U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed May 19, 2021 11:59 pm

Israeli Human Rights Group B’Tselem Blasts Two-Tiered Apartheid Israel, Says Violence Is “Inevitable”
by Amy Goodman
Democracy Now
MAY 17, 2021

GUESTS
Hagai El-Ad: executive director of the human rights group B’Tselem.

As the Palestinian death toll in Gaza nears 200, the leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is accusing Israel of committing war crimes by killing blockaded civilians and destroying infrastructure on a massive scale. We are joined in Jerusalem by Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, which is the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. His new piece in The Washington Post is titled “Israel has chosen a two-tiered society. Violence is the inevitable result.” Earlier this year, B’Tselem released a landmark report denouncing Israel as an “apartheid regime.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

As the Palestinian death toll in Gaza nears 200, the leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is accusing Israel of committing war crimes by killing blockaded civilians and destroying infrastructure on a massive scale.

We go now to Jerusalem, where we’re joined by Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the human rights group B’Tselem, his new piece in The Washington Post headlined “Israel has chosen a two-tiered society. Violence is the inevitable result.” Earlier this year, B’Tselem released a landmark report denouncing Israel as a, quote, “apartheid regime.”

Hagai, we welcome you to Democracy Now! Can you respond to what’s taking place now in Israel and the Occupied Territories?

HAGAI EL-AD: Thank you for having me on the show. And allow me first, after watching and listening to some of the interviews and your reporting from Gaza, to express my sense of humility to be talking about the situation after listening to people that are on the ground in the Gaza Strip in these circumstances, especially listening to the courage and eloquence of Palestinian colleagues reporting and continuing to work in the Gaza Strip these days, and to wish them not only safety for them and their families, but also freedom and justice. It’s very important for me to share that.

We are witnessing — it’s becoming difficult to count the number of military assaults by Israel on the Gaza Strip, so 2008, 2009, and then 2012, and then 2014, and now 2021. We’re at the beginning of week two of this assault. And I think we should all be reminded that back in 2014, seven years ago, the military operation lasted some seven weeks, with more than 2,000 fatalities in Gaza, more than 500 of them children. So, this is already horrific, but we should also bear in mind that it has gotten much worse in the past, and God forbidden that this will be allowed to continue in the way that it has been allowed to continue in the past.

AMY GOODMAN: So, where is Israeli society on this, the Israeli Jewish community, at this point?

HAGAI EL-AD: Israeli society, first, is receiving on domestic media a very different view than what people are experiencing in Gaza and what people are seeing around the world. Israeli media, not because of military censorship, but because of self-censorship, is reporting on Hamas rockets attacking Israeli civilians inside Israel, as indeed they should report on that, but they are barely reporting about the situation in Gaza. So, from the perspective — and this also is not new. This has been that one-sided reporting domestically by Israeli media, almost all of it, certainly Israeli TV, also in the previous Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip. It’s a story of Israel under attack. And it’s almost never a story about the situation in the Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about why you’re saying Israel is guilty of war crimes right now.

HAGAI EL-AD: We’re saying that because that is the way it is. And I feel almost embarrassed to try and quote the relevant aspects of international law that are meant to protect civilians at times of war. To talk about distinction and proportionality, the two key principles of international law, they seem to crumble in the face of Israeli strategies of the way the Israeli army is using military force in the Gaza Strip again and again and again and again and again. This is not new. We’ve seen this before, with horrific consequences. We’ve seen war crimes in previous military assaults on Gaza. And, in fact, the impunity of the previous times in which war crimes were committed is what has paved the way for the continuation of more such crimes being committed.

So, for instance, if one thinks for a second about attacks on wiping out residential towers, apartment buildings, in apartment towers in the Gaza Strip, where, in a second, dozens of families lose their homes, how can that be a military target? How is that consistent with the principle of distinction? And the Israeli army then explains that there’s been — there’s a Hamas office in that building. Well, if that is the case — and not always, if ever, they provide convincing evidence that that is indeed the case, but let’s assume for a second that it is — how is that attack proportional, right?

And the numbers add up — numbers in terms of fatalities, some 200 already, many of them children; numbers in terms of injuries; numbers in terms of destruction; numbers in terms of people that have to flee from one part of the Gaza Strip to another part of the Gaza Strip — we’re talking about tens of thousands of people. But what we’ve seen in previous assaults is that sometimes people that have fled from one part of the Strip to another have been killed by an Israeli strike at the place that they fled to, because nowhere in the Gaza Strip is really safe from Israeli shelling, right? So, like, that is the context of what we’re seeing, what has unfolded in the past, and what is continuing to unfold in front of our eyes.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Prime Minister Netanyahu. After speaking to President Biden on Saturday, he vowed Israel would continue to strike Gaza as long as necessary.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] We will continue to act with full force. We are hitting the terrorist organization with crushing blows. Whoever lit the fire will receive fire. … But unlike Hamas, which deliberately intends to harm civilians while hiding behind civilians, we are doing everything but everything to avoid, or limit as much as possible, harming civilians and to directly strike terrorists instead. … [in English] Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks, and we will continue to respond forcefully.

AMY GOODMAN: That is the indicted, now on trial for corruption, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Hagai El-Ad, your response?

HAGAI EL-AD: It’s outrageous propaganda, as was used, again, in the past, to try and whitewash war crimes against a defenseless civilian population in the blockaded Gaza Strip. And again, it’s painful to speak from this experience, but we can already project the way the Israeli army and legal system will in the future, if they have to, try and explain away what has happened.

Think about some of the most horrific incidents of the current assault on Gaza, the bombing of a number of homes in Rimal, with more than 40 fatalities, and they’re still digging in the rubble, and perhaps that horrific number will continue to rise. What the Israeli army eventually is going to say, if they will have to, is that this has been a legal assault because they thought it was a military target, and they didn’t know some of the aspects of the expected collateral damage. So they would say it followed both distinction and proportionality, because they didn’t know.

And you have to ask yourself: Is that acceptable? And I want to answer: That’s not acceptable, because we’ve seen that dozens of times before. So, on the one hand, they like to talk about, you know, surgical strikes based on meticulous intelligence gathering with the utmost effort to protect civilians. And then they would say, “Regretfully, we didn’t know. We didn’t know that families were sheltering in the building. We didn’t know that the building will collapse. We didn’t know that there was a coffee shop next door. We didn’t know. We didn’t know. Regretfully, as a result of that, while it was legal, an entire family was wiped out, or three families were wiped out, and 10 children are dead, as a result of that.” And it’s unacceptable that they will just continue, like on copy-paste format, making these statements that are trying to explain away these war crimes.

This is not unprecedented. This could have been, should have been anticipated. You use the same military strategy that you’ve used before, dropping these kind of bombs in the heart of populated neighborhoods, then these are the outcomes, and these outcomes should have been anticipated. And because of that, these excuses by Israel are simply unacceptable.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is the role you see of the United States now at the U.N. Security Council, the latest yesterday, stopping any resolutions from passing demanding a ceasefire?

HAGAI EL-AD: The U.S. has been underwriting Israel’s ability to not only go on with its treatment of Palestinians everywhere between the river and the sea, and now also specifically in the Gaza Strip, but also shielding Israel from any form of meaningful consequences. If the U.S. wanted to stop this, then this would have already stopped. And any additional moments or day or, God forbid, week that this continues, it is continuing because there is a green light from Washington to allow Israel to go on. It’s a political decision by the U.S. administration to allow this to continue, in exactly the same way that it has been such a decision in the previous times that Israel assaulted the Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a difference between President Trump and President Biden when it comes to Israel?

HAGAI EL-AD: I see a difference in the rhetoric. President Trump was very blunt in his open support for perpetual Israeli control and domination of the entire territory between the river and the sea without giving Palestinians political rights — namely, apartheid. The Trump administration closed much of the gap between the stated policy, that paid lip service to two-state solution and so on, and the genuine policy that the U.S. is backing. There was a lot of sincerity in that morally bankrupt policy. But it was sincere in that sense.

The Biden administration is talking a very different talk. They’re talking very broadly about aligning U.S. foreign policy with human rights globally. And they’re talking a different talk also with regard to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. But did that talk — and we’re already months into the Biden administration. There’s been ample time to wake up to reality. Did the Biden administration stop the demolition of the Palestinian community of Hamsa in the northern Jordan Valley? No. Are they stopping the cleansing of the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah from its Palestinian families? No. Are they stopping the Israeli assault on Gaza? No. So, the rhetoric has somewhat changed. But judging on what Israel is doing, what Jerusalem is seeing is a continuation of the green light from Washington to continue oppressing and killing Palestinians with impunity.

AMY GOODMAN: There’s clearly a rift in the Democratic Party, where you have progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting an apartheid state is not a democracy, which brings us to the report that your organization, the leading Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, put out in January denouncing Israel’s control of Palestinian territories as a single apartheid regime that violently perpetuates the supremacy of Israelis over Palestinians. Can you talk more about your findings?

HAGAI EL-AD: B’Tselem was founded back in 1989. We’ve been analyzing human rights violations in the Occupied Territories since then, for more than three decades by now. And throughout this period, we’ve only looked at human rights violations in the Occupied Territories, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in the Gaza Strip.

We came to the conclusion that to continue to analyze the situation separately, as if there are two distinct regimes — a democracy inside the Green Line and a temporary occupation attached to it but somehow separate from it in the Occupied Territories on the other side of the Green Line — that that worldview of democracy plus occupation has become untethered from reality. And it’s incumbent on us to be factual and to wake up to reality.

If one desires to continue to hold on to that big lie, then you need to ignore a lot of things. You need to ignore the passage of time, that Israeli control over the entire territory has been going on for more than 50 years. You need to ignore the fact that there are more than 600,000 Israeli Jewish settlers living on the other side of the Green Line in the occupied West Bank, as if they’re living inside Israel proper. You need to ignore the fact that part of the occupied territory has been formally annexed — I’m talking about East Jerusalem — with the rest of it being de facto annexed. You need to set aside a lot of facts in order to continue to hold on to that bankrupt worldview.

But the key thing is that to hold on to that, you need to ignore the key aspect, which is there is one organizing principle that is applied by the Israeli regime between the river and the sea, and that principle is the supremacy and domination of one group of people — Jews — over another group of people — Palestinians — with all this happening in a situation of demographic parity. There are 14 million people that live between the river and the sea. About half of them are Jews. About half of them are Palestinians. But the system, the regime is structured so that that demographic parity will not translate into parity in political power or in access to the resources of this land or to protection or rights.

Now, one of the most important aspects of this reality has been Israel’s ability to fragment this space for Palestinians, while keeping it intact for Jews. Right? So, if you’re a Jewish individual, like myself, no matter where you live between the river and the sea, whether it’s inside Israel proper or in the Occupied Territories, the state will — within one of the more than 200 illegal settlements that Israel has reestablished in the last half-century-plus, then the state will do everything in its power to provide you with the same set of rights, privileges and protections. Right? So, that’s the treatment for Jewish Israelis. But, for Palestinians, it makes a very big difference if you live as a second-class citizen inside the Green Line or as a permanent resident in occupied and illegally annexed East Jerusalem or in the rest of the West Bank as a Palestinian subject or one of the 2 million Palestinians that are living in that large open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip. So, there are different categories of Palestinians, from Israel’s perspective, and in each and every one of those, there is a different subset of rights, always less rights, always a degree of oppression. But nowhere between the river and the sea, there is a single square inch in which a Jewish person and a Palestinian are equal. It is always structured in this way that’s domination and supremacy for the Jewish half of the population.

And it’s incumbent on us to connect the dots. So let me try and do that. Look at Israel’s bombings of Gaza. Do these strike you as proportional? Look at Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Does it strike you as temporary? Look at Israel’s drive to cleanse East Jerusalem neighborhoods from Palestinians. Does that strike you as legal? Look at Israel’s oppression of Palestinian citizens as second-class. Does that strike you as equal treatment under the law? It’s not proportional. It’s not temporary. It’s not legal. It’s not equal. And it’s not complicated. Believe your eyes. Follow your conscience. The reason that it looks like apartheid is simply because it is apartheid.

AMY GOODMAN: Hagai El-Ad, what is the response within the Israeli Jewish population to your critique, now calling what’s happening in Gaza war crimes, and to your apartheid report from January?

HAGAI EL-AD: Yeah, the response is definitely not — not welcoming or popular in any shape or form, which also is not new. But fighting for human rights is not a popularity contest. And I am encouraged by the way in which, first internationally, the understanding of the situation here as apartheid is becoming more and more mainstreamed. This is the result of efforts by Palestinian colleagues. Palestinian scholars and NGOs and activists have been making this point already for many years, right? And then, much more recently, the B’Tselem report in January and the Human Rights Watch very broad legal determination that Israeli officials are guilty of the crimes of apartheid and persecution, in April. And I think, thanks to that, and thanks to reality being what it is, it’s becoming less and less possible to obscure it and to hide it and to continue to lie about it. We’re hearing key figures in U.S. politics and media saying the truth out loud. And with that, I think it will also eventually resonate back here. And Jewish Israelis will need to come to terms with the fact that the world is waking up to what is going on.

And that’s really the the central aspect, because what is happening now in Gaza, it has to stop. This kind of bombings, it just has to stop. That’s the most essential aspect to save human lives. But that’s not sufficient. The people responsible need to be held accountable, because, otherwise, it’s just going to be allowed to continue the same way that this has been allowed to continue, which has brought us to this assault on the Gaza Strip. But also, it’s essential that we do not go back to the status quo. The status quo is a false term. It’s never static. And the status quo is not justice. The status quo is apartheid. So, yes, the bloodshed that is happening now has to stop. But the bloodshed is related to the underlying reality, to the overarching reality, to the condition of apartheid that has to end.

AMY GOODMAN: Is this also serving Netanyahu’s interests himself? He could not form a coalition government. He’s on trial for corruption. This increases his popularity within Israeli Jewish society?

HAGAI EL-AD: So, I don’t want to speculate about Netanyahu’s thoughts on the connection between these aspects. But I think it’s really important to point out that this is not just about Netanyahu. Netanyahu did not begin the occupation. Netanyahu, you know, has been a very effective caretaker of this situation over the last decade-plus that he has been prime minister. But, you know, settlements began under Labor. The legislation that allows the cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah from Palestinians, that’s not Netanyahu’s legislation. That’s legislation from 1950 and 1970, when, again, Labor, centrist, left-leaning, if you will, Israeli governments were in place. This is not about Netanyahu. This is Israeli policy by governments left, right and center, that have been following this direction already for many decades. And we need to realize that.

And also, when looking at the current political image, the snapshot of reality in parliament these days, then it might be obscured by the fact that, yes, Netanyahu is facing difficulties forming a new government, but we shouldn’t miss the key fact. There is a solid, right-wing majority in the Israeli parliament, well above half of the parliamentarians, totally right-wing, that are absolutely supportive of endless Israeli control over the entire territory without giving Palestinians rights. A very broad support for the continuation of apartheid did not begin with Netanyahu, and it’s not likely to end with the departure of Netanyahu, if and when that happens, in the absence of international action.

As long as the international community allows this situation to go on with impunity, it means that the international community — well, first, that is morally bankrupt, because that is accepting racist policies against Palestinians. It continues to dehumanize Palestinians. That is totally unacceptable. But at the same time, it is also telling Jewish Israelis, the ones that have political power between the river and the sea, that the world is fine with endless subjugation, oppression and apartheid against Palestinians. And that is what has to change. People need to demand from their governments to stop this kind of complicity, to stop supporting the continuation of this reality.

AMY GOODMAN: We talked about Netanyahu. In a video message addressed to Palestinians, Defense Minister Benny Gantz blamed Hamas for the violence and threatened that, quote, “Gaza will burn.” This is what he said.

BENNY GANTZ: [translated] Hamas leaders bear responsibility for you being hunkered down in your homes instead of preparing for the holiday. Unfortunately, they operate out of civilian areas, and therefore the damage will be extensive and intense. They are sacrificing you for their personal interests. If citizens of Israel have to sleep in shelters, then Gaza will burn. There is no other equation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Benny Gantz. And then there’s the IDF spokesperson that B’Tselem quotes, Hidai Zilberman, who’s admitted Israel’s actions in Gaza are “as far from pinpoint accuracy as you can get. They’re making Gaza City shake.” What do you think would be the most effective response of the international community right now?

HAGAI EL-AD: First, I just want to remind us that Mr. Gantz, now defense minister, was chief of staff during 2014, during the previous assault on Gaza. And not only that, but later, when he became a politician, then one of the ways that he tried to market himself to gain votes in, you know, elections was by celebrating destruction of Palestinian neighborhoods in Gaza, and with an ad with a counter of the number of dead Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. So, that’s the chief of staff of 2014, who’s now defense minister. And I think it’s very telling, with regard to the dehumanization of Palestinians in Gaza, the statements that are saying that everyone in Gaza is Hamas, that this is somehow — even though the bombs are dropped by Israel, that it’s all Hamas’s fault. Everything that Israel does would be legitimate, because none of it is Israel’s responsibility in any shape or form. These are the kind of statements that are repeated again and again.

And I think that also the comment by the the IDF spokesperson is very telling, because for international consumption, he made that comment in Hebrew. But for international consumption, Israel will typically insist on the opposite, that everything is surgical and careful and so cautious, and all of the other aspects of Israeli propaganda. That’s for international consumption. For domestic consumption, the government wants to demonstrate to the public that it is hitting Gazans as hard as possible. So, exactly the kind of — the opposite kind of statement. But we need to see through the propaganda, whether it’s marketed domestically or internationally.

And seeing through the propaganda is pretty easy. Just look at the images from the Gaza Strip. How can you argue with these images, with the destruction, with the killings, and with the impunity? And that’s what the international community needs to do, with or without the U.S. I mean, U.S., domestically, I think the pressure on the Biden administration needs to be stepped up so that they actually do what they can do, what they should do, to stop the killings — and again, not to stop there, because going back to the false sense of status quo is simply unacceptable. We need U.S. foreign policy that will not only stop what is happening now in the Gaza Strip, but we need U.S. foreign policy that will stop underwriting Israeli apartheid against Palestinians. But the U.S. is not the only stakeholder. There are others. And everyone has a responsibility, and everyone has the ability, to use leverage to save human life. It’s a political choice not to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: Hagai El-Ad, we want to thank you for being with us, executive director of the human rights group B’Tselem. We will link to your piece in The Washington Post headlined “Israel has chosen a two-tiered society. Violence is the inevitable result.” This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:00 am

Gaza Journalist: Israel Is Deliberately Targeting the Media by Bombing AP & Al Jazeera Offices
by Amy Goodman
Democracy Now
MAY 17, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/17/ ... a_building

GUESTS
Youmna al-Sayed: Gaza-based reporter who works with the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, among other outlets.

We speak with Palestinian reporter Youmna al-Sayed, who was among the journalists who had to flee for their lives when Israel bombed and leveled a 12-story Gaza building that housed the offices of media organizations including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Israel has claimed, without evidence, that the building was being used by Hamas operatives, but al-Sayed says it’s part of a pattern of Israeli attacks on media. “This is no coincidence,” she says.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman.

On Saturday, Israel leveled a 12-story building housing the offices of Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other media outlets. Israel justified the bombing claiming Hamas uses the building, but offered no proof. Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said he has not seen any Israeli evidence of Hamas operating in the building. While Israel gave advance notice of the attack, the head of Al Jazeera called the attack a “blatant violation of human rights” and “war crime.” Associated Press is demanding an independent investigation. They said they know of no evidence of Hamas operating in the building.

Youmna al-Sayed is a reporter for the Associated Press in the Gaza Strip. She’s been covering Israel’s attack on Gaza over the past week.

You work with Al Jazeera, as well. Talk about what happened to the building. Talk about where you work.

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: Hi. Yes, I’m Youmna al-Sayed. I’m a reporter at the Associated Press, and I broadcast for Al Jazeera from Associated Press.

While we were at the building, on a normal day of work, like reporting aggression that is happening on the Gaza Strip, we suddenly got a call by the owner of the building saying that he was called by the Israeli army and he’s been asked to tell the residents of the building to immediately evacuate. In an hour, the building shall be targeted. So, this was an emergency situation for us. Everybody was — honestly, everyone was, like, frightened of what is going on and what is going to happen. Usually when we get such calls of other buildings that we have seen, there is — in 15 minutes, there is a targeting by a warning missile that is close to the building or in an empty apartment in the building. And that is what we were afraid of. In exactly 15 minutes, the first missile, warning missile, has been targeted next to the building. It was really traumatizing for all of us, running around on the stairs.

The building is out of 12 stories. And the first five floors were offices that host doctor’s offices and lawyer’s offices, a thalassemia lab. And the other six floors are residential apartments, and the last floor is the floor that hosts the Associated Press and, opposite to it, the Al Jazeera office. So, basically, this building is one of the most famous buildings in the Strip. All the residents know each other. The doctor’s offices are known. The lawyer’s offices there are known. No stranger comes in or out of that building.

And that’s why — I mean, the side of the story that says that there is Hamas intelligence that was in that building and that’s why they targeted the building has to do nothing with the reality of targeting the third building that hosts media offices in the Gaza Strip, after just a couple of days, al-Sharouk tower and al-Johara tower. The largest three buildings that host all the media offices in the Gaza Strip were completely destructed and brought to the ground. This was just the third one, but it had international media offices. And it was one of the safest places ever.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you all have moved in with Agence France-Presse, who has offered their offices for you to try to safely operate?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: We are operating from different places now, al-Shifa complex. Like, we weren’t able to take a lot of what we had in the office. I mean, very few cameras, one or two, very few of our equipment, we were able to save. Some of us were just on the stairs trying help civilians with their children to evacuate the building. It was really frightening. And it was really — we were really in a hurry, especially after the targeting of the reconnaissance warning missile that just targeted next to us. Another one was targeted like 15 minutes later. So, like in half an hour, we had two missiles, warning missiles. That itself, in like already in 30 minutes, almost all the building was evacuated, because we were very much frightened that it could be targeted or destructed in less than an hour. We asked the Israeli army spokesman for just 30 minutes. We asked him for 30 minutes when he called again. And we said we just need 30 minutes to get a little bit of our equipment from the offices. The residents needed to get some little necessities or essentials from their apartments. But he totally refused. And right after that, the targeting began, and the tower was all brought to the ground. So now we are just shattered here and there, trying to work from different locations with very little resources and little equipment that we have.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe more also what happened this morning just as you were driving in Gaza, the targeted attack on a car in front of you?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: Yes. I was going to Shifa complex, where I broadcast for Al Jazeera. And just 10 meters away, like 10 meters away, a car got targeted in front of us. And, like, honestly, if my driver hadn’t lowered the speed just like 30 seconds, because his phone rang so he had to lower the speed, just 30 seconds away, we would have been in that targeting, as well. We would have died in that targeting, as well.

So, like you would be going out to work, I leave my family. I say goodbye to them, and I go to work. And I know that I might actually get targeted or killed at any instant. That itself is something that is really, really traumatizing and heavy to carry around. I mean, I had to go on air after that, but I wasn’t even able to express what I have been through. I mean, this action might end any day, but the trauma that it has caused to each one of us is going to stay for so long with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Youmna, you have four children?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you tell them?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: I have four children. The youngest is two years and a half, and the oldest is 10 years.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you tell them?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: I tell them to forgive me. I tell them to forgive me if anything happens to me and I have to leave them, because this is my duty, and I have to — I have to deliver this message to the world. I know that there is nothing that forces me to go out and report in such times, but I have to do this, because if I don’t do it in these hard times, if I don’t deliver the message now, then when am I going to do that? The destruction around us is massive.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think the message is that was delivered to the media by this attack on the main media offices, Al Jazeera and AP, where you work, other media organizations, now Tony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, saying he was not told of any direct evidence of Hamas working in this building?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: Yes, and I’m sure that there isn’t going to be any. I mean, the Israeli army, when it has the proof for anything to back its story, it provides it, one, at once, instantly. I mean, it wants to back its stories. It has to. OK? But it’s not a coincidence that three towers hosting media offices would be completely destructed. This is no coincidence. I mean, this is just a deliberate targeting to the media voice in the Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Youmna al-Sayed, I want to turn to video of you last week, when you were live on the air when Israel leveled another high-rise building in Gaza.

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: I’m sending a message to the world: Please, before you judge us, before you say that we are terrorists, I want you to make sure that you see the reality and the truth from all sides. Do not just take the Western media and go with it. Do not believe the Israeli messages and the Israeli side of the story without seeing our side. [aerial strike] As you can see now, the building has been brought down. It has been fully destructed. This is a tower. This is al-Sharouk tower, a 14-story building that has been brought to the ground, totally destructed by air raids. By the way, just for you to know, this tower is in a very densely populated.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Youmna al-Sayed reporting last week for Al Jazeera in the Gaza Strip. Now the building she worked out of, Associated Press and Al Jazeera, has also been bombed by the Israeli military. For our radio listeners, what you can’t see, Youmna is wearing a helmet. When that explosion happened, she ducks down. Can you describe where you were then? Was that the building that has now been destroyed, or is that another building, Youmna?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: Yes, that is the building where we had our offices, the AP and Al Jazeera. And that is where I usually broadcast for Al Jazeera, from the rooftop of that building. That is the building that has been targeted. And the building that was targeted behind me in the video is the Sharouk building, which is a 14-story building that hosts three-quarters of the media offices in the Gaza Strip. It’s the second largest and hosts all the media, like most of the media offices in the Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, this false report that was put out by the Israeli military that there was a ground assault taking place in Gaza, using the media to convey that message — actually, Associated Press did a breakdown of this and would not report it directly, but all the other press and now headlines in The New York Times and Washington Post about the media being tricked — what happened, Youmna?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: So, if you’re talking about — I’m sorry. You’re talking about the video, where I was?

AMY GOODMAN: The media being — the Israeli military putting out that they were doing a ground assault of Gaza, and the Western media reporting that?

YOUMNA AL-SAYED: Yes, yes. I think that that was — if you’re going to ask me as Youmna, while I’m just a reporter, I will tell you that this was a kind of a way for the Israeli army to play with the feelings and emotions of the citizens in the Gaza Strip, just to add more pressure on them. I mean, everyone was extremely traumatized when they heard that there is going to be a ground operation taking place, with — alongside with the air operation, which is already taking place and causing great crisis here in the Gaza Strip. And then, suddenly, there’s nothing, and they start saying that, “No, it’s not true. We are not going to carry on a land operation.” So, I think it was an attempt to actually — it was an attempt to actually try to bring down or traumatize the people of the Strip even more.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Youmna al-Sayed, I want to thank you for being with us, journalist in the Gaza Strip with the Associated Press and Al Jazeera, worked in the building that housed AP and Al Jazeera that was bombed by the Israeli military. Youmna has four children.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:01 am

“Terror from the Skies”: UNRWA Condemns Israeli Bombing of Gaza Refugee Camp, Killing Family of 10
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
MAY 17, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/17/ ... ombardment

GUESTS
Matthias Schmale: director of UNRWA operations in Gaza.
LINKS
Matthias Schmale on Twitter

Matthias Schmale, director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, says civilians in the besieged territory are facing “terror from the skies” amid Israel’s bombardment, which has already killed nearly 200 people. “The price the civilian population is paying for this is unacceptable. This has to stop. This is terror on a civilian population.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman. You can sign up for our daily news digest email by texting “democracynow” — one word, no space — to 66866. We’ll send you our news headlines and stories every day, as well as news alerts.

At least 10 Palestinians from the same extended family died Saturday when Israel bombed the Gaza refugee camp al-Shati. Eight of the victims were children. One 5-month-old baby named Omar was pulled from the rubble alive. His mother and four of his siblings were killed. This is Omar’s father, Mohammad Al-Hadidi.

MOHAMMAD AL-HADIDI: [translated] They targeted the house they were in. There were no rockets there, just women and children; no rockets, just peaceful children celebrating Eid. What have they done to deserve this? A rocket hit their house, over their heads, without warning or communication. Three whole floors fell over them, and we had to recover their body parts. … I call on the international community, those who support human rights and children’s rights and democracy, those who penalize anyone who harms a child, to look to our children here who are being bombed with strikes that drop entire floors onto people who we have to recover their body parts.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now in Gaza by Matthias Schmale, the director of operations for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

Can you talk about what happened, not only there, but what’s happening to children, to the Palestinians in Gaza?

MATTHIAS SCHMALE: Good afternoon, Amy. And thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk to you.

Look, the way I describe this is we’ve had seven days of war. This is war. We are not close to war. We are in a military confrontation. This is war. And I think, as you just heard from Refaat, the citizens of Gaza are experiencing this in a terrified manner. It’s terror from the skies, what’s going on here. And you mentioned the house that was leveled in Beach camp, our refugee camp. Six of those children were children that went to UNRWA schools. So it hits home very directly. Some of my staff knew the family. And these six children are among 18 children that we now have confirmed that went to UNRWA schools. So, what I am trying to get to with all of this is the price the civilian population is paying for this is unacceptable. This has to stop. This is terror on a civilian population.

We also have to then think about the people who have fled their homes out of fear. A few nights ago, there was heavy fighting in the north. There were rumors of a tank — of a ground invasion by the Israelis, and thousands of people left their homes in fear, not necessarily because they were destroyed, as I understand it — I will come back to that — but in fear of what will fall from the sky next. And we now have, today, three days later or so, 41,000 and more people in 50 of our schools. Unfortunately — well, fortunately, the population, remembering also 2014, sees the blue of the United Nations and buildings that have a blue U.N. flag on it as still a relatively safe place, safer than their own home. So, that is what is happening. As UNRWA, we are trying our best to stand up our teams that will manage these centers properly and provide the necessary assistance. There are some immediate needs, like protection, including protection from COVID — of course, COVID is far from over — as well as safe water, the basic needs you need to have covered if you are in a shelter away from home.

Then you’ve also talked about people who have actually lost their home. The last I heard is that at least 600 families are not able to go back. So, many of the people who are at the moment in our shelters could go back if there is a ceasefire, but there is a group of at least 600 families and households that couldn’t because either their house is totally destroyed or it’s too damaged to go back. And, you know, allow me to make a point there. The Israelis claim — and correctly on this point — that they often warn. They don’t always, like the Beach camp hit was without warning, as far as I know. But they have warned, on other high-rise buildings, civilians to get out. So, in those terms, they protect their lives. But they have lost their homes. They are now without a home. And it’s completely senseless and mind-boggling.

So, that is the situation on the ground. I cannot as eloquently, of course, as Refaat describe the impact on the civilian population. He is directly affected. I can only say to you I hear a lot about traumas. One of my colleagues texted me, very movingly, saying, as a family, they now sleep on the same mattress in the central part of their home, just because they want to die together, if that happens.

AMY GOODMAN: Matthias, you talked about people responding to a rumor that Israel is invading, but this was not just a rumor. Israel, the military, directly put that out. The headlines of The New York Times, “A Press Corps Deceived, and the Gaza Invasion That Wasn’t”; The Washington Post, “Israel told the media it had ground forces in Gaza. Then it changed the story”; AP, “Israeli military accused of using media to trick Hamas.” You’re talking about the human toll of that trick. Can you explain further the significance of them putting this out and tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing?

MATTHIAS SCHMALE: Yeah, I mean, I can only say, if they indeed — “they” being the military on the Israeli side — put this out deliberately without really having the intention, that is just atrocious, you know, and unacceptable, because, as you have said, it led to then thousands of people fleeing. And by the way, we only know about the 41,000 that are seeking refuge, a safe place to be, in our schools. There are many thousands more that went to family and relatives. So, there’s another disaster in the making here, because a lot of poor families are having to host people, you know, being themselves squeezed. So we’re looking into how we can assist them. It’s reckless, this. It’s shameless and reckless how the military is operating in terms of the civilian population.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you give us some specific stories of children killed? I ask that because when the Israeli military was asked about this yesterday, they said, “Consider the source of the information you’re getting about the number of Palestinian children who are dead.” They said, “It is the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas.” So, they said, consider the source. So, Matthias Schmale, you are with the United Nations. Talk about the number of Palestinians, Palestinian children, who have died.

MATTHIAS SCHMALE: So, Amy, if I may say two things on this. We have our independent source. We run 278 schools, which are populated by 285,000 children. We have very precise information about this school population, the 285,000 children. This is independent information from the Ministry of Health and the authorities here, when I tell you my health teams have reported to me that they know at least 18 of the more than 50 children killed were UNRWA schoolchildren. So there is no doubt in my mind this is correct, independently verified information. And I would not be surprised if, sadly, that number of 18 were to rise quite significantly. So that’s one bit.

The other bit is, I was told, very movingly, by one of our so-called area education officers about a 13-year-old child, one of the 18, by the name of Hamza. His mother is severely disabled, and his father has died. Hamza is the person who looks after the family. And he was out shopping to get the basic needs covered for the family. And on his way back, he happened to be in the wrong place when a missile hit. So, a young child leaves the home to bring food for his family and returns dead. These are not made-up stories. This is not Hamas stories or anyone spinning a story. This is a real-life story. The human cost of this is unbearable and unacceptable.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re only talking about the Israeli assault on Gaza, but we are talking about the pandemic. Israel has been hailed as being the gold standard of ensuring its population is vaccinated, has not been the case for what has happened in the Occupied Territories, which they are responsible for. During the pandemic, UNRWA has been working to ensure access to PPE and water. Can you talk about clean water? Can you talk now about this report we shared at the beginning, the number of doctors who have been killed in the Israeli airstrikes, including Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf — maybe you know him — who headed the coronavirus response at Shifa Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza; another prominent doctor from Shifa, the neurologist Mooein Ahmad al-Aloul, also killed in an airstrike; and what this means for Gaza?

MATTHIAS SCHMALE: Yeah, I did not know those two individuals you named personally. I know of them. And again, you know, all the information I have had about them — I’ve been here now three-and-a-half years, so I think I have a pretty good sense of who is linked to the authorities and in reality a militant, and who is not, who is just simply doing their job. And to the best of my knowledge, these two doctors who were killed were professionals trying to provide healthcare and address immediate and urgent health needs of the population here. So, indeed, one of the issues, when there is a war, is to protect health institutions and healthcare workers, including doctors. And the toll in those terms is also rising.

You mentioned, I think, at the beginning the MSF clinic that was destroyed. I also know from my colleagues in the Palestinian Red Crescent that their central ambulance unit was severely affected. One of our 22 primary healthcare centers, in fact, was not targeted but had some damage as a result of a strike that was too close. So, when we are still fighting the COVID-19 crisis — we were just seeing the beginning of the end of the second wave — we should also remember that we — just before corona started a year-plus ago, we were coming out of two years of Great Marches of Return, which had a devastating human impact. There were more than 35,000 people injured at the fence, as they call it here, more than 200 killed, again including 13 women or schoolchildren, due to disproportionate reaction from the Israeli side. And I’m mentioning this because the health system was already struggling and basically on its knees. We were very worried that COVID would be the cause of the health system falling apart. It barely coped. And now this on top of it. So, this war, if it continues any longer, has the risk of having a very decimating, devastating impact on healthcare on its people, in terms of the doctors and nurses, and on the healthcare infrastructure.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Matthias Schmale, you grew up in South Africa. I’m wondering your thoughts on the comparison of occupied Palestine to apartheid. Our next group, B’Tselem, uses that term. Human Rights Watch uses that term. Of course, many Palestinians talk about that. Do you think that is a fair comparison?

MATTHIAS SCHMALE: Speaking here as an individual who grew up in apartheid South Africa, I have to tell you, what I’m experiencing here reminds me a lot of what I saw in my childhood. The issue is people being treated — an entire people being treated differently from the rest of us. And whether that fits some academic definition of apartheid or not, it is wrong. And these are an occupied people, and this should stop. You know, not just the war has to stop. There has to be the beginning of a meaningful process — as we did see in South Africa, that ended the system there — that has as its aim a just solution for what happened 70 or so years ago during what the Palestinians call the Nakba, and that provides the opportunity for everyone — and that, of course, includes Israelis — to live a dignified and peaceful existence next to each other or together.

AMY GOODMAN: Matthias Schmale, we want to thank you for being with us, director of UNRWA operations in Gaza. That’s the U.N. agency that works with Palestinians.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:03 am

Israel Is Trying to Destroy Us: Gaza Father & Writer Speaks Out as Palestinian Death Toll Nears 200
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
MAY 17, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/17/ ... rikes_gaza

GUESTS
Refaat Alareer: Palestinian academic and activist.
LINKS
Refaat Alareer on Twitter
"My Child Asks, 'Can Israel Destroy Our Building if the Power Is Out?'"

Israel’s assault on Gaza has entered its second week, as Israel killed at least 42 Palestinians in Gaza Sunday in the deadliest day so far when it bombarded the besieged area with airstrikes, artillery fire and gunboat shelling. Israel has killed nearly 200 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women, and destroyed over 500 homes in Gaza, leaving 40,000 Palestinians homeless. Israel also leveled a 12-story building housing the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. “This is a total destruction from the Israeli occupation against the native Palestinians in Gaza,” says Palestinian academic and activist Refaat Alareer, who lives in Gaza. “This is not new. This is a continuation of Israeli aggression against Palestinians that started in 1948, the Nakba.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: A warning to our viewers: Today’s show contains graphic images of violence and death.

Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza has entered its second week. On Sunday, Israel killed at least 42 Palestinians in Gaza in the deadliest day so far as Israel bombarded the besieged area with airstrikes, artillery fire and gunboat shelling. Over the past week, Israel has killed nearly 200 Palestinians, including 58 children and 34 women. Israel has also destroyed over 500 homes in Gaza, leaving 40,000 Palestinians homeless in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israeli security forces and Jewish settlers killed at least 11 Palestinians in the West Bank Friday in the deadliest day there since 2002. This comes as Hamas is continuing to fire rockets into Israel, where the death toll has reached 11, including two children. One Israeli airstrike on a Gaza refugee camp killed 10 members of the same extended family, including eight children.

Israel has also leveled a 12-story building housing the offices of the Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday. Israel justified the attack by claiming Hamas is using the building, but offered no proof. Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said he has not seen any Israeli evidence of Hamas operating in that building. The head of Al Jazeera called the attack “a blatant violation of human rights” and a “war crime.”

Israeli strikes also damaged at least three hospitals in Gaza, as well as a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders. A number of doctors have also been killed in the Israeli airstrikes, including Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf. He headed the coronavirus response at Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital. He and two of his teenage children died in an Israel airstrike on their home. Another prominent doctor from the Shifa Hospital, the neurologist Mooein Ahmad al-Aloul was also killed in an airstrike on his home. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the Israeli airstrikes have erased entire residential neighborhoods and left earthquake-like destruction.

On the diplomatic front, President Biden is facing growing criticism for refusing to call on Israel to halt its assault on Gaza. At the United Nations, the United States blocked the Security Council for the third time in a week from issuing a statement calling for a ceasefire following a virtual U.N. Security Council meeting on Sunday.

Meanwhile, massive protests against the Israeli assault took place across the globe over the weekend, including Chicago, New York, Washington, London, Paris, Madrid, Doha and Baghdad.

We begin today’s show in Gaza, where we’re joined by Refaat Alareer, Palestinian academic and activist who’s the editor of the book Gaza Writes Back and the co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced. Also with us is Matthias Schmale, director of operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Refaat Alareer, can you describe the situation on the ground right now in Gaza?

REFAAT ALAREER: Thank you, Amy. Thank you for having me. Thank you, Democracy Now!

You’ve just mentioned that this is an earthquake-level kind of destruction, reminiscent of the tsunami that happened in Japan almost a decade ago, and gives us sparks of the Blitz in the ’40s. Now, what Israel is doing is total devastation and destruction to Palestinian homes, Palestinian infrastructure, the roads, the access to water, sewage. Today, Israel started a new chapter by targeting Palestinian economy. So many businesses, so many factories have been destroyed and damaged. In addition to that, you mentioned the Israeli attacks on clinics also, especially those providing COVID-19 services and vaccinations, when Gaza is plagued by COVID-19. Israel is also damaging and targeting Palestinian schools. So this is a total destruction from the Israeli occupation against the native Palestinians in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe what the past hours, the days have been like for your family, Refaat? And we are speaking to you on the phone versus through video, Skype. You’re having a lot of trouble with electricity.

REFAAT ALAREER: Exactly, exactly. Israel is preventing the fuel to get to the sole power plant in Gaza and also targeting facilities, which means that we will have less electricity. We have very slow internet connection now, because there’s at once a total blackout.

The most important thing that could summarize this is that every single night here in Gaza, we say, “This is the worst night of our lives.” And every night, Israel proves us wrong, because it comes with more monstrosity. It comes with more bombardment, more missiles raining on Palestinian heads. Last night was a horrific night. And again, Israel also chooses the timing when kids are asleep or about to sleep or have just slept, and starts the bombardment campaign in order to maximize the damage, maximize the trauma and maximize the terror. You mentioned two nights ago, Israel leveled a whole neighborhood, destroying blocks of people, of homes. People, whole families were massacred. Alkolak family had almost 20 family members massacred by Israeli warplanes as they slept, as they huddled in the safety of their home.

AMY GOODMAN: You wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times, “My Child Asks, 'Can Israel Destroy Our Building if the Power Is Out?'” Talk more about — you have six children?

REFAAT ALAREER: Yeah, I do, yeah. The thing is that, again, what makes this far worse than anything is that this is not new. This is a continuation of Israeli aggression against Palestinians that started in 1948, the Nakba you just mentioned. Israel is particularly trying to destroy our young generation, especially the children. Out of the 200 people Israel massacred in six days, 60 are children, almost 40 are women, about 20 are invalid people. So this is an open war against the vulnerable, the sick. The kids are suffering the most.

A friend of mine told me the other day that the worst-case scenario for us is to survive this brutal war by Israel, because the trauma, especially with the kids, is not going to be an easy thing to deal with. It’s not going to be something that can fix by just Israel ending this aggression. There has to be a radical solution to end the aggression and the brutal Israeli racist apartheid regime.

AMY GOODMAN: You write that your daughter, who is 8 years old — or, in Gazan time, two wars old — asked sheepishly if, quote, “they could still destroy our building now that the power was out?” Can you talk more about how your children — you’re keeping your children safe, what it means to go outside, Refaat?

REFAAT ALAREER: We never go outside. I just went outside with my son to run some errands, and it’s very dangerous. We took our COVID masks off, because we didn’t want to be targeted for people trying to hide. I asked my son, I told him, “Omar, do you want to walk together or far away from each other?” He looked at me and said, “What difference does it make?” because he knows when Israel throws these bombs, it destroys.

So the kids cannot go out. They are always huddled. And we try to keep them in the safest place in the home, but there is no safety, when Israel throws bombs that are five — together, five or six or seven tons on the same building. The kids are horrified. They wake up shrieking. They wake up crying. And they’re shaking. Even when the door slams, the kids would fidget and think that this is some kind of Israeli bomb nearby. The trauma is unprecedented. It will never go away. I hope it will go away. But with the kids, we try to keep them close to us. We tell them stories.

Something new I saw from my two little daughters Linah and Amal is that they started building houses. Usually they play dolls. The past two nights, they used their dolls and cubes to build high-rises, high-rising buildings and homes. And this is really heartbreaking, because it seems that they are aware that Israel is destroying homes, and these very children are trying to build even with toys.

And finally, when it comes to this, I want to emphasize a point. Israel has tried to destroy the Palestinian children, Palestinian youth, for decades and decades, in the First Intifada, 10 years ago, 30 years ago, 60 years ago. But every time, the next generation grows fiercer and more determined to be free, more determined to be part of the global struggle for freedom, because Israel is a racist, colonial regime that is bombing, besieging and destroying a native people who have very little means to resist.

AMY GOODMAN: On Saturday, President Biden spoke with both the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the White House, in his conversation with Netanyahu, Biden, quote, “reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” unquote. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff Sunday urged the Biden administration to push harder for a ceasefire. In an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation, Schiff was asked if he believed Israeli attacks on Palestine were disproportionate in comparison to attacks from Hamas against Israel. This was his response.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Every rocket that Hamas sends into Israel is a deliberate effort to kill civilians, and I think we need to understand that. These rockets are indiscriminate and, by definition, designed to kill civilians. Israel has a right to defend itself, but has to use every effort to avoid civilian casualties. Now, I think they are trying, but nonetheless the death toll increases, and the violence has got to stop. And I think we need to do everything possible to bring about a ceasefire. I think the administration needs to push harder on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to stop the violence, bring about a ceasefire, end these hostilities and get back to a process of trying to resolve this long-standing conflict.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Adam Schiff. And, of course, we’ve heard what Biden said and also his conversation with Netanyahu on the phone. But then you have progressive Democrats, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is saying, “Apartheid states are not democracies.” Refaat Alareer, what do you say to President Biden?

REFAAT ALAREER: I think it was Biden that gave Netanyahu the green light to start it. When they tweeted that America supports Israel’s right to defend itself two days after the aggression started, I quickly said that this is going to be a long war against civilians, because Israel is killing us using American weapons, using American technology, using American planes. America has — the American administration — all American administrations have blood, Palestinian blood, on their hands. The massacre that is going on is on Biden.

And it’s very shame to see people like Adam Schiff and those people who were fierce rivals to Trump and his barbarity say things like Israel has the right to defend itself. There is no moral equivalence here. Israel is an occupying power, the aggressor, and Palestinians are the oppressed, native people defending themselves with what little means they have. But sadly, it seems that both the Democrats and the Republicans unite fiercely to enable Israel, to empower Israel, because both countries were born in genocide and continue to ethnically cleanse natives and oppress them.

As for AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and other amazing Black Caucus and the wonderful solidarity in America with Jewish Voice for Peace, Indigenous peoples and Black Lives Matter activists, this shows how Israel’s lies and fabrications are no longer dominant. People stopped fearing Israel. They now can see that Israel is brutal, that Israel is apartheid. And this amazing and meaningful solidarity with the Palestinian struggle is something that means a lot to us. We learn from these people, and we are part of this global struggle. And we hope this is going to increase more and more to create real pressure to stop America from arming Israel, empowering Israel to kill Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: Refaat Alareer, please stay safe, Palestinian academic and activist — we hear your children in the background — editor of the book Gaza Writes Back and co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced. We’ll link to your op-ed piece in The New York Times headlined “My Child Asks, 'Can Israel Destroy Our Building if the Power Is Out?'”

We will soon be speaking with the head of B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights group. But next up, we stay in Gaza City and talk to the director of operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA. Stay with us.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:04 am

Palestinian Journalist: Israeli Media Incites Mob Violence, Ignoring Settler Attacks
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
MAY 18, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/18/ ... ncites_mob

GUESTS
Rami Younis: Palestinian journalist and activist based in Haifa.

In Part 2 of our interview with Palestinian journalist and activist Rami Younis, he describes how Israeli media has contributed to mob violence in recent weeks. Younis was invited to speak with the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation about the situation in his hometown of Lyd, which was under a state of emergency, and sparred with the anchor, Dov Gil-Har, telling him, “I won’t be your pet Arab to punch around.” This comes after an Israeli mob in the city of Bat Yam was shown on live TV attacking a driver who they suspected of being Palestinian. “We know that Israeli media, whenever there is another massacre in Gaza, whenever something is happening in Jerusalem, we know they start reciting the official party line of the Israeli government,” says Younis. “But what is happening now is more than dangerous.” Younis also discusses the historic general strike Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we bring you Part 2 of our conversation with the Palestinian journalist and activist Rami Younis. As the Israeli bombing of Gaza enters its ninth day, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel are staging an historic general strike.

For more, we are going to Haifa in Israel to speak with Rami Younis. Last week, Rami was invited to speak with the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, or Kan, on the situation in his hometown of Lyd, which was under and is under a state of emergency. During the interview, he sparred with Israeli television anchor Dov Gil-Har, telling him, quote, “I won’t be your pet Arab to punch around.” This is a part of their exchange.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] You’re telling me that I need to accept these rioters with love? That I should embrace them?

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] No, no, no. I had a few conditions for doing this interview, and I would appreciate it if you would raise your standards a little bit, from an anchor who speaks the way you do, to respecting my requests as your guest on the show.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] I understand that you want to replace the host. The Public Broadcasting —

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] I asked that you refrain from showing a split screen. Dov Gil-Har, I asked before coming here — and I have a way to prove it — not to show on the split screen the same images that you have been running for the past 24 hours. I sent you a lot of materials of Jewish rioters attacking homes, people, women and children, of officers in the police’s special unit joining them in these attacks in Ramle and Lyd. And you’re not showing that. … I’m trying to tell the full story. I’m trying to give the context you haven’t been giving for three days in Israeli medias, including at the Public Broadcasting Corporation. And I don’t expect you to do this, but at least give me my 10-minute slot.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] No, it won’t be 10 minutes. Sorry.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] Give me three minutes to provide a background on everything that’s happening now. You’re not interested in learning. You’re not interested in having the Jewish audience understand what’s been happening.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Do you have any criticism toward the Arab residents? Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you think it’s all justified. Fifteen years ago, we oppressed them, and it’s all surfacing now. And then you’ll say it’s understandable, that we must accept it.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] What you’re doing now is the same as when they bring an Arab to speak on Israeli media. And they’ve been doing this for years. They bring an Arab after what you call a “nationalistic” event and ask him to condemn, condemn, condemn. No! You condemn the killing of Musa Hassouna by a settler —

UNIDENTIFIED: [off screen] [translated] Why? He’s a rioter.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] — a man who was shot by live fire, and the talk right now is that he might have been shot by a sniper. …

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Burning a school, burning cars —

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] Do your job as a journalist.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Thanks for teaching me.

RAMI YOUNIS: [translated] I won’t be your pet Arab to punch around.

DOV GIL-HAR: [translated] Thanks for the class in journalism.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s our guest, Rami Younis, on Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, or Kan, trying to talk about the situation in his hometown of Lyd, which at the time was under a state of emergency. Rami, if you can talk further about how the situation is presented on Israeli television?

RAMI YOUNIS: Yeah, Lyd is still under a situation of emergency. And it’s just I’ve never seen Israeli media act and perform so poorly. And they have evolved from trying to silence people like me, Palestinian journalists, into silencing Israeli journalists who try to expose the truth about what’s happening in Lyd. And this is — in a way, this is unprecedented. We know that Israeli media, whenever there’s another massacre in Gaza, whenever something is happening in Jerusalem, we know that they start reciting the official party line of the Israeli government. But what’s happening right now is more than dangerous.

During that live broadcast, that you showed a very short clip from my interview with Dov Gil-Har — but there’s more to that story, actually. You know, Amy, we counted that guy, Dov Gil-Har, incite against Palestinians, inciting to kill, to shoot and kill Palestinians who are demonstrating in Lyd, eight times. He did that eight times. And this is not — this is not a rare event, unfortunately, these days on Israeli TV.

Even an Israeli journalist, Yisrael Frey, who’s a Hasidic Jew, went on Israeli TV, another channel on Israeli TV, but it was still a mainstream channel, a big one, the biggest one, actually, N12, and when he tried to expose the truth about what’s happening in Lyd, when he started talking about buses of settlers, you know, busing in people from Yitzhar and Nokdim — and these guys are pros in setting olive groves on fire and burning Palestinian houses. These people are moving to Lyd. These people are allowed to break curfew. There’s a curfew right now in Lyd, and the only people allowed to break that curfew are these groups of Israeli settlers. They are escorted by Israeli police. They are allowed to roam free at night.

Why? Why? Why isn’t anyone asking that question on Israeli media? And if you do find someone who is interested in doing their job and ask these questions, they’re immediately silenced. So, if you want to learn more about how structural violence is maintained and nurtured in Israel, just go to the media. Just go to their media and see what happens there.

And one more thing that’s very important, why — I mean, they could claim that they are diverse, that they’re progressive, and that they are interested in having Palestinian or Arab guests. Well, that’s a lie. You know, I mean, Fox News bring liberals and progressives all the time to their network. That doesn’t make them actually progressive. The sole purpose in bringing in an Arab for their shows is to try and punch them, basically, to show to the Israeli audience that, “See? We’re with you. We represent you. We are here publicly 'lynching'” — you know, quote-unquote — “'lynching' the token Arab in front of you. And we will not allow them to say what they want to say. But instead, we will say what you guys are thinking in your heads.” And unless the situation changes, it’s going to become even worse.

Just to give you one more tiny example on how Israeli media operates these days, you know, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the new MK from the Religious Zionism Party, who’s a known Kahanist, a Jewish supremacist, who lives in Hebron, this guy, not only he comes to Lyd every time, and not only during the mess in Jerusalem, in Sheikh Jarrah, when people were taking to the street there during the popular uprising — moved his offices to Shaikh Jarrah neighborhood. You know that Itamar Ben-Gvir was invited — got 509 minutes of broadcast on Israeli TV in the last two weeks, Amy. In the last two weeks. You know how many minutes I got? Five. Itamar Ben-Gvir, again, got more than 500 minutes on Israeli TV, while other Arabs get — if they do get any minutes, they get only just a few minutes, and they’re not allowed to speak.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Rami, I wanted to ask you about the — what we talked about earlier, the general strike that is planned. In terms of this unprecedented situation of Palestinians within Israel, as well as on the West Bank and in Gaza, the entire Palestinian people are coming together in a general strike of this kind. Talk about how unprecedented that is. And do you see this as a pivotal moment in this struggle?

RAMI YOUNIS: Of course, of course. Thank you for asking that question. You know, last December, I was sitting with a friend here in Haifa. And we were very depressed, very much depressed. There was another COVID lockdown, and it was right after the normalization accords. You know, my friend and I basically were mourning. We said, “OK, that’s it. We lost. I mean, the political — the Palestinian cause is done for. Maybe we should just, you know, throw in the towel.”

What’s happening these days, what’s happening right now, what happened last week with Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah and the uprising in all over Palestine, including the decision to strike from the river to the sea, to go on strike from the river to the sea, is not only — it is precedented. It happened in 1936. But it happened in 1936. You know, it happened a very long time ago. So, the fact that this is happening now, the fact that the uprising, it started with young people, people under the age of 20 — I mean, you’d go to these demonstrations, I wouldn’t recognize most of the people there. You know, they were young people, teenagers, a lot of them. So, in a way, what happened right now is another rise of the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian cause is not dead. And the last two weeks, I think, pretty much proved it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in terms of the response throughout the rest of the Middle East, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti was talking about the difference between where the Arab leaders are and where the street or the people are. What’s your sense of the impact of the last few days on the the rest of the Middle East?

RAMI YOUNIS: Yeah, yeah, that’s a difficult one. We expect more. We expect more. We have been seeing masses taking to the street in Lebanon and in Jordan, and that’s fantastic. But, obviously, we don’t expect much from Arab leaders. I mean, they have been disappointing us for decades. And why should they act differently now?

What I have been noticing is a shift in the States. I’m talking to journalists, like all day long. That’s what I do. They keep calling me. I keep doing these interviews. I feel that American media outlets are interested in hearing us out. And this is a first. This is a first. This is a new thing also for us. We’re dealing to deal with it now. What do you do when you go on CNN, and they actually allow you to speak? So, I really feel that, you know, if we’re talking on how what’s happening in Palestine is affecting other places, I’d like to focus on the States, because what’s happening in the United States — and I have many friends in America. I lived in Boston for — I just came back, actually, from Boston a few months ago because of COVID. But what we’re seeing in the States is unprecedented, I think, and this should be capitalized.

I mean, we have to keep talking to Americans, because we have to let Americans know what their taxpayers’ money is going for: not only bomb children in Gaza, not only help Israelis settle in the West Bank and demolish Palestinian houses, but also targeting and persecuting Palestinian citizens of Israel. You know that they actually started, by the way — and I forgot to mention that before — do you know that they actually started marking Palestinian houses in Haifa and in Lyd? You know, Israeli right-wing rioters come during the day. You know, they just — they’re searching for Arab houses in Haifa and in Lyd so that they can mark and come later on that night and attack. People need to hear all of this. People need to know that this is what the American administration is supporting.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about what happened in the Israeli city of Bat Yam, an Israeli mob shown on live TV attacking a driver who they thought was Palestinian. The man was dragged from his car, attacked, left bleeding on the ground, after what the Israeli media described as an attempted lynching. In other parts of Bat Yam, large groups of Israelis were seen vandalizing Arab-owned businesses, and on live TV you saw some of these mobs chanting “Death to Arabs.” I mean, this is reminiscent of Kristallnacht back in World War II, the attacks on Jews during the Holocaust.

RAMI YOUNIS: Well, yeah. And what’s — I mean, just, you know, as another proof to what I said before, that the Israeli establishment and the Israeli legal system and the Israeli police are working hand in hand against the Palestinian population, is what happened yesterday. A hundred and sixteen indictments were brought to Israeli court. All of them were against Palestinian people who took to the street. You know, Amy, how many indictments were brought to court against Israelis? Zero. I mean, let me correct myself. Two indictments were brought to court today against Israelis, but that’s just a drop in the ocean.

Now, regarding that lynch attempt that you were describing in Bat Yam, that was on live TV. That was on live TV. There was a TV reporter there, and the TV reporter interviewed the people who were committing the lynch. One of them did the interview shirtless. He had blood on his hand, and he was screaming at the microphone, “I want to kill Arabs! I want to murder them!” What happened to that guy? Why isn’t he in jail? Why isn’t police doing anything about it? That was on live TV.

AMY GOODMAN: Last question. There is a debate going on, unusual in the U.S. Congress, a Democratic Party divided. You have people like, well, the first Palestinian American congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, taking to the floor of the House, giving an impassioned speech, and this $735 million expedited weapons sale to Israel now being questioned, Congressman Meeks in New York, who has long supported Israel, talking about a delay of those weapons, and clearly putting pressure on Biden — though he did not demand a ceasefire, apparently talked with Benjamin Netanyahu about wanting one. Is the subtleties of this division being conveyed in the Israeli media?

RAMI YOUNIS: No, no, no, not at all. No. What is being conveyed in the Israeli media is that the Americans are greenlighting this. And although Biden is not the biggest fan of Benjamin Netanyahu, right now they are still OK with what’s happening. Maybe in a couple of places that are considered more professional and more — I don’t want to say — I hate using the word, but I’m going to say it anyway — progressive, like Haaretz, yeah, they are saying that. They are saying that. They are pointing out these little subtleties.

But again, that’s not enough. The American administration has to put all of its weight on the Israeli government and to stop this. Amy, almost 70 children died in Gaza. What are they waiting for? Enough.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Rami Younis, for being with us.

RAMI YOUNIS: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian journalist and activist based in Haifa, originally from the city of Lyd. To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks for joining us.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:05 am

Palestinians Stage Historic General Strike from “the River to the Sea” for the First Time Since 1936
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
MAY 18, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/18/ ... cks_israel

GUESTS
Rami Younis: Palestinian journalist and activist based in Haifa.
LINKS
Rami Younis on Twitter

As the Israeli bombing of Gaza enters its ninth day, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel are staging a historic general strike. This comes as violence is also spreading across Israel, with Jewish mobs attacking Palestinians in mixed Jewish and Arab communities. Last week, extremist Israeli settlers were filmed attacking Palestinian-owned shops in a Tel Aviv suburb. Another harrowing video shows ultranationalist Israelis dragging a man they believed to be an Arab from his car and beating him mercilessly. Some settlers were filmed on live television chanting “Death to Arabs,” and screenshots shared by an Israeli disinformation watchdog group show far-right Israeli WhatsApp and Signal groups coordinating attacks on Palestinians. We speak with Palestinian journalist and activist Rami Younis, who says Israeli media’s unwillingness to cover the widespread incitement is a “perfect example of how structural violence is maintained and nurtured in Israel.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

As the Israeli bombing of Gaza continues through its ninth day, Palestinians across the occupied West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel are staging a historic general strike.

For more, we go to Haifa in Israel to speak with Rami Younis, Palestinian journalist and activist who’s originally from the city of Lyd.

If you can talk about the significance of this general strike, Rami, and in talking about you being from Lyd, the mob violence, the attacks on Palestinians that’s taking place right now?

RAMI YOUNIS: Well, the strike, Amy, is a historical event. For the first time since 1936 — that’s 12 years before the Nakba, the catastrophe of the Palestinian people, or the founding of the state of Israel — for the first time ever, we are striking, in all over Palestine, from the river to the sea.

So, what’s happening right now — I mean, everything started a few weeks ago with a popular uprising. You see youth demonstrating everywhere in Palestine — in Jaffa, in Nazareth, in Haifa, in Lyd and in Jerusalem and in Gaza — all for Jerusalem, all for Sheikh Jarrah. These demonstrations were encountered — were countered by a lot of police brutality instantly, and resulting in the clashes, the violent clashes, that then turned into basically Palestinians defending themselves every night against attacks by Israeli settlers and the Israeli police.

Now, let me go into Lyd, in describing what’s happening in Lyd. Lyd, my hometown, also Hebrew — in Hebrew, they call it Lod — was a Palestinian city that was occupied in 1948, right? Nowadays they call it a mixed city. What happened in that mixed city is that 15 years ago, when they evicted those settlers from Gaza, they moved them into Lyd. And these settlers moved into Lyd with a very clear and declared goal of Judaizing the city, meaning these Jewish supremacists who were removed from Gaza went into Lyd — and, mind you, Lyd is only 10 minutes from Tel Aviv, five minutes from the airport; we’re not talking about a city in the West Bank — and started Judaizing the place. They started building their own settlements. They started moving into Palestinian neighborhoods.

And we have been seeing a rise in house demolitions for Palestinian people in the past 15 years. The average of houses being demolished a year is somewhere between 10 to 15 houses. Before the settlers moved into Lyd, only two or three houses a year got demolished. The demolitions come because 80% of the people who live there, their houses were built without a building permit because the authorities won’t issue one, so that they can come later and maybe use it as a political whip to punish the local population.

Now, with all this, with all of this tension, with all of this background, Palestinians, especially young people under the age of 20, took to the street and started demonstrating. When they were countered by the brutal force by the Israeli police, and then the Israeli right-wingers started attacking them and shooting them on the street, this is when all hell broke loose.

Now, Amy, every day I wake up, and I reach out for my phone, and I pray to God that this is not the morning that I’m going to be seeing a horrifying text message, this is not the morning that I will be receiving the catastrophic news. We are worried. We are very, very worried. And what’s even more worrying is that it’s not just people — it’s not just that these settlers are moving from — these settlers are openly attacking Palestinians. It’s that police is allowing settlers from the West Bank, from places like Yitzhar and Nokdim, you know, people who became professional in burning olive groves. These people are moving into Lyd, coming into Lyd on a daily basis. They roam free at night in the city streets, breaking curfew, while the Israeli police not only allowing them to break curfew while the Palestinians are locked in their homes, but escorting them and, more often than not, attack — they actually attack Palestinians with settlers. And we have tons of evidence to show that, to show for.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Rami, could you talk about the role of the Israeli media in propagating and legitimizing hateful and violent or Zionist rhetoric?

RAMI YOUNIS: You know, how — the Israeli media, in the way they behave these days, is a perfect example of how structural violence is maintained and nurtured in Israel. You know, I was in a TV interview last week, when it was still demonstrations, before it was basically Palestinians defending themselves against the mobs and the police. I was in an interview on Israeli TV, and then the anchor said that “Maybe it’s time to reload the gun magazines.” And we actually, throughout the live broadcast, we counted incitement by him eight times. He incited eight times to kill Palestinians on the street.

The other day, two or three days ago, an Israeli journalist, an Israeli journalist, Yisrael Frey, on Israeli TV criticized the police, criticized the mayor of Lyd, and said that “It doesn’t make any sense. Why are you allowing settlers to come into Lyd from the West Bank? Why are these armed people coming into the city and creating all this unrest?” He was immediately silenced by the anchor.

So what we’re seeing right now, not only incitement by the Israeli police, but they’re also trying to silence voices that are coming from Israeli — the Israeli journalism, voices who are criticizing the actions of the Israeli government and the Israeli police. Not only that —

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds,, Rami.

RAMI YOUNIS: — the Israeli police — OK, I’m sorry. I just wanted to say that the Israeli police are not telling the whole truth. If you confront them with the evidence, they’re basically going to call you a liar. And they’re not going to —

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to do Part 2 with you and post it online at democracynow.org and play a clip of that interview you did, Rami Younis. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Stay safe.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:07 am

Israeli Human Rights Group B’Tselem: Israel Is Committing War Crimes by Killing Civilians in Gaza
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
MAY 18, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/18/ ... agai_el_ad

GUESTS
Hagai El-Ad: executive director of the human rights group B’Tselem.
LINKS
Hagai El-Ad on Twitter
"Israel has chosen a two-tiered society. Violence is the inevitable result."
"A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid"

As the Palestinian death toll in Gaza tops 200, the leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is accusing Israel of committing war crimes by killing blockaded civilians and destroying infrastructure on a massive scale. Executive director Hagai El-Ad says Israel has not done enough to distinguish between military and civilian targets or to act with proportionality. “We’ve seen war crimes in previous military assaults on Gaza,” he says. “And, in fact, the impunity of the previous times in which war crimes were committed is what has paved the way for the continuation of more such crimes being committed.” Earlier this year, B’Tselem released a landmark report denouncing Israel as an “apartheid regime.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

As the Palestinian death toll in Gaza tops 213, the leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem is accusing Israel of committing war crimes by killing blockaded civilians and destroying infrastructure on a massive scale.

On Monday, I got a chance to speak with Hagai El-Ad in Jerusalem. He’s the executive director of the human rights group B’Tselem. Earlier this year, B’Tselem released a landmark report denouncing Israel as a, quote, “apartheid regime.” I began by asking Hagai to respond to what’s taking place now in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

HAGAI EL-AD: It’s becoming difficult to count the number of military assaults by Israel on the Gaza Strip, so 2008, 2009, and then 2012, and then 2014, and now 2021. We’re at the beginning of week two of this assault. And I think we should all be reminded that back in 2014, seven years ago, the military operation lasted some seven weeks, with more than 2,000 fatalities in Gaza, more than 500 of them children. So, this is already horrific, but we should also bear in mind that it has gotten much worse in the past, and God forbidden that this will be allowed to continue in the way that it has been allowed to continue in the past.

AMY GOODMAN: So, where is Israeli society on this, the Israeli Jewish community, at this point?

HAGAI EL-AD: Israeli society, first, is receiving on domestic media a very different view than what people are experiencing in Gaza and what people are seeing around the world. Israeli media, not because of military censorship, but because of self-censorship, is reporting on Hamas rockets attacking Israeli civilians inside Israel, as indeed they should report on that, but they are barely reporting about the situation in Gaza. So, from the perspective — and this also is not new. This has been that one-sided reporting domestically by Israeli media, almost all of it, certainly Israeli TV, also in the previous Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip. It’s a story of Israel under attack. And it’s almost never a story about the situation in the Gaza Strip.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about why you’re saying Israel is guilty of war crimes right now.

HAGAI EL-AD: We’re saying that because that is the way it is. And I feel almost embarrassed to try and quote the relevant aspects of international law that are meant to protect civilians at times of war. To talk about distinction and proportionality, the two key principles of international law, they seem to crumble in the face of Israeli strategies of the way the Israeli army is using military force in the Gaza Strip again and again and again and again and again. This is not new. We’ve seen this before, with horrific consequences. We’ve seen war crimes in previous military assaults on Gaza. And, in fact, the impunity of the previous times in which war crimes were committed is what has paved the way for the continuation of more such crimes being committed.

So, for instance, if one thinks for a second about attacks on wiping out residential towers, apartment buildings, in apartment towers in the Gaza Strip, where, in a second, dozens of families lose their homes, how can that be a military target? How is that consistent with the principle of distinction? And the Israeli army then explains that there’s been — there’s a Hamas office in that building. Well, if that is the case — and not always, if ever, they provide convincing evidence that that is indeed the case, but let’s assume for a second that it is — how is that attack proportional, right?

And the numbers add up — numbers in terms of fatalities, some 200 already, many of them children; numbers in terms of injuries; numbers in terms of destruction; numbers in terms of people that have to flee from one part of the Gaza Strip to another part of the Gaza Strip — we’re talking about tens of thousands of people. But what we’ve seen in previous assaults is that sometimes people that have fled from one part of the Strip to another have been killed by an Israeli strike at the place that they fled to, because nowhere in the Gaza Strip is really safe from Israeli shelling, right? So, like, that is the context of what we’re seeing, what has unfolded in the past, and what is continuing to unfold in front of our eyes.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Prime Minister Netanyahu. After speaking to President Biden on Saturday, he vowed Israel would continue to strike Gaza as long as necessary.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] We will continue to act with full force. We are hitting the terrorist organization with crushing blows. Whoever lit the fire will receive fire. … But unlike Hamas, which deliberately intends to harm civilians while hiding behind civilians, we are doing everything but everything to avoid, or limit as much as possible, harming civilians and to directly strike terrorists instead. … [in English] Israel has responded forcefully to these attacks, and we will continue to respond forcefully.

AMY GOODMAN: That is the indicted, now on trial for corruption, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Hagai El-Ad, your response?

HAGAI EL-AD: It’s outrageous propaganda, as was used, again, in the past, to try and whitewash war crimes against a defenseless civilian population in the blockaded Gaza Strip. And again, it’s painful to speak from this experience, but we can already project the way the Israeli army and legal system will in the future, if they have to, try and explain away what has happened.

Think about some of the most horrific incidents of the current assault on Gaza, the bombing of a number of homes in Rimal, with more than 40 fatalities, and they’re still digging in the rubble, and perhaps that horrific number will continue to rise. What the Israeli army eventually is going to say, if they will have to, is that this has been a legal assault because they thought it was a military target, and they didn’t know some of the aspects of the expected collateral damage. So they would say it followed both distinction and proportionality, because they didn’t know.

And you have to ask yourself: Is that acceptable? And I want to answer: That’s not acceptable, because we’ve seen that dozens of times before. So, on the one hand, they like to talk about, you know, surgical strikes based on meticulous intelligence gathering with the utmost effort to protect civilians. And then they would say, “Regretfully, we didn’t know. We didn’t know that families were sheltering in the building. We didn’t know that the building will collapse. We didn’t know that there was a coffee shop next door. We didn’t know. We didn’t know. Regretfully, as a result of that, while it was legal, an entire family was wiped out, or three families were wiped out, and 10 children are dead, as a result of that.” And it’s unacceptable that they will just continue, like on copy-paste format, making these statements that are trying to explain away these war crimes.

This is not unprecedented. This could have been, should have been anticipated. You use the same military strategy that you’ve used before, dropping these kind of bombs in the heart of populated neighborhoods, then these are the outcomes, and these outcomes should have been anticipated. And because of that, these excuses by Israel are simply unacceptable.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Hagai El-Ad in Jerusalem, executive director of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. To see the full interview, go to democracynow.org. We’ll also link to his new piece in The Washington Post headlined “Israel has chosen a two-tiered society. Violence is the inevitable result.” And we’ll link to his report charging Israel with apartheid.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:08 am

“Genocide”: Palestinian Lawmaker Condemns Netanyahu for Bombing Gaza to Stay in Power, Avoid Charges
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
STORYMAY 18, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/18/ ... barghouthi

GUESTS
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti: physician, member of the Palestinian parliament and head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society.
LINKS
Dr. Mustafa Barghouti on Twitter

The ongoing Israeli attack on Gaza, which has now killed at least 213 people, “really is an act of genocide,” says Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian parliament and head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society who has been leading efforts to manage the pandemic in the West Bank and Gaza. He says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces multiple corruption charges, is using the latest violence to save his political future. “This man and his government is using Palestinian blood, and maybe even Israeli blood, to stay in power, to evade the three cases of corruption that he has to face, and he’s doing anything to keep his seat.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the West Bank to another doctor, to Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, physician, member of the Palestinian parliament, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, who has been leading efforts to manage the pandemic in the West Bank and Gaza.

When we last spoke to you, Dr. Barghouti, you had COVID-19. More recently, you were at the Al-Aqsa Mosque when the Israeli forces began their raid. You have said that Palestinian first responders were attacked and beaten as they tried to help the wounded. If you can talk about just what Juan asked Dr. Rasha, as you oversee both Gaza and West Bank when it comes to COVID, but the attacking of the medical facilities, the killings of the doctors, and the significance of all this? Of course, you are a major political figure, as well. Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, says they will not stop the bombing.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Thank you. Thank you for hosting me. And let me say that our hearts are broken, really, with what we see in Gaza, especially the loss of our colleagues in the hospital.

But what is happening really is an act of genocide. It’s not just bombardment. It’s not just barbaric attack on the civilian population. In reality, Netanyahu has failed drastically. He does not have any military success. And I am telling you, he does not have even military targets. This man and the government is using Palestinian blood — and maybe even Israeli blood — to stay in power, to evade the three cases of corruption that he has to face. And he’s doing anything to keep his seat.

But what’s happening in Gaza is totally unacceptable. And by the way, the 213 people killed there, you have to add to them 25 Palestinians who were also killed in the West Bank during the last week. There are 1,400 injuries, serious injuries, in Gaza, but also, in addition to that, there are 3,000 injuries in the West Bank. And while we are talking, the army is still shooting people, here in Ramallah and in Hebron and in Bethlehem. And some of them are at high risk because they were struck with high-velocity bullets.

What happened in Gaza, most important — it’s very important to mention that the Israeli army eliminated 14 families completely. I mean, they killed the grandfather, the grandmother, the father, the mother and all the children. Fourteen families have been eliminated from the civil record. This is so horrible. And out of these 14 families, one child only stayed alive, a 2-month-old child who lost nine of his brothers and sisters, as well as his mother and father. What future is going to be for this child? This is what worries me most.

The other thing I want to mention is that besides bombardment and destruction of people’s homes — and there is no justification whatsoever for destroying [inaudible] high-rise buildings by the Israeli bombs, which are American-made. There is no justification of shooting people’s homes and destroying them completely while people are asleep, knowing that Gaza does not have civil defense equipment, knowing that Gaza, since 2006, is under siege for 15 years, and the equipment that the civil defense has goes back to 1996. So, not only do you bombard people and people are stuck below the rubble, imagine — imagine the feelings of a person who’s hearing the soft voice of a child or a mother or a man under the rubble, and you cannot reach out to him, and he just suffocates to death. This is the worst that can happen.

In other countries, when an earthquake happens, people rush to help. Other countries rush to help. What do we have from other countries today except statements that Israel has the right to defend itself? Defend itself? It is a country that is occupying us. It is the entity that is practicing apartheid against the Palestinian people. You can’t even equate between the two sides. And they are not only doing that, they are favoring Israel, the aggressor.

Let me also tell you something about what’s happening in Gaza. We receive calls all the time from mothers, fathers, and we have our colleagues there who are working on the ground. The worst thing is the psychological stress that is exercised against the children, bombardment after bombardment the whole night. What you see in Gaza against the Palestinian population, but especially against the Palestinian children, is psychological terror. I call it psychological terror that Netanyahu and his government are practicing against the people.

And while we were busy trying to stop the COVID-19 epidemic, which has reached a serious level in Gaza because the ratio of infection is 30%, which means that out of every hundred tests you do, you have 30 cases of COVID-19 That means you have a community spread, a dangerous one. And now we cannot do anything, because tests cannot be done. Vaccines are not available. As you know, Israel practiced what I call vaccination apartheid against the Palestinian people. They got themselves vaccines enough for all Israelis, and they gave nothing to Palestinians. And they watched us getting the disease, actually, both in West Bank and Gaza. Now Gaza has shortage of vaccines and cannot provide the vaccines, even the ones that they have, because of a blocking of healthcare, because of the bombardment. And now they’ve lost the only lab that does tests for COVID-19.

Our teams in Medical Relief, which are present everywhere in Gaza, have now to shift from dealing with COVID-19 to providing care to the injured people who cannot stay in hospitals because of the number of injuries, and they have to be treated at home. So, our teams have to go now and treat the injured. And our other teams have to go now to the UNRWA schools, where there are 45,000 people who have been displaced from their homes and apartments. [inaudible] They need blankets. They need food. They need water. They need everything. So, it’s a combination of problems that we have to face because of this terrible, terrible massacre that Israel is conducting. And there is no justification for that.

The whole thing started because Israel attacked worshipers, peaceful worshipers, who were just praying in the Aqsa Mosque. I was there. I saw them attacking not only the prayer, the worshipers; they even attacked the first providers and beat them. We had 1,000 injuries in Jerusalem because of Israeli army attacks. Six of them have lost their eyes because of the injuries.

And then, on top of that, they want to ethnically cleanse the Sheikh Jarrah area. I want to explain to you, there are 500 people, several families in Sheikh Jarrah who have been living there since the ’50s. And these families were placed in Sheikh Jarrah because they were ethnically cleansed in 1948 by Israel. These people came from Jaffa, from Ramle, from Lod, from West Jerusalem, because the Israeli army forced them out. And now the army comes to their homes and wants to evict them one more time and ethnically cleanse them. To replace them with whom? With illegal settlers who are supported by the Israeli government.

This is the worst system of apartheid. This is not only military occupation. This is a combination of occupation, settler colonial system and a system of the worst kind of apartheid that humanity has ever seen, much worse than the apartheid that prevailed in South Africa at one point of time. And this has to stop. This has to stop.

That’s why I’m very proud to say today — I’m very proud to say that today the Palestinian people, all the Palestinian people, people in ’48 areas, in what they call Israel, people in the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem, people in the diaspora — all Palestinians, for the first time maybe since 1948, are all unified and united in one struggle, one struggle to end this suffering, one struggle to end occupation, one struggle to get rid of this system of apartheid that has lasted longer than anybody should tolerate. And today what you see is a unified strike, unified demonstrations, unified people, who, in my opinion, are going way ahead of their leaders. And their leaders must understand that and understand that it is time for unity and for a joint strategy of struggle for all Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Barghouti, I wanted to ask you about the role of the United States and also of the other Arab states before this renewed crisis here, especially the bombing, the destruction of the high-rise where the Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other news organizations were. Secretary of State Blinken of the United States said yesterday that he has no evidence. He’s seen no evidence that this was being used by Hamas, yet the Israeli government continues to say it was. Yet the administration says nothing about the attacks on the press that have resulted here. I’m wondering your sense of where the Biden administration is right now and what it should be doing, and also the deafening silence from the other Arab states at this time.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Well, first of all, let me say that, of course, anything after Trump looks better, because Trump was the worst ever, not only leader of the United States, the worst-ever president anywhere in the world. That man tried to completely liquidate the Palestinian issue. And he abused also many Arab countries to enter into normalization relationship with the apartheid system in Israel.

But Biden administration is not doing much better. This commitment to the alliance with Israel and this complete bias to Israel is unacceptable. I do not understand when Mr. Blinken and even Mr. Biden keeps talking about Israel’s right to defend itself, and does not mention a word about the right of the Palestinians to resist occupation and resist apartheid and to defend themselves, as well. This asymmetry, this unacceptable behavior, is encouraging Israel.

I don’t understand why the United States three times blocked the possibility of a statement or a resolution by the Security Council to call for ceasefire. Why? Just because Israel wants that.

We do not understand how could the administration dare to sign a new agreement about sending more bombs to Israel, more rockets to Israel, while it is committing this war crime against the Palestinian people, because what’s happening in Gaza is nothing but a war crime, a war crime against humanity. We do not understand why Mr. Biden does not listen to the good people in the Democratic Party, people like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and Cortez and Bernie Sanders, who are saying enough is enough. And why should the United States continue to protect occupation? Why should it continue to protect a system of apartheid? This is totally unacceptable. And this has to change.

It shocked us that Mr. Biden has changed the policy on many issues, has liberated the American administrations from the cages that Trump put them in, regarding World Health Organization or the issue of environment or the issue of Mexico or relationship to European countries, but when it came to Palestine, they remained in the cage. And they even praised the normalization agreements, which are misleading, and considered them great effort by Trump’s administration. This has to change. The United States has to stop doing that and has to be fair, and they have to accept our right as Palestinians to be free, as Palestinians to be free from occupation and from the system of Israeli apartheid. This, by the way, will be good for everybody in this region, and not just for Palestinians.

Regarding Arab countries, we are not happy, and we are disappointed, because up 'til now the Arab countries are not doing what they should do. And we are not asking them to fight Israel, but we are asking them at least to stop having normalization with this system of apartheid and occupation, to cut the relationship ’til Israel stops this oppression of the Palestinian people. We think they should do much more. Of course, we cannot put them all in one basket, because some countries are really doing a good job. Some others are not doing enough. But I know one thing: that the peoples of the Arab world are all on the side of the Palestinian people. That's what we have seen in huge demonstrations, hundreds of thousands in Yemen, in Iraq, in Tunisia, in Morocco and in so many — and, most important, in Jordan and Lebanon, where people in Jordan tried in every possible way to reach to us. So, I think there is a great discrepancy, a great difference here between the positions of the peoples of these countries and the positions of the governments.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, we want to thank you for being with us, physician, member of the Palestinian parliament, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, speaking to us from Ramallah in the West Bank.

DR. MUSTAFA BARGHOUTI: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Next up, we go to Jerusalem to speak to the head of the human rights group B’Tselem.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:10 am

Gaza Physician: Israel Is Targeting Doctors & Health Facilities to Overwhelm Our Crumbling System
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
MAY 18, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/18/ ... ls_clinics

GUESTS
Dr. Rasha: Palestinian internal medicine physician working in Gaza.

The death toll in Gaza has reached 213, including at least 61 children, as Israel continues to attack the besieged area by air, land and sea using U.S.-made warplanes and bombs. The death toll in Israel stands at 11 from rockets fired from Gaza. Israel is facing increasing criticism for targeting doctors in its attack, and its airstrikes have reportedly damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics, according to the World Health Organization. The attacks on medical staff and facilities are a “nightmare,” says Dr. Rasha, a Palestinian internal medicine physician working in Gaza who asked not to use her full name for safety reasons. “I think this is targeted to increase the overwhelming of the already overwhelmed healthcare system,” she says.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The death toll in Gaza has reached 213 as Israel continues to attack the besieged area by air, land and sea using U.S.-made warplanes and U.S.-made bombs. Health officials in Gaza say the dead include 61 children and 36 women. Over 1,400 Palestinians have been injured. The United Nations says 58,000 Palestinians have been displaced. Meanwhile, the death toll in Israel stands at 11 from rocket attacks fired from Gaza.

Palestinians across Gaza, the West Bank and Israel are staging a general strike today. In the West Bank, Israeli forces have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in Bethlehem.

On Monday, President Biden expressed his support for a ceasefire in Gaza during a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu. But Biden stopped short of directly demanding Israel halt its assault, despite growing pressure from Congress, where over two dozen Democratic senators have backed an immediate ceasefire. After Biden’s call, Israel continued its attack on Gaza, which has now entered its ninth day. At the United Nations, the United States once again blocked the U.N. Security Council from backing a ceasefire.

Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, receiving some $3.8 billion a year. In recent weeks, the Biden administration approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel. But House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks is expected to ask for the sale to be delayed to give lawmakers more time to review it. Israel has relied heavily on U.S.-made weapons during its assault. Israel reportedly used a GBU-31 bomb made by Lockheed Martin to bring down a high-rise building on Saturday which housed the offices of many media outlets, including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

Israel is also facing increasing criticism for targeting doctors and health clinics. On Monday, an Israeli strike damaged the only COVID-19 laboratory in Gaza. On Sunday, a massive Israeli airstrike killed Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf, who headed the coronavirus response at Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital. He and two of his teenage children died in an Israeli bombing of the residential area of Gaza City that killed a total of 30 people. Another prominent doctor from Shifa Hospital, Mooein Ahmad al-Aloul, one of the only neurologists in Gaza, was killed in an airstrike on his home. Israel has also bombed many of the roads leading to Shifa Hospital, making it harder for ambulances to bring patients. According to the World Health Organization, Israeli strikes and shelling have damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics.

We’re joined now by two Palestinian doctors. Joining us from the West Bank city of Ramallah is Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. He’s a member of the Palestinian parliament, head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, who has been leading efforts to manage the COVID pandemic in the West Bank and Gaza. And in Gaza, we’re joined by Dr. Rasha. To protect her safety, Dr. Rasha has asked we only use her first name and not show her face.

Dr. Rasha, let’s begin with you. You are at ground zero, in Gaza. You knew the doctors who were killed. Can you start off by describing the situation on the ground?

DR. RASHA: Yes. Hello, and thank you for allowing me to speak about how we — life these days in Gaza. And I would like to submit the humanitarian aspects of this war as a physician and as a Palestinian and as a mother, at the start.

First of all, you can imagine that you are — there is no place safe in Gaza now. If you imagine that you are walking in a city, and there is no single path in the city that’s not targeted. They’re targeting the residential buildings, the healthcare systems, even the street itself, walking people, people on bike, on motorbike, in their car, and mosque, even the beach, the restaurants, the press office. Whatever you can see by your eye while you are walking in the city has been targeted. And this is actually — it’s awful.

And it makes even violations for the movement for the ambulance, which are going to the hospitals. The entry to the Shifa Hospital, the main hospital in Gaza, has been — all the roads leading to the hospital have been destroyed, and which make the ambulance need to make a long turn before they reach the hospital with injured patients.

Even the main electricity station, which has been targeted in 2008, has been targeted again, and now we have no electricity. And this has been targeted again, and there is no electricity, electricity coming only two to three hours per day. And we are not anticipating when it’s coming. We are using generator, and even there is no fuel enough to supply the generator. And now I have no electricity and no electricity from the generator, as well, for me personally.

The internet tower has been targeted, and then we have very, very access to internet. Even this, I think this is to target speaking out and to prevent us from talking and explaining the situation.

The schools, the kindergartens, the factories, the governmental buildings, the banks, the ministry buildings, primary healthcare facilities, including, as you mentioned, the Doctors Without Borders clinics and office, have been targeted, as the MSF spokesperson has said two days ago. The residential home, which is the main — the main catastrophe and the main disaster is that the residential building and towers has been targeted, and it has been destroyed over the people who are living inside.

And as you mentioned, two doctors have been killed, including one of them was my mentor, Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf. It was actually a nightmare. And when he was targeted, it was — I remember the night very well. We were following the news, and we know where he is living. He lived close to Al-Shifa Hospital. And we used to say that Dr. Ayman is living in the hospital, actually, because whenever you go to the hospital, you find him. If he has a critical case, he has to go home and come back to the hospital every time to check his cases. He is a very committed person, and he was my teacher. He was a member of the COVID committee. He was training the post-resident doctors and the internship and medical school doctors. His loss is really a big loss to the medical staff in Gaza. Really, I cannot imagine that he has been killed. And I think it’s a nightmare, not more, as I hope I can — I will see him soon. Like, I cannot imagine, actually.

I remember that night. We were following the news, of three nights ago. And I sleep late, at around 4 a.m., and my husband woke me at 7:00 or 8:00, and he told me, “You know Dr. Ayman, yes? Ayman Abu al-Ouf.” Then I told him, “Don’t say that,” because I was anticipating what I hope it will not occur. And he said, “He has been killed.” And his children and his wife, his father and his mother are still under rubble, and they did not manage to get them early in the morning. Me and all my colleagues that work for the ward, we are assuring each other, “He is killed, but his children…” There was no news about whether they are still alive under the rubble or not, because there is some stories some people survive — rarely people survive, and we was hoping that anyone of his family survived. Unfortunately, by the midday, we know that no one from his family survived. And it was a huge loss to humanity and to the medical field in Gaza. Also, another medical doctor, Ahmad al-Aloul, who was a neurologist at Shifa Hospital, has been killed in the same strike. It’s awful.

And we see they destroy buildings during night while people are sleeping in their homes. There is no alarm, as they claim. They claim that “When we are targeting residential buildings, we are sending alarm to the people.” But this is not the truth. This is not the truth. To be honest all the time, most of the time they are not sending alarms.

And as you see in the news, many homes have been destroyed over the people, including a refugee camp beside the beach. It’s called al-Shati. About five days ago, also the same, they targeted a home, with around 12 to 15 persons from one family have been killed, with only a 5-month-old child survive. It was a nightmare, and I cannot imagine — as a mother, I cannot imagine how this 5-month baby will survive, what we will tell him in the future, who will take care of him, how he will think about the beach in the future, how he will look at Israel. I don’t know how he will grow up, this baby, and I was thinking about if I can give this baby — to bring him to keep him with my children in my home. [inaudible] —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Dr. Rasha, my condolences to you and your colleagues for the death of Dr. Ayman and the terrible destruction. But I wanted to ask you — there were other medical facilities have been hit, as well. Doctors Without Borders said that on Sunday there was an Israeli missile struck a clinic that they were running. Is it your sense that the medical facilities are being targeted by the Israelis?

DR. RASHA: Yeah, I think it’s targeted. It’s intentionally targeted. Even if they claim that there is something underneath or behind it or surrounding it, it’s intentionally targeted. MSF is known that it provides service for pain and for trauma patients. And there was a plan to review activity for care of the traumatized patients or to provide briefing and to care for the injured people during this war. But, unfortunately, the biggest clinic for MSF has been targeted and is structurally damaged. The sterilization unit on the clinic has been damaged. And even the roads which go into the clinic have been completely destructed.

So, I think this is targeted to increase the overwhelming of the already overwhelmed healthcare system. I am sure that if this belong more — this will be long more, the healthcare system will be overwhelmed, and the capacity is limited, which is already limited due to continued siege on Gaza. So, I guess this is intended. As I mentioned, the streets leading to the hospital have been targeted, for Al-Shifa Hospital. And the entry for Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the middle of Gaza also has been targeted, and one person was killed in front of the hospital during this target. So, it makes no sense to target the streets surrounding the hospital. And it’s a humanitarian disaster if you are not only targeting people, but targeting the place where people can be treated. This is another crime that they should be accounted for.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Also, the main clinic responsible for COVID care and the laboratory doing COVID testing were struck. Gaza was already facing a huge problem, as much of the rest of the world, even worse than other parts of the world, in terms of the pandemic. How is this — how have you been able to manage in this situation?

DR. RASHA: Actually, before starting of the war, there was almost complete lockdown in Gaza due to increase, the pandemic, directly in Gaza. There was around 230 people die every day from COVID. And the hospital and the healthcare system for COVID care was already overwhelmed. My friends and my friends who are working in COVID unit, in the ICU and in the ward, ICU care ward, already mentioned that they do not have capacity and it’s overwhelmed.

And Gaza was doing the precaution to control the pandemic. However, there is only one lab in Gaza, central lab, which was doing the COVID tests, and it was also like a store where they store the vaccine, and they make plans, and they’re meeting to plan for the COVID. And this has been targeted.

During the war, because of the restriction more, the number of the cases which diagnose with COVID decrease, but it’s due to a decreased people movement and seeking healthcare in the hospitals from the war. But no one knows the actual number of cases with COVID, who are not tested, who are afraid from moving from home to do the test. And the deputy prime — sorry, minister of health, Dr. Yousef Abu al-Rish, said that they are not able to do any COVID tests since yesterday.

So, it will be double the humanitarian crisis. There will be, in addition to the war, to the victims, the COVID which could not be diagnosed. Even the vaccination service, which was started in Gaza Strip around two to three months ago, this will be interrupted. All the COVID — and also a lot of big members of the COVID committee, like Dr. Ayman, also it will have impact on COVID control committee and COVID control program. And I think that for the upcoming days, that we will have — we will see a disaster, humanitarian and healthcare disaster, especially also if you add on electricity problem and interruption in the electricity supply to the hospital and the vital place like the ICU setting, which are dependent for ventilation patients. Electricity interruption also has an impact on this.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Rasha, I want to thank you for being with us — please, stay safe — a Palestinian internal medicine physician working in Gaza.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Thu May 20, 2021 12:13 am

A Plea from Gaza: Israel Bombing Campaign Is Turning My Homeland into a “Wasteland”
by Amy Goodman
DemocracyNow
MAY 19, 2021
https://www.democracynow.org/2021/5/19/ ... paign_gaza

GUESTS
Aya Alghazzawi: Palestinian activist based in Gaza who writes for We Are Not Numbers.
LINKS
Aya Alghazzawi on Twitter
We Are Not Numbers

The Israeli bombing campaign of Gaza has killed at least 222 Palestinians, including 63 children, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects growing international calls for a ceasefire. The Norwegian Refugee Council has revealed 11 of the children killed in Gaza were taking part in a program to help them deal with trauma from growing up in the besieged enclave. At least six residents of Gaza died in Israeli strikes overnight, including the radio journalist Yousef Abu Hussein. In the West Bank, Israeli forces on Tuesday killed at least four Palestinians taking part in a historic general strike to protest Israeli atrocities, which united Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and inside Israel. Israel’s bombing campaign has destroyed much of Gaza’s infrastructure, from sewage systems to clean drinking water supplies. “Israel is turning Gaza into a wasteland,” says Aya Alghazzawi, a Palestinian activist based in Gaza who writes for We Are Not Numbers.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has entered its 10th day as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects growing international calls for a ceasefire. The Israeli bombing campaign has killed at least 222 Palestinians in Gaza, including 63 children. Over 1,500 Palestinians have been injured. Seventy-two thousand people have been displaced.

The Norwegian Refugee Council has revealed 11 of the children killed in Gaza were taking part in a program to help them deal with trauma from growing up in the besieged enclave of Gaza.

At least six residents of Gaza died in Israeli strikes overnight, including the radio journalist Yousef Abu Hussein. Another airstrike destroyed a residential home in Khan Younis where 40 members of the al-Astal family lived. Ahmad al-Astal described the attack.

AHMAD AL-ASTAL: [translated] After we returned from dawn prayer and while it was still dark, we were surprised by a drone rocket, which was followed by an F-16 missile 10 minutes later, taking down the house, while all the surrounding houses sustained damage. … This behind us reflects the humanity in them, demolishing the houses while its inhabitants are inside, people leaving their houses during the night, terrifying children and the elderly. By God, we left with our mother. We couldn’t carry her, but the fear made us carry her. But in spite of all this, we will remain on our lands, and the occupation and those who came with it and those who support it will eventually demise, and the people of Palestine will remain in Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: In the West Bank, Israeli forces Tuesday killed at least four Palestinians taking part in a historic general strike to protest Israeli atrocities. Dozens were arrested. The strike united Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and inside Israel.

Meanwhile, in Israel, the death toll has reached 12 after two migrant workers from Thailand died Tuesday in a rocket fired from Gaza.

Israel’s bombing campaign has destroyed much of Gaza’s infrastructure, from sewage systems to clean drinking water supplies. At least 50 schools have been damaged. Gaza’s largest bookstore and publishing house, Samir Mansour, was completely destroyed in a bombing. Another Israeli strike destroyed a popular ice cream factory in northern Gaza. Israel also destroyed the offices of a company which used 3D printers to make tourniquets and medical devices. Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has accused Israel of blocking humanitarian aid from entering parts of Gaza.

On the diplomatic front, every member of the European Union — with the exception of Hungary — has called for an immediate ceasefire. But the Biden administration has yet to demand a ceasefire. On Tuesday, President Biden visited an electric vehicle plant in Michigan. He refused to answer a question about Israel from a reporter.

REPORTER: Mr. President, can I ask you a quick question on Israel before you drive away, since it’s so important?

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: No, you can’t, not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it.

AMY GOODMAN: During the same trip, Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian American congresswoman, confronted Biden on the airport tarmac in Detroit. Tlaib has been a vocal critic of U.S. military support for Israel.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Democrat Gregory Meeks, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has backed down on his plan to push for a delay of a new $735 million in U.S. weapons sales to Israel.

Israel has refused to stop its assault on Gaza, while vowing to track down and kill top Palestinian militants. Earlier today, the Israeli military confirmed it’s unsuccessfully attempted in recent days to assassinate Mohammed Deif, the leader of the armed wing of Hamas. Deif has been in hiding for two decades. Israel killed his wife and infant son in 2014.

This comes as protests continue across the globe to condemn Israel’s bombing of Gaza. In New York, demonstrators rallied outside the offices of Friends of the Israel Defense [Forces] and AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Seven protesters were reportedly arrested outside the United Nations.

We begin today’s show in Gaza, where we’re joined by Aya Alghazzawi, a Palestinian activist based in Gaza who writes for We Are Not Numbers.

Aya, welcome to Democracy Now! Can you describe what’s happening on the ground now?

AYA ALGHAZZAWI: Thank you very much, Amy, for hosting me.

Well, Gaza is witnessing another nightmare, is witnessing another massacre, a genocide, committed by settler-colonial Israel. So, Israel is targeting everybody. Until now, Israel has killed about 219 Palestinians, including 63 children and 36 women and 16 elderly men. Israel sees Palestinians in Gaza as subhuman beings. I mean, just yesterday, Benny Gantz told the prime minister of Israel that nobody, no person, no neighborhood or area is immune and that they are going on with this belligerent war aggressions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Everything in Gaza is damaged, and literally, Israel is turning Gaza into a wasteland. It targets residential buildings. It targets main roads to make it difficult for ambulances to reach Palestinians injured or places bombed, and even makes it very difficult for the injured people themselves who try to get to hospitals as soon as possible. Everything in the Gaza Strip is in a real catastrophe.

We are very much afraid, and we are living in a constant anxiety and fear, fear for ourselves and our lives, but also fear for our beloved ones. Our children are weeping, and they’re asking, “Why is this happening?” And why are they hearing heavy bombardments and massive explosions all over the Gaza Strip? “Why aren’t we able to sleep?” We haven’t been able to sleep for 10 days now. So, we actually face many difficult questions, that we don’t know how to explain these to our children.

And while people around the world enjoy their human rights for granted, we here in the Gaza Strip have to fight. But this, what is happening in Gaza, is not happening in Gaza in particular, but also this is a part of an uprising that is taking place all over Palestine, whether in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, or even inside the occupied 1948 territories. What we’re witnessing right now in Palestine is a historic moment of national unity, that the Palestinian people are identifying themselves as a one people, one hand, one unit, against one enemy, which is settler-colonial Israel.

And this is not the first time that happens, something like that happens in the Gaza Strip. It actually brings back bitter memories of belligerent aggressions that the Israelis waged against the Gaza Strip in 2008, 2012 and 2014. All of those aggressions claimed thousands of Palestinians and caused injuries to tens of thousands more. Many of them have lifelong disabilities. I myself lost my cousin in the 2008 Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip.

So, we’re just trying to figure this out and how to overcome this trauma that we have been living. And, you know, this is not this time only that we face such brutal conditions of life. Even if we go nonviolently, as happened in the Great Return March in 2018, also we were targeted, and many of us were killed. More than 281 Palestinians were killed. Thousands were maimed by Israeli soldiers and snipers. So, whatever Palestinians are doing, they are being targeted everywhere, whether they’re armed or civilians or any other people. And —

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well —

AYA ALGHAZZAWI: — I just can’t go — the fact that — yes?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Aya, I wanted to ask you, in terms of — you write for We Are Not Numbers. And talk about what it feels like to see the headlines referring to Palestinians as statistics. And your analysis of how the outside media is covering or are covering the events that are occurring right now and the Israeli attacks?

AYA ALGHAZZAWI: Yeah, of course. Actually, we are very much disappointed by news outlets, whether by reporting us and the Palestinians killed as mere numbers and statistics or even as portraying the struggle of Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, as two equal sides and that they’re focusing on Hamas and armed factions that approves firing rockets.

But again, returning to your point, we are not numbers. And as a writer for We Are Not Numbers, we have a great mission to do, which we share the stories behind numbers, because Israel does not kill only numbers. They kill our dreams. They kill our struggles, our memories and everything.

One of those stories, for example, is Dr. Shaima’a al-Ouf, who was 21 years old only and in her third year of dental studies. And she was a bride-to-be; she was supposed to be getting married this month. And instead of her, you know, getting pretty and trying her wedding dress, worrying about the invitation list or preparing for her final exams, she was bombed in a al-Wehda Street massacre, in which Israel bombed the entire block without any firing warning. And 42 Palestinians were killed, including 12 women and eight children. Many children, luckily, they were found alive and could be rescued.

Another story, for example, is Suzy Eshkuntana, who’s only 6 years old. She lost her mother and her two brothers and her sister Dana, and now she only has her father.

Another massacre happened with Abu Hatab’s family in al-Shati camp, one of the very — the most densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip. And we have only a 6-month-old baby who could survive the massacre, out of 37 members of his family.

What is happening actually is crazy, and Israel is going so insane in her airstrikes, bombardments or artillery attacks. Everybody in Gaza Strip is a target.

And you know what? The problem is that, you know, we didn’t initiate any of this. Like, we have 28 Palestinian families in the occupied eastern Jerusalem in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood who face the danger of being ethnically cleansed. We’re talking about 500 Palestinians there. And they called upon every Palestinians across the historic Palestine to take part in their acts of resistance. Here in Gaza, we heeded the call, and we took part in this act of resistance.

And then comes Israel and decides to — collectively punishes Palestinians in Gaza. And when we talk about Gaza, we’re talking about 360 square kilometers only, with a population of 2 million Palestinians. So, wherever Israel strikes and hits places, there are people killed, and there are people injured.

AMY GOODMAN: Aya —

AYA ALGHAZZAWI: There are people maimed. Residential homes are flattened to earth, affecting the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip, affecting our water supplies, power plants, electricity power plants, even the internet connection. So, the situation in the Gaza Strip is very catastrophic, and we just don’t know when all of this will, you know, come to an end.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to —

AYA ALGHAZZAWI: This is not the —

AMY GOODMAN: Aya, I want to turn to Nadeen Abed al Lateef. She’s a 10-year-old girl in Gaza. The video of her speaking next to a bombed-out section of Gaza City has gone viral.

NADEEN ABED AL LATEEF: I’m always sick. I’m always — I don’t know. I can’t do anything. You see all of this. What do you expect me to do? Fix it? I’m only 10. I can’t even deal with this anymore. I just want to be a doctor or anything to help my people, but I can’t. I’m just a kid. I don’t even know what to do. I get scared, but not really that much. I’d do anything for my people, but I don’t know what to do. I’m just 10. I’m just 10. All of this, when I see it, I literally cry every day, saying to myself, “Why do we deserve this? What did we do to this?” My family said, “They just hate us. They just don’t like us because we are Muslims.” Why does Muslims act for you like that? We’re just kids. We’re just — you see all of the kids around me? They’re just kids. Why would you just send a missile to them and kill them? It’s not fair. It’s not fair.

AMY GOODMAN: That, again, is Nadeen Abed al Lateef. She is 10 years old. The video of her standing next to this bombed-out area of Gaza has gone viral. Aya, as we wrap up, we are not only talking about the bombing of Gaza. This is, of course, on top of the pandemic, that has so seriously devastated Palestine, even as Israel has been hailed as the gold standard for providing vaccines to Israelis. You wrote a piece, “A quarantine inside a quarantine: a coronavirus diary from Gaza.” How does this latest — the bombing of Gaza compound the suffering there?

AYA ALGHAZZAWI: Yeah, thank you. Actually, as people around the world have to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, we have to deal with different kinds of pandemics, mostly Israeli pandemic, which we have been suffering from over the past 73 years, and we’re still suffering from this multi-tiered system of oppression, namely settler colonialism, occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, mass killing and genocide. It’s very much hard for us to continue dealing with the coronavirus and running the medical tests necessary. Just, you know, one of the main laboratories, medical laboratories, have stopped running medical tests for the coronavirus because of the current situation and because of the airstrikes that hit very close to that laboratory. We don’t run any, you know, kittings or any tests anymore.

So, but we have also more difficult situation here to deal with. We don’t worry about the coronavirus nowadays as much as we do regarding the current Israeli aggression, because this is all what we’re thinking of. We are very much traumatized, that we can’t think of anything else. We’re worried about how we can just survive this place. And I didn’t know that I would be still alive and commit to the interview with you. This is the current situation right now. And we’re talking about more than 40,000 Palestinians who took refuge in UNRWA schools. Many children were killed. So, it’s very much difficult to deal with the coronavirus. It makes it very hard for us to deal with.

AMY GOODMAN: Aya Alghazzawi, I want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian activist based in Gaza who writes for We Are Not Numbers. She responds to media requests by saying, “Hopefully we will still be alive.”

Up next, we go Ramallah in the West Bank to speak with longtime Israeli reporter Amira Hass. Her latest piece, “Gaza Lives Erased: Israel Is Wiping Out Entire Palestinian Families on Purpose.” Stay with us.
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