themcglynn.com

03 Jan

Gaza

Caution: Some videos should not be viewed by the young.

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Massacre of a family seeking sanctuary

The Samounis claim they were guided to a safe haven by Israeli troops – only to be cut down by shells

By Donald Macintyre and Said Ghazali in Jerusalem and Fares Akram in Gaza
Saturday, 10 January 2009

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Bitterly cold, famished, and thirsty they may have been. But the dozens of men, women, children and elderly of the extended Samouni family, sheltering in the unfinished warehouse-like building owned by one of their relatives, at least felt relatively secure.

Some explain that Israeli troops had explicitly told them to remain in the building – in several cases after actually escorting them there. They were relieved to wake to find the neighbourhood quiet for the first time since the ground offensive had began 36 hours earlier. So much so, according to one of them, that some time after 6am, four of the men decided to set out and bring an uncle and his family to their refuge.

It was then, survivors say, that the greatest of all the horrors visited on the Zeitoun district of eastern Gaza City occurred. A shell hit the little group, killing 27-year-old Muhammad instantly, and injuring the other three still lingering at the door.

According to 19-year-old Maysaa, a second shell or missile fell on the building’s roof with such force that she would in hindsight assume it came from an Israeli F-16. At the time she lay down with her nine-month-old daughter Jumana under her, listening to the screams of those around her, as the structure filled with smoke and dust. When the smoke began to clear, she looked around and saw what she says were between 20 and 30 bodies, and 20 wounded. The dead included her own husband Tawfiq, her father-in-law Rashed, who “was hit in the head and whose brain was on the floor”, and a five-month-old baby “whose whole brain was outside his body”…………………………………

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Video from The Guardian, UK

Why Did Israel Bomb Gaza School?

“The Israeli army is briefing diplomats privately that the militant fire from Jablia yesterday did not come from inside the UNRWA school compound, but from the outside,” said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief Works Agency.

We sit safe,
comfortable,
in our living rooms,
Removed,
Daring to judge.
Fearing,
To speak out.

By Maureen M

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For Arab Clan, Days of Agony in a Cross-Fire

By TAGHREED EL-KHODARY and ISABEL KERSHNER, January 10, 2009, NYT

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Palestinians set down the bodies of two members of the Samouni family during a funeral in Gaza City on Monday.

GAZA — Israel’s attack has razed buildings and upended families in much of crowded Gaza. But few neighborhoods suffered more than Zeitoun, a district of eastern Gaza City. And few families felt the wrath of the Israeli military more than the Samounis.

Israeli troops swarmed Zeitoun shortly after the ground invasion of Gaza began a week ago, and members of the extended Samouni family said they were moved from house to house as soldiers took over the neighborhood. On Monday, with nearly 100 Samounis huddled together in one house, the shooting and the shelling began, according to accounts of family members and witnesses that were partly corroborated by the Red Cross and the United Nations.

Thirty Samounis died, not all of them quickly. Ahmed al-Samouni, 16, survived.

“I could feel the blood dripping inside my head,” Ahmed said, recalling the days he lay wounded in the bombed-out building. “My father was crawling — he couldn’t move his legs,” he said. His cousin Abdallah, 10, was trying to stand up but kept falling down; his brother Yaqoub, 12, kept removing large pieces of shrapnel from his own stomach; and his sister Amal, 9, was not moving at all. Another brother, Ishaq, 12, was wounded in the legs. He bled for two days before he died.

Ahmed, speaking from his hospital bed, said he wanted to call for help. But his mother, Laila, was among the dead, and her cellphone was nowhere to be found.

The story of the Samouni family has horrified many since Red Cross officials on Wednesday publicized their discovery of four emaciated Samouni children trapped for days in a home with the corpses of their mothers. The Red Cross said the Israeli military denied its paramedics access to the area for several days after the ground invasion began on Jan. 3, part of the offensive against Hamas that Israel says is intended to stop the firing of rockets into southern Israel.

Israeli officials said they were still looking into the Zeitoun episode. A military spokeswoman, Maj. Avital Leibovich, said Monday that the army had “no intention of harming civilians.” Hamas, which governs Gaza, “cynically uses” civilians for cover by operating in their midst, she said.

But some international aid officials are arguing that the plight of civilians in Zeitoun, as well as the shelling of a United Nations school where civilians had sought refuge, should be investigated as war crimes.

“Accountability must be ensured for violations of international law,”

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Israel Tells Gazans: Prepare For Escalation Of Military Offensive

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel pounded rocket sites and tunnels Saturday while its planes dropped leaflets warning of an escalation, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas predicted a “waterfall of blood” unless all parties adhere to the U.N.’s call for a durable cease-fire.

Hamas fighters kept up attacks on southern Israel, launching 15 rockets. And with neither side ready to step down, the death toll in two weeks of fighting rose to more than 800 Palestinians, according to Palestinian medical officials, and 13 Israelis.

Flames and smoke rose over Gaza City amid heavy fighting.

Diplomacy was not finished, but it appeared to be in retreat following both sides’ defiance of Thursday’s U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a halt to fighting. Struggling to keep peace efforts alive, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak invited representatives of Gaza’s Hamas rulers to Egypt for further talks on his cease-fire initiative.

Defying the international calls for a cease-fire, Israel threatened to launch a “new phase” in its offensive.

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‘We Are Very Violent’: Israeli War Crimes Mount

By Jonathan Cook, AlterNet
Posted on January 10, 2009

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Criticism by international watchdog groups over the increasing death toll in Gaza mounted this week as the first legal actions inside Israel were launched accusing the army of intentionally harming the enclave’s civilian population.

The petitions — over attacks on medical personnel and the shelling of United Nations schools in Gaza — follow statements by senior Israeli commanders that they have been using heavy firepower to protect soldiers during their advance on built-up areas. “We are very violent,” one told Israeli media.

There is also growing evidence that Israeli forces have been firing phosphorus shells over densely populated areas in a move that risks violating international law by inflicting burns on civilians.

The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, meanwhile, called the events in Gaza a “new Nakba”, referring to the catastrophe that dispossessed the Palestinians in 1948. The Palestinian Authority revealed that it was planning to seek the prosecution of Israel’s leaders for war crimes in the international courts.

The legal challenges follow a wave of Israeli attacks on schools, universities, mosques, hospitals and ambulances in the past few days. The army claims the attacks are justified because the sites are being used by Hamas fighters.

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Every citizen of the world should watch this.

Misrepresent, misinterpret, abstract,generalize, depersonalize and make sure you don’t see the others as people. Then you can justify anything.

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United Nations Halts Aid Deliveries

IBRAHIM BARZAK and STEVE WEIZMAN  AP

January 8, 2009

JERUSALEM — The United Nations halted aid deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday, citing Israeli attacks on its staff and installations hours after it said tank fire killed one of its drivers as he went to pick up a shipment.

The United Nations has already demanded an investigation into Israel’s shelling of a U.N. school in Gaza that killed nearly 40 people earlier this week. Israel and residents said militants were operating in the area at the time.

For a second straight day, Israel suspended its Gaza military operation for three hours to allow in humanitarian supplies. Shortly before the pause took effect, however, the U.N. said one of its aid trucks came under Israeli fire, killing the driver.

U.N. spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said the U.N. coordinated the delivery with Israel, and the vehicle was marked with a U.N. flag and insignia when it was shot in northern Gaza. The Israeli army said it was investigating.

“The U.N. is suspending its aid operations in Gaza until we can get safety and security guarantees for our staff,” spokesman Chris Gunness said. “We’ve been coordinating with them (Israeli forces) and yet our staff continue to be hit and killed.”

The U.N. provides food aid to around 750,000 Gaza residents, and runs dozens of schools and clinics throughout the territory. They have some 9,000 locally-employed staffers inside Gaza, and a small team of international staffers who work there.

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More children among Gaza dead

Palestinian children are increasingly among the dead as the Gaza death toll continues to rise.

One man has lost his entire family – including his wife, child, parents and cousins – after a single attack.

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The Death of a Boy (Not for viewing by young audiences)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

January 5, 2009

Palestinian medical officials say the death toll from an Israeli airstrike outside a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip has risen to 30.

The attack occurred about 10 yards (meters) outside the school in northern Gaza. It was the second deadly Israeli attack to strike a UN school in the past few hours.

Hospital director Bassam Abu Warda confirmed the 30 deaths from the second airstrike.

In both cases, the schools had been used as shelters for people displaced by Israel’s offensive against Hamas militants. More than 500 people have been killed in the 11-day operation, including many civilians.

Who Do You Believe?

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United States Blocks Cease-Fire

UNITED NATIONS — The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas.

U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week’s council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement at this time “would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, would not do credit to the council.”

Again our country remains silent when the innocents are killed. Women, children, innocent people of all ages.

I doubt if those in Gaza will ever forgive our silence. We do not deserve their forgiveness.

And to the litttle people of Gaza, I am sorry we are failing you.

All I can say is that, for many of us, you have been and always will be in our hearts.

The McGlynn

Tel Aviv rally decries Gaza assault

By Rachel Shabi in Tel Aviv

Amid cries of “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!” and banners reading, “Enough!” thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest against the country’s war on Gaza.

Protesters called for an immediate end to the Israeli attacks, in which more than 450 Palestinians have been killed and around 2,100 injured since air assaults on Gaza began last Saturday.

Organisers, a coalition of groups such as Gush Shalom, the Hadash party and the Coalition of Women for Peace, were encouraged by the turnout.

“We have experience from the last war, in Lebanon, and this time the public outcry is much quicker and much bigger,” said veteran Gush Shalom campaigner Uri Avnery.

“It is a cynical war, for political reasons and people are very much aware of that.”

Palestinian-Israelis who demonstrated alongside Jewish co-nationalists waved the Palestinian flag, as police attempt to ban such a practice before the protest was overruled by the Israeli high court.

Earlier on Saturday, about 10,000 demonstrators, predominantly Palestinian-Israelis, protested in the northern Galilee village of Sakhnin.

Many of the demonstrators expressed a desire show another side of the Israeli equation amid overwhelming public support for the current attack

B’Tselem questions Israeli account of attack

Note: This video will be available until censored.

The McGlynn

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