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PROTEST: Oppose the Gaza Massacre! Protest Dinner & Movie with Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Jeff Merkley

Written by AUPHR, JVP, SUPER, SABEEL, LJHL, ISO, OFOR   
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 09:37
www.facebook.com/events/272453246283461

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise. -- Maya Angelou, Still I Rise

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PROTEST: Oppose the Gaza Massacre! Protest Dinner & Movie with Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Jeff Merkley

When: Wednesday, August 27th 2014 at 4:30pm

Where: 8005 SE Stark St, Portland, OR

Contact: Peter Miller, 503-358-7475, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Facebook: Oppose the Gaza Massacre!

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Israel's Operation Protective Edge, an aerial and ground assault on the Gaza Strip, has killed over 2100 people, mostly civilians, including over 493 children.  140 Gazan families have lost three or more loved ones.  The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to support this carnage.
Read more: PROTEST: Oppose the Gaza Massacre! Protest Dinner & Movie with Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Jeff Merkley

 
 

Why Israel’s bombardment of Gaza neighborhood left US officers ‘stunned’

Written by Mark Perry   
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 09:17
america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/8/26/israel-bombing-stunsusofficers.html

Analysis: Military sources say Pentagon’s assessment of Shujaiya shelling alarmed even Secretary of State John Kerry

The cease-fire announced Tuesday between Israel and Palestinian factions — if it holds — will end seven weeks of fighting that killed more than 2,200 Gazans and 69 Israelis. But as the rival camps seek to put their spin on the outcome, one assessment of Israel’s Gaza operation that won’t be publicized is the U.S. military’s. Though the Pentagon shies from publicly expressing judgments that might fall afoul of a decidedly pro-Israel Congress, senior U.S. military sources speaking on condition of anonymity offered scathing assessments of Israeli tactics, particularly in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

One of the more curious moments in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge came on July 20, when a live microphone at Fox News caught U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry commenting sarcastically on Israel’s military action. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”

Rain of high-explosive shells

Kerry’s comment followed the heaviest bombardment of the war to that point, as Israeli artillery rained thousands of high-explosive shells on Shujaiya, a residential area on the eastern edge of Gaza City. A high-ranking U.S. military officer said that the source of Kerry’s apparent consternation was almost certainly a Pentagon summary report assessing the Israeli barrage on which he had been briefed by an aide moments earlier.

According to this senior U.S. officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions — a minimum of 258 artillery pieces, according to the officer’s estimate — pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood, which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during a seven-hour period at the height of the operation. Senior U.S. officers were stunned by the report.

Twice daily throughout the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation, a select group of senior U.S. military and intelligence officers at the Pentagon received lengthy written summaries of Israeli military action in Gaza. The reports — compiled from information gleaned from open sources, Israeli military officers with whom U.S. officials speak and satellite images — offered a detailed assessment of Israel’s battlefield tactics and the performance of its weaponry, a considerable portion of it supplied by the United States.

Although these reports shy from offering political judgments on the operation, a number of senior U.S. military officers who spoke about the contents of those daily reports were highly critical of some of the IDF’s tactics, particularly in the Israeli ground invasion of Shujaiya. An official spokesman at the Pentagon declined to comment on the contents of this article.

On July 16, the IDF dropped leaflets into Shujaiya, warning residents of an imminent Israeli attack and urging them to evacuate the area. The next day, after a short artillery preparation, three IDF units, led by the Golani Brigade, began a ground assault into the neighborhood to destroy Hamas bunkers and break up Hamas formations.

‘Take off the gloves’

The incursion went well at first, with Golani soldiers meeting little resistance. But by late on Saturday afternoon, July 19, forward elements of the brigade were running head on into well-organized Hamas units, and some IDF formations were pinned down in vicious fighting in Shujaiya’s streets and alleys. What had been envisaged as a limited ground operation was not going as planned, with Hamas units emerging from tunnels and bunkers in attempts to exploit IDF weaknesses. The Hamas units were well prepared and trained, with their formations hidden so well that Israeli soldiers were rarely able to pinpoint their locations.

“The ground assault was poorly handled into eastern Gaza City,” an Israel civilian adviser to the IDF’s chief of staff said at the time. “The Hamas fighters showed an unexpected tenacity and were far more effective against our armored units than we’d anticipated.”

By late Saturday night and into Sunday morning, the fight had devolved into a series of vicious small unit clashes, with IDF squads facing off against Hamas squads, sniper units and teams carrying lethal anti-tank rockets. In one eight-hour period starting early on July 20, the IDF suffered 13 dead, seven of them in an armored personnel carrier that caught fire after a Hamas sapper team detonated an anti-tank mine beneath it. When the IDF moved to retrieve the bodies and the stricken APC, Hamas fighters targeted the rescue vehicles and engaged in gun battles with IDF combat teams as the rescue convoy retreated.

In the early hours of that Sunday morning, with IDF casualties mounting, senior officers directed IDF tank commanders to “take off the gloves” and “to open fire at anything that moves,” according to reports in the Israeli press.

The three Israeli units assaulting Shujaiya were never in danger of being defeated, but the losses the IDF suffered in the four-day house-to-house battle embarrassed IDF commanders. By the afternoon of July 19, even before Israel had suffered most of its casualties, the scale of resistance prompted Israeli battlefield commanders to blanket Shujaiya with high-explosive artillery rounds, rockets fired from helicopters and bombs dropped by F-16s. The decision was confirmed at the highest levels of the IDF.

By Sunday night, Palestinian officials were denouncing the bombardment of Shujaiya as a massacre, and international pressure mounted on the Israeli government to explain the heavy casualty toll being inflicted on Gaza civilians. The IDF told the press that Shujaiya had been a “fortress for Hamas terrorists” and reiterated that while Israel had “warned civilians” to evacuate, “Hamas ordered them to stay. Hamas put them in the line of fire.”

‘The only possible reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period of time as possible … It’s not mowing the lawn. It’s removing the topsoil.’

a senior U.S. military officer

Kerry’s hot-microphone comments reflect the shock among U.S. observers at the scale and lethality of the Israeli bombardment.

“Eleven battalions of IDF artillery is equivalent to the artillery we deploy to support two divisions of U.S. infantry,” a senior Pentagon officer with access to the daily briefings said. “That’s a massive amount of firepower, and it’s absolutely deadly.” Another officer, a retired artillery commander who served in Iraq, said the Pentagon’s assessment might well have underestimated the firepower the IDF brought to bear on Shujaiya. “This is the equivalent of the artillery we deploy to support a full corps,” he said. “It’s just a huge number of weapons.”

Artillery pieces used during the operation included a mix of Soltam M71 guns and U.S.-manufactured Paladin M109s (a 155-mm howitzer), each of which can fire three shells per minute. “The only possible reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period of time as possible,” said the senior U.S. military officer. “It’s not mowing the lawn,” he added, referring to a popular IDF term for periodic military operations against Hamas in Gaza. “It’s removing the topsoil.”

“Holy bejeezus,” exclaimed retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard when told the numbers of artillery pieces and rounds fired during the July 21 action. “That rate of fire over that period of time is astonishing. If the figures are even half right, Israel’s response was absolutely disproportionate.” A West Point graduate who is a veteran of two wars and is the chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, D.C., he added that even if Israeli artillery units fired guided munitions, it would have made little difference.

Even the most sophisticated munitions have a circular area of probability, Gard explained, with a certain percentage of shells landing dozens or even hundreds of feet from intended targets. Highly trained artillery commanders know this and compensate for their misses by firing more shells. So if even 10 percent of the shells fired at combatants in Shujaiya landed close to but did not hit their targets — a higher than average rate of accuracy — that would have meant at least 700 lethal shells landing among the civilian population of Shujaiya during the night of July 20 into June 21. And the kill radius of even the most precisely targeted 155-mm shell is 164 feet. Put another way, as Gard said, “precision weapons aren’t all that precise.”

Senior U.S. officers who are familiar with the battle and Israeli artillery operations, which are modeled on U.S. doctrine, assessed that, given that rate of artillery fire into Shujaiya, IDF commanders were not precisely targeting Palestinian military formations as much as laying down an indiscriminate barrage aimed at cratering the neighborhood. The cratering operation was designed to collapse the Hamas tunnels discovered when IDF ground units came under fire in the neighborhood. Initially, said the senior Pentagon officer, Israel’s artillery used “suppressing fire to protect their forward units but then poured in everything they had, in a kind of walking barrage. Suppressing fire is perfectly defensible. A walking barrage isn’t.”

That the Israelis explained the civilian casualty toll by saying the neighborhood’s noncombatant population had been ordered to stay in their homes and were used as human shields by Hamas reinforced the belief among some senior U.S. officers that artillery fire into Shujaiya was indiscriminate. 

“Listen, we know what it’s like to kill civilians in war,” said the senior U.S. officer. “Hell, we even put it on the front pages. We call it collateral damage. We absolutely try to minimize it, because we know it turns people against you. Killing civilians is a sure prescription for defeat. But that’s not what the IDF did in Shujaiya on July 21. Human shields? C’mon, just own up to it.”

 
   

Israel’s extermination of whole families in Gaza reflects genocidal impulse

Written by Rania Khalek   
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 19:25
electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israels-extermination-whole-families-gaza-reflects-genocidal-impulse

Eighty-nine families that existed seven weeks ago in Gaza have been exterminated by Israel. 

On Sunday 24 August an Israeli missile tore through the home of Issam Jouda in Gaza’s Tal al-Zatar neighborhood east of Jabaliya without warning, killing Issam’s wife Rawiya and their four children—Taghrid, Tasnim, Usama and 
Muhammad.

According to the Palestinian health ministry , the Joudas were the eighty-ninth family wiped out in Gaza since the Israeli army started bombarding the besieged coastal enclave on 7 July.

ceasefire that took effect on Tuesday evening may stop the flow of blood, but it will not heal the raw wounds of the families of more than 2,100 people killed, nor of the more than eleven thousand injured and 100,000 whose homes were destroyed.

Between 7 July and 21 August, the UN documented 140 families in Gaza partially or completely annihilated by Israeli attacks.

Many were crushed beneath the rubble of their homes. Eight members of the Wahdan family, for instance, were killed in their house in Jabaliya refugee camp after beinginstructed by Israeli forces to stay put. 

Others were summarily executed in broad daylight by invading Israeli forces in the catastrophically devastated Shujaiya neighborhood. This was the fate of several members of the Shamaly and al-Areer families according to testimony collected by journalist Max Blumenthal.

The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has recorded at least 990 people killed inside their homes in Israeli attacks, including 324 children. That’s almost half of all people killed in the Israeli assault.

This is no accident.

Israel’s systematic targeting of entire families in Gaza this summer is part of adeliberate military strategy that seeks to terrorize the civilian population into submission in an effort to break their will to resist Israeli conquest. In recent days, Israel escalated this practice by leveling residential high-rise apartment buildings

But the wholesale slaughter of families is also part of Israel’s ongoing destruction of Palestine.

Genocide

Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights argues that Israel’s acts in Gaza constitute more than just war crimes and crimes against humanity. He says they are genocide, adding his voice to the growing chorus of those who see the slaughter in Gaza as part of an ongoing, systematic process of annihilation. 

“These are clear violations of the Geneva conventions and war crimes,” Ratner told The Electronic Intifada. “But you can’t look at this as an isolated attack on Gaza because there’s a history going back to Zionists charting out and destroying five hundred plus villages in 1947-48,” he said, referring to the Nakba — the premeditated ethnic cleansing of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Zionist militias seeking to establish an ethnically exclusive state with a Jewish majority. 

“If you look at it historically it’s hard to escape [Israeli author and historian] Ilan Pappe’sconclusion that it’s ‘incremental genocide,’” said Ratner.

Ratner noted that the common response to such accusations is that Israel has not killed enough Palestinians for its actions to qualify as genocide. However, “You don’t have to kill a large number of people to commit genocide,” he explained.

Indeed, Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defines genocide in the following terms (emphasis added): 

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 

Israel does not have to kill millions of Palestinians to be guilty of genocide nor does it need to commit all the above atrocities, though it is undeniably guilty of (a), (b) and (c). It just has to commit any of them with the “intent” to “destroy” Palestinians “in whole or in part” as “a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

The question of genocide, then, is whether by looking at decades of Israel’s practices, as well as the utterances of its leaders, we can find this intent.

The past is present

As a settler-colonial state guided by Zionism, or Jewish nationalism, Israel has spent every year since its creation gradually destroying indigenous Palestinian communities and expelling their residents to consolidate and maintain a Jewish demographic majority in historic Palestine, a goal that by its very nature requires the forced removal and erasure of Palestinians. This process is ongoing within present-day Israel as well, where Israel plans to forcibly remove tens of thousands of Bedouins in the Naqab (Negev) in order to “Judaize” their land.

Gaza in particular—where eighty percent of the population is made up of refugees ethnically cleansed from villages in present-day Israel—has been subjected to periodic massacres since Israel’s creation. These massacres have intensified in frequency since 2006, because unlike in the occupied West Bank, armed resistance against Israeli settler-colonialism has yet to be pacified in Gaza. 

“It’s not that people are wrong that Israel is committing war crimes. It’s just you have to look at it in context of the last 70 years,” said Ratner. “You have to ask yourself, what is Israel doing here except trying to make life impossible for Palestinians, to make them give up and get out?”

In his infamous 1956 eulogy for an Israeli settler killed by Palestinian refugees from Gaza, then chief of staff of the Israeli army, Moshe Dayan, candidly described Israel’s policy towards Gaza, saying, “Why should we deplore their burning hatred for us? For eight years now, [Palestinians] have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza and have watched how, before their very eyes, we have turned their land and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home.”

He continued, “We are a generation of settlement and without the steel helmet and the gun’s muzzle we will not be able to plant a tree and build a house… .That is our choice – to be ready and armed, tough and hard – or else the sword shall fall from our hands and our lives will be cut short.”

Later that year, under the leadership of Dayan, Israeli soldiers carried out mass executions in Khan Younis and Rafah, where they gathered all the males over the age of 15, lined them up in the street for all to see, beat them and shot them dead, killing hundreds. The stated aim was to crush armed resistance.

Many Israeli leaders over the years have echoed Dayan’s attitude, most notably Arnon Soffer, otherwise known as the Arab counter due to his compulsive fixation on the threat posed by Palestinian babies.

A central architect of Israel’s policy in Gaza following then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s2005 unilateral “disengagement,” Soffer once said about the coastal enclave, “if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.” This nightmarish prediction is today’s reality in Gaza.  

The difference between the days of Dayan and now is that Israel — with its US-supplied arsenal of Hellfire missiles and bunker buster bombs and an “international community” willing to tolerate limitless Israeli aggression — has the capacity and willpower to complete its genocidal conquest with absolute impunity.

Incitement 

Early this month, Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker in the Israeli parliament the Knesset, laid out a detailed proposal for concentration and extermination of Palestinians in Gaza. Feiglin, indicating a clear genocidal intent, denied the very existence of a Palestinian people and defined Palestinians as enemies because the vast majority of them are Muslim.

In the lead-up to the Gaza onslaught, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked, an increasingly popular member of the far-right Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party and a high-level partner in Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, called for slaughtering Palestinian mothers to prevent them from giving birth to “little snakes.”

Shaked’s clear call for genocide appears to have been carried out to some degree against the 89 families in Gaza who were completely obliterated as well as against thenewborn infants who died after Israeli attacks on power stations shut down their incubators. 

Even if this weren’t the case, the incitement alone ought to be grounds for prosecution.

Article 3 of the Genocide Convention stipulates that “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” and “complicity in genocide” are punishable offenses.

Feiglin and Shaked are reflecting a mindset that can be found pervasively in Israeli society and social media, among the mobs in the streets chanting to “Death to the Arabs” and among Israeli soldiers. Neither Shaked nor Feiglin were censured and in fact their comments garnered enormous support on social media.

And before sending his troops into Gaza, Colonel Ofer Winter, the commander of the Israeli army’s Givati brigade, wrote to his men that they were engaged in a war on behalf of the Jewish “Nation of Israel” to “wipe out” an “enemy who defames” God.

It is unnecessary for anyone to give explicit orders. Israeli soldiers go into Gaza with a deep ethnic hatred of Palestinians already inculcated into them.

Aiding and abetting

“The language is an important component. We saw it in Rwanda, when they went on the radio and said kill the Tutsis,” said Ratner, referring to broadcasts by the Rwandan government-supported Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines.  

“The words that are being used by Israeli legislators are fomenting what are incredible genocidal attacks on the Palestinian people. People in the parliament that are encouraging that are aiders and abettors of all of these crimes,” he said, adding that the same is true of US leaders that continue to shower their Israeli counterparts with an endless supply of weapons aimed at Palestinians civilians.

It is notable that in US politics, as in Israel, it has become fashionable in recent years todeny the very existence of a Palestinian people.

“Everyone of those Congress people who continues to vote for military aid to Israel are aiders and abettors of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes,” says Ratner. “It’s the US primarily that is holding back real accountability for what Israel is doing.” 

 
   

After Latest Incident, Israel’s Future in FIFA Is Uncertain

Written by Dave Zirin   
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:48
www.thenation.com/blog/178642/after-latest-incident-israels-future-fifa-uncertain#

Their names are Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17. They were once soccer players in the West Bank. Now they are never going to play sports again. Jawhar and Adam were on their way home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31 when Israeli forces fired upon them as they approached a checkpoint. After being shot repeatedly, they were mauled by checkpoint dogs and then beaten. Ten bullets were put into Jawhar’s feet. Adam took one bullet in each foot. After being transferred from a hospital in Ramallah to King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, they received the news that soccer would no longer be a part of their futures. (Israel’s border patrol maintains that the two young men were about to throw a bomb.)

This is only the latest instance of the targeting of Palestinian soccer players by the Israeli army and security forces. Death, injury or imprisonment has been a reality for several members of the Palestinian national team over the last five years. Just imagine if members of Spain’s top-flight World Cup team had been jailed, shot or killed by another country and imagine the international media outrage that would ensue. Imagine if prospective youth players for Brazil were shot in the feet by the military of another nation. But, tragically, these events along the checkpoints have received little attention on the sports page or beyond.

Much has been written about the psychological effect this kind of targeting has on the occupied territories. Sports represent escape, joy and community, and the Palestinian national soccer team, for a people without a recognized nation, is a source of tremendous pride. To attack the players is to attack the hope that the national team will ever truly have a home.

The Palestinian national football team, which formed in 1998, is currently ranked 144th in the world by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). They have never been higher than 115th. As Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril al-Rajoub commented bluntly, the problems are rooted in “the occupation’s insistence on destroying Palestinian sport.”

Over the last year, in response to this systematic targeting of Palestinian soccer, al-Rajoub has attempted to assemble forces to give Israel the ultimate sanction and, as he said, “demand the expulsion of Israel from FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.” Al-Rajoub claims the support of Jordan, Qatar, Iran, Oman, Algiers and Tunisia in favor of this move, and promises more countries, with an opportunity at a regional March 14 meeting of Arab states, to organize more support. He has also pledged to make the resolution formal when all the member nations of FIFA meet in Brazil.

Qatar’s place in this, as host of the 2022 World Cup, deserves particular scrutiny. As the first Arab state to host the tournament, they are under fire for the hundreds of construction deaths of Nepalese workers occurring on their watch. As the volume on these concerns rises, Qatar needs all the support in FIFA that they can assemble. Whether they eventually see the path to that support as one that involves confronting or accommodating Israel, will be fascinating to see.

As for Sepp Blatter, he clearly recognizes that there is a problem in the treatment of Palestinian athletes by the Israeli state. Over the last year, he has sought to mediate this issue by convening a committee of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to see if they can come to some kind of agreement about easing the checkpoints and restrictions that keep Palestinian athletes from leaving (and trainers, consultants and coaches from entering) the West Bank and Gaza. Yet al-Rajoub sees no progress. As he said, “This is the way the Israelis are behaving and I see no sign that they have recharged their mental batteries. There is no change on the ground. We are a full FIFA member and have the same rights as all other members.”

The shooting into the feet of Jawhar and Adam has taken a delicate situation and made it an impossible one. Sporting institutions like FIFA and the IOC are always wary about drawing lines in the sand when it comes to the conduct of member nations. But the deliberate targeting of players is seen, even in the corridors of power, as impossible to ignore. As long as Israel subjects Palestinian athletes to detention and violence, their seat at the table of international sports will be never be short of precarious.

 
   

Palestine national soccer team achieves highest-ever FIFA ranking

Written by Ma'an News Agency   
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 11:43
www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=702635

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian National Football team has jumped ahead 71 places in the FIFA World Rankings following a historic win and their first-ever qualification to the Asian Cup, reaching their highest-ever international ranking.

Palestine jumped to the 94th place in the international rankings after moving up 270 points during their drive to reach clinch the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup, which pits lower-ranked teams from across Asia against each other and secures the winner a spot in the Asian Cup.

Palestine had won four matches and drew one on their way to clinch the AFC Challenge Cup, and earned a place in their first-ever continental tournament, by qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup to be held in Australia in 2015. 

Their final tournament victory came on May 30 when they beat the Philippines in the final with a curling free kick by Ashraf Numan al-Fawaghra.

Palestine won the tournament without conceding a single goal to an opposing team.

Palestine's football team is now ranked 10th in Asia.

The Palestinian national football team has been around since 1928, but was recognized by FIFA only in 1998.

 
   

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