Quote of the day – (8th in our series)

Today’s quote of the day is from the Jerusalem Post interview with the Israeli military’s Coordinator of [Israeli] Government Activities in the [Palestinian] territories (COGAT), Major-General Eitan Dangot, who decides on a daily basis exactly what can get into or out of the Gaza Strip, or not: “The Palestinians in Gaza have for years been receiving the same amount of food which is sent in according to the amount they request,” he says. “Even now, with our more liberal policy, they are still asking for the same amount, which means they were never really lacking”… This JPost interview is posted here.

This JPost story reports that “As evidence, Dangot pulls out a chart showing the number of trucks carrying food that have been allowed into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing from as far back as 2006. Then, Israel was allowing in an average of 63 trucks a day of food. In 2007, the number was 67; in 2008, 71; and until June the average remained the same”.

Dangot tells the JPost that “Ensuring the balance is difficult,” Dangot admits. “Our job though is to help the regular civilian population and what we do is ultimately for the simple Palestinian on the street, not for Hamas … I saw that there was an opportunity to expand our policies while at the same ensuring that Hamas is isolated and not allowed to develop an economy,” he says.

Continue reading Quote of the day – (8th in our series)

14-month old child dies of tear gas inhalation in East Jerusalem + more

A 14-month old boy died of tear gas inhalation in the Isawiyya neighborhood of East Jerusalem on Friday. The toddler was apparently at home when the tear gas was fired [by Israeli Border Police], though Israeli media reports misleadingly suggest that the child died “during a riot”. YNet is also reporting here that “a possibility that the infant’s death was accidental – as a result of a gas leak at his home – is also being investigated”. An Israeli police spokesperson told the media that no report of an infant’s death has been received.

[And, a 20-year old fishermen was reported killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza coast on Friday.]

Earlier in the week, two men were killed in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan at 4 a.m. on Wednesday. A private Israeli security guard driving alone in the neighborhood said he felt threatened and feared for his life when he came upon the men, and fired.

Normally, people should be able to be out on the streets at 4 a.m. without fear of being shot and killed as a suspected threat. One victim had a criminal record — and a screwdriver and a knife in his pocket — YNet reported.

But, there has been no call yet for any investigation into this killing.
UPDATE on SUNDAY 26 SEPTEMBER: Lisa Goldman has just reported in +972 magazine that the Association for Civil Rights in Israel has formally requested a [police only?] investigation. Her article is posted here.

A spokesperson for the private security agency which employed the man who did the shooting told YNet that “The guards asked for permission to use crowd dispersal means, but were turned down, so the only weapon left is a pistol … The security guards’ job is to safeguard the [n.b. – Jewish] residents’ lives and property. They should not have to deal with disturbances.” This is posted here.

Continue reading 14-month old child dies of tear gas inhalation in East Jerusalem + more

Turkish President stands firm on Israeli responsibility for Flotilla fiasco

An Associated Press report published in Haaretz informs us that: “Turkish President Abdullah Gul said late Monday that Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla would have sparked war ‘in old times’.”


Gul repeated his country’s demand, made following the Israeli naval attack at sea on the Freedom Flotilla in the Eastern Mediterranean, that Israel “must adhere to international law and take public responsibility for the attack”.

In an interview with AP in New York, where Gul is one of many world leaders attending a special high-level session of the UN General Assembly, he said: “It is not possible to act as though this incident did not take place … In the old world, in the old times, if such an incident were to take place, wars would follow … But in our world today, it is international law that has to be taken into consideration … It is up to Israel. They have to do what is necessary since they are the ones that created the incident,” he added”.

The AP report said that senior Israeli sources had confirmed that Gul had made an Israeli apology a condition for meeting Israel’s President Shimon Peres in New York. Gul did not tell AP that this was a Turkish condition, but AP noted that “Peres said … that the planned meeting was scrapped because Turkey had set unacceptable conditions”.

Continue reading Turkish President stands firm on Israeli responsibility for Flotilla fiasco

Architect Frank Gehry takes clear stand in support of artists boycott of Ariel

When Architect Frank Gehry pulled out of the Museum of Tolerance project being built by the Simon Wiesenthal Center with the backing of the Jerusalem Municipality on a corner of the ancient Mamilla Cemetary, he didn’t make his motives publicly clear.

There was dissembling and vagueness all around.

But, Gehry did pull out his drawings and plans with him — meaning that the Museum of Tolerance project, which was underfunded by at least half for the project Gehry designed, would have to start almost from scratch in preparing a new design.

There was talk that this blow, Gehry’s pulling out, could jeopardize the Museum of Tolerance project so badly that it would be unrecoverable.

But, there was no public confirmation of the motives, or of the impact.

Now, today, Haaretz has reported that “World-renowned architect Frank Gehry and the legendary pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim joined Tuesday the international campaign in support of the Israeli actors’ refusal to perform in the new cultural center of Ariel, according to the website of Jewish Voices for Peace”.

Continue reading Architect Frank Gehry takes clear stand in support of artists boycott of Ariel

IDF still used lethal ammunition against demonstrators eight year after instructions to ban use for crowd control + HRW said there are strong due process concerns about military trial of Abdullah Abu Rahmeh

The IDF’s Maj. Igor Moiseev, who was the Binyamin Brigade’s operations officer for two years, gave expert testimony during the sentencing phase of the trial of Bil’in activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh in a military court last week that he was not aware of instructions banning the use of a certain weapon, the Ruger rifle, as a method of crowd control.

This became clear, Haaretz reported, “When Abu-Rahma’s attorney Gabi Laski inquired if Moiseev knew that the military advocate general had ruled that Ruger rifles are not to be used to disperse protests because they are potentially lethal.” Moiseev said he did not know that.

The Ruger rifle uses 0.22″ caliber bullets, which the Israeli military’s Judge Advocate General have classified as live ammunition.

The instructions date from 2001.

Continue reading IDF still used lethal ammunition against demonstrators eight year after instructions to ban use for crowd control + HRW said there are strong due process concerns about military trial of Abdullah Abu Rahmeh

Sabra + Shatila massacre – the day the world found out

The horror simply does not disappear.

That there are other horrors in the world does not in any way diminish what happened 28 years ago in Sabra + Shatila, where massacres took place in two undefended Palestinian refugee camps in west Beirut.

It was, indeed, “one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century” …

What happened was incited — and justified — by repetitious gratuitous and baseless accusations that “terrorists”, with possible weapons caches, were holed up in those camps.

One of the first outsiders to arrive at the scene was British journalist Robert Fisk of The Independent, who came to the camp with other journalists on early Saturday morning, the 18th of September, 1982 — 28 years ago today.

Here, in a video made over a year ago, he recounts what he saw that day:

Leila Shahid, a former PLO Ambassador in Ireland, Netherlands, and France, and now Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels, was born in Beirut and was living there during the 1982 siege masterminded by Israel’s Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

She and Linda Butler of the Journal of Palestine Studies published — in 2002, the 20th anniversary of the massacres — an abbrieviated version of Shahid’s longer study and some of the witness testimony she had collected.

Continue reading Sabra + Shatila massacre – the day the world found out

Sabra + Shatila massacre – 28 years ago today

It was, indeed, “one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century” …

Franklin Lamb wrote in an article published in The Daily Star [Lebanon] yesterday that “The untreated psychic wounds are still open. Accountability, justice and basic civil rights for the survivors are still denied”.

Lamb writes in that article, and in an earlier one we reported on yesterday here, that the massacre in the refugee camp took place from 16 to 18 September, 1982.

But, he says in both of these pieces that there is evidence of a continuing massacre of camp residents the next day, on 19 September, which took place in the Cite Sportive, where people who had been rounded up from inside the camp had been transported.

According to Lamb, a number of journalists “concur that more slaughter was done during the 24 hour period after 8 am Saturday [18 September], the hour the Israeli Kahan Commission, which declined to interview any Palestinians, ruled that the Israelis had stopped all the killing”. This Daily Star article is posted here.

The slaughter of unarmed Palestinian (and some Lebanese) residents of the refugee camp is blamed on the Lebanese Forces.

Israeli Army officers were stationed on rooftops overlooking the camp. The Israeli forces are accused of assisting their then-allies, the Lebanese Forces, by cordoning off the camp — and of not intervening to stop what some of them saw — and heard — was happening inside the camp 28 years ago this weekend.

Israel’s then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had raced his troops north to encircle the Lebanese capital in order to end, after a nearly two-month siege, what was called a “Palestinian state-within-a-state” led by the late Yasser Arafat, who had finally agreed to be evacuated with all his fighters by sea, “under a UN umbrella”, some two weeks before the massacre.

The Palestinian refugee camps were left utterly defenseless.

An Israeli commission of inquiry found that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for inaction during the massacre. He resigned from his post soon afterwards — but his career in Israeli politics was far from finished [Sharon succeeded Ehud Barak as Israel’s Prime Minister in early 2001].

There was, however, never any UN commission of inquiry, or special tribunal…

Today’s edition of The Daily Star reports on a seminar on the Sabra + Shatila massacre that was held yesterday in the Commodore Hotel in Beirut: “Representatives of several Lebanese and Palestinian groups along with human rights activists convened in a seminar entitled ‘Where Have the Legal Pursuits in the Sabra and Shatila Massacres Reached?‘, that was held in Le Meridian Commodore hotel in Beirut … [Lebanon’s] Information Minister Tarek Mitri, who attended on behalf of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, called for revealing the truth regarding the events during Lebanon’s bloody 1975-90 Civil War ‘but without falling in today’s disputes, a continuation of the past’s wars’. He said the memory could only be cured by ’emphasizing historical reality through legal tools and values … along with confessions and apologies. We are interested today … to stress historical reality with its facts and documented testimonies and renew demands for examining it justly’, the minister added”. This report is posted here.

There was a long and bloody history of sectarian terror and massacres in Lebanon during the period that the Information Minister mentioned. And Palestinians — who had sought refuge in Lebanon from the war surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948 until the Black September suppression of Palestinian activists by King Hussein in Jordan in 1970 — were involved in some of those horrors. sometimes as victims, and at other times as victimizers.

In all cases, it was called “taking revenge”…

This is the main reason why, at the Camp David talks in late July 2000 hosted by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton (involving Arafat and Israel’s then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, now Israel’s Defense Minister and in complete charge of the West Bank and its 2.8 million Palestinians and some 500,000 Israeli settlers), Arafat and his delegation said that the situation of some 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon should be handled first, as a matter of top priority.

Extremely angry Lebanese General wants justice for false imprisonment by UN Tribunal

Al-Jazeera has reported that “A Lebanese general who called the country’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, a liar and urged people to topple his government, has been summoned for questioning by the state, according to a judicial official. Brigadier-General Jamil Sayyed, who made the comments, was among four military officers who were jailed without charge for nearly four years for the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, Rafiq al-Hariri. They were freed last year for lack of evidence“.

And the UN swallowed all of it … making a continuing contribution, as some warned at the time, to the crisis in the country.

The Al-Jazeera story indicated that Brig-Gen. Sayyed made the remarks on Sunday in a news conference [in Beirut? or in Damascus?]. The story added that “Earlier this year, Sayyed asked the UN tribunal investigating al-Hariri’s assassination to release his secret case file so that he might know who accused him”.

He reportedly “accused Hariri of selling his father’s blood to frame Syria for the killing … Sayyed, who left Lebanon shortly after his remarks, also said Saad Hariri supported ‘false witnesses’ who misled the investigation into the 2005 killing. He warned Saad Hariri that he must be held accountable or I will do it someday with my own hands’. Sayyed later said he meant he would get justice through the courts. ‘The Lebanese people must unite against this [government] and topple it, even if by force’, he said”.

As we have also reported here, Al-Jazeera noted in its report that “last week, in a sweeping reversal, Saad Hariri said it was a mistake to blame Syria”.

Sayyed, who is reportedly now in Paris, apparently also travelled to Damascus where, Rula Amin reported for Al-Jazeera, the extremely angry general “asked the judicial system there to pursue some of these witnesses as some of them are Syrians … Some of the people Sayyed has been naming are very close to Saad Hariri and his attempt here is seen as very dangerous”…

The Al-Jazeera report is published here.

Israeli forces carry out what appears to be a reprisal killing of a Hamas man near Tulkarem

In reprisal for recent attacks on Israeli settlers in the West Bank that were supported — and claimed, sort of — by Hamas, and certainly also for recent rocket attacks from Hamas-ruled Gaza, Israeli troops shot and killed a 38-year-old Hamas operative in the Nur Shams refugee camp in the northern West Bank near Tulkarem overnight.

This should stir things up significantly.

Palestinian medical sources say that the man, Iyad Shalabayeh, was killed by 3 bullets shot at close range while he was still sleeping, or in his bed, or in his bedroom. His family was reportedly away visiting relatives in Jenin.

The Associated Press has just reported that “The man’s brother, Moetasim Abu Shilbaya, says troops burst into his house and killed him in his bedroom. He says his brother was a Hamas political activist, not an armed militant”.

Palestinian Authority security has carried out a massive arrest campaign of Hamas operatives in the West Bank — reports indicate that between 300 and 600 Hamas supporters are now detained — since the drive-by shooting of four Israeli settlers near Hebron a few weeks ago [CORRECTED: on 31 August, not on 1 September as I originally wrote, which was another shooting attack on Israeli settlers in the West Bank, east of Ramallah].

This Israeli raid overnight culminated in what looks a lot like a targetted killing. B’Tselem now says it is checking…

Salam Fayyad has now reportedly called on the international community to intervene.

The Israeli military were reported to have made several statements indicating that the victim was “wanted”, that they had intended to arrest him, but that he attempted to flee.

UPDATE TWO: Ma’an later reported that a B’Tselem field worker, Eid As-Sa’di, who had visited the scene, said that the Israeli military statements were “implausible”. According to the Ma’an story, “As-Sa’di said ‘it would have been possible to arrest him, or just as easily to injure him’. The rights worker said that the room where Iyad was shot was no more than three meters by three meters, and expressed skepticism over the report that the known Hamas leader had come running at troops, that soldiers had had time to warn him to stop, and then shoot. As-Sa’di said that the investigation by B’Tselem was ongoing”. This is reported here.

In late December, in and around Nablus, Israeli forces carried out similar killings, and made similar statements about shooting because they believed they were in danger, or because they believed the suspect was fleeing. Then, the Israeli forces were operating in pursuit of those who might have shot an Israeli settler driving between settlements in the Nablus area.

The AP reported this morning that “The [Israeli] military says soldiers were trying to arrest Iyad Abu Shilbaya early Friday in the town of Tulkarem when he ran at them, ignoring orders to halt. The military says troops feared he had a weapon and shot him”. This report can be read in full here.

YNet is calling the victim a former senior Hamas operative, and adds that the IDF raid started at 2am, and that 12 other persons were detained in the operation. According to this report, Israeli sources say that Shilbayeh — who “spent several years in Israeli prisons and was wanted for questioning” — suddenly “began running towards the soldiers in a menacing manner”. Palestinian sources, however, report that Israeli troops “arrived at Shilbayeh’s house and grabbed his brother, Muhammad, to use as a human shield. The force, said the brother, blew up the bedroom door and proceeded to shoot Shilbayeh three times – once in the neck and twice in the chest, while he was in bed. His body was transferred to the Palestinian District Coordination Office several hours later”.

Ma’an News Agency is reporting that “Accounts from family members say Shelbaya’s brother Mohammed was abducted by soldiers earlier in the morning, and forced to show officers the way to Iyad’s home. Once at the home, witnesses said soldiers placed explosives at the main door, destroying the entry way and entering the home. Several soldiers were then described entering the home, at which point three gunshots were heard. Medics confirmed three shots killed the man, one in the neck and two in the chest … Mohammed told Ma’an that he heard his brother Iyad calling his bedroom when the soldiers entered the home, asking ‘Who is it? Who is it? Who is it’?” The Ma’an report is posted here.

This YNet report added that in the southern West Bank, Palestinians say that “IDF troops have found a new way of ensuring cars stop for inspection. According to Palestinian sources, the last few days have seen soldiers stationed in the sector between the Palestinian villages of Dura and Dahariya throw stun grenades at the road in order to stop Palestinian vehicles for inspection. The latest incident, a Palestinian driver told Ynet, occurred on Wednesday night. The man said he was driving towards Dahariya around 10 pm, when an explosion happened just ahead of his car. ‘At least one stun grenade exploded just ahead of me, and then several soldiers came out from one of the orchards and told me to get out of the car’. The troops, he said, asked him to disrobe, ‘which was humiliating. But I am not the only one to be harassed like that. It is my understanding that his has been going on for at least three days.” This YNet report can be read in full here .

In addition to operations related to the 1 September drive-by shooting of four Israeli settlers, there have also been anti-drug operations reported recently in the southern West Bank near Dhahariya — where there is no Wall, and where the “border” between the West Bank and Israel is much more porous than in the north, or than around the Jerusalem area.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes were carried out on targets in Gaza overnight as well, and an IDF statement reportedly indicated that the “attack is in response to the nine projectiles fired into Israeli territory over the last 24 hours … In its statement, the Israeli military said it “holds Hamas solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip” … At the beginning of the week, Israeli forces around the Gaza perimeter also fired on three men who — it later turned out — were tending their fields and flocks, and nearly 700 meters away from the perimeter where the IDF has declared a 300-meter no-go zone in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead [which ended in January 2009]. The IDF later admitted it had made an error.

IDF: Gaza group may have been unaware that phosphorus shells were used in shots fired into Israel

The Jerusalem Post’s well-connected Defense Correspondent Yaakov Katz has written, in an article published today, that “In contrast to the media, the IDF did not make a big deal Wednesday about the firing of at least two mortar shells containing phosphorus into Israel. Firstly, it is not the first time that phosphorus mortar shells were fired into Israel – it happened during Cast Lead – and secondly, the assessment within the Southern Command is that the group that fired the shells did not even know that they contained phosphorus. As a matter of fact, phosphorus shells contain less explosives than regular ones and therefore create less shrapnel. On the other hand, they are highly flammable. Israel, for its part, plans to continue with its current policy, which can be described as an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ … The same intelligence assessments predict, though, that while this wave [of attacks from groups in Gaza] will soon end, it will not be the last and as the peace talks pick up speed and progress, so will the terrorism from Gaza”. This information is published here.

The JPost article describes the groups that have been firing projectiles from Gaza into Israel recently as Hamas “operatives”, and says that this is probably just some post-Ramadan “letting off steam” [though there were attacks during Ramadan, as I recall] — due, according to this analysis, to frustration about ongoing peace talks.

The problem, of course, is that while Hamas may indeed be frustrated about the current “direct” negotiations, each Israeli act of “retaliation” or “reprisal” is used as a justification for a new attack from some group or other in Gaza…

YNet reported, meanwhile, that the new Israeli Ambassador to the UN in New York, Meron Reuben, has written a letter of complaint to the UNSG specificially blaming Hamas as well as other “radical organizations” for the attacks.

The Ambassador’s letter is in agreement with the IDF’s reported assessment of the motive, and says: “Since Monday, 13 September 2010, Hamas terrorists launched 14 rockets and mortars from in the Gaza Strip that sought to terrorize the civilian populations in Ashkelon, as well as the Eshkol region to the south”. According to YNet, “The ambassador added that ‘some of these attacks that deliberately targeted civilians contained white phosphorous, a fact publicly acknowledged by Palestinian statements in the media’ [n.b. – the source for this charge is another article published in YNet here. In the letter, Reuben accuses Hamas of firing the rockets in order to disrupt the direct peace talks with the Palestinians. ‘In a concerted effort to derail peace talks, Hamas and other radical organizations have engaged in this deadly violence’, it says”. This YNet report is posted here.

The other YNet report, written by Ali Waked — which the IDF source cited by Yaakov Katz later contradicted — stated that “A member of the one of the Palestinian militant groups in Gaza admitted to Ynet on Thursday that the phosphorus used in the rockets fired on Israel Wednesday contained material gathered from shells Israel itself fired on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. ‘The phosphorus was taken from bombs Israel fired, that didn’t explode’, he said. Still, the source said the groups’ use of phosphorous shells was ‘an experiment’ and that there are no plans to put it to mass use. ‘We don’t have the kind of phosphorous the Israelis are talking about’.”

According to Ali Waked’s report, “The source said that the Gaza groups were continuing their quest to enhance their offensive capabilities, especially regarding rocket range and explosive capabilities. ‘This has nothing to do with the peace talks, but with our desire to improve ourselves’.” This Ali Waked report is posted here.