Israel Killed and Injured More Civilians with Explosive Weapons than Any Other State in 2014

 

Damage caused by Israeli explosives remains visible in this mosque and many other buildings in Gaza. Mohammed Asad/APA images.
 
Israel killed and injured more civilians with explosive weapons than any other state in the world in 2014 due to its military assault on Gaza. This is according to a new report by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), an organization that tracks the global impact of explosive weapons on civilians.The report defines explosive weapons as “munitions such as air-dropped bombs, mortars, improvised explosive devices and artillery shells” which cause “deaths, injuries and damage by projecting explosive blast, heat and often fragmentation around a point of detonation.”

While both state and non-state groups contributed to civilian casualties in 2014, states were responsible for 28 percent of civilian injuries and deaths, a sharp 17 percent rise from the previous year. This was due in large part to Israel’s military assault on Gaza, which accounted for 44 percent of all explosive violence in 2014.

figure_4

Bolstering previous human rights assessments that have accused Israel of war crimes, the AOAV report sheds further light on the degree of firepower the residents of Gaza were subjected to last summer.

Dubbed Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 51-day bombing campaign killed 2,251 Palestinians and injured another 11,000, according to UN figures. The vast majority of those killed (1,462) were civilians, including 551 children, making Gaza the third most dangerous place in the world to be a civilian in 2014, according to AOAV.

As a result, Palestinians in Gaza made up 43 percent of global civilian casualties from artillery shelling, 35 percent of civilian casualties from aerial bombings and 40 percent of worldwide child casualties from explosive violence in 2014.

After the dust settled, bomb disposal experts estimated that Israel dropped the equivalent of six atomic bombs on Gaza.

In 2014, Gaza accounted for the third highest number of civilian casualties from explosive violence globally, exceeding civilian death and injury in Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Ukraine.

figure_2

Of the 4,022 injuries and deaths from explosive violence AOAV recorded in Gaza, 3,813 were civilians.

This means that civilians comprised an alarming 95 percent of those killed or maimed by explosives in Gaza, placing Israel in the same league as the militant group Boko Haram, whose deadly suicide and IED (improvised explosive device) attacks resulted in a 97 percent civilian casualty rate in Nigeria. By comparison, the rate of civilian casualties in Syria, to which Israel often refers to deflect from its own atrocities, was 81 percent.

Such findings contradict Israeli proclamations that it does more than any other force on earth to avoid civilian casualties.

Israel was responsible for more than one third, or 35 percent, of civilians hit by air-launched explosives, Syria for 43 percent and Iraq for 8 percent, leading to a nearly threefold global rise in civilian casualties from aerial explosives in 2014.

figure_9

Israel launched more than 6,000 airstrikes in Gaza, which caused 53 percent of Gaza’s civilian casualties, according to AOAV. The other 47 percent were killed or injured by ground and naval shelling.

Furthermore, the report found that 43 percent of Israeli air attacks were launched by drones, accounting for 29 percent of Gaza’s civilian casualties.

An investigation by the Associated Press generated similar results, finding that over half of civilians killed in Gaza died in Israeli airstrikes on their homes, “including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of one and five.”

Aerial explosives were particularly detrimental to children around the world, “with 44 percent of all deaths and injuries being reported as caused by air launched weapons,” the AOAV report states, citing as an example the 29 July air assault on an apartment building in Khan Younis that killed 18 children and critically injured another four as they sheltered with their families.

study by Defense for Children International-Palestine found that 225 Palestinian children were killed in Israeli airstrikes “while they were in their own homes or seeking shelter, often as they sat down to eat with their families, played or slept.” Another 164 children were “directly targeted and unlawfully killed” by Israeli drone strikes on their homes and in the street as they attempted to flee to safety.

Indeed, Israel proved itself to be a world leader at killing and maiming children with explosives. Of the total child casualties from explosive violence in 2014, 40 percent were in Gaza and 25 percent were in Syria, revealed AOAV.

Artillery shelling

Though Israel possesses a high tech arsenal of precision-guided weapons, it pounded the densely populated Gaza Strip with 34,000 unguided shells, including 19,000 high-explosive artillery shells. As a result, Palestinians in Gaza made up 43 percent of global civilian casualties from artillery shelling.

Israel fired these weapons indiscriminately into Gaza’s densely populated neighborhoods.

On 19 and 20 July, Israel battered the neighborhood of Shujaiya with 7,000 high explosive shells, firing 4,800 shells within a seven-hour period. The extent of the indiscriminate shelling, which killed at least 55 people, including 19 children and 14 women, was so unprecedented, senior US military officers who participated in the US destruction of Iraq were reportedly left “stunned.”

While the AOAV report attributes high civilian casualties by states to the targeting of groups and individuals in populated areas, it should be noted that statements by Israeli military leaders demonstrate a calculated military strategy that deliberately and systematically targets civilians and civilian infrastructure.

As a recent investigation by the UN Human Rights Council observed, Israel’s widespread attacks on civilians in Gaza “may have constituted military tactics reflective of a broader policy, approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel.”

Still, Israeli officials and their American benefactors are adamant that Israel is an enlightened democracy surrounded by a hostile sea of ruthless Arab dictators and marauding terrorist groups. However, the reality in Gaza suggests Israeli leaders have far more in common with the figures they detest than they would care to admit.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has approved a $1.9 billion weapons package to Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, essentially guaranteeing Israel’s capacity to reenact its 2014 attack against the people of Gaza. At this point, it’s simply a matter of when.

 

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

 

 

Israel’s Seven Year Illegal Blockade of Gaza: A Gross Violation of the EU-Israel Association Agreement

 

europe-israelThe blockade has been criticized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights organizations, a criticism that has been officially supported by United States administrations. In June 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the humanitarian needs in the Hamas-controlled area must be met along with legitimate Israeli security concerns. International institutions consider the blockade illegal.’

‘The legal framework for EU- Israel relations is provided by the EU-Israel Association Agreement signed in Brussels, on 20 November 1995, and following ratification by the 15 Member States parliaments, the European Parliament and the Knesset, entered force on 1 June, 2000.’

‘Among other things, the agreement states that the respect for human rights and democratic principles guides the internal and international policy of both Israel and the EU and constitutes an essential and positive element of the Agreement.’

CONSIDERING the importance which the Parties attach to the principle of economic freedom and to the principles of the United Nations Charter, particularly the observance of human rights and democracy, which form the very basis of the Association:

The EU does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over any of the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 comprise the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. The EU has made it clear that it will not recognise any changes to pre-1967 borders, other than those agreed by the parties to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council has underlined the importance of limiting the application of agreements with Israel to the territory of Israel as recognised by the EU.

There is but one option now open to the EU Commission – it must abrogate the EU-Israel Association Agreement on the grounds of the gross violation and breach of its specific provisions, by Israel, since 2007.

The Genocide of the People of Donbas, E. Ukraine, must be stopped

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT

 Bodies Pile Up in Donetsk Morgue as Ukraine Ceasefire Continues to Crumble

 

 

 

 

 

 

War Resumes in Ukraine. Kiev Violates OSCE Ceasefire Agreement, Re-Invades Donbass

Ukraine’s President Says All Ukrainians Who Reject His Government Should Die

The EU has finally admitted that Kiev had violated the cease fire and the Ukrainian Government was now in open and public violation of it, and in public contempt of it.  But at the same time the EU called for continued adherence to the truce’s terms,

“We are worried that the truce has been breached. We count on the truce to be respected because it is a necessary condition allowing the peace process to move forward, the OSCE and the Red Cross employees to work there,” Soren Liborius, the head of EU information department said, according to RT.

Ukrainian troops had resumed their heavy shelling of towns in the former Luhansk and Donetsk Republics, two regions which had been joined together as a new nation Novorussia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel “Wall of Hypocrisy” regarding the crimes committed by the fascists in power. 

To add to her hypocrisy, after the “elected” president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko order the terrorist attack against the people of Donbas, East Ukraine, the horror Kiev’s war crimes, the destruction of the homes of thousands of families in Donbas who are struggling with the consequent trauma, the grief and survival with winter and the slow death by starvation declared to them by the Hitler of Ukraine.  But Chancellor Merkel did not condemned the atrocities of his friend Poroshenko. Instead she blamed Russia for all that is happening in Ukraine.

There was no stopping the Chancellor’s banal posturing,

“We can change things for the better – for the people in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and in many, many other regions of the world where liberty and human rights are threatened or being trampled.”

Glaringly omitted was Palestine, the longest trampling of human rights and freedom in modern political history by Israel and western governments. Mentioning Ukraine, Syria and Iraq was a free plug for US imperial ventures.

Merkel goose-steps in time to the U.S’s war drums and interests vis-à-vis support for sanctions against Iran, Russia, and arming Saudi Arabia.  She lacks the nationalistic  pride of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder  who, in line with the majority of Germans, opposed the unsanctioned and unjustified US military intervention in Iraq opting instead for a peaceful solution.

Merkel penitentially made reference to November 9th‘s shared anniversary with ‘Kristallnacht,’ the 1938 Nazi pogrom against Jews and synagogues, which she condemned as a ‘day of shame and disgrace’.

In September, she publicly condemned antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, “Anyone who hits someone wearing a skullcap is hitting us all. Anyone who damages a Jewish gravestone is disgracing our culture. Anyone who attacks a synagogue is attacking the foundations of our free society.”

But, during the past weeks and present days, no such condemnation was heard from the German government over the destruction of people in Donbas, East Ukraine, the shelling of civilians, and the slow-death by starvation of the people of Donbas by the Nazi government of Kiev. 

If Merkel genuinely felt ‘the responsibility of German history’ she would ensure Germany never again participates in state terror and therefore would not have revoked the safeguards restricting arms exports to areas of conflict and to dictatorships.

Germany supplies Israel with nuclear capable Dolphin-class submarines,  anti-armour weapons systems made by German Dynamit Nobel Defense (became a subsidiary of Israel’s RAFAEL in 2004) which also combined with Israel’s Corner Shot  to create the CSP in 3 versions: a pistol, assault rifle  and grenade/ teargas launcher that fire around corners. Germany also supports the Nazi government in Kiev, and is a key player in funding the government.

The UN estimates more than 3,000 people have been killed since violence ignited in the region in April, while up to a million have fled their homes.

The United Nations is helpless in Ukraine. They don’t have a strong leader to come forward and denounce that the mass murder of civilians in Donbas, East Ukraine is a war crime.

If Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the UN had been in charge, he would have done it. Annan openly criticized the decision by the U.S. and Britain to attack Iraq without a UN mandate. Once the war was underway, he turned his focus to the plight of the Iraqi citizens and urged member nations to promptly respond to Iraq’s pressing humanitarian needs.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been accused of commitment to a strategy of war against Syria. The reason behind this statement was the presentation of the report of the UN Commission on the use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21. A clear tendency to lean towards pushing the Western position is typical of Ban Ki-moon, but other people are not chosen for such positions.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, acted as a prosecutor and the world judge, and was in the service of a military strategy rather than peace, France Presse quoted his words.

The UN Secretary General’s  statement accompanying the report has caused controversy. On Monday, September 16, Ban Ki-moon announced the conclusion of UN experts that on August 21 near Damascus a sarin gas attack took place. The experts did not identify the perpetrators, as this was not part of the investigation, the Secretary General said and showed the world the cover of the document depicting fragments of a Soviet missile that allegedly delivered the sarin.

Ban Ki-moon’s stance in the war of Ukraine is weak and most of the time his only sources of information are the members of Kiev’s fascist government. Never had he made an effort to send unbiased UN officials to talk to the self-defense forces in Donbas, East Ukraine. 

The UN’s “human rights” envoy that went to the Ukraine blamed the self-defense forces for the war going on and totally ignored the Kiev fascists in power. 

The genocide of the people of Donbas, East Ukraine, must be stopped. Their slow-death by starvation must be condemned by the United Nations and those countries whose leaders are constantly pounding their chests in defense of democracy when in reality they are a clan of HYPOCRITES.

The only country that can stop the genocide of ethnic Russians is RUSSIA. And if it takes to invade Ukraine to stop the mass murder, by all means let it be!

 

 

 

EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

December 17, 2014

The EU General Court has ordered that the Palestinian militant group Hamas be removed from the bloc’s terror blacklist. The move comes over four years after Hamas appealed its terror designation before the EU.

The European Union first banned Hamas’ military wing, the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, in 2002, though the organization’s social and political divisions were not put on the terror list. Following a series of Hamas suicide bombings during the second intifada or uprising in September 2003, the EU extended the ban to include the organization as a whole.

On September 12, 2010, Hamas appealed the ban, largely on procedural grounds. In its complaint, the group cited a lack of due process, specifically, that it had not been properly informed the act was being implemented. It further asserted that as a “legitimately-elected government,” it cannot be labeled as a terrorist organization, saying such a designation flies in the face of “the principle of non-interference in the internal matters of a State.”

READ MORE: ‘Amnesty are victims of Hamas propaganda’ – Israeli FM spokesman

The court accepted the organization’s argument, saying that the decision to remove Hamas from the list was not based on an examination of Hamas’ activities, but rather on an examination of the procedures used to institute the 2003 ban in the first place. Unless an appeal brings closure, however, a funding freeze against the group and sanctions against its members will remain in place for three more months.

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)

Palestinian members of al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)

The lawyer for Hamas, Liliane Glock, told AFP she was “satisfied with the decision.”

Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq lauded the decision, saying the court had righted an injustice done to the organization, which he said is a “national freedom movement,” and not a terrorist organization, the Jerusalem Post reports.

But a deputy from Israel’s major right-wing Likud party, Danny Danon, said, “The Europeans must believe that there blood is more sacred than the blood of the Jews which they see as unimportant. That is the only way to explain the EU court’s decision to remove Hamas from the terror blacklist.”

“In Europe they must have forgotten that Hamas kidnapped three boys and fired thousands of rockets last summer at Israeli citizens,” he added.

Shortly after the ruling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the EU to keep Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations.

“We expect them to immediately put Hamas back on the list,” Reuters cites Netanyahu as saying in a statement. “Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization which in its charter states its goal is to destroy Israel.”

The EU and Israel have attempted to downplay the ruling, saying that groups standing within Europe as terror organizations will not change. Israeli and European officials say the court will be given a few months to rebuild its file against Hamas with evidence of the group’s activities, which will enable it to be placed back on the list of terror organizations, the Israeli news portal Ynet reports.

According to RT’s Paula Slier, Israeli politicians “across the political spectrum” have unanimously condemned what they call a “temporary” removal.

Paula Slier @PaulaSlier_RT
Follow

#Israeli politicians across the political spectrum have unanimously condemned this ‘temporary’ removal.
4:36 AM – 17 Dec 2014

According to Slier, EU officials have given Israel assurances that Brussels’ position has not changed, saying Wednesday’s ruling was a “technical” mistake. Officials from the 28-member bloc further said the court did not have sufficient authority to affect the entire EU’s position.

In the interim, however, EU member states will be empowered to establish diplomatic ties with Hamas.

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas's armed wing sits on the shoulders of his father during a rally ahead of the 27th anniversary of Hamas founding, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip December 12, 2014 (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas’s armed wing sits on the shoulders of his father during a rally ahead of the 27th anniversary of Hamas founding, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip December 12, 2014 (Reuters / Mohammed Salem)

The EU ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, will meet with Israel’s Foreign Minister, Nissim Ben-Sheetrit, on Wednesday to discuss the matter, Israeli daily Haaretz reports. Faaborg-Andersen is expected to reiterate that the EU’s position on Hamas remains unchanged, and that a future decision to reclassify Hamas as a terror organization is forthcoming.

During the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas defeated the PLO-affiliated Fatah party and has governed the Gaza Strip for the past seven years. Some countries have treated Hamas as a terrorist organization, while others have not. While Australia, Canada, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Qatar, the US and the UK all treat Hamas or its military wing as a terrorist organization, other states, including China, Iran, Russia and Turkey, do not.

Hamas leaders have made several diplomatic trips to Russia to discuss a range of issues, from Palestinian reconciliation to economic relations.

Israeli Budget Fight Raises Questions About Defense Spending

Israelis reservists

Israelis reservists

 

Demands for billions of dollars of extra funding for Israel’s military have set the scene for a bruising political battle over the budget, as the country tries to balance the needs of a weakening economy with security threats from Gaza to Iran.

The defense ministry is seeking nearly 70 billion shekels ($20 billion) in the 2015 budget, an increase of $3 billion over 2014, as it settles the bills from its Gaza war and draws up plans to confront enemies on other borders.

Having already requested an extra $2.5 billion from the 2014 budget, other government departments are saying “maspik” – enough – aware that they are likely to see their budget lines cut to accommodate the military’s demands.

The most agitated is Finance Minister Yair Lapid, whose party campaigned on a platform of social spending and is now suffering in the polls. The Israeli media is full of rumors that Lapid could quit if defense gets the money it wants or if taxes rise to make the numbers add up.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to tread a middle line, calling defense spending a critical priority while emphasizing that nothing will be done that risks blowing out the budget deficit or jeopardizing Israel’s credit rating.

“The state of Israel needs a responsible budget that answers the security threats directed at us and which will not adversely affect the Israeli economy,” he said on Sunday.

“I think that it is within our power to meet all of these challenges as long as we do so responsibly and do not lead Israel into an out-of-control deficit, with an out-of-control international overdraft,” he added.

With growth slowing as a result of the war and slumping tourism, everyone is aware that the pie is not growing as rapidly as before, making allotments harder.

The problem for Lapid is two-fold: not only does the momentum appear to be with the defense chiefs and their demands for billions more, but he is under pressure from Netanyahu and the central bank to keep the deficit down.

The showdown will intensify over the coming days and weeks as Lapid, a former TV journalist, prepares to present the budget to parliament, which must approve it by March next year.

HOW MUCH DOES DEFENSE NEED?

Yet an overriding question is whether the military really needs as much as money as it says it does, a question that is all the harder to answer because there is very little clarity over where defense spending ultimately goes.

“There’s no way of making a serious public discussion over our priorities because the defense budget is entirely intransparent,” said Stav Shaffir, a member of parliament’s finance committee and a campaigner for social spending.

“With no transparency, it is impossible to decide how much money is really needed, how much of it is efficiently spent and how much can be moved to better use.”

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, a close ally of Netanyahu’s, says one of the most costly areas is intelligence, where the budget has doubled over the past 16 years.

“Even if it had tripled, I wouldn’t have wasted one shekel,” a combative Yaalon said this month, adding that the cost of weapons and communications systems had also jumped.

Israel already spends more on a defense as a proportion of GDP – around six percent – than every other country in the world aside from Saudi Arabia, Oman and Afghanistan.

Yaalon’s proposed increase for 2015 – which exceeds the legally permitted annual budget increase – would raise the level to around 6.6 percent of GDP, while swallowing about a quarter of all 2015 spending before debt-servicing costs.

“The finance ministry doesn’t understand anything about military threats,” said Shmuel Even, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who says there is very little fat to cut from the defense budget.

Yet less than half of defense spending actually goes to military equipment, operations and intelligence – a large portion goes to finance generous pensions paid to officers who often retire in their 40s before starting second careers.

The finance ministry is keen to clamp down on those benefits and “streamline” what it sees as inefficient spending.

“Israel’s economy cannot bear all of that 11 billion in the budget,” a senior finance ministry official said, referring to the defense ministry’s requested spending increase.

“We try to do more with less,” the official said. “Our job as the finance ministry is to make sure we save some money for other purposes of the government.”

Yet the battle appears to be going the other way, with Yaalon convincing Netanyahu that the country, which has fought four wars in the past eight years and faces multiple threats, cannot afford to take its foot off military spending.

As a result, either taxes will have to be increased or spending on education, welfare and health will have to be trimmed to keep the deficit around 3 percent of GDP.

“Healthcare, education, public transportation, police forces – they are all needed for Israelis’ security too,” said a frustrated Shaffir, the finance committee member.

Here’s Why Activists Are Blocking an Israeli Ship From Docking Anywhere on the West Coast

A coordinated “Block the Boat” solidarity action will leave Israel looking elsewhere to unload its goods.

Amidst the terror Israel has unleashed on Gaza, activists on the West Coast have organized a Palestinian solidarity action that is not only politically symbolic, but economically hits Israel where it hurts.

2010_protestStarting Saturday, activists in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle plan to block an Israeli ship from unloading goods at their city’s ports as part of a larger boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. These “Block the Boat” actions come as a response to the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions’ call for supporters to “educate and build awareness among the labor movements of the U.S., and urge them to condemn the Israeli aggression and to boycott Israel.”

On Saturday, organizers in Oakland will march to the port and form a picket line in front of its gates early in the morning before the port workers, who are members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, are scheduled to begin their shift. Organizers are hoping to stop workers from unloading a ship owned by Zim Integrated Shipping Services, which is the biggest cargo shipping company in Israel and has ties to the Israeli government and military via stock ownership.

More than 1,000 protesters are expected at the Oakland action, said Reem Assil of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, which is one of the more than 70 groups endorsing the event.

“Symbolically for Oakland we can say, ‘not in our name,’” Assil said. “We’re not going to be complicit and an accomplice to the ongoing genocide and massacres going on.”

Oakland organizers have coordinated with supporters in Long Beach, CA, and the ports of Tacoma and Seattle in Washington in hopes that Zim can’t reroute to another port on the West Coast like it did four years ago. In 2010, in response to Israel’s attack on a flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza, Oakland activists and port workers made history by being the first to ever block an Israeli ship in the United States. That ship, however, re-docked in Los Angeles a day after, and unloaded there.

“This time, we want to make sure there’s a disruption to Israel commerce all over the West Coast,” Assil said, adding that this would cause a sustained economic burden on the company.

The Oakland organizers’ biggest coordination efforts, however, have been with the labor movement. In fact, the event, which was originally scheduled for August 2, was postponed in order to do more outreach to the ILWU workers.

“We don’t want workers to be alienated, we want workers to be part of the fight,” Assil said. “And so we have spent the last few weeks really honoring that commitment and building with the workers themselves.”

Assil said Block the Boat organizers and active members of the ILWU have been flyering and talking to members about the Saturday action in terms of “worker power”—especially because they are currently under negotiation for a new contract.

But these negotiations have made the action this year more complicated than in the past. For one, ILWU is unable to take an official stand on the action. Also, during negotiations there is no arbitrator who can evaluate the port during the Block the Boat action and deem working conditions unsafe; this happened in 2010, leaving workers with no option of crossing the picket line.

This, along with a loss of double-time pay for workers, presents difficulties for a successful action. An ILWU port worker named Anthony, who is spreading the word about Block the Boat, said he responds to co-workers’ financial concerns by talking about the bigger picture.

Anthony said, “I ask them, ‘Are you okay with innocent people being killed?’’’

The ILWU, however, has a track record of taking a stand on social justice issues and not crossing community pickets, Assil said. Furthermore, the union’s historic fight against South African apartheid has been one of the major talking points organizers are using in an attempt to convey the Palestinian struggle to a largely African American workforce at the port. In 1984, ILWU workers made history when they refused to unload a South African ship, sparking other port workers to follow suit worldwide.

While Zim ships currently unload every Saturday in Oakland, Assil said the Block the Boat action is just the beginning of their long-term plan of educating and organizing port workers with the goal of permanently boycotting Israeli goods in the future.

“While direct actions are really amazing and they do cause one-day disruptions, we know that the real work of the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement is really to garner ground up support,” she said. “And part of that support has to come from the workers.”

The other part has to come from community members. Assil advises anyone concerned about the U.S.’s role in killing innocent people to come to the Saturday action. She said the blockade will send a message to the Obama administration to end its support of Israel, as citizens are no longer willing to have atrocities committed against Palestinians in their name. But Assil said this action is more than just protesting U.S. militarization overseas.

“The police forces here in the U.S. are actually being trained by the Israel Defense Forces,” she said. “The police shootings of unarmed black civilians here in the U.S. is not much different than what the occupation forces are doing in Palestine. So we need to make those connections.”

As a Palestinian-American whose family members were active in the Palestinian struggle, Assil said another reason she will be blocking the boat is to inspire youth to recognize the importance of continuing the fight.

“Palestine is a long and hard fight. I know this all too well,” Assil said. “I flash back to when I was young saying, ‘Why do we continue to fight? The monster, it seems so big.’ But these are the moments when I truly believe the tides are turning and things are shifting, and the movement to free Palestine is growing. We have to seize this moment.”

Follow the links for more information on Block the Boat actions in Oakland, Long Beach and Seattle/Tacoma. There will also be solidarity actions in New York City and Miami

Netanyahu asks U.S. congressmen to protect Israel from war crimes charges

aljazeera1

Photo: Getty –  Aljazzera

 

(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked U.S. lawmakers to help Israel avoid war crimes charges stemming from the Gaza conflict.

Netanyahu asked a delegation of visiting legislators to help keep Israel out of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Rep. Steven Israel (D-N.Y.) told the New York Post in an interview Wednesday from Israel, the newspaper reported.

Palestinian Authority leaders met Wednesday with officials from the court to discuss the process of joining.

The Palestinians and other world leaders have charged that Israel committed war crimes by firing on civilian areas of Gaza during its operation. Experts have suggested that Palestinians in Gaza also could be charged with war crimes for firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, most in civilian areas.

Netanyahu “wants the U.S. to use all the tools that we have at our disposal to, number one, make sure the world knows that war crimes were not committed by Israel, they were committed by Hamas. And that Israel should not be held to a double standard,” Israel the congressman told the Post.