'Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now'

Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Read more: 'Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now'

Ned Hanauer in Memorium: Premier US media activist for Palestinian Human Rights

Edmund R. (Ned) Hanauer, a life-long peace and human rights activist, died after a short illness on August 10, 2006. He was 68.

Dr. Hanauer dedicated his life to peace and human rights issues and worked in particular for reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis. Realizing that this work required full-time attention as well as an organizational base, he left teaching in 1971 and, in 1972, started an organization - Search for Justice and Equality in Palestine/Israel (SEARCH) - whose mission was to inform members of Congress, journalists and other opinion makers about aspects of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israeli Jews that did not always get a hearing in the political establishment and the media. In the early years of its existence - before the internet - the organization published a newsletter, the Palestine/Israel Bulletin.

Read more: Ned Hanauer in Memorium: Premier US media activist for Palestinian Human Rights

Israeli Apartheid System Expands: Over U.S. Objections, Israel Approves West Bank Homes

JERUSALEM, Sept. 4 — The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, authorized construction bids on Monday for another 690 homes in the occupied West Bank in the face of pro forma American criticism.

The houses will be built in Maale Adumim and Betar Illit, two settlements near Jerusalem that the Israeli government says it intends to keep in any agreement with the Palestinians.

Mr. Olmert, whose Kadima Party was elected earlier this year on a promise to pull thousands of Israeli settlers out of the West Bank, beyond the route of Israel’s separation barrier, has been clear about keeping and expanding settlements inside the barrier, even though they are on land occupied since the 1967 war.

[Americans must oppose Israel's Apartheid system and its unilateral confiscation of Palestinian land. This is a war crime, supported by the United States. Ask Senator Oregon Ron Wyden, ask Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, ask Oregon Senator Gordon Smith, ask all the Senators and Members of Congress of the United States why so many support war crimes? Ask them, why do YOU support Israeli Apartheid?]

Read more: Israeli Apartheid System Expands: Over U.S. Objections, Israel Approves West Bank Homes

"A Message from Qana": Kucinich travels to the Middle East on a peace mission

Village after village was reduced to piles of rubble. We saw thousands of destroyed homes. We also saw bombed out hospitals, schools, factories, churches, mosques, fire stations, gas stations, cars, bridges, roads, water systems, electric systems, banana plantations, and lemon groves," Kucinich said.

"In several villages we stopped and walked through piles of concrete and dust from what had once been homes. Public areas were littered with unexploded cluster bombs and land mines. The smell of death was everywhere. Homes still standing upon closer inspection had holes in the walls from artillery shells."

One of the most emotionally wrenching moments came at 10 o'clock at night as they arrived in the village of Qana, the Cana of biblical lore where Christ performed the first of his miracles, changing water into wine. One of the greatest tragedies of war befell a house in Qana where a 1,000 pound bomb exploded and collapsed the structure crushing dozens of women and children who had sought shelter in the basement.

Kucinich and his wife went to pay respects to the dead as a graveyard in the center of the village was lit by automobile headlights. They walked by several rows of graves, each with a picture of someone killed in the bombing. One picture was of four members of the same family. Buried were a mother and her three children. As Kucinich quietly wept, a hand reached around his shoulder to console him. It was the man who lost his wife and three children.

Read more: "A Message from Qana": Kucinich travels to the Middle East on a peace mission

Israel Plans for War With Iran and Syria

Threatened by a potentially nuclear-armed Tehran, Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources.

The conflict with Hezbollah has led to a strategic rethink in Israel. A key conclusion is that too much attention has been paid to Palestinian militants in Gaza and the West Bank instead of the two biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the region, who pose a far greater danger to Israel's existence, defence insiders say.

"The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defence agenda, higher than the Palestinian one," said an Israeli defence source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the "Iranian front", a new position in the Israeli Defence Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.

The Israeli defence establishment believes that Iran's pursuit of a nuclear programme means war is likely to become unavoidable.

"In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities," said one insider, "but Iran's growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player."

A new infantry brigade has been formed named Kfir (lion cub), which will be the largest in the Israeli army. "It is a partial solution for the challenge of the Syrian commando brigades, which are considered better than Hezbollah's," a military source said.

Read more: Israel Plans for War With Iran and Syria

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