Motion to boycott Israel passed at University of Manchester Student Union

Latest update from the University of Manchester student occupation:

On Wednesday 11th Feb the University of Manchester Students Union passed a motion in support of the banners showing from the window of the occupied space in manchester unipeople of Gaza, which includes a resolve to boycott Israel, in an emergency general meeting [1]. The meeting, which was attended by over 1000 students, was called in response to the crisis in Gaza. It follows a week long occupation of University of Manchester buildings by students [2]. The University of Manchester Students Union is the biggest in Western Europe, and is also the first western students union to pass a motion which includes an out and out boycott of Israel.

The policy that was passed compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and supported the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. It called for the Union to divest from Israel, boycotting all companies which support or benefit from the Israeli occupation, and to lobby the University to adopt a similar boycott policy towards Israel. The motion also condemned the University for its lack of progress in divesting from arms companies. Following the meeting the union will send a letter to the BBC condemning their refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committees (DEC) appeal for Gaza [3], as well as facilitating a day of fundraising with proceeds going to the DEC.

That Students at Manchester have a long history of showing solidarity with Palestinians, most notably in their affirmation of the “Palestine: Right to an Education” motion passed in 2007. This motion twinned our Union with the An-Najah University in the occupied West Bank, and committed the
Union to campaign for the rights of Palestinian students. Similarly, the Students’ Union played an important role in the international solidarity campaign against South African apartheid by divesting the university’s funds from South Africa.

Over the three weeks following December 27th the Israeli army and airforce killed over 1,300 Palestinians, including over 400 children, and injured more than 4,000 in a series of brutal attacks on the besieged population of Gaza. During the onslaught into Gaza, Israel used white phosphorus illegally [4].

The events in Manchester are part of a wave of actions and occupations sweeping universities across the country [5].

Quotes

Matt Scholey, a first year Politics and Modern History student, said “This is going to set a precedent, more and more student unions will have the confidence to take similar step. Last year LSE SU called for divestment, now UMSU calls for a complete boycott, and tomorrow the rest of the student movement will follow suite.”

Footnotes
1. http://www.umsu.manchester.ac.uk/downloads/gm_motions/egm_motion11.2.09.pdf
2. For more information see: http://manunioccupation.wordpress.com/about/ For the list of demands: http://manunioccupation.wordpress.com/list-of-demands/
3. The DEC is an umbrella organisation for 13 British charities. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/22/gaza-charity-appeal
4. As reported by Amnesty International on the 19/01/2009, and The Times on the 24/01/2009
5. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/students-are-revolting-the-spirit-of-68-is-reawakening-1604043.html

This is the full text of the motion:

THIS UNION NOTES
1. Over the three weeks following December 27th the Israeli army and airforce killed over 1,300
Palestinians, including over 400 children, and injured more than 4,000 in a series of brutal attacks on
the besieged population of Gaza. In the same period 14 Israelis were killed, 3 of which were civilians
who died as a result of rocket attacks.
2. Israel attacked Gaza from the air, sea and land, targeting the main UN compound in which 700
civilians were sheltering (As reported by Reuters on the 15/01/2009). A hospital and three schools
belonging to the UN were also bombarded. In one incident, thirty civilians were killed after Israeli
troops gathered them into one house to shelter and subsequently proceeded to shell it, killing all
those inside (As reported in the Washington Times on the 10/01/2009). All in all, three hospitals
were attacked, the main university in Gaza was almost completely destroyed as were hundreds of
civilian homes, schools, health clinics, police stations and government buildings. Much of Gaza’s
infrastructure, electricity plants, water systems, roads and telecommunications were also severely
damaged, deepening the already desperate humanitarian crisis (As reported by Human Rights
Watch on the 13/01/2009)

3. During the onslaught into Gaza, Israel used white phosphorus illegally. (As reported by Amnesty
International on the 19/01/2009, and The Times on the 24/01/2009)

4. Hamas was democratically elected on 25th January 2006 and that this election was accepted as being
free and fair by the American administration of the day. (See White House Press Conference, January
26th 2006).

5. This latest Israeli atrocity comes after 18 months of the Israeli siege and blockade of Gaza, which has
crippled the Gazan economy and caused starvation and malnourishment throughout Gaza. The
Governments of Israel, the United States, and the EU have blockaded the Gaza Strip, refusing to
allow food, fuel, and medical supplies into Gaza. The Israeli imposed blockade has resulted in a
situation where over 750,000 people in Gaza are reliant upon food aid, over 80% of the population
face unemployment, and hospitals have been forced to operate below minimum requirements.
Amnesty International has condemned the blockade as a form of collective punishment, noting that it
is a violation of the Geneva Convention and a war crime.

6. Since November 2008, Israel prevented foreign journalists from entering Gaza. This has prevented
outside reporting of the situation.

7. Criticism of the State of Israel is not ant-Semitic in and of itself.

8. Being democratically elected does not excuse military action in and of itself.

9. 2008 marked the 60th anniversary of the “Nakba” – the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinian
Arabs from their homes and homeland in historic Palestine between 1947 and 1949. The expulsion –
planned and systematically carried out – was essential to the creation of the state of Israel. Those
dispossessed during the Nakba and their descendants now make up a refugee population of more
than 4 million living without normal citizenship status. Their right to return to their home, legally
recognised under international law, including United Nations resolution 194, has never been
accepted by Israel.

10. Israel continues to build an 8 metre high “annexation” wall on Palestinian land inside the post-1967
occupied West Bank, contravening the July 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice (the
highest legal body in the world, whose statutes all UN members are party to) and causing the
forcible separation of Palestinian communities from one another and the annexation of additional
Palestinian land.

11. Within the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel continues a policy of settlement expansion
in direct violation of Article 49, paragraph 6 of the 4th Geneva Convention which declares “an
occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it
occupies.” The settlements for Israelis only, housing approximately 500,000 residents, are made
possible through the settler-colonial theft of Palestinian Arab land, flouting Article 17 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights which states that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”

12. Since 1967 Israel has demolished over 18 000 Palestinian family homes to sustain a policy of “quiet
transfer” of the indigenous Palestinian population and the annexation of their land, leaving some
70,000 Palestinian civilians traumatised and without shelter or compensation.

13. Hundreds of kilometres of settler-only roads, on which the indigenous Palestinian Arab population is
not permitted to drive, carve up the West Bank.
14. Some 500 checkpoints and roadblocks – designed to corral the Palestinian Arab population –
pockmark the occupied West Bank, causing significant damage to Palestinian commerce and access to
medical care and education. This ghettoization or “Bantustanization” of the Palestinian people
markedly violates the spirit of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states
“everyone has the right to freedom of movement.”

15. Israel engages in reckless collective punishment over the whole of the Palestinian population, with
the recent siege of Gaza a prime example. According to Physicians for Human Rights, “The
prolonged siege imposed by the Israeli government on Gaza, the closing of its borders, the
tightening of policies regarding permission to exit Gaza for medical purposes, and the severe
shortage of medications and other medical supplies all severely damage the Palestinian health system
and endanger the lives and health of thousands of Palestinian patients.” The Red Cross calls life in
Gaza “a nightmare” for the civilian population, saying that “the whole strip is being strangled,
economically speaking” with essential supplies, including electricity and fuel, being denied to the 1.5
million inhabitants where 80% depend on aid to survive.

16. Within Israel’s 1948 borders, where roughly 20% of the population is Palestinian Arab, over 40
“unrecognised villages” exist housing over 100 000 Palestinian “citizens of Israel.” The Israeli
government ignores the existence of these villages even though many have existed for hundreds of
years. These villages have not appeared on any map, they lack basic infrastructure, and the state of
Israel has made numerous attempts to demolish them constituting a gross violation of human rights.

17. Israeli law openly discriminates on the basis of religion, race, and nationality, with different laws
regarding citizenship, housing, land ownership, and marriage applying depending on whether
someone is classified in law as “Jewish” or “non-Jewish.”

18. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South African anti-Apartheid activist, wrote in The Guardian: “I’ve been
very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us
black people in South Africa.”

19. The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, South African law
professor John Dugard, in a 2007 UN report concluded that “there is an apartheid regime” in the
occupied Palestinian territories “worse than the one that existed in South Africa.” He went on to state:
“It is difficult to resist the conclusion that many of Israel’s laws and practices violate the 1966
Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. House demolitions in the West
Bank and East Jerusalem are carried out in a manner that discriminates against Palestinians.
Throughout the West Bank, and particularly in Hebron, settlers are given preferential treatment over
Palestinians in terms of movement (major roads are reserved exclusively for settlers), building rights
and army protection; and laws governing family re-unification unashamedly discriminate against
Palestinians.”

20. A vital part of the global campaign against apartheid in South Africa was the tactic of boycott,
whereby the anti-apartheid movements called for the severing of all links to South Africa; including
economic, political, cultural, and academic.

21. Ronnie Kasrils, the Jewish South African Minister of Intelligence said “The boycotts and sanctions
ultimately helped liberate both blacks and whites in South Africa. Palestinians and Israelis will
similarly benefit from this non-violent campaign that Palestinians are calling for.”

22. From 2002 to 2004 nearly sixty academic, professional, and cultural associations and trade unions in
the occupied West Bank, representing a broad cross section of Palestinian society, requested
internationals work more actively to support Palestinian rights and specifically that those outside
Palestine “promote divestment and disinvestment from Israel by international academic institutions.”

23. That this Students’ Union played an important role in the international solidarity campaign against
South African apartheid by divesting the university’s funds from South Africa. The union has a policy
to boycott coca cola and nestle.

24. The University of Manchester is committed to an ethical investments policy, yet there has been a lack
of progress in ending investment in the arms trade.

25. The University of Manchester continues to undertake research within the arms industry.

26. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza urgently requires aid to be brought in. Recently, the Disasters
Emergency Committee (DEC), comprising of thirteen British charities, called on all UK news
broadcasters to broadcast a public appeal for Gaza. The BBC refused.

THIS UNION FURTHER NOTES
1. That Students at Manchester have a long history of showing solidarity with Palestinians, most notably
in their affirmation of the “Palestine: Right to an Education” motion passed in 2007. This motion
twinned our Union with the An-Najah University in the occupied West Bank, and committed the
Union to campaign for the rights of Palestinian students.

2. That the March 2007 General Meeting voted overwhelmingly to support the struggles of Palestinians
to realise their Right to an Education, and subsequently raised a plaque to inform students of both the
denial of education and our Students’ Union opposition to this.

3. That as part of our twinning with the An-Najah University our Student Union policy presently calls
upon the University to offer three scholarships to Palestinian Students, which despite numerous
appeals to the Vice-Chancellor has as yet been ignored.

4. That students have taken part in occupying University buildings since February 4th 2009 in
solidarity with Palestine.

THIS UNION BELIEVES
1. This Union believes in a policy of non discrimination, as stated previously in union policy.
2. The Union believes that the mobilisation inside Israel against the policies of the State of Israel has
been progressive. And that the Israeli government’s aggressive response to the protests should be
condemned.

THIS UNION RESOLVES
1. To support a day of fundraising for humanitarian relief for Gaza, with all proceeds to be given to the
Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

2. To pressure the university to send surplus academic supplies to the students of Gaza on the February
14th Viva Palestina convoy, and to organise through the Union to provide logistical support for the
collection of this aid.

3. To join the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by divesting from Israel and
boycotting all companies that support or benefit from the Israeli occupation and lobbying the
University to adopt a similar BDS policy towards Israel, and to build links with student unions and
other trade unions who adopt a BDS policy.

4. To condemn the university for its lack of progress in divesting from arms companies and ending all
research in weapons manufacturing. And to adopt a stronger approach with the university on this
issue.

5. To send a letter to the BBC condemning their refusal to air the DEC appeal for Gaza, and to place the
appeal advert in Student Direct, and on the home page of the UMSU website, until the appeal is
closed.

6. To send a message of support to occupations around the country that have shown solidarity with the
people of Gaza, condemned the Israeli attacks and opposed the siege of Gaza. To materially support
non-violent occupations undertaken by university of Manchester students.

7. To send a public message of solidarity to the Islamic University in Gaza, whose campus has been
virtually destroyed, and publish it in Student Direct.

8. To pressure the university to give full scholarships to Palestinian students as resolved at the March
2007 general meeting, as well as providing full scholarships for Israelis who have refused to serve in
the IDF. As part of this the Union will furthermore forge concrete links with Israeli students, activist
groups and military conscientious objectors that oppose the Israeli occupation and its recent attacks on
Gaza. And to adopt a stronger approach with the university on this issue.

9. To declare unequivocal support for the occupation so far as it keeps the current demands, remains
non-violent and maintains its intention not to disrupt the education of peers. To support and aid the
occupation in its negotiations with the university. To support all students and staff so far as they face
any repercussions.

16 thoughts on “Motion to boycott Israel passed at University of Manchester Student Union”

  1. This motion implies that all the wrongs of the world belong to Israel. Yet this week, Amnesty International cited Hamas for the murder of dozens of opponents. The motion does not mention this. Therefore, it is hypocritical, full of double-standards.
    In other words, for all its politically correct statements, the motion is one of dangerous hatred directed against one section of the community.

  2. “This article implies that all the wrongs of the world belong to Israel.

    Ummm….no it doesn’t…Freudian slip?

    How can you support a nation that commits mass murder of women and children?

    Hath you no conscience?

    Doesn’t look to me like you could refute the facts, just issue dogma…

    Must be an Israeli

  3. What is so sad about this is that many of the staements given as the reason for this motion have subsequently been denied by the organisations involved
    It is ridiculous to use articles in the press as evidence when the stories have later been found to be untrue
    Also it is quite incredible that there is no context to explain the crisis and not one word of criticism of attacks on the civilian population of southern Israel.

    Among others I cite the following examples

    “Over the three weeks following December 27th the Israeli army and airforce killed over 1,300
    Palestinians, including over 400 children, and injured more than 4,000 in a series of brutal attacks on the besieged population of Gaza”
    These figures have been seriously challenged by an Arab spokesperson and by doctors in the hospitals

    “Israel attacked Gaza from the air, sea and land, targeting the main UN compound in which 700
    civilians were sheltering (As reported by Reuters on the 15/01/2009).
    The UN has stated that the compound was NOT HIT.

    “A hospital and three schools
    belonging to the UN were also bombarded. In one incident, thirty civilians were killed after Israeli
    troops gathered them into one house to shelter and subsequently proceeded to shell it, killing all
    those inside (As reported in the Washington Times on the 10/01/2009) The UN has issued a statement saying the school was not hit and it is only alleged that one school was hit in any event and that has been proved to be untrue, backed by a statement from a teacher at the school

    In Item 2 of THIS UNION NOTES it is worth noting that most of the targets hit in what a British military expert has described in a taped interview was the most exact precision targetting showing concern for minimising civilian casualties in the history of warfare, most of the targets were being used to storye arms or hide terrorists, or as launching pads for rockets into Israel.

    The Governments of Israel, the United States, and the EU have blockaded the Gaza Strip, refusing to
    allow food, fuel, and medical supplies into Gaza.

    Even right throughout the war Israel continued to keep supplies getting into Gaza as thay have done on a daily basis for months except when Hamas targets the crossing points The UN and Jordan have both stopped sending food because Hamas, who the students of Manchester choose to side with, has been stealing the aid, as it has stolen millions of dollars of foreign aid to fund terror and corfruption. that money could have given the people of Gaza a decent quality of live and permanent homes instead of them being forced to live in refugee camps by their leadership.
    Much of the dependencey of the Gazans on outside aid and chairity is due to their failure over the years, and most particularly since Jews were ethnically cleasned from Gaza, to build up their agriculture and economy, not least when they destroyed the greenhouses which would have given many people a living. I note with much pleasure that there are now supplies of flowers from Gaza being imported into Europe. Sadly no doubt the boycotters will block these and jeopardise Palestinian jobs.

    “During the onslaught into Gaza, Israel used white phosphorus illegally. (As reported by Amnesty
    International on the 19/01/2009, and The Times on the 24/01/2009) Why no reference to the International Red Cross report which categorically states tghere was no illegal use of white phosphorous?

    “Since November 2008, Israel prevented foreign journalists from entering Gaza. This has prevented
    outside reporting of the situation”.
    If that is indeed the case the Student Union is even more reprehensible for using journalists who have not been able to get first hand proof for their stories as their unchecked sources

    Since 1967 Israel has demolished over 18 000 Palestinian family homes to sustain a policy of “quiet
    transfer” of the indigenous Palestinian population and the annexation of their land, leaving some
    70,000 Palestinian civilians traumatised and without shelter or compensation. What evidence is there of this and why have Mancester students never demonstrated when Palestinians in their thousands ahve been thrown out of Arab lands?

    Being democratically elected does not excuse military action in and of itself.
    Tell that to Hamas.

    Those
    dispossessed during the Nakba and their descendants now make up a refugee population of more
    than 4 million living without normal citizenship status. Their right to return to their home, legally
    recognised under international law, including United Nations resolution 194, has never been
    accepted by Israel.
    This quite simply is not true. There is no consensus on the terms of any right of return, and the numbers of claimed refugees is simply ridiculous.

    July 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice
    there was no ruling just advisory recommendation

    flouting Article 17 of the Universal
    Declaration of Human Rights which states that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”
    Tell that to the Arab countries who tghrew out over 800,000 Jews when the state of israel was founded after the UN approval.

    Due to his blatant bias John Duggard has disqualified himself as a reliable and accurate spokesperson.

    My final comment is never let the truth get in thw way of fiction that supports you point of view.

  4. Joy Wolfe: It would be quite pointless to ask you to substantiate your asinine claims with credible references. So let me pose the more pertinent question to you: What’s the weather like on your planet?

  5. Dear Duh,
    Writing as somebody who was born, educated and grew up in the UK, you anger and hatred does allow you to answer the question.
    I did not argue for or against Israel. What i did is to point out the hypocrisy of the motion. You talk about children being killed. If you were so concerned about Palestioanin children and not just hatred you would also mention that Hamas is being investigated by the UN for using children as human shields.
    If you are so concerned about human rights, why does your union not fight on behalf of the hundreds of thiousans murdered in Darfur?
    Too big an issue? How about 3000+ left to rot in the cholera epedemic in Zimbabwe.
    So, the issue is not human rights, but Israel.
    If you were intrested in peace, you would also mention the peace efforts. But you do not.
    So, you are left with hatred of Israel at any price, which of course is not anti-semitism for you.

    BTW, you refer to the fact that I am Israeli and in a derogatory manner. Whether I am or am not, that is a racist slur. Maybe you should be boycotted by the Union.

  6. To the disbelieving M. Idries

    My credible references are the UN spokespeople who made the allegations who subsequently withdrew them, John Ling and the head of the UNWRA in Gaza,
    a teacher who was in the school playgorund when it was wrongly claimed Israel had bombed it and a Palestinian doctor. It has also been very clearly verified online by the BBC the Guardian and every quality paper.
    But with your clear bigotry and blindness I am sure that is not good enough for you
    As I said, don’t let your lies get in the way of a good story. In my case I prefer only to make statements I can verify and would swear to under oath, which clearly is not something you could possibly claim
    I would be happy to send you all the links and all the references, but no doubt that would be a waste of time as there are none so blind as those who will not see.
    I won’t ask what the weather is like on your planet as you clearly are completely away with the fairies and not on any planet

  7. Michael Horesh, I think you doth protesteth too much. The issue at hand is israel, not Darfur, not Zimbabwe. Duh’s observation that you must be an israeli bore out: it is hardly a racist slur nor derogatory for someone to surmise you are an israeli based on your defensive statements. As for humans as shields, that is a charge for which israel has been repeatedly found guilty. Back up your assertions with evidence in the way of links or don’t waste our readers time.

    Joy Wolfe, Idrees suggested you provide references for your erroneous claims. We’re still waiting.

  8. Actually he didn’t ask for references He made it clear he thought I was lying I offered the references which are easy to find if you have an open mind and use Google There is plenty of video evidenced online of buildings used to hide terrorists and weapons and explosives igniting on impact and of cars blowing up when they were carrying bombs etc JW
    As I know any evidence produced will fall on deaf ears I will leave it to the honest readers of this site to check it out for themselves

    John Ging, UNRWA’s operations director in Gaza, acknowledged in an interview this week that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that “no one was killed in the school.” … The Israelis are the ones, he said, who got everyone thinking the deaths occurred inside the school. “Look at my statements,” he said. “I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation.”
    That is blatantly untrue as there are countless references on the web of his allegation that the school was hit Rather like the Jenin story when first it was thousands killed then hundreds, the finally 59 of whom more than 30 were armed terrorists
    JW

    The school that Israel didn’t shell
    Posted on January 30, 2009

    The media love terrorist lies. Comments below by Australia’s Andrew Bolt

    Every Israeli operation to defend itself has one. And the “bombed school” was the “Jenin massacre” or the “bombed ambulance” hoax of Israel’s operation this past month in Gaza. In early January Israel was once again accused of a horrific war crime – an allegation that ran and ran. Some examples:

    From Britain’s The Independent: “Massacre of innocents as UN school is shelled”

    From The Australian: “THE deaths of 42 people in an Israeli attack at a UN-run school in Gaza overnight has finally forced Barack Obama to break his silence over the conflict…”

    From The Age: “43 Palestinians in a UN school were killed by Israeli shelling…”

    From Iran: “The UN High Commissioner for Rights has also called for independent investigations into possible war crimes after Israel’s shelling of a UN school compound which killed 42 people…”

    From India: “Israeli tank shells killed more than 40 Palestinians on Tuesday at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter, in carnage likely to boost international pressure on Israel to halt a Gaza offensive”.

    The key ingredients in this latest “proof” of Israeli depravity: 43 dead, school attacked, sheltering civilians massacred. Oh, and with no good cause: “The United Nations on Wednesday denied Israeli army allegations that militants were inside a school in Gaza that was hit the previous day by an Israeli strike, killing at least 42 people.”

    Now for the facts of that January 6 mortar shelling of the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Yes, the 43 people are dead, and that is a tragedy, given many were undoubtedly innocent. But the rest of the allegations? False, false and false. Yet again the media has bought anti-Israeli propaganda, as a Toronto Globe and Mail investigation has found:

    Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed….

    While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers….
    The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: “Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.”.

    Hazem Balousha, who runs an auto-body shop across the road from the UNRWA school, was down the street, just out of range of the shrapnel, when the three shells hit. He showed a reporter where they landed: one to the right of his shop, one to the left, and one right in front.
    UNRWA itself now opening concedes its school was not actually shelled:

    John Ging, UNRWA’s operations director in Gaza, acknowledged in an interview this week that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that “no one was killed in the school.” … The Israelis are the ones, he said, who got everyone thinking the deaths occurred inside the school. “Look at my statements,” he said. “I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation.”

    Reference 2 Even a single death is tragic, but when people are used as human shields in war civilian casualties are inevitable. Interestingly people in souther Israel are sending aid to the Gazans and the israelis have set up a field hospital on the border to treat Gazan casualties. Imagine that happening on the Palestinian side!!!!
    Gazan doctor says death toll inflated

    Physician at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital tells Italian newspaper number of dead in Israeli offensive ‘stands at no more than 500 or 600, most of them youths recruited to Hamas’ ranks’. Senior Palestinian Health Ministry official denies claims, IDF estimate on 1,200 casualties in Strip remains unchanged

    Ynet reporters Latest Update: 01.22.09, 15:18 / Israel News

    What really is behind the numbers reported on the number of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip? Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza’s Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

    “The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter,” according to the newspaper article.

    The doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.

    A senior Palestinian Health Ministry official later denied the claims, and the Israel Defense Forces’ estimate on the number of casualties in Gaza has also remained unchanged.

    Despite the claims, the IDF stood behind its estimate that between 1,100 to 1,200 people were killed in the Strip during the fighting, more than two-thirds of them Hamas members.

    The army initially believed that the number of civilian casualties was higher, as many Hamas men walked outside their houses dressed in civilian clothes, leaving their weapons at home.

    Dr. Moaiya Hassanain, who is in change of the emergency department at the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, denied the figures presented by the Italian paper.

    Hassanain told Ynet that the Palestinian figures were issued cautiously, without any political considerations, and that several casualties may not have been reported as their bodies are still under the rubble or have not been handed over to the rescue forces and authorized medical officials.

    ‘Mostly armed teenagers’
    A Tal al-Hawa resident told the newspaper’s reporter, “Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn’t do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes.”

    The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas’ exaggerated figures, “We have already said to Hamas commanders – why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?”

    These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. “Then, there was first talk of 1,500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men,” the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.

    These new figures must be treated with caution especially in light of the fact that various official sources in the Gaza Strip, including United Nations and Red Cross officials, have reported that more than 1,300 people were killed and some 5,000 wounded during the three weeks of fighting in the coastal strip. Palestinian sources claim that three-quarters of the dead were unarmed civilians.

    Hamas, while boasting on having Israeli soldiers by the dozens, a number that has proven to be exaggerated, claimed that no more than 48 of its members were killed during the Israeli offensive. According to IDF figures, Hamas lost hundreds of fighters from its ranks.

    Red Cross: Israel’s use of white phosphorus not illegal
    google.com — The international Red Cross said Tuesday that Israel has fired white phosphorus shells in its offensive in the Gaza Strip, but has no evidence to suggest it is being used improperly or illegally. “It’s not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it’s being used in any other way.”

    However Hamas did use phosphorous bombs illegally but no-one is interested in that JW

    Hope the boycotters don’t threaten Palestinian jobs when they have picketed the distributors!!!
    Israel has granted permission for 25,000 flowers from the Gaza Strip to be sent to Europe for Valentine’s Day.

  9. I do not consider Islam online a reliable source to accuse Israel of using human shields which is the source Ann provides.

  10. Joy, you in fact originally made claims without substantiation eg “My credible references are the UN spokespeople who made the allegations who subsequently withdrew them, John Ling and the head of the UNWRA in Gaza, a teacher who was in the school playgorund when it was wrongly claimed Israel had bombed it and a Palestinian doctor. It has also been very clearly verified online by the BBC the Guardian and every quality paper.”

    You are invited to provide credible references, and links. I’m sorry, right-wing blogger Andrew Bolt doesn’t count as a credible source. I happen to be Australian, and I’m familiar with who Andrew Bolt is. Having google and an ‘open mind’ doesn’t suffice either, you also need to exercise some critical judgment. The evidence is not on your side and we’ve documented it widely on this site.

    Islam Online is credible, to unduly dismiss them would be to dismiss Y-Net or Ha’aretz just because they are Jewish. In the link cited, the source from Palestine Chronicle was in fact Islam Online and newspapers.

    Also: you might wish to help us by providing a URL link rather than copying and pasting willy-nilly: it makes it hard to follow.

    Your erroneous claims are many: to take but one, the use of white phosphorus is indeed illegal, not when it used as a smokescreen but when it is used against civilian targets. There is a difference.

  11. Once again Ann chooses to avoid the evidence of the International Red Cross that Israel did not use whitge phosphorous illegally Also conveniently ignored is the fact that Hamas did use white phosphorous
    It’s too late tonight but I will find some other references regarding the UN tomorrow, but if you won;t accept the actual words of the people who originally made the false allegations I am afraid I don’t think deaf ears and blind eyes are likely to change

  12. Joy needs to read the full article carefully: it is admitted that “However, Herby said evidence is still limited because of the difficulties of gaining access to Gaza, where Palestinian health officials say more than 900 people have been killed and 4,250 wounded since Israel launched its offensive late last month.”

    In contrast, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN have ALL charged israel with using white phosphorus illegally against civilians, in addition to medics and eyewitnesses in Gaza, including my friend Dr Swee, a surgeon who was there just a matter of days ago.

    Your sources that you subsequently add, in individual dribbles (I have embedded them here), include a blog and israelnationalnews (which doesn’t even mention phosphorus): gee, very objective and credible (not): both bat for israel and the first especially is patently partisan (as is the campus forum of pro-israel debaters) and just opinion. I’m afraid you’re the one with blinkers here.

    Here are more credible and varied sources incriminating israel from the Times, BBC and New Straits Times. The BBC is not without bias for israel either, so its telling that even it carries the clear charges against israel.

    The issue at hand is israel, not Hamas, and there is absolutely no comparison in number of deaths or degrees of lethality.

    I have now read through all your links: I advise you to read through the far less partisan ones to which I’ve pointed here.

    We’ve given you air-time and ample opportunity to back up your claims: the links you do subsequently provide are flimsy, partisan (and that’s putting it politely) and unconvincing. Yes, our readers can indeed judge for themselves, I am confident in their powers of discernment.

    This discussion is now over.

  13. one final reference for Joy Wolfe on the issue of the illegal use of white phosphorus:

    A report by Amnesty International from January 19:
    “The Israeli army used white phosphorus, a weapon with a highly incendiary effect, in densely populated civilian residential areas of Gaza City, according to indisputable evidence found an Amnesty International fact-finding team which reached the area last Saturday”…”Its repeated use in this manner, despite evidence of its indiscriminate effects and its toll on civilians, is a war crime”

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israeli-armys-use-white-phosphorus-gaza-clear-undeniable-20090119

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