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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

Israel is deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza

The UN says 77 percent of Palestinians killed in Israel’s relentless bombing campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip have been civilians.

report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs details Israel’s current assault, now it in its sixth day.

With over 150 killed, including an alarming number of women and children, and the death toll in Gaza rising by the hour, Israeli officials insist they are doing all they can to avoid civilian casualties.

Using precision guided missiles, the Israeli army claims it is only bombing people and infrastructure “affiliated with Hamas terrorism” — and the international community is buying it.

What is not being discussed, however, is who and what constitutes a Hamas affiliate.

Hamas is more than just a militant organization, it is the political party that was democratically elected in 2006 to govern the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Hamas’s control means that almost everyone and everything in Gaza can be considered a Hamas affiliate. This unchallenged loose definition has enabled Israel’s war architects to widen the definition of legitimate targets to include civilians and civilian infrastructure, including mosques, schools, hospitals, banks, electricity lines and residential homes, all of which have been targeted.

Aside from a weak condemnation issued by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, the international community has largely accepted Israel’s methodology, completely abandoning defenseless Palestinian civilians as they’re being maimed and slaughtered by one of the world’s most powerful armies.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada

Dave Zirin on the ‘sporting shock doctrine’ and the World Cup as a ‘neoliberal trojan horse’

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure, Kevin Gosztola and I discussed the World Cup with Dave Zirin—sports correspondent for The Nation, author of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil and all around badass.

(Download the episode here or subscribe for free on iTunes here)

International sporting events have been hijacked by disaster capitalists, says Zirin, transforming the games we love into engines for neoliberal “shock doctrine” economics.

“Events like the World Cup and Olympics allow states to push through agendas that people would otherwise protest or object to…under the cloak of these mega-events,” explains Zirin. “And the sporting shock doctrine is like, instead of people being paralyzed by trauma, which is what Naomi Klein writes about, instead it’s people more paralyzed by the prospect of hosting these events and the responsibilities that go into it and the lies frankly that go into the selling of it to the people like, oh, this is going to greatly expand our tourist economy and turn us into the pinnacle of the world.”

For Brazil, hosting this year’s World Cup has come at a high cost: the mass displacement of the poor and the proliferation and normalization of a militarized surveillance state.

“Some of the things that the neoliberal trojan horse brings into a country are things like the creeping surveillance state, the normalization of drones flying overhead, the expansion of gentrification in the cities, the growth of real estate speculation and the expansion of the tourist industry as well, which I would argue generally is very negative for workers because it tends to be seasonal work. It tends to be very low wage and it tends to really depend on the kindness of tourists, which doesn’t put the workers in a tremendous position of power. So, this is all what goes in to these mega-events.”

Zirin also discusses Israel’s role in training and arming the Brazilian police in methods of control and suppression, warning of what he calls the “exporting [of] Gaza” to other parts of the world.

Despite all the bad, Zirin insists it’s okay to enjoy the World Cup and advises against boycotting.

“Nobody inside of Brazil is asking for an international boycott, and I think that’s very important particularly for those of us in the global north, the United States what have you, who are thinking about solidarity to remember that those calls need to come from the people who are the most affected,” argues Zirin.

He added that “We shouldn’t be alienated from art. We should try to engage with it even with all its contradictions to understand what’s so beautiful about it.” More importantly, “it just seems like the World Cup is really pissing Ann Coulter off. Anything that does that is frankly worth investigation.”

In the discussion portion of the episode, Kevin and I talk about America’s inhumane response to child refugees at the US-Mexico border, the US government dropping charges against Sami al-Arian and the lynching of a Palestinian teen by Israeli extremists.

Israel holds US boy without charge after police nearly beat him to death

Fifteen-year-old Tariq Abukhdeir after Israeli police beat him. (Addameer)

Fifteen-year-old Tariq Abukhdeir after Israeli police beat him. (Addameer)

Fifteen-year-old Palestinian-American Tariq Abukhdeir, cousin of recent lynching victim Muhammed Abu Khudair, was brutally beaten by masked Israeli police on Thursday evening in the Shuafat neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. He has since been arrested and held without charge and denied medical treatment, according to his family and the rights group Addameer.

Tariq’s family lives in Tampa, Florida and have been on vacation in Palestine since early June. They are scheduled to return to the United States on 16 July. Tariq’s next court hearing is scheduled for Sunday, 6 July.

As photos of Tariq’s horrific facial bruises surfaced, so did two videos that show masked Israeli officers punching, kicking and dragging a handcuffed Palestinian in Shuafat.

Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada (I blog there pretty regularly)

Israeli Soldiers Call for Revenge against Palestinians

Originally posted on Human in the Muddle:

After the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped by Hamas militants from Hebron were uncovered yesterday near Halhul, the occupied West Bank, racist attacks against Palestinians have been on the rise. Two protests, each attended by hundreds of people, took place in Jerusalem where mobs chanted again and again “Revenge!”, “Death to Arabs”, and “Jews are good [literally, "souls"], Arabs and sons of whores”.

Death to Arab chants in central Jerusalem yesterday. Some of the protesters attempted to attack a Palestinian worker of McDonalds

A new facebook page titled “The People of Israel Demand Revenge“, managed to gain over 32,000 “likes” in about 24 hours.Young Israelis post photos of themselves on this page calling for revenge against Palestinians. Among those young Israelis are soldiers, many of them from units that serve in the occupied Palestinian territories. All the photos in this post were taken from that…

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