Slaughter on the beach
ISRAELI artillery shells raining onto a Gaza beach on Friday, the Muslim sabbath, killed a dozen people, three of them children. Dozens more people were injured in the shelling of the sands at Beit Lahia, in the north of the Gaza strip. Three more were killed in a separate air attack.
A young girl who had been swimming came out of the water to find her siblings, aged one, three, and 10, dead. Body parts blown asunder by the explosions littered the dunes around.
The beach had been packed with families picnicking and bathing, enjoying a seaside break on a particularly hot day, from the grim conditions and tension of Gaza's crowded and embattled towns and camps. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, called the killings a "bloody massacre" and demanded international intervention. "No doubt what's going on in Gaza is a bloody massacre against our people, our civilians, without discrimination," he said. "I call upon the international community, the UN security council, the quartet [the EU, the US, Russia and the UN], to put an end to this Israeli killing policy."
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that the attack showed "the Zionist occupation insists on killing ... and does not distinguish between civilian children and freedom fighters".
Hamas's militant wing called off its 16-month ceasefire with Israel and threatened revenge attacks. "The resistance groups ... will choose the proper place and time for the tough, strong and unique response."
But while Palestimian groups fired home-made rockets into Israel, they have neither the technology nor the massive fire power that Israel is using. The shells that hit Beit Lahia beach were the latest of more than 6,000 fired into the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces in the past two months. So far they have killed fifteen civilians. Home-made rockets fired by groups like Islamic Jihad have so far wounded several Israelis but killed no one.
Though they boast of their smart weapon technology and keep Gaza under all kinds of surveillance, the Israeli military were yesterday telling the media that the beach shelling had either been an error, or had come from someone else. They said they would "investigate" it. "The military definitely would not target a beach full of people," said an army spokesman. Many of the shells fired yesterday were from Israeli gunboats lying off shore, but the army said the shells that hit the beach could have been from artillery aiming at places near Beit Lahia where Islamic Jihad might operate.
Observers say the pounding Gaza has been getting from Israeli guns amounts to collective punishment. Israeli peace campaigners warned last year that Israeli military actions would worsen in disregard for civilian lives if former air force commander Dan Halutz was made Chief of Staff. It was Halutz who, asked by a reporter what he felt on a low-level raid, releasing a bomb that would kill civilians, replied "a slight bump in the cockpit". Since he became chief of staff the Israeli military has changed its rules of engagement to allow shells to explode within 100 metres of a built-up area.
Some Israelis have also charged that behind the cover provided by Ehud Olmert's "Kadima"-led government, now including Labour's Amir Peretz as Defence Minister, it is the military command who are making their own policy. Friday's shelling came three days after Olmert was in Washington, discussing measures against Iran, and Bush reportedly urged him to talk with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Following an agreement among Palestinians from various factions held in Israeli prisons, Abbas has launched moves for a referendum among all Palestinians, going over the heads of the Hamas government, to ask for recognition of Israel as the price for peace talks.
Some see this as a last-chance bid to rescue a "two-state solution", others fear that in flouting Hamas' legitimacy, and seeming to be at Washington's bidding, it would bring closer the danger of civil war among Palestinians.
But Olmert and his generals are not interested in any peace moves. They have been pursuing a unilateral aim of "fixing Israel's borders" behind the "security fence", with occupation of the Jordan valley, reducing the Palestinians to barbed-wire surrounded enclaves, and creeping ethnic cleansing. On Thursday an Israeli air force attack killed a prominent Palestinian leader in the Gaza area, Jamal Abu Samhadana, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees there. This provocation, and even more the massive, murderous attack with which they followed it on Friday, could be their way of forcing Hamas to fight back, and thwarting Abbas' peace referendum at the same time.
Olmert is due in London next week. Britain's new and inexperienced Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has condemned the murder of civilians on Friday, but it remains to be seen whether the Blair government will depart from its increasingly close and uncritical support for Israeli policies.
In Israel itself, peace campaigners and human rights activists have called a demonstration for tonight at the home of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz:
GUSH SHALOM p.o.b. 3322 Tel Aviv 61033
Stop killing civilians!
The Israeli government is drawning us all in a
sea of blood and violence
Demonstration in front of Dan Halutz’
home Tomorrow, Saturday 10.6.06 18:30
The Israeli army continues its brutal attacks against innocent civilians including children, women and old people. Only today at least 12 people were killed while sitting on the beach and dozens were injured.
Together with Olmert and Halutz, Amir Peretz, "a man of peace" and the leader of the working class, is leading a ruthless attack on Palestinian civilians and is committing war crimes no
less than the former minister of defense, Mufaz.
The Israeli government is doing everything possible in order to avoid negotiations with Palestinian representatives. Now in the face of a possible Palestinian unity around the the "prisoners document" that might influence the Israeli unilateral plans, the Israeli government is determined to provoke Hamas and drag it back to the circle of violence.
On Saturday 10.6.06 at 18:30 we will demonstrate in front Dan Halutz’ home in Tel Aviv, Zahala Neighborhood, Baruch Agadati St. 19 B, and call to stop immediately the attacks on Gaza, to end the occupation and to start negotiations.
Jerusalem at 17:15 Gan Hapaamon
(Bell Garden) 17:30 Binyaney Ha’uma
Tel Aviv: if you can’t come by yourself, there is a bus: 18:00
For more information call:
Anarchists Against the Wall, Breaking the Silence
Courage to Refuse, Coalition of Women for Peace
Gush Shalom, Taayush, Yesh Gvul,
ממשלת ישראל מעוניינת להטביע את כולנו בים של דם ואלימות
מול ביתו של דן חלוץ בצהלה (אזור תל אביב), מחר (שבת 10.6) ב-18:30
ממשיך לתקוף את רצועת עזה ולטבוח באזרחים תמימים, ילדים, נשים וזקנים. רק היום,
נרצחו כ-12 אזרחים בעת שישבו על חוף הים ועשרות רבות נוספים נפצעו.
עם אולמרט וחלוץ, עמיר פרץ, איש השלום וגיבור מעמד הפועלים, מוביל מתקפה של טרור
כנגד אוכלוסייה אזרחית ומבצע פשעי מלחמה בהיקף שלא היה מבייש את קודמו
ממשלת ישראל אשר חוששת מאופק מדיני ומהסכמה פלסטינית על "מסמך
האסירים" אשר יתכן ויסכל את התכוניות החד-צדדיות שלה, נחושה לגרור את החמאס חזרה
למעגל האלימות לאחר שהאחרון דבק בהודנה מזה למעלה משנה.
מחר, יום שבת
ה-10.6 בשעה 18:30 נפגין מול ביתו של דן חלוץ בתל אביב רח' ברוך אגדתי מס' 19 ב,
להפסקת התקיפות על רצועת עזה, ליציאה מכל השטחים הכבושים ולכניסה
מירושלים: 17:15 מגן
הפעמון 17:30 בנייני האומה חולוד 0547469738
אביב: למי שלא מגיע בכוחות
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Against Olmert in London
There's to be a demonstration against Olmert's visit to London on Tuesday. This was planned before the latest sickening news of the Gaza carnage, which must give it more support:
Demonstrate against Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert
Tuesday 13th June
11.00 am - 1.00pm
Parliament Square (on the green)
Stop Starving Palestinians!
Recognise Palestinian democracy!
and on Thursday:
and defend the right to protest
The call by Israeli campaigners for a demonstration at Dan Halutz home brings afresh the glaring contrast between normal democratic rights enjoyed by citizens, even in a state maintaining military rule over others, like Israel, and the rapid erosion of those rights under Tony Blair's government in Britain.
On the evening of March 14, we heard how the British government had breached its obligations by withdrawing personnel from Jericho prison, twenty minutes before the Israeli assault on Jericho and abduction of Palestinian political prisoners. While then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw assured MPs that Britain had not colluded in the Israeli operation by informing the Israeli military of its intentions, Palestine Solidarity Campaigners decided to hold a demonstration against the raid and against British complicity.
Betty Hunter, general secretary of PSC, phoned the police for permission to hold a picket opposite Downing Street at 5.30pm that evening. They refused, saying not enough notice had been given, and the demonstration would be illegal.
About 60 people turned up nevertheless. They felt the shocking news that day called for an immediate response. Betty Hunter advised everyone that their demonstration was deemed "illegal". The demonstration lasted until about 6.20pm. Police insisted on taking names and addresses of those present, and have charged Betty and four others - Mike Kushner, Aquil Shaer, Ruth Tenne and Wilf Dixon - under the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.
So there you have it, the British government connives at an illegal military operation in which a jail is stormed and unarmed prisoners killed or abducted.
But it's a "Serious Organised Crime" when people hold a peaceful protest!
All five have consulted solicitors and will be pleading not guilty. Incidentally, two of the five are members of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and having marched with them on other occasions I'm proud to know them.
There's to be a picket of Horseferry Road Magistrates Court, near Westminster, when the five are due to appear on Thursday, 15 June 2006 PSC are calling supporters to defend the right to demonstrate by joining the picket at 9.30am that morning.
Nearest Tube: St James Park
Defend our democratic right to protest!!
PSC is also accepting donations towards the defence costs.