Sunday, September 29, 2013

Christianity becoming extinct in its birthplace

MIDDLE EAST historian Tom Holland told a briefing in London last night that the world is watching the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace.

In an apocalyptic appraisal of the worsening political situation in the region, a panel of experts provided a mass of evidence and statistics for the end of the region’s nation states under the onslaught of militant Islam. 

‘In terms of the sheer scale of the hatreds and sectarian rivalries, we are witnessing something on the scale of horror of the European Thirty Years War,’ said Holland.

‘It is the climax of a process grinding its way through the twentieth century – the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace.’
The event titled ‘Reporting the Middle East: Why the truth is getting lost’ at the National Liberal Club in Whitehall, sought answers to the ‘anaemic’ coverage of attacks on Egypt’s Christians on 14 August.

Pre-planned destruction of scores of ancient churches, monasteries, schools, orphanages and businesses had gone unreported for days across the West, Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute Religious Freedom Centre in Washington said.

After the Islamists swept multiple elections during the first revolution in 2011, US newspapers asking how it would change Egypt suggested merely that women would be prohibited from wearing skimpy clothes, and Sharm el-Sheikh would close as a tourist destination.

This was ‘utterly trivial’ she said.  Persecution of Copts, who dated their church to Gospel writer St Mark in Alexandria, was at its worst since the fourteenth century, with ‘horrific levels of violence’.

‘It has been the worst persecution in 700 years against the oldest, largest remaining Christian minority in the Middle East.’ 

The media had failed to ask the most basic questions, she said.  ‘Why were the Copts singled out, what was the significance and purpose of the attacks?’ 
A fourth-century church dedicated to St Mary – whom Muslims were supposed to revere – and that was a UNESCO World Heritage site, had been destroyed and designated as a Muslim prayer space.  

It was 200 years older than the Bamyan Statues in Afghanistan, yet the mainstream media had ignored its demise.

Yet there was enough evidence to show that the violence was part of a plan to ‘drive out the Copts, to terrorise them into leaving’, she added.

Lapido Chief Executive Dr Jenny Taylor who organized the event which was co-hosted with foreign policy think tank Henry Jackson Society, said the media’s job was impeded by ‘secular blinders’.

They tended to report the Middle East’s religions as a ‘variant of a Westminster debate’ with ‘left-wing underdogs versus right-wing overdogs and the Christians getting lumped in with the overdogs if they get mentioned at all.’

Holland said Egypt was not a developing nation, which needed help to emerge as a Western democracy but had been the world’s first state, with a civilization on a level with China and Iran.  In Roman times, it had been the world’s bread basket.

Now it was the single largest importer of wheat anywhere on the planet.
The audience which packed the National Liberal Club’s David Lloyd George Room in Whitehall, heard a litany of atrocities and devastation covered by Arabic-speaking foreign correspondent Betsy Hiel of the Pittsburgh Tribune, on the ground in Cairo throughout both revolutions.

The Coptic Church in UK’s General Bishop Angaelos, former secretary to the predecessor Pope Shenouda, spoke in detail of distortions in media coverage that were mere presuppositions aggravating the situation on the ground.
Some reports had even suggested Egypt was undergoing a civil war - absurdly referring to a 'field hospital' in a mosque in the 'leafiest', most affluent part of Cairo.

'Egypt will never have a civil war.  Its demographics just don't fit that scenario.'
Muslims had often protected Christians. The church and civil society together were against the extremists.  Many Muslims had turned against the Brotherhood when it became clear there was no economic plan.

In answer to a question from the floor he agreed there had been what felt like ‘silence’ from Western churches, governments and indeed Western Muslims after the attacks, which belied Islamist propaganda that the West colluded with Christians. 

Shea also spoke about Syria.

Christians in Syria were now ‘caught in the middle’, she said.  There was a shadow war against them by rebels, with jihadis and al-Qaeda factions deliberately attacking Christians. 

‘When they conquer a town they set up sharia courts and mini sharia states.  The Christians are fleeing.  Given the choice to be killed or to leave, they leave.  If they stay, the jizya tax is imposed, and then raised.  If they cannot pay they are killed.’

She said Christians dared not go to refugee camps run by rebels as they would be recruited to fight. 

The so-called Damascus Plan drafted by the Free Syrian Army for after the war ends, included retribution killings against any who did not oppose Assad.


While Christian population dwindles in Muslim Middle East, it thrives in Israel

First, while the Christian population is diminishing throughout the Middle East, including the Palestinian areas, the opposite is true in Israel. The Christian population throughout the Middle East has been declining for decades. In 1914, Christians constituted 26.4 percent of the total population in what today is Israel, the Palestinian areas, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, while by 2005 they represented at most 9.2 percent 

The exception to this regional trend is Israel, where the Christian population has thrived.

As documented in the Central Bureau of Statistics' Statistical Abstract of Israel 2008, in the last dozen years, Israel's Christian population grew from 120,600 in 1995 to 151,600 in 2007, representing a growth rate of 25 percent. In fact, the Christian growth rate has outpaced the Jewish growth in Israel in the last 12 years! In 1995, there were 4,522,300 Jews in Israel, and in 2007 there were 5,478,2000, representing a growth rate of 21 percent – 4 percent less than the Christian population grew during the same time....  for the complete article

Friday, September 20, 2013


Remember when Gaza was an “open air prison,” as the Huffington Post called it? Remember when the tunnels, smuggling terrorists and weaponry in and out of the Strip, were “a legitimate trade and passenger route, one that is necessary for survival,” according to The New York Times?

That was when Israel was trucking in tons of goods and the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was open.

Well, Israel is still trucking food, medicine, clothing, construction materials and other supplies into Gaza. Last week, September 8-14, Israel sent 1,428 trucks carrying 38,545 tons of goods into the Palestinian enclave. So what’s changed? Egypt is cracking down on Gaza, that’s what.

Then how come you don’t hear much about the suffering of Gaza residents? Because it can’t be blamed on Israel.

IRIN, the Integrated Regional Information Networks, describes itself as an editorially independent, non-profit project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). On September 17, IRIN reported:
Residents and officials in Gaza say the repeated closures of the border crossing into Egypt, a key lifeline for Palestinians in the occupied territories, is destroying livelihoods, harming health and lowering basic living conditions.

The border crossing at Rafah has now been closed for seven consecutive days - the second sustained closure in the past few weeks - following instability in the Sinai region on the Egyptian side of the border.

A reopening is promised tomorrow, Wednesday, but the closures, reduced operating hours and the crackdown on smuggling tunnels are squeezing the country’s most important supply line.

The closures, along with the large-scale destruction of smuggling tunnels that were a major supply route into Gaza, are leading to shortages and higher prices for basic goods.

CHA estimates that fewer than 10 tunnels are operational, down from 50 in previous weeks and 300 before June [when demonstrations erupted in Egypt, culminating in the removal of President Mohamed Morsi].

So, Egypt –which is not trucking supplies into Gaza– closes the Rafah crossing and shuts down the smuggling tunnels that are “necessary for survival”. Naturally you’ve read about this in The New York Times and the Huffington Post. No?

Ahram Online, the Egyptian news Web site, reported on statements by Ahmed Ali, spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces:

According to Ali, the army has arrested around 309 militants and confiscated a number of munitions, including mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
He added that some of the confiscated hand grenades bear the stamp of Al-Qassam brigades –the militant wing of Gaza’s Islamist ruling party Hamas.
“Hamas is also responsible for securing the borders,” said Ali, who added that houses placed on the border with the Gaza strip are a threat to national security.

Ali stated that while no buffer zone has been declared between Sinai and Gaza yet, the army is securing a distance of between 500 meters and 1 kilometer at the border.

Gaza exports terrorism and terrorists to Egypt and Egypt cracks down. Egypt destroys smuggling tunnels, closes the crossing, and secures territory on the border. Naturally, human rights activists around the world are planning large-scale demonstrations and setting off on their protest ships. No?

The Arab press, Jewish and Israeli media have covered this story. To their credit, there has been some reporting on this subject by United Press International but it has not been picked up by most of the popular press which has given it precious little attention.

When Israel tries to protect its citizens from thousands of rockets, missiles and terrorist attacks from Gaza, there’s a hue and cry, outrage and indignation. When Egypt responds to terrorism in the Sinai… Where are the protests? Where are the flotillas? And for heaven’s sake, where’s the coverage?

Setting sail for Egypt? Don’t hold your breath.


(1) There is little western coverage because the situation is nuanced and the west prefers the good vs. evil narrative. Whereas with the present situation between Gaza and Egypt it is hard to assign which is which: both bad, both good.

(2) Why no Flotilla's to Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia etc where thousands of civilians have been murdered in the last few months by Muslims killing Muslims. Why, cause they cant blame the JOOOOOOOOOOS

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Google propagates libels against Israel

This with thanks to Stand With US.

Libels are propagated via the social media by anyone who has his own agenda and picks on stories without checking.

Look at the case below. An OXFAM tweeter makes a claim which is followed up by others, only later to realise that there is no truth in the story and a correction is published.

However, as far as Google search engines are concerned the original claim remains. Google still offers the original false claim.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter to UK Parliamentary Representative

The letter below from a correspondent in the UK to his parliamentary representative, sets out clearly the utter hypocrisy in the EU in basically defining Israel's future borders without any negotiation as set out in the Oslo accords.

With interference in the negotiations currently taking place, why should the Palestinians negotiate?

As a voter in your EU London constituency, I want to draw your attention to the imminent danger of  the EU attempting to shackle Israel's participation in Horizon 2020, the $80 billion EU research funding programme.

As Dore Gold, the eminent Israeli diplomat, has pointed out : quite apart from the disastrous effects for the sizeable Palestinian workforce and for the Peace process, this motion makes the EU appear not just biased, but hypocritical.

I quote :  "the new trend in Israeli-European relations is particularly outrageous because it is built on the establishment of a clear double standard. Take EU policy on Morocco.

In 2005, the EU and Morocco signed an international agreement allowing European fishermen to operate in Moroccan waters. Did the agreement apply to the territorial waters of Western Sahara, which was claimed by Morocco, but not recognized as Moroccan territory by the international community, including the states of the EU ?  In 1975, the International Court of Justice in The Hague determined that Morocco did not have sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Yet, in the EU-Moroccan fishing agreement, there is a provision allowing European fishermen to operate in the waters of Western Sahara. Fishing is a lucrative business. Morocco stands to gain at least 40 million euros in annual fishing fees. All funds from European fishermen have been going to Morocco.

Hans Correll, the former legal adviser to the U.N., attacked EU officials for allowing such an agreement. What makes the Moroccan case glaring is the fact that the latest EU guidelines on Israel explicitly state that "their aim is to ensure respect of EU positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the EU of Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967." But in the case of Morocco, the EU is not applying this standard, but is going ahead with an agreement, regardless of how it views the question of sovereignty in Western Sahara.

{Again,} while the EU strenuously objects to supporting any Israeli presence in the West Bank because of its legal status, it nonetheless allows European citizens to purchase beachfront vacation homes in the territory of Northern Cyprus that was occupied by Turkey in 1974. No punitive measures have been contemplated against Turkey because of conflict over the future status of this disputed territory. Europe supports a resolution of the Cyprus problem, without using the same economic levers it is employing in the Israeli case.

An analysis of the European Union's negotiations with India over a Free Trade Agreement also shows that there is no demand to say that it will only apply to territories in which India's sovereignty is not disputed. The EU has encouraged India and Pakistan to resolve their dispute over Kashmir. A study by a Pakistani legal scholar of the EU-Indian trade negotiations points out that previously concluded free trade agreements with other countries "do not impose binding conditions in respect of particular geopolitical disputes". True, the EU has employed economic sanctions against rogue states like Iran and North Korea. But it does not use economic leverage against friendly countries engaged in territorial disputes.

Looking at how the EU treats other territorial disputes, Israel has good reasons to be enraged with EU policy. The EU went ahead and issued this new policy just as Israel was making tough concessions, including the release of convicted Palestinian prisoners, to set the stage for new peace talks. Both the substance and the timing of what the Europeans were doing drew bitter criticism across much of the Israeli political spectrum, and the move is likely to have a long-term impact on Israeli-European relations.

But Israel does have hopes for something better. An adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel told The Jerusalem Post last month that European cooperation with Israel in research and development in the EU's Horizon 2020 program is a European interest and not just an Israeli interest.

The background to the EU's program with Israel is the need for Europe to improve its global competitiveness and increase jobs and economic growth on the continent after years of sluggish growth. The Horizon 2020 program is not a European handout to Israel, but a joint initiative by which Israel puts up funds by itself and receives 1.6 euros for joint research and development for every euro it puts in.

Because of its scientific prowess, Israel is the only non-European country to have been invited to take part in this program. The Europeans knew what they were doing in inviting Israel. Economists recognize that knowledge-based industries are the fastest-growing portion of the global economy, and serve as engines for economic growth. These are precisely the technological fields in which Israel leads, and which Europe needs. In their book  Start-Up Nation, Dan Senor and Saul Singer quote an American high-tech executive who admits that for companies like Google, Microsoft, and Intel, "the best-kept secret is that we all live and die by the work of our Israeli teams."

Europe and Israel both benefit from this cooperation and both have much to lose by its politicization by EU bureaucrats in Brussels.

Then there is the issue of Israel's offshore gas fields. Europe presently imports most of its gas from Russia and from North Africa. David Wurmser used to serve as a Middle East expert for the U.S. vice president's office and later advised Noble Energy, which is involved in Israeli gas exploration. He points out in a paper for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that there are today five existing or planned pipelines connecting Europe with the gas of North Africa. Four of the pipelines come through Algeria, which is facing growing threats from al-Qaida affiliates. Elsewhere in the Middle East, as in Sinai, they have shown their readiness to sabotage such pipelines. Having another source of gas from Israel could be critical for Europe, if some of its current energy sources become unreliable or even unavailable.

Wurmser concludes that Israel may make Asia its preferred export destination, and not Europe. This is a decision Israel will have to make as it decides how to build its energy infrastructure. If Europe begins to present itself as an unreliable trading partner, many more Israeli statesmen will adopt the idea of making Asia into Israel's preferred market for its gas exports.

Israel and the EU need to get past this problematic period in their relationship. A great deal is at stake for both sides.

Finally, a purely practical point. The osmosis between Israel and the West Bank is vital for the Palestinians. The economy of the West Bank is almost wholly reliant on Israeli willingness to employ Palestinian workers. This week, Israel issued a further 5,000 work permits to West Bank Arabs to work in Israel, where 35,000 already work legally, and maybe as many more without permits. This means that some 300,000 Palestinian men, women and children depend on well-paid work in Israel. And in the West Bank, the Palestinians not lucky enough to have non-jobs with UNWRA or the P.A. kleptocracy have no source of earnings to approach what they earn working in the settlements. If the EU strangle the Jewish settlements, it will be Arab children who starve.

Please urge your colleagues to think again.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Israel’s secret doctors

 The story of Israeli doctors treating the Syrians either at field hospitals on the border or in Israeli hospitals raises the question of why, if the Syrian crisis is an internal Arab affair, why are we not seeing the Arab countries putting their money where their mouths ofgten are and support the humanitarian efforts on behalf of the injured? As is the case of the Palestinian refugees, the Arab Staters in the region sit back and let the West and the USA provide the vast bulk of the funds for UNWRA.
Below, is the story of the reaiity on the ground

To help refugees from the Syrian war, Israeli doctors and aid workers must do their work furtively. When they go into refugee camps in Jordan, they change clothes so that they can fade into the background. They must be smuggled in and out. They don’t tell others where they’re going and when they go home they usually don’t say where they have been. Above all, they don’t want anyone to know the names of their patients.
They move “under the radar,” in the words of a clandestine organization in this field. When they treat Syrians in Israeli hospitals, they make sure no visiting journalist learns details that will identify the patients to authorities back in Syria.
Usually, Israel is glad to announce when it contributes to emergency relief. The case of Syrian aid is different.
Syria does not recognize Israel and forbids its citizens to go there. Israeli doctors are not welcome in Jordan, where their work has been denounced as a violation of Jordanian sovereignty. And Israel is anxious not to be involved in the Syrian civil war. It does nothing, officially, that could make it look like the medical corps of the rebellion.
For Syrians the possibility that their own government will punish them adds to the horror of their situation. This summer, in Nahariya, Israel, near the Golan Heights, scores of patients have been covertly brought across the border from Syria to be treated by Israeli doctors.
For patients’ friends or relatives, Israel becomes a last hope when no Syrian medical help is available. Masad Barhoum, clinical director at Western Galilee Medical Center, recently told an NBC reporter that many patients arrive unconscious. “When they wake up and find that they are in Israel they are anxious and afraid.”
A Syrian woman in the hospital said that she came to Israel because her daughter was hit by a sniper’s bullet. “The hospital in my town was destroyed. They saved her here, but now I am afraid to go back. We will be marked.”
An Israeli organization, iL4Syrians, operates anonymously in Syria and other desperate countries. Providing food and medical supplies for those who need them, it relies on secrecy to protect both its local contacts and its own practitioners. Its web site identifies no directors or staff but carries a defiant slogan: “Nobody asks permission to kill. We do not ask permission to save lives.”
They explain that “We focus on countries that lack diplomatic relations with Israel, transcending differences.” They argue that a respect for the sanctity of human life expresses Jewish tradition and culture. As they see it, this applies to Israel’s toughest and cruelest enemies as well as anyone else.
Since all of these efforts are unofficial and unrecorded, no one can say how many Israelis are involved. I was alerted to this phenomenon by one of the regular letters of Tom Gross, an astute British-born commentator on the Middle East.
Gross has a 15-minute film showing a couple of days spent by an aid group visiting refugees. The refugees don’t expect them to arrive and are surprised when they learn that their benefactors are Israelis. That makes some of them nervous but in the film others say in Arabic “May God bless Israel.”
The team takes along a professional clown to perform for the children while food is being handed out; in one camp, however, the adults briefly riot over limited supplies. A journalist asks one of the aid workers, “Do people call you crazy?” She answers: “Not many people know.”
Information about this work has to be pieced together from fragments of journalism, like a paragraph in an Israeli/Arabic paper: “The Arab countries offer condolences but the best role is provided by the Israelis because they are crossing the border to provide assistance to the refugees, risking their lives without a word of thank you.”
These are dark days for much of the world, dreadfully dark for Syrians. Few can even imagine a solution that does not involve even more tragedy for them. W.H. Auden, in his poem “September 1, 1939” described an even darker time and offered the only advice that made sense to him: “Show an affirming flame.”

As Jews celebrate the start of the new year, it’s worth noting that these Israeli humanitarians have found a way to make their flame burn with a brave affirmation.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Israeli Health Care of Palestinians

Once again Israel is coming under attack from a foreign government financed NGO, this time claiming Israel is ignoring its humanitarian obligations with regard to the taking care of the health of the Palestinians.

In spite of the constant calls for Israel’s destruction and the culture of hatred and demonization that permeates Palestinian society at all levels, Israel is, in fact, meeting its humanitarian obligations in respect of the Palestinians, albeit under circumstances fraught with danger.

FACT - Israel Hospitals Took Care of Nearly 220,000 PA Arabs in 2012, including Suhila Abd el-Salam, the sister of Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied her husband for treatment in Israel. Her husband was admitted to Bellinson Hospital, in Petach Tikvah, for immediate medical treatment following a serious heart condition. Haniyeh’s sister and her husband requested permission to travel to Israel to receive the necessary medical treatment because Gaza hospitals could not properly treat the condition. This was not the only time that a Gaza resident was treated in Israel.

FACT – in the same WHO report referred to by MAP, published in 2012, there is a description of the coordination and liaison efforts invested by Israel and COGAT to facilitate the entry of Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. The key data presented in the report show that 91.5% of the applications which were filed, asking for medical treatment in Israel, were ultimately approved, 7.2% are pending security check and only 1.3% of the applications were rejected, demonstrating the importance and urgency ascribed to such applications by Israel.

FACT – there was a 10 percent increase in the number of Palestinian Authority Arabs who received treatment in Israeli hospitals in 2012. The total number of 219,464 patients, 21,270 of them children, includes the companions accompanying the patients in Israel.

FACT - 197,713 patients were treated in Israeli hospitals in 2011

FACT -  144,838 were treated in 2008.

FACT -  COGAT, a military unit which is responsible for implementing the Israeli Government’s policy in Judea and Samaria, stated, “The Civil Administration, through its health department (HDCA), works closely with the Palestinian Ministry of Health to support the medical needs of the Palestinian population throughout Judea and Samaria.” The HDCA manages all issues relating to Israeli-Palestinian healthcare coordination, primarily the transfer of Palestinian patients to hospitals in Israel.

FACT - The HDCA further works to enable professional medical training for Palestinian Authority Arabs by Israel through the encouragement of medical conferences and the training of Palestinian medical staff in Israeli hospitals. Training sessions take place several times a year, initiated by both the HDCA and the Palestinian Authority. In 2012, the Civil Administration paid $560,000 to send PA Arab doctors, nurses, and paramedics for training in Israel.

FACT - The Civil Administration has also set aside a budget to finance critical medical procedures for patients who are not covered by Palestinian or UNRWA health insurance and are not able to pay privately. 

FACT - during 2012, the Civil Administration financed life-saving medical treatments for 20 Palestinian children (marrow transplants, kidney transplants, purchase of a pump for P.N.T., prenatal diagnosis, impaired intestine surgery and baby obstruction) and more medical treatments worth more than 1,500,000 NIS per year.
FACT - in March this year, a 15-year-old boy in Gaza was transported to the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot after suffering from severe burns and shrapnel injuries from an alleged rocket launching pad that was set up in Jabalya, a neighborhood in northern Gaza.

FACT - The Palestinian Minister of Health, Dr. Hanni Abadin, paid an unprecedented visit to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem at the beginning of this past May. Dr. Yuval Weiss, director of the hospital, reported that at any given moment there are some 60 Palestinian Authority medical personnel in training at the hospital. Dr. Abadin thanked Hadassah for the opportunity to visit and for its services, visited Arab children hospitalized at Hadassah and gave them gifts. The Civil Administration Health Department declared that it will continue in 2013 to cooperate closely with their PA counterparts and international organizations in Judea and Samaria to advance healthcare for the benefit of all residents in the region.

Why is it necessary to review all requests for medical treatment?

There is abuse of medical documentation by Palestinians

On several occasions, Gaza Palestinian patients have taken advantage of medical certificates giving them the right to travel to Israeli or West Bank hospitals, to prepare suicide or other attacks. A dossier of these plans has been published on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website in a report dated 20 January 2008 , entitled ‘Abuse of Humanitarian Policy for the Purpose of Terrorist Activity'. For instance:-

•  In June 2005, 21 year old Wafa Al-Biss was arrested at the Erez Crossing point out of Gaza with an explosive belt strapped to her body. She was an outpatient at Israel 's Soroka hospital, whose emergency unit had saved her life some months earlier following serious burns injuries she had suffered in an accident in her kitchen. Al-Biss confessed to planning to bomb the hospital during one of her outpatient appointments – a plan which prompted widespread outrage (see Briefing 146, quoted above)

•  In September 2004 Suhad Aslan, was sent by the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in the Gaza Strip to carry out a suicide bombing in Israel , after she required medical treatment in the Al-Muqaddas hospital in Jerusalem . The plan had been for her to rendezvous with the bomb planners at the hospital who would instruct her where to go to carry out the attack. Israeli security personnel arrested her before the attack could be carried out
Such incidents compel the Israeli authorities carefully to check the requests of Palestinian patients seeking to enter Israel for hospital treatment. The bureaucracy and delays that regrettably result are entirely the responsibility of those who abuse the medical treatment route into Israel to plan terrorist attacks.

Israeli shuttle service to Jordan or Egypt for Palestinians denied entry
As a result of the security vetting procedures which Israel has no choice but to apply, 10%of Gaza Palestinians applying for permits to enter Israel have been refused entry (statement by head of COGAT, reported in Jerusalem Post, 1 April 2008 ).

It was also confirmed that all Palestinians who are denied entry into Israel are given the opportunity to take an Israeli shuttle to the Allenby Bridge and cross into Jordan , or else go down to the crossing with Egypt .

World Health Organisation accusations, and Israel 's refutation

In March 2008, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a report which accused Israel of being “inhumane” in its dealings with Gaza Palestinians who wish to enter Israel for medical treatment.

The WHO report was launched by the head of WHO in Gaza who relied upon five case studies of Palestinians allegedly allowed to die by Israel as a result of them being denied access to the country. The head of COGAT, responded the next day by holding a press conference (which was reported in the Jerusalem Post on 1 April 2008) where he demonstrated that all five of the Palestinians allegedly allowed to die had in fact received permits to enter Israel for medical treatment.

Press explained that two of the Palestinians cited by WHO had been treated in Israeli hospitals. The other three never used their permits due to what Press described as “internal Palestinian considerations”.

Why do the Palestinians or Hamas use the health of the citizens as a political tool?
               a) Hamas accused by the Palestinian health ministry of seizing fuel destined
                   for Gaza hospitals
Palestinian policies not only make it harder for Palestinians to access Israeli hospitals, but they even harm Palestinian hospitals. Hamas was recently accused of diverting fuel destined to be delivered to Gaza hospitals. The condemnation was issued not by Israel , but by the Palestinian health ministry :

“Members of Hamas in the Gaza Strip opened fire on Sunday 29 April on fuel trucks that were full of fuel destined for hospitals in the territory….”
(Press release by the Palestinian Health Ministry, and reported by AFP (Agence France Presse), 29 April 2008 )

               b) EU condemnation of Hamas for aggravating the humanitarian situation
The EU recently issued a statement (reported in the Jerusalem Post, 28 April 2008 ) condemning Hamas for its role in worsening the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians in Gaza :-

“Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have their share in aggravating the humanitarian situation, including through carrying out attacks on the crossing points… the EU president condemns such actions, which only lead to further suffering of the population…”

               c) Other Palestinian actions which damage the Palestinians in Gaza
Many other Palestinian actions harm the Palestinians of Gaza, including the cutting off or diversion of fuel supplies from Israel; the smuggling into Gaza of explosives under cover of EU humanitarian relief; and the use of hospitals and school premises in Gazan towns to assemble weapons, and launch missile and other attacks.

d) Hamas Prevents Arabs in Gaza from Medical Treatment in Israel
Hamas punishes Gaza's citizens for its row with Fatah by refusing to allow them to receive medical treatment in Israel.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Not "Just" Attack with Gas

Arlene Kushner Sept 1st 2013 

The "just" is being employed advisedly, of course.  But the fact of the matter is that there is more than one horrendous way for Assad to attack civilians associated with rebel forces. 
This past Thursday, information came out from Syria via BBC journalists that was picked up by very few news sources. I would have thought it would have been screamed from the rafters, but either it is "ho hum" or is simply running under the radar. 
My betting is that you haven't heard about this:
It was the end of a school day in the north of Syria, and, reportedly, a fighter jet overhead flew back and forth looking for a target (i.e., place where a group of people is assembled).  The one the pilot decided upon was the yard of a high school, where groups of teenagers just dismissed from a day at school were lingering.
What he dropped on the kids was some sort of "napalm-like" incendiary bomb that caused horrendous burning.  Ten young people were dead and many more injured, "writhing in agony."
The aftermath of the attack was filmed. The BBC link is here although I advise you not to look at the video portion unless you have a strong stomach.

The "fighter jet" wasn't identified by the BBC journalists as belonging to Assad's forces, but certainly it did.  The rebel forces don't have fighter jets.  The location of the attack, an area where those supporting the rebel forces are found, makes this even more clear. According to the Independent (UK) the attack took place in Aleppo. 
Credit : BBC Panorama

It is only days ago that there were Americans saying that the military warning to Assad to stop using gas had to be delivered soon because there was fear of another gas attack, with the most likely target Aleppo.
After I viewed the video, I confess that I responded viscerally:  My first thought was that Assad's head had to be bombed off.  Of course that probably would not be possible because he's hiding in a bunker. 
I make no apology for that initial emotional response to such gross and shocking inhumanity.  But, in short order, I began to think more rationally again, with regard to the wisdom -- within the full context of the situation -- of taking the Assad regime down.  There are a lot of people calling for this -- not because of the incendiary bomb, but for broader reasons regarding a weakening of Iran.
What has shocked me is how little the world has paid attention to this latest attack by the Assad regime.  Evidence seems clear in the video, but if further confirmation is required, let journalists begin to investigate.
And here I would suggest that you, my readers, can be a vehicle for spreading the word of the reports on what is going on.  
If you cannot definitively say, "Assad's air force dropped an incendiary bomb that burned young people to death," although there is an exceedingly good likelihood that this is precisely what happened, then you can say just that: There is a good likelihood of this having happened as reported, and it's important for people to know, to pursue the matter, and to raise their voices loudly.
For the record, use of an incendiary bomb is forbidden by international law, on a humanitarian basis.  I've checked this with an international lawyer.  Alan Baker, my frequent "go to" on such issues. As I said, it's not "just" gas.
Use the BBC link, or the Independent link, or both, for confirmation.  Put this up on websites, and on discussion groups, and ask why the world is not responding with horror. 
Equally shocking to me (I suppose I should no longer be shocked but I haven't learned to move past this) is how brazen Assad is.  Defying all norms established by the international community with regard to humanity, he proceeds blithely even as he knows he is being watched
He is thumbing his nose at the world, confident that he can proceed without paying a price. And this is precisely why he must pay a price.
Now to Barak Obama, and his statement last night. 
I make a public confession.  For one fleeting moment, after I heard that he was going to address the American people, I imagined that he was going to say that there had been sufficient justification for action in Syria in any event, but now with evidence of an attack on young people with an incendiary bomb, the case is even stronger.
Silly me... I was quickly brought back to the reality: Obama is a coward who has made a fool of himself.
According to unattributed sources within the administration, Obama's turn-around on speedy action in Syria was made unilaterally at the last moment.  Advisers gathered expecting to discuss details of the attack, only to be told that the plans had changed.  Understand that he is not surrounded by advisors we would call "right wing" or "hawks."  And yet they were on board for moving on Syria.
According to the Wall Street Journal, which carried this story, Obama's change of mind was facilitated by reassurance he received from chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who said that the timing of the attack did not matter: Whether strikes were launched tomorrow, or a week from now, or a month from now, the military would be able to ensure the effectiveness of the operation. he reportedly maintained.
I take strong issue with Dempsey on this.  What he is saying -- if indeed he said this as reported -- is akin to nonsense. Already too much time has elapsed, and too much has been said by the president. 
There are reports of military equipment being moved in Syria away from the places the US is most likely to attack.  Reuters, for example, reported on some missiles and launching equipment being moved from a key military site last week as a "precautionary measure":
Other reports have alluded to precautionary troop movements.
What is worse, there are multiple reports of prison inmates being moved by bus, by the thousands, to those sites most likely to be targeted -- to serve as human shields.  This is also in defiance of international law.
And Dempsey maintains that the timing is irrelevant here?
Obama's reluctance to act against Syria has been evident from the start, whatever the surface bravado of his words.  He has now surrendered to that unease -- which was exacerbated by the negative response of the British Parliament and Cameron's subsequent pull out.
He has fallen back on the excuse that it will be more of a "democratic" process if he permits Congress to debate the issue and then vote on it.  (Obama: the champion of democratic process.) For the record: this is not required of him by law, as he is not declaring war on Syria; there is ample precedent for the sort of action he was supposed to take.
Congress is not scheduled to re-convene after its summer recess until the 9th of September.  That is when the debate will begin; who knows when the vote will be held.
There is mixed opinion here: Is Obama hoping that the Congress will vote against, so that he is off the hook?  Or is he looking for support so that he isn't going it alone?  He says he intends to attack Syria eventually; but if Congress is opposed? 
My contempt for all of this is boundless.
I will note here that the argument is being made that with the delay Obama will at least have access to the findings of the UN team that went to the site of the gas bombing and came out with samples -- and thus will his case be bolstered.  I find this a bit of nonsense as well.  For it has already been concluded that there was a gas attack.  If the UN now says the blood samples show there was a gas attack, how does this make Obama's case stronger?
The issue (allegedly) was one of being sure that Assad ordered the attack.  But the UN team's blood samples will not provide evidence of this.
A case can be made that the longer the delay, the less the sense of immediacy, the easier to dispense with it all together. 
Coming full circle, there is also concern about additional attacks against the Syrian population that Assad will pursue with great equanimity if has not been attacked.  If the whole point is to warn him that his current behavior will not be tolerated, then he has to be warned, does he not?
In fact, Obama's delay is causing Assad to feel even more emboldened.
Here in Israel, where criticism of Obama is strong, it is being said that Netanyahu now knows he cannot count on Obama on Iran.
My own opinion is that Netanyahu, who is not foolish, figured this out a long, long time ago. 
Perhaps there are others, either here in Israel or elsewhere in the Middle East, who have now been disabused of any notion that Obama is someone to be depended upon.  Neither the government of Israel nor that of other countries such as Saudi Arabia, eager for the attack, were informed in advance of Obama's change in plans. The president's credibility has sunk to a new low.
What is certain is that in Iran, they're sniggering.
What I would like to suggest is that, if you are an American, you contact your representatives in Congress now, as they prepare to convene for the big debate. 
Tell them that before they vote, they should be aware of the evidence of an incendiary bomb attack by the Assad regime on Syrian teenagers.  Provide the BBC link, complete with video.
For your Congresspersons:
For your Senators:
You might want to see Alan Baker's comments for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on the situation in Syria.  He is taking a broad international position:
Credit: cjnews
Lastly, let me share an upbeat article from the JPost Magazine about Israeli medical care provided to Syrians wounded in their horrendous civil war. This is the sort of article not only to read and share, but to save in order to refute malicious charges against Israel: