by Julie Webb-Pullman
Source: Gaza SCOOP
Flashback. July 16, 2014.
Boys. Beach. Sun. Sea. Sand. Football. Fun. An ordinary summers’ day like that in any other coastal city in the world.
Bomb. Blood. Missile. Martyrs. Mayhem. Mourners. An ordinary summer’s day in Gaza 2014.
Three months later the world has all but forgotten the “Bakr Boys,” the group of cousins playing on the beach that afternoon. Four of them – Ismail, Zakaria, Ahed and Mohamed – were killed. Four more survived the horror, physically at least.
Montasr, Hamada, Sayed and Younis are all now out of hospital, and could even play football again, despite legs peppered with shrapnel scars. But they don’t. (more…)
by Enas F Ghannam
She closes her eyes, holding his photo between her hands, his voice and laugh in her memory. She falls asleep hoping to dream of him alive coming to visit her with a gift in his hands, saying “I chose it for you.” Or preparing for their impending wedding with her. If he wanted something that she didn’t like he would change his mind, and say “I didn’t like it anyway.” He might have bought her something she had admired, without telling her. He might have done something he knows will irritate her just to tease her and see her angry. Or he might yell loudly at her to go and change her clothes into full Hejab, and after she nervously obeys he takes her to a beautiful place and says or does silly things until she finds herself laughing, forgetting that she was mad at him. She knows that this is his way of saying sorry as well as she knows that he screamed at her from jealousy. (more…)
By Ramzy Baroud
The death of former Israeli leader Ariel Sharon enlivened US media’s interest in the legacy of a man considered by many a war criminal, and by some a hero. In fact, the supposed heroism of Sharon was at the heart of CNN coverage of his death on January 11.
Sharon spent his last eight years in a coma, but apparently not long enough for US corporate media to wake up from its own moral coma. CNN online’s coverage presented Sharon as a man of heroic stature, who was forced to make tough choices for the sake of his own people. “Throughout, he was called ‘The Bulldozer’, a fearless leader who got things done,” wrote Alan Duke.
In his article, “Ariel Sharon, former Israeli Prime Minister, dead at 85”, Duke appeared to be confronting Sharon’s past head on. In reality, he cleverly whitewashed the man’s horrendous crimes, while finding every opportunity to recount his fictional virtue. “Many in the Arab world called Sharon ‘the Butcher of Beirut’ after he oversaw Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon while serving as defense minister,” Duke wrote.
Nevertheless, Sharon was not called the “The Bulldozer” for being “a fearless leader” nor do Arabs call him “the Butcher of Beirut” for simply “overseeing” the invasion of Lebanon. Duke is either ignorant or oblivious to the facts, but the blame is not his alone, since references to Sharon’s heroism was a staple in CNN’s coverage.
Sharon’s demise however, and the flood of robust eulogies will neither change the facts of his blood-soaked history, nor erase the “facts on the ground” – as in the many illegal colonies that Sharon so dedicatedly erected on occupied Palestinian land.
Following the Israeli occupation of Gaza along with the rest of Palestine in 1967, Sharon was entrusted with the bloody task of “pacifying” the headstrong Strip as he was the head of the southern command of the Israel Defense Forces. Sharon was dubbed the “Bulldozer” for he understood that pacifying Gaza would require heavy armored vehicles, and Gaza’s crowded neighborhoods and alleyways weaving through its destitute refugee camps were not suited for heavy machinery.
Therefore, he resolved to bulldoze thousands of homes, preparing the way for tanks and bulldozers to move in and topple even more homes. Modest estimates put the number of homes destroyed in August 1970 alone at 2,000. Over 16,000 Palestinians were made homeless and thousands were forced to relocate from one refugee camp into another.
The Beach Refugee Camp near Gaza City sustained most of the damage. Many fled for their lives, taking refuge in mosques and UN schools and tents. Sharon’s declared objective was targeting the terrorist infrastructure. What he in fact meant was targeting the very population that resisted and aided the resistance, for they indeed were the very infrastructure he harshly pounded for many days and weeks.
Sharon’s bloody sweep also resulted in the execution of 104 resistance fighters and the deportation of hundreds of others. Some were sent to Jordan, others to Lebanon, and the rest were simply left to rot in the Sinai desert.
Sharon’s violence was part of an equally disturbing logic. He believed that any strategic long-term plan to secure Israel must have at its heart a violent campaign aimed at disorienting Palestinians. He was quick to capitalize on the Allon plan, named after Yigal Allon, a former general and minister in the Israeli government, who took on the task of drawing an Israeli vision for the newly conquered Palestinian territories.
Sharon recounted standing on a dune near Gaza with cabinet ministers, explaining that along with military measures to control the Strip he wanted “fingers” of settlements separating its cities, chopping the region in four. Another “finger” would thrust through the edge of Sinai, helping create a “Jewish buffer zone between Gaza and Sinai to cut off the flow of weapons” and divide the two regions in case the rest of Sinai was ever returned to Egypt. That legacy disfigured and isolated Gaza, even years after Sharon implemented his policy of unilateral “disengagement” in 2005. He relocated the settlers to other illegal colonies in the West Bank and imposed a hermetic siege on the Strip, the consequences of which remain suffocating and deadly.
Sharon was keen on espousing or exploiting the division of his enemies. He moved against Lebanon in 1982, when the country was at its weakest point, exhausted by civil war. And when Israeli forces finally occupied Lebanon in 1982, as Palestine Liberation Organization fighters were shipped by sea to many countries around the Middle East, a triumphant Sharon permitted his Christian Phalangist allies to enter the defenseless Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps.
In the days between September 16-18, 1982, as Israeli troops completely besieged the camps, the Phalangists entered the area and carried out a massacre that gruesomely defined both the Lebanese civil war and the Israeli invasion, killing thousands of Palestinian refugees, mostly butchered with knives, but also gunned down.
Although Sharon was partly discredited after his disastrous war in Lebanon, Israeli voters brought him back repeatedly, to lead the rightwing Likud party in May 1999 and as a prime minister of Israel in February 2001. The aim was to subdue rebelling Palestinians during the Second Intifada. In fact, it was Sharon’s provocative “visit” to one of Islam’s holiest shrines a few months earlier that sparked anger among Palestinians and, among other factors, started the uprising.
Sharon attempted to crush the uprising with the support and blessings of the US, but he failed. By the end of August 2001, 495 Palestinians and 154 Israelis were killed. International attempts at sending UN observer forces were thwarted by a US veto on March 27, thus paving the way for the Israeli army to thrash its way into Palestinian refugee camps and other areas formerly controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
In March and April 2002, Sharon ordered Operation “Defensive Wall”, which resulted in major military incursions into most West Bank cities, causing massive destruction and unprecedented bloodletting. The Israeli operation led to the killing of hundreds of Palestinians, the reoccupation of major Palestinian towns, the destruction of Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah, and the subsequent besiegement of the Palestinian leader in his barely standing office.
Sharon was no hero. It is time for US media to wake up from its own coma, and confront reality through commonsense and the most basic human rights values. It should not be looking through the prism of the most rightwing, if not fascist elements of Israeli society.
Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).
(Copyright 2014 Ramzy Baroud)
by Julie Webb-Pullman
As Palestinian detainee Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh was being buried in Hebron, the Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Al Radwan was denouncing his murder at the mourning tent set up in his honour in Gaza City by the Ministry for Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs.
Radwan demanded that the international community form a committee to supervise Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, to ensure they are given their basic rights.
Several hundred people gathered to add their support to the Minister’s call, amongst them Sabrin Al Baz.
“I have come here today with about 100 others from the Adawa Islamic College to show our support for Maysara Hamdiyeh,” she told me.
“All Muslims must support this issue, it is not just an issue for Palestinians, but for human rights everywhere. They belong to everyone. What do you do when someone takes something that is yours away from you?” she asked.
“You must fight to get it back. We must protect and defend our claim, as Palestinians and as Muslims. But people everywhere must also help to protect them,” she said, reiterating Minister Radwan’s call for international action.
The third death of a Palestinian detainee in almost as many months demands international attention, and very close scrutiny of the conditions under which they are being held in Israeli prisons.
That even the International Committee of the Red Cross and local Israeli human rights groups cannot gain access to these prisons to monitor conditions, signals that there are likely gross abuses being hidden from public view. These deaths are compelling proof.
The international community has a moral obligation to expose these atrocities to the cold light of objective assessment, and ensure that the ongoing issue of the torture, abuse and medical negligence of this most vulnerable population is not buried along with Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh.
The death of Hugo Chavez yesterday afternoon, like the death of any great man, will be mourned by millions, but the achievements of his life will celebrated, felt by, and appreciated by billions, both now and in the centuries to come.
Guided by a huge heart and an even greater sense of social justice, and following the tradition of his hero and inspiration Simon Bolivar, Hugo Chavez transformed his country from a mouldering puppet of the empire into a vibrant, literate, healthy and independent truly-democratic nation, and his continent into a progressive example of the potential of international co-operation based on solidarity, respect and mutual support.
Turning on its head the divide-and-rule strategy of imperial capitalism, and its focus on individual gain at the expense of the majority, Chavez used his charisma and charm, his intelligence and skill to convince and influence his people and his neighbours to work together for the benefit of the masses, both at home and abroad, under the catch-cry of “Socialism for the 21st Century.”
The Venezuela of today is a testament to the intelligence, commitment and sacrifices of both Chavez and his compatriots. Poverty was halved, illiteracy eliminated, health care provided to the poor, and community councils established that have bettered the lives of millions who had never previously benefited from the nation’s considerable oil wealth, until then siphoned off by the country’s elite and US interests.
Following the death of Chavez, the vultures of the empire are hovering above this fledgling socialist nation waiting for their chance to swoop. They will have a long wait, and a fight like no another if and when they do.
“We are realists – we dream the impossible,” said Che Guevara. Chavez’ greatest achievement has been to transform those dreams into reality – and to inspire the same in his followers.
Raised by his grandmother in the savannah, he once said:
“A man from the plains, from these great open spaces …tends not to see barriers. You don’t see barriers from childhood on. What you see is the horizon.”
His nation, too, has its eyes set on the horizon – and the shadow of the vultures cannot obscure what they see there.
Alerta! Alerta! Alerta que camina! La espada de Bolivar por America Latina!*
*Watch out! Watch out! Watch out what’s coming! The sword of Bolivar for America Latina!
From Alray Media
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
Whilst Israel has ratified the main human rights conventions, it is not a party to any of the Optional Protocols other than Children in Armed Conflicts, nor has it accepted the jurisdiction of any of the treaty body committees, which means that relevant committees cannot receive or act on complaints or claims against Israel.
Even where Israel has ratified conventions, it has made important reservations, rendering itself virtually immune from almost any action against it.
The most we can hope for is that the circumstances of Arafat Jaradat’s death will be exposed to the international community, and will serve as a catalyst, as did the death in South African custody of Steve Biko in alerting the world to the atrocities being committed by the apartheid state of South Africa and ultimately leading to its downfall.
The rogue and apartheid state of Israel is equally in need of the disapprobation and condemnation of the international community for its chronic and extreme abuses of Palestinians and Palestinian detainees, for its daily practices of torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinian detainees and their families, and for its blatant disregard of international laws, norms and minimal standards of civilised behaviour.
14 Palestinian and Israeli Organisations Condemn Lack of Accountability for Torture of Palestinian Detainees
Friday, 01 March 2013 Ref.: 44/2013
The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), along with Adalah, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, express their outrage at the death of Arafat Jaradat, 30, which, according to the autopsy report of Dr Saber al-‘Aloul, Director of the Palestinian Medico-legal Institute, was caused by torture and ill-treatment inflicted while in Israeli custody. The preliminary autopsy, to which there are links below, found that Arafat displayed severe bruising on his upper back, deep bruising along the spine, and significant bruising on both sides of the chest. The postmortem also discovered bruising on both arms and inside the mouth, blood around the nose and three fractured ribs. In addition, the examination discounted the claim by the Israeli authorities that Arafat died of a heart attack. His heart was completely healthy and there was no evidence of damage or weakness of any kind. The report concludes that all injuries were the result of very recent, severe and direct torture. The undersigned organisations reiterate the demands made by UN representatives for an immediate international investigation into the death of Arafat Jaradat with a view to holding those responsible for his death accountable.
Arafat Jaradat was arrested on 18 February on suspicion of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at settlers and was transferred to al-Jalameh prison where he confessed to throwing stones but denied any involvement with firebombs. On 21 February, his lawyer, Mr. Kamil Sabbagh, reported that Arafat was suffering from severe pain in his back and appeared to be psychologically and physically weak after three days under interrogation. According to Mr. Sabbagh, Arafat also expressed strong fear at the prospect of returning to interrogation when his detention order was extended by 12 days. After a request from Mr. Sabbagh, the Israeli military judge ordered that a full physical and psychological examination of Arafat be carried out, the results of which were to be presented to the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and the court. It is unclear if this medical examination ever took place. If it did, the results of the exam should be disclosed. If it did not, the Israeli authorities must explain why this order was not complied with.
The absolute prohibition against torture is a peremptory norm of international law and “has now become one of the most fundamental standards of the international community”. Since 2001, there have been more than 750 complaints of torture and ill-treatment against the ISA. Not one complaint has resulted in a criminal investigation. Indeed, given that all complaints are reviewed by the Inspector of Interrogee Complaints, who is himself an ISA agent, it is a process that guarantees the absence of credible and impartial investigations. The fact that the Israeli Attorney General has ratified each recommendation not to investigate is further evidence of the institutional impunity which shields the ISA and those who commit torture in Israeli prisons.
Article 12 of UN Convention Against Torture, of which Israel is a State Party, obliges States to perform prompt and impartial investigations in all alleged incidents of torture. Torture is also considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is further listed as both a crime against humanity and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In addition, torture has permissive universal jurisdiction according to customary international law, which allows any State to prosecute those accused of torture, regardless of their nationality.
However, in 1999, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruling in the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v The State of Israel contributed significantly to the current climate of impunity, shielding those who commit torture. While the Court affirmed that the practice of torture was prohibited, it also held that such prohibition would not apply in cases of “necessity”, leaving room for the use of extreme measures in arbitrarily-defined situations, in blatant contradiction to the jus cogens status of the absolute prohibition of torture. The ruling effectively allowed for the continuing use of torture by affirming that an Israeli official charged with torture would not be criminally liable by virtue of the “necessity defence”, which can legitimise the use of “physical pressure” in certain circumstances.
In 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture reiterated its call on Israel to remove ‘necessity’ as a justification for the crime of torture as well as calling for all interrogations to be recorded on film. These demands have been ignored. In short, while torture is a crime that the international community maintains cannot be allowed to go unpunished, in Israel both the High Court of Justice and the Attorney General contribute to the lack of accountability that pervades the Israeli judicial system. Unless this culture of impunity is challenged, Palestinians in Israeli prisons will continue to be victims of torture and ill-treatment with regularity.
Arafat’s death is symptomatic of the utter disregard with which Israel holds the lives of Palestinian prisoners. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, 203 Palestinians have died in Israeli detention centres. At least 71 of these died as a direct result of torture. One hundred and seventy eight Palestinians are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial or any access to the information upon which their detention is based. Presently, ten Palestinians are engaged in hunger strikes in protest against their detention. Tarek Qa’adan and Jafar Azzidine, who spent more than 90 days on hunger strike and are in critical condition, have suspended their strikes for a week ahead of a court hearing on 6 March in the hope that their detention orders will be dismissed. Both men had their administrative detention orders renewed for another three months on Friday 22 February.
In light of the above, the undersigned organisations call for the following steps to be taken:
– An international investigation into all complaints of torture by Israeli forces must be carried out, followed by effective accountability for those responsible and redress for victims;
– All ISA interrogations of Palestinians must be subject to video recording, in line with the recommendations of the Turkel Commission;
– Given that Israel does not offer due process or a fair trial to Palestinian prisoners, all administrative detainees should be promptly released;
– The UN Committee Against Torture and Third States should pressure Israel to adopt adequate criminal legislation to define and penalise torture under domestic Israeli law;
– The European Parliament must promptly activate the parliamentary fact-finding mission that includes members of its Subcommittee on Human Rights to investigate the conditions of detention and interrogation of Palestinians detained by Israel;
– The EU parliamentary fact-finding mission must include an investigation into Israel’s illegal practice of administrative detention and the use of the “Unlawful Combatant Law”;
– All hunger strikers in advanced stages must be moved immediately to civilian hospitals where they can receive the appropriate standard of care without being shackled;
– Immediate intervention from the IPS to provide all hunger strikers with unrestricted access to independent doctors;
– All hunger strikers should be allowed family visits;
– UN Member States should urgently put pressure on Israel to end its policy of arbitrary detention and to abide by the standard rules for the treatment of prisoners adopted in 1955, which set out what is generally accepted as being decent principle and practice in the treatment of prisoners.
Preliminary Autopsy Report
 Prosecutor v Furundžija (Judgment, Trial Chamber) ICTY-95-17/1 (10 December 1998), para. 59.
 Data on file with Addameer.
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minorities in Israel
Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association
Aldameer Association for Human Rights
Khalil Abu Shammala
Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights
Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Defence for Children International
Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy
Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights
Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights
Public Committe Against Torture
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel
Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling
Maha Abu Dayyeh