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Israel blames Iran for deadly bus explosion targeting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising a strong reaction after an attack on Israeli tourists that he says was carried out by Iran.

A bus carrying mostly Israeli youth in a Bulgaria exploded near an airport Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding at least 32 others, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said. Witnesses told Israeli media that the huge blast occurred soon after someone boarded the vehicle.

A Bulgarian news agency is also reporting that two pregnant women and an 11-year-old Israeli girl are among the wounded.

Bulgarian media is reporting that one of the victims killed is a local tour guide. Nine of the tourists are reportedly still missing, according to Haaretz news.

The incident took place in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas, some 250 miles east of the capital, Sofia. Images shown on Israeli media showed smoke billowing from the scene — a parking lot at the area’s airport where tourists had apparently just landed.

Netanyahu said “all signs point to Iran.”

This “is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading across the world,” Netanyahu said. “Israel will react strongly to Iran’s terror.”

Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov told Haaretz that explosives were placed in the back of the bus.

The attack comes on the anniversary of a 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that killed 85 people. Just this morning, relatives of the victims implored the Argentine government to pressure Iran to turn over seven suspects accused in that attack.

Bulgaria, an eastern European nation, is a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

Although it was not yet certain what caused the blast, Israeli tourists have been targeted in attacks before, namely in India, Thailand and Azerbaijan. Israel foe Iran is suspected of being behind these assaults.

Another spokesman for the Israeli ministry would not confirm that it was an attack. “We don’t know if it was a terror attack,” Paul Hirschson said. “We do know it was an explosion.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Rosenzweig said a flight from Tel Aviv had landed at a quarter to 5 p.m. and that the blast took place about 40 minutes later.

The tourists were apparently boarding the bus en route to their hotels.

The airport in Burgas was closed after the blast. At least 10 fire trucks are battling flames from the explosion, police say.

Witness Gal Malka told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that she saw someone board the bus before it exploded. She also noted that the bus was full of Israeli teenagers.

Officials said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had spoken with his Bulgarian counterpart and was being kept abreast of the developments. Bulgarian leaders, including President Rosen Plevneliev were on their way to the site.

(www.foxnews.com / 18.07.2012)

Christians United For Israel: Building an Evangelical Army to Defend Zionism

Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United For Israel (CUFI), has been at the forefront of pro-Zionist propaganda and integral in the building of an evangelical army ready to defend the agenda of the Zionist movement.

CUFI is holding a two day conference to discuss the “critical decisions [that] are going to be made about Iran, Israel and the world” as they are supportive of the Obama administrations false flag assertions that Iran is hiding a nuclear program that intends to procure or produce a nuclear weapon.

Some of the speakers at the conference include:

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann

Pastor John Hagee

Senator Joseph Liberman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Steven Emerson, author and journalist

Ari Fleischer, former spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration

Sgt. Benjamin Anthony, combat veteran and reservist for Israel Defense Forces (IDF)

The IDF are the military forces for the State of Israel. However, they are involved in societal issues and influential in controlling and dissemination of propaganda by directly participating in the local economy, culture and political venues. Since 1967, the US has had close ties to the IDF with regard to developing cooperation on military technology and defense systems.

The CUFI Conference will provide training sessions that will instill pro-Zionist perspectives on the Israeli-Arab conflicts. During the “Myth and Facts: Refuting the Negative Myths About Israel” workshop, attendees will be schooled as to defending the Israeli “battlefield ethics” in regard to the mass executions of Palestinians that continues to this day. While paralleling Israeli military experts who can “reveal the truth behind the headlines and empower you to respond to Israel’s accusers with confidence” Sgt Nadav Weinberg, veteran Israeli combat solider will speak on the justification of the slow extinction of the Palestinian people on the Gaza Strip.

Educating evangelical Christians on the ins-and-outs of Christian Zionism is all important to the agenda of this conference. While the movement appears to support the Christian belief that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land (Jerusalem) will usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ (also referred to as Restorationism); the actual agenda is much more sinister.

The Globalist Zionists have used chicanery to convince the encompassing evangelical movement to dedicate their unwavering support to Israel because a Jewish return to the Land of Israel, along with the parallel idea that the Jews ought to be encouraged to become Christian, as a means fulfilling a Biblical prophecy has been common in Protestant circles since the Reformation. Yet the only event they are assisting in preserving is the creation of a One World Government.

Jewish Zionism is the primary advocate of the State of Israel and seeks to protect the movement from anti-Semitic discrimination, exclusion and persecution from other societies. By equating the Jewish people with Zionism, the global Elite have been able to hide in plain sight and become the over-reaching influence that we call by many different names. Historically, Zionism is a political credo introduced by the Rothschild family. The perfect cover of establishing a State of Israel has allowed the global Elite to use the influential power of government to advance their interests and manipulate an entire group of people for the sake of ensuring One World Government.

In support of Israeli and Zionist agendas, the Obama administration created the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB). This group is headed by Samantha Power, who is a member of Obama for America; a Blue State Digital organization that conducts surveillance on American citizens through social media sites to better market to them for the purpose of coercing them to support and ultimately vote for Obama in 2012.

Obama’s APB will monitor and seek to eradicate anti-Semitism in foreign nations in support for Israel’s schemes. The APB and Obama’s executive order called “Blocking the Property and Suspending Entry into the US of Certain Persons with Respect to Grave Human Rights Abuses by the Governments of Iran and Syria via Information Technology” will give the US government obligation to reprimand corporations on behalf of the Jewish community that use the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center (RMRAC) lobbying firm to represent them.

The CUFI are a national association that supports Israeli agendas by infiltrating “every pro-Israel church, para-church organization, ministry or individual in America.” They intend on converting as many Christians to their pro-Zionist movement as they can through coercive programs of “education, outreach and events.”

Like the clergy response teams deployed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CUFI use the Bible to keep their congregations under the directives of the US government like blind followers who are intimidated into going along without question because of Roman 13. As Durell Turberville explained: “. . . because the government is established by the Lord, you know. And, that’s what we believe in the Christian faith. That’s what’s stated in the scripture.”

The CUFI Conference in Washington, DC will bring together elected officials, representatives of the Zionist Elite, and the congregations of evangelical Christians that will be the “grassroots” voice that will demand efforts be made to usher in Global Governance; under the covering of expediting the stability of Israel so that Jesus Christ may return.

Religious coercion is a powerful weapon, and one that the global Elite have been working like puppet masters behind the scenes for centuries. Zionists hold key positions of absolute influence in entertainment, mainstream news media, banking and multi-national corporations. They are now gearing up to push their agendas through all avenues of control.

Pay attention, and you can see them coming.

(theuglytruth.wordpress.com / 18.07.2012)

UN fails Myanmar human rights test: US cleric

The main thing this shows us is that we Muslims around the world are proud of Iran and Turkey for standing up- but we have to, the whole Muslim community has to stand up for the rights of other Muslims.”

Abdul Alim Musa, the Imam of Washington’s Masjid al-Islam

A prominent cleric in the US says the UN has failed to restrain the predicament against Muslims in Myanmar by its lack of action against the massacre of the minority group, Press TV reports.

“This problem in Burma… it’s not a concern of the West or its institution it’s not a concern for the rest of the people,” the Imam of Washington’s Masjid al-Islam mosque, Abdul Alim Musa said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.

The Imam added that the situation in Myanmar shows that the life and values, the family, the people’s culture and heritage are “not important” to the United Nations “unless it’s wrapped around what’s valuable to the West or oil or gold or some other resource”.

Imam Musa also praised Tehran and Turkey for standing up for the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar who are being oppressed in the Buddhist-majority country.

“The main thing this shows us is that we Muslims around the world are proud of Iran and Turkey for standing up- but we have to, the whole Muslim community has to stand up for the rights of other Muslims,” he added.

The government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who it claims are not natives and classifies them as illegal migrants, although they have lived in the country for generations.

On Friday, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein said that Rohingya Muslims must be expelled from the country and sent to refugee camps run by the United Nations.

The UN says decades of discrimination have left the Rohingyas stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services.

Reports say 650 of nearly one million Rohingya Muslims have been killed as of June 28 during clashes in the western region of Rakhine. This is while 1,200 others are missing and 80,000 more have been displaced.

The UN has described Rohingya Muslim as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.

(www.presstv.ir / 18.07.2012)

Ministry lawyer: Teen was hospitalized after ‘brutal arrest’

Mahmoud al-Badan, 17, from Tuqu village, was detained by Israeli forces overnight Saturday.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A lawyer for the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoners Affairs said Tuesday that a teen from a Bethlehem village was seriously injured two days ago when Israeli soldier beat him during an arrest raid.

The family of Mahmoud al-Badan, 17, from Tuqu village told Ma’an earlier that soldiers brutally beat him before blindfolding and handcuffing him, and taking him into custody overnight Saturday.

Lawyer Hussein al-Sheikh said after speaking with al-Badan that he was beaten with sharp objects and had to be taken to a nearby health center.

His condition was so serious he was transferred to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital, where doctors found he was suffering from a broken jaw and bruising to the head.

Forces then brought al-Badan back into custody, Al-Sheikh said.

The lawyer said that he has consulted Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, and the ministry of prisoners about the incident.

(www.maannews.net / 17.07.2012)

Stop investeringen in leveranciers aan Syrisch regime!

Nederlandse bankgroepen en pensioenfondsen investeren miljoenen euro’s in twee bedrijven die het afgelopen jaar radioapparatuur aan de Syrische politie en een dataopslagsysteem voor internetcontrole aan de Syrische autoriteiten hebben geleverd. Dit blijkt uit onderzoek van IKV Pax Christi en Oxfam Novib.

Het betreft het Italiaanse Finmeccanica, dat in 2011 al in opspraak kwam wegens wapenleveranties aan Libië, en het Amerikaanse Netapp. Uit het onderzoek ‘Nederlandse investeringen in Finmeccanica en Netapp’, uitgevoerd door economisch onderzoeksbureau Profundo, blijkt dat veertien Nederlandse financiële instellingen in één of beide bedrijven investeren. De volgende bankgroepen hebben via hun vermogensbeheertak belegd in aandelen en/of obligaties van deze bedrijven: Aegon, Delta Lloyd, ING en ABN Amro (dochterbedrijf Neuflize), alsmede de pensioenfondsen ABP, BpfBOUW, Medische Specialisten, Metaal en Techniek (PMT), Metalektro (PME), Grafische Bedrijven (PGB), Spoorwegpensioenfonds, Huisartsen, Zorg & Welzijn en Shell Pensioenfonds.

Communicatieapparatuur als wapen

Bovendien bleek vorig jaar uit onderzoek van de Eerlijke Bankwijzer en RTL dat Finmeccanica wapens leverde aan de Libische dictator Kadaffi. Ook toen investeerden Nederlandse banken en pensioenfondsen in dit bedrijf.
Het Italiaanse wapenbedrijf Finmeccanica leverde tot en met mei 2011 mobiele communicatieapparatuur aan de Syrische politie. Dit was twee maanden nadat de volksopstand in Syrië losbarstte. In 2007 leverde Finmeccanica al een radarsysteem aan Syrië. In mei 2012 startte de Amerikaanse regering een onderzoek naar de levering van het dataopslagsysteem van het Netapp aan Syrië in 2011. Het systeem maakt deel uit van een omvangrijk internetcontrolesysteem waarmee alle internetbewegingen van tegenstanders van het regime worden gevolgd.
Miriam Struyk van IKV Pax Christi: “Ook communicatieapparatuur zoals geleverd door Finmeccanica en Netapp kan helaas een uitermate effectief wapen zijn om burgers te onderdrukken.”

Aanscherping en transparantie
IKV Pax Christi en Oxfam Novib roepen alle bankgroepen en pensioenfondsen die in genoemde bedrijven investeren op om deze investeringen van de hand te doen. Ook dienen zij hun beleid voor wapenhandel met repressieve regimes en levering van apparatuur die repressie kan versterken structureel aan te scherpen. Tenslotte is grotere transparantie over hun investeringen en over ‘engagement’ met (wapen)bedrijven nodig.

Lees hier het volledige onderzoek.

(www.ikvpaxchristi.nl / 17.07.2012)

Israel’s environmental colonialism and eco-apartheid


The construction of Israel’s mammoth apartheid wall has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and destroyed Palestinians’ legally owned fertile agricultural land.

By Ben Lorber

July 12, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal — Since the idea of Zionism first gripped the minds of a few intellectuals and the limbs of many agrarian pioneers in the early 20th century, the state of Israel has presented its settlement of the land of Palestine, and its uprooting of the Palestinian people, as a rejuvenation of the earth. By “greenwashing” the occupation, Israel hides its apartheid behind an environmentalist mirage, and distracts public attention not only from its brutal oppression of the Palestinian people, but from its large-scale degradation of the earth upon which these tragedies unfold.

Determined to “make the desert bloom”, an international organisation — the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL, or JNF) planted forests, recreational parks and nature reserves to cover over the ruins of Palestinian villages, as refugees were scattered far from, or worse, a few hilltops away from, the land upon which they and their ancestors had based their lives and livelihoods.

Today, as Israel portrays itself as a “green democracy”’, an eco-friendly pioneer in agricultural techniques such as drip irrigation, dairy farming, desert ecology, water management and solar energy, Israeli factories drain toxic waste and industrial pollutants down from occupied West Bank hilltops into Palestinian villages, and over-pumping of groundwater aquifers denies Palestinians access to vital water sources in a context of increasing water scarcity and pollution.

Jewish National Fund

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), perhaps the first transnational environmental NGO, was established in 1901, as the first wave of Jewish immigrants were settling in Palestine under the banner of Zionism. Throughout the 20th century, as the indigenous Arab population of Palestine found itself either expelled from its homeland or oppressed under the hand of a foreign invader, the JNF succeeded in raising enormous amounts of money to acquire and develop land throughout the territory that, in 1948, would become known as the State of Israel. Distinct from other transnational Zionist fundraising and advocacy organisations, such as the Jewish Agency, the JNF portrayed itself, from the beginning, as an environmental organisation, serving, according to its website, to “protect the land, green the landscape and preserve vital ecosystems” by “planting seedlings, maintaining forest health, combating desertification, protecting watersheds and managing water flow … [and] balancing the phenomenal growth and development Israel has experienced in the last decade with the maintenance of an ecologically sound environment”.

Proud that “Israel is the only country in the world that will enter the 21st century with a net gain in numbers of trees”, the JNF credits itself with planting 250 million trees, building more than 210 reservoirs and dams, developing more than 250,000 acres of land, creating more than 1000 parks and providing the infrastructure for more than 1000 communities throughout Israel. Suiting a state constructed for a single cultural-religious group, the JNF promotes an exclusionary, discriminatory brand of environmentalism. From its inception in 1901 — when the JNF controlled but a single olive grove in a land where 94% of its neighbours were Arab — to today, working closely with the Israel government, the JNF directly owns 13% of Israel’s land and effectively controls another 80%. The JNF’s constitution has explicitly stated that its land cannot be rented, leased, sold to or worked by non-Jews.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the JNF– helping to exile hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families, bulldoze their homes and clear the land to make way for Jewish settlement — bought large tracts of land from absentee landowners, evicted local Arab tenant farmers, uprooted natural vegetation of olive, carob and pistachio trees, and planted throughout the land, in place of indigenous arboreta, vast swaths of Europeanpinera (conifers) and eucalyptus trees.

Forests, parks and recreational facilities were strategically placed atop the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages, so that the fast-growing pines would erase the history of Palestinian existence and prevent refugees from ever returning to their homes. In addition, pine forests were planted to guard and expand settlements built atop stolen land and, after 1967, to seize and divide Palestinian territory within east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

The pines helped evoke images of a European wilderness, creating a familiar “natural” environment for the mostly European Jewish settlers, so much so that settlers affectionately nicknamed Carmel National Park, planted partially over the destroyed Palestinian village of al-Tira, “little Switzerland” for its resemblance to the Swiss Alps. Foreign species, these pine forests, then and now, often fail to adapt to the local soil and require frequent re-planting. As they age, they demand more water and become more prone to problems like pests, disease and conflagrations, such as the 2010 Carmel wildfire, deemed the worst in Israel’s history. As their fast-growing acidic pine needles fall to the ground, they destroy all other surrounding small plants, thus ruining the livelihood of Palestinian shepherds, whose animals depend on grazing land.

Clear-felling Palestinian villages

The JNF’s time-tested method of ethnically cleansing and then “greening” the desert continues to this day. An ongoing $600 million, 10-year JNF program called Blueprint Negev seeks to develop reservoirs, pine afforestation and water conservation programs in the Negev desert at the expense of more than 150,000 Palestinian Bedouin, whose “unrecognised” villages, as a direct result of Israel’s policies, already lack electricity, running water and sewage disposal.

Since 2010, the JNF has attempted to “green” the Negev by planting the 1 million-pine “GOD TV Forest” over the Palestinian village of Al-Araqib, which, as it steadfastly resists extinction, has been demolished eight times. GOD TV Forest is named after its proud sponsor, a far-right, pro-settler Evangelical Christian organisation whose stated purpose is “to plant a million trees to prepare the land for the return of [God’s] son”. As GOD TV Forest and Blueprint Negev seek to flood the semi-arid Negev with the invasive European pine trees, Israel seeks to tear the historically semi-nomadic Bedouin from their ancestral grazing lands, and to herd them into unnatural, sedentary lifestyles in impoverished and isolated townships. Social strife and decay of traditional values inevitably accompany this forced acculturation process.

Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., my family, along with the larger middle-class Jewish community, was, knowingly or not, complicit in the JNF’s environmental colonialism. Nearly every room of our local synagogue and Hebrew School displayed the iconic blue, tin JNF donation box, where, by simply dropping a coin, one could affirm one’s ethnic nationalism by helping “plant a tree in Israel”. Throughout my early childhood, my mother worked at a local JNF donation office, helping US Jewish families “plant a tree in Israel” to commemorate the death of a loved one.

Today, after a century of expulsion, settlement, development and rapid industrialisation, indigenous arboreta make up only 11% of Israeli forests, and pre-1948 growth accounts for only 10% of Israel’s greenery. Jewish National Fund pine forests, parks and recreation areas blanket the hills of Israel, and tour guides, in the midst of a hike, dread the inevitable moment when someone asks “what is that old abandoned mosque doing in the middle of this forest?” The parallels with European colonisation of the American continent are obvious, and in a cruel twist of historical irony, the construction, by JNF Canada, of Israel’s Canada National Park, covering over the destroyed Palestinian village of ‘Imwas in the mid-1980s, was initiated as a simultaneous twinning project along with Toronto’s Downsview Park, which sits atop unacknowledged First Nations territory.

Zionist image

The actions of the JNF fulfil the Zionist desire to transform and control the land of Palestine, to shape its hills in the Zionist image. When the pioneer Zionist movement arrived from Europe in the late 1800s, they found themselves dissatisfied with the rocky, semi-arid eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and they sought to “make the desert bloom” as proof that the Jewish people, and not the indigenous Arabs, were the destined cultivators of “a land without people for a people without land”.

Bringing little agricultural experience from their mostly lower-middle class urban backgrounds, these pioneers first adopted local Arab small-scale dryland subsistence farming methods, producing mainly unirrigated wheat, barley, potatoes, grapes, olives and figs for domestic consumption. Soon, however, they dismissed centuries-old sustainable Palestinian agricultural practices as “undeveloped”, and, funded by French banker-philanthropist Baron de Rothschild, used sophisticated European steam engines, mechanised ploughs, reapers and threshers to develop capital-intensive vineyards and cash-crop plantations for commercial marketing.

The passionate attachment to the land evinced by these Zionist pioneers often concealed an anthropocentric kernel. Many of the first European Jewish immigrants struck the soil of Palestine with a devout and even mystical appreciation of nature, driven to escape the economic, industrial and social alienation of European society and, through the sweat of agricultural labour, to birth themselves, and the Jewish people, anew as an ecologically integrated, utopian socialist community. Living in collectivist communes called kibbutzim, their sense of destiny magnified by the redemptive, exalted status that the land beneath their feet held for thousands of years of Jewish cultural mythology, they filled their journals with passionate, sensual, ecstatic, mystical and sometimes erotic descriptions of the joys of the earth and agricultural labour. As Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann observed, “it seems as if God had covered the soil of Palestine with rocks and marshes and sand, so that its beauty can only be brought out by those who love it and will devote their lives to healing its wounds”.

At the same time, their ecological zeal betrayed a deeply colonial, anthropocentric desire, not to respect and adapt to the land, but to subjugate and transform it, to conquer it through the machinations of human development. “Where we modern ones appear with our auxiliaries”, announced Zionist prophet Theodore Herzl at the turn of the century, “we turn the desert into a garden”. The motif of “making the desert bloom” emphasises not the desert rocks, but the human agency which controls nature for its own purposes. In one fell swoop, the land of Palestine would be cleared, along with its people, the Arab Palestinians, who, Weizmann maintained, were no different than “the rocks of Judea … obstacles that had to be cleared on a difficult path”.

Green, racist capitalism

Today, thanks to decades of largely US aid, the old kibbutzim have become factory suburbs, and the small, start-up socialist Zionist experiment has ballooned into the fourth-largest arms exporter in the world, the privatised, globally competitive, hyper-militarised Israel that markets itself abroad as a model for 21st century green capitalism, while perpetuating widespread ecological devastation and blatant environmental racism on the ground. “What country would not experience environmental woes”, says Jewish eco-socialist Joel Kovel in his book, Overcoming Zionism, “with a sixfold population increase in half a century in a context of rapid industrialization?” Kovel describes the steady expansion of Israel’s infrastructure of occupation, and the irreversible build-up of its desert war machine, as an “eco-destructive accelerant”, wedding coloniser and colonised together in a “parasitic order” that “builds parallel systems, of roads, water and sewage, electrical networks… [that] both colonize and destroy the land of the Palestinians, while creating, necessarily, a myriad of spaces … chaotically thrown up and turning into sites of a proliferating set of ecological degradations”.

Today, Israel covertly transports waste products from its own country into dumps and quarries throughout the occupied West Bank, polluting the Palestinian earth and water supply, while Israeli settlers in the West Bank — who produce similar amounts of wastewater to the Palestinian population, despite being outnumbered more than six to one — deliberately poison the water, land and livestock of nearby Palestinian villages. Solid wastes from Israeli settlements and military camps throughout the West Bank are dumped without restriction on Palestinian land, fields and side roads, and industry regularly moves from Israel to the West Bank, where labour is cheaper, environmental regulations are lenient and waste products, generated from the production of aluminium, leather tanning, textile dyeing, batteries, fiberglass, plastics and other chemicals, can flow freely down to Palestinian villages in surrounding valleys.

At least seven industrial zones, and at least 200 factories, have either moved from Israel into the West Bank, or have been constructed by the Israel government, inside the West Bank, a blatant violation of international law.

After one such factory, Geshuri Industries, moved its pesticide, insecticide and fertiliser production from Israel, where it was declared a health hazard, into the West Bank in 1982, the owner began the courteous practice of closing the factory for the one month every year that a change in wind direction would blow its pollutants towards Israel.

The construction, beginning in 2002, of Israel’s mammoth separation/apartheid wall, while separating Palestinian farmers from their fields, has destroyed Palestinian legally owned fertile agricultural land, and has brought with it all the extensive contamination of natural habitats associated with the use of heavy machinery and millions of tons of concrete. The wall has isolated Palestinian communities from vital water sources, and has interfered with natural drainage systems in the West Bank, causing flooding and substantial environmental and agricultural damage in times of high rainfall.

West Bank and Gaza

The JNF’s “greening” of Israel does not extend to the West Bank and Gaza, where the infrastructure of occupation breeds widespread deforestation. While the JNF made the hilltops within the internationally recognised borders of Israel bloom with forests, parks, playgrounds and recreation areas so that, to quote its website, “the heroic men and women of the Israel Defense Forces can share precious time with their loved ones”, 95% of the forests of Gaza have disappeared between 1971 and 1999, due to the extensive spread of settlements and military bases alongside Israel’s pervasive bombing. Contrary to the JNF’s commitment to “combat desertification”, the threat of permanent desertification looms over the West Bank, as increasing illegal settlement expansion, facilitated by the JNF, steals large tracts of land traditionally used by Palestinian villages for grazing, leaving the few remaining grazing areas available to Palestinian pastoralists threatened by overgrazing.

For Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the monitoring, maintenance and protection of natural ecosystems becomes impossible, as the Israeli occupation paralyses their sovereign ability to regulate usage of a contiguous piece of land. Restrictions on freedom of movement, such as road closures, checkpoints and permanent roadblocks, impede the collection, processing, treatment and disposal of waste products, which, when released into residential areas, agricultural land and groundwater aquifers, cause soil contamination and potentially irreversible ground water pollution.


Israel’s discriminatory distribution of water is an instance of environmental racism at its worst. “Presently”, writes Joel Kovel, Israel “faces both an absolute shortage of water owing to persistent overconsumption, as well as persistent contamination of the existing water thanks to rampant ‘development’ and industrialization”. As population growth, combined with a rising standard of living, has led to an over-utilisation of renewable water sources, Israel embarks on costly cloud-seeding and desalination experiments to increase its water supply, while destroying the rain-water cisterns and wells of agrarian Palestinian villages.

The Jordan River, an international river basin unilaterally monopolised by Israel, has seen its average flow decrease from 1250 million cubic metres (mcm)/year in 1953 to 152-203 mcm due to two enormous reservoirs, and has become so polluted by Israeli settlement and industry run-off that, to the dismay of Christian pilgrims worldwide, the environmental group Friends of the Earth Middle East decreed it unsafe for baptism in 2010. As the Jordan River is drained to a trickle, the Dead Sea, also polluted, has shrunk into two separate, and rapidly drying, seas further downstream, as its salts are pumped by Israeli companies to flood the global market with exotic cosmetic products.

As over-pumping of regional underground aquifers, all monopolised by Israel, has lowered the groundwater table below sea level and caused saline water intrusion in many areas, growing water scarcity is used by Israel as a tool of oppression against the Palestinians. In the Jordan Valley, an oppressive matrix of checkpoints, closed military zones, army training grounds, nature reserves, settlements and settler-only roads striates the desert with the infrastructure of environmental racism, isolating Palestinian Bedouin villages from access to water sources.

Impoverished communities — 40% of whom consume less water than the minimum global standard set by the World Health Organization — must travel across a desert, criss-crossed with Israeli checkpoints, to bring overpriced and often unsanitary water tankers home to scattered villages of makeshift shacks and mud-brick houses. While the 56,000 Palestinian Bedouin in the Jordan Valley consume an average of 37 million cubic metres (mcm) of water per year, the 9400 Israeli settlers consume an average of 41 mcm.

Sustainable agricultural practices are made difficult because of water scarcity, and perishable produce, delayed for hours at Israeli checkpoints, often spoils on its way to market. While “unrecognised” Bedouin villages live in dire poverty, cut off from basic services such as health care, education and employment, and barred by Israel’s laws from building any permanent structure, be it a water well, an animal pen, a storage shed or a family home, 36 Israeli Jordan Valley agricultural settlements utilise state-of-the-art technology, along with an unlimited water supply, to grow a wide variety of genetically modified fruit and vegetable produce, propelling Israel into the international agribusiness industry as the world’s sixth-largest cultivator of genetically modified crops.

While Bedouin families see their makeshift structures demolished by Israeli bulldozers on a daily basis, every Israeli settler family in the Jordan Valley is given, in addition to an unlimited water supply, a free house, US$20,000, 70 dunnams (km2) of land, free health care and a 75% discount on electricity, utilities and transportation.

Lake Hula

The ethnic cleansing and ecological degradation of Lake Hula in 1950 provides a perfect example of the JNF’s catastrophic failure as an environmental organisation, and cruel success as a colonial enterprise. In 1933 the Palestine Land Development Corporation, using JNF and private funds, forcibly evicted the Ghawarani tribe from one of the oldest documented lakes and wetlands in history, the Huleh Valley in the eastern Galilee near Syria. Descendants of deserters from the invading Egyptian army in the 1830s, and Algerian refugees from the failed 1847 revolt against French rule, the Ghawarani had lived for two centuries in reed huts, mud-brick shacks and woollen tents, practicing reed basket and mat weaving, seasonal agriculture, fishing and the raising of livestock such as chicken, geese and water buffalo.

Echoing founder of Israel David Ben-Gurion’s 1944 proclamation that “we must conquer the sea and the desert, for those will provide us with room for new settlers and will serve as a laboratory for the development of new forms of economic and agricultural endeavor”, the JNF, anxious to form a buffer of agricultural expansion between Israel and Syria, drained Lake Hula in 1950 without a study of its ecological impact, ignoring the warnings of scientists that the peat soil under the swamps would not make fertile land.

Agricultural development of the exposed peat soils, weathered and eroded by wind without their vegetation cover, proved unsuccessful, and the reckless experiment destroyed a rich, diverse ecosystem of aquatic biota, flora and fauna unique to the region. Despite one JNF hydrologist’s certainty that “our peat is Zionist peat … our peat will not do damage”, the decomposing peat soils released nutrients and ground pollutants into the Jordan River and the entropic Lake Tiberius, creating crop-damaging black dust and making large tracts of land susceptible to damaging underground fires. The Hula Valley was left stagnant and largely depopulated, until a $23 million JNF re-flooding in 1996 created the smaller and shallower Lake Agmon, restoring a meagre portion of the area’s now-extinct wildlife.


As the dependence of the imperial West on Gulf oil increases precipitously, Israel’s occupation of Palestine becomes a crucial focal point for the global dominance of Empire, and a concentrated site of its cruellest eco-genocidal machinations. In Israel’s occupation of Palestine, we see how environmental devastation coincides with ethnic cleansing, and how the former is used to deepen the latter. The quest for justice in Palestine lies at the heart of anti-imperialist struggle worldwide, a struggle in defence of the Earth, and the dispossessed who wander upon it.

In the words of Coya White Hat-Artichoker, member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and founding member of the LGBTQ Two Spirit First Nations Collective:

I see what is happening in Palestine as an indigenous struggle for sovereignty, at times, even the right to exist. It is also one of genocide… I see Israel’s systemic and intentional destruction and removal of Palestinian lives, homes, and communities as very similar to the destruction of communities, lives, and removal of Native people from their traditional lands. I no longer see terrorists there anymore; I see people resisting and fighting extinction… I believe that as people in the US who make these connections, it’s important to be thoughtful about what is happening, in our names and with the US government’s money.

[Ben Lorber is a journalist and radical activist who has worked extensively in the US and the Middle East. In 2011, he spent six months in Palestine, as an activist with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank and as a journalist with the Israeli-Palestinian Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem. His articles have appeared in the Electronic Intifada, the Palestine ChronicleMondoWeissCommon Dreams  and many other publications.]

(links.org.au / 17.07.2012)

Confessions of an Assad ‘Shabiha’ loyalist: how I raped and killed for £300 a month

Ruth Sherlock hears a chilling confession from a member of the pro-Assad ‘Shabiha’ militia, likely soon to meet his death
Families gathered around bodies of victims killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria, about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama

Families gathered around bodies of victims killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh,
Sitting in the dark, fetid cave that served as his makeshift prison, Mohammed confessed with the frankness of a man who knew he had no escape from death. For the equivalent of £300 a month, plus a £100 bonus for every victim, he had become a hired killer for President Bashar al Assad, he said. What was more, he had enjoyed every minute of it.

“We love Assad because the government gave us all the power – if I wanted to take something, kill a person or rape a girl I could,” he said, in a calm, quiet voice devoid of remorse.

“The government gave me 30,000 Syrian pounds per month and an extra 10,000 per person that I captured or killed. I raped one girl, and my commander raped many times. It was normal.”

Mohammed – not his real name – spoke to me last week at a secret rebel detention centre in Idlib Province in northern Syria, where he had been captured a few weeks earlier during a shoot-out with units from the Free Syrian Army.

Tucked away in the hills, the limestone caves where he is now confined were once used by rebel units to hide from President Assad’s forces and stash their weapons. Now, 16 months into the uprising, they have become a prison for captured pro-regime fighters.

But Mohammed cut a very different figure to the 25 others with whom he shared his underground chamber. While they were all gaunt, bewildered-looking Syrian Army conscripts, he was a member of the Shabiha, the feared pro-Assad civilian militia for whom fighting is a matter of both business and pleasure, and who are blamed for many of the conflict’s worst massacres.

Like many of their ilk, he had the appearance of an Arab Arnold Schwarzenegger, with huge biceps, honed during endless gym sessions, bulging under a tight white T-shirt.

That same intimidating physique made him easily identifiable as amember of the Shabiha when caught, and has now effectively sealed his fate. While ordinary Syrian army conscripts may be treated as prisoners of war, Shabiha are often executed – especially ones like Mohammed, whose personal notoriety as a thug had spread throughout the province.

So it was that, with no expectation of mercy, he spoke candidly of his crimes – his casual, matter-of-fact manner telling its own story about just why Syria has become so steeped in violence.

Born in Orem al Kubra, a farming village loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, he was at first reluctant to get involved when the uprising began, he said. “My friends were joining the Shabiha, and they encouraged me to come with them. I hesitated, and men in the local Air Force base beat me up until I agreed.

“I informed on people who didn’t like Assad, I captured them and I put them in jail. The government gave me a gun.”

For the first time in his life, Mohammed, who is in his late twenties, found himself with both money and power. Not only that, he was effectively exempt from Syrian law.

He described one rape he had committed. “She was a student of Aleppo University. It was daytime and I was driving around the city with my boss. She was passing on the street. I said to my boss, ‘What do you think about this girl? Is she not beautiful?’

“We grabbed her and put her into the car. We drove to an abandoned home and we both raped her. After we finished we killed her. She knew our faces and our neighbours, so she could not live.”

For weeks he and his friends continued their rampage around Aleppo, the main commercial hub of northern Syria. During one anti-Assad demonstration, he said he killed a man by firing into a crowd.

What was his motivation, I asked? He shrugged. He was not particularly interested in defending President Assad’s regime, he said, nor the Syrian leader’s minority Alawite sect, from which most Shabiha are drawn. “It wasn’t for Bashar. I didn’t care about Bashar al Assad. All I cared about was that I got the power.”

Listening to him talk, it was tempting to wonder whether he might be making it all up, perhaps on the orders of his captors. But our interview took place in a secluded corner of the jail, well out of their earshot, and had he been under pressure to fabricate a story, he could easily have communicated that discreetly.

He showed none of the nervousness I have encountered previously among prisoners in rebel jails in Libya, where it was often obvious that some were following a confessional “script”.

Instead, the only glimmer of emotion came when I asked him just why he seemed so emotionless. “I grew up in a normal family, and I was taught to respect women,” he said. “But the devil took hold of my mind in those days.”

(www.telegraph.co.uk / 16.07.2012)

Israeli regime plans to turn Palestinians into minority: Analyst

The Israeli regime plans to turn the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank into a minority on their homeland, a political analyst tells Press TV.

“The Israelis are trying to… turn the Palestinians into a minority,” said Khalil Shaheen, a political analyst in the West Bank, in an interview with Press TV on Sunday.

Shaheen made the comments a day after Palestinian media reported on July 14 that the Tel Aviv regime had decided to build 100 new units in the illegal settlement of Modi’in Illit and another 130 units in the illegal settlement of Jabal Abu Ghuneim in the West Bank.

“All these steps and plans to expand settlement construction are connected to each other,” Shaheen added.

On June 6, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the construction of 300 units in the illegal settlement of Beit El in the West Bank.

The international community regards all the Israeli settlements across the West Bank as illegal under international law.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

(www.presstv.ir / 16.07.2012)

Israel continues to mistreat Palestinian minors: Analyst

Interview with Maha Rezeq, child protection advocate

“Well the fact that the Gaza Strip is geographically isolated from the West Bank so the kind of treatment children receive there is different. Children are put under arrest on border lines and during incursions by the Israeli military but they are also banned from having family visits, they are banned from having legal rights, they are not allowed to have any representation, they are forced to sign confessions in a language they do not understand because it is mostly Hebrew.”

Israeli police officers continue their violence against Palestinian children, brutally attacking and mistreating them in Israeli jails.

The Israeli authorities arrest around 700 Palestinian minors annually. Some 200 Palestinian children are arrested on a monthly basis.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Maha Rezeq, child protection advocate, to hear her opinion on this issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Some of what we saw there, it is slightly different in Gaza. Could you explain briefly why?

Rezeq: Well the fact that the Gaza Strip is geographically isolated from the West Bank so the kind of treatment children receive there is different. Children are put under arrest on border lines and during incursions by the Israeli military but they are also banned from having family visits, they are banned from having legal rights, they are not allowed to have any representation, they are forced to sign confessions in a language they do not understand because it is mostly Hebrew.

It is the same set of violations that are breached by Israelis against the Palestinians of the West Bank are the same in the Gaza Strip but the fact that they are isolated and the fact that Israel is taking those children breaking, breaching international law by detaining them outside the Palestinian territory is a violation in itself so it is more difficult for families to have access and of course ICRC is unable to arrange those visits and they are dealing with those constraints as well.

Whilst for the West Bankers it is more of the day to day discrimination as children in Israel who still fall under the civil [law], even the settlers fall under the civil law whilst the Palestinians juvenile they have to go through military Israeli court and the law there is completely different.

Press TV: In terms of the personal impact, people separated from family you are just thinking when that happens in a completely normalized situation it is traumatic enough when it happens sometimes at the butt of the gun, I can appreciate that it is a very difficult thing indeed?

Rezeq: It is a very difficult thing for different reasons. Children are not; when they are arrested families are not immediately informed of their arrest.

Press TV: Yes, where is my son? There was a demo, he has not come home, what has happened?

Rezeq: So the basic procedure is children should be informed of their legal rights, families they should be informed also of the location and the arrest of their child, children should be accompanied by their parents throughout their arrest investigation and so on, they should be represented and they should be told their rights and then they should be presented before a judge.

But children, they wait a long time that could go up to eighty days before they could see a judge unlike children from Israel who would just maximum would be held in detention for maximum 40 days before they can see a judge.

So you can see the complete differentiation, discrimination based on race between the children under the Israeli rule.

Press TV: But aren’t charities and NGO’s working in the area concerned with this? Aren’t they taking this to a more international platform?

Rezeq: Well Human Rights organizations are very aggressive and they are very active working to highlight those issues and there are lots of reports are being launched talking about the discrimination and the treatment between children even in definition of what a child is.

Under Israeli law for an Israeli child, the minors are considered 18 and under but while for the Palestinians after 16 they are not considered minors.

So all the rules of adults are applied to them and they are not even held in child detention centers, they are held throughout the detention and imprisonment with adults and that is also a breach of the CRC of Child Rights Convention.

But the thing that happens basically most of those reports are being ignored because Israel is not respecting all the Geneva Convention or international law. They are actually not recognizing that the West Bank is under occupation.

So they can always manipulate international law and they can argue about that it does not apply it because international humanitarian law only applies to occupied people.

Press TV: There is a really, the idea here that an Israeli person will see a Palestinian child as a potential threat and therefore must be treated in a completely different way.

Rezeq: Actually it is an Israeli prosecutor who basically said every Palestinian child is seen as a potential terrorist and therefore it is legitimate to, or in their eyes it is legitimate to arrest 700 children every year and until this moment I think around 200 Palestinian children are arrested on a monthly basis and they are going through all this humiliation, interrogations, shackling and all types of torture, solitary confinement, isolation, bad treatment, denial of legal rights and medical rights but this will only change when the international community will just hold Israel accountable to the treaties they are signatory of, to the international law and other laws.

Otherwise all these consolidated work of the international organizations, involved human rights organizations will mean nothing without enforcement of law, it will mean nothing.

(presstv.com / 16.07.2012)

UNHCR wil zich niet over Rohingya’s ontfermen

(Novum/AP) – RANGOON – De Hoge Commissaris voor de Vluchtelingen van de Verenigde Naties is niet van plan de etnische Rohingya’s in Myanmar elders onder te brengen of zich over hen te ontfermen. President Thein Sein had dit gesuggereerd, maar Antonio Guterres zei dit niet tot de taak van zijn dienst te rekenen.

Vorige maand kwamen bij gevechten tussen boeddhistische Rakhines en islamitische Rohingya’s in het westen van Myanmar minstens 78 mensen om het leven en raakten tienduizenden mensen dakloos.

Myanmar beschouwt de Rohingya’s als illegale immigranten uit Bangladesh en weigert hun het staatsburgerschap te verlenen, ook al wonen sommigen al generaties lang in Myanmar.

(dossiers.nieuws.nl / 16.07.2012)