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  • America's COVID Response Was Based on Lies
    Almost all of America's leaders have gradually pulled back their COVID mandates, requirements, and closures—even in states like California, which had imposed the most stringent and longest-lasting restrictions on the public. At the same time, the media has been gradually acknowledging the ongoing release of studies that totally refute the purported reasons behind those restrictions. This overt reversal is falsely portrayed as "learned" or "new evidence." Little acknowledgement of error is to be found. We have seen no public apology for promulgating false information, or for the vilification and delegitimization of policy experts and medical scientists like myself who spoke out correctly about data, standard knowledge about viral infections and pandemics, and fundamental biology.

    The historical record is critical. We have seen a macabre Orwellian attempt to rewrite history and to blame the failure of widespread lockdowns on the lockdowns' critics, alongside absurd denials of officials' own incessant demands for them. In the Trump administration, Dr. Deborah Birx was formally in charge of the medical side of the White House's coronavirus task force during the pandemic's first year. In that capacity, she authored all written federal policy recommendations to governors and states and personally advised each state's public health officials during official visits, often with Vice President Mike Pence, who oversaw the entire task force. Upon the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci became chief medical advisor and ran the Biden pandemic response.

    We must acknowledge the abject failure of the Birx-Fauci policies. They were enacted, but they failed to stop the dying, failed to stop the infection from spreading, and inflicted massive damage and destruction particularly on lower-income families and on America's children.

    More than 1 million American deaths have been attributed to that virus. Even after draconian measures, including school closures, stoppage of non-COVID medical care, business shutdowns, personal restrictions, and then the continuation of many restrictions and mandates in the presence of a vaccine, there was an undeniable failure—over two presidential administrations—to stop cases from rapidly escalating.

    Numerous experts—including John Ioannidis, David Katz, and myself—called for targeted protection, a safer alternative to widespread lockdowns, in national media beginning in March of 2020. That proposal was rejected. History's biggest public health policy failure came at the hands of those who recommended the lockdowns and those who implemented them, not those who advised otherwise.

    White House COVID task force
    WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx speaks as (L-R) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia... Alex Wong/Getty Images
    Your daily briefing of everything you need to know

    The tragic failure of reckless, unprecedented lockdowns that were contrary to established pandemic science, and the added massive harms of those policies on children, the elderly, and lower-income families, are indisputable and well-documented in numerous studies. This was the biggest, the most tragic, and the most unethical breakdown of public health leadership in modern history.

    In a democracy, indeed in any ethical and free society, the truth is essential. The American people need to hear the truth—the facts, free from the political distortions, misrepresentations, and censorship. The first step is to clearly state the harsh truth in the starkest possible terms. Lies were told. Those lies harmed the public. Those lies were directly contrary to the evidence, to decades of knowledge on viral pandemics, and to long-established fundamental biology.

    Here are the 10 biggest falsehoods—known for years to be false, not recently learned or proven to be so—promoted by America's public health leaders, elected and unelected officials, and now-discredited academics:

    1. SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has a far higher fatality rate than the flu by several orders of magnitude.

    2. Everyone is at significant risk to die from this virus.

    3. No one has any immunological protection, because this virus is completely new.

    4. Asymptomatic people are major drivers of the spread.

    5. Locking down—closing schools and businesses, confining people to their homes, stopping non-COVID medical care, and eliminating travel—will stop or eliminate the virus.

    6. Masks will protect everyone and stop the spread.

    7. The virus is known to be naturally occurring, and claiming it originated in a lab is a conspiracy theory.

    8. Teachers are at especially high risk.

    9. COVID vaccines stop the spread of the infection.

    10. Immune protection only comes from a vaccine.

    None of us are so naïve as to expect a direct apology from critics at my employer, Stanford University, or in government, academic public health, and the media. But to ensure that this never happens again, government leaders, power-driven officials, and influential academics and advisors often harboring conflicts of interest must be held accountable. Personally, I remain highly skeptical that any government investigation or commission can avoid politicization. Regardless of their intention, all such government-run inquiries will at least be perceived as politically motivated and their conclusions will be rejected outright by many. Those investigations must proceed, though, if only to seek the truth, to teach our children that truth matters, and to remember G.K. Chesterton's critical lesson that "Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong about it."

    Scott W. Atlas, MD is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow in health policy at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Co-Director of the Global Liberty Institute, Founding Fellow of Hillsdale's Academy for Science & Freedom, and author of A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America (Bombardier Press, 2022).

    The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

    Read more
    How Fauci Fooled America
    Untangling America from the Never-Ending COVID 'State of Emergency'
    We Need a COVID Commission

    https://www.newsweek.com/america-covid-response-was-based-lies-opinion-1785177


    https://donshafi911.blogspot.com/2024/01/americas-covid-response-was-based-on.html
    America's COVID Response Was Based on Lies Almost all of America's leaders have gradually pulled back their COVID mandates, requirements, and closures—even in states like California, which had imposed the most stringent and longest-lasting restrictions on the public. At the same time, the media has been gradually acknowledging the ongoing release of studies that totally refute the purported reasons behind those restrictions. This overt reversal is falsely portrayed as "learned" or "new evidence." Little acknowledgement of error is to be found. We have seen no public apology for promulgating false information, or for the vilification and delegitimization of policy experts and medical scientists like myself who spoke out correctly about data, standard knowledge about viral infections and pandemics, and fundamental biology. The historical record is critical. We have seen a macabre Orwellian attempt to rewrite history and to blame the failure of widespread lockdowns on the lockdowns' critics, alongside absurd denials of officials' own incessant demands for them. In the Trump administration, Dr. Deborah Birx was formally in charge of the medical side of the White House's coronavirus task force during the pandemic's first year. In that capacity, she authored all written federal policy recommendations to governors and states and personally advised each state's public health officials during official visits, often with Vice President Mike Pence, who oversaw the entire task force. Upon the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci became chief medical advisor and ran the Biden pandemic response. We must acknowledge the abject failure of the Birx-Fauci policies. They were enacted, but they failed to stop the dying, failed to stop the infection from spreading, and inflicted massive damage and destruction particularly on lower-income families and on America's children. More than 1 million American deaths have been attributed to that virus. Even after draconian measures, including school closures, stoppage of non-COVID medical care, business shutdowns, personal restrictions, and then the continuation of many restrictions and mandates in the presence of a vaccine, there was an undeniable failure—over two presidential administrations—to stop cases from rapidly escalating. Numerous experts—including John Ioannidis, David Katz, and myself—called for targeted protection, a safer alternative to widespread lockdowns, in national media beginning in March of 2020. That proposal was rejected. History's biggest public health policy failure came at the hands of those who recommended the lockdowns and those who implemented them, not those who advised otherwise. White House COVID task force WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx speaks as (L-R) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia... Alex Wong/Getty Images Your daily briefing of everything you need to know The tragic failure of reckless, unprecedented lockdowns that were contrary to established pandemic science, and the added massive harms of those policies on children, the elderly, and lower-income families, are indisputable and well-documented in numerous studies. This was the biggest, the most tragic, and the most unethical breakdown of public health leadership in modern history. In a democracy, indeed in any ethical and free society, the truth is essential. The American people need to hear the truth—the facts, free from the political distortions, misrepresentations, and censorship. The first step is to clearly state the harsh truth in the starkest possible terms. Lies were told. Those lies harmed the public. Those lies were directly contrary to the evidence, to decades of knowledge on viral pandemics, and to long-established fundamental biology. Here are the 10 biggest falsehoods—known for years to be false, not recently learned or proven to be so—promoted by America's public health leaders, elected and unelected officials, and now-discredited academics: 1. SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has a far higher fatality rate than the flu by several orders of magnitude. 2. Everyone is at significant risk to die from this virus. 3. No one has any immunological protection, because this virus is completely new. 4. Asymptomatic people are major drivers of the spread. 5. Locking down—closing schools and businesses, confining people to their homes, stopping non-COVID medical care, and eliminating travel—will stop or eliminate the virus. 6. Masks will protect everyone and stop the spread. 7. The virus is known to be naturally occurring, and claiming it originated in a lab is a conspiracy theory. 8. Teachers are at especially high risk. 9. COVID vaccines stop the spread of the infection. 10. Immune protection only comes from a vaccine. None of us are so naïve as to expect a direct apology from critics at my employer, Stanford University, or in government, academic public health, and the media. But to ensure that this never happens again, government leaders, power-driven officials, and influential academics and advisors often harboring conflicts of interest must be held accountable. Personally, I remain highly skeptical that any government investigation or commission can avoid politicization. Regardless of their intention, all such government-run inquiries will at least be perceived as politically motivated and their conclusions will be rejected outright by many. Those investigations must proceed, though, if only to seek the truth, to teach our children that truth matters, and to remember G.K. Chesterton's critical lesson that "Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong about it." Scott W. Atlas, MD is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow in health policy at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Co-Director of the Global Liberty Institute, Founding Fellow of Hillsdale's Academy for Science & Freedom, and author of A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America (Bombardier Press, 2022). The views expressed in this article are the writer's own. Read more How Fauci Fooled America Untangling America from the Never-Ending COVID 'State of Emergency' We Need a COVID Commission https://www.newsweek.com/america-covid-response-was-based-lies-opinion-1785177 https://donshafi911.blogspot.com/2024/01/americas-covid-response-was-based-on.html
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    America's COVID Response Was Based on Lies
    We have seen an Orwellian attempt to rewrite history and to blame the failure of widespread lockdowns on the lockdowns' critics.
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  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 110: Israeli forces encircle Khan Younis as Gazans risk famine
    As Netanyahu attempts to prolong war on Gaza, Israeli forces and tanks bomb Khan Yunis and lay siege around the city’s major hospitals. Meanwhile, Gazans are turning to animal fodder for food as starvation sets in.

    Mustafa Abu SneinehJanuary 24, 2024
    Palestinians wait to collect food at a donation point in a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 24, 2023. Leading human rights groups have warned that due to Israel's more than 3-month siege on Gaza, millions of Gazans are at risk of famine and starvation. (Photo: APA Images)
    Palestinians wait to collect food at a donation point in a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 24, 2023. Leading human rights groups have warned that due to Israel’s more than 3-month siege on Gaza, millions of Gazans are at risk of famine and starvation. (Photo: APA Images)
    Casualties

    25,700+ killed* and at least 63,740 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    387+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
    556 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.**
    *This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 32,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

    ** This figure is released by the Israeli military.

    Key Developments

    UNRWA says 570,000 Palestinians in Gaza are now facing “catastrophic hunger”.
    UNRWA says it delivered protein-based flour, dairy items, and high-energy biscuits to 320,000 Palestinian families in Gaza, leaving thousands others without food.
    ActionAid UK appeals that “the humanitarian situation in Gaza is still catastrophic. As winter sets in, people are struggling without proper shelters, food, water and warm clothes.”
    Israeli military says it encircled Khan Yunis, second-largest city in Gaza Strip, and one of the major southern cities where Gazans fled to from the north earlier on in the war upon Israeli army instruction.
    Wafa reports Israeli forces fired directly at buildings in Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. In December, Israeli shells directly hit the maternity ward in Nasser, killing a baby girl and wounding seven others.
    WHO says its teams managed to resupply 19,000 liters of fuel to Al-Shifa Hospital in north Gaza.
    Wafa reports Israel killed at least 50 Palestinians and injured 120 others in bombings of Khan Yunis.
    The Al-Khair and Nasser Hospitals are minimally operating and totally inaccessible following Israeli siege of Khan Yunis.
    Reuters reports Hamas and Israel broadly agreed in principle during mediated talks on month-long ceasefire and exchange of prisoners and captives.
    Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli PM Netanyahu’s attempts to prolong war in Gaza for six months.
    Israeli forces blow up house of Basil Shehadeh, Palestinian prisoner detained in June 2023, in his hometown of Urif, south of Nablus in the West Bank.
    The Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee records 120 Israeli settler attacks in West Bank since January, 35 carried out by settlers dressed in military attire and 23 attacks happened under watch of Israeli soldiers.
    In Gaza, ‘there is no fresh water, no food, no flour‘

    Starvation and hunger are spreading among half a million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as they facing rainy, cold weather and insufficient food due to the ongoing Israeli aggression since October.

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    Some Palestinian families used whatever ingredients they had to feed their children, such as grinding fodder, which is hay or straw normally fed to cattle, to bake bread.

    “People need to make bread; sometimes they manage to make it [using fodder] and sometimes not. We are living a famine,” a Palestinian in Gaza told Al-Jazeera Arabic.

    “We live in a polluted condition. There is no fresh water, no food, no drink, no flour. This flour you see here was made from livestock fodder,” he said, showing a sack of fodder that contained insects and needed palming before being crushed.

    UNRWA said on Tuesday that 570,000 Palestinians in Gaza are now facing “catastrophic hunger.”

    “Intense fighting, access denials & restrictions + communications blackouts are hampering UNRWA’s ability to safely & effectively deliver aid,” the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said.

    “As risk of famine grows, UN calls for a critical increase in humanitarian access,” it added.

    UNRWA worries were reiterated by the World Food Programme (WFP), which believes that numerous areas of Gaza are on the verge of being plunged into famine pockets as Israeli bombardment and siege never eased for over three months, except for the ten-day truce in November.

    “This is why we’re seeing people becoming more desperate and being impatient to wait for food distributions, because it’s very sporadic,” the WFP spokesperson Abeer Etefa said.

    Both UNRWA and WFP are struggling to deliver sufficient aid and food supplies inside the Gaza Strip. UNRWA said it managed, alongside its partners, to deliver protein-based, flour, dairy items, and high-energy biscuits to 320,000 families in January, which still leave thousands of other Palestinians without food in Gaza.

    Palestinians in Gaza have been blocked by the Israeli military from accessing the agricultural fields to the east of the Gaza Strip since October, a significant portion of which have been leveled and destroyed. This has added to the lack of sufficient food and to starvation in Gaza for 2.3 million Palestinians, the majority of whom are now displaced.

    “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is still catastrophic. As winter sets in, people are struggling without proper shelters, food, water and warm clothes,” ActionAid UK appealed in a petition.

    “The health system has collapsed in Gaza and outbreak of disease such as diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections threatens more lives,” it added.

    Israel kills members of Zamel family and encircles Khan Younis hospitals

    Israel has killed at least 25,700 Palestinian martyrs and injured 63,740 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since October.

    In the past 24 hours, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said that Israel killed 210 Palestinians and injured 386 people. Israel has continued to kill hundreds of Palestinians each day, despite language from the Israeli and U.S. governments and mainstream media, that Israel has moved to a “less intense” phase of the war in Gaza.

    The Israeli military announced on Tuesday that it had encircled Khan Younis, the second-largest city in the Gaza Strip, claiming that Hamas leaders are hiding in tunnels underneath it. In December, Israeli forces said that “within days,” they will be in the heart of Khan Younis, before being met with fierce Palestinian resistance fire.

    Israeli forces are now cutting off the seaside road of Khan Younis, barring Palestinians from traveling southward to Rafah city, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip bordering Egypt. It has been encircling two Palestinian hospitals, Al-Amal and Nasser, and has stormed a third one, the Al-Khair Hospital, arresting several medical staff this week.

    Khan Younis saw the worst round of Israeli bombardment in the past 24 hours, according to Wafa news agency.

    Wafa reported that Israeli artillery bombed a seaside house west of Al-Mawasi, an area designated as “safe” by Israel in December, killing at least four people and injuring several others, who were hospitalized in the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah.

    Israeli forces also bombed the Harun Al-Rashid Road in Khan Younis and were stationed around Al-Aqsa University buildings. Ambulances could not reach the Al-Amal and Nasser Hospitals as Israeli forces blocked all roads leading to them.

    Wafa reported that Israeli forces fired directly at buildings in the Nasser Hospital compound. In December, an Israeli shell directly hit the maternity ward in the facility, killing a baby girl and wounding seven others.

    Palestinian rescue teams transported 20 Palestinian martyrs to the Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza. Israel’s bombardment of west Gaza destroyed a number of houses and apartments in the area, leaving dozens of Palestinians under the rubble, Wafa said.

    The Al-Shifa Hospital is one of seven medical facilities operating in a limited capacity in northern Gaza. The WHO said that its teams managed to resupply 19,000 liters of fuel to Al-Shifa on Monday.

    “The roads leading to the hospital were severely damaged, and the desperation in northern Gaza was apparent, as thousands of civilians surrounded the UN vehicles and fuel truck in the hopes of finding food and water, also delaying the mission,” WHO described the conditions in Gaza.

    Wafa reported that at least 50 Palestinians were killed and 120 injured in the Israeli bombardment of Khan Younis in the past 24 hours. The Al-Khair and Nasser Hospitals are minimally operating and totally inaccessible following the Israeli siege of of the city

    “WHO is extremely concerned about reports of Al-Kheir Hospital, a small NGO-run hospital with around 30 beds, facing military incursions and several health workers being detained. Communication with the hospital is no longer possible,” the WHO said on Wednesday.

    The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that three people were killed in the Israeli bombardment of its offices in Khan Younis. Doctors without Borders (MSF) published an update from its team working at the Nasser Hospital on Tuesday evening, saying that the Israeli army ordered medical staff and patients to evacuate the area.

    “MSF staff members can hear bombs and heavy gunfire close to Nasser. They are currently unable to evacuate along with the thousands of people in the hospital, including 850 patients, due to roads to and from the building being either inaccessible or too dangerous,” MSF wrote on X.


    In Jabalia in northern Gaza, the Israeli army killed fourteen Palestinians in a bombing of the Zamel family home. Some of them were identified as Duaa, Mahmoud, Mariam, Ali, Suaad, Noor, and Fatima Zamel, according to Wafa.

    The Zamel house was turned into rubble, according to a report by Al-Jazeera Arabic. A relative of the Zamel family said that the Israeli bombing hit the home, which was housing around 50 people, in the evening without warning.

    “The ceilings collapsed, and children were lying in the road. We used phone torches to find and rescue them,” he said.

    Hamas and Israel engage in mediated talks to reach prisoner exchange deal

    Reuters reported on Wednesday that Hamas and Israel had broadly agreed in principle during mediated talks on a month-long ceasefire, in which Palestinian prisoners will be exchanged with Israeli captives held in Gaza. These reports are yet to be confirmed, while agreements regarding a permanent ceasefire remain a thorny issue for Israel, which the Hamas leadership has stipulated as a precondition for any exchange deal.

    This comes a day after Axios reported that Israel submitted a proposal through Qatar and Egypt to pause the war for two months in return for the release of all the 130 Israeli captives in Gaza. Hamas is yet to comment on both reports. The movement made clear in the past months that it won’t accept any deal without a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

    On Wednesday, hundreds of Israeli captives’ families blocked aid convoys going into the Gaza Strip through the Karam Abu Salem crossing to choke Palestinians off from aid and put pressure on Hamas to release the Israeli captives, according to The Jerusalem Post.

    PA condemns Netanyahu’s attempt to prolong war, settler attacks rise in West Bank

    The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to prolong the war in Gaza for six months.

    Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the 3rd phase of the war in Gaza could last for half a year. The PA said Israel would use this period to destroy homes and expel more Palestinians from their neighborhoods and towns in the Gaza Strip.

    Meanwhile, over the past 24 hours in the West Bank, Israeli forces arrested 35 Palestinians from Nablus, Salfit, Ramallah, Hizma, Jericho, Al-Jalazoun refugee camp, Hebron and Jenin.

    The Prisoner’s Club and the Commission for Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs said on Wednesday that Israel arrested a total of 6,255 Palestinians since October, some of whom have since been released.

    On Wednesday morning, Israeli forces stormed the village of Urif, south of Nablus, and blew up the house of Basil Shehadeh, a Palestinian prisoner detained in June 2023 on charges of assisting two Palestinian shooters who killed four Israeli settlers near the Eli settlement.

    Wafa reported that a large Israeli force stormed Urif, barring the exit and entry of any Palestinians from the area and wiring explosives inside Shehadeh’s house before blowing it up.

    The PA’s Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee said in a report that 120 Israeli settler attacks have been recorded in the West Bank since January.

    These include shootings at Palestinians, arson attacks, and vandalism of property. The report said that 35 attacks were carried out by settlers dressed in military attire, while 23 attacks occurred under the watch of Israeli soldiers.

    BEFORE YOU GO – At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever.

    Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses.

    Support our journalists with a donation today.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/01/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-110-israeli-forces-encircle-khan-yunis-as-gazans-risk-famine/
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 110: Israeli forces encircle Khan Younis as Gazans risk famine As Netanyahu attempts to prolong war on Gaza, Israeli forces and tanks bomb Khan Yunis and lay siege around the city’s major hospitals. Meanwhile, Gazans are turning to animal fodder for food as starvation sets in. Mustafa Abu SneinehJanuary 24, 2024 Palestinians wait to collect food at a donation point in a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 24, 2023. Leading human rights groups have warned that due to Israel's more than 3-month siege on Gaza, millions of Gazans are at risk of famine and starvation. (Photo: APA Images) Palestinians wait to collect food at a donation point in a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 24, 2023. Leading human rights groups have warned that due to Israel’s more than 3-month siege on Gaza, millions of Gazans are at risk of famine and starvation. (Photo: APA Images) Casualties 25,700+ killed* and at least 63,740 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 387+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147. 556 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.** *This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 32,000 when accounting for those presumed dead. ** This figure is released by the Israeli military. Key Developments UNRWA says 570,000 Palestinians in Gaza are now facing “catastrophic hunger”. UNRWA says it delivered protein-based flour, dairy items, and high-energy biscuits to 320,000 Palestinian families in Gaza, leaving thousands others without food. ActionAid UK appeals that “the humanitarian situation in Gaza is still catastrophic. As winter sets in, people are struggling without proper shelters, food, water and warm clothes.” Israeli military says it encircled Khan Yunis, second-largest city in Gaza Strip, and one of the major southern cities where Gazans fled to from the north earlier on in the war upon Israeli army instruction. Wafa reports Israeli forces fired directly at buildings in Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis. In December, Israeli shells directly hit the maternity ward in Nasser, killing a baby girl and wounding seven others. WHO says its teams managed to resupply 19,000 liters of fuel to Al-Shifa Hospital in north Gaza. Wafa reports Israel killed at least 50 Palestinians and injured 120 others in bombings of Khan Yunis. The Al-Khair and Nasser Hospitals are minimally operating and totally inaccessible following Israeli siege of Khan Yunis. Reuters reports Hamas and Israel broadly agreed in principle during mediated talks on month-long ceasefire and exchange of prisoners and captives. Palestinian Authority condemns Israeli PM Netanyahu’s attempts to prolong war in Gaza for six months. Israeli forces blow up house of Basil Shehadeh, Palestinian prisoner detained in June 2023, in his hometown of Urif, south of Nablus in the West Bank. The Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee records 120 Israeli settler attacks in West Bank since January, 35 carried out by settlers dressed in military attire and 23 attacks happened under watch of Israeli soldiers. In Gaza, ‘there is no fresh water, no food, no flour‘ Starvation and hunger are spreading among half a million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as they facing rainy, cold weather and insufficient food due to the ongoing Israeli aggression since October. Advertisement Help Mondoweiss reach 100,000 subscribers on YouTube! Some Palestinian families used whatever ingredients they had to feed their children, such as grinding fodder, which is hay or straw normally fed to cattle, to bake bread. “People need to make bread; sometimes they manage to make it [using fodder] and sometimes not. We are living a famine,” a Palestinian in Gaza told Al-Jazeera Arabic. “We live in a polluted condition. There is no fresh water, no food, no drink, no flour. This flour you see here was made from livestock fodder,” he said, showing a sack of fodder that contained insects and needed palming before being crushed. UNRWA said on Tuesday that 570,000 Palestinians in Gaza are now facing “catastrophic hunger.” “Intense fighting, access denials & restrictions + communications blackouts are hampering UNRWA’s ability to safely & effectively deliver aid,” the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said. “As risk of famine grows, UN calls for a critical increase in humanitarian access,” it added. UNRWA worries were reiterated by the World Food Programme (WFP), which believes that numerous areas of Gaza are on the verge of being plunged into famine pockets as Israeli bombardment and siege never eased for over three months, except for the ten-day truce in November. “This is why we’re seeing people becoming more desperate and being impatient to wait for food distributions, because it’s very sporadic,” the WFP spokesperson Abeer Etefa said. Both UNRWA and WFP are struggling to deliver sufficient aid and food supplies inside the Gaza Strip. UNRWA said it managed, alongside its partners, to deliver protein-based, flour, dairy items, and high-energy biscuits to 320,000 families in January, which still leave thousands of other Palestinians without food in Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza have been blocked by the Israeli military from accessing the agricultural fields to the east of the Gaza Strip since October, a significant portion of which have been leveled and destroyed. This has added to the lack of sufficient food and to starvation in Gaza for 2.3 million Palestinians, the majority of whom are now displaced. “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is still catastrophic. As winter sets in, people are struggling without proper shelters, food, water and warm clothes,” ActionAid UK appealed in a petition. “The health system has collapsed in Gaza and outbreak of disease such as diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections threatens more lives,” it added. Israel kills members of Zamel family and encircles Khan Younis hospitals Israel has killed at least 25,700 Palestinian martyrs and injured 63,740 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since October. In the past 24 hours, Gaza’s Ministry of Health said that Israel killed 210 Palestinians and injured 386 people. Israel has continued to kill hundreds of Palestinians each day, despite language from the Israeli and U.S. governments and mainstream media, that Israel has moved to a “less intense” phase of the war in Gaza. The Israeli military announced on Tuesday that it had encircled Khan Younis, the second-largest city in the Gaza Strip, claiming that Hamas leaders are hiding in tunnels underneath it. In December, Israeli forces said that “within days,” they will be in the heart of Khan Younis, before being met with fierce Palestinian resistance fire. Israeli forces are now cutting off the seaside road of Khan Younis, barring Palestinians from traveling southward to Rafah city, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip bordering Egypt. It has been encircling two Palestinian hospitals, Al-Amal and Nasser, and has stormed a third one, the Al-Khair Hospital, arresting several medical staff this week. Khan Younis saw the worst round of Israeli bombardment in the past 24 hours, according to Wafa news agency. Wafa reported that Israeli artillery bombed a seaside house west of Al-Mawasi, an area designated as “safe” by Israel in December, killing at least four people and injuring several others, who were hospitalized in the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah. Israeli forces also bombed the Harun Al-Rashid Road in Khan Younis and were stationed around Al-Aqsa University buildings. Ambulances could not reach the Al-Amal and Nasser Hospitals as Israeli forces blocked all roads leading to them. Wafa reported that Israeli forces fired directly at buildings in the Nasser Hospital compound. In December, an Israeli shell directly hit the maternity ward in the facility, killing a baby girl and wounding seven others. Palestinian rescue teams transported 20 Palestinian martyrs to the Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza. Israel’s bombardment of west Gaza destroyed a number of houses and apartments in the area, leaving dozens of Palestinians under the rubble, Wafa said. The Al-Shifa Hospital is one of seven medical facilities operating in a limited capacity in northern Gaza. The WHO said that its teams managed to resupply 19,000 liters of fuel to Al-Shifa on Monday. “The roads leading to the hospital were severely damaged, and the desperation in northern Gaza was apparent, as thousands of civilians surrounded the UN vehicles and fuel truck in the hopes of finding food and water, also delaying the mission,” WHO described the conditions in Gaza. Wafa reported that at least 50 Palestinians were killed and 120 injured in the Israeli bombardment of Khan Younis in the past 24 hours. The Al-Khair and Nasser Hospitals are minimally operating and totally inaccessible following the Israeli siege of of the city “WHO is extremely concerned about reports of Al-Kheir Hospital, a small NGO-run hospital with around 30 beds, facing military incursions and several health workers being detained. Communication with the hospital is no longer possible,” the WHO said on Wednesday. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that three people were killed in the Israeli bombardment of its offices in Khan Younis. Doctors without Borders (MSF) published an update from its team working at the Nasser Hospital on Tuesday evening, saying that the Israeli army ordered medical staff and patients to evacuate the area. “MSF staff members can hear bombs and heavy gunfire close to Nasser. They are currently unable to evacuate along with the thousands of people in the hospital, including 850 patients, due to roads to and from the building being either inaccessible or too dangerous,” MSF wrote on X. In Jabalia in northern Gaza, the Israeli army killed fourteen Palestinians in a bombing of the Zamel family home. Some of them were identified as Duaa, Mahmoud, Mariam, Ali, Suaad, Noor, and Fatima Zamel, according to Wafa. The Zamel house was turned into rubble, according to a report by Al-Jazeera Arabic. A relative of the Zamel family said that the Israeli bombing hit the home, which was housing around 50 people, in the evening without warning. “The ceilings collapsed, and children were lying in the road. We used phone torches to find and rescue them,” he said. Hamas and Israel engage in mediated talks to reach prisoner exchange deal Reuters reported on Wednesday that Hamas and Israel had broadly agreed in principle during mediated talks on a month-long ceasefire, in which Palestinian prisoners will be exchanged with Israeli captives held in Gaza. These reports are yet to be confirmed, while agreements regarding a permanent ceasefire remain a thorny issue for Israel, which the Hamas leadership has stipulated as a precondition for any exchange deal. This comes a day after Axios reported that Israel submitted a proposal through Qatar and Egypt to pause the war for two months in return for the release of all the 130 Israeli captives in Gaza. Hamas is yet to comment on both reports. The movement made clear in the past months that it won’t accept any deal without a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. On Wednesday, hundreds of Israeli captives’ families blocked aid convoys going into the Gaza Strip through the Karam Abu Salem crossing to choke Palestinians off from aid and put pressure on Hamas to release the Israeli captives, according to The Jerusalem Post. PA condemns Netanyahu’s attempt to prolong war, settler attacks rise in West Bank The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to prolong the war in Gaza for six months. Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the 3rd phase of the war in Gaza could last for half a year. The PA said Israel would use this period to destroy homes and expel more Palestinians from their neighborhoods and towns in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, over the past 24 hours in the West Bank, Israeli forces arrested 35 Palestinians from Nablus, Salfit, Ramallah, Hizma, Jericho, Al-Jalazoun refugee camp, Hebron and Jenin. The Prisoner’s Club and the Commission for Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs said on Wednesday that Israel arrested a total of 6,255 Palestinians since October, some of whom have since been released. On Wednesday morning, Israeli forces stormed the village of Urif, south of Nablus, and blew up the house of Basil Shehadeh, a Palestinian prisoner detained in June 2023 on charges of assisting two Palestinian shooters who killed four Israeli settlers near the Eli settlement. Wafa reported that a large Israeli force stormed Urif, barring the exit and entry of any Palestinians from the area and wiring explosives inside Shehadeh’s house before blowing it up. The PA’s Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee said in a report that 120 Israeli settler attacks have been recorded in the West Bank since January. These include shootings at Palestinians, arson attacks, and vandalism of property. The report said that 35 attacks were carried out by settlers dressed in military attire, while 23 attacks occurred under the watch of Israeli soldiers. BEFORE YOU GO – At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever. Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses. Support our journalists with a donation today. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/01/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-110-israeli-forces-encircle-khan-yunis-as-gazans-risk-famine/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 110: Israeli forces encircle Khan Younis as Gazans risk famine
    As Netanyahu attempts to prolong war on Gaza, Israeli forces and tanks bomb Khan Yunis and lay siege around the city’s major hospitals. Meanwhile, Gazans are turning to animal fodder for food as starvation sets in.
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  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 106: Israel bombs Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, U.S. bombs Yemen
    Biden insists Netanyahu is open to a two-state solution, despite Netanyahu stating the opposite. Meanwhile, a Palestinian-American teenager was killed by Israelis in the West Bank, and the UN estimates two mothers are killed in Gaza every hour.

    Mondoweiss Palestine BureauJanuary 20, 2024
    A Palestinian child istreated on the floor of a hospital after being injured in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza (APA Images)
    An injured Palestinian woman looks over a child being treated on the floor of a hospital after they were injured in Israeli air strikes on December 30, 2023 in Dair El-Balah, Gaza. (Photo: APA Images)
    Casualties:

    24,927 killed* and at least 62,388 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    369 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
    550 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, including 194 since the beginning of the ground invasion, and at least 3,221 injured.**
    *This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on January 20. Some rights groups put the death toll at more than 32,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

    **This figure is released by the Israeli military.

    Key Developments

    Israel continues to relentlessly kill Palestinians in Gaza, as more reports emerge of torture and executions of Palestinians by Israeli forces.
    The United Nations says that two mothers are killed every hour on average in Gaza, as it denounces the disproportionate impact of the violence on women.
    An Israeli airstrike in the Syrian capital kills at least four Iranian military advisers.
    U.S. forces meanwhile launch the sixth wave of airstrikes on Yemen in a self-avowedly unsuccessful bid to deter Houthi rebels from disrupting commercial shipping in the Red Sea in support of Palestine.
    Israelis shoot and kill a Palestinian-American teenager in the head in the occupied West Bank.
    An Israeli airstrike kills two people in southern Lebanon.
    U.S. President Joe Biden has his first call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in nearly a month, and tells journalists that Netanyahu is in favor of a two-state solution, despite all evidence to the contrary.
    Israel’s emergency government meanwhile teeters on the brink of collapse amid internal discord and unilateral moves by Netanyahu threatening a hostage deal.
    The European Union’s chief diplomat says Israel bears responsibility for the existence of Hamas, and argues that a diplomatic solution may need to be imposed on Israel “from the outside.”
    The Guardian: Legal advisers for U.K.’s Foreign Office cannot conclude that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is compliant with international law.
    Women and children face ‘hell’ in Gaza, as survivors recount torture, humiliation, and executions at hands of Israeli soldiers

    Israeli forces killed at least 165 Palestinians and wounded 280 more in the past 24 hours in Gaza, the Ministry of Health in the small bombarded enclave reported on Saturday, bringing the official death toll since October 7 in Gaza to 24,927, with at least 62,388 more wounded.

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    This number does not include people who are missing and believed to be trapped under rubble, unidentified bodies, people who were buried by their families without going to a hospital, nor people who have died due to illness, cold, or hunger as a result of Israel’s merciless blockade of Gaza. The real death toll is believed by some groups to surpass 32,000.

    Deadly Israeli strikes have pummelled the areas of Khan Younis, al-Qarara, Bani Suheila, al-Zana, Abasan, Batn Al-Sameen, Nuseirat refugee camp, al-Shati refugee camp, and Jabalia since Friday, WAFA news agency reported. After eight days of complete blackout, Paltel meanwhile reported a partial return of telecom services in Gaza.

    Palestinian armed factions meanwhile said they were confronting ground Israeli forces in various neighborhoods of Gaza City, as well as in al-Bureij, al-Maghazi, Jabalia, and Khan Younis.

    Israel’s relentless war on Gaza is killing two mothers every hour, U.N. Women estimated in a new report looking into the gendered impact of the catastrophic situation in the Palestinian enclave since October 7.

    “We have seen evidence once more that women and children are the first victims of conflict and that our duty to seek peace is a duty to them. Without change, these last 100 days will be mere prelude to the next 100,” UN Women executive director Sima Bahous said on Friday. “These are people, not numbers, and we are failing them. That failure, and the generational trauma inflicted on the Palestinian people over these 100 days and counting, will haunt us all for generations to come.”

    UNICEF, which has estimated that some 20,000 babies have been born in Gaza since October 7, said these Palestinian children were being “born into hell.”

    “Becoming a mother should be a time for celebration. In Gaza, it’s another child delivered into hell,” UNICEF communication specialist Tess Ingram said on Friday. “Humanity cannot allow this warped version of normal to persist any longer. Mothers and newborns need a humanitarian ceasefire.”

    Meanwhile, more accounts have emerged of Israeli soldiers torturing and executing Palestinians in Gaza, with eyewitnesses telling Al Jazeera that Israeli forces publicly hanged some Palestinians in Beit Lahia’s Indonesian Hospital, and forced survivors to sleep in the same room as dead bodies.

    Palestinian men who were detained incommunicado by Israel for up to 55 days meanwhile spoke of being beaten, having dogs urinate on them, and being subjected to psychological terror.

    “They threatened to shoot us. After two hours of being half-naked in such conditions, they moved us a few meters and told us to get ready for our execution,” Muhammad Abu Samra, one former prisoner, told Al Jazeera.

    The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) meanwhile denounced in its latest update the “dramatic increase” in Israel’s denials of access to humanitarian aid deliveries. The organization said that 69 percent of aid deliveries to northern Gaza were rejected by the Israeli military in the first two weeks of January, compared to a 14 percent denial rate between October and December. The rejection rate rose 95 percent for the distribution of fuel and medicine to water reservoirs, water wells, and health facilities, leading to “increased health and environmental hazards while debilitating the functionality of the six partially functioning hospitals” in northern Gaza.

    Palestinian-American teenager shot in the head and killed in the West Bank

    A Palestinian-American teenager was shot in the head and killed by Israelis on Friday near the central occupied West Bank village of Mazraa al-Sharqiya. WAFA news agency identified him as 17-year-old Palestinian-American Tawfiq Hafiz Ajjaq, who had recently moved back to Palestine. Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Ajjaq was killed by an Israeli settler and an off-duty police officer, who claimed the boy had been throwing stones.

    The U.S. State Department told journalists it was in contact with Israeli authorities over the case and “working to understand the circumstances of the incident.” Washington has historically done little to ensure justice when Israelis kill Palestinians with U.S. citizenship, such as Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and 80-year-old Omar Assad.

    Israeli forces detained at least 22 Palestinians across the West Bank overnight, Al Jazeera reported, including a former prisoner in the Jenin area.

    WAFA news agency reported a number of raids across the occupied West Bank, including in Nablus, Kafr Nim’a, Tuqu’, and Hebron. Confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents were meanwhile reported in Nablus, Tubas, Balata refugee camp, and Jenin.

    Elsewhere, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the flashpoint area of Masafer Yatta and near Rammon.

    In occupied East Jerusalem Israeli police once again restricted worshippers’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers, and Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian resident of Silwan to demolish his own home for not having a near-impossible to obtain a construction permit.

    The Israeli political circus continues

    Barely a day after Benjamin Netanyahu publicly reiterated that there would be no Palestinian state under his watch, the Israeli premier had a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden for the first time in nearly a month.

    Biden later told journalists that Netanyahu had told him he was open to a two-state solution, sparking bafflement from reporters.

    “There are a number of types of two-state solutions,” Biden told the journalists. “There’s a number of countries that are members of the UN that don’t have their own militaries…. And so I think there’s ways in which this could work.”

    “Bibi just said he’s opposed to any two-state solution,” CBS journalist Weijia Jiang told Biden, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

    “No, he didn’t say that,” Biden responded.

    While the Israeli prime minister appears to be telling his staunch American ally one thing and his Israeli audience another, Israeli president Isaac Herzog told the audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday that no Israeli “in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreement.”

    Tensions meanwhile are continuing to rise within Netanyahu’s wartime coalition government, with some observers saying it is “close to collapse.”

    Among the latest indications of a fracture between Netanyahu and his fellow war cabinet members, former army chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli prime minister unilaterally changed Israel’s conditions for a hostage release deal to a tougher series of demands, Israeli media reported. While Gantz and Eisenkot have publicly stated that a deal is the only way to obtain the safe return of some 132 Israelis still held in Gaza, Netanyahu and his far-right allies are obstinately arguing that the use of force is the only way forward, despite its failure so far to lead to the release of hostages alive.

    The families of Israeli hostages camped outside of Netanyahu’s home in Cesarea on Friday to call for him to agree to a deal that could bring their loved ones home.

    Tensions ratchet up across the Middle East

    Tensions in the region are at a tipping point, as several strikes by Israel and its allies threaten to escalate violence irrevocably.

    Israeli forces launched an airstrike in the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday, killing five people, including at least four military advisers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Iranian military organization confirmed, calling it a “terrorist attack.”

    Meanwhile, an Israeli airstrike on a car killed two people in southern Lebanon. Lebanese media could not immediately confirm whether the two were, as Israel claims, members of Hamas.

    On the Yemeni front, U.S. forces struck Ansar Allah targets for the sixth time this month, in a bid to halt the Yemeni rebel group, also known as the Houthis, from thwarting the passage of commercial ships in the Red Sea in support of Palestine. Biden has himself acknowledged that American and British airstrikes were unlikely to deter Ansar Allah, but has nonetheless vowed to continue on.

    In Europe, the E.U.’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell accused Israel on Friday of bearing responsibility for the creation and funding of the Hamas movement – claims that have been extensively acknowledged by Israeli officials themselves.

    “Hamas was financed by the Israeli government in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority,” Borrell told an audience at the University of Valladolid in Spain, before adding that “The only solution is to create two states that share the land for which they have been dying for 100 years,” even if this two-state solution needs to be “imposed from the outside.”

    BEFORE YOU GO – At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever.

    Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses.

    Support our journalists with a donation today.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/01/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-106-israel-bombs-gaza-lebanon-and-syria-u-s-bombs-yemen/
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 106: Israel bombs Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, U.S. bombs Yemen Biden insists Netanyahu is open to a two-state solution, despite Netanyahu stating the opposite. Meanwhile, a Palestinian-American teenager was killed by Israelis in the West Bank, and the UN estimates two mothers are killed in Gaza every hour. Mondoweiss Palestine BureauJanuary 20, 2024 A Palestinian child istreated on the floor of a hospital after being injured in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza (APA Images) An injured Palestinian woman looks over a child being treated on the floor of a hospital after they were injured in Israeli air strikes on December 30, 2023 in Dair El-Balah, Gaza. (Photo: APA Images) Casualties: 24,927 killed* and at least 62,388 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 369 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147. 550 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, including 194 since the beginning of the ground invasion, and at least 3,221 injured.** *This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on January 20. Some rights groups put the death toll at more than 32,000 when accounting for those presumed dead. **This figure is released by the Israeli military. Key Developments Israel continues to relentlessly kill Palestinians in Gaza, as more reports emerge of torture and executions of Palestinians by Israeli forces. The United Nations says that two mothers are killed every hour on average in Gaza, as it denounces the disproportionate impact of the violence on women. An Israeli airstrike in the Syrian capital kills at least four Iranian military advisers. U.S. forces meanwhile launch the sixth wave of airstrikes on Yemen in a self-avowedly unsuccessful bid to deter Houthi rebels from disrupting commercial shipping in the Red Sea in support of Palestine. Israelis shoot and kill a Palestinian-American teenager in the head in the occupied West Bank. An Israeli airstrike kills two people in southern Lebanon. U.S. President Joe Biden has his first call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in nearly a month, and tells journalists that Netanyahu is in favor of a two-state solution, despite all evidence to the contrary. Israel’s emergency government meanwhile teeters on the brink of collapse amid internal discord and unilateral moves by Netanyahu threatening a hostage deal. The European Union’s chief diplomat says Israel bears responsibility for the existence of Hamas, and argues that a diplomatic solution may need to be imposed on Israel “from the outside.” The Guardian: Legal advisers for U.K.’s Foreign Office cannot conclude that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is compliant with international law. Women and children face ‘hell’ in Gaza, as survivors recount torture, humiliation, and executions at hands of Israeli soldiers Israeli forces killed at least 165 Palestinians and wounded 280 more in the past 24 hours in Gaza, the Ministry of Health in the small bombarded enclave reported on Saturday, bringing the official death toll since October 7 in Gaza to 24,927, with at least 62,388 more wounded. Advertisement Help Mondoweiss reach 100,000 subscribers on YouTube! This number does not include people who are missing and believed to be trapped under rubble, unidentified bodies, people who were buried by their families without going to a hospital, nor people who have died due to illness, cold, or hunger as a result of Israel’s merciless blockade of Gaza. The real death toll is believed by some groups to surpass 32,000. Deadly Israeli strikes have pummelled the areas of Khan Younis, al-Qarara, Bani Suheila, al-Zana, Abasan, Batn Al-Sameen, Nuseirat refugee camp, al-Shati refugee camp, and Jabalia since Friday, WAFA news agency reported. After eight days of complete blackout, Paltel meanwhile reported a partial return of telecom services in Gaza. Palestinian armed factions meanwhile said they were confronting ground Israeli forces in various neighborhoods of Gaza City, as well as in al-Bureij, al-Maghazi, Jabalia, and Khan Younis. Israel’s relentless war on Gaza is killing two mothers every hour, U.N. Women estimated in a new report looking into the gendered impact of the catastrophic situation in the Palestinian enclave since October 7. “We have seen evidence once more that women and children are the first victims of conflict and that our duty to seek peace is a duty to them. Without change, these last 100 days will be mere prelude to the next 100,” UN Women executive director Sima Bahous said on Friday. “These are people, not numbers, and we are failing them. That failure, and the generational trauma inflicted on the Palestinian people over these 100 days and counting, will haunt us all for generations to come.” UNICEF, which has estimated that some 20,000 babies have been born in Gaza since October 7, said these Palestinian children were being “born into hell.” “Becoming a mother should be a time for celebration. In Gaza, it’s another child delivered into hell,” UNICEF communication specialist Tess Ingram said on Friday. “Humanity cannot allow this warped version of normal to persist any longer. Mothers and newborns need a humanitarian ceasefire.” Meanwhile, more accounts have emerged of Israeli soldiers torturing and executing Palestinians in Gaza, with eyewitnesses telling Al Jazeera that Israeli forces publicly hanged some Palestinians in Beit Lahia’s Indonesian Hospital, and forced survivors to sleep in the same room as dead bodies. Palestinian men who were detained incommunicado by Israel for up to 55 days meanwhile spoke of being beaten, having dogs urinate on them, and being subjected to psychological terror. “They threatened to shoot us. After two hours of being half-naked in such conditions, they moved us a few meters and told us to get ready for our execution,” Muhammad Abu Samra, one former prisoner, told Al Jazeera. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) meanwhile denounced in its latest update the “dramatic increase” in Israel’s denials of access to humanitarian aid deliveries. The organization said that 69 percent of aid deliveries to northern Gaza were rejected by the Israeli military in the first two weeks of January, compared to a 14 percent denial rate between October and December. The rejection rate rose 95 percent for the distribution of fuel and medicine to water reservoirs, water wells, and health facilities, leading to “increased health and environmental hazards while debilitating the functionality of the six partially functioning hospitals” in northern Gaza. Palestinian-American teenager shot in the head and killed in the West Bank A Palestinian-American teenager was shot in the head and killed by Israelis on Friday near the central occupied West Bank village of Mazraa al-Sharqiya. WAFA news agency identified him as 17-year-old Palestinian-American Tawfiq Hafiz Ajjaq, who had recently moved back to Palestine. Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Ajjaq was killed by an Israeli settler and an off-duty police officer, who claimed the boy had been throwing stones. The U.S. State Department told journalists it was in contact with Israeli authorities over the case and “working to understand the circumstances of the incident.” Washington has historically done little to ensure justice when Israelis kill Palestinians with U.S. citizenship, such as Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and 80-year-old Omar Assad. Israeli forces detained at least 22 Palestinians across the West Bank overnight, Al Jazeera reported, including a former prisoner in the Jenin area. WAFA news agency reported a number of raids across the occupied West Bank, including in Nablus, Kafr Nim’a, Tuqu’, and Hebron. Confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents were meanwhile reported in Nablus, Tubas, Balata refugee camp, and Jenin. Elsewhere, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians in the flashpoint area of Masafer Yatta and near Rammon. In occupied East Jerusalem Israeli police once again restricted worshippers’ access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers, and Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian resident of Silwan to demolish his own home for not having a near-impossible to obtain a construction permit. The Israeli political circus continues Barely a day after Benjamin Netanyahu publicly reiterated that there would be no Palestinian state under his watch, the Israeli premier had a phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden for the first time in nearly a month. Biden later told journalists that Netanyahu had told him he was open to a two-state solution, sparking bafflement from reporters. “There are a number of types of two-state solutions,” Biden told the journalists. “There’s a number of countries that are members of the UN that don’t have their own militaries…. And so I think there’s ways in which this could work.” “Bibi just said he’s opposed to any two-state solution,” CBS journalist Weijia Jiang told Biden, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “No, he didn’t say that,” Biden responded. While the Israeli prime minister appears to be telling his staunch American ally one thing and his Israeli audience another, Israeli president Isaac Herzog told the audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday that no Israeli “in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreement.” Tensions meanwhile are continuing to rise within Netanyahu’s wartime coalition government, with some observers saying it is “close to collapse.” Among the latest indications of a fracture between Netanyahu and his fellow war cabinet members, former army chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli prime minister unilaterally changed Israel’s conditions for a hostage release deal to a tougher series of demands, Israeli media reported. While Gantz and Eisenkot have publicly stated that a deal is the only way to obtain the safe return of some 132 Israelis still held in Gaza, Netanyahu and his far-right allies are obstinately arguing that the use of force is the only way forward, despite its failure so far to lead to the release of hostages alive. The families of Israeli hostages camped outside of Netanyahu’s home in Cesarea on Friday to call for him to agree to a deal that could bring their loved ones home. Tensions ratchet up across the Middle East Tensions in the region are at a tipping point, as several strikes by Israel and its allies threaten to escalate violence irrevocably. Israeli forces launched an airstrike in the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday, killing five people, including at least four military advisers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Iranian military organization confirmed, calling it a “terrorist attack.” Meanwhile, an Israeli airstrike on a car killed two people in southern Lebanon. Lebanese media could not immediately confirm whether the two were, as Israel claims, members of Hamas. On the Yemeni front, U.S. forces struck Ansar Allah targets for the sixth time this month, in a bid to halt the Yemeni rebel group, also known as the Houthis, from thwarting the passage of commercial ships in the Red Sea in support of Palestine. Biden has himself acknowledged that American and British airstrikes were unlikely to deter Ansar Allah, but has nonetheless vowed to continue on. In Europe, the E.U.’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell accused Israel on Friday of bearing responsibility for the creation and funding of the Hamas movement – claims that have been extensively acknowledged by Israeli officials themselves. “Hamas was financed by the Israeli government in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority,” Borrell told an audience at the University of Valladolid in Spain, before adding that “The only solution is to create two states that share the land for which they have been dying for 100 years,” even if this two-state solution needs to be “imposed from the outside.” BEFORE YOU GO – At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever. Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses. Support our journalists with a donation today. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/01/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-106-israel-bombs-gaza-lebanon-and-syria-u-s-bombs-yemen/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 106: Israel bombs Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, U.S. bombs Yemen
    Biden insists Netanyahu is open to a two-state solution, despite Netanyahu stating the opposite. Meanwhile, a Palestinian-American teenager was killed by Israelis in the West Bank, and the UN estimates two mothers are killed in Gaza every hour.
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  • Burning Inferno of Gaza: Part 2
    Brig. General Asif H. RajaNovember 17, 2023

    VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel

    $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts
    Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State.

    Burning Inferno of Gaza

    By: Asif Haroon Raja

    Part-2

    Surprise Offensive of Hamas

    On Oct 7, 2023, about 1500 Hamas fighters assaulted Israel from ground, air and sea and inflicted heavy losses upon Israeli forces and captured territories and hostages. 5000 rocket attacks were fired in one hour, and a large number breached the impenetrable Iron Dome Air Defence system.

    The sudden attacks took the Israelis by complete surprise, baffled Israeli forces, and their high command remained in a coma for a few hours. The world was stunned and confused. No Arab Army had ever penetrated Israeli territory.

    Reasons which Spurred Hamas

    The big question is what spurred Hamas to opt for this extremely dangerous option which could lead to obliteration of the Gaza Strip. The armies of the whole Arab world couldn’t defeat Israel in the four wars. They couldn’t recover their lands occupied by Israel in 1967. Fighting against the most powerful country of the world and fully backed by the US and Europe by a group of Hamas Mujahideen was impossible and yet this adventure was undertaken.

    Possible reasons could be:

    · Constant bleeding of Palestinians and usurpation of their lands by Israel and latter’s ulterior objectives. Once it was ascertained by the people of Gaza, locked up in the biggest open jail, that they had been abandoned by the Arabs and the international community, and were being slaughtered on almost daily basis like animals, their women dishonored and Aqsa Mosque desecrated routinely, and soon they would be annihilated, they thought that instead of dying helpless like sheep, they should hit back hard like a cornered cat to strike terror into their hearts, and to die fighting.

    · The foremost need was protection and self-defense from repeated drones, air and ground invasions of the IDF.

    · Hamas and Al-Jehad formed militant brigades (Al Quds and Al Qasam) for the defense of the Gazans. They built a vast network of tunnels in Northern Gaza and stocked homemade surface-to-surface rockets, with the help of which they have fought back the marauding IDF tenaciously.

    · Iran provided them better quality unguided rockets, some of which managed to penetrate the Israeli impenetrable air defense system in 2021. They are now in possession of guided missiles and sophisticated weapons and equipment.

    · Military assistance provided by Iran and alignment with Hezbollah in Lebanon bolstered the spirits of Hamas to fight back Israeli aggression strongly.

    · An assurance was probably given to Hamas by some countries that political, moral and military support including supply of arms, guided missiles, drones and anti-tank weapons will be supplied unabatedly.

    · An understanding with Houthis in Yemen after the peace agreement between Iran and KSA, could be another motivating reason.

    · Other reasons could be the USA’s weakening presence in the Middle East (ME) and China and Russia filling up the vacuum; deep involvement of the US and Europe in Ukraine which is creating an energy and food crisis in Europe, causing strains in the US-Europe relationship. It was foreseen that the US was losing the war in Ukraine.

    · It is also a well-known fact that the US is no longer a sole super power; it is a descending power and it has lost its old clout.

    · Conversely, none can deny that China is an ascending power and the next super power. Both China and Russia have gotten closer to the GCC States and are sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause.

    · Hatred of the Muslim world against the US has peaked and Netanyahu is unpopular and the most despised PM in Israel.

    · Hamas foresaw the possibility of other radical Islamic groups that have suffered a great deal at the hands of the US-NATO forces, coming in aid of the marooned Gazans.

    · Discreet support from China, Russia, Iran and Turkey, and their support becoming overt in case the US and Europe supplied war munitions to Israel.

    · Lastly, Hamas must have carried out thorough preparations and drills spread over six months to a year, and also prepared plans to deal with counter actions of Israel. Secrecy was a key to success.

    Objectives of Hamas

    · Reinvigorate the cause of Palestinian issue that had become lifeless, and to impede the process of Arab countries eagerly wanting to restore diplomatic ties with Israel.

    · Reawaken the dead conscience of the UN, the Muslim world and the international community.

    · Take the fear of The Israelis out of the minds of the Palestinians and the Arab rulers.

    · Compel the UN and UNSC to resolve the 75-year-old dispute by granting a separate homeland to the Palestinians in accordance with the agreed upon two-state resolution.

    · Coordinated missile attacks from the northwestern and southern flanks on Israeli cities and on the Golan Heights would pose a dilemma for the Israeli defense mechanism and its Iron Dome.

    · The IDF is not trained to fight a prolonged insurrectional war.

    Israel’s Brutal Response

    After coming out of paralysis, infuriated Benjamin Netanyahu, his felonious cabinet and arrogant IDF blew to smithereens human rights, Geneva and UN resolutions, international conventions and international laws with impunity and is indulging in state terrorism savagely.

    In order to restore the confidence of the traumatized Israelis, Netanyahu replaced his govt with a war cabinet. He spelled out his intentions to obliterate the Gaza Strip through massive air bombings followed by a ground offensive with tanks, mechanized vehicles and artillery. 300,000 reservists were mobilized and deployed.

    To teach a lesson to the Gazans for housing and supporting the Hamas fighters, Netanyahu ordered closure of electric, fuel, gas, water and other supplies and blocked all the exit and entry points including the Rafah crossing in Senai.

    Israeli forces behaving like wounded tigers, rained bombs and drones by air, ground and sea relentlessly upon the hapless besieged Gazans with a xenophobic frenzy.

    Mosques, churches, schools, hospitals, buildings, living apartments, refugee camps, graveyards and safe compounds of the UN and UNHCR were not spared. A Red Cross ambulance was targeted; even the convoy of injured moving across Rafah crossing was targeted. Spaces for graves in the graveyards choked, forcing the Gazans to bury their dead in open grounds and in mass graves. Hospitals were rocketed on the plea that the militants were using the basements as command centres and shelters despite denials by the Hamas.

    A 24-hour notice was given to the 1.7 million Gazans living in North Gaza to move to South Gaza. They were told to disown Hamas, or else die like human animals (Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant). Those who were migrating were also bombed.

    Ground Offensive

    The ground offensive in Gaza, was launched after a considerable delay with caution on 27 Oct. Biden had warned that it would be a mistake to capture Gaza. Ex Mossad chief cautioned Israeli leaders not to undertake ground offensive and advised them to exercise restraint.

    Ground operations became obligatory to destroy the tunnel network and eliminate each and every member of Hamas, painted as terrorists. It was propagated that the people of Gaza were forced to support them. The US unequivocal support in terms of intelligence, weaponry, technology and sending a 3-star Marine Corps General to guide IDF’s tactical assaults gave heart to Israel to start the ground offensive.

    Israeli leaders pledged to continue annihilating subhuman “savages” in Gaza and not to enter into any negotiations or agree to a ceasefire till the accomplishment of their objectives. Ceasefire was rejected on the plea that it would enable Hamas to regroup and harm Israel.

    Even white phosphorous bombs were dropped on hapless Gazans. There were reports that the hawks in the Netanyahu Cabinet contemplated dropping a neutron bomb on Gaza. One of Israeli ministers talked of using nuclear bombs to wipe out the enclave.

    Israel’s Motives

    The motive of Israeli leadership is to flush out Hamas and 2.3 million Gazans from Gaza and to annex Gaza as well as the WB.

    Immediate motive is to push out 1.7 million Gazans from congested Northern Gaza into Southern Gaza. It would render Hamas vulnerable, making it easy for the IDF to operate their mechanized forces freely and carry out systematic demolition of the tunnels.

    Netanyahu has now spelled out his agenda of controlling Gazan security indefinitely.

    Destruction wrought till 14 Nov 2023

    Well over 11,100 fatalities have occurred in Gaza which includes the deaths of over 45000 children. Every ten minutes a child is martyred. Netanyahu described them as the “children of darkness”. 30,000 civilians are injured of which 70% are women and children. Hospitals are overflowing with injuries and there are no doctors and medicines. 1300 children are under the rubbles. There are 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza. Majority of 36 hospitals including the biggest Al-Shifa are non-functional due to bombing and stoppage of fuel and medicines supplies. Bombing of Ahli Arab Hospital resulted in deaths of 500, (blame was put on Islamic Jehad). Unburied dead bodies are getting decomposed, increasing health hazards.

    So far, 40,000 houses, 56 mosques, 88 offices have been completely destroyed, and 2,22,000 housing units, 237 schools, 136 mosques, 113 health centres damaged.

    Casualties incurred in the five-week war in Gaza have surpassed the casualties in the 18-months old war in Ukraine.

    It is estimated that from 8 Oct till this day, 26000 tons of explosive molten has been dropped in the first 27 days which is equivalent to two atomic bombs.

    To be continued… Stay Tuned for Part 3 and Part 4

    The writer is a retd Brig Gen, war veteran, defence, security and political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, MSc War Studies, served as Directing Staff in Staff College Quetta, defence attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of the Corps of military attaches, held high staff and command appointments, after retirement he was appointed Colonel of the Battalion he commanded, he chaired Thinkers Forum Pakistan for 4 years, takes part in TV talk shows. asifharoonraja@gmail.com

    Brig. General Asif Haroon Raja is on the board of advisors for Opinion Maker. He holds an MSc war studies degree. A second-generation officer, he fought the epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war,

    He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt, and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is tri-lingual and speaks English, Pashto, and Punjabi fluently.

    Currently, he is a defense analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defense, and political matters for numerous international/national publications. He is chairman at the Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Veterans Think Tank

    He is also the author of many books; ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, and Roots of 1971 Tragedy’. His latest book is ‘Tangled knot of Kashmir : Indo-Pakistan antagonism: vol. 1 and vol. 2″

    www.opinion-maker.com


    ATTENTION READERS

    We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed
    In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion.

    About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy
    Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT.


    https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2023/11/burning-inferno-of-gaza-part-2/
    Burning Inferno of Gaza: Part 2 Brig. General Asif H. RajaNovember 17, 2023 VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State. Burning Inferno of Gaza By: Asif Haroon Raja Part-2 Surprise Offensive of Hamas On Oct 7, 2023, about 1500 Hamas fighters assaulted Israel from ground, air and sea and inflicted heavy losses upon Israeli forces and captured territories and hostages. 5000 rocket attacks were fired in one hour, and a large number breached the impenetrable Iron Dome Air Defence system. The sudden attacks took the Israelis by complete surprise, baffled Israeli forces, and their high command remained in a coma for a few hours. The world was stunned and confused. No Arab Army had ever penetrated Israeli territory. Reasons which Spurred Hamas The big question is what spurred Hamas to opt for this extremely dangerous option which could lead to obliteration of the Gaza Strip. The armies of the whole Arab world couldn’t defeat Israel in the four wars. They couldn’t recover their lands occupied by Israel in 1967. Fighting against the most powerful country of the world and fully backed by the US and Europe by a group of Hamas Mujahideen was impossible and yet this adventure was undertaken. Possible reasons could be: · Constant bleeding of Palestinians and usurpation of their lands by Israel and latter’s ulterior objectives. Once it was ascertained by the people of Gaza, locked up in the biggest open jail, that they had been abandoned by the Arabs and the international community, and were being slaughtered on almost daily basis like animals, their women dishonored and Aqsa Mosque desecrated routinely, and soon they would be annihilated, they thought that instead of dying helpless like sheep, they should hit back hard like a cornered cat to strike terror into their hearts, and to die fighting. · The foremost need was protection and self-defense from repeated drones, air and ground invasions of the IDF. · Hamas and Al-Jehad formed militant brigades (Al Quds and Al Qasam) for the defense of the Gazans. They built a vast network of tunnels in Northern Gaza and stocked homemade surface-to-surface rockets, with the help of which they have fought back the marauding IDF tenaciously. · Iran provided them better quality unguided rockets, some of which managed to penetrate the Israeli impenetrable air defense system in 2021. They are now in possession of guided missiles and sophisticated weapons and equipment. · Military assistance provided by Iran and alignment with Hezbollah in Lebanon bolstered the spirits of Hamas to fight back Israeli aggression strongly. · An assurance was probably given to Hamas by some countries that political, moral and military support including supply of arms, guided missiles, drones and anti-tank weapons will be supplied unabatedly. · An understanding with Houthis in Yemen after the peace agreement between Iran and KSA, could be another motivating reason. · Other reasons could be the USA’s weakening presence in the Middle East (ME) and China and Russia filling up the vacuum; deep involvement of the US and Europe in Ukraine which is creating an energy and food crisis in Europe, causing strains in the US-Europe relationship. It was foreseen that the US was losing the war in Ukraine. · It is also a well-known fact that the US is no longer a sole super power; it is a descending power and it has lost its old clout. · Conversely, none can deny that China is an ascending power and the next super power. Both China and Russia have gotten closer to the GCC States and are sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause. · Hatred of the Muslim world against the US has peaked and Netanyahu is unpopular and the most despised PM in Israel. · Hamas foresaw the possibility of other radical Islamic groups that have suffered a great deal at the hands of the US-NATO forces, coming in aid of the marooned Gazans. · Discreet support from China, Russia, Iran and Turkey, and their support becoming overt in case the US and Europe supplied war munitions to Israel. · Lastly, Hamas must have carried out thorough preparations and drills spread over six months to a year, and also prepared plans to deal with counter actions of Israel. Secrecy was a key to success. Objectives of Hamas · Reinvigorate the cause of Palestinian issue that had become lifeless, and to impede the process of Arab countries eagerly wanting to restore diplomatic ties with Israel. · Reawaken the dead conscience of the UN, the Muslim world and the international community. · Take the fear of The Israelis out of the minds of the Palestinians and the Arab rulers. · Compel the UN and UNSC to resolve the 75-year-old dispute by granting a separate homeland to the Palestinians in accordance with the agreed upon two-state resolution. · Coordinated missile attacks from the northwestern and southern flanks on Israeli cities and on the Golan Heights would pose a dilemma for the Israeli defense mechanism and its Iron Dome. · The IDF is not trained to fight a prolonged insurrectional war. Israel’s Brutal Response After coming out of paralysis, infuriated Benjamin Netanyahu, his felonious cabinet and arrogant IDF blew to smithereens human rights, Geneva and UN resolutions, international conventions and international laws with impunity and is indulging in state terrorism savagely. In order to restore the confidence of the traumatized Israelis, Netanyahu replaced his govt with a war cabinet. He spelled out his intentions to obliterate the Gaza Strip through massive air bombings followed by a ground offensive with tanks, mechanized vehicles and artillery. 300,000 reservists were mobilized and deployed. To teach a lesson to the Gazans for housing and supporting the Hamas fighters, Netanyahu ordered closure of electric, fuel, gas, water and other supplies and blocked all the exit and entry points including the Rafah crossing in Senai. Israeli forces behaving like wounded tigers, rained bombs and drones by air, ground and sea relentlessly upon the hapless besieged Gazans with a xenophobic frenzy. Mosques, churches, schools, hospitals, buildings, living apartments, refugee camps, graveyards and safe compounds of the UN and UNHCR were not spared. A Red Cross ambulance was targeted; even the convoy of injured moving across Rafah crossing was targeted. Spaces for graves in the graveyards choked, forcing the Gazans to bury their dead in open grounds and in mass graves. Hospitals were rocketed on the plea that the militants were using the basements as command centres and shelters despite denials by the Hamas. A 24-hour notice was given to the 1.7 million Gazans living in North Gaza to move to South Gaza. They were told to disown Hamas, or else die like human animals (Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant). Those who were migrating were also bombed. Ground Offensive The ground offensive in Gaza, was launched after a considerable delay with caution on 27 Oct. Biden had warned that it would be a mistake to capture Gaza. Ex Mossad chief cautioned Israeli leaders not to undertake ground offensive and advised them to exercise restraint. Ground operations became obligatory to destroy the tunnel network and eliminate each and every member of Hamas, painted as terrorists. It was propagated that the people of Gaza were forced to support them. The US unequivocal support in terms of intelligence, weaponry, technology and sending a 3-star Marine Corps General to guide IDF’s tactical assaults gave heart to Israel to start the ground offensive. Israeli leaders pledged to continue annihilating subhuman “savages” in Gaza and not to enter into any negotiations or agree to a ceasefire till the accomplishment of their objectives. Ceasefire was rejected on the plea that it would enable Hamas to regroup and harm Israel. Even white phosphorous bombs were dropped on hapless Gazans. There were reports that the hawks in the Netanyahu Cabinet contemplated dropping a neutron bomb on Gaza. One of Israeli ministers talked of using nuclear bombs to wipe out the enclave. Israel’s Motives The motive of Israeli leadership is to flush out Hamas and 2.3 million Gazans from Gaza and to annex Gaza as well as the WB. Immediate motive is to push out 1.7 million Gazans from congested Northern Gaza into Southern Gaza. It would render Hamas vulnerable, making it easy for the IDF to operate their mechanized forces freely and carry out systematic demolition of the tunnels. Netanyahu has now spelled out his agenda of controlling Gazan security indefinitely. Destruction wrought till 14 Nov 2023 Well over 11,100 fatalities have occurred in Gaza which includes the deaths of over 45000 children. Every ten minutes a child is martyred. Netanyahu described them as the “children of darkness”. 30,000 civilians are injured of which 70% are women and children. Hospitals are overflowing with injuries and there are no doctors and medicines. 1300 children are under the rubbles. There are 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza. Majority of 36 hospitals including the biggest Al-Shifa are non-functional due to bombing and stoppage of fuel and medicines supplies. Bombing of Ahli Arab Hospital resulted in deaths of 500, (blame was put on Islamic Jehad). Unburied dead bodies are getting decomposed, increasing health hazards. So far, 40,000 houses, 56 mosques, 88 offices have been completely destroyed, and 2,22,000 housing units, 237 schools, 136 mosques, 113 health centres damaged. Casualties incurred in the five-week war in Gaza have surpassed the casualties in the 18-months old war in Ukraine. It is estimated that from 8 Oct till this day, 26000 tons of explosive molten has been dropped in the first 27 days which is equivalent to two atomic bombs. To be continued… Stay Tuned for Part 3 and Part 4 The writer is a retd Brig Gen, war veteran, defence, security and political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, MSc War Studies, served as Directing Staff in Staff College Quetta, defence attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of the Corps of military attaches, held high staff and command appointments, after retirement he was appointed Colonel of the Battalion he commanded, he chaired Thinkers Forum Pakistan for 4 years, takes part in TV talk shows. asifharoonraja@gmail.com Brig. General Asif Haroon Raja is on the board of advisors for Opinion Maker. He holds an MSc war studies degree. A second-generation officer, he fought the epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt, and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is tri-lingual and speaks English, Pashto, and Punjabi fluently. Currently, he is a defense analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defense, and political matters for numerous international/national publications. He is chairman at the Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, & Member CWC PESS & Veterans Think Tank He is also the author of many books; ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, and Roots of 1971 Tragedy’. His latest book is ‘Tangled knot of Kashmir : Indo-Pakistan antagonism: vol. 1 and vol. 2″ www.opinion-maker.com ATTENTION READERS We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion. About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT. https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2023/11/burning-inferno-of-gaza-part-2/
    WWW.VTFOREIGNPOLICY.COM
    Burning Inferno of Gaza: Part 2
    Burning Inferno of Gaza By: Asif Haroon Raja Part-2 Surprise Offensive of Hamas On Oct 7, 2023, about 1500 Hamas fighters assaulted Israel from ground, air and sea and inflicted heavy losses upon Israeli forces and captured territories and hostages. 5000 rocket attacks were fired in one hour, and a large number breached the impenetrable...
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  • A Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran is Contemplated
    The U.S. led War on the People of Palestine and the Middle East is a Criminal Undertaking


    Introduction

    We stand in Solidarity with Palestine. But we must recognize that the United States Military and Intelligence apparatus is firmly behind Israel’s genocide directed against the People of Palestine.

    .

    And this must be part of the solidarity campaign, namely to Reveal the Truth regarding Washington’s insidious role, which is part of a carefully planned military agenda directed against Palestine and the broader Middle East. Netanyahu is a proxy, with a criminal record. He has the unbending support of Western Europe’s “Classe politique”.

    .

    The U.S. led War on the People of Palestine and the Middle East is a Criminal Undertaking

    Israel and the Zionist lobby in the U.S. are NOT exerting undue influence AGAINST U.S. Foreign Policy as outlined by numerous analysts.

    Quite the opposite. The Zionist lobby is firmly aligned with U.S. foreign policy, and Vice Versa. It targets those who are opposed to war, who call for a cease fire. It exerts influence in favour of the conduct of the U.S. military agenda in support of Israel.



    The US military-intelligence establishment in coordination with powerful financial interests is calling the shots in regards to Israel’s genocidal intent to “Wipe Palestine off the Map”.

    .

    America’s Military Doctrine: Deliberately Targeting and Killing Civilians

    The targeting of civilians and the killing of children in Gaza is modelled on numerous US sponsored massacres of civilians (1945-2023) including the 2004 attack on Fallujah. (More than 30 Million mainly civilian deaths in US-led wars in what is euphemistically called the “post War Era”).
    .

    Veteran War correspondent Felicity Arbuthnot reflected on the indescribable barbarity of the 2004 Fallujah massacre, which resulted in countless deaths and destruction. It was a genocide conducted by the U.S military:
    .

    “The Americans invaded, chillingly: “house to house, room to room”, raining death and destruction on the proud, ancient “City of Mosques.”

    Marines killed so many civilians that the municipal soccer stadium had to be turned into a graveyard …

    One correspondent wrote: “There has been nothing like the attack on Fallujah since the Nazi invasion and occupation of much of the European continent – the shelling and bombing of Warsaw in September 1939, the terror bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940.”



    Fallujah, 2004

    .

    The U.S. is supportive of the Israeli genocide directed against the people of Palestine. Prime Minister Netanyahu is a criminal. He is Washington’s proxy, unreservedly endorsed and supported by the Biden Administration as well as the U.S. Congress.

    .

    Zionism constitutes the ideological underpinnings of contemporary U.S. imperialism and its unending war against the people of the Middle East.

    .

    The Zionist “Greater Israel” dogma –as in all wars of religion since the dawn of mankind– is there to mislead people Worldwide as to “who is really pulling the strings”.

    .

    Zionism has become a useful instrument which is embodied in U.S. military doctrine. The “Promised Land” broadly coincides with America’s hegemonic agenda in the Middle East, namely what the U.S. military has designated as the “New Middle East”.

    .

    Cui Bono: “To Whom Does it Benefit”

    There are strategic, geopolitical and economic objectives behind Israel’s genocide directed against the people of Palestine. “Crimes are often committed to benefit their perpetrators”: Israel’s War against the People of Palestine serves the interests of Big Money, the Military Industrial Complex, Corrupt Politicians…

    The Genocide is implemented by Netanyahu on behalf of the United States.

    The US military and intelligence apparatus are behind Israel’s criminal bombing and invasion of Gaza. The unfolding Middle East War is largely directed against Iran.

    .

    .

    Iran and the Nuclear Issue

    Historical Antecedents. Using Israel As a Means to Attacking Iran

    In 2003, the war on Iran project (Operation Theatre Iran Near Term, TIRANNT)) was already Déjà Vu. It had been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than 15 years.

    Let us recall that at the outset of Bush’s Second Term, Vice President Dick Cheney dropped a bombshell, hinting, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America. And that Israel would, so to speak,

    “be doing the bombing for us” [paraphrase] , without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”. For further details see my article below was first published by Global Research in May 2005, as well as PBS Interview with Z. Brzezinski

    This Dick Cheney-style option is currently (November 2023) once more on the drawing board of the Pentagon, namely the possibility that Israel which is already bombing Lebanon and Syria, would be incited to wage an attack on Iran (acting on behalf of the United States).

    US Congress Resolution (H. RES. 559) Accuses Iran of Possessing Nuclear Weapons

    Careful timing: In June 2023, the US House of Representatives adopted Resolution (H. RES. 559) which provides a “Green Light” to wage war on Iran.

    The US House passed a resolution that allows the use of force against Iran, intimating without a shred of evidence that Iran has Nuclear Weapons:

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives declares it is the policy of the United States—

    (1) that a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran is not acceptable;

    (2) that Iran must not be able to obtain a nuclear weapon under any circumstances or conditions;

    (3) to use all means necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon; and

    (4) to recognize and support the freedom of action of partners and allies, including Israel, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    Click below to access the complete text of H. RES 559



    Israel’s Undeclared Nuclear Weapons Arsenal

    Whereas Iran is tagged (without evidence) as a Nuclear Power by the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington fails to acknowledge that Israel is an undeclared nuclear power.

    In recent developments, Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, “admitted to the world that Israel has nuclear weapons ready to be used against Palestinians”

    The Times of Israel reported that: “Amichai Eliyahu said Sunday [November 5, 2023] that one of Israel’s options in the war against Hamas was to drop a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip”

    Video on Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Facility

    English subtitles



    .

    .

    The War on Energy

    Unspoken Objective of a US-NATO-Israel War against Iran: Natural Gas

    Reserves of Natural Gas: Iran ranks Second after Russia. Russia, Iran and Qatar possess 54.1 percent of the World’s reserves of natural gas.

    -Russia 24.3%,

    -Iran 17.3%,

    -Qatar, 12.5 % (in partnership with Iran)

    versus

    -5.3 % for the US

    President Joe Biden ordered to “blow up” (September 2022) the Nordstream Pipeline, which constitutes a U.S. Act of War against the European Union.

    In the words of Joe Biden:

    “There will be no longer a Nord Stream 2”. Statement at White House Press Conference (February 7, 2022)

    America’s strategic objective was, despite its meagre reserves of natural gas:

    To Force the European Union to buy LNG “Made in America”.

    What this implies is that America’s military agenda against Russia and Iran constitutes a means to hike up EU energy prices, which is an act economic warfare against the People of Europe.






    The Iran-Qatar Natural Gas Partnership

    The maritime gas reserves of the Persian Gulf are under a (joint ownership) partnership between Qatar and Iran (See diagram below).





    The Biden Administration is Intent upon Destabilizing the Iran-Qatar Partnership

    This partnership is supportive of the People of Palestine.

    In March 2022, “President Joe Biden following a meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheik Tamim “designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally of the United States, fulfilling the promise that he had made to Qatar earlier this year [2022], the White House said” Reuters



    “The designation is granted by the United States to close, non-NATO allies that have strategic working relationships with the U.S. military.

    Biden promised Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in January [2022] during a meeting at the White House that he would grant Qatar the special status.” Reuters See also followup Reuters article.

    What is at stake are cross-cutting coalitions. Qatar is a “Partner” of Iran in relation to the strategic reserves of maritime gas in the Persian Gulf. There is no formaI military cooperation between the two countries.

    Washington’s unspoken agenda is to break and/or destabilize Qatar’s Partnership with Iran, by integrating Qatar into the US-NATO military orbit.

    It is worth noting that a few days prior to the October 7, 2023 Hamas operation, the Emir of Qatar Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani “laid the foundation stone for the Northern Dome expansion project” in Iran’s Pars South Field (See map above).

    “the Emir of Qatar said the groundbreaking for the Northern Dome expansion project was laid today, which is in line with Qatar’s strategy to strengthen its position as a global LNG producer …

    This joint gas field, known as “South Pars” in Iran, is the largest natural gas field in the world and contains 50.97 trillion cubic meters of gas and about 7.9 billion cubic meters of natural gas condensate.

    At the time of writing, the implications of Qatar’s “Special Status” Military Alliance with the U.S. remain unclear.

    America’s Al-Udeid military base in Qatar (left) is the largest US base in the Middle East.

    Have the status and functions of Al Udeid changed since the signing of the March 2022 agreement designating Qatar as a “Major Non NATO Ally of the US”

    Qatar is both A Partner of Iran as well as a Major Non NATO Ally of the U.S. Reports confirm the development of a close relationship between the commanders of the US Air Force and the Qatari Emiri Air Force.

    Qatar is a “Powder Keg”?

    The U.S. foreign policy objective is to ultimately destroy and undermine that “friendship” with Iran which is highly valued and supported by Qatari citizens.

    The export of gas from South Pars North Dome transits through Iran, Turkey and Russia.

    Qatar, Russia and Iran (the 3 largest holders Worldwide of natural gas reserves) reached an agreement in 2009 to create a ‘Gas Troika’, a trilateral gas cooperation entity including the development of joint projects.

    A large number of countries including South Korea, India, Japan, China are importing LNG from Qatar.

    Last year (November 2022), “QatarEnergy signed a 27-year deal to supply China’s Sinopec with liquefied natural gas”. Qatar has also a strategic alliance with China.

    Washington’s objective under the disguise of America’s “Major Non-NATO Alliance” with Qatar is to:

    Break the Qatar-Iran Partnership
    Exclude Iran from the Joint Maritime Gas Field
    Exert US Control over the Maritime Gas Field in the Persian Gulf
    Weaken and Disable the “Gas Troika” (Russia, Iran, Qatar)
    Create Chaos in the Global Energy Market,
    Undermine the Trade in Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) to Numerous Countries
    .

    Iran. Third Largest Reserves of Oil Worldwide

    Iran is not only second in terms of its gas reserves after Russia, it ranks third Worldwide in relation to its oil reserves (12% of Worldwide oil reserves) versus a meagre 4% for the U.S.








    The Ben Gurion Canal Project

    .

    U.S. Seeks Dominance over Strategic International Waterways

    The Ben Gurion Canal Project was initially a “secret” (classified) U.S. project formulated in 1963 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory LLNG, a strategic think tank (focussing on nuclear radiation) on contract with the U.S Department of Energy. The LLNG project was formulated in response to the nationalization of the Suez Canal in July 1956 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1956-1970). Its intent was to bypass the Suez Canal.

    The Ben Gurion Canal project is currently contemplated as means control the channels of international maritime trade to the detriment of the people of the Middle East. It also seeks to destabilize China’s maritime commodity trade.



    In the context of the broader US-led Middle East War, the Ben Gurion Canal Project is part of America’s hegemonic military agenda. It is consistent with Netanyahu’s “Plan to Wipe Palestine Off the Map”.

    According to Yvonne Ridley:

    “The only thing stopping the newly-revised [Ben Gurion Canal] project from being revived and rubber-stamped is the presence of the Palestinians in Gaza. As far as Netanyahu is concerned they are standing in the way of the project” (Yvonne Ridley, November 10, 2023, emphasis added)

    The U.S led war is intent upon confiscating all Palestinian territories, which would be appropriated by the State of Israel, acting as a strategic “Anglo-American Hub” in the Middle East:

    The Ben Gurion Canal will give Israel in particular and other friendly nations the freedom from blackmail arising out of access to the Suez Canal.

    Arab states have been leveraging the Red Sea to pressure Israel and in response, Israel has decided to gain more control of the Red Sea. These African countries have cultural and economic affinities with the Arab states. One of the main military benefits for Israel is that it gives Israel the strategic options as the Ben Gurion Canal will totally take away the importance of Suez for the US military if needed in the aid for Israel.

    Israel aims to push Egypt further into a corner by eliminating Suez in the global trade and energy corridor and becoming a global trade and energy logistics center.

    Experts are of the opinion that this situation will shake the strategic-energy balance of China’s Belt and Road Project initiative in the Mediterranean, along with the Strait of Hormuz, which is the transfer point of 30 percent of the world’s energy. The Ben Gurion Canal would have the solid backing of the West. (Eurasia Review, November 7, 2023, emphasis added)

    .

    “Greater Israel”.

    Strategic “Anglo-American Hub”

    The Promised Land of Greater Israel coincides with America’s Colonial Design in the Middle East

    The Greater Israel design is not strictly a Zionist Project for the Middle East, it is an integral part of US foreign policy, its strategic objective is to extend US hegemony as well as fracture and balkanize the Middle East.

    In this regard, Washington’s strategy consists in destabilizing and weakening regional economic powers in the Middle East including Turkey and Iran. This policy –which is consistent with the Greater Israel– is accompanied by a process of political fragmentation.



    Since the Gulf war (1991), the Pentagon has contemplated the creation of a “Free Kurdistan” which would include the annexation of parts of Iraq, Syria and Iran as well as Turkey



    “The New Middle East”: Unofficial US Military Academy Map by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters

    .

    “America’s Promised Land”. Global Warfare

    When viewed in the current context, including the siege on Gaza, the Zionist Plan for the Middle East coincides with America’s long war against the Middle East. As we mentioned earlier the Zionist agenda provides an ideological and religious justification of America’s long war against the Middle East.

    The 1979-80. the so-called Soviet Afghan War, engineered by the CIA
    The 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War engineered by the U.S.
    The 1991 Gulf War against Iraq,
    The 2001 The US-NATO Invasion of Afghanistan,
    The 2003 Invasion of Iraq
    The 2006 War on Lebanon,
    The Arab Spring,
    The 2011 war on Libya,
    The 2015 war on Yemen
    Obama’s 2014-2017 “Counter-Terrorism” Operation against Iraq and Syria
    The ongoing wars against Syria, Iraq and Yemen
    The “Greater Israel” project consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of a US-Israeli expansionist project, with the support of NATO.

    Needless to day, the ideological and religious underpinnings of the “Greater Israel” project are consistent with America’s imperial design.

    While the Zionist agenda is not the driving force, it serves the useful purpose of misleading public opinion concerning America’s long war against the people of the Middle East.

    The Historical Context: A Sequence of Military Plans and Scenarios to Wage War on Iran

    Since the launching of the Theater Iran Near Term (TIRANNT) war games scenario in May 2003 (leaked classified doc), an escalation scenario involving military action directed against Iran and Syria had been envisaged, of which Syria was the first stage.

    TIRANNT was followed by a series of military plans pertaining to Iran. Numerous post 9/11 official statements and US military documents had pointed to an expanded Middle East war, involving the active participation of Israel.

    Israel is America’s ally. Military operations are closely coordinated. Israel does not act without Washington’s approval.

    U.S.-Israeli Air Defense

    Barely acknowledged by the media, the US and Israel have an integrated air defense system, which was set up in early 2009, shortly after the Israel invasion of Gaza under “Operation Cast Led”.

    The X-band radar air defense system set up by the US in Israel in 2009 would

    “integrate Israel’s missile defenses with the U.S. global missile detection network, which includes satellites, Aegis ships on the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and land-based Patriot radars and interceptors.” (Sen. Joseph Azzolina, Protecting Israel from Iran’s missiles, Bayshore News, December 26, 2008). )

    What this means is that Washington calls the shots. Confirmed by the Pentagon, the US military controls Israel’s Air Defense:

    ”This is and will remain a U.S. radar system,’ Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

    ‘So this is not something we are giving or selling to the Israelis and it is something that will likely require U.S. personnel on-site to operate.’” (Quoted in Israel National News, January 9, 2009, emphasis added).

    At the outset of Obama’s Second Term, the US and Israel initiated discussions pertaining to a “US personnel on site” presence in Israel, namely the establishment of a “permanent” and “official” military base inside Israel.

    And on September 17, 2017, a US Air Defense base located in the Negev desert was inaugurated.

    According to the Israeli IDF spokesperson, the objective is to send a “message to the region, ” including Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.

    Of utmost relevance:

    Israel would not be able to act unilaterally against Iran, without a green light from the Pentagon which controls key components of Israel’s air defense system.

    In practice, a war on Iran, would be a joint US-NATO-Israeli endeavor, coordinated by US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with America’s allies playing a key (subordinate) role.

    Michel Chossudovsky, October 31, 2017, November 11, 2023

    Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran

    by

    Michel Chossudovsky

    May 2005

    At the outset of Bush’s second term, Vice President Dick Cheney dropped a bombshell. He hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”:

    “One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked… Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,” (quoted from an MSNBC Interview Jan 2005)

    Israel is a Rottweiler on a leash: The US wants to “set Israel loose” to attack Iran. Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us:

    “Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.”

    The foregoing statements are misleading. The US is not “encouraging Israel”. What we are dealing with is a joint US-Israeli military operation to bomb Iran, which has been in the active planning stage for more than a year. The Neocons in the Defense Department, under Douglas Feith, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran (see Seymour Hersh)

    Under this working arrangement, Israel will not act unilaterally, without a green light from Washington. In other words, Israel will not implement an attack without the participation of the US.

    Covert Intelligence Operations: Stirring Ethnic Tensions in Iran

    Meanwhile, for the last two years, Washington has been involved in covert intelligence operations inside Iran. American and British intelligence and special forces (working with their Israeli counterparts) are involved in this operation.

    “A British intelligence official said that any campaign against Iran would not be a ground war like the one in Iraq. The Americans will use different tactics, said the intelligence officer. ‘It is getting quite scary.'” (Evening Standard, 17 June 2003)

    The expectation is that a US-Israeli bombing raid of Iran’s nuclear facilities will stir up ethnic tensions and trigger “regime change” in favor of the US. (See Arab Monitor).

    Bush advisers believe that the “Iranian opposition movement” will unseat the Mullahs. This assessment constitutes a gross misjudgment of social forces inside Iran. What is more likely to occur is that Iranians will consistently rally behind a wartime government against foreign aggression. In fact, the entire Middle East and beyond would rise up against US interventionism.

    Retaliation in the Case of a US-Israeli Aerial Attack

    Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel (CNN, 8 Feb 2005). These attacks, could also target US military facilities in the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.

    In other words, the air strikes against Iran could contribute to unleashing a war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region.

    Moreover, the planned attack on Iran should also be understood in relation to the timely withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, which has opened up a new space, for the deployment of Israeli forces. The participation of Turkey in the US-Israeli military operation is also a factor, following an agreement reached between Ankara and Tel Aviv.

    In other words, US and Israeli military planners must carefully weigh the far-reaching implications of their actions.

    Israel Builds up its Stockpile of Deadly Military Hardware

    A massive buildup in military hardware has occurred in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

    Israel has recently taken delivery from the US of some 5,000 “smart air launched weapons” including some 500 BLU 109 ‘bunker-buster bombs. The (uranium coated) munitions are said to be more than “adequate to address the full range of Iranian targets, with the possible exception of the buried facility at Natanz, which may require the [more powerful] BLU-113 bunker buster“:

    “Given Israel’s already substantial holdings of such weapons, this increase in its inventory would allow a sustained assault with or without further US involvement.” (See Richard Bennett)

    Gbu 28 Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28)

    The Israeli Air Force would attack Iran’s nuclear facility at Bushehr using US as well Israeli produced bunker buster bombs. The attack would be carried out in three separate waves “with the radar and communications jamming protection being provided by U.S. Air Force AWACS and other U.S. aircraft in the area”. (See W Madsen)

    Bear in mind that the bunker buster bombs can also be used to deliver tactical nuclear bombs. The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional” BLU 113. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb. (See Michel Chossudovsky, see also this)

    According to the Pentagon, tactical nuclear weapons are “safe for civilians”. Their use has been authorized by the US Senate. (See Michel Chossudovsky)

    Moreover, reported in late 2003, Israeli Dolphin-class submarines equipped with US Harpoon missiles armed with nuclear warheads are now aimed at Iran. (See Gordon Thomas)

    Even if tactical nuclear weapons are not used by Israel, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities not only raises the specter of a broader war, but also of nuclear radiation over a wide area:

    “To attack Iran’s nuclear facilities will not only provoke war, but it could also unleash clouds of radiation far beyond the targets and the borders of Iran.” (Statement of Prof Elias Tuma, Arab Internet Network, Federal News Service, 1 March 2005)

    Moreover, while most reports have centered on the issue of punitive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the strikes would most probably extend to other targets.

    While a ground war is contemplated as a possible “scenario” at the level of military planning, the US military would not be able to wage a an effective ground war, given the situation in Iraq. In the words of former National Security Adviser Lawrence Eagelberger:

    “We are not going to get in a ground war in Iran, I hope. If we get into that, we are in serious trouble. I don’t think anyone in Washington is seriously considering that.” ( quoted in the National Journal, 4 December 2004).

    Iran’s Military Capabilities

    Despite its overall weaknesses in relation to Israel and the US, Iran has an advanced air defense system, deployed to protect its nuclear sites; “they are dispersed and underground making potential air strikes difficult and without any guarantees of success.” (Jerusalem Post, 20 April 2005).

    It has upgraded its Shahab-3 missile, which can reach targets in Israel. Iran’s armed forces have recently conducted high-profile military exercises in anticipation of a US led attack. Iran also possesses some 12 X-55 strategic cruise missiles, produced by Ukraine. Iran’s air defense systems is said to feature Russian SA-2, SA-5, SA-6 as well as shoulder-launched SA-7 missiles (Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies).

    The US “Military Road Map”

    The Bush administration has officially identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”.

    Targeting Iran is a bipartisan project, which broadly serves the interests of the Anglo-American oil conglomerates, the Wall Street financial establishment and the military-industrial complex.

    The broader Middle East-Central Asian region encompasses more than 70% of the World’s reserves of oil and natural gas. Iran possesses 10% of the world’s oil and ranks third after Saudi Arabia (25 %) and Iraq (11 %) in the size of its reserves. In comparison, the US possesses less than 2.8 % of global oil reserves. (See Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil)

    The announcement to target Iran should come as no surprise. It is part of the battle for oil. Already during the Clinton administration, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade both Iraq and Iran:

    “The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil. (USCENTCOM, USPolicy , emphasis added)

    Main Military Actors

    While the US, Israel, as well as Turkey (with borders with both Iran and Syria) are the main actors in this process, a number of other countries, in the region, allies of the US, including several Central Asian former Soviet republics have been enlisted. Britain is closely involved despite its official denials at the diplomatic level. Turkey occupies a central role in the Iran operation. It has an extensive military cooperation agreement with Israel. There are indications that NATO is also formally involved in the context of an Israel-NATO agreement reached in November 2004.

    Planning The Aerial Attack on Iran

    According to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, George W. Bush has already signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran, scheduled for June.(See this)

    The June cut-off date should be understood. It does not signify that the attack will occur in June. What it suggests is that the US and Israel are “in a state of readiness” and are prepared to launch an attack by June or at a later date. In other words, the decision to launch the attack has not been made.

    Ritter’s observation concerning an impending military operation should nonetheless be taken seriously. In recent months, there is ample evidence that a major military operation is in preparation:

    1) several high profile military exercises have been conducted in recent months, involving military deployment and the testing of weapons systems.

    2) military planning meetings have been held between the various parties involved. There has been a shuttle of military and government officials between Washington, Tel Aviv and Ankara.

    3) A significant change in the military command structure in Israel has occurred, with the appointment of a new Chief of Staff.

    4) Intense diplomatic exchanges have been carried out at the international level with a view to securing areas of military cooperation and/or support for a US-Israeli led military operation directed against Iran.

    5) Ongoing intelligence operations inside Iran have been stepped up.

    6) Consensus Building: Media propaganda on the need to intervene in Iran has been stepped up, with daily reports on how Iran constitutes a threat to peace and global security.

    Timeline of Key Initiatives

    In the last few months, various key initiatives have been taken, which are broadly indicative that an aerial bombing of Iran is in the military pipeline:

    November 2004 in Brussels: NATO-Israel protocol: Israel’s IDF delegation to the NATO conference to met with military brass of six members of the Mediterranean basin nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. NATO seeks to revive the framework, known as the Mediterranean Dialogue program, which would include Israel. The Israeli delegation accepted to participate in military exercises and “anti-terror maneuvers” together with several Arab countries.

    January 2005: the US, Israel and Turkey held military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Syria. These exercises, which have been held in previous years were described as routine.

    February 2005. Following the decision reached in Brussels in November 2004, Israel was involved for the first time in military exercises with NATO, which also included several Arab countries.

    February 2005: Assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The assassination, which was blamed on Syria, serves Israeli and US interests and was used as a pretext to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

    February 2005: Sharon fires his Chief-of-Staff, Moshe Ya’alon and appoints Air Force General Dan Halutz. This is the first time in Israeli history that an Air Force General is appointed Chief of Staff (See Uri Avnery)

    The appointment of Major General Dan Halutz as IDF Chief of Staff is considered in Israeli political circles as “the appointment of the right man at the right time.” The central issue is that a major aerial operation against Iran is in the planning stage, and Maj General Halutz is slated to coordinate the aerial bombing raids on Iran. Halutz’s appointment was specifically linked to Israel’s Iran agenda: “As chief of staff, he will in the best position to prepare the military for such a scenario.”

    March 2005: NATO’s Secretary General was in Jerusalem for follow-up talks with Ariel Sharon and Israel’s military brass, following the joint NATO-Israel military exercise in February. These military cooperation ties are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.” The premise underlying NATO-Israel military cooperation is that Israel is under attack:

    “The more Israel’s image is strengthened as a country facing enemies who attempt to attack it for no justified reason, the greater will be the possibility that aid will be extended to Israel by NATO. Furthermore, Iran and Syria will have to take into account the possibility that the increasing cooperation between Israel and NATO will strengthen Israel’s links with Turkey, also a member of NATO. Given Turkey’s impressive military potential and its geographic proximity to both Iran and Syria, Israel’s operational options against them, if and when it sees the need, could gain considerable strength. ” (Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies, http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/sa/v7n4p4Shalom.html )

    The Israel-NATO protocol is all the more important because it obligates NATO to align itself with the US-Israeli plan to bomb Iran, as an act of self defense on the part of Israel. It also means that NATO is also involved in the process of military consultations relating to the planned aerial bombing of Iran. It is of course related to the bilateral military cooperation agreement between Israel and Turkey and the likelihood that part of the military operation will be launched from Turkey, which is a member of NATO.

    Late March 2005: News leaks in Israel indicated an “initial authorization” by Prime Minster Ariel Sharon of an Israeli attack on Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant “if diplomacy failed to stop Iran’s nuclear program”. (The Hindu, 28 March 2005)

    March-April 2005: The Holding in Israel of Joint US-Israeli military exercises specifically pertaining to the launching of Patriot missiles.

    US Patriot missile crews stationed in Germany were sent to Israel to participate in the joint Juniper Cobra exercise with the Israeli military. The exercise was described as routine and “unconnected to events in the Middle East”: “As always, we are interested in implementing lessons learned from training exercises.” (UPI, 9 March 2005).

    April 2005: Donald Rumsfeld (right) was on an official visits to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. His diplomatic endeavors were described by the Russian media as “literally circling Iran in an attempt to find the best bridgehead for a possible military operation against that country.”

    In Baku, Azerbaijan Rumsfeld was busy discussing the date for deployment of US troops in Azerbaijan on Iran’s North-Western border. US military bases described as “mobile groups” in Azerbaijan are slated to play a role in a military operation directed against Iran.

    Azerbaijan is a member of GUUAM, a military cooperation agreement with the US and NATO, which allows for the stationing of US troops in several of the member countries, including Georgia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. The stated short term objective is to “neutralize Iran”. The longer term objective under the Pentagon’s “Caspian Plan” is to exert military and economic control over the entire Caspian sea basin, with a view to ensuring US authority over oil reserves and pipeline corridors.

    During his visit in April, Rumsfeld was pushing the US initiative of establishing “American special task forces and military bases to secure US influence in the Caspian region:

    “Called Caspian Watch, the project stipulates a network of special task forces and police units in the countries of the regions to be used in emergencies including threats to objects of the oil complex and pipelines. Project Caspian Watch will be financed by the United States ($100 million). It will become an advance guard of the US European Command whose zone of responsibility includes the Caspian region. Command center of the project with a powerful radar is to be located in Baku.” ( Defense and Security Russia, April 27, 2005)

    Rumsfeld’s visit followed shortly after that of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s to Baku.

    April 2005: Iran signs a military cooperation with Tajikistan, which occupies a strategic position bordering Afghanistan’s Northern frontier. Tajikistan is a member of “The Shanghai Five” military cooperation group, which also includes Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. Iran also has economic cooperation agreements with Turkmenistan.

    Mid April 2005: Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets George W Bush at his Texas Ranch. Iran is on the agenda of bilateral talks. More significantly, the visit of Ariel Sharon was used to carry out high level talks between US and Israeli military planners pertaining to Iran.

    Late April 2005. President Vladmir Putin is in Israel on an official visit. He announces Russia’s decision to sell short-range anti-aircraft missiles to Syria and to continue supporting Iran’s nuclear industry. Beneath the gilded surface of international diplomacy, Putin’s timely visit to Israel must be interpreted as “a signal to Israel” regarding its planned aerial attack on Iran.

    Late April 2005: US pressure in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been exerted with a view to blocking the re-appointment of Mohammed Al Baradei, who according to US officials “is not being tough enough on Iran…” Following US pressures, the vote on the appointment of a new IAEA chief was put off until June. These developments suggest that Washington wants to put forth their own hand-picked nominee prior to launching US-Israeli aerial attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities. (See VOA). (In February 2003, Al Baradei along with UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix challenged the (phony) intelligence on WMD presented by the US to the UN Security Council, with a view to justifying the war on Iraq.)

    Late April 2005. Sale of deadly military hardware to Israel. GBU-28 Buster Bunker Bombs: Coinciding with Putin’s visit to Israel, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (Department of Defense) announced the sale of an additional 100 bunker-buster bombs produced by Lockheed Martin to Israel. This decision was viewed by the US media as “a warning to Iran about its nuclear ambitions.”

    The sale pertains to the larger and more sophisticated “Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) BLU-113 Penetrator” (including the WGU-36A/B guidance control unit and support equipment). The GBU-28 is described as “a special weapon for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground. The fact of the matter is that the GBU-28 is among the World’s most deadly “conventional” weapons used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, capable of causing thousands of civilian deaths through massive explosions.

    The Israeli Air Force are slated to use the GBU-28s on their F-15 aircraft. (See text of DSCA news release)

    Late April 2005- early May: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) in Israel for follow-up talks with Ariel Sharon. He was accompanied by his Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, who met with senior Israeli military officials. On the official agenda of these talks: joint defense projects, including the joint production of Arrow II Theater Missile Defense and Popeye II missiles. The latter also known as the Have Lite, are advanced small missiles, designed for deployment on fighter planes. Tel Aviv and Ankara decide to establish a hotline to share intelligence.

    May 2005: Syrian troops scheduled to withdraw from Lebanon, leading to a major shift in the Middle East security situation, in favor of Israel and the US.

    Iran Surrounded

    The US has troops and military bases in Turkey, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and of course Iraq.

    In other words, Iran is virtually surrounded by US military bases. (see Map below). These countries as well as Turkmenistan, are members of NATO`s partnership for Peace Program and have military cooperation agreements with NATO.



    Copyright Eric Waddell, Global Research, 2003

    In other words, we are dealing with a potentially explosive scenario in which a number of countries, including several former Soviet republics, could be brought into a US led war with Iran. IranAtom.ru, a Russian based news and military analysis group has suggested, in this regard:

    “since Iranian nuclear objects are scattered all over the country, Israel will need a mass strike with different fly-in and fly-out approaches – Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and other countries… Azerbaijan seriously fears Tehran’s reaction should Baku issue a permit to Israeli aircraft to overfly its territory.” (Defense and Security Russia, 12 April 2005).

    Concluding remarks

    The World is at an important crossroads.

    The Bush Administration has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.

    Iran is the next military target. The planned military operation, which is by no means limited to punitive strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities, is part of a project of World domination, a military roadmap, launched at the end of the Cold War.

    Military action against Iran would directly involve Israel’s participation, which in turn is likely to trigger a broader war throughout the Middle East, not to mention an implosion in the Palestinian occupied territories. Turkey is closely associated with the proposed aerial attacks.

    Israel is a nuclear power with a sophisticated nuclear arsenal. (See text box below). The use of nuclear weapons by Israel or the US cannot be excluded, particularly in view of the fact that tactical nuclear weapons have now been reclassified as a variant of the conventional bunker buster bombs and are authorized by the US Senate for use in conventional war theaters. (“they are harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”)

    In this regard, Israel and the US rather than Iran constitute a nuclear threat.

    The planned attack on Iran must be understood in relation to the existing active war theaters in the Middle East, namely Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.

    The conflict could easily spread from the Middle East to the Caspian sea basin. It could also involve the participation of Azerbaijan and Georgia, where US troops are stationed.

    An attack on Iran would have a direct impact on the resistance movement inside Iraq. It would also put pressure on America’s overstretched military capabilities and resources in both the Iraqi and Afghan war theaters. (The 150,000 US troops in Iraq are already fully engaged and could not be redeployed in the case of a war with Iran.)

    In other words, the shaky geopolitics of the Central Asia- Middle East region, the three existing war theaters in which America is currently, involved, the direct participation of Israel and Turkey, the structure of US sponsored military alliances, etc. raises the specter of a broader conflict.

    Moreover, US military action on Iran not only threatens Russian and Chinese interests, which have geopolitical interests in the Caspian sea basin and which have bilateral agreements with Iran. It also backlashes on European oil interests in Iran and is likely to produce major divisions between Western allies, between the US and its European partners as well as within the European Union.

    Through its participation in NATO, Europe, despite its reluctance, would be brought into the Iran operation. The participation of NATO largely hinges on a military cooperation agreement reached between NATO and Israel. This agreement would bind NATO to defend Israel against Syria and Iran. NATO would therefore support a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and could take on a more active role if Iran were to retaliate following US-Israeli air strikes.

    Needless to say, the war against Iran is part of a longer term US military agenda which seeks to militarize the entire Caspian sea basin, eventually leading to the destabilization and conquest of the Russian Federation.

    The Antiwar Movement

    The antiwar movement must act, consistently, to prevent the next phase of this war from happening.

    This is no easy matter. The holding of large antiwar rallies will not in itself reverse the tide of war.

    High ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military and the US Congress have been granted the authority to uphold an illegal war agenda.

    What is required is a grass roots network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the military and political actors, and which is ultimately instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name.

    War criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting the rulers, who are “committed to their safety and well-being”. Through media disinformation, war is given a humanitarian mandate.

    To reverse the tide of war, military bases must be closed down, the war machine (namely the production of advanced weapons systems) must be stopped and the burgeoning police state must be dismantled.

    The corporate backers and sponsors of war and war crimes must also be targeted including the oil companies, the defense contractors, the financial institutions and the corporate media, which has become an integral part of the war propaganda machine.

    Antiwar sentiment does not dismantle a war agenda. The war criminals in the US, Israel and Britain must be removed from high office.

    What is needed is to reveal the true face of the American Empire and the underlying criminalization of US foreign policy, which uses the “war on terrorism” and the threat of Al Qaeda to galvanize public opinion in support of a global war agenda.

    Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities

    With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publicly recognized as such.

    Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow…

    The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.”

    Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies. Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.”

    Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns.

    From John Steinbach, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal, Global Research



    https://www.globalresearch.ca/planned-us-israeli-attack-on-iran-2/5615443
    A Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran is Contemplated The U.S. led War on the People of Palestine and the Middle East is a Criminal Undertaking Introduction We stand in Solidarity with Palestine. But we must recognize that the United States Military and Intelligence apparatus is firmly behind Israel’s genocide directed against the People of Palestine. . And this must be part of the solidarity campaign, namely to Reveal the Truth regarding Washington’s insidious role, which is part of a carefully planned military agenda directed against Palestine and the broader Middle East. Netanyahu is a proxy, with a criminal record. He has the unbending support of Western Europe’s “Classe politique”. . The U.S. led War on the People of Palestine and the Middle East is a Criminal Undertaking Israel and the Zionist lobby in the U.S. are NOT exerting undue influence AGAINST U.S. Foreign Policy as outlined by numerous analysts. Quite the opposite. The Zionist lobby is firmly aligned with U.S. foreign policy, and Vice Versa. It targets those who are opposed to war, who call for a cease fire. It exerts influence in favour of the conduct of the U.S. military agenda in support of Israel. The US military-intelligence establishment in coordination with powerful financial interests is calling the shots in regards to Israel’s genocidal intent to “Wipe Palestine off the Map”. . America’s Military Doctrine: Deliberately Targeting and Killing Civilians The targeting of civilians and the killing of children in Gaza is modelled on numerous US sponsored massacres of civilians (1945-2023) including the 2004 attack on Fallujah. (More than 30 Million mainly civilian deaths in US-led wars in what is euphemistically called the “post War Era”). . Veteran War correspondent Felicity Arbuthnot reflected on the indescribable barbarity of the 2004 Fallujah massacre, which resulted in countless deaths and destruction. It was a genocide conducted by the U.S military: . “The Americans invaded, chillingly: “house to house, room to room”, raining death and destruction on the proud, ancient “City of Mosques.” Marines killed so many civilians that the municipal soccer stadium had to be turned into a graveyard … One correspondent wrote: “There has been nothing like the attack on Fallujah since the Nazi invasion and occupation of much of the European continent – the shelling and bombing of Warsaw in September 1939, the terror bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940.” Fallujah, 2004 . The U.S. is supportive of the Israeli genocide directed against the people of Palestine. Prime Minister Netanyahu is a criminal. He is Washington’s proxy, unreservedly endorsed and supported by the Biden Administration as well as the U.S. Congress. . Zionism constitutes the ideological underpinnings of contemporary U.S. imperialism and its unending war against the people of the Middle East. . The Zionist “Greater Israel” dogma –as in all wars of religion since the dawn of mankind– is there to mislead people Worldwide as to “who is really pulling the strings”. . Zionism has become a useful instrument which is embodied in U.S. military doctrine. The “Promised Land” broadly coincides with America’s hegemonic agenda in the Middle East, namely what the U.S. military has designated as the “New Middle East”. . Cui Bono: “To Whom Does it Benefit” There are strategic, geopolitical and economic objectives behind Israel’s genocide directed against the people of Palestine. “Crimes are often committed to benefit their perpetrators”: Israel’s War against the People of Palestine serves the interests of Big Money, the Military Industrial Complex, Corrupt Politicians… The Genocide is implemented by Netanyahu on behalf of the United States. The US military and intelligence apparatus are behind Israel’s criminal bombing and invasion of Gaza. The unfolding Middle East War is largely directed against Iran. . . Iran and the Nuclear Issue Historical Antecedents. Using Israel As a Means to Attacking Iran In 2003, the war on Iran project (Operation Theatre Iran Near Term, TIRANNT)) was already Déjà Vu. It had been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than 15 years. Let us recall that at the outset of Bush’s Second Term, Vice President Dick Cheney dropped a bombshell, hinting, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America. And that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us” [paraphrase] , without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”. For further details see my article below was first published by Global Research in May 2005, as well as PBS Interview with Z. Brzezinski This Dick Cheney-style option is currently (November 2023) once more on the drawing board of the Pentagon, namely the possibility that Israel which is already bombing Lebanon and Syria, would be incited to wage an attack on Iran (acting on behalf of the United States). US Congress Resolution (H. RES. 559) Accuses Iran of Possessing Nuclear Weapons Careful timing: In June 2023, the US House of Representatives adopted Resolution (H. RES. 559) which provides a “Green Light” to wage war on Iran. The US House passed a resolution that allows the use of force against Iran, intimating without a shred of evidence that Iran has Nuclear Weapons: Resolved, That the House of Representatives declares it is the policy of the United States— (1) that a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran is not acceptable; (2) that Iran must not be able to obtain a nuclear weapon under any circumstances or conditions; (3) to use all means necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon; and (4) to recognize and support the freedom of action of partners and allies, including Israel, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Click below to access the complete text of H. RES 559 Israel’s Undeclared Nuclear Weapons Arsenal Whereas Iran is tagged (without evidence) as a Nuclear Power by the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington fails to acknowledge that Israel is an undeclared nuclear power. In recent developments, Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, “admitted to the world that Israel has nuclear weapons ready to be used against Palestinians” The Times of Israel reported that: “Amichai Eliyahu said Sunday [November 5, 2023] that one of Israel’s options in the war against Hamas was to drop a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip” Video on Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Facility English subtitles . . The War on Energy Unspoken Objective of a US-NATO-Israel War against Iran: Natural Gas Reserves of Natural Gas: Iran ranks Second after Russia. Russia, Iran and Qatar possess 54.1 percent of the World’s reserves of natural gas. -Russia 24.3%, -Iran 17.3%, -Qatar, 12.5 % (in partnership with Iran) versus -5.3 % for the US President Joe Biden ordered to “blow up” (September 2022) the Nordstream Pipeline, which constitutes a U.S. Act of War against the European Union. In the words of Joe Biden: “There will be no longer a Nord Stream 2”. Statement at White House Press Conference (February 7, 2022) America’s strategic objective was, despite its meagre reserves of natural gas: To Force the European Union to buy LNG “Made in America”. What this implies is that America’s military agenda against Russia and Iran constitutes a means to hike up EU energy prices, which is an act economic warfare against the People of Europe. The Iran-Qatar Natural Gas Partnership The maritime gas reserves of the Persian Gulf are under a (joint ownership) partnership between Qatar and Iran (See diagram below). The Biden Administration is Intent upon Destabilizing the Iran-Qatar Partnership This partnership is supportive of the People of Palestine. In March 2022, “President Joe Biden following a meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheik Tamim “designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally of the United States, fulfilling the promise that he had made to Qatar earlier this year [2022], the White House said” Reuters “The designation is granted by the United States to close, non-NATO allies that have strategic working relationships with the U.S. military. Biden promised Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in January [2022] during a meeting at the White House that he would grant Qatar the special status.” Reuters See also followup Reuters article. What is at stake are cross-cutting coalitions. Qatar is a “Partner” of Iran in relation to the strategic reserves of maritime gas in the Persian Gulf. There is no formaI military cooperation between the two countries. Washington’s unspoken agenda is to break and/or destabilize Qatar’s Partnership with Iran, by integrating Qatar into the US-NATO military orbit. It is worth noting that a few days prior to the October 7, 2023 Hamas operation, the Emir of Qatar Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani “laid the foundation stone for the Northern Dome expansion project” in Iran’s Pars South Field (See map above). “the Emir of Qatar said the groundbreaking for the Northern Dome expansion project was laid today, which is in line with Qatar’s strategy to strengthen its position as a global LNG producer … This joint gas field, known as “South Pars” in Iran, is the largest natural gas field in the world and contains 50.97 trillion cubic meters of gas and about 7.9 billion cubic meters of natural gas condensate. At the time of writing, the implications of Qatar’s “Special Status” Military Alliance with the U.S. remain unclear. America’s Al-Udeid military base in Qatar (left) is the largest US base in the Middle East. Have the status and functions of Al Udeid changed since the signing of the March 2022 agreement designating Qatar as a “Major Non NATO Ally of the US” Qatar is both A Partner of Iran as well as a Major Non NATO Ally of the U.S. Reports confirm the development of a close relationship between the commanders of the US Air Force and the Qatari Emiri Air Force. Qatar is a “Powder Keg”? The U.S. foreign policy objective is to ultimately destroy and undermine that “friendship” with Iran which is highly valued and supported by Qatari citizens. The export of gas from South Pars North Dome transits through Iran, Turkey and Russia. Qatar, Russia and Iran (the 3 largest holders Worldwide of natural gas reserves) reached an agreement in 2009 to create a ‘Gas Troika’, a trilateral gas cooperation entity including the development of joint projects. A large number of countries including South Korea, India, Japan, China are importing LNG from Qatar. Last year (November 2022), “QatarEnergy signed a 27-year deal to supply China’s Sinopec with liquefied natural gas”. Qatar has also a strategic alliance with China. Washington’s objective under the disguise of America’s “Major Non-NATO Alliance” with Qatar is to: Break the Qatar-Iran Partnership Exclude Iran from the Joint Maritime Gas Field Exert US Control over the Maritime Gas Field in the Persian Gulf Weaken and Disable the “Gas Troika” (Russia, Iran, Qatar) Create Chaos in the Global Energy Market, Undermine the Trade in Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) to Numerous Countries . Iran. Third Largest Reserves of Oil Worldwide Iran is not only second in terms of its gas reserves after Russia, it ranks third Worldwide in relation to its oil reserves (12% of Worldwide oil reserves) versus a meagre 4% for the U.S. The Ben Gurion Canal Project . U.S. Seeks Dominance over Strategic International Waterways The Ben Gurion Canal Project was initially a “secret” (classified) U.S. project formulated in 1963 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory LLNG, a strategic think tank (focussing on nuclear radiation) on contract with the U.S Department of Energy. The LLNG project was formulated in response to the nationalization of the Suez Canal in July 1956 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1956-1970). Its intent was to bypass the Suez Canal. The Ben Gurion Canal project is currently contemplated as means control the channels of international maritime trade to the detriment of the people of the Middle East. It also seeks to destabilize China’s maritime commodity trade. In the context of the broader US-led Middle East War, the Ben Gurion Canal Project is part of America’s hegemonic military agenda. It is consistent with Netanyahu’s “Plan to Wipe Palestine Off the Map”. According to Yvonne Ridley: “The only thing stopping the newly-revised [Ben Gurion Canal] project from being revived and rubber-stamped is the presence of the Palestinians in Gaza. As far as Netanyahu is concerned they are standing in the way of the project” (Yvonne Ridley, November 10, 2023, emphasis added) The U.S led war is intent upon confiscating all Palestinian territories, which would be appropriated by the State of Israel, acting as a strategic “Anglo-American Hub” in the Middle East: The Ben Gurion Canal will give Israel in particular and other friendly nations the freedom from blackmail arising out of access to the Suez Canal. Arab states have been leveraging the Red Sea to pressure Israel and in response, Israel has decided to gain more control of the Red Sea. These African countries have cultural and economic affinities with the Arab states. One of the main military benefits for Israel is that it gives Israel the strategic options as the Ben Gurion Canal will totally take away the importance of Suez for the US military if needed in the aid for Israel. Israel aims to push Egypt further into a corner by eliminating Suez in the global trade and energy corridor and becoming a global trade and energy logistics center. Experts are of the opinion that this situation will shake the strategic-energy balance of China’s Belt and Road Project initiative in the Mediterranean, along with the Strait of Hormuz, which is the transfer point of 30 percent of the world’s energy. The Ben Gurion Canal would have the solid backing of the West. (Eurasia Review, November 7, 2023, emphasis added) . “Greater Israel”. Strategic “Anglo-American Hub” The Promised Land of Greater Israel coincides with America’s Colonial Design in the Middle East The Greater Israel design is not strictly a Zionist Project for the Middle East, it is an integral part of US foreign policy, its strategic objective is to extend US hegemony as well as fracture and balkanize the Middle East. In this regard, Washington’s strategy consists in destabilizing and weakening regional economic powers in the Middle East including Turkey and Iran. This policy –which is consistent with the Greater Israel– is accompanied by a process of political fragmentation. Since the Gulf war (1991), the Pentagon has contemplated the creation of a “Free Kurdistan” which would include the annexation of parts of Iraq, Syria and Iran as well as Turkey “The New Middle East”: Unofficial US Military Academy Map by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters . “America’s Promised Land”. Global Warfare When viewed in the current context, including the siege on Gaza, the Zionist Plan for the Middle East coincides with America’s long war against the Middle East. As we mentioned earlier the Zionist agenda provides an ideological and religious justification of America’s long war against the Middle East. The 1979-80. the so-called Soviet Afghan War, engineered by the CIA The 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War engineered by the U.S. The 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, The 2001 The US-NATO Invasion of Afghanistan, The 2003 Invasion of Iraq The 2006 War on Lebanon, The Arab Spring, The 2011 war on Libya, The 2015 war on Yemen Obama’s 2014-2017 “Counter-Terrorism” Operation against Iraq and Syria The ongoing wars against Syria, Iraq and Yemen The “Greater Israel” project consists in weakening and eventually fracturing neighboring Arab states as part of a US-Israeli expansionist project, with the support of NATO. Needless to day, the ideological and religious underpinnings of the “Greater Israel” project are consistent with America’s imperial design. While the Zionist agenda is not the driving force, it serves the useful purpose of misleading public opinion concerning America’s long war against the people of the Middle East. The Historical Context: A Sequence of Military Plans and Scenarios to Wage War on Iran Since the launching of the Theater Iran Near Term (TIRANNT) war games scenario in May 2003 (leaked classified doc), an escalation scenario involving military action directed against Iran and Syria had been envisaged, of which Syria was the first stage. TIRANNT was followed by a series of military plans pertaining to Iran. Numerous post 9/11 official statements and US military documents had pointed to an expanded Middle East war, involving the active participation of Israel. Israel is America’s ally. Military operations are closely coordinated. Israel does not act without Washington’s approval. U.S.-Israeli Air Defense Barely acknowledged by the media, the US and Israel have an integrated air defense system, which was set up in early 2009, shortly after the Israel invasion of Gaza under “Operation Cast Led”. The X-band radar air defense system set up by the US in Israel in 2009 would “integrate Israel’s missile defenses with the U.S. global missile detection network, which includes satellites, Aegis ships on the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and Red Sea, and land-based Patriot radars and interceptors.” (Sen. Joseph Azzolina, Protecting Israel from Iran’s missiles, Bayshore News, December 26, 2008). ) What this means is that Washington calls the shots. Confirmed by the Pentagon, the US military controls Israel’s Air Defense: ”This is and will remain a U.S. radar system,’ Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said. ‘So this is not something we are giving or selling to the Israelis and it is something that will likely require U.S. personnel on-site to operate.’” (Quoted in Israel National News, January 9, 2009, emphasis added). At the outset of Obama’s Second Term, the US and Israel initiated discussions pertaining to a “US personnel on site” presence in Israel, namely the establishment of a “permanent” and “official” military base inside Israel. And on September 17, 2017, a US Air Defense base located in the Negev desert was inaugurated. According to the Israeli IDF spokesperson, the objective is to send a “message to the region, ” including Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. Of utmost relevance: Israel would not be able to act unilaterally against Iran, without a green light from the Pentagon which controls key components of Israel’s air defense system. In practice, a war on Iran, would be a joint US-NATO-Israeli endeavor, coordinated by US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with America’s allies playing a key (subordinate) role. Michel Chossudovsky, October 31, 2017, November 11, 2023 Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran by Michel Chossudovsky May 2005 At the outset of Bush’s second term, Vice President Dick Cheney dropped a bombshell. He hinted, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was “right at the top of the list” of the rogue enemies of America, and that Israel would, so to speak, “be doing the bombing for us”, without US military involvement and without us putting pressure on them “to do it”: “One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked… Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,” (quoted from an MSNBC Interview Jan 2005) Israel is a Rottweiler on a leash: The US wants to “set Israel loose” to attack Iran. Commenting the Vice President’s assertion, former National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in an interview on PBS, confirmed with some apprehension, yes: Cheney wants Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to act on America’s behalf and “do it” for us: “Iran I think is more ambiguous. And there the issue is certainly not tyranny; it’s nuclear weapons. And the vice president today in a kind of a strange parallel statement to this declaration of freedom hinted that the Israelis may do it and in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it.” The foregoing statements are misleading. The US is not “encouraging Israel”. What we are dealing with is a joint US-Israeli military operation to bomb Iran, which has been in the active planning stage for more than a year. The Neocons in the Defense Department, under Douglas Feith, have been working assiduously with their Israeli military and intelligence counterparts, carefully identifying targets inside Iran (see Seymour Hersh) Under this working arrangement, Israel will not act unilaterally, without a green light from Washington. In other words, Israel will not implement an attack without the participation of the US. Covert Intelligence Operations: Stirring Ethnic Tensions in Iran Meanwhile, for the last two years, Washington has been involved in covert intelligence operations inside Iran. American and British intelligence and special forces (working with their Israeli counterparts) are involved in this operation. “A British intelligence official said that any campaign against Iran would not be a ground war like the one in Iraq. The Americans will use different tactics, said the intelligence officer. ‘It is getting quite scary.'” (Evening Standard, 17 June 2003) The expectation is that a US-Israeli bombing raid of Iran’s nuclear facilities will stir up ethnic tensions and trigger “regime change” in favor of the US. (See Arab Monitor). Bush advisers believe that the “Iranian opposition movement” will unseat the Mullahs. This assessment constitutes a gross misjudgment of social forces inside Iran. What is more likely to occur is that Iranians will consistently rally behind a wartime government against foreign aggression. In fact, the entire Middle East and beyond would rise up against US interventionism. Retaliation in the Case of a US-Israeli Aerial Attack Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel (CNN, 8 Feb 2005). These attacks, could also target US military facilities in the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war. In other words, the air strikes against Iran could contribute to unleashing a war in the broader Middle East Central Asian region. Moreover, the planned attack on Iran should also be understood in relation to the timely withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, which has opened up a new space, for the deployment of Israeli forces. The participation of Turkey in the US-Israeli military operation is also a factor, following an agreement reached between Ankara and Tel Aviv. In other words, US and Israeli military planners must carefully weigh the far-reaching implications of their actions. Israel Builds up its Stockpile of Deadly Military Hardware A massive buildup in military hardware has occurred in preparation for a possible attack on Iran. Israel has recently taken delivery from the US of some 5,000 “smart air launched weapons” including some 500 BLU 109 ‘bunker-buster bombs. The (uranium coated) munitions are said to be more than “adequate to address the full range of Iranian targets, with the possible exception of the buried facility at Natanz, which may require the [more powerful] BLU-113 bunker buster“: “Given Israel’s already substantial holdings of such weapons, this increase in its inventory would allow a sustained assault with or without further US involvement.” (See Richard Bennett) Gbu 28 Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) The Israeli Air Force would attack Iran’s nuclear facility at Bushehr using US as well Israeli produced bunker buster bombs. The attack would be carried out in three separate waves “with the radar and communications jamming protection being provided by U.S. Air Force AWACS and other U.S. aircraft in the area”. (See W Madsen) Bear in mind that the bunker buster bombs can also be used to deliver tactical nuclear bombs. The B61-11 is the “nuclear version” of the “conventional” BLU 113. It can be delivered in much same way as the conventional bunker buster bomb. (See Michel Chossudovsky, see also this) According to the Pentagon, tactical nuclear weapons are “safe for civilians”. Their use has been authorized by the US Senate. (See Michel Chossudovsky) Moreover, reported in late 2003, Israeli Dolphin-class submarines equipped with US Harpoon missiles armed with nuclear warheads are now aimed at Iran. (See Gordon Thomas) Even if tactical nuclear weapons are not used by Israel, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities not only raises the specter of a broader war, but also of nuclear radiation over a wide area: “To attack Iran’s nuclear facilities will not only provoke war, but it could also unleash clouds of radiation far beyond the targets and the borders of Iran.” (Statement of Prof Elias Tuma, Arab Internet Network, Federal News Service, 1 March 2005) Moreover, while most reports have centered on the issue of punitive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the strikes would most probably extend to other targets. While a ground war is contemplated as a possible “scenario” at the level of military planning, the US military would not be able to wage a an effective ground war, given the situation in Iraq. In the words of former National Security Adviser Lawrence Eagelberger: “We are not going to get in a ground war in Iran, I hope. If we get into that, we are in serious trouble. I don’t think anyone in Washington is seriously considering that.” ( quoted in the National Journal, 4 December 2004). Iran’s Military Capabilities Despite its overall weaknesses in relation to Israel and the US, Iran has an advanced air defense system, deployed to protect its nuclear sites; “they are dispersed and underground making potential air strikes difficult and without any guarantees of success.” (Jerusalem Post, 20 April 2005). It has upgraded its Shahab-3 missile, which can reach targets in Israel. Iran’s armed forces have recently conducted high-profile military exercises in anticipation of a US led attack. Iran also possesses some 12 X-55 strategic cruise missiles, produced by Ukraine. Iran’s air defense systems is said to feature Russian SA-2, SA-5, SA-6 as well as shoulder-launched SA-7 missiles (Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies). The US “Military Road Map” The Bush administration has officially identified Iran and Syria as the next stage of “the road map to war”. Targeting Iran is a bipartisan project, which broadly serves the interests of the Anglo-American oil conglomerates, the Wall Street financial establishment and the military-industrial complex. The broader Middle East-Central Asian region encompasses more than 70% of the World’s reserves of oil and natural gas. Iran possesses 10% of the world’s oil and ranks third after Saudi Arabia (25 %) and Iraq (11 %) in the size of its reserves. In comparison, the US possesses less than 2.8 % of global oil reserves. (See Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil) The announcement to target Iran should come as no surprise. It is part of the battle for oil. Already during the Clinton administration, US Central Command (USCENTCOM) had formulated “in war theater plans” to invade both Iraq and Iran: “The broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman’s National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command’s theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM’s theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region – uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil. (USCENTCOM, USPolicy , emphasis added) Main Military Actors While the US, Israel, as well as Turkey (with borders with both Iran and Syria) are the main actors in this process, a number of other countries, in the region, allies of the US, including several Central Asian former Soviet republics have been enlisted. Britain is closely involved despite its official denials at the diplomatic level. Turkey occupies a central role in the Iran operation. It has an extensive military cooperation agreement with Israel. There are indications that NATO is also formally involved in the context of an Israel-NATO agreement reached in November 2004. Planning The Aerial Attack on Iran According to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, George W. Bush has already signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran, scheduled for June.(See this) The June cut-off date should be understood. It does not signify that the attack will occur in June. What it suggests is that the US and Israel are “in a state of readiness” and are prepared to launch an attack by June or at a later date. In other words, the decision to launch the attack has not been made. Ritter’s observation concerning an impending military operation should nonetheless be taken seriously. In recent months, there is ample evidence that a major military operation is in preparation: 1) several high profile military exercises have been conducted in recent months, involving military deployment and the testing of weapons systems. 2) military planning meetings have been held between the various parties involved. There has been a shuttle of military and government officials between Washington, Tel Aviv and Ankara. 3) A significant change in the military command structure in Israel has occurred, with the appointment of a new Chief of Staff. 4) Intense diplomatic exchanges have been carried out at the international level with a view to securing areas of military cooperation and/or support for a US-Israeli led military operation directed against Iran. 5) Ongoing intelligence operations inside Iran have been stepped up. 6) Consensus Building: Media propaganda on the need to intervene in Iran has been stepped up, with daily reports on how Iran constitutes a threat to peace and global security. Timeline of Key Initiatives In the last few months, various key initiatives have been taken, which are broadly indicative that an aerial bombing of Iran is in the military pipeline: November 2004 in Brussels: NATO-Israel protocol: Israel’s IDF delegation to the NATO conference to met with military brass of six members of the Mediterranean basin nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. NATO seeks to revive the framework, known as the Mediterranean Dialogue program, which would include Israel. The Israeli delegation accepted to participate in military exercises and “anti-terror maneuvers” together with several Arab countries. January 2005: the US, Israel and Turkey held military exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Syria. These exercises, which have been held in previous years were described as routine. February 2005. Following the decision reached in Brussels in November 2004, Israel was involved for the first time in military exercises with NATO, which also included several Arab countries. February 2005: Assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The assassination, which was blamed on Syria, serves Israeli and US interests and was used as a pretext to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. February 2005: Sharon fires his Chief-of-Staff, Moshe Ya’alon and appoints Air Force General Dan Halutz. This is the first time in Israeli history that an Air Force General is appointed Chief of Staff (See Uri Avnery) The appointment of Major General Dan Halutz as IDF Chief of Staff is considered in Israeli political circles as “the appointment of the right man at the right time.” The central issue is that a major aerial operation against Iran is in the planning stage, and Maj General Halutz is slated to coordinate the aerial bombing raids on Iran. Halutz’s appointment was specifically linked to Israel’s Iran agenda: “As chief of staff, he will in the best position to prepare the military for such a scenario.” March 2005: NATO’s Secretary General was in Jerusalem for follow-up talks with Ariel Sharon and Israel’s military brass, following the joint NATO-Israel military exercise in February. These military cooperation ties are viewed by the Israeli military as a means to “enhance Israel’s deterrence capability regarding potential enemies threatening it, mainly Iran and Syria.” The premise underlying NATO-Israel military cooperation is that Israel is under attack: “The more Israel’s image is strengthened as a country facing enemies who attempt to attack it for no justified reason, the greater will be the possibility that aid will be extended to Israel by NATO. Furthermore, Iran and Syria will have to take into account the possibility that the increasing cooperation between Israel and NATO will strengthen Israel’s links with Turkey, also a member of NATO. Given Turkey’s impressive military potential and its geographic proximity to both Iran and Syria, Israel’s operational options against them, if and when it sees the need, could gain considerable strength. ” (Jaffa Center for Strategic Studies, http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/sa/v7n4p4Shalom.html ) The Israel-NATO protocol is all the more important because it obligates NATO to align itself with the US-Israeli plan to bomb Iran, as an act of self defense on the part of Israel. It also means that NATO is also involved in the process of military consultations relating to the planned aerial bombing of Iran. It is of course related to the bilateral military cooperation agreement between Israel and Turkey and the likelihood that part of the military operation will be launched from Turkey, which is a member of NATO. Late March 2005: News leaks in Israel indicated an “initial authorization” by Prime Minster Ariel Sharon of an Israeli attack on Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant “if diplomacy failed to stop Iran’s nuclear program”. (The Hindu, 28 March 2005) March-April 2005: The Holding in Israel of Joint US-Israeli military exercises specifically pertaining to the launching of Patriot missiles. US Patriot missile crews stationed in Germany were sent to Israel to participate in the joint Juniper Cobra exercise with the Israeli military. The exercise was described as routine and “unconnected to events in the Middle East”: “As always, we are interested in implementing lessons learned from training exercises.” (UPI, 9 March 2005). April 2005: Donald Rumsfeld (right) was on an official visits to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. His diplomatic endeavors were described by the Russian media as “literally circling Iran in an attempt to find the best bridgehead for a possible military operation against that country.” In Baku, Azerbaijan Rumsfeld was busy discussing the date for deployment of US troops in Azerbaijan on Iran’s North-Western border. US military bases described as “mobile groups” in Azerbaijan are slated to play a role in a military operation directed against Iran. Azerbaijan is a member of GUUAM, a military cooperation agreement with the US and NATO, which allows for the stationing of US troops in several of the member countries, including Georgia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan. The stated short term objective is to “neutralize Iran”. The longer term objective under the Pentagon’s “Caspian Plan” is to exert military and economic control over the entire Caspian sea basin, with a view to ensuring US authority over oil reserves and pipeline corridors. During his visit in April, Rumsfeld was pushing the US initiative of establishing “American special task forces and military bases to secure US influence in the Caspian region: “Called Caspian Watch, the project stipulates a network of special task forces and police units in the countries of the regions to be used in emergencies including threats to objects of the oil complex and pipelines. Project Caspian Watch will be financed by the United States ($100 million). It will become an advance guard of the US European Command whose zone of responsibility includes the Caspian region. Command center of the project with a powerful radar is to be located in Baku.” ( Defense and Security Russia, April 27, 2005) Rumsfeld’s visit followed shortly after that of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s to Baku. April 2005: Iran signs a military cooperation with Tajikistan, which occupies a strategic position bordering Afghanistan’s Northern frontier. Tajikistan is a member of “The Shanghai Five” military cooperation group, which also includes Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. Iran also has economic cooperation agreements with Turkmenistan. Mid April 2005: Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets George W Bush at his Texas Ranch. Iran is on the agenda of bilateral talks. More significantly, the visit of Ariel Sharon was used to carry out high level talks between US and Israeli military planners pertaining to Iran. Late April 2005. President Vladmir Putin is in Israel on an official visit. He announces Russia’s decision to sell short-range anti-aircraft missiles to Syria and to continue supporting Iran’s nuclear industry. Beneath the gilded surface of international diplomacy, Putin’s timely visit to Israel must be interpreted as “a signal to Israel” regarding its planned aerial attack on Iran. Late April 2005: US pressure in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been exerted with a view to blocking the re-appointment of Mohammed Al Baradei, who according to US officials “is not being tough enough on Iran…” Following US pressures, the vote on the appointment of a new IAEA chief was put off until June. These developments suggest that Washington wants to put forth their own hand-picked nominee prior to launching US-Israeli aerial attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities. (See VOA). (In February 2003, Al Baradei along with UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix challenged the (phony) intelligence on WMD presented by the US to the UN Security Council, with a view to justifying the war on Iraq.) Late April 2005. Sale of deadly military hardware to Israel. GBU-28 Buster Bunker Bombs: Coinciding with Putin’s visit to Israel, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (Department of Defense) announced the sale of an additional 100 bunker-buster bombs produced by Lockheed Martin to Israel. This decision was viewed by the US media as “a warning to Iran about its nuclear ambitions.” The sale pertains to the larger and more sophisticated “Guided Bomb Unit-28 (GBU-28) BLU-113 Penetrator” (including the WGU-36A/B guidance control unit and support equipment). The GBU-28 is described as “a special weapon for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground. The fact of the matter is that the GBU-28 is among the World’s most deadly “conventional” weapons used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, capable of causing thousands of civilian deaths through massive explosions. The Israeli Air Force are slated to use the GBU-28s on their F-15 aircraft. (See text of DSCA news release) Late April 2005- early May: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) in Israel for follow-up talks with Ariel Sharon. He was accompanied by his Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, who met with senior Israeli military officials. On the official agenda of these talks: joint defense projects, including the joint production of Arrow II Theater Missile Defense and Popeye II missiles. The latter also known as the Have Lite, are advanced small missiles, designed for deployment on fighter planes. Tel Aviv and Ankara decide to establish a hotline to share intelligence. May 2005: Syrian troops scheduled to withdraw from Lebanon, leading to a major shift in the Middle East security situation, in favor of Israel and the US. Iran Surrounded The US has troops and military bases in Turkey, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and of course Iraq. In other words, Iran is virtually surrounded by US military bases. (see Map below). These countries as well as Turkmenistan, are members of NATO`s partnership for Peace Program and have military cooperation agreements with NATO. Copyright Eric Waddell, Global Research, 2003 In other words, we are dealing with a potentially explosive scenario in which a number of countries, including several former Soviet republics, could be brought into a US led war with Iran. IranAtom.ru, a Russian based news and military analysis group has suggested, in this regard: “since Iranian nuclear objects are scattered all over the country, Israel will need a mass strike with different fly-in and fly-out approaches – Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and other countries… Azerbaijan seriously fears Tehran’s reaction should Baku issue a permit to Israeli aircraft to overfly its territory.” (Defense and Security Russia, 12 April 2005). Concluding remarks The World is at an important crossroads. The Bush Administration has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. Iran is the next military target. The planned military operation, which is by no means limited to punitive strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities, is part of a project of World domination, a military roadmap, launched at the end of the Cold War. Military action against Iran would directly involve Israel’s participation, which in turn is likely to trigger a broader war throughout the Middle East, not to mention an implosion in the Palestinian occupied territories. Turkey is closely associated with the proposed aerial attacks. Israel is a nuclear power with a sophisticated nuclear arsenal. (See text box below). The use of nuclear weapons by Israel or the US cannot be excluded, particularly in view of the fact that tactical nuclear weapons have now been reclassified as a variant of the conventional bunker buster bombs and are authorized by the US Senate for use in conventional war theaters. (“they are harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”) In this regard, Israel and the US rather than Iran constitute a nuclear threat. The planned attack on Iran must be understood in relation to the existing active war theaters in the Middle East, namely Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. The conflict could easily spread from the Middle East to the Caspian sea basin. It could also involve the participation of Azerbaijan and Georgia, where US troops are stationed. An attack on Iran would have a direct impact on the resistance movement inside Iraq. It would also put pressure on America’s overstretched military capabilities and resources in both the Iraqi and Afghan war theaters. (The 150,000 US troops in Iraq are already fully engaged and could not be redeployed in the case of a war with Iran.) In other words, the shaky geopolitics of the Central Asia- Middle East region, the three existing war theaters in which America is currently, involved, the direct participation of Israel and Turkey, the structure of US sponsored military alliances, etc. raises the specter of a broader conflict. Moreover, US military action on Iran not only threatens Russian and Chinese interests, which have geopolitical interests in the Caspian sea basin and which have bilateral agreements with Iran. It also backlashes on European oil interests in Iran and is likely to produce major divisions between Western allies, between the US and its European partners as well as within the European Union. Through its participation in NATO, Europe, despite its reluctance, would be brought into the Iran operation. The participation of NATO largely hinges on a military cooperation agreement reached between NATO and Israel. This agreement would bind NATO to defend Israel against Syria and Iran. NATO would therefore support a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and could take on a more active role if Iran were to retaliate following US-Israeli air strikes. Needless to say, the war against Iran is part of a longer term US military agenda which seeks to militarize the entire Caspian sea basin, eventually leading to the destabilization and conquest of the Russian Federation. The Antiwar Movement The antiwar movement must act, consistently, to prevent the next phase of this war from happening. This is no easy matter. The holding of large antiwar rallies will not in itself reverse the tide of war. High ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military and the US Congress have been granted the authority to uphold an illegal war agenda. What is required is a grass roots network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the military and political actors, and which is ultimately instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name. War criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting the rulers, who are “committed to their safety and well-being”. Through media disinformation, war is given a humanitarian mandate. To reverse the tide of war, military bases must be closed down, the war machine (namely the production of advanced weapons systems) must be stopped and the burgeoning police state must be dismantled. The corporate backers and sponsors of war and war crimes must also be targeted including the oil companies, the defense contractors, the financial institutions and the corporate media, which has become an integral part of the war propaganda machine. Antiwar sentiment does not dismantle a war agenda. The war criminals in the US, Israel and Britain must be removed from high office. What is needed is to reveal the true face of the American Empire and the underlying criminalization of US foreign policy, which uses the “war on terrorism” and the threat of Al Qaeda to galvanize public opinion in support of a global war agenda. Israel’s Nuclear Capabilities With between 200 and 500 thermonuclear weapons and a sophisticated delivery system, Israel has quietly supplanted Britain as the World’s 5th Largest nuclear power, and may currently rival France and China in the size and sophistication of its nuclear arsenal. Although dwarfed by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, each possessing over 10,000 nuclear weapons, Israel nonetheless is a major nuclear power, and should be publicly recognized as such. Today, estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of about 500. Whatever the number, there is little doubt that Israeli nukes are among the world’s most sophisticated, largely designed for “war fighting” in the Middle East. A staple of the Israeli nuclear arsenal are “neutron bombs,” miniaturized thermonuclear bombs designed to maximize deadly gamma radiation while minimizing blast effects and long term radiation- in essence designed to kill people while leaving property intact.(16) Weapons include ballistic missiles and bombers capable of reaching Moscow… The bombs themselves range in size from “city busters” larger than the Hiroshima Bomb to tactical mini nukes. The Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction clearly dwarfs the actual or potential arsenals of all other Middle Eastern states combined, and is vastly greater than any conceivable need for “deterrence.” Many Middle East Peace activists have been reluctant to discuss, let alone challenge, the Israeli monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region, often leading to incomplete and uninformed analyses and flawed action strategies. Placing the issue of Israeli weapons of mass destruction directly and honestly on the table and action agenda would have several salutary effects. First, it would expose a primary destabilizing dynamic driving the Middle East arms race and compelling the region’s states to each seek their own “deterrent.” Second, it would expose the grotesque double standard which sees the U.S. and Europe on the one hand condemning Iraq, Iran and Syria for developing weapons of mass destruction, while simultaneously protecting and enabling the principal culprit. Third, exposing Israel’s nuclear strategy would focus international public attention, resulting in increased pressure to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and negotiate a just peace in good faith. Finally, a nuclear free Israel would make a Nuclear Free Middle East and a comprehensive regional peace agreement much more likely. Unless and until the world community confronts Israel over its covert nuclear program it is unlikely that there will be any meaningful resolution of the Israeli/Arab conflict, a fact that Israel may be counting on as the Sharon era dawns. From John Steinbach, Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal, Global Research https://www.globalresearch.ca/planned-us-israeli-attack-on-iran-2/5615443
    WWW.GLOBALRESEARCH.CA
    A Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran is Contemplated
    Introduction We stand in Solidarity with Palestine. But we must recognize that the United States Military and Intelligence apparatus is firmly behind Israel’s genocide directed against the People of Palestine. . And this must be part of the solidarity campaign, namely to Reveal the Truth regarding Washington’s insidious role, which is part of a carefully planned military agenda directed against Palestine …
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  • ⚠️🇺🇦From Kiev to Gaza: NATO weapons found on Gaza battlefield?

    British denials crumble as NATO arms flood global hotspots! The UK government's feeble claims of 'Russian disinformation' are laughably inadequate in the face of mounting evidence:

    A growing number of credible experts, challenging Britain’s former defence minister, declare his assertions as dangerously misleading. But now, this denial is being exposed for what it is – dangerous indulgence – as British and NATO weapons are turning up in all the world’s hotspots around the world in the hands of terrorists who are using them, ironically against the West.

    Little wonder that the British government doesn’t want journalists delving into this incendiary subject, but as Martin Jay finds out, it is worse than we think. What is the British government covering up? Why must the whole subject of British weapons sent to Ukraine be shrouded in secrecy and protected?

    👉 Click here 👈 to read this bombshell, long form piece for the Islander by the British award-winning journalist Martin Jay and discover what he finds when he digs deeper, uncovering the inconvenient, cynical truth.

    🎙Subscribe @TheIslanderNews
    ⚠️🇺🇦From Kiev to Gaza: NATO weapons found on Gaza battlefield? British denials crumble as NATO arms flood global hotspots! The UK government's feeble claims of 'Russian disinformation' are laughably inadequate in the face of mounting evidence: A growing number of credible experts, challenging Britain’s former defence minister, declare his assertions as dangerously misleading. But now, this denial is being exposed for what it is – dangerous indulgence – as British and NATO weapons are turning up in all the world’s hotspots around the world in the hands of terrorists who are using them, ironically against the West. Little wonder that the British government doesn’t want journalists delving into this incendiary subject, but as Martin Jay finds out, it is worse than we think. What is the British government covering up? Why must the whole subject of British weapons sent to Ukraine be shrouded in secrecy and protected? 👉 Click here 👈 to read this bombshell, long form piece for the Islander by the British award-winning journalist Martin Jay and discover what he finds when he digs deeper, uncovering the inconvenient, cynical truth. 🎙Subscribe @TheIslanderNews
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  • The 'Hamas human shield' justification for Israeli war crimes
    Zionist projection is the default Hasbara strategy

    vanessa beeley

    What separates Israel, the United States and other democracies when it comes to incredibly difficult situations like this is our respect for international law and, as appropriate, the laws of war. We do everything we can, in these situations, to avoid civilian casualties.

    That is in direct contrast with Hamas which uses people as human shields. It [Hamas] actually seeks to put Palestinian civilians in situations where they could be harmed. This is very much part of the game plan. We know Israel will take all the precautions it can, just as we would, again that is what separates us from Hamas and terrorist groups that engage in the most heinous kind of activities

    US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken

    If you actually listen to the clip of Blinken justifying Israeli brutality you will hear how he stumbles over his words. He knows he is lying in my opinion. The 4000 plus dead children, 10,328 dead civilians, 26000 injured and 2300 missing believed buried under the rubble of Israeli bombs does not substantiate Blinken’s claims of adherence to international law.

    The Israeli bombing of humanitarian convoys, ambulances, paramedics, Civil Defence headquarters, journalists - 50 killed so far, hospitals, makeshift refugee centres, places of worship - mosques and churches, schools, UNWRA facilities, humanitarian aid supplies including essential bottled water supplies, sewage treatment plants, bridges, solar panels, electricity and internet, media buildings, fisherman’s boats, flour stores, burning of food crops - all these targets are in direct violation of any rule of war or human rights conventions.

    The deliberate policy of starvation and the cutting off of water, food, fuel and electricity supplies is a genocidal policy:

    According to Euro-Med Monitor, the Israeli war of starvation has taken very dangerous turns, including cutting off all food supplies to the Northern half and bombing and destroying factories, bakeries, food stores, water stations, and tanks throughout the entire enclave.

    Soaring malnutrition cases especially among pregnant women and children. A Euromed report confirms that “women and children in Gaza are disproportionately suffering from the effects of Israel's war. Approximately 52,500 infants in Gaza are currently at risk of starvation, death, dehydration, and other health hazards due to overcrowding, in addition to 55,000 pregnant women, of whom 5,500 are expected to give birth this month.”

    “According to Euro-Med Monitor, getting bread in the Gaza Strip has become an existential challenge, since Gaza’s sole mill there is still unable to grind wheat because of a shortage of fuel and electricity. Since October 7, 11 bakeries have been bombed and destroyed, while the ones that are still operating face tremendous difficulties due to fuel and flour shortages.”

    Israel has been blatant about its genocidal policies. Blinken disappears the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from West Bank and Gaza in his statement. Israeli Heritage Minister, Amichai Eliyahu, has not only described the bombing of Gaza as “amazing”, he has recommended nuking Gaza and sending Palestinians to Ireland or the desert. According to a Times of Israel article:

    Eliyahu also voices his objection during the interview to allowing any humanitarian aid into Gaza, saying “we wouldn’t hand the Nazis humanitarian aid,” and charging that “there is no such thing as uninvolved civilians in Gaza.”

    “They can go to Ireland or deserts, the monsters in Gaza should find a solution by themselves.”

    He says the northern Strip has no right to exist, adding that anyone waving a Palestinian or Hamas flag “shouldn’t continue living on the face of the earth.”

    Corpses rotting under rubble, shallow and hastily dug mass graves. Chemicals believed to be used by Israel in the bombing campaigns including White Phosphorous - all these factors spell disaster when the rains come.

    Gaza is a strip of land the size of the Isle of Wight ( 40km X 12km) with a population of 2.2 million civilians. With the forced evacuation by Israel from the north to the south - you will have 2.2 million civilians living in an area half its original size.

    Israel has destroyed Gaza’s ability to desalinate water to provide clean drinking water or to effectively pump sewage out of the strip. When the rains come, disease will be rife with sewage, decaying bodies, chemicals, disease flooding the enclave.

    Even in so-called peace time children are used to wading through sewage to get to school. Children are forced to swim in raw sewage in the sea off the Gaza coast. This pollution will be exponentially increased by the latest Israeli aggression.

    Added to this, the targeting of hospitals and health centers will result in chronic illness patients dying from lack of available treatment. Euromed - “more than 2,000 cancer patients, more than 1,000 patients in need of dialysis to survive, 50,000 cardiovascular patients, and over 60,000 diabetics—urgently need access to basic healthcare services considering the severe shortage of medications, medical supplies, fuel, food, and clean water.” These patients are not given priority because of the massive influx of emergency cases from the Israeli bombing raids. As Euromed Monitor reports:

    Eighteen out of 35 hospitals in the Gaza Strip have stopped operating so far, according to local health officials there. Overall, 120 health institutions have been targeted, while more than 48 primary care centres (70%) are now out of service due to the ongoing Israeli raids and the fuel crisis.

    The Hamas Human Shield trope

    The claim that Hamas or as I prefer to call it, the Palestinian Resistance coalition, use Palestinian civilians as human shields is consistently used to justify the Israeli bombing of civilian targets as mentioned above. The bombing of an ambulance carrying wounded for evacuation at the Egyptian Rafah border was justified by the Israeli claim that Hamas fighters were on board. Claims that are never substantiated or investigated.

    In my experience in both Gaza during Israeli aggression 2012 and in Syria on various frontlines - it is normal for the injured or civilian evacuees to be escorted for their safety by military, in Syria by the Syrian Arab Army. I do not know if this was the case in Gaza but it is a legitimate reason for military escort. The civilian bodies that were brought from the ambulance into hospital however contradict Israeli claims. Israel has, so far, failed to provide evidence of its claims that resulted in the deaths of civilians including children.

    Gaza is a strip of land 40km by 12km. It is a densely populated enclave with buildings arranged in close proximity, schools, hospitals, residential areas all on top of each other. Israel claims that the Palestinian Resistance is using their own families, children and civilians as “human shields” while carpet bombing entire residential areas to allegedly wipe out ‘Hamas’.

    The denials of Hamas using human shields

    2014 - BBC’s Jeremy Bowen wrote for the New Statesman - ‘I saw no evidence of Hamas using Palestinians as human shields’. Bowen described his experience in Gaza:

    I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields. I saw men from Hamas on street corners, keeping an eye on what was happening. They were local people and everyone knew them, even the young boys.

    Also in 2014 a Truthout article was published - ‘Congress utilizes myth of human shields to justify [Israeli] war crimes’

    According to the report ‘no Gaza eyewitness found evidence of Hamas using human shields’ during the 2014 Israeli aggression against the Gaza strip which followed a similar pattern to the ongoing 2023 mass bombing of civilian infrastructure - a war crime in itself. From the report:

    Human Rights Watch cited evidence of Israel “blatantly violating the laws of war designed to spare civilians,” including attacks on heavily-populated neighborhoods and shooting at fleeing civilians. Similarly, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem challenged its government’s claims that they had “no intention of harming civilians,” noting how after “weeks of lethal bombardments by Israel in the Gaza Strip which have killed hundreds of civilians and wiped out dozens of families, this claim has become meaningless.” United Nations officials in the Gaza Strip also charged Israeli forces with engaging in serious violations of international law, following a series of attacks against six UN schools where Palestinians were seeking refuge, and where no Hamas weaponry or fighters were present, killing 46 civilians.

    None of the claims by the US State Department or individual Representatives that Hamas used civilians as human shields have been evidenced according to the Truthout report.

    Again in 2014 the Belfast Telegraph correspondent, Kem Sengupta, based in Khan Younis, southern Gaza reported on the ‘myth of Hamas’ human shields’ - Gazans deny being put in the line of fire. Sengupta writes:

    What used to be a three-storey house had been turned into debris sunk into a deep crater with twisted steel rods jutting out. Twenty-six people were killed in the mostly deadly air-strike so far in this bloody conflict. Twenty-four of them were from one family, the Abu Jamaa.

    Around the same time that attack was taking place on Sunday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu was charging Hamas on TV with using “human shields” to gather “telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause”.

    Amnesty International, following an extensive investigation after the 2014 war, found no evidence that “Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to ‘shield’ specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks.”

    In 2018 the Independent ran a headline - ‘Israeli army edits video of Palestinian medic its troops shot dead to misleadingly show she was 'human shield for Hamas'

    The edited clip was condemned by Palestinians and rights activists as attempt to ‘justify’ 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar’s death - an IOF sniper shot her in the chest during protests on the Gaza-Israel border on 1st June 2018 as she attended to wounded and unarmed protestors also targeted by IOF snipers.

    Israeli government and military officials tweeted out a video labelled ‘Hamas use of human shields must stop’ showing an excerpt of an interview with Al Najjar. The reality is that the young nurse does not mention Hamas and states clearly that she was there to save the wounded at the front lines.

    “The IDF always accuses Palestinians and Israeli human rights orgs of editing documentation of it human rights abuses. But it edited this video of Razan al Najjar to discredit her after murdering her. Absolutely despicable and hypocritical,” Israeli-American writer Mairav Zonszein said on Twitter.

    From personal experience, Hamas officials have always been very against civilians protesting at the border areas because of the high risk of injury and sniping by the IOF.

    In 2013 I went with protestors to Beit Hanoun, north-east Gaza, to confront the IOF prison guards who encircle the Gaza strip with apartheid walls and barbed wire - converting the enclave into an open air concentration camp.

    The automatic gun turrets that are found along the walls are set to fire at a varying distance. Israel changes the distance without ever informing Gazan farmers -so one day the safe distance is 4 meters, some days it is 6 meters - when farmers cross the red line, they are fired upon by the automatic machine gun turrets.

    We stood on high ground next to the wall. We could see the IOF vehicles and guns trained on us. After about an hour of protests, Hamas cars arrived and asked us to leave the area for our own safety.

    Razan Al Najjar was shot in the chest deliberately by the IOF. She presented no danger to the IOF. She was attending to the wounded during the Great March of Return that began in March 2018. The peaceful march demanded the end of the blockade on Gaza and the right to return for Palestinian refugees.

    The IOF responded to these unarmed civilian demonstrations with the use of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition. ‘Among the casualties of the first year are 227 UNRWA students who were injured and 13 who were killed.’

    Watch this video - Great March of Return, a mother’s perspective:



    6 months after the start of the Great March protests, Amnesty International reported:

    According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, since the start of the protests, over 150 Palestinians have been killed in the demonstrations. At least 10,000 others have been injured, including 1,849 children, 424 women, 115 paramedics and 115 journalists. Of those injured, 5,814 were hit by live ammunition. According to Israeli media, one soldier was moderately injured due to shrapnel from a grenade thrown by a Palestinian from inside Gaza and one Israeli soldier was killed by Palestinian sniper fire near the fence that separates Gaza and Israel outside of the context of the protests.

    Legitimate calls for Israeli authorities to lift their 11-year illegal blockade on Gaza and to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their villages and towns have not been met.

    The claim that Al Najjar was a Hamas human shield is a cynical ploy by the Zionist forces to provide justification for their targeting of unarmed civilians who have a legally justified cause to protest under international law. Those that so often call for Palestinians to protest peacefully should understand that there is no effective ‘peaceful’ protest against the IOF.

    In 2021 Law4Palestine - ‘Under Scrutiny: Allegations of Use of Human Shields by Palestinian Armed Groups and the International Criminal Court Investigation’

    What is certain, so far, is that the allegation that the armed groups are using human shields is unsubstantiated, and even the Prosecutor’s Office does not seem to have evidence on this regard, because the evidence at our disposal is the same as that which was available to the Prosecutor’s Office at this stage of the investigation.

    Israel will try to defend itself – whether through the Court or through its political discourse – regarding the commission of war crimes by claiming that the PAGs are terrorist groups and that the war on Gaza was a war on terror where terrorists do not shy away from using civilians as human shields. However, it will face obstacles relating to the characteristics of the Palestinian situation in the Gaza strip and the possibilities of taking “all the possible limits of necessary measures and precautions” to protect civilians and spare them from military attacks.

    Detailed investigations following the 2008-2009 and 2014 conflicts by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and others have failed to find a single documented case of any civilian deaths caused by Hamas using human shields.

    Not one.

    The following video by journalist Abby Martin demonstrates the hypocrisy of ‘human shield’ claims by Washington and Tel-Aviv:

    Now let’s look at Israel’s proven use of Palestinian children and civilians as human shields

    So not only is the Palestinian use of human shields a myth lacking any evidence, it is in fact Israel who is infamous for using human shields in its oppression of the Palestinians. Examples of this are incredibly easy to find even with the most rudimentary of research. Like much Israeli propaganda, it seeks to turn reality upside down and accuse the Palestinians of the crimes that Israel so often commits. This is a prime example of baseless dehumanization that many eagerly embrace because they have come to internalize a demonized image of Palestinians based on Israeli propaganda.

    Decolonize Palestine

    The evidence of Israel using Palestinians as human shields is voluminous, I will cite a number of cases and then offer links to additional reports.

    May 2023 in Ramallah - a report by Defence for Children (DCI) claims that Israeli forces have used at least five Palestinian children as human shields so far this year, including two toddlers.

    Israeli forces then threatened his sons Nidal, 9, and Karam, 11, in addition to his twin nephews, Ahmad and Mohammad, both two years old, and forced them to stand in front of Israeli military vehicles while Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters, stun grenades, and live ammunition at Palestinians confronting the group of soldiers.

    Israeli special forces forced Anas to stand and walk in front of them for several minutes while handcuffed as they confronted two Palestinian men and fired live ammunition. Before killing the two Palestinian men, Israeli forces forced Anas to sit on the floor of a house next door, blindfolded.

    “International law is explicit and absolutely prohibits the use of children as human shields by armed forces or armed groups," said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Israeli forces intentionally putting a child in grave danger in order to shield themselves constitutes a war crime.”

    While Israeli forces used the Shalloun family as human shields in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, one soldier ordered mother Samia to put her two-year-old nephew Mohammad on the ground and raise her hands. Mohammad cried as an Israeli military dog approached him, and as Samia lowered her hands to move him away from the dog, the Israeli soldier put his gun to Mohammad’s head, saying, “Move again and I’ll shoot him.”

    Since 2000, DCIP has documented at least 31 cases involving Palestinian children being used as human shields by the Israeli army. Last year, Israeli soldiers forced 16-year-old Ahed Mohammad Rida Mereb to stand in front of an Israeli military vehicle in Jenin as armed Palestinians fired heavily in their direction.

    A 2013 report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child describes a litany of abuses of children by the IOF and security forces including their use as human shields:

    Almost all those using children as human shields and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a nine-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted.

    Further details of this case can be found in this Guardian report.

    Two Israeli soldiers who used a nine-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield were given suspended sentences and demoted after being convicted of "inappropriate conduct".

    The unnamed soldiers, from the Givati Brigade, ordered Majeh Rabah, from the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood in Gaza City, to check bags for explosives in January 2009, towards the end of Israel's three-week offensive.

    Also in the report from Human Rights Watch.

    2014 - a report from ReliefWeb based on the original report by DCI Palestine:

    Ramallah, August 21, 2014—Israeli soldiers repeatedly used Ahmad Abu Raida, 17, as a human shield for five days while he was held hostage during Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

    Ahmad, from Khuza'a, near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, was just 16 years old when he was taken from his family on July 23. He was forced at gunpoint to search for tunnels for five days, during which time he was interrogated, verbally and physically abused, and deprived of food and sleep. Ahmad told DCI-Palestine in a sworn testimony that Israeli soldiers attempted both to extract information from him regarding Hamas members, and recruit him as an informant, before releasing him on July 27.

    "The Israeli military has consistently accused Hamas of using civilians - particularly children - as human shields, but this incident represents a clear case of their soldiers forcing a child to directly assist in military operations," said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. "Israeli officials make generalized accusations while Israeli soldiers engage in conduct that amounts to war crimes."

    A report in Mondoweiss at the same time records accounts of Israeli forces using civilians as human shields:

    Ayman Abu Toaimah, 32, a resident of Khuza’a recalls, “As Israeli invading troops advanced to the village they besieged it and used residents as human shields. When the Israeli army arrested people and then released some of them, they were told they are free to go back to the village, but as they were fleeing they came under fire and some of them shot dead. These people were used as human shields.”

    Abu Saleem, 56, a resident of Khuza’a echoed Abu Toaimah, “Israelis claim that Hamas is using us as human shields– how? This is a lie, we do not see fighters in the streets. It’s them, the Israelis who used us as human shields in Khuza’a and Shuja’iyeh. They turned our houses into military posts, terrified residents in the houses. They attacked innocent civilians with their bombs, and missiles, they attacked chicken farms, they burned our crops, they have no mercy.”

    May 2022 a Palestinian teenage girl was used by the IOF as a human shield during a military raid in Jenin:

    According to DCIP, during a raid on the morning of May 13th, Israeli soldiers forced 16-year-old Ahed Mohammad Rida Mereb, to stand in front of an Israeli military vehicle for two hours as the vehicle came under fire from Palestinian gunmen, while Israeli soldiers sat inside the vehicle.

    Breaking the Silence documents abuses of Palestinians by the IOF based on accounts from former IOF soldiers. A ‘moving human shield’ is one such report:

    Apparently, that captain had gone to Takua, which is a pretty hostile village—they were throwing stones at the jeep. So he just stopped a Palestinian guy who was passing, forty-something years old, and tied him to the hood of the jeep, a guy just lying on the hood, and they drove into the village. No one threw any more rocks. A human shield. Yes. But not just a human shield—first of all, a human shield is bad enough—this was a moving human shield. Tied to the hood of the jeep and they drove with him tied there. Drove with him through the village, it’s horrific.


    22nd April 2004, a 13 year old boy called Mohammed Said Essa Badwan/Badran was used as a human shield. Mohammed was peacefully taking part in spontaneous demonstration in Biddo against the building of the Annexation Wall. Around noon, following the launch of sound bombs and teargas canisters by the soldiers, some nearby youth started throwing stones. At this point, two Israeli Border Guards arrested Mohammed, beat him and forced him to sit on the hood of their jeep, tying his arm to the windshield screen and then using him as a human shield.

    Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who heads the organisation Rabbis for Human Rights, was present and tried to intervene for the release of the child but was instead arrested and beaten. Mohammed was reported to have been repeatedly hit by the soldiers while he was tied to the vehicle. Although he begged them to release him because he was scared and in pain, they would not. He also reportedly suffered from exposure to the teargas used by the soldiers, since he could not move nor was he given any protection. After about four hours, Mohammed was untied, forced into the jeep and taken first to Al-Sahl, an area in which the Annexation Wall is being constructed. He was then questioned by a military officer. Finally the child was released in the neighbouring village of Al-Kalaileh where he had to wait, alone and in the dark, for a relative to come and pick him up.

    Ramallah June 4th 2013 - ‘Israeli soldiers proudly paraded the handcuffed teen up and down the street, making a public spectacle of him in the occupied West Bank town of Abu Dis.’

    Armed with live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas, on Friday, April 19, at least 10 Israeli soldiers confronted the crowd of protesters using 17-year-old Muhammad Rabea as a human shield. They forced him to walk at gunpoint with his hands raised in the air as they approached the protesters.

    Prior to being abused as a human shield, Muhammad had been savagely beaten by the IOF forces that had grabbed him from the streets. He was hit on the forehead with a rifle stock, kicked repeatedly on the legs, hit at the base of his neck by steel helmets. He was bundled in the back of the military jeep, verbally and physically abused, his hands tied by plastic cords. He was forced to sit in a revolving chair while IOF soldiers kicked him as the chair spun in the back of the jeep.

    “One of the soldiers sprayed the keffiyeh (scarf) I was wearing with pepper spray before tying it tightly over my eyes, burning them,” he says. “Each time I coughed, he told me to shut up and kicked me. I wasn’t allowed to cough.”

    At the military camp, soldiers forced him to stand facing a metal pole. Muhammad said the soldiers ripped his jacket and searched him, while an army dog clawed his back and calves. Following the search, soldiers knocked him down on the ground where he laid for two hours in pain as they continued to kick him in his legs, back and stomach. One of the soldiers removed the keffiyeh over his eyes and poured gasoline on it, burning it in front of him. The soldiers re-blindfolded him with a black piece of cloth and continued to hit him on the head with their helmets.

    Btselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) 2017:

    Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, Israeli security forces have repeatedly used Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip as human shields, ordering them to perform military tasks that risked their lives. As part of this policy, soldiers have ordered Palestinian civilians to remove suspicious objects from roads, to tell people to come out of their homes so the military can arrest them, to stand in front of soldiers while the latter shoot from behind them, and more. The Palestinian civilians were chosen at random for these tasks, and could not refuse the demand placed on them by armed soldiers.

    Using civilians to get wanted persons out of a house is known as “neighbor procedure.” This procedure does not differ significantly from other ways in which the military has used Palestinian civilian. It, too, too, constitutes illegal exploitation of civilians to perform military tasks and places them in real danger. This was made irrefutably clear in an incident that took place in 2002. On 14 August, soldiers sent Nidal Abu Mukhsan, a 19-year-old from the village of Tubas, to the home of Nasser Jarar, a Hamas activist, and ordered him to get Jarar out of the house. When Abu Mukhsan approached the house, Jarar, apparently thinking that the person knocking at the door was a soldier, shot and killed him.

    2012 report from the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

    In 2007, B'Tselem releases a report documenting 14 cases in which Israeli soldiers have used Palestinian civilians - including boys and girls as young as 11-years-old - as human shields to protect themselves in dangerous situations. In one case, a 14-year-old girl in Gaza is shot in the stomach and leg after soldiers used her as a human shield during an incursion.

    In May 2011, two dozen former Israeli soldiers come forward to provide eyewitness accounts of the abuse of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military, including their use as human shields.

    2021 - Human Rights Watch - A Threshold Crossed, Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.

    When Palestinians Became Human Shields: Counterinsurgency, Racialization, and the Great Revolt (1936–1939) - Cambridge University Press

    Using Palestinians as human shields began under the British Mandate in Palestine that ended in 1947. In frustration at the relative success of Palestinian rebels who rejected the influx of European Jews to dispossess Palestinians of their land, the British turned to the use of human shields to defuse Palestinian guerilla military campaigns from 1936-38.

    The regularization of human shielding served as proof of “the dark path of repression” foreseen and warned against by the Peel Commission. Footnote125 It was also elemental to an ongoing process of colonial racialization that robbed the Palestinians of their humanity, stripped them of any figment of legal rights or protections, and denuded them of the most basic security of life. Indeed, with the systematic use of human shields, the colonial regime veered towards the “negation of all law” so feared by top civilian officials and took Palestinian society with it into the ensuing abyss.

    Conclusions

    US law requires Biden to impose sanctions on Hamas for using human shields.

    The Hill

    According to a report in The Hill, the “Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act” passed both houses of Congress unanimously in 2018. The Shields Act, as it is known, specifically requires the president to submit to Congress a list of persons he determines to be involved in the use of human shields.

    Biden should move swiftly to impose the sanctions already required by his determination that Hamas is using human shields.

    There is no evidence of Hamas using civilians as human shields - there is a plethora of evidence that Israel has historically exploited Palestinians as human shields putting the lives of children at risk on multiple occasions, torturing and traumatising them in the process. This is completely ignored by Washington. No sanctions on Israel?

    It can be argued that Israel has deliberately put its own civilians in danger as human shields by facilitating settlement in contested zones beyond the green line - as for example in the case of the Kibbutz Be’eri when it is now proven that Israeli civilians were not only killed by the IOF gunfire during battles with Palestinian Resistance factions but were also shelled by Israeli tanks two days after the 7th October when the IOF took a decision to eliminate their own civilians alongside Resistance militants.

    They [Israelis] are directly put in danger as a sacrifice to Israel’s expansionist colonial designs, which they can then blame on Palestinians to further accelerate this same project.

    Decolonize Palestine

    ‘Israel justifies its violent attacks by continuously accusing Hamas of using human shields, desperately hoping to stir moral indignation while also trying to muster a legal defence for the indefensible.’

    The subtext is that civilised people protect their children while Palestinians sacrifice them.

    Under this pretext all Palestinians become legitimate targets and Israel can be exonerated of all blame. It is a criminal manipulation of reality to enable justification of genocide and the US and UK are upholding it - thus they are complicit in genocide.

    The director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Craig Mokhiber, resigned on Tuesday, writing:

    “As a human rights lawyer with more than three decades of experience in the field, I know well that the concept of genocide has often been subject to political abuse. But the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs, and coupled with explicit statements of intent by leaders in the Israeli government and military, leaves no room for doubt or debate. In Gaza, civilian homes, schools, churches, mosques, and medical institutions are wantonly attacked as thousands of civilians are massacred. In the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, homes are seized and reassigned based entirely on race, and violent settler pogroms are accompanied by Israeli military units. Across the land, Apartheid rules.

    “This is a text-book case of genocide. The European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine. What’s more, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, are wholly complicit in the horrific assault. Not only are these governments refusing to meet their treaty obligations ‘to ensure respect’ for the Geneva Conventions, but they are in fact actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities.”

    See full letter, news report and interview from Wednesday morning with Mokhiber.


    Journalist Sam Husseini wrote on X - I asked the State Dept on Tuesday about the recent DAWN MENA report documenting the Biden administration's efforts to pay for Israeli plans to "ethnically cleanse" Palestinians to Gaza. The spokesperson refused to comment on the funding request:

    If you really want to understand Washington’s defence of Israeli war crimes and human rights abuses including a de facto genocide of the Palestinian people, you need look no further than this extraordinary admission by Robert F. Kennedy Jr:

    Palestinian life is expendable if it ensures US unipolar supremacy. Heck, even the lives of Israelis are superfluous when faced with US protection of its global hegemony. If it is not yet clear that tropes such as “Hamas atrocities” and “Hamas human shields” are nothing more than fig leaves for US proxy war crimes in defence of US global military adventurism - then we are headed for a very ominous future.

    Thank you for reading.

    ***

    Please do consider subscribing to my substack. Every little amount does help me to keep pushing back against the lies that threaten us all.
    The 'Hamas human shield' justification for Israeli war crimes Zionist projection is the default Hasbara strategy vanessa beeley What separates Israel, the United States and other democracies when it comes to incredibly difficult situations like this is our respect for international law and, as appropriate, the laws of war. We do everything we can, in these situations, to avoid civilian casualties. That is in direct contrast with Hamas which uses people as human shields. It [Hamas] actually seeks to put Palestinian civilians in situations where they could be harmed. This is very much part of the game plan. We know Israel will take all the precautions it can, just as we would, again that is what separates us from Hamas and terrorist groups that engage in the most heinous kind of activities US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken If you actually listen to the clip of Blinken justifying Israeli brutality you will hear how he stumbles over his words. He knows he is lying in my opinion. The 4000 plus dead children, 10,328 dead civilians, 26000 injured and 2300 missing believed buried under the rubble of Israeli bombs does not substantiate Blinken’s claims of adherence to international law. The Israeli bombing of humanitarian convoys, ambulances, paramedics, Civil Defence headquarters, journalists - 50 killed so far, hospitals, makeshift refugee centres, places of worship - mosques and churches, schools, UNWRA facilities, humanitarian aid supplies including essential bottled water supplies, sewage treatment plants, bridges, solar panels, electricity and internet, media buildings, fisherman’s boats, flour stores, burning of food crops - all these targets are in direct violation of any rule of war or human rights conventions. The deliberate policy of starvation and the cutting off of water, food, fuel and electricity supplies is a genocidal policy: According to Euro-Med Monitor, the Israeli war of starvation has taken very dangerous turns, including cutting off all food supplies to the Northern half and bombing and destroying factories, bakeries, food stores, water stations, and tanks throughout the entire enclave. Soaring malnutrition cases especially among pregnant women and children. A Euromed report confirms that “women and children in Gaza are disproportionately suffering from the effects of Israel's war. Approximately 52,500 infants in Gaza are currently at risk of starvation, death, dehydration, and other health hazards due to overcrowding, in addition to 55,000 pregnant women, of whom 5,500 are expected to give birth this month.” “According to Euro-Med Monitor, getting bread in the Gaza Strip has become an existential challenge, since Gaza’s sole mill there is still unable to grind wheat because of a shortage of fuel and electricity. Since October 7, 11 bakeries have been bombed and destroyed, while the ones that are still operating face tremendous difficulties due to fuel and flour shortages.” Israel has been blatant about its genocidal policies. Blinken disappears the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from West Bank and Gaza in his statement. Israeli Heritage Minister, Amichai Eliyahu, has not only described the bombing of Gaza as “amazing”, he has recommended nuking Gaza and sending Palestinians to Ireland or the desert. According to a Times of Israel article: Eliyahu also voices his objection during the interview to allowing any humanitarian aid into Gaza, saying “we wouldn’t hand the Nazis humanitarian aid,” and charging that “there is no such thing as uninvolved civilians in Gaza.” “They can go to Ireland or deserts, the monsters in Gaza should find a solution by themselves.” He says the northern Strip has no right to exist, adding that anyone waving a Palestinian or Hamas flag “shouldn’t continue living on the face of the earth.” Corpses rotting under rubble, shallow and hastily dug mass graves. Chemicals believed to be used by Israel in the bombing campaigns including White Phosphorous - all these factors spell disaster when the rains come. Gaza is a strip of land the size of the Isle of Wight ( 40km X 12km) with a population of 2.2 million civilians. With the forced evacuation by Israel from the north to the south - you will have 2.2 million civilians living in an area half its original size. Israel has destroyed Gaza’s ability to desalinate water to provide clean drinking water or to effectively pump sewage out of the strip. When the rains come, disease will be rife with sewage, decaying bodies, chemicals, disease flooding the enclave. Even in so-called peace time children are used to wading through sewage to get to school. Children are forced to swim in raw sewage in the sea off the Gaza coast. This pollution will be exponentially increased by the latest Israeli aggression. Added to this, the targeting of hospitals and health centers will result in chronic illness patients dying from lack of available treatment. Euromed - “more than 2,000 cancer patients, more than 1,000 patients in need of dialysis to survive, 50,000 cardiovascular patients, and over 60,000 diabetics—urgently need access to basic healthcare services considering the severe shortage of medications, medical supplies, fuel, food, and clean water.” These patients are not given priority because of the massive influx of emergency cases from the Israeli bombing raids. As Euromed Monitor reports: Eighteen out of 35 hospitals in the Gaza Strip have stopped operating so far, according to local health officials there. Overall, 120 health institutions have been targeted, while more than 48 primary care centres (70%) are now out of service due to the ongoing Israeli raids and the fuel crisis. The Hamas Human Shield trope The claim that Hamas or as I prefer to call it, the Palestinian Resistance coalition, use Palestinian civilians as human shields is consistently used to justify the Israeli bombing of civilian targets as mentioned above. The bombing of an ambulance carrying wounded for evacuation at the Egyptian Rafah border was justified by the Israeli claim that Hamas fighters were on board. Claims that are never substantiated or investigated. In my experience in both Gaza during Israeli aggression 2012 and in Syria on various frontlines - it is normal for the injured or civilian evacuees to be escorted for their safety by military, in Syria by the Syrian Arab Army. I do not know if this was the case in Gaza but it is a legitimate reason for military escort. The civilian bodies that were brought from the ambulance into hospital however contradict Israeli claims. Israel has, so far, failed to provide evidence of its claims that resulted in the deaths of civilians including children. Gaza is a strip of land 40km by 12km. It is a densely populated enclave with buildings arranged in close proximity, schools, hospitals, residential areas all on top of each other. Israel claims that the Palestinian Resistance is using their own families, children and civilians as “human shields” while carpet bombing entire residential areas to allegedly wipe out ‘Hamas’. The denials of Hamas using human shields 2014 - BBC’s Jeremy Bowen wrote for the New Statesman - ‘I saw no evidence of Hamas using Palestinians as human shields’. Bowen described his experience in Gaza: I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields. I saw men from Hamas on street corners, keeping an eye on what was happening. They were local people and everyone knew them, even the young boys. Also in 2014 a Truthout article was published - ‘Congress utilizes myth of human shields to justify [Israeli] war crimes’ According to the report ‘no Gaza eyewitness found evidence of Hamas using human shields’ during the 2014 Israeli aggression against the Gaza strip which followed a similar pattern to the ongoing 2023 mass bombing of civilian infrastructure - a war crime in itself. From the report: Human Rights Watch cited evidence of Israel “blatantly violating the laws of war designed to spare civilians,” including attacks on heavily-populated neighborhoods and shooting at fleeing civilians. Similarly, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem challenged its government’s claims that they had “no intention of harming civilians,” noting how after “weeks of lethal bombardments by Israel in the Gaza Strip which have killed hundreds of civilians and wiped out dozens of families, this claim has become meaningless.” United Nations officials in the Gaza Strip also charged Israeli forces with engaging in serious violations of international law, following a series of attacks against six UN schools where Palestinians were seeking refuge, and where no Hamas weaponry or fighters were present, killing 46 civilians. None of the claims by the US State Department or individual Representatives that Hamas used civilians as human shields have been evidenced according to the Truthout report. Again in 2014 the Belfast Telegraph correspondent, Kem Sengupta, based in Khan Younis, southern Gaza reported on the ‘myth of Hamas’ human shields’ - Gazans deny being put in the line of fire. Sengupta writes: What used to be a three-storey house had been turned into debris sunk into a deep crater with twisted steel rods jutting out. Twenty-six people were killed in the mostly deadly air-strike so far in this bloody conflict. Twenty-four of them were from one family, the Abu Jamaa. Around the same time that attack was taking place on Sunday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu was charging Hamas on TV with using “human shields” to gather “telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause”. Amnesty International, following an extensive investigation after the 2014 war, found no evidence that “Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to ‘shield’ specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks.” In 2018 the Independent ran a headline - ‘Israeli army edits video of Palestinian medic its troops shot dead to misleadingly show she was 'human shield for Hamas' The edited clip was condemned by Palestinians and rights activists as attempt to ‘justify’ 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar’s death - an IOF sniper shot her in the chest during protests on the Gaza-Israel border on 1st June 2018 as she attended to wounded and unarmed protestors also targeted by IOF snipers. Israeli government and military officials tweeted out a video labelled ‘Hamas use of human shields must stop’ showing an excerpt of an interview with Al Najjar. The reality is that the young nurse does not mention Hamas and states clearly that she was there to save the wounded at the front lines. “The IDF always accuses Palestinians and Israeli human rights orgs of editing documentation of it human rights abuses. But it edited this video of Razan al Najjar to discredit her after murdering her. Absolutely despicable and hypocritical,” Israeli-American writer Mairav Zonszein said on Twitter. From personal experience, Hamas officials have always been very against civilians protesting at the border areas because of the high risk of injury and sniping by the IOF. In 2013 I went with protestors to Beit Hanoun, north-east Gaza, to confront the IOF prison guards who encircle the Gaza strip with apartheid walls and barbed wire - converting the enclave into an open air concentration camp. The automatic gun turrets that are found along the walls are set to fire at a varying distance. Israel changes the distance without ever informing Gazan farmers -so one day the safe distance is 4 meters, some days it is 6 meters - when farmers cross the red line, they are fired upon by the automatic machine gun turrets. We stood on high ground next to the wall. We could see the IOF vehicles and guns trained on us. After about an hour of protests, Hamas cars arrived and asked us to leave the area for our own safety. Razan Al Najjar was shot in the chest deliberately by the IOF. She presented no danger to the IOF. She was attending to the wounded during the Great March of Return that began in March 2018. The peaceful march demanded the end of the blockade on Gaza and the right to return for Palestinian refugees. The IOF responded to these unarmed civilian demonstrations with the use of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and live ammunition. ‘Among the casualties of the first year are 227 UNRWA students who were injured and 13 who were killed.’ Watch this video - Great March of Return, a mother’s perspective: 6 months after the start of the Great March protests, Amnesty International reported: According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, since the start of the protests, over 150 Palestinians have been killed in the demonstrations. At least 10,000 others have been injured, including 1,849 children, 424 women, 115 paramedics and 115 journalists. Of those injured, 5,814 were hit by live ammunition. According to Israeli media, one soldier was moderately injured due to shrapnel from a grenade thrown by a Palestinian from inside Gaza and one Israeli soldier was killed by Palestinian sniper fire near the fence that separates Gaza and Israel outside of the context of the protests. Legitimate calls for Israeli authorities to lift their 11-year illegal blockade on Gaza and to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their villages and towns have not been met. The claim that Al Najjar was a Hamas human shield is a cynical ploy by the Zionist forces to provide justification for their targeting of unarmed civilians who have a legally justified cause to protest under international law. Those that so often call for Palestinians to protest peacefully should understand that there is no effective ‘peaceful’ protest against the IOF. In 2021 Law4Palestine - ‘Under Scrutiny: Allegations of Use of Human Shields by Palestinian Armed Groups and the International Criminal Court Investigation’ What is certain, so far, is that the allegation that the armed groups are using human shields is unsubstantiated, and even the Prosecutor’s Office does not seem to have evidence on this regard, because the evidence at our disposal is the same as that which was available to the Prosecutor’s Office at this stage of the investigation. Israel will try to defend itself – whether through the Court or through its political discourse – regarding the commission of war crimes by claiming that the PAGs are terrorist groups and that the war on Gaza was a war on terror where terrorists do not shy away from using civilians as human shields. However, it will face obstacles relating to the characteristics of the Palestinian situation in the Gaza strip and the possibilities of taking “all the possible limits of necessary measures and precautions” to protect civilians and spare them from military attacks. Detailed investigations following the 2008-2009 and 2014 conflicts by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and others have failed to find a single documented case of any civilian deaths caused by Hamas using human shields. Not one. The following video by journalist Abby Martin demonstrates the hypocrisy of ‘human shield’ claims by Washington and Tel-Aviv: Now let’s look at Israel’s proven use of Palestinian children and civilians as human shields So not only is the Palestinian use of human shields a myth lacking any evidence, it is in fact Israel who is infamous for using human shields in its oppression of the Palestinians. Examples of this are incredibly easy to find even with the most rudimentary of research. Like much Israeli propaganda, it seeks to turn reality upside down and accuse the Palestinians of the crimes that Israel so often commits. This is a prime example of baseless dehumanization that many eagerly embrace because they have come to internalize a demonized image of Palestinians based on Israeli propaganda. Decolonize Palestine The evidence of Israel using Palestinians as human shields is voluminous, I will cite a number of cases and then offer links to additional reports. May 2023 in Ramallah - a report by Defence for Children (DCI) claims that Israeli forces have used at least five Palestinian children as human shields so far this year, including two toddlers. Israeli forces then threatened his sons Nidal, 9, and Karam, 11, in addition to his twin nephews, Ahmad and Mohammad, both two years old, and forced them to stand in front of Israeli military vehicles while Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters, stun grenades, and live ammunition at Palestinians confronting the group of soldiers. Israeli special forces forced Anas to stand and walk in front of them for several minutes while handcuffed as they confronted two Palestinian men and fired live ammunition. Before killing the two Palestinian men, Israeli forces forced Anas to sit on the floor of a house next door, blindfolded. “International law is explicit and absolutely prohibits the use of children as human shields by armed forces or armed groups," said Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at DCIP. “Israeli forces intentionally putting a child in grave danger in order to shield themselves constitutes a war crime.” While Israeli forces used the Shalloun family as human shields in Aqbat Jabr refugee camp, one soldier ordered mother Samia to put her two-year-old nephew Mohammad on the ground and raise her hands. Mohammad cried as an Israeli military dog approached him, and as Samia lowered her hands to move him away from the dog, the Israeli soldier put his gun to Mohammad’s head, saying, “Move again and I’ll shoot him.” Since 2000, DCIP has documented at least 31 cases involving Palestinian children being used as human shields by the Israeli army. Last year, Israeli soldiers forced 16-year-old Ahed Mohammad Rida Mereb to stand in front of an Israeli military vehicle in Jenin as armed Palestinians fired heavily in their direction. A 2013 report by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child describes a litany of abuses of children by the IOF and security forces including their use as human shields: Almost all those using children as human shields and informants have remained unpunished and the soldiers convicted for having forced at gunpoint a nine-year-old child to search bags suspected of containing explosives only received a suspended sentence of three months and were demoted. Further details of this case can be found in this Guardian report. Two Israeli soldiers who used a nine-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield were given suspended sentences and demoted after being convicted of "inappropriate conduct". The unnamed soldiers, from the Givati Brigade, ordered Majeh Rabah, from the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood in Gaza City, to check bags for explosives in January 2009, towards the end of Israel's three-week offensive. Also in the report from Human Rights Watch. 2014 - a report from ReliefWeb based on the original report by DCI Palestine: Ramallah, August 21, 2014—Israeli soldiers repeatedly used Ahmad Abu Raida, 17, as a human shield for five days while he was held hostage during Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. Ahmad, from Khuza'a, near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, was just 16 years old when he was taken from his family on July 23. He was forced at gunpoint to search for tunnels for five days, during which time he was interrogated, verbally and physically abused, and deprived of food and sleep. Ahmad told DCI-Palestine in a sworn testimony that Israeli soldiers attempted both to extract information from him regarding Hamas members, and recruit him as an informant, before releasing him on July 27. "The Israeli military has consistently accused Hamas of using civilians - particularly children - as human shields, but this incident represents a clear case of their soldiers forcing a child to directly assist in military operations," said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. "Israeli officials make generalized accusations while Israeli soldiers engage in conduct that amounts to war crimes." A report in Mondoweiss at the same time records accounts of Israeli forces using civilians as human shields: Ayman Abu Toaimah, 32, a resident of Khuza’a recalls, “As Israeli invading troops advanced to the village they besieged it and used residents as human shields. When the Israeli army arrested people and then released some of them, they were told they are free to go back to the village, but as they were fleeing they came under fire and some of them shot dead. These people were used as human shields.” Abu Saleem, 56, a resident of Khuza’a echoed Abu Toaimah, “Israelis claim that Hamas is using us as human shields– how? This is a lie, we do not see fighters in the streets. It’s them, the Israelis who used us as human shields in Khuza’a and Shuja’iyeh. They turned our houses into military posts, terrified residents in the houses. They attacked innocent civilians with their bombs, and missiles, they attacked chicken farms, they burned our crops, they have no mercy.” May 2022 a Palestinian teenage girl was used by the IOF as a human shield during a military raid in Jenin: According to DCIP, during a raid on the morning of May 13th, Israeli soldiers forced 16-year-old Ahed Mohammad Rida Mereb, to stand in front of an Israeli military vehicle for two hours as the vehicle came under fire from Palestinian gunmen, while Israeli soldiers sat inside the vehicle. Breaking the Silence documents abuses of Palestinians by the IOF based on accounts from former IOF soldiers. A ‘moving human shield’ is one such report: Apparently, that captain had gone to Takua, which is a pretty hostile village—they were throwing stones at the jeep. So he just stopped a Palestinian guy who was passing, forty-something years old, and tied him to the hood of the jeep, a guy just lying on the hood, and they drove into the village. No one threw any more rocks. A human shield. Yes. But not just a human shield—first of all, a human shield is bad enough—this was a moving human shield. Tied to the hood of the jeep and they drove with him tied there. Drove with him through the village, it’s horrific. 22nd April 2004, a 13 year old boy called Mohammed Said Essa Badwan/Badran was used as a human shield. Mohammed was peacefully taking part in spontaneous demonstration in Biddo against the building of the Annexation Wall. Around noon, following the launch of sound bombs and teargas canisters by the soldiers, some nearby youth started throwing stones. At this point, two Israeli Border Guards arrested Mohammed, beat him and forced him to sit on the hood of their jeep, tying his arm to the windshield screen and then using him as a human shield. Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who heads the organisation Rabbis for Human Rights, was present and tried to intervene for the release of the child but was instead arrested and beaten. Mohammed was reported to have been repeatedly hit by the soldiers while he was tied to the vehicle. Although he begged them to release him because he was scared and in pain, they would not. He also reportedly suffered from exposure to the teargas used by the soldiers, since he could not move nor was he given any protection. After about four hours, Mohammed was untied, forced into the jeep and taken first to Al-Sahl, an area in which the Annexation Wall is being constructed. He was then questioned by a military officer. Finally the child was released in the neighbouring village of Al-Kalaileh where he had to wait, alone and in the dark, for a relative to come and pick him up. Ramallah June 4th 2013 - ‘Israeli soldiers proudly paraded the handcuffed teen up and down the street, making a public spectacle of him in the occupied West Bank town of Abu Dis.’ Armed with live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas, on Friday, April 19, at least 10 Israeli soldiers confronted the crowd of protesters using 17-year-old Muhammad Rabea as a human shield. They forced him to walk at gunpoint with his hands raised in the air as they approached the protesters. Prior to being abused as a human shield, Muhammad had been savagely beaten by the IOF forces that had grabbed him from the streets. He was hit on the forehead with a rifle stock, kicked repeatedly on the legs, hit at the base of his neck by steel helmets. He was bundled in the back of the military jeep, verbally and physically abused, his hands tied by plastic cords. He was forced to sit in a revolving chair while IOF soldiers kicked him as the chair spun in the back of the jeep. “One of the soldiers sprayed the keffiyeh (scarf) I was wearing with pepper spray before tying it tightly over my eyes, burning them,” he says. “Each time I coughed, he told me to shut up and kicked me. I wasn’t allowed to cough.” At the military camp, soldiers forced him to stand facing a metal pole. Muhammad said the soldiers ripped his jacket and searched him, while an army dog clawed his back and calves. Following the search, soldiers knocked him down on the ground where he laid for two hours in pain as they continued to kick him in his legs, back and stomach. One of the soldiers removed the keffiyeh over his eyes and poured gasoline on it, burning it in front of him. The soldiers re-blindfolded him with a black piece of cloth and continued to hit him on the head with their helmets. Btselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) 2017: Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, Israeli security forces have repeatedly used Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip as human shields, ordering them to perform military tasks that risked their lives. As part of this policy, soldiers have ordered Palestinian civilians to remove suspicious objects from roads, to tell people to come out of their homes so the military can arrest them, to stand in front of soldiers while the latter shoot from behind them, and more. The Palestinian civilians were chosen at random for these tasks, and could not refuse the demand placed on them by armed soldiers. Using civilians to get wanted persons out of a house is known as “neighbor procedure.” This procedure does not differ significantly from other ways in which the military has used Palestinian civilian. It, too, too, constitutes illegal exploitation of civilians to perform military tasks and places them in real danger. This was made irrefutably clear in an incident that took place in 2002. On 14 August, soldiers sent Nidal Abu Mukhsan, a 19-year-old from the village of Tubas, to the home of Nasser Jarar, a Hamas activist, and ordered him to get Jarar out of the house. When Abu Mukhsan approached the house, Jarar, apparently thinking that the person knocking at the door was a soldier, shot and killed him. 2012 report from the Institute for Middle East Understanding: In 2007, B'Tselem releases a report documenting 14 cases in which Israeli soldiers have used Palestinian civilians - including boys and girls as young as 11-years-old - as human shields to protect themselves in dangerous situations. In one case, a 14-year-old girl in Gaza is shot in the stomach and leg after soldiers used her as a human shield during an incursion. In May 2011, two dozen former Israeli soldiers come forward to provide eyewitness accounts of the abuse of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military, including their use as human shields. 2021 - Human Rights Watch - A Threshold Crossed, Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution. When Palestinians Became Human Shields: Counterinsurgency, Racialization, and the Great Revolt (1936–1939) - Cambridge University Press Using Palestinians as human shields began under the British Mandate in Palestine that ended in 1947. In frustration at the relative success of Palestinian rebels who rejected the influx of European Jews to dispossess Palestinians of their land, the British turned to the use of human shields to defuse Palestinian guerilla military campaigns from 1936-38. The regularization of human shielding served as proof of “the dark path of repression” foreseen and warned against by the Peel Commission. Footnote125 It was also elemental to an ongoing process of colonial racialization that robbed the Palestinians of their humanity, stripped them of any figment of legal rights or protections, and denuded them of the most basic security of life. Indeed, with the systematic use of human shields, the colonial regime veered towards the “negation of all law” so feared by top civilian officials and took Palestinian society with it into the ensuing abyss. Conclusions US law requires Biden to impose sanctions on Hamas for using human shields. The Hill According to a report in The Hill, the “Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act” passed both houses of Congress unanimously in 2018. The Shields Act, as it is known, specifically requires the president to submit to Congress a list of persons he determines to be involved in the use of human shields. Biden should move swiftly to impose the sanctions already required by his determination that Hamas is using human shields. There is no evidence of Hamas using civilians as human shields - there is a plethora of evidence that Israel has historically exploited Palestinians as human shields putting the lives of children at risk on multiple occasions, torturing and traumatising them in the process. This is completely ignored by Washington. No sanctions on Israel? It can be argued that Israel has deliberately put its own civilians in danger as human shields by facilitating settlement in contested zones beyond the green line - as for example in the case of the Kibbutz Be’eri when it is now proven that Israeli civilians were not only killed by the IOF gunfire during battles with Palestinian Resistance factions but were also shelled by Israeli tanks two days after the 7th October when the IOF took a decision to eliminate their own civilians alongside Resistance militants. They [Israelis] are directly put in danger as a sacrifice to Israel’s expansionist colonial designs, which they can then blame on Palestinians to further accelerate this same project. Decolonize Palestine ‘Israel justifies its violent attacks by continuously accusing Hamas of using human shields, desperately hoping to stir moral indignation while also trying to muster a legal defence for the indefensible.’ The subtext is that civilised people protect their children while Palestinians sacrifice them. Under this pretext all Palestinians become legitimate targets and Israel can be exonerated of all blame. It is a criminal manipulation of reality to enable justification of genocide and the US and UK are upholding it - thus they are complicit in genocide. The director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Craig Mokhiber, resigned on Tuesday, writing: “As a human rights lawyer with more than three decades of experience in the field, I know well that the concept of genocide has often been subject to political abuse. But the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist settler colonial ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs, and coupled with explicit statements of intent by leaders in the Israeli government and military, leaves no room for doubt or debate. In Gaza, civilian homes, schools, churches, mosques, and medical institutions are wantonly attacked as thousands of civilians are massacred. In the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, homes are seized and reassigned based entirely on race, and violent settler pogroms are accompanied by Israeli military units. Across the land, Apartheid rules. “This is a text-book case of genocide. The European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine. What’s more, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, are wholly complicit in the horrific assault. Not only are these governments refusing to meet their treaty obligations ‘to ensure respect’ for the Geneva Conventions, but they are in fact actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities.” See full letter, news report and interview from Wednesday morning with Mokhiber. Journalist Sam Husseini wrote on X - I asked the State Dept on Tuesday about the recent DAWN MENA report documenting the Biden administration's efforts to pay for Israeli plans to "ethnically cleanse" Palestinians to Gaza. The spokesperson refused to comment on the funding request: If you really want to understand Washington’s defence of Israeli war crimes and human rights abuses including a de facto genocide of the Palestinian people, you need look no further than this extraordinary admission by Robert F. Kennedy Jr: Palestinian life is expendable if it ensures US unipolar supremacy. Heck, even the lives of Israelis are superfluous when faced with US protection of its global hegemony. If it is not yet clear that tropes such as “Hamas atrocities” and “Hamas human shields” are nothing more than fig leaves for US proxy war crimes in defence of US global military adventurism - then we are headed for a very ominous future. Thank you for reading. *** Please do consider subscribing to my substack. Every little amount does help me to keep pushing back against the lies that threaten us all.
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