Video: Israeli sniper attacks civilians, IDF ordered to “kill anything that moves”

Just saw the bodies of children in the morgue of the main hospital which is so full that they are piling up on the floor. Doesn’t get worse.       

-Peter Stefanovic, London-based journalist, reporting from Gaza

LR Editor’s Note: Having personally spent a lot of time doing live fire exercises in the Marine Corps, the “snap” “snap” you hear in the video is the unmistakable sound of rifle rounds being fired into the group, which includes international aid workers, from some distance away (perhaps 200+ meters). The UN now estimates that 75% of Gaza’s dead are civilians. The only explanation for such a high civilian-to-militant ratio by a high-tech modern army is that the IDF has been given “kill anything that moves” orders.

From THE GUARDIAN UK: According to Alex Fishman, a military analyst writing in Yedioth Ahronoth: “The tanks, which serve as the heart of the assault force, received an order to open fire at anything that moved. The area and the targets are due to be seized by the morning hours. From here on, [the army] will start to clear the ground, in what could last for several days, depending on political developments.”

From an Israeli courtroom transcript of a 2005 IDF audio-recording used at the trial of an officer accused of emptying his rifle into a Palestinian child: This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over.”

The above video, documenting a war crime, was uploaded to YouTube by the International Solidarity Movement, which described the incident in a 20 July press release:

The Israeli military just shot a Gazan man trying to reach his family, during an announced ceasefire. He was with a group of municipality workers and international human rights defenders who were attempting to retrieve injured people in the Shujaiya neighborhood.

“We all just watched a man murdered in front of us. He was trying to reach his family in Shujaiya, he had not heard from them and was worried about them. They shot him, and then continued to fire as he was on the ground. We had no choice but to retreat. We couldn’t reach him due to the artillery fire and then he stopped moving.” Stated Joe Catron, US International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist in Gaza. “Shajiya is a smoking wasteland. We just passed two bombed out ambulances.”

The Israel military has also shelled Red Crescent ambulances as they attempted to retrieve injured people in the Shujaiya neighbourhood, east of Gaza City. A ceasefire was announced, during which injured and dead people, could be evacuated from the area, in which at least 60 people have been killed today.

“They said we would be able to evacuate the injured from the disaster zone, but they have been shelling ambulances,” stated Dr Khalil Abu Foul of the Palestinian Red Crescent, speaking from Shujaiya.

Now, the international volunteers, including some from the US, the UK, and Sweden, are in a rescue centre on the outskirts of Shujaiya.

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Life in Gaza Explained

Some necessary context to the current crisis in Gaza:

1) In a U.S. diplomatic cable in 2008 revealed by Wikileaks, U.S. officials confirmed that Israel maintains a policy of economic strangulation over Gaza just enough “to avoid a humanitarian crisis.” One cable states:

“As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (U.S. embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”

and…

Israel wanted the coastal territory’s economy “functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis”, according to the Nov. 3, 2008 cable.

Read more in Israel’s major daily newspaper Haaretz: WikiLeaks: Israel aimed to keep Gaza economy on brink of collapse

2) Hamas was created, promoted, and funded by the Israeli government as a “divide and conquer” tool in order to counteract Arafat’s Fatah party and the secular nationalist PLO in the 1980’s (ironically, when the US was funding the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets). Read about it in an investigative 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas:

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with “Yassins,” primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric.

and…

When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and ’80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.

3) Do you wonder why you’ve never heard the above two points presented in any kind of media analysis on let’s say FOX, CNN, or nightly cable news? Americans that receive news exclusively through mainstream sources (Washington Post, NY Times, FOX, CNN, NBC, CBS, etc…) should understand that there is some degree of real debate over Gaza and the Israel-Palestine conflict going on even within Israel itself, as well as Jewish media. Israeli policy is almost never subject to critical debate within American major media establishments.

Israel receives its overwhelming firepower and military hardware from the United States government and U.S. taxpayers. There is a huge Israeli lobbying effort in the U.S. which spends millions on influencing politicians, influential analysts, and media personalities. The purpose is to prevent any kind of real public criticism of Israeli action to ensure that the money continues to flow.

Again, it is ironic that one can actually get more divergent views on the Israel-Palestine conflict while reading Jewish and Israeli sources. Consider for example this analysis-driven piece in the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper: How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza.

It confirms what I wrote on July 1:

This current round of Gaza bombardment by Israel has little to do with the three Israeli teens kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, but was planned in advance for political reasons by the Netanyahu government. The murdered teens served as the pretext for an attack on Gaza, in the way that Hezbollah border incidents have been the pretext for Israeli bombing of all of Lebanon. But in this case Israel’s proclaimed target, Hamas, likely had nothing to do with the murdered teens.

 

 

ISIS group loudly claims responsibility for murdered Israeli teens, yet Israel bombs Gaza anyway

Bb33IKECEAENvN9ISIS propaganda graphic on social media declaring that the ultimate goal includes taking the fight to Jerusalem and returning it to the caliphate. (source: Syria Comment)

This current round of Gaza bombardment by Israel has little to do with the three Israeli teens kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, but was planned in advance for political reasons by the Netanyahu government. The murdered teens served as the pretext for an attack on Gaza, in the way that Hezbollah border incidents have been the pretext for Israeli bombing of all of Lebanon. But in this case Israel’s proclaimed target, Hamas, likely had nothing to do with the murdered teens.

A June 13 Haaretz article seems to have escaped media consciousness:

Al-Qaida linked organization takes responsibility for alleged kidnapping

An extremist Salafi organization known as Dawlat al-Islam has distributed pamphlets in Hebron claiming responsibility for the feared kidnapping of the three Israeli teens.

Israel security services are investigating the validity of the claim.

A self-described Al-Qaida offshoot, Dawlat al-Islam is linked to ISIS, the Sunni militant organization behind this week’s Iraq insurgency.

Last November, Israeli commandos killed three members of a Salafi terror cell in the South Hebron Hills village of Kfar Yatta. The three were planning an attack on Israel, and pistols and explosive devices were found at the site of the operation.

For a more detailed account, see the AP report: ISIS linked organization takes responsibility for alleged kidnapping of three teenagers including one American in Israel.

To my knowledge, there’s been no official Israeli statement on the Dawlat al-Islam claims, or an official conclusion to an investigation (if there was a serious investigation at all). Gaza, a de facto open air prison, once again becomes the scapegoat for Israeli vengeance and for Netanyahu’s main political selling point of “being tough on terror.”

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is an Oxford scholar and expert on the Middle East who has been closely documenting Palestinian units within ISIS. On Monday of this week, he posted to Syria Comment the following conclusion regarding the kidnapped Israeli teens:

It should be noted that undoubtedly with influence from Gaza, this pro-ISIS trend is catching on somewhat in the West Bank, which recently saw three teenagers kidnapped near Hebron by a group taking its name after ISIS, though the Israeli government is officially blaming Hamas as part of a propaganda line whereby there is a reluctance to acknowledge there is a more radical trend than Hamas emerging within the Palestinian population.

I would add to Tamimi’s analysis the fact that Israel has been an active part in the NATO-Gulf axis of supply/support lines to the Syrian rebels. Without such support, ISIS would never be in the position that it is now. It would not have the capacity and influence to extend its reach into the West Bank.

If it is confirmed that the ISIS unit Dawlat al-Islam kidnapped and murdered the Israeli teens, the Israeli government has a direct share in the blame. Remember that it even served as Air Force to Al-Qaeda in Syria on multiple occasions: first, when it bombed multiple Syrian government sites last May, and within the last two weeks when it attacked at least nine Syrian government sites in an event that went under reported.

Expect, as a result of this pre-planned fabricated war on Gaza, the deaths of more innocents, especially women and children, who have no way of fleeing the densely populated, Israeli blockaded Gaza Strip.

 

Israel’s Knesset considers bill to identify Palestinian Christians as ‘non-Arab’

One of the oldest churches in the world (over 1600 years), St. Porphyrius Orthodox church in Gaza.
St. Porphyrios Orthodox church in Gaza, 5th century

The delusional virtual reality that many in the West already live in will now possibly be given legal justification by the Israeli government. Israel’s Knesset is now considering a bill that would identify all Palestinian Christians with Israeli citizenship as non-Arab. It is unclear then how their culture, ethnicity, or language will be defined, but what is clear is that Israel intends to simply declare a fiction through mere legal fiat. Israel knows what it’s doing, but this will only serve to confirm the deep ignorance of pro-Israel Americans and Westerners in general when it comes to demographic realities among Palestinians. See this from the original Al-Akhbar report:

The bill was proposed by Yariv Levin, coalition chairman for the governing conservative Likud-Yisrael Beitenu faction, in January.“My legislation will award separate representation and a separate frame of reference to the Christian public, distinguishing them from Muslim Arabs,” Levin had said at the time. “This is an important, historic step that could introduce balance to the State of Israel, and connect us [Jews] with the Christians,” he added. “I make sure not to refer to them as Arabs, because they are not Arabs.”

It is easier for Israel to sell its policies to the Western public if it can maintain a simplistic black-and-white narrative of an Israeli Jewish fight against a sea of Arab Muslims. This ultimately serves to underscore the narrative of Palestinian Arab=Muslim. Nevermind the large sectors within Palestinian society that lack affiliation with Islam: secularists, communists, Arab nationalist, Druze, or Christians. And nevermind the inconvenient fact that the oldest identity when it comes to the Palestinian Arab demographic is represented in the Christian segment of the population. For a little review see here:

There are over 14 million Christians living in the Middle East (most are Orthodox, followed by Catholics). These Christian communities, in their ancient origins, predate the existence of Islam. Arabic as a spoken language was used by Christians six centuries prior to the writing of the Koran, and Church history testifies to the presence of at least one Arab bishop at the Council of Nicaea.

In Texas, and throughout the American South in general, where the most dedicated devotees of Zionism are Evangelical Christians, I receive blank stares anytime I say the words ‘Palestinian Christians’ or ‘Arab Christians.’ After a little attempt to process, the initial response, if I get one at all, is “but when did they convert from Islam?”

When most American Christians read the Bible and see names of ancient cities like Antioch, Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, Nazareth etc… identified with the earliest foundational Christian communities, this is for them a sort of distant, mythic reference to a mysterious and obscure moment in time when “Bible figures” happened to briefly stroll these ancient Eastern streets prior to these regions being engulfed in Islam. If American Protestants feel the need for a “Christian antiquity fix” they take roadtrips down to places like Holy Land Experience in Florida, or they name their Baptist churches “Antioch Baptist” or “Antioch Community Church” etc… Even the idea that a “sea of Islam” definitively and with finality took over the whole Middle East in the 7th and 8th centuries is a myth – many urban centers, especially in the Levant remained entirely Christian throughout the middle ages and into the modern period.

Many of the Middle Eastern cities named in the Book of Acts still have skylines dominated by crosses and Byzantine style church domes. Walk in to Holy Cross Orthodox Church in the Qassaa neighborhood of Damascus, for example, on a Sunday morning or Wednesday evening and you’ll find it packed with Syrian Christian college students and young adults. When did their families become Christian?…the answer you’d receive is this: when Paul and other Apostles preached there in the first century.

One can even visit large urban churches in Gaza – like the one pictured above. I’ve heard multiple accounts from American Protestant families just returning from a trip to the Holy Land that go like this: “The holy sites just weren’t spiritual enough! They were cluttered with all this ‘catholicy’ stuff like icons and candles!” This is of course a reference to the Orthodox churches and shrines that dominate Jerusalem’s Old City and its environs. Israeli Parliament, believe it or not, even sits on land owned by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

This Israeli attempt to erase, at least within its borders, Arab Christian identity is really a PR campaign aimed primarily at a West that is already deeply ignorant. A result of this ignorance, especially in the United States, is that the West consistently approves of or looks the other way when it comes to controversial Israeli expansionist policies.

The Knesset resolution is one proposed solution to the ongoing debate among Israeli policymakers over what to do with the influential Christian Palestinian resistance movement, centered in places like Beit Sahour – the Orthodox Christian village (West Bank) which pioneered a nonviolent resistance movement during the First and Second Intifadas. The attempt of the Christians of Beit Sahour to gain some international attention to their plight under harsh Israeli occupation met with some success during both Intifiadas.

Beit Sahour, a Christian village in the West Bank, just east of Bethlehem
Beit Sahour, a Christian village in the West Bank, just east of Bethlehem

In 1989 (during the First Intifada), diplomats from Britain, France, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden attempted to gain access to Beit Sahour during a complete Israeli siege and blockade of the Christian town. These diplomats were prevented from entering as the Israeli Defense Forces did house to house searches and seizures. During the Second Intifada, multiple Christian youths were killed and wounded as the IDF again attempted to bring the town into compliance.

Christian Palestinians are overwhelmingly against the modern state of Israel and its expansionist policies. Israeli bulldozers level Christian villages just as they do Muslim villages. Christians also certainly suffer from occasional random acts of violence from West Bank and Gaza Islamic fundamentalist groups, but the consistent message of Palestinian Christians is that they are ultimately victims of multiple decades of Israeli persecution and land grabs. As Al-Akhbar reports:

Levin’s opinion in regards to the non-Arab status of Palestinian Christians was strongly condemned by Palestinians and Christian organizations that Al-Akhbar was able to contact in regards to the topic. “First of all, Palestinian Christians and Muslims are the same,” Mustafa Barghouti, founder and Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Al-Akhbar. Barghouti noted that some of the most prominent champions of Arab nationalism and the Palestinian liberation movement were Christians, such as George Habash and Edward Said. “We are all proud of people like Edward Said who was at the forefront in the fight against occupation, colonialism, and occupation,” Barghouti said. “This is an act of arrogance and a violation of basic rights. Israel is conducting the usual colonial practice of divide and rule,” he said… “What Israel is doing is the worst form of racism and orientalism. They have no right to speak on behalf of Christian Palestinians, and Christian Palestinians will no doubt respond to this,” Barghouti added.

The problems of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are complex – the attempts being made to simplify it into false black-and-white categories will only make things more difficult for all, especially for those people that have inhabited the land for the longest unbroken succession over the last 2,000 years: the Palestinian Christians – who alone can speak for their identity and culture.