President Obama has announced his full support for Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip even as dozens of Palestinians, including many civilians, continue to be killed by U.S.-supplied weaponry. At least 37 people have been killed in Gaza since Sunday, including at least 20 civilians. In the deadliest attack to date, 12 civilians, most of them members of the same family, died on Sunday when an Israeli warplane bombed their home in Gaza City. The victims included four small children and five women, one of them the children’s mother. Overall, at least 95 Palestinians have been killed — half of them believed to be civilians — since Israel began its assault last week. The number of Palestinians wounded nearly doubled on Sunday to 660 as Israel carried out its deadliest day of bombings to date. But as the Israeli attack escalated, President Obama gave his full backing while on a visit to Thailand.
President Obama: “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself from missiles landing on people’s homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.”
The Palestinian death toll is believed to include at least 20 children, including seven killed on Sunday. Speaking at a hospital in Gaza, a young Palestinian child issued a plea to the world for help.
Nawal Azard: “To the world and [its] people: Why should we be killed, and why shouldn’t we have a normal childhood? What did we do to face all this?”
In addition to attacking civilian homes, Israel has also targeted Palestinian media. On Sunday, six Palestinian journalists were wounded when Israeli missiles slammed into the Gaza offices of the Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, and the Lebanon-based Al Quds TV. A number of international media outlets, including Fox News, CBS and Sky News, have used studios in the targeted buildings. One of the victims lost his leg. Reporters Without Borders has condemned the attacks as “war crimes.” At a protest in the West Bank, a Palestinian government spokesperson denounced the targeting of journalists.
Nour Odeh: “There are more than 300 Israeli attacks registered against the Palestinian journalists. We lost more than 20 colleagues in past years because of the Israeli occupation. Today the message (from the Israeli strike) is clear against the freedom of journalism and opinions.”
As Israel’s assault continues, Palestinian rocket firings dropped to around 75 on Sunday, after a two-day average of 230 rockets. Three Israelis have been killed and around 80 wounded by Palestinian rocket fire so far. According to Israeli government statistics, Israel has carried out more than 1,350 attacks since launching the offensive last week. More than 540 Palestinian rockets have fallen inside Israel, all but 35 in open areas. Egyptian officials have been holding separate talks for a ceasefire with Palestinian and Israeli representatives in Cairo, but a deal is not expected at least for several days. Israel has even called up reservist troops as it prepares for a potential ground invasion of Gaza.
Protests were held around the world over the weekend in opposition to the Israeli assault on Gaza, including one that saw hundreds rally in the Tel Aviv.
Leah Roshad: “I am here in order to protest the attack of Gaza that was clearly planned from months long, but at the same time was timed this way in order to serve as an election spin and to distract the public discourse from issues of social justice, from issues of economy.”
With the United States fully backing the Israeli attack, dozens of people also rallied in front of the White House to urge President Obama to stop the assault.
Shawn Traish: “They’re occupying. They’re killing innocent people. It’s a terrorist state, and it’s not fair to the Palestinian people. So the United States should make Israel abide by the U.N. resolutions. They don’t abide by the resolutions.”
President Obama has visited Burma, the first time a sitting U.S. president has done so in history. Earlier today, Obama met with President Thein Sein and visited the home of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, before delivering a speech in the capital Rangoon. The trip marked a major new milestone in the Obama administration’s easing of sanctions on the ruling Burmese junta.
Thousands of people rallied outside the White House on Sunday calling on President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. The Keystone XL would carry crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands to the Gulf Coast, a project opponents say would produce lethal levels of carbon emissions while endangering communities along its path. Obama now faces a decision on the pipeline’s approval after delaying it until after the 2012 election. The group 350.org, as well as other environmental organizations, say the rally marked the first in a series of actions that will culminate in another major protest against the Keystone XL on President’s Day, February 18, 2013.
At least one person has been killed and another is feared dead after a massive fire erupted Friday on an oil platform in the Gulf Coast. Another four workers have been hospitalized, two in critical condition. The rig’s operator, Black Elk Energy, says only a small amount of oil was spilled as a result of the blast. It came just one day after the oil giant BP agreed to pay a $4.5 billion fine for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 people and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
President Obama spoke with a number of corporate executives over the weekend in his ongoing bid to shore up support for tackling the so-called fiscal cliff of tax cuts and spending hikes set to kick in at the end of the year. The White House says Obama consulted with top business leaders, including JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, investor Warren Buffett, and the heads of Apple, Boeing and Costco. The discussions followed the first day of talks with congressional leaders on Friday. Both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sounded a positive note after Friday’s meeting.
House Speaker John Boehner: “We’ve put revenue on the table, as long as it’s accompanied by significant spending cuts. And while we’re going to continue to have revenue on the table, it’s going to be incumbent for my colleagues to show the American people that we’re serious about cutting spending and solving our fiscal dilemma.”
Senator Harry Reid: “We’re both going to have to give up some of the things that we know are a problem, and so it’s like when we arrive at a point where we all know something has to be done. There is no more ’let’s do it some other time.’ We’re going to do it now. And I think there’s — we feel very comfortable with each other.”
A Bosnian-born U.S. citizen has been sentenced to life in prison for planning a suicide bombing on the New York City subway system on behalf of al-Qaeda. Adis Medunjanin was allegedly days from carrying out the plot before he was detained in 2009. Medunjanin’s co-conspirator is an Afghan national who has said he wanted to seek revenge for civilian deaths in his home country.
More than 2,000 protesters marched outside Fort Benning in Georgia over the weekend calling for the closing of a controversial military training base there. Formerly known as the School of the Americas, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation has been used to train Latin American soldiers in combat, counterinsurgency and counter-narcotics. Dubbed by organizers as “the largest annual anti-militarization gathering in North America,” the three-day protest culminated Sunday in a “die-in” and funeral procession to remember the victims killed by U.S.-trained military forces.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the killing of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., an African-American Marine veteran in White Plains, New York, shot dead by police in his own home. On November 19, 2011, White Plains police officer Anthony Carelli shot Chamberlain inside his apartment after police responded to a false alarm from Chamberlain’s medical alert pendant. Despite Chamberlain’s insistence he was alright, police broke down his door, tasered him and shot him dead. One officer was heard on a recording calling Chamberlain a racial slur. The Chamberlain family has filed a wrongful death suit against a number of defendants, including the city of White Plains and Officer Carelli. On Saturday, Chamberlain’s relatives joined with the NAACP and other supporters for a march on the White Plains Police Department demanding justice in the case.