The End Of All Crossroads

Where the TAXI makes a stop, to ponder upon which road mayhap be true

Tag: Palestine

[+ images] In Gaza, It’s the Occupation, Stupid

“The answer is simple, and increases the chances of security on all sides: End the occupation.”

Amy Goodman – Nationofchange / OP-ED

“The Palestinian people want to be free of the occupation,” award-winning Israeli journalist Gideon Levy summed up this week. It is that simple. This latest Israeli military assault on the people of Gaza is not an isolated event, but part of a 45-year occupation of the sliver of land wedged between Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, where 1.6 million people live under a brutal Israeli blockade that denies them most of the basic necessities of life. Without the unwavering bipartisan support of the United States for the Israeli military, the occupation of Palestine could not exist.

At the time of this writing, the overall Palestinian death toll of the seven-day assault, dubbed Operation Pillar of Cloud by the Israel Defense Forces, is more than 116, more than half of them civilians, including 27 children and 11 women. Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets from Gaza into Israel, which, to date, have killed three Israeli civilians.

President Barack Obama said on Sunday, “There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So, we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.”

“No one questions that right,” responds Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and the author of more than 50 books on war, human rights and international law.

“The question is: When and how is it appropriate? Here, as before in 2008, when Israel launched a similar devastating attack on the population and people of Gaza, there were alternatives, and this kind of approach to security ends up with a new cycle of violence at higher levels of intensity. It’s time for the international community to take some responsibility for protecting the people of Gaza.”

Since 2000, according to an article from the British medical journal The Lancet, the Israeli military has killed more than 6,000 Palestinians. They are harassed at checkpoints, imprisoned arbitrarily, denied clean water and sanitation, and suffer from systemic malnutrition, all part of the illegal siege and blockade. World-renowned linguist and author Noam Chomsky recently visited Gaza, describing it as the world’s largest open-air prison.

Amidst reports of an imminent ceasefire, I spoke with Dr. Mona El-Farra in Gaza. She is the health chair of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society of the Gaza Strip, which, as part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is protected under the Geneva Conventions. “Airplanes are still in the sky, drones are in the sky, and we can h ear intermittent shelling. People are tense, hoping for a cease-fire, but people don’t want a cease-fire at any cost. We want guarantees from Israel that this will not happen again.”

I asked her what it is like to endure an air raid: “Every other minute, directly in my area, the airplanes are there, and they hit within 100 meters of my building. You can overhear from the other areas, because it is very noisy, F-16s bombing with large explosions. The whole building shakes, and some of my windows have been shattered.” Dr. El-Farra and her 20-year-old daughter hide under their table. She gets only a few minutes sleep at a time. “With every air raid, you can see the fire from my window, the fire and the smoke.”

She also braves the open streets to attend to her responsibilities with the Red Crescent Society. They have set up phone banks to provide psychological counseling to Gazans who are dealing with death and injury, who are living under the stress of continuous air bombardment and the threat of imminent ground invasion. “We have terrified children in Gaza, children who do not have enough water, do not have enough food, no medicine … with all that, children have no safe place. There is no place safe in Gaza. I don’t know what will happen next if this madness continues. In the last week, it has been like hell for us. It is ugly, it is horrible.”

Jody Williams, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative told me, “It is very hard to think about Israel calling what it is doing defending itself when it is occupying Palestinian territory. It’s collective punishment. We cannot support punishing an entire population because of the policies and attacks of Hamas. It’s illegal.”

The answer is simple, and increases the chances of security on all sides: End the occupation.

© 2011 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate

ABOUT Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

SOURCE: Nation Of Change


“Flatten” Gaza like Hiroshima and “mow” the population, Israeli public figures urge

“Ben-Ari is also notorious for his incitement against Africans and for his hatred of Christians. In July he tore up a New Testament, calling it “abominable” and threw it in the trash.”

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Sun, 11/18/2012 – 23:20

Among the latest horrifying examples of incitement to mass murder by Israeli public figures, Gilad Sharon, the son of former prime minister and notorious war criminal Ariel Sharon, has called for the Israeli army to “flatten” Gaza as the US flattened the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945 with an atomic bomb.

Palestinian doctors gather to pray around the bodies of four children from the al-Dallu family killed along with seven other persons when an Israeli missile struck a family home in Gaza City on 18 November. (Majdi Fathi / APA images)

“The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences,” wrote Sharon in the extremist publication The Jerusalem Post. Sharon elaborated:

We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.

Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, and the lives of our soldiers and civilians spared.

Sharon added that “There is no middle path here – either the Gazans and their infrastructure are made to pay the price, or we reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip.”

As of Sunday night, the end of the fifth day of Israel’s air assault on Gaza, more than 70 Palestinians, half of them civilians, had been killed in hundreds of Israeli airstrikes.
“Don’t give a hoot about Goldstone”

Meanwhile in a message to soldiers, Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union party exhorted soldiers to kill without thought or mercy.

“Brothers! Beloved soldiers and commanders – preserve your lives! Don’t give a hoot about Goldstone! There are no innocents in Gaza, don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives[;] at any tiniest concern for your lives – Mow them!,” Ben-Ari was quoted as saying by the website HaKol HaYehudi.

Ben-Ari was referring to the UN-commissioned Goldstone report that documented war crimes and crimes against humanity during Israel’s 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza which left more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead.

“We love you alive and smiling, not, heaven forefend, ‘just’ and dead in Gaza – Sodom [-] there are no righteous men, turn it into rubble. Paint it red! We are worried about you and rely on you. We all do, all of the Nation of Israel,” Ben-Ari added.

The phrase “the Nation of Israel” refers to all members of the Jewish religion, not to citizens of the State Israel, notes Dena Shunra who translated Ben-Ari’s comments.

On 15 November, the second day of an Israeli assault, Ben-Ari addressed a hate rally in Tel Aviv, calling for more bloodshed in Gaza. New video of that rally, which this blog reported on previously, shows Ben-Ari in action.

Ben-Ari is also notorious for his incitement against Africans and for his hatred of Christians. In July he tore up a New Testament, calling it “abominable” and threw it in the trash.

Read more examples of incitement to violence by Israeli public figures, for example the prominent rabbi who says the Israeli army “must learn from the Syrians how to slaughter the enemy.”

All of these inciters will no doubt be pleased that in the bloodiest attack of Israel’s assault so far, 11 Palestinians from a single family, including four young children and an 81-year-old woman, were killed on Sunday when an Israeli bomb flattened their home.


SOURCE: Electronic Intifada

Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Russia chorus condemnation of Israel’s resort to force, US leads Western supporters

“The attacks on southern Israel, as well as Israel’s disproportionate shelling [of targets in Gaza], are entirely unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.

By Raphael Ahren November 15, 2012, 6:16 pm


British Ambassador Matthew Gould speaking to reporters in front of the Kiryat Malachi house in which three Israeli were killed by rocket fire from Gaza, November 15, 2012. (photo credit: courtesy British embassy Tel Aviv) [click fos sourcepage]

On day two of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel was getting strong support from several Western countries, led by the United States, while Egypt, Jordan, Russia and Turkey condemned the resort to force as disproportionate and overly aggressive.

“It is obvious that Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself and protect its own citizens against rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Thursday. “Now it is necessary that everyone contributes to deescalating the situation. Everybody needs to understand that we need to prevent worse things from happening. We call upon all parties to act wisely and in a deescalating manner,” Westerwelle said at press conference in Paris.

His British colleague William Hague said that Hamas “bears principal responsibility” for the current escalation of violence, condemning the organization and other terrorist groups for firing rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. “This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza. The rocket attacks also risk worsening the plight of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which is already precarious,” the foreign secretary said in a statement released on Thursday.

“Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza should cease attacks against Israel immediately,” Hague added. “I call on those in the region with influence over Hamas to use that influence to bring about an end to the attacks.”


On Wednesday, the British embassy in Tel Aviv had tweeted the following message: “We continue to call on all sides to exercise restraint to prevent a dangerous escalation that would be in no one’s interests.” The post has since been removed from the Twitter account.

Britain’s ambassador in Israel, Matthew Gould, sounded much more sympathetic on Thursday, during a visit to the Kiryat Malachi apartment in which three Israeli were killed by rocket fire from Gaza. “I’ve seen for myself upstairs the devastating effect these rockets have. I’ve seen for myself a family that has been destroyed by rocket attack,” he told Israeli reporters. “I have to tell you, personally it is absolutely devastating.”

The French ambassador in Israel, Christophe Bigot, also visited Kiryat Malachi, and expressed his solidarity with Israeli victims of rocket attacks.

The Foreign Ministry in Paris, however, was less supportive of Israel than London in the statement it released. “France is exceedingly worried about the deteriorating situation in Gaza and the South of Israel. It is calling on the parties to refrain from any escalation of violence since the Israeli and the Palestinian civilian population would inevitably pay the price.”

The United States was the first nation to express full solidarity and support for Operation Pillar of Defense. “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel,” the State Department said in a statement released on Wednesday. “We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately. We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres spoke to US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, briefing him on Operation Pillar of Defense. Netanyahu has since also spoken to President Francois Hollande of France, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Middle East Quartet representative Tony Blair. “I want to thank them for their understanding of Israel’s need to defend itself, and Israel’s right to defend itself,” Netanyahu told foreign reporters Thursday afternoon.

Other nations were less understanding of Israel’s use of force in Gaza.

“The attacks on southern Israel, as well as Israel’s disproportionate shelling [of targets in Gaza], are entirely unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday. “We urge all sides to end the military confrontation immediately and to prevent a new round of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip.”

Turkey, meanwhile, condemned Operation Pillar of Defense.

“We harshly condemn Israel’s offensive and it must be stopped immediately,” a statement released by Ankara’s foreign ministry said. Jerusalem’s campaign in Gaza was the latest incident that proves Israel’s “hostile policies,” the statement read.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told reporters that he had spoken with senior Hamas officials and promised them to pressure the international community to do more to stop Israel’s “aggressive positions,” according to the Today’s Zaman newspaper.

Significantly. the two Arab neighbors with which Israel has peace treaties also denounced Jerusalem for its use of force.

“Israel’s aggressive policy placed the area again in a cycle of violence and instability,” Jordan’s information minister Sameeh Maaytah said. “This additional hostility… closes all doors on negotiations and the achievement of political arrangements. Israel deprives the Palestinian people of their political and national right to create an independent state… Israel’s aggression needs to be stopped and the Palestinian people need to be protected.”

Egypt was bitterly critical. The country’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi spoke with Obama, and Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr spoke with his American counterpart, Hillary Clinton, late Wednesday night, asking them for immediate US intervention “to stop the Israeli aggression,” Cairo said in a statement.

Egypt also recalled its ambassador in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s military campaign.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, strongly condemned Israel’s assassination of Hamas’s military chief Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday. In a statement, the party called the targeted killing a “crime which should see a fast Arab and international response to stop a wave of similarly bloody massacres against the Palestinian people besieged in the Gaza Strip, and which are being used by the Israeli government for leverage in political conflicts raging within Israel.”

Israel seeks to drag the Middle East into “instability, confusion and chaos,” the statement continued. “But Israel should be warned that the changes recently witnessed in the Arab region, especially in Egypt, cannot allow Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people to go unpunished as in the past.”