Tuesday, 28 January 2014

New Army of the Internet.

According to R.T. News, Bibi Netanyhu recently stated at the '2014 Cyber Tech Conference' in Tel-Aviv, "there should be a kind of U.N. for the internet, a coalition of internet companies in the cyber world, and Israel is the most advanced". His vision is to have hundreds of cyber tech companies in an unprecedented cooperation between the government and the business world. He went on to state, "We all want to think of a cyber world that is open, free and co-operative. When you think Cyber, think Israel". 
Indeed this is a very chilling thought, considering Israel's appalling Human Rights record, heinous illegal occupation of the West Bank, the strangulation of Gaza, as well as the continuous building of illegal settlements, and the annexation of the Jordan valley. Not to mention the economic strangulation of the Palestinian economy, and the endless list of Palestinian political prisoners, women and children as young as 12 languishing in Israeli jails under administrative detention, in total breach of international law. And now the plan to further contain any meager freedoms Palestinians may have to control and censor the internet. Recently Palestinian's were known to have been subjected to arrests and interrogation for social media postings, and this action serves as a deterrent to express and connect with others over the web. Similar to the use of child prisoners as a tool of the occupation, will they occupy minds as well?. The horror of such a proposal at this would not only apply to Palestinians, but other surrounding countries as they are already in constant intelligence cooperation, will this trickle down to citizens of Egypt and Jordan, etc. And why does Bibi only want a Cyber world that is open, free and co-operative. Or is this a new toy for Bibi from Kerry for the current theater of peace talks or will they be the new occupation army of the internet for everyone. If there is already a long established (covert or overt) co-operation between business and government why is this horrific vision necessary. 
Also in attendance, was Steve Mills the senior vice president of IBM Software and Systems also addressed the same conference. And a day later the U.S. Government announced it was funding research to prevent phone company employees and other eavesdroppers from seeing who the US was spying on, according to the Associated Press. The Obama Administration is considering moving a collection of records and storing then with phone companies or elsewhere. Five research teams across the U.S have been paid to develop an  system for, high volume encrypted searches that are kept outside the government's possession  Allowing the government discontinuance of storage but use when needed. The AP claim, based on interviews that the researchers, corporate executives, government officials as well as public documents, would be shielded by secret coding. The same administration has reportedly picked Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers, a 30-year veteran of the United States Navy, to take the reins of the National Security Agency and US Cyber Command he is  long-time cryptologist who currently runs the Navy’s cyber warfare arm. 
“The Navy’s cyber warriors are doing an incredible job every day defending the network and achieving information dominance,” he told CHIPS. “To preserve the Navy's cyber warfighting advantage, we must continue to develop an elite workforce that is recruited, trained and educated to better understand the maritime environment, employ the latest technological advances and deliver cyber warfighting capability anywhere around the world,” he told CHIPS.   “In summary, the Navy's success across the maritime domain is guaranteed by our ability to defend, project power and prevail in cyberspace with an exceptionally trained cyber force, continued vigilance, proven tactics and an unshakable warrior ethos,” he added. "If you are not excited by the opportunity that cyber represents to the Navy then you do not have a pulse,” Navy Times....
If the senate support Obama's choice, National Security Agency and US Cyber Commander  Gen. Keith Alexander will step down after a nine year tenure, who reportedly offered to resign after the leaking of the 'Snowdon Documents'. So much of the above, smacks of a global militarizing of the internet with innocuous false outsourcing, corporate economy sustained and policed by the main world players with the boots on the ground of the american's and the front of house jailers the Israeli security tech companies.  And so much of this will be to protect their current assets mainly the Middle East and Africa. The main irony of much of the above announcements are that they have in reality all ready happened. And always did, as it worked so well for the British colonial empire with the control of the Royal Mail, and it got the Medici's Florence and a papacy....... but all empires eventually fall.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Operation Cast Lead Five Years On.

                                      Operation Cast Lead Five Years On. 

Five years ago Israel's military offensive 'Operation Cast Lead' launched without warning on the 27th of December 2008 and continued until 18th of January 2009, left 1,400 Palestinians including 300 children killed. This attack was carried out using high-precision weapons – bombs and missiles from F-16 combat aircraft and sophisticated unmanned drones with indiscriminate attacks with weapons which cannot be accurately aimed, such as mortars and artillery shells as well as the use of White Phosphorus which was fired over densely populated residential areas, causing severe and fatal burns as well as setting schools and hospitals ablaze. Medical personnel and facilities came under attack from this bombardment, leaving many thousand homeless and the already dire economy in ruins. Ammnesty International. 

Subsequent to this the Reading of the long awaited 'Goldstone Report' headed up by Irish retired Colonel Desmond Travers was submitted to the Irish Commission on Foreign Affairs, which I was able to attend.

According to the Member of the fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict Pursuant to HR Council Resolutions s – 9/12 and Mandate as amended  Delivered to the Irish Parliament by, Colonel (Retired) Desmond Travers. On Thursday 8 October 2009.

The Report of the United Nations Fact finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”.

This Report is the culmination of six months of work by the Fact Finding Mission. The report was mandated by a resolution, Resolution S-9/12 of the Human Rights Council which refers to:

The grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip....,

and at Paragraph 14 of the Resolution, the decision to.....

 dispatch a fact-finding mission....to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by...Israel, against the Palestinian people..... particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip..., and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission,”

The mandate required of the Mission to investigate:

....all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”

The broadening of the Mission's mandate was to ensure a fair and comprehensive inquiry by addressing a twofold requirement. The first was to examine questions of Hamas activity and especially its rocket and mortar attacks into Southern Israel. The second was to examine the issue of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, an Occupied Territory as determined by International law and of the obligations of an Occupying Power to that territory as determined by International law and of the obligations of an Occupying Power to that territory and its citizens, both them and in the subsequent military operations which its forces conducted later.

The Mission also examined all activities both in Gaza, Southern Israel and the West Bank. Such examinations included activities of Hamas towards its political opponents in Gaza, the P.A's activities towards Hamas supporters and the Israeli military and security forces activities in the West Bank, during the period. Finally, the Mission examined questions of discrimination and suppression of the freedom of expression in Israel proper regarding protests at its forces actions in Gaza.

Earlier in the Mission's work it sought cooperation of all parties to its inquiries  This was not acceded to by the State Of Israel. This denial of cooperation was to have implications for access by some innovative methods of inquiries in Gaza the Mission also received a very useful and impressive briefing from Mr John Ging, Director of Operations at UNWRA in Gaza.

The Mission sought to achieve its purpose which was restricted both in time and access by some innovative methods of inquiry  One of these methods was to hold a public hearings initially in Gaza, then in Amman, and finally Geneva. These public hearings were of course in addition to its hearings earlier in Gaza. Hearing sessions were for victims and witness, recognized representative groups such as NGO and HR organisations  United Nations staffs in situ and experts from various fields. The experts chosen were in fields of medicine, international law and in military analyses.

Distinguished Members, the Report is now a matter of record. Its publication has had worldwide effect most of which is positive. None of its findings have been challenged even by its detractors. The Report however has not been ratified by the HR Council as a deferment has been agreed to by the Palestinian Authority until the Councils next session. This is much regretted by the Mission as it calls to mind the adage: “Justice deferred is justice denied”. There are too, other critical matters which have been or are in danger of being deferred and I would like to comment on them.

It is earnestly requested that some post-conflict matters be addressed as a matter of urgency. These relate to the extensive environmental damage to the soils, sewage, air and water systems in the Gaza Strip. This environmental damage is now at crisis point and of not addressed by the International Community as a a matter of urgency will have serious affects on the quality of the life of its citizens especially that of its children.

I would like to make a recommendation regarding those who have been injured by weapons whose explosives or projectile composition was comprised of heavy metals (such as tunsten in DIME weapons) or of missiles which are armed with shrapnel of that material, that they be monitored for post operative complications arising from carcinogenic affects of such metals.

I recommend that those weapons and munitions mentioned in the Report should now be examined by independent bodies in order to determine their appropriateness as weapons even in theaters of war. These weapon's are: white phosphorous (WP), flechettes, heavy metal shrapnel and such other weapons or munitions which may be be detected over time.

I would like to recommend the monitoring of the Gazan environment. Monitoring should be such as to determine the presence of munitions especially hardened warhead munitions, for dust or chemicals inherent in such warheads, so that their post-impact effects can be monitored and as necessary attended to.

I thank you for facilitating my attendance before you today.

(Deanse Inert Metal Explosive).

According to The UN Watch Website, on the Goldstone Report stated that despite majority votes approving the report in the UN Human Rights Council, (November 5 2009), the document has to date failed to win support form the worlds democracies, The House Foreign Affairs of the U.S Congress, headed by the Democratic Party's Rep. Howard Berman condemned the report's legal deficiencies and bias.

I personally recall Colonel Travers speak at length about his experience and that of his colleagues  he mentioned how having seen years of service as a solider  he and his colleagues were deeply effected by the testimony of the residents of Gaza during his fact finding mission. He was most struck by what he called their dignity under inordinate suffering. He was also very concerned about the long term effect of the white phosphorus in the land in Gaza, and the ecological effects this may cause. Stating that the Irish Army had banned the use of White phosphorus in the early 1970's.

Having been to Gaza myself I have seen the suffering there, caused by the blockade, the strangulation of the economy, the abject poverty of the refugee camps. 1.7 million people locked into 365 square kilometers. With electricity for only a few hours a day, a nautical fishing zone of 20 kilometers policed by the Israeli army and the constant buzzing of drones, dispersed with F-16 fighter jets booming targets in built up residential areas inflicting fatalities on the civilian population.

During my stay a bomb went off in the center of Gaza City near to where I was staying, the windows shook, the delayed boom and an enormous plume of fire and smoke. I was told the next day a sever year old child was killed cycling his bike on the road nearby. Will he or his family like so many countless others receive the justice and compensation they so deserve. Will international law work for them them or are they excluded by nationality or geography  Operation Cast lead was a slaughter of civilians who has no where to run, to they were locked into a tiny space. But I was always struct by the spirit of the people of Gaza, their ingenuity to make the most out of what little they have, how they live each day with the possibility of being randomly killed, the faith and the love they have for their families and children. But where is the justice for all those civilians killed, all of those young lives cut short.

The 'Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights' Raji Sourani, stated in his recent article in Aljazeera 19.01.2014. “The report of the UN Fact-finding Concluded that Israeli's policies were premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force. aimed, not only at the enemy but at the supporting infrastructure  According to the Mission, it recommended that the allegations of war crimes committed during 'Operation Cast Lead' had been effectively investigated and those responsible for international crimes prosecuted. The Mission recommended also that if domestic investigations proved inadequate, the security council should refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.

In 2009, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted 490 complaints on behalf of 1,046 victims of Operation Cast Lead, to the Israeli Military Prosecutor  Among these cases were the most famous innocents of the offensive such as the killing of 21 members of the Samouni family, the attacks on schools, the use of white phosphorous and the killing of civilians carrying white flags.

Over the past five years the Israeli justice system has systematically turned its back on Palestinian victims and the rule of law. Israel has refused to effectively investigate allegations of war crimes and to fulfill its obligations under international law, instead extending blank impunity to its soldiers and officials. Not even civil compensation claims have had any chance of success  The obstacles imposed on victims from Gaza seeking compensation before Israeli courts include prohibitive court guarantees, a requirement that, power of attorney forms signed by an Israeli diplomat (impossible given the Israeli-imposed closure of the Gaza Strip).

And Amendment No 8. which exempts Israel from any liability arising during a 'combat action' (the very situations which international humanitarian law was needed to address. This injustice in no longer acceptable and demands international intervention. If International law is to be effective, it must be enforced through the appropriate bodies, at the UN level and through the International Criminal Court (ICC). The world has turned its back on the civilians of Gaza and on injustice.

Significant pressure has been exerted on the government of Palestine to prevent it from going to the ICC. In January 2009 Palestine accepted the Jurisdiction of the ICC. Despite the ICC Persecutor's April 2012 shameful 'decision not to decide', the situation in Palestine can nevertheless be subject to the jurisdiction of the Court. The ICC Persecutor can and must take concrete steps towards ending immunity in Israel and Palestine and ensuring that victims right to justice is served.”

And so here are some alleged perpetrators of Operation Cast Lead.......

As stated they are the perpetrators  agents for the state of Israel that  attacked the people of Gaza, 2008/9 . The below listed people held positions of command at the time of the attack. They range form low-level field commanders to the highest levels of the Israeli Army. To date justice has not been served to the people of Gaza under International Law nor the Fact finding commission instructed to peruse the killing of 1.400 civilians.


Friday, 22 June 2012

Gaza Bound.

Having arrived in Gaza after a long and hard journey it is very hard to describe what is the Gaza Strip. Spending time in Egypt and crossing the Sinai it possible to understand some of the difference's. In many ways it is very complicated but essentially it is very simple the occupation. The contrast to the streets of Cairo, Al Arish and even the West Bank even with its wall and check points, Israeli soldiers. But there is visceral reality to here that is all encompassing. 1.7 million people crammed and locked into 365 square kilometres, makes this one of the hardest places to live and the hardest I have ever seen. Words cannot describe the streets, the neighbourhoods, the faces of the people, the feeling in the air of this contracted hope that is as exhausted. I can only write this very briefly as soon the electricity will be cut off, I woke at 6.00 p.m. so I could have access to the Internet, and very soon it will be gone until tonight. The temperature is in the high 40's and so air conditioning is not possible in these hours.

But I have to say there is a beauty here, and a great dignity of the people to endure under such suffering. The hospitality I have received has been unsurpassed, the kindness, the warmth, the friendliness, and in that how safe the people of Gaza have made me feel in their kind care. There is another Gaza that people do not necessarily get to see, the beauty of the coast line, the lives lived here with courage and honour and the talent of the people here to carry on, to create and live their lives. Passing the old cinema in the centre of Gaza city and hearing of how things used to be here and Inshallah one can again be. 

Friday, 17 February 2012

Military Courts a Legal Framework for the Occupation.

                     Military Courts a Legal Framework for the Occupation.

In the post-Oslo period two sets of courts were set up, and have operated in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Civil courts operated by the Palestinian Authority to handle internal Palestinian matters, such as inter-Palestinian crime and Israeli military courts to deal with anything defined as relevant to Israel’s security. This security is defined so broadly that virtually any restriction of Palestinian freedom can be covered.

Since 1967 the Israeli occupying forces have issued 2,500 military proclamations also known as military orders. They provide the ‘legal’ basis for charging Palestinians with political offences and for bringing them before the Israeli military courts, which enforce these decrees and punish offenders with imprisonment and fines. Palestinians are often unaware that new military orders have been issued because they have not been made public or translated into Arabic, and do not apply to Israeli illegal settlers living in the West Bank who are governed by Israeli Civil Law. They are frequently revised, almost impossible to challenge, and can apply retroactively. These military orders and military courts are designed to provide a legal framework for the Israeli occupation.

Palestinians charged in the OPT with political offences are arrested, prosecuted, tried, imprisoned entirely within the Israeli military system, which also appoints and administers the bodies which hear any appeals, except those made to the Israeli High Court.

Military orders primarily aim at controlling the Palestinian population, facilitating the confiscation of land, preventing any independent growth of the Palestinian economy and undermining Palestinian social and cultural life. They have served as the legal underpinning for the progressive domination of Israel. Once of the shocking elements about this system is that the judges are often illegal settlers who bring their prejudice, and whilst the judge is a legal professional, the two magistrates who reside over these courts do not necessarily hold any legal qualifications. All court proceedings are conducted and recorded in Hebrew and the court does not employ translators but relies heavily on Israeli soldiers who happen to speak Arabic. Lawyers estimate that only 60% of the translation is accurate.

Judges and prosecutors are serving officers in the I.D.F. or the reserves, once appointed, Judges have no right of tenure, this along with their close ties with the military creates serious doubts about their impartiality. As stated in a report by Amnesty International – there is no neutral and separate judicial apparatus. Judges and prosecutors are appointed by Israeli military, the same body that arrests, detains, and interrogates. The primary role of the military in the O.P.T. is maintaining the occupation and those brought before the court are by definition accused of opposing this occupation.

The Israeli Security Agency (the Shabak), a secret intelligence force reporting directly to the Israeli Prime Minister plays a central role in the occupation, including undercover surveillance of Palestinian society, recruiting and following up Palestinian collaborators and torturing detainees in the four interrogation centres directly under its control and thus Shabak has a central but covert role in the military court system. Often instructing judges to pass particular decisions based on ‘secret evidence’, specifically in the case of Administrative Detention cases in which judges will hold someone without charge or trial on instruction of Shabak and court judgements determined by Shabak before the trial begins, giving them ultimate control.

In Israel’s case the practice of detention without charge or trial is justified on the grounds of ‘emergency’ situations and based on ‘secret’ evidence that neither the detainee nor his/her attorney is allowed to review. In Israel and East Jerusalem administrative detention orders are issued by the ‘Minister of Defence’ in the West bank and Gaza Strip they are issued by military commanders. An administrative detention order is issued for a specific period of detention. The order can be renewed before expiration and continued indefinitely, some detainees have been kept for years under administrative detention.

Many of the numerous military orders handed down by the Military Commander restrict freedom of speech and organisation, censor material for publication and uses them to confiscate and expropriate Palestinian land for settlement construction claiming ‘security’ requirements.

The military order system in 1981 commenced a new phase of implementing policies to foster complete dependency on Israel. Military orders required all Palestinians to submit industrial proposals to an office headed by an Israeli military representative and empowered Israeli military to transfer money ‘found’ in a bank or credit institution to the bank of Israel and made it illegal to export any commodity from the W.B or G.S without a permit issued by the Israeli military, and even regulated the growing of decorative flowers.

The overall system of Israeli military control is characterised by minute regulation of Palestinian life. The system is multi-faceted and highly legalistic in an attempt to legalise discrimination.  Lawyers face extreme difficulties defending Palestinians before these military courts. Accessing case files can be difficult and many obstacles prevent lawyers from visiting their clients before a court session, they therefore are rarely able to explain the process and options before the hearing.

In the course of arresting, detaining and interrogating Palestinians Israel systematically commits clear and inexcusable violations of established international standards of human rights. Three main bodies carry out interrogation of Palestinian detainees.

Police: The Israeli police, who come under the authority of the Ministry of Internal Security, deal with the vast majority of detainees. Although police carry out investigations, Shabak agents often supervise the process. Abuse is widespread in these situations.

Military Intelligence: The Israeli Military Intelligence, under the authority of the Ministry of Defence, is renowned for using highly physical forms of torture, such as severe beatings, burning with cigarettes butts and other physical abuse. Once again Shabak agents are often present. Often as in the case of child prisoners they send a child to a police station after extracting a confession to repeat it, giving a veneer of legality to the interrogation as the courts only accept a confession signed in the presence of the police.

Shabak (ISA): This is the quasi-independent body within the Israeli state apparatus and reports directly to the Israeli Prime Minister. The Shabak generally supervise interrogations undertaken by other agencies, but will conduct interrogations directly for those who are particularly active politically. The Shabak regularly practice torture, including psychological methods and painful physical torture.

Almost without exception Palestinian detainees including woman and children are subject to well-documented forms of abuse.

Beating: From the moment of arrest until entering prison the Israeli military personnel and police subject the detainee to beating all over the body in particular the head and genitals. This beating may take place with fists, batons, guns, cables or pieces of furniture. Detainees are often blindfolded, prior to 1999 ruling many detainees were hooded while being beaten, whilst adult prisoners were usually hooded with a heavy canvas sack often covered in sweat, vomit, urine or faeces wrapped tightly over the entire head.

Collective interrogation: Whereby multiple interrogators make the detainee feel ‘ganged-up’ on by armed soldiers and police.

Denial of family visits: By preventing any family contact, Israel subjects the prisoner to psychological pressure and increased isolation and prevents any external witness from directly witnessing the abusive treatment and its results.

Deprivation of food and drink: Detainees may be given little or nothing to eat or drink, or served inedible, unidentifiable food.

Exposure to extreme temperatures: Often detainee are placed outside for long period after they have been partially stripped and is often combined with other forms of abuse such as denied food or access to a toilet. Another from involves repeatedly dousing the person with extremely hot and/or cold water during interrogation. Cold water is generally used in winter and hot water in summer.

Exposure to humiliating and degrading situations: Typical scenarios include spitting, overstressing them physically, making them undress, and in the case of child prisoners forcing them to curse their relatives and God.

Isolation: Detainees are often placed for long periods in isolation cells approximately 2m by 2m in size, with a small window or vent. The cell may be completely dark or brightly lit all the time with an open toilet at times a wet floor and open sewage running through it.

No access to toilet facilities: Frequently detainees are forced to relieve themselves in the presence of others while fully clothed. Other times they are only allowed to use the toilet at limited times.

Shaking: This practice involves vigorously shaking the detainee used especially on children until they lose consciousness, and can cause death, it was supposedly outlawed by a 1999 High Court ruling but there is evidence it continues to be used.

Sleep deprivation: Soldiers or police will often prevent the detainee from sleeping during interrogation by continually waking them, blasting loud music or leaving bright lights on.

Threats: The captor threatens the detainee with long prison terms imprisonment of family members, demolition of family homes, rape or rape of female members of their family.

Position abuse (Shabeh): Involves forcing detainees into contorted positions for long periods, being forced to stand on the tips of their toes for extended periods of time, or standing against a wall for hours. And the shabeh has the advantage of leaving no physical mark on the prisoner.

Rape and threat of rape: As had been documented especially in the case of child and women prisoners.

B’Tsalem estimated that eighty per cent of all Palestinian detainees have been tortured during their incarceration.

Imprisonment is used to gather information and control Palestinian political activity and especially in the case of children they attempt to recruit these children to long-term collaboration with Israeli security services in exchange for lighter sentences or early release. And Israel’s policies of arrest and imprisonment also serve as a wider political function. By using mass arrests and administrative detention increasing numbers of Palestinians who are not charged with any specific offence, Israel is able artificially inflate the prison population. Thus, when Israeli and Palestinian negotiations take place, Israel is able to use the large prison population as a powerful bargaining chip.

Whether controlling the movement of persons and goods, confiscating land, demolishing homes, or assassinating activists, Israel seeks to achieve its ultimate goal of punishment, intimidation, and coercion. Including the targeting the most vulnerable sector of society, children in its campaign of arrests, Israel sends a message that no one is beyond its reach. Therefore it is necessary to generate concentrated pressure on governments to bring their policies into accord with international human rights and humanitarian law. Which I will be covering in the next chapter. Ref: All of the above material is from the publication ‘Stolen Youth’, The Policies of Israel’s Detention of Palestinian Children. By Catherine Cook, Adam Hanieh, Adah Kay. Published by Pluto Press. Written in conjunction with Defence for Children International Palestine.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Leitrim flying the flag for Palestine.

On a recent trip to Ballinamore in County Leitrim I was really delighted to see the Palestinian flag hanging above the road sign at the entrance to the town. Apparently it is always there and a new flag had be erected just after Christmas not long after the town annual Fund Raiser for Palestine held at the wonderful local bar McGurls, who a couple of days after Christmas raised quite a substantial amount considering the small local population and unemployment rate. In Mc Gurls the Palestinian flag also hangs permanently alongside the Basque flag sharing the space with a Cuban flag in the corner, interesting art and brick a brac. It was a delight to speak with the owner, and to hang out with people who are fully aware of what is happening in the W.B and Gaza. And it was even more heartening to see a small county and a small town show such genuine solidarity. Fair play..