Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘human shields

 

How Israel Used Its Own Civilians as Human Shields While Assaulting Gaza

Israel’s military is enmeshed in civilian society

Throughout the ongoing preemptive war on the Gaza Strip, perhaps no phrase has featured as prominently or persistently in the lexicon of Israeli propaganda as “human shields.”

Repeated in stentorian fashion by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a heavily regimented army of 10,000 public relations flacks, the phrase has been ruthlessly deployed to shield Israel from responsibility for the bloodbath it has caused in Gaza.

Israel has killed 1,900 civiliansand injured 10,000  in a matter of weeks, including some 430 children, but it was Hamas that forced them to do it.

Like so many Zionist accusations against Palestinian society (“They only understand force,” “They teach their children to hate,” “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”) the human shields slander is a projection.

Israel is the most militarized society on earth, with soldiers and military installations honeycombed throughout its civil society.

With full military conscription for all men and women and reserve duty required for all Jews until they reach their 40s, Jewish Israelis alternate constantly between the role of civilian and soldier, blurring the line between the two.

Within one of Tel Aviv’s most densely populated neighborhoods sits Ha’Kirya, the army’s headquarters, a gigantic complex of monolithic buildings that house the offices where attacks on Gaza are planned.

The uniformed officers and soldiers who work inside take lunch in the cafes and shop in the malls surrounding their offices, embedding themselves among the civilian population.

A military base is nestled in the middle of the campus of Haifa University while Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities offer military officers free tuition, encouraging their enrollment and allowing them to carry weapons on campus.

It is hard to find a henhouse, flophouse, or fieldhouse anywhere in Israel without some kind of military presence.

In an editorial for the Israeli daily, Yedioth Aharonot, veteran Israeli military advisor Giora Eiland argued in favor of collectively punishing Gaza’s civilian population. “In order to guarantee our interests versus the other side’s demands, we must avoid the artificial, wrong and dangerous distinction between the Hamas people, who are ‘the bad guys,’ and Gaza’s residents, which are allegedly ‘the good guys.’”

Naturally, Eiland failed to consider the terrible implications of eliminating the distinction between civilians and the armed factions that move among them: If his logic were inverted to apply to Israeli society, where civilians are soldiers and soldiers are civilians, almost every Jewish Israeli citizen could be considered a legitimate target.

Most vulnerable among the Jewish Israeli public are residents of the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.

Many of these working class development towns and kibbutzim were planted during the 1950s in place of the Palestinians who had just been forcibly expelled.

In al-Majdal Asqalan, now known as Ashkelon, Jewish immigrants from the Middle East were literally trucked in to replace the Palestinians who had been held within a barbed wire enclosure before being outcasted to Gaza.

Today, these largely neglected communities form a human wall against the demographic threat tucked behind a high-tech cordon sanitaire just to their south.

Not only do Israel’s southern communities exist under the threat of rocket and mortar attacks from those they displaced, they are routinely used as shelters and temporary bases by the Israeli army.

Renan Raz, a 26-year-old waiter and anti-occupation activist now living in Tel Aviv, remembers the anguish he experienced when the army arrived in Dorot, the southern kibbutz where he was born and raised.

It was the height of Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli assault on that left over 1400 Palestinian Gazans dead, mostly civilians, between December 2008 and January 2009.

You are fired: Should not contradict Israel version on human shields…

Rania Masri posted

Did you thank these 8 US congressmen yet? They voted ‘NO’ to giving $225 million to the ‘iron dome’ for Israel. Instead, US congress denied extension of unemployment benefits to cover the expense of providing Israel with more means of killing and destruction in Gaza and West Bank

Support these bold congressmen before the Zionist lobby fires them out of congress

Who may be taken down Assad or Obama? The consequences of Syria Chemical weapon climate of anxieties…

Do you think a few of the major players, among Presidents, Prime Ministers, UN inspectors, a few head of intelligence services… will pay the price for this extended game of keeping the world community on its toes?

Is the premature US president’s handling of the Syria crisis and its bad timing of any effects on his ultimate downfall?

So far, Russia pulled the Joker card that satisfies all parties, except those who wants Syria destroyed, completely ruined, desolate for decades and divided.

The USA, Russia and China have reached an agreement on the dominion partition of this region.

Ridding the Middle East of all chemical and biological weapon factories and depots is a must. And this policy should apply to Israel, especially Israel that master the modern techniques for biological warfare.

Sahar Charara shared a link from Aljazeera English:

HIGHLY CLASSIFIED. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (a letter of Obama to Syrian President Assad?)
Dear Mr Assad,

This letter is to inform you that some time in the next two weeks, you will be the subject of a focused, limited and narrow attack by US cruise missiles in response to your recent alleged use of chemical weapons on your own people without our permission.

Here are some helpful hints to help you get through this uncomfortable episode:
1- Send the wives and kids of senior government personnel to Beirut and Paris for a shopping holiday.
2- Remove any chemical weapons from the map I have conveniently appended to this letter of potential bombing locations.
3- Move in political prisoners to use as human shields and ensure maximum collateral damage and thus publicity value when we do bomb.
4- Loudly declare your willingness to attend a UN-sponsored peace conference “under fair conditions“, but don’t lay them out in any detail. Skype call Bibi (Israel PM) if you have any questions on how to do this. The Israelis are the world experts in this field.
5- Point out to anyone who will listen that, while there’s no proof that you were responsible for this attack (even though we both know you did it), the US knowingly provided Saddam Hussein with intelligence while he gassed Iranian soldiers during the Iran-Iraq War, and we’ve not even so much as offered an apology to Iran, never mind to Iraq for the hundreds of thousands of people we killed in a generation of sanctions, invasions and occupation.
6- Tell your broker in Beirut to buy stock in Raytheon before the attack is launched; the price is climbing quite nicely as we approach bomb date and there’s no reason you shouldn’t earn a little something for your trouble.

Hoping the events of the next few weeks aren’t too unpleasant,

Sincerely, Barack Obama

Mark LeVine posted:

Simply put, the entire process by which the president has tried to steer the US towards a bombing campaign reveals such a shocking display of political and diplomatic incompetence – one of the greatest in US history – that he couldn’t have done more to aid the Assad regime if he tried.

Unable even to conceive over 3 years of actually using the full weight of the UN for the purposes it was intended – to stop war – or to lay a proper groundwork for the use of force against Syria when it inevitably crossed the “red line” of large-scale chemical weapon use, the Obama administration, which clearly hasn’t wanted any part of military action in Syria, has allowed itself to get behind a ridiculous plan of action that is allowing the likes of Assad’s son and Russian President Putin to taunt him like a schoolyard bully when no teachers are in sight.

The mess extends in several directions.

The first is the lack of willingness of the Whitehouse to make amends for the chemical weapons-based lies it deployed a decade ago to justify the invasion of Iraq, let alone its own large-scale use of weapons such as White Phosphorus and depleted uranium, the direct support provided to Saddam Hussein for his use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War – or the even more colossal impact of Washington’s use of Agent Orange and napalm in Vietnam.

Had Obama owned up for the American misdeeds of the past half century, the US might have a little credibility at the moment.

Instead, it’s as if he dusted off the script from 2002-03. Even if this time the script is true, it’s hard not to imagine Dick Cheney hiding somewhere in the Whitehouse attic pulling the strings.

Second, while the president talks about “international credibility” being on the line, his administration has done absolutely nothing to engage in serious reform of the UN – the legitimate embodiment of the international community – and particularly the Security Council, so that countries such as Russia or China could no longer veto action against murderers such as Assad.

The reason, of course, is that this would mean the UN could stop murderers and thieves such as Israelis Netanyahu and Peres, not to mention the US, Russia and China, from pursuing all the policies that routinely violate international law.

At the same time, Obama has done even less to support real democracy in the Arab world, instead strengthening the hands of dictators and despots the region over.

In this environment, there was really never any way the administration could offer the kind of help to the civil resistance in Syria that might have given them a fighting chance without moving to violence, an arena in which they could only be hopelessly outgunned in the current international environment.

Yet neither did it arm the secular opposition early on, when it could have made a difference and prevented the inevitable takeover of the resistance by amply funded extremist jihadis (of the Nusra Front).

As important, by allowing the UN to remain removed from the equation, Obama has given other great powers, in particular Russia, the ability to challenge the US directly, as Putin has indicated he would do, in response to any military action by the US.

If this wasn’t bad enough, not only does the president disregard international law by declaring his willingness to use force without a UN mandate, he also declares that he can use force without Congressional approval, but then goes and seeks it anyway.

These possibilities are all bad.

Either the US Congress becomes complicit in launching an attack that is a clear violation of international law, or the president winds up acting in complete isolation to the vast majority of the international community, the US political establishment, and the American people, who oppose the use of force by a wide margin.

What’s worse, in the hopes of appeasing critics at home and abroad, the president has promised to make the strikes narrowly focused and limited – that is, meaningless in practical terms.

If the president is looking only to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities, he’s given Assad so much time to prepare that no limited strike would accomplish that goal.

If he’s hoping, as his new ally Senator John McCain advocates, to use this opportunity to change the balance of power on the ground, a limited strike will be even more useless.

And if he strikes harder and longer than he said he would, he will look like a liar – and the Russians will no doubt come to the Syrians’ aid with deliveries of advanced weapons systems.

It’s worth noting that, during the 1967 war, it was the Soviet Union’s secret message to the US that it would become directly involved to protect its client regimes that led President Johnson to pull the Israelis back from conquering even more territory.

The US administration’s attempts to win the propaganda battle have been equally amateurish.

After beginning a unilateral move towards military action before it could be determined who was responsible for the attack, it did not release the evidence it says it has until after its main ally, Britain, had already seen its parliament vote against authorizing violence – plunging the “special” US-UK relationship into one of its deepest crises in decades.

When the administration does release evidence, it doesn’t in fact release any evidence – only a narrative about what the “secret” evidence shows, and assumes anyone will accept it at face value.

In the meantime, it once again delegitimizes the work of weapons inspectors, while engaging in a campaign of coordinated leaks about the evidence – rather than merely presenting such in the open – that so confuses and annoys the press corps.

This risible, almost Keystone Cops-esque attempt to manage information and public discourse on Syria has only strengthened another dictator and mass murderer, Russian President Putin (anyone remember the tens of thousands of deaths during the second Chechen War?), who can take the high road of calling for bringing everything to the UN or the G20 precisely because he knows he has the veto power to protect his allies, the Syrian regime.

If there was any silver lining to this absolute foreign policy disaster, it’s that the people of the United States and their British counterparts have apparently decided they will no longer back the use of force without a full and open debate. (This is a major victory to world peace: Seeking the debates in parliaments before any preemptive war)

But what good is this if the US government believes it can ignore its own citizens?

Key members of the Congressional establishment will back the government, despite widespread public opposition, on the claim that “American credibility” is at stake.

Perhaps the worst part of this whole diplomatic and political fiasco is that the loss of credibility and focus has allowed the one claim Obama has made that remains valid and of utmost importance – that normalising the use of chemical weapons would be an utter disaster for the world community and would wind up seeing it used with increasing frequency by governments, armed groups and terrorists – is left in a shambles.

If there’s one thing that’s certain, we’ll all be the worse off for ignoring chemical weapons use.

It’s hard to see how Obama’s attempt to intervene in the Syrian civil war can produce any kind of successful outcome from either the American or Syrian civilian perspective, if Assad is left still standing with nothing worse than a bloody nose.

And if events play out as it seems they will – a “narrow and limited strike” that rallies people around Assad and shifts focus away from his murderous campaign against his own people – Obama will have succeeded in making the situation even worse for the Syrians on whose behalf he is supposedly striking.

Truly, Syria could wind up being one of the worst foreign policy disasters in US history, destroying whatever shred of diplomatic credibility the Obama administration had left.

It’s almost enough to make one nostalgic for the days of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld…

Mark LeVine is professor of Middle Eastern history at UC Irvine and distinguished visiting professor at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden and the author of the forthcoming book about the revolutions in the Arab world,  The Five Year Old Who Toppled a Pharaoh. 

His book,  Heavy Metal Islam,  which focused on ‘rock and resistance and the struggle for soul’ in the evolving music scene of the Middle East and North Africa, was published in 2008.

Follow him on Twitter:  @culturejamming

Note: The 5 principles of propaganda before launching a preemptive war:

1. Never mention any economic interests

2. Completely Forget history and geography: Your citizens should remain in a total blank on where your targeted enemy is located, and whether it had any long history of resistance to invaders and occupiers…

3. Demonize the opponent (club of evils). Just focus on the bad history of the enemy related to violent crimes against humanity…

4. Vehemently claim to defend the victims, the same ones that your bombs and missile will re-kill first in collateral damages”…

5. Monopolize the debate and prevent the opposing opinions

Note 2:

Joumana Hadeed, a Syrian woman, Destroys McCain at Townhall Meeting
Length: 3:17
Note 3: Hitler was asked “Who do you despise most?”
Reply: “The ones who aided me in the occupation of their countries”

Palestinian children tortured, used as shields by Israel: U.N.

A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on June 20, 2013 of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.

Palestinian children in the Gaza and the West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 war, are routinely denied registration of their birth and access to health care, decent schools and clean water, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in Jerusalem; Editing by Alistair Lyon (Reuters)-

“Palestinian children arrested by (Israeli) military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture, are interrogated in Hebrew, a language they did not understand, and sign confessions in Hebrew in order to be released,” it said in a report.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had responded to a report by the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF in March on ill-treatment of Palestinian minors and questioned whether the U.N. committee’s investigation covered new ground.

“If someone simply wants to magnify their political bias and political bashing of Israel, not based on a new report, on work on the ground, but simply recycling old stuff, there is no importance in that,” spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

The report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child acknowledged Israel’s national security concerns and noted that children on both sides of the conflict continue to be killed and wounded, but that more casualties are Palestinian.

Most Palestinian children arrested are accused of having thrown stones, an offence which can carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, the committee said.

Israeli soldiers had testified to the often arbitrary nature of the arrests.

The watchdog’s 18 independent experts examined Israel’s record of compliance with a 1990 treaty as part of its regular review of a pact signed by all nations except Somalia and the United States. An Israeli delegation attended the session.

The U.N. committee regretted Israel’s “persistent refusal” to respond to requests for information on children in the Palestinian territories and occupied Syrian Golan Heights since the last review in 2002.

“DISPROPORTIONATE”

Hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed and thousands injured over the reporting period as a result of the state party military operations, especially in Gaza where the state party proceeded to (conduct) air and naval strikes on densely populated areas with a significant presence of children, thus disregarding the principles of proportionality and distinction,” the report said.

Israel battled a Palestinian uprising during part of the 10-year period examined by the committee.

It withdrew its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2006, but still blockades the Hamas-run enclave, from where Palestinian militants have sometimes fired rockets into Israel.

During the 10-year period, an estimated 7,000 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, but some as young as nine, had been arrested, interrogated and detained, the U.N. report said.

Many are brought in leg chains and shackles before military courts, while youths are held in solitary confinement, sometimes for months, the report said.

It voiced deep concern at the “continuous use of Palestinian children as human shields and informants”, saying 14 such cases had been reported between January 2010 and March 2013 alone.

Israeli soldiers had used Palestinian children to enter potentially dangerous buildings before them and to stand in front of military vehicles to deter stone-throwing, it said.

“Almost all those using children as human shields and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a nine-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted,” it said.

Israel’s “illegal long-standing occupation” of Palestinian territory and the Syrian Golan Heights, continued expansion of “unlawful” Jewish settlements, construction of the Wall into the West Bank, land confiscation and destruction of homes and livelihoods “constitute severe and continuous violations of the rights of Palestinian children and their families”, it said.

Israel disputes the international position that its settlements in the West Bank are illegal. It says the wall it built there during the uprising stopped Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching its cities.

In March, Palmor, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, had said that officials from the ministry and the military had cooperated with UNICEF in its work on the report, with the goal of improving the treatment of Palestinian minors in custody.

“Israel will study the conclusions and will work to implement them through ongoing cooperation with UNICEF, whose work we value and respect,” he said, in response to the UNICEF report.

 


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