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Author Archives: Alex Kane
PLO official Hanan Ashrawi: Israel’s assault on Gaza is ‘state terrorism’ and should be referred to the International Criminal Court
Israel’s assault on Gaza is “state terrorism” and the state should be referred to the International Criminal Court over its war crimes, Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi told Mondoweiss in an interview Friday. “When you target civilians, this is terrorism,” Ashrawi charged. The PLO executive committee member and prominent spokeswoman for the Palestinian cause also reiterated that the PLO backs a key cease-fire demand of Hamas: that Israel lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has decimated the territory’s economy and cut it off from the outside world. Above, an emotional interview Ashrawi gave ABC News this past week, in which she said Israel was carrying out a “deliberate massacre” in the Gaza Strip.
Over 1,000 New Yorkers took to the streets on Thursday in a protest meant to call attention to U.S. complicity in Israel’s attack on Gaza. Organized by a wide coalition of Palestine solidarity groups, it was the latest action in New York City to call attention to the Israeli assault on Gaza. Here’s a collection of photos from the rally.
The U.S. cast the sole vote yesterday against establishing an investigation by the United Nations into war crimes committed in Gaza. The United Nations Human Rights Council voted 29-1, with 17 abstentions, to establish an inquiry. The European nations on the council all abstained.
The Israeli military shelled a United Nations Relief Works and Agency (UNRWA) school today, killing and injuring some of the Palestinians who had gathered there after fleeing their homes following Israeli messages to do so. News outlets on the ground in Gaza report that at least nine were killed, though the death toll may be higher. As Israel’s assault on Gaza intensified last week, they dropped leaflets in Palestinian neighborhoods urging them to flee ahead of heavy bombardment. Tens of thousands of people heeded the call, with UNRWA sheltering 140,000 people in 83 different schools. Above, a photo of the aftermath of an Israeli attack on a UN school in 2009, during Operation Cast Lead.
Nine Jewish activists protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza were arrested today after occupying the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) office in midtown Manhattan. The protesters, members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Jews Say No! (JSN), stood in the office for an hour, holding a banner, singing songs in Hebrew and English and reading the names of the more than 600 dead who have been killed as a result of the Israeli attack. The act of civil disobedience came amidst a wave of global protests against the Israeli attack.
Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller spoke at a pro-Israel rally Sunday in New York City. Appearing at the same event was Eliot Engel, a Congressional Democrat. While Geller is a far-right anti-Muslim blogger who has said that President Obama is a Muslim and Engel is a liberal Democrat, those political differences melt away when it comes to showing up to support Israel’s assault on Gaza.
There is no where for Amal Sarsour to go–not when Israeli bombs, missiles, and artillery fire are blanketing Gaza. The 38-year-old Gaza City resident is cooped up in her home with her brothers and their families, who left their homes after the Israeli air force targeted their neighborhood. “We can’t get out of our house…We are targeted by bombing, missiles around us…There is no place to go, we feel that death [is] around us all the time,” Sarsour tells Mondoweiss’ Alex Kane.
Human rights organizations across the board are slamming Israel for committing war crimes in strikes that are wiping out civilians. Israeli spokespeople have claimed that the army scrupulously follows international law. But in report after report, groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have dismissed the military’s claims, saying that policies like bombing the homes of alleged militants are war crimes.
Four Palestinian children from the same family were killed today by an Israeli strike in an attack witnessed by many Western journalists. The four kids from the Bakir family were playing soccer on a Gaza beach before Israeli fired shells killed them. The names and ages of the victims are Ismail Mahmoud Bakir, 9, Ahed Atef Bakir, 10, Zakariya Ahed Bakir, 10, and Mohammad Ramiz Bakir, 11. The attack will likely be one of the most enduring memories of Israel’s assault on Gaza this year, just as the attack on the al-Dalou family in 2012 and the Samouni family in 2009 is still remembered today.
New Yorkers fed up with the political class’ support for Israeli assaults on Gaza protested outside City Hall this week. Their target was a press conference featuring New York politicians who support Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge,” which has killed over 200 people, the vast majority of them civilians.
Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer defended Israel’s unrelenting assault on Gaza Thursday night to Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Dermer said that every civilian death in Gaza is an “operational failure”–making for a lot of such failures, since at least 58 civilians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes. The ambassador also sought to link Hamas to the radical Sunni jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), though the groups have wildly divergent ideologies and goals.
Relentless bombing on Gaza continues: Israel kills media worker, 9 people watching World Cup on beach
The latest Israeli assault continued into its third day, exacting a bloody and growing death toll in the Gaza Strip. At least 81 Palestinians have been killed in three days, including 22 children. Late Tuesday, a driver for journalists was killed, as were nine Palestinians watching the World Cup at a beach coffee shop. There are no signs of the operation letting up soon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that he is not “talking to anybody about a cease-fire right now. It’s not even on the agenda.”
An eyewitness to the brutal beating of Palestinian-American teen Tarek Abu Khdeir says that he was far away from the clashes taking place in Shuafat when he was pummeled by undercover Israeli forces. Leen Barghouti, the eyewitness, called the attack an “ambush” in her first interview with the media since witnessing the beating. Barghouti said Tarek Abu Khdeir “wasn’t anywhere near the main street” where the clashes took place. Israeli officials have claimed that Tarek and other Palestinians attacked Israeli forces and the video of the beating was “edited and biased,” but Barghouti’s account bolsters what Tarek and his family have said from day one: that the 15-year-old was not throwing stones or taking part in clashes that were sparked by the brutal murder of his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
‘Operation Protective Edge’ begins: Gaza rocked by Israeli airstrikes as Palestinian militants shoot at Jerusalem
The Israeli military launched “Operation Protective Edge” last night with a series of heavy airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. So far, the air attacks have killed 22 Palestinians, including 7 children. Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, have fired an estimated 160 rockets into Israel, with one exploding in Jerusalem. It is the largest military operation on Gaza since November 2012, when an aerial bombing campaign killed an estimated 167 people including 87 civilians, and Israeli leaders are saying that the current military operation won’t be short. “The prime minister’s instruction by the end of the meeting was to prepare for a thorough, long, continuous and strong campaign in Gaza,” a senior official told Haaretz. “The prime minister instructed the army to be ready to go all in. A ground offensive is on the table.”
Contradicting Israeli officials, family of Tarek Abu Khdeir says he was attacked while in uncle’s Jerusalem backyard
The family of Tarek Abu Khdeir, the 15-year-old Palestinian-American brutally beaten by Israeli forces, held a press conference today in Florida organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). They say he was standing in his uncle’s backyard when he was ambushed in the Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem–and did not attack the police, as Israeli officials have claimed. The family, who have been in contact with Tariq’s parents in Jerusalem, is also demanding that Israel pay the costs of medical treatment for the head wounds Tariq suffered.
Caught in a lie: E-mails prove right-wing pro-Israel donor Adam Milstein gave money to California student candidates
Last week, philanthropist Adam Milstein denied that he gave money to student government candidates at UCLA to help the election campaigns of those who were pro-Israel. But documents published by a student news outlet reveal that Milstein, contrary to his denials, did fund the elections of members of the Bruins United slate at UCLA–proving that outside pro-Israel money is being injected into student politics. The revelations have sparked a controversy that threatens to derail the appointment of Avi Oved, one of the student government members aligned with Milstein, to a seat on the powerful UC Regents, which oversees the UC system.
Senator Rand Paul is trying to burnish his pro-Israel credentials before the 2016 presidential election. His latest attempt is an over-the-top column this week in the National Review calling on the U.S. to stop calling for Israeli “restraint” and to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The article is a call for the army to go wild, and has little grounding in facts. It’s all about ingratiating himself to a crowd that has money–the Sheldon Adelson crowd.
Pro-Israel Muslim-basher Adam Milstein at center of storm over funding of California student elections
Right-wing philanthropist Adam Milstein is not a particularly well-known advocate for Israel in the U.S. But the Israeli-American has found himself at the center of a storm over an e-mail sent to him by a student government candidate at UCLA thanking Milstein for his “generous donation” to his election campaign. The disclosure of the e-mail has kicked up controversy, with students across the UC system calling for an investigation into the candidate’s relationship with Milstein, who has repeatedly derided Muslims and Islam. Above, Adam Milstein (far-right) with his wife (far-left) and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.
What did Israeli officials know about the abducted and murdered teens, and when did they know it? Israeli authorities have told news outlets that they had evidence the teens were killed, but that information only emerged yesterday with the discovery of the youths’ bodies. Under the cover of government-enforced uncertainty regarding the teens’ fate, Israel launched its #BringBackOurBoys campaign and its wide-ranging military operation–an operation condemned as “collective punishment.” The cost, in Palestinian lives, infrastructure and cash, has been severe–and it’s likely to get worse in the coming days. Israel seems to have exploited the situation in order to strike a blow against Hamas and the unity deal the Islamist movement struck with Fatah.
The Presbyterian Church’s decision to divest from three corporations linked to the Israeli military has highlighted a growing rift between two-state solution advocates who see divestment as a legitimate tool and J Street, the leading liberal Zionist group who lobbied against the church measure. The divestment resolution comes at a time of growing frustration among those who believe in a two-state solution. Increasingly, those desperate to end the occupation are looking to the tactics BDS is pushing for salvation. And those same people, J Street’s natural constituency, are starting to voice criticism of the group for its ardent opposition to BDS.
The Israeli government reportedly wants to return to its 2nd Intifada-era policy of destroying the homes of alleged militants involved in attacks against Israeli soldiers or civilians. News outlets report that Israeli authorities want a court to approve their desire to destroy the family homes of two Palestinians convicted of killing police officer Baruch Mizrahi near Hebron in April.
Laila El-Haddad’s and Maggie Schmitt’s captivating book “The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey” shows how food is a perfect window into Gazan culture and society. Mondoweiss’ Alex Kane sat down with El-Haddad, above left, for a wide-ranging conversation that ranged from her experience with celebrity foodie Anthony Bourdain to how examining how food is made smashes stereotypes about women in the coastal strip. The interview was conducted in the middle of Mondoweiss’ summer fundraiser — you can receive a copy of “The Gaza Kitchen” with a donation of $80 or more.
Liberal Zionists lobbying against the divestment measure at the Presbyterian General Assembly in Detroit have a new strategy: saying it is part of the BDS agenda, aimed at ending a Jewish state. Reform Judaism head Rabbi Rick Jacobs warned the Presbyterians that they would alienate Jews and offered another plan: “if we are truly partners and you disapprove this divestment overture I look forward to sitting with your leadership in the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem.” Jewish proponents of divestment say the liberal Zionists are employing threats.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has laid the blame for the reported West Bank kidnappings at the feet of Mahmoud Abbas and the unity pact he signed. But if Netanyahu really believed Abbas was responsible for the action, Israel’s government would have stopped transferring cash to the Palestinian Authority’s coffers. They have not. Instead, Israel and the PA are working together in an operation that is targeting Hamas and weakening Fatah-Hamas reconciliation–which may be the real point of Israel’s wide-reaching operation.
The Presbyterian Church’s Middle East Issues Committee voted 45-20 to endorse divestment from companies doing business with the Israeli army. While the measure still has to go to the general plenary for it to be adopted, Palestinian rights advocates celebrated the move as a first step towards divestment. Above, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council members Lynn Gottlieb (left) and Brant Rosen (right) at the Presbyterian Church assembly.