March 27, 2009

BBC: UN criticises Israelis over Gaza

Posted in General Gaza Updates tagged , , , , , , at 11:36 am by Alexia

 I wanted to make sure this wasn’t forgotten.

 UN human rights investigators have questioned the legality of Israel’s Gaza offensive in a wide-ranging report to the UN Human Rights Council.

One investigator, Richard Falk, asked how a military assault with modern weapons could have been made “against an essentially defenceless society”.

The report found civilians appeared to “have taken the brunt of the attacks” with schools and clinics also hit.

Israel has accused Council members of seeking to “demonise” it.

 

Many international organisations have raised concerns about possible war crimes during the three-week offensive, which ended on 18 January.

An Israeli rights group has also criticised Israel for hitting medics and impeding medical evacuations.

The Israeli military says it is investigating specific claims of abuses and argues that it did its utmost to protect civilians during a conflict in which militants operated from populated civilian areas.

‘One-sided’ fight

Because Mr Falk, a UN human rights investigator, was unable to enter the Palestinian territories, his latest findings focus on the legality of Israel’s January operation in Gaza in general, rather than on specific cases or claims that disproportionate force was used.

 

Mr Falk argued that in order to determine if the war was legal, it was necessary to assess whether Israeli forces could differentiate between civilian and military targets in Gaza.

“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful, and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law,” he said in Geneva.

“The overall ratio of deaths, 1,434 on the Palestinian side, 13 on the Israeli side, is suggestive of the one-sidedness of the military encounter,” he added.

Gaza’s borders were closed, he stressed, so civilians were unable to flee the fighting.

Mr Falk called for an independent inquiry to examine possible war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas.

He also suggested that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was in violation of the Geneva Conventions and must be lifted.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN secretary general’s special representative for children and armed conflict, cited a long series of incidents to back her charges, in her report to the UN Human Rights Council.

In one, she said, Israeli soldiers shot a father after ordering him out of his house and then opened fire into the room where the rest of the family was sheltering, wounding the mother and three brothers and killing a fourth.

‘Demonising Israel’

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Aharon Leshno Yar, said the report “wilfully” ignored and downplayed terrorist and other threats faced by Israel

The 43-page document was, he added, part of a pattern of “demonising Israel” in the Council.

Israeli authorities denied entry to Mr Falk last December, when he attempted to conduct his regular investigative mission to the Palestinian territories.

Israel was angered by a series of comments he had made accusing it of war crimes and comparing its actions in Gaza to Nazi Germany in World War II.

On Monday, the Israeli organisation Physicians for Human Rights released a report saying Israel had violated international law and ethics codes during the Gaza operation.

It accused Israeli forces of “attacks on medical personnel, damage to medical facilities and indiscriminate attacks on civilians not involved in the fighting”.

January 24, 2009

24 January 2009 – BBC/Gaza Rally. Tony Benn’s Speech outside the BBC

Posted in demonstration information, PSC Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:55 pm by Alexia

Embargo: 1.30 pm, Saturday 24 January 2009

Press Release

THE RT HON TONY BENN SPEAKING AT A MEETING OUTSIDE THE BBC BROADCASTING HOUSE, PORTLAND PLACE, SAID THIS AFTERNOON [SAT JAN 24]:

“The decision of the BBC to refuse to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, which has left aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations, is a betrayal of the obligation which it owes as a public service.

“The destruction in Gaza and the loss of the lives of over a thousand civilians and children, has shocked the world as Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, made clear, when he saw the devastation for himself.

“The human suffering that the people of Gaza has experienced over the last few weeks has appalled people who have seen it for themselves on their television screens.

“To deny the help that the aid agencies and the UN need at this moment in time is incomprehensible and it follows the bias in BBC reporting of this crisis, which has been widely criticised.

“I appeal to the Chairman of the BBC Trust to intervene to reverse this decision to save the lives of those who are now in acute danger of dying through a lack of food, fuel, water and medical supplies.

” *********

Stop the War Coalition on behalf of the Coalition’s President, Tony Benn

0207 229 0779

0794 110 2163

23 January 09 BBC Blocks Aid to Gaza Appeal Update. The Government complains to the BBC and you should too

Posted in demonstration information, PSC Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:45 am by Alexia

URGENT REQUEST TO ALL STOP THE WAR’S SUPPORTERS

GOVERNMENT COMPLAINS TO BBC FOR BLOCKING GAZA APPEAL

JOIN THE GOVERNMENT’S PROTEST: COMPLAIN NOW TO THE BBC

Stop the War understands that the government has contacted the  BBC to complain about its decision to refuse the broadcasting  of a humanitarian appeal for Gaza.

The BBC’s decision will prevent the raising of millions of   pounds in emergency aid being sent to Gaza. Stop the War is  demanding that the exchange between the government and the BBC  be made public immediately. The BBC says it is blocking the emergency appeal “to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s   “impartiality”, as if this has anything to do with   humanitarian aid for a devastated people.

Either they need the aid or they do not. This is the first time in the 48 years of similar national appeals for humanitarian aid that a broadcast has been refused. It is estimated that £10 million of urgently required  aid will not now be sent to help Palestinians in Gaza, living in catastrophic conditions.

“This is a betrayal of the BBC’s obligation to be a public service,” said Tony Benn, President of Stop the War. “To deny the help that the aid agencies and the UN need is incomprehensible.”

It is imperative that the BBC responds to the government’s   complaint and reverses its decision to refuse this broadcast.    If it does not, we will see people in Gaza continue to suffer   due to being denied emergency relief because of BBC   “impartiality” .

Stop the War urges all its supporters to complain to the BBC.

We must mobilise all the pressure we can to get the BBC to   reverse its decision.

TO COMPLAIN TO THE BBC

PHONE: 03700 100 222

TEXT: 03700 100 212

ONLINE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

BRING CHILDREN’S DOLLS TO THE BBC

If you are coming to demonstration on Saturday 24 January,   which assembles outside Broadcasting House, we are asking   protestors to bring children’s dolls, wrapped if possible in   white shrouds, to be laid on the steps of the BBC, as a   memorial to the hundreds of children who died in Israel’s   attacks and as an act of solidarity with the Palestinians in   Gaza, now denied urgently needed aid by the BBC.

DEMONSTRATE FOR GAZA: SATURDAY 24 JANUARY

END THE BLOCKADE: STOP ALL ARMS SALES  BRING THE WAR CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE

Assemble 2.00pm BBC Broadcasting House for rally   Portland Place, London W1A 1AA

Nearest tubes: Great Portland Street or Regents park.

March starts at 3.00 pm. Ends with rally in Trafalgar Square   4.30 pm.

BRING CHILDEN’S DOLLS WRAPPED IN WHITE SHROUDS TO LAY ON THE   STEPS OF THE BBC BRING SHOES WITH MESSAGES TO GORDON BROWN INSIDE TO DELIVER AS  WE MARCH PAST DOWNING STREET

Instead of banning all arms trade with Israel and breaking all  diplomatic relations, Brown has offered to send the British navy to help Israel tighten its blockade on Gaza.

MARCH ROUTE:   Assemble and rally Portland Place, March to Regent Street,   Piccadilly, Lower Regent Street, Trafalgar Square,   Northumberland Avenue, Embankment, Parliament, Downing Street,   Trafalgar Square (End rally)

STOP THE WAR COALITION   NEWSLETTER   No. 1078  23 January 2009   Email office@stopwar.org.uk   Tel: 020 7278 6694   Web: http://www.stopwar.org.uk

23 January 2009 BBC Blocks Aid to Gaza Appeal

Posted in demonstration information, PSC Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 12:38 am by Alexia

BBC BLOCKS AID TO GAZA: PROTEST 24 JANUARY

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BBC BLOCKS AID TO GAZA: PROTEST

24 JANUARY BRING DOLLS TO LAY OUTSIDE THE BBC BRING SHOES WITH A MESSAGE FOR GORDON BROWN

If the BBC was not tarnished enough by its coverage of Israel’s attack on Gaza — in the words of Tony Benn, “often looking like a propaganda wing of the Zionist lobby” — its decision yesterday to block an appeal for emergency aid to Gaza would be reason enough for making the BBC a focus of our demonstration on Saturday 24 January.

While the media is now saturated with reports showing the scale of Israel’s barbarism over the past three weeks and the humanitarian disaster it has created, and while the United Nations, the Red Cross and all the other aid organisations involved are saying that immediate emergency aid must be rushed to Gaza, the BBC has blocked a joint appeal by a wide range of organisations from being broadcast after all the main news programmes on every TV channel.

These emergency appeals to populations in desperate need of aid have been organised frequently in the past 48 years and not once in that time has one been blocked. It is agreed by all the channels that a decision to support an aid appeal must be unanimous among the broadcasters and so the BBC’s decision not to agree scuppered the whole aid appeal, which it is estimated would have raised at least £10 million — aid which would have been used immediately to help Palestinians in Gaza, now barely surviving in catastrophic conditions.

One in six buildings have been destroyed or badly damaged by Israel’s bombs and missiles, many dead are buried underneath and still being dug out, the country’s infrastructure has been destroyed, one million people have no electricity, half a million people have no access to clean running water, the hospitals are crammed with people who have suffered horrific injuries without enough basic medical supplies for them to get the treatment they need.

A spokesperson for the organisations which wanted to broadcast the prime time appeal, said, “Agencies are already providing food, drugs and blankets as well as delivering clean water. But we will soon reach the limit of what we can do, without more money.”

And the BBC’s response? “The decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of news story.” This has nothing to do with “impartiality” – the appeal was for humanitarian aid to a devastated people. How can you be “impartial” about that? Either these people need the aid or they don’t.

We have seen throughout these weeks of barbarism how Israel’s spin machine has been indulged by the BBC in particular. We know, as the Guardian reported two weeks ago, that the BBC management instructed its journalists to enable this to happen. The result was Israeli spokespersons given frequent opportunity to justify mass slaughter, including the deaths of over 400 children.

Our demonstration on Saturday assembles outside BBC Broadcasting House.

To register our disgust at the BBC’s capitulation to Israel’s manipulation and intimidation of the media, we are asking protestors to bring children’s dolls, wrapped if possible in white shrouds, to be laid on the steps of the BBC, as a memorial to the hundreds of children who died and as an act of solidarity with the Paletinians in Gaza denied urgently needed aid because of BBC “impartiality”.

DEMONSTRATE FOR GAZA: SATURDAY 24 JANUARY END THE BLOCKADE: STOP ALL ARMS SALES BRING THE WAR CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE Assemble 2.00pm BBC Broadcasting House for rally Portland Place, London W1A 1AA Nearest tubes: Great Portland Street or Regents park. March starts at 3.00 pm. Ends with rally in Trafalgar Square 4.30 pm.

BRING CHILDEN’S DOLLS WRAPPED IN WHITE SHROUDS TO LAY ON THE STEPS OF THE BBC BRING SHOES WITH MESSAGES TO GORDON BROWN INSIDE TO DELIVER AS WE MARCH PAST DOWNING STREET

Instead of banning all arms trade with Israel and breaking all diplomatic relations, Brown has offered to send the British navy to help Israel tighten its blockade on Gaza.

MARCH ROUTE: Assemble and rally Portland Place, March to Regent Street, Piccadilly, Lower Regent Street, Trafalgar Square, Northumberland Avenue, Embankment, Parliament, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square (End rally)

Email office@stopwar.org.uk Tel: 020 7278 6694 Web: http://www.stopwar.org.uk

January 20, 2009

National Demonstration SATURDAY 24 JANUARY (note the change of start venue) and other things

Posted in demonstration information tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:57 pm by Alexia

DEMONSTRATE FOR GAZA   END THE BLOCKADE: STOP ARMS SALES TO ISRAEL: FREE PALESTINE   BRING THE WAR CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE  

SATURDAY 24 JANUARY

 ASSEMBLE 2.00PM  

There will be a rally with speakers in Portland Place from 2pm before the demonstration sets off.
The demonstration will leave for Downing Street at 3pm.
Details will be posted on the Stop the War website as we   receive them.
Coach drop off point on Saturday will be in  Marylebone Road at the top of Portland Place. The pickup point  after the demonstration will be Victoria Embankment.

BBC BROADCASTING HOUSE, PORTLAND PLACE, LONDON W1A 1AA   

MARCH TO DOWNING STREET  

Nearest tubes: Great Portland Street, Regents park.

**********************************************        

GORDON BROWN’S DINNER WITH WAR CRIMINALS

The demonstration this Saturday 24 January will march to   Downing Street, calling for the lifting of the Gaza blockade, an end to all arms sales to Israel and for Israel to be made   to pay for its war crimes. We will also be registering our disgust over Gordon Brown’s   support for Israel following its barbaric attack.

The day after the massacre was ended – so as not to spoil Barack   Obama’s inauguration with pictures of phosphorous bombs dropping on UN schools in Gaza – Brown rushed off to join five other heads of government for a celebratory gala dinner at the  Jerusalem home of Israel’s prime minister Ehud Olmert,  alongside Olmert’s compatriots in mass murder, defence minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

“Thank you for demonstrating your impressive support for the State of Israel”, said Olmert, “This is in the supreme  interest of all those who fight the forces of evil,” among whom he no doubt meant the 450 children in Gaza killed by Israel over the past three weeks.

To which Brown replied, without a sliver of irony, “The task  before us is…an end to arms trafficking.” Not of course the arms trafficking which makes Israel the fourth most powerful military in the world, able to use the most advanced weapons of mass slaughter to kill 1400 Palestinians and injure 6000 more.

“Through the anguish and the suffering, we can see the road toward peace,” Brown added, as if all the mass death, injuries and destruction, which left Gaza looking like it had been hit  by an earthquake, would in some way benefit the cause of   peace.

The demonstration this Saturday will assemble at 2.00 pm at   Broadcasting House in Portland Place, in protest at the BBC’s capitulation to Israel’s propaganda machine during the attack on Gaza.

This will be the fourth Gaza demonstration in as many weeks,  all of them bringing unprecedented numbers to voice their   outrage over the carnage we have witnessed and to show our  support for the people of Gaza, subjected to horrific crimes against humanity.

Please help publicise Saturday’s demonstration as widely as you can and encourage everyone you  know to join us.

A leaflet for downloading will be available  shortly on our website.

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NATIONAL STOP THE WAR ACTIVISTS MEETING

Stop the War Activist Meeting 11am – 1pm   St Pancras Church Hall    Lancing Street, London NW1 1NA        

100 metres east of Euston Station The Stop the War Coalition has called this important meeting   to discuss the situation in Gaza, the wider “war on terror”   and how to take the campaign forward. We will also be discussing the campaign to bring the troops   out of Afghanistan and the preparations for the mass protests  at the G20 meeting in London on April 2nd.

This will be Barack  Obama’s first visit to London. We are asking for delegations from every Stop the War group   round the country.

January 15, 2009

Stressful Equivalence. Gaza vs Sderot

Posted in ! My Articles tagged , , , , , , , at 3:19 pm by Alexia

I keep getting a lot of comments on my various postings about how stressful it has been to live in Sderot down the last few years.  They get around 10 of the home made rockets fired into their town each day.

After spending time in Gaza in 2002-3 and seeing their weaponry then I’m surprised those things actually work, let alone hit anything.

Turns out that no one lives in the town has actually been killed by those rockets.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7830405.stm

None of the four people killed by rockets in the past three weeks have been in Sderot, but three people in the town have been injured and about 100 Qassams have caused serious damage.

 I remember while I was in Gaza SIX years ago there were serious mental health issues affecting the residents.  I still need to do some digging to find a decent article, but I have found this.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17631959

It’s an extract from an academic paper.  The extract is so short I’ll quote it here:

Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety among Gaza Strip adolescents in the wake of the second Uprising (Intifada).

Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies, School of Education, Howard University, 2441 Fourth Street NW, Washington, DC 20059, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Children and adolescents of the Gaza Strip have been subjected to continuous violence since the eruption of the second Intifada (Uprising). Little is known, however, about the psychological effects of this violence on children and adolescents of Gaza. Thus, the purpose of the present investigation was to evaluate and describe the psychological effects of exposure of war-like circumstances on this population.

METHOD: Participants for this study were 229 Palestinian adolescents living in the Gaza Strip who were administered measures of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and coping.

RESULTS: Of the 229 participants, 68.9% were classified as having developed PTSD, 40.0% reported moderate or severe levels of depression, 94.9% were classified as having severe anxiety levels, and 69.9% demonstrated undesirable coping responses. A canonical discriminant analysis revealed that adolescents diagnosed with PTSD tended to be those who reported the highest levels of depression, anxiety, and positive reappraisal coping, and the lowest levels of seeking guidance and support coping.

CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that a significant proportion of Palestinian adolescents living in the Gaza Strip are experiencing serious psychological distress.

Whilst I feel sorry for anyone who is caught up in violence, this attempt at moral equivalence and justification for the wholesale destruction of Gaza is distasteful.

You’ve got to love the BBC and their “unbiased” reporting

Posted in ! My Articles tagged , , , , , , at 2:24 pm by Alexia

This has just been published on the BBC website.  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7829912.stm
I’ll quote some salient points

Speaking to reporters on the Israel-Gaza border, Unrwa spokesman Christopher Gunness said three of the agency’s employees were hurt in the attack.
He said the compound was hit by what Unrwa believed to be three white phosphorus shells, which are incendiary weapons used as a smoke screen.

About 700 people were still sheltering in the compound, he said, and he was particularly concerned about the proximity of the fire to five full fuel tanks.
 
Asked whether he was sure the attack had been carried out by Israel, he said he was not aware of Hamas having access to white phosphorus.

This is despite calls for Israel to be charged with war crimes over its use of white phosphorous shells in Gaza.
There’s a reason why the UN person is so concerned:  http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/10/israel-stop-unlawful-use-white-phosphorus-gaza

However, white phosphorus has a significant, incidental, incendiary effect that can severely burn people and set structures, fields, and other civilian objects in the vicinity on fire. The potential for harm to civilians is magnified by Gaza’s high population density, among the highest in the world.
“White phosphorous can burn down houses and cause horrific burns when it touches the skin,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. “Israel should not use it in Gaza’s densely populated areas.”

This reminds me of the beginning of the occupation of Iraq when Rageh Omar was reporting from the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad and the US started shelling it.  The US were very well aware of the hotel being used by news agencies and I don’t think they’ve ever managed to come up with a convincing excuse.
But I digress.  Rageh was live on air when it started and he stated it was the americans doing the firing.  The presenter back in London refused to accept what Rageh said and insisted during the interview that he was wrong. 
Rageh no longer works for the BBC.  I don’t blame him.