Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

Funeral in Gaza City

GAZA, TWO MONTHS AFTER THE ASSASSINATION: Two months with Vittorio Arrigoni

By Michele Giorgio
in Gaza City (from il manifesto, 15 June 2011) www.ilmanifesto.it
translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo

“Children will be playing in these spaces, we have renovated the bathroom and the kitchen will be here,” Saber Zanin moves quickly from one  room to another in the “Forsan al Ghad for Youth Association” of Beit Hanoun.

Just a short time before, he led a demonstration of about thirty Western volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) at the margins of the “buffer zone”, the most fertile agricultural lands of Gaza.

It is in those areas where “for security reasons” the Israeli army does not allow Palestinians to gain access, not even those who own property there. It is a measure that is accompanied by the fire of automatic weapons against whoever dares to violate that prohibition that has brought starvation  to hundreds of families who live by means of family farming. “Vittorio struggled with us. We have had so many marches along the buffer zone together, he was a brother to me,” Saber muses, showing us some photos of Vittorio that had been taken in recent months on his laptop. Today in memory of the Italian activist that was kidnapped and killed two months ago in Gaza, the summer camp “Stay Human, Restiamo Umani” will have its inauguration. “We will welcome 60 children and teens between 6 and 16 years of age,” Saber explains, “and in addition to them being able to play and have fun, they will also learn about the political and human story of Vittorio. Not only that, they will learn principles of humanitarian rights, preparing them to follow in the footsteps of our fallen brother.” Sponsoring the summer camp are a dozen or so Italian NGOs that work in the Gaza Strip. Saber has the possibility of making a dream come true. “Vittorio protected Palestinian children, he would be happy that this initiative is being dedicated to him.”

Two months without Vik. On the contrary, two months always with Vik because in Gaza, friends and comrades haven’t forgotten him. His words  are like stones, his image is part of the collective memory. Daniela Riva, a volunteer in the GVC of Bologna spent the last several years in the Strip,  working on development projects. Vittorio was a close friend of hers. “When I used to break down in front of whoever could not understand my involvement with Gaza,” Daniela says, “Vik would repeat to me that I had to answer that being involved in a struggle for justice and freedom means being alive, is there anything worth living or dying for that has more value than that?… when months ago (the shootings from Israeli soldiers) a farmer was killed, one who I’d only met with a few minutes prior, Vittorio told me to try hard to cry no tears at that funeral, but to keep my head held high. One does not cry for martyrs. I did it. I tried to do the same at his funeral too, but the tears fell despite my efforts…”

Memories, intense moments of emotion for a young man whose life was taken at only 36 years of age, who with honesty and constancy, through  the Internet, had for years sent out daily information on Gaza under the Israeli siege.  Not omitting the economic or social aspects of the situation. News that yesterday had once more been confirmed. An UNRWA report records that in the second half of 2010 the unemployment rate of Gaza is at 45.2%, one of the world’s highest. On the other hand, the level of salaries keeps sinking. “This is an alarming trend,” the spokesman of the UNRWA Chris Gunness says. “It is difficult to understand the logic of a policy that was carefully planned (by Israel, author’s note) to deliberately impoverish and that has condemned hundreds of thousands of persons to a life of abject misery. If the purpose of the policy of the closure of Gaza  was to weaken Hamas,” he continues, “these numbers show that they have failed, while at the same time there has been massive success in punishing whoever can be counted among the poorest of the poor in the Middle East.”

Vittorio’s parents, his sister, his friends, everyone who knew him personally or who had met him through Internet, those who had listened  intently while he spoke in tours throughout Italy, all of them are impatiently waiting to know the truth about his assassination. That moment could be near. Authoritative sources of the Ministry of Justice and of the Security Services of the Hamas government – who have asked to remain anonymous – have told il manifesto that the Military Court will issue an official communiqué at the end of June on the course of the investigations and it will bring to trial at least two persons involved in various levels in the kidnapping and assassination of Vittorio. One of these is Mahmoud al Salfiti, the only survivor of the three members of the self-proclaimed Salafite cell (who had left the Tawhid wal Jihad group) responsible for the kidnapping. The other two, the Jordanian Abdel Rahman Breizat and Bilal Omari were killed in the armed clash at Nuseriat with a special forces team of Hamas several days after the having killed the Italian activist.

Sources of the Ministry of Justice have explained that the investigations that had closed in mid-May had been reopened following another two failed kidnap attempts of two young American citizens: a cooperation worker (long-time resident in the Strip) and an activist of the ISM (the latter near the “Gallery”, the coffeehouse that Vittorio frequented along with various local and international activists). The mind behind the kidnapping was the Jordanian Breizat, who had prepared the plan about a month and a half earlier, using the help of various inhabitants of Gaza who were close to Vittorio, most of them unaware of his intentions. At the start, the sources add, the plan didn’t include the killing of the Italian. However, when the kidnappers were aware that they would have been discovered in a matter of hours, they decided to make a run for it and cover their tracks. It was Breizat who had killed Vittorio, because he was convinced that by leaving the kidnapped man alive they would have been discovered immediately (Vik personally knew at least two of the kidnappers, in particular Bilal Omari, who went to the same gym he frequented in Gaza City).

For the confirmation of this information, there is nothing to do but await the start of the trial. In that moment the acts can be consulted and we can finally know the declarations made during the interrogations of the accused parties. In the meantime, mystery reigns over the eight objects  belonging to Vittorio that disappeared after the kidnapping, in particular, his laptop. The Hamas authorities have referred in an earlier moment that they had been recovered and were being held at the central command of the Police. Now, they deny this.

Écrit par Pasquale Navarra pour Forum Palestina (traduit en français par Wassyla-Heyett). 

Les causes et la dynamique de l’enlèvement et l’assassinat de Vittorio Arrigoni, activiste et correspondant du Mouvement international de solidarité avec la Palestine dans la bande de Gaza, sont pour le moment en cours de reconstitution. Certaines informations et  évaluations peuvent néanmoins être données, même maintenant.

Vittorio était sur le point de retourner en Italie pour collaborer avec la mission de la flottille de la liberté qui avait décidé de briser en mai le blocus contre les Palestiniens de Gaza, que Vittorio avait systématiquement dénoncé en fournissant une documentation depuis des années.

Vittorio a été découvert déjà mort quand la police palestinienne, aidé par la population locale, a été en mesure de trouver l’endroit où il avait été retenu en otage. L’ultimatum 30 heures n’a été rien de plus qu’un prétexte. Les ravisseurs étaient très jeunes, y compris au moins l’un d’entre eux qui était un citoyen jordanien (et non palestinien). 

Le groupe qui a enlevé et tué Vittorio appartient à cette pléiade de groupes islamistes salafistes, très différents de l’actuel Islam politique que le mouvement Hamas, qui gouverne la bande de Gaza, a comme référence. Ces groupes sont beaucoup plus actifs contre les autres courants islamiques corrompus et les régimes arabes – accusés d’apostasie – qu’ils ne sont opposés à l’occupation israélienne de la Palestine ou de la présence des États-Unis au Moyen-Orient. 

Certains de ces groupes appartiennent au réseau de l’Islam politique qui a comme référence l’Arabie saoudite, est financé et armé par elle. Certains de ces groupes ont déjà provoqué des affrontements et des problèmes très graves dans les camps de réfugiés palestiniens au Liban. 

En ces semaines où les alliances au Moyen-Orient sont brusquement bousculées par les révoltes des peuples et les tensions qui sont présentes dans toute la région, la monarchie saoudienne a établi une alliance avec Israël pour marquer l’ennemi commun représenté par l’Iran et son influence dans la région du Golfe et du Moyen-Orient. Cette alliance a été renforcée par un récent sommet à Moscou auquel participaient à la fois Netanyahu et les dirigeants des services services saoudiens. 

Ces dernières semaines, les autorités israéliennes ont lancé une campagne d’intimidation contre les militants et les campagnes internationales de solidarité avec la Palestine, en particulier contre la flottille de la liberté qui appareillera en mai pour se diriger vers la bande de Gaza, et contre le mouvement de boycott, de désinvestissement et de sanctions contre Israël. Les autorités israéliennes ont demandé aux gouvernements des pays qui ont des navires en partance de leurs côtes ou dans lesquels les campagnes BDS sont importantes, d’intervenir contre les activistes. Le Premier ministre italien Silvio Berlusconi a déjà accepté la demande du gouvernement israélien. Les services secrets israéliens ont été activés pour utiliser tous les moyens nécessaires afin de maintenir les militants internationaux loin de Gaza et de Palestine.

Nous n’avons pas tous les éléments de preuve, mais nous considérons que l’enlèvement et l’assassinat de Vittorio correspond peut-être au sale boulot effectué par les groupes islamistes liés au réseau d’Arabie Saoudite aujourd’hui alliée avec Israël. Le message aux militants internationaux est fort, claire et déconcertant: “Tenez vous loin de Gaza, tenez vous loin de  Palestine”, “Aucune internationalisation de la question palestinienne ne sera tolérée par les autorités de Tel-Aviv et ses alliés”. 

Nous tenons à adresser un message fort et clair à tous ceux qui en Israël ou dans le monde arabe, en Europe ou aux États-Unis entendent ​​resserrer l’étau de l’isolement et de la liquidation autour du droit à l’autodétermination des Palestiniens. Nous le devons à cette population qui se bat pour sa liberté depuis plus de soixante ans et maintenant nous le devons aussi à Vittorio. 

Forum Palestina 

Goodbye, Vik

Written by Luca Galassi for PeaceReporter. Translated by Mary Rizzo

Vittorio Arrigoni was strangled by his kidnappers during a blitz by the armed faction of Hamas in the flat where he was held hostage in Gaza City.

Vittorio Arrigoni is dead. His body was found during the night at approximately 1:50 in a flat in the Gaza Strip, in the Qaram quarter, in the outskirts of Gaza City. The news was first disseminated by the Hamas sources and then confirmed to PeaceReporter by an activist of the International Solidarity Movement. Hamas, the Islamic movement that controls the territory of the Strip was unable to mediate to bring about his liberation. Or perhaps they did not even try. According to what has been reported by the movement’s spokesman, following indications of one of the members of the ultra-radical group (as in original Italian) interrogated in the early afternoon, the security forces surrounded the area in which Vittorio was being held captive, giving way to a blitz that turned into an armed clash, the result of which was the injuring of some Salafi militants, two of them arrested, while the others are still being sought.

It is unclear how and when Vittorio was assassinated, even if the Hamas spokesman, Yiab Hussein, declared in a press conference held shortly after 3 AM that Arrigoni had been killed approximately three hours prior to the blitz, without however explaining how it was possible to establish the details of the death with such exactness. An ISM volunteer arrived at the place he was found and recognised the body at 3:10. “He had his hands tied behind his back, he was lying on a mattress.” The woman told PeaceReporter that Hamas security organs also told her and the other members of the ISM who went to the flat where Vittorio is said to have been killed that he had died several hours before their arrival. The pacifist has been strangled, even if, from the account given to PeaceReporter by the volunteer, there were various kinds of injuries behind his neck. “He still had the blindfolding over his eyes, and he lost blood from behind his head. There were marks from handcuffs around his wrists.”

The evening before the kidnapping, Arrigoni went to the gym. Then he had made a call to book a table at the restaurant where he often had dinner. He said he would be there around 22:00. At 22:30, not seeing him arrive, the restaurant rang him. But Vittorio did not answer. No one was worried, because often he would turn off his mobile phone. After dinner he was expected to meet with a friend and the next morning would have gone to Rafah to visit with some Palestinian families together with his colleagues of the ISM, who had also tried to contact him after the gym, but in vain. Vittorio was kidnapped as soon as he left the gym.

His body was transferred during the night to Shifa Hospital of Gaza, where a post-mortem examination was carried out and his death certificate was drafted. The Italian pacifist was kidnapped yesterday by a Salafi Islamic group that, in a film on YouTube, threatened to kill him if within 30 hours, starting from 11:00 local time, the Hamas government did not liberate some Salafi detainees. Vittorio was killed without even half the time that the kidnappers stated as the limit having passed, much earlier than the moment they announced in their ultimatum. He was killed without even an indication that a negotiation was started for his release. Unfortunately, there are many questions which are not easy to find answers to. With his death, the world loses one of the most fervent supporters of the Palestinian cause. A war journalist. And a friend. Goodbye, Vik.

http://it.peacereporter.net/articolo/27991/Lo+hanno+ucciso.+Addio,+Vik

On behalf of the Palestinian Arab people, on the blood of the martyrs, widows and bereaved, orphans and thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails and all our people in the Palestinian diaspora, we call on all the Palestinian factions to unite under the banner of Palestine, in order to reform the political system in Palestine, based on the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian people in the homeland and the diaspora.

The seriousness of the current phase of Israeli settler incursions and looting of land in our Sacred Jerusalem and the violence of the siege against the Palestinian people in Gaza require us all to stand as one against this brutal occupation.

We have heard that the Palestinian people call for legislative and presidential elections to end the state of division. Yes, we all want to end the division, but we also want a complete re-building of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to include within it all the colors of the Palestinian political spectrum, including Hamas, and to reform it in order to fight again for Palestine’s liberation, as it was initially intended.

We, Palestinian people in the homeland and abroad, have always heard that peaceful actions would achieve victory and restore the land, but 20 years of negotiations have not achieved the leatest demands. Our people remains under a brutal and oppressive occupation that steals land, violate the Holy sites and kills our children, and all of this while the world that claims democracy and human rights is watching and hearing! On the other hand, the resistance is stalling, leaving more than a million and a half Palestinians under Israeli blockade, choking them to the point that our patients, including the sons of the leaders of the resistance, are sent to be treated abroad.

We must agree; it is necessary that we unite for all Palestinians here and there and everywhere, still dreaming of six million Palestinian refugees to return to their homes stolen by the Occupation that only understands the language of force! Let us be strong, let unity be our strength and unanimously agree on a unified leadership that can lead us to freedom with all pride and dignity!

From here we call on the governments of the West Bank and Gaza to respond to the legitimate demands of the people:
1 – the release all political detainees in the prisons of the PA and Hamas
2 – the end of all forms of media campaigns against each other
3 – the resignation of the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad to re-build a government of national unity agreed by all Palestinian factions representing the Palestinian people
4 – the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to contain all the Palestinian factions and get back to its initial aim: Palestine’s freedom
5 – the announcement of the freeze of negotiations until the full compatibility between the various Palestinian factions on a political program
6 – the end of all forms of security coordination with the Zionist enemy
7 – the organization of presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the time chosen by all the factions

Events will start on Tueseday, 03/15/2011 at 11:30 pm and will continue until the achievement of all goals. We will be gathering in the following places (modifications possible):
Gaza: the Unknown Soldier Square
Ramallah: Manara Square
Tulkarm: Roundabout Gamal Abdel Nasser
Jenin: complex of garages near the old Cinema Jenin
Hebron: in front of the governor’s office
Bethlehem: Church of the Nativity Square
Nablus: Martyrs Square
Jordan and Lebanon: no location yet
All over the world: in front of the Palestinian embassies, in coordination with the Palestinian communities abroad. TO BE ANNOUNCED!!!

Please join our page.

http://www.facebook.com/Palestinians.United?sk=info

Gaza Youth Breaks Out

Israel has once more sent out a message to the Islamic and Arab world with its onslaught on Gaza that the struggle for the Middle East will be uncompromisingly bloody and violent. It was the same message in the summer of 2006 with the invasion of the Lebanon, with the Qana massacre of 1996, with the invasion and the 18 year occupation of the Lebanon in 1982 to 2000, and all the way back to 1948. For those who abjure violence in their personal lives, and for those, like me, who have never carried or used a gun, the boycott campaign is an important tool of nonviolent struggle against the Occupation of the West Bank, and the racist polity within the ever shifting borders of Israel, the borderless state in Occupied Palestine.

 

I admire Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s armed resistance against overwhelming force, but it should be by now clear after sixty one years that by itself armed resistance to Zionism will not lead to its overthrow. The most these organisations can do to Israel is harass, with as much impact as a wasp stinging a human being. This in itself is not negligible. The main effect of the missiles launched over Israel’s border is psychological terror, and occasional fatalities, against which the fourth most powerful military machine in the world is powerless. Psychological terror may discourage new Jewish immigrants from arriving in Israel, and that is to the good. 

 

However such tactics do not even elicit a pause from Israel’s political leadership, Right and Left, in the ongoing war on the Palestinians, the Zionist project of clearing the land of Arabs, and the continued illegal settlement by Jews of the Palestine’s West Bank. Clearly Hamas and other resistance organizations are quite powerless by themselves to stop Zionism in its tracks. In a defensive struggle the Shi’ite organization Hezbollah did succeed in throwing the IDF out of Lebanon in the year 2000, and successfully frustrated Israel’s attempt to reoccupy the Southern Lebanon in 2006. Israeli expansionism was thus contained.

 

At no point in the last sixty-one years have Arab armies succeeded in crossing Israel’s 1967 borders, or even in invading the annexed West Bank. Israel’s wars, including that of 1948, have been fought on the territory of other countries. The Yom Kippur War of 1973, although a partial defeat for the Arabs, did eventually lead to the return of the Sinai to Egypt (under American pressure) during the Carter administration. The regional military balance has been shifting in Israel’s favour for the last sixty years (Ref. “Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel” by Arno J Mayer, Verso, 2008). Talk of Hamas’ “victory” in Gaza in 2009 (http://news.antiwar.com/2009/01/18/hamas-leader-declares-victory-in-gaza-war) is in my view self-deluding and misplaced. An unopposed massacre of over 1,400 civilians is not a victory. 

 

I do not want to see the Palestinian resistance reduced to the equivalent of the Native American “ghost dances” of the 1880s, as the last resistance of the aboriginal inhabitants of Palestine is vanquished. I do not think for a moment that this will happen, because the Palestinian Diaspora now numbers more than 7 million, but the weakness of the opposition to the Zionist colonisation of Palestine within Israel is very concerning, and a helping hand from an international citizens’ boycott of Israeli goods and services is its chief, but not its only hope. Arab resistance and Arab demography are other reasons for hope.

 

Resistance as enshrined in the UN charter is legal; Israel is not, as the renowned Irgun terrorist Menachem Begin and future Israeli Prime Minister remarked the day after the UN vote on the partition of Palestine in November 1947: “The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.” In order to be accepted as a member state in the United Nations, in 1949, Israel was required to endorse General Assembly Resolution 194, which recognizes the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and commits itself to the return of all “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours” (700,000 in total at the time), to its sovereign territory. Israel accepted, was made a member state and immediately after announced it had no intention of implementing the UN resolution. Israel thus announced its illegitimacy as a member state of the UN. The Security Council, dominated by the imperialist states of the West, who helped to implant Israel in the Middle East in the first place, went along for the ride.

 

Israel’s key vulnerability lies in its being a trading state with a highly skilled workforce but few natural resources. The boycott of Israeli products, coupled with divestment in Israeli companies and a cultural embargo has to be a key way of supporting the Islamic and secular Palestinian resistance (PFLP), as well as a way of applying pressure to the Zionist establishment to moderate its penchant for atrocities, encouraging dissent within Israel and the deepening of existing fissures within Israeli society. If an international boycott can be linked to the issue of the Right of Return for the Palestinians and the cancellation of the Jewish Right of Return, an uncontroversial strategic goal in support of the Palestinians can be flagged up for the movement.

 

In January 2009 479 Israeli citizens signed a document called “A Call From Israeli Citizens” (at www.kibush.co.il) calling for the boycott of Israeli products, divestment from and sanctions against Israel as the only way forward to begin the Civil-ization (in both senses – demilitarisation as well – Occupied Palestine to become a civilian society once again rather than a garrison state) of the Zionist military machine and stop the ongoing war on the Palestinian population.

 

In the 1980s Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli writer and the ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem, ran the West Bank Data Project, which analyzed the interaction of the Israeli and Palestinian economies in the Occupation. The resulting study concluded that the West Bank had effectively been annexed by Israel, not merely occupied (Ref: Intimate Enemies, Jews and Arabs in a Shared Land, 1995). As pre-1967 Israel was also an annexation by military force, accompanied by some strong arming of Truman and the infant United Nations by Zionist elements in the American Jewish community, the term “Occupied Palestine” correctly refers to the whole of the land between the river Jordan and the sea.  Any other designation fudges the evidence, which suggests that the military occupation of the West Bank will remain until the post-1948 colonial regime itself is either brought down or collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions, to be replaced by a non-colonial political order and the re-establishment of political and economic equality between Arab and Jew. 

 

Before 1967, Palestinian civilians of Israel also lived under a military occupation, and were in a similar position politically to those of the West Bank and Gaza now. The Palestinian American writer Rashid Khalidi uses the term “helot” (a term from the Greek of Ancient Greece to designate an indeterminate status between that of a slave and that of a citizen) to designate the position of Palestinian civilians who have neither civil rights nor any political opportunity to influence the behaviour of the state that dominates and controls their lives in endlessly demeaning and demoralising ways. 

 

Those who do not like equality before the law and citizenship for all will leave, just as the Algerian French did together with some of the pieds noirs in 1962, helping to solve the problem of housing some of the Palestinian refugees from Occupied Palestine at a stroke. Frantz Fanon’s two most important books, Black Skin, White Masks, and The Wretched of the Earth, have now been translated into Hebrew (2004). I am sure that they have been available in Arabic for a long time, but the political culture of the Hebrews is backward and inward looking, which is to be expected in a colonial state. Were the champion of the Algerian liberation struggle Fanon alive today (he would be 82 years old) he would certainly support the Palestinians. It is our privilege and duty as free citizens of the international community to do the same.

 

Paul Grenville 1st April 2009.

On the occasion of the June 2009 European elections, we are launching an urgent appeal to all candidates for the 736 seats in the European parliament.
We ask that they actively pursue the immediate and unconditional removal of Hamas and all other Palestinian liberation organizations from the European list of proscribed terrorist organizations. We further ask that they acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and, by so doing, recognise, Hamas as a legitimate voice for the Palestinian people’s aspirations for national liberation.
http://www.recogniseresistance.net/

http://www.recogniseresistance.net/index.php

Initial Signatories:

275 personalities on March 30th 2009

ABICHT Ludo Belgique-ABOUDAN F, Dr. Stellvertret Vorsitzender des Deutsch Syrischen e.V. Allemagne-ABOU JAHJAH Dyab, activiste, Belgique-Liban Belgique-ABUALROB Mohammad, coordinator of the Palestinian People society Afrique du Sud-AHIDAR Fouad, parlementaire bruxellois Belgique-ALEGRE Greta, cinéaste, Artistes contre le Mur Belgique – ALI Tariq, writer, film-maker and editor of New Left Review Royaume-Uni-ALLEG Henri France-ALLEG-SALEM Gilberte France-AL-ZOEBI Mohammed, prof. Dr., ex-Minister in Syria Allemagne-AMADOR Irene, anthropologue Espagne-AMARA Jean-Claude, porte-parole de Droits devant !!, France-ANDREEVA Nina, Secretary general of Central Comity A-UCPB Russie-ANWAR Aamer, Human Rights Lawyer, Ecosse Royaume-Uni-AOURAGH Miriyam, co-organizer Dutch antiwar and antiracism campaign, Pays-Bas-ARSALAN Fathallah, porte-parole du mouvement Justice et Spiritualité Maroc-ARTLIEB Marion, Dpl.Ing. computer scientist Autriche-ATZMON Gilad, artiste de jazz et écrivain Royaume-Uni-AYALA SOSA Rosa (Dr.ssa), CIEP  Italie-BADER Wilfried, local counsellor Angerberg, Tirol Autriche-BARBEAU-LAVALETTE Anaïs, Réalisatrice Québec Canada-BARGHOUTHY Hani, Writer, editor-in-chief of arabianawareness.com Canada-Baroud Ramzy, Author, Journalist USA-BARRETT Mark, civil liberties campaigner, London Royaume Uni-BARTOLIK Pawel Michal, Journalist of Trybuna Robotnicza (Workers Tribune) Pologne-BEAUGIER Catherine, Poète – Ecrivain Belgique-BELAHRACHE Radouane, Nîmes France-BELAL Aabdelhai, PHD student Chypre-BENGHABRIT Hassan, écrivain/poète France-BENMERAD Djamal, Ecrivain Bruxelles Belgique-BENZAKOUR Mohammed, écrivain et journaliste Pays-Bas-BERLIN Greta, co-fondatrice Free Gaza Movment USA-BIBEAU Robert, expert en éducation au Ministère de l’Éducation du Québec Canada-BLEITRACH Danielle, sociologue et écrivain France-BOAL Augusto, homme de théâtre Brésil-BONALI Giulio Italie-BONAZZI Giuseppe, Professore emerito Fac. Scienze Politiche Università di Torino Italie-BORREMAN Hadassah, publiciste Belgique-BORREMAN Shmiel Mordche, Yechouroun Judaïsme contre Sionisme Belgique-BOUAMAMA Saïd, sociologue France-BOUKMAN Daniel, écrivain Martinique-BOUMEDIENE-THIERY Alima, sénatrice France-BOUSSOUMAH Youssef, Mouvement des Indigènes de la République France-BOUTELDJA Houria, Mouvement des Indigènes de la République France-BOUTELDJA Naima, Journalist, Royaume-Uni-BOUZERDA Abdou, président Arab European League Pays-Bas-BRACKE Maud, lecturer, University of Glasgow Royaume-Uni-BRACKE Sarah, féministe & professor KULeuven Belgique-BRICMONT Jean, physicien Belgique-BROWN Brenda, Chair, Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign  Royaume-Uni-BRUGUIER Alain, vice-président de l’AFPS de Nîmes (Gard) France-BUSTANI Hisham, Writer and Secretary of the Socialist Thought Forum Jordanie-CAPORALE Alessandra, social anthropologist, university lecturer, Barcelona Espagne-CATALINOTTO John, managing editor, Workers World Newspaper USA-CAVALLI Franco, Immediate Past President of UICC, Direktor IOSI in Bellinzona, Initiator Medicuba, Nationalrat der SP Schweiz von 1995 – 2007 Suisse-CERRI Giovanni, Professore di Letteratura greca antica Università di Roma Tre Italie-CHAAMBI Abdelaziz, militant associatif France-CHANDAN Sukant, Chair, English branch of the IUPFP Royaume-Uni-CHASSEUR Tony, musicien Martinique-CHIAROTTO Francesca, dottoranda in Studi Politici, Torino Italie-CHICHAH Souhail, chercheur ULB Belgique-CHIESA Giulietto, parlamentare europeo e giornalista Italie-CHRISTISON Bill, writer, Palestinian rights activist USA-CHRISTISON Kathleen, writer, Palestinian rights activist USA-COLLON Michel, écrivain et journaliste Belgique-COLONNA Eric, citoyen engagé, Lyon France-CONFIANT Raphaël, écrivain Martinique-CONSTANTINOU Petros, Campain Genoa 2001 Grèce-COOPER Alan, Senior Lecturer, European College of Business and Management, Royaume-Uni-COSSELLU Mario Gabrielli, Segretario Circolo PRC/SE “Enrico Berlinguer” Bruxelles Belgique-CRETAUX Sophie, ex-chercheur au CNRS, agrégée d’histoire France-CROOKE Alistair, Conflicts Forum Director and Founder Royaume-Uni-DALTON Des, Vize-Präsident von Republican Sinn Féin, Betriebsrat der Gewerkschaft SIPTU Irlande-DAWOOD Fakeer, Dr., Prof. Telecommunication, Montreal, Qc Canada-DE BRABANDER Ludo, Stafmedewerker vzw Vrede Belgique-DE HERT Robbe, cinéaste Belgique-DE LEY Herman, emeritus professor.Universiteit Gent Belgique-DE SANTI Massimo (Prof.), Presidente Comitato Internazionale di Educazione per la Pace Italie-DE WITTE Ludo, auteur Belgique-DE WITTE Paul, Woordvoerder Basisbewehging voor democratie in samenlevving en kerken, Belgique-DEDAJ Viktor, cyberjournaliaste France-DEKKERS Daniel, Ingénieur retraité Belgique-DELMOTTE Paul, professeur IHECS Belgique-DELORCA Frédéric, Sociologue, coordinateur du blog de l’Atlas alternatif, France-DELPHY Christine, Fondatrice et directrice de la revue NQF, France-DEQUEECKER Ida, féministe Belgique-DERMAGNE Jean-Marie, Avocat, Enseignant à l’Université Belgique-DERONNE Thierry, vice-président télévision publique Vive TV République bolivarienne du Venezuela Venezuela-DERRICHE Ouardia, membre de l’Association Belgique-Palestine Belgique-DIAGNE Roland, enseignant en France, militant communiste marxiste-léniniste France-D’ORSI Angelo (Prof.),  Cattedra di Storia del Pensiero politico Dipartimento di Studi Politici, Università di -Torino Italie-DOUGLAS Emory, Former Minister of Culture of The Black Panther Party USA-DRURY Ivan, member of Vancouver Socialist Forum, contributing editor of Socialist Voice Canada-DUISENBERG Gretta, Chair Foundation Stop the Occupation Pays-Bas-DUMAS F. 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be, Chair, Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine Royaume-Uni-HAZAN Eric, éditeur France-HEARD Brenda, Founder Friends of Lebanon London Royaume-Uni-HECHT-GALINSKI Evelyn, Publizistin Allemagne-HELMUT Franz, Oberstleutnant der Deutschen Bundeswehr i. R. Allemagne-HOFBAUER Hannes, publisher and publicist  Autriche-HÖRSTEL Christoph, Regierungs-/Unternehmensberater, Buchautor, Vors. Friedenskreis Deutschland e.V. i.G., Nehls, Gertrud, AK Asyl Allemagne-HOUSE James, maitre de conférences à l’Université de Leeds Royaume-Uni-HOUTART François, professeur émérite de l’Université catholique de Louvain Belgique-HUI Matthias, Fachstelle OeME, Ref. Kirchen Bern-Jura-Solothurn, Suisse-HUTNYK John, Professor of Cultural Studies, Academic Director of CCS Goldsmiths University of London -Royaume-Uni-ITANI Zouhair, Prof.Dr.med. Dermatologist, Düsseldorf Allemagne-JENART Nathalie, psychologue, directrice d’un centre PMS, Bruxelles Belgique-JENNAR Raoul Marc, consultant en relations internationales France-KAREL Arnaut, antropoloog, UGent  Belgique-KARSLI Jamal, FAKT-Party Allemagne-KASRILS Ronnie, former South African government minister, writer Afrique du Sud-KEHOE Jon, artist, London Royaume-Uni-KHIARI Sadri, Mouvement des indigènes de la république France-KHRESHE Hassan Dr., Vice President Palestinian legislative council Palestine-KOUCHAKJI George A., Palestine Solidarity Basel Suisse-KOWALEWSKI Zbigniew Marcin, researcher and editor Pologne-KREBS Djamila, membre d’Europalestine Allemagne-KRZYŻANIAK Piotr, trade-unionist of All-Polish Trade Union “Workers’ Initiative” (Ogólnopolski Związek —Zawodowy “Inicjatywa Pracownicza”) Pologne-LACROIX-RIZ Annie, professeur d’histoire contemporaine, université Paris 7 France-LAHAYE Laure, Chargée de collections en arabe à la Bibliothèque nationale de France, Conseillère de quartier, -Paris, France-LAMB Franklin P. , PhD, Director Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Washington DC – Beirut Acting –Chair, the Sabra-Shatila Memorial Scholarship Program Laptop Initiative, Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp-LAMP Paul, board member of Stop the Occupation Pays-Bas-LAMRABET Asma, Médecin et Essayiste Maroc-LANGTHALER Wilhelm, Anti-imperialist Camp Autriche-LANOYE Tom, auteur Belgique-LAROSIERE Jean-François, responsable syndical et associatif France-LAWLOR Zoe, Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign Membership Officer Irlande-LEGRAND Michel, Président du Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient Luxembourg-LEUENBERGER Peter, Historiker, Vorstandsmitglied Gesellschaft Schweiz- Palästina, Suisse-LEVY Laurent, essayiste France-LOPE (de) Monique, professeur émérite à l’Université de Provence France-LOS René, bestuurder Belgique-LOSURDO Domenico, Direttore Istituto Scienze filosofiche, università di Urbino Italie-LOUCKX Fred, Sociologue,  Vrije Universiteit Brussel Belgique-LOUIS Tim, Former Vancouver City Councillor Canada-MAC MANUS Patrick, author Danemark-MAESTRO MARTIN Ángeles, mèdica especialista en salud pública Espagne-MAGUIRE Mairead, prix Nobel de la Paix Irlande-MAHI Yacob, Enseignant, Théologien, Dr. en Histoire et Sciences des Religions, Belgique-MAIRA Antonio, Politólogo, redactor Diario digital inSurGente Espagne-MANAMELA Buti, National Secretary Young Communist League of South Africa-MANDUCA Paola, geneticist Italie-MANISCO Lucio, giornalista ed ex parlamentare europeo Italie-MARTINEZ Miguel, website kelebekler.com Italie-MASSARRAT Mohssen, Professor Dr. Osnabrück Allemagne-MAUERSBERGER Günter, Botschafter a.D., Vize- Vorsitzender des Nahostforum e.V. 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Wilpf Italia -Lega Internazionale delle Donne per la Pace e la Libertà Italie-PEIRCE Gareth, solicitor, Londres Royaume-Uni-PELLEGRIN-RESCIA Marie L., Présidente, Séminaire d’anthropologie et psychologie sociale J S, Paris V—Sorbonne France-PEREZ BERROCAL Gloria, programmatrice de télévision Espagne-PETRAS James, Bartle professor emeritus Binghamton University USA-PIERART Pierre, Professeur Honoraire Université Mons Hainaut Belgique-PINO Julio (Dr.), professor of history USA-PIRKER Werner, journalist Autriche-PLOUVIER Liliane, Professeur de droit international Bruxelles Belgique-POLGAR Alexandru, philosophe, éditeur de la revue Idea Roumanie-POSMAN André, eredocent actualiteit Sint Lucasinstituut Gent, lic. Geschiedenis. Dir Concertreeksen DE Rode -Pomp Gent Belgique-RAHWANJI Maha, Member of the Executive Committee, Palestine Solidarity Campaign Royaume-Uni-RAMADAN Tariq, professor, Oxford/Erasmus Universities Royaume-Uni-RAMIREZ Ronnie, cinéaste Belgique-RAVENTÓS BARANGÉ Anna, PhD Senior Lecturer Faculty of Arts and Letters University of Seville Espagne-REVELLI  Philippe, journaliste France-RICHA Raymond, Ingénieur France-RICHET Mathis, Musician Royaume-Uni-RIDLEY Yvonne, journaliste Royaume-Uni-RIZZO Mary, co-Editor of Palestine Think Tank and co-founders of Tlaxcala, Dr. Art Historian and Art Restorer Italie-ROELS Frank, MD, emeritus professor Ugent Belgique-ROMANO Vicente, professeur d’université Espagne-ROSA-ROSSO Nadine, enseignante et auteur Belgique-ROSSEEL Eric, gepensioneerd docent psychologie VUB Belgique-RUMEAU Mireille, militante ISM France-SAÏDI Nordine, Mouvement Citoyen Palestine Belgique-SALEM Jean, philosophe, professeur à la Sorbonne, Paris France-SANDBAEK Ulla, Former Member of the European Parliament Danemark-SARAMAGO Jose, écrivain, Portugal-SCHAUER Waltraud, former human shield in Iraq Autriche-SCHLERETH Einar, Journalist Suède-SCHMID Estella, Kurdistan Solidarity Committee & CAMPACC Royaume-Uni-SCHÖGLER Johann, Styrian Peace Platform Autriche-SCHOMBLOND Christiane, chargée de cours honoraire de l’ULB Belgique-SCHYDLO Krystyna, Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft, Ruhrgebiet Allemagne-SEBOGO BERNARD NKUMAH, Chairperson of Boston Branch, All African People’s Revolutionary Party USA-SEIFERT Arne C. (Dr.), Botschafter a.D., Sprecher der Initiativer “Diplomaten für Frieden mit der Islamischen Welt” Allemagne-SENOUCI Brahim, maître de conférences France-SHEIKH KHALIL Nabil, Association to Support Palestinians in Need Suisse-SIFAKAKIS Yiannis, Stop the war Coalition Grèce-SOETERIK Robert, antropoloog, Middle East Research Associates Pays-Bas-STASZEWSKI Michel, enseignant, Bruxelles Belgique-STERN Catherine, enseignante d’Histoire à la retraite, ancienne chargée de cours à Paris France-STUDEN-KIRCHNER Aleks, author and interpreter Autriche-SWYNGEDOUW Erik, Professor of Geography School of Environment and Development Manchester University Royaume-Uni-TALENS Manuel, écrivain Espagne-TAWFIK AL-MANSOURI Mohamed, Ph.D., Writer and Researcher, Afnan Magazine Canada-TENA Carlos, periodista Espagne-THARANI Marishka, Actress Royaume-Uni-TIBON-CORNILLOT Michel, Universitaire, écrivain France-TILLEY Virginia, political scientist Afrique du Sud-TURINE Jean-Marc, écrivain Belgique-URBANO Miguel, écrivain Portugal-VAN DEN BERGHE Gie, professor Universiteit Gent, ethicus en historicus Belgique-VAN HOORNE Michel, coordinateur du mouvement ‘Links Ecologisch Forum (LEF)’Belgique-VANDEN BAVIERE Paul, journaliste et historien Belgique-VANDEPERRE Elke, coördinator v
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With Israel there will never be peace

by Gianni Perrelli

Exclusive: The leader of Hamas in exile speaks. He announces an imminent conflict. That is because he says Tel Aviv is not interested in listening to Palestinians. And from America, the opening with Damascus was nothing but words. Conversation with Khaled Meshaal From the Italian news magazine L’Espresso. Translated by Mary Rizzo.

 

“In the name of God, the clement, the merciful, I would like to ask the first question. Is it possible that after the war against Gaza and our heroic resistance, Israel still does not understand that the peace process cannot be done without Hamas…?”

Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas, in exile for more than 40 years, reels off this question with the attitude of a challenge. Despite the severe losses (more than 1,400 Palestinians killed) he claims victory for the withdrawal of the Israeli troops decided by Israel. But he does not demonstrate that he harbours any illusions in the short-term. With the new government guided by Benjamin Netanyahu about to take oath, he awaits only more hostilities from Israel. And neither does he hold out great expectations on the first steps taken by Barack Obama, as he announced the will to follow along the road of force, “the only language that Israel fears and which bring about results.”

This exclusive interview to L’Espresso, obtained following complicated negotiations between Beirut and the Syrian capital, is the first one that Meshaal has given to the print media in the aftermath of the war. We have met him in a highly secured place in the outskirts of Damascus, arriving in a car with smoked windows. Before the entrance, armed militants bear Kalashnikovs. Yet, these security measures are necessary following the high number (45) of leaders of the movement that have been eliminated by Israel. The leader, in a grey suit and without a tie, appears cordial and relaxed. His calm demeanour never wavers in a conversation that takes off from the assignment of the task of forming a government given to Netanyahu, the Prime Minister who in ’97 sent a squad from the Mossad to poison him. “Netanyahu was the instigator of the thwarted attempt to assassinate me, but he, like all the Israeli Prime Ministers, is especially responsible for the assassination attempts against the entire Palestinian population. There are only slight nuances, but no substantial differences between the positions of the Likud, Kadima or Labour. For 60 years there has not been a single Israeli government that has not committed crimes against us. And it is better to face off with a conservative leadership that clearly follows its stated goals rather than the hypocrisy of the Labourists who only pretend to be committed to a peace process and while under their governments the greatest parts of the settlements have been built.”

But with Netanyahu, if Hamas does not open itself to dialogue, aren’t you risking catapulting into another war?

“We are not worried about a new war. Our people will never be defeated and it will never surrender. The defiance we face reinforces us because they are afraid of death and we are not. Peace is possible only if an international voice rises up to push for the recognition of our rights. The objective remains the constitution of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, the return of the Israelis to the pre-67 borders and the right of return of our refugees. We can accept nothing less than this. Has there ever been an Israeli government that has considered it right to address our aspirations? They say no to everything and they only act as if they are interested in a solution. Then what is left to negotiate upon?”


With the PA and Fatah the Jewish State is involved in dialogue. How can Hamas hope to gain their understanding if it continues to shoot rockets into Israel?
 

“That is a good question that gives me the opportunity to explain why the six month truce that expired in December was not extended. Israel made a commitment to put an end to the siege on Gaza and to open the checkpoints. None of this happened. They want to suffocate us, to cage us in a ‘Bantustan’. How can one talk about a truce when under siege? To guarantee its own security, Israel persists in the error of betting on the military defeat of our people. I have studied physics and I am convinced that in political relations Newton’s Law applies: every action corresponds to an equal and opposite reaction. When they will cease their aggression our resistance will come to its end as well. But if the gates remain sealed shut, the only outlet, I repeat, remains the struggle.”


They have put you in a sort of isolation.

“Sooner or later the world will open its eyes. The international community continues to see only our rockets but they ignore their F16s, the use of white phosphorus bombs. Israel takes advantage of its aprioristic support of the Americans, of the scarce credibility of the UN, weakened by the pressure from Washington and of the absolute vagueness of Europe which proves to be inert or withdrawn. How can so many European leaders remain unmoved when basic values are being trampled on? Things like freedom, human rights, democracy even? How can they not understand that they must come to an agreement with Hamas, which is a movement of the people?”

But things are changing with Obama, aren’t they?

 

“We all hope so. But a major change has to happen. Obama speaks a new language, but I don’t know if that is enough. We need new politics.”

If you could meet Obama, what would you say?

“Meet him? But if he has not even delisted me from the terrorist blacklist… But it is a fact that without Hamas, not even Obama will be able to make much headway. However I would invite him to consider the opportunity of a change. It’s not possible to make exceptions for Israel, ignoring the rights of other people. This change of approach would be in the interests not only of Palestine, but of the entire Middle East and the United States itself. America is involved and it will be the first to lose if the prospects of peace disappear. The first signals, however, are not very encouraging. Senator John Kerry, upon visiting Gaza was shaken by the destruction, but he nevertheless repeated that Israel has a right to defend itself.”

Well how can you deny that? For years Israel has been paying an extremely high price in innocent blood. First with the suicide bombers, now with the rockets even if in the last war there was enormous disproportion between your losses and theirs.

“We are not the bloodthirsty people they paint us as. We do not want innocent victims, from our side or theirs. But the Palestinian question has become a severe pathology. And whoever honestly tries to diagnose the cause can only individuate the occupation as the prime factor. Nothing is left to us but to resist.”

The international community would be more attentive to your issues if you recognised Israel.

“Do you think it’s the right moment after the barbarity of the recent war? Israel has already too much recognition. And it is the Palestinian people who need to be recognised.”

There are those who insist that after the war the people of Gaza are turning their backs on Hamas.

“I can assure you that our consensus in Gaza, in the West Bank and in the entire Arab world has grown exponentially. We do not feel isolated. And we are not closing ourselves off in a ghetto either. The United States wants to stick the label on us that we are a creature of Iran or Syria. We know these instruments of denigration. But we don’t think that America is an impartial judge. We open our doors to anyone who wishes to help us. And we ask whoever is against us to say with whom they intend to negotiate peace, seeing as how they do not want to give legitimacy to Hamas, which went to power by means of a democratic election.”

In the Territories there are some who admonish that you have lost contact with Palestine. That the leaders of Hamas have lived too many years in exile.

“Yes, there are some who insinuate that. But it is pure conjecture. We are all sons of Palestine. I cannot return due to the occupation. And like me, the same is true of all of the PLO leaders who lived for many years in exile, not because they wanted to, but because they were forced to.”

In Gaza uncertainty remains. Olmert subordinates the truce to the liberation of the soldier Shalit.

“The request already irritated the Egyptian mediators and it was duly rejected. Olmert is a hypocrite. Only today he remembers his soldier. We won’t be blackmailed. We are in favour of the liberation, but only through an exchange with the Palestinian prisoners, 12 thousand, among them children, old people and the sick.”

If Marwan Barghouti were liberated, would the road to reconciliation be easier?

“We hope he will be liberated. But no one can personify in himself an entire cause.”

Within the Palestinian political sphere there is need for détente. Is it possible to bring back a kind of reconciliation between Hamas and the more moderate Al Fatah?

“Differences can be overcome only if some rules are respected. It is necessary that the brothers in Al Fatah respect the outcome of the election. And then they need to consolidate the basis of democracy within the Palestinian Authority. The inalienable principle that all of us defend in the first place the interests of the Palestinians. It must be established that our law and order forces are at the service of the security of Palestine and not – under the direction of the American general Keith Dayton – at the service of Israel.” 

(26 February 2009)

http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/con-israele-non-sara-mai-pace/2069306/11/1

translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo for www.tlaxcala.es and www.palestinethinktank.com

By the Qawem Coalition: In a recent interview in the Zionist newspaper Haaretz, Marc Garlasco, an American military analyst for Human Rights Watch (and former intelligence analyst for the Pentagon), could not hide his excitement regarding “Israel’s” possible use of a new weapon called TAR-21. “It is an incredible weapon,” he says, and proceeds to describe in great detail the military capabilities of the Zionist army. An interview with a human rights organization that was expected to condemn Zionist use of chemical
and test weapons like white phosphorus and DIME (dense inert metal explosives) turns into praise for the aggressors’ military might. At the same time, Garlasco condemns the Palestinian resistance for its use of “illegal weapons,” which include conventional Qassam and Grad rockets because, according to him, they are “useless” and “not accurate enough.”
The interview with Human Rights Watch sums up the role of human rights organizations in the Zionist colonization of Palestine and exposes their racism towards the colonized. The role is always to protect the colonizer’s image of military superiority, while at the same time discouraging the colonized population from joining a meaningful resistance movement aimed at liberating the people from lifetime imprisonment.
**The population of Gaza: We are not looking for handouts
The “US” has offered 0.9 billion dollars in “aid” to Gaza, while subsidizing “Israel’s” military and economic assault to the tune of 3 billion dollars a year. Our people in Gaza overwhelmingly rejected the idea of meaningless western “aid” and described it as handouts not fit for a proud population that withstood the most aggressive military campaign in modern times. The population of Gaza stands with the resistance’s only realistic and natural demand: an end to the siege and the opening of all border crossings. This would enable the population to engage in normal trade and would certainly support any serious rebuilding effort. No society can function on handouts that do not respect the right of people to live freely, work and contribute to human society.
**Rebuilding according to the population’s strategic needs
In early March, a conference at Sharm el-Sheikh raised 4.5 billion dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza. Not surprisingly, the conference insisted that most aid would be channeled through the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Abbas, which currently acts as the administrator of the Zionist occupation. The primary representative of the Palestinian people, Hamas, was not invited to the conference to participate in the discussion. “US” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in attendance and pledged 900 million dollars of “US aid”– about $600 million dollars of which was in developmental aid to the Palestinian Authority. She made clear that none of this aid would go to Hamas, which currently controls Gaza and enjoys popular support among Gaza’s population.
The aim is clear. The invasion of Gaza failed to achieve any of its stated objectives. The Zionist army could not destroy the military capacity of the Palestinian resistance or undermine support for it through collective punishment. Quoting Haaretz, once again, “only when the IDF left [Gaza] could the results of the war be seen as limited, with almost daily [resistance] attacks near the fence, a continuing ‘drizzle’ of rockets and information on renewed arms smuggling.” “Humanitarian aid” now takes up where military action left off: it is offered on the condition that Palestinians in Gaza renounce the resistance and accept a leadership that does not represent their interests.
This comes as no surprise, as the rebuilding effort is seen by these organizations and countries as an opportunity to continue the war on the Palestinian resistance. Past experience in the Jenin refugee camp teaches us that though rebuilding needs to address the strategic needs of the  population, it was the aggressors’ future plans for colonization that guided the rebuilding of Jenin: the Jenin refugee camp was rebuilt according to Zionist specifications by donor countries. The specifications addressed the Zionist army’s future war plans and operational needs.
The rebuilding effort in Gaza must be done by the people of Gaza and for the people of Gaza.
**Gaza’s Call to Action
Gaza and Palestinian resistance groups have called upon all free people across the globe to contribute to Gaza’s rebuilding efforts and continue with their campaigns of solidarity. Ramadan Shallah, a Palestinian professor who has taught in the U.S. and is the leader of Islamic Jihad, said: “Every free person that voiced support for the resistance is part of the world’s collective victory in Gaza.”
Gaza is in immediate need for honest aid that is meant to alleviate its current wounds without a political price-tag — aid that does not ask the population to drop their weapons for a handout of food.
The Qawem Coalition
 

Pundits have asked Palestinians of every persuasion what they think of Israeli elections over the past several weeks. Opinions are varied and thoughtful; yet the truth is that to prefer one of the leading groups over another is an exercise in futility. Asking for a choice is akin to opting hypothetically for France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen (Lieberman), Dutch parliamentarian Geet Wilders (Livni), or Russia’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Netanyahu), with South Africa’s Pieter W. Botha (Peres) playing the presidential role of whom to ask for the formation of a national unity government.

 

 

 Israeli democracy is an oxymoron, a reality underscored by the abuse of any non-Jewish party vying for equal representation. Palestinian parties entering elections in 2006 were represented by Muslims, Christians and even atheists, with no obligation or pre-condition other than those recognized by international law. The Israeli State, however, routinely purges or inhibits Arab political movement, such as those of Azmi Bishara, with unsubstantiated claims of treason or treachery. And the political neutering of indigenous Arabs is negligible compared with the dismissive approach to any popular presence across the 1967 border.

 

 Israelis in this year’s elections claimed there were no Palestinian partners for peace. Ironic, since regardless of label, all Israeli politicians play the same game under a different name: settlements are built; borders are open and shut on a whim; buildings are destroyed; banks are stifled; cities are bombed; and so on. How can Palestinians, let alone the democratically elected Hamas, believe any Israeli politician can be spoken to, let alone trusted, when terrorism and/or racism runs through the veins of every political party?

 

 The roots of Labour and Likud are in organizations that terrorized innocent civilians and murdered randomly; before Likud there was Gahal and before that Herut, which was borne of Irgun—a proven terrorist group. Likud’s supposed peacemaker who became Prime Minister in 1977, Menachim Begin, was a key figure in the Irgun and even had a 2,000-British-pound reward for his capture. The Haganah was the militant precursor to the Labour party. Yitzhak Shamir was a leader of the Stern Gang, accused of atrocities against civilians; yet still became PM in 1983.

 

 The mainstream Zionist groups are rooted in Judaism but secular when convenient. The religious parties—those that sell their seats for power in coalition governments—are more numerous, therefore more likely to gain influence in one form or another. Although there are a few anti-Zionists such as Edah Ha Chareidis, Satmar and Neurei Karta International, right-wing Zionists dominate, such as Tsomet, Shas, Morasha, Shinui Ometz, Gush Emunim (Ne’emanei Eretz Yisrael), the Jewish National Front (Hayil), and the National Movement (Herut) among others. Some are defunct, such as Kach, Kahane Chai and Tehiya (Banai), though their members often form other groups, with the usual aim of building Greater Israel.

 

 The emergence of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu as the “kingmaker” party is no surprise, given that their dependence on the public’s xenophobia is as deep as the religious groups. They play the chords of racism, nationalism, Zionism and Judaism perfectly. Their manifesto includes statements like the group’s “clear vision” to pursue “the three cardinal principles of Zionism: Aliyah (immigration), settlement, and defense of our homeland,” further declaring: “The responsibility for primarily Arab areas such as Umm al-Fahm and the ‘triangle’ will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. In parallel, Israel will officially annex Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria.”

 

 

At their core, most Israeli political parties are the same when it comes to their neighbours. They dispute among themselves only in terms of controlling budgets and ministries, but as far as contributing meaningfully to regional stability or economic growth, they are satisfied to be parasites off the American taxpayer while bullying the occupied. That is why they have invested so much in lobbying groups, partisan think tanks, and other organizations in the U.S. but made no effort to honour international law.

 

The Gaza donor conference concluded a couple of days ago in the Egyptian city of Sharm-El-Sheik and was attended by more than 70 countries, pledging more than $5 Billion, exceeding any and all expectations. Of course this sum of money and the US pledge of $300 million is dwarfed by the $30 Billion George Bush pledged to Israel in arms and weapons.

Nevertheless, I think the attendance and the generous amounts contributed shows finally how much the world cares about the people of Gaza and is an indirect indictment of the crimes committed by Israel during its 22 days of 24/7 assault on the Gaza Strip. Of course very few heads of states or government officials dare to criticize Israel as it went ahead with its war crimes on Gaza, but the world rallied around to bandage the wounds of the more than 1.5 million Palestinians who had to endure the most criminal war assault since the closing days of WWII perhaps with the exception of Israel’s summer war on Lebanon a couple of years ago when some 1.5 million cluster bombs, gift from George Bush to the Lebanese people, were dropped in the last 10 days of the war.

The Gaza Reconstruction Conference in its closing statement called on Israel to open with immediate effect all crossings for all humanitarian aids and for conareuction materials needed for the massive work ahead. Somehow everyone forgot the geography of Gaza and that Gaza has some 50 km of shoreline and has a sea port.

However Israel, given the angry unhappy nation it is, full of hate and contempt for the world and human values, is a country that will not even consider world opinion because it does not give a damn about the world public opinion to begin with, and is unlikely to open the border crossing with Gaza for pasta, let alone a front loader.

The newspapers carried accounts of the secret list of forbidden or restricted items Israel concluded as threats to its own security including “pasta, pasta sauce, lentil and hearing aids”. Senator John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee had to inquire with Ehud Barak, Israel’s Defense Minister why “pasta” is a restricted item? This should tell you and the world how pitiful this nation is, “the only killing democracy in the Middle East” and I will not be surprised if Israel added Humus, fool, falafel and kinafeh to the list of forbidden items. One has to imagine if the Palestinians want to import heavy construction material or cement. Perhaps Israel has new building technology made up of bagels, motzaballs or corn beef as construction material. Israel needs serious mental help.

What I am most surprised about is the call by almost everyone, from Mahmoud Abbas, to Hillary Clinton, to Nicolas Sarkozy, to Husni Mubarak and their calls, almost begging calls for Israel to open the border crossing, I say, the hell with Israel and its border crossing with Gaza. Let Israel build a 1000 meter high Apartheid Wall between it and Gaza. Who needs Israel and who needs its products and services? Israel is giving the impression to the world it is doing the Palestinians a big favor when it allows fuels and food supplies to come into Gaza, For Gods sake Israel and Jewish suppliers get paid for everything that comes through to Gaza, at much higher prices, nothing is for free, so why bother with Israel when Gaza has access to the sea and has a port much older than any ports in Israel?

Let Israel go to hell, and let Israel keep its border crossings closed and let the people of Gaza open their port and import everything they need and want through the Port of Gaza. No need to reward Israeli suppliers with billions of supply contracts. I know the world is concerned about Hamas smuggling weapons, and all I can say is that Hamas is simply too stupid to smuggle anything of significant threat to Israel such at RPJs and other serious weapons of significant risk to Israel. In more than 2 years under siege Hamas has managed to smuggle enough material to produce useless, and militarily insignificant Qassam rockets that some 15,000 of these failed to even totally destroy one single house. Though I believe the issue of weapon smuggling is more political and a powerful propaganda tool than a strategic issue for Israel, nevertheless I concede that something has to be done to make sure that Hamas or anyone else does not use the opening of the Port of Gaza for weapons smuggling. Besides, I am not convinced that armed struggle Hamas style is the answer to liberation.

I am sure the Americans and the Europeans will be very pleased if Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas announced to the world their willingness to entrust the management and operation including security operation of the Port of Gaza to the Americans and perhaps some European partners. Let America manage and operate the port making sure only constructions materials, food suppliers and consumers goods comes through the port. Let Americans and the Europeans break the siege of Gaza and end once and for all the Israeli Occupation of Gaza that has lasted some 42 years. Let America and Europe operate all of the security measures, not to Israel’s satisfaction but to the American and European satisfaction that all materials coming through are for civil purposes and nothing to make atomic weapons out of. And yes, let Egypt close the Rafah Crossing for all goods but allow it for people to cross if they choose to travel through Egypt. Let the US and Europe open and operate both the Sea Port and Airport of Gaza. Let the world this time end the siege of Gaza. Hamas must not hold the people hostage to its own agenda. And yes, let the US Navy and US Coast Guard patrol the coast lines off Gaza for good measure.

http://www.jeffersoncorner.com/the-hell-with-israel-open-the-sea-port-of-gaza/


thanks very much to one of our attentive readers, Rodney, who sent this video from Australian TV, where Shimon Peres makes one outrageous claim after another, including that the Gaza checkpoints have always been open. If you can stand someone lying through their teeth, this is the man for you.

quote of the day

Posted: 02/12/2009 by editor in Falastin, Palestine, Quotes
Tags: ,

We will eat salt, but we will not bow our heads for anybody other than God, because we are faithful to the rights of our people and our nation. We will not betray it.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

Speech delivered by Nadine Rosa-Rosso at the The Beirut International Forum for Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, Solidarity between Peoples and Alternatives, held from January 16 to 18, 2009. 
The key question in this forum is how to support resistance against imperialism across the world. As an independent Belgian communist activist I would like to focus on the position of the European Left vis-à-vis this issue.

The massive demonstrations in European capitals and major cities in support of the people of Gaza highlighted once again the core problem: the vast majority of the Left, including communists, agrees in supporting the people of Gaza against Israeli aggression, but refuses to support its political expressions such as Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Left not only refuses to support them, but also denounces them and fights against them. Support for the people of Gaza exists only at a humanitarian level but not at the political level.

Concerning Hamas and Hezbollah; the Left is mainly concerned with the support these groups have amongst the Arab masses, but are hardly interested in the fact that Israel’s clear and aggressive intention is to destroy these resistance movements. From a political point of view we can say without exaggeration that the Left’s wish (more or less openly admitted) follows the same line as the Israeli government’s: to liquidate popular support for Hamas and Hezbollah.

This question arises not only for the Middle East but also in the European capitals because, today, the bulk of the demonstrators in Brussels, London and Paris are made up of people of North African origin, as well as South Asian Muslims in the case of London.

The reactions of the Left to these events are quite symptomatic. I will cite a few but there are dozens of examples. The headline of the French website ‘Res Publica’ following the mass demonstration in Paris on the 3rd of January read: “We refuse to be trapped by the Islamists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah!” The article continued: “Some activists of the left and far left (who only turned out in small numbers) were literally drowned in a crowd whose views are at odds with the spirit of the French Republican movement and of the 21st Century Left. Over 90% of the demonstrators championed a fundamentalist and communitarian worldview based on the clash of civilizations which is anti-secular and anti-Republican. They advocated a cultural relativism whose harmful tendencies are well known, particularly in England.

Res Publica is neither Marxist or communist, but one would be hard pressed to find even the most remotely positive words about Hamas on Marxist websites. One does find formulations such as “Whatever we think about Hamas, one thing is indisputable: the Palestinian people democratically elected Hamas to lead Gaza in elections held under international supervision.” Looking further at “what we can think of Hamas” one finds on the websites of both the French Communist Party and the Belgian Labour Party an article entitled “How Israel put Hamas in the saddle.” We learn little more than the assertion that Hamas has been supported by Israel, the United States and the European Union. I note that this article was put online on January 2nd after a week of intensive Israeli bombardment and the day before the ground offensive whose declared aim was the destruction of Hamas.

I will return to the quotation of Res Publica, because it summarizes quite well the general attitude of the Left not only in relation to the Palestinian resistance, but also in regard to the Arab and Muslim presence in Europe. The most interesting thing in this article is the comment in parentheses: ‘the Left and far Left (who only turned out in small numbers)’. One might expect following such a confession some self-critical analysis regarding the lack of mobilisation in the midst of the slaughter of the Palestinian people. But no, all charges directed against the demonstrators (90% of the whole protests) are accused of conducting a “war of civilizations.”

At all the demonstrations I participated in Brussels, I asked some demonstrators to translate the slogans that were chanted in Arabic, and they did so with pleasure every time. I heard a lot of support for the Palestinian resistance and denunciation of Arab governments (in particular the Egyptian President Mubarak), Israel’s crimes, and the deafening silence of the international community or the complicity of the European Union. In my opinion, these were all political slogans quite appropriate to the situation. But surely some people only hear Allah-u-akbar and form their opinion on this basis. The very fact that slogans are shouted in Arabic is sometimes enough to irritate the Left. For example, the organizing committee of the meeting of 11 January was concerned about which languages would be used. But could we not have simply distributed the translations of these slogans? This might be the first step towards mutual understanding. When we demonstrated in 1973 against the pro-American military takeover by Pinochet in Chile, no one would have dared to tell the Latin American demonstrators “Please, chant in French!” In order to lead this fight, we all learnt slogans in Spanish and no one was offended.

The problem is really in the parentheses: why do the Left and far Left mobilise such small numbers? And to be clear, are the Left and far Left still able to mobilize on these issues? The problem was already obvious when Israel invaded Lebanon in the summer of 2006. I would like to quote here an anti-Zionist Israeli who took refuge in London, jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who already said, six months before the invasion: “For quite a long time, it has been very clear that the ideology of the Left is desperately struggling to find its way in the midst of the emerging battle between the West and the Middle East. The parameters of the so-called “clash of civilizations” are so clearly established that any “rational” and “atheist” leftist activist is clearly condemned to stand closer to Donald Rumsfeld than to a Muslim.”

One would find it difficult to state the problem more clearly.

I would like to briefly address two issues which literally paralyze the Left in its support to the Palestinian, Lebanese, and more generally to the Arab and Muslim resistance: religion and terrorism.

The Left and Religion

Perplexed by the religious feelings of people with an immigrant background, the Left, Marxist or not, continuously quotes the famous statement of Marx on religion: “religion is the opium of the people”. With this they think everything that needs to be said has been said. It might be more useful cite the fuller quote of Marx and perhaps give it more context. I do this not to hide behind an authority, but in the hope of provoking some thought amongst those who hold this over-simplified view, “Religion is the general theory of this world, (…), its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. (…) The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

(Translation of Prof. W. Banning, Life, Learning and Meaning, 1960, The Spectrum (p.62-63)

I have always been and remain an atheist, but the rise of religious feelings is hardly surprising. In today’s world most politicians, including those on the Left, do little more then display their weakness on this issue: they do nothing against the military power of the US, they do nothing or almost nothing against financial speculation and the logic of profit that plunges billions of people on this Earth into poverty, hunger and death. All this is due we are told to “the invisible hand” or “divine intervention”: where is the difference between this and religion? The only difference is that the theory of the “invisible hand” denies people the right to struggle for social and economical justice against this “divine intervention” that helps to maintain the status quo. Like it or not, we cannot look down on billions of people who may harbour religious feelings while wanting to ally with them.

The Left does exactly the same thing as what it accuses the Islamists of: it analyses the situation only in religious terms. It refuses to disclose the religious expressions as a “protest against misery”, as a protest against Imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. It cuts itself off from a huge part of the masses. Gilad Atzmon expresses it best when he states: “Rather than imposing our beliefs upon others, we better learn to understand what others believe in”. If we continue to refuse to learn, we will continue to lament the religious feelings of the masses instead of struggling with them for peace, independence and social and economic justice.

But there is more. The fate of Islam is very different from that of Christianity. I have never known the Left to hesitate when showing solidarity with the Latin American bishops, followers of liberation theology and the struggle against Yankee Imperialism in the 70s, or the Irish Catholic resistance to British Imperialism. Nor have I known the left to criticize Martin Luther King for his references to the Gospel, which was a powerful lever for the mobilisation of the Black American masses that did not have political, economic or social rights in the U.S in the sixties. This discriminatory treatment by the Left, this systematic mistrust of Muslims who are all without any distinction suspected of wanting to impose sharia law on us, can only be explained by colonialism that has profoundly marked our consciousness. We will not forget that the Communists, such as the Communist Party of Belgium (KPB), praised the benefits of colonization that were enthusiastically spread by Christian missionaries. For example, in the 1948 program of the KPB, when the party had just emerged from a period of heroic resistance against the Nazi occupation, it stated the following about the Belgian Congo: “a) Establishment of a single economic unit Belgium-Congo; b) Development of trade with the colony and realization of its national resources; c) Nationalization of resources and trusts in Congo; d) Development of a white colonists class and black farmers and artisan class; e) Gradual granting of democratic rights and freedoms to the black population.”

It was this kind of political education of workers by the Party which meant that there was hardly any protests from these Belgian workers influenced by the KPB when Patrice Lumumba, Pierre Mulele and many other African anti-imperialist leaders were assassinated. After all “our” Christian civilization is civilized, is it not? And democratic rights and freedoms can only “gradually” be assigned to the masses in the Third World, since they are too barbaric to make good use of them.

On the basis of exactly the same political colonialist reasoning, the Left is rather regretful in having supported democratic elections in Palestine. Perhaps they should have adopted a more gradualist approach towards the Palestinians since the majority of Palestinians have now voted for Hamas. Worse, the Left bemoans the fact that “the PLO was forced to organize parliamentary elections in 2006 at a time when everything showed that Hamas would win the elections”. This information is available on the sites of the French KP and Belgian PVDA.

If we would agree to stop staring blindly and with prejudice at the religious beliefs of people, we would perhaps “learn to understand” why the Arab and Muslim masses, who today demonstrate for Palestine, are screaming ‘Down with Mubarak’, an Arab and Muslim leader, and why they jubilantly shout the name of Chavez, a Christian-Latin American leader. Doesn’t this make it obvious that the Arab and Muslim masses frame their references not primarily through religion but by the relation of leaders to US and Zionist Imperialism?

And if the Left would formulate the issue in these terms, would they not partly regain the support of the people that formerly gave the Left its strength?

Another cause of paralysis of the Left in the anti-imperialist struggle is the fear of being associated with terrorism.

On the 11th of January 2009, the president of the German Chamber of Representatives, Walter Momper, the head of the parliamentarian group of ‘Die Grüne’ (the German Greens), Franziska Eichstädt-Bohlig, a leader of ‘Die Linke’, Klaus Lederer, and others held a demonstration in Berlin with 3000 participants to support Israel under the slogan ‘stop the terror of Hamas’. One must keep in mind that Die Linke are considered by many in Europe as the new and credible alternative Left, and an example to follow.

The entire history of colonisation and decolonisation is the history of land that has been stolen by military force and has been reclaimed by force. From Algeria to Vietnam, from Cuba to South-Africa, from Congo to Palestine: no colonial power ever renounced to its domination by means of negotiation or political dialogue alone.

For Gilad Atzmon it is this context that constitutes the real significance of the barrage of rockets by Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance organizations: “This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message regarding stolen land, homes, fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore”. (Gilad Atzmon – Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land)
What can be understood by an Israeli Jew, the European Left fails to understood, rather they find ’indefensible’ the necessity to take by force what has been stolen by force.

Since 9/11, the use of force in the anti-colonial and the anti-imperialist struggle has been classified under the category of ‘terrorism’; one cannot even discuss it any more. It is worth remembering that Hamas had been proscribed on the list of ‘foreign terrorist organizations’ by the United States in 1995, seven years before 9/11! In January 1995, the United States elaborated the ‘Specially designated terrorist List (STD)’ and put Hamas and all the other radical Palestinian liberation organisations on this list.

The capitulation on this question by a great part of the Western Left started after 9/11, after the launching of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) by the Bush administration. The fear of being classified ‘terrorists’ or apologists of terrorism has spread. This attitude of the Left is not only a political or ideological question, it is also inspired by the practical consequences linked to the GWOT. The European ‘Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on combating terrorism’ and its attached terror list who was a copy-and-paste version of the American terror list that has been incorporated into European legislation, which allow the courts to prosecute those who are suspected of supporting terrorism. During an anti-war rally in London, some activists sold a publication which included Marxist analysis on Hamas were stopped by the police and their magazines were confiscated. In other words, to attempt to inform people on the political program and the action of Hamas and Hezbollah becomes an illegal enterprise. The political atmosphere intimidates people into distancing themselves from these resistance movements and to denounce them without reservations.

In conclusion I have a concrete suggestion to make: we must launch an appeal to remove Hamas from the terror lists. At the same time we must ensure that Hezbollah are not added to the terror list. It is the least we can do if we want to support the Palestinian, Lebanese and Arab resistance. It is the minimal democratic condition for supporting the resistance and it is the essential political condition for the Left to have a chance to be heard by the anti-imperialist masses.

I am fully aware of the fact that my political opinions are a minority in the Left, in particular amongst the European communists. This worries me profoundly, not because of my own fate, I am not more then a militant amongst others, but for the fate of the communist ideal of an end of exploitation of man by man, a struggle which can only happen through the abolition of the imperialist, colonial and neo-colonial system.

Nadine Rosa-Rosso is a Brussels-based independent Marxist. She has edited two books: “Rassembler les résistances” of the French-language journal ‘Contradictions’ and “Du bon usage de la laïcité”, that argues for an open and democratic form of secularism. She can be contacted at nadinerr@gmail.com

http://www.countercurrents.org/rosso110209.htm

This article, which I only found yesterday, thanks to my friend Susanne, is slightly dated by a few weeks, but it is an absolutely astonishing document revealing the behind-the-scenes goings on prior to the current cease-fire in Gaza. Italian journalists of Arabmonitor, the first portal of the Arab World in Italy, have interviewed several of the key players who reveal steps Egypt has taken to block Turkey’s efforts at obtaining a ceasefire, their pressure on Hamas to “declare defeat”, the training of special troops of Dahlan in Egypt for a re-entry into Gaza, and the elation that Abu Mazen felt at the news of the assassinatin of Saed Siyam . Shocking reading….

THE EGYPTIAN NEGOTIATOR SHOUTED AT THE REPRESENTATIVES OF HAMAS: NOBODY IN THE ARAB WORLD CAN AFFORD TO SAY NO TO EGYPT
Damascus, January – The high-level representative of Hamas we had the opportunity to talk to chose to remain anonymous, considering the delicacy of the statements he had to make. With but a few hours into the assassination of Saed Siyam in the Gaza Strip and with equally short time left before the opening of the Arab-Islamic summit hosted by the Emir of Qatar, our interlocutor had been granted only two hours of sleep the previous night and his red-veined, deeply sunken eyeballs tell it all. He reveals to us that it’s not Egypt who is actually negotiating the terms of a cease-fire for Gaza, but Turkey: at least, as far as the demands from the Islamic resistance are concerned.
That is how we get to know that what the delegates of Hamas obtained from Egypt was not a draft for a cease-fire proposal, but a dictate: a lull in fighting for an initial two-weeks period, in order to allow for humanitarian aid to be distributed in the Gaza Strip and during which the terms for a durable long-term cease-fire would be negotiated. Cairo would actually opt for a twenty-years truce, but surely for nothing less than a fifteen-years duration of it, demanding at the same time the resistance to sign up on an unconditional defeat, to renounce armed struggle and refrain from military training for its members, as well as from producing and importing weapons.

During the short-term lull, the two-weeks halt of fire, there would be no opening of border crossings and even humanitarian aid allowed to pass into the Gaza Strip would do so at the discretion of Egypt and Israel.

“We thanked them, but explained that it was unacceptable. General Suleiman (head of the Egyptian intelligence) was furious and shouted: Nobody in the Arab world can afford to say no to Egypt”.

To describe the kind of game Cairo had been playing from early on in the run-up towards the Israeli aggression (starting 27 December), our interlocutor told us that on 26 December the Egyptians asked Hamas to “raise the white flag”, to declare defeat “and then we (the Egyptians) will intervene with the Israelis to guarantee your personal safety”. In any case, during this talk, which took place in the presence of some of Suleiman’s aides, the Egyptian interlocutors assured the Palestinians they had received guarantees from Israel that no military attack against Gaza was on the time-table. “In these three weeks of war there were days in which for periods of up to 48 hours they denied any passage through the Rafah crossing, even to gas canisters urgently needed by the surgical wards of Gaza hospitals.

That’s not all: since about ten days 400 of Mohammad Dahlan’s men (the former strongman of Fatah, the USA and Israel in the Gaza Strip) are guests hosted at an Egyptian military centre in al-Arish (provincial capital of Sinai), where they are being trained by Egyptians”. The plan is for these 400 to return to the Gaza Strip, if not on the back of Israeli tanks, then with the support from Egypt.

In recent days the waters of the Nile began to look very troubled, because Egypt did not appreciate at all the efforts of the Turkish delegation to mediate the terms of a cease-fire. General Suleiman initially even prevented the Turks from meeting the representatives of Hamas, demanding that he himself act as messenger between the two delegations. At a certain point, Ahmed Davotouglu, the senior advisor of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, ran out of patience and the Turkish delegation from Ankara obtained permission to access the Palestinians.

“The Turks went ahead with a quite pragmatic approach. They held out to Suleiman that the Egyptian proposal was, realistically speaking, unacceptable for us and came forward with ideas that would contain guarantees for us as well as for the Israelis. For instance, they proposed to establish a presence of international monitors directly at the crossings, in joint venture with Palestinian forces from the Authority in Gaza, who at the Rafah crossing ­ but only at the Rafah crossing ­ could also consist of a a mixed forces, that is, those of the Palestinian National Authority in addition to our own. According to the Turkish proposal, the international presence would be different from the one set up by the European Union at the Rafah crossing years ago, which practically implemented orders given by Israel through remote control by monitors. According to the new proposal, the forces at the border crossings would act as an independent authority. And again it were the Turks who proposed a time-table of possibly one year for the duration of the cease-fire. We consider Turkey a partner with whom to negotiate, because it has shown much realism”.

Among the key conditions proposed by the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement for a cease-fire there is the demand for a complete and definitive halt of the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, the immediate withdrawal of the invasion troops, who “could withdraw within two hours”, but whose evacuation should be accomplished latest within a couple of days, an end of the siege imposed on the area and the opening of all crossings, foremost of the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

We asked our talks partner to give us his evaluation of Abu Mazen’s performance during the present crisis. “Listen, shortly after the outbreak of the Israeli aggression he was called up on telephone by the Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Ramadan Shallah (who lives in Syria, in exile), asking him to make a gesture and to call Ismail Haniye in Gaza, to find out what was going on. Abu Mazen rejected the plea. We know from absolutely trustworthy sources that yesterday, when news reached them at the Moqata (Abu Mazen’s seat at Ramallah) that Saed Siyam had been killed, the political leaders present, among them Abu Mazen, congratulated themselves and handed out sweets. What could I ever say, at this point?”.

Abu Mazen’s term as President of the Palestinian National Authority has expired on 9 January. “Yes, but given the current circumstances, we don’t want to create additional problems and prefer to suspend the issue until after the end of the war against Gaza, following which, last not least, we must address the task of reconstruction in Gaza”.

Our interlocutor told us that last year, ahead of the Arab League summit in Damascus, Egypt had tried by every means to persuade Palestinian Authority President to boycott the meeting, but Abu Mazen responded: “If I don’t go there, my seat will be occupied by Khaled Meshaal (head of the Political Office of Hamas)”, which was the reason why he went to Damascus (at the recent Arab-Islamic emergency meeting in Doha, from which he remained absent, the seat for the leader representing the Palestinians was indeed occupied by Meshaal).

The Europeans also, who in public always took care to present themselves as “virtuous” in avoiding any contact with Hamas, during the past weeks held more than once talks with the Palestinian Islamic Resistance. “Some of them approached us to express their negative feelings over the fact that we, according to them, refused to abide by the existing cease-fire. When we pointed out to them, that is was in fact Israel who violated the cease-fire by refusing to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, these countries slipped away.

However, three European countries kept the lines open and we are still in contact with them. They offered their help to find a way out of the crisis. I can’t tell you the names of two of them, only that they are European Union members, one of them a leading power, and the other one driven by an ambitious policy. The third one to offer us their help is Norway”.

Nevertheless, on the American front some interesting developments are coming up. Daniel Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Israel, who is quite close to Barack Obama’s team, has met twice “as a private citizen” with Hamas leaders. His aim was to “pick up ideas”. The two talks took place in spring 2008 and then again last November, following Obama’s electoral victory. And then, how could we fail to recall that former US President Jimmy Carter had asked for a personal encounter with Khaled Meshal, and with other figures from the Hamas leadership, in April last year as well as in November.

source:

WRITTEN BY Paul Craig Roberts

According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all to Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.

If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.

The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.

I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination. The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow.

The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders. It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way.

Today every al Qaeda member is aware of the complicity of neoconservatives in the death and devastation inflicted on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover, neocons are highly visible and are soft targets compared to Hamas and Hezbollah leaders. Neocons have been identified in the media for years, and as everyone knows, multiple listings of their names are available online.

Neocons do not have Secret Service protection. Dreadful to contemplate, but it would be child’s play for al Qaeda to assassinate any and every neocon. Yet, neocons move around freely, a good indication that the US does not have a terrorist problem.

If, as neocons constantly allege, terrorists can smuggle nuclear weapons or dirty bombs into the US with which to wreak havoc upon our cities, terrorists can acquire weapons with which to assassinate any neocon or former government official.

Yet, the neocons, who are the Americans most hated by Muslims, remain unscathed.
The “war on terror” is a hoax that fronts for American control of oil pipelines, the profits of the military-security complex, the assault on civil liberty by fomenters of a police state, and Israel’s territorial expansion.

There were no al Qaeda in Iraq until the Americans brought them there by invading and overthrowing Saddam Hussein, who kept al Qaeda out of Iraq.

The Taliban is not a terrorist organization, but a movement attempting to unify Afghanistan under Muslim law. The only Americans threatened by the Taliban are the Americans Bush sent to Afghanistan to kill Taliban and to impose a puppet state on the Afghan people.
   
    *  Hamas is the democratically elected government of Palestine, or what little remains of Palestine after Israel’s illegal annexations. Hamas is a terrorist organization in the same sense that the Israeli government and the US government are terrorist organizations. In an effort to bring Hamas under Israeli hegemony, Israel employs terror bombing and assassinations against Palestinians. Hamas replies to the Israeli terror with homemade and ineffectual rockets.
   
    *  Hezbollah represents the Shi’ites of southern Lebanon, another area in the Middle East that Israel seeks for its territorial expansion.
   
     * The US brands Hamas and Hezbollah “terrorist organizations” for no other reason than the US is on Israel’s side of the conflict. There is no objective basis for the US Department of State’s”finding” that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. It is merely a propagandistic declaration.
    
    *  Americans and Israelis do not call their bombings of civilians terror. What Americans and Israelis call terror is the response of oppressed people who are stateless because their countries are ruled by puppets loyal to the oppressors. These people, dispossessed of their own countries, have no State Departments, Defense Departments, seats in the United Nations, or voices in the mainstream media. They can submit to foreign hegemony or resist by the limited means available to them.
   
    *  The fact that Israel and the United States carry on endless  propaganda to prevent this fundamental truth from being realized indicates that it is Israel and the US that are in the wrong and the Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, and Afghans who are being wronged.
   
    *  The retired American generals who serve as war propagandists for Fox “News” are forever claiming that Iran arms the Iraqi and  Afghan insurgents and Hamas. But where are the arms? To deal with American tanks, insurgents have to construct homemade explosive devices out of artillery shells. After six years of conflict the insurgents still have no weapon against the American helicopter gunships. Contrast this *”arming”* with the weaponry the US supplied to the Afghans three decades ago when they were fighting to drive out the Soviets.
   
    *  The films of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza show large numbers of Gazans fleeing from Israeli bombs or digging out the dead and maimed, and none of these people are armed. A person would think that by now every Palestinian would be armed, every man, woman, and child. Yet, all the films of the Israeli attack show an  unarmed population. Hamas has to construct homemade rockets that are little more than a sign of defiance. If Hamas were armed by Iran, Israel’s assault on Gaza would have cost Israel its helicopter gunships, its tanks, and hundreds of lives of its soldiers.
   
     * Hamas is a small organization armed with small caliber rifles incapable of penetrating body armor. Hamas is unable to stop small bands of Israeli settlers from descending on West Bank Palestinian villages, driving out the Palestinians, and appropriating their land.
   
     * The great mystery is: why after 60 years of oppression are the Palestinians still an unarmed people? Clearly, the Muslim countries are complicit with Israel and the US in keeping the Palestinians unarmed.
   
    *  The unsupported assertion that Iran supplies sophisticated arms to the Palestinians is like the unsupported assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. These assertions are propagandistic justifications for killing Arab civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in order to secure US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.
      
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during US President Reagan’s first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution: An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/067485621X/103-9747828-0329461;
 Alienation and the Soviet Economy
and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of GoodIntentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling theConstitution in the Name of Justice

The rebuilding of Gaza has become the latest siege weapon. The Israeli occupation, the US that had backed its offensive, and the EU which did nothing to stop it are conspiring to turn the reconstruction process into a means to produce a suitable “peace partner” while the Arab summit in Kuwait hopes to use it to bring about Palestinian reconciliation. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) government is urging all parties and others to look to it as the sole channel for administering the construction process on the grounds that it is the government formed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation that is recognised as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Soon we will see that freezing reconstruction will become the tool of all those parties for extracting from the resistance what they have been unable to gain from three weeks of warfare and the long blockade that preceded it.

Israel, the occupying power, is determined to keep a tight grip on the reconstruction process, which is why it sustained its closure of the border crossing following its “unilateral” ceasefire. Indeed, this is why it declared the ceasefire unilaterally: it did not want to be bound by any agreement — the Egyptian initiative or any other framework — that would oblige it to lift the embargo, if only partially, in order to facilitate reconstruction. Tel Aviv has also been seeking to obtain “guarantees” from international agencies such as UNWRA. On 19 January Reuters reported that Western diplomats revealed that Israel had asked the UN and other agencies to submit itemised lists of the goods, equipment and staff that they intend to send into Gaza, whether for urgent relief or for the more long-term reconstruction process. According to these sources, Israel plans to keep close tabs on these processes by insisting that the various agencies obtain its approval in advance for every project. One of the conditions for that approval will be that the project will not benefit Hamas or its government in Gaza. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog as coordinator of the Gaza reconstruction drive.

The US not only fully supports Israel on this; it is open about using the reconstruction process to help the PA reassert its authority and influence in Gaza. The EU is equally frank in its approval. EU External Relations Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner made clear that the EU would not contribute to reconstruction unless Gaza produced a viable peace partner and that it would not make aid available to a government led by Hamas. A high-level European diplomat was reported by Reuters as saying that this was “a recipe for failure”. “Let’s be realistic. If the PA is going to be responsible, its leadership and institutions have to exist on the ground. Right now none of that does,” he said.

It is patently clear that to Tel Aviv, Washington and Brussels the assertion of PA rule over Gaza is the strongest argument for holding off reconstruction as a Damocles sword over Gaza, and for the occupying power this condition is its strongest “guarantee” for sustaining its grip on that sword. The fear now is that Israel and the international powers that have helped it to perpetuate its occupation since 1967 will use a Palestinian façade buttressed by official Arab support to stage a repeat in Gaza of the Iraq experience in the wake of the 1991 war when reconstruction and development were perpetually deferred in order to further weaken the country preparatory to toppling the regime through the invasion that took place in 2003. It may or may not be a coincidence that the Israeli invasion of Gaza ended almost on the same date that the war against Iraq started 18 years ago. Nor does it bode well for the aftermath of a “regime change” scenario in Gaza that Iraq’s infrastructure today, six days after the Saddam regime was toppled, is worse than it was beforehand.

The attempt to engineer such a scenario can be seen in PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s appeal to the Arab summit last week to channel the reconstruction process through the PA and its institutions, an appeal echoed by World Bank President Robert Zoellick who met with Abbas on the fringes of the summit in Kuwait. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and other Western leaders had proposed creating a temporary international committee to oversee the funding and organisation of the reconstruction effort. However, Abbas and his supporters rejected such a mechanism on the grounds that “it presumes that the separation between Gaza and the West Bank will continue,” as acting PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad put it, adding that international donors who are eager to reconstruct Gaza “will risk deepening the Palestinian division by ignoring the role of the PA”.

The PA’s stance, if followed, would condemn Arab pledges made in Kuwait — as well as any pledges made in a possible international conference on the reconstruction of Gaza called for by Egypt, the PA and the EU president — to remain pending until such time as a “viable peace partner” secures a steady seat in Gaza.

Although the participants at the Kuwaiti summit stressed the need for the reconstruction of Gaza in principle, they failed to reach an agreement over the mechanism. Differences between leaders obstructed a proposal to create a reconstruction fund and the most participants managed to agree upon was to make reconstruction contingent upon Palestinian reconciliation, a task they designated to Arab foreign ministers without setting a date or place for a ministerial meeting for this purpose, leaving us with the question as to when and how Arab ministers are to succeed where their heads of state failed.

Of course this procrastination through delegating makes the pledge to reconstruct Gaza barely worth the paper it was written on and will probably consign it to the same oblivion fated for so many other Arab summit resolutions. One of those forgotten resolutions was that adopted by the emergency Arab summit in Cairo in October 2000 calling for the creation of an Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem Fund for the purpose of reconstructing Palestinian infrastructure, especially in the sectors of healthcare, education, agriculture and housing. Apparently Arab leaders in Kuwait did not wish to recall that that resolution did not restrict the distribution of funds through the channel of the PA but also provided for other channels such as UNWRA, the Egyptian and Qatari Red Crescents, the Jordanian Royal Philanthropic Organisation, the UN Arab Gulf Programme and other such regional and international humanitarian agencies. Perhaps, too, they did not want to remind anyone that when that earlier resolution was passed there was no “Hamas problem” behind which are hiding those who do not really want to reconstruct the occupied territories, whether in Gaza or in the West Bank.

The underlying reason why the Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem Fund was not adopted by the Kuwaiti summit as a mechanism for the reconstruction of Gaza is that the urgent humanitarian mission has been politicised whereas it should remain above the political fray between Palestinians, Arabs, foreign powers and everyone else whose voices are loud enough to drown out the appeals of those in need. There is nothing to debate about humanitarian relief. The Israeli offensive destroyed all the civil infrastructure of the government in Gaza on the grounds that it served as bases for Hamas whereas in fact it was PA infrastructure paid for by taxpayers in donor countries. Whole residential quarters were flattened, totally destroying 4,000 homes and severely damaging around 16,000 more. There are now some 100,000 civilians in urgent need of shelter, temporarily accommodated in some 12 refuges opened by UNWRA in schools that were also targeted by Israeli guns and therefore need to be repaired as well. In addition, agricultural land ruined by bombardment has to be reclaimed, potable water needs to be supplied to half a million Palestinians, electricity has to be restored to about the same number of people, and about 80 per cent of the inhabitants of Gaza are in urgent need of food relief (these are all UN estimates). Any political argument for postponing such urgent aid is morally outrageous.

The Israeli list of “prohibited materials” even before its offensive includes such items as iron, steel and cement, which are now absolutely vital to reconstruction. UN Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes pointed out this self-evident truth in a statement last Tuesday saying that if Israel refuses to allow in construction materials reconstruction cannot begin.

It is equally obvious that to adopt the PA as the sole channel for reconstruction financing is to effectively allow the occupying power, which destroyed Gaza, to supervise reconstruction. It is hardly possible to expect the PA, which is at Israel’s every beck and call, to independently and effectively manage the reconstruction process by remote control from Ramallah, let alone release funding for projects without Israel’s prior approval. Remember that President Abbas, himself, pleaded the difficulty of obtaining an Israeli exit permit on short notice as the reason he did not appear at the Doha summit on Gaza, according to Qatari Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamed Ben Jasem Al Thani. Also, only two months ago, Abbas’s government in Ramallah could not disburse salaries to some 70,000 PA government employees who are believed paid to stay home because of the internal Palestinian rift. If, as acting Prime Minister Fayyad repeats on every occasion, the PA is unable to deliver the budgetary allocation to Gaza, which is about half of its total budget, how can that government be relied upon to deliver the funds that have been pledged — or will be pledged — for reconstruction?

Kuwait, for one, acted correctly when instead of waiting for the Arab summit to reach an agreement it donated $34 million directly to UNRWA. Similarly, Norway donated 20 million kroner to organisations capable of reaching civilians directly in Gaza, such as the International Red Cross. Such noble examples confirm the existence of practical, serious channels for meeting urgent humanitarian needs. These should not be made pawn to the demand for the arrival of a Palestinian “peace partner” to Gaza, contrary to the insistence of PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki in Kuwait that everything had to be coordinated with the PA “in all fields” before beginning the relief and reconstruction process. If that demand is met, nothing could be more guaranteed to subject the reconstruction process to the whims of the occupying power and turn it into another way to besiege Gaza in order to bring it to its knees.

* The writer is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit on the West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. This article was translated from Arabic and published by Al-Ahram Weekly, Issue No. 932, 29 January – 4 February 2009.

Source: http://en.timeturk.com/nicola-nasser-gaza-new-siege-mechanism–377-yazisi.html TimeTurk

Rule #1: In the Middle East, it is always the Palestinians that attack first, and it’s always Israel who defends itself. The name of this is “retaliation”.

 

Rule #2: The Palestinians are not allowed to kill Israelis. The name of this is “terrorism”.

 

Rule #3: Israel has the right to kill Palestinian civilians; the name of this is “self-defense” or “collateral damage”.

 

Rule #4: When Israel kills too many Palestinian civilians, the Western world calls for restraint. This is called the “reaction of the international community”.

 

Rule #5: Palestinians do not have the right to capture Israeli military, not even 1 or 2.

 

Rule #6: Israel has the right to capture as many Palestinians as they want (around 10,000 to date being held without trial). There is no limit; there is no need for proof of guilt or a trial. All that is needed is the magic word: “terrorism”.

 

Rule #7: When you say “Hamas”, always be sure to add “supported by Hezbollah, Syria and Iran”.

 

Rule #8: When you say “Israel”, never say “supported by the USA, the UK, European countries and even some Arab regimes”, for people (God forbid) might believe this is not an equal conflict.

 

Rule #9: When it comes to Israel, don’t mention the words “occupied territories”, “UN resolutions”, “Geneva Conventions”. This could distress the audience of Fox, CNN, etc.

 

Rule # 10: The Palestinians are always “cowards” who hide behind a civilian population that “they don’t care about”. If they (militants) sleep in houses with their families, the name of this is: “cowardice”. Israel has the right to annihilate the towns where they sleep using bombs and missiles. The name of this is “high precision surgical action”.

 

Rule #11: Israelis speak better English than Arabs. This is why we let them speak out as much as possible, so that they can explain rules 1 through 9. The name of this is “neutral journalism”.

 

Rule #12: If you don’t agree with these rules or if you favor the Palestinian side over the Israeli side, you must be a very dangerous anti-Semite. You may even have to make a public apology if you express your honest opinion.

 

THIS NAME OF THIS IS: DEMOCRACY!!

(Isn’t democracy wonderful?)

 

Now that you have read the rules (a Spanish language version of them says the author was God, and I’ve translated an Italian version you can read tomorrow on www.tlaxcala.es), see what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lies and Deception has issued in today’s briefing. It’s their denouncement of War Crimes and Death of civilians, of thievery and use of weaponry. Obviously, they project all evil onto their enemies, and here is a classic example of the Hasbara of Israel’s “Good War in a Nutshell”. If you read it, you will see that they are accusing Hamas of all and sundry, War Crimes, even! See how well they apply these rules, going beyond the beyond! They tout about words such as “Truth”, the use of exaggeration and hyperbole alone is staggering, “Eight years of constant rocket barrages”, “I don’t think there’s ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.”,  and the whopper, “…I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be.”

 

Count how many times they use each rule and share your results with the rest of us! Find a few rules that were hidden… in essence, for lovers of science fiction or fairy tales, this genre will be right up your alley.

Behind the Headlines: The truth about Hamas crimes in Gaza

The evidence of Hamas’ war crimes, its exaggeration of civilian casualties and damage to property, its abuse of humanitarian aid and its intimidation of Gaza’s residents are finally coming to light.

Despite Hamas’ best efforts to hide the truth about events in the Gaza Strip, the evidence of Hamas’ war crimes, its exaggeration of civilian casualties and damage to property, its abuse of humanitarian aid and its intimidation of Gaza’s residents are finally coming to light.

Israel knows better than most countries the horrors of war. Eight years of constant rocket barrages targeting Israeli civilians, eight years of trying tactic after tactic to stop these war crimes left Israel with little choice but to invoke its legitimate right of self-defense.

When Israel did strike back against Hamas terror in Gaza, it took unprecedented and innovative steps to try to encourage civilians to avoid Hamas positions, even placing tens of thousands of phone calls warning residents in hazardous areas. As British Colonel (ret.) Richard Kemp commented on the BBC, “I don’t think there’s ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.”

To Israel’s great sorrow, innocent civilians in Gaza have been harmed. However, the figures of civilian casualties have been greatly exaggerated. Most of these figures come from Hamas sources, amplifying the number of civilians killed by including as “children” teenage Hamas fighters and as “women,” female terrorists. According to an Israeli investigation, of the 1,100-1,200 reported casualties, 250 were civilians. The rest are believed to be terrorists or have yet to be identified, but given that most of them are young men in their 20s, it is not unreasonable to assume that they are also members of Hamas or other terrorist organizations.

Hamas is responsible, both morally and under international law, for many of the dead and injured civilians. This terrorist organization deliberately used the local population as human shields, a war crime. Civilian structures were used as launching pads for rockets, a tactic that is extremely hazardous to residents. Civilians were prevented, at gunpoint, from fleeing the sites of battles and even children have been grabbed to be used as living bulletproof vests. Even ambulances were not safe from hijacking attempts by terrorists, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of battle to transport Hamas terrorists to safety.

Property damage, while sizeable, has also been exaggerated. As Tim Butcher, a journalist intimately familiar with the Gaza Strip reported (Telegraph, Jan 20): “There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes… But, in most the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt… For the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be.”

Hamas’ rocket attacks, which continued throughout the operation, constituted a double war crime. Not only were they aimed at about 15% of Israel’s civilian population, they were cynically carried out from locations immediately adjacent to homes, schools, hospitals, relief agency warehouses, mosques, public buildings – as well as from the office building that housed foreign media studios. These reprehensible acts were documented not only in Israeli aerial films, but by the international media.

As Rod Nordland (Newsweek, Jan 20) described one event, “Suddenly there was a terrific whoosh, louder even than a bomb explosion. It was another of Hamas’s homemade Qassam rockets being launched into Israel – and the mobile launchpad was smack in the middle of the four [apartment] buildings, where every apartment was full…”

Lorenzo Cremonesi (Corriere della Sera, Jan 21) relates the testimony of “Um Abdallah”:  “Practically all of the tallest buildings in Gaza that were hit by Israeli bombs … had rocket launching pads on their roofs, or were observation decks for the Hamas. They had also put them near the big UN warehouse, which went up in flames.”

Many of Gaza’s residents are now returning home. Some have found weapons left behind by Hamas terrorists who turned their homes into forward positions against the IDF, or worse, bodies of terrorists killed during the fighting. Many blame Hamas for the loss of life and property damage caused by Hamas’ practice of hiding among the civilian population. However, critical as they are of the Hamas regime in private, few, if any, residents of Gaza will accuse Hamas publically, a move that is tantamount to suicide.

An official Fatah spokesman in Ramallah (Jerusalem Post, Jan 19) reported that 100 of his men in Gaza have been killed or wounded, some brutally tortured, by Hamas. A Fatah leader in Gaza City claimed that members of his faction were being held in school buildings and hospitals that Hamas had turned into make-shift interrogation centers, and as many as 80 were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for allegedly defying Hamas’ orders (see also video of Fatah testimonials about Hamas).

Ulrike Putz (Der Spiegel, Jan 23) managed to interview Palestinians who were not too intimidated by Hamas to speak (as long as their full names were not used): “Hail found out after the cease-fire that the militants had used his house as a base for their operations. The door to his house stood open and there were electric cables lying in the hallway. When Hail followed them they led to his neighbor’s house which it seems Hamas had mined. As Hail, in his mid-30s, sat on his porch and thought about what to do a man came by: He was from Hamas and had left something in Hail’s home. He let him in and the man then emerged with a bullet proof vest, a rocket launcher and an ammunitions belt. An hour later a fighter with Islamic Jihad called to the door, then disappeared onto the roof and reappeared with a box of ammunition.” 

Israel has a strong interest in the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip and will work together with the international community and moderate Arab regimes to improve the lives of Gaza’s residents. However, caution most be exercised to ensure that the aid does not end up in Hamas’ pockets.

This is not unwarranted wariness – Hamas has a long history of stealing humanitarian aid for its own use, even while the operation was ongoing. As Yaacov Katz reported (Jerusalem Post, Jan 12), “Hamas raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders.”     Earlier (Jerusalem Post, Jan 6) Mr. Katz related that “Hamas has set up an independent hospital in the Gaza Strip to treat its operatives wounded in fighting with the IDF – and, according to Israeli estimates, it is pilfering a significant portion of the medicine allowed into the Strip…”  

These reports are not only coming in from Israeli sources. Jordan’s News Agency (Petra, Jan 20) reported on the hijacking of humanitarian aid on its way to UNWRA warehouses in Gaza for distribution to the civilian population: “A number of armed men have seized on Tuesday a Jordanian aid convoy after entering the Gaza Strip… The armed men opened fire at drivers after crossing Karem Abu Salem [Kerem Shalom] crossing point and forced them to head to their own warehouses.”

Hamas’ hijacking of humanitarian aid is not only ethically repulsive, it is extraordinary given that Hamas is attempting to claim that the motive for its  rocket attacks is to force the opening of the crossings. This assertion is, of course, preposterous given that the rocket fire started eight years ago, when there was free trade with Gaza and continued after Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Hamas’ constant and deadly rocket, mortar, truck-bomb and shooting attacks on the crossings are one of the prime reasons for their closing.

The complexities of fighting terrorist organizations are becoming more familiar to democratic states, including NATO forces in Afghanistan. A British soldier who served there analyzed the IDF’s activities in light of his experience and noted (The Spectator, Jan 24) that “I believe that I and other soldiers understand the stress, friction and confusion that combat brings in a way that media commentators and UN bureaucrats never can.”

However, one principle is clear to any unbiased analyst – as long as Israel, and not Hamas, is blamed for civilian casualties and property damage, Hamas will continue to use civilians as human shields and violate every basic rule of international humanitarian law.

As Nir Boms, vice president of the Center for Freedom in the Middle East, and Shayan Arya an Iranian activist, wrote (Jerusalem Post, Jan 28), “War, even when justified, brings much injustice with it. But there is also an important lesson to be learned, and a hope that this time it will not be completely missed by the rioting Arab street… The Palestinian discourse often fails to address the question of responsibility and accountability for Palestinian choices, decisions and leadership.” The Palestinians in Gaza must accept and take responsibility for the consequences of the Hamas leaders they chose.

Fortunately, the truth is starting to come to light. Even a senior European Union official – Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid – denounced Hamas, not only stating (AFP, Jan 26) during his visit to Gaza: “I intentionally say this here – Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such,” but also concluding that: “At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas” for the conflict in Gaza.

Soon after we had seen a unilateral ceasefire from Israel followed by the withdrawal of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) after a 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip, we hear the usual two sides of the story, from both Israel and Hamas, each one claiming that Victory was on its Side and all goals were achieved. Either by “Eliminating Hamas Infrastructures and putting an end to the weapon smuggling through underground tunnels” or by “Showing that Hamas Militants stood still facing the state-of-the-Art destructive ‘American-made’ technology by the hands of the Zionists” and how it was able with it’s humble capabilities to push IDF back with bare hands renewing the memory of Israel Defeat in the minds of those who witnessed the Lebanon War in 2006.

Whether Hamas or Israel won, it would matter no more. After all, thousands of Civilians have paid the price in this war, fed their innocent blood to the barrels of the Israeli machine guns and the Zionist bloodthirsty grenades and missiles.

While War Crimes were committed in Gaza, Countries were silently watching it on the media screens and when they decided to act positively towards this horrible situation, they decided to watch some more. Each country (whether, Arab or non-Arab) carrying its hidden agenda, shutting every spokesmen’s mouth from speaking out the truth supporting the weak Gazans.

It was not a surprise for us to see former President Bush behaving gloatingly, invoking the mendacious mantra that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” No wonder his era was the bloodiest since Roman times. Neither are we expecting Obama to change the unjust statements that come from the White House. Unfortunately, as Khaled Amayreh said, “the American political environment is too morally barren, Zionist soaked to produce truly moral politicians who would be willing, let alone able, to call the spade a spade, especially when the Zio-Nazi state is concerned.”
Neither was it a surprise to see Egypt has, to some extent, used this conflict, certainly seen it, as a means of weakening Hamas and bringing Mahmud Abbas [the Palestinian President, also known as Abu Mazen] back to a ruling position in Gaza. Since he always played the “good boy” role regarding so-called peace talks with the Zionist state. Not to mention on 06/20/07, Hamas gunmen stormed the Fatah security compounds in Gaza discovering something far more valuable than some American-made weapons and grenades — CIA files which purportedly contain “information about the collaboration between Fatah and the Israeli and American security organizations; CIA methods on how to prevent attacks, chase and follow after cells of Hamas and their Committees; plans about Fatah assassinations of members of Hamas and other organizations; and American studies on the security situation in Gaza.” So eventually Israel had created a pretty good doll to play with to eliminate all the pockets of resistance.

On the controversy, Israel with this attack failed to weaken the ties of loyalty between the Palestinian citizens and Hamas; One of its unfulfilled primary goals was to weaken Hamas’ reputation in Gaza, starting with an absolute Siege preventing any basic supplies from entering to the civilians. Then after the siege was met with complete failure and Gazans bravely stood strong and showed the Zionists they are ready to take more for the sake of free Palestine, the military attack started adding more cuts to the unhealed wounds and more Death to the terminally ill.

We saw many Palestinian demonstrations in the West Bank and even inside Jerusalem supporting the Palestinian Resistance. With no doubt Gazans are more loyal to Hamas than before.

And this only shows that Israel kept on ignoring THE FACT, that there is a big difference between trying to eliminate a group of rebellious militiamen that could be thrown in the cages of surrender by military force and a movement based on a Religious Ideology which had been planted in Palestinian soil for decades, its roots reach deep inside the hearts of Palestinians. Every time trials are made to remove it, it even grows more strong, blossoming it’s Fruits sweeter than ever. And what Israel also learned is the more it presses on the so-called Moderate Arabic leaders, the more the Gap between them and their streets increase. This street rage in the Arabic world will swallow them before their own leaders like “Youssry Fouda” has mentioned in his recent article.

After this Crisis we have witnessed two major outcomes.

(1) If there is a bright spot of hope for Palestinians in the horrific aggressiveness of the last few weeks, it is that Israel’s deployment of disproportionate and blind, indiscriminate violence in Gaza has revealed the abnormality, brutality and pro-Terrorist nature of the occupation for millions of people, especially in the western world, who previously had been unable to perceive it due to the pro-Zionist Media washing the blood from the faces of the Israeli spokesmen before appearing on the news channels.

(2) It was a reckoning day for the Arab and Western Leaders, Arab and International states where all masks were removed and true faces were revealed regarding their devotion/deception, truthfulness/treason, hatred/hope towards a free Palestine for Palestinians.

 

 

WRITTEN BY KHALID AMAYREH – The meeting in Cairo on Monday 26 January, between a Hamas representative and Fatah leader Azzam al Ahmed is a glimmer of hope for millions of Palestinians and their allies who are hoping and praying for a speedy end of the enduring rift between the two biggest political camps in the Palestinian arena.

 

Though symbolic and procedural in nature, the meeting shows that the problems between the two sides can be overcome if both sides display good-will and especially if the Ramallah regime ends its ignominious subservience to Israel and the United States.

 

Needless to say, the rift has wreaked havoc on the reputation of the just Palestinian cause and caused many bleeding wounds to our people, the scars of which will take a long time to heal.

 

However, we are still one people, feeling the same pain, languishing under the same hateful occupation, and harboring the same hopes for freedom and justice.

 

But in order to reach a lasting national harmony, we need to be honest and frank, and refrain from trying to negate the other side.  This is so because neither Hamas nor Fatah will go away or evaporate into nonexistence.

 

There is no doubt that a great calamity has hit our people in the Gaza Strip. But by no means was that evil aggression  a victory for Israel unless the Zio-Nazi entity views the mass killing of innocent civilians and the mass destruction of residential homes and public buildings as an act of heroism.

 

Well, if so, then we would have to view Adolf Hitler as the greatest hero of all times.

 

Nonetheless, we should refrain from whipping ourselves too much or trying to score propaganda points one against the other.

 

Israel did try to decapitate Hamas, destroy its legitimate government (legitimate because Hamas was elected by the Palestinian people) and give the Gaza Strip back to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas on a sliver platter.

 

The fact that Israel couldn’t achieve the criminal goal was not due to Israeli magnanimity. Zionists are too thuggish and too criminal minded to know the meaning of magnanimity. After all, magnanimity requires at least a modicum of humanity and Zionism has none of that.

 

In truth, Hamas and other Palestinian resistance factions earned this spectacular steadfastness, this legendary resoluteness, in the face of overwhelming criminality, hideousness and firepower.

 

Hence, one can only view with utter contempt the cheap canards and calumnies coming out of Ramallah and accusing the resistance of responsibility for the widespread death and destruction in Gaza, as if the murderous pilots who were raining bombs and missiles and white phosphorous on the heads of our children and civilians were members of Hamas, not Israeli war criminals.

 

To be sure, such cheap accusations are made by two categories of people, ignoramuses who don’t know the facts, and bona fide traitors who are doing Israel’s work.

 

The former can be somehow forgiven by virtue of their ignorance or stupidity. However, the latter are willful Judases who ought to be silenced and punished. And if the time is not conducive to dealing with them the proper way, they should be isolated in disgrace.

 

This should be one of Hamas’s key tasks in the coming weeks and months. Otherwise, the Fifth columnists within Fatah and the PA, the very people who committed national adultery in broad daylight by collaborating with the Shin Beth and the CIA for the purpose of raping the Palestinian people’s will and achieving America’s morbid goals in this tortured part of the world, will continue to create mischief and try to rock the collective Palestinian boat.

 

These must be ejected, isolated, exposed, disgraced, and made to pay for their treachery and perfidy.

 

But Fatah is not a movement of traitors, and it is not in the Palestinian people’s interests to see Fatah catapulted into the laps of the likes of Muhammed Dahlan, Nimr Hammad and al-Tayeb Abdul Rahim who probably were dreaming, even loudly, of an Israeli victory in Gaza.

 

Hence, it is both right and wise for Hamas to get closer to true patriots within Fatah. And the time to do that is now.

 

There is no doubt that despite the enormity of the genocidal Zionist blitzkrieg against our people in Gaza, Hamas has not only managed to remain intact, but has also earned overwhelming respect and admiration from around the world.

 

Hamas shouldn’t treat lightly this earned outpouring of support which many movements, parties and governments even dream of receiving a fraction of.

 

In this light, Hamas should show enlightened flexibility toward re-establishing national unity.

 

It is this national unity that will eventually dump the government of Fayadh into the dustbin of history and do away with the whoring practice known as “security coordination.”

 

The restoration of national unity will also impose an early retirement on people like Keith Dayton and other CIA officers who have taught hundreds, if not thousands, of our beguiled and naïve young sons that the enemy is Hamas, not the Zionist thugs who have just murdered and maimed thousands of our children and civilians in the Gaza Strip and who have been stealing our land and narrowing our horizons.

 

In the Quran, God orders Muslims to refrain from falling into disunity and internal conflicts.

 

In Surat al Anfal, God says: “ And obey God and His Messenger and fall not into disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For God stands with those who patiently persevere.” Of all Palestinian factions, Hamas should understand this best.

 

Amen!

Song by The Dark Bob: