Monthly Archives: August 2014

Europe Needs to Embrace Islam

Europe Needs to Embrace Islam

Jocelyne Cesari

Jocelyne Cesari is senior research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, and director of the Islam in the West Program at Harvard University. She is the author of “Why the West Fears Islam: An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies” and “The Awakening of Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity, and the State.”

UPDATED AUGUST 29, 2014, 2:08 PM

Counter to the common interpretation, the appeal of radical anti-Western groups like ISIS among European Muslims is not driven primarily by socioeconomic deprivation. In fact, three interrelated factors play a more significant role.

Political efforts are needed to put an end to the ‘ghettoization’ of Islam, which is often depicted as alien and incompatible with Western core liberal values.

The first is the powerful presence of the Salafi version of Islam in the religious market of ideas. This is problematic because even as most Muslims in the West are not Salafis and the majority of Salafis are not jihadists, it happens that groups like Al Qaiada and ISIS have a Salafi background. It means that their theological view comes from a particular interpretation of Islam rooted in Wahhabism, an eighteenth century doctrine adopted by the Saudi kingdom. In the West, Salafis incite people to withdraw from mainstream society, depicted as impure, in order to live by strict rules. These reactionary interpretations do contain similarities with jihadist discourse.

The second factor in the radicalization of Muslim youth is the increase of discriminatory policies vis-à-vis Islamic practices in Europe, including the use of the hijab and regulation of mosque minarets, circumcision and halal food. All contribute to a growing sense among Muslims that they are not accepted as full members of European society. Anti-immigration and anti-Islamic discourse translates into discriminatory practices in employment, housing and political activities. It can be a factor in strengthening a defensive identification within Islam and therefore gives more leverage to any ideology that pits the West against Muslims.

Third, the collapse of all major ideologies in Europe — nationalism, Communism, and liberalism — has left room for new radical options. For some young Europeans, adherence to radical Islam provides a viable alternative ideology, comparable to that of radical leftist groups in the 1970s.

These factors reveal a lack of true integration of Muslims as European policies have prioritized socioeconomic measures. In other words, political efforts are needed to put an end to the ‘ghettoization’ of Islam, which is often depicted as alien and incompatible with Western core liberal values. It means that geopolitical issues like the “war on terror” should be disconnected as much as possible from Islam and its adherents and their practices. Europe, and to a certain extent the U.S., face a major political challenge, which is the inclusion of Islam within their respective national narratives. It is a huge symbolic task, equivalent to the undertaking that led to the integration of the African-American past and legacy into the dominant American narrative.

 

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Topics: ISISIslamTerrorismsecurity

With Gaza war, movement to boycott Israel gains momentum in Europe

With Gaza war, movement to boycott Israel gains momentum in Europe

LONDON: A branch of Sainsbury’s grocery store removed kosher products from its shelves, it said, to prevent anti-Israel demonstrations. The Tricycle Theater in north London, after hosting a Jewish film festival for eight years, demanded to vet the content of any film made with arts funding from the Israeli government. George Galloway, a member of Parliament known for his vehement criticism of Israel, declared Bradford, England, an “Israel-free zone.” 

Galloway, in comments being investigated by the police, said, “We don’t want any Israeli goods; we don’t want any Israeli services; we don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or college; we don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford.” 

The war in Gaza and its aftermath have inflamed opinion in Europe and, experts and analysts say, are likely to increase support for the movement to boycott, disinvest from and sanction Israel, known as BDS.

READ ALSO: Gaza truce open-ended, but puts off tough issues 

“We entered this war in Gaza with the perception that the Israeli government is not interested in reaching peace with the Palestinians,” said Meir Javedanfar, an Israeli analyst at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, a private university. “Now, after the casualties and the destruction, I’m very worried about the impact this could have on Israel. It could make it very easy for the BDS campaign to isolate Israel and call for more boycotts.” 

Gilead Sher and Einav Yogev, in a paper for the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, warn that Gaza means Israel pays “a much heavier price in public opinion and in erosion of support for its positions in negotiations with the Palestinians.”


Protesters hold a banner reading ‘Solidarity with Palestinian people: Boycott Israel’ during a demonstration against Israeli offensive on Gaza, in Madrid. (AFP photo) Along with reports of “familiar anti-Semitic attacks on Jews,” they said, “the movement to boycott Israel is expanding politically and among the public.” 

Daniel Levy of the European Council on Foreign Relations points to the debate over halting arms exports to Israel, which has been given new momentum in Britain and Spain by the asymmetry of the Gaza war. 

“You’re beginning to see the translation of public sympathy into something politically meaningful,” he said. He noted two tracks — the governmental one, which distinguishes between Israel and the occupied territories, and the social one of academic, commercial and artistic boycotts. 

But for all the new attention around the BDS movement, the economic impact has been small, experts say. The European Union, which has been looked to for leadership on the issue, does not support the idea.

READ ALSO: Hamas claims ‘victory’ as Gaza truce agreed with Israel 

Instead, the Europeans are drawing a legal distinction between Israel within its 1967 boundaries and Israeli towns and settlements that are beyond them in occupied land. Brussels regards all Israelis living beyond the 1967 lines, including those in East Jerusalem, as settlers living in illegal communities whose status can be regulated only through a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians. 

In matters such as scientific cooperation, funding for research, import duties and labeling requirements, Brussels has sought a strong relationship with pre-1967 Israel, while demanding a different status for institutions and products from beyond the Green Line, the armistice lines that ended the 1967 fighting but did not fix borders or create a Palestinian state. 

Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, said before the Gaza conflict that “there is no boycott” of Israel by the European Union, citing trade and scientific cooperation. “The European Union defends the right of existence of Israel with all its means,” he said. “The view that the Europeans are against Israel, I repeat it, is wrong.” 

Some members of the 28-nation European Union are closer to Israel than others, but the bloc is united on Israel within its 1967 boundaries. 

“Our relationship with Israel is close and one of the best we have in the region, but only with Israel in its 1967 lines unless there is a peace agreement,” said a senior European Union official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in keeping with diplomatic protocol. “We are clear, however, that what came under Israeli control in 1967 is not a part of Israel, so the settlements are illegal under international law and not helpful in the peace process.” 

To that end, the European Union has demanded that all products produced by Israelis beyond the 1967 lines be labeled differently, and they are excluded from the duty-free trade agreement the bloc has with Israel proper. Goods from settlements are imported, but under different labels and tariffs. “There is no question of a boycott,” the European official said. 

In an agreement last December on scientific exchanges and funding, known as Horizon 2020, Brussels insisted, despite fierce opposition from the Israeli government, on keeping Israeli institutions in the West Bank, like Ariel University, out of the deal. Since European funding is so important to Israeli academic institutions, the Israeli government gave in, attaching a legally meaningless appendix opposing the distinctions. 

While some Israeli companies label goods produced in the West Bank as Israeli, the Europeans have tried to crack down, insisting that permits have a physical address attached and not simply an Israeli post office box. Goods can be labeled “West Bank” or as coming from a particular place, but cannot say “Made in Israel.” 

The European Union has gone considerably further than the United States, declaring that Israeli settlements over the Green Line are “illegal” under international law; the United States simply calls them “illegitimate” and “obstacles to peace.” 

Israel says its settlement activity is consistent with international law, although it accepts that some settlements are built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land and says that all will be resolved as part of a final deal with the Palestinians. 

The United States also has no regulations requiring separate labeling of products from Israeli-occupied land. 

The recent fuss over SodaStream and one of its spokeswomen, the actress Scarlett Johansson, was indicative of the passions raised. Oxfam insisted she quit SodaStream, which has a factory in the large West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, or quit her work with Oxfam; Ms. Johansson chose to quit Oxfam. SodaStream defended itself by citing the number of jobs it was providing for Palestinians, who were being paid the same wages as Israeli workers. 

The debate was indicative of shifting attitudes. During the period around the Oslo Accords, in the early 1990s, when peace seemed close and economic cooperation between Israel and the new, interim Palestinian Authority was considered an important part of a future relationship built on mutual dependency and confidence, factories in occupied territory were praised. 

With the failure of Oslo to produce a Palestinian state, the tone has changed, and companies once seen by many as in the forefront of economic cooperation are now being seen by some as colonial occupiers undermining a future Palestinian state. 

But the interconnection of Israel with the settlements is difficult to untie — every major Israeli bank has a branch in the settlements. 

Some countries, like Britain, have gone further. Britain issued voluntary labeling guidelines in December 2009 “to enable consumers to make a more fully informed decision concerning the products they buy,” according to the UK Trade and Investment agency, because “we understand the concerns of people who do not wish to purchase goods exported from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” 

More troubling to Israel, in December the agency warned companies and citizens to be “aware of the potential reputational implications” of investments in settlement areas. “We do not encourage or offer support to such activities,” it said. 

But even these concerns should be distinguished from the organized BDS campaign against the state of Israel itself. Begun in 2005, the campaign is supposed to last, the Palestinian BDS National Committee says, until Israel “complies with international law and Palestinian rights.” 

Its three goals are “the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Arab land and dismantling the Wall,” “full equality” for “Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel,” and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees. Israelis see the first two as compatible with two states, but the third as the end of the Jewish state. 

Then there is the associated effort at an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, which has attracted well-known figures like Stephen Hawking and Sinead O’Connor. Others defend artistic freedom or the unifying nature of culture, or believe, as the writer Ian McEwan said, “If I only went to countries I approve of, I probably would never get out of bed.”

READ ALSO: Israel targets Gaza highrises as sides weigh truce deal 

Fascism Grips Israel

Fascism Grips Israel

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Zeev Sternhell is an Israeli historian, political scientist and outspoken critic of emerging Israeli fascism.

Signs reached a peak during Operation Protective Edge, he says. Democracy granting equality to everyone is nonexistent.

Sternhell deplores Israel’s settlement project. He supports Palestinian self-determination. He believes establishing a Palestinian state is essential.

What passes for Israeli democracy “reached a new nadir in the current war,” he stresses. Fascist “indicators…definitely exist here.”

He’s greatly concerned about “absolute conformism” among Israeli intellectuals. “They just followed the herd,” he says.

“By intellectuals I mean professors and journalists. The intellectual bankruptcy of the mass media in this war is total.”

“It’s not easy to go against the herd. You can easily be trampled. But the role of the intellectual and the journalist is not to applaud the government.”

“Democracy crumbles when the intellectuals, the educated classes, toe the line of the thugs or look at them with a smile.”

“People here say, ‘(i)t’s not so terrible. It’s nothing like fascism. We have free elections and parties and a parliament.’ ”

“Yet, we reached a crisis in this war, in which, without anyone asking them to do so, all kinds of university bodies are suddenly demanding that the entire academic community roll back its criticism.”

Bar-Ilan University’s law school dean threatened sanctions against a colleague. He did so for expressing sorrow over lost lives on both sides.

He called grieving for enemy losses a treasonous subversive act. According to Sternhell:

“We are arriving at a situation of purely formal democracy, which keeps sinking to ever lower levels.”

In Israel, “one sees the gradual erosion of enlightenment values.”

Consider Netanyahu’s “demand that (Palestinians) recognize Israel as the Jewish state.”

Doing so forces them “to acknowledge that they are historically inferior…The Arabs are citizens, but it’s not their country.”

“(A) distinction is made between nationhood and citizenship. Anyone can be a citizen, but we are the masters.”

The potential for annulling citizenship always exists. Arabs have no power to demand rights everyone deserves.

Democracy isn’t about voting every few years, says Sternhell. It’s tested daily “in terms of human rights.”

Everything else is secondary because “dictatorial regimes” can be established through the ballot box.

Democracy in occupied Palestine never existed. “Palestinians have no human rights.”

“You rule them by force, and after three (Jewish) boys are murdered, you can” collectively punish an entire population.

It’s always been this way, “and it corrupts,” says Sternhell. “Democracies don’t collapse suddenly. They encounter a serious crisis.”

“We could find ourselves in (one) in which the whole shebang (goes) up in smoke.”

A Knesset majority can legislate “segregation between Jews and non-Jews, impos(e) censorship, intimidat(e) dissidents, (as well as) the media and universities…”

“(I)t’s happening now, but it could reach a boiling point. The water is already very hot…It’s on the brink of boiling over.”

Sternhall calls Operation Protective Edge “a war of complete choice…” There’s no justification for blaming an entire population for killing three Jews.

Israel must change its relationship with Palestinians and with Arabs “as a whole.”

“The first thing is to stop deepening the Jewish presence in the territories.” Then support a two-state solution, lift Gaza’s siege, “let the population breathe,” and treat Palestinians “as human beings on an equal footing with us.”

Sternhall calls settlements “a cancer. If Israel can’t muster sufficient strength, political power and mental fortitude to remove some of the settlements, that will signal that the Israeli story is finished…”

Israel is the last remaining colonial country. It can’t continue this way much longer.

If not for the myth of unique Jewish suffering and fear of being called anti-Semitic, “Europe would have long (ago) boycotted the settlements.”

European business and industry are already beginning to do it.

Sternhall calls Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel, Avigdor Lieberman and other Israeli right-wing extremists “truly dangerous people.”

They deplore democracy and human rights. They deeply hate Arabs. They don’t tolerate coexistence.

Asked if he’s afraid to criticize Israel in today’s charged atmosphere, Sternhell replied:

“If I need to be afraid to (speak freely), and to say it publicly to people’s faces, then our story here is over.”

Israel was never a democracy. For sure it’s not one now.

Its “story” reflects decades of institutionalized racism, apartheid worse than South Africa’s, militarized occupation, control over virtually all aspects of Palestinian lives, ruthless repression, contempt for rule of law principles, and belligerence in lieu of peace and stability.

Operation Protective Edge is the latest example. Netanyahu vows to continue mass slaughter and destruction until his goals are reached.

Perhaps he means exterminating an entire population one war at a time and by other means.

Operation Protective Edge has been ongoing for 49 days. The death and injury toll is horrific.

Palestinian casualties mount daily. The vast majority are non-combatant men, women and children.

Israel willfully targets them. Its aggression has nothing to do with Hamas rockets.

It has everything to do with preventing Palestinian self-determination, continuing its settlement project, stealing Palestinian land and resources, scuttling Fatah/Hamas unity, maintaining occupation harshness, and prioritizing belligerence over peace and security.

It’s unclear what happens next. Ceasefires come and go. They don’t hold. Israel obstructed Cairo talks.

It did so by making outrageous demands. It offered little or nothing in return.

Its agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Violations occur straightaway. Peace is fantasy. Conflict persists.

Here we go again. On August 25, Israeli and Palestinian news organizations said Egyptian mediators proposed a new ceasefire.

It includes opening border crossings, letting in construction materials and other aid, extending Gazan fishing from three to six miles and later 12. Tough issues will be discussed a month from now.

Both sides were contacted. According to the Israeli news web portal Wallal!, Israel is ready to accept an open-ended ceasefire. A PA official responded positively.

Hamas wants any agreement to end Israel’s eight year blockade unconditionally. Israel wants Gaza demilitarized.

It wants Gazans left defenseless. It wants the right to wage future aggressive wars for any reason or none at all unchallenged.

Another ceasefire is no more likely to succeed than previous ones. Israel doesn’t negotiate in good faith.

Gazans are tired of being treated like subhumans. They know Israel can’t be trusted. It doesn’t negotiate in good faith.

It takes a giant leap of faith to believe this time may be different. It never was before. It won’t be now.

Business as usual continues. It’s official Israeli policy. Nothing suggests positive change.

Not when Netanyahu lies saying “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.”

“They simply work in the same way. They are branches of the same poisonous tree.”

Not when other Israeli hardliners want Hamas entirely destroyed. Not when former Israeli US ambassador Moshe Arens wants the same thing.

“You have to defeat (Hamas) and disarm” it, he says. A ceasefire won’t work.

Not when Israel bears full responsibility for breaking them. Not when it prioritizes conflict over peace and stability.

Not when it spurns rule of law principles. Not when it maintains militarized occupation.

Not when it holds 1.7 million Gazans hostage under suffocating siege. Not when it attacks them for any reason or none at all.

Not when it terrorizes Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem communities multiple times daily.

Not when it denies all Palestinians fundamental rights everyone deserves. Not when it spurns positive change.

Not when Washington backs and encourages its killing machine. Not when Western leaders support its genocide.

Not while Palestinians are isolated on their own. Not while their liberating struggle remains unfulfilled.

Not when on Monday, Israel murdered seven more Palestinians, wounded 92 others, and destroyed 15 residential houses, a shopping center and a mosque.

Not when creeping fascism threatens Jews and non-Jews alike. So does the scourge of Zionism.

It made Israel a killing machine. Palestinians bear the brunt of its barbarism.

Nothing suggests positive change. It bears repeating. Business as usual continues.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Are UK banks targeting Muslim charities?

Are UK banks targeting Muslim charities?

 
 

Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.

 
Last updated: 05 Aug 2014 13:04

Gruesome Tales Surface of Israeli Massacres Against Families in Gaza Neighborhood

Gruesome Tales Surface of Israeli Massacres Against Families in Gaza Neighborhood

Visiting what remains of Shujaiya yields evidence of massacres and stories of impossible courage.
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As the five-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas took hold on August 15, residents of Shujaiya returned to the shattered remains of their homes. They pitched tents and erected signs asserting their claim to their property, sorting determinedly through the ruins of their lives. 

Those who managed to survive the Israeli bombardment have come home to bedrooms obliterated by tank shells, kitchens pierced by Hellfire missiles, and boudoirs looted by soldiers who used their homes as bases of operations before embarking on a series of massacres. Once a solidly middle-class suburb of Gaza City comprised of multi-family apartments and stately homes, the neighborhood of Shujaiya was transformed into a gigantic crime scene.

The attack on Shujaiya began at 11pm on July 19, with a combined Israeli bombardment from F-16s, tanks and mortar launchers. It was a night of hell which more than 100 did not survive and that none have recovered from. Inside the ruins of what used to be homes, returning locals related stories of survival and selflessness, detailing a harrowing night of death and destruction.

Outside a barely intact four-level, multi-family home that was hardly distinguishable from the other mangled structures lining the dusty roads of Shujaiya, I met members of the Atash family reclining on mats beside a makeshift stove. Khalil Atash, the 63-year-old patriarch of the family, motioned to his son heating a teapot above a few logs and muttered, “They’ve set us back a hundred years. Look at us, we’re now burning wood to survive.”

 

Click to enlarge.

Bombed-out remnants of Shujaiya after Israeli bombing. Photo by Max Blumenthal.

Khalil Atash led me inside the home to see the damage. The walls of the second floor that was to have been home to two of his newly married children had been blown off by tank shells. All that was left of the bathroom were the hot and cold knobs on the shower. On the next floor, four small children scampered barefoot across shattered glass and jagged shards of concrete. A bunk bed and crib were badly singed in the attack. But the damage could have been far worse.

 

Khalil Atash with his grandson in the ruins of his home in Shujaiya. Photo credit: Dan Cohen

Click to enlarge.

Khalil Atash with his grandson in the ruins of his home in Shujaiya. Photo by Dan Cohen.

As the attack on Shujaiya began, the Israeli army attempted to evacuate the Atash family, according to Khalil Atash, phoning them and ordering them out in Arabic. But the family was sure the call was a prank. When the army called again, a soldier exclaimed, “You think this is a joke? You have five minutes.” Three minutes later, an F-16 sent a missile through the roof. In an incredible stroke of luck, the missile did not explode. It remained lodged in the ceiling until a day prior to my visit, when a bomb detonation crew dismantled it. 

I asked why the family remained in ruins when the army could attack again at any time.

“We have nowhere else to go now,” Khalil Atash explained. “You only die once and we’re not afraid after what we’ve been through. So we just decided to live in our house.”

The Atash family was among only a small handful willing to brave the nights in an area that was comprehensively flattened. Shujaiya stood within the long swath of Gaza Strip towns and cities that had been rendered uninhabitable by Israeli bombardment. All of these areas had one thing in common: They abutted the vast buffer zone the Israeli military had established between its border and the Gaza Strip. By pounding neighborhoods like Shujiaya and cities like Beit Hanoun until nearly all of their residents were forced to flee west for shelter, Israel was tightening the cage on the entire population.

Sprint for Survival

Khalil Atash’s son, 30-year-old Tamer, related his story of survival.

“The missiles started getting closer and began to hit everywhere so randomly,” he recalled, detailing how the strikes on Shujaiya gradually intensified after the first hour. “So I just lost it. I was watching my neighbors die and I was so close to them, I felt like I was dead too. I had two choices: Either I die doing nothing at that house or do something about it. So I chose to do something.” 

Tamer called an ambulance crew and begged the driver to help transport his family out of the attack. “All I can do is pray for you,” the driver told him. But other first responders rushed headlong into the maelstrom, risking their lives to save as many of the fleeing residents as they could. By this time, the neighborhood was engulfed in flames and shrouded in darkness — Israeli forces had bombed all of its electricity towers. He and his family decided to make a run for it in the street. Neighbors followed closely behind them, embarking on a desperate sprint for survival as homes went up in flames around them.

Relying on cellphone flashlights to illuminate their path, the fleeing residents rushed ahead under withering shelling. Tens of people fell every few hundred meters, Tamer told me. But they continued anyway, sprinting for a full kilometer until they reached safety close to Gaza City. 

As soon as he reached sanctuary, Tamer said he was overcome with guilt. Friends and neighbors were stuck in the neighborhood with no one to evacuate them. He decided to return to help anyone he could. “I’m from Shujaiyia, I have no other place to go, and we don’t own land,” he explained. “This is our only place here. So of course I came back.”

It was well past midnight, Shujaiya was in flames, and the Qassam Brigades — Hamas’ armed wing — was beginning to mobilize for a counterattack. “The situation outside was literally hell,” Tamer said. 

In previous assaults on Gaza, Israeli forces met only light resistance. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, when the army attacked Gaza’s civilian population with indiscriminate firepower, most Israeli casualties were the result of fratricide. But this time was different. With little more than light weapons at their disposal, uniformed Qassam fighters engaged the Israelis at close distances, sometimes just a few meters away, exposing a glaring weakness of the Middle East’s most heavily equipped, technologically advanced armies. During the battle, Qassam fighters scored a hit on an Israeli armored personnel carrier, killing five soldiers inside, then momentarily captured the fatally wounded Lt. Shaul Oron. 

The loss of soldiers and the possible capture of Oron — a situation that raised the specter of a politically devastating prisoner swap — sent Israeli forces into a vengeful frenzy. “The F-16s were no longer up in the sky bombing us, they were flying just above the houses,” Tamer recalled. “It felt like an atomic bomb with four F-16s coming one way and another four from the opposite direction, weaving between the houses. At this point, we realized we were not surviving. We said our last prayers, and that was it. Because we know that when the Israelis lose one of their soldiers they become lunatics. We just knew they had suffered something, we could sense it.”

Tamer watched some of his neighbors jump from fourth-floor windows as their homes burst into flames. Others rushed out in their night clothes, nearly nude, prompting him and other men to hand over their shirts and even their trousers to women scurrying half exposed through the darkened streets. After giving the shirt off his back to one woman, he gave his sandals to another who had sliced her feet open on rubble. 

“Sure, I was crazy and stupid, but I just wanted for them to survive,” he said. “If I had to die, then fine, but someone had to make a sacrifice.” 

By dawn, waves of survivors poured from Shujaiya into Gaza City. Sons had carried their fathers on their backs; mothers had hoisted children into lorries and ambulances; others searched frantically for missing family when they arrived, only to learn that they had fallen under the shelling. For many, it was another Nakba, a hellish reincarnation of the fateful days of 1948 when Zionist militias forcibly expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land. This time, however, there was almost nowhere for the refugees to flee. 

Evidence of Chilling Plans

Back in Shujaiya, the shelling momentarily subsided for a one-hour ceasefire. But the International Committee of the Red Cross proved unable to evacuate those trapped in the area, possibly because of the Israeli army’s refusal to coordinate with its first responders or because the army had targeted its ambulances in airstrikes. Thus the stragglers and wounded were at the mercy of Israel’s Golani Brigade special forces troops, which had taken up positions at the edge of Shujaiya, occupying homes just east of the area’s main mosque.

I visited almost a dozen homes occupied by Israeli soldiers in eastern Shujaiya, wading through rubble and piles of shattered furniture in search of clues into the Israeli plans of operation. I found floors littered with bullet casings, sandbags used as foundations for heavy machine guns, sniper holes punched into walls just inches above floors, and piles of empty Israeli snack food containers. 

In the stairwell at the entrance to one home I visited, soldiers had engraved a Star of David. In another, soldiers used markers to scrawl in mangled Arabic, “We did not want to enter Gaza but terrorist Hamas made us enter. Damn terrorist Hamas and their supporters.”

I found a wall in another home vandalized with the symbol of Beitar Jerusalem, the Jerusalem-based football club popular among the hardcore cadres of Israel’s right-wing. Below the Beitar logo was the slogan, “Price Tag,” referring to the vigilante terror attacks carried out by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

 

Click to enlarge.

Graffiti by Israeli soldiers in a home in Shujaiya reads, “Price Tag.” Photo by Max Blumenthal.

In each home the soldiers occupied, I found walls etched with crude maps of the immediate vicinity. Each house was assigned a number, possibly to enable commanders to call in air and artillery strikes ahead of their forward positions. Names of soldiers, including those wounded or missing, were listed on several walls, but they were concealed with spray paint upon the troops’ departure.

In the ruins of a second-floor bedroom, in an empty ammo box under a tattered bed, a colleague discovered two laminated maps of Shujaiya. They were photographed by satellite at 10:32am on July 17, just days before the neighborhood was flattened. The date in the upper-right-hand corner of one map was written American-style, with the month before the day, raising the question of whether a US or Israeli satellite had captured the image. Outlined in orange was a row of homes numbered between 16 and 29; the homes immediately to their west were labeled with arrows indicating forward troop movements.

 

Click to enlarge.

 A map of Israeli army operations discovered in a destroyed home in Shujaiya. Photo by Max Blumenthal.

A local man who had accompanied us into the house pointed at the homes on the map outlined in orange, then motioned out the window to where they once stood. Every single house in that row had been obliterated by airstrikes. I looked back at the map and noticed that the dusty field we faced was labeled in Hebrew, “Soccer Field.” Two areas just west of the field were marked, “T.A. South” and “T.A. North,” perhaps a cryptic reference to Tel Aviv. Devised at least two days before the assault, the map sectioned Shujaiya into various areas of operation, with color-coded delineations that were impossible to decipher but suggested disturbing intentions.

Eran Efrati, a former Israeli combat soldier turned anti-occupation activist, interviewed several soldiers who participated in the assault on Shujaiya. “I can report that the official command that was handed down to the soldiers in Shujaiya was to capture Palestinian homes as outposts,” Efrati wrote. “From these posts, the soldiers drew an imaginary red line, and amongst themselves decided to shoot to death anyone who crosses it. Anyone crossing the line was defined as a threat to their outposts, and was thus deemed a legitimate target. This was the official reasoning inside the units.” 

In the area occupied by Israeli soldiers, the killing that had previously taken place by air and distant artillery assaults took on a gruesomely intimate quality. It was there, in the ruins of their homes, that returning locals told me of the cold-blooded execution of their family members. 

Massacres in Broad Daylight

At the eastern edge of the “Soccer Field” now occupied by tents and surrounded by demolished five-story apartment complexes, I met Mohammed Fathi Al Areer. A middle-aged man wearing an eyepatch, he led me through the first floor of his home, which was now a virtual cave furnished with a single sofa, then into what used to be his backyard, where the interior of his bedroom had been exposed by a tank shell. It was here, Al Areer told me, that four of his brothers were executed in cold blood. One of them, Hassan Al Areer, was mentally disabled and had little idea he was about to be killed. Mohammed Al Areer said he found bullet casings next to their heads when he discovered their decomposing bodies.

Just next door was the Shamaly family, one of the hardest hit in Shujaiya. Hesham Naser Shamaly, 25, described to me what happened when five members of his family decided to stay in their home to guard the thousands of dollars of clothing stocks they planned to sell through their family business. When soldiers approached the home with weapons drawn, Shamaly said his father emerged from the home with his hands up and attempted to address them in Hebrew. 

“He couldn’t even finish the sentence before they shot him,” Shamaly told me. “He was only injured and fainted, but they thought he was dead so they left him there and moved on to the others. They shot the rest — my uncle, my uncle’s wife, and my two cousins — they shot them dead.” 

Miraculously, Shamaly’s father managed to revive himself after laying bleeding for almost three days. He walked on his own strength toward Gaza City and found medical help. “Someone called me to tell me he was alive,” Shamaly said, “and I thought it was a joke.”

Hesham Shamaly’s 22-year-old cousin, Salem, was also executed by the Israeli soldiers who had taken up positions in the neighborhood. When Salem Shamaly returned to his neighborhood during the temporary ceasefire at 3:30pm on July 20 to search for missing family members alongside members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), he apparently crossed the imaginary red line drawn by the soldiers. When he waded into a pile of rubble, a single shot rang out from a nearby sniper, sending his body crumpling to the ground. As he attempted to get up, another shot struck him in the chest. A third shot left his body limp.

The incident was captured on camera by a local activist named Muhammad Abedullah, then disseminated across the world by the ISM. Israeli military spokespeople were strangely silent. Back in Gaza City, where survivors of the Shamaly family had taken shelter in a relative’s apartment, Salem Shamaly’s sister and cousin received an emailed link to the video.

Over the next three minutes, they watched Salem die. They knew it was him because they recognized the sound of his voice as he cried out for help. 

Despair and Resistance 

In an apartment on Remad Street in Gaza City, I met the parents, siblings and cousins of Salem Shamaly. They had been forced to relocate here after their home was completely obliterated by Israeli tank shells and drone strikes in Shujaiya. The apartment was crowded but impeccably clean. It was a more desirable arrangement than one of the UN schools where most of their neighbors lodged in squalid conditions with little to no privacy, though no less an indignity.

Salem Shamaly’s father, 62-year-old Khalil, said the family evacuated Shujaiya at 8am. As soon as they reached safety, they realized Salem was missing. “It’s impossible to put into words how difficult it was,” Khalil Shamaly said. “We waited for two or three days not knowing and when we found out, it was too difficult to handle. I have had to call on God and he helped me.”

The attacks on Shujaiya continued for days, making it impossible for the Shamaly family to retrieve Salem’s body. They beseeched the ICRC for help but after so many attacks on their vehicles from the Israeli army, which had declared all of Shujaiya a “closed military zone,” they were unwilling to approach the area. Salem’s father, Khalil, still believes his son might have been saved if he was evacuated right away. 

When Salem’s family finally retrieved his body, they found it badly burned, almost unrecognizable, and tossed dozens of meters from the location where he had been killed by subsequent bombardments. The death toll had reached such unbearable levels he could not be buried in Shujaiya, where the cemetery was overfull. When Shamaly’s finally found a place to bury him, they had to open a pre-existing grave because that cemetery was also full. This was just one of many stories I heard this week of a rushed burial, a family thrown into chaos, and a young life truncated and denied dignity in death.

Salem’s cousin, Hind Al Qattawi, whipped out a laptop and played for me a clip of a report on the killing by NBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin. Al Qattawi had wanted to demonstrate for me the international impact the incident made, but instead, she summoned barely submerged emotions back to the surface. As soon as the video of Salem’s murder began to play, his mother, Amina, sobbed openly.

“The real problem is not just losing your home in the bombardment,” Muhammad Al Qattawi, the brother of Hind, told me. “The problem is you have lost your future, you lose your hope, and you can even lose your mind. Two million people here are on the verge of losing their minds.”

He handed me a packet of pills that had been prescribed to various family members. Deprived of justice, they had been given antidepressants to numb their despair.

Among those suffering most was Salem’s younger brother. The slightly built 14-year-old recalled his brother as a bright accounting student who paid for his education by working in his father’s corner store. He was one of his best friends. 

“We used to go out with him whenever we were bored and he used to take us places,” Waseem said, fighting back tears. “Now, he’s gone, and there’s no one else to fill his place.” 

When Waseem recovered, I asked him what he wanted to be when he came of age. He replied without pause that he planned to join the resistance. A look of intentness had replaced his sorrow. He said he had not considered becoming a fighter until the war came down on Shujaiya. 

Max Blumenthal is a senior writer for AlterNet, and the author of Goliath and Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books, 2009). Find him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal..

Future Cell Phones Will Make Emergency Calls Even Without the Network

Future Cell Phones Will Make Emergency Calls Even When the Network Goes Down

A new cellular standard, LTE Direct, will be approved by the end of the year
 


 


Thomas Fuchs

When Hurricane Sandy battered the Eastern seaboard in 2012, it took down up to half of all cellular towers in the hardest-hit areas. The storm highlighted a flaw in our reliance on wireless phones as a primary means of communication. Qualcomm and other wireless companies have been working on a new cellular standard—a set of technical procedures that ensures devices can “talk” to one another—that will keep the lines open if the network fails. The Proximity Services, or so-called LTE Direct, standard will be approved by the end of the year.

In a typical cell phone call, the signal travels through a cellular tower. LTE Direct cuts out that middleman. In emergencies, phones that use it will be able to connect directly with one another over the same frequency as 4G LTE transmissions. Users will be able to call other users or first responders within about 500 meters. If the target is not nearby, the system can relay a message through multiple phones until it reaches its destination.

Qualcomm and others will need to update their antennas and processors to take advantage of LTE Direct, so it will be a year or more before phones have this functionality. But an approved standard means companies can get working.

This article was originally published with the title “A Network That Never Goes Down.”

Suspect in revenge killing of Palestinian teen hunted victim, prosecutors say

 August 18

 The Israeli eyeglass-shop owner accused of burning an Arab teenager alive last month led a “hunting expedition” to kill a Palestinian to avenge the murder of three Israeli yeshiva students, prosecutors say.

Many Israelis say they were appalled to see one of their own charged with murdering an Arab child. The revenge killing undercut Israel’s sense of moral superiority and exposed Israel to charges that Jewish extremists follow the same rules as Palestinian terror cells.

The criminal indictment against Yosef Haim Ben-David, 30, portrays him as a remorseless night stalker who prowled Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, armed with bottles of gasoline and plastic handcuffs, looking for a weak, vulnerable victim.

Ben-David’s attorneys have suggested that their client is mentally ill. Israeli police reports say he was taking medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Court filings show he was arrested briefly in 2012 after he told his therapist that he thought about strangling his infant daughter.

In a recent courtroom appearance, Ben-David proclaimed, “I am the messiah!” — an outburst that the families of his Arab victims fear was a calculated attempt to evade justice with an insanity defense.

 

The crime has roiled the deeply conservative, ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, where the defendant’s father, a prominent rabbi named Saadiah Ben-David, raised 13 children and teaches classes in Jewish law at a yeshiva.

“This is against our Holy Torah and against the law,” the father was quoted as telling the Israeli Ynet news agency.

Yosef Haim Ben-David’s eyewear shop is in Geula, a dense, bustling commercial district in a religious neighborhood of Jerusalem. The store’s stock was recently cleared out and the business shuttered.

“He was a really good man. He was friends with everyone here,” said Yehuda Afgani, who works at a neighboring shop.

“I don’t care about the other guy,” Afgani said, referring to Ben-David’s teenage victim. “That’s what the stress of living here does to us.”

Ben-David rented a house in the Adam community, one of the Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank that are considered by much of the world to be a violation of international law, though Israel disputes this.

When Ben-David was arrested before dawn July 6, by plainclothes police wearing masks, neighbors first thought it was a terrorist attack.

Israeli troops demolished the homes of two Palestinian militants suspected in the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens. (AP)

His settlement boasts single-family villas, bougainvillea and sweeping views of the Judean hills. Neighbors said they had seen little of Ben-David since he moved to their quiet cul-de-sac 18 months ago. His wife was pleasant but kept to herself, minding their toddler daughter, they said.

Ben-David commonly wore jeans and brightly colored shirts instead of the black-and-white clothing of his ultra-Orthodox community.

A few days before the killing, he showed up two hours late to a Saturday religious service with his two teenage nephews, according to Rabbi Gur Lavi.

“They laughed and gave some excuse,” Lavi said. “This was not a serious man.”

The yeshiva of Ben-David’s father referred reporters to a family spokeswoman, who said Ben-David has had psychiatric issues since adolescence. She said his two accomplices, who were not named by authorities because they are minors, are relatives of his.

“Everyone here was against it. There is no ideology here of killing non-Jews,” said an elderly Jewish scholar with a long white beard and a tall black hat, sitting in a hushed room in a yeshiva filled with heavy books.

Ben-David’s first attack allegedly came after news broke June 13 of thekidnapping of the three Israeli yeshiva students as they hitchhiked home from the West Bank.

After midnight on June 15, Ben-David and a young accomplice went to an Arab-owned store. They broke the windows with a crowbar, poured gasoline inside and lit it on fire, the indictment said.

The victim of the attack, Raed Abu Khalil, 40, a father of eight, said Ben-David had often bought cigarettes with no problems.

“Thank God it was only the store,” Abu Khalil said in an interview. “It could have been one of my children.”

The discovery of the bodies of the three Jewish kidnapping victims on June 30 was an emotionally charged moment in Israel.

“Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created. Neither has vengeance for the blood of 3 pure youths who were on their way home to their parents,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on his Twitter account.

Late that night, Ben-David told one of his accomplices, a yeshiva student, “We have to take revenge against the Arabs,” according to the indictment.

The student changed into secular clothes and joined Ben-David on a drive to East Jerusalem, where Arab families were strolling after breaking the Ramadan fast.

There they spotted Deema Zalloum in a Muslim headscarf and a long coat, pushing a stroller with her 6-month-old daughter as her sons Yahia, 8, and Musa, 7, walked nearby.

The yeshiva student grabbed Musa “around his throat in a strangling position” and dragged him toward Ben-David’s Honda, the indictment said.

“My only thought was to rescue my son,” Zalloum recalled in an interview. She hit her son’s abductor on the head with her cellphone.

The teenage assailant punched her in the face and shoved her to the ground, kicking her with his boots “with hatred,” she said. Zalloum blacked out. Her sons escaped to a nearby dry cleaner, and the workers ran outside, but Ben-David and his accomplice sped away.

The July 1 funeral for the kidnapped Israeli youths prompted a national outpouring of grief. Late that night, Ben-David met at his eyeglass shop with the yeshiva student, 17, and a second accomplice, a toy-store clerk, 16, and suggested that they try to kidnap and kill an Arab, the indictment said.

They drove to Adam, removed the child seat in Ben-David’s car to make room for a victim and stopped in Hizmeh to fill bottles with gasoline, the indictment alleged.

Near a gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, the assailants stopped to offer Arab children cigarettes but failed to coax them into the car, the document said.

Finally, in the Shuafat district of East Jerusalem, they allegedly approached Mohammad Abu Khieder, who was 17 but looked younger. He was on his way to dawn prayers at the mosque.

Abu Khieder became suspicious and tried to call a friend, but the teenagers wrestled him into the car, and they sped away as Abu Khieder’s uncle shouted helplessly, the indictment said.

In the car, the yeshiva student allegedly choked Abu Khieder until he lost consciousness. At the Jerusalem Forest, Abu Khieder made a sound, and Ben-David clubbed him with a wrench twice, calling out the names of the families of the kidnapping victims, according to the indictment.

The medical examination showed that Abu Khieder was still alive when Ben-David allegedly set him on fire.

Afterward, the trio returned to Adam, played guitar and slept, the indictment said.

After Abu Khieder’s body was discovered, his family was incensed when Israeli investigators asked if the violence had been part of a family feud, or if Abu Khieder had been gay and was slain in an honor killing.

When the arrests of the suspects were announced July 6, authorities said that “nationalistic” motives were behind the murder.

Ben-David was initially provided representation by Honenu, a legal aid group whose clients have included Jewish settlers accused of shooting Arabs, vandals who have spray-painted anti-Arab slogans and defaced mosques and churches, and soldiers charged with human rights abuses. His first lawyer told the news media that Ben-David would plead temporary insanity.

Families of the Arab victims were outraged.

“This was premeditated. It shows they’re not crazy,” said Rami Zalloum, the husband of the woman who, with her child, was attacked in East Jerusalem. “Always, when they commit a crime against an Arab, they’re crazy.”

 

Orly Halpern, Sufian Taha and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

The Jews who Loathe Israel

 

Gaza Strip: The Jews who Loathe Israel

 

As the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel gets underway, anti-Israeli groups including high profile Jews have vehemently condemned Israel’s offensive against Gaza that has killed more than 1,800 civilians since July 8. Here we take a look at some of Israel’s enemies.

Norman Finkelstein

Norman Finkelstein

Norman Finkelsteinwikipedia

Norman Finkelstein, an American political scientist, activist, professor, and author, born to Jewish parents, is currently organising a mass pro-Gaza rally in New York on Friday to protest against Israel’s actions in the month long conflict.

He wrote on Stop the Terror Bombing! Lift the Blockade! Facebook page: “I am shocked by the cowardly Israeli massacre in Gaza, and Barack Obama’s cynical complicity. I am despairing that anything can be done to stop it. But its’ still in our power to bear witness, so it cannot be said that we stood by silently.”

Finkelstein’s primary fields of research are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust, which was motivated by the experiences of his parents who were Jewish Holocaust survivors. He has been branded a Holocaust denier after his work ‘The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering’ was published in 2000. He argues that Hungarian-born Elie Wiesel, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, who was a prisoner in the Auschwitz, and others exploit the memory of the Holocaust as an “ideologicaly weapon” so the State of Israel “one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record can cast itself as a victim state”. Finkelstein’s work has attracted a number of supporters including US philosopher Noam Chomsky as well as detractors from around the world.

Pro-Palestine rally
Palestine rally

 

Noam Chomsky

Born to a middle-class Ashkenazi Jewish family in Philadelphia, US philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky, who was once voted the world’s top public intellectual is a leading critic of US foreign policy.

He believes Israel should be held to account over its actions, writing: “Israel’s crimes have by now reached such an appalling level of savagery that any legitimate means should be used to protest them and bring them to an end, and soon, while something still survives their vicious and sadistic onslaught.”

Being Jewish, he faced anti-semitisim as a child, particularly from the Irish and German communities living in Philadelphia. His career was damaged when he defended the right of French historian Robert Faurisson to be a Holocaust denier, prompting France’s mainstream media to accuse Chomsky of being a Holocaust denier himself. His plea for the historian’s freedom of speech was published as the preface to Faurisson’s 1980 book -‘Mémoire en défense contre ceux qui m’accusent de falsifier l’histoire’, (Defense against those who accuse me of falsifying history).  Chomsky was married to Carol Doris Schatz (Chomsky) from 1949 until her death in 2008. They had 3 children together: Aviva, Diane and Harry.

Mira Bar-Hillel

mira bar-hillel

Mira Bar-Hillel

Mira Bar-Hillel, the property and planning correspondent for the Evening Standard, was born in Jerusalem in 1946 has described herself as a “deliberate outsider” in the British Jewish community since the most recent Gaza conflict – admitting to being on the verge of burning her Israeli passport. She was Israel’s first female radio news reporter after serving as a “non-aggressive” army member before moving to the UK in 1972.

She recently defended re-tweeting a far-Right hoax, re-telling tropes about ‘Jewish power’ in the USA, Hoax or not, saying, “Hoax or not the message is entirely true, and increasingly so.”

She made a vow she would never write about Israel  but changed her mind when she discovered Holocaust survivors were living “below the breadline” in the country.  She has also claimed in a recent interview on BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme to have “a lot of evidence” that many of Britain’s 260,000 Jews will not speak up against Israel out of fear of being “ex-communicated” from their local community – fearing they will be blocked from their local synagogues, their children would be bullied and they would even be denied a Jewish burial. Her father was Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, an Israeli philosopher, mathematician, and linguist.

 

Alexei Sayle

alexei sayle

Alexei Sayle

The Jewish-British stand-up comedian, actor and author, whose mother Molly is from Lithuanian Jewish descent, is not a stranger to holding anarchic views and has recently been quoted as saying on Twitter in regard to the Israeli-Gaza conflict: “It is the psychology of the murderer, the rapist, the bully. That’s what Israel is in this situation.”

In an interview with Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding), he described Israel as the “Jimmy Saville of nation states”, which “clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children.”

Sayle was born and raised in Anfield, Liverpool. His parents, Molly and Joseph, were both members of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which he joined  in the aftermath of the May 1968 French uprising. Sayle’s diverse career stems from playing a central part on the alternative comedy circuit in the early 1980s to featuring in films including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Gorky Park. He also has written books such as ‘Mister Roberts’ and published his autobiography – ‘Stalin Ate My Homework’.

 

Tony Greenstein

Tony Greenstein

Tony Greensteinazvsas.blogspot.com

Political activist Tony Greenstein comes from an Orthodox Jewish family but is a passionate anti-Zionist comparing Nazism to Zionism – accusing the Jews of ethnically cleansing the Palestinians.

He is a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Britain and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.  Greenstein has written for many publications includingTribune, Labour Briefing and Weekly Worker. His work has been published in Hodder & Stoughton’s The Essentials of Philosophy & Ethics (2006).

Greenstein has also written a number of articles for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section before he was banned for rejecting the idea that comparing Zionism and the Israeli State to the Nazis was anti-Semitic.

In an interview with the Brighton Argus newspaper, he said: “The first book I ever read was called The Scourge of the Swastika by Lord Russell of Liverpool which was about Auschwitz and the horrors of the Nazis.It made me think about how hateful human beings could be to other human beings. Soon I became aware that those arguing for the Jewish state were actually arguing for separation on racial grounds, which was exactly what the Nazis were doing. I thought it was wrong that a people who had been oppressed felt it was then OK to oppress others – so I decided to fight against it.”

Greenstein is a member of Brighton & Hove Trades Council, UNISON and Secretary of Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Centre. He is an activist in the Brighton Benefits Campaign. He is also a law graduate who works in the area of employment rights.

 

Neturei Karta

neturei karta

Rally of solidarity with Gaza – July 18, 2014http://www.nkusa.org

Neturei Karta – meaning “Guardians of the City” in Aramaic – is a Orthodox Jewish religious group, who refuses to recognise the existence or authority of the State of Israel and is calling for its dismantlement. They attend many pro-Gaza rallies across the world to publicly demonstrate their position of unadulterated Judaism and condemnation of Zionism. They believe Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Jewish Messiah.

Last month Rabbi Yoel Glauber spoke up for Gaza at the Al-Quds Day rally at Times Square in New York.

He said: “We Orthodox Jews have come here today to present the religious community from around the world including Jerusalem. We are here to express our solidarity and sympathy with the suffering of the people of Palestine and Gaza, and to express our outrage and condemnation of the ongoing atrocity by the Israeli army against the people of Gaza. Our hearts cry for the people of Gaza.”

 

Israel Shamir

Israel Shamir

Israel ShamirWikipedia

Russian-born Jewish intellectual, Israel Shamir, is a writer and journalist, famously known as a Holocaust denier and being anti-Semitic.

He was born in Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine. He writes and comments on Arab-Israeli relations, believing in an one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also opposes Zionism and Judaism. 

“We should live in one state, not only because of the blatant failure of Oslo. The very idea of partition is wrong.” he said.

He criticises the Jewish quest for world hegemony, writing: “Palestine is not the ultimate goal of the Jews; the world is.”

He refutes accusations that he is a Holocaust denier despite alleging that gas chambers at Auschwitz did not exist on his own website.

Defending himself he wrote: “My family lost too many of its sons and daughters for me to deny the facts of Jewish tragedy, but I do deny its religious salvific significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness, I do deny the morbid cult of Holocaust and I think every God-fearing man, a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should reject it as Abraham rejected and smashed idols.”

Most recently he has been associated with controversial site, Wikileaks,  which publishes classified government information. Shamir is accused of giving the Russian Reporter “privileged access” to US diplomatic cables in 2010. He has also been blamed for allegedly leaking cables involving EU diplomats and passing on “sensitive cables” to the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko.

Shamir’s son, a journalist named Johannes Wahlstrom is a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in Sweden.

 Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein

Naomi KleinEd Kashi

Jewish-Canadian award-winning journalist, Naomi Klein, known for her international bestsellers:  The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, has never shied away from heavily criticising Israel – once remarking that “the best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa”.

She is an avid supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, apologising to the Palestians in 2009 for joining it earlier. She emphasized it was important to her “not to boycott Israelis but rather to boycott the normalization of Israel”.

During a speech that year in Ramallah her remarks that “some Jews even think we get one get-away-with-genocide-free-card” was branded by one Jerusalem Post columnist as “intrinsically evil” and “malicious”.

Klein is married to TV journalist and documentary filmmaker, Avi Lewis. They had their first child, son Toma, on June 13, 2012.

The Death of Sympathy

The Death of Sympathy

How Israel’s hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left.

TEL AVIV — Pro-war demonstrators stand behind a police barricade in Tel Aviv, chanting, “Gaza is a graveyard.” An elderly woman pushes a cart of groceries down the street in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon and asks a reporter, “Jewish or Arab? Because I won’t talk to Arabs.” A man in Sderot, a town that lies less than a mile from Gaza, looks up as an Israeli plane, en route to the Hamas-ruled territory, drops a blizzard of leaflets over the town. “I hope that’s not all we’re dropping,” he says.

Even before the war, Israel was shifting right, as an increasingly strident cadre of politicians took ownership of the public debate on security and foreign affairs. But the Gaza conflict has accelerated the lurch — empowering nationalistic and militant voices, dramatically narrowing the space for debate, and eroding whatever public sympathy remained for the Palestinians.

The fighting seems to be winding down, but it leaves behind a hardened Israeli public opinion: There is a widespread feeling that Israelis are the true victims here, that this war with a guerrilla army in a besieged territory is existential.

Hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found himself under pressure from politicians even further to his right. The premier has suspended negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, arrested more than 1,000 Palestinians, demolished the homes of several people convicted of no crimes, and launched an offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 1,800 people. That’s not enough, even for some members of Netanyahu’s own party, who see worrying signs of weakness.

“We’ve seen the influence of [Tzipi] Livni over the prime minister,” Likud Knesset member Danny Danon told Foreign Policy, referring to the justice minister and her centrist party. “My position is to make sure we’re not becoming a construct of the left…. As long as he stays loyal, he’ll have the backing of the party.”

Netanyahu fired Danon from his post as deputy defense minister last month, because he was too critical of the government’s strategy in Gaza. But Danon cannot be dismissed as a marginal figure: He took control of the Likud central committee last year, and has used the post to steer the party further right — an ironic turnabout, as Netanyahu used the same tactics to drive out former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a decade ago. 

Even before his election, the 2012 Likud primary turned Netanyahu into perhaps the most liberal member of his own party.

 

Even before his election, the 2012 Likud primary turned Netanyahu into perhaps the most liberal member of his own party.

 

Public opinion polls confirm the Israeli right’s gains during the current conflict. A survey conducted by the Knesset Channel last week found that the right-wing parties would win 56 seats in the next election, up from 43 last year. The center-left bloc would shrink from 59 seats to 48. Other surveys suggest that the right could win a majority by itself, without needing religious parties or centrists to form a coalition.

But perhaps more striking is the public’s near-unanimous support for the Gaza war, from Israelis across the political spectrum. Roughly 90 percent of Jewish Israelis support the war, according to recent polls. Less than 4 percent believe the army has used “excessive firepower,” the Israel Democracy Institute found, though even Israeli officials admit that a majority of the 1,800 Palestinians killed so far are civilians.

Meanwhile, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, the ostensible head of the opposition, is doing public relations work for Netanyahu, defending the war at a gathering of foreign diplomats. Livni herself at times sounds more hawkish than the prime minister, arguing that Israel should topple Hamas and build a moat to separate itself from Gaza. “I have two words for you: Get lost,” she told the U.N. Human Rights Council after it voted to investigate possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

And Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who once threatened to bolt the coalition if talks with the Palestinians collapsed, has been another vocal advocate. “This is a tough war, but a necessary one,” he said last month.

Decades ago, a commentator coined the phrase “quiet, we’re shooting” — a reflection of the Israeli public’s tendency to rally behind the army in wartime. But this time, public dissent hasn’t just been silenced, it’s been all but smothered. A popular comedian was dumped from her job as the spokeswoman for a cruise line after she criticized the war. Local radiorefused to air an advertisement from B’Tselem, a rights group, which simply intended to name the victims in Gaza.

Scattered anti-war rallies have drawn small crowds, mostly in the low hundreds; the largest brought several thousand people to Tel Aviv on July 26. But most of the protests ended in violence at the hands of ultranationalists, who attacked them and set up roving checkpoints to hunt for “leftists” afterwards. Demonstrators have been beaten, pepper-sprayed, and bludgeoned with chairs.

In hundreds of interviews with Israelis over the past month, there has been little criticism of their government’s actions, much less sympathy for Gaza’s. “We have suffered terribly, but when you are pushed into a corner, you have no choice,” said one man in Ashkelon. “Their children? What about our children? If they cared about their children, they wouldn’t have chosen Hamas,” said a woman in Kiryat Malachi, a city in Israel’s south.

The media, by and large, has become a unanimous choir in support of destroying Hamas. The only exception is Haaretz, where Gideon Levy, one of the newspaper’s best-known columnists, has started reporting with a bodyguard after he was accosted during a live television interview in Ashkelon. Yariv Levin, a Knesset member from Likud and a chairman of the governing coalition, wants to charge Levy with treason because of his writing.

“I’ve never had it so harsh, so violent, and so tense,” Levy said. 

“We will face a new Israel after this operation … nationalistic, religious in many ways, brainwashed, militaristic, with very little empathy for the sacrifice of the other side. Nobody in Israel cares at all.”

 

“We will face a new Israel after this operation … nationalistic, religious in many ways, brainwashed, militaristic, with very little empathy for the sacrifice of the other side. Nobody in Israel cares at all.”

 

Already, figures who challenge Israel’s dominant narrative about the conflict — or even dare to tweak public sensibilities — have been met with an overwhelming and vicious backlash. Last week, Hanoch Sheinman, a law professor at Bar-Ilan University, emailed his students about their revised exam schedule. He opened by wishing “that you, your families and those dear to you are not among the hundreds of people that were killed, the thousands wounded, or the tens of thousands whose homes were destroyed.”

The dean of the law school pronounced himself shocked at Sheinman’s email, and wrote to students that Sheinman’s “hurtful letter … contravene[s] the values of the university.”

“Even this trivial expression of concern stirred such a backlash, and that’s not trivial at all,” Sheinman told Foreign Policy. “To be shocked or angered … by a trivial expression of sympathy to everyone is to betray a lack of such sympathy.”

Even in the Knesset, voices of dissent have been silenced. Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who is a favorite target for the right, has been barred from most parliamentary activity for six months. Her punishment, the harshest one meted out by the Ethics Committee, was a response to a radio interview in which she said the June 12 kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers was not terrorism. “The atmosphere has become very radical,” said Basel Ghattas, a colleague of Zoabi’s.

On the other side of the political spectrum — and dominating the conversation — are people like Moshe Feiglin, a clownish figure from Likud and a deputy speaker of parliament. He called last week for the “conquest” of Gaza, and the “elimination of all military forces and their supporters.” This is our land, he wrote, “only ours, including Gaza.” Nobody has demanded his censure.

Though this current bout of fighting in Gaza may be now at an end, Israel’s rightward turn appears here to stay. The deaths of more than 60 Israeli soldiers in the conflict have not dented public support for the war; if anything, it appears to have whet many Israelis’ appetite for vengeance.

At a funeral last month, hundreds of mourners sobbed softly as the flag-draped coffin of an Israeli officer was brought into the cemetery. The soldier’s mother lay her head on the coffin, refusing to let an honor guard lower it into the grave; steps away, the officer’s pregnant wife consoled his anguished father, who wore a torn black shirt in accordance with Jewish custom. Next to the grave was another freshly dug plot.

One young woman, a casual acquaintance of the officer’s, leaned on the metal police barricades ringing the gravesite. “We should kill 100 of theirs for every one of ours,” she said.

DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Im

SLAVES OF HAPPINESS ISLAND

Rightwing Jews who want to destroy Muslim holy site in Jerusalem raise funds on Indiegogo

Rightwing Jews who want to destroy Muslim holy site in Jerusalem raise funds on Indiegogo

The righting fundamentalist org, the Temple Institute, is raising money on Indiegogo to draft plans to build the third temple on the holy mount in occupied Jerusalem. They’ve raised nearly $17,000 out of a hoped-for $100,000, using the messianic video above that pictures the remade temple in its last frames.

The site is one of the holiest sites in Islam because of its place in Mohammed’s life– “the Noble Sanctuary” — and the Third Temple project is explicitly aimed at destroying Muslim sites of worship, including the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque. As the Temple Institute states:

Geo-politically, the Temple Mount has to be cleared of the Dome of the Rock and the mosques which are presently located upon it before the physical rebuilding of the Holy Temple can begin. Many scenarios can be imagined which would accomplish this, the most promising, and not necessarily the most far-fetched, would entail Moslem recognition of the Mount as the intended location for the rebuilt Temple.

From the Indiegogo campaign:

After millennia of yearning, only one organization is paving the way for the rebuilding of the Temple…

Now is time for one of its most ambitious projects yet: completing architectural plans for the actual construction, fusing ancient texts and modern technology.

A friend, Khalid, sent a complaint to Indiegogo, and got a response (excerpted below), but Indiegogo has taken no action.

Thank you for reaching out. Indiegogo empowers campaign owners and contributors to raise money for, or support, the things that matter to them. Since Indiegogo is an equal opportunity platform, a wide variety of subject matters and opinions may be expressed through campaigns. Due to the fact that we do not curate these campaigns, the views reflected by campaign owners are not necessarily those of Indiegogo. Because of the diversity of our community, it’s possible that something could be disagreeable or disturbing to you without meeting the criteria for being removed or blocked. With that said, we are reviewing this campaign to ensure that it complies with our Terms of Use….

We take the integrity and security of our community very seriously and we greatly appreciate your patience and understanding throughout this review process.

This story has been at Haaretz and Al Jazeera too.

Sickening scenes from Gaza as doctors are forced to use vegetable fridges to store bodies

Sickening scenes from Gaza as doctors are forced to use vegetable fridges to store bodies as Hamas denies ‘killing’ kidnapped soldier

  • WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Fresh wave of air strikes this morning levelled mosques in Gaza on 26th day
  • Hamas admitted armed wing may have seized 23-year-old Israeli Lieutenant Hadar Goldin during clash yesterday
  • But spokesman said the group had lost contact with their own fighters meaning all were ‘probably’ killed by Israel
  • Death toll stands at more than 1,650 Palestinians and 66 Israelis as U.S. pledges $225m to Israel’s rocket defences

By DAN BLOOM

 

 

New photos from Gaza show bloodied bodies piled high in a walk-in vegetable fridge as a fresh wave of violence engulfs the region, where Israel and Hamas have traded furious accusations over who is to blame.

Hamas admitted today it may have seized the Israeli soldier whose alleged kidnapping yesterday morning left a 72-hour truce in tatters.

But fighters insisted they did not kill 23-year-old Lieutenant Hadar Goldin – who is still officially considered missing – claiming instead that he was ‘probably’ killed as Hamas battled Israeli forces. 

 

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT 

Bloodied: A medic stands among bodies which have been placed hastily in a walk-in vegetable fridge in Rafah, Gaza. Other images are too graphic to publish in full. Hamas admitted today it may have seized - but did not kill - the Israeli soldier whose alleged kidnapping yesterday morning left a 72-hour truce in tatters

Bloodied: A medic stands among bodies which have been placed hastily in a walk-in vegetable fridge in Rafah, Gaza. Other images are too graphic to publish in full. Hamas admitted today it may have seized – but did not kill – the Israeli soldier whose alleged kidnapping yesterday morning left a 72-hour truce in tatters

Horror: A Palestinian relative stands in the fridge today among the mass of bodies, which have been bound up in blood-stained white sheets after Israeli strikes

Horror: A Palestinian relative stands in the fridge today among the mass of bodies, which have been bound up in blood-stained white sheets after Israeli strikes

Toll: The bodies of three children from the Al-Nirab family who were killed alongside their parents at a morgue in Gaza City this morning as fresh violence killed dozens

Toll: The bodies of three children from the Al-Nirab family who were killed alongside their parents at a morgue in Gaza City this morning as fresh violence killed dozens

Medics: Civilians and medics discuss what to do with the children's bodies on the floor of the morgue. Elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, corpses have been stored in fridges

Medics: Civilians and medics discuss what to do with the children’s bodies on the floor of the morgue. Elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, corpses have been stored in fridges

Deaths: More than 1,650 Palestinians and 66 Israelis had died in the conflict as it reached its 26th day with no sign of abating, with attacks raining down on both sides

Deaths: More than 1,650 Palestinians and 66 Israelis had died in the conflict as it reached its 26th day with no sign of abating, with attacks raining down on both sides

The group’s armed wing said it lost contact with its fighters as they ambushed advancing Israeli troops an hour before the ceasefire was due to begin yesterday in the Gaza city of Rafah.

Today’s statement came as Israel unleashed a fresh wave of air strikes which completely destroyed Gaza City’s Imam Al Shafaey mosque and damaged the historic al-Omeri mosque in the nearby city of Jabalia. 

The statement by Hamas’ Qassam Brigades said the ambush happened at 7am, not after the truce began as Israel had alleged.

The armed wing wrote: ‘We lost contact with the (Hamas) troops deployed in the ambush and assess that these troops were probably killed by enemy bombardment, including the soldier said to be missing – presuming that our troops took him prisoner during the clash.

‘The Qassam Brigades has no information as of this time about the missing soldier, his whereabouts, or the circumstances of his disappearance.’

Israel continued to bombard Gaza today as both sides traded accusations that they had breached ceasefire agreements. 

 

Left in ruins: Gaza was pounded again this morning on the 26th day of the conflict. The attacks completely destroyed the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City overnight (pictured), where residents picked over the rubble to collect scattered copies of the Quran. The Israeli military insisted the mosques it hit were concealing weapons

Left in ruins: Gaza was pounded again this morning on the 26th day of the conflict. The attacks completely destroyed the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City overnight (pictured), where residents picked over the rubble to collect scattered copies of the Quran. The Israeli military insisted the mosques it hit were concealing weapons

Destruction: A mechanical digger was dwarfed by the collapsed minaret and main building of the mosque as a fresh wave of strikes continued today in Gaza City

Destruction: A mechanical digger was dwarfed by the collapsed minaret and main building of the mosque as a fresh wave of strikes continued today in Gaza City

Tower: Residents gathered at the ruins of the mosque, which the Israeli military said was singled out for bombing because it had been used to store weapons

Tower: Residents gathered at the ruins of the mosque, which the Israeli military said was singled out for bombing because it had been used to store weapons

War of words: Damage at the Islamic University of Gaza, which Israel insisted was being used as a weapons research and manufacturing site for militants

War of words: Damage at the Islamic University of Gaza, which Israel insisted was being used as a weapons research and manufacturing site for militants

Lieutenant Hadar Goldin

Israel combats Hamas rockets using the Iron Dome defence system

 

Furore: Israel said Hamas abducted Hadar Goldin, 23 (left) during an ambush yesterday. Right: Israel combats Hamas rockets using the Iron Dome defence system

Bombs away: An Israeli artillery fires a 155mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel's border with the Palestinian enclave today

Bombs away: An Israeli artillery fires a 155mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel’s border with the Palestinian enclave today

 At least 35 Palestinians were killed early today in the bombardment and shelling in and around Rafah, where health officials said the main hospital had to be evacuated.

Elsewhere in Gaza, Palestinian officials reported more than 150 airstrikes including several against mosques and one against the Hamas-linked Islamic University in Gaza City.

The Israeli military, which said it struck 200 targets over the previous 24 hours, insisted it had attacked five mosques because they were concealing weapons.

The military added the Islamic University was being used as a research and weapons manufacturing site for Hamas.

The death toll in the 26-day conflict now stands at more than 1,650 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and at least 63 Israeli soldiers and three civilians.

The three-day ceasefire would have allowed desperately-needed aid relief to reach the 1.8.million Palestinians who live in tightly-packed communities on the Gaza Strip. 

Today the Israeli military told Palestinians who fled fighting in the 70,000-strong Gaza town of Beit Lahiya they could return, signalling its offensive in that part of the region was winding down.

‘The residents are advised to beware of explosive devices Hamas has spread across the area,’ the military added in a statement.

Strikes: The historic al-Omeri mosque in the nearby city of Jabalia was also damaged by an Israeli strike overnight, though its ancient minaret (right) remained intact

Strikes: The historic al-Omeri mosque in the nearby city of Jabalia was also damaged by an Israeli strike overnight, though its ancient minaret (right) remained intact

Rubble: Palestinian men inspect the damage at the historic al-Omeri mosque in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. The death toll stands at more than 1,650 as Israel and Hamas trade accusations over the timing of yesterday's raid, which Israel said led to the kidnapping of 23-year-old Israeli Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. He remained missing

Rubble: Palestinian men inspect the damage at the historic al-Omeri mosque in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. The death toll stands at more than 1,650 as Israel and Hamas trade accusations over the timing of yesterday’s raid, which Israel said led to the kidnapping of 23-year-old Israeli Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. He remained missing

Devastation: Survivors pick over damaged copies of the Quran at the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City

A Palestinian boy sits in a sofa outside his family's house, which witnesses said was damaged in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City

 

Devastation: Survivors pick over damaged copies of the Quran at the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City (left) while a boy sits outside his family’s house nearby

Wounds: Abdul Qadir Sahail, 11, gets his chest injury redressed in Gaza City. He was wounded three days ago in the shelling of a UN school in Jebaliya in Gaza

Wounds: Abdul Qadir Sahail, 11, gets his chest injury redressed in Gaza City. He was wounded three days ago in the shelling of a UN school in Jebaliya in Gaza

Mourning: Palestinian relatives carry the body of two month old Noor al-Saidy, killed during attacks on the Gaza Strip, during her funeral  in Rafah in southern Gaza

Mourning: Palestinian relatives carry the body of two month old Noor al-Saidy, killed during attacks on the Gaza Strip, during her funeral in Rafah in southern Gaza

Injuries: Medics said this Palestinian woman in Rafah, Gaza, was wounded by Israeli shelling which has continued over the last 24 hours as accusations flare

Injuries: Medics said this Palestinian woman in Rafah, Gaza, was wounded by Israeli shelling which has continued over the last 24 hours as accusations flare

Funeral: Palestinians prepare today to bury Mahmud Al-Neirab, who was killed along with his wife and their three children after Israeli air strikes in southern Gaza City

Funeral: Palestinians prepare today to bury Mahmud Al-Neirab, who was killed along with his wife and their three children after Israeli air strikes in southern Gaza City

Burial: A Palestinian man prepares to bury one of the five members of Mahmud Al-Neirab family, at the Beit Lahiya cemetery in the northern Gaza strip

Burial: A Palestinian man prepares to bury one of the five members of Mahmud Al-Neirab family, at the Beit Lahiya cemetery in the northern Gaza strip

Today’s statement by Hamas tells a different version of events to yesterday’s incident to that provided by Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

Israel said Palestinian gunmen stormed out of a tunnel to ambush its infantrymen in southern Rafah at 9.30am, one and a half hours after the truce began, killing two soldiers and hauling away Lieutenant Goldin.

But Hamas, though it admitted conducting an ambush, said it happened at 7am – before the start of the ceasefire – and all its men and the Israeli soldier were ‘probably’ killed in the fighting that followed.

The incident triggered a mid-morning wave of Israeli shelling in Rafah that killed 150 Palestinians and by early afternoon, Israel had officially declared an end to the truce.

Yesterday’s incident prompted the United Nations – which has also slammed Israel’s conduct – to criticise Hamas’ actions which the U.S. government described as ‘barbaric’.

 

President Obama called for the immediate return of the kidnapped soldier at the same time as Congress voted almost unanimously to pledge another $225million to restocking Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defence system.

Playtime no more: A Palestinian girl sits on a swing outside her family's home in Gaza City, which witnesses said was damaged today in an Israeli air strike

Playtime no more: A Palestinian girl sits on a swing outside her family’s home in Gaza City, which witnesses said was damaged today in an Israeli air strike

Blame game: A damaged car in Gaza City. The 72-hour truce should have allowed humanitarian aid into Gaza but it broke down in less than 72 minutes

Blame game: A damaged car in Gaza City. The 72-hour truce should have allowed humanitarian aid into Gaza but it broke down in less than 72 minutes

Tatters: Air strikes' targets included the Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza city, where a Palestinian man is pictured looking into the crater of a home

Tatters: Air strikes’ targets included the Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza city, where a Palestinian man is pictured looking into the crater of a home

Shreds: A Palestinian youth carrying tattered copies of the Quran which were recovered from the wreckage of the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City this morning

Shreds: A Palestinian youth carrying tattered copies of the Quran which were recovered from the wreckage of the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City this morning

View: Men, women and children looked out from a splintered window frame this morning after their home was damaged in what they said was an Israeli air strike

View: Men, women and children looked out from a splintered window frame this morning after their home was damaged in what they said was an Israeli air strike

One of the most advanced missile defence systems in the world, the Iron Dome has been credited by Israel’s authorities with shooting down dozens of Hamas rockets.

Just eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against providing the funding while 395 voted in favour.

 

The U.S. backs Israel in its pledge to continue searching for Hamas tunnels under the border between Israel and Gaza even when official ceasefires are declared.

Hamas, whose gunmen are dug in for battle in Gaza’s battered districts, deemed such Israeli moves potential provocations.

‘We informed the mediators who participated in arranging the humanitarian ceasefire of our agreement to cease fire against Zionist cities and settlements and that we cannot operationally cease fire against troops inside the Gaza Strip that conduct operations and move continuously,’ the Qassam Brigades said.

‘These enemy forces could easily come in contact with our deployed ambushes, which will lead to a clash.’

Demolished: Palestinians look for bodies under the rubble of a house demolished during the Israeli bombardment of Khuzaa in south eastern Gaza Strip

Demolished: Palestinians look for bodies under the rubble of a house demolished during the Israeli bombardment of Khuzaa in south eastern Gaza Strip

Pictured: Damage in Rafah. The U.S. backs Israel in its pledge to continue searching for Hamas tunnels under the border even when official ceasefires are declared

Pictured: Damage in Rafah. The U.S. backs Israel in its pledge to continue searching for Hamas tunnels under the border even when official ceasefires are declared

Remnants: A Palestinian man stands today in what was once his store, destroyed during the bombardment of Khuzaa in south eastern Gaza Strip

Remnants: A Palestinian man stands today in what was once his store, destroyed during the bombardment of Khuzaa in south eastern Gaza Strip

Damage: A woman and children pick over the wreckage of a home which police said was destroyd by an Israeli air strike at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City

Damage: A woman and children pick over the wreckage of a home which police said was destroyd by an Israeli air strike at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City

Salvage: Young Palestinian men rescue belongings from a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City as both sides trade blame over the latest wave of bloodshed

Salvage: Young Palestinian men rescue belongings from a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City as both sides trade blame over the latest wave of bloodshed

Looking out of the front door: A man and a boy inspect the damage after overnight air strikes in Gaza City. The conflict has claimed more than 1,650 Palestinian lives

Looking out of the front door: A man and a boy inspect the damage after overnight air strikes in Gaza City. The conflict has claimed more than 1,650 Palestinian lives

The group said it had launched long-range rockets early today towards the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv.

There was no word in Israel of Haifa being struck, but the military said its Iron Dome interceptor had shot down rockets over Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba. No one was hurt.

The current conflict, among the most lethal in recent decades, began after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and found dead in the West Bank. Israel accused Hamas of the kidnapping, which Hamas denied.

Israel launched a Gaza air and naval offensive on July 8 following a surge of cross-border rocket salvoes which later escalated into ground operations involving heavy tanks.

Israeli officials have long voiced concern that Palestinian guerrillas would try to capture a soldier or an Israeli civilian.

In 2011, Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a soldier snatched by Hamas five years earlier. 

Exhausted: Israeli soldiers wash themselves this morning at a deployment area on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. They were still searching for the missing soldier

Exhausted: Israeli soldiers wash themselves this morning at a deployment area on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. They were still searching for the missing soldier

War: An Israeli soldiers rides a moving tank near the border with Gaza. What began as a series of air strikes has escalated into a ground incursion over recent weeks

War: An Israeli soldiers rides a moving tank near the border with Gaza. What began as a series of air strikes has escalated into a ground incursion over recent weeks

Taking stock: An Israeli soldier carries out maintenance on his tank as troops prepare for another deployment on the border with the Gaza Strip this morning

Taking stock: An Israeli soldier carries out maintenance on his tank as troops prepare for another deployment on the border with the Gaza Strip this morning

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2713964/Israel-pounds-Gaza-leaving-mosques-ruins-Hamas-admits-kidnapped-soldier-insists-fighters-did-not-kill-him.html#ixzz39IjtKJO6 
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