Israel’s bullets leave wounds that won’t heal

Due to the still-spreading bacterial infection in what remains of Muhammad Hussein’s leg, he has been unable to be fitted with a prosthesis.

Abdallah al-Naami The Electronic Intifada

Over five years have passed since an Israeli sniper shot Muhammad Hussein in the knee.

On 11 May 2018, Hussein was participating in the Great March of Return in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Thousands of Palestinians had been gathering every Friday at the boundary with Israel since March 2018. The protesters sought to claim their right to return to their land, which was taken by force by the Israeli occupation in the 1948 Nakba.

Hussein was filming the march as part of a university project.

Then, an Israeli sniper shot a young man in front of Hussein.

Hussein was in shock. A few seconds later, he was also shot.

He fell to the ground, in pain. The wound started bleeding profusely, and Hussein passed out as the paramedics were treating him. He was taken directly to the emergency room at the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, where he underwent an eight-hour operation.

After the surgery, Hussein was optimistic but still in pain.

“I thought I had recovered from the injury and that I would be able to walk again soon,” Hussein said.

After two weeks in the hospital, the doctors decided to amputate Hussein’s leg from above the knee, as they discovered inflammation and gangrene in the area of the injury.

Initially, Hussein and his family were so shocked that they refused the operation.

But it was the only option.

The day after the amputation was Hussein’s 20th birthday.

“I can’t forget how I felt that day. I was supposed to be spending a happy day with my friends and family,” he said. “Instead, the Israeli occupation turned it into a day of pain and grief.”

Never-ending infections

The UN monitoring group OCHA estimates that over 35,000 were injured during the protests, from March 2018 to November 2019. Among those injured, nearly 8,000 were shot with live ammunition.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) described those gunshot injuries as “devastating” and “of an unusual severity,” noting that doctors were observing “an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.”

About two weeks after the amputation, Hussein started to experience severe pain in the area of his injury. At the hospital, the doctors discovered a bacterial infection and performed an emergency operation to control it.

Dr. Fadel Naim, a consultant orthopedist in Gaza City, said that Gaza lacks the equipment needed to diagnose bacterial infections, due to the Israeli blockade.

Such laboratory equipment can detect and determine types of bacteria so doctors can prescribe the necessary antibiotic. Without the equipment, infections only worsen.

Over a thousand Palestinians in Gaza experienced bacterial infections in their gunshot wounds, according to MSF, and many of these infections are resistant to common antibiotics.

According to Naim, many infections did not respond to any of the antibiotics available in the Gaza Strip, and they had to resort to amputation as a last resort to stop the spread of infections.

But, in many cases, even amputation was not enough.

Wounds that won’t heal

Over five years, Hussein has undergone three amputations, but they have all failed to stop the infection. Today, only a few centimeters of his leg remain, and the infection continues to spread.

“The doctors told me that if the infection spreads to the pelvic joint, it could be life-threatening,” Hussein said.

In 2019, he applied for a permit to travel for treatment in hospitals in both Jerusalem and the West Bank, but the Israeli authorities refused his request.

“After every surgery I had, I had hope that my wound would heal and my suffering with the injury would finally end,” he said. “I was disappointed and devastated every time.”

Khamis Fojo has undergone 18 surgeries and eight amputations after an Israeli sniper shot him above the knee in July 2018.

Abdallah al-Naami The Electronic Intifada

Khamis Fojo, 33, has experienced a similar sense of devastation and disappointment since an Israeli sniper shot him on 27 July 2018 during the Great March of Return.

He was over a kilometer from the boundary fence when he was shot above the knee. The bullet caused severe internal bleeding, and Fojo was in a coma for two weeks at the European Gaza Hospital.

“The last thing I remember before I passed out is the sound of a bullet,” he said. “It sounded like an explosion.”

“I thought I was going to die.”

Due to the severity of his injury, doctors amputated Fojo’s leg.

Six months after the amputation, he developed a fever and felt intense pain in his leg. A bacterial infection had developed.

Antibiotics were not enough to stop the infection, and surgery was the only option. Over the past five years, Fojo has undergone 18 surgeries, including eight amputations.

“Despite all the surgeries, my injury kept getting worse and more painful,” said Fojo, who lives in Rafah with his wife and four children.

“I still live in pain every day, especially at night,” he continued.

Fojo recently stopped taking painkillers, as they are no longer effective.

The Israeli authorities refused to grant Fojo a permit to travel for treatment in the West Bank or Jerusalem. He was rejected more than 10 times for a permit to enter Egypt until finally, in 2022 and 2023, he was allowed to travel there.

“The Egyptian doctors were shocked to see how bad my injury was,” he said. “They told me that they had never seen a case like mine before, and that the weapons that caused my injury should be internationally banned.”

Mental toll

Before the injury, Fojo was an active person, but now, he experiences anxiety and is quick to anger. He rarely leaves the house.

Muhammad Hussein has endured similar bouts of depression. “It was difficult for me to accept and cope with my disability and my constantly deteriorating injury,” he said.

Yet he obtained a degree in multimedia studies from Palestine Technical College in Deir al-Balah in 2021. And, eventually, he returned to weightlifting and physical training, but these are not activities that he can do with regularity.

As his infection spreads throughout the remainder of his leg, he has to take breaks for surgeries and to rest.

In 2021, Hussein undertook the necessary steps to get fitted for a prosthetic leg from Hamad Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics in Gaza. But the nerves in the injured leg still cause it to involuntarily twitch, especially during the night, which is frightening to Hussein.

Due to the bacteria spreading to the bone and the constant pain, a prosthesis was not possible.

Abdallah al-Naami is a journalist and photographer living in Gaza.

How do people with disabilities cope when Israel bombs Gaza?

When Israel invaded southern Gaza in 2014, Alaa al-Nahal, who is deaf, could not hear the Israeli attacks but he could feel them. Above, several men assist a woman wounded in the 2014 Israeli airstrikes on Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Ramadan El-Agha APA images

Emad Qudeih was sitting with his friends on the road close to his house in Khan Younis when a loud explosion shook the area. It was May 2016, and he was only 13. Everyone panicked and fled, leaving him alone.

“I attempted to flee, but I didn’t know what road was safe,” Qudeih, now 20, said. “I’m blind. I just froze and awaited my fate.”

He remained still, frozen in fear, until his father rushed to his side and took him home. The Israeli military had bombed the area, and this was not the first time Qudeih had been caught in the violence of the occupation.

In the 2014 war, Qudeih and his family had to evacuate their home during Israeli ground invasions of the southern Gaza Strip.

All Palestinians in Gaza are vulnerable during Israeli attacks, but blind Palestinians are even more at risk.

Medications of no use

Qudeih was not born blind; he lost his sight gradually.

In the first grade, he lost sight in his right eye due to retinal detachment. Two years later he lost sight in his left eye for the same reason. He was 7 years old.

Between the ages of 7 and 14, he had surgery after surgery at St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital.

“The surgeries proved successful, and I was able to see for a while,” Qudeih said, “but a haze would eventually obscure my vision.”

It turned out that there was bleeding in his retinas. The doctors said the bleeding would go away with time and medications like eye drops.

“But the medications were of no use,” Qudeih said.

In 2015, when he was 12 years old, he traveled to Spain and underwent five surgeries in three months, but he lost vision completely several months after the surgeries.

Qudeih spoke to The Electronic Intifada at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he is pursuing a degree in English translation.

“In addition to proving myself to my professors,” he said, “it took me time to learn to navigate university facilities.”

He counts his steps while walking, so he can retrace them. He has also memorized various routes to help him get around.

“I want to be an activist who appears on TV, speaking both Arabic and English,” Qudeih said, “describing our needs as both disabled people and as Palestinians.”

“No one is going to hire a deaf person”

Alaa al-Nahal, 52, was watching the news on television during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, when suddenly he felt rumbling very close to his home, though he heard nothing.

“I felt the floor shaking and understood that the Israelis were bombing very near,” he said. “My wife hurried to me, telling me that it is better to evacuate the house.”The family gathered their belongings to evacuate Rafah – Gaza’s southernmost city. Israel declared a ground invasion on the Gaza Strip from the south.As the family were preparing to leave, a strong explosion shattered the windows.“They didn’t give us any warning [of the bombing],” al-Nahal said.Despite the terror of that night, al-Nahal said he didn’t face any special challenges during the war.“I found no difficulties other than not feeling safe in my house.”Many Palestinians in Gaza, living under siege, might say the same thing. But when al-Nahal was born, he had a fever that caused his hearing loss.Al-Nahal communicates with sign language, and his wife translated for us during our interview at their home.

He said his condition does not feel isolating, though he wishes he could find work.From 2001, al-Nahal had worked as a driver to support his four daughters and one son. However, when his car broke down in 2020, he had to sell it. Currently, the family receives social welfare payments to provide the daily necessities – though those payments are not always reliable.

“There is no income, and no one is going to hire a deaf person,” al-Nahal said. Sometimes his siblings help him out. But unemployment is already over 40 percent in Gaza, the result of the Israeli blockade, and his chances for work are small.

Occupation doesn’t differentiate

Hasan al-Zaalan, the head of the Palestinian General Union of People with Disabilities, explained how people with disabilities face many obstacles during Israel’s attacks.“People with disabilities face many obstacles amid wars, such as having limited mobility as they escape the bombing,” he said.

“The occupation does not differentiate between people with disabilities and others in wars. They do not respect their rights. In the last war, we had three … martyrs [who had disabilities] and others were injured.”

On 6 April 2018, Mahmoud Malakha, 34, who lives in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, was going to retrieve the key to his coffee and snack shop from an employee who was attending the Great March of Return along the boundary with Israel.

He was among the other protesters when he “felt a powerful electric shock in my leg and fell to the ground,” he said. “A sniper’s bullet struck my leg.”

After he fell to the ground, people crowded around him and he was carried to an ambulance.

This was not the first injury inflicted on him by an Israeli weapon.

In the 2009 war on Gaza, he was on a bus with his friends when an Israeli airstrike hit the bus. Malakha was the only survivor. It is not a day in his life that he feels comfortable talking about in detail.

“I spent one year and seven months lying in bed, unable to move my hands or neck,” he said. “I had to wear diapers because I was not able to go to the bathroom.”

Nine years later, he was again rushed to the hospital. Doctors there insisted on immediate amputation, but Malakha refused.

Over the next two years, he had dozens of surgeries to help him regain use of his leg. When he developed bone cancer in 2020, he underwent chemotherapy, but amputation of his leg was the only way to eradicate the cancer completely.

In September 2022, Malakha had his 89th surgery, by his own count. He woke up seven hours later to continue his life with one leg.

“I approached the situation with a sense of normalcy,” he said. “After the operation, I returned home, rested, woke up the next morning and went to the market.”

As compensation for his lost leg, Malakha receives about $165 each month. A compensation that barely puts food on the table for his wife and the four children.

To support his family, Malakha opened a coffee shop in Gaza’s port. But there were too many challenges to overcome and it failed.

So he became a taxi driver.

“Surrendering to people’s opinions and the harsh reality would only lead to excessive overthinking and stress,” he said. “I made a conscious decision to not give up.”

In the 2014 war, when he still had both legs, his house was damaged by a nearby strike, and his family had to evacuate.

“There is no doubt that getting out of the second floor is hard. I can focus my mind on the difficulty, but I don’t want to. It will only hurt me and destroy my children. Adapting to this reality is the only option I have.”

Khaled El-Hissy is a journalist from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip.

Angelo Baracca ci ha lasciato

Angelo Baracca ci ha lasciato ma certo non ci lascia quello che ha rappresentato come compagno e collega per molti di noi.

E’ la prima volta che scrivo “in memoria” e lo faccio solo perché sono convinta che lui ne sorriderebbe e condividerebbe quello che vi racconto del contributo che ha dato, oltre che a tante altre iniziative di conoscenza e denuncia, alla nascita e formulazione dei compiti del gruppo di lavoro sulle nuove armi, diventato poi newweapons research group.

Con Angelo parlavamo, entrambe sostenevamo quello che si chiamava Scienziati e scienziate contro la Guerra, un gruppo di informazione anche scientifica sulle conseguenze delle guerre sulla popolazione civile, allora gruppo di ricerca osservazionale, ma non di lavoro sul campo nè di indagine analitica.

A Genova nel 2006 eravamo riuniti insieme ad Angelo con i movimenti antiglobalizzazione e per un mondo migliore a ricordare la repressione del forum sociale mondiale del 2001 e a parlare della situazione terribile in Iraq ed Afganistan.

Intanto gli attacchi Israeliani sul Libano e simultaneamente, seppure più brevi su Gaza, erano iniziati nella prima settimana di Luglio e molto presto io ero stata raggiunta dalla richiesta di medici da Tiro e Sidone in Libano e da Gaza che riportavano di ferite mai viste prima e con esiti inaspettati, ferite senza frammenti alla autopsia o nelle ferite delle vittime, e chiedevano aiuto a capire cosa le procurasse e come intervenire.

Con Angelo discussi come fosse il caso di prendere la responsabilità di passare dalla denuncia e dall’osservazione circostanziale allo studio di queste ferite per comprenderne le cause ed eventualmente, se possibile i rimedi. Discussi di fare cioè il nostro mestiere di scienziati applicandolo alle circostanze.

In quel periodo la letteratura militare lodava la sperimentazione di “armi a raggio di impatto ridotto, capaci di ridurre le vittime collaterali” negli omicidi mirati, e di armi “aumentate con polveri di metallo”, che, oltre che l’uso di proiettili ad uranio impoverito, si candidavano ai nostri occhi di scienziati come invece “armi a raggio di effetto incontrollato e i cui residui potevano permanere nel tempo e causare danni a lungo termine alla salute”, cosa che poi abbiamo dimostrato succedere a Gaza.

E ancora in quel periodo, il giornalismo investigativo, in particolare in Italia Maurizio Torrealta, parlava di un tipo di queste armi di nuova generazione chiamato DIME che sarebbe stato “aumentato” con titanio, un metallo tossico e potenzialmente carcinogeno.

I casi di vittime per cui dal Libano e da Gaza ci si chiedeva aiuto avrebbero potuto essere dovuti a queste armi, ma bisognava agli occhi di alcuni di noi, Angelo con me, passare dalle osservazioni e induzioni, all’ottenimento di prove e allo studio scientifico ed analitico delle sostanze nelle armi e documentare le implicazioni sulla salute. Bisognava dunque lavorare nei luoghi di queste guerre ed iniziare a raccogliere evidenze materiali. Il primo passo fu l’invio in Libano da parte mia di protocolli per la raccolta di materiale biologico dalle ferite. Analogamente protocolli furono inviati a Gaza. In entrambe i posti i campioni furono raccolti dai chirurghi.

Il secondo passo nel settembre 2006 fu quello di inviare un collega infermiere in una prima missione in Libano, per raccogliere le circostanze e le diagnosi e gli esiti delle ferite stesse. Che lo studio sarebbe stato difficile da portare avanti fu subito chiaro in Libano dal fatto che tutti i campioni bioptici appena finiti gli attacchi furono sequestrati ai chirurghi di medicina di emergenza che li avevano raccolti, dal governo Libanese che disse li avrebbe mandati ad analizzare, si rifiutò di interloquire con scienziati internazionali e mai riportò i risultati di alcuna analisi pubblicamente o ai medici locali. Salvo un singolo campione portato via ancora durante gli attacchi da un giornalista tedesco e poi messoci a disposizione per analisi, che furono però limitate dal trattamento precedente fatto sullo stesso campione.

Dal Libano però avemmo una ottima interlocuzione anche nella successiva mia visita a novembre con i chirurghi e la descrizione precisa sia delle circostanze dell’attacco su più decine di vittime, sia le foto delle loro ferite, sia il report delle procedure di intervento e dell’esito di questo. Queste informazioni aiutarono a formulare ancor più chiaramente che armi senza frammenti e mirate, di vario impatto con carica sub o letale erano state introdotte in quella guerra da Israele. La similitudine con le informazioni corrispondenti fornite dai medici di Gaza era molto grande, ed in questo caso i campioni biologici erano stati preservati e ci furono resi disponibili per analisi.

Lo studio analitico dei tessuti delle ferite delle vittime di Gaza ci confermò che queste contenevano varii metalli pesanti carcinogeni e capaci di produrre difetti negli embrioni e feti in quantità elevate, e danni sulla salute in generale, ma non contenevano titanio.

Mai prima informazioni dirette di questo tipo erano state ottenute e la contaminazione presente nel tessuto sede delle ferite senza frammenti era quella che si definisce “prova di fatto” che  fossero state usate armi con contenuto di metalli pesanti in forma di particelle molto piccole che possono agire come “seghe molecolari” quando sono ad alta temperatura. Questo implicava il potenziale di questo tipo di armi di diffondere metalli pesanti che non scompaiono dall’ambiente e che si accumulano negli organismi viventi e sono patogenici a lungo termine. Abbiamo verificato che subito dopo gli attacchi nel 2009 la contaminazione da metalli era infatti molto alta in più del 60 % dei circa 100 bambini testati.

Anni di lavoro di indagine sul campo a Gaza (2010-2020) hanno poi portato prove dirette che difetti congeniti e nascite pretermine, le due cause principali di mortalità alla nascita, ed entrambe di problemi più o meno gravi ai sopravvissuti, sono associate a contaminazione dei neonati e delle madri da metalli pesanti e che questa contaminazione nella fase immediatamente successiva agli attacchi militari è dovuta alla esposizione documentata obbiettivamente delle donne gravide a questi attacchi.

Nonostante questi dati siano stati oggetto di molte pubblicazioni scientifiche in giornali internazionali, non molto è stato diffuso in Italiano un po’ per la natura “tecnico-scientifica ” dei dati ma soprattutto per la nostra limitata capacità di coprire i diversi fronti dell’informazione.

Vedo Angelo sorridere per il fatto che per celebrare lui ho colto l’occasione di raccontarvi questa storia, e so che condividerebbe che lo faccio. A volte, o forse sempre, la somiglianza nelle motivazioni, la competenza generale in un campo e la complicità nella lotta sono i vademecum per l’avanzamento delle conoscenze e per la scoperta di verità difficili da digerire.

Gaza è adesso diffusamente contaminata da metalli pesanti, la popolazione ne è cronicamente affetta. Così è molto probabilmente per tutti i territori dove Israeliani e Nordamericani e loro “compratori di armi” hanno operato in tutti gli anni del secolo. Infatti, mancando indagini puntuali, ci però sono osservazioni di incremento dei danni alla nascita in tutti questi paesi. Mentre a Gaza altri potenziali agenti che possono produrre questi danni sono stati esclusi dal lavoro di ricerca, certamente in altre circostanze i danni possono avere anche altre concause, ma forse ora  è purtroppo troppo tardi per indagini scientifiche puntuali che le dimostrino o escludano.

Allora, Angelo che mi sorridi, grazie ancora per la complicità, lo scambio di idee e conoscenze e la condivisione di intenti, e che la terra ti sia lieve come tu lo sei stato con i tuoi amici.

Iniziò cosi il lavoro del gruppo di ricerca NWRG

Paola Manduca






British Warmongering Is Driving Europe Towards Catastrophe in Ukraine

From lobbying for fighter jets to supplying depleted uranium, the UK is making sure escalation is the only way forward

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the Translate Website button below the author’s name.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky made an unexpected trip to Britain last week on a whistle-stop tour of European capitals, pleading for more powerful and longer-range weapons to use in his war against Russia. 

What was hard to ignore once again was the extent to which the UK is playing an outsize role in Ukraine.

Last year, shortly after the start of the war, the then-prime minister, Boris Johnson, hurried to Kyiv – presumably on Washington’s instructions – apparently to warn Zelensky off fledgling peace talks with Moscow.

At around the same time, the Biden administration made clear it favoured an escalation in fighting, not an end to it, as an opportunity to “weaken” Russia, a geo-strategic rival along with China.

Since then, the UK has been at the forefront of European efforts to entrench the conflict, helping to lobby for the supply of weapons, training and military intelligence to Ukrainian forces.

British tanks and thousands of tank shells – including, controversially, some made from depleted uranium – are being shipped out. Last week, the UK added hundreds of long-range attack drones to the inventory.

And an unspecified number of £2m-a-blast Storm Shadow cruise missiles, with a range of nearly 300km, have started arriving. Last week Ben Wallace, Britain’s defence secretary, said the missiles were already in use, adding that Kyiv alone was deciding on the targets.

Storm Shadow allows the Ukrainian military to strike deep into Russian-annexed parts of Ukraine – and potentially at Russian cities too.

A recent leak revealed that the Pentagon had learnt through electronic eavesdropping of Zelensky’s eagerness for longer-range missiles so that his forces were “capable of reaching Russian troop deployments in Russia”.

Lip service

Britain now pays little more than lip service to the West’s claim that its role is only to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression. The supply of increasingly offensive weapons has turned Ukraine into what amounts to a proxy battleground on which the Cold War can be revived.

During Zelensky’s visit to the UK last week, Johnson’s successor, Rishi Sunak, effectively acted as an arms broker for Ukraine, joining with the Netherlands in what was grandly dubbed an “international coalition” to pressure the Biden administration and other European states to supply Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets. 

Washington appeared not to need much cajoling. Three days later, Biden dramatically changed tack at a G7 summit in Japan. He effectively gave a green light for US allies to supply Ukraine not only with US-made F-16s but similar fourth-generation fighter jets, including Britain’s Eurofighter Typhoon and France’s Mirage 2000.

Administration officials surprised European leaders by suggesting the US would be directly involved in the training of pilots outside Ukraine.

After a highly staged “surprise” visit by Zelensky to the summit at the weekend, Biden said he had been given a “flat reassurance” that the jets would not attack Russian territory.

British officials, meanwhile, indicated that the UK would start training Ukrainian pilots within weeks.

‘Rightful place is in Nato’ 

No 10 has made clear that Sunak’s purpose is to build “a new Ukrainian air force with Nato-standard F-16 jets” and that the prime minister believes “Ukraine’s rightful place is in Nato”.

These statements seem intended once again to block any potential path towards peace. President Vladimir Putin repeatedly spoke out against Nato’s growing, covert involvement in neighbouring Ukraine before Russia launched its invasion 15 months ago.

It is hard to imagine that the UK is heading off-script. More likely, the Biden administration is using Britain to make the running and soften up Western publics as Nato becomes ever more deeply immersed in the military activities of Russia’s neighbour.

Ukraine is being gradually turned into the very Nato forward base that first set Moscow on course to invade.

At the same time, Britain appears to be exploiting the Ukraine war as a showcase for its weaponry. After the US, it has been the largest supplier of military equipment to Ukraine.

This week it was reported that UK arms exports hit a record £8.5bn, more than double last year’s total. The last time Britain was so successful at selling weapons was in 2015, at the height of the Syrian war.

Risk to health

Europe’s weapons largesse is, we are told, the precondition for Ukraine to mount a long-awaited counter-offensive to take back territory Russia has seized in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.

Speaking candidly in Florence this month, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top diplomat, ruled out peace talks. Ukraine needed massive supplies of arms because otherwise “Ukraine will fall in a matter of days”, he said.

Borrell’s warning not only suggested the precariousness of Ukraine’s situation but implied that, out of desperation, its leaders might be prepared to approve ever riskier combat scenarios.

And thanks to British meddling, the heavy toll of casualties as the war rages on – among the Ukrainian population and Russian soldiers, as well as potentially inside Russia’s borders too – may be felt not just over the coming months but for decades.

In March, Declassified broke the story that some of the thousands of tank shells Britain is supplying to Kyiv are made of depleted uranium (DU), a radioactive heavy metal produced as waste from nuclear power plants.

Keir Starmer’s opposition Labour party has said it “fully supports” the UK government’s supply of these armour-piercing shells to Ukraine, despite the long-term risk they pose to those exposed to the chemically toxic contamination left behind.

DU shells fragment and burn when they hit a target. One analyst, Doug Weir, from the Conflict and Environment Observatory, told Declassified that the ammunition produces “chemically toxic and radioactive DU particulate [microscopic particles] that poses an inhalational risk to people”.

Nonetheless, British ministers insist the threat to human health is low – and worth the risk given the military gains in helping Ukraine to destroy Russian tanks.

Cancer deaths 

As Declassified has highlighted, however, a growing body of evidence following the use of such shells by the US in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and by Britain and the US in Iraq a decade later undermines these reassurances.

Italian courts have upheld compensation claims against the country’s military in more than 300 cases where Italians who served in the police or as soldiers in Bosnia and Kosovo have died of cancer after being exposed to DU.

Many thousands more Italian former service-people are reported to have developed cancers.

In 2001 Tony Blair’s government downplayed the role of DU in Italy’s deaths to avoid upsetting the new administration of George W Bush. Both leaders would soon approve the use of DU rounds in Iraq, though the UK admitted a “moral obligation” to help clean up some of the contamination afterwards.

The West has taken little interest in researching the effects of DU weapons in Iraq, even though local civilian populations have been the most exposed to its contamination. DU shells were used extensively during both the 1991 Gulf war and more than a decade later during the US and British-led occupation of Iraq.

Iraqi government statistics suggest the rates of cancers leapt 40-fold between the period immediately before the Gulf war and 2005.

The city of Fallujah, which the US devastated after the 2003 invasion, is reported to suffer “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied”. Birth defects are said to be roughly 14 times the rate in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki regions of Japan, where the US dropped atomic bombs.

In 2018 the British government reclassified a 1981 report into the dangers of DU weapons by the Ministry of Defence’s Atomic Weapons Research Establishment it had made available three years earlier.

Meanwhile, James Heappey, the armed forces minister, has misleadingly suggested that international bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations have found no long-term health or environmental hazards associated with DU weapons.

But as Weir told Declassified in March: “None of the entities cited by the MoD has undertaken long-term environmental or health studies in conflict areas where DU weapons have been used.”

In other words, they simply don’t know – and possibly don’t care to find out.

Weir added that the WHO, UN and International Atomic Energy Agency had all called for contaminated areas to be clearly marked and access restricted, while at the same time recommending that risk awareness campaigns be targeted at nearby communities.

British officials have also recruited the Royal Society to their efforts to claim DU is safe – as the US did earlier, in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, citing two of its reports published in 2001 and 2002.

However, the Royal Society has vocally distanced itself from such claims. A spokesperson told Declassified that, despite the British government’s assertions, DU was no longer an “active area of policy research”.

Back in 2003, the Royal Society rebuked Washington, telling the Guardian that soldiers and civilians in Iraq “were in short and long term danger. Children playing at contaminated sites were particularly at risk.”

At the same time, the chairman of the Royal Society’s working group on depleted uranium, Professor Brian Spratt, warned that corroding shells could leach DU into water supplies. He recommended removing ordinance and conducting long-term sampling of water supplies.

Voices silenced 

By lobbying for more overtly offensive weapons and introducing DU shells into the war, Britain has raised the stakes in two incendiary ways.

First, it is driving the war’s logic towards ever greater escalation, including nuclear escalation.

Russia itself possesses DU weapons but is reported to have avoided using them. Moscow has long warned that it regards use of DU in Ukraine in nuclear terms: as the equivalent of a “dirty bomb”.

In March Putin responded to the UK’s decision to supply DU tank shells by vowing to move “tactical” nuclear weapons into neighbouring Belarus. Meanwhile, his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, said it put the world “fewer and fewer steps” away from “nuclear collision”.

But Britain is also creating a situation where a catastrophic move, or miscalculation, by either Russia or Ukraine is becoming ever more likely, as events last week highlighted only too clearly.

Russia struck a military ammunition depot in western Ukraine, creating a giant fireball. Rumours suggested the site may have included British DU shells.

Whether true or not, it is a reminder that Moscow could hit such a storage site, intentionally or accidentally, spreading contamination widely over a built-up area.

With Ukraine soon to be in possession of a full array of offensive weapons, largely courtesy of the UK – not only long-range drones, cruise missiles and tanks but fighter jets – it is not hard to imagine terrifying scenarios that could quickly bring Europe to the brink of nuclear conflict.

Moscow hits a DU ammunition depot, exposing a large civilian population to toxic contamination. Ukraine retaliates with air strikes deep inside Russia. The path to a nuclear exchange in Europe has never looked closer.

Those who warned that peace talks were urgently needed rather than an arms race in Ukraine are looking more prescient by the day. For how much longer can their voices continue to be silenced, not only by western leaders but by the western media too?

Palestinian Health Ministry Condemns Israeli Prevention of Palestinian Patients from Receiving Medical Treatment

M.S | DOP –

The Palestinian Health Ministry condemned on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, the Israeli occupation closure of the Beit Hanon (Erez) crossing for the second day in a row, preventing Palestinian patients from leaving the city to receive medical.

“The Israeli occupation continues to close the Beit Hanon crossing for the second day in a row, preventing 292 Palestinian patients, most of whom are oncology patients, and their companions from leaving for treatment in hospitals in Occupied Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the 1948-occupied Palestinian territories,” said the ministry.

It indicated that the Israeli occupation banning Palestinian patients from reaching specialized hospitals is a clear violation of International humanitarian law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Israeli occupation is not satisfied with preventing the entry of medical diagnostic devices and some needed medicine to Gaza for more than 18 months but is still completing its crimes against Gaza’s Palestinian patients for the third day, it added.

The Palestinian Health Ministry called on the international community to interfere and pressure the Israeli occupation to allow Palestinian patients to leave Gaza for medical treatment to save their lives.


the undersigned, international health professionals concerned in the protection of Palestinian health rights and in the respect of human rights and the application of international laws, ask your Excellency to act immediately for relieving the plight of Gaza again sealed and without medical supplies, or permit for patients to exit for care, by requesting free and immediate passage of medical supplies, instruments and international health and healthrelated professionals into Gaza and to secure exit/return permits for patients.
We know that EU representatives in Palestine and yourself are aware of the scarcity in medical supplies and personnel, which mark the worst stage of 17 years of blockade of Gaza.
We therefore assume you can see the implications for the whole population of another military attack, where the capability to care for eventual trauma patients is simply not available, as it is no more that of maintaining routine care.
We ask you to request strongly to Israel and Egypt to keep open in all conditions the passages and grant unrestricted access, as above, for humanitarian purposes.
In doing so, you and the EU would be honoring your own statements of concern for the Palestinian population and would exercise the institutional duties of EU as signatory of the Geneva conventions.
We expect you will be so kind to give course to this request rapidly.
Best regards

All’Alto Rappresentante dell’Unione Europea per gli Affari Esteri e la Politica di Sicurezza,Josep Borrell

i sottoscritti, operatori sanitari internazionali interessati alla protezione del diritto alla salutedei palestinesi e al rispetto dei diritti umani e all’applicazione delle leggi internazionali,chiedono alla Vostra Eccellenzadi agire immediatamente per alleviare la difficile situazione di Gaza nuovamente sigillata esenza forniture mediche, per consentire ai pazienti di uscire per cure, per permettere ilpassaggio immediato di forniture mediche, strumenti e forniture sanitarie, ed il passaggio di
operatori sanitari internazionali a Gaza e per garantire i permessi di uscita/ritorno per ipazienti.Sappiamo che i rappresentanti dell’UE in Palestina, e Lei stesso, siete consapevoli dellascarsità di forniture mediche e personale, che segna la fase peggiore di 17 anni di blocco diGaza.Assumiamo quindi che Lei possa comprendere le implicazioni per l’intera popolazione di unaltro attacco militare, quando la capacità di prendersi cura di eventuali feriti semplicementenon è disponibile, così come non lo è più quella di mantenere le cure di routine.

Le chiediamo di esercitare forte pressione su Israele ed l’Egitto perchè mantengano aperti, intutte le condizioni, i passaggi e l’accesso senza restrizioni, come descritto sopra, di materialie persone, per scopi umanitari.In tal modo, Lei e l’UE onorereste le vostre stesse dichiarazioni di preoccupazione per lapopolazione palestinese ed esercitereste i doveri istituzionali dell’UE in quanto firmatariodelle convenzioni di Ginevra.

Ci aspettiamo che sarai così gentile da dare corso a questa richiesta rapidamente.
Distinti saluti

1. Alan Meyers, MD,MPH, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School
of Medicine, Boston MA USA
2. Alice Rothchild MD, USA
3. Amy Alpert CCC-SLP, USA
4. Andrea Balduzzi, Dr. Biologist, retired University of Genoa, Italy
5. Angelo Stefanini, Dr., PCRF and University of Bologna (
6. Baroness Jenny Tonge, Dr. UK
7. Carla Ciccone, Gynecologist, retired, Ospedale Moscato, Avellino, Italy
8. Cathy Wield, Specialist in Emergency Medicine
9. Christophe Oberlin, Professor of Medicine, France
10. Colin Green, PhD (Med); DSc(Med); FRCVS; FRC Path; FRCS (England) Professor
of Surgery, University College London (UCL),, Founder, Director of Overseas
Development, IMET2000
11. David Ward, MB, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Consultant Psychiatrist, Senior
Lecturer- University of Queensland, Metro South Health
12. Derek Summerfield, King’s College, Univ of London
13. Dianne Lefevre, Consultant psychiatrist, London, UK
14. Jean-Jacques AMY,, Emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Vrije
Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
15. Eric David, Professeur émérite de droit international public, l’Université libre de
Bruxelles, Past President of the Centre for International Law (ULB),, Bruxelles,
16. Eric Windgassen, MRC.Psych, Consultant Psychiatrist (retired), UK
17. Fanny Polet, Viva la Salud, Director, Belgium
18. Franco Camandona, MD, Gynecologist, Ospedale Galliera, Genoa, Italy
19. Gianni Tiognoni, MD, Fondazione Lelio e Lisle Basso, Italy
20. Herman Deley, Ghent University, Belgium
21. Jan Gerris, MD, PhD, Ghent University, Belgium
22. Jane Gilbert M.A (Psychol), M.Sc (Clin Psych), C Psychol, AFBPsS, Consultant
Clinical Psychologist, UK
23. Jon Jureidini PhD, Prof. MBBS FRANZCP, Research Leader, Critical and Ethical
Mental Health (CEMH), The University of Adelaide, Australia
24. Leon Verbruggen, MD, PhD, retired professor of rheumatology, Vrije Universiteit
Brussel, Belgium.
25. Marina Rui, PHD, University of Genoa, Italy
26. Maxine Fookson, RN, MN, Portland, Oregon
27. Nozomi Takahashi. PhD, Inflammation Research Center, VIB-Ghent University,
28. Paola Manduca, Prof. Genetics, retired University of Genoa, Italy
29. Peadar O’Grady, ,MB, MPhil, MRCPsych, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, Dublin,
30. Prem Jeyapaul, Consultant Psychiatrist, UK
31. Rachel Rubin, MD, MPH, Senior Medical Officer, Cook County Department of Public
Health, Forest Park, IL 60130, United States
32. Raija-Leena Punamäki Psychologist, Professor emerita, PhD., MEcon.Tampere
University, Finland
33. Ruchama Marton, MD, PHR, Israel
34. Sebastião Viola, MRCPsych,Consultant Psychiatrist, Cardiff, UK
35. Swee Ang, MD, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, UK
36. Tom Gibelthorpe Consultant Psychiatrist, Sheffield, UK
37. Tomasz Pierscionek, Psychiatrist, NHS, UK
38. Vincenzo Stefano Luisi, Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon, Pisa, Italy
39. Vittorio Agnoletto, MD, Università degli Studi, Milano

Ongoing Closure of Gaza Crossings Impairs Health System and Threatens Hundreds of Patients’ Lives

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the ongoing closure of Gaza Crossings for the 2nd day consecutively, following the Israeli military offensive on Tuesday at dawn that has targeted civilian facilities, killed 16 Palestinians, including 4 children and 4 women, and injured 21 others who sustained various wounds. PCHR emphasizes that the continued closure of the crossings threatens the lives of hundreds of patients and weakens the already frail health system due to the Israeli-imposed closure on Gaza Strip for 16 years.


According to PCHR’s follows-up, the closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing has denied hundreds of cancer patients and others with serious diseases, whose treatment is unavailable at Gaza Strip’s hospital, travel to complete their treatment at hospitals in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, or in Israel, seriously endangering their lives. Yesterday, the 1st day of the closure, 142 cancer patients were unable to travel to receive and complete their treatment, including 5 serious and life-saving cases. Today, 136 patients have not been able to travel for treatment, including (3) serious cases. Additionally, the Israeli occupation authorities have refused to return the dead body of (H. N.), from northern Gaza Strip, who was receiving treatment at al-Mutala’ Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem and died today at dawn.



With the ongoing closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing to patients with serious diseases, hundreds of patients face willful killing in light of Gaza health system’s inability to provide health services to these patients due to the lack of specialized medical staff and chronic shortage of medicines and medical supplies, particularly radiotherapy and laboratory materials necessary for conducting diagnostic tests.


Gaza hospitals suffer from acute shortage of drugs and medical supplies as the number of essential drugs at zero-stock reached 255 out of 522 types with a deficit rate of (43%), while the number of medical supplies at zero-stock reached 165 out of 853 essential types with a deficit rate of (19%). Moreover, for 18 months, the Israeli occupation authorities have banned the entry of a number of medical devices that are used in diagnosing and treating cancer patients, such as interventional radiology and ultrasound devices, in addition to some spare parts needed for the maintenance of inoperative devices.


Moreover, continuously closing “Kerem Shalom” Crossing, Gaza’s only commercial crossing, and banning the entry of medical supplies have inflicted serious repercussions on the lives of thousands of Gaza Strip patients and impeded the work of the medical personnel at the emergency departments, operating rooms, and intensive care units to provide health care for the wounded.


The ongoing closure of the crossings and ban on the entry of the necessary fuel supplies would force the Gaza’s only power plant to shut down, so civilians would face long hours of blackouts at houses and vital facilities, such as hospitals and infrastructure service facilities. It is also feared that catastrophic scenarios similar to those in the previous offensives would recur, such as cutting water supplies to citizens for long periods, and shutdown of desalination plants and wastewater treatment plant, that may lead to a serious health hazard due to sewage floods. And if exacerbated, this will lead to the outbreak of epidemics and diseases among citizens as well as the recontamination of the groundwater reservoir.


PCHR emphasizes that the closure of crossings is a form of collective punishment and is internationally prohibited and a clear violation of Article (33) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Therefore PCHR:

  • Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under the Convention; to provide protection for Palestinian civilians who are subjected to war crimes by IOF, and to practice pressure on Israel to end use of collective punishment policy against the Gaza Strip population, including the closure of crossings that seriously jeopardizes civilians’ enjoyment of their economic and social rights.
  • Urges the international community to take immediate and urgent action to pressure Israel to open all crossings, allow the travel of patients for treatment abroad, and ensure the entry of drugs and medical equipment to Gaza Strip hospitals and fuel supplies to Gaza’s only power plant.
  • Believes that the international community’s silence policy towards the crime of the Israeli closure on Gaza has contributed to the deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, as more than half of the population (53%) live in poverty, 64.4% are food insecure, and 80% are dependent on international aid.

progetti sostenuti con i fondi Otto per Mille della Chiesa Valdese

NWRG ha realizzato, o sta realizzando, i seguenti progetti sostenuti con i fondi Otto per Mille della Chiesa Valdese:

OPM/2021/22715 Sostegno allo screening per malattie infettive neonatali nella striscia di Gaza, Palestina, concluso. Contributo totale utilizzato per il progetto: € 43.065,22
Il progetto ha permesso di fornire al laboratorio del Ministero della Salute a Gaza i materiali per la diagnosi e cura delle sepsi neonatali nei reparti di cura intensiva neonatale, che, data la situazione di carenza attuale, ha reso necessario un intervento esterno per garantire la continuità di questo
servizio essenziale

OPM/2022/32180 Provvedere medicine essenziali e strumenti per salvare neonati immunocompromessi ed altri neonati a rischio a Gaza, Palestina, in fase di verifica finale. Contributo totale assegnato al progetto: € 47.000,00
Il progetto prevede di procurare medicamenti (gamma immunoglobuline), necessari per la sopravvivenza di neonati ad alto rischio di morte perché immunocompromessi, e un ventilatore portatile, necessario per la ventilazione di neonati gravi che richiedono trasferimento in ospedali specializzati. Il ventilatore è stato consegnato nel febbraio 2023 all’unità di cura intensiva neonatale dell’Ospedale pediatrico Nasser di Gaza City. Un totale di 67 fiale di immunoglobuline, dopo un lungo periodo di ricerca dei necessari quantitativi di tale farmaco, attualmente di molto difficile reperimento, è stato consegnato in due lotti, nel giugno e nel luglio 2023, alla farmacia centrale del Ministero della Salute di Gaza per la sua distribuzione alle tre unità di cura intensiva neonatale degli ospedali Al Shifa (GazaCity), Al Taheer (Kan Younes), Al Nasser (Gaza City).



LETTER TO URSULA VON DER LEYEN Posted in Statements | 8 May 2023


ECCP letter to Ursula von der Leyen concerning the statement issued on the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.

To the attention of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Dear Ms. von der Leyen,

We, a coalition of 42 European organisations, write to express our deep concern and, frankly speaking, our anger, regarding your statement issued on the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.

Your statement ignored the historical fact that the State of Israel was founded on the ethnic cleansing of two thirds of the indigenous Palestinian people between 1947 and 1949. This fact has been well documented by Palestinian and Israeli historians and researchers. Palestinians commemorate this period as the Nakba (‘catastrophe’ in Arabic) that marks the beginning of the process of planned dispossession and expulsion of the majority of the Palestinian people.

More than 500 towns and villages were systematically destroyed and depopulated by massacre and mass expulsion. As a result more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly exiled and became refugees. Many of those refugees and their descendants still languish in impoverished refugee camps, denied their inherent and UN-stipulated right of return after 75 years. This dispossession process, what Palestinians call the “ongoing Nakba” has never ended. It continues today, as Israel continues to occupy and annex Palestinian land, steal resources, demolish homes, schools and hospitals, and arbitrarily arrest, injure and kill Palestinians, including women and children.

By omitting facts and by blindly adopting the narrative of Israel, you erase the history, memory and rich culture of the Indigenous Palestinian people, with their diversity, who have inhabited Palestine for centuries. By endorsing the narrative that “Israel made the desert bloom” you replace history with myth, employing a colonial trope that attempts to ‘greenwash’ Israel’s settler colonial and apartheid regime over the Indigenous Palestinian people. Such ignorance is not expected from the president of the European Commission.

Since the beginning of 2023, the world has again witnessed an increase in Israeli attacks on Palestinians, including military raids carried out by the Israeli military in the West Bank cities of Jenin, Jericho and Nablus. These preceded the pogrom in Huwara and its neighbouring villages and the violent raid on worshippers in the Al Aqsa mosque during the month of Ramadan just three weeks before your statement. Is this the country you praise for its “dynamism” and shared “culture and values”?

It is painful to hear you praise “the 75 years of dynamism, ingenuity, and ground-breaking innovations” of a state that imposes a repressive, racist, and brutally violent settler-colonial policy on a population that it subjugates and controls. Israel’s regime of control over the Palestinian people is increasingly recognised as constituting apartheid by major human rights organisations, including Israeli human rights organisations. True, Israel has developed “a dynamic, ingenious and ground-breaking” technology in the field of military, cyber warfare, spyware, disinformation and election rigging by using the captive Palestinians under its control as test objects. Israel is one of the world’s leading exporters of these destructive high-tech products, with its military and “security” exports enabling dictatorships and authoritarian regimes worldwide to perpetrate grave human rights violations.

Your racist statement not only betrays historical facts and reality on the ground, but also directly contradicts internationally accepted principles and norms and the very values on which the EU is based. By ignoring the existence of the Palestinian people who have lived under decades of Israeli oppression or enforced exile, you ignore their right to self-determination, an inalienable right enshrined in the UN charter.

In December 2022 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to commemorate the Palestinian Nakba. This historic resolution, although shamefully only supported by two EU member states, acknowledges the 75 years of injustice inflicted upon Palestinian people. As the president of the European Commission, an institution that claims to uphold international law and the authority of the UN, you cannot sideline the decisions of the UN General Assembly.

On May 9th the EU will celebrate Europe Day, which Palestinians are boycotting this year because of your statement. We sincerely hope that this celebration may be in the spirit of recognising, and repenting for, the past racist and colonial history of EU countries, and that Europe Day will celebrate the UN charter which ensued from this history. That would obviously imply that the EU would stop paying service in words and in deeds to the values and policies of Israel, which itself rejects in words and in deeds the common UN charter.

Palestinian civil society organisations, as well as the Palestinian Authority, have vehemently denounced your statement. Amnesty International has also criticised the statement, and urged you to recognise that Israel is committing the crime against humanity of apartheid. We, in the European civil society, wholeheartedly echo them.

We demand that you retract your statement, and issue an apology to the Palestinian people for publicly erasing their culture, history and civilisation, as well as turning a blind eye to the violations currently being committed against their inalienable rights.

We demand that the EU publicly recognises that Israel is committing the Crime of Apartheid, and that EU institutions act to immediately end all complicity in the commission of this crime. We also kindly request that you answer this letter.


Pubblicato /Dichiarazioni | 8 maggio 2023

Lettera dell’ECCP a Ursula von der Leyen in merito alla dichiarazione rilasciata in occasione del 75° anniversario della fondazione dello Stato di Israele.

All’attenzione di: Ursula von der Leyen, Presidente della Commissione Europea

Gentile signora von der Leyen,

Noi, una coalizione di 42 organizzazioni europee, scriviamo per esprimere la nostra profonda preoccupazione e, francamente, la nostra rabbia, in merito alla sua dichiarazione rilasciata in occasione del 75° anniversario della fondazione dello Stato di Israele.

La sua dichiarazione ha ignorato il fatto storico che lo Stato di Israele è stato fondato sulla pulizia etnica di due terzi del popolo palestinese indigeno tra il 1947 e il 1949. Questo fatto è stato ben documentato da storici e ricercatori palestinesi e israeliani. I palestinesi commemorano questo periodo come la Nakba (“catastrofe” in arabo) che segna l’inizio del processo di espropriazione pianificata ed di espulsione della maggioranza del popolo palestinese.

Più di 500 città e villaggi furono allora sistematicamente distrutti e spopolati con massacri ed espulsioni di massa. Di conseguenza più di 750.000 palestinesi furono esiliati con la forza e divennero profughi. Molti di quei rifugiati e dei loro discendenti languono ancora in campi profughi impoveriti, e gli è stato negato il diritto al ritorno un diritto intrinseco e sancito dalle Nazioni Unite dopo 75 anni. Questo processo di spoliazione, quello che i palestinesi chiamano la “Nakba in corso”, non è mai terminato. Continua oggi, mentre Israele continua ad occupare e annettere terra palestinese, rubare risorse, demolire case, scuole e ospedali e arrestare, ferire e uccidere arbitrariamente palestinesi, comprese donne e bambini.

Omettendo i fatti storici e adottando ciecamente la narrazione di Israele, lei cancella la storia, la memoria e la ricca cultura del popolo indigeno palestinese, con la sua diversità, e che ha abitato la Palestina per secoli. Sostenendo la narrazione secondo cui “Israele ha fatto fiorire il deserto”, sostituisci la storia con il mito, impiegando un tropo coloniale che tenta di “rinverdire” il regime coloniale e di apartheid dei coloni israeliani sul popolo indigeno palestinese. Non ci si aspetta una tale ignoranza dal presidente della Commissione europea.

Dall’inizio del 2023, il mondo ha nuovamente assistito a un aumento degli attacchi israeliani contro i palestinesi, compresi i raid militari effettuati dall’esercito israeliano nelle città della Cisgiordania di Jenin, Gerico e Nablus. Questi hanno preceduto e seguito il pogrom a Huwara e nei villaggi vicini e il violento raid contro i fedeli nella moschea di Al Aqsa durante il mese di Ramadan, avvenuto appena tre settimane prima della sua dichiarazione. È questo il Paese che lei loda per il suo “dinamismo” e per la sua “cultura e per valori” condivisi?

È doloroso sentirla elogiare “i 75 anni di dinamismo, ingegnosità e innovazioni pionieristiche” di uno stato che impone una politica coloniale repressiva, razzista e brutalmente violenta su una popolazione che soggioga e controlla. Il regime di controllo di Israele sul popolo palestinese è sempre più riconosciuto come costitutivo dell’esercizio di apartheid da parte delle principali organizzazioni per i diritti umani, comprese le organizzazioni israeliane per i diritti umani. È vero, Israele ha sviluppato una tecnologia “dinamica, ingegnosa e rivoluzionaria” nel campo dell’esercito, della guerra informatica, dello spyware, della disinformazione e dei brogli elettorali usando i palestinesi prigionieri sotto il suo controllo come cavie. Israele è uno dei principali esportatori mondiali di distruttivi prodotti ad alta tecnologia, con le sue esportazioni militari e di “sicurezza” che consentono a dittature e regimi autoritari in tutto il mondo di perpetrare a loro volta gravi violazioni dei diritti umani.

La sua dichiarazione razzista non solo tradisce i fatti storici e la realtà sul campo, ma contraddice anche direttamente i principi e le norme accettate a livello internazionale e gli stessi valori su cui si basa l’UE. Ignorando l’esistenza del popolo palestinese che ha vissuto decenni di oppressione israeliana o di esilio forzato, si ignora il suo diritto all’autodeterminazione, un diritto inalienabile sancito dalla Carta delle Nazioni Unite.

Nel dicembre 2022 l’Assemblea generale delle Nazioni Unite ha adottato una risoluzione per commemorare la Nakba palestinese. Questa storica risoluzione, sebbene vergognosamente solo due Stati membri dell’UE la abbiano sostenuta, riconosce i 75 anni di ingiustizia inflitta al popolo palestinese. In qualità di presidente della Commissione europea, un’istituzione che afferma di sostenere il diritto internazionale e l’autorità delle Nazioni Unite, non può certo mettere da parte le decisioni dell’Assemblea generale delle Nazioni Unite.

Il 9 maggio l’UE celebrerà la Giornata dell’Europa, che quest’anno i palestinesi stanno boicottando proprio a causa della sua dichiarazione. Ci auguriamo sinceramente che questa celebrazione possa essere nello spirito del riconoscimento e del pentimento per la passata storia razzista e coloniale dei paesi dell’UE e che la Giornata dell’Europa celebri la Carta delle Nazioni Unite che è derivata per superare da questa storia. Ciò implicherebbe ovviamente che l’UE smettesse di servire con parole e fatti i valori e le politiche di Israele, che a sua volta rifiuta a parole e con i fatti la carta comune delle Nazioni Unite.

Le organizzazioni della società civile palestinese, così come l’Autorità palestinese, hanno denunciato con veemenza la sua dichiarazione. Anche Amnesty International ha criticato la dichiarazione e vi ha esortato a riconoscere che Israele sta commettendo il crimine contro l’umanità dell’apartheid. Noi, nella società civile europea, facciamo eco con tutto il cuore.

Le chiediamo di ritirare la sua dichiarazione e di scusarsi con il popolo palestinese per aver pubblicamente cancellato la sua cultura, storia e civiltà, oltre a chiudere un occhio sulle violazioni attualmente commesse contro i suoi diritti inalienabili.

Chiediamo che l’UE riconosca pubblicamente che Israele sta commettendo il crimine di apartheid e che le istituzioni dell’UE agiscano per porre immediatamente fine a ogni complicità nella commissione di questo crimine.

BIP News #256: Francesca Albanese under fire A coordinated defamation campaign against the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine

Two Israeli ministries are coordinating a smear campaign against the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Francesca Albanese. The personal attacks are based on lies aimed at removing her from office.
Israeli “Hasbara” organizations discredit the role of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. Hasbara is the Israeli propaganda campaign (see BIP Update #174). The Office of the Special Rapporteur was created by the United Nations to monitor and document human rights violations committed by Israel against Palestinians. The office, which is honorary, was held by Michael Lynk from 2016 to 2022 and is currently held by Francesca Albanese.
Albanese states that the State of Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. Israel, she says, is a settler colonial state that has yet to be held accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Albanese, like her predecessors, has faced fierce opposition since taking office in May 2022. In December, the Israeli government’s Hasbara platform, ACT-IL, stepped up the attack on her when it launched a campaign discriminating against Albanese, calling for her removal from office; a similar petition on followed.
Earlier this month, the campaign escalated into a shitstorm of simultaneously published inflammatory articles and tweets. The recently reopened Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs (source in Hebrew) funds NGOs to indirectly spread Israeli narratives without any apparent Israeli government involvement. So does NGO Monitor, the organization also behind the fabrication of evidence against six Palestinian civil society organizations (see BIP Update #193) as well as the International Legal Forum (ILF).
Several hateful articles accusing Albanese of anti-Semitism were published between April 9 and 12 in the Times of Israel (which amplified the petition against Albanese), World Israel News, the Washington Free Beacon, Jewish News Syndicate, European Jewish Press, The Jerusalem Post, and The Foreign Desk. The articles coincided with a Twitter campaign pressuring UN Secretary General Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk to fire Albanese.
The articles contained outright lies, accused Albanese of anti-Semitism without any evidence, and claimed she had “incited Hamas to violence” for misrepresenting a conference she had attended as one “sponsored by Hamas.” In addition, she had “endorsed anti-Jewish terrorism” because Albanese had affirmed the Palestinians’ right to self-defense.
Carinne Luck, International Director of the Diaspora Alliance, told BIP:
“The relentless campaign by the Israeli government and its supporters to undermine the application of Universal Human Rights and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the name of combating anti-Semitism not only harms Palestinians and Israelis, but also does nothing to protect the rights and security of Jewish people. Conflating anti-Semitism with criticism of Israel in this way only makes it harder to recognize anti-Semitism when it occurs.”
The Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs joined the Ministry of Strategic Affairs on April 14 when Minister Amichai Chikli revealed that the Israeli government is actively involved in the campaign. Chikli is an openly racist politician who voted against his Jamina party under the previous Israeli government after it agreed to form a coalition with an Arab Palestinian party. Because of his racist and anti-democratic views, a large demonstration was organized against Chikli in Berlin, which preempted his attendance at the International Conference on Anti-Semitism. He flew back to Israel without attending the event (source in Hebrew).

Nicola Perugini, associate professor of international relations at the University of Edinburgh, told BIP:
“The attempt to justify the conquest and expropriation of land as an act of self-defense is a recurring feature of settler colonial regimes. Since the 1960 UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonized Countries and Peoples, the international community has agreed that colonialism must be ended and that colonized peoples have a right to resist. How can one defend what must be ended?”

Sid Shniad, founding member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada, told BIP:
“The late Knesset member Shulamit Aloni explained that supporters of Israel often respond to criticism of Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians by claiming that those who voice such criticism are engaging in anti-Semitism. The most recent use of this tactic is evident in the current campaign against Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ms. Albanese is in good company, considering that several previous rapporteurs, as well as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have been subjected to the same smear campaign.”
Francesca Albanese is the first woman to serve as Special Rapporteur on Palestine. Her male predecessors, Richard Falk, John Dugaard, and the aforementioned Michael Lynk, were also sharply attacked by Israeli officials and pro-Israel groups – to that extent, this targeted and forceful attempt against Francesaca Albanese is a continuation of Israel’s previous strategy.
The attack on Albanese cannot be viewed in isolation from the misogyny prevalent in the Israeli far-right government. This is expressed in the low number of female ministers, in the government’s crackdown on women’s rights, which has alarmed feminist groups, and in the appointment of May Golan, a far-right activist who has publicly expressed his desire for leftist women to be “raped by ni***ers” (source in Hebrew).
The current hate campaign against Francesca Albanese coincides with the month of Ramadan, which is holy for Muslims, during which Israeli forces attacked worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, desecrating the mosque and violating Muslims’ religious freedom. Instead of responding to Special Rapporteur Albanese’s legitimate criticisms, the Israeli government is now trying to reframe tensions with Palestinians into a religious conflict and denounce as anti-Semites anyone who advocates for Palestinian rights.

Francesca Albanese told BIP:
“This is neither the first nor the last time that my mandate and my person will be attacked. An apartheid regime, as confirmed by the international legal framework, can persecute those individuals and organizations that oppose it. I must remain focused on my work and the millions of people oppressed or affected by the occupation, as well as the many who are threatened around the world for denouncing it.”