Saturday, 21 March 2009

o cerco israelita mata uma outra criança doente em Gaza

Israeli siege kills another child patient in Gaza
Report, Al Mezan, 20 March 2009

Seventeen-year-old Maher Mohammed al-Sheikh died in Gaza on Sunday 25 January 2009 waiting for the Israeli government to give him clearance to receive treatment for his leukemia in Israel.

On 8 May 2008 Maher was diagnosed with leukemia at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City. He was granted a referral to Israel and after waiting for 40 days he was able to travel with his father to Tel Hashomer Hospital outside Tel Aviv on 17 June 2008. There he underwent chemotherapy treatment, after which the doctors concluded that he needed a bone marrow transplant. His family traveled to the hospital to be tested for a suitable bone marrow match. On 19 November 2008 the transplant was carried out successfully using his two brothers' bone marrow.

When he returned to Gaza after a recovery period of one and a half months, on 1 January 2009, he was in good health and showed signs of a stable recovery. However, less than a week later, his condition began to deteriorate and he started vomiting, developed a fever and had severe diarrhea. His family took him to al-Shifa hospital to be treated, but the doctors informed them that he needed treatment for severe infections that he had contracted. After putting Maher on antibiotics that did not improve his condition, the al-Shifa doctors and the doctors that had treated Maher in Israel felt that it was imperative for him to return to Israel to carry out the treatment at Tel Hashomer Hospital.

Maher submitted his urgent request for permission to enter Israel to the Israeli authorities on 12 January 2009. He passed away on 25 January without having received a response to his request. According to Maan News Agency, the Palestinian Authority's Minister of Health, Fathi Abu Moghli, contacted the Israeli government to inquire about the reason for Maher not receiving a permit in time. According to Abu Moghli there has been no response yet from the government.

Applying for medical treatment in Israel from Gaza is a long and complicated process. The patient must first be put in contact by their doctor with the Palestinian Referral Abroad Department. This department then arranges an appointment with an Israeli hospital before issuing a referral abroad request. Then the patient must contact the Palestinian health District Coordination Office (DCO), which directly contacts the Israeli health DCO for a permit to pass through the Erez crossing. The request is then sent to the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) where Israel's domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet) evaluates the security risk posed by the patient. Finally, if permission is granted, the patient travels to Erez crossing, where a Palestinian liaison officer coordinates with an Israeli liaison officer to get the patient across.

Even after this long and complicated process a patient might not be allowed to enter Israel if there was a delay in the process which led him to miss his hospital appointment, or if the Israeli military decides to close the crossing for security reasons. If this happens, the patient needs to initiate the entire process again from the beginning.

Maher's case is one of hundreds that fits into the Israeli governmental policy to often delay or refuse to give Gazans permission to enter Israel in order to receive vital medical treatment. The Ministry of Health of the Government in Gaza estimates that at least 274 Gazans have died for health reasons due to the Israeli closure of Gaza since the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip began in 2007, including patients whose requests for permits were rejected by the Israeli authorities. The number of Gazans being denied permits is increasing each year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has gathered data on the situation of access to healthcare in Gaza: 32 patients died between October 2007 and March 2008 while waiting for travel permits, to which WHO's head of office for the West Bank and Gaza, Ambrogio Manenti, responded that "All these tragedies could have been easily avoided." In 2006 4,932 permits were granted and 538 denied, the following year 7,176 granted and 1,627 denied. The proportion of permits denied increased from 10 percent in 2006 to 18.5 percent in 2007. By the end of 2007 the number increased to 38 percent according to the Israeli rights organization Physicians for Human Rights.

Because of the siege Israel has imposed on Gaza, there are acute shortages of medicine, equipment, replacement parts for broken equipment and trained medics. As of January 2008, 105 of a list of 460 essential medications were no longer in stock in Gazan pharmacies -- since then the situation has deteriorated significantly. The lack of continuous electricity, as a result of Israeli restrictions on the amount of fuel entering Gaza, is another major hindrance for Gazan hospitals to keep crucial medical equipment functional. Due to all of the shortages, advanced health care is virtually non-existent in the Gaza Strip. Because of the lack of accessible medical treatment for Palestinians in Gaza, Israel must allow Gazan patients to exit the Strip to receive specialized medical treatment.

Every Palestinian has the right to health, which is enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services." The right to health has been recognized in numerous other international human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and as a State Party that ratified the ICESCR in 1991, Israel is legally bound by its provisions, which applicability extends in cases of belligerent occupation and/or conflict. The right has four factors:

  • Availability -- functioning public health-care facilities, goods and services have to be available in adequate quantity.
  • Accessibility -- health-care facilities, goods and services have to be accessible to everyone without discrimination, physical accessibility, economic accessibility (affordability) and there must be information accessibility as well for patients.
  • Acceptability -- all health facilities, goods and services must be sensitive to gender and respectful of medical ethics as well as individual and community culture.
  • Quality -- health facilities, goods and services must be of good quality, e.g. skilled medical personnel, scientifically approved and unexpired drugs and hospital equipment, safe and potable water and sufficient sanitation.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the body supervising the implementation of the Covenant, in its concluding observations on Israel has repeatedly emphasized that Israel's obligations under the Covenant apply to all territories and populations under its effective control. The International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the Wall also stressed the ICESCR's applicability to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

This right must be provided without any conditions hinged to it, a principle that Israel repeatedly violates. The Shin Bet has on numerous occasions pressured Palestinians in need of external medical treatment to become informants in exchange for permission to leave Gaza. According Physicians for Human Rights, agents interrogate Gazans who want to enter Israel for medical care about their relatives, neighbors and friends; those who don't cooperate often don't get travel clearance. It has received reports from 32 patients in Gaza who say they were denied permission to leave for refusing to cooperate with Israeli questioners at the Erez Crossing by answering questions about the political affiliations of relatives, friends and acquaintances: "Interrogators ... question the patient and demand information in return for permission to access care. In some cases, patients are asked to collaborate ... on a regular basis."

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights has also taken on several cases of Gazans who were offered permits in exchange for collaboration with the Shin Bet, the most recent of which occurred in September 2008. Khalid Abdel-Rahman Hussein Abu Shamala, a 38-year-old man was suffering severe portal vein thrombosis and underwent surgery at Ain Shams Specialized Hospital in Cairo to prevent the vein from closing by inserting a plastic tube. Because of the seriousness of his condition, he needed further treatment after the surgery and was referred to a specialist at Tel Hashomer Hospital in July 2008. On 9 September, at which time his health had seriously deteriorated and he was visibly in a very bad condition, he traveled to Erez and was interviewed by the Shin Bet. He was initially told that he would be given permission to go to Israel, however shortly afterwards he was contacted by an Israeli security agent and told to return to Erez for a second round of questioning, at which point he was told that in order to get permission to enter Israel he must cooperate by passing on information about people from his local community. Upon his refusal he tried to return to Cairo, but because of the closure of the Rafah checkpoint, he was unable to reach the hospital in time and passed away on 28 November 2008.

This case highlights a policy that falls in grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture; international law forbids the use of civilians in conflict to damage an enemy state and collaboration, a crime punishable by death under Palestinian law.


a proibição de viajar viola a liberdade de circulação

Travel bans violate freedom of movement
Adri Nieuwhof and Jeff Handmaker, The Electronic Intifada, 19 March 2009

Shawan Jabarin accepts the Geuzenpenning award for human rights defenders in Ramallah. (Al-Haq)

Despite international media attention and considerable diplomatic pressure from the Netherlands, Israel did not allow the general director of the Palestinian organization Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin, to travel to the Netherlands to receive the prestigious Dutch Geuzenpenning award for human rights defenders on 13 March 2009. Israel's travel ban on Jabarin and other human rights defenders on the basis of secret evidence violates principles for a fair trial and the basic human right of free movement, resembling the behavior of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Al-Haq is an independent, Palestinian non-governmental human rights organization based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. The Geuzenpenning honors the historic resistance group, the Geuzen, who fought the occupying German army in the Netherlands during the Second World War. The Geuzenpenning award keeps alive the ideals of resisting oppression and promoting and maintaining democracy as well as heightening awareness in the Netherlands and globally of all forms of dictatorship, discrimination and racism.

The Israeli government has forbidden Shawan Jabarin from traveling abroad ever since he was appointed director of Al-Haq in 2006. Before his appointment, Jabarin traveled to many countries, including Ireland, where he received a master's degree in human rights in 2005.

The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen reportedly put a lot of pressure on his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, though clearly to no avail. In a hearing before the Israeli high court that violated several universal principles of a fair trial, a hearing which Jabarin also could not attend because of his confinement to the West Bank, the panel of three judges once again revealed its impotence in the face of absurdly unsupportable "security" concerns. After dismissing everyone from the courtroom except for the Israeli government lawyer and a representative of the Israeli General Security Service (GSS), which presented evidence that was never disclosed to Jabarin or his lawyers, the judges decided to maintain his travel ban. The cryptic ruling of the court mentioned that:

"[T]he fact cannot be ignored that the West Bank is a closed military zone, entry and exit from which require a permit. The right to freedom of movement is examined in view of [Israel's] special legislation for the area. ... The material pointing to Jabarin's involvement in the activity of terrorist entities is concrete and reliable material. No permission to leave the country is no punishment for his forbidden activities but due to relevant security considerations."

Minister Verhagen commented in an official press release that "It is disappointing, and disquieting, that [Jabarin] has been denied the opportunity to receive the Geuzen Medal." Verhagen was publicly critical of the fact that the Israeli court's judgment of the GSS that Jabarin is or was a member of a terrorist organization was based on evidence to which Jabarin and his legal team had no access.

Although Jabarin was unable to receive the Geuzenpenning award in person, he did participate in the ceremony by way of a video link with Ramallah. In a response to the decision by the Israeli high court to uphold the GSS travel ban, Al-Haq replied through a press release issued on 11 March: "Once again, the Israeli judiciary demonstrates its subservience to the military and security authorities."

Israel's treatment of human rights defenders like Jabarin recall Archbishop Desmond Tutu's protest of "the whole phalanx of draconian laws such as the security legislation" that violated the rights of those who rejected apartheid in South Africa. During the South African apartheid regime, persons considered by the Minister of Law and Order a threat to the security of the state were indefinitely detained in solitary confinement, with no contact with their family or a lawyer. Additionally, persons were placed under travel ban orders arbitrarily and the evidence "justifying" the orders not tested in an open court.

The banning orders in apartheid South Africa bears a disturbing resemblance to the behavior of the GSS and the Israeli high court. In South Africa, banning orders were used to silence persons who resisted apartheid. Individuals could not be quoted during the period of the banning order. They could not attend a "gathering," which meant an assembly of more than one other person, and could not travel outside the magisterial area to which they were confined. Tutu fiercely objected that such "punishment was inflicted without the evidence allegedly justifying it being made available to the banned person, nor having it scrutinized in a court of law."

Like Jabarin, and many other Palestinian human rights defenders, South African anti-apartheid leaders and human rights defenders were also banned from traveling abroad for many years during the 1970s and '80s for speaking out against the government, among them Chief Albert Luthuli, Albertina Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Rev. Beyers Naude.

These arguments aside, in reflecting on whether supposed association with a particular group justifies such draconian measures as a travel banning order, it is important also to be mindful of the fact that the African National Congress, the liberation movement that fought apartheid in South Africa, was for many decades regarded by the West as a "terrorist" organization. At the same time, the West mostly tolerated the South African government's apartheid policies. However, neither this one-sided attitude by the West, nor fierce oppression by the racist regime in South Africa could end resistance to apartheid.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland. Jeff Handmaker is a human rights lawyer, researcher and university lecturer in human rights at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.


os crimes flagrantes em Gaza

The crimes we witnessed in Gaza
Radhika Sainath writing from Los Angeles, US, Live from Palestine, 20 March 2009

Huwaida Arraf, Radhika Sainath, with filmmaker Adam Shapiro, interview Khaled Abed Rabu outside his demolished home in eastern Jabaliya. (Mohamed Majdalawi)

Two days after Israel ended its 22-day invasion of the Gaza Strip, a friend and former clinical law professor in Jerusalem, Huwaida Arraf, asked me: "What do you think about organizing an emergency legal delegation to Gaza?" A small committee formed and we quickly put a call out for participants. Dozens of attorneys and law students from across the nation expressed their interest in traveling to Gaza to investigate the circumstances that led to massive Palestinian casualties, and to determine, what, if any, violations of international law occurred.

A week later, eight National Lawyers Guild members and a documentary filmmaker landed in Egypt. We crossed into Gaza through the Rafah land crossing on 2 February 2009. Minutes after Palestinian officials stamped our passports, we were startled by a loud explosion. "Don't worry," said one of the officials, unflinching. "They're only bombing the tunnels. It's normal here." Though all of us had experience working or traveling in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), none of us were prepared for what we saw.

During our six days in Gaza, we visited neighborhoods in Gaza City, Jabaliya, Rafah and Khan Younis to interview paramedics, hospital workers, non-governmental organization representatives, Palestinian Ministry of Health officials and other civilian witnesses. In particular, we looked at three areas: (1) whether Israel targeted civilians or civilian infrastructure; (2) whether Israel had used weapons illegally; and (3) whether Israel had deliberately or arbitrarily blocked or prevented medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians during the offensive.

On our first evening, we met with John Ging, the Director of Gaza Operations for the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA). Ging told us how on 15 January 2009, Israeli forces hit the UN compound in Gaza City with white phosphorous shells. That morning, UN workers were in real-time communications with Israeli authorities, and informed them that more than 700 people had sought refuge in the compound from heavy shelling in the area. We saw the charred remains of UN warehouses containing food and medicine, and heard how UN workers retrieved fuel tanks to prevent them from exploding.

Throughout our week in Gaza, we recorded numerous accounts of Israeli soldiers shooting at civilians -- who were often carrying white flags or attempting to flee -- in violation of international law. Moreover, Additional Protocol I of the Fourth Geneva Convention requires that a belligerent give an effective warning when attacks may affect civilians.

Khaled Abed Rabu of eastern Jabaliya related how he witnessed an Israeli soldier kill his two-year-old and seven-year-old daughters in the early afternoon of 7 January 2009. "This is where it happened," said Abed Rabu, sitting on the concrete remains of his home. Israeli soldiers had ordered the family out of the home, so his wife, mother, three daughters and he came out, holding four white flags amongst them. Two soldiers sat outside a tank, eating chips and chocolates, when a third, without warning, began shooting at the youngest, Amal. Abed Rabu looked down, and Amal's stomach was outside her body. "She was carrying a white teddy bear, and the teddy bear was executed with her," he said. When Abed Rabu bent down to pick her up, the soldier shot his seven-year-old, then his mother and his four-year-old daughter, who survived but is paralyzed.

As the soldier continued shooting, Abed Rabu ran back in the house carrying the surviving daughter, Samar, in his arms. After two hours of watching her bleed, Abed Rabu took Samar outside in his arms, believing the Israelis would shoot both of them, putting her out of her pain, and his as well. However, the soldiers let Abed Rabu and his family pass.

Abed Rabu walked for a kilometer when he reached an intersection. There, he saw Adham Hamis Naseer, with a cart and a white horse, coming to his aid. Israeli soldiers shot the horse in the head, and then Naseer, also in the head. It was this incident that made Abed Rabu incredulous -- that they had shot a horse. That Israelis had set out to terrorize the entire population of Gaza, even going so far as murdering his children, was sadly not a surprise, but it was a surprise that they would take the life of a horse.

A Palestinian child walks outside tents setup for people whose homes were destroyed in Jabaliya, Gaza Strip. (Radhika Sainath)

During our week in Gaza, we also uncovered extensive evidence suggesting that Israeli forces destroyed buildings that had no links to militant or resistance activity.

In addition to attacks on UNRWA schools, Israeli forces also hit the American International School in Gaza -- one of the Strip's few co-ed schools. According to the school's director, Dr. Ribhi Salem, the Israelis gave no warning nor targeted any areas adjoining the school. Dr. Salem also stated that not only had no armed resistance activity had ever taken place on the property, but Israel had never accused the school of harboring or being used by militants.

Israel also appears to have disregarded the prohibition on the use of indiscriminate weapons in civilian areas by using battlefield weaponry in heavily-populated civilian areas, namely white phosphorus, flechettes and artillery.

Dr. Nafiz Abu Shaaban, head of the burn unit at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, explained to us how that during the offensive, the hospital released patients with minor burns in order to clear beds for the large number of incoming victims. Many of those released returned a few days later, their wounds having expanded in size and depth. Doctors then realized that something was continuing to burn into the body following the initial treatment. It was not until two weeks into the Israeli offensive that foreign doctors, who had worked in Lebanon, identified the burns in Gaza as consistent with use of white phosphorous.

In addition to a belligerent's duty to avoid injury to civilians, international humanitarian law requires that care be provided to the wounded. In conversations with medical workers and the families of victims, we documented many serious violations of the requirement to allow medical access to the injured.

For example, from 3-7 January 2009, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) received 145 calls from the neighborhood of al-Zeitoun alone, but Israeli forces refused to allow ambulances to enter. "A lot of people could have been saved, but they weren't given medical care by the Israelis, nor did the Israeli army allow Palestinian medical services in," said Bashar Ahmed Murad, Director of Emergency Medical Services for PRCS. When the Israeli army finally allowed medics to enter on 7 January, they refused entrance of ambulances. Dr. Murad explained how paramedics were forced to "pile the wounded on donkey carts and have the medical workers pull the carts."

When I left for Gaza, I, like many people, was aware of the stark disparity between Israeli and Palestinian casualties during the offensive that began on 27 December: the death toll currently stands at more than 1,400 Palestinians killed compared with 13 Israelis -- three of whom were soldiers killed by friendly fire. Like many, I analyzed the Gaza attacks within the framework of "proportionality" -- the idea that civilian injuries and deaths may not be excessive in relation to anticipated military advantage.

Graffiti by Israeli soldiers in a Palestinian home in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. (Radhika Sainath)
While I do not know what Israel hoped to achieve with its invasion, I do know the goal was not to stop Hamas rockets. In a house in al-Zeitoun, the walls, ceilings and doors are covered in graffiti that reads, in Hebrew and English, "Death to the Arabs," "An Arab brave [a real Arab] is an Arab in a grave," and "he who dreams Givati [the Israeli infantry brigade], kills Arabs." Such sayings do not stop Hamas rockets. Covering prayer rugs in feces serves no military objective. Tearing up college diplomas and giving bottles of urine to detained children asking for water are not acts of self-defense.

Finally, the brutal killings of innocent civilians, whether by bombing neighborhoods or directly targeting people carrying white flags is never self-defense. These were not isolated incidents perpetrated by bad apples, but a repeated pattern of Israeli assaults on the dignity of Palestinians.

Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza, and the horrors I witnessed, are consistent with Israeli General Moshe Yaalon's aim that "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people." Were this any other country, official sanctions and exclusion from the community of nations would be the obvious answer. More than two months have passed since the end of "Operation Cast Lead" and Gaza is still waiting for the world's response. The question still looms: will Israel and Israeli war criminals ever be held accountable for the actions in a court of impartial international justice?

Radhika Sainath recently returned from a National Lawyers Guild delegation to Gaza. She practices civil rights law in Los Angeles, California.


moda israelita: bebês palestinianos mortos e mesquitas bombardeadas

Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009

By Uri Blau

The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit's insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription "Better use Durex," next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, "1 shot, 2 kills." A "graduation" shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, "No matter how it begins, we'll put an end to it."

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, "Bet you got raped!" A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies - such as "confirming the kill" (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim's head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.

In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit's commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, "We won't chill 'til we confirm the kill" were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn't exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.

The slogan "Let every Arab mother know that her son's fate is in my hands!" had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit's shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.

"It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town," he explains. "The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him."

Does the design go to the commanders for approval?

The Givati soldier: "Usually the shirts undergo a selection process by some officer, but in this case, they were approved at the level of platoon sergeant. We ordered shirts for 30 soldiers and they were really into it, and everyone wanted several items and paid NIS 200 on average."

What do you think of the slogan that was printed?

"I didn't like it so much, but most of the soldiers wanted it."

Many controversial shirts have been ordered by graduates of snipers courses, which bring together soldiers from various units. In 2006, soldiers from the "Carmon Team" course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, "You've got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it's all over." Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: "And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry." [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.] Another sniper's shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, "Everything is with the best of intentions."

G., a soldier in an elite unit who has done a snipers course, explained that, "it's a type of bonding process, and also it's well known that anyone who is a sniper is messed up in the head. Our shirts have a lot of double entendres, for example: 'Bad people with good aims.' Every group that finishes a course puts out stuff like that."

When are these shirts worn?

G. "These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it's about."

Of the shirt depicting a bull's-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: "There are people who think it's not right, and I think so as well, but it doesn't really mean anything. I mean it's not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman."

What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan "Smaller - harder!"?

"It's a kid, so you've got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller."

Do your superiors approve the shirts before printing?

"Yes, although one time they rejected some shirt that was too extreme. I don't remember what was on it."

These shirts also seem pretty extreme. Why draw crosshairs over a child - do you shoot kids?

'We came, we saw'

"As a sniper, you get a lot of extreme situations. You suddenly see a small boy who picks up a weapon and it's up to you to decide whether to shoot. These shirts are half-facetious, bordering on the truth, and they reflect the extreme situations you might encounter. The one who-honest-to-God sees the target with his own eyes - that's the sniper."

Have you encountered a situation like that?

"Fortunately, not involving a kid, but involving a woman - yes. There was someone who wasn't holding a weapon, but she was near a prohibited area and could have posed a threat."

What did you do?

"I didn't take it" (i.e., shoot).

You don't regret that, I imagine.

"No. Whomever I had to shoot, I shot."

A shirt printed up just this week for soldiers of the Lavi battalion, who spent three years in the West Bank, reads: "We came, we saw, we destroyed!" - alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center.

A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: "If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!"

Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. "You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing," he explained.

What is the soldier holding in his hand?

Y. "A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque - I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn't look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, 'Is that what you've got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?' I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn't worth it for them to go on shooting. So that's the idea of 'we're coming to destroy' in the drawing."

According to Y., most of these shirts are worn strictly in an army context, not in civilian life. "And within the army people look at it differently," he added. "I don't think I would walk down the street in this shirt, because it would draw fire. Even at my yeshiva I don't think people would like it."

Y. also came up with a design for the shirt his unit printed at the end of basic training. It shows a clenched fist shattering the symbol of the Paratroops Corps.

Where does the fist come from?

"It's reminiscent of [Rabbi Meir] Kahane's symbol. I borrowed it from an emblem for something in Russia, but basically it's supposed to look like Kahane's symbol, the one from 'Kahane Was Right' - it's a sort of joke. Our company commander is kind of gung-ho."

Was the shirt printed?

"Yes. It was a company shirt. We printed about 100 like that."

This past January, the "Night Predators" demolitions platoon from Golani's Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, "Only God forgives."

One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: "It doesn't mean much, it's just a T-shirt from our platoon. It's not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt."

What's the idea behind "Only God forgives"?

The soldier: "It's just a saying."

No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?

"I don't see what you're getting at. I don't like the way you're going with this. Don't take this somewhere you're not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs."

After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan. S., a soldier in the platoon that ordered the shirt, said the idea came from a similar shirt, printed after the Second Lebanon War, that featured Hassan Nasrallah instead of Haniyeh.

"They don't okay things like that at the company level. It's a shirt we put out just for the platoon," S. explained.

What's the problem with this shirt?

S.: "It bothers some people to see these things, from a religious standpoint ..."

How did people who saw it respond?

"We don't have that many Orthodox people in the platoon, so it wasn't a problem. It's just something the guys want to put out. It's more for wearing around the house, and not within the companies, because it bothers people. The Orthodox mainly. The officers tell us it's best not to wear shirts like this on the base."

The sketches printed in recent years at the Adiv factory, one of the largest of its kind in the country, are arranged in drawers according to the names of the units placing the orders: Paratroops, Golani, air force, sharpshooters and so on. Each drawer contains hundreds of drawings, filed by year. Many of the prints are cartoons and slogans relating to life in the unit, or inside jokes that outsiders wouldn't get (and might not care to, either), but a handful reflect particular aggressiveness, violence and vulgarity.

Print-shop manager Haim Yisrael, who has worked there since the early 1980s, said Adiv prints around 1,000 different patterns each month, with soldiers accounting for about half. Yisrael recalled that when he started out, there were hardly any orders from the army.

"The first ones to do it were from the Nahal brigade," he said. "Later on other infantry units started printing up shirts, and nowadays any course with 15 participants prints up shirts."

From time to time, officers complain. "Sometimes the soldiers do things that are inside jokes that only they get, and sometimes they do something foolish that they take to an extreme," Yisrael explained. "There have been a few times when commanding officers called and said, 'How can you print things like that for soldiers?' For example, with shirts that trashed the Arabs too much. I told them it's a private company, and I'm not interested in the content. I can print whatever I like. We're neutral. There have always been some more extreme and some less so. It's just that now more people are making shirts."

Race to be unique

Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot, said the phenomenon of custom-made T-shirts is a product of "the infantry's insane race to be unique. I, for example, had only one shirt that I received after the Yom Kippur War. It said on it, 'The School for Officers,' and that was it. What happened since then is a product of the decision to assign every unit an emblem and a beret. After all, there used to be very few berets: black, red or green. This changed in the 1990s. [The shirts] developed because of the fact that for bonding purposes, each unit created something that was unique to it.

"These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable," Ben-Tzedef explained. "It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction."

Yossi Kaufman, who moderates the army and defense forum on the Web site Fresh, served in the Armored Corps from 1996 to 1999. "I also drew shirts, and I remember the first one," he said. "It had a small emblem on the front and some inside joke, like, 'When we die, we'll go to heaven, because we've already been through hell.'"

Kaufman has also been exposed to T-shirts of the sort described here. "I know there are shirts like these," he says. "I've heard and also seen a little. These are not shirts that soldiers can wear in civilian life, because they would get stoned, nor at a battalion get-together, because the battalion commander would be pissed off. They wear them on very rare occasions. There's all sorts of black humor stuff, mainly from snipers, such as, 'Don't bother running because you'll die tired' - with a drawing of a Palestinian boy, not a terrorist. There's a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, 'No virgins, no terror attacks.' I laughed, but it was pretty awful. When I was asked once to draw things like that, I said it wasn't appropriate."

The IDF Spokesman's Office comments on the phenomenon: "Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers' private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort."

Shlomo Tzipori, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves and a lawyer specializing in martial law, said the army does bring soldiers up on charges for offenses that occur outside the base and during their free time. According to Tzipori, slogans that constitute an "insult to the army or to those in uniform" are grounds for court-martial, on charges of "shameful conduct" or "disciplinary infraction," which are general clauses in judicial martial law.

Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of "Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military," said that the phenomenon is "part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome - the calm that never arrived - led to a further shift rightward.

"This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him."

Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

Sasson-Levy: "No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the 'Screw Haniyeh' shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs."

Col. (res.) Ron Levy began his military service in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando force before the Six-Day War. He was the IDF's chief psychologist, and headed the army's mental health department in the 1980s.

Levy: "I'm familiar with things of this sort going back 40, 50 years, and each time they take a different form. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the ways in which soldiers project their anger, frustration and vio
lence. It is a certain expression of things, which I call 'below the belt.'"

Do you think this a good way to vent anger?

Levy: "It's safe. But there are also things here that deviate from the norm, and you could say that whoever is creating these things has reached some level of normality. He gives expression to the fact that what is considered abnormal today might no longer be so tomorrow."


segredos sujos do Israel em Gaza

Israel's dirty secrets in Gaza

Army veterans reveal how they gunned down innocent Palestinian families and destroyed homes and farms

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Israel was last night confronting a major challenge over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians.

The testimonies – the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military – are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the operation. In one of the testimonies shedding harsh new light on what the soldiers say were the permissive rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead, one soldier describes how an officer ordered the shooting of an elderly woman 100 metres from a house commandeered by troops.

Another soldier, describing how a mother and her children were shot dead by a sniper after they turned the wrong way out of a house, says the "atmosphere" among troops was that the lives of Palestinians were "very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers".

A squad leader said: "At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and – I call it murder – to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away."

The accounts, which also describe apparently indiscriminate destruction of property, were given at a post-operation discussion by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military course at the Oranim Academic College in northern Israel. The transcript of the session in front of the head of the course – details from which were published by the newspaper Haaretz – prompted the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military advocate general Avichai Mendelblit yesterday to announce a military police investigation into the claims. Haaretz said the airing of the "dirty secrets" would make it more difficult for Israelis to dismiss the claims as Palestinian propaganda. The course principal, Danny Zamir, told the newspaper that after being "shocked" by the testimonies on 13 February he told the IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi he "feared a serious moral failure" in the IDF.

In one account, an infantry squad leader describes how troops released a family who had been held in a room of their house for several days. He said: "The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay... The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him. He shot them straight away. I don't think he felt too bad about it, because, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to, the lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers."

A second squad leader, who described the killing of the elderly woman, says he argued with his commander over loose rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, soldiers had complained that "we should kill everyone there [in the centre of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist." The squad leader said: "To write 'death to the Arabs' on walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics."

Ehud Barak, Israel's Defence Minister, said: "I say to you that from the chief of staff down to the last soldier, the most moral army in the world stands ready to take orders from the government of Israel. I have no doubt that every incident will be individually examined."

But Israeli human rights organisations, including B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, called for an independent investigation and complained that the military police inquiry had only been announced after Haaretz published the story, "three weeks after the relevant materials reached the Chief of the General Staff. This tardiness follows a pattern of failures to investigate suspicions of serious crimes".

Amos Harel, the paper's respected military correspondent who broke the story, wrote that Mr Zamir was sentenced in 1990 for refusing to guard a settlers' ceremony at Joseph's tomb in the West Bank. But he added that a reading of the transcript shows that Mr Zamir "acts out of a deep concern for the spirit of the IDF".

In their own words: Soldiers' stories

Squad leader Aviv

"At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and to ascend floor by floor and – I call it murder – to go from floor to floor and to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away. This frightened me a bit. I tried to influence it as much as possible, despite my low rank, to change it. In the end the directive was to go into a house, switch on loudspeakers and tell them 'you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn't will be killed'."

Palestinians' lives were seen as 'very, very less important than our soldiers'

AP. Palestinians' lives were seen as 'very, very less important than our soldiers'

Soldier Ram

"There was an order to free the [confined] families. The platoon commander set free the family and told them to turn right. A mother and two children didn't understand and turned left. [Officers] had forgotten to tell the sniper on the roof that they were being set free and that everything was okay and he should hold fire. You can say that he acted as he was supposed to, in accordance with the orders. The sniper saw a woman and children approaching him, past lines that no one was to be allowed to cross. He fired directly at them. I don't know if he fired at their legs but in the end he killed them."

fonte: The Independent

Friday, 20 March 2009

Soldado diz que os rabinos promoveram a "guerra religiosa" em Gaza


Soldier says rabbis pushed "religious war" in Gaza
20 Mar 2009 13:59:24 GMT
Source: Reuters
JERUSALEM, March 20 (Reuters) - Rabbis in the Israeli army told battlefield troops in January's Gaza offensive that they were fighting a "religious war" against gentiles, according to one army commander's account published on Friday. "Their message was very clear: we are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the gentiles who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land," he said. The account by Ram, a pseudonym to shield the soldier's identity, was published by the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper in the second day of revelations that have rocked the Israeli military. ( "Shooting and Crying, 2009"). They were leaked from a Feb 13 meeting of armed forces members to share their Gaza experiences. Some veterans, alumni of an Israel Defence Force (IDF) military academy, told of the killing of civilians and their impression that deep contempt for Palestinians pervaded the ranks of the Israeli forces. The institution's director, Danny Zamir, confirmed that Thursday's published accounts were authentic. In longer excerpts in its Friday "Week's End" edition, the daily quoted 'Ram' as saying his impression of the 22-day operation was "the feeling of an almost religious mission". It began when a devout sergeant in his unit "assembled the whole platoon and led the prayer for those going into battle", he said. "Also when we were inside they sent in those booklets full of Psalms, a ton of Psalms. I think the house I was in for a week, we could have filled a room with the Psalms they sent." The officer felt there was a "huge gap between what the Education Corps sent out and what the IDF rabbinate sent out". The corps distributed pamphlets about the history of Israel's fighting in Gaza from 1948 to the present, he said. But the rabbinate's message imparted to many soldiers the sense that "this operation was a religious war". "ALL TERRORISTS" A squad commander from Ram's Givat Brigade, named as Aviv, recounted his misgivings about orders to break down doors with armoured vehicles and shoot anyone inside, floor by floor. In the event, the order was amended to include "operating megaphones" so advancing troops could tell people they had five minutes to get out or be killed. Aviv said "there was a very annoying moment" when he briefed his men and one challenged that order, saying: "Yeah? Anyone who is in there is a terrorist, that's a known fact..." "And then his buddies join in: 'We need to murder any person who's in there, yeah, any person who's in Gaza is a terrorist' and all the other things that they stuff our heads with, in the media," Aviv was quoted as saying. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has put the Palestinian death toll during the war at 1,417 -- 926 civilians, 236 fighters and 255 police officers. Israeli officials have disputed those figures. Thirteen Israelis were killed. On Thursday, an Israeli think-tank, the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, challenged the conclusion that close to 1,000 Gaza civilians were killed. It said a statistical analysis of PCHR's list of civilian casualties showed a disproportionate number of young men of fighting age. Defence Minister Ehud Barak responded to the IDF revelations on Thursday by repeating Israel's description of its armed forces as the most moral in the world. The IDF said its judge advocate-general had ordered an investigation. According to a soldier named as Moshe, investigations into battlefield conduct are not taken seriously. He said the attitude could be summed up as: "It isn't pleasant to say so, but no one cares at all. We aren't investigating this. This is what happens during fighting..." (Writing by Douglas Hamilton; editing by Samia Nakhoul) (For blogs and links on Israeli politics and other Israeli and Palestinian news, go to

A campanha "Nunca Antes"

Video 3

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Guerra em Gaza no palco

Director: Sr.Fathi Abdul Rahman
Fonte:Al Jazeera

Dois Documentários sobre a Palestina no Porto

A Casa Viva celebra o dia internacional da Palestina (30 de Março) com um ciclo de cinema:

No dia 19 (quinta feira) o filme Machssomim (Checkpoint), de Yoav Shamir

(60' | Inglês, Árabe e Hebraico; legendas em Inglês)

Documentário (2003) específico sobre os controles do exército israelita em território Palestiniano. Mostra o entrave quotidiano que estes controles colocam às movimentações do povo palestino no seu próprio país em situações quer de viagem de trabalho quer de uma simples visita a um médico ou futura noiva.

O primeiro filme do ciclo "The Iron Wall" (2006) foi projectado na terça-feira passada (dia 17). Lamentamos o atraso na divulgação!

A campanha "Nunca Antes"

Video 1

IDF em Gaza: Matar civis, vandalismo, laxista e regras de empenhamento

O exérctio Israelita em Gaza: Matar civis, vandalismo e regras de conduta

Durante a Operação Chumbo Elenco, as regras de conduta de guerra permitiram às forças israelitas matar civis palestinianos e destruir intencionalmente as suas propriedades, dizem os soldados que lutaram na ofensiva.

Alguns soldados que participaram na operação em Gaza são alunos do curso preparatório de Oranim Academic College em Tivon e colaboraram na entrevista. Algumas das suas declarações, feitas em 13 de Fevereiro, serão apresentadas quinta e sexta-feira no Haaretz.

No grupo de palestrantes estavam incluídos não só pilotos de combate mas também soldados de infantaria. O testemunho dos soldados contraria as declarações das forças israelitas que alegam que as tropas israelitas se comportaram exemplarmente no decurso da útima ofensiva. A sessão da transcrição foi publicada esta semana no boletim informativo para os alunos do curso.

Os depoimentos incluem uma descrição feita por um líder de um esquadrão de infantaria em que se falava de um incidente em que um atirador especial FIL disparou contra uma mãe palestiniana e seus dois filhos. "Havia uma casa com uma família no interior .... Nós ocupamos a casa. E um outro pelotão entrou e ocupou a casa, e poucos dias depois decidiram libertar a família. Os soldados tinham criado posições lá em cima e havia um atirador no telhado ", disse o soldado.

"O comandante de pelotão, ao deixar sair a família, disse-lhes para irem para a direita. A mãe e seus dois filhos não entenderam e viraram à esquerda. O comandante esquecera-se de dizer ao atirador do telhado que tinha decidido deixá-los ir ..... e que ele não devia disparar e ele ... ele fez o que era suposto fazer, de acordo com as ordens anteriores. "

Segundo o líder da equipa: "O atirador viu uma mulher e as crianças aproximarem-se dele e na iminência de atravessarem as linhas que não devem passar. Ele disparou contra eles imediatamente. Em qualquer caso, o que aconteceu é que ele os matou.

"Eu não acho que ele se sentiu muito mal com isso, porque afinal de contas, ele fez o seu trabalho de acordo com as ordens recebidas. E a atmosfera em geral, pelo que eu entendi da maioria dos meus homens com quem eu falei para ... não sei como descrever .... A vida dos palestinianos, digamos assim, é algo muito, muito menos importante do que as vidas dos nossos soldados. Então, desde que estejam em causa eles podem justificar dessa forma ", disse ele.

Outro líder de esquadrão da mesma brigada falou de um incidente em que o comandante do esquadrão ordenou que uma mulher idosa palestiniana fosse baleada e morta; ela caminhava numa rua que ficava cerca de 100 metros de uma casa ocupada pelo seu esquadrão.

O líder do esquadrão disse que ele discutiu com o seu comandante sobre as regras de engajamento permissivas e que permitia matar as pessoas fora de casa sem avisar previamente os moradores. Após as ordens terem sido mudadas, o líder do esquadrão queixou-se de que "devemos matá-los a todos [no centro de Gaza]. São todos terroristas."

O líder do esquadrão disse: "os comandantes dão a impressão que não existe qualquer lógica nestes actos, e eles também não dizem nada. Para escrever "morte aos árabes" nas paredes, para tirar fotografias de família e cuspir nas imagens deles, apenas porque você pode. Penso que esta é a coisa mais importante: perceber que o IDF tem perdido a sua ética. É disto que eu me vou lembrar. "


Gaza sem água potável


Gazans struggle for clean drinking water
Mel Frykberg, The Electronic Intifada, 18 March 2009

Palestinian children wait to get drinking water in Gaza City, 10 January 2009. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - As environmental experts, non-governmental organizations and government officials gather in Istanbul this week to attend the Fifth World Water Forum, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has drawn attention to the critical water situation in Gaza.

"ICRC teams are repairing water and sewage systems in Gaza that were badly damaged during the three-week Israeli military operation in January," the ICRC says in a media release.

"According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, one-fifth of the population had no direct access to drinking water, and relied on water purchased from private suppliers. Today, thousands of people still have no access to running water."

Much of Gaza's infrastructure was destroyed during Israel's military assault on the coastal territory during Operation Cast Lead, which created a critical humanitarian situation on the ground.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says 150,000 Gazans still remain affected by inadequate and unsafe water supply. Of these, about 50,000 remain without any water while the remainder receive water only every five to six days.

The OCHA adds that approximately 28,000 children in the Gaza Strip have no access to piped water. An additional 56,000 children have access to water only every week or so.

Gaza's Coast Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU), which handles water and sewage treatment, says the water crisis will continue until Israel allows sufficient spare parts and repair materials into Gaza.

Israel's continuing blockade of the Strip means that construction material, most spare parts and repair materials have been prevented from entering. This has made it impossible to rebuild the thousands of destroyed and damaged buildings. It has also severely restricted repair of vital infrastructure such as waste and water treatment plants.

Continual electricity blackouts have further limited the treatment plants' operating capacity, while severe restrictions on the import of fuel have limited the ability of emergency generators.

While the war exacerbated the situation, Gaza's infrastructure was already dilapidated and in urgent need of repair due to the previous 18 months of closure which followed Hamas taking power in June 2007.

The CMWU has been forced to pump tons of untreated sewage directly into the sea, which then seeps back into Gaza's underground water supply, further threatening safe drinking water supplies.

Recent water tests indicate that piped water in Gaza is not safe for human consumption. Forty-five of 248 water samples tested were found to be contaminated, primarily in the North Gaza and Gaza City districts.

Israel shelled Gaza's biggest wastewater treatment plant in Sheikh Ajleen, south-east of Gaza City, which usually treats raw sewage from approximately 400,000 people. The torrent of raw, untreated sewage flowing into residential areas, agricultural land and the sea was visible from outer space, according to satellite images released by the UN.

The UN's Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) showed the impact of the crater from the Israeli bomb and a sewage flow that traveled a distance of 1.2 km.

The ICRC and CMWU have been coordinating efforts to repair the plant but have been hampered by delays in obtaining the necessary approval from the Israeli authorities to bring in pipes and spare parts.

"The first thing people ask us for is water and electricity," says Marek Komarzynski, an ICRC water engineer. "That is what they need to lead anything like normal lives."

But the humanitarian crisis in the wake of the war and the blockade affects nearly every other aspect of the daily lives of ordinary Gazans.

At the end of February the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) assessed that over 2,000 families needed their homes to be rebuilt, while nearly 11,000 families required urgent repairs to their homes. The agency said it expected the figures to rise.

Six Palestinian Authority (PA) schools in northern Gaza were also severely damaged, forcing nearly 5,000 school children to relocate to other schools. The overcrowding meant that additional double-shifts were introduced, further burdening the 351 schools, approximately half of which already run double-shifts.

Meanwhile, Gaza's hospitals are struggling because equipment such as neonatal machines lack spare parts, while some medicines are not available. Furthermore, only half of more than 300 Gazans who wanted to travel abroad for emergency medical treatment succeeded in getting permits from Israel.

Malnutrition is another growing problem, and children and pregnant women bear the brunt. UNICEF recently provided vitamin supplements to 50,000 babies and children under five.

The OCHA says that the 127 truckloads of daily aid permitted in by the Israeli authorities are insufficient to meet market needs. Prior to the blockade 475 trucks entered daily.

Poverty and unemployment plague Gaza following Israel's destruction of various sectors which provided employment.

The Private Sector Coordination Council (PSCC) assesses that 700 private sector establishments were either completely destroyed or damaged. The damage is valued at 140 million dollars.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture estimate that 180 million dollars worth of damage was done to agricultural infrastructure.

The fishing sector was estimated to have suffered direct and indirect losses of 2.2 million dollars, due to destruction of fishing boats and related materials. And even those who are employed and earning are struggling. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Israeli restrictions on the entry of cash into Gaza have affected the livelihoods of up to half a million Gazans, in a population of 1.5 million.

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2009).

Carlos Latuff (Brasil) Caricaturas

Carlos Latuff

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

garantir o maior número de mortes em Gaza

Ensuring maximum casualties in Gaza
Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2009

Darts released from a flechette bomb.

"We were still young and in love. We had all of our dreams," Muhammad Abu Jerrad said, holding a photo of his wife by the sea. Wafa Abu Jerrad was one of at least six killed by three flechette bombs fired by Israeli tanks in the Ezbet Beit Hanoun area, northern Gaza, on 5 January.

The dart bomb attacks came the morning after invading Israeli soldiers killed 35-year-old paramedic Arafa Abd al-Dayem. Along with another medic and ambulance driver, Abd al-Dayem was targeted by the lethal darts just after 10:10am on 4 January while trying to aide civilians already attacked by Israeli forces in northern Gaza's Beit Lahia area. Within two hours of being shredded by multiple razor-sharp darts, Arafa Abd al-Dayem died as a result of slashes to his lungs, limbs and internal organs.

Khalid Abu Saada, the driver of the ambulance, testified to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: "I was told that there were injured people near the western roundabout in Beit Lahiya town. When we arrived, we saw a person who had been critically injured. The two paramedics climbed out of the ambulance to evacuate him into the ambulance. I drove approximately 10 meters ahead in order to evacuate another injured person. Then, an [Israeli] tank fired a shell at us. The shell directly hit the ambulance and 10 civilians, including the two paramedics, were injured."

From his al-Shifa hospital bed the day after the attack, 21-year-old volunteer medic Alaa Sarhan, lacerated legs bandaged, confirmed the account. More than two months later, he remains wheelchair-bound, lacerated muscles and ligaments still too damaged for walking.

In the same post-attack hospital room as Sarhan was Thaer Hammad, one of the injured civilians whom medics had come to the region to retrieve. In the initial shelling that day, Hammad lost his foot when Israeli tanks fired at, according to Hammad, a region filled with terrified civilians fleeing Israeli bombing. His friend Ali was shot in the head while trying to evacuate Hammad. The medics then arrived. Abd al-Dayem and Sarhan had loaded Hammad into the ambulance and were going to retrieve Ali's body when the flechette shell was fired at the medics and fleeing civilians. Ali was decapitated, and Abd al-Dayem received the injuries which would claim his life within hours.

Dr. Bakkar Abu Safia, head of the emergency department at al-Shifa hospital, treated Abd al-Dayem at Awda Hospital in Beit Lahiya.

"Arafa had received a direct hit on his chest, which was torn open, and had many small puncture wounds on his right and left arms. He had massive internal bleeding in his abdomen from the injury to his liver, and had blood in his lung. After we had closed his wounds and were transferring him to [the intensive care unit], he arrested. He had irreversible shock," Dr. Bakkar said.

Muhammad Abu Jerrad holds a picture of his 21-year-old wife, Wafa, who was eight months pregnant when she was killed by a flechette bomb.

Wafa Abu Jerrad, 21 years old and pregnant, was with her husband Muhammad, their two children, and relatives on the morning of her murder. At around 9:30am, they were eating breakfast in a sunny patch outside the front door of their home in what Muhammad described as a "calm" period. "Nothing was happening, not then, not half an hour earlier. It was calm. We were sitting outside because it felt safe."

"We heard explosions, coming from up the street near the Abd al-Dayem house. We knew of Arafa's death the day before," Muhammad Abu Jerrad explained, saying the family moved to the side of the house to see what was happening.

"We saw bodies on the ground everywhere outside the Abd al-Dayem mourning tents. Wafa panicked and told us to go back inside, so we ran to the front of the house. We were all very worried."

Abu Jerrad's father Khalil and some of the family had made it inside the house, and Abu Jerrad himself was stepping in the doorway, two-year-old son Khalil in his arms, Wafa to his left, when they were struck by the darts of a new shelling.

The dart bomb exploded in the air, Wafa dropped to ground, struck by flechettes into the head, chest and back. She was killed instantly.

"I was struck at the same time, in my right arm and in my back," Abu Jerrad recalled. "I fell over with my wife, passing out. I came to shortly after and saw my wife covered in blood. I picked her up and carried her to the car, running. Then I passed out again from the pain."

Although Abu Jerrad's father Khalil had been inside the doorway, he too was hit by the darts. Abu Jerrad's son Khalil was hit by darts in his right foot and in one finger. One of the flechettes that struck Abu Jerrad remains deeply embedded near his spinal cord. Doctors fear removing the dart would injure a nerve and leave Abu Jerrad paralyzed.

According to Dr. Bakkar, in Gaza it won't be possible for Abu Jerrad to get the surgery he needs. "We don't have qualified specialists to do such intricate surgery in Gaza. He'd need surgery outside." With more than 280 patients dead after being prevented by Israel, which controls Gaza's borders, from reaching medical treatment outside of Gaza, Abu Jerrad holds no prospect of being granted permission by Israeli authorities to leave Gaza for surgery.

Although he is in considerable pain due to the sharp dart still lodged in his back, Abu Jerrad said the pain of his injury is minor compared to the loss of his wife.

"'Where's mommy? Where's mommy?'" Abu Jerrad said two-year-old Khalil asks all the time. "Mommy has been hurt," he tells him, kissing a photo of his wife and making the sound of an explosion, knowing that there is no way of softening the truth for his son.

"We're totally innocent. We have nothing to do with rockets. We were just living in the house."

The house still bears the evidence of the dart bomb: numerous darts still firmly entrenched in the concrete wall where the darts flew. Some of the darts still have fins visibly peeking out of concrete, others seem to be but nails poking out from the wall.

The Guardian (UK) newspaper published a graphic illustrating how upon a timed explosion in the air, flechette darts are designed to spread out conically, covering a vast area which Amnesty International cites as 300 meters wide and 100 meters long, inflicting the maximum number of injuries possible. In the case of a densely-populated region like the Gaza Strip, the number of potentially-injured is deathly high. The same graphic shows how the head of the dart is designed to break away. Having penetrated inside a person, this breakage inflicts a second wound per single dart entry, multiplying the amount of internal damage done by the razor-like darts, which Amnesty International said number between 5,000 and 8,000 per shell.

Dr. Bassam al-Masari, a surgeon at Beit Lahiya's Kamal Adwan hospital, reiterated that flechettes cause more injuries than other bombs precisely because they spread in a larger area. And while the darts appear innocuously small, their velocity and design enable them to bore through cement and bones and "cut everything internal," said al-Masari. Accordingly, the prime cause of death is severe internal bleeding from slashed organs, particularly the heart, liver and brain. "Brain injuries are the most fatal," said al-Masari.

A few minutes up the road from the Abu Jerrad home, 57-year-old Jamal Abd al-Dayem and his wife, 50-year-old Sabah, grieve the deaths of their two sons, victims of the indiscriminate flechettes.

"Every time I think of them, every time I sit by their grave, I feel like I'm going to crumble. I was so happy with them," Sabah Abd al-Dayem said.

Jamal Abd al-Dayem sitting with his wife, Sabah, holds a dart from a flechette bomb.
Jamal Abd al-Dayem explained the events. "After my cousin Arafa was martyred on 4 January, we immediately opened mourning houses, with separate areas for men and women. The next day, at 9:30am the Israelis struck the mourning area where the men were. It was clearly a mourning house, on the road, open and visible. Immediately after the first strike, the Israelis hit the women's mourning area." Two strikes within 1.5 minutes, he reported.

"When Arafa was martyred, my sons cried so much their eyes were red and swollen with grief. The next day they were martyred," the father said, shaking his head in disbelief.

"Just like that, I lost two sons. One of them was newly married, his wife eight months pregnant."

Twenty-nine-year-old Said Abd al-Dayem died after one day in the hospital, succumbing to the fatal injuries of darts in his head. His unmarried brother, Nafez Abd al-Dayem, 23, was also struck in head by the darts and died immediately.

The surviving son, 25-year-old Nahez Abd al-Dayem, was hit by two darts in his abdomen, one in his chest, and another in his leg.

"I went to the mourning house to pay respects to my cousin, Arafa. When we arrived at the men's mourning house, there was a sudden explosion and I felt pain in my chest. Very quickly after, there was a second strike. This second attack was more serious as people had rushed to the area to help the wounded. I looked up from the second shelling and saw that my cousins Arafat and Islam had been hit. They were lying on the ground, wounded."

Sixteen-year-old Islam Abd al-Dayem was struck in the neck and died slowly, in great agony, after three days in the hospital. Fifteen-year-old Arafat Abd al-Dayem died instantly.

When Nahez Abd al-Dayem regained consciousness in hospital, he learned of his two dead brothers and two dead cousins. The dart that lodged in his leg was surgically removed, but three darts remain in his chest and abdomen and will stay there, although Abd al-Dayem says they bother him. "When I move at night, I feel a lot of pain," he said. But an operation to search for them is too dangerous and could cause greater injury.

The dart shelling on the Abd al-Dayem and Abu Jerrad houses killed six and injured at least 25, including a 20-year-old nephew paralyzed from the neck down after darts severed his spinal cord. Darts which spread as far as 200 meters from the scene are still embedded in walls of houses.

Atalla Muhammad Abu Jerrad, 44 years old, explained, "I was near the mourning house, on my way to the market. I saw everything. My brother Otalla, 37, was in the area. He was injured by a nail that drilled through his shoulder, and lodged in his neck. He had to have an operation to remove it."

Sabah Abd al-Dayem said she finally understands the expression "burning with pain." "Every minute, every hour I think of them. My son didn't have time to enjoy married life. I wish I had died with them."

"In five or six months, you'll see the effects on her," Jamal Abd al-Dayem said of his wife. "She isn't eating, drinking, or sleeping. I've hidden all the photos of our sons and closed off [their] room." The photos he'd mentioned had been laid out on display. Pictures of their sons at different ages and stages of life. A photo of Said graduating from university.

Jamal Abd al-Dayem, tall, with a salt and pepper beard and hair, and deep smile wrinkles, is equally affected.

"Our lives have stopped. We don't go to any joyful places, don't do anything fun. We just mourn our sons and their lost lives. Our children are precious to us. We raised them and now they're gone. Said's wife has gone back to her parents' house. She can't bear it here. Now half of our household is gone. What have we done? What fault is it of ours? There was no need to target the mourning houses."

Their youngest daughter, 14-year-old Eyat, used to be at the top of her class, her parents said. Now, they said, she suffers at school, crying in class, thinking of two dead brothers. "She can't concentrate," Jamal Abd al-Dayem said. "Her brain is closed."

Aside from the memories of the day his sons were martyred, Jamal Abd al-Dayem has tangible reminders of their deaths. From a pink paper bag decorated with teddy bears and hearts he brought out a single flechette, one of the many he's kept from the thousands unleashed on his family and relatives.

Yet it is out of more than sentimentality that Abd al-Dayem has kept the darts. He wants justice.

"Our sons' lives are not cheap, can't just let them go like that. If they die a natural death, that's one thing. But like this? Where are our rights? We want a trial. What right [is there] to bomb a mourning house?"

Amnesty International and many other recognized rights organizations have long been critical of Israel's use of flechette bombs in the densely-populated Gaza Strip. The group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel says Israel's use of flechette bombs is in contravention to the Geneva conventions. B'Tselem, an Israeli rights group, reported that at least 17 Palestinians were killed by dart bombs from 2000 through the 18 April 2008 killing of a Palestinian cameraman and three other civilians, including two minors, by a flechette bomb in Gaza.

The attack raised renewed alarm among international rights groups about Israel's use of the indiscriminate and deadly dart bombs. Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said that the "use of flechette shells, with a wide 'kill radius,' increases the chance of indiscriminately hitting civilians," adding that Israel "should stop its use of the weapon in Gaza, which is one of the most densely populated areas on Earth."

Years before, HRW's Hanny Megally had noted Israel's usage of the darts in Gaza only, versus in the occupied West Bank where the illegal Israeli settlements and Israeli military bases are in many areas intertwined with Palestinian residential areas. Whereas using dart bombs in a Gaza district only puts Palestinians in neighboring areas at risk, the use of such flechettes would put many of the nearly 500,000 illegal Israeli settlers at risk of injury.

Despite Israeli officials' frequent justifications that the use of flechettes is permitted under international law, there are guidelines to this usage which the Israeli military continues to willfully ignore.

It is precisely the use of flechettes in densely populated areas which contravene the internationally-accepted principles of war: the inability of the dart bombs to distinguish between military targets and civilians; and the lack of precaution at avoiding civilian injury or death.

The two-inch-long scar on Rami al-Lohoh's right shoulder is his reminder of the painful dart which had penetrated deeply beneath the flesh of his shoulder area. The 11-year-old was too shy to speak of his injury, but obligingly pulled his shirt aside to reveal the scar. X-rays taken after the dart had embedded in al-Lohoh reveal the depth of its penetration.

"The doctors were afraid of this type of injury, so they hesitated before doing the operation to remove the dart," Rami's father Darwish al-Lohoh explained. After a 2.5 hour operation, the potentially deadly dart was removed.

Rami al-Lohoh shows the scar on his shoulder.
An X-ray of the dart lodged deep in Rami's shoulder.

Hossam al-Lohoh, Rami's 13-year-old brother, recalled in detail where the family was when he was hit by multiple flechette darts.

"We were walking near [our friend] Ayman's home. The Israelis fired a missile. When the missile hit the road it exploded and all the pieces inside spread widely. It felt like someone had thrown many, many stones at me. We looked for somewhere safe to run to for shelter. We ran into a small street. I felt a huge pain in my head and legs then I passed out." Hossam al-Lohoh, currently forced to limp, will need another operation six months later to repair the damaged nerves in his leg.

The 10-member al-Lohoh family, including eight youths, had taken refuge in the home of Ayman Qader, half a kilometer away, but had returned briefly to check on their home in Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza, on 13 January. Israeli tanks, which were stationed at the former Netzarim settlement, unleashed the flechette bomb as the family walked down Salah al-Din, the main north-south road. It was just after 3pm and the family was approximately 20 meters from the Qader home when the Israeli tanks shelled the group of civilians.

"The street was filled with darts," 25-year-old Amer al-Mesalha recalled. He was among the 13 persons injured by the darts, most of whom were attempting to take refuge in a UN school. Mesalha had darts surgically removed from his hand and leg but still has two remaining in his abdomen, the entry point his lower back near the spine. Like the other victims, Mesalha is forced to accept the darts' presence in his stomach. He said he has to be careful not to jump or move the metal bits inside him. Mesalha believes the Israeli soldiers knew who they were targeting. "The Israelis could see the group of people; they aimed at us."

All images by Eva Bartlett.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing. She is currently based in the Gaza Strip after having arrived with the third Free Gaza Movement boat in November. She has been working with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza, accompanying ambulances while witnessing and documenting the ongoing Israeli air strikes and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.


aldeias e os seus habitantes são empurradas para fora do seu vale


West Bank villagers pushed away from their valley
Dr. Marcy Newman, The Electronic Intifada, 17 March 2009

The village of Aqraba.

The West Bank village of Aqraba sits nested in the Jordan Valley, approximately 20 kilometers southeast of Nablus and around 50 kilometers east of Israel's wall that separates Palestinians in what is now considered Israel from those who reside in the West Bank. It is close enough to the Jordanian border that Palestinian cell phones roam here as if one were in Jordan.

There are 9,000 persons who live in this village, most of whom live on the top of the mountain, but these families have not always resided there. In 1968, shortly after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, when 400,000 Palestinians became refugees, many for the second time, hundreds of Palestinians from Aqraba fled to Jordan. Villagers fled upon hearing accounts of massacres in nearby villages, as happened in 1947-48, during which at least 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homeland in a period referred to as the Nakba, or catastrophe. Historically the families of this village farmed and worked as shepherds, using the land stretching all the way to the Jordan River. But since 1967, Israeli occupation forces have continuously pushed families up towards the valley, a good 20 to 30 kilometers away from lands that used to belong to them. At first this forced removal was because the land was confiscated for a military training area. Then in 1973, part of that land was converted into the colony of Gitit on the mountain above Aqraba's valley.

From the beginning the Israeli military and illegal settlers alike used force to make room for more colonies in the area. Abu al-Aez recalled his family's flight in 1974 from the valley to the center of Aqraba on the mountain after the occupying Israeli army launched a rocket that hit their home: "Thirty dunums of land were stolen from us and now the settlers plant grapes there."

According to official reports, last week the Israeli army issued orders to demolish six homes, their adjoining barns, one elementary school, and a mosque in the valley of Aqraba. However, families there say they suspect that up to 20 houses will be destroyed. On 26 March they are scheduled to have a hearing in an Israeli colonial court in Beit El, a settlement close to al-Bireh, to challenge this decision.

The roads leading down into the valley where the buildings slated for demolition lie are in Area C, while the part of the village on the mountain remains in Area B. Under the Oslo Accords the West Bank was divided into Areas A, B and C, referring to urban areas, built-up villages and rural areas respectively. Under this agreement the Palestinian Authority technically controls civilian life, including security; in contradistinction Area C is entirely controlled by Israeli occupation forces. One can tell the difference as one drives into the valley and the road changes from the paved road to a dirt road (though much of the paved road, like the electricity, was only installed two years ago). The Palestinian Authority exercises limited autonomy in Area B, while Area C -- comprising 59 percent of the West Bank -- is subjected to Israeli military administration. On one of the main dirt roads running through the agricultural land at the bottom of the valley -- a road that was created by the occupying Israeli army -- there are stones that have recently been marked with red spray paint. Villagers believe this indicates that their homes will be demolished in order to create a Jewish-only road connecting the surrounding, illegal Israeli colonies of Gitit, Itamar, Yitzhar and Hamra.

Like many villages in the West Bank surrounded by illegal Israeli colonies, the areas of Aqraba are invaded by Israeli forces daily and Israeli settlers regularly. Between 1975 and 1982 shepherds were regularly arrested by the Israeli army. Their sheep were confiscated while the shepherds were in prison and they were forced to pay 10 Jordanian dinars per sheep to get them back upon their release. Since the second Palestinian intifada broke out in September 2000, at least one shepherd per year has been murdered by Israeli settlers. Most famously, in September 2008, Yahia Ateya Fahmi Bani Maneya, an 18-year-old shepherd, was murdered by settlers. These daily threats since 1967 have meant that numerous families who own land in the valley for grazing their animals and growing food -- fava beans, lentils and wheat -- have sold their livestock and moved to the part of Aqraba at the top of the mountain. Those who have moved, but who have tried to continue to tend to their land, have been prevented from doing so by the Israeli army.

Driving into the valley, one notices that there are still shepherds out with their sheep grazing the land. The village itself is 250 years old, although all of the original homes are more than a hundred years old. As families have expanded they added onto the original structures, which they still use. The history of these families on the land can be traced as these homes are built next to the caves that their families inhabited with their sheep generations ago, prior to building homes. The elementary school and the mosque are newer, but these buildings, like the homes, are all slated for destruction in this latest episode of ethnic cleansing, which will affect the 200 people residing in this valley for generations. These are the remaining families who have not fled to Jordan nor to the center of Aqraba.

Two young girls, Lubna and Maram, of the Anas family.

Every family in Aqraba has a similar story to tell: of relatives fleeing in 1967 to Jordan, of relatives fleeing to Aqraba's center and leaving their agrarian way of life, of the looming dispossession. Like many of the families from Aqraba, Fatima and Maher Anas trace their families back for generations and their migration from cave to home, part of which was built more than 200 years ago. Like many other families, much of their livelihood has been destroyed by Israeli army bulldozers that destroyed all of their wheat last year. Many of their relatives fled to Zarqa refugee camp in Jordan, joining the fate of other Aqraba families.

Reflecting on what will happen if the remaining part of her family is turned into internally displaced refugees, Fatima explained, "If they destroy our houses they will destroy our crops and our ability to make food. If we cannot plant food any longer, what will happen to our livelihood?"

Fatima's brother, Yusef, has already faced this fate. Across the way from the mosque scheduled to be demolished is the foundation is Yusef Nasrallah's home. He started building it last year only to be ordered to stop by the Israeli army. Like many before him, Yusef sold his sheep and moved to Aqraba's center where he has been unable to find work.

To be sure, this latest phase in the ethnic cleansing of Aqraba is not unique to the West Bank nor to the part of historic Palestine that is now considered Israel. This week saw the destruction of two Palestinian homes and 100 olive trees in the Negev town of Beer Seba, now given the Hebraized name of Beersheva. In the West Bank, from Qalqiliya to Hebron to East Jerusalem, families await the status of the orders for their homes to be demolished. But while there is a great deal of attention paid to the impending destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, there is little if any media attention or support for families in small villages like Aqraba. In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Palestinians flock to the demonstration tent set up to show solidarity, but there has been no such solidarity presence in Aqraba. Israel's colonial divide-and-rule policy continues to fragment the people in ways that separate them physically by its system of checkpoints and permits. But this is not about the occupation of the West Bank. Indeed, these same methods were used to confiscate large land tracts during the 1948 catastrophe. It is an ongoing Nakba that requires learning the lessons of history by not submitting to the divisions imposed by the colonial regime.

All images by Dr. Marcy Newman.

Dr. Marcy Newman is Associate Professor of English at An Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine. Her writing may be found at
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