Volvo Machinery used to Demolish Palestinian Homes


Volvo Machinery used to Demolish Palestinian Homes

Volvo machinery was used to demolish houses of bedouin in the Palestinian village of Abu al Ajaj on Wednesday 24th November 2010. The same week a wave of demolitions occurred across the West Bank and Israel, including the demolition of the village of Al Araqib in the Naqab (Negev).

Abu al Ajaj is situated in the Al Jiftlik area of the Jordan Valley, in the Israeli occupied West Bank, next to the Israeli colony of Massua.

At 5am two Volvo bulldozers and 200 soldiers raided and demolished one house and three animal shelters in the Abu al Ajaj. Three tin buildings and one tent were also destroyed, two men were arrested and several injured. Several baby goats were killed and many were injured in the destruction. The estimated cost of the damage stands at around 120,000 NIS.[2]

The demolition paves the way for the expansion of the settlement of Massua, which lies opposite Abu Al Ajaj across the highway. Massua, was established, in contravention of international law, on the site of a Palestinian refugee camp. Over the last six years the settlement has been increasingly encroaching on the land of Abu al Ajaj. In 2004 settlers from Massua”>annexed some of the land of Abu Al Ajaj and erected greenhouses.[3] In 2008, residents in the area were issued demolition orders by the civil/military administration on the grounds that the land was government land. In October 2010 settlers fenced off a further patch of land belonging to the Palestinian community prompting protests and arrests.[4]

The recent demolitions in Al Araqib are the seventh time the village has been demolished since July 2010. Al Araqib was originally ethnically cleansed in 1951 by the Israeli army. By the 90s the original inhabitants had repopulated the area, living amongst the ruins of the original village. However, Al Araqib is designated 'unrecognised' by the Israeli state. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) plans to plant a forest over the village. To this end, demolitions of Al Araqib have been carried out by the Israeli Land Administration (ILA), a parastatal organisation whose board of directors is dominated by the JNF. 50 families from Al Araqib remain in the village, in the ruins of their homes.

The demolitions in Al Araqib, on 10th August 2010, by Volvo machines, can be viewed here.

Volvo machines are consistently used in home demolitions and settlement building in occupied Palestine. Corporate Watch observed Volvo machinery working on settlement projects in Ariel, Givat Hamivtar and Mod'iin Illit and”>quarrying occupied Syrian territory near Merom Golan during 2010.[5] Adri Nieuwhof, in a recent article for Corporate Watch,”>detailed house demolitions using Volvo machines in Wadi Qadum, Silwan, Beit Hanina, Atir, Um Hayran and Al Walaja.[6] The demolitions in Al Walaja were to make way for the construction of a new section of the apartheid wall.

Volvo Group's vice president of media relations and corporate news, Marten Wikforss has said "we do not have any control over the use of our products, other than to affirm in our business activities a Code of Conduct that decries unethical behaviour." Volvo has not attempted to investigate the use of its equipment in Palestine.[7]

However, on 14th October 2010, another equipment hire company, Riwal, had its offices raided and documents seized in Holland after a Palestinian human rights group, Al Haq, complained that it was complicit in the building of the apartheid wall.[8]

Questions about Riwal's involvement in the building of the wall had first been asked in the Dutch parliament in 2006 after a Dutch television crew filmed cranes active in construction of the apartheid wall, and of settlements, which bore the Riwal company logo. As a result, the Dutch Government, in 2008, warned Riwal not to engage in activities in the 'occupied territories'. The International Court of Justice's ruling on the apartheid wall in 2004 had ruled the wall illegal and obliged states to ensure that no support is given for further construction.[9]

If Volvo does not act to stop its equipment being used in the construction of the wall and settlements and the demolition of Palestinian homes it could fall foul of the same legislation.

Volvo's sole representative in Israel is Mayer Cars and Trucks.

View this article with pictures at

URGENT APPEAL - Children of the Gravel

03 December 2010

UPDATED URGENT APPEAL from DCI Palestine - Children of the Gravel

Appeal to stop the targeting of unarmed children working near the border in Gaza - 16 cases documented.

Nature of incidents

Between 26 March and 28 November 2010, DCI-Palestine documented 16 cases of children shot whilst collecting building gravel near the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Due to a severe lack of job opportunities and a shortage of construction material entering Gaza from Israel, hundreds of men and boys scavenge for building gravel amongst the destroyed buildings close to the border fence. The gravel is collected into sacks, loaded onto donkey drawn carts and sold to builders for use in concrete.

Children can earn up to 50 shekels (US $13) per day which is used to help support their families. Reports indicate that Israeli soldiers on duty in the observation towers which line the border between Gaza and Israel frequently fire warning shots to scare workers away from the border region. Reports also indicate that these soldiers sometimes shoot and kill the donkeys used by the workers, and also target the workers, usually, but not always, shooting at their legs. In the cases documented by DCI-Palestine, the children report being shot whilst working between 50 to 800 metres from the border fence. These cases have also been reported in Haaretz, The Guardian, The Independent and AFP media outlets.

Background information

According to a recent UN study, over the past 10 years, the Israeli military has gradually expanded restrictions on access to land on the Gaza side of the border, with the stated intention of preventing attacks from Palestinian armed factions. In May 2009, the Israeli air force dropped thousands of pamphlets over different parts of Gaza stating that anybody approaching within 300 metres of the border endangers his or her life. The findings of the study indicate that these restrictions have had a devastating impact on the physical security and livelihoods of around 180,000 people, exasperating an already bleak humanitarian situation caused by the blockade imposed by Israel in June 2007. In November 2010, 25 non-governmental organizations, including Amnesty International, released a report into the situation in Gaza, five months after the Israeli government announced it was easing the blockade following intense international pressure. The report concludes that in the five months since the easing was announced on 20 June 2010, there are few signs of real improvement on the ground.

Fast facts

For the missing links - please visit:

ï‚· According to a recent report by 25 non-governmental organisations, including Amnesty International, and based on UN data, Gaza requires 670,000 truckloads of construction material to rebuild after the war that ended in January 2009. However, the Israeli authorities have only permitted an average of 715 truckloads per month since the easing of restrictions in June 2010. At this rate it will take 78 years to rebuild Gaza, with a completion date in 2088.

ï‚· According to a UN study, between January 2009 and August 2010, at least 22 Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed and 146 injured in the arbitrary live fire zone adjacent to the border with Israel and imposed at sea.

At least 27 of these civilians were children.

ï‚· In 11 out of the 16 cases (69 percent) documented by DCI-Palestine, the children estimate that they were on, or outside the 300 metre exclusion zone unilaterally imposed by the Israeli army when they were shot.

ï‚· The targeting of civilians is absolutely prohibited under international law, regardless of

Recommended action

Please send Urgent Appeals urging that:

1. The Israeli army immediately ceases the practice of targeting unarmed children in the buffer zone on the Gaza side of the border with Israel; and

2. An immediate review of the orders and procedures relating to firing on persons in the buffer zone
on the Gaza side of the border for compliance with international law, and to make all findings of the review public.

Appeals to:

ï‚· Your elected representatives my MP, my Congressperson; and UK
Anywhere in EU

ï‚· The Israeli embassy in your country [list of Israeli diplomatic missions worldwide].

Please inform DCI-Palestine if you receive any response to your appeals and quote the UA number at the top of the document

--- On Fri, 3/12/10,


88th worker shot in northern Gaza 'no go zone'

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Gaza man was shot in the foot Friday morning, medics in the coastal enclave confirmed saying the wound was inflicted by Israeli sniper fire targeting a man collecting gravel particles in the northern border area. The injured man was evacuated to the Kamal Udwan Hospital in Jabaliya and identified only as 20-year-old "AB." Medics said his injuries were moderate.

In a corrupt world, nothing succeeds like satire!

It’s amazing how much excitement a little wit and some basic computer artistry can generate. My satire of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as a man of principle and courage took on a life of its own as scores of websites and blogs posted it, debated it, and translated it.

Reaction ran from jaw-dropping (albeit temporary) elation from those who thought Israel finally got what it deserves, to a collective colon purge among zionists who went into Defcon 4 panic mode.

Some even wrote hysterical letters to the White House, Congress and the UN, and called for me to be charged with committing a crime. (Ain’t gonna happen!)

I don’t usually respond publicly to reader reaction but this is an exceptional case. Before I explain why, a little nomenclature clarification. Contrary to numerous assertions, especially from the Lobby, the “speech” is neither a hoax nor a forgery.

A hoax is an attempt to dupe, deceive or trick someone into believing that something unreal is in fact real. At no time did I attempt to deceive anyone. As many people noticed, I spelled-out the word SATIRE clearly in the text. In the words of Jewish Telegraph Agency reporter Ben Harris: “How could anyone have missed it?”

Nevertheless, modern political hoaxes do exist. Some of the more infamous false claims include:• Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction;

• Muslim hijackers brought down the World Trade Centre;
• Torture saves American lives; and
• Exposing Israeli atrocities is “anti-Semitic.”

In contrast, the mainstream media is riddled with hoaxes. For example, The New York?Times’ chief hoaxster Judith Miller was largely responsible for making the invasion of Iraq possible by passing off Pentagon propaganda as legitimate reportage.

Selected Media Reaction
“With the current climate of anti-Israel sentiment, undoubtedly hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people will accept this forgery at face value. If it is not denied promptly and publicly, this false document, which clearly has the potential for violence, can produce dire consequences in world opinion. The integrity of the United Nations will be damaged as well.”
—Dr. Haim Katz, chairman,
International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs (B’nai Brith)
“The alleged speech suggested that, based on a considered legal analysis of UN documents, Israel had violated the terms of its creation by the UN and its subsequent admission to the world body. As a result, Ban Ki-moon was calling the General Assembly into special session to withdraw the UN terms for the establishment of Israel and to expel Israel from the UN. While much of the criticism of the UN by pro-Israel and Jewish activists is valid, the ‘letter’ is a total fabrication—in fact, it is a signed piece of wishful thinking by an anti-Israel Canadian writer. The Jewish community needs to cease fanning flames of hatred and hostility where there is no fire.”
—Dr. Gilbert N. Kahn,
New Jersey Jewish News
“We are very concerned. This has the potential for violence. This is like a blood libel. I got this from very serious friends of mine.”
—Jan Sokolovsky, executive director,
International Commission for Jewish Legal Affairs
“Felton claimed that he had no intention to deceive with the ‘speech’ and that he made it clear in the document that it was a joke.… Six paragraphs in, the first letter of the first word of the first sentence, an ‘S’, was featured in bold. A few lines later, yes there it was, an “A”, also in bold. Then a ‘T’, an ‘I’, an ‘R’, and an ‘E’—each of them separated from the others by a few sentences, at most, and in bold. Felton had spelled out ‘SATIRE.’ How could anyone have missed it?”
—Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraph Agency
“To prevent the allegations contained in the SG’s alleged speech about Israel’s conditional membership from snow-balling, an urgent widely publicized clarification is needed from the UN and I respectfully suggest that in your capacity as Director of the Task Force against Hate of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, at the United Nations, you take up this matter at top level.”
—Letter by Maurice Ostroff, founding member, International Council of Hasbara Volunteers, to Mark Weitzman
There were, however, some valid points in the mock speech that I wish to address… United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 requires that Israel compensate Arabs for all property destroyed or confiscated by Israel. Israel’s membership in the United Nations as set forth in UN General Assembly Resolution 273 specifically requires Israel to comply with Resolution 194. It must be pointed out that Resolution 194 also grants the Palestinians the Right of Return to their homeland. Sixty years after its admission to the World Body, all of the above resolutions have been violated or ignored, yet Israel remains a member in good standing of the United Nations.
In essence, my satire was designed to expose a hoax—the hoax of Israel being a legitimate member of the United Nations. For all of its frothing denunciations, the Lobby has not made any attempt to refute the evidence. 

The charge of forgery refers to my homemade pdf replica of a UN News webpage containing the “official” transcript of the speech. To qualify as a forgery my webpage would have to be indistinguishable, or nearly indistinguish-able, from the real thing. As certain observant people noted:

• Ban Ki-Moon did not address the General Assembly on the day in question;
• None of the links worked; and
• My pdf did not appear on the official UN website or anywhere in the mainstream press.

There was no attempt to deceive, unlike the case of the infamous forged Niger documents that George W. Bush held up as “proof” that Saddam Hussein’s was buying uranium.

The fact that many readers pro and con were impressed by the seeming authenticity of my mock-up is nevertheless gratifying. After all, what’s the point of doing satire if it isn’t believable?

I think the most significant effect of my satire is how it generated its own reality, especially after some sites posted it, then took it down when they could not confirm its authenticity. The fact of my satire appearing and then disappearing spawned speculation that it was true and that it had been censored for political reasons.

According to a poster on “I gotta tell you, you found a gem, and they stole it back. I’m sure it will be redacted or cosmetically made more PC; and people will call you a liar for ever having relayed the find. Too bad really. Every now and again, I like to pretend there's hope. Then AIPAC strikes. And the dance begins all over again.”

The French site even translated my satire with the added heading “censored by the press,” but also with a read-at-you-own-risk caveat. The idea that AIPAC or other any other arm of Zionism Inc. could censor the media so easily clearly comes as no surprise, which made what “I” had to say that much more believable.

In response to the satire, and the climate of suspicion it engendered, one zionist “praised” it as a highly successful “false meme”—a form of disinformation as part of cognitive warfare against Israel. The irony, which is lost on this individual, is that the entire history of Israel is a false meme, and that my satire, for all of its inventiveness, was truthful.

Similarly Maurice Ostroff founding member of Hasbara, an organization dedicated to spewing apologetics for Israel, paid me the highest compliment by demanding the UN “clarify”(!) its position about Israel “to prevent the allegations contained in the SG’s alleged speech about Israel’s conditional membership from snow-balling.”

Not only does Ostroff recognize the power of the allegations, which are 100% true, but he also lends credence to those who charge that Jews control the media, or at least exercise an undue influence. He also shows just how easily the myth of Israel can be exploded. If one writer can do so much damage, just how sustainable is Israel’s position?!

All this backhanded praise does is show that the satire was a runaway success, and so the success had to be discredited.

The third reaction to the satire concerns the debate it engendered. Numerous blogs carried on prolonged discussions about UN General Assembly resolutions 194 and 273, complete with excerpts. This true, uncensored discussion about the history of zionist treachery and fraud reached thousands, if not millions, of people, if the Lobby’s latest screech owl Dr. Haim Katz is anything to go by.

If I had written this piece as a straight column, it would not have had nearly the same impact. It’s easy, and I suspect commonplace, to judge a story by its source, rather than its message.

We live in irrational times where truth is a commodity defined by the government and propagated by a compliant, corrupt media. Those who dissent from the prescribed verities are marginalized and persecuted, not because they are wrong but because they are right. In such a society, satire is the best source of truth, and the satirist is a dangerous man.


The Host and The Parasite— How Israel's Fifth Column Consumed America is a detailed study of how Israel exploited the U.S. economy, government and military to destroy the American republic.

In North America, send C$35 + $10 S&H to
Greg Felton
Suite 406
104–1015 Columbia St.
New Westminster B.C.,
Canada V3M 6V3
Order an e-book—CAN$ 18.95


Coming Soon - More Satire - Tiger By The Tail Trailor


 - stop violence and unnecessary deaths now!



Honoring our fallen brothers and sisters victims of the Bagua massacre of June 5 and 6, 2009.

Our condolences go to the people of Peru, to the relatives, friends and communities of the Indigenous activists and the Police members who were killed in a tragic event that should have never occurred.

Emergency Demonstrations in the United States
of Protest and Solidarity
with the Amazon Indigenous Peoples of Peru
"Amazon Indigenous peoples are not first class citizens in Peru"
Peru's president Alan Garcia, justifying his attacks on civilians using snipers and bombs, which has caused between 35 to 85 deaths and hundred of injured people.

Protest in front of the Peruvian Embassy in Washington DC
1700 Massachusetts Ave., N.W
Washington D.C. 20036

Monday June 8, 2009
12:30 PM EST


Protest in front of the Consulate General of Peru in Los Angeles, CA
3450 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Monday June 8, 2009
3:30 PM PST


Protest in front of the Consulate General of Peru in New York, NY
241 East 49th Street
between 2nd and 3rd Aves, Manhattan, NYC.

Wed, June 10
12:00 noon EST


The message is simple: stop genocide, stop violence, respect human rights, avoid useless casualties, promote dialogue and respect of Indigenous peoples rights in Peru, stop using U.S. free trade policies to destroy the lives of millions of peoples in Peru, promote democracy and equality.
Contact the government of Peru
Demand to cease the State of Emergency and martial laws that are a threat to other communities that are still protesting. Demand the end of violence against Indigenous peoples of the Amazon and Andean regions, to restore peace and to restart dialogue so that Indigenous peoples can keep their lands and the environment can be protected.

Send a Message to the President of Peru:

President of the Council of Ministers of Peru, Yehude Simon Munaro / Fax +51 1- 716- 87-35

President of the Congress of Peru, Javier Velásquez-Quesquén

Embassy of Peru in Washington, DC:
Telephone: (202) 833-9860 to 9869 Fax: (202) 659-8124
Ambassador Luis Valdivieso Montano

Consulate General of Peru in Los Angeles
Telephone: (213) 252-5910

Public Ombudsman Office of Peru

Peruvian Embassies in your country

List of Peruvian Consulates in the U.S.:

Contact the U.S. government
Request for the Obama administration to take a stand in defense of human rights in Peru and for the government of Peru to stop using the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement FTA as a legal tool to attack the Indigenous communities.

Tell president Barack Obama, Congress members and State Secretary Hillary Clinton, that this is not the way to promote trade and progress, and that Peru must comply with the labor and environmental rights regulations included in the Peru FTA, which president Obama praised during his campaign.

Contact president Barack Obama and vicepresident Joe Biden:

Contact U.S. Senators:

Contact U.S. House Representatives:

Contact the U.S. State Department
You can contact the U.S. Department of State in any of the following ways:

Main address:
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Main Switchboard:
TTY:1-800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service)

Public Communication Division:
PA/PL, Rm. 2206
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

To e-mail the U.S. Department of State, please visit the following website:

Contact the UN and OAS human rights organizations
UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom expression

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

ACHR Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Expression

Talking points
Few minutes of your time can make a huge difference!

Indigenous peoples rights must be respected by Peru, included in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007.

The right of consultations with Indigenous peoples is included at the ILO 169 Convention. This must be done with respect and honest intention of defending the rights of all Peruvian citizens and not only the interests of multinational corporations.

This massacre is a direct result of an abusive implementation of policies included in the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement, by Peru’s president Alan Garcia who used it as an instrument of corporate corruption and collusion in the genocide of the Indigenous peoples.

The Peruvian government is presenting this tragedy as if it was caused by the Native peoples, which is not truth. Amazonian peoples protested without violence for almost 2 months, until the Police attacked them. All the casualties are unjustified and should have never happened.

The Peruvian media which is mostly biased and controlled by the government and corporate interests, is reporting that Police officers were kidnapped and massacred by the Indigenous peoples, but is not reporting about the abusive attack on civilians, and snipers and helicopters shooting at civilians including children. Witnesses have said that dead bodies were burned down and thrown to the rivers, and that police prevented civilians from rescuing injured protesters.

In the last 56 days, Amazonian Indigenous peoples of Peru are fighting to protect their territories, as the government of Lima has passed decrees that lease 73% of the Amazon forest and allow extractive industries corporations to take over their land, without previous consultation. The Amazonian peoples are requesting especifically for Lima to repeal those decrees.

Indigenous peoples do not oppose progress and private investment. They want to protect their land, their families and the environment, they want for corporations to respect their traditions and ways of living.

There have been years of protests since the signing of the Peru FTA by then presidents George W. Bush and Alejandro Toledo. Indigenous peoples have tried to dialogue, but the Lima government refused to listen and even prevented a national referendum in 2006.

As a way to protest and demand to be heard, the Amazon Indigenous peoples started popular strikes, oil facilities takeovers and road blockades in 8 regions of the country. This was replied by the Garcia administration by sending police and military forces to repress the protesters violently. People in Bagua responded burning down government buildings and lootings have also occurred.

Indigenous peoples value the land as a part of a our system of life, we don't own the land but we belong to it. There will not be a way for the government of Peru to impose its corporate benefiting laws because Indigenous people will defend their territories.

After the recent bloody attack, violence has slowed as today Sunday June 7. The military has taken over control of the region in conflict, but Lima has issued a warrant arrest for Alberto Pizango, the most prominent leader of the Amazon Indigenous peoples and his whereabouts are unknown at this moment.

Unfortunately, other leaders are also being prosecuted by the government and there is a possibility of future attacks of the military on other Indigenous communities. WE MUST ACT NOW!

Peru Emergency Fund
Please donate to Amazon Watch, a non profit that is working directly with the Indigenous peoples in strike. This fund will be used for medical relief for the wounded, media campaign led by indigenous organizations, and legal defense for those being charged.

And there's a whole lot more here:

Tell Me Why – I’ll Tell You Why Kid

Nice song:


Great Lyrics but it’s really quite simple; this explains the origins of WW1 but to understand today, when reading England, think United States, when reading Germany, think Russia/China:

Oil and the origins of the
‘War to make the world safe for Democracy’

By F. William Engdahl, 22 June, 2007

The ultimate reason England declared war in August, 1914 lay fundamentally, "in the old tradition of British policy, through which England grew to great power status, and through which she sought to remain a great power," stated Deutsche Bank’s Karl Helfferich, the man in the midst of negotiations on the Baghdad Railway, in 1918. "England's policy was always constructed against the politically and economically strongest Continental power," he stressed.

 "Ever since Germany became the politically and economically strongest Continental power, did England feel threatened from Germany more than from any other land in its global economic position and its naval supremacy. Since that point, the English-German differences were unbridgeable, and susceptible to no agreement in any one single question."

Helfferich sadly noted the accuracy of the declaration of Bismarck from 1897, "The only condition which could lead to improvement of German-English relations would be if we bridled our economic development, and this is not possible."[37]

So, while the needle is stuck regarding the big powers’ ability to bridle their economic development, we’re in for big trouble:

The men behind Barack Obama part 2

A two part interview with historian Webster Tarpley which shows excellent insight and analysis of just who is behind Obama and their secret plans for continued and even more aggressive American Imperialism, but this time they want to take on the big boys!

More info:

The West’s Reckless Approach to Relations With Russia

Pentagon Preparing For War With The Enemy: Russia


Russia warns of war within a decade over Arctic oil and gas riches

But oh yeh, ‘Is there something I have missed?’ It could be Zionism, they don’t teach you that in school do they? Take your pick:

Armageddon Now?
By Nadia Hijab May 26, 2009

Of all the analysis generated by the Obama-Netanyahu meeting Robert Satloff's is the most significant. Satloff is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which serves as AIPAC's think tank. His piece, circulated Thursday, provides insights into what the lobby -- and Israel -- might do next. And it should ring alarm bells.

Judgment Day

By Peter Chamberlin Dec 3, 2007,

The world is being steered into an apocalyptic climax that defies reason, by largely unknown powers, for unknowable reasons. All of us are among the unfortunate losers in the ultimate earth lottery, with ringside seats to the end of the world, from which there is no escape.

BBC Does It Again - Time To Pull The Plug

Is it even worth complaining?

UK Media

<>, "2day" <>,,,,, "c4" <>,,,,,,, "ft" <>, "Galway Radio" <>, "guardian" <>,, "independ" <>,,,,,, "new statesman" <>, "news24" <>, "newsnight" <>,, "observer" <>, "panorama" <>,,,, "scot" <>, "scotstv" <>, "skytv" <>, "Sun Times" <>, "telegraph" <>, "telegraph not publish" <>,, "times" <>, "western d" <>, "worldservice"

UK MP Describes His Visit to Gaza

This is an excerpt (or at least, the bit I found most interesting) from:

Westminster Hall debates

Thursday, 26 March 2009


[Sir Nicholas Winterton in the Chair] — Arms Export Controls 

Photo of John StanleyJohn Stanley (Tonbridge & Malling, Conservative) Link to this | Hansard source

Last week I went with members of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs to Israel and the occupied territories and Gaza. I want to tell the House what I saw with my own eyes in Gaza. I want to make it clear at the outset, as I have done every time I have spoken on this subject, that I condemn absolutely and unreservedly the sending of rockets by Hamas into Israel. We started at a hospital in the centre of Gaza City. It was burnt out, through the use of phosphorous munitions. It was not possible tell whether, or to find anyone who would say whether, there were any Hamas fighters in the hospital. I have no grounds for believing that there were any, but equally I cannot say absolutely that there were not. However, there could not be any conceivable justification for burning out an entire hospital on the ground that one or two Hamas fighters, or a small group of them, were in the vicinity, or possibly on the roof of the hospital.

We then went to one of the two very large Commonwealth war grave cemeteries in Gaza. In the cemetery, which has 4,000 headstones, we met the splendid Palestinian gentleman who is in charge of it and keeps it immaculately. He came to meet us in his suit and tie, wearing his decoration, an honorary MBE. He showed us the 300 headstones that had been destroyed or seriously scarred, which will all now have to be replaced. He also showed us, a considerable distance away, the Israeli tank firing-points from which shells had come into the cemetery. I asked him whether any Hamas fighters had been in the cemetery at any point, to which he replied, "Absolutely not."

We went to a relief distribution centre, run by Islamic Relief—a very good charity among the Islamic countries—and funded by the Department for International Development. It distributed food, tents, kitchen equipment, sanitary items and so on. I had heard and read about—and hon. Members will have seen in the press—the extent to which the Israelis targeted food production and Palestinian farms during the recent offensive. I met a Palestinian farmer who told me his farm had been destroyed; his orange trees had been smashed. He told me it would take at least 10 years to replant those orange trees and bring them to maturity for fruit. I asked him, "Were there any Hamas fighters in your farm?" He said, "Absolutely not."

Then, perhaps most disturbingly of all, we went to one of the largest industrial estates in Gaza. If there had been Hamas fighters there one might, yes, have expected one or two of the factories and warehouses to be destroyed, and a few others to be damaged. It was a huge estate, providing employment opportunities and income to what must have been many thousands of people. It had been flattened. Not a single building was standing. It had been destroyed, brought down to the ground, for as far as one could see. It was a horrendous sight. I came away with only one conclusion. The engagement was not military to military, with armed people on either side engaging each other. It was an engagement about collective punishment, and that is what has been inflicted on Gaza.

That brings me to my next point, about an interesting and important piece of information given to me about the rules of engagement under which the Israelis operated during the recent Gaza conflict. I was told on very high authority, completely independently and not by Palestinian or Israeli sources, that in the rules of engagement—I have not had sight of them, which is not surprising, as they are highly classified—the members of the Israeli defence force were told that above all else they must avoid being captured.

Hon. Members will know the extent to which Israel is transfixed by the Corporal Shalit case. Corporal Shalit was kidnapped and is still a hostage. He has been a hostage for three years. Indeed, outside the Prime Minister's house in Jerusalem we saw the demonstrations and the tents of the people there who are calling for Corporal Shalit's release.

If someone's rules of engagement include an overriding requirement that they should under no circumstances allow themselves to get captured, an absolutely certain military consequence is that the fire positions in which they engage will be of a stand-off nature and will be at a considerable distance. Indeed, I was told that the vast majority of the IDF forces that were engaged did not at any point see a Hamas fighter. If someone engages at a great distance, they can also be certain that they will maximise civilian casualties.

So, I ask the Minister to consider what happened in southern Lebanon three years ago, when, as he knows, a vast number of cluster munitions were sown over the whole of southern Lebanon—including in the civilian areas—in the 72 hours after the ceasefire had been agreed and before it came into effect. He should also consider the degree of destruction of Gaza, where there were nearly 1,500 civilian casualties—including hundreds of women and children. Against that background and the background of what I have said about the rules of engagement, which are likely to be the same in any future conflict and are likely to lead to a high level of civilian casualties, the Minister and his colleagues must look extraordinary closely at the compliance by the British Government in respect of weapons systems and the components of weapons systems sold to Israel—either directly or indirectly—in relation to the EU combined code.


Photo of Gordon PrenticeGordon Prentice (Pendle, Labour) Link to this | Hansard source

The Gaza strip is twice the size of my Pendle constituency, but it has a population 17 times as large. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is saying that it is impossible for the military to strike surgically in the circumstances to which he has referred. Is he also telling us that he believes that Israel committed war crimes during the attack in December because civilians would inevitably be caught up in the fighting in the way that he describes? 

Photo of John StanleyJohn Stanley (Tonbridge & Malling, Conservative) Link to this | Hansard source

The hon. Gentleman is asking about an issue that can only be adjudicated on in a court of law, but he will know that I am not a court of law. What I am saying is that the way in which the operation was conducted and what I was told were the rules of engagement made it, I believe, certain that significant numbers of civilians would lose their lives—and they did.

I come to the criteria in the combined code, which is the basic policy framework for the Government. Will the Minister carry out a review of arms exports to Israel? In doing so, will he look closely at two criteria in particular and say whether the British Government are compliant? I refer him to criterion 2 (c), which states that member states shall

"deny an export licence if there is clear risk that the military technology or equipment to be exported might be used in commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law."

I also ask him to look at the Government's policy in relation to the whole of criterion 7, which states:

"Existence of a risk that the military technology or equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions."

Those are two absolutely key criteria against which the Minister should evaluate the Government's policy on arms exports to Israel.

In conclusion, the British Government may have been in breach of one or more of the EU's criteria under the combined code for some years. However, having seen what I have seen in Gaza, I am in no doubt that they are in breach of the code now.


"Jihad against the Abuse of Jihad"

Just read this which is a fair little read:

"Abukar Arman, "Jihad against the Abuse of Jihad"

How come the robe-wearing extremists of the East and the suit-wearing extremists of the West are the ones who hold monopoly on the definition of jihad? In the past eight years of the ongoing global political discontent, one persistent warning has been systematically ignored: when militant politics takes over the stage, reason makes a run for the exit. This was a period when people were generally herded toward one side of the argument or the other. Two nihilistic manifestos dominated the political discourse and brought the world closer to a self-fulfilling prophecy known as the "clash of civilizations": the global war on terror and the global jihad.

In light of the rampant extremism and militarism around the world, nothing is more dangerous than the manipulative alteration of truth to reach certain political ends.  In the final analysis, it is this tactic that facilitates the demonization process that blurs ideologies and beliefs in the West and the Islamic world.  And no concept is more abused by both sides than the concept of jihad.

To the Muslim extremists and their cronies, jihad is a narrowly defined license to fight their perceived enemies (including Muslims, as is the case in Somalia) even if that leads to committing atrocities against innocent civilians.  And to the Western extremists and their cronies, jihad is a religiously sanctioned perpetual holy war led by irrational militant non-state actors sworn to destroy the Western values and civilization.

However, jihad is a complex concept deeply embedded in Islam.  It is an Islamic principle that all Muslims who adhere to the teachings of their religion embrace.  And, contrary to the prevalent post-9/11 perception, the concept does not connote senseless violence against innocents or suicide bombing.

While the concept projects different relevance to different people, the Arabic word means to strive or struggle toward achieving a higher aim, which includes the "struggle in the way of God."  It also means self-defense; and to strive against injustices; and to attain the ultimate goal of Tazkiyatul Nafs or purification of the soul -- morally, spiritually, and ethically.  Indeed it is this latter aspect, the jihad with oneself as one resists temptations and strives against his/her evil tendencies, which Prophet Muhammad referred to as "the Greater Jihad," because purification of the soul or simply self-purification is an around-the-clock process in which one engages in a steadfast introspection.

Despite great achievements in the fields of science and technology; in the compilation and standardization of knowledge; and, yes, in the art of its dissemination, humanity still remains in an embryonic if not an imbecilic stage when it comes to morality and ethics.

Human beings, though endowed by their Creator with profound faculty that renders them superior to other known creatures, they are given by that same Creator the capacity or the freewill to bring themselves to "the lowest of the low."  Needless to say it is this latter capacity that inspires human vices and wickedness -- extremism in all its forms and manifestations (socially, economically, politically, and religiously) and the ever-increasing appetite to exploit others, to kill and destroy.

The human being remains a profound enigma and a paradox of clashing potentialities.  As we surpass the animals in the realm of intellect and wisdom, we surpass them in savagery as well.  There is no animal group that plays "war games" and makes deliberate plans to oppress or annihilate others while they are bellyful -- all in the name of ideology, religion, economic exploitation, strategic opportunism, or simply racism.

So when the Prophet was referring to a particular aspect of jihad in such high regard he was not merely offering an opinion.  Rather, he was pointing to what the majority of the Muslim scholars consider the peak of piety: to a process that, according to the Qur'an, leads to the ultimate salvation.

As He does throughout the Qur'an in order to put emphasis on the message that follows, in the Al-Shams (The Sun) chapter God swears multiple times -- in fact, more than any other time: "(I swear) By the sun and its glorious splendor; and by the moon as it follows it; and by the day as it reveals it; and by the night as it conceals it; and by the sky and what built it;  and by the earth and what smoothes it out all over; and by the soul and who gave it balance and order, and inspired it with the capacity to turn to disobedience and the capacity to fear God; Verily, whosoever purifies the soul attains the highest of success, and verily whosoever corrupts it descends into utter failure!"  And the engine that drives this process is known as Taqwah (sincere fear and devotion to God).  It is through Taqwah that one attains profound God-consciousness which cultivates one's capacity to self-police against all evil.

So how could such a noble concept get so distorted?  How come the robe-wearing extremists of the East and the suit-wearing extremists of the West are the ones who hold monopoly on the definition of jihad?

In the past eight years of the ongoing global political discontent, one persistent warning has been systematically ignored: when militant politics takes over the stage, reason makes a run for the exit.  This was a period when people were generally herded toward one side of the argument or the other.  Two nihilistic manifestos dominated the political discourse and brought the world closer to a self-fulfilling prophecy known as the "clash of civilizations": the global war on terror and the global jihad.

The former was based on an erroneous premise that "political Islam" in all its manifestations is anti-democratic and anti-Western and, as such, should never be afforded a space in the market place of ideas.  They insisted that such movements were dangerous fronts for Muslim militants with a sinister transnational "jihadist ambition" who were set to destroy the West because they simply hated it for its freedom and economic success.  Therefore, they were to be met with "preemptive" force if they were based in foreign lands and by draconian policies if they were stationed in the West.

The proponents of this view work hard to conceal two particular facts that dismantle their claim: the success of the Turkish political system led by a democratically elected Islamist government, and the millions of Muslims who live peacefully in the US and various parts of Europe in spite of ever-growing Islamophobia.

The latter, on the other hand, was based on an opposite yet equally erroneous premise: that the West is collectively bent on destroying Islam . . . by occupying the Islamic world, exploiting its natural resources, oppressing its peoples, and Westernizing Islamic values.  And as such, jihad against the West is not only right, but the moral thing to do.

The proponents of this manifesto, such as Al Qaeda, selectively employ the confrontational rhetoric often used by their counterparts in the West -- secularist and evangelical Zionists -- to lend credence to their claim.  And they, too, work hard to conceal two particular realities: that Muslims are afforded more rights in the West than in most of the so-called Islamic countries when it comes to practicing their religion freely and establishing Islamic institutions; and also that the Obama administration is adamant about its desire to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Back to the abused concept: until jihad is openly discussed and deciphered both in the Islamic and the Western world, and its true nature is widely unveiled, the abuse of the concept for self-serving political ends will inevitably continue and so would its unjust violent expression.

But think the author would do well to watch this:

Our Own Private bin Laden:

"The concept of Jihad was born as a consequence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan."





Click the above link, you might like to have a listen while you read but the lyrics to that Who classic, very apt! ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,’ oh yes but…


I really don’t get all this fuss about the BBC’s refusal to air the Disaster Emergency Committee’s Gaza Appeal, for one thing, the Director General could almost be considered ‘dual-nationality’ if this is anything to go by.


OK, it may have cost the appeal a million pound or so but it is debateable as to whether their refusal didn’t just gain the appeal more publicity anyway. But what’s really bugging me and it’s all very well and nice to hear that so many MP’s were falling over themselves to sign the proposed Early Day Motion in protest and while it’s gratifying to hear that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have included an urging to end the UK’s arms trade with Israel as part of their March 11th National Lobby of Parliament – I can only assume that their enthusiasm for the EDM was an attempt to mask their shame, to try and hide their guilt for the UK’s complicity, as the threatened ‘Shoah’ on Gaza was realized – let’s face it, someone in government must have known about this, the very likely fact that some of the weapons used by Israel passed through Britain some time between October and December of last year – something which the UK government is said to have no control over, you’d think there would be murmurings of discontent, a call for an inquiry perhaps, not a whisper!


Shocking! But then, I almost collapsed and died from hysterical laughter when I heard this, ‘Tony Blair wins a million-dollar prize for global leadership’ – for his determination to find solutions to areas in conflict, no less. Bush’s poodle - committed more UK troops to a battlefield than any other PM since WW2 – Iraq was hardly an act of leadership was it? Maybe he’d like to distribute the money amongst the families of the bereaved in Iraq but that wouldn’t even be a dollar each would it?


Maybe it was for his recent announcement in The Times that ‘Hamas must be brought into the peace process,’ that sounds like a promising initiative but this being Blair and come to think of it, he’s changed his tune and I’m not sure what instrument he plays but you can guarantee, there will be strings attached.



(Just remembered, he plays the guitar, doesn’t he?)


Actually, that Times article helps make my point, as I said, he’s changed his tune because at no point in the previous 18 months as ‘so-called’ Peace Envoy has he called for anything like talking to Hamas. Back in early December of last year he called for a ‘new strategy’ on Gaza but that had more to do with getting the ‘right measures’ in place to see that Hamas would be ousted in forthcoming elections. And then, after a barrage of threats of imminent military force, when asked if he was concerned about the possibility of an Israeli operation, just before Christmas, duly replies:


"All the options for Israel are difficult, but the present option is difficult too. I have already said enough." Gaza, he notes, "is not staying still, because there is no doubt that Hamas is strengthening its grip at the moment, and my own view is that if the people of Gaza thought that there is an alternative and that they could actually rejoin normality again, I think that they would opt for it, so the reason I am being coy about solutions and strategies is that I think that the time to discuss this publicly is not now.


Then he sets off on holiday, leaving Israel to implement his ‘right measures’ and drop the aforementioned weaponry amongst Gaza’s children, weaponry which, according to Baroness Tonge, in a UK parliamentary debate, included shells ‘that are able to do damage over a range of 300 metres. Then and only then, after some kind of vain, criminal even, attempt to bomb the people of Gaza into submission, does he come up with the bright idea of bringing Hamas into the peace process.


This man is not fit for the position of peace envoy but going back to that piece in the Times and just to show how far removed from reality Blair’s brain resides, it says he had appeared to be waiting for the change of government in the US before making any criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and that under the stewardship of their new envoy, Mr Mitchell, Gaza was being offered the possibility of rejoining the West Bank. Rejoin the West Bank? Like it’s some kind of rose garden over there, that’s not what I’ve been hearing and ‘er, excuse me Mr Blair but there is a growing consensus of opinion that is still waiting for ‘the change’ in government, or policy at least, within the US.  H’mm, we wont get fooled again, will we?


Since I wrote the above Mr Blair has visited Gaza and this was Alex Thomson introducing his report that day. Why would he appear ‘nervous’ I wonder?



First off to the Middle East. In his only major British TV interview Tony Blair talked to me about visiting Gaza today and he called on the Israelis to lift their blockade of the Strip. Further he outlined his three basic principles for the basis of a peace deal. Fascinating stuff on how near we are or should be to talking with Hamas – not least because of Blair’s unique Northern Ireland experience and he makes some telling comparisons.

Characteristically evasive and expansive by turns, looking remarkably well after the stresses of UK leadership (or was it a particularly good make-up job) and yet cautious in his demeanour – nervous, even? I don’t know. All I do know is that he wouldn’t come within miles of us when we were in the area during Israel’s bombardment but clearly feels the need to talk now. An interesting watch I promise you.


Tony Blair interview

Watch the report


Last Modified: 01 Mar 2009

After visiting Gaza, Tony Blair describes the devastation in the region as "shocking and enormous".

Watch Alex Thomson's interview with the Middle East envoy in full:

From Gaza to London: In Pictures From Life’s Other Side

Before, I wrote a diary called "from Gaza To Rome"

Today, I write "from Gaza To London"

As a survivor of the Israeli war on Gaza, I would be the first speaker to embark on a comprehensive tour of the UK. I will be speaking in parliament, touring colleges and universities, PSC branch meetings and other events to bring more awareness about Palestine and the last war launched against Gaza. I just got to Cairo and I'm flying to London within hours. Just, in the car, I started to make my first simple and humble report. However, I was so tired from the long hours of travel - I attempted in the below works to get you updated of the situation within the Gaza Strip. I'm completing more reports and photo-stories from Gaza and I will be releasing them so soon!

The latest Israeli onslaught has left massive damage and affected nearly all aspects of life. I have written many stories but have not had the time to publish them due to dedicating my efforts to the launching of the first Palestinian Electronic Newspaper (The Palestinian Telegraph – first edition out any day soon). A newspaper that would be very comprehensive and informative, dealing with Palestine, the Middle-East and world news. However, I was documenting the aftermath step by step - I toured in most of the devastated areas where I have seen massive insane damage and smelled death coming out of the rubble. I have heard many sad accounts of killing and slow death. I became introverted for some days and I lost the ability to write. I'm trying to gather all my energy to get the words out. In the meantime, I would like to let you live Gaza through my photos!

1- Gazan Children: Moments of Ecstasy out of War Rubble.

I spent a few special moments along with my friend Janet taking photos of young children in Juhr El Dik in middle of Gaza. The area was totally damaged. More than 150 houses partially and totally ruined. Many people were killed. Children there don't have any of the basics of life and thus nothing called fun or joy could be recognized there. It's only death and the fear of more in attendance. [more pics-

2- Rain and Snow Make Matters Worse After the Israeli Blitz.

For the first time ever Gaza saw snow. A nice white layer covered most of the streets. For a moment, destruction and devastation hid behind that nice white dress. Quickly, the snow melted and the rubble appeared again. [more pics-
[Hey man, this is England, get used to it!]

3- Central Gaza Strip Devastated: Many Children Displaced.

The area witnessed heavy Israeli attacks during the three-week invasion. There is an account for the Abu Hajaj family where more than 30 members were kept in one house, which even had no bathroom. Thus, they had no choice but to relieve nature in the same room they were kept in. Additionally, two women were killed. For long hours the Red Cross and paramedics tried to rescue them but the soldiers said no until they died. [more pics-

4- A Journey of Torture: Trying to Leave the Gaza Jail

After the massacre, I managed to secure a UK visa to speak in parliament and tour Britain, hopefully to include Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Yet I was trapped and refused exit more than once to leave Gaza. I suffered a lot, as did thousands of other people who tried to cross. For three days I tried but I failed. It was nice to have my camera with me. We stayed in the buses for more than 12 hours at a time! You are invited to live the suffering here. [more pics-

All being well, Sameh will be in the UK by Friday & can be contacted:

Sameh A. Habeeb, B.A.

Photojournalist & Peace Activist
Humanitarian, Child Relief Worker
Gaza Strip, Palestine
Mob: 00972599306096
Tel: 0097282802825

Skype: Gazatoday, Facebook: Sameh A. habeeb

Daily Photos:

Though none too sure yet of his mobile number once here – I should have some idea of his whereabouts & availability if anyone knows of any bookings for him.
Andrew 07526128657 ,