Who Is Behind the 25,000 Deaths In Mexico?

By Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy

July 28, 2010

With at least 25,000 people slaughtered in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón hurled the Mexican Army into the anti-cartel battle, three questions remain unanswered: Who is being killed, who is doing the killing and why are people being killed? This is apparently considered a small matter to US leaders in the discussions about failed states, narco-states and the false claim that violence is spilling across the border.

President Calderón has stated repeatedly that 90 percent of the dead are connected to drug organizations. The United States has silently endorsed this statement and is bankrolling it with $1.4 billion through Plan Mérida, the three-year assistance plan passed by the Bush administration in 2008. Yet the daily torrent of local press accounts from Ciudad Juárez makes it clear that most of the murder victims are ordinary Mexicans who magically morph into drug cartel members before their blood dries on the streets, sidewalks, vacant lots, pool halls and barrooms where they fall dead, riddled with bullets. Juárez is ground zero in this war: more than one-fourth of the 25,000 dead that the Mexican government admits to since December 2006 have occurred in this one border city of slightly over 1.5 million people, nearly 6,300 as of July 21, 2010. When three people attached to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez were killed in March this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the murders “the latest horrible reminder of how much work we have to do together.”

Just what is this work?

No one seems to know, but on the ground it is death. Calderón’s war, assisted by the United States, terrorizes the Mexican people, generates thousands of documented human rights abuses by the police and Mexican Army and inspires lies told by American politicians that violence is spilling across the border (in fact, it has been declining on the US side of the border for years).

We are told of a War on Drugs that has no observable effect on drug distribution, price or sales in the United States. We are told the Mexican Army is incorruptible, when the Mexican government’s own human rights office has collected thousands of complaints that the army robs, kidnaps, steals, tortures, rapes and kills innocent citizens. We are told repeatedly that it is a war between cartels or that it is a war by the Mexican government against cartels, yet no evidence is presented to back up these claims. The evidence we do have is that the killings are not investigated, that the military suffers almost no casualties and that thousands of Mexicans have filed affidavits claiming abuse, often lethal, by the Mexican army.

Here is the US policy in a nutshell: we pay Mexicans to kill Mexicans, and this slaughter has no effect on drug shipments or prices.

This war gets personal. A friend calls late at night from Juárez and says if he is murdered before morning, be sure to tell his wife. It never occurs to him to call the police, nor does it occur to you.

A friend who is a Mexican reporter flees to the United States because the Mexican Army has come to his house and plans to kill him for writing a news story that displeases the generals. He is promptly thrown into prison by the Department of Homeland Security because he is considered a menace to American society.

On the Mexican side, a mother, stepfather and pregnant daughter are chased down on a highway in the Valle de Juárez, and shot in their car, while two toddlers watch. On the US side, a man receives a phone call and his father tells him, “I’m dying, I’m dying, I’m dead.” He hears his sister pleading for her life, “Don’t kill me. No don’t kill me.” He thinks his niece and nephew are dead also, but they are taken to a hospital, sprayed with shattered glass. The little boy watched his mother die, her head blown apart by the bullets. A cousin waits in a parking lot surrounded by chainlink and razor-wire on the US side of the bridge for the bodies to be delivered so that he can bring them home. The next day, the family takes to the parking lots of two fast-food outlets in their hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a carwash. Young girls in pink shorts and T-shirts wave hand-lettered signs. They will wash your car and accept donations to help bury their parents and sister, to buy clothes for two small orphans. “This was just a family,” says cousin Cristina, collecting donations in a zippered bag. She says they are in shock, the full impact of what happened has yet to sink in. So for now, they will raise the money they need to take care of the children. An American family.

Or, you visit the room where nine people were shot to death in August 2008 as they raised their arms to praise God during a prayer meeting. Forty hours later, flies buzz over what lingers in cracks in the tile floor and bloody handprints mark the wall. This was the scene of the first of several mass killings at drug rehab centers where at least fifty people have been massacred over the past two years in Juárez and Chihuahua City. An evangelical preacher who survived the slaughter that night said she saw a truckload of soldiers parked at the end of the street a hundred yards from the building and that the automatic rifle fire went on for fifteen minutes.

Or you talk with a former member of the Juárez cartel who is shocked to learn of a new cabinet appointment by President Calderón because he says he used to deliver suitcases of money to the man as payment from the Juárez cartel.

The claim that ninety percent of the dead are criminals seems at best to be self-delusion. In June 2010, El Universal, a major daily in Mexico City, noted that the federal government had investigated only 5 percent of the first 22,000 executions, according to confidential material turned over to the Mexican Senate by the Mexican Attorney General. What constituted an investigation was not explained.

On June 21, Cronica, another Mexico City paper, presented a National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) study that examined more than 5,000 complaints filed by Mexican citizens against the army. Besides incidents of rape, murder, torture, kidnapping and robbery, the report described scenes like the following: “June 1, 2007, in the community of La Joya de los Martinez, Sinaloa de Leyva: Members of the Army were camped at the edge of the highway, drinking alcoholic beverages. Two of them were inebriated and probably under the influence of some drug. They opened fire against a truck that drove along the road carrying eight members of the Esparza Galaviz family. One adult and two minors died…The soldiers arranged sacks of decomposing marijuana on the vehicle that had been attacked and killed one of their own soldiers, whose body was arranged at the crime scene to indicate that the civilian drivers had been the aggressors and had killed the soldier.”

The CNDH also names the army as responsible for the shooting deaths of Martin and Brayan Almanza Salazar, aged 9 and 5, on April 3, 2010, as they traveled to the beach in Matamoros with their family. The only thing noteworthy about these cases is that they ever became public knowledge. Many more victims and survivors remain silent—afraid to report what has happened to them to any Mexican official or news reporter.

Such incidents pass unnoticed in the US press and apparently do not capture the attention of our government. Nor does the fact that in the midst of what is repeatedly called a war against drug cartels by both the American and Mexican governments and press, Mexican soldiers seem immune to bullets. With over 8,000 Mexicans killed in 2009 alone, the army reported losses of thirty-five that year. According to Reporters Without Borders, a total of sixty-seven journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while eleven others have gone missing since 2003. Mexico is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to be reporter. And possibly the safest place in the world to be a soldier.

When there is a noteworthy massacre, the Mexican government says it proves the drug industry is crumbling. When there is a period of relative peace, the Mexican government says it shows their policy is winning. On the night of July 15, a remote-controlled car bomb exploded in downtown Juárez, killing at least three people—a federal policeman, a kidnap victim dressed in a police uniform and used as a decoy and a physician who rushed to the scene from his private office to help dozens of people injured in the blast. A graffiti message attributed the blast to the Juárez cartel and claimed it as a warning to police who work for the Sinaloa cartel.

On July 20, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, minimized the Juárez bombing, saying that it was not aimed indiscriminately at civilians and that it did not indicate any escalation in violence. He parroted the declaration of Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chávez that the motivation for the bombing is economic, not ideological, and that “we have no evidence in the country of narco-terrorism.” US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual also indicated that this violence in Mexico, which also included a grenade attack on the US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo a few months ago, “is disturbing but has not reached the level of terrorism.” We are supposed to believe in their evidence that 90 percent of the dead are criminals, but that they have no evidence at all of narco-terrorism? This, despite numerous incidents of grenades and other explosives being used in recent attacks in the states of Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Sonora and many other places in Mexico. And that “armed commandos” dressed like soldiers and wielding high-powered machine guns are witnessed at the scenes of hundreds of massacres documented since 2008.

No one asks or answers this question: How does such an escalation benefit the drug smuggling business which has not been diminished at all during the past three years of hyper-violence in Mexico? Each year, the death toll rises, each year there is no evidence of any disruption in the delivery of drugs to American consumers, each year the United States asserts its renewed support for this war. And each year, the basic claims about the war go unquestioned.

Let us make this simple: no one knows how many are dying, no one knows who is killing them and no one knows what role the drug industry has in these killings. There has been no investigation of the dead and so no one really knows whether they were criminals or why they died. There have been no interviews with heads of drug organizations and so no one really knows what they are thinking or what they are trying to accomplish.

It is difficult to have a useful discussion without facts, but it seems to be very easy to make policy without facts. We can look forward to fewer facts and more unquestioned and unsubstantiated government claims. Such as the response by General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, to a 2008 report by El Diario de Juárez that one out of three Juárez citizens believed the army occupation of the city had accomplished little or nothing. “Those who feel this way, it is because their interests are affected or because they are paid by the narco-traffickers,” he said. “Who are these citizens?”

General Jorge Juárez Loera, the first commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, put it this way: “I would like to see reporters change their articles and instead of writing about one more murder victim, they should say, ‘one less criminal.’ ” Source

So who is behind the murder of these people the US and Mexican Governments. This is just a way to terrorize the Mexican people. There is no war on Drugs it is just a fabricated bunch of crap used to kill people.  If there was a real war on drugs do you think the US soldiers would be guarding the poppy field in Afghanistan.  People, drugs on the streets are good for governments, drugged up people are easier to manipulate. It also gives the governments scape goats to use to steal more tax dollars for scrupulous purposes.  The money is then used for well obviously the Military, in other words war. Profits are made from the sale of weapons etc etc.

The so called drug war is a scam. Always was and always will be. How much you want to bet a lot or all of the money used for the Mexican Military is spent in the US. Weapons manufacturers benefit from Mexico’s fake drug war.  US tax dollars again making Americas rich, richer.

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Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 3:23 am  Comments Off on Who Is Behind the 25,000 Deaths In Mexico?  
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Israel bombards Gaza – and threatens worse

April 3 2010

By Catrina Stewart

Israel yesterday threatened to launch a second military offensive in Gaza, just hours after its jets and helicopters pounded the coastal enclave in response to the firing of a Qassam rocket by militants in the strip.

The Israeli military said it had successfully hit four targets across Gaza in the early hours of yesterday morning – two weapons-manufacturing plants and two arms caches.

Eyewitnesses in Gaza said there were at least seven strikes, and a cheese factory, a film studio and metal workshop in the central refugee camp of Nuseirat had been hit. Hospital officials said three Palestinian children had been injured after being hit by flying debris.

The Qassam rocket, which prompted the aerial strikes, was fired from Gaza into Israel on Thursday. It caused no damage and no Palestinian faction has claimed responsibility.

“If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas,” Silvan Shalom, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, told public radio.”We won’t allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation.”

Yesterday’s Israeli aerial strikes mark the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s most significant military incursion in Gaza since the devastating offensive in December 2008, which lasted 22 days and killed 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and 13 Israelis.

In recent weeks, tensions have ratcheted up, ending months of relative calm. Two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian fighters were killed last week in a fierce border skirmish after Israelis crossed into the strip.

Britain’s Foreign Office last night called for restraint. “We are concerned by today’s strikes and the escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel over the past week,” it said in a statement. “We encourage Israelis and Palestinians to focus efforts on negotiation and to engage urgently in US-backed proximity talks.”

According to the Israeli tally, 20 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza last month, and 40 since the beginning of the year. While Islamist groups largely hostile to Hamas have claimed responsibility for previous rocket attacks, Israel insists that ultimate responsibility lies with Hamas, which has controlled the strip since 2007.

Hamas yesterday accused Israel of stoking tensions with its “escalation” of military activity. But it also said it was “making contact with the factions to safeguard internal agreement” – an apparent effort to bring Islamist groups into line.

Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader exiled in Damascus, said earlier in the week that it was not in the Islamist group’s interests to escalate tensions, and that it would maintain the calm, but it has been careful not to openly condemn rocket attacks on Israel.

The latest tensions come as Israel is embroiled in a deepening row with its closest ally, the United States, over an ill-timed decision to build 1,600 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem.

The US is now seeking far-reaching concessions from Israel, including the easing of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, to show it is serious about negotiating a peace deal with the Palestinians. Israel is not expected to provide a formal response until after the end of the Jewish Passover holiday.

Source

Israeli planes and helicopters mount Gaza attacks

April 2 2010

Israeli planes and helicopters mounted at least seven missile attacks on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip today, destroying what a military spokesman described as Palestinian munitions sites.

Four air strikes blew up two caravans near the town of Khan Younis, witnesses and Hamas officials said. There were no casualties in this attack.

A fifth missile hit a cheese factory in Gaza City, setting it on fire, the witnesses and Hamas officials said. Hospital officials said two children were slightly wounded by flying debris.

Helicopters struck twice in the central refugee camp of Nusseirat, destroying a metal foundry and no one was injured.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the attacks, saying they had targeted two weapons-manufacturing plants and two arms caches.

The air strikes were Israel’s response to a Palestinian short-range rocket that was fired across the border into the Jewish state on Thursday, the spokesman said. The attack, which went unclaimed by any Palestinian faction, caused no damage.

Israel has said it will hold Hamas responsible for any attacks on its cities from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said the Islamist group was trying to reaffirm an agreement reached last year with other Palestinian factions to curb the rocket fire.

An Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip early last year was designed to counter such salvoes. Rocket attacks have resumed sporadically in recent weeks and Israel has responded with air strikes. Source

Auh yes the old rockets into Israel ploy again. Well I really have to wonder if Israel isn’t arranging these rockets themselves. The do false Flags a lot.

Israel has been bombing Gaza for some time this again is not new.

They always have of course some feeble excuse or other. They just want to kill and torment those in Gaza.

They do everything imaginable to torment them.

I for one really don’t believe the rocket story any more.

If Israel ever told the truth about anything well maybe one could believe it but they lie continually about everything. For them any old excuse works, with no oversight to what they actually do.

Auh yes  Israel is yet again playing the victim card.

They just want to blow up what is left of Gaza.

They want to kill more innocent people. That is what they love to do most.

Maybe Israel should stop stealing land  for illegal settlements and stop assassinating people.

Israel has been getting away with murder and theft for over 60 years.

No  Remnants found

April 3 2010

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel’s Army Radio reported Friday that Ashkelon police have not been able to locate the remnants of a projectile they said was fired from Gaza after the area’s Color Red siren was sounded.

The Israeli news site Ynet said investigators announced the projectile was a “Qassam rocket … launched from the Gaza Strip.”

There were no reports of damage or injury.

The launch followed an overnight Israeli airstrike that injured three children when missiles struck a dairy factory in the north of the Gaza Strip. A second factory and police headquarters were also targeted, witnesses said.

Medics said debris from the strikes damaged buildings, and flying shrapnel caused moderate injuries to three children aged one, four, and 11. Source

What  rocket damage sent to Israel looks like

From http://www.rense.com

What one from Israel in Gaza looks like

Smoke billows from a targeted location in the northern Gaza Strip  following an Israeli air raid, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border

Smoke billows from a targeted location in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli air raid, as seen from the Israeli-Gaza border Picture: GETTY

More pictures of Gaza  HERE

Fatah probably launched the rockets. Divide and conquer.

The Gaza Bombshell

After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, the author reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

By David Rose

April 2008

The Al Deira Hotel, in Gaza City, is a haven of calm in a land beset by poverty, fear, and violence. In the middle of December 2007, I sit in the hotel’s airy restaurant, its windows open to the Mediterranean, and listen to a slight, bearded man named Mazen Asad abu Dan describe the suffering he endured 11 months before at the hands of his fellow Palestinians. Abu Dan, 28, is a member of Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, but I have a good reason for taking him at his word: I’ve seen the video.

To hear an interview with David Rose and to see documents he uncovered, click here.

It shows abu Dan kneeling, his hands bound behind his back, and screaming as his captors pummel him with a black iron rod. “I lost all the skin on my back from the beatings,” he says. “Instead of medicine, they poured perfume on my wounds. It felt as if they had taken a sword to my injuries.”

On January 26, 2007, abu Dan, a student at the Islamic University of Gaza, had gone to a local cemetery with his father and five others to erect a headstone for his grandmother. When they arrived, however, they found themselves surrounded by 30 armed men from Hamas’s rival, Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. “They took us to a house in north Gaza,” abu Dan says. “They covered our eyes and took us to a room on the sixth floor.”

The video reveals a bare room with white walls and a black-and-white tiled floor, where abu Dan’s father is forced to sit and listen to his son’s shrieks of pain. Afterward, abu Dan says, he and two of the others were driven to a market square. “They told us they were going to kill us. They made us sit on the ground.” He rolls up the legs of his trousers to display the circular scars that are evidence of what happened next: “They shot our knees and feet—five bullets each. I spent four months in a wheelchair.”

Abu Dan had no way of knowing it, but his tormentors had a secret ally: the administration of President George W. Bush.

A clue comes toward the end of the video, which was found in a Fatah security building by Hamas fighters last June. Still bound and blindfolded, the prisoners are made to echo a rhythmic chant yelled by one of their captors: “By blood, by soul, we sacrifice ourselves for Muhammad Dahlan! Long live Muhammad Dahlan!”

There is no one more hated among Hamas members than Muhammad Dahlan, long Fatah’s resident strongman in Gaza. Dahlan, who most recently served as Abbas’s national-security adviser, has spent more than a decade battling Hamas. Dahlan insists that abu Dan was tortured without his knowledge, but the video is proof that his followers’ methods can be brutal.

Bush has met Dahlan on at least three occasions. After talks at the White House in July 2003, Bush publicly praised Dahlan as “a good, solid leader.” In private, say multiple Israeli and American officials, the U.S. president described him as “our guy.”

The United States has been involved in the affairs of the Palestinian territories since the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel captured Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. With the 1993 Oslo accords, the territories acquired limited autonomy, under a president, who has executive powers, and an elected parliament. Israel retains a large military presence in the West Bank, but it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

In recent months, President Bush has repeatedly stated that the last great ambition of his presidency is to broker a deal that would create a viable Palestinian state and bring peace to the Holy Land. “People say, ‘Do you think it’s possible, during your presidency?’ ” he told an audience in Jerusalem on January 9. “And the answer is: I’m very hopeful.”

The next day, in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, Bush acknowledged that there was a rather large obstacle standing in the way of this goal: Hamas’s complete control of Gaza, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, where it seized power in a bloody coup d’état in June 2007. Almost every day, militants fire rockets from Gaza into neighboring Israeli towns, and President Abbas is powerless to stop them. His authority is limited to the West Bank.

It’s “a tough situation,” Bush admitted. “I don’t know whether you can solve it in a year or not.” What Bush neglected to mention was his own role in creating this mess.

According to Dahlan, it was Bush who had pushed legislative elections in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, despite warnings that Fatah was not ready. After Hamas—whose 1988 charter committed it to the goal of driving Israel into the sea—won control of the parliament, Bush made another, deadlier miscalculation.

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.

Some sources call the scheme “Iran-contra 2.0,” recalling that Abrams was convicted (and later pardoned) for withholding information from Congress during the original Iran-contra scandal under President Reagan. There are echoes of other past misadventures as well: the C.I.A.’s 1953 ouster of an elected prime minister in Iran, which set the stage for the 1979 Islamic revolution there; the aborted 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, which gave Fidel Castro an excuse to solidify his hold on Cuba; and the contemporary tragedy in Iraq.

Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.

Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,” Wurmser says.

The botched plan has rendered the dream of Middle East peace more remote than ever, but what really galls neocons such as Wurmser is the hypocrisy it exposed. “There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,” he says. “It directly contradicts it.”

Preventive Security

Bush was not the first American president to form a relationship with Muhammad Dahlan. “Yes, I was close to Bill Clinton,” Dahlan says. “I met Clinton many times with [the late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat.” In the wake of the 1993 Oslo accords, Clinton sponsored a series of diplomatic meetings aimed at reaching a permanent Middle East peace, and Dahlan became the Palestinians’ negotiator on security.

As I talk to Dahlan in a five-star Cairo hotel, it’s easy to see the qualities that might make him attractive to American presidents. His appearance is immaculate, his English is serviceable, and his manner is charming and forthright. Had he been born into privilege, these qualities might not mean much. But Dahlan was born—on September 29, 1961—in the teeming squalor of Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp, and his education came mostly from the street. In 1981 he helped found Fatah’s youth movement, and he later played a leading role in the first intifada—the five-year revolt that began in 1987 against the Israeli occupation. In all, Dahlan says, he spent five years in Israeli jails. Source

So Fatah members could very easily launch the rockets and Israel of course as usual Blames Hamas. What a tidy set up. This also gave Israel reason, a fabricated reason to attack Gaza and kill more innocent people.

Israel probably set it up. When Israel wants an excuse to attack Gaza it creates one. Just a point of interest. Fatah and Israel have  access to weapons, where as those in Gaza do not. Who would let weapons into Gaza at the checkpoints . Israel of course. So if Israel wants to create a problem Israel certainly could very easily. Would they, well of course they would.

It is easier for Israel to smuggle rockets into  Gaza then it is for Hamas.

After all they still want the Natural Gas of the Shores of Gaza now don’t they?

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Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 12:10 am  Comments Off on Israel bombards Gaza – and threatens worse  
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March 11-17 2010 Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Salem-News.com

Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law escalated in the OPT during the reporting period (11 – 17 March 2010).

(HEBRON) – The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reports the latest military action by Israel’s military toward Palestinian civilians. A number of shootings are reported.

They say that during the reporting period, 31 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children and 5 women, were wounded when IOF used excessive force against peaceful demonstrations organized in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall and settlement activities in the West Bank.

In the same time frame, IOF (Israeli Occupational Forces) issued a military order declaring the area of the Annexation Wall in Bal’ein and Ne’lin villages, west of Ramallah, a closed military zone on Fridays, banning access of Palestinian civilians to the area. According to the order, such ban will remain effective until 17 August 2010.

In the Gaza Strip, IOF fired at Palestinian workers and fishing boats. They also fire at a peaceful protest against the security zone IOF plan to establish along the border.

On 12 March 2010, Israeli warplanes bombarded and destroyed a factory of plastics in Khan Yunis.

Incursions: During the reporting period, IOF conducted at least 13 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. IOF arrested 27 Palestinian civilians, including two children and a journalist.

In the Gaza Strip, on 12 March 2010, IOF moved into the east of Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip. They leveled areas of land which they had already razed.

Restrictions on Movement: IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

Gaza Strip

IOF have continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The Israeli siege of Gaza, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

  • On Friday, 01 January 2010, IOF decided to close the crossing permanently, and to allow the entry of fuels through Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, southeast of Rafah, for security claims.
  • 1.5 million people are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.
  • The main concern of the population of the Gaza Strip is to obtain their basic needs of food, medicines, water and electricity supplies.
  • IOF have continued to prevent the entry of raw construction materials into the Gaza Strip for more than two years.
  • IOF have not allowed fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip, excluding few amounts of cooking gas and energy fuel for Gaza Power Plant, since 10 December 2008.
  • The Rafah International Crossing Point has been opened for a few days for a number of patients who received medical treatment abroad and needed to return home to the Gaza Strip.
  • IOF have continued to close Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the face of Palestinian civilians wishing to travel to the West Bank and Israeli for medical treatment, trade or social visits.
  • IOF have imposed additional restrictions on access of international diplomats, journalists and humanitarian workers to the Gaza Strip. They have prevented representatives of several international humanitarian organizations from entering the Gaza Strip.
  • Living conditions of the Palestinian civilian population have seriously deteriorated; levels of poverty and unemployment have sharply mounted.
  • · At least 800 Gazan prisoners in Israeli jails have been deprived for family visitation for more than two years.
  • IOF have continued to attack Palestinian fishermen along the Gaza Strip coast.

West Bank

IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be denied access to Jerusalem.

  • IOF have established checkpoints in and around Jerusalem, severely restricting Palestinian access to the city. Civilians are frequently prevented from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
  • There are approximately permanent 630 roadblocks, manned and unmanned checkpoints across the West Bank. In addition, there are some 60-80 ‘flying’ or temporary checkpoints erected across the West Bank by IOF every week.
  • When complete, the illegal Annexation Wall will stretch for 724 kilometers around the West Bank, further isolating the entire population. 350 kilometers of the Wall has already been constructed. Approximately 99% of the Wall has been constructed inside the West Bank itself, further confiscating Palestinian land.
  • At least 65% of the main roads that leads to 18 Palestinian communities in the West Bank are closed or fully controlled by IOF (47 out of 72 roads).
  • There are around 500 kilometers of restricted roads across the West Bank. In addition, approximately one third of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to Palestinians without a permit issued by the IOF. These permits are extremely difficult to obtain.
  • IOF continue to harass, and assault demonstrators who hold peaceful protests against the construction of the Annexation Wall.
  • Palestinian civilians continue to be harassed by IOF in Jerusalem, and across the West Bank, including being regularly stopped and searched in the streets by IOF.

Efforts to Create a Jewish Majority in Jerusalem: On Thursday, 11 March 2010, IOF started imposing increased restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the old city. According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of Border Police officers established military checkpoints at the entrances of the old city, on all of the streets inside the walls of the old city, as well as on streets in the immediate vicinity. They prevented all those who were not residents of the old city from entering it. In addition, Palestinians under 50 years of age were not permitted to enter al-Aqsa Mosque, all gates to the al-Aqsa compound, with the exception of al-Majles, Hattah and al-Selselah gates, were closed. On Saturday, 13 March 2010, IOF closed al-Aqsa Secondary School for Girls, the Shari’a Secondary School and the Islamic Kindergarten of al-Aqsa, all of which are located inside al-Aqsa compound. These measures, which are still ongoing, came on the eve of the inauguration of a synagogue in al-Shorfah neighborhood. The synagogue is located 300 meters to the west of al-Aqsa Mosque and was inaugurated yesterday, on Monday, 15 March 2010.

Settlement Activities: IOF have continued settlement activities and Israeli settlers living in the OPT in violation of international humanitarian law have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On Thursday morning, 11 March, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem set out plans to build thousands of housing units in Jerusalem, especially in the east and south of the city. The plans are supported by the Israeli government. The distribution of the new unit is like this: 3,000 units in “Gilo” settlement; 1,500 one in “Har Homa” settlement; 1,500 ones in “Pisgat Ze’ev” settlement; 3,000 one in “Giv’at Matosim” settlement; 1,200 ones in “Ramot” settlement; 600 ones in “Armona Netseev” settlement; 450 in “Neve Yacov” settlement; and 144 ones in “Olive Mount” settlement. A new settlement neighborhood of 13,000 housing unit will also be established near al-Walaja village, northwest of Bethlehem.

On Friday morning, 12 March 2010, dozens of Israeli settlers from “Elli” settlement attacked Battisha area in the northwest of Qaryout village, southeast of Nablus. They uprooted 40 olive trees.

Israeli Violations Documented during the Reporting Period (11 – 17 March 2010)

1. Incursions into Palestinian Areas and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

Thursday, 11 March 2010

· At approximately 23:45, Israeli war planes dropped a bomb on al-Shouka village near the Egyptian border, southeast of Rafah, allegedly to destroy tunnels. No casualties or damage were reported.

Friday, 12 March 2010

  • At approximately 00:30, IOF moved into Ramallah. A number of Palestinian boys gathered and threw stones at Israeli military vehicles. Immediately, Israeli troops fired at the boys. They withdrew from the town later, and no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 01:00, IOF moved into Jenin town and refugee camp. They raided and searched a number of houses, but no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 09:40, IOF moved nearly 200 meters into the east of Jabalya town in the northern Gaza Strip. They leveled areas of land, which they had already razed. At approximately 11:10, IOF moved south towards the east of al-Tuffah neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. IOF redeployed outside these areas in the evening. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 11:20, Israeli troops stationed on observation towers at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at a number of Palestinian workers who were collecting bricks and iron bars from the debris of destroyed buildings. The workers fled and no casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 22:10, Israeli gunboats stationed opposite to Beit Lahia beach in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats. Palestinian fishermen were forced to sail back to the beach, and no casualties or damage were reported.
  • At approximately 23:30, Israeli warplanes dropped two bombs on a factory of plastics in al-Satar al-Gharbi area in Khan Yunis. The 1,600-square-meter factor, which belongs to Msallam Mohammed al-Haddad, was destroyed almost completely. A nearby factory was also damaged.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

  • At approximately 01:00, IOF moved into al-Duhaisha refugee camp, south of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to the family of Hamed Mohammed Hammad, 35, and arrested him.
  • At approximately 02:30, IOF moved into al-Shurfa neighborhood in al-Bireh. They raided and searched a house belonging to Maher ‘Abdullah Jom’a, and arrested his wife, Amani Jom’a, 37.

Monday, 15 March 2010

· At approximately 00:00, IOF moved into Sourif village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a number of houses and arrested 7 Palestinian civilians:

  1. Ahmed Jamal Abu Fara, 18;
  2. Adham Hamdi Abu Fara, 18;
  3. Ahmed Shaker al-Heeh, 19;
  4. Bahaa’ Mazen Ehmaidat, 18;
  5. Mahmoud Mousa al-Masri, 18;
  6. ‘Alaa’ Ibrahim Barath’iya, 18; and
  7. Mahmoud Mousa Ehmaidat, 18.
  • At approximately 01:00, IOF moved into Kharbtha Bani Hareth village, west of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses and summoned Mohammed Bilal al-Sheikh, 21, and Khaled Nemer al-‘Abed, 26.
  • At approximately 02:00, IOF moved into Salem village, east of Nablus. They besieged a 5-storey apartment building, in which 5 families counting 30 people live. They ordered resident of the building to get out. Israeli troops verified their identity cards and held them in one room on the third floor, excluding Ibrahim Jameel Eshtayeh, 26, who was held on the second floor. Soon after, Israeli troops searched the building using dogs. At approximately 03:30, Israeli troop withdrew from the area detaining Eshtayeh.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

· At approximately 02:00, IOF moved into Beit Reema village, north of Ramallah. They raided and searched a number of houses and arrested 3 Palestinian civilians:

  1. Ghassan ‘Abbas al-Reemawi, 19;
  2. Saddam Tayseer al-Asmar, 19; and
  3. ‘Orabi Hussein al-Reemawi, 35.

· At approximately 11:00, the Israeli police stormed the African quarter in the old town of Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses and fired tear gas canisters in alleys. A number of old people suffered from tear gas inhalation. The Israeli police arrested 5 Palestinian civilians, including a child and a journalist:

  1. Haitham Jadda;
  2. Tha’er Seder;
  3. Shadi Seder;
  4. ‘Abdul Qader al-Qadhi; and
  5. Mousa Qous, a journalist.
  • · At approximately 12:05, Israeli troops stationed at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northwest of Beit Lahia town fired into the air to force Palestinian demonstrators who organized a peaceful protest over an Israeli decision to create a 300-meter-wide buffer zone along the border. No casualties were reported.
  • · At approximately 20:30, IOF moved into Madama village, southeast of Nablus. They patrolled in the streets and detonated 3 sound bombs. They also arrested 3 Palestinian civilians in the streets:
  1. Ahmed Jebril Ziada, 25;
  2. Ahmed ‘Abdul Ghani Ziada, 19; and
  3. Wissam Rezeq Ziada, 19.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

· At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron. They raided and searched a number of houses and arrested 3 Palestinian civilians:

  1. Ameer Ibrahim Sabarna, 20;
  2. Ibrahim Sa’id ‘Awadh, 17; and
  3. Eyad ‘Omar Sabarna, 20.
  • At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into Housan village, west of Bethlehem. They raided and searched a house belonging to the family of Shadi Mohammed Za’oul, 17, and arrested him.
  • At noon, Israeli troops chased a number of Palestinian children into Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, claiming that they threw stones at a checkpoint established at the entrance of the village. Israeli troop fired rubber-coated metal bullet at the children. As a result, Khaled Ahmed al-‘Allami, 14, was wounded in the head.
    1. Mohammed Ahmed Hamad, 18, wounded in the right leg; and
    2. Mohammed Adeeb Abu Rahma, 15, wounded in the back.
    1. ‘Omar Salah Tamimi, 25, wounded in the back;
    2. Shadi ‘Ali Tamimi, 29, wounded in the head;
    3. Majd Daifallah Tamimi, 16, wounded in the back;
    4. Shokri Mahmoud Tamimi, 29, wounded in the left leg;
    5. Ziad ‘Abdul Raziq Tamimi, wounded in the left leg;
    6. Rami Hussein Tamimi, 28, wounded in the back;
    7. Nasser Hassan Tamimi, 27, wounded in the left leg;
    8. Ref’at Wajeeh Tamimi, 23, wounded in the back;
    9. Mohammed Jalal Tamimi, 25, wounded in the right hand;
    10. Ra’fat Wajeeh Tamimi, 24, wounded in the back;
    11. Ra’fat Tal’at Tamimi, 22, wounded in the right hand;
    12. ‘Aatef Mohammed Tamimi, 22, wounded in the back;
    13. Mo’taz Jalal Tamimi, 16, wounded in the left leg;
    14. Ahmed Mohammed Reemawi, 23, wounded in the back;
    15. ‘Abdul Hakim Mohammed Tamimi, 24, wounded in the right leg;
    16. Murad Saif Tamimi, 23, wounded in the back;
    17. Bahaa’ Jalal Tamimi, 23, wounded in the right leg; and
    18. Amjad ‘Abdul Hafiz Tamimi, 23, wounded in the left leg.
    1. An’am Mahmoud Khader, 55, hit by a sound bomb to the right leg;
    2. Majeda Mohammed ‘Alawna, 43, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the left leg;
    3. Nada ‘Ersan Twair, 48, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the left hand;
    4. Sa’eda al-Haj ‘Ali, 55, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the back; and
    5. Alaa’ Ibrahim al-Khatib, 17, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the right leg.
    1. Ahmed Fawzi Yousef, 22, wounded by shrapnel from a gunshot to the abdomen;
    2. Mlabbas Hassan ‘Abdullah, 20, wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the jaw; and
    3. Basheer Yousef Mahmoud, 21, wounded by shrapnel from a gunshot to the right thigh.
    • During the reporting period, IOF issued a military order declaring the area of the Annexation Wall in Bal’ein and Ne’lin villages, west of Ramallah, a closed military zone on Fridays, banning access of Palestinian civilians to the area. According to the order, such ban will remain effective until 17 August 2010.
    • Following the Friday Prayer on 12 March 2010, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall in Bal’ein village, west of Ramallah. The demonstrators moved towards the Wall and attempted to cross it towards annexed lands. Immediately, Israeli troops fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. Two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets:
    • Also on Friday noon, 12 March 2010, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah, in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall. They clashed with IOF troops positioned near the Wall. IOF troops fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. Dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation, and other sustained bruises. Israeli troops also arrested Salah Mustafa ‘Amira, 37, a farmer, and Sarita Haim, an Israeli human rights defender.
    • Also following the Friday Prayer on 12 March 2010, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in protest to land confiscation in Wad al-Raya area between Nabi Saleh and Deir Nizam villages, northwest of Ramallah. When the demonstrators attempted to reach areas of land seized by Israeli settlers near “Halmish” settlement, Israeli troop fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 18 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets:
    • Also on Friday noon, 12 March 2010, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders and peace activists organized a peaceful demonstration in the center of al-Ma’sara village, south of Bethlehem. They moved towards the Annexation Walla in the north and west of the village. Immediately, Israeli troops fired sound bombs and beat a number of demonstrators. As a result, ‘Ali ‘Alaa’ al-Din, 25, and Mahmoud Mousa, 26, sustained bruises.
    • On Saturday morning, 13 March 2010, dozens of Palestinian civilians and about 30 international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, in protest to the construction of the Annexation Wall and settlement activities. The demonstrators moved from the east of the village towards bypass road #60. Israeli troops stationed in the area fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters and chased the demonstrators. They beat a number of civilians, including two journalists while photographing the demonstration: Yusri Mahmoud al-Jamal, 35, a cameraman of Reuters; and Yousef ‘Eissa Shaheen, 22, a cameraman of Palmedia Group. They also arrested two Israeli human rights defenders, two journalists (Nasser Hussin Shyoukhi, 45, and Fadi Eyad Hamad, 25, cameramen of Associated Press), and Yousef ‘Abdul Hamid Abu Maria, 37. They released all detainees, excluding the latter, a few hours later. Additionally, dozens of civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation.
    • Also on Saturday, 13 March 2010, dozens of Palestinian civilians and women’s rights activists organized a peaceful demonstration in celebration of International Women’s Day, near Qalandya checkpoint, south of Ramallah. Israeli troops closed the checkpoint. When the demonstrators attempted to cross the checkpoint towards Jerusalem, Israeli troops prevented them. In response, the demonstrators threw stones at Israeli troops. Immediately, Israeli troops fired at the demonstrators. As a result, 5 women were wounded:
    • On Friday, 01 January 2010, IOF decided to close the crossing permanently, and to allow the entry of fuels through Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, southeast of Rafah, for security claims.
    • 1.5 million people are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.
    • The main concern of the population of the Gaza Strip is to obtain their basic needs of food, medicines, water and electricity supplies.
    • · IOF have continued to prevent the entry of raw construction materials into the Gaza Strip for more than two years.
    • IOF have not allowed fuel supplies into the Gaza Strip, excluding few amounts of cooking gas and energy fuel for Gaza Power Plant, since 10 December 2008.
    • The Rafah International Crossing Point has been opened for a few days for a number of patients who received medical treatment abroad and needed to return home to the Gaza Strip.
    • IOF have continued to close Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the face of Palestinian civilians wishing to travel to the West Bank and Israeli for medical treatment, trade or social visits.
    • IOF have imposed additional restrictions on access of international diplomats, journalists and humanitarian workers to the Gaza Strip. They have prevented representatives of several international humanitarian organizations from entering the Gaza Strip.
    • Living conditions of the Palestinian civilian population have seriously deteriorated; levels of poverty and unemployment have sharply mounted.
    • At least 800 Gazan prisoners in Israeli jails have been deprived for family visitation for more than two years.
    • IOF have continued to attack Palestinian fishermen along the Gaza Strip coast.
    • Ramallah: IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of the Palestinian civilians in Ramallah. IOF troops positioned at Jaba’-Qalandya checkpoint, southeast of Ramallah, have imposed additional restrictions on movement and conducted prolonged checking on Palestinian civilians. During the reporting period, IOF erected a number of temporary checkpoints, and stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles. At approximately 11:30 on Saturday, 13 March 2010, IOF established a checkpoint near ‘Attara village, north of Ramallah. They stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles.
    • Nablus: IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. On Friday morning, 05 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed at Za’tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, imposed additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians.
    • Hebron: IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians. On Wednesday noon, 17 March 2010, IOF closed all entrance and roads leading to Hebron. They also established checkpoints on roads leading to neighboring villages and refugee camps. They stopped and searched Palestinian civilian vehicles. They also closed a branch road leading to the market in the northeast of Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, with cement blocks.
    • On Friday morning, 12 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the old town in Hebron arrested ‘Aliaa’ ‘Abdul Majid al-Natsha, 30, claiming that she was carrying a knife.
    • At approximately 16:00 on the same day, Israeli troops patrolling near the Annexation Wall near “Maccavim” settlement to the west of Beit Sierra village, west of Ramallah, arrested Jaber Sameer al-Khattab, 17, while he was grazing animals. They claimed that he broke a gate on the Wall. He was released on bail at night.
    • On Monday evening, 15 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed at the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, arrested ‘Omar ‘Alaa’ al-Din, 25, from al-Ma’sara village south of Bethlehem.
    • On Thursday morning, 11 March, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem set out plans to build thousands of housing units in Jerusalem, especially in the east and south of the city. The plans are supported by the Israeli government. The distribution of the new unit is like this: 3,000 units in “Gilo” settlement; 1,500 one in “Har Homa” settlement; 1,500 ones in “Pisgat Ze’ev” settlement; 3,000 one in “Giv’at Matosim” settlement; 1,200 ones in “Ramot” settlement; 600 ones in “Armona Netseev” settlement; 450 in “Neve Yacov” settlement; and 144 ones in “Olive Mount” settlement. A new settlement neighborhood of 13,000 housing unit will also be established near al-Walaja village, northwest of Bethlehem.
    • On Friday morning, 12 March 2010, dozens of Israeli settlers from “Elli” settlement attacked Battisha area in the northwest of Qaryout village, southeast of Nablus. They uprooted 40 olive trees belonging to Mohammed Jaber Mahmoud, Yasser Hassan Mansour, ‘Abdullah Dib and Yousef Raja.
    • On Friday morning, 12 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the old town in Hebron arrested ‘Aliaa’ ‘Abdul Majid al-Natsha, 30, claiming that she was carrying a knife.
    • At approximately 16:00 on the same day, Israeli troops patrolling near the Annexation Wall near “Maccavim” settlement to the west of Beit Sierra village, west of Ramallah, arrested Jaber Sameer al-Khattab, 17, while he was grazing animals. They claimed that he broke a gate on the Wall. He was released on bail at night.
    • On Monday evening, 15 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed at the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, arrested ‘Omar ‘Alaa’ al-Din, 25, from al-Ma’sara village south of Bethlehem.
    • On Friday morning, 12 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the old town in Hebron arrested ‘Aliaa’ ‘Abdul Majid al-Natsha, 30, claiming that she was carrying a knife.
    • At approximately 16:00 on the same day, Israeli troops patrolling near the Annexation Wall near “Maccavim” settlement to the west of Beit Sierra village, west of Ramallah, arrested Jaber Sameer al-Khattab, 17, while he was grazing animals. They claimed that he broke a gate on the Wall. He was released on bail at night.
    • On Monday evening, 15 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed at the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, arrested ‘Omar ‘Alaa’ al-Din, 25, from al-Ma’sara village south of Bethlehem.
  • 2. Use of Excessive Force against Peaceful Demonstrations

    IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall and inside West Bank territory. During the reporting period, IOF used force against peaceful demonstrations organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest to the construction of the Wall and settlement activities. At least 20 Palestinian civilians, including two children, were wounded, and other sustained bruises or suffered from tear gas inhalation.

    Additionally, dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation, and some of them sustained bruises.

    Dozens of demonstrators also suffered from tear gas inhalation, and other sustained bruises.

    At approximately 13:00 on Monday, 15 March 2010, dozens of students of Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, organized a peaceful demonstration in protest to Israeli measures in Jerusalem. They moved towards ‘Attara checkpoint at the entrance of Bir Zeit village, and threw stones at Israeli troops in the area. Immediately, Israeli troops fired at the students. As a result, 3 students were wounded:

    3. Continued Siege on the OPT

    IOF have continued to impose a tightened siege on the OPT and imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Occupied East Jerusalem.

    Gaza Strip

    IOF have continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The Israeli siege of Gaza, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.

    Movement at Border Crossings during the Reporting Period:

    Movement at Beit Hanoun Crossing

    10 – 16 March 2010

    Click on screen shots to enlarge

    Movement at Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing 10 – 16 March 2010









    Al-Mentar (Karni) Crossing: IOF partially opened the crossing on Wednesday, 10 March 2010, and allowed the entry of 1,287 tons of wheat and 1,326 tons of fodders. They opened it again on Tuesday, 16 March 2010, and allowed the entry of 546 tons of wheat and 351 tons of fodders.

    Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing: IOF have continued to close Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the movement of Palestinian civilians. They have allowed only diplomats, a number of international journalists, workers at international agencies and a few patients who suffer from serious diseases to pass through the crossing. They have continued to prevent Palestinian civilians from visiting their relatives who are detained in Israeli jails. As mentioned above, IOF have allowed a few number of patients to pass through the crossing, but under severe restrictions that include prolonged checking.

    Movement at Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing
    10 – 16 March 2010


    The West Bank

    IOF have imposed a tightened siege on the West Bank. During the reporting period, IOF imposed additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians.

    Jerusalem: IOF have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians to and from the city. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been denied access to the city. IOF have established many checkpoints around and inside the city. Restrictions of the movement of Palestinian civilians often escalate on Fridays to prevent them from praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque. On Thursday, 11 March 2010, IOF started imposing increased restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the old city. According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of Border Police officers established military checkpoints at the entrances of the old city, on all of the streets inside the walls of the old city, as well as on streets in the immediate vicinity. They prevented all those who were not residents of the old city from entering it. In addition, Palestinians under 50 years of age were not permitted to enter al-Aqsa Mosque, all gates to the al-Aqsa compound, with the exception of al-Majles, Hattah and al-Selselah gates, were closed. On Saturday, 13 March 2010, IOF closed al-Aqsa Secondary School for Girls, the Shari’a Secondary School and the Islamic Kindergarten of al-Aqsa, all of which are located inside al-Aqsa compound.

    Arrests at Military Checkpoints

    On Friday morning, 12 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed in the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque and the old town in Hebron arrested ‘Aliaa’ ‘Abdul Majid al-Natsha, 30, claiming that she was carrying a knife.
    At approximately 16:00 on the same day, Israeli troops patrolling near the Annexation Wall near “Maccavim” settlement to the west of Beit Sierra village, west of Ramallah, arrested Jaber Sameer al-Khattab, 17, while he was grazing animals. They claimed that he broke a gate on the Wall. He was released on bail at night.
    On Monday evening, 15 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed at the Container checkpoint, northeast of Bethlehem, arrested ‘Omar ‘Alaa’ al-Din, 25, from al-Ma’sara village south of Bethlehem.

    Harassment at Military CheckpointsAt approximately 15:30 on Friday, 12 March 2010, Israeli troops stationed at a gate on the Annexation Wall stopped 4 Palestinian farmers from “Deir al-Ghossoun” village, north of Tulkarm, while they were on their way back homes. They forced the farmers at gunpoint to take their clothes off. The farmers are: Mohammed Nihad ‘Atwa, 23; Saleh Radi Daqqa, 28; Zaher Safwat ‘Ouda, 28; and Wa’el Subhi Khalil, 25.

    4. Settlement Activities and Attacks by Settlers against Palestinian Civilians and Property

    IOF have continued settlement activities in the OPT in violation of international humanitarian law, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

    …………………………………………………………

    Recommendations to the International Community

    1. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal and moral obligations under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. PCHR believes that the conspiracy of silence practiced by the international community has encouraged Israel to act as if it is above the law and encourages Israel continue to violate international human rights and humanitarian law.

    2. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to convene a conference to take effective steps to ensure Israel’s respect of the Convention in the OPT and to provide immediate protection for Palestinian civilians.

    3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to comply with its legal obligations detailed in Article 146 of the Convention to search for and prosecute those responsible for grave breaches, namely war crimes.

    4. PCHR calls for the immediately implementation of the Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice, which considers the construction of the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank illegal.

    5. PCHR recommends international civil society organizations, including human rights organizations, bar associations and NGOs to participate in the process of exposing those accused of grave breaches of international law and to urge their governments to bring these people to justice.

    6. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel. PCHR further calls upon the EU states to prohibit import of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT.

    7. PCHR calls on the international community to recognize the Gaza disengagement plan, which was implemented in September 2005, for what it is – not an end to occupation but a compounding of the occupation and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

    8. In recognition of ICRC as the guardian of the Fourth Geneva Convention, PCHR calls upon the ICRC to increase its staff and activities in the OPT, including the facilitation of family visitations to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

    9. PCHR appreciates the efforts of international civil society, including human rights organizations, bar associations, unions and NGOs, and urges them to continue their role in pressuring their governments to secure Israel’s respect for human rights in the OPT and to end its attacks on Palestinian civilians.

    10. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to lift the severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli government and its occupation forces on access for international organizations to the OPT.

    11. PCHR reiterates that any political settlement not based on international human rights law and humanitarian law cannot lead to a peaceful and just solution of the Palestinian question. Rather, such an arrangement can only lead to further suffering and instability in the region. Any peace agreement or process must be based on respect for international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.

    _____________________________________________________

    Source: PCHR’s office in Gaza City

    A typical week in OPT. Is it any wonder Palestinian’s get angry.

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Published in: on March 20, 2010 at 3:23 am  Comments Off on March 11-17 2010 Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory  
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Israel targets Sweden over newspaper claim

By Alastair Macdonald in Jerusalem

August 24 2009

'The statements in the Swedish press were outrageous' - Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Photo/AP

‘The statements in the Swedish press were outrageous’ – Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel placed curbs on Swedish journalists yesterday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Stockholm to condemn a newspaper article that Israeli officials say recalled historic hatred of Jews in Europe.

Israel’s foreign minister compared it to the Dreyfus Affair – the trial of a Jewish officer in the French army a century ago, which drew attention to anti-Semitism across the continent and inspired Zionists to promote Jewish emigration to Palestine.

Sweden has said press freedom means it cannot intervene in a dispute over the tabloid Aftonbladet’s reprinting last Monday of long-standing Palestinian allegations that the Israeli army may have taken organs for transplants from men who died in custody.

“The statements in the Swedish press were outrageous,” Mr Netanyahu was quoted as telling his cabinet, in his first comment on the issue. “We are not expecting an apology from the Swedish government… we are expecting condemnation.”

The official quoting him said the premier, who will be in Europe this week visiting London and Berlin, echoed colleagues in comparing the article to medieval “blood libels”, which alleged Jews used the blood of Christian babies in religious rites.

A spokesman for Israel’s Interior Ministry said it was “freezing” the issue of entry visas to Swedish journalists, although those already working in the country would not be affected for now.

The dispute has soured relations with the country that holds the rotating presidency of the European Union just as Israel is defending its treatment of the Palestinians against criticism in Europe of January’s war in Gaza and settlement in the West Bank.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said last week his country opposed anti-Semitism but would not muzzle the media. A ministry spokeswoman declined comment on a report that Sweden’s ambassador to Israel was reprimanded for issuing a statement condemning the Aftonbladet article as “appalling”. The statement was no longer on the embassy’s website yesterday.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of a right-wing coalition party whose outspoken criticisms of Arabs have prompted accusations of racism, praised the ambassador and compared her to Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who acted on his own initiative to save Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.

Dismissing Sweden’s argument about press freedom as a “fig leaf” for inaction, Mr Lieberman told Army Radio: “What angers us is that the Swedish government didn’t condemn it but hastened to reprimand the ambassador who did find it right to condemn this blood libel, which recalls the Dreyfus Affair.”

He also compared the article to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, an anti-Semitic tract purporting to show a global Jewish conspiracy which was widely cited by Hitler among others.

Israeli officials say Europeans often favour Palestinians at their expense and Netanyahu’s government is trying to counter that.

Source

Considering this happened in Israel just a few years back.

Abu Kabir Operating Organ Warehouse

January 4 2002
By IsraelNationalNews.com
“Abu Kabir Operating Organ Warehouse”
State Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein ordered police to launch an investigation against Prof. Yehuda Hiss, the nation’s senior pathologist
and director of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute.

Hiss is accused of a long list of charges from inappropriate behavior as a medical professional to criminal acts such as the illegal sale of and dealings in organs and body parts, removing organs from deceased persons without consent, and misrepresenting organs in returned bodies.

Allegations made against Hiss in some cases include his taking organs without consent, placing the cardboard center of toilet paper rolls and metallic rods in their place to fill the voids in the body and hide the theft of the organs.

A court-ordered search of the institute revealed large supplies of stored organs taken illegally from bodies. Over the past years, heads of the institute appear to have given thousands of organs for research without permission, while maintaining a “storehouse” of organs at Abu Kabir.

Organs belonging to soldiers killed in various circumstances were found in the institute during a surprise search this week. After consulting with Chief Chaplain Brig. Gen. Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, it was decided that in concert with the bereaved families, graves would be opened and the organs buried along with the remains of each soldier involved.

Some belonged to soldier’s, but where did the rest come from? There were thousands of organs. They didn’t just magically appear in the Organ Warehouse.  I wonder?

Also from December of 2001

Romanian authorities are looking into possible links between Israeli adoption agencies and an illegal global conspiracy to sell organs for transplants.The Romanian Embassy in Israel has asked for, and received from the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, a list of all children born in Romania who have been brought to Israel for adoption in recent years. The Romanian officials are trying to ascertain if all such children arrived in Israel with all organs in their bodies.

In its request to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, the Romanians did not offer evidence in support of suspicions of a link between adoption and organ trafficking. The inquiry is part of a broader investigation involving Romanian children sent to Italy and the United States.

As Ha’aretz has reported in the past, some Israeli physicians were involved in illegal kidney transplants and the sale of human eggs in Turkey, Romania, and other countries in East Europe.

In parallel with the organ investigation, officials from Romania’s central adoption agency and from Israel’s Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and police, are also examining possible criminal activity of two groups dealing with the adoption of Romanian children by Israeli parents.

Among other suspicions, officials are checking whether one Romanian group, headed by an Israeli, has forged adoption papers, and whether children have been offered to Israeli parents without proper, legal process.

Responding to complaints and rumors, Romanian authorities have taken the highly unusual step in the past year of withholding authorization for the adoption of 16 Romanian babies destined for Israeli parents. This delay has been enforced although the Israeli couples have paid $20,000 each to adopt the infants, and have already become acquainted with the babies in the foster homes and institutions where they are being held. Romanian authorities insist they will not give the go ahead for the adoptions until inquiries about possible wrong-doing are completed.

To help finalize the adoptions, the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry turned to President Moshe Katsav and asked him to raise the issue with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase when he visited Israel last July. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also raised it with Romanian officials during his recent visit there.

Parents affiliated with the “Future of the Children” group, based in Rehovot, have also appealed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to help finalize the adoptions of the Romanian children

From WHO

Organ transplantation is an effective therapy for end-stage organ failure and is widely practised around the world. According to WHO, kidney transplants are carried out in 91 countries. Around 66 000 kidney transplants, 21 000 liver transplants and 6000 heart transplants were performed globally in 2005.

The organ-exporting countries

Other countries where kidneys are reportedly sold include Bolivia, Brazil, Iraq, Israel, the Republic of Moldova, Peru and Turkey.19 In Colombia, where 69 of 873 organ transplants were performed on foreigners, there is an allegation that organs of deceased donors were used in the organ transplants that were commercially arranged for foreigners.20 The case of the Islamic Republic of Iran merits a special mention: paid kidney donation is practiced legally but there is a strict regulation of the allocation of organs to non-local citizens, thereby restricting the international organ trade.21 In contrast, the Philippine government is moving towards institutionalization of paid kidney donation and acceptance of foreign patients.4

Source

The organ-importing countries

The term “organ-importing countries” is used here to refer to the countries of origin of the patients going overseas to purchase organs for transplantation. A report by Organs Watch, an organization based at the University of California, USA, identified Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the USA as major organ-importing countries.19

OF course while everyone is rambling on about the Swedish paper the bombing on Gaza continues and so does the blockade.
Israeli airstrike on Gaza smuggling tunnel kills 3 in deadliest attack on border in months

Israeli airstrike on Gaza smuggling tunnel kills 3 in deadliest attack on border in months

DIAA HADID,MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 25, 2009

// //

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – An Israeli airstrike on a smuggling tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt killed three Palestinians inside and wounded seven on Tuesday in the deadliest Israeli attack on the volatile border area in months, a Palestinian Health Ministry official said.The Israeli military said the air force struck in retaliation for a mortar attack from Gaza Monday into southern Israel that lightly wounded an Israeli soldier. The Israeli government has pledged a military response to every attack.

Fighting between Israel and Gaza militants has largely subsided since a fierce Israeli offensive in January, but Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight economic blockade of the coastal area to maintain pressure on the militant Hamas government.

In Gaza, the men killed and wounded were all smugglers caught in a tunnel during the pre-dawn Israeli strike, said Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain.

The prime minister of the Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, said such violence threatened to unravel an informal cease-fire that has largely held for seven months.

Hundreds of Gazans work in tunnels used to bring in goods not available in the seaside territory because of the blockade. Israel says Hamas uses the tunnels to smuggle in weapons and explosives.

Later Tuesday, the Israeli military said soldiers shot and lightly wounded a Palestinian who crossed into Israel from Gaza near the sensitive Nahal Oz fuel depot. He was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. The depot has been attacked by Gaza militants in the past.

As violence in Gaza was heating up, the leader of the Western-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank unveiled a development plan that calls for construction of an airport, international rail lines and an oil refinery over the next two years. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the projects would help pave the way for independence.

The program reflected Palestinian frustration after years of on-again, off-again peace talks aimed at ending the decades-long conflict with Israel. With peacemaking efforts currently on hold, the Palestinians must move forward on their own, Fayyad said.

“We believe that full commitment to the state-building endeavour will advance our highest national priority of ending the (Israeli) occupation, thereby enabling us to live in freedom and dignity in a country of our own,” he said.

It remained unclear how Fayyad, an internationally respected economist, expects to carry out the projects. Israel occupies the West Bank and would need to grant approval for major development projects. It was also unclear how Fayyad’s cash-strapped government would finance construction.

Fayyad said further information would be given to the proper ministries as plans develop.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has grudgingly endorsed the concept a Palestinian state with limited powers, while supporting improving relations by strengthening the Palestinian economy.

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, gave Fayyad’s plan a cool reception.

“Neither artificial dates nor arbitrary deadlines are going to work,” he said. “What is going to make a Palestinian state viable is the end of conflict, the end of all the Palestinian claims, meeting us halfway with political compromises, and, of course, sitting with us without preconditions.”

The Palestinians have said they will not open negotiations until Israel halts all construction in Jewish settlements built on land claimed by the Palestinians. President Barack Obama has also called for a settlement freeze. The subject was expected to be the main topic in talks in London Tuesday between Netanyahu and Obama’s Mideast envoy, George Mitchell.

The internal split between the rival Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank has further complicated peace efforts, since the Palestinians hope to build their state in both territories.

Of course they always say it was in retaliation of a mortar attack. That is getting rather old it seems.
They lied about organ theft they are probably lieing about this. If they steal organs from their own, they surely would steal them from Palestinians.

Butchers: The hidden truth about Israel’s kidney theft ring

Swedish PM: No apology to Israel in regards to article Swedish newspaper reveals Israeli army murders Palestinians for their organs

Gaza cancer patients have only painkillers, due to Israeli Blockade

Swedish newspaper reveals Israeli army murders Palestinians for their organs

Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 8:03 am  Comments Off on Israel targets Sweden over newspaper claim  
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US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution

December 28, 2008

The UN Security Council has been unable to force an end to Israeli attacks against Gaza due to the intervention of the United States.

Washington once again used its veto powers on Sunday to block a resolution calling for an end to the massive ongoing Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip. The council has only been able to issue a ‘non-binding’ statement that calls on Israel to voluntarily bring all its military activities in the besieged region to an immediate end.

The statement comes as Israel has begun a fresh wave of air strikes on Gaza on Sunday, killing at least six people.  At least 230 people were killed and 800 wounded in similar attacks on Saturday.  The number of Palestinians deaths has so far risen to 271.

The council called on the parties to address the humanitarian crisis in the territory but has not criticized the Israeli air attacks. Croatian UN Ambassador Neven Jurica read out the non-binding statement on behalf of the 15-member body that “called for an immediate halt to all violence” and on the parties “to stop immediately all military activities.” “The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza,” he said, as the president of the council.

The council also requested the opening of border crossings into Gaza to address the serious humanitarian and economic needs in Gaza and to ensure medical treatment and a continuous supply of food and fuel.

US representative to the UNSC, Zalmay Khalilzad, defended the Israeli move, saying Tel Aviv has the right to self-defense. “I regret the loss of any of all innocent life,” he said, adding that Hamas rockets precipitated this situation.

Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip say they fire rockets into Israel in retaliation for the daily Israeli attacks against them. Unlike the state-of-the-art Israeli weapons and ammunition, the home-made Qassam rockets rarely cause casualties.

The US, a staunch ally to Israel, has so far vetoed over 40 anti-Israeli resolutions sought by the council since 1972.

Since 2004, Washington has prevented the adoption of four other resolutions that called for Tel Aviv to halt its operations in the Gaza Strip.

Source

Seems the US is just as responsible for the deaths of the  Palestinians as is Israel. The US is preventing peace. They are just a guilty as Israel.

Leaders Lie, Civilians Die, Israelis-Palestinians

Global protests against Israel

Published in: on December 30, 2008 at 6:57 am  Comments Off on US Veto Blocks UN Anti-Israel Resolution  
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US Kills Dozens of Wedding Guests in Afganistan

By JESSICA LEEDER AND ALEX STRICK VAN LINSCHOTEN

November 4, 2008


Dozens of Afghan civilians are dead and dozens more are wounded after a series of air strikes aimed at Taliban fighters fell short of their target and exploded in the middle of a wedding party in a mountainous region north of Kandahar city, tribal elders and wedding guests told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday.

Survivors of the attacks, which occurred in the village of Wech Baghtu in the district of Shah Wali Kowt on Monday evening, said the majority of the dead and injured were women – the bombs struck while male and female wedding guests were segregated, as is customary in Kandahar province.

They said the bodies of at least 36 women have been identified, and hundreds more men and women have been injured. Local leaders have yet to establish a firm casualty count because many of the victims remain buried beneath rubble, said Abdul Hakim Khan, a tribal elder from the district.

In interviews at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar city, where at least 16 male victims and dozens of female victims were being treated Tuesday night, several villagers described the attack. While Mr. Khan corroborated much of the information witnesses gave during a separate interview, it was not possible to independently verify their account or the numbers of dead and injured they gave.

Witnesses gave conflicting statements about the identity of troops who arrived at the scene after the air attacks, with some saying they saw Canadian soldiers while others said they saw U.S. troops.

It was not immediately clear which international forces were responsible for the air strikes.

A Canadian military source denied that Canada, which has responsibility for Kandahar province, had any involvement. “Task Force Kandahar has not been in any significant military engagement in Shah Vali Kowt in the last two days,” the source said.

The sparsely populated mountainous region surrounding the village is a known Taliban stronghold. In the past the area has been a target of various anti-insurgent special operations.

Mr. Khan said his village is situated at the foot of a mountain frequented by Taliban insurgents. At the time of the wedding, insurgents on the mountain had attempted to attack troops in the area with an improvised explosive device, Mr. Khan said. Fighting broke out between troops and insurgents after the Taliban began firing from the top of the mountain, which triggered the air strike, he said.

Abdul Zahir, 24, the brother of the bride, said fighting broke out between Taliban and international troops near a crossroads in the village early on Monday. Wedding guests first heard shots from the mountain about 4 p.m. Air strikes followed about half an hour later and lasted about five hours, he said.

While Mr. Zahir was not injured, his sister was severely hurt, as were three of his young cousins, Noor Ahmad, Hazrat Sadiq and Mohammad Rafiq, who range in age from three to five years old. During the interview, they lay sprawled out next to him on tiny hospital cots. Mr. Zahir said that in all eight members of his family were killed, including two of his brothers, Qahir and Twahir, and his grandmother. Fourteen other family members were injured.

The bombing wasn’t the end of the ordeal, witnesses said. When the air strikes were over, they said, international troops arrived in three sand-coloured armoured vehicles.

Villagers reported they were intimidated and prevented from leaving to seek medical treatment while the soldiers took pictures.

The governor of Kandahar province will hold a press conference on the incident Wednesday morning, a spokesman said.

“We are collecting information right now about this incident. It’s not complete,” the spokesman said.

Alex Strick van Linschoten is a freelancer based in Kandahar

Source

Taliban insurgents in a remote village northeast of Kandahar provoked an attack by coalition troops that devastated a wedding party on Monday and resulted in dozens of civilian deaths, the top politician in Kandahar has told The Globe and Mail.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, chairman of Kandahar’s provincial council, said he and his brother, President Hamid Karzai, were told by villagers during a teleconference on Wednesday that between 300 and 350 Taliban fighters invaded Wech Baghtu, a mountain village in the district of Shah Wali Kowt, 60 kilometres northeast of Kandahar city, during the lead-up to a wedding ceremony. Inside the village, insurgents stationed themselves on rooftops, including those of homes that were holding wedding events.

From there they began firing rocket-propelled grenades at a convoy of four military vehicles, Ahmed Karzai said he and his brother were told. The troops retaliated on a massive scale, killing and injuring dozens of villagers, including several family members of the bride and groom.

The precise number of casualties has yet to be determined, but figures reported by witnesses and district leaders range from 38 to 90 dead. As of Wednesday, about 50 victims, most of them women, had checked into Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar with serious injuries, including burns and severed limbs. Some with more severe injuries were taken to Quetta, Pakistan, district elders said.

It remains unclear from reports gathered from survivors whether troops launched an air strike or a mortar attack on the village. Women who were helping the bride plait her hair before the wedding told a Globe researcher they remembered hearing shooting, but they blacked out when bombs struck the mud-walled home.

When the women awoke, they said, they were with the bride in hospital. While none of the coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan has taken responsibility for the attack, the U.S. military and the Afghan Ministry of the Interior announced a joint investigation into the incident.

“Though the facts are unclear at this point, we take very seriously our responsibility to protect the people of Afghanistan and to avoid circumstances where non-combatant civilians are placed at risk, said Commander Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the U.S. military. “If innocent people were killed in this operation, we apologize and express our condolences to the families and the people of Afghanistan. We have dispatched coalition personnel to the site to quickly assess the situation and take actions as appropriate.”

Although Canadian troops are responsible for Kandahar province, the Canadian Forces is adamant about its lack of involvement in the attack, which came to light late Tuesday after victims began arriving at Mirwais Hospital.

Major Jay Janzen, a spokesman for the Canadian military, said troops occasionally patrol the district centre of Shah Wali Kowt, but they rarely venture the 20 kilometres north to the village that was attacked.

At an afternoon press conference Wednesday, Rahmatullah Raoufi, the governor of Kandahar, identified U.S. forces as the troops involved in the attack. He also said the troops called in an air strike on the village in response to enemy fire. His office is still working to confirm numbers of casualties. In the meantime, Ahmed Karzai and the President said they have dispatched a team of trusted elders from the Shah Wali Kowt district to conduct a separate investigation.

Ahmed Karzai said the attack is a sign of the Taliban’s increasing reliance on terrorist tactics to turn locals against the government and coalition forces.

“People go against the government when civilian casualties happen,” Mr. Karzai said. “But the people know it’s because of [the Taliban] these casualties are happening.”

The issue of civilian casualties has been an increasing point of friction between Afghan government officials and coalition forces.

Between 2006 and 2007, there was a three-fold increase in civilian deaths from aerial attacks, according to a report released in September by the New York-based group Human Rights Watch. The deaths are largely due to unplanned air strikes called in by U.S. forces, said the report, which put the number of civilian deaths due to air strikes at more than 300 for 2007.

This year, the use of air power has increased. During the past three months alone, more than 100 civilians have died in unplanned air strikes in southern Afghanistan, including at least 17 in Helmand province two weeks ago and 90 in Herat in August. A U.S. military investigation into that raid acknowledged the death of only 33 civilians.

Ahmed Karzai acknowledged that Afghan security forces have been hard-pressed to counter insurgents in the remote areas where militants control swaths of land and frequently exploit villagers to provoke attacks. He said that locals in rural Shah Wali Kowt rely mainly on police for protection, but their ranks are thin.

“The police have a problem there. They aren’t really able to control the area,” he said. “The job of the police is to maintain law and order.

“They are not trained to fight guerrilla war. That’s the job of the military,” he said.

Problems are compounded by the poor economic state of the region, which suffered further in Monday’s attack when farm fields were destroyed.

“I feel sorry for them,” Ahmed Karzai said. “If the people could be armed, or if they were able to create a group to fight the Taliban, a lot of people would pick up arms.”

Source

NATO to consider talks with the Taliban?

An Afghan soldier holds his weapon at a check point in Arghandab district, recaptured from the Taliban militants, in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday June 22, 2008. (AP / Musadeq Sadeq)An Afghan soldier holds his weapon at a check point in Arghandab district, recaptured from the Taliban militants, in Kandahar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday June 22, 2008. (AP / Musadeq Sadeq)

Oct. 8 2008

LONDON — When NATO defence ministers meet in Budapest on Thursday, they will face a worsening situation in Afghanistan and vexing questions about whether the war can be won.

Increasingly, military commanders and political leaders are asking: Is it time to talk to the Taliban?

With U.S. and NATO forces suffering their deadliest year so far in Afghanistan, a rising chorus of voices, including U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the incoming head of U.S. Central Command, have endorsed efforts to reach out to members of the Taliban considered willing to seek an accommodation with President Hamid Karzai’s government.

“That is one of the key long-term solutions in Afghanistan, just as it has been in Iraq,” Gates told reporters Monday. “Part of the solution is reconciliation with people who are willing to work with the Afghan government going forward.”

Gen. David Petraeus, who will become responsible for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan as head of U.S. Central Command on Oct. 31, agreed.

“I do think you have to talk to enemies,” Petraeus said Wednesday at an appearance at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, when asked about potential dialogue with the Taliban.

“You’ve got to set things up. You’ve got to know who you’re talking to. You’ve got to have your objectives straight,” he said. “But I mean, what we did do in Iraq ultimately was sit down with some of those that were shooting at us. What we tried to do was identify those who might be reconcilable.”

In terms of Afghanistan, he said: “The key there is making sure that all of that is done in complete co-ordination with complete support of the Afghan government — and with President Karzai.”

But entering negotiations with the Taliban raises difficult issues.

It is not clear whether there is a unified Taliban command structure that could engage in serious talks, and the group still embraces the hardline ideology that made them pariahs in the West until their ouster from power in 2001.

During its 1996-2001 rule, Afghan women and girls were barred from attending school or holding jobs, music and television were banned, men were compelled to wear beards, and artwork or statues deemed idolatrous or anti-Muslim were destroyed.

In an assault that provoked an international outcry, Taliban fighters blew up two giant statues of Buddha that had graced the ancient Silk Road town of Bamiyan for some 1,500 years.

Seven years after the U.S. invasion, what was originally considered a quick military success has turned into an increasingly violent counterinsurgency fight.

An unprecedented number of U.S. troops — about 32,000 — are in Afghanistan today, and the Pentagon plans to send several thousand more in the coming months. Gates is expected to press for additional troops and money for the fight in Afghanistan at this week’s NATO meeting.

At least 131 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan this year, surpassing the previous annual high of 111 in 2007. An additional 100 troops from other NATO countries have died in 2008.

Canada, which has some 2,500 troops in southern Kandahar province, has lost 23 soldiers so far this year.

NATO commander says peacemaking up to Afghan gov’t

Speaking in London on Monday, U.S. Gen. John Craddock, NATO’s supreme operational commander, said he is open to talks with the Taliban as long as any peacemaking bid is led by the Afghan government, not western forces.

“I have said over and over again this is not going to be won by military means,” Craddock said, adding that NATO’s goal is to create a safe environment so responsibility for security can be transferred to Afghan authorities.

The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, added his voice to the rising chorus, saying Tuesday it was “desirable” to have direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and offering to host any such meeting.

The problem, say some analysts, is identifying who within the Taliban can be a reliable negotiating partner.

“The Taliban are no longer a monolithic force; with whom do you negotiate if you want to talk with the Taliban?” asked Eric Rosenbach, executive director of the Center for International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Rather than high-level, high-profile negotiations, “the Afghan government should pursue talks with individual commanders and warlords” who have renounced violence, he said.

“This approach is much more likely to succeed, will further fracture the opposition, and will place the Afghan government in a position of strength for future negotiations.”

Charles Heyman, editor of Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, said there is widespread agreement that the original U.S. and British goal of building a liberal, western-style democracy in Afghanistan is not attainable because the Taliban never were routed or forced to disband.

“There is going to be an accommodation with the Taliban whether people like it or not,” he said. “Everyone knows this is going to be very, very difficult.”

He said the West’s long-term interest would be served by ensuring that al-Qaida doesn’t have a presence in Afghanistan. That would mean making sure any future Afghan leadership, even if it includes Taliban elements, understands that it will come under sustained attack if it allows al-Qaida to set up training camps there.

Ayesha Khan, an associate fellow at the Chatham House research group in London, said it is possible that clerics close to fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar could meet with Afghan government representatives.

“This desire to engage the Taliban started last year and has gained momentum,” she said. “The British government is involved in strategizing it. They are trying to separate the more moderate Taliban from the more extremist ones.”

Source

US military admits killing 33 civilians in Afghanistan air strike

October 9. 2008

The US military has admitted killing 33 civilians in an air strike on a village in Afghanistan in August, far more than it has previously acknowledged.

Following the attack on August 22 on Azizabad, in Heart province, the Afghan government claimed that 90 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed, a figure backed by the UN.

Until now the US has estimated that that no more than seven civilians died in the attack. It launched an inquiry after it emerged that film recorded on mobile phones showed rows of bodies of children and babies in a makeshift morgue.

The inquiry found that of the 33 dead civilians, eight were men, three women and 12 children. The 10 others were undetermined. It also claimed that 22 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack.

The inquiry dismissed the Afghan government’s estimate as over reliant on statements from villagers.

“Their reports lack independent evidence to support the allegations of higher numbers of civilian casualties,” the US report said. A spokesman for the Afghan government said it stood by its estimate.

The US expressed regret for the civilian losses but blamed the Taliban for having chosen to take up fighting positions near civilians.

“Unfortunately, and unknown to the US and Afghan forces, the (militants) chose fighting positions in close proximity to civilians,” the report said.

The acting commander of US forces in the Middle East, lieutenant general Martin Dempsey, said the attack was based on credible intelligence and was made in self defence.

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of innocent life in Azizabad. We go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan in all our operations, but as we have seen all too often, this ruthless enemy routinely surround themselves with innocents,” he said.

US central command said its investigation was based on 28 interviews resulting in more than 20 hours of recorded testimony from Afghan government officials, Afghan village elders, officials from nongovernmental organisations, US and Afghan troops, 236 documents and 11 videos.

The issue of civilian deaths has outraged Afghans and strained relations with foreign forces in Afghanistan to help fight the insurgency. Afghan president Hamid Karzai has warned US and NATO for years that they must stop killing civilians on bombing runs against militants, saying the deaths undermine his government and the international mission.

Following the raid on Azizabad Nato’s commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, issued a revised tactics and procedures for air and ground assaults against insurgents.

Source

Published in: on October 9, 2008 at 9:44 am  Comments Off on NATO to consider talks with the Taliban?  
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