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

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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.

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