BATTLE FOR YEMEN’S AL-HUDAYDAH ON JUNE 19, 2018 (VIDEOS, MAPS, PHOTOS)

South Front

19.06.2018

Battle For Yemen’s al-Hudaydah On June 19, 2018 (Videos, Maps, Photos)

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The Saudi-led coalition and its proxies have faced a new series of attacks by the Houthis on their logistical lines along the western Yemeni coast.

The main attacks took place in the areas of Durayhimi Taif, Jan al-Asfal and al-Fazzah. Pro-Houthi sources claimed that the entire logistical line of the coalition was interrupted. However, these areas were not captured. So, the coalition’s forces will soon be able to restore supplies to its group involved in the battle for al-Hudaydah.

Battle For Yemen’s al-Hudaydah On June 19, 2018 (Videos, Maps, Photos)

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At the same time, the coalition’s forces continued clashing with the Houthis in the area of the al-Hudaydah airport and south of the port city itself. A few days ago, pro-coalition sources claimed that the al-Hudaydah airport was captured by the coalition. However, clashes in the area continued.

According to pro-Houthi sources, up to 30 vehicles of the coalition-led forces were destroyed and up to 200 fighters of the coalition-led forces were killed in the clashes during the past few days. These claims are partly confirmed by released videos and photos.

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israeli jets strike 9 targets in Gaza in response to ‘explosive kites & balloons’

Israeli jets bombard Gaza in response to ‘explosive kites & balloons’

israel air force palestine kites cartoon

Israeli Air Force jets have carried out a series of strikes on Gaza, reportedly destroying several Hamas military targets in retaliation to alleged arson attempts and “explosive kites and balloons” being launched at Israel.

 

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Christian Zionist interpretation of Bible could be used to justify any atrocity

US attorney general quotes Bible to defend separating families

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been criticised for citing Bible scripture to back up the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

At an event in Indiana, Mr Sessions was defending the practice of separating undocumented immigrant families apprehended at the border.

He quoted the New Testament and said having children does not shield border-crossing migrants from prosecution.

The Bible verse was once used to justify US slavery, said critics.

Mr Sessions said on Thursday: “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.

“Our policy that can result in short-term separation of families is not unusual or unjustified.”

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White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders would not comment directly on Mr Sessions’ remarks, but added “it’s very biblical to enforce the law”.

In the House, top Democrat Nancy Pelosi attacked the separations as a “barbaric” policy that “has to stop.”

The Trump administration policy is supported by some Republicans, but others have expressed misgivings.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Congress’ highest-ranking Republican, was asked if he was comfortable with the tactics.

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Media captionMigrant boys detained in a former Walmart in Texas

“No I am not,” he responded. “We believe it should be addressed in immigration legislation.

“We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents.”

The policy has also provoked disquiet among the conservative evangelical community.

Franklin Graham, son of late reverend Billy Graham and a staunch Trump supporter, said the separation policy was “disgraceful”.

“It’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit,” Graham told the Christian Broadcasting Network on Tuesday.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also condemned the policy on Wednesday.

“Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma.

“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety.”

On Twitter, many criticised Mr Sessions’ citing of the verse given its historical use to justify slavery.

In 1855, the Richmond Daily Dispatch newspaper wrote that hundreds of passages proved “slavery has the divine sanction”, citing Romans 13 as one.

The debate around Romans 13 dates back even further. During the American Revolution, both patriots and those loyal to England invoked Romans 13.

At that time, the arguments centred around whether the verse meant only just rulers were to be obeyed versus upholding existing law and order.

This week, House Republicans pitched a draft immigration legislation that would end the separation of children and parents at the border.

Under the plan, families would be detained together.

Also in the proposal are provisions to protect 1.8 million Daca ‘Dreamers’, eliminate the diversity lottery, and add $25bn (£18bn) for border security.

The bill, a compromise between moderates and conservatives, is expected to be voted on next week. So will another, more hardline bill.

President Donald Trump said on Friday he would not sign the compromise bill, despite Republican lawmakers having said he supported it.

His remark sent legislators on Capitol Hill scrambling, but the White House later said the president had misspoken and he would back both measures

Trump migrant separation policy: Children ‘in cages’ in Texas. U.S. should be kicked out of UN Human Rights Council

Trump migrant separation policy: Children ‘in cages’ in Texas

US threatens to quit UN Human Rights Council

Reporters and Democratic lawmakers have been allowed inside a detention centre that lies at the heart of a growing storm over a new US policy separating migrant children from their parents.

Authorities did not allow photos or videos to be taken inside the centre, but US Customs and Border Protection later released several images. Former First Lady Laura Bush has compared it to the internment camps used for Japanese-Americans during World War Two. A Democratic congressman who visited the site said it was “nothing short of a prison”.

The Texas facility is known as Ursula, though immigrants are reportedly calling it La Perrera – dog kennel in Spanish – in reference to the cages used to hold children and adults who have ended up there after crossing the border from Mexico illegally.

“One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips [crisps] and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets,” the Associated Press reports.

Three boys lie on thin green mattresses on the floor covered in foil blanketsImage copyright US Customs and Border Protection
Image caption This image from the US Customs and Border Protection shows the foil blankets given to children

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley led the team of lawmakers to the site in the town of McAllen on Sunday.

He hit the headlines earlier this month when he was turned away from another facility housing some 1,500 boys in a disused Walmart store.

Speaking to CNN after the visit to Ursula, he said: “In wire-mesh, chain linked cages that are about 30×30 [feet], a lot of young folks put into them.

“I must say though, far fewer than I was here two weeks ago. I was told that buses full (of children) were taken away before I arrived.

“That was one of my concerns, that essentially, when you have to give lengthy notice, you end up a little bit of a show rather than seeing what’s really going on in these centres.”

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen and Vermont Congressman Peter Welch expressed shock and anger over the conditions they saw:

Inside Ursula, more than 1,100 illegal immigrants are waiting to be processed. They have been separated into three wings: unaccompanied children, lone adults and parents with their children. Officials said nearly 200 of those being held there were unaccompanied minors and another 500 were parents with their children.

The Los Angeles Times, which also sent a team there, described the 72,000 sq ft facility as “clean and spare, with bare concrete floors”.

A patrol agent currently in charge of the site, John Lopez, told the paper the 42 portable toilets on site are cleaned three times a day. There are three paramedics, two medical members of staff and 310 employees – but no mental health staff, or training, the paper notes. The main lights in the building remain on at all times.

Presentational grey line

Read more on US migrant family separations:

Presentational grey line

Nearly 60 miles away, in the town of Brownsville, some 1,500 boys are being housed inside a building that was once a Walmart superstore. The boys, aged 10 to 17, were all caught illegally crossing the border. It is America’s largest facility for such minors, and numbers have increased in the past month by several hundred.

Senator Merkley’s Facebook Live on 4 June showing security officials denying him entry to that site – known as Casa Padre – led to questions about conditions there. Last week, news organisations were given a tour.

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Zero-tolerance: The US policy dividing families and opinion

Media captionZero-tolerance: The US policy dividing families and opinion

No cages were mentioned, but the accommodation was likened to dorm rooms inside a giant warehouse. To accommodate for the growing numbers since the new “zero-tolerance” policy went into force, cots have been added to sleeping areas in the Casa Padre.

The New York Times described it as “clean, massive and brightly lit”, with the children given classes six hours each week day and outdoor play time for two hours a day. They have 48 medical staff and three on call doctors on hand.

Long-term trauma?

“Those kids inside who have been separated from their parents are already being traumatised,” Senator Merkley warned. “It doesn’t matter whether the floor is swept and the bed-sheets tucked in tight.”

Officials say they are trying to keep siblings together and not separate children under four or younger from their parents.

But Anne Chandler, who’s running a non-profit project for migrant children found on the southern US border, told Texas Monthly she had heard stories of “kids that are very young, that are breastfeeding babies and under three in the shelters, separated from their parents”.

The head of the Tahirih Justice Centre in Houston said she had seen cases where parents had not been told ahead of time that their child was being taken away, and instead were told by immigration officers that their child required a bath, only to not be returned.

“I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no,” Ms Chandler told the magazine.

Mothers and children wait to be assisted by volunteers in a humanitarian centre in the border town of McAllen, Texas on 14 June 2018.Image copyright AFP
Image caption Authorities say they do not separate parents with children under five

A rights worker who visited the Ursula facility at the weekend told the Associated Press she had spoken to a 16-year-old girl who was left in charge of an unaccompanied toddler for three days and tasked with changing the child’s nappies.

“She had to teach other kids in the cell to change her diaper,” Michelle Brane, from the Women’s Refugee Commission, said. The girl – who was four years old – was later reunited with her aunt, but the process took time because she did not speak Spanish but a language indigenous to Guatemala, the agency reports.

“She was so traumatised that she wasn’t talking,” Ms Brane said, describing the girl. “She was just curled up in a little ball.”

She is not alone in voicing concerns over the long-term effects of separating adults and their children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warned last week that “highly stressful experiences, including family separation, can cause irreparable harm to lifelong development by disrupting a child’s brain architecture”.

Separately, authorities have announced plans to erect tent cities that will hold hundreds more children in the Texas desert where temperatures regularly reach 40C (105F).

Local lawmaker Jose Rodriguez described the plan as “totally inhumane” and “outrageous”, adding: “It should be condemned by anyone who has a moral sense of responsibility.”

Greenwashing the Nakba: The Real Story Behind israel’s “Blooming Desert”

Whitney Webb | MintNews
Though the official narrative of the state of Israel claims that it has turned the land it occupies from an empty desert into a lush, agricultural wonder, the actual fate of the land following Israel’s establishment in 1948 tells a very different story.

In this Monday, Sept. 7, 2009 file photo, an Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

It has often been said that Israel, since its establishment in 1948, has presided over the “miracle” of making the country’s “desert bloom.” That heavily promoted narrative — which asserts that the Palestinians have long lacked the capacity, knowledge or desire to properly develop agriculture in the region — has often been used as a legitimizing factor in Israel’s establishment. As former Israel Prime Minister Shimon Peres once said, “The country [Palestine] was mostly an empty desert, with only a few islands of Arab settlement; and Israel’s [cultivated] land today was indeed redeemed from swamp and wilderness.”

Were it not for Israel, the desert would have remained unproductive and fallow – or so the story goes.

There is, however, another side to this story, one that shows that the “blooming desert” of Israel is a convenient disguise for the degradation and destruction of Palestine’s natural resources, a means of obfuscating the worst of occupation by wrapping it in the cloak of Zionist mythology. While a central theme of Zionist mythology has long been the need for the Jewish Diaspora community to re-establish itself by returning to agricultural labor, the truth of Israel’s agricultural “success” involves the unsustainable use of occupied resources and the deliberate destruction of the land and water still used by Palestinians today.

Erasing a rich history
Though the official narrative of the state of Israel claims that it has turned the land it occupies from an empty desert into a lush, agricultural wonder, the actual fate of the land following Israel’s establishment in 1948 tells a very different story. Indeed, prior to 1948, the historical record demonstrates that Palestinian farms were very productive and that both Palestinian Arabs and Jewish settlers were successful farmers. For example, a UN report on agriculture in Palestine between 1945 and 1946 recorded that Palestinian-grown crops accounted for nearly 80 percent of Palestine’s total agricultural yield that season, with Palestinian farms producing over 244,000 tons of vegetables, 73,000 tons of fruit, 78,000 tons of olives, and 5 million liters of wine.

Two years later, when the majority of Palestinians were forced from their land during the “Nakba” that founded the state of Israel, the farms and orchards that had previously been tended by Palestinians were left abandoned, as their owners fled under the threat of death at the hands of Zionist militias.

As Israeli historian and journalist Meron Benvenisti detailed in his book Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948:
By April 1948 Jewish farmers had already begun harvesting the crops that had ripened in the abandoned fields and picking the citrus fruit in Arab groves. […] by mid-1949 two-thirds of all land sown with grain in Israel was abandoned Arab land.”
Thus, it was land theft that was largely responsible for Israel’s initial agricultural production, not the labor or agricultural expertise of Zionist settlers.

In addition, the claim that Israel turned an undeveloped desert into an agricultural wonder seems to be – in part – projection on the part of the Israeli state. Indeed, as Benvenisti noted, following the removal of Palestinians, the vast majority of centuries-old fruit orchards that had long been maintained by the native inhabitants of the land were untended, neglected and, in some cases, bulldozed to make room for ever-expanding settlements.

According to Benvenisti’s research, that neglect led to a situation in which “entire tracts of productive citrus trees, especially in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area, were earmarked for the construction of housing developments,” as was the case for Palestine olive groves and pomegranate orchards that the land’s new occupants considered “an annoyance.” Part of the reason for the destruction of the land was that it would weaken Palestinian claims to return to the land, as keeping agricultural infrastructure intact “might have made possible the absorption of the returning refugees.”

Current Israeli government policy, particularly its support for the construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, is the continuation of this effort to erase Palestine’s history by targeting its agricultural heritage as well as its natural wonders. Indeed, Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted back in 2011 that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s steady push for Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory had been coupled with “his insistence on seeing nature and landscape as no more than an obstacle to the realization of his settlement vision.”

Covering a crime with water-sucking pines
Another project central to the “desert bloom” mythology is Israel’s “afforestation” of the desert, which has helped “turn the desert green” through the planting of non-native pine trees. These forests, largely planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), have been touted as a “miracle.” Yet, the pine stands, much like Israel’s treatment of Palestine’s agricultural legacy, have been motivated by a need to cover up the events that led to the creation of the Israeli state.

Indeed, more than two-thirds of all JNF forests and sites lie on top of the ruins of Palestinian villages demolished during and after the founding of Israel, and the group’s continuing afforestation efforts are aimed at acquiring land in the occupied West Bank to prevent “trespassing” and “conceal” Palestinian villages in order to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees.

Moreover, the effort to maintain a forest of non-native trees – regardless of whether its chief aim is to cover up the true history of Palestine or “green” a desert — has come at a great cost to the natural environment. As journalist Max Blumenthal has noted:
Most of the saplings the JNF plants at a site near Jerusalem simply do not survive, and require frequent replanting. Elsewhere, needles from the pine trees have killed native plant species and wreaked havoc on the ecosystem.”
They also become fodder for forest fires that have caused major damage and mass evacuations throughout Israel over the years.

Another ecological consequence of JNF forests is their likely effect on Israel’s horrendous drought, considered to be the worst the region has faced in over 900 years. As studies have shown in other countries where non-native pine plantations have been introduced in vast numbers, pines consume a significant amount of water – leading to droughts and even the disappearance of entire rivers – as well as fundamentally alter and degrade the soil. While these forests have been presented as an ecological miracle, they are instead destroying the environment and degrading the land’s resources, suggesting that the main driver behind the long-standing project is aimed at covering up the ruins of Palestine.

Continuing the attack on Palestinian agriculture
Today, the stark difference in agricultural development in the land tended by Israelis and Palestinians derives from policies that often receive little coverage in the media and are largely absent from the “desert bloom” narrative. Indeed, much of the coverage the issue has received paints Palestinian agricultural successes as either the work of foreigners offering aid or resulting from the “theft” of Israeli-settlement agricultural infrastructure.

Such reports fail to acknowledge the realities of the issue, such as the illegal blockade of Gaza that has crippled its economy and agricultural sector, as well as Israel’s destruction of agricultural infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank. Gazan agricultural infrastructure was ravaged by Israel in times of war and, in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers regularly demolish rain cisterns, pipelines and irrigation systems installed by Palestinians, citing as a reason that such structures lacked the “proper authorization” from Israel. Farmers themselves, mainly in Gaza, are often targeted directly by Israeli soldiers if they come too close to the border fence.

A Palestinian elderly woman collects olives from broken olive tree branches in the village of Qusra, northern West Bank, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Palestinian farmers say Jewish settlers from the nearby settlement of Eli cut more than 70 olive trees overnight. Olives are the backbone of Palestinian agriculture. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

The Israeli government has also targeted Palestinian agriculture through chemical warfare. The use of white phosphorus as a weapon against Gaza, for example, has had major consequences for the area’s farmers. In addition to the chemical weapon’s often deadly effects on the human body, it has destructive effects on the environment and plants, as its incendiary nature often leads to the spontaneous ignition and burning of trees, forests and farmland. It also lingers in the environment for several years.

Beyond the use of chemical weapons, Israel has also directly targeted Gazan farmland with herbicide. In 2015, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) admitted to using herbicides and germination inhibitors to kill off vegetation along the Palestinian side of the border, damaging over 420 acres of land. A year later, tactic was repeated, this time destroying around 400 acres of farmland. The IDF has stated that it sprays the chemicals over the vaguely defined “no-go zone” it has established along the border “in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations.” However, the area accounts for a third of Gaza’s arable land and 17 percent of the entire territory.

Furthermore, the herbicides, like white phosphorus, have consequences for the environment long after they are sprayed. As Anwar Abu Assi, manager of the chemical laboratory at Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture, told Al Jazeera in 2016:
Herbicides are sprayed in high concentrations. Thus, they remain embedded in the soil, and then find their way to the water basin. This constitutes a real hazard for the population.”
The targeting of Palestinian agriculture in the present and its treatment by the Israeli and American press suggest another and nefarious way in which Israel’s “desert bloom” mythology has manifested. In order for Israel’s agricultural “superiority” to remain unchallenged, Palestinian agriculture must also be suppressed. Were Palestinian agriculture able to develop unimpeded and flourish, it would call into question the idea that the land was barren before the Zionists, threatening the latter’s legitimacy.

The cover-story for all conquerors and colonizers 
The myth of Israel “making the desert bloom” has its basis in neo-colonial narratives that have long been used in other settler states such as Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Australia. In the cases of the latter countries, the native inhabitants and their culture have also inaccurately been depicted as “primitive” and incompetent, a narrative that suggests that the land would have remained “wild” and undeveloped were it not for the “fortunate” appearance of European settlers. Such narratives cast the settlers as both superior and normal while the natives become inferior and abnormal, thus obfuscating the settler’s status as foreigner and conqueror.

Zionist mythology reinforces similar themes. For example, as in the United States Native Americans were considered as uncivilized and wild as the natural environment, Zionist mythology reinforces the idea that all Arabs are “sons of the desert” while the desert similarly represents a barbaric obstacle to “progress” and development.

Another historical analogue is the 19th century concept of “manifest destiny” — the idea that the expansion of the United States had been preordained by God himself, which led the U.S. to break many of its numerous treaties with indigenous tribes and even go to war with Mexico in order to acquire the land it coveted. The Israeli government similarly sees its expansion and control of all of Palestine as a matter of fulfilling prophecy and “redeeming” the Holy Land. This effort of redemption continues to feed Israel’s expansion. As Netanyahu has said, Israel is “obligated to develop all parts of the country – the Galilee and the Negev [the West Bank].”

Living the myth and the lie
Yet, no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary, Israel will never tell the real story behind the “miracle” of making “the desert bloom.” It will never tell the real story precisely because it can’t – to do so would mean demolishing the neo-colonial narrative at the center of the settler state, a narrative that is the pillar of its legitimacy.

Indeed, if Israel has not actually improved the land by making “the desert bloom” but instead degraded the land, the legitimacy of the state of Israel itself becomes questionable, as it suggests that its native inhabitants – the Palestinians – were better caretakers of the land than the current occupiers. For this reason, Israel must continue to propagate the myth regardless of the facts, and continue to deny Palestine’s rich cultural history and agricultural legacy.

With Israel now facing the consequences of its mistreatment of the land and its resources, the historical revisionism once used to sell the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian agricultural prowess has become ineffective. For that reason, Israel must now use other tactics — chemical warfare through toxic agrochemicals, the physical destruction of Palestinian agricultural infrastructure, and illegal blockades – in order to keep the artificial narrative alive, creating the illusion of primitivism and scarcity where none exists.


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The fallacy of israel’s human shields claims in Gaza

The Fallacy of Israel’s Human Shields Claims in Gaza

Desperately trying to justify the killing of unarmed protesters, Israel once again uses its ‘human shields’ mantra.

by &
Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, who was killed by an Israeli sniper, was featured in an Israel propaganda video claiming she was used as a 'human shield' by Hamas [Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa]
Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, who was killed by an Israeli sniper, was featured in an Israel propaganda video claiming she was used as a ‘human shield’ by Hamas [Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa]
It has become part of a macabre ritual. Each week, thousands of Palestinians stride towards the fence surrounding the small swath of land in which they have been imprisoned for years, as Israeli snipers pick their victims and shoot.

Since March 30, 132 Palestinians have been killed and over 13,000 have been injured as they have courageously protested the effects of Israel’s ongoing military siege on Gaza.

To some, the Palestinian march might look suicidal, but to Palestinians, it is the ultimate act of peaceful resistance. Malnutrition, lack of drinking water, daily electricity outages, massive unemployment, and extreme poverty are not abstract slogans for the civilians who have participated in these demonstrations.

So, week in and week out, they march towards the fence in the hope that the world will hear their anguish and that some country, some leader, or even some movement will support their cause and help them break the siege.

But each week, Israel is trying hard to push a different narrative. The Israeli military has been disseminating on social media images and videos of young children at protests. One short clip plays a lullaby interrupted by the sound of gunfire and rhetorically asks: “Where are the children of Gaza today?” After showing children amid the protesters, it then displays the word “here” in all caps across the screen.

Such videos are used as “the ultimate proof” that Palestinians are deploying children as human shields.

Israel’s “human shield” propaganda has also been applied on civilian adults. Following international outrage at the slaying of 21-year-old Razan Al-Najjar, who was killed while treating an injured protester, the Israeli army circulated an edited clip entitled “Hamas uses Paramedics as Human Shields”.

The video is based on an interview with Al Mayadeen TV in which Razan described her work as a medic: “My name is Razan Al-Najjar. I’m here on the front lines as a human shield to protect and save the wounded on the front lines.”

The Israeli army’s media unit conveniently edited the interview, omitting Razan’s claim that, for her, shielding the wounded is part of her responsibility as a medical worker. They also artfully ignored another clip posted on the New York Times website, where she describes the protests as an attempt “to send a message to the world: without weapons, we can do anything”.

Israel justifies its violent attacks by continuously accusing Hamas of using human shields, desperately hoping to stir moral indignation while also trying to muster a legal defence for the indefencible.

Morally, the charge intimates that the Palestinians are savages. Not unlike imagined barbaric pagans who offered their children to the gods, it suggests that the Palestinians of Gaza have no problem sending their sons and daughters to the front lines. The subtext is that civilised people protect their children while Palestinians sacrifice them.

Legally, a human shield is a civilian who is used in order to render a legitimate military target immune from attack. By accusing Hamas of deploying human shields, Israel hopes to shift the blame from the hunter to the prey, since, according to international law, the party responsible for the death of human shields is not the one killing them but the one using them.

This is precisely the message Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations conveyed in a letter he sent to the Security Council: “[the] terrorists continue to hide behind innocent children to ensure their own survival”.

With this statement, Danon not only shifts the blame but, in effect, also categorises anyone who participates in the March of Return as a military target. 

Exactly because human shields, by definition, defend legitimate military targets, the seemingly endless accusation that Palestinians use human shields to protect demonstrators reveals that for Israel all Palestinian protesters are fair game.

But despite Israel’s best efforts, the “human shield” argument is increasingly failing to convince. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes in its efforts to suppress Palestinian demands for liberation.

Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution with overwhelming majority condemning Israel’s use of “indiscriminate force”, while UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for an investigation.

What is even more frightening, however, is that Gaza is not particularly unique.

From Venezuela, where priests defended anti-government activists from the lethal violence of riot police, to South Africa, where white students shielded black students as they rallied against unaffordable tuition fees, to the United States, where veterans tried to protect peaceful Native Americans who were being brutally attacked by security dogs, blasted with water cannons in subzero temperatures, and fired on with rubber bullets at Standing Rock Reservation, more and more people are either being framed as human shields or are actually serving as human shields.

In spite of the differences between these contexts, the figure of the human shield – whether used to justify colonial violence or to protect demonstrators – has become omnipresent in our contemporary political landscape.

This, in turn, suggests that protesters are increasingly conceived as lawful targets and that the repertoires of violence as well as the legal justifications used in war have entered the realm of civilian life and are being normalised

The USA’s treatment of immigrant children excludes them from the civilised world. It’s truly disgusting

Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border
By Ginger Thompson

ProPublica has obtained audio from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, in which children can be heard wailing as an agent jokes, “We have an orchestra here.”

The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.

 

The baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. “Well, we have an orchestra here,” he jokes. “What’s missing is a conductor.”

Then a distraught but determined 6-year-old Salvadoran girl pleads repeatedly for someone to call her aunt. Just one call, she begs anyone who will listen. She says she’s memorized the phone number, and at one point, rattles it off to a consular representative. “My mommy says that I’ll go with my aunt,” she whimpers, “and that she’ll come to pick me up there as quickly as possible.”

An audio recording obtained by ProPublica adds real-life sounds of suffering to a contentious policy debate that has so far been short on input from those with the most at stake: immigrant children. More than 2,300 of them have been separated from their parents since April, when the Trump administration launched its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which calls for prosecuting all people who attempt to illegally enter the country and taking away the children they brought with them. More than 100 of those children are under the age of 4. The children are initially held in warehouses, tents or big box stores that have been converted into Border Patrol detention facilities.

Condemnations of the policy have been swift and sharp, including from some of the administration’s most reliable supporters. It has united religious conservatives and immigrant rights activists, who have said that “zero tolerance” amounts to “zero humanity.” Democratic and Republican members of Congress spoke out against the administration’s enforcement efforts over the weekend. Former first lady Laura Bush called the administration’s practices “cruel” and “immoral,” and likened images of immigrant children being held in kennels to those that came out of Japanese internment camps during World War II. And the American Association of Pediatricians has said the practice of separating children from their parents can cause the children “irreparable harm.”

Still, the administration had stood by it. President Trump blames Democrats and says his administration is only enforcing laws already on the books, although that’s not true. There are no laws that require children to be separated from their parents, or that call for criminal prosecutions of all undocumented border crossers. Those practices were established by the Trump administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has cited passages from the Bible in an attempt to establish religious justification. On Monday, he defended it again saying it was a matter of rule of law, “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws.” A Border Patrol spokesman echoed that thought in a written statement.

In recent days, authorities on the border have begun allowing tightly controlled tours of the facilities that are meant to put a humane face on the policy. But cameras are heavily restricted. And the children being held are not allowed to speak to journalists.

The audio obtained by ProPublica breaks that silence. It was recorded last week inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The person who made the recording asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. That person gave the audio to Jennifer Harbury, a well-known civil rights attorney who has lived and worked for four decades in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border with Mexico. Harbury provided it to ProPublica. She said the person who recorded it was a client who “heard the children’s weeping and crying, and was devastated by it.”

The person estimated that the children on the recording are between 4 and 10 years old. It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw. Consulate officials tried to comfort them with snacks and toys. But the children were inconsolable.

The child who stood out the most was the 6-year-old Salvadoran girl with a phone number stuck in her head. At the end of the audio, a consular official offers to call the girl’s aunt. ProPublica dialed the number she recited in the audio, and spoke with the aunt about the call.

“It was the hardest moment in my life,” she said. “Imagine getting a call from your 6-year-old niece. She’s crying and begging me to go get her. She says, ‘I promise I’ll behave, but please get me out of here. I’m all alone.’”

The aunt said what made the call even more painful was that there was nothing she could do. She and her 9-year-old daughter are seeking asylum in the United States after immigrating here two years ago for the exact same reasons and on the exact same route as her sister and her niece. They are from a small town called Armenia, about an hour’s drive northwest of the Salvadoran capital, but well within reach of its crippling crime waves. She said gangs were everywhere in El Salvador: “They’re on the buses. They’re in the banks. They’re in schools. They’re in the police. There’s nowhere for normal people to feel safe.”

She said her niece and sister set out for the United States over a month ago. They paid a smuggler $7,000 to guide them through Guatemala, and Mexico and across the border into the United States. Now, she said, all the risk and investment seem lost.

The aunt said she worried that any attempt to intervene in her niece’s situation would put hers and her daughter’s asylum case at risk, particularly since the Trump administration overturned asylum protections for victims of gang and domestic violence. She said she’s managed to speak to her sister, who has been moved to an immigration detention facility near Port Isabel, Texas. And she keeps in touch with her niece, Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid, by telephone. Mother and daughter, however, have not been able to speak to one another.

The aunt said that Alison has been moved out of the Border Patrol facility to a shelter where she has a real bed. But she said that authorities at the shelter have warned the girl that her mother, 29-year-old Cindy Madrid, might be deported without her.

“I know she’s not an American citizen,” the aunt said of her niece. “But she’s a human being. She’s a child. How can they treat her this way?”

Has your family been separated at the U.S., Mexico border? Are you a worker at a detention center or do you aid families who have been affected? Tell us more at border@propublica.org or 347-244-2134.

This article was originally published by “ProPublica” –

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