Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights’

IDF troops attacked on board Mavi Marmara Israeli right-wing human rights group Shurath ha-Deen (aka Israel Law Center) sent an official letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting the latter to start an investigation into US-based ‘Free Gaza’ movement. The group that led an assault on IDF soldier on board the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ last week, backs Gaza-based Hamas and harshly criticized Israel, with some comments bordering on anti-Semitism:

The Free Gaza organization is providing military assistance to Hamas by attempting to break the Israeli blockade while Hamas continues its attacks on Israeli civilians, Darshan-Leitner said. In doing so, it is taking part in attacking a state friendly to America – a violation of the U.S. Neutrality Act (18 U.S.C. 960).

The Neutrality Act states, “Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the United States is at peace, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both." ( Channel 7 News )

FREE GAZA IS known for its anti-Israel stand. As the group set sail for Gaza, it was asked to transfer a package to Israeli POW Gilad Shalit, in exchange for Shalit family’s official support for the sail. The group refused. Later, the group posted a set of testimonies of their website, calling them ‘Survivor testimonies’. According to the radical group, IDF soldiers used violence on all ships, although no evidence of such on vessels other than Mavi Marmara was produces. Moreover, all testimonies discard IDF-posted videos and pictures, illustrating heavily skewed picture. Among other things, the activists claimed the soldiers used live fire prior to landing on the ship and at the moment of touchdown itself. However, Free Gaza failed to explain why its activists are seen strolling on all decks of Mavi Marmara, if the ship was indeed under live fire.

On its Flickr photo stream, the group published most flattering images of themselves, picturing the activists caring for the injured soldiers. Missing from the stream are other pictures – where troops are seen injured, on the floor, with persons holding them at knifepoint. It is propaganda at its best.

Best testimony to Free Gaza’s fervent anti-Israel stance is the GPS map posted on its co-website, WitnessGaza:

GPS map posted on WitnessGaza.Com

Capture2 The map fully ignores Israel (as well as the West Bank and Gaza, for that matter), but details borders and cities in Jordan and Lebanon. The logo promoting the website is a blunt propaganda, showing IDF troops assaulting the ships (from Mi-26, surprisingly), with activists pulling the injured. Unsurprisingly, there’s no evidence of relentless beating the soldiers endured onboard.

 

In the meanwhile, Israel seems to enjoy support in the United States, an additional incentive for Eric Holder, who constantly takes flak over various issues and enjoys relatively little popularity among the American people.

In a most recent expression of such support, Democrat John Kerry countered critics’ accusations of Israel being a ‘liability’ for the US. Democrat Chuck Schumer sent a letter to US Secretary of State Clinton, asking the State Department to investigate linkage between organizations backing the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and various terror groups:

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a key player in US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, said that "there are obviously tensions with respect to certain policies" but that Israel "has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza."

Schumer demanded that the adminisration examine whether IHH provided financial, logistic and material support to any organization included the State Department’s list of terror groups.
According to the senator, IHH funded terror organizations and send rebels to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. He also called for a probe into a French judge’s claim that IHH was involved in an attempt to bomb the Los Angeles Airport in late 1999. ( Ynet )

Fueling further backing of Israeli by Obama administration, recent Rasmussen poll shows only 19% of Americans believing Israel should bear blame for grave outcome of IDF’s Marmara boarding. 32% were not sure, while staggering 49% defended Israel’s actions.

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In an unsurprising piece of news today, Amnesty International – a group notorious for its pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel stance – blamed the Americans and the Europeans for ‘shielding’ Israel over its ‘war crimes’ during operation Cast Lead. Probably feeling it failed to pressure Israel into anything substantive with its one-sided views and reports bordering on propaganda, Amnesty shifts its view towards the ‘sponsors’:

In its report, Amnesty lauded a United Nations commissioned report released last year by South African justice Richard Goldstone for highlighting Israeli violations during the war in Gaza. Goldstone’s findings found both Israel and Hamas guilty of war crimes during the conflict.

"Israeli forces committed war crimes and other serious breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip during a 22-day military offensive codenamed Operation ‘Cast Lead’ that ended on 18 January (2009)," the rights group said.

(Haaretz)

AMNESTY ATTEMPTS TO portray its side of the battle as pragmatic, by pointing out Richard Goldstone’s ‘insistence’ on investigating both Israel and Hamas during his UN-approved visit to the area:

"In a display of counter political bias, the UN Human Rights Council, initially resolved to investigate only alleged Israeli violations," said the report. "To his credit, Judge Richard Goldstone, subsequently appointed to lead that investigation, insisted that the UN Fact-Finding Mission should examine alleged violations by both Israel and Hamas."

Amnesty, of course, fails to mention that Richard Goldstone investigated 38 specific IDF operations during Cast Lead and exactly 0 Hamas operations during same period.

However, Amnesty’s report goes much farther into speculation and defamation, by attacking Israel for – among others – assaulting Gazan medical personnel, specifically pointing out none of the medics were part of military units. However, as Elder of Ziyon blog points out, this is far from being true:

What I do know is that at least two thirds of the medical staff killed in Gaza were members of terrorist groups:

Azmi Abu Dallal. medic, was a member of the Nuseirat Battalion of the Al Qassam Brigades.

Ahmed Al-Khatib, nurse, was a field commander of the Popular Resistance Committees.

Mohammed Abu Hassir, medic, was a fighter for the Al Qassam Brigades.

PCHR lists a total of 15 medics, nurses and physicians killed in Cast Lead.  14 out of the 15 were members of Hamas’ military medical services. Ten of them were members of terrorist groups that NGOs pretend had nothing to do with Hamas.

(Elder of Ziyon)

Amnesty International goes further, claiming 4 out of 5 Gazan civilians depend on foreign humanitarian aid to survive:

"Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law," according to the human rights group.

(Ynet)

Before we go any further, I believe we should illustrate the horrible concentration camp that is Gaza – particularly the poverty and lack of food:

Starving Palestinians dying on streets of Gaza Starving Palestinians dying on streets of Gaza Starving Palestinians dying on streets of Gaza 

In addition, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, did a good job of rounding up some facts for the reader, underscoring the starvation in Gaza:

Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza. Millions of dollars worth of international food aid continually flows through the Israeli humanitarian apparatus, ensuring that there is no food shortage in Gaza.

In the first quarter of 2010 (January-March), 94,500 tons of supplies were transferred in 3,676 trucks to the Strip: 48,000 tons of food products; 40,000 tons of wheat; 2,760 tons of rice; 1,987 tons of clothes and footwear; 553 tons of milk powder and baby food.

In 2009 alone, 10,544 patients and their companions left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel. Moreover, there were 382 emergency evacuations from Gaza for medical purposes.

The Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem donates $3 million in aid annually to treat Palestinians in Israel. Following fears of a swine flu outbreak, three Israeli hospitals were assigned to treat cases in the Gaza Strip and 44,500 immunizations were transferred to the Strip.

According to the UN report of May 2010, 120 megawatts (over 70%) of the Strip’s electricity supply comes from the Israeli electric grid, while 17 MWs come from Egypt and 30 MWs are produced by the Gaza city power station. Since January 2010, there has been deterioration in the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip since the Hamas regime is unwilling to purchase the fuel to run the Gaza City power station.

(MFA)

While it is certain life in Gaza is not an apple pie, it certainly is far from what Palestinian Rights Groups claim it to be. Moreover, Amnesty International and the likes, fail to criticize Hamas government, which used its military power to seize control of Gaza and impose a religious Muslim regime on Gazans, including attacks on Gaza’s Christians. While Israel allows passage of goods into Gaza – albeit, in a somewhat limited fashion – PRGs never voice criticism over Ismail Haniyeh’s violent rule, him doing his part to silence vox populi.

Former Czech president laments Human Rights Council

Posted: May 12, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in United Nations
Tags:

vaclav_havel

FORMER PRESIDENT OF the Czech Republic – Vaclav Havel – wrote an excellent op-ed for the New York times today, mostly expressing sorrow for lack of determination among Western nations to take their rightful place in UN’s Human Rights Council – leaving the job to Cuba, Zimbabwe, and the likes. UNHRC, Havel says, asserted it would change, just three years ago; it did not do so.

The council was supposed to be different. For the first time, countries agreed to take human rights records into account when voting for the council’s members, and those member-states that failed to, in the words of the founding resolution, “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” would find themselves up for review and their seats endangered. For victims of human rights abuses and advocates for human rights worldwide, the reforms offered the hope of a credible and effective body.

In past years, Western countries encouraged rights-respecting states from other regions to compete for election. This year, they have ceded the high ground by presenting a non-competitive slate for the council elections. New Zealand withdrew when the United States declared its candidacy, leaving just three countries — Belgium, Norway and the United States — running for three seats.

Like the citizens of Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia, I know what it is like to live in a country where the state controls public discourse, suppresses opposition and severely curtails freedom of expression. It is thus doubly dismaying for me to see the willingness of democracies in Latin America and Asia to sit by and watch the council further lose its credibility and respect.

This article gives reader a new perspective on US President’s pledge to re-join the Human Rights Council earlier this year. The US, however, cannot – and should not – do this job alone. It is certainly true that the current situation is ludicrous, where states, that constantly violate human rights of their citizen, use HRC as a platform to launch attacks on others. The HRC should change. However, it will take strong will of UN’s chiefs in order to do that. Judging by the ‘chief of chiefs’ – Secretary General Ban Ki Moon – it is not going to happen any time soon.

(via politinfo)

George BisharatMeet George Bisharat, currently a professor at the UC Hastings College of Law. Bisharat was born in 1954 in Kansas, to a Palestinian family from Jerusalem, eventually earning BA in Berkeley and MA in Georgetown. Later, Bisharat studied in Harvard, and assumed position of professor of law at University of California. Bisharat is an author of ‘Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule: Law and Disorder in the West Bank’, worked with Palestinian Legislative Council and on editorial board of Journal of Palestine Studies.

I believe the above gives us clear understanding of Bisharat’s allegiance; however, it is also clear he is a smart man. Bisharat criticized Israel’s conduct in 2006 Second Lebanon War, pushes for the boycott of Israel, alleges Israel’s conduct in 2008 Gaza campaign constitutes war crimes and an avid supporter of a one-state solution (read: Israel ceases being a Jewish state).

In a recent op-ed published by the New York Times, Bisharat presents us with a real problem, while using unsubstantiated claims to promote his point. Starting with

CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions.

The ‘Hearsaygate‘, which we discussed in length last month, cannot be used as substantiation to anything, as both soldiers eventually admitted hearsay and rumors, rather than actual witness to the events described. Thus, Bisharat is being dishonest from the top, by attributing any value to ‘testimonies’. By the way, Israeli Palestinian Rights Groups such as Betzelem and Yesh Din were – and are – doing their best, together with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, to unearth more testimonies and allegations of murder of innocent Gazans – months after the operation, they still have no facts at hand.

Bisharat also tries to distance himself from the issue of Hamas’ rocket fire, by stating: “rocket attacks…also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions”. Let us be clear on the issue: there would be no ‘Israel’s transgressions’ if terror from Gaza would stop. Since 2001, thousands of rockets were fired into Israel, with only one reason for very few Israeli casualties: every new house built in Israel has a secure bomb shelter. Every street has a bomb shelter. Israelis prepare themselves for war, and it always comes. Bisharat never blames Palestinian governments for lack of civilian protective infrastructure – it is much easier to blame Israel for that.

Bisharat goes on with a list:

Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.

Bisharat and the likes would expect Israel to open up entire Gaza to everyone – while it is under control of both Fatah and Hamas, both of which actively fight Israel. While Bisharat considers Gaza’s position in 2005 as ‘still occupied’ – it should be viewed for what it is: Gaza just relinquished occupying forces and Gazans should now start to build a society. Bisharat obviously fails to mention that during Israel disengagement, Gazans were still firing rockets into Israel, and as soon as Israel left, Gazans renewed efforts to smuggle weapons and explosives – especially after Hamas took power in Gaza by rounding up Fatah activists and shooting them. Bisharat also fails to mention that ‘evil Israel’ allowed fleeing Fatah men to move to West Bank, as well as gave medical assistance to their families.

Imposing collective punishment in the form of a blockade, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In June 2007, after Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed suffocating restrictions on trade and movement. The blockade — an act of war in customary international law — has helped plunge families into poverty, children into malnutrition, and patients denied access to medical treatment into their graves. People in Gaza thus faced Israel’s winter onslaught in particularly weakened conditions.

Let us get the facts straight for this one too: nowadays, every action of a government against another government could be labeled as ‘collective punishment’. Do US’s sanctions against North Korea constitute ‘collective punishment’? For example, US imposed a ban on satellite parts made in US reaching North Korea, effectively meaning most communications companies would not be able to launch their satellites from North Korea, whose government asks for much lower prices than most other countries. Could this also be a ‘collective punishment’? Sure as hell could – North Korean economy suffers lack of monetary influx, thus hurting all North Koreans. World’s sanctions against Iran, for example, are also ‘collective punishment’, as Iran’s economy suffers due to the sanctions, making people suffer as well.

My point: you cannot effectively pressure any government into anything (like surrendering its genocidal goal) without eventually affecting civilians under that government. It is not possible. Gazan terrorist organizations never stopped firing into Israel – at first, at Israeli settlements within Gaza; then – at Israeli cities and towns within Israeli territory. How do you fight rocket launches without imposing some sort of blockade on Gaza? Even with the blockade up and running, Hamas managed to smuggle dozens of tons of explosives since operation ‘Cast Lead’ – quadruple that number without Israel’s and Egypt’s barrier.

Mr. Bisharat also never mentions Egypt in his article, even though Egypt is just as active in blockading Gaza as Israel.

Deliberately attacking civilian targets. The laws of war permit attacking a civilian object only when it is making an effective contribution to military action and a definite military advantage is gained by its destruction. Yet an Israeli general, Dan Harel, said, “We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings.” An Israeli military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, avowed that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”

Israeli fire destroyed or damaged mosques, hospitals, factories, schools, a key sewage plant, institutions like the parliament, the main ministries, the central prison and police stations, and thousands of houses.

I think George Bisharat missed those videos released by the IDF, where terrorists can be seen using civilian infrastructure for fighting – such as schools, homes, mosques, UN installations, and others. It is also important to know that Hamas used civilian infrastructure – like houses – to trap Israeli troops, by planting explosives and booby-trapping entire structures, thus destroying a booby-trapped houses constitutes ‘an effective contribution to military action’ by saving dozens of lives of soldiers (tactics of booby-trapping buildings were widely used by Palestinians in Jenin refugee camp and by Hizb Allah in 2005. IDF learned its lessons from these operations.)

Willfully killing civilians without military justification. When civilian institutions are struck, civilians — persons who are not members of the armed forces of a warring party, and are not taking direct part in hostilities — are killed.

Bisharat bases his opinions on amount of Gazan civilians killed on report by Richard Falk – the person who compares Israel’s actions to these of Nazis – clearly a disproportionate response on part of Falk.. The numbers of Gazan civilian deaths are highly disputed, with some Gazans even arguing deaths were as low as 600 – most of them Hamas terrorists. In Gaza, most terrorists wear civilian clothing in order to blend with civilian population, thus I can hardly understand how Bisharat – being a professional – straightforwardly believes told numbers.

Later, Bisharat says IDF troops shot at corners of building to warn the civilians. Bisharat apparently forgot IDF also phoned Gazan citizens, dropped leaflets, and used TV and radio stations to warn civilians of danger. What can I say, even if you are a professor, your memory does not have to be perfect.

Deliberately employing disproportionate force. Last year, Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, head of Israel’s northern command, speaking on possible future conflicts with neighbors, stated, “We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction.” Such a frank admission of illegal intent can constitute evidence in a criminal prosecution.

Such ‘evidence’ would not be seriously considered by any court. Why? For two reasons: a) the world community is yet to define ‘disproportionate force’; b) a statement by a commander of Israel’s Northern command has nothing to do with Southern command, responsible for Gaza.

Illegal use of weapons, including white phosphorus. Israel was finally forced to admit, after initial denials, that it employed white phosphorous in the Gaza Strip, though Israel defended its use as legal. White phosphorous may be legally used as an obscurant, not as a weapon, as it burns deeply and is extremely difficult to extinguish.

Regrettably for George Bisharat, actual evidence of Israel using munitions illegally is yet to be presented to us all.

Last, but not least, Bisharat writes that Israeli ‘political and military personnel’ responsible for Gaza operation should be brought to justice. I wish he would also call for Hamas terrorists to be tried for war crimes. Sadly, George Bisharat does not care for Hamas’ violence. He has his own interest. It would be interesting to know if parents to students of UC understand the degree of objectivity this professor brings to his teachings.

‘Yesh Din’ tries to look fair, fails

Posted: March 24, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Human Rights, IDF, Israel, Palestinians
Tags:

Israeli soldier and a Palestinian womanAn activist for ‘Yesh Din’ ‘human rights group’, Elhanan Miller, tries to make us – the simple people – understand the ‘human right groups’ – just like ‘Yesh Din’ – are actually a good thing, rather than bad. Miller tries to defend his organization by answer to three ‘most important’ questions:

a) “The most vociferous countries criticizing Israel are terrible human rights violators. Their hypocritical behaviour is shameful!”

b) “Exposing Israel’s faults in the media is wrong because it will harm its image abroad and even cause Anti-Semitism.”

c) “Israeli human rights organizations receive funds from foreign countries intent on harming Israel”.

We can certainly tell Miller “Nice try”, as miller misses the most important question: “Why do Israeli HRGs harshly criticize Israel – including release critical reports to international media – while rarely criticizing Fatah and Hamas, including serious lack of investigation of Palestinian claims in many cases? How come Israeli HRGs are highly critical of the IDF, based on Palestinian accounts, while rarely – if ever – contacting the soldiers themselves to understand what exactly happened?” That is one of the most important questions, while Miller never mentions.

Nice try.

Palestinian worker (illustration)

Palestinian worker (illustration)

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (similar to US’s ACLU) is blaming local council of Har Adar town, near Jerusalem, of racism, following publishing of an order forbidding Palestinian workers from trespassing around the town. Instead, they are allowed to be driven only by the contractor hiring them from the entrance to the town to their workplace or any other location inside the town.

While at one hand I could understand why the ACRI would blame the HA council for racism – without considering anything, it definitely looks like racism, even to me. However, it is important to remember that in quite a few cases since 2000, unsupervised – or hardly supervised – Palestinian workers have attacked Israelis, which is exactly the situation Har Adar council tries to prevent, as Palestinian workers, holding hostile intentions, roaming around the town, could attack civilians (while at working sites there is at least one armed guard).

Attorney Limor Yehuda of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is infuriated by this matter. In a letter sent to the community’s council she determined that a local council like Har Adar has no authority to issue such orders against Palestinian workers.

“This is a racist instruction based on a general fear of Arabs, which is reminiscent of dark days in the history of mankind,” she wrote.

Attorney Limor Yehuda prefers to forget previous cases of attacks, instead focusing on Palestinians’ human rights. That is okay – the workers are also people, they do have their rights. However, Yehuda should be blaming Palestinians terror groups as well for creating an image of ‘dangerous Palestinian’ who might use his work tool to attack civilian targets.