The Acts of the Democracies
Years : ALL
Topic : Bombing
69 Items Selected
After a difficult war of liberation against Germany only afew years earlier, the Netherlands becomes an invader and occupier.
In 1983, a specialist in CIA propaganda, Ralph McGehee, would admit that the evidence of communist weapons running that was the excuse for the troops being deployed was faked by the CIA.
Between 1965 and 1973 the USA would drop more than 2 million tons (2,030 million kg) of bombs on Laos. People would be forced to live in caves for many years; hundreds of thousands would die.
Many villages are destroyed. TV pictures of American soldiers casually setting fire to huts while distressed villagers look on disturb the USA public. Student and Buddhist led demonstrators in Saigon demand the end of the military government in South Vietnam. Vietnamese troops brutally suppress dissent.
The coal mining town of Hongai becomes the most bombed place in Vietnam. Carrier based planes bomb the town continuously from 7am until 5pm every day. This causes 10% of the town's children to become deaf.
In the USA, David Lawrence, editor of US News & World Report, writes:
"What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times."
Most Western countries tacitly support USA actions in Vietnam.
Many Palestinians are now refugees in these and other neighbouring countries while their homes and villages in Israel are destroyed and converted to kibutz (communial villages). Meanwhile, Israel encourages Jewish immigration to change the demography of the region.
Israel continues to receive admiring and uncritical support from the West, especially the USA. The Western media reports events from the Israeli point of view. Young tourists to Israel are encouraged to work in the kibutz.
Israeli forces raid the village of Al-Sammou destroying 125 houses, the village clinic and school. 18 people are killed.
The Australian journalist, John Pilger visits a hospital in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. A region bombed heavily by USA B-52 bombers:
"'I guess he's around ten years old,' said the young American doctor, a volunteer. Before us was a child whose nose and chin had merged, whose eyes apparently could not close and whose skin, once brown, was now red and black and papery, like frayed cloth. 'Beats me how these kids live through all that shit out there,' says the doctor, 'This one's been burned with Napalm B. That's the stuff made from benzene, polystyrene and gasoline. It sticks to the body and is impossible to get off, and either burns the victim to death or suffocates him by using up all the oxygen.'"
The CIA runs Operation Phoenix to identify and kill alleged resistance leaders operating in Vietnamese villages. About 20,000 people are killed.
At this time, USA B-52 planes begin secret carpet bombing of the country. This term means bombing indiscriminately. The bombing would continue until 1973 and would eventually destroy the country's stability leading to the chaos and anarchy of the killing fields under the Khmer Rouge.
According to Ben Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Program: "... beginning in 1969 the [USA] Air Force deployed B-52s over Cambodia. The new rationale for the bombings was that they would keep enemy forces at bay long enough to allow the United States to withdraw from Vietnam. Former US General Theodore Mataxis depicted the move as 'a holding action . . . . The troika's going down the road and the wolves are closing in, and so you throw them something off and let them chew it.' The result was that Cambodians essentially became cannon fodder to protect American lives."
The Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir maintains that "there is no such thing as Palestinians; they never existed".
Moshe Dayan (the Israeli Defence Minister) addressing the Israel Institute of Technology admits:
"Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist, not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushu'a in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population."
Settlement building the in the occupied territories continues. Several new political parties affirm that the land should be retained as it was given to the Jews by God.
The USA government bans the use of Agent Orange (a defoliant containing dioxin) on American farmlands. The USA military continues to use the chemical in Vietnam to remove the jungle cover form its enemies. It is sprayed over large areas of the country by C-130 aircraft.
|The USA uses chemical warfare against Vietnam when Agent Orange is sprayed to defoliate vast areas of the country. The USA has since failed to abide by the terms of treaties controlling the use of chemical weapons.|
Dioxin is a poison that causes miscarriages, foetal death, chromosome damage, deformities and cancer. In Vietnam the chemical has produced babies born without eyes, with deformed hearts, with mis-shapen heads, with small brains, and with missing limbs. Over 2 million Vietnamese are affected as well as thousands of American soldiers. Over 50,000 children have been born with these types of deformities in Vietnam. Cases of chorioncarcinoma (cancer of the pregnancy) are common.
Dr Pham Viet Thanh of the Tu Bu hospital reports that requests for help to Germany, UK, Japan and the USA in dealing with these medical conditions are ignored or refused.
|Over 50,000 children are born deformed after the USA uses Agent Orange over Vietnam. Agent Orange contains the poison Dioxin which causes mutations in fetuses. No compensation has ever been paid.|
The USA sprays CS Gas into Vietnamese tunnels and caves causing thousands of people to choke to death on their own vomit. Women and children are among the victims. Other symptoms include destroyed eyeballs, blistered faces and scorched skin.
Cyrus Vance, the USA Secretary of Defence, admits that cyanide and arsenic are also being used along with napalm (which sticks to the skin while it burns) and naphthalene flame throwers.
Israel bombs Cairo (Egypt) causing many civilian casualties, including 30 school children.
Israel and Jordan are both supported and armed by the West.
USA warships blockade North Vietnamese ports.
The attacks occur as nine separate but simultaneous air raids by Phantoms and Skyhawks on Lebanon and Syria. In al-Hama, a suburb of Damascus, houses are bombed indiscriminately and people are machine gunned as they run for cover.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the air raids.
Since the bombing began (in 1969) the amount of bombs dropped on Cambodia is 50% more than the non-nuclear explosives dropped on Japan during World War II. Cambodia is a peasant society with no air force or ground defenses. During the bombing, 600,000 people die and 2,000,000 become refugees.
According to figures released in 2007 by the USA, between 1965 and 1973, 2,756,941 tons of bombs were dropped on Cambodia, during 230,516 raids on 113,716 targets. This compares with 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II, including the nuclear bombs. Some historians believe that Cambodia may be the most bombed country in history.
The USA vetoes four separate United Nations resolutions. The first condemns Israeli attacks against Lebanese civilians. The second condemns Israel for building settlements in the occupied territories. The third calls for self determination for the Palestinians. The fourth affirms Palestinian rights.
South African commandos raid Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. They begin to create, arm and deploy special military units in Mozambique to attack roads, railways, bridges and other economic targets, as well as to terrorise in rural areas.
South African agents carry out sabotage and assassinations in Zimbabwe. South Africa (with help from the USA's CIA) attempts to mount a coup against President Kaunda in Zambia. The CIA director, William Casey flies secretly to Lusaka and threatens sanctions against Zambia if the role of the CIA is exposed.
In addition to these military activities, South Africa begins a full scale economic war against Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
After being elected to the USA presidency, Ronald Reagan states that closer relations with South Africa are a means "to counter Soviet influence in southern Africa". Arms and money are passed by the USA's CIA to groups supported by South Africa in the region.
The USA blocks the implementation of the United Nations plan for a settlement in Namibia, currently under South African rule. It does this by unilaterally linking the Namibian issue with Angola. While the USA continues to state its support for the United Nations plan, the USA Secretary of State, Al Haig, informs the South African Foreign Minister "that the United States would not press South Africa to settle the Namibian question unless Cuban troops were withdrawn from Angola."
The USA vetoes seven United Nations resolutions condemning the actions of South Africa, condemning apartheid and attempting to strengthen sanctions. These votes are 145 to 1, 124 to 1, 136 to 1, 129 to 2 (with UK), 126 to 2 (with UK), 139 to 1, and 138 to 1.
A residential area in Saida is targeted killing 20 people; in Fakhani, jets raid residential areas killing 150; another 150 people are killed when the Arab University area in Beirut is attacked. In the raids, Israel also strikes at Palestinian and Lebanese refugee camps, ports, Lebanon's main oil refinery, and most bridges.
Israel estimates that 106 Israelis have been killed in the north of the country from Palestinian attacks (using small rockets, often home made) originating in Lebanon between 1967 and 1982. According to United Nations figures, 3,500 Lebanese and Syrians were killed between 1967 and 1975 by Israeli attacks as well as an unknown number of Palestinians. The Israeli attacks included the use of air power, artillery, tanks, gunboats using shells, bombs, incendiary bombs, cluster bombs and napalm. Between 1967 and 1977, over 300,000 Lebanese civilians in the south of that country had been forced to abandon their homes.
The Israeli government annexes the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1973. This violates United Nations Resolutions, the cease fire agreement between Israel and Syria and the Camp David Accords.
Israeli jets destroy a nuclear reactor in Iraq.
The USA vetoes 18 United Nations resolutions concerning Israel.
Qaddafi had removed the previous pro-West government and had set up a welfare state for his people. In addition he supported the Palestinian struggle for independence.
The presence of the USA military close to Arab countries disturbs people in the Middle East.
South African commandos attack and destroy the oil depot in the city of Beira. The raid cuts supplies of petroleum to Zimbabwe and costs the country millions of dollars in lost revenue.
South Africa's actions in the country would kill 100,000 people between 1982 and 1983.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli actions in Lebanon and bombards Beirut from the sea.
The attack is condemned by the United Nations, the European Community but supported by the USA.
Palestinians had been expelled from their homes in what is now Israel in 1948. In 1967, they had been attacked again when the West Bank was occupied. In 1982, their leadership had been expelled from Lebanon. Now they were being attacked in Tunisia, a country on a different continent, Africa.
The USA Congress imposes economic sanctions on South Africa in spite of a veto by President Reagan. Only 25% of the trade between the two countries is affected. Iron, steel and uranium continue to be exported from South Africa. In the next two years, USA exports to South Africa increase from $ 1,280 million to $ 1,710 million.
An Israeli soldier shoots and kills 7 labourers at Oyon Qara; 13 Palestinians are killed while demonstrating against the killings.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution to send three UN Security Council observers into the area.
The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture publishes a full page advertisement in newspapers saying:
"It is difficult to conceive of any political solution consistent with Israel's survival that does not involve complete, continued Israeli control of the water and sewerage systems [of the occupied territories], and of the associated infrastructure, including the power supply and road network, essential to their operation, maintenance and accessibility."
Israeli warplanes bomb a house in Siddiqine (Lebanon) killing 3 people.
A Save The Children report criticises Israel for its treatment of children in the occupied territories. The report documents the "indiscriminate beating, tear gassing, and shooting of children". The average age of the victims was 10 years old. In 80% of cases where children are shot, the Israeli forces prevent the victim from receiving medical attention. It concludes that 50,000 children required medical treatment for gun-shot wounds, tear gas inhalation and broken bones (often multiple fractures). Many children die after being shot by snipers in the head or heart.
Clinton says that the attack "was essential to send a message to those who engage in state-sponsored terrorism and to affirm the expectation of civilised behaviour among nations."
Israel attacks Qana, a United Nations refugee camp in southern Lebanon, with 6 anti-personnel shells killing over 106 people, mostly women and children. The camp was home to 500 Lebanese forced from their villages in southern Lebanon by Israeli raids.
The survivors describe what happened:
"I fled in the morning with two friends and went for refuge to the emergency forces in Qana. I had my wife and my four children with me. They led us into a shelter where there were about fifty people. Then suddenly the sound of bombing rang out. A first shell, then a second fell near the shelter, and as we were trying to get out, another shell hit the shelter directly. I don't know what happened to my wife and children."
"I heard people shouting 'Allahu akbar!', and a woman fell down unconscious. I reached out to get an idea what had happened to her, and her brain fell into my hand."
"In one second I lost everything: my children, 14 of my grandchildren, and my wife. I don't want to live anymore. Tell the doctors to let me die."
The Israeli claim that the attack was accidental is discounted by United Nations observers who also condemn Israel for missile attacks on ambulances and residential areas. The USA magazine Newsweek informs its readers that the victims had "died in the cross fire".
The USA arms Israel and continually blocks United Nations resolutions condemning the occupation.
The USA finances the Iraqi National Accord with millions of dollars. This group uses car bombs in Baghdad and other cities in an attempt to destabilise Saddam Hussein. Over 100 civilians have been killed in Baghdad between 1994 and 1996. A few weeks later at a USA led conference in Egypt, one of the topics of discussion would be the flow of money to terrorist groups.
This government had been financed by the USA, UK and Saudi Arabia and is supported by the democratically elected government of Pakistan. Support from the West will only wane when permission to build an oil pipeline is not forthcoming.
Two USA embassies in Africa are bombed with hundreds of casualties. The USA blames Islamic terrorists and bombs Afghanistan with cruise missiles. The missiles overfly Pakistan without permission, an illegal act under international law.
When asked on USA television why so much terrorist action is directed against the USA, Richard Haas, a foreign policy advisor, replies: "Well, the answer is it's not anything we're simply doing. It is who we are. It's the fact that we're the most powerful country in the world. It's the fact that we're a secular country... It is simply who we are and it is our existence that really bothers them."
The USA president Bill Clinton answers the same question with: "Americans are targets of terrorism, in part, because we act to advance peace and democracy and because we stand united against terrorism."
A USA diplomat quoted in the USA newspaper, Los Angeles Times (4 August 1996) had a different view of events: "This is an insane instance of the chickens coming home to roost. You can't plug billions of dollars into an anti-Communist jihad, accept participation from all over the world and ignore the consequences. But we did. Our objectives weren't peace and grooviness in Afghanistan. Our objective was killing Commies and getting the Russians out."
This was later admitted by the USA to have been an error. The casualty toll remains unknown as the USA blocks a United Nations inquiry. Western media do not persue the story.
The plant was under contract with the United Nations to export medicines; a fact that the USA appeared not to know. Half of the country's pharmaceutical supplies were produced in the plant. Tom Carnaffin, a technical manager of the plant in the mid-1990s from the UK, tells The Observer (UK):
"I have intimate knowledge of that factory, and it just does not lend itself to the manufacture of chemical weapons."
Serbian troops enter villages and systematically burn homes, loot businesses, expel civilians, and kill those suspected of participating in separatist movements, including women and children. Often, bodies would be removed and buried in Serbia where seven mass graves would be discovered in 2001.
Rape and sexual violence are also components of the campaign used to terrorise the civilian population, extort money from families, and push people to flee their homes. Human Rights Watch documents 96 cases of rape and sexual assault in Kosovo.
The USA and UK bomb Kosovo and Serbia under a NATO umbrella. One NATO member, Turkey, threatens to veto the action until the USA gave assurances that Turkey's treatment of the Kurds would not be punished in a similar way.
The bombing lasts for 78 days and kills many civilians as residential areas are targeted in Belgrade. The residence of the president, Slobodan Milosevic, is attacked in an apparent assassination attempt. The USA declares that the bombing is for humanitarian purposes but, in one answer, the USA president Bill Clinton states:
"If we're going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key....That's what this Kosovo thing is all about."
Although NATO states that the bombing of civilian targets is accidental, a statement by Lieutenant General Michael Short contradicts this:
"If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next twenty years, I think you begin to ask, 'Hey, Slobo, what's all this about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?'"
Short tells the USA newspaper, New York Times, that he "hopes that the distress of the Yugoslav public will undermine support for the authorities in Belgrade". NATO spokesman, Jamie Shea adds: "If President Milosevic really wants all of his population to have water and electricity all he has to do is accept NATO's five conditions and we will stop the campaign".
One major building in Belgrade containing political parties, television and radio stations as well as a hundred private companies is bombed. Before the attack, NATO planners had estimated 250 civilian casualties and up to 100 government workers.
Over 1,100 cluster bombs are dropped over Yugoslavia each carrying 202 bomblets. The bomblets explode sending out metal shrapnel that can slice through metal. The failure rate of the bomblets (over 5%) means that over 11,000 bomblets fail to explode, becoming in effect land mines waiting to be touched. Many children, drawn to the bright yellow colour of the bomblets become victims after returning to their villages. One doctor states: "neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen such horrific wounds as these caused by cluster bombs. They are wounds that lead to disabilities to a great extent. The limbs are so crushed that the only remaining option is amputation. It's awful."
97 bomblets are later recovered from the Adriatic Sea after several Italian fishermen are killed.
The USA is one of the few countries not to sign a treaty banning the use of land mines which comes into force on 1 March: Treaty Banning the Use, Production, Stockpiling and Transfer of Anti-Personel Landmines.
"If they turn on their radars we're going to blow up their goddam SAMs [Surface to Air Missiles]. They know we own their country. We own their airspace... We dictate the way they live and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we need."
The reason for the bombing raids given by the USA and UK is Iraq refusing entry to United Nations weapons inspection teams. Iraq has often accused the USA of using the inspection teams to spy on the country. On 7 January 1999 a headline in the USA newspaper The New York Times admits: "[USA] Spied on Iraq Under UN Cover, Officials Now Say". The article states:
"United States officials said today that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors ferreting out secret Iraqi weapons programs.... By being part of the team, the Americans gained a first-hand knowledge of the investigation and a protected presence inside Baghdad."
The following day, the same newspaper asserts: "Reports that the United States used the United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq as cover for spying on Saddam Hussein are dimming any chances that the inspection system will survive.".
The USA media fails to follow this story. The USA later declares that "sanctions against Iraq would remain in place whether or not Baghdad fully complied with the inspection regimen.".
Peter Jennings, anchorman of the USA ABC News states that during the 1991 Gulf War "The USA did want Saddam to go, they just didn't want the people of Iraq to take over".
"We are skilled marksmen. Anyhow, there are millions of Arabs... It's their problem. Whether Arabs become one more or less is just the same...We have accomplished our duty. The whole issue is not about more than a group of Arabosheem. We should have launched more shells to kill more Arabs."
Arabosheem is a racist term hostile to Arabs used by the Israelis.
In 1996, the USA Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright was asked on an American television programme ("60 Minutes", 12 May):
"We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And - you know - is the price worth it?"
In her reply (in which the figures are not challenged) she asserts:
"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."
Many of the facts about what is happening in Iraq are largely unreported in the West. One such fact is that the incidence of myeloid leukemia cancers have risen fivefold since the Gulf War in 1991. There has also been a rise in congenital birth defects. Both are linked to the 96,000 depleted Uranium shells used primarily by the USA, UK and France during the 1990 war. These have left a residue of radioactive dust throughout the country.
In a rare report, the USA newspaper, the Washington Post admits that the ongoing aerial attacks on the country "leave behind a lethal litter that could claim civilian casualties for years... Civilian casualties have become routine."
On the newspaper's web site (but not published), an article describes how the USA has increasingly used "cluster bombs that have no real aim point and that kill and wound innocent civilians for years to come."
Cluster bombs leave hundreds of bomblets that can maim and kill civilians for months or years after they have been dropped.
Professor Thomas Nagy, (a teacher from George Washington University's Business School) publishes a report based on declassified documents from the USA Defense Intelligence Agency. One is titled "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerability".
This document shows that the USA had used sanctions to degrade Iraq's water treatment facilities. It states that "failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could result in increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease and to certain pure water dependent becoming incapacitated.". It also observed that "Iraq's overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt as dwindling supplies and cannibalized parts are concentrated at higher priority locations". It concludes that "no adequate solution exists for Iraq's water purification dilemma".
The above policy violates the Geneva Convention which states: "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive."
This report is unreported in the main USA newspapers (such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, and Newsweek).
The Western media stir up the situation with calls for collective punishments. Bill O'Reilly proclaims on the USA's Fox News Channel:
"The USA should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble -- the airport, the power plants, their water facilities and the roads. We should not target civilians, but if they don't rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period."
New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy writes:
"As for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball courts."
Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review (USA) writes:
"If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution."
Although the USA states that civilian casualties will be minimised, Cluster Bombs are dropped. These break up into bomblets which can lie dormant on the ground until touched, often long after the conflict has ended. Human Rights Watch estimate that 5000 (30%) of these bomblets lie in the ground unexploded. They are of similar colour and size as food parcels dropped by USA planes. Daisy Cutter bombs are also used which flatten an area of over 1km radius.
A United Nations official in Afghanistan estimates that live bombs and mines maim, on average 40 to 100 people a week in the country and 50% of these die before they get any medical help.
Logistical and political aid for the attack on Afganistan is obtained from a number of countries (often by bribes or concessions) including:
In northern Afganistan, the West helps anti Taliban fighters called the Northern Alliance.
The Northern Alliance had ruled the country between 1990 and 1996. During that time they trafficked in hard drugs, killed more than 25,000 civilians and raped thousands of women and girls, using many as sex slaves. In several incidents they threw acid in women's faces because they were not covered up.
Aid agencies (including Oxfam, Action Aid, Christian Aid, and Islamic Relief ) call for a stop to the bombing after warning of a humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions of people, including 100,000 children under 5. This call is ignored.
Dead children being prepared for burial.
Northern Alliance troops pulling out gold teeth.
The reporting of the conflict in the West concentrates on the military hardware. A new crop of words enters the language:
Many Afghan and Arab prisoners are killed by Northern Aliance and USA forces in violation of the Geneva Conventions. In one case 280 bodies are buried in mass graves near the airport in Kandahar. More than 400 prisoners are killed in unexplained circumstances in Qala-i-Janghi fort at Mazar-i-Sharif. Calls by Amnesty International for an inquiry are ignored.
In the Western media, very little information about civilian casualties is given. This appears to be a deliberate policy. Walter Issacson, the chairman of USA satellite and cable news company, CNN, informs his staff:
"It seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties and hardship in Afganistan."
The Arabic satellite television station, Al-Jazeera, is considered by most people in the Middle East as the only source of news that is not government controlled. The USA Secretary of State, Colin Powell, expresses concern about their coverage of the war. When these concerns are ignored, the USA bombs the Kabul offices of the station, effectively denying a view of the conflict not controlled by Western media.
Marc Herold, an economics professor at the University of New Hampshire (USA), in a study published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian on 20 December, reports that between 7 October and 10 December, USA bombing has killed 3767 civilians in Afghanistan. This is a higher number than the victims in the 11 September attack on the USA. These are Afghan civilians who had nothing to do with the USA atrocity and who had no say in the make up or policies of the Afghani government because there had not been any elections for them to participate in. The figures mean that 60 to 65 civilians have been killed for every day of the bombing.
The study's findings are coraborated by aid agencies, the United Nations, eyewitnesses and media reports. It does not include civilians who died later of their injuries, people killed after 10 December, people who died because they were refugees from the bombing, military deaths (estimated to be in excess of 10,000), or prisoners killed in Mazar-i-Sharif, Qala-i-Janghi, Khandahar Airport or elsewhere.
This report (and the casualties) is ignored by most Western media unlike the blanket coverage given to the USA victims. After seven weeks of bombing the USA newspaper, The Los Angeles Times estimates that the death toll was "at least dozens of civilians."
The bombing includes power stations, telephone exchanges, educational establishments, utilities, hospitals, lorries and buses filled with refugees, fuel trucks, convoys of tribal leaders, residential districts in the cities, and dozens of villages. This is a sample of attacks and their civilian casualties.
The nearby village of Khan-e-Mairjuddin, is bombed with a death toll of over 100. A third village, Zaner Khel, reports being hit with nearly 100 civilian casualties after planes bomb the nearby house of a minor Taliban official.
The hijackers in the atrocity in the USA had been from countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt; countries which are considered allies to the USA (the "moderate states"). The Taliban government had been funded by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. When the USA wants to extend its "war on terrorism", countries such as Iraq, Sudan and Yemen are mentioned. These are "rogue states", countries with governments that are not under the control of the USA.
This is in contrast to the few Western casualties who are named, pictured and their families described.
Afghan refugees returning to their villages are killed and maimed coming across unexploded cluster bombs. "As more people arrive in areas once abandoned, hospitals have been reporting an influx of wounded," according to the USA newspaper, the New York Times. Afghanistan is littered with unexploded cluster bombs, adding to the risk to civilians who also routinely die from the estimated 10 million land mines that remain from previous wars. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, an average of 88 Afghans die every month because of land mine and cluster bomb injuries.
The USA contributes $7 million for de-mining efforts but does not provided a list of areas where it dropped cluster bombs forcing de-mining workers to search for the bomblets themselves.
The USA takes hundreds of prisoners (Afghan and foreign) to a military base in Cuba. There is no extradition treaty between Afganistan and the USA, therefore the movement of the Afghans is illegal under international law. The USA labels the Afghans as "battlefield detainees" and "unlawful combatants" rather than "prisoners of war" so as to avoid having to abide by the Geneva Conventions. The USA selects a military base in Cuba so as to be able to try them by military tribunals without the protection of USA federal law. The International Red Cross, Amnesty International and other human rights groups condemn the USA and request access to the prisoners. These requests are ignored. The prisoners have their beards and hair shaved and are kept in cages open to the elements.
The UK lawyer, Michael Mansfield, declares that "the status of 'unlawful combatants' the the USA has given to them is not recognised in law. They can be categorised so that they are either people engaged in war against the invasion of Afghanistan or they are suspects linked to the conspiracy surrounding 11 September." Taking an alternative action violates the Geneva Convention.
The proposed military trials violate international law as UK member of parliament, Geoffry Robinson explains: "present American plans to try them will fundamentally breach the [Geneva] Convention".
According to Mary Robinson, the United Nations chief of human rights: "As fighters in an international conflict... they are entitled to Prisoner of War status." Michael Byers, a law expert from Duke University states that: "forcefully shaving their beards [is] a violation of the right to human dignity". Amnesty International makes it clear that "the conditions under which the prisoners are being held including hygiene, are of concern to us".
In contrast, John Walker, a USA citizen who converted to Islam and fought for the Taliban, is taken back to the USA for a trial under a properly constituted court with access to legal representation. The UK newspaper, The Independent writes:
"Not only are such double standards offensive in themselves, but they spread like a virus around the world and erode the rights of those feeling the sharp edge of state power under regimes less sensitive to human rights and their legal protections. Israel, India, Russia and Zimbabwe are only four states which have used the rhetoric of the war against terrorism for repressive internal purposes."
Hundreds of prisoners in Khandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif are held in unsheltered stockades in the depth of winter; groups of 110 people held in cells designed for 15. Many die from disease. These actions also violate the Geneva Convention.
The USA ignores world opinion. Ari Fleischer, a spokesman for the USA government states that: "the President is satisfied that they are being treated as Americans would want people to be treated." Donald Rumsfeld (USA Secretary of Defence) declares: "I do not feel the slightest concern about their treatment. They are being treated vastly better than they treated anyone else." Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, counters this by saying that the USA "foolishly risks feeding the suspicion that this is second-rate victors' justice. The victims of 11 September  deserve the highest standards of justice".
Global Exchange reports that over 800 civilians have been killed in 11 regions because of faulty local intelligence.
The USA president, George W Bush states that he is looking for a "regime change" in Iraq and would like to use United Nations arms inspectors as an excuse.
100 warplanes from the USA and UK secretely bomb Iraq. In September and October the number of air raids on the country is more than for the previous eight months.
A United Nations resolution allows weapons inspectors to visit Iraq. When this resolution is accepted by Iraq, the country is bombed for ten days. Little of this action is reported in the Western media.
By the end of the year the USA has 100,000 soldiers in the region.
While United Nations weapons inspectors are in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of USA and UK troops are sent into the region surrounding the country. Many are based in non-democratic countries in the Gulf of Persia. These countries are part of the so-called "international coalition" or the "coalition of the willing". The USA and UK and their media vilify France and Germany for daring to show dissent against an invasion of Iraq even though these views are shared by a majority of European citizens and 50% of USA citizens.
The USA holds back information from the United Nations weapons inspectors. George Tenet, the director of the USA CIA, admits to a Senate committee that there were a "handful" of locations not passed on to the inspectors. Senator Carl Levin later tells the USA newspaper, The Washington Post that the USA has "undermined the inspectors".
In February 2003, the USA gives a presentation to the United Nations attempting to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat. The evidence included a dossier (Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation) supplied by the intelligence services of the UK government. A few days later, this document was shown to have been copied from a 10 year old student PhD thesis on the internet complete with the original spelling and grammatical mistakes. One passage had been altered from "aiding opposition groups" to "supporting terrorist organisations".
In March 2003, one of the weapons inspectors, Dr Mohamed Al-Baredi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reports to the United Nations Security Council that several UK and USA reports about Iraq's nuclear capabilities were fake. Very little of this is reported in the Western media.
Hundreds of bombing raids over Iraq are made by USA and UK war planes under cover of patrolling no-fly zones. The USA and UK declare that the no-fly zones are supported by United Nations Security Council Resolution 688. Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali was Secretary General of the United Nations when this resolution was passed in 1992:
"The issue of no fly zones was not raised and therefore not debated: not a word. They offer no legitimacy to countries sending their aircraft to attack Iraq. They are illegal".
The bombings have been occurring since 1992. Between July 1998 and January 2000, the USA flew 36,000 missions over Iraq. In 1999 alone, USA and UK aircraft dropped over 1,800 bombs hitting 450 targets. This is the longest Anglo-American bombing campaign since World War II with bombing occurring on a daily basis. Yet it is mostly ignored by the media in the West.
Iraq gives the United Nations a large document detailing their weapons. Over 60% of this document is taken away by the USA without permission. The document lists various companies that helped arm Iraq:
UK journalist, John Pilger, writing in the UK newspaper, The Independent on Sunday, investigates the under-reported effects of Depleted Uranium used by the USA and UK in Iraq and Kuwait during the Gulf War of 1991.
Dr Al-Ali, a cancer specialist and a member of the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, is based at Basra hospital:
"Before the Gulf War, we had only three or four deaths in a month from cancer. Now it's 30 to 35 patients dying every month, and that's just in my department. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48 per cent of the population in [the Basra] area will get cancer. That's almost half the population. Most of my family now have cancer, and we have no history of the disease. ...It is like Chernobyl here..."
Under a United Nations embargo, Iraq is denied equipment and expertise to decontaminate its 1991 battlefields. The sanctions committee is dominated by the USA and UK.
Professor Doug Rokke is a USA army physicist who was responsible for decontaminating Kuwait:
"I am like many people in southern Iraq. I have 5000 times the recommended level of radiation in my body. Most of my team are now dead. We face an issue to be confronted by people in the West, those with a sense of right and wrong: first, the decision by [the USA] and [UK] to use a weapon of mass destruction: depleted Uranium. When a tank fired its shells, each round carried over 4.5kg of solid uranium. What happened in the Gulf was a form of nuclear warfare."
The USA offers Turkey an aid package worth $ 6,000 million in grants and $ 20,000 million in loan guarantees to allow 60,000 American troops to use the country to invade Iraq. Turkey says it will only accept the deal after the USA agrees that 40,000 Turkish troops be allowed to enter Kurdish regions in northern Iraq. Turkey has been oppressing its own large Kurdish population and over 20,000 Kurds have died. Turkish officials say that the USA has assured them that Iraqi Kurds will not be given autonomy in a post-Saddam Iraq.
Senior Kurdish leaders state that they fear Turkey more than Saddam. The Kurdish Interior Minister, Karim Sanjari, reveals that "Only a week ago the main topic in the streets among Kurds was Saddam and the fear of a chemical attack. Now the only thing people talk about is Turkey and the Turkish advance".
In February, the USA special envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad admits that after the removal of the Iraqi leadership, the infrastructure of the ruling Baath party would remain intact with the top two officials in each ministry replaced by USA military officers. Sami Abdul-Rahman, the Deputy Prime Minister of the northern Kurdish region of Iraq, states: "If the USA wants to impose its own government, regardless of the ethnic and religious composition of Iraq, there is going to be a backlash".
Kuwait and Qatar, two Gulf states, agree to allow the USA to use military bases on their territory to invade Iraq in return for both regimes to be guaranteed by USA power. Neither country is a full democracy. For allowing USA air, search and rescue teams to operate near its Iraqi border, Jordan is promised $150 million in extra aid, protection against Iraq and compensation for loss of trade.
Russia is offered a free hand in Chechnya and oil concessions if they support the USA invasion of Iraq.
In order to guarantee votes in the United Nations, the USA puts diplomatic and economic pressure on several countries:
The UK are the USA's biggest supporters. In a statement to the European Union, UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, warns "I say to France and Germany and all the other EU colleagues to take care. We will reap a whirlwind if we push Americans into a unilateralist position in which they are at the centre of this unipolar world". In other words, let us not upset the Americans otherwise we'll all be in trouble.
The USA announces that contracts worth $ 900 million to reconstruct Iraq after a war will be awarded only to USA companies. Colin Adams of the British Consultants and Construction Bureau is angered by this "Our own view is, given what the UK is doing in terms of supporting the USA, it would not be unreasonable if the USA were to enable UK companies to bid for work". No mention is made by the USA or the UK of the Iraqis making their own decisions about who they would like to reconstruct their country.
United Nations Security Council members are disconcerted by reports of USA spying on countries whose votes the USA requires. One country, Chile, angrily requests an explanation from the UK government. Pakistan states that: "given the level of intelligence sharing with the United States that's going on right now, it means they don't trust what we say behind closed doors."
In mid-March, the USA, UK and Spain order the leader of Iraq, Saddam Husein, to leave his country or have it bombed. The three countries blame France for the coming war even though it is the USA and UK that have 200,000 troops on the borders of Iraq. The president of France, Jacques Chirac counters "We are told by Washington that the UN Security Council will lose all meaning unless it takes a decision on Iraq but that the UN can only take one decision and that is the decision - for war - taken in Washington months ago".
France is blamed for threatening to use its United Nations veto. Between 1945 and 2002, France used its veto 18 times while the UK has used its veto 32 times. During the same period, the USA used its veto 76 times.
The USA expels two United Nations Iraqi diplomats from the USA and identifies 300 Iraqi diplomats in 60 countries that it wants expelled.
In Kuwait, USA General Buford Blount admits that Depleted Uranium will be used in any conflict in Iraq: "If we receive the order to attack, final preparations will only take a few days. We have already begun to unwrap our depleted uranium anti-tank shells". These remarks are ignored by Western media.
Lieutenant-General Jay Garner is named by the USA as co-ordinator of the civilian administration in post-War Iraq. In October 2000, he had put his name to a statement blaming the Palestinians for the Israel-Palestine conflict and declaring that "a strong Israel is an asset that American military planners and political leaders can rely on".
KryssTal Opinion: See Iraq - Why The USA Wanted Regime Change.
The USA bars Russia, France and Germany from rebuilding contracts in Iraq. The UK supports this stand even though it was not made by the representatives of the Iraqi people.
Since the invasion of Iraq, over 355 people have been killed by terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey and Spain.
The USA announces a handover of power to Iraqis on 30 June. The handover will not be to an elected body but to the USA appointed Iraq Governing Council (known as "the Governed Council" by most Iraqis).
In March the Iraq Governing Council signs a new interim constitution which states that "The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority . . . shall remain in force".
These laws include the USA'a hated Order 39, which drastically changes Iraq's previous constitution to allow foreign companies to own 100% of Iraqi assets, and to take 100% of their profits out of the country. Other orders place USA auditors into Iraqi ministries to enforce and monitor Order 39, grant foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi laws, allow USA banks to purchase up to 50% of Iraqi banks, drop the corporation tax rate from 40% to 15% and caps income tax at 15%, suspend all tariffs for good coming into Iraq (this one has put financial pressures on Iraqi small businesses). These laws are a form of neo-colonialism and allow privatisation of most of the country's industries.
With this clause, it means that the occupation will not end on 30 June. As Iraq based journalist, Naomi Klein, puts it, the occupation "will simply be outsourced to a group of hand-picked Iraqi politicians with no democratic mandate or sovereign power. With its new Iraqi face, the government will be free from the ugly perception that Iraq's national assets are being auctioned off by foreigners, not to mention being unencumbered by input from Iraqi voters who might have ideas of their own."
The new constitution also contains the following provisions:
Interestingly, although the USA has changed the economic laws to benefit its companies, it has not altered anti-trade union laws imposed by the previous regime in 1987. In a related development, the USA selected one of the largest palaces in Baghdad as its future embassy. USA Senator, Joseph Biden, writing in the Washington Post described the policy thus:
"Our goal should be to take the 'American face' off the occupation so that we are not blamed for everything that doesn't go right in Iraq... Instead, the Bush administration's current plan is to have a new U.S. ambassador call all the shots, at the risk that Iraqis will think the occupation has not really ended on June 30. Indeed, we will be going from the CPA -- which at least has some international flavor -- to an exclusively American operation with a 'Super-Embassy.'"
USA writer, Jonathan Schell, put it more accurately:
"Instead of saying, 'On June 30, the Coalition will hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people,' we should say, 'On June 30, the re-election campaign of George W. Bush will hand over the appearance of responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq to certain of its local appointees'."
Two Iraqi journalists are killed by USA troops.
In April, USA forces close a newspaper, Al-Hawzah, which opposes the occupation. The USA newspaper, New York Times, justified the closure by saying: "Although the paper did not print any calls for attacks, the American authorities said false reporting, including articles that ascribed suicide bombings to Americans, could touch off violence". The USA appointed Minister of Communication, Haider Al-Abadi, is not informed. He asks: "Is this how we are going to run the country in the future sending soldiers to shut down newspapers?"
The closure provokes demonstrations. Iraqi soldiers, trained and controlled by the USA, open fire on demonstrators in Baghdad. As the demonstrators return to their homes in the poor neighbourhood of Sadr City, USA troops with tanks, helicopters, and planes, fire at homes, shops, streets, and ambulances. According to local hospitals, 47 people are killed and many more injured. Rasool Gurawi, a spokesman at the al-Sadr office, asked, "This is democracy? Attacking peaceful demonstrations? Killing people and destroying buildings?"
The injured include Ali Hussein (16) shot in the spine from a helicopter; Gailan Ibrahim (29) shot in the back by a USA plane; Ali Faris (14) shot while inside his home.
In Najaf, 20 demonstrators are killed and more than 150 injured.
In the town of Fallujah, four USA citizens are lynched. They are described in the Western media as "security contractors", but actually part of an army of mercenaries, who are unaccountable and outside military discipline. Over 400 companies provide security in Iraq, all paid for by UK and USA tax payers with the profits going to the USA companies awarded the contracts. The mercenaries include people from Chile who had served under the dictatorship of Pinochet and from apartheid era South Africa. Casualty figures for mercenaries are not normally given by the USA and UK authorities.
In retaliation, Fallujah (population 300,000) is sealed off and bombed as the USA attempts to crush anti-occupation resistance. During the attack, ambulances are barred from entering. The power station is bombed. The attack was with artillery, snipers, Apache helicopters, 500-ton, laser-guided bombs, cluster bombs (which shred human flesh) and F-16 jets. Entire residential areas, including mosques and schools are destroyed. Arabic stations like Al-Jazeera show the carnage but CNN (USA) and the BBC (UK) ignore the footage.
Sixteen children and eight women are killed when a house is attacked by aircraft. Forty people are killed when an F-16 jet fires a laser-guided missile into a mosque. In a single week, over 600 people are killed (including 200 women and 100 children). Thousands of refugees, stretching for 10 km, are stopped from leaving by USA troops.
USA forces close the bridge over the River Euphrates which means the population is cut off from the main hospital. Doctors are forced to close the hospital and set up a number of small, less well-equipped clinics. According to the organization, Doctors Without Borders, USA marines occupy the hospitals, preventing hundreds of wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fire from the rooftops at anyone who tries to approach. These events are not reported or shown in the Western media.
Makki al-Nazzal, manages a small clinic. The clinic is busy as USA snipers shoot at people entering and leaving the main hospitals. Al-Nazzal also describes ambulances, women and children being shot by USA snipers. He says, "I have been a fool for 47 years. I used to believe in European and American civilization".
Jouralist Rahul Mahajan looked for verification and found "An ambulance with two neat, precise bullet-holes in the windshield on the driver's side, pointing down at an angle that indicated they would have hit the driver's chest (the snipers were on rooftops, and are trained to aim for the chest). Another ambulance again with a single, neat bullet-hole in the windshield. There's no way this was due to panicked spraying of fire. These were deliberate shots designed to kill the drivers."
Mahajan describes the scene at the clinic "we saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head. She was seizing and foaming at the mouth when they brought her in; doctors did not expect her to survive the night. Another likely terminal case was a young boy with massive internal bleeding. I also saw a man with extensive burns on his upper body and shredded thighs, with wounds that could have been from a cluster bomb; there was no way to verify in the madhouse scene of wailing relatives, shouts of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great), and anger at the Americans."
Another journalist, Dahr Jamail, also visited the clinic: "One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amongst her muffled moaning. The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life. After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive. Two of the last victims that arrived at the clinic were reported by the locals to have been hit by cluster bombs -- they were horribly burned and their bodies shredded. One of the bodies they brought to the clinic was that of an old man who was shot by a sniper outside of his home, while his wife and children sat wailing inside."
One of the fighters in Fallujah (who calls himself Abu Freedom) is asked by UPI reporter, Mitchell Prothero, why he fights. His answer: "I don't want to see Americans in charge of my country". The USA calls these people, "rebels" and "haters of freedom".
Of the 1,800 people injured, over 200 are children. No names are given in the Western media and no interviews are conducted with any families. As part of its conditions for a cease fire, the USA insists that the Al-Jazeera news crew be handed over to them.
290 people are killed in other cities, over 30 of them children.
According to Robin Cook, former UK foreign secretary, the tactics used by the USA are similar to Israeli tactics in Palestine: "It is a vicious irony that having promised that victory in Iraq would bring a road map to peace in the Middle East, the Bush Administration has in practice brought to Baghdad, Sharon's military tactics against the Palestinians with precisely the same result in consolidating local opposition."
These images were not shown on Western media but were widely shown around the Arab world.
The uprising spreads so that the USA-led occupation simultaneously loses control in Basra, Najaf, Kerbala, Nasiriyah, Kufa, Kut, Diwaniyah, and in several Baghdad suburbs (Thawra, Shuala, and Kadhimiyah).
In Najaf, Spanish troops close a teaching hospital giving its 200 doctors two hours to leave. USA troops close another hospital in Qaim.
Shaykh Sadun al-Shemary, a former member of the Iraqi army told reporter Rahul Mahajan: "Things are exactly the same as in Saddam's time -- maybe worse."
The USA transfer the deposed leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to their military base in Qatar without informing the country's rulers.
USA engineers begin the construction of 14 "enduring bases" in Iraq. These will be capable of housing thousands of USA troops. The bases are planned for Baghdad, Mosul, Taji, Balad, Kirkuk and in areas near Nasiriyah, near Tikrit, near Fallujah and between Irbil and Kirkuk. Airfields in Baghdad and Mosul are to be renovated and enhanced, and 100km of road will be upgraded.
No elected Iraqi has been consulted over these plans.
The USA-appointed Iraq Governing Council create a new flag for Iraq. All members of the resistance immediately take up the pre-invasion flag as their banner.
Photographs taken by soldiers and showing USA and UK soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners are published in newspapers. The story, which had been supressed by the USA military for several months, is headlined around the world (except in the USA where it initially appears on page 24 of the Washington Post). The prison is Abu-Ghraib in Baghdad, once used by former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Some pictures showed USA troops smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male Iraqi prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another. The fact that female soldiers were involved causes shock and outrage in the Muslim world. The most iconic image shows a hooded prisoner standing on a small box with wires attached to his stretched-out arms.
Seymour Hersh, a USA journalist, asserts that most of the Iraqi prisoners were civilians picked up at checkpoints. He was writing for USA magazine, New Yorker and quoting from a secret military report written by Major-General Antonio Taguba in January 2004. He describes many tortures used on Iraqi prisoners: "Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee".
Taguba's report states that the abuse is systematic and also included punching, slapping and kicking detainees, forcing male detainees to wear women's underwear, forcing male detainees to masturbate while being photographed, pulling detainees by dog chains placed around their necks, and a case of a male guard having sex with a female detainee.
Terry Charman, museum historian at London's Imperial War Museum, describes the images: "This is on par with the images of the Holocaust and of the Nazis taunting their prisoners, shaving the heads of orthodox Jews, which they did a lot of when they took over Poland. It has a similar resonance. Now these images show that members of the Coalition are treating these people in exactly the same way he treated his people. The sort of thing is very counterproductive." His advice is that "You should never denigrate or underestimate your enemy in wartime. The humiliation you are heaping on them may be felt or revisited upon the troops who are on the ground."
The USA and UK governments describe the incidents as isolated. The UK government attacks the newspaper that published the photographs. However, Amnesty International reports that the torture of Iraqi prisoners by USA and UK soldiers is "not an isolated incident". During the year of occupation Amnesty International reports "frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by coalition forces during the past year" which included sleep deprivation, beatings, prolonged hooding and restraint in painful positions, and exposure to bright lights and loud music. The International Red Cross also says that these abuses have been occurring for a year. Their reports had been ignored.
Confirmation comes from USA soldiers. Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederik says he was told to use these techniques on prisoners to "soften them up" for interrogation. Staff Sergent Camilo Mejia says that Military Intelligence instructed him to deprive detainees of sleep and stage mock executions.
The USA newspaper, Washington Post publishes accounts by ex-detainees: Hasham Mohsen Lazim, a used tyre dealer spent four months in USA custody. He was one of the hooded men in the photographs.He was hooded and stripped. His body was covered with writing with a felt tip pen. He heard the laughter of females.
For three hours he and other men were made to masturbate against a wall, crawl on top of one another to form a pyramid and ride each other as if they were riding a donkey. He was left naked for two days.
He was handcuffed to a bed for several days. He had to sleep and urinate where he was. Haidar Saber Abed said: "They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees". According to Ameen Saeed Al-Sheikh, "They forced me to eat pork and put liquor in my mouth". Liquor (alcohol) and pork are both forbidden to Muslims. Mohanded Juma says that the prison guards "...used to throw the food into the toilet and said 'go take it and eat it'".
No criminal charges can be brought against a USA soldier in Iraq because the USA-appointed Iraqi Governing Council has given the American military a blanket amnesty from prosecution. Secondly, with the coerced backing of many countries, no USA soldier or citizen can be prosecuted for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Thirdly, many of the interrogators are non-military "security personnel" (mercenaries) who are not subject to USA military discipline.
Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, summed up the views of many around the world: "This is the straw that broke the camel's back for America. The liberators are worse than the dictators. They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis but all the Third World and the Arab countries".
According to Mahmoud Walid, a 28-year-old writer from Egypt, "These soldiers are being touted as the saviours of the Iraqi people and America claims to be the moral leader of the world, but they have been caught with their pants down, they have been exposed, the whole world sees them as they really are". Khadija Mousa, an ordinary woman from Syria put the view of many Arabs: "They keep asking why we hate them? Why we detest them? Maybe they should look well in the mirror and then they will hate themselves . . . What I saw is very, very humiliating. The Americans are showing their true image".
Nelson Madela, the ex-President of South Africa, makes a speech to the parliament in Cape Town as he retires from politics. In part of the speech, he criticises USA and UK actions in Iraq:
"We watch as two of the leading democracies ... get involved in a war that the UN did not sanction: we look on with horror as reports surface of terrible abuses against the dignity of human beings held captive by invading forces in the in own country". The speech is not broadcast on UK television which instead shows a prime time television program ("Beneith the Halo", Channel 4) attacking Mandela and his legacy.
According to Amnesty International, over 13,000 people are held at Abu-Ghraib prison, without trial, their families not allowed to meet them. In thousands of cases people are not even aware that their family members are there. During one news item by the UK television station, BBC, one woman told the cameras that she was a mother of five children before the interviewers were told not to film.
In all, over 18,000 prisoners are being held in Iraqi prisons by the USA. Including prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Diego Garcia, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the USA is holding over 25,000 detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
USA Private Lynndie England pointing to the genitals of hooded Iraqi male prisoners.
Charles Grainer, a USA marine pictured with naked male Iraqis who were forced to simulate sexual acts on each other.
Terrified naked prisoner threatened with guard dogs. The next photograph in the sequence shows this man after having been bitten by one of the dogs.
Naked detainee covered in excrement being made to walk along a coridor.
Naked Iraqis forced to simulate sexual acts.
Three television stations (Canal Plus from France, ABC from USA, and CBC from Canada) broadcast a video taken from a USA Apache helicopter.
The video shows a 30mm gun fired at a clearly wounded man, crawling on the road in December 2003. In the soundtrack, the pilot says "Someone wounded". The reply is "Hit him, hit the truck and him". Deliberately shooting a wounded man is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
No other Western television station shows the film.
Amnesty International criticises the USA record in Iraq saying that its forces have "shot Iraqis dead during demonstrations, tortured and ill-treated prisoners, arrested people arbitrarily and held them indefinitely, demolished houses in acts of revenge and collective punishment".
There is also criticism of the USA and UK for not keeping records of the number of Iraqis killed during the invasion and under the occupation. The UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, describes this failure as "odd".
In the eyes of people in the Middle East, the USA's actions resemble those of Israel in Palestine.
UK soldiers force four youths into a canal in Basra. One of the boys, 16 year old, Ahmad Jabbar Kareem, drowns. This is one of a number of cases of deaths in UK custody investigated by the Ministry of Defence. Other victims include Baha Mousa, 26, a hotel receptionist, kicked and beaten to death, and Abd al-Jubba Mousa, 53, a headmaster who was hit with rifle butts as he was taken away by troops.
USA forces attack the main mosque area in Kerbala killing over 25.
In the holy city of Najaf, over 110 people are killed. USA tanks conduct operations in the cemetery. This cemetery is full of ornately carved tombs; it the largest in the world and one of the holiest sites for Shia Muslims. The attack also damages the Shrine of Imam Ali, holiest of Shia buildings.
One resident, Ali Wasi, says "I feel humiliated, our sanctity has been violated". Demonstartions break out in Iran, not normally on friendly terms with Iraq.
In London (UK), an organisation called Child Victims of War (CVW) describes how children in Iraq are suffering because of the legacy of Depleted Uranium. This is a radioactive metal used in artillery because of its hardness. It was used by the USA and UK to destroy tanks in Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 conflicts. Radiation levels from destroyed Iraqi tanks has been measured to be 2,500 times higher than normal and 20 times higher than normal in the surrounding area.
Depleted Uranium produces dust that is rapidly absorbed by the body. The effects include children born with severe deformities (including shortened limbs and eye defects), several leukaemia cases per week (before 1991 this condition was almost unknown). The number of deformed babies has increased from 3.04 per thousand in 1991 to 22.19 per thousand in 2001. The number of Down's Syndrome children has increased by five times since 1991. It is estimated that around 300 tonnes of the metal was used in 1991 and 1,500 tonnes in 2003.
CVW also stated that child malnutrition, the supply of drinkable water and the amount of hospital medical supplies have all worsened since the 2003 invasion. According to CVW, every child in Iraq has "had a degree of psychological trauma". Many children ("hundreds" according to Human Rights Watch) are still being killed by unexploded cluster bombs.
A USA helicopter fires on a wedding party in Makradheep, a desert village in western Iraq close to the Syrian border. According to Sheikh Nasrallah Mikfil, the head of the local tribe, 41 people, including 10 women and 15 children, are killed. The USA calls the victims "foreign fighters", even though they themselves are the foreign occupiers. Major General James Mattis refuses to accept blame, declaring: "I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men". Among the dead was Hussein Ali, a well-known wedding singer, who was killed along with his brother Mohammed. Both had been performing at the wedding. According to eye witnesses, 40 missiles were used during a one and a half hour attack on a village of 25 houses.
The Western media show very little of the filmed burials whereas the Arab world sees the bodies of brightly dressed women and decapitated children. No names of the victims are given unlike the detailed coverage when Europeans or Americans are killed. The UK BBC television news calls the massacre a "public relations disaster for the Americans" and "more bad news for George Bush" rather than a tragedy for the Iraqi families slaughtered.
On the same day, the Arab world watches images of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators killed and maimed by Israeli tank shells and helicopter missiles in Gaza.
The USA also attacked a wedding party in Afghanistan in 2002, killing 50 people.
The USA and UK attempt to draft a United Nations resolution that will give immunity to their troops for all acts committed in Iraq.
The USA backed Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, had arrived in Iraq with the USA invasion force and had been groomed to become the new leader of Iraq. After criticising the occupation, his house is searched and his property destroyed by Iraqi police with USA operatives present. Between 1992 and 2004, Chalabi's political party, Iraqi National Congress, had been given $ 100 million by the USA government.
The United Nations is sidestepped when, after a meeting with the USA proconsul, Paul Bremer, the IGC nominate the Prime Minister of the new government. He is one of their own members, Iyad Allawi who is a UK educated Shia Muslim with links to the USA's CIA and the UK's MI6. He has been responsible for passing some of the faulty intelligence to the West that was used to justify the invasion.
The nomination is quickly accepted by the USA, as a spokesperson says he "had emerged as a popular candidate". The UK newspaper, Financial Times, writes that Alawi "is the least popular of 17 prominent Iraqi political personalities monitored by the Iraqi Centre for Research and Studies".
Many consider that the "handover of power" is a cosmetic change and the nomination of Allawi a USA-backed coup. Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA case officer who served in the Middle East had this to say of Iyad Allawi: "Two facts stand out about Allawi. One, he likes to think of himself as a man of ideas; and, two, his strongest virtue is that he's a thug."
Lakhdar Brahimi tells UK newspaper, The Guardian, who was in control of the selection process: "I'm sure he doesn't mind me saying that Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country". The members of the IGC itself are considered by most Iraqis to be collaborators. Several have been the targets of assassinations, some of which have been successful.
In addition, Paul Bremer threatens to veto the choice of president if it not the USA's preferred candidate.
The post of Defence Minister goes to Hazem Sha'alan, a former property developer from the UK; the Interior Minister is Falah al-Naqib, another former exile.
Once the new government is in place the Western media begin to refer to them as "the new Iraqi government" even though Iraqis themselves have had nothing to do with their selection. Allawi calls on the occupying powers to continue their occupation: "Iraq will need multinational forces to defeat its enemies - I call on the United States and Europe to protect Iraq".
The United Nations passes a resolution (number 1546) in which "the presence of the multinational force in Iraq is at the request of the incoming Interim Government of Iraq and therefore reaffirms the authorisation for the multinational force under unified command". In other words, the newly USA-selected government, requests the USA occupation forces to stay. The term "unified command" is a euphemism for "USA control".
The Interim Iraqi Government will have no control over the USA or UK military. According to articles in two USA newspapers, Wall Street Journal (issue 13 May) and New York Times (issue 2 June), the USA has been "quietly building institutions that will give the US powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make. In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, [the US] created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. 110 to 160 American advisers will be layered through Iraq's ministries, in some cases on contracts signed by the occupation, extending into the period after June 30. In many cases, these US and Iraqi proxies will serve multiyear terms and have significant authority to run criminal investigations, award contracts, direct troops and subpoena citizens".
As officials put it "the new Iraqi government will be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit US approval".
The USA passes a law barring what it calls "illegal militias" from standing in elections for three years. This will cover most people fighting against the occupation. Just before the "handover", the USA ensures that contracts are handed to its favoured companies who are mainly from the USA and who charge up to ten times what local companies would. The contracts are framed in a way that will make it ruinous for a future Iraq government to cancel them.
KryssTal Opinion: Anyone for Democracy? Anyone for a UN sell out? Anyone for economic imperialism?
Over 40 people are killed (including women and children) in USA airstrikes in Fallujah. The new puppet government in waiting supports the attack. The government then requests help from NATO (a local European-North American military alliance dominated by the USA and not a world body) to train its army.
Three soldiers accused of abusing prisoners in Abu-Ghraib prison go on trial. Their defence is that they were following orders. One of the lawyers, Paul Bergrin, admits (on the UK Channel 4 News, 21 June) that the interrogation procedures used were approved from higher up:
"They used the humility method that has been known based upon the Israeli government's intelligence and expertise on Arab prisoners of parading them naked in front of other people. And what that did emotionally and psychologically is that caused the Arab prisoner to not want that photograph displayed because of cultural issues so it made them talk."
In an attempt to show that the USA wanted to treat Iraqi prisoners humanely and did not condone torture, the USA government releases internal documents that set out what its soldiers are allowed to do to prisoners during interrogations. The documents included a memo by USA president, George W Bush, stating that the Geneva Convention would not apply. The USA is a signatory to the Convention. The list of approved interrogation techniques dates from December 2002 and applies to the concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay (in USA-leased land in Cuba) as well as to Iraq. The list included:
Sherman Carroll of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture affirmed that "the documents from the White House authorised specific interrogation techniques by US forces abroad that amount to torture".
In late June, the USA, pro-consul, Paul Bremer, passes Order 17. This makes USA and UK military personnel, security personnel ("mercenaries") and ordinary civilian contractors immune from all civil and criminal law in Iraq. Westerners will have exception from paying tax and will not even need to have driving licenses. Contractors will have immunity from anything done under a contract, including defaulting on payments or injuring people.
A few days later, Western governments and their media begin a massive propaganda campaign to convince the USA electorate that there has been a "transfer of power" to the Iraqis in Iraq. A low key ceremony is conducted in the USA compound in Baghdad (called the Green Zone). No foreign dignitaries are present. The first announcement is made in Istanbul during a NATO summit in Turkey.
The 160,000 USA occupation force is restyled "the multinational forces" which have been invited to stay in Iraq by the "new Iraqi government" (headed by the CIA-linked Iyad Allawi). The Coalition Provisional Authority is renamed "The American Embassy" with a staff of over 3000 (making it the largest in the world). All Iraqi ministries have USA "advisors" attached to them. The USA proconsul, Paul Bremer, leaves to be replaced by the new USA "ambassador", John Negraponte, who arrives unannounced and without ceremony.
Negraponte was ambassador to Honduras between 1981 to 1985 while the country was being used by the USA-armed Contras to destabilise the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. The USA newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, probed this period using released government papers and concluded that the ambassador knew of and supported the activities of Battalion 3-16, a Honduran death squad . According to a former Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, this was because "they needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed".
In July, the USA announces that Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq has been "handed back to the Iraqis" but he will remain in USA custody in Qatar. A pre-trial appearance before an Iraqi judge is made. This is made inside the USA controlled Green Zone (also known as "the American Embassy").
The USA selects the media to be allowed to cover the appearance (none of whom are Iraqi) and confiscates some of the footage, destroying the opening testimony of some of the defendants. The footage broadcast around the world is censored and contains the text "cleared by US military".
A USA television worker confirms that the USA was "... running the show. The Americans decided what the world could and could not see of the trial - and it was meant to be an Iraqi trial. There was a British official in the courtroom whom we were not allowed to take pictures of. The other men were US troops who had been ordered to wear ordinary clothes so that they were 'civilians' in the court".
Professor Michael Scharf, who is training the USA military to be judges in Guantanamo Bay, was more descriptive of the USA role: "The United States will be involved in the trial but from behind the scenes, more like a puppet master".
After "handing control to the Iraqis", the USA bombs a residential area in Fallujah killing more than 12 people.
After a week, USA-approved Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, introduces legislation allowing the imposition of martial law, curfews, a ban on demonstrations, restrictions of movement, phone-tapping, the opening of post and the freezing of bank accounts. This is less than two years after the USA and UK invaded the country "to bring democracy". In the same week, a USA senate committee reports that the intelligence for going to war in Iraq was flawed.
USA forces vacate a building that contains the names of 600,000 of Iraq's war dead from the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s. The soldiers had daubed the walls with company insignias and other graffiti.
In the north of Iraq, Kurds force Arabs from their homes in Kirkuk, creating over 100,000 refugees living in camps in northern Iraq. This and the fact that the Kurds supported the USA invasion, engenders widespread anti-Kurdish feeling among the rest of the population in the country.
The Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, orders the Arab television station, Al-Jazeera, to leave the country while police close their Baghdad offices. This is the station watched by the majority of Arabs in the Middle East which has been criticised and had its offices bombed by the USA.
In Najaf, USA forces surround the city. Armed Iraqi police order all foreign journalists out of the city. The police chief announces that they had two hours to leave. He said that the order had been issued by the Ministry of the Interior of Iyad Allawi's (USA appointed) government.
A little later the journalists are told: "You have been warned. You have two hours. If you don't leave you will be shot". This story failed to appear on UK television news.
The next day, armed police return to the Sea of Najaf Hotel where all the journalists are staying. They attempt to arrest a journalist from al-Arabiya television, Ahmed al-Saleh. As journalists and hotel staff protest, a police lieutenant tells them "We are going to open fire on this hotel. We are going to smash it up. I will kill you all. You did this all to yourselves." The police eventually left and fired shots into the hotel.
The response of the UK government to their journalists being shot at and threatened was to issue a statement via a spokesperson: "I think we should not be too hasty to turn this into a debate about free speech. There is quite a lively media in Iraq for the first time in years".
KryssTal Opinion: Anyone for free speech?
According to the UK newspaper, The Independent, two USA companies were awarded huge reconstruction contracts without having to tender. Halliburton has received contracts worth $ 4,700 million while Bechtel was awarded $ 2,800 million. Both companies have close ties with the USA administration.
Abd Al-Jabbar al-Kubaisi, a politician who opposed Saddam Hussein but also opposed the USA invasion, is arrested by the occupying forces with the collusion of the USA appointed Iraqi government, and taken to an undisclosed location. According to the Arab National Forum, this is one of many such cases of the arrest of dissidents. This story is unreported in the Western media.
In early September, the USA bombs two houses in Fallujah killing 17 people, including children who are blown to pieces. The story fails to make the Western media a day after prominent television and newspaper headlines describing the deaths of 16 Israelis killed by Palestinian suicide bombers. A previous strike on Fallujah a few days earlier had killed 5 people and wounded 42. More people are killed in Fallujah over several days but the media fail to mention the region until 7 USA soldiers are killed.
35 people are killed in Baghdad by USA forces.
Fallujah is bombed for three successive days killing over 40 people, including three women, a 65 year old man and five children. The USA describes the attacks as a "precision strike" but photos of injured children are published by the Arab television station al-Jazeera. 15 homes are destroyed by tank fire. In Tal Afar, 27 are killed and 70 are injured.
a week-long invasion by USA forces.
In mid-September, air strikes on Fallujah by the USA leave 18 people dead, including women and children. Seven people, including the driver of an ambulance, are killed when USA aircraft fire a missile at the vehicle while it was transporting casualties near the northern gate of the city. A paramedic and five patients are also killed. According to Dr Rafia al-Isawi, director of Fallujah hospital: "Every time we send out an ambulance, it gets targeted". Attacking medical facilities is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Three homes are destroyed in al-Shurta neighbourhood.
USA snipers kill at least 11 people in the city of Ramadi. Dr Khamis al-Saad, general director of Ramadi hospital reports that the dead included a woman and children while another 18 were wounded by USA fire. Ambulances and medical teams are targeted by USA snipers in different areas of Ramadi including close to hospitals for women and children.
Two ambulance drivers and members of medical teams in the vehicles are also killed. Medical staff and patients inside the hospitals are targeted and several are shot in the head. 29 others were injured. Images of one of the targeted ambulances are shown on Arabic television at the same time as the USA is describing the attacks as a "precision raid".
Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations tells the UK radio station BBC World Service that the invasion of Iraq was "not in conformity" with the UN Security Council or the UN Charter. This is a polite way of saying that the invasion was not legal. On the same day (and mostly unreported in the West) the USA announces that $ 3,400 million originally allocated to providing water and power to Iraqis is to be redirected to boosting security and oil output.
Seven rockets are fired by two USA helicopters into a crowd in Baghdad killing 13 people and wounding 41. Film of the incident by al-Arabiya contradicts the USA account of the massacre in which Mazen-al-Tomeizi, a Palestinian television producer, is among the dead.
Another air attack on Falluja kills over 56 people and wounds 40. Several strikes on the village of Zoba, 7 km south of Falluja, demolish 13 houses. Dr Ahmad Khalil of Falluja general hospital reported: "The bodies of 30 people killed in Zoba were brought to Falluja general hospital as well as 40 wounded." He added that many of the victims were women and children.
The USA military described the attack as a "precision strike" which "destroyed a terrorist compound". However, Iraqi medical sources and independent journalists in Falluja say that most of those brought into the hospitals are civilians, and included many women and children.
After over a week of violence, the story appears on BBC television news in the UK but the number of victims is described as "several". After a further week of similar attacks, the USA appointed Iraqi government bans the Ministry of Health from revealing civilian casualty figures.
In October, USA forces attack the city of Sammara.
The USA uses helicopter gunships, jets and snipers; over 125 people are killed. According to an ambulance driver: "Dead bodies and injured people are lying everywhere in the city. The Americans fired at us when we tried to evacuate them. Later on they told us that we can evacuate only injured women and children, but we cannot pick up injured men".
The denial of medical treatment is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Local people complain that they are unable to take their injured to hospital as USA forces are arresting all males over the age of 15. All power and water has been cut off and snipers are firing at people. According to Iraqi journalist Ziyad al-Samarai: "The situation in Sammara city is very tense and unstable. US forces have taken up rooftop positions on the city's buildings and schools, completely closing the city and preventing people from moving around".
According to schoolteacher, Rahim Abdul-Karim, "There has been a lot of deaths, and they have been ordinary people. They are killing us to save us". Another man describes seeing stray dogs picking at corpses in the street.
The USA continues to describe their actions as "precision strikes". In the main hospital, doctors say that of the first 47 bodies brought in, 11 were women, 5 were children and 7 were elderly men. Even the BBC television news in the UK begins to talk about "US claims" while showing children being pulled out of the rubble of destroyed homes.
Fallujah was also attacked by USA warplanes during the hours of darkness. Two houses were reported to have been flattened in al-Shurta district. Dr Ahmad Tahir at Falluja's general hospital said seven dead, including children and women, and 13 wounded were received at the hospital. All the victims were civilians. A photographer from Associated Press describes seeing the bodies of women and children being removed from the rubble of the homes.
In the Sadr City suburb in Baghdad USA forces fire missiles into packed tenement buildings.
The USA appointed Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, makes a speech in the USA Congress. This is later shown to have been written by the USA president's re-election team.
An Iraqi organisation, Struggle Against Hegemony, states that over 37,000 civilians were killed between the start of the invasion in March 2003 and October 2003. This figure does not include deaths of Iraqi military and paramilitary forces. According to Muhammad al-Ubaidi:
"For the collation of our statistics we visited the most remote villages, spoke and coordinated with grave-diggers across Iraq, obtained information from hospitals, and spoke to thousands of witnesses who saw incidents in which Iraqi civilians were killed by US fire."
Al-Ubaidi, a physiology professor based in the UK, provided a detailed breakdown of the 37,000 civilian deaths for each region in Iraq.
|Karbala and Najaf||2263|
The counting stopped in October 2003 after researchers were arrested by USA forces and have not been seen since.
In October 2004, a scientific study published in the UK medical magazine, The Lancet, suggests that at least 100,000 people have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. More than half of the victims have been women and children killed by "the effect of areal weaponry", in other words, air strikes. The survey was undertaken by public health experts from Iraq and the USA (Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland). The figures are much higher than earlier estimates based on media sources. Some studies suggest that even these figures are an under-estimate. The occupying forces are also criticised by the report for failing to keep figures of Iraqi casualties.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that 350 tons of high explosive went missing from from storage at Al-Qaqa'a during the USA invasion in March 2003. Iraqi witness maintain that USA troops were told of the presence of the material at the site but failed to guard it. The site was one listed by the UK as producing illegal weapons.
In November, the secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, warns the USA and UK not to attack the city of Fallujah as that would make the situation in Iraq more difficult. His plea is ignored. The USA heavily bombs the city from the air for several days and orders civilians to leave.
Ralph Peters, a former military officer told USA newspaper, New York Post: "We must not be afraid to make an example of Fallujah. We need to demonstrate that the United States military cannot be deterred or defeated. If that means widespread destruction, we must accept the price Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage, reduced to shards, the price will be worth it''.
A month after stating that most of Iraq is "completely safe'', the USA-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, declares martial law throughout all of Iraq except the Kurdish north. The new powers allow public gatherings to be broken up, private houses to be entered without warrants, and people to be detained without trial. These are similar powers held by the previous regime that the USA had thought was so totalitarian that it had to be removed.
The USA invades the city of Fallujah (population normally 300,000) with over 10,000 troops for the second time in 2004, taking the Fallujah General Hospital, the city's main health care facility. Patients in the hospital are handcuffed and dragged out of their rooms for examination by troops. Most are later released. Mehdi Abdulla, a 33 year old ambulance driver describes USA actions: "Doctors in Fallujah are reporting to me that there are patients in the hospital there who were forced out by the Americans. Some doctors there told me they had a major operation going, but the soldiers took the doctors away and left the patient to die". Nazzal Emergency Hospital, a recently constructed trauma clinic, is bombed and destroyed killing 20 doctors and a dozen patients; a nearby warehouse for medical supplies is also destroyed.
Half of the city's 120 mosques are destroyed by air strikes. The effect on the Arab and Muslim world of images of mosques being attacked with tanks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan can only be imagined. Many people are killed and bodies have to be buried in gardens due to the curfew. The wounded cannot get medical attention. There are reports of bodies lying in the streets.
According to Colonel Mike Ramos, anyone violating the curfew is part of a "free fire zone" - in other words, any thing that moves will be shot at. Colonel Gary Brandl, a USA marine, tells the UK television station, the BBC: "The enemy has a face. It is Satan's. He is in Fallujah, and we are going to destroy him."
Muhammad Abbud has to watch his 9 year old son, Ghaith, bleed to death after being hit by shrapnel: "We just bandaged his stomach and gave him water, but he was losing a lot of blood. He died this afternoon". This story is extensively covered by Middle Eastern media but ignored by Western television news. Sami al-Jumaili, a doctor at Fallujah Hospital said: "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded. There are scores of injured civilians in their homes who we can't move. A 13-year-old child just died in my hands". The USA-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, responds by accusing Iraqi doctors of exaggerating civilian casualties.
A resident of the city, Fadri al-Badrani, tells the Reuters news agency: "Every minute, hundreds of bombs and shells are exploding. The north of the city is in flames. Fallujah has become like hell". Another resident, Farhan Saleh added: "My kids are hysterical with fear. They are traumatised by the sound but there is nowhere to take them".
A fleeing woman.
The magazine, Christian Science Monitor, quotes a retired general with connections to the USA military as noting, This is being done for not only its effect on Fallujah, but for its demonstration effects...on other places resembling Fallujah�. In other words, if you resist us, this is what will happen to you. The use of violence for the purpose of intimidation and spreading terror is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions.
Television reports mention "phosphorous rounds" without elaborating. This is a substance that sticks to skin and burns. A hospital doctor, Kamal Hadeethi, is quoted in the USA newspaper, Washington Post as saying "The corpses of the mujaheddin which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted". People reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous or napalm burns.
None of this is mentioned in the Western media.
Their destination and status remains unknown.
As the slaughter continues some members of the the USA-appointed government, decide to speak out and pull out of the government. Mohsen Abdel Hamid, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party explains his reasons: "The American attack on our people in Fallujah has led and will lead to more killings and genocide without mercy from the Americans". The Association of Muslim Scholars calls for a boycott of planned elections as they will be held "over the corpses of those killed in Fallujah and the blood of the wounded". Up to 500 Iraqi troops that had been trained by the USA to "put an Iraqi face" on the invasion refuse to fight and desert.
Throughout the attack on Fallujah, most Western television reports state that "there are no reliable reports of civilian casualties". Prior to the attack, the Arabic television station, Al-Jazeera was excluded from Iraq. Al-Arabiya had an unembedded ("independent") reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on 11 November USA forces arrested him and held him away from the city. This detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists: "We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job".
The USA-appointed Iraqi government orders journalists working in Iraq to tow the government line or face legal action. Media were ordered to "set aside space in your news coverage to make the position of the Iraqi government, which expresses the aspirations of most Iraqis, clear". It continued, "We hope you comply ... otherwise we regret we will be forced to take all the legal measures to guarantee higher national interests". Ann Cooper, director of the USA-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern at this development: "It damages the government's credibility in establishing a free and democratic society". The clampdown continues with the arrest of Mustafa al-Dulaimi, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, who had earlier spoken out against the invasion of Fallujah.
The USA television station, Fox News, reported that "US troops also raided a Sunni mosque in Qaim, near the Syrian border". The report described the arrests as "retaliation for opposing the Falluja offensive". Two Shia clerics associated with Moqtada al-Sadr have also been arrested in recent weeks; according to the news agency, Associated Press, "both had spoken out against the Falluja attack".
Fallujah resident, Luai Mansur Abd al-Karim, described conditions in the battered city: "The majority ... have stayed in the streets, in the open air. They have no food, no shelter. Life necessities are very little. Humanitarian organisations cannot reach these families as all roads leading to the city and its suburbs are closed. Anyone who walks in the streets exposes his life to danger and his vehicle to being bombed. US forces have cordoned off the city and all its suburbs. They are conducting group killings and eliminations in Falluja and its suburbs. These families cannot go anywhere."
Another resident, Rasul Ibrahim, told the Qatar based TV station, Al-Jazeera: "There's no water. People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying. People are eating flour because there's no proper food".
An Iraqi journalist tells Associated Press: "The Americans are shooting anything that moves". To dislodge just one Iraqi sniper, an embedded journalist with the newspaper, New York Times, reports that a three storey complex was hit with two 500-pound bombs, 35 155mm artillery shells, 10 120mm shells from tanks and about 30,000 rounds from machine guns and small arms. The building is left a "smoking ruin". From the television footage coming out of the city, USA troops "search" buildings by using grenades and machine gun fire on houses before entering. Every male found alive is being dragged away, bound and hooded, to detention centres.
Whole districts were leveled with many buildings destroyed. There is no electricity or water. Residents talk of the odour of death in the streets. Abd al-Hamid Salim, a volunteer with the relief organisation, Red Crescent observes that "anyone who gets injured is likely to die because there's no medicine and they can't get to doctors. There are snipers everywhere. Go outside and you're going to get shot."
Abbas Ali, a doctor reported: "I'm one of the few medical cadres that survived last Monday from the massacre. We are in a very tragic situation. Hundreds of dead bodies are spread in the streets. Even the injured are still there. We cannot transfer them. We cannot do anything to save them."
The USA President, George W Bush and UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, continue to say that the military operations in Fallujah are to "help Iraqis achieve their liberty and to defend the security of the world". Fallujah's resisters are described as "Saddamists" even though the city had a history of defying the former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
As Fallujah is battered into submission, uprisings occur in several places around the country, including Mosul, Baiji and Ramadi.
After a week, the USA declares that Fallujah is under USA control. Aid convoys are prevented by USA forces from entering the city, originally because of "security concerns" then because the USA is providing all assistance required. According to USA marine, Colonel Mike Shupp, "there is no need to bring supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people". The USA appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, states that there are "no civilian casualties" in Fallujah. Refugees, doctors and other witnesses from the city talk of outbreaks of typhoid, rotting corpses, thousands of people trapped, the wounded unable to get medical aid. These claims are mainly ignored by the Western media. No footage of bodies is shown. In contrast, bodies are shown in the Dafur region of Sudan during the same week.
USA troops searching houses while frightened Iraqis look on.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the invasion of their city.
A video by USA television station, NBC, shows a USA soldier killing a wounded Iraqi inside a mosque. The soldier is heard saying that the man was breathing and faking being dead. After a single shot is fired at the man's head the soldier says "He's dead now".
This is one of several pieces of footage showing USA soldiers killing wounded Iraqis in violation of the Geneva Convention as well as attacks on civilians by aircraft and helicopters. The NBC footage is shown in the USA and UK with a story of how the solder concerned had been previously shot and is broadcast in the middle of other news items; the UK television station BBC covers the story in less than 10 seconds during one broadcast. The actual shooting is never shown.
In the Middle East the footage is shown uncensored. According to Kevin Sites, the NBC reporter present at the time, "the prisoner did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way". Kathy Kelly of the peace group, Voices in the Wilderness, spoke about the images: "I don't think the US is paying much attention to the Geneva Conventions any more - that is the problem".
According to reports from newsmen embedded with the USA troops during the assault launched on 8 November, the shooting may not have been an isolated incident. Instead, it may have simply been the only one caught on camera, an illustration of the looser rules of engagement authorised for the Fallujah offensive. The night before the assault began, the order came down that troops could shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were viewed as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon.
Residents of Saqlawiya, a village neighbouring Falluja, tell the TV station, Al-Jazeera, that they helped bury the bodies of 73 women and children who were burnt to death by a USA bombing attack: "We buried them here, but we could not identify them because they were charred by the use of napalm bombs used by the Americans," said one resident of Saqlawiya in footage broadcast on Al-Jazeera.
According to Abu Hammad, 35 year old trader, the USA "used everything -- tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground." Kassem Mohammed Ahmed a refugee from Fallujah tells the news agency, IPS, that he witnessed many atrocities committed by USA soldiers in the city: "I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks. This happened so many times". Abdul Razaq Ismail another Fallujah refugee told of soldiers using tanks to pull bodies to the football stadium to be buried. "I saw dead bodies on the ground and nobody could bury them because of the American snipers. The Americans were dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates near Fallujah."
Abu Hammad describes what happened when people attempted to swim across the River Euphrates to escape the attack on Fallujah: "The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore. Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot". He also describes seeing elderly women carrying white flags shot by USA soldiers. "Even the wounded people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed".
Kharma, a small city near Fallujah, was bombed by USA warplanes. In one instance a family of five was killed.
Initial figures by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) talk of over 800 civilians killed.
The USA newspaper, the New York Times, quoting the ICRC, cited the story of one family using a car to flee the carnage into the city only to come face to face with a marine squad who had taken control of a mosque as a defence position. "A barrage of bullets followed. Minutes later, Ms Abd Allah's mother lay bloodied and dying in the rear seat, glass shards strewn about her. Ms Abd Allah, hit in the back by a bullet, collapsed into her mother's lap. Three men in the car were lightly wounded," the paper reported.
When the USA marines realised they may have killed civilians, they rushed to check on the casualties. The USA-supported Iraqi National Guard (the so-called "Iraqi face" of the occupation) advised they kill the survivors, but the marines held off and provided medical assistance when it was determined the people in the car were not part of the city's resistance groups.
The Jolan and Askali neighbourhoods were the worst hit, with more than half of the houses destroyed. Dead bodies were scattered on the streets and narrow alleys of Jolan, one of Fallujah's oldest neighbourhoods. Witnesses told of blood and flesh were splattered on the walls of some of the houses. During one night, USA warplanes dropped eight 2,000-pound (900kg) bombs on the city overnight, and artillery boomed throughout the night and into the morning.
According to USA army captain, Erik Krivda: "For this operation, we took the gloves off."
Abdulla Rahnan, a 40 year old man, tells Lebanese-born USA journalist, Dahr Jamail, "The Americans want every city in Iraq to be like Fallujah, They want to kill us all-they are freeing us of our lives!" His friend adds "Everyone here hates them because they are making mass graves faster than even Saddam!"
Although mostly ignored by Western media, reports of war crimes continue to surface: Aziz Abdulla (27) reports: "I saw so many civilians killed there, and I saw several tanks roll over the wounded in the streets." Abu Mohammed (40) reports the use of cluster bombs by the USA, adding: "The Americans smashed our city, killed thousands of people, destroyed our mosques and hospitals." Abu Aziz (45): "The tanks rolled over wounded people in the streets. They shot so many wounded people who went to mosques for shelter. Even the graves were bombed."
Naomi Klein of the UK newspaper, The Guardian, commented on the lack of reporting of civilian casualties in the Western media: "The question is: what happens to the people who insist on counting the bodies - the doctors who must pronounce their patients dead, the journalists who document these losses, the clerics who denounce them? In Iraq, evidence is mounting that these voices are being systematically silenced through a variety of means, from mass arrests, to raids on hospitals, media bans, and overt and unexplained physical attacks."
Seven people, including a child, die when a bus is shot at by USA troops in Ramadi. Television footage from Reuters showed the bus peppered with bullet holes. Some of the windows were shattered and others spattered with blood. Flies buzzed around corpses in the vehicle, as men carried away bodies and loaded them into cars.
Many civilians are arrested in Samarra by USA troops and Iraqis working for the USA-appointed government. al-Adhamiya is put under a 6pm curfew. Citizens cower in their houses while USA helicopters fly overhead. USA troops conduct house to house searches in the Sadr City district of Baghdad where a 6 year old boy is shot for being outside during curfew.
A report published by Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the United Nations states that roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting," a condition characterised by chronic diarrhoea and dangerous protein deficiencies. This is 7.7% of the population, an increase since the invasion from 4%. Approximately 60% of rural residents and 20% of urban dwellers have access only to contaminated water.
The USA appointed Iraqi government announces that elections will take place on 30 January 2005. By the Muslim calendar this date is in the middle of the Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Farnaz Fassihi, a reporter in Iraq for the USA newspaper, Wall Street Journal sent an email to friends describing conditions for reporters in Iraq:
"Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days, is like being under virtual house arrest.... I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't."
In December the Western media announced that Iraq's debts would be forgiven. What was omitted from most reports was that this would only happen if the country allowed its economy to be run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for ten years regardless of what Iraqis themselves voted for. This is an excellent example of a story being misleading by omission.
After being promised by the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in 2001 that the West would "not walk away", the country's infrastructure remains shattered, warlords rule vast regions and opium production continues to grow. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, controls only the capital, Kabul.
USA forces, occupying the country, continue to kill uncounted, unreported and unmourned civilians. A report by Human Rights Watch states that USA forces arrest people arbitrarilly, loot homes and torture and kill prisoners. The report states that conditions and practices in the prisons at Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Asadabad violate international law by denying legal protection and access to the prisoners.
The USA uses aid to extract intelligence. The UK newspaper, The Independent (issue 25 May), quotes a USA soldier telling journalists: "It's simple. The more they help us find the bad guys, the more good stuff they get". Teena Roberts, head of the country's Christian Aid mission describes the effects of this policy: "The result of this is aid workers have become targets. I have not come across the use of aid in this way before".
In 2004, child mortality remains at 80% (no change from 2001) while life expectancy has dropped from 46 to 43 during the same period. Pregnancy and childbirth remains the leading cause of death amongst women.
Amanullah Haidar, an ex-soldier says "I remember all these people who came here from Europe and America and told us how they were going to help us. But where are the factories and offices we thought we would get? What about the elections we were promised?"
In 2002, Laura Bush, wife of the USA president, had stated that "the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women". According to Amnesty International reports that in 2004 "the risk of rape and sexual violence by members of armed forces and former combatants is still high. Forced marriages, particularly of girl children, and violence against women in the family are widespread in many areas".
The rare snow leopard and mountain sheep are endangered by Western game hunters paying $ 40,000 to USA companies for the privalage of killing these animals.
The United Nations reveals that opium growing in Afghanistan has increased by 64% in 2004. Most profits are made by the war lords who fought alongside the USA against the Taliban government, which had surpressed the opium trade. The country is ranked by the United Nations as a failed state.
A report by Dr John Curtis of the British Museum (UK) criticises the USA for causing "substantial damage" to one of the most important historical sites in Iraq.
The city of Babylon was the capital of a sophisticated civilisation in Mesopotamia between 1800 BC and 600 BC. It was built by Nebuchadnezzar and was the site of the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the seven wonders of the world and a cradle of civilisation. The USA turned the archeological site into a military base which it shared with troops from Poland.
Large areas of the site were covered in gravel which was compacted and chemically treated to make landing areas for helicopters and car parks. Military vehicles had crushed 2,600 year old pavements. Trenches had been dug into ancient deposits. Archeological fragments, including broken bricks stamped with Nebuchadnezzar's name, are scattered around the area. Sand mixed with archeological fragments has been taken and used to fill sandbags. The famous Ishtar Gate has gaps where people have attempted to gouge out the decorated bricks.
According to Lord Redesdale, a UK archaeologist: "Outrage is hardly the word, this is just dreadful. These are world sites. Not only is what the American forces are doing damaging the archaeology of Iraq, it's actually damaging the cultural heritage of the whole world." Tim Schadla Hall, from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, said: "In this case we see an international conflict in which the US has failed to take into account the requirements of the Hague convention ... to protect major archaeological sites - just another convention it seems happy to ignore."
Jimmy Massey, a 33 year old staff sergent admits that USA troops routinely kill unarmed civilians in Iraq, including women and children. These killings occur in the street and at road blocks: "We were shooting up people as they got out of their cars trying to put their hands up. I don't know if the Iraqis thought we were celebrating their new democracy. I do know that we killed innocent civilians."
According to Massey, USA troops were trained to believe that all Iraqis were terrorists. This caused them to open fire indiscriminately. He saw 30 civilians being killed in one 48 hour period in one Baghdad district. Dr Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish politician, says that the immunity from prosecution of USA soldiers is one of the reasons that the occupation is so unpopular.
The Iraq Survey Group, an organisation funded and controlled by the USA, was sent to Iraq in 2003 to look for "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD). The presence of WMD was used a pretext for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the USA and UK. In late 2004, The Iraq Survey Group state that the search for these weapons had ended and that none had been found.
In January an Iraqi doctor, Dr Ali Fadhil, broadcasts a report from within Fallujah, a city of 300,000 that had been attacked by the USA for over a month in November 2004. The USA had stated that 1200 "insurgents" had been killed but had not announced a figure for the number of civilians that had died. Aid agencies had not been allowed into the city but gangs had been hired to bury the dead. The report is published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, and shown on the UK television's Channel 4 News.
According to Dr Fadhil:
"Fallujah used to be one of the few modern Iraqi cities and now there is nothing. I could smell bodies all over the city. I was taken to a house where four people had been shot while sleeping. There were no weapons and no bullet holes. In another house there was a dead fighter with his weapon. In both cases the bodies had been partially eaten by dogs."
The entire city is damaged, few buildings are functioning. Most of the city's inhabitants are in refugee camps receiving no aid. They are not allowed to re-enter the city unless they submit to finger printing and retina scans. Citizens would have to wear identity cards containing their names and addresses. Fallujahns resent the cards and consider them a humiliation by the USA. In one house, USA soldiers had written on a mirror in a trashed house: "F**k Iraq and every Iraqi in it".
In a cemetary Dr Fadhil saw over 60 new graves. One weeping mother, Mrs Salma, finds the body of her son, Ahmed (18) in the cemetary: "I blame Iyad Allawi [the USA appointed Iraqi Prime Minister] for all this. I'd like to cut his throat. Even then I would not be happy. I blame Saddam as well. I'd like to kill them both."
Dr Fadhil interviewed Sheikh Jamel al Mihimdi of the Abdul Qadir Mosque:
"I saw with my own eyes the Holy Quran thrown to the floor of the mosque by those sons of pigs and monkeys. The Americans were treading on the Holy Quran and it broke my heart." The Sheikh stated that many people who had stayed in the city to protect their properties were killed in their own homes, many just inside the front door. Bodies of familes were shown. One old man of 90 had been shot dead in his kitchen.
A group of men were shown looking around their houses, now rubble. Over 100 of the city's 120 mosques had been destroyed. Dr Fadhil concluded that "The city of mosques has become the city of rubble".
The Western media tend to interview Western politicians and Iraqis who are collaborating with the occupation. The following quotes are from refugees from Fallujah:
Many civilians were killed by bombs and artillery shells; a large number of people, including women, old men and children as young as four, were killed by USA snipers. Requests for medical aid were often refused. Dr Ali Abbas (28) worked in a clinic which was bombed by the USA, killing five patients. The USA had been informed of the location of the clinic by doctors in Fallujah's general hospital. Dr Abbas confirmed that many injured people died because of a lack of equipment and medicines. Many people who had been the victims of USA snipers had been shot in the head, neck or chest.
Bilal Hussein (33), a photographer working for Associated Press, describes the scene at the river, seeing "US helicopters firing and killing people who tried to cross. I saw a family of five shot dead. I helped bury a man by the river bank with my own hands". He continues: "I saw people dead in the streets, the wounded were bleeding and there was no one to help them".
According to USA marine, Captain P J Batty: "We didn't wish this upon anyone, but everyone needs to understand there are consequences for not following the Iraqi government". The "Iraqi government" was installed by the USA.
Citizens of Fallujah will be comforted by the observations of 21 year old Derrick Anthony, from the USA Navy: "It's kind of bad we destroyed everything, but at least we gave them a chance for a new start."
KryssTal Opinion: One wonders what citizens of the USA would have thought if the above quote had been made by Osama bin Laden about the Twin Towers.
In 2004, photographs appeared showing USA military personnel physically and sexually abusing Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib. In early 2005, similar photographs appear showing UK troops abusing prisoners in a similar way. In one photo, a soldier is shown standing on a prisoner lying on the ground and covered with a netting.
The Western media concentrate on the difficulties suffered by the military in a foreign land and use the word "allegedly" in every sentence. The political establishment blame "a few bad apples", a phrase meaning that they are isolated incidents. On one television debate in the UK (Question Time, 20 January), a woman working in a shop that develops photographs, states that she had seen similar images from film brought in by a soldier.
After a trial in which no Iraqis give evidence, four UK solders from the lower ranks are given derisory punishments. The UK military maintained that it could not trace the Iraqi victims; the UK newspaper, The Independent, found a number of victims after a 48 hour search. Several made statements describing their abuse - many had not heard that a trial was taking place.
Relatives of people tortured by the UK are arrested and beaten for asking about their family members.
According to papers obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), children as young as 8 years old had been held in Abu Ghraib by the USA. Among the documents were orders to hold a prisoner that the CIA had captured without keeping records. The USA has acknowledged holding up to 100 unaccounted prisoners, called "ghost detainees", keeping them off the books and away from humanitarian investigators from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The story remains unreported in the West.
A report by Transparency International, accuses the USA government of corruption in the awarding of business contracts to its own companies: "The US has been a poor role model in how to keep corrupt practices at bay." The USA-appointed government is accused of takings a perecentage of all contracts.
Two months after "elections" are held in Iraq, the USA-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, (who won less than 15% of the vote) warns Shia Muslim religious leaders (who won over 50% of the vote) to "stay out of politics".
In April, the USA Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, visits Iraq to stop the Shia Muslim winners of the "elections" from providing ministers for the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence. Rumsfeld warns that pro-USA officials in these ministries are not to be removed from their posts: "It's important that the new government be attentive to the competence of the people in the ministries and that they avoid any unnecessary turbulence".
KryssTal Opinion: So this is what the USA means when it talks about "democracy" in the Middle East.
In late March, and unreported in the West, USA soldiers storm a pediatric hospital in Ramadi. Another hospital had been targetted a few days earlier, leading doctors to question whether they are becoming targets.
In Fallujah, independent journalists report USA forces killing whole families, attacks on hospitals and the use of napalm-like weapons. These stories are covered in Arabic media but are little reported in the UK.
Dahr Jamail, a USA reporter of the Inter Press Service interviewed a 16 year old girl:
"She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters. She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything. They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead."
Another story he documented involved a mother who was in her home during the siege. �On the fifth day of the siege her home was bombed, and the roof fell on her son, cutting his legs off. For hours she couldn�t go outside because they announced that anyone going in the street would be shot. So all she could do was wrap his legs and watch him die before her eyes.�
Dr Salem Ismael was delivering aid to Fallujah. He photographed the dead, including children, and interviewed remaining residents. Again his story does not tally with the indifference shown by the main media networks. He tells the story of Hudda Fawzi Salam Issawi:
"Five of us, including a 55-year-old neighbour, were trapped together in our house in Falluja when the siege began. On 9 November American marines came to our house. My father and the neighbour went to the door to meet them. We were not fighters. We thought we had nothing to fear. I ran into the kitchen to put on my veil, since men were going to enter our house and it would be wrong for them to see me with my hair uncovered. This saved my life. As my father and neighbour approached the door, the Americans opened fire on them. They died instantly. Me and my 13-year-old brother hid in the kitchen behind the fridge. The soldiers came into the house and caught my older sister. They beat her. Then they shot her. But they did not see me. Soon they left, but not before they had destroyed our furniture and stolen the money from my father's pocket."
Dr Salem Ismael is refused permission to speak in the UK.
The UK journalist, Naomi Klein, reports that hospitals are being targetted by the USA to stop casualty figures being released.
In April Maria Ruzicka, a 28 year old USA citizen, is killed in Iraq. She had managed to obtain an admission from military commanders that the USA did keep records of the number of civilian deaths in Iraq even though it did not publish the information. She stated that 29 civilians had died in Baghdad between 28 February and 5 April during firefights involving USA forces: this was four times the number of Iraqi police killed by the resistance. Sam Zia-Zarif of Human Rights Watch confirmed that the USA has never admitted to keeping figures and that Ruzicka's work allows victims' families to obtain compensation.
The USA flies its wounded soldiers into the country from bases in Europe only at night to keep them out of the public view. The number of USA wounded has been estimated at 25,000. Photographs of coffins were banned by presidential order in 2003. According to Code Pink, a peace group protesting outside Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington: "The American public has very limited information about the real impact of the war".
In May, the new "Iraqi government" is formed after elections. This "government" features many of the same people appointed by the USA as well as a number of USA allies. Included is Ahmed Chalabi who was convicted for fraud in Jordan, and whose political party was given $ 100 million by the USA government when he was in exile. The resistance to the occupation continues unabated. The following story appears in a web site called Watching America, which features pieces about the USA from around the world:
"Iraq's new president has said he will not reside in the Presidential Palace, which for many Iraqis is a symbol of the country's sovereignty. Jalal Talabani said that the interim government has agreed to rent the palace to the Americans for two years. The presidential complex on the banks of the Tigris River is a maze of palaces, green lawns and orchards. President Talabani said that the Americans 'might' evacuate the palace when the lease expires."
Journalist Rory Carroll of the UK newspaper, The Guardian, observes that the new "government" must meet under USA protection and its members are often humiliated:
"Last week an assembly member named Fattah al-Sheikh said he was roughed up and humiliated by US troops on his way in. One allegedly grabbed him by the throat, another handcuffed him, and a third kicked his car. 'I was dragged to the ground,' he told parliament, weeping. 'What happened to me represents an insult to the whole national assembly that was elected by the Iraqi people. This shows that the democracy we are enjoying is fake.'"
In November, a televison documentary called Fallujah, the Hidden Massacre, is broadcast by RAI in Italy. It shows evidence that the USA had used white phosphorus weapons in its 2004 attack on Fallujah. Interviews with USA soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack indicated that phosphorus shells were widely used. One stated: "Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way to the bone. I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 meters is done for."
The broadcast included photographs and videos provided by the Studies Centre of Human Rights in Fallujah. Most show the damage done to human flesh by these weapons. Some show Fallujah residents in their beds with largely intact clothing but whose skin has been dissolved or caramalised by the chemicals. A biologist from the city, Mohamad Tareq, stated: "A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured subtsance started to burn.."
An incendiary device called Mark 77 was also used in Fallujah. This is an updated version of the napalm used by the USA in its invasion of Vietnam (1954 to 1975) and its use has been banned against civilian targets by the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
The story is almost completely ignored by UK and USA media sources.
After months of denials, the USA government admits that it used White Phosphorus (WP) in the attack on Fallujah in November 2004. The admission came less than 24 hours after the USA Ambassador to the UK denied its use in letter to a newspaper.
In the March-April 2005 edition of the US military magazine, Field Artillery, three USA soldiers wrote that "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions... and later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against insurgents in trench lines and spider holes... We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents using WP to flush them out and high explosive shells to take them out". To "take out" is a USA euphamism for "to kill".
Another account in North County News describes Captain Nicholas Bogert "a mortar team leader who directed his men to fire round after round of high explosives and white phosphorus charges into the city Friday and Saturday, never knowing what the targets were or what damage the resulting explosions caused."
Burhan Fasa'n, a cameraman for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation reported on the first eight days of the attack: "I saw cluster bombs everywhere and so many bodies that were burnt, dead with no bullets in them. So they definately used fire weapons, especially in Jolan district." His equipment was taken from him by USA soldiers. Residents reported seeing soil being taken away by USA forces and bodies being dropped into the River Euphrates near Fallujah. Adam Mynott, a correspondent for the UK BBC, informed television station, Rai News 24, that he had seen white phosphorus being used in Nassiriya. This story is unreported in the UK, even on the BBC itself.
The USA and UK and much of the media state that white phosphorus is not a chemical weapon - this contradicts USA intelligence reports that accused Sadaam Hussein of using white phosphorus and describing it as a chemical weapon.
Jean Ziegler, a United Nations human rights food expert, publishes a report stating that the USA has often stopped food from reaching towns and cities in order to drive out the inhabitants before an attack. Such activity violates the Geneva Convention.
Late in the year Iraq voted on a new constitution. This is depicted in the West as a triumph of democracy and USA-UK policy in the Middle East. The first draft of the document was leaked in June to the Iraqi newspaper, Al-Mada. It contained many social democratic elements like full rights to health care, social justice, free education and full ownership of natural resources by Iraqis. It proposed a mixed economy with the state would promote development, provide public services and provide work oportunities for every citizen.
The USA "ambassador", Zalmay Khalililzad (a former oil man) was sent to put pressure on the body preparing the constitution. The final product was shorn of its social democratic flavour and talked about a "reformed economy" whose resources were subject to "market principles". It would include "private sector involvement" in health and education which must be "within the limits of government resources". The economic control of Iraq by the USA has been frozen into the constitution.
According to a report by a number of groups (including War On Want and New Economics Foundation), Iraqis could lose up to $ 200,000 million in oil revenue to USA and UK companies. The report, Crude Designs, describes Iraq as falling into "an old colonial trap" as the USA backed Iraqi government begins negotiations with external companies even before elections are held. The rates of return for the companies would be between 42% and 162%, rather than the more typical 12%. The four companies that would benefit are BP, Exxon, Chevron and Shell. All four were asked to leave Iraq when oil was nationalised in 1972. Just before the invasion, the UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, told parliament that France and Germany would not be allowed oil concessions from the post-invasion Iraq.175 people are found in cramped conditions, some showing signs of torture, in a government building in Baghdad. Tortures included mutilation with knives and electric drills. The Iraqi units responsible for detaining the victims were trained by the USA. Shia Police trained by the UK in Basra, torture and kill civilians with electric drills, attack Christians for selling alcohol and Sunnis for supporting the Ba'ath Party.
Human rights groups accuse the USA and UK of using death squads to eliminate oponents to the USA-backed government. Ahmed Sadoun was arrested in Mosul in the middle of the night by paramilitaries accompanied by observing USA soldiers and held for seven months. "When they took me to their base I was blidfolded and beaten very, very badly with metal rods. They then hung me up on hooks by my wrists until I thought they would tear off." After being released he left Iraq. The group that arrested him is the Wolf Brigade.
During October and November, the towns of Husaybah and al-Qaim (In the North West) are attacked by USA forces. Haditah is bombed for 18 days - hospitals and schools are destroyed. Over 100,000 refugees are created without homes, food or water. The nearest hospital is 300km away. This human catastrophe remains unreported in the USA or UK.
A video is posted on the internet showing members of a USA and UK security firm in Iraq firing at random into civilian vehicles on the road linking Baghdad to its airport.
The company, Aegis Specialist Risk Management, is one of many hired by the USA to do the dangerous jobs like escorting convoys. The contract is worth $ 150 million. Security companies employ about 25,000 private security workers who are immune from legal action in Iraq according to sections of the Iraqi constitution written under USA pressure.
Aegis is headed by Tim Spicer, a former UK military officer, whose previous company was accused of violations of international arms embargos in Africa.
During elections the USA (and UK) finance and promote the campaign of Iyad Allawi. They send election advisers to assist. It is illegal for outsiders to finance elections in the USA.
In May, a story of a USA massacre breaks after an attempted cover up by the military. They had stated that 24 civilians killed in the town of Haditha the previous November had been victims of a bomb. Later the USA military had said that the civilians had died in crossfire after the USA forces had come under attack.
An enquiry by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) reported that a USA marine had been killed by a roadside bomb after which USA troops went on a rampage lasting five hours shooting civilians. Five men were shot while standing next to a taxi. The soldiers then entered at least two houses in which they shot women and children. Although a small number of USA marines carried out the massacre others failed to stop them or filed false reports about the incident. The investigation only occurred after a video shot by a survivor was handed to USA magazine, Time. The video showed the bodies of bullet-ridden women and children still dressed in night clothes.
The USA military continue to insist that they do not keep records of civilians killed in Iraq. One study by the UK medical magazine, The Lancet, conducted in 2005 indicated 100,000 deaths.
Several ex-soldier have stated that these events are common. Hart Viges tells of being ordered to fire on taxis in the city of Samawa and of suffering subsequent nightmares: "You can't wash your hands when they're covered in blood. This is what war does to your soul". Jody Casey tells of being ordered to carry shovels to be planted next to bodies to indicate that they were planting bombs: "You're driving at three in the morning. There's a guy on the side iof the road, you shoot him... you throw a shovel off".
A report by UNICEF states that a quarter of all children in Basra are suffering from chronic malnutrition. The survey covered 20,000 households. The number of children suffering acute malnourishment rose from 4% in 2002 to 9% in 2005.
A report by Corporate Watch reveals that UK companies have made around $ 1,800 million from various business ventures in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Some 60 companies are named including construction and security firms:
Most of the contracts were agreed between the companies and the USA Pentagon completely bypassing the Iraqi people or "government". Corporate Watch reported that several hundred more companies are present in Iraq but keep their presence secret. The UK government refuses to name companies it has helped gain contracts in Iraq. Most of the money comes from tax payers in Iraq ($ 240 million), the UK ($ 125 million) and even the USA ($ 2,000 million). Most of the companies have long standing relationships with the UK government or are run by people in the UK establishment.
In April, in UK-occupied Basra, the European aid agency Saving Children from War reported: "The mortality of young children had increased by 30 percent compared with the Saddam Hussein era." According to the report, children die because the hospitals have no ventilators and the water supply, which the UK were meant to have fixed, is more polluted than ever. Children fall victim to unexploded USA and UK cluster bombs. They play in areas contaminated by depleted uranium; by contrast, UK army survey teams venture there only in full-body radiation suits, face masks, and gloves. Unlike the children they came to 'liberate', UK troops are given what the Ministry of Defense calls 'full biological testing'.
The aid agency's findings were not reported in the UK.
In late June, a story breaks about five USA soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment raping an Iraqi "woman" and killing her and three members of her family including a five year old girl. The story is covered by the UK television station Channel 4 in less than 15 seconds in the middle of a news buletin and is ignored by the BBC (even though it appears on their web site). According to USA military sources, the incident occurred at Mahmudiya near Baghdad three months earlier and had been originally blamed on insurgents.
Steven Green, 21, is chanrged with rape and murder. According to a legal memo, three other USA soldiers also raped the victim. It is only later revealed that the rape vicitim was, in fact, a 14 year old girl, Abeer Qasim. The rest of the family were the victim's parents and sister. A neighbour of the family reported to the USA newspaper, the Washington Post, that the murdered family had been worried for their daughter as their house was near a USA checkpoint.
The USA occupation forces changed the law giving foreign nationals immunity from the Iraqi legal system prompting Nuri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, to call for an independent inquiry: "We do not accept the violation of Iraqi people's honour as happened in this case. We believe that the immunity granted to international forces has emboldened them to commit such crimes and ... there must be a review of this immunity."
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Iraq's parliament states that USA forces have committed "butchery" in Iraq and should leave. He was speaking at a Uinted Nations sponsored conference on transitional justice and reconciliation in Baghdad: "Just get your hands off Iraq and the Iraqi people and Muslim countries, and everything will be all right. What has been done in Iraq is a kind of butchery of the Iraqi people".
He also criticised USA support for Israeli attacks against Lebanon.
According to a summary by the USA Central Command Air Forces (25 July 2006): "In total, coalition aircraft flew 46 close-air support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions included support to coalition troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities." 46 air strikes in a single day - none reported in the Western media. Notice how the invasion and occupation of a country is labelled as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The figure for Afghanistan on the same day was 32.
According to a spokesman for the USA military command in Baghdad, an analysis of the 1,666 bombs that exploded in July showed that 70% were directed against the USA-led military force. 20% targeted the USA-backed Iraqi "security forces" (up from 9% in 2005), and 10% of the blasts struck civilians (the so-called "sectarian violence"). However, the UK BBC correspondent, Mike Wooldridge, reported only on the civilian casualties stating that "the sectarian violence has come to overshadow all other kinds."
In September a United Nations report on torture in Iraq declares that the situation in the country during 2006 is worse than before the USA-led invasion. According to the report, torture is practiced in prisons run by the USA as well as the Iraqi government. The report continued that over 6,500 people died in Baghdad in a two month period (July-August 2006) but admitted that deaths outside the capital were difficult to calculate because it was too dangerous for journalists. Many of the killings are by government controlled police.
35,000 Iraqis are held in prisons, 13,000 by the USA and the rest by the "Iraqi authorities". This is a 28% increase over three months. Civilians kidnapped by sectarian militiamen provide the dozens of mangled bodies (beaten, burnt, bones broken, limbs holed by electric drills and eyes gouged out) that are being collected on rubbish dumps and in the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities and towns every day. Very little of this is reported in the West, where government continue to claim improvements in Iraq.
Over a two day period USA forces kill two women in an air attack on a house in Baquba a day after five girls and a man were killed by USA tank fire onto their house in Ramadi. A week later two women and a child are among 24 people killed in a USA air raid on the village of al-Lihaib near the town of Garma.
A report by the UK medical magazine, The Lancet, that up to 650,000 people have died in Iraq since the USA-UK invasion is ignored by much of the media.
At the end of the year, the former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, is executed by the USA backed government after a trial covering the few of the ruler's crimes not involving backing by the USA or the UK. He is convicted of ordering the execution of 150 people in the town of Dujail in 1982.
Crimes that he was not tried for include:
The reason given for the attacks is because an Israeli soldier was kidnapped, even though Israel holds over 8,000 Paslestinians in prison (over 700 without charge), including 100 women and 800 teenagers. The soldier was part of a military force that has been besieging Palestinian territory since the election of the Hamas government. Under the Geneva Convention, the soldier has the status of prisoner of war.
Israel arrests Mohammed Barghouthi, the elected Palestinian labour minister. Nasser Shaer, the Palestinian deputy prime minister and education minister, is arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank. Other detainees include cabinet ministers like Finance Minister Omar Abdal Razeq, Social Affairs Minister Fakhri Torokma and Prisoners' Affairs Minister Wasfi Kabha. Ramallah and Jenin. In Jerusalem several lawmakers are arrested. The Mayor of Qalqiliya and his deputy are detained. The detainees include eight members of the elected government and 20 members of parliament.
European ministers at an economic (G8) meeting declare that "The detention of elected members of the Palestinian government and legislature raises particular concerns." Lama Hourani, an NGO worker in Gaza City says: "It makes me so angry that Israel has arrested Hamas politicians. Hamas was the Palestinians' democratic choice, whether people like it or not. Why isn't the world saying anything about this? We are the ones being occupied yet all we hear from the West is that Israel has the right to defend itself."
Israeli tanks and bulldozers move into parts of Gaza. Jets fly low over cities and towns causing sonic booms. In one house, the boom brough down the roof onto a family. Missiles are fired onto the Palestinian city of Khan Younis. The Interior Ministry is attacked by Apache helicopters. Israel blocks supplies of water, fuel and other supplies to Gaza. International agencies can do nothing.
The USA and Europe predictably call for "restraint on both sides". The Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accuses Israel of "waging an open-ended all-out war against the Palestinian people that aims to topple the Palestinian presidency and the Palestinian government".
The USA and UK media report these events from an Israeli point of view failing to mention that collective punishment is a war crime. The main story appeared to be the kidnapped Israeli soldier which was mentioned by every Israeli spokesperson. What was not mentioned was the fact that a few days earlier, Israeli commandos had entered Gaza and kidnapped two Palestinians whom they accused of being "militants". The BBC correspondent in Gaza, Alan Johnstone, referred to the Palestinian kidnap as "a major escalation in cross-border tensions". According to the media watchers, MediaLens: "Johnstone did not explain why the Palestinian attack on an Israeli army post was an escalation, while the Israeli raid into Gaza the previous day was not. Both were similar actions: violations of a neighbour's territory."
22 Palestinians are killed and many injured in Beit Lahiya (northern Gaza) after a night of Israeli air strikes, artillery and tank fire. The dead included a civilian killed by machine-gun fire from an Israeli tank. More Palestinian elected leaders are detained by Israeli police.
In Geneva (Swizerland), the United Nations human rights watchdog passed an emergency resolution criticising Israel's campaign in Gaza as a breach of international law and demanding a halt to military activity. John Dugard, a United Nations special rapporteur on human rights stated that Israel's "military operation violated prohibitions on collective punishment, intimidation, while last week's arrest of officials from the governing Hamas movement appeared to constitute hostage-taking that was prohibited by the Geneva Conventions".
The Council urged "Israel, the occupying power, to immediately release the arrested Palestinian ministers... and all other arrested Palestinian civilians". The UK, France and Germany, who all concern themselves with human rights violations by countries being threatened by the USA, abstained.
Discussing the shelling and overflying jets on Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert tells his cabinet that he wanted "no one to be able to sleep tonight in Gaza".
The collective punishment of 1.4 million Palestinians is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention but this was unmentioned in most Western media reports. The Israeli human rights organization B�Tselem specifically criticises the statement, saying that, "The use of sonic booms flagrantly breaches a number of provisions of international humanitarian law. The most significant provision is the prohibition on collective punishment. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention".
Eight Palestinians are killed by air strikes including an 11 year old boy near Beit Hanun. A missile strikes the Hajaj family home killing three people including a six year old girl.
Kofi Annan, the Secretary of the United Nations calls on Israel to stop attacking Palestinians and to repair the damage it has caused to Gaza's power stations and to allow uninpeded access to the territories for humanitarian aid.
A couple and their seven children die in an Israeli air strike on Gaza bringing the number of Palestinians killed to 60 in two weeks. The family's house was hit by a 250kg (550-pound) bomb dropped by an F-16 jet. These jets are supplied by the USA and contain spare parts provided by the UK.
Two more Israeli soldiers are kidnapped, this time from border with Lebanon. The Israeli response is to bomb the south of the country, killing 35 people in a little over a day. The victims include two whole families - one of 10 people and one of seven - killed in the homes near the town of Nabatiyeh. The airport in Beirut is bombed along with as bridges, roads and a television station (Al-Manar). The country's ports are blockaded.
In late 2001 (after the USA attack on Afghanstan) a retired USA General, Wesley Clark, wrote in his book, Winning Modern Wars, that the USA was planning to attack Lebanon as part of a five year campaign targeting seven countries beginning with Iraq, then going on to Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.
The USA blames Syria and Iran - two countries whose governments are not financed or supported by the USA. France and Russia condemn Israel's "disproportionate use of force", although Russia has used the same tactics in Chechnya. The European Union declares that "the imposition of an air and sea blockade on Lebanon cannot be justified".
The Egyptian Foreign Minister states that "targeting civilians under the pretext of fighting terrorism is unacceptable and unjustified. Israeli practices violate international law. We condemn any military action that targets civilians. We consider it a terrorist act, regardless of who the civilians are or its source".
After an exchange of fire along the border, Israel orders people in Beirut's southern suburbs to evacuate.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution demanding Israel end its military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The USA was the only country to vote against the resolution put forward by Qatar on behalf of Arab nations. The resolution accused Israel of a "disproportionate use of force" that endangered Palestinian civilians, and demanded Israel withdraw its troops from Gaza. Eight of the previous nine vetoes have been used by the USA. Seven of those concerned the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Ten of the 15 Security Council nations voted in favour and four, UK, Denmark, Slovakia and Peru, abstained. In the first three months of 2006 the UK had sold $ 50 million worth of arms to Israel including electronic parts used in the F-16 planes that are attacking civilians.
Journalist Sandy Tolan wrote this about the Israeli actions against the Palestinians:
"Under the pretext of forcing the release of a single soldier 'kidnapped by terrorists' (or, if you prefer, 'captured by the resistance'), Israel has done the following: seized members of a democratically elected government; bombed its interior ministry, the prime minister's offices, and a school; threatened another sovereign state (Syria) with a menacing overflight; dropped leaflets from the air, warning of harm to the civilian population if it does not 'follow all orders of the IDF' (Israel Defense Forces); loosed nocturnal 'sound bombs' under orders from the Israeli prime minister to 'make sure no one sleeps at night in Gaza'; fired missiles into residential areas, killing children; and demolished a power station that was the sole generator of electricity and running water for hundreds of thousands of Gazans.
Besieged Palestinian families, trapped in a locked-up Gaza, are in many cases down to one meal a day, eaten in candlelight. Yet their desperate conditions go largely ignored by a world accustomed to extreme Israeli measures in the name of security: nearly 10,000 Palestinians locked in Israeli jails, many without charge; 4,000 Gaza and West Bank homes demolished since 2000 and hundreds of acres of olive groves plowed under; three times as many civilians killed as in Israel, many due to 'collateral damage' in operations involving the assassination of suspected militants.
Jacques Chirac, the President of France asks: "Israel's military offensive against Lebanon is totally disproportionate. Is destroying Lebanon the ultimate goal? One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, and its communication."
Israel fires rockets along the Lebanon-Syrian border and also hits the centre of Beirut (the port, a grain store, a radar station and a lighthouse) as well as its suburbs. By the fourth day of the attack, over 100 Lebanese had died (including over 20 children), compared to four Israelis killed by rockets fired my militia based in southern Lebanon. Warplanes strike the port city of Tripoli, the coastal city of Batroun, the mainly Christian city of Jounieh and the historical town of Baalbek.
Women and children were among at least 18 killed when their vehicles were struck by missiles on the coastal road to the southern city of Tyre. "Bodies litter the road", an eyewitness said. Local residents told al-Jazeera television that the victims had been hit after being told to leave the village of Marwahin by the Israelis and then refused shelter by the United Nations forces. Many of the victims were burnt to death.
|More dead children.|
A number of bridges (one built by European Union money), petrol stations and key roads are also hit, including the main road linking northern Lebanon to Syria.
On the same day Israeli forces enter northern Gaza in the area of the town of Beit Hanoun. Israeli air strikes hit a house in Gaza City, killing one person and injuring eight, mostly women and children, the youngest an eight month-old baby. Twenty homes are damaged or destroyed. the death toll in Gaza reaches 80 Palestinians.
The Arab League issues a statement that "condemns the Israeli aggression in Lebanon which contradicts all international law and regulations". Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, criticises the Israeli offensive and the lack of reaction from the international community. "Bombs are exploding, innocent people are being killed, infrastructures are being destroyed... The powerful continue to crush the weak, but unfortunately those who hold the power in the world are keeping mum."
A letter is published in the UK newspaper, the Indpependent which brings together a number of issues:
"In 2003, much to the embarassment of the European Union, a poll found that many Europeans consider Israel the biggest threat to Middle East peace. The totally disproportionate response by Israel to the capture of its soldiers shows the truth of that poll. A country which destroys the civil infrastructure of life for more than a million Gazeans while proceeding to attampt to 'bomb back Lebanon by 20 years' shows itself to have all the features of a dangerous, erratic rogue state. Instead of constructing fantasies around an Iranian threat, the international community must face up to the fact that it has an aggressive, nuclear-armed state which is rampaging throughout the region without sanction."
Thousands of protesters in Jakarta (Indonesia) to condemn the Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.
Lebanon accuses the USA of blocking a United Nations Security Council statement calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, and said the impotence of the United Nation's most powerful body sent wrong signals to small countries. According to Nouhad Mahmoud, the Lebanese special envoy, "It's unacceptable because people are still under shelling, bombardment and destruction is going on ... and people are dying. It sends very wrong signals not only to the Lebanese people but to all Arab people, to all small nations that we are left to the might of Israel and nobody is doing anything".
Qatar wanted a press statement calling for an immediate ceasefire, restraint in the use of force, and the protection of civilians caught in the conflict. Cesar Mayoral, the United Nations ambassador from Argentina, said the USA objected to any statement and the UK opposed calling for a ceasefire. During the same period, the United Nations did pass a resolution: condemning Iran's nuclear program.
On the 6th day 46 Lebanese are killed bringing the total to over 200. Twenty Israelis are killed in the same period, including 12 soldiers. Ten die in an air attack on their vehicles in the south of the country.
400,000 people are displaced from their homes. Residential areas are targeted as well as ports and the Lebanese army. Nine people including six children are killed in Tyre. In Rmeileh a minibus is hit killing 12 civilians.
Nine bodies are found in rubble in Saida. Two hospitals are bombed in Beirut, a fact not reported in the Western media. Israel rebuffs a United Nations call for an international monitoring force to be deployed in Lebanon.
Abdul Rahman, a teacher from the USA who was on a vacation to Beirut, states: "Everything is being bombed, it's terror. We've literally been terrorised. We have not slept for three days because we were living in terror and never knew when the Israelis would bomb us since they were hitting everything. If they want to hit Hezbollah, let them hit Hezbollah, but not the civilians. But civilians are all that they are hitting."
In Gaza tanks and bulldozers enter the town of Beit Hanun killing several people including a 75 year old woman. The death toll reaches 82 Palestinians (and one Israeli).
Israel continues attacking Gaza killing two people and destroying the Foreign Ministry. Walid al-Umari, a journalist for Al-Jazeera based in Jerusalem is arrested and questioned by police.
The Uinted Nations warns of a humanitarian disaster as Lebanese flee their homes, with air strikes on roads and bridges hampering efforts to help them. By the 7th day over 230 Lebanese have died, compared to 25 Israelis. The Lebanese army was ordered not to respond to the Israeli attacks but 30 Lebanese soldiers died in several strikes. Hizbolla, a Lebanese militia army, fires hundreds of rockets into Israel. The Western media blames Iran and Syria for the deaths caused by these rockets as they were made in these countries (as well as in Russia which is not blamed). The F-16 jets, Apache helicopters and missiles used on Arab civilians in Gaza and Lebanon are made in the USA and contain electrical components from the UK, a fact not mentioned in any Western newscasts.
According to the UK BBC, the Lebannese people feel "great disappointment here that the world's leading industrial nations at the G8 summit failed to call for a ceasefire. Many see it as a capitulation to the agenda of Israel and the United States." The UK and USA begin evacuating their citizens.
Nine civilians, all from one family and including children, are killed and four wounded in an air strike that destroyed a house in the south Lebanese village of Aitarun. Israeli forces attack targets around Zahle, a mainly Christian town in central Lebanon, and attack ambulances on nearby roads. A lorry carrying medical supplies donated by the United Arab Emirates is hit on a main highway killing its driver. 64 bridges have been destroyed.
The UK newspaper, The Independent reporting an Israeli attack that "came first to the little village of Dweir near Nabatiya in southern Lebanon where an Israeli plane dropped a bomb on to the home of a Shia Muslim cleric. He was killed. So was his wife. So were eight of his children. One was decapitated. All they could find of a baby was its head and torso which a young villager brandished in fury in front of the cameras. Then the planes visited another home in Dweir and disposed of a family of seven."
Day 7 and the Lebanese death toll exceeds 300 (to 29 Israelis).
Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in northern Israel writes how the Arabic television coverage shows the material and human devastation in Lebanon in a way that is not covered by the BBC (UK), CNN or Fox (USA). He says that Arabic television channels ".. showed an urban wasteland of rubble and dust in the suburbs of Beirut and Tyre that was shockingly reminiscent of New York in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. They cut intermittently to local hospitals filled with Lebanese children, their faces a rash of bloody pockmarks from the spray of Israeli shrapnel. More terrible images of children burnt and lying in pools of blood arrrived in my email inbox from Lebanese bloggers."
He continues that "this is not journalism; it�s reporting as a propaganda arm of a foreign power." He does not necessarily blame the reporters but concludes, "These reporters are working in a framework of news priorities laid down by faceless news executives far away from the frontline who understand only too well the institutional pressures on the BBC -- and the institutional biases that are the result. They know that the Israel lobby is too powerful and well resourced to take on without suffering flak; that the charge of anti-semitism might be terminally damaging to the BBC�s reputation; that the BBC is expected broadly to reflect the positions of the British governmment if it wants an easy ride with its regulators; that to remain credible it should not stray too far from the line of its mainly American rivals, who have their own more intense domestic pressures to side with Israel. This distortion of news priorities has real costs that can be measured in lives -- in the days and weeks to come, hundreds, possibly thousands, of lives in both Israel and Lebanon. As long as Israel is portrayed by our major broadcasters as the one under attack, its deaths alone as significant, then the slide to a regional war -- a war of choice being waged by the Israeli government and army -- is likely to become inevitable."
War crimes may have been committed in Lebanon and Gaza according to the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour: "I do believe that on the basis of evidence that is available in the public domain there are very serious concerns that the level of civilian casualties, the indiscriminate shelling of cities and so on, on their face raise sufficient questions that I think one must issue a sobering signal to those who are behind these initiatives to examine very closely their personal exposure."
Israel says that the reason for the attacks on Lebanon is the rockets being fired into Israel by Hezbollah even though these began after the Israeli bombings. Another unreported fact: Israel has refused to submit a map of the 400,000 land mines that it deliberately left in South Lebanon during its occupation. These mines regularly kill Lebanese people, mainly children.
In the USA, Martin Fletcher, Israel correspondent from NBC Television, reveals that the Israeli war plan is not simply a response to current risks or attacks, but it has been five years in the making. It was a plan just looking for a pretext. "I think they will never say that publicly," he added, explaining that this war plan that was not made by this current Israeli government but earlier by the Kadima Party founder, Ariel Sharon and his generals.
Fletcher says the Israeli government calls it a "work plan." He says it is being implemented "step by step." He added, "It will go on until someone steps in and stops them."
After 10 days the death tolls are 330 Lebanese (a third of them children), 100 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.
One observer notes that foreigners were being evacuated from Lebanon but not from Israel which told of how one sided the conflict was. The BBC spend more time on Britons being evacuated than on the war in Lebanon.
One fact observed by journalist, Ramzy Baroud: "Palestinians rockets, as ominous as they may appear on television, are yet to claim one Israeli casualty for over a year, while the Israeli military has killed over 150 Palestinians in the last two months alone."
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other anti-war movemenst criticised the lies of the USA and UK: "The promise by Bush and Blair, in the lead up to the Iraq war, that their wars would bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East and peace to Palestine have yet again been shown to be lies, just as the anti-war movement has consistently said they were."The Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik was completely wrecked. A resident, Ihsan Mroweh, a civil engineer, described his feelings at finding his home destroyed: "I counted the flattened buildings one by one, and the third was mine. It was also reduced to rubble. My wife and I have so many memories in this house. Losing my property is terrible, but what hurts even more is losing all the pictures of my children and their belongings since they were little." As Israeli Brigadier General Halutz put it: "Nowhere is safe [in Lebanon] ... as simple as that."
Rockets fired into Israel hit the mainly Arab town of Nazareth. The BBC inadvertantly reveal the discrimination against the non-Jewish population of Israel: the inhabitants had no bomb shelters. As journalist Jonathan Cook puts it: "The fifth of the Israeli population who are not Jewish but Arab are rarely to be found hiding in public shelters because the authorities neglected to build any in their towns and villages. The Israeli army has sited several important weapons factories and military intelligence posts close to Arab communities in the north, the Israeli government has not offered the Arab residents any protection should there be fall-out -- quite literally in the case of the Katyusha rockets -- as a result. This is another tiny facet of the discrimination endured for decades by the country�s Arab population that so rarely surfaces in media coverage of Israel."
Over 60 elected Palestinian parliamentarians languish in Israeli jails.
On day 11 the USA ships "precision guided bombs" to Israel without debate or fanfare (The New York Times).
The munitions that are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved the previous year that Israel is able to draw on as needed. The arms shipment to Israel was not announced publicly, and the officials who described the government�s decision would discuss it only after being promised anonymity. The USA flight (an Airbus A310) carrying the weapons used an airport in Scotland (UK) while in transit. The UK criticises Israel's tactics (but not the attack itself) but does not call for a cease fire. Israeli officials admitted dropping 23 tons of explosives on Beirut in one night.
People demonstrate against the war in several countries. The USA Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, describes the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.
According to political scientist, Gilbert Achcar, the USA's support of Israel is leading to people in the Middle Eastern becoming skeptical of Western promises of democracy: "what we are seeing right now is that the hatred toward not only Israel but the United States, and all the other Western countries backing Israel and allying with the United States, is reaching heights which are far beyond what existed before September 11, 2001."
Israeli forces cross into Lebanon and take the village of Maroun al-Ras. Television and mobile phone transmitters are hit in Beirut. Aljazeera and Al Arabiya television stations are targetted.
In 2000, Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon after an 18 year occupation. They had used a proxy militia (The South Lebanese Army) to control the area. This milita had tortured Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in Khiam Prison. Hezbollah had converted the prison into a museum after Israel's departure. This building is bombed by Israel erasing the evidence.
By day 12 the death toll had reached 372 Lebanese and 34 Israelis. More Israeli bombs fell on the cities of Sidon and Tyre.
Dead bodies litter the streets of Beirut.
The remains of a woman killed in Tyre.
72 coffins of victims in Tyre from one single air raid.
In the first 13 days, Israel attacked key civilian installations, including water and sanitation systems, destroyed Lebanon's largest dairy farm and pharmeceutical plant, shelled United Nations posts sheltering civilians, flattened whole villages, and turned mosques, churches and houses into rubble.
They cut off roads and bridges, blocking urgently needed humanitarian assistance. 365 people were killed, a third of them children. Jan Egeland, the United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator, accuses Israel of violating humanitarian law as he toured the destroyed suburbs of south Beirut: "This is destruction of block after block of mainly residential areas. I would say it seems to be an excessive use of force in an area with so many citizens."
In the village of Srifa, near Tyre, 60 to 80 bodies remain trapped in the rubble of a building, according to the Red Cross.
The USA organisation, Human Rights Watch, reported that it had taken photographs of M483A1 cluster grenades stored by Israeli artillery teams on the border between Israel and Lebanon. These grenades deliver 88 cluster submunitions per shell and have a failure rate of 14 per cent, often leaving behind dangerous unexploded shells. It said it believed the use of cluster grenades in populated areas could violate a ban on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law. A cluster grenade attack a few days earlier had killed one person and wounded at least 12 civilians in the village of Blida. Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch, said: "Cluster munitions are unacceptably inaccurate and unreliable weapons when used around civilians. They should never be used in populated areas."
On the 14th day, 800,000 Lebanese had been displaced. Medicine Sans Frontier, an aid organisation, have not been able to obtain Israel permission to bring aid to south Lebanon.
An Israeli shell destroys a United Nations observation post in Khiam (southern Lebanon) killing four observers. The peacekeepers had contacted Israeli troops ten times before an Israeli "precision" missile was fired from a jet and destroyed the post after six hours of artillery shelling. The United Nations expresses "shock" in a statement watered down by the USA. Phrases criticising Israel or calling for the United Nations to be involved in any enquiry were removed after pressure from the USA.
USA Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice visits the region. The BBC World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, in Jerusalem, stated that it was understood that Condoleezza Rice told Israel that the USA would allow it more time to continue its military operations. Ismail Haniya, the elected Prime Minster of the Palestinians makes a plea to the USA: "All that we ask the American administration is to take a moral stance towards the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian suffering and to bear its responsibility as a superpower in this world."
The USA refuses to talk to him.
In Gaza, Israeli artillery pound the northern town of Beit Lahiya, killing six Palestinians, all civilians. Three of those killed are children. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a four storey building in the Shajaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City. A strike is organised against the visit of Condoleezza Rice: "Rice is responsible for the killing of children in Lebanon and Gaza. She, her administration, and her policies are not welcome here."
Southeast Asian nations call for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East and condemn Israel's "excessive" military operations in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.
On 21 July 2006, the USA newspaper, San Francisco Chronicle, publishes a report by Matthew Kalman called Israel Set War Plan More Than a Year Ago. This report describes Israel's intent to carry a three-week bombardment of Lebanon as early as 2000.
On day 15, the death toll had reached 422 in Lebanon (375 civilians) while in Israel it was 42 (18 civilians). 121 people had died in Gaza. 600,000 people become refugees in Lebanon.
After two weeks, the Islamic terrorist group, Al-Quaida, make a statement threatening Israel and all countries who support Israel in its attack on Muslims:
"As they attack us everywhere, we will attack them everywhere. As they have joined forces to fight us, our nation will unite to fight them. The shells and rockets which are tearing the bodies of Muslims in Gaza and Lebanon are not purely Israeli. They are produced and financed by all the countries of the Crusader alliance. Therefore, all those who have taken part in the crime must pay the price. We cannot just watch these shells as they pour wrath on our brothers in Gaza and Lebanon and sit back in submission."
According to journalist, Robert Fisk, Israel attacked several ambulances in southern Lebanon, their missiles entering the vehicles in the centre of the large red cross on the roof. Several injured people were killed.
Israel bombs the border crossing between Lebanon and Syria, used by refugees to escape the fighting. Israeli missiles injure two more United Nations observers. The United Nations reports that up to 600 Lebanese people had died by the 18th day, a third of them children. The number of people injured reaches 3220 while nearly 800,000 are displaced. A mother and her five children are killed in Israeli air raids in southern Lebanon. The death toll in Israel reaches 51. In Gaza, 145 Palestinians were dead, and one Israeli soldier.
Eight bodies were found on the roads of southern Lebanon. The eight dead included a couple and their three children found in their car which had been destroyed by an Israeli missile near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.
30,000 tonnes of oil flooded into the sea affecting 100km of coastline after an earlier air strike on a power plant by Israeli jets. Stavros Dimas, the European Union Environment Commissioner, said: "Wars do cause enormous human suffering as we are witnessing now in Lebanon. But another aspect is also the significant environmental destruction caused by it. [The spill] could affect the livelihood and health of the Lebanese and people in neighbouring countries as well as the status of the marine environment in the region." The type of oil spilled contains benzene which is categorized as a Class 1 carcinogen.
The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora, says that if Israel wants secure borders it must withdraw from the Shebaa Farms area that it has occupied since 1967. This has been a long standing Lebanese grievance unreported in the Western media. According the United Nations the Shebaa Farms are Syrian territory captured by Israeli in the 1967 war. Lebanon also wants maps of land mines planted by Israel in southern Lebanon during its occupation and the freeing of Lebanese detainees held in Israeli prisons.
Between 2001 and 2005, Israel received $ 10,500 million military aid from the USA and $ 6,300 million in arms deliveries. Israel is the largest recipient of USA military assistance. Many of these weapons are being used to attack civilian vehicles containing families fleeing the fighting in Lebanon - often at Israel's command. Bilal Masri, assistant director of the Beirut Government University Hospital, told journalist Dahr Jamail: "The Israelis are using new kinds of bombs, and these bombs can penetrate bomb shelters. They are bombing the refugees in the bomb shelters!" He also reported that the Lebanese Ministry of Interior has confirmed the Israelis have used white phosphorous gas which is an incendary weapon. This is a chemical weapon, much like napalm (used by the USA in Vietnam), that can burn right down to the bone. The USA military also used white phosphorous in Fallujah (Iraq).
Article 35 of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions prohibits the use of weapons "of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering." Cluster bombs and white phosphorous fall into this category. Masri also reported that 55% of the casualties in Lebanon are children under 15 years of age.
Dr. Bachir el-Sham, of the Complex Hospital in Sidon estimates that an average of 40 civilians are being killed by Israeli air strikes each day. The figure was calculated by coordinating casualty figures with other hospitals and clinics in the south. This figure is higher than official counts because "so many people are buried in the rubble". Large numbers of civilian apartment buildings were bombed to the ground, many with entire families in them. Ghadeer Shayto, a 15 year old girl injured by an Israeli rocket attack while leaving the village of Kafra said she had seen many dead on her way to Beirut: "On our way out, we passed so many civilian cars which had burnt bodies in them. They were burnt, and left there because nobody could come to take the bodies away." The bus in which she was travelling was displaying white flags when it was hit by a rocket. "My brother and cousin were killed, and the rest of us are wounded."
Israel states that it will not stop its attacks on Lebanon until United Nations resolution 1559 is implemented. This calls for the disarming of the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. Israel has avoided complying with United Nations resolution 242 since 1967. This calls for its withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and Golan Heights. Instead of withdrawing, Israel has continued to occupy or annexe these territories and build illegal settlements (colonies) on them.
In Gaza, the Israeli military takes up a new tactic of telephoning people before dropping bombs on their homes. Omar Al Mamluk, an officer from the Palestinian security forces, became a victim when he picked up his telephone: "Is that Omar Al Mamluk? This is the Israeli army. You have only a few minutes to leave your house." The story continues: "It was Monday night, about 10.30 in the evening. I received a call with the number of the caller hidden. I thought it was a prank by one of my mates. I asked: 'Are you joking?' and got the reply: 'The Israeli army doesn't make jokes.' Then the caller hung up."
Mamluk evacuated his house. "They hit 25 minutes later. I'd expected an Apache (attack helicopter) but not an F-16 fighter jet." All that is left of Mamluk's house in Gaza City is a pile of rubble. 22 people were made homeless by a tactic that would be called ethnic cleansing if it occurred anywhere else.
On day 19, 54 civilians, at least 34 of them children, are killed while sheltering in the basement of a house in Qana which was crushed after a direct hit. In 1996 an Israeli attack on Qana killed 106 people, mostly women and children. Hundreds of Lebanese protesters stage a violent demonstration, ransacking the United Nations headquarters in Beirut, chanting slogans against the USA and Israel and in support of the Hezbollah militants. Jim Muir, the correspondant for the BBC reported that many of the rescuers, experienced as they were, the emotional impact of finding so many dead children in the ruins was too much. "As I arrived, they were carrying out on a stretcher the limp body of a young boy of about 10. Many other children were pulled out of the rubble lifeless. That's a Red Cross rescue worker sitting here in the sunshine just sobbing - he's so overcome with emotion here."
Bashal al-Assad, the President of Syria, condemned the attacks: "The massacre committed by Israel in Qana this morning shows the barbarity of this aggressive entity. It constitutes state terrorism committed in front of the eyes and ears of the world," King Abdullah of Jordan also condemned the attack and called for an immediate ceasefire: "This criminal aggression is an ugly crime that has been committed by the Israeli forces in the city of Qana that is a gross violation of all international statutes." Hamid Reza Asefi, a foreign ministry spokesman in Iran opined "I think Israeli officials and some American ones should be tried for these sorts of crimes." Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt: "The Arab Republic of Egypt is highly disturbed and condemns the irresponsible Israeli attack on the Lebanese village of Qana, which led to the loss of innocent victims, most of which were women and children."
The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora denounces Israel's "heinous crimes against civilians" and calls for an "immediate, unconditional ceasefire", praising Hezbollah militants who were "sacrificing their lives for Lebanon's independence".
The UK allows six USA planes to use UK airports.
The planes were carrying munitions and guidance systems for Israel. The cargo included 100 GBU 28 "bunker buster" bombs containing depleted uranium warheads. If used these will produce radioactive dust which will endanger the population. These types of weapons are being used in Iraq by the USA. Dr Doug Rokke, former Director of the USA Army's Depleted Uranium Project writes:
"The use of uranium weapons is absolutely unacceptable, and a crime against humanity. Consequently the citizens of the world and all governments must force cessation of uranium weapons use."
On day 22, the death toll stands at 508 Lebanese civilians (45% children), 46 Hizbollah fighters, 26 lebanese soldiers, 36 Israeli soldiers, 19 Israeli civilians. Between 800,000 and 900,000 Lebanese civilians have been displaced, over a third of them children.
In late July Associated Press (AP) reports that Lebanese doctors in Tyre were treating patients who were suffering from burns caused by phosphorous incendiary weapons used by Israel. The AP report indicated that the Geneva Conventions prohibit the use of "white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas." Researchers from Human Rights Watch reports that Israel used cluster munitions in the village of Blida. The munitions are M483A1 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions which are made and supplied to Israel by the USA.
Both Lebanese and Palestinians have received messages from Israel warning them to leave as their homes will be destroyed. In Lebanon, fleeing families are often targetted.
According to the USA newspaper, the New York Times (26 July 2006), Israeli sources have conceded that preparations for this war began in 2000, after Israel's forced withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
It was finalized in 2004 after which Israel's plans were shown to USA officials. "More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to USA and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail."
In a revealing interview on the television station, al Jazeera, (24 July 2006), the Israeli director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies, Efraim Inbar, describes Israeli objectives as designed "to remove the missile threat to Israel, to push Hezbollah out of South Lebanon and to try to damage its military capacity as much as possible."
Inbar also indicated, "I advocate attacking Syria", adding that he was uncertain as to whether the Israeli government shared his views. He then added, "we're more likely to leave the Iranians to the Americans - for now".
His response to the question concerning Israel's conditions for a ceasefire serve to underline Israel's relationship with the USA. "Basically, the minimum conditions are the same as Israel's goals. But the US will decide when enough is enough and Israel will do what is acceptable to them." The UK newspaper, The Guardian confirmed that the USA "had given Israel a green light to continue bombing Lebanon until it believes Hezbullah's infrastructure has been destroyed."
The USA and UK media emphasise that Iran and Syria are supplying Hizbollah with weapons and political support while ignoring the far larger supplies of USA arms to Israel. The F-16 jets that have killed hundreds of Lebaneese children and are used to terrorise the population of Gaza are produced by two USA companies Lockheed Martin Corporation and Boeing Corporation.
28 farm workers are killed by an Israeli air strike in the Bekaa Valley.
Adel Safty, an international law spokesman for the United Nations writes:
"Whoever dares to challenge the imposition of imperial will is labelled terrorist or supporter of terrorism and war against them is rationalised with little or no regard to international law or the United Nations. Needless to say, this privilege of using massive violence pre-emptively is reserved only to the Empire, and its closest allies. Others must be held to the usual standards of accountability within the framework of international law and the United Nations. This double standard and disregard for law and conventions, arrogantly illustrated by the Anglo-American support for the Israeli use of force, encouraged Israel�s blatant disregard for the international community�s condemnations of its bloody conduct of the war."
According to the Israeli newspaper, Jerusalem Post (17 July), Assaf Shariv, media adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israelis have been interviewed by the foreign press four times as much as spokespeople for the Palestinians and Lebanese. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gideon Meir, added: "We have never had it so good. The hasbara [propaganda] effort is a well-oiled machine."
In August anti-Israel and anti-USA demonstrations occur around the world: India, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Mexico, Jordan, Pakistan, occupied Iraq, Iran (anti UK), Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia (where dissent is nornally banned), Syria, Egypt, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, USA, Canada, Israel (attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's daughter) and the UK.
The media continues to blame Hizbollah's cross border raid for the Israeli bombing even though according to United Nations monitors: "Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored 'blue line' on an almost daily basis. Israeli warplanes routinely violate Lebanese airspace, often intentionally flying low over cities so as to create sonic booms that terrify the population. Overflights by jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles or drones were numerous and particularly intrusive and provocative." The incursions by Israel were sometimes resisted by Hizbollah and continued despite United Nations protests.
The Palestinian cabinet (which is short of cash after having its funds cut by Israel, the USA and Europe) makes a donation to Lebanese refugees.
Israeli forces detain Aziz Dweik, the Speaker of the Palestinian parliament, at his home in the West Bank. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya condemns the action: "We urge all Arab and international parliamentarians to condemn and denounce this crime and to secure the release of Aziz Dweik and all jailed ministers and lawmakers." Israel detained eight members of the democratically elected government and 30 members of parliament. Palestinians have called the detentions an act of war.
In a 24 hour period, Israeli attacks against villages in southern and eastern Lebanon kill 60 people. The village of Haret Hreik, the region of Baalbek and suburbs of Beirut continue to be pounded. Seven members of one family are killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in the village of Ghazzaniyeh. 14 civilians die when an Israeli bombardment struck buildings in Ghaziyeh.
After four weeks more than 1,000 Lebanese - mostly civilians - have died; 99 Israelis were killed including 63 soldiers. 6,900 Lebanese homes have been destroyed by early August compared to 300 in Israel.
Israel justifies its attacks on civilians by blaming Hizbollah saying it uses civilians as cover. According to the USA organisation, Human Rights Watch: "The Israeli government claims that it targets only Hezbollah, and that fighters from the group are using civilians as human shields, thereby placing them at risk. Human Rights Watch found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack. Hezbollah occasionally did store weapons in or near civilian homes and fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers, which are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties. However, those cases do not justify the IDF's extensive use of indiscriminate force which has cost so many civilian lives. In none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in this report is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack."
The United Nations draft a resolution that calls on Hizbollah to disarm while Israel can continue "operations" in Lebanon. The resolution is designed by Israel, the USA (which arms Israel) and France (the former coloniser of Lebanon which has allies among the Christian population). Even though Israel has violated the Lebanese border more often than Hizbollah, a buffer force is to be placed totally on Lebanese territory. All of Israel's requirements but none of Lebanons's are included. The idea is to impose conditions that Lebanon cannot accept and then blame it for the continuing conflict. Israel�s ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, informed the BBC that if Hizbullah fired at Tel Aviv this would be tantamount to an "act of war" that could only have been ordered by Iran. By this statement Israel may be joining the USA in preparing the ground for an attack on Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, told the Hebrew language newspapers in Israel: �Our enemy is not Hezbollah, but Iran, which employs Hezbollah as its agent.�
According to journalist, Jonathan Cook: "Those real causes of hostilities will be ignored as more, mostly Lebanese, civilians die, and Israel and the US expand the theatre of war. Instead we will hear much of the rockets that are still landing in northern Israel and how they have been supplied by Iran. The fact that Hizbullah attacks followed rather precipitated Israel�s massive bombardment of Lebanon will be forgotten. Rockets fired by Hizbullah to stop Israeli aggression against Lebanon will be retold as an Iranian-inspired war to destroy the Jewish state. The nuclear-armed Goliath of Israel will, once again, be transformed into a plucky little David. Or at least such is the Israeli and US scenario.
Israel warns Lebanon that anything moving in the south of the country would be destroyed. This declaration of a "free fire zone" is illegal under international law and was been made by several Israeli officials. Relief agenies are refused permission by Israel to provide aid.
In the Beirut suburb of Chyah, Israeli missiles hit an apartment block killing 15 people. 26 people are killed in an Israeli air strike on the village of Qaa. Israel refuses permission to an aid boat coming into the port of Tyre.
Israel closes the border between Gaza and Egypt (even though Israel has officially withdrawn from Gaza). Helicopters fire missiles into Gaza City killing several people including a 3 year old girl. Missiles were fired into a house killing two people.
According to the news agency Reuters, Israel attacked a Palestinian refugee camp, Ain el Hilwe, in south Lebanon killed at least one person. Another Palestinian refugee camp, al-Hilwah at Sidon, is also attacked.
The Gaza offensive kills over 172 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians. According to the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, at least 6 of those killed were executed extra-judicially.
Israeli forces wound nearly 800 Palestinian civilians (many seriously), including 218 children and 24 women in just over one month. Israel fires hundreds of artillery shells and many dozens of air-to-surface missiles into Gaza every day, mainly against civilian targets that are usually just ordinary buildings. Israel continues to conduct mock air raids, its aircraft (US made and supplied advanced F-16 fighter jets) routinely breaking the sound barrier (often late at night) at low altitudes deliberately inflicting loud sonic booms against the inhabitants. A seige has been in place since the previous election - this has caused a humnitarian crisis. Israel has also destroyed the main pipe providing water for the Nusairat and al-Boreij refugee camps. This conflict and its effects on Palestinians is under-reported as the West's media concentrate on Lebanon.
Israel continues to build its illegal wall and has expropriated Palestinian land in al-Sawhra as-Gharbiya village, east of Jerusalem, to complete a section in that area.
Israel asks the USA government to speed delivery of short-range anti-personnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, which it could use to strike targets in Lebanon. During the first month, Israel launched 8,000 raids on Lebanon, and dropped over 100,000 bombs and missiles.
Israeli attacks kill more than 26 people in Lebanon, including 7 killed when a drone (unpiloted plane) fires rockets at a convoy of hundreds of cars fleeing the south. The unmanned Israeli aircraft fired on a convoy of more than 500 vehicles fleeing the war near the town of Chtaura in the Bekka Valley of Lebanon. One of the dead was Mikhael Jbayleh, a Red Cross worker who went to help people injured in the initial strikes. Several medical personnel are killed as their ambulances are attacked by Israel, often with missiles passing through the centre of the red cross painted on their vehicles' roof. Attacks on medical services violate of the Geneva Conventions.
On day 33, 8 apartment blocks are destroyed by Israeli bombing in west Beirut.
After 34 days a cease fire is agreed.
Lebanese returning to their homes are killed by unexploded cluster bombs. In Ansar one person was killed and 6 were wounded. In Nabatiyeh 6 people were wounded including a rescue worker. Mine removal experts from the United Nations identify thirty places where cluster bombs were used. Two children are killed in Naqoura. Over 200 cluster bombs were found in the town of Tibnin close to the hospital. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) (from the UK) say that Israel used more cluster bombs in southern Lebanese villages than were used in the USA-led invasion of Iraq. Most were dropped in the final days of the conflict. According to Sean Sutton of MAG: "We have visited about 30 or 40 villages in the Nabatieh region, and I would say that about 50 per cent of them have been carpeted by cluster bombs, often with one lying every few metres. We have found them on peoples' doorsteps, in school playgrounds, and even in the front room of an old lady's house." He added that both USA-made cluster bombs and Israeli-manufactured copies had been found.
|Israeli civilians killed||43|
|Israeli soldiers killed||116|
|Lebanese civilians killed||1,109|
|Lebanese soldiers (not in combat with Israel) killed||28|
|Lebanese resistance fighters killed||55|
|Damage in Israel||300 buildings (including factories)|
|Damage in Lebanon||6,900 houses / apartments|
900 commercial buildings
29 ports, sewage plants, electrical plants
23 fuel stations
oil slick in sea
|Israeli air strikes||7,000|
Israeli forces seize Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Nasser al-Shaer in a raid on his house in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Israel violates the cease fire by attacking the village of Bodai in the Bekka Valley in central Lebanon. Commandos were dropped by helicopter and there was a gun fight for two hours. The UK BBC reports this as "Lebanon accuses Israel of violating the cease fire".
The human rights organisation, Amnesty Interantional, accuses Israel of committing war crimes by deliberately targetting civilians and their infrastructure.
Israel continues operations inside Gaza, killing three people and firing on cameramen. The death toll reaches 202 Palestinians over a two month period, including 44 children. Abd al-Aziz Dweik, the democratically elected speaker of the Palestinian parliament is led into an Israeli court in shackles and charged with being a member of an illegal organisation (i.e one that opposes Israel's occupation). His response was "It is a political trial, and I don't recognise it. I am an elected official."
Hizbollah is consistantly described in the Western media as a terrorist organisation. According to journalist, Dahr Jamail, "they're only referred to as a terrorist organization by the US, Israel, and the UK. Whereas in all of the Middle East, including in Lebanon, a country where they have their base, they are seen as a legitimate political party, a grassroots organization that employs over a quarter of a million people fully engaged in infrastructure projects like hospitals, schools and social welfare programs. We have over 1,300 Lebanese killed by the Israeli war of aggression, over 90% of those civilians. And then we look at the other side where roughly 150 Israelis died over 50% of those were soldiers. So just looking at that statistic alone, whose is the terrorist organization, or more specifically who is the terrorist state? And now, throughout the Middle East, Israel is being seen as the terrorist state rather than Hizbollah being in any way as a terrorist organization. And now, even in Lebanon, Hizbollah is being seen as the rightful defenders of Lebanon against Israeli aggression."
In the USA, Javed Iqbal runs HDTV Corporation, a complany providing satellite television channels. In late August he was arrested because one of the stations provided by his company was al-Manar (run by Hizbollah). It seems that the USA does not want its citizens to have access to the same information that the rest of the world has.
According to the United Nations, 12 Lebanese (including 2 children) are killed by Israeli cluster bombs in a three week period - 28 people are injured during the same post-invasion period. Over 100,000 cluster bombs were found in 359 locations in southern Lebabnon. Tekimiti Gilbert, operations chief of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Lebanon reports:
"It's a huge problem. There are obvious dangers with children, people, cars. People are tripping over these things. These cluster bombs were dropped in the middle of villages". Using cluster bombs in civilian areas is a violation of international law. 90% were dropped in the final 72 hours of the conflict.
Israel continues the sea and air blockade of Lebanon even after the cease fire.
In Gaza, a Reuters car is attacked by an Israeli air strike injuring two journalists, Fadel Shana and Sabbah Hmaida, and two bystanders. According to Associated Press, the white vehicle was emblazoned with the Reuters logo and had "TV" and "Press" written on it in English, Arabic and Hebrew. Another air strike in Jabalya killed nine people. A 16 year old boy was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Nablus. Israeli bulldozers demolished a four storey building that was home to 100 people and the residents were forced out by soldiers.
Israel arrests (or kidnaps) another member of the Palestinian parliament, Mahmoud Mesleh bringing the number of government hostages it holds to 64 Hamas officials, including eight ministers and 29 MPs. Four more people are killed by an Israeli missile strike. During the two month siege and attacks on Palestinian territory, very little has been reported in the Western media. Over a month after the end of the conflict Israel releases 21 of the prisoners.
The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, publishes a story from the head of a unit of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in Lebanon that confirms the use of cluster and phosphorus bombs - both illegal against civilians: "What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs."
The report continues: "Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets. In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law. According to their claims, the vast majority of said explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war."
The report concludes: "It has come to light that IDF soldiers fired phosphorous rounds in order to cause fires in Lebanon. An artillery commander has admitted to seeing trucks loaded with phosphorous rounds on their way to artillery crews in the north of Israel. A direct hit from a phosphorous shell typically causes severe burns and a slow, painful death."
In the first month after the cease fire, 83 Lebanese die from cluster bombs. The majority of the bombs were manufactured in the USA by a company called Lanson Industries.
The USA and Israel saw the result as against their interests. Israel, supported by the USA, closed off Gaza, laying siege to the territory and stopping all funding, goods and movement. Taxes owed on goods entering Gaza are witheld by Israel. The USA (which controls most of the world's financial system) threatened Arab and Middle Eastern banks if they supplied aid or money to the Palestinians. The European Union collude with USA'a policy against the Palestinians by withdrawing subsidies. Western media fail to report on the plight of the people of Palestine.
In September, the UK newspaper, The Independent, begins publishing a series of stories about the Palestinian territoty of Gaza. According to this newspaper:
"The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq."
The report continues: "A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most
heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the
surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.
Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of
whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out
of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the
international media to the war in Lebanon."
Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon."
Gideon Levy, a journalist for the Israel newspaper, Haaretz writes that for the previous three months the Israeli army "has been rampaging through Gaza - there's no other word to describe it - killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately".
The Independent continues: "Gaza has essentially been reoccupied since Israeli troops and tanks come and go at will. In the northern district of Shajhayeh they took over several houses last week and stayed five days. By the time they withdrew, 22 Palestinians had been killed, three houses were destroyed and groves of olive, citrus and almond trees had been bulldozed. Fuad al-Tuba, the 61-year-old farmer who owned a farm here, said: 'They even destroyed 22 of my bee-hives and killed four sheep.' He pointed sadly to a field, its brown sandy earth churned up by tracks of bulldozers, where the stumps of trees and broken branches with wilting leaves lay in heaps. Near by a yellow car was standing on its nose in the middle of a heap of concrete blocks that had once been a small house. His son Baher al-Tuba described how for five days Israeli soldiers confined him and his relatives to one room in his house where they survived by drinking water from a fish pond. 'Snipers took up positions in the windows and shot at anybody who came near', he said. 'They killed one of my neighbours called Fathi Abu Gumbuz who was 56 years old and just went out to get water'."
According to a report published by the World Bank in August, the West Bank and Gaza face "a year of unprecedented economic recession. Real incomes may contract by at least a third in 2006 and poverty to affect close to two thirds of the population." The income per person in beseaged Palestine falls to less than $2 per day.
Crime and looting increases as people become desperate to feed their families.
Dr Maged Abu-Ramadan, the mayor of Gaza City declares: "It is the worst year for us since 1948. Gaza is a jail. Neither people nor goods are allowed to leave it. People are already starving. They try to live on bread and falafel and a few tomatoes and cucumbers they grow themselves."
He continues that the Israelis "have destroyed 70 per cent of our orange groves in order to create security zones". Exports are left to rot. After Israeli air strikes electric power is at 55%. Nearly 70% of Palestinians are unemployed and the remainder who work for the state are not being paid due to the economic siege. The siege leaves Gaza as the poorest region on the Mediterranean. Of its population 1.3 million, 33% live in refugee camps.
The Independent writes that "The Israeli siege and the European boycott are a collective punishment of everybody in Gaza". According to one Palestinian "Arab and Western countries want to destroy this government because it is the government of the resistance".Between 25 June and 8 September:
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem reports that 76 Palestinians, including 19 children, were killed by Israeli forces in August alone. Evidence shows at least 53 per cent were not participating in hostilities.
International aid agencies report that the Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza has led to many people looking for scraps of food in rubbish dumps. Karen Abuzayd, the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency: "The pressure and tactics have not resulted in a desire for compromise. But rather they have created mass despair, anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment."
Kirstie Campbell of the United Nations's World Food Programme: "Women in Gaza tell me they are eating only one meal a day, bread with tomatoes or cheap vegetables." What little food is available is eaten cold due to the frequent power cuts and lack of money to pay for fuel. In addition, in one month 4% of Gaza's agricultural land was destroyed by Israeli bulldozers. The 35,000 fishermen cannot fish because Israeli gunboats will fire on them if they go more than a few hundred yards from the shore. The USA and European led boycott of the Palestinian government means that there is no foreign aid to pay Palestinian government employees. The government had a monthly budget of around $200 million, half of which went to pay 165,000 public sector workers. By mid-September the budget was $25 million a month.
Aid agencies struggle to persuade the world and the Western-controlled media that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is much worse than it is in the more reported Lebanon: "In contrast to Lebanon, where humanitarian food aid needs have been essentially met, the growing number of poor in Gaza are living on the bare minimum."
23 peace activists cycling from London to Jerusalem are denied entry to the Jenin refugee camp by Israeli officials. The mainly UK group reached the outskirts of Jenin after travelling from Damascus, and were detained for 8 hours. One of the founders of the group, Peace Cycle 2006, Laura Abraham:
"No valid reason was given. Spurious explanations were provided by officials, and despite phone calls to the Israeli authorities from the British consulate, the group was told it would not be permitted to cross indefinitely." Requests for water or the use of toilet facilities were also denied: "We were treated so well in every country we passed through in Europe and the Middle East, but now we are being treated like animals."In November, Israeli artilery kills 20 civilians (including women and children) in Bait Hanoun. The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the attack and calling for Israel to withdraw from Gaza. The UK abstains. This is the second similar resolution vetoed by the USA in 2006. 350 Palestinians died under Israeli attack between June and November 2006. Israel says that the attacks are to stop rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. These killed nine Israelis between 2000 and 2006. The Israeli human rights organisation, B'Tselem, publish a report saying that in 2006, 660 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied territories. This included 141 children and over 320 civilians. These figures had increased three fold from the previous year. Some 292 homes were demolished making 1,769 people homeless. 42 Arab homes were demolished in East Jerusalem. In the same period, Palestinians killed 17 Israelis, including a child and six soldiers. This was a drop from the previous year. The disparity of these figures and the fact that Israeli has been occupying Palestinian territory for nearly 40 years is under-reported in the West.
The deaths (including women and children) come only a few months after a massive earthquake kills 80,000 people in the region. Large and angry demonstrations against the USA (including the burning of a USA backed aid agency) remain unreported in the Western media.
Teenager Sami Ullah lost his entire family in the attack.
The Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, refuses to name the USA as responsible for the attack. The government of Pakistan is supported and armed by the USA even though the president, Pervez Musharraf, took power in a military coup.
In September, Pervez Musharraf declares that the USA threatened to bomb Pakistan if he failed to cooperate with USA plans in Afghanistan. The warning was delivered in the name of Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Armitage: "The intelligence director told me that [Armitage] said, 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age'."
The West backs a "transitional government" run by Ali Mohammad Gedi which is not popular in Somalia as he is a war lord. The country had been relatively peaceful since June 2005 under a popular government called The Union of Islamic Courts who had pushed the previous USA backed governemnt out. They had ruled Somalia under the following principles: The independence of Somalia, freedom from warlord terror, justice, and respect for the Muslim faith. During their brief rule they had begun to restore property looted by the previous regime.
The UK supports the invasion and declares that members of the Islamic government should not be in power.
10,000 people are displaced by the fighting. Looting by war-lord led militias occurs in the capital, Mogadishu. Banditry by the militias begins again - it had been stopped by the previous government. The new "government" imposes martial law which is enforced by Ethiopian troops. Public meetings and gatherings are banned.
A few days later, USA forces bomb the south of the country in a series of air strikes using AC-130 gunships. These contain huge machine guns that fire 3000 rounds per minute. Over 150 Somalis are killed, including a group of 70 nomads in their night camp at Afmadow. Dozens of people were killed and over 100 are injured in an air raid in the fishing village of Ras Kamboni. At the same time Kenya, a USA ally, closes its border. The USA Ambassador, Michael Ranneberger, declares that no civilians had been killed. Moalim Adan Osman, a village elder in Dhobley, contradicted this: "We estimated about 100 civilians have been killed. Some are still missing. The aeroplanes have bombed large areas. The have bombed the nomads indiscriminately".
The USA ignores international protests and sends a small number of its forces into the region to "check whether they had killed their targets".
20,000 Ethiopian soldiers remain in Somalia after the invasion.
The International Somalia Contact Group (a USA led grouping) calls for a United Nations peacekeeping force. The USA grants $ 16 million aid to the new Somali "government" and offers $ 14 million to any peacekeeping force.
Over 150 people who fled across the border to Kenya during the Ethiopian invasion are arrested and secretly flown at night from Nairobi to Somalia. They are held in underground prisons at the airport at Magadishu shackled to walls and without access to legal represenation. According to human rights groups, the detainees were questioned by USA and UK officials. They are then trasnferred to prisons in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. No legal extradition procedures had been followed.
Maini Kiai, the chairman of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, accuses the USA and UK of carrying out "extraordinary rendition". This is the process where people are moved illegally across borders and detained.
The USA backed government orders the Arabic news station, Al Jazeera, and two local private radio stations (HornAfrik and IQK Koranic Radio) to stop broadcasting from Mogadishu. The radio stations come back on air for a few months until the military shoot at their offices and attack their offices with grenades. One of the presenters and the owner of HornAfrik are assassinated.
Ethiopian soldiers arrest business people and intellectuals who oppose the new government.
Fighting between Ethiopian forces and Somali resistance kills over 1000 people during March in the capital Mogadishu.
In April more fighting breaks out between the USA-Ethiopian government and Somalis resisting the occupation. Nearly 400 civilians are killed. The USA, having got its people in power, calls for a peace deal - in contrast to its failure to call for a cease fire when its ally, Israel, was bombing Lebanon in 2006.
Fighting continues with hundreds of civilians killed. In one incident rockets were fired into a crowded market and into a bus station. Resistance to the invasion is labelled as terrorism and blamed on Al-Qaida.
According to the United Nations, 321,000 people fled from Mogadishu, a city of two million people, by the middle of 2007.
KryssTal Opinion: Somalia had enjoyed a few months of peace after years of civil war. The overthrow of its government by the USA using Ethiopian troops has resulted in hundreds of unrecorded and under reported deaths from USA foreign policy.
As people continue dying in Somalia, the conflict and its reasons are ignored by USA and UK media. Andrew Cawthorne (Reuters in Kenya) reported that "the carnage and suffering in Somalia may be the worst in more than a decade -- but you'd hardly know it from your nightly news." By May 2007, more people had died in the conflict that had been killed in Lebanon during the 2006 bombing by Israel.
Nunu Kidane, a writer from Priority Africa Network (PAN) describes the situation: "USA political and military alliance with Ethiopia - which openly violated international law in its aggression towards Somalia, is destabilizing the Horn region and begins a new shift in the way the US plans to have permanent and active military presence in Africa." The Horn of Africa is the region of East Africa around Somalia.
Walter Lindner, the German Ambassador to Somalia wrote a letter describing the situation in the country: "The obviously indiscriminate use of heavy artillery in the capital has killed and wounded hundreds of civilians, and forced over 200,000 more to flee for their lives. [Displaced persons were] at great risk of being subjected to looting, extortion and rape - including by uniformed troops at a various 'checkpoints'." The refugees are contracting cholera. International aid groups are being attacked by armed militia.
Andrew Cawthorne's report for Reuters continues with several quotes:
"There is a massive tragedy unfolding in Mogadishu, but from the world's silence, you would think it's Christmas. Somalis, caught up in Mogadishu's worst violence for 16 years, are painfully aware of their place on the global agenda."
"Nobody cares about Somalia, even if we die in our millions."
Michael Weinstein, a USA expert on Somalia at Purdue University explains why the media has been quiet about the situation in Somalia:
"For the major [world] leaders, there is a tremendous embarrassment over Somalia. They have committed themselves to supporting the interim government -- a government that has no broad legitimacy, a failing government. This is the heart of the problem. ... But Western leaders can't back out now, so of course they have 100% no interest in bringing global attention to Somalia. There is no doubt that Somalia has been shoved aside by major media outlets and global leaders, and the Somali Diaspora is left crying in the wilderness."
Although Ethiopia invaded Somalia and installed a puppet government, the affair was planned by the USA who are present in the background. The USA newspaper, Washington Post, reported "a picture of a nation that jails its citizens without reason or trial, and tortures many of them -- despite government claims to the contrary. Such cases are especially troubling because the US government, a key Ethiopian ally, has acknowledged interrogating terrorism suspects in Ethiopian prisons, where some detainees were sent after being arrested in connection with Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in December. There have been no reports that those jailed have been tortured."
The next day the newspaper was reporting that "more than 200 FBI and CIA agents have set up camp in the Sheraton Hotel here in Ethiopia's capital and have been interrogating dozens of detainees -- including a U.S. citizen -- picked up in Somalia and held without charge and without attorneys in a secret prison somewhere in this city, according to Ethiopian and U.S. officials who say the interrogations are lawful."
Carl Bloice of the USA based National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism reveals: "On file are plans - put on hold amid continuing conflicts - for nearly two-thirds of Somalia's oil fields to be allocated to the U.S. oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. It was recently reported that the U.S. - backed prime minister of Somalia has proposed enactment of a new oil law to encourage the return of foreign oil companies to the country.
Nunu Kidane: "The unlawful U.S.- Ethiopian invasion and occupation of that country and the accompanying human suffering and human rights abuses constitute a new - and still mostly hidden - war in many ways similar to that in Iraq. And, waged for the same reason.
Sound familiar? The same process that were seen in Afghanitsan, Haiti and Iraq are now operating in Somalia. The rest of the world stands meekly by or, in the case of the UK, approves.
An exiled leader of Somalia, Hassan Dahir Uways, flees to Eritrea. The USA (which essentially paid Ethiopia to change Somalia's government) accuses Eritrea of destabilasing the region and threatens the country with sanctions. Eritrea publishes a condemnantion of USA foreign policy.
Nine months after the USA backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, over half a million people have been displaced and 80,000 children are in danger of starvation. The central market in Mogadishu is closed by the Ethiopian military who then burn it down. Kiosks and roadside stalls are also torn down leaving many people with no source of income.
Stephen Grey, a UK journalist in London and author of Ghost Plane, publishes an artical detailing the detention and torture of a UK citizen who was in Mogadishu at the time of the USA-backed Ethiopian invasion.
Reza Afsherzadegan was a 25 year old computer student from London (UK) who had gone to Somalia during the pre-invasion peace to teach computer skills to young people. Reza fled the capital during the invasion. He was captured by Kenyan soldiers near the frontier and flown to Nairobi.
He was held in crowded communal cells, with buckets as toilets, and accused of going to Somalia to train as a terrorist. "They would ask me if I've handled any weapons or received any training. I said I hadn't seen any of that. But they would look at me and say `you're lying'." Among the prisoners were women and children. "I saw a woman with five-year-old kids in cells opposite me and it was just incredible; you can't believe the way they've treated people." In violation of the Vienna Convention, Reza was denied access to his embassy (which would have been the UK embassy as he was a British national) but instead was questioned in a hotel by MI5, the British security service. Other detainees were treated in the same way.
A month later, Reza was flown blidfolded to Somalia with other detainees: "I thought to myself, can they do this? You know, can they send us to Somalia? The MI5, they know about us. They just sent us to Somalia. Can they do this?" They were held in dark, dirty underground cells.
Reza and other UK citizens were released and flown to the UK by the British embassy in Somalia. Other detainees were flown to Ethiopia. These included 11 women (five of them heavily pregnant) and 11 children as young as seven months old. Many of the people held in secret in three countries were released without any charge. Four of the women gave birth in captivity.
The story of the secrret detentions came out when some detainees obtained mobile (cell) phones from their guards and contacted human rights groups (among them Reprieve and CagePrisoners). The Muslim Human Rights Forum obtained flight manifests showing that 90 people were taken from Kenya to Somalia and these included women and children. Many ended up in Ethiopia where they were questioned by a team of USA agents.
One female victim was Fatma Chande, a 25 year old woman from Tanzania. She reported that she had been questioned by USA agents in Ethiopia. They also took her fingerprints and a DNA sample.
She stated: "The Kenyans told me originally that it is the Americans who wanted my husband, it's the Americans who were interested in us. The police tried to force me to admit my husband was a member of al-Qaida. I told them he was a businessman. He was nothing to do with al-Qaida. They kept banging on the table. They threatened to strangle me if I didn't tell them the truth."
Fatma's children also suffered: "When we arrived at the airport, we were handcuffed and our headscarves were pulled down over our eyes. The men were hooded. The children were crying all the time saying `we want to go home, we want to go home'."
This story was completely ignored the UK and USA newspapers and television news.
After the Palestinians elected a new government, Israel stopped giving the new government money it was collecting in taxes, Europe stopped sending aid money and the USA threatened countries who provided aid with economic sanctions. This has led to poverty and hardship in the Palestinian territories.
Israel has been building a 8m high wall around Jerusalem that is designed to control Palestinian entry from the West Bank. The wall cuts through historic highways from Jerusalem (part of which is considered as occupied under international law) to Amman (Jordan) and from Jenin to Hebron. For West Bank Palestinians, the wall is broken only at four checkpoints. These can only be reached after many detours which require travellers to leave their vehicles and cross on foot. Palestinian vehicles are banned from Jerusalem.
The 180km wall will cost over $ 1,000,000 per kilometre. Only 5km of wall runs along the recognised border between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Most of it is being built on Palestinian territory. Around Jerusalem, the majority of the wall does not separate Israelis and Palestinians (as required by Israel stating that the wall is for security) but cuts off Palestinians from their schools, fields, olive groves, hospitals and cemeteries.
The West Bank city of Qalqiliya (population 40,000) is now surrounded by the wall. Residents can only enter and exit through a single military checkpoint which is open daily between 7am and 7pm.
When the wall is completed, there will be over 400,000 Palestinians completely or partially surrounded by it.
East Jerusalem was originally an Arab city. Israel has annexed the entire city and has passed apartheid laws allowing the building of Jewish only "settlements" on the land. Since 1967, 250,000 Jewish settlers have been housed in this area.
In contrast to the difficulty encountered by West Bank Palestinians entering Jerusalem, Israel has built new roads to enable Jewish settlers to reach the city as quickly as possible. A tramline is also planned. The roads form a network of four lane highways, lit up at night, along which the trees have been cut down, Palestinian houses demolished, and protective walls erected. These highways linking the settlements and Jerusalem are prohibited to Palestinian vehicles. They have to use poor quality secondary roads that are badly maintained and controlled by checkpoints. Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat describes the dual road system as the "apartheid that dare not speak its name".
In Jerusalem all Jews but only 2.3% of Palestinians are citizens. West Bank Palestinians have green identity cards which give them no no rights in the city, not even the right to enter without permission. Permanent residents with blue identity cards enjoy voting and welfare benefits, but those rights are not transmitted automatically to their spouses or children.
The European Union published a report in 2005 (that was censored) that highlighted more discrimination: "Between 1996-1999 Israel implemented a centre of life policy, meaning that those with blue ID found living or working outside East Jerusalem, for example in Ramallah, would lose their ID. A wave of blue ID cardholders quickly moved back to East Jerusalem".
These policies have succeeded in making life difficult for the city's Arab population in a number of ways:
Meron Benvenisti, a leading expert on Jerusalem, described the situation as follows:
"The wall? A monument to despair! Look at Bethlehem: on one side, the Church of the Nativity, on the other, the bunker around Rachel's Tomb. It's the arrogance of an occupier who feels free to define and redefine communities as he sees fit. As if the fence separated 'good' Arabs, accepted in Jerusalem, from 'bad' Arabs excluded from it. Those who dreamed-up this horror follow the same logic of 19th century colonialism as did the French when they hung on to Indochina and North Africa. It won't work this time either. The Jerusalem wall will go the same way as the Berlin wall."
This "ethnic management" of Jerusalem is under-reported in the Western media.
Facts about the wall (2006):
|Total length of planned wall||700km|
|Amount of the West Bank left on the Israeli side of the wall||50%|
|Maximum distance into the West Bank taken by the route of the wall||16km|
|Width of buffer zone around the wall||70m to 100m|
Facts about the occupation (2006):
|Percentage of Arabs living in Palestine in 1918 when the UK issued the Balfour Declaration||90%|
|Percentage of historical Palestine allocated to the Jewish state by the United Nations in 1947||57%|
|Percentage of historical Palestine that became Israel in 1948||78%|
|Number of Palestinian villages destroyed in the 78% of historical Palestine that now forms Israel||531|
|Percentage of historical Palestine currently recognised as occupied by Israel||22%|
|Percentage of occupied territories on the Israeli side of the wall or taken by illegal settlements||50%|
|Percentage of Palestine's natural water used by Israel every year||82%|
|Maximum depth of Palestinian wells allowed by Israel||140m|
|Maximum depth of Israeli wells||800m|
|Amount of aid received by Israel from the USA||$ 5,000 million|
|Number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces and settlers (Sep 2000 to Dec 2005)||652|
|Percentage of Palestine's population that is under 18 years old||52%|
|Percentage of Palestinian children suffering from chronic or acute malnutrition||22.5%|
|Number of journalists killed / injured by Israeli forces between 2000 and 2005||12 / 300|
|Number of Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons||7,500|
|Number of Palestinians homes demolished under Israeli occupation||12,000|
|Number of Palestinians homes demolished (2000 to 2006)||5,000|
|Percentage of Palestinian attacks in the occupied territories as opposed to Israel (2000 to 2003)||96%|
In June 2006, Israel banned all fishing from Gaza. According to the United Nations 35,000 people directly rely on the fishing industry for subsistence. A blockade of Gaza is maintained by Israeli naval vessels. The Western media (which loudly reported the "withdrawal" of Israel from Gaza) fails to report this illegal blockade of Gaza's coast.
Between 2000 and 2006 the monthly catch of fish by Palestinians has dropped from 823 to 50 tonnes. The World Bank cites Israel's blockade as responsible for the economic and humanitarian crisis facing Gaza.
These actions by Israel violate article 52 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which Israeli has signed. The article states: "No contract, agreement or regulation shall impair the right of any worker, whether voluntary or not. All measures aiming at creating unemployment or at restricting the opportunities offered to workers in an occupied territory, in order to induce them to work for the Occupying Power, are prohibited."
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza has been monitoring the blockade: "Fishermen have been subjected to intensive monitoring by the Israeli occupation forces, which use helicopters gunships and gunboats". During 2006 four fishermen were killed after being attacked by Israeli forces and many have been arrested.
Israel begins excavations close to the Al Aqsa Mosque. The work violates the Israel-Jordan peace treaty which awarded custody of the Islamic and Christian holy places in eastern Jerusalem to Jordan. The site is protected by UNESCO World Heritage. Israel ignores protests from groups as diverse as the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Nonaligned Movement and Churches for Middle East Peace.
In Umm Naser in northern Gaza a river of raw sewage and debris overflowed from a collapsed earth embankment into a refugee camp driving 3,000 Palestinians from their homes. Five people died by drowning, 25 were injured and many houses were destroyed. In the USA, the media blamed the Palestinians for building shoddy infrustructure.
There are two causes of this ecological disaster. Firstly it is the economic blockade imposed by Israel (and enforced internationally by the USA) on the Palestinian territories. Secondly, massive bombing by Israel on Gaza during 2006, demolished roads, bridges, sewage treatment facilities, water purification and electrical power plants.
In May, less than a month before the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel bombs Gaza killing dozens of people in an attempt to assassinate members of the Palestinian government. The Western media fail to mention the anniversary of the occupation and concentrate on the fewer numbers of Israelis attacked by rockets.
Israel arrests more of the elected officials of Palestine - the number reaches one third. Western governments, which attempt to impose "democracy" on the Arabs, says nothing.
Between September 2000 and July 2007, 5,776 people have been killed in the conflict, most of them Palestinians.
The charity Save The Children reports that serious malnutrician is becoming a problem in Gaza as Israel continues the siege and blockade. Apart from the UK newspaper, The Independent, this story is unreported in the Western media. Israel begins cutting power to Gaza. This causes problems in industry and begins to close hospitals. 85% of people in Gaza have no work and banks have run out of money. The siege stops movement of people and goods between Palestine and Israel as well as limit movement within the West Bank. There are 546 checkpoints. 40% of the West Bank is inaccessible to Palestinians.
Human rights groups condemn the Israeli siege as a violation of the Geneva Conventions against collective punishment. The siege continues to be supported and enforced by the USA (which controls financial institutions in the region), the UK and Europe.
Nofer Ishai-Karen, an ex-soldier in the Israeli army, publishes a report after interviewing a number of soldiers involved in the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Two platoons were studied, ESHBAL and ESHKHAR. The interviews show what life under occupation is like for the Palestinians. The soldiers spoke freely about events which occurred nearly 20 years previously admitting to murder, breaking bones of Palestinian children, actions of humiliation, destruction of property, robbery and theft.
Since 1967 Israel has imprisoned more than 650,000 Palestinians, equivalent to nearly 20 per cent of the population. In 2007, there are 10,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
The USA, Israel and three small islands in the Pacific Ocean voted against a resolution by the United Nations calling for self determination for the Palestinian people.
According to Ali Hasann of USA-based Human Rights Watch: "Pakistan's human rights situation is dismal and has grown steadily worse under Musharraf. While it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of disappearance cases, there are hundreds of such cases on the record. While the US and UK have been complicit in the disappearance of alleged al_Qa'ida suspects, the Pakistani government has taken full advantage of Western complicity in such acts to extend their scope to domestic political opponents and critics."
A robotic plane (a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator) directed from the Nevada Desert in the USA fires three AGM-114 Hellfire missiles into Pakistan while flying over Afghanistan. The missiles strike the village of Datta Khel, a town in North Waziristan. A madrassa (Islamic school) was hit and 30 people were killed.
The use of robotic planes by the USA is increasing so quickly that David Branham, a USA Leutenant Colonel was able to tell the USA newspaper, New York Times: "It is possible that in our lifetime we will be able to run a war without ever leaving the US."
In November, the military government suspends the constitution, arrests hundreds of lawyers, human rights activists and opposition politicians. One of the politicians arrested is Imran Khan, an ex-cricket player who eventually has to go into hiding.
The main oposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, is put under house arrest. Her supporters, including women, are beaten by police. She is later released but the military government ban her political gatherings.
The USA and UK complain in public but continue to call the country an ally and provide aid. In the UK BBC reporters talk about "difficult choices" and fail to use the words "military junta" which they frequently use when describing similar events in Burma.
According to the United Nations, 600,000 people have had to flee their homes in the capital, Mogadishu from the time of the invasion up to the end of 2007. Over 200,000 continue to live in squalid camps close to the city - the largest concentration of displaced people anywhere in the world.
The Western media has completely ignored the plight of these people even as it broadcasts and publishes stories about another African region Darfur.
The USA (which has caused the catastrophe) gives no aid but spends millions to extend and modernise a runway at the port city of Bosasso. USA warships stationed off the coast of Somalia regularly attack inland targets killing many people.
The Prime Minister of Somalia, Ali Mohhammad Gedi, keeps a $ 32 million donation from Saudi Arabia, money meant for the organisation of a "peace conference". The USA summond Gedi to Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia). In return for stepping down as Prime Minister, he is allowed to keep the money and given asylum in the USA where he has bought a house in Los Angeles.
Hawa Ali Abdi is less fortunate as she lives under a tree at Afgoye, 40km from the capital with her husband and two children (both under two years old). The family fled from Mogadishu: "There is no food and no water. Nowhere to go to the toilet and nowhere to get shelter for the night".
The USA bombs Somalia in early March from an AC 130 plane killing four people.
The United Nations says that Somalia is the worst place in the world for children. Rising food prices and conditions brought about by the USA backed Ethiopian invasion were causing famine.
Human rights group, Amnesty International publishes a report describing conditions in Somalia as "dire". The report states that more than 6000 civilians were killed in Somalia from mid 2007 to mid 2008. Troops from Ethiopia (whose invasion of Somalia in late 2006 was backed and helped by the USA) are the worst offenders looting, raping and killing indiscriminantly. Other reports talk of children's throats being slit while mothers watch and eyes being gouged out.
The USA supports the invasion with air strikes and warships off the coast. The European Union provides funding for the new government.
The BBC described the killing of a Somali "militant" by a USA air strike that killed 11 people.
KryssTal Opinion: Is a Somali defending his own country from invasion more "militant" that a USA military that has come half way round the world to drop a bomb on him?
Human Rights Watch publishes a report describing the UK and USA as complicit in war crimes being committed by Ethiopian forces is the Ogaden region of Ethiopia which is a mainly Somali region in Ethiopia. The borders between the two countries were set up by European colonial powers.
The human rights violations include rape, torture and public executions. Many villages have been burnt to the ground, a fact confirmed by USA satellite images. These events remain unreported in UK television broadcasts which instead run stories on the similar events in Dafur (Sudan). Instead UK aid to Ethiopia incresed from $ 130 million to $ 260 million between 2005 and 2008. The USA also increased aid to the military.
In March, Israel bombs Gaza killing over 120 people in a week, 25 of them children. Israel states that the attack is in response to the firing of rockets at Israel. These home made rockets have killed 14 people in seven years.
The attack left at least 370 children injured. Hospitals in Gaza had to treat hundreds of seriously injured people without reliable electricity and with shortages of drugs, spare parts for medical equipment, and surgical supplies. Ambulances came under Israeli fire, three medical workers were injured and one killed. The crowded refugee camps in Gaza City were hit by two bombs from a USA-provided F-16 jet which destroyed the headquarters of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, seriously damaging several nearby apartments.
The United Nations attempts to condemn the Israeli attack but the resolution is watered down by the USA. In addition, during 2008 the USA government provides Israel with $ 2,550 million in arms shipments, a 9% increase over actual spending in 2007. This is part of a $30,000 million total over ten years. Israel will spend 25% of this money on its own arms manufacturers. The remaining 75% will go mainly to USA companies including Motorola, Caterpillar (who provide bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian houses), Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics. The USA Congress voted 404-1 to support Israel and condemn Palestinian rocket attacks on civilians.
KryssTal Opinion: The 120 or so dead Palestinian civilians apparently do not count for USA rulers.
A report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur John Dugard (Israeli Occupation Causes Terror) states that Palestinian terrorism is the "inevitable consequence of Israeli occupation. While Palestinian terrorist acts are deplorable, they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation."
Although Israel insists that it has withdrawn from Gaza, the report states that "it is clear that Israel remains the occupying Power as technological developments have made it possible for Israel to assert control over the people of Gaza without a permanent military presence." The report and its implications are unmentioned by mainstream media outlets in the USA and UK.
The human rights group the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) publishes evidence of Israel security forces using psychological torture by bringing in detainees' families during questioning of suspects.
Gheith Nasr, an 18 year old student, was arrested and kept in the police station for several days. His mother was brought in handcuffed and paraded in front of him:
"When I saw my mother being brought into the cell with handcuffs, I tell you, I would have told them anything just to save her, anything."
The website of the UK based BBC marks the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel with a story detrimental to the Palestinian people by its subtle use of quotation marks:
Abbas marks Israel "catastrophe". Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas recalls his people's "suffering", as they mark Israel's creation 60 years ago.
KryssTal Opinion: We would rightly condemn a story that ran: 'Israel commemorates Jewish "suffering" under the Nazis.' The use of quotation marks questions whether the word in question is true and is a form of propaganda. An Israeli missile fired into a house in the Gaza village of Beit Hanoun kills an entire family including four children. The report appeared on the BBC web site which completed its article: "The militant group Hamas has run the Gaza Strip since June 2007, when its fighters drove out the forces of Mr Abbas's Fatah movement.". The BBC failed to mention that Hamas had won democratic elections, the results of which Israel, the USA and Europe had opposed.
More than 400 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip in the first five months of 2008, many of them civilians.
The siege of Gaza by Israel (and supported by the USA and Europe) which has restricted access to food, water and medicine begins to affect unborn children and newborn babies. According to Dr Salah al-Rantisi, head of the Women's Health Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Health:
"Many babies are born suffering from anaemia that they have inherited from their mothers. Premature babies born dangerously underweight is a daily and increasing phenomenon in Gaza's hospitals. There are many cases of pregnant women who need medicines that are not available in Gaza."
Between 2007 and 2008, 146 people in Gaza died directly as a result of the Israeli siege and border closures. This is apart from the 564 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the same period (92 were children).
One such victim was teacher, Wafer Shaker, killed by an Israeli explosive that blasted her door as she was about to open it to Israeli soldiers. Her children (aged 2 to 13) were then confined to the premises for five hours while the headless body lay nearby.
In May, former USA President, Jimmy Carter, visits Gaza stating that the Israel blockade is "one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth". He describes the siege as the "imprisonment of 1.6 million people, 1 million of whom are refugees". He continued: "Most families in Gaza are eating only one meal per day. To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing".
The South African anti-Apartheid campaigner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also visits Gaza as part of a United Nations fact finding mission and calls the siege and "abomination" criticising the international community for its "silence and complicity".
Both men are accused of being anti-Semitic by the Western media who fail to ask the question why the European Union special envoy, former UK Prime Minsister, Tony Blair, failed to visit Gaza in his first year in Israel.
Most media describe the siege as being imposed after the ruling party, Hamas, "siezed power" in Gaza failing to mention that they won democratic elections requested by the USA and then ignored as the "wrong" party had won.
In Israel the Association of Civil Rights (ACRI) accuses the Iraeli government of using checkpoints in the occupied West Bank to prevent Palestinians from reaching Dead Sea resorts being run by Israeli settlers. Vehicles turned back include school buses. The ban on Palestinians was revealed when two Israeli reserve soldiers working at the Beit Ha'arava checkpoint were informed that the checkpoint was to "prevent Palestinians coming from the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea beaches".
The Israeli siege prevents sewage works from being maintained. After heavy rains, one stagnant pool overflowed killing a 9 month old baby and a grandmother.
Leaked documents and memos from the USA indicate that the USA attempted to engineer a coup against Hamas, who won elections in Palestine in 2006. Measures included sending $80 million of arms to Fatah, the party that lost the elections. Memos encouraged the Palestinian Presedent, Mahmoud Abbas to drive out Hamas.
A report by the Red Cross is leaked to the UK newspaper, The Independent. The report states that the blockade of Gaza is causing a humanitarian catastrophe including chronic malnutrition to over a million people.
"The Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in the strip."
The report notes that the dramatic fall in living standards has triggered a shift in diet that will damage the long-term health of those living in Gaza and has led to alarming deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D. 70% of the population is being affected.
Figures of Palestinian deaths between September 2000 and February 2008.
|Extra-Judicial Killings by Israel||705|
|Total Palestinian Deaths||4419|
|Medical Personnel Killed||25|
|Total Palestinian Injuries in Gaza||11,700|
|Total Palestinian Injuries in the West Bank||13,550|
The USA votes against all United Nations General Assembly resolutions concerning the Palestinians, their refugee status, the status of the occupied territories, property and Israeli practices.
The USA uses helicopters to bomb Abu Kamal, a border region of Syria. The attack kills eight people including four children.
Images from the areas attacked showed dead and injured Palestinians, burning and destroyed buildings, and scenes of panic and chaos on the crowded streets. The attacks occurred while children were on their way to school and at least seven children from a United Nations run school were killed. Many police stations in residential areas were attacked, one during a passing out ceremony. The victims included Tawfiq Jabber, the chief of police in Gaza. Several mosques, a factory and the headquarters of a television station (al-Aqsa) were also destroyed.
Israel justified its arracks by blaming the firing of home made Palestinian rockets into Israel. Only four Israelis had been killed by these rockets during 2008, and that after the bombing of Gaza began. The Hamas government had offered a continuation of the cease file if Israel ended its 18 month blockade of Gaza. Israel refused and sent missiles into Gaza. The Palestinian rocket attacks escalated after this. The media of the USA and UK fail to explain this, instead allowing Israeli politicians to justify the attack with the rocket excuse without questions.
A USA spokesman said the USA "urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza". Hamas are the elected government in Gaza which is under an Israeli siege that is supported by the USA and European Union. Another USA spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, blamed the victims for "provoking" Israel. The UK government called for "maximum restraint to avoid further civilian casualties" while also blaming Hamas.
The South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, stated that the bombardment of Gaza by Israel bears all the hallmarks of war crimes. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela rejected the Israeli attacks as defensive and said the USA was complicit in this "naked agression". Neither of these two views are broadcast by USA or UK television.
A contributer called Muntasir to an Al-Jazeera blog from Bangladesh summed up the majority view from around the world:
"Ok. So let me get this right. After months of ceasefire, during which Israel put up blockades to stop almost all essential goods from getting in, militants start firing rockets to vent their anger. The shelling does not kill a single Israeli. Now Israel is fed up so it decides to bomb any building in Gaza it deems as a 'Hamas institution' - be it Civilian or otherwise - and kill a hefty 250 people while injuring 600. Now the US says Hamas is responsible for the deaths. That makes perfect sense.
John Ging, of the United Nations Agency for Refugees noted that there had been a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel during which Palestinians of Gaza had been deprived of food and medicine by the Israeli blockade: "There was five months of a ceasefire in the last couple of months, where the people of Gaza did not benefit; they did not have any restoration of a dignified existence. We in fact at the UN, our supplies were also restricted during the period of the ceasefire, to the point where we were left in a very vulnerable and precarious position and with a few days of closure we ran out of food."
On the second day of the attacks, Israel bombs the University of Gaza. Thousands of people demonstrate against Israel and the USA in Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq although the mainly pro-West Arab governments stay silent.
Five sisters from the Ballousha family are killed when a mosque collapses on their house after being bombed. Their ages are between 4 and 18.
Israel fires two missiles into the refugee camp at Rafah. One hits the al-Absi family home, killing three brothers - Sedqi, 3, Ahmad, 12, and Muhammad, 13, and wounding two sisters and the children's mother.
Mohamad al-Sharif, a government worker in Gaza City, made a telling point on the BBC website: "Some people in the media have been depicting us as the aggressors but in three days we have had over 300 casualties; the Israelis have one or two.
Mahmoud Abbas, the USA backed President of the West Bank of Palestine, makes a statement blaming Hamas for the attacks.
KryssTal Opinion: Since Hamas was elected by all the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Abbas is blaming his own people for the Israeli attacks.
After a week of bombing with USA-made F-16 jets and Apache helicopters, over 400 Palestinians are killed in Gaza, a territory that has been under siege by Israel for 18 months even while a cease-fire has been in place. Israel justifies its attacks by blaming the firing of rockets into its cities - these killed four Israelis in 2008.
Over 1,700 people are injured in the first week. This overwhelms Gaza's depleted hospitals which lack basic medical items after being under siege. Many countries around the world call for a cease fire and accuse Israel of "disproportionate action" except the USA which continues to blame the elected government of the victims (Hamas) while arming and aiding Israel.
Israel fires a missile into the Ibrahim al-Maqadna Mosque in Beit Lahiya while 200 people are at prayer inside. More than 13 people are killed including children.
In early January, a naval vessel from Israel rams a ship carrying aid from Cyprus to Gaza - the attack happens in international waters. Shots are also fired at the crew. The 20m (66ft) ship (called Dignity) was carrying 15 civilian passengers, which included doctors, journalists, a former USA congresswoman and a member of the Cypriot parliament.
After docking in the Lebanese port of Tyre, the ship's captain, Denis Healey, stated that several Israeli military vessels had attacked "without any warning, any provocation, or anything". UK doctor, David Halpin, heard explosions and thought he was going to die.
The organisation, Free Gaza, that had chartered the ship, described the incident as "an act of terrorism", as well as a violation of international maritime law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The USA and UK, which are always quick to condemn "Palestinian violence", say nothing.
After 800 strikes, Israeli tanks, supported by helicopters, invade Gaza, a densely populated region of 1.5 million people. While the USA government continues to blame the Palestinians for the violence (even as their country was being invaded), demonstrations occurred in London, Paris, Brussels, The Hague, Amsterdam, Ankara and Cyprus. In London shoes were thrown at the UK Prime Ministers residence echoing an Arab custom where the thowing of shoes is a sign of anger.
Israel, backed by the USA, ignores all protests. All foreign journalists are banned from entering Gaza by Israel. The following figures are before the beginning of the land invasion.
|Palestinians killed since the beginning of the Israeli attacks||424|
|Palestinians wounded since the beginning of the Israeli attacks||over 2000|
|Israelis killed by the rockets used by Israel as a pretext||4|
|Tonnage of Israeli bombs dropped per day on residential areas||100|
The house of Hamas leader, Nizar Rayyan, is bombed killing him and 16 members of his family:
After ten days the Palestinian death toll stands at over 550 against 4 Israeli civilians and one Israeli soldier. Over 2,500 Palestinians have been injured and 32 Israelis.
During the invasion, these are some of the targets attacked in Gaza:
A doctor from the clinic in Khan Yunis described conditions in a Gaza hospital to journalist, Ramzy Baroud:
"Scores of the wounded are clinically dead. Others are so badly disfigured; I felt that death is of greater mercy for them than living. We had no more room at the Qarara Clinic. Body parts cluttered the hallways. People screamed in endless agony and we had not enough medicine or pain killers. So we had to choose which ones to treat and which not to. In that moment I genuinely wished I was killed in the Israeli strikes myself, but I kept running trying to do something, anything."
Destruction in Rafah Refugee Camp
Dead policemen after a passing out parade is bombed
Fares Akram, journalist for UK newspaper, The Independent, writes how his father, Akrem al-Ghoul, is killed in Gaza when an F-16 jet dropped a bomb on his red-roofed farmhouse. The building was reduced to rubble and the victim's body was just a pile of flesh. Mahmoud, a teenage relative, was also killed after being thrown 300m by the blast.
In Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Dr Mads Gilbert, a doctor from Norway, painted this picture of conditions during the invasion: "We are doing surgery around the clock. The hospital is completely overcrowded and we're seeing injuries that you don't want to see in this world. A child just came in and we had to amputate both arms and legs. It's like hell here now".
Fikr Shalltoot, coordinator for the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians reported, "There were 2,050 hospital beds in Gaza before the air strikes and the number of injured already exceeds that. The injured coming in have been hit by F-16 bombs or missiles, not bullets, so you can imagine the injuries they have... There are not enough stretchers. The hospitals are short of sheets, blankets, and surgical gowns. There is no gauze, so they are using cotton, which sticks to wounds. They can't sterilise clothes for the operating theatre".
Canadian writer, Justin Podur, compares the two sides in the conflict: "Israel's active military is estimated to be some 170,000. With universal conscription, it has some 2.4 million people between 17-49 years old fit for military service and everyone has had some training. Its military budget is 9% of its substantial GDP, totaling some $18.7 billion. It receives about $3 billion per year from the USA. It has about 1000 main battle tanks, 1500 lower quality tanks, over 1000 artillery pieces, over 500 warplanes, about 200 helicopters, 13 warships, and 3 submarines. It has the latest unmanned aerial vehicles and can gather very precise intelligence using aerial photography and satellites.
Hamas is mainly a political organization, but it has an armed wing that has the capacity to improvise rockets and explosives and to train fighters with small arms."
Note: HAMAS is an acronym of Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (Islamic Resistance Movement)
Israeli tanks shell the al-Fakhoura school (run by a United Nations agency) in the town of Jabaliya where families are taking refuge. The organisation had given Israel the school's co-ordinates. 43 people are killed and over 100 injured. Israel accuses the school of hiding Palestinian fighters. The United Nations denies this and called for an independent enquiry.
Dr Bassam Abu Warda of the Kamal Adwan Hospital reported on the scene after the strike: "It was terrible, really terrible. We are living at a very difficult time but even as doctors it is always hard to see children being hurt and had a lot of them today and we are not really equipped to deal with this type of emergency here".
Majid Hamdan, a photographer, was at the scen shortly after the attack: "I saw women and men - parents - slapping their faces in grief, screaming, some of them collapsed to the floor. They knew their children were dead."
Images shown on Middle Eastern televeision but not on UK or USA screens showed medics unloading bodies from an ambulance - they had been stacked three high - many with limbs missing. there were no stretchers.
Randa Seniora, of the Independent Commission on Human Rights, reported that "What is happening in Gaza are crimes against humanity. "Israel cannot claim, as an occupying authority, that it is acting in self defence because simply it is considered a war crime to create harm and damage among civilian populations."
John Ging of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was scathing of Israel's attack the the Western world's lack of action to stop it: "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge. There's nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorised and traumatised. I am appealing to political leaders to get their act together and stop this".
Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich on Al-Jazeera: "Let me be clear - I am not apologizing."
United Nations school in Jabaliya bombed by Israel
Bodies lie buried in the rubble of Gaza
After 12 days over 700 Palestinans had been killed (including 219 children) and over 3,085 injured. In the same period, 8 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians had died.
As many as 30 members of the extended Samouni family were killed near their homes in the town of al-Zeitoun while nine more died in hospital. Dozens of bodies remained under the rubble of a large house hit repeatedly by Israeli shelling.
Israeli sodiers arrested three teenage members of the family and ordered about 100 memmbers of the family into the house which was shelled the following morning. Survivors' stories:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were denied permission by Israel to visit the site. Ambulances couldn't reach the scene due to the Israeli habit of shelling them - more than seven paramedics were killed in the first 11 days of the attack. When they finally arrived they found several wounded Palestinians and four weakened children among 12 dead bodies. The children had not eaten since the attack and had difficulty in standing up. "The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded."
Katarina Ritz, the ICRC's head of mission in Jerusalem, said experienced Palestinian emergency workers wept at the scenes they were confronted with. She added Israeli troops were within about 100m of the houses in question, and that the ICRC believes the soldiers "must have been aware" of the presence of the wounded people, because of repeated requests from aid agencies for access. Under international law, she said, even if there are security concerns meaning the injured cannot be evacuated, "the minimum is to treat these people, to feed these people, give them water, and keep them in a safe place".
B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group reported the story of Meysa Fawzi al Samouni, 19. Soldiers had forced her and many others into the warehouse-like building before the attack. "As far as I know, the dead and wounded who were under the ruins are still there". Another survivor, Ibrahim Samouni (13), who was wounded in the leg and chest, told Reuters that he kept his three younger brothers alive and tried to help the injured adults lying among the dead after his mother was killed in the attack: "There was no water, no bread, nothing to eat".
A United Nations relief convoy agreed with Israel is attacked near the Erez crossing by Israeli forces killing one worker at the scene and another who dies later.
John Ging, the head of the United Nations relief agency in Gaza, said that the casualties "... were co-ordinating their movements with the Israelis, as they always do, only to find themselves being fired at from the ground troops."
Azmi Bishara, a former member of the Israeli parliament, criticised the Israeli attacks on Gaza as well as its media campaign that "criminalises the victims and victimises the coloniser". He continued "Usually people are pushed to collective punishment because they want to punish resistance movements or national liberation movements. That's usually what colonial powers did, and that's what Israel is doing. Everybody knows that 75 per cent of the people of Gaza are refugees. Everybody knows that Israel disengaged from Gaza militarily, but occupies it economically and politically and also it besieges Gaza militarily. Israel would say, 'what would any normal country do if they were threatened by rocket fire? They would act'. But Israel is not a normal country, it is an occupying country, a colonial country and the people of Gaza are under siege."
Qunfus, a blogger from Syria writes about the innaction of the West: "In other circumstances it might seem strange that a population on the Mediterranean coast is being besieged and starved without a murmur from the rest of the world. But this is Gaza, Palestine, and the victims suffer alone. Reports say Mubarak had given his assent to a 'limited blow' before today's blood; he's been keeping the Egyptian border with Gaza sealed, keeping the ugly oppressed in their cage very effectively since they briefly broke out last January. Tony Blair - who should be in prison but is instead poncing about in Ramallah and Jerusalem - has been winking to Israeli journalists about necessary change in Gaza. No response to today's crime is likely in Lebanon, or Jordan, or Egypt. The peoples of Europe and America are, by and large, silent.
By the 15th day over 854 Palestinian had been killed (including 10 paramedics), compared to 14 Israelis. Over 3,500 Palestinians were injured.
In the USA, media coverage reflects the USA government's relationship with Israel. Israel's version of events is given greater prominance and more time while the Palestinian viewpoint is underplayed. The Palestinian death toll is usually not mentioned implying that the conflict is between two equallly armed and equally suffering sides. The siege of Gaza and the 42 year military occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel is never mentioned.
Journalist Habib Battah gives two examples from USA television stations. The first from NBC (30 December 2008). The newsreader, Martin Fletcher, began the report "In Gaza two little girls were taking out the rubbish and killed by an Israeli rocket - while in Israel, a woman had been driving home and was killed by a Hamas rocket. No let up today on either side on the fourth day of this battle". No mention was made that 100 times as many Palestinians had been killed as Israelis.
The second (ABC News, 31 December 2008) was broadcast by Simon McGergor-Wood when 400 Palestinians had already died. The journalist began a video piece by describing damage to an Israeli school (with no injuries) by Hamas rockets. According to Habib Battah "For the ABC correspondent, it seemed the Palestinian deaths contained less news value than damage to Israeli buildings. His narration of events, meanwhile, amounted to no less than a parroting of the official Israeli line. In fact, the Israeli government view typically went unchallenged on major US networks".
Talk show and news debate in the USA never discussed if Israel's attack was justified but blamed the Palestinains and agonised over what Israel should do next. The Palestinian human tragedy received little or no attention. USA broadcasters in the region filed their stories from Israeli cities. The video news coverage of the invasion and attacks on Gaza was shown as brief shots of explosions from a distance, Israeli tanks moving on paved roads and perhaps a quick view of a victim. Palestinian victims were rarely interviewed.
Middle Eastern and Arab broadcasters filed their reports from inside Gaza. Their reports capture the air assault in frightening detail from the viewpoint of the victims. The images they capture are often broadcast unedited.
Habib Battah describes a news cycle that "... begins with rooftop-mounted cameras, capturing the air raids live. After moments of quiet, thunderous bombing commences and plumes of smoke rise over the skyline. Then, anguish on the streets. Panicked civilians run for cover as ambulances careen through narrow alleys. Rescue workers hurriedly pick through the rubble, often pulling out mangled bodies. Fathers with tears of rage hold dead children up to the cameras, vowing revenge. The wounded are carried out in stretchers, gushing with blood. Later, local journalists visit the hospitals and more gruesome images, more dead children are broadcast. Doctors wrap up the tiny bodies and carry them into overflowing morgues. The survivors speak to reporters. Their distraught voices are heard around the region; the outflow of misery and destruction is constant."
The difference in coverage is astounding and goes a long way to explaining the differing attitudes to the conflict.
Eight members of a single family are killed by an Israeli tank shell in Jabalya.
Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch tells the Arabic television station Al-Jazeera that the Israeli military is using white phosphorous in civilian areas: "We went by Israeli artillery units that had white phosphorus rounds with the fuses in them. Clearly it is [white phosphorus], we can tell by the explosions and the tendrils that go down [and] the fires that were burning. Today there were massive attacks in Jabalya when we were there. We saw that there were numerous fires once the white phosphorus had gone in".
Neil Gibson, a missiles expert, told the UK newpaper The Times that the shells were an "improved model" made by the USA that burned for up to 10 minutes.
Doctors in Gaza City report that people have been admitted suffering burns consistent with the use of the controversial chemical white phosphorus. This can burn away human flesh to the bone. The doctors reported that it has been used by Israeli forces over Gaza City and Jabaliya. Residents reported a white substance being used that produces suffocating fumes and starts many fires.
White phosphorus can be used under international law but only to cover military movements. "The problem is it covers such a wide area that when the white phosphorus wafers come down, over 100 in each artillery shell, they burn everything they touch and they don't stop burning until they are done. You are talking about skin damage, potentially homes going on fire, damage to infrastructure."
According to Al-Jazeera "Israel used white phophorus during its 34-day war against Lebanon's Hezbollah movement in 2006, while the [USA] used it during the controversial siege of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004."
Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor working at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, reported: "We have been to many war zones, but the special thing is that the 1.5 million Gaza population are completely locked in. The civilian population has no way to hide. The population density is so high you can not do attacks like this without knowing that you are attacking the civilians. Also, the injuries must come from extremely explosive devices. We suspect that Israel is using a new type of high explosive called Dime [dense inert metal explosive]. We urge the world, stop the bombing of Gaza. Please stop it."
Demonstrations against the invasion of Gaza occur around the world:
In Malaysia and Italy, calls were made for boycotts of USA and Israeli goods.
After 15 days 21 Palestinian medics had been killed by Israeli fire and many more wounded. The Al Durra Hospital in Gaza City was hit. Three mobile clinics run by a Danish charity, DanChurchAid, were destroyed.
Israeli commanders were reported in the Israeli media to be unsurprised by the heavy toll on civilians of their latest actions, saying their priority was to protect soldiers. "For us, being cautious means being aggressive," one told the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz. "From the minute we entered, we've acted like we're at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground."
The newspaper said the government had taken into account the likely high number of Palestinian civilian casualties when it approved the ground operation. Another soldier, identified as Lt Col Amir, told Israeli television: "We are very violent. We are not shying away from any method of preventing casualties among our troops."
Human rights organisation, Amnesty International accused Israeli soldiers of using Palestinian civilians as human shields - something that Israel frequently accuses Hamas of doing. Their spokesman, Malcolm Smart said: "Israeli soldiers have entered and taken up positions in a number of Palestinian homes, forcing families to stay in a ground-floor room while they use the rest of their house as a military base and sniper position."
Dr. Nicolas Doussis-Rassias is a member of a group of volunteer doctors based in Athens (Greece) called Doctors of Peace. These doctors pay their own way to help people who have been injured in war or natural disasters. They have helped victims in Latin America (Hurricane Mitch), Sri Lanka (tsunami) and in wars in Lebanon, Serbia, Turkey, and Pakistan. The group of doctors were stuck at the Egypt-Gaza border, prevented from entering Gaza to treat the wounded. Egypt, under pressure from Israel and the USA kept its border with Gaza closed during the Israeli invasion, even to humanitarian aid.
The United Nations Special Reporter on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, has pointed out the human rights violations of the closed border: "Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza's besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims." For more information, read Richard Falk's UN Report
A report by journalist, Ayman Mohyeldin, of Al Jazeera described tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes after being warned by leaflets dropped by Israel to leave. "A large part of Rafah has been completely reduced to rubble... it has been described as hell on earth by some of the witnesses we have met". Much of Rafah is a refugee camp, consisting of people and their descendents who fled was in now Israel in 1948 - a fact never mentioned by most media.
By the 18th day, 984 Palestinians had been killed over 4,530 wounded, half of them women and children. More 80,000 people are displaced from their homes but cannot leave the territory as all borders and crossing points remain closed. United Nations schools take in 35,000 people. Ten soldiers and three civilians died on the Israeli side since the land invasion.
According to Christer Zettergren, of the Swedish Red Cross, seven ambulances operated by the Red Crescent were damaged in one week in Gaza.
UK journalist and author, Robert Fisk, asked "Why are they dispossessed? Why are settlements - colonies for Jews, and Jews only - being built on Arab land, illegally? And still it continues. Unless we deal with this, there will not be an end to this war. There might be a ceasefire in Gaza, a ceasefire in the West Bank, but there will not be an end to the war. That is the problem". Fisk added that Israel would continue flouting the United Nations and international law as long as the USA continues to back it.
Although the powerful countries of North America and Europe and the puppet states of the Middle East remain quiet during Israel's invasion (often against the wishes of their populations), a few countries begin to take action:
These events remain unreported in the Western media.
Evidence begins to appear that Israel is using newly devloped and unregulated weapons on Gaza in order to test them. David Halpin, a retired UK surgeon and trauma specialist talks about a high blast weapon called DIME: "I fear the thinking in Israel is that it is in its interests to create as much mutilation as possible to terrorise the civilian population in the hope they will turn against Hamas". Mads Gilbert, a specialist in emergency medicine from Norway reported that many of the injuries seen at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City are consistent with the use of DIME.
Wounds from the weapon are said to be distinctive. Those exposed to the blast have severed or melted limbs, or internal ruptures, especially to soft tissue such as the abdomen, that often lead to death. Minute metal particles produced by the blast - and visible on damaged organs during autopsies - lead to survivors of a DIME blast having an increased risk of developing cancer, according to research carried out in the USA.
A media centre in Gaza City housing journalists is bombed by Israeli forces. On the same day, a United Nations compound is bombed with white phosphorous - all its stock of food and medicine is burnt. Hundreds of civilians were sheltering there at the time. A Red Crescent office in Gaza and the main mosque in Rafah were shelled. Three hospitals are also shelled, again with white phosphorous. John Ging, of the United Nations, complained "They are phosphorus fires so they are extremely difficult to put out because, if you put water on, it will just generate toxic fumes and do nothing to stop the burning".
A number of Israeli human rights groups in Israel accuse the country of "blatant violations of the laws of warfare". Fifteen medical facities were attacked and 12 medical personnel are killed. Half a million people in Gaza are without fresh water, 250,000 are without electricity.
Mads Gilbert, who works at the al-Shifa Hospital, told the USA based CBS News: "I've seen one military person among the hundreds that we have seen and treated. So anyone who tries to portray this as sort of a clean war against another army are lying. This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza and we can prove that with the numbers".
The USA abstains from a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a cease fire. The resolution had been drafted by the USA Secretary of State, Codoliza Rice. After a phone call to the USA president, Geroge W Bush, from the Israeli Prime Minister, just before the vote was taken, Rice was ordered to abstain. The resolution was passed 14 to 0. Israel ignored it.
After 22 days:
|Palestinian civilians killed||670|
|Palestinian children killed||225|
|Palestinians wounded||over 5,200|
|Israelis killed by the rockets used by Israeli as a pretext||3|
|Israelis killed by "friendly fire"||4|
|Israeli soldiers killed||10|
|Number of Israeli air strikes||2,360|
|Palestinians killed between 2005 and 2007 by Israeli forces||1290|
|Israelis killed by rockets fired from Gaza (2005 - 2008)||11|
Two boys aged 5 and 7 are killed when Israel shells a United Nations compound sheltering 1,600 people. Christopher Guiness, a worker at the school: "The Israeli army knew exactly our GPS co-ordinates and they would have known that hundreds of people had taken shelter there. When you have a direct hit into the third floor of a UN school, there has to be an investigation to see if a war crime has been committed."
This was the third United Nations school attacked by Israel.
In Jabaliya (one of Gaza's refugee camps, Dr Ezzedine Abu al-Aish, a doctor working at al-Shifa Hospital, lost his three daughters and one niece during an Israeli air attack as he was being interviewed on an Israeli television channel.
The USA vetos a United Nations General Assembly Resolution which is passed 142 to 4 (with 8 abstentions).
"The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash." Israeli historian, Avi Shlaim, professor of international relations at the University of Oxford, UK
"I believed and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land." Ehud Olmert, Israeli Prime Minister, 2006.
"Half the population has no water. On January 11, Gaza's Water Authority said it's near totally disabled and no longer can provide any. Israel attacked a major water pipe in central Gaza. Salty water from wells is all that's available. Raw sewage is running through streets. Officials warn of a "massive sewage flood throughout the Strip. One million Gazans have no electricity. Hospitals can't function. Their supplies are near-exhausted. Hundreds more will die as a result." Stephen Lendman, Centre for Research on GlobalizationIn June a report is released by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The report describes Palestinians living in Gaza as "trapped in despair". Thousands of Gazans remain without shelter despite pledges of billions of dollars in aid, because Israel continues to refuse to allow building materials into the Gaza Strip. The report also notes that hospitals are struggling to meet the needs of their patients due to Israel's disruption of medical supplies.
Israeli forces attacked and boarded a human rights vessel (The Spirit of Humanity) in international waters. 21 human rights workers from 11 countries were arrested. These included a former USA Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney who stated:
"This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters, and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip. [USA] President Obama just told Israel to let in humanitarian and reconstruction supplies, and that's exactly what we tried to do. We're asking the international community to demand our release so we can resume our journey."
Another of the arrested passengers was Mairead Maguire, winner of a Noble Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland. She stated:
"The aid we were carrying is a symbol of hope for the people of Gaza, hope that the sea route would open for them, and they would be able to transport their own materials to begin to reconstruct the schools, hospitals and thousands of homes destroyed during the onslaught of 'Cast Lead'. Our mission is a gesture to the people of Gaza that we stand by them and that they are not alone".
In September the United Nations publishes a report which states that Israel "punished and terrorised" civilians in Gaza. According to a summary in Al-Jazeera: "Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the inquiry, said he found evidence Israel targeted civilians and used excessive force in the assault."
The author of the report, Judge Richard Goldstone, reported:
"The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defence Force. The shooting of civilians holding white flags ... the deliberate and unjustifiable targeting of UN shelters ... and the killing of over 300 children whilst the Israeli Army had at their disposal the most precise weaponry in the world".
Al-Jazeera: "The report said there were 'numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians' and civilian objects in Gaza by Israel. Its firing of white phosphorous shells and the use of high explosive artillery shells were listed as 'violations of humanitarian law'."
The report remains unreported in the Western media.
Gaza Question and Answer from ZNet Magazine.
Analysis of the Gaza attack of 2009 by Noam Chomsky
In 2001, the USA and a few of its allies invaded and bombed Afghanistan. This conflict is now spilling over into Pakistan which is becoming increasingly unstable. Many of the events and situation below remain under reported in the Western media.
In April two attacks by USA pilot-less drones in Waziristan within four days of each other kill over 25 people. In Europe the USA president, Barak Obama, puts pressure on European countries to send more troops to the region. The second strike destroyed a house owned by a school teacher in the village of Miranshah. Many people in the region hold the Pakistan government responsible as it fails to act against frequent USA incursions from Afghanistan. In Europe thousands of people demonstrate against the war in the region.
Between August 2008 and April 2009 35 USA drone strikes have killed more than 340 people in Pakistan.
KryssTal Opinion: The media in the West has been mostly quiet about this - it is not difficult to imagine the demonisation of Pakistan and its people if Pakistani bombs had killed 340 USA people.
In May, USA military advisor, David Kilcullen, admitted:
"Since 2006, we've killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we've killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they've given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism.... The current path that we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over its own population."
200,000 people are internal refugees in Pakistan at this time.
"For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities."
The story is unmentioned by media in the UK or USA.
A report, written by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, Philip Alston, is published by the United Nations Human Rights Council. It says the use of drones to target militants "violate straightforward legal rules".
"The refusal by States who conduct targeted killings to provide transparency about their policy violates the international framework that limits the unlawful use of legal force against individuals. A lack of disclosure gives States a virtual and impermissible licence to kill."
The report is a blow to the USA government which has made many drone attacks in Pakistan. In the first half of 2010, more than 134 such attacks have taken place, a huge increase which has been sanctioned by USA President Barack Obama.
The USA argues the drone strikes are legal because they are taking place with the full backing of the Pakistan government. Pakistani leaders condemn the drone strikes in public, but have allowed the USA to carry on regardless. The USA also says it is entitled to carry out such strikes under laws of self defence and the laws of war.
KryssTal Opinion: While Israel "defends" itself in international waters, the USA "defends" itself in Pakistan.
In September the USA uses unmanned drones 22 times killing around a hundred people. USA helicopters cross into Pakistan from Afghanistan killing several people including three Pakistani soldiers.
In June another unmanned drone strike in Wana kills 19 people.