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Israel uses Palestinians as human shields but US lawmakers condemn Hamas Primary tabs

Both houses of the US Congress are considering passing a resolution that condemns Hamas for using human shields despite not having any evidence to prove Hamas is employing this tactic.

Over the last 22 days, the Israeli army has deliberately bombed family homes, UN shelters, schools, places of worship, hospitals, water infrastructure and more, killing more than 1,300 Palestinians, 80 percent of whom have been civilians, including nearly 300 children.

In propaganda echoed by the US State Department, the Israeli government has repeatedly claimed that Hamas is using women and children as human shields to protect its weapons and rocket launchers, forcing Israel to massacre innocent Palestinians.

The only evidence Israel has provided for this unsubstantiated accusation is cartoon sketches.

But even The New York Times has conceded that “There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack.”

The BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, similarly declared, “I saw no evidenceduring my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.”

But Israel’s pathetic drawings are all the evidence US elected officials need to absolve Israel of responsiblity for war crimes.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

As atrocities mount in Gaza, US approves Israeli request for more bombs

Hours after Israel shelled yet another UN school sheltering internally displaced families and a marketplace in Gaza, killing dozens of people, an unnamed defense department official revealed to CNN that the US had approved an Israeli request to tap into the one billion dollar weapons stockpile the US keeps in Israel.

The last time Israel dipped into the special stockpile was in 2006, during its assault on Lebanon.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby confirmed to the The Electronic Intifada over email that the US Department of Defense authorized a transfer of munitions to Israel on 23 July in response to a request from the Israeli defense ministry for “a normal Foreign Military Sales delivery of ammunition.”

Two of the munitions Israel demanded—120mm mortar rounds and 40mm grenades—happened to be available in the stockpile, so the US delivered them to the Israeli army from there.

“Issuing munitions from the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel (WRSA-I) was strictly a sourcing decision,” explained Kirby.

Arming Israel to stop violence?

Israel’s call for more arms was fullfilled on the sixteenth day of Israel’s assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. By then Israel had already killed at least 661 Palestinians, including 132 children.

Asked whether the defense department — the Pentagon — is concerned that its weapons might be used to harm innocent Palestinians given that the overwhelmingly majority of those killed in Gaza have been civilians, Kirby replied that the US is troubled by civilian casualties and is actively pushing for a ceasefire.

“We have consistently voiced our concerns over the rising number of civilian casualties in this conflict. We need to bring the violence and civilian casualties to an end, which is why the US government is focused on instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” said Kirby, adding, “We are also concerned that continued fighting could further destabilize the West Bank.”

The spokesman also issued an unprompted reaffirmation of support for “Israel’s right to defend itself,” and praised the Israeli army’s supposed moral superiority, saying “Unlike Hamas, which is firing rockets from populated areas and indiscriminately targeting civilians in Israel, the IDF [Israeli army] takes measures to limit civilian casualties.”

Kirby continued: “But the fact is, despite Israel’s efforts, the Palestinian civilian suffering in Gaza — including the deaths and injuries of children — is great and growing every day.”

“The high civilian death toll makes clear that Israel can and must do more to meet its own high standards for protecting civilians from being killed. This underscores the urgency of getting an unconditional, immediate humanitarian cease-fire.”

“High standards”

Today Israel has killed over 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 July, including more than 300 children. Almost 80 percent of those killed have been civilians.

In stark contrast, actions by armed Palestinian resistance groups, mainly Hamas, killed56 soldiers and three Israeli civilians, one of whom was a West Bank settler killed while voluntarily delivering treats to Israeli soldiers stationed at the Gaza border prior to the ground invasion.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Stocks rise for Israeli drone-maker as Gaza slaughter continues

As Israel ruthlessly destroys the besieged Gaza Strip, its largest developer of military technology, Elbit Systems, is benefitting from the bloodshed.

US-traded shares of Elbit have climbed 6.1 percent since 8 July, when Israel began its latest offensive against the Gaza Strip.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Israel’s three-week long massacre of 1,200 Palestinians in Gaza, including nearly 300 children, “has pushed [Elbit’s] stock close to the highest level since 2010 while its valuation on a price-to-earnings basis is near the most expensive in five years.”

The rising stock is driven by speculation that the Haifa-based company will see increasing demand for its products from both the Israeli and foreign governments impressed by Elbit’s blood-soaked performance in Gaza.

Palestine is a laboratory

Like most Israeli military contractors, Elbit benefits from Israel’s decades-long brutal occupation of Palestine, which serves as a laboratory for Israel’s ballooning “homeland security” industry to test and perfect methods of domination and control, with Palestinians as their involuntary lab rats.

Israel’s suppression technology is then exported to regimes that are similarly invested in subjugating the poor and marginalized, like the United States, where Elbit was recently granted a lucrative $145 million contract to provide surveillance technology at the Arizona-Mexico border.

This is the same Elbit surveillance technology used to construct and maintain Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, which the International Court of Justice has deemed illegal under international law.

Exporting repression

Experimenting on Palestinians has paved the way for Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, to become the world’s number one exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones.

Elbit’s Hermes drone is one of the most widely used by the Israeli army, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where the Hermes 450, outfitted to carry two medium range missiles, has been heavily deployed against civilians in Gaza.

Marketed as “combat-proven” on the company’s website, the Hermes 450 drone boasts “300,000 operational flight hours and a class-leading safety and reliability record,” a bold declaration for a product that, according to Human Rights Watch, was used by the Israeli army to deliberately target civilians in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-2009 onslaught, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, including at least 400 children.

The Hermes drone was also used to kill civilians in Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, including Red Cross workers, ambulance drivers and dozens of people fleeing their homes in a desperate and futile search for safety from Israeli bombardment.

Apparently impressed by the aircraft’s capacity for bloodshed, the Brazilian government purchased a fleet of Hermes drones to help crush the massive protests that erupted across Brazil against the recent World Cup.

In a deal worth $280 million, the Swiss government last month purchased the Hermes 900, a surveillance version of the more deadly Hermes 450.

Elbit is also involved in a $1.6 billion joint venture with Thales, a French weapons company, to develop a drone similar to the Hermes 450 for the UK defense ministry.

Exporting death

Palestinian children whose tiny bodies are torn to shreds by Elbit’s equipment are central to the company’s advertising strategy.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Merciless Israeli mobs are hunting Palestinians

All eyes are on Gaza, where the death toll from Israel’s merciless bombing campaign has topped 1,000.

But back in Jerusalem, where sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khudair was burned alive by Jewish vigilantes in a “revenge killing” incited by Israeli politicians early this month, right-wing lynch mobs continue to roam the streets in search of Arabs to attack.

Their most recent victims are twenty-year-old Palestinians Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz from the Beit Hannina neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. The pair were severely beaten into unconsciousness on Friday night by Israeli youths armed with iron bars and baseball bats.

Mahfouz told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he and Shwiki were on their way to the light rail when they were stopped by “a man [coming] from the direction of Neve Yaakov,”  an illegal Jewish-only Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.

“He said give me a cigarette. I told him I don’t have any, and he heard [from my accent] I’m Arab and went away, coming back with his friends, maybe twelve people. They had sticks and iron bars and they hit us over the head,” Mahfouz recounted.

Haaretz added, “According to the victims, police officers that arrived at the scene did not call an ambulance, and they were instead evacuated by passersby to receive medical treatment at a Beit Khanina [sic] clinic. They were later rushed to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in serious condition.”

Though investigators believe the beating to be racially motivated, no one has been arrested.

Police complicity

Israeli police have a pattern of ignoring hate crimes against Palestinians, as was the case immediately following the reported kidnapping of Muhammad Abu Khudair. Police did not immediately respond when his family called to report that he had been kidnapped and they actively thwarted efforts to locate those who murdered him byspreading false rumors that Abu Khudair was murdered by his family in an “honor killing” over his sexuality.

Police also neglected to respond when Abu Khudair’s murderers tried to kidnap ten-year-old Mousa Zalum from the same East Jerusalem neighborhood two days earlier.

When police aren’t busy ignoring Jewish vigilante violence against Palestinians, they are actively participating in it.

On Thursday night last week, police teamed up with a Jewish mob assaulting two Palestinian men while they were delivering bread to grocery markets on Jaffa Street in West Jerusalem from their van.

The men — identified by Ma’an News Agency as twenty-year-old Amir Mazin Abu Eisha and Laith Ubeidat (age not specified) — were encircled and beaten with empty bottles by a mob of some twenty to thirty Israelis, according to their attorney, Khaldun Nijim.

Rather than assist the men as they were being attacked, Nijim told Ma’an, “The Israeli police stopped them in their van and pointed guns at them.”

Nijim added: “After they drove away a few meters, the police shot at them. They then stopped and were assaulted again.”

After barring an ambulance from transferring Abu Eisha, who sustained head and ear injuries, to the hospital for medical treatment, police detained the two Palestinian men at the Russian Compound police station close to the scene and charged them with “having a knife and obstructing the work of police,” according to Nijim.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Medical workers killed, injured as Israel targets Gaza health infrastructure

“The Israelis are using a wide variety of sophisticated modern weapons against a basically naked civilian population,” said renowned Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert in a phone interview with The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday, 22 July.

“This is state terrorism at a very sophisticated and very high level,” he added.

Speaking over the phone from al-Shifa hospital where he is helping to treat the wounded, Gilbert described the horrors he has witnessed in Gaza in recent days as the bodies of mostly Palestinian women and children are brought to the hopsital torn to shreds by an Israeli arsenal deliberately aimed at civilians.

War on children

With the Gaza death toll quickly approaching 700, the United Nations says some 80 percent are civilians, among them at least 168 children. Over the last few days alone, Israeli forces have on average killed at least one child in Gaza per hour. Children also make up one-third of the more than 4,000 wounded, many with debilitating injuries that Gaza hospitals are ill-equipped to properly treat due to dire shortages caused by the Israel’s illegal siege.

“One of these kids would have a whole cross-professional team in an American hospital or Norwegian hospital,” said Gilbert.

Israel, it seems, is waging a war on children

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza are internally displaced, access to clean drinking water is increasingly scarce and electricity is practically non-existent, explained Gilbert. Gaza is a man-made humanitarian catastrophe. 

Bombing hospitals, killing paramedics

Israel has bombed at least 25 health care facilities, killing and injuring several medical workers, said Gilbert, whose repeated appeals for the UN to step in and protect Palestinian hospitals from Israeli attacks that clearly violate international law have been resulted in meaningful action on the ground.

“[Medical facilities] are being targeted and they’re being bombed and the patients and the staff are getting killed,” said Gilbert.

“What would have happened if Palestinian fighters had bombed an Israeli hospital and killed five patients?” Gilbert commented. “The world would have turned upside down. What is this second-hand, or even third-hand or fourth-hand citizenship in the world for the Palestinians?”

Yesterday the prestigious medical journal The Lancet published an open letter co-authored by Gilbert and signed by several doctors and scientists strongly denouncing Israel’s crimes against Gaza’s health sector. 

“Israel is saying that they are bombing Gaza to get rid of tunnels and terrorists,” said Gilbert. “I see no tunnels and terrorists in Shifa hospital. I see only ordinary people like you and me.”

Read the rest and listen to the interview at The Electronic Intifada

Israel’s Iron Dome doesn’t cover Bedouins

The Negev (Naqab) desert in the south of present-day Israel is home to 200,000 indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, known as Bedouins, most of whom arecompletely defenseless against falling rockets because the Israeli government refuses to protect their villages and denies them the right to build bomb shelters.

One of two Israeli civilians killed since Israel began its relentless bombing campaign in Gaza was 32-year-old Auda al-Wadj.

He died when a rocket fired from Gaza struck his home in Qasr al-Ser, a Bedouin village near Dimona that lacks sirens, bomb shelters and cover from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system because, according to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, the Iron Dome “does not protect agricultural areas.”  

As life in Gaza grinds to a halt amid death and destruction from Israel’s merciless bombing campaign, Israeli casualties from Palestinian rockets fired in response to Israel’s military attacks and illegal policy of collective punishment and siege have been minimal.

This is due in large part, says Israel, to the Iron Dome, a US-subsidized missile defense system that Israel says intercepts rockets before they land.

Exaggerated effectiveness

As Dan Murphy reports in the Christian Science Monitor, experts believe that Israeli claims about Iron Dome’s effectiveness are grossly exaggerated.

One missile expert, Michael Armstrong of Canada’s Brock University, “concludes that fewer rockets are being fired this time from Gaza, that they’re less accurate, and being intercepted less often by Iron Dome than in 2012.”

Rockets fired by Palestinian groups lack guidance systems and can only be aimed in a general direction.

Theodore Postol a missile expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has noted that “examination of photographs showing contrails of attempted interceptors shows few head-on hits – in his estimation just 5 percent of the time. He argues that absent such hits, the system is not performing as advertised.”

Rather, experts say, the fact that casualties have been minimal as a result of rocket fire from Gaza is more likely due to an effective early warning system and the availability of bomb shelters.

But Israel’s government says — and most Israelis apparently believe — that Iron Dome is effective. And Israel also denies Bedouins the right to build bomb shelters; the Israeli army defines their homes as “open areas” unworthy of Iron Dome protection.

Combined with Israel’s vast network of bomb shelters and the sheer lack of firepower in the Palestinian arsenal, the Iron Dome has helped shield Israelis — psychologically at least — from the consequences of ghettoizing and imprisoning 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza.

But not all Israeli lives are worthy of this protection.

“Open areas”

Israel’s high court on Sunday rejected a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on behalf the Negev Bedouin community requesting equal protection from falling rockets. 

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Israel firing experimental weapons at Gaza’s civilians, say doctors

Doctors treating patients in Gaza have accused Israel of using experimental weapons on Palestinian civilians.

Addressing reporters at a press conference on Sunday, Youssef Abul Resh, undersecretary of the health ministry in Gaza, said, “Medical teams have registered injuries consistent with those caused by DIME [dense inert metal explosives] and other banned weapons.”

He added, “Israel has mercilessly targeted Palestinian civilians, leaving many of them with life-threatening injuries and future handicaps.”

In the last week, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 190 people, eighty percent of them civilians, including at least 34 children.

Using Gaza as a laboratory

DIME munitions were developed by the US Air Force in 2006 and have since been tested repeatedly on the people of Gaza, who have long served as involuntary lab rats for Israel’s weapons industry.

DIME bombs contain tungsten, a cancer-causing metal that helps to produce incredibly destructive blasts which slice through flesh and bone, often decapitating the lower limbs of people within the blast radius.

Renowned Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who witnessed the horrific injuries caused by DIME bombs during Israel’s 2009 Gaza onslaught, told The Electronic Intifada over the phone from al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City that patients are showing up with DIME-related injuries.

“A good number of the injuries seen here are consistent with the use of dense inert metal explosives, or DIME, that we saw during the 2009 attack and also in 2006,” said Gilbert. “The bodies are pretty much destroyed by enormous energy released by the explosives that are shot near them or at them.”

Gilbert first witnessed the effects of DIME munitions on the human body during Operation Summer Rains, Israel’s 2006 months-long attack on the Gaza Strip thatkilled more than four hundred Palestinians. “Large chunks of flesh, of muscles were cut away. We didn’t find any shrapnel and [the wounds] were delivering a strange fume. Gradually we came to understand these must have been the new DIME weapons developed by the US Air Force together with the Israelis,” he said.

The experimental weapon was used on a larger scale during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, including 352 children.

“We had a large number of patients who came in with these horrendous injuries where arms and legs were cut off as though a huge axe had chopped off their limbs with a direct immense force, cutting through skin, muscles and bones. Bones would be shattered and completely cut off,” Gilbert recounted.  “In addition we saw very, very destructive burns coming from some extreme temperature that turned skin, muscle and even bones into charcoal.”

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

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