In the ashes of Gaza; “OUTRAGES ATTACK and TOTALLY UNEXCEPTABLE” Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is appalled by Israeli attacks on a UN compound in Gaza after seeing the destruction for himself.

Mr Ban said that those responsible should be held accountable and demanded a “full investigation” through proper judiciary systems.

He was speaking in front of the smouldering remains of the UN food warehouse destroyed by Israeli shells.

He said he would do all he could to help the population of Gaza.

Mr Ban is the first international leader to visit Gaza for several years, entering through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing and driving through the bomb-damaged northern suburbs to Gaza City.

He later visited the southern Israeli town of Sderot, which has been one of the main targets of Palestinian rocket attacks in recent years.

He described the rockets as indiscriminate weapons and said the attacks by Hamas are violations of basic humanitarian law.

However, he also called on Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, saying the embargo only strengthens Hamas by fuelling desperation in the impoverished enclave.

‘Outrageous attack’

Appearing stern and at times angry, Mr Ban called the attacks on Gaza “outrageous” and demanded guarantees that it would never happen again.

“I have protested many times. I am today protesting again in the strongest terms. I have asked (for a) full investigation and (to) make those responsible people accountable,” he said.

“I am just appalled. I am not able to describe how I am feeling. This was an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United Nations.”

CONFLICT IN FIGURES
More than 1,300 Palestinians killed
Thirteen Israelis killed
More than 4,000 buildings destroyed in Gaza, more than 20,000 severely damaged
50,000 Gazans homeless and 400,000 without running water

In depth: Gaza conflict
Q&A: Gaza conflict
Who are Hamas?
Middle East conflict: History in maps

Israeli shells hit the UN headquarters as well as two UN schools during the recent three-week offensive.

The headquarters were badly damaged and nearly 40 people were killed near one of the schools.

Israel said militants used the UN buildings as cover to launch attacks, but the military has launched its own investigation.

As Mr Ban viewed the damage, Hamas held a victory rally near the destroyed parliament building in Gaza City.

The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool, in Gaza City, says the turnout was low, an indication perhaps that Gaza’s population is struggling to see how any side can consider this a victory.

Thousands homeless

Thousands of Gazans have been left homeless by the Israeli offensive and Palestinian officials warned it could cost $1.9bn to rebuild the territory.

Israeli troops are expected to complete their pull-out later, if the current ceasefire holds.

Israeli political sources say the military aims to have withdrawn before Barack Obama’s inauguration as US president at 1700 GMT.

But there have been several violent incidents during the day.

The Israeli navy fired shells into Gaza in what it called a deterrent measure, and reports claimed that a mortar shell was later fired into Israel from Gaza.

Two children were killed near Gaza City in an explosion of ordnance left behind by the Israeli army, according to Palestinian medical officials.

And in the West Bank, an Israeli man was shot and seriously wounded while driving near the Kochav Hashachar settlement.

A previously unknown group calling itself the al-Bashair Army told the Palestinian news agency, Maan, it had carried out the attack.

Earlier, the UN’s top humanitarian official, John Holmes, said hundreds of millions of dollars of aid would be needed immediately to help Gaza’s 1.4 million people.

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While 100,000 people had their water supply restored on Sunday, 400,000 still had no water, he said.

Separately, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that the overall physical damage so far amounted to about $1.9bn (£1.4bn).

The UN has asked Israel to open Gaza’s borders to allow in construction materials, but so far only basic humanitarian supplies have been let in.

Meanwhile, Arab foreign ministers meeting in Kuwait have failed to issue a statement on the Gaza situation because they disagreed over who was to blame for the conflict.

Egypt said Hamas had invited the attacks, while Syria said Israel should be declared a terrorist entity.

Palestinian medical sources say at least 1,300 Palestinians were killed, nearly a third of them children, and 5,500 injured during the conflict. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were killed.

Ref: BBC

As the truth emerges in Gaza; the “purity in slaugther” and its true intention

The cessation of fighting in Gaza has allowed the true scale of destruction there to be revealed.

Sherine Tadros reports from the north of the strip on the despair of one father who says Israeli forces shot and killed two of his daughters at close range.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army told Al Jazeera in response to the father’s allegations that Israeli soldiers “do not behave in this fashion” and the army “only returns fire to areas from which it was fired upon”.

Read more about the “Zionist self-defence intentions” in Gaza > Gazans say IDF troops ignored white flags and shot at them


Oh, again, I wonder who is the terrorist and who is creating Palestinian terrorists???

1) IsraHELL
2) Israel the eternal “victim”
3) Israel the only democracy in M.E.

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As the truth emerge from GAZA; two sides of Israeli “self-defense” doctrine/soul

Some Palestinians have accused Israeli soldiers of destroying their homes as they pulled back towards the border in the last 24 hours of their 22-day war on Gaza.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna saw some of the evidence of what Palestinians describe as an Israeli scorched earth policy.

A large number of dignitaries showed up for the ceremony, including Health Minister Yacov Ben Yizri (Pensioners) and Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor), as well as their directors general, together with the director general of the Defense Ministry, Pinchas Buchris.

Herzog, who is also the coordinator of humanitarian affairs for the cabinet, said the clinic was not intended to clean the Israeli conscience. “Israel knows how to fight terror,” said Herzog, “but also knows how to be humane.”

Israeli officials seemed to be directing their words to world opinion, with Herzog repeating his words in English and Ben Yizri in French.

Ref: Haaaretz

Should the US Pull the Plug on Israel? (‘To the Muslim world: We seek a new way forward’)

The last time the US restrained Israel in its never-ending wars of aggression was when President Eisenhower pulled the plug on the Anglo-French-Israeli effort to grab the Suez Canal in 1956.

Since then, we have not even chastised Israel when its actions hurt the United States. During the 6-Day war in 1967, for example, Israel attacked the USS Liberty, a Navy signals intelligence ship, in international waters, and murdered over 30 American sailors. The Israelis, of course, claimed it was an accident — but the Israeli claim was at least questionable, to put it charitably, because the Israeli fighter bombers made multiple attack passes, before Israeli gunboats machine gunned survivors in the water. Moreover, festooned with antennas, the Liberty had a very distinctive profile and was flying a huge American flag. Yet the US Congress never held an inquiry into Israel’s culpability (the only time in our history Congress failed investigate the root causes of a Naval disaster) and the DoD inquiry was as a disgraceful white wash.

Viewed in retrospect, the pusillanimous reaction to the assault on the USS Liberty by the United States government had a decisive grand strategic effect, however. It told Israel in no uncertain terms that it was now free to ignore or even hurt the interests of its patron in the pursuit of its own venal ambitions. History certainly suggests as much, because since that attack, Israel has operated without even a modicum of cosmetic restraint by the US. The Israelis have felt free to plant spies in the US government, like Jonathan Pollard. Most recently Israeli Prime Minister Omert bragged to Israeli citizens and the press about about he made Bush dance to his tune by interrupting a speech Bush was making in Philadelphia and telling Bush to humiliate the inept Condolezza Rice by forcing her to abstain on the UN resolution calling for a halt in fighting in Gaza — a resolution that she had helped to draft, presumably with Bush’s blessing.

Nevertheless, the American taxpayers continued to finance Irsrael’s arrogant behaviour year after year by repeatedly shovelling billions of dollars for new weapons and military/economic aid to Israel. The transfer of our front line weapons has been justified repeatedly as being necessary for Israel’s self defense, yet the Israelis have repeatedly used those weapons for offensive attacks, recently in Lebanon (2006) and now in Gaza. In the case of Gaza, it used the distraction of the US election in Nov 08 to break the cease fire (again using US weapons), and after triggering the desired response from Hamas, it unleashed its long-planned murderous attack on Gaza in late December, just weeks before the innauguration of President Barack Obama, in effect, pulling the rug out from under Obama and painting him into a corner at the very time when Obama was trying to focus his energies on and build bipartisan political support for dealing with the worst internal economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The GBU-39 guided bomb is perhaps the most egregious case point illustrating how our aid directly helps Israel to wage aggressive war regardless of American interests. After the disastrous Israeli attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, the Pentagon pushed for and Congress approved the transfer of thousands of precision bombs to replenish Israel’s stocks in August and September 2007. The GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb was not included in this gift. But then, more recently, and for no apparent reason, four months before its assault on Gaza, the Pentagon first notified Congress of the GBU-39 transfer in August 2008. Congress was in recess during August, but transfer of GBU-39s to Israel was one of the first items it disposed of in after reconvening in September, in dutiful obedience to the demands of the Israel Lobby and its wholly owned subsidiaries in the Pentagon. These weapons and their delivery racks were then rushed to Israel, and in less that 3 months from the time of Congressional approval, 1000 GBU-39s were cleared aerodynamically for release from Israel’s planes and placed in the operational inventory, just in time for Israel’s attack on the Gaza Ghetto. The GBU-39 is one of the most modern weapons in the American inventory.

Last September, the GBU-39s were trumpeted by the Israeli press as bunker busters of choice for an attack on Iran. But that claim was preposterous and most likely deliberate misinformation, given that we now know the Israelis had been planning the assault on the Gaza Ghetto for at least three months. It was preposterous because GBU-39 has a tiny warhead (only 50lbs encased in a 280 lb bomb). Its small size and (theoretical) high accuracy, however, makes the GBU-39 a far more appropriate as a weapon of choice for assassinating individuals and small groups in densely populated urban areas, like Gaza, than for taking out deeply-buried nuclear components in Iran.

Unfortunately for the mass of innocent Gazans, the GBU 39 does not work as accurately as advertised. It has reliability problems, among other things, according to my sources some of whom have experience in using this weapon (indeed, one told me he thought its problems made it a step backward in effectiveness). To make matters worse, targeting intelligence is never as good as claimed by airpower enthusiasts. In the real world, once the bombing starts, the feed back from the effects of the attacks is ambiguous at best, and consequently target lists proliferate wildly, as was the case in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq (I & II), Kosovo, Lebanon (I & II), and now again in Gaza.

All of which begs the question with respect to blindly supporting Israel: How much is enough? On January 19, Bruce Robbins argued in the Providence Journal that enough is enough.

Israel’s claim of self defense in Gaza was bogus because, the ceasefire was working. Robbins quotes Israeli figures, which say the number of rockets fired out of Gaza in July, August, September and October 2008 was, respectively, 1, 8, 1, and 2, whereas in the two months before the cease-fire, the Gazans fired 149 and 87 rockets. The ceasefire was broken on Nov. 4-5, when Israel launched air and ground attacks against Hamas, while the attention of the world was distracted by the U.S. election (sound familiar?). Whatever started this new and massive round of atrocities, the Israeli parliamentary election being he most probably candidate, it was not a few more rockets, rockets that may not have been fired by Hamas at all, but by splinter groups, like Islamist Jihad. What Robbins does not say is that the overwhelming majority of rockets fired from within Gaza are homemade Qassam rockets. Qassams do not even have a guidance system. Their explosive warhead weighs between one pound and 22 pounds, depending on the model, and it is made of smuggled TNT and urea nitrate, a common fertilizer. Its propellent is a mixture of sugar and potassium nitrate, another common fertilizer, and the fuse designed to detonate the warhead is made from a rifle or pistol cartridge, a spring, and a nail. In flight, the rocket is not even spin stabilized but merely settled down by primitive fins, make out of sheet metal, mounted next to the nozzles … which is a dynamically unstable configuration and is why it often leaves a crazy corkscrewing smoke trail when launched in the direction of Israel.

None of this matters, however. It does not matter that the Israelis have slaughtered over 1300 people in the Gaza Ghetto against a loss of of only 13 Israelis, because Congress is cheering, having passed a resolution of overwhelming support (390 to 5) in the House. And it does not matter that Obama is hosed and will probably be humiliated into toeing the line from the git go, because he has pledged to preserve the special relationship.

Ref. counterpunch

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon. He currently lives on a sailboat in the Mediterranean and can be reached at chuck_spinney@mac.com