Te verwachten bezoek uit Israel: Shimon Peres en kolonisten uit ‘Samaria’

De Israëlische president Shimon Peres brengt van 29 september tot en met 2 oktober een officieel bezoek aan Nederland. Hij houdt dan in de plenaire zaal van de Eerste Kamer een toespraak voor leden van de Eerste Kamer en Tweede Kamer. De Telegraafschrijft dat het zelden gebeurt dat een buitenlandse staatshoofd de Kamerleden toespreekt in de Senaat. In 1997 viel die eer te beurt aan wijlen koning Hussein van Jordanië.Ik citeer de Telegraaf zelden, maar ditmaal geloof ik wel dat ze gelijk hebben. Teveel eer voor deze man, en voor Israel lijkt me, waar de huidige politieke lijn ons allerminst redenen tot het verlenen van veel eerbetoon zou moeten geven.

Israel's President Peres speaks during a meeting at Rideau Hall in Ottawa

Peres

Peres gaat in die rede natuurlijk een pleidooi houden om plannen van de EU niet te laten doorgaan om bij toekomstige samenwerkingsovereenkomsten met Israelische instanties te eisen dat zij verklaren geen banden met de nederzettingen te hebben of hen anders van samenwerking uit te sluiten. Peres gaat de Kamerleden ongetwijfeld vertellen dat dit de vredespogingen van de VS in de wielen rijdt, omdat het de Palestijnen minder flexibel zal maken – zij kunnen er dan immers op wijzen dat ook anderen dan zijzelf de nederzettingen illegaal achten. Peres zal erbij zeggen dat de EU-maatregel vooral zo ongewenst is, omdat een overeenkomst juist nu voor het grijpen lag. Dat laatste zegt hij namelijk al tientallen jaren.

Ik vraag me af hoeveel Kamerleden zullen weten dat Peres 0,01% politieke invloed in het huidige Israel uitoefent en dat hij dus vooral en vrijwel uitsluitend fungeert als het gematigde uithangbord van een overigens superrechtse regering, een rol die hij trouwens ook ‘van 2001 tot 2003 vervulde als minister van Buitenlandse Zaken onder de havik Ariël Sharon.
Peres wordt tijdens het bezoek ontvangen door koning Willem-Alexander. Hij luncht met premier Rutte en hij zal vragen van studenten beantwoorden in het tv-programma College Tour.  En oh, bijna vergat ik het te vermelden: Peres werd uitgenodigd door minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Timmermans bij diens bezoek aan Israel in juni. Een hartverwarmend gebaar – zonder twijfel. Maar de vraag is: waarom maakte deze verondersteld linkse (want PvdA-) minister dit gebaar? Wat verwachtte hij ermee te bereiken? Welk belang is ermee gediend?

GershonMesika
Mesika

Nauwelijks is Peres weer weg, of er komt een Israelische delegatie naar Nederland die ongeveer de tegenovergestelde boodschap als die van Peres ten gehoren zal brengen. In tegenstelling tot de Israelische president is deze delegatie wel invloedrijk, hun vertegenwoordigers zitten namelijk in de regering. Het gaat om Gershon Mesika en Yossi Dagan, respectievelijk hoofd en adjunct hoofd van de ‘regionale raad van Samaria’, oftewel het samenwerkingsverband van Israelische nederzettingen in het noorden van de Westoever. Hun boodschap zal zijn dat Israel het volste recht heeft nederzettingen in de bezette gebieden te stichten en dat nederzettingen ‘niet het struikelblok voor de vrede vormen’.

YossiDagan

Dagan

Ook Mesika en Dagan spreken met Kamerleden, op 10 oktober, op instigatie van de SGP. Verder spreken zij in een kerk in Amersfoort en bij de orthodox joodse gemeente in Den Haag. Mesika en Dagan worden vergezeld van twee heren, Shay Attias en Eliëzer Braun, van de organisatie Shuva Israel, een Israelische organisatie die zich uitsluitend richt op het bedrijven van propaganda onder christenfundamentalisten en christen-zionisten als Christenen voor Israel of de Amerikaanse Evangelical Christians met het doel de nederzettingenpolitiek van Israel te verkopen. De propagandatournee van Mesika en Dagan, die door Shuva Israel wordt betaald, bracht hen eerder naar de VS, waar zij onder meer spraken met Congresleden. Na Nederland staat Noorwegen op het programma en daarna weer de VS.

(Source / 21.09.2013)

Sheikh Salah announces relief campaign for Gaza

Sheikh Raed Salah, Kamal al-Khateeb

Sheikh Raed Salah, Kamal al-Khateeb

Gaza, ALRAY – Leader of Islamic Movement in occupied Palestine Sheikh Raed Salah announced Friday a relief campaign to support the people of Gaza with food, water and medicine.

This came during the 18th annual “Al-Aqsa is in Danger” festival was held at Umm al-Fahm’s soccer stadium, located in the Arab-populated Wadi Ara area.

Sheikh Salah rebuffed anyone who betrays occupied Jerusalem, or Al-Aqsa Mosque, and gives up the right of return of Palestinian refugees and conspires to besiege and starve the people of Gaza and pleases that the West Bank be transformed into Israeli settlements.

He added that the Israeli occupation will not succeed to divide Al-Aqsa Mosque in time or space “our existence in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa is legitimate, not presence of the Israeli occupation,”

The festival came some two weeks after Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of Islamic Movement’s northern branch, was arrested and subsequently ordered by Israel’s Jerusalem district court to stay at least 30 kilometers away from the Aqsa Mosque.

Islamic Movement leaders warned the Arab and Islamic world against “an Israeli plan, which has lately gained the support of right-wing MKs, to destroy the Aqsa Mosque and to build a Jewish temple at the site.”

A large picture of deposed Islamist Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was displayed on the stage as well as a large Syrian flag and the slogan “freedom for Syria.”

Sheikh Husam Abu Lil, who served as master of ceremonies at the event, said that Israel was “taking advantage of the Muslim people’s focus on their interior tragedies” to destroy mosques and allow Jewish extremists to defile Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

“This occupier is igniting the flame under the volcano that stands to explode at any moment,” he added.

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(Source / 21.09.2013)

Syrië: de valkuil voor het westen?

Het schijnt dan – volgens westerse begrippen – te gaan lukken in Syrië: de dictator Assad zou binnen een week een lijstje ingeleverd hebben  over zijn chemische wapens. Maar ook bij deze zgn. overeenkomst blijven nogal wat vragen over, zoals: komt alles op dit verlanglijstje van het westen,  is alles onder controle van Assad, zijn er wapens verdwenen en ga zo maar door. Het zal nu gaan om vertrouwen – dat er overigens nooit is geweest – en duidelijkheid, maar vooral om tijdrekken.

Maar is iedereen even eerlijk tegen de ander? De Verenigde Staten dwingt Assad zijn chemische wapens op te geven, maar laat gewoon bestaan dat haar compagnon haar wapens niet op hoeft te ruimen, sterker nog: het gebruik van die wapens tegen Palestina is niet eens bespreekbaar. Aan de andere kant wordt Assad meer dan genoeg mogelijkheden geboden om zijn chemische wapens te laten verdwijnen. Volgens de oppositie is dit ook ondertussen gebeurd richting de opslagplaatsen van Hezbollah.

In Syrië is niet alles zo zwart/wit zoals zo vaak in de mainstream media wordt aangegeven. Sinds 1967 is de Ba’ath Partij aan de macht na een coup. De leider van Syrië is sinds 1971 een lid van de al-Assad clan; de eerste dictator was Hafez al-Assad, die in 2011 werd opgevolgd door zijn oudste zoon Bashar. Vanaf dat Bashar al-Assad president werd, kwam er ook officieel en openlijk verzet.
Vanaf dat moment kwam er ook oppositie tegen het beleid van de al-Assad clan, echter de oppositie was en is nog steeds gefragmenteerd (op Wikipedia, Engelse versie over de Syrische oppositie is een (mogelijk niet compleet) overzicht te vinden). In het kort , hieronder een poging om het een en het ander te benoemen.

Tijdens de burgeroorlog  is op 11 november 2012 in Doha, Qatar een conferentie gehouden, waar o.a. de Nationale Coalitie van Syrische Revolutionaire en Oppositie Krachten is ontstaan; in deze coalitie gaan de oppositiegroepen – en partijen uit de burgeroorlog samen.
Een van de partijen is de Syrian National Council, opgericht in Istanbul en bestaande uit verschillende groeperingen. In 1930 is de Moslim Broederschap opgericht , maar is meestal verboden geweest en door Assad aangewezen als de groepering die de opstand is gestart.
Tijdens de burgeroorlog ontstond de coalitie van seculiere en democratische Syriërs; een coalitie die ontstond door het verenigen van een tiental islamitische, christelijke, Arabische en Koerdische partijen. Deze coalitie heeft de minderheden van Syrië opgeroepen om de strijd tegen al-Assad te steunen. De voorzitter van deze coalitie is Randa Kassis die tevens lid is van de SNC.
In 2005 ontstond het Oppositie Blok van 2005 waarin vijf kleine oppositiegroepen samen gingen werken. Een aantal van de leden zijn veroordeeld en hebben twee en half jaar in de gevangenis gezeten. Naast al deze groeperingen en partijen bestaan er ook nog partijen als de Syrische Democratische Volkspartij, de Hoge Raad van de Syrische Revolutie (partijleider George Sabra), de Assyrische Democratische Organisatie, de Syrische Turkmeense Beweging (pas gevormd en die een coalitie vormt van Turkmeense partijen en groeperingen in Syrië), Syrische Democratische Turkmeense Beweging (opgericht in 2012 in Istanbul; Ziyad Hasan is de leider), het Syrisch Turkmeens Nationaal Blok (opgericht in februari 2012 met Yusuf Molla als voorzitter).

Tenslotte bestaan er ook verschillende groeperingen die gedeeltelijk of geheel opereren als militaire organisaties. De bekendste groepering is de Free Syrian Army and Higher Military Council (FSA) die in eerste instantie bestond uit overgelopen Syrische strijdkrachten. Gerelateerd aan de FSA zijn te noemen de Al-Tawhid Brigade, Liwaa al-Umma en de Syrische Turkmeense Brigades.

Echter, er zijn nog vele andere groeperingen, partijen en kleine legertjes te onderscheiden in de strijd om de macht in Syrië. De bekendere zijn o.a. het Al-Nusra Front (dat banden met Al-Qaida zou hebben), het Nationaal Bevrijdingsfront van Syrië, het Syrische Islamitische Front, Het Syrische Islamitische Bevrijdingsfront, en vele anderen.

Ondanks het feit dat al deze partijen één gezamenlijk doel hebben en dat is de dictator en massamoordenaar Bashar al-Assad te verdrijven, is het vaak gebleken dat de verschillende partijen ook elkaar aanvallen en leden van die partijen vermoorden. Een volgend artikel zal hier mogelijk op verder gaan.

Als het westen ooit iets wil doen voor het Syrische volk, zal ze de geschiedenis moeten leren begrijpen van de Arabieren, het ontstaan van de Islam, maar vooral moeten inzien dat de tijd nu rijp is voor een vrijheidsstrijd van de Arabische volken tegen hun dictators en bezetters. Als het westen dat niet kan of wil, dan zal ze gezien worden als bezetter en de problemen over haar heen krijgen die daar bij horen. Het westen heeft zich in een wespennest gestoken en zal hier zeker niet zonder kleerscheuren uitkomen.

© KhamakarPress.

(Bron: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_opposition)

Death under torture in Syria: the horrors ignored by pacifists

Death under torture in Syria: the horrors ignored by pacifists – Budour Hassan

Perhaps one of the cruelest aspects of the Syrian regime’s war on the Syrian population is its success in normalizing death and desensitizing the world to its harrowing massacres. Missing from the six-digit death toll are the charred faces and untold stories of the martyrs, and of the suffering inflicted upon the loved ones they leave behind. As one Syrian activist put it: «One thing I will never forgive Bashar al-Assad for is denying us the chance to grieve over our martyred friends». Indeed, with mass-murder turning into a horrifyingly frequent occurrence two-and-a-half years on, mourning the fallen has become a luxury most Syrians are deprived of.

Dehumanizing Syrians

The dehumanization of Syrians was painfully illustrated by the debate that ensued after the chemical weapons attack on 21 August in the Damascus countryside. The victims were treated as mere footnotes by the international community, the mainstream media, and the anti-war camp. For western governments who draw a «red line» with chemical weapons-use – and Israel’s interests – the red blood of Syrian children slaughtered with conventional weapons by the regime and its militias is not sufficiently outrageous. The whole discourse, as Syrian writer and former political prisoner Yassin al-Haj Saleh puts it, is about chemical weapons, not about the criminal who used chemical weapons, the people murdered by them, or the greater number of people murdered with guns.

For mainstream media, the Syrian people are stripped of their voices and agency and the Syrian revolution is instead a «civil war» between two evils: a secular dictator versus flesh-eating, bearded Islamists. Nowhere to be seen or heard is the astounding defiance and communal solidarity that has kept the revolution alive despite all odds; the brave struggle against the oppressive «Islamic State in Iraq and Syria» that controls large parts of the «liberated» areas in Northern Syria; and the ongoing grassroots initiatives and protests against both the regime as well as the Islamist extremists.

Meanwhile, for most anti-war coalitions: «war is peace and ignorance is strength». They parade as facts hackneyed and false dichotomies to argue that all the rebels are terrorists and Assad is now not only ostensibly fighting imperialism, but terrorism as well. That Assad has been waging a sectarian, all-out war on Syrian civilians for the past thirty months matters little. That his regime has systematically arrested peaceful and secular activists while releasing Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists matters less. And that thousands of imprisoned Syrian, including workers, children, unarmed demonstrators, and community organizers, have been tortured to death by regime forces since the start of the uprising matters none at all.

Killed under torture

So it follows that these «anti-war» campaigners will ignore one of the regime’s latest torture victims: Khaled Bakrawi, a 27-year-old Palestinian-Syrian community organizer and founding member of the Jafra Foundation for Relief and Youth Development. Khaled was arrested by regime security forces in January 2013 for his leading role in organizing and carrying out humanitarian and aid work in Yarmouk Refugee Camp. On 11 September, the Yarmouk coordination committee and Jafra Foundation reported that Khaled was killed under torture in one of the several infamous intelligence branches in Damascus.

Khaled was born and raised in Yarmouk refugee camp in the Southern outskirts of Damascus. His family was displaced from the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Loubieh by Israeli occupation forces during the 1948 Nakba (Palestinian catastrophe).

On 5 June, 2011, Khaled took part in the «return march» to the occupied Golan Heights, witnessing Ahmad Jibril’s PFLP-GC, a regime-backed Palestinian militia, exploit the patriotism and enthusiasm of Yarmouk’s youth by instigating them to march to occupied Palestine in an attempt to bolster Assad’s popularity and divert attention from the ongoing crackdown of the then overwhelmingly peaceful revolution. Anticipating a brutal reaction by the Israeli occupation army, Khaled tried to dissuade the unarmed youth from entering the Israeli-occupied ceasefire zone, but to no avail. He was left witnessing Syrian regime troops sip tea and look on nonchalantly as Israeli occupation soldiers showered Palestinian and Syrian protesters with bullets. In that protest, dozens were killed or injured. Khaled was shot with two bullets in the thigh.

Insulting objectification

One of Khaled’s friends, who visited him in hospital after his injury, recounts seeing him break into tears when he received flowers with a card that read: «You did us proud; you are a hero». For Khaled, the sentiment regarding a person’s injury as source of nationalist pride, was one more testament to the insulting objectification of Syrians. It is precisely this that illustrates the main reason for the uprising’s eruption: namely, regaining the individual and collective dignity that, for over four decades, was trampled on by a regime that can only consider Syrians as cheap items and tools.

Killed by the wrong bullet

Many who regarded Khaled Bakrawi as a hero following his injury by the Israeli occupation uttered not one word of condolence after his death under torture in the regime’s dungeons. Neither the Palestinian Liberation Organisation nor any other Palestinian political faction has condemned the killing of one of Yarmouk’s most prominent, likable, and hard-working activists. Neither have they protested the killing of three other Palestinian prisoners under torture within five days. It seems that for them, a Palestinian is only worthy of the title «martyr» if s/he is killed by the Zionist occupation. Having the misfortune of being slain by the «anti-imperialist and «pro-resistance» Assad regime renders the killing acceptable, and the killed undeserving of sympathy.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well, failed to issue any tribute to martyred Palestinian refugee Anas Amara, a 23-year-old law student, Yarmouk resident, and PFLP activist since the age of nine. Anas, a revolutionary communist who distanced himself from the reformist bourgeois left and participated in the Syrian revolution from its very inception, was killed in a regime ambush near the besieged Yarmouk camp in April this year. He was killed, we can put it, by the «wrong bullet,» for his killing warranted no outrage from those who claim to champion the Palestinian cause.

Deafening silence

The deafening silence coming from the Palestinian leadership as well as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) about the plight of Palestinian refugees in Syria is not at all surprising. Yarmouk, Syria’s largest Palestinian refugee camp, has been under suffocating siege by the Syrian Arab Army since July 2013. The 70,000 civilians trapped in Yarmouk have been denied access to electricity and food; to stay alive, some have resorted to eating dogs. Despite the numerous appeals by Yarmouk residents and Syrian activists to break the siege on the Camp, now on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, the Palestinian leadership and UNRWA have yet to answer to any of these pleas.

Also disregarded are the appeals by Palestinian groups in Syria to release Palestinian detainees in Syrian regime jails. They, like their Syrian sisters and brothers, also face imminent danger to their lives. But as if collective punishment, arbitrary arrests, strict siege and constant shelling by the regime were not enough, Palestinians and Syrians have to fight on another front: Islamist extremists kidnapped Wassim Meqdad, activist, musician, and one of only two doctors treating the wounded in Yarmouk Camp, on 12 September.

War crimes

Any coalition or organisation that claims to strive for peace and human rights but does not clearly condemn war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Syrian regime is not a genuinely pro-peace movement. The word «peace», after all, has been deemed void of its true meaning thanks to all the warmongers who claim to promote precisely peace. And while this might be a term we can work to reclaim for opposing war is an ethical and noble position, doing so without explicitly opposing the Syrian regime and Iranian-Russian intervention, and without siding with the Syrian people’s revolution for freedom and dignity, is a position that is at once morally and politically bankrupt.

It is cynically ironic for anti-war groups to remain silent about the deadly torture of over 2,000 Syrian political prisoners as they protest together with Syrian regime supporters and right-wing Islamophobes against a potential US strike on Syria. As these pacifist groups (rightly) blast Western governments for their hypocrisy, they should take a second to think about their own hypocrisy in abandoning the Syrian revolution since day one, long before it was militarized. Also, it is highly recommended they read George Orwell’s «Notes on Nationalism», for many of these vocal anti-war activists fit into the nationalist, pacifist category Orwell so critiqued:

There is a minority of intellectual pacifist whose real thought unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not, as a rule, condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defense of western countries».

In the Syrian case, such pacifists endeavor to veil their position with truisms about peace and neutrality, yet focus their energies on opposing a potential US war on Syria on the one hand, while condoning the actual war launched by the Syrian regime on the other. Even though the self-proclaimed «anti-imperialist» pacifists maintain that they are anti-intervention on principle, they only object to Western intervention in Syria while saying nothing about Iran and Russia’s far more flagrant and aggressive intervention. While it is understandable that opposing their own government’s abuses should be priority, this does not justify supporting a genocidal regime, downplaying its crimes, and turning their backs to the heroic struggle of the Syrian people. For it is such struggles against totalitarianism, as any «leftist» worthy of the name would not need be reminded, that exist as nascent fronts in the larger fight for a global humanity living and dying under the boot and the indignity of them all.

(Source / 21.09.2013)

PA security escalates targeting of Hamas supporters

 

 

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Palestinian Authority security apparatuses arrested five Hamas supporters, summoned another, and extended the detention of five others in the occupied West Bank during the past 48 hours.

In Ramallah, the General Intelligence Service (GIS) arrested a student at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Jerusalem and took him to its headquarters, less than 24 hours after the arrest of the representative of the Islamic bloc and a number of other students.

The Islamic bloc at the University of Jerusalem condemned the detention of the student and called on the university administration, the committee on public freedoms and the human rights organizations to immediately intervene for the immediate release of the young man.

The GIS arrested after Friday prayers a student at Birzeit University during his participation in the rally organized by Hamas in front of Bireh Mosque.

It has also arrested 3 days ago a student in the Faculty of Engineering at Birzeit University and a former political prisoner.

Meanwhile, the courts of the PA security extended the detention of two youths Mohammed Assi and liberated prisoner Islam Mousa from Beit Liqya village for 45 days.

PA’s intelligence service arrested the two young men about 60 days ago. They have been exposed during the last period to severe torture, and their detention has been renewed several times.

The GIS refused to release the detainee Mohammed Abu Keshk from Qarawat Bani Zeid who had been abducted more than 3 weeks ago, despite the court’s decision to release him on bail.

In Tulkarem, the Preventive Security Service (PSS) arrested a student at Birzeit University after storming his house.

It also arrested in Salfit a liberated captive and former political detainee from the town of Iskaka after summoning him. Another ex-prisoner from al-Khalil was summoned to the PSS headquarters.

Palestinian courts extended the detention of Taha Shallaldah in al-Khalil for 7 days pending investigation, and the detention of Haitham Aqrah in Nablus for 15 days.

The detention of captive Omar Zaghloul from Nablus has also been extended for 15 days after he appeared before the Court of First Instance.

The GIS also refused to release Samir Abu Shuaib, despite the court’s decision to release him.

(Source / 21.09.2013)

Israel soldier abducted and killed in West Bank

Map

An Israeli soldier has been abducted and killed by a Palestinian man in the northern West Bank, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency says.

The soldier was seized on Friday and his body found near the town of Qalqiliya on Saturday, it said.

A suspect has been arrested. Shin Bet named him as Nidal Ammer, a 42-year-old man who worked with the soldier.

More arrests are expected, it added. The West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

The Shin Bet statement says the suspect had confessed to abducting and killing the soldier in the hope that he could trade the body in exchange for the release of his imprisoned brother.

The soldier’s body was found in a well, it said.

(Source / 21.09.2013)

Israel to confiscate hundreds of dunums in al-Khalil

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AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) plan the confiscation of hundreds of dunums in Kharas village west of al-Khalil.

The IOA issued notifications for the evacuation of hundreds of agricultural land claiming they belong to the state as a prelude to confiscating them.

The Land Research Center (LRC), a branch of the Arab Studies Society, said that Palestinian shepherds in the western areas of the town have found several notifications and maps of the lands to be confiscated. The shepherds handed over the notifications to Kharas municipality.

The Israeli notifications were issued on 10th of August signed on the behalf of the Commander of Military Forces in the West Bank and the Israeli Civil Administration.

The Israeli notifications called on the Palestinian citizens in the area to evict the lands in 45 days after receipt of notifications, threatening to evict the lands by force and to impose the evacuation costs on the citizens in case they refuse to respond to the notifications.

According to the eviction notifications, around 304 dunums are threatened to be confiscated by the IOA.

(Source / 21.09.2013)

Egypt military causes $250m-plus damage to Gaza tunnels

A Palestinian man receives goods from Egypt through a tunnel underneath the border in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip July 29, 2008.

A Palestinian man receives goods from Egypt through a tunnel underneath the border in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip July 29, 2008.

“Over the past months, Egypt has stepped up its crackdown on the supply tunnels leading into Gaza, which bring basic supplies to the Gazans in the besieged enclave. Egyptian army forces flooded several of tunnels in February.”

The Palestinian minister of economy says that losses resulting from Egypt military destruction of tunnels along its border with the besieged Gaza Strip have exceeded $250 million.

Alaa al-Rafati told local media on Friday that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has entered a “critical and dangerous phase” since Egypt has closed the Rafah border crossing and is destroying the tunnels serve as a lifeline for Gaza’s population of over 1.7 million.

According to al-Rafati, the Egyptian army has destroyed nearly 126 border tunnels, which have been used to get basic goods and medicines into Gaza during years of suffocating Israeli blockade.

Al-Rafati further called on the Egyptian government to reopen the Rafah crossing and allow the movement of people and goods through it.

More than 80 percent of the tunnels are no longer functional following their destruction by the Egyptian security forces.

Over the past months, Egypt has stepped up its crackdown on the supply tunnels leading into Gaza, which bring basic supplies to the Gazans in the besieged enclave. Egyptian army forces flooded several of tunnels in February.

Since the ouster of Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, the Egyptian military has launched a campaign to destroy the tunnels, preventing the people in Gaza from bringing in most of their basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel.

The destruction of the tunnels has reportedly led to an increase in the price of fuel and other commodities in the coastal territory. Palestinians have to wait in long lines at gas stations and face daily power outages that last up to 14 hours.

Several human rights organizations and civil groups have criticized the Egyptian army for preventing the people in Gaza from accessing most of their basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel.

(Source / 21.09.2013)

Public health sector in Gaza faces disaster under tightened siege

 

Premature baby being treated at Al-Emarati Hospital in GazaIntensive care medical units such as this one at the Al-Emarati Hospital in Gaza face significant cuts to their power and medical supplies

The Minister of Health in Gaza has urged the international community to put pressure on Israel and Egypt to lift the siege and allow medicines, medical supplies and basic construction material to be allowed into the beleaguered territory. Dr Mofeed Mokhalalati said that the health sector in the Gaza Strip faces a real disaster under the tightened siege following the closure of the Rafah border crossing by the Egyptian government.

“Of the medicines on the essential drugs list,” said Dr Mokhalalati, “145 items have completely run out.” The Rafah closure, he added, also means that there are around 1,000 patients who are unable to be sent for specialist treatment in Egypt, in addition to 300 more who have been referred there by the health ministry.

The minister pointed out that the border closure also deprives patients in the Gaza Strip of the services of visiting medical professionals who travel to the territory to share their skills and perform life-saving surgery free of charge.

Appealing to the people of Egypt to ease the suffering of their brothers and sisters in Gaza, Dr Mokhalalati warned that the shortage of diesel fuel is having a major effect on the ability of hospitals and medical centres to function properly. “Health centres alone each need 360 litres a month for emergency generators as the electricity supply is only connected for 12 hours a day,” he said.

Dr Mokhalalati urged human rights organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Organisation for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organisation to support Palestinians’ right to health provision and their freedom of movement. He appealed for urgent supplies of medicines, disposables, medical supplies and fuel to keep the health sector operating across Gaza.

(Source / 21.09.2013)

“What about Israel’s nuclear weapons?” asks Putin

Vladimir Putin

Putin continues to deny the Syrian regime’s responsibility for the chemical weapons attack, stating that ‘the attack used an old Soviet shell of a kind no longer used by the Syrian army’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the big question that has been the elephant in the corner as the debate continues about Syria’s possession and use of chemical weapons: What about Israel’s nuclear weapons?

Putin was speaking in defence of Moscow’s position on the Syrian crisis, in particular the chemical weapons issue. Observers were surprised by the reference to Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which is normally off-limits in such international forums, and Putin’s attempt to link the caches of weapons of mass destruction in both countries. The Russian president pointed out that Syria’s chemical weapons have served as a counter to the threat posed by Israel’s nuclear weapons; he called for the Middle East to be a nuclear-free zone.

Continuing to deny the Syrian regime’s responsibility for the chemical weapons attack last month, Putin presented “technical” evidence collected by his advisers. “The attack used an old Soviet shell of a kind no longer used by the Syrian army,” he claimed.

As the war of words between Russia and the US continued on this issue, Secretary of State John Kerry tried unsuccessfully to persuade his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to back a “binding” UN Security Council resolution to remove the Syrian chemical. Nevertheless, Kerry praised China’s support for a political solution, “the only available and possible solution”. The Secretary of State also urged the UN Security Council to vote as soon as possible on the text of a possible resolution that would oblige Syria to respect a plan to dispose of its chemical weapons.

President Bashar Al–Assad has vowed to hand over his regime’s chemical weapons but warned that this could take many months and millions of dollars before the process is complete. In an interview with Fox News, Assad stressed that the ideology of the rebels in his country should be a cause for serious concern not only in Syria but also in neighbouring countries and even the United States. It is not a civil war, he insisted, but “an attack by Al-Qaeda”. Up to 15,000 Syrian soldiers have been killed so far, claimed Assad, but he expressed his government’s willingness to offer an amnesty, “even for those whose hands are stained by Syrian blood”, as an act of national reconciliation. Commentators have pointed out the significance of Assad’s offer, coming as it has after a spokesman for his government said that the conflict is at an “impasse”.

In an interview with Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Qadri Jamil, said that the Syrian authorities will ask for a ceasefire in the event that the “Geneva 2 Conference” goes ahead. He added that neither side in the conflict is able to win but insisted that there would have to be international monitors for any ceasefire.

The easing of the threat of military action against the Syrian regime has had a positive effect on Lebanon already, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister has claimed. Heading back to Moscow after talks in Damascus, Sergei Ryabkov noted that the flow of refugees across the border into Lebanon appears to have slowed. “If there is a war, however, it will have a negative effect not only on Syria but Lebanon and other neighbours,” he said.

(Source / 21.09.2013)