israel refusing to take part in UN investigation into Gaza genocide is like the Nazis refusing to take part in Nuremburg

Israel refuses to probe bombing of civilians in Gaza

MEMO | April 10, 2015
File photo of an hospital in Gaza following an Israeli airstrike last yearFile photo of an hospital in Gaza following an Israeli airstrike last year

Chief Military Advocate General Danny Efroni said he refuses to probe the bombing of civilians in the Gaza Strip during last summer’s war, but will probe potential acts of looting and robbery committed by Israeli soldiers.

Efroni said: “You will never hear me say, ‘The IDF is the most moral army in the world’.”

Nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed during the air, naval and ground strikes on Gaza, the overwhelming majority of whom were civilians. A quarter of the victims were children.

In an interview with Haaretz newspaper, published yesterday, Efroni said: “We will not put soldiers on trial only in order to satisfy the media, which is disturbed by the large number of civilians killed in the war. I am not investigating in order to satisfy anyone. I will not file indictments in order to arrange the statistics of B’Tselem,” which criticised the small number of indictments in the past.

An indication of Efroni and the army’s general approach is the fact that despite the passing of over eight months since the end of the war, no decision has been made regarding whether or not a military probe into the incident in Rafah that has become known as “Black Friday” on 1 August, when the IDF implemented the Hannibal Directive after the abduction of Second Lt. Hadar Goldin.

This criminal and brutal operation involved the launching of very heavy artillery fire and intensive air, ground and naval strikes, resulting in the death of dozens of Palestinian civilians. Some estimates indicate that 150 Palestinians were killed in the attack, the vast majority of whom were civilians. The Israeli army has admitted that it did not warn the civilians in the Rafah area to leave their homes before they launched the intense strike.

Despite this, Efroni said that a Military Police probe is not an insurance policy for the IDF protecting them from being prosecuted at The Hague. “If the probe is a whitewash and not a true investigation, nothing will stop the ICC,” he added.

Israeli human rights organisations B’Tselem and Yesh Din claimed that the investigation system in the IDF is “a failure” and that Israel “is not interested and not capable of investigating violations of Palestinians’ human rights by the security forces.”

B’Tselem also claimed that the IDF investigations do not arrive at the truth, noting that of the 52 Military Police probes opened after Operation Cast Lead, carried out in late 2008 and early 2009, only three resulted in the filing of indictments – and the harshest punishment was for a soldier who stole a credit card.

Banksy goes undercover in Gaza, releases mini-documentary

Source

The unidentified street artist Banksy has re-emerged in Gaza to create a political mini-documentary about life inside the war-torn region.

In the short film, posted to his official website on Wednesday, the artist appears to enter Gaza via underground tunnels before emerging through a metal door and into the rubble.

Typical of Banksy’s work, the video is a pointed political statement about the dire situation for residents of Gaza. At least 2,200 Palestinians were killed in last summer’s war with Israel, according to the United Nations. (Israel argues that the militant group Hamas fires rockets out of civilian areas. At least five Israeli civilians and 67 soldiers were killed in the conflict.)

The video is also sharply satirical, framed as a travel ad that begins by saying, “Make this the year you discover a new destination.” Glowing descriptions flash by such as “nestled in an exclusive setting,” as the cameraman pans to show areas of total destruction, and “watched over by friendly neighbours,” before listing the number of homes blown up by missile fire.

Among the destroyed buildings and bleak reality, Banksy is shown painting a piece titled “Bomb Damage” that depicts the Greek goddess Niobe cowering and weeping in the only part that remains of a building. The goddess, a bereaved mother who lost her children due to pride, illustrates in Greek mythology how the gods will not hesitate to take vengeance on human arrogance.

Banksy

Image: Banksy

An image of this work was uploaded to Banksy’s official Instagram account earlier on Wednesday (as confirmed by his publicist Jo Brooks), as a teaser before the entire video was released.

The documentary also features new work showing a cat playing with a ball of metal, in a shot where children play in the foreground. On his website, Banksy writes: “A local man came up and said ‘Please — what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website — but on the Internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”

Banksy

Image: Banksy

banksy

Image: Banksy

The final piece released is of a watchtower merry-go-round, painted in black on the side of a building. Banksy wrote: “Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons — they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost everyday.”

The video ends with a statement: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful — we don’t remain neutral.”

Banksy

Image: Banksy

The Palestinian territory is not a new base for the British graffiti artist; in 2005 he made headlines for his art on Israel’s West Bank barrier. There were nine images in total, including one work with a girl attempting to float over the wall holding balloons, one of children playing on the sand with a hole above them showing a beach in the wall, and another of a dove with an olive branch and a bullseye on its chest.

Once again, Banksy has lent his public profile to a highly political situation.

banksy kids

A work on the wall.

Inside Gaza: I’ve seen so much blood – living here is like waiting to die

Inside Gaza: I’ve seen so much blood – living here is like waiting to die

Six months after the ceasefire, amid the devastation of Gaza City, artist Ayman Abu Jouri tells Mirror reporter Chris Hughes that dead bodies “no longer horrify me”

Shocked: Mirror’s Chris, left, visiting ruins of mosque

Most of the streets in war-torn Gaza bear the scars of fighting – houses ­pockmarked with bullet holes, mosques flattened, their domes reduced to ground level.

Burned-out cars litter pavements, their frames blasted into grotesque shapes. Every hundred yards there are apartment blocks reduced to rubble.

A young girl in pristine school uniform scampers past the wreckage.

Philip Coburn Chris Hughes in Gaza
Living in fear: Children walk past car wreck

In the worst-hit areas ­families sit in front rooms with a wall missing, their privacy blasted open by air-strikes.

It is as if Israel’s troops left the ­Palestinian enclave only last week.

But the Jewish state’s last war against Gaza’s militants, which killed 2,205 ­Palestinians and 72 Israelis, ended almost six months ago.

Despite the ceasefire, Gaza’s struggle worsens daily.

In downtown Gaza City artist Ayman Abu Jouri, 30, tells me: “I have seen so much blood and dead people in three wars here that it no longer horrifies me. That thought keeps me awake at night. Living here feels like waiting to die.”

Gaza’s eastern district of Shujaia was the scene of terrible fighting.

Areas the size of football pitches are reduced to rubble and still the locals wait for help from aid agencies.

Philip Coburn Chris Hughes in Gaza
Aftermath: Children in Quda, Gaza City, an area which has been destroyed by fighting

The UK’s Department For International Development and Medical Aid For Palestinians has this week drafted in a team of British surgeons to perform vital operations on some of the wounded.

In their wrecked fourth floor flat, Abu Yasser, 28, and his brother Ramzi, try to rebuild a floor smashed by a missile from an Israeli F-16 jet.

Showing typical Palestinian ­generosity, he invites us into the ­uninhabitable property – paid for by bank loans that will take 10 years to pay off – and ­apologises for not offering us tea.

He smiles grimly, saying: “We survived. But war will come again.

“We were not firing rockets at them – or digging tunnels. We’re not fighters. We’re civilians living our lives. Look at what they did to us.”

He points to an Israeli surveillance balloon just over the border and adds: “They can probably see us now… just look at what they did. Why?”

Nearby, children play in the rubble of another apartment block, imitating their fathers by pretending to do rebuilding work with spades they can barely lift.

Philip Coburn Chris Hughes in Gaza
Bombed: Family living in an apartment with an outer wall destroyed by Israeli missile

The stench of explosives and burning still hangs over the city. Some of the devastation is as bad as I experienced in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Schoolchildren pour out of their lessons and are forced to walk home past scenes of horror. Gaza is desperate. Government workers are on half pay and aid networks are at breaking point.

The people’s main hope, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, has just £65million of the £450million it needs for the reconstruction project, which could take three years.

The armed Hamas police I saw here on every street corner just two years ago are much less on show amid rumours they are not being paid a full wage.

Philip Coburn Chris Hughes in Gaza
Trauma: One of the young survivors

And there are fears of another onslaught, should the two main fighting factions here – Hamas and Islamic Jihad – launch fresh rocket attacks across the border into Israel.

Gaza is ruled strictly by Islamist group Hamas. The people see it as a better ­alternative than the supposed unity government because they fear a repeat of the civil war nearly a decade ago.

Yet those civilians who claim they had nothing to do with the militant attacks on Israel that sparked the ground ­invasion are so traumatised they cannot see a future.

Father-of-two Eyad Abu Reda, 34, also found his home ­demolished when he returned to Khuza’a, south east Gaza, after four days of imprisonment and interrogation by Israeli troops.

He claims he and 80 other men were rounded up, stripped and marched blindfolded across the border.

Philip Coburn Chris Hughes in Gaza
Struggling: Eyad Abu Reda with his two children

Eyad now lives with his family in a converted shipping container on the edge of his blitzed village.

He says: “I was accused of being a terrorist. They beat me, forced me to strip and blindfolded me, along with 80 others.

“They found some small farming devices I used to feed my chickens.

“They claimed I was using it to make bombs. I told them it was for farming and if I were the terrorist they claimed I was, I would have fled with the fighters.”

He goes on: “They made me walk for miles into Israel, where I was detained, beaten and accused of knowing where the tunnels were.

“I swear I did not know. I was so frightened. I told them, ‘I am not a fighter, they already fled this place’. I stayed because I am a civilian with my family. I said, ‘You found me being a civilian, with my civilian family’.

“I saw tanks, so many troops and ­explosions, worse than anything I saw in the movies. I was so scared and they beat me up.

“Even when they released me back into Gaza they called me a liar.

“And they took my mobile phone with all my ­memories. When I saw my family they had thought I’d been executed. We wept for days.”

Philip Coburn Chris Hughes in Gaza
Despair: Mohammed Abu Reda with wife Masoun and six of their eight children

Shaking with nerves, he adds: “Now I cannot sleep and I have terrible ­nightmares. I need to see a psychologist.

“Everybody here does. If there is a war crimes ­investigation I am not frightened to give evidence. I lost everything.”

As well as the deaths, the war left more than 10,000 people injured. About 100,000 of Gaza’s 1.7 million population are now homeless.

Another member of Eyad’s family, Mohammed Abu Reda, 39, also lives in a converted metal container with his wife Masoun and their eight children, aged from four to 19.

Engineer Mohammed borrowed ­thousands of pounds to buy a dream home for his family, only to have it demolished by Israeli explosives four months after they moved in.

He says: “This was our new home, I am deep in debt and all we have is memories, even if these are damaged by war. I don’t know how long we will have to live in this container.”

Mohammed adds: “My ­children cannot sleep and my nine year-old ­continually wets his bed at night and has terrible nightmares. Before the war my children were all doing so well at school. But now their work is suffering. The children do not talk about what happened.”

His daughter Dooa, 10, wants to be a teacher.

When we ask her if she will teach pupils about the war, she says: “No – I will not. That is a very sad thing.

“It is a very sad memory. I remember our beautiful new home. We had our toys there and we were happy.

“We used to play all over the house. All that has gone now.”

Philip Coburn Chris Hughes in Gaza
Pain: Child at camp for the homeless

Today Tony Blair visited ­Palestinian families still taking shelter in a UN-run school in Gaza.

The Middle East envoy described the slow pace of reconstruction as a “crime” and said some countries had failed to deliver on funding.

He called on Hamas to clarify if it was part of a “broader Islamist movement with regional designs” or if it would a accept a long-term peace deal with Israel.

Mr Blair urged the Jewish state to lift trade restrictions on Gaza.

 

Hamas Urges its Lebanon and Syria Branches to Launch Attacks on Israel


Published Thursday, February 5, 2015

A senior Hamas leader called Wednesday for the formation of Palestinian militant groups loyal to the Gaza-based resistance movement in refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria in order to attack Israeli-occupied territories.

Mahmoud Zahar told reporters in the Gaza Strip that Lebanese and Syrian branches of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, should launch attacks on Israel “to help us liberate Palestine.”

Hamas has a significant political influence among Palestinians in Lebanon, especially in refugee camps where the resistance movement has an armed presence.

Due to tensions amongst different Palestinian groups, the movement in the past years has been busy protecting itself from rival factions, while also maintaining stability within the crowded and arms-loaded refugee camps.

The failure of the Lebanese government to meet the humanitarian and social needs of Palestinian refugees has forced Hamas and other Palestinian parties to become mainly concerned with underlying social injustices, meeting Palestinians’ basic needs, and countering stereotypes regarding the camps being a security threat or a hub for terrorists, while also struggling to assert the centrality of the fight against Israel.

For many armed Palestinians within the camps, the right of return, a political principle asserting that Palestinians have a right to return to pre-1948 Palestine, has become marginalized, with many getting engaged in conflicts both in Lebanon and neighbouring Syria.

Hezbollah, a Lebanese resistance movement, has asserted itself as the leading and most prominent movement against Israel in Lebanon, especially after liberating South Lebanon in 2000 after 22 years of Israeli-occupation.

The 2006 Israeli summer aggression on Lebanon killed some 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers killed by Hezbollah fighters.

Meanwhile in Syria, a number of Palestinians have found themselves, either voluntarily or involuntarily, caught up in the four-year-old conflict that has affected Palestinian refugee camps all over the country. Many decided to join armed groups seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah has intervened militarily in support of Assad, describing the fight in Syria as “existential” and arguing that the conflict in the country targets the resistance as a whole.

Hezbollah’s Iran-supplied weapons pass through Damascus, Syria’s capital, hence making Syria crucial for the group’s weapons buildup.

Despite differences in Syria, both Hamas and Hezbollah say the alliance between the resistance movements remains motivated first and foremost by the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said in an in-depth three-hour interview with Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen television last month that Hezbollah was seeking to build a strategic alliance with Hamas and other resistance groups in Palestine, saying that Hamas demonstrated a will to strengthen relations again with Iran and Hezbollah despite differences regarding the Syrian conflict.

“Even if Hamas chooses to mend its relationship with the Syrian regime, Syria might have some difficulty accepting this due to past events and developments,” he said, adding that Palestinians in Syria have joined oppositions groups but there was “no proof” that Hamas was working with a certain group.

Moreover, Zahar on Wednesday denied “any interference” by Hamas in Egypt, which last month declared the Brigades a terrorist group and accused it of aiding a spate of militant attacks on security personnel in the restive Sinai Peninsula.

“Our guns are always trained on the enemy,” Zahar said, referring to Israel.

For 51 days this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip — by air, land and sea — killing more than 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, and injuring 10,626.

The Israeli offensive ended on August 26 with an Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal.

On Monday, hundreds of Hamas supporters marched in the Gaza Strip to protest the Egyptian court decision.

In a speech to the crowd, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said that Saturday’s ruling against the militant group’s Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades was “political” and meant to “conceal failure and the lack of security in Egypt at this time.”

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian authorities have also declared a terrorist group and have repressed systematically since the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohammed Mursi, from the presidency in 2013.

The Palestinian faction has repeatedly denied accusations that it has carried out attacks in the North African state, saying it cannot act against Egypt’s national security.

In November, Egypt decided to create a one kilometer-deep buffer zone in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with Gaza by clearing more than 800 houses, displacing more than 1,100 families, and destroying and neutralizing hundreds of subterranean tunnels.

Under Israeli blockade by air, land and sea since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh — the Rafah crossing — is controlled by Egypt.

For years, the Gaza Strip has depended on construction materials smuggled into the territory through a network of tunnels linking it to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

However, the recent crackdown on the tunnels by the Egyptian army has effectively neutralized hundreds of tunnels, severely affecting Gaza’s construction sector.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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“The most moral army in the world” steals money & threatens to hit wife, daughter & kids

“We will hit your wife, your daughter, and your kids”

Early Tuesday morning January 20, 2015 at 3:00 AM, Israeli occupation forces invaded the home of the Abu Maria family in the village of Beit Ummar. The occupation army used explosives to open the front door, surprising the sleeping family. This is the second violent night raid the family has experienced this week. Israeli soldiers were looking for Nidal, Ghassan, and Mohammed Abu Maria, three brothers who were summoned by the Israeli intelligence for questioning.

Window broken during Israeli army nigh raid (photo by ISM).

The mother of the family, 42 years old, was attacked as soon as the invading soldiers entered the home. Her arms were violently jerked behind her back, and once she was tied up, she was beaten on her head, neck and arms. One of the family’s five sons, Mohye, 18 years old, was cut on his face, neck and fingers. The attacking soldiers demanded he tell them where his brothers were.

The family’s father, Ahmed Abu Maria, has been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation forces for four months. The morning of the attack, Ahmed was taken into interrogation where Israeli investigators informed him that his family would be targeted that night. Ahmed related that he was told: “Tonight we will go to your family’s home. We will hit your wife, your daughter and your kids.” He was not allowed to warn or communicate these threats in any way to his family. The next day, Ahmed was allowed to contact his family and hear what happened to them during the night raid. The family describes this as psychological torture, designed to put pressure on the imprisoned father.

Photo by ISM.

The occupation forces remained at the family’s home until nearly 7:00 AM. When they finally decided to depart the house, the invading soldiers left behind two official requests in Hebrew for the appearance of Nidal, Ghassan, and Mohammed the following morning at 8:30 AM at the prison in the nearby illegal settlement of Kfar Etzion. The family tried to explain to the occupation forces that two of the sons did not live in Beit Ummar, but farther north and it would be impossible for them to make the trip in time.

The summons for Nidal and Mohammed (photo by ISM).

During the violent invasion at the Abu Maria’s house, the occupation forces also searched the neighboring uncle’s home for the youths. When they did not find the boys there as expected, and the family refused to tell the authorities exactly where they were living, the occupation forces stole over 3000 NIS (approximately $760 USD) from the uncle. This money was his life savings; without it, he does not know how he will survive.

Next morning the 20-year-old middle brother Ghassan Ahmad Abu Maria presented himself at Kfar Etzion prison as requested and was arrested. He is currently being held without charges and the family has been unable to get any information on his condition.

Reshaping the city of Rafah in Sinai: Expulsion threatens war with the tribes

 

Smoke rises after a house was blown up during a military operation by Egyptian security forces in the Egyptian city of Rafah near the border with southern Gaza Strip on November 2, 2014, as Egypt began setting up a buffer zone along the border with the Hamas-run territory to prevent militant infiltration and arms smuggling following a wave of deadly attacks. AFP/Said Khatib
Published Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Along the border with the Gaza Strip, the Engineer Corps of the Egyptian Armed Forces is carrying out ground clearing operations following the demolition of hastily evacuated citizens’ homes, in preparation for creating a buffer zone with the Strip.
Sinai – A multitude of machines, including excavators, bulldozers, and transport vehicles, have been active on the border area from 5 am to 5 pm every day. After the homes are blown up, the bulldozers fill the trucks with the debris. Other machines level the ground, erasing all sign of human life, under the supervision of senior officials from the armed forces in the North Sinai governorate.
The head of the army command in Rafah, Major General Mohammed al-Saadani, told Al-Akhbar that the committee formed to catalogue the houses and evaluate their actual worth is still receiving requests from citizens and is finalizing procedures for receiving compensation. He added that some of the payments had been cashed, in addition to 900 Egyptian pounds ($128) urgently provided to each family. He explained that most families had left their homes.
According to a security source in Rafah, military committees are sweeping and leveling the area and work on the creation of the buffer zone has already begun.
In the meantime, dozens of families are still waiting in a big courtyard inside Rafah after evacuating their homes and being unable to find alternative residences. They remain in the open, living in difficult conditions. This led several local associations to collect blankets and some tents to send to them, but the army has banned tents in the Rafah region.

“But today, after two revolutions, we have been displaced from the homes we built with our own sweat and blood.” – Riad Saleh al-Qunbuz, displaced resident

Riad Saleh al-Qunbuz, who was displaced from the border part of the town, saw his house being demolished as part of the army’s plan to confront terrorism in northern Sinai. “Since 1986, we had been dreaming of the development of North Sinai and particularly Rafah,” he told Al-Akhbar. “But today, after two revolutions, we have been displaced from the homes we built with our own sweat and blood.”

“We endured what no human on this earth could handle. We endured the mistakes of all the regimes and presidents. We patiently waited for the promises made by all the governments. But none of them came to fruition. Yet we pay the highest price [for the war on] terrorism. We pay with the land of our forefathers. We leave the homes we dreamt of owning for years, in return for LE300 ($43) in compensation to rent an apartment.”

Qunbuz points to a pile of furniture.

 “This is the furniture of my two-storey home, strewn on its rubble. I don’t know how or where to take it or my family. I want to stress that we still haven’t received any compensation, although we were promised that the compensation will be paid on the same night of evacuating the homes and leveling them to the ground,” he said.

Ahmed Suleiman stood next to the rubble of his own home in Rafah.

“They demolished my home. Everybody is selling their furniture for cheap. The areas of the demolished homes were vast, since our tribal character and culture requires it. And God awarded many of us a large number of children,” he explained. “But we do not know where to go or what is the real reason for evicting us from our land. None of us were implicated in acts of sabotage.”

“Our children are suffering here. Although we live without schools, education, or minimum care, we are satisfied with this and holding on to our ancestors’ lands. Actually, we have suffered the most from the operations carried out by the takfiri groups here. And now we are paying the price of their actions,” he added.

The decision to evacuate a 500-meter wide strip adjacent to Egypt’s border with Gaza towards the center of the city was implemented without taking any measures to protect the residents or transfer them to a safe location after being forced to evacuate their homes. Egyptian authorities are using this plan to gauge the feasibility of the decision, in preparation for similar measures to empty Rafah in North Sinai from its residents.
A few days following the implementation of the 500-meter evacuation decision, Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb issued decree 1957/2014. It called for isolating Rafah, based on the defense minister’s recommendations for the strategic direction in the northeastern sector of the North Sinai governorate.
The area cordoned off by the decree was: “Abu Shanar – al-Rasm north of Sadat Square for a distance of 880 meters, southeast of Sadat Square for 500 meters, southeast of Sadat Square for 1.5 kilometers, north of Goz Abou Raad for 400 meters, Goz Abou Raad, East of Goz Abou Raad for 2 kilometers, west of al-Madfouna for 1 kilometer, and northeast Atlet al-Tayyara for 2 kilometers at the intersection of the political border line.”
The second article of the decree called for the evacuation of the area mentioned above and the provision of alternative residences for the evacuees. In the event of refusal to evacuate amicably, the decree called for the seizure of property.
Article 3 of the decision stated that compensation would be estimated based on the Public Mobilization Law and the two Presidential decisions, 2152 of the year 1960 and 540 of 1987, related to the creation of committees to estimate and compensate seized property.
The decree puts into force the sixth item of Article 3 of the Emergency Law, allowing the president or a delegated authority to evacuate areas where a state of emergency is declared. This is in addition to item four of the same article that allows the confiscation of real estate and movable property.
The people of North Sinai reacted with fury and resentment towards the prime minister’s decision. They considered this to be an extension of the cleansing Rafah region, from the center to the peripheries, following the expulsion of its residents to different areas. This would lead to the dispersion and breakup of families and the elimination of community and family bonds.
According to activist Mona al-Zamlout, the media “brainwashed the Egyptians into believing the evacuation in the Egyptian-side of Rafah serves the war on terror. However, Rafah does not have terrorists and did not partake in any violence against the army. Citizens of North Sinai are not going to believe that displacing the people of Rafah is intended to fight terrorism.”

”Citizens of North Sinai are not going to believe that displacing the people of Rafah is intended to fight terrorism.” – Mona al-Zamlout, activist

“The problem with Rafah is the tunnels [with Gaza]. If the state’s aim was national security, it would have created a free zone and commercial port after destroying the tunnels, which would have employed all of Sinai’s young people. But Egypt took the easy road, expulsion under the pretext of eradicating terrorism coming through the tunnels with the Gaza Strip, which kept functioning until the moment of evacuation and with the knowledge of officials in the armed forces.”

Political activist Said Aatiq, from the town of Sheikh Zuweid, indicated that “the people of Sinai are not happy with the situation in Rafah, since the citizens of Sinai will be the first to be harmed. For many years, they suffered from marginalization and exclusion, feeling as if they were third class citizens. Some of them feel the state treats them as foreigners and not as one of its own.”
He added that several Sinai residents who collaborated with the army had been targeted by “terrorist organizations” in the peninsula. But the military command did not recognize them. “The state treats the people of Sinai as security informers and not as real partners for the stability of the Sinai territories. Everyone in Sinai is under suspicion. Officials did not involve the people of Sinai in a real partnership to confront terrorism.”
Masad Abu Fajr, an expert on tribal affairs from Sinai and a former member of the Committee of Fifty to Amend the Constitution, considered the expulsion of the residents to be a declaration of war by the Egyptian state against the tribes of Sinai. It declared war against the three biggest and most brutal tribes in Sinai, which are, “from the south to the north: al-Tarabin, al-Sawarka, and al-Armilat.”
“It is a real shame to even propose the idea of expulsion for discussion,” he continued. “Expulsion is a crime the moment it is discussed.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
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!

Gaza cut off: Israel closes border crossings indefinitely

http://rt.com/news/201579-israel-gaza-border-crossing/

Palestinians walk past trucks loaded with gravel at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip  (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Palestinians walk past trucks loaded with gravel at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip (Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Israel has said it’s shutting the only two operating Gaza border crossings indefinitely. This comes a day after a projectile hit Israel from the strip, but caused no damage. Border closures threaten to isolate already devastated Gaza completely.

READ MORE: Inquiry launched into Israeli attacks on UN Gaza schools

The move will affect both the Kerem Shalom and Erez border crossings, Haartez reported, quoting Israel’s defense establishment. The authorities have notified the Palestinians of the decision.

Meanwhile, the three other crossings into Gaza are still not operational and the passage from the area into Egypt – the Rafah crossing – remains closed.

From now on and until further notice, only critical humanitarian aid going into Gaza will be allowed via the Erez crossing.

The news comes after the Iron Dome defense system detected a projectile fired from Gaza overnight on Friday. There was no damage reported and no one has claimed responsibility for the incident.

“Overnight a rocket or mortar launched from Gaza struck southern Israel. No damage or injuries reported,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear if Israel’s move on Sunday was connected to the incident.

READ MORE: International effort raises $5.4 billion for Gaza

Meanwhile, Egypt has stepped up its plans to create a buffer zone on the Gaza border, in Cairo’s ongoing campaign against underground tunnels dug from the restive Sinai Peninsula, Ynet News reported. In Rafah, buildings are being demolished, while some of the local residents are leaving, fearing a new escalation of violence in the region.

Border closures threaten to cut off Gaza from much-needed humanitarian aid, which could make a dire situation in the area even worse. The Gaza Strip requires substantial rebuilding after Israel’s 50-day Operation Protective Edge this summer left much of its infrastructure in ruins.

READ MORE: ‘18,000 homes destroyed in Gaza, tens of thousands lack facilities to go back home’ – UN

Indiscriminate Attacks and Deliberate Killing: Israel Takes Revenge on Gaza by Killing Civilians

http://www.euromid.org/en/article/625/Indiscriminate-Attacks-and-Deliberate-Killing:-Israel-Takes-Revenge-on-Gaza-by-Killing-Civilians

Author: Euromid Observer

Geneva – Between 8 July and 26 August, 2014, Israeli forces conducted an estimated 60,664 raids (launched from land, air and sea) into the Gaza Strip. This report documents that in many cases, these attacks were indiscriminate. Not only did Israeli forces fail to take sufficient measures to protect noncombatants, including children and the disabled, but in a number of instances they deliberately targeted locations with concentrations of civilians. Reports from physicians on the ground strongly suggest that Israel deployed “unconventional weapons” (nail bombs and DIME munitions), which are designed to cause maximum damage and thus are not considered permissible in densely populated areas — either legally or morally.

According to international law, attacks are considered indiscriminate when they are not directed at specific military targets, measures are not taken to limit the effects and no attempt is made to differentiate between combatants and civilians. Under this definition, the Euro-Mid investigation documented here demonstrates that Israel committed numerous indiscriminate attacks in Gaza during the July and August aggression.

Likewise, this investigation shows that the so-called “warnings” issued by the government of Israel, typically in the form of telephone calls or “roof knocks,” were insufficient to offer protection. The actual strikes typically occurred less than two minutes after the warnings and in a few cases, less than one minute. There was no time to flee – particularly for those with disabilities – even if there was somewhere safe for them to turn. At the same time, Israeli armed forces obstructed emergency responders from reaching the wounded for long periods of time.

Based on these testimonies, Euro-Mid concludes that Israeli armed forces deliberately and knowingly targeted massive numbers of noncombatants, even though they already knew (or should have known) that their actions would result in a large number of civilian casualties.

Therefore, our recommendations include a thorough investigation by the United Nations, with backing from the Security Council – or, if vetoed due to a longstanding practice of protecting the Israeli government from censure, the General Assembly. Likewise, we call on all state parties to the Geneva Convention to insist on conformance with its provisions in their respective national courts.

The reconstruction of Gaza is needed for Palestinians to be able to live. However, without accountability for crimes and protection of human rights, it will be a life without dignity or hope.

The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization dedicated to exposing human rights violations and defending human rights. The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights headquarter is based in Geneva, Switzerland, with regional offices in the Middle-East.

To download full report: Here

Gaza: How the resistance manufactures its rockets with help from Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah

Palestinian Islamic Jihad members prepare al-Quds rockets during preparations to fire missiles into Israel, in the east of Gaza City, 20 December 2008.
Published Thursday, October 30, 2014Al-Akhbar
Necessity is the mother of invention. The Resistance has recently demonstrated its biggest achievements yet in the fight with Israel. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that Gaza, and behind it Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, had anticipated the day when the borders and the sea surrounding Gaza would be sealed off. Today, Egypt and Israel are stepping up their coordination to make the sea off limits to the resistance, while in the south, their armies are working to establish a buffer zone and even a water trench, in the hope of putting an end to the smuggling of rockets from the Iranian desert to the Mediterranean.
“Lift your feet, we have been and will remain under them, at your service,” said Abu Ali, a commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), in broken Arabic to a resistance fighter from Gaza who was attending a training session in Iran in 2012. This was in response to criticisms voiced against the Iranians for not having transferred rocket-making technology to Gaza prior to the Israeli assault in 2008. Abu Jihad, the Gazan fighter, had asked his instructor, “Where were you in the first war (Operation Cast Lead)?”
Before 2012, when resistance fighters used to travel via Syria, the authorities in Damascus allocated special conduits for Gazan resistance fighters.
Cars would wait for them on the tarmac and then take them to the factions to which they were affiliated. A prominent Palestinian leader says,
“If their trips were scheduled on the same day, they would change planes without being asked about visas or passports.”
In Tehran, the resistance fighters attended intensive training sessions. Over the many months they spent there, they gained invaluable skills, starting with on-hands application of theories, to testing weapons and tactics in environments simulating the geography in Gaza. For instance, they were taken on board Iranian HESA Shahed helicopters to inspect the sites where the rockets fell, to examine their accuracy and effectiveness, according to Abu Jihad.
The resistance fighters transferred their experience to Gaza, where they helped manufacture and develop rockets, and provide training on how to emplace and camouflage them to avoid the occupation’s eyes in the sky and on the ground. Yet the training did not come only from Iran, as fighters also underwent the same kind of training in Syria. There were also the occasional incidents. In one such incident, during training on hitting targets in the Syrian Desert, a rocket fell near a dormitory and wounded a number of soldiers.
With the end of 2001, al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, started manufacturing for the first time Qassam rockets. The rockets at the time had a range of no more than 15 km, and in many instances, rockets would fall near their launching pads, or even explode before their launch. These rockets mostly targeted the settlement of Sderot, which lies 4 kilometers from the eastern border of the Gaza Strip.
In those years, the resistance fighters did not have much experience in manufacturing weapons, not to mention the difficulty of procuring the needed raw materials. But since 2005, following the withdrawal of the Israeli enemy from the Philadelphia Corridor, the resistance breathed a sigh of relief. The southern border with Egypt was now open to the resistance fighters, creating better conditions for smuggling in weapons and raw materials through tunnels to manufacture rockets. Since that year and until 2012, Iran and Hezbollah sought to help develop the rockets of the Palestinian resistance to reach longer ranges. A new stage began in which fighters from Gaza flocked to Lebanon, and collaborated with the resistance there to bring in more weapons and military equipment.

A new stage began in which fighters from Gaza flocked to Lebanon, and collaborated with the resistance there to bring in more weapons and military equipment.

The common belief that boats snuck to the shore is inaccurate. Rather, weapons would be dropped in certain points in the sea very far from the shore. Water currents washed them off on the shore, to be retrieved by divers at night. Another notable smuggling route went through Sudan, Egypt, the Sinai, and then Gaza via tunnels, according to one prominent Hamas official.
Later on, the Iranians realized the logistical obstacle facing the resistance in smuggling in weapons, namely, the difficulty of bringing in large rockets through the tunnels. Subsequently, the IRGC sought to develop Fajr-5 rockets that could be disassembled and then reassembled in Palestine.
The first Fajr-5 rockets arrived in Gaza in 2011, and were used for the first time in Operation Pillar of Cloud in 2012, when the Palestinian resistance bombed Tel Aviv for the first time. At the time, Israel accused the IRGC of supplying rockets to the resistance. The commander of the IRGC Mohammad Ali Jafari responded by confirming the transfer of Fajr rockets to the resistance, and added that he would be seeking to supply them with other rocket systems.
Fajr was one of the weapons that had a great impact on the work of the resistance. But there was a limit to the amount this type of rocketry the resistance could smuggle in. In this regard, Abu Jihad said that the concern over bringing in limited amounts of weapons, in addition to the possibility of security deterioration and the tightening of the blockade in a way that would prevent the entry of weapons into Gaza, were all issues on the mind of IRGC officials during the training. Abu Jihad said the trainers developed special courses on manufacturing rockets, after the Iranians gathered a lot of information on the raw materials available in Gaza and in its vicinity. Abu Jihad said, “So we made rockets ourselves in Iran, using materials similar to those available in Gaza, and we verified their effectiveness.”
The ‘golden era’ of Hosni Mubarak
Leading sources in Islamic Jihad said that the majority of weapons that arrived in Gaza and used in the battles of 2012 and 2014 had come through during Hosni Mubarak’s term, especially in 2011 and the years that followed. The sources added that in those years, the authorities in Egypt turned a blind eye to smuggling in Sinai, which was done with the help of tribes there in return for huge sums of money.
In this regard, a Hamas official said that the resistance would agree with Egyptian officers to allocate a specified number of days in which the resistance fighters would smuggle weapons freely. Then under President Mohammed Morsi, in whose term the eight-day conflict (Pillar of Cloud) took place and the Fajr rocket was deployed for the first, the resistance stockpiled a fair amount of rockets and hardware. However, Palestinian sources stress that smuggling weapons under Morsi was more difficult than under Mubarak, though they say it was easier under him to move fighters out of Gaza for training. There were even reports that the deposed president had issued special cards to facilitate the movement of people out of Gaza without harassment from the security services.
After the war in 2012, the enemy learned the smuggling routes into Gaza, and targeted weapons convoys and rocket caches. In late 2012, the Israeli air force bombed a weapons convoy in Sudan, said to be on its way to Gaza. At that point, the Iranians realized that the best option to supply rockets to the Palestinian resistance was to help manufacture them locally instead of smuggling them.
Accordingly, Tehran worked with Hezbollah to train Gazans on setting up plants to manufacture rockets, as one leader said. Operation Protective Edge in 2014 demonstrated the worth of months of training in Iran. The phrase “locally made” was used extensively in resistance statements during that conflict.
The Iranians did not deny that the rockets fired by the resistance were locally made. Assistant Foreign Minister of Iran, Hossein Amir Abdul-Lahian, said the IRGC had transferred rocket-making technology to the Palestinians.
Regarding drones, Islamic Jihad sources said that Iran had delivered three Ababil UAVs to the Qassam Brigades to carry out certain missions, but that these planes were downed as was declared.
Generally speaking, in the recent war, locally made rockets (e.g. Qassam and M75), which were available in abundant number, helped sustain the rate of rocket fire at the same level until the last day of the battle, while the Quds Brigades used the Buraq 70 and Buraq 100 rockets to bomb Tel Aviv and other cities.

[I]t was decided that these [locally made] rockets must carry a small explosive head, but must have a higher range, for both combat- and political-related calculations.

Clearly, the design and propulsion fuel for both types of rockets come from the same source. At that stage, there was a debate between the leaders of the resistance (Lebanese, Palestinian and Iranian) regarding the nature of locally made rockets, and it was decided that these rockets must carry a small explosive head, but must have a higher range, for both combat- and political-related calculations.
Leading figures in the Palestinian resistance explained the difference in cost between manufacturing rockets locally and smuggling them from Iran. They said, “Locally made rockets are almost as powerful as smuggled ones, but cost less. The cost of a rocket like the one used to bomb Tel Aviv does not exceed $5,000, while a smuggled rocket may cost up to $15,000.” Regarding short-range rockets, for example, the cost of a smuggled 107-type rocket is around $800, while the same rocket can be made locally for $110.
In the recent war, the Palestinian resistance continued to manufacture rockets, but the problem it faced was how to transport them from the plants to their launching platforms. Resistance sources in Gaza said, “The location of the rocket manufacturing plants is unknown to most fighters. Some factions even bar the manufacturers of the rockets themselves to know the location of the places they work in.”
Despite the local manufacturing of rockets, smuggling has not come to a complete halt. What is successfully smuggled, whether via the sea or the Sinai desert, is not usually disclosed. Sources in Islamic Jihad say that currently, the reliance is on local manufacturing, “thanks to the presence of excellent raw materials at a good price in the markets.”
Certainly, the recent war is being assessed carefully by Iran, Hezbollah, and even Syria to learn what needs to be done, amid a large influx of financial support for the armed wings of the resistance after the war.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
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Israeli General: Hezbollah Propably Dug Tunnels across Leb. Border, No Evidence

Local Editor

An Israeli army general said on Wednesday that the Zionist entity believes Hezbollah has probably dug tunnels across the border from Lebanon in preparation for any future war although it has no conclusive evidence.

“We have no positive information meaning that there are tunnels. The situation is not similar to what there was around the Gaza Strip,” Major-General Yair Golan, commander of Israeli forces on the Lebanese and Syrian fronts, told Army Radio, according to Reuters news agency.

Israeli Major-General Yair Golan

“That said, this idea of going below ground is not foreign to Lebanon and is not foreign to Hezbollah and so we have to suppose as a working assumption that there are tunnels. These have to be looked for and prepared for.”

Israel’s vulnerability to tunnels was laid bare during its war against Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas in Gaza in July and August. What began as shelling exchanges with Hamas, escalated into a ground offensive in a bid to destroy secret passages dug from Gaza into the occupied territories to launch surprise attacks.

Residents of northern Israel, who were battered by Hezbollah rockets during a month-long war in 2006, have at times reported underground noises suggesting that guerrillas were burrowing across the frontier in a new tactic. The Israeli military says searches it has carried out have turned up nothing.

Golan said Hezbollah appeared unlikely to seek a renewed conflict with Israel.

Were that to happen, he said, Israel would hit Lebanese targets hard but would also suffer from a Hezbollah rocket arsenal believed to be 10 times more potent than Hamas’s.

“We will not be able to provide the umbrella that was provided in the south by Iron Dome,” Golan said, referring to an aerial interceptor system.

“We and Hezbollah are conducting a kind of mutual-deterrence balance,” he said, while cautioning that isolated flare-ups on the border could still boil over into war.

“There is no absolute deterrence. Each side has its pain threshold, its restraint threshold, which when passed prompt it to take action.”

Source: Reuters

29-10-2014 – 13:34 Last updated 29-10-2014 – 13:34

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“Israel” War Forces Lacked Training, Equipment to Tackle Gaza War Tunnels: Haaretz

Local Editor

The “Israel” War Forces’ ability to destroy Hamas’ tunnels during the recent so-called “Operation Protective Edge” aggression against seized Gaza was impeded by large gaps in training and a lack of appropriate equipment, an “Israeli” Haaretz investigation shows as it published on Friday.


The “Israel” War Forces’ ability to destroy Hamas’ tunnels during the recent so-called “Operation Protective Edge” aggression against seized Gaza was impeded by large gaps in training and a lack of appropriate equipment, an “Israeli” Haaretz investigation shows as it published on Friday.
Haaretz wrote that, “Despite knowing about Hamas’ tunnels, the “Israeli” cabinet was still caught unawares by events this summer,” as it said one of its findings in a major investigation into the so-called “Operation Protective Edge” shows.

According to Haaretz, the current investigation is based on conversations with some 20 key players involved in the aggression and its authorization – ministers who are members of the security cabinet, senior “Israel” War Forces officers, intelligence personnel – as well as officers and soldiers who participated in the tunnels’ destruction.

Hence, the “current picture reveals gaps in a number of areas,” Haaretz wrote.

During the aggression, the “Israel” War Forces [IDF] occupied an area about two kilometers wide on the outskirts of the built-up Palestinian area, along the length of the [seized] Gaza Strip from the north to the south, in order to destroy 32 “attack” tunnels located by the various branches of “Israeli” intelligence,” Haaretz said.

However, it said,

“These gaps, along with sketchy operational plans that were updated and completed only at the last minute, led to the prolongation of the ground “operation” [invasion] well beyond the security establishment’s original estimate. The delays also stemmed from the fact that the security cabinet vacillated at length over whether to approve the action against the tunnels, due to reservations on the part of the security establishment itself.”

“The ground forces lacked the appropriate means to blow up the tunnels, once they were located,” Haaretz further said.

Preparation and training problems

“What was understood within GOC Southern Command, the Gaza Division and Military Intelligence was not sufficiently translated into action in the rest of the IDF [“Israel” War Forces]. At GOC Central Command, they had begun talking about subterranean warfare, in bunkers and tunnels… But on the ground, the army contented itself with constructing relatively short tunnels at three command training bases… A visit to one of them about a year ago did not create a favorable impression: It looked like an ordinary fighting trench, with a roof over it, not a complex combat area,” Haaretz said.

Additionally,

“Most of the regular infanatry battalions and special units experienced the tunnels only via brief training maneuvers that were almost devoid of real content. “We shimmied down a rope into the opening of an area that resembled a nature reserve…That was the whole extent of our acquaintance with subterranean combat,” relate soldiers from an infantry brigade scouting unit, Haaretz added.

“And the preparations in the reserve units – even the combat engineering battalions – were superficial or nonexistent,” said Haaretz.

“Reserve officers and soldiers from engineering battalions said the training they underwent once a year, or every two years, was suited to the force’s older roles, like clearing paths through minefields. There was no talk of tunnels, not even in a few reserve battalions that were assigned in advance to possible action in an operation to occupy the [seized] Gaza Strip. When the soldiers told their commanders the contents of the training weren’t relevant to the operational challenges they might face, they were told there was awareness of the problem,” it said.

Destruction of the tunnels

“And so, without a detailed and sufficiently drilled combat doctrine, and with minimal practical knowledge, a patchwork operational plan and insufficient means for destroying the tunnels, the forces entered the [seized] Gaza Strip… But the difficulties stretched the operation beyond the amount of time that had initially been assumed,” added Haaretz even further.

Haaretz said:

“The soldiers who operated in the [seized] Gaza Strip were surprised by the number of shafts and subbranches of each tunnel, which necessitated lengthy searches.”

Therefore, the bottleneck, say division and brigade commanders who participated in the ground operation, was felt in two places: “The speed of locating the complete routes of the tunnels; and the speed of blowing them up. “We had only moderate readiness for dealing with the tunnels,” said Padan, as Haaretz wrote.

The army did not have enough earthmoving equipment to deal simultaneously with such a large number of tunnels, Haaretz further said.

It quoted a senior engineering officer as saying:

“Because of the equipment constraints, we worked in tune instead of in parallel. There was a significant gap in the means. There were not sufficient means for the number of teams and an operation of this volume. We do not have the capacity to deal with 32 tunnels.”

“During the fighting, the IDF [“Israel” War Forces] had to resort to emergency conscription of bulldozers and huge drills from the private sector… The chief of staff confirms: “We do not have 32 excavators and 32 drillers in the IDF [“Israel” War Forces]. This is part of the bottleneck that developed,” said Haaretz.

Furthermore,

“The greatest difficulty concerned the blowing up of the tunnels themselves. The methods and means at the IDF’s [“Israel” War Forces] disposal were suited to the days when tunnels were shorter and closer to the surface,” it added.

“The IDF [“Israel” War Forces] had only two such systems when the fighting began, As a substitute, the army used nearly half a million land mines and other explosives… In most cases, the destruction of the tunnel was therefore only partial…” it further said.

It said reservists have related that the first time they ever experienced blowing up a tunnel was in the field, when they were charged with the task. “We learned while in motion. We received brief instruction from the Yahalom unit and we blew up the tunnels with the help of chains of land mines,” they said, Haaretz said. “Our only experience had been accumulated blowing up buildings in Lebanon and [seized] Gaza, and that didn’t resemble blowing up a tunnel.”

A reserve officer in the corps said,

“No one knew, and no one had planned in advance, how to deal with the tunnels. Nearly everything was done in a spontaneous way in the field.”

Excavators and drillers

After the aggression, “officers in the corps say it will be necessary to consider more significant measures, like establishing a new battalion that will specialize in subterranean warfare,” Haaretz wrote.

Other officers put it this way: “Hamas had one surprising bullet in its magazine – the attack tunnels,” the “Israeli” daily said.

Meanwhile, Haaretz quoted one soldier from Yahalom as expressing that:

“During the war, I was shocked,” adding that, “There was a kind of “Israeli” dereliction pervading, one that maybe was born out of a bit of smugness and inattention, and was compounded by a shortage of funds and arms. What will happen against Hezbollah, in Lebanon? The pattern may repeat itself.”

Unsuitable plans

“The key turning-point in the battle was two days later, on the morning of July 17,” Haaretz wrote, when thirteen armed resistance fighters from Hamas’ tunnel force “emerged through an attack shaft in “Israeli” territory, a few hundred meters from Kibbutz Sufa.”

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz admitted later in private conversations that,”The incident at Sufa made the penny drop for us,” as Haaretz said.

Padan also said: “We were familiar with the tunnels mainly in theory. We didn’t have operational experience. There is something in the friction, in the experience, that accelerates understanding. We internalized it all only while dealing with the tunnels.”

Meanwhile, Haaretz added that the Golani Brigade “operation” [aggression] in the Shujaiyeh neighborhood, in the eastern seized Gaza City, lacked essential elements of surprise and trickery. The Golani soldiers, who attacked frontally, encountered extraordinarily stiff resistance from Hamas…” Haaretz wrote.

Cabinet out of the picture

According to Haaretz,

“There was one forum where no serious discussion of the tunnel threat took place during that period: the security cabinet. Most of its members, according to their own testimony, were not aware of the extent of the problem.”

“We didn’t have enough information, said Amidror, in retrospect… Even at Military Intelligence, they now admit, in retrospect there was a greater need to make the tunnels question much more pointed in the cabinet,” Haaretz added.

Source: “Israeli” Haaretz, Edited by website team

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17-10-2014 | 13:24

Washington lifts ban on Hamas? واشنطن ترفع الحظر عن حماس؟

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– يعرف الرئيس المصري عبد الفتاح السيسي أنه تحدث بلسان المشاركين في مؤتمر إعادة إعمار غزة في القاهرة، وفي طليعتهم وزير الخارجية الأميركي جون كيري، عندما جمع بين نجاح التهدئة وممارسة السلطة الفلسطينية لصلاحياتها في غزة، كشرطين متلازمين لقيام عملية مستمرة وناجحة لإعادة إعمار غزة، كما يعرف ويريد ويريد معه ومثله المشاركون أن تصل رسالته الموجهة إلى حركة حماس ومضمونها، دعوة واضحة عنوانها، الالتزام بالهدنة المجتزأة من جهة، أي تثبيت وقف النار من دون فك الحصار بمعناه الشامل ببعدي رفع الحظر الكلي عن تنقل البشر والبضائع وشموله المرافق البرية والبحرية والجوية، وكلها تبدو قضايا مطلوب نسيانها للحفاظ على وقف النار وحده، ومن جهة أخرى فوق التخلي عن الإصرار على التنفيذ الكامل لمضمون الهدنة التي رعتها مصر، التخلي عن كلّ التحفظات على تسليم الأمن في غزة للسلطة التي يقودها محمود عباس وأجهزته الأمنية، مع الإعلان عن إقلاع مسار حكومة الوحدة الوطنية الفلسطينية، بالتالي التخلي عن الطابع الحمساوي لقطاع غزة.

– كما يعرف جون كيري وزير الخارجية الأميركي أنّ رسالته السياسية، التي جاءت مشفوعة بمئتي مليون دولار كمساهمة في إعمار قطاع غزة، الذي قدرت المشاركة الأميركية بتدميره بخمسة أضعاف هذه المساهمة، هي السقف السياسي للمؤتمر تتويجاً للشروط التي وضعها الرئيس السيسي، فكيري يقول بصراحة، إذا انضبطتم وراء حكومة يقودها محمود عباس، فيجب أن تعلموا أن هذه الحكومة ستكون مطالبة بالجلوس مجدّداً إلى طاولة المفاوضات مع حكومة بنيامين نتنياهو.

– كذلك يعرف كيري والسيسي أنه مهما كانت الشروط التي يتحدثان عنها، فهما لا يرفعان عصا المقاطعة على حماس ما لم تقبل الشروط وحسب، بل يقدمان لها جزرة الإعمار الذي سيكون جمهورها وستكون مؤسساتها المستفيد الأول من عائداتها، فلا تزال حماس القوة الرئيسية شعبياً في غزة، والعصب الذي ستبنى عليه مؤسسات الحكومة الموحدة في القطاع، ومع هذه الجزرة الاقتصادية جزرة سياسية تقوم على تدرّج في التعاطي مع حماس كقوة مقبولة في المعادلة الإقليمية الدولية الجديدة، في مرحلة ما بعد خروج الإخوان من الحكم في مصر، مدخلها التعامل معها كقوة شريكة في الحكومة الفلسطينية، وما يقتضيه ذلك ويرتبه من علاقات وتواصل واستطراداً انخراط في خطط عمل مشتركة.

– يعرف السيسي وكيري أنّ ما لم يقولاه هو أن أسباباً جوهرية تقف وراء دعوة مصر ورعايتها لهذا المؤتمر، ومشاركة كيري ومساهمة حكومته بمبلغ يتعدّى حدود المساهمة الرمزية بنظر الإدارة الأميركية، على رغم عدم جواز مقارنته بما تقدمه لـ«إسرائيل» أو ما تكبدته من أكلاف لحرب غزة، بدل صواريخ الباتريوت التي أطلقت خلال الحرب، وأن هذه الأسباب هي ذات الأسباب التي أدت إلى استباق انعقاد المؤتمر، بانعقاد الحكومة عشية موعد المؤتمر في غزة وإعلان خطتها لبسط سلطتها في القطاع، وأن قبول حماس سبقته تفاهمات تركية – سعودية أبعد مدى من الوضع في غزة، كان من ضمنها إبعاد الإخوان المسلمين من قطر، ومن ضمنها انضباط حماس بسياسات جديدة لم يكشف كل ما تطاوله التغييرات فيها.

– بالمقابل يعرف قادة حماس أن نتائج حرب غزة التي عجز فيها جيش الاحتلال عن إسقاط المقاومة، رفعت سقف الموقف الوطني الجامع فلسطينياً وسهلت مسار المصالحة، كما رفعت سقف القدرة الأميركية في الضغط على نتنياهو، لتتلاءم سياسات حكومته التفاوضية أكثر مع متطلبات كانت ترفضها قبل الحرب، وأن النتاج السياسي للحرب، بفضل اصطفاف حماس بمرجعيتها الإخوانية وراء حكومتي أنقرة والدوحة، سيكون تعزيزاً وإنعاشاً لمسار التفاوض وليس تجذيراً لخيار المقاومة، كما تعرف حماس أن ما قدمته في السياسة على مستوى الاستعداد لدعم مسار تفاوضي عنوانه الانسحاب من الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة عام 1967 والاستعداد لقبول هدنة طويلة تصل لعشرين سنة لم يحدثا في الفراغ، 

وأن إعلان خالد مشعل عن اعتبار حكومتي تركيا وقطر الصديقتين لـ«إسرائيل» عنواناً سياسياً لحماس وحرب غزة، رسالة يعرف الأميركي و«الإسرائيلي» أنها ليست نكاية بحلفاء الأمس في سورية وإيران وحزب الله، بل هي استغلال تسويقي للخلاف مع هؤلاء الحلفاء القدامى للتموضع مع الحلفاء الأصليين وبرنامج سياسي على مقاسهم.

– يعرف وزير المالية «الإسرائيلي» أفيغدور ليبرمان أن ما قاله عن عدم سعي حكومته لعرقلة مؤتمر إعمار غزة، وما ينتج منه هو طلب أميركي لتسهيل خطة متكاملة لمرحلة مقبلة لها عناوين سياسية جديدة، وفي طليعتها استئناف المسار التفاوضي بموافقة من حركة حماس وتعرف حكومة نتنياهو طبيعة المساعي ومراحلها.

ما نحن فنعرف أن ما يجري هو إعادة ترتيب أوراق الحلف الذي تقوده واشنطن وتوزيع الأدوار بين أطرافه، وتوظيف كل أطراف الحلف من تركيا وقطر إلى مصر والسعودية لضمان أمن «إسرائيل» أولاً ثم التفرغ لما عداه، وأن قوات القسام باتت معنية بقول كلمتها تجاه ما يجري حول ما يخص مستقبل المقاومة.


——-

عنوان المؤتمر هو إعمار غزة، ولكن هدفه الرئيسى على الأغلب الأعم هو اختراق غزة، ونزع سلاح المقاومة، وتمكين جماعة اوسلو والتزاماتها وترتيباتها من استرداد السيطرة والسلطة هناك، لتدير القطاع على غرار إدارتها للضفة الغربية، ادارة من الباطن لصالح اسرائيل وأمنها.

وهو الأمر الذى تم التأكيد عليه بوضوح فى كل كلمات الوفود الرئيسية المشاركة فى المؤتمر، حيث أكدوا جميعا على ضرورة تمكين السلطة “الشرعية” من إحكام سيطرتها على غزة كشرط للإعمار.

انه مؤتمر ينعقد على أرضية الأجندة الاسرائيلية ولو لم تحضره اسرائيل بنفسها، مؤتمر يستهدف وضع الخطط والآليات الدولية والإقليمية والعربية، لتنفيذ وتفعيل المطالب الاسرائيلية التى فشلت آلتها الحربية فى تحقيقها.

***

ان الدولتين الراعيتين للمؤتمر وصاحبتى الدعوة الرئيسة له، هما مصر كامب ديفيد المنوطة بمراقبة غزة منذ 2005، والنرويج التى استضافت واحتضنت مفاوضات اوسلو عام 1993، التى عصفت نتائجها بـ 80 % من الحقوق الفلسطينية.

أما أهم الدول الكبرى المشاركة، فهى الولايات المتحدة الامريكية والمملكة المتحدة وفرنسا بالإضافة الى الاتحاد الاوروبى، وكلها باركت العدوان الصهيونى الاخير على غزة، ودافعت عن حق إسرائيل فى الدفاع عن نفسها، وطالبت بنزع سلاح غزة.

وهى ذاتها من أهم الدول المانحة التقليدية للسلطة الفلسطينية المشهورة باسم “المانحين”، التى دأبت على توظيف منحها وأموالها  لتصفية القضية الفلسطينية على امتداد أكثر من عشرين عاما.

وغالبية الدول المشاركة الاخرى، ان لم تكن جميعها، من الدول المعترفة باسرائيل، صراحة أو ضمنا، المباركة لاتفاقيات اوسلو، المصرة على ان الممثل الشرعى الوحيد للشعب الفلسطينى هو السلطة، المدينة او الرافضة للمقاومة وسلاحها ومواقفها الوطنية والسياسية.

وغالبية المنظمات المشاركة، هى اما من المنظمات التابعة والمرتبطة بالحلف الاستعمارى الغربى الامريكى الراعى لاسرائيل القائم منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية، مثل صندوق النقد والبنك الدوليين، واما من المنظمات التابعة للأمم المتحدة التى تمثل الأداة الدولية الرئيسة فى تصفية القضية الفلسطينية على امتداد ما يزيد عن نصف قرن، واما هى منظمات منزوعة السيادة والقرار والتأثير مثل جامعة الدول العربية.

***

اما عن الإشارات والرسائل التى سبقت عقد المؤتمر فمتعددة :

يأتى على رأسها بالطبع الاساس الذى سيقوم عليه المؤتمر، وفقا لتصريحات أهم الدول المشاركة، وهو القرار 1860 لمجلس الأمن الصادر عام 2009 والذى تضمنت نصوصه ما يلى :

(( وإذ يشير إلى عدم إمكانية التوصل إلى حل دائم للنزاع الإسرائيلي – الفلسطيني إلا بالوسائل السلمية….))
((وإذ يؤكد من جديد حق جميع دول المنطقة في العيش في سلام داخل حدود آمنة معترف ﺑﻬا دوليا……))
·       ((ندعو الدول الأعضاء إلى تكثيف الجهود الرامية لتوفير الترتيبات والضمانات اللازمة في غزة من أجل الحفاظ على وقف دائم لإطلاق النار وصون الهدوء، بما في ذلك منع الاتجار غير المشروع بالأسلحة والذخيرة…))

***

وقبل ذلك كان المشروع الذى قدمته كل من فرنسا وألمانيا وبريطانيا عن رؤيتها للاعمار، بان يتم تحت اشراف دولى ومنع تسليح حماس او فصائل اخرى وتشكيا الية دولية لمنع دخول المواد الممنوعة للقطاع وضمان عدم وصول مواد مثل الاسمنت والحديد الى المنظمات الارهابية واستخدامها فقط لإعادة تأهيل غزة، وضرورة عودة السلطة الفلسطينية والرئيس محمود عباس الى القطاع وإمكانية عودة بعثة المساعدة الحدودية للاتحاد الاوروبى لمعبر رفح الى جانب الحرس الرئاسى الفلسطينى، وفقا لاتفاقيات المعابر الفلسطينية الاسرائيلية الاوروبية المصرية الموقعة فى 2005.

وهو ما يتوافق تماما مع كل التصريحات الصادرة من ابو مازن بعد العدوان، والتى ركزت على توجيه النقد الحاد الى الاوضاع فى غزة وحكومة الظل فيها، وتحميلها مسئولية العدوان الصهيونى، والـتأكيد على ضرورة توحيد القرار والسلاح والسيطرة على المعابر تحت قيادة السلطة الفلسطينية وحدها.

***

ثم ما صرح به مسؤولون أميركيون كبار الجمعة 10 اكتوبر من التشكيك في أن يفي هذا المؤتمر بطلب الفلسطينيين بالحصول على أربعة بلايين دولار لإعادة بناء قطاع غزة، قبل ان تطمئن الدول المانحة الى استعادة السلطة الفلسطينية للسيطرة على القطاع الذى تهيمن عليه حماس حاليا.

***

بالإضافة الى ما قامت بهد اسرائيل بعد العدوان من حشد للتأييد الدولى لارسال مئات من المراقبين الدوليين(الجواسيس) الى غزة لمراقبة حركة الاعمار هناك، وضمان عدم وصول أموالها الى ايدى المقاومة، والحيلولة دون استخدام مواد البناء فى اعادة تشييد الانفاق مرة اخرى.

***

ومن ذلك ايضا التصريح الذى ادلى به رامى الحمد الله رئيس الوزراء السلطة الفلسطينية فى السابع من سبتمبر الماضى قبل ان يتراجع لاحقا، لتبرير عدم صرفه لمرتبات الموظفين فى غزة، حين قال

((تم تحذير الحكومة والبنوك العاملة في الأراضي الفلسطينية أنه في حال دفع هذه الدفعات لحكومة حماس السابقة في غزة سيتم مقاطعة الحكومة والشعب الفلسطينى، وسيتعرض النظام المصرفي الفلسطيني لإشكالية كبيرة تهدد الوضع الفلسطيني العام))

***

أضف الى ذلك بعض التصريحات الاسرائيلية الأخيرة على وجود اتفاق وتعاون مصرى اسرائيلى لعدم دخول بعض المواد الى غزة مثل  الأنابيب والمخارط ومعدات لف الحديد و السماد و ما يمكن استخدامه في تصنيع الصواريخ لغزة.

ناهيك بالطبع عن الدور المصرى التقليدى فى مراقبة غزة وفقا لاتفاقية فيلادلفيا الموقعة عام 2005، وما أضيف اليه مؤخرا من تعميق وتكثيف التنسيق الامنى المصرى الاسرائيلى، والذى ظهرت آثاره بجلاء فى هدم الأنفاق تحت الأرض مع إغلاق المعبر فوق الارض فى سابقة لم يفعلها مبارك ذاته.

وهو الدور الذى أكده عبد الفتاح السيسى فى كلمته الافتتاحية لمؤتمر الاعمار، حين أكد على أن الاعمار يقوم على محورين (شرطين)؛ أولهما هو التهدئة الدائمة، والثانى هو ممارسة السلطة الشرعية لصلاحياتها فى القطاع.

***

ان الأجواء التى ينعقد فيها مؤتمر الاعمار تذكرنا بذلك الحشد الدولى الرهيب الذى ضم 70 دولة فى شرم الشيخ فى مارس 1996، بقيادة الرئيس الامريكى بيل كلينتون وحسنى مبارك، تحت عنوان براق هو

“القمة الدولية لصانعى السلام فى الشرق الأوسط”، والذى كان فى حقيقته اجتماع طارئ لنجدة اسرائيل والتصدى للعمليات الاستشهادية الفلسطينية التى نجحت فى إيقاع خسائر فادحة فى صفوفها .

***

ان تداعى كل هذا العدد من الدول، وعلى الأخص الدول المعادية لفلسطين والمناصرة لاسرائيل، تحت مظلة مزعومة هى اعمار غزة الذى دمرتها اسرائيل، هو تداعى مريب ومضلل، خاصة بعد حجم التجاهل الذى لاقته القضية الفلسطينية من ذات هذه الدول فى الدورة الاخيرة للجمعية العامة للامم المتحدة المنعقدة بالأمس القريب.

وعلى كل القوى “الوطنية” الفلسطينية والمصرية والعربية، أن تنتبه وتحترس من أن تستدرج الى المشاركة فى تحالف دولى آخر لاختراق غزة ونزع سلاحها وإكراهها على الدخول فى التسوية والاعتراف باسرائيل وتصفية المقاومة، وتوظيف الأموال والمنح والمعونات والدولار لتحقيق ما عجز عنه السلاح الصهيونى بالحرب.

*****

القاهرة فى 14 اكتوبر 2014

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Al-Quds Brigades spokesperson: tunnels played ‘crucial role’ in confrontation with Israel

Abu Hamza, spokesperson for al-Quds Brigades. (Photo: al-Quds Brigades Facebook)

Published Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, says that keeping its distance from regional intrigue has helped it make the right decisions, and has led it to gain flexibility in balancing political and military action. The new spokesperson for the Brigades, Abu Hamza, also believes his group has demonstrated strong operational development during the recent war with the occupation, compared to previous rounds.

Abu Hamza, the new spokesperson for al-Quds Brigades, appeared in the first military parade held by the Brigades in Gaza days after the end of the recent war. Sources say that the “masked” Abu Hamza had served as a spokesperson in previous stages, before Abu Ahmad served in a full time capacity afterwards. Abu Ahmad would appear barefaced, but he was wounded in the war, which is how Abu Hamza was called upon to serve as the official spokesperson once again.

Al-Akhbar: The recent war, and the period before, saw al-Quds Brigades emerge as the second strongest military force in Gaza. How did you deploy in the recent war, and which of your most important units participated?

Abu Hamza: The units under our control have overlapping functions. Nearly all of them activated during the war. The rocket unit was possibly the most effective, because its primary function is to put pressure on the enemy’s home front. The artillery unit in the last days and during the ground invasion also played a key role in inflicting the largest number of enemy casualties. We cannot overlook the role of sniper units, anti-armor and ambush units, and the support and signals unit either.

AA The tunnels have emerged as an advanced resistance tactic. Where did you stand in this regard?

AH: Al-Quds Brigades carried out a series of daring attacks above ground, in whose success the tunnels had a crucial role. The most important of these operations was the destruction of tanks in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, which was called “the Merkava massacre.”

We benefited from the tunnels to destroy Merkava tanks and kill those inside, and seized the soldiers’ machine guns. Using this tactic, we were also able to destroy two armored troop carriers in the streets adjacent to the area where the first attack occurred, a few hours later. In other words, we counterbalanced the flat topography of the Strip by moving outside the warplanes’ line of sight, with the systematic use of the tunnels weapon.

AA: Reports say that the establishment of an operations’ coordination room between the factions was delayed until the ground invasion. What was the level of coordination you had with other military arms?

AH: Joint work among all factions of the Resistance is a pivotal choice that we have adopted in addressing Israeli incursions. In the recent war, we coordinated with the Qassam Brigades (Hamas) to bomb Tel Aviv using medium-range rockets.

We also took part in other ground operations with Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades (the Popular Resistance Committees), and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Fatah). I remember that in one operation, a group from the Brigades distracted the enemy forces that had forces from al-Qassam pinned down east of Khan Younis. Our fighters rained down mortar shells on the besieging force, and engaged it from a close distance, distracting it away from those trapped, who seized the opportunity and returned to their bases safely.

AA: Khuza’a village was one of the most important areas that the Brigades mentioned in its military statements as the location of several fierce battles against the enemy. Why Khuza’a, specifically?

AH: The Khuza’a village (east of Khan Younis) is a large area that is exposed to the border zone. It has large and empty agricultural areas, so the enemy judged it to be a weak spot and militarily unchallenging. The Israeli army tried to invade it with confidence, but it was surprised by the tunnels and sophisticated ambushes, which inflicted heavy losses in its ranks. This is how [Israel] decided to implement a scorched earth policy against the entire region, and punish its people with a collective massacre.

AA: The Resistance factions in general, and the al-Quds Brigades in particular, used new weapons during the war. Despite the intensity of the battle, there was keenness to highlight the fact that the weapons used were all locally made, with no role for the allies of the Resistance in developing them. What is your position on this?

AH: Al-Quds Brigades does not deny credit to anyone. We were among the first to express gratitude to countries and parties that support the Palestinian Resistance, and mentioned them by name, and do not shy away from it. Nevertheless, we emphasize that we relied on locally made weapons like Buraq-70 rockets. At the same time, we used Iranian Fajr-5 rockets. In summary, we cannot disregard the fact that the development of local rockets followed a series of experiments and the accumulation of skills that we imbibed from the Resistance axis, and the countries that have the most important role in giving us our edge.

AA: It was rumored that during negotiations for a ceasefire, the Brigades had several breaches in its ranks, leading to the martyrdom of a considerable number of fighters and leaders. Is this accurate?

AH: These are false allegations circulated by fifth columnists, who spared no efforts during the battle. This fifth column did not spare any faction from its attacks, which sought to undermine the morale of the fighters. However, this backfired, as the Resistance’s security services were able to chase down those behind the rumors, and were found to be closely linked to the enemy’s intelligence services. Yes, we lost 129 martyrs in different places during the last battle, and of course, we cannot reveal everything for security considerations. The assassinations affected all resistance factions in general, but this is the tax expected in any battle.

AA: It was observed that al-Quds Brigades, despite the evolution of its performance, did not receive media attention like the Qassam Brigades did. What is the issue here?

AH: The issue has to do with some media outlets, which sought to promote certain factions over others, for political reasons and regional calculations. However, this does not mean that we were absent from the media; rather, our presence was noticeable and clear.

AA: To what extent did you benefit from Hezbollah’s experience in establishing supply routes and communications network? Are you in contact with the party?

AH: Of course, we have benefited greatly from the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, not only at the level of training, tunnel networks, communications, and logistic matters, but in all areas of combat as well. Coordination between the party is ongoing and it has never stopped, and it is a key partner in the resistance against the Israeli enemy.

AA: Were there arms smuggling operations during the war?

AH: In light of the strict closure of the tunnels along the border with Egypt and the air cover imposed by the Israelis, smuggling weapons has become complicated. Nevertheless, we were able to overcome these difficult circumstances, but we do not need to go into detail.

AA: The Israelis claimed a large number of tunnels were destroyed, and accordingly, they ended their ground incursion. Have you started rebuilding the tunnels and how accurate are the Israeli claims?

AH: I cannot dwell too much on this issue. All we can confirm is that the secret weapon in the battle… was the tunnels weapon, whether for launching rockets or carrying out offensive attacks. We reassure people that the tunnels are in good shape. It is good to note that we developed the tunnels after the war of 2012, and were able to overcome the mistakes of that battle. Any details concerning the shape and depth of the tunnels cannot be mentioned for security reasons, but what matters is that they are compatible with the geography of the Strip and the nature of the soil.

AA: The last week of the battle witnessed a surge in mortar fire, following a military tactic that appeared to be new?

AH: We can say that the whole battle was run in accordance with a careful tactic. In the last days, the focus was on the settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip, especially the Eshkol complex, where most forces that left the Strip after the ground battle were concentrated. The most important characteristic of these operations is the direct monitoring of enemy forces and careful guidance of mortar fire, and thus the Israeli concern stemming from the rockets expanded to include mortar shells, which are difficult to detect and stop.

AA: What are the main mistakes that were made in the previous two wars that you sought to avoid?

AH: We were able to counteract the air force. The enemy intelligence also failed to locate rocket emplacements, which helped preserve our rocket arsenal, and in using it efficiently. In addition, we succeeded in establishing a joint operations room, which managed the battle.

AA: What are your current plants to maintain your readiness if war breaks out again?

AH: We rule out the resumption of a confrontation for several considerations, most notably the conviction the enemy now has regarding the difficulty of defeating the Resistance of the Palestinian people and their attachment to the weapons of the Resistance. In all cases, we are highly ready for any new confrontation, especially since we have weapons and cards that we can use to inflict losses on the enemy. We promise our people that we will reveal new qualitative surprises in case we face a new confrontation.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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Victims of deadly shipwreck driven out of Gaza by war, unemployment

Published Thursday, September 18, 2014

Unemployed and shattered by the 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza, Yasser decided to seek a better life elsewhere, boarding a boat to Europe that sank off Malta last week.

In one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks on record, the boat, with 500 people on board, was intentionally capsized by traffickers as it made its way from Egypt to Italy.

Only 10 people are known to have survived, among them four Palestinians from the 100 Gazans believed to have been on board. Yasser, a 23-year-old unemployed graduate, was not one of them.

Yasser’s story is far from unusual and explains why some Palestinians in Gaza are ready to risk everything to flee war and poverty in the coastal enclave, which was battered by a devastating seven-week Israeli aggression that ended late last month.

His brother Osama told AFP by telephone from his home in the United Arab Emirates that Yasser had graduated from university in Gaza but struggled to find work.

“He graduated last year and since then, like all young people, he has been unemployed. There is no future for them in Gaza,” Osama told AFP, asking that his family’s name not be published.

The crippling blockade of Gaza by Israel – and more recently Egypt – and Israeli restrictions in the occupied West Bank limit Palestinians’ ability to compete in export markets and contribute to an unemployment rate of almost 25 percent, the World Bank said in 2013.

“I tried to bring him to the Emirates but after seeing several of his friends reach Europe by boat, he decided to leave too,” he said.

Yasser crossed from Gaza into the Sinai Peninsula via the Rafah crossing, paying some local Egyptians nearly $3,000 (2,300 euros) to fix his passage to Europe.

“You never know who you’re giving the money too,” Osama said.

The last time the brothers spoke was on September 5, the day before the boat carrying Yasser set sail from the port of Damietta in Egypt.

“Now I’m waiting to receive the list of survivors to know if he might still be alive,” Osama said.

Escape through the tunnels

Exact numbers of those leaving Gaza and making their way to Europe are hard to come by.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), some 2,890 people who declared themselves to be Palestinians have reached Italy so far this year.

But even that number may not be credible as some migrants falsely identify themselves as Palestinians to avoid being repatriated to home countries that have extradition agreements with the European Union.

“We estimate that thousands of people have left the Gaza Strip clandestinely over the past two months, especially during the war,” a local human rights worker told AFP.

“Due to the fact they left through tunnels to Egypt — an illegal, secret way to leave — we have no precise figure,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

With Gaza’s own access to the Mediterranean tightly closed by Israel’s naval blockade, those wanting to go to Europe would be forced to travel through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Rafah is Gaza’s only gateway to the world that is not occupied by Israel, but it has been kept largely closed by Egypt for more than a year, with the only other way across via the handful of precarious cross-border smuggling tunnels.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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GAZANS FLEEING TO EUROPE VIA TUNNELS, TRAFFICKERS AND BOATS

‘It’s better to die at sea than to die of despair and frustration in Gaza,’ says resident of Strip.

Haaretz reports this morning that “Thousands of Palestinians have left the Gaza Strip for Europe using tunnels, traffickers and boats.” The following is a devastating glimpse into the continuous ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Europe is silent about it, the Western media is also silent about it.  I guess that discussing this unfolding tragedy   in the open would lead to a diplomatic clash with  Israel and an open conflict with its Jewish lobby.

“The Palestinian Embassy in Greece reported yesterday that the ship that sank off the coast of Malta was carrying more than 450 passengers, most of them Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, and that it was rammed intentionally by another ship run by rival smugglers. “

“The Gaza-based human rights group Adamir has collected the names of more than 400 missing people. “No one knows where they are; the whole Gaza Strip is talking about it. It’s such a painful story, as if it’s not enough what happened in the last war and now another blow comes,” said Adamir director Halil Abu Shamala, noting that most of the passengers were young people but that there were also whole families aboard. “

“One prominent smuggler leader named Abu Hamada Asuri oversees a network that brings people out of the Gaza Strip to Europe by sea. He lives in Egypt but has representatives in the Strip, some of whom are well-known figures there. “

“One, who asked that his name not be used, told Haaretz: “This trip costs between $3500 to $4000 dollars a person. People who want to go make arrangements ahead of time to come to the entrance to a tunnel in Palestinian Rafah. It’s a relatively small tunnel; most of the big ones have been blocked by the Egyptians. People crawl dozens of meters and at the end of the tunnel on the Egyptian side of Rafah a minibus or other vehicle waits for them and takes them to Port Said.”

“The man said that once they get to Port Said or other locales, they wait in an apartment or other building that has been prepared for them ahead of time. He added that Egyptian security officials are bribed to look the other way and stamp passports with forged stamps. “

“One refugee who managed to get to the Italian coast told Haaretz that when the boat approaches the shore it issues a distress call and Italian navy and Red Cross ships pick them up. In other cases, the boat approaches the shore and people jump into the water with life jackets, and are rescued by the Coast Guard or the Red Cross.”

“Most of the refugees say they are Syrians or Palestinians who have arrived from Syria seeking safe haven from the war in that country. The refugees are transferred to special facilities where they wait for a few days. They say the long arm of the smugglers reaches right into those facilities; representatives of the smugglers sign papers releasing them from the facilities, and then onward to their destinations. Some want to leave Italy for another country where they have relatives.

Gaza dispatch: Why the people support Hamas

More than seven years of Israeli siege, a punishment for voting Hamas into power, have led Palestinians to rally around the party. After all, every time they look to Mahmoud Abbas for salvation, they are sorely disappointed.

http://972mag.com/gaza-dispatch-why-the-people-still-support-hamas/95697/

GAZA CITY – With Operation Protective Edge becoming longer and more violent, questions over the attitude of the 1.8 million residents of Gaza toward Hamas are coming to the fore. Although both the international and Israeli media are concerned about Gazans, they are noticeably more critical of Hamas than they are of Israel. That concern is understood, but needs to be made clearer.

What ought to be clear for everyone following the events from a distance is that Palestinians have enough awareness to differentiate between Hamas as a government and Hamas as a resistance faction. It is true that Gazans have multiple attitudes toward the Hamas government. However, resistance is something Palestinians agree on almost unanimously. More importantly, people know that resistance is not only coming from Hamas.

A Hamas supporter in Gaza City, March 23, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

One of the main accusations leveled at Hamas, especially from Israeli journalists and analysts, is that it uses building materials for constructing tunnels, rather than letting people use them for housing or supporting our civilian infrastructure. It is true that Gaza is an impoverished enclave that requires huge efforts and funds to develop. However, that does not lessen the importance of security. Like any other country in the world, Gaza has the right to self defense. It is well-known that Israel spends a lot of money on enhancing its military infrastructure, while neglecting poor neighborhoods and slums across the country. America, which has the most powerful military in the world, has more than 600,000 homeless people.

Another accusation, and one no less important, is that Hamas uses its citizens as human shields. But can Hamas really do so when the Israeli army intentionally targets civilian compounds? If the fact that civilians are near a military location doesn’t stop Israel from firing rockets towards them, what is the point of Hamas “hiding behind civilians?” Besides, Gaza is a very densely populated area, meaning that any military action will always take place close to civilians.

Hamas is also accused of firing rockets at Israeli civilians. This is a valid accusation and no one can deny it. But if one compares the number of causalities among Israelis, almost all of whom were soldiers, it becomes clear that civilians are not Hamas’ main targets.

Furthermore, Hamas is being blamed for its rejecting most of the ceasefire initiatives during the ongoing conflict. Palestinians see it differently; they are fed up with the stringent blockade being imposed on them for the past seven years. Borders are often closed to both individuals trying to exit the Strip, as well as goods entering entering it. People say they have been slowly dying this entire time; now, after more than 2,000 been killed, they refuse to accept their slow death. This is the reason that Hamas is rejecting any truce that doesn’t, at the very least, lift the blockade.

One more important factor that leads the majority of the population to support the resistance is the huge disappointment Palestinians constantly feel from the President Mahmoud Abbas. Whenever they have any sort of expectations from their president, they are always sorely let down by his collaboration with Israel’s occupation. In Gaza, Hamas and the rest of the armed factions are still defending the population with their lives, so it is no wonder that the popularity of Hamas increases as that of Abbas decreases.

In these sensitive times of war, Gazans know that they better support the home front and confront Israel, rather than become split over their leadership and lose the battle. Moreover, the large number of people being killed creates unity among the public, which has led Palestinians that to hold the same set of demands.

A mourner carries the body of a child among 24 members of the Abu Jamea family, who were killed the previous day during an Israeli attack over the Bani Suhaila neighborhood of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip.

More than seven years of being under Israeli siege, a punishment for voting for Hamas, have led people to rally around the party. Hamas was boycotted widely by international community, as well as many regimes in the Arab world. However, Palestinians now understand that Hamas, despite the disadvantages, managed to survive the battle.

Today, Palestinians will not accept anything less than the lifting of the siege and the building of an international port. Gazans are still convinced that having a port is not a fantasy, especially, with the humiliation they must encounter while travelling through the Egyptian border.

Abeer Ayyoub studied English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. She is a journalist who covered the last war on Gaza and has recently covered various internal issues. She has written pieces online in English for Al Jazeera, Haaretz and other publications.

 

Dr. Rania Masri’s Speech at “Crisis in Gaza and West Bank: Context and Action” Forum

 
This video features a speech by Dr. Rania Masri at a public forum titled “Crisis in Gaza and the West Bank: Context and Action!”
This forum was sponsored by the Coalition for Peace with Justice at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC on August 6, 2014.Learn more at:
http://peace-with-justice.org

Rania Masri is an Arab American human rights activist and environmental scientist, university professor and writer. Since 2005, she has been an assistant professor and chair of the Environmental Sciences Department at the University of Balamand in Lebanon. From 2012 to 2013 (for 15 months), she served as a regional policy advisor at the UNDP Regional Center in Cairo. Prior to moving from North Carolina to Lebanon, Rania directed the Southern Peace Research And Education Center at the Institute for Southern Studies in NC.

Her writings and presentations have centered on issues of human rights, governmental policy, economic justice, environmental health, and food sovereignty.You can follow Dr. Masri at:
GreenResistance.wordpress.com
Twitter @rania_masri

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!

Israel sends Gaza’s economy ‘back to zero’

A Palestinian man covers his face to protect him from the smoke billowing from a milk factory hit by an Israeli military strike, north of Gaza City on July 31, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Marco Longari)
Published Monday, August 11, 2014
Attacks on the industrial sector in Gaza were no less damaging than those against people’s lives and homes.
Gaza – Al-Akhbar went on a short tour of a number of industrial and agricultural facilities in the Gaza Strip, primarily in the eastern and northern regions. Widespread destruction was noted in manufacturing plants, as well as in cattle and goat farms.
The famous electronics factory owned by Ibrahim al-Jarou Company is now a pile of rubble. Afaneh cattle farm on the road parallel to the border strip to the east had a similar fate. All the cows were killed after bombs and artillery shells hit the farm.
Head of the Food Industry Federation in Gaza, Taisir al-Safadi, maintained that the Israeli aggression caused “heavy losses, estimated at $150 million” in the food industry.
“The biggest and best factories in the Strip were destroyed, which used to provide 70 percent of local market needs,” he said on a tour of the factories in the area. “The occupation attacked the entire national infrastructure on purpose. It bombed the largest food factories to turn Gaza into a consumerist and unproductive market.”

“Gaza is losing $5 million a day, due to the suspension of all economic activities, in addition to indirect losses related to the infrastructure.” – Maher al-Tabbaa

Safadi called on the national unity government to save the factories and help their owners and other affected businesses to rebuild, “to avoid additional unemployment in the Strip, which already faces a lack of job opportunities.”
 According to the Agricultural Ministry’s media representative Fayez al-Sheikh, the sector sustained $251 million in losses. “Indirect losses are estimated at $150 million,” he told Al-Akhbar.
He went on to list the losses in various agricultural categories. “They included plant production at around $131 million, soil and irrigation at $56 million, livestock at $55 million, and around $8 million in the fishing sector and fisheries.”
The industrial and agricultural sectors in Gaza had already been facing disastrous circumstances. Even before the [Israeli] aggression started on July 7, the occupation controlled the quantity and types of products [entering Gaza] through the siege it imposed on the Strip, closing all but one of the commercial crossings.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), “the unemployment rate in Gaza has reached 41 percent.”
“More than 180,000 [people] are unemployed due to the aggravating siege and the interruption of the construction sector,” al-Sheikh added.
He also mentioned the “commercial recession and stagnation of all economic activities.”
In the same context, heads of industrial facilities in Gaza told Al-Akhbarthat they feared the authorities will ignore the magnitude of the economic destruction. Some pointed out that reconstruction – after the war is over – will immediately focus on destroyed homes. The economic sector is given a low priority.
On the other hand, the Palestinian government headed by Rami Alhamdulillah announced the formation of a ministerial committee to supervise the plans for Gaza’s reconstruction. The government explained in a statement that the committee will oversee the preparation of plans for early recovery of the Strip.
The government is also busy organizing the donors conference planned for early next month. It aims to mobilize the necessary support for reconstruction, in addition to supporting its budget.
However, economic expert Maher al-Tabbaa said, “This time, the war brought the Palestinian economy back to zero. We urgently need to form a special independent body for Gaza’s reconstruction, which includes the public and private sectors and specialized bodies to coordinate and supervise reconstruction projects.”
“This time, the economic sector sustained a powerful blow, losing more than $3 billion,” he told Al-Akhbar.
As an example, he pointed out that “the Israeli war machine destroyed dozens of factories, in addition to the annihilation of whole industrial zones and directly targeting poultry and cattle farms and fishing ports.”
“Gaza is losing $5 million a day, due to the suspension of all economic activities, in addition to indirect losses related to the infrastructure.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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ON IDF’S FAILURE AND JEWISH ETHICS 

Alimuddin Usmani interviews Gilad Atzmon

 Alimuddin Usmani: Israeli intelligence apparently underestimated the extent of the tunnels built by Hamas. Emerging from the tunnels, Palestinian fighters made some daring attacks that killed a number of Israeli soldiers inside Israel. Does this represent a major failure of the Israeli army?

Gilad Atzmon: The failure of the Israeli military is far greater than just the tunnels. The tunnels are not, in themselves, resistance but are, instead, a means of resistance. The tunnels did not lead Israel into this war they were a secondary military objective. The Israeli cabinet and the IDF made the tunnels an issue as soon as they realized that they were not able to articulate any other attainable objectives. In a desperate move, they made a secondary objective into a primary one so that they could depict an image of victory.

I was probably the first to predict an Israel defeat in this round of violence. I could read the map, I could see that Israel could not present its military objectives. This means that Israel’s days are numbered. Living on someone else’s land demands a willingness to sacrifice. But the Israelis are not willing to pay the ultimate price anymore. Israel is a spoiled western hedonist society. Yet Israelis are engaged in a fierce battle with Gazans – people who have been living for decades in an open air prison, are fighting for their dignity and have nothing to lose.

 

Alimuddin Usmani: After each massacre whether it is in a school, on the beach or in a market, the Israeli government is quick to state that the army is “investigating the incident.” Why is it so important for the Hasbara to use terminology such as “The IDF is the most moral army in the world?” 

Gilad Atzmon: Very simple, because it isn’t. Judaism and Jewish culture are neither ethical nor universal. They are legalistic and tribal. The great Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz made this point in the 1970s. He argued that Judaic legalism serves as a replacement for ethical thinking. Instead of an authentic ethical judgment, the Jew is asked to follow orders. Judaism provides protocols for correct behaviour.  Accordingly, the Ten Commandments are an affirmation of the paucity of Jewish ethical thinking; ethical people don’t need ‘commandments’ to know that murder or theft are wrong.

Similarly, the IDF is proud of its ‘moral code,’ a set of kosher ‘ethical guidelines’ written by a uniquely shallow Israeli philosopher named Asa Kasher. If Kasher had done his homework and bothered to read Kant’s 2nd critique and grasped the meaning of the categorical imperative he would have understood that an army of ethical soldiers doesn’t need an ‘ethical code.’ A ‘moral army’ trusts its soldiers to act ethically and to be able to differentiate right from wrong.

Kant’s categorical imperative suggests the following: “act only according to that maxim whereby one can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”

It teaches that the human subject possesses the capacity to make an ethical judgment that corresponds to higher universal principles. It also implies that ethical judgment is a dynamic notion not a set of regulations, codes or commandments. But this dynamic inclination toward the universal is lacking in both Judaism and contemporary Jewish secular culture. In Judaism it is replaced by legalism (Talmud and Halacha), and in modern Jewish culture it is replaced with a deceitful image of ‘ethical conduct.’ The IDF praises its own ‘ethical code’ while at the time its air force is committing colossal war crimes slaughtering innocent civilians. Similarly, the so-called Anti Zionist Jews advise us that they are motivated by ‘Jewish universal values’ in order to conceal the fact that there is no such thing. There are no Jewish universal values because when Jewishness becomes universal it stops being Jewish.

Alimuddin Usmani: The conflict in Gaza prompted many reactions from public personalities who normally stay quiet on the matter. The footballers Joey Barton and Yossi Benayoun were involved in a row on twitter. Can the angry reaction of Benayoun towards Barton be explained by the British player’s challenge to Jewish power?

 http://www.independent.co.uk/

Gilad Atzmon: I don’t think that this spat between an illiterate Israeli footballer and an ethically driven educated English person deserves our close scrutiny. What we can learn from this is that every person who identifies politically as a Jew, whether a footballer or a rocket engineer, is dedicated to the Jewish tribal cause

Alimuddin Usmani: How do you assess the work of the Israeli NGO B’tselem? 

http://www.btselem.org/

Gilad Atzmon: Btselem works to convey an image of humane and ethical Jewish thought. Israel needs Btselem. It also shows that Israel tolerates dissent and is far more open to opposition than Diaspora Jews. This trait is actually consistent with early Zionist ideology that sought to create a new Hebraic ‘civilized’ Jew. You may be surprised to hear that I actually  see far more truth, ethical orientation and scholarship in the work of Israelis such as Btselem,  Sand, Avnery, Gideon Levy, Shahak, Israel Shamir  than in the convoluted mishmash produced by the so-called  anti- Zionist Jews who try to conceal the inhumane aspects of Jewish ideology and Jewish nationalism.  

Nasser Kandil: Israel unfit for war ستون دقيقة مع ناصر قنديل _ توب نيوز 01 08 2014

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