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Home arrow Blog arrow January 2009 arrow January 18, 2009

January 18, 2009
WAWA Blog January 18, 2009: A Crescendo of Voices of Conscience Up Against The Empire Statement by Mr. Max Gaylard, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory
 
16 January 2009
 
Yesterday witnessed the most intense fighting to date in the Gaza Strip, with Israeli ground forces advancing deeper into densely populated areas, particularly Gaza City with an estimated population of 500,000 people. Intense Israeli shelling hit the main UNRWA compound in Gaza City and three hospitals - Al Wafa, Al Fata, and Al Quds. Two ambulances were also hit by Israeli fire. The Al-Quds hospital was surrounded by Israeli forces and the administrative and pharmacy buildings of the hospital were shelled and badly damaged. Fires broke out and all of the patients and staff were evacuated.  The patients were later transferred to Shifa hospital.
 
This is not the first time that Gazan health facilities have been attacked and damaged. Sixteen health facilities have been damaged and sixteen ambulances have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the Israeli military operation on 27 December 2008 and 13 health workers have been killed and 22 have been injured. Medical relief workers face extremely dangerous conditions when trying to reach injured Palestinians in combat zones or areas made inaccessible by the Israeli army. Densely populated Palestinian areas have been turned into combat zones, causing significant risk to the civilian population, including hospitals, medical facilities and emergency relief workers. 
 
The dangers posed by Israeli bombardment and fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants compound the already difficult situation of the Gaza health system.  Hospitals are already overwhelmed due to the volume of injured Palestinians and the severity of their wounds. There is limited space in Intensive Care Units, shortages of staff, medicines, equipment, power and clean water.
 
The situation for hospitals, medical workers and the injured in Gaza is alarming and deteriorating. Hospitals must be protected and remain neutral areas under any circumstances. Civilians and the injured must have access to medical care.
 
Violations of international humanitarian law by one party to a conflict offer no justification for non-compliance by other parties. Allegations of violations must be fully investigated and those responsible held to account.
 
For further information contact: 
 
Richard Miron                                       
Chief Public Information Officer, UNSCO
Mobile: + 972 545627825
Office: +972 25687892
 
United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Mac House
P.O. Box 38712

Israel, US Foil UN Condemnation: Diplomats work together to prevent Security Council statement slamming Jewish state for UNRWA building strike
By Yitzhak Benhorin

January 16, 2009 "YNet" -- WASHINGTON – Israel and the US succeeded in preventing a United Nations announcement condemning the Jewish state for its strike on a UN compound in Gaza Thursday. The condemnation was proposed by Britain among other countries.

The announcement was scheduled to be released to the press by current Security Council President, French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert. Instead, Ripert made a public speech calling on both sides to cease their fire, according to UN Resolution 1860.

EU ambassadors initiated the council meeting following the IDF strike on an UNRWA compound in Gaza earlier Thursday. The meeting was intended to end with the issue of an announcement declaring Israel responsible for the situation in Gaza.

Israeli diplomats alerted US diplomats to the intention, and the latter transferred Israel's response to the Security Council while the meeting proceeded – which caused the council to disperse without a concrete resolution.

Israel's deputy ambassador to the UN, Danny Carmon, told Ynet that "this is the first time we have succeeded in thwarting an attempt to act against us thanks to reliable firsthand information received from the Foreign Ministry and the IDF."

At least three people were injured in the IDF attack on the UNRWA compound. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apologized for the incident before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but stressed that IDF forces were attacked from the building before it was hit.


http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21779.htm

Physicians for Human Rights protest and supplies halted

Over 300 members and supporters of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) set out to accompany an emergency delivery of medical supplies to the Gaza Strip on Friday in protest at the current Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

PHR-Israel has already sent four convoys of much-needed aid to the hospitals of the Gaza Strip. Donations from hundreds of individuals and organisations, both locally and worldwide, from Muslims, Jews and Christians have funded these convoys.

PHR-Israel called on its supporters to accompany the fifth delivery of emergency medical supplies to the transfer at Kerem Shalom crossing, and to hold a demonstration there.

‘We wanted simply to say that we do not support our government’s actions in Gaza and that the only way to ensure safety for civilians is an immediate ceasefire. We oppose the killing of civilians, the attacks on medical teams and the obstructions in getting medical care to the wounded,’ says Miri Weingarten of PHR-Israel.

Three buses left Tel Aviv and others left from Jerusalem, Taybeh and Beersheba. Most of the buses were turned back by the Israeli authorities at roadblocks set up well before the crossing.

‘We were turned back. It’s so frustrating because there were so many people who wanted to join the quiet and peaceful accompaniment of medical supplies to the border with Gaza and we were not allowed to do this,’ says Ms Weingarten.

Instead, the PHR-Israel supporters held the demonstrations in front of the Israeli Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv and at the Yad Mordechai Junction, just north of Gaza.

‘The amazing thing was that many of our demonstrators were from the southern areas of Israel that have been worst affected by the rockets from Gaza. They were really taking the lead in discussions with the police.

‘They were saying “I am from Sderot and I do not believe that this operation improves my safety”. Joining together with them was a really great feeling, they were really amazing. It was also good, as they know all the regulations and were able to talk to the police as equals about the legality of demonstrations and public gatherings,’ says Ms Weingarten.

About an hour after the demonstrations had begun, two trucks carrying intensive care beds, equipment and supplies, medical equipment for operating rooms, and food were allowed to unload at Kerem Shalom crossing. All the supplies, worth about US$ 500,000, were sent to hospitals in Gaza.

‘We are asking people in the UK to understand that not everyone in Israel supports what is happening. We are asking them to tell others that there are many people in Israel who do not believe that these attacks improve Israel’s security, and who believe that the only way to peace is to stop all violence on both sides.

‘The only way to ensure safety for civilians is a ceasefire and the only way to get a ceasefire is international political intervention. Civilians around the world must encourage their governments to intervene,’ says Ms Weingarten.


Forwarded by Sam Bahour
From the Los Angeles Times

Israel TV news broadcasts a Gaza father's heartbreak

Dr. Izz el-Deen Aboul Aish, who gave frequent interviews to the Israeli media, was minutes away from giving another when he called newscaster Shlomi Eldar, screaming and weeping with grief.

By Jeffrey Fleishman and Batsheva Sobelman
Reporting from Jerusalem

January 17, 2009

See YouTube VIDEO
Israeli TV airs telephone call to father after children killed -English
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUh6xVlndhM  (4:13min)

It was a voice of anguish that pierced a nation.

Israeli TV broadcast a father's heartbreak Friday night when a Palestinian doctor living in Gaza made a frantic phone call to a newscaster saying an Israeli tank had shelled his home, killing three of his daughters and injuring other family members.

Izz el-Deen Aboul Aish, who speaks Hebrew, worked as a gynecologist in an Israeli hospital. Even as the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel had largely been closed in recent months, he had traveled frequently from one place to the other. But he had remained in Gaza since the Israeli offensive began 21 days ago. He gave frequent interviews to the Israeli media on living conditions in the seaside enclave. He spoke of having tanks around his house and of passing through checkpoints; he told Israelis what it was like to be Palestinian.

Minutes away from a scheduled phone interview on Israeli TV 10 with newscaster Shlomi Eldar, Aboul Aish called Eldar's cellphone, screaming and weeping in Arabic and Hebrew. The doctor's home had been struck by a shell:

"Oh God, oh my God, my daughters have been killed. They've killed my children. . . . Could somebody please come to us?"

Sitting at his news desk for one of Israel's main evening news broadcasts, Eldar held his phone up. For three minutes and 26 seconds, Aboul Aish's wailing was broadcast across the country.

Eldar welled up. He put his head down. He looked at the camera. He looked at his phone. He made pleas for helpfor the family, but the doctor kept crying, his voice scratchy, like sand on paper, until Eldar took out his earpiece and walked off the set to try to arrange for help. The newscaster's bewildered face seemed to capture a bit of pause in a nation that has largely supported its military campaign and prefers not to question its course.

News reports said there had been shooting in the area of the doctor's house before the shelling. The Israeli military had no immediate comment.

Israeli officials permitted ambulances carrying members of the doctor's family to cross the border to a hospital.

Aboul Aish was a single father. His wife had died of cancer. He made his daughters sleep close to the walls of their home in hopes that would keep them safe if airstrikes or artillery collapsed the ceiling.

"I don't know how this man will stand on his feet again after this tragedy," Dr. Liat Lerner- Geya, an Israeli who worked with Aboul Aish, told the Hebrew-language news website Ynet. "He would come to Israel and sleep at friends' houses for three nights. Even though he had all the necessary permits, they always gave him trouble at the crossings. But he believed there should be coexistence and practiced this in his work."

After the newscast, Eldar met with reporters. He said the doctor told him that evening "that since his wife's passing, the girls had been his entire life. He said his eldest daughter wanted to study at Haifa University. Just today another one of his daughters had told him she had gotten her period. 'In the middle of a war you get your period. You are a woman now.' "

She and her sisters are dead. The news spread across Israel's websites; the video of the doctor’s broadcast quickly made it to YouTube.

Eldar said of Aboul Aish: "It is simply surreal. He is part of this place yet not of it, belonging and not belonging."

Even so, across Israel the doctor's anguished voice kept playing over and over.



Sobelman works in The Times' Jerusalem Bureau.

Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-gaza-doctor-death17-2009jan17,0,4395549.story





The Jailer State

Israel has turned Gaza into a massive prison, and is choosing to prolong the cycle of state terror and prisoner resistance that goes with that, writes Israeli academic Oren Yiftachel

"We have a great opportunity now in Gaza to smash and flatten them…[We] should destroy thousand of houses, tunnels and industries, and kill as many terrorists as possible…"

So declared Eli Yishai, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, a few days ago. On the same day Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni promised "to topple the Hamas Regime", and Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert demanded in every forum to "hermetically seal" the Gazan-Egyptian border.

These, and many similar statements by Israeli leaders, sketch in painful clarity the "political geography of mass incarceration" increasingly evident in Israel/Palestine. Under this regime large populations are locked into specific areas against their will, and often against international law, and are then subject to the mercy of their wardens. Typically, when the conditions of imprisonment become unbearable, a rebellion erupts, and is suppressed by violent collective punishment, which in turn sets the conditions for the next uprising.

This is how Israel is now treating its rebelling prisoners in Gaza. As its leaders’ statements show, Israel seeks to lock them in the tiny strip and punish them with enormous force. At the same time Israel is further institutionalising the geography of incarceration and with it the likelihood of future uprisings.

This is not a new phenomenon, nor is it peculiar to the Palestinian situation: European colonialism widely used mass incarceration of indigenous groups, condensing them in reserves and Bantustans, to enable whites to freely exploit land, minerals and labour. Today too, racist governments attempt to deal with the existence of unwanted populations by applying methods of spatial containment and violent "punishment", as evident in the cases of Chechnya, Kosovo, Kashmir, Darfur and Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. The key to this spreading political order is the prevention of the rebelling region from gaining state sovereignty, leaving it "neither in nor out" of the state’s control system. As a non-state entity, resistance of the jailed against colonial power is often criminalised, leading the state’s self-righteous claim that it has no choice but to further oppress the anti-colonial struggle.

Importantly, the mass incarceration strategy is usually not the preferred option. It is typically employed only when the colonial power has lost some of its ability to settle and control the land by other, softer, means, and when the option of ethnic cleansing has become too embarrassing or unpopular. Much to the regret of racist regimes, this is the situation today. Hence, mass incarceration remains one of the main policy options for colonial states aiming to dominate indigenous populations.

Back to Israel/Palestine: Gaza had turned into an open-air jail by the late 1940s when over 150,000 Palestinian refugees were driven by Israel into the small region (covering just 1.7 per cent of British Palestine), joining its 60,000 previous residents. The refugees were never allowed to return to their lands and homes which were confiscated and destroyed. Ironically, it was during the "peace process" of the early 90s that the incarceration of Gaza intensified, with a sequence of closures, movement restrictions and the construction in 1994 of a massive barrier around the Strip. Following the 2005 disengagement and the election of Hamas, Israel’s illegal siege around the area was taken up a notch with a near-total blockade of movement and trade.

Gaza is a severe case, but it’s not unique. Since its establishment, Israel’s ethnocratic regime has worked incessantly to Judaise the country by confiscating Palestinian lands, constructing hundreds of Jewish settlements and restricting the Palestinians to small enclaves. This began with the military government inside the Green Line [1] until 1966, and the establishment of a "fenced area" for the Bedouins in the south, which operates until today. Since the 1990s, the ghettoisation of Palestinians continued with the demarcation of areas A, B and C [2] in the occupied territories, with the advent of closures and checkpoints, and finally with the construction of the wall — all helping to fragment Palestine into dozens of isolated enclaves.

The long-term geographical impact of the Judaisation policy has been dramatic. For example, the Palestinians in Israel, constitute 18 per cent of the population, but control less than 3 per cent of the land. In the entire area between Jordan and sea, the population is just under 50 per cent Palestinian, but they control only 13 per cent of the land. Critically however, Judaisation seems to have reached its limits, and since the Oslo period Israel has been re- arranging its colonial geography to fit that realisation.

The difference between Gaza and the other enclaves is the depth of its isolation and its persistent rebellion. The Hamas leadership never accepted the Oslo illusion, or the promise of "two states for two people" enshrined in the "roadmap" or the "Annapolis process". They have realised that the promise has become an empty rhetoric which enables the ongoing colonisation of their lands. In the meantime, the promised Palestinian state has become fragmented, suffocated and impoverished.

And what has been Israel’s response to this crisis? The deepening of mass incarceration, "necessitated" to protect Jewish settlement, maintaining at the same time a massive campaign of personal incarceration, during which Israel has arrested over 10,000 people, and imprisoned them without trials, a group which includes dozens of Palestinian parliamentarians. The incarceration policy has thus resulted in the creation of prisons within prisons.

While the geography of incarceration is typically explained as a security measure, its appeal is also increasing for economic reasons. During the current age of globalisation, personal, commercial and financial movement has become essential for development and prosperity. The geography of mass incarceration helps to keep the unwanted outside the riches of this process. Therefore, the ongoing fortification around Gaza, including the current invasion, also put in place a system of protecting Jewish economic privileges.

Palestinian violence plays an important part in the creation of this geography, through the hostile dialectic between coloniser and colonised. For example, the shelling of Israeli civilians by Hamas and suicide bombing of previous years are clear acts of terror, which gave legitimacy within Israeli society to carry out the incarceration policy. But Palestinian violence, and particularly the shelling from Gaza should also be perceived as a prison uprising, currently suppressed with terror by the Israeli state, which kills many more civilians and creates infinitely more damage than the initial act of resistance. This is the cycle of suppression, resistance and suppression maintained through the which exists within a geography of incarceration

It is important to note, however, that the option of rebellion only intensifies the punishment and killing, but not the basic geography of imprisonment. Hence, even after the current invasion is over, Israel will undoubtedly continue to use this strategy in both Gaza and the (non-rebelling) West Bank, and in softer forms inside the Green Line, where Israel’s Palestinian citizens are also contained in small enclaves. I have termed this process "creeping apartheid" — an undeclared yet powerful political order which creates vastly unequal forms of citizenship under one ruling power. Rights under such regimes are determined by a combination of ethnic affiliation and place of birth. This cannot be illustrated more vividly than by noting the differences in mobility and property rights — Jews are free to move and purchase land in almost the entire area under Israeli control, while Palestinians are limited to separated enclaves — Gazans in Gaza only, Jerusalemites only in Jerusalem and so on.

This type of political geography tends to result in a chain of absurdities. Here is one: the invasion and destruction of Gaza is carried out by an ousted Israeli Government, and is actively supported by a defeated US Administration. The two governments which lost power are violently attacking in their dying days the democratically elected Government of Palestine. This leads to the next absurdity: instead of condemning and placing sanctions on Israel, which has put Gaza under siege for the last two years, the world has imposed sanctions over the Hamas Government. In this way the occupied are punished twice: once by the brutal occupation, and a second time attempting to resist.

Sadly, these absurdities are not surprising, being part of the geography of mass incarceration, under which the colonial power will recognise the prisoners’ leadership only if they refrain from rebelling against their incarceration, as is currently the case with the Abbas regime in the West Bank. In the case of a rebellion, however, its leaders are likely to be oppressed and often eliminated.

What may be slightly (but not entirely) more surprising is that Israeli leadership and society have not learnt from history that a geography of mass incarceration exists on borrowed time. Such as geography can never receive legitimacy, and hence cannot create security for the jailing side. On the contrary, instability and constant rebellions are likely to undermine the incarcerating regime itself.

To conclude, against the reality of mass incarceration, it may be advisable to listen to Mahmoud Darwish’s [3] wise words: "My prison guard looks me in the eye/ I can see his fear/ Like me, he knows that/ today’s warden is already tomorrow’s prisoner.

Source URL: http://newmatilda.com/2009/01/12/jailer-state 

Links:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Line_(Israel)
[2] http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/view.php?recordID=1592
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Darwish
[4] http://newmatilda.com/2009/01/09/israel-gone-too-far
[5] http://newmatilda.com/2009/01/08/world-gives-israel-green-light

Professor Oren Yiftachel teaches political geography and urban planning at Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba. Yiftachel has written extensively on the political geography of ethnic conflict. Among his books are: Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine (2006, PennPress), and Israelis in Conflict (ed, 2004, Sussex Academic Press). He is an occasional contributor to Israel's leading newspapers Haaretz and Ynet. Yiftachel is an active member in several peace and civil society organizations, including B'tselem, the Bedouin Council of unrecognized villages, Adva and is a founding member of Faculty for Israel-Palestine Peace (FFIPP).



Fresh evidence of Israeli phosphorus use in Gaza emerges
Richard Norton-Taylor
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 17 January 2009 00.18 GMT


Fresh evidence of the firing of white phosphorus weapons by Israeli forces in Gaza has emerged from witnesses heard by the Guardian and first hand accounts by human rights groups of their use against civilians.

Graphic descriptions of attacks by Israeli forces near the Gaza town of Khan Younis are contained in footage shot by Fida Qishta for the International Solidarity Movement and obtained by the Guardian.

A woman described how on Tuesday Israeli forces "started to fire phosphorus bombs against the people, of course, they are civilians ..."

A man added: "A fire broke out and we have to leave out. Fires broke out on the top of the houses. We all jumped out with our women and daughters put off the fire. They were doing that, to help the special forces to occupy the houses. after we put off the fires, they started to shoot towards us. Then they started to raze the houses".

He said the fires were caused by phosphorus bombs and missiles.
Israeli artillery also fired white phosphorus shells at Gaza City, Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch, said yesterday.

Three white phosphorus shells were fired at the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City on Thursday, according to people there.

Phosphorus shells burst in the air billowing white smoke before dropping the phosphate shell. Each shell contain more than 100 wavers which, when ignited, pump out smoke for about 10 minutes.

Contact with the shell remnants cause severe burns, sometimes burning the skin to the bone, consistent with descriptions by Ahmed Almi, the Egyptian doctor at the Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis after attacks last Tuesday. Almi said after an hour the entire body of one victim was burned.

Chemicals in smoke produced by white phosphorus shells and burning chemical particles can cause severe respiratory problems.

According to the report from the International Solidarity Movement, many patients at the Khan Younis hospital were suffering from serious breathing difficulties after inhaling smoke.

The use of white phosphorous as a weapon – as opposed to its use as an obscurant and infrared blocking smoke screen – is banned by the Third Convention on Conventional Weapons which covers the use of incendiary devices. Though Israel is not a signatory to the convention, its military manuals reflect the restrictions on its use in that convention.

Instead of producing high velocity burning fragments like conventional white phosphorus weapons used to in the past, M825A1 rounds of the kind identified as being fired by Israeli forces produce what he called a "series of large slower burning wedges which fall from the sky", said Neil Gibson, technical adviser to Jane's Missiles and Rockets.

Israel's use of heavy artillery in residential areas of Gaza City violates the prohibition under the laws of war against indiscriminate attacks and should be stopped immediately, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

"Firing 155mm shells into the center of Gaza City, whatever the target, will likely cause horrific civilian casualties," Garlasco said.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/17/israel-gaza-phosphorus-civilians





 
   
 
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