Cruelty of Israel’s Cast Lead assault captured by new documentary

Daryl Meador, The Electronic Intifada, 6 June 2013

WBoy leans against fence with destroyed homes in backgroundhere Should the Birds Fly, the new documentary directed and narrated by Fida Qishta, begins with chilling footage of Israeli bulldozers destroying houses in Rafah in 2004. Qishta, a native of Rafah, the city in the south of the Gaza Strip, watched her parents’ house of 30 years crumble under the bulldozers. As it was destroyed, her father told her and her family to leave and keep walking. “He feared if our eyes took in the sight, our hearts would be filled with hate,” Qishta says.

The young woman channeled the intense anger and frustration felt from this episode, and many others caused by the Israeli blockade, to create a touching film that reveals many of the daily injustices in Gaza.

Qishta began her career as a wedding videographer. After becoming comfortable with the camera, she began to film her surroundings and eventually accompanied human rights observers to document their work.

Much of the first half of the film features scenes of everyday life for Palestinians in Gaza. Qishta left the Gaza Strip in 2006 to visit Europe; when she returned she was forced to wait for three weeks at the border. She filmed the time she spent waiting to re-enter her home.

Shots of the border crossing terminal show tired men, women and children as they waited indefinitely without being offered beds or food.

Targeted by snipers

The documentary visits the farming village of Khozaa, which lies in the Israeli-designated “buffer zone,” land near the boundary with Israel that Palestinians are forbidden from entering. The land, once fertile farmland, is frequently targeted by Israeli sniper fire when farmers attempt to tend it.

The documentary follows farmers as they are accompanied by international activists and try to work the land. Included in this scene is footage of International Solidarity Movement volunteer Vittorio Arrigoni, who dedicated much of his life to working in Gaza and was murdered there in 2011.

Arrigoni stands up against the faraway Israeli soldiers who are shooting at the farmers and yells into a bullhorn, “Stop shooting. We are unarmed.” The shooting continues. Continue reading

Israel OKs oil drilling on occupied Golan

[In addition to this news from UPI, Saudi Arabian news reported that "It’s bad enough that over the decades the strategic plateau has been extensively settled by Israelis; now, Israel would like to get its hands on Syrian oil, a decision liable to have far-reaching political repercussions. The license was awarded to Genie Energy, which is headed by none other than Golan Heights resident and former IDF general and hawkish Likud Cabinet minister Effi Eitam, who fought against Syria in the 1973 war. The company’s shareholders, reports say, include Lord Jacob Rothschild and media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and one of the company’s advisers is former US Vice President Dick Cheney. The troika are all linked in one way or another with important Jewish enterprises."  On the eve of the highly-publicized trip by Barack Obama to Jerusalem, the Israeli's are ratcheting up their bid for further US-supported Zionist expansion. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Israel’s go-ahead for oil exploration on Syria’s Golan Heights is likely to stir a diplomatic hornet’s nest.

Feb. 22, 2013TEL AVIV, Israel, Feb. 22 (UPI) — Israel’s go-ahead for oil exploration on Syria’s Golan Heights, largely occupied since the 1967 Middle East war, is likely to stir a diplomatic hornet’s nest and possibly even retaliatory action by forces engaged in Syria’s civil war.But the timing of the award by the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources of the first oil drilling permit for the territory almost on the eve of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to Israel is particularly controversial.The drilling license given to the U.S.-Israeli company Genie Energy covers about half of the southern area on the volcanic plateau that Israel has occupied for nearly 50 years. Continue reading

Killing Hope: Why Israel Targets Sports in Gaza

Israeli Airstrikes Wrecked Palestine Stadium

Dave Zirin, The Nation, November 19, 2012

Let’s start with a fact. On November 16, the Israeli Air Force bombed the 10,000-seat Palestine Stadium “into ruins.”* The stadium also headquartered the center for youth sports programs throughout the Gaza Strip. This is the second time Israel has flattened the facility. The first was in 2006 and the people of Gaza have spent the last six years rebuilding the fields, stands and offices to keep the national soccer team as well as club sports alive in the region.

I’m sure the reaction to this fact will depend on what side people take in the current conflict. For the Israeli government and their supporters, they promised “collective punishment” following the Hamas rockets fired over the border and they are delivering “collective punishment.” Matan Vilnai, deputy defense minister of Israel has in the past threatened a “holocaust” and Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, called for Gaza to be the new “Hiroshima.” In this context, a sports facility must seem like little more than target practice.

For those attending daily demonstrations against the carnage, this news of a stadium’s destruction must also be seen as an irrelevancy. After all according to The Wall Street Journal, ninety Palestinians, including fifty civilians, have been killed in Gaza. Two hundred and twenty-five children are among the more than 700 injured, and these numbers are climbing. Israeli ground troops are massing at the border and President Obama can only bring himself to defend Israel without criticism. There is only so much concern for a stadium people can be expected to muster.

I think however that we should all take a moment to ask the question, “Why?” Why has the Palestinian sports infrastructure, not to mention Palestinian athletes, always been a target of the Israeli military? Why has the Palestinian domestic soccer league completed only seven seasons since its founding in 1977? Why are players commonly subjected to harassment and violence, not to mention curfews, checkpoints and all sorts of legal restrictions on their movement? Why were national team players Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshate killed by the Israeli Defense Forces during the 2009 military campaign? Why did imprisoned national team player Mahmoud Sarsak require a hunger strike, the international solidarity campaign of Amnesty International, and a formal protest from both FIFA and the 50,000-player soccer union FIFpro to just to win his freedom after three years behind bars? Continue reading

What is Israel Really Up to Gaza?

Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air above Gaza City

from Counterpunch by JOHN MEARSHEIMER

In response to a recent upsurge in tit for tat strikes between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, Israel decided to ratchet up the violence even further by assassinating Hamas’s military chief, Ahmad Jabari. Hamas, which had been playing a minor role in these exchanges and even appears to have been interested in working out a long-term ceasefire, predictably responded by launching hundreds of rockets into Israel, a few even landing near Tel Aviv. Not surprisingly, the Israelis have threatened a wider conflict, to include a possible invasion of Gaza to topple Hamas and eliminate the rocket threat.

There is some chance that Operation ‘Pillar of Defence’, as the Israelis are calling their current campaign, might become a full-scale war. But even if it does, it will not put an end to Israel’s troubles in Gaza. After all, Israel launched a devastating war against Hamas in the winter of 2008-9 – Operation Cast Lead – and Hamas is still in power and still firing rockets at Israel. In the summer of 2006 Israel went to war against Hizbullah in order to eliminate its missiles and weaken its political position in Lebanon. That offensive failed as well: Hizbullah has far more missiles today than it had in 2006 and its influence in Lebanon is arguably greater than it was in 2006. Pillar of Defence is likely to share a similar fate.

Israel can use force against Hamas in three distinct ways. First, it can try to cripple the organisation by assassinating its leaders, as it did when it killed Jabari two days ago. Decapitation will not work, however, because there is no shortage of subordinates to replace the dead leaders, and sometimes the new ones are more capable and dangerous than their predecessors. The Israelis found this out in Lebanon in 1992 when they assassinated Hizbullah’s leader, Abbas Musawi, only to find that his replacement, Hassan Nasrallah, was an even more formidable adversary. Continue reading

Bloodbath in Gaza

Counterpunch, November 15, 2012
by PATRICK HIGGINS

For days now, Israel has been launching aerial attacks on Gaza, resulting in many dead and many injured. The attacks are part of a larger and massively depressing spectacle of a usurping colony forcing a population into a wall-enclosed ghetto and bombing them in the name of Judaism and the Jews.

A New York Times article, published November 14th, reports on the death of Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, killed by one of Israel’s recent (“pinpoint,”* according to the article) airstrikes. Naturally, the article makes sly non-mention of the others—including the children—killed in the strikes. One phrase in the article reflects the Israeli government’s logic regarding the matter: “The ferocity of the airstrikes, in response to what Israel called repeated rocket attacks by Gaza-based Palestinian militants…”

The article goes on to bolster this logic when considering the always-tenuous ceasefire between Hamas, the governing body of Gaza, and Israel:

“Since [2008-2009] Hamas has mostly adhered to an informal, if shaky, cease-fire and at times tried to enforce the smaller militant groups to stick to it. But in recent months, under pressure from some of the Gaza population for not avenging deadly Israeli airstrikes, it has claimed responsibility for participating in the firing of rockets.”

So the question posed is, Who started it? When one reads the above words, one gets the sense that the “starting” of “it” amounts to a recent phenomenon, and that the question’s answer is to be found in recent events, circa last weekend. This logic upheld by the Israeli government and the U.S.’s “newspaper of record” is also upheld by—I apologize in advance for the astonishing lack of surprise here—the U.S. government.

At the end of his presidency, George W. Bush** justified Operation Cast Lead—Israel’s massacre of around 1,400 Palestinians—by saying Hamas started it by breaking a ceasefire with rocket fire.

First of all, that was never even true. Israel broke the ceasefire on November 4th, 2008, when it raided the Gaza Strip and killed six Hamas members. The raid was reported by the Guardian at the time. The event wasn’t really mentioned in the mainstream discussion of the U.S., which reveals something about the predominant U.S. attitude towards Israel and Gaza.

Supporters of Israel often brag about how Israel “withdrew” from Gaza, as if Gaza’s transition from formally occupied territory to open-air prison constituted a grand Israeli peace effort. But Israel breaches Gazan territory at will and becomes quite pestered when it’s met with resistance for doing so. This is perhaps unexceptional. Israel’s sponsor, the United States, similarly believes it owns everything and can do what it likes to whatever territories at any time. Just think of its vast drone network, always busy murdering civilians in places from Pakistan to Yemen.

Technically, Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza offered Israel a truce as recently as November 12th. But let’s ask the question in a deeper sense: Who started it?

The question is easily answered, but it should be asked with more specificity: Who started the murderous settler-colonialism? (“Murderous settler-colonialism” is redundant, but I will nonetheless employ the phrase to make the point as clear as possible.)

Israel did, of course. The question of settler-colonialism is important. It clarifies. After all, settler-colonialism is a process. In Palestine, it’s always underway. More important to note is that it’s always violent. Continue reading

Palestinian Parkour: In a Land of Walls and Barriers, The Defiant Arts of Overcoming Obstacles

Free Running Gaza

A Film by George Azar and Mariam Shahin
Maysara Films, for AlJazeeraEnglish on Jul 3, 2011

Two young Palestinians embrace an art form and athletic discipline that offers an escape from life under occupation.
Length: 25mins  |  Year of production: 1999

Free Running Gaza depicts the thoughts and dreams behind the first Gaza Parkour Team, an initiative of two 22–year–old friends, Mohammed al–Jakhbeer and Abdallah Enshsi. Seen through the eyes of this inspirational duo, Parkour, a high octane urban acrobatic sport, forces people to look at obstacles as challenges, and even opportunities. Mariam Shahin and George Azar’s doc follows the ingenious duo as they chart out new spaces to develop their sport, find new stunts to master, and use the internet to share their achievements with a global fraternity of “free runners”.

Palestine: Btselem’s end of 2011 video


btselem on Jan 4, 2012

In 2011, volunteers in B’Tselem’s camera project filmed over 500 hours of footage in the West Bank.

There are two minutes we collected from it, in order to sum up the passing year.

Open Letter from Gaza: Three Years after the Massacre, Justice or Nothing!

Tuesday, 27th December, 2011

We, Palestinians of Gaza, 3 years on from the 22-day long massacre in Israel’s operation ‘Cast Lead’, are calling on international civil society to make 2012 the year when solidarity with us in Palestine captures the spark of the revolutions around the Arab world and never looks back. On this anniversary we demand an international liberation movement that eventually leads to just that, liberation for us Palestinians from 63 years of brutal military occupation and ethnic cleansing that pours shame on any organisation or government claiming to endorse universal human rights.

We will never forget the hurt of 3 years ago, the criminal onslaught that we lived through, the blood of over 1400 murdered men, women and hundreds of children running through the streets of Gaza, between the rubble, soaking our beds and etched on our minds. We will never forget. For they are still dead, and thousands more are still maimed. [1]

  We will never forget the last 63 years during which our land, homes, olive groves, lemon trees and cherished way of life was taken away from us, while Israeli soldiers held our fathers’ faces in the sands, imprisoned them, or shot them in front of us. We will not forget the sickening cowardice of the international community that has allowed and enabled this ethnic cleansing of our people, subjecting us to Israel’s racist Zionist vision that defines us, the indigenous people of Palestine, as the undesired ‘ethnic group’ for the region.

The US continues to ‘reward’ Israel with 6 billion dollars of tax-payers money while the EU increases its trade and diplomatic relations. For the Israeli apartheid regime this translates as the green light to unleash the 4th most powerful military on us to ‘do its worst’ against our civilian population, of which over half in Gaza are children and over 2 thirds are UN registered refugees.

Continue reading

Zionist business as usual: another day of Ethnic Cleansing and settler-colonial violence against Palestinians

Israeli Forces Arrest Eight Citizens from Jenin Camp, Nablus, Gaza

December 20, 2011, PNN – Palestine News Network, occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com

PNN- On Tuesday, Israeli forces arrested three citizens from Jenin refugee camp, Jenin city, and Yamoun village. 
An Israeli jeep raids a West Bank village (Lo Yuk Fai, PNN).

Secure sources told Palestinian official news wire Wafa that Israeli forces at the city of Jenin and the refugee camp using tear gas and sound bombs,  arrested three Palestinians, Kamal Awaad, Mohammad Mazen Abu al-Sa’di and Yousef Abu al-Sba’, after they raided their houses and rummaged through their belongings.
The Israeli forces also raided the house of As’ad Mohammad Steiti in the camp and searched it. They also raided Yanoun village, west of Jenin, and searched several houses.
Israeli forces also arrested a youth and his sister from Duma village, south of Nablus.
Secure sources told Wafa that the Israeli forces raided the village at dawn and started searching the citizens’ houses, eventually arresting Omar Dwabsheh, 20, and his sister Fatima, 22, who studies at al-Najah University.
In the central Gaza refugee camp of al-Bureij, Israeli soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians during a midnight raid.
[An Israeli jeep raids a West Bank village (Lo Yuk Fai, PNN).]

Oakland museum cancels exhibition created by Palestinian children

[Revolutionary Frontlines urges all readers to protest this censorship of Palestinian children's art by the Oakland Museum, and find other venues where the art show may be viewed by people in the US.  The US government, it must be said, finances the Israeli missiles and bullets which rained down on Gaza during the siege depicted by its child victims.  The US support for Israeli displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their native lands, must stop! -- Frontlines ed.]
In December, 2010, Revolutionary Frontlines posted
this video and an article about the Palestinian children’s art at
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By Jennifer Modenessi, Contra Costa Times, 09/10/2011
An exhibition of drawings and paintings created by Palestinian children scheduled to open Sept. 24 at Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Art has been canceled.

The show, which was to run until Nov. 13, included harrowing images of bloodshed and loss during the Israeli bombing of Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, which began in 2008. In one drawing, a little girl with a bandage on her head stares out from behind prison bars. In another, tanks roll through a burning town as women wail and children weep.

These and other artworks created by Palestinian children ages 6-14 were to have been included in “A Child’s View of Gaza,” which was to open with a day of cartooning workshops and poetry readings.

Hilman Storey, chair of MOCHA’s board of directors wrote in a statement that while the museum supports art that fosters “insight and understanding,” an exhibit of art about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “not appropriate for an open gallery accessible by all children.” Continue reading

Southern California: Irvine 11 trial begins after a week of jury selection

Demonstrating support for the Irvine 11

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada

09/07/2011

Following a week of selections from a pool of nearly 400 potential jurors, opening arguments in the Irvine 11 trial formally begin Wednesday in Orange County, California.

Defense attorneys for the group of Muslim students from UC Irvine and UC Riverside who interrupted a speech by an Israeli official in February 2010 will argue against the “selective and discriminatory” nature of the Orange County Disctrict Attorney’s office’s year-long attacks and investigations that could result in up to two years in jail for each student on criminal misdemeanor charges.

I attended some of the jury selection process in the OC courthouse last week, and will again be on hand throughout the trial to update our readers on the ongoing process during the next few weeks and after the trial ends on 23 September with a final verdict.  Continue reading

Israeli president lauds Greece over thwarting Gaza flotilla

[This is for those who do not know: the leaders of Israel and Greece, two of the most actively reactionary and repressive states, are actually thankful for, and inspired by, each other's repressive moves.  On the other hand, the people, we are sure, will not forgive and will never forget. -- Frontlines ed.]

July 12, 2011

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday thanked his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, for his country’s role in blocking the international aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

Following a meeting with Papoulias at the official presidential residence in Jerusalem, Peres thanked Papoulias for his personal involvement in thwarting the plans of pro-Palestinian activists to breach Israel’s maritime blockade on the coastal enclave. Continue reading

Lebanese activists protest Greece’s blocking of Gaza aid flotilla

12/07/2011

BEIRUT: A dozen pro-Palestinian activists held a demonstration Monday in front of the European Union building, after a flotilla heading to Gaza was prevented from leaving Greece and other activists were banned from entering Israel over the weekend.

“We’re protesting EU governments’ complicity in perpetuating the siege of Gaza and indirectly supporting the illegal blockage,” said a protest organizer, Rana Boukarim.

The aid flotilla, trying to break the blockade on Gaza, was prevented from departing Greece by local authorities on July 8, while many activists who had planned to fly to Israel for peaceful protests in the Occupied Territories, part of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign – dubbed a flytilla – were banned from traveling or detained at Tel-Aviv’s airport. Continue reading

“Urgent Call to the people of Greece and the World: Freedom Flotilla Must Sail to Gaza!”

Statement from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

Several boats that are part of Freedom Flotilla Two – Stay Human have been detained and prohibited to sail by the Greek Coast Guard, including the U.S., Canadian and Spanish Boats to Gaza, and the Greek government has prohibited any boats from sailing to Gaza from Greek ports. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine calls upon the Greek government to immediately end this active complicity with the Israeli siege on Gaza and release the boats to join the Flotilla to Gaza, and calls on all popular forces and movements in Greece and internationally to demand that the Greek government end its participation in the illegal Israeli blockade and allow the Freedom Flotilla to sail!

The Greek people have demonstrated, time and again, their firm solidarity with the Palestinian people, taking to the streets en masse to stand with the people of Palestine against Israeli massacres, invasions and wars. The people of Greece have also taken to their streets in the millions in the past months, and Greek workers risen in escalating general strikes over the past weeks, to stand against an EU/IMF economic austerity plan for their country which will mean misery, subservience, and suffering for Greece’s people. Continue reading

Greek Communists condemn Papandreou government’s fulfillment of Zionist flotilla suppression

Communist Party of Greece (m-l) Press ReleaseAbout the “Free Gaza” Mission

Tuesday June 28, 2011–The Communist Party of Greece (marxist-leninist) condemns the criminal and provocative stance of the government of Israel in its attempt to discourage the international humanitarian mission against the genocidal blockade of the Palestinian people in Gaza. The fascist, Zionist state threatens to repeat last year’s murderous attack, threatens the reporters of the international media and puts pressure on governments and humanitarian organizations. Behind these threats and open state terrorism are as always the US imperialists, European governments and the UN leadership.

The CPG (m-l) condemns the stance of the Greek government which, in its attempt to dissuade the participation of Greek citizens, gives permission for piratical and criminal practices in international and Palestinian waters by the state of Israel. The CPG (m-l) notes that the Papandreou government has in recent years strengthened its relationship with Israel against the wishes of the majority of the Greek people and the neighbor Arab peoples.

The CPG (m-l) has on every opportunity stated that the support and the solidarity for the just, national liberation, and anti-occupation struggle of the Palestinian people is the affair of a mass, independent, and anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples. This struggle is against the selfish aims of bourgeois and imperialist forces which have proven many times that they can easily change sides and policies. We have noted that the solidarity movement must choose actions and initiatives that conform to their own dynamic and power and must rely on their own strength. Anyway we call upon the democratic Greek people to support the Palestinian right for life, freedom and dignity.

The Press Bureau of CPG (m-l)