"Today in Solidarity We're All Palestinians - by Stephen Lendman
World outrage continues over Israeli war crimes and Washington's complicity. Gazans are now immortalized. Hamas is more popular than ever and remains resolute despite everything the IDF threw against it.
Democrats and Republicans share equal guilt. They fund Israeli state terror, are partnered in its aggression, and have collaboratively planned, supported, and/or agreed to it for the past 41 years. Continuity under Obama is assured. The current Gaza carnage is the worst since 1967. In spite of its "unilateral" ceasefire, sporadic Israeli attacks continue. The IDF merely redeployed. Gaza remains under siege, and human suffering is overwhelming and unrelieved.
Since December 27, Israel conducted terror bombings, tank and naval vessel shellings, and assault troop slaughter on the ground. Illegal weapons were used. Neighborhoods are burning and in ruins. Horrific wounds are reported. Civilians were willfully massacred. They comprise 80 - 90% of the casualties according to human rights organizations and medical authority reports. All 1.5 million Gazans were targeted. They still are. There's no place anywhere to hide.
Sporadic fighting continues after Israel's January 17 announcement. Earlier, Israeli Radio reported that more reservists were activated and that IDF operations were in "phase three." Forces on the ground pushed deeper into Gaza where they remained up to now. Attacks on neighborhoods and refugee camps intensified. Death and injury tolls mount. They approach 7000 but exclude potentially hundreds of unidentified bodies under rubble.
A Brief History of Israeli Terror Killings Since 1946
Gaza is full-scale war but just the latest bloodstained episode in Israel's six-decade reign of terror against Palestinians. This section reviews others since 1946, two years before the establishment of a Jewish state. The list is long, way-incomplete, very disturbing, and shows what Palestinians have endured for over 60 years. Their ordeal continues in the West Bank and Gaza under siege, still attacked, and, as always, betrayed by the dominant media.
The King David Hotel July 22, 1946 Bombing
The Menachem Begin-led Irgun planned and conducted the massacre of 92 Brits, Arabs and Jews, wounding 58 others. As head of the Jewish Agency, David Ben-Gurion approved the operation. It was to destroy British-gathered evidence that its leaders colluded with the Haganah, Palmach, Irgun and Stern gangs in a wave of terrorist crimes and killings. Bombing the King David Hotel was the most notorious and followed a pattern before and since of brutal Israeli state terrorism.
The British Secretariat of the Palestine Government and British Army HQ kept offices in the hotel. Attackers disguised as milkmen, planted explosives in milk containers, placed them in the basement and left. At the time, the action shocked the civilized world and outraged the British leadership and House of Commons.
Other Israeli Terrorist Incidents against Palestinians
-- Tira, December 11, 1947 - five Palestinians were killed and six injured;
-- a village outside Haifa, December 12, 1947 - 12 Palestinians killed;
-- a village outside Tel Aviv, December 14, 1947 - 18 Palestinians killed and 100 injured;
-- al-Khias, December 18, 1947 - the paramilitary Haganah killed 10 Palestinians, most inside their homes;
-- Haifa, December 30, 1947 - six Palestinians killed and 42 wounded;
-- Jerusalem, December 30, 1947 - Irgun terrorists threw a bomb from a speeding car killing 11 Palestinians and two Brits;
-- Balad Esh-Sheikh, December 31, 1947 - the Haganah killed 60 Palestinians, most inside their homes;
-- Jaffa, January 4, 1948 - the Stern Gang killed up to 30 and wounded 100 in a truck bombing;
-- the Semiramis Hotel, Jerusalem, January 4, 1948 - the Haganah bombed the hotel killing 25 civilians;
-- Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, January 7, 1948 - 17 Palestinians killed;
-- Tireh, February 10, 1948 - seven Palestinians killed and five injured;
-- on a bus from Safad, February 12, 1948 - five Palestinians killed and five injured;
-- Sa'sa', February 14, 1948 - 60 Palestinians killed, mostly in their homes;
-- Qisarya, February 15 - 20, 1948 - 25 Palestinians killed;
-- Haifa, February 20, 1948 - six Palestinians killed and 36 wounded;
-- Haifa, March 3, 1948 - the Stern Gang blew up the Salameh Building killing 11 Palestinians and wounding 27;
-- al-Husayniyya, March 12 and 16 - 17 - the Palmach twice raided the village killing 15 and wounding 20 in the first attack; killing 30 in the second one;
-- Jews blew up a train near Benjamina on March 31, 1948 killing 25 Palestinians and wounding 61;
-- al-Sarafand, April 5, 1948 - 16 Palestinians were killed and 12 wounded, most when a house was mortared;
-- Dier Yassin, April 9, 1948 - the Menachem Begin-led Irgun slaughtered well over 120 Palestinian men, women and children in a bloody rampage; The New York Times reported 254 killed on April 13; 53 orphaned children were dumped like trash along the wall of the Old City; homes were dynamited with inhabitants inside; people were shot at close range, including children; the massacre marked the beginning of what followed during Israel's "War of Independence:" depopulating 531 towns and villages; 11 urban neighborhoods; massacring or displacing 800,000 Palestinians; and committing countless rapes and other atrocities;" remember Dier Yassin; it, too, is immortalized;
-- Tel Litvinsky, April 19, 1948 - Jews killed 90 Palestinians;
-- Tiberias, April 19, 1948 - Jews blew up a home killing Palestinians inside;
-- Ayn al-Zaytun and nearby villages, May 1 - 4, 1948 - 27 Palestinians killed;
-- Acre, May 18, 1948 - Israeli troops killed over 100 Palestinians;
-- al-Kabri, May 20, 1948 - Israeli forces killed villagers and machine-gunned children who survived;
-- al-Tantura, May 22 - 23, 1948 - Israeli troops killed over 200 villagers, mostly unarmed young men shot in cold blood;
-- on May 26, 1948, David Ben-Gurion formed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from the Haganah;
-- Lydda, July 11 - 12, 1948 - the IDF killed several hundred civilians, including 80 machine-gunned inside the Dahmash mosque;
-- Elot, late July, 1948 - the IDF arrested 46 young men; on August 3, several were found dead, and 14 of those arrested were shot in cold blood in an olive grove - in full view of the villagers;
-- Suqrir, August 29, 1948 - the IDF killed 10 villagers;
-- Hula, Lebanon, October 24 - 29, 1948 - the IDF machine-gunned 50 villagers;
-- al-Dawayima, October 29, 1948 - the IDF killed up to 200 villagers;
-- Majd al-Kurum, October 30, 1948 - the IDF slaughtered 20 or more villagers in cold blood;
-- Saliha, October 30, 1948 - IDF forces blew up a house killing 94 Palestinians;
-- Sa'sa', October 30, 1948 - hundreds of Palestinians were slaughtered in cold blood; the entire village was expelled;
-- Nahf, October 31, 1948 - a brutal massacre was carried out of unknown numbers;
-- Khirbat al-Wa'ra al-Sawda, November 2, 1948 - the IDF killed 14 villagers;
-- Beit Jala, January 6, 1952 - seven Palestinians were slaughtered in cold blood;
-- Jerusalem, April 22, 1953 - the IDF killed 10 Palestinians;
-- Bureji Refugee Camp, August 28, 1953 - the IDF killed 20 Palestinians and wounded 62 others;
-- Qibya, Jordan, October 14, 1953 - Ariel Sharon's infamous Unit 101 killed 70 villagers;
-- Nahalin, Jordan, March 28, 1954 - the IDF killed nine Arabs and wounded 19;
-- Gaza City, April 5, 1956 - IDF shelling killed 56 and wounded 193;
-- Kafr Kassem, October 29, 1956 - the IDF killed about 50 men, women and children;
-- the Suez War, October 29 - November 7, 1956 - the IDF executed about 273 Egyptian soldiers and civilians in cold blood;
-- Khan Yunis, November 3, 1956 - the IDF killed dozens of civilians in cold blood;
-- Rafah Refugee Camp, November 12, 1956 - the IDF slaughtered over 100 Palestinians;
-- Nuqeibi, Syria, March 16 - 17, 1962 - IDF artillery and aircraft killed at least 30 unarmed villagers;
-- Samu, Jordan, November 13, 1966 - the IDF destroyed 125 houses, a school, clinic and 15 houses in a nearby village killing 18 and wounded 54 in cold blood;
-- the Six-Day War, June 5 - 11, 1967 - IDF forces preemptively and without cause attacked Egypt, Syria and Jordan; they massacred as many as 2000 helpless or captured Egyptian soldiers; killed about 340 Syrian villagers in the Golan Heights and displaced more than 300,000 Palestinians who fled to the Jordan River's east bank along with others to Lebanon, Egypt and Syria;
-- the USS Liberty incident, June 8, 1967 - Israeli forces attacked and killed 34 Americans and wounded 171 in international waters; a Department of Defense inquiry whitewashed it as a case of "mistaken identity" despite clear knowledge it was a willful attack on a US naval intelligence vessel;
-- Rafah Refugee Camp, June 1967 - the IDF killed 23 Palestinians and buried them in a mass grave;
-- following the Six Day War, June 1967, 56 Palestinians were shot in cold blood trying to cross the Jordan River to the West Bank;
-- February 21, 1973, the IDF shot down Libya Airlines Flight 114 killing 106 passengers, including one American;
-- Hebron, February 25, 1994 - Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 praying Palestinians;
-- the First (1987 - 1992) and Second (2000 - 2005) Intifadas - thousands of Palestinians were killed and injured during IDF rampages against them;
-- the 1982 Lebanon invasion and occupation; 18,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed, including 3000 massacred in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps;
-- Jenin, 2002 - the most infamous of numerous massacres during the Second Intifada; the IDF invaded the city and refugee camp; cut them off from outside help; destroyed hundreds of buildings; buried many alive in them under rubble; cut off power and water as well as food and other essential to life supplies; refused to allow in help, including medical aid; and killed and wounded dozens of Palestinian civilians; some accounts cite hundreds as Israeli forces swept up bodies and buried them to avoid an accurate count;
-- the summer 2006 33-day (Second) Lebanon War - the IDF inflicted mass terror attacks and destruction throughout the country; around 1300 were killed; many more were wounded; one million (or one-fourth of the population) were displaced; and most vital infrastructure was destroyed to bring the country to a halt;
-- the June 2006 Operation Summer Rain against Gaza; all border crossings were closed isolating the Territory and preventing essential to life supplies from getting in; air strikes and shellings were used; three main bridges were destroyed; the main water pipe for the Nusairat and al-Boreji refugee camps as well as the Strip's only power plant supplying 80% of the Territory's electricity; the IDF moved into Gaza and took control;
-- the assault followed a series of bloody Israeli attacks: a weekend beach shelling killing eight Palestinians, including seven members of one family; 32 others were injured, including 13 children; a highway missile attack killing 11 and injuring 30; another missile attack killing three children and wounding 15;
-- during the same period, the IDF conducted around 50 incursions into Palestinian West Bank communities; farmland was razed; homes were raided; dozens taken into custody, including children; on June 29, nearly the entire Hamas leadership was arrested, including eight cabinet ministers, 25 PLC members from the Change and Reform Party, and other Hamas officials.
Palestinians have endured all of the above and far more for over 60 years, 41 under occupation:
-- many thousands of Palestinians were killed, injured, imprisoned, and tortured; since 1967, over 700,000 have been incarcerated; the great majority are tortured; many are held uncharged in administrative detention; anywhere from 10 - 12,000 Palestinians or more remain in prison at all times;
-- rampaging military incursions occur repeatedly throughout Occupied Palestine; in November 2007 alone, 786 West Bank raids were conducted; several Palestinians were killed; dozens wounded; and around 400 arrested; in addition, public and private properties were damaged; crops destroyed; land seized; curfews imposed; and free movement was and remains severely restricted;
-- in addition, settlement expansions seize West Bank land; the Separation Wall is taking another 10%; Palestinians have few rights, and since Hamas won a January 2006 PLC majority none at all in Gaza; desperation now plagues them with the Territory under siege, and approaches disaster since Israel launched late December terror bombings and ground and offshore attacks.
Professor Joseph Massad on Gaza Under Attack
Columbia University Professor and Middle East expert Joseph Massad, a Palestinian American, wrote this about Israel's Gaza attack and invasion:
-- "Since 2006, Arab regimes, neoliberal Arab intellectuals (in America and elsewhere), as well as (Fatah under president Mahmoud Abbas and appointed prime minister Salam Fayyad) reached an understanding that only Israel will be able to save them from Hizbollah and Hamas, both organizations constituting a threat to the open alliance Arab regimes have with the US and Israel against Iran and all progressive forces in the region;"
-- "A veritable open alliance now exists between (Fatah), Arab regimes, and Israel (with neoliberal intellectual Arab support), wherein Israel is subcontracted to decimate the Hamas government - the only democratically elected government in the entire Arab world," and therein lies its problem; Washington and Israel won't tolerate democracies; they want repressive regimes they can control; Fatah is a collaborationist ally; Abbas and Fayyad its quisling leadership; Massad calls this "treachery;" it and other Arab regimes "rule by terror and fear;"
-- Israel's carnage is its latest attempt "to ensure that all Arabs and all Palestinians are ruled by dictators and never by democratically elected officials;" Fatah and world powers approve; nonetheless, Palestinians "understand very well that Abbas, his clique, the Arab regimes, the US and Europe are all culpable in their slaughter" as is Israel; they're all "co-conspirators and active partners in crime."
The IDF performs admirably against defenseless civilians. The aftermath, however, is another matter. "Palestinian determination" is strong enough to make Fatah and Abbas "losers" provided popular resistance won't let Israel conquer populations, steal their land, destroy their livelihoods, imprison them in ghettos, and starve them into submission.
For the last century, Zionists haven't learned that "the Palestinian yearning for freedom (can't) be extinguished no matter how barbaric Israel's crimes become," how collaborationist are other Arab regimes, or how traitorous are some of their own people like Fatah. "The Gaza Ghetto Uprising will" continue their proud resistance never to "accept the legitimacy of a racist European colonial settlement in their midst."
Collaborationist Fatah West Bank Crackdowns
On January 8, AP reported that with Gaza fighting raging, West Bank police violently suppressed pro-Gaza demonstrations. "It's as if Gaza has become another country," said university student Mohammed Akram standing next to pictures showing injured Gazans. "You watch TV and see an entire family killed by a missile," said Hossam Salim. "They're not militants or Hamas or anything."
Other reports said PA police assaulted street demonstrators, focusing mainly on anyone carrying Hamas green flags. Violence and arrests followed as Abbas won't let street protests become large, persistent, or openly hostile to Israel. Demonstrators were shocked that police attacked them for supporting their own people in Gaza. Abbas has orders to crack down, and some say he's "on the side of the Jews."
The Jerusalem Post highlights a Fatah - IDF "Iron Fist" policy, a massive crackdown, against all opposition. Reporters and photographers are threatened and assaulted. It's too early to tell, but Massad believes this may backfire and defeat Abbas.
The New York Times may agree. In a January 14 article, correspondent Isabel Kershner headlined: "War on Hamas Saps Palestinian Leaders." She says Fatah and Abbas "seem increasingly beleaguered and marginalized, even in the Palestinian cities....they control....The more bombs in Gaza, the more Hamas' support (grows) at the expense of the (PA)." It wants control over Gaza, but according to Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib: "How can it make gains in a war in which it is one of the casualties?"
As a result, Hamas (like Hezbollah in Lebanon) is more popular than ever - among their own people and the Arab street. They represent popular resistance against colonial rule and complicit Arab regimes. If history is a guide, oppression in the end won't work. It provokes anger, dissent and revolt, then liberation. Palestinian unity must denounce Fatah and Abbas, back Hamas, support its popular resistance, and continue struggling for peace, social justice, self-determination, and freedom.
Israeli Human Rights Violations in a Typical Week
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) compiles them daily for its weekly report. It's disturbing reading even without conflict and affects the West Bank as well as Gaza. Palestine is under military occupation. It's oppressive, illegal and continuous for the past 41 years.
PCHR gives detailed daily accounts of the Gaza slaughter. It also reports on Israel's West Bank oppression with collaborationist Fatah PA (Palestinian Authority) help. Abbas blamed Hamas for the violence, and prime minister Salam Fayyad said nothing to condemn it for the first 13 days of fighting. Afterwards, he made tepid comments, more indicative of complicity than condemnation. Why so? He's a former IMF and World Bank official with no standing among his people. In the 2006 PLC elections, he got 2.4% of the vote as a measure of his illegitimacy. He and Abbas are Israeli tools, enforcers, with considerable Western aid and weapons.
PCHR's West Bank report states:
"IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) have continued to impose severe restrictions on (free movement), including (in) occupied East Jerusalem." It cites hundreds of checkpoints, roadblocks, closed and controlled roads, and the illegal "Annexation Wall" that will stretch 724 kilometers when finished. It mentions continued assaults, killings, harassments, searches, neighborhood incursions, arrests, and numerous other indignities against a traumatized people like Gazans:
-- two-thirds of West Bank roads between Palestinian communities are closed and/or fully militarized; 500 kilometers of roads are restricted;
-- one-third of the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem, is off-limits to Palestinians without a military permit; very few are available;
-- from January 8 - 14, six Palestinians, including two women were arrested at checkpoints;
-- on January 8 in Hebron, Israeli forces raided homes; arrested two brothers; and shot and killed Ibrahim Shamlawi in cold blood;
-- the IDF fired on al-Fawar refugee camp demonstrators wounding two, including a child;
-- on January 9 in Madama village southwest of Nablus, the IDF raided homes and arrested three men plus another in Nablus;
-- another man was arrested in Qabatya village, southeast of Jenin; homes were raided and searched;
-- in two East Jerusalem areas, Israeli police, border guards and undercover units fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and sound bombs on young men and children demonstrating; dozens of children were treated for tear gas inhalation;
- in Hawara village, south of Nablus, Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, and southern Hebron, the IDF fired on demonstrators, wounded five men and one child, and arrested two others;
-- on January 10 in Azmout village, northeast of Nablus, homes were raided and searched;
-- in Sa'ir village, northeast of Hebron, the IDF fired on demonstrators, wounding three;
-- on January 11 in Beit al-Roush village, southwest of Hebron, homes were raided and searched;
-- in Askar refugee camp, northeast of Nablus, more homes were raided, searched and one man was arrested;
-- on January in Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, homes were raided, searched, and two men were arrested;
-- in Sa'ir village, northeast of Hebron, homes were raided, searched, and one young teenager was arrested, age 14;
-- on January 13 near Kiryat Arba settlement and Jouhar Mount in east Hebron, dozens of homes were raided and searched;
-- in Dura village, southwest of Hebron, homes were raided, searched and two men arrested;
-- in Beit Oula village, northwest of Hebron, homes were raided, searched and one man arrested;
-- in Ethna village, northwest of Hebron, the IDF shot and killed one man while he was farming his land; according to witnesses, he was handcuffed, blindfolded, and violently beaten for hours, then fired on and killed at point blank range;
-- on January 14 in Awa village, southwest of Hebron, homes were raided, searched and six men arrested;
-- in Sa'ir village, northeast of Hebron, homes were raided, searched and one teenager arrested; and
-- in Kufor Qallil village, east of Nablus, homes were raided, searched and another teenager arrested.
On January 19 (for next week's PCHR's report), sources indicate that the IDF "kidnapped seven Palestinian civilians" during morning pre-dawn West Bank city and town invasions.
Under military occupation, this is daily West Bank life today made harsher by oppressive Fatah security enforcement for Israel. New checkpoints, restrictions, curfews, and other measures are imposed at any time - against peaceful, non-combatant civilians. Palestinians live in daily fear of being harassed, arrested, tortured, or killed. Under siege and terror attacks, conditions in Gaza are worse, but no place in Occupied Palestine is safe, "ceasefire," or no "ceasefire."
Gaza Aggression Timeline
On December 27 without cause, Israeli aircraft launched terror bombings on Gaza - not coincidentally timed for when children were leaving and arriving at school. Relentless round-the-clock attacks have continued for over three weeks. Ceasefire negotiations continue. Under immense pressure and with US collaboration, IDF assaults may pause. This section reviews the timeline.
December 27 - Day One:
At 11:25AM, an initial "shock and awe" attack was launched with 60 aircraft hitting 50 targets simultaneously. By early afternoon, over 100 tons of bombs had fallen. Around 230 deaths were reported and 400 injured, many seriously. Most victims were civilians, many women and children. The same pattern continues daily. From 80 - 90% of casualties are non-combatants according to medical authorities and three human rights organizations on the ground. News reports and independent observers called December 27 the bloodiest day in Occupied Palestine since the 1967 Six Day War.
Deaths rose to about 300, injuries to around 900. Dozens of round-the-clock sorties were flown plus helicopter and naval vessel attacks and tanks shellings from inside Israel. Targets from the start included government buildings, the parliament building, police stations, roads, a main water pipe, fuel tanks, schools, the Islamic University of Gaza, mosques, power facilities, sewage systems, TV stations, fishing boats, animal farms, charities, a mental health center, pharmacies, the main prison, ambulances, medical storage warehouses, private dwellings, commercial buildings, workshops, the control room of a telecommunications company - Gaza's entire infrastructure network and civilian neighborhoods. The Territory is being reduced to dysfunction and ruin. The idea is to render Hamas impotent and let Fatah control all Occupied Palestine.
Around 335 deaths and 1400 injured have been counted. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights(PCHR) reported that dozens of missiles hit "civilian facilities and mosques in densely populated areas (including refugee camps). In (one) very horrible crime (over night to early early morning), 22 Palestinian children were killed or wounded" while asleep at home.
Deaths are up to 360. Injuries exceed 1400. PCHR reported that 23 private homes so far were bombed and 37 other civilian facilities.
Deaths are now 390 and 1600 injured. PCHR reported that Israel "used fighter jets, helicopter gunships, drones and gunboats to launch hundreds of barbarian indiscriminate raids....with disregard for the (welfare), security and safety of the (entire) civilian population (and) vital services" they need. The humanitarian situation is "desperate."
By New Year's day, deaths were up to 400 with 1700 injured.
Death and injury tolls mount - up to 420 killed and 1850 wounded, many so seriously they won't survive. Senior Hamas resistance leader Dr. Nizar Rayan was killed at home along with his wife and 11 of his children. PCHR reported that in the last 24 hours aircraft bombed and completely destroyed eight homes and a family meeting hall in Gaza City, 11 others in northern Gaza plus dozens of badly damaged neighboring homes in both locations. Six more were destroyed in central Gaza and three in Rafah. In the first seven days, 66 private homes were destroyed and their inhabitants killed or wounded.
Around 100 children and women so far were killed. More private homes and refugee camps are targeted. The New York Times reported that "Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night opening a ground war....after a week of intense airstrikes."
Around 455 deaths are reported and 2300 injured. In one horrific incident, aircraft bombed a Jabalya mosque in northern Gaza killing 15 civilians, four children, and injuring 27 others. Ambulances trying to reach the wounded are attacked. AP reported that "Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swarths through the Gaza Strip on early Sunday, cutting the (Territory) into two and surrounding its biggest city (as the offensive) gained momentum."
Deaths reached 510. Injuries exceeded 2300. Daily counts are the best estimates. PCHR reported that Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza and fighting was intense in "densely populated residential areas;" whole families have been killed in attacks, many inside their homes.
Deaths total 600 and injuries around 2400, including 130 children, 33 women and six medical personnel according to PCHR. Its investigations show "at least 90%" of Palestinian killed in the past few days are civilians. Everything is coming under fire. Israeli tanks shelled an UNWRA school used as a shelter killing at least 40 civilians inside. No place is safe. There's nowhere to hide. Gaza is totally isolated, surrounded, and cut off.
Deaths jumped to 660 and injuries to 2800. The entire Strip is bombarded. Everything is targeted, including medical personnel and journalists. The enormity of the crimes is appalling. International community silence is shameful. Mass killing and destruction continue. No relief so far is in sight.
Deaths exceeded 700, including 169 children and 46 women. Injuries hit 3000. PCHR reported that even hospitals are attacked.
Deaths reached 760 and injuries around 3100. Thus far, 189 children, 50 women and six medical personnel have been killed.
The death toll hit 800. Injuries topped 3100. PCHR reported that the IDF "continued to attack and obstruct the work of medical, civil defense crews and humanitarian relief crews....(Israel) intends to cause maximum deaths and casualties among Palestinian civilians, and maximum destruction to their property."
Deaths numbered 852 with injuries up to 3200. PCHR reported that bombings against residential neighborhoods have been relentless, and ground operations expanded into more Palestinian towns, villages and residential areas. The IDF is using incendiary white phosphorous bombs "against civilians." They're shelling them with "flaming objects that explode into potentially lethal shrapnel while releasing suffocating white smoke." Severe burns to the bone, spasms, serious breathing difficulties, severed limbs, and other injuries are reported, many life-threatening.
Targeting civilians with white phosphorous (called Willy Pete) is illegal. It works by interacting with oxygen to produce fire and smoke for use as smokescreens or as a terror weapon. It's an incendiary like napalm and thermites. As a weapon, it can destroy an enemy's equipment, limit vision, or burn flesh to the bone. Exposure to the smoke can also cause liver, kidney, heart, lung, other organ damage and death. Ingesting it causes throat and lung blistering until victims suffocate while phosphorous burns their insides. Israeli forces are using this against civilians along with other terror weapons.
They're also forcing people from their homes, holding them in detention, treating them inhumanely, denying them food and water, and using them as human shields during clashes with Palestinian resistance fighters. Amnesty International's Israeli investigator Donatella Rovera told the London Guardian that:
"It's standard practice for Israeli soldiers to go into a house, lock up the family in a room on the ground floor, and use the rest of the house as a military base, as a sniper's position. That is the absolute textbook case of human shields." Other instances involved forcing Gazans at gunpoint to precede them into buildings to shield them from possible attack. The 1907 Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva Convention prohibit these practices. Its Article 27 states:
"Protected (non-combatant) persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons....They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence...."
Its Article 28 states:
"The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points immune from military operations." Civilians may not be placed alongside soldiers or military facilities to deter attacks on them.
Articles 31 and 51 also prohibit use of physical or moral coercion to force civilians to perform military tasks. Nonetheless, Israel uses these tactics repeatedly in defiance of its own High Court ruling against them.
Deaths reached 885 and injuries 3900. Indiscriminate attacks continued. The great majority of casualties are civilians. At least 211 are children.
On January 12, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC - the successor body to its Commission on Human Rights) passed a Cuba-sponsored resolution condemning Israel's aggression and recommending international observers investigate atrocities on the ground. The vote was 33 ayes, one nay (Canada), and 13 abstentions by Germany, represented EU nations, South Korea, Switzerland, and others. Countries in support included Russia, China, Brazil and Argentina. America isn't a member.
Deaths hit 910 and injuries 4250.
Terror bombings and savage ground attacks continued round-the-clock. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that confirmed deaths passed 1000 and over 4580 have been injured, many seriously with hundreds "clinically" dead. A Gaza City municipal facility was struck by a blast described as enormous. A central Gaza City cemetery was also hit spreading body parts and rotting flesh over a wide area and simultaneously destroying homes in Sheikh Radwan. Jabaliya Refugee camp was targeted with deaths reported, and Israeli tanks continue to shell houses in densely populated areas.
Entire neighborhoods have been leveled. Agricultural land has been razed. Attacks continue night and day. PCHR cites the "massive forced internal displacement of the civilian population of Gaza City" and other targeted areas.
Reuters, Haaretz, and the Egyptian news agency MENA reported that with changes Hamas may be ready to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Hamas leader Salah Al-Bardawil praised Egypt's initiative as "the only one calling for an immediate stop to Israeli aggression."
Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan told Al-Jazeera that changes still must be made. "There are still points of difference" so far unresolved. "The initiative in its present form does not realize the (Palestinian national) interest. Specific points have to be changed....We believe there is no initiative which cannot be modified or changed."
Key sticking points remain, including Israel wanting Fatah (the PA) in charge of administering Gaza's reconstruction and controlling its borders - essentially empowering the Abbas - Fayyad government in Gaza as well as the West Bank and neutralizing Hamas.
Other problems also exist, according to Deputy chairman of Hamas' Political Bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk. He told Al-Arabiya television that:
"Israel did not abide by any of the previous truce conditions, and therefore there must be a short and pre-defined period between each stage that would allow us to evaluate the situation and agree to move on to the next stage."
In addition, Abbas' presidential term expired on January 9. He claims the right to retain it for another year until January 2010 parliamentary elections are held. Hamas disagrees and no longer recognizes him as president. Its spokesman, Mushir al-Masri said: "He's in power only because the Israelis and Americans want him to stay."
Either way, Hamas PLC representative Salah al-Bardawil said ceasefire negotiations seek the following goals: ending Israel's aggression; withdrawing all Israeli troops from Gaza; lifting the siege; reopening border crossings, rehabilitating the Strip, and compensating Gaza residents for the damage. From Damascus, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal offered the same terms and said: "We will not accept any political movement that doesn't satisfy these demands."
White House spokesperson Dana Perino said: "We have every right to be skeptical of things that you see in the newspaper reported about Hamas. And so I think we need to wait and see what actually happens. And as things develop, we'll comment from there." A State Department official added that Hamas hasn't met ceasefire terms. "It's not a done deal. There are a number of Hamas conditions that (have) to be dealt with." It's clear that means empowering Fatah and neutralizing Hamas.
Haaretz: "Gaza City hospital (Al-Quds) in flames after hit in Hamas-IDF fighting." Thousands of Palestinians fled in fear as Israeli tanks stormed the city and shelled it, including randomly on residential areas. At the same time, terror bombings continued round the clock. Before midday, confirmed deaths reached 1097 (including 335 children) plus around 5000 injured (including 400 children). Over 400 of the injured are in critical condition.
Israeli aircraft bombed UNWRA headquarters, injuring three employees and attacked two other hospitals from the air and ground. The IDF surrounded Al-Aqsa Hospital, according to volunteers inside. No one can get in or out. Reuters also reported that a media compound was attacked. Several injuries were reported. An IDF spokesperson said attacks will continue despite reports that Hamas may be near accepting an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
Hamas confirmed that its Interior Minister, Sa'ed Sayam and six others (including his son, brother and internal security department chief, Saleh Abu Sharekh) were killed when Israeli aircraft bombed his home.
Gaza Professor Said Abdelwahed emailed that his "neighborhood is under total control of Israeli army tanks, infantry and others after 13 hours of bombing and raiding. Snipers are outside (his) door." His later emailed included photos of his building that was damaged by shelling.
At the same time, Israeli gunboats intercepted another mercy ship (the Spirit of Humanity) in international waters. On board were doctors, journalists, European parliament members, and desperately needed medical supplies.
Bolivian President Evo Morales joined Hugo Chavez in severing diplomatic ties with Israel and said he'll ask the International Criminal Court to bring "genocide" charges against its government. He also denounced UN inaction and called for Shimon Peres to be stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize for supporting the slaughter.
Reports say the IDF "kidnapped" five West Bank Palestinians in pre-dawn raids, 60 more in Hebron since January 1, and others in Jenin and elsewhere. At the same time, foreign minister Livni "urge(d) the Red Cross (ICRC) to press Hamas for access to (the captured Israeli soldier) Gilad Shalit," according to "News Agencies" reports. She rises to new heights of hypocrisy.
While Gaza attacks continue, the Lebanese daily Al Safir reported a build-up of Israeli tanks, military vessels and Apache helicopters on its border:
"The Israeli army has mobilized its troops along the (southern) border from the western Lebanese village of Naqurah to the southern border village of Al Wazzani." As a result, the Lebanese army and Hezbollah are on high alert, and why not. Lebanon may be next according to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya's January 18 "Israel's Next War" article on Global Research.ca. He cites reports that:
"This war is already in the advanced planning stage. In November 2008....the Israeli military held drills for a two-front war against Lebanon and Syria called Shiluv Zro'ot III (Crossing Arms III). The military exercise included a massive simulated invasion of both Syria and Lebanon. (Earlier), Tel Aviv also warned Beirut that it would declare war on the whole of Lebanon and not just Hezbollah."
Given Israel's past aggression on the country, this threat must be taken seriously. It may also be Obama's baptism of fire proof that permanent "wars on terror" will continue on his watch - against Lebanon, perhaps Iran, Syria, Pakistan, and so forth to solidify US hegemony while diverting attention from the collapsing the domestic economy.
Casualties keep mounting. The latest confirmed death toll is 1133. Over 5150 have been injured. Israel is using Egypt to pressure Hamas to surrender. Abbas is on board in support. Khaled Meshal said never. "Israel will not be able to destroy our resistance, and the United States will not be able to dictate us their rules." They don't negotiate, they demand.
Hamas' spokesman in Lebanon, Usama Hamdan, said it will ignore an Israeli unilateral ceasefire agreement. "Either we hear what we have demanded or the result will be the continuation of the confrontation on the ground."
Meanwhile, reports claim Israeli forces are shooting Gazans waving white flags. On January 13, B'Tselem stated:
"Munir Shafik a-Najar (said) the army has been demolishing houses in his area." They use gunfire and loudspeakers ordering people out of their homes. "Rawhiya a-Najar stepped out of her house waving a white flag" and was shot in the head. Others were ordered to a school in a village center and were shot in cold blood. Casualties included three dead and many wounded.
General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann called Israel's assault "genocide" and told Al-Jazeera that he never believed the Security Council would do a thing. How can it with Washington vetoing all resolutions against Israel.
Confirmed deaths reached 1205. Injuries top 5300 with hundreds in critical condition. Six people were killed, including a woman and two of her children, when aircraft fired missiles at an UNWRA Beit Lahyia school used as a shelter. White phosphorous incendiaries and DIME weapons (that shred flesh to pieces) were used in the fourth attack on a UN school. In each case, Israel had the coordinates, knew the facilities were shelters, and shelled them anyway. Haaretz reported that a UN official wants "an investigation into possible war crimes...and that anyone who is guilty should be brought to justice."
In similar instances, Israel accuses Hamas of firing from schools, mosques, and civilian neighborhoods - the blame game, always against the victims to absolve the aggressor.
Meanwhile, Israel's cabinet will consider a "unilateral" ceasefire, according to Haaretz (and then declared it), in the wake of Washington and Tel Aviv signing a Friday agreement to:
-- "work cooperatively with neighbors....to prevent the supply of arms and related material to terrorist organizations....with a particular focus on" Gaza and Hamas;
-- NATO partners will be involved;
-- enhanced "US security and intelligence cooperation with regional governments" will as well;
-- enhanced "existing international sanctions and enforcement mechanisms" also;
-- "the United States and Israel will assist each other in these efforts" through intelligence sharing;
-- "the United States will accelerate its efforts to provide logistical and technical assistance and to train and equip regional security forces....;" and more.
In other words, Washington will reward Israeli aggression and war crimes with more aid and support. After a Tizpi Livni - Condoleezza Rice Washington meeting, the deal was done, but according to Livni, "If Hamas shoots, we'll have to continue. And if it shoots later on, we'll have to embark on another campaign."
For now, however, it appears that Israel and the Bush administration will quiet things down for the January 20 transition of power. Call it a "no-ceasefire" ceasefire, a pause, a conditional one, not a meaningful cessation of hostilities. Gaza is still occupied, under siege, isolated and alone. The Palestinian liberation struggle continues.
Overnight, Israel, as expected, announced a "no-ceasefire" ceasefire (beginning 2AM January 18), but vowed to assess the situation "minute-by-minute (and) respond with force" freely at any time. No Hamas demands were met. The occupation and siege continue. Borders will stay closed. Gaza remains isolated. The IDF keeps killing civilians. New deaths and injuries are reported. Corpses are being unearthed under rubble. The official known death toll exceeds 1300 but will rise considerably as new bodies are discovered.
Among the dead - 417 children, 108 women, 120 elderly, 14 medical personnel, and at least four journalists. Injuries exceed 5450. Dr. Muawiya Hassanen of the Palestinian Ministry of Health said dozens are still missing and believed dead.
Israel's Channel 10 reported that the IDF used half its air force over the past three weeks. It flew over 2500 sorties, dropped over 1000 tons of explosives plus tanks, artillery and navel vessels fired hundreds of shells from land and sea. Nonetheless, Hamas held firm and vows to resist until Gaza is free. Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said:
"A unilateral ceasefire does not mean ending the aggression and ending the siege. These constitute acts of war so this won't mean an end to resistance." Nonetheless, on January 18, Hamas official in Cairo, Ayman Taha, announced a temporary ceasefire to "give Israel a week to withdraw," open all border crossings, and allow in "all materials, food, goods, and basic needs." Other Gaza resistance groups, except the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), agreed to honor the truce. It rejects a ceasefire, insists that "Israeli attack(s are) continuing," and said "armed resistance (will) continue as long as there is one Israeli soldier in Gaza."
For now, explosions are still heard in parts of the Strip. Reports also say shells hit a group of Rafah residents, and white phosphorous bombs struck the At-Tuffah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City. Also an attack helicopter shot at civilians in Jabaliya. So much for the "ceasefire" that can start and stop as Israel chooses in spite of Israeli Channel 10 reporting Israeli tanks and soldiers redeploying from deep inside Gaza positions. Israeli aircraft are still active overhead and naval vessels control coastal areas
Medical crews report "horrifying scenes" of dead bodies "found in pieces." Many are women and children. Images reveal mass destruction, death and despair.
New York Times Apologetics for Israeli War Crimes
On January 16, Jerusalem-based Steven Erlanger headlined: "Weighing Crimes and Ethics in the Fog of Urban Warfare" in typical New York Times fashion. Poor Israel. Despite three weeks of round the clock war crimes against isolated, beleaguered, and defenseless civilians, he quotes Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev saying that the IDF makes every effort "Not to target civilians, not to target UN people, not to target medical staff. All this is very clear in Israeli military doctrine" in spite of clear contradictory evidence.
Tel Aviv University's Asa Kashar helped write Israel's military ethical code. Erlanger cites him calling the IDF's ethical and legal standards high and conscientiously taught to its military. Another unnamed Israeli chief army legal officer as well saying war crimes charges are "deeply unfair and unjust."
He dismisses attacks on civilian neighborhoods, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, schools, UN shelters, Gaza's entire infrastructure, and civilians with no weapons waving white cloths. He cites Israeli claims of being attacked and responding, with no evidence to prove it. He quotes Israeli officials denying collective punishment and claiming no humanitarian crisis exists. He mentions Major Dallal saying: the fundamental question is "How does an army fight a terrorist group?"
Most fundamental is how The New York Times fronts for Israel, conceals its state terrorism, war crimes, and Washington's complicity in their commission.
A Final Comment
So far, it hardly matters whether or not a ceasefire holds. What does matter is growing world outrage, millions globally condemning Israeli terrorism, and potentially gathering enough momentum to matter. It's crucial to maintain pressure, demand Israeli war criminals be punished, and build a world movement for sanctions, divestment, boycott, isolation and UN General Assembly expulsion until Israel complies with international law, ends the Gaza siege, the occupation of Palestine, makes just restitution, grants Palestinians self-determination, and is held accountable before the International Criminal Court or a special tribunal for Israel.
On July 9, 2005, the Global BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) called for action until Israel "complies with international law and universal principles of human rights." It's long past time to stop inaction, timidity, and weak-kneed indecisiveness.
Since its illegitimate May 14, 1948 birth, Israel defiled the rule of law, abused its neighbors, committed genocide against the Palestinians, stole their land and future, and affronted all humanity with its arrogance. It's high time these practices end and Israel be held to account. If not now, when? If not by us, who? If that's not incentive enough, what is?