Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’
Having been away for a few days I have come back to a mountain of e-mails and plenty of posts to ponder.
There’s a lot to read about the flotilla and how nine people were shot, but I thought I would put down my initial impressions, which are not set in stone or fixed.
When we originally heard of the deaths connected to the flotilla the figure was said to be 20, now I believe it is about nine.
When I first heard it I was astonished I couldn’t imagine how peaceful activists would be shot. After all, they’re not violent so why should anyone wish to employ violence against them? That was my thinking.
A bit naïve, in the extreme.
Now as far as I can tell there was some six ships, Israelis wanted to inspect the cargo and informed their Captains accordingly. Five ships complied and one didn’t, the Mavi Marmara.
The Israelis then decided to board that ship, a rather difficult task in the middle of the night when the ship was moving.
So some commandos abseiled down ropes, carrying paintball guns, and sometime after, nine people were dead.
I couldn’t understand what was happening until I saw a YouTube clip.
Apparently, as each soldier reaches the deck he’s set upon by eight to 10 men with lumps of wood, iron bars and possibly baseball bats. One of the soldiers is thrown over the side of the ship.
The would-be peace activists continue attacking the soldiers with pieces of wood, metal bars and other weaponry. One soldier in the video aimed his paintball gun at them, but that didn’t do much (you can tell it’s a painball gun because of the lump above the barrel). More soldiers come down and more are attacked.
I imagine what happened is, that eventually Israeli soldiers realised that paintball guns weren’t much use against iron bars and conceivably fearing for their lives use their pistols to defend themselves.
That is my assessment which could, of course, be wrong and I am open to alternative reasoned explanations of the video clip.
It seems to me that when grown men attack armed soldiers with iron bars and lumps of wood, then you’re going to have casualties.
Likewise, if a 60-80 strong group of British football hooligans decided to attack a few French gendarmes in a similar fashion then it seems probable what the French police would do, shoot at the hooligans.
That’s what people do when they have guns, are attacked and they fear for their lives.
I wonder what Turkish troops would have done in a similar situation and how big the fatalities would have been?
Slightly more than nine, I will wager.
I don’t know what happened in the middle of the night with the flotilla, and until more information comes out I’m reserving judgement.
I hadn’t wanted to post for a few days. I am not really in the mood and I hoped that some concrete facts would emerge, eventually once the recrimination and counter recrimination had died down.
Nevertheless, I feel rather compelled to blog, to record certain attitudes I have recently seen in Europe and Britain which don’t bode well, and to think where they might lead.
Firstly, at any one point there are hundreds of conflict going on in the world, yet what we actually see in the West and how much we are told is rather rationed.
For example, we see very little about Chinese brutality against the Tibetans.
We don’t hear about how Tibet is run and who benefits, nor do we hear much in the mainstream media that would really upset China’s powerful rulers.
There are various reasons for this, the timidity of the media, the fear of consequences, not forgetting the censorship and travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese ruling elite, etc etc.
Equally, we could look at parts of Afghanistan and the aftermath of drones blowing up civilians, or old village men killed in the night, fearing for intruders but instead being shot by American special forces, etc etc.
Not forgetting Turkeys’ continued conflict with the Kurds. You would be hard put to find much coverage, of the recent bombings by the Turkish government, there is the piece in the Western media on how Turkey jails children, but overall the coverage is fairly small compared to the true nature of these conflicts.
And so on.
There’s plenty of conflicts, lots of death, in the Congo, the Sudan and elsewhere, however, they don’t hold peoples attention in the West for very long, there might be a fleeting mention but nothing significance.
And the reactions that you find in the West to death in Africa, Turkey, China, or parts of Asia is one of resignation, “almost that nothing can be done and so why bother”?
There are a few activists who valiantly carry on reminding people in the complacent West of the wider world, but it’s an uphill struggle and doesn’t really have any “political sexiness”.
So you don’t see violent reactions when Turkish planes bomb Kurdish villages, killing dozens of civilians. Nor do you see much reaction when China locks up Tibetans, or executes them, etc etc
There’s not much reaction, but should something closer to home pop-up then what you see is completely different.
An attitude of almost hysterical arm flapping takes hold.
You begin to hear demagogic language and political hyperbole which is normally reserved to describe the events in the 1930s and 1940s. Still worse, much of this inflammatory language is dare I say it, borderline racism.
You know what I’m referring to, the indignation which has recently taken on a fever pitch in the West concerning the conflict in the Middle East.
You might even sympathise with one side or the other, but what you will notice if you take the trouble, is how it almost blots out the hundreds of other conflicts which go on in the world and don’t involve Europeans or Brits.
Now I’m not accusing anyone of being Eurocentric or only being concerned with the welfare of British nationals, but the language used recently to describe events I would say is at the very least, unhelpful and much of it seems to embody unconscious racism.
By that I mean, the fevered language which is used at the moment against Israelis, would never be invoked to discuss the French, the Germans, etc.
I have seen otherwise intelligent people throw around the word “Nazi” and “Fascist” as if they had never read a history book, or understood the need to use temperate language when referring to other nations and groups of people, lest bigotry creeps in.
A red mist has descended across the eyes of many Europeans and Brits, normally considerate individuals indulge in inflammatory language towards Israelis, make statements that they wouldn’t even consider using against the Turkish or Chinese governments.
Along with that red mist has been arm flapping.
Such arm flapping is, in some respects, understandable from a very European and British perspective, after all it is their nationals which are involved, and although it is regrettably how it happens, events in the world are often portrayed as having greater significance when Brits or Europeans are involved.
However, the arm flapping and hyperbole that follow often have a more localised consequence, that Jews in Britain and Europe are more liable to be attacked.
Whilst I’m sure that none of the chattering classes or media types, who helped to heighten the political temperature in Europe and Britain, would wish there to be any attacks on Jews, that is what will probably happen.
Such red mist, arm flapping and vocalising of animosity towards Israelis invariably has a more direct consequence, physical attacks on Jews increase.
That’s what happens.
Of course, those carrying out the attacks on synagogues or Jews in the street don’t really care about human rights in the Middle East, etc, nevertheless they feed off of the anti-Israeli frenzy which is currently going on in Britain and Europe.
So the next time you hear the word “Israeli” and a red mist descends before your eyes, just before your arms start flapping, please try to think of the consequences, please try to think of how your actions and words may help someone else justify his attacks on Jews in Britain and Europe.
Still better, try to use the temperate language that you naturally favour when discussing the French, Germans, other nationalities or your own.
Think, before you open your mouth, think of the consequences.
I suppose I’m a bit like most people I can’t keep up with what’s going on in the world, so I welcomed it when Richard Millet posted on the comparison between the Dunkirk flotilla and some ships going to Gaza.
I think that the Palestinians should receive as much aid is possible. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be under the iron fist of Hamas.
I think Palestinians should get all the aid they can take, but realistically most of it will be siphoned off by Hamas and it won’t go to the most needy, rather it will be used to bolster their regime by buying favours.
I have reproduced the post from the Google cache, as the original one has been deleted:
26th May 2010
Sailing to break the siege
Palestine Our Route, Humanitarian Aid Our Load Flotilla, which consists of 9 ships, carrying 750 passengers in total including 35 MPs, numerous press members, artists, intellectuals, writers, representatives from NGOs, activists, women and children and 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid cargo. On the other hand, millions of people around the world have been watching this flotilla in their own countries, as supporters.
These ships are carrying onboard the common conscience of people of the world, prayers and wishes in all languages, playgrounds for children, medical aid supplies for the injured and the sick, construction materials for building back the schools for the children and homes of thousands who currently live in tents or in ruins. The cargo of the ships has been checked and approved by independent international organizations; the ships are certainly carrying nothing else but humanitarian aid. Israel claims that they are helping Gaza. We know that Israel only allows clothing items sold by Israeli dealers and has given nominal permissions to a few sick and injured people out of Gaza. However, basic needs of Palestinians are completely different both in terms of quality and quantity. This fact has been openly stated in numerous reports by international organizations. Aid cargo on these ships include power units to be used in order to maintain access to clean water, construction materials for building homes, children’s playgrounds as means of psychosocial rehabilitation for the children of Gaza, tools and equipments to restore the downed sewerage system of Gaza which now threatens the public health… etc.
Moreover, Israel claims that they are allowing all of the NGOs attempting to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza. It is proven by documents that this is a lie. Also the application filed by IHH received no response. This fact stated here is again based on official documents. On the other hand, UNRWA has declared that the aid cargo carried by the flotilla is very important for Gaza and much needed by the people of Palestine, stating that they hope this rightful and needed flotilla would not become subject to illegal obstructions by Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli high officials have been making strangely intense statements through which the state of panic they are currently can be sensed in regards to the flotilla. They are spreading out various claims in order to deliberately create a stressful atmosphere. They claim that the flotilla has a political agenda other than its stated aim and Israel says that they will attack the ships, arrest the passengers…etc. These statements aim at intimidating, preventing and dissuading the participants of the flotilla.
Israel again tends to stop the attempts of breaking the embargo which is a collective punishment to the people of Palestine in Gaza in a completely illegal way in international terms. However, Israel still has not been able to clean up the shame caused by arresting the activists in the previous flotilla and ramming the ships.
Current Israeli government causes itself to become isolated by declaring everyone as its enemy. In fact, it is isolating the Jewish people by doing so. It has turned Gaza into a prisoner camp and has been carrying out a genocide. This camp and genocidal acts very much resemble Hitler’s actions in history. It is an important duty for all the Jews, especially the Jews from Turkey living in Israel. We are calling out to them and to all people of Israel to stand for justice. We would like them to also know that Jewish people that live in Israel will become totally isolated from the rest of the world thanks to these Israeli policies. Because Israel waged a war against peace and humanity. Soon, they may face great difficulties and embargo because of this reason. If, one day, they turn into an embargo-stricken nation in need of humanitarian aid, everybody in this flotilla campaign will again work with the same degree of determination and passion to break the embargo that will be imposed on them.
The statements and the attitude of Israeli officials should be seen an attitude against peace. Their reaction does not comply with the requirements of logic and humanity. As long as people of Israel remain silent, they will be supporting these invasive and inhumane policies which are completely against international laws. As a matter of fact, this attitude ignited serious debates among Israeli public. The most necessary and right thing Israel will do is to allow these ships into Gaza.
It is important to underline the fact that this flotilla has got a humanitarian agenda only. This flotilla gathered its support from the people of the world and it is the voice of the common conscience of all humankind. Its legitimacy comes from the international laws and the conscience of all humankind. It is obviously and indisputably a legitimate act. The people of the world are now taking a stance against the occupation, attacks and the embargo carried out by Israel which are more dangerous than nuclear weapons for humankind and the future generations.
People are now making their voices heard and forcing their governments to care for the oppressed and the poor, for the world peace and for their own future. This is why the flotilla will ruin a lot of bad games.
This campaign has been completely organized by NGOs and these are all independent organizations. The only place they depend on is the hearts of those good people.
Israel claims that this is a campaign to support Hamas. We need to make it clear that none of those organizations is the addressee of this campaign, whether it be Hamas, PLO or any other leftist organizations. Our only addressee is the people of Palestine.
This embargo is a crime against humanity and a shameful thing. It has been happening in our lifetime. Today, we are the ones responsible to the future generations as the witnesses of this inhumane embargo and we will carry out all these humanitarian efforts to fulfill that responsibility. We believe that there is enough space for everyone in this world and we can all live together peacefully in this world.
The racism and implied threats in the highlighted text should be obvious to any thinking adult. Apparently it was removed sometime after I commented on its nauseating content on Richard Millett’s blog.
Viva Palestina is a British based charity and they should be much more careful when they publish such comments. The cause of the Palestinians has already been associated with far too much racism, it doesn’t need any more.
What people do when they have power tells you a lot about them.
Do they tried to do good? Do they prioritise social spending? Take an interest in education? Or does the cult of the gun rule?
Their preferences and attitudes have been shown in the last couple of years, no more so than their reintroduction of the death penalty.
Apparently, according to the BBC, Hamas are exercising their monopoly on state inflicted murder:
“He did not say how the men were executed but, according to the AFP news agency, Samir Zakut of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Misan said they executed by firing squad before dawn.
An employee at Shifa hospital was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the bodies of the two men, dropped off by armed men in the early hours, were riddled with bullets. “
“”It is extremely disappointing that Hamas has now returned to the use of the death penalty,” Ms Pillay in a statement.
“I call on Hamas to reconsider its position and exhibit respect for the international community’s firm rejection of the death penalty, to abolish its use in Gaza, and to fully uphold and promote the right to life,” she urged.
Ms Pillay added that the death penalty can be imposed only after fair trials in duly constituted courts, she said, was “practically impossible in current circumstances in Gaza”. “
When I think of the Netanyahu government, I think of missed opportunities and of his previous term in office which resulted in less than nothing happening.
Netanyahu has always struck me as a rather incomplete politician, seemingly smooth on the surface, but riddled with indecision, political incompetence and the need to seem like a strongman.
I suppose that better explains the recent incursions into Gaza, because I can’t think of any meaningful reason why they should occur.
Firstly, they don’t stop the missiles.
Secondly, they normally lead to wasted deaths, Palestinian civilians, Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.
Thirdly, they only achieve the goal of stirring the pot, nothing more, except possibly providing Hamas with more opportunities to fire missiles at Israeli civilians.
Fourthly, Hamas loved these nonsensical incursions as they provide plenty of propaganda and bolster support for Hamas, but don’t do much more.
All in all negative and unproductive, which seems to me to sum up Netanyahu’s achievements.
Kassam (or Qassam if you prefer) rockets are still being fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza, one has just killed an immigrant worker in Israel, the Jpost has more:
“Israel warned of a harsh response on Thursday afternoon after a Thai greenhouse worker was killed when a Kassam rocket fired by Gaza terrorists hit the Netiv Ha’asara area.
The man, in his 30s, was evacuated to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital, where doctors were forces to pronounce him dead.
A small Islamist faction calling itself Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a statement e-mailed to reporters in Gaza, the al-Qaida-inspired faction said the attack was a response to Israel’s “Judaization” of Islamic holy places in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom warned that the attack would lead to a strong reaction, and said that Hamas was ultimately responsible.
“It is severe escalation,” said Shalom. “Israel will not return to the situation of before Operation Cast Lead. The response will be particulate fierce…I hope Hamas will learn a lesson.”
The attack came on the same day as a visit to Gaza by Europe’s top diplomat, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who had just crossed into the territory when the rocket was fired.
On Wednesday, two Kassam rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip, landing not far from Sderot.
Two people suffered from shock as a result of the blast, one of them a girl. They were treated by an MDA team and evacuated to a shock treatment center.”
Who really knows what goes on in Gaza?
Who is free to tell? How does Hamas manipulate sympathies in the West?
I do not know and I will bet that neither do most people.
Hamas play the Western media’s game, portraying a particular image that they wish Westerners to see, but occasionally the façade falls
It is well worth a listen, especially the bit where Stourton reports:
“I am actually in rather an elegant hotel by the sea in Gaza City, you maybe able to hear the waves lapping on the beach, and give or take the odd shortage it just about works…..hundreds of tunnels, and we are told some are big enough to allow entire cars to be smuggled through…..I am in the heart of Gaza City in the shopping area, in front of a shop absolutely stuffed with goods, inside there are clocks, and kettles, and crockery and pretty much anything you could want. Outside there on the pavement piles of fridges, washing machines and microwave ovens…”
It strikes me that Gaza is very much like any city or society, with its rich elements and the poor.
Capitalism with all of its inherent problems, is alive and well in Gaza, but it’s not just that.
Clearly, poverty in Gaza is exacerbated by Hamas’s actions, the military conflicts, Hamas’s excessive spending on weaponry and building up their own internal security forces, to keep them in power.
The money wasted on arms cannot be spent on alleviating the real poverty that exists in Gaza.
But then again, I suspect that Hamas do not really care much about the poor, except when they can be pulled out and shown to the Western media as objects of pity. Hamas has a vested interest in portraying the worst possible picture, but can’t be absolved of blame as they have run Gaza since 2006.
On top of that, the Western correspondents in the Middle East are partly to blame, they know full well the divide between rich and poor in Gaza. They know of the elegant hotels, the shops stuffed with goods and tunnels big enough to smuggle a car in, yet without exception we hear next to nothing about them.
I wonder why?
Update 1: See the comments, but in late 2008 Hamas kicked out an Israeli journalist. “But on Sunday, Hamas officials told Amira Hass they would no longer guarantee her security and told her to leave. “
As she says:
“AMIRA HASS: I don’t know. They just got tired of me, I guess, because they insisted from the start to follow me, to escort me twenty-four hours a day, which, of course, didn’t make my work very easy, but I took it OK. They said there is a—“We want to avoid any—the slightest chance that somebody might hurt you.” And then, all of a sudden on Sunday, they told me that the circumstances have changed, and there is more tension in the region, and there are all sorts of information—there is all sorts of information that my life might be in danger. And as a principle, I don’t take such, you know, at face value what any security apparatus tells me, whether it is the Israelis, whether Arafat or Hamas. But they left no option. I mean, they were very strict about it. I have some friends in Hamas. They tried very hard to put sense into some people, but it was in vain. “
Jim over at the Daily (Maybe) points us to the recent Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, presumably with the implication that the bloodthirsty Israelis like nothing more than blindly firing missiles into Gaza.
From the news coverage, that would clearly not be the case.
Apparently numerous rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel, hoping to cause civilian casualties, as the JP reported last week:
”Since Thursday, 10 mortar shells and at least five rockets, including a Katyusha, have been fired into Israel, the most in such a short span since Operation Cast Lead ended last year.
On Saturday, three rockets hit open fields in the Sha’ar Hanegev region. No injuries or damage were reported. On Thursday night, for the first time since Cast Lead, a Katyusha rocket landed in an open field south of Ashkelon.
In response to the attack on Ashkelon, the IAF bombed a number of targets throughout the Gaza Strip, Palestinians said that three men were killed in a smuggling tunnel that was bombed along the Gaza-Egypt border.
The Kassam attacks on Saturday followed a Hamas announcement on Friday that it had managed to smuggle new types of weapons into Gaza despite the blockade.”
There you have it.
Rather than boast of how Hamas have helped Palestinians they would sooner boast about weapons. “Guns before people” should be the Hamas motto.
It is fairly clear that Hamas and its allies (along with others) would prefer the status quo, a sort of quasi conflict with Israel rather than any settlement, which would mean they would have to rule Gaza with a degree of legitimacy, competency and without military coercion.
Anyway, like Jim, I hope it doesn’t escalate for the sake of the Palestinians and Israelis, nothing is achieved by lobbing rockets into Israel, but I think the men with guns in Gaza know that.
I take an interest in the Middle East and have been following the activities of George Galloway and the convoy for Gaza. In fact, it might be several convoys as a lot of different countries have contributed.
I think the convoy idea is excellent.
I think the fact that Palestinians might get their hands on some well needed goods is an admirable goal.
After all the Palestinians in Gaza deserve our sympathies for living under Hamas rule.
Imagine that you are a Palestinian, you might even have voted for Hamas in 2006 and now you are stuck with them, permanently, with no possibility of voting them out.
You would know, as a Palestinian, that any opposition to Hamas in Gaza is largely futile as Hamas has the monopoly on the weapons of the State and is not afraid to use them. You would naturally remember that Hamas dealt violently with Fatah supporters, murdering many and throwing a few off of buildings, handcuffed. So if you were in Gaza you’d be stuck with Hamas, and if you were a teacher then you’ve probably have been attacked and scabbed on by Hamas.
Palestinians have to put up with a lot as Hamas and others senselessly provoke the Israelis, or as they place rockets in civilian areas, to incite a violent response and deliberately increase civilian casualties.
Hamas do that and much more, and our sympathies should go out to the ordinary Palestinians caught up between wanting to live an ordinary decent life and the violence which emanates from Hamas’s activities.
But what do Hamas long for? The publicity supplied by Galloway and the convoy? Or something else?
Hamas’s priority is not the welfare of the Palestinians, and in all probability the goods from the convoy will go firstly to their own supporters and be used to bolster Hamas’s position within Gaza.
Hamas is more of a “guns before butter” entity as their recent smuggling exercises show, the JP reports:
”Hamas on Friday boasted that it had managed to smuggle new types of weapons into the Gaza Strip despite the blockade, and published photographs of some of the arms it allegedly obtained.
Izz al-Din al- Kassam Brigades published photographs of newly acquired weapons including missiles with a double warhead, 107-mm caliber missiles designed to penetrate fortified structures, and a new type of armor-piercing RPG missile.
Hamas spokesman Abu Ubeida warned that the group has “thousands of fighters and good weapons capable of harming Israel.” “
Recent events set me thinking, Alan Johnston, the journalist, was held in Gaza for some 114 days.
The Western media were full of stories about him, delegates of worthy citizens pleaded for his safe return, so many column inches were expended on his plight.
Compare that with Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped from Israel’s territory during an attack in June 2006, pulled down a tunnel back into Gaza.
Gilad Shalit’s family, until now, had no confirmation if he was alive or dead. No information was forth coming from Hamas, nothing, nada, zip.
After a brokered agreement by the Egyptians and Germans a video of Gilad Shalit and some letters were exchanged for 20 female prisoners in Israel’s jails.
Gilad’s captors, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas, even made him state how wonderful their treatment of him was, here’s a cached copy of their web site.
If you followed the Western media you’d hardly see anything about the Israeli solider, kidnapped, deny the basics under the Geneva convention, held in incommunicado for three and a half years.
Hardly a sausage in the media about Gilad Shalit’s treatment, yet plenty about Gitmo or even Abu Ghraib.
Compare and contrast that with Alan Johnston’s fate. The BBC even have a whole web page devoted to him, masses of information.
Oh, how the Western media agonized about poor Alan Johnston, but Gilad Shalit’s predicament barely registers.
Oh, Western sensibilities, how fickle you are. Why don’t you question Hamas about their treatment of Shalit? Or perhaps he isn’t British so doesn’t count?