michael Posner was the US Ass’t Secretary for Democracy in the Obama administration. He founded and was the first President of Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (Except in Palestine). In other words, your run-of-the-mill hack… He denounced the Goldstone report (“deeply flawed” see p. 98 of my Gaza book). The claim that the Israeli air force showed restraint during Cast Lead is laughable, as I’m sure you know.

In general it’s telling that instead of advocating the indictment of Israel for its war crimes, as one might expect of the founder and president of Lawyers for Human Rights, Posner counsels Israel how to evade prosecution. He performs the same function vis-a-vis Israel as Alan Dershowitz, another famed human rights advocate, performs vis-a-vis Jeffrey Epstein…

They do worry about public opinion…. The trick is, to pinpoint [Israel’s] vulnerabilities; the chinks in its armor. My guess is, right now Israel doesn’t want an ICC indictment. Like the Goldstone report, such an indictment would hamper its ability to unleash another massacre. That’s why it’s so important to lift the curtain shrouding the civil war that has engulfed the ICC over indicting Israel. It’s really quite unprecedented. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda keeps declaring the first of two cases (on the Mavi Mari) a done deal, but other bodies in the ICC keep saying, “Oh no it’s not.”

Let me emphasize that there was no accountability: the Israelis did nothing under Posner’s gentle suasion. B’Tselem reported five years on that “Israeli authorities have proven they cannot investigate suspected violations of international humanitarian law by Israel in the Gaza Strip” and said there had been three indictments in all for Cast Lead.

[A]fter massive harm to the civilian population, more than 300 minors killed, tens of thousands of people left homeless – and grave suspicions that these actions were the result of unlawful orders approved by the MAG [Mandelblit’s Military Advocate General] Corps and the attorney general – the military conducted hundreds of operational inquiries and launched dozens of MPIU [Military Police Investigation Unit] investigations, but the harshest sentence given was for credit card theft.

So in 2014 Israel undertook Operation Protective Edge, and killed 2200 in Gaza over 51 days — 500 of them children.

Posner is now a professor of ethics and finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Cunningham is now a fellow at the Atlantic Council with an expertise in Israel, democracy development, and terrorism. They are hardly alone as Obama officials who pooh-poohed the Goldstone Report. Hillary Clinton did so as secretary of state, Samantha Power as ambassador to the United Nations, and Suzanne Nossel, a State Department human rights official. In fairness, this is a story about the power of the Israel lobby; and Power had to get the absurd rabbi Shmuley Boteach as her sherpa to the lobby in order to gain her U.N. job; and Nossel is now the head of PEN America and has lately taken a worthy action re Israeli human rights abuses

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