Kucinich: UN should investigate Israeli Gaza strikes
by Nick Juliano
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for an independent investigation to be led by the United Nations into the recent eruption of violence between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza strip that has killed scores of innocent civilians.
Monday brought a third day of Israeli bombing Gaza in what the state is calling its “all-out” war on Hamas. So far, 345 people have been killed by the bombs. At least 57 of the dead are civilians, including 21 children, according to the UN.
Kucinich said he wrote to UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon urging an “independent inquiry of Israel’s war against Gaza.” The Democratic lawmaker said Israel’s attacks are an example of “collective punishment,” which violates the Geneva Conventions.
“The perpetrators of attacks against Israel must also be brought to justice, but Israel cannot create a war against an entire people in order to attempt to bring to justice the few who are responsible. The Israeli leaders know better,” Kucinich said in a news release Monday. “The world community, which has been very supportive of Israel’s right to security and its right to survive, also has a right to expect Israel to conduct itself in adherence to the very laws which support the survival of Israel and every other nation.”
Kucinich compared the latest bombing campaign to Isreal’s earlier strikes at southern Lebanon targeted at Hezbollah. Then too, he said, civilians were killed, infrastructure was destroyed and lawlessness took hold in the country.
“All this was, and is, disproportionate, indiscriminate mass violence in violation of international law. Israel is not exempt from international law and must be held accountable,” he said. “It is time for the UN to not just call for a cease-fire, but for an inquiry as to Israel’s actions.”
President Bush, on the other hand, has signaled a continuation of his firm support for Israel.
“In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
Congressional leaders likewise signaled support for Israel.
1100 dead, 5100+ wounded, UN School/Aid Warehouse and hospitals bombed, White phosophorous and “experimental” weapons used, Silence is complicity
Roundup of a few significant articles re. the situation in Gaza today.
UPDATE: Kucinich has introduced this bill, H.66: Read more here
“I strongly support Israel’s right to defend its citizens against rocket and mortar attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza, which have killed and injured Israeli citizens, and to restore security to its residents,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Monday. “Hamas’ failure to stop these attacks only exacerbates the humanitarian situation for the residents of Gaza and undermines efforts to attain peace and security in the region.”
President-elect Barack Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, has tread lightly regarding the conflict. His transition team will only say that he continues to “monitor global events” noting, “There is one president at a time.”
Israel has declared some areas around Gaza “closed military zones” and is beginning to amass tanks there saying it is prepared to continue operations as long as necessary.
“The goal of the operation is to topple Hamas,” Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon said on Monday in televised comments.
Israel Navy ships turn back boat carrying Gaza humanitarian aid By The Associated Press, Ha’aretz.com January 15, 2009
Israel Navy ships forced a boat trying to deliver food and medical supplies to Gaza to return to Cyprus early Thursday.
Free Gaza group spokeswoman Mary Hughes-Thompson said Israeli naval vessels surrounded the 66-foot (20-meter) Greek-flagged boat off the coast of southern Lebanon and threatened to open fire if it did not turn back.
The Israel Defense Forces said navy ships warned the boat to turn back because it was entering a war zone subject to a naval blockade. The ship turned back without incident, the military said.
Hughes-Thompson said the boat, carrying five tons of supplies and 21 passengers, including three surgeons, was expected to arrive at Larnaca port in Cyprus by Thursday evening.
It was the second failed bid by the U.S.-based group to try to reach Gaza since Israel launched its assault on the Palestinian territory late last month in response to rocket fire on Israel.
One of the trip’s organizers, Vangelis Pisias, said the Israeli navy had threatened to open fire on the Greek-flagged boat Spirit of Humanity, which was carrying the activists.
“They told us that it was forbidden to go to our destination. We replied that we were carrying humanitarian supplies and continued on our course,” Pisias told Greece’s private Antenna television.
“About half an hour later, they returned with a threat, telling us they were obliged to stop the boat with all means possible… They said if we did not stop they would shoot.”
In a statement, Free Gaza said the incident occurred in international waters and described the incident as shocking.
“At roughly 1:00 A.M. GMT, in international waters 100 miles off the coast of Gaza, at least five Israeli gunboats surrounded the Spirit of Humanity and began recklessly cutting in front of the slow-moving civilian craft,” the statement said.
In Athens, the Greek Foreign Ministry said it had sent a strong protest to the Israeli Foreign Ministry that emphasized and asked for the Israeli authorities to pay particular attention to the protection of the lives and security of those on board the boat.
It said protests had also been sent the previous day to the Israeli foreign and defense ministries.
Source URL: http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1055906.html
Patients and refugees evacuated as Al-Quds hospital burns January 16, 2009 International Solidarity Movement
1am, 16th January 2009, Gaza City
Al-Quds hospital has been evacuated after the central building of the hospital was set ablaze. Patients and those seeking refuge in the hospital have been transferred to Al-Shifa hospital.
Al-Quds hospital has been surrounded by Israeli forces since 1:30am, 15th January. The fire is spreading too fast to be dealt with and the surrounding Israeli forces would not allow fire services access so as to combat the blaze.
Australian Human Rights Activist Sharon Lock was at al-Shifa hospital as the last evacuees were brought in;
The hospital is unbelievably crowded. After around 600 people had gone to Al-Quds hospital, they then had to leave again. They thought they had found somewhere safe, but nowhere is safe here.
Spanish Human Rights Activist Alberto Arce is also at Al-Shifa hospital,
It is chaos here. There are so many people. One doctor is having to operate on four people at the same time. People are being treated out in the corridors. People are outside and cannot get in.
Al-Quds hospital has been repeatedly shelled by the Israeli military. The storage facility has been ablaze throughout the day.
Families seeking refuge within the Al-Quds hospital were earlier fired upon by Israeli snipers. A nine year old girl is in critical condition in al-Shifa hospital after being shot in the face and abdomen. her father was also shot in the leg as they attempted to make it to the hospital.
Source URL: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4368
Gaza orgs: Silence is complicity Appeal, various undersigned 15 January 2009
With the death toll in Gaza growing hourly, silence is complicity. It is imperative for concerned citizens to demand that their governments take immediate action in order to stop Israeli genocide in Gaza.
Write your representative today and demand:
* That Israeli war criminals be brought before the International Criminal Court or a Special Tribunal for war crimes committed in Gaza. (Remind your representative that the investigation, prosecution or extradition of those responsible for war crimes is an obligation of all high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions.) * That in response to Israel’s severe breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, your state terminate all favorable trade agreements and economic relations with Israel, including the EU Association Agreement which is conditional upon adherence to human rights and democratic principles. * That your state cut all diplomatic ties with Israel.
The current events in Gaza were predicated and advocated for by Israeli Professor Arnon Sofer, Head of the Israeli army’s National Defense College. Professor Sofer spelled out the desired results of Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in an interview with The Jerusalem Post (24 May 2004):
Jerusalem Post: How will the region look the day after unilateral separation?
Arnon Sofer: … First of all … Instead of entering Gaza like we did last week. We will tell the Palestinians that if a single missile is fired over the fence, we will fire 10 in response. And women and children will be killed, and houses will be destroyed. After the fifth such incident, Palestinian mothers won’t allow their husbands to shoot Qassams, because they will know what’s waiting for them.
Second of all, when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day … If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist … Unilateral separation doesn’t guarantee “peace” — it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews …
Jerusalem Post: Voluntary transfer?
Arnon Sofer: Yes. And Gaza is going to be such a disaster that it will be beyond our capacity to help. There will have to be large-scale international aid. The US will have to pressure Egypt to cede land.
More recently Matan Vilnai, Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, told Army Radio during “Operation Hot Winter” (29 February 2008):
“They will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”
In the days following this statement, 107 Palestinians were killed. The international community failed to take action. This inaction, followed by European declarations of intentions to upgrade their trade agreements with Israel, served as a green light for the current atrocities.
Reserve Colonel Yoav Gal, an Israeli Air Force pilot, told Army Radio during “Operation Cast Lead” (11 January 2009):
“I believe that it should have been even stronger! Dresden! Dresden! The extermination of a city! After all, we’re told that the face of war has changed. No longer is it the advancing of tanks or an organized military. […] It is a whole nation, from the old lady to the child, this is the military. It is a nation fighting a war. I am calling them a nation, even though I don’t see them as one. It is a nation fighting a nation. Civilians fighting civilians. I’m telling you that we […] must know […] that stones will not be thrown at us! I am not talking about rockets — not even a stone will be thrown at us. Because we’re Jews.[…] I want the Arabs of Gaza to flee to Egypt. This is what I want. I want to destroy the city, not necessarily the people living within it.”
In order to end Israel’s impunity we call on civil society to support the Palestinian campaign for an international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
The One Democratic State Group – Gaza University Teacher Association in Palestine – Gaza Arab Cultural Forum – Gaza
Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements – West Bank
White Phosphorous and Dense Inert Metal Explosives: Is Israel Using Banned and Experimental Munitions in Gaza? DemocracyNow! January 15, 2009
Israel is coming under increasing criticism for its possible use of banned and experimental munitions. Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of illegally firing white phosphorous, which causes horrific burns if it comes in contact with the skin, over crowded refugee camps in Gaza. Medics and human rights groups are also reporting that they are seeing injuries distinctive of another controversial weapon, Dense Inert Metal Explosive, known as DIME, that was designed by the US Air Force in 2006. Those struck by the weapon who survive suffer severe mutilations and internal injuries. We go to the Gaza border to speak with Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch and to Norway to speak with Dr. Mads Gilbert, who just returned from the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. He says Gaza is “truly a scene from Dante’s Inferno.”
Read/Watch/Listen here: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/14/white_phosphorous_and_dense_inert_metal
President-elect prepares diplomatic offensive Right after inauguration, team to be appointed to deal with Middle East troubles
By Susan Page, David Jackson and Mimi Hall USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama says he will appoint a team immediately after his inauguration Tuesday to address “on Day One” the crisis in Gaza and brewing troubles across the Middle East.
“We’ve got a regional set of problems,” Obama said in a wide-ranging interview with USA TODAY, noting challenges in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as between Israelis and Palestinians. “They’re not going to be solved in isolation. And we’ve got to be active in all these areas in order for us to be successful in any of these areas.”
The diplomatic offensive, which could include the appointment of special envoys, contrasts sharply with President Bush’s approach to the volatile region. Bush put less emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict early in his tenure and tended to deal with Middle East problems separately.
(Ed. Article continues re. other issues… www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20090116/1aobama16_st.art.htm )