Gaza

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This is a bizarre angle on operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’, and it’s the first time I’ve heard of it! Could it be that there was another factor motivating the assault, beyond the timing of the next Israeli election!

Most wars in this generation seem to be about controlling oil reserves. Why should the IDF’s wars be any different?

source: mondediplo.com…

Israel’s War for Gaza’s Gas

EXCLUSIVE28 NOVEMBER, by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”

Moshe Ya’alon,
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs

Over the last decade, Israel has experienced a growing energy crisis. Between 2000 and 2010, Israel’s power consumption has risen by 3.5 per cent annually. With over 40 per cent of Israel’s electricity dependent on natural gas, the country has struggled to keep up with rising demand as a stable source of gas is in short supply. As of April, electricity prices rose by 9 per cent, as the state-owned Israeli Electricity Company (IEC) warned that “Israelis may soon face blackouts during this summer’s heat” – which is exactly what happened.

The two major causes of the natural gas shortage were Egypt’s repeated suspension of gas supplies to Israel due to attacks on the Sinai pipeline, and the near-depletion of Israel’s offshore Tethys Sea gas fields. By late April, a trade deal that would have continued natural gas imports from Egypt into Israel collapsed, sending the Israeli government scrambling to find alternate energy sources to meet peak electricity demands. Without a significant boost in gas production, Israel faced the prospect of debilitating fuel price hikes which would undermine the economy.

By late June, Israel was tapping into the little known Noa gas reserve in the Mediterranean off the coast of Gaza. Previously, Israel had “refrained from ordering development of the Noa field, fearing that this would lead to diplomatic problems vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority”, according to the Israeli business daily Globes. The Noa reserve, whose yield is about 1.2 billion cubic metres, “is partly under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority in the economic zone of the Gaza Strip” – but Houston-based operator *Noble Energy apparently “convinced” Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructures that their drilling would “not spill over into other parts of the reserve.”

But the Gaza Marine gas reserves – about 32km from Gaza’s coastline – are unmistakeably within Gaza’s territorial waters which extend to about 35km off the coast. Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) over the gas reserves have stalled for much of the last decade since their discovery in the late 1990s by the British Gas Group (BG Group). The main reason for the failure of negotiations was Israel’s demand that the gas should come ashore on its territory, and at below market price.

Estimated at a total of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, the market value of the reserves is about $4 billion. On 8th November 1999, the late Yasser Arafat signed a 25-year deal on behalf of the PA, granting 60 per cent rights to BG Group, 30 per cent to Consolidated Contractors Company – a Palestinian private entity linked to Arafat’s PA – and finally only 10 per cent to the PA’s Palestine Investment Fund (PIF).

At first, BG Group signed a memorandum with Egypt to sell them Gaza’s gas through an undersea pipeline in 2005. But the ’man of peace’, former Prime Minister Tony Blair – official Middle East envoy of the Quartet – intervened to pressure BG Group to instead sell the gas to Israel.

One informed British source told journalist Arthur Neslen in Tel Aviv at the time: “The UK and US, who are the major players in this deal, see it as a possible tool to improve relations between the PA and Israel. It is part of the bargaining baggage.” The gas would be piped directly onshore to Ashkelon in Israel, but up to three-quarters of the $4bn of revenue raised might not even end up in Palestinian hands at all.” The “preferred option” of the US and UK is that the gas revenues would be held in “an international bank account over which Abbas would hold sway” – effectively circumventing Hamas-controlled Gaza.

One of the first things Hamas did after winning elections was to reject the PA’s agreement with BG Group as “an act of theft”, before demanding a renegotiation of the agreed percentages to reflect its inclusion.

Operation Cast Lead launched in December 2008 was directly, though not exclusively, motivated by Israel’s concerns about the Blair-brokered gas deal. Upon assessing the prospects for accessing Gaza’s gas, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon – also Minister of Strategic Affairs and a former IDF Chief of Staff – advocated a year before Operation Cast Lead that the gas deal “threaten’s Israel national security” as long as Hamas remains in power. “With Gaza currently a radical Islamic stronghold, and the West Bank in danger of becoming the next one, Israel’s funneling a billion dollars into local or international bank accounts on behalf of the Palestinian Authority would be tantamount to Israel’s bankrolling terror against itself”, Ya’alon wrote for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. “It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”

So why Operation Pillar of Defence, and why now? On 23rd September, Israel and the PA announced the renewal of negotiations over development of Gaza’s gas fields. But Hamas, still in control of Gaza, stood in the way of these negotiations. Both the PA and Tony Blair “hope to have control of the marine area and levy its own fees and taxes” in partnership with Israel, reported Offshore-technology.

Exactly a week before Israel’s assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing, Israel’s ongoing energy crisis was in full swing, with the “cash-strapped Israel Electric Corp” – suffering from a short-fall of 1.5 billion shekels – planning to sell a total of 3 billion shekels of government-backed bonds as early as December.

Then on 12th November, the PA announced that the Palestinians would formally seek admission to the UN General Assembly as a non-member observer stateon the 29th. If granted, the status would add weight to the Palestinian bid for statehood encompassing the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem – pre-1967 territorial lines which would formally impinge on Israel’s ambitions to de facto control and unilaterally exploit Gaza’s largely untapped gas resources.

Simultaneously, Israel faced another complication from Hamas. Israeli peace negotiator Gershon Bashkin reports that a proposal he drafted for a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas was on the verge of being accepted by senior Hamas officials, including Ahmed Jabari. On the morning of the 14th – just two days after the PA’s announcement concerning its UN bid – a revised version was being assessed by Jabari and was due to be sent to Israel. Hours later, Jabari was assassinated on Netanyahu’s orders. “Senior officials in Israel knew about [Jabari’s] contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence aimed at formulating the permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the assassination”, Bashkin told Ha’aretz.

With Israel facing a race for independence from the PA, and a permanent truce with Hamas, the prospects of fully exploiting Gaza’s gas resources looked slim – unless Israel could change the political and security facts on the ground through brute force. The strike on Jabari appears to have been designed precisely to provoke a response from Hamas that would justify such military action.

Indeed, Hamas has its uses. Ya’alon’s fellow Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom once criticised Shimon Peres in a high-level Cabinet meeting back in 2001, for advocating “negotiations” with Arafat. “Between Hamas and Arafat, I prefer Hamas”, said Shalom, explaining that Arafat is a “terrorist in a diplomat’s suit, while Hamas can be hit unmercifully… there won’t be any international protests.” (Ha’aretz, 4/12/2001)

By unleashing Hamas’ rage this November, Israel was able to justify an offensive designed at least in part to begin engineering conditions conducive to its control of Gaza’s offshore gas reserves. But this is just the beginning – many analysts note that Israel is preparing the ground for a wider military assault against Iran. The tentative ceasefire announced on the 21st is, therefore, highly tenuous. If the ceasefire is breached, a military ground operation is still on the cards.

With over 160 dead in Gaza, compared to five in Israel, Operation Pillar of Defence has vindicated those in Palestine who think violence against Israel is the only option left.

But then again, perhaps that’s the idea.

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This is a good article by Scott McConnell, detailing the lies in the US media. He well illustrates how the media deliberately echoes the politically acceptable narrative. I wish he could give a more thorough explanation as to why they do it!

Father Dave

Why Americans Don’t Understand Palestine 

November 27, 2012 

Scott McConnell

If a man from Mars descended to observe Israel’s attack on the Gaza strip, he would have seen one group of humans trapped in a densely populated area, largely defenseless while a modern air force destroyed their buildings at will. He might have learned that the people in Gaza had been essentially enclosed for several years in a sort of ghetto, deprived by the Israeli navy of access to the fish in their sea, generally unable to travel or to trade with the outside world, barred by Israeli forces from much of their arable land, all the while surveyed continuously from the sky by a foe which could assassinate their leaders at will and often did. 

This Martian also might learn that the residents of Gaza—most of them descendants of refugees who had fled or been driven from Israel in 1948—had been under Israeli occupation for 46 years, and intensified closure for six, a policy described by Israeli officials as “economic warfare” and privately by American diplomats as intended to keep Gaza “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.” He might note that Gaza’s water supply is failing, as Israel blocks the entry of materials that could be used to repair and upgrade its sewage and water-treatment infrastructure. That ten percent of its children suffer from malnutrition and that cancer and birth defects are on the rise. That the fighting had started after a long standing truce had broken down after a series of tit-for-tat incidents, followed by the Israeli assassination of an Hamas leader, and the typical Hamas response of firing inaccurate rockets, which do Israel little damage. 

But our man from Mars is certainly not an American. And while empathy for the underdog is said to be an American trait, this is not true if the underdog is Palestinian. 

READ ON AT: nationalinterest.org…

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More words of wisdom from brother Uri (founder of Gush-Shalom), and even some humour this time: “Each of the two sides is now celebrating its great victory. If they organized just one joint celebration, a lot of  money could be saved.”

Of course there is really nothing to laugh about in the aftermath of this violence. The dead are being buried, the families are grieving, the hostility has increased, and, as Avnery points out, there has been a power-shift towards radicalism! What a senseless waste of human life!

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

Once And For All!

THE MANTRA of this round was Once And For All.

“We must put an end to this (the rockets, Hamas, the Palestinians, the Arabs?) Once and For All!” – this cry from the heart was heard dozens of times daily on TV from the harassed inhabitants of Israel’s battered towns and villages in the South.

It has displaced the slogan which dominated several decades: “Bang And Finish!”

It did not quite work.

THE BIG winner emerging from the cloud is Hamas.

Until this round, Hamas had a powerful presence in the Gaza Strip, but practically no international standing. The international face of the Palestinian people was Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian National Authority.

No more.

Operation Pillar of Cloud has given the Hamas mini-state in Gaza wide international recognition. (Pillar of Cloud is the official Hebrew name, though the army spokesman decreed that the English name, for foreign consumption, should be Pillar of Defense.) Heads of state and droves of other foreign dignitaries made their pilgrimage to the Strip.

First was the powerful and immensely rich Emir of Qatar, owner of Aljazeera. He was the first head of state ever to enter the Gaza strip. Then came the Egyptian prime minister, the Tunisian foreign minister, the secretary of the Arab League and the collected Arab foreign ministers (except the one from Ramallah.)

In all diplomatic deliberations, Gaza was treated as a de facto state, with a de facto government (Hamas). The Israeli media were no exception. It was clear to Israelis that any deal, to be effective, must be concluded with Hamas.

Within the Palestinian people, the standing of Hamas shot sky-high. The Gaza Strip alone, smaller than an average American county, has stood up to the mighty Israeli war machine, one of the largest and most efficient in the world. It has not succumbed. The military outcome will be at best a draw.

A draw between tiny Gaza and the powerful Israel means a victory for Gaza.

Who remembers now Ehud Barak’s proud declaration in the middle of the war: “We shall not stop until Hamas gets on its knees and begs for a cease-fire!”

WHERE DOES that leave Mahmoud Abbas? Actually, nowhere.

For a simple Palestinian, whether in Nablus, Gaza or Beirut, the contrast is glaring. Hamas is courageous, proud, upright, while Fatah is helpless, submissive and despised. Pride and honor play a central role in Arab culture.

After more than half a century of humiliation, any Palestinian who stands up against the occupation is the hero of the Arab masses, in and outside the country. Abbas is identified only with the close cooperation of his security forces with the hated Israeli occupation army. And the most important fact: Abbas has nothing to show for it.

If Abbas could at least show a major political achievement for his pains, the situation might be different. The Palestinians are a sensible people, and if Abbas had come even one step closer to Palestinian statehood, most Palestinians would probably have said: he may not be glamorous, but he delivers the goods.

But the opposite is happening.  The violent Hamas is achieving results, the non-violent Abbas is not. As a Palestinian told me: “He (Abbas) has given them (the Israelis) everything, quiet and security, and what did [or “does”] he get in return? They spit in his face!”

This round will only reinforce a basic Palestinian conviction: “Israelis understand only the language of force!” (Israelis, of course, say exactly the same about the Palestinians.)

If at least the US had allowed Abbas to achieve a UN resolution recognizing Palestine as a non-member state, he might have held his own against Hamas. But the Israeli government is determined to prevent this by all available means. Barack Obama’s decision, even after re-election, to block the Palestinian effort is a direct support for Hamas and a slap in the face of the “moderates”. Hillary Clinton’s perfunctory visit to Ramallah this week was seen in this context.

Looked at from the outside, this looks like sheer lunacy. Why undermine the “moderates” who want and are able to make peace? Why elevate the “extremists”, who are opposed to peace?

The answer is openly expressed by Avigdor Lieberman, now Netanyahu’s official political No. 2: he wants to destroy Abbas in order to annex the West Bank and clear the way for the settlers. 

AFTER HAMAS, the big winner is Mohamed Morsi.

This is an almost incredible tale. When Morsi was elected as the president of Egypt, official Israel was in hysteria. How terrible! The Islamist extremists have taken over the most important Arab country! Our peace treaty with our largest neighbor is going down the drain!

US reactions were almost the same.

And now – less than four months later – we hang on every word Morsi utters. He is the man who has put an end to the mutual killing and destruction! He is the great peacemaker! He is the only person who can mediate between Israel and Hamas! He must guarantee the cease-fire agreement!

Can it be? Can this be the same Morsi? The same Muslim Brotherhood?

The 61 year old Morsi (the full name is Mohamed Morsi Isa al-Ayyad. Isa being the Arab form of Jesus, who is regarded in Islam as a prophet) is a complete novice on the world stage. Yet at this moment, all the world’s leaders rely on him.

When I wholeheartedly welcomed the Arab Spring, I had people like him in mind. Now almost all the Israeli commentators, ex-generals and politicians, who uttered dire warnings at the time, are lauding his success in achieving a cease-fire.

THROUGHOUT THE operation I did what I always do in such situations: I switched constantly between Israeli TV and Aljazeera. Sometimes, when my thoughts wander, I am unsure for a moment which of the two I am looking at.

Women weeping, wounded being carried away, homes in shambles, children’s shoes strewn around, families packing and fleeing. Here and there. Mirror images. Though, of course, Palestinian casualties were 30  times higher than the Israeli ones – partly because of the incredible success of the Iron Dome interception missiles and home shelters, while the Palestinians were practically defenseless.

On Wednesday I was invited to air my views on Israel’s Channel 2, the most popular (and patriotic) Israeli outlet. The invitation was of course withdrawn at the last moment. Had I been on air, I would have posed to my compatriots one simple question:

Was It Worthwhile?

All the suffering, the killed, the injured, the destruction, the hours and days of terror, the children in trauma?

And, I might add, the endless TV coverage around the clock, with legions of ex-generals appearing on the screen and declaiming the message sheet of the prime minister’s office. And the blood-curdling threats of politicians and other nincompoops, including the son of Ariel Sharon, who proposed flattening neighborhoods in Gaza City, or even better, the whole Strip.

Now that it is over, we are almost exactly where we were before. The operation, commonly referred to in Israel as “another round”, was indeed round – leading nowhere than to where it started.

Hamas will be firmly in control of the Gaza Strip, if not more firmly. The Gazans will hate Israel even more than before. Many of the inhabitants of the West Bank, who throughout the war came out in their thousands in demonstrations for Hamas, will vote in even greater numbers for Hamas in the next elections. Israeli voters will vote in two months as they intended to vote anyhow, before the whole thing started.

Each of the two sides is now celebrating its great victory. If they organized just one joint celebration, a lot of money could be saved.

WHAT ARE the political conclusions?

The most obvious one is: talk with Hamas. Directly. Face to face.

Yitzhak Rabin once told me how he came to the conclusion that he must talk with the PLO: after years of opposing  it, he realized that they were the only force that counted. “So it was ridiculous to talk with them through intermediaries.” 

The same is now true for Hamas. They are there. They will not go away. It is ridiculous for the Israeli negotiators to sit in one room at the Egyptian intelligence service HQ near Cairo, while the Hamas negotiators sit in another room, just a few meters away, with the courteous Egyptians going to and fro.

Concurrently, activate the effort towards peace. Seriously.

Save Abbas. As of now, he has no replacement. Give him an immediate victory to balance the Hamas achievements. Vote for the Palestinian application for statehood in the UN General Assembly.

Move towards peace with the entire Palestinian people, including Fatah and Hamas – so we can really put an end to the violence,

ONCE AND FOR ALL!

More Avnery articles online: zope.gush-shalom.org……

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Could the latest strike on Gaza lead to a new unity between the Palestinian factions? This is surely NOT what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was intending!

Keeping the Palestinians divided, and only dialoguing with the ‘leader’ who no longer has any democratic mandate (ie. Abbas) seems to have been the heart of his government’s policy since he came to power! Perhaps Mr Netanyahu did not foresee that this latest round of violence might unite the different Palestinian factions against their common oppressor?

I’m not sure. Netanyahu is no fool, and if he really wanted to keep the factions divided, why did he immediately follow-up the ceasefire on Gaza with a series of new arrests across the West Bank – a move that almost seems designed to remind us that his government is at war with all Palestinians.

Certainly Al-Hayya’s claim, that “Hamas and Fatah are one hand, one rifle and one rocket,” should be a cause of deep concern to all of us who are praying for a peaceful end to the Occupation. Even so, as all efforts at negotiation continue to prove fruitless, how long can we expect the Palestinian people not to strike back?

My hope is that the Palestinian factions will unite around Mr Abbas’ UN bid. That route certainly holds out the possibility of a peaceful transition to a new Israel/Palestine. All the other options are looking increasingly bleak!

Father Dave

Fatah, Hamas urge unity at Gaza rallies

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — In a rare display of unity, leaders of Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian factions on Thursday celebrated the end of the war on Gaza and called for parties to end the split with the West Bank.

Thousands took to the streets of Gaza in joint political rallies marking an end to eight days of deadly fighting, and Fatah supporters marched calling for their faction to end its rivalry with Gaza rulers Hamas.

Fatah leader Nabil Shaath, who came to Gaza on Sunday during the Israeli shelling, told crowds in Gaza City that Israel had failed to isolate them from the West Bank.

“How glad I feel when yellow, green, red and black flags fly together, united by the Palestinian flag. We must all unite and work together,” he said, referring to the motifs of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and leftist factions.

“Today our unity materialised, Hamas and Fatah are one hand, one rifle and one rocket,” senior Hamas leader Khalil Al-Hayya told several thousand people in the main square of Gaza.

Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad al-Hindi said factions should unify behind the resistance movement, hinting at the enduring divisions with Fatah, who espouse non-violent and diplomatic measures against Israel’s occupation.

“We have reached a dead end in the peace process and now we are in the trenches of jihad and resistance,” he told the Gaza City rally.

But the Jihad leader too echoed the conciliatory note of the occasion. “Nothing will strengthen the determination of Palestinians more than the Palestinian people themselves, with all of their factions,” al-Hindi said.

UN bid

Hamas’s Gaza chief and prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, called Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas to brief him on the situation, the official news agency of Abbas’ government said Thursday.

Al-Hindi and Hamas deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament also called Abbas, Wafa reported.

Wafa said all three confirmed their support the president’s bid for Palestinian status as a non-member state at the UN, due for a vote next week.

Haniyeh’s pledge of support for the bid was quickly refuted by Gaza government spokesman Taher al-Nunu, describing Wafa’s report as “completely untrue.”

Haniyeh’s office said Abbas called the premier and “congratulated him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa al-Barghouthi, who also came to Gaza during the Israeli bombardment, held a meeting of national and Islamic factions in Gaza City on Thursday.

The meeting, also attended by the head of the Palestinian Arab Front Jamil Shahareh, stressed the importance of completing the “Gaza’s victory” by finally realizing the stalled reconciliation deal.

Reconciliation ‘most important step’ for UN

The Fatah movement held rallies across the Gaza Strip, including a march by mayors and Fatah personalities in Gaza City.

“All Palestinians should be united in order to fight the Israeli occupation,” senior Fatah official Yahya Rabah told Ma’an.

Amal Hamad, a member of the Fatah central committee, said implementing national reconciliation was the most important step for the success of the UN bid.

The Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal between his faction and Hamas has repeatedly stalled, after they violently split Palestine into separate governments in 2007.

Fatah MP Faysal Abu Shahla called on Egyptian authorities to hold a meeting for all Palestinian factions to end the division at Thursday’s rally.

Israel agreed a truce deal with Hamas and other Gaza factions on Wednesday with Egyptian mediation.

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Sonja Karkar, editor of Australians for Palestine writes:  

So, there is a ceasefire now, but no one should breathe a sigh of relief for too long nor should we forget that the fury Israel wrought over the last 8 days has destroyed many people’s lives – and not for the first time either.  

Gaza is still under a tight, suffocating siege and Israel still has drones flying over the skies in Gaza.  We must remember that Israel’s latest attack is part of an ongoing campaign to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from their homeland whether in Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem.  Any ceasefire is fragile as we know only too well and while there might be respite now, the Palestinians in Gaza remain on high alert.  In the meantime, the lives which have been tragically lost and irreparably damaged are the evidence of war crimes for which Israel needs to be held to account.  

There simply cannot be claims of hundreds of accidents to smooth away Israel’s culpability and it is past time that the international community calls Israel out on its criminal acts.  If we fail in that, then Israel will simply continue the same pattern of behaviour, smug in the knowledge that it will be protected by its fawning friends.  One can only imagine the outcry if these people had to endure the terror and oppression that is the lot of Palestinians.  There is NO justification for what Israel has done or continues to do and for this reason the protests will go on around the world until Israel ends the siege and occupation and fully respects Palestinian human rights.  That means that we must also demand from our own leaders that they hold Israel accountable for its crimes.  

The utter silence of the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) – to which Australia is a signatory – regarding the serious violations and war crimes perpetrated against Palestinian civilians in the OPT, calls into question the respect of the Parties for Article 33 of the Convention which states that “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed . . . Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited” – a provision which obliges the Parties to call for compliance when it is being breached.  The Parties response to Israel’s violations against Gaza was abysmal.  There was not even regret for the Palestinian lives lost, not even the children.  

Perhaps mentioning that would have required condemnation of Israel for its crimes.  As American journalist Chris Hedges said “The refusal of our political leaders  . . . to speak out for the rule of law and fundamental human rights exposes our cowardice and our hypocrisy.  This blind defence of Israeli brutality towards the Palestinians is a betrayal of the memory of all those killed in other genocides in other time . . . When you have the capacity to halt genocide and you do not, no matter who carries out that genocide or who it is directed against, you are culpable.”  Take heed Australia!  

Sonja Karkar

Sonja Karkar

Sonja Karkar

Gaza after the ceasefire

by Stuart Littlewood

Sabbah report

21 November 2012

Oppression will resume, the land-grab will continue, more rewards for Israel will flow… And it will be business as usual for Western leaders and their Zionist friends

In 2009, when Israel’s 22-day blitzkrieg was over, nearly 1,400 Palestinians had been wiped off the planet of whom four-fifths were civilians and 350 children, and over 5,000 wounded.

Israel had destroyed or damaged 58,000 homes, 280 schools, 1,500 factories, water and sewage installations, and 80 per cent of agricultural crops. The cost to Gaza’s civilian infrastructure was estimated at 660 to 900 million US dollars while the total economic cost was put at 3 to 3.5 billion dollars.

It was really a non-war, said Norman Finkelstein in his book This Time We Went Too Far, and testimonies of Israeli soldiers included remarks like: “There was nothing there … nothing moved”; “No real resistance”; “Everyone was disappointed about not engaging anyone”.

Towards the end of the invasion the then Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, said: “Hamas now understands that when you fire on Israel’s citizens it responds by going wild – and this is a very good thing.” She later waxed proud of how Israel had “demonstrated real hooliganism” and said she would happily repeat her decisions because they were meant to restore Israel’s deterrence and had done so.

And after that slaughter binge in which Gaza has been reduced to rubble and its civilian population devastated, what did the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers do?

They sat down to dinner in Brussels with Livni.

This must have come as a slap in the face for the millions of justice-loving EU citizens who were expecting to see Ms Livni arrested for crimes against humanity the minute she set foot outside Israel.

But no. All was forgiven. Normal poodle service was resumed. Israel’s admirers in Europe queued up to pay with our tax money for the humanitarian mess and the economic wreckage, and to offer Israel the services of EU member states in helping to turn the screw yet again on the people Israel had terrorized, abused and dispossessed for 60 years.

Never mind that the EU had spent billions over the years on infrastructure projects in Gaza, only to see them wantonly smashed by Israel’s military.

The EU was especially eager to help with stopping the “smuggling” of arms to the Palestinians, who by then were crushed and stripped of everything amid the ruins of their homes, their wrecked utilities, their shattered hospitals and schools, and faced with a public health disaster. That’s what happens when people have only AK47s, RPGs and ineffective rockets to fend off a ruthless occupying force bristling with all the armour and high-tech weaponry of modern warfare.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that a people under illegal occupation and siege are entitled in international law to take up arms against their oppressor. Israel’s relentless assaults to annihilate Gaza’s civil society was unlawful and a war crime then, and is today. Who are we to interfere and deny their right of self-defence?

Nevertheless six European leaders – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and our very own British Prime Minister Gordon Brown – pledged ships, troops and technology for anti-smuggling operations. “We will do everything that we can to prevent the arms trafficking that is at the root of some of the problems that have caused the conflict,” Mr Brown said, offering the services of the Royal Navy.

But he couldn’t possibly send navy ships to protect British flag vessels carrying medics and humanitarian supplies from lethal acts of piracy by Israeli gunboats.

He wouldn’t send ships to ensure the freedom of the seas, or even the freedom of their own territorial waters for Gaza’s fishermen.

He wouldn’t send ships to shoo away Israeli gunboats shelling Gaza’s beaches.

But he’d happily send ships to make sure Palestinians have no weapons with which to exercise their right of self-defence.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that a people under illegal occupation and siege are entitled in international law to take up arms against their oppressor. Israel’s relentless assaults to annihilate Gaza’s civil society was unlawful and a war crime then, and is today.

But I was forgetting – our political élite know which side their bread is buttered.

Meanwhile, in the British Parliament Sir Gerald Kaufman was congratulating Foreign Secretary David Miliband on steering Resolution 1860 through the Security Council of the United Nations. Its aim, apart from a durable ceasefire, was to ensure the sustained reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. The US abstained.

“May I ask him what the international reaction would be if Hamas had slaughtered nearly 900 Israelis [the blitz was only 13 days old at that point] and subjected nearly 1.5 million Israelis to degradation and deprivation?” enquired the feisty Jewish MP.

Is it not an incontrovertible fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass-murderers and war criminals? Yes. And they bring shame on the Jewish people whose Star of David they use as a flag in Gaza, but whose ethos and morals go completely against what this Israeli government are doing.

I’m itching to hear what Kaufman says about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in regard to this repetition of the Cast Lead murder spree.

Miliband, apparently in all seriousness, said:

It is important to point out that people talk about Hamas being the representatives of Palestinians, without recognizing that there is an elected leader of all the Palestinians – a president of the Palestinian Authority, elected in 2004 by all Palestinians to represent them. A further president will be elected this year or next year. That is a vital part of the issue, and we should not fall into the trap of allowing Hamas’s leadership in Gaza to claim that it represents all the Palestinians.

But the 2006 general election established precisely that! What Miliband omitted to say was that Mahmoud Abbas “won” the presidency in January 2005 in a dodgy and lopsided contest – let’s not dignify it with the word “election” – in which Israel seriously interfered to obstruct other candidates. Abbass’s term ran out in 2009 but he’s still there. He is now regarded as having no legitimacy and no popular mandate. However, he continues to be propped up by those mighty champions of democracy, the US, Israel and Britain.

And what help has this loser been in the crisis? He clearly feels he doesn’t represent the Palestinians of Gaza or he’d be fighting tooth and nail for them instead of skulking in the shadows.

I close in despair. This message has just arrived from MAP (Medical Aid for Palestine): “Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai has said openly that “the goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages”. Palestinians in Gaza have been living under blockade for over five years and have still not recovered from the last war. Health facilities were severely overstretched before the current bombardment and hospitals are facing critical shortages, with 40 per cent of essential medicines and 65 per cent of medical disposables at zero stock.”

What despicable world leaders we are cursed with.

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.

source: sabbah.biz…