Rewarding Israel’s criminal behaviour (Israel is no liberal Western-style democracy, it is an ethnocracy with a racist agenda)

Israel is no liberal Western-style democracy, it is an ethnocracy with a racist agenda.

By Stuart Littlewood

Members of the European Parliament recently took a critical view of proposals to upgrade the EU-Israel Association Agreement and put down amendments designed to toughen up the conditions. “It’s time for the Israeli government to stop considering itself above the law and start respecting it,” warned Luisa Morgantini, the Parliament’s vice-president.

As a result, the vote was postponed – “a political stunt”, said the frustrated Israel lobby. In the meantime, all 27 EU ministers voted unanimously to approve the upgrade. However, it is not a done deal just yet. The EU Parliament still has to vote on this.

Most citizens, myself included, are baffled by the way the EU operates. One thing is certain: it has little to do with democracy. I seem to remember that when they voted in 2002 to suspend the EU-Israel Agreement on account of Israel’s continual violation of human rights, they were ignored by the Commission and Council of Ministers – that’s Western democracy for you.

* Meet Israel’s European friends

Why would anyone in Europe think it a good idea to reward Israel’s disregard for international law and common decency? One of the MEPs in my region in England, a Conservative Friend of Israel, explained his position:

I have been closely following recent developments in the Middle East… I believe there is significant benefit in closer economic and commercial ties between the EU and the only functioning and embedded democracy in the Middle East. I have great sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians … but, in my view, the state of Israel has been placed in an impossible position by the continuation of terrorist attacks mounted from Gaza. The motive behind the Israeli restrictions was a refusal to tolerate unending and increasing attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups… I wish to see a two-state solution with an essentially Jewish state of Israel at peace with an essentially Palestinian neighbour, which is free from thuggery and terrorism, and where democracy and social and economic well-being can flourish.

Another, also Conservative, wrote in similar vein:

I am familiar with the situation in Israel and the occupied territories as well as the suffering of many innocent Palestinian caught up in the maelstrom of the terrorist actions of Hamas and the Israeli counter attacks… The Conservatives are opposed to any new settlement building in the occupied territories yet I support an enhanced agreement with Israel, because Israel, as a democratic government, is very similar to Britain. They hold free and fair elections, have a free press, healthy and lively public debate, an independent judiciary and uphold the rule of law. Because of these values Israel finds itself at the front line fighting the existential threat of Islamists.

Note the way the situation is redefined to make Israel smell good: Hamas the terrorist, Israel only responding, Israel imposing “restrictions” (when in truth it’s a full-blown blockade all the way down to shelling Gazan fishing boats), wishing to see a Palestinian neighbour “free from thuggery” (that’s funny coming from people who admire and support an apartheid state, the plain-language description of Israel by the president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto, and many, many others).

Yet another Conservative MEP the other side of the country sent out the same distorted framing of the situation, which we can assume is “standard issue” in the Conservative Party. He too was “very familiar with the situation in Israel and the occupied territories”, adding that the separation barrier had “considerably reduced the ability of human bombers to cross over and kill innocent Israeli civilians who are still subject to Hamas rockets launched from Gaza”.

It angers me that these MEPs claim to know everything but actually know only the nonsense they are spoon-fed. Israel is no liberal Western-style democracy, it is an ethnocracy with a racist agenda. I am deeply offended to be told by such ignorant people that we in Britain share its values. And when I recently asked a newspaperman in Jerusalem if the Israeli press was free he laughed in my face. Most of the time Israel bars journalists, and even medics, from entering Gaza to witness and report.

Upholding the rule of law? Maybe for Jews. Some 9,000 Palestinians, including women and children, abducted from their homes, are banged up in Israeli prisons, many without charge or trial. There are several reports, even by Israeli organizations such B’Tselem, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Centre for the Defence of the Individual, drawing attention to Israel’s torture and medical neglect of prisoners and detainees.

When the Palestinians exercised their democratic right in free and fair elections in 2006, Israel and Western leaders rejected their choice and resolved to destroy their embryonic democracy and bring Palestinian civil society to its knees in an orgy of vicious collective punishment. As for the Hamas government now confined to Gaza, does it not have a perfect right under international law to take up arms (the same right the Israeli government pretends is exclusively its own) to defend its people against the brutal oppression of an illegal invader and occupier?

As for terrorists, anyone who has been to the Holy Land knows who they are.

How come the EU finds it so difficult to uphold justice in the Middle East? Meet the European Friends of Israel (EFI). And what does the EFI do? Its purpose includes:

At the core of EFI’s work, says the website, is a belief that Israel deserves better recognition of the cultural and democratic bonds that it shares with the EU. EFI’s objective is to “improve and help foster an environment in which Israel’s commercial interests are enhanced. Our aim is to increase the number of Europeans who share this belief and encourage them to take individual political action.

In signing up to support such a lawless foreign power, how can our politicians possibly conform to the Principles of Public Life, in particular the Principle of Integrity, which lays down that holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organizations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties?

And have they bothered to read and understand the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which they are pledged to observe and promote?

EFI, as you might expect, is economical with the truth. It says that Israel didn’t really want to build the Wall and resisted doing so for more than 35 years, but “was forced to act… It is important to stress, as repeatedly mentioned by Israeli officials, that the fence is not political, and is not a border.”

On the contrary, the Wall has been instrumental in Israel’s seizure of more than 38 per cent of the West Bank, including prime agricultural land and strategic water resources. These areas are now off-limits to Palestinians. Eighty per cent of the West Bank’s precious water is diverted to illegal settlers while Palestinians are strictly rationed or go without. If it is simply a security fence, then why wasn’t it built within Israel’s recognized border?

* Is an Israeli life more precious than a Palestinian life?

Another EFI gem was this statement after 27 months of siege:

Faced with unremitting rocket attacks from Gaza (4,000 rocket and mortar attacks on its civilians since the Jewish state dismantled every settlement and removed every settler from Gaza in 2005), the government of Israel has shown great restraint as it takes action to defend its citizens, the right and the prime obligation of any nation.

We hear the non-stop mantra about home-made rockets “raining down” on Sderot (although only 1 in 500 causes a fatality) but nothing of the countless thousands of Israeli bombs, missiles, grenades and tank shells that are blasted into Gaza’s tight-packed humanity. And nothing about how Israel still occupies Gaza’s airspace and coastal waters and all the Strip’s entries and exits.

EFI urges the freeing of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and “wants to keep awakening the conscience of the world, to display to Gilad’s family that Europe has not abandoned their son”. But it shows no such concern for the 6,500 children arrested by the Israeli army in the last eight years, usually after bursting into their homes between midnight and 4 a.m., and the use of handcuffs, blindfolds and leg shackles on these youngsters. They are held for up to 90 days, incommunicado and without access to a lawyer.

Nor do they urge the freeing of the 30-odd Palestinian MPs and legislators kidnapped and still under “administrative detention”.

So where is the balance expected of our EU legislators and decision-makers? Sad though it is, the Shalit story needs to be seen in context. To Palestinians, this is just another trained killer in Israel’s occupation force. How many women and children had his tank blown to smithereens? How many homes had it reduced to rubble? How much infrastructure, probably paid for by European taxpayers, had it wrecked?

Why aren’t the same powerful voices speaking up for the sons of Palestinians snatched from their homes and locked up in Israeli jails? In the Holy Land struggle eight Palestinians die for every Israeli. When it comes to children, the kill-rate is 11 to 1. Is an Israeli life deemed more precious that a Palestinian life?

I am greatly encouraged by the news that a group of human rights lawyers has now filed charges of crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court against Israel and its leaders – Olmert, Barak, Vilnai, Dichter and Ashkenazi. Their bloodstained hands have no doubt been eagerly clasped by their many “friends” in Brussels.

Ref: Al Jazeera
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation

Monocultures, multinationals and murders – ‘No unions, no strikes’

The Cavite Export Processing Zone in Rosario, 30km south of Manila, is the country’s most important free zone, with 10,000 workers and 250 businesses (clothing, electronics) in a huge area surrounded by a concrete wall topped with barbed wire. Visitors have to show their credentials to armed guards at a checkpoint.
On the evening of 10 June 2007, nine men armed with crowbars and knives passed through the checkpoint without showing any ID. None of the guards intervened when they attacked (…)

Ref: Le Monde

60 years since Al Nakba rememberance (may)

• May 2008: Portland, Oregon
Metro Area 40/60 Commemorations: Sixtieth Anniversary of Al-Nakba.
Demonstrations, speaking events, and teach-ins throughout the month.

• 1 May, Harvard University, USA
*Film Screening: “La Terre Parle Arabe”; Discussion with Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh*
Starr Auditorium, When: 4:00pm-6:30pm
Contact: Abdelnasser Rashid,

• 1 May, Harvard University, USA
*Screening of Occupation 101 and discussion led by Prof Hamid Dabashi*
7pm at 614 Schermerhorn Hall
Contact: Abdelnasser Rashid,

• 2 May, Harvard University, USA
*Candlelight Vigil*
5:00pm — 6:00pm, Contact: Abdelnasser Rashid,

• 2 May, Harvard University, USA
*Palestinian Cultural Night (evening of food, music, dance, poetry, and celebrating life)*
6-8pm, Ticknor Lounge, Boylston Hall, Harvard FAS
Contact: Abdelnasser Rashid,

• 3 May: Ramallah/Khan Younis, Palestine
2008 Al-Awda Award Festival
Festive celebration of the winners of the Second Al-Awda Award, featuring Al-Funun Al-Sha’biyyah Folk Arts Troupe. Event includes Poster Gallery for this year’s best poster submissions.
Contact: For more information, visit

• 2-4 May, Montreal, Canada
Bridge of Return: 10th Anniversary Conference of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights
More information at , register at

• 4–6 May: Various cities, Scotland
Mike Marqusee Book Launch and Speaking Tour: “Journeys of an Anti-Zionist Jew”
4 May: 3:00 p.m., Duff Memorial Hall, Busby
5 May: 7:00 p.m., Lecture Theatre 175, Old College, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh
6 May: 7:30 p.m., Room 513, Lecture Theatre D, Boyd Orr Building, Glasgow
For more information, visit
• 4-8 May, Cairo, Egypt
Commemorating 60 years of Nakba: Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Future

Week of events including:
4 May: Cultural Expressions of the Nakba at Cairo University
Poetry by Tamim Al-Barghouti and Zenat Abu Shaweesh as well as Dabke Performance
4 May: Photography Exhibition at Sawy (Word 2)
Exhibition ongoing throughout the week
5 May: Emile Haddad: Narratives of Palestine, at Geneina Theatre
6 May: Discussion Forum at American University of Cairo
6 May: Cultural Expressions of the Nakba at Sawy (Word 2)
Poetry by Tamim Al-Barghouti and Zenat Abu Shaweesh as well as Dabke Performance
7 May: Palestinian Narratives in Popular Culture at FCC
Film Screening of Bab El-Shams (pt.2), discussion with director Youssry Nasrallah

• 6–14 May: All refugee camps, Lebanon
Nakba and Right of Return Amateur Documentary Film Festival
6 May: Burj Al-Shamali Refugee Camp
8 May: Ein Al-Hilweh Refugee Camp
10 May: Burj Al-Barajneh Refugee Camp
12 May: Baddawi Refugee Camp
14 May: Jalil/Baalbek Refugee Camp

• 7-11 May, Various Cities, Palestine
Palestine Festival of Literature: Writers from Around the World Visit Palestine
Featuring: Mourid Barghouti, Victoria Brittain, William Dalrymple, Roddy Doyle, Esther Freud, Suheir Hammad, Nathalie Handal, David Hare, Ian Jack, Brigid Keenan, Jamal Mahjoub, Claire Messud, Andrew O’Hagan, Hanan Al-Shaykh, Ahdaf Soueif
7 May: 6:30pm, Dar Al-Tifl Museum, Jerusalem
8 May: 7:00pm, Al-Kasabah Theatre and Cinema, Ramallah
9 May: 1:00pm, Freedom Theatre, Jenin
9 May: 7:00pm, Dar Al-Nadwa, Bethlehem – Featuring El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Arts Troupe
10 May: 6:30pm, Dar Al-Nadwa, Bethlehem
11 May: 7:00pm, Palestinian National Theatre, Jerusalem – Featuring: the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music
All Events are free. More at:

8 May: Israel’s Independence Day (Hebrew calendar) – Day of the Palestinian Nakba

• 8 May: Nazareth/Saffuryya, Palestine

11th Annual Return March
Yearly demonstration calling for the Right of Return organised by internally displaced Palestinians within the Israeli state and taking place on the day that Israel marks its independence according to the Hebrew Calendar. This year, the demonstration will leave at 3:00 p.m. from the western entrance of the city of Nazareth toward the destroyed town of Safuryya.
Organised by the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced.

• 8–10 May: London, UK
Ila Haifa: an adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s Returning to Haifa by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and al-Zaytouna Dabka Group. Visit:
• 8 May: Toronto, Canada
Nakba-60 Press Conference
Nakba survivors recount their experiences. Speakers include Palestinian refugees and community supporters. Organised by Palestine House,

• 8 May: Vienna, Austria
Jewish Voice for Just Peace in the Middle East (Austria) commemorates the Nakba, the forced displacement of the Palestinians by the Haganah, 1948
6:30 p.m. at the Afro-Asiatisches Institut, Tuerkenstr. 3, 1090 Vienna

• 8 May: Giffnock, Scotland
Protest Celebrations of Ethnic Cleansing
6:00 p.m. at main entrance to Eastwood Park, Giffnock. Contact:

• 9 May: Toronto, Canada
Anti-Apartheid Picket of Chapters/Indigo Bookstore
The majority owners of Chapters-Indigo founded “Heseg,” a scholarship program for individuals who want to join the Israeli military. Meet at 5:00 p.m. at Bay and Bloor. For more information, visit

• 9 May: Giffnock, Scotland
Dinner Commemorating Nakba-60
Premier of Occupation 101, poetry, dabkeh, featuring members of the Scottish Parliament: Nicola Sturgeon, Pauline McNeil, Sandra White, and Hugh O’Donnell.

• 10 May, Seattle, USA
*Celebrate – 60 Years of Resistance*
12-4pm, Broadway and E Pine
Sponsor(s): Solidarity Committee-Seattle, Al-Nakba Coalition
Contact Judith:, 206 282 8023

• 10 May: Tulkarem, Palestine
Nakba 60 Art Exhibit and Human Chain

• 10 May: Toronto, Canada
March and Rally Commemorating 60 Years of Nakba – Palestinian Refugees Will Return!
1:00 p.m., Queens Park, Toronto
For more information, visit;

• 10 May: London, UK
National Demonstration in central London to commemorate the Nakba and the continuing dispossession and denial of Palestinian rights:

• 10 May, Turin, Italy
National Mass Demonstration for Palestine

• 11 May: Toronto, Canada
Film Screening of 1948 by Mohammad Bakri
A profound and deeply moving record of the Nakba by Palestinian film-maker Mohammad Bakri. 7:00 p.m. (venue to be announced). For more information, visit

• 12–24 May: Madrid, Spain
Popular Festival: Palestine, 60 Years of Exile; Iraq, 5 Years of War
Musical, theatrical, cultural, and educational events featuring Rene Aquarone, Azmi Bishara, Leila Khaled, Jaber Suleiman, Teresa Aranguren, Rafael Escudero, Hana Al-Bayati, and many more.
For more information, visit

• 12 May: Tubas, Palestine
Intergenerational Dialogue and Discussion on the Nakba and the Right of Return

• 13 May, Victoria (BC), Canada
*Screening of Ilan Pappe talk ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’*
7pm, BCGEU hall v5h2l9
Organized by CAIA-Victoria. [Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid],
contactGeorge Mc Fetridge,

• 14–15 May: Jakarta, Indonesia
Freedom and the Right of Return: Palestine and 60 Years of Ethnic Cleansing. International Conference, for more information, visit

15 May: NAKBA Commemoration Day

Public rallies and events in all major Palestinian cities and worldwide; A Minute of Silence in Palestine and Beyond, Global Day of Action of the World Social Forum; Zochrot’s Nakba 60 Project – Rebuilding the Map of Palestine (; Release and Public Presentation of 100 Terms on the Nakba (

• 15 May, Michigan, USA
*Screening of “Deir Yassin” *
7pm, Pond Room 530 , MI 48104
Organized by Film Society, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality
(SAFE), Detroit-Ann Arbor SABEEL, contact Shirley Zempel:

• 15 May: Tubas, Palestine
District-wide Nakba Commemoration Festival; Re-creation of a destroyed village; Intergenerational dialogue and discussion. Contact

• 15 May: Qalqilya, Palestine
Mass Demonstration and Athletics Tournament

• 12-15 May: Ramallah, Palestine (Central Commemoration Events)
Set up al-Awda Camp near al-Hamra Palace with exhibit and names of 536 destroyed villages.
12–14 May: Popular Arts Competitions (dabkeh, zajal, poetry, etc.) with participants representing Qaddura, Am’ari, Silwad, Jalazon, Shu’fat, and Qalandia camps as well as Dar Al-Mu’alimin (Teachers’ Academy); Arts and Heritage Festival at the Awda Camp
12–15 May: Documentary and Film Screenings at Al-Awda Camp
15 May: Main Mass Demonstration: 12:00 noon: work and traffic stoppage; 12:05 p.m.: mass demonstration leaves al-Awda Camp to Manara Square along Irsal Street; 1:00 p.m. rally at Manara Square.
15 May: “Justice is the Key To Tomorrow” Flying 21,915 balloons (1 for each day since the Nakba) carrying messages from Palestinian children expressing their hopes for the future (Simultaneous in Rome, Italy and other cities around the world)

• 15 May: All refugee camps, Lebanon
“Homes of Return” Candle-Lighting Ceremonies, Human Chain Activities

• 15 May: Toronto, Canada
Palestinian Hip-Hop Show, featuring DAM!, Invincible and a B-Boy battle.
Straight from 1948 Palestine. All ages show. Organised by Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. Tickets are $15 and are available at: Toronto Women’s Bookstore, 73 Harbord Street. For more information, visit

• 15 May, Rome, Italy
Finding Palestine
Painting exhibits by Hazem Hrab, Gaza; Isis Rsik, Nazareth; “Dunum, Palestinian Land” Photos by Luca Tommasini National Premiere of “Jerusalem East Side story” a film by Mohammad Alatar Screening of “the Iron Wall” a film by Mohammad Alatar Public Forum featuring Mohammad Alatar, Samir Al Quariuty, Sabri Atiyeh, Luisa Morgantini, Mjriam Abu Samra (“Wael Zuaiter” Palestinian Youth Association), Teresa Maisano Dabka performance and Palestinian fashion show by the Palestinian stylist Jamal Taslaq
Public Forum: “Palestinians: the tragedy to be victims of the victims”

• 15 May: Melbourne, Australia
Candlelight Vigil: Remembering 60 Years of Dispossession and Displacement
4:30–6:30 p.m., State Library of Victoria.
7:30–9:30 p.m. Film Screening: Jerusalem: East Side Story and others, RMIT Capitol Theatre.
For more information, visit

• 15–18 May: Various cities, Netherlands
Symphony Arabica by Merlijn Twaalfhoven
A symphony performed by over 200 professional musicians, amateurs, and children from the Middle East and the Netherlands
15 May: 8:30 p.m., Big Hall of the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam
16 May: 8:30 p.m., Laurenskerk, Rotterdam
17 May: 8:30 p.m., Grote Kerk, Den Haag
18 May: 4:30 p.m., Dom Kerk, Utrecht
For more information, visit

• 16–18 May: Anaheim, California
Sixth Al-Awda Annual Convention
Featuring Bishop Atallah Hanna, Supreme Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al Tamimi, Salman Abu Sitta, Dr. Adel Samara, Dr. Ilan Pappe, George Bisharat, Ghada Karmi, Dr. Saree Makdisi, and others. For more information, visit:

• 16 May: West Bank, Palestine
Rallies and Marches to the Apartheid Wall organised by

• 16 May: Second Annual Al-Awda Athletics Tournament
Organised by Am’ari Camp youth committee. Contact:; tel: +972-559-255-584; or

• 16 May: New York City, USA
Commemorating the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe)
Dag Hammarskjöld Park
For more information, contact:

• 16 May: All refugee camps, Lebanon
Children’s Activities: Kite-Flying, Children’s Songs, and Festivals

• 16 May: Melbourne, Australia
Public Lecture by Ali Abunimah (of Electronic Intifada)
6:30 p.m., University of Melbourne. For more information, visit

• 17May, Denver, Colorado, USA
*Remember al-Nakba: 60 Years Later*
11am-3pm, West Lawn Capitol & 14^th
Organized by Friends of , Progressive Jewish News, Rocky, contact Joy
Lapp,, 303-494-2338

• 17 May: Belgium
Nakba-60 Day of Action in Belgium

• 17 May: Toronto, Canada
Youth Day – Popular education workshop on Palestine
An exciting and fun introduction to Palestine for youth! Run by the New York–based Palestine Education Project (PEP). Organised by High Schools Against Israeli Apartheid,

• 17–18 May: Melbourne, Australia
Exhibition of Remembrance

9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.: Rich Wiles’s “Portraits of Palestine,” Dora McPhee Paintings, Children’s Photos from Lajee Centre, Aida Refugee Camp, and much more, Fitzroy Town Hall. For more information, visit

• 18 May: Rashidiyah Refugee Camp (Tyre), Lebanon
Children’s Activity Day

• 18 May: Adelaide, Australia
Nakba Commemoration Dinner Featuring Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada)
7:00 p.m. Contact:

• 20–26 May: Tripoli, Lebanon
Our Home: Near and Far Theatrical Presentation and Nahr El Bared Destruction and Reconstruction Children’s Photo and Writing Exhibit
Al-Madina Theatre

• 21 May, New York, USA
*May 1948 – A New State for Israelis, A Nakba (Catastrophe) for Palestinians*
7pm, Brooklyn Friends Meeting House, 110 Schermerhorn,
Contact Naomi Allen:

• 23 May: Beirut, Lebanon
Palestinian and Lebanese Children’s Marionette Show
Duwwar Al-Shams Circle Theatre

• 25 May: Qalqilya, Palestine
Nakba 60 Forum and Discussion

• 24–25 May: Portland, Oregon
Nakba Commemoration Public Forum
Keynote Speaker: Prof. George Bisharat, UC Hastings College of Law, Portland, Oregon.

• 26–30 May: Toronto, Canada
“Workers’ Rights under Occupation” at the Canadian Labour Congress convention
Forum with Palestinian and Haitian trade unionists (details to be announced). Organised by Labour for Palestine and Toronto Haiti Action Committee

• 27 May: Qalqilya, Palestine
Photo and Heritage Exhibition

• 29 May, Ottawa, Canada
*Right of Return Conference : Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba*
8:00AM — 5PM: University of Ottawa, Montpetit Bldg, 125 University Street, Room 203
Featuring: Nahla Abdo (Carlton University), Rex Brynen (McGill University), Michael Lynk (University of Western Ontario), Terry Rempel (BADIL Resource Centre), Jaber Suleiman (independent researcher, Lebanon), and Hanan Ashrawi (via live stream). All proceeds will go towards CEPAL’s 2008 volunteer Summer Program in Lebanon.
REGISTRATION FEE: $50 Students, $75 General
For more visit:, or contact

• 30 May–1 June: Toronto, Canada
“Brick By Brick” National Conference
National workshop for labour activists and trade unionists on building labour solidarity with Palestine. To register, contact Labour for Palestine,

Ref: Badil

Final Footage Of Reuters Journalist Killed By IDF Shell

Israeli Soldiers Shoot at Palestinian Journalist

In Gaza, how mother and four kids were killed is in dispute

JERUSALEM – A Palestinian mother and her four young children were killed in the Gaza Strip on Monday during an Israeli operation against militants. A dispute quickly arose over how they had died.

The Israelis said they shot a missile from the air that hit two men carrying explosives that blew apart the family’s house behind them. Palestinian witnesses said they believed an Israeli tank shell hit the small house, killing the five as they were eating breakfast. Two children from the family were badly wounded.

The killings prompted vows of revenge and seemed likely to further complicate Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire between Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules Gaza, and Israel. Shortly afterward, seven rockets and nine mortar shells were fired at southern Israel from Gaza. No one there was injured, although a building was damaged.

Outside the house of the Abu Maatak family in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, pots, children’s clothes and shoes lay scattered on the ground, a scene shown repeatedly on Palestinian and other Arab television channels along with photos of the swathed dead bodies, including that of a baby, lying in a Gaza morgue.

The dead were named by relatives as sisters Rudayna and Hana Abu Maatak, ages 6 and 3; their brothers Saleh, 4, and Mousad, 15 months, and their mother Miyasar, the youngest of three wives of Ahmed Abu Maatak, 70, who said he had gone to the market when the missile hit.

Palestinian officials said that several Israeli tanks, armored vehicles and bulldozers backed by helicopters stormed Beit Hanoun early Monday. Militant groups said in separate leaflets sent to reporters that they confronted the Israeli forces with bombs and grenades, adding that Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants exchanged fire.

Maj. Avital Leibovich, chief spokeswoman of the Israeli military for the foreign press, said that while the army was still investigating, an initial inquiry into the events showed that several Israeli armored personnel carriers had entered the area of Beit Hanoun in what she described as a routine search for rocket launchers, snipers and terrorists.

Two heavily armed men approached the Israelis, she said, leading an Israeli aircraft to shoot a missile at them, killing them. On their backs, she said, were rucksacks with apparently large amounts of explosives, which caused the nearby house to tumble and kill those inside.

Maj. Avital Leibovich, chief spokeswoman of the Israeli military for the foreign press, said that while the army was still investigating, an initial inquiry into the events showed that several Israeli armored personnel carriers had entered the area of Beit Hanoun in what she described as a routine search for rocket launchers, snipers and terrorists.

Two heavily armed men approached the Israelis, she said, leading an Israeli aircraft to shoot a missile at them, killing them. On their backs, she said, were rucksacks with apparently large amounts of explosives, which caused the nearby house to tumble and kill those inside.

Ref: Star Tribune

ANALYSIS / Hurry up and shoot before the cease-fire

The Israel Defense Forces avoided accepting any form of responsibility for the death of Miyasar Abu Muatak and her four young children in a shanty neighborhood of Beit Hanun Monday. According to the army’s version, the mother and children were not killed by two missiles fired from an aircraft, as the Palestinians maintain, but as a result of “secondary explosions.” The missiles were aimed at two Islamic Jihad militants that had been identified carrying large bags, which are believed to have included explosive devices. As a result of the blast, the shed which was the family’s home was destroyed. Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not bother with the details. As far as he was concerned, he said Monday, only Hamas – whose gunmen operate among civilians – are responsible for the death of “uninvolved civilians.”

The Israeli version relies on descriptions by Givati Brigade officers, who called in the aircraft, and on photos of the damage. Also important is the type of munitions that Israel has deployed in recent years in the Gaza Strip. They are lethal, but more precise, so their collateral damage is relatively limited. The damage evident at the site of the killing is much more like that caused by the detonation of a large explosive device.

It is hard to imagine that the army, after seven and a half years of the second intifada, does not appreciate the need to immediately respond in the media. Most likely is that photos, if it has them, do not provide unequivocal evidence to boost the IDF’s claims.

It is also doubtful whether the release of photographs will make a difference. The Hamas media warned Monday of an Israeli “campaign to exterminate the Palestinian people.” The scenes from Beit Hanun offered perfect proof as far as the radical Islamic group is concerned. The foreign media, who only emerge from their slumber after scenes like this, are also certain who is responsible for the killing of women and children: Israel.

Even if the Palestinian version is debatable, there have been plenty of precedents in the Strip: from the killing of the seven members of the Ghalia family on the Gaza beach in June 2006 (responsibility for which Israel denied), to the artillery barrage that killed 19 civilians in Beit Hanun in November that year.

Nonetheless, it is not at all certain that Monday’s killing will affect the cease-fire negotiations. The Hamas political leadership is very keen to achieve a hudna, a cease-fire, even though the group’s military wing has reservations. It is possible that Hamas will make do with the Qassam barrages it fired Monday as the appropriate Palestinian response to the incident. Its real test will be its ability to impose its will on the smaller factions, and Tuesday will be critical in signaling which way the situation may go. Representatives of Hamas and the smaller Palestinian factions are scheduled to meet in Cairo with representatives of Egyptian intelligence.

For the time being the IDF is behaving as if there is no hudna on the horizon. The attacks inside the Strip continue as usual, based on the argument that a cease-fire is not effective and the “ticking bombs” – imminent terrorist attacks – are still ticking. Intelligence seems to back this position. But from a diplomatic point of view, it is difficult to comprehend Israel’s stance: Even if a cease-fire collapses, as the senior officers argue, why not allow the Palestinians to be the ones who break it?

Israel was drawn into a hudna after Egyptian pressure and the government’s concerns that a major ground operation in Gaza would result in heavy IDF casualties. But the government is not pleased with the idea of a cease-fire: It seems there is a zero-sum game mentality dominating the political leadership. After all, they argue, if Hamas is so desperate for a cease-fire, it can’t be a good thing for Israel. Khaled Meshal, the head of the Hamas politburo in Damascus, did nothing to assuage Israel’s concerns on Sunday, when he declared that any cease-fire will be a temporary hiatus in the fighting, which will allow Hamas to strengthen its ranks for the next confrontation. It is therefore no wonder that the IDF is pushing to carry out as many strikes as possible before a cease-fire

Ref: Haartez

PICT: Israel the colonial virtous killing machine – WARNING!!!

GAZA 2008-09

Some israelis watching the “entertainment” of Israeli Shoah!

And in the ghetto…

More gazan death here…