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500,000 Gaza Children Lose Their Schools: 504 Gaza Children Lose Their Lives

August 31st, 2014 - by admin

UNESCO Press Release & – 2014-08-31 23:58:02


Gaza: 500,000 Children Unable to Return to School
UNESCO Press Release

(August 27, 2014) — More than one million Palestinian students were expected to return to school on 24 August, but classes will remain closed in the conflict-stricken coastal enclave, denying these nearly 500,000 children their right to education.

“Going back to school means bringing back normalcy to children. For this we need a durable ceasefire, and we must meet the most pressing needs for the rapid recovery of the education system,” said Lodovico Folin Calabi, Acting Head of the UNESCO Office in Ramallah.

Since the beginning of the conflict on 8 July, at least 219 schools have been damaged, 22 of which so severely that they can no longer be used.

Among those still standing, 103 have been turned into collective shelters for some 330,000 displaced people, half of whom are children.

“This is the time when children should be in school to study, not to try and survive armed conflict”

“This is the time when children should be in school to study, not to try and survive armed conflict,” said David and Paulette Hassell, Co-Country Directors of Save the Children, who together with UNICEF co-lead the Education Cluster co-ordinating humanitarian action in the sector.

“This has been a dangerous summer for Palestinian children in Gaza, who could not even go outside to play. School is a vital lifeline to these traumatized children, which plays a key role in their healing,” the Hassells added.

The education sector was already in a crisis point prior to this escalation, suffering from a shortage of almost 200 schools, with nearly 80 per cent of classes running double shifts to deal with the high number of students.

The closure of Gaza has prevented desperately-needed new schools from being built, and it will impair reconstruction efforts if urgent action is not taken.

“Education is the foundation of any society. To invest in education is to invest in peace and stability. For this, the humanitarian community needs the ability to quickly bring in materials and equipment required for the repair, reconstruction and building of schools in Gaza on a large scale,” said June Kunugi, UNICEF Special Representative in the State of Palestine.

330,000 people forced to find refuge in schools — – 70,000 of whom have nowhere to go after their homes were destroyed

According to current estimates, the school term will not resume until at least two or three weeks into a durable ceasefire. Schools currently used as shelters will require varying degrees of rehabilitation in order to be ready for normal schooling. Initial repairs must also be carried out in war-damaged schools, and unexploded ordnance needs to be cleared to restore safety.

A solution also needs to be found for the 330,000 people forced to find refuge in schools — – 70,000 of whom have nowhere to go after their homes were destroyed — – and to support longer-term, extensive rehabilitation and refurbishment of damaged school buildings.

Students must be given a chance to heal from the trauma of having lost loved ones and the pressures of daily attacks and displacement. With nearly half of Gaza’s children suffering mental distress, psychosocial support will have to be included in the school curriculum to support the uphill struggle to heal children’s psychological scars. This will only be possible once students are able to resume classes and their lives.

The Names of the Children Killed in Gaza
During 50 Days of Conflict

As a ceasefire is agreed after 50 days of conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights has compiled a list of 504 children killed in Gaza — almost a quarter of the total Palestinian dead

Andrew Marszal / The Telegraph

(August 26, 2014) — During a 50-day offensive, Israeli ground forces and strike aircraft have bombarded targets across the Gaza Strip. As well as Hamas bunkers and rocket launching facilities, civilian homes, schools and hospitals have all been hit.

About half of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are children under the age of 18. In a territory that measures only 25 miles in length and seven in width at its broadest point, civilians have not been able to escape the fighting. As a result, children comprise a quarter of the total Palestinian dead.

In all, at least 521 have been killed since the onset of Israel’s offensive on July 8, according to the Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights in Gaza.

The name, age, gender, and location and date of death are listed above for 504 Palestinian child victims.
Hamas rockets killed one Israeli child, four-year-old Daniel Tregerman.

The list will be updated.

Amad Nae’l Mahdi 16 M
Hussein Yousef Kawari’ 12 M
Basil Salem Kawari’ 9 M
Abdullah Mohammed Kawari’ 12 M
Qasim Jabr Kawari’ 11 M
Seraj Iyad Abdel ‘Al 8 M
Mohammed Ibrahim Al Masri 14 M
Aseel Ibrahim Al Masri 15 F
Yasmin Mohammed Al Mutawaq 3 F
Mohammed Mustafa Malaka 2 M
Ameer Iyad Areef 12 M
Mohammed Iyad Areef 10 M
Nidal Khalaf Al Nawasra 4 M
Mohammed Khalaf Al Nawasra 2 M
Raneem Jawdat Abdel Ghafoor 1 F
Sulaiman Saleem Al Astal 17 M
Musa Mohammed Al Astal 15 M
Meryam Atiyyeh Al ‘Arja 9 F
Abdullah Ramadan Abu Ghazal 4 M
Abdel Rahman Bassam Khattab 6 M
Saad Mahmoud Al Haj 17 M
Fatima Mahmoud Al Haj 14 F
Ismail Hasan Abu Jame’ 17 M
Saher Salman Abu Namous 2 M
Anas Yousef Qandeel 17 M
Nour Marwan Al Najdi 10 F
Safa Mustafa Malaka 6 F
Anas Alaa’ Al Batsh 7 M
Manar Majid Al Batsh 13 F
Marwa Majid Al Batsh 7 F
Amal Bahaa’ Al Batsh 1.5 F
Qusai Issam Al Batsh 12 M
Mohammed Issam Al Batsh 17 M
Hossam Ibrahim An-Najjar 15 M
Mu’ayyad Khalid Al A’raj 2.5 M
Ziyad Maher An Najjar 17 M
Sara Jehad Sheikh Al Eid 4 F
Hamza Ra’ed Thary 5 M
Ahed Attaf Bakr 10 M
Zakariya ‘Ahed Bakr 10 M
Mohammed Ramiz Bakr 11 M
Ismail Mohammed Bakr 10 M
Ibrahim Ramadan Abu Daqqa 10 M
Yasmeen Mahmoud Al Astal 5 F
Hosam Mahmoud Al Astal 8 M
Afnan Wesam Shuheebar 8 F
Jehad Issam Shuheebar 11 M
Waseem Issam Shuheebar 8 M
Mohammed Ibrahim Intaiz 13 M
Mohammed Salem Intaiz 13 M
Yamin Riyad Al Hamidi 4 M
Rahaf Khalil Al Jbour 4 F
Mohammed Ismail Abu Msallam 15 M
Walaa’ Ismail Abu Msallam 14 F
Ahmad Ismail Abu Msallam 11 M
Mousa Abdel Rahman Abu Jarad 8 months M
Haniya Abdel Rahman Abu Jarad 2 F
Sameeh Na’eem Abu Jarad 1.5 M
Ahlam Mosa Abu Jarad 17 F
Samar Na’eem Abu Jarad 14 F
Qasim Hamed Ulwan 4 M
Emad Hamed Ulwan 7 M
Rezeq Ahmad Al Hayik 1.5 M
Sara Mohammed Bostan 10 F
Abdallah Jamal Al Smeeri 17 M
Amjad Salim Shaath 15 M
Faris Jom’a Al Tarabeen 3 months M
Omar Eed Al Mahmoum 17 M
Seham Ahmad Zourob 11 F
Mohammed Ziyad Al Rahl 5 M
Mohammed Rafeeq Al Rahl 17 M
Omar Jameel Hamouda 10 M
Nagham Mahmoud Al Zweedi 12 F
Ru’ya Mahmoud Al Zweedi 6 F
Waseem Rida Salhiyeh 15 M
Mohammed Bassam Al Sorri 17 M
Mahmoud Anwar Abu Shabab 16 M
Dina Omar Azeez 5 F
Aya Bahjat Abu Sultan 17 F
Khalil Usama Al Hayya 5 M
Hamza Usama Al Hayya 4 M
Amama Usama Al Hayya 6 F
Marwa Suleiman Al Sirsawi 12 F
Dina Adel Isleem 3 F
Heba Hamed Al Shiekh Khalil 14 F
Tala Ahmed Al I’tiwi 10 F
Dina Rushdi Hamada 16 F
Saji Hassan Al Hallaq 4 M
Kenan Hasan Al Hallaq 6 M
Mohammed Hani Al Hallaq 2 M
Ibrahim Khalil Ammar 13 M
Iman Khalil Ammar 9 F
Asem Khalil Ammar 4 M
Rahaf Akram Abu Jom’a 4 F
Abdel Rahman Al Iskafi 12 M
Marah Shakir Al Jammal 10 F
Ahmed Sofyan Al Jammal 9 M
Samia Ahmed Al Sheikh Khalil 2 F
Shadi Ziyad Isleem 16 M
Fadi Ziyad Isleem 10 M
Ali Ziyad Isleem 11 M
Mohammed Rami Ayyad 3 M
Mohammed Ashraf Ayyad 3 M
Najiyeh Jehad Al Helou 15 F
Maram Ahmed Al Helou 2 F
Kareem Ahmed Al Helou 5 months M
Karam Ahmed Al Helou 5 months M
Nirmeen Majid Daher 10 F
Othman Raed Al Jammal 11 M
Ghada Subhi Ayyad 13 F
Azmi Khalid Badwan 16 M
Sha’ban Jamil Ziyada 12 F
Mohammed Ayman Al Sha’ir 6 M
Heba Akram Al Sha’ir 7 F
Razan Tawfeeq Abu Jame’ 14 F
Jawdat Tawfeeq Abu Jame’ 13 M
Aya Tawfeeq Abu Jame’ 12 F
Haifaa’ Tawfeeq Abu Jame’ 9 F
Tawfeeq Tawfeeq Abu Jame’ 4 M
Ahmed Tawfeeq Abu Jame’ 8 M
Ayyoub Tayseer Abu Jame’ 10 M
Nujoud Tayseer Abu Jame’ 6 months F
Fatima Tayseer Abu Jame’ 8 F
Rayan Tayseer Abu Jame’ 2 M
Rinad Tayseer Abu Jame’ 1.5 F
Batoul Bassam Abu Jame’ 4 F
Suheila Bassam Abu Jame’ 2 F
Bisan Bassam Abu Jame’ 1 F
Sajed Yasser Abu Jame’ 7 M
Seraj Yasser Abu Jame’ 4 M
Sarraa’ Yasser Abu Jame’ 3 F
Nour Yasser Abu Jame’ 2 F
Hosam Hosam Abu Qeenas 7 M
Anas Mahmoud Mu’ammar 17 M
Abdallah Yousef Daraji – Al Moghrabi 2 M
Mohammed Rajaa’ Handam 15 M
Yasmin Nayif Al Yazji 4 F
Hatem Nayif Al Yazji 3 M
Arwa Yasser Al Qassas 4 F
Samar Yasser Al Qassas 3 F
Israa’ Yasser Al Qassas 7 F
Yasmeen Yasser Al Qassas 10 F
Nesma Iyad Al Qassas 10 F
Lamya Iyad Al Qassas 13 F
Yasin Ibrahim Al Kilani 9 M
Yasser Ibrahim Al Kilani 7 M
Sawsan Ibrahim Al Kilani 11 F
Reem Ibrahim Al Kilani 12 F
Ilyas Ibrahim Al Kilani 4 M
Dana Mohammed Daher 1 F
Abdallah Abu Hjayyir 16 M
Alaa’ Abdel Majeed Abu Dahrouj 17 M
Othman Salim Bree’im 17 M
Fadi Azmi Bree’im 17 M
Ghaidaa’ Nabil Siyam 7 F
Mustafa Nabil Siyam 9 M
Abdel Rahman Nabil Siyam 6 M
Dalal Nabil Siyam 9 months F
Ahmed Ayman Siyam 15 M
Ameen Ayman Siyam 17 M
Iyad Mohamemd Sabbah 17 M
Fatima Ahmad Al Arja 16 F
Mona Rami Ikhriwat 1.5 F
Shahd Mu’een Qishta 9 F
Mohammed Ahmad Al Baddi 3 months M
Mahmoud Ahmad Al Qassas 10 M
Abdel Nasser Sa’di Meslih 17 M
Nour Ra’ed Abu Hwishil 6 M
Obaida Fadel Abu Hwishil 9 M
Ibtihal Ibrahim Al Rmahi 3 F
Iman Ibrahim Al Rmahi 15 F
Wesam Alaa’ Al Najjar 17 M
Mu’een Mohammed Siyam 5 M
Khalaf Atiyeh Abu Snaimeh 16 M
Rabee’ Qasim Abu Ras 9 M
Salma Rajab Al Radee’ 6 F
Ayman Adham ElHaj Ahmad 16 M
Hazem Na’eem Aqil 15 M
Rawan Ayman Sweedan 7 F
Jana Rami Al Maqat’a 3 F
Mahmoud Mansour Al Bashiti 7 M
Zeinab Safwat Abu Teer 4 F
Mohammed Ahmed Abu Shaqra 17 M
Adham Ahmad Abu Eeta 4 M
Hadi Abdel Hameed Rab El-Nabi 3 M
Abdel Rahman Mahmoud Rab El-Nabi 1 M
Mohammed Jehad Matar 12 M
Amna Jehad Matar 11 F
Do’aa Ra’ed Abu Odeh 17 F
Meryam Shayboub Al Shinbari 11 F
Abed-Rabbo Shayboub Al Shinbari 16 M
Ali Shayboub Al Shinbari 9 M
Abed-Rabbo Jamal Al Shinbari 17 M
Soha Abed-Rabbo Meslih 2 F
Mohammed Akram Al Kafarneh 15 M
Mahmoud Ismail Al Astal 17 M
Nada Tha’ir Al Astal 5 F
Ameen Tha’ir Al Astal 4 M
Anas Hatim Qdeeh 7 M
Mahmoud Sulaiman Al Astal 17 M
Ahmad Mohammed Al Najjar 17 M
Mahmoud Jehad Abdeen 12 M
Nabil Mahmoud Al Astal 13 M
Ameer Adel Siyam 12 M
Mohammed Ahmad Siyam 7 M
Ibrahim Abdel Rahman Al Sama’neh 17 M
Waleed Sa’ad Al Harazeen 8 M
Abdel Kareem Anwar Al Darazeen 5 M
Mohammed Anwar Al Darazeen 3 M
Nour Mohammed Abu Dbagh 12 M
Ahmad Ramzi Abu Qadous 13 M
Walaa’ Mohammed Al Qabid 15 F
Ahmed Mohammed Al Qabid 11 M
Ahmed Waleed Sammour 9 M
Hadi Salah Abu Hasanein 12 M
Abdel Azeez Salah Abu Hasanein 14 M
Do’aa Sami Sa’ada 11 F
Anwar Abdel Qader Younis 2 M
Ameer Hamoudeh Abu Shahla 2 M
Islam Hamoudeh Abu Shahla 3 F
Ameera Hamoudeh Abu Shahla 1 F
Samir Hussein Al Najjar 1.5 M
Mutaz Hussein Al Najjar 6 M
Ghaliya Mohammed Al Najjar 1.5 F
Bara’a Salah Al Riqib 11 F
Rawan Khalid Al Najjar 17 F
Ahmad Khalid Al Najjar 14 M
Yousef Jamil Hamouda 15 M
Fadi Salim Baraka 14 M
Sameeh Jibreel Jneed 5 M
Yousef Emad Qadoura 11 M
Hind Emad Qadoura 10 F
Mohammed Mousa Olwan 9 M
Yousef Abdel Rahman Hassouna 11 M
Mahmoud Hazim Shbeer 12 M
Ahmed Hazim Shbeer 10 M
Jamal Salih I’lyan 8 M
Bara’ Akram Meqdad 7 M
Mohammed Nahidh Meqdad 13 M
Ahmed Jaber Washah 10 M
Mohammed Mahmoud Abu Shaqfeh 7 M
Mohammed Emad Baroud 10 M
Mansour Rami Hajjaj 9 M
Abdel Samad Mahmoud Ramadan 16 M
Hanan Salem Al Far 15 F
Ali Hasan Al Howari 11 M
Rami Khalid Al Riqib 16 M
Hussein Yasser Abu Saqer 16 M
Dalia Nader Al Agha 17 F
Dina Nader Al Agha 14 F
Iyad Nader Al Agha 17 M
Fadel Nader Al Agha 11 M
Tamer Ahmed Al Najjar 16 M
Israa’ Naeem Balata 13 F
Alaa’ Naeem Balata 14 F
Yehia Na’eem Balata 8 M
Hadeel Adbel Kareem Balata 17 F
Mohammed Abdel Nasser Al Ghandour 15 M
Jood Yousif Abu Eedeh 8 months F
Halima Mohammed Suleiman 1.5 F
Baraa’ Mohammed Suleiman 6 F
Haneen Hosam Hamouda 13 F
Rahaf Alaa’ Abed-Rabbo 2 F
Jamal Mohammed Abed-Rabbo 1.5 M
Ali Ahmed Shaheen 16 M
Aya Ismail Al Batsh 12 F
Mohammed Taleb Asaaf 8 M
Osama Ahmed Al Helu 5 M
Rahaf Mohammed Farahat 1 month F
Nada Izzo Al Ja’al 2 F
Mohammed Raed Abu Jabr 3 M
Sama Raed Abu Jabr 1.5 F
Toqa Salah Abu Jabr 1 F
Leen Anwar Abu Jabr 2.5 F
Salma Anwar Abu Jabr 1.5 F
Hala Ahmed Abu Jabr 6 F
Reeham Taysir Abu Mashi 14 F
Sara Ahmed Abdel Ghafour 1 F
Samaa’ Mohammed Al Najjar 15 F
Mohammed Atta Al Najjar 1 M
Rafeef Atta Al Najjar 3 F
Mona Jehad Al Najjar 1 F
Omar Waddah Abu ‘Amer 12 M
Abdel Ghani Waddah Abu ‘Amer 11 M
Emad Waddah Abu ‘Amer 10 M
Issa Waddah Abu ‘Amer 8 M
Ez Eddin Waddah Abu ‘Amer 4 M
Mohammed Ahmed Abu ‘Amer 12 M
Marah Ahmed Abu ‘Amer 10 F
Yasser Ahmed Abu ‘Amer 9 M
Marwa Ahmed Abu ‘Amer 5 F
Suleiman Ahmed Abu ‘Amer 2 M
Mohammed Jamil Al Najjar 12 M
Layali Wael Al Najjar 2 F
Jana Fayiz Breeka 3 F
Lama Fayiz Breeka 1 F
Hala Ahmed Mu’ammar 2 F
Yazan Ahmed Mu’ammar 3 M
Aya Sami Al Ramlawi 9 F
Mos’ab Ahmed Islaih 17 M
Mohammed Mustafa Abu Hammad 14 M
Mohannad Ashraf Al Qarra 17 M
Zaher Mahmoud Al Najjar 7 M
Abdallah Nidal Abu Zaid 4 F
Shama Wael Abu Zaid 16 F
Bisan Iyad Abu Zaid 12 F
Mohammed Omar Dheer 10 M
Maria Omar Dheer 12 F
Tasneem Mohamed Dheer 8 F
Mu’min Omar Dheer 9 M
Ghaidaa’ Omar Dheer 7 F
Salama Mahmoud Dheer 12 M
Mohammed Mahmoud Dheer 7 M
Arwa Mahmoud Dheer 16 F
Yamin Omar Dheer 5 M
Ibrahim Ahmed Al Hashash 15 M
Bilal Ahmed Al Hashash 16 M
Alaa’ Bahaa’ Al Ghareeb 16 M
Alaa’ Ramadan Khader Salman 17 F
Osama Mohammed Sihweel 17 M
Sujoid Abdel Hakim Olwan 11 F
Lama Ahmed Al Khalili 5 F
Deema Ashraf Al Khalili 4 F
Ziyad Ashraf Al Khalili 3 M
Leena Alaa’ Al Silik 9 F
Omniya Mohammed Al Silik 8 F
Malak Jalal Al Silik 7 F
Abdel Azeez Mohammed Al Silik 3 M
Abdel Haleem Mohammed Al Silik 5 M
Abed Wael Al Shamali 16 M
Shaimaa’ Ibrahim Al Sheikh Ali 1 week F
Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Khousa 1 M
Shahd Ibrahim Abu Khousa 10 F
Yazan Emad Abu Khousa 3 M
Retal Basheer Abu Khousa 1 F
Mohammed Mohammed Abu Shamala 9 M
Ibrahim Mu’tasim Kalloub 4 M
Mohammed Akram Al Smiri 14 M
Ibrahim Akram Al Smiri 10 M
Asmaa’ Abdel Haleem Abu Al Kas 15 F
Mayar Jamal Abu Msabeh 10 F
Salah Mousa Hejazi 8 M
Layan Nael Al Silik 3 F
Ola Jalal Al Silik 15 F
Nour Ezz Al Ja’al 5 F
Hosam Ra’fat N’eem 16 M
Mahmoud Ashraf Al Khalili 7 M
Hadeel Amer Al Bayoumi 14 F
Aseel Amer Al Bayoumi 16 F
Hasan Mohammed Al Bayoumi 14 M
Rinad Ashraf Al Assar 1.5 F
Lama Ra’fat Al Assar 7 F
Malak Shakir Abu Shouqa 2 F
Mohammed Ammar Shalat 10 M
Faris Mohammed Siyam 11 M
Othman Fawzi Abdeen 17 M
Sama Nael Al Birrawi 10 months M
Fayiz Tareq Yaseen 16 M
Mohammed Ahmed Al Neirab 14 M
Mu’men Ahmed Al Neirab 8 M
Mahmoud Ahmed Al Neirab 10 M
Lujayn Basim Al Farra 4 F
Abdel Rahman Basim Al Farra 8 M
Nadeen Mahmoud Al Farra 16 F
Mohammed Mahmoud Al Farra 12 M
Yara Mahmoud Al Farra 8 F
Maysoun Ra’fat Al Breem 7 F
Haytham Ahmed Al Smeeri 12 M
Raneen Ali Al Qarra 15 F
Fadi Nasser Al Qawasmeh 17 M
Omar Shakir Barbakh 15 M
Mu’tasim Mohammed Al Najjar 12 M
Nagham Shareef Al Namla 10 F
Jehad Suleiman Abu Omran 12 M
Khalil Ibrahim Sheikh El Eed 4 M
Aya Ibrahim Sheikh El Eed 5 F
Abdel Kareem Ibrahim Sheikh El Eid 2 M
Hala Bassm Madi 3 F
Jana Bassm Madi 2 F
Yousef Ahmed Madi 3 M
Ibrahim Anwar Al Sha’er 16 M
Emad Ahmed Ahmed 17 M
Yehia Salim Al Tarabin – Al Mahmoum 13 M
Do’aa Mustafa Al Mahmoum 4 F
Bisan Mustafa Al Mahmoum 12 F
Heba Mustafa Al Mahmoum 9 F
Obada Mustafa Al Mahmoum 2 M
Asmaa’ Salim Al Tarabin – Al Mahmoum 16 F
Ibrahim Suleiman Al Masri 5 M
Khalid Suleiman Al Masri 4 M
Mohammed Ahmed Abu Sha’ar 17 M
Anas Ibrahim Hammad 4 M
Mohammed Anas Arafat 5 months M
Ameer Ra’fat Zorob 15 M
Odai Ra’fat Zorob 13 M
Shahd Ra’fat Zorob 10 F
Khalid Ra’fat Zorob 8 M
Ahmed Mustafa Zorob 15 M
Mohammed Musrafa Zorob 12 M
Waleed Mustafa Zorob 6 M
Mu’tasim Musrafa Zorob 2 M
Rawan Nash’at Siyam 8 F
Rami Nash’at Siyam 15 F
Ameen Yousef Abu Madi 8 M
Yousef Shadi abu Madi 7 M
‘Hala Shadi Abu Madi 10 days F
Aseel Sofyan Ghaith 3 F
Nour Mohammed Abu ‘Assi 1 month M
Haitham Yasser Abedl Wahab 15 M
Ayman Yasser Abedl Wahab 13 M
Lama Yasser Abedl Wahab 9 F
Mohammed Yasser Abedl Wahab 2 M
Ibrahim Fathi Eeeta 13 M
Ahmed Fathi Eeeta 7 M
Mohammed Fathi Eeeta 5 M
Ibtisam Bassam Al Neirab 12 F
Doha Bassam Al Neirab 15 F
Ola Bassam Al Neirab 3 F
Mohammed Omar Salih 17 M
Rana Raed Abu Suleiman 10 F
Ahmed Rami Abu Suleiman 2 M
Lama Rami Abu Suleiman 3 F
Mohammed Rami Abu Suleiman 11 M
Jana Rami Abu Suleiman 3 F
Emad Naseem Saidam 17 M
Mohammed Nidal Abu Mehsin -Al Nims 17 M
Yousef Mahmoud Abu Taha 16 M
Riziq Ismail Abu Taha 1 M
Somoud Ahmed Al Roumi 5 F
Ameen Ahmed Al Roumi 15 M
Rajab Abdel Rahman Al Shrafi 9 M
Abdallah Abdel Hadi Al Majdalawi 13 M
Rawan Ahmed Al Majdalawi 9 F
Mahmoud Ahmed Al Majdalawi 8 M
Ahmed Mohammed Abu Nijm-Al Masri17 M
Raghad Mohammed Nijm-Al Masri 3 F
Shaimaa’ Wael Qasim 14 F
Remas Salem Khattab 5 F
Tareq Eid Abu Mashi 12 M
Dalia Atwa Khattab 13 F
Ismail Wael Al Ghoul 14 M
Mustafa Wael Al Ghoul 1 month M
Malak Wael Al Ghoul 6 F
Mahmoud Mohammed ‘Okal – Hejazi 9 M
Mohammed As’ad ‘Okal – Hejazi 10 M
Aya Mohammed Abu Rijl 3 F
Monthir Mohammed Abu Rijl 6 M
Saqr Bassam Al Kashif 7 M
Tareq Ziyad Abu Khatleh 15 M
Amr Tareq Abu Al Roos 15 M
Ahmed Khalid Abu Harba 14 M
Yousef Akram Al Iskafi 16 M
Ismail Sameer Shallouf 17 M
Muneer Khalil Abu Dbaa’ 14 M
Maria Mohammed Abu Jazar 2 F
Firas Mohammed Abu Jazar 2 M
Nour Bahjat Wahdan 2 F
Ghena Younis Saqr 2 F
Ahmed Hatim Wahdan 13 M
Hussein Hatim Wahdan 9 M
Aseel Mohammed Al Bakri 4 F
Asmaa’ Mohammed Al Bakri 4 months F
Mohammed Amjad Uwaida 13 M
Amal Amjad Uwaida 5 F
Hammam Mohammed Abu Suheeban 11 M
Kamal Ahmed Al Bakri 4 M
Khalid Ziyad Al Hindi 15 M
Osama Hussein Lafi 11 M
Ibrahim Ahmed Al Najjar 16 M
Ibrahim Zuheer Dawawsa 10 M
Bilal Bassam Mish’al 15 M
Mahmoud Maher Hassan 14 M
Mahmoud Mohammed Abu Haddaf 8 M
Mahmoud Khalid Abu Haddaf 15 M
Aya Anwar Al Sha’er 13 F
Ez Eddin Saleem Abu Sneima 12 M
Ahmed Mohammed Al Masri 14 M
Maidaa’ Mohammed Aslan 1.5 month F
Ali Mohammed Daif 7 months M
Mustafa Rabah Al Dalu 14 M
Nour Mahmoud Abu Haseera 2 F
Saher Mohammed Al ‘Abeet 11 M
Mohammed Emad Al ‘Abeet 15 M
Mustafa Ra’fat Al Louh 10 M
Maysara Ra’fat Al Louh 7 M
Farah Ra’fat Al Louh 6 M
Hassan Srour Tamboura 13 M
Abdallah Tareq Al Reefi 6 M
Ziyad Tareq Al Reefi 13 M
Omar Nasser Al Reefi 4 M
Ahmed Nasser Kellab 17 M
Yousef Nasser Kellab, 15 M
Abdallah Shehda Abu Dahrouj 3 M
Abdel Hadi Shehda Abu Dahrouj 2 M
Badr-Eddin Hashim Abu Mnee’ 17 M
Zeinab Bilal Abu Taqiya 1 F
Mohammed Wael Al Khodari 16 M
Hussein Khalid Ahmed 8 M
Tasneem Issam Joudeh 14 F
Raghad Issam Joudeh 12 F
Mohammed Issam Joudeh 8 M
Osama Issam Joudeh 6 M
Ahmed Radad Tanboura 15 M
Amna Radad Tanboura 13 F

Israel v. Gaza: The War for Nothing

August 31st, 2014 - by admin

Uri Avnery / Human Wrongs Watch – 2014-08-31 23:41:46

The War for Nothing

The War for Nothing
Uri Avnery / Human Wrongs Watch

(August 30, 2014) — After 50 days, the war is over. Hallelujah.

On the Israeli side: 71 dead, among them 66 soldiers, 1 child.

On the Palestinian side: 2,143 dead, 577 of them children, 263 women, 102 elderly. 11,230 injured. 10,800 buildings destroyed. 8,000 partially destroyed. About 40,000 damaged homes. Among the damaged buildings: 277 schools, 10 hospitals, 70 mosques, 2 churches. Also, 12 West Bank demonstrators, mostly children, who were shot.

So what was it all about?

The honest answer is: About nothing.

Neither side wanted it. Neither side started it. It just so happened.

Let us recapitulate the events, before they are forgotten.

Two young Arab men kidnapped three young Israeli religious students near the West Bank town of Hebron. The kidnappers belonged to the Hamas movement, but acted on their own. Their purpose was to exchange their captives for Palestinian prisoners. Liberating prisoners is now the highest ambition of every Palestinian militant.

The kidnappers were amateurs, and their plan miscarried from the beginning. They panicked when one student used his mobile phone and then they shot the hostages. All of Israel was in an uproar. The kidnappers have not yet been found.

The Israeli security forces used the opportunity to implement a prepared plan. All known Hamas activists in the West Bank were arrested, as well as all the former prisoners who were released as part of the deal to free the Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit. For Hamas this was the violation of an agreement.

The Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip could not keep quiet while their comrades in the West Bank were being imprisoned. It reacted by launching rockets at Israeli towns and villages.

The Israeli government could not keep quiet while its towns and villages were bombarded. It responded with a heavy bombardment of the Gaza strip from the air.

From there on, it was just an endless festival of death and destruction. The war was crying out for a purpose.

Hamas then did something that was, in my opinion, a cardinal mistake. It used some of the clandestine tunnels, which it had built under the border fence to attack Israeli targets. Israelis suddenly became aware of this danger that the army had belittled. The purposeless war acquired a purpose: It became the War Against the “Terror-Tunnels.” The infantry was sent into the Gaza Strip to search out and destroy them.

Eighty thousand soldiers entered Strip. After destroying all the known tunnels, they had nothing to do except stand around and act as targets.

The next logical step would have been to move forward and conquer the entire Gaza Strip, some 45 km long and an average of 6 km wide, with 1.8 million inhabitants. Four times larger than Manhattan Island with about the same population.

But the Israeli army detested the idea of conquering the Strip for the third time (after 1956 and 1967). The last time it left, the soldiers sang “Goodbye Gaza, and not to see you again!” Predictions of military casualties were high, many more than Israeli society was ready to suffer, in spite of all the patriotic hyperbole.

The war deteriorated into an orgy of killing and destroying, with both sides “dancing on the blood”, blessing every bomb and missile, completely oblivious to the suffering caused to the human beings on the other side. And still without any realizable aim.

If Clausewitz was right about war being but a continuation of policy by other means, then every war must have a clear political aim. For Hamas, the aim was clear and simple: Lift the blockade on Gaza. For Israel there was none. Binyamin Netanyahu defined his aim as “Calm in return for Calm.” But we had that before it all started.

Some of his cabinet colleagues demanded to “go to the end” and occupy the entire strip. The army command objected, and one cannot fight a war against the wishes of the army command. So everyone stood around waiting for Godot.

What Brought about the Final Ceasefire Agreement?
Both sides were exhausted. On the Israeli side, the feather that broke the camel’s back was the plight of the settlement around the Gaza Strip, called the “Gaza envelope.” Under the unceasing barrage of short-range rockets and — even worse — mortar shells that cost next to nothing, the inhabitants, mostly kibbutz members, started to move quitetly to safer regions.

That was almost sacrilege. One of the founding myths of Israel was that in the 1948 war, in which the state was born, Arab villagers and townspeople ran away when they were shot at, while our settlements stood firm even in the midst of hell.

That was not entirely so. Several kibbutzim were evacuated by order of the army when their defense became impossible. In several others, women and children were sent away, while men were ordered to stay on and fight with the soldiers. But on the whole, Israeli settlements stood fast and fought.

But 1948 was an ethnic war for territory. Land evacuated was lost forever (or at least until the next war). This time, the whole rationale was different.

Life in the “envelope” became impossible. Sirens sounded several times within the hour, and everybody had 15 seconds to find shelter. The clamor for evacuation became open and loud. Hundreds of families moved away. The myth was abandoned and the government was compelled to organize a mass movement. That did not look like victory.

The Palestinian side underwent a terrible ordeal. About 400 thousand people had to leave their homes. Whole families found shelter in UN buildings, several families in a room or in a corner of the courtyard, without electricity and with very little water, mothers with 6, 7 or 8 children.

(Imagine what that means: A family, poor or wealthy, has to leave its home within minutes, unable to take anything, no clothes, no money, no family albums, just to gather the children and run, while behind them the home collapses. A whole life’s work and memories destroyed in seconds. The young men were long gone, living in secret underground tunnels, preparing for the crucial fight.)

It is almost a wonder that under these conditions, the Hamas government and command structure did function. Orders passed from hidden leaders to hidden cells, contacts were maintained with leaders abroad and between different organizations, while spy drones circled overhead and killed any civil leader or commander who showed his face.

After the action to kill the Hamas military Commander in Chief, Mohammad Deif (which succeeded or failed, we don’t know), Hamas started to shoot the informers without whom such actions are impossible. (In my days as a junior terrorist, we did the same.)

But with all their remarkable ingenuity, Hamas could not go on forever. Their large stocks of rockets and mortar shells were being depleted. They also needed an end.

The result? Clearly a draw. But, as I have said before, if a small resistance organization achieves a draw against one of the mightiest military machines in the world, it has cause to celebrate — as it indeed did, last Monday, the 50th day of the War for Nothing.

What did the two sides lose?
The Palestinians sustained huge material losses. Thousand of homes were destroyed in order to break their spirit, some with some slim pretext, others without any. In the last days, the Air Force systematically brought down the luxurious high-rise buildings in the center of Gaza.

Palestinian human losses were also enormous. Israelis did not shed any tears.

On the Israeli side, human and material losses where comparatively light. Economic losses were significant, but bearable. It is the unseen losses that count.

The delegitimization of Israel throughout the world is accelerating. Millions of people have seen the daily pictures coming out of Gaza, and, consciously or unconsciously, their image of Israel has changed. For many, the brave little country has turned into a brutal monster.

Anti-Semitism, we are told, is dangerously on the rise. Israel claims to be the Nation-State of the Jewish People, and most Jews defend Israel and identify with it. The new rage against Israel sometimes looks like old-time anti-Semitism, and sometimes is.

We don’t know how many Jews will be driven by anti-Semitism to Israel. Nor do we know how many Israelis will be driven by the eternal war from Israel to Germany, the US or Canada.

One tends to overlook the most dangerous aspect. A huge mass of hatred has been created in Gaza. How many of the children we saw running with their mothers from their homes will become the “terrorists” of tomorrow?

Millions of children throughout the Arab world have seen the pictures beamed daily into their homes by Aljazeera, and become bitter haters of Israel. Aljazeera is a world power. While its English-language edition tried to be moderate, the Arab edition had no brakes — hour after hour its reports showed the heartbreaking pictures from Gaza, the children killed, the homes destroyed.

On the other side, the generations-old enmity of Arab governments towards Israel has been broken. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf States (except Qatar) are openly collaborating now with Israel.

Can this bear political fruit in the future? It could, if our government were really interested in peace.

In Israel itself, fascism, vile and unmistakable, has raised its ugly head. “Death to the Arabs” and “Death to the Leftists” have become legitimate battle-cries. Some of this foul wave will hopefully recede, but some may remain and become a regular feature.

Netanyahu’s personal fortunes are clouded. During the war his popularity ratings rose sharply. Now they are in a free fall. It is not enough to make speeches about victory. Victory must be seen. If possible, without a microscope.

WAR IS a matter of power. The reality created on the battlefield is generally reflected in the political results. If the battle ends in a draw, the political result will also be a draw.

Celebrating a similar triumph long ago, Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, remarked: “Another such victory and we will be lost!”

Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, writer, and peace activist. He is a founding member, Gush Shalom (Peace bBloc), independent peace movement (1993); former publisher and editor-in-chief, Haolam Hazeh news magazine (1950-1990); former member of the Knesset (three terms: 1965-1969, 1969-1973, 1979-1981); founding member, Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (1975), and columnist, Internet. This Column has been here republished from Avnery’s site.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

NATO Raising 10,000 Anti-Russian Troops Despite Putin’s Pointed Reminder that Russia Is a ‘Nuclear Power’

August 31st, 2014 - by admin

RT News & Colin Freeman / The Telegraph – 2014-08-31 00:33:52


NATO Planning ‘Rapid-deployment Force’
Of 10,000 Troops to Counter Russia

RT News

(August 30, 2014) — NATO is reportedly working towards the creation of an expeditionary force composed of 10,000 troops from seven different member states as a result of escalating tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

According to the Financial Times, the force’s creation will be spearheaded by Britain and involve contributions from Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. Canada is also interested in joining the group, but it’s not known what its final decision will be.

Although no formal announcement has been made, British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to declare its formation at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales on September 4th.

Many specifics have yet to be worked out or announced, but planners are reportedly implementing ways to increase the number of soldiers involved even more if necessary. Air and naval units will be integrated into the group, as well as ground troops led by British commanders.

As noted by the Times, the creation of the force comes as a response to Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, with the ultimate goal being to “create a fully functioning, division-sized force for rapid deployment and regular, frequent exercises.” NATO has accused Russia of deploying more than 1,000 troops into Ukraine to bolster separatists in the eastern part of the country.

Russia, however, insists that it does not have troops operating inside of Ukraine and has dismissed NATO’s assertions.

Despite the fact that NATO has opted not to act militarily in Ukraine — unnamed sources told Foreign Policy on Friday that there are no plans to confront Russia with anything more than stronger sanctions — Jonathan Eyal of the London-based Royal United Services Institute said the group needs to demonstrate that its eastern European members are just as integral to the alliance as other states.

“We need to end the idea of different zones of security in Europe,” he told the Financial Times. “We need to be talking about prepositioning, regular rotation of troops and making it very clear that we do not accept that the eastern Europeans are in some different category of membership of NATO.”

The revelation also arrives just a few days after NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed interest in forming “a more visible presence” in Eastern Europe in the form of facilities capable of rapidly receiving “response forces” needed to counter Russia.

For his part, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said any attempt to stretch further into the region would impact Moscow’s own security planning.

Vladimir Putin: Don’t Mess with Nuclear-armed Russia
Russia’s president, speaking at a pro-Kremlin youth camp at a lake near Moscow, said “it’s best not to mess with us,” adding “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers”

Colin Freeman / The Telegraph

(August 29, 2014) — Vladimir Putin raised the spectre of nuclear war with the West on Friday as he defied international condemnation over his decision to send thousands of Russian troops and heavy armour into Ukraine.

Accused by Europe and NATO of launching a full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine, the Russian leader boasted to a group of Russian youngsters that “It’s best not to mess with us.”

In language not seen since the height of the Cold War, he told his audience: “Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

Mr Putin’s comments, made during a visit to a pro-Kremlin youth camp on the banks of a lake outside Moscow, will horrify Western governments as they try to bring Russia into check. Even during the height of Cold War hostilities, few Kremlin leaders ever resorted to the direct mentions of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

He made his remarks as European leaders prepare to gather tomorrow for an emergency summit to discuss further sanctions on Moscow over the appearance in the last few days of more than 1,000 regular Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

The soldiers are believed to be the backbone of a lightning counter-offensive that has seen pro-Kremlin rebels in eastern Ukraine claw back large swathes of territory from Ukrainian government forces in recent days, dramatically turning the tide in the four-month conflict.

A major battle is expected in the port city of Mariupol in coming days, where Ukrainian forces are dug in in anticipation of a full-scale assault by rebels backed by the Kremlin’s forces. The escalation in the conflict is the most serious since the pro-Russian uprising began, and has dashed Western hopes that the sanctions on the Kremlin had forced it to gradually abandon its support for the rebels.

On Friday, Poland accused Russia of waging a full-scale “war” in eastern Ukraine, while Germany warned that the conflict was spiralling “out of control”. Speaking after a special emergency summit to discuss the crisis, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general, said Russia could no longer pretend that it did not have “direct” involvement in the conflict.

“Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine. . . ” he said. “Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine. Russia continues to supply the separatists with tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and rocket launchers. Russia has fired on Ukraine from both Russian territory and within Ukraine itself. Moreover, Russia continues to maintain thousands of combat-ready troops close to Ukraine’s borders. This is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

At a NATO summit in the Welsh city of Newport next week, NATO leaders will meet Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s new president, to make clear what Mr Rasmussen described as their “unwavering support” for Ukraine.

Diplomatic sources have told the Daily Telegraph that Ukraine will ask for a package of “non-lethal” aid including thousands of set of new uniforms, helmets, body armour and communications gear. Ukrainian defence chiefs also want access to sophisticated US and NATO satellite images of Russian troop positions. However, despite

However, while Ukraine’s prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk said on Friday that Ukraine would now seek to join NATO, sources within the organisation said that it would be unlikely happen. Any such move would oblige NATO to come to Ukraine’s immediate defence against Russia.

A NATO source said: “Ukraine is not an ally. NATO may respect Ukraine’s decision if it seeks membership but the Alliance is not going to accelerate in that direction.”

In his comments to the youth group in Friday, Mr Putin defended Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula last March, claiming it was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government aggression.

“Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts,” he said at the camp on the banks of Lake Seliger. “We don’t want that and don’t plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.

He also alleged that Russians in eastern Ukraine were now subjected to “crude military force” from government planes, tanks and artillery, and criticised the Kiev government’s decision to seek European Union membership.

“If those are contemporary European values, then I’m simply disappointed in the highest degree,” he said, comparing Ukraine’s military operations in the east of the country with the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War Two.

“Small villages and large cities surrounded by the Ukrainian army which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure . . . It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist . . . occupiers surrounded our cities.”

Moscow Warns of Reprisal over Poland’s
‘Outrageous’ Airspace Closure for
Russian Defense Minister’s Jet

RT News

(August 29, 2014) — Polish closure of its airspace for the plane of the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu will not go without an “appropriate response” as it caused a “real threat to flight safety,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated.

The diplomatic standoff on Friday took hours to resolve after Poland refused to grant free passage to Shoygu’s plane as he was returning from celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Slovakian national uprising that took place in the town of Banská Bystrica.

An hour after the TU-154 left Slovakia, the flyover in Polish airspace was suddenly refused due to the plane’s changed status. On the way to the celebrations, Poland designated the minister’s flight as civilian, while on the way back, it was changed from civil to military — for “unknown reasons”, according to Poland’s state air navigation services agency. Under non-civilian status, crossing Polish airspace requires at least a 72 hours’ notice before the flight.

The plane had to be grounded in Bratislava in what the Russian Foreign Ministry called an “outrageous incident”, while Poland cited “technical reasons” for not allowing the plane through.

“Russian delegation had to urgently return to Bratislava due to lack of fuel, which created a real threat to the safety of flight,” the ministry said in a statement.

Only after a “vigorous demarche” from Russian diplomats, Warsaw agreed to confirm the permit previously issued to fly over the territory of Poland.

As the plane safely returned to Moscow, Russia called Poland’s actions “a gross violation of the norms and ethics of communication” and in the context of the celebrations of Slovakia’s triumph over Nazism, a “blasphemous trick against the historical memory and the merits of those who saved Europe from fascism.”

The statement promises an “appropriate reaction from the Russian side,” as the Polish FM claims that politics were not involved.

“In terms of the flight by Russian Defense Minister over Poland, there is no political overtones. It was only about procedural issues,” Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski was quoted by Itar-Tass.

The UN meanwhile urged both sides of the incident to refrain from “provocative actions,” a spokesman for UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said linking the flight bar to the volatile situation in Ukraine.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Don’t Bomb Iraq or Syria: 5 Signs Your ‘Limited’ Strategy Is Out of Control

August 31st, 2014 - by admin

Code Pink & Micah Zenko / Foreign Policy – 2014-08-31 00:33:08


(August 28, 2014) — President Obama has authorized surveillance drones over Syria, and is threatening to begin airstrikes inside Syria — along with the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq. All without Congressional approval. The Syrian government has said that airstrikes in its airspace would constitute an act of aggression.

Tell President Obama: Don’t bomb Syria or Iraq!

We’ve seen the pictures and read the news. ISIS is certainly frightening, and we’re deeply concerned about the people of Syria and Iraq. US military intervention in the region has historically been counterproductive. We’ve seen this from the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. What’s needed is a political and humanitarian solution to the crisis, not more violence.

What President Obama called a humanitarian mission to assist the besieged Yazidis has grown into a long-term bombing campaign that threatens to spill across the border into Syria. The US has already conducted more than 100 airstrikes in Iraq and put 1,000 troops on the ground! [See article below.]

At the very least, the President (a constitutional lawyer!) should follow US law and consult Congress before taking military action. Last month, the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 105, stating clearly that there is no legal authority for US military involvement in the Middle East without express Congressional approval.

President Obama is putting the US in a dangerous position that could lead us into another costly, open-ended war in the Middle East. But we, the people, stopped a war on Syria last summer, and we can stop the next war now. It is madness that last year Obama wanted to bomb Assad, and now he wants to bomb ISIS for him!

Tell President Obama: Don’t bomb Syria or Iraq!
Support regional solutions to regional problems.

With hope in humanity and humanitarian solutions,
Alli, Anastasia, Holly, Jodie, Janet, Jes, Medea, Nada, Nathan, Nancy, Sophia, and Tighe

Dear President Obama,

We are deeply concerned about the people of Syria and Iraq and the threat to their safety that ISIS poses, but we know that US military intervention in the region has historically been counterproductive. We especially saw this play out after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Instead of relying on the US military to solve the crisis, what’s needed is a political and humanitarian solution to the crisis, not more violence.

Last month, the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 105, stating clearly that there is no legal authority for US military involvement in the Middle East without express Congressional approval. At the very least, you (a constitutional lawyer!) should follow US law and consult Congress before taking military action.

The American people are sick of war and too many lives have been lost at the receiving end of American weapons. President Obama, we call on you not to bomb Syria or Iraq.

Mission Leap: 5 Signs Your “Limited”
Iraq Intervention Is Spiraling Out of Control

Micah Zenko / Foreign Policy

(August 22, 2014) — On Feb. 12, 1993, journalist Christopher Burns filed a story from Somalia containing a term that had never before appeared in English language press: “The US-led military mission to halt clan warfare and get aid to the needy has unofficially widened its role to include such tasks as rebuilding houses, digging wells and creating police forces. Officials call it ‘mission creep.'”

As America’s recent intervention in Iraq gathers steam, the phrase and its implicit warnings have reemerged among policymakers and public commentators. Worryingly, though, it seems some top officials don’t get it.

As President Barack Obama noted on Tuesday: “Typically, what happens with mission creep is when we start deciding that we’re the ones who have to do it all ourselves. And because of the excellence of our military that can work for a time. We learned that in Iraq.”

This is a puzzling lesson to take away from Iraq: rather than preferring unilateralism, the Bush administration begged every country with deployable military forces to participate in the invasion and occupation.

On Wednesday, Pentagon spokesperson Rear Adm. John Kirby offered a more concise definition: “mission creep doesn’t refer to numbers of sorties, numbers of troops, numbers of anything. It doesn’t refer to timelines.

It doesn’t even refer to intensity. It’s about the mission itself.” This is true in the technical sense of how the Pentagon defines a mission: “The task, together with the purpose, that clearly indicates the action to be taken and the reason therefore.”

The problem with relying upon US officials’ articulation and description of military missions is that there is a time-honored history of denying, dissembling, or outright lying about mission creep — while it occurs.

This includes:
• The US bombing of 113,716 sites in Cambodia between 1965 to 1973 while the Johnson and Nixon administrations claimed otherwise;

• Reagan’s deployment of 1,800 Marines to Lebanon, initially “to provide an interposition force at agreed locations,” but later openly taking sides in that country’s civil war; and

• The 2011 intervention in Libya to provide airpower for regime change, just after the Obama repeatedly said this would not happen.

“Saying one thing and doing another” has also characterized US non-battlefield drone strikes from their introduction in November 2002.

Given the tendency of the United States to routinely undertake additional military missions, all while contending that they are not, everyone should be skeptical of how officials justify and depict the ongoing intervention in Iraq. Nevertheless, here are five clues to look for and things to think about, when considering whether mission creep is occurring now in Iraq.

1. Don’t Fence Me In
Presidents articulate missions in a manner to assure they have the greatest flexibility to do whatever they want. Even the supposedly limited missions for the current airstrikes — humanitarian assistance and protecting US personnel — are broad enough to justify practically anything.

Indeed, most countries claim that their uses of force are strictly to protect their citizens or save someone’s life — in the Western world, rarely is vengeance or bloodlust an acceptable reason to bomb someone.

Given that there are more than 10,000 US government employees or contractors in Iraq — and militant groups seeking to attack them or the critical infrastructure that supports them — there are many new types of combat operations that could be justified to protect them.

Moreover, the Obama administration already contends the right to use force anywhere on Earth where “the relevant governmental authorities . . . cannot or will not effectively address the threat to US persons.” Iraq is only the most recent country where this broad remit has been exercised.

2. We’ve Got People on the Ground
The need for such force protection airstrikes only increases with each additional troop or “advisor” and contractor sent to Iraq. The number of US troops in Iraq has steadily grown since the June 16 announcement of a deployment of up to 300 military personnel.

By June 30, three Special Forces units had deployed, and just one day later President Obama stated that an additional 200 troops would be sent to Baghdad.

By June 30, three Special Forces units had deployed, and just one day later President Obama stated that an additional 200 troops would be sent to Baghdad. On Aug. 13, it was announced that 130 military advisers would be sent — bringing the total number of American military personnel in Iraq to more than 1,000 — and the Pentagon is discussing sending another 300 troops.

Alongside these acknowledged forces are thousands of private contractors providing logistics and security support on behalf of the United States. In January, US Central Command (CENTCOM) quit providing data for Iraq when it optimistically announced: “This will be the final USCENTCOM report on Iraq contractor numbers.”

Until CENTCOM republishes this data in its quarterly reports, it will be impossible to know how many contractors are in Iraq, and what percentage of them are US citizens. But as a point of comparison, during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan deployments there were slightly more Pentagon-employed private contractors than US troops.

Thus, when US officials provide an updated estimate for troop levels in Iraq, it is safe to double it — since that number will not include contractors. Again, more US personnel and facilities dispersed throughout Iraq raise the prospect of more force protection strikes.

3. Call the Exterminator
Adam Siegel’s excellent 1998 examination of the concept provides a useful typology for diagnosing the onset of mission creep:

• Task accretion is the general assumption of tasks necessary to achieve the mission’s initial objective.

• Mission shift occurs when forces adopt tasks that expand the mission.

• Mission transition is an unclear or unstated transition to a new set of objectives.

• Mission leap occurs with a clear decision — an explicit choice — to change the mission and, therefore, the military’s tasks.

Any of these changes could occur in the near-term with or without a clear decision. There are indicators that future airstrikes could expand to simply kill suspected Islamic State (IS) members as policymakers and officials increasingly demand the defeat or total destruction of the terrorist organization.

On Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) termed IS as “evil people that need to be defeated.” Similarly, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) offered his belief that the United States has “a compelling strategic interest in defeating this group.”

The following day, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf stated: “Look, we believe that ISIS needs to be taken out.” And on Aug. 20, Secretary of State John Kerry agreed, declaring: “ISIL and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed.”

On Aug. 21, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, capped it off, saying, “This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated.”

Eliminationist counterterrorism objectives such as these are fanciful, but not uncommon. In April 2012, then-White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan claimed: “We’re not going to rest until al Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas.”

You probably noticed that never happened, and no officials were held accountable for the glaring mismatch of stated objectives and accomplishments.

Similarly, in Iraq, US airpower, even in coordination with local ground forces, will not eliminate IS, which intelligence officials estimate to include at least 10,000 committed fighters. However, as the Wall Street Journal reported, the tactically successful airstrikes around the Mosul Dam are “creating momentum for a broader campaign that could take American air power to the militant group’s heartland.”

That apparent momentum may have been invigorated with the video release of the Islamic State’s latest savagery — the abhorrent beheading of American journalist James Foley. As an anonymous senior Pentagon official crudely described it, “Hunt while the hunting’s good” — meaning “kill whoever you can.”

4. But They Need It!
Watch for the inevitable demands by Kurdish and Iraqi politicians for greater airpower, intelligence, and weapons support to defeat the insurgency in its midst. “[The United States’] technology capability will offer a lot of intelligence information and monitoring of the desert and many things which we are in need of,” said Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi, the governor of Anbar province. Note that word: need.

As Ghazi Qadir, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Gwer, stated, “US assistance on the ground is very important to us. It needs to continue as we gradually push forward.” I

raqi Minister of Parliament Zainab al-Sahlani, framed her expectations a bit differently, but in equally demanding terms: “The US has to provide further military assistance to the Iraqi army per agreements between the two sides to assist with the fight against terrorist groups.”

Then there’s always the guilt trip, as Sunni lawmaker Haider al-Mutlaq put it, noting that Iraqis were “expecting the US to expand their airstrikes,” otherwise “Iraq will remain in its broken state and the US will be responsible for that.”

President Obama might not believe that the United States is Iraq’s air force, but Iraqi politicians and officials increasingly will. And Iraq’s security could become America’s obligation, especially the use of airpower to assure the newly formed government in Baghdad survives and thrives.

5. Watch Out for Talking Stars
Beware of those who carelessly use the concept to prevent discussions of military missions. As Richard Holbrooke observed regarding Clinton administration debates: “[Mission creep] was a powerful pejorative, conjuring up images of quagmire. But it was never clearly defined, only invoked, and always in a negative sense, used only to kill someone else’s proposal.”

The planning staffs within CENTCOM and the Joint Staff are developing numerous operational plans for senior civilian and military officials to debate, and which Obama may ultimately authorize. We know, based upon historical precedent, that military officials are more likely to oppose discrete military operations, and will repeatedly raise warnings about their risks, costs, and relative unimportance compared to “vital national interests.”

These concerns are then expressed via media leaks or through sympathetic retired general officers, even when they have no direct insights into the operations that are being reviewed. As these statements inevitably come forward the experienced opinions should be respected, but readers should be wary of their situational awareness of Iraq or insights into Oval Office discussions.

A few months ago, I interviewed retired US Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker. He was one of the original 22 members of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, a.k.a. Delta Force, and later commanded every special operations force for which he was eligible.

He led one of the three Delta teams used in the failed April 1980 raid to free US hostages in Iran, and many other rescue missions that appropriately have never made the light of day.

Schoomaker offered a warning that has resonated with me as I watch events unfold in Syria and Iraq: “Sometimes military force is most effective when it is held in reserve. Once you use it, it takes on a weather of its own.”

Mitigating mission creep requires President Obama speaking “clearer than truth” (to borrow Dean Acheson’s phrase) about what US forces in Iraq are doing, and then acknowledging adjustments as that “weather” unfolds. Presidents have a poor record in doing this, including Obama.

Yet, given that any strategy to counter the threat that the Islamic State poses to the United States will be longer and costlier than most want to admit, it’s not only essential to the military, he owes it to the American people.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Independent Weapons Testing Comes Under Fire, Again

August 31st, 2014 - by admin

Ethan Rosenkranz / Project On Government Oversight – 2014-08-31 00:32:19


(August 21, 2014) — Sometimes, history has an odd way of repeating itself — over and over and over, again.

In 1983, Congress mandated that operational testing — the most important and objective form of combat weapons testing — be protected permanently from the pressures and influence of the Pentagon’s procurement bureaucracy. That law, establishing an independent Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) who reports directly to the Secretary of Defense and Congress, was the most significant and useful reform to military procurement policy over the past forty years.

The defense industry, through its numerous allies in Congress, fought desperately then — and is still fighting desperately now — to stymie the law’s intent. Their main argument is that independent weapons testing causes massive cost increases and schedule delays for major weapons systems.

This specious argument has spearheaded recurring congressional and industry assaults on independent operational testing in the decades since the creation of DOT&E — most recently just a few months ago in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015.

There is ample evidence, however, which demonstrates that rigorous operational testing actually reduces the overall time and money needed to get usable weapons into the field, and, even more importantly, saves the lives of the men and women fighting our wars.

After all, they need weapons that work, not weapons that need fixing.

Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, the current director, addressed operational testing’s detractors at a recent National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) event: “When people claim that testers are driving billions of dollars of costs into programs, the facts just simply don’t support that claim.”

Gilmore has backed this assertion with a 65-page briefing detailing more than a dozen recent programs — ranging from mine resistant vehicles to nuclear submarines — where independent operational testing identified serious combat suitability shortfalls early enough to allow for fixes before the weapons failed in combat.

One example from DOT&E’s briefing is the P-8A Poseidon, a newly developed maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft based on Boeing’s 737-800 commercial airframe. A DOT&E review rejected the Navy’s proposed original operational test plan because it did not evaluate the P-8A’s two primary combat missions: anti-submarine detection and reconnaissance. Instead, the Navy simply wanted to test the aircraft’s engineering requirements; that is, its ability to fly a specific distance with a specific payload.

DOT&E insisted on a test that exercised enemy submarine detection and attack as well as ocean reconnaissance under realistic combat conditions. The Navy’s operational testers agreed that such combat testing was essential.

When these tests were conducted as part of realistic fleet exercises, they revealed “important deficiencies” in surveillance and in the aircraft’s ability to hunt and destroy submarines, all due to problems with the P-8A’s sensor systems. Gilmore’s subsequent evaluation report concluded that the P-8A was “not effective for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search.”

As a result, the Navy is now working to address these serious problems and will do follow-on operational testing to ensure that this $35 billion program actually delivers combat-effective aircraft.

The Assault on DOT&E Independence
Naturally, the defense industry is opposed to realistic, independent operational evaluation and reporting because test failures can lead to program cancellation, reduced funding, and diminished profit. Companies with high-value contracts have become adept at spreading facilities and subcontracts out across as many states and congressional districts as possible in order to secure congressional allies, a phenomenon renowned defense analyst Franklin “Chuck” Spinney has termed “political engineering.”

This outsourcing strategy weakens national security in many ways; one manifestation is the recurring effort by industry’s congressional allies to undermine the independence of DOT&E and the rigor of its testing.

Reflecting the misguided view that DOT&E — rather than procurement mismanagement coupled with shoddy contractor performance — is to blame for unprecedented overruns and schedule slippages, the House Armed Services Committee included language in this year’s NDAA intended to weaken the independence and combat realism of operational testing.

The bill, as passed by the House of Representatives, requires DOT&E to:
Consider the potential for increases in program cost estimates or delays in schedule estimates in the implementation of policies, procedures, and activities related to operational test and evaluation, and to take appropriate action to ensure that the conduct of operational test and evaluation activities do not unnecessarily impede program schedules or increase program costs.

Though not mandatory, this language opens the door for the acquisition bureaucracy to pressure DOT&E to pare back thorough operational testing, even though such operational testing consistently yields long-term savings and more combat-effective weapon systems.

The House Armed Services Committee’s NDAA also includes biased instructions to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate DOT&E’s causing of “unnecessary” costs and delays in weapons procurement:

To help inform the committee’s understanding of how operational test and evaluation processes and activities may unnecessarily increase schedule and cost of major defense acquisition programs, the committee directs [GAO] to review operational test and evaluation processes and activities.

What is actually unnecessary is yet another GAO study on DOT&E’s effect on cost and schedule. GAO produced exactly such a study in 1997 and concluded that operational testing in fact saves money and time in fielding successful weapons. Nothing has happened since 1997 to change GAO’s fundamental conclusions.

After the House Armed Services Committee produced this alarming language, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) sent a letter to their Senate counterparts in response to the outrageous claims that DOT&E unnecessarily causes cost increases and schedule delays.

In the letter, Executive Director Danielle Brian pointed out that, “Clearly, these claims do not consider even larger — by far — offsetting long-term cost increases and longer production stretch outs associated with insufficiently tested, flawed hardware that has to be fixed at great expense and only after still more delay.”

Following POGO’s letter, the Senate Armed Services Committee included language in their version of the NDAA that at least recognizes the important role DOT&E performs in ensuring that weapon systems are “suitable and effective in combat.”

Unfortunately, the Senate NDAA report also includes language requiring GAO to study the extent to which “major weapon systems have been required to conduct operational testing in excess of levels necessary to demonstrate compliance with program requirements.”

This language once again reflects an industry campaign to limit operational testing and evaluation to only the program’s contractual requirements (which are, after all, the engineering requirements set by the acquisition bureaucracy).

This flies in the face of the longstanding and traditional military principle that the combat user needs to independently test all new weapons to determine whether they will work in combat, not whether they will meet engineering requirements set by the developer.

Both versions of the NDAA demonstrate a regrettable ignorance of how and why Congress created the independent DOT&E in the first place — and of the ensuing three decades of repeated industry-incited battles to undo the office’s major contributions to stronger defense.

Bipartisan Inception and
Early Congressional Opposition

In 1981, a small group of reform-oriented staffers within the Pentagon and Congress, working with liberal Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) and conservative Representative William Whitehurst (R-VA), initiated the Congressional Military Reform Caucus, which soon grew to include more than 150 House and Senate members. One of the early discussions within the new caucus focused on the need for more combat-realistic weapons testing before funding production.

In 1983 with strong support from the Reform Caucus, GAO examined existing Pentagon weapons testing practices for newly introduced weapon systems and found that many of them were deployed “without having fully demonstrated their capabilities under representative combat conditions.”

Furthermore, GAO found that Pentagon weapons testers were ineffective and may have had conflicts of interest with the defense contractors that developed the weapons under evaluation.

Soon after, the Deputy Inspector General of the Department of Defense testified before Congress that the Pentagon was developing and testing systems at the same time (known as concurrency), was not testing weapon systems in realistic combat situations, and was relying too heavily on defense contractors during testing and evaluation.

The media’s coverage of testing inadequacies and associated weapons failures grew rapidly, significantly aided by detailed factual material unearthed by POGO’s predecessor, the Project on Military Procurement.

In 1983, a bipartisan group of the most active members of the Congressional Military Reform Caucus, led by Senators David Pryor (D-AR), William Roth (R-DE), Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS), and Charles Grassley (R-IA), introduced the Operational Testing and Evaluation Act to create an independent director overseeing the operational tests of all four services and reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense and Congress.

Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at POGO, writes in Military Reform: An Uneven History and an Uncertain Future:

If [Pryor’s] bill were to become law and take hold, no longer would laboratory tests under cooperative conditions be substituted for combat realistic tests in dirt, mud, and confusion, and using regular soldiers as operators. No longer would the manufacturer be able to design or score the tests. No longer could the weapon system’s advocates write the reports on the tests of the weapons they sought to protect.

Despite the strong opposition of the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Tower (R-TX), as well as other industry-friendly members working closely with senior Pentagon officials, Pryor’s bill secured the co-sponsorship of twenty-two Senators, both Democrat and Republican.

Senator Pryor eventually offered his bill as an amendment to that year’s defense authorization act, and, after some last minute legislative maneuvering, Pryor’s amendment was approved overwhelmingly by a vote of 91 to 5. The underlying bill was signed into law on September 24, 1983.

Over the course of the next decade, DOT&E’s work improving operational testing won strong praise, including from former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney — a very active former member of the military reform caucus — who remarked that DOT&E saved more lives during Operation Desert Storm than any other initiative.

Despite the bipartisan support that DOT&E enjoyed, industry’s congressional allies attempted to eliminate the office in the FY 1996 defense authorization bill. This move followed a report by a Department of Defense advisory panel of senior industry and government acquisition experts, which, unsurprisingly, found that DOT&E was unnecessarily impeding defense acquisitions.

After strenuous objection from Senators Pryor and Roth, as well as the Deputy Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the proposal to eliminate DOT&E was eventually dropped. DOT&E and its supporters would live on to fight another day.

Current Efforts
The alleged hardship of living within a sequestered budget — albeit one that exceeds Vietnam War and Reagan-era funding peaks — provides a convenient excuse for new attempts to cut operational testing and evaluation budgets.

That this is an excuse and the opposite of fiscal prudence is obvious: in times of budgetary constraint, the worst activity to cut is the one that provides the most important evidence for deciding where acquisition money is ill-spent.

As Gilmore noted at the recent NDIA conference, “before you commit to production . . . you should want to understand whether what you’re about to start producing is actually useful to the men and women who have to use it in combat.”

It is also fiscally imprudent — not to mention dangerous — to cut the one activity that will discover design flaws early enough in the process to avoid not only astronomically expensive but also possibly fatal mistakes.

Now, both the House and Senate committee reports accompanying their versions of the FY 2015 NDAA — using biased but somewhat differing language — guide the GAO review of DOT&E processes and activities toward a hostile point of view. The committee reports’ negative instructions to GAO are, quite unfortunately, unlikely to be undone.

However, the two NDAA bills themselves still have to go to conference. That final conference report should include a separate and much more constructive mandate for a different GAO review that examines ways to improve and strengthen DOT&E’s contribution to providing more effective weapons for our troops.

As POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian recommended in her letter this spring, rather than undermining the ability of DOT&E to conduct realistic and thorough testing and evaluation, Congress should instead enhance DOT&E’s mandate with expanded resources and thoroughly protected independence.

As a first step to accomplishing that, the conference version of the final NDAA should require that GAO review specific funding and organizational steps needed to enhance realistic and independent operational testing.

Beyond that, if Congress truly is concerned about the real causes of today’s hundreds of billions of dollars of cost overruns and unending schedule delays, then it should require that operational testing and evaluation always take place before production begins.

Nothing else will eliminate the ever-worsening concurrency malpractice that has resulted in such disastrous recent programs as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Littoral Combat Ship, ballistic missile defense, Joint Tactical Radio System, and Ford-class carrier.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.
POGO’s SecureDrop available via Tor:

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Operations in Iraq Costing Taxpayers $7.5 Million a Day

August 30th, 2014 - by admin

Spencer Ackerman / The Guardian – 2014-08-30 23:39:17


US Operations in Iraq Costing
$7.5 Million a Day as Obama Deliberates Strategy

NEW YORK (August 29, 2014) — America’s newest war in Iraq has cost over half a billion dollars so far, according to Pentagon estimates, all before President Barack Obama decides upon a strategy against Islamic State (Isis) militants.

Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Friday that daily military operations in Iraq since 16 June, when the White House informed Congress it had ordered up to 275 US troops to bolster embassy security in Baghdad, have cost on average $7.5 million.

Those operations stretched into their 75th day on Friday, suggesting a cost of around $562.5 million. Kirby did not break down the $7.5 million figure, and he cautioned that not that much money was actually spent every day.

Since 16 June, the panoply of US operations in Iraq, the first since the 2011 troop withdrawal, have expanded. Hundreds of US special operations “advisers” arrived in Baghdad and Irbil to aid the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga militia forces plan a response to Isis’ advance across much of northern and central Iraq, briefly topping 1,000 for a reconnaissance mission atop Mount Sinjar earlier this month.

Around 60 surveillance flights, by piloted planes and drones, occur daily over territory controlled by Isis. The US has launched 110 airstrikes against Isis positions, artillery and equipment, mostly to dislodge Isis from the Mosul Dam and prevent the jihadist army from retaking it. Initially, those airstrikes centered around relieving an Isis siege of Mount Sinjar and stopping Isis from advancing into Iraqi Kurdistan.

The most recent airstrikes occurred Friday, Central Command said, and took place near the dam. It said it destroyed four Isis “armed vehicles” and three more “support vehicles,” with another armed vehicle “severely damaged.”

Kirby suggested that the hundreds of special operations “advisers,” some of whom are said to spot for airstrikes, might at some point perform “more of an advisory mission” to bolster the performance of Iraqi brigades. Much of the advice currently offered occurs within senior-level planning centers, called Joint Operations Centers, rather than at frontline brigades.

Kirby also said that the Pentagon had yet to provide Obama with military options against Isis in Syria, where he is under enormous political pressure to expand the latest US war. Obama conceded on Thursday that he thus far lacks a strategy against a group that has erased the border between Iraq and Syria, and which the Pentagon leadership describes in apocalyptic terms.

“When we get to a point when we’re ready to have a more fulsome discussion about that, the Pentagon will be ready to have that discussion,” Kirby said.

For months, however, Pentagon planners have discussed attacking Isis in Syria as well as in Iraq. Last week, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters he was “not predicting [airstrikes] will occur in Syria,” a tempering note echoed by Obama on Thursday.

Kirby conceded that he would “be less than truthful if I said to you that we hadn’t been thinking about that before yesterday. Of course we have been . . . but we’re not at the point where we’re prepared to have a more fulsome discussion about what those options are with the commander-in-chief.”

Military planning, Kirby said, is “an iterative process.”

The US’ closest ally, the UK, raised its terror level to “severe” in response to Isis on Friday, as western governments fear that an unknown number of Isis fighters holding US and European passports will return from Iraq and Syria to launch attacks. But the Obama administration cautioned that it sees no imminent domestic attack from Isis.

“At present, the US Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are unaware of any specific, credible threat to the US homeland from [Isis],” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

“Plainly, however, violent extremists who support [Isis] have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas, and [Isis] constitutes an active and serious threat within the region.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Continuing Media Silence on the Fate of Flight MH17

August 30th, 2014 - by admin

Stefan Steinberg / World Socialist Web Site & Global Research – 2014-08-30 00:29:58

Continuing Media Silence on the Fate of Flight MH17

(August 29, 2014) — With a handful of exceptions, a shroud of silence has been drawn by the international media regarding the fate of Malaysian Airlines MH17, which crashed over Ukraine nearly six weeks ago.

Immediately after the plane crash on July 17, leading US officials, with Secretary of State John Kerry at the fore along with sections of the US and European media, alleged, without a shred of evidence, that the passenger jet had been shot down by a Russian missile fired by pro-Russian separatists operating in eastern Ukraine. The completely unfounded allegations were then used to create a frenzied political climate to justify the imposition of wide-ranging sanctions by the US and the European Union against Russia.

Since the crash there has been deliberate stalling on the part of Western authorities in releasing relevant information. At the start of this month Dutch investigators leading the inquiries announced they would release a preliminary report “in a few weeks.”

Now, with only days before the end of the month, no such report has been issued. This is despite the fact that the Dutch co-ordinator for the struggle against terrorism admitted in parliament that the Dutch authorities already have extensive data from the black boxes and other sources in their possession.

One article which has raised questions regarding the silence surrounding the crash appeared recently in the German magazine Der Spiegel.

The magazine has played a particularly vile role in the US-led propaganda campaign to blame Russia for the crash. On the cover of its July 28 edition, Der Spiegel featured photos of MH17 victims with the prominent red lettered text “Stop Putin Now!”. In its latest edition, the magazine again raises the banner of German militarism in a lead article deploring the state of the German army and arguing for a massive increase in military sending.

However, in one article on the crash, headlined “The strange silence of the investigators”, the magazine attempts to backtrack somewhat and at least intimate there are good reasons to doubt the official line put out by Washington and Brussels. The article refers to a letter sent to Barack Obama at the end of July by a group of former US intelligence officers. In their letter the group, known as VIPS, accused Secretary of State Kerry of attempting to use the crash to blacken Russia, recalling other blatant provocations by the Obama administration, such as the claim that Syria was responsible for chemical weapon attacks. The Obama administration has never responded to the allegations made in the VIPS letter.

The Spiegel article then goes on to quote reports in the Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times, which charge Ukraine with responsibility for the crash, citing one journalist who writes: “It is farcical that the country known for overseeing the world’s most sophisticated and far-reaching surveillance capabilities has sunk to citing grainy YouTube videos to justify its policy decisions.”

Noting that Dutch authorities already have considerable information about the details of the crash which they have undoubtedly shared with their German counterparts, the Spiegel article warns that it is unlikely that the black box recordings will ever be released in full. The Dutch investigation team recently announced that there were alleged legal grounds for withholding evidence from the boxes.

The failure of the media to raise the issue of the fate of MH17 prompted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to query on Monday why the plane’s black box recordings had not been released publicly. It appears, Lavrov said, that apart from Russia, “everyone else has lost interest in the investigation.”

Lavrov also asked why Ukraine had not yet provided recordings of conversations between air traffic controllers in the nearby airport of Dnepropetrovsk. Kiev has up until now persistently refused to publish the recordings of the conversations between the MH17 pilot and Ukrainian air traffic controllers.

Lavrov noted that Russia had contacted the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the United Nations aviation agency, and offered to provide its own information on the crash, but noted that “so far there is nothing transparent to be seen there either.”

Lavrov concluded: “We must not allow the investigation of the MH17 crash to be manipulated into oblivion as already happened to investigations of many Ukrainian tragedies, including the sniper assault against civilians in Kiev in February, massacres in Odessa and Mariupol in May, and others.”

Bearing in mind the leading role played by the US in utilizing the crash of MH17 to create the conditions for a confrontation with Russia, there can be no doubt that the administration in Washington and US intelligence services are in close contact with the Dutch authorities and are complicit in the efforts to bury the truth about what really took place on July 17.

MH17 Verdict: Real Evidence Points to US-Kiev Cover-up of Failed “False Flag”

MH17 Verdict: Real Evidence Points to US-Kiev Cover-up of Failed “False Flag”
21st Century Wire & Global Research

(July 25, 2014) — Until this past Monday, the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17th, 2014, was a potential game changer for global geopolitics and the New Cold War. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Kremlin. . .

In this report, we will lay out the facts based on a wide breadth of available information and data surrounding MH17. We will also present and give critique to Washington and Kiev’s “mountain of evidence” that has saturated US and European-based media coverage since the incident took place.

21WIRE has compiled this report with the help of many contributors and references from English-speaking media, as well as material translated from Russian and Ukrainian media sources, along with other historical references to provide context. Our objective is to get as close to the truth as possible. Although many revelations will appear to be self-evident, we still encourage the public to draw there own conclusions regarding this pivotal event.

There are other well-known anomalies surrounding this event which have been covered at 21WIRE, as well as connections to MH370, but for the purposes of this investigation we will focus on both factual and speculative evidence brought forth by the US, Ukraine and Russia.

The Brink of War
Last Monday morning was not a pleasant one for the US State Department. Russian officials surprised Washington and its NATO partners when it released all available satellite imagery and air traffic control data, which was recorded in and around the final minutes of Flight MH17 — and presented it to the world media on live television. The data painted a very different picture, drawing contrasting conclusions to what Washington and Kiev officials had been disseminating via western media since July 17th.

Following their presentation, Moscow handed its findings — air traffic data and time stamped satellite imagery — to European authorities. We will review those findings in detail later in this report. In stark contrast, US officials have been reluctant to do the same.

Is Washington willing to share any object data or evidence to the public, or is it only interested in sharing that which somehow fits into the same predetermined narrative it stood by on July 17th, one which already assigned guilt to both rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine and Russia?

We hope that political leaders and media organizations in the US and Europe will take the time to consider all available information, rather than simply repeat and spin what is bouncing around the media echo chamber. It’s also crucial to understand the geopolitical context in which this incident has occurred in order to discover who really possessed the motive, and the means to destroy this passenger aircraft, and which parties stand to benefit most from such an international incident.

After reviewing the evidence, all indicators points to the downing of MH17 as a highly coordinated, but failed false flag event.

MH17: A Doomed Flight Path
A Malaysian Airlines spokesman has already confirmed that, for some unknown reason, Kiev-based Ukrainian Air Traffic Control (ATC) ordered MH17 off of its original flight path along the international air route, known as L980.

Most likely, this order was given to pilots while MH17 was still in Polish air space. L980 is one of the most popular and most congested air routes in the world, as well as a key link between major international hubs in Europe, like London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, and Frankfurt, and Asian destinations, like Singapore, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.

As MH17 moved into Ukrainian air space, it was moved approximately 300 miles north of its usual route — putting it on a new course, flying directly over a war zone — a dangerous area that’s hosted a number of downed military craft over the previous 3 weeks.

Robert Mark, a commercial pilot and editor of Aviation International News Safety magazine, confirmed that most Malaysia Airlines flights from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur would normally travel along a route significantly further south than the route MH17 was diverted onto. Indeed, previous days’ flight records see here confirm that MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur is always assigned routes much further south than the one it took that fateful day.

The fatal event occurred somewhere in the interval between 17:21:28 and 17:22:30 Moscow Time. The exact time of the crash is believed to be at 5:23pm. The last available geographic coordinates can be found here on Flight Radar24:

Weather and Visibility Factor

Kiev-based air traffic controllers not only led MH17 right over its alleged ‘target zone’ in Eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, but also helped make it visible.

Although weather data online is all but unavailable for the area of Donetsk, Ukraine for July 17th, conditions are evident by numerous videos depicting the crash and crash site in the aftermath — it was cloudy and overcast, with more visibility above the cloud canopy. This factor is important because at the normal cruising altitude of 33,000 feet (10,000 meters), the airliner would not be visible from the ground in the rebel-held area where Washington is insisting a SAM missile was launched.

Why did Kiev air traffic controllers order MH17 to suddenly drop its altitude, from 35,000 feet to 33,000 feet, just before the plane’s demise is unknown for sure, but it would have been near impossible for the alleged rebel gunman occupying this relatively small rebel-held patch of land to make a visual sighting of MH17 and acquire the target during the 1-2 minute window they would have had (assuming they were even in possession of the BUK missile system).

To date, Kiev has refused to acknowledge or explain why the plane was moved into position in this way. Moreover, Interfax news agency reported that Ukraine’s SBU security service confiscated recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic control officers and the crew immediately after the incident.

The probability that this is all an ‘unfortunate coincidence’ reduces to near zero when one considers the air traffic data and Kiev’s denial of the close proximity of its Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet in pursuit of MH17 minutes before the crash (see ‘Aircraft in the Vicinity’ below).

Small Rebel Target Window
Much has been made by the US and its media of MH17 being shot down and crashing in “the rebel-held area”, but few are aware of just how small the said area actually is. The Ukrainian military had already isolated the rebel area, which Kiev and Washington insist a rebel-controlled BUK SAM missile battery had fired on the passenger jet.

The actual size of this rebel-held patch is only 40-50 miles wide, with MH17 approaching on a southeastern route over Horlivka, the frontline of this rebel-held zone, towards Snezhnoye (Snizhne).

Cruising at 58o mph (933 kmph), MH17 would have only been visible for a very short time — just over 1 minute (if Kiev had not ordered MH17 to alter its course and altitude then it would not have been visible at all), from the vantage point of the alleged rebel firing position. According the Jane’s Defense, the alleged cluprit — an SA-11 (NATO code name) or ‘BUK’ missile system, requires 5 minutes set-up active targeting, followed by an additional 22 seconds ‘reaction time’ for target acquisition and firing.

As the MH17 was only visible for 70 seconds above this rebel-held area surrounding Grabovo, unless the alleged rebel firing position was specifically tracking MH17 long before it entered the rebel-held airspace and could distinguish it from other military civilian aircraft also in the general vicinity, Washington’s theory and Kiev’s accusation — that rebels shot down this aircraft becomes even weaker.

Considering these factors, the probability increases greatly that targeting MH17 would have had to be premeditated far in advance of the 70 seconds it was visible above this particular rebel-held area.

Russian Satellite Data and Public Presentation
On Monday, the Russian government, with almost every major global media outlet in attendance, released all of its air traffic data and satellite imaging data (in fact, only part of it) — all verifiable, including time stamps and supporting data. The entire content of the presentation was also handed over to the European authorities. The conclusions to be drawn from this are stunning, to say the least. Despite the public release of this information, US and British media outlets did report back to its people on these findings. They are as follows:

Minutes before the downing of MH17, the plane made a mysterious ‘Left Turn’ as it flew over the Donetsk area at approximately 5:20pm Moscow time, making a sharp 14km deviation, before attempting to regain its previous course before dropping altitude disappearing from radar at 5:23pm.

As we previously pointed out, air traffic controllers in Kiev had already diverted MH17 300 miles north into the target zone, so the question remains: was Kiev ATC also responsible for this final, fatal diversion, or is there another reason for this unusual turn (see ‘Mysterious Left Turn’, below)?

According to clear satellite images provided, on July 16th, the Ukrainian Army positioned 3-4 anti-aircraft BUK M1 SAM missile batteries close to Donetsk. These systems included full launching, loading and radio location units, located in the immediate vicinity of the MH17 crash site. One system was placed approximately 8km northwest of Lugansk.

In addition, a radio location system for these Ukrainian Army missile batteries is situated 5km north of Donetsk. On July 17th, the day of the incident, these batteries were moved to a position 8km south of Shahktyorsk. In addition to this, two other radio location units are also identified in the immediate vicinity. These SAM systems had a range of 35km distance, and 25km altitude.

From July 18th, after the downing of MH17, Kiev’s BUK launchers were then moved away from the firing zone.

Unlike rebel fighters, the Ukrainian military is in possession of some 27 BUK missile systems capable of bringing down high-flying jets, and forensic satellite imagery places at least 3 of their launchers in the Donetsk region on the day of this tragedy. Yet, Washington and NATO will not inquire about the possibility that any of these system had targeted MH17.

This is a definitive smoking gun: Why did the Ukrainian Army move these short-range anti-aircraft SAM missile batteries into position on July 16-17th — to an interior region of East Ukraine where it’s known that the rebel resistance possess no air crafts whatsoever? Not surprisingly, both the US and Kiev have not answered that difficult question, perhaps for obvious reasons.

In addition, the Ukrainian Army’s radio location traffic near Donetsk peaked on the 16th and 17th, including a total of 9 separate radio location systems active. On the 18th and 19th of July, radio location traffic from these stations dropped sharply, down to 4 stations. If, as Washington/Kiev claims, rebels fired a BUK missile at MH17, then the rebel radar location signals would be clearly noted and verifiable on the day; only, they are not.

All Aircraft in the Vicinity
Between 5pm-6pm Moscow Time on July 17th, the following aircraft have been identified in the general vicinity of MH17 on its course heading to its fatal destination of Grabovo:

1. Boeing 772 — traveling southeast from Copenhagen to Singapore at 5:17pm
2. Boeing 778 — traveling southeast from Paris to Taipei at 5:24pm
3. Boeing 778 — traveling northwest from Delhi to Berlin circa 5:20pm
4. Boeing 777 — Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at 5:17pm
5. Su-25 Ukrainian Fighter Jet appears on radar, trailing MH17 at same altitude, est. 4km behind it at 5:21pm

Note: the pilots and passengers of Singapore Airlines Flight SIA351 were close enough to have visually observed, at high altitude, the demise of MH17.

At 5:20pm MH17 began to abruptly lose speed, eventually slowing to 124mph (200kmph). At this time, a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet appears on ATC radar and trailing MH17 on the same flight path approximately 2-3km behind MH17, and at the same altitude — only minutes before MH17 disappeared on radar. The Su-25 would not have been visible on ATC radar before it broke the ATC long-range standby radar tracking ceiling of 5km in altitude.

Civilian ATC radar would not be able to identify this Su-25 as military because no secondary detection system is mounted — typical for military aircraft. Note also that the Su-25 is armed with air-to-air missiles with a range of 5km-12km. Over the next four minutes, the Ukrainian fighter remained in the area.

Another Smoking Gun: Kiev government officials insisted on July 17th that, “No military aircraft were available in the region”. Based on available data detailed above, this appears to be a lie, indicating that a cover-up was taking place.

Again, it’s important to note here that at the moment when MH17 was allegedly was hit for the first time, at around 5:23pm Moscow time, the passenger jet was also within the range of several Ukrainian BUK batteries deployed close to Donetsk and as well as the Ukrainian Army’s BUK system positioned on the day just 8km south of Shakhterskoye, only a few miles from the eventual crash site at Grabovo.

IMAGE: A Ukrainian military Su-25 fighter jet carries air-to-air missiles.

MH17′s Mysterious Left Turn
On passing glance, this seemingly minor, yet unexplained event doesn’t appear to be significant, but as is often the case, the devil is in the detail.

Again, was Kiev ATC also responsible for MH17′s final and fatal diversion from its course, or is there another reason for what appears to be an evasive maneuver?

One possible explanation for this crucial event in the timeline is that MH17 was hit, or damaged, taking an emergency 180º left turn for 14km, before disappearing completely off of radar. This appears to be the case. On July 23rd, Anna-News published an interview with retired Russian Air Force colonel Aleksand Zhilin (Александр Жилин) a frequent military commentator on Ukraine’s Civil War.

“According to the colonel, at 16:19:45 (local time, and 5:19pm Moscow time), a Ukrainian jet fighter targeted the Boeing with an air-to-air missile R-60. The missile damaged the right engine of the Boeing. The Boeing was hit, but still managed to stay in the air. However, in doing so, the Boeing turned 180 degrees to the left. It was at this moment that the false flag attack started falling apart.

According to Zhilin, part of the plan controlled by the US with Ukrainian hands executing it was to have the Boeing crash past the southern frontline by the Ukrainian-Russian border. Had the Boeing fallen there, securing the crash sites with the troops in response to international pressure was on top of all else effectively to allow Kiev to lift the encirclement of its brigades (currently pinned down by rebels) in the southern pocket by the Russian border.”

“When, however, the Boeing started to turn in the opposite direction and was still apparently manageable, the US-Ukrainian headquarters of the special operation panicked and ordered the Buk battery to destroy the plane in the air in order to pre-empt the possibility of the Boeing’s emergency landing. A Buk missile was fired and the plane was then finally destroyed.”

21WIRE spoke to former Czech diplomat and political analyst, Vladimir Suchan, who puts Zhilin’s comments into context of what was happening militarily at the time of the crash. Suchan explains, “If MH17 was hit right over the frontline over Snezhnoye, this would have placed the timing and location of the intended downing and crash site to either the territory controlled by the Ukrainian army, or much closer to the border between Russia and Ukraine where the “securing of the site” would allow lifting the strategic encirclement of the Ukrainian troops in the south and thus, on top of other objectives, saving Kiev’s armed forces from its first major military defeat.” (see ‘Military All-Out Offense’ section below)

If, indeed MH17 was struck by an air-to-air missile at that time, a distress call may have been sent to Kiev ATC, but as yet, Kiev officials may be reluctant to share, or release the entirety of its communications from July 17th.

At the time of this report being filed at 21WIRE, a second source to verify this testimony is not presently available. Zhilin’s account certainly makes sense when placed next to all ATC and satellite data released by Moscow.

However, flight recorder information and data from MH17′s black boxes would certainly be able to corroborate this timeline of events, and one hopes that Great Britain’s predetermined political stance against Russia does not prevent Downing Street, or MI5 Intelligence Services from releasing the black box information in its entirety and more importantly, a full and unedited disclosure to the media. More than likely, the BBC will have first access to this release, and how the BBC report their findings will be very telling.

Above, is one possible map of MH17 final minutes, as calculated from one source of available public data, available here:http://nikolay-istomin.livejournal.com/3057934.html

This account is also consistent with the location of key pieces of wreckage scattered over the wider crash site radius. It shows M17 turning back on itself, after being struck initially. If this was the final path, then it completely disapproves the US (US State Department) conspiracy theory that a rebel-controlled BUK missile hit the plane head-on from Snezhnoye (Snizhne).

This U-turn then also helps explain why Kiev’s first “leaked conversation of the rebels” (see ‘Kiev’s Botch Social Media Audio’ below) tried to place the rebel’s BUK battery at a completely different location in Debaltzevo, a few kilometers northwest of the main crash site at Grabovo. However, that would not explain the U-turn, which they tried so much to conceal — for it points to the Ukrainian jet fighter.

As part of their PR damage-control exercise, Washington released this Google Map-style graphic on Tuesday July 22nd, illustrating its theory that the rebel missile battery was now located in Snezhnoye:

Whistleblower: A Spanish Air Traffic Controller in Kiev
All evidence pointing to a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet in the same frame as MH17, also validates the testimony of ‘Carlos’, an ATC contractor in Kiev. ETN received information from an air traffic controller (Borispol Airport) in Kiev on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17:

“This Kiev air traffic controller is a citizen of Spain and was working in the Ukraine. He was taken off duty as a civil air-traffic controller along with other foreigners immediately after a Malaysia Airlines passenger aircraft was shot down over the Eastern Ukraine killing 295 passengers and crew on board. The air traffic controller suggested in a private evaluation and basing it on military sources in Kiev, that the Ukrainian military was behind this shoot down.

“Radar records were immediately confiscated after it became clear a passenger jet was shot down. Military air traffic controllers in internal communication acknowledged the military was involved, and some military chatter said they did not know where the order to shoot down the plane originated from. Obviously it happened after a series of errors, since the very same plane was escorted by two Ukrainian fighter jets until 3 minutes before it disappeared from radar.”

Again, real mounting evidence, which points to an obvious cover-up by Kiev and its NATO partners.

Crime scene investigation is important, although reports to date from the crash site in Grabovo do not inspire much confidence, that a thorough and independent forensic investigation will be carried out. The key evidence would be ballistics, including pieces of shrapnel retrieved from the wreckage. It should be easy to determine if they came from any of the following:

1. A bomb on board (this is still a possibility).
2. An air-to-air missile.
3. A surface-to-air missile.

After that, the autopsy of the bodies would reveal additional evidence about what really took place on July 17th. At present, the majority of the remains are being handled by the Netherlands government, and given their NATO involvement to date in the Ukrainian conflict, it’s debatable whether or not they would present any findings which do not square with Washington and Kiev’s narrow, yet ever-evolving narrative of the incident.

Finally, if MH17 was indeed shot down as a false flag provocation of war by either a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter, or a Ukrainian Army BUK SAM — or both, as much of the hard evidence suggests, then would Malaysia declare war on the Ukraine? Would the UN table a resolution backing sanctions against Ukrainian officials in Kiev for their role in this international war crime?

US-NATO’s Military Drill in the Black Sea Ended on July 17th
Russia’s Satellite Data and Public Presentation on Monday July 21st has put Washington on its back foot. The existence of this intelligence, now made public, along with other data in Russia’s possession, means that the Washington cannot show the real intelligence — which they too have. It’s no coincidence that US and NATO conducted a large-scale military and intelligence drill in the Black Sea just south of Crimea named, SEA BREEZE 2014, which just so happened to end on. . . July 7th.

The drill included hundreds of US military specialists running ‘war simulations’ in electronic warfare, data collection from a spy satellite, and ‘monitoring’ of all passenger aircraft flying in the region. A massive drill — yet another improbable coincidence.

Another smoking gun: Is it a coincidence that the US had its new experimental satellite positioned over Eastern Europe for 1-2 hours, and directly over Donetsk in eastern Ukraine from 5:06pm — 5:21pm. Taking this fact into consideration, alongside the other improbable ‘coincidences’, leads to an almost certain conclusion.

In addition to SEA BREEZE, both US and British armed forces had also scheduled a concurrent military exercise, code named, Rapid Trident 2014, a NATO event which takes place annually in and around the Ukraine, designed to “promote regional stability and security, strengthen partnership capacity and foster trust while improving interoperability between the land forces of Ukraine, and NATO and partner nations,” according to the US Forces in Europe website. Since March, the Pentagon has kept quiet regarding the number of US forces, and hardware assets expected to participate in the maneuvers.

According to US Army spokesman Col. Steven Warren, Rapid Trident is the only Ukraine military exercise the US planned to participate in this year, and it’s main purpose was, “To help the Ukrainian military improve its troops and weapons operability with NATO forces.”

Ukrainian Military All-Out Offensive
Timed For July 18th

Three uncomfortable realities in Kiev were prevailing before the downing of MH17 on July 17th:

First, the troops were losing morale, and suffering defections and other serious set-backs in an increasingly unpopular military theater of Eastern Ukraine. Kiev was losing the PR war hearts and minds in the Ukraine and abroad.

After the downing of MH17, Kiev garnered huge public sympathy and support, and just so happened to launch a massive offensive on July 18th, one which military analysts believe would have to have been planned many weeks in advance — and could not just be a knee-jerk reaction to the MH17 tragedy as government spokespersons in Kiev insist.

Secondly, they were losing the war. Behind the lines battle reports from Igor Strelkov’s blog at the time confirms this all-out offensive at Snezhnoye by the Kiev military planners against the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk — allowing the Ukrainian Army to penetrate deeper and deeper, in effect splitting Donetsk and Lugansk.

Vladimir Suchan adds,
“After the loss of MH17 and some talk about “humanitarian ceasefire”, the Kiev regime launched three massive offensives from the north, the west (from Artemovsk, which included a large tank attack) and in the south.

“Since it always takes some good time to prepare an offensive, this had to be planned sufficiently ahead, though, with a view of the desperate situation for the junta in the south, most likely at a very accelerated pace. http://voicesevas.ru/news/yugo-vostok/2968-voyna-na-yugo-vostoke-onlayn-18072014-hronika-sobytiy-post-obnovlyaetsya.html

“In this regard, it is also very plausible that some hope was put on having the command of Novororrysia paralyzed, busy and distracted over MH17. By all accounts, both the timing and location of the MH17 crash, has enabled a huge ‘game changer‘ in terms of how this conflict was previously going.”

If the international community were indeed to connect the prospect of a false flag attack on MH17 with the false flag attack by Maidan snipers back in February, and the attempted false flag attack with the Odessa massacre, perhaps the Ukrainian Civil War could be abated, for the right reasons.

Disturbing reports are also coming in about the Ukrainian Military dropping White Phosphorus on civilian targets this week, as forces continue bombarding areas surrounding of Lugansk. Here are two unconfirmed videos, possible evidence of unconventional chemical weapons being deployed over several locations near Lugansk People’s Republic of Novorossia, from July 20-21, 2014:

Thirdly, Kiev is going broke trying to fund what appears to be an ethnic cleansing campaign in eastern Ukraine. Sources from the Parliamentary budget office in Kiev now confirm that as of August 1st, Kiev can’t pay its military (who are, in fact, waging war against its own people and calling it ‘anti-terror operations).

“To continue the anti-terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine, it is necessary to amend the state budget and to find additional sources of its content. We do not have money to pay at least a cash security to our military from August”, stated Ukraine’s Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak, speaking in Parliament this week.

“According to Shlapak, funds previously provided by the state budget for these purposes has been calculated for the period prior to July 1st, and continued operations will require additional funds totaling 9 billion UAH ($1 billion). Infighting has already begun, as MP’s are now blamingthe Ministry of Defense and army staff for corruption and looting of money.

In the wake of the MH17 disaster, US and its NATO allies are responding with a renewed call for more military aid to Kiev and to fast-track the Ukraine’s membership into Washington’s overseas military surrogate, NATO. As an emergency response to “secure the crash site”, NATO stalwart, The Netherlands, are weighing up deploying NATO troops into the middle of this war zone. Such a move could easily cascade into something much worse should another bizarre “accident” occur, or some tragedy befalls Dutch troops inserted into the hot zone.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with strong words of condemnation, stating:
“No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on. As it stands, NATO is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale.”

While the US push Kiev eastwards to fight Washington’s proxy war against Russia, the political and financial situation in Kiev is rapidly falling apart.

On Thursday July 24th, Victoria Nuland’s puppet leader following a US-backed, violent military coup back in February, Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy ‘Yatz’ Yatsenyuk (photo, left) announced his resignation in connection with the collapse of a Washington-designed coalition and parliament blocking government initiatives.

Made-up ‘Evidence’ From Washington and Kiev
The talking point shift by the US media on Tuesday July 22nd was an obvious reaction to the Russian data dump. US media are now airing Washington DC’s revised conspiracy theories. Theory 1) “The rebels shot MH17 down by mistake”, and Theory 2) “Russia is responsible for creating the conditions for this tragedy”.

In reality, no evidence actually exists to date, other than anecdotal, that the rebels in the east possess any ‘BUK’ surface-to-air missile systems (see Washington and Kiev’s ‘BUK’ Missile Evidence Debunked’, below).

Close observers of Washington DC’s media blitz can only be left with a feeling of embarrassment, as the US State Department still clings to some semblance of continuity in the face of a total PR meltdown. As late as July 22nd, the US State Department was still attempting to pass-off its ‘evidence’ from social media (Twitter and YouTube), and backed-up by what it claims is “common sense”, that “clearly indicates Ukrainian militia shot down MH17”.

Since the incident on July 17th, the Kiev regime and US State Department have built their case against Rebels in eastern Ukraine and Moscow, and even Vladimire Putin himself, on the following items, which have all been thoroughly discredited by now:

1. The audio “tapes” issued by Kiev
2. A video and photos of BUK missile batteries issued by Kiev (of their own BUK missile batteries)
3. Claims by Kiev and supported by the West, that Ukraine had “no military aircraft in the air” at the time of the crash of the MH17 plane.

On July 22nd, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was forced to change Kiev’s story — a damage-control exercise to the overwhelming evidence against Ukraine. He has since reversed this position.

Suchan explains the western political media machine and its all-out effort to cast Russia and Putin as international pariahs over the incident:
“What has been thus established is that Ukraine, as well as the US, the EU, NATO, and other Western countries, have been systematically and grossly lying about evidence pertaining to the tragedy of MH17, thus willfully — and bluntly, abusing the tragedy and the demise of the victims and the suffering of their families for perverse political goals related to NATO expansionism and anti-Russian hysteria, and ‘Russophobia’, in order to support an openly fascist regime in Kiev, whose objective is the deliberate destruction of civilians and civilian infrastructure in east Ukraine.”

“The smearing campaign has also been used to demonize and criminalize anti-fascism and its resistance to a fascist dictatorship in Kiev, enrolled by Ukraine’s criminal oligarchs.”

Washington and Kiev’s ‘BUK’
Missile Evidence Debunked

Immediately after the MH17 crash event on July 17th, the Ukrainian government in Kiev quickly uploaded a brief YouTube video it purported to be ‘evidence’ of “a ‘BUK’ missile system being moved” out of a rebel-held area near Donetsk.

US State Department officials, and every US media outlet, led by CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS, along with major US talk radio hosts like Sean Hannity, immediately jumped on this 5 second YouTube video claiming it was, “Irrefutable proof that a Russian-made BUK missile system was being moved away after it shot down MH17”. That talking point began to cascade from media, and into public chatter. It seemed their job was all but done.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation newspaper The Sun, always ready to take any pro-war line to the extreme, led the ‘conflict pornography’ on news stands, intentionally inciting fear and jingoism, doing what it always does: nudge British working class readers in a predetermined direction and fuse public opinion among differing classes on divisive international issues.

No surprise then, as The Sun ran, “Putin’s Missile” as its headline the next morning. Similar covers and headlines were cloned across US and British media. Within hours of the news breaking — and despite this blanket coverage, not one of these newspapers or TV broadcasters offered any real evidence outside of anecdotal and wild speculation and conjectural theories.

Once again, we’ve witnessed world’s most powerful, highly coordinated and synchronized propaganda machine. Once it’s set in motion, most western consumers are helpless to fend off it’s relentless repeating and universal coverage across hundreds of media outlets owned in most part by 5 US, and 2 British corporations.

A similar attempt was made by Washington and London last September, when US Secretary of State John Kerry, along with then British Foreign Secretary William Hague, presented their now infamous claim of ‘open source evidence’ (YouTube videos) used to assign blame to the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack against its own people.

Many of the photos and videos were later proven to be faked and staged, and ‘the gas’ was made in Britain, and that ‘chemical attack’ was in fact staged by Syrian insurgents still being supported by the US-British-Saudi-Qatari Axis.

Washington’s initial ‘BUK Missile’ social media evidence seems to be rapidly heading down the same memory hole as its Syria predecessor, and soon, it will not be mentioned again by any US official. The speed at which it was released after the crash, and the fact that falsified audio, video, and photos have been intentionally released by the Kiev government in the wake of such a tragedy, demonstrates a clear motive to deceive the public about who is to blame for the MH17 event — using falsified evidence to build a case against ‘pro-Russian separatists’ and Moscow, and even Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.

What is obvious, but not being discussed in mainstream western circles, is that like Syria, Washington and its NATO allies have been openly conducting a proxy war in the Ukraine, and have managed to control media coverage in the west so that what clearly a Civil War in the Ukraine — is being cynically, and very wrongly labeled as an “anti-terror operation.”

On a daily basis, the Ukrainian Military are carrying out attacks on civilian targets all over Eastern Ukraine, killing thousands of its own innocent citizens with the full logistical and financial backing of the Washington and NATO.

In Syria, the tables are reversed, where the government in Damascus is clearly fighting against known al Qaeda and ISIS-linked foreign terrorists brigades, as Washington and London politicians and media insist on calling it a ‘civil war’. Both are classic proxy wars being waged by the NATO block of nations.

More Falsified and Sloppy ‘Evidence’ Supplied
By SBU Defense Ministry in Kiev

Let’s start with the famous 5 second YouTube video released by Kiev and lauded by Washington, CNN, ABC, FOX et all, of a BUK missile battery being moved, we were told, secretly by rebels out of the area after the plane crash.

Not only does signage clearly visible in the video place this truck in Krasnoarmeysk — a town which has been in control of the Ukrainian Army since May 11th. Here is one early news release of the now discredited video.

In the absence of any real evidence or data, it’s worth asking who has paid large sums of money to create a 3-D computer animation sequences, of what the US/Kiev governments claim look place?

In addition to falsified the YouTube video, Kiev also published falsified photos of an alleged BUK missile system on July 19th. Kiev’s Security Service (SBU) published photos online it claimed showed ‘Russia’ secretly withdrawing a BUK-M system from the Ukraine civil war zone, but shortly after publishing this article the photos in question were deleted.

The photo released by Kiev was actually an image taken of its own military’s BUK missiles — ironically, our readers will find that Kiev showing photos of its own systems is much closer to the real story than we previously thought.

Somewhat haphazardly, Kiev’s SBU, which is overseen by the new CIA station occupying the top floor in the same building in Kiev, released two more videos meant to assign blame to rebels in Donetsk, with Kiev claiming these were of Russian-made BUK-M being transported back to Russia on July 18th after the crash — but both videos were clearly shot during the winter time, with one found to have been previously published in March. Again, more intentional lying by Kiev, in order to assign blame to ‘pro-Russian Separatists’, and Moscow.

Kiev’s Botched Social Media ‘Audio Clips’
Early on, Washington and the entire western media machine, made much of two audio ‘tapes’ released via YouTube by Kiev officials, alleged to be taken from conversations between ‘pro-Russian separatist’ rebel commanders.

Both Kiev and Washington held these up as ‘evidence’ of rebels using a BUK SAM missile system to shoot down MH17. The only problem here, is that both ‘tapes’ contradict each other regarding the location of the alleged missile batteries.

Vladimir Suchan points out the obvious, “The identification of the direction of the blast then also disproves the junta’s videos with “leaked conversations” from yesterday and today–for the missile could not then be launched either from Debaltzevo, or Donetsk, as claimed on both tapes -these places were by then a bit far, and not in front of MH17.

That’s also evidently why, today the junta’s sites are claiming that the BUK missile battery was supposed to be in Snezhnoye, forgetting all about their first tape leak with commander ‘Bes’ from Gorlovka (40 miles north-west). If the Ukrainian Army used a BUK missile, then it would most likely have been fired from north of Amvrosivka, which is a place of a large concentration of Ukrainian troops. It is also southwest of Torez and Snezhnoye in the proximity of which the crash site is located. BUK missiles have a range of up to 20 miles. Enough for a battery in the Amvrosivka region.”

Zero Hedge reported on July 17th:

“The only problem is that there is absolutely no way to confirm who “Major” and “Grek” are, and considering the entire Ukraine civil war has been merely one provocation and counter-provocation after another, explicitly staged in advance by either the CIA on the side of Kiev or the Kremlin on the Russian side, one does have to wonder whether the said two “smoking gun” participants aren’t merely two random people speaking Russian and reading off a script?

The clip concludes with another unnamed “Militant” who supposedly is speaking to Mykola Kozitsyn, one of the purported leaders of the Cossacks operating in east Ukraine. The Militant makes it clear to Kozitsyn that it is not a military plane and has “Malaysian Airlines” written on the side. One wonders just where one could find such writing on the side of the crashed and exploded fuselage but that one is for the forensics to decide.”

In addition, multiple independent analysis’s of these audio recordings also reveals that these audio recordings were not integral files, indicating they were spliced together, as is evident from the different time stamp dates visible from the raw audio data. It also reveals at least one portion was recorded, or edited on July 16th — before the crash of MH17. ITAR-TASS Agency confirms this:

“The tape’s second fragment consists of three pieces but was presented as a single audio recording. However, a spectral and time analysis has showed that the dialog was cut into pieces and then assembled. Short pauses in the tape are very indicative: the audio file has preserved time marks which show that the dialog was assembled from various episodes, the expert said.

The tape’s linguistic analysis also shows that those who made the faked tape clearly did not have enough material and time, the expert said. That is why, speech fragments can hardly correlate with each other in terms of their sense and the spectral picture of audio materials also differs, the expert said. But the most indicative moment is that the audio tape clearly shows that it was created almost a day before the airliner crash, the expert said.”

Only one conclusion can be drawn here: these tapes were faked, and released after the crash in order to assign blame on rebels and Russia for this event.

In addition to this, video production on both Kiev ‘tapes’ matches a previous YouTube video — same graphics style and editing, which was previously proven to be another fake.

Interestingly, Ukrainian producers used the same actor, an alleged Cossack rebel commander, Mykola Kozitsyn, in their MH17 audio production. Zero Hedge also reveals:
“Finally, we clearly have no way of authenticating the recording or the participants, it was just over a month ago, on June 5, when in another attempt to cast blame and discredit the separatists, Ukraine released another trademark YouTube clip seeking to disparage and frame Kozitsyn, entitled “Russian Cossack Formations are Responsible For Chaos In Ukraine.”

In summary, multiple falsified information releases by Kiev government officials only points to one conclusion: a cover-up. By contrast, Russia officials have not released any falsified or fraudulent ‘evidence’ to assign blame to any parties — instead Moscow released all of its verifiable data surrounding the incident which has now forced Washington to rethink its wild approach which previously tried to pin responsibility on Russia itself. . . .

IMAGE: President Obama and John Kerry unable to settle on a version of events (Photo: RCJ)

US Now in Full Retreat and Damage-Control Mode
Amazingly, in a US State Department briefing led by Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf on Tuesday July 22nd, Harf insisted that, yes, US intelligence officials still include these ‘social media’ posts as part of what Secretary of State John Kerry describes as a “mountain of evidence”.

Obviously under great pressure to show strength in the face of a complete collapse in confidence, Harf could be seen stuttering and twitching nervously as difficult questions were raised by members of the media.

In one of the biggest flops in State Dept. history, Harf appeared so desperate to shed any further questions on ‘social media evidence’, that she opted for a fatal gaff — stating on record that “US intelligence officials have authenticated the audio”. Unless she means they’ve authenticated these as fake, this statement may come back to haunt US officials. Many are now calling it a bold-faced lie, designed to cover-up the mishandling and over-politicization of posts found on social media, shamelessly used by Washington to promote a war agenda.

As a result, CNN and others are now scavenging the tragedy, trying to hide the emerging facts under the heap of its “fair and balanced” mainstream conspiracy theories. The story has now shifted from what happened, to how US politicians are dealing with the crisis, as was evident after one major outlet who ran this headline, “Obama: What exactly are they trying to hide?”

On Tuesday, the US government finally admitted (as well as it could), that it had been bluffing about its ‘certainty’ that Russia was behind the downing of Malaysian Air Flight MH-17.

Washington’s New Conspiracy Theory
In a damage control exercise this past Tuesday, Washington invited members of the majors like the Washington Post and the LA Times, to an ‘intelligence update’ briefing, and a press conference run by the inexperienced Marie Harf.

The Los Angeles Times reported:
“US intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. US officials said it was possible the SA-11 [anti-aircraft missile] was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.”

The quiet U-turn by Washington signals that its previous case blaming the rebels has been destroyed, and rather than concede that the Ukrainian Army has actually shot down MH17, they’ve chosen to instead concoct a new revision about a “rogue defector” and his “rogue team” who happen to be wearing Ukrainian Army uniforms.

Washington’s new and creative official conspiracy theories now include:

1. Ukrainian separatists shot down plane by mistake after misreading ‘fuzzy’ radar images on a much-too sophisticated AS-11 system (as if US intelligence officials were actually there), probably mistook the airliner for a Ukrainian military plane (reverting to their original line).

2. Missile that brought down Malaysian jet probably fired by ‘ill-trained crew’ of pro-Russian rebels

The “ill-trained crew” theory is the work of one US official who, “requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue”. And who could blame him?

Finally, Washington ends up at a place it knows well — reducing a major geopolitical event or crime down to the work of a lone wolf, or in this case, a ‘rogue defector’ from the Ukrainian Army, an image which will no doubt fuel even more wild commentary by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, George Stephanopoulos and Sean Hannity.

American investigative reporter Robert Parry (who broke many of the Iran-Contra scandal for AP and Newsweek in the 80′s) published this on Consortium News, July 20th (based on his CIA source):
“What I’ve been told by one source, who has provided accurate information on similar matters in the past, is that US intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms.”

This account is fully consistent with

1) the “anonymous US intelligence officers’ briefing from US mainstream media on Tuesday July 22,” as reported,

2) the briefing by the Russian Ministry of Defense on July 21 and,

3) Alexandr Zhilin’s analysis previously covered.

Backpedaling even further, Washington has officially downgraded its overall indictment, with another ‘senior intelligence official’ announcing a brand new party line — a weaker thesis, somehow claiming that, “Russia created the conditions for this to happen.”

More Western Media Manipulation
London’s media arms have also sprung into action in an attempt to reinforce Washington-NATO-Kiev Axis assignment of guilt. In a classic demonstration of its pro-Foreign Office institutional bias, Guardian writer Shawn Walker carefully attempts to contain the western guilty verdict, considering only ‘pro-Russian rebels’ and intentionally reinforcing the ‘Rebel-BUK conspiracy theory’.

Walker states, “Claims by pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine that they have never been in possession of the missile launcher apparently used to down flight MH17 are looking increasingly flimsy, as several witnesses told the Guardian they had seen what appeared to be a Buk missile launcher in the vicinity of the crash site last Thursday.

The sightings back up a number of photographs and videos posted online that put the Buk system close to the crash site on the day of the disaster. Just before lunchtime last Thursday, prior to the Malaysia Airlines plane’s takeoff, a Buk was driven through Gagarin Street, one of the central thoroughfares of Torez, witnesses said.”

The Guardian could very well be relaying genuine eyewitness accounts here, but only advanced media watchers will have noticed the slight of hand being applied here: Walker has ruled out any other possible suspects other than rebels — skillfully hiding his paper’s bias in reporting by pouring evidence collected into a pre-determined verdict.

If the Guardian were not applying an institutional (British Foreign Office pre-determined conclusion) bias, then its editor would have combined the eyewitness accounts to the clear satellite photographic evidence provided by the Russian authorities, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who was really in possession of these surface-to-air missile systems — the Ukrainian military.

Official US Plan to Destroy
Civilian Aircraft for Diplomatic Gain

The first official known plan to fake the destruction of a civilian aircraft was drafted by the US Pentagon in 1962. A former NSA analyst at Strategic Culture reports:
“The use of commercial passenger planes as false flag targets of opportunity for US national security and intelligence planners is nothing new.

The US National Archives yielded an explosive formerly classified document some five months before the 9/11 attack in 2001. The document, “Justification for US Military Intervention in Cuba,” outlined for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, a series of false flag attacks, code named Operation Northwoods, which would be carried out by the United States on various targets but be blamed on the Fidel Castro government of Cuba. Dated March 13, 1962, the Top Secret Northwoods document was prepared by America’s top covert Special Operations officer, General Edward Lansdale.”

The Northwoods plans called for the sinking of a boatload of Cuban refugees en route from Cuba to US shores, blowing up an American ship in Cuban waters, and more importantly in light of the recent downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, faking a Cuban Air Force attack on a civilian jetliner.

Lansdale and his Northoods planners concluded that the US invasion of Cuba would receive wide support as a result of an outraged public. The document states:
“World opinion and the United Nations forum should be favorably affected by developing the international image of Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere.”

Most certainly, this blueprint by US intelligence is mirrored today in 2014, as the US and its NATO member allies (and media assets in tow) using totally synchronized messaging — dominated by wild speculation, hyperbole and hysteria characterizing the rebels in the east of Ukraine as terrorists, Russia as the enemy, and President Vladimir Putin as ‘the personification of evil’ for American and British media consumers.

All we need now is the truth.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Russia Has Not ‘Invaded’ Ukraine. Instead, Russia Has Opened its Borders to Defecting Ukrainian Soldiers

August 29th, 2014 - by admin

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts / Global Research & Paula Slier / RT News – 2014-08-29 23:22:22

Washington Piles Lie Upon Lie. Accuses Russia of Having “Invaded Ukraine”

(August 28, 2014) — More than 400 people picketed the Ukrainian governments offices in Kiev, saying the authorities abandoned soldiers. Troops in one city have been encircled by anti-government forces for five days now and despair is growing both among the soldiers and their families.

Washington Piles Lie Upon Lie.
Accuses Russia of Having “Invaded Ukraine”

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts / Global Research

(August 29, 2014) — The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery.

How do we know that this is a lie? Is it because we have heard nothing but lies about Russia from NATO, from US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, from assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, from Obama and his entire regime of pathological liars, and from the British, German, and French governments along with the BBC and the entirety of the Western media?

This, of course, is a good reason for knowing that the latest Western propaganda is a lie. Those who are pathological liars don’t suddenly start telling the truth. But there are even better rasons for understanding that Russia has not invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops.

One reason is that Putin has invested heavily in diplomacy backed by unprovocative behavior. He would not risk his bet on diplomacy by sending in troops too few in number to have a decisive effect on the outcome.

Another reason is that if Putin decides he has no alternative to sending the Russian military to protect the Russian residents in eastern and southern Ukraine, Putin will send in enough troops to do the job quickly as he did in Georgia when the American and Israeli trained Georgian army invaded South Ossetia and was destroyed in a few hours by the Russian response. If you hear that 100,000 Russian troops accompanied by air cover have invaded Ukraine, it would be a more believable claim.

A third reason is that the Russian military does not need to send troops into Ukraine in order to stop the bombing and artillery shelling of the Russian populations by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev. The Russian air force can easily and quickly destroy the Ukrainian air force and artillery and, thereby, stop the Ukrainian attack on the secessionist provinces.

It was only two weeks ago that a fabricated report spread by the UK Guardian and the BBC that a Russian armored convoy entered Ukraine and was destroyed by the Ukrainian Military. And two weeks prior to that we had the hoax of the satellite images allegedly released by the US State Department that the corrupt US ambassador in Kiev spread around the world on social media allegedly showing that Russian forces were firing into Ukraine. One or two weeks from now we will have another lie, and another a week or two after that, and so on.

The cumulative effect of lie piled upon lie for most people is to build the view that the Russians are up to no good. Once this view is established, Western governments can take more serious moves against Russia.

The alleged entry of 1,000 Russian soldiers into Ukraine has been declared by NATO Brigadier General Niko Tak to be a “significant escalation in Russia’s military interference in Ukraine.” The champion liar Samantha Power told the US Security Council that “Russia has to stop lying.” The UK ambassador to the UN said that Russia was guilty of “a clear violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.” UK prime minister Cameron warned Russia of “further consequences.”

German chancellor Merkel announced that there would be more sanctions. A German Security Council advisor declared that “war with Russia is an option.” Polish foreign minister Sikorski called it Russian aggression that required international action. French president Hollande declared Russia’s behavior to be “intolerable.” Ukraine’s security council imposed mandatory conscription.

This suicidal drive toward war with Russia by Europe’s leaders is based entirely on a transparent lie that 1,000 Russian troops crossed into Ukraine

Of course the Western media followed in lock-step. The BBC, CNN, and Die Welt are among the most reckless and irresponsible.

The mountain of lies piled up by Western governments and media has obscured the true story. The US government orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and imposed a US puppet in Kiev.

Washington’s puppet government began issuing threats and committing violent acts against the Russian populations in the former Russian territories that Soviet leaders attached to Ukraine. The Russian people in eastern and southern Ukraine resisted the threat brought to them by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev.

Washington continually accuses the Russian government of supporting the people in the territories who have voted their separation from Ukraine. There would be no war, Washington alleges, except for Russian support.

But, of course, Washington could easily stop the violence by ordering its puppet government in Kiev to stop the bombing and shelling of the former Russian provinces. If Russia can tell the “separatists” not to fight, Washington can tell Kiev not to fight.

The only possible conclusion from the facts is that Washington is determined to involve Europe in a war with Russia or at least in an armed standoff in order to break up Europe’s political and economic relations with Russia.

Europe’s leaders are going along with this because European countries, except for Charles de Gaulle’s France, have not had independent foreign policies since the end of World War II. They follow Washington’s lead and are well paid for doing so.

The inability of Europe to produce independent leadership dooms Russian President Putin’s diplomacy to failure. If European capitals cannot make decisions independently of Washington, there is no scope for Putin’s diplomacy.

Notice that the very day after Putin met with Washington’s Ukrainian vassal in an effort to resolve the situation, the new lie of Russian invasion was issued in order to ensure that no good can come of the meeting in which Putin invested his time and energy.

Washington’s only interest is in hegemony. Washington has no interest in resolving the situation that Washington itself created in order to bring discomfort and confusion to Russia. With the caveat that the situation could be resolved by Ukrainian economic collapse, otherwise the longer Putin waits to resolve the situation by force, the more difficult the task will be.

Putin Calls on Ukraine Militia To Let
Blocked Kiev Troops Cross into Russia

Paula Slier / RT News

(August 28, 2014) — President Putin has called on the self-defense militias in Ukraine to provide Kiev’s military units blocked in the east of the country with a safe humanitarian corridor to cross into Russia.

“It is clear the militia has achieved a major success in intercepting Kiev’s military operation, which represents a grave danger to the population of Donbass and which has already led to the loss of many lives among peaceful residents,” the Russian leader said in a statement.

As a result of militias’ counter-offense, large numbers of Ukrainian troops – many of whom were taking part in Kiev’s so-called anti-terrorist operation “against their will” and “just following orders” – have been surrounded, the President added.

“I call on the militia groups to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian service members who have been surrounded, so as to avoid any needless loss of life, giving them the opportunity to leave the combat area unimpeded and reunite with their families, to return them to their mothers, wives and children, and to quickly provide medical assistance to those who were injured in the course of the military operation,” Putin said.

Ukrainian troops have been routinely crossing into Russian territory over the course of the conflict seeking refuge from militia, who were pushing them towards the border, or after negotiating a safe passage from an encirclement. On Wednesday alone over 60 Kiev troops crossed into Russia, bringing the total number of those who fled to safety to over 600 men.

After getting medical help, if needed, Kiev’s troops were allowed to freely return to Ukraine. Not all of the did, however, fearing prosecution, as the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s office has launched over 1,000 investigations into those men on charges of disobedience, desertion and evasion of military service.

Russia in the meantime is ready and will provide aid to Ukraine’s regions suffering from a humanitarian disaster, the Russian leader added.

“I once again call on the Ukrainian authorities to immediately stop military actions, cease fire, sit down at the negotiating table with Donbass representatives and resolve all the accumulated problems exclusively via peaceful means,” Putin said according to the Kremlin’s press service.

Meanwhile on Thursday, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry in Kiev, demanding resignation of President Petro Poroshenko and the defense minister over the poor handling of the military operation in the southeast. The demonstrators, many of whom were mothers and wives of the soldiers involved in the fighting in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, were in despair following the encirclement of large groups of Kiev’s troops.

The Russian president’s call for a humanitarian corridor comes hours after the UN Security Council blocked a Russia proposed statement on a mutual ceasefire and peace talks in Ukraine – and just minutes after US President Barack Obama blasted at Russia and threatened it with more sanctions over its purportedly “direct role” in the Ukrainian crisis.

Over 400 Ukrainian Soldiers Flee to Russia, Ask for Refuge
RT News

(August 4, 2014) — A total of 438 soldiers, including 164 Ukrainian border guards have been allowed to cross into Russia on Sunday night after they requested sanctuary. RT correspondent Marina Kosareva has the details.

Over 60 Ukrainian Troops Cross
Into Russia Seeking Refuge

Paula Slier / RT News

(August 28, 2014) — A group of 62 Ukrainian troops have crossed into Russia’s Rostov Region seeking shelter to save their lives amid an intensified counteroffensive recently launched by anti-Kiev militia in southeastern Ukraine.

“Today, 62 servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces turned to Russian border guards asking to let them into the Russian territory near Russia’s settlement of Shramko, Matveyevo-Kurgansky district, with the aim to save their lives,” the spokesman for the FSB’s border guard office in the Rostov Region, Nikolai Sinitsyn, told Itar-Tass news agency on Wednesday.

They were allowed to cross and provided with a transit corridor on the principles of humanism, but only after they left their weapons on the Ukrainian side of the border, Sinitsyn added.

This case became the latest in a series of similar incidents where a total of over 500 Ukrainian troops crossed into Russia since July seeking refuge and medical help.

Earlier this week, Ukraine released videos showing alleged Russian paratroopers captured on Ukrainian territory. Russian Defense Ministry sources were saying that they probably crossed the border by mistake during a routine patrol of an area which wasn’t manned.

President Putin, when asked about the issue said he hoped it won’t be blown out of proportion, since Ukrainian troops regularly cross into Russian territory, sometimes in armored vehicles and were never charged with anything and always allowed to return to Ukraine freely.

Kiev’s renewed accusations of Russian military’s alleged operations on Ukrainian territory are “nothing new,” says Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding that Russia regularly refutes such reports. Meanwhile Kiev says it has launched a preliminary investigation into the detained men on suspicion of “aiding terrorist groups.”

Ukraine’s own troops in the meantime are also facing prosecution, with General Prosecutor’s office announcing on Wednesday that 1,083 criminal proceeding had been launched since the beginning of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, with people being charged for “disobedience, unauthorized abandonment of a military unit or place of service, desertion, evasion of military service in another way, and so on.”

Anti-Kiev militia in the meantime announced that almost 90 Ukrainian troops laid down their arms and surrendered on Wednesday alone, following at least 129 the day before, Ria reports.

On Sunday, the main headquarters of the Donetsk People’s Republic announced that it had launched a counteroffensive against Kiev’s “punitive forces” in the region, blocking and surrounding many of the military and paramilitary units.

The military equipment captured from local army depots and those forces surrendering en masse has allowed militia to form 2 tank battalions, 3 multiple launcher rocket system batteries, 2 self-propelled howitzer batteries, 3 cannon battalions of various calibers and 8 mortar batteries, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksander Zakharchenko told the press at the time.

The DPR army will no more act in small groups as instead full-bodied independent military units had been formed, he added, announcing the beginning of a major counter-offensive but at the same time calling on Ukrainian troops to surrender and leave the territory of the republic, promising absolute safety for everyone not involved in war crimes against the civilian population.

Ukraine has been engulfed in a violent internal conflict since April, when Kiev’s military began its crackdown on the southeast parts of the country, which refused to recognize the coup-installed government.

According to United Nations’ estimates released Tuesday, over 2,249 people have so far been killed and over 6,033 wounded in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The number of internally displaced Ukrainians has reached 190,000, with another 207,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.

‘You Abandoned Us’: Ukrainian Soldiers,
Their Relatives, Accuse Kiev of Neglect

Ukraine President Blames Military Failure on Deserting Commanders

RT News

(August 28, 2014) — Petro Poroshenko has blamed Kiev troops’ blunder in the battle for the town of Ilovaysk in the south-east on two deserted unit commanders. Kiev authorities have opened over 1,000 investigations into Ukrainian soldiers who deserted from the army.

“To a large extent, the events in Ilovaysk were caused by the leaders of the two units, who deserted their defensive line and created an emergency situation to their brothers in arms,” Poroshenko said in his opening word at the meeting of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

The president stressed that the Ukrainian state will take drastic measures “to prevent any betrayal or desertion” during the operation in the southeast. The strategic town of Ilovaysk in Donetsk Region was retaken by the self-defense forces after several days of fighting on Tuesday, which led to the encirclement of five National Guard battalions.

The military failure caused a wave of rallies in Kiev and across the country as the protesters blocked Kiev’s main street and demanded Poroshenko and the country’s top military commanders resign.

As for the situation in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where the militias are advancing on Kiev’s forces, the president said that it’s “extremely complicated. . . but controllable, so that we don’t panic.”

However, National Security Council spokesman, Andrey Lysenko, said government forces took Ilovaysk under control on Thursday. According to the spokesman, the trapped government troops received reinforcement on Wednesday. Interfax-Ukraine news agency, which cited Lysenko, stressed that his claims aren’t confirmed by any of its other sources.

Kiev authorities have opened over 1,000 investigations into Ukrainian soldiers who deserted from the army. Protests of soldiers’ mothers and wives who don’t want them to fight have become frequent as troops say they have been abandoned by the government.

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s office announced that 1,083 criminal proceeding of desertion had been launched since the beginning of the ‘anti-terrorist’ operation.

Kiev troops have been charged with “disobedience, unauthorized abandonment of a military unit or place of service, desertion, evasion of military service in another way, and so on.”

There have been a number of cases in which Ukrainian soldiers left their military hardware and surrendered to anti-government forces. Anti-Kiev militia, meanwhile announced that almost 90 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered on Wednesday alone, following at least 129 the day before, RIA Novosti reports.

The soldiers claim that Ukrainian media underreports the number of casualties in the country’s east. “About 70 soldiers die every day, but they say it’s only three or four per day on TV,” an unnamed militia soldier told Hromadske.TV.

According to Ukraine’s National Security Council spokesman Andrey Lysenko, at least 722 military personnel were killed and 2,625 others injured during the so-called ‘anti-terrorist’ operation in Ukraine’s east. However, the self-defense forces in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions say the number of casualties is much higher and Kiev is concealing the data, reports Novorossiya news agency. Over 400 Ukrainian troops have crossed into Russia for refuge.

Since the beginning of the military operation in Ukraine’s east, the relatives of Kiev troops have repeatedly accused the government of inaction and demanded it stop the crackdown in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

Protests Are Frequent Near Military Bases
“When my husband was captured, how did you talk to me for the first time? You were swearing at me!” a woman shouted at an unnamed Kiev commander in the city of Novograd-Volynsky, Zhytomyr Region, western Ukraine, as reported by Hromadske.TV.

“When it comes to captured soldiers what are you doing?” she added, sobbing. “I don’t need my son in a coffin being called a hero! I need my hero at home! Alive! And they’re yelling ‘Glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes!’ But I don’t need THIS Ukraine!” shouted another woman.

The protests have been held in several western major Ukrainian cities, such as Ivano-Frankovsk, Nikolaev, Lvov and Zhitomir. At the beginning of August, mothers of Kiev soldiers gathered in the southern city of Odessa to take part in a flash mob against the military operation. They wore slogans saying “Children should be born, not killed.”

The soldiers taking part in the military operation in the country’s east also feel frustration towards the Kiev government.

“Colonel, tell me one thing,” shouted a Ukrainian soldier at one of the Kiev commanders. “When we were at Saur-Mogila [a strategic point in the Donetsk Region] for two days waiting for reinforcements, why were we abandoned? We got out of the encirclement. And the officers told us, ‘Oh, you’re alive!'” he added.

Ukraine has faced a violent internal conflict since April, when Kiev started a crackdown in the country’s eastern regions, which refused to recognize the coup-installed government.

According to United Nations’ estimates released Tuesday, over 2,249 people have so far been killed and over 6,033 wounded in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The number of internally-displaced Ukrainians has reached 190,000, with another 207,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

High-powered Weapons Go Missing as Pentagon’s Arming of Local Police Goes Awry

August 29th, 2014 - by admin

Jim Avila, Daniel Rivero and Serena Marshall / ABC World News & Daniel Rivero / Fusion – 2014-08-29 22:39:38


Investigation: Military Guns Missing From Police Agencies
Jim Avila, Daniel Rivero and Serena Marshall / ABC World News & Fusion

(August 29, 2014) — The guns-drawn streets of Ferguson jolted America awake to the militarization of the nation’s police. Local cops, often untrained in military tactics, may be carrying assault rifles used by our Marines and even Special Forces, commanding American boulevards from atop armored personnel carriers — all using surplus weaponry donated by the Pentagon in a program designed to better equip civilian police against terrorists and heavily armed criminals.

“These are tools that law enforcement unfortunately needs,” Lt. Mitchell O’Brien with the Huntington Beach, California, Police Department told ABC News. “In North Hollywood, you had law enforcement officers going to B&B guns, looking for weapons so they could fight some criminals that had heavily armed, or were heavily armed with assault weapons.”

Also unfortunate, however, as we found in an ABC News/Fusion investigation, was that some police forces are not keeping track of these high-powered weapons.

Huntington Beach, California, was given 23 M-16s and one is missing.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program, haven’t received anything since 1999,” O’Brien said.

In fact, it’s a huge nationwide problem.

The Pentagon suspended three entire states — Alabama, North Carolina and Minnesota — for failure to comply with the annual inventory requirements.

In addition, 146 individual law enforcement agencies in 36 states have been suspended since 2007.

Seven departments have been kicked out forever and ordered to return every weapon passed on to them by the Pentagon because of repeated issues with these military-style weapons.

Georgia departments have lost four M-16s and seven M14 machine guns, not to mention 13 military issued 45-caliber handguns.

Clayton County, Georgia lost an M-16, and officials understand the concern.

“Any time a weapon like this ends up missing, that has the possibility of ending up in the wrong hands. It is of concern,” Capt. Angelo Daniel of the Clayton County Police told ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Not all of the missing weapons are simply lost.

The sheriff of Rising Star, Texas, a town of 800 people, one police officer and no murders this decade, was indicted for selling and pawning $4 million-worth of high-value military equipment, including a machine gun.

“It just appears that the Pentagon’s not minding the store,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Tax Payers for Common Sense, told ABC News, “that once the inventory is gone, it’s out of sight, out of mind — and we can’t afford to have weapons of this type walking around the streets.”

“If the government’s going to give away billions of dollars in military hardware, they should be sure that they are keeping track of where it’s actually going,” Ellis added. “And it’s shocking to find out that we are seeing M-16s, other automatic weapons that are being lost or simply walking out of the police departments.”

O’Brien in Huntington Beach told ABC News that officials think the weapon they lost was melted down, but they aren’t really sure.

“Probably, [it was] one of those things where we used it for parts and the spare parts probably got discarded at some point — but again, its inconclusive,” he said. “But we are pretty confident nobody got into our armory and took it.”

In Hyattsville, Maryland, the police department was suspended this past April after an M-16 was stolen from an off-duty officer’s patrol car in July 2010. But the department wasn’t even aware of its suspension until Aug. 27, when ABC News called to inquire.

In a statement to ABC News, the department wrote: “Our agency is currently working with state and federal coordinators of the of the (sic) Military Surplus Program to have the suspension lifted.”

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told ABC News in a statement, “The department takes its responsibilities very seriously when it comes to property accountability.”

“Thousands of controlled property items have been provided to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) through this program and each are inventoried yearly,” Kirby added. “States and LEAs that don’t properly comply with this rule can and are suspended by our Law Enforcement Support Office. I’d like to note that over 98 percent of the more than 8,000 participating law enforcement agencies remain in good standing within the program. The fact that these LEAs and states were suspended is evidence that DoD [the Department of Defense] is providing oversight and taking action when LEAs are not providing proper accountability of the equipment entrusted to their use.

“[Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel] is participating in the president’s review of all federal programs and funding that enable state and local law enforcement to purchase or obtain military-grade equipment,” the statement continued. “Within that, the secretary will be reviewing the 1033 program administered by DoD. It would be inappropriate to speculate on the secretary’s decisions before the review is complete.

The Pentagon’s “1033 program” is described as the ability for the secretary of defense to “transfer” property to state and local agencies, and includes — in addition to weapons — transfer of computers, furniture, safety equipment and uniforms.

ABC News‘ Dana Hughes Contributed to this report.

Fusion Investigates: Are police profiting from ‘missing’ military equipment?
Kelcy Indictment

The case was dismissed following Kelcy’s death.

The Rising Star Police Department has since distanced itself from the scandal.

“None of the personnel that was working here at that time is working here any more,” police Lt. Jackson Weger told Fusion by phone.

Kelcy wasn’t the only police officer accused of abusing the Pentagon’s program.

In Columbus, Ohio, officer Steven E. Dean was sentenced to two and a half years in jail earlier this month after a similar federal investigation found him guilty of stealing and selling some $250,000 worth of federally owned property that was given to his department through the 1033 program.

Dean diverted more than $130,000 worth of heavy equipment, construction equipment, and vehicles, plus an additional $7,000 worth of restaurant equipment, and nearly $100,000 worth of materials that were sold for scrap, according to the statement of facts issued by the prosecution. Dean pleaded guilty to all charges.

To read the complete Kelcy Indictment, Click Here.

The case, which resulted in the Columbus Police Department’s suspension from the Pentagon program, does not appear to have involved the illegal transfer of any weapons. The department has since been readmitted into the 1033 program.

At times, the practice of profiting from the Pentagon program has been officially sanctioned and backed by an entire police department. A 2012 investigation by the Arizona Republic found that the Pinal Sheriff’s Office was routinely trying to balance its budget by selling federal property (vehicles, computers, defibrillators) obtained for free through the 1033 program.

The department was given a “Million Dollar Customer” award by the Pentagon a few weeks before the investigation was published, according to a USA Today report.

But after the report was published, the Pinal Sheriff’s Office was suspended from the program and the Pentagon ordered them to retrieve the hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment it had sold or leased to third parties. The department’s suspension has since been lifted. Fusion reached out to the Pinal Sheriff’s Office for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.

Pentagon spokeswoman Michelle McCaskill says the federal government maintains tight controls on all equipment transfers, and insists the program “does not push the excess equipment on any agency.”

But Lt. Mike Hopson of the Ennis Police Department in Texas tells a different story. He says he felt like the Pentagon was foisting unwanted equipment on his police department.

“Some of our people went down to pick up a station wagon and another little vehicle, and they were trying to give us helicopters and aircraft carriers and stuff like that,” Hopson said.

The Ennis Police Department was suspended from the program in 2013 for losing an armored vehicle that they maintain they never got in the first place. Curiously, that suspension was lifted today, according to police Captain David Anthony.

In a brief phone conversation with Fusion, Anthony said the suspension ended today, but wouldn’t say why. The police captain said he is not allowed to talk about the matter in any more detail, per orders of state coordinator Sklor Hearn, who has also refused to speak to Fusion.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Why Israel’s Bombardment of Gaza Neighborhood Left US Officers ‘Stunned’

August 29th, 2014 - by admin

Mark Perry / Al Jazeera America – 2014-08-29 22:21:56


‘The only possible reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period of time as possible . . . It’s not mowing the lawn. It’s removing the topsoil.’
— A senior US military officer

(August 27, 2014) — The cease-fire announced Tuesday between Israel and Palestinian factions — if it holds — will end seven weeks of fighting that killed more than 2,200 Gazans and 69 Israelis. But as the rival camps seek to put their spin on the outcome, one assessment of Israel’s Gaza operation that won’t be publicized is the US military’s.

Though the Pentagon shies from publicly expressing judgments that might fall afoul of a decidedly pro-Israel Congress, senior US military sources speaking on condition of anonymity offered scathing assessments of Israeli tactics, particularly in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City.

One of the more curious moments in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge came on July 20, when a live microphone at Fox News caught US Secretary of State John Kerry commenting sarcastically on Israel’s military action. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”

Rain of High-explosive Shells
Kerry’s comment followed the heaviest bombardment of the war to that point, as Israeli artillery rained thousands of high-explosive shells on Shujaiya, a residential area on the eastern edge of Gaza City. A high-ranking US military officer said that the source of Kerry’s apparent consternation was almost certainly a Pentagon summary report assessing the Israeli barrage on which he had been briefed by an aide moments earlier.

According to this senior US officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions — a minimum of 258 artillery pieces, according to the officer’s estimate — pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood, which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during a seven-hour period at the height of the operation. Senior US officers were stunned by the report.

Twice daily throughout the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) operation, a select group of senior US military and intelligence officers at the Pentagon received lengthy written summaries of Israeli military action in Gaza. The reports — compiled from information gleaned from open sources, Israeli military officers with whom US officials speak and satellite images — offered a detailed assessment of Israel’s battlefield tactics and the performance of its weaponry, a considerable portion of it supplied by the United States.

Although these reports shy from offering political judgments on the operation, a number of senior US military officers who spoke about the contents of those daily reports were highly critical of some of the IDF’s tactics, particularly in the Israeli ground invasion of Shujaiya. An official spokesman at the Pentagon declined to comment on the contents of this article.

On July 16, the IDF dropped leaflets into Shujaiya, warning residents of an imminent Israeli attack and urging them to evacuate the area. The next day, after a short artillery preparation, three IDF units, led by the Golani Brigade, began a ground assault into the neighborhood to destroy Hamas bunkers and break up Hamas formations.

‘Take Off the Gloves’
The incursion went well at first, with Golani soldiers meeting little resistance. But by late on Saturday afternoon, July 19, forward elements of the brigade were running head on into well-organized Hamas units, and some IDF formations were pinned down in vicious fighting in Shujaiya’s streets and alleys.

What had been envisaged as a limited ground operation was not going as planned, with Hamas units emerging from tunnels and bunkers in attempts to exploit IDF weaknesses. The Hamas units were well prepared and trained, with their formations hidden so well that Israeli soldiers were rarely able to pinpoint their locations.

“The ground assault was poorly handled into eastern Gaza City,” an Israel civilian adviser to the IDF’s chief of staff said at the time. “The Hamas fighters showed an unexpected tenacity and were far more effective against our armored units than we’d anticipated.”

By late Saturday night and into Sunday morning, the fight had devolved into a series of vicious small unit clashes, with IDF squads facing off against Hamas squads, sniper units and teams carrying lethal anti-tank rockets. In one eight-hour period starting early on July 20, the IDF suffered 13 dead, seven of them in an armored personnel carrier that caught fire after a Hamas sapper team detonated an anti-tank mine beneath it.

When the IDF moved to retrieve the bodies and the stricken APC, Hamas fighters targeted the rescue vehicles and engaged in gun battles with IDF combat teams as the rescue convoy retreated.

In the early hours of that Sunday morning, with IDF casualties mounting, senior officers directed IDF tank commanders to “take off the gloves” and “to open fire at anything that moves,” according to reports in the Israeli press.

The three Israeli units assaulting Shujaiya were never in danger of being defeated, but the losses the IDF suffered in the four-day house-to-house battle embarrassed IDF commanders. By the afternoon of July 19, even before Israel had suffered most of its casualties, the scale of resistance prompted Israeli battlefield commanders to blanket Shujaiya with high-explosive artillery rounds, rockets fired from helicopters and bombs dropped by F-16s. The decision was confirmed at the highest levels of the IDF.

By Sunday night, Palestinian officials were denouncing the bombardment of Shujaiya as a massacre, and international pressure mounted on the Israeli government to explain the heavy casualty toll being inflicted on Gaza civilians. The IDF told the press that Shujaiya had been a “fortress for Hamas terrorists” and reiterated that while Israel had “warned civilians” to evacuate, “Hamas ordered them to stay. Hamas put them in the line of fire.”

Kerry’s hot-microphone comments reflect the shock among US observers at the scale and lethality of the Israeli bombardment.

“Eleven battalions of IDF artillery is equivalent to the artillery we deploy to support two divisions of US infantry,” a senior Pentagon officer with access to the daily briefings said. “That’s a massive amount of firepower, and it’s absolutely deadly.”

Another officer, a retired artillery commander who served in Iraq, said the Pentagon’s assessment might well have underestimated the firepower the IDF brought to bear on Shujaiya. “This is the equivalent of the artillery we deploy to support a full corps,” he said. “It’s just a huge number of weapons.”

Artillery pieces used during the operation included a mix of Soltam M71 guns and US-manufactured Paladin M109s (a 155-mm howitzer), each of which can fire three shells per minute.

“The only possible reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period of time as possible,” said the senior US military officer. “It’s not mowing the lawn,” he added, referring to a popular IDF term for periodic military operations against Hamas in Gaza. “It’s removing the topsoil.”

“Holy bejeezus,” exclaimed retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard when told the numbers of artillery pieces and rounds fired during the July 21 action. “That rate of fire over that period of time is astonishing. If the figures are even half right, Israel’s response was absolutely disproportionate.”

A West Point graduate who is a veteran of two wars and is the chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, D.C., he added that even if Israeli artillery units fired guided munitions, it would have made little difference.

Even the most sophisticated munitions have a circular area of probability, Gard explained, with a certain percentage of shells landing dozens or even hundreds of feet from intended targets. Highly trained artillery commanders know this and compensate for their misses by firing more shells.

So if even 10 percent of the shells fired at combatants in Shujaiya landed close to but did not hit their targets — a higher than average rate of accuracy — that would have meant at least 700 lethal shells landing among the civilian population of Shujaiya during the night of July 20 into June 21. And the kill radius of even the most precisely targeted 155-mm shell is 164 feet. Put another way, as Gard said, “precision weapons aren’t all that precise.”

Senior US officers who are familiar with the battle and Israeli artillery operations, which are modeled on US doctrine, assessed that, given that rate of artillery fire into Shujaiya, IDF commanders were not precisely targeting Palestinian military formations as much as laying down an indiscriminate barrage aimed at cratering the neighborhood.

The cratering operation was designed to collapse the Hamas tunnels discovered when IDF ground units came under fire in the neighborhood. Initially, said the senior Pentagon officer, Israel’s artillery used “suppressing fire to protect their forward units but then poured in everything they had, in a kind of walking barrage. Suppressing fire is perfectly defensible. A walking barrage isn’t.”

That the Israelis explained the civilian casualty toll by saying the neighborhood’s noncombatant population had been ordered to stay in their homes and were used as human shields by Hamas reinforced the belief among some senior US officers that artillery fire into Shujaiya was indiscriminate.

“Listen, we know what it’s like to kill civilians in war,” said the senior US officer. “Hell, we even put it on the front pages. We call it collateral damage. We absolutely try to minimize it, because we know it turns people against you. Killing civilians is a sure prescription for defeat. But that’s not what the IDF did in Shujaiya on July 21. Human shields? C’mon, just own up to it.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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