Palestinian massacre a grim reminder to Syrian refugees flooding Lebanon

Palestinian, holding handkerchiefs to their faces, look for the bodies of relatives, victims of the Sabra-Shatila massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut on Sept. 16-18, 1982.

BEIRUT – Thirty-one years ago over the course of three days, Christian militiamen slaughtered up to 3,500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in a refugee camp in Lebanon. The Sabra-Shatila massacre, as it came to be known, became one of the bloodiest chapters of Lebanon’s 14-year civil war.

As Palestinian refugees in Lebanon paused to remember the Sept. 16 anniversary of the massacre, the grim event offered a cautionary tale to the flood of Syrian refugees now coming across border into Lebanon.

With almost 750,000 Syrians having crossed the border into this country of just 4 million, fears are running high that this new wave of people will plunge Lebanon back into war.

‘I remember the people I saw’
For Abu Maher Hamza, a Palestinian who survived the Sabra-Shatila massacre, the memories are still strong.

When a few mortars shells hit the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila, Hamza’s extended family rushed to his home. He ran downstairs where he could see the street through a hole in the cinderblock and heard a man shout, “George, kill them, kill them!”

Abu Mazen Hamza, age 67, on his rooftop, points toward the street where he saw 12 dead bodies while fleeing from gunmen during the Sabra-Shatila massacre in 1982.

Maher peeped out and saw two militiamen soundlessly open fire on a young woman. Terrified, he ran upstairs and told everyone to keep quiet and leave the house by an empty alleyway.  His mother-in-law worried she would slow them down.

“I carried her on my shoulders,” said Hamza.  Once outside he saw an old neighbor, shot dead in front of his shop. On the main road, they found 12 more bodies, including women and children.

The gunmen were let into the camps by Israeli military who controlled the Beirut suburb. Israeli troops surrounded the camps and lit the night sky with flares, while the massacre continued for three days.

“No matter how many times I walk down those streets, I remember the people I saw,” said Hamza, now 67.

Most of the victims were buried in a mass grave, a field of soil, marked by a simple gravestone.

Fears of Syrians destabilizing 
The massacre is also reminder to many Lebanese of how destabilizing a massive influx of foreigners can be.

Lebanon has kept its borders open to the Syrians, but rejected U.N. offers to build formal refugee camps.

The main reason is a fear that Syrians will stay on, creating pockets of resistance against the Syrian regime from within Lebanon, draining an already inadequate supplies of electricity and resources, driving up rent and driving down wages, and increasing tension between Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities.

So instead, newcomers build tents with refuse on rented plots of rocky land, crowd into rented garages or derelict buildings.

A delegation of Palestinian Liberation Organization members pray at the mass grave on the 31st anniversary of the Sabra- Shatila massacre.

“The Palestinian camps experience makes Lebanon feel it better be careful not to allow congregation in camps.  They may become camps of anti-Syrian government activism,” said Rami Khouri, a political analyst and the director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. “The Lebanese worry about allowing large populations to stay for a long time, creating extraterritoriality.”

Sectarian violence has already spilled over the Syrian border and into Lebanon in the form of car bombs and clashes.  Hezbollah, Lebanon’s strongest political power and militia, is sending fighters to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Second-class citizens 
For the Palestinian refugees who have been here for decades, life continue to be a struggle in a country they can never really call home.   

Hamza came to Lebanon as a baby when his parents were forced out of Palestine in 1947, the year of Israel was founded.  Although his wife is Lebanese, he isn’t entitled to citizenship, just a travel document used by the stateless.

Largely banned from working in professional fields, Palestinians are stuck in blue collar jobs where they are paid up to half or a third of their Lebanese counterparts. And although they are required to pay taxes, they aren’t entitled to social benefits, like social security and free education.

Hamza, a retired barber, owns his house, but cannot own the land it is built on.  He, like 95 percent of all Palestinians, has no health insurance and depends on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for medical care and schooling.

Mother walks her children home from the U.N. sponsored school they attend in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila, in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Hamza is among the luckier ones: A recent UNRWA study found that 73 percent of Palestinians in Lebanon are poor, 56 percent jobless and only half attend secondary school.

“They are looting the Palestinian laborers,” says Sohail Natour, spokesman of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.  “Palestinians pay money to the Lebanese government and don’t get services.”

‘We are forgotten’
To make matter worse, some 90,000 more Palestinian refugees have fled over the border from Syria since the civil war began, driving rents up and wages down in overcrowded Palestinian shantytowns.

“UNWRA in Lebanon has stepped up its education, health, relief and other emergency services for these refugees who are part of what has been called the largest humanitarian crisis of the last decade,” said Ann Dismorr, UNRWA Director in Lebanon.

Among the influx of new arrivals, Abu Mazen Hamza feels like Lebanon’s original refugees are more forgotten than ever.

“The world is busy with itself during the Arab Spring. Nobody has time for the Palestinians. They are only talking about human rights for the Syrians, but we are forgotten.”

(Source / 18.09.2013)

Who’s the US Killing in Pakistan? Even the CIA Doesn’t Know

The CIA didn’t know who it was killing about 25 percent of the time it targeted suspects with drones, NBC News reports. Still, the government insists, all of those unknown people definitely deserved to die. According to classified CIA documents, only one of about 600 people the CIA killed in Pakistan in a 14-month period beginning in September 2010 was a civilian, and therefore was not a proper target.

How can the government assert that some 150 people killed were “militants” legitimately killed when it doesn’t know who they actually were? As Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations told NBC, that’s “just not believable.” Drones may be a more precise weapon than many others, but they’re still dropping bombs from the air, and bombs just don’t kill people that carefully. As Zenko put it: “Anyone who knows anything about how airpower is used and deployed, civilians die, and individuals who are engaged in the operations know this.”

The government is apparently hoping that the public doesn’t find that out. Even its classified documents attempt to cover it up by listing the unknown dead as “other militants” or “foreign fighters” without providing any evidence to back that up.

The CIA declined to respond to NBC’s questions, as did the White House.

The source of the confusion here, of course, is the CIA’s now-infamous use of so-called “signature strikes,” which target unknown individuals based on a pattern of activity that a drone operator on a U.S. military base observes. Whether that “pattern of activity” is something as ominous as planting an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), as ambiguous as carrying a weapon (which is pretty common in the tribal areas of Pakistan), or as innocent as doing jumping-jacks at a suspected training camp, is not known. The government has consistently refused to identify what the “signatures” are that can turn a shadowy figure identified on a drone operator’s video screen into a “legitimate” target for firepower.

In his speech at the National Defense University in May, President Obama said that his administration “has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists — insisting upon clear guidelines, oversight and accountability that is now codified in Presidential Policy Guidance” that he had just signed.

Conveniently for the government, that policy guidance remains classified — which pretty much negates the claim about oversight and accountability.

So far, as NBC’s analysis underscores, the CIA’s actions don’t inspire confidence. An earlier analysis of classified documents from the CIA’s drone program by McClatchy News Servicefound similar inconsistencies between who the government says it’s killing and who actually ends up dead. According to McClatchy’s review, fewer than two percent of those killed were actually al Qaeda leaders, which is who the U.S. government says it targets. The rest were lower level “insurgents,” “fighters” or “militants,” according to the government, not necessarily linked to al Qaeda at all, which is who the United States says its fighting.

In fact, according to Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), the actual number of drone deaths is at least 200 times the “22 top Al-Qaeda leaders plus bin Laden” touted by President Obama recently.

The laws of war allow the United States to kill only members of declared enemy armed forces or civilians directly participating in hostilities. It’s hard to believe the U.S. government is actually following that law if it doesn’t even know who a quarter of the people it’s killing even are.

President Obama’s speech sounded pretty good when he made it, but the more facts trickle out about the drone program the more reason we all have to be skeptical.

What can be done? Human Rights First has set out exactly what steps the United States can take to make sure its drone program complies with international law and doesn’t undermine human rights.

The president should start by making public that Presidential Policy Guidance he announced with such pride. Otherwise, neither the American public nor foreign allies or enemies have any reason to believe the U.S. government has reined in its clandestine killing operations at all.

(Source / 10.06.2013)

Eying Ethnic Cleansing from the Sky

Google Maps is an amazing tool. Followers of this blog will know it is a tool I utilize a great deal since so much of the issues we deal with are geographic. When it comes to understanding the Nakba though, Google Maps provides a whole new view which I have been sharing with followers over twitter in recent days and will continue to do so this week as we commemorate the depopulation of Palestine from the majority of its native inhabitants.

Thanks to the work of geographers and historians, we have geographic coordinates for Palestinian villages which were destroyed during the depopulation of Palestine. This allows us to see precisely where the villages were through Google’s satellite imagery and what that area looks like today. Another fascinating Google tool is “Street View” which, as you can imagine, allows you to see the view of the area from the street. Now not every street level view is available but many are. A feature of street view includes photos taken and uploaded by individuals with recorded geo-positions off the roads.

In some cases villages were completely destroyed with little physical evidence remaining. In many other cases, however, some structures from the villages still stand or village land is visibly strewn with rubble from the destroyed homes. I’ve been using the street view tool to tweet images of these remains, which I call the “Ghosts of the Nakba“, standing there, often in plain site, as a haunting reminder of a crime perpetuated against the villages and their people.

Google Maps also allows the opportunity to make an interesting juxtaposition in many cases. For hundreds of villages, high-quality aerial imagery of the village exists from before the Nakba. So we can take this imagery and put it next to Google’s satellite imagery of the area today. Take for example, the Palestinian village of Burayr where some 3,000 Palestinians lived before the ethnic cleansing. The before and after shot below shows how Burayr was wiped off the map.

The before image, on the left, shows a village packed with stone houses. The Google Maps image on the right (which you can see here) shows a clearly discernible outline of where the village was. The odd shape contrasts with the square plots surrounding it and, despite being sparsely covered with trees today some of the old village roads are faintly discernible as well. These shapes marking villages, which don’t quite fit in with the surroundings, are clearly visible in a number of cases like JulisBeit JibrinMaghar,  Tal UbaydaDamun, and many others.

The Ghosts of the Nakba are all around and you will notice them quite easily if you are looking and know where to look. As Moshe Dayan, a former Israeli Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff  said “There isn’t any place that was established in an area where there had not at one time been an Arab settlement.” Of course, he should know, since he played a role in the depopulation.

Despite this many Israelis do not see the ghosts before them in plain site. Or perhaps, they don’t want to see them. Early this morning and in response to a Ghost of the Nakba tweet I sent about Kafr Saba, Barak Ravid, an journalist for the Israeli Daily Haaretz replied:

 

He has since deleted this tweet.

Of course, Kafr Saba did exist. It doesn’t today. But it was located right here. You can see an odd area in brown which stands out because it literally looks like something had been there before being erased from sight. That was Kfar Saba.

Ravid noted he had been mistaken after several tweeters informed him he was wrong. But this begs the question, just how much do Israelis actually know, or care to know, about the society that was destroyed to make way for the state they live in today? How much do they know or care to know about the Ghosts of the Nakba all around them? How can they not but feel responsibility for the dismembering of a society, a dismemberment that continues today in the West Bank?

If they or anyone else is interested, Google Maps is one place to start and get a bird’s eye view of the ethnic cleansing that took place. As long as, well you know, you’re not afraid of confront some ghosts.

(Source /16.05.2013)

Burma: End ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ of Rohingya Muslims

Unpunished Crimes Against Humanity, Humanitarian Crisis in Arakan State

  • Ethnic Arakanese with weapons walking away from a village in flames while a soldier stands by. Arakan State, Burma, June 2012.

     

The Burmese government engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya that continues today through the denial of aid and restrictions on movement. The government needs to put an immediate stop to the abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable or it will be responsible for further violence against ethnic and religious minorities in the country.

(Bangkok) – Burmese authorities and members of Arakanese groups have committed crimes against humanity in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan State since June 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today.
The 153-page report, “‘All You Can Do is Pray’: Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Arakan State,” describes the role of the Burmese government and local authorities in the forcible displacement of more than 125,000 Rohingya and other Muslims and the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Burmese officials, community leaders, and Buddhist monks organized and encouraged ethnic Arakanese backed by state security forces to conduct coordinated attacks on Muslim neighborhoods and villages in October 2012 to terrorize and forcibly relocate the population. The tens of thousands of displaced have been denied access to humanitarian aid and been unable to return home.

“The Burmese government engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya that continues today through the denial of aid and restrictions on movement,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The government needs to put an immediate stop to the abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable or it will be responsible for further violence against ethnic and religious minorities in the country.”

Following sectarian violence between Arakanese and Rohingya in June 2012, government authorities destroyed mosques, conducted violent mass arrests, and blocked aid to displacedMuslims. On October 23, after months of meetings and public statements promoting ethnic cleansing, Arakanese mobs attacked Muslim communities in nine townships, razing villages and killing residents while security forces stood aside or assisted the assailants. Some of the dead were buried in mass graves, further impeding accountability.

Human Rights Watch traveled to Arakan State following the waves of violence and abuses in June and October, visiting sites of attacks and every major displaced person camp, as well as unofficial displacement sites. The report draws on more than 100 interviews with Rohingya and non-Rohingya Muslims and Arakanese who suffered or witnessed abuses, as well as some organizers and perpetrators of the violence.

All of the state security forces operating in Arakan State are implicated in failing to prevent atrocities or directly participating in them, including local police, Lon Thein riot police, the inter-agency border control force called Nasaka, and the army and navy. One soldier told a Muslim man who was pleading for protection as his village was being burned: “The only thing you can do is pray to save your lives.”

Displaced Rohingya told Human Rights Watch how in October security forces stood by or joined with large groups of Arakanese men armed with machetes, swords, homemade guns, and Molotov cocktails who descended upon and attacked their villages. In some cases, attacks occurred simultaneously in townships separated by considerable distance.

Satellite images obtained by Human Rights Watch from just 5 of the 13 townships that experienced violence since June show 27 unique zones of destruction, including the destruction of 4,862 structures covering 348 acres of mostly Muslim-owned residential property.

In the deadliest incident, on October 23, at least 70 Rohingya were killed in a daylong massacre in Yan Thei village in Mrauk-U Township. Despite advance warning of the attack, only a small number of riot police, local police, and army soldiers were on duty to provide security, but they assisted the killings by disarming the Rohingya of their sticks and other rudimentary weapons they carried to defend themselves. Included in the death toll were 28 children who were hacked to death, including 13 under age 5. “First the soldiers told us, ‘Do not do anything, we will protect you, we will save you,’ so we trusted them,” a 25-year-old survivor told Human Rights Watch. “But later they broke that promise. The Arakanese beat and killed us very easily. The security did not protect us from them.”

“In October, security forces either looked the other way as Arakanese mobs attacked Muslim settlements or joined in the bloodletting and arson,” Robertson said. “Six months later, the government still blames ‘communal violence’ for the deaths and destruction when, in truth, the government knew what was happening and could have stopped it.”

Considerable local organizing preceded and backed October’s attacks. The two groups most influential in organizing anti-Rohingya activities were the local order of Buddhist monks (the sangha) and the regionally powerful Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), which was founded in 2010 by Arakanese nationalists. Between June and October, these groups and others issued numerous anti-Rohingya pamphlets and public statements, explicitly or implicitly denying the existence of the Rohingya ethnicity, demonizing them, and calling for their removal from the country, at times using the phrase “ethnic cleansing.” The statements frequently were released in connection with organized meetings and in full view of local, state, and national authorities who raised no concerns. Local authorities, politicians, and monks also acted, often through public statements and force, to deny Muslims their rights to freedom of movement, opportunities to earn a living, and access to markets and to humanitarian aid. The apparent goal has been to coerce them to abandon their homes and leave the area.

“Local officials and community leaders engaged in an organized effort to demonize and isolate the Muslim population as a prelude to murderous mob attacks,” Robertson said. “Moreover, since the bloodshed, the central government has taken no action to punish those responsible or reverse the ethnic cleansing of the forcibly displaced Muslims.”

Human Rights Watch uncovered evidence of four mass-grave sites in Arakan State – three dating from the immediate aftermath of the June violence and one from the October violence. Security forces actively impeded accountability and justice by digging mass graves to destroy evidence of crimes.

For instance, on June 13, a government truck dumped 18 naked and half-clothed bodies near a Rohingya displaced person camp outside of Sittwe, the state capital. Some of the victims had been “hogtied” with string or plastic strips before being executed. By leaving the bodies near a camp for displaced Rohingya, the soldiers were sending a message – consistent with a policy of ethnic cleansing – that the Rohingya should leave permanently.

“They dropped the bodies right here,” said a Rohingya man, who saw the bodies being dumped. “Three bodies had gunshot wounds. Some had burns, some had stab wounds. One gunshot wound was on the forehead, one on the chest.”

Arakan State faces a major humanitarian crisis brought on by the Burmese government’s systematic restrictions on humanitarian aid to displaced Rohingya.

More than 125,000 Rohingya and non-Rohingya Muslims, and a smaller number of Arakanese, have been in displaced person camps in Arakan State since June. While President Thein Sein’s government has hosted high-profile diplomatic visits to displacement sites, it has also obstructed the effective delivery of humanitarian aid. Many of the displaced Muslims have been living in overcrowded camps that lack adequate food, shelter, water and sanitation, schools, and medical care. Security forces in some areas have provided protection to displaced Muslims, but more typically they have acted as their jailers, preventing access to markets, livelihoods, and humanitarian assistance, for which many are in desperate need.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya face a range of deadly waterborne diseases if they are not moved to higher ground before the rainy season begins in May.

“The problem with aid delivery in Arakan State is not a failure of coordination, but a failure of leadership by the government to allow displaced Muslims access to aid and freedom of movement,” Robertson said. “An entirely predictable and preventable humanitarian crisis is just weeks away when the rains fall and camps flood, spreading waterborne diseases.”

The displaced Rohingya have not been consulted on their right to return to their original towns and villages, heightening concerns of a long-term intent to segregate the population.

Lacking aid, protection, and facing violence and abuses, tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled the country by sea since June with hopes of reaching BangladeshMalaysia, or Thailand, and many thousands more appear ready to do the same – several hundred people have already died at sea.

Under international law, crimes against humanity are crimes committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack by a government or organization on a civilian population. Among the crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya since June were murder, deportation and forcible transfer of the population, and persecution.

“Ethnic cleansing,” though not a formal legal term, has been defined as a purposeful policy by an ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.

Central to the persecution of the Rohingya is the 1982 Citizenship Law, which effectively denies Burmese citizenship to Rohingya on discriminatory ethnic grounds. Because the law does not consider the Rohingya to be one of the eight recognized “national races,” which would entitle them to full citizenship, they must provide “conclusive evidence” that their ancestors settled in Burma before independence in 1948, a difficult if not impossible task for most Rohingya families.

The government and Burmese society openly consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from what is now Bangladesh and not a distinct “national race” of Burma, denying them consideration for full citizenship. Official government statements refer to them as “Bengali,” “so-called Rohingya,” or the pejorative “kalar.”

Human Rights Watch urged the Burmese government to urgently amend the 1982 Citizenship Act to eliminate discriminatory provisions and to ensure that Rohingya children have the right to acquire a nationality where otherwise they would be stateless.

“Burma should accept an independent international commission to investigate crimes against humanity in Arakan State, locate victims, and provide redress,” said Robertson. “Burma’s donors need to wake up and realize the seriousness of the Rohingya’s plight, and demand that the government urgently stop abuses, promote the safe return of displaced Muslims, and ensure accountability to end the deadly cycle of violence in Arakan State.”

(Source / 22.04.2013)

We must never forget the massacre in Deir Yassin

The author’s grandmother, Fatima Radwan (right) and her younger sister Sakeena at the Dar al-Tifl school four years after the Deir Yassin massacre.

Transcribing the vivid details of the account engraved into the fabric of her memory, I am transfixed by all that she’s held onto for 65 years. From paper to pulse, I write the story buried deep in her consciousness to affirm her truth. Without her, it never would be written at all.

I study the lines on my grandmother’s face knowing behind every one there is a timeless story of unmitigated pain, survival and hope. This story, where the continued dispossession, suffering and oppression of the Palestinian people began, is one that refuses to be silenced or forgotten. It is the story of Deir Yassin.

Remember the date: Friday, 9 April 1948, a day of infamy in Palestinian history. My grandmother was nine years old at the time of the Deir Yassin massacre and every day since she has lived with a steadfast commitment to never forget.

Premonition

Thursday, 8 April, ended like any other in the small, quiet village. My grandmother and her younger sister returned home from school to complete their composition assignment entitled Asri’ (meaning “to hurry” in Arabic). She recounts that detail animatedly. Like other children their age, she wanted to complete the assignment in order to enjoy the next day off.

The excitement, however, was short-lived. I can’t help but think of the irony in the assignment’s title. Asri’ — it’s almost as though it were a premonition of sorts.

The following day, entire families ran hurriedly in sheer terror, fleeing the only homes they had ever known to escape a bloodbath. By dawn on that Friday morning, life as they had known it would never be the same again. Deir Yassin would never be the same again.

Fathers, grandfathers, brothers and sons were lined up against a wall and sprayed with bullets, execution style. Beloved teachers were savagely mutilated with knives. Mothers and sisters were taken hostage and those who survived returned to find pools of blood filling the streets of the village and children stripped of their childhoods overnight.

The walls of homes, which once stood witness to warmth, laughter and joy, were splattered with the blood and imprints of traumatic memories. My grandmother lost 37 members of her family that day. These are not stories you will read about in most history books.

Bitter symbol

The Deir Yassin massacre was not the largest-scale massacre, nor was it the most gruesome. The atrocities committed, the scale of violence and the complexity of the methods and insidious weaponry used by Israel against civilians in the recent decade have been far more sadistic and pernicious. But Deir Yassin marks one of the most critical turning points in Palestinian history.

A bitter symbol carved in the fiber of the Palestinian being and narrative, it resonates sharply as the event that catalyzed our ongoing Nakba (catastrophe), marked by the forced exile of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, creating the largest refugee populationworldwide with more than half living in the diaspora.

Deir Yassin is a caustic reminder of the ongoing suffering, struggle and systematic genocide of the Palestinian people, 65 years and counting. When the village was terrorized into fleeing, tumultuous shockwaves of terror ran through Palestine, laying the blueprint for the architecture of today’s apartheid Israel.

Sacred ground

The authors great-uncle, Muhammad Radwan, outside of the family home in Deir Yassin.

I have been fortunate enough to see Deir Yassin and step foot on its sacred ground. Deir Yassin remains a permanently cemented and rigorous reminder of the spirit that has never permitted defeat. Despite the illegal settlements, pillaging, plundering and human suffering that took place, my grandmother’s home stands with resolve just as she does today.

The silence of her home and the original stones laid by my great-grandfather’s hands remain haunting reminders of life that once existed behind the cold facade. Standing outside her home I studied the horizon intently and found solace, irrespective of the large wooden Star of David hanging on the window. This scathing and unholy reminder of the ethnic cleansing that took place there could never conceal the insult, injury and history it attempts to erase.

In fact, it is a reminder of the inflicted wounds that remain open and the memory that remains very much alive. All the flags, banners and stars in the world, all the inconvenient truths, dehumanizing myths of exceptionalism and litany of crimes, will never succeed in drowning out the truth or erasing the memories.

My grandmother is an intrepid survivor and living proof that neither the old nor the young will forget. She and survivors like her endure with a steadfastness that will live long after they’re gone. Their narratives may not be recorded in our history books but they have left indelible impressions that will remain inscribed in our hearts and minds.

The narratives of these survivors will continue to run through the veins of every Palestinian child who carries them in their blood. And so long as our hearts beat, the eloquent symbols of Palestinian life — resistance, resilience and hope — will continue to run strong. No amount of fear-mongering, lip service or pontificating will ever keep these narratives of resistance from circulating, because becoming comfortable with our own silence and anesthetizing our minds to all that has passed will never be options.

After all, we are the children of generations of strength. Our grandparents and parents are refugees and survivors, and the blood of Deir Yassin courses through our veins. We are like the olive tree with its tenacious roots in the ground, remaining unshakable and determined to stand its ground with patience and a deeply-rooted desire to remain.

We will see a free and just Palestine because we will have a hand in making it so. Deir Yassin may have catalyzed our catastrophe but 65 years later it also continues to catalyze our devotion and enduring love for a people, a cause and a home that will never be relinquished or forgotten.

(Source / 08.04.2013)

Ethnic Cleansing goes full speed: Israel serves 120 demolition notices in Al-Khalil in two weeks

images_News_2013_02_06_installations_300_0[1]AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) served 120 demolition notices in Al-Khalil over the past two weeks, a Palestinian human rights activist said on Wednesday.

Amin Al-Bayed, a researcher at Insan center for human rights, said that the IOA served notices for the demolition of 120 buildings, water wells, and agricultural rooms and tents in various areas in Al-Khalil district.

He said that the notices were particularly focusing on the southern areas of Al-Khalil to the east of Yatta town and Beit Ola.

The researcher told Quds Press that the IOA and its civil administration in most cases throw the demolition notices near to the targeted installation so that the owners would not notice it until it was too late to go to court and challenge the decision.

Bayed said that many farmers found the notices by coincidence and on many occasions they go to court and find that their period for contesting the decision had expired.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 07.02.2013)

The Massacre at Baldat al-Shaikh

January 30-31, 1947(Palestine) : This massacre took place following an argument which broke out between Palestinian workers and Zionists in the Haifa Petroleum Refinery, leading to the deaths of a number of Palestinians and wounding and killing approximately sixty Zionists. A large number of the Palestinian Arab workers were living in Baldat al-Shaikh and Hawasa, located in the southeast of Haifa. Consequently, the Zionists planned to take revenge on behalf of fellow Zionists who had been killed in the refinery by attacking Baldat al-Shaikh and Hawasa.

1On the night of January 30-31, 1947, a mixed force composed of the First Battalion of Palmakh and the Carmelie brigade (estimated at approximately 150 to 200Zionist terrorists) launched a raid against the two towns under the leadership of Hayim Afinu’am.]

2 They focused their attack on the outskirts of Baldat al-Shaikh and Hawasa. Taking the outlying homes by surprise as their inhabitants slept, they peltedthem with hand grenades, then went inside, firing their machine guns.

3 The terrorist attack led to the deaths of approximately sixty citizens inside their homes, most of them women, elderly and children.

4 The attack lasted for an hour, after which the Zionists withdrew at 2:00 a.m., having attacked a large number of noncombatant homes.

5 According to a report written by the leader of the terrorist operation, “the attacking units slipped into the town and began working on the houses. And due tothe fact that gunfire was directed inside the rooms, it was not possible to avoid injuring women and children.”

(Facebook / 30.01.2013)

The Hidden Genocide

 

Earlier this year a Buddhist woman was raped and murdered in western Myanmar. The authorities charged three Muslim men.

A week later, 10 Muslims were murdered in a revenge attack. What happened next was hidden from the outside world.

Bloodshed pitted Buddhists against minority Rohingya Muslims. Many Rohingya fled their homes, which were burned down in what they said was a deliberate attempt by the predominantly Buddhist government to drive them out of the country.

“They were shooting and we were also fighting. The fields were filled with bodies and soaked with blood,” says Mohammed Islam, who fled with his family to Bangladesh.

There are 400,000 Rohingya languishing in Bangladesh. For more than three decades, waves of refugees have fled Myanmar. But the government of Bangladesh considers the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants, as does the government of Myanmar. They have no legal rights and nowhere to go.

This is a story of a people fleeing the land where they were born, of a people deprived of citizenship in their homeland. It is the story of the Rohingya of western Myanmar, whose very existence as a people is denied.

Professor William Schabas, the former president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, says: “When you see measures preventing births, trying to deny the identity of the people, hoping to see that they really are eventually, that they no longer exist; denying their history, denying the legitimacy of their right to live where they live, these are all warning signs that mean it’s not frivolous to envisage the use of the term genocide.”

(www.aljazeera.com / 30.01.2013)

The United States Promotes Israeli Genocide Against the Palestinians

israelus

In direct reaction to Israel provoking the Al Aqsa Intifada, on October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people, some of whom are Christians, but most of whom are Muslims.[i]

This Special Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted the Resolution set forth in U.N. Document E/CN.4/S-5/L.2/Rev. 1, “Condemning the provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Shariff on 28 September 2000 by Ariel Sharon, the Likud party leader, which triggered the tragic events that followed in occupied East Jerusalem and the other occupied Palestinian territories, resulting in a high number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians.” The U.N. Human Rights Commission said it was “[g]ravely concerned” about several different types of atrocities inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinian people, which it denominated “war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.”

In operative paragraph 1 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission then:

“Strongly condemns the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in violation of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying Power against innocent and unarmed Palestinian civilians…including many children, in the occupied territories, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity;…”

And in paragraph 5 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission:

“Also affirms that the deliberate and systematic killing of civilians and children by the Israeli occupying authorities constitutes a flagrant and grave violation of the right to life and also constitutes a crime against humanity;…”

Article 68 of the United Nations Charter had expressly required the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council to “set up” this U.N. Commission (now Council) “for the promotion of human rights.” This was its U.N.-Charter-mandated job.

The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel’s criminal paramilitary terrorist settlers. These Israeli “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel’s political leaders.

Let us address for a moment Israel’s “crimes against humanity” against the Palestinian people—as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are “crimes against humanity”? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people:

Crimes against humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

The paradigmatic example of “crimes against humanity” is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people. This is where the concept of “crimes against humanity” originally came from. And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission (now Council) determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity.

Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews. That is the significance of the formal determination by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that Israel has inflicted “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people. The Commission chose this well-known and long-standing legal term of art quite carefully and deliberately based upon the evidence it had compiled.

Furthermore, the Nuremberg “crimes against humanity” are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. The theory here was that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people was so horrific that it required a special international treaty that would codify and universalize the Nuremberg concept of “crimes against humanity.” And that treaty ultimately became the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide in relevant part as follows:

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;

As documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Israel’s genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and is ongoing and even intensifying against the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza as this book goes to press.

As Pappe’s analysis established, Zionism’s “final solution” to Israel’s much-touted and racist “demographic threat” allegedly posed by the very existence of the Palestinians has always been genocide, whether slow-motion or in blood-thirsty spurts of violence. Indeed, the very essence of Zionism requires ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide against the Palestinians. In regard to the latest 2008-2009 Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza – so-called Operation Cast-lead — U.N. General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua during the Reagan administration’s contra-terror war of aggression against that country, condemned it as “genocide.”[ii]

Certainly, Israel and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have committed genocide against the Palestinian people that actually started on or about 1948 and has continued apace until today in violation of Genocide Convention Articles II(a), (b), and (c). For over the past six decades, the Israeli government and its predecessors-in-law—the Zionist agencies, forces, and terrorist gangs—have ruthlessly implemented a systematic and comprehensive military, political, and economic campaign with the intent to destroy in substantial part the national, ethnical, racial, and different religious (Jews versus Muslims and Christians) group constituting the Palestinian people.

This Zionist/Israeli campaign has consisted of killing members of the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(a). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also caused serious bodily and mental harm to the Palestinian people in violation of Genocide Convention Article II(b). This Zionist/Israeli campaign has also deliberately inflicted on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in substantial part in violation of Article II(c) of the Genocide Convention.

Article I of the Genocide Convention requires all contracting parties such as the United States “to prevent and to punish” genocide. Yet to the contrary, historically the “Jewish” state’s criminal conduct against the Palestinians has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied and politically supported by the nominally “Christian” United States. Although the United States is a founding sponsor of, and a contracting party to, both the Nuremberg Charter and the Genocide Convention, as well as the United Nations Charter, these legal facts have never made any difference to the United States when it comes to its blank-check support for Zionist Israel and their joint and severable criminal mistreatment of the Palestinians—truly the wretched of the earth!

The world has not yet heard even one word uttered by the United States and its N.A.T.O. allies in favor of R2P/humanitarian intervention against Zionist Israel in order to protect the Palestinian people, let alone a “responsibility to protect” the Palestinians from Zionist/Israeli genocide. The United States, its N.A.T.O. allies, and the Great Powers on the U.N. Security Council would not even dispatch a U.N. Charter Chapter 6 monitoring force to help “protect” the Palestinians, let alone even contemplate any type of U.N. Charter Chapter 7 enforcement actions against Zionist Israel – which are actually two valid international legal options for R2P/humanitarian intervention! The doctrine of “humanitarian intervention” and its current “responsibility to protect” transmogrification so readily espoused elsewhere when U.S. foreign policy interests are allegedly at stake have been clearly proven to be a sick joke and a demented fraud when it comes to stopping the ongoing and accelerating Zionist/Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people.

Rather than rein in the Zionist Israelis—which would be possible just by turning off the funding pipeline—the United States government, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. media, and U.S. taxpayers instead support the “Jewish” state to the tune of about 4 billion dollars per year, without whose munificence this instance of genocide – and indeed conceivably the State of Israel itself – would not be possible. Without the United States, Israel is nothing more than a typical “failed state.” In today’s world genocide is permissible so long as it is done at the behest of the United States and its de jure allies in N.A.T.O. or its de facto allies such as Israel.

I anticipate no fundamental change in America’s support for the Zionist/Israeli ongoing campaign of genocide against the Palestinians during the tenure of the Obama administration and its near-term successors, whether neoliberal Democrats or neoconservative Republicans. Tweedledum versus Tweedledee.

What the world witnesses here is (yet another) case of bipartisan “dishumanitarian intervention” or “humanitarian extermination” by the United States and Israel with the support of the N.A.T.O. states, against the Palestinians and Palestine. While at the exact same time these white racist cowards and hypocrites preach R2P/humanitarian intervention in order to subjugate Libya, now Syria, and perhaps someday soon Iran.

As Machiavelli so astutely advised The Prince in Chapter XVIII of that book:

“…one who deceives will always find one who will allow himself to be deceived.”[iii]

On these dissentient points, this law professor rests his case against the doctrines of “humanitarian intervention” and its imperialist transformation into the demagogic “responsibility to protect.”

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 28.01.2013)

Israel seeks ethnic cleansing of Palestinians: Saab Shaath

Interview with Saab Shaath

“It’s been the ideology and the plans of the Likud party, the Zionist ruling party, for a long time. To create the one-state solution, a Zionist state and all Palestine and to cleanse most of the Palestinians out to Jordan.”

An analyst says the Likud Party is firm on its plans to disconnect Palestinians from their land totally and to do a deal with Jordan.

In the background of this a protest group that consisted of both Palestinians and foreign activists set up a tent camp in a creative effort to show peaceful resistance to the occupation of Palestinian lands and a demonstration against illegal Israeli settlement building. The move was legally approved by the High Court of Israel. Netanyahu acting in defiance of the High Court rule had army forces forcefully dismantle the tent camp, which was on private Palestinian property. Several activists were injured in the process. The reaction has been has been seen as desperate by many observers. The tent camp however, has received wide praise as the event – and indeed the Israeli reaction – successfully attracted international attention to the Palestinian cause.

Press TV has interviewed Mr. Saab Shaath, author and political commentator, Belfast about this issue. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Do you think it will make a difference? We’ve seen these Palestinians and some international activists setting up camp and protesting the expansion of these settlements. Will it make a difference to Israel and if not, what will it take for Israel to abide by UN law?

Shaath: It’s a new development; a new type of resistance where they are using passive resistance to build camps now and tents that look like a village…

This kind of resistance is aimed at attracting international attention more than anything else to be honest here. Since the international community has slammed such expansion in that area.

This area, if they build in it, it will split the West Bank into two and will definitely annex totally Jerusalem and areas directly Zionist entity .

The plan is to deny the Palestinians to be able to build their own state or entity i.e. the two-state solution. And that is not new after what you said about the new report of the United Nations and the member status of Palestine.

NO, it’s been the ideology and the plans of the Likud party, the Zionist ruling party, for a long time. To create the one-state solution, a Zionist state and all Palestine and to cleanse most of the Palestinians out to Jordan.

There are talks between the Zionists and the Jordanians about configuration with the Palestinians; and the Palestinians entertaining the idea.

So, it’s part of a bigger plan and I can see there is some in the Palestinian leadership entertaining the idea. And the Palestinian Authority in the west Bank have always quoted that they will stop any intifada coming or any military resistance of the occupation.

The only kind of resistance they will allow, such passive resistance, which we can see. I welcome that kind of development myself, but that doesn’t mean it is the only kind of resistance the Palestinians have to use.

The Palestinians have the right to use all kinds of resistance in the struggle of the occupation of their land.

(www.presstv.ir / 13.01.2013)