Budrus [is] a documentary by Julia Bacha that examines one West Bank town’s reaction to Israel’s construction of the security barrier. The town, with a population of 1,500, was set to be divided and encircled by the barrier, losing 300 acres of land and 3,000 olive trees. These trees were not only critical for economic survival but also sacred to the town’s intergenerational history. The film tells the story of Ayed Morrar, a Palestinian whose work for Fatah had led to five detentions in Israeli jails, but whose momentous strategic decision that the barrier would be best opposed by nonviolent resistance had far-reaching ramifications
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A Day in Pompeii, a Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, was held at Melbourne Museum from 26 June to 25 October 2009. Over 330,000 people visited the exhibition — an average of more than 2,700 per day — making it the most popular travelling exhibition ever staged by an Australian museum.
Zeroone created the animation for an immersive 3D theatre installation which gave visitors a chance to feel the same drama and terror of the town’s citizens long ago, and witness how a series of eruptions wiped out Pompeii over 48 hours.
Israeli institutions seek to obtain the benefits of the international legal order while refusing to accept the corresponding burdens and obligations.
By Gerard Horton
For some time now the Israeli army’s Military Courts’ Unit has distributed a five-page briefing paper to foreign delegations visiting military courts in the West Bank. The briefing paper is intended to persuade the reader that the military courts — which have been used to prosecute approximately 755,000 Palestinian men, women and children since 1967 — were established, and are currently operating, in accordance with international law. The document commences with the following statement:
The Military Courts in Judea and Samaria (hereinafter: ‘The Military Courts’) were established in accordance with international law, and have jurisdiction to hear ordinary criminal cases and cases involving security offenses.
This statement is significant because the only provision of international law that authorizes the prosecution of civilians in military courts is the Fourth Geneva Convention (the Convention). Under Article 64 of the Convention the penal laws of the occupied territory should remain in force, but may be temporarily suspended and replaced with military law in cases of security or in order to facilitate the application of the Convention.
In circumstances where military law has been imposed, Article 66 of the Convention provides that persons accused of violating the temporary measures can be prosecuted in “properly constituted, non-political military courts.” These are the legal provisions the Military Courts Unit is referring to when it asserts that Israeli military courts “were established in accordance with international law.”
However, in circumstances that can only serve to undermine the rule of law, the political, military and judicial authorities in Israel refuse to apply the same Convention, for example, in relation to settlement construction or the transfer of Palestinian detainees to prisons inside Israel.
Article 49 of the Convention provides that Israel is not permitted to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, thus making all settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank illegal – a conclusion confirmed by the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice.
Article 76 of the Convention prohibits the transfer and detention of Palestinian detainees outside occupied territory – a legal conclusion confirmed by the U.K.’s Foreign Office and senior government ministers. Be that as it may, approximately 90 percent of Palestinian prisoners continue to be transferred and detained inside Israel.
This gives rise to the untenable situation whereby Israeli institutions seek to obtain the benefits of the international legal order while refusing to accept the corresponding burdens and obligations. It may be that this inconsistency is of little concern in the region today, but no one should later express surprise if one day Israel finds that it has stumbled into pariah status.
Gerard Horton is a lawyer and co-founder of Military Court Watch. Gerard has worked on the issue of children prosecuted in the Israeli military courts for the past seven years and is the author of a number of leading reports on the subject.
Whatever the hearts-and-minds rhetoric at the United Nations, in Syria the Obama administration is feeding the flames of Sunni extremism, and proving once again the truism that the American state is an enemy of the Syrian people (as it’s an enemy, like all states, of all peoples, including the American).
We expected strikes on ISIS. Some of the strongest strikes (and the strikes are far stronger than in Iraq), however, have been aimed at Jabhat al-Nusra (the Victory Front), the organisation from which ISIS split. Nusra is certainly an extremist Salafist group, and is openly linked to al-Qa’ida. Because its ideology terrifies not only minorities but also huge swathes of the Sunni population, it’s also a strategic obstruction in the way of the Syrian revolution. In August 2013 it participated (with ISIS) in the only documented large-scale massacre of Alawi civilians in the conflict. On the other hand, Nusra (unlike…
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By LEONARD S. RUBENSTEIN and M. ZAHER SAHLOULNOV. 19, 2014
Aleppo, Syria, Nov. 6. CreditFadi Al-Halabi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image
“Working in a field hospital is like death,” a surgeon told us two weeks ago in Turkey, where more than two dozen Syrian doctors and other health workers had come for training. As if treating victims of the Syrian Army’s weapon of choice, the barrel bomb, wasn’t enough, they themselves were often victims of those same terrible devices.
International law is supposed to protect health workers treating anyone who is sick or wounded. Not in Syria: There, along with bakeries and schools, one of the most dangerous places to be is in a hospital or an ambulance. According to Physicians for Human Rights, more than 560 medical personnel have been killed and 155 medical facilities have been attacked since the conflict began, though based on our interviews these numbers are understated.
From the start of the war, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has attacked civilians and obstructed humanitarian relief, including vaccinations for children. It has cut off electricity and clean water to areas controlled by the opposition, punished health workers treating protesters and opposition fighters, and deployed chemical weapons against defenseless fellow Syrians.
But things have gotten worse over the past year. The Assad regime has descended to an unprecedented level of barbarism, escalating its use of air power against enormous numbers of civilians. The number of injured, according to the World Health Organization, has risen to 25,000 people per month.
The centerpiece of the new strategy has been the barrel bomb, an oil drum filled with explosives, bolts, hardware and scrap metal, usually dropped from a helicopter. The bombs explode with terrific force and breadth, amputating limbs and driving shrapnel throughout the body. One doctor we interviewed was still horrified by the indelible image of a mother and daughter whose bodies were blown apart while their hands remained clasped together.
In response to such barbarism, and in defiance of the new strategy, local doctors, supported by a few daring nongovernmental organizations, have set up field hospitals in factories, farms, houses, cultural centers, caves and even chicken coops to provide surgery and other care to the injured. Humanitarian organizations are providing supplies and supporting salaries.
The regime has in turn embarked on a brutal campaign to destroy the hospitals and kill their medical staffs. It is using those same barrel bombs and missiles against field hospitals and dozens of other medical outposts, as well as ambulances, in order to deter people from seeking care. On some occasions, when rescue crews arrive at the scene of an attack on a crowded location like a bakery or school, more barrel bombs are dropped to maximize the carnage.
When the conflict began, the regime decreed that medical care to any area controlled by the opposition, which included demonstrators as well as armed opponents, was a criminal offense — a position that violated the Geneva Conventions’ declaration that medical personnel and facilities are off-limits. Of the 25 medical staff members we interviewed, six had been arrested and jailed for allegedly providing such care. Now the regime is targeting anyone giving medical care in opposition-run areas.
The attacks have driven most physicians out of Syria. In Aleppo, the largest city in the country, only 13 surgeons remain. And despite efforts of humanitarian groups to supply them with essential supplies and equipment, medical personnel must cope with severe shortages.
Doctors and nurses also suffer profoundly, strained by long working days, the horror of the injuries, the impossibly difficult triage decisions forced by lack of resources, and constant danger. One doctor told us that if everyone survived a barrel bombing they did the Dabke, an Arabic dance, in celebration.
When we asked the doctors what kind of support they needed, though, they didn’t cite the need for more staff, equipment, rest or psychological support. They asked for one thing: Stop the bombs from raining down so they can treat their patients without fear of death.
The United States has the capacity to do that. It can impose a humanitarian buffer zone in northern and southern Syria to allow health care workers to save lives, children to get vaccinated and go to school, refugees to resettle, and relief organizations to do their work. A buffer zone would be enforced by a no-fly zone that would protect the hospitals and civilian areas from aerial attacks.
The Obama administration made a great moral and political case for saving the Yazidi people in Iraq and other minorities threatened by the Islamic State, and mobilized an international coalition to do so. How can it now ignore the carnage being inflicted on a far larger group of people in the same region, including caregivers who seek to attend to the complex injuries they have suffered?
The brutality of the Assad regime’s tactics at least equals that of the Islamic State. Aleppo itself may soon be under complete siege by regime forces. The Obama administration must affirm America’s leadership role and act to save people under such relentless attack. When work in a field hospital becomes like death, it is difficult to imagine how life has any chance at all.
Leonard S. Rubenstein is the director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and member of the core faculty at the Berman Institute of Bioethics, both at Johns Hopkins University. M. Zaher Sahloul is a critical care specialist in Chicago and the president of the Syrian American Medical Society.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on November 20, 2014, on page A29 of the New York edition with the headline: In Syria, Doctors Are the Next Victims.
I’ve been plunged into despair but I’ve been healed by looking around and seeing what we do for each other to bring each other back up from the depths.” Neil Gaiman
“We watch the news about Syria and the situation is bleak. In May when I travelled to Jordan with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and visited Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps with fashion designer Georgina Chapman and her husband, film producer, Harvey Weinstein, the scale of the refugee situation was extraordinary to us. Conflict was forcing innocent people in love with their country to abandon their homes and bleed, in their thousands, across its borders. How are they able to cope with losing everything? How are the neighbouring countries expected to cope with the flood of human beings overwhelming their infrastructure and their already scarce resources?
6 months on and the numbers of refugees and internally displaced have climbed, not inch by inch, but in dizzying numbers: over 6.4 million people displaced inside Syria, over 3 million refugees outside Syria. Spirits have been broken, homes wrecked, lives destroyed, and a generation of children traumatized.
But somehow, still, in amongst the horror and the nightmares, there are still many small and glorious stories of survival and hope, resilience and dignity. I have already shared many of them with you, but there are more to tell. I’m sharing them in order to build a connection between the people I have met – Ayman, Ibrahim, Um Murad and the rest – and with you. Yes, you. I’m asking, on their behalf and UNHCR’s, for help, because if you could have the conversations that we had, if only you could sit and speak to the refugees, face to face, you would see that we really are the same, that we really are part of one family. And, at its best, a family does all it can to support each other.” – Neil Gaiman
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Original piano music was composed & recorded for this film by Amanda Palmer.
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