Friday, February 20, 2009

'Israel is run by war criminals'

Prominent Canadians speak out against the war on Gaza: Judith Weisman (video)

Medea Benjamin, Alternet: What I saw was like a form of collective punishment, leaving behind a trail of grieving mothers, angry fathers and traumatized children. To get a sense of the devastation, [see] Gaza: Massacre of Children... Anyone who can view the slides and still repeat the mantra that 'Israel has the right to self-defense' or 'Hamas brought his upon its own people,' or worse yet, 'the Israeli military didn't go far enough,' does a horrible disservice not only to the Palestinian people, but to humanity...

'The message,' I can report, has been received. It is a message that Israel is run by war criminals, that the lives of Palestinians mean nothing to them... How tragic that a nation born out of the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust has become a nation that supports the slaughter of Palestinians.

AFP: US Democratic representatives Brian Baird and Keith Ellison expressed shock at the plight of the war-shattered Gaza Strip... 'The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering,' Baird said... 

Ellison harshly criticized restrictions on the delivery of desperately needed goods into the coastal strip that has been under a crippling Israeli blockade... 'People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in. The stories about the children affected me the most. No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw there.'

Baird said the situation he saw was 'shocking and troubling beyond words. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, of entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching.'

In the bombed-out Gaza Strip, schooling, already hit by a shocking Israeli siege, has become a greater struggle after three weeks of massive bombing and attacks that left dozens of schools in ruins and students too traumatized to learn. More than 37 primary and secondary schools in Gaza were destroyed or damaged in three weeks of Israeli air, sea and land attacks. Gaza's 521 schools have been forced to operate morning and afternoon shifts of no more than four hours each to accommodate 450,000 students, many of them suffering from post-war trauma.

Amira Hass, Haaretz: During and after the operation in Gaza, there were a number of reports about people (including women and children) who were shot at by soldiers while trying to escape and waving white flags... Local and international organizations are investigating them in the context of preparing complaints and lawsuits against the IDF.

Sameh Habeeb and Janet Zimmerman, Al-Ahram Weekly: 'The soldiers were eating chips and chocolate, and they were smiling when they killed my daughters. My mother, my wife and my three daughters all held white flags when they tried to leave the house.'... When asked why he thought they would kill his children, Abed Rabbo replied, 'I am certain they were drunk or were given orders to kill everyone including the children. This was on Haaretz a couple of days ago, that many Israeli rabbis were giving orders to leave no one alive... I know if I go to the court about what happened the Israeli army would create thousands of pretexts to make their soldiers appear innocent. They have done this with many other cases before.'

McClatchy: Eight other residents in this northern Gaza Strip neighborhood told McClatchy in separate interviews that Israeli soldiers had conscripted them to check homes for booby traps, to smash holes in the walls of houses so that soldiers could use them as escape routes or to try to pull dead Palestinian militants from the rubble... 'The testimony seems pretty extensive and presents grave suspicions that Israeli soldiers forced Palestinians to perform dangerous tasks,' said B'Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli. 'And the fact that we're seeing these allegations on such a wide scale leads us to suspect that this was policy and not the decisions of one or two random soldiers.'
Image source here.