Archive for category Israel

Hunger and Trauma in Gaza: a nation being strangled before our eyes

A frightened mother and children in Gaza.

A frightened mother and children in Gaza.

TRAUMA IN GAZA:

Over 40 years of Israeli military occupation have had a devastating effect on Gaza; airstrikes, artillery shelling, ground invasions, jet flybys and their sonic booms have all led to an epidemic of suffering among Gaza’s most vulnerable inhabitants.

Dr. Evan Kanter, UW school of medicine professor and the current president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, cited studies that revealed 62 % of Gaza’s inhabitants reported having a family member injured or killed, 67% saw injured or dead strangers and 83% had witnessed shootings.

In a study of high school aged children from southern refugee camps in Rafah and Kahn Younis, 69% of the children showed symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), 40% showed signs of moderate or severe depression, and a whopping 95% exhibited severe anxiety…

HUNGER IN GAZA:

The U.N. reports that four out of five Gazans are dependent on international aid for food. The three-year Israeli blockade of Gaza has resulted in desperate shortages of food, medical supplies and fuel. Malnutrition is common, especially among children.

The amount of aid allowed through by Israel is vastly insufficient to meet the need of the people. The United Nations has continuously stated that only a fraction of the required aid is entering Gaza due to what it calls ‘the medieval siege’.

We are looking at an entire nation of people slowly being strangled and starved to death before the eyes of the world.

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Update: Petition against Israeli attack on aid ships

From SuhaibWebb.com:

While Israel maintains that it has disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, its attack on defenseless civilians in international water attests to Israel’s continued occupation of Gaza.

Further, Israel has exposed its commitment, or lack thereof, of peace and a viable solution for the Palestinian people. Too long have we placed faith in this elusive peace process which promises justice for the Palestinians.

It is time that our elected officials condemn this Gaza flotilla massacre, but withhold all military financing of Israel until Israel actually shows a commitment to non-violence and peace.

Take action and make your voices heard:

1. Sign the Petition: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Gaza2010/petition.html

2. Tell your family and friends to Sign the Petition

3. Contact President Barack Obama directly
Call: 202-456-1111
Email: www.whitehouse.gov/contact

4. Your local elected representatives
House: https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

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MuslimMatters.com has published a piece dispelling the disinformation that the Israeli PR machine is busy pumping out. See it here:

Gaza Freedom Flotilla Killings: FACT CHECK (Dispelling Myths as Israeli PR Moves into Full Swing)

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Criminal attack on Gaza aid fleet; and a bit of good news from China

Freedom Flotilla aid ship

Freedom Flotilla aid ship before Israeli attack

The attack by the Israelis on a flotilla of ships bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza is outrageous. The six Freedom Flotilla ships were in international waters, had cleared customs in four different nations, and were on a peaceful mission to bring desperately needed food and medical aid to the Gaza Palestinians, who have suffered under an Israeli blockade for three years now.

The casualty count is at least 20 civilian deaths and 50 injuries. Furthermore, the Israelis have arrested and incarcerated an unknown number of aid activists, taking them to a jail in the southern Israeli desert.

Reports indicate that the Israeli commandos came on board and opened fire. The aid activists attempted to defend themselves with wooden sticks. Reports by the Israelis that some of the aid activists had knives or rods, or even guns, have been flatly contradicted by observers on board the ships, and by the Israeli commando videos themselves.

International Responses:

Various international leaders have condemned the violence.

The Turkish Prime Minister described it as an act of state terror.

U.N. General Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he was “shocked” and demanded a full investigation.

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said, “The German government is shocked by events in the international waters by Gaza…”.

Greek deputy foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said, “There is no excuse. The level of violence cannot be excused … we condemn it and this is exactly the message I conveyed this morning to the Israeli ambassador.

Uri Avnery, an Israeli journalist, wrote: “This night a crime was perpetrated in the middle of the sea, by order of the government of Israel and the IDF Command A warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and humanitarian aid activists It is a crazy thing that only a government that crossed all red lines can do.” (Gush Shalom)

And Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg made the most important point of all: “This underlines that the blockade of Gaza should be ended as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg told reporters. “This type of military action is unacceptable. The shootings must be investigated and documented. It is clear that this is a use of force against civilians.”

Even if the Israelis had not intended to allow the Freedom Flotilla to dock, they could have found other ways of stopping it. They could have entangled the propellers (as has been previously done in similar operations), or surrounded and blockaded the fleet. These would still have been criminal actions, but that has never stopped Israel in the past, and at least there would have been no loss of life.

This action by Israel is a crime, plain and simple. Those who sanctioned it and those who perpetrated it have committed murder on the high seas.

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Inmates in a Chinese jail

Inmates in a Chinese jail

China Declares that Evidence Obtained by Torture is Inadmissible

Now, for a bit of good news. The Chinese government has declared that confessions obtained by means of torture can no longer be used in Chinese courts to prove guilt. This came about as a result of the case of Zhao Zuohai, who spent 11 years in jail for a murder that never happened. He says he was beaten by police until he confessed. Eleven years later, his “victim” was found to be still living. The Chinese government freed Zhao and paid him $96,000 in compensation. Two of the policemen who beat him have been arrested.

In fact laws banning torture are already in place in China, but are widely disregarded by the authorities. Convictions in Chinese courts depend heavily on confessions rather than the investigation and evidence-based systems found in the West, so Chinese police feel pressure to beat suspects into confessing.

I’m not naive enough to think that this will end torture in China, or will instantly end the routine beating of suspects. Nor does it ameliorate China’s abominable human rights record, with its oppression of human rights activists, use of secret prisons, and suppression of ethnic minorities.

But simply acknowledging the existence of one serious problem and declaring it to be unacceptable is a significant step in the right direction.

“Big Progress”

The Chinese government issued two new sets of procedures in the use of evidence – the first covers cases subject to the death penalty, and the second rules on evidence obtained under duress in all criminal cases.

For people appealing against the death penalty, testimony given under duress and evidence from unnamed sources is now to be excluded.

Death-penalty defendants have also been given the right to ask for an investigation into whether their testimony was obtained illegally.

Legal expert Zhao Bingzhi told the state-run China Daily that it was the first time a “systematic and clear regulation” had been given on the issue.

“Previously we could only infer from abstract laws that illegal evidence is not allowed. But in reality, in many cases, such evidence was considered valid,” he said. “This is big progress, both for the legal system and for better protection of human rights. It will help reduce the number of executions.”

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BBC poll: World against torture, Israel in favor

An Israeli defense forces soldier points his gun at a Palestinian boy. Beatings, torture and illegal killings by the IDF are commonplace.

An Israeli defense forces soldier points his gun at a Palestinian boy. Beatings, torture and illegal killings by the IDF are commonplace.

Poll of 25 countries reveals that the majority of world’s population opposes torturing prisoners suspected of terror involvement. In Israel, over half of Jewish population supports using torture to get information from terrorists, while most Muslims oppose it.

Reprinted from Ynet, Published: 10.19.06

Nearly a third of people worldwide support the use of torture against terror suspects in some circumstances, a BBC survey suggests.

Over 27,000 people in 25 countries, including Israel, were asked if torture was acceptable if it could provide information to save innocent lives. Fifty-nine percent were opposed to torture, 29 percent replied it an acceptable means to combat terrorism.

Respondents were asked which position was closer to their own views:

a) Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights standards against torture.

b) Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should now be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives.

During a press conference held by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, actors demonstrate the Israeli Shin Bet torture method known as "Banana b'kiseh," where a detainee with hands and feet cuffed is painfully stretched, in the shape of a banana, over a chair by his jailer.

During a press conference held by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, actors demonstrate the Israeli Shin Bet torture method known as "Banana b'kiseh," where a detainee with hands and feet cuffed is painfully stretched, in the shape of a banana, over a chair by his jailer.

In Israel a majority of Jewish respondents in Israel, 53 percent, agreed that the governments should be allowed to use some degree of torture to obtain information from terror suspects, while 39 percent were completely opposed and wanted clear rules against it. However the Muslim population in Israel polled overwhelmingly against any use of torture.

58 percent against torture in US

And what do countries who have suffered terror attacks think? In the United States 58 percent oppose torture, 36 percent are in favor and 6 percent haven’t made up their minds yet.

In Britain, where a large scale terror plot was recently thwarted, 72 percent are against retrieving information from terror suspects through torture while 24 percent are in favor. Similar figures were apparent in Spain, where 65 percent oppose terror and only 16 percent condone it.

The poll was also conducted in Muslim countries. In Iraq, which suffers daily terror attacks, 42 percent are in favor of torturing terror suspects, 55 percent are against it. In Egypt the figure drops to 25 percent in favor and 62 percent against. The rest are undecided.

In three other countries, besides Israel, less than half the population polled against torturing terror suspects. In China – 49 percent were against and 37 percent were in favor.

In Russia, 43 percent polled against and 37 percent were in favor. In India, which has also suffered from terror attacks the data is intriguing – 23 percent are against torture and 23 percent are in favor of the tactic. The remaining 45 percent have yet to make up their minds.

Editor’s Note: there is no shortage of graphic photos of actual torture committed by Israeli defense forces and secret police, but I chose not to publish them there. I do think that such images should be published, but the reader should be warned first and given the option not to view them.

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