hillary’s rules for gaza

Reuters / Suhaib Salem
Reuters / Suhaib Salem

i know i have been complaining about the weather. so i suppose a bit of perspective is in order. yes, it is very cold here (there was even some snow in ramallah yesterday morning). but it is also cold and wet in gaza. and the palestinians in gaza who lost their homes are now living in tents. tents that are in the mud now. and who knows if they have heaters. i should be grateful that i have a little gaz heater sunburn and all.

and what of the palestinian refugees made internally displaced people? how will they rebuild their homes? ilene prusher of the christian science monitor reports on the newly-made homeless in gaza due to israeli-american terrorism:

According to the most recent figures from the International Committee for the Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the conflict destroyed more than 2,800 homes completely, and 1,900 partially, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. In addition to that, many symbols of government were damaged, from the parliament building to ministries to police stations.

None of those figures include losses to private businesses.

Khozendar says that his businesses alone suffered $2 million in direct losses. This includes a petroleum station in northern Gaza that got hit by a missile and a marble factory that was reduced to rubble by bulldozers. He says he doesn’t count the 100 dunams of farm land destroyed in the fighting; bulldozers were used extensively by the Israeli army to “clean out” area where Hamas guerrillas were based.

“In my own home, I have plastic and nylon sheets on the windows, because all the glass broke in the bombing, and from where should I get glass?” asks Khozendar.

He says that what does come in is brought through the tunnels from Egypt, a system that financially benefits Hamas, which collects taxes on the goods.

“We need glass for 5,000 houses,” says Khozendar. Small quantities exist, but because of the extreme shortages, the prices are prohibitive for most. A meter of glass was 45 shekels a few years ago; now it’s 300 to 350 shekels. “The amount needed doesn’t exist here, and this is one of the critical points to address if we are to rebuild and rehabilitate,” he says.

“We’re giving people hammers to break the cement and iron to break up the ruins and reuse it. From the rubbish, we can get maybe 40 percent of our needs. The other 60 percent has to be brought in,” he adds.

it is not just that rebuilding material is expensive, it is that it is unavailable. the zionist blockade on the gaza strip makes it impossible to get concrete, glass, and steel. todd baer shows us what it means to have these raw materials banned for the people of gaza on his report on al jazeera today:

and these are not the only items that israeli terrorists keep palestinians in gaza from obtaining as anne penketh in the independent reports:

Members of the highest-ranking American delegation to tour Gaza were shocked to discover that the Israeli blockade against the Hamas-ruled territory included such food staples as lentils, macaroni and tomato paste.

“When have lentil bombs been going off lately? Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?” asked Congressman Brian Laird. It was only after Senator John Kerry, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised the issue with Defence Minister Ehud Barak after their trip last month that Israel allowed the pasta in. Macaroni was considered a luxury item, not a humanitarian necessity, they were told. The total number of products blacklisted by Israel remains a mystery for UN officials and the relief agencies which face long delays in bringing in supplies. For security reasons such items as cement and steel rods are banned as they could be used by Hamas to build bunkers or the rockets used to target Israeli civilians. Hearing aids have been banned in case the mercury in their batteries could be used to produce chemical weapons.

Yet since the end of the war in January, according to non-government organisations, five truckloads of school notebooks were turned back at the crossing at Kerem Shalom where goods are subject to a $1,000 (£700) per truck “handling fee”.

Paper to print new textbooks for Palestinian schools was stopped, as were freezer appliances, generators and water pumps, cooking gas and chickpeas. And the French government was incensed when an entire water purification system was denied entry. Christopher Gunness, the spokesman for the UN agency UNRWA responsible for Palestinian refugees, said: “One of the big problems is that the ‘banned list’ is a moving target so we discover things are banned on a ‘case by case’, ‘day by day’ basis.”

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said: “Israel’s blockade policy can be summed up in one word and it is punishment, not security.”

of course at the big donor conference in sharm al shaykh today hillary clinton proved that she and the obama administration will continue the policies of george bush by refusing to even speak about or acknowledge that all the money being pledged for gaza will do nothing if palestinians have no control over their borders as human rights watch’s latest statement argues:

“All the pledges of aid this conference is expected to produce will be worth next to nothing if the donors do not demand that Israel open the borders to commercial goods as well as humanitarian essentials,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “This unlawful blockade is the primary impediment to reconstruction and to the economic activity that is essential to any society.”

Israel effectively controls Gaza’s borders and airspace. Human Rights Watch said that the blockade, which has been in place since June 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza, amounts to collective punishment of the civilian population, a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Israeli restrictions on the entry of goods should be strictly limited to weapons and items whose direct military potential clearly outweigh their civilian usage.

According to the United Nations, Gaza needs a minimum of 500 truckloads of humanitarian aid and commercial goods every day. Israeli authorities have told humanitarian agencies that they would allow up to 150 truckloads a day. However, the actual number has not exceeded 120, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The average in February has only been between 88 and 104, including grain shipped by conveyor belt at the Karni crossing.

hillary proved further that she is going to help maintain the siege with a bizarre comment at the press conference today about hamas. what is especially fascinating here (as dave reminded me of on twitter just now–thank you!) is that the u.s. is recognizing likud as the legitimate government of the israeli terrorist state even though they lost the election and yet hamas, which won in a democratic election in 2006, continues to be shunned by the u.s. here is what she said on al jazeera:

But speaking at the donor conference, Clinton called on Hamas to abide by a series of rules.

Hamas is a not a country; it is an entity that has to understand what the principles for any engagement are – not just with the United States,” she said.

“The Quartet – the United Nations, Russia the European Union and the United States – as well as the Arab League – are in agreement that there are certain principles that Hamas would have to adopt in order for any of us to engage with Hamas: recognise Israel, renounce violence and agree to abide by prior agreements.”

of course, clinton did not state what those “rules” are. clearly there are rules for hamas and not for israeli terrorists who terrorize palestinians every day. i suspect that one of them is to get on board with the bogus two-state solution. thankfully hamas still has enough resolve to reject such ideas that necessarily negate palestinian refugees’ right of return:

The Hamas Movement on Sunday strongly criticized ex-PA chief Mahmoud Abbas for demanding any future Palestinian government to recognize the two-state solution, considering it a dictate imposed by one party on other Palestinian parties.

in any case, the u.s. with its pledge of $900 million to rebuild gaza is going to do anything but rebuild gaza. apparently, it is all going to the collaborator regime in ramallah instead. where is the logic? paul richter in the los angeles times today reveals where this money is actually going:

The Obama administration intends to spend most of a $900-million Palestinian aid package on support for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, rather than in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip communities that were badly damaged in the recent weeks-long Israeli offensive, a State Department official said Sunday.

Robert A. Wood, the department’s chief spokesman, said that about $300 million of the money would be spent on humanitarian relief for Gaza, and the remainder would help offset the Palestinian Authority’s budget shortfall and fund its economic development, security and other projects in the West Bank. The authority is run by the more moderate Palestinian faction Fatah.

None of the money will go to rebuilding Gaza, even though the aid is to be announced today at an international donors conference convened by Egypt for reconstruction in the war-scarred seaside enclave.

U.S. officials who declined to be identified disclosed last week, with some fanfare, that a full $900 million would be earmarked for Gaza. But the State Department’s decision reflects the political complexities of rebuilding an area controlled by a militant group that the United States, Israel and the European Union consider a terrorist organization. Hamas took control of Gaza after the collapse of a unity government with rival Fatah in June 2007. Israel said it launched its assault after years of rocket fire from Gaza.

U.S. officials are opposed to spending any money on reconstruction aid to Gaza that might fall into the hands of Hamas and help strengthen the group’s standing among the enclave’s 1.5 million residents. Though the Palestinian Authority has declared its intention to help rebuild, Hamas is barring authority personnel from entering to help.

“We cannot funnel money through Hamas,” Wood said.

in any case, i continue to be horrified by the fact that every year the u.s. sends billions of dollars to the zionist entity to enable them to terrorize palestinians and lebanese. the u.s. campaign to end the occupation’s campaign to make sure that the new budget proposal does not include the almost $3 billion in military aid to an israeli terrorist regime (click on the link below to send a letter to obama to make sure he does not!) :

Last Tuesday, President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to explain his budget outline. His only reference to Israel was a reiteration of his Administration’s priority “To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors”…. Does this mean that President Obama will not include $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel when he delivers his actual detailed budget request to Congress in April as expected? That’s highly doubtful.

but am i the only one who finds it deeply disturbing that the u.s. taxpayers spend almost $3 billion a year on military aid to israeli terorrists who use it to destroy lebanon and palestine, most recently gaza of course, and then the u.s. pledges $900 million to rebuild it? is this not psychotic? of course, the money is not even going to gaza, but that is beside the point. the money will go to the palestinian authority in the west bank to enable them to further repress palestinians here who object to their normalization with israel, to their willingness to sell refugee rights down the river.

and will hillary, when she comes here tomorrow, do anything about palestinian political prisoners? about the nightly invasions in which they kidnap palestinians? here are the figures for february alone:

The Palestinian Political Detainees Society issued a report on Monday stating that the Israeli military have kidnapped 292 Palestinians during the month of February.

Of those 292 kidnapped, 35 were sick and 59 were children, in addition to four women, the report said.

According to the Society report, the number kidnapped from different cities were:

Bethlehem: 24;

Hebron: 90;

Ramallah: 68;

Nablus: 35;

Qalqilia: 22;

Jenin: 25;

Tulkarem: 13;

Jericho: 8;

Tubas: 6; and

Salfet: 1.

and there were a few more kidnapped last night in nablus as well as some attacks by israeli colonists near nablus:

On Monday morning, Israeli troops kidnapped three Palestinian civilians during a pre-dawn invasion, targeting the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Local Palestinian sources reported that Israeli Army forces invaded Nablus city, searched a number of homes and took three men to unknown detention camps.

Also on Monday near Nablus, a local doctor, Amer Mansour, received treatment after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops in the village of Kafer Qaliel. Witnesses said that Israeli soldiers stormed the village in the morning, and fired tear gas at homes.

In related news, Palestinian farmers from the Jordan Valley reported on Monday that a Palestinian farmer was attacked by wild pigs. The farmers said that Ayman Ibraheem was attacked while working on his land, and was taken to a hospital in Nablus for treatment.

The farmers blame settlers for such attacks, saying that the Israeli settlers release wild pigs in an attempt to drive Palestinian farmers away from their lands so that the settlers can take them over.

will she say anything about the brazen act of destroying more palestinian homes in al quds as they did today?:

Israeli forces stormed the house of Mahmoud Al-Abbasi in the Ein Al-Loza area of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Monday morning.

Al-Abbasi told Ma’an that a large Israeli police force surrounded the area where the house is located and stormed inside, forcing the family to leave and throwing furniture out.

But no clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police were immediately reported.

Al-Abbasi added that bulldozers demolished his house, in which 11 people lived, including nine children, and claiming that he had received no prior notice of the demolition beforehand.

The house was located in a neighborhood 500 meters from the Al-Bustan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, where Israeli officials say 88 homes of 1,500 Palestinians are slated for demolition.

will she say anything about the numerous war crimes committed by israeli terrorists? war crimes detailed in an important interview that the ever fabulous nora barrows-friedman did with norweigan doctor mads gilbert on flashpoints last week. it is a very important interview that i encourage people to listen to by clicking the above link. will she say anything about the court cases gaining steam as the spanish judge agreeing to hear this case?:

A Spanish judge has decided to go ahead with a probe into alleged crimes against humanity by top Israeli military figures after studying documents received from Israel, judicial sources said Friday.

The documents, received by Judge Fernando Abreu after translation by the Israeli embassy, show the Jewish state has not launched any legal procedure concerning a 2002 bombing of Gaza, the sources said.

Andreu agreed last month to pursue a complaint of crimes against humanity against seven senior Israeli military figures over the bombing.

the international criminal court has received numerous complaints, most recently from the international committee for the red cross, which i’m sure hillary will ignore too. here is peter beaumont’s report on this for the guardian:

The latest moves in The Hague come amid mounting international pressure on Israel and a growing recognition in Israeli government circles that it may eventually have to defend itself against war crimes allegations. The Guardian has also learned that a confidential inquiry by the International Committee of the Red Cross into the actions of Israel and Hamas during the recent conflict in Gaza is expected to accuse Israel of using “excessive force” – prohibited under the fourth Geneva convention.

The Red Cross has been collecting information for two parallel inquiries, one into the conduct of Israel and a second into Hamas, both of which will be presented in private to the parties involved.

In the case of Israel, the Red Cross is expected to highlight three areas of concern: the Israeli Defence Forces’ “use and choice of weapons in a complex and densely populated environment”; the issue of “proportionality”; and concerns over the IDF’s lack of distinction between combatants and non-combatants during Operation Cast Lead. Hamas is likely to be challenged over its use of civilian facilities as cover for its fighters; its summary executions and kneecappings of Palestinians during the campaign; and its indiscriminate firing of rockets into civilian areas.

Meanwhile, sources at the ICC say it is considering two potential tracks that would permit it to investigate what happened in Gaza. As well as determining whether the PA is recognised internationally as a sufficiently state-like entity, the head of jurisdictions in the office of the international criminal court’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is looking at whether the court can consider war crimes allegations on the basis of the dual nationality of either victims or alleged perpetrators whose second passport is with a country party to the court.

The court’s deliberations follow more than 220 complaints about Israel’s actions in Gaza. “It does not matter necessarily whether the Palestinian National Authority is in charge of its own borders,” said a source at the court. “Right now the court is looking at everything from agreements it has signed on education to the constitution of its legal system.”

what concerns me the most about what hillary will or won’t do (because she will be like all the other american leaders who come here and lend all her support to israeli terrorists in their ongoing ethnic cleansing project). what concerns me is what the fallout of gaza will be with respect to hamas resistance (yet another reason why i loathe resistance movements that join governments). ramzy baroud’s article in the palestine chronicle today about the lessons of what happened with the palestine liberation organization are instructive here:

The more the PLO of the 1970’s met conditions, the more Yasser Arafat rose to prominence. In June 1974, Fatah-led PLO revised and approved a political program that adopted a ‘phased’ political strategy which agreed to establishing a Palestinian state “over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated,” as opposed to Fatah’s own previous commitment to a “democratic state on all (of) Palestine.” The phased strategy split the somewhat unified PLO between ‘moderate’ and ‘rejectionist’ fronts, but allowed for political gains, such as the Arab designation of the PLO, in Rabat as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”. More, Arafat was invited to speak at the UN General Assembly, where the PLO received the status of an “observer”. In his speech on November 13, 1974, Arafat uttered his most famous statement: “Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter’s gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”

Let historians contend on whether Arafat was tricked by a peace ploy, which saw the softening of the PLO’s position, while the Israeli position continued to harden unchecked. The fact is, however, the seeds of Palestinian division were planted during these years and Palestinians were compartmentalized – between moderates, extremists, maximalists, minimalists, pragmatists, rejectionists and so on. However, the political gains of the PLO of those years were made irrelevant, and were later used exclusively for personal gains, starting in 1974, passing through Oslo, the subsequent ‘peace process’, and finally reaching today’s dead-end.

World Media are now reporting that European countries are in direct contact with Hamas leaders, although officials are insisting that this contact is independent and not linked to larger government initiatives. More, several US congressmen visited Gaza, again with similar disclaimers. US Senator John Kerry, who led the US delegation, claimed that the US position regarding Hamas has not changed, and repeated the conditions that Hamas must meet before any engagement is possible.

One has to be wary of the history that rendered the once influential PLO, the trivial organization that it is today. History often repeats itself, true, but it doesn’t have to if one remembers such historical lessons. Peace is not a ‘process’ – at least not in the Kissinger sense – and true dialogue and positive engagement require no stipulations and conditions. Hamas is now in the same precarious position that the PLO was in earlier years. Its future decisions shall influence the coming stage of this conflict, thus the fate of the Palestinian people in inconceivable ways.

one final note: if you are american and you like the al jazeera news items i post here regularly, i encourage you to go to the i want al jazeera english website. click that link in the last sentence and sign up to put pressure on u.s. cable providers to make it available to americans.

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