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Premeditated murder: the Shuja'iyya massacre and Israeli criminality

Shuja'iyya
© EPA/OLIVER WEIKEN
Palestinian men carry a dead person as they flee their homes in the Shuja'iyya neighbourhood in east Gaza City, 20 July 2014.
65-year-old Ahmed Suleiman Akram al-'Atawai and his 10-year-old grandchild Tala were running from Israel's onslaught on Shuja'iyya. As they fled, they were hit by Israeli artillery shells, and died.

They were among the dozens of victims Sunday, when Israeli forces pulverised the Gaza City district. Some, like Ahmed and Tala, were cut down in the streets; others were killed when shells hit their homes. A paramedic, killed as he attempted to rescue the wounded. The 'Ayad family, hit by a missile from an Israeli warplane, killing ten, including three children.

Palestinians and reporters who visited the scene reported scenes of total devastation. An estimated 72 were killed Sunday in Shuja'iyya, including "at least 17 children". Amnesty International described the impact of "intense Israeli bombardment", with "more than 200" wounded as "civilians were forced to flee under fire". A man who went back to look for his family was shot dead by Israeli forces in front of human rights observers.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) doctors working in Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City reported that "women and children comprised most of the wounded" arriving Sunday morning. Audrey Landmann, MSF medical coordinator in Gaza, said Israel's ground offensive has meant "indiscriminate" bombing, and noted that "those who die are civilians".

The shocking fact is that these dozens, hundreds, of personal horror stories are the result of deliberate decisions taken by the Israeli army. On the day of the attack, IDF officers boasted that they were "taking off the gloves". Even as the ground offensive got underway late Thursday, Israeli tanks had "received an order to open fire at anything that moved".
Hourglass

How many Nakbas? The ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine

israel-palestine map

Palestinian Land losses since 1946
More than ever, there is a need today to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict

Gaza burns while the international community sits quietly, doing nothing about it. Israel has bombarded the territory for two weeks, killing more than 700 Palestinians and wounding well over 3,000. As I write this, I am aware that the death toll will only increase.

A massacre appals, disgusts, leaves one short of breath. It is a time for mourning, protest, but also education. Without an understanding of what is taking place in Palestine, we cannot put an end to this horror.

This is not a cycle of violence, or a tribal tussle. It is not a mutual embrace of revenge, or a childish tit-for-tat playground fight. It is none of those or other clichés used so readily and unthinkingly by politicians and journalists. This is settler colonialism and its consequences.

There is a line that connects the destruction of homes and displaced in Gaza today, back to the ruined villages and columns of refugees in 1948. The Palestinians call it Nakba - the catastrophe brought upon them by the Zionist movement that sought to establish a Jewish majority state in a land where there was none.

Look at Gaza, its bleeding, defiant population. Where are these Palestinians from? For many, they are from villages and land a matter of a few miles away; refugees still, because they are not Jewish. Old men and women in the camps of Gaza were forced from their homes at the point of a bayonet by the same armed forces that now use drones to achieve the same result.
Light Saber

Max Blumenthal discusses Israel's assault on Gaza: 'There's never been hopes for a lasting ceasefire, Israel won't keep any agreements'

Raw footage of Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel discussing Israel's assault on Gaza with Al Jazeera English

Stop

Infanticide deniers: Israel bans radio advert listing names of children killed in Gaza

Palestinian rescue
© Khalil Hamra/AP
Aid agencies said on Wednesday that a child had been killed in Gaza on average every hour for the preceding two days.
Human rights group B'Tselem will petition Israel's supreme court after advert was deemed to be 'politically controversial'

The Israeli Broadcasting Authority has banned a radio advertisement from a human rights organisation which listed the names of some of the scores of children killed in Gaza since the conflict began 17 days ago.

B'Tselem's appeal against the decision was rejected on Wednesday. It intends to petition Israel's supreme court on Sunday in an effort to get the ban overturned.

The IBA said the ad's content was "politically controversial". The broadcast refers to child deaths in Gaza and reads out some of the victims' names.

In its appeal, B'Tselem demanded to know what was controversial about the item. "Is it controversial that the children [aren't] alive? That they're children? That those are their names? These are facts that we wish to bring to the public's knowledge."

In a statement, the human rights group said: "So far more than 600 people have been killed in bombings in Gaza, more than 150 of them children. But apart from a brief report on the number of fatalities, the Israeli media refrains from covering them." By Thursday morning, the death toll in Gaza had exceeded 700.

B'Tselem went on: "IBA says broadcasting the children's names is politically controversial. But refusing to do so is in itself a far-reaching statement - it says the huge price being paid by civilians in Gaza, many of them children, must be censored."
Book

Confrontation looming ahead if Obama delays release of torture report?

obama torture report

CIA Torture Report Hidden by Obama
Sometime this summer, probably when as many Americans as possible are tanning on a beach and not paying attention, the White House is expected to release a version of a classified report on torture during the Bush years. Actually, what's likely to become public is only the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report; the entire thing, five years in the making, clocks in at about 6,700 pages, making it the most exhaustive account yet of what really went on in secret CIA prisons around the world.

President Obama has repeatedly said he favors declassifying the report, which the public really ought to see. And should he release the summary in something close to the form in which it was sent to him, then his decision will likely end an unusually public standoff between top senators and the CIA, each of whom accused the other of spying illegally as the report was being compiled and written.

If, on the other hand, Obama delays the release much longer, or bows to the intelligence community and decides to black out the report's most damaging findings, then we may find ourselves on the brink of a serious escalation between the legislative and executive branches in Washington - a war over what kind of secrets the government should be allowed to keep and, more to the point, who gets to decide.

Comment: Considering that Obama has followed in the footsteps of the Bush administration by waging covert wars and murdering countless unarmed civilians, it will be surprising if this report, when and if released, contains any more information than is currently known.

Turncoat Obama knew of CIA shenanigans
White House wins fight to keep drone killings of Americans secret
CIA & Pentagon Knew Their Methods Were Torture
U.S. known for numerous cases of human rights violations

Heart - Black

UN shelter in Gaza 'struck by Israeli shells'- no warning given to allow evacuation of children

IDF shells UN shelter
Gaza health ministry says bombardment killed at least 15 people and injured 200 in a UN-run school in Beit Hanoun.

At least 15 people have been reported killed and 150 injured in the bombardment of a UN school in northern Gaza used to shelter civilians from fierce clashes on the streets outside. Al Jazeera's correspondent Nicole Johnston, reporting from Gaza, said the school in Beit Hanoun came under fire on Thursday. The Gaza health ministry told Reuters that Israeli fire had killed at least 15, and 150 injured.

An Israeli military source however told Al Jazeera that Palestinian rocket fire had been detected in the area and that it might have fallen short and hit the shelter.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Stefanie Dekker said that she was unable to reach the school after the attack due to heavy Israeli shelling. No one she had spoken to in Gaza believed the deaths were caused by a Palestinian rocket.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the UN's humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said his organisation had been in contact with Israeli forces as fighting closed in on the shelter.

"We gave the Israelis the precise GPS coordinates of the Beit Hanoun shelter. We were trying to coordinate a window [for evacuation] and that was never granted," he said. He said he could neither confirm nor deny that Hamas fighters were near the building, but said Israel and Hamas "must respect the inviolability of UN premises, and humanitarian law".

He called the attack "tragic and appalling".

Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed.

"This is a designated emergency shelter. The location was conveyed to the Israelis," he said. "This was an installation we were managing, that was monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained."

"We always call on all parties to ensure that civilians are not harmed."

Israel has attacked UN schools before, saying that they were being used as safe havens for the armed Palestinians.

The UN has also previously criticised the Palestinian groups for using UN schools to hide fighters and weapons.

'No fighters at school'

A witness who arrived at the Kamal Adwan hospital after the bombardment told Al Jazeera: "We were sitting in the school, because we were told it is safe.

"By God, there was not a single fighter, not a single shot was fired from the school. Why did they shoot at the school? Why? Can someone explain that to me? Why would they shell the school?"

Thursday's strike is the fourth time a UN facility has been hit in the 17 days of Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

At least 788 Palestinians have been killed and more than 4,500 injured in Israeli assault.

Two Israeli civilians have been killed by fire from Gaza since the offensive began.

The total number of Israeli soldiers killed since the start of the military assault stands at 32. One more soldier has been listed as missing and is believed to be dead.
Bullseye

Women, children, UN staff massacred in Israeli shelling of UN school refuge in Gaza

Un school shelling gaza
© Reuters / Finbarr O'Reilly
A Palestinian mother comforts her child, after what medics said was an Israeli shell that hit a U.N-run school sheltering Palestinian refugees, at a hospital in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip July 24, 2014.
Women, children and UN staff were among those killed during the shelling of a UN-run school in northern Gaza, in which hundreds of people had taken refuge. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed outrage and horror at the tragedy.

"I am appalled by the news of an attack on an UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) school in Northern Gaza where hundreds of people had taken refuge," Ban said in a statement published on the UN's website, adding that "circumstances are still unclear."

At least 15 people were killed and around 200 others wounded when Israeli forces targeted the Ashraf al-Qidra school, a spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry told Reuters.

Ban highlighted the sheer volume of refugees looking for shelter. "More than 100,000 Gazans - that's five percent of the total population - have sought refuge in UNRWA facilities," he said.
Bad Guys

Merkel stands by Israel even as it slaughters a family of German citizens in Gaza

al-Kilani funeral gaza
© Ashraf Amra / APA images
The funeral of the al-Kilani family in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza, earlier this week.
Earlier this year Angela Merkel was awarded Israel's "presidential medal of distinction." The German chancellor merited this honor, some journalists dutifully reported, because of her "unwavering commitment to Israel's security."

That "unwavering commitment" might help explain why Merkel does not appear perturbed by what happened to Ibrahim al-Kilani. He was a citizen of Germany, where he had lived for twenty years. He had qualified there as a civil engineer, before returning to Gaza in 2001, where he had married and started raising a family. On Monday, Ibrahim, his wife Taghreed and their five children were wiped out in an Israeli attack.

Ilias, the youngest of the children, was only four. His sister Yasmin was six. The other siblings - Yassir, Sawsan, and Rim - were aged between eight and twelve. It should not be necessary to spell out that they were entirely innocent of any crime.
Bomb

By way of deception: MH17 sabotaged by Israeli security team at Amsterdam Schiphol airport

As the only non-European journalist to cover The Hague inquiry into the Amsterdam crash of El Al flight 1862 (October 1992), which destroyed a Biljmeer district apartment complex, I discovered many aspects of the Israeli security set-up at Schipol International Airport and the role of the Mossad intelligence agency in secret operations there, one of Europe's business transport hubs.

This same airport spy network is very likely involved in the recent crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over the Ukraine.

Covering the Biljmeer crash for Japan Playboy, I uncovered the sordid facts of how the official investigation back then was undone by a large network of Israeli intelligence agents who paid hush money to victims' families, pressured injured firefighters from filing lawsuits over radiation exposure, and suppressed data from the hangar where the wreckage was stored.
Bacon n Eggs

Healthy paranoia: Putin employs full-time food taster to ensure meals aren't poisoned

Putin
© Getty
If you were Vladimir Putin, you could be forgiven for feeling a little paranoid right now, as the Western world takes turns to blame, excoriate, vilify and condemn you over the Malaysian airline disaster. You might well wonder whether a bullet, a Jiffy bag full of ricin or a lunchtime polonium sandwich were most likely to be the means of your imminent dispatch from this life. So it's no surprise to learn that the Russian president employs a professional food taster on his full-time staff.

The news emerged from this week's meeting in London of the Club des Chefs des Chefs, the members of which prepare meals for heads of state and world leaders. Among other leaks from their get-together, we learnt that the Queen won't go near shellfish, Barack Obama can't abide beetroot and Prince Philip prefers beer to wine with his lunch. The distinguished list of leaders' chefs had a notable omission, though - Mr Putin, whose meals are all prepared and tasted, not by a chef but by a member of his security staff to ensure it's not poisoned.

Like the canary in the coalmine, whose function is to warn against the presence of gas by expiring in front of the miners, the official food-taster has a thankless role. If he samples the food prepared for his master, gets sick and dies, he may get a murmured "Good job..." from the boss, but little more.

The job, however, has been popular for centuries. Roman emperors employed trusted slaves to be their praegustator, not always effectively (when Claudius died after being given poisoned mushrooms in 54BC, his taster Halotus was fingered as a suspect). So did the Egyptian pharaohs and the emperors of Byzantium and China. The Mauryan empress Queen Durdhara died when she ill-advisedly ate some food prepared for her husband, Chandragupta, who went on to unify India into a single state. You had to be on your toes in 320BC. And those expert poisoners the Borgias employed tasters to make sure their own methods weren't applied to themselves.

Comment: As a rule, from Julius Caesar to JFK, RFK, MLK, and Yasser Arafat, great leaders dedicated to real change have been condemned and vilified by their oligarchic, psychopathic peers. As ex-KGB, Putin knows the game. Hopefully he will not suffer the same fate as all those who came before him.

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