The Oslo process was a trap from which the Palestinians never escaped: ex-UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine

Source

By M.A. Saki

TEHRAN- Richard Anderson Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine, says “the Oslo process was a trap from which the Palestinians never escaped”.
“Indeed, the dynamics of this Oslo period from 1993 until the start of the Trump presidency in 2017 was to raise Israeli expectations with respect to its maximal territorial ambitions,” Falk tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.
Here is the full text of the exclusive interview:
Q: As a UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine your reports revealed many facts about the Israeli settlement policies, its apartheid approach, and so on. Your efforts in this regard are commendable. To what extent did these reports have a practical impact on Israeli policies?
A: My period as UN Special Rapporteur to Palestine was between 2008 and 2014. During that time Israel carried out massive attacks on Gaza in 2008-09, 2012, and 2014, while expanding the archipelago of its unlawful settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and blocking any realistic process of a political compromise in the context of the Oslo Peace Process. I mention these negative developments as background for responding to your question about whether my reports had any ‘practical impact on Israeli policies.’ I would have to acknowledge that I could not identify any positive impact on Israeli practices and policies, especially in relation to its efforts to pursue its expansionist ambitions with regard to the control of Palestinian territory and its non-Jewish inhabitants or its unabashed defiance of international law and UN authority.
A more promising Palestinian strategy, additional to continuing acts and displays of resistance, is to encourage pressures mounted by the global solidarity movement including at the UN. Such campaigns can gain inspiration from the South African worldwide anti-apartheid movement, which overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve an unexpected, mostly bloodless, victory over racism in the form of a nonviolent transition to multi-racial constitutional democracy.It seems that the heightening of criticism of Israel’s behavior by myself and others did encourage Israel’s new approach, which abandoned defending itself against allegations of unlawfulness and criminality, and instead mobilizing energy and devoting resources to defaming critics, and doing its best to discredit, and even criminalize support for the BDS Campaign and other global solidarity initiatives as the Free Gaza Campaign. This Israeli pushback culminated in the widespread adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism that deliberately conflated hatred of Jews as a people with criticism of Israel as the State of the Jewish people. It is ironic that this regressive move has been most influential in countries such as the U.S., UK, and Germany that pride themselves on being the most respected constitutional democracies the world has known since ancient Athens, and yet when it comes to Israel the right of free expression and nonviolent protest are violated with official approval.
I believe my reports did have some beneficial impact on the discourse within the UN itself (including civil society NGOs), and on the understanding of the diplomatic community, with respect to four distinct aspects of Israeli behavior: 1) Understanding the settler colonial character of Israel’s domination and dispossession of the Palestinian people; 2) The de facto annexationist aspects of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem carried out in violation of international humanitarian law; 3) The unsupportable character of prolonged belligerent occupation, the abusive nature of which is not addressed by international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions and Protocols; 4) The apartheid character of Israel’s Jewish State, not only in relation to the occupation of the territory acquired in the 1967 War but in relation to the Palestinian people as a whole, including refugees and involuntary exiles, the minority living in pre-1967 Israel, and those in Gaza after Israel’s ‘disengagement’ of 2005.
I gave particular attention in my reports to the daily injustices associated with prolonged occupation of Palestinian territories, which had not attracted much prior attention, although my successor as SR, Michael Lynk, has carried my arguments further and to their logical conclusion that the occupation must be ended by judicial and political action at the international level. The legally, morally, and politically problematic character of ‘prolonged occupation,’ especially as combined in this with a denial of all civil and political rights to the residents of the occupied Palestinian territories and subversive of underlying Palestinian sovereignty as evidenced by UN recognition of Palestine in 2012 as a non-voting member State in the UN.
I believe that my reports helped in small ways to change the discourse and perceptions of civil society activists as well as of many members of the diplomatic community who privately conveyed to me their agreement with my analysis. The reports also brought up to date the lawlessness of Israel’s behavior with respect to the settlements, the separation wall, and reliance on excessive force, most pronouncedly in Gaza, which figured in the way the media and public opinion understood the competing arguments being put forward by Israel and Palestine, and seemed of some use to governments in formulating their approach to the underlying conflict.
Q: One of your reports on Israel was removed from the UN website under pressure from the United States and Israel. What was the content of the report, and why was there so much sensitivity about it?
A: My report was temporarily removed from the UN website in either 2009 or 2010, but interestingly, not at the initiative of either Israel or the United States, but by the Palestinian Authority, which represents Palestine at the UN. Their sole objection to my text was its acknowledgment of Hamas as the administering authority of Gaza, ineffective control of the governing process, reflecting both through its electoral victory in the 2006 elections in Gaza and as a result of the expulsion of Fatah forces associated with the Palestinian Authority during the following year.
What is worse (during the Oslo process), the Palestinians went along with their own entrapment, somehow thinking that they would be rewarded by their cooperative attitudes.It was the mere mention of Hamas that disturbed and agitated the PA to the point of seeking my resignation as SR, especially after I criticized aspects of the PA administration of the West Bank and their surprising controversial support of Israeli and U.S demands that the UN disregard the recommendations of the Goldstone Report that had been critical of Israel’s violation of the Laws of War during Operation Cast Lead, its devastating military attack on Gaza that started at the end of 2008 and lasted for several weeks in January 2009. After failing to oust me from my position, the PA shifted its tone and posture, and for the remaining years of my mandate was cooperative, and did not subsequently object to my reports even when the role of Hamas was discussed.
Q: You have repeatedly criticized Israel’s policies and considered the peace process as a hoax. Why do you think this process is a hoax?
A: Maybe the word ‘hoax’ overstates my view, which was that the peace process as structured and implemented greatly favored Israel, discriminated against Palestine to such an extent that it was naïve to expect a sustainable and just peace to emerge from such one-sided diplomacy. This basic imbalance was evident in a number of respects. Above all, the framework for negotiations was seriously flawed by giving the United States, an overt and unconditional supporter of Israel, the inappropriate role of intermediary or ‘honest broker.’ This flaw exhibited itself by diplomats and staff representing the United States in the course of the Oslo process often being closely identified with the Zionist Movement, including being drawn from former employees of the pro-Israeli extremist lobbying group AIPAC. Such partisanship also explained the U.S. pressure on the Palestinian negotiating team not to object to settlement expansion or press other legal grievances as such objections would disrupt the peace process, insisting that such issues be left unresolved until ‘final status’ negotiations occurred at the last stage of the process, which was never reached. This pressure to mute international law objections to Israeli expansionism was perversely coupled with Washington’s acceptance of ‘facts on the ground’ as taking precedence over legal objections to the settlements, in effect, punishing Palestinians for following the advice to defer objections. This play of arguments reveals the entrapment of the Palestinians by the Oslo process—instead of insisting to Israel to freeze settlement activity to safeguard the diplomatic prospects, it exerted pressure on the Palestinians to suppress their objections to Israeli unlawful behavior, which by its nature, threatened reaching a two-state compromise. What is worse, the Palestinians went along with their own entrapment, somehow thinking that they would be rewarded by their cooperative attitudes.
The framework for negotiations was seriously flawed by giving the United States, an overt and unconditional supporter of Israel, the inappropriate role of intermediary or ‘honest broker.’The Oslo process was a trap from which the Palestinians never escaped, and ended up worsening Palestinian prospects as well as inflicting additional torments, including the frequency and viciousness of settler violence directed at Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Indeed, the dynamics of this Oslo period from 1993 until the start of the Trump presidency in 2017 was to raise Israeli expectations with respect to its maximal territorial ambitions, and to depress Palestinian hopes of reaching a political compromise in the form of the co-existence of separate sovereign states enjoying equal standing in international society. It became evident, as well, that Israeli internal politics drifted steadily to the right, partly reflecting the increasingly leverage of the settler movement. These developments made it increasingly clear that a two-state political compromise was no longer seen by the Israeli leadership as an expedient goal. In effect, it was no longer necessary to hide the Israeli belief that the West Bank, known in Israel by its biblical names of Judea and Samaria, was an integral element of the entitlement of the Jewish people to the land of Palestine as interpreted by mainstream Zionism as ‘the promised land.’ Some Zionists, attached to the ‘democratic’ claim attached to Israel’s political identity, worried that annexing the West Bank would explode a demographic bomb that would make it impossible to hide the apartheid nature of the Israeli state.
Q: U.S. President Donald Trump has now proposed a so-called Deal of the Century, and Israel is seeking to annex the West Bank. How do you evaluate this process?
A: As the occupation continued, and Israel’s annexationist moves met with only token international resistance, there was a noticeable shift in the outlook of Netanyahu, the dominant Israeli political figure of the period, from an international posture favoring political compromise to an outcome reached unilaterally in the form of an imposed Israeli one-state solution. When Trump arrived in the White House in early 2017 this shift for the first time enjoyed the explicit geopolitical support of the U.S. government, and need no longer be hidden from view. In this atmosphere Israel moved to affirm its claims to most of the promised land, and relinquished any attachment to ‘peace’ through negotiations, even negotiations biased in their favor.
The Trump Plan, whether known as ‘the deal of the century’ by its official name of ‘From Peace to Prosperity’ gives its seal of approval to the Israel vision of a one-state solution, slightly disguised by designating areas set aside for Palestinian administration as ‘a State,’ what was correctly associated with the Bantustans established by the apartheid regime in South Africa to hide the ugliest features of racist domination and exploitation.
The Trump Plan, whether known as ‘the deal of the century’ by its official name of ‘From Peace to Prosperity’ gives its seal of approval to the Israel vision of a one-state solution, slightly disguised by designating areas set aside for Palestinian administration as ‘a State,’ what was correctly associated with the Bantustans established by the apartheid regime in South Africa to hide the ugliest features of racist domination and exploitation. As is now known to the world, even the PA was unable to treat the Trump Plan as a serious negotiating proposal, correctly dismissing it as a blueprint for the Israeli one-state victory scenario. Israeli plans to annex a large portion of the West Bank by de jure enactment, on the basis of a green light from Washington, seems likely to be implemented in coming months, although opposed by some prominent security officials in Israel and even by maximalist Zionists on the grounds either of imperiling the Jewish demographic majority or provoking a surge of renewed Arab and international support for Palestinian grievances, and perhaps a trigger for a third intifada.
It should be internationally understood that the Trump Plan lacks any respectable international backing, and as such is in no way deserving of respect at the UN or elsewhere. It is an extremely partisan and arrogant set of proposals that are inconsistent with international law, the UN consensus, and elementary morality. Rather than being seriously considered, it should be summarily dismissed as an irrelevant geopolitical attempt to deny the Palestinian people of their inalienable right of self-determination.
Q: May 15 marked the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of Israel, and all through these years Israel has been supported by countries such as the United States and Britain. It is also noticeable that countries are consenting to Israel’s occupation. Please explain?
A: The core rationale of support for Israel over the years has changed. Back when Israel was established in 1948 the public mood was shaped by the experience of World War II, including an acute sense of guilt on the part of liberal democracies in the West as having done so little to oppose Nazi racism toward Jews. From the start of the Zionist Project in the late 19th century anti-Semitic governments in Europe oddly shared the goal of Zionists of inducing Jews to leave their countries, and were eager to encourage emigration to Palestine. These attitudes underlay the 1917 colonialist initiative of the UK, known to the world as the Balfour Declaration, by which Britain pledged to look with favor on the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine although the Jewish minority was less than 8% and the Arab majority was never consulted. The more politically active personalities in Palestine opposed the idea of a Jewish homeland in their midst from the beginning. In that sense, Western support rested on these rather weak moral foundations that were not even consistent with regional strategic interests such as access to (Persian) Gulf oil reserves, trade routes, and leverage in the post-Ottoman Arab world. Zionism in Palestine turned against its British backer when Arab unrest in the 1930s led to some limits being imposed on Jewish immigration to Palestine, and the more militant Zionist militias started an ‘anti-colonial’ war in Palestine despite themselves being colonists. Of course, this was not so unusual in the British experience, having their earlier memories of the American Revolutionary War waged by their own colonists to gain political independence.
This hostile propaganda (against Palestinians), popularized by Hollywood movies demonizing Arabs and glorifying Israelis, bestowed on Israel the political space to impose an apartheid structure of control over the Palestinian people as a whole, and to avoid any international accountability relating to its defiance of international law beyond token expressions of disapproval from European capitals and Washington whenever Israel’s provocations could not be entirely ignored.
In Palestine, as elsewhere, British divide and rule tactics during its administration of Palestine between the two world wars suggested to the UN that partition, again without consulting the smaller, yet still Arab majority, was the solution, which in turn sparked a series of regional wars, culminating in the 1967 War. In that war Israel demonstrated its military prowess, and was no longer regarded by American policymakers as a troublesome burden of conscience for the United States, but was seen as a reliable strategic ally in a turbulent region, and Israel has remained reliable over the course of the last fifty years. All in all, Israel made this unusual transition from being a burden of conscience to becoming a geopolitical junior, often not so junior, partner of the United States. In the process of a string of military defeats of the Arab countries by Israel, especially the 1973 War, there was a gradual weakening of regional support for the liberation of Palestine, and more of an Arab elite disposition to normalize the presence of Israel, and more recently join in an implicit coalition confronting Iran with the lead role being assumed by the U.S., a result of Trump’s tightening regional alignments with Israel and Saudi Arabia during the last four years. The Jewish diaspora also provided a major source of Zionist pro-Israeli leverage around the world, first, in the post-Holocaust context, and after 1967, in the course of celebrating Israel’s military successes and modernizing record of achievement.
Throughout the process, the native Palestinian population was Orientalized, denigrated as ‘backward’ and inclined toward ‘terrorism.’ This hostile propaganda, popularized by Hollywood movies demonizing Arabs and glorifying Israelis, bestowed on Israel the political space to impose an apartheid structure of control over the Palestinian people as a whole, and to avoid any international accountability relating to its defiance of international law beyond token expressions of disapproval from European capitals and Washington whenever Israel’s provocations could not be entirely ignored. Although Israel has benefitted over the decades from American aid and support and European less blatant support, Israeli leadership has always had a Plan B. Israel, sought by every means to be self-reliant with respect to its security, highlighted by its covert acquisition and development of a nuclear weapons arsenal. In this sense, unless there are important shifts in the outlook of Arab governments (although not among the captive populations), even the withdrawal of U.S. support, which seems highly unlikely, would not make Israel much more vulnerable to external pressures.
Q: Based on the realities on the ground, it seems that the only way for the Palestinian people to get their rights is to resist the Israeli occupation. What is your opinion?
A: In view of the considerations discussed above, the most opportune Palestinian strategy would be to give up hopes under present conditions for reaching a satisfactory solution through diplomacy or at the UN. A more promising Palestinian strategy, additional to continuing acts and displays of resistance, is to encourage pressures mounted by the global solidarity movement including at the UN. Such campaigns can gain inspiration from the South African worldwide anti-apartheid movement, which overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve an unexpected, mostly bloodless, victory over racism in the form of a nonviolent transition to multi-racial constitutional democracy.
The UN should not be forgotten. It remains a crucial site of struggle in waging what I have in the past referred to as ‘the legitimacy war’ fought to gain control of world public opinion, as well the high ground of public morality and international law. It should be appreciated that since 1945 the side that prevailed in the legitimacy war, rather than the side that controlled the battlefield, usually achieved political victory in the end. Gandhi appreciated the role of international public opinion in changing the balance of forces in India against the British Empire as did Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam in leading the defeat of overwhelmingly superior American military capabilities. Each conflict has unique characteristics, but the Palestinian struggle, despite present difficulties, can draw hope from the historical record of liberation and self-determination struggles of the past 75 years, and it is winning the legitimacy war, despite the Zionist defamatory pushback.

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, February 28, 2020

Global Research 8 January 2009

Eleven years ago, Israel invaded Gaza under “Operation Cast Lead”.

The following article was first published by Global Research in January 2009 at the height of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead.

***

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Author’s Note and Update

The purpose of Operation Cast Led was to confiscate Palestine’s maritime natural gas reserves. In the wake of the invasion, Palestinian gas fields were de facto confiscated by Israel in derogation of international law.

A year following “Operation Cast Lead”,  Tel Aviv announced the discovery of  the Leviathan natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean “off the coast of Israel.”

At the time the gas field was: “ … the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.” (i)

Coupled with Tamar field, in the same location, discovered in 2009, the prospects are for an energy bonanza for Israel, for Houston, Texas based Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration. (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant, Global Research, December 30, 2013

The Gazan gas fields are part of the broader Levant assessment area.

What has been unfolding is the integration of these adjoining gas fields including those belonging to Palestine into the orbit of Israel. (see map below).

It should be noted that the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline extending from Egypt’s Sinai to Syria constitutes an area encompassing large gas as well as oil reserves.

While the debate regarding  Trump’s “Deal of the Century” has largely concentrated on the de facto annexation of the Jordan Valley and the integration and extension of  Jewish settlements, the issue of the de facto confiscation and ownership of  Palestine’s offshore gas reserves have not been challenged.

Michel Chossudovsky, February 28, 2020


War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

by Michel Chossudovsky

January 8, 2009

The December 2008 military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.Will Israel’s Gas Hopes Come True? Accused of Stealing Gas from the Gaza Strip


Map 1

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 “Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)


Map 3The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020


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Gantz’s Electoral Campaign Is Focused on Gaza’s Vulnerability

Image result for Gantz’s Electoral Campaign Is Focused on Gaza’s Vulnerability
Ramona Wadi
August 14, 2019

Five years after the colonial massacre unleashed by Israel on Gaza, known as Operation Protective Edge, Israeli politicians are still eyeing the enclave for ultimate destruction. Former IDF Chief and leader of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, is promoting the same violent tactics that formed part of his earlier electoral campaign: invade Gaza and assassinate Hamas leaders if the conditions Israel demands are not accepted.

“We will aim for the toppling of Hamas, take action to assassinate all Hamas leaders and go in with ground forces for however long we want,” Gantz remarked during a press conference in Sderot.

As the IDF Chief of Staff during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Gantz oversaw the scale of bombardment and massacres against Palestinians civilians. The deliberate violence, which also targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, left thousands of Palestinians displaced. Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed and 11,231 injured, according to UN reports.

Netanyahu has so far refrained from another large-scale aggression against Gaza. While his strategic, intermittent bombing has earned him widespread criticism in within Israel’s settler-society, Netanyahu has merely changed tactics but not ideology. Without any overt declarations of targeting Gaza, Netanyahu is normalising the Israeli agenda and deflect criticism from the international community. The latter was put to the test a few months ago last May, when Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza elicited rhetoric from the international community justifying Israel’s purported right to “defend itself” while blaming Hamas.

While attempting to portray himself as different from Netanyahu, Gantz is merely offering another trajectory of implementing Zionist colonial violence. Israeli media is already running reports of a possible coalition government between Likud and the Blue and White party, thus signalling that despite alleged differences, Netanyahu and Gantz are still in accordance over political issues, notably Gaza, settlement expansion and the prevention of any form of a Palestinian state.

Gantz’s party is proposing the elimination of the Hamas leadership and destruction of its “headquarters, warehouses, operatives,” after which it would “fix the humanitarian situation in Gaza.” This plan of action was outlined by Gabi Ashkenazi, under whose direction as IDF Chief of Staff Operation Cast Lead unfolded in 2008.

Such exploitative comments illustrate Gaza’s vulnerability. In recent years, Palestinians in Gaza have suffered increasing deprivation as a result of endeavours by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community to render humanitarian aid conditional. UN officials have even stated their preference for a return to PA rule in Gaza to facilitate their humanitarian operations. Again, depriving Gaza of basic necessities is also blamed upon Hamas.

Gantz’s solution is to eliminate a political leadership and resistance movement in a large scale, drawn out aggression that will affect Palestinians in Gaza who are still suffering the consequences of the previous Israeli bombardments. Humanitarian aid, according to Gantz, is conditional upon Hamas’s elimination. As Gaza is rendered fragile to Israeli threats and their implementation, the manipulation of humanitarian aid for Palestinians, already a plan in action, will be consolidated.

Furthermore, Gantz is proposing is the re-establishment of Israeli presence in the enclave – a notion which is prevalentamong other Israeli candidates, albeit with different interpretations.  The ground invasion, therefore, must not be thought of merely as a military action tied to a specific operation, but as a possible prelude envisaged by the former IDF chiefs to contain Gaza from within – along with the illegal blockade that continues to threaten the wellbeing of Palestinians.

Once again, the Israeli electorate is facing propaganda that pits Netanyahu’s refined and brutal strategy against the violent “deterrence” promoted by Gantz. Yet, talk of a possible coalition only highlights how close both agendas are in terms of destroying Gaza.  Netanyahu has prepared the groundwork in terms of influencing the international community to turn a blind eye to Israel’s assaults on Gaza. A prospective Israeli government with Netanyahu and Gantz at the helm will build upon what Israel has so far accomplished in generating oblivion when it comes to Palestinians in Gaza.

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

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

Michael Posner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posner was very sympathetic:

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

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

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

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

James Cunningham, former ambassador

to Israel. Now at the Atlantic Council.

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

But the world wasn’t really listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finkelstein goes on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

Global Research, December 15, 2018
Global Research 8 January 2009

Almost ten years ago, Israel invaded Gaza under “Operation Cast Lead”.

The following article was first published by Global Research in January 2009 at the height of the Israeli bombing and invasion under Operation Cast Lead.

In the wake of the invasion, Palestinian gas fields were de facto confiscated by Israel in derogation of international law.

A year following “Operation Cast Lead”,  Tel Aviv announced the discovery of  the Leviathan natural gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean “off the coast of Israel.”

At the time the gas field was: “ … the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.” (i)

Coupled with Tamar field, in the same location, discovered in 2009, the prospects are for an energy bonanza for Israel, for Houston, Texas based Noble Energy and partners Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration. (See Felicity Arbuthnot, Israel: Gas, Oil and Trouble in the Levant, Global Research, December 30, 2013

The Gazan gas fields are part of the broader Levant assessment area.

What is now unfolding is the integration of these adjoining gas fields including those belonging to Palestine into the orbit of Israel. (see map below).

It should be noted that the entire Eastern Mediterranean coastline extending from Egypt’s Sinai to Syria constitutes an area encompassing large gas as well as oil reserves.

It is important to relate issue of Gaza’s offshore gas reserves to the recent massacres undertaken by IDF forces directed against the People of Palestine who own the offshore gas fields.

Michel Chossudovsky, June 12, 2018


War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

by Michel Chossudovsky

January 8, 2009

The December 2008 military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. 

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. 

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.


Map 1

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

 “Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security?  Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics 

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)


Map 3

Haunted by the horrors of israel’s genocidal rampage called “Cast Lead”

Must Read–Haunted by the horrors of Cast Lead

 

ed note–as we point out here often, there was/is/never will be anything unusual or aberrant about Judaic massacres such as Cast Lead. When you are dealing with a group of people who have embraced–according to the teachings and protocols of their religion–the notion that the lives of other human beings mean nothing and are in fact considered necessary food in appeasing the wrath of the angry god which they worship,  then what you have is a recipe for limitless human slaughter, no different than what has taken place in barbaric kingdoms where human sacrifice was the norm.

What makes this particular situation so dangerous (and not only to those who are forced to endure the unfortunate circumstance of living in such close proximity to a nuclear-armed theocratic state that worships a god that demands human sacrifice) to everyone involved is that there are still HUGE swaths of people who simply refuse to look at the glaring evidence indicating the source of the sickness to begin with–Judaism as laid out within the pages of the Torah. Rather than approaching this problem in the only way that reason demands, which is with the rational approach that must accompany any and all exercises rooted in solving a particular problem, instead, people allow their religion-based emotionalism to do all their thinking for them, and rather than isolating and diagnosing the problem for what it is, instead choose to deal only with the symptoms of the disease, thus allowing the virus responsible for the carnage in the first place to continue in its merciless devouring and destruction of innocent human flesh.

electronicintifada.net

The clock was approaching 11:30 in the morning. For children in Gaza, it was the last day in school before a new year holiday. The bell was due to ring shortly.

At 11:27 am on 27 December 2008, Gaza was bombarded by Israeli warplanes. Instead of the anticipated school bell, the children heard the horrifying sound of bombs.

Operation Cast Lead – which began that day – was Israel’s most comprehensive onslaught on Gaza in decades. Israel used its air force, navy, infantry and artillery against a population that already had a long experience of being under military occupation and, more recently, under siege.

By the end of the offensive more than three weeks later, Israel had committed numerous massacres and used phosphorous bombs to target heavily populated areas and even shelled United Nations schools and the main UN food aid warehouse.

Israel paid $10.5 million in “compensation” for some of the damage caused. Yet it never apologized for slaughtering the innocent or targeting the UN schools that harbored hundreds of Palestinian families.

In 23 days, Israel killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 1,100 civilians, of whom 326 were children and 111 were women. It also injured about 5,300, some of whom remain disabled to this very day, and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes.

Yasser Ashour, now studying journalism in Istanbul, survived the attack to become an influential social media activist and a writer on Palestine. He was 14 at the time of the offensive. There were moments when he felt life had no meaning – especially after seeing in person or on TV scores of defenseless Palestinians, including some friends, killed during Israeli strikes.

“I was preparing myself for my final exams,” Ashour told The Electronic Intifada. “Then I heard massive explosions coming from everywhere. Then many other explosions followed. And it continued for 23 days.”

Ashour believes the timing of the Israeli raids was carefully chosen, he said, “to maximize the number of casualties and terrorize Palestinians.”

Ashour was part of a huge wave of schoolchildren who ran home in a situation of extreme fear.

He saw vans and lorries carrying the disfigured bodies of people killed by Israel. Today, he remains haunted by those images.

“Butchered”

Ashour’s worst memories of that time period come from when Israel targeted his school and the surrounding area.

Located in Jabaliya refugee camp, that school – known as al-Fakhoura – was shelled by Israel on 6 January 2009. At the time, it was providing shelter to people who had to flee their homes.

Yet three days earlier, according to Judge Richard Goldstone’s “Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict,” Israel had warned Palestinians “to move to central locations and attend United Nations centers.”

The next day, John Ging, UNRWA director of operations in Gaza, said during a press conference: “There is nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized.”

“I was one of the lucky few,” Ashour said. “When we evacuated our house, we did not have to go to UN schools. My mother distributed our family among several relatives’ homes, so if we were hit by Israeli missiles, some of us would get to survive.”

“But I will never forget the day Israel hit my school, killing 44 civilians,” he added. “Five of them were my own classmates and friends.” Defense for Children International – Palestine noted that 14 children were killed in “close proximity” to the school. Ashour remembered shrapnel injuring people inside the school.

“The next day,” he recalled, “I defied my mother’s pleas and participated in the funerals. It was the least I could do. Those kids that Israel butchered were full of life and full of potential.”

Although Israel claimed it targeted Hamas militants, a UN inquiry into the al-Fakhoura massacre found there was no firing from within the school and no explosives within the school.

The UN relief agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, “had given Israel the exact locations of all schools sheltering civilians,” Ashour noted. “Israel targeted the school on purpose, to terrorize us.”

Ever since the massacre, Ashour has tried to honor the memories of his classmates by exposing Israeli crimes.

“I run a few Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers,” he said. “The battle for justice for Palestine over social media is crucial and we have to win it. We don’t have Israel’s billions but we have the power of truth.”

“He never came back”

Nirvana Modad, 20, lost her father, uncle and a cousin when Israeli drones targeted a funeral tent near her home in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

Nirvana’s father wanted her to be a physician. “I always wanted to become a doctor to save lives and to fulfill my dad’s dream,” she said. Nirvana is studying medicine at Al Azhar University in Gaza.

Alaa Modad, her father, had just gone to the shops to buy groceries.

“My dad sent the stuff he bought home to us with my sister and went to pay his respect to a neighbor killed by Israel whose funeral tent was around the corner,” Nirvana said. “And he never came back.”

While Alaa was visiting it, the funeral tent was hit by two missiles fired from an Israeli drone. That was two days before the end of the offensive.

As mourners in the tent scrambled for cover, several more missiles kept coming. Nine Palestinians were killed on the spot. Many others were injured.

“To me, Israel kills my father every day,” Nirvana said. “I am reminded of him by my medicine books, by my mother’s hard work, by the melancholy that has overwhelmed our home ever since [his death]. And every time Israel kills a Palestinian.”

Her family has continued to suffer because of Israeli state violence.

In 2014, Nirvana’s cousin, Nisma Modad, lost her father during another massive Israeli offensive.

“We escaped the 2008 war by a miracle,” said Nisma. “But in 2014 Israel killed my father. And God knows who Israel will kill next.”

“Sense of panic”

Ahmed Sheikh Khalil is now aged 19.

As he made his way home from school on the first day of Operation Cast Lead, “I saw smoke coming from every direction of Gaza City,” he said. “The explosions were shaking the ground beneath us. There was a sense of panic everywhere. I remember women running in the opposite direction, asking about their kids and telling us not to worry.”

One of Khalil’s cousins was killed in the attack.

“The scene of hundreds of people taking refuge in the UN school nearby haunted me for months,” Khalil said. “It was like what we see on TV happening to other people or happening a long time ago.”

“Like most kids in Gaza, I wanted to be a doctor,” Khalil told The Electronic Intifada. “But after that war and after every assault on Gaza, I realized I could help my people in other ways.”

As Khalil grew up, he became interested in media and journalism. Following another major Israeli attack on Gaza during the summer of 2014, he decided to study English.

“I want to reach and inform people from all over the world and not only Arabs or Muslims,” Khalil said.

The Islamic University of Gaza, where Khalil studies English literature, had many of its laboratories destroyedby Israeli missiles in 2009.

The office of Khalil’s father, who teaches history and politics at the university, was also destroyed.

“When the Israelis hit the Islamic University of Gaza, they claimed they targeted a chemical weapons lab,” Khalil said.

“It was hilarious, despite the tragedy. We joked about my father’s office harboring banned chemicals. But in all seriousness, it amazed me how Israel can lie and make up stories and still manage to deceive the world. I want to do something about this.”

“Too much to ask?”

Amira al-Qirim lost her father and two siblings during Operation Cast Lead.

Amira’s father, Fathi, was struck by Israeli artillery. Her brother and her sister were killed, too, during an attack on the al-Zaytoun area, south of Gaza City.

All three were left to bleed and die. No ambulance was allowed near them.

Herself injured in the attack and unable to walk, Amira crawled and hid in a neighbor’s home. She was found there in a hungry and weak condition three days later.

Amira is now a stay at home mother of two children.

“As a kid who survived that war, and the two others that followed, I volunteered for the media to expose Israel,” she said.

“I traveled to Europe for medical treatment. I spoke to people everywhere about my ordeal,” Amira added.

“I sought justice by filing a complaint to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. But here we are nine years later and Israel still commits crimes every single day, and justice has not yet been done yet.”

“I want my kids to live in peace,” she said. “I want every kid in Palestine to grow up without the possibility that Israel will kill them, or maim them, or orphan them, or traumatize them. Is that too much to ask?”

How Corporate Media Continue To Justify «Israel’s» Criminal Excesses

Cast Lead aggression on Gaza

Local Editor

28-12-2017 | 13:05

Palestine, now approaching its 70th anniversary of usurpation by the apartheid “Israeli” entity, has long been recognized as a laboratory for fine-tuning punitive “Israeli” policies and techniques.

According to a documentation done by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the “ongoing colonization of Palestine and the accompanying atrocities” have enabled the entity to develop “great expertise in repression”, while “exporting these tools and methods on an industrial scale has become crucial to ‘Israeli’ economic political power”.

But Palestine has served as another kind of laboratory, one in which certain Western media figures and other upstanding characters work to perfect their talent for exonerating – and even encouraging – “Israeli” atrocities.

Since 27 December marks the ninth anniversary of the launch of the “Israeli” entity’s Operation Cast Lead – a 22-day affair that dispensed with some 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A New York Time’s analysis by Thomas Friedman is a clear evidence of how corporate media tried to legitimize “Israeli” violence.

As Friedman saw it at the time, Cast Lead was simply “the latest version of the longest-running play in the modern Middle East.

Of course, seeing as “Israel” was, as usual, doing most of the “blowing up” – and that Palestinian civilians perished at a rate of approximately 400: 1 vis-a-vis their “Israeli” counterparts during Cast Lead.

Friedman went on to advocate for war crimes by recalling the entity’s alleged “education of Hezbollah” in its 2006 war on Lebanon and prescribing a similar educational approach to Hamas in Gaza.

In 2006, Friedman wrote, the “Israeli” entity’s strategy had been “to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large”, thereby “exact[ing] enough pain on [Lebanon’s] civilians… to restrain Hezbollah in the future” – an arrangement he said “was not pretty, but it was logical”.

Never mind those pesky international laws against collective punishment.

Other experts in the field of murderous logic include Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who in 2006 proposed his own eloquent “continuum of civilianality” to effectively pardon the “Israeli” entity for regularly slaughtering civilians. He explained that members of “Hezbollah and Hamas … are difficult to distinguish from those civilians… Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do.”

And while Dershowitz and other champions of indiscriminate (but oh-so-civilized) bloodshed complain perennially of a perceived anti-“Israel” bias in the media, the truth of the matter is that media defenses of the entity have become so institutionalized that the situation is almost boring to discuss.

Take Bret Stephens’s Wall Street Journal piece “The Truth About Gaza”, for example, in which he laments the entity’s formal “disengagement” from the Strip in 2005 and manages to define Operation Cast Lead as a “limited action”.

One wonders what unlimited action might entail.

A primary media technique for justifying the entity’s criminal excesses, of course, is to cast each act of “Israeli” brutality as a legitimate response to some or other Palestinian transgression – a right of retaliation that is categorically denied to Palestinians via willful manipulation of cause-and-effect relationships and other chronological sleights of hand.

At this point, it would seem that seven decades of ethnic cleansing, land theft and massacres by the “Israeli” entity might exempt the Palestinians from their permanent role of aggressors.

And yet the inversion of reality persists, aided by a mainstream media that when it can’t hide or justify the entity’s grave misdeeds simply dilutes them.

As the entity continues its periodic onslaughts on the Palestinian coastal enclave, the media rarely misses a beat.

In the face of such shameless journalistic complicity, meanwhile, there are mercifully still humans working to preserve their own humanity – and ours.

And as Friedman’s “longest-running play in the modern Middle East” continues to generate standing ovations for “Israeli”-induced carnage, here’s hoping the curtain will fall – and break the whole theatre in the process.

Source: MEE, Edited by website team

 

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The Israeli Jailer Whose Orders Killed 21 Palestinian Civilians

By Amira Haas | Haaretz

Brig. Gen. (res.) Ilan Malka was recently appointed deputy chief commissioner of the Israel Prison Service and then promoted to commissioner (a rank parallel to major general in the Israel Defense Forces). As someone who has been exonerated for the killing of Palestinian civilians, both beforehand and retroactively, no one is more worthy to move to the top of the pyramid of the Israeli jailers corps.

Malka, a former commander of the Givati Brigade, is one of many who symbolize Israel’s great talent: to be above and beyond the law. That’s also the reason Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now firing in every direction. It’s not because of the UN Security Council resolution, which is too little, too late, but to frighten and deter anyone who dares question our comfortable position of being exempt from punishment, both beforehand and retroactively, both in Israel and around the world.

Malka’s appointment should be highlighted this week, which marks eight years since the winter onslaught against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Operation Cast Lead began on that black Saturday, December 27, 2008.

In the international community, Israel was exonerated from blame and exempt from punishment for killing some 760 besieged Palestinian civilians without shelters and anywhere to flee, and another 260 ordinary city policemen, who were attacked in their police station.

In Israel, Malka was exonerated for the killing of 21 members of the Samouni family from the Zeitoun neighborhood. As usual, the IDF investigated itself and found itself free of any problem.

The Samouni family’s disaster turned it into a symbol of the 2008-09 assault. One order from Malka to press the button on the morning of January 5 sent a few missiles toward the structure in which about a hundred family members had been gathered. His soldiers from the Givati Brigade had conquered the neighborhood 24 hours before, killed a boy and three unarmed adults in or near their home, and took the frightened civilians out of the houses, some of which had been turned into IDF positions.

The soldiers closely supervised the line of old men and old women, the men and the children and the women with babies, who walked in the cold and thought that together, in one building, they would be safe. What’s more, the IDF position was only a few dozen meters away. The soldiers could see that a few men had gone out to get boards to start a fire and make a little bread for the children, who were crying in fear and shivering from cold.

But the high-tech forward command post interpreted the long boards they were carrying as rocket-propelled grenades, and Malka ordered a bombardment. The men carrying the boards were sentenced to death, along with the rest of the civilians in the building, who Malka’s soldiers knew full well were there.

Let’s remember the Samounis’ 10 babies and children that Malka’s order killed that morning: Mohammed, less than 1 year old; Muatasam, 1 year old; Aza, a 2-year-old girl; Nassar, 5; Fares, 12; Ishak, 13; Rizka, a 14-year-old girl; Ismail, 15; Walid, 16; and Huda, a 16-year-old girl. May their memory be blessed.

Now, exempt from blame and punishment, Malka can stand at the head of the institution a third of whose prisoners (about 6,200 according to information provided this month to the Center for the Defense of the Individual) are Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Of only a few may it be said that they have the blood of 21 civilians on their hands.

Meanwhile, there are 572 administrative detainees. Like Malka and other senior Israeli commanders, they have never been brought to court. Only they haven’t killed 21 people, 10 of whom were children, and unlike Malka, they are being punished by a long, indefinite incarceration based on suspicions they are not allowed to know.

Forgetting and causing us to forget the Samouni family’s dead, and the thousands of other Palestinian civilians killed, is an integral part of Israel’s philosophy of existence. We are allowed everything, and anyone who opposes our tyranny is a criminal.

Time Capsule: CNN Attack on Syria’s First Lady

A CNN interview of several years ago with Asma Assad, the wife of Syrian President Bashar Assad, offers us a fascinating look at how the media score propaganda points against foreign leaders the US has slated for regime change.

In the above video, we get the original interview, basically in its more-or-less unedited form. This took place in 2009–I gather early in the year, when Israel was carrying out its ‘Operation Cast Lead’ attack upon Gaza, a conflict which took the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians and in which the Israelis carried out incendiary white phosphorous attacks in densely populated areas, causing deaths from severe burns.

During the interview Mrs. Assad expresses the concerns any normal human being would express over the rising civilian death toll, and she also discusses at some length the hardships faced by Gazans even when they’re not under attack by Israeli planes, this due to the ongoing embargo. Clearly Mrs. Assad is a woman of great compassion as well as great beauty.

But in the next video, CNN launches what might be thought of as the journalistic equivalent of a homicidal ax attack against her. Fast forward–to the year 2012. Mrs. Assad’s country has been invaded by terrorist proxy armies backed by the US and its allies. And the CNN reporter castigates her unmercifully for not speaking out against efforts by the Syrian Army to defend the country, while at the same time heaping contempt upon her earlier expressions of compassion for the Palestinians of Gaza.

“Inspiring words that today ring deafeningly hollow!” he says, his voice dripping with scorn.

In 2012, media attacks this vitriolic were perhaps a bit less common than they are today, though of course they were out there. You’ll notice the reporter includes the standard, obligatory claim of a hospital bombing, though with, as today, no evidence of such presented. We are presumably expected to believe that Mrs. Assad’s husband, an articulate, soft-spoken ophthalmologist by training, suddenly, upon a whim, picked up a phone and ordered an airstrike on a hospital–simply because he enjoys “committing horrific abuses against Syrian citizens.”

Whenever the US decides to target a foreign leader for regime change, the media are always down with the program. This is the way it’s been for a while. Maybe that will change under Donald Trump. His words spoken before an audience in Cincinnati last night are at least encouraging.

“We will destroy ISIS. At the same time, we will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks,” Trump said.

But as we see, the “ship of state” is more than just the White House. It also includes media gargoyles that spew propaganda like a dragon spews fire. Whether Trump can effectively turn the whole thing around, if he even intends to, remains to be seen.

International Criminal Court Gets Slammed; Russia, Other Countries, Withdraw from Body

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By Richard Edmondson

The International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, seems to feel that the only people capable of committing war crimes are Africans.

You can go here to view a list of 32 people indicted by the ICC since the year 2005. All of them are from Africa. The list includes such notable U.S. enemies as Muammar Gaddafi and his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Some African nations have said ‘enough is enough’ and ended their membership in the court, and just last week Russia announced that it too will follow suit.

The International Criminal Court, or ICC, was set up with the passage of the Rome Statute, an international treaty adopted in Rome in 1998. The treaty formally went into effect in 2002, and the ICC began operations that same year. States which have either ratified or become signatories to the treaty become, in turn, members of the ICC. Currently 124 countries, at least officially, hold such membership. These are each allowed one voting representative on the Assembly of State Parties. The ASP is a legislative body set up to provide “management oversight” of the ICC, but usually it only meets once a year.

The court was given a mandate to investigate and prosecute crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. There’s lots of that going on in the world, you know. Crimes against humanity for instance entail large-scale attacks against civilian populations. Just off the top of our heads we might think of, oh, say, Israel’s attacks against Gaza and its deliberate targeting of hospitals, UN schools, and residential buildings.

ustortureiraq

Or take the category “war crimes”–crimes falling under this classification include the torture of prisoners, oh, such as occurred in US-run torture facilities.  Heck, we even have Obama admitting, “We tortured some folks.”

But up until January of this year, just about the only armed conflict venues the ICC had ever launched formal investigations into were in… Africa.

Ah! But on January 27, 2016, in a rare departure, the ICC announced it wouldlook into some alleged crimes committed outside of Africa.

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Umm…to be sure, the scope of this new investigation will not cover US officials such as, say, Alberto Gonzales, or the US treatment of prisoners in Iraq; and…well…neither is the ICC investigating Israel for its firing of white phosphorus shells into a UN compound in Gaza City on January 15, 2008, or the Jewish state’s use of the controversial “Hannibal Directive” during its 2014 war on Gaza, a measure which resulted in the deaths of 190 civilians in the town of Rafah on August 1, 2014–the date Palestinians have since come to refer to as “Black Friday.”

No.

Specifically the ICC has begun, or found itself compelled to begin, an investigation into the Russia-Georgia war over South Ossetia that occurred in 2008. And just to make sure the world understands it is being fair and impartial, the court has announced it has “gathered information on alleged crimes attributed to the three parties involved in the armed conflict – the Georgian armed forces, the South Ossetian forces, and the Russian armed forces.”

So yes, the court is now investigating Russia.

But as I say, the only indictments so far have been of Africans.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that last month three African countries announced their withdrawal from the court. The three countries are: South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia. The Parliament of Kenya has also voted to leave the ICC. And in 2015, the African National Congress issued a public statement in which it asserted that the “ICC is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended.”

But perhaps the real blockbuster came last week when Russia announced it, too, will be withdrawing from the Rome Statute and the ICC. This took place via an announcement posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry on November 16.

Interestingly, on that same day, November 16, University of Illinois Law Professor Francis A. Boyle sent out an email containing a scathing indictment of the ICC, the legal scholar denouncing the court as “a joke and a fraud.”

The comments of both Boyle, who has an extensive background in international law, and the Russian government, were prompted by a recently-released ICC report blandly entitled, “Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2016,” that was  published on the ICC’s website on November 14.

The report (available here in PDF) offers the results of a “preliminary investigation” into nine different conflict areas in the world. The ICC views a preliminary investigation as a necessary step in order to determine “whether a situation meets the legal criteria” needed to warrant a full investigation. In other words, the ICC is investigating whether or not to do an investigation.

Of the nine different conflict areas, two are of particular interest: Palestine and Ukraine. Russia’s main concern, as you might expect, would be the findings pertaining to the latter. The concerns expressed by Boyle, on the other hand, were focused on the section of the report dealing with Palestine. Let’s take Palestine first.

The ICC on Palestine

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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The report is a declaration of activities undertaken by the branch of the ICC known as the Office of the Prosecutor, referred to in the document as “OPT”, or simply “the Office.” The OPT’s main area of inquiry is the 2014 Gaza conflict, known as Operation Protective Edge. By contrast, Operation Cast Lead, the bloody conflict which took place in 2008-09, goes completely unmentioned, and the term “white phosphorus” does not appear anywhere in the report.

While the report does supply a “contextual background” to the Israel-Palestine conflict–in the course of which the Six-Day War is mentioned, as are Israel’s “unilateral withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005 and the election of Hamas the following year–most of the section on Palestine, as I say, deals with the events of 2014.

“All parties are alleged to have committed crimes during the 51-day conflict,” the report states, and the words “alleged” or “allegedly” are employed repeatedly throughout.

Alleged crimes said to have been committed by Palestinians include “attacks against civilians,” “use of protected persons as shields” and “ill-treatment of persons accused of being collaborators.” A single paragraph is devoted to each category, following which the report moves on to “Acts allegedly committed by the IDF,” and here the “alleged” crimes include “attacks against residential buildings and civilians,” “attacks against medical facilities and personnel,” “attacks against UNRWA schools,” and “attacks against other civilian objects and infrastructure.” Once again, a single paragraph is devoted to each alleged crime.

The ICC says it has reviewed “over 320 reports as well as related documentation and supporting material” in the course of conducting its preliminary investigation. The report also mentions a trip to Israel by the OPT that took place October 5 to 10, 2016. The visit is said to have been facilitated by “Israeli and Palestinian authorities,” but apparently did not include a visit to Gaza. At least none is mentioned. One place they did visit, however, is Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where supposedly the OPC staff “engaged with the law faculty.” Why there was need for such an engagement is not clear, although the report does say the trip to Israel as a whole was undertaken for purpose of “raising awareness about the ICC” as well as to “address any misperceptions” about the judicial body.

Boyle’s comments about the ICC report, or at least his “alleged” comments, we might say, were posted at the Al-Awda Yahoo group (Yahoo login required), and were also sent out by email.

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In addition to branding the ICC “a joke and a fraud” the comment also makes reference to the visit to Hebrew University, which indeed is described on page 32 of the report.

The ICC’s “conclusion and next steps” in regard to its investigation on Palestine will be aimed at “continuing to engage in a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information available, in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.” It will also “assess information on potentially relevant national proceedings, as necessary and appropriate.”

The ICC on Ukraine

Like Boyle’s posted comment, Russia’s announced withdrawal from the ICC also came on November 16–in a statement posted on the website of the nation’s Foreign Ministry. The statement does not single out Ukraine or the ICC report specifically. Its criticisms of the court are generalized. But the timing, just two days after the report’s publication, would strongly suggest that the one was prompted by the other.

The ICC report portrays the Maidan protests largely as a spontaneous popular uprising, making no mention of the US role in the overthrow of the Yanukovych government. Reference to the leaked phone conversation between the State Department’s Victoria Nuland and Jeffry Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, in which the two discussed who would become the new Ukrainian head of state, is completely omitted. “The protest movement continued to grow in strength and reportedly diversified to include individuals and groups who were generally dissatisfied with the Yanukovych Government and demanded his removal from office,” says the report, and the narrative adhered to is primarily that of the US:

On 21 February 2014, under European Union mediation, President Yanukovych and opposition representatives agreed on a new government and fixed Presidential elections for May 2014. However, on 22 February 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to remove President Yanukovych, and he left the country that day to the Russian Federation.

In other words, it was all legal and on the up-and-up.

The relaying of events in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine also follows a similar pattern. The Crimean referendum of March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of voters chose to rejoin Russia, is referred to as “the alleged decision of residents of Crimea to join the Russian Federation,” with the report mentioning that the referendum “was declared invalid by the interim Ukrainian Government.” The “interim Ukrainian Government” means, of course, the government installed by the US, though the report doesn’t say so.

While occasional reference is made to crimes committed by “all sides” or “both sides” in the Ukrainian conflict, clearly the main focus is on the alleged transgressions of Russia and, to a lesser extent, those of armed opposition groups in Donbass that are allied to Russia. The crimes cited include:

  • Harassment of Crimean Tatar population
  • Killing and abduction
  • “Ill treatment”
  • Detention
  • Disappearance
  • Torture

The report also talks about destruction of property, including homes and schools, asserting that this has occurred “in both government-controlled territory and in areas controlled by armed groups.” But its fundamental conclusion is that the situation in Ukraine is legally classified as an “armed conflict.” As such, “the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol factually amounts to an on-going state of occupation.” Occupation by Russia, that is. Furthermore, “a determination of whether or not the initial intervention which led to the occupation is considered lawful or not is not required.” Or in other words, while Russia conceivably may have had some valid concerns (though the report leaves it entirely up to the reader’s imagination to guess what these might be), none of these will be taken into consideration by the ICC.

As noted above, the statement put out by the Russia Foreign Ministry makes no direct reference to the November 14 report, and its criticisms of the ICC are of a mostly generalized nature:

The ICC as the first permanent body of international criminal justice inspired high hopes of the international community in the fight against impunity in the context of common efforts to maintain international peace and security, to settle ongoing conflicts and to prevent new tensions.

Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal. The work of the Court is characterized in a principled way as ineffective and one-sided in different fora, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is worth noting that during the 14 years of the Court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars.

And while Ukraine isn’t specifically mentioned, the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia is:

The Russian Federation cannot be indifferent to the Court’s attitude vis-a-vis the situation of August 2008. The Saakashvili regime’s attack on peaceful Tshinval, the assassination of the Russian peacekeepers resulted in the Court’s accusations against South-ossetian militia and Russian soldiers. Eventual investigation of actions and orders of Georgian officials was left to the discretion of the Georgian justice and remains outside of the focus of the ICC Prosecutor’s office attention. This development speaks for itself. We can hardly trust the ICC in such a situation.

The statement also acknowledges the widespread dissatisfaction with the ICC by countries in Africa:

In this regard the demarche of the African Union which has decided to develop measures on a coordinated withdrawal of African States from the Rome Statute is understandable. Some of these States are already conducting such procedures.

Conclusions

While some of those indicted over the years by the ICC may well have deserved it, at the same time, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that the court has been used as a tool by powerful countries. Yes, it’s true, the ICC is conducting an ongoing “preliminary investigation” into the conflict in Afghanistan. The November 14 report in fact includes a section on Afghanistan which addresses crimes committed by the three main parties to the conflict: the Taliban, Afghan government forces, and the US-led international forces. With regard to the latter, the ICC states it has “a reasonable basis to believe” that the US “resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and rape.”

Yet elsewhere in the same section, a somewhat contradictory view is offered:

Having reviewed information on a large number of incidents attributed to the international forces, the Office has determined that, although these operations resulted in incidental loss of civilian life and harm to civilians, in most incidents the information available does not provide a reasonable basis to believe that the military forces intended the civilian population as such or individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities to be the object of attack.

The report goes on to discuss “a few other incidents,” said to involve international forces, though without offering much hope of a prosecution due to “a paucity of the information” concerning them.

The chances of the ICC prosecuting any US official for war crimes seems slim, and indeed as the New York Times put it in a report published on November 14, the court’s prosecutor “has been considering whether to begin a full-fledged investigation into potential war crimes [committed by the US] in Afghanistan for years.”

Or to be more precise, for years the prosecutor has been “investigating whether to investigate” the US.

Interestingly, the Times article goes on to note as well that the court has been “under great pressure to show that it is unbiased in its targets for investigation.”

I have yet to point it out, but I will do so here: the ICC report of November 14 also contains no mention of Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

In the wake of Moscow’s announcement of its withdrawal from the ICC, two Russian writers, Dmitry Rodionov and Sergey Aksenov, published a commentaryon the issue, noting, as did the Foreign Ministry, that the judicial body had spent more than $1 billion over the 14 years of its existence and in the process had handed down only four sentences. They comment:

…The Hague prosecutor called the Crimean referendum “illegal” and the situation on the peninsula “occupation.” The fact that Russian troops were present on the peninsula according to agreements with Ukraine is ignored by the report.

For all of next year and perhaps even longer, the ICC will gather evidence on Crimea. Hague investigations are usually dragged on for years. For example, the court’s prosecutor received permission to investigate the events in South Ossetia from 2008 only this year….

According to lawyer Ilya Novikov, the court’s negative decision on Crimea could potentially result in formal charges and ICC arrest warrants. This will enable the countries complying with the Rome Statue to arrest Russian citizens and send them to the Hague court.

Assistant professor of political theory at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh, has pointed out that the ICC’s legal position is incorrect. It was not an annexation that took place in Crimea like the Hague asserts, but a secession: first Crimea seceded from Ukraine and only then joined Russia. According to Koktysh, the ICC’s initiative resembles a PR action rather than a strict legal procedure.

Whether the ICC is engaging in a “PR action,” as the Russians comment, or whether the court is a “joke and a fraud,” as Boyle would seem to have it, the upshot is that for the entire 14 years since the court came into existence, the biggest war criminals in the world have skated away scot-free.

Shimon Peres… The Real Face of Zionist Entity’s Bloody Policies

September 28, 2016

Israeli ex-president Shimon Peres

To the West, Shimon Peres is the ‘Nobel laureate’ and the ‘tireless dove’ who has been widely respected for his ‘achievements’ regarding the peace in the Middle East. However, behind this image Peres -who died on Wednesday- represents the real face of the bloody and colonial policies adopted by the Zionist regime.

Over seven decades, Peres served as prime minister (twice) and president. He was a member of 12 cabinets and had stints as defense, foreign and finance minister.

He is perhaps best known in the West for his role in the negotiations that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords which won him, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize.

Born in Poland in 1923, Peres moved along with his family to Palestine in the 1930s. As a young man, he joined the Haganah, the militia primarily responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages during the Nakba in 1947-49.

Despite the violent displacement of the Palestinians being a matter of historical record, Peres has always insisted that Zionist forces “upheld the purity of arms” during the establishment of the Zionist entity, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) reported. He even claimed that before ‘Israel’ existed, “there was nothing here”.

Nuclear Weapons and Qana Massacre

He was also seen as a driving force in the development of Israel’s undeclared nuclear program. Peres has been described as “an architect of Israel’s nuclear weapons program which, to this day, “remains outside the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In 1975, as secret minutes have since revealed, Peres met with South African Defense Minister PW Botha and “offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime.” In 1986, Peres authorized the Mossad operation that saw nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu kidnapped in Rome.

Peres then had a key role in the military regime imposed on Palestinian citizens until 1966, under which authorities carried out mass land theft and displacement.

He has been also known for supporting illegal settlements in the West Bank.

As prime minister in 1996, Peres ordered and oversaw “Operation Grapes of Wrath” when Israeli armed forces killed some 154 civilians in Lebanon and injured another 351. The operation, widely believed to have been a pre-election show of strength, saw Lebanese civilians intentionally targeted.

The campaign’s most notorious attack was the Qana massacre, when Israel shelled a United Nations compound and killed 106 sheltering civilians.

Defending Blockade, Wars on Gaza

Perese also defended the collective punishment and military brutality against the besieged Gaza strip.

In January 2009, Peres urged “national solidarity” behind the ‘Operation Cast Lead’, describing the campaign as “Israel’s finest hour.”

During “Operation Pillar of Defense” in November 2012, Peres “took on the job of helping the Israeli public relations effort, communicating the Israeli narrative to world leaders,” in the words of Ynetnews.

In 2014, during an unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, Peres stepped up once again to whitewash war crimes. After Israeli forces killed four small children playing on a beach, Peres knew who to blame – the Palestinians: “It was an area that we warned would be bombed,” he said. “And unfortunately they didn’t take out the children.”

Source: MEMO

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THE DAY ISRAELI TERRORISM STOLE MY LIFE

Omar

مصعب

Omar Khader (center) with his brothers and cousin. Musab (left).

by Omar Khader

I was born in Gaza, Palestine. My whole life I have lived under illegal military occupation. I have seen many wars on my people, but the most difficult was the 2008/2009 war and the 2014 war.

My brother, Musab, was my best friend. We were two years apart in age. We grew up together. We went to the same school and we did everything together. We even slept in the same bed. We laughed ourselves to sleep. We were one soul in one body.

One morning, during the terrifying 2008 war on Gaza, Musab woke me up and said he will go with Father to our house. Yes, it was the 2008 war which was one of the vilest and ugliest wars endured by the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation used internationally banned weapons on defenceless civilians, such as White Phosphorous.

My family moved out into my grandparents house when the war began. Many refugee’s were created and people were forced to leave their homes because of the war.

That day was like the past days where we were forced to listen to the sounds of explosions.

After we had our breakfast, Musab, came near me and said, “I will go with my father to our home, to bring some things from there.” When we left our home, we did not take anything with us from the house. Also, Musab wanted to feed his chickens. I tried to stop him but he said, “there is a cease-fire and every thing will be ok. “ So I said “ok,” but inside I felt fear.

I went to the youth to ask them if there really is a cease-fire or not. They told me “yes there is.” Then I said every thing will be ok and Musab left.

After one hour, while I was talking to my cousin, Musab called me to ask me to help him transfer the municipal water from a water car, into the my grandparents tanks. We help him, but he was the active one of us. Musab was the most loved member of our family because he was always busy helping everyone.

At 3pm, while I sat with my cousin, Musab called me once again. He looked at me and said, “I want to go with Father as you know and Mother wants me to go with her to our sister’s house.”

He then suggested I go with Mother. I looked at him and said “ok, but take care yourself.” He said, “everything will be ok,” then he left. While he was leaving, I said to him, “Don’t forget to bring me my clothes!” He smiled and said, “I will not forget that.”

Then he was gone. I did not know that would be the last time I would see him.

مصعب خضر-1
Musab Khader

As we arranged, he went with Father and I went with Mother to our sister’s house. While I was walking with Mother in the street, I was looking into her face and I was seeing something strange. She did not talk to me on the road. She was quiet the entire way to my sister’s home. Mother stayed there just 5 minutes, then she decided to leave. My sister and I were surprised by our Mother’s behaviour. I said “ok, let’s go back home.”

Walking back at home, I could see my mother was feeling something terribly wrong. I began thinking of Father and Musab. When we got to my grandparent’s house, she did not enter the house. She stopped and was thinking. I went directly to her and took hold of her hand. We entered the house together. We were there a few minutes and then we heard a big explosion in the street.

On my way to see what happened outside, my cousin Ahmed rushed to me crying and said, “your brother Musab was murderd!”

OMG! When I heard those words, I fell to the ground. After 2 minutes, I gathered my strength and went out to see what was there. I saw a lot of people crowded around my Father, who was drowned in Musab’s blood.

I saw my most beloved brother laying down on the ground, his body mutilated. I went straight to Father, looked into his eyes and asked, “did my brother Musab, die?” He pulled me to him, hugging me so hard and said, “yes, he in heaven now.”

I fell to the ground crying. When Father and Musab got to our home, Musab wanted to feed the chickens, which were in a small room near the house. While he was opening the door, the Israeli occupation targeted him with a rocket, killing him.

Father was near Musab when the rocket struck him. Father was not hurt. He stood up and screamed for Musab, but he did not answer. Then, Father came close to my brother and found him dead, near the chickens he had been feeding.

Father carried Musab’s body back home to us. It was the most difficult moment for him, seeing his son killed in front of his own eyes.

20160207_153524 (1)My relatives began preparing for the funeral. They wrapped Musab’s body in white cloth. After 30 minutes, we carried his body to the mosque.

All our relatives prayed together for Musab’s soul. I was crying while I prayed. I could think only of my father in that moment. Our relatives prayed for our protection and asked Allah to bless us with patience.

When my relatives began to place Musab’s body in the grave and I watched them putting my brother in the ground, I could not see that. I fell, fainting. When I woke up, I sat up, next to Musab’s grave and cried and cried. I did not want to leave him, but my family forced me to. They carried me home.

When I got to my grandparent’s house, I saw my sisters and Mother crying. When they saw me, they hugged me hard and kissed me.

I could not sleep that night. I was sitting near my father, who was crying and thanking Allah for taking Musab to a better place.

I got hurt when I lost my brother, deep inside my soul. Even until these days. He was everything to me. We could not believe he was gone.

My brother was not a terrorist as the Israeli occupation said he was. He was murdered at 14-years-old. He did not have any weapons in his hands when he was killed. Musab had a very kind heart. He was feeding chickens when the occupation murdered him. They killed him because he is Palestinian. Yes, they killed him because they love to killchildren.

Yes, they killed him because they fear Palestinian children! Because they know we grow up under occupation and one day we will reject it. One day we may leave Palestine, to follow our dreams, but the desire to return to our homeland is always too strong.

Our pure desire’s can never be defeated. We always return. And our children are born with and carry the desire within them, to return to our blessed homeland. We will never give up the hope that we can one day return to Palestine.

Yes, they killed my brother but they cannot kill our hope. Yes, we will never give up and we will never give in to our genocide.

We will continue in this way to defend our lands and our traditions. Yes we will send our message to the world, that we are not numbers! We are human beings, just like you and we have the right to live in peace.

I hate the wars that I have endured. I love peace and I will do everything for my country and for my people to live in peace.

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Omar Khader is a student of English Literature at Alazhar University in Gaza, Occupied Palestine. He is a Middle East Rising contributor.

Gaza in Context… Watch it!!!

July 27, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

Voltaire Network: Saudi Arabia Building Embassy in Tel Aviv

Voltaire Network

PARIS, (ST)-In preparation for bringing the Saudi-Israeli secret relations to light, Saudi Arabia has begun the construction of a huge embassy in “Israel”, probably the most important in Tel-Aviv, according to Voltaire Network.

The Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz has nominated Prince Walid Ben Talal (5th world fortune with Citigroup, Movenpick, Four Seasons) as the Kingdom’s next ambassador in “Israel”, the network said in a report on Sunday.

 Meetings between Saudi intelligence officers and Israeli officials have recently become open, reflecting the two sides’ insistence to boost mutual relations.

Shedding more light on the Saudi-Israeli cooperation, the network said that the two sides do not maintain official diplomatic relations, however, the Quincy Pact, signed between US President Franklin Roosevelt and Saudi King Abdelaziz in 1945, and renewed by President Bush and King Fahd in 2005, stipulates amongst other things that the kingdom of Al Saud would not oppose a “Jewish” homeland in Palestine.

The network pointed out it was not the United States, but former Saudi King Abdallah bin Abdul Azizi who financed the Israeli aggression called “Cast Lead” against the Gaza Strip in 2008-09 in which thousands of Palestinians were martyred and wounded.

Currently, the network said, Israel and Saudi Arabia are fighting a war together in Yemen, from a command centre in the non-recognized state of Somaliland. They are planning several operations for the exploitation of oil reserves in Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

It is worth mentioning that the recent meeting between the Israeli and Saudi spy chiefs over expanding cooperation indicates that Saudi Arabia gives no heed to the Israeli occupation crimes against the Palestinians and against other  peoples of the region.

Hamda Mustafa

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Bernie Sanders Has Qualified As A Rabbi

April 21, 2016  /  Gilad Atzmon

image by jpupdates.com

By Gilad Atzmon

The Times of Israel  explained earlier this week “How Bernie Sanders just became the rabbi of the Jewish left.”

For most of his campaign, “Sanders had seemed to avoid talking about his Jewishness.” This changed radically last week ahead of the April 19 primary in his native New York, the most Jewish city in America.  In New York, the Israeli outlet reports, Sanders presented a “principled” stand “as a Jew” on anti-Semitism and his relationship with the Jewish community and Israel.  In the early stages of his campaign Bernie seemed to oppose identiterian politics. But last week in outreaching to NY Jews, Bernie employed the usual ID political maneuvers and Zionist tricks from the Hasbara book. The Times Of Israel and the Jewish press see a “Rabbi” in Bernie for good reason.

At a rally in Harlem on April 9, Sanders faced down what the Jewish press described as an “anti-Semitic questioner.” The so called ‘anti Semite’ asked Bernie,  “As you know, the Zionist Jews, they run the Federal Reserve, they run Wall Street….What is your affiliation to the Jewish community?”

I fail to see the anti Semitism. The question states established facts about powerful Jewish elites and raises a legitimate query regarding Bernie’s political and tribal affiliation.  Far more concerning was Bernie’s answer.

“That’s not what you’re asking,” Sanders retorted to applause. “I am proud to be Jewish.”

I wonder, is this really the case?  Do you follow Torah and Mitzvoth Mr. Sanders? What are you proud of exactly? Is it a set of ‘Jewish values,’ Jewish blood or is it your chicken soup recipe you are proud of?

Bernie provided his answer. By ‘Jewish pride’ he meant to say that he is “a strong defender of Israel” but he also “believes that we have got to pay attention to the needs of the Palestinian people.” This is apparently the sense of justice and impartiality conveyed by the new American socialist messiah: ’strong defense of the oppressor’ vs. ‘paying attention to the needs of the victim.’ Sadly, the position Sanders presented in Harlem is typical of the Jewish progressive approach to the Middle East. Total commitment to Israel peppered with some non-committal diluted verbal empathy towards the true people of the land i.e., the Palestinians.

“Jews are the 99 percent,” Bernie said to cheers from Harlem’s supportive crowd. Bernie cleverly failed to mention 99% of what. Did he mean 99% of the neocon club?  Because, truth better be said,  Jews are not well represented within America’s rapidly growing under class. Quite the opposite. Jews make up about 2% of the American population and they are among the most privileged ethnic groups in the US.

Sanders’ Middle East terminology could easily have been copied from a Likud pamphlet. In Sanders’ universe, freedom fighters are terrorists; the invaders and illegal setters are ‘peace seeking victims.’ “Of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack.” Sanders said in the last debate.

Sanders seems to be genuinely troubled by the massacre in Gaza where “some 10,000 civilians [who] were wounded and some 1,500 [who] were killed.” This is more critical of Israel than Mrs. Clinton is willing to be, but for those who may have forgotten, Bernie is parroting the Israeli Hsbara line. Israel, they always report, doesn’t want to kill women and children but is left with no other option. Sanders like Bibi, Regev and Lieberman basically blames the victims.

Unlike Clinton and Trump, Bernie didn’t join the groveling march to AIPAC’s recent gathering. Clinton and Trump had to compete for the attention of the Lobby that dominates American Foreign Policy so that it will crown one of them as its favourite Sabbos Goy. Bernie is no Sabbos Goy. Bernie is a ‘proud Jew’ by admission and a “Rabbi” according to The Times of Israel. The Times reports that he’s been “defending Israel to left-wing audiences, in his strident way. His closest friends in Vermont are Jewish. He’s handy with a Hebrew blessing.”

Bernie is apparently good for the Jews. But what about America? I guess we can hope for divine intervention.

Anti-BDS Motion in Canada: Why Does Govt. Sanction Other Countries for Human Rights Violations, but not Israel?

tnet

“It is now worth taking a look at the countries against which Canada has placed sanctions and why, since all of them, without exception,pale in comparison to Israel’s bloody record…”

Anti-BDS Motion – Why Does Canada Sanction Other Countries for Human Rights Violations but Not Israel?

Global Research, February 26, 2016
BDS-Logo-Israel-Boycott

The international community, speaking through the United Nations, has identified three regimes as inimical to human rights – colonialism, apartheid and foreign occupation… Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem contains elements of all three of these regimes”. – John Dugard, UN’s former Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

This week, the Canadian Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

The motion, passed on February 22 by a 229-51 vote, states:

“That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

First, there is no such thing as “friendship” between states. States have no friends, they have interests and nothing else.

Second, the BDS movement does not promote “the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel,” as the motion puts it, in a very unfactual and questionable manner. The BDS movement promotes international law and Palestinian rights and condemns Israel’s total lack of respect for both.

Despite its emotional and propagandist wording, the motion completely fails to hide the fact that it condemns criticism of human rights violations by Israel. This calls for some explanations.

By condemning a peaceful movement that tries to bring Israel to account, Canada expresses its total disregard for human rights and international law and its sheer hypocrisy when faced with human rights violations.

There are currently 22 states targeted by Canadian sanctions, several of them for human rights violations. And Israel, being Canada’s “friend”, is not one of them, even if the sanctioned countries’ misdeeds pale in comparison to the death and destruction Israel has imposed on Palestinians for decades.

While not one sanction has been imposed on Israel for its war crimes and crimes against humanity, some countries have been sanctioned by Canada simply for “misappropriating state funds.”

There are no words to describe the scale of this hypocrisy, but, we don’t need any since the facts speak for themselves. Before looking at the list of sanctioned countries and the reasons behind their sanctions, it is worth mentioning only a few facts about Israel.

As mentioned in the quote above, Israel’s policies and practices violate the most fundamental human rights of the Palestinians. The Hebrew state has been the subject of at least 77 UN resolutions since 1955, and has been criticized in at least 26 resolutions for its violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

In July 2015, a report by Amnesty International found “compelling evidence of serious violations of international humanitarian law by Israeli forces” as well as “strong evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity” during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza.” Evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity were also found during Operation Cast Lead in 2008.

Of course, most reports from the U.N. as well as the ones from human rights organizations mentioned below pretend to be “balanced” by equally blaming both sides, the Israeli army as well as Palestinian militias. If opinions can be “balanced”, facts, however, cannot, and the scale of death and destruction doesn’t lie. Most, if not all the damage and loss of life occurs on the Palestinian side. Every single time.

These few facts about Operations Cast Lead in 2008 and Protective Edge in 2014 prove it:

Cast Lead:

[B]etween 1,385 and 1,419 Palestinians were killed during Cast Lead, a majority of them civilians, including at least 308 minors under the age of 18. More than 5000 more were wounded. Thirteen Israelis were also killed, including 3 civilians.

According to the UN, 3,540 housing units were completely destroyed, with another 2,870 sustaining severe damage.

More than 20,000 people – many of them already refugees, some two or three times over – were made homeless.

Protective Edge:

At least 2,100 Palestinians were killed, of whom the United Nations identified more than 1,500 as civilians, and approximately 11,000 people, mostly civilians, were injured. The tens of thousands of Israeli attacks caused the vast majority of destruction during the fighting, which left uninhabitable 22,000 homes, displacing 108,000 people, and left hundreds of thousands without adequate water or electricity.

Attacks by Palestinian civilians injured 61 Israeli settlers in the West Bank as of October 31, the UN reported. In addition to the three Israeli teenagers who were killed in June, nine Israeli civilians were killed by Palestinians.

How many dead Israeli civilians compared to Palestinian civilians? How many housing units destroyed in Israel? How many homeless Israelis? Let’s be honest. A truly balanced report would reflect the facts and not try to equally blame both sides. The forces in this conflict as well as the damage done are anything but equal. They are completely disproportionate.

That being said, Israel’s contempt for international law is legend and with this motion, Canadian Parliamentarians have just proven one more time they are bought and sold.

It is now worth taking a look at the countries against which Canada has placed sanctions and why, since all of them, without exception, pale in comparison to Israel’s bloody record.

The list clearly shows how Canada has no credibility whatsoever when it comes to condemning states for their lack of respect for human rights or people who protest against criminal states, for that matter.

Here is the list of the countries sanctioned for human rights reasons. It should be noted that several, if not all, background explanations provided on the Canadian Government web site (in brackets) are totally biased and simplistic, when not pure propaganda.

Belarus: “[D]eteriorating human rights situation.”

This includes “widespread harassment and detention of opposition party campaign workers, the physical assault of senior opposition figures, arbitrary use of state powers to support the incumbent president, pressure on state workers and students to support the President, restrictions on the ability of opposition campaigns to communicate with the electorate, and control of the state media to severely restrict access by opposition candidates.”

What happens it the Occupied Territories is much worse, yet no sanctions against Israel.

Burma: “[G]ravity of the human rights and humanitarian situation…, which threatened peace and security in the entire region.”

Libya: “[V]iolence and the use of force against civilians.”

Day-to-day in the Occupied Territories.

Russia: “Activists were beaten, kidnapped and tortured [in Ukraine]. The Russian government encouraged, and supported, these measures.”

Meanwhile, more and more “Palestinian children [are] beaten and tortured by Israeli security forces while in detention.” Read also Israeli NGO B’Tselem’s report Backed by the System: Abuse and Torture at the Shikma Interrogation Facility.

Sudan: “[H]umanitarian crisis and widespread human rights violations resulting from the conflict in Darfur region”

Syria: “The Syrian Government’s violent crackdown on peaceful protesters led to many civilian deaths and injuries. Thousands of civilians were detained arbitrarily and there were credible reports of summary executions and torture.”

Israel arbitrarily detains Palestinians on a regular basis, including children, and summary executions and torture and common.

According to B’Tselem: At the end of Dec. 2015, 422 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners, including 6 administrative detainees.”

According to Human Rights Watch:

Israeli security forces continued to arrest children suspected of criminal offenses, usually stone-throwing, in their homes at night, at gunpoint; question them without a family member or lawyer present; and coerce them to sign confessions in Hebrew, which they do not understand… As of October 31, Israel held 457 Palestinian administrative detainees without charge or trial, based on secret evidence. Israeli prison authorities shackled hospitalized Palestinians to their hospital beds after they went on long-term hunger strikes to protest their administrative detention.”

Last year, Amnesty International has condemned “what it called a ‘clear pattern’ of… summary killings… as the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this month [October 2015] rose to at least 61. )

Ukraine: “Activists were beaten, kidnapped and tortured.”

Zimbabwe: “marked escalation in human rights violations and violence directed at the political opposition, a stolen election, the denial of a peaceful democratic transition and a worsening humanitarian situation.”

Other reasons for which Canada has sanctioned countries include:

– “political crisis and conflict” (Yemen, Somalia);

– “violations of ceasefire and hostilities” (Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo);

– “misappropriated state funds” (Egypt, Tunisia);

– “heavy loss of human life and widespread material damage resulting from a conflict” (Eritrea, Somalia);

– “nuclear program” (Sanctions on Iran, which has a nonexistent nuclear program, but none on Israel, which is known to possess between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads.)

– “invasion” (Sanctions on Iraq for the invasion of Kuwait… but no sanctions for the U.S. which has illegally invaded Iraq, among other countries, and of course, no sanctions on Israel for decades of occupation);

– “continued escalation of hostilities” (Lebanon)

– “support for the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone” (Liberia)

– “violation of the constitution and international law” (Ukraine).

– “conducting a test of a nuclear weapon” (North Korea)

– “acts of violence and the increase in acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea against vessels” (Somalia)

– “engaging in violent conflict, much of it along ethnic lines” (South Sudan)

As you probably noticed, none of these countries has been accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Canada imposes sanctions on countries for misappropriated state funds, but regards war criminal state Israel as a “friend” which deserves that it condemns its own citizens for protesting against its supreme crime.

Parliamentarians need to explain this nonsense.

As a member of the United Nations, Canada should, as stated in the U.N. Preamble, “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and… establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.”

By voting in favour of this motion, Canadian Parliamentarians have failed to honor their obligations.Miserably.

 

Israel a criminal offender at large, UN listing or not

Posted on June 6, 2015 by 

Reuters/Ammar Awad

By Eva BartlettReports have come out that the UN was considering adding Israel to the list of “grave violations against children in armed conflict.” As detailed below, Israeli army and Israel’s state policies are systematically violent against Palestinian children.

A recent Independent article noted that [Special Envoy for Children and Armed Conflict Leila] “Zerrougui’s draft report cited IDF attacks on schools and hospitals during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip…”

Even though the UN has historically not taken strong action against any of Israel’s war crimes over the decades, let alone those specifically against Palestinian children, Israel has reportedly exerted pressure to be de-listed from the draft list, with seeming success.

The Independent wrote,

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, however, is said to be leaning towards not including Israel in the list, amid what several diplomatic sources anonymously said was intense lobbying from Israel.”

Apparently, Israel thinks such call for its joining the list is “a heinous and hypocritical attempt to besmirch the image of Israel and it is doomed to fail,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon reportedly said.

In fact, the UN should have listed Israel from at least 2009 when, as the UN website notes“the Security Council decided to also list armed forces and groups who kill and maim children, commit sexual violence against children, and attack schools and hospitals.”

Does Israel violate the six areas detailed? Five out of six, most definitely:

– Killing or maiming of children; [See below]

– Sexual violence against children; [The Israeli army routinely threatens and enacts sexual abuse of Palestinian children]

– Attacks against schools or hospitals; [The Israeli army routinely fires ammunition and tear gas at Palestinian schools; it has repeatedly bombed schools and hospitals in Gaza]

– Abduction of children; [See below]

– Denial of humanitarian access for children. [Israel’s blockade on Gaza strangles the medical sector; Israel routinely denies exit to Palestinians ( including children) for medical care outside of Gaza; the illegal wall Israel has constructed throughout much of the West Bank prevents Palestinians (including children) from accessing medical care.] [see also: Al Mezan Releases Factsheet on Gazan Children’s Access to Medical Care]

– Recruitment or use of children by armed forces and groups; [This is the one point which strictly speaking doesn’t apply. However, the Israeli army has used Palestinian children as human shields]

Members of the Israeli army themselves have admitted various crimes. A Breaking the Silence report“Children and Youth – Soldiers’ Testimonies 2005-2011” noted:

“This booklet reveals how physical violence is often exerted against children, whether in response to accusations of stone-throwing or, more often, arbitrarily.”

Further testimonies following the the July/August 2014 war on Gaza highlight the brutality meted out on Palestinians (including children).

Killing or maiming of children

Having between November 2008 and March 2013 lived a cumulative three years in the Gaza Strip, including during two Israeli waged massacres of Palestinians in Gaza, I present three (of too many) cases of Israel targeting children, of which I have personal knowledge.

On January 4, 2009, Shahed Abu Halima lay cradled in her mother’s arms, the family terrorized like Palestinians all over Gaza by incessant Israeli bombing. Their area, al-Atatra, west of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, was particularly hard-hit, and had been invaded by Israeli tanks. Of the two shells that hit baby Shahed’s home, at least one was white phosphorous, raining clumps of the chemical weapon down on the family. The flames which enveloped Shahed’s body were not extinguishable, nor could her mother Sabah see through the smoke and flames to reach the infant. Shahed’s dog-eaten, charred corpse was only found days later when Palestinian medics were finally allowed to enter the area. [see: Next Time It Will Hurt More]

Farah Abu Halima, 3, severely burned by Israeli-fired White Phosphorus, January 4, 2009 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

Farah Abu Halima, 3, severely burned by Israeli-fired White Phosphorus, January 4, 2009 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

Also on January 4, 2009, Shireen Abu Helou continued nursing her dying baby, Farah (“joy” in Arabic), in a futile effort to bring the infant comfort while her family took cover from Israeli fire behind a bulldozed dirt mound in the Zeitoun district just south of Gaza City (infamous for the herding of entire families from the Samouni clan into one building and repeatedly bombing it; infamous for the point blank shootings of individuals, including 4-year-old Ahmed shot dead after crying about his father’s execution). One-year-old Farah did not survive the Israeli sniper’s bullet to her abdomen, her intestines falling out as she bled to death over the course of a few hours. [see: They Killed Me Three Times]

On November 21, 2012, a 14-year-old boy asked his father for 10 shekels, to go to the small store up the road to buy food for his siblings who hadn’t eaten anything but bread for the past five days of Israeli bombing. The bombing had not quite stopped, but Nader Abu Mghaseeb believed he was safe, a ceasefire due to be enforced in just under two hours. He was incorrect. Minutes after the precision drone strike hit Nader, his father rushed out to find the dying, tangled mass of flesh that had been his son.

In Deir al-Balah’s al-Aqsa hospital, I saw the teen’s mangled corpse brought in. His stunned father stood outside trying to comprehend that Israeli-fired, precision drone technology had obliterated his clearly unarmed 14-year-old son. [see: Killing before the Calm: “Israeli” Attacks on Palestinian Civilians Escalated before Cease-fire]

Two years and many Palestinian child martyrs and maimings later, during the July/August 2014 Israeli massacre of Gaza, four small boys ran for their lives across an empty Gaza beach as the Israeli navy chased them with shelling, eventually hitting their prey. The shelling of the Bakr boys, aged nine to 11, was recorded by a number of Palestinian and foreign journalists camped out at the nearby Deira hotel, many of whom broke down at witnessing this savagery.

Of the July/August Israeli massacre of Gaza, Defense for Children International-Palestine’s (DCI-Palestine) April 16, 2015 report noted:

“DCIP independently verified the deaths of 547 Palestinian children among the killed in Gaza, 535 of them as a direct result of Israeli attacks. Nearly 68 percent of the children killed by Israeli forces were 12 years old or younger. Those who survived these attacks will continue to pay the price for many years. More than 1,000 children suffered injuries that rendered them permanently disabled, according to OCHA.”

The assault on Palestinian children is, of course, not merely limited to its times of bombing Gaza. Almost daily in Gaza’s border regions and on the sea, children are machine-gunned and shelled by the genocidal bully of the region, under the pretext of “security.” Having witnessed this on countless occasions, myself under fire with the brave farmers, I can say one hundred percent affirmatively that they posed no security threat to the well-armed Israeli army (nor navy).

In the rest of occupied Palestine, whether during the criminal routine Israeli army invasions and lock-downs of West Bank and Jerusalem areas, or during demonstrations against the illegal Wall stealing yet more Palestinian land, or merely randomly, Palestinian children are targeted by Israeli live ammunition, tear gas canisters, and hands-on brutality, not only by the so-called “most morale army” but also the unspoken of proxy soldiers: those vile, racist, illegal Jewish colonists who (claiming God’s approval) abuse Palestinians of all ages, without consequences.

Early in the morning of July 2, 2014, Mohammed Abu Khdeir went missing while going to mosque for morning prayers in occupied Jerusalem. His slight body was found a few hours later charred and beaten. Before his Jewish colonist tormentors poured gas down his throat and lit him alive, they beat he the 16 year old with a blunt object to his head. The autopsy report “showed soot in the victim’s lungs and respiratory tract, indicating he was alive and breathing while he was being burnt.”

Reham Nabaheen, 4, killed by Israeli shrapnel to her head, November 21, 2012 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

Reham Nabaheen, 4, killed by Israeli shrapnel to her head, November 21, 2012 (Photo by Eva Bartlett)

The systematic brutality of Israel’s colonists and Israeli soldiers against Palestinians is met with virtually no reprimand by Israel. On their “Settler violence: Lack of accountability,” rights group B’Tselem noted in 2011 (updated January 2013):

“When Israelis harm Palestinians, the authorities implement an undeclared policy of forgiveness, compromise, and leniency in punishment. Israeli security forces have done little to prevent settler violence or to arrest offenders. Many acts of violence have never been investigated; in other cases, investigations have been drawn out and resulted in no action being taken against anyone.”

In November 2013, Palestinian rights group Al Haq issued a new report (“Institutionalised Impunity: Israel’s Failure to Combat Settler Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”) and noted:

“According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage increased by over 144 percent in 2011, compared to 2009. In 2013, the report of the United Nations International Fact-Finding Mission on Settlements highlighted the failure of the Israeli authorities to enforce the law by investigating such incidents and taking measures against their perpetrators. The Fact-Finding Mission came to the “clear conclusion that there is institutionalised discrimination against the Palestinian people when it comes to addressing violence. Acts of settler violence are intended, organised, and publicly represented to influence the political decisions of Israeli State authorities.”

Throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem, Jewish colonists routinely run over Palestinian children. Two examples include an October 2014 hit and run near Ramallah of two 5 year old Palestinian girls, one of whom—Inas Shawkat Khalil—died from her injuries.

Child abduction and imprisonment

According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association’s April 2015 update, 182 Palestinian children are imprisoned by Israel, including 26 under the age of 16. They note that“8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested since 2000.”

DCI-Palestine notes:

“Israel is the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. Interrogations tend to be coercive, including a variety of verbal abuse, threats and physical violence that ultimately result in a confession.”

They further note that most Israeli-imprisoned Palestinian children are nabbed in the middle of the night, something youths from Resistance villages like Bil’in are well-familiar with. Bil’in, known for its popular demonstrations against the illegal, land-grabbing Wall, has lost many a martyr, including children to Israel’s brutal attempts at stifling dissent (On that note: to all the media that leapt on the false, “Bashar is killing unarmed protesters band-wagon,” Israel is actually doing so).

That the UN is even considering not including Israel on the list speaks further volumes to the uselessness of this institution, a body that serves only to put the odd band-aid on the seeping Palestinian wound and toendorse criminal bombings of sovereign nations.

In any case, Israel need not worry that anyone is trying to “besmirch” its reputation. It has proven quite adept at doing that all on its own. Every blown-off Palestinian child’s head, every Palestinian child behind Israeli bars, every Mohammed Abu Khdair tortured and killed by Jewish colonists, and every colonists’ intentional running over of Palestinian children “besmirches” what is left of the racist, genocidal state’s reputation, with or without UN recognition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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

US Slams ICC Probe of Israel as “Tragic Irony”

Local Editor

17-01-2015

The United States condemned the International Criminal Court decision to open a preliminary probe Friday into “possible” war crimes committed against Palestinians, blasting it as a “tragic irony”.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office would conduct an “analysis in full independence and impartiality” into war crimes by Israel, including those committed during last year’s Gaza offensive.Gaza children martyrs

Her decision comes after Palestine formally joined the ICC earlier this month, allowing it to lodge war crimes and crimes against humanity complaints against Israel as of April.

Nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians, and more than 11,000 others were injured during last summer’s war on Gaza.

The US criticized the decision late Friday, saying it opposed actions against Israel at the ICC as “counterproductive to the cause of peace”.

“It is a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC,” US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement.

Gambian-born Bensouda had earlier stressed that “a preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available… on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.”

Bensouda will decide at a later stage whether to launch a full investigation.

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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

 

Is it the Guardian Of Judea Or Just The Observer Of Zion?

GA: Being the subversive mind who coined the above observations, I wasn’t surprised to read the following expose by Nafeez Ahmed. I urge you to read this superb piece of Journalism.  The Guardian is clearly a mere symptom of the colossal ethical bankruptcy of the ‘liberal’ and whatever is remaining of the Left.  It is a glimpse into the Kosherization and the corrosive impact of Zionists in our midst. 

‘Palestine is not an environment story’

source: https://medium.com

How I was censored by The Guardian for writing about Israel’s war for Gaza’s gas

By Nafeez Ahmed

After writing for The Guardian for over a year, my contract was unilaterally terminated because I wrote a piece on Gaza that was beyond the pale. In doing so, The Guardian breached the very editorial freedom the paper was obligated to protect under my contract. I’m speaking out because I believe it is in the public interest to know how a Pulitizer Prize-winning newspaper which styles itself as the world’s leading liberal voice, casually engaged in an act of censorship to shut down coverage of issues that undermined Israel’s publicised rationale for going to war.

Gaza’s gas

I joined the Guardian as an environment blogger in April 2013. Prior to this, I had been an author, academic and freelance journalist for over a decade, writing for The Independent, Independent on Sunday, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among others.

On 9th July 2014, I posted an article via my Earth Insight blog at The Guardian’s environment website, exposing the role of Palestinian resources, specifically Gaza’s off-shore natural gas reserves, in partly motivating Israel’s invasion of Gaza aka ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ Among the sources I referred to was a policy paper written by incumbent Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon one year before Operation Cast Lead, underscoring that the Palestinians could never be allowed to develop their own energy resources as any revenues would go to supporting Palestinian terrorism.

The article now has 68,000 social media shares, and is by far the single most popular article on the Gaza conflict to date. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Israel has seen control of Gaza’s gas as a major strategic priority over the last decade for three main reasons.

Firstly, Israel faces a near-term gas crisis — largely due to the long lead time needed to bring Israel’s considerable domestic gas resources into production; secondly, Netanyahu’s administration cannot stomach any scenario in which a Hamas-run Palestinian administration accesses and develops their own resources; thirdly, Israel wants to use Palestinian gas as a strategic bridge to cement deals with Arab dictatorships whose domestic populations oppose signing deals with Israel.

Either way, the biggest obstacle to Israel accessing Gaza’s gas is the Hamas-run administration in the strip, which rejects all previous agreements that Israel had pursued to develop the gas with the British Gas Group and the Palestinian Authority.

Censorship in the land of the free

Since 2006, The Guardian has loudly trumpeted its aim to be the world’s leading liberal voice. For years, the paper has sponsored the annual Index on Censorship’s prestigious Freedom of Expression Award. The paper won the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the National Security Agency (NSA). Generally, the newspaper goes out of its way to dress itself up as standing at the forefront of fighting censorship, particularly in the media landscape. This is why its approach to my Gaza gas story is so disturbing.

The day after posting it, I received a phone call from James Randerson, assistant national news editor. He sounded riled and rushed. Without beating around the bush, James told me point blank that my Guardian blog was to be immediately discontinued. Not because my article was incorrect, factually flawed, or outrageously defamatory. Not because I’d somehow breached journalistic ethics, or violated my contract. No. The Gaza gas piece, he said, was “not an environment story,” and therefore was an “inappropriate post” for the Guardian’s environment website:

“You’re writing too many non-environment stories, so I’m afraid we just don’t have any other option. This article doesn’t belong on the environment site. It should really be on Cif [i.e. the Guardian’s online opinion section known as ‘Comment Is Free’].”

I was shocked, and more than a little baffled. As you can read on my Guardian profile, my remit was to cover “the geopolitics of environmental, energy and economic crises.” That was what I was commissioned to do — indeed, when I had applied in late 2012 to blog for The Guardian, an earlier piece I’d written on the link between Israeli military operations and Gaza’s gas in Le Monde diplomatique was part of my portfolio.

So I suggested to James that termination was somewhat of an overreaction. Perhaps we could simply have a meeting to discuss the editorial issues and work out together what my remit should be. “I’d be happy to cooperate as much as possible,” I said. I didn’t want to lose my contract. James refused point blank, instead telling me that my “interests are increasingly about issues that we don’t think are a good fit for what we want to see published on the environment site.”

In the end, my polite protestations got nowhere. Within the hour, I received an email from a rights manager at The Guardian informing me that they had terminated my contract.

Under that contract, however, I had editorial control over what I wrote on my blog — obviously within the remit that I had been commissioned for. From May to April, environment bloggers underwent training and supervision to ensure that we would eventually be up to speed to post on the site independently based on our own editorial judgement. The terms and conditions we signed up to under our contract state:

“You shall regularly maintain Your Blog and shall determine its content. You shall launch Your own posts which shall not be sub-edited by GNM. GNM occasionally might raise topics of interest with You suitable for Your Blog but You shall be under no obligation to include or cover such topics.”

The terms also point out that termination of the contract with immediate effect could only occur “if the other party commits a material breach of any of its obligations under this Agreement which is not capable of remedy”; or if “the other party has committed a material breach of any of its obligations under this Agreement which is capable of remedy but which has not been remedied within a period of thirty (30) days following receipt of written notice to do so.”

The problem is that I had committed no breach of any of my contractual obligations. On the contrary, The Guardian had breached its contractual obligation to me regarding my freedom to determine the contents of my blog, simply because it didn’t like what I wrote. This is censorship.

As the Index on Censorship points out, the

“absence of direct state-sponsored, highly visible censorship, which prevails in many countries around the world, may contribute to the commonly held view that there is no censorship in this country and that it is not a problem.” However, “contemporary UK censorship, which sits within a liberal democracy” can come “in many different forms, both direct and indirect, some more subtle, some more overt.”

Invisible barriers

Ironically, a few days later, I was contacted by the editor of The Ecologist — one of the world’s premier environment magazines — who wanted to re-print my Gaza gas story. After publishing an updated version of my Guardian piece, The Ecologist also published my in-depth follow up in response to objections printed in The National Interest (ironically authored by a contractor working for a US oil company invested in offshore gas reserves overlapping the Gaza Marine). Obviously, having been expelled by The Guardian, I could not respond via my blog as I would normally have done.

That follow-up drew on a range of public record sources including leading business and financial publications, as well as official British Foreign Office (FCO) documents obtained under Freedom of Information. The latter confirmed that despite massive domestic gas discoveries in Israel’s own territorial waters, the inability to kick-start production due to a host of bureaucratic, technological, logistical and regulatory issues — not to mention real uncertainties in quantities of commercially exploitable resources — meant that Israel could face gas supply challenges as early as next year. Israel’s own gas fields would probably not be brought into production until around 2018-2020. Israeli officials, according to the FCO, saw the 1.4 trillion cubic meters of gas in Gaza’s Marine (along with other potential “additional resources” as yet to be discovered according to the US Energy Information Administration) as a cheap “stop-gap” that might sustain both Israel’s domestic energy needs and its export ambitions until the Tamar and Leviathan fields could actually start producing.

By broaching such issues in The Guardian, though, it seems I had crossed some sort of invisible barrier — that this topic was simply off-limits.

Energy is part of the environment, wait, no it isn’t, not in Palestine anyway

To illustrate the sheer absurdity of The Guardian’s pretense that a story about Gaza’s gas resources is “not a legitimate environment story,” consider the fact that just weeks earlier, Adam Vaughan, the editor of the Guardian’s environment website, had personally assented to my posting the following story: Iraq blowback: Isis rise manufactured by insatiable oil addictionWest’s co-optation of Gulf states’ jihadists created the neocon’s best friend: an Islamist Frankenstein.’

Proposed headlines for stories that environment bloggers work on are posted on a shared Google spreadsheet so that editors can keep track of what we’re doing and planning to publish. Adam had seen my proposed headline and requested to see the draft on the 16th June: “… would you mind sending this one by me on preview, please, before publishing? Just conscious it’s very sensitive subject,” he wrote in an email.

I sent him the full article with a summary of what it was about. Later in the day, I pinged him again to find out what he thought, and he replied: “thanks, sorry, yes — I think it’s fine.”

So an article about ISIS and oil addiction is “fine,” but a piece about Israel, Gaza and conflict over gas resources is not. Really? Are offshore gas resources not part of the environment? Apparently, for The Guardian, not in Palestine, where Gaza’s environment has been bombed to smithereens by the IDF.

The Blair factor

Meanwhile, the Israel-Gaza gas saga continues. Just over a week ago, Ha’aretz carried some insightful updates on the strategic value of the whole thing. Quoting Ariel Ezrahi, energy adviser to Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair (the Quartet representing the US, UN, EU and Russia), Ha’aretz noted that there was a reason why Jordan — which had recently signed an agreement with Israel to purchase gas from its Leviathan field — had simultaneously announced that it intended to purchase gas from Gaza. As Israel attempts to reposition itself as a major gas exporter to regional regimes like Egypt and Turkey, the biggest challenge is that “it’s very hard for them to sign a gas contract with Israel despite their desperate need,” due to how unpopular such a move would be with their domestic populations.

“If I were Israel’s prime minister,” Blair’s energy adviser said, “I’d think how I could help the neighboring countries extricate themselves from the jam, and if Israel closes the Palestinian gas market, that’s not a smart thing.” So Israel has to find a way to open the Palestinian gas market and integrate it into the emerging complex of Israeli export deals: “… it would be wise for Israel to at least consider the contribution of the Palestinian dimension to these deals,” said Ezrahi. “I think it’s a mistake for Israel to rush into regional agreements without at least considering the Palestinian dimension and how it can contribute to Israeli interests.”

Israel, backed by its allies in the west, wants to use the Palestinians “as an asset as they strive to join the regional power grid, and as a bridge to the Arab world,” by selling Palestinian “gas to various markets,” or promoting a deal with the corporations developing Israel’s “Tamar and Leviathan [fields] that will allow for the sale of cheap gas to the [Palestinian] Authority.”

But there is a further challenge when considering the Palestinian dimension, namely Hamas: “I can’t meet with people linked to Hamas,” said Blair’s energy adviser. “It’s a very firm ban dictated by the Quartet. [emphasis added] The Americans don’t enter Gaza either.” So it is not just Israel that has ruled out any gas deal with the Palestinians involving Hamas. So have the US, EU, UN and Russia.

But Israel has no mechanism to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza strip — except, as far as Moshe Ya’alon is concerned, military action to change facts on the ground.

Over the 70 odd articles I’d written for The Guardian, not a single piece falls outside the subject matter I had been commissioned to write on: the geopolitics of interconnected environment, energy and economic crises. The conclusion is unavoidable: The Guardian had simply decided that resource conflicts over the Occupied Territories should not receive coverage. It should be noted that before my post, the paper had never before acknowledged a link between IDF military action and Gaza’s gas. Now that I’m gone, I doubt it will ever be covered again.

Well, at least Ya’alon, and his boss Netanyahu, will be happy.

Not to mention Tony Blair.

 

Liberal gatekeeping

When I began speaking in confidence to a number of other journalists inside and outside The Guardian about what had happened to me, they all consistently told me that my experience — although particularly outrageous — was not entirely unprecedented.

A senior editor of a national British publication who has written frequently for The Guardian’s opinion section, told me that he was aware that all coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue was “tightly controlled” by Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s executive editor for opinion.

Jonathan Freedland is the Guardian’s executive editor for opinion

Another journalist told me that a Guardian editor commissioned a story from him discussing the suppression of criticism of Israel in public discourse and media, but that Freedland rejected the story without even reviewing a draft.

Several other journalists I spoke to inside and outside The Guardian went so far as to describe Freedland as the newspaper’s unofficial ‘gatekeeper’ on the Middle east conflict, and that he invariably leaned toward a pro-Israel slant.

These anecdotes have been publicly corroborated by Jonathan Cook, a former Middle East staff reporter, foreign editor and columnist for The Guardian, who is currently based in Nazareth where he has won several awards for his reporting. Aprofile of Cook at the progressive Jewish news site Mondoweiss points out that a key turning point in Cook’s career occurred in 2001 when he had just returned from Israel, having conducted an investigation into the murder of 13 non-violent Arab protestors by Israeli police during the second intifada the year before.

The police, Cook found, had executed a “shoot-to-kill policy” against unarmed victims — as was eventually confirmed by a government inquiry. But The Guardian suppressed his investigation, and chose not to run it at all. Cook says that while the paper does contain some exemplary reporting and insights, and even goes out of its way to condemn the occupation, there are certain lines that simply cannot be crossed, such as questioning Israel’s capacity to define itself as simultaneously an exclusively Jewish and democratic state, or critiquing aspects of its security doctrine.

Cook’s scathing criticism of his former paper in a 2011 Counterpunch article is highly revealing, and relevant, for understanding what happened to me:

“The Guardian, like other mainstream media, is heavily invested — both financially and ideologically — in supporting the current global order. It was once able to exclude and now, in the internet age, must vilify those elements of the left whose ideas risk questioning a system of corporate power and control of which the Guardian is a key institution.

The paper’s role, like that of its rightwing cousins, is to limit the imaginative horizons of readers. While there is just enough leftwing debate to make readers believe their paper is pluralistic, the kind of radical perspectives needed to question the very foundations on which the system of Western dominance rests is either unavailable or is ridiculed.”

Last month, Cook highlighted ongoing subtle but powerful insensitivities of language employed by The Guardian coverage’s of the Gaza crisis which, in effect, served to “disappear” the Palestinians. He specifically identified Freedland as a major player in this phenomenon. “The Guardian’s pride” in having helped create Israel is “still palpable at the paper (as I know from my years there),” especially among certain senior editors there “who influence much of the conflict’s coverage — yes, that is a reference to Jonathan Freedland, among others.”

===

UPDATE 4th Dec 2014 (10.13AM): Jonathan Freedland has offered a response this morning via TwitLonger, as follows:

“Your piece for Medium implies I was involved in the end of your arrangement with the Guardian. I don’t wish to be rude, but I had literally not heard of you or your work till seeing that Medium piece, via Twitter, a few hours ago. (The Guardian environment website, where you wrote, is edited separately from the Guardian’s Comment is Free site, which I now oversee.) I had no idea you wrote for the Guardian, no idea that arrangement had been terminated and not the slightest knowledge of your piece on Gaza’s gas until a few hours ago. What’s more, I was abroad — on vacation — on the days in July you describe. To put it starkly, my involvement in your case was precisely zero. I hope that as a matter of your own journalistic integrity, you’ll want to alter the Medium piece to reflect these facts. Perhaps you’ll also share this on Twitter as widely as you shared the Medium piece yesterday.”

However, Freedland’s reading of this piece is incorrect. I am not implying that Freedland was “involved” in the end of my Guardian tenure. I have no clue about that, and to be sure, I did not make any such claim above.

My simple point is that my experience of egregious Guardian censorship over the Gaza gas story — which Freedland does not address beyond denying his involvement — has a long and little-known context, suggesting that rather than my experience being a mere bizarre and accidental aberration, it is part of an entrenched, wider culture across the paper of which Freedland himself has allegedly played a key role in fostering.

It is not my fault that the range of journalists I spoke to all described Freedland as the Guardian’s resident unofficial “gatekeeper” on Israel-Palestine coverage.Notably, Freedland fails to address their allegations that he has previously quashed stories which are critical of Israel on ideological grounds rather than reasons of ‘journalistic integrity.’

END

===

This is perhaps not entirely surprising. A book commissioned by The Guardian,Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel, by Daphna Baram, documents clearly the connection between the newspaper and Zionism, noting for instance that Guardian editor CP Scott had been central to the negotiations with the British government resulting in the Balfour Declaration and the very conception of the state of Israel. Her conclusion is that despite becoming increasingly critical of the occupation after 1967, The Guardian remains staunchly pro-Zionist, its staff devoting “inordinate time and effort” to ensure “fairness to Israel.”

 

Toward a media revolution

The Guardian, quite rightly, has a reputation for breaking some of the most important news stories of the decade — among them, of course, playing a lead role in releasing Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance and related violations of civil liberties. Yet hidden in the cracks of this coverage is the fact that while disclosing critical facts, The Guardian has been unable to raise the most fundamental and probing questions about the purpose and direction of mass surveillance, why it has accelerated, what motivates it, and who benefits from it.

Questions must therefore be asked as to why a newspaper that sees itself as the global media’s bastion of liberalism, has engaged in such grievous censorship by shutting down coverage of environmental geopolitics — a phenomenon which is increasingly at the heart not just of conflict over the Occupied Territories, but of the chaos of world affairs in the 21st century.

If this is the state of The Guardian, undoubtedly one of the better newspapers, then clearly we have a serious problem with the media. Ultimately, mainstream media remains under the undue influence of powerful special interests, whether financial, corporate or ideological.

Given the scale of the converging crises we face in terms of climate change, energy volatility, financial crisis, rampant inequality, proliferating species extinctions, insane ocean acidification, food crisis, foreign policy militarism, and the rise of the police-state — and given the bankruptcy of much of the media in illuminating the real causes of these crises and their potential solutions, we need new reliable and accountable sources of news and information.

We need new media, and we need it now.

As print newspapers go increasingly into decline, the opportunity for new people-powered models of independent digital media is rising exponentially. That’s why I’ve launched a crowdfunder to help support my journalism, and to move toward creating a new investigative journalism collective that operates in the public interest, precisely because it is funded not by corporations or ideologues, but by people. If we can create new journalism platforms that are dependent for their survival on citizens themselves, then it is in the interests of citizens that those platforms will function. Until then, fearless, adversarial investigative journalism will always be in danger of being shut down or compromised.

I believe that together, we can create a new people-powered model of journalism that will make the old, hierarchical media conglomerates dominated by special interests and parochial paternalistic visions of the world obsolete. So, if you like, pop along to my Patreon.com crowdfunder for INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a truly independent people-powered investigative journalism collective that will remain dedicated to breaking the big stories that matter, no matter what. Pledge as little or as much as you like, and join the coming media revolution

 

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. Formerly of The Guardian, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It(2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books.

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