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Fighting intensifies before Obama/Kerry visit

Fighting intensifies before Obama/Kerry visit


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India, Pakistan

border fighting

intensifies before

Obama visit


Rather, the daily harassment faced by the fishermen in Gaza…

The old man and the ‘strip and swim’ procedure in Gaza

The Israeli navy harasses Gazan fishermen even within 3-mile limit from shore

By Amira Hass

Gaza fishermen: Twelve were shot at in May by navy, says NGO.

Gaza fishermen: Twelve were shot at in May by navy, says NGO. Photo by Reuters

“Take off your clothes,” ordered the soldier over his megaphone. The old man and his son removed their clothing. “Get into the water,” the soldier continued shouting into the megaphone. The son, 18, entered the water from the fishing skiff and swam over to the Israeli navy gunboat.

Just 45 minutes earlier, when the fishermen were stopped at a distance of 50 meters from the gunboat, the first order had been, “Turn off your engine.” They turned it off. “You and the boy come forward,” the youthful voice ordered them. The man and his son advanced to the boat’s prow. Mohammed Baker, 62, a fisherman since he was 17, said with concern in his voice: “Captain, we are not a danger [to you].”

The young soldier with the megaphone answered: “Shut up.”

But the old man, easily the age of the soldier’s grandfather, continued: “We fish here every day. We have not passed the line.” He was referring to the line from the Gaza shoreline set by the Israeli military for Palestinian fishermen, beyond which they are forbidden to fish.

The soldier repeated into his megaphone: “Shut up. Stop talking.”

The old man and his son stood at the prow for a half-hour. Only when another gunboat approached and stopped were they ordered to strip. The son swam over and climbed onto the gunboat. They soldiers threw a buoy attached to a rope to the father. He climbed down from his boat, his only source of income, as he told me on Sunday by telephone in a voice on the verge of tears.

Holding on to the buoy, he was pulled onto the gunboat. It was 9 o’clock in the morning, May 5. And the day had actually started out well; in an hour-and-a-half of fishing, they had caught two-and-a-half kilos of fish.

This strip-and-swim procedure is carried out several times a month: summer and winter, day and night, hot and cold, old and young, it makes no difference. More often, the gunboats shoot at the fishing skiffs. Al-Mezan, the Gazan human rights organization, has recorded 12 instances in May of the Israeli navy firing live ammunition at fishing boats that set out from the Gazan ports. The navy detained nine fishermen (all of whom were released within 12 hours ) and confiscated four fishing boats and their equipment (which are returned, usually in damaged condition, after about a year ).

Busy month for Navy

On May 30, four fishermen were detained; on May 27, a little before midnight, our forces fired on a fishing boat in the vicinity of Rafah. Our soldiers told the two fishermen, aged 59 and 65, to undress, jump into the water and climb onto the gunboat. The older one was allowed to return to the boat. The second was detained and released the next afternoon. On May 22, our forces fired on a fishing boat near Dir al-Balah. There were no injuries to our soldiers. The enemy hurried to the shore without food or money for his family.

The Oslo Accords permit Gazan fishermen to sail up to 20 nautical miles from shore. In practice, the furthest they were allowed to fish was 12 miles. This was shortened to six miles after 2000, and since the Operation Cast Lead military onslaught conducted by Israel against Gaza during winter 2008/2009, the permissible limit is only three nautical miles.

Yellow buoys mark the line. Some people take the risk and cross it because pickings are slim within the limit, and sewage often reaches this area, raising the chances of pollution. According to the testimony of many fishermen who have acquired GPS navigation systems for the sake of accuracy, the Israeli navy often fires on their boats even when they have not crossed the line.

Compared to earlier months, the attacks grew in May, Al-Mezan reports. The organization surmises that there are two reasons for the escalation of such attacks: to reduce the three-mile limit further, and to supply the Shin Bet security services with people who can be interrogated and pressured for some kind of information.

High blood pressure

And so, after the strip-and-swim procedure, the handcuffed and blindfolded detainees are brought to the pier in Ashdod, according to the testimonies collected by Al-Mezan. They are dressed in disposable pants and shirts, and photographed, but not until their blood pressure and temperature are taken. “High, high,” an examiner reprimanded Baker and referred to his blood pressure. “It’s because of you,” the 62-year-old man said. He and his son were held, handcuffed and blindfolded, for six hours. Afterwards they were taken to what was apparently a Shin Bet facility at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza. There, for the sake of security, our Israeli boys checked them with metal detectors and placed them in a room with a computer and a man in civilian clothing.

One of those interrogated reconstructed the investigation for Al- Mezan: “I told the interrogator that we did not go beyond 2.5 miles, which showed on the GPS, and the officer who detained us had fired without any warning.” The man in civilian clothes answered, “I’m not familiar with the entire sea, and I’m here so that you can help me.” The man in the disposable clothes said: “I can’t help you. I am a fisherman who understands only the language of fishing, and I need someone to help me get back my fishing boat and personal belongings.”

The interrogator asked about the Gaza policemen at the port, and the interrogated answered, “I don’t know about anything except for my boat.” The Israeli said, “You trespassed. Let your government help you.” The Palestinian explained to him that the Oslo Accords say the permitted fishing range is 20 nautical miles. The Israeli had had enough. “Your government should help you. Yalla, get out of here.”

In response, the army spokesman says that security regulations limit sailing because terror organizations make use of the sea, and in order to enforce the regulations, “the navy takes various steps to remove boats that sail beyond permissible limits, including orders to return to shore, and even detainment as needed. According to the rules of engagement, live ammunition is used only as a last resort, and in a considered and cautious manner.”

Written FOR


 Photos © by Bud Korotzer …. No Commentary Necessary…. The following says it all


Shouting To Be Heard

By Cecilie Surasky*

Kurt Hoffman

Some inside the Jewish world have asked why a group of 14 young activists affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace chose to disrupt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America in New Orleans. Five of these young Jews stood up during Netanyahu’s G.A. address to unfurl banners and chant “The occupation delegitimizes Israel” and “The loyalty oath delegitimizes Israel.”

Ours is not the first group to be challenged for choosing tactics of nonviolent direct action. Martin Luther King famously wrote in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: “You may well ask: ‘Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue… Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.”

These young activists went to the heart of the Jewish community to demand that our teachers and rabbis, family members and colleagues stop living in a closed monologue and start living in an open dialogue. Though these activists would have preferred a two-way conversation, the fact is that they, like many before them, had to shout to be heard, to demand that the organized Jewish community confront the truth — that it supports Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation and human rights violations with both money and institutional power.

Jewish Voice for Peace wants open dialogue and debate, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on fairness and equality. That is the only way to a just peace in the Middle East. But the organized Jewish community works overtime to marginalize the voices of Jews — and others — who support equality between Israelis and Palestinians.

And while our struggle within the Jewish world is personal and painful for us, we know that it is actually Palestinians whose voices need and deserve to be heard. A lasting peace will only be possible when Palestinians are seen as truly equal and their claims no longer ignored — whether in Jewish community forums across North America, or at the diplomatic negotiating table with Israel.

Our young people also interrupted Netanyahu’s speech to remind the Jewish community of its bedrock values, too easy to lose sight of in the face of our fears: “That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another.” They wanted to remind us that no conversation about Qassam rockets in Sderot is complete without also discussing settlers in Hebron who hurl feces, urine and stones down on the heads of Palestinians; the denial of 1.5 million Gazans access to adequate food, fuel, health care or housing; the escalated campaign of arrests aimed at nonviolent human rights activists or the dual standards of law in the West Bank.

But this has been a nearly impossible discussion to have. Over the years, there have been countless attempts to cancel events with Palestinian speakers or critics of Israeli policies. San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation even used controversial funding guidelines to limit speech on Israel and prevent organizations it funds from publicly associating with groups like ours.

The institutional Jewish world, however, is losing its battle to act as though we don’t exist. We exist. And like it or not, many in the younger generation are starting to hold and act on views similar to ours.

One member of our team of young Jews is involved in her campus Hillel. One graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary. One is a Jewish educator; one a rabbi. One member, an Israeli, lost sight in one eye at age 17 when he was shot by an Israeli soldier at a protest against the separation barrier. Another is an Israeli army veteran. This group is deeply connected to the Jewish world and wants to stay connected.

It is a shame that in a community that claims to welcome the next generation, these young people felt they needed to shout to be heard. When the Jewish world truly listens — not just to these young Jews but also to Palestinians — there will be no more need for disruptions.

*Cecilie Surasky is deputy director of Jewish Voice for Peace.



us war crimes

Yesterday I wrote a piece about the control AIPAC has over US foreign policy. But, I did not go into other particulars as to why the US House of Representatives voted against the Goldstone Report.

After speaking to one of my Associates over at Uruknet, the following ideas surfaced…
First of all, US war crimes are far worse than the Israeli ones….. this is an indisputable FACT.

1,400 Gazans were brutally murdered by Israeli forces in the Gaza War….(mostly civilians).
In the War in Iraq, to date over 1, 300,000 Iraqis have been killed…. and continue to be killed on a daily basis.

The US continues to kill innocent civilians, INCLUDING CHILDREN, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are ongoing holocausts that remain uncondemned by the United Nations. There has not been, nor will there most likely ever be a Goldstone type report dealing with the war crimes committed by the US and NATO.

There has been much vocal support for the Goldstone Report from pro-Palestinian and anti-zionist groups. Anti-war groups and intellectuals have added their voices of support for the passing of the Report…. but nowhere has there been a call for the same type of investigation to be held dealing with the war crimes committed by the United States…. NOWHERE! This silence allows the crimes to continue, while only exposing and condemning Israel’s crimes, the US is literally getting away scott free with the ones they commit.

The civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are under constant threat. They too must be protected against the most powerful war machine in the world….. until then, the US will continue to condone  lesser crimes as a matter of conscience….. A GUILTY ONE!

Thanks to Paola Pisi, of Uruknet, for collaborating on this piece with me.


Pakistan being dragged by Obama’s War on Terror

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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‘The Never Ending Story’…….

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Image by Bendib

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff’

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