Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gaza Massacre in Pictures: Warning Graphic

In Pictures: Massacre of Gazan Children


December 30, 2008

PNN -Israeli forces killed two girls in an air attack on Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip early Tuesday. Local sources report that a missile destroyed a house belonging to Talal Hamdan in Beit Hanoun today, killing his two daughters of 12 and 4 years old. A son is reported seriously injured. Yesterday Israeli forces killed four sisters and a four year old boy. Over 40 children have been killed since Saturday.

The bodies of two girls, aged four and 11, who were killed in an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip Strip December 30, 2008.

Palestinians carry the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan during her funeral in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008.

Palestinians bury the body of 4-year-old Lama Hamdan at Beit Hanoun cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008.

Palestinians mourn beside the bodies of three children in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008.

Three Palestinian children from the Balosha family, of five who were all killed in the same Israeli missile strike, are seen in the morgue before their burial at Kamal Edwan hopsital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008

Palestinian children from the Balosha family, who were all killed in the same Israeli missile strike, are seen in the morgue before their burial at Kamal Edwan hopsital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008.

Palestinian women mourn over the bodies of three Palestinian children from the Balosha family, of five who were all killed in the same Israeli missile strike, in the morgue before their burial at Kamal Edwan hopsital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008.

A Palestinian man buries the body of 4-year-old Dena Balosha at Beit Lahiya cemetery in the northern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008.

A Palestinian man carries the body of his 4-year-old daughter Dena Balosha during the funeral for her and her four sisters in Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008.

A Palestinian mourner shouts as he lifts the body of a child from the Balosha family, of which three children and two teenagers, were killed in an Israeli missile strike,durng their funeral in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008.

A Palestinian man buries the body of 5-year-old Sodqi al-Absi in Rafah cemetery in the southern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008.

A Palestinian mourner carries the body of 4-year-old Dena Balosha, foreground, one of five members of the same family including three children and two teenagers who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, during their funeral in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008

The father of Palestinian Dena Balosha, 4, left, one of five members of the same family including three children and two teenagers who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, carries her body during their funeral in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008.

bedroom of 5 killed girls

Samera Baalusha (34) carries her surving child Mohamad (15 months) while she waits to see the body of her daughter Jawaher Baalusha (aged 4) during the funeral held for her and four of her sisters who were killed in an Israeli missile strike, on December 29, 2008 in the Jebaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip

In the northern Gaza town of Jabalya, hundreds took to the streets to attend a funeral procession for five girls of the same family who were killed in one Israeli strike.

In this image taken from APTN video, Palestinian men carry two injured children into hospital after Israeli aircraft struck Hamas security compounds across Gaza in Gaza City on Saturday Dec. 27, 2008.

A wounded Palestinian boy is carried by his father following an Israel air strike in Gaza December 28, 2008.

A Palestinian boy is carried to al-Shifa hospital following an Israel air strike in Gaza December 28, 2008

A Palestinian security force officer carries a wounded girl into the emergency room at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008.

A Palestinian girl wounded in an Israeli missile strike is carried into the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008.

A Palestinian man carries his wounded child to the treatment room of Kamal Edwan hospital following an Israeli missile strike in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 29, 2008.

A wounded Palestinian boy is carried by his father at a hospital in Gaza City following an Israeli air strike

Children Wounded - Image by Watan News Agency

Shifa hospital ICU: a six year old down’s syndrom with brain trauma
recording of Doc Jazz playing a (new!) song emanating from the grief not only over the war crimes committed by the thugs of the state of Israel against defenseless Palestinian children - but over the criminal silence with which this Holocaust is condoned ... Break the Silence!

Bullies Of The Gaza Skies

The IAF, bullies of the clear blue skies
By Gideon Levy

Our finest young men are attacking Gaza now. Good boys from good homes are doing bad things. Most of them are eloquent, impressive, self-confident, often even highly principled in their own eyes, and on Black Saturday dozens of them set out to bomb some of the targets in our "target bank" for the Gaza Strip.

They set out to bomb the graduation ceremony for young police officers who had found that rare Gaza commodity, a job, massacring them by the dozen. They bombed a mosque, killing five sisters of the Balousha family, the youngest of whom was 4. They bombed a police station, hitting a doctor nearby; she lies in a vegetative state in Shifa Hospital, which is bursting with wounded and dead. They bombed a university that we in Israel call the Palestinian Rafael, the equivalent of Israel's weapons developer, and destroyed student dormitories. They dropped hundreds of bombs out of blue skies free of all resistance.

In four days they killed 375 people. They did not, and could not, distinguish between a Hamas official and his children, between a traffic cop and a Qassam launch operator, between a weapons cache and a health clinic, between the first and second floors of a densely populated apartment building with dozens of children inside. According to reports, about half of the people killed were innocent civilians. We're not complaining about the pilots' accuracy, it cannot be otherwise when the weapon is a plane and the objective is a tiny, crowded strip of land. Our excellent pilots are effectively bullies now. As in training flights, they bomb undisturbed, facing neither an air force nor defense system.

It is hard to judge what they are thinking, how they feel. It's unlikely to be relevant, anyway. They are measured by their actions. In any event, from an altitude of thousands of feet the picture looks as sterile as a Rorschach inkblot. Lock onto the target, press the button and then a black column of smoke. Another "successful hit." None see the effects on the ground of their actions. Their heads must surely be filled with Gaza horror stories - they themselves have never been there - as if there aren't a million and a half people living there who only want to live with a minimum of honor, some of them young like themselves, with dreams of studying, working, raising a family but who have no chance to fulfill their dreams with or without the bombing.

Do the pilots think about them, the children of refugees whose parents and grandparents have already been driven from their lives? Do they think about the thousands of people they have left permanently disabled in a place without a single hospital worthy of the name and no rehabilitation centers at all? Do they think about the burning hatred they are planting not only in Gaza but in other corners of the world amid the horrific images on television?

It was not the pilots who decided to go to war, but they are the subcontractors. The real accounting must be with the decision makers, but the pilots are their partners. When they return home they will be welcomed with all the respect and honor we reserve for them. It appears that not only will no one try to provoke moral questioning among them, but that they are considered the real heroes of this cursed war. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman is already going over the top with praise in his daily briefings for the "wonderful work" they are doing. He too, of course, completely ignores the images from Gaza. After all, these are not sadistic Border Police officers beating up Arabs in the alleys of Nablus and the center of Hebron, or cruel undercover soldiers who shoot their targets point-blank in cold blood. These, as we have said, are our finest young men.

Left: All civilians living in Gaza are collectively guilty wrote Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. Rabbi Eliyahu ruled that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate carpet bombing and killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings.

The letter, published in Olam Katan [Small World], a weekly pamphlet to be distributed in synagogues nationwide this Friday, cited the biblical story of the Shechem massacre (Genesis 34) and Maimonides' commentary (Laws of Kings 9, 14) on the story as proof texts for his legal decision.

Maybe if they were to confront the results of their "wonderful work" even once they would regret their decisions, they would reconsider the effects of their actions. If they were to go just once to Jerusalem's Alyn Hospital Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center, where for nearly three years Marya Aman, 7, has been hospitalized - she is a quadriplegic who runs her wheelchair, and her life, with her chin - they would be shocked. This adorable little girl was hit by a missile in Gaza that killed almost her entire family, the handiwork of our pilots.

But all of this is well hidden from the pilots' eyes. They are only doing their job, as the saying goes, only following orders like bombing machines. In the past few days they have excelled at this, and the results are there for the entire world to see. Gaza is licking its wounds, just like Lebanon before it, and almost no one pauses for a moment to ask whether all this is necessary, or unavoidable, or whether it contributes to Israel's security and moral image. Is it really the case that our pilots return safely to base, or are they in fact returning to them as callous, cruel and blind people?

Ethnic Cleansing Arabs Made Israel

Left: Yasser Arafat, Leader of the PLO, Hero to many, foe to Israel for decades, Nobel Laureate 1994, pictured in 1974. I have come, "bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun". He asked the United Nations, "Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand."

"Those who call us terrorists wish to prevent world public opinion from discovering the truth about us and from seeing the justice on our faces. They seek to bide and hide the terrorism and tyranny of their acts, and our own posture of self-defence." Speech to United Nations, New York, November 13, 1974. (1929-2004)

Why Bombing Ashekelon Is The Most Tragic Irony
By Robert Fisk

How easy it is to snap off the history of the Palestinians, to delete the narrative of their tragedy, to avoid a grotesque irony about Gaza which – in any other conflict – journalists would be writing about in their first reports: that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.

That is why Gaza exists: because the Palestinians who lived in Ashkelon and the fields around it – Askalaan in Arabic – were dispossessed from their lands in 1948 when Israel was created and ended up on the beaches of Gaza. They – or their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the one and a half million Palestinian refugees crammed into the cesspool of Gaza, 80 per cent of whose families once lived in what is now Israel. This, historically, is the real story: most of the people of Gaza don't come from Gaza.

But watching the news shows, you'd think that history began yesterday, that a bunch of bearded anti-Semitic Islamist lunatics suddenly popped up in the slums of Gaza – a rubbish dump of destitute people of no origin – and began firing missiles into peace-loving, democratic Israel, only to meet with the righteous vengeance of the Israeli air force. The fact that the five sisters killed in Jabalya camp had grandparents who came from the very land whose more recent owners have now bombed them to death simply does not appear in the story.

Both Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres said back in the 1990s that they wished Gaza would just go away, drop into the sea, and you can see why. The existence of Gaza is a permanent reminder of those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes to Israel, who fled or were driven out through fear or Israeli ethnic cleansing 60 years ago, when tidal waves of refugees had washed over Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War and when a bunch of Arabs kicked out of their property didn't worry the world.

Well, the world should worry now. Crammed into the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world are a dispossessed people who have been living in refuse and sewage and, for the past six months, in hunger and darkness, and who have been sanctioned by us, the West. Gaza was always an insurrectionary place. It took two years for Ariel Sharon's bloody "pacification", starting in 1971, to be completed, and Gaza is not going to be tamed now.

Left: Dr. Edward Said. "No. Victims do not ask their executioner: "Am I you? Had my sword been bigger than my rose, would you have asked if I would have acted like you?" (1935-2003)

Alas for the Palestinians, their most powerful political voice – I'm talking about the late Edward Said, not the late Yassir Arafat (and how the Israelis must miss him now) – is silent and their predicament largely unexplained by their deplorable, foolish spokesmen. "It's the most terrifying place I've ever been in," Said once said of Gaza. "It's a horrifyingly sad place because of the desperation and misery of the way people live. I was unprepared for camps that are much worse than anything I saw in South Africa."

Of course, it was left to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to admit that "sometimes also civilians pay the price," an argument she would not make, of course, if the fatality statistics were reversed. Indeed, it was instructive yesterday to hear a member of the American Enterprise Institute – faithfully parroting Israel's arguments – defending the outrageous Palestinian death toll by saying that it was "pointless to play the numbers game". Yet if more than 300 Israelis had been killed – against two dead Palestinians – be sure that the "numbers game" and the disproportionate violence would be all too relevant. The simple fact is that Palestinian deaths matter far less than Israeli deaths. True, we know that 180 of the dead were Hamas members. But what of the rest? If the UN's conservative figure of 57 civilian fatalities is correct, the death toll is still a disgrace.

To find both the US and Britain failing to condemn the Israeli onslaught while blaming Hamas is not surprising. US Middle East policy and Israeli policy are now indistinguishable and Gordon Brown is following the same dog-like devotion to the Bush administration as his predecessor.

As usual, the Arab satraps – largely paid and armed by the West – are silent, preposterously calling for an Arab summit on the crisis which will (if it even takes place), appoint an "action committee" to draw up a report which will never be written. For that is the way with the Arab world and its corrupt rulers. As for Hamas, they will, of course, enjoy the discomfiture of the Arab potentates while cynically waiting for Israel to talk to them. Which they will. Indeed, within a few months, we'll be hearing that Israel and Hamas have been having "secret talks" – just as we once did about Israel and the PLO. But by then, the dead will be long buried and we will be facing the next crisis since the last crisis.

Bangladesh Ends Military Rule

Awami League wins 231 of 297 seats in Bangladesh Elections.

Bangladesh’s former premier Sheikh Hasina Wajed won the country’s first election since 2001 in a landslide on Tuesday, December 30, 2008, crushing her rival to retake power in the south Asian nation.

The election commission said Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party had won 231 of the 297 seats in parliament counted so far, giving her an overwhelming win in Monday’s vote with just a few results still to be tallied.

“She has a clear majority to govern without any other party,” commission spokesman S. M. Asaduzzaman told AFP.

Her rival Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which won the last election in 2001 by a huge margin, garnered only 27 seats in the ballot, which ended two years of rule by an army-backed caretaker government. The BNP was allied with the religious party, Amaat-I-Islami. Meanwhile, the majority of youth and average Bangladeshi sought and responded to a mordernization message presented by Awami. The party had forwarded a plan for internet access and measures to lower food prices as part of its platform.

“There have been a lot of irregularities,” BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed said.

“Our supporters have been kept from voting, and our polling agents and officials have been barred from performing their duties.” Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, known as the battling begums, ruled alternately from 1991 until the interim government was installed, and their bitter personal rivalry has been blamed for paralyzing political life in the country.

The caretaker regime made efforts to shake up the system, and went so far as to jail both women for corruption, but agreed to release them to contest the election.

Although polling was peaceful, there were concerns that the restoration of democracy could see the country slip back into the negative, confrontational politics of the past.

Left: The Awami League victory sparked scenes of jubilation among the people on the streets of Bangladesh.

Newspapers hailed Sheikh Hasina’s performance, with the English-language Daily Star describing the win as “stunning” proof that the country was “hungry for change.” An UN-funded digital electoral roll, which eliminated 12.7 million fake names, appeared to have put a lid on the widespread vote rigging seen in previous polls, observers said.

Manzoor Hasan, director of BRAC University’s Institute of Governance Studies in Dhaka, said the next 48 hours would determine whether or not the BNP accepted the result.

He also warned that with such a big majority, Sheikh Hasina carried an enormous responsibility.

“This is the danger of an absolute majority with any government. The possibility that it will steamroll the opposition and do whatever the government wants to do,” he said.

The election attracted a record voter turnout of 85 per cent, with the figure reaching 90 per cent in rural areas, the Election Commission said.

A team of south Asian poll monitors concluded that voting had been “free, fair and transparent,” while EU observers also said procedures had been correctly followed.

“All Bangladeshis can take great pride in the success of these elections,” the US State Department said in a statement.

Left: Sheikh Hasina has always managed to garner support of the working classes of Bangladesh.

“The high voter turnout underscores the people’s desire to see democracy restored as well to have a voice in their future,” it said.

The Jamaat-i-Islami party, the BNP’s key partner, was way down on the 17 seats it garnered in 2001, winning just two this time.

The army-backed government took power in January 2007 following months of political unrest in which at least 35 people were killed.

Some 50,000 troops had been on alert nationwide during Monday’s voting, while 600,000 policemen were deployed to crack down on fraud or disruption at the 35,000 polling booths.

There were also 200,000 observers monitoring the poll, including 2,500 from abroad.

The Awami League, formed in 1948, traditionally had socialist economic policies but Sheikh Hasina, 61, has moved it towards the capitalist model.

Her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, led Bangladesh in its liberation struggle against Pakistan in 1971 and was assassinated in a 1975 military coup.

She was targeted by extremist elements in 2004, narrowly escaping a gun attack at a rally that killed 20 supporters and left her with damaged hearing.

Election Commissioner Shakhawat Hossain told AFP that although no date had been set, the new government was likely to be sworn in early next month.

“The maximum timeframe is one month but the signal that we are getting from the outgoing government is that power will be transferred by January 7,” he said.

Sheikh Hasina has since offered cabinet posts to the BNP in return for calm and cooperation.

Left: Ms Zia has rejected the poll results

Clashes erupt after Khaleda rejects poll results

Former Bangladeshi prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, defeated by a landslide in Monday’s parliamentary election, claimed on Tuesday there had been widespread vote rigging.

Also on Tuesday, clashes between workers of the two leading political parties began, with at least one man being killed, according to a television channel.

“We have confirmed reports of rigging and other irregularities in many polling stations across the country,” Ms Zia told reporters, giving her first reaction to the election.

“So we reject the election outcome,” she said. “We are collecting details of more irregularities and will give to the media and appropriate authorities over next few days,” she told reporters at her Dhaka party office.

One man was killed and about 150 people were injured in clashes between rival political activists, a private television station reported.

“One man died in northern Pabna area, where around 50 others were injured in the clashes,” Diganta Tva said, quoting police and witnesses.

Around 100 more people were hurt in post-election violence across the country, it said.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gaza Death Toll Rise to 380, 1,725 Wounded, Hundreds Critically

Israeli Warplanes Target Rafah Tunnels; Fatalities Rise To 368 Gazans, 1,700 Wounded, Hundreds Critically

Left: A Palestinian woman carries a child on the rubble of a damaged house near the destroyed Hamas government buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, December 30, 2008. Early Tuesday, Israeli aircraft dropped at least 16 bombs on five Hamas government buildings in a Gaza City complex, destroying them, setting fires and sending rubble flying for hundreds of yards, witnesses said. Rescue workers said 40 people were injured. MaanImages/Hatem Omar

Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli F16 warplanes fired heavy missiles at the tunnels on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip Tuesday night.

According to Israeli TV, 12 heavy missiles landed inside the tunnels. This is the second Israeli attack on the Rafah border and the tunnels beneath the area in as many days.

The shelling came hours after the Egyptians announced closure of the crossing following Israeli threats to shell the area. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in a speech Tuesday afternoon that his country would not open the Rafah crossing unless it is controlled by the PA and European monitors.

There are no reports of deaths from the latest tunnel attack.

The death toll since the Israeli attacks began Saturday has reached 380 with more than 1,725 injured, hundreds seriously so.

5:00pm A lathe workshop belonging to the Ashour family in the Zaitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, and a dairy belonging to the Dalloul family in the Sabra neighborhood, also in Gaza City were destroyed by Israeli missile fire. No casualties have been reported.

2:00pm Israeli warplanes bombarded Khan Younis in the southern Strip

1:00pm Israeli helicopters targeted a site used by Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades in Beit Lahiya and another site in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported in either raid.

11:45am An Israeli missile made a direct hit on three siblings killing two girls, 4 and 11-year old sisters. The three were throwing garbage into a nearby dumpster. The youngest died instantly and the eldest died en route to the hospital. The lack of ambulances in the area meant her parents had to load the girl's body onto a donkey-cart to try and get her to a doctor.

The family lives on As-Sekka Street in Beit Hanoun, and the area was hit as Israeli warplanes targeted a nearby farming cooperative affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), according to two international eyewitnesses.

The third casualty was a passerby, killed by flying debris as Israeli warplanes dropped missiles on a de facto government police station in Al-Qarara east of Khan Younis.

Early in the morning on Israel's fourth day of attack residents could hear heavy shelling and airstrikes against the northern and central regions of the Gaza Strip.

Overnight Monday

Israeli warplanes, drones and apache helicopters hit 56 targets overnight on Monday including training sites and homes affiliated with the Al-Qassam Brigades, as well as de facto government ambulance services and medical crews.

A home next to the Caliph's Mosque in the northern Gaza Strip was demolished along with an Al-Shamal Governorate building in the Ash-Sheikh Zayid area. The car of a Gazan civilian received a direct hit on Aj-Jala Street, and several already damaged buildings in the area were further bombarded.

Airstrikes in the north also targeted government ministry buildings in Tel Al-Hawa. The buildings were bombed several times through the night and were completely demolished.

In the southern Gaza Strip a de facto government building was demolished when Israel launched two missiles at the structures. This is the second time Israel has targeted the buildings, the first was on Saturday in the first wave of massive strikes.

West of Gaza City Israeli forces targeted the Bader area, which is affiliated to the Al-Qassam Brigades. Also demolished in the strike was the Omar Bin Al-Khattab mosque in the central city. It is the sixth mosque to be targeted since Saturday.

Always calculating, forever scheming, the Zionist plan becomes more apparent as they continue to devastate all avenues availed to Gaza for its sustenance except those at the disposal of the Jews. Maybe the Zionists will ask the Palestinians to trade food for land in the end.

Gaza Outrage from Venezuela

Venezuela Condemns “Criminal” Israeli Attack

Carora, December 29, 2008 — Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry condemned the Israeli bombing of Gaza in a statement released Saturday, expressing its “profound indignation” over the “criminal attack,” and urged the Israeli government to adhere to the United Nations Charter.

The Venezuelan government affirmed its “solidarity with the Palestinian people,” and called for “the governments of the world who desire peace and justice to raise their voices against this aggression.”

A number of world leaders and governments have since criticized the Israeli attacks, including the European Union, Russia, China, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

“The only accomplice to this attack has been the government of the United States,” Venezuela’s statement continued, calling the US support for Israel latest military action the “icing on the cake of the outgoing criminal [Bush] administration,” whose rule has been “filled with violence and characterized worldwide by its continued disrespect of human rights.”

United States officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, blamed the violence exclusively on the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

The Israeli bombing has caused the death of over 320 Palestinians, including over 51 civilians according to a “conservative and rising” estimate by a United Nations aid agency, while attacks launched on Israel from Gaza killed one Israeli civilian.

Protests in Caracas against Gaza “genocide”

Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Israeli embassy on Sunday, in opposition to what one speaker referred to as “genocide” by the Israeli “occupation forces.”

The protests will continue Monday morning in front of the embassy, according to a rally organizer, Hindu Anderi, in statements broadcast on regional news network Telesur.

Anderi, a Palestinian human rights activist, thanked the Venezuelan government for its position on the conflict, but demanded concrete action, saying “solidarity needs to mean taking measures that will affect Israel economically and politically, because otherwise the condition of the Palestinian people will not change.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

State Terrorism - Zionism

The patience of all decent men must surely be exhausted.

The slaughter of innocents in Gaza, with more than 300 reported killed in raids on “Hamas terror operatives” (as the Israeli military put it), amounted to “a mass execution,” its policy of targeted assassination strategy on steroids.

Can there now be any doubt who the real terrorists are?

The killing spree could not have happened without the tacit approval and active complicity of America, Britain, the EU and the Arab puppet regimes in the region. The political and economic machine that direct the pro-Israel western alliance were partying, gorging themselves on Christmas lair and Hanukkah fare or binge-shopping while this massacre of hungry women and children and their despairing menfolk in Gaza was being executed. A sinister plan hatched more than six months ago in the guise of peace and truce.

According to the US definition of terrorism Israel is squarely in the frame. Under Section 3 of Executive Order 13224 "Blocking Property and prohibiting Transactions with Persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support Terrorism," the term “terrorism” means an activity that…

(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and

(ii) appears to be intended

  • To intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
  • To influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
  • To affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.
The order and its definition of terrorism, signed 23 September 2001 by George W Bush, is used to outlaw and crush any organization, individual or country the US doesn’t like. The Israeli regime’s "amoral thugs," as a British MP branded them, have plainly been terrorizing the Palestinians for the last 60 years -- if not 100 years.

The long drawn-out siege and blockade of Gaza, and the numerous military assaults on its people and their legitimate government, are only the latest crimes in a catalogue of torment and terror. They are clearly attempts to "intimidate and coerce," while the mass destruction of Gaza's infrastructure, the withholding of humanitarian aid, the assassinations, the abductions, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes, and the many violent and dangerous acts including indiscriminate bombing and shelling (and the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon and advanced US Bunker Busting Bombs that kill everything in the vicinity--known to be overpopulated and are not genuine military targets), ensure Israel’s ugly head is a perfect fit for America’s terrorist hat.

If the rabid Zionists in Tel Aviv think they will scare Gazans with this once tried, twice failed, scheme of committing atrocities, which they advanced on Lebanon 2006, hoping that the people will say "these Jews are crazy" and rise up and butcher their leadership, they are again mistakenly believing their own vapid propaganda. Unless these European Jews are willing to up the ante on the Nazis they will never defeat the Palestinians -- though not for a lack of trying.

Israel has instead chosen a more palatable form of genocide, one that is stealthy yet efficient, which can be propped with proper public relations coups. No these are not Nazis per se, rather the Jews of Israel opt for slow and deliberate decades-long asphyxiation of Palestinian institutions: Involving both active and passive methods of ethnic cleansing, such as a deterioration of their social fabric, decimation of their economy, erosion of access to natural resources, diversion of their land and prevention of the maintenance of their everyday welfare concerns -- although tactical and strategic assassinations of vast numbers of civilians remain an integral component of this final solution.

The long view of the plan envisions a celebratory Zionist moment when a majority of Palestinians will be fed up and emigrate. Meanwhile those remaining will be sufficiently weakened to a point of acquiescence -- a necessity of this sufficiency has therefore, hued and driven Zionist policy for the past one hundred years in Palestine.

Terrorism: A weapon of the weak or powerful?

As so often, the term 'terrorism' has proved a rhetorical smokescreen under cover of which the strong crush the weak

Gaza: the logic of colonial power
By Nir Rosen

I have spent most of the Bush administration's tenure reporting from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia and other conflicts. I have been published by most major publications. I have been interviewed by most major networks and I have even testified before the senate foreign relations committee. The Bush administration began its tenure with Palestinians being massacred and it ends with Israel committing one of its largest massacres yet in a 60-year history of occupying Palestinian land. Bush's final visit to the country he chose to occupy ended with an educated secular Shiite Iraqi throwing his shoes at him, expressing the feelings of the entire Arab world save its dictators who have imprudently attached themselves to a hated American regime.

Once again, the Israelis bomb the starving and imprisoned population of Gaza. The world watches the plight of 1.5 million Gazans live on TV and online; the western media largely justify the Israeli action. Even some Arab outlets try to equate the Palestinian resistance with the might of the Israeli military machine. And none of this is a surprise. The Israelis just concluded a round-the-world public relations campaign to gather support for their assault, even gaining the collaboration of Arab states like Egypt.

The international community is directly guilty for this latest massacre. Will it remain immune from the wrath of a desperate people? So far, there have been large demonstrations in Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq. The people of the Arab world will not forget. The Palestinians will not forget. "All that you have done to our people is registered in our notebooks," as the poet Mahmoud Darwish said.

I have often been asked by policy analysts, policy-makers and those stuck with implementing those policies for my advice on what I think America should do to promote peace or win hearts and minds in the Muslim world. It too often feels futile, because such a revolution in American policy would be required that only a true revolution in the American government could bring about the needed changes. An American journal once asked me to contribute an essay to a discussion on whether terrorism or attacks against civilians could ever be justified. My answer was that an American journal should not be asking whether attacks on civilians can ever be justified. This is a question for the weak, for the Native Americans in the past, for the Jews in Nazi Germany, for the Palestinians today, to ask themselves.

Terrorism is a normative term and not a descriptive concept. An empty word that means everything and nothing, it is used to describe what the Other does, not what we do. The powerful – whether Israel, America, Russia or China – will always describe their victims' struggle as terrorism, but the destruction of Chechnya, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the slow slaughter of the remaining Palestinians, the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – with the tens of thousands of civilians it has killed … these will never earn the title of terrorism, though civilians were the target and terrorising them was the purpose.

Counterinsurgency, now popular again among in the Pentagon, is another way of saying the suppression of national liberation struggles. Terror and intimidation are as essential to it as is winning hearts and minds.

Normative rules are determined by power relations. Those with power determine what is legal and illegal. They besiege the weak in legal prohibitions to prevent the weak from resisting. For the weak to resist is illegal by definition. Concepts like terrorism are invented and used normatively as if a neutral court had produced them, instead of the oppressors. The danger in this excessive use of legality actually undermines legality, diminishing the credibility of international institutions such as the United Nations. It becomes apparent that the powerful, those who make the rules, insist on legality merely to preserve the power relations that serve them or to maintain their occupation and colonialism.

Attacking civilians is the last, most desperate and basic method of resistance when confronting overwhelming odds and imminent eradication. The Palestinians do not attack Israeli civilians with the expectation that they will destroy Israel. The land of Palestine is being stolen day after day; the Palestinian people is being eradicated day after day. As a result, they respond in whatever way they can to apply pressure on Israel. Colonial powers use civilians strategically, settling them to claim land and dispossess the native population, be they Indians in North America or Palestinians in what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories. When the native population sees that there is an irreversible dynamic that is taking away their land and identity with the support of an overwhelming power, then they are forced to resort to whatever methods of resistance they can.

Not long ago, 19-year-old Qassem al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian man from Jerusalem drove his car into a group of soldiers at an intersection. "The terrorist", as the Israeli newspaper Haaretz called him, was shot and killed. In two separate incidents last July, Palestinians from Jerusalem also used vehicles to attack Israelis. The attackers were not part of an organisation. Although those Palestinian men were also killed, senior Israeli officials called for their homes to be demolished. In a separate incident, Haaretz reported that a Palestinian woman blinded an Israeli soldier in one eye when she threw acid n his face. "The terrorist was arrested by security forces," the paper said. An occupied citizen attacks an occupying soldier, and she is the terrorist?

In September, Bush spoke at the United Nations. No cause could justify the deliberate taking of human life, he said. Yet the US has killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes on populated areas. When you drop bombs on populated areas knowing there will be some "collateral" civilian damage, but accepting it as worth it, then it is deliberate. When you impose sanctions, as the US did on Saddam era Iraq, that kill hundreds of thousands, and then say their deaths were worth it, as secretary of state Albright did, then you are deliberately killing people for a political goal. When you seek to "shock and awe", as president Bush did, when he bombed Iraq, you are engaging in terrorism.

Just as the traditional American cowboy film presented white Americans under siege, with Indians as the aggressors, which was the opposite of reality, so, too, have Palestinians become the aggressors and not the victims. Beginning in 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were deliberately cleansed and expelled from their homes, and hundreds of their villages were destroyed, and their land was settled by colonists, who went on to deny their very existence and wage a 60-year war against the remaining natives and the national liberation movements the Palestinians established around the world. Every day, more of Palestine is stolen, more Palestinians are killed. To call oneself an Israeli Zionist is to engage in the dispossession of entire people. It is not that, qua Palestinians, they have the right to use any means necessary, it is because they are weak. The weak have much less power than the strong, and can do much less damage. The Palestinians would not have ever bombed cafes or used home-made missiles if they had tanks and airplanes. It is only in the current context that their actions are justified, and there are obvious limits.

It is impossible to make a universal ethical claim or establish a Kantian principle justifying any act to resist colonialism or domination by overwhelming power. And there are other questions I have trouble answering. Can an Iraqi be justified in attacking the United States? After all, his country was attacked without provocation, and destroyed, with millions of refugees created, hundreds of thousands of dead. And this, after 12 years of bombings and sanctions, which killed many and destroyed the lives of many others.

I could argue that all Americans are benefiting from their country's exploits without having to pay the price, and that, in today's world, the imperial machine is not merely the military but a military-civilian network. And I could also say that Americans elected the Bush administration twice and elected representatives who did nothing to stop the war, and the American people themselves did nothing. From the perspective of an American, or an Israeli, or other powerful aggressors, if you are strong, everything you do is justifiable, and nothing the weak do is legitimate. It's merely a question of what side you choose: the side of the strong or the side of the weak.

Israel and its allies in the west and in Arab regimes such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have managed to corrupt the PLO leadership, to suborn them with the promise of power at the expense of liberty for their people, creating a first – a liberation movement that collaborated with the occupier. Israeli elections are coming up and, as usual, these elections are accompanied by war to bolster the candidates. You cannot be prime minister of Israel without enough Arab blood on your hands. An Israeli general has threatened to set Gaza back decades, just as they threatened to set Lebanon back decades in 2006. As if strangling Gaza and denying its people fuel, power or food had not set it back decades already.

The democratically elected Hamas government was targeted for destruction from the day it won the elections in 2006. The world told the Palestinians that they cannot have democracy, as if the goal was to radicalise them further and as if that would not have a consequence. Israel claims it is targeting Hamas's military forces. This is not true. It is targeting Palestinian police forces and killing them, including some such as the chief of police, Tawfiq Jaber, who was actually a former Fatah official who stayed on in his post after Hamas took control of Gaza. What will happen to a society with no security forces? What do the Israelis expect to happen when forces more radical than Hamas gain power?

A Zionist Israel is not a viable long-term project and Israeli settlements, land expropriation and separation barriers have long since made a two state solution impossible. There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated. But often, as in occupied Algeria, it is the settlers who flee. Eventually, the Palestinians will not be willing to compromise and seek one state for both people. Does the world want to further radicalise them?

Do not be deceived: the persistence of the Palestine problem is the main motive for every anti-American militant in the Arab world and beyond. But now the Bush administration has added Iraq and Afghanistan as additional grievances. America has lost its influence on the Arab masses, even if it can still apply pressure on Arab regimes. But reformists and elites in the Arab world want nothing to do with America.

A failed American administration departs, the promise of a Palestinian state a lie, as more Palestinians are murdered. A new president comes to power, but the people of the Middle East have too much bitter experience of US administrations to have any hope for change. President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden and incoming secretary of state Hillary Clinton have not demonstrated that their view of the Middle East is at all different from previous administrations. As the world prepares to celebrate a new year, how long before it is once again made to feel the pain of those whose oppression it either ignores or supports?

3 Days Of Death - Most Civilians & Non-Combattants Gazans

Live from Palestine, Gaza Strip, December 28, 2008.

Left: The scene of an Israeli missile strike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 28 December 2008. (Hatem Omar/Ma'an Images)

The Longest Night In My Life
By Safa Joudeh

Here's an update on what's happening here from where I am, the second night of Israeli air (land and sea) raids on Gaza.

It's 1:30am but it feels like the sun should be up already. For the past few hours there's been simultaneous, heavy aerial bombardment of Gaza City and the northern Gaza Strip. It feels like the longest night of my life. In my area it started with the bombing of workshops (usually located in the ground floor of private/family residential buildings), garages and warehouses in one of the most highly condensed areas in Gaza City, "Askoola."

About an hour ago they bombed the Islamic University, destroying the laboratory building. As I mentioned in an earlier account, my home is close to the university. We heard the first explosion, the windows shook, the walls shook and my heart felt like it would literally jump out of my mouth. My parents, siblings and cousins, who have been staying with us since their home was damaged the first day of the air raids, had been trying to get some sleep. We all rushed to the side of the house that was farthest from the bombing. Hala, my 11-year-old sister stood motionless and had to be dragged to the other room. I still have marks on my shoulder from when Aya, my 13-year-old cousin held on to me during the next four explosions, each one as violent and heart-stopping as the next. Looking out of the window moments later the night sky had turned to a dirty navy-gray from the smoke.

Israeli warships rocketed Gaza's only sea port only moments ago; 15 missiles exploded, destroying boats and parts of the ports. These are just initial reports over the radio. We don't know what the extent of the damage is. We do know that the fishing industry that thousands of families depend on either directly or indirectly didn't pose a threat on Israeli security. The radio reporter started counting the explosions; I think he lost count after six. At this moment we heard three more blasts. "I'm mostly scared of the whoosh," I told my sister, referring to the sound a missile makes before it hits. Those moments of wondering where it's going to fall are agonizing. Once the whooshes and hits were over the radio reporter announced that the fish market (vacant, of course) had been bombed.

We just heard that four sisters from the Balousha family were killed in an attack that targeted the mosque by their home in the northern Gaza Strip.

You know what bothers me more than the bangs and the blasts, the smoke, the ambulance sirens and the whooshes? The constant, ominous, maddening droning sound of the Apache helicopters overhead that has been buzzing in my head day and night. It's like I'm hearing things, which I'm not, but I am.

Safa Joudeh is an master's candidate in public policy at Stony Brook University in the US. She returned to Gaza in September 2007 where she currently works as a freelance journalist.

Left: A Palestinian family rushes from the scene of an Israeli missile strike on a building in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 28 December 2008. (Hatem Omar/Ma'an Image)

Most Gaza casualties were non-combatants, civilians unattached to Israel's casus belli.

Air strikes have continued through the night, targeting houses and other civilian premises, including water-wells, workshops, mosques and communications facilities. In addition, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), targeted prisons, including Gaza's main prison facility of al-Saraya at noon today. Initial reports indicate that many policemen and prisoners were killed and injured in this attack.

Morevoer, dozens of homes were destroyed, along with tens of UNRWA and government schools including the Islamic University of Gaza and clinics. Local government offices and private vehicles were also destroyed. Al Mezan's initial monitoring indicates that at least 400 people have been killed in the IOF's strikes in the last 48 hours. Of those, the vast majority are non-combatants and civilians.

At least 1,000 people were also injured, including scores of children whose wounds were reportedly critical. Al Mezan believes that the number of casualties is expected to increase as many victims have been buried by their families without being registered at hospitals. Furthermore, a high number of people lie at hospitals between death and life. Moreover, dozens of people who were lightly wounded and therefore not admitted to hospitals were not counted. As the air strikes continue, more people fall victim to them. This makes this operation one of Israel's bloodiest, most criminal military actions in Gaza in the past forty years.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Inside Gaza

Inside Gaza: 'The hospital morgues were already full. The dead were piled on top of each other outside'

By Sami Abdel-Shafi in Gaza city
Sunday, 28 December 2008

I am safe, and yet I feel like a walking dead person. Everything around me shows it. It is hard to write something of any coherence while exposed to cold winter air and to the smell that lingers after the detonation of Israeli bombs. They must have been massive. During the bombing I opened all the windows around my apartment to avoid them imploding as a result of the vacuum shocks sweeping through Gaza City after each enormous bang. While the bombing continued, I jumped down two flights of stairs to my father's house, to make sure he was OK. Should I open up all his windows too? That would expose the old man to the risk of illness. We have no medical care or medication. However, the risk from shattering glass was greater, so I opened them all.

Left: An injured Palestinian is helped from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah

Mobile phones did not work, because of electricity outages and the flood of attempted calls. I flipped the electricity generator on so that we could watch the news. We wanted to understand what was going on in our own neighbourhood. However, this was impossible. Israeli surveillance drones flew overhead, scrambling the reception. All I could do was step outside, where I found crowds of frantic people, lines of rising smoke and the smell of charred buildings and bodies that lay around targeted sites nearby. Somebody said the bombs had been launched in parallel raids over the entire Gaza Strip. What was the target here? Perhaps a police station about 200 metres away. Other bombs annihilated blocks less than a kilometre away, where one of the main police training centres stood. When the strikes began, a graduation ceremony for more than 100 recruits in a civil law enforcement programme was under way. These were the young men trained to organise traffic, instil civil safety and maintain law and order. Many of them were killed, it is said, in addition to the Gaza Strip's police chief.

News came by word of mouth. There had been more than 150 deaths and more than 200 people were injured or missing under rubble after the first two hours of bombing. Israel had said it would continue the offensive and deepen it if necessary. Likewise, it was said that Hamas had launched more rockets at southern Israeli towns, causing one death and four injuries. Gaza had never seen anything like the numbers of dead bodies lying on its streets. Hospital morgues were already full. The dead were piled on top of each other outside.

Bombs targeting a Hamas security force building badly damaged an adjacent school, and several children were injured. We heard of many other targets around the Gaza Strip. It reminds me of the "shock and awe" campaign the Allies launched over Baghdad in 2003. But shock and awe did not bring stability or peace.

These bombs were launched by Israel, as we had known they would be. The world watched the situation simmer then boil over, but did nothing. There are some who believe that hell is divided into different classes. The ordinary people of Gaza have long been caught in the tormenting underworld. Now, if the world does not heed what has happened here, our situation will worsen. We will be trapped in the first class of hell.