Israeli Rights Groups Detail Allegations of Army Abuse in Gaza

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HADITH OF THE DAY: GOD BRINGS GRIEVING PARENTS TO PARADISE – TOP
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “No pair of Muslims will lose three (of their children) by death without God bringing them into Paradise by His great mercy.” He was asked if that applied if they lost two children, and he said it did. He was also asked if it applied if they lost one child, and he said it did. Then the Prophet said: “By Him in Whose hand my soul (resides), (even) the (aborted fetus) draws his mother to Paradise by his umbilical cord when she seeks her reward for him from God.”
Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 552
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AUDIO: ISRAELI SOLDIERS SHOT PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS IN COLD BLOOD – TOP
Quil Lawrence, The World, PRI, 1/21/09
Two weeks ago Khaled Abed Drabo was trapped inside his house several days into the Israeli ground offensive. Artillery shells hammered his neighborhood east of the Jabaliya refugee camp. Three tanks parked outside his front door, and loudspeakers announced that civilians should leave the area.
Khaled says that’s when his wife, mother and three daughters stepped outside the front door waving white flags. They stood on the front steps for five minutes waiting for instructions from the Israeli soldiers only 10 yards away. But instead, Khaled says, a soldier appeared on one of the tank turrets, raised his rifle and began shooting. All three of the girls fell.
Khaled’s mother was shot in the upper left arm and abdomen. Recovering at her brother’s house, she tells the same story. “The soldier shot us slowly aiming at each one.” The women fled back into the house dragging the bleeding little girls. Suad, 7 years old, died immediately from bullets to her chest. 2-year-old Amal survied a few moments longer. “She was asking her mother for candy and chips. Then her mother asked her: ‘Do you love me?’ She said: ‘Yes.’ Then she died.” (MORE)
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ISRAEL ACCUSED OF EXECUTING PARENTS IN FRONT OF CHILDREN IN GAZA – TOP
Israel has refuted allegations of war atrocities in Gaza after Palestinian children described how their parents had been “executed” by Israeli troops.
Murray Wardrop, Telegraph, 1/21/09
One nine-year-old boy said his father had been shot dead in front of him despite surrendering to Israeli soldiers with his hands in the air.
Another youngster described witnessing the deaths of his mother, three brothers and uncle after the house they were in was shelled.
He said his mother and one of his siblings had been killed instantly, while the others bled to death over a period of days.
A psychiatrist treating children in the village of Zeitoun on the outskirts of Gaza City, where the alleged incidents took place, described the deaths as a “massacre”.
Rawya Borno, a Jordanian doctor, said civilians, including children, were rounded up and killed by Israeli troops. . .
A boy named Ahmed said he was trapped for days in the wreckage of the shelled Samouni family’s house.
He said: “My mother was dead beside me, she was clutching my brother Nasser and they were dead. My brother Itzaq was bleeding for two days and then he died. My brother Izmael bled to death in one day. My uncle Talal was bleeding for two hours and he died. God bless them.”
Dr Borno said: “It’s a massacre. They collected them from their houses. They knew that they were civilians. They were children.” (MORE)

PART II: PALESTINIAN US COLLEGE GRAD LOSES 2 BROTHERS IN ISRAELI SHOOTING; FATHER WATCHED SON BLEED TO DEATH AFTER ISRAELI TROOPS BLOCKED AMBULANCES – TOP
Democracy Now, 1/22/09
We return to the heart-wrenching tale of Amer Shurrab, who lost two of his brothers on the same day in an Israeli attack in Gaza. Amer is a Palestinian from Khan Yunis living in the United States. He recently graduated from Middlebury College. On Friday, his father and two brothers were fleeing their village when their vehicle came under Israeli fire. Twenty-eight-year-old Kassab died in a hail of bullets trying to flee the vehicle. Eighteen-year-old Ibrahim survived the initial attack, but Israeli troops refused to allow an ambulance to reach them until twenty hours later.

ISRAELI RIGHTS GROUPS DETAIL ALLEGATIONS OF ARMY ABUSE IN GAZA – TOP
Attacks on Medical Workers, Hospitals Charged; IDF Cites Acts To Shield Civilians, Blames Hamas
Nathan Jeffay, Forward, 1/15/09
On January 14, Israeli human rights groups issued a detailed report alleging serious human rights violations by Israel’s military in its three-week campaign in Gaza against Hamas. But Israel rejected the allegations and continued to notch up its effort to lay the blame on Hamas for the harm suffered by civilians during its military effort.
The coalition of nine human rights organizations, which included Physicians for Human Rights, the Israeli section of Amnesty International and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, charged that Israel’s conduct “constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.” (MORE)

FINAL TOLL OF GAZA WAR: 1,330 DEAD, 5,450 WOUNDED – TOP
Agence France Presse, 1/22/09
Israel’s war on Gaza killed 1,330 people, at least half of them civilians, and wounded 5,450 others, Palestinian medics said on Thursday in a final toll of the offensive.
Among the dead were 437 children under 16, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics and four journalists, according to Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza medical services. (MORE)

GIDEON LEVY: GAZA WAR ENDED IN UTTER FAILURE FOR ISRAEL – TOP
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 1/22/09
On the morrow of the return of the last Israeli soldier from Gaza, we can determine with certainty that they had all gone out there in vain. This war ended in utter failure for Israel.
This goes beyond the profound moral failure, which is a grave matter in itself, but pertains to its inability to reach its stated goals. In other words, the grief is not complemented by failure. We have gained nothing in this war save hundreds of graves, some of them very small, thousands of maimed people, much destruction and the besmirching of Israel’s image.
What seemed like a predestined loss to only a handful of people at the onset of the war will gradually emerge as such to many others, once the victorious trumpeting subsides. (MORE)
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WAR CRIMES CONVICTIONS AFTER GAZA? – TOP
Anita Rice, Al Jazeera English, 1/22/09
As the UN and human rights groups demand independent investigations into the conduct of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, the world’s attention is focusing on whether Israeli or Hamas officials could face prosecution for war crimes.
Al Jazeera spoke to experts in international law to find out how and if officials could be tried for breaching international armed conflict laws during Israel’s war on Gaza.
There is a world of difference between establishing that war crimes have been committed, and then holding those responsible to account, says Mark S Ellis, the executive director of the International Bar Association (IBA).
“Often, people view these as the same, but they are not under international law. There is a gap … regarding the issue of accountability,” Ellis said.
Even if independent inquiries do establish that gross violations of the laws of armed conflict have taken place during the war in Gaza, the mechanisms to ensure those responsible on either side are brought to justice “simply don’t exist”, he said.
Four options
There are four main options open to states, groups or individuals seeking to launch legal proceedings against suspects should investigators find war crimes have been committed during the 22-day assault on the Strip, Ellis says. (MORE)

GAZA DEVASTATION – TOP
CNN, 1/22/09
CNN’s Ben Wedeman reports on the devastation left in Gaza after three weeks of bombing.
Click here to watch the video.
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CAIR: LOCAL MUSLIMS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT OBAMA IMPROVING CULTURAL RELATIONS – TOP
Ross Farrow, Lodi News-Sentinel, 1/22/09
Members of the local Muslim community said they are delighted with Tuesday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama and his pledge to reach out to other cultures.
“This is a victory of humanity,” said Ahmed Hashimi, imam of the Lodi Muslim Mosque. “I think Obama has a very radiant personality. He can be a bridge between East and West.”
Mosque President Mohammed Shoaib said that Obama’s speech inspired everybody. He said Obama’s diplomatic approach will be better than the government’s style in the past eight years. . .
The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ New York chapter and other Muslim organizations sent a letter to Obama on Wednesday, asking him to adopt an even-handed policy to ensure sustainable peace in the Middle East.
“As American citizens, we are deeply concerned that our nation’s one-sided approach to the Middle East crisis compromises America’s ability to act as a fair negotiator,” read the letter. (MORE)
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FREED GITMO PRISONER SUES U.S. FOR UNLAWFUL DETENTION – TOP
Ed Henry and Barbara Starr, CNN, 1/22/09
Saad Muhammad Iqbal is a free man after serving more than six years at the U.S. military’s detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — without any charge.
Now, Iqbal is suing the U.S. government for unlawful detention.
“I am angry in my heart,” Iqbal said in a recent interview. “It’s easy for the U.S. government to say, ‘There are no charges found and he’s free.’
“But who will be responsible for seven years of my life?”
His attorney in Washington, D.C., is suing the U.S. government, on behalf of Iqbal, through the federal court system.
It is not the first lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a former Guantanamo detainee. But it comes as President Barack Obama takes office, promising to shut down the detention facility, possibly within a year.
That could lead to an increase in the number of lawsuits brought by former detainees who — like Iqbal — say they were held for no reason. (MORE)
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CT: SENSITIVITY TRAINING AT BRADLEY FOCUSES ON MUSLIMS, SIKHS – TOP
Shawn R. Beals, Hartford Courant, 1/22/09
Seeking to bridge barriers and avoid unnecessary alarm, federal security officials at Bradley International Airport hosted sensitivity training focused on Muslim and Sikh cultures Wednesday.
“By informing our officers of some of the cultural aspects of diversity, we can avoid being distracted unnecessarily by some of those differences,” said Peter Boynton, Bradley’s federal security director.
“The training helps us understand the differences so we can focus on what we’re really looking for, which is an indication of a risk. We’re not looking for turbans.”
The group of speakers, working under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice, held two sessions for security and law enforcement personnel and others to educate them on cultural practices they may encounter at the airport.
The federal Transportation Security Administration, state police and airlines were represented at the training session in the Sheraton Hotel at Bradley.
The importance of the training was underscored by an incident in a Washington, D.C., airport Jan. 1. Nine Muslims were taken off an airplane after passengers overheard a conversation that was misconstrued as a threat. The airline subsequently apologized.
TSA was not involved in that incident, but Boynton said the airline’s action reinforces the fact that risk assessment cannot be based on cultural differences.
Noting the worldwide population of approximately 1 billion Muslims, presenter Elizabeth Dann instructed the group Wednesday about Muslim customs and clothing. Dann, herself a Muslim, said she speaks to groups in the security and education fields to raise awareness of Muslim culture, trying to eliminate stereotypes and cultural conflicts.
She also said she tries to make TSA officers aware that Muslims going through security checkpoints are just as worried as other travelers about passing through quickly to catch their flights.
“We’re probably more scared of you than you are of us,” Dann told the officers. (MORE)
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CANADIANS DETAINED AT BORDER FOR 7 HOURS – TOP
Debra Black, Toronto Star, 1/21/09
A group of young black Canadians on their way to see Barack Obama sworn into office say they were detained for seven hours at the U.S. border on Monday because of religious and racial stereotyping as their passports were checked and rechecked.
They eventually made it to Washington yesterday to see the inauguration of the 44th president.
Tyrone Edwards, organizer of the three-bus trip to Washington for black youth involved in the Toronto-based Remix Project, a cultural non-profit group, said 168 people from local non-profit groups made the 800-kilometre trek.
The buses left Toronto on Monday morning but were stopped at the Peace Bridge just outside Buffalo at around 1 p.m.
Speaking to the Star by phone, Edwards, the 27-year-old head of Remix, said the first bus cleared customs, as did the second bus, where he was seated. But the third bus was boarded by U.S. customs officers who asked about 14 young girls, all wearing hijabs, for their passports. Because Edwards was the organizer of the trip, he kept the second bus waiting until the third cleared customs. Initially he thought it would just be a short delay. (MORE)

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