“Cablegate” to Date: A Unique List of What’s Been Revealed
By Greg Mitchell
from the Huffington Post
Many critics of WikiLeaks still, somehow, claim that there’s “nothing new” in the Cablegate releases (now stretching back to November 28), that most of the issues raised raised by the cables are old hat, and the impact (as in Tunisia, for example) overhyped. So it seems useful here, for the first time in easy to consider format, to assemble most of the major revelations. This seems especially valuable because the reporting is now scattered around the globe, often emerging from smaller papers.
At the outset, the cables were published by the media partners, not WikiLeaks itself. The New York Times made good on its promise to cover them hot and heavy for about ten days, while the Guardian did all that and more. But Times coverage quickly grew sporadic, the Guardian fell out with Assange (he has now turned to the Telegraph), while the Norwegian daily Aftenposten picked up some of the slack.
Here are brief summaries, listed chronologically, as they appeared. There are even more in my new book The Age of WikiLeaks. Not included are the shocking cables concerning Egypt released on January 27 and other recent bombshells:
-Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda.
-Saudis (and some other Middle Eastern states) pressed U.S. to take stronger action against Iran.
-Yemeni president lied to his own people, claiming his military carried out air strikes on militants actually done by U.S. All part of giving U.S. full rein in country against terrorists.
It was clear from the moment news of the flotilla attack emerged that Israel was taking extreme steps to suppress all evidence about what happened other than its own official version. They detained the flotilla passengers and barred the media from speaking with them, thus, as The NYT put it, “refusing to permit journalists access to witnesses who might contradict Israel’s version of events.” They detained the journalists who were on the ship for days and seized their film, video and cameras. And worst of all, the IDF — while still refusing to disclose the full, unedited, raw footage of the incident — quickly released an extremely edited video of their commandos landing on the ship, which failed even to address, let alone refute, the claim of the passengers: that the Israelis were shooting at the ship before the commandos were on board.
This campaign of suppression and propaganda worked to shape American media coverage (as state propaganda campaigns virtually always work on the gullible, authority-revering American media). The edited IDF video was shown over and over on American television without question or challenge. Israeli officials and Israel-devoted commentators appeared all over television — almost always unaccompanied by any Turkish, Palestinian or Muslim critics of the raid — to spout the Israeli version without opposition. Israel-centric pundits in America claimed, based on the edited IDF video, that anyone was lying who even reported on the statements of the passengers that Israeli fired first. In sum, that the Israelis used force only after the passengers attacked the commandos became Unquestioned Truth in American discourse.
But now that the passengers and journalists have been released from Israeli detention and are speaking out, a much different story is emerging. As I noted yesterday, numerous witnesses and journalists are describing Israeli acts of aggression, including the shooting of live ammunition, before the commandos landed. The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey today commendably compiles that evidence — I recommend it highly — and he writes: “now that the accounts of activists and journalists who were detained by Israel after the raid are starting to be heard, it is clear that their stories and that of the Israeli military do not match in many ways.” As Juan Cole says: “Many passengers have now confirmed that they were fired on even before the commandos had boots on the deck. Presumably it is this suppressive fire that killed or wounded some passengers and which provoked an angry reaction and an attack on the commandos.”
Sunday, February 1, 2009
JERUSALEM: Gaza militants launched two rockets into southern Israel early Sunday, drawing a threat of “disproportionate” military retaliation from Israel’s prime minister and further straining a cease-fire that ended Israel’s devastating Gaza offensive two weeks ago.
There were no casualties from the rockets, though one projectile landed near a kindergarten in a community near Gaza, said a police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld.
The recent Israeli offensive was aimed at halting years of rocket attacks, and the military declared a cease-fire on Jan. 18 after declaring its goals had been achieved.
But on Sunday the rockets, which followed sporadic rocket fire and the killing of an Israeli soldier in a border bombing attack last week, illustrated the difficulties of achieving a complete end to the attacks. Despite years of efforts, Israel’s high-tech military still has not found a solution to stopping the projectiles.
Speaking to his cabinet on Sunday, Israel’s outgoing prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said Israel would respond “when and where we choose.”
The government’s position, Olmert said, is that “if there is shooting at residents of the south, there will be an Israeli response that will be harsh and disproportionate by its nature to the shooting at residents of Israel and at our forces.”
Hamas has not taken responsibility for any of the new attacks, which have been claimed by smaller militant groups. But Israel says it holds Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since seizing power in June 2007, responsible for all attacks emanating from Gaza.
The rocket strikes come just over a week before Israel holds a parliamentary election. Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister and one of the leaders behind the operation, has replaced Olmert as head of the centrist Kadima party and is the only serious challenger to the front-runner, the hard-line Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, according to recent opinion polls.
Netanyahu has been campaigning on a platform that calls for a tough stance against Hamas, and he stands to benefit if Israelis conclude that the offensive failed to achieve its goal of making residents of southern Israel safer.
Since ending the offensive, Israel has conducted retaliatory strikes and pounded tunnels Hamas uses to smuggle in weapons from Egypt. Israeli forces have also shot and killed three men whom Palestinians identified as farmers along the Gaza-Israel border.
One of Israel’s main concerns is that Hamas could continue smuggling weapons into Gaza through tunnels under the Egypt border. Israel is pushing Egypt to do more to crack down on the flow of weapons, and internationally backed anti-smuggling efforts are at the center of attempts to win a lasting cease-fire in Gaza.
Gaza is still struggling to recover from the punishing three-week offensive, which left swaths of the territory damaged and nearly 1,300 people dead, more than half of them civilians, according to Gaza officials. Thirteen Israelis were killed, including three civilians.
Hamas officials in Cairo were set to meet with Egyptian mediators on Sunday. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, will meet Egyptian officials in Cairo on Monday. The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said that a visit by Abbas to the Czech Republic planned for Monday would have to be rescheduled.
It has never been like this before. The assault is coming from the sky, the sea and the ground. The explosion of shells, the gunfire from the tanks and the missiles from planes and helicopters are incessant. The sky is laced with smoke, grey here, black there, as the array of weaponry leaves its distinctive trail.
Most Gazans can only cower in terror in whatever shelter they can find and guess at the cost exacted by each explosion as the toll for those on the receiving end rises remorselessly.
As Israeli forces carved up the Gaza Strip yesterday, dividing the territory in two , the UN warned of a “catastrophe unfolding” for a “trapped, traumatised, terrorised” population.
Among the terrorised was Mahmoud Jaro. He was sheltering with his wife and four young children in his home in Beit Lahiya, on the eastern side of the Gaza Strip, within sight of the Israeli border, when he heard the first tank engines in the early hours of Sunday.
He grabbed his children, the youngest only three, and fled. “I couldn’t see anything. The area was dark,” he said. “They cut off the electricity. We were moving in the pitch dark.
“There were shells, rockets everywhere. I was just trying to protect my children. They were very scared and afraid. My youngest son was crying all the time.” Eventually the family made it across Beit Lahiya to his in-laws’ house in a relatively safer part of the town.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what the Israelis want. This time it’s from the air, the sea, the ground at the same time. I’ve never experienced it like this,” he said.
The Israeli army warned others who had stayed in their homes to get out.
It seized control of Palestinian radio frequencies, jamming Hamas and Islamic Jihad stations, and broadcast a warning in Arabic telling people to move towards the centre of Gaza City for their own safety.
Others did not escape the assault. The wounded and dead piled up at Gaza’s Shifa hospital yesterday.
Eric Fosse, a Norwegian doctor there, said Hamas fighters were a small minority of the casualties brought in. “This hospital has been filled up with patients,” he added. This morning they [Israeli forces] bombed the fruit market. There were a large number of casualties.
“We became like a field hospital. There were two patients at a time in the operating rooms and we were operating on other people in the corridors. Some were dying before we could get to them.”
Moawya Hasanian, the head of Shifa’s emergency and ambulance department, said the hospital had taken in 33 dead and 137 wounded by lunchtime on Sunday.
Among those killed was a paramedic after his ambulance was hit by Israeli fire. Three of his colleagues were wounded.
“Only three of the dead are from Hamas, the rest are civilians,” Hasanian said. “There are many children under 18. There are many in critical condition. We are working under pressure. It’s not easy to work with bombs and air strikes everywhere. It’s not easy for ambulances to move.”
Since Israeli ground forces crossed into Gaza on Saturday evening, five people were killed when an Israeli shell hit Gaza city’s main market. Palestinian sources said a single tank shell killed 12 other people in northern Gaza. An air strike killed five people in a mosque as dusk fell.
More than 500 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its operation nine days ago. Hamas has put up a fight, claiming Israeli casualties. The military said one soldier was killed by a mortar and 32 others wounded as they fought for control of areas around Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, close to where Hamas launches its rockets on Israel.
The Israeli military said Hamas fighters were not engaging them in close combat but using mortars and roadside bombs.
Occasionally, through the Israeli attack and Palestinian resistance to it, there came the sound of a Hamas rocket launched into Israel – a reminder that the invading army is going to have to move even deeper into Gaza to achieve its declared aim.
By dusk yesterday, Hamas had fired at least 30 rockets.
John Ging, the head of the UN relief agency in Gaza, described the situation there as “inhuman”.
“We have a catastrophe unfolding in Gaza for the civilian population,” he said. “The people of Gaza City and the north now have no water. That comes on top of having no electricity. They’re trapped, they’re traumatised, they’re terrorised by this situation … The inhumanity of this situation, the lack of action to bring this to an end, is bewildering to them.”
The UN has been particularly angered at the contention of the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Ging also accused Israel of a campaign of destroying public buildings vital to the administration and governance of Gaza. “The whole infrastructure of the future state of Palestine is being destroyed,” he said. “Blowing up the parliament building. That’s the parliament of Palestine. That’s not a Hamas building. The president’s compound is for the president of Palestine.”
While some Israeli forces seized control of areas north and east of Gaza City, tanks and troops also carved their way through the centre of Gaza, taking control of what used to be the Jewish settlement of Netzarim.
Some of the tanks then continued on the short distance to the sea, cutting Gaza in two – a tactic frequently favoured by the Israeli army when it still had military bases in the territory – and making movement between the halves impossible for Palestinians.
Samar Abdel-Rahman lives close to Netzarim and watched the Israelis move back into the settlement. “All night there were bombs, fire, from everywhere,” he said. “All of my family came to my room because its the safest place in the house. We are 13 people living here. Since the Israeli operation started I didn’t leave the house. We’ve had electricity for just a few hours the entire time. We are not even cooking.”
The Israeli military has been accusing Hamas officials of cowardice and abandoning the population by going in to hiding on the seized radio frequencies.
The leadership, including the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, and the Hamas chief, Mahmoud Zahar, have not been seen in public in days following the targeted assassinations of other senior officials by the Israelis.
But Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, denied they were hiding and said the morale of the organisation’s fighters remained high.
Pictures coming out of Gaza by AFP news service show white phosphorous rounds exploding over and setting fires in urban civilian areas. Meanwhile Haaretz has confirmed that cluster munitions are also being used by the IDF but says they’re being used over “open areas”. Gaza is a lot smaller than Rhode Island and cluster bombs have a pattern as big as a football field so your definition of “open areas” may vary from the IDF’s.
The BBC has a slideshow. here’s the third photo.