Syria warplanes wage new strike on Lebanon border: army

A Syrian warplane dropped five shells on a rural area in northeastern Lebanon near the Syrian border.

A Syrian warplane dropped five shells on Wednesday on a rural area in northeastern Lebanon near the Syrian border, a military official told AFP.

“A Syrian jet dropped five shells on the outskirts of Sarjal Ajram. No one was hurt,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Sarjal Ajram lies northeast of Arsal, which is home to a majority Sunni population, and whose residents support the uprising in neighboring Syria against President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian warplanes bombarded northern Lebanon for the first time in the country’s spiraling two-year conflict on March 18, a Lebanese army official and a US official said, though Damascus denied responsibility for the attacks.

Syria’s conflict has further entrenched deep divisions in Lebanon.

While Lebanon’s Sunni-led March 14 movement supports the rebels, the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah and its allies back the Assad regime.

Damascus has called on Lebanon to better control its border crossings, accusing the small Mediterranean country of allowing rebels to smuggle weapons and fighters across the border.

Syria dominated Lebanon politically and militarily until 2005, and has continued through its allies to exert significant influence on the country.

(Source / 10.04.2013)

IOF kidnap mothers of two prisoners after visit

 

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped on Tuesday afternoon mothers of two Palestinian prisoners after they finished visiting their sons in Ashkelon jail.

The ministry of prisoners said that after the families were about to leave the prison facility, Israeli soldiers stopped the bus they were boarding and detained them from one to five o’clock in the evening.

During that time, the jailers searched the women on the bus before kidnapping the mothers of prisoners Yakoub Al-Haj and Ahmed Al-Jalazoun and taking them to an unknown place.

In a separate incident, the IOF invaded at dawn Wednesday Jenin city and the towns of Arka, Jalboun and Beit Qad and patrolled their streets without reported raids on homes.

Local sources said that the IOF stormed Zahra neighborhood and Jaberiyat area in Jenin as well as the towns of Jalboun and Beit Qad to the east, and set up in the morning a checkpoint at the eastern entrance to Jenin.

Yesterday evening, the IOF also invaded Jalboun town and questioned Palestinian citizens inside a café.

They also stormed last night Arka town to the west of Jenin and handed a young man named Sa’eed Helmi a summons for interrogation from an Israeli intelligence agency.

(Source / 10.04.2013)

In Hebron, no arrests (of Jews) on Saturdays

A Palestinian is attacked by a famous settler. Police detain the Palestinian, but not the settler – because it’s already Shabbat.

Jewish settlers in Hebron

At the beginning of February, “I.”, a resident of Tel Rumeida, was sitting in his yard with some friends. This was a Friday, twilight was setting in, and I. was sitting with his back to a path servicing the settlers. “B.”, a famous settler with a long history of convictions and a longer list of detentions by the police, was passing by, and was identified by “I.” A small number of other settlers accompanied “B.”

As “I.” would later tell the police, he thought that “B.” would pass his house with a few curses – that he would “curse and go on his way, as usual,” as he put it. That’s life in occupied Hebron (Al Khalil) for you. Not this time. “B.” went into “I.”‘s yard, while the accompanying settlers stayed outside. “I.” Demanded “B.” leave, and in response the latter immediately punched him in the face, and kept on attacking him.

“I.” refrained from hitting the invader back: “Even though I know that by law, I may defend myself from an attacker who enters my yard,” he would say later, “I didn’t strike back because I knew B. would use it against me.” “I.” managed to push “B.” out of the yard, and shouted to the soldier in the nearby post.

As the soldier moseyed over, some of the settlers who accompanied “B.” began stoning “I.” and his friends. They knew, of course, they stood a snowball’s chance in hell of being indicted for attempted murder. They threw stones at the Palestinians with a soldier in plain sight, knowing this stalwart of the rule of law won’t do anything. They’re Jews, after all. As the incident unfolded, “I.” called the police and reported the stone-throwing.

As the soldier watched, “B.” kicked “I.”, while telling the soldier: “You see? He’s kicking me.” The soldier, naturally, arrested “I.”, and “B.” and his gang sneaked off. The detainees were suspected of throwing stones. When “I.” insisted that “B.” and the settlers must also be detained, since he reported the incident, the policemen shrugged: “It’s already Shabbat’” they told him, “We can’t take “B.” and the settlers.”

This particular incident ended relatively well. “I.” was interrogated under suspicion that he attacked “B.” – who, as you recall, didn’t bother to press charges but sauntered off – but told the investigator that his friends recorded the incident on video. Upon examining the video, the interrogator dismissed “I.” on bail, but even though he told I. he would not supply him with the number of the complaint.

The critical words here are, however, “It’s already Shabbat, we can’t take ‘B.’ and the settlers.” This is how a vanquished force, which lost all faith in its ability, sounds. In Israel, the police do work on Saturdays. If a noted felon in Haifa would have assaulted a man and escaped, it’s hard to believe the police would say “well, it’s a Saturday, we can’t detain him.” But coming to deal with B. on his home turf, the cops know they are moving in hostile territory, and that such an arrest would cause a huge mess, and who really needs all these troubles for the sake of some Palestinian who was merely assaulted and stoned in his own yard? The police know it is the settlers who set the rules in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, and that they themselves are there only to provide the façade of the “rule of law.”

The police know and understand this; the Israeli public prefers to stay blissfully unaware.

(Source / 10.04.2013)

Guatemala backs Palestine as ‘free’ state

GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemala has recognized Palestine as a sovereign state in the belief that this will help foster peace in the Middle East, the president’s office announced Tuesday.

Guatemala “has decided to join tha vast majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries and recognize the State of Palestine, as a free, sovereign and independent State,” the statement said.

“This decision in no way alters Guatemala’s long tradition of friendship and cooperation with the State of Israel,” the statement added.

Guatemala wants talks between “the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, backed by the international community, to gain new momentum,” the statement added.

Israel continues to build on illegal settlements on the land of Palestinians despite world concerns. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has ruled out any return to negotiations until Israel stops all these illegal construction.

Court upholds decision absolving ex-prez
An appeals court has upheld a decision that absolved former President Alfonso Portillo of charges that he stole $ 15 million from Guatemala’s Defense Department, bringing an end to the case.
The appeals court announced its decision late Tuesday.
In 2011, a Guatemalan court ruled that prosecutors failed to prove through documents or witnesses that Portillo was personally involved in embezzling the Defense Department’s funds while he governed the country from 2000 to 2004.
Portillo still faces extradition to the United States, where he faces charges of money laundering related to the alleged embezzlement of $ 1.5 million in foreign donations donated by Taiwan to buy schoolbooks for Guatemalan children.
He allegedly deposited the money in Miami and transferred it to a Paris account in the name of his ex-wife and daughter.

(Source / 10.04.2013)

UN says Israeli Gaza restrictions hitting food stocks

 

Palestinians load food supplies on a horse-pulled cart outside a United Nations Relief and Works Agency aid distribution centre in Gaza City on April 10, 2013. A UN humanitarian official said on Wednesday a fresh round of Israeli sanctions on the Gaza Strip was hitting food supplies and would have "serious" effects if continued.

Palestinians load food supplies on a horse-pulled cart outside a United Nations Relief and Works Agency aid distribution centre in Gaza City on April 10, 2013. A UN humanitarian official said on Wednesday a fresh round of Israeli sanctions on the Gaza Strip was hitting food supplies and would have “serious” effects if continued.

AFP – A UN humanitarian official said on Wednesday a fresh round of Israeli sanctions on the Gaza Strip was hitting food supplies and would have “serious” effects if continued.

“In response to a deteriorating security situation in and around Gaza… Israel has announced a series of heightened restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip, including closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator James W Rawley said.

“These measures are resulting in the depletion of stocks of essential supplies, including basic foodstuffs and cooking gas, and undermine the livelihoods and rights of many vulnerable Gazan families,” he said in a statement.

“If these restrictions continue, the effect upon the Gaza population will be serious.”

Kerem Shalom, the only goods crossing from Israel into Strip, was shut on Monday, a day after a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

It had been opened on March 28 after a week-long closure imposed after a previous round of rocket fire

(Source / 10.04.2013)

Israeli army vehicles cross into Gaza, destroy farmland

A picture shows two Israeli military vehicles that were damaged after an explosive device blew up near the border in the southern Gaza Strip on April 9, 2013, near Khan Yunis.

A picture shows two Israeli military vehicles that were damaged after an explosive device blew up near the border in the southern Gaza Strip on April 9, 2013, near Khan Yunis.
Israeli army vehicles have crossed into the Gaza Strip and destroyed Palestinian farmland, witnesses in the besieged territory said.

Palestinians say several Israeli military bulldozers backed by tanks crossed the border in the southern Gaza Strip, near Khan Yunis, on Tuesday and began bulldozing farmland.

“A number of tanks accompanying military bulldozers penetrated an area more than 100 meters into Palestinian farmland on the border, and began razing it,” witnesses told AFP news agency.

Two Israeli military vehicles were damaged after an explosive device blew up in the area. One local resident said he saw one of the bulldozers catch fire.

Israeli army has confirmed the blast, saying a concealed device caused the explosion. The army, however, did not say whether anyone was injured in the explosion.

(Source / 10.04.2013)

Gaza’s Ark and other Direct Action against the Blockade and for Freedom of Movement

 

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Statement in Tunis, March 31, 2013.

The international Freedom Flotilla Coalition, representing civil society solidarity organizations and individual activists from different countries, attended the World Social Forum in Tunis where we spread our call for direct non-violent action against the inhuman and illegal blockade of Gaza and in support of full freedom of movement for all Palestinians.

 

We were delighted to meet with great interest from World Social Forum participants and many Tunisians for our current Gaza’s Ark campaign, which challenges the blockade from the inside out by rebuilding a boat to sail from the only Mediterranean port closed to navigation with a cargo of Palestinian products for export. These export products will be purchased by solidarity organizations and businesses willing to assume the commercial risk of the voyage in order to support some Palestinians in Gaza with an opportunity to overcome Israel’s stranglehold on their ability to earn a living through their own work. In addition to Palestinian products from the Gaza Strip, we call for the export of products from all of Palestine via the port of Gaza, in defiant rejection of the occupier’s separation policies which try to divide the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is also announcing our new campaign to increase solidarity with the fishermen of Gaza, who face a further illegal reduction of their fishing waters (from 6 to just 3 nautical miles) in recent weeks, just a few after the small gains made following the November 2012 cease-fire. It is utterly unacceptable that Palestinian fishing boats still face shooting and violent seizure from the Israeli navy for fishing in their own waters. The Palestinian fishing fleet must have access to no less than the full 20 nautical mile fishing zone they are guaranteed under the Oslo accords, and beyond that, to fishing in international waters, as do as all other coastal nations in the world.

We call for the immediate and safe return of all boats seized by the Israeli occupation navy: both the dozens of Palestinian fishing boats that have been stolen and the different international vessels from solidarity voyages sequestered over a number years. We demand that all these boats be returned without delay to their rightful owners, in the locations where they were seized and in the same condition they were seized, and that Israel pay compensation to owners for any damage incurred as well as for the lost use of their property.

The Freedom Flotilla’s strategy of direct action against the blockade includes legal follow-up in our countries to demand public accountability from those responsible for these Israeli crimes against civilians. Legal proceedings against Israeli crimes are already underway in Turkey and Spain and are being prepared in other countries as well.

Our attendance at the Forum in Tunis allowed us not only to present our work and campaigns to other World Social Forum participants (including participating in the Convergent assembly that led to the final declaration on Palestine), it also put us in touch with new supporters from the world over. We are particularly pleased to have met many new Tunisians supporters at the Forum and at the Land Day march for Palestine on the final day, and we looking forward to forging new partnerships for our campaigns in Tunisia and in other countries.

The blockade of Gaza will not be lifted by empty ‘apologies’ between governments about ‘incidents’: a real, concrete and lasting solution requires direct action against the blockade by grassroots civil-society organizations in solidarity with Palestinians.

(Source / 10.04.2013)

Four men manage Assad’s wealth: WikiLeaks

According to a classified document from the U.S. embassy in Damascus that has been published by WikiLeaks, four men managed the Syrian President’s assests.

Four men are in charge of managing the assets and money of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, both inside and outside the country, according to a classified document from the U.S. embassy in Damascus that has been published by WikiLeaks.

The names of the four are Zuhair Sahloul, Nabil al-Kuzbari, Mohamed Makhlouf and Fawaz al-Akhras.

Sahloul is the most powerful man in black-market currency exchange in Syria, the document states.

The government gave him an office in the Syrian Central Bank, from which he was asked to deal with the devaluation of the Syrian pound in 2005.

Within weeks, Sahloul had regained 20 percent of the currency’s value, and made huge profits for himself and the regime.

He is in charge of managing the president’s money due to his contacts, which allow Sahloul to transfer $10 million to anywhere in the world within 24 hours, according to the document.

Makhlouf, Assad’s uncle on his mother’s side, is described in the telegram as the “mastermind of corruption.”

Makhlouf gave his son Rami the first license for a mobile-phone provider in the country, Syriatel, the document states.

Kuzbari is known as “the paper king.” His business in based in Vienna, and he has close ties with the Makhloufs.

Kuzbari played an important role in encouraging several European politicians to establish closer ties with Assad, and is using his business and banking connections abroad to transfer the president’s assets outside the country.

Akhras, Assad’s father-in-law, is extremely active in Syria’s business sector, using his family ties with the president to expand his influence, the document states.

Tracking Akhras’s account activities, and the amounts of money he has transferred, confirms speculation about his role in making a large portion of the president’s money disappear.

THE FOUR MEN WHO MANAGED ASSAD’S ASSESTS

  • Zuhair Sahloul
  • Mohamed Makhlouf
  • Nabil al-Kuzbari
  • Fawaz al-Akhras
(Source / 10.04.2013)

Army Kidnaps 23 Palestinians In the West Bank

Kidnapped Includes Recently Released Hunger Striker

On Wednesday April 10, 2013, Israeli soldiers kidnapped 23 Palestinians in different parts of the occupied West Bank, after breaking into their homes and searching them. One of the kidnapped is former political prisoner, Thaer Halahla, from Hebron, who conducted a 78-day hunger strike protesting his 2-year Administrative Detention without charges.

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Halahla’s sister told the Ma’an News Agency that the soldiers violently attacked him and confiscated his computer and mobile phone. His wife was moved to a local hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown after the soldiers kidnapped her husband and attacked her.
Furthermore, the army kidnapped 13 Palestinians from Azzoun and one from Jayous town, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia.

Local sources in Jayyous reported that the army broke into and searched dozens of homes before kidnapping 13 Palestinians identified as Ahmad Sami Salim, Waleed Yousef Salim, Saleh Mahmoud Qaddoumi, Waleed Qaddoumi, Abdul-Rahim Majid Kahled, Wajdi Hasan Hamad, Rasem Samir ash-Sheikh, Saleh Abdul-Latif Shamasna, Ahmad Abul-Latif Shamasna, Fadi Mohammad Beidha, Fadi Riyadh Dibs, Imad Yasser Khreis, and Azmi Imad ad-Deek.

The soldiers also invaded the nearby village of Azzoun, and kidnapped Abdul-Aziz Kharfan, 24, and confiscated his personal computer.

In occupied Jerusalem, the army kidnapped three Palestinians in Ras al-Amoud neighborhood, in Silwan south of the al-Aqsa Mosque, after breaking into their homes and searching them.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan reported that those kidnapped have been identified as Thaer al-Abbasy, 22, Majd Oweis, 22, and Mohammad Oweis, 26.

In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, the army kidnapped Omar al-Ja’bary, 24, after breaking into his home and searching it.

Soldiers also invaded the nearby al-Arroub refugee camp, and kidnapped Mousa Ahmad at-Teety, and took him to an unknown destination.

The army also handed Rateb Al-Jabour, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, a military warrant ordering him to head to a nearby security base for interrogation.

In Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank, the army invaded several neighborhoods and kidnapped Baheej Drouza, 20, and Hakam Hosny ar-Reesha, 19, in the al-Jabal ash-Shamaly area, and took them to an interrogation facility.

Also, the army kidnapped Imad Hasan Zaytoun, 35, from Zabbouba village near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, as he was heading to visit his detained brother in Megiddo Israeli prison. His brother was kidnapped a year ago and was never sentenced by any Israeli court.

(Source / 10.04.2013)

Fact Sheet: Israeli Independence & the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

 

Plan Dalet (Source: http://www.1948.org.uk)

The military blueprint for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was called Plan Dalet (or Plan D) and was formally approved by the Zionist leadership on March 10, 1948.

The following is a fact sheet from the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU)…

Israeli Independence & The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

  • Total number of Palestinians expelled during Israel’s creation (1947-49): Approximately 750,000.
  • Number of Palestinians expelled prior to Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, and the ensuing war with neighboring Arab states: Between 175,000 and 200,000.
  • Total number of Palestinian population centers systematically destroyed during Israel’s creation (1947-49): More than 400.
  • Number of population centers ethnically cleansed of their Palestinian Arab inhabitants by Zionist forces prior to Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, and the ensuing war with neighboring Arab states: More than 200.
  • Number of documented massacres of Palestinians by Zionist and Israeli forces during Israel’s creation: At least two dozen. The most notorious took place at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, when more than 100 Palestinian men, women, and children were murdered by Zionist paramilitaries belonging to the Stern Gang and Irgun (led by future Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, respectively). These atrocities spurred the mass flight of Palestinians, and were instrumental in facilitating the creation of a Jewish-majority state in a region in which Palestinian Arabs were the majority.
  • Number of Palestinians who survived the expulsions, remaining within the borders of the new Israeli state: Approximately 150,000. Although granted Israeli citizenship, they were governed by Israeli military rule until 1966, had most of their land taken from them, and continue to suffer widespread, systematic discrimination today as non-Jews living in a “Jewish state.”
  • Value of Palestinian property destroyed or confiscated by Israel during the creation of the state: Estimated at upwards of $100 billion (US) in today’s dollars.
  • The expulsion of the majority of the Arab population of what became Israel during the state’s establishment was not an unintended consequence of war, but rather a preconceived strategy of “transfer” to ensure the creation of a Jewish majority state. The military blueprint for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was called Plan Dalet (or Plan D) and was formally approved by the Zionist leadership on March 10, 1948. It called for:

Destruction of villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those population centers which are difficult to control continuously.

Mounting search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed force must be destroyed and the population must be expelled outside the borders of the state.

  • In December 1948, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194, which stated: “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
  • Successive U.S. administrations supported Resolution 194 and consistently voted to affirm it until 1993, when the administration of President Bill Clinton began to refer to Palestinian refugee rights as a matter to be negotiated between the two parties in a final peace agreement, following the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
  • The Palestinian right of return has also been recognized by major human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In 2001, Amnesty International issued a policy statement on the subject, which concluded: “Amnesty International calls for Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Israel, the West Bank or Gaza Strip, along with those of their descendants who have maintained genuine links with the area, to be able to exercise their right to return.” (See here for an article published on Muftah by Dina Awad about the Right of Return and International Law.)
  • survey released in 2010 by BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, found the Palestinian refugee and displaced population to be approximately 7.1 million, made up of 6.6 million refugees and 427,000 internally displaced persons. Most of them live in refugee camps in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, or in neighboring countries, often only a few miles away from the homes and lands from which they were expelled.

(Source / 10.04.2013)