Thursday, June 09, 2005
It's not a Draft.
We're just kidnapping people and forcing them to enlistThis
is really sickening, and should be a swift wake up call to those who are still in denial.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Israeli Govt. report reveals land grabs ARE illegal
But carries on with them anyway.
The scale of Israel's illegal land grab in the occupied territories was disclosed yesterday when the government's own investigation found at least £9 million of taxpayers' money was recently used for illegal Jewish outposts.
While domestic and international attention is focused on Israel's plan to withdraw all its settlements in Gaza, the report suggests a clear push by the Israeli government to stake out more land in the West Bank.
This policy received tacit support from the United States last year when President George W Bush said Israel could rightfully claim any territory where there was an existing Jewish community centre even if set up illegally.
Campaigners against Jewish settlements pointed out that while the investigation reported several months ago that a systemic abuse of the legal process took place in the government, no individuals have been prosecuted yet.All Israeli building on land occupied in the 1967 war is regarded by Britain and the European Union as illegal under international law.Israel has always denied that the settlements breach international law but now the government's own report, prepared by a respected lawyer, Talia Sasson, found that scores of outposts broke Israel's domestic laws.
According to her report, which used figures accurate up to June of last year, £9 million was channelled illegally by the housing ministry to Jewish communities setting up illegal settlements during the premiership of the current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and his Likud party predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the late 1990s.
It is likely that the actual figure for illegal government funding is much higher because the settlements would have received money from the defence ministry and other agencies, although Mrs Sasson was unable to trace those sums.
According to the report, 82 illegal outposts received funding from the housing ministry. At least 15 of the outposts were built on land that was wholly owned by Palestinians and 39 on land that was partly Palestinian property and partly state-owned.
While there are a total of about 8,000 Jewish settlers in Gaza, all of whom are due to be evacuated later this summer, in the West Bank the numbers of settlers are significantly higher.
There are about 180,000 Jewish settlers in communities built to the east of Jerusalem on land occupied in 1967 and a further 240,000 in more than 200 settlements and outposts dotted across the West Bank.
What do they mean 'Threat to Peace'?
Well, how about this for example?
Israeli outposts shell surrounding Southern Lebanese territories while Israeli warplanes continue to violate Lebanon's sovereign air space.
NABATIEH: Violence erupted in the South on Tuesday, with several Israeli warplanes once more violating Lebanese airspace and Shebaa coming under fire from both tank and heavy artillery. An Israeli Mirkava tank in the Roueisat al-Alam outpost fired three 122-millimeter mortar shells at Sadana hill, located in northeast Shebaa and Kfar Shuba in the late morning.
The attack was preceded by artillery fire from the Ramta and Sahaqa outposts in the occupied Shebaa Farms toward the surrounding valleys and prairies.
Security sources in Marjayoun said the Israeli military had also increased activities between the Shebaa Farms and Syrian Golan Heights.
Meanwhile, Army Command announced six Israeli warplanes and two reconnaissance jets had violated Lebanese airspace over Nabatieh, Marjayoun, Arqoub and Khiam earlier in the morning. The jets returned to their base nearly two hours after having been reported to have crossed into Lebanese territory.
Four Israeli warplanes also violated Lebanese airspace Tuesday drawing anti-aircraft fire from the army.
Israeli soldiers fired three mortar rounds across the border in retaliation, with no reported casualties.
The Israeli jets broke the sound barrier as they swooped low over the southern port city of Tyre in the latest in a catalogue of violations that have drawn UN criticism.
Another two Israeli warplanes were spotted in the early afternoon coming from the sea off the coast of the northern city of Batroun, said an army statement. The jets hovered above the city before leaving some 15 minutes later.
The latest flyovers came amid Hizbullah celebrations after the resistance's landslide victory in parliamentary elections in the South.
Hizbullah leaders hailed the victory as a popular rebuff to American and French-led pressure for the disarmament of all militia on Lebanese soil.
The resistance has said it plans to continue its fight against Israel until the Jewish state relinquishes the disputed Shebaa Farms, a small plot of land seized from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war but now claimed by Lebanon with Damascus' blessing.
But Hizbullah's foreign relations chief Ali Darmush told a Paris news conference Monday the party would "not hand over its weapons even if Israel withdraws from the Shebaa Farms."
He cited the continued threat from Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace as the main reason for Hizbullah's rejection of calls to disarm.
In a statement addressed to United Press International, Darmush said: "France can play a positive role in Lebanese domestic affairs by encouraging officials to unite and proceed to true national reconciliation that protects Lebanon facing Zionist ambitions. Without the resistance Lebanon would return to the pre-liberation phase, meaning to before the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon in the summer of 2000."
During a press scrum following the statement, a reporter from the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot had attempted to pose a question to Darmush regarding prisoner swaps between Hizbullah and Israel, but was snubbed by the Hizbullah official.
The slight prompted the Israeli Press Association to release a statement criticizing Darmush's behavior as "xenophobic and racial," and expressed its disappointment that other journalists had not joined their Israeli colleague in walking out of the conference.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Rules of engagement? Pft! We're Israel. We make our own rules.
In Israel, the weekends revelations are causing massive commentary.
It is impossible to ignore the article published in Maariv over the weekend, which stated that on the night between February 19 and 20, 2002, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, acting under explicit orders, carried out untargeted killings in which 15 Palestinian policemen were shot to death at three checkpoints.
In the article, by Chen Cottes-Bar and Omri Asenheim, soldiers related that the nighttime operation was hastily planned in response to the killing of six soldiers earlier that evening at the Ein Ariq checkpoint. Soldiers from the combat engineering and paratrooper corps were gathered together at 11 P.M. and given a short briefing by their commanders. The targets were marked in black ink on pieces of cardboard, and the soldiers were told to go out that very night to checkpoints manned by Palestinian Authority policemen, to lie in ambush for the policemen and kill any who came by.
This is an order that seems, prima facie, to be illegal, and according to members of the Breaking the Silence group, it was not the only one of its kind. And it was issued not in a state of war between two countries, each with an army, but in a complex situation of belligerent occupation.
The event described in the article is particularly grave because it did not involve a violation of orders, but rather the execution of explicit orders. It did not arise from the confusion of battle, or from any fighting at all; rather, it was a liquidation operation weighed and approved at every command level. The lesson that IDF soldiers could derive from it is that the rules of engagement they were taught were meant solely for the drawer.
To discover the truth of this assessment, it is necessary to investigate the facts. But that is a difficult task, because the chief of staff at that time was Shaul Mofaz, who is now defense minister. It is not reasonable to expect the defense minister to order an investigation into something for which he himself was responsible, and may even have initiated or approved. For this, we need an inquiry committee headed by a judge.
The IDF Spokesman's laconic response, which confirmed the facts of the article, creates the impression that orders of this type could be given today as well, and certainly if the current calm does not last. Granted, the IDF did not define the operation as vengeance, but rather as "a policy [of acting] against PA [security] services involved in terror." But the circumstances, as described by the soldiers, recall the reprisal operations that were the glory of the elite Unit 101, which previously seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth.
In 1991, Colonel Yehuda Meir was convicted of sending a group of soldiers to break the arms and legs of Palestinians who had been rounded up in the villages of Hawara and Beita. Even though these Palestinians were selected from lists drawn up by the Shin Bet security service, rather than randomly, as they were in the present case, the court ruled that the order to abuse people who did not constitute any threat was blatantly illegal.
During the second intifada, the army has put very few soldiers and officers on trial, and it seems as if all restraints have been removed. Moshe Ya'alon's decision of half a year ago, to set up a task force to investigate the IDF's norms of combat, still exists solely on paper. The regrettable and frightening conclusion that IDF soldiers are liable to draw from this is that everything is permissible.
Israelis stunned by TV indictment from within
When a Jewish person states the facts, can you still call him an anti-semite?
A documentary series by a respected newsreader delivers a damning assault on the settler movement.
A new documentary series stunned Israeli television viewers this week, not only by its unprecedented and searing indictment of Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territories, but also because of its unexpected source.
Often described as Israel's Walter Cronkite, 72-year-old Haim Yavin has fronted state television's evening news bulletins since 1968, cultivating a neutral image that put him, for most Israelis, at the symbolic heart of the national consensus.
All that changed on Tuesday with the broadcast of the first of five episodes of Land of the Settlers, the result of two-and-a-half years spent wandering the West Bank and Gaza with a miniature video camera.
Yavin's study of ultra right-wing Jewish settlers, the Israeli soldiers who guard them, the native Palestinians whose lives they dominate and the small number of Israeli rights activists, lawyers and journalists campaigning against them, has caused him to be denounced as representing the far left of Israeli sensibility.
"I cannot really do anything to relieve this misery, other than to document it, so that neither I nor those like me will be able to say that we saw nothing, heard nothing, knew nothing," he says in the film. "I did not move left. The country moved right."
The documentary dwells on the machinery of occupation - the roadblocks, fences, walls, settler roads and curfews - set up to support and defend the settlements.
In Hebron, where the army has helped a few hundred fundamentalist settlers seize the heart of a Palestinian city, a soldier tells Yavin that settlers are inciting him to shoot and kill Palestinian children.
A leader of the Hebron settlers tells him that Palestinians should be told to leave the country immediately or be bombed from the air.He films graffiti on a wall, "Arabs to the crematoriums".
A Russian-born Israeli border policeman assures Yavin that "I am only following orders".
Another soldier confides: "We have set up a slave camp here. We are committing crimes here."
Reviewing the first episode in the mass daily Yedioth Ahronoth, journalist Raanan Shaked wrote: "Every caring Israeli, every humane Israeli, should get up next Saturday, go to the settlement nearest to his place of residence and drag its inhabitants, kicking and screaming, across the road to the side of sanity."
The documentary has been less warmly received by right-wing Israelis and by the fundamentalist settler movement, which this week accused Yavin of anti-Semitism and hate speech.
The religious Zionists of the settler movement believe that God covenanted the Jews with an exclusive right and religious duty to inhabit all the territories between the Nile in Egypt and the Euphrates in Iraq.
Denouncing Yavin in the pro-settler newspaper Hatzofe, Hagai Huberman wrote: "Of course there is no such thing as the holiness of the Land of Israel for him. He has never heard of this term."
Secular Israeli governments of both the left and right have encouraged, funded and armed settlers to move into the occupied territories, arguing that it is Jewish destiny to control them and that they are vital to Israel's security.
But tensions between the 250,000 settlers and Israel's secular majority have escalated sharply in recent months. This followed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to reverse his lifelong support of settlements and withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four isolated settlements in the West Bank.
Faced with a storm of condemnation and calls for his dismissal, Yavin's defenders say that he sought to balance his series by including coverage of atrocities committed by Palestinians. His superiors said that he has done nothing to breach his contract. In fact, the program is not being broadcast on his own channel, which declined to show it, but on a smaller commercial channel, Telad.
Cynical commentators noted this week that Telad is about to lose its broadcast franchise and may feel it has nothing to lose by presenting such provocative fare to audiences who generally show little interest in what happens in the West Bank and Gaza.
Jerusalem orders Palestinian homes to be razed
1000 homes to be destroyed. But don't worry. They're not 'real' people. Only Arabs.
Jerusalem's city council has ordered one of the largest mass demolitions in the city's recent history, with plans to raze the homes of about 1,000 Palestinians in a neighbourhood claimed by Jewish settlers.
The council says about 90 buildings served with demolition orders were built illegally over the last three decades on a site of religious and archaeological value just outside the Old City walls, and that they are being destroyed to restore the area as a national park.
But Israeli human rights campaigners say the real intent is to forcibly remove Palestinians from an area, Silwan, that is an important link in the government's plan to encircle Arab East Jerusalem with Jewish settlements.
Meir Margalit, a former city councillor leading opposition to the demolitions, said: "It will undermine a solution to the conflict, because the government is trying to make it impossible for East Jerusalem to be the Palestinian capital."
The targeted houses make up the Al Bustan neighbourhood in Silwan, in an area the city council calls King's Valley because it was the site of King David's city.
The demolitions were ordered by the city engineer, Uri Shetrit, in a letter last November but were kept under wraps until dozens of demolition orders went out in recent weeks.
"This hill and its surrounding neighbourhood dates from 5,000 years ago," the letter says. "These remains have an international and national value and they give the city its status as one of the most valuable cities in the world."
But the opposition leader on the council, Alalu Jose, said there was almost nothing left of King David's city: "I confronted Shetrit after he sent out the letter ordering the demolitions and said, 'This has nothing to do with archaeology or parks, it's all about politics.'"
A controversial settler organisation, Elad, partially funded by the government, has already taken over more than 40 buildings in the area.
Mr Margalit said: "There is a much bigger plan here, aimed at ensuring Israeli control of all of Jerusalem even after there is a Palestinian state."
He acknowledged that many of the affected houses were built illegally, but says that was because of a council policy not to issue construction permits to Palestinians. The mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, has declined to comment publicly on the demolitions.
Among those served with a demolition order is Mo hammed Badran, who says he was born in 1961 in the house the council now wants to raze.
Mr Badran has papers from the British mandate era in the 20s that appear to show his grandfather owned the land where the house now stands.
"I have been taxed on this house since the day they introduced it to East Jerusalem in 1973," he said. "If the house was illegal, why did they take the tax?"
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Sometimes you gotta laugh
Alannis, take note if you ever want to rewrite 'Ironic'
Looks like Rumsfeld should take this standup comedian routine on the road. How's this for an opening joke?
"Rumsfeld rebuked China at a regional security conference in Singapore, saying it was pouring huge resources into its military and buying large amounts of sophisticated weapons despite facing no threat from any other country.
You couldn't possibly make that shit up if you tried.
Rummy, bear in mind that the US spends more on its military than the next 20 highest spending countries COMBINED. Soon, you'll be spending more than the rest of the WORLD combined. Now read this: (written years ago by Robert Anton Smith).
What would you think of a man who not only kept an arsenal in his home, but was collecting at enormous financial sacrifice a second arsenal to protect the first one? What would you say if this man so frightened his neighbours that they in turn were collecting weapons to protect themselves from him?
What if this man spent ten times as much money on his expensive weapons as he did on the education of his children? What if one of his children criticized his hobby and he called that child a traitor and a bum and disowned him? And he took another child who obeyed him faithfully and armed that child and sent it out into the world to attack neighbors?
What would you say about a man who introduces poisons into the water he drinks and the air he breathes? What if this man not only is feuding with the people on his block but involves himself in the quarrels of others in distant parts of the city and even in the suburbs?
Such a man would clearly be a paranoid schizophrenic with homicidal tendencies."
No prizes for guessing who we're talking about. And it ain't China, you dumbfuck.
Rocks verus stun grenades. Does Vegas take odds on this?
IDF disperses riot with sound technology
Military officials say new weapon uses voice frequencies; troops use weapon for first time during violent anti-West Bank separation barrier rally
The IDF unveiled Friday a new crowd-dispersal tactic, emitting painful bursts of sound at a special frequency to help break up a violent Palestinian demonstration, military officials and witnesses said.
IDF officials confirmed soldiers used a new non-lethal tactic in the West Bank village of Bilin, where hundreds of demonstrators rallied against Israel's separation barrier.
The officials said the weapon uses voice frequencies to disperse crowds. Israel developed the technology over the past four years, but had never used it in a live situation before Friday, they said.
An Associated Press photographer said a military vehicle arrived toward the end of the demonstration, which lasted several hours and became violent at times. Clubs and stun grenades also used
Located about 500 meters (a quarter mile) from the demonstration, the vehicle emitted several bursts of sounds, about one minute in length each time. Although the sound was not loud, it caused people to cover their ears and grab their heads in discomfort.
About 400 people, including Palestinians and foreign and Israeli activists, participated in the demonstration, marching toward a site where Israel is building its West Bank separation fence.
The crowd was prevented from reaching the site, and began rioting and throwing rocks at soldiers, the army said.
In addition to the sound machine, soldiers used other means to disperse the crowd, including clubs and stun grenades.
Israel has completed about one-third of the planned 425mile (680-kilometer) barrier, which it says is necessary to keep out suicide bombers from the West Bank.
Palestinians point out that the barrier is a thinly veiled land grab because it encroaches into the West Bank in some areas.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Israeli soldiers confess: We killed police for revenge
Killing cops and unarmed men. Way to go, Israel.
Two Israeli soldiers have come forward to describe how they took part in what they say was an officially ordered "revenge" operation to kill Palestinian police officers among them several unarmed men.
In graphic testimony, one soldier has confessed that he "really enjoyed" a chase in which he shot an unarmed Palestinian in the head who was trying to escape during a series of reprisal raids ordered the day after the killing of six Israeli soldiers in an ambush by militant gunmen three years ago.
In what may be the first inside account of such an operation, the soldiers from two reconnaissance units say they were among troops ordered by their commanders to "liquidate" the police officers at a series of Palestinian West Bank checkpoints even though they were given no evidence they had been involved in the killing of the Israelis.
The raids were among a series of ground and air attacks which, in all, killed 15 Palestinians 12 of them policemen in and around Nablus and Ramallah 24 hours after the six Israeli soldiers were killed at a military post in the village of Ein Arik, west of Ramallah, at the height of the intifada.
One soldier, who took part in the attack on a Palestinian post at Deir es Sudan said they had lain in wait after finding the position empty when they arrived in the middle of the night.
"The idea was simply to kill them all. Whenever they arrived, we would kill them, regardless whether [they were]armed or not. If they were Palestinian policemen, they were to be shot. The order was given and our six opened fire."
The soldier, from the Yael Reconnaissance Troop, said that their [naval] squad commander had told them: "We are going to kill six Palestinian policemen somewhere, revenging our six they took down". He added: "On my question 'what did they do?' the answer was there was a suspicion that the terrorist who killed our six came through that [Palestinian] checkpoint. Suspicion, but no concrete evidence. But I was told: 'it doesn't matter; they took six of ours, and we are going to take six of theirs.'"
The soldier said that, after hitting and wounding two of the Palestinians as they tried to run away, the soldiers continued to fire, as one ran into a corrugated metal shed and another into a cemetery. After they sprayed the shed with bullets, a gas cylinder in it caught fire. "We had a killed policeman, another one in this burning inferno, and a third one, escaping. We ran after him into a graveyard ... stood on the surrounding wall and shot at him. We killed him too."
The soldier said that no fire had been returned by the Palestinians and added: "Later we understood, that not one of them ... was armed." He added that he had inspected the "completely smashed" body of the man in the graveyard after shooting at it to "confirm the kill" and that it was of "a guy in his mid-50s or 60s, very old."
The accounts were originally given to the "Breaking the Silence" group of young former soldiers which is critical of methods used by the army in the occupied territories.
One of the group's spokesmen, Avichai Sharon, a former member of the crack Golani Brigade, claimed the operations on 20 February 2002 were ordered "from high" including the Ministry of Defence and added: "In my eyes, this is a very harsh example of crossing the moral and human boundaries."
He said it indicated that "we are not a defence force any more but a tribe which avenges in blood. As an Israeli, I fear this."
He said the soldiers, whose testimony appears in today's Maariv, had not been named "for legal reasons". Maariv quotes an army spokesman insisting the policemen were "contaminated by terror".
Describing another attack on the same day at the Beit Ha Mitachayim checkpoint on the eastern edge of Nablus in which fire was returned by Palestinian police the other soldier, from the Tzanchanim Paratroop Reconnaissance Unit, said that the order to shoot at Palestinians had given by the unit commander and the brigade commander, a Brigadier Cochavi, had been present at the time.
He said the policemen were ones who normally would have been warned by Israeli liaison officers about any military operations due to take place in their area.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Israel ignores Bush's 'urging'. Grabs more land.
They probably knew Bush was only speaking for the cameras anyway
Israel announced plans today to build 22 more homes in its largest West Bank settlement. This comes a mere week after Bush urged the Jewish state to stop expanding Jewish enclaves on occupied land.
The Israel Lands Administration, a government agency, published a tender inviting bids for the purchase of 22 plots for the construction of single-family homes in the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem.
The Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now criticised the new building plan in Maale Adumim, a sprawling suburban settlement of 30,000 people.
"The Israeli government continues not to fulfil its obligations under the road map, namely to completely freeze settlement activity," a Peace Now spokesperson said.
"Sharon is asking the Palestinians to carry out their part of the road map," he said, referring to a crackdown on armed militant groups. "If we want to see progress, both sides should (carry out their commitments)."
A real step forward
But I'm curious... if these people have no blood on their hands, what were they in jail for? White collar crime?
Israel releasing 400 Palestinian prisoners
Israel began the release of about 400 Palestinian prisoners Thursday -- the second phase of the prisoner releases promised under a cease-fire agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, agreed in February at Sharm el-Sheikh summit, in Egypt. (About 500 were freed on February 21).
Sharon has said the 900 prisoners gaining freedom are all "without blood on their hands."
Last week, Abbas met in Washington with President Bush, who pledged $50 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority. The meeting constituted the first White House talks in five years between U.S. and Palestinian leaders.
Bush said the aid is meant "to help ensure that the Gaza disengagement is a success." Israel plans to withdraw from that region this summer.
The money will be used for new housing and infrastructure projects in Gaza, "where poverty and unemployment are very high," Bush said.
It's the first direct aid the United States has given to the Palestinian Authority. Previous donations have gone through non-governmental organizations.
Abbas thanked Bush for his support and said Israeli-Palestinian violence was at its "lowest level in four years."
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Israel to destroy 88 Arab homes to make room for park
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The Jerusalem municipality wants to demolish 88 homes in an Arab neighbourhood of the city to make room for an archaeological park, according to Israeli government documents and attorneys representing the homeowners. If the courts approve the municipality’s request, (and it looks likely that they will) it will be one of the largest demolitions since Israel captured traditionally Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war, and would cause an uproar among Palestinians who claim that part of the city as a future capital of a Palestinian State.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Tuesday warned of grave damage to delicate peace efforts. "I urge the Israeli government not to do this demolition, and to give peace a chance," he said. The 88 homes are located in east Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhood of Silwan, just outside the walled Old City, an area steeped in biblical history.
The municipality wants to enlarge a small archaeological site beside the homes and turn the area into a national park, the Haaretz newspaper quoted Uri Shetrit, the Jerusalem city engineer, as saying. The park would connect several Jewish settlement enclaves in Silwan to the nearby City of David, an area of excavations dating to the biblical King David.
Alright 'Buzzkill', I'll do it
I generally try to stay out of the whole Israel/Palestinian thing. It's an explosive issue, more so than any other issue I can think of (and that includes abortion, the invasion of Iraq, the causes of 9/11, and Dubya himself).
But in a recent series of conversations with one of my online sparring partners, we hit one of those frequent impasses which never fails to leave me agog. Namely I was putting forward the position that his knowledge of the situation came from overwhelmingly biased and one-sided sources. ie. The American media. Whereas Buzz insisted that American media was fair, and Europe was just riddled with anti-semitism.
I pointed out that studies had shown
the one-sidedness of American media, that Israeli deaths were 9.9 times more likely to be reported than Palestinian ones, etc.. Buzz countered by saying that 59% of Europeans thought Israel was the biggest threat to world peace
. And I pointed out that if Americas news were more balanced in its coverage, then that statistic might not be a shock, and might even be reflected in the US.
Studies and reports can be ignored or denied (see Cheneys denial of Amnesty International's report on Gitmo, for example) So I was challenged to do one month of comparitive reporting on the Israeli situation. I'll copy here reports of everything that I see in the media, and Buzz can check off what ever appears in the US, and what doesn't. And at the end of the month, we'll tally up the scores. Buzz, you might want to get yourself a blog just for the month at least, so you can plag tag-a-long.
Lastly, anyone who even attempts to suggest that I am anti-semitic will be mocked until my fingers bruise.