Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

A very strong energy drink


During the ceasefire Palestinians try to dig up any remains of what was a home: photo via Layan Baker via twitter, 12 August 2014

For Israeli arms makers, Gaza war is a cash cow: Haaretz, 11 August 2014

Far from the fighting in the Gaza Strip and the rocket attacks that have pummeled Israel from south to the Sharon, some 300 employees of Israel Military Industries in Nazareth haven’t left their assembly lines for a minute in the past four weeks. They have been working in shifts, 24 hours a day, to ensure a regular supply of 5.56 mm bullets to Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Others have been hard at work turning out highly sophisticated Kalanit and Hatzav tank shells for the Artillery Corps. The shells, which are fired above the heads of militants armed with anti-tank weapons, exploding in midair above them and releasing shrapnel, were both used on a massive scale for the first time in Operation Protective Edge.

A shell lies on the ground at the heavily damaged Sobhi Abu Karsh school in Gaza City's al-Shejaea neighborhood on August 5, 2014
: photo by Mohammed Abed / AFP, 5 August 2014

For some years now the state-owned IMI has had an image problem, in part due to it[s] enormous debts and management’s cozy ties with the union locals and the political establishment. Next to the two other big government-owned defense companies, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, until recently IMI looked decided[ly] dowdy, low-tech and crony-ridden. Three months ago the state signed a recovery accord with IMI, which offered a generous severance package of 1.3 million shekels ($370,000) to any employee who took voluntary early retirement. Early next year the government plans to hold a tender to privatize the company, and by early 2016 IMI should be in private hands. 

A Palestinian man inspects the damage of his flat in the destroyed Nada Towers residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Monday, August 11, 2014, after a new temporary truce took hold: photo by Khalil Hamra / AP, 11 August 2014

Image aside, for several years IMI has very quietly been developing more sophisticated products than bullets, rifles or hand grenades. For example, its new, super-smart MPR-500 multipurpose rigid bomb, which is designed to penetrate reinforced concrete structures and other difficult targets, was first used operationally in Protective Edge. Today, back orders for the bomb total 5.6 billion shekels.

IMI has built the foundations for a more successful business, and in a market where violence erupts every few years a new round of violence erupts, a dependable customer with the IDF and a classroom to test its equipment.

“IMI cooperates with the IDF and the defense establishment in adapting quick solutions for changing needs,” says UMI chairman Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Adam. “The defense industry is in a perpetual learning mode together with the IDF and the Defense Ministry to examine the weapons systems that were introduced for initial operational use in Operation Protective Edge, as well as weapons systems that have been in operational use for a long time.” 

This photo was taken from my home my home. Poisonous gas was being fired against civilians: photo via Dr Hasan Mustafa on twitter, 12 August 2014 

“Battle-tested” is the best marketing slogan for defense industries the world over, so for Israeli military manufacturers Operation Protective Edge has yielded a major competitive edge.

A Palestinian man cleans up a room in his sister's house as bullet casings left by Israeli soldiers are found on the floor, in Rafah's district of Shawkah, on August 5, 2014: photo by Khalil Hamra / AP, 5 August 2014

“For the defense industries this campaign is like drinking a very strong energy drink -- it simply gives them tremendous forward momentum,” says Barbara Opall-Rome, Israel bureau chief for the U.S. magazine Defense News. “Combat is like the highest seal of approval when it comes to the international markets. What has proven itself in battle is much easier to sell. Immediately after the operation, and perhaps even during, all kinds of delegations arrive here from countries that appreciate Israel’s technological capabilities and are interested in testing the new products.” 

A Palestinian man walks past the remains of a mosque, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike before a 72-hour truce, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip August 11, 2014. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

A Palestinian man walks past the remains of a mosque, which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike before a 72-hour truce, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip August 11, 2014: photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters, 11 August 2014

That was also the opinion of veteran military correspondent Amir Rapaport, editor of Israel Defense, which covers the local defense industry. “From a business point of view, the operation was an outstanding thing for the defense industries,” he says. “There are two main reasons for that. First, the cloud of budget cuts and project cancellations has been lifted. I believe that after the operation, Israel’s defense budget will be increased and projects that were frozen will be revived. Second, during the weeks of the war, new products were introduced for the army’s use. The war is an opportunity to cut red tape. Weapons systems that have long been under development suddenly became operational during the course of the fighting."

For Israeli arms makers, Gaza war is a cash cow: Shuki Sadeh, Haaretz, 11 August 2014

A drawing on the wall in the house of the Abu Louli family, who say it was left by Israeli soldiers, in Rafah's district of Shawkah in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014: photo by Khalil Hamra / AP, 5 August 2014

A Palestinian woman stands in the rubble of her destroyed home in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. An Egyptian-brokered cease-fire halting the Gaza war held into Monday morning, allowing Palestinians to leave homes and shelters as negotiators agreed to resume talks in Cairo: photo by Hatem Moussa / AP, 11 August 2014

Gaza homes 'uninhabitable' as tens of thousands come back to rubble
United Nations says the level of destruction is 'unprecedented' as 30,000 people in Beit Hanoun alone must be rehoused
Jason Burke in Beit Lahia, The Guardian, 11 August 2014

Tens of thousands of people across Gaza have returned to their homes as a tenuous ceasefire held and hopes rose of an end to the month-long conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Local officials and humanitarian workers began to inspect the damage the war had caused in the overcrowded enclave, with initial assessments indicating earlier estimates may have been optimistic.

Gaza City, which has a population of half a million, between 20 and 25% of the housing stock has been damaged, said Nihad al-Mughni, head of the engineering department.
Mohammed al-Kafarna, the mayor of Beit Hanoun, a northern town which saw fierce fighting and heavy bombardment, said 70% of homes were "uninhabitable".

"Basically the town is unliveable. There is no power, water or communications. There are not the basics for life," he said.

"Our life has been killed": Al Batsh family returns to rubble of home during ceasefire. 18 died here: photo via Falasteen on twitter, 12 August 2014

In Shawkat, a neighbourhood of Rafah city in the south which saw heavy fighting after an earlier ceasefire collapsed within hours, 300 out of 2000 houses had been destroyed, along with the town hall.

"You can't imagine the destruction," said Adel Lubda, the chief council engineer.

Previous estimates of 65,000 rendered homeless in Gaza now look conservative. In Beit Hanoun alone, around 30,000 people will have to be rehoused. The town is just one of around a dozen communities lying in the three kilometre "free fire zone" declared by Israeli troops during the most intense period of fighting to have been devastated.
Gaza has a population of 1.8 million and already suffered from a chronic shortage of housing before this latest conflict, the third in six years between Hamas and Israel.
On Monday, the United Nations called the level of destruction "unprecedented."

During the ceasefire Palestinians try to dig up any remains of what was a home: photo via Layan Baker via twitter, 12 August 2014

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza continued until the ceasefire agreed late on Sunday evening by Hamas under heavy Egyptian pressure came into effect. Israeli military officials said they had attacked "terrorist targets". Around 20 people have been killed since the previous truce expired on Friday. More than 1,900 Palestinians have died, mostly civilians, in the war.
Militant factions allied to Hamas fired mid-range rockets and mortars into Israel over the weekend. More than 3,000 rockets have now been launched from Gaza in recent weeks, killing three in Israel. Sixty four Israeli soldiers were killed.

Humanitarian agencies say so far they have been restricted to "firefighting". Nadia Dibsy, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said it had been impossible to properly assess the overall magnitude of the damage.

North of Beit Lahia on Monday, people picked through the ruins of a series of apartment blocks facing the border with Israel, which have been almost totally destroyed.

Ibrahim Jassa, 33, said he had been "completely ruined."

"I have nothing, except seven children. No job, no home, just the clothes we were wearing when we left," the unemployed labourer said. 

When I returned to my home after 3 weeks of evacuation, I found this: photo via Dr Hasan Mustafa on twitter, 12 August 2014

Sabr al-Gharboui said three apartments she had shared with her sons had all been reduced to rubble. "I have no idea what we will do. We just hope the ceasefire will hold. But what happens next? That's what worried us," the 53-year-old said.

Though local electricity engineers were hopeful of restoring power supply to its pre-war levels of six to 10 hours a day to some areas, it may take years to recommission Gaza's only power station, which was destroyed on 29 July. Pumping stations, power transmission networks and water pipes have all been badly damaged. One major sewage outflow pipe, serving nearly half a million people, has been severed. Huge quantities of raw sewage are flowing into the sea or onto fields.

"Access to clean water has always been a challenge. Now it is a scarcity," said Dibsy of the ICRC.

More than 200,000 remain in UN-run shelters, afraid or unable to return home, with many more staying with relatives. Food prices have risen sharply since the start of the war as fields are inaccessible or full of unexploded ordnance and farms have been badly damaged.

But shops and markets across Gaza were busy on Monday, with restaurants opening for the first time for a month.

The lack of a definitive end to hostilities will mean crucial material needed for reconstruction cannot enter Gaza. The import of cement and other construction materials is a particularly contentious issue as Israel believes Hamas will use it to build cross-border tunnels which threaten its security. More than 30 such tunnels were destroyed during the conflict, Israel has said.

Health provision in Gaza has been particularly badly hit. Ten out of 26 hospitals, comprising 40% of total beds in Gaza, have been shut, officials said, and only a handful reopened.

 Gaza hospitals in dire need of medical supplies: photo via PressTV on twitter, 12 August 2014

In Beit Hanoun, the 60-bed hospital was shut after being hit by shell fire. On Monday, staff swept glass away as they prepared to open a five-bed emergency ward. The hospital had dealt with 348 dead or injured before being closed and was now short of all basic medical supplies, said Dr Ayman Hamdian, the director.

Israel says such supplies can reach Gaza despite the blockade imposed since 2006 and tightened in 2007. Lifting this blockade is a key demand of Hamas.

The concession Hamas most want from Israel, officials from the group have told the Guardian, is the right to build a port and airport in Gaza -- facilities promised to the Palestinians under the Oslo peace deal but currently ruled out by Israel as a potential security threat.

Israel has demanded that Hamas disarm, which the Islamist organisation has said is "out of the question".

Scores of victims of this most recent conflict are still being treated in the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. They include Yasmin al-Bakri, 11, and her sister Hanin, 9, who were seriously injured when their family tried to flee intense shelling of their neighbourhood in Shuja'iyeh. Five family members, including their mother and two sisters, were killed.

The older of the two girls will recover from 15% burns and a fractured arm, doctors said. Hanin, however, has head injuries, facial burns and may lose her hand.

Another woman, whose seven-year old niece is now paralysed from the neck down, said she welcomed the ceasefire.

"There has been enough killing," said Umm Ibrahim.

Embedded image permalink

UNRWA counselors in Gaza discovering psychological damage is more devastating than the physical and may outlive it: photo by UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness on twitter, 8 August 2014

United Nations Relief Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness tweets, 9 August 2014:

Staggering impact of Gaza blockade: in 2000 fewer than 80,000 people relied on UNRWA for food aid. Today it's over 830,000.
Gaza update: 27,396 displaced left UNRWA schools. Currently, 209,522 IDPs in 88 shelters. There is a massive homelessness crisis.
Gaza education on hold: even if hostilities stopped now and all displaced left UNRWA shelters the school year would not start on 24 August.
More evidence of damage/destruction of Gaza homes: 238,097 IDPs now in 90 UNRWA schools, an increase today of 16,543 as people return.
Repairing and rebuilding public infrastructure in Gaza; water, sewage and electricity is an urgent priority. Without it people cannot go home.
Gaza's catastrophic human displacement crisis is morphing into housing crisis of epic proportions with homes of 65,000 people destroyed.
We need to wake from the self-imposed delusion that you can contain Gaza with humanitarian assistance. It is an unsustainable delusion.
It is time for the world to recognize the blindingly obvious; that the Gaza conflict requires a political solution.
In Gaza we are beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. All those responsible for the carnage and destruction must engage.
Huge swathes of Gaza have been levelled. We cannot rebuild it with our hands tied behind our backs. The blockade must end.
The last 7 years have shown that Gaza reconstruction under blockade is unsustainable. 

via Chris Gunness / UNRWA on twitter, 9 August 2014

373 thousand children in Gaza now require urgent counseling. Symptoms include bed wetting, clinging to parents and nightmares: photo via UNRWA USA on twitter, 12 August 2014

Amr and Abood were helping us to visit the UN schools. Now they become displaced!: photo via CemDM on twitter, 12 August 2014

A member of the Shabat family inspects the damage upon returning to the family house, destroyed by Israeli strikes in the town of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014: photo by Lefteris Pitarakis / AP, 5 August 2014

A Palestinian searches for salvageable items from the rubble of his home that was destroyed in Israeli strikes in Beit Lahiya on August 4, 2014: photo by Adel Hana / AP, 5 August 2014

Palestinians inspect the damage at Nada Towers, in a residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014, the damaged minaret of the Al-Azba mosque in the background: photo by Lefteris Pitarakis / AP, 5 August 2014

The ruins of destroyed houses in the Shejaia neighborhood, east of Gaza City, on August 5, 2014: photo by Mohammed Salem / Reuters, 5 August 2014

Palestinians sit next to their destroyed house after returning to the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the east of Gaza City, on August 5, 2014: photo by Mohammed Salem / Reuters, 5 August 2014 

A donkey stands inside a destroyed shop in the northern Gaza Strip on August 5, 2014, as a 72-hour humanitarian truce went into effect: photo by Mahmud Hams /AFP, 5 August 2014

Backdropped by the damaged minaret of the Al-Azba mosque, a Palestinian smokes a cigarette as he sits on rubble of the Nada Towers, at a residential neighborhood in the town of Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014. Israel and Hamas began observing a 72-hour cease-fire on Tuesday that sets the stage for talks in Egypt on a broader deal on the Gaza Strip, including a sustainable truce and the rebuilding of the battered, blockaded coastal territory: photo by Lefteris Pitarakis / AP, 5 August 2014

During the ceasefire Palestinians try to dig up any remains of what was a home: photo via Layan Baker via twitter, 12 August 2014


Maureen said...

The devastation is overwhelming. How can anyone read the figures of the cost of this war and think anything has been "won"? That a defense budget is propped up by taking lives?! I'm at a loss for more words.

Lord Charlie said...

When there's a truce in Gaza, will we turn our attention to the mass genocide in Syria -- more than 100,000 killed? Or to the kidnapping and enslavement of women in Africa? Or to what sharia means?

TC said...

"How can anyone read the figures of the cost of this war and think anything has been 'won'?"

Maureen, I had first titled this post "The side that wins in every war".

The side I meant: that of the war profiteers who make and sell the weapons.

Lord Charlie, among the tired cynical gambits repeatedly and cynically deployed by the Zionists -- and by this I mean Zionists of all nationalities, including the American citizens whose support for this unforgivable continuing atrocity, conducted against against a whole people, is the only thing making that atrocity possible -- is the suggestion that a massive wrong is somehow cancelled out by another massive wrong.

This is illogical as well as insulting; the horror in Syria is not being done in my name, or with the support of my pitiful taxes.

(When you say "we", I take it you mean "me"?)

You can't possibly be referring to yourself, as it appears your attention never was on Gaza in the first place, any more than was the attention of the weapons makers, whose "patriotic" motive was profit -- for themselves.

I take it you did not read this post.

It is a document showing that the Israeli war profiteers are using living people and their society as guinea pigs in a weapons testing laboratory.

The ideal classroom testing environment for a very strong energy drink.

Thanks for the great attempt at stand-up Hasbara, but as they say in the business -- Get the Hook.


As it's plain that those who come here these days solely to quarrel never pause to consider the content of the posts before repeating the same automatic diversionary refrain, I expect that those who most need the enlightenment won't take the time to look at this contribution to the debate sent on this morning by the great British poet Tom Raworth:

"I hadn't read this guy's book but I listened to bits of this as other important stuff like Obama mourning Mork went on..."

An Honest Israeli Jew Tells the Real Truth about Israel

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

I’m relieved to hear Israel’s defense industry is in a perpetual learning mode—makes me feel better knowing that the IDF is using its smarts working overtime finding smarter ways to wake up Gaza’s sleeping residents with a bang—and with nary a whimper from the likes of Obama, EU and Co Ltd. (Oh, but the Ukraine really hurts, dude.)

Lord Charlie said...

I think I see what you mean. You feel that your taxes pay for this devastation. The adjective "pitiful" should modify your guilt if that is a contributing factor. But my point stands. That is, the questions I asked are not rhetorical, and the "we" is deliberate. I was not writing as a "tired cynical" enemy but as a citizen of the world.

TC said...

My partner in this microscopic nonprofit cottage industry is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, so she's always interested in the news of the Israeli atrocities executed in the name of the sufferings of those who died or were displaced long before the invention of Total Hasbara (she, like others in a similar position who are fairminded, regrets the misuse and distortion of historical memories as pretext for apartheid and aggression). She found Miko Peled's testimony of interest, as, obviously, had our friend TR. And indeed the story is worth considering. But only if you have an open mind. If on the other hand you don't have the time, interest or patience to consider the truth, perhaps it would be better not to pretend to be interacting with those outside your personal / professional interest group.

Maybe it's easier to ignore a video link than a bit of text.

This from a Haaretz story last year about Miko Peled:

If Miko Peled’s memoir "The General’s Son" were made into a movie, it would open with this scene: In his San Diego home in 1997, while casually watching CNN, he catches a glimpse of a young girl on a stretcher.

There’s been a suicide bombing on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem. As if on cue, he receives a phone call from his mother in Israel saying that his 13-year-old niece Smadar, daughter of his sister Nurit, is missing. Somehow, he knows instinctively she’s the girl he saw on TV.

This fear is confirmed several agonizing hours later, when her body is found at a morgue.

He must fly back to Israel immediately, as the state funeral for the granddaughter of General Matti Peled, the Independence War hero who later became a far-left politician, awaits his return.

Among those expressing condolences is Benjamin Netanyahu – a close childhood friend of his sister Nurit. His politics make him an unwelcome guest in the home where the family is sitting shiva. But among the mourners who greet his family is Ehud Barak, the newly elected leader of the opposition, who explains that in order to win votes he must disguise his real intentions as a “peacemaker.”

Suddenly galvanized by his niece’s death into reviving the activism he [had] flirted with as a young IDF commando – disillusioned with the abuse of Palestinians he’d witnessed and the first Lebanon war – Peled blurts out to the future prime minister, “Why not tell the truth ... That this and similar tragedies are taking place because we are occupying another nation and that in order to save lives the right thing to do is to end the occupation and negotiate a just peace with our Palestinian partners?”

Barak dismisses his outburst as political naivete.

This moment in 1997 marks the beginning of a powerful personal and political journey...

TC said...


A key turning point in the Peled narrative was a decision he made, as a burgeoning young activist and earnest student of karate, one night in 1983. To avoid missing his karate class, a young Peled decided to forgo attending a Peace Now demonstration in Jerusalem. That night, a right-wing extremist threw a grenade at the crowd, killing activist Emil Grunzweig and injuring several others.

Peled took this as a sign, and followed the path of karate – a practice of non-violence, he says, that teaches one to “overcome insurmountable obstacles” – one that took him to Japan and eventually to San Diego, where he settled with his wife and family.

But the shock of his niece’s death jolted him back into Middle Eastern reality. “The activist side of me that I’d been suppressing,” he explains, “suddenly burst out. It became stronger than anything.”

His sister Nurit’s adamant stance that the occupation was to blame for her daughter’s death was also a key factor.

“She said, ‘no real mother would want this to happen to another mother,” recalls Peled, “and for me that crystallized how morally unjustifiable retaliation is.”

He began to question many of the assumptions he grew up with, even in a relatively radical household where he came of age going to Land Day protests with his father, and defending him when schoolmates called him a “traitor.”

Eventually he sought out and joined a Jewish/Arab discussion group in San Diego, and found that the Jewish Americans he met – with their “New York humor and deli food” – were more foreign than the hummus, tabouleh and warm hospitality offered by his new Palestinian friends. He was shocked by random anti-Arab venom spewed casually by Jewish Americans he met who assumed he shared their views, in an atmosphere of growing Islamophobia.

In his San Diego dialogue group, he found a worthy partner in Nader Elbanna, a Palestinian from Nazareth who accompanied him on a dual lecture series at rotary clubs – one that led to organizing shipments of wheelchairs to Israel/Palestine. Soon frustrated by the limitations of humanitarianism, Peled gravitated toward activism. Despite his “deeply ingrained fears” of traveling alone in Palestinian areas, he found himself instead warmly welcomed by nonviolent protestors in Bil'in and then detained by Israeli soldiers for illegally entering Area A.

When he was brought before an Israeli policeman, the policeman chided the soldiers saying, “Look, he's an Israeli citizen and has rights. It’s not a Palestinian that I can just beat up and throw in prison.”

Peled went on to teach karate to Palestinian children in refugee camps, often overwhelmed by the brutality they faced under occupation but impressed by their resilience and “heroism.”

Following in the footsteps of his father, a Zionist hero, toward a free and democratic Palestine (Hadani Ditmars: Haaretz, 8 April 2013)

TC said...

Our friend Aram Saroyan reminds us that the perception of the historical relation between war making and business opportunity is not something that's been achieved solely by Haartez and me.

The connection has been noted -- and in some sectors regretted, in others ignored, in others wilfully concealed -- for some time now.

"Randolph Bourne, circa 1914: 'War is the health of the state.' It’s endless..."