By Ramona Wadi
Israeli “human shield” rhetoric is — at its best — a marketing scheme misrepresenting reality and — at its worst — an excuse for exterminating the Palestinian population
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Discourse regarding Hamas’ alleged use of Palestinian civilians as human shields remains widespread, as Israel strives to contain increasing international condemnation and outrage over the atrocities of Operation Protective Edge.
Of course, the context of “international” must be defined in order to accommodate different and diverging narratives. Israel’s allies do not fall into the condemning category — rather, they promulgate the “human shields” accusation against Hamas in a feeble attempt to retain hegemonic assertions. Combine “human shields” with “legitimacy,” though, and the equation for blatant misrepresentation is perfect.
With Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression numbering more than 1,000, pressure on Israel to explain the deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians through the Israeli Defense Force’s lauded precision strikes is growing stronger. In an attempt to ward off criticism, Israel has launched a new marketing strategy: “Hamas sacrifices Gaza for its extremism.” The idea behind the campaign, as explained in the Jerusalem Post, is to deflect blame from Israel and onto Hamas. According to an unnamed Israeli official paraphrased in the Jerusalem Post, “Israel wanted to impress upon the world that it is not as if the battle started elsewhere and ‘rolled into civilian areas’ like Shejaia, but rather that Hamas set up its command centers, rocket launchers and attack tunnels in the civilian areas to begin with.” The implicit message is that Hamas’ “extremism” forced the commencement of the current massacre, thus relieving Israel of any liability.
Evidence collected by Defence for Children International Palestine regarding Israeli troops’ conduct on various occasions testifies to Israel’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. Furthermore, video evidence clearly portrays the manipulations of the Israeli military in their West Bank incursions. In one video, Israeli soldiers detain Palestinian children to stand in front of a military jeep and force a Palestinian teenager to stand at gunpoint while a house is searched.
In the current context — which, according to Israel, renders the entirety of Gaza a legitimate target — Hamas is blamed for anticipating and wanting an extreme Palestinian death toll to garner unbridled sympathy. On July 20, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Hamas needs an abundance of “telegenically dead Palestinians” to further its cause.
Netanyahu also erroneously declared that Israel uses weapons to protect its “civilians” — which should read settler-colonialists — while Hamas uses civilians to protect its weapons. In addition, the IDF’s Twitter account has kept up a steady stream of propaganda mainly consisting of “terror tunnel” discoveries and detonations, including statements such as “Gaza terrorists could have used this tunnel to abduct or murder Israelis. We found & detonated before they could.” Never mind the uncertainty regarding whether the tunnel was used or not — tunnels have become an integral part of Israel’s violent rhetoric, rather than Hamas’ allegedly “terrorist” actions.
The IDF’s Twitter account is also obsessed with interpreting “Hamas’ world” according to Israeli conjecture that is permanently disassociated from the ramifications of settler-colonialism, forced displacement, and the Gaza siege. The world is informed that “hospitals are command centers, ambulances are transport vehicles and medics are human shields.” In more accurate wording, the statement reflects Israel’s predisposition to display its military capabilities on any given target and its abundant contempt for international law.
Much emphasis has been placed on allegations of Hamas utilizing U.N. Relief and Works Agency schools to store weapons — a topic that has been exhausted by the Jerusalem Post — resulting in the incessant bombing of facilities even after UNRWA admitted the alleged weapons were handed over to officials with the unity government.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted on July 24, “Over the course of the day UNRWA tried to coordinate with the Israeli Army a window for civilians to leave and it was never granted.”
Human shields rhetoric, therefore, is little more than an excuse for Israel to murder the greatest number of Palestinian civilians possible, leaving UNRWA staff and other Palestinians to gather mutilated bodies and severed limbs into plastic bags for a semblance of a decent burial.
An enclave of incarceration
Rather than insisting upon the human shield rhetoric, it is imperative to focus on Gaza as an incarcerated enclave. Israel has recently started advocating for the demilitarization of Gaza as a step to further the subjugation of the resistant population that is thriving despite increasing hardships and isolation, in particular following the rise to the presidency of Egypt’s Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who closed the Rafah border crossing and aided Israel in its initial pursuit of destroying the Gaza tunnels — Palestinians’ only link to the world beyond the enclave.
Operation Protective Edge has reinforced the focus on Gaza’s reality through inscribing indiscriminate and unjustified murder upon the entire enclave. Perpetuating false reassurances, Israel then claims that Palestinians are being used as human shields, despite absolute evidence to the contrary, and it blames Hamas for firing rockets from civilian and densely populated areas — hence, the one-sided justification of Israeli-inflicted carnage.
If rockets are stored and fired from civilian areas, the blame lies solely with the creation of Israel in 1948 and its subsequent maintenance, which, among other human rights violations, has created unsustainable conditions in Gaza that can only be repelled through resistance, not diplomacy. So far, diplomacy has failed to address issues such as restrictions placed upon education, the deprivation of basic services such as water, as well as the lack of freedom of movement exacerbated by the reality of incessant forced displacement faced by Gazans living there.
Blaming Hamas for the ramifications of colonial violence perverts history and manipulates the present reality. Just as the endless charters allegedly meant to safeguard human rights were created as a response to human rights violations, Palestinian resistance is a response to the illegal existence of Israel’s settler-colonial state. The imposition of Israel upon Palestinian territory fuelled Palestinian resistance as a rightful and legitimate measure for liberation. Since Israel’s ongoing colonial massacre, the liberation of historic Palestine has gained ground. Discourse regarding the two-state solution is now less prominent, as Palestinians have united behind the renewed resistance exhibiting traits of the historical resilience enshrined within the charters of various factions.
Despite Zionist propaganda, the termination of Operation Protective Edge will not annihilate Palestinian resistance, and the rhetoric of human shields will be shelved for the next designated massacre that aims to bring about a slow extermination of the Palestinian population. Israel has exploited the macabre and entirely fictional imagery of unwilling civilians forced to their deaths by “militants” allegedly more concerned about piles of martyred bodies than the safeguarding of the indigenous population.
Considering the restrictions imposed by Israel upon Palestinians in Gaza — including the prohibitions imposed upon Palestinian civilians wishing to return to their neighborhoods — it is little wonder that the human shields rhetoric would escalate within the given context. Departing from the premise that Israel is the entity utilizing human shields, it follows that the enclave has been conveniently designated as a human shield by the settler-colonial state — a typical Zionist characteristic involving the constant extermination of Palestinians with the ultimate aim of furthering colonial expansion.
(Source / 31.07.2014)
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.Now joining us to give us a special report on the Israeli military-industrial complex is our guest, Shir Hever. Shir is an economic researcher for the Alternative Information Center, a Palestinian-Israeli organization.Thanks for joining us, Shir.
SHIR HEVER, ECONOMIST, ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER: Thank you for having me, Jessica.
DESVARIEUX: So, Shir, the violence continues in Gaza, and it begs the question, who is actually profiting from this war?
HEVER: I have to say it feels very cynical to talk about economy and profiteers when we’re talking about such a massive human tragedy and so many people killed–murdered, actually. But I think it is very important to understand the economic aspect of it, because it also tells us a little bit why, why this is happening, and maybe also gives us an idea of what is required in order to stop it.We’ve seen in the last couple of years a pattern. Every two years or so, the Israeli military attacks Gaza, attacks the Gaza Strip, and causes a lot of destruction. But right after each one of those attacks, there is a trade show in which Israeli weapon companies show their wares, show their technologies, and boast that these are the very technologies that have been used just now against Palestinians in Gaza. We saw that after the attack of 2008-2009, known as Cast Lead, where the main theme was those robots that go into houses to look around corners. Then we saw that again in the attack of 2012, which was called Pillar of Cloud, in which the main theme was the Iron Dome system that can intercept the Palestinian rockets. And now, in the current attack, we have again the Iron Dome system that is supposed to intercept rockets.And all of these Israeli companies, which are becoming an increasingly important and very significant part of the Israeli export system and the Israeli economy, depend on those wars. They depend on periodic fighting where they can showcase their equipment, their technology. And the first thing that they say when they try to market whatever it is that they develop: we’ve already used that on actual human beings. And by making that claim, they’re able to compete with weapon manufacturers from other countries.
DESVARIEUX: But, Shir, which companies are we talking about here? And are any of them connected to the United States?
HEVER: One of the major companies that we’re talking about is Israeli Aerospace Industries. This company, there was a little article about it in the newspaper just two days ago that right now, in the middle of this attack, they’ve issued a call–they’ve issued bonds and tried to raise finance in order to expand the company and increase their production. And they were able to raise $132 million in just one week, which comes up as $132,000 per Palestinian killed in this attack. By now, there are more Palestinians who have been killed, but by now the company’s also sold additional bonds. And this company sees a direct relation between the violence against Gaza and the ability of this company to find new markets for its products.Another very prominent company is called Elbit Systems. This is a very famous Israeli company which specializes in drones. And, of course, they’re also very active in this war.All of these companies are also extremely connected to the United States. And the United States is the biggest supplier of aid, military aid to Israel. And this military aid comes in the form of weapons, actually. So these military companies have learned to work in symbiosis with the U.S. arms industry so that they develop their technologies together in order to provide components which are produced in Israel and work with U.S.-manufactured weapons. So, in fact, this war is not, this attack on Gaza is not just a trade show for the Israeli arms industry; it’s also a trade show for the United States arms industry. And the demand for weapons always increases every time Israel goes into another cycle of violence in the Middle East.I think there’s one point that is very important to make, though, because through understanding the importance of the arms trade to this conflict, we can also understand why the Hamas Party has made its ceasefire proposition, joined with the Islamic Jihad about two weeks ago, in which they offered a ten-year ceasefire. Now, Hamas is [an] acronym for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah, which means the Islamic resistance movement. Their whole idea is to resist the occupation. And they basically said in their ceasefire offer, we’re willing to stop resisting the occupation for ten years. And I think they only could make that offer because they knew that Israel would not accept it. They knew that the Israeli arms industry is so dependent on these cycles of attacks every two years that Israel will never accept a ten-year ceasefire, because it would be a deadly blow to the Israeli arms industry.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Shir Hever, very, very interesting analysis. Thank you so much for joining us.
HEVER: Thank you for having me.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
(Source / 31.07.2014)
The targeting of cemeteries by Israeli jets has stirred much anger in Gaza City, particularly as families are now tasked with the ordeal of reburying their loved ones
Inshirah Al Najjar at her son’s grave in the Sheikh Radwan cemetary – Gaza
GAZA CITY- Her teardrops fall on the grave of her son – under a hot sun she starts shovelling the sand away from the grave area – yet she does not know if she will be able to find his exact grave.
The deeper 58-year-old Inshirah Al Najjar digs, the more she comes across the bones of dead bodies – she only hopes that these bones do not belong to the child she gave birth to.
“My heart was burning when my son came early this morning to tell me Israeli F16s had bombed the cemetery and Hani’s grave is missing,” she says, crying.
Al Najjar is the mother of a fisherman, Hani Al Najjar, who was 27 in 2006 when an Israeli gunboat killed him, while he was trying to catch fish to feed his family.
She continues to dig down, deeper into his grave, still crying – a mother coming here alone with Israeli warplanes dropping bombs overhead. Just some hours ago, the Sheikh Radwan cemetery was hit by missiles from Israeli jets.
Al Najjar digs deeper still, while another man from the Al Kateeb family comes to rebury the body of his relative, after approximately 20 grave sites were hit by Israeli missiles. The broken bones from the graves hit by Israeli missiles lie scattered around, and it is difficult for the relatives to determine which parts come from which grave.
The man standing nearby starts screaming, while holding a piece of skull by an eye socket – his loud cries of anguish can be heard across the cemetery, shouting back at Israel’s fighter jets for disturbing and abusing the graves, and bones, of the dead.
“These are our dead, why attack them again, why?” he says. “The bones were not firing rockets.”
Al Najjar has found someone to share her pain of looking for a family grave in the churned-up ground – a man whose anger goes beyond words – beyond stating that, “Israel has no civility and no respect for the dignity of the human body – alive or dead.
“This is the work of cowards who fear even the bones of human beings,” he declares out loud to the sky.
Al Najjar weeps as she eventually gets near the bottom of her son’s grave that has sustained so much damage. But she’s still not sure his bones are intact, among many others disturbed and scattered.
“I am a mother who loves her son and, although he may be dead, I will still protect his grave as any mother around the world would,” she says, breaking down in tears again.
Her son Ikrami came earlier to visit the grave of his brother to tell him how much he misses him – a habit he developed on each first day of Eid since Hani was killed. But this Eid, Ikrami did not find the grave – he ran away in horror on seeing the bones scattered on the ground, running to his mother, screaming about what he’d seen.
“The burning sadness I had in my heart is stronger than when I heard about his killing some years ago,” she says, trying to steady her voice.
Al Najjar says that Hani’s two children wanted to come to visit their father’s grave, as they had done so on every Eid since he was killed in 2006. But she did not want them to see the shattered grave of their father, or other graves around nearby.
“They would have been terrified and upset at what I have seen. I just couldn’t bring them,” she says
Sixteen-year-old Mohammed Khader, who lives nearby, witnessed the bombing. He works at the normally peaceful graveyard, where he tends the graves regularly.
He arrives today with some water to rinse the gravestones off and take care of flowers, so visiting families can enjoy fresh and clean graves on the first day of Eid.
“I don’t know how to tell people that the bones of their loved ones have been displaced by Israeli bombs,” he says.
Targeting the dead
Residents of the area say they have seen no fighters and know of no reason why Israel should target cemeteries and graves. Last week, the Roman Orthodox Church in the city centre reported that 15 Palestinian Christian graves were also damaged by Israeli artillery shells.
For the past four years, Khader has worked as a volunteer at the cemetery, tending the graves; sometimes getting paid by families to look after the gravesites.
“We need more stones to cover the bodies, but because of the war, people don’t know where to find them,” he says, holding on tightly to a yellow water container that he uses for washing the gravestones.
When the grave sites are bombed by Israeli jets, families in Gaza have no other option but to bury all the bones together, instead of going through the pain and trauma of sorting through them to identify individuals – male or female. In this case, the local resident who discovered the cemetery had been bombed decided to lay every scattered and shattered bone together in the same area.
Israel’s attacks on the gravesites have stirred much anger. Abu Suhaib, 46, is extremely upset: “To Israel, everything is a target; the gravestones, trees, living humans and now our dead.”
The first day of Eid is special to Palestinians who spend the day with their deceased loved ones – thousands made it here to Sheikh Radwan cemetery. And everyone is wondering why Israeli F16s should strike just before people flooded into the cemeteries to pay respects to the dead.
Abu Suhaib thinks the real aim is to intimidate and to instil fear in Palestinians, that whatever they do, wherever they go, they are a target for Israeli weapons.
“This is a pure form of terrorism – Christian and Muslim cemeteries are targets. Even the dead are Israel’s targets.”
(Source / 31.07.2014)
Muhammad Daher, who worked for al-Resalah newspaper, was injured in the shelling while a number of his family members were killed.
The target of the attack was unclear, but Israel has repeatedly destroyed entire apartment buildings in order to kill wanted individuals.
The Israeli assault has taken a high toll on Palestinian journalists, as seemingly haphazard shelling of residential and commercial areas have killed many, including 17 shoppers in a Shujaiyya market and 16 internally displaced people at a UN school on Wednesday.
Photojournalists Rami Rayan and Sameh al-Aryan, who worked with al-Aqsa TV, were killed Wednesday during the shelling of al-Bastat market in Shujaiyya.
Journalist Ahed Zaqqut, who focused on sports media for several agencies, was also killed Wednesday.
Journalists Najlaa Mahmoud al-Hajj, Abd al-Rahman Ziyad Abu Hayin, Izzat Dhuheir, Bahad al-Din Gharib, and photojournalist Khalid Hamad were also killed in earlier strikes on the Gaza Strip.
A source in Rafah says the border was opened to allow in wounded Palestinians for treatment in Egyptian hospitals
A Palestinian child, who was injured in the war in Gaza, is prepared to be moved by ambulance from a hospital in north Sinai to Cairo after crossing the Gaza Egypt border on Saturday, in el-Arish, Egypt, early Sunday, July 27, 2014
Egypt on Thursday received 104 wounded Palestinians and some of their relatives through the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, state news agency MENA reported.
A source in Rafah told MENA that the border was opened to allow in wounded Palestinians for treatment in Egyptian hospitals.
The move comes on the back of intensifying violence in the coastal strip.
Egyptian authorities have largely kept the crossing closed since former president Mohamed Morsi’s removal, citing security concerns in the restive Sinai Peninsula where an Islamist insurgency is burgeoning.
The closure of the passage has taken a toll on an estimated 1.7 million Palestinians living in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, under a crippling Israeli siege since 2006.
(Source / 31.07.2014)
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Israel is committing ‘atrocities’ in Gaza
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has commented on the tragedy in Gaza, describing Israel’s actions as “genocide.”
Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “The latest incidents in Gaza are tragic – killing children; bombing arbitrarily; demolishing a city; targeting schools belonging to the United Nations, ambulances and hospitals. All these deeds are atrocities and brutal.”
Arinc added: “It is state terror, a massacre. I know they [Israelis] do not love the word genocide, but there is no other word to describe Israel’s deeds in Gaza.”
Since July 7, at least 1,285 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed while 53 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died.
Arinc also voiced concern over reports that journalists are being targeted by Israel. On Tuesday, the building housing The Anadolu Agency office in Gaza was bombed.
“There are some rules that are valid internationally,” Arinc said. “Israel, despite being aware of all these rules, attacked the building containing Anadolu Agency’s Gaza office.”
Meanwhile, Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday urged an immediate humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
“Everything must be done to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with international humanitarian law,” Steinmeier said in a statement. “We call on both sides to agree to an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and resume the path for negotiations on a long-term truce based on the Egyptian proposal.”
(Source / 31.07.2014)
American peace activist Don DeBar says people all over the world are finally standing up for the oppressed people of Palestine, and are opposing the US-backed Israeli genocide in Gaza.
“Around the world people, not necessarily governments but the people, have been standing up against the Israeli genocide that’s being conducted against the Palestinians in Gaza — and in the West Bank, by the way,” DeBar, an anti-war activist and radio host in New York, said in a phone interview with Press TV on Thursday.
“But in Latin America particularly over the past few days we have seen some huge developments,” he said.
“On Wednesday, the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, termed/listed the Israeli government as terrorists based on their occupation, on their operation, rather. Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Peru and El Salvador recalled their ambassadors, and Costa Ricca is studying that measure also. Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela and Paraguay issued a statement Wednesday during the Mercosur conference: they called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and they extended their support for the Palestinians,” DeBar stated.
“All this has been developing very quickly. And it’s an interesting mixture of Latin American countries because they are not all socialist or left-leaning governments. We are seeing, for example, Peru – and Paraguay, which actually is a rightwing government – taking that position,” the senior journalist noted.
“The United States suspects, of course, that Venezuela is at the heart of this, and yesterday decided that they were going to suspend several members of the Venezuelan delegation and they were taking other measures against Venezuela yesterday… the US took a preemptive action against Venezuela over this,” DeBar said.
“Meanwhile, while all this happened, it comes finally with a presentation at the UN yesterday of the fact that Israel has been targeting UN facilities in Gaza,” he stated.
“So, I am seeing an awful lot of hopeful signs that maybe finally the international community is going to do something about the genocide that Israel is conducting with the US backing – at US direction most likely – and hopefully that will bring some pressure on it to stop,” the activist concluded.
Israeli warplanes have been carrying out incessant airstrikes against the blockaded coastal territory since July 8. On July 17, thousands of Israeli soldiers launched a ground invasion into the densely-populated strip.
More than 1,370 Palestinians have been killed, including women and children, and thousands others injured by the Israeli regime’s offensive against the coastal enclave despite pressure from the international community. The United Nations says over 80 percent of the fatalities in Gaza have been civilians.
(Source / 31.07.2014)