Five Children Kidnapped In East Jerusalem

The Israeli police said that it arrested five Palestinian children from Sur Baher town, south of occupied East Jerusalem, on suspicion of throwing stones at a settler’s vehicle, causing an injury to a settler’s child.

File - Maan News Agency
File – Maan News Agency

The police said the incident took place a few days ago, and that the children “confessed” to the crime during the interrogation, and recreated the scene in front of their interrogators. Similar to previous cases involving dozens of detained Palestinian children, no family members or lawyers were present during the interrogation.

Israeli sources said that the police would likely be arresting more children who were either directly involved in the incident or involved in alleged similar attacks.

In related news, soldiers kidnapped a cameraman working for the Maan News Agency at a military roadblock, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

Earlier on Tuesday, dozens of soldiers invaded the southern West Bank city of Hebron, kidnapping four Palestinians. The army also installed a military roadblock at the entrance of the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, and several roadblocks close to the Halhoul town, north of the city.

Furthermore, several Israeli settlers attacked several homes in Khirbit Um Al-Kheir village, east of Yatta town south of Hebron.

Another group of settlers from the illegal Etnael settlement invaded Emresh and Raboud villages, south of Doura town, southwest of Hebron, and attacked several homes.

Israel is currently holding captive nearly 4,900 Palestinians, including at least 190 children and 14 women. At least 142 Palestinians are currently held under arbitrary administrative detention orders without charges or trial.

(Source / 03.12.2013)

PA waiting on Arafat test results from France

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The head of a Palestinian committee to investigate the death of Yasser Arafat said Tuesday the Palestinian Authority had yet to receive the results of French tests examining the possibility the late leader was poisoned.

Tawfiq Tirawi said the PA was still waiting on results in which French experts ruled out a theory that Arafat was killed by poisoning.

A source close to the investigation into the Palestinian leader’s 2004 death told AFP that a report on the investigation “rules out the poisoning theory and goes in the sense of a natural death.”

The French experts’ findings differ significantly from those of Swiss scientists, who said last month that their research offered some support for the suggestion Arafat was killed by polonium poisoning.

Rumors and speculation have surrounded Arafat’s death since a quick deterioration of his health saw his passing at a military hospital near Paris in November 2004 at the age of 75.

French doctors were unable to say what killed him and an autopsy was never performed, at the request of his widow.

Many Palestinians believed he was poisoned by Israel — a claim they repeatedly denied.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP the results of the French probe were “no surprise”.

France opened a formal murder inquiry into his death in August 2012, a month after an Al-Jazeera documentary linked his death to polonium poisoning.

Some 60 samples were taken from Arafat’s remains in November 2012 and divided between Swiss and Russian investigators and a French team carrying out a probe at his widow’s request.

Both the prosecutors’ office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, which is conducting the French probe, and a lawyer for Arafat’s widow Suha refused to comment on the investigation’s findings Tuesday.

The Swiss team said the test results neither confirmed nor denied polonium was the actual source of his death, although they provided “moderate” backing for the idea he was poisoned by the rare and highly radioactive element.

They said the quantity of the deadly substance found on his remains pointed to the involvement of a third party.

Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency has yet to release its findings.

A report by news agency Interfax in October quoted its chief Vladimir Uiba as saying Arafat “could not have been poisoned by polonium” but the medical agency later denied he had made any statement.

Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Mhanna last month urged France to release the results of its probe, saying the Palestinians were sure Arafat had been poisoned and that Israel was the “only suspect” in his death.

Israeli President Shimon Peres, who shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, said last month that the reports of polonium poisoning were unbelievable.

“If someone had wanted to get rid of Arafat, it would have been easier to do it with a bullet,” he said.

The Swiss team’s findings sparked fresh accusations from the Palestinians and increased tensions with Israel at a delicate time.

US-brokered peace talks resumed at the end of July after a three-year gap, but have already hit a deadlock over Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank on land the Palestinians want for their future state.

Arafat shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli leaders after signing the landmark Oslo accords in 1993, when hopes ran high for a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

(Source / 03.12.2013)

Saudi Arabia and Israel to use stronger Stuxnet against Iran’s nuclear program, source says

Saudi Arabia and Israel are seeking to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program by using a computer worm more destructive than Stuxnet, according to Fars News Agency (FNA) in Iran.

Saudi and Israeli intelligence representatives met on Nov. 24 to discuss cooperative efforts, an anonymous source close to the Saudi secret service told FNA, adding the plan needs time and at least a million dollars in funding.

“One of the proposals raised in the meeting was the production of a malware worse than the Stuxnet…to spy on and destroy the software structure of Iran’s nuclear program,” the source said, adding it was welcomed by Saudis.

Discovered in 2010, the Stuxnet malware is said to have been created by the US and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

(Source / 03.12.2013)

Another harsh winter bears down on Syria’s children

Displaced Syrian children particularly vulnerable to cold weather, inadequate water and sanitation

GENEVA / AMMAN, 3 December 2013 – Nearly 5.5 million vulnerable Syrian children will soon face another season of harsh winter weather. January of last year brought the coldest temperatures in more than a decade and UNICEF is very concerned that exposure to similarly cold and wet conditions will place further strain on the health and wellbeing of displaced Syrian children.

The scale of the humanitarian response needed for the looming winter is unprecedented. In December of last year, there were approximately 1.15 million children affected by the crisis inside Syria, with an additional 232,000 Syrian children living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Today, as the conflict approaches its three year mark, those numbers have skyrocketed to 4.3 million and 1.2 million, respectively.

“Millions of displaced Syrian children have had to find safety under what are, frankly, inadequate living conditions,” said Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “When freezing temperatures and rain are added to the mix, children under five are especially susceptible to opportunistic illnesses like acute respiratory infections which spread easily in overcrowded settings.”

There are currently more than 436,000 Syrian refugee children under the age of five in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa living in refugee camps, tented settlements and host communities. “Together with our partners, we have already mobilized emergency supplies in Syria and the region to keep children warm, dry and healthy this winter,” said Calivis.

The situation facing the more than 400,000 Syrian child refugees in Lebanon is especially precarious as thousands of families are currently sheltering in tented settlements on flood-prone land. Should tents and latrines be flooded with rain, there is an increased risk of exposure to water borne diseases.

UNICEF in Lebanon is distributing 88,000 winter clothing kits to children living in tented settlements across the country. Each kit includes a jacket, waterproof boots, gloves, scarf, wool hat and warm underclothes. UNICEF is also working to reinforce drainage systems, desludge waste tanks and construct concrete foundations for families in tents. Additional supplies such as energy boilers for hot showers are also being placed in camps.

• In Syria itself, UNICEF plans to reach 2,000,000 children with a package of emergency supplies for the winter. The package will include winter clothing for children, blankets, plastic sheeting, and hygiene kits.

• In Jordan, UNICEF will provide 35,000 winter clothing kits for Syrian refugee children under five, in addition to 24,000 blankets.

• To keep children in school, UNICEF is procuring 370 winterized tents for classrooms and child friendly spaces in Syrian refugee camps in Iraq and Turkey, along with fuel for heating.

UNICEF urgently requires additional funds to provide vital winter-related emergency supplies to children and families in Syria and neighbouring countries. With a funding gap in excess of US $13 million for the emergency response, a significant proportion is needed to protect children from the winter.

(Source / 03.12.2013)

PA arrests prominent businessman who called for Abbas’ downfall

 

Palestinian Authority security forces today arrested a prominent Palestinian-born Canadian businessman, weeks after he called for the downfall of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

In the above Wattan TV video of Monday morning’s incident, Muhammad Sabawi, 68, chairman and general manager of Ahlia Insurance Group, can be seen arguing with a group of PA police officers who came to his office to take him away.

The video shows a clear shot of a police summons presented to Sabawi.

Sabawi was held by police for nine hours before being released, his son Khaled Sabawi, 30, told The Electronic Intifada from Ramallah this evening.

Khaled, who was with his father throughout the ordeal, said that the family’s lawyers, while initially present, were then ordered out.

“Retaliation”

Though his father was not presented with any formal charges, Khaled said that the arrest was retaliation for an incident that occurred during the visit to Ramallah last month of French president François Hollande last month.

Khaled also said that the Palestinian Authority had begun retaliating against the family’s businesses.

Yet Khaled recognized that his father would have faced a much worse fate were he not well-established in the business community and a Canadian citizen.

“Had my father been a regular Palestinian ID holder he would have faced what many face, which is being arrested and held for no charge for expressing dissent, for an unlimited time period,” he said.

“We’ve heard many examples of Palestinians being harassed, detained and humiliated by the Palestinian Authority simply for expressing their opinions.”

The Sabawis ought to be the sort of people that the Palestinian Authority sees as the backbone of the state and economy it claims it wants to build, but today’s incident suggests that the Abbas regime will not brook dissent or defiance from any quarter.

French president’s visit

On 14 November, Khaled happened to be in Paris to receive the Takreem Young Entrepreneur Award.

While there, he received an email from a member of his staff saying that the Abbas presidential guard had called to ask to place snipers on the roof of the Ramallah office building owned by the Sabawis and which houses their companies during the upcoming visit of the French president.

The building also houses the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. As landlords to a UN agency, the Sabawis must meet stringent criteria.

Khaled told his colleague to inform the presidential guard that they should send a request in writing so that the matter could be discussed and coordinated with the UN. The request never came, he said.

However on 18 November, the day of Hollande’s visit, as Khaled was returning to the occupied West Bank via Jordan, he received a phone call from his staff saying that the presidential guard had arrived at the building with a letter demanding immediate access.

Khaled said the heavily-armed force intimidated the workers in the building, informing them “there’s no one higher than the president’s office.” The Palestinian Authority snipers scaled the fire escape and occupied the roof of the building.

Video footage below also shows armed, uniformed men entering the building through its front door.

During the incident, the police also attempted to arrest Muhammad Sabawi. Khaled says that he arrived back at the building to find employees forming a cordon around his father to prevent the police from taking him away.

“Insulting” Abbas

Clearly angry at what happened, Muhammad Sabawi can be heard in this Wattan TV video of the 18 November incident declaring “the people want the downfall of President Mahmoud Abbas!”

The following day, Muhammad Sabawi went to the PA attorney general’s office with his lawyers to give an affidavit about what had happened, particularly the invasion of the building by the security forces.

Today’s arrest was an unexpected shock, Khaled said, and even after his father was taken to the police station, he was not presented with a formal complaint.

Later, Khaled said, a complaint was made – he believed from Abbas’ office – claiming Muhammad Sabawi had insulted the president.

From refugee to businessman

Muhammad Sabawi was born in the village of Salama, near Jaffa, in 1944, and he and his family fled to Gaza during the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

A student in Egypt in 1967, he was unable to return to Gaza when it was occupied by Israel in June that year. With a doctorate in risk management, Muhammad Sabawi went to Kuwait to begin his career and then emigrated to London, Ontario, Canada in 1987.

Muhammad Sabawi founded Ahlia Insurance Group in 1995, a publicly listed company with branches throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. He also founded Union Construction and Investment (UCI), which is now run by Khaled.

UCI pioneered geothermal heating systems in Palestine. Khaled, an engineer who was active in Palestine solidarity activism during his studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada, also runs a company called TABO, which aims to buy, register and subdivide plots of land. It then offers the plots to Palestinians with interest-free loans.

Most land traditionally owned and used by Palestinians in the West Bank is not registered,due to a 1968 Israeli military order halting land registration.

This has been used as a pretext by Israel to seize land for settlement, claiming that it is “state land.” Khaled describes TABO – which is for profit – as an effort to protect the land and place it in the hands of Palestinians who will use it.

Khaled told The Electronic Intifada that his company’s lawyer was informed by the general manager of the Palestinian Lands Authority today that all of TABO’s registration activities had been placed “under review.”

Khaled said he saw this as the first of a number of retaliatory measures that the PA would likely take.

Unbowed, he posted this status on his Facebook page this evening:

The PA leadership quivers in their collective boots every time a Tweet, Facebook [message], or article is published that uncovers more examples of their corruption, cronyism, nepotism and sheer ineptitude. This arrest was an attempt to humiliate my father – an independent investor who employs hundreds of Palestinians and has invested in renewable energy and expanding property rights for Palestinians. What the unelected, cynical, and morally bankrupt cronies in Mahmoud Abbas’s office don’t realize is that they just completely humiliated themselves and that this issue has made us stronger, more vigilant, and with your help, given us a bigger microphone.

Wattan TV reported that repeated requests for comment from the Palestinian Authority about the arrest of Sabawi went unanswered.

(Source / 03.12.2013)

Yasser Arafat, late Palestinian leader, did not die of poisoning, French tests conclude

Yasser Arafat’s widow Suha Arafat, who has argued her husband’s death was a political assassination, immediately challenged the French forensic tests.

 Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says goodbye to well-wishers as he boards a Jordanian army helicopter at dawn at the Muqatta, his West Bank offices in Ramallah in 2004.

Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says goodbye to well-wishers as he boards a Jordanian army helicopter at dawn at the Muqatta, his West Bank offices in Ramallah in 2004.

Yasser Arafat was not the victim of poisoning, French forensic tests concluded on Tuesday, countering the theory put forward by a Swiss report on the 2004 death of the Palestinian leader.

The French conclusions were immediately challenged by his widow Suha Arafat, who has argued the death was a political assassination by someone close to her husband. A senior Palestinian official dismissed the report as “politicized”.

(Source / 03.12.2013)

Syria: Aid to Besieged Areas Being Blocked

  • Residents carry buckets as they wait for their turn to receive meals from a soup kitchen in Raqqa, Syria on October 7, 2013.

    People in Syria are desperate for food, shelter and health care. Access to besieged communities is a litmus test for real change in the relief effort, and the Security Council should make clear that Syria is failing that test.

(New York) – Syrian government and some opposition forces are preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of civilians in areas under siege in Syria. Local activists and residents in the Damascus countryside and Homs told Human Rights Watch in phone interviews that people are suffering from an increasingly severe shortage of food and that people are dying from lack of medical care because of the siege.

The United Nations humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, is to brief the UN Security Council on December 3, 2013, on the humanitarian situation in Syria. The Security Council should adopt a resolution demanding access for humanitarian organizations to deliver aid such as food and medicine to the besieged areas.

“People in Syria are desperate for food, shelter and health care,” said Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director at Human Rights Watch. “Access to besieged communities is a litmus test for real change in the relief effort, and the Security Council should make clear that Syria is failing that test.”

The Security Council issued a non-binding presidential statement on the humanitarian situation on October 2, calling on all sides to facilitate access. Humanitarian organizations have reported that the Syrian government has removed some bureaucratic obstacles but continues to bar access. The Security Council should ratchet up the pressure by adopting a binding resolution and making clear that failure to abide by it will result in targeted sanctions.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 11 local activists and residents from the Old City of Homs, Damascus, and in towns in the Damascus countryside, including Moadamiya, Douma, Yalda, Yarmouk, and Erbin.

The activists and residents said that the Syrian government has for months laid siege to their areas, cutting electricity and communications and preventing food, medicine, and aid workers from reaching civilians in need. Residents from south Damascus, Moadamiya, and Eastern Ghouta said that government forces have tightened the siege in the last several months. A member of the local council in Eastern Ghouta told Human Rights Watch:

Government forces sometimes allowed some people to leave and bring back food and other supplies through a checkpoint in Yarmouk as long as they did not use their cars. Several months ago, however, the soldiers sealed off the checkpoint completely, preventing people from bringing anything in. Since then we have had no bread at all.

International humanitarian organizations told Human Rights Watch that the Syrian government has denied them access to the besieged areas despite repeated requests.

In a briefing to the Security Council on November 1, Amos estimated that 288,000 people were in areas under government siege in Damascus, the Damascus countryside, and Homs.

Local activists and residents in besieged areas told Human Rights Watch that they are experiencing severe food shortages as a result of these restrictions. One local activist in Moadamiya told Human Rights Watch:

The only food we have left is olives, some basic vegetables, and we eat the leaves off the trees. Sometimes we cook soup using some of the vegetables, add salt and pepper and olive oil, but it tastes like nothing and it provides little nutrition. This has been the situation since August when all of Moadamiya ran out of food.

People’s faces are yellow because of malnutrition and all of us have lost a lot of weight. I myself lost about 17 kilograms in the last four months. We start to feel cold very quickly. We can’t fight the low temperatures. That is now one more enemy for us – the cold. It is a terrifying situation. It is a race against time.

While some of the besieged areas contain or are adjacent to farmland, planting and harvesting have become increasingly dangerous because government forces attack anybody they see in the farmlands, the people interviewed told Human Rights Watch. Some said they had lost significant weight because of food shortages.

The medical situation is also dire, local activists and medical personnel said. In some of the besieged areas, government shelling has destroyed local hospitals, forcing medical personnel to treat patients in improvised field clinics. A local activist said that shelling destroyed three hospitals in Moadamiya, for example, and that medical workers were treating all patients in a field clinic in a basement.

Medical workers and local activists in the besieged area told Human Rights Watch that the blockade had prevented them from receiving medicines and medical supplies for months and that they had run out of many basic medical supplies crucial for treating patients, such as blood, antibiotics, bandages, and anesthetics.

It is impossible to verify these accounts because the government has prevented independent human rights observers and humanitarian organizations from accessing the areas.

It is not clear to what extent civilians are being prevented from leaving conflict areas. Civilians have managed to flee some areas under siege and it seems to be possible for civilians to leave at least some areas through government checkpoints. In October, for example, thousands fled Moadamiya, a Damascus suburb under government siege, during a negotiated cease-fire.

But local activists and residents cited several cases in which government forces at checkpoints surrounding Moadamiya, Eastern Ghouta, and the Old City in Homs harassed, attacked, and detained people trying to leave, in particular targeting men of fighting age.

Residents in Yarmouk and the Old City of Homs said that opposition fighters have also restricted the ability of civilians to flee these areas. Others said that the main obstacle to leaving was ongoing fighting. In many cases, people said they do not have financial means to leave their homes and go live somewhere else.

Outside of the besieged areas, the government also refuses to allow humanitarian organizations to deliver aid from Turkey to opposition-controlled areas in northern Syria. Without Syrian consent to enter, some of the major humanitarian organizations, including UN agencies, take unreliable, circuitous routes to reach people in need, sometimes crossing dozens of checkpoints. The UN estimates that 2.5 million people are trapped in such “hard-to-reach” areas.

The Syrian government recently stated that it would allow cross-border aid from Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, but not from Turkey.Even this “permission” may not improve the efficacy of humanitarian aid delivery, Human Rights Watch said, since the Syrian government still seems to insist  that organizations bring all aid first to Damascus before they distribute it to other parts of the country.

Opposition fighters in northern Syria are preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching tens of thousands of people trapped in two Shia villages just north of the city of Aleppo, the UN has reported. Human Rights Watch was not able to reach any residents of those villages.

Inside Aleppo, which is split between government and opposition control, opposition fighters have from time to time prevented supplies from reaching the government-controlled area. Anti-government groups have also kidnapped aid workers, including employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross, three of whom they still hold.

Under international humanitarian law, all parties to an armed conflict are obligated to facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need. Starvation as a method of warfare is prohibited.

“As winter weather sets in, the situation in besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria becomes even more dire, and people are becoming desperate,” Bolopion said. “There is no time for delay.”

(Source / 03.12.2013)

Live: Nasrallah speaks to OTV

Nasrallah. (AFP/Hezbollah Press Office)

BEIRUT – Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah discusses the latest political developments in a Tuesday evening interview with OTV:

The Iran nuclear deal has significant repercussions.

The region’s peoples are the biggest winners from this deal because regional and international forces have been pushing for war with Iran which would have had dangerous repercussions in the region.

The deal pushed off the [potential Israeli and US] war [against Iran].

Israel cannot possibly bomb nuclear facilities without the US’ green light.

Monopoly of power is no longer present.

All American wars have failed.

John Kerry made it clear that the US does not want more wars.

The US and Europe have failed in the region.

I have information that the US wanted to discuss non-nuclear issues with Iran, but Iran insisted the talks would remain just on the nuclear issue.

It is too early for Iran to head toward normalization with the US because there are many outstanding issues.

Iranians wanted to reassure the Gulf countries that the deal was not agreed upon at their expense.

Iran has for years sought to open the door for the dialogue with Saudi Arabia, but all attempts failed.

Saudi Arabia treats Iran as an enemy.

The Saudis have proxy wars with Iran inside Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia’s problem with Iran is not sectarian-based.

Saudi Arabia considers itself as the leader of the Arab and Islamic worlds.

The problem is political.

I have met with a Qatari delegation.

Qatar took a good initiative concerning the abducted pilgrims. This initiative reopened the doors between us.

A link has always been there between us and Qatar.

A military solution in Syria is crazy, therefore I call on all countries to help reach a political solution.

Contact between Hezbollah and Turkey has never ceased.

The Turks have lost a great deal. There is tension now between it and Syria, Iran, Egypt… and that has impacted it internally.

The Palestinian situation doesn’t seem to have a [positive] horizon.

Iran is the first regional country [in importance].

They discuss issues with us and coordinate with us.

If March 14’s relation with KSA was the same as ours with Iran there would have been no problem in Lebanon because Iran does not interfere in internal political issues, unlike Saudi Arabia.

We do not [seek counsel from] Iran or take permission from them regarding domestic Lebanese issues.

Iran took what it wanted in the nuclear deal.

This deal does not negatively affect Lebanon or Syria.

Our stance on Syria [changed] gradually.

Before we took an official stance, the Syrian opposition started threatening us.

We had no direct contact with the opposition.

Assad was ready for dialogue and reforms. On the other hand, regional countries and parties said there was no need for dialogue because the uprising would end quickly.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey wanted to overthrow the regime militarily.

When regime troops had to leave towns from Al-Qusayr where Lebanese resided, the residents came to us. They decided to fight for their land.

The Lebanese state did not help the Lebanese living there and left the border open.

We trained them and armed them. The residents of these towns were the first to fight, not Hezbollah fighters.

In May 2013, only a few months ago, those Lebanese had no more capacity to defend themselves.

The towns inhabited by the Lebanese [called] on Hezbollah to intervene militarily and openly. Who invited Hezbollah to intervene militarily and openly is the towns inhabited by Lebanese citizens.

The destruction of the Sayyida Zeinab Shrine [in southern Damascus] could have led to a sectarian war in the region. We sent 40 to 50 fighters to Sayyida Zeinab.

We had to increase the number of fighters [in Syria] after a while.

I am 100% convinced about my stance.

We did not enter Syria upon the request of Iran. It was our decision.

The Syrian army was faced with war in most areas.

Hundreds of thousands of foreign fighters were brought to fight in Syria.

The Syrian army did not abandon Maalula.

If we withdraw from Syria, from Qusayr and Qalamoun, then the border would fall in the hands of the armed groups. Car bombs will target all of Lebanon, not only Dahiyeh.

We are protecting Lebanon.

If Syria falls into the hands of these armed groups, what will be Lebanon’s fate?

We intervened militarily when the revolution was stolen [by the Takfiris].

What are March 14’s guarantees? What guarantees can you give to the Lebanese if Syria falls into the hands of the armed groups?

Saad Hariri and Okab Saqr are financing, arming and sending fighters to Syria.

Some of the armed groups in Syria are not under the control of any country.

Syrians are fighting in Syria, we are not fighting for them.

There are no [Hezbollah] fighters in Daraa, al-Soueida, Raqqa, or Hasaka.

We are present in Damascus, Homs, and areas near the border.

There are no Iranian fighters in Syria or else the UN would have interfered.

In Qalamoun, the Syrian army is fighting. Hezbollah’s participation is minimal.

Our presence in Syria is important.

March 14 media exaggerates the number of Hezbollah martyrs.

The number of our martyrs since the beginning of our involvement has not reached the hundreds.

Considering the size of our involvement and our victories, we have less martyrs than we expected.

The English, French and others give arms to Arab countries who in turn give them to the fighters.

Countries are reconsidering their stances.

Regional countries are feeling a threat.

Saudi Arabia is still insisting on fighting until the last drop of blood. I expect tough confrontation until January 22 [the scheduled date of Geneva Ii] to either show the [Syrian regime] army as weak or to cancel Geneva II.

I do not know if Geneva II will take place because there are parties working on disrupting it.

Before our intervention in Syria there were clashes in Tripoli.

Tripoli is an issue on its own.

If Hezbollah did not fight in Syria, there would have been a civil war in Lebanon and hundreds of car bombs.

We did damage control and diminished the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon.

The bombings targeting the Iranian embassy [in Beirut] is related to targeting Iran, not Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria.

Saudi intelligence is managing and operating Al-Qaeda-linked organizations.

I believe the Abdullah Azzam Brigades blew up the [Iranian] embassy in Beirut, and I am convinced that Saudi intelligence [supports] the group.

Bombings in Iraq are financed and operated by Saudi intelligence.

Some of these groups [such as Al-Qaeda] are in contact with Saudi intelligence.

Saudi Arabia holds Iran responsible for the failure of its projects in the region.

Any explosion that targets civilians is condemnable. We condemned the Tripoli bombings.

There was no evidence on Sheikhs Gharib and Menqara’s involvement in the bombings.

Ali Eid was not proven to be responsible for the bombings. His driver was accused of being involved.

The bombings were used for political accusations.

The situation in Tripoli is very dangerous, but the state can resolve the situation.

The ISF has been financing and arming fighters for the past 3-4 years.

March 14 is responsible for what happens in Tripoli.

The solution is the creation of a crisis cell and a dialogue table for all concerned parties.

The 9-9-6 formula preserves everyone’s rights.

Most March 14 leaders approve of this formula but Saudi Arabia asked them not to form a cabinet.

Nobody consulted us for the designation of Tammam Salam. We just approved it.

We approved the 9-9-6- formula though our parliamentary size is larger than that. They [March 14] are disrupting the formation of the cabinet.

March 14 cannot consider the parliament extension of it’s own term as vacuum because they voted for it.

We favor holding presidential elections on time.

We want timely elections and are ready to help in any way to make that happen.

I want our party to adopt a candidate clearly.

We favor holding a dialogue.

[With respect to the] USJ clash: Hezbollah did not pay a penny for students to study at USJ.

I do not accept any offense against any Lebanese symbol.

At USJ, they were [targeting] the FPM, not Hezbollah.

If the writer of the symbol (“Chartouni” on the wall of the university) turns out to be a Hezbollah member, I pledge to deliver him to the authorities.

We do not want to take over USJ.

We do not have a project bigger than Lebanon.

(Source / 03.12.2013)

Israel approves new town in Negev

BEERSHEBA (Ma’an) — The Israeli planning and building committee on Tuesday approved the construction of a new town in the Negev, as the state continues to implement the Prawer plan to displace the Bedouin population.

Shizaf will be part of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, and it will include 250 housing units for young couples, the Ministry of Interior announced.

Ramat head Shmulik Rifman praised the decision and thanked the minister of interior, “who understood the importance of establishing this town which will house religious and secular Jews.”

He added: “We hope to start construction two years from today.”

(Source / 03.12.2013)

Wake up John Kerry, a global intifada is erupting

John Kerry, seen with Benjamin Netanyahu, has an opportunity to help lay the ground for a just future.

On page 220 of My Traitor’s Heart, by South African journalist Rian Malan, there is a passage that John Kerry needs to read. In this passage Malan talks about “South Africa’s month of destiny.”

It is 12 June 1986 and South African President P.W. Botha is calling for war. Malan describes him as “wagging his authoritarian finger,” “speaking in Afrikaans to Afrikaners.”

“There comes a time,” Botha says in a statement broadcast on national television, “when a nation must choose between war and a dishonorable, fearful peace, and we have arrived at that point.”

In describing what led Botha to declare this war, Malan writes: “His policies had set the stage for a black rebellion, and his ruthless attempts to quell it had triggered a furious outcry in the outside world. He had lost the battle for world opinion, and he was losing the fight to stave off sanctions. He was even losing his right wing.

“Fractious right-wing elements were forming vigilante groups, demanding shoot-on-site curfews and throwing government supporters through plate glass windows at stormy rallies. The white right wanted their government to unglove the iron fist and put blacks in their place, once and for all.”

If we could look into a crystal ball and see five or seven years from now, we would see an older Benjamin Netanyahu still a prime minister trying to hold on. In a televised appearance, he would warn Palestinians to beware the true might of the state of Israel. He would warn them not to mess with the Jewish state, not to tempt fate and fight the descendants of the Maccabees and the Zealots of Masada.

Unaware?

By then there will be a solid Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. A UN report from August 2012 predicts that by 2020 an additional 500,000 people will be living in Gaza alone, bringing the population of the Strip to 2.1 million people.

If US Secretary of State John Kerry had any sense he would act now to avert a looming disaster. He would lay the groundwork to a peaceful transition of power from the exclusive Jewish-Zionist regime to a democratically elected government that represents all people living in Palestine/Israel.

He would explain to the current Israeli regime that it is time to free all political prisoners, lift the siege on Gaza and plan for free and fair elections where all Palestinians and Israelis vote as equals, one person one vote. Kerry would explain that voting districts should be created, so that elected officials will be answerable to their constituents and that the entire political structure needs to be amended to accommodate the new reality of a bi-national, democratic state of Palestine/Israel.

Perhaps John Kerry doesn’t realize that a global intifada is already underway.

That the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel is growing in popularity and its successes are encouraging and bolstering its support; that pro-Palestinian student groups on campuses in the US and elsewhere are growing and becoming bolder and more influential; that churches in the US are organizing tours to the holy land, not for the sake of pilgrimage to holy sites, but rather to help the Palestinian cause; that the debate on a single democracy has gone from “if” to “how” and “how soon.”

Perhaps John Kerry isn’t aware that Palestinian youth are no longer interested in a small state in what used to be the West Bank.

Dead negotiations

Popular resistance in the West Bank and Gaza is growing in popularity and demanding a free Palestine, not just a free West Bank. Palestinians in Israel identify with the larger Palestinian cause, carry Palestinian flags and no longer refer to themselves as “Israeli Arabs” — a term coined by Israel to strip them of their identity.

Perhaps Kerry doesn’t know that “occupied Palestine” refers once again to the occupation that began in 1948 and Palestinians demand their right to live and work, study, travel and return to every part of Palestine.

Someone should tell John Kerry that a free, democratic Palestine, with equal rights will not only free Palestinians, it will also free Israelis. Their prime minster may be a Palestinian and their children will go to school with Palestinian children and everyone will be better off.

Someone ought to suggest to John Kerry that rather than beat the dead horse of negotiations between an uncompromising, brutally racist Israeli government and a defunctPalestinian Authority, he can actually do something good and bring about change. We can avoid the uncertainty, the potential for greater violence and suffering.

Rian Malan’s book ends prior to the fall of apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela. But we know how apartheid in South Africa ended. On 2 February 1990, F.W. De Klerk announced the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the African National Congress, the Pan Africanist Congress and the South African Communist Party.

Now, as we look into our crystal ball, we may see an older and more weary Netanyahu, or perhaps a younger, fresher, though no less Zionist Israeli politician, forced to announce the release of Palestinian political prisoners and the unbanning of all Palestinian political parties in preparation for the establishment of a new democratic state in Palestine.

(Source / 03.12.2013)