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Goldstone report

The Goldstone Report (2009) is the United Nations war crimes report on the war in Gaza last winter. Richard Goldstone, a former South African judge (pictured above) led the UN’s fact-finding mission to Gaza.  The report finds both sides guilty of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, but Israel much more so.

The report does not “prove” that war crimes took place, merely that it seems so based on facts found. The report calls on both Israelis and Palestinians over the next six months to carry out their own independent investigations that meet international standards.

If they fail to do so, then the UN Security Council should hand the matter over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the The Hague. But most likely America will block that: it has veto power in the Security Council and turns a blind eye to Israel’s misdeeds.

Findings:

  • Palestinians:
    • Fired rockets into southern Israel with little hope of ever hitting a military target, thereby spreading terror among civilians.
    • Hamas, the ruling party, used the war as cover to kill some  from the opposing party, Fatah.
  • Israelis:
    • Israel struck mosques, hospitals, schools, apartment buildings, water treatment plants and factories that had no military value. One mosque was struck while hundreds were there praying. If Israel’s true concern were weapons that may have been hidden there it would have struck the mosque in the middle of the night.
    • It struck a house after the Israeli army told Palestinians to stay there to be safe.
    • It used white phosphorus, which burns and kills people, in the middle of Gaza City.
    • Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians as human shields.

In war you are supposed to fight the enemy’s military and destroy things of military value, like bridges, roads, armies and weapons factories. Some civilians will get killed, but you are supposed to take reasonable measures against that.

Israel did not. It was not just carelessness either: it went after things like water treatment plants that were a threat to no one.

The Israelis called the report “one-sided” and unacceptable – months before it even came out! They would not help the UN one bit, which had to cross into Gaza from Egypt.

After the report came out Israel said it was “one-sided” (again), “inaccurate and flawed” and that it would derail the peace process (a lie: the Israeli government is hardly serious about peace). Sadly American Congressmen and even The Economist repeat the same words and excuses as the Israelis.

Hamas does not agree with everything in the report but accepts it. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and a Fatah man, says he will not hold a vote on the report till March 2010. He is seen as giving in to the Americans. That has led to protests (pictured below). In Gaza there are posters of Abbas with a black X across his face at which people throw their shoes.

protests

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200912292913320734_5The current war in Gaza (2008- ) started a few weeks ago on December 27th 2008 when Israel began to bomb Gaza. It seemed they were softening up Gaza for a land war, which now in fact has begun. Israel has cut Gaza in half and has sent its army into Gaza City.

Israel says Gaza has been sending rockets into Israel to kill people. It has. But not counting soldiers it had killed only 2 Israelis in 2008 before the war. Meanwhile Israel had killed over 80 Gazans in addition to Hamas fighters.

So, based on that threat, Israel made war on Gaza.

Both sides knew this war was long in coming. Israel tried to do it in 2006 but soon found its north bombed by Hezbollah of Lebanon. That quickly became a war against Lebanon, not Gaza.

Israel says it wants to destroy Hamas, the party that has ruled Gaza since 2007. That is what it says. What it is doing is destroying Gaza itself: most of the dead are not Hamas fighters. In fact up to 40% of them are women and children. Whole apartment blocks have been flattened. Israel has hit government buildings, police stations, schools, mosques and a university. In these days of Google Maps and GPS, it knows just what it is doing. It has even destroyed a United Nations school, killing at least 30, mostly children. It hit a clearly marked United Nations truck.

Before the war Israel, with American help, had pretty much cut off Gaza from the outside world. So Gaza is running out of medicine, oil and spare parts. There are long lines for bread. Most have no power or have it only for a short time every day; half have no running water.

What does Barack Obama say about all this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And what about President Bush? That Israel has the right to defend itself .

Defend itself from what? From home-made rockets with one of the top military machines in the world? A military that thinks one Jewish eye is worth a hundred Arab eyes?

boliganMeanwhile America gives Israel billions of dollars every year while Israel fights its wars with American arms. Everyone in the Middle East sees this and everyone knows it.

Americans wonder “Why do they hate us?” This is why – part of it. This is why 3000 Americans died on 9/11 – part of it. The other part is that America supports evil governments in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The war in Iraq does not help either.

Some say that Arabs and Jews have been fighting each other since forever, that it is too hard to understand.

No, it is not.

Where did the people in Gaza come from? From Israel. They are Arabs who were pushed off their land by the Jews. And now the little bit of the world they still have left – three and a half times the size of Disney World in a place the Bible calls Gath – is being destroyed too.

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The birth of Jesus Christ took place in the town of Bethlehem near Jerusalem. This is when Christians say that God, who created the heavens and the earth, became a baby, when God was made flesh.

For a long time people thought Christ was born on December 25th in the year 1. That is why Christmas, the day that marks his birth, falls on December 25th and why the years are numbered the way they are. But from what we know now, it seems more likely that he was born in the spring in about the year 7 BC.

Most of what we know about his birth comes from the Bible, the Christian holy book. Here is the story it tells:

Jesus Christ was born to Mary, a virgin. Even the Koran agrees on that point. The father was not Joseph, the man she was about to marry, but the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel visited her and told her about it. She wondered why God chose her but, being a faithful servant of God, she accepted it.

Just before Mary was to give birth, the Romans, who ruled the land in those days, told everyone to go to the town of his birth to be counted. So Joseph and Mary left Nazareth, where they were living, and travelled to Bethlehem.

When they got to Bethlehem the town was full – there was no place for them to stay. So they wound up in a stable for animals. It was there that Mary gave birth to Jesus. He was not born in a palace to a princess but to a simple but pure woman in a stable.

The shepherds who were taking care of their sheep nearby heard about this from angels, who filled the night sky. They went to see.

When Jesus was born there was a strange star in the sky, called the Star of Bethlehem. There are different ideas about what it was, but whatever it was it brought three wise men from the east called magis. They gave him three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

King Herod found out from the three wise men that a king of the Jews was born in Bethlehem, meaning Jesus. Herod was only half Jewish and owed his power to the Romans. Jesus, on the other hand, was born of royal blood in the line of the greatest Jewish king of all time, King David.

Not wanting to take any chances King Herod had all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed. An angel warned Joseph. He took Mary and Jesus and fled to Egypt just in time. They came back after Herod died.

Right up till the day of he died many expected Jesus to make himself king and free the Jews from Roman rule. It turned out very differently. He was not here to free Jews from Romans, but man from sin.

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