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UN Condemns 'Cowardly Israeli War Crime'

Zionist Extremism Key Impediment to Peace | 20.01.2008 22:14 | Anti-racism | World

The media's virtual reversal of the facts was also predicted ...

UN rights official slams 'cowardly Israeli war crime' in Gaza
Sat Jan 19, 8:08 AM ET

GENEVA (AFP) - Israel's targeting of a Hamas government office which caused serious casualties at a nearby wedding party was a "war crime" and those responsible should be punished, a United Nations official said Saturday.

John Dugard, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories, also slammed the killing of Palestinians in other attacks and the closing of border crossings.

"The killing of some 40 Palestinians in Gaza in the past week, the targeting of a Government office near a wedding party venue with what must have been foreseen loss of life and injury to many civilians, and the closure of all crossings into Gaza raise very serious questions about Israel's respect for international law and its commitment to the peace process," Dugard said in a statement.

"Recent action violates the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention," Dugard charged in the statement put out by the UN human rights commission.

"It also violates one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets."

He said that "Israel must have known" about the wedding party in the Gaza Strip near to the interior ministry when it launched missiles at the ministry building on Friday.

The massive air strike destroyed the former interior ministry building in Gaza City, now abandoned, sending a tide of shrapnel crashing against adjacent apartment buildings and killing a 47-year-old woman.

Around 50 people were wounded in the blast, including several children. At least 30 of the victims had been attending the wedding party near the building.

"Those responsible for such cowardly action are guilty of serious war crimes and should be prosecuted and punished for their crimes," Dugard said.

The United States and other participants in the Annapolis conference in November to relaunch the Middle East peace process "are under both a legal and a moral obligation to compel Israel to cease its actions against Gaza and to restore confidence in the peace process, ensure respect for international law and protect civilian life," he said.

(Annapolis was about attacking Iran, and gaining US support for Israel's planned reoccupation of Gaza.)

"We attacked the building and nothing else," an Israeli army spokeswoman said of Friday's raid, calling the target a "headquarters" of the radical Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip.

(The democratically-elected Government of the Palestinians. The building was targeted as a continuation of Israel's program of destroying this elected Government.)

On Thursday, Israel announced a complete closure of the Gaza Strip after a sharp escalation in rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli communities across the border and retaliatory raids by the Israeli army.

(Note that the escalated Israeli Aggression and killings of innocent Palestinians since Annapolis - which has more than doubled - as well as the imposition of illegal measures of Collective Punishment,are what provoked the retaliatory, but fairly harmless, rocket attacks. Israel's own defence staff warned that this would happen, but it's now obvious that this is what Israel's ruling Extremists wanted.)

Israel orders closure of Gaza crossings as Palestinian anger and casualties increase
Rory McCarthy, Guardian

Gaza City
Saturday January 19, 2008

Moin al-Wadia lay on his hospital bed beneath a window yesterday, soaking up the last of the day's winter sunshine. Around him sat his family, with boxes of sweet pastries and bouquets of flowers, as they tried to explain the growing anger and frustration of the people of Gaza.

Wadia had been working at a mechanics' market on Tuesday morning when the Israeli military launched a major ground incursion, beginning a new round of intense fighting in Gaza. When he heard the sound of gunfire, Wadia began to leave but was knocked to the ground by the force of an Israeli shell. It sliced off his left foot, shattered his right leg and shrapnel lacerated his stomach.

Doctors at the Shifa hospital have told him his best chance for any kind of recovery is to leave for treatment abroad, perhaps in Jordan. But Israel closed the crossings into Gaza yesterday and prevented even UN trucks from delivering food aid.

It was the latest stage in an intensified Israeli operation in Gaza, but one which now effectively prevents food assistance coming in and people and exports going out. The UN refugee agency said the latest closure left it unable to deliver 15 truckloads of aid yesterday and warned of growing despair in Gaza, where 80% of the population already relies on UN food.

"It is my right to live and for my wife and children to live," Wadia said. "But the ordinary people are getting lost in this dispute. Of course we have to stop these rockets. Only a peace agreement can put an end to this violence and destruction." His wife, Wassima, said: "We just don't know what is happening. People talk about peace, but we see the opposite."

Last night the Gaza death toll over the past four days stood at 34, among them at least 10 civilians.

An Israeli warplane bombed the offices of the Palestinian interior ministry yesterday, flattening one wing of the empty building, killing a woman attending a wedding party next door and wounding at least 46 other civilians, some of them children playing football in the street, hospital staff said.

Yesterday, Israel sealed all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to pressure Hamas to halt the rocket fire, but the attacks continued, with 16 missiles falling in southern Israel, including one that damaged a daycare centre, although it caused no casualties.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 160 makeshift rockets into southern Israel and on Tuesday shot dead an Ecuadorian kibbutz volunteer.

Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, said no shipment would cross into Gaza without his personal approval. A spokesman for the defence ministry said the closure was a "signal" to Hamas, the Islamist group that won Palestinian elections two years ago and last summer seized full control of Gaza. The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, warned that his military operations in Gaza would continue "without compromise, without concessions and without mercy".

The fighting, the worst for more than a year, raises serious questions about the viability of recently renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

On the other side of Gaza City yesterday, Ahmad Yazagi received mourners at a funeral tent near his home. A few hundred metres away at midday on Wednesday his two brothers, Mohammad, 27, and Amr, 38, and his nephew Amir, eight, were killed when their car was struck by an Israeli missile. The Israeli military later admitted it was a mistake, but Yazagi said his family had received no explanation, apology or offer of compensation.

"What is our guilt? We ask to live in peace and we ask them to leave us alone," he said, surrounded by family and neighbours. "With one hand the Israelis talk about peace, with the other they continue fighting."

The deaths left Yazagi, 26, the sole wage earner for his extended family. He earns 1,000 shekels (£135) a month as a temporary labourer at the health ministry and inherits the £15,000 debt of his brother, who was setting up a scrap metal business.

The UN says about half the strip's 1.5 million people no longer have access to fresh water, because Israel has restricted fuel supplies, which in turn halts pumps and reduces electricity production. Although the UN has food for the next two months in its warehouses, the closure of crossings has limited supplies and forced up prices.,,2243432,00.html

Yet again in violation
Jordan Times

January 19, 2008

The killing in Gaza continues and has now been complemented by the illegally imposed collective punishment of preventing humanitarian aid and food supplies from reaching this impoverished strip of land.

Israel, yet again, stands in breach of international law governing the behaviour of occupying forces and, yet again, is allowed to get away with it.

The UN has protested. The Palestinian Authority has protested. Arab and Muslim countries have protested. But all of this is water off a duck’s back with Israel. Until the EU and, more importantly, the US protest, clearly and unambiguously, Israel will continue the murder and the mayhem.

It is a joke, an absolute joke, for an American president to come and talk about peace in a year when the American administration will not even lift a finger to prevent the most egregious obstacles to such peace, namely outrageous violence and the most flagrant violations of international law, international humanitarian law and any reasonable definition of ethical behaviour.

Let us recount for the people who want to blame Hamas and other groups in Gaza and their homemade rockets. Since Tuesday, and an Israeli military incursion into occupied territory that kicked off this latest conflagration, 34 Gazans have been killed, at least ten of them civilians, one of whom a guest at a wedding when Israeli war planes bombed a building next to where celebrations were held. The building had been empty for months, but was in the middle of a residential area, and the incident shows not only that Israel takes absolutely no account of civilian lives when it plans its military operations, but also that its much vaunted intelligence network is not as good as its reputation, but doesn’t have to be when overwhelming sheer force is used in any case.

In that same period, one Ecuadorean kibbutz worker was killed. Nearly 200 rockets were fired at Israel in response (and let’s get this right: the Palestinians suffer a belligerent occupation. Any violence, justified or not, is a reaction to that occupation. The rocket attacks cannot be aggression. Only the occupation is) and little human or material damage resulted. There is no justification for such a level of Israeli violence.

The tiny sliver of hope from the Annapolis process is being destroyed right now. Considering that this was the brainchild of the US president, one would have thought that he would be more eager to do something about it.

Hamas shuts down Gaza power plant

(That's an interesting headline ... Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that "Israel's Collective Punishment of Gaza Forces Power Plant to Go Off-line".)

Gaza City was plunged into darkness after nightfall Sunday when Hamas officials shut down the territory's only electricity plant, following a cutoff of fuel from Israel.

Israel blockaded Gaza Thursday as a pressure tactic against militants who have been firing rockets at Israel every day.

(Israeli officials have already stated that this is about "suffocating Hamas", not rockets, and when they imposed these illegal measures, their own defence staff warned that they would provoke violence.)

The stricken power plant generates about one third of Gaza's electricity. The rest, which comes from Israel, was not affected by the blockade, Israeli officials said.

(But it has already been restricted by these illegal measures.)

But Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel's defense ministry, said Gaza has enough fuel to run the plant, and accused Palestinian officials of trying to create the impression of a crisis that did not exist.

(Most of Israel's defence officials are proven liars, so who cares?)

The fuel shortage was a result of Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision on Thursday to halt all shipments to the Strip.

(Months ago, Barak planned to attack Gaza, and now, it appears that he's also planning its reoccupation. This is about increasing the Palestinians' suffering, and softening them up for that attack.)

Ban Ki-moon: End Gaza violence, blockades

Barak's decision came after Hamas renewed Kassam rocket fire last week, resulting in unusually heavy barrages on Sderot.

(That's utter BS. Barak's past actions, as predicted by his own defence staff, are what provoked this retaliation.)

The defense minister decided then to tighten the blockade on the Strip, saying that only humanitarian cases of an extreme nature would be considered.

Residents of Gaza City were buying up batteries and candles, and batteries, as well as basic foods like rice, flour and cooking oil.

There were no signs of panic, however, as Gazans have been living with fuel cutbacks, power outages and shortages of supplies since Hamas took over the seaside territory in June.

(After corrupt elements of Fatah, being used by the US and Israel's as proxies, failed in a violent coup attempt which divided the Palestinians' unity Government, just as Israel wanted.)

But the power plant's closure would mean the loss of a third of the electricity for the territory's residents, largely affecting the 400,000 people in Gaza City, the territory's main population center.

"We are going to shut down completely within hours," said Rafik Maliha, director of the power plant, around midday Sunday. The regular fuel shipment from Israel hadn't arrived Sunday because the fuel terminal was closed, and the plant had nearly no stored reserves, he said.

Hospitals can move to generators when the power goes out, but will have to cut back some activities like laundry, waste incineration and sterilization, hospital officials said. People still had enough fuel to cook Sunday and were able to power their electric heaters, but it was not clear how long that would last.

In addition to the fuel it receives from Israel to power its electrical plant, Gaza gets about two-thirds of its electricity directly from Israel. Israeli officials said that supply would not be affected.

The UN organization in charge of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warned the move would drastically affect hospitals, sewage treatment plants and water facilities.

"The logic of this defies basic humanitarian standards," said Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency.

Cabinet minister Zeev Boim said that rather than condemning Israel's move, the UN should condemn Palestinian terrorists for subjecting Israeli civilians to barrages of rockets. "I don't hear the UN's voice," Boim said.

(The UN knows that Israel's measures are responsible for provoking the violence. But they have called for peace. This minister is simply Changing The Subject.)

The Nahal Oz fuel terminal in Israel that supplies Gaza remained closed Sunday because of the Palestinian rocket fire, defense ministry spokesman Dror said. But there was still fuel in Gaza, and the closure would not lead to a crisis, he said.

"If they shut it down, it's not because of a fuel shortage, but because they want to create the impression of a crisis," Dror said. The power plant shutdown, he said, would "not be comfortable, but it's not a humanitarian crisis."

Despite the damage the sanctions were causing Gaza's population, Hamas said its attacks on Israel would not cease.

"We will not raise the white flag, and we will not surrender," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

As Predicted: Gaza Reoccupation Planned

As Predicted: Israel Attacks Gaza

Gaza Food Supplies 'Getting Worse by the Day'

Israel Destroys Gaza Interior Ministry, Blocks UN Aid

Probe: At Least Half of Palestinians Killed by IDF Were Civilians

Israeli Attacks on Palestinians, Killings, Doubled Since Annapolis

UN Condemns Collective Punishment of Gaza

Zionist Extremism Key Impediment to Peace