Earlier last week COSATU released a statement supporting the Goldstone report, and on Friday the South African government released this statement:
The South African government has noted the reactions to and criticisms of the report compiled by South African Justice Richard Goldstone upon conclusion of his three month long investigation into attacks by Israel on Palestine at the end of December 2008. Justice Goldstone was appointed to head the United Nations fact-finding mission into the Gaza conflict. Read More…
I found this news via The New Republic on UN Watch:
“The U.N. Human Rights Council plenary witnessed a dramatic face-off yesterday when the head of its controversial “fact-finding” mission on Gaza — in which Israel was declared guilty from the start — was unexpectedly confronted by one of his own witnesses.
In a surprise appearance arranged by the Geneva human rights organization UN Watch, Dr. Mirela Siderer — an Israeli doctor who was brutally disfigured in 2008 by a rocket attack fired from Gaza into her Ashkelon medical clinic — pointedly accused Goldstone of ignoring her July oral testimony in his report, and of failing to disclose material information concerning the prior statements of the Human Rights Council and panel members declaring Israel guilty in advance. Click for video. The speech was published in full today by Canada’s National Post, and covered widely in Switzerland, Israel and worldwide.
Sitting on the dais, Goldstone was visibly shaken by Dr. Siderer’s challenge and scrambled for a copy of her speech. His response to the plenary ignored 7 of her questions, and inadequately responded to the 8th. “”
For Siderer’s speech and Goldstone’s response Read More…
I read Goldstone’s op-ed piece in the NY Times last night. If you haven’t read it, do so.
“But above all, I accepted [my United Nations mandate to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war and international human rights during Israel’s three-week war in Gaza] because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the laws of war, and the principle that in armed conflict civilians should to the greatest extent possible be protected from harm….Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law. Western governments in particular face a challenge because they have pushed for accountability in places like Darfur, but now must do the same with Israel, an ally and a democratic state.”
There are more than a 1000 dead in Gaza from a 19-day-old Israeli offensive against Hamas, Sapa reports tonight. Israel says it has lost three civilians, hit by rockets or mortars from Gaza, and 10 soldiers.
Some good news emerged from the Middle East today. AFP says that Egypt and Hamas have narrowed in on the possible outlines of a deal for a 10-day cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian militant group in Gaza. The officials said they were hopeful of sealing Hamas’ agreement on a temporary halt in fighting, which would be presented to Israel for its approval soon.
Can there be an end to this? Soon? Ever?
The Israeli Central Elections Committee (CEC) yesterday banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad from running in next month’s parliamentary elections. The parties will most probably challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. Arab MK’s said the decision was racist.
The BBC reports that
The Central Election Committee (CEC)voted overwhelmingly to ban the United Arab List-Ta’al (UAL-Ta’al) and Balad, accusing them of supporting terrorism.
An MP for UAL-Ta’al said the move was racist and he would appeal against it.
Arabs make up about a fifth of Israel’s population and hold seven of 120 seats in the Knesset, or parliament.
Israeli Arabs have full citizenship but often complain they suffer from discrimination.
This weekend I spent very little time following the news. Most of my time was spent with my children and their cousins, trying to cope with their unbearable noise and the general chaos. Somehow I read a few of the newspapers littering my house.
Two stories about Gaza piqued my interest.
The first one from the New York Times, A Gaza war full of Traps and Trickery tells how brutal this war is. It reports how the ‘grinding urban battle unfolding in the densely populated Gaza Strip is a war of new tactics, quick adaptation and lethal tricks’ on both sides.
An anonymous Israeli army commander interviewed told the paper: “We are very violent. We do not balk at any means to protect the lives of our soldiers.”
Jonathan Fighel of Israel’s International Institute for Counterterrorism told the New York Times that “the mind-set from top to bottom is fight and fight cruel; this is a war, not another pinpoint operation.” Read More…
This is what Joe Wurzelbacher said about the media:
“I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for ‘em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer, ah, down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.
I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.”
How awfully helpful! Really Joe, go back to plumbing.
The United Nations says it is halting all aid deliveries to Gaza. This announcement came shortly after the driver of a U.N. truck was shot and killed by tank fire as he was headed to an Israeli border crossing to pick up an aid shipment AFP reported today. This was one of a series of attacks. The U.N. said the delivery had been coordinated with Israel. The Israeli army has not commented on the incident.
Also today Red Cross issued a statement saying that relief workers found four starving children sitting next to their dead mothers and other corpses in a house in a part of Gaza City bombed by Israeli forces. Reuters reported that the organisation accused Israel of delaying ambulance access to the hit area and demanded it grant safe access for Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances to return to evacuate more wounded.
“This is a shocking incident,” said Pierre Wettach, ICRC chief for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
“The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded,” he said.
In unusually strong terms, the neutral agency said it believed Israel had breached international humanitarian law in the incident.
In a written response, the Israeli army said it works in coordination with international aid bodies assist civilians and that it “in no way intentionally targets civilians”.
Yesterday Cardinal Renato Martino, an aide to the Pope, criticised Israel for its offensive in Gaza and called Gaza ‘a big concentration camp’.
Today Israel condemned the comparison. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told Reuters that “We are astounded to hear from a spiritual dignitary words that are so far removed from truth and dignity. The vocabulary of Hamas propaganda, coming from a member of the College of Cardinals, is a shocking and disappointing phenomenon.”
The Times of London reports that there is now a question mark ‘over Pope Benedict XVI’s planned trip to Israel in May’.
The Pope today condemned the use of violence again saying “Once again I would repeat that military options are no solution and that violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned.”