Gazans stage general strike amid Land Day protests

March 30, 2019

Protesters gather to attend "Great March of Return" and "Palestinian Land Day" demonstrations at Israel-Gaza border located in eastern Khan Yunis, Gaza on March 30, 2019 [Ashraf Amra / Anadolu Agency]

Protesters gather to attend “Great March of Return” and “Palestinian Land Day” demonstrations at Israel-Gaza border located in eastern Khan Yunis, Gaza on March 30, 2019 [Ashraf Amra / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinians staged a general strike in the Gaza Strip on Saturday amid planned mass protests marking the Land Day and the first anniversary of rallies against the decades-long Israeli occupation.

Schools, shops and public institutions closed their doors across the blockaded territory, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent in Gaza.

The general strike comes as thousands of Palestinians began to converge on the Gaza-Israel buffer zone on Saturday to take part in the Land Day rallies, which mark the killing of six people by Israeli forces in 1976 during demonstrations against the seizure of Arab land in Galilee.

 In Pictures: Land Day in Gaza

On Friday, Palestinian resistance groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad warned Israel against attacking protesters during the planned demonstrations.

In the run-up to Saturday’s rallies, the Israeli army has deployed numerous tanks and armored vehicles along the buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly instructed the army to prepare for the possibility of a “broad” campaign in Gaza.

Nearly 270 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by Israeli army gunfire since Palestinians began holding regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone in March of last year.

Read: Remembering the Great March of Return

Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Read: Palestinian youth killed in Israel Gaza bombing

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Egypt brokering marathon talks for Hamas, Israel deal

Egypt is trying to secure deal before anniversary of Great March of Return
Egypt brokering deal between Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel ahead of mass Great March of Return rally (AFP)

“Marathon talks” held by Egypt with Palestinian factions in Gaza are set to continue on Friday to broker a deal with Israel that could ease demonstrations on Gaza’s eastern boundary that are about to mark their first anniversary.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh confirmed the talks and some of the group’s demands for an easing of the more than decade-long siege of Gaza in a statement on Friday, saying they have reached a “crossroads”, in a week when his own offices were destroyed by Israel during an escalation in Gaza that was feared could become another war.

The anniversary of the Great March of Return protests is expected to be marked with another mass showing on Saturday, instead of the usual Friday, to coincide with Land Day, which last year saw 19 killed as they launched the protest movement by demanding the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes.

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Haniyeh said the nature of Saturday’s demonstration would depend on how Israel responds to its demands.

“The Israeli occupation will endure severe consequences in the case that it does not reply positively to the understandings,” Haniyeh’s statement said.

An Egyptian team of intelligence and military officials arrived in Gaza on Wednesday night and immediately started meetings at the office of Yaha Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, which were later joined by leaders of the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) factions and ran until early in the morning.

All sides had been keeping a tight lid on the details of the negotiations but Haniyeh’s office said in a statement on Friday that they wanted to “ensure the end of the suffering of our people” by easing the blockade of Gaza, including by ending an electricity crisis that limits the enclave to only a few hours of power a day and creating fishing and employment projects in Gaza.

The Egyptian delegation consists of the chief of the Palestinian file in the Egyptian Intelligence Agency, Major General Ahmad Abdel-Khaliq, Undersecretary of the Egyptian Intelligence Agency General Ahmad Farouq, and Brigadier General Mohammed Tawsin.

Leaked terms

An informed Hamas source told MEE the organisation does not want to speak about the details of a potential deal, because it is not sure how Israel would respond, but outlined some of the main requests made by Hamas.

He confirmed their main terms were an increase in the number of truckloads carrying commodities to Gaza, allowing medical supplies to hospitals, easing restrictions on imports and exports, the entry of some materials currently banned by Israel on the grounds they could be used for weapon-making, an increased fishing zone and the expansion of a UN job creation programme to cover 40,000 workers.

He also confirmed that the Egyptian mediators have told them that Israel’s demand included ending night demonstrations along the eastern boundary between Gaza and Israel, keeping the Friday protests of the Great March of Return peaceful and stopping weekly sea protests near the Israeli Kibbutz Zikim.

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Hamas had scaled back the protests during earlier talks that eventually broke down because of opposition from the West Bank-based rival Palestinian Authority, but since February “Night Disturbance Units” have resumed protests that have frustrated Israel.

Hamas’s initial demands had included an eventual agreement for a port or airport that would connect blockaded Gaza to the outside world, a step which had been hoped could be implemented in the future.

However, a Hamas source told MEE that, during a recent meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, the Egyptian delegation had refused to pass on to the Israelis Palestinian demands regarding a port or airport or a prisoner exchange deal – arguing that the priority was on immediate steps that could ease the siege and avoid an explosion in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif al-Qanou told MEE there would be “tangible” results from the ongoing Egyptian mediation.

Palestinian pledge

There appears to be some internal Palestinian agreement on the terms ahead of the 52nd week of Great March of Return protests, with organisers mobilising but appealing to participants to show a high degree of restraint.

In a press conference held on Thursday by National Committee member Khalid al-Batch, part of Islamic Jihad’s political wing, he reiterated the importance of participation in the protests but also echoed a call made by Hamas to ensure the protests were peaceful in order to limit casualties but also implying that the nature of the protests could affect the talks with Israel.

The Gaza Ministry of Health has reported that Israeli forces have killed at least 256 Palestinians and wounded more than 29,000 since the beginning of the protests.

“We want to cut short the way ahead of the Israeli occupation, which always blames the Palestinian resistance groups for the failure of reaching a truce and easing the more than decade-old siege imposed on Gaza,” Batch said in the press conference.

A senior source in a political faction participating in the march committee told MEE that protests would be gradually scaled down and eventually ended should a truce agreement be reached to improve the lives of people in Gaza.

A member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) political bureau, Talal Abu Zarifa, told MEE that the active efforts of the Egyptian delegation to obtain a truce come from Cairo’s recognition of the risk that the situation in Gaza could devolve into all-out conflict.

“All options are open for the resistance” should Israel remain uncompromising in Gaza, Abu Zarifa said.

Pointing to the agreement previously brokered by Egypt in November, following an ill-fated Israeli military raid in Gaza that led to a brief but heated escalation of violence, Abu Zarifa blamed Israeli “intransigence and the evasion of obligations” for the breakdown of the tentative truce.

Israeli agreement

Members of the Egyptian intelligence delegation left Gaza early Thursday to meet Israeli officials and discuss the latest updates about their talks with the Palestinian factions. They returned to Gaza in the evening and Haniyeh’s office said on Friday that talks would continue.

“Hamas is ready for all scenarios. The movement will not hesitate to take any action that serves the interests of the Palestinian people and ensures that the Palestinian sacrifices at the Great Return March have not been made in vain,” Haniyeh said.

Israeli news website Ynet News said on Thursday night that “efforts to restore the calm between Israel and Hamas after several days of fighting appeared to be taking effect.”

The news website referred to remarks made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reportedly said Israel would not opt to carry out a military offensive on Gaza.

Already embroiled in a number of corruption scandals, Netanyahu has been embarrassed by night-time demonstrations in Gaza and protesters’ use of incendiary kites and balloons, which burnt down acres of land in southern Israel last summer.

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Yet despite Netanyahu’s inflammatory rhetoric seeking to highlight his iron-fisted approach against Hamas, Palestinian columnist on Israeli affairs Saleh al-Naami said a military escalation in Gaza would not serve the Israeli leader’s electoral objectives.

Netanyahu, Naami said, has shown extreme caution in Gaza, despite criticism at home for failing to stamp out the Great March of Return.

“Netanyahu understands that Gaza and Hamas have nothing to lose,” Naami said, adding that Hamas and other political and armed factions in Gaza were ready to go all the way in the event of a military escalation, regardless of the Israeli election.

“The resistance in Gaza does not accept to be used as a pawn by candidates in the Israeli elections,” Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Buraim said to MEE. “We will accept no less than easing the siege on the political and humanitarian levels.”

‘Skillful negotiators’

The talks appeared to be in peril earlier this week when a rocket from Gaza hit a home in Tel Aviv. Hamas said the rocket had been fired mistakenly but the result was a series of air strikes by Israel on Gaza as well as a number of rockets being launched by Hamas into neighbouring Israeli areas.

Dr Adnan Abu Amer, professor of political studies at Al-Umma University in Gaza, suggested however that the escalation was part of the negotiations.

“This is one of the tactics used by skilful negotiators,” he told MEE. “Hamas could persuade the Egyptian mediators and Israel that the rockets were launched mistakenly both times but I do not believe so.”

He suggested Hamas had calculated that Israel would try to avoid any escalation in the run-up to parliamentary elections in early April.

“The Palestinian negotiators knew that the Israeli side is approaching two deadlines: Saturday’s one-million-man demonstration and the elections. So they wanted to put heavy pressure on them.”

West Bank next on US recognition list, Nasrallah warns

March 26, 2019

Frame grab shows Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivering a speech on March 26, 2019.

Press TV reports:

Hezbollah warns that the United States could next choose to recognize Israel’s “sovereignty” over the Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank unless the Arab world springs to action.

The Lebanese resistance movement’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah issued the caution during a speech on Tuesday.

“When the entire world allows [US President Donald] Trump to declare [Jerusalem] al-Quds as Israel’s eternal capital, and especially the Arab world remains silent, this opens the way for all US violations,” he said.

“When institutions and International laws fail to serve the American agenda and their interest, they just simply disregard it in all disrespect, and what is called ‘the international community’ is not able to protect any right of the people whatsoever, including land ownership and sovereignty, taking back conquered land like what happened in Golan or what happened before that in (Jerusalem) al-Quds,” Nasrallah said.

Trump recognized the holy city, which the Israeli regime occupied as part of the Palestinian territory of the West Bank during a war in 1967, as Israel’s “capital” in late 2017. On Monday, the US president took his second most controversial pro-Israeli action during his tenure by recognizing the regime’s “sovereignty” over Syria’s Golan Heights. Tel Aviv occupied the latter territory during the same war.

“We must expect Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank,” Nasrallah added.

He said such a potential move “is part of the deal of the century,” referring to an under-wraps Washington proposal for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which reportedly includes outrageous violations against Palestinians’ historical demands.

“They can say the Palestinian people can go and live in Gaza,” the Hezbollah chief said, envisioning expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank as part of the US plan.

He urged the Arab world to resort to what “conscience” it had left by preventing these prospects.

The Arab League, Nasrallah proposed, should use its upcoming summit in Tunisia to withdraw the so-called Arab peace initiative, proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002, and instead press for more negotiation.

The initiative offers normalization of ties between Israel and 22 Arab countries in return for Tel Aviv’s withdrawal from the West Bank.

US after ‘civil war’ in Lebanon

Separately, Nasrallah pointed to remarks made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a recent visit to Lebanon. Attending the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, the top diplomat urged that the Lebanese “face” Hezbollah and branded the group as an obstacle to realization of the Lebanese people’s dreams.

Nasrallah said his movement was in the service of Lebanon’s protection as has been the case during Israel’s several invasions of the country. Hezbollah rather upheld the Lebanese people’s dreams of retrieving the part of their land, which has been occupied by Tel Aviv, and eradication of corruption.

“Is Hezbollah standing in the face of these dreams? Or is Hezbollah part of the apparatus, which people pin their hopes on,” he asked.

The Hezbollah chief also referenced the US’s history of sowing instability, destruction, and bloodshed across the world through military invasion. By singling out the resistance group as the source of the country’s problems, the US is rather trying to pit the Lebanese people against each other and trigger a “civil war,” Nasrallah noted.

“He (Pompeo) is trying to incite us and wants the Lebanese people to shed each other’s blood. Pompeo is frustrated with the stability and peaceful coexistence in Lebanon,” he said.

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Tel Aviv In The Crosshairs Of Resistance Rockets For The Second Time

Charles Abi Nader

A medium-range missile launched from the besieged Gaza Strip in occupied Palestine landed on a colony on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. The settlers were unable to evade the rocket because the sirens were not triggered properly for them to take the necessary precautions and head to the nearest shelter. Six of them were wounded moderately.

The targeting of Tel Aviv on Monday carries a lot of dimensions that differ from previous attacks on the enemy, especially the last one. On March 15, Tel Aviv was struck with two missiles. Those behind the rocket attacks were unknown. As far as the dimensions of the latest attack are concerned, they can be identified as follows:

The technical dimension

The enemy’s Iron Dome System did not intercept the missile. It was supposed to be operational round-the-clock to “protect” the airspace of the occupied territories. The launch distance from the nearest possible point in Gaza to the targeted Sharon area north of Tel Aviv is approximately 90 km. The distance is sufficient to provide enough time for an intervention of the enemy’s air defense system. It’s failure to do so seems strange, especially in light of the existing tensions in the occupied territories and the high state of alert between the resistance and the enemy.

Of course, the non-interference by the air defense system meant to protect Tel Aviv and its surroundings means that it failed. It is not a matter of negligence or disregard of the resistance’s missiles since the enemy knows the latter’s capabilities. This matter carries a sensitive and accurate message regarding some of the precision and qualitative missiles the resistance in Gaza possesses.

The military and field dimension

It appears that Tel Aviv and the areas surrounding it have become the “target spot” for the resistance and its missiles.

In addition to the two missiles fired at Tel Aviv in mid-March, the last missile also landed in the Sharon area northeast of Tel Aviv with relative ease.

The issue is no longer confined to the Gaza enclave and its surroundings. This carries signs of a higher threat level posed by the resistance to the vital areas – Tel Aviv and its surroundings – which contain strategic enemy sites, airports as well as the entity’s military and political leadership centers.

The strategic dimension

In practice, the nature of the attack on Tel Aviv with a precision missile for a second time cannot be isolated from the region’s more general political and strategic realities. On the one hand, there is the recent decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize “Israel’s” sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, and on the other, the broader US pressure on the axis of resistance.

First, in light of the technical and the military dimensions involving the use of qualitative rockets against Tel Aviv, this attack has become a threat to the entity’s vital points during any confrontation and in light of a broad regional strategic engagement, along with increasing internal pressure on Netanyahu, both by the judiciary and the electorate.

Second, in light of what occupied Palestine is currently witnessing, including the enemy summoning most of the air defense crew (the Iron Dome), the reinforcement of the border with the Gaza Strip with two additional infantry and armored vehicle brigades, the closure of most of the crossings with the Gaza Strip, it is very likely that the enemy will launch a military adventure in Gaza. This assumption is reinforced by Netanyahu’s decision to cut his visit to Washington short and return home quickly to follow up on the repercussions and measures.

Will the enemy launch a “limited operation” aimed at eliminating the “threat” posed by qualitative missiles, or will it develop into a broad confrontation, the results and repercussions of which would not be calculated?

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Israeli Media: No Attempt to Intercept Tel Aviv Rocket, Gaza Strikes Selective

Tel Aviv rocket

March 26, 2019

Tackling the tensions between Palestinian resistance and Israeli occupation, an Israeli analyst sees that Tel Aviv did not make an attempt to intercept Palestinian rocket launched at Tel Aviv on Monday.

In an article entitled “Israel Launches Gaza Campaign That May Last Several Days,” Amos Harel said: “Like last time, there was no attempt to intercept the rocket,” referring to an incident ten days ago, when a rocket was also fired at Tel Aviv from Gaza.

“The army does not reveal information about the deployment of the Iron Dome, but the two incidents could point to two problems. One is a gap in intelligence and analysis of the Palestinian organizations’ intentions. The other is a gap in Iron Dome deployment, whether due to operational mistakes or a shortage of batteries,” Harel, who is a media expert on military and defense issues wrote.

He noted that the first wave of Israeli air strikes which started Monday focused on Hamas military targets and a few government ministries.

“It was clear that the attacks, which continued into the night, were very selective. In a few cases the “knock on the roof” procedure was used to warn those inside the buildings to evacuate before they were bombed. What happens next is very much dependent on how Hamas reacts and the success of Egypt’s mediation efforts, which had already begun Monday.”

Discussing hypotheses about the rocket fire on Monday morning, the Israeli expert said “it could have been Hamas’ way of disrupting Netanyahu’s visit to Washington. Or it might have been a reaction to an incident at Ketziot Prison, where 12 Hamas prisoners were wounded after two prison guards were stabbed.”

Meanwhile, he didn’t rule out that the rocket fire could be related to the demonstrations against Hamas over economic situation in Gaza.

However, he said that the rocket launch cannot be dissociated from the yearlong demonstrations along the Gaza border and developments on other fronts, from Israeli prisons to the latest attacks in West Bank.

“In the background, Hamas is continuing its preparations for this coming Friday, on which the anniversary of the March of Return demonstrations along the Gaza border fence is being marked,” Harel noted.

“The military escalation will continue to haunt the election campaign. If it intensifies, the political discourse will focus on it, at the expense of the latest scandals, from (Benny) Gantz’s hacked phone to the conduct of (Benjamin) Netanyahu and his associates in the submarines affair,” the Israeli expert concluded.

SourceHaaretz

Netanyahu, Trump, and the inevitable failure: A strength that changed the face of the history نتنياهو وترامب والفشل المحتوم: قوة فعلت فغيّرت وجه التاريخ

Netanyahu, Trump, and the inevitable failure: A strength that changed the face of the history

مارس 20, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The current American and Israeli situation may summarize the new balances experienced by the world in the light of the consequences of eight-year war on Syria. Within a month from the beginning of the American war on Venezuela, the leader of the opposition appointed by Washington as a president and its allies have chosen him as a legitimate president has fled from justice moving among the capitals involved in the coup. Moscow and Beijing vetoed for the first time against the American attempts to legitimatize the coup. Before a month of the American elections imposed by the balances of powers after a war of test on Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu faces judicial charges of corruption after he returned from a failed visit to Moscow where he did not get a green light to continue the raids on Syria.

Those who are obsessed by the American power can talk whatever they want about the American-Israeli retreat as a smart plan, or by retreating one step to go forward two steps or by the policy of fortifying. But the fact is the same in all the battlefields. The negotiations run by the American President Donald Trump with the leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un and which were described by him as the victory of the century, and which he explained in details and  their results in advance, and considered as the most important achievements in his first term are collapsing all at once, and what has been predicted by Trump about tempting Korea with financial incentives has been failed due to the presence of the professional Korean  negotiator who presented tempting suggestions, but when the matters reached seriously he showed his commitment to his principles “ the coincidence between lifting the sanctions and dismantling the nuclear issue” so Trump returned disappointed.

The magical solutions of Trump for the Palestinians regarding the Palestinian cause are the same magical solutions for the Koreans; Your national dignity versus financial incentives, he will not gain but the same result, even if the Arab rulers gathered, along with  the funds of Gulf, the effect of Egypt and Jordan and the Israeli brutality, the Palestinians decided that they will not sign the contract of humiliation even if they are not able to end the occupation now, since the coming generations will be able to end it soon. Trump betted on a quick fall of Iran under the pressure of sanctions and siege, but Iran became stronger and now it is preparing for future rounds along with the increasing power, presence, and spread of the resistance axis, the apparent victory of Syria, the rootedness in the equations of Iraq and Yemen, and a legendary steadfastness in Palestine. Russia which America betted on its adapting by temptations, sanctions, and threats is continuing its progress steadily as a keeper of the international law and the concept of the independent country and the national sovereignty of the countries depending on its achievement in Syria to support the steadfastness of Venezuela, the stability of Korea, and more coherence with Iran.

Washington’s allies which were a strong alliance a decade ago, now they become weak, Warsaw’s conference in comparison with the Syrian Friends’ Conference is enough to describe the scene. The contradictions are spreading over the allies’ campaign. Europe and Turkey have their own options, while Washington is followed only by those who are defeated and who need the support. Neither the maneuvers in postponing the withdrawal from Syria nor the talk about the remaining in Iraq can change the equations and the balances, because the equations will impose themselves on America and will oblige it to withdraw.

The essential thing unrecognized by America and Israel is that the spirit of the resistance which won in 2000 in the south of Lebanon as an outcome of the Syrian-Iranian convergence depending on the concept of the national sovereignty and the right of resisting the occupation has become a global spirit that moves victorious from one front to another, Therefore, it is prosecuted from  Lebanon, to Yemen, to Iraq,  to Venezuela under the name of  cells of Hezbollah, repeating the scene of the squares of Nabatieh when the demonstrators were shouting for Ashura “Haidar Haidar” recalling the Imam Ali while they were confronting the occupation’s artilleries,  then the Israeli commander asked his soldiers to bring Haidar the organizer of the demonstrations. Just as Haidar of Nabatieh was an intangible spirit, Hezbollah in Venezuela and Korea was like that, it reflects the spirit, the resistance, and the will of peoples which cannot be suppressed.

This is illustrated by Al Sayyed Hassan Nasrollah in his equation “the time of defeats is over, now it is the time of victories” and this has been described by the late leader Hugo Chavez “Poor and naïve can draw their own fate by themselves” commenting on the winning of the resistance in the war of July 2006, and this has been told by the founder of The Syrian Social Nationalist Party Antoine Saadeh “ There is a strength in you, if you use it you can change the face of history” .

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

نتنياهو وترامب والفشل المحتوم: قوة فعلت فغيّرت وجه التاريخ

مارس 1, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– قد تشكّل الصورة التي تظهر فيها الحالة الأميركية والحالة الإسرائيلية في يوم واحد، تلخيصاً للتوازنات الجديدة التي يعيشها العالم في ضوء نتائج حرب الثماني سنوات على سورية، فخلال شهر من بدء الحرب الأميركية على فنزويلا، يصبح زعيم المعارضة الذي نصبته واشنطن رئيساً وبايعه حلفاؤها رئيساً شرعياً، فاراً من وجه العدالة يتنقل بين عواصم الدول المتورّطة في الانقلاب، بينما تسجّل موسكو وبكين أول فيتو بوجه المحاولات الأميركية لشرعنة الانقلاب، وقبيل شهر من الانتخابات المفبركة التي فرضتها موازين القوى بعد حرب اختبارية مع غزة، يواجه بنيامين نتنياهو اتهامات قضائية بالفساد، وهو عائد من زيارة فاشلة إلى موسكو لم يحصل فيها على ما أسمته أوساط حكومته، بالضوء الأخضر الروسي لمواصلة الغارات على سورية.

– يستطيع المأخوذون بانبهار بالقوة الأميركية أن يفلسفوا كما يشاؤون توصيف التقهقر الأميركي الإسرائيلي بالخطة الذكية، أو بالتراجع خطوة للتقدّم خطوتين، أو بالتمسكن للتمكّن، لكن الحقيقة نفسها تفرض ذاتها في كل ساحات المواجهة. فالمفاوضات التي أدارها الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب مع زعيم كوريا الشمالية، كيم جونغ أون، ووصفها بانتصار القرن، وأسهب في شرح ميزاتها ونتائجها مسبقاً ورفع سقوف التوقعات فيها إلى حد اعتبارها أهم الإنجازات التي ستتحقق في ولايته الأولى، تنهار دفعة واحدة، وما توقعه ترامب من سهولة ابتلاع اللقمة الكورية السائغة بمحفزات مالية مغرية، انقلب إلى شوك يصعب ابتلاعه بظهور المفاوض الكوري المحترف، الذي قدّم الإيحاءات المغرية، وعندما وصلت الأمور للحدّ الفاصل أشهر ثوابته، التوازي والتزامن بين فك العقوبات وتفكيك الملف النووي، فعاد ترامب يجرّ أذيال الخيبة.

– ما يبشّر به ترامب من حلول سحرية للقضية الفلسطينية يقوم جوهرها على عرض مشابه للفلسطينيين عن العرض الأميركي للكوريين، كرامتكم الوطنية مقابل حوافز مالية، فلن يلقى سوى النتيجة ذاتها، ولو احتشد كل حكام العرب، ومعهم مال الخليج، وتأثير مصر والأردن، وبالمقابل الوحشية الإسرائيلية، فقد قرر الفلسطينيون أنهم قادرون على عدم توقيع صك الذل، وإن كانوا غير قادرين على إنهاء الاحتلال اليوم، فإن الأجيال القادمة ستتكفّل بذلك، وما راهن عليه ترامب من سقوط سريع لإيران تحت ضغط العقوبات والحصار، يتبدّد وإيران تزداد قوة وتستعدّ لجولات مقبلة، ومعها محور المقاومة الذي ازداد قوة وحضوراً وانتشاراً، وأمامه نصر بائن في سورية وتجذّر في معادلات العراق واليمن، وصمود أسطوري في فلسطين، وروسيا التي راهن الأميركي على تطويعها بالإغراءات والعقوبات والتهديدات تواصل تقدّمها بثبات كحارس للقانون الدولي ومفهوم الدولة المستقلة والسيادة الوطنية للدول، مستقوية بقوة الإنجاز في سورية لتتجه نحو دعم صمود فنزويلا، وثبات كوريا، والمزيد من التماسك مع إيران.

– حلفاء واشنطن الذين كانوا حلفاً صلباً يتقدّم قبل عقد من الزمن، يتقلص ويبهت ويذبل، ومشهد مؤتمر وارسو مقارنة بمؤتمر أصدقاء سورية يكفي لرسم الصورة، والتناقضات تفتك بمعسكر الحلفاء، فترسم أوروبا وتركيا خياراتهما الخاصة، ولا يصطفّ وراء واشنطن إلا الصغار الذين لا يقدمون ولا يؤخرون، أو المهزومون الذين يحتاجون مَن ينصرهم، ولا تنفع مناورات تأجيل الانسحاب من سورية والحديث عن البقاء في العراق في تغيير المعادلات والتوازنات، فاليوم أو بعد حين ستفرض هذه المعادلات نفسها على الأميركي وتجبره على الانسحاب، وما لم تفعله الآلاف لن تنجح بفعله المئات.

– الشيء الجوهري الذي لم يستطع الأميركي والإسرائيلي ومَن معهما إدراكه، هو أن روح المقاومة التي انتصرت عام 2000 في جنوب لبنان، كثمرة للتلاقي السوري الإيراني بالاستثمار على مفهوم السيادة الوطنية للدول وحق مقاومة الاحتلال للشعوب، صارت منذ ذلك التاريخ روحاً عالمية تنتقل من جبهة إلى جبهة وتنتصر، فيلاحقونها تحت شعار خلايا حزب الله، من لبنان إلى اليمن إلى العراق إلى فنزويلا، معيدين الصورة التي رسمت في ساحات النبطية عندما كان المتظاهرون يهتفون في عاشوراء «حيدر حيدر» مستذكرين الإمام علي وهم يهاجمون آليات جيش الاحتلال، فيكون ردّ قائد القوة الإسرائيلية بأن يطلب من جنوده أن يجلبوا إليه حيدر هذا، باعتباره منظم التظاهرات، ومثلما كان حيدر النبطية روحاً لا يُمسَك بها، حزب الله في فنزويلا وكوريا، ليس وجوداً لخلايا، بل هو الروح المقاومة والإرادة الحية للشعوب، التي خرجت من القمقم ولا تستطيع قوة في العالم إعادتها إليه.

– هو هذا الذي سمّاه السيد حسن نصرالله، في معادلة «ولى زمن الهزائم وجاء زمن الانتصارات، «ووصفه الزعيم الراحل هوغو شافيز، بـ«أن بمستطاع الفقراء والبسطاء أن يكتبوا مصيرهم بأيديهم»، معلقاً على انتصار المقاومة في حرب تموز 2006، وهو ما قاله ذات يوم مؤسس الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي أنطون سعاده، الذي يحتفل القوميون اليوم بعيد ميلاده، «إن فيكم قوة لو فعلت لغيّرت وجه التاريخ»، وها هو التاريخ يتغيّر أيّها العظيم من أمتي.

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The shame of it! UK’s failure to back UN investigation into israel’s (apartheid state) shoot-to-kill-or-cripple policy in Gaza

The shame of it! UK’s failure to back UN investigation into Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-cripple policy in Gaza

Israeli use of butterfly bullets on Gaza civilians

By Stuart Littlewood

The UK failed to back a UN investigation into Israel’s shoot-to-kill-or-cripple policy against Gaza’s caged civilians. Will the Foreign Office also fail to adopt its findings?

Open letter to Alister Jack, MP for Dumfries and Galloway

cc: Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Dear Alister,

Here’s something to take your mind off Brexit.

You’ll have heard of Dr Swee Ang. She is the first female Orthopaedic Consultant appointed to St Bartholomew (‘Barts’) and the Royal London Hospitals.

In the 1980s and 1990s Dr Swee worked as trauma and orthopaedics consultant in the refugee camps of Lebanon and later for the United Nations in Gaza, and the World Health Organisation in the West Bank and Gaza. She is Founder and Patron of the British charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

She also treated the victims of the Pakistan (Kashmir) earthquake, and as consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon operated on and looked after the victims of the 7 July 2005 suicide bombing at the Royal London Hospital.

Dr Swee is co-author of War Surgery and Acute Care of the War Wounded; she also wrote From Beirut to Jerusalem documenting her experience in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Gaza.

Last summer she was aboard the ship Al-Awdasailing to Gaza with urgently needed medical supplies when the vessel was violently assaulted and hijacked in international waters by our so-called friend and ally which, we’re repeatedly told, shares our values and whose enemies are our enemies. The Al-Awdawas dragged to an Israeli port and her passengers and crew were roughed up (some seriously injured) and abused, thrown in an Israeli jail and had their possessions and money stolen. The precious cargo, as far as we can ascertain, never reached the desperate wounded.

Dr Swee has just emailed:

The UN Commission for Human Rights will be concluding its investigation on the shooting of thousands of Palestinian civilians demonstrating within the borders of Gaza. At least 189 were killed (more now) and thousands shot with live ammunitions – with loss of limbs and still needing multiple surgeries if they were to keep their legs and arms. It is estimated that with conventional limb salvaging surgeries at least £39 million has to be found to prevent further amputations (figures put out by MAP).

Last year the UK abstained from supporting the UN conducting such an investigation. However, it went ahead and I was fortunate enough to attend the meeting at Amnesty International two days ago to hear the personal testimonies of Dr Tarek Loubani who was shot on 14 May 2018, and Dr Mahmoud Matar the head of the Limb Reconstruction Service in Gaza. They will be testifying to the UN Commissioner coming Monday in Geneva. There is an urgent request for us to write to Jeremy Hunt [UK foreign secretary] with copy to our local MP asking the UK government to adopt the findings and recommendations of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. In fact the concern is that UK might vote against it since last year we abstained.

Please do so urgently. This is something we all can do. Email for Jeremy Hunt is:

jeremy.hunt@fco.gov.uk

Even if you are not a UK national but are Palestinians you have the right to email him on behalf of your people. Please also ask your friends to support the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.

Thank you all and God bless, Swee.

Wounds “the size of a fist” causing lifelong disability

According to Medecins Sans Frontieres(MSF), which operates in Gaza, the Israelis have been using “dum-dum”- type rounds that cause wounds of “unusual severity”. This sort of ammunition is understood to be outlawed in warfare. Last year MSF surgeons in Gaza reported “devastating gunshot wounds” among hundreds of people injured during the protests, the huge majority – mainly young men, but also some women and children – having unusually severe wounds to the lower extremities.

MSF medical teams note the injuries include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist. “Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone,” said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, Head of Mission of MSF in Palestine. “These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.”

She hadn’t seen these kind of injuries before. The wounds appeared to be caused by ammunition with an expanding “butterfly” effect. “Mass lifelong disability is now the prospect for young Gazans who merely gathered in unarmed protest”

Writing in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) the head of plastic and reconstructive surgery in Gaza, Dr Nafiz Abu-Shaban, said that the hundreds of high energy compound tibial fractures from Israeli live fire are the most difficult of all open fractures to treat. They may require between five and seven surgical procedures, each operation taking three to six hours. “Even with state-of-the-art reconstruction, healing takes one to two years. Most of these patients will develop osteomyelitis. A steadily increasing toll of secondary amputations is inevitable. They will also need intensive rehabilitation, but the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza was destroyed by Israeli bombing in 2014…”

UK favours “whitewash toolkit” instead

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC ) in Geneva adopted a resolution to set up an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of humanitarian and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, with particular focus on recent events in Gaza. The resolution was passed with only two states opposing (the USA and another of Israel’s poodles, Australia), 29 in favour and 14 abstentions. The UK was among the abstainers.

Trying to explain its pathetic stance, the UK Mission in Geneva called the resolution “partial and unhelpfully unbalanced” for not explicitly demanding an investigation into the action of non-state actors such as Hamas. But why should it? Hamas is not the invader, illegal occupier, aggressor and blockader. It governs the besieged Gaza Strip as best it can after being democratically elected in 2006. The UK government then called on Israel to “make clear its intentions and carry out what must be a transparent inquiry into the IDF’s [Israel Defence Forces – a misnomer for the Israeli army] conduct at the border fence and to demonstrate how this will achieve a sufficient level of independence.” In other words, investigate itself.

However, Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem condemned the already-announced internal Israeli military probe as “part of the whitewashing toolkit”. The British government was criticised in parliament for its limp-wristed attitude and reminded of Israel’s self-exoneration over the killing of four boys playing on a beach during its 2014 military offensive on Gaza.

The preamble to the UNHRC resolution states the reasons for a proper investigation brilliantly. It’s worth repeating here:

  • Convinced that the lack of accountability for violations of international law reinforces a culture of impunity, leading to a recurrence of violations and seriously endangering international peace,
  • Noting the systematic failure by Israel to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt and effective way, as required by international law, into the violence and offences against Palestinians by the occupying forces, and to establish judicial accountability for its actions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,
  • Emphasising the obligations of Israel as the occupying power to ensure the safety, well-being and protection of the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,
  • Emphasising also that the intentional targeting of civilians and other protected persons in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and poses a threat to international peace and security,
  • Recognising the importance of the right to life and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to the full enjoyment of all human rights…<<

Despite all that, Theresa May and Boris Johnson (foreign secretary at the time) still couldn’t bring themselves to back the UN resolution.

In recent years this country has so abandoned it moral compass that failing to support a perfectly legitimate investigation into the Israeli military’s brutal behaviour towards the Palestinians they have robbed and abused and murdered for 70 years – a scenario we engineered — is unsurprising.

But many see no difference between the racist thugs who command the Israeli army and the degenerate responsible for the New Zealand mosque massacre. Let us hope Her Majesty’s Government eventually discovers its backbone and adopts the report and findings of the UN Human Rights Council lest we all die of shame.

Kindest regards,

Your constituent Stuart Littlewood

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