Were IDF close-range killings in Gazan justified? ( Israeli soldiers killed 93 Palestinians at close range with rifles)

Among the 1,400 Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead last December and January, 1,085 died in Israeli air strikes, according to a study by the Gaza-based human rights group Mezan. Israeli soldiers killed 93 Palestinians at close range with rifles, according to the study, which was requested by Haaretz.

Even assuming a margin of error, Mezan has confidence in the statistics, which show that less than 7 percent of the dead were struck by bullets at close range. Because these are close-range killings, journalists often focus on them, from various points of view. Soldiers’ views, for example, were made public after the soul-searching comments by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course earlier this year.

Did the Israel Defense Forces carefully examine each instance of close-range killing and find that they were justified? Do all the soldiers, sometimes the only eyewitnesses to such killings, share the army’s position?

Raya Abu Hajaj, 65, and her daughter Majeda, 35, were among the people fleeing the Juhor Ad-Dik agricultural area, four or five kilometers south of the Karni crossing into Israel. At 6:30 A.M. on January 4, the first Sunday of the ground attack, one of many shells falling in the area crashed through the northern wall of the Abu Hajaj family’s home; a young girl suffered a shrapnel wound on her hand. According to Salah Abu Hajaj, Raya’s son, Israeli soldiers interrupted local radio broadcasts and ordered residents to leave their homes carrying white flags. Abu Hajaj and the neighboring Safadi family – 29 people in all – decided to flee to Gaza City.

The adults walked at the front of the group carrying small children; Majeda and Ahmed Safadi waved white rags. They walked to the west toward Salah Ad-Din Road. Near a house under construction by the Dughmush family, about 300 meters west of the Safadi home, they could make out a group of tanks at a standstill. The two families continued walking. One tank stood in a field to the north and began moving west, parallel to their route.

Suddenly the tank fired, apparently machine-gun fire while the tank was on the move, causing great panic in the group. They began to run back, to the east. Salah saw a soldier emerge halfway from the tank’s turret. The tank was now between 50 and 100 meters from them. Salah heard shots. He saw his mother and sister fall. Their bodies would be collected from the spot two weeks later.

Did someone higher up know?

Haaretz sent the following question to the IDF Spokesman’s Office on May 19: “Was the decision to shoot from a tank at a line of people walking and waving white flags made by an individual soldier or according to orders from someone higher up? Are we talking about an officer inside the tank or elsewhere? Was there intelligence about an armed fighter hiding among these civilians, based on which a decision was made to fire on the civilians, according to IDF regulations? Did the people pose a threat to the lives of the soldiers in the tanks, and how is it that there was no fire from the tanks to the west of the road, near the Dughmush home? Do the names of Raya and Majeda Abu Hajaj appear on the IDF list of people killed?”

On May 21, the spokesman’s office replied: “The information given us by the reporter was checked over a period of several days by the IDF units on duty in the area. From this examination it became clear that the incident described is unknown to the army. We would be glad to receive further information that may be of use from the reporter, with her permission. It should be noted that during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas cynically exploited the civilian population and used it as a ‘human shield.'”

On January 5, between 4 P.M and 5 P.M., soldiers apparently from Golani infantry units broke into the home of Samir Rashid in the Izbet Abed Rabbo neighborhood in east Jabalya. They broke through the house’s western wall and entered the stairwell. The house faces a mosque where three members of Hamas’ Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades were entrenched. The army shelled this house between January 5 and 6. According to several interviews by Haaretz, at those hours, IDF soldiers forced Palestinian civilians to march in front of them, break into homes and search them.

Using shock grenades, the soldiers walked up to the second floor of the Rashid home, where the entire family had gathered. Samir and Munir Rashid opened the door to the soldiers, immediately putting their hands over their heads. The soldiers demanded that Munir bring them the key to the iron entrance gate, and made Samir accompany them in searches of apartments on the upper floor. A few minutes later, when Munir returned with the key, he saw soldiers carrying his brother on a stretcher.

Samir was dressed only in his pants; blood ran from his naked chest. His dead body remained at the front of the building until January 14. From bloodstains discovered later it is possible to conclude that Samir Rashid was shot on the southeast porch of the four-story house. Two weeks later, after the attack had ended, there were no signs of shooting on the porch wall.

‘They returned fire at the terrorists’

Haaretz asked the IDF Spokesman’s Office: “Samir Rashid worked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. According to his family, the agency and reporters have already asked the IDF why Samir Rashid was shot. The IDF answered that Rashid was trying to escape, according to the family. Is it possible to conclude that Samir Rashid was killed at close range? Has the IDF examined the circumstances surrounding Samir Rashid’s killing?”

The spokesman responded: “Upon examination it came to light that IDF soldiers were fired on during their mission in the area under discussion, and they returned fire at the terrorists. During the exchange of fire in a combat zone, a man was hurt. The claims of shooting at close range are completely baseless.”

The date when Jamila Da’ur, 61, and her son Mohammed, 32, were killed is unknown. On January 18, their bodies were found at the entrance to their home in the Atatra neighborhood. Someone had covered the woman’s body with a blanket, apparently a few days after she died, because there were no signs of blood on the blanket. Mohammed was found with his hands in the motion of raising his shirt.

On the night of January 3, a Saturday, when the explosions and shelling increased, the Da’ur family wanted to escape from their home. But fleeing was also dangerous; shells fell all around, a rocket injured one of them, and glass shattered over people’s heads in the distance. The Da’ur family did not get further than a hundred meters from their house, spending the night wide awake and frightened at a neighbor’s.

The next day Jamila and Mohammed somehow managed to return home, apparently to gather up documents and some valuables. In the afternoon, the IDF dropped white phosphorous shells on the area, killing five members of the Abu Halima family. The last telephone communication with the Da’urs took place Sunday night. Two mattresses in a corridor and an ashtray filled with cigarette butts were discovered the day the fighting ended, so the family has concluded that the two were still alive that Monday morning. A mobile phone and ID cards they had on them have disappeared.

Haaretz asked the IDF Spokesman’s Office: “Were the two killed because they were in an area that residents were asked to vacate? Were they killed because they were suspected of being armed or because armed people were in their vicinity?”

The office replied: “The matter was investigated, and is unknown [to us]. On the surface it appears the journalist has reached conclusions based on guesses and pieces of information. The army spokesman denies any statement that IDF soldiers intentionally shot, without reason, at Palestinians who were not involved [in fighting]. IDF soldiers and their officers have been trained and act in accordance with international legal regulations on warfare, and a great effort is made to reduce injury to the civilian population, even despite the monstrous use of civilians by Hamas.”

Ref: Haaretz

Barak: There is neither hunger nor crisis in Gaza

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the cabinet on Sunday that he felt that there was no crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“There is no hunger or crisis in Gaza,” he said during a security briefing. “More supplies pass through the border crossings today than did during some points of the last cease-fire. Only sensitive materials or construction materials are not transferred in.”

Shin Bet security service Chief Yuval Diskin also briefed the cabinet “An ongoing improvement has been felt in the Egyptian efforts to curb arms smuggling along the Philadelphi route,” he said, referring to a strip of land along the Gaza-Egypt border.

The Shin Bet director explained that the Egyptians replace the forces stationed at the border every few months to prevent soldiers from becoming too attached to the local population, and that several Egyptian officers have already been arrested on suspicion of having taken bribes.

Diskin also addressed the situation within Gaza, saying that tensions were rising between Hamas’ political leadership and the organization’s military wing. According to Diskin, the political leadership wants to engage in public relations and the military wing wants to arm itself and to achieve maximum results in efforts to gain the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Diskin added that Hamas’ “Damascus-based political leaders side with the military wing.”

Diskin also remarked that the chances that the Palestinian will successfully establish a unity government were very small, and that tensions raged between the factions over the elections and security issues.

Shin Bet: Hamas cracking down on Gaza rockets, but arming itself

Diskin also explained to the cabinet that Hamas was working to stop militants in Gaza from firing rockets at Israel, it was nevertheless taking the opportunity to reinforce its own strength in the coastal territory.

“Hamas is working against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, but is simultaneously building its own force within Gaza and is trying to expand its rocket range, both through internal manufacture and the smuggling of proper weapons from Egypt,” Diskin told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

The Shin Bet director added that Hamas was a particular interest in maintaining calm in the Gaza Strip at this time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the briefing by emphasizing that while the current cease-fire between Israel and Gaza was nearly absolute, it was still fragile and threatened by Hamas’ participation in arms smuggling.

“We are asked at all times to ease conditions for the Gaza population, to let in materials and equipment,” Netanyahu said. “But we have other interests in the Strip, and those have to do with security.”

“We do not want to strengthen Hamas, not in its capability, not in prevention, and not economically,” he added. “We want [abducted Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit back. We are examining the matter of border crossings and trying to find the balance between easing conditions for civilians while preventing Hamas’ rearmament.”

ref: haaretz

European fishing pirates hit Pacific: Greenpeace (biznez as usual for the white man)

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Illegal fishing vessels linked to large European fishing firms have begun plundering endangered ocean stocks in the Western and Central Pacific, environment watchdog Greenpeace said on Tuesday.

Surveillance of fishing fleets near the tiny Pacific nations of Kiribati and the Cook Islands showed European owned or operated vessels had expanded their range from the Indian and Atlantic Oceans — mainly in search of tuna.

“Most of the cases documented show clear links to tuna being sold in European markets,” Greenpeace said in a new report on what it said were “European sharks” biting the Pacific.

With a global tuna shortage, large European firms named by Greenpeace as Albacora, Calvopesca and Conservas Garavilla, were sending fishing boats into the western Pacific under flags from Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and the Netherlands Antilles.

“All Pacific island nations negotiating fishing agreements with the European Union need to be fully aware of the track record of Spanish and Dutch-owned vessels in the region, including their pirate fishing operations,” Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Lagi Toribau said.

“Instead of cutting back the amount of fishing, both legal and illegal fishing fleets are expanding,” the report said.

Spain-based Calvopesca and Albacora’s interests include refrigerated tuna fishing boats, transportation, storage, distribution and sale into European supermarkets. The companies
say on their web sites that their fishing operations comply with international laws.

But Greenpeace said seven of 11 fishing incidents this year were linked to European firms and Ecuadorian company Nirsa, which also sells fish to European stores.

Some were licensed only for fishing in the Eastern Pacific, while others were caught in exclusive fishing zones near Kiribati and French Polynesia, Greenpeace said.

Up to 300,000 tones of tuna were being stolen from the Western and Central Pacific each year. Experts have called for big reductions in catches of big-eyed and yellowfin tuna.

Southern bluefin tuna catches are also unsustainable with an even chance that all fish capable of laying eggs will be gone by 2030 if current catch levels continue, according to a 2006 report by Australian, New Zealand, South Korean and Japanese officials.

Greenpeace said small Pacific island nations should form a common negotiating block to better enforce conservation and surveillance measures with the EU and other fishing nations.

“The high-seas pockets in the region should be closed to all fishing activities as no-take marine reserves … in order to halt rampant pirate fishing, and to enhance stock and biodiversity protection in the region,” Toribau said.

Ref: Enn.com

VIDEO: Project For The New American Century (PNAC) WAR CRIMES

Project For The New American Century – deconstructed

Project for the New American Century web page.
The Neo Conservative Manifesto, The Project for the New American Century PNAC

Project for the New American Century is Robbing Us Blind

The Project for a New American Empire – Who are these guys? And why do they think they can rule the world?

Bush planned Iraq ‘regime change’ before becoming President

VIDEO: Media war (how US CAPTIAL master minded the invasion)

Disturbing new evidence suggests the CIA fed faulty intelligence to handpicked journalists to win support for the war against Iraq.

The defection of Iraqi engineer Adnan al Haideri in 2001 was a massive coup for the White House. “He was probably the single most significant defector who came out of Iraq,” states an INC spokesman. Al Haideri claimed to have been hired by Saddam Hussein to build facilities for testing WMD. His story was widely circulated and used to justify the war. Unfortunately, it now appears that his remarkable testimony was a lie. Not one of the hundreds of bunkers detailed by him has been found. “Al Haideri’s evidence is a perfect example of the kind of garbage that was disseminated by Ahmed Chalabi,” states former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. New information has also emerged about the way Al Haideri’s story was leaked to the media. “They misled us,” states Ritter “Thousands of innocent Iraqis perished in a war that didn’t need to be fought.”

VIDEO: How Good People Turn Evil, From Stanford to Abu GhraibC

Abu Ghraib – Iraq

Welcome to the land of greed, imperialism and colonialism.
Oh, and twisted sexual upbringing…



Access to water is fundamental to life and perhaps the most basic human right. For Palestinians living under occupation, it is yet another human right which is controlled by Israel. The human right to water refers to domestic needs, however by denying Palestinians access to water, the Israeli government is also denying the human right to food which incorporates water for agriculture, and the human right to sanitation.

Although it is often overlooked, the Israeli monopoly of water – already a scarce resource in the region – undermines Palestinian economic development and is a critical political issue. Water is one of the six permanent status issues to be dealt with in the negotiations between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the Israeli Government. This conflict is about resources as well as land, and a viable Palestinian state will not be possible while Israel continues to ignore international laws and previously signed agreements regarding water with the same impunity that it ignores internationally recognised borders and previously signed agreements regarding land. Israel has denied the Palestinians the right to drill one single well in the Western Aquifer since 1967. In this way Israel ensures that the bulk of the flow continues to cross the green line into Israel, and Israel can continue to abstract most of supposedly shared water.

Palestinian water rights were recognised in Article 40 of the Oslo II Interim Agreement, bringing hopes that living standards in the Occupied Territories would improve and that water for agriculture would stimulate economic growth. According to the recent World Bank report, Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development, these hopes have “only very partially been realised”, as Gaza and parts of the West Bank suffer “chronic” water-related humanitarian crises. Problematically, while Article 40 recognised Palestinian Water Rights, it failed to define them as Israel preferred to postpone this to the final status negotiations.

The Joint Water Committee was established under Article 40 of the Olso II Interim Agreement of 1995 to manage the water resources of the West Bank. Typically, Joint Water Committees are established to manage a shared water resource and not just a portion of the resource as is the case with the Israeli-Palestinian JWC, the jurisdiction of which is limited to those water resources accessible from within the West Bank. Essentially, Israel was able to reinforce its 1967 military order placing all of the water resources of the West Bank under Israeli military control.

Under the system established by Article 40, any proposed infrastructure project or management measure within the West Bank must be approved by Israeli authorities. The World Bank report states that the way in which this has been implemented gives Israeli authorities total control over the allocation and management of West Bank water resources. Further, Israeli territorial jurisdiction over 60% of the West Bank (Area C), makes management of water resources “virtually impossible” for the Palestinian Authority.

According to the World Bank report, “fundamental asymmetries of power” prevent the JWC from functioning as a “joint” institution. The JWC is inherently flawed due to its limited jurisdiction over only those shared mountain water resources which underlie the West Bank instead of effective joint management over the entire shared resource.

The majority of the priority projects in line with Palestinian National Water Objectives have still not been realised after 14 years. Israeli projects to abstract water from the shared Mountain Aquifer are not even presented to the JWC. In some instances, Israel has taken action unilaterally, and charged the costs to the Palestinian Authority. Where sewage runs untreated towards Israel, Israeli authorities have taken to treating it and charging the costs to the Palestinian Authority, amounting to $43 million between 1996 and 2008. There is no formal billing: the Palestinian Ministry of Finance is simply informed of the decision and the charges are withheld from Palestinian tax revenue.

However, untreated waste water flows from the large Ariel settlement just 15 metres from the spring of Salfit: recently sewage flooded the spring, which is the source of Salfit water supply. Germany allocated money for a treatment plant for Salfit, but for three years Israeli authorities demanded a joint project. It was eventually approved but when work started, it was said to be close to the site of future settlements and construction was halted in 2000. A new site has been proposed, but as the new site is also in Area C, it is being held up by Israeli “planning considerations”. Since 1996, the JWC has postponed all wastewater projects proposed by the Palestinian Water Authority. In 2005, the entire Palestinian city of Qalqiliyya was flooded with sewage and waste water after the trunk line blocked, and it took three days for the army to get permission from Israel to clear the blockage. In this light, the Israeli Water Authority’s suggestion that “the Palestinians apparently prefer to let their wastewater flow into Israeli territory” (The Issue of Water Between Israel and Palestinians, Israeli Water Authority, March 2009) is unfair, if not provocative.

Records show that the Palestinian projects which have been rejected or delayed by JWC would have benefitted 1.1 million beneficiaries. This is a bare minimum: in reality almost all Palestinians have been negatively affected by Israel’s water policies. The World Bank states that in practice movement and access restrictions present a “formidable, often insuperable constraint” for Palestinians to get projects implemented: “Essentially the Israeli Water Authority has veto power, and in order to solicit approvals on vital emergency water needs, the Palestinian Authority is forced into positions that compromise its basic policy principles.”

Currently, Palestinians have access to one fifth of the resources of the Mountain Aquifer. Israel takes the rest, and overdraws the “estimated potential” by over 50% without JWC approval – almost double its share under Oslo Accords. This lowers the aquifer to the point that the shallow wells which Palestinians drilled before 1967, during Jordanian rule, now run dry. Over pumping aquifers also places the quality of the aquifer at risk. Around half of the households in the West Bank report problems in the quality of their drinking water supply, and only 31% Palestinians are connected to a sewerage network. Even those with access to a water supply network are not guaranteed supply: the infrastructure is useless without enough water in the lines. At Auja, the formerly productive Auja spring now runs dry thanks to the activity of five nearby Israeli production wells: the formerly water-abundant village must now buy back water from surrounding settlements.

As well as causing a crisis in sanitation, this has had a significant impact on the Palestinian economy. In the West Bank, average household expenditure on water is twice the globally accepted standard. Often it is the poorest Palestinians, unconnected to a water supply, who are the hardest hit: one-sixth of their household budget is spent on water costs, as Israeli restrictions on movement and access drive up the cost of tankers. The World Bank estimates these extra costs amount to $45 million annually. Further, the less entitlement Palestinians are permitted to their existing water resources, the more they must spend developing new ones.

The effect of Israel’s monopoly of the water supply has severely undermined the Palestinian economy by impeding the development of the water-reliant agricultural industry, a key sector for the revival of the Palestinian economy. This has particularly affected the irrigated agriculture which already suffers from movement restrictions: in the West Bank produce has to contend with 640 checkpoints and unpredictable closures, the cost of which must be passed on to the consumer. The World Bank estimates that the cost to the economy of foregone opportunity in irrigated agriculture in the West Bank could be as high as $480 million annually, and 110,000 jobs. In Gaza, aside from the border closures which deny access to markets, with water supply at crisis levels the potentially very profitable agricultural industry simply cannot develop. Damage to infrastructure during the war on Gaza has only compounded this, in yet another violation of both the Geneva Convention, and the Joint Declaration for Keeping Water Infrastructure out of the Cycle of Violence, agreed by the JWC in January 2001. The continued siege on Gaza has prevented the reconstruction of its water infrastructure.

Water scarcity in the Occupied Territories is not induced by natural conditions alone: it is a man-made crisis created by Israel, and imposed on the Palestinians. A 2002 report commissioned by the Israel Knesset entitled ’Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry on the Israeli Water Sector’, concludes that “(t)he water crisis was not brought about only by climatic changes that caused a fall in the quantity of rain, nor even by the steep rise in population and its standards of living in the last 50 years. The astounding failure is primarily man-made”.

The issue of water cannot be postponed any longer, and must be at the top of the list as a new round of peace talks is initiated. A recent study by the Palestinian Economic Research Institute (MAS) estimating future water needs in Palestine until 2020 provides guidelines which can be used in negotiations with Israel. The official PLO position is inline with International Water Law and the principle of “Equitable and Reasonable Utilisation”. However the World Bank report calls for minimal Water Rights to be granted to Palestinians, and Israel has rejected even these.

Given its well-documented disregard for international law it is unsurprising that, in its report “The Issue of Water Between Israel and Palestinians” released in March, the Israel Water Authority (IWA) stressed that the sides should focus less on “legal solutions” and “legal aspects”. Likewise, considering that Israeli water availability is more than six times greater per capita than water availability for Palestinians, IWA’s assertion in the same report that water agreements between countries are “not a question of principles” is also unsurprising.

Israeli discrimination in the allocation of water is part of the structural oppression of an occupied people, perpetuating a system of apartheid, an unsustainable economy and prohibiting any possibility of a viable Palestinian state. Water is a permanent status, and has therefore been negotiated over in OSLO, OSLO II, Camp David, Taba and Annapolis, yet water-related humanitarian crises remain chronic in Gaza and in parts of the West Bank. It is vital that Israel does not continue to postpone the issue of water rights for Palestinians in the next round of peace talks, however Palestinian people cannot wait for peace to be granted basic human rights and access to their own water.

ref. Palestine monitor

Also read: ISRAEL- Don’t make the desert bloom