UN says Gaza running out of food


The UN says it feeds about 750,000 needy people in the Gaza Strip [EPA]

“They are telling children in Gaza that they have to respect rights universally. How can we tell those same children, ‘Oh by the way you have to respect rights of people in Israel but they are actually stopping us giving you food?” Christopher Guness, UN aid agency spokesman

The UN relief and works agency has said it will run out of food within the next 48 hours as the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel continues.

Christopher Gunness, the agency’s spokesman, told Al Jazeera the people in Gaza were being put through not just a “physical sense pf punishment but also a mental one”.

“That’s how serious it is. We feed 750,000 people in Gaza and these are some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the Middle East,” he said on Wednesday.

“Something very unusual is happening here. This is becoming a blockade against the UN itself.”

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Israel launches deadly airstrike in Gaza


Medical workers wheel a wounded man to hospital in the central Gaza strip on Tuesday after clashes.

GAZA CITY (CNN) — Israel launched an airstrike Tuesday night on southern Gaza after clashing with Hamas militants in central Gaza, Palestinian sources and Israel Defense Forces said.

Four were killed in the airstrike, which occurred east of Khan Younis, Palestinian sources said. They said a drone and an apache helicopter could be seen.

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A Declaration of U.S. Independence from Israel

This is a talk given at the Nassau Club in Princeton by Chris Hedges, former New York Times Middle East bureau chief:

Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez Canal and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue.

They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor. By the time the war as over, the United States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid. The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system the United States has provided to the Jewish state.

Israel was born at midnight May 14, 1948. The U.S. Recognized the new state 11 minutes later. The two countries have been locked in a deadly embrace ever since.Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel’s withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. Flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. Sailors and wounded 171.

The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington’s enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israel and American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. Direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. Foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money.

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Ex-Dutch Prime Minister accuses Israel of terrorism


Ex-Dutch prime minister and Israel critic Andreas Van Agt (Cnaan Liphshiz)

The emotion in Andreas Van Agt’s voice as he lambastes Israel’s behavior seems puzzling for a man of his status. It is especially intriguing when one is reminded that this blue-eyed professed idealist is an astute statesman who presided as the Dutch prime minister for five years, until 1982.

“My involvement in the Middle East is certainly unusual,” Van Agt confessed in an interview with Haaretz at his home in Nijmegen, where he discussed Israel, the Palestinians, European foreign policy, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

Currently, Van Agt is writing a book about the Israeli-Arab conflict. In December he launched an info-site (www.driesvanagt.nl) about the subject, in which he accuses Israel of brutal treatment of the Palestinians, violating international law and implementing racist policies.

Among other illustrations, the site contains one snapshot of a graffiti slogan said to have been sprayed by Jewish settlers on a Hebron wall, reading: “Arabs to the gas chambers.”

Last year, Van Agt spoke as keynote speaker at a controversial solidarity rally with the Palestinian people in Rotterdam, where he lamented the Dutch boycott of Hamas, calling it wrong “and even stupid.” He has also been outspoken in accusing the Israel Defense Forces of acting like a terrorist organization.

“In my country, people are highly surprised by my demeanor. Some even say it should be ascribed to my advanced age; that I’m not fully in my right mind anymore,” the 77-year-old says with a snicker while sitting under the outdated portrait of the Queen, which hangs on the wall of his modern-style, taupe-colored den.

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Palestinian police get training in riot control

JERICHO, West Bank (AP) – Palestinian police officers in riot gear trained under the desert sun Tuesday as part of a European Union-sponsored public order course begun after a deadly clash between police and demonstrators last fall.

Palestinian instructors barked commands at a squad of men who stamped their boots and rapped their clubs on their shields as they advanced on an imaginary demonstration – a tactic designed to intimidate without bloodshed.

Next week, the 64 graduates of the 12-day course will report for duty in their hometown of Jenin, an unruly hotbed of militants and heavily armed gangs.

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A human rights crime in Gaza

By Jimmy Carter
First Published 5/6/2008

The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world by sea, air, or land. An entire population is being brutally punished.

This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers.

Israel and the US refused to accept the right of Palestinians to form a unity government with Hamas and Fatah and now, after internal strife, Hamas alone controls Gaza. Forty-one of the 43 victorious Hamas candidates who lived in the West Bank are now imprisoned by Israel, plus an additional ten who assumed positions in the short-lived coalition cabinet.

Regardless of one’s choice in the partisan struggle between Fatah and Hamas within occupied Palestine, we must remember that economic sanctions and restrictions in delivering water, food, electricity, and fuel are causing extreme hardship among the innocent people in Gaza, about one million of whom are refugees.

Israeli bombs and missiles periodically strike the encapsulated area, causing high casualties among both militants and innocent women and children. Prior to the highly publicized killing of a woman and her four little children last week, this pattern was illustrated by a previous report from B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights organization: 106 Palestinians were killed between February 27 and March 3. Fifty-four of them were civilians who didn’t take part in the fighting, and 25 were under 18 years of age.

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