Saturday, 24 January 2009

Amnesty International Calls on Israel to Urgently Disclose Weapons and Munitions Used in Gaza

Doctors Are Having Difficulty Treating Wounded with Unexplained Charred and Severed Limbs

Amnesty International Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:


15 year-old Ayman al-Najar at the Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. He has severe injuries, including chemical burns, after Israeli bombing in the village of Khoza'a, Gaza.

(New York) -- Saying doctors are finding new and unexplained patterns of injury among the wounded in Gaza, Amnesty International today called on the Israeli authorities to urgently disclose all weapons and munitions their forces used during military operations to prevent the loss of more lives.

"It is vital and urgent that the Israeli authorities disclose all relevant information including what weapons and munitions they used," said Donatella Rovera, who is leading Amnesty International's investigations team in Gaza. "More lives must not be lost because doctors do not know what caused their patients' injuries and what medical complications may occur. They have to be fully informed so that they can provide life-saving care."

Rovera said doctors are telling Amnesty International they are encountering new and unexplained patterns of injury among some of the Palestinians injured. "Some victims of Israeli air strikes were brought in with charred and sharply severed limbs and doctors treating them need to know what weapons were used," she said.

Dr. Subhi Skeik, head of the Surgical Department at al-Shifa Hospital, told Amnesty International delegates: “We have many cases of amputations and vascular reconstructions where patients would be expected to recover in the normal way. But to our surprise many of them died an hour or two after operation. It is dramatic.”

Rovera said the human rights organization has irrefutable evidence of the use of white phosphorous munitions in civilian areas, although the Israeli authorities previously denied using this munition.

Israel's earlier refusal to confirm that its troops had used white phosphorus meant that doctors were unable to provide correct treatment. White phosphorous particles embedded in the flesh can continue to burn, causing intense pain as the burns grow wider and deeper, and can result in irreparable damage to internal organs. It can contaminate other parts of the patient's body or even those treating the injuries.

“We noticed burns different from anything we had ever dealt with before,” one burns specialist at Gaza's al-Shifa Hospital told Amnesty International. “After some hours the burns became wider and deeper, gave off an offensive odor and then they began to smoke.”

The condition of people with burns caused by white phosphorus can deteriorate rapidly. Even those with burns that cover a relatively small area of the body – ten to fifteen percent – who would normally survive, can deteriorate and die. Only after a number of foreign doctors arrived in the Gaza Strip, days after they had seen the first casualties of white phosphorus, did local doctors learn what had caused the wounds and how to treat them.

A 16-year-old girl, Samia Salman Al-Manay'a, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp, north of Gaza City, when a phosphorous shell landed on the first floor of the house on Jan. 10. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she told Amnesty International that she was still experiencing intense pain due to the burns to her face and legs. “The pain is piercing. It's as though a fire is burning in my body. It's too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong.”

Without knowing what they were, Palestinians whose houses were hit by phosphorous shells or burning debris from them, mistakenly threw water on the flames, only for the fire to intensify. When doctors, seemingly unaware, tried to wash patients' wounds with saline solutions, they screamed in pain. And when they changed the dressings on patients' burns they were shocked to see smoke rise from the wound. When they conducted investigative operations, they extracted small pieces of felt which started to burn immediately when they were exposed to the air.

“There can be no excuse for continuing to withhold information vital to effective treatment of people wounded in Israeli attacks. Lack of cooperation by Israel is leading to needless deaths and unnecessary suffering," said Rovera. "The Israeli authorities should fulfil their obligation to ensure prompt and adequate care for the wounded by making a full disclosure of the weapons and munitions they used in Gaza and provide any other relevant information that may help medical teams."

Background

Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed between Dec. 27, 2008 and the ceasefire declared by Israel on Jan. 18, 2009, including more than 400 children and over 100 women. More than 5,300 Palestinians were injured; many will be disabled for the rest of their lives. In the same period, 13 Israelis were killed in attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, including three civilians.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Photos of Ayman al-Najar injuries.











http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20090122004&lang=e

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Israel Has Fewer Friends Than Ever, Even In America

By Rod Nordland | NEWSWEEK

Israel has never been more isolated. Its best friend, the United States, had vetoed 41 Security Council resolutions condemning Israel in the past three decades, but was about to vote for the Jan. 8 resolution denouncing the attack on Gaza when President Bush intervened, at the behest of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Still, in the face of unprecedented global criticism, the U.S. didn't dare veto, but merely abstained. Europe, never Israel's close ally, erupted in near unanimous outrage over Gaza, with fits of anti-Semitic violence in France, Sweden and Belgium.

Israel is accustomed to attacks from the left and the U.N. This time, though, Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes (using white phosphorus against civilians), and the secretary-general was unusually outspoken. After Israel bombed five U.N. compounds, Ban Ki-moon called the attack "heartbreaking … outrageous and unacceptable." His condemnation of Hamas rocket attacks came later, in milder terms.

Israel's last major military excursion, into Lebanon in 2006, aroused less anger. Its closest European ally is Britain, where Tony Blair initially refused to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon. By day two in Gaza, his Labour successors were pushing for a ceasefire; one M.P. called Israel's leaders "mass murderers." The global outcry in 2006 was tempered by disgust at Hizbullah's rocket campaign, which killed 43 in heavily populated northern Israel. This time, Hamas rockets hit a patch of sparsely populated southern Israel, killing three, while the Israeli response has been far more deadly. Some 1,300 Palestinians have been killed—compared with 500 Shiites in Lebanon.

The one region where Israel is arguably not more isolated is the Middle East. Israel's push for Arab recognition suffered a setback when Mauritania and Qatar severed relations, but four Arab summits have reached no consensus on how to respond to Gaza. Major states, led by Jordan and Egypt, want to lend no comfort to their Persian rival, Iran, the backer of Hamas. Moreover, Hamas has not emerged as a plucky hero to the Arab world, the way Hizbullah did in 2006. When the fighting quieted last week, Hamas held a "victory" parade in Gaza City, and it fizzled.

Israel has just one key friend. Could Obama, who promised the Muslim world "a new way forward" in his Inaugural Address, loosen the bond? A recent Pew poll shows 55 percent of U.S. Republicans, but only 45 percent of Democrats, approve of Israel's actions in Gaza. Given that Democrats now rule, Israel may need to worry more about the mood on Main Street than on the Arab Street.

With Christopher Dickey in Doha and Sophie Grove in London

Patrick Cockburn: In Israel, detachment from reality is now the norm

All these years on from Sabra and Chatila, has anything changed?

I was watching the superb animated documentary Waltz with Bashir about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It culminates in the massacre of some 1,700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in south Beirut by Christian militiamen introduced there by the Israeli army which observed the butchery from close range.

In the last few minutes the film switches from animation to graphic news footage showing Palestinian women screaming with grief and horror as they discover the bullet-riddled bodies of their families. Then, just behind the women, I saw myself walking with a small group of journalists who had arrived in the camp soon after the killings had stopped.

The film is about how the director, Ari Folman, who knew he was at Sabra and Chatila as an Israeli soldier, tried to discover both why he had repressed all memory of what happened to him and the degree of Israeli complicity in the massacre.

Walking out of the cinema, I realised that I had largely repressed my own memories of that ghastly day. I could not even find a clipping in old scrapbooks of the article I had written about what I had seen for the Financial Times for whom I then worked. Even now my memory is hazy and episodic, though I can clearly recall the sickly sweet smell of bodies beginning to decompose, the flies clustering around the eyes of the dead women and children, and the blood-smeared limbs and heads sticking out of banks of brown earth heaped up by bulldozers in a half-hearted attempt to bury the corpses.

Soon after seeing Waltz with Bashir I saw TV pictures of the broken bodies of the Palestinians killed by Israeli bombs and shells in Gaza during the 22-day bombardment. At first I thought that little had changed since Sabra and Chatila. Once again there were the same tired and offensive excuses that Israel was somehow not to blame. Hamas was using civilians as human shields, and in any case – this argument produced more furtively – two-thirds of people in Gaza had voted for Hamas so they deserved whatever happened to them.

But on returning to Jerusalem 10 years after I was stationed here as The Independent's correspondent between 1995 and 1999 I find that Israel has changed significantly for the worse. There is far less dissent than there used to be and such dissent is more often treated as disloyalty.

Israeli society was always introverted but these days it reminds me more than ever of the Unionists in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s or the Lebanese Christians in the 1970s. Like Israel, both were communities with a highly developed siege mentality which led them always to see themselves as victims even when they were killing other people. There were no regrets or even knowledge of what they inflicted on others and therefore any retaliation by the other side appeared as unprovoked aggression inspired by unreasoning hate.

At Sabra and Chatila the first journalist to find out about the massacre was an Israeli and he desperately tried to get it stopped. This would not happen today because Israeli journalists, along with all foreign journalists, were banned from entering Gaza before the Israeli bombardment started. This has made it far easier for the government to sell the official line about what a great success the operation has been.

Nobody believes propaganda so much as the propagandist so Israel's view of the outside world is increasingly detached from reality. One academic was quoted as saying that Arabs took all their views about was happening in Israel from what Israelis said about themselves. So if Israelis said they had won in Gaza, unlike Lebanon in 2006, Arabs would believe this and Israeli deterrence would thereby be magically restored.

Intolerance of dissent has grown and may soon get a great deal worse. Benjamin Netanyahu, who helped bury the Oslo accords with the Palestinians when he was last prime minister from 1996 to 1999, is likely to win the Israeli election on 10 February. The only issue still in doubt is the extent of the gains of the extreme right.

The views of these were on display this week as Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of the Ysrael Beitenu party, which, according to the polls will do particularly well in the election, was supporting the disqualification of two Israeli Arab parties from standing in the election. "For the first time we are examining the boundary between loyalty and disloyalty," he threatened their representatives. "We'll deal with you like we dealt with Hamas."

Robert Fisk: So far, Obama's missed the point on Gaza...

It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn't the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to "slaughtered innocents", but these were not quite the "slaughtered innocents" the Arabs had in mind.

There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership" Obama has apparently offered him, whatever "full" means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.

But for the people of the Middle East, the absence of the word "Gaza" – indeed, the word "Israel" as well – was the dark shadow over Obama's inaugural address. Didn't he care? Was he frightened? Did Obama's young speech-writer not realise that talking about black rights – why a black man's father might not have been served in a restaurant 60 years ago – would concentrate Arab minds on the fate of a people who gained the vote only three years ago but were then punished because they voted for the wrong people? It wasn't a question of the elephant in the china shop. It was the sheer amount of corpses heaped up on the floor of the china shop.

Sure, it's easy to be cynical. Arab rhetoric has something in common with Obama's clich├ęs: "hard work and honesty, courage and fair play ... loyalty and patriotism". But however much distance the new President put between himself and the vicious regime he was replacing, 9/11 still hung like a cloud over New York. We had to remember "the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke". Indeed, for Arabs, the "our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred" was pure Bush; the one reference to "terror", the old Bush and Israeli fear word, was a worrying sign that the new White House still hasn't got the message. Hence we had Obama, apparently talking about Islamist groups such as the Taliban who were "slaughtering innocents" but who "cannot outlast us". As for those in the speech who are corrupt and who "silence dissent", presumably intended to be the Iranian government, most Arabs would associate this habit with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (who also, of course, received a phone call from Obama yesterday), King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a host of other autocrats and head-choppers who are supposed to be America's friends in the Middle East.

Hanan Ashrawi got it right. The changes in the Middle East – justice for the Palestinians, security for the Palestinians as well as for the Israelis, an end to the illegal building of settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, an end to all violence, not just the Arab variety – had to be "immediate" she said, at once. But if the gentle George Mitchell's appointment was meant to answer this demand, the inaugural speech, a real "B-minus" in the Middle East, did not.

The friendly message to Muslims, "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect", simply did not address the pictures of the Gaza bloodbath at which the world has been staring in outrage. Yes, the Arabs and many other Muslim nations, and, of course, most of the world, can rejoice that the awful Bush has gone. So, too, Guantanamo. But will Bush's torturers and Rumsfeld's torturers be punished? Or quietly promoted to a job where they don't have to use water and cloths, and listen to men screaming?

Sure, give the man a chance. Maybe George Mitchell will talk to Hamas – he's just the man to try – but what will the old failures such as Denis Ross have to say, and Rahm Emanuel and, indeed, Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton? More a sermon than an Obama inaugural, even the Palestinians in Damascus spotted the absence of those two words: Palestine and Israel. So hot to touch they were, and on a freezing Washington day, Obama wasn't even wearing gloves.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-so-far-obamas-missed-the-point-on-gaza-1488632.html

Fascist Israeli Parties Gain From War

The massacre in Gaza has boosted the election prospects for Israel's two most fascist right-wing parties, especially Likud which looks like it will easily win the Feb. 10 elections. Also popular now after the slaughter is an even more radical party which is pushing for violent laws to repress Israel's Arab population.

Israel’s 22-day war in the Gaza Strip may have saved the Labor Party of Defense Minister Ehud Barak from the indignity of falling to single-digit representation in the Knesset in next month’s elections, but recent polls suggest it has also assured that the next coalition government will have no need of Labor as a partner.

Indeed, the biggest winners in the post-war polls were not the leftist Labor Party but the right wing opposition, who cheered the popular war on and lamented its ending. And while before the Gaza flareup the ruling Kadima Party and the rival Likud Party were virtually neck-and-neck, Likud now seems to be coasting to an easy victory.

But the benefit isn’t all Likud’s. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu really cashed in on their leaders staunch anti-Arab comments at a time when the nation’s Arab minority was being publicly reviled for opposing the war. His repeated calls to require Arabs to take a loyalty oath or lose their citizenship seems to have really connected with the war-time mentality of the population.

Likud is eying the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu as a coalition partner (to the point of ordering activists not to publicly criticize Lieberman). If the polls prove sound, those two and the Shas Party, which forced the new elections by abandoning the Kadima coalition amid rumors of a back-door deal with Likud, will be within a handful of seats of an unprecedentedly hawkish tripartite coalition.

Video: Clear off all the city!

Haitham Sabbah

We've seen a lot of clips that have been showing Israeli war crimes within Gaza over the last 24 days. What we didn't have chance to look at was the reaction of the occupiers of Palestine (a.k.a Zionists-Israelis) and what they were doing on the other side of the borders of Occupied Gaza?

I can't say I'm surprised by what I saw in the following videos because I know what Zionists are made of. I can only say that I was disgusted and sick to my stomach.

What you are going to see is a sample of the overwhelming majority that voted FOR the Jewish state's war crimes and supported it day after day. These warmongers form the majority of Israel too, so no wonder.

After all that they have done, after all the war crimes they have committed, they are still asking "why do they hate us?"

Well, this is why (listen carefully to the bitch in the first video, close to 58 sec):



Jewish war-crimes-dance over innocent Palestinian bodies:





And finally, a holocaust survivor protests Israeli War Crimes in Occupied Gaza:

Zionism is an incurable disease of the mind

By Zaid Nabulsi

I lost my gloves one day in a coffee shop in Geneva, and I tell you, it's difficult to ride without them when it's really cold. So as I was paying for a new pair with a credit card, the salesman, whom I knew was from Israel, tried to start some small talk by asking me what my family name means. I told him that it relates to the city of Nablus where my family is originally from.

Suddenly, the most bewildered look was plastered on his face. "Where is Nablus?" he asked, "I've never heard of it." Then, after realizing that I knew he was bullshitting me, he pretended to remember, "Ah, Shkheim you mean?"With my insistence not to learn these ugly names that the deranged Zionists have dug up from oblivion to erase our identity, that name certainly didn't ring a bell. But now it was my turn. Although I knew where he was from, I asked "And you're… from?" As he smiled while reminding me, I replicated the same look on his face moments ago. "Israel? Where is that?" Then after a brief pause, "Ah, the land of Canaan you mean. Palestine".

You see if you want to get biblical on me, there is no such thing as Israel either, and I made that clear to this smartass. Here we were all of a sudden; my family descended from a place called Shkheim, and this guy a Palestinian. God does work in mysterious ways, but I still thanked Him for His small mercies that at least my name was not Zaid Shkheimy. "Have a nice day", I told my Israeli friend. It was in fact a very cold, but still magnificently sunny day to hit the roads. The gloves warmed up my grip on the bike, but my heart was still frozen. I just cannot stand thieves who steal your gloves, or any other kind of thieves.

It was then that it finally occurred to me. Zionism is a sickness, for it takes much more than just a twisted ideology to make people think like that. It requires a profound leap of immorality of a higher order to instill this mentality in your followers. Zionism is not merely a political movement, but in its essence represents a deeply disturbed view of the world, which is a reflection of a terrible disease of the mind.

Indeed, to deny the existence of a vibrant community such as the Palestinian society in the early twentieth century and describe Palestine as "a land without a people for a people without a land" is a disease of the mind.

To assert property claims over real estate after the lapse of more than 2000 years with the same certainty of title as if one resided there yesterday is a disease of the mind.

To describe the colonial immigration to Palestine of a European people with no proven historical link to the ancient Israelites – and whose great, great recorded ancestors have never set foot there – as some kind of a "return" to that land is indicative of a perverted misunderstanding and misapplication of the verb to "return" and can only be a result of a disease of the mind.

To blame the Palestinians for being unreasonable in rejecting a partition plan in 1947 which gave the Jews, who only owned 7 percent of the land, an astonishing half of Palestine, is a disease of the mind.

To demand of the Arabs at the time to peacefully succumb to such partition, where 86 percent of the land designated for the proposed Jewish state was Palestinian-inhabited and owned land, is a disease of the mind.

To eventually grab 78 percent of Palestine through war and to force the flight of the population through deliberate massacres and then call it a war of independence is a disease of the mind.

To deny the orchestrated massacres and eradications of hundreds of Palestinian villages in 1948 and then denounce the Israeli historians who later exposed this truth as self-hating Jews is a disease of the mind.

To claim that having escaped the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Dachau is a justification for the murder, expulsion, and occupation of another guiltless people is a disease of the mind.

To legislate that any resident of Poland, Hungary, New York, Brazil, Australia, Iceland, or even Planet Mars, who happens to be blessed with a Jewish mother (yet cannot point to Palestine on the map) has a superior right to "return" and settle in Palestine to someone who has been expelled from his very own land, confined to a squalid refugee camp, and still holds the keys to his house, is a disease of the mind.

To blame God for the theft and occupation of someone else's land by claiming that it was He who had pledged this land exclusively to the Jews, and to seriously promote the myth of a land promised by the Almighty to His favorite children as an excuse for this crime, is a disease of the mind.

To milk the pockets of the world for the atrocities of the Nazis, while stubbornly refusing a simple admission of guilt, let alone compensation or repatriation, for the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people is a disease of the mind.

To keep reminding and blackmailing the world of the plight of the Jews under Hitler 70 years ago, while at the same time inflicting on the Palestinians today the same fate of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, is a disease of the mind.

To impose a collective guilt overshadowing Western civilization for the Holocaust and then to criminalize all legitimate historical debate of the nature and extent of that horrific event is a disease of the mind.

To virtually incarcerate the Palestinian people inside degrading cages, destroying their livelihoods, confiscating their lands, stealing their water and uprooting their trees, and then to condemn their legitimate resistance as terrorism is a disease of the mind.

To believe you have the right to chase the Palestinians into an Arab capital city in 1982 and to indiscriminately bombard its civilians for a relentless three months, murdering thousands of innocent people is a disease of the mind.

To encircle the civilian camps of Sabra and Chatila after evacuating the fighters and to unleash on them trained dogs (while providing them with night-illuminating flares for efficiency) and then deny culpability for the carnage is a disease of the mind.

To publicly declare a policy of breaking the bones of Palestinian stone-throwers to prevent them from lifting stones again and to enact this policy is a disease of the mind.

To have the sadistic streak of exacting vengeance on the innocent families of suicide bombers by punishing them with the dynamiting of their home is a disease of the mind.

To describe the offer of giving the Palestinians 80 percent of 22 percent of 100 percent of what is originally their own land as a "generous" offer is a disease of the mind.

To believe that you have the right to continue to humiliate the Palestinians at gun point by making them queue for hours to move between their villages, forcing mothers to give birth at check-points is a disease of the mind.

To flatten the camp of Jenin on its inhabitants and deny any wrongdoing is a delusional condition which is symptomatic of a serious disease of the mind.

To build a huge separation wall under the pretext of security, which disconnects farmers from their farms and children from their schools, while stealing even more territory as the wall freely zigzags and encroaches on Palestinian land is a disease of the mind.

To leave behind, in the last 10 days of a losing war in Lebanon, more than one million cluster bombs which have no purpose except to murder and maim unsuspecting civilians is a product of an evil disease of the mind.

To believe that the entire world is out to get you and to denounce any critic of the racist policies of the State of Israel as an anti-Semite, the latest victim being none other than peace-making Jimmy Carter, is an acute stage of mass paranoia, which is a disease of the mind.

To possess, in the midst of a non-nuclear Arab world, more than 200 nuclear warheads capable of incinerating the whole planet in addition to having the most advanced arsenal of weaponry in the world while continuing to play the role of a victim is a disease of the mind.

Yes, and for that salesman in peaceful Geneva to be so insecure as to refuse to acknowledge the name of the largest West Bank city under his country's brutal military occupation is, sadly, nothing but an infectious disease of the mind.

That's all what it is, ladies and gentlemen: Zionism is an incurable disease of the mind.

Take care, and if you ride, do it safely.

Zaid Nabulsi is a lawyer. He spent many years working for the United Nations in Geneva. He has a passion for (glorious) Harley Davidson bikes.

Cartoon.

Finkelstein to face more US teaching restrictions?



Outspoken academic Norman Finkelstein has stepped up his criticism of Israel in spite of being banned by the US freedom of speech system.

Finkelstein's sharp criticism of the Zionist occupation of the native lands of the Palestinians has left him without tenure in the DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois despite his exemplary academic record.

Following the 27 December launch of Israel's Operation Cast Lead on Gaza, universities across America have come under increasing pressure to cancel Finkelstein's fiery lectures on Tel Aviv's war on Gaza.

The outspoken academic nevertheless continues to speak his mind on the latest Israeli military action against the Gaza Strip -- which has left some 1,340 people dead and thousands of others hospitalized.

In a Thursday speech at the University of British Columbia in Canada, the American-Jewish political scientist took his criticism of the Israeli war on Gaza to a new level.

"As Israel targeted schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, UN sanctuaries, as it flattened entire neighborhoods, as it slaughtered and incinerated Gaza's defenseless Gaza civilians, Israeli commentators gloated," said Finkelstein.

Many Pals in Gaza Hospitals in Danger of Dying from Wounds

A large number of Palestinians listed in serious condition in Gaza hospitals are in danger of dying from their wounds, a group of 12 Arab-Israeli doctors said Friday.

The doctors were sent by the organization "Doctors for Human Rights" and are scheduled to return to the occupied territories on Sunday.

Dr. Agbariah, the manager of a hospital in the Arab-Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, said Friday, "Each hospital is full of wounded. There are wounded in serious condition and the treatment they are given is very basic because of the lack of medical supplies."

Dr. Agbariah added that the hospitals are not set up "to receive so many patients at the same time," adding that the high concentration will lead to fatalities.

The doctor added that the situation is worsened by the lack of reliable electricity and the high level of poverty in the strip, with trash and the carcasses of dead animals strewn about in many areas, which pose a contamination risk.

UN Schools Reopen in the Wake of Gaza War

Around 200 UN-run schools in Gaza opened their doors Saturday for the first time since Israel's largest-ever assault on the Gaza Strip ended.

Some 200,000 children attend schools run by the UN refugee agency, which operates 221 schools in the impoverished territory where more than 1,330 people, including 437 children, were killed. Many of the schools had been used as shelters for some of the 100,000 people displaced during the war, and at least three were hit by Israeli fire, prompting a wave of international criticism.

In the deadliest bombing more than 40 people were killed when an Israeli shell struck a crowd of people sheltering in a UN school in Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp on January 6.

Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said 53 UN installations had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, including more than 30 schools. But he said the agency hoped to restore a "sense of normalcy" by reopening the schools, many of which have not been completely repaired.

"UNRWA's commitment to restoring a sense of normalcy for the next generation in Gaza is a test of our humanity and we are determined to rise to the challenge," Gunness said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for those responsible for bombing UN compounds and buildings to be held accountable and accused Israel of using "excessive force."

Haykal Unveils Plot to "Dissolve" Hamas Resistance

Egyptian prominent journalist Mohamad Hassanein Haykal said that the next stage would witness an attempt to dissolve the Palestinian Resistance movement of Hamas through the "weapon" of the re-construction of the Gaza Strip following the Israeli 23-day aggression.

In a program broadcasted by Al-Jazeera, Haykal said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would play the major role in the next stage in which a status-quo would be imposed on Arabs "who didn't play any role in ending the Israeli aggression."

According to Haykal, the Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair is the "architect" of involving the NATO in the Arab region. He said that the construction loans would be given under NATO patronage, noting that there would be huge quantities of money which would be spent at the aim of bypassing the political side of the Palestinian cause.

Haykal urged Arabs to perceive the dangers that are being schemed against the region, noting that the Arab world was already witnessing very difficult times. He said that the most dangerous thing in the whole issue were the compromises that would be imposed on the region.

Meanwhile, Haykal revealed that the United States was the country which pushed Israel to end its offensive against the Gaza Strip to prevent it from spoiling the inauguration of the new US President Barack Obama. He ruled out any possibility of suing the Zionist entity over the massacres it has committed in the besieged strip before any international tribunal.

The Egyptian journalist noted that hitting Hamas was one of the goals of the Gaza war because it has been armed and it was considered an obstacle that prevented the reaching of a so-called "compromise" in the region. He said that some Arabs were urging Israel to hit the Palestinian group. However, he noted that the killing spree in Gaza was intended to serve as a "lesson" to others, pointing out that Syria was the concerned one at this stage, not Iran.

Hamas: Obama Represents No Change to Bush

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said on Thursday that US President Barack Obama does not represent a change from former President George W. Bush and is repeating his same failed policies in the Middle East.

"Obama insists that no change will happen. He is trying to move along the same path that previous US presidents have followed," Hamas' representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera television.

"It seems that Obama is trying to repeat the same mistakes that George Bush made without taking into consideration Bush's experience that resulted in the explosion of the region instead of reaching stability and peace in it."

Earlier on Thursday, Obama said an outline for a "durable ceasefire" included Hamas stopping its rocket fire and Israel completing its troop withdrawal from Gaza.
Obama has so far declined to take any position as to the Israeli offensive on Gaza that killed over 1,300 people and injured more than 5,000 others many with banned white phosphorus burns.

"I think this is an unfortunate start for President Obama in the region and the Middle East issue. And it looks like the next four years, if it continues with the same tone, will be a total failure," Hamdan said.

He added that Obama's declaration that Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel only served to hinder his envoy George Mitchell's mission. "Some were optimistic when Mitchell was nominated as a Middle East envoy but it looks like even before Obama appointed him officially, he tried to put a spoke in the wheel, maybe so that he (Mitchell) doesn't succeed," Hamdan said.

Israeli forces arrest seven children in West Bank

Seven children from Toura al-Gharbeiah village (near the West Bank city of Jenin) were arrested on Tuesday by the Israeli authorities; they are currently detained in Salim detention and interrogation center, in the northern West Bank. Two of the children are only 12 years old; two are 13; another two are aged 15; and the seventh is 17.

A Defense for Children International (DCI)-Palestine lawyer yesterday visited the children. According to information collected by the lawyer, between midnight and 4:00am on Tuesday 20 January, the Israeli intelligence, police and army entered Toura al-Gharbeiah village and arrested the seven children from their respective homes.

The children were then assembled in a public building in the village, and interrogated there. They were alleged to have thrown stones at the Wall and were intimidated into confessing. The eldest, Murad (17), was accused of possessing weapons, but he denied the allegation. Murad told the DCI-Palestine lawyer what happened on Tuesday morning.

Shortly after midnight, Murad was watching television at home when he heard noise outside. He got up to look through the window and saw four jeeps belonging to the Israeli police guards.

Less than a minute later, someone knocked and Murad opened the door. An Israeli police officer, accompanied by two soldiers, asked Murad his name and told him "Do not try to escape, the house is surrounded." He asked him to wake up other family members.

After the rest of the family was up, the soldiers took Murad outside, laid him on the ground, tied his hands behind his back with plastic cords, and blindfolded him. Murad lay on the ground for half an hour while the soldiers searched the house. Then, they walked him to the military jeep. While they were walking, a soldier started beating him on the face and hands. Murad reported that one of his fingers started to swell as a result of the beating.

They shoved him into the jeep, and drove for 20 minutes. Then Murad was taken out of the jeep and brought to a billiards room. He was still in the village. His blindfold was removed and an interrogator told him that they had found weapons in his house. He pressured Murad to confess to owning them; all the while screaming at him and threatening him. The interrogation went on for 40 minutes. Murad did not confess.

When the interrogation was over, Murad was blindfolded again, and left in the room until 9:00am. ... During that time, he heard the voices of other young detainees, including his brother Bashir (15). Some of the children were crying.

At 9:00am Murad was transferred to Salim detention and interrogation center. During the journey, a soldier was shouting at him and insulting him; he felt very scared.

After being interrogated in the billiards room in the village, the children were transferred to Salim detention and interrogation centre, near Jenin. When the DCI-Palestine lawyer met them on Wednesday, 21 January, the children had already confessed, under duress, to throwing stones at the Wall. Murad had still not confessed.

DCI-Palestine and their partners Addameer believe that such young children are particularly vulnerable to abuse in the Israeli military justice system and should be released immediately, all the more so, in light of the trivial nature of the alleged offense. The children's lawyer has requested a hearing today, Thursday 22 January, in order to ask the military judge for the release of the young children.

The children are: Morad Q. (17), Bashir Q. (15), Osaid Q. (12), Subhi A. H. (12), Amer Q. (13), Mohammad A. (13) and Emad A. (15).

At the end of December 2008, there were 342 Palestinian children held in Israeli prisons and detention/interrogation centers, including seven girls, and five administrative detainees. The December 2008 figures reveal the highest reported numbers of child detainees in 2008. In addition, on 17 January, DCI-Palestine issued a statement expressing concern that numbers of children arrested by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank has doubled in the first two weeks of January.

Gaza’s survivors (Video)

GAZA Palestinian Girl Victim of israeli crimes. Her story.

UN Expert: Compelling Evidence of Israeli War Crimes in Gaza

UN human rights expert and retired Princeton law professor Richard Falk said today that there is compelling evidence that Israel violated the laws of war by “conducting a large-scale military operation against an essentially defenseless population.”

“There needs to be an investigation carried out under independent auspices as to whether these grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions should be treated as war crimes,” the professor said, adding that he believes “that there is the prima facie case for reaching that conclusion.”

“This is the first time I know of where a civilian population has been essentially locked into the war zone, not allowed to leave it despite the dense population and the obvious risks that were entailed,” Falk pointed out, “the civilians in Gaza were denied the option of becoming a refugee.”

Professor Falk made international news when, less than two weeks before Israel began the war on the Gaza Strip, he was detained by Israeli officials for over 20 hours at a Tel Aviv airport while trying to enter the country as the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories. He was eventually expelled from the country, provoking an angry response from the United Nations and human rights groups.

Unsurprisingly, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Aharon Leshno-Yaar made no attempt to answer the charges, choosing rather to attack Professor Falk’s history of criticism for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, insisting “Professor Falk’s bias against Israel is well known.”

Israeli gunboat targets Gaza civilians

A Palestinian medical official says an Israeli gunboat off the shores of Gaza City has opened fire on Gaza, wounding at least five people.

Dr. Moaiya Hassanain said Thursday that a shell fired by the gunboat hit a house in a beachside refugee camp. He said the wounded were passersby in the street, AP reported.

Gunboats off Gaza have been firing for several days despite a cease-fire, which ended a three-week Israeli offensive, being in place.

The humanitarian situation in the besieged strip has not changed as the Gaza blockade continues.

Israeli military operations have exacerbated the already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza by destroying civilian infrastructures during the invasion. Gazans are facing harsh conditions without food, water, fuel and electricity.

The hospitals and other medical facilities suffer from severe shortages of medical supplies and electricity. The crossings into the Gaza Strip still remain closed and the humanitarian aid permitted to enter the besieged strip is below the survival levels.

Nearly 5,000 houses were destroyed and hundreds of people have become homeless in the coastal sliver, which has been under an 18-month Israeli blockade.

Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire on Sunday, to which Hamas responded positively by giving Tel Aviv a one-week ultimatum to withdraw all its forces from the area and end its 18-month blockade of the coastal enclave.