MISREMBERING ARIEL SHARON

Winging his way to the depths of hell …

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It is just over a week since the earthly remains of this most despicable being were handed over to the worms to devour. There is no doubt that his satanic soul is now burning with the others who dedicated their lives to the destruction of humanity.

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Below are two not-so fond misrememberances by others who share my disdain for the ‘Butcher of Beirut’.

MAY HE ROT IN HELL FOR ETERNITY!

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Uri Avnery        

 

                                                The Imperator

 

IN THE middle of the 70s, Ariel Sharon asked me to arrange something for him – a meeting with Yasser Arafat. 

A few days before, the Israeli media had discovered that I was in regular contact with the leadership of the PLO, which was listed at the time as a terrorist organization. 

I told Sharon that my PLO contacts would probably ask what he intended to propose to the Palestinians. He told me that his plan was to help the Palestinians to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy, and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state, with Arafat as its president. 

What about the West Bank?” I asked. 

Once Jordan becomes Palestine, there will no longer be a conflict between two peoples, but between two states. That will be much easier to resolve. We shall find some form of partition, territorial or functional, or we shall rule the territory together.”  

My friends submitted the request to Arafat, who laughed it off. But he did not miss the opportunity to tell King Hussein about it. Hussein disclosed the story to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Alrai, and that’s how it came back to me. 

SHARON’S PLAN was revolutionary at the time. Almost the entire Israeli establishment – including Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres – believed in the so-called “Jordanian option”: the idea that we must make peace with King Hussein. The Palestinians were either ignored or considered arch-enemies, or both. 

Five years earlier, when the Palestinians in Jordan were battling the Hashemite regime there, Israel came to the aid of the king at the request of Henry Kissinger. I proposed the opposite in my magazine: to aid the Palestinians. Sharon later told me that he, a general at the time, had asked the General Staff to do the same, though for a different end. My idea was to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, his was to create it in the East Bank. 

(The idea of turning Jordan into Palestine has a generally unknown linguistic background. In Hebrew usage, “Eretz Israel” is the land on both sides of the Jordan River, where the ancient Hebrew tribes settled according to the Biblical myth. In Palestinian usage, “Filastin” is only the land on the West side of the river. Therefore is quite natural for ignorant Israelis to ask the Palestinians to set up their state beyond the Jordan. For Palestinians, that means setting up their state abroad.) 

AT THE time, Sharon was in political exile. 

In 1973 he left the army, after realizing that he had no chance of becoming Chief of Staff. This may seem odd, since he was already recognized as an outstanding battlefield commander. The trouble was that he was also known as an insubordinate officer, who despised his superiors and his peers (as well as everybody else.) Also, his relationship with the truth was problematical. David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary that Sharon could be an exemplary military officer, if only he could abstain from lying. 

When he left the army, Sharon almost single-handedly created the Likud by unifying all the right-wing parties. That’s when I chose him the first time as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year and wrote a large biographical article about him. A few days later, the Yom Kippur War broke out, and Sharon was drafted back into the army. His part in it is considered by many as pure genius, by others as a story of insubordination and luck. A photo of him with his head bandaged became his trademark, though it was only a slight wound caused by hitting his head on his command vehicle. (To be fair, he was really wounded in battle, like me, in 1948.) 

After the Yom Kippur war, the argument about his part in that war became the center of “the battle of the generals”. He started to visit me at my home to explain his moves, and we became quite friendly. 

He left the Likud when he realized that he could not become its leader as long as Menachem Begin was around. He started to chart his own course. That’s when he asked for the meeting with Arafat. 

He was thinking about creating a new party, neither right nor left, but led by him and “outstanding personalities” from all over the political landscape. He invited me to join, and we had long conversations at his home. 

I must explain here that for a long time I had been looking for a person with military credentials to lead a large united peace camp. A leader with such a background would make it much easier for us to gain public support for our aims. Sharon fitted the recipe. (As Yitzhak Rabin did later.) Yet during our conversations it became clear to me that he had basically remained a right-winger. 

In the end Sharon set up a new party called Shlomtzion (“Peace of Zion”), which was a dismal failure on election day. The next day, he rejoined the Likud. 

The Likud had won the elections and Begin became Prime Minister. If Sharon had hoped to be appointed Minister of Defense, he was soon disabused. Begin did not trust him. Sharon looked like a general who might organize a coup. The powerful new Finance Minister said that if Sharon became commander-in-chief, he would “send his tanks to surround the Knesset.” 

(There was a joke making the rounds at the time:  Defense Minister Sharon would call for a meeting of the General Staff and announce: “Comrades, tomorrow morning at 06.00 we take over the government!” For a moment the audience was dumfounded, and then it broke out into riotous laughter.) 

However, when Begin’s preferred Defense Minister, the former Air Force chief Ezer Weizman, resigned, Begin was compelled to appoint Sharon as his successor. For the second time I chose Sharon as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year. He took this very seriously and sat with me for many hours, in several meetings at his home and office, in order to explain his ideas. 

One of them, which he expounded at the same time to the US strategic planners, was to conquer Iran. When Ayatollah Khomeini dies, he said, there will begin a race between the Soviet Union and the US to determine who will arrive first on the scene and take over. The US is far away, but Israel can do the job. With the help of heavy arms that the US will store in Israel well before, our army will be in full possession before the Soviets move. He showed me the detailed maps of the advance, hour by hour and day by day. 

This was typical Sharon, His vision was wide and all-embracing. His listener was left breathless, comparing him to the ordinary little politicians, devoid of vision and breadth. But his ideas were generally based on abysmal ignorance of the other side, and therefore came to naught. 

AT THE same time, nine months before the Lebanon War, he disclosed to me his Grand Plan for a new Middle East of his making. He allowed me to publish it, provided I did not mention him as the source. He trusted me. 

Basically it was the same as the one he wanted to propose to Arafat. 

The army would invade Lebanon and drive the Palestinians from there to Syria, from whence the Syrians would drive them into Jordan. There the Palestinians would overthrow the king and establish the State of Palestine. 

The army would also drive the Syrians out of Lebanon. In Lebanon Sharon would choose a Christian officer and install him as dictator. Lebanon would make official peace with Israel and in effect become a vassal state. 

I duly published all this, and nine months later Sharon invaded Lebanon, after lying to Begin and the cabinet about his aims. But the war was a catastrophe, both militarily and politically. 

Militarily it was a demonstration of “the Peter principle” – the brilliant battle commander was a miserable strategist. No unit of the Israeli army reached its objective on time, if at all. The Israeli-installed dictator, Bachir Gemayel, was assassinated. His brother and successor signed a peace treaty with Israel, which has been completely forgotten by now. The Syrians remained in Lebanon for many years to come. The Israeli army extricated itself after a guerrilla war that lasted 18 full years, during which the despised and downtrodden Shiites in Israeli-occupied South Lebanon became the dominant political force in the country. 

And, worst of all, in order to induce the Palestinians to flee, Sharon let the barbarous Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila, where they committed a terrible massacre. Hundreds of thousands of outraged Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, and Sharon was dismissed from the defense ministry. 

At the height of the Battle of Beirut I crossed the lines and met with Yasser Arafat, who had become Sharon’s Nemesis. Since then, Sharon and I did not exchange a single word, not even greeting each other. 

IT LOOKED like the end of Sharon’s career. But for Sharon, every end was a new beginning. 

One of his media vassals, Uri Dan (who had started his career in Haolam Hazeh) once coined a prophetic phrase: “Those who don’t want him as Chief of Staff, will get him as Minister of Defense. Those who don’t want him as Minister of Defense, will get him as Prime Minister.” Today one could add: “Those who did not want him as Prime Minister, are getting him as a national icon.”   

An ex-general, Yitzhak Ben-Israel, told me yesterday: “He was an Imperator!” I find this a very apt description. 

Like a Roman imperator, Sharon was a supreme being, admired and feared, generous and cruel, genial and treacherous, hedonistic and corrupt, a victorious general and a war criminal, quick to make decisions and unwavering once he had made them, overcoming all obstacles by sheer force of personality. 

One could not meet him without being struck by the sense of power he emanated. Power was his element. 

He believed that destiny had chosen him to lead Israel. He did not think so – he knew. For him, his personal career and the fate of Israel were one and the same. Therefore, anyone who tried to block him was a traitor to Israel. He despised everyone around him – from Begin down to the last politician and general. 

His character was formed in his early childhood in Kfar Malal, a communal village which belonged to the Labor party. His mother, Vera, managed the family farm with an iron will, quarreling with all the neighbors, the village institutions and the party. When little Arik was injured in a fall on a pitchfork, she did not take him to the village clinic, which she hated, but put him on a donkey and led him for several kilometers to a doctor in Kfar Saba. 

When rumor had it that the Arabs in neighboring villages were planning an attack, little Arik was hidden in a haystack. 

Later in life, when his mother (who still managed the farm) visited his new ranch and saw a low wall with holes for irrigation, she exclaimed: “Ah, you have embrasures! Very good, you can shoot through them at the Arabs!” 

How could a poor army officer acquire the largest ranch in the country? Simple: he got it as a gift from an Israeli-American billionaire, with the help of the finance minister. Several dubious large deals with other billionaires followed. 

SHARON WAS the most typical Israeli one could imagine, embodying the saying (to which I modestly claim authorship): “If force does not work, try more force.” 

I was therefore very surprised when he came out in favor of the law dispensing with the military service of tens of thousands of orthodox youngsters. “How can you?” I asked him. His answer: “I am first of all a Jew, and only after that an Israeli!” I told him that for me it was the other way round. 

Ideologically, he was the pupil and successor of David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, leaders who believed in military force and in expanding the territory of Israel without limit. His military career started for real in the 1950s when Moshe Dayan put him in charge of an unofficial outfit called Unit 101, which was sent across the border to kill and destroy, in retaliation for similar actions committed by Arabs. His most famous exploit was the massacre of Qibya village in 1953, when 49 innocent villagers were buried under the houses which he blew up. 

Later, when requested to put an end to “terrorism” in Gaza, he killed every Arab who was caught with arms. When I later asked him about killing prisoners, he answered: “I did not kill prisoners. I did not take prisoners!” 

At the beginning of his career as commander he was a bad general. But from war to war he improved. Unusual for a general, he learned from his mistakes. In the 1973 war he was already considered the equal of Erwin Rommel and George Patton. It also became known that between the battles he gorged himself on seafood, which is not kosher. 

THE MAIN endeavor of his life was the settlement enterprise. As army officer, politician and successively chief of half a dozen different ministries, his central effort was always to plan and set up settlements in the occupied territories. 

He did not care whether they were legal or illegal under Israeli law (all of them, of course, are illegal under international law, for which he did not give a damn). 

He planned their location, with the aim of cutting the West Bank into ribbons which would make a Palestinian state impossible. Then he rammed it through the cabinet and the ministries. Not for nothing was he nicknamed “the Bulldozer”. 

The “Israel Defense Army” (its official Hebrew name) turned into the “Settlers Defense Army”, sinking slowly in the morass of the occupation. 

However, when settlements obstructed his plans, he had no compunction about destroying them. When he was in favor of peace with Egypt, in order to concentrate on the war with the Palestinians, he destroyed the entire town of Yamit in North Sinai and the adjacent settlements. Later he did the same to the settlements in the Gaza Strip, attracting the enduring hatred of the settlers, his erstwhile proteges. He acted like a general who is ready to sacrifice a brigade to improve his overall strategic position.  

WHEN HE died last week, after lying in a coma for eight years, he was eulogized by the very people he despised, and turned into a shallow folk hero. The Ministry of Education compared him to Moses. 

In real life he was a very complex person, as complex as Israel. His personal history is interwoven with the history of Israel. 

His main legacy was catastrophic: the scores of settlements which he implanted all over the West Bank – each of them a landmine which will have to be removed at great risk when the time comes.

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The Whitewashing of Ariel Sharon

By Yousef  (From)

It was inevitable, I suppose. The legacy of Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli Prime Minister who died recently after years in a coma, was the subject of much debate and conversation in the Israel/Palestine discourse this week. Some mainstream American media outlets did a particularly poor job, however, in characterizing the life of the man.

My thoughts on Ariel Sharon, for those who might not have already guessed, are here. It is fair to say that in general, Palestinians view Ariel Sharon negatively and, frankly, as a war criminal. But it would be unfair to say that only Palestinians view him in this way, as if Ariel Sharon’s legacy was just some other endless point of debate between irreconcilable Israeli and Palestinian narratives. In fact, anyone characterizing points of debate in this way is probably just to afraid to take an objective stance.

In reality, those authoring critical pieces of Sharon’s legacy have come from a variety of different backgrounds. The New Yorker carried a post by Raja Shahada and another byBernard Avishai. Max Blumenthal’s piece in the Nation was also stellar, as was Rashid Khalidi’s piece for Foreign Policy and Daniel Levy’s piece for Al Jazeera America. Sara Leah Whitson fromHuman Rights Watch made an important contribution as well. There were many more that got it right. The bottom line is Sharon was responsible for some pretty heinous things in his life that included massacres of civilians and the massacre of the peace process through settlement expansion.

Unfortunately, many others failed to get the story right and among them are some of the most mainstream outlets for what is considered serious conversation in the United States. Two particularly egregious examples are The New York Times and The Charlie Rose Show.

The New York Times ran an obituary on Ariel Sharon and a number of opinion pieces all by Israelis (as of now I am not aware that they have run a Palestinian voice on Sharon). Here are a few key gems from the obituary and some notes:

“he stunned Israel and the world in 2005 with a Nixon-to-China reversal and withdrew all Israeli settlers and troops from Gaza. He then abandoned his Likud Party and formed a centrist movement called Kadima focused on further territorial withdrawal and a Palestinian state next door.”

The problem with this narrative is that there is no objective evidence proving that Sharon’s intention with the unilateral disengagement of Gaza was benevolent. We do however, thanks to the very same New York Times, have this tidbit that Mr. Bronner chose not to include in his obituary from Mr. Sharon’s key aide:

”The significance of our disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” Mr. Weisglass was quoted as saying in Haaretz, a liberal daily often critical of Mr. Sharon’s government. ”It supplies the formaldehyde necessary so there is no political process with Palestinians.”

 ”When you freeze the process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Mr. Weisglass added. ”Effectively, this whole package called a Palestinian state, with all it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.”

Why wouldn’t Bronner include that? Also, there is that other inconvenient truth for Bronner’s narrative. Sharon was perhaps the most pro-colonization Israeli leader ever. I am not only talking about the 1970s and 1980s but all the way through Sharon’s premiership. He presided over the single largest period of expansion in the Israeli settler population, some 75,000, since the Menachem Begin era. That bit of info also didn’t make it into Bronner’s obit. Of course, if it did, it would be hard to reconcile with the unsubstantiated claim that Sharon intended to leave the West Bank to create a Palestinian state.  It gets worse in the obit (emphasis added):

 “The massacre provoked international outrage, and many Israelis, already despondent that the “48-hour” Lebanon incursion had turned into a lengthy military and geopolitical adventure, were outraged. There were furious calls for Mr. Sharon’s resignation.

Mr. Sharon and Mr. Begin said this was intolerable slander. As Mr. Begin said, using the Hebrew word for non-Jews, “Goyim kill goyim, and they blame the Jews.” Nonetheless, even Mr. Begin started to distance himself from Mr. Sharon, whose political demise began to seem inevitable.

The government established an official investigation of the massacre, led by Israel’s chief justice, Yitzhak Kahan. The investigating committee absolved Mr. Sharon of direct responsibility, but said he should have anticipated that sending enraged militiamen of the Phalange into Palestinian neighborhoods right after the assassination of the group’s leader amounted to an invitation to carnage. The committee recommended his resignation.

Time magazine reported that Mr. Sharon had actually urged the Gemayel family to have its troops take revenge on the Palestinians for the death of Mr. Gemayel. The magazine said Mr. Sharon made this point during his condolence visit to the family. It claimed further that a secret appendix to the Kahan Commission report made this clear.

Mr. Sharon sued Time for libel and won a partial victory in Federal District Court in New York. The court found that the secret appendix, which contained names of Israeli intelligence officers, included no assertion by Mr. Sharon of the need for Phalangist revenge. But it ruled that Mr. Sharon had not been libeled because he could not prove “malice” on the magazine’s part.”

Bronner tells us about Sabra and Shatila toward the very end of a 4,000+ word piece. He presents it in a way where the facts, and Sharon’s role in the events are disputed. He sets up a dichotomy between an official Israeli Government investigation and a US libel lawsuit, as if those two could ever be on equal standing as authorities on actions taken by the Israeli military. He also says that “the investigating committee absolved Mr. Sharon of direct responsibility”, which is very odd since the actual committee’s report says (emphasis added):

We have found, as has been detailed in this report, that the Minister of Defense [Sharon] bears personal responsibility. In our opinion, it is fitting that the Minister of Defense draw the appropriate personal conclusions arising out of the defects revealed with regard to the manner in which he discharged the duties of his office – and if necessary, that the Prime Minister consider whether he should exercise his authority under Section 21-A(a) of the Basic Law: the Government, according to which “the Prime Minister may, after informing the Cabinet of his intention to do so, remove a minister from office.

Why does Bronner tell us that the committee report says one thing when it fact it said the opposite? The entire treatment of Ariel Sharon’s history of war crimes in his obituary in theNew York Times is poorly done, to say the least, and there are several signs suggesting that the reporter intentionally downplays Sharon’s war crimes.

It is important to remember that many questions have been raised about Bronner’s objectivity, in part because his son was serving in the Israeli military as he was reporting about it. That and the public editor of the New York Times saw fit to argue that this conflict of interest should have led editors to take Bronner off the Israel beat. Why editors today saw fit to have him write the obituary is another question all together.

Still another question is what is going through the minds of the bookers and producers at the Charlie Rose show when they were putting together their “appreciation of Ariel Sharon“? Of course, who does Charlie Rose have on to discuss Sharon’s legacy? Ethan Bronner. Who else? Jeffrey Goldberg, the journalist who left for Israel after college in the US to volunteer in the Israeli military as a prison guard during the first intifada.

Is there no one out there without connections to the Israeli military, the very same military that Ariel Sharon committed war crimes while working for, that can objectively discuss the man’s legacy? ANYONE?

The discussion that ensues is everything you’d expect and less. Our helpful interns havetranscribed the segment from last night.

Goldberg calls Sharon “Israel’s greatest warrior hero” , “the sort of tank commander that any Prime Minister would want to have in his corner at a really stressful moment”, “the greatest reckless general Israel had” , “the boldest” , “he was all energy and that energy was always moved forward” , “he wanted to make sure that you were comfortable, that you were happy” . Then, and this is the kicker,in the rare moment of describing Sharon’s barbarism, Goldberg descends into some orientalist drivel. “Ariel Sharon was very Middle Eastern” Goldberg said as he likened the trait of ruthlessness to region, “and I don’t mean that in sort of an enlightened way. “

Yeah, no kidding.

Bronner, for his part, calls Sharon “ruthlessly pragmatic” , “Charming certainly, but a difficult guy who wanted to do it his way” and “a funny guy”.

Funny? I’m sure the victims at Sabra and Shatila didn’t find him funny. Of course Sabra and Shatila was not mentioned at all in the discussion around Charlie Rose’s table. And, even though Bronner mentioned Sharon’s involvement in the Commando Unit 101, whose members he described as “very bright, very capable young people doing these very daring acts” , he never mentions Sharon’s likely earliest war crime as a leader of that unit, the massacre at Qibya. After the Goldberg & Bronner Sharon love fest, the rest of the show featured old interviews with Sharon himself.

What kind of war criminals get this lionizing treatment? The kind, it seems, that get away with it.

YARMOUK REVISITED ~~ SHARON’S LEGACY DID NOT END WITH HIS COMA OR HIS DEATH

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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This is the first anniversary of the Yarmouk massacre …. the original report is below.
Ariel Sharon’s legacy did not end with his coma or his death …
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At least 21 killed in shelling on Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria: NGO

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011, according to the Observatory. (Reuters)

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011, according to the Observatory. (Reuters)
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At least 21 civilians have been killed on Friday in shelling by the Syrian regime forces on the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

“The number of people killed by the mortar attack on the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp has risen to 21, two of those killed were children. four bodies remain unidentified,” the watchdog reported.

 

The watchdog said the mortar shells slammed into the camp, on the southern outskirts of Damascus, on Thursday night, as President Bashar al-Assad’s regime pressed its bid to crush an uprising that erupted almost 17 months ago.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the shelling occurred as clashes flared between government troops and opposition fighters in the nearby Damascus neighborhood of Tadamun.

 

“We demand an international investigation. We do not know the origin of the shelling,” Abdel Rahman told AFP in Beirut on the telephone.

The Observatory also reported heavy shelling overnight around Houla, a town in the central province of Homs where at least 108 people were massacred at the end of May, triggering international outrage.

In the town of Hama, more than 60 people have been killed in what activists described as a new massacre, the Syrian Coordination Committees.

Abu al-Qassim, of the Union of Hama revolutionaries, said the victims included dozens of children, women and members of the opposition Free Army.

“From Yesterday today, more than 60 people have been killed in a real massacre. The city is a ghost town,” he told Al Arabiya by phone.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the anti-Assad revolt began in March 2011, according to the Observatory. There is no way to independently verify this figure, while the UN has stopped keeping count.

The Observatory also reported that the Salaheddin neighborhood of Aleppo was bombarded on Friday morning, with clashes continuing in the Zebdiya neighborhood.

A SURVIVOR OF SHARON’S MASSACRE SPEAKS

“Children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles.”

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Sabra and Shatila

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How butcher Sharon massacred my relatives  

By Jamal Kanj

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My friend and I were on a cross-country flight from San Diego to Washington, DC on Saturday 18 September 1982.

We arrived at our friend’s home with gleaming smiles, but were received with dejected expressions.

“Haven’t you heard the news?” they asked. “What news?” we replied.

“The massacre of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in and around Sabra and Shatila camps,” was their wretched response.

Needless to say, we were glued to the TV, listening to trickling reports from inside the camps and watching bloated bodies of women and children paraded on TV screens.

Starting at 6pm on 16 September until 8am on 18 September, the Israeli-armed-Lebanese Phalange militia went on a killing spree while the Israeli army besieged the camps – stopping anyone from fleeing the massacre.

American reporter Janet Lee Stevens, who was one of the first foreign journalists to enter the camps, described the scene.

“Children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles,” she documented.

I didn’t realize at the time that my cousin Saleh and his children were among those murdered in the 36-hour killing orgy.

A 1983 United Nations team investigating the massacre concluded that “Israel bore responsibility” for the killing of civilians.

In the same year, Israel’s own Kahane Commission reached a similar conclusion, accusing Ariel Sharon of bearing “personal responsibility” for the slaughtering of women and children.

Despite being held accountable for killing more than 3,000 civilians, Sharon refused to resign his Defence Minister post and his patron, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, snubbed requests to fire him.

Following strong pressure from the international community and violent civilian protests in the streets of Tel Aviv, Sharon finally agreed to quit the military post, but was retained in the cabinet as a minister without portfolio.

Less than two decades after the massacre, the former Ariel Scheinerman – born to a Belarusian couple before changing his family name to Sharon – was elected to Israel’s highest office, serving as prime minister from 2001 until he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2006 which rendered him comatose.

He followed in the footsteps of two other Israelis: Yitzhak Shamir and Begin, who decorated Britain’s most wanted terrorist list in the 1940s.

They too were recognized for their murderous contributions to Zionism, reaching the highest political office in the Israeli government.

The Sabra and Shatilla massacre was just one of Sharon’s terrorist achievements on behalf of the state of Israel. He first gained notoriety in the 1950s, serving as a leader in the special, brutal Israeli army Unit 101.

Sharon’s first decorated massacre was in the autumn of 1953 when his unit attacked the village of Qibya and dynamited houses, killing 69 civilians, including children, sleeping peacefully in their homes.

While human rights organizations, along with relatives of murdered civilians, lament Sharon’s escape from justice on earth, morally corrupt leaders of so-called world democracies are absurdly calling this same person – who massacred women and children – a “man of peace”.

In memory of my cousin Saleh and for all those people he [Sharon] massacred throughout his murderous career, I will forever remember Sharon as a decorated butcher.

 

Source

 

PUTTING LATUFF’S WORK TO MUSIC ~~ ‘I DID IT MY WAY’

Sharon before and after the Whitewash

46861-arielsharon_latuff_2014_whitewashing-ariel-sharon2

In honour of Sharon – My Way – time to face the final version

My Way has had several versions performed.  Of course it was sung by its author, Paul Anka.  Frank Sinatra made it famous.  Elvis gave it a whirl at Vegas.  And I remember Sid Vicious getting a hat tip from the New Musical Express for treating the song with the contempt it deserved for being such self-indulgent tosh.  The homophobia of that last example seemed to slip below the NME‘s radar back then.Anyway, years ago, back in the day when Ariel Sharon slipped into a coma and the end seemed near, Deborah Maccoby, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians notoriety, wrote this version of My Way:

MY WAY: ARIEL SHARON 

And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain 
I wrecked the hope for peace – I did it all in such a sly way,
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Regrets –  I wish I’d killed old Arafat back in the ’80s;
I wish that Israel filled right from the Nile to the Euphrates -
But I built settlements and an apartheid settler highway,
And more, much more than this, I did it my way. 

Yes the were times, I’m sure you knew,
When I bit off more than I could chew.
And yet, from Gaza, I’d no doubt
That I would get the settlers out!
I built a Wall- and best of all, I did it my way!

I knew I would go far in my career as a mass killer.
I started with Qibya, went on to Sabra and Shatila.
But I’ve made them believe I’m in the middle of the highway!
Likud I left for good – I did it my way!

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has not
To dare to murder and to lie
And not to care how many die;
The record stands, I took their lands
And did it my way!

 
Whatever happens, those of us who expected a whitewash got precisely what we expected and Deborah’s lyric should be a corrective to that which is why it was appropriate for some bright spark to splice her lyric to a cartoon by Latuff showing the trail of blood in the wake of Sharon’s every move being cleansed by the whitewash of the mainstream media.

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Originally posted by Mark Elf AT

QUOTE OF THE DAY ~~ ON TALMUDIC CENSORSHIP

Noam Chomsky on the Legacy of Ariel Sharon: Not Speaking Ill of the Dead “Imposes a Vow of Silence”

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Definitely worth watching

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday after eight years in a coma at the age of 85. Sharon was one of the most dominant political figures in Israel’s history, involved in each of Israel’s major wars dating back to its founding in 1948. Among Palestinians, Sharon was one of the most reviled political figures in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is seen as father of the settlement movement and an architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that killed a reported 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese. We discuss Sharon’s legacy with three guests: Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University; and Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars on the Israeli-Arab conflict. “There is a convention that you’re not supposed to speak ill of the recently dead, which unfortunately imposes a kind of vow of silence, because there is nothing good to say,” Chomsky says. “He was a brutal killer; he had one fixed idea in mind which drove him all his life — a greater Israel, as powerful as possible, as few Palestinians as possible… He doubtless showed courage and commitment to pursuing this ideal, which is an ugly and horrific one.”

REMEMBERING ARIEL SHARON AS A MASS MURDERER OR A HERO?

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He will be remembered by the survivors for the massacres at Qibya in October 1953, at Sabra and Shatila in 1982, and Jenin in 2002.

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On the UN Secretary-General’s praise for mass killer Ariel Sharon as a “hero”

 Ali Abunimah

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A civil defense worker inspects a child’s body among victims at of the September 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.  (Jamal SaidiReuters)

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The tributes and praise from various world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, for Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon who died on Saturday, are vile but sadly predictable.

But probably the most distasteful of all comes from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who declared himself “saddened by the death of Ariel Sharon.”

A UN insider with links to the Department of Political Affairs in New York – who asked not to be named in order to speak freely about the matter – told me that Ban’s statement “brings the UN’s obsequiousness towards Israel to a new high and the UN’s standing in the Middle East to a new low.”

Ban offered his “condolences to the bereaved family and to the Government and people of Israel.” Ban called Sharon “a hero to his people, first as a soldier and then a statesman.”

Finally, says Ban, “Prime Minister Sharon will be remembered for his political courage and determination to carry through with the painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip.”

Re-writing history

Ban does not acknowledge that Sharon’s “disengagement” aimed at isolating Gaza for “demographic” reasons and inaugurated a crushing siege that continues relentlessly.

But most striking, he does not acknowledge that Sharon will be most remembered by Palestinians, Lebanese and indeed quite a few Israelis, as the architect of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon in which tens of thousands of people were slaughtered.

He will be remembered by the survivors for the massacres at Qibya in October 1953, at Sabra and Shatila in 1982, and Jenin in 2002.

To me, Ban’s tribute to Sharon is the most jarring because in many minds the United Nations is still supposed to stand for the post-World War II ideal of protecting the innocent against the violence of states and statesmen.

Through the complicity of states, Sharon escaped justice.

The UN insider added that the statement’s “deliberate lack of historical awareness yet again illustrates the extent to which UN ‘job seekers’ such as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry, whose office signed off on it, have bought into the Zionist narrative.”

“Ill-judged”

My UN contact adds: “Palestinians, particularly those who suffered because of Sharon’s war crimes, deserve an apology, though Ban’s silence would have sufficed. Outside Israel Sharon is a war criminal, inside he is a hero. It would have been better for Ban’s credibility and his effectiveness as an ‘honest broker’ in the Middle East, had he chosen not to illustrate to the world in this ill-judged statement where he stood.”

I’m not sure I agree Ban’s silence would have been preferable. At least now Ban is shorn of the mask of neutrality and there can be no doubt that he stands in full, enthusiastic complicity with Israel’s crimes against humanity.

We live in times with few moral moorings, where one day an utter mediocrity like Ban can praise Nelson Mandela, and a few weeks later call Ariel Sharon, an unrepentant mass-murder, a “hero.”

Written FOR

LATUFF BIDS FAREWELL TO ARIEL SHARON

From miles away, our dear Carlos shares the joy of the news ….

Death of Ariel Sharon

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The War Criminal dies unpunished

Death of Ariel Sharon 2

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The media whitewashes his crimes

Whitewashing Ariel Sharon

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Don’t miss my ‘tribute’

Click HERE

 

ARIEL SHARON; THE FINAL FAREWELL (FINALLY)

Finally the gates of hell opened wide enough for him to pass through!
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Sharon’s history offers a monochromatic record of moral corruption, with a documented record of war crimes going back to the early 1950s. He was born in 1928 and as a young man joined the Haganah, the underground military organization of Israel in its pre-state days. In 1953 he was given command of Unit 101, whose mission is often described as that of retaliation against Arab attacks on Jewish villages. In fact, as can be seen from two terrible onslaughts, one of them very well known, Unit 101′s purpose was that of instilling terror by the infliction of discriminate, murderous violence not only on able bodied fighters but on the young, the old, the helpless.
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  Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Photo: Reuters)
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In lieu of an obituary to this bloodthirsty bastard, I present here a piece from Counterpunch written in 2001. There were more crimes committed, but there are enough documented here to open the gates of hell wide for him …
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The Crimes of Ariel Sharon

by Alexander Cockburn And Jeffrey St. Clair

Some incorrigible optimists have suggested that only a right-wing extremist of the notoriety of Likud leader Ariel Sharon will have the credentials to broker any sort of lasting settlement with the Palestinians. Maybe so. History is not devoid of such examples. But Sharon?

Sharon’s history offers a monochromatic record of moral corruption, with a documented record of war crimes going back to the early 1950s. He was born in 1928 and as a young man joined the Haganah, the underground military organization of Israel in its pre-state days. In 1953 he
was given command of Unit 101, whose mission is often described as that of retaliation against Arab attacks on Jewish villages. In fact, as can be seen from two terrible onslaughts, one of them very well known, Unit 101′s purpose was that of instilling terror by the infliction of discriminate, murderous violence not only on able bodied fighters but on the young, the old, the helpless.

Sharon’s first documented sortie in this role was in August of 1953 on the refugee camp of El-Bureig, south of Gaza. An Israeli history of the 101 unit records 50 refugees as having been killed; other sources allege 15 or 20. Major-General Vagn Bennike, the UN commander, reported that “bombs were thrown” by Sharon’s men “through the windows of huts in which the refugees were sleeping and, as they fled, they were attacked by small arms and automatic weapons”.

In October of 1953 came the attack by Sharon’s unit 101 on the Jordanian village of Qibya, whose “stain” Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Moshe Sharett, confided to his diary “would stick to us and not be washed away for many years”. He was wrong. Though even strongly pro-Israel commentators in the West compared it to Lidice, Qibya and Sharon’s role are scarcely evoked in the West today, least of all by journalists such as Deborah Sontag of the New York Times who recently wrote a whitewash of Sharon, describing him as “feisty”, or the
Washington Post’s man in Jerusalem who fondly invoked him after his fateful excursion to the Holy Places in Jerusalem as “the portly old warrior”.

Israeli historian Avi Shlaim describes the massacre thus: “Sharon’s order was to penetrate Qibya, blow up houses and inflict heavy casualties on its inhabitants. His success in carrying out the order surpassed all expectations. The full and macabre story of what happened at Qibya was
revealed only during the morning after the attack. The village had been reduced to rubble: forty-five houses had been blown up, and sixty-nine civilians, two thirds of them women and children, had been killed. Sharon and his men claimed that they believed that all the inhabitants had run away and that they had no idea that anyone was hiding inside the houses.”

The UN observer on the scene reached a different conclusion: “One story was repeated time after time: the bullet splintered door, the body sprawled across the threshhold, indicating that the inhabitants had been forced by heavy fire to stay inside until their homes were blown up over them.” The slaughter in Qibya was described contemporaneously in a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council dated 16 October 1953 (S/3113) from the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Jordan to the United States. On 14 October 1953 at 9:30 at night, he wrote, Israeli troops launched a battalion-scale attack on the village of Qibya in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (at the time the West Bank was annexed to Jordan).

According to the diplomat’s account, Israeli forces had entered the village and systematically murdered all occupants of houses, using automatic weapons, grenades and incendiaries. On 14 October, the bodies of 42 Arab civilians had been recovered; several more bodies were still under the wreckage. Forty houses, the village school and a reservoir had been destroyed. Quantities of unused explosives, bearing Israel army markings in Hebrew, had been found in the village. At about 3 a.m., to cover their withdrawal, Israeli support troops had begun shelling the
neighbouring villages of Budrus and Shuqba from positions in Israel.

And what of Sharon’s conduct when he was head of the Southern Command of Israel’s Defense Forces in the early 1970s? The Gaza “clearances” were vividly described by Phil Reeves in a piece in The London Independent on January 21 of this year.

“Thirty years have elapsed since Ariel Sharon, favourite to win Israel’s forthcoming election, was the head of the Israel Defence Forces’ southern command, charged with the task of ‘pacifying’ the recalcitrant Gaza Strip after the 1967 war. But the old men still remember it well. Especially the old men on Wreckage Street. Until late 1970, Wreckage, or Had’d, Street wasn’t a street, just one of scores of narrow, nameless alleys weaving through Gaza City’s Beach Camp, a shantytown cluttered with low, two-roomed houses, built with UN aid for refugees from the 1948 war who then, as now, were waiting for the international community to settle their future. The street acquired its name after an unusually prolonged visit from Mr Sharon’s soldiers. Their orders were to bulldoze hundreds of homes to carve a wide, straight street. This would allow Israeli troops and their heavy armored vehicles to move easily through the camp, to exert control and hunt down men from the Palestinian Liberation Army.

“‘They came at night and began marking the houses they wanted to demolish with red paint,’ said Ibrahim Ghanim, 70, a retired labourer. ‘In the morning they came back, and ordered everyone to leave. I remember all the soldiers shouting at people, Yalla, yalla, yalla, yalla! They threw everyone’s belongings into the street. Then Sharon brought in bulldozers and started flattening the street. He did the whole lot, almost in one day. And the soldiers would beat people, can you imagine? Soldiers with guns, beating little kids!’ By the time the Israeli army’s work was done, hundreds of homes were destroyed, not only on Wreckage Street but throughout the camp, as Sharon ploughed out a grid of wide security roads. Many of the refugees took shelter in schools, or squeezed into the already badly over-crowded homes of relatives. Other families, usually those with a Palestinian political activist, were loaded into trucks and taken to exile in a town in the heart of the Sinai Desert, then controlled by Israel.”

As Reeves reported, the devastation of Beach Camp was far from the exception. “In August 1971 alone, troops under Mr Sharon’s command destroyed some 2,000 homes in the Gaza Strip, uprooting 16,000 people for the second time in their lives. Hundreds of young Palestinian men were arrested and deported to Jordan and Lebanon. Six hundred relatives of suspected guerrillas were exiled to Sinai. In the second half of 1971, 104 guerrillas were assassinated. ‘The policy at that time was not to arrest suspects, but to assassinate them’, said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza City”.

Israeli complacency leading to their initial defeat by the Egyptians in the 1973 war was in part nurtured by the supposed impregnability of the “Bar Lev line” constructed by Sharon on the east bank of the Suez canal. The Egyptians pierced the line without undue difficulty.

In 1981 Sharon, then minister of defense, paid a visit to Israel’s good friend, President Mobutu of Zaire. Lunching on Mobutu’s yacht the Israeli party was asked by their host to use their good offices to get the US Congress to be more forthcoming with aid. This the Israelis managed to accomplish. As a quid pro quo Mobutu reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel. This was not Sharon’s only contact with Africa. Among friends he relays fond memories of trips to Angola to observe and advise the South African forces then fighting in support of the murderous CIA stooge Jonas Savimbi.

As defense minister in Menachem Begin’s second government, Sharon was the commander who led the full dress 1982 assault on Lebanon, with the express design of destroying the PLO, driving as many Palestinians as possible to Jordan and making Lebanon a client state of Israel. It was a war plan that cost untold suffering, around 20,000 Palestinian and Lebanese lives, and also the deaths of over one thousand Israeli soldiers. The Israelis bombed civilian populations at will. Sharon also oversaw the infamous massacres at Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. The Lebanese government counted 762 bodies recovered and a further 1,200 buried privately by relatives. However, the Middle East may have been spared worse, thanks to Menachem Begin. Just as the ’82 war was getting under way, Sharon approached Begin, then Prime Minister, and suggested that Begin cede control over Israel’s nuclear trigger to him. Begin had just enough sense to refuse.

The slaughter in the two contiguous camps at Sabra and Shatilla took place from 6:00 at night on September 16, 1982 until 8:00 in the morning on September 18, 1982, in an area under the control of the Israel Defense Forces. The perpetrators were members of the Phalange militia, the Lebanese force that was armed by and closely allied with Israel since the onset of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975. The victims during the 62-hour rampage included infants, children, women (including pregnant women), and the elderly, some of whom were mutilated or disemboweled before or after they were killed.

An official Israeli commission of inquiry – chaired by Yitzhak Kahan, president of Israel’s Supreme Court – investigated the massacre, and in February 1983 publicly released its findings (without Appendix B, which remains secret until now).

Amid desperate attempts to cover up the evidence of direct knowledge of what was going on by Israeli military personnel, the Kahan Commission found itself compelled to find that Ariel Sharon, among other Israelis, had responsibility for the massacre. The commission’s report stated: “It is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister of Defense for having disregarded ["entirely cognizant of" would have been a better choice of words] the danger of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and having failed [i.e."eagerly taken this into consideration"] to take this danger into account when he decided to have the Phalangists enter the camps. In addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister of Defense for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre as a condition for the Phalangists’ entry into the camps. These blunders constitute the
non-fulfillment of a duty with which the Defense Minister was charged”. (For those who want to refresh their memories of Operation Peace for Galilee, of the massacres and the Kahan coverup we recommend Noam Chomsky’s The Fateful Triangle.)

Sharon refused to resign. Finally, on February 14, 1983, he was relieved of his duties as defense minister, though he remained in the cabinet as minister without portfolio.

Sharon’s career was in eclipse, but he continued to burnish his credentials as a Likud ultra. Sharon has always been against any sort of peace deal, unless on terms entirely impossible for Palestinians to accept. As Nehemia Strasler outlined in Ha’aretz on January 18 of this year, in 1979, as a member of Begin’s cabinet, he voted against a peace treaty with Egypt. In 1985 he voted against the withdrawal of Israeli troops to the
so-called security zone in Southern Lebanon. In 1991 he opposed Israel’s participation in the Madrid peace conference. In 1993 he voted No in the Knesset on the Oslo agreement. The following year he abstained in the Knesset on a vote over a peace treaty with Jordan. He voted against the Hebron agreement in 1997 and objected to the way in which the withdrawal from southern Lebanon was conducted.

As Begin’s minister of agriculture in the late 1970s he established many of the West Bank settlements that are now a major obstruction to any peace deal. His present position? Not another square inch of land for Palestinians on the West Bank. He will agree to a Palestinian state on the existing areas presently under either total or partial Palestinian control, amounting to merely 42 per cent of the West Bank. Israel will retain control of the highways across the West Bank and the water sources. All settlements will stay in place with access by the IDF to them. Jerusalem will remain under Israeli sovereignty and he plans to continue building around the city. The Golan heights would remain under Israel’s control.

It can be strongly argued that Sharon represents the long-term policy of all Israeli governments, without any obscuring fluff or verbal embroidery. For example: Ben-Gurion approved the terror missions of Unit 101. Every Israeli government has condoned settlements and
building around Jerusalem. It was Labor’s Ehud Barak who okayed the military escort for Sharon on his provocative sortie that sparked the second Intifada and Barak who has overseen the lethal military repression of recent months. But that doesn’t diminish Sharon’s sinister shadow across the past half century. That shadow is better evoked by Palestinians and Lebanese grieving for the dead, the maimed, the displaced, or by
a young Israeli woman, Ilil Komey, 16, who confronted Sharon recently when he visited her agricultural high school outside Beersheva. “I think you sent my father into Lebanon”, Ilil said. “Ariel Sharon, I accuse you of having made me suffer for 16 some odd years. I accuse you of having made my father suffer for over 16 years. I accuse you of a lot of things that made a lot of people suffer in this country. I don’t think that you can now be elected as prime minister”.

Ilil was wrong. He’s there. And now the bloodbath will begin.

DesertPeace’s addendum …. And it continues to this very day!

SEE ISRAEL’S ‘PEACE PROCESS’ IN ACTION ~~ LIVE FROM GAZA

Are these two jokers whispering about Peace? OR PIECES??
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010 (Photo: AP)
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The ‘enemies’ were targeted

The body of three-years-old Palestinian girl Hala Bhairi, who medics said was killed by shrapnel during an Israeli air strike on the Bureij facility, lies at a hospital morgue in the central Gaza Strip

The body of three-year-old Palestinian girl Hala Bhairi, who medics said was killed by shrapnel during an Israeli air strike on the Bureij facility, lies at a hospital morgue in the central Gaza Strip December 24, 2013. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
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PALESTIANS-ISRAEL-CONFLICT
The brother of killed three-year-old Palestinian girl Hala Abu Sabikha, lies on a hospital trolley in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on December 24, 2013. (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
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Can you believe this man? Would you buy a used car from him??
See above to see the Peace he speaks of ….
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The devil does speak with forked tongue
http://lemallah.org/images/netanyahu_bibi_snake.gif

IN LANDMARK VERDICT, ISRAEL FOUND GUILTY OF GENOCIDE ON ALL COUNTS

 Israel GUILTY of Genocide: Tribunal issues landmark verdict!
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Tribunal Issues Landmark Verdict against Israel for Genocide ~ Yoichi Shimatsu, Global Research.

To a crowded courtroom on the late afternoon of November 25, presiding Judge Lamin Mohd Yunus announced the verdict by an international panel of seven jurists:

The Tribunal is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the first defendant, (General) Amos Yaron, is guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide, and the second defendant, the State of Israel, is guilty of genocide.”

The landmark ruling against Israel for its genocide against the Palestinian people rendered by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal is significant for several reasons:

-          In contrast to other non-official courts of conscience on Palestinian rights, for example, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (New York 2012), the prosecution in Kuala Lumpur took a step beyond war crimes and crimes against humanity to the higher and broader charge of genocide.

-          The decision was rendered during the ongoing commission of the alleged crime by the defendant, rather than after the fact as in earlier genocide cases.

-          Instead of limiting its ruling to individuals who ordered genocidal actions, the jurists also charged the state as a defendant.

-          As a consequence, this case breaks the tradition of immunity of nation-states from criminal prosecution under international law.

-          The decision introduces a legal basis for international action to protect minorities from genocide as a lawful alternative to the current response of so-called humanitarian intervention, invasion, occupation and regime change, which have often been as illegitimate and more destructive, and in some cases as genocidal as the original violation being punished.

The Kuala Lumpur Tribunal based its momentous decision on the 1948 Genocide Convention, which prohibits and punishes the killing, causing of harm and deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a group of people, targeted for their ethnicity, religion or race. In instances of genocide, these criminal acts are done with the specific intent of destroying as a part or in whole of the targeted group, as in this plight the Palestinian people.

The defendants, Gen. Yaron and the Israeli State , through its representatives, refused to accept the Tribunal summons and appear in court.

Prominent Israeli legal scholars also refused invitations to serve as defense counsel. The Tribunal therefore appointed an Amicus Curae (defense counsel, referred to by the Latin term for “friends of the court”), including attorneys Jason Kay Kit Leon, Larissa Cadd, Dr. Rohimi Shapiee and Matthew Witbrodt, to defend the accused. Even absent Israeli participation, the defense proved to be forceful and often made heated remarks in Israel’s defense, especially during the cross-examinations of expert witnesses.

Why Not New York , London , Paris or Berlin

One point to note is that the sponsoring Kuala Lumpur Commission on War Crimes and its associated international Tribunal is unrelated to Malaysia and its legal system, aside from the participation of some Malaysian jurists and citizens in its proceedings. Malaysian laws are in many areas quite different from and sometimes in diametric opposition to the legal opinions of the international Tribunal. The independence of this “court of conscience” allows an approach to international law unconstrained by local norms, but this also means that the Tribunal lacks an enforcement capability.

That the first-ever Tribunal to prosecute Israel for genocide was initiated in Southeast Asia offers some indication of the continuing sensitivity within the traditional “center” of international law, Western Europe and North America, toward the circumstances behind Israel’s creation.

The Kuala Lumpur proceedings are bound to raise controversy and discomfort, especially among a reluctant West, since the historical motive behind creating a modern Jewish state in 1948 was largely a response to the abandonment of European Jewry to the pogroms and extermination program of the Third Reich, which in its early stages went unopposed by Western governments and prominent opinion leaders in the Atlantic community.

The courage to finally confront Israel after nearly seven decades of eviction and merciless brutality against the Palestinian people was summoned not by the Atlantic community but in faraway Southeast Asia , where a law case could be pursued with critical distance, logical dispassion and an absence of historical complicity. In short, an evidence-based fair trial found Israel to be guilty of genocide.

Why Israel

Why then was Israel singled out by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission on genocide charges before its Tribunal, when many other states have gone unpunished? Chief prosecutor Gurdial Singh explained:

“Other settler states, for example Australia, have offered compensation and apologized for the dispossession and harm to their indigenous populations, while Israel remains unapologetic and continues its campaign of destruction against Palestinians and to make their conditions unlivable inside and outside its borders.”

In contrast with previous special courts involving genocide charges, this Tribunal left the time frame of events open-ended, by starting just before the creation of the State of Israel until the present and, presumably, into the future until Israel ceases its expansionist campaign against the Palestinians and offers instead justice and reconciliation. By comparison in prior cases invoking the Genocide Convention, including those against former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Sierra Leone, the mass killings of civilians were perpetrated within a short time-frame by political leaders of the then-governing regime or by a major political faction.

The Kuala Lumpur Tribunal asserted that the modern Jewish state, in contrast to other cases, had since even before its inception pursued a genocidal program as a consistent feature and indeed a foundation of state policy. Therefore, genocide in the Israeli case cannot be solely attributed as the isolated action of a leader, political party or elected government but remains the responsibility of the state itself.

Genocide as Response

The specific intent of Israeli state policy, since even before the founding of Israel, was discussed in a live-video transmission by expert witness Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian at University of Exeter in the UK and the director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies. His research has revealed that a planning group of top-ranking Jewish military leaders in the Haganah militia, led by David Ben Gurion (who later became Israel’s first prime minister) devised an ethnic-cleansing program to rid the future Israel of its Arab predecessors. Called Plan Dalet (the letter “D” indicating the fourth plan of a colonialist agenda) was to be activated as soon as the British suspended the Palestine Mandate.

With the declaration of Israeli statehood in 1948, a coordinated armed campaign by Israeli military forces and paramilitary units against hundreds of Palestinian urban neighborhoods and rural villages led to the flight of an estimated 700,000 refugees from Palestine and parts of neighboring Trans-Jordan, including Jerusalem . Although the Israeli intent was intended to intimidate the Palestinians into relocating outside the borders, but before long village populations that refused to flee were mass murdered.

The forcible deportation of indigenous inhabitants from their homes and land was a criminal act of ethnic cleansing, Pappe said. That policy, however, soon metamorphosed into a systematic campaign to destroy Palestinians, that is, genocide. Under cross-examination by defense team, the historian explained, that as an Israeli citizen and son of Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi-ruled Germany , it is morally, ethically and historically inconsistent to condemn the genocide against Jews while endorsing a new one against Palestinians.

 Cumulative Record of Crimes

The Israeli record of massacres, extrajudicial killings and daily harassment of Palestinian comprises a continuum of criminal behavior over the past 67 years. Given the overwhelming evidence, the prosecution team therefore decided to focus on key cases, which were extensively reported in the news media and/or were subject of investigations. These included:

-          the September 1982 massacre of Palestinians, mainly women and children, at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in a southwest district of Beirut, Lebanon;

-          lethal firing of teargas canisters and “rubber” bullets by Israeli Defense Forces that resulted in the deaths of unarmed civilians during the Intifada campaigns and subsequent protests; and

-          intensive and indiscriminate aerial bombing and artillery shelling of civilian quarters in the Gaza Strip in 2008.

Among the witnesses who testified in person or via video transmission included:

-          a former university student who was shot without warning at a peaceful protest by an Israeli sniper firing a fragmentary bullet that caused extensive and permanent damage to his internal organs;

-          a Christian resident of the West Bank who was repeatedly imprisoned and tortured on grounds of subversion;

-          a female resident of Nablus who suffered mental anxiety due to her imprisonment and subsequent social ostracism; and

-          two men from the Al Sammouni clan of Gaza, which lost 21 family members, mainly children and women, in an Israeli commando raid on their home.

-          a Palestinian physician who conducted studies on the psychological trauma inflicted, particularly on children, as result of constant intimidation, massive violence and state terror during and following the second Intifada;

-          Expert witness Paola Manduca, an Italian chemist and toxicologist, who found extreme levels of toxic contamination of the soil and water across the Gaza Strip caused by Israeli weapons made of heavy metals and cancer-causing compounds.

 Killing Fields

Professor Pappe said that the mass killing of defenseless civilians trapped without avenues of escape within a cordon or enclosure is clear evidence of genocidal policy, as happened inside the Beirut refugee camps surrounded by Israeli tanks and hostile Phalangist militiamen and inside Gaza cities that are ringed by a wall-fence.

For the Beirut atrocity, Israeli Defense Force commander General Amos Yaron was charged in absentia for crimes against humanity and genocide. Among the witnesses who testified in person on the Camps Sabra and Shatilla events were:

-          Chahira Abouardini, a widow whose husband and three children were murdered by Israeli-allied militiamen at Camp Shatilla, provided a graphic account of the carnage, describing piles of bullet-riddled bodies and, in one case, of a pregnant women whose belly had been slit open and with her dead unborn child left on top of her corpse. She recounted how refugees were rounded up from their homes and lined against walls for summary execution by automatic weapons fire.-

-          Dr. Ang Swee Chai, a London-based Singaporean surgeon and medical volunteer at the time at a hospital run by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, with the aid of the International Committee of the Red Cross, testified that another Beirut hospital had been bombed by Israeli jets, all Palestinian facilities including schools and hospitals were deliberately destroyed by artillery barrages and explosive charges, and ambulances were intercepted and their drivers shot dead. She stated that an Israeli observation post positioned in the 7-storey Kuwaiti Embassy, located on a hilltop, had an unobstructed view of the refugee camp, indicating that the Israeli forces were directing a joint operation to exterminate the refugees left behind under the international plan to withdraw the PLO from Lebanon . In her forensic investigation of the bullet wound that injured a male nurse at her hospital, Dr. Ang determined that the sniper fire had come from the Israeli-occupied Embassy building

Considering the Israeli checkpoints on roads and its vantage points, Brigadier General Amos Yaron as field commander of the Beirut incursion and occupation, had effective control over the camps. His close liaison with the local militia leader meant that Yaron had condoned the 36-hour rampage by militiamen, which led to an estimated 3,500 civilian deaths. No orders were issued to prevent the one-sided violence, prosecutor Aziz Rahman argued before the Tribunal. A 1983 special commission report, under its chairman Nobel Laureate Sean MacBride, concluded that Israel had “complicity in genocide”. Research findings gathered since then indicate that Yaron was not merely complicit but held personal responsibility for the massacre.

A point contested by the Amicus Curae defense team was that then Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, an official of superior rank, should have been prosecuted instead of Gen. Yaron. (The prosecution had earlier declined to serve notice on Sharon, who has been in a coma for many years and is unable to testify in hisown defense. Moreover, Yaron had wide sway of authority as field commander in a battle zone outside the borders of Israel .) Prosecutor Gurdial Singh pointed out that Israel not only failed to file criminal charges against Yaron and his subordinates but subsequently awarded and repeatedly promoted the general and his circle. Yaron was therefore found guilty as accused.

Responsibility of the State

International law has traditionally taken for granted the immunity of states from prosecution by a court in another country. There are several reasons for immunity of states, even for high crimes such as genocide and serious violations of various humanitarian codes.

-          International law and the treaty system are based on the principle of equality among states, which are parties to and enforcers of international agreements. The criminal conviction of a state for serious crimes would automatically weigh against the accused party, thereby causing an imbalance in relations and introducing unfairness to the international system.

-The sovereignty of states is a fundamental protection against aggression or undue interference by a foreign state or alliance of nation-states.

-          As argued by defense counsel Matthew Witbrodt, prosecution of and penalties imposed on a state would result in collective punishment of all of its citizens. (Since the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, the international community has tried to avoid forms of collective punishment, including heavy war reparations.)

On the other side of the coin, total immunity for the state can encourage violations of international law by dictatorial, racist and/or bigoted regimes. The absence of legal challenge by foreign courts therefore leaves few legitimate means to pressure the offending state. The more “peaceful” methods include economic sanctions, which can be interpreted as a type of collective punishment against a victimized citizenry.

With no legal recourse to counter mass atrocities, other states then must launch interventions through extralegal and often illegal strategies of covert warfare,  proxy insurgencies or biased peacekeeping operations. The subsequent invasion and occupation by self-appointed saviors can be more harmful to the people, and to the principles of law, than the original violations of the offending regime.

Thus,  quoting its opinion upon the verdict, a “reason the Tribunal wishes to reject the doctrine of absolute state immunity from prosecution in matters of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity is that the existing international law on war and peace, and humanitarianism, is being enforced in a grossly inequitable manner. Small, weak nations, mostly in Africa and Asia , are periodically subjected to devastating sanctions, military interventions and regime changes. At the same time, unbearable atrocities and brutalities are inflicted on the military weak nations of Latin America, Africa and Asia by powerful nations in the North Atlantic and their allies go unscrutinized and unpunished.”

The alternative to the law of the jungle applied by self-appointed unilateral powers or coalitions of the willing is the reform of international law to balance sovereignty with the responsibility of the state for high crimes such as genocide.

Restricting Sovereignty

In its opinion on the ruling, the Tribunal therefore offered a rational method for limiting sovereignty in cases of gross crimes: “Where there is a conflict between two principles of law, the one hierarchically higher in importance should prevail. To our mind, the international law doctrine against impleading (suing) a foreign state, being lower than that that of the prohibition against genocide, resulted in the charge against the State of Israel.”

The Tribunal did not spell out how a genocide ruling can be enforced or provide a model for a reconstitution of state. Presumably and theoretically, the general effect of genocide-based restrictions on sovereignty would be to dissuade and deter state administrations from perpetrating mass atrocities with impunity. Under a legal standard for common action to stop genocide, a preventive intervention could then proceed under accepted rules of engagement and with safeguards against unwarranted violence by peacekeepers. When an inherently extreme policy in embedded in the constitution or state regulations, a lawfully grounded international authority could then abolish that state structure and reconstitute a legitimate state subject to a referendum. A legal process for constitutional change is far preferable to the current method of arbitrary regime change favorable to the interests of and politically subservient to an occupation authority. This remains hypothetical, showing only that the international community is yet to seriously consider the alternative to the present unlawful model.

Restriction of state sovereignty, as the Tribunal noted, is a new and evolving trend in international law. The U.S. permits its citizens to file lawsuits in federal court against states that harbor terrorists, and although this is covered under tort law, such cases inherently restrict the sovereignty of foreign countries. The European Union has also constrained the sovereignty of member states. Under the 1978 State Immunity Act, the British privy council ruled that vessels owned by foreign governments are subject to the same liability laws as commercial vessels.

As argued by the Tribunal panel in their opinion, “We find it rather mind-boggling when some courts can consider commercial disputes as a reason for not allowing a state to be shielded by the state immunity principle and yet strenuously protect such a state in cases of genocide or other war crimes. Human lives cannot be less important than financial gain.”

The vigorous and often well-founded arguments by the Amicus Curae team in defense of Israel were constructive criticism that greatly helped to focus the Tribunal on the complexities of international law. In heated courtroom debate, defense counsel Jason Kay Kit Leon opined that “the elephant in the room” was Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, for instance, the launching of unguided rockets at settlements, and that Israeli forces have acted in self-defense. The thrust of his claim was based on “In Defense of Israel” by Harvard law scholar and attorney Alan Dershowitz.

The jurists, however, accepted the prosecution argument. “It is our finding that much of the Palestinian-generated violence is not on Israel’s own territory, but from and on Israeli-occupied Palestinian land. Much of the violence perpetrated by Palestinians in a reaction to the brutalities of the vicious racism and genocide that is a tragic feature of Palestinian life.”

The opinion went further, by stating: “We also hold that the force of the IDF is excessive, totally disproportionate and a violation of international humanitarian law. The methods used are unspeakably inhumane and amount to war crimes.”

Internal Disputes

Earlier disputes within the Commission had led to a two-month adjournment of trial proceedings due to harsh and sometimes bitter accusations between participants. In the conflicted process, several judges recused themselves or were absent due to schedule conflicts and one prominent prosecutor resigned in protest of suspected tampering of the judicial panel. These controversies fortunately served to clarify rather than muddy the legal issues and court procedures, resulting in stronger arguments on both sides. Taking Israel to task is never an easy proposition.

Thereby, a stunning precedent in international law was achieved with the Tribunal’s unanimous decision to charge a state for the high crime of genocide. The arguments and verdict against the State of Israel will undoubted be a hotly debated test case for legal scholars over years to come. Since its Charter does not allow an appeal process, the case of “The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission Against the State of Israel” will stand as the nub of controversy for human-rights law and the principle of sovereignty for nation-states.

While citing several precedents, the strongest argument for implication of the state is outlined in the 2007 genocide case of Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Yugoslavia , which covered the Sebrenica massacre of Bosnian Muslms by Serb-dominated federal armed forces. As Canadian jurist John Philpot, who earlier served on the Rwanda Tribunal, pointed out following the reading of the verdict “Bosnia/Herzegovina clearly laid out the culpability of the state and thus served as the precedent for our judgment against Israel .”

According to the Bosnia/Herzogovina ruling, “Genocide is a international crime entailing national and international responsibility on the part of individuals and states” and “if an organ of the state, or a person or group whose acts are legally attributable to the state, commits any of the acts proscribed by Article 3 of the (Genocide) Convention, the international responsibility of that state is incurred.

A point to note: The Rwanda and Yugoslavia genocide cases, are considered by some legal experts to be flawed by the underlying covert and illegal factor of great-power interference. These cases were cited infrequently and judiciously by the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal, which exercised proper case in selection of appropriate passages, while relying on a much wider range of legal precedents in regard to liability of the state.

Critique: Going Beyond Reparations

Until this genocide ruling by the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal, offending states and their foreign sponsors have evaded responsibility while the entire burden of guilt has been placed on the individual agents of weak nation-states. Under the Tribunal ruling, both the core state apparatus – including the executive office, military command, intelligence agencies, supportive ministries and, in many cases, the judiciary and police – bear as much and, in some cases, more criminal responsibility for genocide as individual leaders or military officers.

Yet that is still insufficient when the primary responsibility should rest on powerful sponsor states that move from supporting the offending regime toward punishing its rebellious hubris. The nexus of powerful and ruthless states and global elites, with their machinery for war-making and arms production, creates the political state of siege, the economic strangulation and the covert weapons trade that prompt weaker states to perpetrate genocide.

Barely addressed in just one paragraph of the Tribunal opinion is the reality that powerful states oppose any dilution of their absolute state immunity with the unspoken objective of preserving their war-making powers. The dominant Atlantic allies have cited genocide solely as a pretext to expand their global domain though invasions under a broad and vague “responsibility to protect” principle and have imposed new constitutions on defeated adversaries authored by foreign legal scholars while guised as the ideals of domestic political revolutions. Meanwhile, their own genocidal state structures, centered in the national-security structure and military command, categorically reject any international controls over extralegal interventions operated under the cover of humanitarian operations.

Also, in limiting its call for remedial action to reparations from Israel , the Tribunal wasted a precious opportunity to demand full justice for the Palestinian nation. What is realistically required is an international peacekeeping force to guarantee the withdrawal of the Israeli miltary and police force from Palestinian territory until a domestic law-enforcement and security force can take over; the elimination of wall-fences, checkpoints and other barriers to the free movement of citizens; the return of occupied land in Palestine; financial restitution for the loss of lands and property inside the boundaries of Israel; and an official apology for the countless crimes committed.

Furthermore, the continuity of genocide perpetrated by the core state structure and abetted by the complicity of much of the Israeli population demands that the offending state must be reorganized under a new constitution free of religious bias and racial discrimination to ensure legal norms that prevent a repetition of genocide. This objective should require an international occupation of Israel in event that powerful elements in Israeli society refuse to comply with international law. Israel should be spared the violence unleashed against the Third Reich, but stern justice and strong rule of law are nonetheless required in situations of ideological conformity based on the goals of genocide.

  Courage and Wisdom

Whatever its few shortcomings, the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal demonstrated immense courage, foresight and wisdom in leveling the long-overdue charge of genocide against the State of Israel. The Tribunal correctly framed genocide in the context of international law rather than merely as a localized violation. The verdict along with the sophisticated judicial opinion provides an important initiative toward deterring the great powers from promoting and exploiting genocides among weaker nations and victimized peoples.

The Tribunal verdict raised not only a legal challenge to supporters of the Zionist cause in the United States and Europe but also appealed to universal moral principles in the tradition of high-minded rhetoric. “Much as we condemn violence and pray for peace, it must be stated that no power on Earth can douse the flame of freedom from the human spirit. As long as there is suppression, there will always be people prepared to die on their feet rather than live on their knees.”

 The precedent-setting decision by the Kuala Lumpur Tribunal is a giant step forward not only for dispossessed Palestinians but also for humanity as a whole.

Author: Yoichi Shimatsu, an East and Southeast Asia focused journalist, is former editor of The Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo.

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Testimony by Dr. Ilan Pappe on Genocide in Palestine by Israel

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal Hearing on Palestine–Testimony by Dr. Ilan Pappe.

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On November 22, 2013, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (KLWCT) went into the third day of the hearing on genocide and war crimes charges against the State of Israeland Amos Yaron, a retired Israeli army general.

The tribunal heard the testimony of renowned historian and socialist activist, Prof Ilan Pappe, who informed the tribunal about the systematic ethnic cleansing via expulsion and killing of the Palestinians from their homeland since 1948. Three witnesses from West Bank also gave an account of their trials and tribulations under the Israelis.

The testimony of Dr. Pappe was an interesting and revealing account of the Israeli leadership strategy to rid the Palestinians from their homeland since the 1940s. He testified that the expulsions were not decided on an ad hoc basis, as other historians have argued, but constituted the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in accordance with Plan Dalet drawn up in 1947 by Israel’s leaders then.

He testified that the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948 constituted ethnic cleansing, as the Zionists movement was not concerned with the native people. He revealed that it was as early as in the 1940s when it began deliberating the fate of the indigenous people of Palestine and that they wanted to take over Palestine with as little Palestinians in it by having them leave voluntarily or be forced out.

He further revealed that from 1948 until 1949, the plan was enforced by Israeli forces to cleanse villages and towns of Palestinians by encircling the villages/towns from three flanks to intimidate the residents into leaving by leaving one flank open. Some 530 villages were wiped out physically. Under the partition plan, 56% of the land was to be handed to Israel wherein the 2/3 of the population was Palestinians. In the end, 93% of the land came under the control of Israel and 750,000 Palestinians were left out as refugees in neighbouring countries, in Gaza and West Bank. After the 1967 war, Gaza and West Bank were occupied.

He added that having taken over most of Palestine territories, the policy changed from expelling to destroying the Palestinians. Hence, the Sabra & Shatilla massacre was an attempt to destroy Palestinians in Lebanon.

He told the tribunal that the use of military action against Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank was considered genocidal against people who cannot defend themselves. Military operations such as Summer Rains, Autumn Clouds, and Cast Lead were just to kill the Palestinians and destroy the economy, culture and their spirit.

In cross-examination by Amicus Curiae Jason Kay, Prof Pappe agreed that his view of history is a minority view and that while he is grateful that the Zionist movement had saved his parents from the Nazi holocaust for which he is grateful; however, the moral way is to live together with the Palestinians, not expel and kill them.

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Original post AT

WHAT THE CIA KNEW ABOUT ISRAELI WAR CRIMES AND DIDN’T TELL US

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The website reported that little hard evidence has ever been published to indicate that Israel possesses a stockpile of chemical or biological weapons. This secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate may be the strongest indication yet.
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Report: Israel manufactured chemical weapons

As Western eyes turn to Syria over chemical attack, American Intel reports that Israel stocked biological and chemical weapons in 1980s

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Syria‘s reported use of chemical weapons is threatening to turn the civil war there into a wider conflict, but the Bashar Assad government may not be the only one in the region with a nerve gas stockpile. A newly discovered CIA document indicates that Israel likely built up a chemical arsenal of its own, reported the Foreign Policy website.

According to Foreign Policy, reports have circulated in arms control circles for almost 20 years that Israel secretly manufactured a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons to complement its nuclear arsenal.

Much of the attention has been focused on the research and development work being conducted at the Israeli government’s secretive Israel Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona, located 20 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, the report said.

The website reported that little hard evidence has ever been published to indicate that Israel possesses a stockpile of chemical or biological weapons. This secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate may be the strongest indication yet.

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Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona (Photo: Shaul Golan) (צילום: שאול גולן)
Institute for Biological Research at Ness Ziona (Photo: Shaul Golan)(צילום: שאול גולן)
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According to the document, American spy satellites uncovered in 1982 “a probable chemical weapon nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.”

“While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents,” the document adds, “several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems.”

Whether Israel still maintains this alleged stockpile is unknown. In 1992, the Israeli government signed but never ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans such arms, the website reported.

The CIA estimate, a copy of which was sent to the White House, also shows that the US intelligence community had suspicions about this stockpile for decades, and that the US government kept mum about Israel’s suspected possession of chemical weapons just as long.

These facts were recently discovered by a researcher at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, Foreign Policy reported.

Source

UNCLE SAM’S NEW IMAGE

The War Businessman
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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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IMAGE OF THE DECADE

The legacy lives on …. NO CHANGE!
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BEHIND THE LENSE AT THE WORLD PRESS PHOTO CONTEST

Read THIS report first …
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What Hansen’s camera left out was a story of a family that was at home, many of its members just watching television one November evening before they met their doom. Nur Hijazi, 18, relayed to HRW the events of that fateful night. “Mohamed and Sohaib were with my father in another room. The rest of the family was in another room watching TV. At 7:30, I saw the whole place turn red and suddenly the whole house collapsed on our heads.”
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Award-Winning Photo Shares
Human Tragedy of Gaza War

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Paul Hansen of Sweden, a photographer working for the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter,
poses holding his picture that won the World Press Photo of the year for 2012, at Dagens Nyheter’s
office in Stockholm Feb. 15, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix)
By: Dalia Hatuqa*  

On the evening of Nov. 19, a bomb dropped by an Israeli aircraft struck the Jabalya refugee camp home of the Hijazi family, tearing it down and killing Fouad Hijazi and two of his infant sons. This horror story was one of many told by neighbors and loved ones, and documented by Human Rights Watch (HRW) (among other groups) in the aftermath of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza last year. In addition to crushing Fouad and his two sons — Mohamed, 4, and 2-year-old Sohaib — the bomb that leveled the two-story cinderblock house wounded Fouad’s wife, Amna, and the rest of their children.

The aftermath of this tragedy was documented by Swedish photographer Paul Hansen, who captured the funeral procession taking the two toddlers to their burial site. The picture, which shows weeping men holding the children shrouded in white cloth with nothing showing but their listless faces, earned Hansen the 2012 World Press Photo award. Hansen’s picture, one of the many searing images of the eight-day war in Gaza, was taken just one day after the Hijazis were killed, as their bodies were marched through the neighborhood to the cemetery and as their mother lay in an intensive care unit, unable to receive or be consoled by mourners and now homeless.

A staff photographer for Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper, Hansen submitted the image as just one of more than 103,000 photos sent by 5,666 photographers from 124 countries. Awards in nine themed categories were given to 54 photographers from 32 countries under what is widely known as one of the most prestigious prizes in photojournalism.

Hansen’s picture is telling: Out of last year’s 165 Palestinians killed throughout Israel’s “Operation Pillar of Defense,” at least 33 were children, according to numbers provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. During the November onslaught, “several Israeli missiles and a bomb struck civilians and civilian objects, such as houses and farm groves, without any apparent military objective,” said Human Rights Watch, which determined earlier this week that these air strikes were in violation of the laws of war.

Cameras did not capture many of the deaths during that time. Of these, HRW mentions “three men in a truck carrying tomatoes in Deir al-Balah and a science teacher who was sitting in his front yard with his 3-year-old son on his lap, talking to an acquaintance — only the toddler survived, but was seriously wounded.” Israeli-manned drone attacks also killed a 79-year-old man and his 14-year-old granddaughter in the family’s olive grove in Abasan, and a young woman in her backyard in the town of Khuza’a.

On Nov. 18, an attack on a Gaza City house led to the death of 12 people, the single largest number of Palestinians killed in a single incident throughout the war. One day before the Hijazi family tragedy struck, an Israeli bomb leveled the three-story house of the Dalu family, killing ten of its members and two neighbors. Of the family, one man, five women, four children, a grandson and grandmother who lived next door were killed, according to HRW. The strike only spared a 16-year-old, who survived the attack, in addition to the head of the household and his son, who had gone out to buy food.

Gaza was still reeling from this tragedy (the bodies of two of the victims — Yara and Mohamed Al Dalu — were not recovered until Nov. 22) when the Hijazi family was struck. The harrowing retrieval of the bodies of Fouad, Mohamed and Sohaib Hijazi was captured on video. According to HRW, no one knew why their home was targeted. A neighbor was quoted as saying no shooting was ever heard in the neighborhood, and according to the group, the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center stated that the three victims were “non-involved” civilians.

The rights group’s field investigations of the incident found no evidence of any military objectives at the time of the attack. Under international law, individuals who deliberately order or take part in attacks which target civilians or civilian infrastructure — whether intentional or unintentional — are responsible for war crimes. 

Labels by Israeli authorities aside, the human loss captured by Hansen’s camera is striking. The body of the father of two can barely be seen in a stretcher behind the grieving men carrying the dead toddlers. What Hansen’s camera left out was a story of a family that was at home, many of its members just watching television one November evening before they met their doom. Nur Hijazi, 18, relayed to HRW the events of that fateful night. “Mohamed and Sohaib were with my father in another room. The rest of the family was in another room watching TV. At 7:30, I saw the whole place turn red and suddenly the whole house collapsed on our heads.”

*Dalia Hatuqa is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor‘s Palestine Pulse. A print and broadcast journalist specializing in the Middle East, she is based in the West Bank city of Ramallah and writes for several publications about politics, the economy, culture, art and design.

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‘A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS’ ….

… Yet, there was not a peep from the Israeli government or the ADL or the Wiesenthal Center labeling  Swedish photojournalist Paul Hansen an anti Semite for his winning photo in the World Press Photo Contest. Only the ultra nationalist Arutz Sheva ran THIS dribble about it. Their report starts with Israel is losing the war of images against liars who have set up an industry of blood libels ‘through the lens’ …. pretty pathetic argument in my opinion.
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Let’s have a look at the ‘blood libel’ referred to in this photo; just whose blood is staining the shrouds of the dead children in the image?
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Every zionist and his mother jumped on the bandwagon a few weeks ago condemning the cartoonist Gerald Scarfe for penning the following;
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Our own Carlos Latuff ‘won’ third place for the following on the Wiesenthal Hate List of 2012′
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So we can gather from the above that images penned by artists or cartoonists are a no-no, but photographs are OK. Perhaps because the photo in question shows the anguish of the mourners and the dead children themselves. Makes one think that these crimes against humanity are truly the pride and joy of zionism. It’s not blood libel at all, it’s a true picture of the evils of zionism. Perhaps zionism itself is a blood libel against all of humanity …. food for thought.

MORE ON THIS YEAR’S PHOTO OF THE YEAR

Photo of Gazan funeral procession wins Photo of the Year at 2013 World Press Photo Contest
Annie Robbins and Alex Kane

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2013 World Press Photo of the Year, Gaza November 20 2012 (photo: Paul Hansen)

Judges for the 2013 World Press Photo Contest have awarded the Photo of the Year to Swedish photojournalist Paul Hansen for his photograph of a Gazan funeral procession taken during Operation Pillar of Cloud last November. The award is considered one of the most prestigious photojournalism honors in the world.

The procession was for Fouad Hijazi and his two children Sohaib, 2, and Muhamad, 4, killed by an Israeli airstrike November 19, 2012.

As the Palestine Center’s Yousef Munayyer notes, the backstory to this photo is chronicled in the latest Human Rights Watch report on alleged Israeli war crimes committed during the latest assault on Gaza. The human rights group notes that “field investigations of these attacks”–including the bombing of the Hijazi home– “found no evidence of Palestinian fighters, weaponry, or other apparent military objectives at the time of the attack. Individuals who deliberately order or take part in attacks targeting civilians or civilian objects are responsible for war crimes.” Here’s more from Human Rights Watch on the incident:

On November 19 at around 7:30 p.m., a single munition struck the house of the Hijazi family in Block 8 of the Jabalya refugee camp. The small, two-story cinderblock house was mostly demolished while 10 family members were inside. The strike killed Fouad Hijazi, a 46-year-old janitor at the Hamad secondary school, along with two of his children, Mohamed, 4, and Sohaib, 2. His wife, Amna, was wounded, as were three of their sons and a daughter.

One of the survivors, Nur Hijazi, 18, said that she was at home with her parents, four brothers and one sister when the attack took place:

Mohamed and Sohaib were with my father in another room. The rest of the family was in another room watching TV. At 7:30 I saw that the whole place turn red and suddenly the whole house collapsed on our heads. I found myself at my neighbor’s house and one of my neighbors took me to an ambulance. I was hospitalized for four days at Kamal Adwan Hospital. I have two broken bones in my spine. I don’t need surgery but I’m in a lot of pain. [Doctors said that] I must lie in bed for one month.

Human Rights Watch also saw three of Nur’s wounded brothers. Ashraf, 17, had cuts on his chest, upper arm and above the right eye. Osama, 13, had a bandage on his head that he said covered cuts. Musab, 2, had a cut on his head.

A video apparently of the Hijazi house after the strike shows workers removing the bodies of Fouad, Mohamed, and Sohaib.

The Hijazi house, inspected by Human Rights Watch on November 28, lay in ruins. The surrounding buildings in the densely packed area were only lightly damaged, except that there was slightly more substantial damage to one side of one adjacent house. The damage suggests that an Israeli aircraft dropped a bomb at the site. Human Rights Watch found no munition remnants at the site.

A neighbor who lives across a very narrow street – too small for a car – from the Hijazi home said he heard no shooting of rockets from the area at the time or at other times during the 8-day conflict. There were no other explosions in the area that night, he said. He and other local residents said they did not know or understand why the Hijazi family home had been hit, saying that the family had no connection to any of Gaza’s armed groups. One of Fouad’s other sons had been killed by an Israeli strike about five years earlier, one neighbor said, but he was a civilian who was killed accidentally.

The IDF did not make any announcements about specific strikes in Jabalya at the time. The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center stated that the three victims were “non-involved” civilians.

CNN:

This year’s Photo of the Year, taken by Paul Hansen, is a striking image of the bodies of two young children carried through the streets of Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike on their home, the photographer said. They are being taken to a mosque for burial, their father’s body carried on a stretcher behind them. Their mother was hospitalized.

The photograph humanizes what some may see as a politically charged situation.

But contest jury chair Santiago Lyon told CNN that there was no talk of it being controversial. Lyon is the vice president and director of photography for The Associated Press.

This year’s final round of judges were a global mix, Lyon said. There were three things jurors were looking for in a winning image — a photograph that reached the intellect, heart and stomach, he said. The Gaza City photo accomplished that, Lyon said.

Al Akhbar:

“The strength of the pictures lies in the way it contrasts the anger and sorrow of the adults with the innocence of the children,” said jury member Mayu Mohanna of Peru. “It’s a picture I will not forget.”

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“This prize is the highest honor you can get in the profession,” Hansen told The Associated Press. “I’m very happy, but also very sad. The family lost two children and the mother is unconscious in a hospital.”

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Hansen’s November 20 shot won top prize in both the spot news single photograph category and the overall competition…..The contest drew entries from professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers across the world. In all, 103,481 images were submitted by 5,666 photographers from 124 countries.

Hansen will receive a €10,000 prize at ceremonies and the opening of the year’s exhibition April 25-27th in Amsterdam.

This is World Press Photo’s 56th Annual Photo Contest.

 

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WINNING PHOTO OF THE YEAR

 Question is, when will these massacres stop? Photos of children at play are much more beautiful than ones taken at their funerals ….
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“This prize is the highest honor you can get in the profession,” Hansen told The Associated Press. “I’m very happy, but also very sad. The family lost two children and the mother is unconscious in a hospital.”
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Palestinian funeral shot earns award for photographer

Paul Hensen wins prestigious photojournalism World Press Photo award for picture of Palestinian child funeral procession in Gaza

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Hensen’s winning photo (Courtesy of: AFP)

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Full AP Report HERE

GUN OR DRONE CONTROL? WHICH WILL IT BE??

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“[America can be] a moral power,” said Martin Luther King – on whose Bible Obama swore in as president – during the Vietnam war. “A power harnessed to the service of peace and human beings, not an inhumane power unleashed against defenceless people.” That’s as true on the streets of Chicago as it is in the border regions of Pakistan.

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Barack Obama is pushing gun control at home, but he’s a killer abroad

President Obama’s appeals to respect human life in the US are at odds with his backing for drone strikes in foreign parts

 

By Gary Younge
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On 27 January CBS aired an interview with the newly inaugurated President Barack Obama and his outgoing secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, during which the president faced accusations that under his watch America had retreated from its key role in world affairs. “The biggest criticism of this team,” said the interviewer,” has been [that there is] an abdication of the United States on the world stage, sort of reluctance to become involved in another entanglement.”

Obama interrupted. “Well, Muammar Gaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment,” he said. “Or at least if he was around, he wouldn’t agree with that assessment.” Quite. Gaddafi, to whom the US authorised$15m worth of arms sales in 2009, is not around because he was murdered by a mob shortly after being sodomised by a bayonet following his ousting by US-led Nato bombardment. In the minutes between the sodomising and the summary execution there just wasn’t time to reflect on US foreign policy.

The day after the interview was screened, Obama met with the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association. The president, fresh from boasting about having Gaddafi “smoked”, wanted to discuss how to stop guns getting into the wrong hands, bolster the forces of law and order, and stem violence in US cities.

Over the last few weeks there has been a distinct incongruity – to say the least – between the agenda Obama is promoting at home and the one he defends abroad. His justification for targeted killings and drone strikesin foreign parts, prompted by his nomination of a CIA director, has coincided with his advocacy for stiffer gun control and appeals to respect human life following mass shootings. The result is an administration raising life and death issues in its actions and pronouncements but being unable to talk with any moral authority or ethical consistency on either.

In short, the credibility of a president in challenging lawless social violence in US cities is fundamentally undermined when he has his own personal kill list in violation of international law to terminate enemies elsewhere.

“The diplomatic historian traces foreign affairs as if domestic affairs were offstage disturbances,” writes Walter Karp in his book The Politics of War. “The historian of domestic politics treats the explosions of war as if they were offstage disturbances. Were that true, we would have to believe that presidents who faced a mounting sea of troubles at home have nonetheless conducted their foreign policy without the slightest regard for those troubles – that individual presidents were divided into watertight compartments, one labelled ‘domestic’ and the other ‘foreign’.”

Yet that is precisely how the Obama administration appears to have compartmentalised its response to violence and its victims. One moment the Obamas are mourning the tragic loss of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old girl who attended his inauguration. She was shot less than a mile from their Chicago home while sheltering from the rain in a park. The first lady, Michelle Obama, who attended Hadiya’s funeral on Saturday, said, through a spokeswoman: “Too many times, we’ve seen young people struck down with so much of their lives ahead of them.”

The next, his administration is maintaining a stony silence over the murder of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old American born in Denver who was killed by a drone in Yemen in 2011. His father, Anwar (also American), was an Islamist cleric – killed by a drone a few weeks earlier. When asked about the incident during the election campaign, Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and senior adviser to Obama’s re-election campaign, essentially blamed Abdulrahman for having the kind of dad the US wanted to kill. “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the wellbeing of their children.”

On the one hand, we should not be surprised. These contradictions are inherent in the tension between the position to which he was elected and the forces that elected him. For all the global investment in Obama – peaking early, stratospherically and ridiculously, in the Nobel peace prize just nine months after he was voted in – he was elected to represent the interests of the most powerful and well-armed nation on Earth at a time of war. Murder was in the job description of the office he applied for and won to great fanfare. For all the claims of him becoming a great role model for young black men, he was always going to be responsible for the deaths of more innocents than Biggie and Tupac combined.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2004 and 2013 drone strikes have killed up to 893 civilians (including 176 children) in Pakistan, 178 civilians (including 37 children) in Yemen, and 57 civilians (including three children) in Somalia (while these started under Bush they were accelerated under Obama). According to the New York Times, his ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, complained to colleagues that “he didn’t realise his main job was to kill people”, a colleague said.

 

But Obama was returned to office by the votes of – among others – blacks, Latinos, youth and the poor, the very people and communities most likely to be blighted by gun violence. Michelle Obama came to Hadiya’s funeral after considerable pressure had been applied by black communities in Chicago and nationwide. Since the shootings of children at Sandy Hook elementary school Obama has led an audacious push to galvanise a majority, in the country and in Congress, for tougher gun controls.

The unfortunate timing has highlighted the discrepancy between his foreign and domestic policies, exposing them not only as hypocritical but deeply tragic. While shop windows all around Obama’s Chicago home hang posters saying “Stop killing people”, the man they sent to the White House is doing precisely the opposite. Having shown his ability to rally human empathy to progressive causes at home, he then fails to recognise the common humanity of the innocents he is killing abroad.

“[America can be] a moral power,” said Martin Luther King – on whose Bible Obama swore in as president – during the Vietnam war. “A power harnessed to the service of peace and human beings, not an inhumane power unleashed against defenceless people.” That’s as true on the streets of Chicago as it is in the border regions of Pakistan.

 

 

Written FOR

SPECIAL IMAGE IN HONOUR OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND INAUGURATION DAY

 MLK vs BHO
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AN ANNIVERSARY WE WILL NEVER FORGET

As is the custom, memorial candles were lit this week for those slaughtered by Israel in Operation Cast Lead four years ago. An anniversary of mourning, not of joy.
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NEVER TO FORGET
NEVER TO FORGIVE
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4 Years Since Operation Cast Lead

Four years ago today, on 27th December 2008, Israeli Forces launched a large-scale offensive against the Gaza Strip, codenamed Operation Cast Lead. This 23-day long offensive was the most violent offensive since the beginning of Israeli occupation in 1967.

 

1167 Palestinian civilians, the so-called “protected persons” of International Humanitarian Law, were killed during this offensive, including 318 children and 111 women. Moreover, 5,300 Palestinians were wounded, of whom 1,600 were children. In addition, 2,114 houses (2,864 housing units) in the Gaza Strip were completely destroyed while 3,242 houses (5,014 housing units) were rendered uninhabitable, making approximately 50,000 Palestinians homeless. Public and private infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip was systematically targeted and destroyed.Numerous investigations and reports by national and international human rights organizations provided compelling evidence indicating the widespread and systematic violation of international law

 

Four years later the Gaza Strip remains subject to an illegal closure regime, making reconstruction and rehabilitation virtually impossible. The Gaza Strip has been stuck in a time warp, and its civilian population subject to collective punishment.

 

As confirmed by national and international human rights organizations and the UN Committee of Independent Experts established by the Human Rights Council, it is unambiguously clear that all parties have failed to conduct domestic investigations that are prompt, effective, independent, and in conformity with international law. Furthermore, all parties have failed to prosecute suspected perpetrators of crimes under international law. According to the UN Committee of Independent Experts’ report published on 18th March 2011, all parties’ investigations into alleged war crimes have comprehensively failed to meet the requirements of international standards.The Committee found that Israel failed to investigate high-level officials and cover all allegations. It is noted the only concrete result of these procedures have been a 7 month sentence for the theft of a credit card, a 45 day sentence in relation to the killing of two women carrying white flags, and two 3 month suspended sentences for the use of a Palestinian child as a human shield. 

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted 1,046 civil complaints(or “damage applications”) to the Compensation Officer in the Israeli Ministry of Defense ,and approximately 490 criminal complaints (on behalf of 1,046 affected individuals) requesting the opening of an investigation to the Israeli Military Prosecution. However, to date, only a handful of responses denoting the opening of an investigation, or simply acknowledging receipt of the complaint, have been received; media sources have reported that other complaints filed by PCHR have been closed, but this has not been officially communicated.

 

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) affirms that all victims’ legitimate right to an effective remedy must be respected. For too long, the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory has been characterised by systematic violations of international law, and pervasive impunity for these crimes. The result has been an escalating cycle of violence, and it is the civilian populations who have been forced to pay the horrific price.All efforts must be undertaken to ensure justice for all victims.

 

It is essential that the rule of law be restored, and that all suspected violations of international law be investigated, and those responsible held to account.

 

PCHR:

 

1.     Calls upon the State of Palestine to immediately sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to lodge a declaration with the Court’s Registrar under Article 11 (2) and 12 (3) of the Statute, accepting the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court from the date of entry into force of the Statute, 1 July 2002.

2.     Following the accession of Palestine to the Rome Statute, recommends that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court should initiate an investigation propriomotuin to alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity which are committed in Palestine in violation of the Statute, and request an authorization of the Pre-Trial Chamber to proceed with an investigation, pursuant to article 15 of the Statute.

3.     Calls upon the international community to support the efforts of the Palestinian people to seek justice for the violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law through use of the principle of universal jurisdiction.

 

 

Prepared BY

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