Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Message from Ukrainian pacifist Yurii Sheliazhenko

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Text of Youtube video by Yurii Sheliazhenko

Dear friends, greetings from Kyiv. Air raid alerts, cold shelter in the nearest underground parking and tragic updates about new deaths are my daily life under martial law during the criminal Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Additionally to regular pains of war experienced by all relatively lucky citizens who managed to survive mass killing, life of a pacifist is full of additional hardships. I am talking not only about everyday nonviolent resistance to war and militarism in words and deeds, burden of responsibility for a better future depending on conscience and efforts of a few enthusiasts who dare to dream and work for a world without wars in a hostile environment.


Frame from video

More painful is that peace dreamers are repressed. Conscientious objectors are jailed. I am under house arrest and risk to be tried and jailed for up to five years for alleged justification of Russian aggression in antiwar statement which condemns it. My letter to President Zelensky was dangerous, they say, because nonviolent resistance is utopia and the army don’t like conscientious objection.

See, you can’t dream about peace, you must adopt utopian ideas of the propaganda of war to make all people soldiers and to wipe Russia out from the world map. You should also think that Putin just bluffed when he said these horrible things about nukes and why he would not need the world without Russia. You must want to defeat Russia, they call it “morale.”

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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And if you live in Russia, the same sort of immoral “morale” requires to kill Ukrainians, portrayed as Nazi, and defeat Ukraine. A picture with woman showing heart by hands from behind the bars in Saint Petersburg captured my imagination: Sasha Skochilenko said “When you imprison pacifists, you delay peace,” and she was jailed for 7 years.

More than a half million people were killed, but that don’t stopped Presidents Putin and Zelensky from announcements of more military recruitment to sacrifice more lives in endless, pointless and senseless war. No equivalence here, of course: aggressor must be held accountable and reasonable self-defense is right thing to do, though I would rather do it without violence.

When you respond violently to violence, suffering and destruction multiplies. People feel it and knew it, that’s why people vote by foot against the war when it is possible. More than a million of Russians escaped Putin’s tyranny, not to mention those who fled from his complicit dictator Lukashenko, and more than a half million of Ukrainian refugees hide in Europe from cruel conscription, from abduction of draftees on the streets.

Every person saved from the meat grinder of war is a triumph of life and a step towards peace. That’s why we need to support Object War Campaign aimed at providing protection and asylum to all those who risk to be repressed for  refusal to kill in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

Right to refuse to kill is absolute, because human life and dignity is sacred. I wish the serfdom of conscription could be prohibited by international law, because without such an authoritarian tool it would be hard to wage long and monstrous wars.

Peace is human right, it demands care instead of hate towards others, and war is no excuse for violations of freedom of conscience. We should remember and advocate that on the eve of Human Rights Day. I congratulate you with this meaningful date coming, and I wish you peace and happiness.

Never give up your hopes and your efforts for the world where people will forget how to wage wars.

Nuclear Abolitionists Occupy New York

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Robert Dodge from Common Dreams (reprinted according to provisions of Creative Commons)

This past week New York City was invaded by nuclear abolitionists from around the world coming together as part of civil society, scientific, and affected communities, to support, strengthen, and move forward with the universalization of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, TPNW, as the United Nations convened the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty . They gathered to celebrate what has been achieved and with hope and conviction for the complete elimination of these weapons to achieve a future free from the threat of their use.

closer to nuclear war  than any time since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 78 years ago. This risk is heightened by the current war in Ukraine, where Russia has threatened the use of nuclear weapons, the ongoing nuclear weapons research by North Korea, the buildup of China’s arsenal and the current war and humanitarian crisis in Israel/Palestine, where there have been suggestions of using nuclear weapons against Palestinians. The risk of nuclear war by intent, miscalculation, or accident coupled with the growing concern over cyber-terrorism and AI is growing.

The new arms race is driven in large part by the United States’ modernization of its entire arsenal in the coming decades at an estimated cost of between $1.5 and $1.7 trillion. The false illusion of deterrence theory has been the largest driver of the new arms race, resulting in every other nation following suit at modernizing and/or enlarging their new arsenals to not be outdone. This reality was acknowledged by this week’s meeting of state’s parties that correctly identifies deterrence as a significant security problem.

Trillion dollar question

The Treaty on the Probation of Nuclear Weapons arose out of the realization of the humanitarian consequences of even limited nuclear war, and the fact that all of life and everything we care about is at risk from a large scale nuclear war. A limited nuclear war using less than 3% of the global arsenals in a distant region could result in nuclear famine  killing over 2 billion people in the years that follow. The International Committee of the Red Cross notes that there is NO adequate humanitarian or medical response to nuclear war. Understanding this, the global majority represented and supported by civil society, has come together, refusing to be held hostage or bullied by the nine nuclear nations.

The entire cycle of nuclear weapons from mining, manufacture, testing, storage, and potential use impacts communities every day. Their very existence threatens communities around the world. As stated by the author Arundhati Roy, “It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they’re used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behavior. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meat hooks deep in the base of our brains. They are purveyors of madness. They are the ultimate colonizer. Whiter than any white man that ever lived. The very heart of whiteness.”

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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While the United States and other members of the P5 appear to be ignorant of, or oblivious to, these humanitarian consequences by giving lip service to them or simply ignoring them, there is a growing chorus in each of these nations supporting the Treaty.

While the United States and other members of the P5 appear to be ignorant of, or oblivious to, these humanitarian consequences by giving lip service to them or simply ignoring them, there is a growing chorus in each of these nations supporting the Treaty. In the U.S. this comes from the grassroots level and from a growing number of local elected officials who recognize that nuclear weapons are a local issue. A letter was presented to Biden from over 230 local elected officials  asking his administration to send an observer to the meeting. This largest U.S. intersectional movement to abolish nuclear weapons is “Back from the Brink” and has been endorsed by 471 organizations, 334 municipal and state officials, seven state legislative bodies and 76 cities and counties across the United States.

Back from the Brink works in coalition for a world free of nuclear weapons and advocates for common sense nuclear weapons policies to secure a safer, more just future. It calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

*Actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals

*Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first

*Ending the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack

*Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert

*Cancelling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons

Supporting this effort in the United States Congress is H. Res. 77  introduced by Representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon that embraces the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and Back from the Brink’s comprehensive policy prescriptions for reducing nuclear risks and preventing nuclear war. Currently there are 42 members of congress cosponsoring. Every member of Congress must be asked to take a stand and make their views of this greatest existential threat known.

Forty years after Carl Sagan and other scientists first described the concept of nuclear winter following a large scale nuclear war, the world is moving together for the total elimination of these weapons.

94 nations participated in this week’s Meeting of States Parties. The Treaty currently has 93 signatories and 69 States Parties whose nations have ratified the Treaty. In the closing declaration of the meeting the nations stated:

“We are resolutely committed to the universalization and effective implementation of the Treaty… We will work relentlessly to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons for the sake of current and future generations. We undertake and recommit to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used, tested or threatened to be used, under any circumstances, and will not rest until they are completely eliminated.”

UN Rights Chief Says Israel’s Collective Punishment in Gaza Is a War Crime

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Jessica Corbett from Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk declared  Wednesday that “the collective punishment by Israel of Palestinian civilians amounts… to a war crime, as does the unlawful forcible evacuation of civilians.”

Frame from video interview with Commissioner Türk at the Rafah Crossing

Israel’s monthlong war on Gaza has killed over 10,500 Palestinians, wounded thousands more, displaced 70%  of the strip’s 2.3 million residents, and decimated civilian infrastructure, including homes, religious buildings, and hospitals.

Türk’s comments came after he visited the Rafah border crossing that connects Egypt to Gaza, which he described as “the gates to a living nightmare—a nightmare where people have been suffocating, under persistent bombardment, mourning their families, struggling for water, for food, for electricity and fuel.”

Long before October 7, when a Hamas-led attack killed over 1,400 Israelis and triggered Israel’s retaliation, Gaza was “described as the world’s biggest open-air prison… under a 56-year occupation and a 16-year blockade by Israel,” he highlighted.The U.N. rights chief also stressed that “the atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian armed groups… were heinous, brutal, and shocking. They were war crimes—as is the continued holding of hostages.” Israeli officials say there are about 240 hostages.

“We have fallen off a precipice. This cannot continue,” he warned. “Even in the context of a 56-year-old occupation, the current situation is the most dangerous in decades, faced by people in Gaza, in Israel, in the West Bank, but also regionally.”

Türk emphasized that “parties to the conflict have the obligation to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects,” and as an occupying power, Israel is required “to ensure a maximum of basic necessities of life can reach all who need it.”

“I call—as a matter of urgency—for the parties now to agree [to] a cease-fire on the basis of three critical human rights imperatives: We need urgent delivery of massive levels of humanitarian aid, throughout Gaza,” he declared.

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Questions related to this article:
 
How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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The official also called for all hostages to be freed without condition and said that “crucially, we need to enable the political space to implement a durable end to the occupation, based on the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis to self-determination and their legitimate security interests.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres—who has also been pushing for a cease-fire—called out  Israel’s aerial and ground operations for their impact on civilians during a Reuters conference on Wednesday.

“There are violations by Hamas when they have human shields. But when one looks at the number of civilians that were killed with the military operations, there is something that is clearly wrong,” he said.

“We have in a few days in Gaza thousands and thousands of children killed, which means there is also something clearly wrong in the way military operations are being done,” the U.N. leader added.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the Israeli war against Hamas has killed over 4,300 children.

“It is also important to make Israel understand that it is against the interests of Israel to see every day the terrible image of the dramatic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people,” Guterres said. “That doesn’t help Israel in relation to the global public opinion.”

While French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to hold a Gaza-focused “humanitarian conference” in Paris on Thursday, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to participate in the event.

Ahead of the conference, 13 human rights and relief groups called on attendees “to do everything in their power to achieve an immediate cease-fire; take concrete steps to free civilian hostages and protect all civilian populations; and ensure the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza and respect for international humanitarian law.”

Among them was Amnesty International—which, over the past month, has compiled  “damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wipe out entire families.”

Some global experts and critics have demanded  action from the International Criminal Court on “escalating Israeli war crimes and genocide of the Palestinian people” in Gaza.

In a resignation letter to Türk last month, Craig Mokhiber, who was serving as the New York director for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned  Israel’s war as “a textbook case of genocide.”

“In the immediate term,” Mokhiber wrote, “we must work for an immediate cease-fire and an end to the long-standing siege on Gaza, stand up against the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank (and elsewhere), document the genocidal assault in Gaza, help to bring massive humanitarian aid and reconstruction to the Palestinians, take care of our traumatized colleagues and their families, and fight like hell for a principled approach in the U.N.’s political offices.”

1,500+ Israelis Urge ICC Action on ‘War Crimes and Genocide’ in Gaza

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Jessica Corbett from Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Israelis Against Apartheid, a group representing more than 1,500 citizens, this week  urged  the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor “to take accelerated action against the escalating Israeli war crimes and genocide of the Palestinian people” in Gaza.


An injured child is brought to the al-Aqsa Hospital after an Israeli attack on Maghazi Refugee Camp in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on November 3, 2023. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“For the safety and future in the region, all elements of international law must be enforced and war crimes should be investigated,” declares the letter to the ICC’s Karim A. A. Khan, noting his ongoing Palestine investigation  and recent remarks  on the war.

The letter, dated Thursday, explains that “as Israeli anti-colonial activists, we have joined our voices to the voices of Palestinians for decades warning on the dangerous course of action pursued by the Israeli state and repeatedly called for international intervention.”

“Persistent impunity has created the conditions for the consolidation of the Israeli apartheid regime, which is intent on committing ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Indigenous Palestinian population,” the letter continues. “The acute deterioration in basic conditions of life that we are now witnessing could have been avoided if Israel had not been continuously granted impunity for its ongoing crimes.”

Officials believe Palestinian militants took around 240 hostages in a Hamas-led surprise attack on Israel October 7, which sparked Israeli forces' retaliatory air and ground assault of Gaza. Since the war began, more than 1,500 Israelis and 9,400 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, along with at least 133 Palestinians in the West Bank, which has seen a surge in Israeli settler violence.

Over the past four weeks, as Israeli forces have killed thousands of civilians and bombed residential, medical, educational, and religious buildings, allegations of war crimes have mounted. Critics worldwide have accused Israel of committing "a textbook case of genocide," citing not only the bloodshed but also comments from Israeli leaders including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We are extremely concerned by the Israeli institutional calls for genocide that are being loudly and clearly voiced in Hebrew and believe that they should be seriously taken into consideration as thousands, if not millions, of lives are at stake,” says the letter to the ICC prosecutor.

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Questions related to this article:
 
How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

Can International Pressure Stop the War in Gaza?

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“Israeli military personnel and journalists are now openly calling for ethnic cleansing and genocide,” the letter adds. “It is evident that Israel is disregarding the lives of civilians in Gaza, ordering them to evacuate vast areas even as there is no safe place in Gaza to which people can flee.”

The letter to Khan details the remarks from Netanyahu and others calling for or justifying genocide, and urges him to:

° Issue immediate arrest warrants against Israeli political and military-security leaders who are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity;

° Accelerate your investigation into the ongoing crimes being perpetrated at this very moment by the state of Israel, its military forces, and armed Israeli citizens under military protection; and

° Be a validated and balanced platform for alleged crimes arising from the current situation, rather than making reference to unvalidated and unverified claims.

While applauding some of Khan’s statements  in Egypt after his trip to the Rafah border crossing with Gaza last weekend, the letter also says that “we deeply regret that, despite the opening of an investigation, followed by the Pre-Trial Chamber I’s 2021 decision that the court may exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the situation in Palestine, you have so far failed to take concrete action to stop the tragic trajectory of events in our region by holding Israel accountable.”

Khan said that “we need the law more than ever. Not the law in abstract terms, not the law as a theory for academicians, lawyers and judges. But we need to see justice in action. People need to see that the law has an impact on their lives. And this law, this justice, must be focused on the most vulnerable. It should be almost tangible. It is something they should be able to cling on to. It is something that they should be able to embrace when they are faced with so much loss, pain, and suffering.”

The prosecutor spoke about both the Hamas-led attack on Israel, including hostage-taking, and the Israeli war on Gaza, where civilians have been cut off from essentials like food, water, electricity, and medicine. He also highlighted an online portal to which anyone can submit information on alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and crimes of aggression.

Khan asked civil society organizations “to send us any and all evidence that underpins their reports or their communiques or their notices that they issue,” stressing that “reports by themselves are, of course, not evidence and I cannot and will not act pursuant to my oath of office without reliable evidence that we can validate that can stand up in a court of law.”

“I also want to be clear that my office is in the business of conducting credible, relevant, professional, and independent criminal investigations,” he said. “And so I don’t, I haven’t, and I won’t be giving a running commentary on social media, or anywhere else for that matter, regarding the state of investigations in this or any other situation. But the absence of commentary does not mean the absence of investigations.”

(Editor’s note: Public opinion in Israel is seriously split, as indicated by the announcement of another group, calling itself “Doctors for the Rights of Israeli Soldiers” that called for the bombing of Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, claiming that Hamas fighters were using the civilian facility as a base. This was condemned by doctors working in Gaza.)

Israeli War on Gaza Sparks ‘Largest Mass Mobilization of Jews in American History’

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Brett Wilkins from Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaims in genocidal undertones  his army’s “holy mission” to invade Gaza, Jewish American peace activists are ramping up their nationwide effort to bring about a cease-fire in the three-week war.


Jewish Voice for Peace: Thousands are sitting in at Grand Central Station demanding a #CeasefireNOW

“We’re watching a genocide unfold in real-time. In just three weeks, the Israeli military has killed over 8,000 Palestinians in Gaza, among them over 3,000 children,” Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) said early Monday. “That’s more than the annual number of children killed  in conflicts across the globe since 2019.”

“Jewish people all throughout the United States are protesting in unprecedented numbers against Israel’s destruction of Gaza and the United States’ unwavering support,” JVP noted, with Liv Kunins-Berkowitz, the group’s media coordinator, calling the movement “the largest mass mobilization of Jews in American history.”

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can International Pressure Stop the War in Gaza?

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“We will not sit by as a genocide is waged in our name.”
JVP, along with Jewish-led groups—mainly IfNotNow—and allies have held demonstrations large and small across the United States since October 7, when Israeli forces launched their latest war on Gaza following the Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel that killed 1,400 people.

“From Albuquerque to Minneapolis, Seattle to Miami, Washington D.C. to Detroit, students, elders, faith leaders, and activists… are organizing sit-ins in congressional offices and blocking streets as they demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza,” the group continued, adding that demonstrations have also been held in cities including Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

On Friday evening, thousands of JVP members and allies took over  Grand Central Station in Midtown Manhattan, where more than 400 people were arrested while holding a sit-in and hanging banners that read, “Cease-fire Now,” “Never Again for Anyone,” “Palestine Should Be Free,” and “Mourn the Dead and Fight Like Hell for the Living.”

“For decades, Jewish Americans have criticized the Israeli occupation of Palestine. American Jews are no longer willing to be silent—they are speaking up louder than ever before and taking to the streets to demand an immediate cease-fire,” Kunnis-Berkowitz asserted on Monday. “We will not sit by as a genocide is waged in our name.”

While the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has thwarted international efforts to bring about a cessation in hostilities, a group of 18 congressional Democrats led by Rep. Cori Bush  (D-Mo.) has introduced a resolution urging the administration to push Israel for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Gaza.

Some co-sponsors of the resolution—especially Muslim Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who is Palestinian—have faced bipartisan indignation, right-wing death threats, and in the case of Tlaib, a censure motion brought by far-right Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Critics have noted the irony of Greene—who once suggested that a "Jewish space laser" started a California wildfire—baselessly accusing Tlaib of antisemitism.

“There can be no business as usual while our tax dollars are used to fund a genocide in Palestine,” JVP insisted. “From congressional offices, to the halls of the Capitol, to the center of New York City, we will do everything in our power to demand an end to U.S. support for genocide and apartheid,” referencing the billions in annual U.S. military aid to Israel.

ABC News Report Claims No Past Mass Shooters Have Been Veterans; At Least 31% Have Been

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A blog by David Swanson

A report from ABC 3 WEAR, reports:

“Chris Lambert is a decorated Vietnam veteran whose battled PTSD for more than 40 years. Lambert’s a three-time Purple Heart recipient, all before his 20th birthday. He says after hearing reports that the suspected gunman in the Maine shooting was treated and released from a facility only weeks later, it’s clear that more long-term care for veterans is needed. However, he feels the shooting suspect’s mental health issues during his service in the military is overplayed. ‘How many people have we watched in these mass shootings and none of them are veterans,’ Lambert said. Stillm, Lambert acknowledged the suspect’s service potentially played a major role in the high number of fatalities. ‘Being a firearms instructor, how accurate he could be, I don’t care if you’re 100-50 yards and you’re jerking a little bit, you’re missing that target. But if he’s instructed and he knows how to breathe, he can take down a lot of people, and that’s tragic,’ Lambert said.”

This is a remarkable report in that, it quotes a supposed expert falsely informing us that the lastest mass shooter is the first military veteran mass shooter, when in fact mass shooters have always been very disproportionately military veterans. It is also remarkable in that it is the only report I have found about any of these veteran mass shooters that bothers to comment at all on the relevance of their training.

In the United States, only a very small percentage of men under 60 are military veterans.

In the United States, at least 31% of male mass shooters under 60 (which is almost all mass shooters) are military veterans.

That’s 40 out of 127 mass shooters in Mother Jones’ database whom I’ve been able to identify as U.S. military veterans, with no help from Mother Jones and darn little help from any media outlets at all. It is very likely that more than those 40 have actually been military veterans.

We now have reports of a U.S. Army reservist who trained others in shooting guns having committed the worst mass shooting in some time.

There is much we do not know about the latest mass shooting in the United States, but of these two things we can be certain:
The U.S. Congress will do nothing to make U.S. gun laws resemble those of a normal nation.
Media outlets will focus on mental health, rightwing politics, and anything other than military experience. There will be a hunt for “motive,” but little interest in ability.

As I reported in June, a University of Maryland report touching on this topic was virtually ignored by media outlets.

But here are the facts:

Looking at males, aged 18-59, veterans are well over twice, maybe over three times as likely to be mass shooters compared with the group as a whole. And they shoot somewhat more fatally. Counting this latest shooting as having 16 fatalities, though that actually went up to 18, I calculated that the veteran shooters on this list have killed on average 8.3 people and those who have not been identified as veterans have killed on average 7.2 people.

The numbers have changed slightly since I began writing about this:

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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° May 10, 2023: At Least 32% of U.S. Mass Shooters Were Trained to Shoot by the U.S. Military

° March 23, 2021: At Least 36% of Mass Shooters Have Been Trained By the U.S. Military

° June 4, 2019: Updated Data: Mass Shooters Still Disproportionately Veterans

(At this point it was 35%)

November 4, 2018: Mass Shooters’ Histories in the U.S. Military Most Amazing Coincidence

(At this point it was 35%)

November 14, 2017: U.S. Mass Shooters Are Disproportionately Veterans

(At this point it was 34%)

The rise from 34% to 36% and then drop to 31% is not large, and not as large as the decrease in the percentage of veterans in the overall population.

All sorts of correlations are carefully examined when it comes to mass shooters. But the fact that the largest institution in the United States has trained many of them to shoot is scrupulously avoided.

Those mass shooters who are not actually military veterans tend to dress and speak as if they were. Some of them are veterans of police forces with military-sounding titles, or have been prison guards or security guards. Counting those who’ve been in either the U.S. military or a police force or a prison or worked as an armed guard of any kind would give us an even larger percentage. The factor of having been trained and employed to shoot is larger than just the military veterans, yet carefully ignored because so many of those professionally trained to shoot have been trained by the U.S. military.

Some of the non-military mass-shooters have worked as civilians for the military. Some have tried to join the military and been rejected. The whole phenomenon of mass-shootings has skyrocketed during the post-2001 endless wars. The militarism of mass-shootings may be too big to see, but the avoidance of the topic is stunning.

Needless to say, out of a country of over 330 million people a database of 127 mass shooters is a very, very small group. Needless to say, statistically, virtually all veterans are not mass shooters. But that can hardly be the reason for not a single news article ever mentioning that mass shooters are very disproportinately likely to be veterans. After all, statistically, virtually all males, mentally ill people, domestic abusers, Nazi-sympathizers, loners, and gun-purchasers are also not mass-shooters. Yet articles on those topics proliferate like NRA campaign bribes.

There seem to me to be two key reasons that a sane communications system would not censor this topic. First, our public dollars and elected officials are training and conditioning huge numbers of people to kill, sending them abroad to kill, thanking them for the “service,” praising and rewarding them for killing, and then some of them are killing where it is not acceptable. This is not a chance correlation, but a factor with a clear connection.

Second, by devoting so much of our government to organized killing, and even allowing the military to train in schools, and to develop video games and Hollywood movies, we’ve created a culture in which people imagine that militarism is praiseworthy, that violence solves problems, and that revenge is one of the highest values. Virtually every mass shooter has used military weaponry. Most of those whose dress we are aware of dressed as if in the military. Those who’ve left behind writings that have been made public have tended to write as if they were taking part in a war. So, while it might surprise many people to find out how many mass shooters are veterans of the military, it might be hard to find mass shooters (actual veterans or not) who did not themselves think they were soldiers.

There seems to me to be one most likely reason that it’s difficult to find out which shooters have been in the military (meaning that some additional shooters probably have been, about whom I’ve been unable to learn that fact). We’ve developed a culture dedicated to praising and glorifying participation in war. It need not even be a conscious decision, but a journalist convinced that militarism is laudable would assume it was irrelevant to a report on a mass shooter and, in addition, assume that it was distasteful to mention that the man was a veteran. That sort of widespread self-censorship is the only possible explanation for the complete whiting out of this story.

The phenomenon of shutting down this story does not exactly require a “motive,” and I would like to recommend to reporters on mass shootings that they, too, devote a bit less energy to the often meaningless hunt for “a motive,” and a tad more to considering whether the fact that a shooter lived and breathed in an institution dedicated to mass shooting might be relevant.

Calls for ceasefire in Gaza

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A survey by CPNN

Already we have published two articles this week calling for a ceasefire:

Amnesty International describes war crimes committed by Israel and demands that Israel “Immediately end unlawful attacks and abide by international humanitarian law; including by ensuring they take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects and refraining from direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.”

Demonstrations in over 40 countries, involving more than a million people, have demonstrated for peace in Israel and Palestine, and, in effect, for a ceasefire.

Putting “ceasefire,” “Gaza” and “Israel” in a search engine, we find many more calls for a ceasefire.

UN chief António Guterres called on Wednesday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East to ease the “epic human suffering” in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Five UN agencies, including the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the UN Development Programme, the UN Population Fund, and UNICEF called for a humanitarian ceasefire, describing th situation in Gaza as “catastrophic.”

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can International Pressure Stop the War in Gaza?

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As president of the UN Security council, Brazil proposed a resolution calling for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver lifesaving aid to millions in Gaza. The resolution would have passed except that it was vetoed by the United States, saying that “it did not mention Israel’s right of self defence.”

In the UK, over 70 INGOs urge the UK government to secure an urgent ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestinian Territories. They include UK NGOs of Medecins Sans Frontieres, Oxfam and Save the Children.

The World Organization of the Scout Movement announced “we stand in solidarity with the international community calling for an immediate end to hostilities and violence” and have contacted the national scout organizations in Israel and Palestine.

The World Council of Churches joined a statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem, appealing urgently for a immediate cessation of violence.

A petition published by Relief Web, calling for “an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel to prevent a humanitarian Catastrophe” carries the signature of hundreds of organizations from around the world, including, for example, the American Friends Service Committee, Avaaz, Care International, Christian Aid, Church World Service, CIVICUS, Fundacion Cultura de Paz, Handicap International, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Mennonite Central Committee, Nobel Women’s Initiative, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Oxfam, Pax Christi International, Peace Boat, Save the Children, Search for Common Ground and The Episcopal Church.

Among church leaders, calls for a ceasefire come from Pope Francis and from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Among heads of state, calls for ceasefire come from Chinese President Xi Jinping and from Brazil President Lula da Silva

Among regional organizations, calls for a ceasefire come from the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Assocition of Southeast Asian Nations in their first joint summit since the two regional blocs established relations in 1990.

US State Department Official Resigns Over ‘Destructive, Unjust’ Arms Transfers to Israel

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Jake Johnson from Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

A U.S. State Department official announced his resignation Wednesday over the Biden administration’s decision to send more arms to Israel as it carries out a massive assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, killing more than 3,400 people, decimating the enclave’s civilian infrastructure, and strangling the population with an unlawful blockade.


Photo from Josh Paul Linked-in

“I cannot work in support of a set of major policy decisions, including rushing more arms to one side of the conflict, that I believe to be shortsighted, destructive, unjust, and contradictory to the very values that we publicly espouse, and which I wholeheartedly endorse: a world built around a rules-based order, a world that advances both equality and equity, and a world whose arc of history bends towards the promise of liberty, and of justice, for all,” Josh Paul, who spent 11 years as director of congressional and public affairs for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, wrote in his resignation letter.

Paul helped oversee the transfer of U.S. weaponry to allies, a position that he acknowledged “was not without its moral complexity and moral compromises.”

“I made myself a promise that I would stay for as long as I felt the harm I might do could be outweighed by the good I could do,” Paul wrote. “In my 11 years I have made more moral compromises than I can recall, each heavily, but each with my promise to myself in mind, and intact. I am leaving today because I believe that in our current course with regards to the continued—indeed, expanded and expedited—provision of lethal arms to Israel—I have reached the end of that bargain.”

Paul’s resignation came hours after U.S. President Joe Biden embraced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and “reiterated his steadfast support for Israel” even as United Nations experts, human rights organizations, and international law scholars accuse the country of committing egregious war crimes—including genocide.

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Questions related to this article:
 
The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

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The U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, said in a report  released earlier this week that “the damage and casualties caused by Israeli attacks” on Gaza “were not proportionate to the military advantage and so the actions constitute a war crime.”

The commission added that “the prevention of entry of food and medical supplies into Gaza is a violation of international humanitarian law.”

While the Biden administration helped negotiate a deal to allow limited humanitarian aid to enter Gaza through its border with Egypt, U.S. leaders have thus far refused to call for a cease-fire and pledged to continue arming the Israeli military as it prepares for a ground invasion.

HuffPost reported  last week that the U.S. State Department has instructed American diplomats not to use the word “cease-fire” in press materials, and some administration staffers have expressed concern  about retaliation if they question U.S. support for Israel’s attack on Gaza.

In recent days, U.S. shipments of ammunition, so-called “smart bombs,” and other weaponry have arrived in Israel, which was already the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance. The Biden administration is reportedly preparing to ask Congress to approve a new $100 billion military aid package  for Israel and Ukraine.

The Associated Press reported  that the Biden administration is “also getting U.S. defense companies to expedite weapons orders by Israel that were already on the books.” Without imposing restrictions on the use of American weaponry, U.S. officials are at risk of being complicit in Israeli war crimes, human rights advocates have warned.

In his resignation letter, Paul argued that the administration’s response to the deadly violence in Israel and Gaza “is an impulsive reaction built on confirmation bias, political convenience, intellectual bankruptcy, and bureaucratic inertia.”

“Decades of the same approach have shown that security for peace leads to neither security, nor to peace,” Paul wrote. “The fact is, blind support for one side is destructive in the long-term to the interest of the people on both sides. I fear we are repeating the same mistakes we have made these past decades, and I decline to be a part of it for longer.”

Damning evidence of war crimes as Israeli attacks wipe out entire families in Gaza

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

As Israeli forces continue to intensify their cataclysmic assault on the occupied Gaza Strip, Amnesty International has documented unlawful Israeli attacks, including indiscriminate attacks, which caused mass civilian casualties and must be investigated as war crimes.


© Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

The organization spoke to survivors and eyewitnesses, analysed satellite imagery, and verified photos and videos to investigate air bombardments carried out by Israeli forces between 7 and 12 October, which caused horrific destruction, and in some cases wiped out entire families. Here the organization presents an in-depth analysis of its findings in five of these unlawful attacks. In each of these cases, Israeli attacks violated international humanitarian law, including by failing to take feasible precautions to spare civilians, or by carrying out indiscriminate attacks that failed to distinguish between civilians and military objectives, or by carrying out attacks that may have been directed against civilian objects.

“In their stated intent to use all means to destroy Hamas, Israeli forces have shown a shocking disregard for civilian lives. They have pulverized street after street of residential buildings killing civilians on a mass scale and destroying essential infrastructure, while new restrictions mean Gaza is fast running out of water, medicine, fuel and electricity. Testimonies from eyewitness and survivors highlighted, again and again, how Israeli attacks decimated Palestinian families, causing such destruction that surviving relatives have little but rubble to remember their loved ones by,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“The five cases presented barely scratch the surface of the horror that Amnesty has documented and illustrate the devastating impact that Israel’s aerial bombardments are having on people in Gaza. For 16 years, Israel’s illegal blockade has made Gaza the world’s biggest open-air prison – the international community must act now to prevent it becoming a giant graveyard. We are calling on Israeli forces to immediately end unlawful attacks in Gaza and ensure that they take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects. Israel’s allies must immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo given that serious violations under international law are being committed.”

Since 7 October Israeli forces have launched thousands of air bombardments in the Gaza Strip, killing at least 3,793 people, mostly civilians, including more than 1,500 children, according  to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. Approximately 12,500 have been injured and more than 1,000 bodies are still trapped beneath the rubble.

In Israel, more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, have been killed and some 3,300 others were injured, according to the Israeli Ministry of Health after armed groups from the Gaza Strip launched an unprecedented attack against Israel on 7 October. They fired indiscriminate rockets and sent fighters into southern Israel who committed war crimes including deliberately killing civilians and hostage-taking. The Israeli military says that fighters also took more than 200 civilian hostages and military captives back to the Gaza Strip.

“Amnesty International is calling on Hamas and other armed groups to urgently release all civilian hostages, and to immediately stop firing indiscriminate rockets. There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians under any circumstances,” said Agnès Callamard.

Hours after the attacks began, Israeli forces started their massive bombardment of Gaza. Since then, Hamas and other armed groups have also continued to fire indiscriminate rockets into civilian areas in Israel in attacks that must also be investigated as war crimes. Meanwhile in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, at least 79 Palestinians, including 20 children, have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers amid a spike in excessive use of force by the Israeli army and an escalation in state-backed settler violence, which Amnesty International is also investigating.

Amnesty International is continuing to investigate dozens of attacks in Gaza. This output focuses on five unlawful attacks which struck residential buildings, a refugee camp, a family home and a public market. The Israeli army claims it only attacks military targets, but in a number of cases Amnesty International found no evidence of the presence of fighters or other military objectives in the vicinity at the time of the attacks. Amnesty International also found that the Israeli military failed to take all feasible precautions ahead of attacks including by not giving Palestinian civilians effective prior warnings – in some cases they did not warn civilians at all and in others they issued inadequate warnings.

“Our research points to damning evidence of war crimes in Israel’s bombing campaign that must be urgently investigated. Decades of impunity and injustice and the unprecedented level of death and destruction of the current offensive will only result in further violence and instability in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” said Agnès Callamard.

“It is vital that the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court urgently expedites its ongoing investigation into evidence of war crimes and other crimes under international law by all parties. Without justice and the dismantlement of Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians, there can be no end to the horrifying civilian suffering we are witnessing.”

The relentless bombardment of Gaza has brought unimaginable suffering to people who are already facing a dire humanitarian crisis. After 16 years under Israel’s illegal blockade, Gaza’s healthcare system is already close to ruin, and its economy is in tatters. Hospitals are collapsing, unable to cope with the sheer number of wounded people and desperately lacking in life-saving medication and equipment.

Amnesty International is calling on the international community to urge Israel to end its total siege, which has cut Gazans off from food, water, electricity and fuel and urgently allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. They must also press Israel to lift  its longstanding blockade on Gaza which amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population, is a war crime and is a key aspect of Israel’s system of apartheid. Finally, the Israeli authorities must rescind  their “evacuation order” which may amount to forced displacement of the population.

Gaza’s civilians pay the price

Amnesty International investigated five Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, which took place between 7 and 12 October. Between 2012 and 2022, the Israeli authorities have denied, or failed to respond to, all of Amnesty International’s requests to gain access to Gaza. For this reason, the organization worked with a Gaza-based fieldworker who visited attack sites and collected testimony and other evidence. Amnesty International researchers interviewed 17 survivors and other eyewitnesses, as well as six relatives of victims over the phone, for the five cases included in this report. The organization’s Crisis Evidence Lab analysed satellite imagery and verified photos and videos of attack sites.

In the five cases described below Amnesty International found that Israeli forces carried out attacks that violated international humanitarian law, including by failing to take feasible precautions to spare civilians, or by carrying out indiscriminate attacks that failed to distinguish between civilians and military objectives, or by carrying out attacks that may have been directed against civilian objects.

Under international humanitarian law, all parties to the conflict must, at all times, distinguish between civilians and civilian objects and fighters and military objectives and direct their attacks only at fighters and military objectives. Direct attacks on civilians or civilian objects are prohibited and are war crimes. Indiscriminate attacks – those which fail to distinguish as required – are also prohibited. Where an indiscriminate attack kills or injuries civilians, it amounts to a war crime.

Disproportionate attacks, those where the expected harm to civilians and civilian objects is excessive in comparison with the “concrete and direct military advantage anticipated,” also are prohibited. Knowingly launching a disproportionate attack is a war crime. 

Whole families wiped out

At around 8:20pm on 7 October, Israeli forces struck a three-storey residential building in the al-Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, where three generations of the al-Dos family were staying. Fifteen family members were killed in the attack, seven of them children. The victims include Awni and Ibtissam al-Dos, and their grandchildren and namesakes Awni, 12, and Ibtissam, 17; and Adel and Ilham al-Dos and all five of their children. Baby Adam, just 18 months old, was the youngest victim.

Mohammad al-Dos, whose five-year-old son Rakan was killed in the attack, told Amnesty International:

“Two bombs fell suddenly on top of the building and destroyed it. My wife and I were lucky to survive because we were staying on the top floor. She was nine-months pregnant and gave birth at al-Shifa hospital a day after the attack. Our entire family has been destroyed.”

Amnesty International interviewed a neighbour whose home had been damaged in the attack. Like Mohammad al-Dos, he said that he had not received warning from Israeli forces, and nor had anyone in his family.

“It was sudden, boom, nobody told us anything,” he said.

The fact that the building was full of civilians at the time of the air strike further supports the testimony of survivors who said Israeli forces did not issue any warnings. It took relatives, neighbours and rescue teams more than six hours to remove the bodies from beneath the rubble.

Amnesty International’s research has found no evidence of military targets in the area at the time of the attack. If Israeli forces attacked this residential building knowing that there were only civilians present at the time of the attack, this would be a direct attack on a civilian object or on civilians, which are prohibited and constitute war crimes. Israel offered no explanation on the incident. It is incumbent on the attacker to prove the legitimacy of their military conduct. Even if Israeli forces targeted what they considered a military objective, attacking a residential building, at a time when it was full of civilians, in the heart of a densely populated civilian neighbourhood, in a manner that caused this number of civilian casualties and degree of destruction would be indiscriminate. Indiscriminate attacks that kill and injure civilians are war crimes.

On 10 October, an Israeli air strike on a family home killed 12 members of the Hijazi family and four of their neighbours, in Gaza City’s al-Sahaba Street. Three children were among those killed. The Israeli military stated that they struck Hamas targets in the area but gave no further information and did not provide any evidence of the presence of military targets.

Amnesty International’s research has found no evidence of military targets in the area at the time of the attack.

Amnesty International spoke to Kamal Hijazi, who lost his sister, his two brothers and their wives, five nieces and nephews, and two cousins in the attack. He said:

“Our family home, a three-storey house, was bombed at 5:15 pm. It was sudden, without any warning; that is why everyone was at home.”

Ahmad Khalid Al-Sik, one of the Hijazi family’s neighbours, was also killed. He was 37 years old and had three young children, who were all injured in the attack. Ahmad’s father described what happened:

“I was at home in our apartment and Ahmad was downstairs when the house opposite [belonging to the Hijazi family] was bombed, and he was killed. He was going to have his hair cut at the barber, which is next to the entrance of our building. When Ahmad left to go get a haircut, I could not imagine that I would not see him again. The bombing was sudden, unexpected. There was no warning; people were busy with their daily tasks.”

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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The barber who was going to cut Ahmad’s hair was also killed.

According to Amnesty International’s findings there were no military objectives in the house or its immediate vicinity, this indicates that this may be a direct attack on civilians or on a civilian object which is prohibited and a war crime.

Inadequate warnings

In the cases documented by Amnesty International, the organization repeatedly found that the Israeli military had either not warned civilians at all, or issued warnings which were inadequate. In some instances, they informed a single person about a strike which affected whole buildings or streets full of people or issued unclear “evacuation” orders which left residents confused about the timeframe. In no cases did Israeli forces ensure civilians had a safe place to evacuate to. In one attack on Jabalia market attack, people had left their homes in response to an “evacuation” order, only to be killed in the place to which they had fled. 

On 8 October, an Israeli air strike struck the Nuseirat refugee camp in the centre of the Gaza Strip, killing Mohammed and Shuruq al-Naqla, and two of their children, Omar, three, and Yousef, five, and injuring their two-year-old daughter Mariam and their three-year-old nephew Abdel Karim. Around 20 other people were also injured in the strike.

Ismail al-Naqla, Mohammed’s brother and the father of Abdel Karim, told Amnesty International that their next-door neighbour received a call from the Israeli military at around 10:30am, warning that his building was about to be bombed. Ismail and Mohammed and their families left the building immediately, as did their neighbours. By 3:30pm, there had been no attack, so the al-Naqlas and others went home to collect necessities. Ismail explained that they had thought it would be safe to do so as five hours had elapsed since the warning, though they planned to leave again very quickly.

But as they were returning to their apartments, a bomb struck the building next door, destroying the al-Naqlas’ home and damaging others nearby. Mohammed and his family were still in the courtyard of their building when they were killed. Ismail described seeing part of his five-year-old nephew Yousef’s brain “outside of his head” and said that three-year-old Omar’s body could not be recovered from under the rubble until the next day. He told Amnesty International that Mariam and Abdel Karim, the two surviving children, were released from hospital quickly as Gaza’s hospitals are overwhelmed with the volume of casualties.

Giving a warning does not free armed forces from their other obligations under international humanitarian law. Particularly given the time that had elapsed since the warning was issued, those carrying out the attack should have checked whether civilians were present before proceeding with the attack. Furthermore, if, as appears, this was a direct attack on a civilian object, this would constitute a war crime.

‘Everyone was looking for their children’

At around 10:30am on 9 October, Israeli air strikes hit a market in Jabalia refugee camp, located a few kilometres north of Gaza City, killing at least 69 people. The market street is known to be one of the busiest commercial areas in northern Gaza. That day it was even more crowded than usual, as it was filled with thousands of people from nearby areas who had fled their homes empty-handed earlier that morning after receiving text messages from the Israeli army.

Amnesty’s Crisis Evidence Lab reviewed six videos showing the aftermath of the airstrike on Jabalia camp market. The images show a densely populated area with multi-storey buildings. Videos of the aftermath and satellite imagery show at least three multi-storey buildings completely destroyed and several structures in the surroundings heavily damaged. Numerous deceased bodies are also seen under the rubble in the graphic footage.

According to the Israeli military, they were targeting “a mosque in which Hamas members had been present” when they struck Jabalia market, but they have provided no evidence to substantiate their claim. Regardless, membership in a political group does not in itself make an individual targetable. Satellite imagery analysed by Amnesty International showed no mosque in the immediate vicinity of the market street.

Based on witness testimony, satellite imagery, and verified videos, the attack, which resulted in high civilian casualties was indiscriminate and must be investigated as a war crime.

Imad Hamad, aged 19, was killed in the strike on the Jabalia market while he was on his way to buy bread and mattresses for the family. His father, Ziyad Hamad, described to Amnesty International how a day earlier their family had left their home in Beit Hanoun after receiving a warning message from the Israeli army, and had walked almost five kilometres to a UNRWA-run school, which was operating as a shelter, in Jabalia camp.

On the walk, his son, Imad, had carried his toddler brother on his shoulders. The next day, Ziyad told Amnesty International, he was carrying Imad’s dead body on his own shoulders, taking his son to be buried.

Ziyad described the hellish scenes he encountered at the morgue where he found his son’s body, along with many others.

“The bodies were burned, I was scared of looking. I didn’t want to look, I was scared of looking at Imad’s face. The bodies were scattered on the floor. Everyone was looking for their children in these piles. I recognized my son only by his trousers. I wanted to bury him immediately, so I carried my son and got him out. I carried him.”

When Amnesty International spoke to Ziyad and his displaced family, they were at a UNRWA-run school which was sheltering displaced people. He said there were no basic services or sanitation, and that they had no mattresses.

Ziyad’s despair at the injustices he has suffered is palpable.

“What did I do to deserve this?” he asked.

“To lose my son, to lose my house, to sleep on the floor of a classroom? My children are wetting themselves, of panic, of fear, of cold. We have nothing to do with this. What fault did we commit? I raised my child, my entire life, for what? To see him die while buying bread.”

While Amnesty’s researcher was talking to Ziyad over the phone, another air strike hit
nearby.

Since Amnesty researchers interviewed Ziyad on 10 October, conditions for internally displaced people have deteriorated further, due to the scale of the displacement and the extent of the destruction and the devastating effects of the total blockade imposed since 9 October. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of internally displaced people in Gaza had reached 1 million by 19 October, including over 527,500 people who are staying in UNRWA emergency shelters in central and southern Gaza.

‘We cannot even count our dead’

On 10 October an Israeli air strike hit a six-storey building in Sheikh Radwan, a district of Gaza City, at 4:30pm. The strike completely destroyed the building and killed at least 40 civilians.

Satellite imagery suggests damage to buildings on this street sometime between 12:11UTC on 10 October and 7:30UTC on 11 October. The Crisis Evidence Lab geolocated two videos posted to social media that corroborate the destruction of homes in Sheikh Radwan. One of the videos, which was posted online on 10 October, shows people pulling the body of a dead infant from the rubble.

Amnesty International spoke to Mahmoud Ashour whose daughter, Iman, and her four children, Hamza, six months, Ahmad, two years, Abdelhamid six, and Rihab, eight, were all killed in the attack.  

He said:

“My daughter and her children came here to seek safety because this area was relatively safe in previous attacks. But I couldn’t protect them, I have no trace left of my daughter.” 
Mahmoud described the extent of the devastation:

“I’m talking to you now as I’m trying to remove the rubble with my hands. We cannot even count our dead.”

Fawzi Naffar, 61, said that 19 of his family members, including his wife, children and grandchildren, were all killed in the air strike. When Amnesty International spoke to Fawzi five days after the air strike, he had only been able to retrieve the remains of his daughter-in-law and his “son’s shoulder.”  

Amnesty International’s research found that a Hamas member had been residing on one of the floors of the building, but he was not there at the time of the air strike. Membership in a political group does not itself make an individual a military target.

Even if that individual was a fighter, the presence of a fighter in a civilian building does not transform that building or any of the civilians therein into a military objective. International humanitarian law requires Israeli forces to take all feasible precautions to minimise harm to civilians and civilian property, including by cancelling or postponing the attack if it becomes apparent that it would be indiscriminate or otherwise unlawful.

These precautions were not taken ahead of the air strike in Sheikh Radwan. The building was known to be full of civilian residents, including many children, and the danger to them could have been anticipated. This is an indiscriminate attack which killed and injured civilians and must be investigated as a war crime.

Amnesty International is calling on; 

The Israeli authorities to:

° Immediately end unlawful attacks and abide by international humanitarian law; including by ensuring they take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects and refraining from direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.
° Immediately allow unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s civilians.
° Urgently lift its illegal blockade on Gaza, which amounts to collective punishment and is a war crime, in the face of the current devastation and humanitarian imperatives.
° Rescind their appalling “evacuation” order, which has left more than one million people displaced.
° Grant immediate access to the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory to carry out investigations, including collecting time sensitive evidence and testimonies.

The international community and particularly Israel’s allies, including EU member states, the US and the UK, to:

° Take concrete measures to protect Gaza’s civilian population from unlawful attacks.
° Impose a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict given _ that serious violations amounting to crimes under international law are being committed. States must refrain from supplying Israel with arms and military materiel, including related technologies, parts and components, technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance. They should also call on states supplying arms to Palestinian armed groups to refrain from doing so. 
° Refrain from any statement or action that would, even indirectly, legitimize Israel’s crimes and violations in Gaza.
° Pressure Israel to lift its illegal 16-year blockade of the Gaza strip which amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s population, is a war crime and is a key aspect of Israel’s apartheid system.
° Ensure the International Criminal Court’s ongoing investigation into the situation of Palestine receives full support and all necessary resources.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to:

Urgently expedite its ongoing investigation in the situation of Palestine, examining alleged crimes by all parties, and including the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians.

Hamas and other armed groups to:

Immediately end deliberate attacks on civilians, the firing of indiscriminate rockets, and hostage-taking. They must release civilian hostages unconditionally and immediately.

2023 US Peace Prize: National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Excerpts from the website of the US Peace Prize

The 2023 US Peace Prize was awarded to the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY) “For National Efforts to Stop U.S. Military Influence on Young People, Saving Lives Here and Abroad.” NNOMY was selected unanimously by the Board of Directors of the US Peace Memorial Foundation.

The US Peace Prize was presented on September 19, 2023, at the Peace Resource Center of San Diego by Michael Knox, Chair and Founder of the US Peace Memorial Foundation. In his remarks, Dr. Knox said, “National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth shields young lives from some of the strongest influences of militarism. Your work not only saves U.S. lives by dissuading young people from joining the military – it also saves the lives of people in distant countries who they could harm once they were part of the U.S. war machine. NNOMY positively impacts countless young adults, and its nationwide efforts involve the contributions of many stellar antiwar figures and organizations. The US Peace Prize is a prestigious honor that will help call attention to and reinforce your important work for peace.”

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Questions related to this article:
 
The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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The award was accepted by Rick Jahnkow, the organization’s Steering Committee Representative, and several network members. Pictured above are Kendall Brown of On Earth Peace, Gary Ghirardi of NNOMY, Michael Knox, and Rick Jahnkow and Cassy Hernandez of Project YANO.

Rick Jahnkow responded, “NNOMY is grateful for receiving this award and the recognition it will, hopefully, bring to the urgent need to counter the militarization of young people. Protesting war once it begins is never enough; if we are ever going to have a truly effective peace movement, it must include proactively reaching out to and engaging with younger generations in order to groom them to become activists for peace, instead of war. It is this long-term vision that NNOMY brings to the peace movement.”
 
NNOMY is an organization that brings together national, regional, and local groups to oppose the military’s growing intrusion into young people’s lives, focusing on trying to slow the process of militarization in schools by Pentagon programs designed to promote recruitment into military service. By training and sending antiwar counter-recruiters to speak with high school students, NNOMY attempts to change the minds of young adults considering joining the U.S. military. NNOMY also offers alternatives to entering the military and its wars, focusing on communities significantly affected by military recruiting and the violence of militarism.
 
Other US Peace Prize nominees in 2023 were Gerry Condon, Francesco Da Vinci, Daniel Ellsberg, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Abby Martin, and Jill Stein. Read about the antiwar/peace activities of all recipients and nominees in the US Peace Registry.