Abbas: All Palestinians should be given right to return home

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Lebanon on Thursday that all Palestinians should be given the right to return home.

The highly contentious notion of a Palestinian “right of return” is one key issues in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians for peace agreement.

“The refugees should have the right of return to their homeland and we are negotiating this with the Israelis. I have to say we are not with permanent settlement of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. We are against permanent resettlement,” Abbas told reporters after meeting Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on a visit to Beirut.
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Abbas also said he rejects the idea that Palestinian refugees might be forced to stay in Lebanon permanently.

The Palestinian president added that he supports all decisions made by the Lebanese government on how to deal with Palestinian militants outside the refugee camps.

“The camps in Lebanon are part of the Lebanese territories and part of the Lebanese government’s responsibility, regarding security and non-security matters,” Abbas said. “We are ready to cooperate by all means because we do not see ourselves as being in charge of security inside the camps,” he said.

Impoverished and densely packed Palestinian camps have become fertile ground for Palestinian factions vying for control.

About 400,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in twelve refugee camps around Lebanon. The refugee camps were set up for Palestinians displaced during the 1948 War of Independence that led to the creation of the state of Israel.

The fate of millions of Palestinian refugees is one of the most difficult issues in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. Israel has refused to accept the return of refugees, believing that they should be resettled in a future Palestinian state or the places where they now live.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said this week that the right of return is incompatible with the creation of a Palestinian state.

Many Lebanese are opposed the permanent resettlement of Palestinian refugees, fearing they would tip the country’s delicate sectarian balance.

Ref: Haaretz

Khadr video released

“Khadr is 16 at the time and still recovering from the injuries he received from his capture seven months earlier by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan. He is being interviewed by a senior spy from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and foreign affairs official Jim Gould, although the faces of the two Canadians have been blacked out.”

Ref: the Star

‘Dutch Jimmy Carter’ accuses Israel of terrorism in new book

The emotion in Andreas Van Agt’s voice as he lambastes Israel’s behavior seems puzzling for a man of his status. It is especially intriguing when one is reminded that this blue-eyed professed idealist is an astute statesman who presided as the Dutch prime minister for five years, until 1982.

“My involvement in the Middle East is certainly unusual,” Van Agt confessed in an interview with Haaretz at his home in Nijmegen, where he discussed Israel, the Palestinians, European foreign policy, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.


Currently, Van Agt is writing a book about the Israeli-Arab conflict. In December he launched an info-site (www.driesvanagt.nl) about the subject, in which he accuses Israel of brutal treatment of the Palestinians, violating international law and implementing racist policies.

Among other illustrations, the site contains one snapshot of a graffiti slogan said to have been sprayed by Jewish settlers on a Hebron wall, reading: “Arabs to the gas chambers.”

Last year, Van Agt spoke as keynote speaker at a controversial solidarity rally with the Palestinian people in Rotterdam, where he lamented the Dutch boycott of Hamas, calling it wrong “and even stupid.” He has also been outspoken in accusing the Israel Defense Forces of acting like a terrorist organization.

“In my country, people are highly surprised by my demeanor. Some even say it should be ascribed to my advanced age; that I’m not fully in my right mind anymore,” the 77-year-old says with a snicker while sitting under the outdated portrait of the Queen, which hangs on the wall of his modern-style, taupe-colored den.

Van Agt hails from the ranks of the ruling party, the Christian Democratic Appeal. Such statements about Israel can therefore be seen as embarrassing for the current leadership, which is considered one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in the European Union.

When Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen was asked earlier this year during a visit to Israel whether he regarded the statements by the former premier as embarrassing to the government, his first response was a hearty laugh. He then distanced himself from the former leader. “Dries Van Agt represents the opinion of one man: Dries Van Agt,” Verhagen told Haaretz.

Van Agt nonetheless maintains his statements are embarrassing to CDA top-brass, adding that the embarrassment is not an undesirable effect as far as he is concerned. “I could say that maybe what I’m doing is not as embarrassing to them as it should be,” he says.

His penchant for criticizing Israel to varying degrees of acrimoniousness was not characteristic of his term in office. “The Dutch Jimmy Carter”, as local media sometimes dub him, says he became vocal after 1999, when his “eyes were opened” during a traditional catholic pilgrimage trip to religious sites in the Holy Land.

“I’m driven partly by my shame for not speaking up for the Palestinians when I was in power, and partly by some striking experiences I had when visiting the Occupied Territories in the recent past,” he says. “People often ask me how come I’m so outspoken now, but did not speak up when I was in a position of power. And it’s true, I never spoke up for the Palestinians, except for when Sabra and Shatila happened. And even that was in soft terms.”

Van Agt says he is still “ashamed” that he made effort to sooth matters for Israel after the 1982 massacre of hundreds of Palestinian refugees by Lebanese Christian militiamen in an IDF-controlled area of Lebanon. “That was my inclination, that was how I was mentally structured vis-à-vis Israel at the time,” he says.

But much more than Sabra and Shatila, it was the story of one Palestinian young man from Bethlehem which put Van Agt on his present course, according to the ex-premier.

“In one of my visits to Bethlehem I heard a story, which now I know is just one of many,” Van Agt recalls. “It was a story horrendous humiliation of a Palestinian student trying to get to university for a collective exam. His story, which the university president told me, struck me like lightening.”

At the last IDF checkpoint on the way, according to the story which Van Agt says he heard from the university president, the student was pulled over and ordered to climb out of the window. “Then the humiliation began. He fell down and was then ordered to walk on hands and feet and bark. Then the soldiers laughed about the Palestinians all being dogs.”

That story, Van Agt says, served to undermine his former conviction that “everything which Israel does is what it needs to do for its survival.” It launched him into the problem, he says.

“I began studying, figuring out what’s going on there. I found one story after the other. Then I started thinking about the 39 United Nations resolutions begging, demanding and imploring Israel to vacate the Occupied Territories. All were dismissed by Israel. Saddam Hussein was attacked after four resolutions, but Israel got 39 and nobody talks about applying even the slightest pressure on Israel to comply with them,” he complains.

Europeans, he says, have a political obligation toward the Palestinians which they have overlooked. “All the other Arabs, in some way or another, happy or unhappy, dictatorial or not, have their only states. The only Arabs that never got a state were the Palestinians. That has to do with the former colonialist powers, the U.K. and France.”

The second reason for his feeling of commitment toward the Palestinians, Van Agt says, is that “without the worst crime in the history of humanity, the Holocaust, the Shoa, Israel would not have come into existence in that time and in that formula.”

Most Western nations, he says, are in some form complicit in the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis, be it by denying shelter for Jewish refugees, or collaborating with the Germans. This resulted in guilt which prompted Europeans “to sacrifice the Palestinians for Israel,” he proposes. “The Palestinians paid the price for something they were not responsible for. That is my drive,” he says after a short dramatic pause. “And the emotions you see are real and authentic, and they stem from this injustice.”

The self-proclaimed commitment that European nations have for democracy, Van Agt argues, means that they should recognize Hamas as a legitimate representative of the Palestinians. “It is not Hamas’ government which is illegitimate,” he says, alluding to Hamas’ victory in the 2006 elections over Fatah. “It is counterproductive and unwise not to talk to Hamas – also because the legitimacy of the current government in Ramallah is questionable.”

The three conditions for recognizing Hamas as stipulated by Israel and the Quartet strike Van Agt as stupid. “The first requirement, that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is biased because Israel does not recognize Hamas’ right to rule. Where’s the reciprocity there?” he complains. Besides, he says, “Israel has never defined its own borders, so demanding Hamas to recognize an entity without clear borders is totally unreasonable.”

The demand that Hamas honor the Palestinian Authority’s past agreements with Israel is also unpalatable to Van Agt, on the grounds that they were not signed and conducted by a democratically elected, and hence legitimate, regime. To him, the Palestinian Authority consists of a bunch of small, fragmented Bantustans,” he says.

“The Oslo Accords and the talks that followed were the most self-defeating thing Arafat had ever done,” the former premier observes. “The Accords didn’t provide any guarantees to the Palestinians and were not based on international law. And Abbas is continuing with this endeavor which runs contrary to the rights and interests of the Palestinians.”

As for the third demand, which is to renounce violence, Van Agt says: “First of all, Israel is still employing violence, so again there’s no reciprocity. But besides that, since when does international law renounce the right of occupied people to resist the occupying power?”

When the subject of Hamas’ own debatable level of commitment to democratic values comes up – along with the question of whether the Islamist organization should be afforded the protection of a set of values that it does not honor ? Van Agt acknowledges that “things could be better.”

He adds: “Hamas’ behavior is reason for great concern, that’s right. But it’s ignorant to judge how Hamas is ruling without taking into account the impossible conditions in Gaza, the biggest prison in the world.”

Hamas’ suicide bombings are “illegal and detestable” to Van Agt, he says, but he would only agree to call Hamas a terrorist organization if the definition is applied to the Israeli army as well. “If one party is called a terrorist entity because it carries out deliberate attacks against civilians to pursue political goals, then the Israeli army is guilty of state terrorism. That needs to be said, too. Human rights organizations report that the Israeli army has killed more than 3000 Palestinian civilians since the beginning of the second Intifada.”

Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, he recalls, “introduced the bombing of civilians as a military tactic in the run up to the establishment of Israel, and were therefore called terrorists.”

The perceived failure of Israel’s neighbors to live up to Western standards of democracy is also a result of their conflict with Israel, according to Van Agt. “Maybe I’m a naïve idealist, but I think that if Israel had not evolved into being a disaster for its neighbors then they would behave much batter. Not perfectly, not to the full standard, but much better. I cannot help but put much of the blame on Israel itself, and the pressure that it has placed on its neighboring countries.”

However, Van Agt is willing to acknowledge that Israel is currently fighting extremist Muslim groups who are also committed to the destruction of societies like the Netherlands.

In Van Agt’s eyes, Israel “is not behaving like a country that deserves to be called a member of the family of civilized nations.” This observation applies to the U.S. too, he says, “which is co-responsible for the injustice we have been facing for decades.

According to Van Agt, Israel is making frequent and excessive use of deadly force against the Palestinians. This accusation has been seen as hypocritical of Van Agt by some pro-Zionist detractors in the Netherlands, most notably by the Hague-based Center for Information and Documentation (CIDI.)

In 1977, when Van Agt was justice minister, a group of Moluccan militants seeking autonomy for their group of Indonesian islands hijacked a train in northeast Holland and took its 50 passengers hostage for 20 days. Rather than resolve the situation through dialogue, Van Agt voted in favor of a military operation that left six of the nine hijackers dead, along with two hostages.

The analogy between the use of force in the Moluccan hijacking case and use of force by Israelis against Palestinians is farfetched, Van Agt says. “Given the same set of circumstances, I would still authorize the use of force,” he says.

According to his account, it was Van Agt who cast the deciding vote in favor of the action in a small forum of five.

“The prime minister was against the action and another minister was also opposed. I was for it along with two others. We had tried to negotiate for long enough – weeks.

The situation on the train, Van Agt recalls, was becoming critical.” Doctors warned us that people on the train might have heart attacks. There was also the possibility that someone might go berserk and attack one of the highjackers – and who knows what kind of bloodshed might have ensued. I would do the same exactly all over again.”

The militants’ demands nonetheless seem justified to Van Agt, he says. The South-Moluccans, who were seen by many Indonesians as collaborators with the Dutch colonizing power, came to Holland in the 1950s for a temporary stay. They had been promised by the Dutch government that they would get their own independent state, but felt betrayed after the Netherlands failed to deliver.

Over the years, several opinion-shapers, including the German writer and journalist Henryk Broder have accused Van Agt of anti-Semitism because of his criticism of Israel. People from organizations which are critical of Israel and regularly confer with Van Agt, like “A Different Jewish Voice” and United Civilians for Peace, say he is anything but anti-Semitic.

He says he has had to face the accusation because “It’s the most effective way of keeping countless others from following my example and speaking about what they really feel.”

The accusers, however, allege Van Agt demonstrated anti-Semitism before he became so involved with the Palestinian cause. In 1972, one year after he left his position as a lecturer on criminal law to become justice minister, Van Agt sparked a heated debate by attempting to pardon the last three Nazi war criminals still in Dutch prisons.

At a press conference that same year, he said to a journalist: “I am only an Aryan” in speaking about his intention to bring about the Nazi prisoners’ release for health reasons.

“I was what is called a progressive thinker,” Van Agt explains. “Now, in the last years of my life, I’m returning to that. I had some very modern ideas about the use and uselessness of applying criminal law sanctions. I have very serious doubts about the use, and hence justification, of detaining people for anything but the heaviest crimes.”

“I had these kinds of ideas long before I came to a position of power. I wrote about them and promulgated them in books and articles. So that was nothing new. Then all of a sudden, to the surprise of everyone, including myself and my wife, I became justice minister. And that meant I got the problem of the three remaining Germans war criminals in Dutch prisons on my plate.”

The two previous justice ministers, Teun Struycken and Carel Polak, also supported releasing the prisoners in principle, according to Van Agt. “Polak was one of the many highly gifted sons of the Jewish people”, Van Agt says. “And justice minister Ivo Samkalden, also Jewish, had released one of the Dutch war criminals already in the 1960’s.”

“These ministers agreed that holding on to the prisoners was senseless,” he adds. “I would still support their release if it happened today. They were of bad health, and one or two of them was senile. I still believe it’s nonsense to keep a senile person in prison, and when detaining people doesn’t make sense, then it’s injustice.”

Injustice in the case of the Nazi criminals was not the way to celebrate the reestablishment of Dutch constitutional state (Rechtstaat in Dutch) after the Nazi occupation, he argues. “It needed to be shown in its full potential. Keeping these people in jail served no legal purposes. Specific prevention? They couldn’t even handle a pen. And as for general prevention, well, did anyone think the Germans would start another war if the prisoners were released?” Two of the Breda Three were released in 1989. A third died in the southern-Holland prison in 1979.

The famous “Aryan” statement, which grabbed headlines in 1972, needs to be understood in context, he says. “When I just got my appointment as a minister, the first thing I did was meet the press. I was totally inexperienced and green. It was a very informal cocktail party. I went around, mingled, made jokes and was basically having fun with the new friends to come.”

Then the question came up. “I should have known it, but I was so naïve then. One journalist asked if I would act to end the continued detention of the three German prisoners. And then I made the gravest mistake. I said that even my Jewish predecessor was unsuccessful in getting them out of jail – ‘and I’m only an Aryan.'”

Slowly shaking his head, Van Agt repeats the short explosive sentence. “It was made in self-deprecation. I was deriding myself, a style which has always characterized my presentations. But that wretched word was in the newspapers the next morning. One guy picked out that one sentence from that informal conversation.”

The explanations eventually satisfied the Dutch electorate and the press, Van Agt says. “I hadn’t heard about the story for 30 years, but when I started becoming critical of the state of Israel, it resurfaced in an effort to silence me. Those who criticize me and others who speak out, always target the person bearing the message. They are not interested in a fair and open debate. Kill the messenger, if you can’t beat the message.” In earnest tone of voice, he concludes: “I am definitely not an Anti-Semite.”

Moreover, he says that no anti-Semite could ever reach a position of power in the Netherlands. “It’s absolutely impossible. Even among those who have become highly critical of Israel’s illegal policies, there is a deep respect for the Jewish people.”

That respect, he says, has developed into a “deeply engrained consciousness of the contribution that European Jews have made over the years to European culture. No one with anti-Jewish sentiments could come to power here.”

Ref: Haaretz

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Israeli Violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention

Israel is a serial international law abuser. Specifically, it commits grave violations of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention that protects civilians in times of war and has done it for decades:

— Article 2 states that “the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them. The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory….even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance;”

— Article 3 prohibits all kinds of assaults on life or physical security;

— Article 27 refers to “protected persons” and states “They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence….,”

— Article 32 prohibits murder, torture and corporal punishment, and

— Article 33 prohibits collective punishment and “all measures of intimidation or….terrorism.”

Geneva and other international human rights laws guarantee what Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: that everyone “has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” It also affirms Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 stating that every “human being has the inherent right to life.” Violations of Geneva and other internationa laws are crimes of war and against humanity. Israel is a serial offender but has yet to be held to account.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights documented its extra-judicial executions from September 29, 2000 through December 2007 and updates it weekly on its web site – pchrgaza.org. Below are examples, but first some background.

Some Brief History of Israeli Targeted Killings

Without cause, these executions target specific individuals with explicit government approval, and Israelis have done it for decades. During the Mandatory Palestine period, Stern Gang (later renamed Lehi) and Irgun members were underground terrorists with very committed aims – to drive out the British (seen as occupiers), allow unrestricted Jewish immigration, remove indigenous Arabs, and establish the Jewish state of Israel. They carried out killings and bombings, some of which were notorious like Lehi’s 1944 assassination of Britain’s Lord Moyne, the military governor of Egypt. Another was Irgun’s infamous 1946 King David Hotel bombing killing 91 Brits, Arabs and Jews and injuring many more.

Two of their leaders became future prime ministers – Lehi’s Yitzhak Shamir (1983 – 84 and 1986 – 1992) and Irgun’s Menachem Begin (1977 – 1983), but they were wanted men before 1948. The New York Times called Irgun a “terrorist organization,” and the World Zionist Congress in 1946 strongly condemned “the shedding of innocent blood as a means of political warfare.” It was just beginning.

In the 1950s, targeted killings were common and were used to halt fedayeen resistance attacks from Egypt. In 1967, after Gaza and the West Bank were occupied, Palestinians became the favorite target, inside and outside the Territories, and by various means:

— car and mail bombs,

— air attacks,

— commando raids,

— undercover operations,

— poisoning,

— snipers, and

— various other methods, including proxy forces to do Israeli killing.

General Ariel Sharon commanded an “anti-terror” detachment in the early 1970s that targeted Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza. Through undercover operations, the unit killed 104 Palestinians and arrested 742 others.

After Israeli athletes were killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan established “Committee X” that used Mossad operatives to find the kill the perpetrators. Thirteen deaths resulted, including a Moroccan busboy in Norway by mistake.

Throughout the 1970s, Palestinians in the Territories were targeted, especially its leaders, and in 1982 Israelis nearly killed Yasir Arafat with car bombs, air attacks and at least once when a sniper had him targeted but got no orders to shoot. His second in command, Abu Jihad (Khalil el-Wazir), was less fortunate. He was key to the first Intifada’s success, an irreplaceable leader, and had to be eliminated. Ehud Barak reportedly got the assignment and headed a commando operation that killed him.

Executions continued in the 1990s, including three major ones with mixed success. One killed Islamic Jihad leader, Fathi Shikaki, in Malta in 1995. Another eliminated Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas Izzaddin al-Qassam Brigades member who was known as “the Engineer” for his bomb-making skills. One embarrassing attempt failed. It targeted Hamas’ Amman, Jordan political bureau chief, Khaled Meshal. Two Mossad agents poisoned him but were captured by Jordanian authorities before they could flee. To secure their release, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to provide the poison’s antidote and release Hamas’ founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, from an Israeli prison.

With the outbreak of the second Intifada, killings escalated markedly. Below are examples, including several high-ranking Palestinians:

— Abu Ali Mustafa – head of the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP),

— Mustafa Zibri – the PFLP’s Secretary-General,

— Raed al-Karmi – a Lebanese Tanzim movement leader, and

— many mid-level resistance fighters from various Palestinian groups opposing the occupation.

Examples of Extra-Judicial Executions from September 29, 2000 Through December 2006

All three Israeli government branches support extra-judicial killings and require no evidence to justify them. Officials merely say those targeted are wanted, dangerous, and threaten State security. As a result, security forces kill with impunity and with no regard for the innocent, including women, children, the elderly or infirm.

Consider an egregious example. On July 12, 2006, IDF aircraft attacked the home of Dr. Nabeel Abu Silmiya in the Gaza City Sheikh Radwan neighborhood. The house was completely destroyed and Dr. Nabeel, his wife and seven children were killed – possibly in error, according to IDF. It claimed it targeted Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades leader, Mohammed al-Daif, and a number of his colleagues but struck the wrong house instead.

Multiple killings are common and are carried out against civilian homes, government buildings and structures, and by planting bombs in cars and targeted shootings on the ground. The death toll keeps rising, and PCHR documented specific examples below.

Examples of IDF Executions from January Through March 2007

Five targeted killings occurred in the period during which three others were injured.

On February 1, IDF soldiers killed Jaser Nader Ahmad Abut Zugheib in the Tulkarm refugee camp. In the same incursion, two Palestinians were wounded, one seriously with a bullet in the chest.

On February 21, an IDF undercover unit targeted the al-Bassatin area west of Jenin. It killed Mahmoud Ibrahim Qassem Obaid, an Islamic Jihad al-Quds Brigades leader, by shooting him in the head at close range.

On February 28, another IDF undercover unit executed three Islamic Jihad members as they tried to flee the Jenin refugee camp in a car.

In the examples above, arrests weren’t attempted, and victims were either wounded or unarmed when IDF soldiers executed them Mafia-style by point-blank shootings. PCHR stresses that with no due process and the absence of evidence, there’s no guarantee or even likelihood that targeted individuals committed crimes. They were simply Israeli vigilante justice victims targeting the innocent.

Selected IDF Executions from April Through June 2007

During the period, 25 killings occurred, but only 16 were actually targeted.

On April 21, an IDF undercover unit attacked a car in Jenin killing three Palestinians in it. Two were al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members and the other belonged to the al-Quds Brigades. On the same day, an IDF aircraft-fired missile killed an innocent civilian in his vehicle who had no affiliation with Palestinian resistance groups.

On May 4, Seilat al-Harthiya village, west of Jenin was attacked. Two al-Quds Brigades members and a mentally disabled Palestinian civilian were executed.

On May 20, an IDF aircraft missile struck a Gaza City al-Shojaeya neighborhood meeting hall killing seven members of the al-Haya family and a Hamas activist as well as wounding three others.

On May 29, IDF undercover units killed two Palestinian activists in Ramallah and Jenin and wounded five others.

On June 1, the IDF assassinated an Islamic Jihad member in Khan Yunis.

On June 12, the IDF executed an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member in the north Tulkarm Saida village.

On June 24, the IDF killed three al-Quds Brigades members and wounded three civilians.

On June 30, IDF forces executed three al-Quds Brigades members in Khan Yunis.

Selected IDF Executions from July Through September 2007

On July 26, an IDF aircraft struck a vehicle south of Gaza City killing three activists in it.

On August 4, an aircraft-fired missile struck a civilian car near the Rafah International Crossing Point on the Egyptian border. Three al-Quds Brigades members in it were seriously wounded but managed to survive. Moments later, two other missiles hit another civilian car killing the driver and a civilian bystander and wounding 12 others.

On August 20, IDF forces executed four Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades members and two additional Palestinian Ministry of Interior Executive Force members in central Gaza’s al-Boreij refugee camp.

On August 21, IDF air and ground forces killed three Palestinians in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis.

On August 22, the IDF executed an Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades member and wounded another east of Gaza City.

During the last week of August, three children were extra-judicially killed in Beit Hanoun. There was no evidence they had any affiliation with a local resistance group.

On September 26, IDF forces executed five Army of Islam members in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City.

Examples of IDF Executions from September through December 2007

On October 11, an IDF undercover unit killed one and wounded another al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member near al-Hamam Square in Jenin.

On November 25, IDF forces executed an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member in the Tulkarm refugee camp, east of the town. Witnesses said he raised his hands to surrender but was shot in the neck. Seriously injured, two IDF soldiers beat him violently and let him bleed to death in a coffee shop. A second man was also seriously injured in the attack.

On November 29, IDF aircraft attacked and killed two Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades members northeast of Khan Yunis.

Attacks continue unabated – by air strikes and on-the-ground Mafia-style executions in violation of sacred international law explained above. And a Haaretz February 29 article suggests they threaten to escalate.

It quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak blaming Hamas for the increased violence and said it will “bear the cost of our response….(it’s) necessary and will be carried out.” On the same day, Knesset chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzachi Hanegbi, said IDF forces must “quickly….topple the Hamas terror regime and take over all the areas from which rockets are fired on Israel,” and they should remain in those areas for years.

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai went further and threatened a “shoah,” which is the Hebrew word for holocaust. On Israeli radio he said: “the more Qassam (rocket) fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger ‘shoah’ because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” The comment is outrageous, it incites genocide, and it’s a punishable crime in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Gregory Stanton’s Genocide Watch site has a mission: to “predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder (by) rais(ing awareness and influenc(ing) public policy concerning potential and actual genocide.” Its aim “is to build an international movement to prevent and stop genocide,” and it’s badly needed in Occupied Palestine where Israel has conducted state-sponsored genocide for decades according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

International law expert Francis Boyle agrees and proposed in a March 20, 1998 article that “the Provisional Government of (Palestine) and its President institute legal proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague for violating the (Genocide Convention).” He categorically stated that “Israel has indeed perpetrated the international crime of genocide against the Palestinian people (and the) lawsuit would….demonstrate that undeniable fact to the entire world.” Boyle would likely agree that the case today is even more compelling at a time Israeli forces are ravaging Gaza and assaulting West Bank communities as well.

Genocide is hideous in concept and execution, and Stanton explains how it progresses in eight defined stages:

1. Classification – Cultures or societies distinguish between “us and them” to categorize people by race, religion, nationality or other distinguishing characteristic;

2. Symbolization – Classifications are given names or other symbols, such as Jews, Latinos, blacks or Muslims.

3. Dehuminization – A dominant group denies another’s humanity and equates its members with animals, vermin, insects, diseases or, in the case of Palestinian resistance fighters, gunmen or terrorists;

4. Organization – Genocide is always organized; most often it’s by the state using militias, the military and/or other security forces to target victimized groups;

5. Polarization – Extremists incite hate through propaganda and other communication methods, and laws and other measures often target the victims;

6. Preparation – Victims are identified, separated out and targeted for elimination;

7. Extermination – Once it starts, it escalates to mass killing that’s legally defined as “genocide;” and finally

8. Denial – The final stage assures continued genocide will follow with evidence of it suppressed or destroyed. Some genocidal regimes are brought to justice like the Nazis at Nuremberg. Others like Israeli governments since 1948 have gotten away with it for decades with no indication (so far) the Olmert or a future regime will be held to account.

Minister Vilnai affirms that killing may now escalate against a people who’ve been under a medieval siege for months. Talk of peace and ceasefire is hollow, Israel and Washington incite violence and want none of it, and IDF commanders are preparing a large-scale assault to target Hamas for removal. How much longer will this go on? When will the occupation end? How many more killings will be tolerated? When will world leaders take note? People who care want answers. It’s about time they got them.

Ref: The populist party

(Another week of) Israeli Human Rights Violations

The four children from the Abu Me’tiq family who were killed by an Israeli missile that hit their house

– 9 Palestinians, including 5 children and a woman, were killed by IOF in the Gaza Strip.
– The victims include a woman and her 4 children who were killed when IOF shelled their house in Beit Hanoun town.
– 29 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 6 children and a woman, were wounded by IOF.
– A Palestinian civilian was wounded by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
– IOF conducted 36 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 4 ones into the Gaza Strip.
– IOF razed 140 donums[1] of agricultural land in the southern Gaza Strip.
– IOF demolished a house and damaged agricultural areas in Beit Hanoun.
– IOF arrested 37 Palestinian civilians and held at least 50 others for some time in the Gaza Strip.
– IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.
– The fuel crisis in the Gaza Strip has escalated.
– 6 Palestinian civilian were arrested by IOF at military checkpoints in the West Bank.
– IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attacks Palestinian civilians and property.
– The Israeli High Court legitimize the demolition of at least 60% of the houses in al-‘Aqaba village in the Jordan Valley.
– Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian civilians and their property in Hebron.

Ref: Palestine Human Rights Report

Israeli occupation in plain…

Read Palestinan history

Israel to boycott UN conference on human rights and racism

Israel will boycott the United Nations “Durban II” conference on human rights, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced Sunday in Jerusalem at the annual meeting of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. The decision followed an assessment by the Foreign Ministry, and other Western governments, that it will be impossible to prevent the conference from turning into a festival of anti-Israeli attacks. South Africa hosted the first Durban conference in the summer of 2001 under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was titled “The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance,” but most of the discussions revolved around Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. 

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The United States and Israel responded by lowering the level of their diplomatic representation and eventually quit the conference, which culminated in a resolution equating Zionism and racism. That conference also provided a framework for a global convention of non-governmental organizations, which became a platform for delegitimizing Israel. For the past few months, a coalition of Israeli and global Jewish organizations, together with government representatives, tried to prepare a joint policy for the follow-up conference, which is scheduled to take place in early 2009 at a still undecided venue. Among other things, there were talks with the foreign ministries of other countries and pressure on NGOs to guarantee that no anti-Semitic resolutions would be passed. However, it became clear there is little chance of effecting a change, among other reasons because the UN Human Rights Commission is chaired by Libya. Livni said Sunday that Israel had intended to try and influence the discussion “from within,” by taking an active role in international forums “and cooperating with those leaders and countries that don’t have a hidden agenda, and who truly want to promote human rights. But that policy is sometimes misinterpreted, and there are mistakes one must not repeat. Therefore I wish to make clear that Israel will not participate and will not grant legitimacy to the UN conference on racism unless there is proof that the conference will not become a platform for more anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity.” Livni called on the international community to boycott the conference, or else risk “legitimizing hatred, extremism and anti-Semitism under the guise of combating racism.” 

  Ref: Haaretz