By Umm Murtaza
Islamic Post Staff Writer
The Israeli navy recently seized a ship intent on gaining access to the heavily guarded Gaza Strip. After capture, the ship was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
The humanitarian vessel, which sailed from the Lebanese port, Tripoli, was dubbed the “brotherhood ship” and carried aid from mainly Arab and Lebanese charities for Gaza. There were approximately 60 tons of supplies aboard, including medicine, food, toys and books. Among the twenty some-odd passengers was a Syrian catholic priest, a Greek catholic priest Hillarion Cappuccion, a Muslim cleric and several Arab journalists.
Israeli authorities stated the vessel was not authorized, however, to enter Gaza and that the ship tried to “sneak” into the guarded waters of the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reported Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as saying. Israel states the blockade of Gaza is a response to repeated Hamas attacks on southern Israel, also that they were led to believe the ship was a “threat to security” possibly smuggling weapons “into and out of the Gaza Strip,” the New York Times reported. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora stated that the boat had nothing to do with smuggling weapons and condemned the Israeli actions as a “blatant attack”.
Free Gaza organizers helped in Cyprus to get the boat inspected by local authorities before sailing for Gaza.
It is said that the Israeli Navy opened fire prior to boarding and, after gaining access, beat some of the passengers. The Israelis deny charges stating that “no guns were fired.” However, before the phone connections were cut, gunfire could be heard in the background via telephone and the subsequent reports were aired by the stations of the journalists on board.
Israel maintains strict control of Gaza’s access to the outside world. They insist that they will not permit cash, steel or any other substance that could be used to make weapons for use against Israelis by Hamas. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora stated: “The same Israel that commits massacres against innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza is not ashamed to assault a ship carrying humanitarian supplies.
Maan Bashour, a pro-Palestinian Lebanese involved with the organization of the trip told Associated Press “There will be more boats”, “We will keep sending them”.
On March 9, the convoy Viva Palestina of the Free Gaza Movement crossed without incident into Gaza at 3.30 p.m. “We have broken the barriers, we have opened closed borders, we have defied the odds, we have overcome the challenges across thousands of miles and three continents. We are here to be with you, to embrace you, to share your tragedy with you,” read the statement.
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Latino/Caribe | Tags: Gaza, Venezuela
A strong message of condemnation for Israel’s military aggression came as Israel’s ambassador to Venezuela was expelled along with some embassy staff. In a statement issued by Venezuela’s foreign ministry, Israel was accused of violating international law and of having planned to use state terrorism against the Palestinian population. Miami Herald reported from Adrian Bonilla, director of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador, “There is a tradition in Latin America of rejecting violence to solve any international conflict.”
Ambassador Schlomo Cohen left the country on Friday, January 9th after having called the expulsion “the most difficult moment in the more than 50-year history of relations between Venezuela and Israel.” President Chavez, contrastingly, called it a “gesture of dignity”, thereby sending a message to the world that military actions which resulted in hundreds of Palestinian civilian deaths were unacceptable. On state television, Chavez asked “How far will the barbarism go?”
Also unacceptable, as stated by UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, were Israeli attacks on UN schools which killed 46 civilians and injured at least 150, at the time of this report. In a public statement, he said, “These attacks by Israeli military forces which endanger facilities acting as places of refuge are totally unacceptable and must not be repeated” and that “a substantial number of civilians have been killed.” The statement also pointed out that “The locations of all UN facilities have been communicated to the Israeli authorities and are known to the Israeli army.” The clearly marked UN facilities were serving as safe havens for civilians seeking refuge from the violence in Gaza, according to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) director, John Ging. The shelling was reported in The Jerusalem Post to be in response to Hamas Gunmen who used the complex to fire on Israeli targets. Although, the UN agency insisted that there were no Hamas gunmen on the school grounds, only civilians seeking refuge.
Despite this, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Captain Ishai David denied that the incident was caused by erroneous Israeli shelling. David said, “We are still sticking by our official position that according to our initial inquiry, the whole thing started when terrorists fired mortar shells from the school compound”.
UN spokesman Christopher Gunness asserted that the Israeli army admitted in private briefings that militant fire came, not from the school, but from somewhere outside of the school compound. This and other incidents caused civilian deaths and gruesome injuries including, numerous amputations. These have been the cause of international outrage echoed throughout Latin America.
Protests have taken place throughout the world, in Argentina, Bolivia, and El Salvador. In Chile, President Michelle Bachelet called for a stop of actions from both sides, while the Chilean foreign ministry strongly condemned Israeli raids on Gaza. The governments of Guatemala and Colombia also called on Israel to end fighting. Brazil’s foreign policy advisor, Marco Aurelio Garcia, described the attacks as “state terrorism”, while Foreign Minister Celso Amorim called Israeli military action a “disproportional” answer to Hamas rocket attacks. At the time of the statements’ publishing, Ten Israelis were reported to have died compared to over 1000 Palestinians killed and over 3000 injured. Brazil subsequently sent 14 tons of food and medical aid, its Foreign ministry said.
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Magazine/ Culture, Poetry | Tags: Gaza
By Ahmad Qadri
Islamic Post Staff Writer
O people of the world
wherever you may be.
If in God you do believe.
Let’s come together in solidarity to end the atrocities.
Listen, Oppressors of the World.
Keep this in mind.
God is never on your side…
In Palestine hundreds of children die. Why?
Tell me what is the infant’s Crime?
Where are her weapons?
Where are her Guns?
How could she run from a Bomb of two tons?
Hundreds of men, women and Children
blown into hundreds of little pieces.
Do you hear them crying? Do you see them Bleeding?
Those babies are not sleeping; don’t you see they’re not breathing!
O Israel many children died in the holocaust this is true,
Many innocent Palestinian children are dying too…
We ask you, ‘What Would Anne Frank Do?’
O Palestine, when you cry, the world cries.
When you bleed, the world bleeds!
We are all truly one body.
Hundreds of children are dying.
Tell me, what is the infant’s crime?
Where are her weapons?
Where are her Guns?
How can she run from a bomb of two tons?
Stop what is for a democracy a shame.
You cannot murder thousands of innocent people
to justify the killing of one extremist.
The world is watching this,
they’re calling it ridiculous.
O people of the world!
We lament a loss of Peace we may never again see,
As long as the blood of the Innocent,
is used to fertilize the Holy lands of the olive tree.
O people of the world!
The laws of the Geneva Convention are being brought to extinction.
Human rights have been shredded and Universal Declarations.
Completely discarded are the UN Charters.
And blown up was the United Nations Building in Gaza.
Then phosphorous on civilians. Phosphorous! On children?
O Christians! O Muslims! O people of the Ten Commandments.
O people of the world! Congratulate your conscience,
with protests you shared the feeling of seeing your children shot, bleeding and dying
O Israel! How many more innocent ones must die before you realize?
O Oppressor, God is never on your side.
What is the infant’s crime?
She’s bleeding to death.
She blew out her last breath, in her mother’s arms.
Tears run like rain, with intense pain from her mother’s eyes,
to mix with her babies blood.
Tell us, O Israel what has this child done?
Is it because she was born a PALESTINIAN?
Where are her weapons?
Where are her guns?
How can she run?
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, National, Politics | Tags: congress, Gaza
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: “In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor.
I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone’. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me.
I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor.
She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end did not vote in favor.”
By Noora Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, openly told of his influence in American politics during a speech made in Israel on January 12, in which he claimed to have directly influenced the United States vote on the U.N. Security Council, which instance was reported by both The Agence France Press (AFP) and The Associated Press: “I told him [George Bush] the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution [U.N. 1860]. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor.”
Condoleezza Rice, however, countered to the Bloomberg news agency: “I don’t know if the prime minister was – I hope – quoted out of context, because the story that I read in the newspaper is fiction.”
Regardless of the veracity of Prime Minister Olmert’s account, AFP continued its report by noting the outgoing U.S. President, and his administration, to have “consistently placed the blame for the conflict on Hamas, telling reporters… that while he wanted to see a ‘sustainable ceasefire’ in Gaza, it was up to Hamas to choose to end its rocket fire on Israel.”
The Congress, a branch of government initiated to represent the American people in an independent manner from the White House in the system of democratic checks and balances, upheld the position of George W. Bush in this scenario by passing a resolution on January 9 with a 90% majority vote expressing “vigorous support and unwavering commitment” for Israel, laying the “blame both for the breaking of the `calm’ and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas;” but quoting but Prime Minister Olmert, not the former president, when the Israeli head of state asserted: “The operation in the Gaza Strip is designed, first and foremost, to bring about an improvement in the security reality for the residents of the south of the country.”
Only five members of Congress (10%) seemed to have represented the flood of Americans who protested against the Israeli aggression. The representatives who voted “Nay” included Representative Dennis Kucinich (Democrat- Ohio), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), Rep. Maxine Waters (D- CA), and Rep. Ronald Paul (R-TX).*
In a stroke of irony, according to recorded numbers of those protesting the Israeli offensive (for or against), the American people would have voted almost exactly the opposite as did Congress. Out of the 60,100 people recorded to have protested in the United States regarding the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip, only about 10% (6100) protested in favor of Israel, whereas 54,000 are on record as having protested against Israeli policy and for Palestinian human rights in various U.S. cities. Approximately 90% of the protestors ‘voted’ against Israeli excesses, whereas 90% of Congress felt the actions of the occupying forces to be correct.
United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning the Israeli offensive wholeheartedly, and demanding a return to the 1967 borders with the Palestinian capital being East Jerusalem. Shortly afterward, the U.N. headquarters in Gaza were bombed by Israel.
*(Whereas the Congressional numbers include the abstentions, making the actual percentage of “Nays,” in comparison to our study which does not include abstentions, 13%.)
-Abdul Hameed Abdul Azeez contributed to this report.
By Saudah Umm Nur
Islamic Post Staff Writer
Israel purposefully shot a missile at a UN school. Many people, including children, were killed and injured. Those are the facts. Al Jazeera reported that as such, but CNN’s 6pm headlines the evening of the attacks read, “Israel: Hamas mortars led to attack near U.N. school…”
Major US television channels and other media, especially print, display huge disparity in the method, frequency and accuracy of reports of Palestinian deaths, despite the reality that Palestinian casualties outnumbered Israeli’s by 100 to 1. The disparity has only increased.
In 2004 If Americans Knew issued its report card, entitled, “Deadly Distortion, Associated Press Coverage of Israeli and Palestinian Deaths”. The report used grafts and detailed analysis to illustrate the broad disparity between reports of Israeli and Palestinian deaths, casualties and incarcerations.
Summary of Data
In an al Jazeera article by Habib Battah, entitled, In US, Gaza is a Different War, Mr. Battah writes about 2 pictures of women on the front page of The Washington Post recently:
On the left was a Palestinian mother who had lost five children. On the right was a nearly equally sized picture of an Israeli woman who was distressed by the fighting, according to the caption.
As the Palestinian woman cradled the dead body of one child, another infant son, his face blackened and disfigured with bruises, cried beside her.
The Israeli woman did not appear to be wounded in any way but also wept. If an Israeli woman had lost five daughters in a Palestinian attack, would The Washington Post run an equally sized photograph of a relatively unharmed Palestinian woman, who was merely distraught over Israeli missile fire?
Israeli children’s deaths were covered at a rate 7.5 times greater than Palestinian
In every conflict so far, the Israelis have methodically slaughtered the Palestinians and have only paused due to political expedience. The recent worldwide protests and the international outrage after the bombing of the UN school has once again forced Israel to concede the possibility of allowing Humanitarian aid to come into the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli aggression is so vicious that even without accurate reporting of all the details, the international community is mobilizing to demand justice for the Palestinian people.
-Source: If Americans Knew is dedicated to providing full and accurate information to the American public on topics of importance that are underreported or misreported in the American media.
By Abu Rashid
Islamic Post Staff Writer
The media networks have recently been saturated with graphic accounts of the atrocities perpetrated by Israeli aggressors against thousands of defenceless civilians in Palestine. It would seem the Zionists have been given a license to destroy any entity they deem a threat to their ideology, without regard for civilian lives. A glaring example occurred when Israel bombed the U.N. headquarters in Gaza. Shortly after, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning the Israeli offensive wholeheartedly and demanding a return to the 1967 borders.
Israel initially claimed Hamas terrorists were hiding within the U.N. compound shooting rockets, but later claimed the bombing was in error. Only U.N. staff and Palestinian civilians seeking refuge in the compound were present there.
The bombing of the compound was investigated and reported as unprovoked. Reuter’s bureau chief for the Israeli and Palestinian territories, Allistair MacDonald, stated that no-one from the UNRWA fired upon Israeli soldiers, despite Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert’s initial claim that Hamas troops fired from within the compound. “Nonsense!” was the response from a U.N. official on hearing Olmert’s claim.
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency says a process of accountability must take place to achieve justice for all the overwhelming death and destruction that has occurred as a consequence of the military incursion into Gaza. UNRWA says the process must be credible and must address the legitimate allegations of both the Israelis and Palestinians.
However, the assault in Palestine did not begin with the recent invasion of Palestine. Modern historical accounts, diagramming the rise of Israel, detail the tactics of the Zionist pioneers who would expedite their plan by exterminating innocent indigenous Muslims and Christians, pillaging their villages as they exiled them from their own land. In the case of Gaza, they corralled a grossly oppressed people for months, depriving them of the simplest of needs and then while imprisoned with no means of escape, shelled them to the verge of extinction. While the Nazi campaign of cruelty will never be forgotten, these Gestapo tactics are denied to be war crimes.
Unfortunately, as UNRWA director of operations in Gaza, John Ging notes, after 18 months of blockade and devastation, there are more extremists now, at the end of the conflict, than there were at the start, as the Palestinians do not believe they will get justice; they do not believe the rule of law applies to them. He said the international community must prove them wrong; it is most important to have an independent, objective, and credible investigation, while condemning the Israeli violence in the strongest terms, and demanding that the perpetrators be punished.
Yet the question remains: Is this a struggle for the survival of two peoples or a struggle for the survival of Islam and Zionism? Most often, the shouts, slogans, and banners in Gaza and throughout Palestine vocalize a resounding “There is no God but Allah and God is Great.” But for the acutely observant Muslim, there is a blatant absence of “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” This serious deletion is not a mistake; anyone who has researched the history of Al Islam knows beyond a doubt, that it was the fervor of unwavering belief in the Sovereignty of the Almighty Creator, coupled with devoted love for the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (May Allah’s peace by upon him), and emulation of his noble character and example, in letter and spirit, that has always been the ideological antidote that neutralized the societal poisons of falsehood, oppression, religious hatred, and segregation.
-Islamic Post researchers contributed to this report.
Last month Israel’s cruelty against Palestinian civilians reached untold heights when the Israeli navy threatened to kill thirty unarmed civilians aboard a mercy ship on its way to deliver medical supplies and doctors to besieged Gaza. The Free Gaza Movement ship, Spirit Of Humanity, left Cyprus carrying doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and parliamentarians. The ship also carried over a ton of desperately needed medicines donated by the European Campaign to Break the Siege, and intended for overwhelmed hospitals in the Gaza Strip. At the request of the ship’s organizers the passenger list and manifest were publicly released, and Cypriot authorities searched the boat prior to its departure in order to certify that it only carried humanitarian items. The organizers also sent an official notification to the Israeli government of their intent to break through the blockade of Gaza. Unfortunately, while in international waters 100 miles off the coast of Gaza, at least five Israeli gunboats surrounded the Spirit Of Humanity and began recklessly cutting in front of the slow-moving civilian craft. The Israeli warships radioed the Spirit, demanding that the ship turn around or they would open fire and “shoot.” When asked if the Israeli navy was acknowledging that they intended to commit a war crime by deliberately firing on unarmed civilians, the warships replied that they were prepared to use “any means” to stop the ship.
Members of Free Gaza consider the Israeli Navy’s action a deliberate act of cruelty as “It could have been easily confirmed that neither we, the cargo, any of the boat’s contents, nor the boat itself constituted any threat to the security of Israel or its armed forces.” An earlier attempt by Free Gaza to deliver doctors and medical supplies ended on 30 December when Israeli gunboats deliberately and repeatedly rammed the Dignity, almost sinking that ship. Rather than endanger the lives of its passengers, the Spirit returned to Cyprus.
Israel’s reckless and shocking threats against an unarmed ship on a mission of mercy are a violation of both international maritime law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that “the high seas should be reserved for peaceful purposes.”
The Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group, sent two boats to Gaza in August 2008. These were the first international boats to land in the port in 41 years. Since August, four more voyages were successful, taking Parliamentarians, human rights workers, and other dignitaries to witness the effects of Israel’s draconian policies on the civilians of Gaza. -FreeGaza