VIDEO: CBS 60 Minutes Exposing Israeli Apartheid

Palestinian brothers: Israel used us as human shields in Gaza war

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Human shield allegations Link to this video

Israel has been accused of using Palestinian human shields during its invasion of Gaza, a breach of the Geneva conventions that prohibit intentionally putting civilian lives at risk.The Guardian has interviewed three Gazan brothers who described how they were taken from their home at gunpoint, made to kneel in front of tanks to deter Hamas fighters from firing and sent by Israeli soldiers into Palestinian houses to clear them.

“They would make us go first, so if any fighters shot at them the bullets would hit us, not them,” said 14-year-old Al’a al-Attar.

His brothers, Ali, 15, and Nafiz, 16, described how when the three of them were being led through built-up areas in their home town of ­Attartra, the soldiers would order them to suddenly stop ‑ then fire their rifles over the brothers’ shoulders and between their legs.

The use of “human shields” is prohibited under article 28 of the fourth Geneva convention, which states: “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.” Israel has ratified the convention and is therefore bound by it.

An Israeli internal army magazine left behind by the troops shows Nafiz at the beginning of his ordeal being led bound and blindfolded in a line of men before he was stripped of his clothes.

Another article in the magazine’s online edition details a separate incident, titled: “For a week and a half they [Israeli soldiers]lived with a family of Palestinians whose home became their stronghold.” In it an officer talks openly of using the house as a base for operations while keeping the family in a downstairs room.

“At the top floor of the house we have established an improvised operational room and soldiers’ bedroom, we have opened firing positions and observation points in the three additional rooms,” the officer was quoted as saying. “In addition, we have established another guarding position on the entrance door of the family home.”

Though the officer claims the family stayed in the house out of choice, using their house as a base while civilians were on the premises could still be a violation of international law.

The Attar brothers’ ordeal began on 5 January when Israeli troops entered the town of Attartra, 1.2 miles (2km) from the border with Israel, and began firing into their house. They were led away blindfolded and at gunpoint in single file as the gunfire carried on around them. At one point the boys were forced to march in front of and alongside Israeli tanks.

They were then forced to kneel in a makeshift Israeli encampment for three days and three nights as tanks fired off shells around them. Human rights groups believe they were held there to deter Palestinian fighters from attacking.

“After being here for a day and a half, they put barbed wire around us, then empty tank shells kept landing on us, a rock or shrapnel came flying toward us. We spent a further three days here, right here,” said Nafiz.

After five days Ali and Al’a were untied, had their blindfolds removed and were released straight into a firefight. They came under attack from Israeli tanks and helicopters as they tried to find their way home through the ruins of their neighbourhood, the boys said.

Nafiz was not so lucky. He was taken to Israel where he was interrogated for three days and says he was beaten. Finally he was taken back into Gaza and released.

The boys’ parents, who are ardent supporters of Fatah ‑ Hamas’ political rivals ‑ cannot understand why they were taken.

The use of human shields was outlawed by Israel’s supreme court in 2005 following several clearly identified incidents, but human rights groups insist the Israeli military continues to use civilians in this way, albeit less often.

In February 2007, Associated Press Television News released footage showing 24-year-old Palestinian Sameh Amira being used as a human shield by a group of Israeli soldiers in Nablus.

The Israeli army declined to be interviewed about the practice but said it gave strict orders to soldiers not to use civilians as human shields during this operation. In a written statement, it said that only Hamas had used human shields by attacking troops from within civilian areas. Hamas denied the claim, saying it would not endanger the lives of other Palestinians, but surveillance footage provided by Israel appears to show this.

Ref: Guardian

Settlement data ‘implicates Israel’ + Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement (this is OLD news!!!)

A leaked report on Jewish settlements in the West Bank shows that the Israeli government was complicit in illegal construction on land owned by Palestinians, an Israeli human rights group says.

Yesh Din said on Friday that the classsified information, compiled by the Israeli defence ministry, would allow it to help Palestinians sue the Israeli government for damages.

Michael Sfard, Yesh Din’s legal counsel, said the information was a “severe indictment” of Israel’s military and government.

Israeli authorities are “systematically violating international law and the property rights of Palestinian residents,” he said in a statement.

The information leaked to the group shows that in three out of every four settlements in the West Bank at least some of the construction was completed without proper permits, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported.

The daily said the database showed that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure like roads, schools, synagogues, and even police stations was carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinians.

In one settlement, Elon Moreh, 18 houses were built on private land, the reports says. In another, Efrat, a park and a synagogue were built on privateland, and in a third, Ariel, a college was built without legal approval.

Yesh Din said it would begin running advertisments in Palestinian newspapers to encourage people to take legal action, and will also offer legal counsel, the statement from the group said.

The database focuses on the 120 West bank settlements that have been authorised by the Israeli government since it occupied the territory in 1967. About 100 other unauthorised outposts have also been established by settlers.

The settlements are illegal under international law and the so-called “road map” setting the course for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations calls for a halt to their expansion.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli government on the conclusions of the report.

Ref: Al Jazeera

Read more here “Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement”

A foreign army at the gate

Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert have no fundamental disagreements on policies of war, security or peace – issues that might influence the economy, education or social affairs. Furthermore (election rhetoric aside), Livni doesn’t differ significantly on these issues with the Ehud Barak of Shepherdstown and Camp David, or with the Benjamin Netanyahu who went to Wye Plantation and sent Ronald Lauder to Damascus.

The idea of the Greater Land of Israel lives on only in the political faction to the right of Likud. The leaders of the national majority, like their voters, have also accepted the idea of parting from Shuafat, Abu Dis and the Golan Heights.

The stumbling block that prevents Israel’s departure from the territories is not the demarcation of the final border between us and our neighbors. The only obstacle seen as impassable today on the way to an agreement is the security issue after the territories are vacated. As long as this dilemma has no answer that is convincing to most Israelis, no government, weak or strong, will be able to implement an agreement with our neighbors, even if it dares to sign one.
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The settlers and other adversaries of compromise and concessions, who were unable to prevent the pullouts from Sinai and the Gaza Strip, will not stand in the way of additional withdrawals either. This, if, as in the case of the evacuation of the Sinai in the early 80s and of Gaza in 2005, public opinion will stand behind the government. In its agreements with Egypt and Jordan, Israel found the answer to the post-withdrawal security issue in the image of Anwar Sadat and King Hussein. We believed not only in their sincerity, but mainly in their ability to keep their promises. Perhaps this situation will recur vis-a-vis Syria.

But who on the Palestinian side, even assuming their intentions are good, has the means to ensure, or enforce, security?

Unlike the cases of Egypt, Jordan and possibly Syria, the solution with the Palestinians cannot depend on them and Israel alone. Neither of us are capable of pulling it off. The solution could be an international force that would take the place of the Israel Defense Forces in the territories as an integral and binding part of a peace agreement.

It need not be a large army, or one similar to the foreign armies we’ve seen in the region since the state’s establishment. Those, including the force in southern Lebanon after the Second Lebanon War, were never more than observers. This would be a combat-ready army, whose mission would be to enforce security.

This is not difficult. The West Bank is tiny, not a Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq, and is neither marshland nor forest. There is little doubt that most Palestinian people, as well as the government in Ramallah, would accept such an army willingly, if not enthusiastically. The Gaza Strip is a different story, and some arm-twisting would be required, not on the people but certainly on Hamas.

Such a force cannot be established without Israel’s agreement. Israel would of course demand as part of that agreement, and would undoubtedly receive, close cooperation with the international force, first and foremost in matters of intelligence and counterterrorism. The foreign force should be here temporarily, its task will include helping to set up an effective Palestinian administration and Palestinian security forces who would eventually serve as a reliable counterterrorist force. All this will ultimately allow for the departure of the foreign army from the West Bank without Israel’s security being endangered.

The question is, who will take on this mission? The Americans are the most suitable party. A fraction of their army posted in Iraq could handle the task. But it’s hard to believe that the president of the United States, whoever he will be, would agree to this, due to domestic policy considerations. Perhaps, however, he would agree to help others.

The problem is not where to find soldiers for the job. Many would volunteer for it. For example, several East European countries may step up, because of both domestic and prestige considerations. Perhaps Turkey, which is interested in keeping its backyard quiet, could also be taken into consideration.The more important questions are who would define the force’s mission, stand behind it politically, and perhaps even finance it.

At this moment the European Union appears to be the only option. The EU, under French and German leadership, could be persuaded to accept the responsibility, but with a few conditions. One, that most of the soldiers are not from its own ranks, especially not from the German army. Also, the initiative must be carried out with American coordination and perhaps even cooperation, and subsequently with NATO’s seal of approval, too. It must also be supported by the Arab League, led by Saudi Arabia, and receive Egypt and Jordan’s active cooperation. Above all, not only must the initiative be supported by the Palestinian government and even more so by Israel, these two must broach it with the Europeans.

All four conditions depend to a large extent on Israel. Granted, such an initiative would be revolutionary for Israel. But it’s time the government freed itself from the rigid mindset that a solution can be concocted by us and our neighbors alone, with no foreign participation. The reality is that this attitude has long been obsolete.

Ref: Haaretz, By Avi Primor

The writer is director of the Trilateral Center for European Studies at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and former Israeli ambassador to the European Union and to Germany.