Haneyya: Our only enemy is the occupation

 

GAZA, (PIC)– Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haneyya stressed that the occupation is the only enemy of the Palestinian security services in Gaza.

This came during a speech delivered by Haneyya at the end of a military parade by Gaza security services on Monday afternoon in the west of Gaza City, on the fifth anniversary of the war on Gaza and the death of the former interior minister MP Said Siyam.

Haneyya stressed that Palestine has only one enemy that is the Israeli occupation, and that after 7 years of blockade and 5 years of war, the security services became more committed to the Palestinian constants and more determined to achieve independence and liberate Jerusalem.

For his part, Fathi Hamad, the Minister of Interior and National Security, said during a speech at the military parade that the security forces will not abandon its responsibilities to protect the resistance and the home front.

He stressed that “the Interior Ministry will remain the protector of the Arab and Islamic nation,” and demanded the security agencies to always be ready to serve the people and protect the resistance.

(Source / 15.01.2014)

Closure of tunnels deprives Gaza of $230 million per month, says government

A Palestinian works in a tunnel flooded by the Egyptian army, under the Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, 10 September 2013.

GAZA CITY (IPS) – The border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip used to buzz with activity until a few months back as traders brought in an array of Egyptian goods — from food supplies to raw material — through hundreds of tunnels. But these underground structures between Rafah in Gaza and Sinai in Egypt, have fallen silent.

Things came to a grinding halt after the Egyptian army came to power in July last year. Calling them a security threat, it launched a systematic military campaign against the tunnels, destroying them, along with the houses under which they were built on its side of the border.

For the 1.7 million people in Gaza, the closure of the tunnels has choked a lifeline. Thousands of tunnel operators, traders and workers have been hard hit.

“Never before have we faced this kind of pressure from the Egyptian army and, it seems, things are going to get worse,” said Abu Nabil, a Gaza resident who gave only his nickname for security reasons.

He had operated a tunnel on the Palestinian side since 2007. Nabil said more than 90 percent of the passages, most of which are privately operated, have been destroyed by the Egyptian military, completely paralyzing trade through the tunnels.

Jobless

He used to employ twenty workers in his tunnel. They would transport goods, food supplies, electronic equipment and construction material from Egypt to Gaza. Now these employees — among an estimated 20,000 tunnel workers — are jobless.

The tunnel area stretches more than eight kilometers along the border. It is not open to the public, except with permission from the ruling Hamas party in Gaza. It is monitored by Hamas security forces on the Palestinian side.

While the Egyptian army has established a buffer zone of 500 meters along the border and set up security checkpoints, operators are trying to find a way out. Nabil is trying to extend the length of his tunnel so that it can bypass the buffer zone.

But problems are set to persist as, for the Egyptian authorities, the tunnel trade is illegal.

Egyptian military spokesperson, Colonel Ahmed Mohammad, said: “The tunnels are used to smuggle militants and radical groups that threaten Egyptian national security. They should be destroyed.” The authorities in Egypt also point out that goods sent into Gaza through the tunnels do not carry a legal stamp or tax.

Suffocating

But it’s a different story in Gaza, where the Hamas-run administration recognizes the tunnel trade.

Alaa Alrafati, minister of economy in the Hamas government, said that the closure of tunnels was causing a loss of $230 million every month and suffocating around 1,000 factories and industrial units that were dependent on raw material coming through the tunnels. Alrafati said the authorities in Egypt and Gaza needed to come to an understanding.

“The government in Gaza is prepared to close down all tunnels on the Palestinian side if an official alternative route can be made available with Egypt to address Gaza’s need for commercial goods and construction material,” he said.

He said leading figures in the Hamas administration “are interested in developing relations with Egypt.” The tunnels flourished as they were free of restrictions and represented a way out of the Israeli siege on Gaza.

Some studies indicate that the tunnel trade was worth $1 billion a year.

Professor Sameer Abu-Mdalla, dean of the economics faculty at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said that the total number of tunnels before 2006 was sixty, but following a blockade by Israel in 2007 and the closure of border crossings, the number mushroomed to about 1,000.

He said the tunnels helped meet 60 percent of Gaza’s needs for raw materials and other goods.

Legitimized

Abu-Mdalla said destruction of the tunnels could push the unemployment rate up in the Gaza Strip.

He said the Hamas administration had legitimized the tunnel trade and introduced guidelines and taxes. Hence, 15 percent of the government budget came from the tunnels and other related sources.

He pointed out some negative aspects as well, however.

“For example, the tunnels did not generate development in Gaza and led to the emergence of around 800 millionaires who used the income from operating tunnels for money laundering.”

With the closure of the tunnels, however, it’s the common people of Gaza who are paying the price. Be it poverty, unemployment or isolation, it has worsened their life in every way.

(Source / 15.01.2014)

Army Invades Area Near Khan Younis

Several Israeli military vehicles carried out a limited invasion into Palestinian agricultural lands, east of Abasan town, east of the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis.

File- Israeli Tank, Shasha.ps
The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that several armored military vehicles advanced approximately 200 meters into Palestinian lands, and searched them while firing at random.

No clashes were reported prior of after the invasion, local sources said.

The army frequently carries out limited invasions into border areas in the Gaza Strip, and repeatedly bulldozes and uproots Palestinian lands.

Israeli sources claimed that a number of homemade shells were fired from Gaza, landing in the Mediterranean before the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, two days ago, and two more shells were fired into the Negev after the funeral.

Israeli Soldiers frequently target Palestinian farmers and workers in Palestinian lands close to the border fence leading to dozens of casualties.

The Israeli attacks also include frequent assaults against Palestinian fishermen and fishing boats either in Palestinian territorial waters, or even while docked at Gaza shores.

(Source / 15.01.2014)

Soldiers Raze Land Near Nablus

 Israeli bulldozers, on Wednesday, razed around 60 dunums (nearly 15 acres) of land belonging to Palestinians in the village of Jalud, south of Nablus, according to a local official.

image: Wiki Commons
Head of Jalud village council Abdullah Mohammad told the Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) that bulldozers from a nearby settlement outpost, protected by soldiers, razed around 60 dunums of land belonging to residents of the village.

He said that the settlers’ measures against residents in that area have escalated lately, and that soldiers have also prevented farmers from entering and working in their 300 dunums of land in the village.

(Source / 15.01.2014)

Israeli forces issue demolition orders to residents near Hebron

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces issued demolition notices for houses, tents, and wells in southern West Bank village on Wednesday, residents said.

Ziad Abd al-Mahdi Shalaldeh told Ma’an that residents of the village of Sueir were given until Feb. 12 to evacuate their homes in preparation for the demolitions.

The buildings slated for demolition house around 50 people, Shalaldeh said.

Demolition orders were handed to Ziad Abdul Mahdi Shalalda, Ibrahim Mustafa Shalalda, Ahmad Mohammad Mustafa Shalalda, Yassin Mohammad Mustafa Shalalda, Walid Mohammad Mustafa Shalalda, and Faris Yassin Mohammad Mustafa Shalalda.

“We have been living in these houses for many years,” he said, adding that Israel plans to expand the nearby Asfar settlement onto the land after demolishing the structures.

“We will not leave our land despite the occupation’s threats.”

In 2013, at least 1,103 Palestinians were displaced throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to UN figures.

The Israeli Civil Administration demolished more than “663 structures, including 259 residential units” in the West Bank in 2013, a UN report said in December.

Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. It has demolished at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures since occupying the West Bank in 1967, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

It is illegal under international law to demolish property in occupied territory.

(Source / 15.01.2014)

The truth about Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal

Israel has been stealing nuclear secrets and covertly making bombs since the 1950s. And western governments, including Britain and the US, turn a blind eye. But how can we expect Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions if the Israelis won’t come clean?

Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona.

Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona.

Deep beneath desert sands, an embattled Middle Eastern state has built a covert nuclear bomb, using technology and materials provided by friendly powers or stolen by a clandestine network of agents. It is the stuff of pulp thrillers and the sort of narrative often used to characterise the worst fears about the Iranian nuclear programme. In reality, though, neither US nor British intelligence believe Tehran has decided to build a bomb, and Iran‘s atomic projects are under constant international monitoring.

The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story, though. It’s just one that applies to another country. In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par with India and Pakistan – and even tested a bomb nearly half a century ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing.

Despite the fact that the Israel’s nuclear programme has been an open secret since a disgruntled technician, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the whistle on it in 1986, the official Israeli position is still never to confirm or deny its existence.

When the former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo last month, declaring Israeli possession of both nuclear and chemical weapons and describing the official non-disclosure policy as “outdated and childish” a rightwing group formally called for a police investigation for treason.

Meanwhile, western governments have played along with the policy of “opacity” by avoiding all mention of the issue. In 2009, when a veteran Washington reporter, Helen Thomas, asked Barack Obama in the first month of his presidency if he knew of any country in the Middle East withnuclear weapons, he dodged the trapdoor by saying only that he did not wish to “speculate”.

UK governments have generally followed suit. Asked in the House of Lords in November about Israeli nuclear weapons, Baroness Warsianswered tangentially. “Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We have regular discussions with the government of Israel on a range of nuclear-related issues,” the minister said. “The government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT].”

But through the cracks in this stone wall, more and more details continue to emerge of how Israel built its nuclear weapons from smuggled parts and pilfered technology.

The tale serves as a historical counterpoint to today’s drawn-out struggle over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The parallels are not exact – Israel, unlike Iran, never signed up to the 1968 NPT so could not violate it. But it almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting the traffic in nuclear materials and technology.

The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft, include today’s staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway.

Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.Meanwhile, Israeli agents charged with buying fissile material and state-of-the-art technology found their way into some of the most sensitive industrial establishments in the world. This daring and remarkably successful spy ring, known as Lakam, the Hebrew acronym for the innocuous-sounding Science Liaison Bureau, included such colourful figures as Arnon Milchan, a billionaire Hollywood producer behind such hits as Pretty Woman, LA Confidential and 12 Years a Slave, who finally admitted his role last month.

“Do you know what it’s like to be a twentysomething-year-old kid [and] his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting,” he said in an Israeli documentary.

Milchan’s life story is colourful, and unlikely enough to be the subject of one of the blockbusters he bankrolls. In the documentary, Robert de Niro recalls discussing Milchan’s role in the illicit purchase of nuclear-warhead triggers. “At some point I was asking something about that, being friends, but not in an accusatory way. I just wanted to know,” De Niro says. “And he said: yeah I did that. Israel’s my country.”

Milchan was not shy about using Hollywood connections to help his shadowy second career. At one point, he admits in the documentary, he used the lure of a visit to actor Richard Dreyfuss’s home to get a top US nuclear scientist, Arthur Biehl, to join the board of one of his companies.

According to Milchan’s biography, by Israeli journalists Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, he was recruited in 1965 by Israel’s current president, Shimon Peres, who he met in a Tel Aviv nightclub (called Mandy’s, named after the hostess and owner’s wife Mandy Rice-Davies, freshly notorious for her role in the Profumo sex scandal). Milchan, who then ran the family fertiliser company, never looked back, playing a central role in Israel’s clandestine acquisition programme.

He was responsible for securing vital uranium-enrichment technology, photographing centrifuge blueprints that a German executive had been bribed into temporarily “mislaying” in his kitchen. The same blueprints, belonging to the European uranium enrichment consortium, Urenco, were stolen a second time by a Pakistani employee, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who used them to found his country’s enrichment programme and to set up a global nuclear smuggling business, selling the design to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

For that reason, Israel’s centrifuges are near-identical to Iran’s, a convergence that allowed Israeli to try out a computer worm, codenamed Stuxnet, on its own centrifuges before unleashing it on Iran in 2010.

Arguably, Lakam’s exploits were even more daring than Khan’s. In 1968, it organised the disappearance of an entire freighter full of uranium ore in the middle of the Mediterranean. In what became known as the Plumbat affair, the Israelis used a web of front companies to buy a consignment of uranium oxide, known as yellowcake, in Antwerp. The yellowcake was concealed in drums labelled “plumbat”, a lead derivative, and loaded onto a freighter leased by a phony Liberian company. The sale was camouflaged as a transaction between German and Italian companies with help from German officials, reportedly in return for an Israeli offer to help the Germans with centrifuge technology.

When the ship, the Scheersberg A, docked in Rotterdam, the entire crew was dismissed on the pretext that the vessel had been sold and an Israeli crew took their place. The ship sailed into the Mediterranean where, under Israeli naval guard, the cargo was transferred to another vessel.

US and British documents declassified last year also revealed a previously unknown Israeli purchase of about 100 tons of yellowcake from Argentina in 1963 or 1964, without the safeguards typically used in nuclear transactions to prevent the material being used in weapons.

Israel had few qualms about proliferating nuclear weapons knowhow and materials, giving South Africa’s apartheid regime help in developing its own bomb in the 1970s in return for 600 tons of yellowcake.

Pictures of the secret Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel, showing where the plant has allegedly been Pictures of the secret Dimona nuclear reactor in Israel, showing where the plant has allegedly been camouflaged.Israel’s nuclear reactor also required deuterium oxide, also known as heavy water, to moderate the fissile reaction. For that, Israel turned to Norway and Britain. In 1959, Israel managed to buy 20 tons of heavy water that Norway had sold to the UK but was surplus to requirements for the British nuclear programme. Both governments were suspicious that the material would be used to make weapons, but decided to look the other way. In documents seen by the BBC in 2005 British officials argued it would be “over-zealous” to impose safeguards. For its part, Norway carried out only one inspection visit, in 1961.

Israel’s nuclear-weapons project could never have got off the ground, though, without an enormous contribution from France. The country that took the toughest line on counter-proliferation when it came to Iran helped lay the foundations of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, driven by by a sense of guilt over letting Israel down in the 1956 Suez conflict, sympathy from French-Jewish scientists, intelligence-sharing over Algeria and a drive to sell French expertise and abroad.

“There was a tendency to try to export and there was a general feeling of support for Israel,” Andre Finkelstein, a former deputy commissioner at France’s Atomic Energy Commissariat and deputy director general at the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Avner Cohen, an Israeli-American nuclear historian.

France’s first reactor went critical as early as 1948 but the decision to build nuclear weapons seems to have been taken in 1954, after Pierre Mendès France made his first trip to Washington as president of the council of ministers of the chaotic Fourth Republic. On the way back he told an aide: “It’s exactly like a meeting of gangsters. Everyone is putting his gun on the table, if you have no gun you are nobody. So we must have a nuclear programme.”

Mendès France gave the order to start building bombs in December 1954. And as it built its arsenal, Paris solds material assistance to other aspiring weapons states, not just Israel.

“[T]his went on for many, many years until we did some stupid exports, including Iraq and the reprocessing plant in Pakistan, which was crazy,” Finkelstein recalled in an interview that can now be read in a collection of Cohen’s papers at the Wilson Centre thinktank in Washington. “We have been the most irresponsible country on nonproliferation.”

In Dimona, French engineers poured in to help build Israel a nuclear reactor and a far more secret reprocessing plant capable of separating plutonium from spent reactor fuel. This was the real giveaway that Israel’s nuclear programme was aimed at producing weapons.

By the end of the 50s, there were 2,500 French citizens living in Dimona, transforming it from a village to a cosmopolitan town, complete with French lycées and streets full of Renaults, and yet the whole endeavour was conducted under a thick veil of secrecy. The American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his book The Samson Option: “French workers at Dimona were forbidden to write directly to relatives and friends in France and elsewhere, but sent mail to a phony post-office box in Latin America.”

The British were kept out of the loop, being told at different times that the huge construction site was a desert grasslands research institute and a manganese processing plant. The Americans, also kept in the dark by both Israel and France, flew U2 spy planes over Dimona in an attempt to find out what they were up to.

The Israelis admitted to having a reactor but insisted it was for entirely peaceful purposes. The spent fuel was sent to France for reprocessing, they claimed, even providing film footage of it being supposedly being loaded onto French freighters. Throughout the 60s it flatly denied the existence of the underground reprocessing plant in Dimona that was churning out plutonium for bombs.

Producer Arnon Milchan with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the premiere of Mr and Mrs Smith.Producer Arnon Milchan with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the premiere of Mr and Mrs Smith.Israel refused to countenance visits by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), so in the early 1960s President Kennedy demanded they accept American inspectors. US physicists were dispatched to Dimona but were given the run-around from the start. Visits were never twice-yearly as had been agreed with Kennedy and were subject to repeated postponements. The US physicists sent to Dimona were not allowed to bring their own equipment or collect samples. The lead American inspector, Floyd Culler, an expert on plutonium extraction, noted in his reports that there were newly plastered and painted walls in one of the buildings. It turned out that before each American visit, the Israelis had built false walls around the row of lifts that descended six levels to the subterranean reprocessing plant.

As more and more evidence of Israel’s weapons programme emerged, the US role progressed from unwitting dupe to reluctant accomplice. In 1968 the CIA director Richard Helms told President Johnson that Israel had indeed managed to build nuclear weapons and that its air force had conducted sorties to practise dropping them.

The timing could not have been worse. The NPT, intended to prevent too many nuclear genies from escaping from their bottles, had just been drawn up and if news broke that one of the supposedly non-nuclear-weapons states had secretly made its own bomb, it would have become a dead letter that many countries, especially Arab states, would refuse to sign.

The Johnson White House decided to say nothing, and the decision was formalised at a 1969 meeting between Richard Nixon and Golda Meir, at which the US president agreed to not to pressure Israel into signing the NPT, while the Israeli prime minister agreed her country would not be the first to “introduce” nuclear weapons into the Middle East and not do anything to make their existence public.

In fact, US involvement went deeper than mere silence. At a meeting in 1976 that has only recently become public knowledge, the CIA deputy director Carl Duckett informed a dozen officials from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the agency suspected some of the fissile fuel in Israel’s bombs was weapons-grade uranium stolen under America’s nose from a processing plant in Pennsylvania.

Not only was an alarming amount of fissile material going missing at the company, Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (Numec), but it had been visited by a veritable who’s-who of Israeli intelligence, including Rafael Eitan, described by the firm as an Israeli defence ministry “chemist”, but, in fact, a top Mossad operative who went on to head Lakam.

“It was a shock. Everyody was open-mouthed,” recalls Victor Gilinsky, who was one of the American nuclear officials briefed by Duckett. “It was one of the most glaring cases of diverted nuclear material but the consequences appeared so awful for the people involved and for the US than nobody really wanted to find out what was going on.”

The investigation was shelved and no charges were made.

A few years later, on 22 September 1979, a US satellite, Vela 6911, detected the double-flash typical of a nuclear weapon test off the coast of South Africa. Leonard Weiss, a mathematician and an expert on nuclear proliferation, was working as a Senate advisor at the time and after being briefed on the incident by US intelligence agencies and the country’s nuclear weapons laboratories, he became convinced a nuclear test, in contravention to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, had taken place.

It was only after both the Carter and then the Reagan administrations attempted to gag him on the incident and tried to whitewash it with an unconvincing panel of enquiry, that it dawned on Weiss that it was the Israelis, rather than the South Africans, who had carried out the detonation.

“I was told it would create a very serious foreign policy issue for the US, if I said it was a test. Someone had let something off that US didn’t want anyone to know about,” says Weiss.

Israeli sources told Hersh the flash picked up by the Vela satellite was actually the third of a series of Indian Ocean nuclear tests that Israel conducted in cooperation with South Africa.

“It was a fuck-up,” one source told him. “There was a storm and we figured it would block Vela, but there was a gap in the weather – a window – and Vela got blinded by the flash.”

The US policy of silence continues to this day, even though Israel appears to be continuing to trade on the nuclear black market, albeit at much reduced volumes. In a paper on the illegal trade in nuclear material and technology published in October, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) noted: “Under US pressure in the 1980s and early 1990s, Israel … decided to largely stop its illicit procurement for its nuclear weapons programme. Today, there is evidence that Israel may still make occasional illicit procurements – US sting operations and legal cases show this.”

Avner Cohen, the author of two books on Israel’s bomb, said that policy of opacity in both Israel and in Washington is kept in place now largely by inertia. “At the political level, no one wants to deal with it for fear of opening a Pandora’s box. It has in many ways become a burden for the US, but people in Washington, all the way up to Obama will not touch it, because of the fear it could compromise the very basis of the Israeli-US understanding.”

In the Arab world and beyond, there is growing impatience with the skewed nuclear status quo. Egypt in particular has threatened to walk out of the NPT unless there is progress towards creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. The western powers promised to stage a conference on the proposal in 2012 but it was called off, largely at America’s behest, to reduce the pressure on Israel to attend and declare its nuclear arsenal.

“Somehow the kabuki goes on,” Weiss says. “If it is admitted Israel has nuclear weapons at least you can have an honest discussion. It seems to me it’s very difficult to get a resolution of the Iran issue without being honest about that.”

(Source / 15.01.2014)

Children burned with cigarettes by Israeli soldiers in illegal settlement

Israeli soldiers “conduct traumatic arrests of Palestinian children, often involving violence and humiliation,” says a rights group.

Three Palestinian children were allegedly burned with lit cigarettes and denied access to food, water or toilet facilities after being arrested and detained by Israeli soldiers and police in September, a new report indicates.

In separate incidents, the three children were allegedly assaulted and abused during arrest and transfer to the Ariel police station, which is located inside the illegal Ariel settlement colony in the occupied West Bank.

Defence for Children International-Palestine section (DCI-Palestine) says that:

… Israeli soldiers severely and repeatedly beat Ali S, 14, from Azzun, Hendi S, 17, from Salfit, and Mohammad A, 15, from Tulkarem after arresting them. One soldier extinguished a cigarette butt on Ali’s lip while another burned Hendi’s arm with a cigarette, according to the sworn testimonies of the two teenagers. Hendi and Mohammad were denied access to food, water and toilet facilities for a long period. All three of them were accused of stone throwing.

DCI-Palestine adds that it submitted ten separate complaints in 2013 over alleged abuse and “torture of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers and police,” but that in eight of the cases, “Israeli authorities failed to notify DCI-Palestine whether they had opened an investigation. The remaining two cases resulted in the military advocate-general’s decision to close the investigation due to insufficient evidence. Israeli authorities deem the refusal of victims to testify without the presence of a lawyer as insufficient evidence.”

The group cites statistics by Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization, which reports that only five percent of complaints submitted to the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division have led to an indictment.

“Traumatic arrests”

In their press release, DCI-Palestine adds:

“Israeli soldiers conduct traumatic arrests of Palestinian children, often involving violence and humiliation, to prime them to quickly confess during interrogation,” said Iyad Misk, a lawyer at DCI-Palestine. “Burning children with cigarette butts raises particular alarm that demands a prompt, transparent and impartial investigation by the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division where the abusers are held accountable.”

Israeli authorities unconditionally released Hendi and sentenced Mohammad to time served during pretrial detention. Ali remains in Israeli custody.

This marks the second time Hendi endures ill treatment this year. In late February [2013], DCI-Palestine submitted a complaint to the Police Internal Investigations Department over the abuse Hendi suffered during interrogation at Ariel police station in February.

Just last month, it was revealed that Israeli soldiers put Palestinian prisoners — including children — in outdoor cages during a brutal winter storm.

And a week ago, Israeli soldiers were caught on video kidnapping and beating Palestinian youths near the Israeli wall in occupied East Jerusalem.

Human Rights Watch recently reported that at least twice in 2013, Israeli occupation forces ambushed, shot and killed Palestinian children near schools in the West Bank for no apparent reason.

Defence for Children International-Palestine section says that there was an average of 203 children in Israeli detention during 2013, an average of 33 of whom were between 12 and 15 years old. “The most common charge is for throwing stones,” DCI-Palestine adds. “Currently 51.4 percent of Palestinian child prisoners are detained inside Israel in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

(Source / 15.01.2014)

US military hijacked by Israel since 9/11: Dr. Barrett

Israel has “hijacked” the US military as its “surrogate” since the September 11, 2001 attacks to destabilize the Middle East, says an American investigative journalist and former university lecturer.

“Israel has really hijacked the US, and used the US military as its surrogate to fight these wars and destabilize the Middle East and make the Middle East safe for Israel,” Dr. Kevin Barrett told Press TV on Wednesday.

It was all part of Benyamin Netanyahu’s 1996 “Clear Break” plan which was drafted by American neo-cons to use the US military to eradicate the Zionist regime’s enemies in the region, he explained.

The plan was put into action on 9/11 to remove governments in seven countries- Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran – over five years, Dr. Barrett said, citing retired Army General Wesley Clark.

Dr. Barrett made the comments as a report indicates that Israel and the Pentagon are the “winners” of a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill unveiled in Congress on Monday night.

The bill provides about $497 billion for the Pentagon in 2014 — about the same as in 2013. In addition, it allocates $85.2 billion for the war in Afghanistan as part of the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations (OCO), $5 billion more than requested.

The massive spending measure also authorizes $173 million in added funding for Israel’s missile systems, including nearly $34 million to improve the Arrow weapon system and $117.2 million for development of the David’s Sling short-range ballistic missile system and $22 million for an upper-tier interceptor.

“It’s really much worse than appears with this spending bill that is handing almost half a trillion dollars to the US military at a time when American taxpayers are tightening their belts,” Dr. Barrett noted.

(Source / 15.01.2014)

Assad: Saudi Arabia’s political, religious ideology “threatens the whole world”

Wahhabism is the ultra-conservative vein of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia. It has been intrinsic to Saudi's rulers since the 18th century. (AFP/File)
Wahhabism is the ultra-conservative vein of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia. It has been intrinsic to Saudi’s rulers since the 18th century.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that Saudi Arabia’s political and religious ideology of Wahhabism threatens “the whole world.”

President Assad warned during his meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of the threat posed by Wahhabi thinking to all the world, not just to the region,” Syria’s state television reported on Wednesday.

The Syrian president also called on Syrians and other people in the region to confront Wahhabismwhich jeopardizes the entire region.

“The Syrian people and some peoples in the region know how serious the threat posed by Wahhabism is, and everyone must contribute to the confrontation against it and to eradicating it from the root,” the report added.

The comments come against the backdrop of Saudi Arabia’s support for the foreign-backed militants operating in Syria.

Meanwhile, Iranian foreign minister has said his visit to Syria is aimed at helping the upcoming Geneva II conference on Syria’s crisis be successful, adding that in case the internationally-brokered peace talks bring about successful results for the Middle Eastern country, it can put an end to the killing of civilians.

On November 25, 2013, the United Nations set January 22 as the date for the Syria peace conference.

The Iranian foreign minister reiterated that the Syrian crisis should be resolved through diplomatic means only.

Zarif’s visit to Syria came as part of a regional tour which earlier took him to Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.

Syria has been gripped by a deadly conflict since 2011. According to the reports, the Western powers and their regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

(Source / 15.01.2014)

Syrian refugee children: A Lost Generation

 

MEMO Report - Syrian refugee children: A Lost GenerationAs the Syrian crisis now approaches its fourth year, there is an entire generation of children being shaped by violence, displacement and a constant absence of prospects for their future. Five million children are already affected by the war; school systems in refugee-host countries like Lebanon and Jordan report extreme overcrowding.

This week UNHCR, UNICEF and other partners launch a new campaign called “No Lost Generation” to address the issue of education and childhood in war-torn and war affected areas in the Levant region. Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, said that these children are the next generation of leaders in Syria and that education and reconciliation will bring much-needed hope for the future. The “No Lost Generation” umbrella is, with its $1 billion strategy, designed to protect the wealth of future Syria through practical ways of forming the next generation of leaders, teachers, engineers, doctors and peacemakers. The campaign is focused on expanding access to learning and psychosocial support, strengthening social cohesion and peace-building efforts, and restoring hope for the future to millions of children.

Download and read the full report by clicking here.

(Source / 15.01.2014)