Salafi Islamists torch HQ of Egypt’s Wafd party

Egypt’s Wafd Party leader was stormed and torched by radical Islamists in Cairo. (Photo courtesy of alwafd.org)

Egypt’s Wafd Party leader was stormed and torched by radical Islamists in Cairo. (Photo courtesy of alwafd.org)

The headquarters of Egypt’s Wafd Party in Cairo was torched on Saturday by supporters of Salafi Islamist politician Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported.

The liberal party’s deputy chairman Fouad Badrawi was injured in the attack, in which the radical Islamist’s supporters managed to break into the party’s building despite heavy security presence.

The violence broke out as Egyptians voted in a referendum on a new constitution intended to pull the country out a growing political crisis.

The Wafd party had pulled out from the Constituent Assembly that drafted a controversial constitution that was put to vote on Saturday.

Supporters of Abu Ismail had targeted media offices and liberal opposition groups accusing them of trying to sabotage constitutional referendum.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri recently urged Abu Ismail to re-launch the Egyptian revolution. “You must meet the request of the Egyptian people for Sharia rule in order to attain dignity and pride,” Zawahiri told Abu Ismail.

On Saturday, in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, a prominent Egyptian preacher who was besieged by protesters opposing the draft constitution revealed that “armed brothers” offered to help break the siege on him by force, but that he asked them to wait until “the orders come.”

(english.alarabiya.net / 15.12.2012)

Hungarian MP detained for burning Israeli flag

Hungarian parliamentarian Balazs Lenhardt burns an Israeli flag during an anti-Zionist protest in the capital Budapest on Friday.

Hungarian parliamentarian Balazs Lenhardt burns an Israeli flag during an anti-Zionist protest in the capital Budapest on Friday.
Hungarian police have briefly arrested a parliamentarian for torching an Israeli flag during an anti-Zionist protest in the capital Budapest.

The incident took place on Friday when dozens of Hungarians held a demonstration near the Foreign Ministry to protest Israeli’s regime’s atrocities against the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Budapest police said lawmaker Balazs Lenhardt was released after being questioned Friday night.

Lenhardt is an independent lawmaker, who was formerly a member of the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party.

In a similar incident in October, Jobbik members burned an Israeli flag in front of a major synagogue in the capital Budapest, calling on the government to cut diplomatic and economic ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

Jobbik leader Gabor Vona denounced Hungary’s cooperation with the Israeli regime and said any “agreement between Hungary and Israel should be canceled.”

Jobbik holds 47 parliamentary seats and has been against Israeli investment in Hungary. It also considers Israeli business as threatening for the country.

(www.presstv.ir / 15.12.2012)

Zionist Federation tribute to UK’s Chief Rabbi to include bomber of Beirut as “special guest”

Eliezer Shkedi and Jonathan Sacks

Former IAF commander Eliezer Shkedi and Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks will be honored at a Zionist Federation-organized event Sunday with a “special guest,” the former Israeli Air Force (IAF) commander who oversaw the devastating attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006.

Eliezer Shkedi, currently the chief executive of Israeli national airline El Al, was the Commander-in-Chief of the IAF between 2004 and 2008, a period that included numerous attacks on both Palestinian and Lebanese civilian population centers. Should Palestine become a member of the International Criminal Court, a future visit to Britain by Shkedi could mean a request for his extradition to The Hague.

In the summer of 2006, Israel attacked Lebanon on a scale that drew widespread condemnation. In one subsequent reportHuman Rights Watch documented how “at the very least, the IDF [Israeli military] has blurred the distinction between civilian and combatant” and “at worst, it considers all people in the area of hostilities open to attack.”Amnesty International condemned what it called “serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including war crimes” by Israeli forces.

Bomber boasted “personal” authorization of attacks on civillians

The 2006 war gave birth to what became known as the Dahiya doctrine, in reference to the neighborhood of Beirut flattened by the IAF – yet Israeli media reported that the military chief of staff and air force had actually “requested permission to damage Lebanese infrastructure more extensively” (my emphasis). Shkedi boasted that he “personally authorized 900 raids outside safety parameters… We have to make crazy decisions everyday…”

Shkedi also oversaw crimes committed in the Gaza Strip. In May 2006, an extra-judicial assassination of Islamic Jihad operative Muhammad Dahdouh carried out by the IAF killeda seven-year-old boy, his mother, and grandmother — and left his three-year-old sister paralyzed. Shkedi justified the strike, saying that the IAF “acted only after waiting a long time for the right occasion” – which apparently meant, in the words of the BBC reporter, “a city center street when it was busy with early evening traffic.”

During 2006, including so-called “Operation Summer Rains,” “some 650 Palestinians, half of them unarmed civilians and including some 120 children, were killed by Israeli forces.” From 28 June to 24 August, Shkedi’s IAF launched at least 267 air strikes on the Gaza Strip. One Israeli F16 fighter jet bombing on 12 July killed nine members of the same family as they slept.

In June 2006, Gideon Levy wrote an op-ed for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, calling for Shkedi’s resignation:

Is it even conceivable that the IDF [Israeli military] would kill 23 civilians (not including the seven members of the Ghalia family), 15 of them by the air force – including three children and a doctor and his pregnant sister in two days – and things would go on as if nothing happened?

Chief Rabbi attacks Palestinian rights

There are many more such examples – but are they of concern to the Chief Rabbi? After all, Lord Sacks has previously claimed that the “accusation” Israel has committed human rights abuses such as “crimes against humanity” is “the only form in which an assault on Jews can be stated today.”

The Chief Rabbi has used his position to attack efforts by other faith communities to support Palestinian rights and challenge Israeli violations of international law. Prior to theChurch of England’s adoption of a motion earlier this year supporting Israeli and Palestinian peace and justice groups – including the well-respected Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel – Lord Sacks claimed that the motion “would do serious damage to Jewish-Christian relations in Britain.”

This was a repeat of his (also unsuccessful) efforts in 2010 to persuade Methodists in Britain not to back a boycott of products produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In August, Lord Sacks even resigned his position as patron of an interfaith charity after its small-circulation newsletter included information about a Palestinian nongovernmental organizations’ call to action (accompanied by a disclaimer that the charity pushes “views from different groups… to stimulate debate”).

Unfortunately then, it is likely that the Chief Rabbi — a man who places a lot of emphasis on interfaith dialogue — won’t have a problem with having his achievements celebrated by the bomber of Beirut. When it comes to Israel, it seems “the ethics of responsibility” have their limits.

(electronicintifada.net / 15.12.2012)

Survey: 40% of Israelis thinking of emigration

 

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A new survey shows more than a third of Israelis want to immigrate to other countries due to economic problems and spiraling cost of living in the occupied territories.

Citing economic opportunities as the main reason, the poll conducted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that “almost 40 percent of Israelis are thinking of emigrating” to other states.

The survey came as the ailing economy of the Israeli regime has taken its toll on politics.

On October 15, Israeli parliamentarians voted to dissolve the Knesset and hold snap elections on January 2013 after the gridlock among different coalition partners over the passage of the 2013 austerity budget.

In recent months, Israelis have held protests against a package of sweeping austerity cuts, which the regime of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says were necessary to reduce the budget deficit and protect the economy.

Netanyahu has formed committees to address the demands of the anti-austerity protesters, but the demonstrators say no single concrete step has been taken.

Netanyahu has also ruled out the idea of spending from outside the budget for economic reforms, a response that Israeli protesters say disillusioned them.

In October, a survey conducted by the Israeli humanitarian aid organization indicated that some 75 percent of Israelis fear that their economy may collapse, which shows a huge increase in the figure compared with that of 2010.

The poll also showed that 78 percent of those surveyed said the Tel Aviv regime has no plans for fighting poverty and bridging the widening social gap.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 15.12.2012)

New evacuation of Bedouins in the northern Jordan Valley

 

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JORDAN VALLEY, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces notified on Saturday the Bedouin communities in Wadi al-Maleh in the northern Jordan Valley to leave their houses and lands.

The head of the Committee for the Defense of the Jordan Valley, Ahmad Asaad, revealed in a press statement that the Israeli occupation authorities have ordered the deportation of the families living in a number of areas in the northern Jordan Valley under the pretext of carrying out military exercises in the region.

He asserted that such procedure aims, in reality, to expel the Palestinian residents as part of the Israeli ethnic cleansing scheme in the region.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 15.12.2012)

Israel plans to replace mines on Jordanian border with… illegal settlements

Israel has officially started the removal of landmines close to the border with Jordan to use the lands for illegal settlement construction in the area, especially in the Wadi Araba area. The plan also includes boosting industry and factories in settlements in the area.

File - Maan News Agency

Israeli sources reported that thousands of Dunams extending from the occupied Golan Heights and Majdal Shams reaching the Dead Sea have been implanted with landmines in 1948 in order to “prevent Arabs and Palestinians fighters from entering Palestine”.

Israel wants to ensure that the Palestinians never have access to the Jordan Valley, and especially the border area with Jordan.

Israeli landmine sweepers and military engineers will be working, and double checking, to ensure all mines are removed in the designated areas so that the constructions can start. Some of the lands will also be used by settlers for agricultural purposes.

The Maan News Agency quoted Palestinian sources stating that Israel realizes now that there is no need for landmines as missiles can cross borders and hit their targets, adding that the Israeli plan “is meant at provoking the Palestinian Authority and Jordan”, in addition to “conducting provocative settlement projects in the Jordan Valley area to control lands and water resources”.

It is worth mentioning that, earlier in September this year, Israel started the removal of nearly 700 landmines from the Jordan valley area, while the Israeli Jerusalem Post reported that “mines, some even 40 years old, will be neutralized through controlled explosions to reduce the number of minefields”.

Back then, Israel said that the mines became nonoperational, and not needed, but can still pose danger to travelers.

The Jordan Valley area is an essential part of the occupied West Bank, known as the Fruit Basket of Palestine, but has been closed off by Israel and isolated from the rest of the occupied territories, leading to millions of dollars in losses to the Palestinian farmers.

Israel has also been targeting the fertile area for its illegal settlement construction and expansion activities, and also for what it dubs as “military considerations”.

(www.imemc.org  / 15.12.2012)

Israel issues demolition orders for Hebron home

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities issued demolition orders for a home in the Hebron town of Yatta on Saturday, a local committee said.

Rateb al-Jabour, spokesman for the local committee against settlements, told Ma’an that officials from the civil administration were escorted into Yatta by soldiers to issue demolition orders for the home of Mahmoud Ibrahim Makhamra.

The Makhamra family received a demolition order for their home six years ago, al-Jabour added, but the order was suspended.

Twelve people live in the house, which is located in Area B of the West Bank.

(www.maannews.net / 15.12.2012)

UAE renews commitment to Palestinian cause

UAE pledges development aid and administrative budget support at UN General Assembly

New York: The UAE has renewed its commitment to provide humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

The pledge came during a speech made on Friday by ambassador Ahmad Al Jarman, UAE Permanent Representative to the UN during the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly during a discussion on strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance and assistance to the Palestinian people.

Al Jarman said the UAE is one of the major contributors to the immediate humanitarian assistance and development projects, as well as to the direct budget of the Palestinian National Authority. “Our contribution in 2011 amounted to $34 million [124.85 million] earmarked to support the government and development projects,” he said.

“The experiences and practices of some countries in responding to humanitarian crises had underscored the importance of building and strengthening national capacities and preparedness to deal with disasters, as a key factor in reducing human losses and achieving quick recovery, as was stated by Hugo framework and reaffirmed in the final document of Rio+20. In this regard, the UAE stresses the necessity of integrating disaster risk-reduction strategies, capacity-building, quick efficient response and recovery, into sustainable development plans of developing countries and the allocation of efficient resources for it,” Al Jarman said.

The UAE envoy also expressed the nation’s grave concern about the deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories resulting from the continued Israeli occupation and the policies of aggression and closure, especially in the Gaza Strip, which is still subjected to the blockade imposed by Israeli occupying forces, and the brutal attacks it has endured lately. “The UAE renews its demand from the international community to compel Israel, the occupying power, to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, immediately and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people, end its occupation of the Arab lands.”

(gulfnews.com / 15.12.2012)

Basic facts on Egypt’s constitution referendum

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptians vote Saturday in a highly contentious referendum on a new constitution to replace the one suspended after the 2011 revolution. Here are some basic facts and figures on the vote.

— There are two rounds of voting — the first on Saturday and the second on Dec. 22. Polls open at 8:00 am and close at 7:00 pm local time.

— The ballot paper has two options: “agree” or “don’t agree.”

— More than 26 million people in 10 of Egypt’s 27 provinces are eligible to vote. Saturday’s voting includes Egypt’s most populated cities, Cairo and Alexandria, which together account for nearly nine million voters. Also voting will be Nile Delta provinces in which both Islamists — who have urged the passage of the referendum — and former backers of Mubarak’s toppled regime — likely to oppose it, along with liberals, secularists, Christians, and others — have support networks.

— More than 25 million Egyptians in the remaining 17 other provinces, including Cairo’s twin city of Giza and provinces in both the Delta and the south, will vote in the second round.

— Authorities say 7,000 judges are to oversee 6,000 polling stations in the first round. Ballot counting takes place inside the stations just after the closure of polls.

— The main international group that monitored previous Egyptian votes, the Carter Center, will not deploy observers this time around. Local monitoring groups have protested new regulations that require they receive permits from the state-run National Council for Human Rights, instead of obtaining permits directly from the Election Committee as they have in the past.

(news.yahoo.com / 15.12.2012)

Tunisia busts Qaeda recruitment network: ministry

 

Tunisian security forces have broken up a network that recruited fighters for Al-Qaeda in North Africa, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

“A terrorist network which was responsible for recruiting radical Islamists and sending them to strongholds of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has been dismantled,” a ministry spokesman said, quoted by the official TAP news agency.

Seven people were arrested and were to appear in court on Thursday.

Two of them, detained one kilometre (0.62 miles) from the border with Algeria on December 6, confessed to being part of the network. The rest were arrested in the days that followed, and a gun was seized from one of them.

Other members of the network were being sought in the region of Jendouba, in northwestern Tunisia.

Security forces were also still hunting for gunmen who killed a policeman near the Algerian border on Monday, spokesman added.

Clashes, strikes and attacks by hardline Islamists have multiplied across Tunisia in the run-up to the second anniversary of the start of Tunisia’s revolution, which will be marked on Monday.

(iphone.france24.com / 15.12.2012)