Video

Gaza as seen by an Israeli soldier and street artist Banksy

A revealing interview

Everyone should hear how a former IDF soldier explains the similarities of what his grandmother experienced in Auschwitz and why he has to speak out against Israel and the USA. Eran Efrati is a former IDF soldier who recounts his experience, assignments and killing protocols along with what he witnessed as a soldier to Aby Martin:

Abby-MartinClick here for the YouTube interview.

 

When Banksy sneaked into Gaza

It is not the first time that Banksy, a street artist revered by millions for his socio-political commentary on the walls of the world, has been to the occupied Palestinian territories. His graffiti are on the segregation wall in Bethlehem and in Ramallah, and now also on the ruins of Gaza:

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Is Israel guilty of Genocide in its assault on Gaza?

If viewed from the perspective of international law – is Israel guilty of genocide in Gaza or not? To prevent the crime of silence, the Russell Tribunal held a special hearing. Richard Falk provides an overview of the findings.

Gaza-7Palestinians clashes with Israeli troops following the protest against the Israeli operations in Gaza at the al-Jalazone Camp in Ramallah, West Bank. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On September 24, a special session of the Tribunal critically scrutinized Israel’s summer assault on Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, from the perspective of international law, including the core allegation of genocide. The process involved a series of testimonies by legal and weapons experts, health workers, journalists and others, some of whom directly experienced the fifty days of military assault.

Gaza-12Israeli soldiers rest next to artillery shells from an artillery unit near the Israeli border with Gaza; Photo:EPA/ABIR SULTAN

A jury composed of prominent individuals from around the world, known for their moral engagement with issues of the day, assessed the evidence with the help of an expert legal team of volunteers that helped with the preparation of the findings and analysis for consideration by the jury, which deliberated and debated all the issues raised—above all, the question of how to respond to the charge of genocide.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was inspired by the original Russell Tribunal, which was held in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War. Convened by the great English philosopher Bertrand Russell and presided over by Jean-Paul Sartre, those original sessions assessed charges of war crimes committed by the United States in Vietnam. Subsequent tribunals included the Russell Tribunal on Latin America, which investigated the military dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The first Russell Tribunal proceedings on Palestine, convened in the wake of Israel’s 2008–09 assault on Gaza, were held in four sessions, from 2010 to 2012.

Gaza-11Palestinians paramedics lift the body of a man from the Al Shejaeiya neighbourhood, during a brief period of ceasefire requested by local rescue forces to retrieve dead and wounded from the Shuja’iyya neighbourhood in east Gaza City. Photo: EPA/MOHAMMED SABER

It should be acknowledged that this latest undertaking was never intended to be a neutral inquiry without any predispositions. The tribunal was held because of the enormity of the devastation and the spectacle of horror associated with high-technology weaponry attacking the civilian population of Gaza, which was locked into a combat zone that left no place to hide. The tribunal was also a response to the failures of the international community to do more to stop the carnage, or even to condemn Israel’s disproportionate uses of force against an essentially helpless civilian population that included the targeting of a variety of legally forbidden targets, among them UN buildings used as shelters, residential neighborhoods, hospitals and clinics, and mosques.

gaza2Southern Gaza Strip:Young relatives of four boys, all from the Bakr family, killed during Israeli shelling, cry during their funeral in Gaza City. Photo: MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Although the tribunal proceeded from the assumption that Israel was responsible for severe wrongdoing, it made every effort to be scrupulous in the presentation of evidence and the interpretation of applicable international law, and relied on testimony from people with established reputations for integrity and conscience. Among the highlights of the testimony were a report on damage to hospitals and clinics given by Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor serving in a Gaza hospital during the attacks; Mohammed Omer, a widely respected Gazan journalist who daily reported from the combat zone; Max Blumenthal, a prize-winning journalist who was in Gaza throughout Protective Edge and analyzed for the jury the overall political design that appeared to explain the civilian targeting patterns; and David Sheen, who reported in agonizing detail on the racist hatred expressed by prominent Israelis during the assault, which was widely echoed by Israelis in the social media and never repudiated by the leadership in Jerusalem.

v3-gaza-1Southern Gaza Strip: A Palestinian man cries as he holds the dead body of his young brother shortly after he got killed by an Israeli naval bombardment in the port of Gaza City in the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza. Photo: Rex Features

The jury had little difficulty concluding that the pattern of attack, as well as the targeting, amounted to a series of war crimes that were aggravated by the commission of crimes against humanity. These included the imposition of collective punishment upon the entire civilian population of Gaza, in flagrant and sustained violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. A further notable legal finding was the rejection of the central Israeli claim that it was acting in self-defense against rocket attacks from Gaza. There are several reasons for reaching this conclusion: under international law, the claim of self-defense cannot be used in justifying response to resistance mounted by an occupied people, and from the perspective of international law, Gaza remains occupied due to persisting Israeli control despite Israel’s purported “disengagement” in 2005 (more properly characterized as a military redeployment). The rockets fired from Gaza were at least partly a response to prior Israeli unlawful provocations, including the mass detention of several hundred people loosely associated with Hamas in the West Bank and the incitement to violence against Palestinians as revenge for the murder of three kidnapped Israeli settler children. And finally, the minimal damage done by the rockets—seven civilian deaths over the entire period—is too small a security threat to qualify as an “armed attack,” as is required by the UN Charter to uphold a claim of self-defense. At the same time, the jury did not doubt that rocket fire by Palestinian militants into Israel was unlawful, as the rockets were incapable of distinguishing between military and civilian targets.

Gaza-9A picture taken from Israel at the southern border with the Gaza strip shows smoke billowing from behind a hill following an Israeli air strike on Gaza City. Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

The testimony made this issue complex and sensitive. It produced a consensus on the jury that the evidence was sufficient to make it appropriate to give careful consideration as to whether the crime of genocide had actually been committed by Israel. This was itself an acknowledgment that there was a genocidal atmosphere in Israel, in which high-level officials made statements supporting the destruction or elimination of the Gazans as a people. Such inflammatory assertions were at no time repudiated by the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or subject to criminal investigation, let alone any other official proceedings. Furthermore, the sustained bombardment of Gaza, under circumstances where the population had no opportunity to leave or to seek sanctuary within the Gaza Strip, lent further credibility to the charge. The fact that Operation Protective Edge was the third large-scale, sustained military assault on this unlawfully blockaded, impoverished and endangered population also formed part of the larger genocidal context.

gaza-2Southern Gaza Strip:Palestinian men help a local journalist who got injured during an Israeli airstrike on an office building hosting several media outlets in Gaza City. Photo:EPA/OLIVER WEIKEN

Despite these factors, there were legal doubts as to the crime itself. The political and military leaders of Israel never explicitly endorsed the pursuit of genocidal goals, and they purported to seek a ceasefire during the military campaign. The tribunal convincingly documented the government’s goal of intensifying the regime of collective punishment, but there was no clear official expression of intent to commit genocide. The presence of genocidal behavior and language, even if used in government circles, is not by itself sufficient to conclude that Protective Edge, despite its enormity, amounted to the commission of the crime of genocide.

What the jury did agree upon, however, was that some Israeli citizens and leaders appear to have been guilty in several instances of the separate crime of incitement to genocide, which is specified in Article 3(c) of the Genocide Convention. It also agreed that the additional duty of Israel and other parties to prevent genocide, especially the United States and Europe, was definitely engaged by Israeli behavior. In this regard, the Russell Tribunal is sending an incriminating message of warning to Israel and an appeal to the UN and the international community to uphold the Genocide Convention, and to prevent any further behavior by Israel that would cross the line.

1-Rescue-EPATwo Palestinian men flee their homes during a temporary ceasefire in the heavily-hit Shuja’iya neighbourhood in Gaza City. Photo:EPA

Many will react to this assessment of Protective Edge as without legal authority and dismiss it as merely recording the predictable views of a “kangaroo court.” Those allegations have been directed at the Russell Tribunal ever since its founding nearly fifty years ago. Bertrand Russell called the original proceedings a stand of citizens of conscience “against the crime of silence.” This latest session of the tribunal has a similar mission in relation to Israel’s actions in Gaza, although less against silence than indifference. Such tribunals, created almost always in exceptional circumstances and in response to defiance of the most elemental constraints of international law, make crucial contributions to public awareness—especially when geopolitical realities preclude established institutional procedures, such as recourse to the International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council and General Assembly.

When the interests of the West are at stake, as in Ukraine, there is no need to activate unofficial international law initiatives. However, in the case of Israel-Palestine, when the US government and most of Western Europe stand fully behind whatever Israel chooses to do, the need for an accounting is particularly urgent, even if the prospects for accountability are minimal. The long-suffering people of Gaza have endured three criminal assaults in the past six years, which have left virtually the entire population, especially young children, traumatized by the experience.

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The Russell Tribunal is filling a normative vacuum in the world. It does not pretend to be a court. In fact, among its recommendations is a call on the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court and present its grievance to the authorities in The Hague for their investigation and possible indictments. Even then, prosecution will be impossible, as Israel is not a party to the treaty establishing the ICC and would certainly refuse to honor any arrest warrants issued in The Hague. A trial could not proceed without the physical presence of those accused. It is notable that Hamas has joined in urging recourse to the ICC despite the distinct possibility that allegations against its rocket fire would also be investigated and its officials could be indicted for alleged war crimes.

As with the Nuremberg judgment, which documented Nazi criminality but excluded any consideration of the crimes committed by the victors in World War II, the Russell Tribunal process was flawed and can be criticized as one-sided. At the same time, I am confident that, on balance, this assessment of Israel’s behavior toward the people of Gaza will support the long struggle to make the rule of law applicable to the strong as well as the weak.

Gaza 13Palestinian mourners pray in a mosque during the funeral for those killed in a three-storey house belonging to the Abu Jamaa family the day before, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo:MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

For more information on the Russell Tribunal, click here: Russell Tribunal

Jewish Holocaust survivors respond to Wiesel and call for justice in Gaza

40 Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and 287 descendants of survivors and victims issued a letter this weekend condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza. The letter, with signatories from 26 countries representing four generations of survivors, runs in the Saturday, August 23rd edition of the New York Times:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.

Elie WieselElie Wiesel

Their letter is in reponse to a statement by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel prize-winning author, and Shmuley Boteach, an outspoken American-born Orthodox rabbi. An advert jointly written by Wiesel and Boteach called on David Cameron and other political leaders “to condemn Hamas‘ use of children as human shields”:

Elie wieseA part of the advertisement

The advertisement by Wiesel and Boteach was carried in US newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the New York Observer. It compares the murder of children during the Holocaust to Hamas’ actions in Gaza. The Times of London declined to run it and the Guardian published a response for free. In an open letter on its website, the Stop The War coalition, the UK anti-war organisation, described the advert as a “wildly inaccurate and inflammatory advert from supporters of the state of Israel branding Palestinians opposing Israel in Gaza as ‘child killers’.”

The Holocaust survivors in turn expressed their dismay over Israel’s assault and misrepresentation of their shared history. Liliana Kaczerginski, daughter of a Vilna ghetto resistance fighter, said:

What Israel is doing goes against everything that my father fought for; it is a violation of my family’s memory and I am proud to honor them with my signature.

Hajo Meyer, a survivor of Auschwitz who lives in the Netherlands expressed outrage at the racism coming out of Israel:

The dehumanization of Jews is what made possible the Nazi genocide. In the same way, we are witnessing the escalating dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society.

 In their response letter, the survivors write:

We are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children.

Dr Hani Jamah, a Palestinian living in California who lost 30 family members in an Israeli bombing said:

When Israel started it’s bombardment of Gaza, I turned on the news and discovered that 30 of my aunts and cousins had died in a single bomb blast. Joining my voice with 40 survivors of the Nazi genocide adds power to our call that we must work together to bring justice to Gaza.

Said Monadel Herzallah, who is part of the US Palestinian Community Network and has family in Gaza:

With the growing number of people around the world holding Israel accountable for its genocidal crimes, I applaud the courageous statements by holocaust survivors and their families being on the right side of justice,”  “Our children and grandchildren inside of Gaza deserve a life of believing that Never Again means Never Again for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.

Raphael Cohen, grandson of survivors who lives in the United States, called on people to take action to demand justice for Palestinians:

It is my own government paying for this violence. When governments won’t do what’s right, individuals and communities must speak out. That’s why I support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

The signatories hope that their letter will strengthen the claim that the legacy of Jewish suffering must mean never again for anyone, least of all, to be used in defense of Israeli violence.

Signatories will be hosting a press conference on Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am Eastern Time

[8/22/14 San Francisco, CA]
Press Contact: Lee Gargagliano – survivorsletter@gmail.com

UPDATE ON CHILDREN IN GAZA:

A UNICEF field officer in Gaza reported that to date, 469 chjildren died as a result of violence against Gaza since early July. The report added “there is not a single family in the tiny enclave that has not been touched by the current violence.”

“The impact is has truly been vast, both at a very physical level, in terms of casualties, injuries, the infrastructure that’s been damaged, but also importantly, emotionally and psychologically in terms of the destabilizing impact that not knowing, not truly feeling like there is anywhere safe place to go in Gaza,” Pernilla Ironside, Chief of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Gaza field office told a press conference at UN Headquarters.

UNICEF has 50 psychologists and counsellors in Gaza reaching out to children directly impacted by loss. They have reached 3,000, but the needs are “staggering” as parents are also in a state of trauma, Ms. Ironside said, noting that today 373,000 Palestinian children need “immediate psycho-social first aid.”

Meanwhile, Defence for Children International Palestine reported how a Palestinian child was used as a human shield by Israeli forces:

humanshield.profile2.21august2014_0Ahmad Abu Raida was only 16 when Israeli soldiers repeatedly used him as a human shield for five days in Khuza’a, southern Gaza

Ramallah, August 21, 2014—Israeli soldiers repeatedly used Ahmad Abu Raida, 17, as a human shield for five days while he was held hostage during Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Ahmad, from Khuza’a, near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, was just 16 years old when he was taken from his family on July 23. He was forced at gunpoint to search for tunnels for five days, during which time he was interrogated, verbally and physically abused, and deprived of food and sleep. Ahmad told DCI-Palestine in a sworn testimony that Israeli soldiers attempted both to extract information from him regarding Hamas members, and recruit him as an informant, before releasing him on July 27.

“The Israeli military has consistently accused Hamas of using civilians – particularly children – as human shields, but this incident represents a clear case of their soldiers forcing a child to directly assist in military operations,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “Israeli officials make generalized accusations while Israeli soldiers engage in conduct that amounts to war crimes.”

Ahmad’s ordeal began on July 21, when Israeli tanks entered Khuza’a, a town where Israeli forces allegedly committed war crimes during the the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. After two days of hiding at home, Ahmad’s family and neighbors attempted to flee intense artillery fire. As they tried to leave, however, Israeli soldiers assembled civilians, separating young men from others.

Ahmad was singled out, detained with his hands tied behind his back, and kicked and insulted by a soldier. His family was released, but lost sight of him as they fled the area.

In the days that followed, despite not being associated with Hamas, Ahmad was interrogated about his political affiliation and the location of Hamas tunnels. He managed to sleep for just two hours on the first night, sitting in a chair with his hands tied behind him. Every day he was made to search for tunnels, including at one point digging under the afternoon sun.

Speaking to DCI-Palestine, Ahmad said, “[The Captain and the soldiers] were walking behind me, with their rifles pointed at me. “Get in and see if there are tunnels or not,” [the Captain] ordered me. They made me search all the rooms for tunnels. Whenever I told them there were no tunnels, they would take me out and search the room themselves.”

The world’s writers, poets and journalists condemn Israel’s targeting of specific journalists in Gaza

pen

As a member of PEN Afrikaans who is affiliated with PEN International, I welcome the following statement:

pen gazaSince 8 July 2014, when the Israel Defence Force (IDF) began ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ Israeli forces have reportedly killed seven journalists and media workers.

PEN International condemns the killings and the reported deliberate targeting of certain journalists, media organizations and their infrastructures that have taken place during Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

“Freedom of expression has an invaluable role to play in time of war,” said John Ralston Saul, president of PEN International. “Only through a wide spectrum of reporting can the public come to understand and form opinions on what is happening.”

This wide spectrum of reporting is dependent upon the ability of journalists and writers to function in conflict situations. All governments are obliged to ensure that journalists are afforded their right to protection as civilians in a war zone.

Since 8 July 2014, when the Israel Defence Force (IDF) began ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ Israeli forces have reportedly killed seven journalists and media workers and wounded another fifteen, six of whom were reporting on protests in the West Bank.

The most recent killings occurred on 29 July, when – in separate attacks – the IDF struck the home of Ezzat Abu Duhair, a young correspondent with the Al-Huriya Media Network; he and four members of his family were killed. That same day, Bha’a al Graieb, the manager of the Hebrew news department of Palestine TV was killed by an aerial strike whilst taking his daughter to a hospital in Rafah City.

Media outlets have also been attacked or destroyed during the bombardment, including the offices of the National Media Agency, the offices of Wattan Radio station, the offices of Aljazeera TV and three offices belonging to the Hamas Al-Aqsa TV channel and radio station.

Israel has issued a press release saying that it would not accept responsibility for injury to journalists or damage to equipment suffered during reporting from the field.

International journalists can often alert the IDF to their positions – and so avoid some danger. Not all Palestinian journalists have the means to do this.

The fact that some media serve as propaganda tools does not justify making them a military target. The deliberate targeting of journalists and media outlets is a violation of international law and denies reporters their right to protection as civilians in a war zone.

For more information contact Sahar Halaimzai, Communications and Campaigns Manager: sahar.halaimzai@pen-international.org +44 (0) 207 405 0338

Pen International promotes literature and freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, the global community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. PEN International is a non-political organisation which holds Special Consultative Status at the UN and Associate Status at UNESCO.

To see the article on PEN International’s website, click here.

For more, click here.

Jews against Genocide: Compassionate people from across the globe must protest against Israel

We brought dolls to symbolise the children of Gaza, and tried to bring a glimpse of the horror that Gazans face, to Israel’s doorstep. We hope to show Israel, and the world, the absurd reality of using the memory of one genocide to justify another.

jews against genocide

Their full statement follows:

JEWS AGAINST GENOCIDE

We, Jews Against Genocide, came to Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial of the genocide committed against Jews, to honor the Palestinian children who are dying in a genocide committed by Jews.

We brought dolls to symbolise the children of Gaza, and tried to bring a glimpse of the horror that Gazans face, to Israel’s doorstep. We hope to show Israel, and the world, the absurd reality of using the memory of one genocide to justify another.

We invite compassionate people from across the globe to join the outcry by staging similar protests in front of Israeli embassies and consulates around the world. Please send pictures of your actions to jewsagainstgenocide1948@gmail.com.

Just as we honor the people who were murdered seven decades ago in Europe because they were Jews, we are here to honor the people who are being murdered at this very moment because they are the indigenous people of this land who are not Jews.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines Genocide as, “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; […]“

The children of Gaza, who are being systematically murdered as we write this article, constitute 52% percent of the population under siege in the strip. The vast majority of these children are descendants of refugees from historical Palestine.

In the current round of atrocities committed by the Israel occupation army, so far dozens of children have been murdered in their homes, with Israel’s war-making leadership vowing “much higher costs” on the Palestinian side as the bombing and shelling continues.

The war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza today are the latest stage of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the indigenous people of this land.

The Jewish State was founded on the Zionist principle of “maximum Jews on maximum land, and minimum Arabs on minimum land”, which was made reality through sixty-six years of continued assault against Palestinians, denying them the right to live freely and peacefully in their historical homeland.

The Israeli regime has turned the beautiful Gaza strip into a densely populated ghetto, with unsafe water, untreated sewage, and insufficient resources and electricity. This ghetto has become a concentration camp, through repeated Israeli massacres in what the Goldstone Report described as an effort to, “humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish[ing] its local economic capacity.”

We express our support and solidarity for the Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with the three basic demands of:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

Never Again for Anyone – End Israel’s Genocide of Palestinians
Jews Against Genocide (JAG)

Resources:
United Nations, preventing Genocide:http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/genocide_prevention.shtml
Palestinian civil society call for BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call
United Nations, human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories:http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

Israel’s “right to defend itself” critiqued by Palestinian liberation theologian, Naeem Ateek

Israel, with support from the US, propagates that its actions in Gaza are carried out only because “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Rev. Dr. Naeem Ateek states in the piece below why he does not agree. Naim

naim 3Naeem Ateek is well known as a Palestinian Christian theologian. He co-shaped the Palestinian liberation theology and was the first to articulate it in his book, Justice, and only Justice, a Palestinian Theology of Liberation.

Sabeel, Jerusalem – For the sake of the burning children of Gaza
July 30, 2014

One of the most common refrains repeated by President Obama and other western leaders since the beginning of Israel’s massive military offensive against Gaza is, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” This refrain is not new and has been declared so often, it has become a cliché. Some leaders parrot it without even thinking. Israel has used such clichés as a justification for its actions as well as an excuse to further its carnage. As of July 29, the death toll in Gaza is over 1100 people, mostly civilians, and includes 243 children (http://www.ochaopt.org). In addition, around 53 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians have died.

Under these circumstances, is Israel able to justifiably claim this right to defend itself?
First, we should consider that there is no clear “self” for Israel to defend. Israel steadfastly refuses to define its borders. Israel’s expansionist policies under the pretext of security have extended its “borders” deep into the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights, in contravention of international law. Furthermore, as a state that is occupying another state that includes Gaza for the last 47 years, Israel stands in violation of international law and humanitarian law. In light of the fact that Israel has no defined borders and is occupying another state, it is not even possible to define the “self” that Israel has a right to defend.

Second, it is important to note that Israel does not have a moral or legal right to claim that it is “defending” itself so long as it is occupying another state. Let us take the Iraq-Kuwait war as an example. Suppose after Iraq occupied Kuwait, some of the Kuwaitis started firing rockets at Iraqi cities as their way of forcing Iraq to end its illegal occupation. In such a circumstance, would we consider Iraq as having a right to “defend” itself? Or would we rather see Iraq as the instigator and aggressor?

Morally speaking, so long as international law and the United Nations consider Israel as occupying Palestine, Israel is not defending itself, it is defending its occupation and its Zionist project. When the occupation ends, Israel possesses the legal and moral right to defend itself, and with that we can all stand. But so long as it is defending its occupation through collective punishment and disproportionate military might, which is illegal under international law, its claims appear deviously deceitful and hollow. Furthermore, Israel can get away with impunity.

Finally, are Obama’s words about Israel’s security and her right to “defend itself” credible in the presence of the burning children of Gaza? Is the war Israel is conducting credible in light of these children, held captive and unable to leave Gaza, killed for the crime of being born on the wrong side of an arbitrary border, killed while hiding in their homes, playing soccer on the beach, and taking refuge in UN safe spots? Nothing can legally or morally legitimize the indiscriminate killing of a captive civilian population. No statements, no claims, no actions, no matter how profound, can hold up in the presence of the burning and torn up little bodies of innocent children. They are utterly meaningless, reprehensible and blasphemous.

Therefore, it is important to emphasize the following points:

  1. The international community needs to empower the UN to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We have been caught in a destructive cycle. Every few years the situation reaches its boiling point, warfare begins, and thousands of Palestinians are killed and injured, mainly civilians – women, children, elderly, and disabled. The international community has been lethargic, impotent, and unwilling to implement its own resolutions on Palestine. The international community has the responsibility to resolve this seemingly intractable conflict. The UN needs to be empowered to do its work.
  2. International law unequivocally gives occupied people the right to shake off the yoke of the occupier through various means including the armed struggle. While this is true and needs to be remembered in considering this situation, Sabeel has always stood for the moral right of liberation through nonviolent means.
  3. The Palestinian rockets from Gaza have an important message that Israel refuses to understand and the western powers, especially the United States, are unwilling to comprehend. The message of the rockets addresses the core issues and the root causes of the problem – STOP THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION AND FREE PALESTINE. If this does not happen, the war will occur again and again and again, and the casualties will be mainly women and children. This conflict will continue to flare up, despite anyone’s best efforts to contain it, unless the systemic injustice of occupation is dismantled. A recent statement from Israeli academics cuts straight to the point: “Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement”( http://haimbresheeth.com/gaza/an-open-letter-to-israel-academics-july-13th-2014/statement-by-israeli-academics-july-2014/).
  4. Our plea is to all people of conscience in Israel. You need to become engaged. The present political course is driving Israelis and Palestinians further apart and is leading us to an impending disaster worse than we are witnessing today. We all must stop nurturing extremism. Israelis and Palestinians have to live together in this land. God has put us here, we need to share it. The alternative is untenable.
  5. A stable peace can only be realized when justice, in accordance with international law,is achieved for both Israel and Palestine.Source: http://necefsabeel.ca/?p=713
Status

The biggest march ever in South Africa

nc4p logoCape Town, 9 August 2014, 11:00 – 13:00:
Starting in Keizergracht in the city bowl of Cape Town and from there to Parliament – the same route people used to protest against apartheid.

TRANSPORT UPDATE: Free transport on Metro Rail if you can show a NC4P/BDS pamphlet or a Palestinian scarf or T-shirt.

march 3

The humanity and the solidarity of every person counts. With this march we demonstrate our commitment to resisting Israel’s systemic injustices through non-violence.

The biggest march in South Africa under apartheid consisted of 90 000 people. The above photo is from the recent march for Palestine by 40 000 people. We hope to have many more on 9 August.


Since 9 August is Women’s day in South Africa, women will be in the front of the procession followed by religious leaders and everyone else. Please wear something that symbolises your affiliation – your university, your school, your religious tradition, and so forth. Like other South African ecumenical accompaniers who monitored human rights violations in Israel and Palestine on behalf of the World Council of Churches, I shall wear my EAPPI vest.

The march is organised by South Africa’s new National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P). Our aim is to receive a response from our government on our recent requests to them.

I don’t want to abuse emotional arguments, yet I believe it is a time for all in the world to feel shattered. As Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza says in a clip on YouTube:

The rights of Palestinians, even their children, are wholesale denied. And that’s appaling. It is an affront to the humanity of all of us.

Gunness succumbs to his emotions during a live interview with Al Jazeera when interviewed about an attack on a UN school shelter in which at least 15 people, mostly women and children, were killed.

We are shattered, but we are not paralysed. Let us – Jews, Christians, Muslims and others who hold the sanctity of life dear, speak up and act. An end to the violence in Gaza does not mean an end to the atrocities. Israel’s daily denial of granting Palestinians their humanity – in East Jerusalem, in Gaza, in the West Bank –  must stop. All of it. The solidarity, the intention, the words, the behaviour and the humanity of every single person counts.

Please share the details of the march widely and if you can, be there. Let us unite with all those who want a just and a viable solution. We endorse international law and those values that foster the flourishing of life for all.

 

 

SA-EAPPI calling on South African society, churches and government for action re Israel

South Africa’s members of the World Council of Churches EAPPI programme fully endorses the newly formed NC4P (National Coalition for Palestine) and they ask for more steps:

logo_eappi-2

STATEMENT BY SA-EAPPI ON PALESTINE AND ISRAEL
31 July 2014

We, as a group of 70 South African ecumenical accompaniers who have monitored and reported human rights abuses in Palestine cannot remain silent at a time like this. We remember how often Palestinians told us that if we as South Africans can have a just freedom, then it must be possible for them too.

South African ecumenical accompaniers have worked side to side with other internationals in occupied Palestine since 2004 in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI was established by the World Council of Churches in response to a call from the Heads of Churches in the Holy Land. EAPPI provides protective presence to the vulnerable Palestinian communities and supports Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. We have witnessed multiple and layered injuries and losses by Palestinians whether Christian or Muslim. We value and recognise the safety and dignity of all those in Israel and Palestine. Yet we are not impartial when it comes to international law.

SA-EAPPI is appalled and devastated with the ongoing bombings, shelling and rocket firing in Israel and Palestine. However we absolutely reject any arguments that position the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis as two equal sides. The disproportionate killing of civilians including so many children horrifies us. That people are deprived of shelter, food, electricity, water and the hope of freedom is a source of shame to all who value the sacredness of life and the protection of international law. The current escalation in the conflict is not a war, let alone an act of self-defence, but a punitive, planned, strategic, militant expedition by a regional super-power to deepen Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. Moreover, Israel’s systematic, systemic, institutionalised oppression of the Palestinians that violates international law on a daily basis makes the conflict a-symmetric.

SA-EAPPI endorses the Memorandum to the South African Government issued by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) on 28 July 2014 in Cape Town. In addition, we appeal to:

  • South African citizens to not buy any Israeli produce or services;

  • all faith communities to critically review their interpretations of sacred texts in a quest to uphold those values and principles that foster the flourishing of life for all;

  • South African churches to take a clear and unequivocal stand for justice and a viable peace;

  • the South African government to break its resounding silence and to demonstrate to the world what sustained, visible solidarity can mean for the freedom of an oppressed people;

  • the United Nations’ Security Council to agree on resolutions to end both the conflict and the occupation, and to appoint an honest and an impartial broker for peace talks between Palestine and Israel; and

  • the international society to ensure the consistent implementation of international law.

 

Twee Suid-Afrikaanse EAPPI span: Carol in die agtergrond, en Zodwa in die voorgrond.  Zodwa neem by Carol oor in die Jayyous span.

East-Jerusalem: Carol Martin and Zodwa Nsibande during the handover ceremony between EAPPI Teams 40 and 41 in September 2011.

Hiroshima to Israel: Stop indiscriminate killings in Gaza

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We the citizens of Hiroshima, the city that was completely destroyed by indiscriminate atomic bombing 69 years ago, demand that the Israeli Government immediately stops indiscriminately killing and injuring Palestinian civilians. So far more than 500 people have been killed and about 3,600 injured as a result of continuous aerial bombing and bombardment on the ground, which started on July 8 and July 18 respectively. More than 80 percent of these casualties are ordinary civilians, in particular, women and children, not members of Hamas that Israel calls terrorist Islamic fundamentalists. Clearly such indiscriminate killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military forces are crimes against humanity and war crimes. More than 60,000 people are now displaced within the Gaza Strip and struggle to survive under intense fear for their lives. Yet, the Israeli government is planning to further escalate indiscriminate attacks on the Palestinians. We strongly condemn such actions, which cannot be rationalized in any way.

The reason for the present mass killing is said to have been the discovery of the dead bodies of three missing Israeli boys near Hebron in Palestinian territory on June 30. Hamas denies responsibility, but Israel’s Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, claims they were murdered by Hamas, hence the retaliation. On July 7, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was abducted and killed after his body had been doused in kerosene and set alight. Yet, it should be remembered that one month before the murder of the three Israeli boys, two Palestinian boys were cold-bloodedly killed by Israeli soldiers. This incident is also related to the vicious cycle of escalating violence.

According to one source, during the search for the above-mentioned three Israeli boys, Israeli occupation soldiers murdered 7 Palestinians (including a 13 year old child), injured dozens, kidnapped nearly 400 people, demolished many houses, destroyed the contents of hundreds of homes that they invaded in the middle of the night and blocked travel attempts by hundreds of thousands of people. They continue to imprison thousands of others, many of whom are on hunger strikes for being held without charge for months.

In retaliation for such actions by Israeli soldiers, Hamas began launching rocket bombs at Israel, thereby intensifying the reciprocal military violence. The recent attempted rocket attack on the Dimona Nuclear Power Plant in southern Israel by Hamas is of particular concern. It is extremely lucky that this attempt failed. As Japanese citizens, we are well aware of the devastating consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear power accidents, due to our personal experience of such disasters on our home soil. It is this knowledge that causes us to strongly condemn both the possession of nuclear weapons by Israel and the rocket attack on the Israeli nuclear power plant by Hamas.

To date, Israel has repeatedly violated international law by indiscriminately attacking Palestinian civilians and their domains. From the year 2000 until immediately before the recent onset of aerial bombing, 1,407 Palestinian children were the victims of indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces. In other words, over the past 14 years on average two children were killed every week. In May this year alone, 214 minors were arrested, detained and tortured without charge or trial. For years many children in the Gaza Strip have suffered malnutrition, resulting in anemia, due to the shortage of food and medicine as a result of the blockade by the Israeli government. In addition, many children suffer serious psychological problems caused by intense and long-lasting fear, due to repeated aerial bombing and bombardment.

We urge Israeli politicians, military officers and soldiers, as well as civilians to imagine the pain and sorrow of Palestinian children and parents, in particular those of parents who have lost their children because of your indiscriminate and inhumane attacks. Such horrific acts upon Palestinians will only cause them to hate Israel more, and thus produce no solution at all. This logic is self evident from your past actions repeated over many years.

It is crystal clear that the real cause of the present tragedy is not the recent reciprocal killing of boys, but the illegal occupation and colonization of the Gaza Strip and the grave violation of Palestinian human rights by Israel over the last half-century. A situation where 1.8 million people are confined to an area of 360 km square, suffering from acute poverty and intense violence, cannot be called an “autonomous region.” It could more appropriately be called a “detention camp.” It is indeed tragic to see a nation, which suffered so badly as a result of the horrendous holocaust by the Nazis during World War II and which lost so manly lives as a consequence, committing “crimes against humanity” against a neighboring nation over the past 50 years or so. As citizens of the city, which became the victim of a nuclear holocaust, we urge you to take the following actions. These are based on our commitment to non-military violence or any other form of violence, in particular the killing or injuring of others. We beg you to

1) Immediately stop the indiscriminate aerial bombing of Palestinian civilians
2) Immediately stop the ground targeted bombardment of Palestinian civilians
3) Immediately stop killing Palestinian civilians, in particular children
4) Stop violating the human rights of Palestinian civilians
5) Stop the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories

We strongly urge you to cease your on-going illegal actions, to respect basic human rights of all people including Palestinians, and to establish and implement new policies based on peace and justice as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely
July 21, 2014

Yuki Tanaka, a citizen of Hiroshima, on behalf of the following 14 organizations in Hiroshima:

  • The August 6 Peace Assembly in Hiroshima (Representative: Dr. Yuki Tanaka)
    Tenma-Cho 13-1-810, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 733-0022, Japan
  •  Kure YWCA (Representative: Ms. Hiroko Kimura)
  • Saiwai-cho, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture 737-0028, Japan
  • The Northeast Asian Information Center (Representative: Mr. Yukio Yokohara)
    Itsukaichi Chuo 4-14-1-205, Hiroshima City, 731-5128, Japan
  • The Peace Link Hiroshima, Kure and Iwakuni (Co-Representatives: Mr. Hideki Nitta, Mr. Yukio Nishioka, Mr. Jungen Tamura) c/o Kure YWCA, Saiwai-cho, Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture 737-0028, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Association of Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution (Representative: Ms. Sumiko Fujii) Ujina Miyuki 1-9-26-413, Minami-Ku, Hiroshima City, 734-0015, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Civil Association for No Nuclear Power (Representative: Mr. Shoji Kihara)
    Ebizono 2-17-9, Saeki-Ku, Hiroshima City, 731-5135, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Association for the Establishment of the Future with Friendly Environment (Co-Representatives: Ms. Maki Tokioka, Ms. Noriko Yumiba, Ms. Ayako Nagahashi) Phone: +81-80-1934-0866
  • The Hiroshima Cooperative Center for Japan’s Constitution and Peace (Representative: Mr. Kazuyuki Senko) Ote-Machi 4-2-27, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 737-0051, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Association for the Establishment of Peaceful, Democratic and Reformed Japan (Representative: Mr. Katsumi Toshimoto) Ote-Machi 4-2-27, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 737-0051, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Committee of AALA Solidarity (Representative: Ms. Noriko Hayashi)
    Ote-Machi 4-2-27, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 737-0051, Japan
  • The Committee of Social Concerns, West Chugoku Area, the United Church of Christ in Japan (Representative: Yoshihiro Jinbo) Minami Sakae 3-1-29, Otake City, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0602, Japan
  • Hiroshima YWCA (Representative: Ms. Yasue Nakarai) c/o Hiroshima Shujo Church, Wakakusa Cho 6-7, Higashi-Ku, Hiroshima City 732-0053, Japan
  • The Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (Co-Representatives: Dr. Katsuaki Aoki, Dr. Yuki Tanaka, Ms. Haruko Moritaki) c/o Adachi Shuichi Law Firm, Jyohoku Building 2F, Hakushima 18-4, Naka-Ku, Hiroshima City, 730-0005, Japan
  • The Religious Association of Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution (Representative: Mr. Shozo Muneto) c/o Nobori Machi Catholic Church, Hiroshima City, 730-0016, Japan

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