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Israeli massacre crimes not easily forgotten, despite the PA


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*older man from Sheyjayee, east of Gaza City, one of many beating Abbas’ photo in frustration at PA treachery

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Abbas and the PA…what to say? Palestinians in Gaza made it through the massacre, minus 1500, only to learn of the extent of the PA collaboration with Israel…

There has been much good coverage and analysis [outside of corporate media] of the PA decision to again fail the people, this time in the most brazen and disgusting of ways, by not endorsing the Goldstone report.

Instead, I’ll just add my name to the list of those utterly repulsed, though not entirely surprised, by this failure to push for justice. While not Palestinian, I saw and lived the Israeli massacre of Gaza, and every day see its repercussions, in the shattered families, shattered streets, shattered economy, shattered hopes…

I think of the long list of names, of martyrs, of families of martyrs –still living with the memory of their loved ones’ brutal murder, still living amidst the ruins of their homes, past, memories –and all of those affected by the massacre of Gaza. It is these million and a half that the PA leadership has utterly betrayed. Beyond all political posturing, it is simply impossible to imagine how these assaulted Palestinians must be feeling right now, neglected over the decades and now their own testimonies have been whitewashed and shelved, robbing them of any potential of justice.

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Amer and Shireen al Helo from Zaytoun: their infant daughter Farah was shot at close range by an Israeli soldier and bled to death in her mother’s arms; their father was the first to be shot point blank while seeking shelter under their stairwell from the bombing outside; their brother was targeted by a drone attack a day earlier.

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The Abu Halima family from Attatra: terrorized by Israeli tank shelling while seeking shelter in their home; their home was struck multiple times by tank shells, including white phosphorous; Shahed, a 1.5 year old infant girl, was burned to death by white phosphorous fires: “We kept pouring water on her body but it was still on fire. We wrapped her in blankets, and when we later unwrapped the blankets her corpse was still smoking,” testified Daelet Abu Halima, Shahed’s aunt.

Sadallah, the father of the family, and three of his sons (13, 11, and 10 years old) were killed by Israeli tank shelling –unable to receive any medical care (ambulances were prevented by the IOF from reaching many regions, including in al Attatra –I was in an ambulance that had to turn back due to the presence of the Israeli tanks) –believed to have died from their injuries over the course of the days which followed the attack.

The various family members suffered serious and deep chemical burns which Dr. Nafez abu Shabaan, head of the burn department, had attributed to white phosphorous burns. “It is unlike any burns we have treated,” he had said. “The burns go to the bone, and smoke for hours after treatment.” The various members of the family had disfiguring burns, one of whom –a woman of 21 –had 43% of her total body surface area burned, her3 year old daughter with 22%.

Matar and Muhammad Abu Halima, teenage cousins living behind the home, were shot at close range while trying to evacuate the injured and the dead. They, too, were left to die, denied medical care.

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Ghada, 21, had 43% of her total body surface area burned by the phosphorous bombing, her 3 year old daughter Mara had 22%.

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Arafa Abd el Dayem: a red crescent medic, high school teacher, selfless and genuine man; targeted by Israeli dart bomb shelling while he and others evacuated wounded and dead also targeted by Israeli shelling. Arafa, allayerhamo (bless his soul), was one of 16 medical rescuers killed by Israeli forces in 23 days: 4 were killed in one day alone. Another 57 were injured. At least 16 ambulances were damaged with at least nine completely destroyed. In contravention to the Geneva Conventions which stipulate the right to access to medical care and the right of medical and emergency workers to perform their duties unharmed.

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Abdul Rahman Ghraben, 14, torn to pieces by a drone missile January 11 during the Israeli-declared “ceasefire” hours; having evacuated their home, the family returned for food and warm clothes (they were sheltering at the January 7-bombed Fakoura school, freezing in winter nights).

“When we were in the house, the Israeli army starting bombing in the area. We were very frightened, we had thought the cease-fire meant we could return home safely. We quickly took whatever clothes and food we could and left the house. I thought Abed was ahead of us. At the school friends told us Abed hadn’t come back. They also said that a drone had fired a missile at our area. People were saying the missile had hit a child and shattered him to pieces. We didn’t know it was Abed,” his mother said. It took two days of searching before the parents found a pant leg which served to identify Abed’s dismembered body. Thereafter, they found bits and pieces of he and the bomb shrapnel, which they collected and kept in a sad plastic bag.

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The Deeb family, house across the street from the bombed UN Fakoura school area: Amal Deeb was in her thirties, a surviving family member told us. When the missile struck, it killed her and 9 others in the extended-family house, including 2 boys and 3 girls. Another 4 were injured, one having both legs amputated.

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The many other stories, only a fraction of which I know:

injured, denied access

7 Minutes

another funeral bombed

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Abed Rabbo area: one family’s story

They Thought I Was Dead

Ensuring maximum casualties in Gaza

It’s so much more than statistics or revolting political games; it’s real people with real tragedies being erased and laughed away; it’s the relevant recent past and potential future.

At a press conference Wednesday, after various speakers –including the surviving family members of martyrs –people assembled hurled their indignation and disgust at Abbas’ poster, a fleet of shoes mimicking those hurled at Bush by the brave Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

But this small expression of frustration is just that, venting. How much Palestinians have to vent for. Would that venting is swiftly followed by dismantlement of the corrupt leadership.

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a call to Palestinian voices:

This is a call for everyone of Palestinian origin to take action now to have their voices heard regarding the fiasco of a leadership that is running the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. If you are not of Palestinian origin and know someone who is please pass this along to them. Whether Muslim or Christian.

If you agree that Mahmoud Abbas has failed the Palestinian people, then please take the time to sign a petition calling for his resignation. The petition also calls for him to be forcefully removed if he refuses to resign.

Petition Link

We want Palestinians from all over the world to sign this so please distribute to every Palestinian man and woman that you know. There is momentum building for Abbas’ ouster and this will help that process, insha’Allah.

Please use Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter to get the word out.

It is time for the Palestinian people to reclaim our rights before they are all given away.

and some good reading:

Abbas helps Israel bury its crimes in Gaza

Goldstone Rejects Netanyahu Remarks

when the PA collaborators overplayed their hands: Abu Mazen investigates

A poverty of leadership

Time for Mahmoud Abbas to step down

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: Decision of Palestinian Leadership and International Pressure an Insult to the Victims

An open letter from Palestine’s human rights community

The Abu Mazen Tapes, the Goldstone Report and the Israeli Blackmail

A Palestinian press agency claims that the surprising decision by Palestinian Authority officials to postpone the discussion of the Goldstone report in the UN Human Rights Council is the result of an Israeli threat. According to a report by Shihab, the Palestinian Authority refused Israel’s demand that it withdraw its support for the harsh report, which Israel considered one-sided.

Following this, Israeli figures showed the PA a series of tapes in which Palestinian Authority officials could be heard urging Israel to continue the operation in Gaza. Israel threatened to reveal the material to media outlets as well as to the UN and this, in turn, resulted in the Palestinian retreat. It was further claimed that the Palestinians were shown footage showing a meeting between Abu Mazen, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then foreign minister Tzippi Livni. In the course of the meeting, according to the report, Abu Mazen attempted to convince Barak to continue the operation. Barak appeared hesitant whereas Abu Mazen was enthusiastic. In addition, a telephone conversation recording between Abed Al-Rahim, secretary general of the Palestinian Authority and director of Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s bureau was presented. The Palestinian senior official can be heard saying that now is the time to bring ground forces into the Jabalya and Shati refugee camps. “The fall of these two camps will bring about the fall of the Hamas regime in Gaza, and will cause them to wave a white flag,” says Abed Al-Rahim. According to the report, Dov Weissglas told Abed Al-Rahim that such a move could result in the deaths of thousands of civilians. “They all voted for Hamas,” says Abed Al-Rahim, “they chose their fate, not us.

PA’s Goldstone block linked to tape

Goldstone’s careful documentation & argument

the Report has pulled together an excellent chronology of all the military incidents that occurred during the six-month ceasefire that started June 19, 2008. This account makes clear– as many official Israeli sources already have– how few in number were the incidents of firing any kind of ordnance from Gaza into Israel during the whole period until November 4– the day on which Israel itself undertook a major and deliberate violation of the ceasefire. But it goes beyond the official Israeli sources in noting that those rockets and missiles that were fired from Gaza prior to November 4 were not attributable to Hamas. many were attributed to– or even claimed by– the Fateh-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades. Others, to Islamic Jihad.

So this picture of an “unstoppably violent” Hamas that Israelis like to portray to the world is quite simply untrue. Yes, Hamas uses violence for political ends. (Like Israel.) But it does not do so irrationally or uncontrollably; and indeed, it turns out that Hamas– like Israel– is deterrable.

The report has a lengthy consideration of the Israeli forces’ firing, on January 6, of four mortars against Al-Fakhoura Street, near to an UNRWA school being used as a shelter for civilians who had fled other zones of fire. The mortars apparently killed more than 31 people. In the course of many, heavily-footnoted pages the report considers all the evidence available to it concerning what actually happened. It noted that the Israelis’ official version of what had happened changed over time.

It finds, para. 690, that:

the attack may have been in response to a mortar attack from an armed Palestinian group but considers the credibility of Israel’s [argument to this effect] damaged by the series of inconsistencies and factual inaccuracies.

It then does some very thoughtful legal analysis of the Israelis’ decision to use mortars in this quite evidently heavily populated area, and concludes thus:

696. [T]he Mission finds the following:

(a) The military advantage to be gained was to stop the alleged firing of mortars that posed a risk to the lives of Israeli armed forces;

(b) Even if there were people firing mortars near al-Fakhura Street, the calculation of the military advantage had to be assessed bearing in mind the chances of success in killing the targets as against the risk of firing into a street full of civilians and very near a shelter with 1,368 civilians and of which the Israeli authorities had been informed.

697. The Mission recognizes that for all armies proportionality decisions will present very genuine dilemmas in certain cases. The Mission does not consider this to be such a case.

I note that one of the other three members of Goldstone’s fact-finding team was Colonel Desmond Travers, a former officer in the Irish Armed Forces and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).

One of the real strengths of the report is that it provides, for the world public, real details about the terrible way in which named people were hurt during the fighting. It also provides a record of evident and systematic disinformation about the nature of the Israeli actions.

Last Straw for the Palestinian “Authority”?

Mahmoud Abbas’ chronic submissiveness **Amira Hass

In a single phone call to his man in Geneva, Mahmoud Abbas has demonstrated his disregard for popular action, and his lack of faith in its accumulative power and the place of mass movements in processes of change.

For nine months, thousands of people – Palestinians, their supporters abroad and Israeli anti-occupation activists – toiled to ensure that the legacy of Israel’s military offensive against Gaza would not be consigned to the garbage bin of occupying nations obsessed with their feelings of superiority.

Thanks to the Goldstone report, even in Israel voices began to stammer about the need for an independent inquiry into the assault. But shortly after Abbas was visited by the American consul-general on Thursday, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization got on the phone to instruct his representative on the United Nations Human Rights Council to ask his colleagues to postpone the vote on the adoption of the report’s conclusions.

…Abbas confirmed in fact that Hamas is the real national leadership, and gave ammunition to those who claim that its path – the path of armed struggle – yields results that negotiations do not.

…This was not an isolated gaffe, but a pattern that has endured since the PLO leadership concocted, together with naive Norwegians and shrewd Israeli lawyers, the Oslo Accords. Disregard for, and lack of interest in the knowledge and experience accumulated in the inhabitants of the occupied territories’ prolonged popular struggle led to the first errors: the absence of an explicit statement that the aim was the establishment of a state within defined borders, not insisting on a construction freeze in the settlements, forgetting about the prisoners, endorsing the Area C arrangement, etc.

The chronic submissiveness is always explained by a desire to “make progress.” But for the PLO and Fatah, progress is the very continued existence of the Palestinian Authority, which is now functioning more than ever before as a subcontractor for the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and the Civil Administration.

A World Without Law

Consider the consequences of the Israeli PR blitz that is now blanketing the world as its defiant answer to the United Nations’ authorized investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity by the state of Israel, known as the Goldstone Report. Ironically, the existence of the United Nations as an internationally accepted body charged with protection of all world citizens through its Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the continued acceptance by its members of the Geneva Conventions, resulted in part from the actions of the Nazi state against the Jews.

Now the Jewish state of Israel, in a manner analogous to their situation in occupied Europe, have been charged with crimes against a people who have no state and no defense except international law as incorporated by the UN through the International Court of Justice. Should the Israeli blitz effectively neutralize the actions of the 192 nations that constitute the UN by forcing the United States to veto any action that would result from the Goldstone Report, it will have removed the rule of law from the international arena. Israel will have made it clear that it is subject to no law but its own.

If the parallel findings of B’Tselem, Amnesty International, the Red Cross and the Council of Human Rights are equally flawed and biased against Israel, take them to court and prove that fact. If Hamas is a terrorist organization acting in defiance of international law, prove it by bringing Hamas before the courts, not declare it a terrorist organization because Israel and the United States say it is.

If Hamas has hurled thousands of “rockets” at Israel, defend the right to hurl thousands of state of the art missiles in return and invade a people locked behind walls with tanks and armored ordinance while the sky above is filled with F-16s, armed helicopters and drones, and the sea churns with destroyers that shell Gaza and its people unable to escape the devastation and chaos, and present the logic of that action before the international courts.”

If Israel is innocent, it has nothing to fear, after all, it is a member of an organization of its peers that accepted Israel as a member in 1949.

The power of the United Nations rests on a simple premise, the rights of every nation and all people to equal treatment under the law. No military force answers to the UN; it can field no army, it can imprison no nation, it can destroy no member state. It exists by virtue of moral persuasion, by mutual trust, and acknowledged and defined respect and dignity of all life.

*Mr. Cook places far more faith in the UN than I am able to muster… however, if it were the law-upholding institution it purports to be, his points are excellent.

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