JULY 2006


Advertisement recently in Ha'aretz , Israel.
It is a soldier's right and duty to refuse to shed innocent blood.   We, combat soldiers and officers of the Israeli Defence Forces, have served long years on various fronts and lost comrades in the struggle to defend our homeland. The security of Israel and the values of the IDF were and are our guiding principles. We call upon IDF regular and reserve troops - pilots, sailors and artillerymen - to refuse to shoot on Gaza. The IDF shooting on Gaza has already caused the death of dozens of innocent civilians, including little children. It has achieved nothing but intensification of the shooting of Qassam rockets on Sderot and stoking the fires of hatred against Israel. Shooting into the world's most thickly populated area is a war crime which contravenes the spirit of the IDF and harms the security of the state. We call upon the soldiers of the IDF to refuse to break the State of Israel's moral spine. True security would never be achieved by the killing of children. It is the right and duty of every soldiers in the IDF to refuse to shed innocent blood. Ometz Le'sarev - Courage to Refuse: Refusing - for the sake of Israel

Gilad Shalit, Prisoner of War
TOI-Billboard, June 26, 2006
The Other Israel's email updates

Listening this evening to Israel's Second Channel TV news, one starts to doubt whether captured soldier Gil'ad Shalit stands much chance of being released soon. PM Olmert declared firmly that the Israeli government is not willing to think even about any prisoners exchange and that drastic military measures are being prepared.    It's perhaps remarkable that the next speaker on same TV is senior Hamas member Razi Khamad, spokesperson for the Palestinian government, who speaks good Hebrew. He starts with reassuring the soldier's mother that her son is alive and being taken care of well. Following item: the Palestinian parents of prisoners, waving their sons' pictures.   What is apparently worrying our authorities especially is that the June 25 attack was not something which could be called "a terrorist attack"; it was an attack on an IDF unit and army representatives spoke of the professionality of this enemy operation. This is not going to end the already sky-high escalation in the Gaza Strip, which until yesterday costed a lot of (Palestinian) civilian lives and doesn't allow the people in Sderot a day without Qassams. Especially after such a successful Palestinian military operation the Israeli army will want to increase its deterrence.   Or could the scales be turned by such people as Rabbi Menachem Froman, in a long-time politico-religious dialogue with Hamas Muslim leaders, and bereaved father Yitzchak Frankenthal*, whose soldier son Arik was kidnapped and killed in 1994? The two of them declared on the radio - not only that the government should talk to Hamas, but that they themselves are ready to mediate on behalf of the release of Gil'ad Shalit. Also Arab Israeli Knesset Member Ibrahim Tzartzour (Islamic Movement) requested permission of the government to enter Gaza for this purpose.   Yesterday Gush Shalom sent out a press release and called upon the government to behave as is usual in the case of  prisoners of war - and not treat it as a kidnapping - and achieve his release by negotiating with the Palestinian elected government.   *The latest news is that Yitzchak Frankental has offered the Hamas: Take me instead, and let the boy go.

Outpost attack almost legitimate

It may not be nice to say, but world will have hard time condemning Kerem Shalom attack
Ofer Shelah

Palestinian sources call Sunday morning's attack on an IDF outpost near the Gaza border "Operation Fading Illusion". The Palestinian propagandists who coined the phrase had something else in mind, but Israel would also be wise to take note of the name: In many ways it describes the reality that will be created here after all the illusions the government has been selling us these past three years – realignment, separation fence, us here – them there – are put into place.

This is what post-West Bank withdrawal terror attacks will look like if there is no one on the other side with any true weight, and if all Palestinians do not have a clear interest in maintaining quiet: Long-range weapons like Qassams, occasional, well-planned operations with significant impact.

Consensus attack

The attack on Kerem Shalom was conducted from deep inside the Palestinian consensus. And it may not be nice to say, but the world will have a hard time condemning it. It was an attack on soldiers, it took courage. It was not a cowardly act.

As much as it may disgust us, it is seen – against the recent, successive reports of civilian deaths as a result of IDF artillery – as almost legitimate. This significantly reduces the options available to Israel's government, the IDF and the media when responding to the attack.

This is what we can expect, even if we assassinate the entire Hamas upper echelon and attack Gaza without differentiating between soldiers and civilians. We have no control over areas we don't have forces in (and even in areas where we do have forces, we don’t really have control, as we discovered over all these years in south Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank).

South Lebanon is a good example: A guerilla opposition developed, it attacked soldiers, and over time set the rules of the game with regard to Israel. Don't be surprised if the attack on Kerem Shalom wasn't conducted by Jihad International, and they are trying to hint, but rather by knowledge and a mentality learned from Hizbullah.

Easy target

A border institutes routine. Outposts on the other side are immovable targets. With a border, there is time to plan and prepare. Run-of-the-mill patrols, routine, the daily burnout and every eventless day that passes turn this huge, immobile army into an easy target.

This happened when Israel occupied Gaza (remember the attacks on the Merkava tanks), but it will really come about if Israel leaves the West Bank unilaterally.

The decision if this is better or worse than the situation we've got at the moment is another question. But it is important to understand that no withdrawal and no fence will give total security. The only thing that will create security is a Palestinian interest for quiet, and a strong force that can enforce it.

(06.25.06, 23:13)

Palestinian university president comes out against boycott of Israeli academics.
Associated Press

Israeli academics threatened by boycotts have received support from an unlikely source: the Palestinian president of Al-Quds University.

"If we are to look at Israeli society, it is within the academic community that we've had the most progressive pro-peace views and views that have come out in favor of seeing us as equals," Sari Nusseibeh told The Associated Press. "If you want to punish any sector, this is the last one to approach."

Nusseibeh acknowledged, however, that his is a minority viewpoint among his colleagues.

Britain's main academic association recently called on its members to consider boycotting Israeli professors, and a top Canadian labor union voted in favor of divestment from Israel.

The 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education in Britain, censuring Israel for "apartheid" policies.

"It just reminds people that somehow Israel is always singled out, that we're the case study," David Newman, a professor of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva, said.

Israel has been targeted by numerous boycotts throughout its history, ranging from weapons embargoes to product blacklisting to the blocking of Israeli web sites.

But the latest resolution by the British association, encouraging a boycott of Israeli academics, touched a raw nerve in the Jewish state.

"I wonder why not China, why not Chile, why not Burma, where the human rights issue is far, far worse than here," Newman said.

Responses in Haaretz:
Howard, USA- Nusseibeh has consistently opposed boycotting Israeli academia for exactly this reason. He publicly opposed the original boycott by the AUT as well.
While I don`t agree with some things the man says/does, the fact that he continues to champion a moderate and hatred-free position in this area earned my respect, and leads me to always give his views a hearing.
Mark,London - Sari Nusseibeh has consistently been a voice of reason and compromise, something distressingly rare on the Palestinian side (and to be honest, to a lesser extent on the Israeli side). Academics everywhere, including the UK and US, should be strengthening ties to counterparts in Al Quds Univ. but i fear the Palestinians view Nusseibeh (from a very distinguished family in recent Pal. history) as a lone wolf, or worse. Sad.
Gaza Boy,London - (Newman),This fool guy said why not China?
China is on the up and most of the world factories depends on chinese products and he wants china education to be boycotted? is this guy normal or what? Chinese born clever, they don`t even need to be educated because they are already intelligent and on the up very quickly.
Green - Mr Nusseibeh, You are a smart man and you look towards a better future than the awful present that ties the Palestinian society. Israeli knowhow and R&D is just one step away. Use it, profit from it and build a healthy society based on progress and not on destruction. It`s never too late.
Sam,Newhaven - "..why not burma, where human rights issue is far worse.."
Well, Newman, Burma is an independent country with a brutal dictatorship, that commits its crimes with no complicity from the West. Israel, on the other hand, is an invented state which would not last a day without the billions of dollars of American aid. Therefore the horrors that you commit are really our (American) horrors.
Don`t you think it`s a little absurd to defend your violations of human rights by pointing out even worse violations committed by others? What are you trying to say -- if Burma does it we should be allowed to do it also? Why not go all the way, and say -- if Hitler did it to us why can`t we do it to the Palestinians?
The day will come when you finally realize the absurdity of taking land from one people to give it to a newly arrived people. As the United States finally recognized indigenous rights, as South Africa finally gave the Blacks the right to vote, so too you will have to give way.
bbl - The man is right.It doesn`t make him a traitor to state that the Israeli academic community is one of the more supportive elements of Palestinian aspirations in Israeli society.
Any idiot could figure that out. The British academic boycott targeted academic institutions because that`s the only power that British academics can wield.
On the one hand, it`s nice that they are doing what they think will lead to a better world, but, on the other hand it was suprisingly stupid in that it cuts off ties to the very Israelis that can talk both: to the Israelis; and of the disasterous situation the Palestinians have landed.
Samed, Kansas - Reasons for boycott.1. 40 year illegal occupation. 2. torture of prisoners (including children). 3. killing 700 children in 4 years
Emily, Geelong - NATFHE boycotters no better than their soccer thug counterparts
Omid the Persian, London - This boycott will fail in isolating Israeli academics and hindering their relentless attempts to contribute to the progress and enhancement of our quality of life in every respect. It is IMMORAL since it punishes those who as Nusseibeh says are in fact quite sympathetic to the "palestinian cause", and it stymies development and knowledge creation. It is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE since Israeli academics can always head to the States or even stay in Israel, where the quality and scope for research and development is much more substantial.
This boycott is an attempt to appease a nexus of far-leftists and arabs and pakistani islamists who have strong organizations and societies in unis across the country. It is a shame for the so called Union of Higher Education Teachers to acquiese to such hypocrites.

Israel: Investigate Gaza Beach Killings

Artillery Strike Probably Killed Palestinian Family

Update: More Evidence on Beach Killings Implicates IDF, June 15, 2006  
(Gaza City, June 13, 2006) – Israel should immediately launch an independent, impartial investigation of a June 9 Israeli artillery strike on a beach north of Gaza City, Human Rights Watch said today. Seven Palestinian civilians picnicking on the beach were killed that day and dozens of others were wounded.  

Human Rights Watch researchers have visited the site to examine the fatal crater and have interviewed victims, witnesses, security and medical staff.  
“There has been much speculation about the cause of the beach killings, but the evidence we have gathered strongly suggests Israeli artillery fire was to blame,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and Africa division at Human Rights Watch. “It is crucial that an independent investigative team, with the necessary expertise, verify the facts in a transparent manner.”  
The independent investigation should involve the use of external, international experts. Human Rights Watch called on the Palestinian Authority to permit such an investigation, including allowing access to the site by the investigative team. Israel has carried out an internal army probe into the incident and released its findings this evening, saying the explosion was not caused by an Israeli artillery shell. However, such internal investigations by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have generally fallen short of international standards for thorough and impartial investigations and have rarely uncovered the truth or held to account the perpetrators of violations, as documented in a 2005 Human Rights Watch report, Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military’s Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing.  
The head of the IDF’s southern command, General Yoav Galant, has said that IDF forces fired six artillery shells at an area described as approximately 250 meters away from the fatal incident between 4:32 p.m. and 4:51 p.m. on Friday, June 9. Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the allegations that the civilians were killed by artillery shells fired by the IDF.  
The attack at the beach comes amidst an intensified Israeli response to Qassam rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups operating in the area. Human Rights Watch, which is also investigating the use of Qassams against Israeli civilians, has previously called on Palestinian armed groups to cease such unlawful attacks. The Qassam attacks violate international law because they fail to discriminate between military targets and civilians. Qassam rockets are highly imprecise, homemade weapons that are incapable of being targeted at specific objects.  
Human Rights Watch researchers currently in Gaza interviewed victims, witnesses, Palestinian security officers and doctors who treated the wounded after the incident. They also visited the site of the explosion, where they found a large piece of unoxidized jagged shrapnel, stamped “155mm,” which would be consistent with an artillery shell fired by the IDF’s M-109 Self-Propelled Artillery.  
Human Rights Watch spoke to the Palestinian explosive ordnance disposal unit who investigated three craters on the beach, including the one where the civilians were killed. According to General Salah Abu `Azzo, head of the Palestinian unit, they also gathered and removed shrapnel fragments consistent with 155mm artillery shells.  
Eyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch described between five and six explosions on the beach between 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., the time frame when the IDF fired artillery onto the beach and when the seven civilians were killed. Two survivors said they heard the sound of an incoming projectile and saw a blur of motion in the sky before the explosion that killed the seven civilians. Residents of northern Gaza are familiar with the sounds of regular artillery fire.  
Doctors also confirmed to Human Rights Watch researchers that the injuries from the attack, which were primarily to the head and torso, are consistent with the heavy shrapnel of artillery shells used by the IDF. Doctors said the shrapnel they removed from Palestinian patients in Gaza was of a type that comes from an artillery shell.  
According to readings from a Global Positioning Satellite taken by Human Rights Watch, the crater where the victims were killed was within the vicinity of the other artillery craters created by the IDF’s June 9 artillery attack and was the same shape and size. One crater was 100 meters away from the fatal crater, and the rest were 250 to 300 meters away.  
Some Israeli officials have suggested the explosion may have been caused by a mine placed by Palestinian militants, rather than one of their artillery shells, despite the fact that they cannot account for the final landing place of one of their six shells.  
However, according to on-site investigations by Human Rights Watch, the size of the craters and the type of injuries to the victims are not consistent with the theory that a mine caused the explosion. The craters are too large to be made by bounding mines, the only type of landmines capable of producing head and torso injuries of the type suffered by the victims on June 9. Additionally, Palestinian armed groups are not known to have, or to have used, bounding mines; the Palestinian government bomb squad said it has never uncovered a bounding mine in any explosive incident.  
Since its September 2005 pullout from Gaza, the IDF has regularly struck northern Gaza with artillery shelling, in response to Qassam rocket attacks from the area by Palestinian armed groups. In the last 10 months, Israel has admitted to firing more than 5,000 artillery shells into the area. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs puts the number at 5,700 IDF shells fired since the end of March 2006.  
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, IDF artillery fire has killed 47 Palestinians, including 11 children and five women, and injured 192 others since September 2005. It has also damaged dozens of homes in northern Gaza.  
Human Rights Watch researchers visiting the area say almost every house on the periphery of areas of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia in northern Gaza has holes in it indicative of Israeli artillery shrapnel. In a June 10 interview with the New York Times, General Aviv Kochavi, the Israeli commander for the south, indicated that the purpose of the artillery shelling is to deter future attacks and punish area residents: “The message we are trying to convey, you can call it deterrence, but it’s ‘Ladies and gentlemen, there is an equivalence: so long as you shoot qassams at us, we’ll shoot at you.’”  
International law requires attacking forces to distinguish between soldiers and civilians, targeting only the former. It prohibits indiscriminate attacks, which use a method or means of warfare that cannot distinguish between the two groups. It also prohibits disproportionate attacks in which the civilian harm outweighs military necessity.  
“The IDF has a legal duty to do everything feasible to verify that targets are military objectives and to avoid civilian deaths,” Whitson said. “The investigation should determine how the beach picnickers died and whether international law was violated. If that’s the case, it must consider how best to compensate the victims and how to prevent future deaths.”  
Human Rights Watch researchers have been in Sderot and Gaza on a fact-finding mission documenting the impact of Palestinian Qassam fire from Gaza into Israel and Israeli artillery shelling into northern Gaza. In Israel, the team was in Sderot when the town was hit by two Palestinian Qassams on Thursday, June 8, and also witnessed two more Qassams hitting Nativ Ha’asara the same day; there were no apparent injuries as a result of those attacks. Since Human Rights Watch’s visit to the Western Negev, the Israeli media has reported that 54 Qassam rockets have been fired at Sderot. According to news reports, on Sunday one rocket seriously wounded Yonatan Engel, a 60-year-old resident of Sderot.  
Eyewitness Accounts  
According to witnesses, the Ghalya family went to the beach on June 9 for a family outing. After shells fell nearby, the father, `Ali, hurriedly gathered his family together and called for a car. An explosion then occurred in the middle of the family group.  
“Their legs I could see inside. Their intestines I could see spilling out,” said Mohammed Sawarka, 28, who rushed to the scene to help. “A 1-month-old child was dead inside its carriage.” He also found a hand in the sand. Doctors at the Shifa Hospital corroborated this testimony.  
Amani Ghalya, 22, suffered severe abdominal injuries and lost her arm. Her sister, Latifa, 7, has brain damage. Both were still in the intensive care unit on Sunday, June 11. Their mother Hamdia, 40, `Ali’s second wife, suffered a compound fracture and lost a chunk of flesh in her arm. She also pointed to shrapnel wounds to her abdomen and upper leg.  
The family members killed in the attack, and their ages, were: `Ali `Isa Ghalya, 49; Ra’issa Ghalya, 35; Haitham Ghalya, 1; Hanadi Ghalya, 2; Sabrin Ghalya, 4; Ilham Ghalya, 15; and `Alia Ghalya, 17.  
Shrapnel from the blast also pierced a nearby car where Hani Radwan Azanin’s daughters Nagham, 4, and Dima, 7, were hiding. They suffered serious injuries to their backs and arms. Human Rights Watch visited the car and found multiple shrapnel holes and a piece of shrapnel.  
“All of the patients are suffering from multiple injuries. There was massive destruction of bone, muscle, skin,” said Dr. Nabil Al-Shawa of Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, who treated some of the victims. The research team took photographs of some of the survivors, available on the Human Rights Watch website.