on not forgetting gaza

sara roy has a really important article this week aptly entitled “the peril of forgetting gaza”:

The recent meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu generated speculation over the future relationship between America and Israel, and a potentially changed U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Analysts on the right and left are commenting on a new, tougher American policy characterized by strengthened U.S. demands on Israel. However, beneath the diplomatic choreography lies an agonizing reality that received only brief comment from Obama and silence from Netanyahu: The ongoing devastation of the people of Gaza.

Gaza is an example of a society that has been deliberately reduced to a state of abject destitution, its once productive population transformed into one of aid-dependent paupers. This context is undeniably one of mass suffering, created largely by Israel but with the active complicity of the international community, especially the U.S. and European Union, and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Gaza’s subjection began long before Israel’s recent war against it.. The Israeli occupation—now largely forgotten or denied by the international community—has devastated Gaza’s economy and people, especially since 2006. Although economic restrictions actually increased before Hamas’ electoral victory in January 2006, the deepened sanction regime and siege subsequently imposed by Israel and the international community, and later intensified in June 2007 when Hamas seized control of Gaza, has all but destroyed the local economy. If there has been a pronounced theme among the many Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals who I have interviewed in the last three years, it was the fear of damage to Gaza’s society and economy so profound that billions of dollars and generations of people would be required to address it—a fear that has now been realized.

After Israel’s December assault, Gaza’s already compromised conditions have become virtually unlivable. Livelihoods, homes, and public infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed on a scale that even the Israel Defense Forces admitted was indefensible. In Gaza today, there is no private sector to speak of and no industry. 80 percent of Gaza’s agricultural crops were destroyed and Israel continues to snipe at farmers attempting to plant and tend fields near the well-fenced and patrolled border. Most productive activity has been extinguished.

One powerful expression of Gaza’s economic demise—and the Gazans’ indomitable will to provide for themselves and their families—is its burgeoning tunnel economy that emerged long ago in response to the siege. Thousands of Palestinians are now employed digging tunnels into Egypt—around 1,000 tunnels are reported to exist although not all are operational. According to local economists, 90 percent of economic activity in Gaza—once considered a lower middle-income economy (along with the West Bank)—is presently devoted to smuggling.

Today, 96 percent of Gaza’s population of 1.4 million is dependent on humanitarian aid for basic needs. According to the World Food Programme, the Gaza Strip requires a minimum of 400 trucks of food every day just to meet the basic nutritional needs of the population. Yet, despite a 22 March decision by the Israeli cabinet to lift all restrictions on foodstuffs entering Gaza, only 653 trucks of food and other supplies were allowed entry during the week of May 10, at best meeting 23 percent of required need.

Israel now allows only 30 to 40 commercial items to enter Gaza compared to 4,000 approved products prior to June 2006. According to the Israeli journalist, Amira Hass, Gazans still are denied many commodities (a policy in effect long before the December assault): Building materials (including wood for windows and doors), electrical appliances (such as refrigerators and washing machines), spare parts for cars and machines, fabrics, threads, needles, candles, matches, mattresses, sheets, blankets, cutlery, crockery, cups, glasses, musical instruments, books, tea, coffee, sausages, semolina, chocolate, sesame seeds, nuts, milk products in large packages, most baking products, light bulbs, crayons, clothing, and shoes.

Given these constraints, among many others—including the internal disarray of the Palestinian leadership—one wonders how the reconstruction to which Obama referred will be possible. There is no question that people must be helped immediately. Programs aimed at alleviating suffering and reinstating some semblance of normalcy are ongoing, but at a scale shaped entirely by the extreme limitations on the availability of goods. In this context of repressive occupation and heightened restriction, what does it mean to reconstruct Gaza? How is it possible under such conditions to empower people and build sustainable and resilient institutions able to withstand expected external shocks? Without an immediate end to Israel’s blockade and the resumption of trade and the movement of people outside the prison that Gaza has long been, the current crisis will grow massively more acute. Unless the U.S. administration is willing to exert real pressure on Israel for implementation—and the indications thus far suggest they are not—little will change. Not surprisingly, despite international pledges of $5.2 billion for Gaza’s reconstruction, Palestinians there are now rebuilding their homes using mud.

Recently, I spoke with some friends in Gaza and the conversations were profoundly disturbing. My friends spoke of the deeply felt absence of any source of protection—personal, communal or institutional. There is little in society that possesses legitimacy and there is a fading consensus on rules and an eroding understanding of what they are for. Trauma and grief overwhelm the landscape despite expressions of resilience. The feeling of abandonment among people appears complete, understood perhaps in their growing inability to identify with any sense of possibility. The most striking was this comment: “It is no longer the occupation or even the war that consumes us but the realization of our own irrelevance.”

What possible benefit can be derived from an increasingly impoverished, unhealthy, densely crowded, and furious Gaza alongside Israel? Gaza’s terrible injustice not only threatens Israeli and regional security, but it undermines America’s credibility, alienating our claim to democratic practice and the rule of law.

If Palestinians are continually denied what we want and demand for ourselves—an ordinary life, dignity, livelihood, safety, and a place where they can raise their children—and are forced, yet again, to face the destruction of their families, then the inevitable outcome will be greater and more extreme violence across all factions, both old and increasingly new. What looms is no less than the loss of entire generation of Palestinians. And if this happens—perhaps it already has—we shall all bear the cost.

for an innovative and brilliant visual representation of what roy is talking about check out this new video on the topography and architecture of the savaging of gaza with music by checkpoint 303 called “cartografiando gaza”:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2048045&dest=-1]

of course palestinians are not forgetting gaza. palestinians are actively working to file lawsuits in various contexts for the most recent onslaught of savagery against gaza:

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), based in Gaza, stated that Palestinian lawyers have prepared 936 lawsuits against the Israeli army for committing war crimes against the Palestinians during the Israeli war on Gaza.

The German weekly, Der Spiegel, published a report on Saturday stating that the PCHR collected testimonies and conducted filed investigations to document the Israeli violations.

Some of the documented incidents are about children who were shot by the army at close range, entire families killed after being buried under the ruble of their homes, incidents regarding women burnt by Israel’s white phosphorus shells, and several other violations.

The Der Spiegel stated that the PCHR is trying to have the cases submitted to the National Court in Madrid.

The Israeli army and Israel’s leadership claim that the so-called internal investigation Israel carried out revealed that the army did not intentionally harm Palestinian civilians during the war which began on December 27, 2008, and ended in January 18, 2009.

and there are others who care enough to pursue leagal proceedings outside the zionist entity where such a trial will get a fair hearing, although the zionist entity is doing its best to obstruct such a process as sharon weill and valentina azarov reported in electronic intifada:

Currently, the fate of one of the only remaining venues that offers a redress mechanism for Palestinians is at stake. It is one that can bring accountability of Israeli officials and decision-makers who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The amendment of universal jurisdiction laws, often incommensurably restricting access to these mechanisms, is at variance with the effect of certain crimes on humanity as a whole, on which the notion of universal jurisdiction is premised. The pressure exerted on the Spanish government to amend its law is an example of the regrettable phenomenon of the weakening of international law at the price of the individual.

On 22 July 2002, around midnight, an Israeli Air Force plane dropped a one-ton bomb on Gaza City’s al-Daraj neighborhood, one of the most densely-populated residential areas in the world. The military objective of this operation was to target and kill Hamas’ former military leader in the Gaza Strip, Salah Shehadeh, who at that time was in his house with his family. As a result of the operation, Shehadeh and 14 civilians were killed, most of them children and infants, and 150 persons were injured, about half of them severely. Houses in the vicinity were either destroyed or damaged. Seven members of the Matar family, whose neighboring house was totally destroyed, were among the casualties.

More than six years later, in Madrid, just a few days after Israel’s most recent invasion of Gaza ended, Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles decided to open a criminal investigation on the basis of universal jurisdiction against seven Israeli political and military officials who were alleged to have committed a war crime — and possibly a crime against humanity — in the course of that operation. The officials included Dan Halutz, then Commander of the Israeli Air Forces; Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, then Israeli Defense Minister; Moshe Yaalon, then Israeli army Chief of Staff; Doron Almog, then Southern Commander of the Israeli army; Giora Eiland, then Head of the Israeli National Security Council; Michael Herzog, then Military Secretary to the Israeli Defense Ministry; and Abraham Dichter, then Director of the General Security Services.

Although the allegations in the action referred only to war crimes, the court stated that the facts could amount to more serious crimes than what was initially claimed — namely, crimes against humanity. This preliminary legal assessment motivated the legal team to work toward basing a new charge. The lawyers announced that they would redouble their efforts to demonstrate that the al-Daraj bombing was part of a policy of “widespread and systematic” attacks directed against a civilian population, fitting the definition of a crime against humanity.

As the request for Israel to provide information on the existence of any judicial proceedings concerning the military operation was not answered and the state expressed its unwillingness to cooperate with the legal team, the Spanish court thereby ruled that the investigation be conducted by the Spanish jurisdiction. On the same day the decision concerning the commencement of the investigation was rendered, Israeli officials sent a 400-page document to the Spanish legal team, stating that the facts of the complaint regarding the operation were subject to proceedings in Israel, and therefore the Spanish court should have declined to exercise jurisdiction.

but the savaging of gaza has never ended, not only because of the closure and the siege, but also because the israeli terrorist forces continue to attack gaza as they did this week from the sea:

Palestinian sources in Gaza reported on Tuesday morning that Israeli Navy ships and infantry brigades conducted a limited offensive in the Gaza Strip. During the attack several armored vehicles and military bulldozers uprooted farmland and destroyed hothouses.

An area of about 400m surrounding the military base at the Kerem Shalom Crossing was flattened, transformed into free fire zone.

Israeli navy gunships shelled Palestinian fishing boats in the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip; fishing boats were damaged , but there were no reported injuries. Dozens of fishermen were turned back due to the navy’s threats.

and the israeli terrorist forces also attacked gaza by land this week:

Israeli soldiers fired on Thursday night several shells at a number of Palestinian homes, east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Local sources reported that soldiers stationed at the northeastern border fired rounds of live ammunition and a number of shells at an open area east of Beit Hanoun. No damage or injuries were reported.

On Thursday evening, Israeli soldiers shelled several homes in Al Fahareen Area, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Several residents were treated for shock.

meanwhile the zionist terrorist colonist regime this week made it easier for them to continue its savage attacks on palestinians in gaza:

The Israeli ministerial council decided to give the army “a free hand” to retaliate to any cease fired violation carried out by Palestinians armed groups in the Gaza Strip.

The cabinet decided to hold Hamas responsible for any deterioration in the security situation, and decided to give the Israeli army a free hand to retaliate and to carry out limited offensives.

Israeli sources that Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, adopted this position.

He also held talks on the possibility of opening the crossing terminals in Gaza especially amidst the American and International pressure.

Netanyahu’s office said that the Israeli cabinet discussed the methods that would ease the suffering of the Palestinian in Gaza without harming Israel’s security interests.

the notion that the zionist entity is trying to ease the suffering of palestinians in gaza is laughable, especially when you look at reports that calculate its policies about food it will and will not allow into gaza–and especially the way they calculate it to make sure palestinians are always already on the brink of starvation as reported in ha’aretz:

The policy is not fixed, but continually subject to change, explains a COGAT official. Thus, about two months ago, the COGAT officials allowed pumpkins and carrots into Gaza, reversing a ban that had been in place for many months. The entry of “delicacies” such as cherries, kiwi, green almonds, pomegranates and chocolate is expressly prohibited. As is halvah, too, most of the time. Sources involved in COGAT’s work say that those at the highest levels, including acting coordinator Amos Gilad, monitor the food brought into Gaza on a daily basis and personally approve the entry of any kind of fruit, vegetable or processed food product requested by the Palestinians. At one of the unit’s meetings, Colonel Oded Iterman, a COGAT officer, explained the policy as follows: “We don’t want Gilad Shalit’s captors to be munching Bamba [a popular Israeli snack food] right over his head.”

The “Red Lines” document explains: “In order to make basic living in Gaza possible, the deputy defense minister approved the entry into the Gaza Strip of 106 trucks with humanitarian products, 77 of which are basic food products. The entry of wheat and animal feed was also permitted via the aggregates conveyor belt outside the Karni terminal.”

After four pages filled with detailed charts of the number of grams and calories of every type of food to be permitted for consumption by Gaza residents (broken down by gender and age), comes this recommendation: “It is necessary to deal with the international community and the Palestinian Health Ministry to provide nutritional supplements (only some of the flour in Gaza is enriched) and to provide education about proper nutrition.” Printed in large letters at the end of the document is this admonition: “The stability of the humanitarian effort is critical for the prevention of the development of malnutrition.”

but there are those who are resisting this siege and savagery. the free gaza movement is preparing for another action called “right to read” which they describe as follows:

In partnership with Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, the Free Gaza Movement (FG) is launching its “Right to Read” campaign which will use the FG boats to deliver textbooks and other educational supplies to universities throughout the occupied Gaza Strip.

This is not a charitable endeavor. Rather it is an act of solidarity and resistance to Israel’s choke-hold on Gaza and attempt to deny Palestinians education. According to UNWRA, Israel’s blockade restricts ink, paper, and other learning materials from entering into Gaza.

Our campaign invites individuals to join us at a person-to-person level by contributing one or more books to our shipment as an expression of resistance to the blockade. This effort also allows institutions around the world to support Palestinians’ right to education by donating new and used copies of textbooks to be delivered by the Free Gaza Movement to universities in the Gaza Strip.

We invite you to participate in this expression of resistance to the blockade. Specifically, you can donate funds to purchase books (and/or help offset shipping costs to Cyprus) or you can send new and used books directly for inclusion on an upcoming voyage. While all books are welcomed, we have already received a wish list from the universities in Gaza of books that are most in need.

To review the wish list and get more details on how to contribute to the “Right to Read” campaign, please visit <freegaza.org/right-to-read?lang=en>. Our first shipment will be sent on FG’s Summer of Hope July voyage to Gaza.

Education is a right — a right that has been denied to Gaza’s most precious resource, its young people. Free Gaza is committed to breaking this siege. We welcome people of goodwill, such as yourself, to join us in this campaign.

For more information:

Dina Kennedy: dkennedy [at] freegaza.org
Darlene Wallach: darlene [at] freegaza.org

and of course there is good old fashioned palestinian hip hop resistance as jordan flaherty discovered on his recent trip to gaza:

For Ayman, making music is a form of resistance to war and occupation and also a tool to communicate the reality of life in Palestine. “Most of our lyrics are about the occupation,” he tells me. “Lately we’ve also started singing about the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. Any problem, it needs to be written about.” Rapper Chuck D, from the group Public Enemy, once called rap music the CNN for Black America. For Ayman and his friends, music is their weapon to break media silence. “Most of the world believes we are the terrorists,” he says. “And the media is closed to us, so we get our message out through Hip-Hop.”

One of the first acts to take the stage was a duo called Black Unit Band. Mohammed Wafy, one of the two singers, displays the innocent charm of a teen pop star as he jumps from the stage and into the audience. Tall and skinny with a shock of black hair, Mohammed is 18 and looks younger. Khaled Harara, the other singer (and Mohammed’s next door neighbor) is a few years older and several pounds heavier, but no less energetic on stage.

As the evening progressed, the energy in the room continued to rise. The next act featured six members from two combined groups (DA MCs, and RG, for Revolutionary Guys) now collectively called DARG Team. The crowd was up on their feet, many of them singing along as the performers displayed a range of lyrical stylings.

In Mohammed Wafy’s apartment, the performers waited anxiously for the results of the contest. The call came in on Ayman’s cell phone. Putting it on speaker, everyone listened as the results were announced: DARG team had come in first place, and Black Unit had placed third. There were no hurt feelings apparent for those that didn’t win — for these young performers, every victory is a shared victory. DARG members will now go on to Denmark to produce an album (if they can get out of Gaza).

Fadi Bakhet, a studious and slightly preppy looking Afro-Palestinian in wire-rimmed glasses, is DARG’s manager, and also the brother of one of the members. As the night continued, the gathering moved to his apartment. They celebrated the successful show, which also fell on the last day of exams for many students, and the laughing and conversation continued late into the night. The next day was hot and sunny, and thousands of Gazans gathered on the beach to swim and relax by the Mediterranean.

if you click on the link above to flaherty’s story, you can find links to the various bands as well as videos of a few of the groups he mentioned on youtube. here is one of those video clips from one of my favorite palestinian rap groups p.r. or palestinian rapperz:


on the cypriot model

israeli terrorist avigdor lieberman is in rome meeting with franco frattini where he talked about the joys of being an illegal colonist in the west bank (let’s be clear whatever collaborator who actually speaks with him definitely does not speak for all palestinians!) as well as what a colossal waste of money the “peace process” (read: war process) has been (imagine something i actually agree with lieberman on!). but he also suggested his plan for ethnic cleansing (or “transfer” in his terms) in his meeting:

Lieberman told Frattini that between five and seven years are needed to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli foreign minister was pessimistic about the prospects of establishing a Palestinian state. He repeated his assertion that “two states for two peoples” had become a clichéd slogan that was tailored for newspaper headlines.

During his talks with Frattini, Lieberman also recalled his experiences living in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim.

“I’m a settler and I live in the Judean desert,” Lieberman told Frattini. “I speak with Palestinians who work near us and I hear that what they want is to earn a living and lead a decent life.”

Lieberman added that the Palestinians are dismissive of their leaders’ efforts to reach a political solution. It was at this point that the foreign minister delved into what he called “the peace industry.”

“This is a process with no results,” Lieberman said. “Everyone is earning a living off of it. There are conferences and there are meetings in five-star hotels. Do you know how much money has been spent on this? And what has come of it?”

Lieberman spoke glowingly of the “Cypriot model” which includes an exchange of populations – as a possible template for a solution to the Middle East impasse. In the 1970s, the Mediterranean island was partitioned in two, with Turks in the north and Greeks in the south. “Since then, there has been security, economic prosperity, and stability,” Lieberman said of Cyprus. “When we have [such a solution] in our region then we can talk about a political solution. Everything before this will simply fail.”

clearly lieberman is smoking some serious crack cocaine if he thinks this is how cypriots feel. they feel a lot more like palestinians as you will see below. check out this recent article in the guardian by helena smith and consider its implications for palestinian refugees who continue to fight for their right of return to their homes in palestine:

Like so many Cypriots, Meletis Apostolides has long been haunted by memories of a lost past.

All his adult life he has yearned to return to his boyhood home – and this week, nearly 35 years after war left what should be an idlyllic corner of the Levant brutally divided, the European court of justice brought him one step closer to fulfilling that dream.

Even now, in late middle age, the architect can still recall the scent of the lemon trees, the smell of the sea, the dappled light that filtered through the citrus orchards of Lapithos, the village in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus where he and his ancestors were born.

“It’s never gone,” he says, homing in, with Google Earth, on the property his family was forced to flee when Turkey, in the name of protecting its minority on the island, invaded in 1974.

The Apostolides family – like 170,000 other Greek Cypriots forcibly displaced at the time – always thought they’d be back. Instead, with only minutes to gather their possessions, and with the Turkish military entrenching its positions in response to a coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece, they found themselves turned into refugees, and robbed of their past overnight.

“The only thing my mother, Andriani, managed to take were her threads and embroideries,” says Apostolides, 24 at the time. “We left photo albums, everything. People think that [my legal battle] has been all about money, when actually it is about roots, memory and culture. My family had lived in that part of the island since 1860.”

In Cyprus’ supercharged politics few issues excite more passion than that of properties lost during the conflict. In the war’s wake peace talks aimed at resolving the west’s longest-running diplomatic dispute have repeatedly collapsed on the matter of refugees’ rights and land exchange. Enraged by the European court’s decision to back Apostolides’s claim to property – since bought by a retired British couple – Turkish Cypriot politicians have threatened to walk out of reunification talks.

“Cypriots are very attached to their land. In England you had an industrial revolution, here we did not,” said Cyprus’s former president George Vasiliou. “Until fairly recently people lived from their land so it meant a lot to them, and before the invasion northern Cyprus was almost exclusively Greek. Then there is memory. That plays a role too.”

Like many on either side of the ethnic divide, Apostolides returned with his mother – and their title deeds – to see his home in 2003, the year that Turkish Cypriot authorities lifted restrictions on intercommunal travel. “It was the first, and only time, that my mother would see it after the war,” he recalls.

But it was a previous visit – one by a Turkish Cypriot colleague who had once lived in the island’s Greek-run south – that spurred the silver-haired architect into action. As an early proponent of interethnic contact in the 90s, Apostolides participated in an organised tour by Turkish Cypriot architects around the south. “One of them, who would go on to become a great friend, was desperate to revisit his family home in Limassol,” he said. “When the Greek Cypriots living in the house opened the door, he produced a framed picture from his rucksack and said ‘finally I have fulfilled my parents’ wish to return home’. The Greek Cypriots immediately put it on the mantelpiece. At that moment I identified with him so much. It was such a powerful thing.”

When Apostolides pressed charges against Linda and David Orams, the East Sussex couple who built their dream home on his land in 2002, he never envisaged the case would cause such a furore. “I decided to take legal action after a chance meeting with Mrs Orams on the plot in 2003,” he says. “She was out watering the plants and when I asked her who she was, she said ‘I am the owner of this villa’. I said ‘I am the owner of the land’ and she responded by saying ‘well that was a long time ago’.”

Five days after the European court pronounced that the UK judiciary should enforce the decision of a Nicosia court to return the property to its original owner, and demolish the villa to boot, the affair looks set to run and run – not least among the estimated 6,000 Britons who have also picked up properties at bargain prices in the territory that is only recognised by Ankara.

Yesterday despondent rosy-cheeked expats, living in the scenic villages above the picturesque port of Kyrenia, refused to comment, with one denouncing the case “as Greek Cypriot lies and bulls*&^”.

But, says Vasiliou: “Greek Cypriots may feel justice has been rendered, that property is sacrosanct. However, serious people on this island also know that the best way to solve this issue is through speeding up negotiations and reaching a settlement, not taking individual cases to court.”

Apostolides, the man of the moment, would agree. While his is a victory, he says, it springs from a lost past.

i just hope this bodes well for more cypriots and for palestinians in the near future.

the congo, palestine, and colonialisms

about a month ago i learned about a new blog called stealth conflicts. on it a blogger named virgil hawkins covers the uncoverable–the news stories about conflicts that the media only rarely produce stories about. what first caught my eye was a note someone posted in facebook with the following entry from this blog:

Forget the series of Christmas massacres by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in eastern DRC that left more than 400 dead (including more than 45 killed in a church) and the coalition of countries in the region trying to hunt them down. Forget the deadly clashes with Congolese rebels poised to take over the city of Goma. Forget Somalia, where the Ethiopian forces that invaded (with US assistance) two years ago are being forced by local resistance forces to pack and leave. Forget all of these conflicts, because violence has broken out again in Israel-Palestine.

The latest conflagration of violence in Israel-Palestine continues to dominate international news around the world. The details of who is attacking who with what, how many people have died (down to single digit figures), and how many of them were women and children, together with in-depth political analysis and a touch of humanitarian concern are all fed through the newspapers, television, radio and internet news outlets on a daily basis. And all with the utmost care to avoid displeasing lobby groups that will rain down thousands of e-mails, telephone calls and letters (flak) upon the unfortunate media corporation suspected of even the slightest bias (and possibly revoke their advertising contracts).

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a ‘chosen’ conflict. It always is. It has the rare privilege of being the focus of saturated attention every time there is a conflagration (despite the fact that the conflict is not occurring in a ‘white’ Western country, and despite the fact that the USA is not a direct belligerent in the conflict – always sure factors for a conflict to attract soaring levels of attention). Explaining why this is so would take a book or two, but let’s just scratch the surface here. Politicians in much of the Western world obsess about the issue, largely because a significant amount of their election campaign contributions seem to depend on their favourable attention in many cases. Politicians in much of the Muslim world do likewise, because standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of Israel is much more popular than standing up against the oppression of Muslims at the hands of anyone else. The fact that the conflict region is considered the ‘Holy Land’ by Muslims, Jews and Christians helps cement this process.

For media corporations, providing saturation coverage of the conflict is nothing short of automatic. What is considered important by media corporations is based largely on what the policymakers at home consider to be important, almost by default. Keeping reporters close to those making foreign policy at home is much cheaper than sending them all over the world to independently gather news. In the competitive media business, budgets are better spent on packaging and presenting news than actually gathering it. Furthermore, for media corporations that have little newsgathering capacity (and oddly, even for those that do), the news value of a story is often determined by what leading media corporations (like the New York Times) think it should be. In this environment of follow-the-leader (policymakers and leading media corporations) and pack journalism, having a reporter in Africa is optional, having one in Israel-Palestine is not. Once the reporter is stationed there, ‘fresh’ coverage of the issue on demand is cheap and easy (far more so than actually sending someone to far-away and logistically challenging Africa to cover something after it happens).

Because of the combination of follow-the-leader, pack journalism, and lack of newsgathering capacity, this state of affairs can be seen spreading to the rest of the world as well. Japan has no cultural or religious affinity with Israel-Palestine, and its politicians are not reliant on campaign contributions from pro-Israeli lobby groups, yet its media corporations follow the Western leaders in devoting heavy coverage to the issue. Even locally-focused news programs that rarely have any time for foreign affairs issues make sure to include news of the latest conflagration in their bulletins. With little budget for foreign newsgathering, Zambia’s leading newspaper (the Post) buys its world news from foreign news agencies. The result is that it gives more coverage to the situation in Israel-Palestine than it does to the eight countries on Zambia’s border combined. In the year 2004, for example, it devoted 9 percent of its foreign coverage to Israel-Palestine, but only 4 percent to all of Zambia’s eight neighbours.

On top of this, things have always been this way, so they tend to stay that way. Israel-Palestine has always been considered important, and ‘important’ people think it is, so it must be important. Groups (interest/lobby) and individuals with a special interest in the conflict in Israel-Palestine are also well-positioned to continue the process of drawing copious amounts of attention to the conflict, in political spheres and in the ownership of prominent media corporations. Africa, on the other hand, has not been considered important (for a variety of separate reasons that will be dealt with in another post), and therefore no one knows about it, and therefore it is not important. It becomes a vicious cycle.

The public, who remain largely at the mercy of the media corporations in obtaining morsels of information about the outside world, seem to end up with the same distorted view of the world. In a simple classroom survey conducted of 37 Australian university students (studying in a course on war and peace no less) in 2003, the conflict in Israel-Palestine was the most common answer (9 respondents) to the question of which conflict in the world they thought had been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War. Only one of the 37 could even name the conflict in the DRC as one of the world’s deadliest conflicts, and that was at third place behind Israel-Palestine and Afghanistan. In a similar survey conducted of 151 university students in Japan in 2008, not a single one could name the DRC as the world’s deadliest conflict. Fourteen students, on the other hand, thought that the conflict in Israel-Palestine was world’s deadliest, coming in at third place behind Iraq and Kosovo.

This is despite the fact that the virtually unknown conflict in the DRC is 1,000 times deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. And I don’t mean that figuratively, it is literally 1,000 times deadlier – the death toll from conflict in the DRC since 1998 is roughly 6 million, while the death toll from conflict in Israel-Palestine since 2000 is roughly 6 thousand. At least 38 conflicts since the end of the Cold War have been deadlier than that in Israel-Palestine. Put simply, while these surveys are limited in their scope, they suggest that collectively, the general public has no idea about the state of conflict in the world. Their perspective on which conflicts are the largest and deadliest is so skewed that the reality is unrecognizable. But who can blame them, considering the horribly unbalanced diet of media they feed on. I invite you to try out simple surveys like this (“Which conflict in the world do you think has been the deadliest since the end of the Cold War?”) with those around you.

In some ways, I almost regret writing this post, because I am becoming part of the very bandwagon that I am discussing – by writing about why the issue is important, I am inadvertently boosting the attention it receives… But some discussion of the issue of ‘chosen’ conflicts is also necessary in order for the discussion of ‘stealth’ conflicts to make sense.

i quote his blog entry in full, which i think i have quoted from before, because it raises some really important points that bear repeating. i do not write about the conflict in the drc as often as i would like to, though i do follow the news from the congo as best i can. it is not that i think the conflict doesn’t need more people writing about it, it is just that living in palestine means that you are constantly confronted with israeli terrorism every day and this affects, if not me, certainly my students, friends, people i care about. it is hard sometimes to think of the way hawkins talks about the coverage of palestine in the world media because most of it is a distorted, warped view of reality. but i also think it should not be about covering one story and not the other; i think both should be covered vigorously. and there are many parallels to both, particularly western interests in maintaining colonial or neocolonial powers over these two countries. here is a video that hawkins made raising some of these same questions about why we know so little about the conflict in the drc.

kambale musavuli of friends of the congo wrote an article in the san francisco bay view news this week about the neocolonial interests in the congo in ways that should wake up americans and europeans alike in ways akin to palestine. with both conflicts we are fueling the bloodshed through state and corporate neocolonial policies, though as hawkins shows in his film and article this is way off the radar screen. too, a friend of mine who is a photojournalist and who goes to the congo regularly, and who has also covered palestine, once told me a story about congolese people asking about palestine. after he told them about it they all thought that it sounded like their situation; the people told him that this is just like what rwanda is doing to the congo. here is musavuli’s assessment:

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London’s staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda’s support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda’s aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo’s wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda’s role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.

The report “found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces” to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo’s exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo’s wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame’s Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. president Bill Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of their aggression against the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda’s CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo’s resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground – land appropriation, theft of cattle and other assets – to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen’s “Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?” in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila’s government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, “Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product.”

He adds, “The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away.” Continuing his argument, he believes that “the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania.”

Cohen’s first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda’s looting of Congo’s natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain’s implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which in turn they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni’s son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, who have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers’ support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda’s recent so-called “house arrest” of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo’s importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.

Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo.

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo’s wealth and devastation of its peoples.

i have been thinking about the congo this week quite a bit, partially because i am teaching joseph conrad’s the heart of darkness in my postcolonial literature class. of course, i am teaching it in historical context of colonialism in the congo, but also in relation to current events there. and we will return to the congo when i end the semester with raoul peck’s biopic film lumumba. it is striking to reread this novel after decades–i think i first read this in junior high school and i don’t recall having read it since. the character kurtz is described by marlowe in a way that i think is especially significant given the tight focus of the story on two men. he is described by marlowe as:

The original Kurtz had been educated partly in England, and–as he was good enough to say himself–his sympathies were in the right place. His mother was half-English, his father was half-French. All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by-and-by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. (124)

the point here that i think is interesting is that he was made by all of europe. this is not because his parents came from different countries. this is because the savagery with which he loots and rapes the land and the people of the congo came from his upbringing in europe. his sense of his superiority. his racism. his capitalist drive. these are the forces that feed colonialism and imperialism and they come from europe. the quest for power, fed by greed and racism is what fuels every colonial project whether in the congo or in palestine. and these colonial ideologies about conquering the americas, australia, africa, asia also fed into zionist ideology. abayomi azikiwe wrote an essay recently entitled “pan-africanism and palestine solidarity – a history of anti-imperialist struggle” in which he lays out some of these parallels:

Throughout the negotiations involving the Zionist proposals for white penetration into Africa and Asia, Theodore Herzl, in the manner of 19th century imperialist thinkers, spoke of imperialism and colonialisation as a ‘noble activity destined to bring civilization to the “backward races”.’ Viewing the Jewish state with occidental white binoculars, he asserted that this state is designed to ‘form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.’

African territories were strongly considered as a ‘homeland’ for the Zionist state. This contradicts the proclaimed scriptural basis for the colonisation of Palestine. Zayid states that ‘in their search for a location for the Zionist enclave, to be created, a variety of options were explored including Uganda (east Africa), Tripolitania in Libya (north Africa), Cyprus (Mediterranean), Madagascar (off the southeast African coast), Congo (in central Africa) and Palestine.’

Joseph Chamberlain, the British racist theoretician told Herzl that ‘I have seen a land for you on my recent travels, and that is Uganda. It is not on the coast but the climate of the interior is excellent for Europeans. Though Herzl strongly favored Uganda as the location for the Jewish state, the committee, appointed by the World Zionist Congress to explore the area, found it unsuitable.’

the quote taken above is from a much longer article, which i highly recommend. it shows how various anti-colonial liberation movements came to support palestinian liberation not only because they were fighting the same struggle, but also because the zionist colonists in palestine helped to fund colonialism in countries like south africa. it also details a similar trajectory for african americans coming to support palestinian liberation. while, of course, i welcome this, and want to see more of this, i also think that it cannot and should not be unidirectional.

look at these two stories from relief web yesterday, for instance, that reported on new refugees from the congo and from gaza:

The number of Congolese refugees who have sought safety in South Sudan since attacks by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) last year has now surpassed the 15,000 mark.

UNHCR staff late last week accompanied local South Sudanese authorities to Lasu, a sparsely populated village in Central Equatoria State where they found the population of Congolese refugees had swelled from 2,000 to approximately 6,000. Most of them fled from the DRC town of Aba, which has been attacked several times since January, the latest last week. Lasu is 45 km from the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

At least 100,000 people, including up to 56,000 children, remain displaced with many continuing to take shelter in tents or crowding into remaining homes with other families, one month since the Gaza ceasefire was declared.

and, of course, there are conflicts that are in the news daily, but perhaps because of compassion fatigue they seem not to matter to people any more. obama says that he’s sending 17,000 new troops to afghanistan. he says this on the same day that new casualty figures for afghans is released:

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s escalating conflict have increased by 39 per cent over the last year, hitting their worst-ever level, according to a United Nations report.

A total of 2,118 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2008, the deadliest year since US-ousted the Taliban in 2001, the world body said in a report released on Tuesday.

meanwhile, israeli terrorists continue to bomb and shoot at palestinians in gaza:

A woman is dead and another person injured after Israeli warplanes launched several strikes on the border area between Egypt and Gaza Wednesday morning.

Warplanes launched missiles at underground smuggling tunnels, in addition to a security compound of the de facto government in Khan Younis, a city in the south of Gaza. A mosque was also destroyed in Khan Younis

The woman, 70-year-old Huda Abu Tahla, suffered a heart attack when missiles struck near her home, according to the executive director of the Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Muhammad Subih.

Missile strikes destroyed seven smuggling tunnels along the Philadelphi Route, the zone along the Egypt-Gaza border. Israeli sources said the strikes were a response to recent projectile attacks launched by into southern Israel from Gaza.

Separately, Palestinian medical sources said a Palestinian farmer was moderately injured by Israeli fire in Al-Farahin area, east of Khan Younis near the border with Israel.

and here in the west bank palestinians continue to be kidnapped every day, in increasingly high numbers while israeli terrorists keep teasing us with talk of prisoner release (clearly they want to boost the numbers inside before any such release might happen):

In a third consecutive day of mass arrests Israeli forces stormed the northern West Bank town of Jayyus near Qalqiliya early morning Wednesday and seized 65 Palestinian youth in an ongoing military operation.

Israeli soldiers declared the town a “Closed Military Area” and barred journalists from entering. A curfew has been imposed, trapping residents in their homes.

Soldiers told the families of those detained that they were “wanted” by Israeli intelligence….

According to Israeli sources the village was raided in a sweep for illegal weapons. An army spokesperson told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, that forces were operating in the town following a rise in the number of incidents involving the throwing of stones at Israeli vehicles.

Eight of those taken were identified as:

Sakhr Shamasnah,
Jabir Shamasnah,
Kamal Shamasnah,
Adli Shamasnah,
Anwar Aarif,
Mahir Aarif,
Muhammad Bilal and
Hamadah Nimir

The residents of Jayyus organize a weekly demonstration against the construction of the separation wall on village land. Foreign activists frequently attend the events and Israeli soldiers regularly invade the town and harass its residents following the departure of the activists.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Wednesday morning apprehended two Palestinian university students from the northern West Bank town of Far’un, south of Tulkarem.

Soldiers stormed the town at dawn, ransacking a residential building and seizing two students at the Palestine Technical University.

Two of the students detained were identified as 22-year-old Sami Al-Jaroushi, affiliated with Fatah, and 20-year-old Fawzi Qarqur, apparently a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

and because israeli terrorists didn’t have enough blood on their hands for today, they decided to invade lebanon, too:

Witnesses heard the sound of four consecutive explosions accompanied by gunfire and overflights by helicopter gunships over the Arqoub region in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms.

The state-run National News Agency said an Israeli force had earlier in the day crossed the barbed wire at the southwestern edge of the border town of Ghajar.

The 19-member Israeli force conducted a two-hour search of the area, NNA said.

ah, yes, colonialism is alive and well here in palestine. in the congo. in afghanistan. in iraq. and so many other places around the world. but what i want to know is when can we connect these liberation struggles and fight for the as one? the corporations and states fueling these colonial projects overlap. so should our political solidarity.

the shipping news

poor baha’a was not able to leave for gaza this morning. he’s so distraught. but there is some confusion in the various media reports about the lebanese ship and whether or not it left and who was on board. it seems that march 14th/mustqabal prevented certain people were not allowed to leave at the last minute. those passengers were the palestinians on board. layers and layers of collusion. of collaborators. it is like suffocation. but check the different versions of this story in arabic and english starting with al akhbar:

العدد ٧٣٨ الثلاثاء ٣ شباط ٢٠٠٩

مرفأ طرابلس ـ ثائر غندور

المطران كبوجي أمسالمطران كبوجي أمسلأجل موعد مع غزة، لكسر الحصار، وصلوا بأمتعتهم. احتمالات الدخول للقطاع، احتمال الاصطدام بالاسرائيليين كان محور أحاديث النهار. وعندما رأوا السفينة «الظافر» راسية في مرفأ طرابلس، ظنوا أن الحلم يتحقق. ينظرون إلى الباخرة: «عمرها من عمر النكبة» يصرخ أحدهم ضاحكاً. «لا يهم» تجيبه صديقته. الخبر المشؤوم الرقم واحد: السلطات اللبنانيّة رفضت السماح للسفينة بالانطلاق. السبب: إنها غير آمنة. يتحرّك المسؤولون في «المبادرة الوطنيّة لكسر الحصار» ويؤمنون أخرى: «تالي».

يحمل المتطوعون الستة والثمانون أمتعتهم ويصعدون إلى السفينة. الحلم أصبح قريب القطاف. «هناك سفن أوروبية تنتظرنا في قبرص للذهاب إلى غزة»، يقول أحد المتطوعين.
هذا يعني أملاً كبيراً في الوصول.

تمرّ الساعات بطيئة. يصل رئيس تجمع اللجان والروابط الشعبيّة معن بشور قائلاً إنه يحمل خبراً سيئاً «أبلغتنا السلطات أن الذهاب إلى غزة غير وارد بهذه السفينة لأنها سفينة شحن، وهناك خياران: إما أن لا تذهب السفينة أو تذهب بدون المتطوعين».

يسود صمت رهيب. تكفهرّ الوجوه. ينسى الجميع تعب الساعات التي وقفوها على أرجلهم من دون طعام وتحت المطر. يخرج نقابي شيوعي ليقول «هناك قرار سياسي بمنعنا. ألم يكونوا موافقين حتى صباح اليوم على السفينة الأولى»؟ تعلو صرخات الاستهجان. يطلب بشور تنظيم النقاش «حتى نأخذ قراراً موحداً». يتحدّث بعض رجال الدين في الإطار ذاته: «ذاهبون إلى غزة شاء من شاء وأبى من أبى. هم وافقوا على سفر السفينة التجاريّة. قالوا أحضروا سترات النجاة وأحضرناها، ما الذي تغيّر؟ من المسؤول؟ هل هو الاعتدال العربي؟».

يقول معن بشور إن الرؤساء الثلاثة ووزير النقل على اطلاع على ما يجري وهم لا يريدوننا أن نقع في مشكلة قانونيّة. لا يقنع الكلام أحداً. ماذا نفعل؟ يقترح عربي العنداري رئيس المجلس الوطني في اتحاد الشباب الديموقراطي اللبناني «التظاهر حتى ذهاب السفينة بمن عليها».

«نريد فعل الخير وهم يعرقلوننا» يقول مطران القدس في المنفى هيلاريون كبوشي، ويضيف «السبب هو الخارج أي دول الاعتدال العربي». يعلّق أحد الموجودين «الاسرائيليون مأزومون ولا يريدون أن يمنعوا هم السفينة فمنعها اللبنانيون وفق طلب أميركي». لم ييأس المتطوعون. قلّة منهم تعتلي متن السفينة، قبل أن ترفع القوى الأمنيّة السلم، وتمنع الباقين من الصعود. المفاوضات مستمرة. هناك من يطالب الدولة بتأمين سفينة إذا ما كانت جادة. الشتائم تطال الوزير غازي العريضي «وزير الاعتدال العربي» كما نعته البعض.
يقولون إن العريضي مخطئ وسيدفع ثمن موقفه. لا يريدون التراجع. لكن قرار حكومة الوحدة الوطنيّة أقوى منهم. اثنتا عشرة ساعة من الوقوف تحت المطر من دون أكل أو راحة. الثامنة مساءً. تطلع قوة امنية الى متن السفينة وتطلب من الجميع مغادرتها. يقترح أحد المنظمين أن تسافر السفينة بثمانية اشخاص معظمهم من الاعلام المرئي. يرفض المعتصمون. هم قابَ سفينة من غزة. وحتى كتابة هذه السطور، كان الانتظار سيد الموقف. بكلمات قليلة: سفينة كسر الحصار محاصرة من الدولة ومن عدم تنسيق المنظمين لرحلتهم. بكلمات وجدانيّة: حلم زيارة فلسطين تأجّل، لكنه لم يتلاشَ.

عدد الثلاثاء ٣ شباط ٢٠٠٩

and this from as safir:

¯ العريضي: باخرتا شحن غير مجهزتين للركاب ¯ بشور: موعودون بباخرة ثالثة للباقين
»سفينة الأخوة« تبدلت وأبحرت إلى غزة وعلى متنها ٨ أشخاص من أصل ٨٢

غسان ريفي
طرابلس :

… وأبحرت »سفينة الأخوة اللبنانية« إلى لارنكا، ومنها إلى غزة عند منتصف ليل أمس، بعد مخاض عسير، وبعد يوم طويل من المفاوضات التي خاضها الوزير السابق بشـارة مرهج وعضو الحملة الوطنية لكسر الحصار عن غزة (منــظمة الرحلة) معن بشور مع وزير الأشغال العامة والنقل غازي العريضي وتدخل في مجرياتها رئيس الجمهورية ميشال سليمان ورئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري.

وبينما كان مقرراً أن تنطلق السفينة »ظافر« عند الثانية عشرة من ظهر أمس، وعلى متنها ٨٢ راكباً من شخصيات وإعلاميين ومتطوعين ناشطين محملة بالمساعدات إلى غزة، فإن السفينة التي غادرت مرفأ طرابلس هي واحدة أخرى اسمها »تالي« وعلى متنها »مطران القدس في المنفى ايلاريون كبوجي والشيخ صلاح الدين علايلي ورئيس رابطة علماء فلسطين الشيخ داوود مصطفى ومنسق الحملة هاني سليمان واربعة إعلاميين من قناتي الجزيرة والجديد مؤهلين تقنياً للبث المباشر من الباخرة في البحر في حال تعرّضت لها قطع بحرية إسرائيلية أو غيرها«، بحسب ما قال بشور لـ»السفير«. وتابع: »أما الباقون من الركاب فمن المفترض أن يؤمن رجل أعمال فلسطيني سفينة أخرى للركاب لتقلهم إلى غزة«. »تالي كانت منعت من الإبحار بالمشاركين جميعهم، بعدما تبين للعريضي أنها معدة للشحن وأن فيها ثغرات من الممكن إصلاحها إذا قرر المنظمون تأجيل الرحلة. لكن المفاوضات انتهت بالسماح بإبحار »تالي« وعلى متنها ثمانية ركاب من أصل ٨٢ بينما عاد الباقون ادراجهم.
ماذا في تفاصيل اليوم الطويل؟

عند الثامنة صباحاً تجمّع ناشطون حقوقيون وأطباء وإعلاميون في شارع الحمراء للانتقال إلى طرابلس. وفي المرفأ، وبعد تحميل الباخرة »ظافر« بالمساعدات وصعود الركاب إليها، جاء كشف المسؤولين في المرفأ بأنها غير صالحة للإبحار بالركاب وغير مجهزة لسلامتهم. بعد اتصالات من اللجنة المنظمة، تم تأمين الباخرة »تالي« التي نقلت إليها الحمولة، ما استدعى تأخيراً في الإبحار حتى الساعة الرابعة عصراً. لاحقاَ منعت الباخرة الثانية من الإبحار بهذا العدد من الركاب، بعدما تبين للعريضي أن الباخرة الثانية للشحن ليست معدة لنقل الركاب.

العريضي شرح لـ»السفير« أنه أوقف سفر الباخرة »ظافر«، لأنها تفتقر الى مواصفات السلامة العامة، وبعض المواصفات القانونية التي تمنعها من الملاحة. وتابع: ظهر أن هناك ملاحظات حول ميكانيك السفينة وطاقمها، ووسائل الحماية، وقد أجرينا كشفاً عليها فتبين أنها غير صالحة لمثل هذه الرحلة نظراً للمسؤولية المترتبة عن حياة الركاب. ولا يمكن بالتالي السماح لأسباب قانونية بنقل ركاب مع الحمولة، فطلبنا من القيمين على الرحلة تأجيل الموضوع لحين توفر باخرة بديلة. وأضاف: اتصل بنا النائب السابق بشارة مرهج ومعن بشور، كما اتصلا برئيس الجمهورية ميشال سليمان، فاتصل الرئيس بي وشرحت له الوضع، فأيد موقفي، ثم أبلغني مرهج وبشور أنهما أمنا باخرة أخرى (الباخرة تالي)، فطلبنا ملفها، فتبين أنها باخرة شحن لا ركاب، وبالتالي، فبحسب القانون الدولي لا يمكن السماح بركوب ركاب فيها إذ يمكن توقيف الباخرة في أي ميناء دولي، عدا عن أن الأمر يسبب تسيباً في المرافئ اللبنانية، ناهيك عن الثغرات فيها والتي يمكن إصلاحها أو معالجتها. وأبدينا استعداداً للمساعدة وطلبنا التريث مجدداً لتوفير بديل أفضل وأصلح وقانوني. فاتصلا بالرئيس نبيه بري طالبين تدخله، فاتصل بي وشرحت له الموقف، فأيد موقفي وأكد ثقته بي«.
من جهته، قال مرهج لـ»السفير« إن الباخرة »تالي« مجهزة بعشر غرف وثلاثة صالونات ومحركاتها جيدة جداً. لاحقاً على تحميل المساعدات على متنها عرفت أن العريضي منع الإبحار، فاتصلت به فأخبرني أنها للشحن وإبحارها بالركاب غير قانوني. فقلت له إن السفينة ممتازة والمسؤولين في المرفأ كانوا متعاونين معنا ولم يخبرنا أحد منهم بأي مشكلة فيها، وهي محملة بالمساعدات وليست تجارية، بل في سبيل قضية إنسانية، لذا فموقفك قوي قانونياً، لكن الوزير تمسك برأيه«.

لكن المفاوضات وصلت لاحقاً إلى التسوية الليلية بأن يصعد على متن السفينة رجال الدين الثلاثة وسليمان إضافة إلى الإعلاميين الاربعة.
من جهته، قال بشور لـ»السفير« إن الحملة كانت أمام خيارين، فإما إلغاء الرحلة وإدخال الموضوع في مجال التجاذبات السياسية، وإما تنطلق بالأشخاص الثمانية، فاعتمدنا الخيار الثاني. وتساءل بشور »عن سبب المنع المفاجئ عند الساعة الرابعة عصراً وليس صباح الأحد حيث كان مقرراً أن تنطلق »ظافر« إلى غزة«.

وكان المشاركون في الرحلة أصيبوا بالإحباط مع حلول ساعات المساء الأولى، وبعد يوم مرهق من الانتظار والانتقال من باخرة إلى أخرى ومن منع إلى آخر. بعضهم اقترح »تحدي القرار« والخروج بالسفينة، وإن استدعى الأمر مواجهة مع السلطة، لأنه »عندما شاهدَت (السفيرة الأميركية) ميشال سيسون الرايات الفلسطينية فوق السفينة أصدرت تعليماتها للسلطة بمنع إبحارها«، قالت إحدى المشاركات فيما تحدث آخرون عن ضغوط سياسية مورست من قبل »جهات معينة« لمنع اللبنانيين من التضامن مع أخوتهم في غزة. »هذا ما توقعته منذ أن أبلغونا بضرورة استبدال السفينة«، قال أحدهم.
من جهته، نفى العريضي ما تردد عن »ضغوط مورست عليه لمنع إبحار السفينة«، وقال لـ»السفير«: في موضوع فلسطين والمقاومة لا أحد يزايد أو يضغط عليّ.
تبقى الكلمة الأخيرة للمطران كبوجي الذي طلب من الجميع »الدعاء إلى أهالي غزة، والابتهال إلى الله بأن يوصل باخرة »الاخوة« والمتضامنين الذين على متنها إلى قلب غزة للتعبير عن التضامن مع أهلها وكسر الحصار والوحدة التي يعيشونها، مؤكداً أن »إسرائيل لا تستطيع أن تمنع الباخرة من الدخول إلى غزة فهي متوجهة إلى أرضها وترابها، وإسرائيل معتدية ومغتصبة لهذه الأرض، وعليها أن ترحل وان توقف عدوانها الهمجي على غزة وعلى أهلها بشكل فوري، وأن ترفع هذا الحصار الجائز. وقال إنه اشتاق إلى أرض فلسطين وتراب غزة.

and now check out lebanon’s an nahar:

A cargo ship carrying activists and supplies sailed late Monday from Lebanon en route to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

The ship, carrying 60 tons of medicine, food, toys, books and stationery, left the northern port city of Tripoli for Larnaca in Cyprus at around midnight.

On board the “Brotherhood Ship” were eight people including the former Greek-Catholic archbishop of Jerusalem, Monsignor Hilarion Capucci, who left Jerusalem in the 1970s after serving time in an Israeli jail for membership of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“We have decided to go ahead with this mission in solidarity with the people of Gaza so that they don’t feel cut off from the world,” organizer Hani Suleiman told Agence France Presse before the boat left Tripoli.

“There is no reason whatsoever for Israel to prevent us from reaching Gaza,” he added. “We have no rockets, no weapons, just aid for the people of Gaza.”

The Togolese-registered Tali was headed first to Cyprus where authorities were to search the vessel to ensure transparency, before continuing on to the Gaza Strip.

Beirut, 03 Feb 09, 09:40

and then ha’aretz, which clearly just pulled from an nahar for its version:

An organizer says a cargo ship carrying activists and supplies has set sail from Lebanon en route to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

The Togo-flagged ship Tali is carrying about 60 tons of medicine, food, toys, books and stationery, as well as eight activists and journalists.

The ship set sail early Tuesday from Tripoli in northern Lebanon. It will stop in Larnaca, Cyprus, before proceeding to Gaza.

Organizers say they hope to arrive mid-week. But Israel has imposed a blockade of the coastal Palestinian territory and has turned back similar aid boats trying to reach Gaza.

A similar trip planned for December was put off because of the recent Israeli offensive against Hamas militants who control

meanwhile there is beautiful news about boats coming from south africa–israeli terrorist boats to be more specific:

South African dockworkers announce ban on Israeli ship

Posted by StopTheWall on Tue, 02/03/2009 – 10:15

February 3, 2009 – LINKS – In a historic development for South Africa, South African dock workers have announced their determination not to offload a ship from Israel that is scheduled to dock in Durban on Sunday, February 8, 2009. This follows the decision by COSATU to strengthen the campaign in South Africa for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel.

The pledge by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) members in Durban reflects the commitment by South African workers to refuse to support oppression and exploitation across the globe.

Last year, Durban dock workers had refused to offload a shipment of arms that had arrived from China and was destined for Zimbabwe to prop up the Mugabe regime and to intensify the repression against the Zimbabwean people. Now, says SATAWU’s General Secretary Randall Howard, the union’s members are committing themselves to not handling Israeli goods.

SATAWU’s action on Sunday will be part of a proud history of worker resistance against apartheid. In 1963, just four years after the Anti-Apartheid Movement was formed, Danish dock workers refused to offload a ship with South African goods. When the ship docked in Sweden, Swedish workers followed suit. Dock workers in Liverpool and, later, in the San Francisco Bay Area also refused to offload South African goods. South Africans, and the South African working class in particular, will remain forever grateful to those workers who determinedly opposed apartheid and decided that they would support the anti-apartheid struggle with their actions.

Last week, Western Australian members of the Maritime Union of Australia resolved to support the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and have called for a boycott of all Israeli vessels and all vessels bearing goods arriving from or going to Israel.

This is the legacy and the tradition that South African dock workers have inherited, and it is a legacy they are determined to honour, by ensuring that South African ports of entry will not be used as transit points for goods bound for or emanating from certain dictatorial and oppressive states such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Israel.

COSATU, the Palestine Solidarity Committee, the Young Communist League and a range of other organisations salute the principled position taken by these workers. We also take this opportunity to salute the millions of workers all over the world who have openly condemned and taken decisive steps to isolate apartheid Israel, a step that should send shockwaves to its arrogant patrons in the United States who foot the bill for Israel’s killing machine. We call on other workers and unions to follow suit and to do all that is necessary to ensure that they boycott all goods to and from Israel until Palestine is free.

We also welcome statements by various South African Jews of conscience who have dissociated themselves from the genocide in Gaza. We call on all South Africans to ensure that none of our family members are allowed to join the Israeli Occupation Forces’ killing machine.

In celebration of the actions of SATAWU members with regard to the ship from Israel, and in pursuance of the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and our call on the South African government to sever diplomatic and trade relations with Israel, this coalition of organisations has declared a week of action beginning on Friday, February 6, 2009. The actions will be organised under the theme: FREE PALESTINE! ISOLATE APARTHEID ISRAEL! Activities that have already been confirmed for this week will include:

* Friday, February 6: A protest outside the offices of the South African Zionist Federation and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, 2 Elray Street, Raedene, off Louis Botha Avenue. Both these organisations unquestioningly supported the recent Israeli attacks against Gaza, and supported the massacre of civilians and the attacks on schools, mosques, ambulances and UN refugee centres. Protesters will be addressed by, among others, SATAWU General Secretary Randall Howard, and ex-minister Ronnie Kasrils. Protest starts at 14:00.

* Friday, February 6: A picket outside parliament in Cape Town. COSATU members and solidarity activists will be joined by a number of members of parliament. Picket starts at 09:30.

* Friday, February 6: A mass rally in Actonville, Benoni, at the Buzme Adab Hall. The rally will be addressed by, among others, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, PSC spokesperson Salim Vally, South African Council of Churches General Secretary Eddie Makue, and ex-minister Ronnie Kasrils. Rally starts at 19:30.

* Sunday, February 8: A protest at the Durban Harbour mouth, off Victoria Embankment [Margaret Mncadi Avenue]. Protesters will be addressed by, among others, COSATU President Sdumo Dlamini. Protest starts at 10:00.

* Sunday, February 8: A mass rally in Cape Town at Vygieskraal Rugby Stadium. The rally will be addressed by, among others, COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, and Allan Boesak. Rally starts at 14:30.

fyi: here is an article about the weak (read: no cajones) statement by south african jews. notice they have nothing to say about boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

& in other news: israeli terrorists are sanctioning al jazeera here:

The government will impose sanctions on Israel-based employees of the Al Jazeera network in response to the closure last month of the Israeli trade office in Qatar, which hosts and funds the network. Qatar had closed the office in opposition to Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Following the closure, the Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with the newly-formed national information directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office, considered declaring the station a hostile entity and closing its offices in Israel. After submitting the idea to legal review, however, concerns emerged it would not be permitted by the High Court of Justice.

Instead, it chose to limit the network’s activity in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. First, Israel will not renew the visas of Al Jazeera’s non-Israeli employees or grant visas to new employees. Second, station representatives will have reduced accessibility to government and military bodies, and will not be allowed into briefings or press conferences.

gaza’s genocide / israel’s suicide

Abdellah Derkaoui
Abdellah Derkaoui

i do not know why i continue to be shocked by what i see and read, but i do. i decided i am sick of every mofo leader on the planet who quietly–or perhaps on rare occasion even loudly–expresses their “concern” with the evil slaughter of palestinians in gaza by israeli terrorists. i am also so sick of seeing motherf(*&^%@ like bani ki-moon who quietly expresses his “outrage” at israeli terrorists all the while smiling on camera, laughing on camera as hospitals with the wounded inside are bombed. as far as i am concerned ban ki-moon as blood on his hands too. the un security council resolutions are binding; he could have done something, but he chooses to do nothing. or gordon brown saying that it is “indefensible” while he does nothing to stop it. where is his airforce? i’m sick of these world leaders flying around the planet to discuss a ceasefire. i’m sick of no other country, no other airforce coming to the defense of palestinians. where is libya? don’t they have an airforce? can’t they bomb the zionist state back to the stone age? iran? someone? these people make false claims of concern–false because they do NOTHING–and meanwhile the people suffer, especially children.

ban ki-moon laughing over the genocide committed by ehud olmert
ban ki-moon laughing over the genocide committed by ehud olmert

here are some of the children whose suffering is at the expense of the collusion of the united nations and israeli terrorists.

and listen to what a lame-ass, weak, motherf(*&^%$ head of the united nations, ban, said in response to this genocidal spree of israeli terrorism:

in spite of this suffering, i never cease to be amazed, in awe, and in complete support of palestinian resistance in gaza. that they are able to stay steadfast. that they are able to survive and continue to fight amidst the unabated bombardment. this in spite of the 1,133 dead and the 5,200 injured, the latest figures from ayman mohyeldin on a twitter update. but the bodies still haven’t been pulled out from the rubble yet.

yesterday was a new low–just when you think israeli terrorists can go no lower–in their attacks on the unrwa building, where people had gathered together seeking shelter from the bombing, their attacks on hospitals–yet another one since my post yesterday morning:

Israeli snipers opened fire on families running to take shelter in a Red Crescent hospital in the Tel Al-Hawa area of Gaza on Thursday afternoon, witnesses said.

Sharon Locke, an Australian volunteer at Al-Quds Hospital said that when one family approached the hospital, Israeli snipers started firing at the family.

“They shot a young girl in the face and abdomen. She is now being operated on. The father of the family was shot in the leg and fell to the ground,” Locke said.

“The mother was screaming that one of her daughters was still outside, behind a bush, too scared to move. Mohammed, a medic I have been working with, ran outside and carried her to the hospital,” Locke said.

Locke later told Ma’an that some 600 Palestinians who had taken shelter in the medical facility have now been evacuated on foot to a nearby UNRWA school.

On Thursday morning parts of the hospital went up in flames when Israeli artillery shells struck the buildings. At the time of writing, the operations building of the hospital was still burning.

“The hospital suffered at least one direct hit this morning, and all the patients had to be moved in panic to the ground floor,” said Bashar Morad, director of Palestine Red Crescent emergency medical services. The second floor of the building immediately caught fire. The hospital’s pharmacy was also partly damaged. Fire brigade trucks, escorted by ICRC teams, rushed to the scene and managed to put out the fire.

“It is unacceptable that wounded people receiving treatment in hospitals are put at risk,” said Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who just completed a three-day visit to the area that included a stop at Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

supposedly israeli terrorists sent in fire trucks to help with putting out the fire of the unrwa building, where all the food and medical aid was stored as well, and supposedly ehud olmert “apologized,” but is this supposed to make up for their savagery? f)*^% olmert and f%$# his empty apology. one does not and should not ever forgive a people who make vapid apologies and continue doing the very thing they were apologizing for again and again and again for 61 years. and in addition to the bombing of united nations buildings and hospitals, israeli terrorists continue their long history of extra-juridical assassinations:

The Israeli military assassinated de facto Interior Minister Sa’eed Syam in an airstrike on Thursday.

His brother and son were also killed in the blast, according to news reports.

In addition to Syam, nine others were killed in the strike, which reportedly targeted a senior Islamic Jihad leader and the head of the Al-Qassam Brigades, an armed faction affiliated with Hamas….

Hamas condemned the killing of Syam’s son, brother Iyad and sister-in-law, as well as her son, who was killed along with four other neighbors near the home. Ten Palestinians were killed in the airstrike, including Syam and five of his family members.

meanwhile yesterday the free gaza movement tried once again to reach gaza, but were threatened by israeli terrorists and had to turn around and head back to cyprus:

Meanwhile, a Greek-flagged vessel trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip with medical aid for the Palestinians was turned back to Cyprus by an Israeli naval vessel.

Huwaida Arraf, an organiser with the US-based Free Gaza Movement, said that the boat was intercepted about 100 miles northeast of Gaza.

“They got very close and they threatened that if we continued they would open fire on us,” she told the Reuters news agency.

“They surrounded us with about four warships making it very difficult to navigate. They said they would use all means to keep us out of Gaza.”

those of you out there who want to pretend like there is some sort of peace movement inside the israeli terrorist infrastructure take a look at the most recent polling data from the jerusalem post and then think again:

The Israeli military operation against Hamas in Gaza enjoys the overwhelming support of Israeli Jews despite the loss of civilian life in the Hamas-run territory, a survey released Wednesday showed.

A whopping 94% of the public support or strongly support the operation while 92% think it benefits Israel’s security, according to the Tel Aviv University survey.

The poll found that 92% of Israeli Jews justify the air force’s attacks in Gaza despite the suffering of the civilian population in the Strip and the damage they cause to infrastructure.

in other words the majority of israeli terrorists are terrorists–they support this genocide in every way. and they should all be held accountable for the war crimes they all support financially, militarily, intellectually. this is an example of the kind of terrorism they support:

i received this email yesterday that shows the devastation that the health sector is experiencing in gaza right now:

Dear Friends,

The Israeli bombardment in its 20th day is the heaviest and most destructive that complicates the ongoing humanitarian operation.

The Israeli Military operation and bombardment is 400 meters a way from PMRS head office in Gaza; this will threat the lives of PMRS
teams and jeopardize their efforts in emergency response, our team might be forced to look for alternatives or move to safer places to
continue their efforts.

UNRWA head offices and store houses including fuel main supply were targeted during the last few hours; the main building was hit, and it is on fire now. UNRWA the most important organization that leads the humanitarian work is forced to completely stop its operation in Gaza.

People living in this neighborhood are trapped in their homes (like Tal A-Hawa neighborhood) with aid organizations and emergency health teams are unable to access these communities.

We all must work to ensure the protection of civilians in Gaza and maintain humanitarian efforts at this difficult time of the War.


Director General

Palestinian Medical Relief Society

dear, amazing caoimhe managed to get back into gaza via the rafah crossing the other day and had wrote this up about what she is witnessing:

Still Breathing, A Report from Gaza

By Caoimhe Butterly

The morgues of Gaza’s hospitals are over-flowing. The bodies in their blood-soaked white shrouds cover the entire floor space of the Shifa hospital morgue. Some are intact, most horribly deformed, limbs twisted into unnatural positions, chest cavities exposed, heads blown off, skulls crushed in. Family members wait outside to identify and claim a brother, husband, father, mother, wife, child. Many of those who wait their turn have lost numerous family members and loved ones.

Blood is everywhere. Hospital orderlies hose down the floors of operating rooms, bloodied bandages lie discarded in corners, and the injured continue to pour in: bodies lacerated by shrapnel, burns, bullet wounds. Medical workers, exhausted and under siege, work day and night and each life saved is seen as a victory over the predominance of death.

The streets of Gaza are eerily silent- the pulsing life and rhythm of markets, children, fishermen walking down to the sea at dawn brutally stilled and replaced by an atmosphere of uncertainty, isolation and fear.

The ever-present sounds of surveillance drones, F16s, tanks and apaches are listened to acutely as residents try to guess where the next deadly strike will be- which house, school, clinic, mosque, governmental building or community centre will be hit next and how to move before it does. That there are no safe places- no refuge for vulnerable human bodies- is felt acutely. It is a devastating awareness for parents- that there is no way to keep their children safe.

As we continue to accompany the ambulances, joining Palestinian paramedics as they risk their lives, daily, to respond to calls from those with no other life-line, our existence becomes temporarily narrowed down and focused on the few precious minutes that make the difference between life and death. With each new call received as we ride in ambulances that careen down broken, silent roads, sirens and lights blaring, there exists a battle of life over death. We have learned the language of the war that the Israelis are waging on the collective captive population of Gaza- to distinguish between the sounds of the weaponry used, the timing between the first missile strikes and the inevitable second- targeting those that rush to tend to and evacuate the wounded, to recognize the signs of the different chemical weapons being used in this onslaught, to overcome the initial vulnerability of recognizing our own mortality.

Though many of the calls received are to pick up bodies, not the wounded, the necessity of affording the dead a dignified burial drives the paramedics to face the deliberate targeting of their colleagues and comrades- thirteen killed while evacuating the wounded, fourteen ambulances destroyed- and to continue to search for the shattered bodies of the dead to bring home to their families.

Last night, while sitting with paramedics in Jabaliya refugee camp, drinking tea and listening to their stories, we received a call to respond to the aftermath of a missile strike. When we arrived at the outskirts of the camp where the attack had taken place the area was filled with clouds of dust, torn electricity lines, slabs of concrete and open water pipes gushing water into the street. Amongst the carnage of severed limbs and blood we pulled out the body of a young man, his chest and face lacerated by shrapnel wounds, but alive- conscious and moaning.

As the ambulance sped him through the cold night we applied pressure to his wounds, the warmth of his blood seeping through the bandages reminder of the life still in him. He opened his eyes in answer to my questions and closed them again as Muhammud, a volunteer paramedic, murmured “ayeesh, nufuss”- live, breathe- over and over to him. He lost consciousness as we arrived at the hospital, received into the arms of friends who carried him into the emergency room. He, Majid, lived and is recovering.

A few minutes later there was another missile strike, this time on a residential house. As we arrived a crowd had rushed to the ruins of the four story home in an attempt to drag survivors out from under the rubble. The family the house belonged to had evacuated the area the day before and the only person in it at the time of the strike was 17 year old Muhammud who had gone back to collect clothes for his family. He was dragged out from under the rubble still breathing- his legs twisted in unnatural directions and with a head wound, but alive. There was no choice but to move him, with the imminence of a possible second strike, and he lay in the ambulance moaning with pain and calling for his mother. We thought he would live, he was conscious though in intense pain and with the rest of
the night consumed with call after call to pick up the wounded and the dead, I forgot to check on him. This morning we were called to pick up a body from Shifa hospital to take back to Jabaliya. We carried a body wrapped in a blood-soaked white shroud into the ambulance, and it wasn’t until we were on the road that we realized that it was Muhammud’s body. His brother rode with us, opening the shroud to tenderly kiss Muhammud’s forehead.

This morning we received news that Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was under siege. We tried unsuccessfully for hours to gain access to the hospital, trying to organize co-ordination to get the ambulances past Israeli tanks and snipers to evacuate the wounded and dead. Hours of unsuccessful attempts later we received a call from the Shujahiya neighborhood, describing a house where there were both dead and wounded patients to pick up. The area was deserted, many families having fled as Israeli tanks and snipers took up position amongst their homes, other silent in the dark, cold confines of their homes, crawling from room to room to avoid sniper fire through their windows.

As we drove slowly around the area, we heard women’s cries for help. We approached their house on foot, followed by the ambulances and as we came to the threshold of their home, they rushed towards us with their children, shaking and crying with shock. At the door of the house the ambulance lights exposed the bodies of four men, lacerated by shrapnel wounds- the skull and brains of one exposed, others whose limbs had been severed off. The four were the husbands and brothers of the women, who had ventured out to search for bread and food for their families. Their bodies were still warm as we struggled to carry them on stretchers over the uneven ground, their blood staining the earth and our clothes. As we prepared to leave the area our torches illuminated the slumped figure of another man, his abdomen and chest shredded by shrapnel. With no space in the other ambulances, and the imminent possibility of sniper fire, we were forced to take his body in the back of the ambulance carrying the women and children. One of the little girls stared at me before coming into my arms and telling me her name- Fidaa’, which means to sacrifice. She stared at the body bag, asking when he would wake up.

Once back at the hospital we received word that the Israeli army had shelled Al Quds hospital, that the ensuing fire risked spreading and that there had been a 20-minute time-frame negotiated to evacuate patients, doctors and residents in the surrounding houses. By the time we got up there in a convoy of ambulances, hundreds of people had gathered. With the shelling of the UNRWA compound and the hospital there was a deep awareness that nowhere in Gaza is safe, or sacred.

We helped evacuate those assembled to near-by hospitals and schools that have been opened to receive the displaced. The scenes were deeply saddening- families, desperate and carrying their children, blankets and bags of their possessions venturing out in the cold night to try to find a corner of a school or hospital to shelter in. The paramedic we were with referred to the displacement of the over 46,000 Gazan Palestinians now on the move as a continuation of the ongoing Nakba of dispossession and exile seen through generation after generation enduring massacre after massacre.

Today’s death toll was over 75, one of the bloodiest days since the start of this carnage. Over 1,110 Palestinians have been killed in the past 21 days. 367 of those have been children. The humanitarian infrastructure of Gaza is on its knees- already devastated by years of comprehensive siege. There has been a deliberate, systematic destruction of all places of refuge. There are no safe places here, for anyone.

And yet, in the face of so much desecration, this community has remained intact. The social solidarity and support between people is inspiring, and the steadfastness of Gaza continues to humble and inspire all those who witness it. Their level of sacrifice demands our collective response- and recognition that demonstrations are not enough. Gaza, Palestine and its people continue to live, breathe, resist and remain intact and this refusal to be broken is a call and challenge to us all.

as always caoimhe doesn’t only witness the devastation–she also pays homage to the steadfastness, to the resistance, to the resilience of the people with whom she works in solidarity. and i hope that this steadfastness lasts and lasts and lasts until the destruction of the zionist entity, which increasingly seems to be eminent. immanuel wallerstein offers his insight on the subject of the demise of the jewish state:

Israel however was always one step behind. When it could have negotiated with Nasser, it wouldn’t. When it could have negotiated with Arafat, it wouldn’t. When Arafat died and was succeeded by the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas, the more militant Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Israel refused to talk to Hamas.

Now, Israel has invaded Gaza, seeking to destroy Hamas. If it succeeds, what organization will come next? If, as is more probable, it fails to destroy Hamas, is a two-state solution now possible? Both Palestinian and world public opinion is moving towards the one-state solution. And this is of course the end of the Zionist project.

The three-element strategy of Israel is decomposing. The iron fist no longer succeeds, much as it didn’t for George Bush in Iraq. Will the United States link remain firm? I doubt it. And will world public opinion continue to look sympathetically on Israel? It seems not. Can Israel now switch to an alternative strategy, of negotiating with the militant representatives of the Arab Palestinians, as an integral constituent of the Middle East, and not as an outpost of Europe? It seems quite late for that, quite possibly too late. Hence, the chronicle of a suicide foretold.

one can only hope at this point. hope that this genocide is the zionist regime’s suicide. hope and support the resistance in every way possible to bring about this aim.

4 days of death in gaza: 363 martyrs and counting…

as we entered into the fourth day of israeli terrorism besieging gaza i had to pretend that today was a normal day. somehow. some way. i’m not very good at hiding my feelings or pretending that things are okay when there is so much horror so close at hand. i can’t eat. i can’t sleep. i can’t work. and yet the university is going on as normal. while islamic university was bombed two days ago my university is continuing with its final exams this week. i do not know how students are supposed to be studying. everything is different on campus now. instead of the usual ridiculous arab pop music videos playing in the university cafeteria, for instance, everyone was glued to al jazeera to see the latest developments in gaza. but as i walked on to campus today i couldn’t help but think about islamic university. its students, faculty, staff. wondering who they are, where they are, if they are okay.

one american literature professor from islamic university, dr. akram habeeb, wrote about this for electronic intifada. here is what he had to say in full:

As a Fulbright scholar and professor of American literature at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), I have always preferred to keep silent about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I always felt that it was my mission to preach love and peaceful coexistence. However, Israel’s massive offensive against the Gaza Strip has spurred me to speak out.

Last night, during the second night of Israel’s unprecedented attack on Gaza, I was awakened by the deafening sound of intensive bombardment. When I learned that Israel had bombed my university with American-made F-16s, I realized that its “target bank” had gone bankrupt. Of course Israeli politicians and generals would claim that IUG is a Hamas stronghold and that it preaches terrorism.

As an independent professor, not affiliated with any political party, I can say that IUG is an academic institution which embraces a wide spectrum of political affinities. I see it as prestigious university which encourages liberalism and free thought. This personal point view might seem to be biased; therefore, I would invite anyone who would doubt about my assertions to browse IUG’s website and research its history. They would learn about its membership in various international academic institutions, the active role its professors play in scholarly research as well as prizes and research grants they have received.

Why would Israel bomb a university? Israel did not only target my university last night. It also bombed mosques, pharmacies and homes. In Jabaliya refugee camp Israeli bombs killed four little girls, sisters from the Balousha family. In Rafah they killed three brothers, aged 6, 12 and 14. They also killed a mother, along with her one-year-old child from the Kishko family in Gaza City.

These acts made me reflect on some of the commandments given by God to the “Chosen People:” Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. No one could be chosen by God to annex the land of other people and kill them. Israel made these ethical choices by itself. Israel itself chose to wage its wars to eliminate the indigenous people of Palestine.

Dr. Akram Habeeb is Assistant Professor of American Literature at the Islamic University of Gaza.

of course the zionist terrorist regime has long targeted palestinian universities (see my article on the academic boycott on the publications page if you would like to know more about this also see birzeit university’s right to education website for background on this). i know that perhaps for many palestinians here some sense of normalcy must be something that helps them get through the day; to say i find it challenging is an understatement at best.

i had to give final exams for two classes today–two sections of a conversation class. my students had watched the film amandla!: a revolution in four part harmony about south african apartheid and liberation. the film is not perfect, but it gives a picture of the various stages of resistance through music. the exam consisted of one-on-one conversations with me in my office in which students were asked to discuss similarities and differences related to what they saw in the film. without a doubt every single student saw one particular difference that they mentioned: they had unity in south africa and in palestine there is none. they also, of course, commented on how music is used as a form of resistance in both contexts, albeit in different ways. many of them talked about how on palestinian radio now we hear both lamentation and nationalistic songs in between broadcasts about gaza. but the one thing that no one mentioned, which i found rather shocking, was the scene of the film discussing the sharpeville massacre. given that many of them used this as a space to talk about the massacre in gaza i found it strange they forgot about this part of the movie. it is interesting, too, because i received an email from council for the national interest yesterday that made these connections between that massacre and the one in gaza last night:


IS Gaza another Sharpeville Massacre? Nearly fifty years ago, the South African regime attacked a crowd protesting the conditions in the Bantustan of Sharpeville and in a matter of minutes killed some 69 black South Africans. Eventually, after world reaction to this “incident,” sanctions were imposed and they led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.

Using American weapons, Israel has just indiscriminately killed more than four times that number in Gaza. In 1960 there were 20 million black South Africans and today there are only one and a half million Palestinians in Gaza. So the first two days of the American-supported Israeli attempt to wipe out Hamas is sixty times as criminal as the Sharpeville massacre.

No end to the violence is in sight, as a ground attack is threatened and may happen at any hour. Our CNIF team that recently visited the area had advance information about Israel’s intention to go into Gaza and wipe out the leadership of Hamas when we talked with General Ephraim Sneh six weeks ago. His statements in effect said: we Israelis know exactly how to do it and we will do it in spite of the cease fire that was then in effect. The only problem, he indicated, is that Israel (and by inference America) does not have an exit strategy. This was eerily reminiscent of our own generals in Vietnam and in Iraq.

What should the Obama administration’s policy be toward Israeli use of American weaponry against a civilian population? One can probably safely predict that it will not be to sanction Israel by denying her new American weapons. All the indications are that it will be more of the same under Obama. Years of talk and no action. We will try to train Palestinian police nominally under the control of the PLO to pacify Gaza and put down any insurrection in the West Bank. That did not work in 2007 and it will not work in 2009.

A whole new strategy is needed, even if limited to Israeli security and Palestinian self-governance as the only two concerns. Israel backed by America will not be able to eliminate Hamas from either Gaza or the West Bank with a few thousand policemen trained in Jordan. We are only delaying the day when Israel will have to withdraw militarily from Gaza and open the border to Egypt. It is almost too late for this now, with the looming Israeli elections in February. Meanwhile the residents of Gaza have been suffering inhumanely from the Israeeli blockade, even before the bombs were unleashed.

From talks we held with Hamas, and from talks Jimmy Carter held with some of the same people only a few months earlier, it is plain that Egypt can no longer be the only mediator between Hamas and the PLO which holds the key to ending the Gaza adventure by Israel.

There is no good military exit strategy for Israel or the United States in Gaza, only further chaos and enmity throughout the Muslim world if Israel goes in and tries to stay for another two or twenty years.

What is the matter with Gaza? Israel’s generals have once again pushed America and Israel into a no-win situation. Let us sit down and negotiate an American cease fire with whoever is able to end the long siege of Gaza and govern it successfully.

The United Nations General Assembly could be called into session and pass a “Uniting for Peace” resolution as it did in 1950 to confront the North Korean invasion of South Korea. It should call for peace keepers, not just observers, in Gaza. They could rapidly be re-deployed from the UN forces, now numbering close to 20 thousand, that are already on all of Israel’s borders, from Lebanon to Syria to the Sinai Task Force. Why not also on Gaza’s border with Israel to prevent violations by either side of a real cease fire?

That would avoid an almost certain veto by the U.S. in the Security Council of any UN involvement. After all, the United Nations were placed in charge of Gaza from 1957 to 1967. They can do it again.

Statement by the Council for the National Interest Foundation

meanwhile…as the world continues to do nothing, the free gaza movement tried to send a ship this morning to gaza filled with medicine and doctors. the israeli terrorist ships in the water rammed the boat and threatened them while opening fire on them, calling them terrorists. cnn actually had a report on it and has a video on their website. their press release, which i woke up to, read as follows:

On Tuesday, December 30, at 5 a.m., several Israeli gunboats intercepted the Dignity as she was heading on a mission of mercy to Gaza. One gunboat rammed into the boat on the port bow side, heavily damaging her. The reports from the passengers and journalists on board is that she is taking on water and appears to have engine problems. When attacked, the Dignity was clearly in international waters, 90 miles off the coast of Gaza.

The gunboats also fired their machine guns into the water in an attempt to stop the mercy ship from getting to Gaza.

As the boat limps toward Lebanon, passengers have been in contact with the Lebanese government who have said the captain has permission to dock and are willing lend assistance if needed. Cyprus sea rescue has also been in touch, and has offered assistance as well. The Dignity clearly flies the flag of Gibraltar, is piloted by an English captain and has a passenger manifest that includes Representative Cynthia McKinney from the U.S. The attack was filmed by the journalists, and the crew and passengers will report on Israel’s crime at sea once they arrive in Lebanon.

On board the boat are doctors traveling to this impoverished slice of the Mediterranean to provide badly-needed relief at the hospitals there. The crew and passengers were also hoping to take wounded out for treatment, since the hospitals are not coping. In addition, the Dignity was carrying 3 tons of medical supplies at the request of the doctors in Gaza.

The three physicians on board who were sailing to Gaza are: Dr. Halpin (UK), an experienced orthopedic surgeon, medical professor, and ship’s captain. He has organized humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza on several occasions with the Dove and Dolphin. He is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Mohamed Issa (Germany), a pediatric surgeon from Germany is traveling to Gaza to volunteer in hospitals and clinics. Dr. Elena Theoharous (Cyprus), MP Dr. Theoharous is a surgeon and a Member of the Cypriot Parliament. She is traveling to Gaza to assess the ongoing conflict, assist with humanitarian relief efforts, and volunteer in hospitals.

Yet Israel thumbs its nose in the face of maritime law by attacking a human rights boat in international waters and has put all of these human rights observers at risk. At no time was the Dignity ever close to Israeli waters. They clearly identified themselves and the Israeli attack was willful and criminal.

The Dignity is still in international waters, 40 miles off Haifa. Everybody on board is safe at the moment as the boat slowly makes its way to safety in Lebanon.

they have now arrived in sur, lebanon. they are safe, but the images of the damaged boat are striking. when i get pictures or video i will post it. the al jazeera coverage on arabic and english stations was good, but their print version is khara filled with bulls*&^ israeli terrorist lies and propaganda. and as they fired on the boat israeli terrorists used american weapons on 56 different places in gaza:

The Israeli Air Force continued its offensive against the Gaza Strip and shelled overnight and until morning hours of Tuesday 56 targets in different parts of the Gaza Strip. The targeted included Qassam training camps, homes, ambulances, mosques and medics.

The shelling also targeted the houses of Qassam Brigades leaders Abdul-Karim Al Shaer and Adnan Rayyan in Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and the house of Raed Sa’ad, a Qassam leader in Jabalia.

The army also shelled a sports club in Tal AL Hawa, a police station in Beit Hanoun, Bani Suheila City Council, blacksmith workshop in Gaza, and training grounds for the Al Qassam Brigades in northern Gaza, west of Gaza City and a third camp in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, soldiers shelled the mosque of Omar Bin Al Khattab Mosque in Al Bureij in the central Gaza Strip; this is the sixth mosque that gets directly targeted and shelled by the Israeli Air Force since Saturday.

Troops also shelled Al Khulafa’ Mosque, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, the governor’s office in northern Gaza, and several others targets that were shelled a number of times since the offensive was initiated.

Several attacks were carried out targeting the Ministries Compound in Tal Al Hawa in Gaza completely destroying it, and a military camp that was previously used by Force 17, loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Gaza death toll is has increased to more than 360 in less than four days; nearly 1700 Palestinians have been wounded

israeli terrorists also targeted young girls this morning who died:

Israeli shelling in the northern Strip killed two girls and a third civilian in the south Tuesday morning.

The girls, 4 and 11-year old sisters, were riding in a donkey-driven carriage on As-Sekka Street in Jabaliya. Medical sources said Israeli missiles made a direct hit on the carriage.

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.

to cut through the bulls*&^ propaganda pouring salt into the would by israeli terrorists and their american collaborators moustafa barghouti has an excellent and succinct analysis of these war crimes on palestine think tank:

What has and is occurring is nothing short of a war crime, yet the Israeli public relations machine is in full-swing, churning out lies by the minute.

Once and for all it is time to expose the myths that they have created.

1. Israelis have claimed to have ended the occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.

While Israel has indeed removed the settlements from the tiny coastal Strip, they have in no way ended the occupation. They remained in control of the borders, the airspace and the waterways of Gaza, and have carried out frequent raids and targeted assassinations since the disengagement.

Furthermore, since 2006 Israel has imposed a comprehensive siege on the Strip. For over two years, Gazans have lived on the edge of starvation and without the most basic necessities of human life, such as cooking or heating oil and basic medications. This siege has already caused a humanitarian catastrophe which has only been exacerbated by the dramatic increase in Israeli military aggression.

2. Israel claims that Hamas violated the cease-fire and pulled out of it unilaterally.

Hamas indeed respected their side of the ceasefire, except on those occasions early on when Israel carried out major offensives in the West Bank. In the last two months, the ceasefire broke down with Israelis killing several Palestinians and resulting in the response of Hamas. In other words, Hamas has not carried out an unprovoked attack throughout the period of the cease-fire.

Israel, however, did not live up to any of its obligations of ending the siege and allowing vital humanitarian aid to resume in Gaza. Rather than the average of 450 trucks per day being allowed across the border, on the best days, only eighty have been allowed in – with the border remaining hermetically sealed 70% of the time. Throughout the supposed ‘cease-fire’ Gazans have been forced to live like animals, with a total of 262 dying due to the inaccessibility of proper medical care.

Now after hundreds dead and counting, it is Israel who refuses to re-enter talks over a cease-fire. They are not intent on securing peace as they claim; it is more and more clear that they are seeking regime change – whatever the cost.

3. Israel claims to be pursuing peace with ‘peaceful Palestinians’.

Before the on-going massacre in the Gaza Strip, and throughout the entirety of the Annapolis Peace Process, Israel has continued and even intensified its occupation of the West Bank. In 2008, settlement expansion increased by a factor of 38, a further 4,950 Palestinians were arrested – mostly from the West Bank, and checkpoints rose from 521 to 699.

Furthermore, since the onset of the peace talks, Israel has killed 546 Palestinians, among them 76 children. These gruesome statistics are set to rise dramatically now, but previous Israeli transgressions should not be forgotten amidst this most recent horror.

Only this morning, Israel shot and killed a young peaceful protester in the West Bank village of Nihlin, and has injured dozens more over the last few hours. It is certain that they will continue to employ deadly force at non-violent demonstrations and we expect a sizable body count in the West Bank as a result. If Israel is in fact pursuing peace with ‘good Palestinians’, who are they talking about?

4. Israel is acting in self-defense.

It is difficult to claim self defense in a confrontation which they themselves have sparked, but they are doing it anyway. Self-defense is reactionary, while the actions of Israel over the last two days have been clearly premeditated. Not only did the Israeli press widely report the ongoing public relations campaign being undertaken by Israel to prepare Israeli and international public opinion for the attack, but Israel has also reportedly tried to convince the Palestinians that an attack was not coming by briefly opening crossings and reporting future meetings on the topic. They did so to insure that casualties would be maximized and that the citizens of Gaza would be unprepared for their impending slaughter.

It is also misleading to claim self-defense in a conflict with such an overwhelming asymmetry of power. Israel is the largest military force in the region, and the fifth largest in the world. Furthermore, they are the fourth largest exporter of arms and have a military industrial complex rivaling that of the United States. In other words, Israel has always had a comprehensive monopoly over the use of force, and much like its super power ally, Israel uses war as an advertising showcase of its many instruments of death.

5. Israel claims to have struck military targets only.

Even while image after image of dead and mutilated women and children flash across our televisions, Israel brazenly claims that their munitions expertly struck only military installations. We know this to be false as many other civilian sites have been hit by airstrikes including a hospital and mosque.

In the most densely populated area on the planet, tons upon tons of explosives have been dropped. The first estimates of injured are in the thousands. Israel will claim that these are merely ‘collateral damage’ or accidental deaths. The sheer ridiculousness and inhumanity of such a claim should sicken the world community.

6. Israel claims that it is attacking Hamas and not the Palestinian people.

First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying public ally, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas – whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.

The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel’s mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.

7. Israel claims that Palestinians are the source of violence.

Let us be clear and unequivocal. The occupation of Palestine since the War of 1967 has been and remains the root of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Violence can be ended with the occupation and the granting of Palestine’s national and human rights. Hamas does not control the West Bank and yet we remain occupied, our rights violated and our children killed.

With these myths understood, let us ponder the real reasons behind these airstrikes; what we find may be even more disgusting than the act itself.

and for those who want a reminder of the historical context for gaza, robert fisk contextualizes the irony of palestinian rockets falling on their own land in 1948 palestine:

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.

and the story continues. the cycle continues. i heard on al quds radio earlier today–from a friend in deheishe refugee camp who was listening to it–that 20 israeli terrorist jeeps entered nablus a couple of hours ago. i’ve talked to friends and no one has seen or heard anything, but things are definitely tightening up here in the west bank as barghouti discusses above. but we can hear the terrorist flying in the skies above–a constant reminder of their deadly presence.

there is a new petition to sign. please keep thinking, writing, reading about gaza.

the gaza graveyard

nidal el khairy
nidal el khairy

3 days. 345 dead. over 1,450 injured. the death toll continues to rise. and it will. medicine is running out quickly. rania posted this morning a message from the free gaza movement:

The Free Gaza movement is reporting: “Dr Khaled from the Shifa hospital ICU in Gaza City told us on Saturday that the majority of cases are critical shrapnel wounds from Israeli gunboats and helicopters, with an approximate 80% who will not survive.”

more recently there are reports that are even more devastating–and notice egypt’s complicity here, behaving just like zionists do by allowing just a trickle of medicine to barely help for a few hours:

According to Dr Hassunin hospitals in Gaza are operating without medical supplies of any kind, while three of the main hospitals have been badly damaged. The ambulance services are now operating at 50% capacity due to a lack of medical and personnel resources. The entire area is now being serviced by 5 ambulances and 3 fire brigades.

The small amount of medicine that Egypt allowed into Gaza lasted just a few hours.

last night watching sayyed hassan nasrallah i kept thinking about his statement comparing the july war of 2006 with the current war on gaza:

“What is happening today is a Palestinian copy of the July war,” Nasrallah said, drawing a comparison between the Israel Defense Forces offensive in the Gaza Strip and the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which Hezbollah waged against Israel in southern Lebanon.

“This is exactly what happened with us. The possibilities and the same possibilities, the conspiracy is the same, the battle is the same battle, and the result, Allah willing, will be the same result,” the Hezbollah leader told the crowd.

of course the images i see on tv look just like what i saw in south lebanon. in nahr el bared. but as rania beat me to the punch: it is not an exact copy; it is worse. during the july war people had places where they could flee: ships from foreign countries came to take lebanese (and foreigners) away, lebanese fled to syria, lebanese fled to other parts of the country (though there too nowhere was necessarily safe). but here we have people captured in a concentration camp of sorts. they cannot leave. the mediterranean sea is blocked by israeli terrorist naval ships. the egyptian army is shooting at palestinians fleeing in that direction. they are surrounded. in gaza. the gaza that has become a graveyard.

but it is the same in the sense that the zionist terrorists planned this war at least 6 months before they began it (see earlier post for link on this). but it is the same as the july war in the sense that the united states, surrounding arab regimes, the european union, the united nations, the media are all allowing this to continue. they blame hamas just as they blamed hezbollah in 2006. i’ve seen far too many motherf*&^%$# israeli terrorists on television the last three days reciting their mantra–which, of course, the palestinian authority and the egyptian government now recite in tandem–that it’s all about hamas. there were rockets fired today, again, from gaza. but who fired them? well, first the democratic front for the liberation of palestine (dflp), which is a leftist resistance organization fired rockets:

The National Resistance Brigades, the militant wing affiliated to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), fired four homemade projectiles at the Israeli towns of Kfar Azza and Ashkelon on Monday morning.

The group said in a statement that the shellings were “retaliation for Israeli atrocities in the Gaza Strip that have so far killed 300 and injured 1000.”

and yet the word hamas gets reiterated again and again. on the news. it is really like a mantra. i’m being subjected to tzipi livni again now on al jazeera. she is repeating the lies. mahmoud abbas repeats the lies. hosni mubarak repeats the lies. gaza is not hamas just as lebanon is not hezbollah. but in way both places the people have a right to resist foreign occupation and aggression from the zionist entity. egypt hit a new low this morning confirming that the mubarak regime is in deep collusion with the zionists:

The Egyptian Authorities officially barred a Libyan plane carrying aid to Gaza from landing in the al-Arish Airport in Egypt, in preparation to transfer humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Hannibal Al Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan President, Moammar Al Gaddafi, said in a phone interview with the Qatar-based aL-Jazeera, that Egypt is taking part in the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip by barring humanitarian aid from being transferred to Gaza via its border with the Gaza Strip.

He added that Egypt previously took part in barring an aid ship from reaching Gaza, which comes, according to Hannibal, in conspiracy with the Israeli occupation.

Hannibal added that Libya will send more ships even if his means that the ships “will be on a suicidal mission” as they will be most likely subjected to Israeli shelling.

today libya is stepping up to the plate. nasrallah stepped up to it last night. who will be next? who will do something to break the siege? to retaliate? who will stop zionist terrorism once and for all? hasn’t 60 years of this aggression been enough for everyone?

here is video footage of a pharmacy bombed in rafah yesterday compounding the effects of the devastation in gaza with respect to medical supplies:

as i went to sleep i watched the islamic university in gaza being bombed. as i woke up i watched a family destroyed in jabalia refugee camp:

Palestinian medical sources reported that the Israeli Army shelled the house of Anwar Ba’lousha, in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, killing five sisters, all children, while the rest of their family remain under the rubble, others were hospitalized.

The sources added that the daughters of Anwar Ba’lousha “are now at the morgue and under the rubble”.

Rescue teams and medics managed to locate the bodies of Sama, 4, and Samar, 24 months, and later on located the bodies of the three other sisters who remained unidentified until the time of this report.

you can see this family on al jazeera as well as the damage done to the islamic university as well as the conditions in the hospitals as well as livni getting yet more air time on al jazeera in spite of her protests to the contrary:

i thought about them as i rode in a service today to balata refugee camp. i happened to be going there at the same time that children were walking home from school. i saw little kids–around age 5 or 6–walking joyfully home, arm in arm, holding hands. i kept thinking about the various stories from the last few days of israeli terrorists striking schools right at the precise moment that children were walking home. while i was in balata we were, of course, watching the news. watching the devastation that continued throughout the day. we also watched a fight break out in the zionist colonialist knesset during which muhammad baraka, a palestinian in 1948 palestine, to be removed after being subjected to racist rhetoric from the mouths of bloodthirsty racist zionist leaders:

Tempers flared at Israel’s parliament building in Jerusalem on Monday as rightist members of the Knesset one after another made inciting statements against Palestinians.

In response, one of the few Palestinian members of the Knesset, Muhammad Baraka, began a heated argument with several of the rightists in the room, causing the parliament’s speaker to expel Baraka from the session.

Opposition leader Benjamin Natenyahu was the first to offend moderate elements in the room through his vocal support for an aggressive and “bloody” operation against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, applauding atrocities committed by the Israeli army there.

Baraka, unable to restrain himself, told Netanyahu to “shut up and stop dancing over shed blood.”

Immediately, another member Netanyahu’s Likud Party, Gilad Arden, told Baraka to “go to Gaza,” causing the latter to answer, “Of course I would go to show solidarity with my people.”

Another rightist member of the Knesset, Avigdor Liberman, said to Baraka, “Go there and don’t come back.” Baraka fired back, “I and my people will remain a thorn in your and your likes’ throat.”

Following that comment, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itsik ordered Baraka out of the session. On his way out, an extreme rightist Member of Knesset Ardan said to Baraka, “You are a racist.” Baraka replied, “you are a shoe.”

Following that comment, Knesset Member Auri Ariel told Baraka in a challenging manner, “Hit him with your shoe.” Baraka apparently started to oblige, removing his shoe, before Israeli Knesset security removed him from the building.

meanwhile the partner in crime to the zionist government, my government, the american government, which is as much responsible for these war crimes as is the egyptian government, is enabling this through its generous military donations as quiqui reported on kabobfest:

The Israel Air Force used a new bunker-buster missile that it received recently from the United States in strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday.

the american government’s complicity here is not just because of its substantive military support for the zionist terrorist entity. it is also because of its silence with respect to calling for an end to this massacre NOW. instead bush continues to support zionist terrorism and barack obama says “no comment.” those who know audre lorde know her famous statement about the relationship between violence and silence. and as act-up (the aids coalition to unleash power) famously says, silence = death. joshua frank has a piece about obama’s silence on dissident voice:

It was the single deadliest attack on Gaza in over 20 years and Obama’s initial reaction on what could be his first real test as president was “no comment”. Meanwhile, Israel has readied itself for a land invasion, amassing tanks along the border and calling up 6,500 reserve troops.

i, like rania, am so grateful that i did not vote for that khara. the woman i did vote for, cynthia mckinney, is on a boat right now that left from cyprus today for gaza. this is a courageous, moral woman (hence she didn’t get elected). here is the press release from the free gaza movement today:

There is a time when silence is complicity and inaction is unacceptable. On Saturday, December 27, Israel began Operation “Cast Lead,” a military onslaught against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip that has – so far – massacred more than three-hundred men, women, and children, and seriously injured over a thousand.

In response to Israeli butchery, the Free Gaza ship, the DIGNITY, will depart Larnaca Port at approximately 5pm (UTC), on Monday, December 29, bound for besieged Gaza. The ship is on an emergency mission carrying in physicians, human rights workers and over three tons of desperately needed medical supplies donated by the people of Cyprus. Coordinating with the
Gaza Ministry of Health, the doctors will be immediately posted to overburdened hospitals and clinics upon their arrival.

We are not asking Israel for “permission” to go, and we will not stop until the DIGNITY lands in Gaza. We are answering urgent calls from hospitals and health care workers in Gaza by taking in three physicians who will stay and work in Gaza for several weeks. We will hold Israel responsible for the safety of our passengers and our cargo of emergency medicine….

The passengers on this Free Gaza emergency delegation include:

* International humanitarian and human rights workers from Cyprus, Australia, Ireland, Great Britain, Tunisia, and the United States.

* Doctors going to Gaza to volunteer in local hospitals, including Dr. Elena Theoharous, surgeon and Member of Parliament from Cyprus.

* Journalists going to Gaza to report on the massacre, including Al-Jazeera reporter Sami al-Haj, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.

* The Hon. Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate.

the media complicity in all of this is also compounding the situation. by repeating zionist terrorist propaganda, giving them space, repeating their rhetoric. thankfully we have eyewitness accounts online to get some accurate account of what is actually happening. here is a new report from safa joudeh on electronic intifada:

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.

mohammad on kabobfest, who is from gaza but living in ramallah, writes harrowingly about how terrorism feels when your family and your people are subjected to it but you are living far away, when you are not allowed to return to be with them:

I called my uncles in Gaza at around midnight. By this time, I was still horrified, still enraged, but I’d begun to view the massacre exclusively through the lenses of news stations. The following three conversations destroyed any sense of distance I had felt. Through them, I experienced the indescribable terror I started this article with. I was left shaking, fearing for their lives. And I am 50 miles away.

I first called my uncle Jasim in Khan Younis. He was speaking more than yesterday, but his voice was very quiet. He was telling me about some of the those he knew who had been killed; a friend, a police officer, a former neighbor who had just lost his mother the week before. He told me about others, asking me to tell my dad about them because he knew them too. Earlier in the day, he said, he’d gone to the Rahma Mosque nearby to pray over their bodies as his dead friends were laid out in a line.

He said it was cold, there was no electricity and the strikes were ongoing and everywhere. Every other minute he’d pause, telling me another had just hit. He said everyone is more than afraid, there is an unspeakable terror. Nothing is sacred he said, there is nowhere you can feel safe. He told me people were too scared to even go pray in the mosques now. So far the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Beit Lahiya, the Shifa Mosque in Gaza City, the Qassam Mosque in Bani Suheila and the Imad Akel Mosque in Jabalya had been leveled by jets fired from F-16 jets, with people inside.

That last statement is what began to drag me into their terror; even places of worship were being deliberately targeted for destruction. In such an environment, how can anybody feel safe?

He told me the streets had been empty since sundown, but that the Qassam Brigades had imposed a curfew at 12. ‘They’re setting up, they know its coming’.

I next called my Uncle Mahmoud, who had lost his brother-in-law yesterday. I asked him if his wife was at her family’s house. He told me she was with him, as were her brothers. He told me it was too dangerous for their family to be in their home, as it is near the eastern border. Last year, Mahmoud’s wife had lost her uncle in that home when he was shot in the head by an Israeli force carrying out an incursion in the area. With everyone expecting a ground invasion soon, sitting in their home seemed suicidal.

He told me the Israeli army had been calling thousands of people with recorded messages warning them that their houses were targeted for destruction. He said it was psychological warfare and that he would not be leaving the house. Nevertheless, I am terrified the Israeli army will carry out its threat. I asked him how his kids were. He told me they had been grabbing on to him all day, screaming whenever he left the house. Mahmoud is probably the one who has suffered the most in our family at the hand of the Israelis, but this was the first time I had ever sensed fear from him. His voice was hollow, monotonous. He said everyone is sitting at home, waiting to die.

I told him I couldn’t think of a thing to say to him. What do you say to a father sitting amongst his young children, next to his wife and brothers in law mourning their brother, waiting for death?

My final call was to my uncle Mohammad, in Gaza City. After the first two calls, I could barely say anything, nothing I could think of seemed enough. I asked him how his wife’s family were. They’re okay, he said, same as everyone else. His kids were asleep; they’re absolutely terrified. Again, he had kept the windows fully open in his apartment despite the cold, fearing they would be blown out by an airstrike. His situation was, if possible, a little more difficult than my uncles in Khan Younis. Gaza City is unbelievably overcrowded, and more than any other town in the Gaza Strip it contains a high number of buildings and offices used by local authorities and civil society institutions. In other words, prime targets — and the residents of Gaza City — have borne the brunt of the attacks.

I asked him what he had done today. He told me he’d walked around, seeing some of the bombed sites. He said the scene in Al-Shifa Hospital was beyond belief; the wounded lying in the hallways, the doctors unable to keep up with the steady flow of bodies. The hospital has reserved all its units to treating what it can of the wounded. Every other unit had been cleared; even pregnant women were being turned back. As Jasim had done earlier, Mohammad directed his anger at Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

As we were talking, three huge booms interrupted us. Over the phone, I felt the fear they caused. I could tell they were very near his apartment. You could hear the window panes rattling. Their loudness shocked me; I’d heard how loud and how destructive an F-16 missile was, but this was the first time I’d heard one and it was terrifying, even over the phone. You could sense, from the way it shattered the quiet, how much destruction and death would be wrought by each missile. As the fourth missile hit 10 seconds later, I heard his children wake up screaming. He rushed to their room. ‘Its okay, its just another missile. Go to sleep Baba, its okay.’ I could hear the children-Nada, 13, Adham, 11, Haya, 4, and Dina, 3-whimpering as their dad tried to calm them down. ‘Its okay, go back to sleep, nothings going to happen to us, go back to sleep.’

A minute later the house phone and then his wife’s cell phone rang. Neighbors, wondering what was hit. I asked him if he could see anything, he said he couldn’t but the only thing around them that could need 4 missiles was the university [the Islamic University in Gaza]. As he said that another two deafening explosions were heard, shaking the entire building and shaking me to my core. The children began screaming again and as their dad rushed back to try and console them, I went to see the TV. It was as he’d thought: after attacking mosques, police stations, homes, factories, schools, medical depots, municipalities and prisons, Israel had destroyed part of the largest university in the Palestinian territories. Truly, nothing was sacred any more. In the 1980’s, Israel had closed down every single school and university in the occupied territories. In 2008, it is destroying them.

Hearing Jasim talk of his dead friends was horrific; hearing Mahmoud waiting for death made me feel lifeless in my helplessness; but hearing the explosions, the world shaking, the children waking up screaming, hearing the source of all this fear and death and carnage and destruction, the source of all this pure terror, left me shaking, left me angry beyond rage, left me scared for my family beyond fear.

It has been three hours since that conversation and I have been glued to the TV. For about an hour, the warplanes did not leave the skies and you could hear them through the live feed, hear them before they launched another missile that shook the city then lit it up for a second. The airstrikes are continuous, they do not stop. Since that conversation, another mosque was destroyed in Jabalya, the debris killing four young sisters as they slept in an adjacent house. For the past half hour local TV has been replaying the images of the girls being pulled out, limp and gray faced from under several feet of rubble.

Israeli warships have attacked Gaza City’s fishermen’s port, the one where the Free Gaza boats dock. Boats are burning in the water, while a home and a fire station were amongst the targets also hit.

It is almost 4AM and in Ramallah I can’t sleep. I’m not sure how anybody is sleeping in Gaza. This will not end soon. The sheer numbers of dead, the sheer variety of targets, the intention to instill terror into every single person inside Gaza indicates that Israel is planning to only escalate until it destroys the population and any sign of Palestinian nationalism.

and so we wait, we stay up late, we watch the news, we talk to our friends, we write. and we watch more of the same. stunned by the horror. and yet not. both as’ad and rami seem to be unmoved by nasrallah’s speech last night. maybe it is just more words, more rhetoric. but it contains words not heard elsewhere. words that at the very least gave people here hope. hope that sayyed hassan nasrallah would do something. or hope that egyptians would follow his requests. but rania feels otherwise and shows exactly why nasrallah’s speech is important (albeit she isn’t talking about it here) but with respect to the normalization of arab regimes with the zionist entity and it affecting the impotence here:

I don’t understand

I don’t understand any request for an Arab League summit. Let’s put our efforts elsewhere.

I don’t understand the Arab League itself. I don’t understand the Egyptian government that is openly collaborating with the Israeli Zionist government.

Or The Jordanan government. The Qatari. The Saudi. Any of the Arab governments that have economic and/or diplomatic relations with Israel.

I never expected humanity from Israel. But I hadn’t ever expected such open collaboration between Arab governments — particularly the Egyptian government — and Israel.

The border between besieged Gaza and collaborating Egypt is still closed. Closed by Mubarak. Closed by all the men who follow his orders and not their conscience.

There is no need for such collaboration. Even for a draconian, corrupt, dictatorial regime like Mubarak’s, there is no reason for such collaboration.

There is only shame.

unfortunately there is far too much shame to go around. shame on everyone and anyone. there is a gaza graveyard. one massive prison has become one massive graveyard. and it is on all of us who sit back and do nothing, especially every motherf(*&^%$ government on the planet right now which has done nothing but demonstrate its complicity through its support of zionist terrorism and/or its silence.

i ask you: if gaza were a graveyard of jews do you really think that the world would be so silent?