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Posts tagged ‘Lebanon’

Shimon Peres: Israeli war criminal whose victims the West ignored

Shimon Peres, who passed away Wednesday aged 93 after suffering a stroke on 13 September, epitomised the disparity between Israel’s image in the West and the reality of its bloody, colonial policies in Palestine and the wider region.

Peres was born in modern day Belarus in 1923, and his family moved to Palestine in the 1930s. As a young man, Peres joined the Haganah, the militia primarily responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages in 1947-49, during the Nakba. Read more

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Israel keeps making, not taking, more refugees

Long before Syrian refugees found their way to Europe, the war-torn country’s neighbours have been hosting a staggering number of displaced persons – with one notable exception.

Syria has five neighbours: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Israel (with the latter occupying the Golan Heights since 1967). According to recent figures, Turkey currently hosts 1.8 million Syrian refugees, Lebanon a further 1.17 million, Jordan around 630,000, and Iraq some 250,000.

Israel, however, with a GDP per capita almost double that of Turkey and five times as much as Jordan, has not accepted a single one. Read more

Premeditated murder: the Shuja’iyya massacre and Israeli criminality

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. Read more

Homes in the crosshairs: Israeli war crimes, deterrence and impunity

On the eighth day of Israel’s most recent assault on the Gaza Strip, a senior officer in the Israeli military commented on the overnight bombing of the house of senior Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades figure Marwan Issa. “You call it a home”, the anonymous official said, “we call it a command centre and a military post for all intents and purposes”. For all intents and purposes.

NGO B’Tselem has documented ten examples of family homes bombed by Israel with a combined death toll of 52 persons, including 19 children. B’Tselem described the IDF’s justification for such attacks (which, it noted, changed over time), as “unfounded and illegal”, calling the tactic “punitive home demolition from the air”. Read more

Under pressure: UNRWA facing serious challenges in 2014

At the end of 2013 came a shocking update from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus – at least 15 Palestinians had died of hunger since September. The grim news was shared by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose spokesperson Chris Gunness told French news agency AFP that the conditions in the besieged camp were deteriorating. UNRWA, he said, “have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies” since September.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, anger at job cuts and budgetary problems has manifested itself in the form of industrial action, hunger strikes and marches by refugee camp popular committees. Read more

Israel: wedded to war?

For Israel, the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon war was all about questions. What mistakes were made, and who made them? What could be done to restore the Israeli military’s “deterrence” after a widely perceived defeat? In general, what lessons could be learned from the confrontation with Hizbullah in order that next time, there would be no question of failure?

Unfortunately, it seems that entirely the wrong kinds of conclusions are being reached, at least in the military hierarchy and among the policy shaping thinktanks. On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper published comments made by Israeli general Gadi Eisenkot, head of the army’s northern command. Eisenkot took the opportunity to share the principles shaping plans for a future war. Read more

Media distortion by omission

In the second such incident since the 2006 war, two rockets fired from within Lebanon struck Israel Monday night. The news understandably made headlines in Israel, and was featured as a major story by all the major Western news outlets such as CNN and the BBC, coming just before President Bush starts his Middle East tour.

However, completely unreported, or at best featured as a small afterthought, was the fact that Lebanese-Israeli border tensions had been already raised Monday by the Israeli abduction of a Lebanese shepherd. Read more

Not in our shoes

As the war in Lebanon and northern Israel continues to rage, international commentary has tended to divide into two camps, a dichotomy also reflected in the global Church. There are those on the one hand, who, appalled at the civilian loss of life in Lebanon and destruction to civilian infrastructure, are vocal in their demand for a ceasefire, censuring Israel for its offensive. On the other hand, there are those who firmly place responsibility for the conflict on Hezbollah, and support Israel in its efforts to attack the Shi’ite group. Less ink has been spilt about the trends operating on a more profound level amongst the societies involved, despite the fact that it is the will of the people themselves who will ultimately prove decisive for policy decisions. Read more