Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

Where a government sanctions doing this to its prisoners, all the while telling its people that America does not torture:

“For 160 days his only contact was with the interrogators,” said Crawford, who personally reviewed Qahtani’s interrogation records and other military documents. “Forty-eight of 54 consecutive days of 18-to-20-hour interrogations. Standing naked in front of a female agent. Subject to strip searches. And insults to his mother and sister.”

At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani “was forced to wear a woman’s bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation” and “was told that his mother and sister were whores.” With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room “and forced to perform a series of dog tricks,” the report shows.

The interrogation, portions of which have been previously described by other news organizations, including The Washington Post, was so intense that Qahtani had to be hospitalized twice at Guantanamo with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60 beats a minute and which in extreme cases can lead to heart failure and death. At one point Qahtani’s heart rate dropped to 35 beats per minute, the record shows.

Where one of its leading columnists discusses inflicting widespread fear and destruction on a civilian population (a general practice that, if not carried out by a national military force, would be referred to as “terrorism”) as a valid strategic goal to counter the acts of a terrorist group within that population:

Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims.

Of course, this is exactly where George Bush’s America has been for nearly eight full years. Friedman’s latest column might have been titled “Suck. On. This. 2.0”:

These are the leaders of the free world. I sincerely hope things are soon to change.

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Conditions in Gaza

Human Rights Watch has released a report about conditions in Gaza. An announcement about the report is here, which includes an interesting audio clip from their senior researcher at the border about the limits on their research and the information they do have.

Here is the full report, which includes this stark account of the food situation (beginning with circumstances well before the military action):

Of the 750,000 Gazans who depend on food aid from UNRWA, 94,000 are “special hardship cases” including the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly, and the very young.[59] Of the additional 265,000 Gazans who rely on the World Food Program (WFP) for food, 90,000 are “destitute cases” almost totally dependent on food.[60] International humanitarian groups that provide food aid, like Oxfam, CARE and Action Against Hunger, are unable to help because Israel has barred their personnel from entering Gaza since November 4, 2008.[61]

UNRWA’s spokesman told Human Rights Watch on January 6 that the agency’s beneficiaries last received regular food distributions on or before December 18, when UNRWA had exhausted its warehoused food supply[62]: Israel did not allow wheat supplies to enter as scheduled on December 9 and 10, and had restricted UNRWA to bringing in 20 trucks of food aid per day over the previous month, although the agency said 50 trucks were needed.[63] Due to Israeli restrictions, the last normal WFP food distribution occurred more than two months ago.

As of January 6, the UN reported that many Gazans could not get basic food items such as rice, flour and oil.[64] Bakeries had not received wheat flour since the beginning of Israel’s ground operation, and only nine out of 47 bakeries in Gaza were operating.[65] Wheat grain, essential to provide the flour, was lacking; the Karni Crossing conveyor belt could import the grain but remains closed.[66]  To exacerbate the food shortages, the lack of cash available at banks restricts Gazans’ ability to purchase food supplies.

On January 10 and 11, after resuming operations based on Israeli assurances of the security of its staff, UNRWA had distributed food to 8,763 of its 94,000 special hardship cases, as well as other deliveries, including to persons sheltering at UNRWA schools. From January 9 to 11, WFP distributed food parcels to 3,089 families, as well as other food distributions.[67]

According to OCHA, “Although some goods are being allowed into Gaza, the reduction in the number of trucks allowed in means that agencies are not receiving the amount of goods they require to respond to the needs of the population.”[68] As of January 12, “Many basic food items, including food for infants and malnourished children, are no longer available.”[69]

Might explain those oh so funny pictures of livestock being smuggled through tunnels.

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Israel FAIL

Transparency FAIL (hat-tip to joni @ Blogocrats):

The quality of this report is undoubtedly diminished by the absence of first-hand observations of the pre-existing humanitarian situation existing in Gaza, which was to be the objective of a mission undertaken by the Special Rapporteur to gather information for use in making a report to the regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) scheduled for March, 2009. This mission was aborted when the Special Rapporteur was denied entry to Israel on 14 December 2008, detained for some 15 hours in a holding cell at Ben Gurion Airport, and expelled on the next day. Such treatment of a UN expert on mission would seem to raise serious issues for the Organization as a whole, bearing on the duties of a member state to cooperate, and to deal with those carrying out UN work with appropriate dignity. It is to be hoped that the government of Israel can be persuaded to reconsider its policy of exclusion that has hampered the work of this mandate.

Strategy FAIL:

To paraphrase a comment about the British government’s management of the British Army in World War I, lions seem to be led by donkeys. If Israel has a credible ceasefire plan that could really secure Gaza, it is not apparent. If Israel has a plan that could credibly destroy and replace Hamas, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to help the Gazans and move them back towards peace, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to use US or other friendly influence productively, it not apparent.

As we have seen all too clearly from US mistakes, any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni, and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends. If there is more, it is time to make such goals public and demonstrate how they can be achieved. The question is not whether the IDF learned the tactical lessons of the fighting in 2006. It is whether Israel’s top political leadership has even minimal competence to lead them.

Military precision FAIL:

Thirty-three Palestinians, including a pregnant woman, were killed in Gaza on Sunday, Palestinian medical sources said. That brings the total killed to 898 and 3,695 injured in Gaza since the start of fighting December 27, the sources said.

Forty-five percent of the dead were women and children, the sources said.

In addition to Palestinians injured, two Egyptian children and two Egyptian police officers were also wounded by shrapnel from an Israeli air strike during an operation targeting tunnels and other infrastructure used by Hamas.

There is no sign that this is a successful or effective operation for Israel. In fact, there is no clear sign of what their goal is, so defining success is impossible.It looks like some bad people are dying, far too many innocent people are dying, and yet even if one believes the humanitarian cost and loss of innocent life could be justified by achieving some greater good, such a good does not exist in this case. This should never have been started. It’s way past time that it ended.

It should go without saying that by taking this position I completely endorse every terrorist act ever conceived or carried out by any member of Hamas or any other Palestinian person. It’s the only possible explanation for calling on Israel to stop blowing shit up.

Oh, and journalism FAIL (from 1:19 is pure gold):

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Gaza news sources

Although global media attention is focused on the rising death toll in Gaza, it is difficult to know about the accuracy and quality of the reporting. The closure of access to the area means that journalists are often relying on reports from others. Reporters Without Borders is a good place to get information about the restrictions being placed on journalists in the region.

But this might be a good time to share our resources, so here’s a question for people to answer in the comments. Where are you going to get your news about the situation in Gaza?

If you’ve found a good source to get timely and reliable updates, let the rest of us know. Maybe it’s a media site, or maybe it’s a place where reports are coming directly from citizens in the region. Share whatever you’ve got.

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Oh dear. We’re running late again – I was on the road for the past couple of days, and almost had this post ready to go but my taxi arrived early.

The Friday Freebie is where I share an online, open-access resource that I think readers might find interesting and useful. Each week, I will introduce a free resource that I think will be useful to teh angry Leftists – books, podcasts, web sites, etc. The aim is to compile a toolkit for understanding and advancing progressive ideals.

This week’s freebie is a simple one, but important given the current conflict in Gaza. Human Rights Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group for the preservation of human rights throughout the world. Their Q&A on the current hostilities is essential reading – they examine the obligations under international law for both Hamas and Israel’s military and humanitarian actions. They have also called on the United Nations Security Council to investigate the actions that led to the IDF the bombing of a UN school in Gaza.

But HRW also researches and reports on human rights violations throughout the world, making their reports publicly available. You can read a description of their research methodology, view their World Report for 2008, or access their complete list of reports, which can be filtered by issue and/or region.

Do you have a tip for future freebies? Contact me with any suggestions or requests.

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While violence continues in Iraq and we have lost another Australian soldier in Afghanistan, the conflict in Gaza is obviously where the magnitude of the death and destruction is most horrifying (assuming you don’t pay attention to things like cholera outbreaks).

While there’s plenty of commentary in the media and across all ideological dimensions of the blogosphere, I don’t have much to add about it. Most debate seems to start by looking at details and specifics yet end up being about the most grossly over-simplified themes. I don’t want to buy into it – I just hope that one of these days, people stop killing other people on both sides.

Instead, I’ll just share a couple of the links that I have found of more immediate relevance:

  • Human Rights Watch notes the risks to civilians and what both the IDF and Hamas must do to minimise them.
  • Blake Hounshell ponders what the endgame, and what the strategic purpose of the invasion, is for Israel.

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