How the United States supports Israel’s war crimes in Gaza

Israel is the largest recipient of US taxpayer-funded military aid and these weapons are used by Israel to commit systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians.

BBC journalist Jihad Masharawi holding his 11-month-old son, killed in Gaza on 14 November 2012 by an Israeli airstrike.

On November 18, an Israeli air force pilot flying a US-made F-16 fighter jet fired a missile at the four-story home of the al-Dalu family in Gaza City, killing ten members of the family and two from the al-Muzannar family next door.

An on-site investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch concluded that the attack was a “clear violation of the laws of war” and demanded that those “responsible for deliberately or recklessly committing a serious violation of the laws of war should be prosecuted for war crimes.”

Israel’s bombing of the al-Dalu home was the single deadliest attack in an eight-day offensive last month against the blockaded and occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip that killed at least 160 Palestinians, of whom 105 were civilians and 34 children, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Two weeks ago, on International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the United States works to advance “the universal freedoms enshrined” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the “right to life, liberty and security of person.” “When governments seek to deny these liberties through repressive laws and blunt force,” she intoned, “we stand against this oppression and with people around the world as they defend their rights.”

Yet, when it comes to US policy toward Palestinians, this rhetoric rings hollow. The United States arms Israel to the teeth, fails to uphold US human rights laws when Israel uses US weapons to commit abuses of Palestinians and, up to this point, has thrown around its diplomatic heft in international forums to shield Israel from the war crimes prosecutions advocated for by Human Rights Watch and others.

Israel’s recent killing of members of the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families is a tragic reminder of why 15 leading church figures sent Congress a letter in October arguing that “unconditional US military assistance to Israel” plays a role in “sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.” These church leaders urged Congress to hold hearings into Israel’s violations of the Arms Export Control Act, which limits the use of US weapons to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense,” and to examine Israel’s eligibility for any form of US assistance, given that the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits US aid to countries that engage in a consistent pattern of human rights violations.

Such a reevaluation of US military aid to Israel, which is scheduled to amount to $30 billion from 2009 to 2018, is desperately needed. Israel is by far and away the largest recipient of US taxpayer-funded military aid and it is patently obvious that these US weapons are being used by Israel to commit systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians. For example, the fighter jet whose missile devastated the al-Dalu and al-Muzannar families very well may have been one of the 93 F-16D fighter jets, valued at $2.5 billion, which US taxpayers financed and transferred to Israel in the previous decade.

However, far from examining Israel’s misuse of US weapons in its most recent attack on Gaza, much less holding it accountable, the Obama administration is moving forward with a proposed weapons deal that would replenish Israel’s arsenal. While Clinton offered platitudes about standing against aggression on International Human Rights Day, thePentagon was busy that same day notifying Congress that it hopes to ship to Israel 6,900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions tail kits, which “convert free-fall bombs into satellite-guided ordnance,” and more than 10,000 bombs to accompany them.

On previous occasions when the international community attempted to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes — most notably with the “Goldstone Report” issued after Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in 2008 and 2009, and after Israel killed nine humanitarian activists in international waters who were attempting to deliver goods to Gaza in 2010 — heavy-handed US diplomatic pressure and its threatened Security Council veto prevented effective action being taken.

But now that the United Nations General Assembly has voted to make Palestine a “non-member observer state,” potentially clearing the way for it to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israel may no longer be able to rely on US protection. And as long as the United States refuses to hold Israel accountable for committing human rights abuses of Palestinians with US weapons and keeps the spigot of weapons open, Palestinians should seek redress at the ICC for Israel’s war crimes.

Due to ongoing US funding for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, it is the only route for families such as the al-Dalu and al-Muzanner to take to receive a modicum of justice.

( / 28.12.2012)

Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More and Indigenous Rights

(Please note that you can sign by emailing or using the form: Endorsements are welcome from Palestinian and Palestine support organizations; Palestinians and Arabs; and solidarity signatures in...

(Please note that you can sign by emailing or using the form: are welcome from Palestinian and Palestine support organizations; Palestinians and Arabs; and solidarity signatures in support.)

Poster design by Guevara de la Serna

Poster design by Guevara de la Serna

“You who come from beyond the sea, bent on war,
don’t cut down the tree of our names,
don’t gallop your flaming horses across
the open plains….
Don’t bury your God
in books that back up your claim of
your land over our land,
don’t appoint your God to be a mere
courtier in the palace of the King”
– Mahmoud Darwish, The Penultimate Speech of the “Red Indian”

Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More


Indigenous people have risen up across Canada in the Idle No More movement, a mass call for Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination and rights, against colonization, racism, injustice, and oppression. As Palestinians, who struggle against settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid in our homeland and for the right of Palestinian refugees – the majority of our people – to return to our homeland, we stand in solidarity with the Idle No More movement of Indigenous peoples and its call for justice, dignity, decolonization and protection of the land, waters and resources.

We recognize the deep connections and similarities between the experiences of our peoples – settler colonialism, destruction and exploitation of our land and resources, denial of our identity and rights, genocide and attempted genocide. As Palestinians, we stood with the national liberation movement against settler colonialism in South Africa, as we stand with all liberation movements challenging colonialism and imperialism around the world. The struggle of Indigenous and Native peoples in Canada, the United States, have long been known to the Palestinian people, reflecting our common history as peoples and nations subject to ethnic cleansing at the hands of the very same forces of European colonization.

The Indigenous resistance across Canada includes struggles against the ongoing theft of indigenous lands, massive resource extraction and environmental devastation (including tar sands and pipelines), the continuing movement of survivors of the genocidal residential school system, and movements to demand an end to the colonial and gendered violence against Indigenous women.

The Canadian government, reflecting its own settler colonial nature, was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of the establishment of Israel as a settler colony on Palestinian land and has since that time been a steadfast backer of Israeli wars, occupation, colonization, and oppression against our people. Canada has done so alongside the United States, which shares the same settler colonial nature, legacy of genocide, and massive support for Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has pronounced itself “Israel’s best friend,” supporting its assaults on Lebanon and Gaza and consistently attacking Palestinian rights both on the international stage and within Canadian borders. At the same time, it has embarked on a program of refugee and migrant exclusion, cuts to refugee health care, attacks on workers’ rights, support for massive resource extraction and environmental devastation – and attacks on Indigenous rights and sovereignty on treaty and unceded land. Harper and his government’s expansive praise for Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid is simply the other side of the same coin that attacks Indigenous self determination and plans massive resource extraction on Indigenous land.

We salute the Idle No More movement and the unity of indigenous people around its calls for justice, as well as the courageous hunger strike of Chief Theresa Spence. We note that this movement belongs to all Indigenous people and was launched by youth and women. Our struggle as Palestinians is the same – rooted in all of our people and finding its greatest strength in youth and women’s leadership.

Now is the time – from Canada/Turtle Island to Palestine, we must all be “Idle No More” , and take a stand: against colonialism, against occupation, and for self-determination, sovereignty, rights and justice for Indigenous peoples.


Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver
Cafe Intifada
Canada Palestine Association
Canadian Palestinian Federation of Quebec
Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA)
COMMIT Community Leadership Institute
Free Ahmad Sa’adat Campaign – Palestine
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
International Women’s Peace Service, Deir Istyia, Palestine
Labor for Palestine – US
LA Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee
Niagara Coalition for Peace
Niagara Palestinian Association
Not In Our Name (NION) Jews Opposing Zionism
One Democratic State Group
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
Palestinian Queers for BDS
Palestinian Rights Committee
Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
Philly BDS
Popular Democratic Unity Party – Jordan
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid Toronto
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid Vancouver
Queer Visions at the World Social Forum: Free Palestine
Regina Solidarity Group
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) – UBC 
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) – Calgary
Students Against Israeli Apartheid – York University 
Students Against Israeli Apartheid – University of Toronto Missisauga
Students for Justice in Palestine – Ryerson
Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College
Students for Justice in Palestine – Florida Atlantic University
Students for Justice in Palestine – University of New Mexico
Students for Palestinian Rights – University of Waterloo
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
US Palestinian Community Network
Voice of Palestine
Voices of Palestine – Seattle

Leila Khaled, Palestinian resistance icon
Abdullah Khalifeh, Vancouver, BC
Abla Abdelhadi, Ottawa, ON
Ahmed Alqarout, Gaza, Palestine
Akram Shaban, Surrey, BC
Alaa Khaled, Saida, Lebanon
Ali Yassir, Quebec
Amahl Bishara, Massachussetts
Amira Dasouqi, Memphis
Andrew Chalfoun, Owings Ridge, MD
Aref Nammari, Colorado
Ayeda Ayed, Toronto, ON
Ayman Anwar, Gaza, Palestine
Aziz Arafat, Gaza, Palestine
Bassel Araj, Palestine
Beesan Ramadan, Palestine
Bilal Jiddo, Bethlehem, Palestine
Chris Lymbertos, Oakland, CA
Dana Olwan, Syracuse, NY
Danya Mustafa, Albuquerque, NM
Dina Al-Kassim, Vancouver, BC
Eyad Kishawi, Divestment Resource Center
Faisal al-Refai, Jerusalem, Palestine
Falastine al-Saleh, Palestine
Faten Toubasi, Etobicoke
Gale Courey Toensing, Connecticut
Habib Haj Salem, Tunisia
Haidar Eid, Gaza, Palestine
Haithem Gammoudi, Tunisia
Haithem el-Zabri, Austin, TX
Hala Dillsi, Los Angeles
Hala Sayed, Toronto, ON
Hammam Farah, Toronto, ON
Hanan Abunasser, Gaza, Palestine
Haneen Maikey, Palestine
Hanna Kawas, chairperson, Canada Palestine Association
Hiyam Arrafih, Toronto, ON
Iltezam Morrar, Ramallah, Palestine
Intissar al-Masri, Rome
Ismail Zayid, Halifax, NS
Jenna Sweiss, Thorold, ON
Julian Durzi, Toronto
Khaled Barakat, Vancouver, BC
Khaled Mouammar, Richmond Hill , ON
Laith Marouf, Montreal, QC
Lara Khalidi, Jordan
Linda Tabar, Toronto, ON
Luma Abu Ayyash, Raleigh, NC
Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, Occupied Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine
Maram Salim, Hebron, Palestine
Marek Falk, Seatte
Marsilio Salem, Venezuela
Mary Rezk, Brooklyn, NY
Mezna Qato
Moataz Elkafarna, Gaza, Palestine
Mohamad Hamad, Calgary
Mohamed Elreefi, Gaza
Mohammad Battah, UK
Nada Elia, Seattle, WA
Nadia Awad, Brooklyn
Raed Abass Tawil, Palestine
Rafe Hasan, Winnipeg, MB
Rami Mustafa, Palestine
Rana Abdula, Winnipeg, MB
Rana Hamadeh, Ottawa, ON
Rawan Kittani, Palestine
Razan Abu-Remaileh, Vancouver, BC
Rima Hussein, Berlin
Saadeddin Ziada, Gaza, Palestine
Sa’ed Atshan, Cambridge, MA
Saher al-Sous, Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, Palestine
Sakinah Hasib, Toronto, ON
Saleem Qawasme, Ramallah, Palestine
Salma Abu Ayyash, Cambridge, MA
Sami Majadla, Vancouver, BC
Sandra Dughman-Manzur, Toronto, ON
Sarah Abdulla, Winnipeg, MB
Sarah Abu-Sharar, Mississauga, ON
Selma al-Aswad, Seattle, WA
Sophia Azeb, Los Angeles, CA
Tala al-Jabri, Dubai, UAE
Wafa Qutaina, Jordan
Waleed Yosef, Lebanon
Walid Husseini, Jerusalem, Palestine
Wesam al-Khateeb, Amman, Jordan
Yara Abbas, Ramallah, Palestine
Ziad Suidan, Atlanta, GA
Zuhair Al-Atwi, Berne, NY

Annette Howell, Chicago, IL
Azadeh N. Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild
Bettejo Passalaqua, Spring Hill, FL
Bilal Ahmed, North Brunswick, NJ
Bill Shpikula, Toronto
Brenda Paterson, Kelowna, BC
Carrie Zadrazil, Canada
Cathy Bellefeuille, Ottawa, ON
Cheryl Blood Bouvier, Calgary, AB
Colleen Ross, Canada
Daniel Stover, Vancouver
Dara Bayer, Boston, MA
Deepa Naik, London
Dennis Kortheuer, Long Beach, CA
Dorice Tentchoff, BC
Edna Brass, Vancouver, BC
Elise LeBlanc, Halifax, NS
Emily Smith, Belgium
Emma Rosenthal, Los Angeles
Erika Munoz, Ottawa, Canada
Esther Nelson, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, Portland, OR
Frances Everett, Canada
Freda Guttman, Montreal
Hal Ward, Edmonton, AB
Helene Matz, Norway
Henry Zaccak, Toronto, ON
Ian Ki’laas Caplette, Nuu-Chah-Nulth Homelands
Ivan Tentchoff, Gibsons, BC
Jack Friesen, Courtenay, BC
Jake Javanshir, Toronto, ON
Jamilah Bahay, Calgary
Jane Lee, Brisbane
Janis Favel, Regina, SK
Joe Catron, Gaza, Palestine
Judith Syme, Montreal, QC
K. Elayne McClanen, Sandy Spring, MD
Karen MacRae, Toronto
Keith Hirsche, Cobble Hill, BC
Larry Zweig, Fuerth, Germany
Lauren Lowe, Hamilton, ON
Rev. Linda S. Trout, Etters, PA
Marcie Riel, Oshawa, ON
Marilyn Totten, Truro, NS
Marlene Newesri, New York, NY
Matthew Graber, Philadelphia, PA
Melissa Hill, Onamia, MN
Michael Billeaux, Madison, WI
Michael Carr, Florida
Michael Letwin, Brooklyn, NY
Nanice Ahmed, Riverside, CA
Natasha Bannan, New York
Nazbah Tom, Oakland, CA
Nicole Davis, Toronto
Nicole Gevirtz, Voorhees, NJ
Pamela Joyner, Canada
Pei-Ju Wang, Ottawa, unceded Algonquin territory
Peter Gose, Ottawa
Radoslaw Smaczny, Toronto, ON
Robert Smith, Crystal Lake, IL
Roberta Davenport, Imperial Beach, CA
Roger Beck, Toronto, ON
Rev. Sandra R. Mackie, Gettysburg, PA
Sayaka Yajima, Toronto, ON
Sheila Purcell, Ottawa, ON
Spenta Kandawalla, Oakland, CA
Sumbal Naseem, London, ON
Suzanne Weiss, Toronto, ON
Tammy Murphy, Philadelphia, PA
Tanya Rodrigues, Ottawa, ON
Tar de Moutonnoir, Montreal, QC
Rev. Thomas Johnson, Claremont
Tonomi Kinukawa, Oakland, CA
Dr. Trevor Purvis, Ottawa
Valerie Hopkins
Will Thomas, Auburn, NH

( / 28.12.2012)

Syria opposition leader rejects Moscow invitation

Free Syrian Army fighters are seen at a front line during fighting with
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad at Bustan al-Qasr district
in Aleppo Dec. 21.
ALEPPO PROVINCE, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) — Syria’s opposition leader has rejected an invitation from Russia for peace talks, dealing another blow to international hopes that diplomacy can be resurrected to end a 21-month civil war.

Russia, President Bashar Assad’s main international protector, said on Friday it had sent an invitation for a visit to Moaz Alkhatib, whose six-week-old National Coalition opposition group has been recognized by most Western and Arab states as the legitimate voice of the Syrian people.

But in an interview on Al Jazeera television, Alkhatib said he had already ruled out such a trip and wanted an apology from Moscow for its support for Assad.

“We have clearly said we will not go to Moscow. We could meet in an Arab country if there was a clear agenda,” he said.

“Now we also want an apology from (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov because all this time he said that the people will decide their destiny, without foreign intervention. Russia is intervening and meanwhile all these massacres of the Syrian people have happened, treated as if they were a picnic.”

“If we don’t represent the Syrian people, why do they invite us?” Alkhatib said. “And if we do represent the Syrian people why doesn’t Russia respond and issue a clear condemnation of the barbarity of the regime and make a clear call for Assad to step down? This is the basic condition for any negotiations.”

With the rebels advancing steadily over the second half of 2012, diplomats have been searching for months for signs that Moscow’s willingness to protect Assad is faltering.

So far Russia has stuck to its position that rebels must negotiate with Assad’s government, which has ruled since his father seized power in a coup 42 years ago.

“I think a realistic and detailed assessment of the situation inside Syria will prompt reasonable opposition members to seek ways to start a political dialogue,” Lavrov said on Friday.

That was immediately dismissed by the opposition: “The coalition is ready for political talks with anyone … but it will not negotiate with the Assad regime,” spokesman Walid al-Bunni told Reuters. “Everything can happen after the Assad regime and all its foundations have gone. After that we can sit down with all Syrians to set out the future.”

Brahimi to Moscow

Russia says it is behind the efforts of UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, fresh from a five-day trip to Damascus where he met Assad. Brahimi, due in Moscow for talks on Saturday, is touting a months-old peace plan for a transitional government.

That UN plan was long seen as a dead letter, foundering from the outset over the question of whether the transitional body would include Assad or his allies. Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, quit in frustration shortly after negotiating it.

But with rebels having seized control of large sections of the country in recent months, Russia and the United States have been working with Brahimi to resurrect the plan as the only internationally recognized diplomatic negotiating track.

Russia’s Middle East envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who announced the invitation to Alkhatib, said Russian officials were ready to meet him in another country. He said further talks were scheduled between the “three Bs” – himself, Brahimi and US Undersecretary of State William Burns.

Speaking in Damascus on Thursday, Brahimi called for a transitional government with “all the powers of the state”, a phrase interpreted by the opposition as potentially signalling tolerance of Assad remaining in some ceremonial role.

The United Nations press office in New York said Brahimi had not specifically said Assad should remain in office until the end of his presidential term in 2014.

Brahimi had said the transition “should start as soon as possible, that a government should be established as soon as possible, and that he hopes that the crisis can be solved in 2013 because it cannot wait until 2014”, it said in a statement.

But such a plan is anathema to the surging rebels, who now believe they can drive Assad out with a military victory, despite long being outgunned by his forces.

“We do not agree at all with Brahimi’s initiative. We do not agree with anything Brahimi says,” Colonel Abdel-Jabbar Oqaidi, who heads the rebels’ military council in Aleppo province, told reporters at his headquarters there.

Oqaidi said the rebels want Assad and his allies tried in Syria for crimes. Assad says he will stay on and fight to the death if necessary.

In the rebel-held town of Kafranbel, demonstrators held up cartoons showing Brahimi speaking to a news conference with toilet bowls in front of him, in place of microphones. Banners denounced the UN envoy with obscenities in English.

Diplomats impotent

Diplomacy has largely been irrelevant to the conflict so far, with Western states ruling out military intervention like the NATO bombing that helped topple Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi last year, and Russia and China blocking UN action against Assad.

Meanwhile, the fighting has grown fiercer and more sectarian, with rebels mainly from the Sunni Muslim majority battling Assad’s government and allied militia dominated by his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Still, Western diplomats repeatedly have touted signs of a change in policy from Russia, which they hope could prove decisive, much as Moscow’s withdrawal of support for Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic heralded his downfall a decade ago.

Bogdanov said earlier this month that Assad’s forces were losing ground and rebels might win the war, but Russia has since rowed back, with Lavrov last week reiterating Moscow’s position that neither side could win through force.

Still, some Moscow-based analysts see the Kremlin coming to accept it must adapt to the possibility of rebel victory.

“As the situation changes on the battlefield, more incentives emerge for seeking a way to stop the military action and move to a phase of political regulation,” said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Meanwhile, on the ground the bloodshed that has killed some 44,000 people continues unabated. According to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, at least 120 people were killed on Friday, a typical toll as fighting has escalated in recent months.

Activists said at least 13 people, including seven children aged five under, were killed in an air strike on the town of Safira southeast of Aleppo city. Video footage released by the activists showed several collapsed concrete buildings and at least 20 people searching through the rubble for survivors.

Government war planes bombarded the town of Assal al-Ward in the Qalamoun district of Damascus province for the first time, killing one person and wounding dozens, the observatory said.

In Aleppo, Syria’s northern commercial hub, clashes took place between rebel fighters and army forces around an air force intelligence building in the Zahra quarter, a neighborhood that has been surrounded by rebels for weeks.

( / 28.12.2012)

Rebels besiege airports in northern Syria


In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke rises from buildings from heavy shelling in Homs, Syria, on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Shaam News Network via AP video / AP Photo

BEIRUT — Syrian rebels stepped up their siege of a government helicopter base and clashed with soldiers near Aleppo’s international airport on Friday, part of an effort to chip away at the air power that poses the biggest challenge to their advances against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

That airborne threat came into stark relief the same day, when a government airstrike on a northern town killed 14 people – most of them women and children, activists said. More than 21-months into Syria’s conflict, the Assad regime is counting more than ever on its air force to block rebel gains.

Rebels in the north, a region largely clear of government troops, realize this and have launched campaigns to seize all the area’s airports, hoping such a move will protect their forces and the civilians who back them.

This push in many ways represents the mismatched nature of Syria’s civil war, with numerous but lightly armed rebels fighting a highly sophisticated army, albeit one badly weakened by defections.

Rebels say they have surrounded four airports in the northern province of Aleppo. In recent days, they have posted dozens of videos online showing fighters shooting mortars, homemade rockets and sniper rifles at targets inside the bases.

It remains unclear whether rebels will be able to seize any of the bases soon, but they have managed to stop air traffic at one and limit movement at others by firing on all approaching aircraft with heavy machine guns.

“The airports are now considered the most important thing the rebels can focus on because all of the strikes now come from the air,” said Aleppo activist Mohammed Saeed via Skype.

Saeed said clashes between rebels and government soldiers raged until Friday morning around the Mannagh helicopter base near the Turkish border. He said other rebel groups continued to hold positions around the Kuwiras military airport southwest of the city of Aleppo and clashed with soldiers near Aleppo’s international airport and neighboring Nerab military airport.

Rebels have numerical superiority and support from most of the population in the far north, making it easy for them to surround and cut the ground supply lines to government military bases.

But Assad’s forces still control the air, responding to rebel gains with airstrikes on their positions or residential areas, a tactic rebels consider collective punishment against civilians who back the revolt.

The rebels remain largely helpless against regime airpower, and credible reports of them shooting down government aircraft are rare. But many groups now have heavy caliber anti-aircraft guns they say act as a deterrent to low-flying aircraft.

Activist Hazem al-Azazi said via Skype that rebels have surrounded the Mannagh airport near the Turkish border and have stopped helicopter traffic in and out of the base for about a week.

On Friday, a government helicopter tried to drop food and ammunition to troops in the base, but the supplies fell to rebels, he said. The day before, a group of rebels sneaked into the base and destroyed two tanks. One rebel was killed and four injured before they got out, he added.

The fall of any of Aleppo’s airports would give a psychological boost the areas rebels and give them greater freedom of moment since ground forces often shell from inside the airports.

It would not, however, stop the airstrikes, most of which are carried out by jets from the central province of Hama or near the capital Damascus.

The airstrike on Friday killed 14 people in the town of al-Safira south of Aleppo, activists said.

The town, frequently hit by airstrikes, sits next to a large military complex with factories, air defense and artillery bases. Rebels have been attacking the base for weeks, and activists say the regime has been striking the town in revenge.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included two women and eight children.

An Aleppo activist who spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons provided names of the dead and said the town was hit because of the rebel attacks on the nearby base.

A video posted online that purported to show the site of the strike showed a large area covered with the rubble and the walls sheared off of a row of buildings nearby.

The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting.

Activists also reported large clashes near Damascus and in the southern town of Busra al-Harir. They also said rebel forces seized the al-Tanak oil field near the Iraqi border to the east.

International diplomacy has failed to slow Syria’s crisis, which anti-regime activists say has killed more than 40,000 people since March 2011.

Also on Friday, Russia’s foreign minister said Moscow had proposed talks with the main Syrian opposition coalition, even though it has criticized Western countries for recognizing the group.

Sergey Lavrov told reporters that Russia has contacted the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces through the Russian Embassy in Egypt to suggest a meeting with coalition leader Mouaz al-Khatib.

Al-Khatib criticized the invitation.

“If we don’t represent the Syrian people, why is he inviting us?” he said in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV, calling Assad’s ouster “a main condition in any negotiations.”

“The Syrian people haven’t heard one fair word from Russia to the Syrian people, especially to the children, innocent people and civilians who are killed every day with Russian weapons,” he said.

Russia is one of Assad’s strongest backers, although top officials have recently expressed some resignation to the idea that he could fall. Still, Russia opposes international calls for his ouster and wants a negotiated solution to the conflict.

The international envoy charged with pushing to end the civil war is due to meet Russian officials in Moscow this weekend.

During a visit to Damascus this week, Lakhdar Brahimi called for a transitional government.

The rebels have rejected his plan, and the Syrian government has not commented.

( / 28.12.2012)

Netanyahu set to win Israel election but rightists gain: polls

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) is seen during the launch of his Likud Beiteinu party campaign ahead of the upcoming January 22 national elections, in Jerusalem December 25, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

(Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is set to win a parliamentaryelection on January 22 although the popularity of a far-right party opposed to Palestinian statehood is growing, polls showed on Friday.

Two out of three surveys showed the right-wing Likud losing voters to political newcomer Naftali Bennett’s religious party Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home)and to a fractured center-left bloc.

All still predicted a strong right-wing coalition emerging in the 120-seat parliament, which would assure Netanyahu another term.

The daily Yedioth Ahronoth published a poll with Likud winning 33 seats, four less than a month ago. A poll in the Jerusalem Post showed Likud fell to 34, down from 39 just two weeks ago. A survey by Maariv said Likud held ground at 37.

Without a majority in parliament, Likud would have to join forces with other parties to form a government. Netanyahu could choose Bennett and ultra-Orthodox religious parties or team up with members of the center-left bloc.

The left-leaning Labor party remained in second place in all the polls, winning 17 or 18 seats.

Bennett’s party platform rejects a two-state solution with the Palestinians and is staunchly in favor of settlement building in the occupied West Bank – an issue which has stalled peace talks.

All the polls show him on an upward trend, winning between 12 and 14 seats.

( / 28.12.2012)

Ikea attempts to dodge responsibility for Israel store’s discriminatory delivery practices

Ikea shows no intention of ending delivery of its products to Israel’s illegal settlement colonies in the West Bank, a 10 December letter from the furniture giant shows.

For years, Ikea has been facilitating the delivery of products from its Israeli stores to residents of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Ikea has been informed several times that facilitation of such transport services boils down to complicity with Israel’s settlement colony enterprise.

Ikea was asked by the London-based Business & Human Rights Resource Centre to respond to the fact that Ikea in Israel’s transport company, Moviley Dror, delivers to Israeli settlements but refuses to deliver products to Palestinian population centers in the occupied West Bank, as I reported on my Electronic Intifada blog last month.

In its response (which can be downloaded fromt the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre website), Ikea attempts to evade responsibility for this blatant discrimination and normalization of an illegal situation and fails to address its delivery to Israel’s West Bank settlements. The company simply states that its local franchisee is responsible for the local management, investments and business decisions related to the Ikea stores in Israel.

Ikea repeats its claim that in 2010, the Israeli franchisee arranged for home delivery of Ikea products to people living in the areas controlled by the “Palestinian Authorities.” But as The Electronic Intifada reported last month, Moviley Dror refuses to deliver to Beit Sahour, claiming that the Bethlehem-area Palestinian village was too dangerous (but passing through Israeli checkpoints to deliver to the Beitar Illit settlement proved to be no problem).

“If there has been occasions when the delivery service has not worked as intended it is regrettable and something we will look into,” the company states in its 10 December letter. Although Ikea regrets the discriminatory practices of its Israeli franchise it offered no remedy.

It seems as if Ikea refuses to understand the difference between the indigenous Palestinians who live in their West Bank under Israel’s illegal occupation, and the Israeli settlers who illegally reside in that area.

Ikea “not convincing,” says expert

I asked Dr. Jeff Handmaker, senior lecturer in law, human rights and development at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam, for a comment on Ikea’s response. He wrote me in a 20 December email:

Inter IKEA Systems B.V., in their response to Business and Human Rights, only address half of the problem, namely their differential treatment of settlers living in illegal settlements and Palestinians living under occupation.

But even this is not convincing. Even if the IKEA franchisee were to resolve the issue of delivery to Palestinians, most are not be able to visit their stores to Israel’s control of movement into and out of the occupied territories and so they are excluded either way.

However, IKEA Systems B.V. are not addressing the main problem, namely their franchisee’s overt complicity in a serious human rights violation, lending support to the settlement enterprise.

Unless IKEA’s franchisee refuses to sell, let alone deliver products to settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories, IKEA Systems B.V. is still fully complicit in violations of international law.

(Adri Nieuwhof / /28.12.2012)

On the anniversary of 2008 war on Gaza, Palestinian organizations launch a call to EU citizens




Friday, December 28, 2012

On the anniversary of 2008 war on Gaza, Palestinian organizations launch a call to EU citizens

The campaign issued by grassroots networks and organizations across Palestine, calls to suspend EU-Israel Association Agreement and ACAA.

On the fourth anniversary of Israel’s 2008 war on Gaza in which it killed 1400 Palestinians including 300 children, a call urging EU citizens to ask their representatives to suspend the EU’s trade agreements with Israel, until it complies with international law, has been issued by Grassroots networks and organizations across Palestine.

Titled Time For Justice – A call from Palestine to EU citizens, the call has gone out in the 24 EU languages. It states that while recent “statements of concern regarding Israeli war crimes and international law violations are welcome, in practice Israel’s military occupation and apartheid policies receive direct and concrete support from Europe.”

Media contact: Abir Kopty +972546782420 and Haidar Eid +9720599441766

The groups Urge EU citizens “to act for justice now.” by telling their representatives to “suspend Europe’s trade agreements with Israel as well as end trade with companies operating in settlements on occupied territories until Israel fulfils its obligations under international law: Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

(per mail / 28.12.2012)

Iraqi Sunni protesters turn out in several cities

FALLUJAH, Iraq – Tens of thousands of Iraqi Sunnis angry over perceived second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government massed along a major western highway and elsewhere in the country Friday for the largest protests yet in a week of demonstrations.

Protesters chant slogans against Iraq’s Shiite-led government as they wave a national flag and a Syrian revolution flag during a demonstration in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. Thousands of Iraqi Sunnis massed along a major western highway and in other parts of the country Friday for what appear to be the largest protests yet in a week of demonstrations, intensifying pressure on the Shiite-led government. The blue placards in Arabic read, “Friday of honor.” 

The well-organized rallies, which took place after traditional Friday prayers, underscore the strength of a tenacious protest movement that appears to be gathering support among Sunnis, whose sense of grievance has been increased by arrests and prosecutions that they feel underscore Shiite political dominance.

The biggest of Friday’s demonstrations took place on a main road to Jordan and Syria that runs through the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the Sunni-dominated desert province of Anbar, west of Baghdad.

Several thousand protesters took to the streets in Fallujah, holding aloft placards declaring the day a “Friday of honor.” Some carried old Iraqi flags used during the era of former dictator Saddam Hussein, whose Sunni-dominated government was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion nearly a decade ago.

Others raised the current flag, which was approved in 2008. A few hoisted the banner of the predominantly Sunni rebels across the border who are fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Massive crowds also blocked the highway in Ramadi, further to the west, to demand “fair treatment” from the government and the release of prisoners, said Dhari Arkan, the deputy governor of Anbar province.

“The people have demands that must be met by the Baghdad government immediately or these demonstrations will spread nationwide,” Arkan said. “The people can bring down the regime, just like what happened in other Arab Spring countries.”

In the northern city of Mosul, abound 3,000 demonstrators took to the streets to denounce what they called the sidelining of Sunnis in Iraq and to demand the release of Sunni prisoners. As in protests earlier in the week, demonstrators there chanted the Arab Spring slogan: “The people want the downfall of the regime.”

Thousands likewise turned out in the northern Sunni towns of Tikrit and Samarra, where they were joined by lawmakers and provincial officials, said Salahuddin provincial spokesman Mohammed al-Asi.

At a conference in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned against a return to sectarian conflict and cautioned that the country is close to returning to the “dark days when people were killed because of their names or identities.”

He also used the occasion to take a jab at the protesters in Anbar.

“Nations that look for peace, love and reconstruction must choose civilized ways to express themselves. It is not acceptable to express opinions by blocking the roads, encouraging sectarianism, threating to launch wars and dividing Iraq,” he said. “Instead we need to talk, to listen to each other and to agree … to end our differences.”

The demonstrations follow the arrest last week of 10 bodyguards assigned to Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi, who comes from Anbar and is one of the central government’s most senior Sunni officials.

While the detentions triggered the latest bout of unrest, the demonstrations also tap into deeper Sunni fears that they are being marginalized by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Although the government includes some Sunni Arabs and Kurdish officials as part of a power-sharing agreement, it draws the bulk of its support from Iraq’s majority Shiites.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, another top-ranking Sunni politician, is now living in exile in Turkey after being handed multiple death sentences earlier this year for allegedly running death squads – a charge he dismisses as politically motivated.

Sunni-dominated Anbar province has been the scene of several large demonstrations and road blockages since last Saturday. The vast territory was once the heart of the deadly Sunni insurgency that emerged after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Al-Qaida is believed to be rebuilding in pockets of Anbar, and militants linked to it are thought to be helping Sunni rebels in Syria.

( / 28.12.2012)

Dochtertje zes jaar onthouden van nodige medische zorg

Vader en stiefmoeder kunnen en willen met de hieronder aangedragen feiten aantonendat het dochtertje van vader reeds sinds 2006 werd, en tot op heden nog steeds wordt onthouden van noodzakelijk(e) medisch(e) onderzoek en behandeling i.v.m. haar bij de geboorte opgelopen“Erbse Parese”! 

Het was vader bekend dat dochtertje sinds oktober 2009 door pleegouders van door het UMC noodzakelijk geacht onderzoek ten behoeve van reductie van de beperkingen en verbetering van haar mobiliteit, werd onthouden en dat bovendien door de opstelling van kinderarts D. van het M.ziekenhuis, de noodzakelijke fysiotherapie in april 2010 dreigde te worden stopgezet en derhalve kon worden gesproken van bedreiging van een volwaardige lichamelijke gezondheid van dochtertje.
Dit vormde voor vader dan ook de legitieme aanleiding dochtertje aan het pleeggezin te onttrekken. Vader was daartoe vanuit zijn gezaghebbende hoedanigheid immers wettelijk verplicht!

Pas in 2012, door feiten uit de producties van het (vader in januari 2012 ter hand gestelde) verweerschrift van pleegouders d.d. 23 december 2011, is vader gebleken dat dochtertje al sinds 2006 werd onthouden van aangeraden onderzoek en nu nog steeds van onderzoek wordt onthouden 

De feiten

De onderstaand geciteerde brief d.d. 21 september 2011, van de pleegzorgmedewerker V.aan de huidige gezinsvoogd van dochtertje, M. toont aan, dat reeds in 2006 het Universiteits Medisch Centrum (UMC), een MRI scan in het belang van dochtertje achtte en dat de toenmalige gezinnsvoogd: B. dochtertje deze MRI scan heeft onthouden. 

Van: V.
Verzonden: woensdag 21 september 2011
Aan: M.
Onderwerp: reactie op brief dr. G. / M.ziekenhuis (23.08.2011)
Naar aanleiding van de brief (d.d. 23.08.2011) van de kinderarts dr. G. (M.ziekenhuis) aan
Jeugdzorg heb ik een gesprek met pleegmoeder gehad. Dit gesprek vond plaats n.a.v. de volgende informatie in genoemde brief onder het kopje ‘Anamnese’ : “Er werd toen besioten om een MRI onder narcose te vervaardigen, dit is echter niet geëffectueerd, ze is hiervoor bij herhaling opgeroepen door het UMC. Ook heeft er elektronische briefwisseling plaatsgevonden tussen de biologische vader van dochtertje en de neurochirurg, M. Pleegmoeder gaf als reactie op bovengenoemde informatie het volgende aan: “in 2006 kwam het advies voor een MRI onder narcose. Dit advies is met Jeugdzorg besproken. De toenmalige voogd van Jeugdzorg, B. heeft in overleg met betrokkenen besloten dat een MRI onder narcose, gericht op een operatie, toen niet moest plaatsvinden, daar hij van mening was dat dit in die periode niet in het belang van dochtertje was.De overwegingen die toen golden waren de geringe bewegingsbeperking van de arm/schouder van dochtertje met daarbij haar emotionele kwetsbaarheid. Tevens was bekend dat het UMC bij de operatie van 2005 (informatie vader) heeft aangegeven dat een positief effect van deze operatie tot het 4e jaar kan plaatsvinden. De uitnodigingen van het UMC voor een MRI onder narcose hebben pleegouders in die tijd niet ontvangen. Deze zijn in die periode verstuurd naar Jeugdzorg Groningen. De pleeggezin plaatsing was, op beslissing van de voogd, in die periode nog een geheime plaatsing.
Hartelijke groet,

De onderstaand geciteerde brief d.d. 22 oktober 2009 van het UMC toont aan dat het UMC nader onderzoek door meerdere specialisten, in het belang van dochtertje achtte en vader daartoe een oproep deed die hij direct doorzond naar het pleeggezin.

“Geachte ouders/verzorgers
Op verzoek van Dr M, coördinator van het Zenuwletsel team
zend U hierbij een afspraak voor het spreekuur Zenuwletsel.
Hier zal dochtertje door meerdere specialisten worden onderzocht.
Wij hebben voor U de volgende afspraak gemaakt:
Dinsdag 24 november 2009 om 11.00 uur
U kunt zich melden op de Poli Zenuwletsel BO-Q.
Mocht deze datum U niet schikken wilt U dan contact opnemen zodat wij de
afspraak kunnen verzetten.
Met vriendelijke groet,
Mevr. O.

De onderstaand geciteerde verklaring van het UMC d.d. 22 december 2009, inreactie op het verzuim van pleegouders te verschijnen op de afspraak van 22 oktober 2009 en waarin nog eens duidelijk op het belang en de medische noodzaak van onderzoek werd gewezen, toont aan dat de pleegfamilie ten koste van het belang van dochtertje, geen gevolg heeft gegeven aan deze afspraak. 

Afd. Neurochirurgie/Orthopedie/Revalidatie/Fysiotherapie.
Polikliniek Zenuwletsel
Dr. M.
dat. 22 december 2009
ond. Dochtertje 
“Medische verklaring
Dochtertje is onder controle bij het spreekuur zenuwletsel van het UMC in verband met obstetrische plexopathie links. Bij vorige controles waren er aanwijzingen dat zich een contractuur aan het voordoen is van het schoudergewricht. Derhalve is het belangrijk dat zij nogmaals gezien wordt op dit specialistische spreekuur samen met de orthopeadisch chirurg.
Het is ons bekend dat dochtertje in een pleeggezin woont, hetgeen mogelijk praktische bezwaren oproept, maar ons inziens is het medisch noodzakelijk dat wij haar op korte termijn nogmaals controleren.
Met collegiale hoogachting,
P. Neurochirurg”
Deze brief is geautoriseerd

De onderstaand geciteerde passage uit de brief van kinderarts van het M.ziekenhuis, D. (vetrouwensarts jeugdzorg) d.d. 21 april 2010, toont aan dat deze kinderarts, in tegenstelling tot het UMC, ten koste van het belang van dochtertje nader onderzoek op dat moment en fysiotherapie voor langere tijd NIET medisch noodzakelijk achtte.

“Gezien het feit dat ze zich uitstekend kan redden, ze kan fietsen en ze kan schommelen, er is slechts sprake van gering krachtverlies, lijkt het niet onverantwoord om gedurende langere tijd de fysiotherapie uit te stellen.Op uw vraag of er medisch bezwaar bestaat tegen een bezoek in het UMC kan ik u meedelen dat er medisch geen bezwaar tegen bestaat, ik kan me wel voorstellen dat er emotionele bezwaren tegen bestaan.
“De medische noodzaak voor een herbeoordeling is op dit moment m.i. niet aanwezig.
Hopende u hiermee voldoende te hebben geïnformeerd,
Met vriendelijke groeten,
D. kinderarts” 

Op 13 april 2010 werd vader door pleegzorg ervan op de hoogte gesteld dat op 20 april een afspraak was gepland voor een bezoek van pleegouders met Linda aan het UMC waarbij pleegzorg, (schandalig genoeg), vader verzocht NIET bij dit onderzoek aanwezig te zijn. Vader had evenwel geen enkel vertrouwen meer in het pleeggezin, noch in jeugd- en pleegzorg en wist dat dochtertje medisch noodzakelijk onderzoek en behandeling sinds oktober 2009 stelselmatig werd onthouden en hij nam juist daarom op 23 juni 2010 dochtertje mee naar het buitenland en heeft haar daar laten onderzoeken en behandelen waarbij werd vastgesteld dat dochtertje weldegelijk regelmatige fysiotherapie niet had mogen ontberen. Vader vernam pas in januari 2012, (uit voornoemde verweerschrift), dat op 20 april 2010 dochtertje uiteindelijk toch in het LUMC is onderzocht en vernam toen ook pas de uitslag die inhield dat er bij dat onderzoek in het belang van dochtertje wederom op een MRI scan werd geattendeerd. 

Het onderstaande antwoord van Neurochirurg P. per email d.d. 10 februari 2011, op een schrijven van vader waarin hij om z’n mening vraagt over de situatie, toont aan,,,,,, Nou ja,,,,, dit behoeft toch eigenlijk geen verdere uitleg!!!

het is inderdaad een moeilijk probleem.
als wij als gespecialiseerd centrum zeggen dat het sterk geadviseerd wordt dat zij hier door onze kinderfysiotherapeute en onze orthopaedisch chirurg wordt gezien, en wij daar door anderen worden over-ruled, kunnen wij helaas niets voor u betekenen.
mijn brief uit 2009 blijft wat mij betreft nog steeds van kracht.
veel sterkte
Department of Neurosurgery
University Medical Center
The Netherlands

Dochtertje is sinds december 2010 weer terug in het pleeggezin en onderstaande passage uit geciteerde brief d.d. 23 augustus 2011, van kinderarts G.van het M.ziekenhuis toont aan dat tot op heden nog steeds geen MRI scan heeft plaatsgevonden en deze scan en eventuele therapie NIET ZAL PLAATSVINDEN voordat er duidelijkheid bestaat over de juridische situatie, dus over de voogdij!

Anamnese: in verband met de uitval van spinale zenuwen C5 en C6 + partieel C7 vond operatieve exploratie plaats op 06-10-2005; hierbij bleek een partiële neurotmesis CS, C6 en een voornamelijk axonotmesis van C5, C6, C7. Geadviseerd werd toen post operatief te starten met kinderfysiotherapie of dit geëffectueerd werd onttrekt zich aan mijn waarneming. 
Bij poliklinische controle in juli 2006 in het UMC viel op dat er een passieve exorotatie range in adductie fors beperkt was. Ook waren er aanwijzingen voor posterieure subluxatie van de humeruskop. Er werd toen besloten om een MRT onder narcose te vervaardigen, dit is echter niet geëffectueerd, ze is hiervoor bij herhaling opgeroepen door het UMC. Ook heeft er elektronische briefwisseling plaatsgevonden tussen de biologische vader van dochtertje en de neurochirurg. Kinderfysiotherapie vindt sedert de leeftijd van 9 maanden plaats; dit startte kort nadat dochtertje in het pleeggezin was geplaatst. 
Conclusie en beleid: restverschijnselen met bewegingsbeperking in de schouder +beperking in de functionaliteit van het gebruik van de linkerarm. Nadere diagnostiek wordt wenselijk geacht door de behandelaars in het UMC. Gezien dochtertje’s afwerende gedrag zou een eventueel MRI onder narcose moeten plaatsvinden. Mogelijk zijn er ook nog alternatieven wat betreft de diagnostiek. Gezien de onduidelijke juridische situatie momenteel lijkt het me gewenst dat de gerechtelijke uitspraak wordt afgewacht alvorens volgende stappen worden gezet in diagnostiek en eventueel therapie.” 
Met vriendelijke groeten,
Dr. G. neonatoloog

Wij hopen nu toch duidelijk genoeg is geworden dat het verblijf van dochtertje in het pleeggezin en de voogdij bij jeugdzorg een reële bedreiging vormt voor haar gezondheid omdat haar de gelegenheid tot het inperken van de gevolgen van haar “Erbse Pares” al sind 2006 stelselmatig wordt onthouden en daardoor reeds in 2010 aangetoond, scoliose is ontstaan!

( / 28.12.2012)

Report: Palestinians hold protest in Israeli city of Lod

TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Palestinians in the city of Lod, or al-Ludd in Arabic, demonstrated on Friday against attempts by Israel’s government to Judaize the city, Ynet reported.

The protest in the Israeli city was organized by the Islamic Movement and other groups and saw demonstrators march from a mosque towards the city center.

“They are doing everything to expel all Arabs from Lod. We will not be daunted by this policy. We shall continue to fight and protect our lands,” an organizer of the protest was quoted as saying by Ynet.

“We will not allow the Israeli government or any other body to expel us from the city where we were born. Discrimination and racism must be stopped,” another protester was quoted as saying.

Around twenty percent, or 1.3 million people, of Israel’s population are Palestinian.

They are largely the descendants of Palestinians that managed to remain during the 1948 war, when an estimated 700,000 were expelled from or fled their homes during fighting that would see the establishment of the state of Israel.

Rights groups say that Palestinians living in Israel face discrimination in employment, education and public funding within Israel.

( / 28.12.2012)