Earlier on January 11 Haaretz published a report by Amira Hass headlined ‘Gaza residents: IDF troops posing as Hamas men‘. The report has curiously disappeared since, replaced by something completely unrelated. However, the readers comments at the bottom are still responding to the Hass’s original report. Following is a cached copy of the original:
The testimonies of Gaza Strip residents are revealing new details about the Israel Defense Forces’ mode of operation there. In the past two days, Beit Lahia residents forced from their homes said soldiers were posing as members of Hamas’ armed wing while advancing on the ground.
The daily pauses in bombing allow Gazans to meet with the displaced – most of whom are housed in an UNRWA school – and hear their stories.
Uri Avnery with a really fantastic piece in Counterpunch. My one criticism is his conclusion that “in the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.” While it might be true, and I know his focus is the Israeli persepective, I still find it distasteful to conclude with the Israeli crime against Israel as opposed to the Israeli massacre against Gaza.
Nearly seventy ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called “the Red Army” held the millions of the town’s inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.
Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.
This is the description that would now appear in the history books – if the Germans had won the war.
Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in our media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of Gaza as “hostages” and exploit the women and children as “human shields”, they leave us no alternative but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children and unarmed men are killed and injured.
Riz Khan of Al Jazeera International speaks to the honourable Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, about whether Israel has committed war crimes in its Gaza offensive and whether Barack Obama, the US president-elect, could do more to pressure Israel.
One of the stories we often hear is that Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.’ Israel is in fact an apartheid democracy, in which only Jews have full democratic rights. The area controlled by Israel includes almost equal numbers of Arabs and Jews, which means that almost half of the people under some form or other of Israeli rule have less than full democratic rights. The Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza can only vote for non-sovereign governments, and if they vote wrong, are starved. The ‘Arab Israelis’ (who make up 20% of the Israeli population excluding the West Bank and Gaza) face many restrictions, on which Adalah and Jonathan Cook provide good information. Today, Arab Israeli political parties have been banned from running in the nearby Israeli parliamentary elections. Here’s the story from Ha’aretz:
The Central Elections Committee on Monday banned Arab political parties from running in next month’s parliamentary elections, drawing accusations of racism by an Arab lawmaker who said he would challenge the decision in the country’s Supreme Court.
The ruling, made by the body that oversees the elections, reflected the heightened tensions between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority caused by Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Israeli Arabs have held a series of demonstrations against the offensive.
‘Few in U.S. See Jazeera’s Coverage of Gaza War’, writes Noam Cohen. The piece, as a note at the bottom of the article reveals, appeared ‘on page B7 of the New York edition’ — i.e., page 7 of the Business supplement, meaning few people will actually see it. Very often you hear some Arab or Asian imbecile (they prefer to call themselves ‘liberals’) speak about the alleged ‘freedoms’, ‘rights’, and ‘liberties’ that American citizens enjoy. What passes for ‘freedom’ in the US-UK is what Herbert Marcuse called a ‘comfortable, smooth, reasonable, democratic unfreedom’. Here a Larry Flint, or a Rupert Murdoch has a right to produce their pornography, but when an Al Jazeera challenges the status quo it is suppressed using the very same freedoms — the freedom of media conglomerates to deny citizens an alternative viewpoint.
Last June, Al Jazeera English produced a report from Gaza about a young couple who were preparing to marry during the relative calm of the cease-fire between Hamas and the Israeli government, a time when they could finally shop for furniture and, as the reporter put it, let themselves “dream that a happy life together is within reach.”
Now that reporter, Ayman Mohyeldin, a former CNN producer, can be seen with a helmet and flak jacket answering questions from an anchor back in the studio in Doha, Qatar, describing the Israeli bombing and ground campaign in Gaza intended to stop Hamas missiles from being fired into Israel.
In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.
The following is a letter signed by attorneys and academics which appeared in The Sunday Timestitled “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime”. As Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 (there is no good reason why international consensus dates the injustice to ’67; it has its roots in the ethnic cleansing of ’48) it is not defending itself, in the legal sense, and is the aggressor. Diana Buttu put it succinctly when she said, “Israel has the right to protect itself it doesn’t have the right to protect its occupation.”
ISRAEL has sought to justify its military attacks on Gaza by stating that it amounts to an act of “self-defence” as recognised by Article 51, United Nations Charter. We categorically reject this contention.
The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity.
The killing of almost 800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 3,000 injuries, accompanied by the destruction of schools, mosques, houses, UN compounds and government buildings, which Israel has a responsibility to protect under the Fourth Geneva Convention, is not commensurate to the deaths caused by Hamas rocket fire.