Category Archives: Perpetual War

Israeli Drone Strikes in Gaza in November 2012 Attack: Two-Thirds Killed Were Civilians

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Heron Drone

More Palestinians Killed by Drones Alone in eight DAYS than Israelis Killed by rockets in eight YEARS

opednews.com | Feb 6, 2013

By Ann Wright

Two-thirds of Palestinians killed by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) drones in the November, 2012 attack on Gaza were civilians. 

This statistic means that for the residents of Gaza, the ground-breaking investigation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights into the civilian impact and human rights implications of the use of drones and other forms of targeted killing is very important.

Data taken from reports of two human rights groups in Gaza documented that, of the 162 Palestinians killed during the eight-day attack, drone strikes killed 36 and injured 100. 24 of the 36 killed in Gaza by Israeli drones were civilians. Drone strikes (72) were 5 percent of the total Israeli military strikes (1,350) but accounted for 23 percent of the deaths in Gaza, a very high percentage of deaths from the number of drone strikes when compared with deaths from strikes of jet warplanes, artillery and naval bombardment.

Memo justifies drone kills even with patchy intelligence

The UN team will investigate drone strikes and their effects on civilians around the world, but primarily the United States and United Kingdom’s drone strikes in Afghanistan, the US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines and Israeli drone strikes in Gaza.

The objective of the UN investigation is “to look at evidence to determine if drone strikes and other forms of remote targeted killing have caused disproportionate civilian casualties and to make recommendations concerning the duty of States to conduct thorough, independent and impartial investigations into such allegations, with a view to securing accountability and reparation where things have gone badly wrong with potentially grave consequences for civilians.” The statistics indicate that Israeli drone strikes did cause disproportionate Palestinian civilian casualties.

The Israeli military publicly identified on its website 1,500 targets in Gaza that it intended to destroy in its mid-November, 2012 military operation (named “Pillar of Clouds”). The targets named on its website were 30 Hamas and Jihad leaders, 19 high-level command centers, 980 underground rocket launchers, 140 smuggling tunnels, 66 tunnels used for “terrorist” actions, 42 Hamas operations rooms and bases and 26 weapons manufacturing and storage facilities.

For many years, both the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and the Al Mazen Centre for Human Rights have had field workers who investigate the frequent, almost daily, Israeli jet plane, drone, helicopter and artillery attacks, naval bombardment attacks and naval firing at Gaza fishermen. The investigators talk with survivors of the attacks and photograph the destruction caused by the attacks and remains of the ordnance found at the attack site.

Following the 14-21 November 2012, eight-day Israeli attack on Gaza, the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights produced a 67-page report titled “Field Report on Israel’s Attacks on Gaza 14-21 November 2012.” The Palestinian Center for Human Rights documented its findings for this period in its “Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Territories 14-21 November, 2012.”

Both reports provide a region-by-region, day-by-day, attack-by-attack account of individual Israeli military strikes in Gaza. Using information from the reports of both human rights organizations, data documented that the Israeli Defense Forces conducted 72 Israeli drone strikes using 100 missiles during the November 2012 attack on Gaza.

The Al Mezan report documents that at least 162 Palestinians were killed in IDF attacks, including 37 children and 13 women. (Later reports  state that 178 were killed.) Another 1,039 people were injured, including 315 children and 191 women. At least 963 houses were damaged or destroyed, including 92 completely. Of those 92 houses, 52 were directly attacked; including 35 “roof-knocking” attacks to indicate to residents that the house was about to be destroyed by a second attack. Another 179 houses sustained serious damage. Additionally, IDF attacks caused damage to 10 health centers, 35 schools, two universities, 15 NGO offices, 30 mosques, 14 media offices, 92 industrial and commercial facilities, one UNRWA food distribution center, eight government ministry buildings, 14 police/security stations, five banks, 34 vehicles, three youth clubs, three cemeteries, and two bridges.


Scout Drone

Data from the Al Mezan and PCHR reports on IDF drone attacks on Gaza identify that:

Drone strikes killed 36 persons, including 4 children under the age of 16, and wounded 100 persons.

24 of the 36, or two thirds, of those killed by drone strikes were considered to be civilians.

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Marines, sailors to invade South Carolina for “realistic urban training”

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File: FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (May 5, 2007) – Marines from 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion of Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) 22 storm the beach during a mock beach invasion during the 2007 McDonald’s Air and Sea Show. The show is a two-day culmination of Fleet Week USA, a celebration of the Armed Forces. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick Gearhiser

thestate.com | Feb 4, 2013

By ANNE CHRISTNOVICH

JASPER COUNTY, SC — About 150 Marines and sailors will hold “realistic urban training” in Jasper County later this week as part of pre-deployment training.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will train within Ridgeland town limits Thursday through Saturday. Times and exact locations for the training are not being announced, according to 2nd Lt. Gerard R. Farao.

“The training could take place at any time during those days,” he said Saturday.

Residents will likely see and hear military vehicles and possibly see aircraft, Farao said. The Marines and sailors likely will be stationed on ships, and the training is part of a certification for deployment to Mediterranean and African shores, he said. Participants will be in uniform and carry weapons. Some exercises will take place at night. Residents might hear “popping” sounds as Marines fire blanks. The blanks do not pose a hazard for residents, Farao said.

The training has been coordinated with local, county and state agencies and officials, including the Ridgeland police and fire departments, according to a Marine Corps news release.

Beginning today, Marines will notify residents face-to-face and door-to-door if the training will be near their property or home. Fliers with more information also will be available.

Although there is no danger, Farao said residents should stay away if they see training under way or uniformed personnel.

Obama now ‘Judge, jury and executioner’: Legal experts fear implications of White House drone memo, dangerously expands definition of national defense

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NBCNews.com | Feb 5, 2013

By Erin McClam, Staff Writer, NBC News

Legal experts expressed grave reservations Tuesday about an Obama administration memo concluding that the United States can order the killing of American citizens believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida — with one saying the White House was acting as “judge, jury and executioner.”

The experts said that the memo, first obtained by NBC News, threatened constitutional rights and dangerously expanded the definition of national self-defense and of what constitutes an imminent attack.

“Anyone should be concerned when the president and his lawyers make up their own interpretation of the law or their own rules,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and an authority on international law and the use of force.

Memo justifies drone kills even with patchy intelligence

“This is a very, very dangerous thing that the president has done,” she added.

The memo, made public Monday, provides detail about the administration’s controversial expansion of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens.

Among them were Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed by an American strike in September 2011 in Yemen. Both men were U.S. citizens who had not been charged with a crime.

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a talk at Northwestern University Law School in March, endorsed the constitutionality of targeted killings of Americans provided that the government determines such an individual poses “an imminent threat of violent attack.”

But the memo obtained by NBC News refers to a broader definition of imminence and specifically says the government is not required to have “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

RELATED: Read the memo on drone strikes against Americans

Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer who writes about security and liberty for the British newspaper The Guardian, described the memo as “fundamentally misleading,” with a clinical tone that disguises “the radical and dangerous power it purports to authorize.”

“If you believe the president has the power to order U.S. citizens executed far from any battlefield with no charges or trial, then it’s truly hard to conceive of any asserted power you would find objectionable,” he wrote.

The attorney general told reporters Tuesday that the administration’s primary concern is to keep Americans safe, and to do it in a way consistent with American values. He said the administration was confident it was following federal and international law.

“We will have to look at this and see what it is we want to do with these memos,” he said. “But you have to understand that we are talking about things that are, that go into how we conduct our offensive operations against a clear and present danger.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that while the government must take the Constitution into account, U.S. citizenship does not make a leader of an enemy force immune from being targeted.

The drone strikes, and now the Justice Department memo, are expected to figure prominently Thursday when the Senate takes up the nomination of John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser and architect of the drone campaign, to lead the CIA.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and 10 other senators wrote to President Barack Obama on Monday asking him to release all Justice Department memos on the subject.

The senators said that Congress and the public need a full understanding of how the White House views its authority so they can decide “whether the president’s power to deliberately kill American citizens is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards.”

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, described the memo as reckless. He wrote that assuming that the target of a strike is an al-Qaida leader, without court oversight, was like assuming a defendant is guilty and then asking whether a trial would be useful.

But John O. McGinnis, a professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University who worked for the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, said he was persuaded by the arguments in the memo, which he described as “very cautious.”

“If this is someone who has taken up affiliation with an organization attacking the United States, I don’t think it matters whether they’re a citizen — they seem to me an enemy combatant whom the president can respond to,” he said. “I think this is not a hard case.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement Tuesday saying that her committee received the memo last year and wants to see other administration memos further explaining the legal framework for carrying out strikes.

At the same time, she appeared to defend the killing of al-Awlaki. She said that al-Awlaki was external operations leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and directed the failed attempt to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

The memo lays out a three-part test for making targeted killings of Americans lawful. The suspect must be deemed an imminent threat, capturing the target must not be feasible, and the strike must be conducted according to “law of war principles.”

Naureen Shah, a lecturer at Columbia Law School and associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at the school’s Human Rights Institute, said that she was deeply troubled by the contents of the memo.

“We should be concerned when the White House is acting as judge, jury and executioner,” she said. “And there’s no one outside of the White House who has real oversight over that process. What’s put forward here is there’s no role for the courts, not even after the fact.”

Boys will be boys, says Afghan President Karzai of Prince Harry’s comparing killing to a video game

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Prince Harry should be allowed to make mistakes, Afghan President says

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed Prince Harry’s comparison of war to video games – claiming “young men make mistakes”.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 4, 2013

By Hayley Dixon

The 28-year-old Army captain gave “candid” descriptions of killing Taliban as he returned from a 20 week tour of Afghanistan, which some politicians in the country described as a propaganda victory for the enemy.

But speaking to ITV News and The Guardian President Karzai, who has a long-standing friendship with Prince Charles, refused to add his voice to the backlash.

The Prince claimed that his prowess on computers had helped him with on the battlefield, and described taking insurgents “out of the game”.

President Karzai, who described The Prince of Wales as “a very fine gentleman”, said of the furore: “Prince Charles is a great representative of Britain and the British ways of life. Prince Harry is a young man, we do give exits to young men when they make mistakes.”

When pushed on the issue he replied: “As I said, he’s a young man, and young men do make mistakes talking, while behaving, all of us have gone through that period, so let’s drop it there.”

His comments came as St James’s Palace announced that Harry is to pay a visit to Lesotho and South Africa at the end of the month for a three-day trip on behalf of his charity Sentebale.

He will spend the first two days privately, visiting Sentebale programmes throughout Lesotho, and on the final day will carry out public engagements in the Maseru district of Lesotho and then attend the Sentebale Gala Dinner in Johannesburg.

The last time the third in line to the throne was in Lesotho was in June 2010 when he took his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, to see Sentebale’s work as part of their first joint overseas trip.

President Karzai, who has not had a holiday in 12 years, is visiting the UK for a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, and Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari.

He used the trip to condemn the recent insider attacks against British and American troops, describing it as “a serious breach of hospitality”.

But he also echoed comments he made four years ago that between the country was safer between 2002 and 2006 than it is now.

He said: “Schools were open in Helmand and life was more secure. But I am not going to blame.”

He said he “appreciated” the sacrifices of the British forces and the contributions they made to the country, adding: “Whatever happened is the past, and now we are looking forward to the future.”

He now wants to move forward in the peace process, to make it something “tangible” for the people who no longer want guns in their communities, and to bring to an end three decades of suffering.

The idea foreign troops would completely pull out of the country was a “Utopian state of mind” but would ultimately fail as the country needs to rebuild itself with the help of the international community, he said.

In ten years time the situation in the country is expected to have improved three fold. President Karzai added: “A good future lies ahead of us but we need to work for it, and work hard for it.”

U.S. Army’s special forces set for urban warefare training in Galveston, Texas

The parking garage at the Galveston County courthouse is already blocked off, in preparation for military training exercises Wednesday, which could include helicopters landing on the roof.

chron.com | Jan 30, 2013

By Carol Christian

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The parking garage at the Galveston County courthouse is already blocked off, in preparation for military training exercises Wednesday, which could include helicopters landing on the roof.
Photo: Google Maps

The garage occupies four floors of a seven-story building at 715 19th St., which also houses an empty jail.

The training will involve about 80 soldiers from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in coordination with local law enforcement, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Noggle, an Army spokesman based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

No civilians will be involved, he said.

“We were invited by the city of Galveston to conduct joint training exercises to enhance the effectiveness of both services in order to better protect the residents of Galveston,” Noggle said by email.

“The purpose of the realistic urban training is to give our Special Operators an opportunity to hone their skills in a controlled, but unfamiliar, realistic urban environment that cannot be replicated with the bare-boned facades found on military installation ranges,” he wrote.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said he thought the exercise could involve landing helicopters on top of the seven-story garage and jail facility.

An old antenna, which would have impeded landing on the building’s roof, was removed last week, Henry said.

“It was scheduled for demolition anyway,” the judge said. “We just accelerated the time frame on that. It’s out of their way so they can land there if they want to.”

Although the former county jail is empty, it’s well maintained in case it might be needed for inmate overflow, Henry said.

Noggle declined to specify what the training includes, but he stated that helicopters would be used if weather permits.

Any firing of weapons will involve “simulated ammunition,” Noggle said.

If the training is anything like the maneuvers that happened Monday in southeast Houston near the former Carnegie Vanguard High School and last week in Miami, it will catch the public’s attention.

On Tuesday, the Houston Police Department issued a statement that included an apology for its lack of prior warning about the exercises.

“In terms of the training, HPD is assisting the U.S. Army and Department of Homeland Security at various locations in the city through Friday of this week in which some training involves discharging of weapons and helicopter patrols,” the HPD statement said.

In Miami, the Miami-Dade Police Department issued two statements, one on Jan. 21 to announce the “joint military training exercise in and around the greater city of Miami and Miami-Dade County.”

The Miami training included the use of military helicopters, the statement said.

A second statement issued Jan. 25 thanked residents for their cooperation. “This was routine training conducted by military personnel designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments and meet mandatory training certification requirements,” the statement said.

‘Stalin Buses’, Soviet Tanks and Military Parades Celebrate Dictator’s Victory at Stalingrad

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Five coaches bearing portraits of the moustachioed dictator have been allowed to operate in ‘Stalingrad’ (Victory Bus)

Volgograd renamed Stalingrad to celebrate key WWII battle against Nazis in 1943

ibtimes.co.uk | Feb 1, 2013

By Umberto Bacchi

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of a key World War II victory Russian lawmakers have renamed Volgograd as Stalingrad (Vicory Bus)

On Saturday, visitors to Volgograd are to experience a trip back in time of 60 years as buses painted with images of Joseph Stalin are driven around the southwestern Russian city, temporally renamed Stalingrad in honour of the Communist dictator who more than any other moulded the Soviet Union.

A military parade led by an old T-34 Soviet tank will also rally in the city centre.

Russian city gets to play ‘Stalin wasn’t so bad’ six days a year

Stalin gets his city back as Russians celebrate dictator’s triumph over Nazis

‘Stalin buses’ to mark 70th anniversary of Battle of Stalingrad in Russia

On 2 February, 1943, the Red Army won the decisively battle of Stalingrad, turning back Nazi forces after about six months of fighting.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the key World War II victory, regional lawmakers decided to use the city’s Communist-era name in for the day and on other key anniversaries through the year.

Five coaches bearing portraits of the moustachioed dictator will operate as part of the “Victory Bus” initiative.

It is a controversial move. Nostalgics credit him with leading the country to victory in World War II and making it a world superpower but to many others he is a hate figure for his genocide of millions of fellow countrymen and for his repressive regime.

“It’s blasphemous to rename the great Russian city after a bloody tyrant who killed millions of his fellow citizens,” said Nikolai Levichev a senior federal lawmaker with the leftist Just Russia party.

“This is an insult to the memory of those who died,” Russia’s human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told Interfax news agency.

The city was renamed Volgograd in 1961 as part of the Soviet Union’s rejection of the Stalin personality cult.

“Our people won under the lead of Joseph Stalin and there is nothing about our supreme commander to be ashamed of,” reads a statement by the Victory Bus.

“We don’t paint swastikas. Thank God, Communist ideology and Stalin’s image have not been officially condemned. We only urge the preservation of memory of the WWII victory and people who contributed to it,” organiser Aleksey Roerich told Izvestia.

Roerich said the buses are from private firms funded by the Communist party and private donors.

The so-called “Stalinobuses” will operate in Volgograd until 9 May when Russia celebrates the final victory of the so-called Great Patriotic War. Stalin’s image will also appear on vehicles in the streets of St Petersburg and Chita.

Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953.

The coldest winter in 20 years for Syrian refugees

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This region has seen its coldest winter in 20 years.  Earlier this month, Lebanon and Jordan faced severe winter storms and heavy snow.

independent.co.uk | Jan 31, 2013

by Caroline Gluck

With a a massive flow of refugees, there is still a long way to go before they get the support they need

As donors met in Kuwait, to pledge millions of dollars in help to those affected by conflict in Syria, I spent the day in Jordan’s Zataari camp,  now home to more than 70,000 Syrian refugees.

Kitted out in a padded down jacket, jumper, scarf and goretex boots, I still felt the biting cold.  Around me young children, their faces red and raw from the low temperatures, played around.  Most didn’t have proper shoes but ran around barefoot wearing plastic slippers.

This region has seen its coldest winter in 20 years.  Earlier this month, Lebanon and Jordan faced severe winter storms and heavy snow.  It was an especially miserable time for the refugees, many of whom fled with just the clothes they were wearing.  Large numbers are living in tents, damp unfinished buildings, or makeshift self-built shelters without heating or electricity.  In Zataari, many tents collapsed or flooded in the heavy storms.

Oxfam and other agencies have been providing warm blankets, mattresses, heating oil and stoves to try to provide some relief during this difficult time of the year.

Parents complained their children were getting sick – coming down with colds and bronchial infections.

The children still played outdoors – seemingly resilient to the horrors many had witnessed back home. But watching some youngsters in one neighbourhood sheltering refugees in Lebanon, playing mock war-games with sticks and hiding behind building blocks to escape mock sniper fire, I realised that the scars of conflict will take a long time to heal.

Five year old Mahdi, a sweet-faced boy with twinkling eyes, has very real scars that his family showed to me. He was shot at by a sniper. Miraculously, the bullets exited his back, leaving ugly scars but no other serious physical damage.

Children like Mahdi need more support than they’re getting now – not just now but probably for a long time to come.

The UN and aid agencies have been struggling with big funding shortalls, hampering their ability to provide the scale of aid that’s needed  to respond to what’s become a massive flow of refugees – more than 700,000 at the latest count.  In the past month alone, more than 40,000 Syrians have crossed the border seeking safety in Jordan.

Today’s promises of large-scale aid are encouraging.  But promises and pledges must be quickly turned into real aid on the ground so that families quickly get the help they so desperately need.