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International News: December 1

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Issue: 11 Section: International News Israel, Iraq Topics: UN, Iraq war, AIDS

December 1, 2003

International News: December 1

Israeli Attacks Leaving Thousands Homeless: UN

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The remains of the former homes of the extended family of a suicide bomber. photo: Valerie Zink/FromOccupiedPalestine.org
According to UN observers, a recent Israeli attack in Gaza left 200 homes demolished and over 2,000 people homeless. The demolitions, which occur with little warning, were a part of "Operation Root Canal", an Israeli effort to destroy tunnels that Palestinian fighters use to smuggle weapons into the Occupied Territories.

"It's a sad factor that the people of Rafah, the innocent civilians who live there, have to pay the heavy price for the mobsters and gangsters who operate these tunnels," said Sharon Feingold, the Israeli general in charge of the operation. Israeli forces has recently used military-grade bulldozers and rockets to demolish the homes of the extended families of suicide bombers, or those suspected of housing Palestinian fighters. (Jordan Times, Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

    » Jordan Times: Israeli plan aims to settle bedouins in towns, demolish scattered desert villages

    » ABC: Israeli raids leaving thousands homeless: UN

Bombing Iraq, Building Fences, Demolishing Homes

Amnesty International stated that the United States appears to be destroying the houses of those associated with guerilla attackers as a form of "collective punishment". The Pentagon said that "the idea that this is some type of collective punishment is just absolutely without merit." Amnesty pointed to one report of a family being forced to evacuate a house with five minutes notice before the structure was razed by tank and attack helicopter fire. In other instances, houses have been obliterated by 500 pound bombs dropped from F-16 fighters, attacks Amnesty has suggested were solely for retribution. Under the Geneva Convention, destruction of "real or personal property" is "prohibited" unless it is "rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."

Occupying forces have surrounded the Iraqi village of Auja, Saddam Hussein's birthplace, with a fence topped with concertina wire. Residents of Auja have been issued identification cards, and must pass a US security checkpoint to enter or leave the village. (Agence France-Presse, Al-Jazeera)

Casualties to date: 22,000 Iraqis, 10,000 Americans

A recent report by medical charity Medact estimates that the total number of Iraqis killed as a direct result of the war is between 22,000 and 55,000 people. The report, entitled "Continuing Collateral Damage: the health and environmental costs of war on Iraq", also highlighted the long term health effects of the war, including a health crisis that is disproportionately affecting the young, women, and the poor. Ongoing crises in Iraq include a sharp increase in malnutrition, high maternal mortality, and a continued increase of water-borne diseases.

Recent figures from the Pentagon show that 9,675 US soldiers have been killed, wounded, injured, or evacuated for other reasons. "We really think there's an effort to hide the true cost in life, limb and the mental health of our soldiers," said Nancy Lessin of the anti-war group Military Families Speak Out. "There's a larger picture here of really trying to hide and obfuscate what's going on, and the wounded and injured are part of it." Other commentators have noted that George W. Bush has yet to attend a funeral of US troops killed in Iraq. (BBC, Orlando Sentinel)

    » BBC: Iraq 'faces severe health crisis'

    » Orlando Sentinel: Toll on U.S. troops in Iraq grows as wounded rolls approach 10,000

Starvation, AIDS on the Rise: UN Reports

Over 800 million people worldwide are not getting enough to eat, according to a recent report released by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Association (FAO). Though the number of starving people decreased by 37 million in the early 1990s, numbers have increased by 18 million in recent years. FAO director Jacques Diouf said that starvation "goes unnoticed unless the world's compassion is momentarily captured by war or natural disaster." "The problem is not so much the lack of food but the absence of a real political will," he added.

UNAIDS, the UN agency responsible for fighting Acquired Immune Deficiency Virus (AIDS), reported that the number of people infected with AIDS worldwide grew by 5 million in 2003. The report estimates that between 34 million and 46 million people are living with the virus, 26 million of them Africans. 3 million people died from AIDS in 2003, the report said. (AP)

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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