Posted by: Lister | October 24, 2010

Inquiry into Samouni attack

Back in January 2009, during operation Cast Lead, the Samouni family were evacuated by the IDF into a building which was then shelled by the Israelis: Evacuees Shelled.

The Independent has an update, regarding the inquiry into the event.

Israeli military police are investigating whether an air strike which killed 21 members of the same family sheltering in a building during the Army’s Gaza offensive in 2008-9 was authorised by a senior brigade commander who had been warned of the danger to civilians.

[…] The missile attack, which also injured 19 people, came early in the ground offensive. According to many Palestinian witnesses, it came after troops in the Givati brigade ordered dozens of family members, including women and children, to move to the building the previous day.

[…] One of the five initial investigations, under Israel Defence Forces Col. Tamir Yadi, specifically covered “claims regarding incidents in which many uninvolved civilians were harmed” and reportedly did not conclude that there had been anything unusual about the Samouni strike. This was despite graphic and largely consistent accounts by numerous Palestinian witnesses to human rights organisations, Israeli and international media, including The Independent, of the strike on the building. These said that, with those in the building cold, hungry and thirsty, a few men had left the building on the freezing early morning of 5 January in order to find wood to make a fire to make tea and to bake bread, but also to urge another relative nearby to join them in what they thought was a safe refuge. They are said to have regarded the nearby presence of soldiers as a protection.

The IDF declined to confirm a report that Yoav Galant, the outgoing head of Southern Command and the new Chief of Staff Designate, had opposed the military police investigation on the Samouni case.

[…] One of the questions which the current military police investigation will presumably have to decide is how it was – even if Col Malka was not specifically warned that civilians were present before the attack was authorised – that he did not know: why the war room from which the Givati operation was being run was not told the previous day that unarmed civilians, including women and children, had been ordered to move to Wael Samouni’s house.

Posted by: Lister | April 1, 2010

Jerusalem Quartet

Tony Greenstein was part of a group of people who disrupted a performance of the Jerusalem Quartet at the Wigmore Hall.

The discussion in the comments is also interesting. And, yes, politics knows no bounds. I approve.

Posted by: Lister | January 13, 2010

Iraq War had no basis in international law

That is the verdict of a Dutch panel. The Guardian:

In a series of damning findings, a seven-member panel in the Netherlands concluded that the war, which was supported by the Dutch government following intelligence from Britain and the US, had not been justified in law.

“The Dutch government lent its political support to a war whose purpose was not consistent with Dutch government policy,” the inquiry in the Hague concluded. “The military action had no sound mandate in international law.”

The British refused to release a letter, from Blair to the Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkanende.

“It was a surprise for our committee when we discovered information about this letter,” said Rob Sebes, a spokesman for the Dutch inquiry. “It was not sent with a normal procedure between countries – instead it was a personal message from Tony Blair to our prime minister Jan Peter Balkanende, and had to be returned and not stored in our archives.

“We asked the British government to hand over the letter but they refused,” Sebes said.

[…] The findings have prompted controversy in the Netherlands, where Balkenende has so far resisted calls for a formal parliamentary inquiry into his government’s decision to back the war.

However, the report is likely to influence analysis of the events in the UK, experts say, with senior judicial figures among those concerned that the Chilcot inquiry lacks the expertise on issues of legality in comparison to the Dutch panel.

“The findings of the Dutch inquiry that the war had no basis in international law are even more important for a domestic audience in Britain,” said Sands. “I do not see how the five members of the Chilcot inquiry, none of whom is legally qualified, could possibly summon the means to reach an alternative conclusion.”

The BBC:

The inquiry was launched after foreign ministry memos were leaked that cast doubt on the legal basis for the war.

The Netherlands gave political support to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but had no military role.

[…] Mr Balkenende decided to join the “coalition of the willing” assembled by US President George W Bush because, he said, Saddam Hussein had consistently flouted UN resolutions and possessed weapons of mass destruction.

The Dutch parliament opposed the decision to back the invasion.

[…] The committee said there had been no UN mandate for the attack, putting the decision to join at odds with international law.

It said “the wording of [UN Security Council] Resolution 1441 cannot reasonably be interpreted as authorising individual member states to use military force”.

Posted by: Lister | January 2, 2010

Jalaluddin Haqqani

From the Independent:

Jalaluddin Haqqani, who visited the Reagan White House and was once described by Texas politician Charlie Wilson as “goodness personified”, is believed by some US officials to have ordered the attack from his hideout in neighbouring Pakistan.

His suspected role in the deadliest incident for CIA forces in 25 years highlights both the shifting nature of alliances forged by Western involvement in the region, and the difficulty of telling friend from foe in today’s conflict.

[…] During the 1980s, Mr Haqqani was a respected commander battling, with Western support, against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. After they withdrew, he became a member of the US-approved coalition that formed the post-occupation government.

Posted by: Lister | November 29, 2009

Anthrax attack


What makes this particularly significant is that the anthrax attack is unresolved and uninvestigated. The FBI claimed last year that it had identified the sole perpetrator, Bruce Ivins, but because Ivins is dead, they never had the opportunity — or the obligation — to prove their accusations in any meaningful tribunal.

The case against Ivins is so riddled with logical and evidentiary holes that it has generated extreme doubts not merely from typical government skeptics but from the most mainstream, establishment-revering, and ideologically disparate sources. Just consider some of the outlets and individuals who have stated unequivocally that the FBI’s case against Ivinis is unpersausive and requires a meaningful investigation:

  • The Washington Post Editorial Page;
  • The New York Times Editorial Page;
  • The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page;
  • the science journal Nature;
  • Senators Pat Leahy, Arlen Specter and Charles Grassley;
  • physicist and Congressman Rush Holt, whose New Jersey district was where the anthrax letters were sent;
  • Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation;
  • and a vast array of scientific and legal experts in the field.

See original for links.

Here we have one of the most consequential political events of the last decade at least — a lethal biological terrorist attack aimed at key U.S. Senators and media figures, which even the FBI claims originated from a U.S. military lab. The then-British Ambassador to the U.S. is now testifying what has long been clear: that this episode played a huge role in enabling the attack on Iraq.

Posted by: Lister | November 8, 2009

Gaza 1956 to 2004

An interesting post from Shalom Rav, comparing two arguments from 2004 and 1956.

Posted by: Lister | October 1, 2009

Iran wants to import enriched Uranium

From AFP:

“One of the subjects on the agenda of this negotiation is how we can get fuel for our Tehran reactor,” the president was quoted by ISNA news agency as saying.

“As I said in New York, we need 19.75 percent-enriched uranium. We said that, and we propose to buy it from anybody who is ready to sell it to us. We are ready to give 3.5 percent-enriched uranium and then they can enrich it more and deliver to us 19.75 percent-enriched uranium.”

In New York last week, Ahmadinejad said Iran would seek to enrich uranium to 20 percent itself if it could not find the product in the market for its research reactor in Tehran.

The five megawatt plant was supplied by the United States before the 1979 Islamic revolution that toppled the US-backed shah. The reactor is under IAEA supervision.

Russia has offered to be that third party, according to YNET.

Wiki has some data on the enrichment requirements of various reactors:

Low-enriched uranium’ (LEU) has a lower than 20% concentration of U-235. For use in commercial light water reactors (LWR), the most prevalent power reactors in the world, uranium is enriched to 3 to 5% U-235.

Fresh LEU used in research reactors is usually enriched 12% to 19.75% U-235…

Posted by: Lister | September 7, 2009

Review of Lancet 2006

The Lancet 2006 study was reviewed by the John Hopkins Centre, Feb 2009:

An examination was conducted of all the original data collection forms, numbering over 1,800 forms, which included review by a translator. The original forms have the appearance of authenticity in variation of handwriting, language and manner of completion. The information contained on the forms was validated against the two numerical databases used in the study analyses. These numerical databases have been available to outside researchers and provided to them upon request since April 2007.

Some minor, ordinary errors in transcription were detected, but they were not of variables that affected the study’s primary mortality analysis or causes of death. The review concluded that the data files used in the study accurately reflect the information collected on the original field surveys.

[…] A review of the original data collection forms revealed that researchers in the field used data collection forms that were different from the form included in the original protocol. The forms included space for the names of respondents or householders, which were recorded on many of the records. Use of the form and collection of names violated the study protocol submitted to the IRB and on which the IRB determined the study was exempt from full human subjects review.

[…] Because of violations of the Bloomberg School’s policies regarding human subjects research, the School has suspended Dr. Burnham’s privileges to serve as a principal investigator on projects involving human subjects research.

They didn’t evaluate methodology, because there are plenty of scientific forums for that.

(Via Tim Lambert).

Posted by: Lister | September 3, 2009

Norway divests from Israeli arms firm Elbit


Norway’s finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen, announced at a press conference in Oslo earlier in the day that the divestment was due to Elbit’s involvement in the construction of the West Bank separation fence.

[…] “We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law,” said the minister. She said the shares were sold secretly ahead of the announcement.

Elbit manufactures a monitoring system installed on several parts of the separation fence.

[…] Norway’s pension fund is invested in 41 different Israeli companies.

A research project by the Coalition of Women for Peace called “Who profits from the occupation” found that almost two thirds of those firms are involved in West Bank construction and development.

(Via JSF, who also provides a link to whoprofits).

Posted by: Lister | August 24, 2009

Neve Gordon — Boycott Israel

An article at the Guardian’s comment is free:

I say this as a Jew who has chosen to raise his children in Israel, who has been a member of the Israeli peace camp for almost 30 years and who is deeply anxious about the country’s future.

The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews – whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel – are citizens of the state of Israel.

Gordan puts forward two options: a one-state solution or a two-state solution.

Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, “on the ground,” the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality. Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.

For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

But, he says, outside pressure is the only way to achieve the two-state solution. Hence his call for a boycott.

I consequently have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that was launched by Palestinian activists in July 2005 and has since garnered widespread support around the globe. The objective is to ensure that Israel respects its obligations under international law and that Palestinians are granted the right to self-determination.

In Bilbao, Spain, in 2008, a coalition of organisations from all over the world formulated the 10-point campaign meant to pressure Israel in a “gradual, sustainable manner that is sensitive to context and capacity”. For example, the effort begins with sanctions on and divestment from Israeli firms operating in the occupied territories, followed by actions against those that help sustain and reinforce the occupation in a visible manner. Along similar lines, artists who come to Israel to draw attention to the occupation are welcome, while those who just want to perform are not.

I prefer to call what happens in Israel, especially between Israel and the Occupied Territories, Hafrada.

Hafrada is worse than apartheid.

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