Saturday, July 31, 2010

Occupied Palestine: Home Demolitions, Dispossessions and Residency Rights Revoked

Occupied Palestine: Home Demolitions, Dispossessions and Residency Rights Revoked - by Stephen Lendman

Daily, Israeli oppression continues - demolishing homes, dispossessing occupants, and revoking residency rights, three of its many crimes under international law, Israel spurning it with impunity.

On July 22, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) reported mass Jordan Valley Al Farisyie village demolitions, displacing 107 people, including 52 children. Targeted were 26 residential tents, 22 animal shelters, seven taboun clay ovens, eight kitchens, 10 bathrooms, four water tanks, and an agricultural equipment shed - in all, 74 structures illegally bulldozed, family homes and belongings destroyed along with large quantities of food and animal fodder.

Many families weren't warned or present, so lost everything under rubble, Israel displacing Palestinians to make way for Judaization, area residents on their own, abandoned and unaided.

In July, three other communities were affected:

-- Fasayile al Fuga where a family home of nine, including seven children and a 10-month old infant, was destroyed;

-- Bardala where evacuation and demolition orders were issued; and

-- Ras Ar Ahmar where 13 homes and dozens of animal shelters were bulldozed after declaring the area a Closed Military Zone.

The Jordan Valley comprises about 30% of the West Bank, Israel continuing demolitions, dispossessions, land theft, and appropriation of water resources, annexing areas for Jews, collectively punishing its residents by declaring large areas Closed Military Zones, ordering entire villages evacuated in defiance of international law, hundreds of residents affected, half of them children.

On July 7, Haaretz writer Mijal Grinberg headlined "More than 800 protest Bedouin house demolitions in front of the Knesset," saying they erected a tent city after arriving in 17 buses to petition the government to "stop destroying homes."

Arab MKs and Hadash Party member Dov Hanin joined them, demanding this stop and accommodation with Bedouins reached, Israeli citizens denied their rights.

They rightfully claim ownership to 800,000 dunams of land, about 200,000 acres - around 6% of southern Israel's Negev desert. Israel, however, doesn't recognize them, saying about 75,000 Bedouins live in unrecognized villages, their public funding and services denied. More on that below.

Still, in recent years, 11 unrecognized villages were legalized. But another 36 are in limbo, their homes subject to demolition and land confiscated. In 2007, the government destroyed 110 homes. A-Sira is slated for demolition, its residents petitioning Israel's High Court to prevent it. Some lost their homes earlier. Others hope to save theirs. All Palestinians fear they're next - dispossession for Judaization, ongoing throughout East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Bedouin areas.

On July 27, Ma'an News reported that all Al-Araqib homes, fruit orchards and olive trees were destroyed, another unrecognized Bedouin village in southern Israel. At 4:30AM, 1,500 police arrived, including special riot forces, mounted officers, helicopters and bulldozers, awakening residents to evict them after an 11-year trial and court battle, residents winning to no avail. Israel dispossessed them anyway.

About 300 people were affected, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld saying all "were told ahead of time they had to leave," a planned forest to replace them, their homes from before Israel's creation lost, their rights denied, Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif Al-Qanoua saying:

"The occupation has continued the destruction of Palestinian villages in the Negev for more than 40 years," a policy similar to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, "clear(ing) out Palestinian villages and towns" to Judaize them.

Many Gazans have Negev and other area roots, lost when Israel was declared a state. Al-Araqib village peace activists called the demolitions an "act of war, such as is undertaken against an enemy," saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Bedouins a threat, "giv(ing) legitimacy to the(ir) expulsion....to Judaize it."

"Unrecognized" Palestinians - Israeli Citizens Without Rights

This writer's earlier article discussed them, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2007/09/unrecognized-palestinians_12.html

Around 150,000 are affected, living mainly in the Negev in the south and Galilee in the north, nonpersons, according to Israel. Considered internal refugees, they're unrecognized because they fled during Israel's "War of Independence," then couldn't return when it ended.

Today, their villages are denied essential services, including clean drinking water, electricity, roads, transport, sanitation, education, healthcare, postal and telephone service, refuse removal and more because under Israel's Planning and Construction Law they're illegal.

As a result:

-- only residents with wells have clean drinking water;

-- the few health services available are inadequate;

-- many homes have no bathrooms, their residents prohibited from building them;

-- only villages with generators have enough electricity for lighting, nothing else;

-- villages aren't connected to the main road network;

-- some are fenced in, denying residents access to their traditional lands;

-- in the north, one school only accommodates children able to attend; and

-- when demolitions are ordered, residents at times must do it or be fined and face a year in prison; some others must pay when Israeli bulldozers are used.

With no constitution, Israel is governed by its Basic Laws, the Human Dignity and Freedom one authorizing the Knesset to overturn laws contrary to the right to dignity, life, freedom, privacy, property, and freedom to leave and enter the country. It states:

"There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person. All persons are entitled to protection (of these rights, and) There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment, arrest, extradition or otherwise."

Yet no Basic Law guarantees equality, afforded only Jews, not Arabs, including Israeli citizens.

East Jerusalemites' Residency Status Revoked

In late April, the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) reported that in 2008, Israel's Interior Ministry revoked the residency status of 4,672 Jerusalemites, another 229 losing theirs in 2009, and since the early 1990s, about 30,000 legal residents were affected, expelled from their homes, banished from their city.

Further, another 165,000 Jerusalemites are at risk since they live east of the Separation Wall, separating them from the West Bank. JCSER also said municipality authorities "admitted for the first time that Israel got rid of 55,000 Jerusalemites in the last years due to the separation wall and that they lost their right to reside in the city."

The statistics "only include those living in the East of Jerusalem's Sho'fat refugee camp, Ras Khmis, Ras Shihadeh and al-Salam neighborhoods." However, another 70,000 in al-Bareed, Kafr Aqab and Samiramees face the same threat, Israel ethnically cleansing the city to Judaize it, remove the Arab presence, destroy their historic landmarks, and claim the entire city as Israel's capital, denying Palestinians that right for a future state.

In late July, JCSER reported that from January 2009 - June 6, 2010, Israel's Interior Ministry revoked the residency rights of 721 Palestinians, including 108 from January - June 6, 2010. It also said from June 1967 - mid-June 2010, 86,226 (14,371 families) were affected, many more expected under a ruthlessly oppressive policy.

In addition, thousands of family reunification requests are rejected out of hand as well as thousands more applications to register newborns in the city, Israeli-provided numbers as follows:

-- from January 2009 - July 6, 2010, reinstated residency rights of only 95 Palestinians were approved; and

-- from January 2009 - July 15, 2010, only 280 family reunification requests were allowed, many others pending, few at most to be permitted.

According to JCSER head, Ziad Al Hammoury, the reality on the ground is much worse than Israel reports - hundreds of East Jerusalemites losing their residency rights, hundreds more families prohibited from reunifying, their children not recognized as Jerusalemites, and hundreds of others studying or working abroad lost their ID cards at border crossings.

Israel's policy especially escalated after Palestinian Jerusalem legislators lost their status, all others in the city now at risk, despite being designated "permanent residents" in 1967.

However, in 1974, the law changed to let the Interior Minister strip residency rights from Palestinians with foreign citizenship or believed to be "a threat to national security," a provision potentially affecting anyone for any reason or none at all. Then in 1988, another amendment let the Interior Minister deny residency to Palestinians who lived in Gaza or the West Bank for seven years, and since 2003, the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prohibits family unifications without Interior Ministry permission, very seldom granted.

Combined, these policies ruthlessly deny Palestinians their legal rights in their own land, incrementally being stolen to Judaize it.

A Final Comment

On July 28, Haaretz writer Amira Hass headlined "The Palestinian Authority is imprisoning Gazans," saying:

In the West Bank, the Mahmoud Abbas coup d'etat government that calls for an "end (to) the blockade on Gaza, in practice aids in imprisoning the Gazans by preventing them from holding valid Palestinian passports" - acting as Israel's enforcer.

"Not only does (Fatah) refuse to (provide) passports, (but) its general intelligence service even intervenes" to veto applications. Abbas security forces also "continue to arrest (and imprison for extended periods with no charges or trial) people identified with Hamas," Palestine's legitimate government, one Israel doesn't recognize, Fatah endorsed to control the West Bank, with generous funding to do it.

"These are the same security authorities that have won praise from the occupier for the quiet they've achieved," giving Israel more latitude to demolish homes, dispossess residents, expel them, arrest children, prevent free expression and movement, and kill anyone called a threat.

Fatah's collaboration compounds their suffering for their corrupt self-interest, profiting handsomely as a result.

A final note. On July 29, Countercurrents.org published Providence Knolls and Tania Kepler's article titled, "Villagers Rebuild Razed Bedouin Village," accessed through the following link:

http://www.countercurrents.org/kepler290710.htm

They reported villagers, Palestinians, Israeli and international volunteers rebuilt Al-Araqib one day after Israel bulldozed it, and residents plan to build "more than what was destroyed, in an attempt to prevent future demolitions." Asking international help to survive, village spokesperson, Dr. Awad Abu Freih, said "We want our voice to be heard around the world." Is Israel listening?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Damage Control: Downplaying WikiLeaks Revelations

Damage Control: Downplaying WikiLeaks Revelations - by Stephen Lendman

When truths are too disturbing to conceal, downplay them, change the subject, and blame others, not responsible Washington officials and key allies, culpable politicians and media misinformation masters suppressing and misreporting the facts, their well-oiled spin machine counterattacking WikiLeaks - revelations too sensitive to explain, a potential game-changer otherwise, so pundits and reporters duck them.

Above all, WikiLeaks "Afghan War Diaries" are a powerful indictment of wars, their true face, the mindless daily slaughter and destruction too disturbing to reveal, for Julian Assange:

"the vast sweep of abuses, everyday squalor and carnage of war....one sort of kill after another every day going on and on and on....one damn thing after another....(endless) small events, the continuous deaths of children, insurgents, allied forces....(many) thousands" of war crimes needing exposure, accountability, and prosecutions.

The "Diaries" document them, suppressed by the major media, choosing embedded complicity and Pentagon handouts over real journalism, WikiLeaks "high quality material" and solid analysis their antidote, so far not enough to stop Congress.

One day after their release, following the Senate's passage days earlier on top of $130 billion already approved this year, the House overwhelmingly passed a $60 billion supplemental spending bill, including $37 billion for America's wars, mostly for 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan. Obama tripled the force since taking office, now around 100,000 and increasing by about 2,000 a month, their numbers exceeded by private military and other contractors, making the annual cost per US soldier $1 million and rising, reason enough to end both wars and bring them home.

Yet more escalation is planned, breaking candidate Obama's October 27, 2007 pledge saying:

"I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home, We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank," perhaps an insolvent one under FDIC receivership.

A day after the WikiLeaks release, he ignored old promises, evaded indictable war crimes evidence and a deepening unwinnable quagmire, urging the House authorize more supplemental funding, then engaged in contradictory, deceitful damage control saying:

"While I'm concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is these documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate about Afghanistan. Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall."

Instead of withdrawing as earlier promised, he plans escalation, the same Vietnam misjudgment, force levels there reaching 540,000 in December 1969, yet not enough to win, resulting in drawdowns, withdrawal and defeat, now repeating in Afghanistan, then Iraq no matter each country's troop level. Mindless of history, Obama added:

"We've substantially increased our commitment there, insisted upon greater accountability from our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan, developed a new strategy that can work and put in place a team, including one of our finest generals, to execute that plan. Now we have to see that strategy through," no matter its illegality and futility, what he and Pentagon brass know but won't say, what Congress and the media won't address, supporting a killing machine in violation of US and international law, explained in this writer's July 28 article, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/wikileaks-afghan-war-diaries.html

Deceitful Media Misinformation

Released in advance to the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and New York Times, the "paper of record" collaborated with White House officials to sanitize it, clearing it in advance before publishing. Its Washington bureau chief, Dean Baquet, confirmed that he and two reporters (Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt) "did in fact (tell them) what we had," Obama officials "prais(ing) us for the way we handled it, giving them a chance to discuss it, and for handling the information with care. And for being responsible."

Responding to readers, Times editor Bill Keller wrote:

"The administration, while strongly condemning (the release), did not suggest (we not) write about them. On the contrary, in our discussions....while challenging some of (our) conclusions....thanked us for handling the documents with care (read sanitizing disturbing truths), and asked us to urge WikiLeaks to withhold information that could cost lives. We did pass along that message."

In addition, he concealed daily war crimes, including mass civilian deaths, many willfully committed. Also, Task Force 373, death squad assassins killing suspected insurgents, cold-blooded murder The Times suppresses, collaborating with imperial lawlessness.

Instead, it focused on "Pakistan's Double Game," a July 27 editorial "confirm(ing) a picture of Pakistani double-dealing that has been building for years," saying "If Mr. Obama cannot persuade Islamabad to cut its ties to, and then aggressively fight, the extremists in Pakistan, there is no hope of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan," The Times, of course, supporting the Afghan and Iraq wars.

For many decades, it's suppressed disturbing truths, functioning like a propaganda ministry, masquerading as real news, commentary and analysis - why WikiLeaks gave the Guardian and Der Spiepel its documents for more accurate reporting if three papers, not one, had them.

A wise decision given The Times history of supporting privilege, backing corporate interests, knowingly ignoring CIA efforts to topple elected governments, letting the Agency use its correspondents as covert assets, turning a blind eye to electoral fraud, and promoting imperial wars.

In the run-up to attacking Iraq, its star reporter, Judith Miller, bylined daily Pentagon handouts, scamming the public as a complicit Bush administration agent, a weapon of mass destruction against truth and real journalism by transmitting lies, deceit and agitprop, standard New York Times fare.

For months in 2004, it also concealed the Bush administration's illegal domestic spying program, delaying its report until after the November election, and in 2000 endorsed Bush v. Gore, the first time in US history that the High Court ignored electoral fraud, annulled the popular vote (and final Electoral College count), installing its own preferred candidate over the winner.

The Wall Street Journal is unapologetic about supporting corporate interests, and under Rupert Murdoch the lunatic fringe, neocon extremism, and imperial wars, its July 29 editorial titled "WikiLeaks 'Bastards' " an example, saying:

Julian Assange loves "crushing bastards." We wonder if the 'bastards' he has in mind include the dozens of Afghan civilians named in the document dump as US military informants. Their lives, as well as those of their entire families, are now at terrible risk of Taliban reprisal."

In fact, the Journal ignores Assange's "bastards" - imperial warlords reigning death and destruction daily in Iraq and Afghanistan, unmentioned in Journal reports, op-eds or editorials, focusing instead on supporting the troops and "humanitarian" wars bringing "democracy" to beleaguered people, the kind that slaughters and enslaves them.

The editorial calls publishing disturbing truths "troubling," though revealing "no big lies about the war (but) no small ones either." Exposing details about "the military's methods, sources, tactics and protocols of communication" harms national security." In fact, what harms it is America's presence, lawlessness and imperial agenda.

In a July 27 Journal op-ed, Bret Stephens calls civilian deaths, Special Forces teams targeting insurgents, and Pakistan aiding the Taliban "not exactly" news. "Still, you'd be forgiven for thinking it is, given the Pentagon Papers-style treatment now being accorded" the WikiLeaks release. "We'll see about that," so he focuses instead on a former Khmer Rouge prison commandant's conviction for his role in the 1970s Cambodian killing fields, hardly worth discussing over 40 years too late.

Journal writers Siobhan Gorman and Jay Solomon also dodged the story, diverting attention to "Suspicion (and unproved allegations) of Iranian ties to the Taliban and al Qaeda," alleging Tehran provided them arms, like earlier false claims about Iraq, the writers saying some accusations "stretch credulity," yet they reported them anyway.

On July 27, the Washington Post headlined "Wikileaks' release of classified field reports on Afghan war reveals not much," saying:

The voluminous release "hardly merits the hype (nor) does it provide evidence for war crimes prosecutions - though in making that assertion, Wikileaks' founder revealed his....antiwar agenda," one supported by most Americans and majorities worldwide.

Saying the archives "add detail and texture," the Post downplayed their importance, calling them old news, insignificant, unreliable, unconfirmed, not reflecting current policy - the kind escalating killing by a tripled force level and expanded war into Pakistan, its carnage and daily Iraq violence suppressed, the grim facts too disturbing to reveal, multiplied manyfold in Afghanistan.

On his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh mocked WikiLeaks saying, "In the old days, the definition of winning a war was killing people."

Fox News on-air host/commentator Greg Gutfeld headlined, "WikiLeaks' Crusade Against the US Military," saying its documents are "pure bullpoop times 12. The fact is, their goal is to 'expose' only the people they hate - meaning the US military - and get famous for it. (What) Julian thinks is 'unethical behavior' is only unethical if you're an idiot....and if you disagree with me, you're a racist homophobe who eats oil-soaked pelicans."

Fox News calls itself "fair and balanced," saying "we report, you decide." Its above comments show otherwise - why Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) calls Fox "the most biased name in news," its "extraordinary right-wing tilt" not reality or honest journalism, sadly lacking throughout the major media, cable and broadcast "news" looking more like Fox, racing to the bottom for ratings and profits, delivering a propaganda, junk food news and entertainment diet, their viewers misinformed and cheated.

Overall, the major media downplayed the WikiLeaks story, CNN like others saying:

"American officials from the president on down" minimized the disclosures, Pentagon officials finding no high classification level disclosures. Senator John Kerry said the leaks shouldn't be overstated. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed they won't affect congressional support for the war.

Trying to rebrand it, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton highlighted "the new counterinsurgency strategy implemented earlier this year, (a policy) to turn things around," and a July 25 White House email told reporters "Some of the disconcerting things reported are exactly why the President ordered a three month policy review and a change in strategy," in fact, the same one escalated with more troops, more attacks, and more killings.

Others called the documents old news the way Pentagon Papers bombshells were dismissed, the Los Angeles Times saying WikiLeaks reports revealed few, just material "put(ting) the Obama administration on the defensive about its Afghanistan policy (that) may deepen doubts in Congress about prospects for turning around the faltering war effort."

Not easily with major media support, complicit with Pentagon warlords, criminal politicians, and corporate bosses burying the story, calling it unimportant and moving on, backing the war effort by misreporting or silence.

As a result, antiwar sentiment must challenge official policy, enlisting others to resist and back efforts to revive a sick economy, lift living standards, save social benefits, and the remnants of democratic freedoms, fast eroding in America by design, the prospect too horrific to accept, making bad governance essential to change.

If not now, when? If not us, who? If that's not incentive enough, what is?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Investigating the Freedom Flotilla Attack

Investigating the Freedom Flotilla Attack - by Stephen Lendman

On June 2, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) approved formation of an international committee (like the Goldstone Commission) to probe the Flotilla attack, saying it will include lawyers and international law and human rights experts, its findings to be presented in September (during the Council's three week session in Geneva) after visiting Gaza and contacting Israel, Turkey, Greece, and the Freedom Flotilla coalition.

HRC's panel includes:

-- Desmond de Silva, a UK lawyer and former chief prosecutor for the Sierra Leone Special Court investigation into widespread killings there;

-- Karl Hudson-Phillips, a former International Criminal Court (ICC) judge and former Trinidad and Tobago attorney general and parliament member; and

-- Malaysia's Mary Shanthi Dairiam, active in gender equality issues, including on the UN Development Program's gender equity task force.

In emergency session, the HCR criticized Israel's "outrageous attack on aid ships attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip," calling it "piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity -unprovoked....unwarranted....atrocious, (and) brutal," calling activists "peaceful...innocent...noble...unarmed, (and) defenseless," setting the tone for what's to come, HRC president Sihasak Phuangketkeow saying:

"This is not about finger-pointing. It's about establishing the facts of what took place because the incident was a humanitarian tragedy and it's in the interests of everyone. So I'm hopeful and I'm urging all the parties concerned to render their full cooperation, because it is in their interests and it's in the interests of the international community as a whole."

"The expertise, independence and impartiality of the members of the mission will be devoted to clarifying the events which took place that day and their legality."

Israel's response was expected, a foreign ministry official saying the HRC acted in haste as part of its "obsession against Israel. The Israeli probe, conducted with transparency, makes the organization's probe completely unnecessary."

Israel, of course, won't cooperate, and plans a whitewash like its July 20 Gaza Operational Investigations: Second Update, responding to the Goldstone Commission and other reports of widespread Cast Lead crimes of war and against humanity.

No serious investigation was conducted, the report citing only four criminal indictments - two for using a minor as a human shield, one regarding an attack on a family waving a white flag, and the other for credit card theft.

Hundreds of other serious crimes weren't addressed, including high level culpability, a few low-level soldiers marginally hung out to dry to absolve government and IDF officials - Israel's usual coverup of appalling war crimes.

Evidence of the Report's Whitewash

On January 4, 2009, the Abu Hajjaj family was attacked, despite carrying clearly visible white flags, resulting in two deaths, Majeda Abu Hajjaj and Raya Abu Hajjaj, mother and sister. Yet Israel "found gaps between (soldiers and Palestinian) testimonies," making it "impossible to make a criminal connection between the described incident," relying instead on soldier versions to whitewash the crime's severity. In addition, investigators gave no credibility to complainants' sworn affidavits, or requested corroborating evidence to confirm them.

Willfully killing civilians is murder, a grave Fourth Geneva violation. One soldier was charged with manslaughter for shooting a "man," yet none were killed, only a mother and her sister.

On January 3, Israeli forces attacked the Al-Maqadma mosque near the Jabalia camp, an air-to-ground anti-personnel missile carrying small cube-shaped fragments for maximum effect killing 15 civilians and injuring 40 others. Israel claimed it targeted a "terror operative" spotted firing rockets.

Yet sworn affidavits and investigations showed no hostilities or military activity in the area, a conclusion Israel didn't contest, saying collateral casualties were unintentional. However, both the attack's timing, shortly after sunset prayers, and the weapon used disproves the IDF's claim, the Goldstone Commission concurring, another grave Fourth Geneva violation.

Yet the officer in charge was merely disciplined even though he willfully attacked a mosque at prayer time.

On January 5, Israeli forces fired two tank shells with flechette darts at a condolence ceremony, killing five civilians and injuring 17 others. Yet according to the commander and his forces, no civilians were present, just "visually identified....terrorist operatives," attacked while loading a "Grad rocket" on "open terrain."

None were there, just a clearly identifiable condolence tent on a sidewalk about 10 meters wide on a road around 22 miles long in a residential area, not "open terrain" as claimed. Many civilians were present, ones soldiers claimed weren't seen, saying combatants were attacked - a bald-faced lie, proved by dead and injured civilians, one of hundreds of grave Fourth Geneva violations during Cast Lead, preceded and succeeded seamlessly by many others.

Yet no investigations were conducted, no assailants charged, and no justice rendered, including by Israel's whitewash investigation, the same kind examining the Flotilla massacre.

Israeli Cast Lead Coverup

The Goldstone Commission exposed and condemned numerous Israeli war crimes, concluding that:

"the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the (entire) population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at (civilians. These are war crimes because) no justifiable military objective" was pursued.

Yet on July 6, IDF Military Advocate General, Maj. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit reported only the following:

-- a Lt. Colonel was summoned to a disciplinary hearing "for having deviated from military directives pertaining to the prohibition on the use of civilians for operational activity;" a mild reprimand resulted despite serious Fourth Geneva breaches;

-- a staff sergeant was indicted for manslaughter, absolving him of cold-blooded murder; his punishment will be minimal;

-- a criminal investigation was ordered "to clarify the circumstances of a specific incident;" expect no prosecutions to result; and

-- a captain was disciplined for "his failed professional judgment in authorizing an attack against a (claimed) terror operative," killing and injuring only civilians.

Gen. Mendelblit claimed over 150 incidents were examined and nearly 50 investigations launched since Cast Lead's conclusion.

Only mild disciplinary actions resulted besides one manslaughter indictment, despite a 23 day rampage, committing extensive crimes of war and against humanity, killing over 1,400, injuring over 5,000, many permanently disabled, (civilians in most cases affected), and inflicting massive destruction and devastation, unaddressed or relieved under siege. Gen. Mendelblit instead said:

"Operation Cast Lead was limited in the scope of fire and forces used. IDF soldiers operated in crowded urban areas while Hamas made deliberate and cynical use of the Palestinian population (they were protecting), creating a complex security situation. Hamas operated from within civilian homes, schools, kindergartens, mosques, hospitals and UN facilities (bald-faced lies) while the population in the Gaza Strip was made hostage" - not by Hamas, its legitimate government, by Israeli marauders, rampaging, killing and destroying lawlessly, omitted from the general's account.

Israel's Inquiry Commission - Whitewashing the Flotilla Massacre

On June 14, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced its formation, an internal probe to suppress truths, its members including:

-- former Israeli Supreme Court Justice, Jacob Turkel, heading it, a man with little inquiry commission experience;

-- Amos Horev, a retired Israeli major general, a prominent military-industrial complex figure; and two non-voting foreign observers:

-- David Trimble, head of Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionist Party, First Minister of the Good Friday Agreement's power-sharing government, Conservative Party life peer, earlier involved with loyalist death squads and Royal Ulster Constabulary killers (RUC); and

-- Former Canadian General Ken Watkin, earlier involved in whitewashing Canada's role in committing Somalia atrocities in the early 1990s.

A June 15 Haaretz editorial was unimpressed, saying:

"....the committees membership nor its authority is suited to meet the challenges posed by the affair. (It's more) a public relations tool (than a body appointed) to bring justice to bear on those found responsible. It would have....been better if the (committee) had never been born, sparing us the deceptive appearance of a real investigation," what the commission will scrupulously avoid, its findings to be willful coverup, blaming the victims, not their assassins or culpable high-level officials.

An Israeli military inquiry was also conducted, headed by retired Major General Giora Eiland, his released July 12 findings calling the Flotilla attack justified, according to an official summary made public - Eiland submitting a classified 150 page report to IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister. Its conclusions were as follows:

Claim:

"....there were no wrongdoings and no negligences in any fundamental areas during a complicated and complex operation."

Fact Check:

Nonviolent unarmed activists were delivering humanitarian aid to besieged Gazans. In an operation planned weeks in advance, they were willfully attacked in international waters, up to 15 murdered in cold blood, commandos given names and photos of targets, incriminating evidence found on board the mother ship, the Mavi Marmarra.

Claim:

-- "But on the other hand, there were mistakes that were made in decisions, including some taken at relatively high levels, which meant that the result was not as had been initially anticipated."

Fact Check:

The "anticipated" result was hostile interdiction, assassinating nonviolent activists, seizing their cargo, arresting participants on board, treating them harshly in detention, expelling them from Israel, concealing murder and barbarism in international waters, and blaming victims for their attackers' crimes.

Assassinations and related violence were carried out as planned, using commandos, trained killers as the assault force, not Israel's equivalent of America's Coast Guard, charged with maritime law enforcement, search, rescue, and other non-combat functions.

Claim

-- "not all possible intelligence gathering methods were fully implemented and (the) coordination between Navy Intelligence and the Israeli Defense Intelligence was insufficient." In addition, "the anticipated level of violence used against the forces was underestimated."

Fact Check

Faced with worldwide condemnation, the inquiry blamed intelligence failures, not a well-rehearsed operation conducted as planned.

Claim

"the operation relied excessively on a single course of action." No other was prepared for in "the event of more dangerous scenarios."

Fact Check

The attack was carried out as planned, every detail rehearsed for precision, including the pre-attack filming on a ship resembling the Mavi Marmarra, showing commandos were attacked, not activists - fiction, not fact.

Claim

"....as far as is currently known, no country in the world holds the ability to stop a vessel at sea in a non hostile manner."

Fact Check

The US Coast Guard and comparable agencies elsewhere do it routinely as necessary, seldom encountering violence and not initiating it themselves.

Claim

"....alternative courses of action could have existed had the process of preparation begun enough time in advance...."

Fact Check

Preparations began weeks in advance, including detailed intelligence on the number of ships and activists, their names and home countries, photos of targets to be assassinated, dates of departure and expected arrival, and a well-rehearsed commando interdiction operation.

Claim

The inquiry "determined that the Navy Commando soldiers operated properly, with professionalism, bravery and resourcefulness and that the commanders exhibited correct decision making....the use of live fire was justified and that the entire operation is estimable."

Fact Check

Commandos are elite combat forces trained to kill "professionally." They followed precise orders assassinating nonviolent activists in international waters - a lawless cowardly act against unarmed civilians.

Claim

The inquiry "noted with favor the various stages of medical evacuation of the injured by air and by sea, including the injured passengers of the Mavi Marmarra."

Fact Check

Commandos treated activists harshly, firing from helicopters before boarding, followed by gas bombs, other weapons, beatings, and dumping some bodies overboard. There was no provocation and no warning given. The attack was premeditated and vicious, some passengers shot multiple times in the head at point blank range.

Dozens were injured, at least 20 seriously. Everyone was taken prisoner. The few commandos hurt were treated by the ship's doctor. He was shot in the arm while aiding victims. Wounded passengers were searched and handcuffed like the others. Throughout the ordeal, soldiers were hostile and abusive, injured activists further mistreated, kicked, struck with weapons, and in some cases shot again.

No compassion whatever was shown. Some wounded passengers weren't taken to the hospital on arrival at Israel's Ashdod Port. Although hurt, bleeding and needing treatment, they were kept on board, doctors prevented from helping them.

From interdiction to assault to seizure to detention to deportation, the entire procedure was harsh, demeaning, and degrading, the slightest reaction met by blows, some unharmed activists injured en route to the airport for deportation. Others, before and during detention, were seriously beaten, some tortured. Five stayed behind hospitalized, too injured to leave. The whereabouts of some remains unknown.

General Eiland said "the issue should be viewed with perspective," believing Israel won't incur long-term damage, saying:

"....there's a tendency to draw general conclusions based on a single incident....(In addition), the fact that the IDF examines itself and others do not, results in that only the 'errors' of the IDF are publicized."

America, Britain and other nations do self-examine, as shamelessly as the above account using coverup to suppress the truth and avoid accountability. And when abuses are too great to hide, one or more low-level soldiers are charged to absolve chain of command crimes, including high-level civilians, how Israel, America and other nations duck responsibility for lawless acts of violence, ones carefully planned in advance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WikiLeaks "Afghan War Diaries"

WikiLeaks "Afghan War Diaries" - by Stephen Lendman

Calling itself "the intelligence agency of the people," WikiLeaks is "a multi-juristidictional public service designed to protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive material to communicate to the public" that has a right and need to know - to then use responsibly for better government in a free and open society, absent in today's America run by warlords, criminal politicians, and corporate bosses, spurning the rule of law for their own gain.

On July 26, WikiLeaks published "The Afghan War Diaries," its modern day Pentagon Papers, top-secret documents eroding support for the Vietnam War, The New York Times saying they "demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance" - what Julian Assange has done on Afghanistan, revealing Bush and Obama administration lies and duplicity about their illegal war of aggression, America's longest. More on that below.

Releasing over 75,000 of nearly 92,000 reports, they represent a small fraction of millions of US files uploaded to WikiLeaks databases, more to be regularly released, "high quality material," according to Assange.

They're chronologically listed in over 100 categories, covering the period January 2004 - December 2009, describing lethal US military actions, including numbers internally killed, wounded, or detained by geographical location, units involved, and major weapons used.

Since the Pentagon Papers, they comprise the "most significant (comprehensive) archive about the reality of war," with no resolution or opposition in Congress, providing "a comprehensive understanding of the war (and) modern warfare in general."

Accounts come mainly from soldiers and intelligence officers, but also from US embassies and other sources revealing corruption and criminality across Afghanistan, including coverups, collusion, distortion, and duplicity - a sordid story needing telling to shock a comatose public to action, and revive a badly needed anti-war movement.

As expected, the White House reacted sharply and deceptively, National Security Advisor James Jones saying:

"The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk and threaten our national security," ignoring the war's illegality; its duplicitous, mindless, shameless destructiveness; a brutal quagmire; waged under false pretenses; and its shocking human costs on both sides; Afghan civilians mostly, but also NATO casualties, including deaths, mutilations, disabling injuries, PTSD, suicides, deadly toxins exposure, and proper care at home denied.

In several Nation magazine articles, Joshua Kors highlighted how US soldiers are treated, his April 26, 2010 article titled, "Disposable Soldiers: How the Pentagon is Cheating Wounded Vets," mistreating them, misdiagnosing their needs to deny care and disability pay, providing substandard care, abandoning them when no longer needed, the major media not reporting it, how they're now sanitizing WikiLeaks revelations, downplaying their importance, omitting important truths - about illegal wars and crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, both Bush and Obama administrations culpable.

America's Lawlessness

The Constitution's Article 1, Section 8 grants Congress only the power to declare war, appropriate funding, and "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the" nation.

The UN Charter is also explicit, explaining under what circumstances violence and coercion (by one state against another) are permitted. Articles 2(3) and 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes. Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use, and Article 51 allows the "right of self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."

In other words, justifiable self-defense is permissible. Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 absolutely prohibit any unilateral threat or use of force not specifically allowed under Article 51 or authorized by the Security Council.

Three important General Assembly resolutions concur, unconditionally prohibiting "non-consensual military intervention:"

-- the 1965 Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty;

-- the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; and

-- the 1974 Definition of Aggression - "the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations...."

Under Bush and Obama, Washington violated these laws by attacking and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, two nations posing no threat to America, willful aggression, what the Nuremberg Tribunal's Justice Robert Jackson called "the supreme international crime," enforceable under the Constitution's "supremacy clause" (Article VI, clause 2), under which international laws and treaties automatically become US ones.

Then since October 2001, US forces (including CIA operatives) committed appalling crimes of war and against humanity, in violation of the four Geneva Conventions, the US War Crimes Act, the UN Torture Convention, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles, US Army Field Manual 27-10, and other US and international laws - using weapons of mass destruction to massacre millions (mainly civilians), cause vast devastation and destruction, and continue oppressive occupations illegally.

WikiLeaks documented the evidence, lifting the fog of war, revealing its true face, the human carnage, shocking atrocities, rampaging death squads against civilians, murdering women and children wantonly, torturing randomly arrested victims, operating freely under a media blackout.

Partnered with NATO, America's military/industrial/media collaborators misportray US wars as humanitarian, hiding their imperial purpose - state terrorism against millions, showing an utter disregard for the law, truth, humanity or justice.

Even now after WikiLeaks revelations, media reports focus largely on their legality, political impact in November, and how congressional Democrats and the Obama administration may be harmed. They say nothing about nine years of duplicitous lies, shocking war crimes, no accountability, and two illegal wars, demanding they end, their grotesque harm stopped, and hundreds of billions for war profiteers used for homeland needs to revive a sick economy, harming millions as a result.

Undaunted, the White House vowed to keep fighting, continue America's longest war, its occupation and violence in Iraq, defying popular sentiment against them, discounted for imperial gain and expediency - what the media won't explain.

WikiLeaks Reports

Civilians are willfully targeted, those killed or wounded called insurgents, the numbers affected downplayed and misreported, embedded journalists an echo chamber for Pentagon/NATO lies and distortion.

Reports cover most Army units, not Special Forces, top-secret European ones, and other International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) except in combined operations, including assassinations and killing of civilians, including women and children, the media calling them militants or saying nothing at all.

Downplaying the revelations, The New York Times described "an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war," portraying a bleaker picture than reported, yet collaborating with the White House to sanitize it, clearing it in advance before publishing, its usual practice for sensitive materials to keep readers misinformed, an article like this one impossible to clear its censors.

Der Spiegel published an interview with Julian Assange on his motivation for publishing. He said it eclipses everything released so far about the war and modern warfare, shockingly detailed to influence public opinion and political decision-makers - by "shin(ing) light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war," in hopes the mood will shift to end it.

"Reform can only come (when) injustice is exposed. To oppose an unjust plan before it reaches implementation is to stop injustice." America's most dangerous men wage wars, not whistleblowers who expose them, their motives, false promises and crimes. Asked why he established WikiLeaks, he said:

"We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time (and) do something....meaningful and satisfying. This is something that I find meaningful and satisfying. That is my temperament. I enjoy creating systems on a grand scale, and I enjoy helping people who are vulnerable. And I enjoy crushing bastards. So it is enjoyable work," more than ever vitally needed.

Headlining "Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation," London Guardian writers Nick Davies and David Leigh discussed numerous incidents of tens or "hundreds of civilians killed by coalition troops," covert units hunting leaders for "kill or capture," the "steep rise in Taliban bomb attacks on NATO," and the paper's full war logs investigation, exposing real war, not a sanitized version omitting the human toll, vast destruction, corruption and drug-dealing, collusion and deceit, key unreported incidents happening daily, an "unvarnished picture," lifting the fog of war.

The Guardian said "Washington fears it may have lost even more highly sensitive material, including an archive of tens of thousands of cable messages sent by US embassies around the world, reflecting arms deals, trade talks, secret meetings, and uncensored opinions of other governments."

Interviewed on Democracy Now, Daniel Ellsberg was "very impressed," calling the release the first "in 39 or 40 years, since I first gave the Pentagon Papers to the Senate," saying he hopes it will inspire others to come forward and reveal what they know despite the considerable risk.

The documents were released in advance to the Guardian, Der Spiegel, and New York Times, revealing "a contemporaneous catalogue of conflict," classified secret, encyclopedic but incomplete, in total presenting a very disturbing picture, including many accounts of coalitions forces willfully targeting civilians, killing or injuring them, unreported until now.

Other reports cover hundreds of border clashes between Afghan and Pakistani troops, armies supposedly allies, Special Forces killing Taliban, Al Queda leaders, and civilians, mindless slaughter on both sides, and numerous incidents of lethal friendly fire, taking NATO, American and Afghan forces lives - the main concern then concealing the evidence, weapons used, and crimes committed, embedded journalists saying nothing, including about regular demonstrations against America's presence and the corrupted Kabul government, Hamid Karzai a US stooge.

The documents also discuss Pakistan's ISI (its Inter-Services Intelligence) linkage 'to some of the war's most notorious commanders," sending 1,000 motorbikes to warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani for suicide attacks in Khost and Logar provinces. In addition, Islamabad's involvement "in a sensational range of plots, from attempting to assassinate President Hamid Karzai to poisoning the beer supply of western troops."

Even the White House admits that elements of Pakistan's army are linked to Afghan militants, endangering US troops by providing them safe havens.

As revealed, "this is not an Afghanistan that either the US or Britain" are about to turn over to the Kabul government. "Quite the contrary. After nine years of warfare (a Guardian editorial wanting it indefinitely extended), the chaos threatens to overwhelm. A war fought ostensibly for the hearts and minds of Afghans cannot be won like this."

Neither can one fought for imperial gain, Afghan and American hearts and minds be damned. The first casualty also - the truth, WikiLeaks courageously exposing it to arouse a groundswell of public outrage and opposition, demanding the (Iraq and Afghan) wars end, and wasted billions diverted to homeland needs, people ones, including economic development creating jobs and futures, not handed to war profiteers and Wall Street bandits.

A Final Comment

In his 1995 book, "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam," former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said "we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why" about a war that shouldn't have been fought and couldn't be won, what he told Lyndon Johnson privately, what the public never knew and few know now.

It's no less true about Iraq and Afghanistan, General Stanley McChystal not sacked for deriding his superiors but for losing an unwinnable war, his Chief of Operations, Major General Bill Mayville saying: "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win," an assessment McChrystal and others know, what major media accounts won't report, what WikiLeaks hopes to change by inspiring a crescendo of antiwar sentiment, what can't come a moment too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for July 29, 31 and August 1

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for July 29, 31 and August 1, 2010

Thursday, July 29 at 10AM US Central time: Jane Burgermeister

Burgermeister is an investigative journalist currently writing for Nature, the British Medical Journal, Reuters Health, and the Renewable Energy World web site as its European correspondent.

She also has her own web site accessed through the following link: http://www.birdflu666.org

Her recent experiences under Austria's justice system will be discussed and why legal institutions throughout Europe are threatened.

Saturday, July 31 at noon US Central time: Jack Rasmus and Ray McGovern

Rasmus is a Professor of Political Economy at St. Mary's College and Santa Clara University, CA. He's also a freelance journalist, frequent speaker, a playwright and author, including his newest book titled, "Epic Recession and Financial Crisis: Prelude to Global Depression."

His latest economic views will be discussed.

McGovern is a retired CIA Officer (1963- 1990), turned activist and political critic, addressing major world and national issues in lectures and frequent articles, his most recent titled Afghan War Leaks Expose Costly Folly.

His views on the WikiLeaks release and possible war on Iran will be discussed.

Sunday, August 1 at noon US Central time: Kevin Barrett

Barrett is a scholar, university lecturer, and author, his latest book titled "Questioning the War on Terror," ripping apart conventional views, exposing the motives behind it, sinister ones to engender fear, wage imperial wars, and impose draconian homeland repression.

The book and Barrett's latest world views will be discussed.

Growing Health Crisis in the Gulf

Growing Health Crisis in the Gulf - by Stephen Lendman

The combination of millions of gallons of oil and dispersants has made large areas of the Gulf toxic and dangerous, marine toxicologist Ricki Ott saying if she lived there with children she'd leave - based on her firsthand experience after the 1989 Prince William Sound, Alaska Exxon Valdez disaster and subsequent research, documented in her books titled, "Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill" and "Not One Drop - Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill."

Ongoing today, the legacy includes criminal negligence, bankruptcies, destroyed lives and livelihoods, domestic violence, severe anxiety, trauma, PTSD, drug and alcohol abuse, serious illnesses, suicides, massive loss of plant and wildlife, and vast ecological destruction from the 30 million or more gallons spilled, the State of Alaska's conservative estimate, not Exxon's 11 million figure, its lowball claim to hide the disaster's magnitude and minimize its liability.

The Gulf catastrophe is infinitely greater, estimates up to three or more Exxon Valdez incidents (using Exxon's figure) a week until capped. Yet some experts think another seabed hole (a few miles from the Macondo well) is emitting 100,000 or more barrels daily, greatly compounding the growing disaster, added to more by numerous small leaks, five or more alone in BP's Macondo well - the "well from hell," according to some.

Geologist Chris Landau is one, telling Petroleum World that "BP has drilled into a deep-core oil volcano that cannot be stopped, regardless of the horizontal drills the company claims will stop the oil plume in August."

Ocean Energy Institute Founder Matthew Simmons is another, telling Bloomberg we've killed the Gulf of Mexico - its $2.2 trillion economy by depleting oxygen, decimating aquatic life and poisoning the food chain. We've also created a public health crisis, problems showing up first in cleanup workers experiencing dizziness, fainting, nausea, nosebleeds, vomiting, coughing, headaches, stomach upset, and difficulty breathing, compounded by heat, fatigue, hydrocarbon smell, and combined toxicity of oil and dispersants.

Besides other toxins, crude oil contains benzene, in even small amounts associated with leukemia, Hodgkin's Lymphoma, other serious blood and immune system diseases, ventricular fibrillation, congestive gastritis, toxic gastritis, pyloric stenosis, myalgia, kidney damage, skin irritation and burns, swelling and edema, vascular congestion in the brain, and lethal central nervous system depression among others, depending on length and degree of exposure.

The EPA's safe level is 4 parts per billion (ppb), yet Gulf levels reach or top 3,000, smelled hundreds of miles away, meaning residents inhaling fumes are ingesting dangerous toxins, raising their risk for serious future health problems, some potentially lethal.

Long-term exposure to benzene, ethylbenzene, xylene, toluene and other solvents may cause infertility, low-birth weight babies, miscarriages, decreased cognitive function, psychomotor coordination problems, weakened immunity, and increased risk of depression, insomnia, certain cancers, and other diseases.

In their book Generations at Risk, Ted Schettler, Gina Solomon, Maria Valenti and Annette Huddle reviewed the physical properties of solvents, enabling humans to ingest them saying:

"They evaporate in air at room temperature and are therefore easily inhaled; they penetrate the skin easily; and they cross the placenta, sometimes accumulating at higher doses in the fetus. In addition, many solvents (like benzene) enter breast fat and are found in breast milk, sometimes at higher concentrations than in maternal blood."

"Solvents contaminating drinking water enter the body through skin absorption and inhalation in the shower, as well as through drinking water. In fact, the total exposure from taking a ten minute shower in contaminated water is greater than....drinking two quarts of the same water. Solvents are generally short-lived in the human body, lingering for no more than several days." When longer-term, however, much greater harm results.

Exposure can cause "a range of ill effects, including damage to the skin, liver, central nervous system, lungs, and kidneys. Certain solvents can inhibit blood cell production." Many are carcinogenic. Glycol ethers can cause birth defects, testicular damage, infertility, and failed pregnancies. Exposed men experience low sperm counts, women reproductive problems, everyone potential serious future health problems.

After the 2002 Galicia, Spain Prestige oil spill and 2007 South Korean Hebei Spirit one, fishermen and cleanup workers suffered from respiratory and central nervous system problems, even genetic damage. After the Exxon Valdez disaster, BP's then medical director, Dr. Robert Rigg warned:

"It is a known fact that neurological changes (brain damage), skin disorders, (including cancer), liver and kidney damage, cancer of the other organs, and medical complications - secondary to exposure to working unprotected (or inadequately protected) - can and will occur (in) workers exposed to crude oil and other petrochemical by-products." Short-term symptoms and complaints may be early warnings of serious long-term harm.

Public health specialists Ellen-Marie Whelan and Lesley Russell from the Center for American Progress said:

"We know that Exxon Valdez cleanup workers faced average oil mist exposure that was twelve times higher than government-approved limits, and those who washed the beaches with hot water experienced a maximum exposure 400 times higher than these limits. Many of those workers suffered subsequent health problems, and in 1989, 1,811 workers filed compensation claims, primarily for respiratory system damage, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health." Today, we face "what some are calling the worst-ever ecological disaster without an appropriate public health response in place."

Whelan and Russell also cited the dangers of "controlled burns," saying "When we aerosolize those oil droplets, they can be breathed in, which can be very damaging to the lungs, and can" irritate the eyes, throat, and cause nausea and vomiting. Early May EPA air tests in the greater Venice, LA area showed toxin levels far exceeding safe standards onshore - 100 - 1,000-fold for volatile organic carbons (VOC), including hydrogen sulfide, and other emitted chemicals.

According to Ott and other experts, if air, land and water toxicity exceeds safe levels, Washington is obligated to evacuate residents, as it would ahead of a dangerous hurricane. "The current situation is a disaster in the making," so far covered up and unaddressed.

Chemical Dispersants - Compounding the Disaster

According to the EPA:

"Dispersants have not been used extensively in the United States because of possible long term environment effects, difficulties with timely and effective application, disagreement among scientists and research date about their environmental effects, effectiveness, and toxicity concerns."

Extensive use of them (two million or more gallons so far) is a giant uncontrolled human/wildlife/ecological experiment, especially combined with oil.

Oil is toxic at 11 parts per million (ppm) while Corexit 9500 at only 2.61 ppm, and Corexit 9527 even less, the EPA calling it an acute health hazard. Its main ingredient, 2-butoxyethanol, is a dangerous neurotoxin pesticide known to cause cancer, reproductive problems, birth defects, genetic mutations, blood disorders, and damage to kidneys, liver and central nervous system.

It's not known if Corexit 9500 contains 2-butoxyethanol. Science Corps.org lists it among its toxic ingredients. For competitive reasons, Nalco, its producer, keeps its formula secret, but what's disclosed is extremely toxic, including dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS), causing severe eye and skin irritation as well as diarrhea, intestinal bloating, cramps and nausea when ingested, including by inhaling fumes. It's also cytotoxic, especially to liver cells.

Corexit also contain arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, cyanide, and other heavy metals. Dispersing oil with it increases toxicity 11-fold, suggesting a calamitous looming public health disaster, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of area residents and in other states if toxins spread by rains. More on that below.

Containing solvents, surfactants (surface active agents), and other toxins, dispersants make oil more water soluble by breaking its surface tension. Once done, it sinks, stays suspended in deep water, and collects on the seabed where shellfish and other organisms feed, in turn becoming food for other sea life, then humans.

What fish and animals eat, people do, including all toxins they ingest. It's why the National Academy of Sciences warns about "insufficient understanding of the fate (and effects) of dispersed oil in aquatic ecosystems," perhaps destroying them entirely, making Gulf seafood unsafe to eat and dozens of area communities hazardous to live in.

Science Corps.org lists the following potential health damage to humans and wildlife from dispersants:

"respiratory system, liver, kidneys, circulatory system, immune system, musculoskeletal system, skin and integumentary system, nervous system, including the brain, reproductive/urogenital system, endocrine system, gastrointestinal system, sensory systems, hematopoietic system (blood forming), (and) disruption of normal metabolism."

Damaging these systems can cause "a wide range of diseases and conditions....some immediately evident, others....appear(ing) months or years later."

Especially vulnerable are people with serious pre-existing conditions; infants, children, and fetuses; pregnant women, especially carrying multiple fetuses; and people working or living in environments causing health stresses or exposure to other toxins.

"Crude oil's toxic ingredients (alone) can damage every system in the body." Combined with dispersants, the potential risk increases exponentially.

Natural Gas Containing Methane - A Potentially Far Greater Threat

Natural gas contains from 75 - 90% methane. It's also a constituent of oil, about 40% of Macondo well emissions, compared to around 5% in other deposits, creating a potentially far greater disaster, including:

-- oxygen-depleted "dead zones" throughout the Gulf in which animal and plant life can't survive; and

-- a possible "massive bubble trapped for thousands of years under the Gulf of Mexico sea floor," warns DK Matai, exploding and unleashing a high-speed "tsunami" endangering the entire Gulf coastline, especially Florida,
followed by a "second tsunami via vaporization," producing a massive hot cavity able to vaporize water into steam, causing another seabed rupture.

Terrance Aym calls it a possible, though low probability, "world-killing event....an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years."

Biochemical engineer Gregory Ryskin suggests "oceans periodically produce massive eruptions of explosive methane gas," based on scientific evidence, the last mass extinction occurring 55 million years ago. Other geologist agree that "The consequences of a methane-driven oceanic eruption for marine and terrestrial life are likely to be catastrophic."

Warning signs include large seabed fissures, a rise in seafloor elevation, and "the massive venting of methane and other gases....All....occurring in the Gulf," the Macondo well its epicenter in which methane is pressurized at 100,000 pounds psi. Other fissures have also been spotted as distant as 30 miles from ground zero.

"Most disturbing of all: Methane levels in the water are now calculated as being almost one million times higher than normal." If the bubble erupts, "every ship, drilling rig and structure (in its vicinity) will immediately sink," killing everyone on them.

Then, "the ocean bottom will collapse....displacing up to a trillion cubic feet of water (creating) a towering supersonic tsunami annihilating everything" in its path, depositing a lethal chemical cocktail, a potential doomsday scenario that can happen suddenly, perhaps soon.

Toxic Rain

On July 24, a Juliyanna written Rense.com article headlined, "Bonnie Drops Toxic BP Rain - More Plants Dying," accessed through the following link:

http://rense.com/general91/bonnide.htm

It discussed light, short Key Largo, FL rain from tropical storm Bonnie as it passed over south Florida, destroying a Jasmine plant two hours after it fell.

"The plant was a healthy young plant" grown to five feet, eight inches. After rain hit its leaves, they "crumpled and fell off on the ground," the tree left with "a huge burned brown spot and then there is this white stuff on the other leaves as well." The tree's flowers were also affected, left "sagging and falling off."

Her yard's other trees weren't harmed, "so it appears the more exotic tender plants get damaged much easier," apparently from toxic rain likely affecting other coastal areas.

No wonder experts like Ricki Ott say Gulf hazards warrant evacuation, the alternative being long-term exposure to greater health and well-being risks than anyone should take.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Prospects and Consequences of Attacking Iran

Prospects and Consequences of Attacking Iran - by Stephen Lendman

Hopefully its folly will prevent it. Otherwise, expect severe repercussions, including a considerable counterattack and disruption of regional oil supplies, further impacting a troubled global economy. So why consider it, given the December 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) saying:

"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program; (perhaps it never had one); we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons..." True or not, dozens of nations may consider one, for defense, not offense in a hostile world, America and Israel the main aggressors, threatening humanity with their weapons of mass destruction.

The NIE also said:

"We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop (them).

Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop (them) than we have been judging since 2005."

Expect a new NIE update later this summer, hopefully with similar conclusions, then Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair saying so to Congress before his dismissal, perhaps why he was sacked, a "mistake" his successor, General James Clapper, won't make, but what's coming isn't certain, given influential forces on both sides in America, the same ones arguing them for years. Yet beyond saber-rattling rhetoric and sanctions, the administration's position is unclear.

Posturing and Provocations

Besides Washington and Israeli rhetoric, the Security Council (on June 9) imposed new sanctions on Iran, followed by America and EU nations adding others, banning transfers of refining, liquefaction, and liquid natural gas technology as well as on trade, finance, Iranian banks, transport, and against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

In addition, some large western insurers won't cover Iranian shipping, deputy manager of the Iranian company Sea Pars, Mohammad Rounaghi, saying "most ports will refuse them entry if they are not covered for possible damages."

Not according to Mohammad Hussein Dajmar, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) saying, "The world has many ports. We will sail to those nations that want to do business with us," among them China, Russia, India, Venezuela, and Brazil, important trading partners.

In early May, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, affirming his nation's compliance, IAEA inspections confirming it, its chief, Yukiya Amano, saying Tehran hasn't diverted nuclear materials for weapons, though he can't "confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities," a contradiction on its face.

In contrast, non-signatories Israel, India and Pakistan are nuclear outlaws. In addition, in 1970, when NPT was implemented, (189 nations are now parties), the five acknowledged powers - America, Russia, China, Britain and France - agreed to stringent safeguards for their commercial programs in return for progressively dismantling existing stockpiles. To date, there's little change, America asserting the preemptive right to use them against any perceived threat, a clear NPT violation and danger to global stability.

In his January 27 State of the Union address, Obama said:

"the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated....as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They....will face growing consequences. That is a promise" - so far, just rhetoric and sanctions, and according to Council for Foreign Relations senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Steven A. Cook, in a June 9, 2009 Foreign Policy op-ed, if Israel(i) (and by inference Washington) leaders were going to strike, they would not be broadcasting it to the world."

They're saber-rattling instead, reports saying Washington is stockpiling bunker-buster bombs in Diego Garcia (about 1,000 miles south of India). In addition, Egypt let an Israeli submarine and 11 US warships, including an aircraft carrier, sail through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea. A deliberate provocation ahead of a planned false flag attack? It bears watching as events are fluid, the most recent House Resolution 1553 on July 22:

"Expressing Support for the State of Israel's right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel."

It was referred to committee, endorsed by nearly one-third of House Republicans, but not by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, or other top Pentagon officials.

Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski told the Senate that a domestic terrorist attack might be falsely blamed on Iran, and Rep. Ron Paul said he's concerned about "a contrived Gulf of Tonkin-type incident....to gain popular support for an attack on Iran." Russian analyst Alexei Vlasov disagrees, saying a "military operation on Iran" is just rumor.

The UK-Based Oxford Research Group (ORG)

ORG advocates for "non-military resolution of global conflict(s), combin(ing) in-depth political and technical expertise (with) serious analysis, dialogue and change."

In July, it published a Paul Rogers Briefing Paper titled, "Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects," concluding that:

"military action....should be ruled out as a means of responding to (Iran's) possible nuclear weapons ambitions. The consequences of such an attack would lead to a sustained conflict and regional instability that would....unlikely....prevent (Tehran's) eventual acquisition....and might even encourage it" for self-defense.

ORG believes US action is unlikely, but Israel's belligerence has increased, at least rhetorically, given its own voices on both sides, saner ones knowing the folly. Worrisome, however, is the IDF's improved strike capabilities, its "newly developed ability to conduct major attacks" with long-range aircraft, drones and improved tanker aircraft as well as "the probable availability of support facilities in north-east Iraq and Azerbaijan....increas(ing its) potential for action against Iran."

Israeli extremists say Iran is a threat, despite no confirming evidence, Tehran calling its commercial program legitimate. So do dozens of other nations, America and Israel included, despite continued rhetorical threats.

In February 2006, ORG published a study titled, "Iran, Consequences of a War," analyzing its possible outcomes, assuming that:

"any military action by the United States or Israel would have as its function the inflicting of severe damage on Iran's nuclear installations and medium-range missile programmes (sic), while, in the case of the United States, endeavoring to pre-empt any damaging Iranian response."

It also assumed no attempted regime change, just an action to destroy Iran's nuclear sites, supportive research, and retaliation capability, knowing Tehran "would have methods of responding....includ(ing) disruption of Gulf oil production and exports, (and by supporting) insurgents in Iraq (and) Southern Lebanon....A military operation against Iran....would set in motion a complex and long-lasting confrontation. It follows that (it) should be firmly ruled out and alternative strategies developed."

Today, ORG thinks an American attack is less likely, Israel posing a greater threat. Yet with November congressional elections approaching, neocon and other right-wing circles claim Iran is "a much greater threat to US regional and global interests than Iraq ever was." However, in March 2003, it was believed "if we get Iraq right, we won't have to worry about Iran," suggesting a convincing victory would cow Teheran into submission.

Iraq, however, is far from "right," and won't ever be under occupation. Attacking Iran compounds it disastrously, yet right-wing US hardliners and the Israeli Lobby want it. "While the Obama administration seems unlikely at present to consider military action, its rhetoric has certainly become far tougher," so far confined to posturing and sanctions.

Israel's Military Posture

Besides a nuclear capability of 200 or more warheads, it can deliver them by aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, and possibly submarine-launched cruise missiles. "Israel currently has three German-built Dolphin-class submarines with two more" to be delivered in 2012.

In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq's Osiraq reactor, and in September 2007 attacked a suspected (not proved) Syrian nuclear site. Using long-range versions US F-15 and F-16 aircraft (the F-15I Ra'am and F-16I Sufa), some reportedly with conformal fuel tanks for increased range, and backup tanker planes, Iran is within reach.

In addition, "Israel has been a leading developer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), used mainly for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), the Hermit 450" a deployable variant armed with Hellfire missiles with an endurance up to 20 hours. A new UAV, the Eitan, is Israel's largest - "a 4,000 Kg high-altitude drone with a range of over 7,400 km (4,600 miles), an endurance of 36 hours, and a maximum payload of 2,000 kg."

Israel has also been involved in various operations in Iraq, especially training Kurdish commandos in the northeast, close to the Iranian border.

Besides its considerable military program, America supplies billions of dollars in annual aid, including state-of-the-art weapons and technology. It's acknowledged that Israel needs Washington's consent to attack, unilaterally or collaboratively. Doing so would involve over-flying US-controlled air space, likely via Iraq.

Despite being oil and gas rich, Iran wants (and is entitled to) a commercial nuclear capability for electricity - along with 30 other countries as of June 2010, including America, Canada, 15 European nations, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Japan and China, their programs encouraged, not opposed. Iran, alone, incurs hostility because of its suspected (not verified) military ambitions.

For years, Israel claimed Tehran is a year or two away from acquiring capability, the CIA waffling in its estimate, director Leon Panetta recently telling ABC News enough uranium is now available for two bombs, and within two years Iran will be able to deliver them. However, others inside the Agency disagree, and kidnapped Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri said Iran has no nuclear weapons program, despite high pressure to get him to say so.

At best, "all that can be said is that Iran is slowly developing the technologies and personnel (to) handle a range of nuclear-related systems." If it wants a nuclear arsenal, "three to seven years from now might be an appropriate estimate, the seven-year period being the time required to produce perhaps six usable weapons."

However, no evidence shows intent, despite rhetoric suggesting otherwise. In addition, at this time, Iran's fuel cycle is under safeguards. If not, it "would set off a major international alert many months before (it) would be able to convert the material into a weapon," or be able to have shadow facilities for large quantities of fuel through mining, milling, uranium conversion, enrichment, fabrication and weaponization.

Iran does have an ongoing ballistic missile program, ranging from short to long-range solid fuel systems. Until recently, its longest was the Shahab-3 able to hit targets up to 1,000 km away, short of reaching Israel. It's also developed a longer-range 1,600 km capability Ghadr-1 missile able to strike the Jewish state, but it's believed few so far have been produced.

Ahead may be more powerful solid fuel ballistic missiles, the Sajjil, able to reach targets up to 2,400 km away and carry a similar payload to the Ghadr-1. Tests have been conducted, but no reliable reports confirm deployments. It's estimated five years will be required to produce Sajjils in large numbers, Iran believing it needs a strong defense knowing "regimes to the east (Afghanistan) and west (Iraq) of it were terminated by large-scale (US) military action," Washington and Israel suggesting Tehran may be next.

If so, likely targets would be the following:

-- uranium enrichment plants, including their scientific and technical staff, especially near Natanz, Iran's main enrichment facility;

-- the Esfahan uranium conversion facility;

-- nuclear research and development locations in Tehran, near Arak, and the new Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant control systems, not the reactors to prevent regional contamination;

-- factories making supportive equipment, especially involved in centrifuge production;

-- military bases with missiles capable of striking Israel, including their personnel, research, development and production facilities; and

-- physics, engineering, electronics and related university departments, and their staff, with curricula related to nuclear and missile programs.

Overall, the likely strategy would be to destroy Iran's nuclear and missile capabilities and prevent attempts to resuscitate them. The "end result would be an attack with a very broad effect," causing widespread casualties, including in Tehran.

If Israel attacks, it might first strike Hezbollah in Lebanon to prevent its retaliatory response. "There have been reliable reports that the (IDF has) developed comprehensive plans for....an all-out assault on the party's arsenals, command centres, commercial assets and strongholds throughout the country." Hezbollah may, in fact, expect one preemptively and is prepared to respond.

On July 22, the Jerusalem Post reported a planned IDF drill as part of extensive preparations for possible war with Hezbollah and Syria, the army preparing missile attacks on main roads and bases as well as infantry and armored force invasions, anticipating south Lebanon the main battleground, Hezbollah's stronghold with command centers and weapons depots.

If attacked, Iran will also respond, including by withdrawing from NPT under Article X provisions based on "extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty (that) have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country." In addition, prioritizing nuclear weapons development to deter future attacks would be likely, including in below-ground secret facilities, reportedly under construction.

Other actions, over time, might include the following:

-- missile attacks against Israeli and US forces in Iraq;

-- Straits of Hormuz blockage to disrupt oil shipments, causing a sharp rise in prices, "potentially catastrophic" on a weak global economy;

-- attacks on western Gulf oil production, processing and transportation facilities - essentially soft targets despite greater security; and

-- support for Iraq and Afghanistan resistance fighters.

The Iranian public and Arab street would be supportive, perceiving Israel as a US client state, and Washington a regional menace.

"Perhaps the most important aspect of an Israel(i) attack (is) that it would almost certainly be the beginning of a long-term process of regular air strikes to further prevent the development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems," Israel and Washington believing once initiated, "it could not easily stop." Over time, Iran would respond accordingly, embroiling the entire region in conflict with catastrophic longer-term consequences.

At the same time, expect the unexpected, perhaps involving Lebanon, Syria, and regional state responses, depending on a protracted conflict's instability - not preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; in fact, likely encouraging it.

These "dangerous consequences (clearly) militate against military action," leaving two alternative paths:

-- more robust diplomacy for peace and the prospect of a nuclear-free Middle East; and/or

-- accept an eventual nuclearized Iran, using it to start "a process of balanced regional denuclearisation," knowing the risks - an unwilling Israel and the possibility it will encourage regional proliferation, a certainty if Israel and/or Washington attacks Iran.

The catastrophic consequences of doing so makes avoiding it essential. The alternative is unthinkable.

A Final Comment

Author/political critic Webster Tarpley sees the worst in his July 21 article titled, "Obama Is Preparing to Bomb Iran," saying we approached this abyss in summer 2007, escaped, and now face it again, quoting Zbigniew Brzezinski's remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2007 saying:

"If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination....is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the (Islamic) world....at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision....involves Iraqi failure to meet benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for (it); then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran; culminating in a 'defensive' US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan."

His lengthy article makes the case for war, concluding that "aggressive forces inside the United States think they have a much freer hand" than earlier, the Brzezinski cooler head faction losing ground to extremist neocons, strengthened by the possibility of General David Petraeus elected president in 2012.

He also believes the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), when released, will be "fixed around the desired war policy," coming likely during "the dark of the moon," perhaps an October 7 surprise. His advice - it's time for "persons of good will (to) get active, (otherwise) radioactive."

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, avoiding a regional or possible world war, perhaps to divert attention from the deepening economic depression.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gazans Denied Medical Care Under Siege

Gazans Denied Medical Care under Siege - by Stephen Lendman

Two recent reports discuss it, a July Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-IL) one titled, "A Situation Report on Obstacles Facing Gaza Residents in Need of Medical Treatment," and a June one titled, "Who Gets to Go," jointly prepared by PHR-IL, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. All cite Israeli medical ethics and international law violations by discriminating on the basis of need, denying adequate treatment to seriously ill Gazans by:

-- preventing the restoration and development of the Strip's healthcare system; and

-- restricting travel to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, or neighboring countries for treatment.

In its July report, PHR-IL said Gaza's healthcare system is getting progressively worse "due to a lack of medical expertise, medicine(s) and medical equipment," the ICRC recently saying it's "at an all time low."

In June, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Israel blocked delivery of essential equipment, including a CT scanner, defibrillators and monitors. In addition, the Palestinian Health Ministry said Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines, donated by a Norwegian development agency, and blocked x-ray machine deliveries, claiming they were dual-use, meaning possibly for military purposes.

As a result, critical shortages of most everything exist, including vital medicines, essential equipment, and other supplies expected to run out this summer, harming chronic disease sufferers the most, hampered by draconian impediments for permission to leave Gaza for treatment - what PHR-IL calls "an inexcusable breach of medical ethics" based on political, not medical considerations, most non-life threatening cases denied, including ones PHR-IL calls urgent, such as for:

"Paraplegia; retinal detachement; SLE (Lupus); foreign body in vitreous; subluxated lens; chronic severe febrile anemia; fever(s) of unknown origin (FUO); traumatic macular hole; psychomotor retardation; anemia; suspected abdominal abnormal vascular pressure; suspected chronic intestinal disease; psedoarthrosis (non-union of fractured bones) - arms, hand; infected plate - hip; deformation of cornea; recurrent dislocation of shoulder; lumbar discopathy; opacity of vitreous; (and) malformation of urinary tract."

Numerous other non-urgent/non-life-threatening ones are also denied, some chronic, severe, painful and/or disabling, badly in need of treatment, including a 24 year old Gaza resident shot in the arm in October 2007, unable to use his hand because of atrophied muscle tissue around the wound area.

As a result, he suffers severe pain, orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Yosef Leitner, saying a tendon transfer is the only hope to restore proper hand functioning, Gaza's Al Shifaa Hospital (the Strip's largest and most advanced) with neither the means or staff to perform it.

In August 2009, an exit request was submitted to receive treatment in East Jerusalem's Al Makassed Hospital. Initially denied, it was appealed and again denied - unprincipled, unethical, illegal, and common practice against Gazans under siege, PHR-IL saying:

"....all patients are entitled to the best available medical treatment, regardless of the urgency....or the severity of their clinical state," legitimate distinctions only permissible in cases of limited resources (such as after a natural disaster), even then for the shortest time possible to restore proper care to everyone in need.

Under international law, denying medical care is illegal, Fourth Geneva's Article 3 saying all non-combatants and those having laid down their arms "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely" with no distinctions for any reasons.

Article 16 states:

"The wounded and sick, as well as the infirm, and expectant mothers, shall be the object of particular protection and respect."

The UN's Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment prohibits mistreatment in any form (including denying medical treatment), as do the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Constitution of the International Criminal Court (the Rome Statute), and civilized countries globally, Israel and America not among them.

An Israeli Supreme Court decision provides an example, approving restrictions to exit Gaza for treatment, with narrow exceptions, ignored by government officials because the ruling left final authority in their hands, an easy cop-out to permit cruel and unusual punishment to continue, what PHR-IL calls "routine, permanent policy," unethical, immoral, illegal, and deplorable.

Medical training outside Gaza is also denied, Fatah in charge of Ramallah's Health Ministry, collaborating with Israel against its own people, blocking training and treatment of many, persecuting and abusing many more, acting as Israel's enforcer, its duplicitous, self-serving agenda.

In addition, Israel prohibits its own or foreign doctors entering Gaza to provide treatment or professional training. Its authorities rejected two recent requests for a Ramallah Musallam Center team to come, to perform eye surgery and cornea transplants, most patients in need rejected or subjected to long delays.

For the past year, PHR-IL medical delegations were denied entry to Gaza, ones operating in 2008 as part of its Mobile Clinic, providing treatment, surgeries, medications, training, counseling, and referring patients for follow-up treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Repressive Security Services

In 2009, Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, interrogated over 600 of the thousands of Gazans applying for treatment exit permission. Usually, patients are summoned "after their hospital appointment date(s) passed," causing them to lose out and have to reschedule. In addition, many face "threats and extortion....health (for) ransom," collaborate or be denied, a choice most won't accept.

In other cases, Shin Bet summons patients to Erez Crossing (on the pretext of permission to leave), arresting and detaining them instead - a Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) worker as well, part of a paramedic/ambulance driver team en route to a Ramallah training course, arrested and imprisoned in Israel.

In January 2010, Adalah complained officially to Israel's Attorney General, the Prime Minister's office saying:

"The State of Israel reserves the right to detain elements who seek medical treatments in Israel following information that they are terror activists or that their entry to Israel might pose a security risk," common Israeli boilerplate - disingenuous, duplicitous, and dishonest justification for repressive state policy, including against seriously ill patients and medical workers providing care.

Israeli also denies quality care outside Gaza and the West Bank, even in East Jerusalem where treatment is better. In some cases, follow-up permission is denied (including for rehabilitation) for those initially allowed in, leaving them in limbo, unable to get what they need.

Dr. Danny Rozin, an internal medicine expert at Israel's Sheba Medical Center, said the following:

"It is important to understand that in many cases providing a complete, effective treatment requires more than a one-time appointment and many patients need follow-up, post-surgery checks, or an additional medical or rehabilitative treatment....The lack of continuity might bring about a failure of treatment in part or in full and resources allocated to treat patients might go down the drain. Sometimes there is also a real danger that the patient will suffer functional damage or even lose his life....Preventing the continuity of treatment harms patients and is inconsistent with the many efforts made by medical staff to provide full and optimal care."

It also violates international law and medical ethics, what Israeli authorities disdain and spurn. PHR-IL says it's illogical and inconsistent that a patient given permission "suddenly becomes a security threat" and is denied. It reinforces the notion that politics and repressive policy are at issue, not security, a duplicitous red herring.

Israel further denies permission for West Bank treatment, saying patients might stay with their families - their legal right, unrelated to security, entirely state-sanctioned repression, part of enforcing Gaza's siege.

Another part involves confiscating patients' belongings on returning home after treatment, forced on reentry to leave behind whatever they bought or were given, including medical equipment, clothing, toys and other non-threatening items - another way to harass and intimidate.

A Final Comment

As a result of Israel's post-January 2006 embargo, its siege since June 2007, Cast Lead, regular incursions, and its longstanding collective punishment policy, Gaza's healthcare system is "at an all time low." Many of the Strip's sick and injured lack proper care, or enough, in violation of medical ethics and international law explicitly prohibiting these practices.

"As an occupying power, (Israel bears full) responsibility for the health of Gaza's residents," including to treatment outside the Strip, unconditionally without constraints, authorities denying it as collective punishment - prohibited under international law, what, throughout its history, Israel disdainfully spurned.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.