Gaza burns hotter than Hollywood but there’s nobody to put the fires out – George Galloway

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By George Galloway
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5beaecdbdda4c8513f8b45b5.jpgA ball of fire above the building housing the Hamas-run television station al-Aqsa TV in the Gaza Strip during an Israeli air strike, November 12, 2018 © AFP / Mahmud Hams

 

The world is fixated by the forest fires in Hollywood burning down stars’ mansions. With supreme irony some of them belong to those who helped raise millions of dollars for the Israeli Army which is now burning the hovels of Gaza.

The Hollywood warriors have insurance of course, and other homes too, sometimes many of them. The hovel-dwellers of Gaza have neither.

The brave firefighters of California are well-equipped and have the wind of hope of millions of well-wishers at their backs. There are no firefighters in Gaza.

The hovels of Gaza are unfortunately well-known to me, since long before Hamas even existed. In fact I saw Hamas be born, and Israel was the midwife. I was a comrade of Yasser Arafat then the Chairman of the secular PLO, an Arab nationalist, whose executive committee consisted of Arab nationalists and Moscow-aligned leftists like the PFLP led by the late Dr George Habash.

Israel feared this then zeitgeist in the Arab world so they turned, as the British had earlier in seeking to undermine Egypt’s President Nasser, to the Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood, a client of the British in Egypt had brothers in Gaza of course. Those brothers became Hamas with the full cooperation of Israel.

I saw with my own eyes the open development of Islamism in Gaza, a catspaw against Arafat and the PLO. While the gaols (and the graveyards) were full of PLO men, the roads were choc-a-block with Islamist society vehicles. Communities were served by Islamic schools, hospitals & civic-society institutions of all kinds. Permitted, encouraged, sometimes financed by Israel. It was divide and rule in perfect harmony.

Of course, that was nearly 40 years ago and none of the leaders of Hamas then are still alive – by one means or another. The Hamas Israel thought it was developing as a client long-ago outgrew that role and is now a formidable fighting force which can be slaughtered from the air of course (along with anyone nearby) but on the ground, face to face, not so much.

Whilst a ceasefire was in place and peace talks were taking place in Cairo between Israel and Hamas, Netanyahu sent a special forces commando undercover into Gaza to assassinate a Hamas military commander and in the accompanying firefight an Israeli commander was slain. And all hell broke loose. As I write the dogs of war are unleashed and havoc has ensued.

Increasingly accurate Hamas missiles have been fired with greater accuracy and quantity. Israeli warplanes are bombing and rocketing like there was no tomorrow (with an unlimited guarantee of more from Donald Trump). This week the Palestinian television station Al Aqsa was eviscerated in an air-strike about which the Israeli government boasted on Twitter. Like Yugoslav TV in Belgrade, like the Al Jazeera TV station in Baghdad, the slaughter of tea-ladies, make up departments, camera-operators and of course journalists has elicited only stony-silence from Western media outlets.

The fourth estate, rightly scandalized by the kidnap, torture, murder and dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, is unmoved by the dismemberment of Palestinian journalists.

The media solidarity, triggered by Donald Trump withdrawing the White House credentials of CNN journalist Jim Acosta, who none of us had ever heard of, working for a station that none of us ever watches, was impressive. The withdrawal of the life’s blood of TV make-up ladies hasn’t even made the news, especially on CNN.

For them as with the other Western fake-news machines, the clock starts ticking when Israel says it does and when Israel “responds“. That the response is a response to a provocation matters not a jot or tittle.

In any case, nobody working in the Western media today either knows or cares that the root cause of this is the existence of the barbed wire enclave called Gaza.

Two million Palestinians locked in a tiny strip of land (it’s called the Gaza Strip for a reason) with no entry or exit guaranteed and overwhelmingly refused. Eighty percent of those two million are refugees there, looking through the barbed wire at their own property now occupied by others. When they approach the fence they are mercilessly cut down by snipers.

Since March, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been wounded at the Gaza fence. Hundreds have been killed including children, women, nurses and of course the press. Hundreds of limbs have been amputated, many have been blinded, left eyeless in Gaza. They were unarmed, in their “own territory” and had not remotely reached the fence which, entirely unilaterally, the Israelis have demarcated as their border.

Throughout the last ten years or more the Palestinians in Gaza have endured bitter cold in winter & baking heat in summer, with deliberately-rationed electricity supplies controlled by Israel. Often there is none, at best four hours per day. Medical supplies and foodstuffs frequently perish as refrigeration fails.

Israel controls the water supply too and most of Gaza never has access to clean potable water.

Even the sea off Gaza is remorselessly controlled with abundant fish-stocks only harvestable by fisherman at the risk of their lives which are frequently lost.

It is a ghetto of suppurating suffering. It is a crucifixion of an entire population. But it is not the whole story.

The whole story goes back much farther and is beyond the scope of this article. Palestine no longer exists, it is wiped off the map. Its people are scattered to the four corners of the earth as exiles and refugees, or live in the Bantustans of the West Bank, the illegally annexed Holy City of Jerusalem, or in besieged Gaza. Until this is resolved and as long as a single Palestinian remains alive there will be resistance, there will be trouble. It is this story that all the world’s governments and all their institutions have singularly failed to meaningfully address.

And so for now, and for the future, there will be much wailing, rending of garments, and gnashing of teeth in the Terra Santa.

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Palestine, Israel & Alison Weir

 

Europe’s Human Rights Exposed in Treating Refugees: Families Fed ’Like Animals in Pen’!

Local Editor

Disturbing footage emerged Friday of the way migrants are being treated inside Hungary’s main refugee camp on the border with Serbia, with images showing families fed “like animals in a pen”.

The video, shot secretly by an Austrian volunteer who visited the flashpoint Roszke camp on Wednesday, shows some 150 people wildly scrambling for bags of sandwiches thrown at them by Hungarian police wearing helmets and hygiene masks in a fenced-in enclosure inside a big hall.

Women and children were caught in the chaotic scrum as hungry people frantically tried to catch the bread flying through the air.

Many migrants too far back in the crowd climbed onto the fence, waving and shouting to get the officers’ attention.

“It was like animals being fed in a pen, like Guantanamo in Europe,” said Klaus Kufner, a volunteer who was with the woman who recorded the images, referring to the notorious prison camp where the US is accused of torturing inmates.

He stated that he and Michaela Spritzendorfer — who filmed the scenes — had driven together to Roszke to bring food, clothes and medication to help the thousands of refugees pouring over the border.

“It was inhumane and it really speaks for these people that they didn’t fight over the food despite being clearly very hungry,” said Spritzendorfer, the wife of a Vienna councilor with Austria’s Green Party.

The footage, which was uploaded on YouTube late on Thursday and widely shared on social media networks, had more than 20,000 views by Friday morning.

The UN’s refugee agency criticized the dire conditions at the Roszke camp earlier this week, with Hungary’s hardline stance against migrants also angering other EU countries.

Harsh laws which could see migrants jailed for crossing its borders are due to come into force on Tuesday.

Hungary’s right-wing government in late August completed a razor-wire barrier along its 175-kilometer border with Serbia but it is not proving to be much of an obstacle for desperate people fleeing war in Syria and Iraq.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has however ordered the building of an additional four-meter high fence that he wants completed by the end of October.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

11-09-2015 | 12:46

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian 

  

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

An Israeli Conundrum

Israeli News Channel (Channel 10) recently covered my appearance as a guest artist on Pink Floyd’s latest album, The Endless River.  On the one hand they were very proud of my artistry, on the other, they admitted, he is not one of us anymore and he is not going to receive a “congratulations call from Bibi.”

The Israeli channel was  honest in  their reporting of  my criticism of Israel and Jewishness. They reported that I had renounced my Israeli citizenship,  They quoted my observation that  Gilad Shalit had been a “post guard in a concentration camp (Gaza)”. And when they referred to  my recent Press TV appearance  about Gaza they translated the word ‘genocide’  as “Shoah.”  This is very revealing. While The Guardian Of Zion and the Soros funded BDS  network would never compare the Palestinian plight with the Holocaust, the Israelis understand  that the comparison is natural.

The message is clear.  Israel is more tolerant of its critics than its Diaspora Jewish opposition (the Anti Zionist Zionists). This is why Israel rather than the Jewish Diaspora Left has produced the sharpest criticism of Jewish power, Judaism and Jewishness (Israel Shahak, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Israel Shamir, Shlomo Sand, and many more).

 River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

US Ordered to Explain Withholding of Iraq and Afghanistan Torture Photos

Obama admistration must justify suppression of never-before-seen photographs depicting US military torture of detainees
The photographs discussed in court on Tuesday are said to be even more disturbing than the infamous prison photos from Abu Ghraib. Photograph: Khalid Mohammed/AP

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/21/us-withholding-torture-photographs-iraq-Afghanistan

abu Ghraib prison iraq baghdad The   Photograph: Khalid Mohammed/AP

The Obama administration has until early December to detail its reasons for withholding as many as 2,100 graphic photographs depicting US military torture of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal judge ordered on Tuesday.

By 12 December, Justice Department attorneys will have to list, photograph by photograph, the government’s rationale for keeping redacted versions of the photos unseen by the public, Judge Alvin Hellerstein instructed lawyers. But any actual release of the photographs will come after Hellerstein reviews the government’s reasoning and issues another ruling in the protracted transparency case.

While Hellerstein left unclear how much of the Justice Department’s declaration will itself be public, the government’s submission is likely to be its most detailed argument for secrecy over the imagery in a case that has lasted a decade.

“The only thing that bothers me is that we’re taking a lot of time,” Hellerstein told a nearly empty courtroom.

At issue is the publication of as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse, although the government continues not to confirm the precise number. Said to be even more disturbing than the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs that sparked a global furor in 2004, the imagery is the subject of a transparency lawsuit that both the Bush and Obama administrations, backed by the US Congress, have strenuously resisted.

In 2009, US president Barack Obama reversed his position on the photographs’ release and contended they would “further inflame anti-American opinion and … put our troops in greater danger”. That year, Congress passed a law, the Protected National Security Documents Act, intended to aid the government in keeping the images from the public. Two secretaries of defense, Robert Gates in 2009 and Leon Panetta in 2012, have issued assertions that US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would be placed at risk by the disclosure.

But in August, Hellerstein said the government’s declaration was overbroad. Some of the photographs, which he said on Tuesday he had seen behind closed doors, “are relatively innocuous while others need more serious consideration”, Hellerstein said in August.

Disclosure, sought by the American Civil Liberties Union since 2004, will not come this year. Hellerstein scheduled a hearing to discuss the upcoming government declaration for 23 January.

The return of the US to war in Iraq raises the stakes for the case. Unlike in 2012, when Panetta certified that the release of the photographs would endanger the US military in Afghanistan, some 1,600 US troops are also now in Iraq again, this time to confront the Islamic State (Isis).

But while Hellerstein indicated he was interested in an “update” about current exposure to danger, he only ordered the government to specify its reasons for keeping each individual photograph withheld as of Panetta’s November 2012 declaration.

Potential release of the photographs dovetails with another imminent torture disclosure. The Senate intelligence committee is expected to soon unveil sections of its long-awaited investigation into CIA torture. The government’s most recent filing in a different transparency suit indicated the report’s release will come on 29 October, though the government has asked for extensions in the past and may do so again.

Marcellene Hearn, an attorney for the ACLU, portrayed the release of the torture photographs as an accountability measure.

“It’s disappointing that the government continues to fight to keep these photographs from the public,” Hearn said after the half-hour hearing. “The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened in our detention centers abroad. Yet the government is suppressing as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse in Iraq and elsewhere. We will continue to press for the release of the photos in the courts.”

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture

FULL REPORT Here

Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture

on the Review of the Periodic Report of the United States of

America

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions

Dr. Trudy Bond, Prof. Benjamin Davis, Dr. Curtis F. J. Doebbler, and

The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School

Summary:

Since the United States last reported to the Committee Against Torture in 2006, even more

evidence has emerged confirming that civilian and military officials at the highest level created,

designed, authorized, and implemented a sophisticated, international criminal program of torture.

In August 2014, President Barack Obama conceded that the United States tortured people as part

of its so-called “War on Terror,” yet the United States continues to shield senior officials from

liability for these crimes, in violation of its obligations under the Convention Against Torture.

Recommended Questions:

  1. Why has the United States not prosecuted senior officials for authorizing conduct it admits was torture?
  2. Were the following people ever criminally investigated for their role in torture, and why have they not been prosecuted?
  3. Former President George W. Bush
  4. Former Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo
  5. Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contractor Dr. James Mitchell

Suggested Recommendation:

  1. That the United States promptly and impartially prosecute senior military and civilian

officials responsible for authorizing, acquiescing, or consenting in any way to acts of

torture committed by their subordinates.

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions

2

  1. Reporting Organization

Advocates for U.S. Torture Prosecutions is a group composed of concerned U.S. citizens,

residents, and students—scholars, legal and health care professionals, and law students1—who

have sought for years to use what modest levers we have to end the U.S. program of torture put

in place post-9/11, to obtain justice and redress for those harmed, and to seek accountability for

those responsible.2 We are joined in our submission by supporting organizations and individuals

from across civil society.3

  1. Summary of the Issue
  2. The U.S. Government’s criminal program of torture was authorized at the highest

levels.

Since the United States last reported to the Committee in 2006, even more evidence has emerged

confirming that civilian and military officials at the highest level created, designed, authorized,

and implemented a sophisticated, international criminal program of torture between 2002 and

  1. Just this past August, President Obama conceded that the United States tortured people as

part of its so-called “War on Terror,”4 yet the current administration continues to shield senior

officials from liability for these crimes, in violation of its obligations under the Convention

Against Torture.

The techniques in question, sometimes styled as interrogation techniques and sometimes as

detention procedures, included near-drowning (“waterboarding”), sleep deprivation for days, and

forced nudity.5 They have caused many people intense suffering, including severe mental harm6

and, in some cases, death.7

On Israel’s little-known concentration and labor camps in 1948-1955

Civilians captured during the fall of Lydda and Ramle around the time of July 12, 1948 and taken to labour camps. In the July heat they were thirsty and were given a drop of water carried by a child under soldiers’ guard. (Photo: Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society)
Published Monday, September 29, 2014
Much of the grim and murky circumstances of the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the late 1940s have gradually been exposed over time. One aspect – rarely researched or deeply discussed – is the internment of thousands of Palestinian civilians within at least 22 Zionist-run concentration and labor camps that existed from 1948 to 1955. Now more is known about the contours of this historical crime, due to the comprehensive research by renowned Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta and founding member of the Palestinian resource center BADIL Terry Rempel.
The facts are these.
The study – to be published in the upcoming issue of theJournal of Palestine Studies – relies on almost 500 pages of International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) reports written during the 1948 war, that were declassified and made available to the public in 1996, and accidentally discovered by one of the authors in 1999.
Furthermore, testimonies of 22 former Palestinian civilian detainees of these camps were collected by the authors, through interviews they conducted themselves in 2002, or documented by others during different moments of time.
With these sources of information, the authors, as they put it, pieced together a clearer story of how Israel captured and imprisoned “thousands of Palestinian civilians as forced laborers,” and exploited them “to support its war-time economy.”
Digging up the crimes
“I came across this piece of history in the 1990s when I was collecting material and documents about Palestinian,” Abu Sitta told Al-Akhbar English. “The more and more you dig, the more you find there are crimes that have taken place that are not reported and not known.”
At that time, Abu Sitta went to Geneva for a week to check out the newly-opened archives of the ICRC. According to him, the archives were opened to the public after accusations that the ICRC had sided with the Nazis during World War II. It was an opportunity that he could not miss in terms of seeing what the ICRC had recorded of the events that occurred in Palestine in 1948. It was there he stumbled onto records discussing the existence of five concentration camps run by the Israelis.
He then decided to look for witnesses or former detainees, interviewing Palestinians in occupied Palestine, Syria, and Jordan.
“They all described the same story, and their real experience in these camps,” he said.
One question that immediately struck him was why there was barely any references in history about these camps, especially when it became clearer the more he researched that they existed, and were more than just five camps.

“Many former Palestinian detainees saw the concept of Israel as a vicious enemy, so they thought their experience labouring in these concentration camps was nothing in comparison to the other larger tragedy of the Nakba.” – Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta

“Many former Palestinian detainees saw the concept of Israel as a vicious enemy, so they thought their experience labouring in these concentration camps was nothing in comparison to the other larger tragedy of the Nakba. The Nakba overshadowed everything,” Abu Sitta explained.
“However, when I dug into the period of 1948-1955, I found more references like Mohammed Nimr al-Khatib, who was an imam in Haifa, who had written down interviews with someone from al-Yahya family that was in one of the camps. I was able to trace this man all the way to California and spoke with him in 2002,” he added. More references were eventually and slowly discovered by Abu Sitta that included information from a Jewish woman called Janoud, a single masters thesis in Hebrew University about the topic, and the personal accounts of economist Yusif Sayigh, helped to further flesh out the scale and nature of these camps.
After more than a decade, Abu Sitta, with his co-author Rempel, are finally presenting their findings to the public.
From burden to opportunity: concentration and labor camps
The establishment of concentration and labor camps occurred after the unilateral declaration of Israel’s statehood on May 1948.
Prior to that event, the number of Palestinian captives in Zionist hands were quite low, because, as the study states, “the Zionist leadership concluded early on that forcible expulsion of the civilian population was the only way to establish a Jewish state in Palestine with a large enough Jewish majority to be ‘viable’.” In other words, for the Zionist strategists, prisoners were a burden in the beginning phases of the ethnic cleansing.
Those calculations changed with the declaration of the Israeli state and the involvement of the armies of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Transjordan, after much of the ethnic cleansing had occurred. From that moment, “the Israeli forces began taking prisoners, both regular Arab soldiers (for eventual exchange), and – selectively – able-bodied Palestinian non-combatant civilians.”
The first camp at Ijlil, which was about 13 km northeast of Jaffa, on the site of the destroyed Palestinian village Ijlil al-Qibiliyya, emptied of its inhabitants in early April. Ijlil was predominately made up of tents, housing hundreds and hundreds of prisoners, categorized as POWs by the Israelis, surrounded by barbed wire fences, watchtowers, and a gate with guards.
As the Israeli conquests grew, in turn exceedingly increasing the number of prisoners, three more camps were established. These are the four “official” camps that the Israelis acknowledged and were actively visited by the ICRC.
The study notes:
All four camps were either on or adjacent to military installations set up by the British during the Mandate. These had been used during World War II for the interment of German, Italian, and other POWs. Two of the camps – Atlit, established in July about 20 kms south of Haifa, and Sarafand, established in September near the depopulated village of Sarafand al-Amar in central Palestine—had earlier been used in the 1930s and 1940s to detain illegal Jewish immigrants.
Atlit was the second largest camp after Ijlil, it had the capacity of holding up to 2,900 prisoners, while Sarafand had the maximum capacity of 1,800, and Tel Letwinksy, near Tel Aviv, held more than 1,000.
All four camps were administered by “former British officers who had defected their ranks when British forces withdrew from Palestine in mid-May 1948,” and the camp’s guards and administrative staff were former members of the Irgun and the Stern Gang – both groups designated as terrorist organizations by the British before their departure . In total, the four “official” camps were staffed by 973 soldiers.
A fifth camp, called Umm Khalid, was established at a site of another depopulated village near the Zionist settlement of Netanya, and was even assigned an official number in the records, but never attained “official” status. It had the capacity to hold 1,500 prisoners. Unlike the other four camps, Umm Khalid would be “the fist camp established exclusively as a labor camp” and was “the first of the “recognized” camps to be shut down…by the end of 1948.”
Complementing these five “recognized” camps, were at least 17 other “unrecognized camps” that were not mentioned in official sources, but the authors discovered through multiple prisoner testimonies.
Civilians in a labour camp in Ramleh, July 1948. (Photo: Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society)
“Many of [these camps],” the authors noted, “[were] apparently improvised or ad hoc, often consisting of no more than a police station, a school, or the house of a village notable,” with holding capacities that ranged from almost 200 prisoners to tens.
Most of the camps, official and unofficial, were situated within the borders of the UN-proposed Jewish state, “although at least four [unofficial camps] – Beersheba, Julis, Bayt Daras, and Bayt Nabala – were in the UN-assigned Arab state and one was inside the Jerusalem “corpus separatum.”

“[T]he situation of civilian internees was ‘absolutely confused’ with that of POWs, and… Jewish authorities ‘treated all Arabs between the ages of 16 and 55 as combatants and locked them up as prisoners of war.’” – ICRC report, 1948

The number of Palestinian non-combatant detainees “far exceeded” those of Arab soldiers in regular armies or bona fide POWs. Citing a July 1948 monthly report made by ICRC mission head Jacques de Reynier, the study states that de Reynier noted, “that the situation of civilian internees was ‘absolutely confused’ with that of POWs, and that the Jewish authorities ‘treated all Arabs between the ages of 16 and 55 as combatants and locked them up as prisoners of war.’” In addition, the ICRC found among the detainees in official camps, that 90 of the prisoners were elderly men, and 77 were boys, aged 15 years or younger.
The study highlights the statements by an ICRC delegate Emile Moeri in January 1949 of the camp inmates:
It is painful to see these poor people, especially old, who were snatched from their villages and put without reason in a camp, obliged to pass the winter under wet tents, away from their families; those who could not survive these conditions died. Little children (10-12 years) are equally found under these conditions. Similarly sick people, some with tuberculosis, languish in these camps under conditions which, while fine for healthy individuals, will certainly lead to their death if we do not find a solution to this problem. For a long time we have demanded that the Jewish authorities release those civilians who are sick and need treatment to the care of their families or to an Arab hospital, but we have not received a response.
As the report noted, “there are no precise figures on the total number of Palestinian civilians held by Israel during the 1948-49 war” and estimates tend to not account for “unofficial” camps, in addition to the frequent movement of prisoners between the camps in use. In the four “official” camps, the number of Palestinian prisoners never exceeded 5,000 according to figures in Israeli records.
Taking accounting the capacity of Umm Khalid, and estimates of the “unofficial camps,” the final number of Palestinian prisoners could be around the 7,000 range, and perhaps much more when, as the study states, when taking into account a November 17, 1948 diary entry by David Ben-Gurion, one of the main Zionist leaders and Israel’s first prime minister, who mentioned “the existence of 9,000 POWs in Israeli-run camps.”
In general, the living conditions in the “official” camps were far below what would be considered appropriate by international law at that time. Moeri, who visited the camps constantly, reported that in Ijlil in November 1948: “”[m]any [of the] tents are torn, that the camp was “not ready for winter,” the latrines not covered, and the canteen not working for two weeks. Referring to an apparently ongoing situation, he stated that “the fruits are still defective, the meat is of poor quality, [and] the vegetables are in short supply.””
Furthermore, Moeri reported that he saw for himself, ““the wounds left by the abuse” of the previous week, when the guards had fired on the prisoners, wounding one, and had beaten another.”
As the study shows, the civilian status of the majority of the detainees were clear for the ICRC delegates in the country, who reported that the men captured “had undoubtedly never been in a regular army.” Detainees who were combatants, the study explains, were “routinely shot on the pretense that they had been attempting to escape.” ‘
The Israeli forces seemed to always target able-bodied men, leaving behind women, children, and the elderly – when not massacring them – the policy continued even after there were low levels of military confrontation. All in all, as the Israeli records show and the study cites, “Palestinian civilians comprised the vast majority (82 percent) of the 5,950 listed as internees in the POW camps, while the Palestinians alone (civilian plus military) comprised 85 percent.” The wide-scale kidnapping and imprisonment of Palestinian civilians tend to correspond with the Israeli military campaigns. For example, one of the first major roundup occurred during Operation Danj, when 60-70,000 Palestinians were expelled from the central towns of Lydda and Ramleh. At the same time, between a fifth and a quarter of the male population from these two towns who were over the age of 15 were sent to the camps.
The largest round-up of civilians came from villages of central Galilee who were captured during Operation Hiram in the fall of 1948.
One Palestinian survive, Moussa, described to the authors what he witnessed at the time.
“They took us from all villages around us: al-Bi’na, Deir al-Asad, Nahaf, al-Rama, and Eilabun. They took 4 young men and shot them dead…They drove us on foot. It was hot. We were not allowed to drink. They took us to [the Palestinian Druze village] al-Maghar, then [to the Jewish settlement] Nahalal, then to Atlit.”
A November 16, 1948 UN report collaborated Moussa’s account, stating that some 500 Palestinian men “were taken by force march and vehicle to a Jewish concentration camp at Nahlal.”
Maintaining Israel’s economy with “slave labor”
The policy of targeting civilians, particular “able-bodied” men, was not accidental according to the study. It states, “with tens of thousands of Jewish men and women called up for military service, Palestinian civilian internees constituted an important supplement to the Jewish civilian labor employed under emergency legislation in maintaining the Israeli economy,” which even the ICRC delegation had noted in their reports.

Abuses by the Israeli guards were systematic rife in the camps, the brunt of which was directed towards villagers, farmers, and lower class Palestinians.

The prisoners were forced to do public and military work, such as drying wetlands, working as servants, collecting and transporting looted refugee property, moving stones from demolished Palestinian homes, paving roads, digging military trenches, burying the dead, and much more.
As one former Palestinian detainee named Habib Mohammed Ali Jarada described in the study, “”At gunpoint, I was made to work all day. At night, we slept in tents. In winter, water was seeping below our bedding, which was dry leaves, cartons and wooden pieces.”
Another prisoner in Umm Khalied, Marwan Iqab al-Yehiya said in an interview with the authors, “We had to cut and carry stones all day [in a quarry]. Our daily food was only one potato in the morning and half dried fish at night. They beat anyone who disobeyed orders.” This labor was interspersed with acts of humiliation by the Israeli guards, with Yehiya speaks of prisoners being “lined up and ordered to strip naked as a punishment for the escape of two prisoners at night.”
“[Jewish] Adults and children came from nearby kibbutz to watch us line up naked and laugh. To us this was most degrading,” he added.
Abuses by the Israeli guards were systematic rife in the camps, the brunt of which was directed towards villagers, farmers, and lower class Palestinians. This was so, the study said, because educated prisoners “knew their rights and had the confidence to argue with and stand up to their captors.”
What is also interestingly noted by the study is how ideological affiliations between prisoners and their guards, had another effects in terms of the relationship between them.
Citing the testimony of Kamal Ghattas, who was captured during the Israeli attack in the Galilee, who said:
We had a fight with our jailers. Four hundred of us confronted 100 soldiers. They brought reinforcements. Three of my friends and I were taken to a cell. They threatened to shoot us. All night we sang the Communist Anthem. They took the four of us to Umm Khaled camp. The Israelis were afraid of their image in Europe. Our contact with our Central Committee and Mapam [Socialist Israeli party] saved us .… I met a Russian officer and told him they took us from our homes although we were non-combatants which was against the Geneva Conventions. When he knew I was a Communist he embraced me and said, “Comrade, I have two brothers in the Red Army. Long live Stalin. Long Live Mother Russia”.

“Anyone who refused to work was shot. They said [the person] tried to escape. Those of us who thought [we] were going to be killed walked backward facing the guards.” – Former Palestinian detainee Tewfic Ahmed Jum’a Ghanim

Yet, the less fortunate Palestinians faced acts of violence which included arbitrary executions and torture, with no recourse. The executions were always defended as stopping “escape attempts” – real or claimed by the guards.It became so common that one former Palestinian detainee of Tel Litwinsky, Tewfic Ahmed Jum’a Ghanim recounted, “Anyone who refused to work was shot. They said [the person] tried to escape. Those of us who thought [we] were going to be killed walked backward facing the guards.”Ultimately, by the end of 1949, Palestinian prisoners were gradually released after heavy lobbying by the ICRC, and other organizations, but was limited in scale and very focused to specific cases.

Prisoners of Arab armies were released in prisoner exchanged, but Palestinian prisoners were unilaterally expelled across the armistice line without any food, supplies, or shelter, and told to walk into the distance, never to return.
It would not be until 1955 when most of the Palestinian civilian prisoners would finally be released.
Forced Labour Camps Atlas. (Source: Salman Abu Sitta,
Palestine Land Society)
An enduring crime
The importance of this study is multi-faceted. Not only does it reveal the numerous violations of international law and conventions of the age, such as 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1929 Geneva Conventions, but also shows how the event shaped the ICRC in the long run.
Because the ICRC was faced with an Israeli belligerent actor who was unwilling to listen and conform to international law and conventions, the ICRC itself had to adapt in what it considered were practical ways to help ensure the Palestinian civilian prisoners were protected under the barest of rights.
Citing his final report, the study quotes de Reynier:
[The ICRC] protested on numerous occasions affirming the right of these civilians to enjoy their freedom unless found guilty and judged by a court. But we have tacitly accepted their POW status because in this way they would enjoy the rights conferred upon them by the Convention. Otherwise, if they were not in the camps they would be expelled [to an Arab country] and in one way or another, they would lead, without resources, the miserable life of refugees.
In the end, the ICRC, and other organizations, were simply ineffective as Israel ignored its condemnations with impunity, in addition to the diplomatic cover of major Western powers.
More importantly, the study sheds more light on the extent of the Israeli crimes during its brutal and bloody birth. And “much more remains to be told,” as the final line of the study states.

The study essentially shows the foundations and beginnings of Israeli policy towards Palestinian civilians that comes in the form of kidnapping, arrest, and detainment.

“It is amazing to me, and many Europeans, who have seen my evidence,” Abu Sitta said, “that a forced labor camp was opened in Palestine three years after they were closed in Germany, and were run by former prisoners – there were German Jewish guards.”“This is a bad reflection of the human spirit, where the oppressed copies an oppressor against innocent lives,” he added.
The study essentially shows the foundations and beginnings of Israeli policy towards Palestinian civilians that comes in the form of kidnapping, arrest, and detainment. This criminality continues till this day. One merely has to read the reports on the hundreds of Palestinians arrested prior, during, and after Israel’s latest war on Gaza mid-summer of this year.
“Gaza today is a concentration camp, no different than the past,” Abu Sitta concluded to Al-Akhbar English.

Yazan is a staff writer for Al-Akhbar English. Follow him on Twitter: @WhySadeye
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