US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, July 13th, 2006
BACKGROUND:Israel is using weapons supplied by the United States to target Palestinian & Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon in violation of the US Arms Export Control Act and the Geneva Conventions.
* On July 12th, Israel killed 23 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip with missiles fired from aircraft and shells fired from tanks. Israel killed 9 members of one family in a missile strike on a house near Gaza City.
* On July 12th, Israel launched a massive invasion of Lebanon.Israeli aircraft fired missiles targeting civilian infrastructure, including bridges, roads, a mosque, a community center, and the Beirut International Airport, and the Israeli navy is blockading Lebanon’s ports.Israel has killed at least 50 Lebanese civilians and injured more than 100, including entire Lebanese families of 10 and 7 people killed in the villages of Dweir and Baflay.
* On June 27th, Israel launched a massive invasion of the Gaza Strip.Israeli aircraft fired missiles targeting civilian infrastructure.In illegal acts of collective punishment, Israel demolished three key bridges, the Gaza Strip’s only electricity generation plant, and part of a university, thereby endangering Palestinian human rights to food, water, health, electricity, education, and freedom of movement.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the purpose of these measures is to “apply pressure” to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
* On June 20th, Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City.The missile missed its intended target and killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.
* On June 13th, Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in an extrajudicial assassination of two Palestinians in Gaza City.A second barrage of missiles fired shortly afterward killed nine Palestinian bystanders.
* On June 9th, Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing 8 civilians and injuring 32.At the site of the killing, Human Rights Watch found evidence of a 155mm artillery shell consistent with those fired from an Israeli M-109 Self-Propelled Artillery.
Israel’s human rights violations in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon are being committed with US weapons financed by US tax dollars:
The Israeli air force fighter squadrons are composed of Lockheed Martin F-16I Fighting Falcons and Boeing F-15Is, which fire US-manufactured AMRAAM, Sidewinder, and Sparrow missiles.From 2000-2005, the United States licensed to Israel at least $1.062 billion of spare parts, engines, and missiles for its F-15 and F-16 fighter planes.
From 2000-2005, the United States licensed to the Israeli navy more than $572 million worth of patrol boat, ship, and submarine components and spare parts, torpedoes, and sonar equipment.
From: Jennifer Loewenstein
Subject: Resuming Emails: Gideon Levy – A Black Flag
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2006 00:17:34 +0100
Last week I was in the West Bank and East Jerusalem trying to accomplish work for a research project, hence my absence. All I can say now is that what you are reading in real news reports about the IDF push into Gaza and the arrest of half of the Hamas government on the West Bank last Thursday is as terrible as these articles portray it, if not worse. The tension in the air is almost visible. The director of a West Bank NGO and respected politician (even today) says that we are on the eve of the Third Intifada. Last Wednesday when the first rumors of an IDF invasion of Ramallah hit the news, foreigners were asked to leave the city. By 5:00 pm more than 1000 youths had gathered at the Manara Square (city center) armed with rocks and sticks, and unveiled a huge Palestinian flag down the middle of the Lions’ statues monument. The IDF did not enter that day. Instead, a convoy of jeeps and army vehicles entered the city in stealth in the middle of the night arresting many of the Hamas officials including 8 ministers in the cabinet. The situation in Gaza is far worse and the Gaza Strip remains deliberately locked shut to the world. Nobody is allowed in or out except select foreign journalists, diplomats and, today, a handful of aide workers. Meanwhile the Hamas ministers with Jerusalem residency cards were stripped of their right to enter the city. Entry to Bethlehem was cut off to Palestinians from East Jerusalem as well and, according to a reliable Israeli journalist, the next to be restricted will be the entry at Qalandiya. Whatever happens, now is the time to speak up. Please do not betray the people of Palestine with silence. JL.
The difference between us and them? We kidnapped civilians and they captured a soldier, we are a state and they are a terror organization. A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization.
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 2 July 2006
A black flag hangs over the “rolling” operation in Gaza. The more the operation “rolls,” the darker the flag becomes. The “summer rains” we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria’s airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.
A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the weekend lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, and in any case to the dismay of Channel 2’s Roni Daniel and the IDF, will lead to a radical change.
Everything must be done to win Gilad Shalit’s release. What we are doing now in Gaza has nothing to do with freeing him. It is a widescale act of vengeance, the kind that the IDF and Shin Bet have wanted to conduct for some time, mostly motivated by the deep frustration that the army commanders feel about their impotence against the Qassams and the daring Palestinian guerilla raid. There’s a huge gap between the army unleashing its frustration and a clever and legitimate operation to free the kidnapped soldier.
To prevent the army from running as amok as it would like, a strong and judicious political echelon is required. But facing off against the frustrated army is Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz’s tyro regime, weak and happless. Until the weekend lull, it appeared that each step proposed by the army and Shin Bet had been immediately approved for backing. That does not bode well, not only for the chances of freeing Shalit, but also for the future management of the government, which is being revealed to be as weak as the Hamas government.
The only wise and restrained voice heard so far was that of the soldier’s father, Noam Shalit, of all people. That noble man called at what is clearly his most difficult hour, not for stridency and not for further damage done to the lives of soldiers and innocent Palestinians. Against the background of the IDF’s unrestrained actions and the arrogant bragging of the latest macho spokesmen, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant of the Southern Command and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, Shalit’s father’s voice stood out like a voice crying in the wilderness.
Sending tens of thousands of miserable inhabitants running from their homes, dozens of kilometers from where his son is supposedly hidden, and cutting off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of others, is certainly not what he meant in his understated emotional pleas. It’s a shame nobody is listening to him, of all people.
Haaretz Editorial, 30 Jun 2006
Bombing bridges that can be circumvented both by car and on foot; seizing an airport that has been in ruins for years; destroying a power station, plunging large parts of the Gaza Strip into darkness; distributing flyers suggesting that people be concerned about their fate; a menacing flight over Bashar Assad’s palace; and arresting elected Hamas officials: The government wishes to convince us that all these actions are intended only to release the soldier Gilad Shalit.
But the greater the government’s creativity in inventing tactics, the more it seems to reflect a loss of direction rather than an overall conception based on reason and common sense. On the face of it, Israel wishes to exert increasing pressure both on Hamas’ political leadership and on the Palestinian public, in order to induce it to pressure its leadership to release the soldier. At the same time, the government claims that Syria – or at least Khaled Meshal, who is living in Syria – holds the key. If so, what is the point of pressuring the local Palestinian leadership, which did not know of the planned attack and which, when it found out, demanded that the kidnappers take good care of their victim and return him?
The tactic of pressuring civilians has been tried before, and more than once. The Lebanese, for example, are very familiar with the Israeli tactic of destroying power stations and infrastructure. Entire villages in south Lebanon have been terrorized, with the inhabitants fleeing in their thousands for Beirut. But what also happens under such extreme stress is that local divisions evaporate and a strong, united leadership is forged.
In the end, Israel was forced both to negotiate with Hezbollah and to withdraw from Lebanon. Now, the government appears to be airing out its Lebanon catalogue of tactics and implementing it, as though nothing has been learned since then. One may assume that the results will be similar this time around as well.
Israel also kidnapped people from Lebanon to serve as bargaining chips in dealings with the kidnappers of Israeli soldiers. Now, it is trying out this tactic on Hamas politicians. As the prime minister said in a closed meeting: “They want prisoners released? We’ll release these detainees in exchange for Shalit.” By “these detainees,” he was referring to elected Hamas officials.
The prime minister is a graduate of a movement whose leaders were once exiled, only to return with their heads held high and in a stronger position than when they were deported. But he believes that with the Palestinians, things work differently.
As one who knows that all the Hamas activists deported by Yitzhak Rabin returned to leadership and command positions in the organization, Olmert should know that arresting leaders only strengthens them and their supporters. But this is not merely faulty reasoning; arresting people to use as bargaining chips is the act of a gang, not of a state.
The government was caught up too quickly in a whirlwind of prestige mixed with fatigue. It must return to its senses at once, be satisfied with the threats it has made, free the detained Hamas politicians and open negotiations. The issue is a soldier who must be brought home, not changing the face of the Middle East.
Wisconsin State Journal :: FRONT :: A2, Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Rafah is not a city in El Salvador
Ald. Lauren Cnare doesn’t oppose buying milk for kids in Rafah on the Gaza Strip in Palestine. She just objects to tax money given to a Madison sister city in El Salvador being used that way.
Cnare sits on the Sister Cities Grant Review subcommittee, which during the grant review process found that the Arcatao, El Salvador sister city program gave some of its money to the controversial Rafah Sister City project — looking like an end run around the City Council, which in 2004 voted against making Rafah a sister city. (Opponents raised heated objections, saying it appeared to be taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.)
“It’s not that the kids don’t deserve milk or money, they do,” says Cnare. “While these are worthwhile causes, we as a city need to be good stewards of our money and make sure these programs are following the guidelines.” The Arcatao sister city group had not returned calls by press time.
ISTHMUS, MADISON.GOV, APRIL 21, 2006, Vol. 31, No. 16, Vikki Kratz
Ald. Zach Brandon thinks some Madison sister-city groups are misusing their city funds.
“There’s no oversight,” he complains, noting that the Madison-Vilnius (Lithuania) sister donated money to Hurricane Katrina relief last year. “It’s a worthy cause, but it’s not what they were given tax dollars for. It’s not their money to do whatever they want with.”
Daina Zemliauskas-Juozevicius of the Madison-Vilnius Sister City Committee says the group has always used its $500 in city funds appropriately, providing English books to Lithuanian libraries and supporting a local folk dancing troupe. She admits it gave $50 to the Red Cross during its Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. “They were allowing us to use a meeting room for our monthly board meetings. The donation was kind of a thank you.”
Brandon is unmoved, saying, “It’s less the dollar amount. It’s more the principle.” He also complains that the Arcatao, El Salvador sister has given money to the Rafah Sister City Project. The Madison Common Council refused to name Rafah in Palestine a sister city, in part due to allegations that it’s a haven for terrorists. “The sister-city program has deviated from the original intent,” says Brandon. “It’s become more political.”
But Barbara Alvarado of the El Salvador group says it never gave money to the Rafah program; she suspects Brandon misread its annual report. “We have done joint fund-raisers with Rafah,” she says. “We do not give money to them.”
Wisconsin State Journal :: OPINION :: A8, Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Madison.com, May 3, 2006
Madison Ald. Lauren Cnare and State Journal readers can rest easy. Contrary to Melanie Conklin’s April 19 column, the Arcatao, El SalVador, sister city project did not give any city money to the Rafah sister city project.
In spite of erroneous comments made by the Sister City Oversight Committee, Arcatao only reported co-sponsoring public events with other groups, including a Passover Seder with Madison-Rafah. Proceeds were split between humanitarian projects of the two groups. No city money was used.
The claim of an “end-run” around the City Council is ludicrous. We are completely self-supporting and have raised tens of thousands of dollars for humanitarian projects, thanks to hard work from members and the backing of many good people in the Madison area.
Conklin and the State Journal have smeared our reputation at a time of soaring hunger and poverty in Rafah, when maintaining the trust of our supporters is essential. Conklin quotes Cnare as saying, “It’s not that the kids don’t deserve milk or money. They do.” We agree.
To help the people of Rafah with food and medicine, send contributions payable to MRSCP and marked “Rafah relief” to MRSCP, P.O. Box 55371, Madison, Wis. 53705.
— George Arida, Barbara Olson and Kathy Walsh, members of Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.