US Delivers Massive New Weapons Shipment to Israel

The Following from Amnesty International USA:

Amnesty International today revealed that the United States has sent a massive new shipment of arms to Israel — about 14,000 tons worth — despite evidence that U.S. weapons were misused against civilians in the Gaza attacks. The unloading of the shipment in Israel was confirmed by the Pentagon. The human rights organization called on President Obama to suspend future arms shipments to Israel until there is no longer substantial risk of human rights violations.

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HRW: Israel accused of indiscriminate phosphorus use in Gaza

White Phosphorus
Palestinian civilians and medics run to safety during an Israeli strike using phosphorus shells at a UN school. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP

Human Rights Watch has released a new detailed report charging the Israeli government with committing numerous and repeated grave violations of the laws of war. The report entitled ‘Rain of Fire’ focuses on the illegal use of white phosphorus in Gaza and is only the latest in a growing series of evidence documenting Israeli war crimes. Additionaly, HRW “found no evidence that Hamas fighters used Palestinian civilians as human shields – a key Israeli claim – in the area at the time of the attacks it researched.” Here is the Guardian’s brief summary of HRW’s main findings:

Israel’s military fired white phosphorus over crowded areas of Gaza repeatedly and indiscriminately in its three-week war, killing and injuring civilians and committing war crimes, Human Rights Watch said today.

In a 71-page report, the rights group said the repeated use of air-burst white phosphorus artillery shells in populated areas of Gaza was not incidental or accidental, but revealed “a pattern or policy of conduct”.

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UN report accuses Britain of condoning torture

A new report by UN Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin finds evidence of UK complicity in a wide range of grave human rights violations, including torture – the prohibition of which constitutes an “absolute and peremptory norm of international law.” The report is only the latest in a growing series of indictments against the criminal conduct of the British state.

Britain has been condemned in a highly critical United Nations report for breaching basic human rights and “trying to conceal illegal acts” in the fight against terrorism.

The report is sharply critical of British co-operation in the transfer of detainees to places where they are likely to be tortured as part of the US rendition programme.

The report accuses British intelligence officers of interviewing detainees held incommunicado in Pakistan in “so-called safe houses where they were being tortured”.

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Rice is aid, pasta not

Another excellent report by Mel Frykberg, this time about Israel’s relentless punishment of Palestinians through the continuing obstruction of the delivery of desperately-needed aid  – including such items as pasta, paper and hearing aids – to Gaza.

Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to United States Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza Strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was.

Kerry, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the coastal territory on a fact-finding mission. The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and the level of destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.
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UN World Conference Against Racism and the Israel Lobby

In mid-February Obama met with Jewish leaders to explain why the government had decided to participate in planning the “controversial” World Conference Against Racism.  The Haaretz reported that:

The closed-door talks were led by the White House and the State Department, according to the JTA, and the content of the meeting was off-the-record.

The meeting was held after the State Department sent a high-level team to an informal preparatory session in Geneva this week, but declared that a “change in direction” was required before it could commit to full participation in the April meeting.

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Criminalising Resistance

Following yesterday’s article on the criminalisation of dissent by Seumas Milne in The Guardian (posted below), The Guardian today reveals that the Government’s new ‘counterterrorism’ strategy due next month called Contest 2 will define as ‘extremist’ anyone who believes in ‘armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military.’ It would also include those who ‘fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.’

The gall of this plan is quite breathtaking. Not content merely with providing political and material support to Israel’s illegal occupation, not to mention launching illegal wars and occupations of its own, the British Government will now explicitly label all resistance to these illegal and unethical projects as ‘extremist’. 

This represents a shift from the misuse of anti-terrorist legislation to attack and smear organised resistance as violent or as being infilitrated by violent extremists, towards the active repression of citizens who oppose the policy or ideology of the British Government, apparently even pacifists.  A Whitehall source told BBC Panorama that Contest 2 is a “move away from just challenging violent extremism. We now believe that we should challenge people who are against democracy and state institutions “

And of course there is no suggestion that ‘Contest 2’ will cover those who support atrocities by the British or Israeli state.  Nothing extreme about massacring Arabs obviously.  And those who are “against demoracy”?  How about the EU’s response to the election of Hamas?

Mohammed Omer wins Reporters Without Borders journalism award

I just got an e-mail from Mohammed Omer and I’m pleased to tell you he received a journalism award from Reporters Without Borders.

Swedish press freedom prize to Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer

Photojournalist Mohammed Omer has been awarded the Swedish section of Reporters without borders Press freedom prize 2008. His courageous reporting gives a voice to the confined and oppressed people of Gaza. At 24 Mohammed Omer is one of the most important young voices from the region.

Mohammed Omer reports for numerous media outlets, including the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pacifica Radio, Electronic Intifada, The Nation, and Inter Press Service; he also founded the Rafah Today blog.

In 2006 Mohammed Omer was awarded the Best Youth Voice Award from New American Media.

In 2008, Omer was awarded the 2007 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. In the award citation, Omer was honored as “the voice of the voiceless” and his reports were described as a “humane record of the injustice imposed on a community forgotten by much of the world.” Continue reading “Mohammed Omer wins Reporters Without Borders journalism award”

Israeli army used flechettes against Gaza civilians

Latest report from Amnesty International’s fact-finding team in Gaza:

A flechette embedded in a wall in a Bedouin villlage in Gaza
A flechette embedded in a wall in a Bedouin villlage in Gaza

Monday January 26: The Israeli army’s use of white phosphorus in densely populated civilian areas of Gaza has captured much of the world’s media interest. However, the Israeli forces also used a variety of other weapons against civilian residential built-up areas throughout the Gaza Strip in the three-week conflict that began on 27 December.

Among these are flechettes – tiny metal darts (4cm long, sharply pointed at the front and with four fins at the rear) that are packed into120mm shells. These shells, generally fired from tanks, explode in the air and scatter some 5,000 to 8,000 flechettes in a conical pattern over an area around 300 metres wide and 100 metres long.

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Use of white phosphorus in Gaza is ‘clear and undeniable’

The list of war crimes accusations against Israel continues to mount, as Amnesty International‘s fact-finding team finds “indisputable evidence” of the IDF’s use of white phosphorus.

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.

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Chronology: Which Side Violated the Ceasefire?

A much needed historical corrective by Howard Friel to the amnesia that seems to have engulfed much of mainstream media coverage of the war on Gaza:

Introduction

June 18, 2008

Israel has approved a ceasefire to end months of bitter clashes with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed. Under the terms of the truce, which is set to begin Thursday (June 19), Israel will ease its blockade on the Gaza Strip. At the same time, talks to release an Israeli soldier [Gilad Shalit] held by Hamas would intensify, an Israeli official said. Hamas, which controls Gaza, says it is confident that all militants will abide by the truce [by not firing rockets into southern Israel]. The agreement is supposed to last six months. (Emphasis added) (“Israel Agrees to Gaza Ceasefire,” BBC, June 18, 2008)
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