Saturday, March 22, 2008

 

Leading to War

http://www.leadingtowar.com/

A website chronicling how Bush Administration led the American people into war.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

 

Grisly "Proof" of Life for Captives of Insurgents

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Friday, March 07, 2008

 

The Flip Side of the Coin

See next 4 posts.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

 

Gaza conditions 'at 40-year low'

** Gaza conditions 'at 40-year low' **
Gaza's humanitarian situation is at its worst since Israel occupied the territory in 1967, say human rights groups.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7280026.stm >

Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 09:15 GMT
Gaza conditions 'at 40-year low'
Israel tank guards crossing into Gaza
The groups say a battered, starved Gaza cannot be a peace partner

Gaza's humanitarian situation is at its worst since Israel occupied the territory in 1967, say UK-based human rights and development groups.

They include Amnesty International, Save the Children, Cafod, Care International and Christian Aid.

They criticise Israel's blockade on Gaza as illegal collective punishment which fails to deliver security.

Israel says its military action and other measures are lawful and needed to stop rocket attacks from Gaza.

Israel pulled its troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, but retains control over Gaza's airspace and coastline, and over its own border with the territory.

It tightened its blockade in January amid a surge in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Israel's Defence Ministry rejected the criticism in the report, blaming the Hamas militant group which controls Gaza.

"The main responsibility for events in Gaza is the Hamas organisation, to which all complaints should be addressed," a statement read.

'Disaster'

The groups' report, Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion, says the blockade has dramatically worsened levels of poverty and unemployment, and has led to deterioration in education and health services.

GAZA REPORT
More than 80% of population rely on humanitarian aid
Unemployment about 40%
No running water for 25-30% of Gazans

More than 1.1 million Gazans are dependent on food aid and of 110,000 workers previously employed in the private sector, 75,000 have now lost their jobs, the report says.

"Unless the blockade ends now, it will be impossible to pull Gaza back from the brink of this disaster and any hopes for peace in the region will be dashed," said Geoffrey Dennis, of Care International UK.

Last week Israeli forces launched a bloody and destructive raid in northern Gaza, in which more than 120 Palestinians - including many civilians - were killed.

Israel says the measures are designed to stamp out frequent rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

Recent rocket attacks have hit deeper into southern Israel, reaching Ashkelon, the closest large Israeli city to the Gaza Strip.

Occupying power

The UK-based groups agree that Israel has the right and obligation to protect its citizens, urging both sides to cease unlawful attacks on civilians.

Israel tank guards crossing into Gaza

But they call upon Israel to comply with its obligations, as the occupying power in Gaza, to ensure its inhabitants have access to food, clean water, electricity and medical care, which have been in short supply in the strip.

"Punishing the entire Gazan population by denying them these basic human rights is utterly indefensible," said Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen.

"The current situation is man-made and must be reversed."

Other recommendations from the groups include international engagement with the Hamas movement, which rejects Israel's legitimacy and has been shunned by Israel's allies, and the Fatah party of Palestinian West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas.

"Gaza cannot become a partner for peace unless Israel, Fatah and the Quartet [the US and UN, Europe and Russia] engage with Hamas and give the people of Gaza a future," said Daleep Mukarji of Christian Aid.


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Profile: Gaza Strip

** Profile: Gaza Strip **
A profile of the Gaza Strip, including its main population centres, refugee camps and border crossings.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5122404.stm

Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 09:47 GMT

Profile: Gaza Strip
Gaza City
Gaza City is the Strip's main administrative and commercial hub

The Gaza Strip is a narrow piece of land along the Mediterranean coast between Israel and Egypt.

Just 40km (25 miles) long and 10km wide, it is home to more than 1.4m Palestinians.

The shape of the territory was defined by the Armistice Line following the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent war between the Israeli and Arab armies.

Egypt administered the Strip for the next 19 years, but Israel captured it during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and Gaza has been under Israeli control since then.

In 2005, Israel pulled out the troops occupying Gaza, along with thousands of Jews who had settled in the territory. As far as Israel was concerned that was the end of the occupation.

However, that has not been accepted internationally as Israel still exercises control over most of Gaza's land borders, as well as its territorial waters and airspace.

POPULATION CENTRES

Gaza City is the Strip's biggest population centre and has about 400,000 inhabitants.

As in other towns in Gaza, there are high levels of poverty, deprivation and unemployment in Gaza City. It has been the scene of frequent deadly clashes between gunmen from the rival Hamas and Fatah factions.

Air strikes by Israel targeting militants in the densely populated city often kill bystanders as well.

Gaza's other two main population centres are Khan Younis (population 200,000) in central Gaza and Rafah (population 150,000) in the south.

Israel's blockade and international isolation have left them both in a dire economic situation.

REFUGEE CAMPS

Rafah refugee camp
Some refugee camps lack basic amenities
The majority of Gaza's residents are from refugee families which fled or were expelled from the land that became Israel in 1948. Most Gazans live in eight refugee camps to which the United Nations delivers health, education and other humanitarian services.

Some of the camps have merged with nearby towns, while others such as Nuseirat and Bureij are self-contained.

The influx of refugees into the narrow strip of land means it now has one of the highest population densities on earth. About 20% of refugee dwellings are not connected to the sewage system and waste water flows in open channels along roads.

The latest UN figures for the camp populations are: Jabaliya (106,691), Rafah (95,187), Shati (78,768), Nuseirat (57,120), Khan Younis (63,219), Bureij (28,770), Maghazi (22,266), Deir el-Balah (19,534).

BORDERS

An Israeli-built metal fence separates Israel and the Gaza Strip. Along the border are several heavily fortified border crossings for people and goods. They are heavily guarded by Israeli forces and the frequent target of Palestinian militant attacks.

After the 2005 pullout, Israel wanted to keep control of Gaza's border with Egypt, known as the Philadelphi Route, to control traffic and prevent smuggling.

However, it was obliged by international pressure to abandon the plan and it handed over responsibility for the border to Egypt.

Palestinian forces, monitored by European Union officials, are stationed at the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. Under a deal brokered by the US, Israel uses video surveillance at Rafah, but cannot stop people crossing.

ENTRY/EXIT POINTS

Sufa crossing
Israel controls crossings into Gaza from its territories
Rafah crossing is Gaza's sole contact with the outside world not under direct Israeli control. It is open to pedestrians and can be used to export goods, but imports are not allowed.

Officially goods can enter from Egypt by the Kerem Shalom crossing and from Israel via the Sufa and Karni crossings, both of which are controlled by the Israeli army.

These crossings have been closed almost all of the time in since Hamas took over Gaza.

This has led to shortages of basic humanitarian supplies and severely hampered Gaza's main exports - perishable goods such as fruit and cut flowers.

The main passenger crossing point into Israel, Erez in the north, has been closed to Palestinians for long periods, preventing labourers from working in Israel, though internationals and emergency medical cases are allowed to cross.

In the late 1990s, the Palestinians were allowed to open their own airport in the Gaza Strip, but this has been put out of use by Israeli attacks since the 2000 intifada.

Israel agreed in principle to the opening of a seaport for Gaza and to allow bus connections with the West Bank in a US-brokered deal in November 2005. But both moves are yet to be implemented.

MILITANT ACTIVITY

Gaza is one of the strongholds of the Palestinian militant organisation Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in January 2006.

Other groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee have a strong presence in the Strip. In June 2007, Fatah was routed in Gaza along with the Fatah affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Palestinian supporter of Hamas militant organisation
Militant groups control the streets in much of the Gaza Strip
Despite Gaza's isolation, militants have continued to attack Israeli interests from the Strip since the 2005 pull-out.

The main vehicle of resistance, as the militants describe it, is the firing of short-range homemade rockets which can reach nearby Israeli population centres, such as Sderot, less than a kilometre from Gaza's north-east corner.

These have caused a handful of deaths and injuries, and severe disruption for Israelis living within range.

Israeli shelling and missile attacks, meanwhile, which Israel says are meant to stop the rocket fire, have killed large numbers of Gazans, including many civilians.


Gaza map


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Gazans angry and unbowed

** Gazans angry and unbowed **
As Israel continues its assault on Gaza, the BBC's Martin Patience in Gaza City finds Palestinians there defiant.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7273821.stm >


Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 15:03 GMT
Gazans angry and unbowed
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Gaza

Palestinians at funeral of five people killed in Jabaliya
Scores of Palestinians have been killed in the past few days
The black marks on the roads leading into Gaza City were an indication of the earlier bloodshed.

Palestinians had dragged tyres onto the road and set them alight.

They hoped that the smokescreen would stop Israeli drones and Apache helicopters - both armed with rockets - from hitting their targets. But it was a futile gesture.

On Saturday, at least 60 Palestinians were killed in one of the bloodiest days of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in years.

The death toll from Israeli air strikes included at least 25 civilians, including nine children and three women.

The other fatalities were Palestinian militants - the majority of them from Hamas, the Islamic movement which controls Gaza.

'Hysterical' action

Israeli officials say that the military operation was designed to stop the frequent rocket fire from Gaza into towns in southern Israel. Since 2000, 13 Israelis have been killed by these rockets. [WA: I will not negate the value of these 13 Israelis killed in the past EIGHT years. They were human beings, dear to their families and communities. The Israelis killed SIXTY Palestinians in ONE NIGHT! How many Palestinian dead from Israeli attacks in the past eight years? How many dead from malnutrition or starvation caused by the Israeli blockade? How many dead from injuries or disease because of the blockade and Israel interfering with humanitarian aid? How MUCH MORE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS, ISRAEL? YOU ARE NO BETTER, NO DIFFERENT THAN THE NAZIS WHO SLAUGHTERED YOUR PEOPLE! ]

Personally, I don't agree with Palestinians firing rockets into Israel - but if you push people into the corner they are going to fight back
Ahmed Burai
Relative of victim
In Gaza today, the streets played host to funeral processions. Speakers stacked on minivans blasted out verses from the Koran as hundreds of mourners trailed behind the vehicles.

One of the recent victims was a six-month-old baby boy killed when a roof collapsed on top of him.

A family relative, Ahmed Burai, 27, said the baby's mother found out her son was dead when she heard it announced on the radio.

He accused Israel of acting "hysterically" over the rocket attacks from Gaza and said that its military operation could prove counterproductive.

"They are launching all these attacks that are killing civilians," said Mr Burai. "Personally, I don't agree with Palestinians firing rockets into Israel.

"But if you push people into the corner they are going to fight back."

For many Gazans, the violence is the latest example of Israeli punishment for their support of Hamas[WA: their LEGALLY elected government who refuses to be an Israeli/U.S. puppet].

The Islamic movement won the parliamentary elections in 2006, after which the Palestinian Authority was subjected to an economic embargo by the international community because of Hamas' refusal to recognise Israel.

'Let Hamas govern'

Hamas, whose stronghold is Gaza, calls for the destruction of Israel and the return of Palestinian refugees who left or were forced to leave their homes during the creation of Israel in 1948.

They need to be given a chance, they need to breathe - if you give Hamas a political opportunity then it will only moderate the movement
Ahmed Abdullah
Retired headmaster
It is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the European Union and the US. [WA: Others consider them freedom fighters struggling with inferior weapons to protect their people and nation from Israel's cruel domination.]

Following the Hamas takeover of Gaza last summer, the embargo has been intensified and this coastal territory has been largely shut off from the outside world.

Israel, which controls most of Gaza's borders, only allows essential goods - such as medicine and basic foodstuffs - to enter the territory.[WA: When it suits them. Often they cut off this aid] Almost none of Gaza's 1.5 million citizens are allowed to leave.

Ahmed Abdullah, 61, a retired headmaster, says he spent the last two days terrified in his home as fighting raged round him.

He had no candles or batteries - the economic boycott has led to widespread shortages - and following an electrical power cut sat in the dark unable to obtain information from his radio about the fighting.

Mr Abdullah says the only way to stop the violence is to allow to Hamas govern.

"We voted democratically and we're punished for our choice," he said.

"They need to be given a chance, they need to breathe. If you give Hamas a political opportunity then it will only moderate the movement."

Ceasefire offer

The rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel are carried out by Hamas members as well as other Palestinian militant groups.

Palestinian try to form human chain in protest at blockade - photo 25 February
Gazans are desperate to end Israel's blockade
In the past, Hamas leaders have spoken of a possible ceasefire, but Israeli officials reject these moves as a ploy. [WA: Israel rejects anything except total capitulation. Israel WANTS the Gaza strip and continuing a practise of playing the victim of terrorists wins them international support.]

In any agreement, Hamas would want the embargo on the territory lifted as well. [WA: the embargo MUST be lifted if the Gazans are to survive as a people and as a nation.]

Palestinian analysts believe that this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. [WA: Ofcourse not. Israel will not surrender its power and control over the Palestinians and Gaza Strip.]

Some believe the Israeli attacks on Hamas are part of a broader plan to crush the organisation.

"What we see here is a war against Hamas," said Eyad Sarraj, a political analyst.

"Israel wants to destroy the movement as they tried to do against Hezbollah in Lebanon a year-and-a-half ago."

For now, people in Gaza are burying their dead in what appears to be a lull in the fighting.

But most Gazans expect yet more funerals in the coming days. [WA: Count on it. Scores more.]

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The Middle East's asymmetric war

worried american saw this story on the BBC News website and thought you
should see it.

** Message **
file to this is war

** The Middle East's asymmetric war **
If Hamas rocket-fire continues, argues Jeremy Bowen, expect more military action once the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves Jerusalem.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7276138.stm >

Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 22:53 GMT

The Middle East's asymmetric war
By Jeremy Bowen
BBC Middle East editor

Palestinians at funeral of five people killed in Jabaliya
Hamas says Israel's offensive in Gaza was a massacre

Before the Israelis started scaling back their operation in Gaza, one of their officials told the BBC that after what he called the "current round" they wanted to leave no perception that Hamas had come out on top.

As soon as Israel said it was pulling its troops back, Hamas held a victory rally in Gaza.

The Hamas claim was not unexpected. The violence in the last week has been about sending political messages, as much as it has been about changing the military balance.

Hamas wants its people to know that nothing will stop it resisting Israel.

Israel would like to stop the rocket fire that has been hitting its border towns since it ended its permanent military presence in Gaza in 2005.

But almost constant raids - and several big offensives - have not been able to do the job.

That is why the Israeli government has so far resisted strong domestic pressure from its political opponents for a much more far-reaching - and bloody - offensive.

So instead it wants to show its people that attacks will not go unanswered - and to try to win an argument around the world that it is only reacting as any country under fire would do.

Rice in talks

It looks as if the United States now believes that Israel has made its point, and that it should stop before any more damage is done to the peace talks that it is sponsoring between Israel and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his team.

The Palestinian side suspended them over the weekend, in protest at what one senior negotiator told the BBC were massacres in Gaza.

Secretary Rice must know that the talks will not produce anything if there is a war in Gaza.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in Jerusalem on Tuesday. She wants the talks to restart.

But the last few days have shown how vulnerable those talks are to events - especially when Hamas in Gaza, who are boycotted by Israel and the big western countries, have no interest in seeing them succeed.

Ms Rice, who is committed to trying to realise George Bush's "vision" of a comprehensive peace deal by the end of the year, must know that the talks will not produce anything if there is a war in Gaza.

The best way to understand the violence that is washing back and forth between Gaza and Israel is to go back to first principles.

It is the latest episode in a conflict that has lasted about a century. It started because two different peoples wanted one piece of land.

They are still working their way through the consequences of that single fact.

Absolute rights

When you take the long view you realise how hard it will be to stop the killing.

Never leaving an attack unanswered is a basic instinct in a state whose founders believed that they had abandoned centuries of Jewish weakness when they left Europe to build something new and strong in the land of Israel.

An Israeli student crouches under a table, as soldiers instruct them on how to protect themselves in the event of a rocket attack, in Ashkelon
Israel believes it is in the front line of a conflict between the western world and Islamic militants, led by Iran.

The Palestinians of Hamas, who run things inside the Gaza strip, say that their right to resist, to defend their people, is absolute.

They believe that their rivals in Fatah, the other main Palestinian faction, were ready to sell their birthright in negotiations with Israel that amounted to surrender. They say that they will not make the same mistake.

What is going on between the Palestinian rocket squads in Gaza and the Israeli army is a classic fight between the strong and the weak - which is known these days as asymmetric warfare.

The thing about it is that the weaker side can exert leverage far beyond the power of its weapons.

That accounts for some of the rage and frustration in Israel's defence establishment.

They are big, they are strong, and they have some of the most sophisticated weapons systems in the world. And they are struggling to stop rockets that are the lowest of low tech.

That is probably why Israeli deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai used the word holocaust last week to describe what would happen to the Palestinians if the rocket fire intensified.

His spin-doctor moved fast to say that the deputy minister, a retired major general, did not mean genocide. [ Oh no? Eradicating the Arabs is highly desirable, just as the Nazis found it highly desirable to eradicate the Jews. See: http://this-is-war.blogspot.com/2006/09/israels-foes-as-beasts-and-insects.html ]

Iranian rockets?

There are people inside Hamas who listen to Israel's threats and in the unfortunate phrase used by President Bush about Iraq, say "Bring it on".

The religious warriors of Hamas do not fear death, and believe they can do some damage.

What upped the stakes in the last week was the death of an Israeli in Sderot, the battered Israeli border town. [ONE Israeli? A tragedy, of course. Compared to how many Gazans' deaths from the Israelis?]

It was also the fact that Hamas showed it could rocket Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people.

The Israelis say that the longer-range rockets came from Iran, which for them makes matters even worse. [WA: So? Much of the Israeli's sophisticated weaponry comes from the U.S.]

Israel believes it is in the front line of a conflict between the western world and Islamic militants, led by Iran. [ WA: Israeli/ Palestinian conflict is the front line of a desperate people trying to escape the brutal hobnail boots that is choking and crushing them to death as a people and as a nation]

So if Ashkelon keeps getting hit, even though few Israelis believe it's a perfect solution, expect more military action once the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves town.

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Tit for Tat and the Beat (and Slaughter) Goes On-and-On-and On

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080306/wl_time/deathcomesforisraelsseminarians

Death Comes for Israel's Seminarians

By TIM MCGIRK AND AARON J. KLEIN/JERUSALEM Thu Mar 6, 5:55 PM ET

Neighbors of the Mercaz Harav seminary in Jerusalem at first thought the noise was the popping of firecrackers for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Purim. But it was gunfire and, in fact, the deadliest terror attack in the city in the last four years.

A Palestinian armed with a semi-automatic rifle opened fire on a dining room full of Jewish religious students on Thursday night, killing eight and wounding eight others. Police officials say that the unnamed assailant, believed to be from Jbel Mukabar village in East Jerusalem, arrived at the seminary carrying a large box. Police told TIME that the terrorist walked into the unguarded seminary, up two flights of stairs to the library, where hundreds of male students, many of them teenagers, were having a celebratory feast. The intruder then pulled his weapon out of the box and began spraying the room with bullets. Eyewitnesses told police that students tried hiding under tables and behind bookshelves. But as the students began to scatter, he hunted them down, killing each victim, one by one, with shots to the head at close range.

Police say that, finally, a reserve paratrooper living next to the seminary and two detectives burst into the library and shot the attacker dead. "The terrorist came to the entrance and I shot him twice in the head," the paratrooper reportedly said. By late Thursday evening, no Palestinian militant group had yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

In Gaza, news of the seminary killing was greeted with celebratory gunfire, cars honking their horns, and people passing out candy in the streets. Sami Abu Zuheri, a spokesman for the Hamas militant group, said: "This martyr attack was in response to the Israeli assault on Gaza." Last week, more than 110 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli offensive aimed at stopping militants from firing rockets into southern Israel. Three Israelis also died during the fighting.

Unlike most Palestinian terrorist attacks, intended to cause the highest number of casualties, usually in cafes or bus stations, Thursday's attacker chose a highly symbolic target. Mercaz Harav seminary is the birthplace of the Jewish religious nationalist movement, which is behind the push to build Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Now, one senior police officer told TIME, there is concern that some bands of armed settlers may take revenge against nearby Arab villages.

The same source said that on Thursday night, Israeli police received a credible tip that a Palestinian suicide bomber, possibly from Islamic Jihad, was trying to enter Jerusalem, and were frantically searching for him, mounting checkpoints on the roads in from Bethlehem. But police are not sure if the would-be suicide bomber was connected to the seminary rampage.

Israeli authorities are waiting for more evidence before determining whether the seminary attacker was acting alone or, more likely, was dispatched by a militant group on a suicide mission. One police official told TIME that "based on the kind of weapons he was carrying, we think he was part of a terrorist cell and that it was a well-organized attack." In either case, it is doubtful that Israel will let these killings go unpunished, which will have the consequence of sending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into yet another downward spiral. Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert condemned the seminary massacre. To avoid riots in Jerusalem, police have banned all Muslim worshippers under the age of 45 from attending the Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.

The fate of the U.S. sponsored peace initiative, which aimed to give the Palestinians an independent state by the end of this year, had already been de-railed by the fighting in Gaza, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had flown to Israel to try to jump-start the process, returned to Washington with only the vague promise that Palestinians might resume talks with the Israelis, nothing more. Now, after the Jerusalem killings, peace prospects look even dimmer.With reporting by Jamil Hamad/Bethlehem

** In pictures: Israel seminary attack **
Pictures of the aftermath of a shooting attack at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, which has left seven people dead. Slide Show
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/in_pictures/7282453.stm >

** Grim mood outside the seminary **

Students and residents of Jerusalem say they expected an attack like the one at the Jewish seminary.
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7282579.stm >



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THIS IS WAR !

THIS IS WAR !

Baby Killed in US Raid on Home. Following a "tip" that insurgents were in home, US forces attacked the home, in which adults and 5 children were killed. No evidence of insurgents was found.


THE TITLE OF THIS BLOG IS "THIS IS WAR", AND ITS PURPOSE IS TO BRING TO THE ATTENTION OF THE PUBLIC THE CRUEL VICIOUSNESS AND DESTRUCTION OF WAR.

THIS BLOG DEALS WITH WAR PRIMARILY FROM THE ARAB EXPERIENCE, ALTHOUGH OTHER NATIONS WILL BE PRESENTED ALSO. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO INDICATE A BIAS AGAINST OR FOR ANY NATION.This blogger is pro-humanity and anti-war.

This blog presents the inhumanity of war.There will be fewer posts re: the Israeli involvement and their position. The Israelis, like the U.S., allows few photos of their wounded or dead to be published. The media, partial to the shock value of atrocities, concentrates more on the Arab death and destruction, so fewer sites are found regarding the Israelis in Lebanon or the US in Iraq.

A blog presenting the American and Coalition experience may be found at http://imperial-sacrifices.blogspot.com/

This blog is not a pleasant one. It isn't meant to be. Some sites contain **graphic, ** horrific photos.

THIS IS WAR !L

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

 

Gazan Holocaust

From Counterpunch

http://www.counterpunch.org/loewenstein03042008.html

March 3, 2008

The Day the Earth and Sky Traded Places

Gazan Holocaust

By JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN

Around 10:30pm on the night of February 28, M and his wife S spoke in low tones in a dark room dimly lit by a battery-operated lamp. They were trying to decide if it was still safe to send their children to school and decided in favor because the elementary school building is in a safer part of the city near a number of international offices. The electricity in the building had been out 10 hours by then and the couple pulled blankets around them to keep warm in the damp winter air. They live on the 6th floor of Shifa Tower, an 11-story apartment building housing more than a hundred families.

When the blast occurred that took out the Interior Ministry building across the street, there was no time to think about what to do. M flew into his children's bedroom and threw himself over the sleeping body of his son, Basel, to shield the young boy's body from the glass shattering in the windows beside his bed. Then after a matter of seconds the three young children, two girls and the boy, were taken to the windowless kitchen, all of them now fully awake and crying out in terror. M threw blankets and pillows around them where they huddled for the night in restless sleep and dreams of horror, their mother sobbing silently over them as she caressed their faces.

M returned to the children's room in time for the second deafening blast that made him put up his arms instinctively. When he let them down and looked out into the night sky, it was all brown, the earth from underneath the destroyed buildings was swirling around outside the bedroom windows and he could see nothing but flying debris, smoke and a wall of dirt. For some time he could not hear well, only watch-dazed- hypnotized by the silence after the aerial strikes.

In the morning, no one went outside. "This is a black day in Gaza," M wrote; "a holocaust as (Israeli deputy defense minister Matan) Vilnai put it. There is an attack every five or ten minutes. It keeps our nerves on edge and our senses strained. There is so much rage at what is happening; especially the scenes of murdered children and babies. I am so busy I don't know how to describe my feelings. I work to avoid feeling because right now that's too unbearable."

Watch as A, a Hamas soldier, runs for his life into his house. His pursuers miss shooting him so they launch three rockets into the house on the edge of Jabalya camp killing everyone inside (four family members). They are angry now so every house in the way gets the same treatment and without the "militant" to guide their next moves: rockets fired into the interiors of homes with no knowledge of who is inside. Eye-witnesses report this and worse: a six month old baby girl becomes tiny body parts with her mother and brother. A small child is cut apart by shrapnel and screams that she doesn't want to die just before leaving this world. The mothers and fathers cannot protect them so they weep and scream at the funerals that this side of the world never views, especially during basketball season.

Who really cares about these children? Every Palestinian is a militant because everyone (sooner or later) wants Israel off their land, out of their lives, and forgotten like a horrible dream. It is for this reason that they are all equal targets: none of them is intelligent enough to understand that their land isn't their land, their lives are not their lives, and their horrible dream is their present and future. Have no pity on those who don't get it.

The night strikes from F-16s and helicopter missiles continued throughout the day on Friday the 29 and into the first weekend in March, unceasing in their ferocity and indiscriminate killing ­ revenge for the death early last week of an Israeli student at Sapir College outside Sderot. For every one Israeli life, scores of Palestinians must die. God help us now that two Israeli soldiers have been killed fighting on occupied land, against unwilling slaves; killing innocent people to maintain a 60-year-old injustice. Brace yourself, Gaza. You will pay dearly for the continuation of this crime.

Let us not reflect too much on what all this means. How, for example, would the 47-year-old Sapir College student like to know that his death has been far more useful to his State than his life? For in death he provided another pretext to carry out mass murder of the Arab Untermenschen blocking the otherwise pleasant view to the sea in the southeastern Promised Land. His death challenged the Israeli rules of combat: the "We kill and You Die" warfare, the only type allowed by the Neo-Jewish Masters and their allies in the United States who have no intention of making a just peace with the lower forms of life in their midst. The sanctimonious demand that the Qassams must be stopped is a deliberate lie intended to make you forget that the Qassams provide a near fool-proof pretext for grabbing more of Gaza and setting more of it to ruin; and that the Qassams are the result of systematic national torture and evisceration, borne themselves of occupation, caused by it, improved upon by periods of siege, sadism and mass killing.

Peace would require relinquishing regional hegemony. Peace would demand sharing the land and the resources equally. Peace might, heaven forbid, require democratic decision making in a region where the Israelis are not better, more entitled, more deserving of Their Way than everyone else in the neighborhood. Well, sorry, but these are not on Israel's agenda. The leaders of the hapless Sderot student's racially pure dreamland are grateful for his dying: Now the angry flames of intolerance can burn on feverishly. Into those flames the bodies of each dead Gazan man, woman or child should be flung, like books, to consecrate the ritual, the burnt offering, of those who owe the latter-day Israelites their Modern Day Zion. In Holy Victimhood shall We Reign Supreme.

Surely this would satisfy Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit who bellowed that if it were up to him, Israeli soldiers going into Gaza should shoot "everything that moves" ­like babies and toddlers, grandfathers and mothers, orange trees and wasted-away donkeys pulling cartloads of rotten vegetables; like flowers and seabirds, chickens and goats, rats and cockroaches. A scorched-earth policy will suffice. They'll create their apocalyptic wilderness and will call it peace.

No one needed Sheetrit to legitimize the strategy of creating oblivion from hell. Untermenschen who can be denied food, water, fuel, electricity, medical supplies, the right to leave and return home, the right to not to die in an ambulance that without the proper permits, the right to their own land and their own nationhood precisely because they are lesser human beings can also be picked off one by one or in groups or in families or because they are "militants," or all of the above, who deserve no fair hearing, due process, photographs, names, headlines, stories, grief or televised tear-jerker funerals to commemorate their sacrifices. In such a world contexts are an insult to the intelligence of the policy-makers.

Plea after plea from human rights organizations, legal organizations, religious charities and leaders, children's welfare organizations, medical aid projects, refugee relief societies, international humanitarian agencies, celebrities, parliamentarians, foreign policy analysts and countless others go not only unheeded but unread, unheard, a waste of one's time. Is there a reason why the carnage in Gaza is continuing before our very eyes and no State or Non-state actor strong enough to make a difference is bothering to step in? The shame is ours, for Israel and its US Master have long since resided in the lowest circle of Hell for betraying the name of humanity.

Jennifer Loewenstein is the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the board of the Israeli Coalition against House Demolitions-USA branch, founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and a freelance journalist. She can be reached at: amadea311@earthlink.net


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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

 

Venezuela-Colombia; South America Brink of War

The Next Killing Fields for U.S. Troops? Bush has been itching to steal Venezuela's oil for years and plotting how to do it. Is this the excuse he's been waiting for? He and Chavez have been exchanging barbs, each denigrating the other. Now there is a potential opening wedge for Bush to get involved in another war. So Americans may die? Well, can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, you know.

Ecuadorean soldiers conduct military exercises. A crisis between three Latin American nations worsened when Venezuela said it was closing its border with Colombia, even as frantic diplomatic talks to stave off war were about to begin.(AFP/File/Rodrigo Buendia)
AFP/File Photo: Ecuadorean soldiers conduct military exercises. A crisis between three Latin American nations worsened when Venezuela said it was closing its border with Colombia, even as frantic diplomatic talks to stave off war were about to begin.(AFP/File/Rodrigo Buendia)
Slideshow: Venezuela

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