AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SAYS WAR CRIMES COMMITTED IN 2014 CONFLICT
Palestinian armed groups displayed a “flagrant disregard” for the lives of civilians by repeatedly launching indiscriminate rockets and mortars towards civilian areas in Israel during the conflict in 2014, said Amnesty International in a new report. The 64-page report provides evidence that several attacks launched from inside the Gaza Strip amounted to war crimes. Six civilians in Israel, including a four-year-old boy, were killed during the 50-day conflict. In the deadliest incident believed to have been caused by a Palestinian attack, 11 children were among 13 Palestinian civilians killed when a projectile fired from within Gaza landed in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City.
All the rockets used by Palestinian armed groups—including the long-range M-75, Fajr 5, J-80, M-302 (up to 100 miles) and R-160 (also up to 100 miles)—are unguided projectiles which cannot be accurately directed at specific targets and are inherently indiscriminate. Their inaccuracy increases at longer distances and some of them could land as far as one or two miles away from a supposed target. The majority of Israel’s 8.3 million people are within range of the newer long-range rockets possessed by Palestinian armed groups, and Amnesty’s report points out that as a result the “circle of fear has widened” in Israel. Mortars are also imprecise munitions and should never be used to attack military targets located in or near civilian areas.
According to UN data, more than 4,800 rockets and 1,700 mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel during the conflict—an average of 98 rockets and 35 mortars per day. Out of the thousands of rockets and mortars fired, around 224 are estimated to have struck Israeli residential areas. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted many others. Meanwhile, at least 1,585 Palestinian civilians—including more than 530 children—were killed in Gaza, and at least 16,245 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by Israeli attacks during the conflict, some of which also amounted to war crimes according to the report.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said: “Palestinian armed groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, repeatedly launched unlawful attacks during the conflict. In launching these attacks, they displayed a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and for the consequences of their violations on civilians in both Israel and the Gaza Strip. The devastating impact of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians during the conflict is undeniable, but violations by one side in a conflict can never justify violations by their opponents.”
In the deadliest incident believed to have been caused by a Palestinian armed group during the conflict, 13 Palestinian civilians—11 of them children, aged between seven and 14—were killed when a projectile exploded next to a supermarket in the crowded al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. The children had been playing in the street at the time of the attack. Although Palestinians have claimed that the Israeli military was responsible for the attack, an independent munitions expert who examined the available evidence on behalf of Amnesty concluded that the projectile used in the attack was a Palestinian rocket.
Philip Luther added: “Evidence suggesting that a rocket launched by a Palestinian armed group may have caused 13 civilian deaths inside Gaza just underscores how indiscriminate these weapons can be and the dreadful consequences of using them.” Amnesty’s report also details other violations of international humanitarian law by Palestinian armed groups during the conflict, such as storing rockets and other munitions in civilian buildings, including UN schools, and cases where armed groups launched attacks or stored munitions near locations where hundreds of displaced civilians were taking shelter. As part of the report’s launch Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen met the UK Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould.
Kate Allen said: “I’m grateful to Matthew Gould for meeting me and what I’m keen to impress on him is that the UK needs to become an outspoken champion for credible justice in this bitter conflict. Decades of violence have now produced thousands of victims—we want to see the UK supporting a full International Criminal Court investigation into human rights abuses by all parties to this terrible conflict. The International Criminal Court is the last best chance for justice for both Israeli and Palestinian civilians and we need to see the UK being a strong advocate of the ICC.”
A student group in South Africa has called on all Jews to leave the Durban University of Technology, an act of anti-Semitism that Americans could not imagine on their own college campuses. But a comprehensive survey of anti-Semitism at American colleges released recently shows that significant hostility is directed at Jews on U.S. campuses, too. The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, produced by a Trinity College team well-known for its research on religious groups, found that 54 percent of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism on campus in the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year.
Professors Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar asked 1,157 students in an online questionnaire about the types, context and location of anti-Semitism they had encountered, and found that anti-Jewish bias is a problem for Jews of all levels of religious observance. “And this is a national problem; it’s not just happening in pockets of areas,” Keysar said. “Hopefully people will read this survey as a wake-up call. Clearly, the students want us to do something.” The survey, she also noted, was given to students months before last summer’s war between Israel and Gaza, which ignited much anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses, sentiment that at times crossed the line into anti-Semitism.
The question sent to Jewish students on 55 campuses asked whether they had personally experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on campus. Most of the 54 percent who responded “yes” reported one incident. That suggests that “Jewish students are not just being paranoid, because if they were, then we would expect each of them to identify more than one incident of anti-Semitism per year,” the researchers wrote. Similar percentages of religious (58 percent) and secular Jewish students (51 percent) said they had experienced hostility toward Jews or Judaism. And while 58 percent of those who say they are “always” open about being Jewish on campus said they had experienced anti-Semitism, 59 percent who said they “never” were reported the same.
The most common source of anti-Semitism, was a single student (29%), whilst 10% said it happened in a college club or society. Only 3% said it stemmed from the college administration. Earlier, the Pew Research Centre reportedly found that 22% of young Jews reported being called an offensive name in the previous year, a far higher percentage than older Jews. It also comes 10 years after the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights declared that campus anti-Semitism had become a “serious problem” and called for more research on the issue. Kosmin and Keysar end their report with recommending addressing anti-Semitism on campus, by letting administrators know that “the university considers anti-Semitism a serious issue equivalent to other forms of hate and bias.”
More than 25 prominent rabbis from Israel and abroad recently issued a statement calling for a renewed look at Jesus, Christians and the New Testament faith. Quoting from their own sages, these outstanding Orthodox rabbis are not ashamed to exalt the name of Jesus, welcoming the carpenter from Nazareth back into the Jewish fold. “Jesus brought a double goodness to the world,” declare the group of well-known rabbis. “On the one hand he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically… and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah,” and on the other hand “he removed idols from the nations.”
Saying that Jesus, even more than any other Jewish Sage, honoured, strengthened and protected the “immutability of the Torah,” is an extraordinary acknowledgement. These leading rabbis are turning the tides of history by removing one of the main stumbling blocks in the path of a major Jewish reclamation of Jesus! You will recall, that religious Jews rejected Jesus from the beginning, with the accusation that he did not obey the Torah, therefore he could not be the awaited Messiah. In the New Testament, we find the Pharisees arguing with Jesus over Sabbath rules, dietary laws, ritual cleanliness, marriage regulations and more. They insisted that Jesus cannot be the Messiah because “he is teaching everywhere not to obey Moses.” (Acts 6:14)
What we are now witnessing is the undoing of 2,000 years of Jewish rejection and animosity towards Jesus, a miracle by any estimation. For the out-and-out refusal by Jews to accept Jesus is slowly, but surely, coming to an end, as growing numbers of prestigious Orthodox rabbis welcome Jesus back. And there is more. “After nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation, we Orthodox Rabbis who lead communities, institutions and seminaries in Israel, the United States and Europe… seek to do the will of our Father in Heaven by accepting the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters,” the statement reads.
EIGHTY PERCENT OF FRENCH JEWS CONSIDERING MOVING TO ISRAEL
Dr. Michael Bensaadon, director of the “Klita” umbrella organisation working to help French Jews immigrate to Israel, is calling on the government of Israel to prepare for a massive wave of Aliyah from France following the Paris attacks. This escalation in Aliyah can be predicted from the rise in immigration seen until now and the deteriorating situation in France. No less than 7,000 French immigrants arrived in Israel in 2014, and “this wave will yet strengthen” he says. There are around half a million Jews in France now, notes Dr Bensaadon. He explained that another million who are not Jewish according to Jewish law are given the right to make Aliyah because of a Jewish grandparent or spouse, but this group is not counted in the poll and may not consider leaving France at all.