• Exploring Paradise: The Top Diu Hotels

    Discover comfort and luxury at Diu's top hotel. Experience luxurious lodging, first-rate service, and breathtaking views of the ocean. For a unique beach vacation, get a room at the best hotel in Diu.

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    Exploring Paradise: The Top Diu Hotels Discover comfort and luxury at Diu's top hotel. Experience luxurious lodging, first-rate service, and breathtaking views of the ocean. For a unique beach vacation, get a room at the best hotel in Diu. https://apanahotel.godaddysites.com/blog/f/discovering-paradise-unveiling-the-best-hotel-in-diu
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    Discovering Paradise: Unveiling the Best Hotel in Diu
    Nestled along the pristine coastline of Gujarat lies the enchanting island of Diu, a haven of tranquility and natural beauty. As travelers seek refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life, they are greeted by the warm...
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  • The German farmer protests started 2024 off with a bang. Last week, irate farmers prevented Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from getting off a ferry as he returned from vacation.
    The German farmer protests started 2024 off with a bang. Last week, irate farmers prevented Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from getting off a ferry as he returned from vacation.
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  • TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB
    From the archive

    Seymour Hersh

    An Iraqi who was told he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box.
    I am on vacation this week but thought it would be useful to republish a painful story I did two decades ago for the New Yorker about a group of US army soldiers who went out of control amid a war in Iraq that, so they were told, was being waged against the terrorism that struck America on 9/11. What the GIs did then are what any army does in war when hating and fearing the enemy is encouraged and runs through the ranks, from the lowest level grunts to the senior generals. It takes a special leader, as you will read about below, who confounds his superiors by not covering up the crimes of his soldiers and their most senior officers, and does so knowing that his career is over. Would that there were such fearless leaders in the Middle East today.

    In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.

    In the looting that followed the regime’s collapse, last April, the huge prison complex, by then deserted, was stripped of everything that could be removed, including doors, windows, and bricks. The coalition authorities had the floors tiled, cells cleaned and repaired, and toilets, showers, and a new medical center added. Abu Ghraib was now a U.S. military prison. Most of the prisoners, however—by the fall there were several thousand, including women and teen-agers—were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and at highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of “crimes against the coalition”; and a small number of suspected “high-value” leaders of the insurgency against the coalition forces.

    Last June, Janis Karpinski, an Army reserve brigadier general, was named commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade and put in charge of military prisons in Iraq. General Karpinski, the only female commander in the war zone, was an experienced operations and intelligence officer who had served with the Special Forces and in the 1991 Gulf War, but she had never run a prison system. Now she was in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists, most of whom, like her, had no training in handling prisoners.

    General Karpinski, who had wanted to be a soldier since she was five, is a business consultant in civilian life, and was enthusiastic about her new job. In an interview last December with the St. Petersburg Times, she said that, for many of the Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib, “living conditions now are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned that they wouldn’t want to leave.”

    A month later, General Karpinski was formally admonished and quietly suspended, and a major investigation into the Army’s prison system, authorized by Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior commander in Iraq, was under way. A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community. (The 372nd was attached to the 320th M.P. Battalion, which reported to Karpinski’s brigade headquarters.) Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing:

    Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

    There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their “extremely sensitive nature.”

    The photographs—several of which were broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes 2” last week—show leering G.I.s taunting naked Iraqi prisoners who are forced to assume humiliating poses. Six suspects—Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, known as Chip, who was the senior enlisted man; Specialist Charles A. Graner; Sergeant Javal Davis; Specialist Megan Ambuhl; Specialist Sabrina Harman; and Private Jeremy Sivits—are now facing prosecution in Iraq, on charges that include conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty toward prisoners, maltreatment, assault, and indecent acts. A seventh suspect, Private Lynndie England, was reassigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after becoming pregnant.

    The photographs tell it all. In one, Private England, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, is giving a jaunty thumbs-up sign and pointing at the genitals of a young Iraqi, who is naked except for a sandbag over his head, as he masturbates. Three other hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners are shown, hands reflexively crossed over their genitals. A fifth prisoner has his hands at his sides. In another, England stands arm in arm with Specialist Graner; both are grinning and giving the thumbs-up behind a cluster of perhaps seven naked Iraqis, knees bent, piled clumsily on top of each other in a pyramid. There is another photograph of a cluster of naked prisoners, again piled in a pyramid. Near them stands Graner, smiling, his arms crossed; a woman soldier stands in front of him, bending over, and she, too, is smiling. Then, there is another cluster of hooded bodies, with a female soldier standing in front, taking photographs. Yet another photograph shows a kneeling, naked, unhooded male prisoner, head momentarily turned away from the camera, posed to make it appear that he is performing oral sex on another male prisoner, who is naked and hooded.

    Such dehumanization is unacceptable in any culture, but it is especially so in the Arab world. Homosexual acts are against Islamic law and it is humiliating for men to be naked in front of other men, Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at New York University, explained. “Being put on top of each other and forced to masturbate, being naked in front of each other—it’s all a form of torture,” Haykel said.

    Two Iraqi faces that do appear in the photographs are those of dead men. There is the battered face of prisoner No. 153399, and the bloodied body of another prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice. There is a photograph of an empty room, splattered with blood.

    The 372nd’s abuse of prisoners seemed almost routine—a fact of Army life that the soldiers felt no need to hide. On April 9th, at an Article 32 hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury) in the case against Sergeant Frederick, at Camp Victory, near Baghdad, one of the witnesses, Specialist Matthew Wisdom, an M.P., told the courtroom what happened when he and other soldiers delivered seven prisoners, hooded and bound, to the so-called “hard site” at Abu Ghraib—seven tiers of cells where the inmates who were considered the most dangerous were housed. The men had been accused of starting a riot in another section of the prison. Wisdom said:

    SFC Snider grabbed my prisoner and threw him into a pile. . . . I do not think it was right to put them in a pile. I saw SSG Frederick, SGT Davis and CPL Graner walking around the pile hitting the prisoners. I remember SSG Frederick hitting one prisoner in the side of its [sic] ribcage. The prisoner was no danger to SSG Frederick. . . . I left after that.

    When he returned later, Wisdom testified:

    I saw two naked detainees, one masturbating to another kneeling with its mouth open. I thought I should just get out of there. I didn’t think it was right . . . I saw SSG Frederick walking towards me, and he said, “Look what these animals do when you leave them alone for two seconds.” I heard PFC England shout out, “He’s getting hard.”

    Wisdom testified that he told his superiors what had happened, and assumed that “the issue was taken care of.” He said, “I just didn’t want to be part of anything that looked criminal.”

    The abuses became public because of the outrage of Specialist Joseph M. Darby, an M.P. whose role emerged during the Article 32 hearing against Chip Frederick. A government witness, Special Agent Scott Bobeck, who is a member of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, or C.I.D., told the court, according to an abridged transcript made available to me, “The investigation started after SPC Darby . . . got a CD from CPL Graner. . . . He came across pictures of naked detainees.” Bobeck said that Darby had “initially put an anonymous letter under our door, then he later came forward and gave a sworn statement. He felt very bad about it and thought it was very wrong.”

    Questioned further, the Army investigator said that Frederick and his colleagues had not been given any “training guidelines” that he was aware of. The M.P.s in the 372nd had been assigned to routine traffic and police duties upon their arrival in Iraq, in the spring of 2003. In October of 2003, the 372nd was ordered to prison-guard duty at Abu Ghraib. Frederick, at thirty-seven, was far older than his colleagues, and was a natural leader; he had also worked for six years as a guard for the Virginia Department of Corrections. Bobeck explained:

    What I got is that SSG Frederick and CPL Graner were road M.P.s and were put in charge because they were civilian prison guards and had knowledge of how things were supposed to be run.

    Bobeck also testified that witnesses had said that Frederick, on one occasion, “had punched a detainee in the chest so hard that the detainee almost went into cardiac arrest.”

    At the Article 32 hearing, the Army informed Frederick and his attorneys, Captain Robert Shuck, an Army lawyer, and Gary Myers, a civilian, that two dozen witnesses they had sought, including General Karpinski and all of Frederick’s co-defendants, would not appear. Some had been excused after exercising their Fifth Amendment right; others were deemed to be too far away from the courtroom. “The purpose of an Article 32 hearing is for us to engage witnesses and discover facts,” Gary Myers told me. “We ended up with a C.I.D. agent and no alleged victims to examine.” After the hearing, the presiding investigative officer ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convene a court-martial against Frederick.

    Myers, who was one of the military defense attorneys in the My Lai prosecutions of the nineteen-seventies, told me that his client’s defense will be that he was carrying out the orders of his superiors and, in particular, the directions of military intelligence. He said, “Do you really think a group of kids from rural Virginia decided to do this on their own? Decided that the best way to embarrass Arabs and make them talk was to have them walk around nude?”

    In letters and e-mails to family members, Frederick repeatedly noted that the military-intelligence teams, which included C.I.A. officers and linguists and interrogation specialists from private defense contractors, were the dominant force inside Abu Ghraib. In a letter written in January, he said:

    I questioned some of the things that I saw . . . such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell—and the answer I got was, “This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.” . . . . MI has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolation cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window, for as much as three days.

    The military-intelligence officers have “encouraged and told us, ‘Great job,’ they were now getting positive results and information,” Frederick wrote. “CID has been present when the military working dogs were used to intimidate prisoners at MI’s request.” At one point, Frederick told his family, he pulled aside his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, the commander of the 320th M.P. Battalion, and asked about the mistreatment of prisoners. “His reply was ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”

    In November, Frederick wrote, an Iraqi prisoner under the control of what the Abu Ghraib guards called “O.G.A.,” or other government agencies—that is, the C.I.A. and its paramilitary employees—was brought to his unit for questioning. “They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. They put his body in a body bag and packed him in ice for approximately twenty-four hours in the shower. . . . The next day the medics came and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away.” The dead Iraqi was never entered into the prison’s inmate-control system, Frederick recounted, “and therefore never had a number.”

    Frederick’s defense is, of course, highly self-serving. But the complaints in his letters and e-mails home were reinforced by two internal Army reports—Taguba’s and one by the Army’s chief law-enforcement officer, Provost Marshal Donald Ryder, a major general.

    Last fall, General Sanchez ordered Ryder to review the prison system in Iraq and recommend ways to improve it. Ryder’s report, filed on November 5th, concluded that there were potential human-rights, training, and manpower issues, system-wide, that needed immediate attention. It also discussed serious concerns about the tension between the missions of the military police assigned to guard the prisoners and the intelligence teams who wanted to interrogate them. Army regulations limit intelligence activity by the M.P.s to passive collection. But something had gone wrong at Abu Ghraib.

    There was evidence dating back to the Afghanistan war, the Ryder report said, that M.P.s had worked with intelligence operatives to “set favorable conditions for subsequent interviews”—a euphemism for breaking the will of prisoners. “Such actions generally run counter to the smooth operation of a detention facility, attempting to maintain its population in a compliant and docile state.” General Karpinski’s brigade, Ryder reported, “has not been directed to change its facility procedures to set the conditions for MI interrogations, nor participate in those interrogations.” Ryder called for the establishment of procedures to “define the role of military police soldiers . . . clearly separating the actions of the guards from those of the military intelligence personnel.” The officers running the war in Iraq were put on notice.

    Ryder undercut his warning, however, by concluding that the situation had not yet reached a crisis point. Though some procedures were flawed, he said, he found “no military police units purposely applying inappropriate confinement practices.” His investigation was at best a failure and at worst a coverup.

    Taguba, in his report, was polite but direct in refuting his fellow-general. “Unfortunately, many of the systemic problems that surfaced during [Ryder’s] assessment are the very same issues that are the subject of this investigation,” he wrote. “In fact, many of the abuses suffered by detainees occurred during, or near to, the time of that assessment.” The report continued, “Contrary to the findings of MG Ryder’s report, I find that personnel assigned to the 372nd MP Company, 800th MP Brigade were directed to change facility procedures to ‘set the conditions’ for MI interrogations.” Army intelligence officers, C.I.A. agents, and private contractors “actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.”

    Taguba backed up his assertion by citing evidence from sworn statements to Army C.I.D. investigators. Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the accused M.P.s, testified that it was her job to keep detainees awake, including one hooded prisoner who was placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes, and penis. She stated, “MI wanted to get them to talk. It is Graner and Frederick’s job to do things for MI and OGA to get these people to talk.”

    Another witness, Sergeant Javal Davis, who is also one of the accused, told C.I.D. investigators, “I witnessed prisoners in the MI hold section . . . being made to do various things that I would question morally. . . . We were told that they had different rules.” Taguba wrote, “Davis also stated that he had heard MI insinuate to the guards to abuse the inmates. When asked what MI said he stated: ‘Loosen this guy up for us.’ ‘Make sure he has a bad night.’ ‘Make sure he gets the treatment.’ ” Military intelligence made these comments to Graner and Frederick, Davis said. “The MI staffs to my understanding have been giving Graner compliments . . . statements like, ‘Good job, they’re breaking down real fast. They answer every question. They’re giving out good information.’ ”

    When asked why he did not inform his chain of command about the abuse, Sergeant Davis answered, “Because I assumed that if they were doing things out of the ordinary or outside the guidelines, someone would have said something. Also the wing”—where the abuse took place—“belongs to MI and it appeared MI personnel approved of the abuse.”

    Another witness, Specialist Jason Kennel, who was not accused of wrongdoing, said, “I saw them nude, but MI would tell us to take away their mattresses, sheets, and clothes.” (It was his view, he added, that if M.I. wanted him to do this “they needed to give me paperwork.”) Taguba also cited an interview with Adel L. Nakhla, a translator who was an employee of Titan, a civilian contractor. He told of one night when a “bunch of people from MI” watched as a group of handcuffed and shackled inmates were subjected to abuse by Graner and Frederick.

    General Taguba saved his harshest words for the military-intelligence officers and private contractors. He recommended that Colonel Thomas Pappas, the commander of one of the M.I. brigades, be reprimanded and receive non-judicial punishment, and that Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, the former director of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, be relieved of duty and reprimanded. He further urged that a civilian contractor, Steven Stephanowicz, of CACI International, be fired from his Army job, reprimanded, and denied his security clearances for lying to the investigating team and allowing or ordering military policemen “who were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations by ‘setting conditions’ which were neither authorized” nor in accordance with Army regulations. “He clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse,” Taguba wrote. He also recommended disciplinary action against a second CACI employee, John Israel. (A spokeswoman for CACI said that the company had “received no formal communication” from the Army about the matter.)

    “I suspect,” Taguba concluded, that Pappas, Jordan, Stephanowicz, and Israel “were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib,” and strongly recommended immediate disciplinary action.

    The problems inside the Army prison system in Iraq were not hidden from senior commanders. During Karpinski’s seven-month tour of duty, Taguba noted, there were at least a dozen officially reported incidents involving escapes, attempted escapes, and other serious security issues that were investigated by officers of the 800th M.P. Brigade. Some of the incidents had led to the killing or wounding of inmates and M.P.s, and resulted in a series of “lessons learned” inquiries within the brigade. Karpinski invariably approved the reports and signed orders calling for changes in day-to-day procedures. But Taguba found that she did not follow up, doing nothing to insure that the orders were carried out. Had she done so, he added, “cases of abuse may have been prevented.”

    General Taguba further found that Abu Ghraib was filled beyond capacity, and that the M.P. guard force was significantly undermanned and short of resources. “This imbalance has contributed to the poor living conditions, escapes, and accountability lapses,” he wrote. There were gross differences, Taguba said, between the actual number of prisoners on hand and the number officially recorded. A lack of proper screening also meant that many innocent Iraqis were wrongly being detained—indefinitely, it seemed, in some cases. The Taguba study noted that more than sixty per cent of the civilian inmates at Abu Ghraib were deemed not to be a threat to society, which should have enabled them to be released. Karpinski’s defense, Taguba said, was that her superior officers “routinely” rejected her recommendations regarding the release of such prisoners.

    Karpinski was rarely seen at the prisons she was supposed to be running, Taguba wrote. He also found a wide range of administrative problems, including some that he considered “without precedent in my military career.” The soldiers, he added, were “poorly prepared and untrained . . . prior to deployment, at the mobilization site, upon arrival in theater, and throughout the mission.”

    General Taguba spent more than four hours interviewing Karpinski, whom he described as extremely emotional: “What I found particularly disturbing in her testimony was her complete unwillingness to either understand or accept that many of the problems inherent in the 800th MP Brigade were caused or exacerbated by poor leadership and the refusal of her command to both establish and enforce basic standards and principles among its soldiers.”

    Taguba recommended that Karpinski and seven brigade military-police officers and enlisted men be relieved of command and formally reprimanded. No criminal proceedings were suggested for Karpinski; apparently, the loss of promotion and the indignity of a public rebuke were seen as enough punishment.

    After the story broke on CBS last week, the Pentagon announced that Major General Geoffrey Miller, the new head of the Iraqi prison system, had arrived in Baghdad and was on the job. He had been the commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center. General Sanchez also authorized an investigation into possible wrongdoing by military and civilian interrogators.

    As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.

    The mistreatment at Abu Ghraib may have done little to further American intelligence, however. Willie J. Rowell, who served for thirty-six years as a C.I.D. agent, told me that the use of force or humiliation with prisoners is invariably counterproductive. “They’ll tell you what you want to hear, truth or no truth,” Rowell said. “ ‘You can flog me until I tell you what I know you want me to say.’ You don’t get righteous information.”

    Under the fourth Geneva convention, an occupying power can jail civilians who pose an “imperative” security threat, but it must establish a regular procedure for insuring that only civilians who remain a genuine security threat be kept imprisoned. Prisoners have the right to appeal any internment decision and have their cases reviewed. Human Rights Watch complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that civilians in Iraq remained in custody month after month with no charges brought against them. Abu Ghraib had become, in effect, another Guantánamo.

    As the photographs from Abu Ghraib make clear, these detentions have had enormous consequences: for the imprisoned civilian Iraqis, many of whom had nothing to do with the growing insurgency; for the integrity of the Army; and for the United States’ reputation in the world.

    Captain Robert Shuck, Frederick’s military attorney, closed his defense at the Article 32 hearing last month by saying that the Army was “attempting to have these six soldiers atone for its sins.” Similarly, Gary Myers, Frederick’s civilian attorney, told me that he would argue at the court-martial that culpability in the case extended far beyond his client. “I’m going to drag every involved intelligence officer and civilian contractor I can find into court,” he said. “Do you really believe the Army relieved a general officer because of six soldiers? Not a chance.”

    https://open.substack.com/pub/seymourhersh/p/torture-at-abu-ghraib?r=29hg4d&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post
    TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB From the archive Seymour Hersh An Iraqi who was told he would be electrocuted if he fell off the box. I am on vacation this week but thought it would be useful to republish a painful story I did two decades ago for the New Yorker about a group of US army soldiers who went out of control amid a war in Iraq that, so they were told, was being waged against the terrorism that struck America on 9/11. What the GIs did then are what any army does in war when hating and fearing the enemy is encouraged and runs through the ranks, from the lowest level grunts to the senior generals. It takes a special leader, as you will read about below, who confounds his superiors by not covering up the crimes of his soldiers and their most senior officers, and does so knowing that his career is over. Would that there were such fearless leaders in the Middle East today. In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits. In the looting that followed the regime’s collapse, last April, the huge prison complex, by then deserted, was stripped of everything that could be removed, including doors, windows, and bricks. The coalition authorities had the floors tiled, cells cleaned and repaired, and toilets, showers, and a new medical center added. Abu Ghraib was now a U.S. military prison. Most of the prisoners, however—by the fall there were several thousand, including women and teen-agers—were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and at highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of “crimes against the coalition”; and a small number of suspected “high-value” leaders of the insurgency against the coalition forces. Last June, Janis Karpinski, an Army reserve brigadier general, was named commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade and put in charge of military prisons in Iraq. General Karpinski, the only female commander in the war zone, was an experienced operations and intelligence officer who had served with the Special Forces and in the 1991 Gulf War, but she had never run a prison system. Now she was in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists, most of whom, like her, had no training in handling prisoners. General Karpinski, who had wanted to be a soldier since she was five, is a business consultant in civilian life, and was enthusiastic about her new job. In an interview last December with the St. Petersburg Times, she said that, for many of the Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib, “living conditions now are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned that they wouldn’t want to leave.” A month later, General Karpinski was formally admonished and quietly suspended, and a major investigation into the Army’s prison system, authorized by Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior commander in Iraq, was under way. A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community. (The 372nd was attached to the 320th M.P. Battalion, which reported to Karpinski’s brigade headquarters.) Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing: Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee. There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their “extremely sensitive nature.” The photographs—several of which were broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes 2” last week—show leering G.I.s taunting naked Iraqi prisoners who are forced to assume humiliating poses. Six suspects—Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, known as Chip, who was the senior enlisted man; Specialist Charles A. Graner; Sergeant Javal Davis; Specialist Megan Ambuhl; Specialist Sabrina Harman; and Private Jeremy Sivits—are now facing prosecution in Iraq, on charges that include conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty toward prisoners, maltreatment, assault, and indecent acts. A seventh suspect, Private Lynndie England, was reassigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after becoming pregnant. The photographs tell it all. In one, Private England, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, is giving a jaunty thumbs-up sign and pointing at the genitals of a young Iraqi, who is naked except for a sandbag over his head, as he masturbates. Three other hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners are shown, hands reflexively crossed over their genitals. A fifth prisoner has his hands at his sides. In another, England stands arm in arm with Specialist Graner; both are grinning and giving the thumbs-up behind a cluster of perhaps seven naked Iraqis, knees bent, piled clumsily on top of each other in a pyramid. There is another photograph of a cluster of naked prisoners, again piled in a pyramid. Near them stands Graner, smiling, his arms crossed; a woman soldier stands in front of him, bending over, and she, too, is smiling. Then, there is another cluster of hooded bodies, with a female soldier standing in front, taking photographs. Yet another photograph shows a kneeling, naked, unhooded male prisoner, head momentarily turned away from the camera, posed to make it appear that he is performing oral sex on another male prisoner, who is naked and hooded. Such dehumanization is unacceptable in any culture, but it is especially so in the Arab world. Homosexual acts are against Islamic law and it is humiliating for men to be naked in front of other men, Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at New York University, explained. “Being put on top of each other and forced to masturbate, being naked in front of each other—it’s all a form of torture,” Haykel said. Two Iraqi faces that do appear in the photographs are those of dead men. There is the battered face of prisoner No. 153399, and the bloodied body of another prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice. There is a photograph of an empty room, splattered with blood. The 372nd’s abuse of prisoners seemed almost routine—a fact of Army life that the soldiers felt no need to hide. On April 9th, at an Article 32 hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury) in the case against Sergeant Frederick, at Camp Victory, near Baghdad, one of the witnesses, Specialist Matthew Wisdom, an M.P., told the courtroom what happened when he and other soldiers delivered seven prisoners, hooded and bound, to the so-called “hard site” at Abu Ghraib—seven tiers of cells where the inmates who were considered the most dangerous were housed. The men had been accused of starting a riot in another section of the prison. Wisdom said: SFC Snider grabbed my prisoner and threw him into a pile. . . . I do not think it was right to put them in a pile. I saw SSG Frederick, SGT Davis and CPL Graner walking around the pile hitting the prisoners. I remember SSG Frederick hitting one prisoner in the side of its [sic] ribcage. The prisoner was no danger to SSG Frederick. . . . I left after that. When he returned later, Wisdom testified: I saw two naked detainees, one masturbating to another kneeling with its mouth open. I thought I should just get out of there. I didn’t think it was right . . . I saw SSG Frederick walking towards me, and he said, “Look what these animals do when you leave them alone for two seconds.” I heard PFC England shout out, “He’s getting hard.” Wisdom testified that he told his superiors what had happened, and assumed that “the issue was taken care of.” He said, “I just didn’t want to be part of anything that looked criminal.” The abuses became public because of the outrage of Specialist Joseph M. Darby, an M.P. whose role emerged during the Article 32 hearing against Chip Frederick. A government witness, Special Agent Scott Bobeck, who is a member of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, or C.I.D., told the court, according to an abridged transcript made available to me, “The investigation started after SPC Darby . . . got a CD from CPL Graner. . . . He came across pictures of naked detainees.” Bobeck said that Darby had “initially put an anonymous letter under our door, then he later came forward and gave a sworn statement. He felt very bad about it and thought it was very wrong.” Questioned further, the Army investigator said that Frederick and his colleagues had not been given any “training guidelines” that he was aware of. The M.P.s in the 372nd had been assigned to routine traffic and police duties upon their arrival in Iraq, in the spring of 2003. In October of 2003, the 372nd was ordered to prison-guard duty at Abu Ghraib. Frederick, at thirty-seven, was far older than his colleagues, and was a natural leader; he had also worked for six years as a guard for the Virginia Department of Corrections. Bobeck explained: What I got is that SSG Frederick and CPL Graner were road M.P.s and were put in charge because they were civilian prison guards and had knowledge of how things were supposed to be run. Bobeck also testified that witnesses had said that Frederick, on one occasion, “had punched a detainee in the chest so hard that the detainee almost went into cardiac arrest.” At the Article 32 hearing, the Army informed Frederick and his attorneys, Captain Robert Shuck, an Army lawyer, and Gary Myers, a civilian, that two dozen witnesses they had sought, including General Karpinski and all of Frederick’s co-defendants, would not appear. Some had been excused after exercising their Fifth Amendment right; others were deemed to be too far away from the courtroom. “The purpose of an Article 32 hearing is for us to engage witnesses and discover facts,” Gary Myers told me. “We ended up with a C.I.D. agent and no alleged victims to examine.” After the hearing, the presiding investigative officer ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convene a court-martial against Frederick. Myers, who was one of the military defense attorneys in the My Lai prosecutions of the nineteen-seventies, told me that his client’s defense will be that he was carrying out the orders of his superiors and, in particular, the directions of military intelligence. He said, “Do you really think a group of kids from rural Virginia decided to do this on their own? Decided that the best way to embarrass Arabs and make them talk was to have them walk around nude?” In letters and e-mails to family members, Frederick repeatedly noted that the military-intelligence teams, which included C.I.A. officers and linguists and interrogation specialists from private defense contractors, were the dominant force inside Abu Ghraib. In a letter written in January, he said: I questioned some of the things that I saw . . . such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell—and the answer I got was, “This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.” . . . . MI has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolation cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window, for as much as three days. The military-intelligence officers have “encouraged and told us, ‘Great job,’ they were now getting positive results and information,” Frederick wrote. “CID has been present when the military working dogs were used to intimidate prisoners at MI’s request.” At one point, Frederick told his family, he pulled aside his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, the commander of the 320th M.P. Battalion, and asked about the mistreatment of prisoners. “His reply was ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ” In November, Frederick wrote, an Iraqi prisoner under the control of what the Abu Ghraib guards called “O.G.A.,” or other government agencies—that is, the C.I.A. and its paramilitary employees—was brought to his unit for questioning. “They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. They put his body in a body bag and packed him in ice for approximately twenty-four hours in the shower. . . . The next day the medics came and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away.” The dead Iraqi was never entered into the prison’s inmate-control system, Frederick recounted, “and therefore never had a number.” Frederick’s defense is, of course, highly self-serving. But the complaints in his letters and e-mails home were reinforced by two internal Army reports—Taguba’s and one by the Army’s chief law-enforcement officer, Provost Marshal Donald Ryder, a major general. Last fall, General Sanchez ordered Ryder to review the prison system in Iraq and recommend ways to improve it. Ryder’s report, filed on November 5th, concluded that there were potential human-rights, training, and manpower issues, system-wide, that needed immediate attention. It also discussed serious concerns about the tension between the missions of the military police assigned to guard the prisoners and the intelligence teams who wanted to interrogate them. Army regulations limit intelligence activity by the M.P.s to passive collection. But something had gone wrong at Abu Ghraib. There was evidence dating back to the Afghanistan war, the Ryder report said, that M.P.s had worked with intelligence operatives to “set favorable conditions for subsequent interviews”—a euphemism for breaking the will of prisoners. “Such actions generally run counter to the smooth operation of a detention facility, attempting to maintain its population in a compliant and docile state.” General Karpinski’s brigade, Ryder reported, “has not been directed to change its facility procedures to set the conditions for MI interrogations, nor participate in those interrogations.” Ryder called for the establishment of procedures to “define the role of military police soldiers . . . clearly separating the actions of the guards from those of the military intelligence personnel.” The officers running the war in Iraq were put on notice. Ryder undercut his warning, however, by concluding that the situation had not yet reached a crisis point. Though some procedures were flawed, he said, he found “no military police units purposely applying inappropriate confinement practices.” His investigation was at best a failure and at worst a coverup. Taguba, in his report, was polite but direct in refuting his fellow-general. “Unfortunately, many of the systemic problems that surfaced during [Ryder’s] assessment are the very same issues that are the subject of this investigation,” he wrote. “In fact, many of the abuses suffered by detainees occurred during, or near to, the time of that assessment.” The report continued, “Contrary to the findings of MG Ryder’s report, I find that personnel assigned to the 372nd MP Company, 800th MP Brigade were directed to change facility procedures to ‘set the conditions’ for MI interrogations.” Army intelligence officers, C.I.A. agents, and private contractors “actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.” Taguba backed up his assertion by citing evidence from sworn statements to Army C.I.D. investigators. Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the accused M.P.s, testified that it was her job to keep detainees awake, including one hooded prisoner who was placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes, and penis. She stated, “MI wanted to get them to talk. It is Graner and Frederick’s job to do things for MI and OGA to get these people to talk.” Another witness, Sergeant Javal Davis, who is also one of the accused, told C.I.D. investigators, “I witnessed prisoners in the MI hold section . . . being made to do various things that I would question morally. . . . We were told that they had different rules.” Taguba wrote, “Davis also stated that he had heard MI insinuate to the guards to abuse the inmates. When asked what MI said he stated: ‘Loosen this guy up for us.’ ‘Make sure he has a bad night.’ ‘Make sure he gets the treatment.’ ” Military intelligence made these comments to Graner and Frederick, Davis said. “The MI staffs to my understanding have been giving Graner compliments . . . statements like, ‘Good job, they’re breaking down real fast. They answer every question. They’re giving out good information.’ ” When asked why he did not inform his chain of command about the abuse, Sergeant Davis answered, “Because I assumed that if they were doing things out of the ordinary or outside the guidelines, someone would have said something. Also the wing”—where the abuse took place—“belongs to MI and it appeared MI personnel approved of the abuse.” Another witness, Specialist Jason Kennel, who was not accused of wrongdoing, said, “I saw them nude, but MI would tell us to take away their mattresses, sheets, and clothes.” (It was his view, he added, that if M.I. wanted him to do this “they needed to give me paperwork.”) Taguba also cited an interview with Adel L. Nakhla, a translator who was an employee of Titan, a civilian contractor. He told of one night when a “bunch of people from MI” watched as a group of handcuffed and shackled inmates were subjected to abuse by Graner and Frederick. General Taguba saved his harshest words for the military-intelligence officers and private contractors. He recommended that Colonel Thomas Pappas, the commander of one of the M.I. brigades, be reprimanded and receive non-judicial punishment, and that Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, the former director of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, be relieved of duty and reprimanded. He further urged that a civilian contractor, Steven Stephanowicz, of CACI International, be fired from his Army job, reprimanded, and denied his security clearances for lying to the investigating team and allowing or ordering military policemen “who were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations by ‘setting conditions’ which were neither authorized” nor in accordance with Army regulations. “He clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse,” Taguba wrote. He also recommended disciplinary action against a second CACI employee, John Israel. (A spokeswoman for CACI said that the company had “received no formal communication” from the Army about the matter.) “I suspect,” Taguba concluded, that Pappas, Jordan, Stephanowicz, and Israel “were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib,” and strongly recommended immediate disciplinary action. The problems inside the Army prison system in Iraq were not hidden from senior commanders. During Karpinski’s seven-month tour of duty, Taguba noted, there were at least a dozen officially reported incidents involving escapes, attempted escapes, and other serious security issues that were investigated by officers of the 800th M.P. Brigade. Some of the incidents had led to the killing or wounding of inmates and M.P.s, and resulted in a series of “lessons learned” inquiries within the brigade. Karpinski invariably approved the reports and signed orders calling for changes in day-to-day procedures. But Taguba found that she did not follow up, doing nothing to insure that the orders were carried out. Had she done so, he added, “cases of abuse may have been prevented.” General Taguba further found that Abu Ghraib was filled beyond capacity, and that the M.P. guard force was significantly undermanned and short of resources. “This imbalance has contributed to the poor living conditions, escapes, and accountability lapses,” he wrote. There were gross differences, Taguba said, between the actual number of prisoners on hand and the number officially recorded. A lack of proper screening also meant that many innocent Iraqis were wrongly being detained—indefinitely, it seemed, in some cases. The Taguba study noted that more than sixty per cent of the civilian inmates at Abu Ghraib were deemed not to be a threat to society, which should have enabled them to be released. Karpinski’s defense, Taguba said, was that her superior officers “routinely” rejected her recommendations regarding the release of such prisoners. Karpinski was rarely seen at the prisons she was supposed to be running, Taguba wrote. He also found a wide range of administrative problems, including some that he considered “without precedent in my military career.” The soldiers, he added, were “poorly prepared and untrained . . . prior to deployment, at the mobilization site, upon arrival in theater, and throughout the mission.” General Taguba spent more than four hours interviewing Karpinski, whom he described as extremely emotional: “What I found particularly disturbing in her testimony was her complete unwillingness to either understand or accept that many of the problems inherent in the 800th MP Brigade were caused or exacerbated by poor leadership and the refusal of her command to both establish and enforce basic standards and principles among its soldiers.” Taguba recommended that Karpinski and seven brigade military-police officers and enlisted men be relieved of command and formally reprimanded. No criminal proceedings were suggested for Karpinski; apparently, the loss of promotion and the indignity of a public rebuke were seen as enough punishment. After the story broke on CBS last week, the Pentagon announced that Major General Geoffrey Miller, the new head of the Iraqi prison system, had arrived in Baghdad and was on the job. He had been the commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center. General Sanchez also authorized an investigation into possible wrongdoing by military and civilian interrogators. As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority. The mistreatment at Abu Ghraib may have done little to further American intelligence, however. Willie J. Rowell, who served for thirty-six years as a C.I.D. agent, told me that the use of force or humiliation with prisoners is invariably counterproductive. “They’ll tell you what you want to hear, truth or no truth,” Rowell said. “ ‘You can flog me until I tell you what I know you want me to say.’ You don’t get righteous information.” Under the fourth Geneva convention, an occupying power can jail civilians who pose an “imperative” security threat, but it must establish a regular procedure for insuring that only civilians who remain a genuine security threat be kept imprisoned. Prisoners have the right to appeal any internment decision and have their cases reviewed. Human Rights Watch complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that civilians in Iraq remained in custody month after month with no charges brought against them. Abu Ghraib had become, in effect, another Guantánamo. As the photographs from Abu Ghraib make clear, these detentions have had enormous consequences: for the imprisoned civilian Iraqis, many of whom had nothing to do with the growing insurgency; for the integrity of the Army; and for the United States’ reputation in the world. Captain Robert Shuck, Frederick’s military attorney, closed his defense at the Article 32 hearing last month by saying that the Army was “attempting to have these six soldiers atone for its sins.” Similarly, Gary Myers, Frederick’s civilian attorney, told me that he would argue at the court-martial that culpability in the case extended far beyond his client. “I’m going to drag every involved intelligence officer and civilian contractor I can find into court,” he said. “Do you really believe the Army relieved a general officer because of six soldiers? Not a chance.” https://open.substack.com/pub/seymourhersh/p/torture-at-abu-ghraib?r=29hg4d&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post
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  • Essential facts about the Hamas-Gaza-Israel war
    contact@ifamericansknew.org October 26, 2023 Gaza, hamas, justice, occupation, resistance, terrorist, zionism
    Essential facts about the Hamas-Gaza-Israel war
    One of thousands of buildings in Gaza that were destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the last two weeks. (photo)
    The current situation in Gaza and Israel did not come out of the blue. Read critical background left out of breaking news alerts…


    by Kathryn Shihadah

    On Oct 7, the resistance group Hamas did not invade a peace-loving country. To Israelis, it may have felt tranquil and carefree – they were dancing, raising families on tree-lined streets, planning vacations abroad. Palestinians are pretty much invisible, locked as they are behind high concrete walls and electrified, fortified, barbed wire barriers.

    Israelis have never experienced the kind of invasion they got that day. The roles are usually reversed. This time some Palestinians were killing, kidnapping, and causing panic, trauma, and unconscionable violence. Usually it is some Israeli soldiers and settlers that perpetrate such acts.

    The Israelis’ experience – and that of their loved ones – is real and significant.

    But many of us are dismissing Gazans’ experience out of hand.

    If we believe in equality, in the presence of the imago dei in everyone, we ought to be troubled by this. Are Israeli sins forgivable, but Palestinian sins somehow unforgivable?

    We ought to make sure we have true and accurate information, and are responding to it responsibly. If we detect any bigotry in our perspective, we must work diligently to weed it out.

    What you didn’t know you didn’t know

    History did not begin on October 7, 2023. If it had, Hamas militants would have no pertinent reason for the rage they displayed. Their only excuse would be hatred for Jews.

    We must acknowledge that each of the young Gazan fighters has experienced a lifetime under a brutal Israeli blockade and multiple major Israeli operations – it’s a stretch to call them “wars,” as the weaponry and the casualty figures were so lopsided (for example, in the 2008-2009 hostilities, 9 Israelis were killed, vs 1,400 Gazans; in 2012, 6 Israelis vs 174 Gazans; in 2014, 72 Israelis vs 2,200 Gazans). These experiences shaped every Gazan (Israeli journalists Amira Hass and Gideon Levy recognize the significance of this fact).

    Each fighter in Gaza likely grew up not just fearful and angry, but hungry, malnourished, growth-stunted, and anxious. He has likely seen dead bodies, amputated limbs, and blood. He has likely lost loved ones and played in the shells of bombed-out houses.

    The violence against him has not stopped long enough for him to get PTSD. There has been no “post” to his trauma.

    (We must also recognize that the United States and Israel helped create and sustain Hamas, and one day decided that Hamas was now the enemy.)

    Hamas fighters, like all young people in Gaza, struggle to hold onto hope for the future. Israel’s brutal blockade, plus its destruction of factories, shops, and other businesses, has left an unemployment rate hovering around 45%.

    How to restore hope? Not by committing murder, but by winning freedom. That is what every Palestinian wants. Not revenge, not the eradication of Jews. Freedom and hope.

    How to achieve freedom?

    Obviously, killing hundreds of Israelis is not moral or productive, and will not lead to freedom – at least, not directly.

    Similarly, bombing Gaza to rubble is not the way for Israel to gain security. That has been proven again and again, at great cost to Palestinians.

    These are irrational actions on both sides, horrible acts.

    For years, Palestinians have tried rational, peaceful methods of achieving justice: they have petitioned the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. They have held thousands of peaceful protests. In the ICC and ICJ, the United States always exercises veto power in Israel’s favor. When it comes to peaceful protests, Israeli soldiers shoot to kill.

    (The UN Security Council voted on a resolution Wednesday, October 18, merely calling for Israel to pause its bombing to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza – the United States vetoed it. That is not contributing to anything but carnage.)

    When Palestinians are quiet, the world forgets them, leaving them to Israel’s whims; when they protest peacefully, they are killed. Only when they make a lot of noise does the world finally wake up. October 7th was about as noisy as it gets – and millions are now rallying for a ceasefire and Palestinian rights. The international community carries some of the blame for allowing Israel to oppress Palestinians to the breaking point.

    That is to say that while each individual member of Hamas is responsible for his own actions – and some or many may have committed atrocities – Israel’s policies of brutal starvation, suffocation, and airstrikes, pushed them into a corner. Israel must own up to that. American foreign policy allowed it, and we must own up to that. The current situation is by no stretch of the imagination all Hamas’ fault.

    In every war, individuals commit atrocities that are inexcusable. The members of Hamas had just broken out of the world’s largest prison, where they had been brutalized every day by Israel. Violent retribution on the part of some should not surprise us.

    It is also worth noting that at least some of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas were treated well and with respect – so well that some Israelis wished the truth hadn’t been made public. It is understood that they were not captured to be killed, but to be bargaining chips for the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners wrongly held by Israel.

    One possible culpability loophole for us everyday folks: if you are one of the millions who know nothing about Palestinians except the October 7 massacre, realize this: our mainstream media has for years been working to keep you in the dark (see this, this, and this, for example).

    Zionism

    So. Why did they do it? Do Hamas militants have a deep, inbred hatred of Jews?

    The one thing most Palestinians know for sure about Jews is that they come in two types: those who embrace Zionism and those who don’t.

    The people who took over the Palestinian homeland in 1948 and sent 700,000 Palestinians to refugee camps – those were Zionists. The people who, ever since, have dropped bombs, withheld human rights, and stripped Palestinians of their humanity – those are Zionists. Palestinians hate Zionism. Not Judaism. Not Jews (in fact, in the decades before Israel was born, the majority of Jews were against the very idea of a Jewish state; many were anti-Zionist).

    Palestinians are highly intelligent, highly educated – and their education did not include being “taught to hate Jews.” They didn’t need to be taught to hate their occupier – each boy and girl from Gaza to the West Bank, from East Jerusalem to Israel, figured out all by themselves that the ones shooting their family members and withholding blankets and baby food are despicable.

    Nor is the distinction between “Jew” and “Zionist” too hard for Palestinians to comprehend.

    (For some Israel apologists, including but not limited to Jonathan Greenblatt, the distinction between Jew and Zionist is lost. Wait…does that mean Palestinians are smarter than Zionists?)

    October Seventh

    The whole world is aware of Hamas’ October 7th attack – its brutality is already legendary. People who should know better are publicly calling them “animals” and “barbarians.” “These are not human beings! They killed babies, raped women.”

    Look, several thousand militants entered Israel that day. If they were all animals, killing babies and raping women, there would have been a lot more victims (I have yet to see actual evidence of a rapes of Israeli women that day – if you have, please share it with me). Governments lie during wars, and this appears to be one of those times (that said, there is documentation of Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian women (and men, and children) that stretch from Israel’s founding to the present).

    Members of Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza absolutely have a cruel streak. Would anyone expect them not to?

    Israel and its self-proclaimed “most moral army in the world” reinforce their cruel streak with one of the most powerful militaries in the world and (apparently) complete exemption from international law.

    Key questions

    Palestinians really have two choices: resist and be labeled “terrorist/subhuman,” or sit quietly and let Israel starve and shoot and humiliate them. There are no good options. (Most can not afford to emigrate, nor do they want to leave their homeland.)

    Here are the questions we must grapple with.

    Do Palestinians have the right to be free of Israeli occupation?

    Do they have the right to self-determination?

    Do they have the right to a dignified life?

    These are yes/no questions. They are unrelated to Hamas. Do Palestinians have these rights?

    If you are grieved by the loss of Israeli life – in spite of Israel’s many sins – but Palestinian casualties still do not move you, what you are feeling is probably not righteous anger, but prejudice.

    Cleanse your palette of judgmentalism toward two million people for the faults of a few, for being born Palestinian, for desiring a better life.

    Understand that legitimate grievances, left to fester, will beget hostility and violence.

    Discern the difference between recognizing these grievances and approving the violence.

    Acknowledge that America has been complicit in the carnage we’ve witnessed in the past weeks.

    As long as we cheer for Israel – or stay silent about the slaughter of Palestinians – we are part of the problem.

    Palestinians are people, and that’s the bottom line.

    Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. This is reposted from Patheos – Grace Colored Glasses – Kathy’s blog on Patheos, an online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality. She also occasionally blogs at Palestine Home.

    RELATED READING:

    Gaza-Israel: Latest news and statistics (ongoing updates)
    Sec’y Blinken (indirectly) calls Israel’s treatment of Gazans “barbaric”
    It’s not just Gaza – Israel is also killing scores in the West Bank
    Palestinian-American child killed in Illinois: this is what media reports left out
    In Gaza, she now inhabits a solitary space between life and death
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    WATCH: What was happening in Gaza BEFORE the Hamas attack that the media didn’t tell you
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    Hover over each bar for exact numbers.
    Source: IsraelPalestineTimeline.org



    https://israelpalestinenews.org/how-to-make-sense-of-the-palestinian-call-for-freedom-and-justice-gaza/
    Essential facts about the Hamas-Gaza-Israel war contact@ifamericansknew.org October 26, 2023 Gaza, hamas, justice, occupation, resistance, terrorist, zionism Essential facts about the Hamas-Gaza-Israel war One of thousands of buildings in Gaza that were destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the last two weeks. (photo) The current situation in Gaza and Israel did not come out of the blue. Read critical background left out of breaking news alerts… by Kathryn Shihadah On Oct 7, the resistance group Hamas did not invade a peace-loving country. To Israelis, it may have felt tranquil and carefree – they were dancing, raising families on tree-lined streets, planning vacations abroad. Palestinians are pretty much invisible, locked as they are behind high concrete walls and electrified, fortified, barbed wire barriers. Israelis have never experienced the kind of invasion they got that day. The roles are usually reversed. This time some Palestinians were killing, kidnapping, and causing panic, trauma, and unconscionable violence. Usually it is some Israeli soldiers and settlers that perpetrate such acts. The Israelis’ experience – and that of their loved ones – is real and significant. But many of us are dismissing Gazans’ experience out of hand. If we believe in equality, in the presence of the imago dei in everyone, we ought to be troubled by this. Are Israeli sins forgivable, but Palestinian sins somehow unforgivable? We ought to make sure we have true and accurate information, and are responding to it responsibly. If we detect any bigotry in our perspective, we must work diligently to weed it out. What you didn’t know you didn’t know History did not begin on October 7, 2023. If it had, Hamas militants would have no pertinent reason for the rage they displayed. Their only excuse would be hatred for Jews. We must acknowledge that each of the young Gazan fighters has experienced a lifetime under a brutal Israeli blockade and multiple major Israeli operations – it’s a stretch to call them “wars,” as the weaponry and the casualty figures were so lopsided (for example, in the 2008-2009 hostilities, 9 Israelis were killed, vs 1,400 Gazans; in 2012, 6 Israelis vs 174 Gazans; in 2014, 72 Israelis vs 2,200 Gazans). These experiences shaped every Gazan (Israeli journalists Amira Hass and Gideon Levy recognize the significance of this fact). Each fighter in Gaza likely grew up not just fearful and angry, but hungry, malnourished, growth-stunted, and anxious. He has likely seen dead bodies, amputated limbs, and blood. He has likely lost loved ones and played in the shells of bombed-out houses. The violence against him has not stopped long enough for him to get PTSD. There has been no “post” to his trauma. (We must also recognize that the United States and Israel helped create and sustain Hamas, and one day decided that Hamas was now the enemy.) Hamas fighters, like all young people in Gaza, struggle to hold onto hope for the future. Israel’s brutal blockade, plus its destruction of factories, shops, and other businesses, has left an unemployment rate hovering around 45%. How to restore hope? Not by committing murder, but by winning freedom. That is what every Palestinian wants. Not revenge, not the eradication of Jews. Freedom and hope. How to achieve freedom? Obviously, killing hundreds of Israelis is not moral or productive, and will not lead to freedom – at least, not directly. Similarly, bombing Gaza to rubble is not the way for Israel to gain security. That has been proven again and again, at great cost to Palestinians. These are irrational actions on both sides, horrible acts. For years, Palestinians have tried rational, peaceful methods of achieving justice: they have petitioned the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. They have held thousands of peaceful protests. In the ICC and ICJ, the United States always exercises veto power in Israel’s favor. When it comes to peaceful protests, Israeli soldiers shoot to kill. (The UN Security Council voted on a resolution Wednesday, October 18, merely calling for Israel to pause its bombing to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza – the United States vetoed it. That is not contributing to anything but carnage.) When Palestinians are quiet, the world forgets them, leaving them to Israel’s whims; when they protest peacefully, they are killed. Only when they make a lot of noise does the world finally wake up. October 7th was about as noisy as it gets – and millions are now rallying for a ceasefire and Palestinian rights. The international community carries some of the blame for allowing Israel to oppress Palestinians to the breaking point. That is to say that while each individual member of Hamas is responsible for his own actions – and some or many may have committed atrocities – Israel’s policies of brutal starvation, suffocation, and airstrikes, pushed them into a corner. Israel must own up to that. American foreign policy allowed it, and we must own up to that. The current situation is by no stretch of the imagination all Hamas’ fault. In every war, individuals commit atrocities that are inexcusable. The members of Hamas had just broken out of the world’s largest prison, where they had been brutalized every day by Israel. Violent retribution on the part of some should not surprise us. It is also worth noting that at least some of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas were treated well and with respect – so well that some Israelis wished the truth hadn’t been made public. It is understood that they were not captured to be killed, but to be bargaining chips for the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners wrongly held by Israel. One possible culpability loophole for us everyday folks: if you are one of the millions who know nothing about Palestinians except the October 7 massacre, realize this: our mainstream media has for years been working to keep you in the dark (see this, this, and this, for example). Zionism So. Why did they do it? Do Hamas militants have a deep, inbred hatred of Jews? The one thing most Palestinians know for sure about Jews is that they come in two types: those who embrace Zionism and those who don’t. The people who took over the Palestinian homeland in 1948 and sent 700,000 Palestinians to refugee camps – those were Zionists. The people who, ever since, have dropped bombs, withheld human rights, and stripped Palestinians of their humanity – those are Zionists. Palestinians hate Zionism. Not Judaism. Not Jews (in fact, in the decades before Israel was born, the majority of Jews were against the very idea of a Jewish state; many were anti-Zionist). Palestinians are highly intelligent, highly educated – and their education did not include being “taught to hate Jews.” They didn’t need to be taught to hate their occupier – each boy and girl from Gaza to the West Bank, from East Jerusalem to Israel, figured out all by themselves that the ones shooting their family members and withholding blankets and baby food are despicable. Nor is the distinction between “Jew” and “Zionist” too hard for Palestinians to comprehend. (For some Israel apologists, including but not limited to Jonathan Greenblatt, the distinction between Jew and Zionist is lost. Wait…does that mean Palestinians are smarter than Zionists?) October Seventh The whole world is aware of Hamas’ October 7th attack – its brutality is already legendary. People who should know better are publicly calling them “animals” and “barbarians.” “These are not human beings! They killed babies, raped women.” Look, several thousand militants entered Israel that day. If they were all animals, killing babies and raping women, there would have been a lot more victims (I have yet to see actual evidence of a rapes of Israeli women that day – if you have, please share it with me). Governments lie during wars, and this appears to be one of those times (that said, there is documentation of Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian women (and men, and children) that stretch from Israel’s founding to the present). Members of Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza absolutely have a cruel streak. Would anyone expect them not to? Israel and its self-proclaimed “most moral army in the world” reinforce their cruel streak with one of the most powerful militaries in the world and (apparently) complete exemption from international law. Key questions Palestinians really have two choices: resist and be labeled “terrorist/subhuman,” or sit quietly and let Israel starve and shoot and humiliate them. There are no good options. (Most can not afford to emigrate, nor do they want to leave their homeland.) Here are the questions we must grapple with. Do Palestinians have the right to be free of Israeli occupation? Do they have the right to self-determination? Do they have the right to a dignified life? These are yes/no questions. They are unrelated to Hamas. Do Palestinians have these rights? If you are grieved by the loss of Israeli life – in spite of Israel’s many sins – but Palestinian casualties still do not move you, what you are feeling is probably not righteous anger, but prejudice. Cleanse your palette of judgmentalism toward two million people for the faults of a few, for being born Palestinian, for desiring a better life. Understand that legitimate grievances, left to fester, will beget hostility and violence. Discern the difference between recognizing these grievances and approving the violence. Acknowledge that America has been complicit in the carnage we’ve witnessed in the past weeks. As long as we cheer for Israel – or stay silent about the slaughter of Palestinians – we are part of the problem. Palestinians are people, and that’s the bottom line. Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. This is reposted from Patheos – Grace Colored Glasses – Kathy’s blog on Patheos, an online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality. She also occasionally blogs at Palestine Home. RELATED READING: Gaza-Israel: Latest news and statistics (ongoing updates) Sec’y Blinken (indirectly) calls Israel’s treatment of Gazans “barbaric” It’s not just Gaza – Israel is also killing scores in the West Bank Palestinian-American child killed in Illinois: this is what media reports left out In Gaza, she now inhabits a solitary space between life and death VIDEOS: WATCH: What was happening in Gaza BEFORE the Hamas attack that the media didn’t tell you Congress gives 29 standing ovations for president of foreign nation that harms the US Joe Biden: Career Defender of Israel’s Crimes and Impunity Hover over each bar for exact numbers. Source: IsraelPalestineTimeline.org https://israelpalestinenews.org/how-to-make-sense-of-the-palestinian-call-for-freedom-and-justice-gaza/
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    Essential facts about the Hamas-Gaza-Israel war
    The current situation in Gaza and Israel did not come out of the blue. Read critical background left out of breaking news alerts...
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