Imagine living years under deplorable isolated siege conditions. Imagine also enduring regular Israeli land, sea and air attacks.
Gazan resistance groups launch Grad missiles, home-made rockets, and mortar shells in self-defense. Israel calls them "unprovoked" attacks. Palestinian freedom fighters vow to continue their liberating struggle. Under international law, it's their right, and for them a duty.
The latest Israeli attacks came Friday and Saturday. Expect more to follow. Deaths so far number at least 18. Many others were injured, some seriously, according to Gaza medical services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya. Israel falsely claimed only militants and weapons manufacturing sites were struck.
Israel often launches strikes to provoke responses. Hamas was maliciously blamed for initiating attacks. Israel's blame game targets victims. Aggression's called self-defense. Freedom fighters are called terrorists. World leaders don't intervene to stop cold-blooded IDF murder.
Four members of one family were killed. Israel treats civilians like combatants. Crimes of war and against humanity are committed regularly.
This time in response, Popular Resistance Committees member Abu Mojahid declared an end of truce and vowed revenge.
The latest incident began when Israeli air strikes killed Zuhir al-Qaisi, Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) secretary-general. PRC member Mahmoud Hanani was also killed. Both men died when two IDF missiles struck their car.
Hanani was released last October as part of the Shalit prisoner swap deal. Israel spuriously claimed al-Qaisi masterminded an August 2011 attack killing eight Israelis, a 2008 incident claiming two more, and planned another on Israel's border with Gaza.
Unilaterally maintaining truce for months, Hamas' interior ministry called Israel's "Zionist escalation an unjustified crime. It comes as part of the destabilization of a stable security situation in the Gaza Strip. We hold the international community fully responsible for the attacks."
It added that Palestinians have the right to self-defense against Israeli aggression. International law permits it.
A PA statement condemned Israel's attacks for "escalat(ing) the circle of violence in the region."
Al-Qassam Brigades officials "mourn(ed) the martyr Zuhir al-Qaisi and martyr Mahmud Hanani and (said) their blood will not be wasted. The enemy's crime will be a curse on him."
US Weapons Killing Palestinians
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a "national coalition of more than 380 groups." They work together "to end US support for Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem."
On March 6, its policy paper titled, "US Military Aid to Israel" explained that weapons and munitions supplied kill Palestinian civilians.
National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner said "U.S. military aid to Israel is a policy that is running on autopilot and must be reconsidered."
"U.S. weapons provided to Israel at taxpayer expense make the U.S. complicit in Israel's human rights abuses of Palestinians living under Israel's 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and defeat U.S. foreign policy objectives of halting Israeli settlement expansion, ending Israeli military occupation, and establishing a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace."
Israel gets more US aid than all other nations combined. Through 2008, it exceeds $100 billion based on official figures. In fact, they way understate true amounts supplied.
What Israel wants it gets. Included are state-of-the art weapons, munitions and technology, as well as direct financial aid for Israel's defense industry, emergency supplemental appropriations, and much more.
Regular increases provide more, despite planned deficit reducing budget cuts. Israel's not affected. Supplying its killing machine takes precedence. As a result, thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women and children suffer and die. It's the American way.
The Campaign's report said evidence shows Israel commits human rights abuses with US weapons. Supplying them violates US laws. They include the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) and 1976 Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
AECA permits military related sales only for defense or internal security. FAA prohibits aiding governments that engage:
"in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country."
The Leahy Law in the 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act (Sec. 8092 of PL 106-259) states:
"None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to support any training program involving a unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of Defense has received credible information from the Department of State that a member of such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, unless all necessary corrective steps have been taken."
The 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act prohibits funding foreign security forces that commit gross human rights violations unless its government "is taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice."
Israel commits appalling human rights abuses. Washington rewards its crimes. Regular pledges assure whatever more Israel wants, even when US interests are harmed. At issue is generating instability, violence and wars to advance America's imperium along with Israel's regional aims.
As a result, Palestinians and Arabs throughout the Middle East suffer and die. No end of conflict looks imminent. Nothing so far is able to stop both countries and NATO partners from ravaging North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. US taxpayers pick up the tab.
Daily West Bank Israeli Crimes
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documents them in weekly reports. Its most recent one replicates most others. In the week ending March 8, Israeli forces conducted 71 lawless incursions in West Bank communities and another in Gaza.
Forty Palestinian civilians were arrested, including 13 children. Peaceful protests are attacked violently. Dozens are injured. At times, deaths occur. Settlers assault Palestinians and destroy their property with impunity.
In mid-February, Gaza's health minister, Dr. Bassem Naim, declared a state of emergency caused by acute power and fuel shortages. On March 8, a health ministry press release added a pharmaceutical crisis. Hundreds of vital medications are running out. Lives are at stake.
The ministry appealed to international relief and health organizations for help. Israel supplies little or none. So far, solutions for recurring crises remain elusive. For patients in dire need of care, they're running out of time and luck.
Israel suffocates 1.7 million Gazans ruthlessly. Incursions, bombings, and other forms of violence compound harsh conditions. Those most vulnerable suffer most.
A Final Comment
On March 10, Gaza City crowds joined mourners burying their dead. They include freedom fighters Israel killed. Families paid their last respects. They viewed covered bodies torn to pieces. They chanted slogans wanting retaliation. Getting it won't bring back loved ones.
Palestinians throughout the Territories lose theirs regularly. Some die. Others are abused and imprisoned lawlessly.
After nearly 45 years of occupation, their liberating struggle continues. They won't ever stop working for it, nor should supporters weaken in their resolve to help.
2- Israeli Buffer Zone State Terror
State terror is official Israeli policy. It's imposed numerous ways to enforce harshness too extreme to bear. The strategy hopes many Palestinians will give up and leave.
Israel repeatedly gets it wrong. After decades of extreme oppression, Palestinians are committed to resist until free, though doing it extracts a huge toll.
Under protracted siege, Gazans suffer most of all, including by Israel's imposed Buffer Zone. It's a no-go "access-restricted" free-fire area, extending from Israel's border fence well into Gaza's most arable land.
Palestinians entering it risk being shot, killed, or injured, including children. Moreover, IDF armored columns enter often to raze land and bulldoze homes and other structures.
In May 2009, Israel dropped leaflets warning Gazans to keep out of areas within 300 meters of the border fence or risk being shot. In fact, Israeli snipers shoot them up to two kilometers inside. Moreover, Palestinian crops and structures have been destroyed well beyond the 300 meter limit.
As part of the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement and 1995 Oslo II, consensus was reached on a delimiting Gaza line. Specific language said "(t)here will be a security perimeter along the Delimiting Line inside the Gaza Strip."
The deal called for Palestinian police to patrol it. Structures within 100 meters of the border would remain. New construction was allowed within agreed on limitations.
After the 2000 second Intifada began, Israel enforced a 150 meter no-go zone. It marked the onset of Buffer Zone state terror. Homes and other structures were demolished. Fundamental international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated.
After Israel's summer 2005 disengagement, Gazans were again warned against encroaching within 150 meters of Israel's border. Even then, 500 meters were enforced. More demolitions occurred.
In December 2005, Israel declared areas in northern Gaza off-limits, including evacuated settlements. Thousands of Palestinians were affected. The Buffer Zone in this area extended 1.5 kilometers from Israel's border.
During Cast Lead, clearing the entire Buffer Zone was finalized. Palestinians were again warned to keep out. Though officially 300 meters, anyone up to two kilometers can be shot on sight. Permanent displacement affected at least 10,000 Gazans.
In addition, demolitions and agricultural land razing happen regularly. Israeli soldiers monitor the area 24 hours a day. Up to 70% of households living near the Buffer Zone have been displaced at least once since 2000. Most lost homes. Others fled for safety. Half or more of them lost livelihoods.
Defining the Buffer Zone
It covers 17% of Gaza's total land area and 35% of its arable land. Around 7.5% of Gaza's population (113,000 people) are affected. Since Cast Lead's January 2009 end, 51 Palestinians were shot and killed, including 11 children. Another 237 were injured, including 49 children.
Since 2005, Israel destroyed 305 water wells, 197 chicken farms, 377 sheep farms, three mosques, three schools, and six factories. According to UN estimates through August 2010, nearly 1,000 homes were totally destroyed, another 371 partly so.
Examples of Israeli Terror Attacks
Hanan Hasan Salman Al-Hamidi's home was about 350 meters from Israel's border. It housed four families. On November 4, 2008, gunfire erupted. Loudspeakers ordered everyone outside. He was hit by shrapnel.
His sister-in-law Hanin was wounded, Firing continued. Tanks approached. Electricity was cut off. The house began shaking. Soldiers were attacking in force. A large bulldozer hit the house, demolishing it entirely. Nothing inside was saved.
Women were handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to the Israeli border side for interrogation. Israelis demanded confessions about an alleged tunnel beneath their home. Finally they were released, but lost everything, including their home.
Hatem Eid Sulaiman Abu Sharab's home was about 650 meters from Israel's border. On February 26, 2011, Israel ordered it and surrounding houses evacuated. Explosions shook the ground. Their homes were completely destroyed.
Nothing was left but scattered stones and rubble. "I don't know why Israeli forces attacked my home," he said. He lived there many years in peace. He also lost everything, and now lives in a tin-roofed room on land his cousin owns.
Abu Is'ayid lived about 300 meters from Israel's border. On July 13, 2010, the IDF shelled his home. His wife Naser was killed. Three other family members were injured.
On April 28, 2011, another attack occurred. Four family members were wounded. Ambulances trying to reach them were delayed. IDF permission to proceed was needed. They're prohibited from entering within 1,000 meters of Israel's border without prior coordination between Israeli authorities and the ICRC.
The top floor of the family house was destroyed, its ground floor damaged. Hebrew radio said attacking their home was a mistake. No known restitution was made.
Israel's Lawless Control
Israel has total control over Gaza. Buffer Zone and other state terror enforce it. Residents live under constant fear of attacks. Israel makes no distinction between civilians and alleged combatants. Everything in Gaza (within and outside the Buffer Zone) is vulnerable, including schools, hospitals, mosques, and residential homes.
International law is systematically violated. Crimes of war and against humanity are committed with impunity. Victims have no legal recourse for just reparations and compensation.
Israel reigns terror on Gazans ruthlessly. From day to day, around 1.7 million people don't know if they'll live or die, or whether giant bulldozers will demolish what once was home, giving them scant time to vacate or be buried under rubble.
These type abuses are intolerable. World leaders permit them by not intervening. Palestinians are on their own to free themselves from Israel's scourge. They're committed and won't ever stop trying.
A Final Comment
On February 16, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) published a report headlined, "Occupied Lives: Sniper Fire in the 'Buffer Zone,' " saying:
Munther Rashad Saleh al-Nakhala raises canaries and goldfinches. They're very precious to him, he says. Four days a week, he hunts for them in areas around Gaza City. Doing so risks his life.
On January 31, 2012, Israeli soldiers shot him. He was about 450 meters from Israel's border. With his net extended on the ground, he spotted five Israeli soldiers along Israel's border fence side.
"I know that the occupation soldiers approach the fence by foot when they attempt to shoot at someone," he said. "Immediately, I started collecting my net and cage to leave the place. As I was taking the cage, without notice, the soldiers fired three times at me with live ammunition."
"One of the bullets hit my left leg." Luckily, he wasn't seriously hurt, and was able to get away alive. But he needed hospitalization for two days.
"We are hunting in our lands, (and) they know me and they knew that I was unarmed as I have been hunting in that area for years. They call us terrorists when they are the ones who terrorize us."
He's one of many victims. Last year alone, 24 Palestinians were killed, including five children. Another 203 were injured, including nine children. All incidents occurred in Israel's Buffer Zone.
Live fire enforces it. It's illegal under international law. No military necessity exists. Nor may Israel confiscate or destroy Palestinian property.
Nonetheless, Palestinians face these and other dangers daily. They're also denied access to their own land in or around Israel's Buffer Zone. Those entering risk death or injury. Al-Nakhala's lucky to be alive. Others aren't so fortunate.
Gazans remain out of sight and mind. Their fate's in their own hands. Their liberating struggling continues to end what no one ever should tolerate, including world leaders able to stop it.
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