[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Israeli ambassador under fire in Durban last night
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Wed Jan 14 14:29:25 GMT 2009
(Sadly, we do not have a pic of the amazing toyi-toyi Dennis did against
Israeli ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg next to Catalina Theatre last
night... Probably on 26/1, CCS will be holding a seminar on how to
advance the Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions movement against Israel,
including academic, culture and economic relations.)
A group of pro-Palestinian supporters gathered outside the Catalina
Theatre in Durban on Tuesday evening (13 January) and chanted
anti-Israel slogans in protest, against the theatre's hosting of a play,
sponsored by the Israeli embassy and at the presence of the Israeli
ambassador to South Africa at the evening's event (part of the Musho
festival). A cheese and wine event to be held prior to the play, hosted
by the Israeli embassy, was cancelled as a result of anticipated protest
The purpose of the protest action was to affirm the cultural and
academic boycott campaign against Israel which is now part of the
official BDS solidarity programme of the South African Palestine
solidarity movement. The protest was led by well known anti-apartheid
activist Prof. Dennis Brutus, who was instrumental in the cultural
boycott campaign against Apartheid South Africa.
Issued by the Durban Action Group on Palestine
Pictures of protest action at
Gaza view distorted, says envoy
January 13 2009 at 02:47PM
As Israel continues its offensive into Hamas-controlled Gaza, the new
Israeli ambassador to South Africa has said that people make their
judgements about the situation from what they see on TV.
And, as the image of Israel in the media "is one-sided and completely
distorted they see us as the bad guys and them as the good guys", said
Dov Segev-Steinberg, who was visiting Durban on Monday to meet the local
This was "very worrying" because the average person did not understand
the elements of the conflict and the very complex political situation there.
He hoped to promote relations at grassroots level in South Africa so
that people "see a different Israel from what they see on TV".
Segev-Steinberg was speaking as the death toll in the Gaza Strip topped
900, with Gaza health officials saying 40 percent of these were civilians.
Official Israeli figures say 13 Israelis have died, ten of them
soldiers, with three civilians hit by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.
Segev-Steinberg said 75 percent of the casualties were Hamas military
personnel, with 25 percent civilians.
"That's still a very tragic number. This is a war and unfortunately
civilians get hurt."
He said Hamas's stated aim was to eliminate the state of Israel, and
when they fired rockets into Israel - 8 000 had been fired since 2001 -
they were targeting civilians.
Israel's goal, on the other hand, was to hit Hamas military
infrastructure and damage the leadership, and avoid civilians.
But he said Hamas hid among civilians and used them as human shields,
which was why Israel had shown so much restraint over the years.
The Hamas leadership even had a bunker under the main hospital in Gaza
because they knew Israel would not shell hospitals.
But eventually Israel reached the conclusion that "enough is enough".
It had been a very difficult decision to go into the Gaza Strip.
"It took us a long time to make the decision because of the
understanding that Hamas used civilians as hostages and human shields,"
The ambassador, who has held diplomatic postings around the world and
was closely involved in the contacts with the Palestinian Authority in
1995, has also been instrumental in developing closer ties between
Israel and its trading partners in the Arab world.
He hoped a solution could be found because Palestinians and Israelis
were all suffering.
"I hope things will change for the better for both Israel and Palestine
because we would like to see prosperous nations living peacefully and
independently around us."
A first generation Israeli - his parents were Holocaust survivors -
Segev-Steinberg said his posting to South Africa was a very important
position and a challenging one.
"I have always dreamed of coming here because of the history, the people
and a mixture of many things," he said.
He would like South Africa and Israel to get closer together and planned
to help both countries do business with each other.
Israel may face UN court ruling on legality of Gaza conflict
The Guardian, Wednesday 14 January 2009
Israel faces the prospect of intervention by international courts amid
growing calls that its actions in Gaza are a violation of world
humanitarian and criminal law.
The UN general assembly, which is meeting this week to discuss the
issue, will consider requesting an advisory opinion from the
international court of justice, the Guardian has learned.
"There is a well-grounded view that both the initial attacks on Gaza and
the tactics being used by Israel are serious violations of the UN
charter, the Geneva conventions, international law and international
humanitarian law," said Richard Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on the
Palestinian territories and professor emeritus of international law at
"There is a consensus among independent legal experts that Israel is an
occupying power and is therefore bound by the duties set out in the
fourth Geneva convention," Falk added. "The arguments that Israel's
blockade is a form of prohibited collective punishment, and that it is
in breach of its duty to ensure the population has sufficient food and
healthcare as the occupying power, are very strong."
A Foreign Office source confirmed the UK would consider backing calls
for a reference to the ICJ. "It's definitely on the table," the source
said. "We have already called for an investigation and are looking at
all evidence and allegations."
An open letter to the prime minister signed by prominent international
lawyers and published in today's Guardian states: "The United Kingdom
government ... has a duty under international law to exert its influence
to stop violations of international humanitarian law in the current
conflict between Israel and Hamas."
The letter argues that Israel has violated principles of humanitarian
law, including launching attacks directly aimed at civilians and failing
to discriminate between civilians and combatants.
The letter follows condemnation earlier this week from leading QCs of
Israel's action as a violation of international law, and a vote by the
UN's human rights council on Monday on a resolution condemning the
ongoing Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.
"The blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian
infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food
and fuel are prima facie war crimes," a group of leading QCs and
academics, including Michael Mansfield QC and Sir Geoffrey Bindman,
wrote in a letter to the Sunday Times.
Israel has already been found to have violated its obligations in
international law by a previous advisory opinion of the ICJ, and is
likely to vigorously contest arguments that it is an occupying power. It
previously stated that occupation ceased after disengagement from Gaza
Its stance raises questions as to the utility of an advisory opinion by
the ICJ after Israel rejected its finding in a previous case, which
found the wall being constructed in the Palestinian territories to be a
violation of Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law.
Questions are also being raised as to whether the international criminal
court, which deals with war crimes and crimes against humanity, would
have any jurisdiction to hear cases against perpetrators of the alleged
crimes on both sides of the conflict. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian
territories are signatories to the Rome statute, which brings states
within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
More likely, experts say, is the establishment of ad-hoc tribunals of
the kind created to deal with the war in the former Yugoslavia and the
genocide in Rwanda.
"If there were the political will there could be an ad-hoc tribunal
established to hear allegations of war crimes," Falk said. "This could
be done by the general assembly acting under article 22 of the UN
charter which gives them the authority to establish subsidiary bodies."
Israel not yet ready to loosen its grip
January 14, 2009 Edition 1
Israeli forces tightened their hold around the city of Gaza yesterday
and Israel's top general said "there is still work" ahead against Hamas
in an 18-day offensive that had killed more than 900 Palestinians.
Explosions and heavy machinegun fire echoed through the city of 500 000
after Israeli tanks drew closer to its densely populated centre but did
not enter, residents said.
Talat Jad, a 30-year-old resident of the Gaza suburb of Tel al-Hawa,
where tanks thrust overnight, said he and 15 members of his family
gathered in one room of their house, too frightened to look out of the
Medical workers said 12 Palestinian gunmen, some of them members of the
Islamic Hamas group that ruled the Gaza Strip, had been killed.
Hamas said its forces had detonated explosives beneath Israeli armour
and fought with Israeli forces backed by helicopter gunships and naval fire.
Israeli aircraft attacked 60 targets, including tunnels used to smuggle
arms from Egypt, weapons-making facilities and Hamas command posts, the
military said. Two rockets hit the Israeli city of Beersheba, there were
"We are working to deepen the blow to its military arm, reduce (Hamas)
fire, strengthen (Israeli) deterrence and improve the security situation
for residents of southern Israel living under the threat of (rocket)
attacks," said Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of Israel's armed
But political sources said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, defence
minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Tzipi Livni have decided
against ordering troops to engage in all-out urban warfare.
Opening a "phase three" of the offensive would probably complicate truce
efforts andlead to intense street fighting, and could cause heavy
casualties on both sides, a politically risky move less than a month
before Israel's parliamentary election.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon was going to the region for a week of
talks with leaders in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria.
"To both sides I say, just stop now," Ban has said.
Barak said in broadcast remarks that Israel had "respectfully" heard
Ban's appeal and was monitoring Egypt's attempts to broker a ceasefire,
but it would continue to hit Hamas while diplomatic efforts were under
way. Egypt's intelligence chief and a Hamas delegation resumed talks
yesterday on Cairo's plan for a ceasefire.
Israel has rebuffed as "unworkable" a UN Security Council ceasefire
resolution last week and said a truce must ensure Hamas could not rearm
through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. Hamas says Israel must pull
back all its troops and end the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
# Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas accused Israel yesterday of aiming
to "wipe out" the Palestinian people in Gaza.
"Our people will never surrender," he said. "What is essential is to
stop the aggression. Israel must withdraw from Palestinian territory." -
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