Friday, 5 November 2010
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Seven people, including three children, have been killed by Israeli shells which hit a beach in the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say. At least 30 people were wounded in the shelling, they say. The Israeli military says it has halted all shelling of Gaza and has launched an inquiry into whether ground-based artillery could have been involved. In a statement, the military wing of Hamas threatened to resume attacks on Israel in the wake of "massacres". The group has been observing a self-imposed ceasefire for more than a year. Although there have been threats of a response to other attacks in recent months, the BBC's Simon Wilson in Jerusalem says the move is significant because it appears on the official website of the armed wing of the group. There was no immediate word from the political wing of Hamas, which dominates the government in the Palestinian Authority. Four other people were also killed in separate Israeli air strike in northern Gaza on Friday, Palestinians said.
Palestinian officials say the seven people killed on the Gaza Strip beach included two women as well as the three children. The first television pictures revealed a terrible scene, the BBC's Alan Johnston says. At least four figures lay unconscious on the ground, possibly dead, our correspondent says. A little further away, a man was lying on a sand dune, perhaps fatally injured, while a child stood looking on in utter horror, our correspondent says. He says around the casualties were tables and chairs, and it looks very much as if this was a family enjoying their Friday afternoon off on the beach when disaster struck.
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
This was the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) appeal for the people of Gaza which was banned from BBC and Sky News (and other news agencies). Their refusal to show an appeal citing impartiality demonstrates what little impartiality the BBC has. It also shows how weak the BBC are when a former BBC Producer such as Tony Benn has to remind them of their duty to report - Not take sides. Maybe I should follow in the footsteps of the BBC and refuse to use them as a source. Thankfully I am not like them which is why you will find their news articles listed along with many other news media on my blog.
There is no place for censorship in a Free Democracy
There is no place for censorship in a Free Democracy
"We are passionate about defending the BBC's impartiality and we worry with such an emotive and such a political story - the United Nations this morning describing it as a political crisis with humanitarian consequences. We do want to cover the humanitarian story, we want to cover it in our news programmes where we can put it in context, we can do it in an even, carefully balanced, objective way. We worry about being seen to endorse something which could give people the impression that we were backing one side." - MARK THOMPSON, BBC DIRECTOR GENERAL
"These are difficult judgements for all broadcasters, but particularly so for the BBC because of the way it is funded. I am pleased this appeal will now be shown, that other broadcasters have decided to do so. But as the man who does uphold the independence of broadcasters in this country, I think it is right that broadcasters come to their own judgement. And the fact that Sky are obviously still considering these issues in the balance does demonstrate that for broadcasters that have an international presence, it is a difficult judgement call for them." - ANDY BURNHAM, CULTURE SECRETARY
"This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity. This situation is akin to that of British military hospitals who treat prisoners of war as a result of their duty under the Geneva convention. They do so because they identify need rather than cause. This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief. By declining their request, the BBC has already taken sides and forsaken impartiality." - DR JOHN SENTAMU, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
"It's an insult to the viewing public to suggest they can't distinguish between the humanitarian needs of thousands of children and families in Gaza and the political sensitivities of the Middle East. It's a distinction which anyone can make and to suggest the BBC should somehow not allow people to show their compassion because of the wider controversies in the Middle East is a case, in this instance, of the BBC totally getting its priorities upside down." -
"I think the British public can distinguish between support for humanitarian aid and perceived partiality in a conflict. I really struggle to see, in the face of the immense human suffering in Gaza at the moment, that this is in any way a credible argument. They still have time to make a different judgement, to recognise the immense human suffering and to address the concern - which I think otherwise may develop - that somehow the suffering of people in Gaza is not taken as seriously as the suffering of people in other conflicts." - DOUGLAS ALEXANDER, INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY
Haroon Siddique guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 June 2010 17.33 BST
Deaths as Israeli forces storm Gaza aid ship
Gaza flotilla deaths: the world reacts
From Times Online May 31, 2010 by Judith Evans
Gaza flotilla delayed after mystery faults hit two boats
Sabotage claim as Israeli navy is poised to intercept pro-Palestinian convoy By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem - Sunday, 30 May 2010.
Monday, 1 November 2010
First published in The Independent on 5th August 2010 by Mark Steel
Somehow, the Chilcot Inquiry has become like Big Brother. About once a month it pops up as a small item in the news and you think: "Oh blimey, I didn't realise that was still going on." Before long, like Big Brother, they'll come up with stunts to try and revive some interest. So they'll reintroduce contestants from previous inquiries such as Martin McGuinness and Christine Keeler, or make some witnesses complete a task of finding hidden ping-pong balls in the room or they have to give evidence blindfold.
So it might seem these procedures are pointless, in which case it makes no difference that the Israelis have agreed to co-operate with a United Nations inquiry into the episode in which nine people died after the Israeli Defence Force went aboard the Mavi Marmara as it sailed towards Gaza.
But it seemed to matter to the Israelis, because until this week they insisted their own inquiry was sufficient, and that was already under way. One fact emerging from this process was that the victims, according to "Sgt S" who shot six of them, "were without a doubt terrorists". And he produced evidence to back this up, which was: "I could see the murderous rage in their eyes".This matches the classic definition of a terrorist according to international law, as someone "with murderous rage in their eyes", and shows the key witness in any terrorist trial isn't the forensics expert or explosives analyst but an optician. If they're trained well enough they can shine a light at the iris and tell whether you're short-sighted, long-sighted, Hamas or Basque separatist.But there was more. According to the Jersusalem Post the IDF told the inquiry that the group on the boat were "well-trained and likely ex-military" because "each squad of the mercenaries was equipped with a Motorola communication advice, so they could pass information to one another". A Motorola communication advice? So these so-called peace-activists were armed with mobile phones! It's a wonder the whole Middle East wasn't set alight. And to think Motorola and other sinister arms dealers such as Nokia and Orange go round trading in this deadly merchandise quite openly.
If the IDF were asked to police a rock festival, at the moment when everyone used their mobiles to take a photo they'd open fire on the whole crowd. Then once 3,000 were dead, Sgt S would say: "Well done, boys, if we hadn't been so careful that could have turned quite nasty."One possible difficulty in proving the optically murderous gang's intent could be that none of them had guns. But the IDF dealt with that by saying the "mercenaries" preferred to use "bats, metal bars and knives, since opening fire would have made it blatantly clear they were terrorists and not peace activists". So this was another cunning trick of the terrorists, to disguise the fact they were terrorists by not doing anything terrorist. My neighbour's much the same; disguising her terrorism by being 74 and spending all day peacefully doing the garden without ever shooting anyone, the evil witch.
Even more blatantly, the inquiry was told the group did have guns on board, but "the mercenaries threw their weapons overboard after the commandos took control of the vessel". Because that's classic guerrilla training, to carry guns right up until the moment when the enemy arrives, and then throw them away. This is the strategy of all great military thinkers. That's why Nelson, at the Battle of Trafalgar said: "Men, I see the French, and so let every Englishmen do his duty, and chuck all our weapons in the sea. That'll teach the bastards."On and on this goes, with Prime Minister Netanyahu making it clear he agrees with it, himself calling the victims "mercenaries". Because these mercenaries were trying to get goods such as medicine to an area that's under a blockade, which is typical mercenary behaviour, except instead of gun-running, they were inhaler-running.
But bit by bit Israel is finding it has to answer for itself publicly, and the old excuses are not so easily accepted. From now on they'll have to put a bit more thought into their bollocks, which has got to be for the good.