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email to Toronto Star re Gaza

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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: email to Toronto Star re Gaza Reply with quote

RE: Israeli air strike death toll near 200; IBRAHIM BARZAK (AP); Dec 27, 2008

This article depicts Israeli attacks on Gaza as retaliation for rockets fired at Israel from Gaza. Why would rockets be fired at Israel?The answer is readily available yet completely ignored. IRIN reported on December 19

"The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) was forced to suspend its emergency and regular food distribution services in the Gaza Strip without warning on 18 December, due to the continued closure of all commercial and passenger border crossings"

IRIN went on to note that

"Israel sealed commercial and passenger border crossings to Gaza on 4 November, when an Israeli military incursion into Gaza prompted Palestinian militants to resume daily rocket-fire into neighbouring Israeli towns. "[1]

On December 9, Richard Falk, a Jewish American professor, who is the UN Special Rapporteur in the Palestinian territories issued a statement that said (referring to Israel's blockade)

" urgent effort should be made at the United Nations to implement the agreed norm of a 'responsibility to protect' a civilian population being collectively punished by policies that amount to a Crime Against Humanity.",

Faulk's statement also pointed out

"It should be noted that the situation worsened in recent days due to the breakdown of a truce between Hamas and Israel that had been observed for several months by both sides. The truce was maintained by Hamas despite the failure of Israel to fulfill its obligation under the agreement to improve the living conditions of the people of Gaza. "

Whether or not the Toronto Star agrees with Richard Faulk, there is no excuse for ignoring his conclusions.

Joe Emersberger



Here is the full Toronto Star article

GAZA CITY–Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing nearly 200 people and wounding 270 others in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years.

The vast majority of those killed were security men, but civilians were also among the dead. Hamas said all of its security installations were hit and responded with several medium-range Grad rockets at Israel, reaching deeper than in the past. One Israeli was killed and at least four people were wounded in the rocket attacks. With so many wounded, the Palestinian death toll was likely to rise.

The air attack followed weeks of intense Palestinian rocket and mortar fire on southern Israel, and Israeli leaders had issued increasingly tough warnings in recent days that they would not tolerate continued attacks.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would expand the operation if necessary. "There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting," he told a news conference. He would not comment when asked if a ground offensive was planned.

But asked earlier if Hamas political leaders might be targeted next, military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said, "Any Hamas target is a target."

The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion in Gaza, as black clouds of smoke rose above the territory, ruled by Hamas for the past 18 months. Some of the Israeli missiles struck in densely populated areas as children were leaving school, and women rushed into the streets frantically looking for their children.

Said Masri sat in the middle of a Gaza City street, close to a security compound, alternately slapping his face and covering his head with dust from the bombed-out building.

"My son is gone, my son is gone," wailed Masri, 57. The shopkeeper said he sent his nine-year-old son out to purchase cigarettes minutes before the air strikes began and now could not find him. "May I burn like the cigarettes, may Israel burn," Masri moaned.

In Gaza City's main security compound, bodies of more than a dozen officers lay on the ground. One survivor uttered a prayer. The Gaza police chief was among those killed. One man, his face bloodied, sat dazed on the ground as a fire raged nearby.

Later, some of the dead, rolled in blankets, were laid out on the floor of Gaza's main hospital for identification. Hamas police spokesman Ehad Ghussein said about 140 Hamas security forces were killed.

Defiant Hamas leaders threatened revenge, including suicide attacks. Hamas "will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood," vowed spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Israel told its civilians near Gaza to take cover as militants began retaliating with rockets, and in the West Bank, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the air strikes. Egypt summoned the Israeli ambassador to express condemnation and opened its border with Gaza to allow ambulances to drive out some of the wounded.

Protests erupted in the West Bank and across the Arab world.

Several hundred angry Jordanians protested outside a United Nations complex in the capital Amman. "Hamas, go ahead. You are the cannon, we are the bullets," they cried, some waving the signature green Hamas banners.

In Beirut, dozens of youths hit the streets and set fire to tires. In Syria's al-Yarmouk camp, outside Damascus, dozens of Palestinians protested the attack as well, vowing to continue fighting Israel.

Israeli leaders approved military action against Gaza earlier in the week.

Past limited ground incursions and air strikes have not halted rocket barrages from Gaza.

But with 200 mortars and rockets raining down on Israel since the truce expired a week ago, and 3,000 since the beginning of the year, according to the military's count, pressure had been mounting in Israel for the military to crush the gunmen.

Earlier this month, Israeli security officials told the government that militants possess rockets with ranges capable of reaching farther from Gaza than ever before, including the cities of Beersheba and Ashdod.

Barak, the Israeli defence minister, said that the coming period ``won't be easy and won't be short for the communities in the south (of Israel).

Israel declared a state of emergency in communities within a 20-kilometre range of Gaza, putting the area on a war footing.

The first round of air strikes came just before noon, and several more waves followed.

Hospitals crowded with people, civilians rushing in wounded people in cars, vans and ambulances. "We are treating people on the floor, in the corridors. We have no more space. We don't know who is here and what the priority is to treat," said a doctor at Shifa Hospital, Gaza's main treatment centre.

Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, a Gaza Health Ministry official, said at least 192 people were killed and 270 wounded. Frantic civilians drove wounded people to hospitals in their cars.

In the West Bank, Hamas' rival, Abbas, said in a statement that he "condemns this aggression" and called for restraint, according to an aide, Nabil Abu Rdeneh.

Abbas was in contact with Arab leaders, and his cabinet convened an emergency session.

Last edited by joe emersberger on Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
Sat Dec 27, 2008 8:27 pm
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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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RE: Toronto Star Editorial: Israel justified, but at what cost?

This editorial claims that Israel could not "stand by while its civilians were targeted" by rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel was never just "standing by". It has been inflicting mass starvation on Gaza since 2006 through a murderous blockade that it intensified in violation of the ceasefire agreement with Hamas, The consequences of the blockade have been so devastating that Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur in the Palestinian territories, called them a "crime against humanity".

Israeli Government adviser Dov Weisglass explained that “the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet”,

Such open contempt for human life apparently escaped the notice of the Toronto Star. The editorial writer also seems to have forgotten that it is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who live under occupation. A population being starved to death by an occupying power has the right to defend itself.

Moreover the Israeli Peace group Gush Shalom recently pointed out that it was Israel that broke the truce with missile attacks on Gaza on November 4 which were followed up with other raids.[1].

Israel's expansionary aims require that the conflict be kept as violent as possible. That is why Israel funded Hamas during its early days to provide a counterweight to the PLO. That is why Israel has consistently blocked a two state settlement of the conflict.

According to B''tselem, am Israeli human rights group, 5000 Palestinas have been killed by Israeli security forces since the year 2000. That does not include those who have died as a result of Israel's economic strangulation of Gaza and the West Bank.. Only 18 Israelis have been killed over the same time by rocket fire from Gaza.

Only deep seated bigotry can explain how anyone familiar with the facts could say Israel''s actions are justified. I hope you are merely ignorant of the facts.



EDITORIAL | Opinion | Israel justified, but at what cost?

Israel justified, but at what cost?

First let it be said that it is understandable why Israeli forces are attacking Gaza: For weeks, Israel has endured an intensive barrage of rockets fired from that benighted strip of land. No other government could stand by while its civilians were targeted in this way and forced into bomb shelters.

It can be argued, of course, that the Israeli counterattack is disproportionate. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed in the past few days, while only two Israelis have died in the latest rocket attacks. But that just points to the difficulty of mounting an attack against a covert force using civilians as shields.

The bigger question is what the Israeli attack means for the prospects of peace in the Middle East. The answer is that it can't be helpful.

For Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza, and its Iranian sponsors, the more turmoil in the region the better. That's because their aim is to derail the peace talks and, ultimately, destroy Israel. The rockets and the resulting counterattack have already caused Syria to pull out of tentative talks with the Israelis and to call for a new intifada against Israel. And Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and ordinarily a bitter foe of Hamas, felt compelled to condemn the Israeli attacks.

Inside Israel, where an election campaign is under way, the Gaza conflict may buttress the hard-liners at the expense of parties that seek a peace pact with the Palestinians.

And graphic images of the civilian carnage in Gaza risk eroding support for Israel in the western world. For the moment, western governments have tended to cut Israel some slack in their reaction to the attacks on Gaza. On the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a statement holding Hamas responsible. Echoed Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon: "Israel has a clear right to defend itself." While calling on Israel to temper its response, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pronounced himself "deeply concerned" about the continuing rocket attacks from Gaza.

But western support for Israel may begin to waver if the air attacks morph into a ground invasion and the Israeli forces find themselves stuck in a quagmire of violence, as happened in Lebanon in 2006.

For incoming U.S. president Barack Obama, the reigniting of hostilities in the Middle East now joins the economic meltdown on the list of crises to deal with upon taking office on Jan. 20. Unfortunately for Obama and the world, there are no easy answers.

Last edited by joe emersberger on Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:11 pm
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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
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Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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RE: "Beware well-meaning hypocrisy" by Dow Marmur (Toronto Star)

Mr. Marmur ,

You wrote

" I don't know what else Israel should, or could, have done in order to protect its citizen from the shelling of towns and settlements in the south of the country."

1) Stop deliberately imposing mass starvation on Gaza - something Israel continued to do in violation of the ceasefire agreement with Hamas..
2) Stop breaking ceasefire agreemnts with military raids (as Israel did on November 4) and killing civilians then claiming it is all "self defence"
3) End the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and stop relentlessly moving in settlers (which also exposes the bogus nature of Israel's "self defence" claims)

By the way, rockets from Gaza have killed about 20 Israelis in eight years.

The real question is how do civilized people help prevent Israeli aggression. The answer is sanctions - as was the case with apartheid in South Africa.

Joe Emersberger
Sat Jan 03, 2009 6:37 am
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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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RE: Toronto Star; Martin Regg Cohn ; Gaza gets curiouser and curiouser; Jan 6, 2009

Mr. Cohn:

You mock Israel's crtics by suggesting that their advice is to "do nothing" about any threat to its security; that the people of Gaza deserve their fate for having voted in Hamas; and that the attention given to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is disproportionate to its importance.

First, the 9/11 bombings should have ended all debate among westerners about the importance of ending this conflict. If compassion doesn't do the trick then self interest definitely should.

Second, Israel has not been "doing nothing". In 2005-7 the IDF killed 1290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. Over the same period 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire from Gaza. Shortly after Israel removed 8000 settlers from Gaza it added another 12,000 to the West Bank which is a much higher priority in its expansionist plans. The economic strangulation of Gaza preceded the election of Hamas - and intensified afterwards. Eighty percent of Gazans live on less than $2 per day. Rather than "do nothing" some good advice for Israel would be to stop perpetrating terrorism, starving millions of people, and stealing land.

Lastly, are you ready to proclaim Israeli citizens fair game for voting in governments that have hardly made a secret of what they are doing in the occupied territories? What about those who voted in the Israeli governments that funded Hamas during its early day to counter the PLO?. If Palestinians blow up a restaurant will you blur the line between civilians and combatants by asking how many were off duty or discharged members of the IDF, or by asking what percentage of the victims would have supported the expulsions of all Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied Territories? If you aren't willing to do this when Israeli's are victimized (and I sincerely hope you don't) then you shouldn't do it when Palestinian civilians are murdered.

Joe Emersberger
Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:41 pm
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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

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RE: Toronto Star Editorial; "Harper AWOL on Gaza"

The Toronto Star should have used this editorial to report something that has come to light about the UN school in Gaza which was bombed by Israel. The Toronto Star's editorial board, as well as the Canadian government, immediately swallowed Israel's claim that armed militants were present in the school. Yesterday the UK Guardian, among a few other outlets, reported the following statement by Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNWRA

"...the Israeli army has admitted that the militant fire from Jabaliya did not come from within a UN compound but outside and therefore allegations that this fire came from inside our compound are completely baseless," [1]

The Israeli justification was preposterous even if it had been true, and would have provoked widespread ridicule had Palestinians blown up an Israeli school and attempted to justify it by the presence of Israeli soldiers..

The Star features an article today about a study that claims to have exposed tolerance of racism in Canada. The researchers should merely have noted the racist assumptions on display in the Star's editorial pages. For example,, the Star has yet to acknowledge that the people of Gaza have a right to self defence.

Joe Emersberger

[1]Israelis admit militants not in UN school ; Rory McCarthy ;The Guardian, Thursday 8 January 2009
Sat Jan 10, 2009 2:53 am
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