Medics: 2 people killed in second airstrike

A woman reacts at a hospital after an Israeli targeted attack on a car in Gaza City March 9, 2012.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Two people were killed as Israel launched a second airstrike on the Gaza Strip, bringing Friday’s death toll to four people, medics said.

Obeid al-Ghirbali and Muhammad Harara were named as those killed, medical spokesman Adham Abu Salmiyeh said.

Both men were members of the Al-Quds Brigade, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad. Their bodies were taken to Dar al-Shifa hospital.

Israel’s army said in a statement that it had “thwarted two terrorist squads from firing rockets at Israel from the northern and the central Gaza Strip.”

Earlier, an Israeli strike targeting a car in western Gaza killed the head of the Popular Resistance Committees and a former prisoner released by Israel four years ago, medical officials said.

Israel accused PRC secretary-general Zuhair Qaisi, one of the men killed, of helping to plan attacks along its border with Egypt that killed seven Israelis last year.

The PRC has denied involvement in that cross-border attack.

The Israeli military said militants fired eight rockets in all on Friday.

The national resistance brigades, the DFLP’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa brigades, and the armed wing of the PRC, the An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din brigades, have all claimed responsibility for rocket fire.

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh condemned the earlier Israeli airstrike, saying it will lead to an escalating cycle of violence in the region.

Hamas’ foreign ministry called on the international community to intervene to stop Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, a statement said.

The An-Nasser Salah Ad-Din Brigades, the PRC’s armed wing, had promised a “seismic response” to the earlier assassination.

(maannews.net / 09.03.2012)

Five Killed as the Israeli Military Bombardment of Gaza Continues

A total Five Palestinian men were reported killed on Friday by Israeli jetfighters conducted a number of attacks targeting the Gaza Strip. Sources in Gaza say Israeli tanks are still shelling parts of Gaza city.


Israeli fighters over Gaza

The latest air raid was on Friday night targeting eastern Gaza Strip left Hazim Quraqee dead. Quraqee is a fighter with the Islamic jihad as well.

The attacks started on Friday afternoon as Israeli jetfighters targeted a Palestinian car east of Gaza City. The attack left Mohamed Hanni and Zuhier Al Qayissi dead. Al Qayissi is the general secretary of the Popular Resistance Committees based in Gaza.

Later on Friday evening, Aobed al Ghribawi and Mohamed Harrara were killed during Israeli bombing targeting the eastern part of the Gaza Strip. Both are fighters with the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza.

In response Palestinian groups fired home-made rockets at Israeli towns near the Gaza borders. Israeli sources reported no injuries but the army advised residents go to shelters.

Abu Mojahid, from the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, said that his group will avenge the killing of Al Qayissi and his comrades. Abu Mojahid considered the calm agreement is over.

Palestinian groups in Gaza agreed on a “calm period” after the 18 days long military attack on Gaza in 2009.

Gaza based Journalist, Rami Al Meghari, contributed to this article

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 09.03.2012)

US sent 600,000 tear gas canisters to Israel, says new report

Israeli soldier fires tear gas cannister

Israeli soldiers have killed and injured Palestinians and US citizens with weaponry supplied by the US government.

WASHINGTON (IPS) – A new policy paper published earlier this week by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation documents a number of cases occurring over the past decade in which weapons and ammunition produced and financed by the US have been used to kill unarmed Palestinians and US citizens.

“US military aid to Israel is a policy that is running on autopilot and must be reconsidered,” Josh Ruebner, the national advocacy director for the organization and author of the new policy paper, said on Monday.

“US weapons provided to Israel at taxpayer expense make the US complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians living under Israel’s 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip and defeat US foreign policy objectives of halting Israeli settlement expansion, ending Israeli military occupation and establishing a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace,” Ruebner added.

Between the years 2000 and 2009, the US transferred “more than 670 million weapons, rounds of ammunition and related equipment,” according to the report.

Violating US law

During the same period, “Israel killed at least 2,969 unarmed Palestinians, including 1,128 children, often with US weapons in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act.”

The Foreign Assistance Act, signed into law in 1961, stipulates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

Several US administrations have sanctioned or withheld funding from countries, including Israel, that violated laws such as the Foreign Assistance Act. But according to the report, official inquires and investigations into US military aid to Israel over recent decades have been met with growing resistance from groups both within and outside of the US government.

Although more expensive weapons systems such as tanks and aircraft make up the bulk of purchasing contracts made between the Israeli government and US manufacturers, small arms and ammunition purchases account for the largest number of deaths.

Killing with American bullets

The report notes evidence that the Israeli military loads many of its guns with high-velocity tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets manufactured in the US — a frequent culprit in deaths throughout the West Bank.

“From fiscal year 2000 to 2009, the State Department licensed — and US taxpayers funded — the delivery of more than 595,000 tear gas canisters and other ‘riot control’ equipment to the Israeli military, valued at more than $20.5 million,” according to the report.

In a 2007 “memorandum of understanding,” the US pledged $30 billion in military assistance to Israel between 2009 and 2018 — a 25 percent increase in average annual military aid over previous years. Israel will receive roughly $3.1 billion in US military aid for fiscal year 2012.

Speaking at a conference held at the Palestine Center on Monday, Ruebner argued that, apart from the seeming contradiction of US pledges to protect human rights for everyone, military aid to Israel imperils US strategic interests in the region.

It also defers much-needed US tax revenues away from domestic programs, and contributes to a positive feedback loop that conditions the fulfillment of stated US goals in the region, such as a negotiated, two-state settlement, on even more military aid that, in turn, is used to continue the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, he said.

Citing data obtained for the US Internal Revenue Service and Census Bureau, the report places the quantity of US military aid in a larger context.

Liability

“With the same amount of money that the US gives each year to fund weapons for Israel, the federal government could instead fund affordable housing vouchers for 350,000 low-income families, or green jobs training for 500,000 unemployed workers, or early reading programs for 900,000 at-risk students, or primary health care to 24 million people without insurance,” according to the report.

“Far from being a strategic benefit to the US, [military aid to Israel] is actually a growing political, economic and strategic liability,” Ruebner said.

The release of the policy paper coincided with the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a Zionist lobbying group, in Washington that included speeches by senior US government officials, including President Barack Obama.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta reaffirmed America’s security commitment to Israel, including financing for a missile defense and fighter-jet weapons systems in a speech during the conference.

“This is an ironclad pledge which says that the United States will provide whatever support is necessary so that Israel can maintain military superiority over any state or coalition of states, as well as non-state actors,” Panetta said.

On Monday, US Congressmen Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer introduced legislation that will “expand Israel’s authority to make purchases under the foreign military financing program,” and require the president to report to Congress on “actions to improve the process relating to Israel’s purchase of F-35 aircraft to improve cost efficiency and timely delivery.”

“Today, my friend Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and I are introducing legislation to reaffirm our enduring commitment to the US-Israel strategic relationship and to ensure that threats to Israeli and American security will be answered with strength,” Cantor stated on Monday.

“It is a bond that reflects the shared values of our people and our shared interests in preserving stability in the Middle East…It is a reminder that support for Israel is not and should never be a partisan issue,” Congressman Hoyer added.

Ruebner emphasised several steps US lawmakers could take to prevent additional human rights violations, most notably the enactment of laws that would make US military aid conditional on freezing Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and ending theblockade of the Gaza Strip.

(electronicintifada.net / 09.03.2012)

HOW DARE YOU SPEAK AGAINST ISRAEL!

Baroness Jenny Tonge

Freedom of speech? Here in the UK? Really? Not for Baroness Jenny Tonge. The ultimatum presented to her by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was to retract her statement or resign.

In a recent debate in Middlesex University, in which the topic being discussed was whether Zionism equated to Apartheid, Barones Tonge said, “Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving 70 billion a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East, that is Israel. One day the American people are going to say to the Israeli lobby in the USA, enough is enough. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown”.

Is this statement really anti-Semitic or was Baroness Tonge just attacking a country whose policies she didn’t agree with? She did not call for the destruction of the state. She merely stated that Israel would not continue in its present form. Israel is a country which has occupied another state for a number of decades, killed their women and children and still have a number of Palestinians in their prisons without trial or charge. Their crime is only that they are Palestinian and they will not give up their land to the oppressive regime.

Activist Ken O’Keefe, US Ex Marine who was also present at the debate in Middlesex University said, “I hope that she has no regrets, I hope that she sees what she said as an honour statement, a valid statement. As we sit hear perched on the verge of World War III and potential Nuclear annihilation, people must speak the truth, no matter what are consequences are. I don’t know what she thinks personally, it’s I think a badge of honour because she said the truth and if she’s punished for that then so be it.”

Baroness Tonge was punished for using her freedom of speech to speak for the people of Palestine and she was forced to leave the Liberal Democrat Party.

Labour leader, Ed Milliband has said ‘that there is no space in British politics for questioning the existence of Israel’. Many Ministers echoed his rhetoric. Why is there never this outcry when Palestinians are being murdered? Their land has been stolen and many Palestinians have been living as refugees for decades and no Member of Parliament even dares to speak out on behalf of them.

Why is this happening? The Zionist lobby and the Friends of Israel is currently stronger than the 2 million Muslims here in the United Kingdom. How many Zionists or members of the Friends of Israel are there? I highly doubt that their numbers are anywhere near the 2 million mark. The reason why they are stronger than us is because they are more determined than us, even though it is a religious duty for us to defend our Muslim brothers and sisters. The Zionists are more focused and more united. While we focus too much on issues that divide the Ummah, the Zionists never lose sight of their goals, which are the stability of Israel and the destruction of anything that gets in the way.

This needs to change. The Muslims must take action to make this change. InshaAllah our Ummah will get out of the slumber that we are in soon. You need to make this happen, for the children of Palestine, their future depends on you and the choices you make. We all remember the horrific images of Operation Cast Lead which the Israeli Soldiers killed over 300 children in the space of just 22 days in December 2008. Israel gets away with murder and we need to make them stop and hold them accountable for their evil crimes.

Write to the Liberal Democrat leader. Let him know that you are totally disgusted by his latest decision. Let him know that as a Muslim, you are against all kinds of racism, including anti Semitism. However speaking against a country which has policies that are despicable to you is freedom of speech. Just like speaking against the Conservative Party does not make you anti-British.

We must also thank Baroness Tonge for speaking up for the Palestinian and sacrificing her position within the Liberal Democrat Party. Please contact her here. She certainly has rightly claimed a badge of honour.

Please don’t forget and write now.

(www.mpacuk.org / 09.03.2012)

Islamic Law and the Principle of Non-Aggression: The Truth that Extremists and Islamophobes Wish to Hide

 

Islam is the Religion of Mercy and Peace, submission to the Will of Ar-RahmanAs-Salaam, as recorded in the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم command:

اعْبُدُوا الرَّحْمَنَ وَأَفْشُوا السَّلَامَ

Worship the Most Merciful, and spread peace.

[Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 33, Number 3694]

But for Extremists and Islamophobes the Religion of Islam is a sword by which they hope humanity will submit to their personal desires and whims, although they wield it from different angles.

At the core of the Islamic Law – indeed the message of all the Prophets – is the principle that a person should do no harm to others just as he would wish no one would harm him. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم stated in the strongest terms:

مَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يُزَحْزَحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَيَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَلْتُدْرِكُهُ مَنِيَّتُهُ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ، وَيَأْتِي عَلَى النَّاسِ مَا يُحِبُّ أَنْ يُؤْتَى إِلَيْهِ

Whoever loves to avoid Hell and enter Paradise, then let death overtake him while he has faith in Allah and the Last Day, and he treats the people they way he loves to be treated.

[Sahih Muslim, Book 20, Number 4546]

And the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم formulated this principle into a concise legal dictum:

لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ

There should be no harming or reciprocating harm.

[Sunan ibn Majah, Book 13, Number 2340]

The principle of non-aggression is clear when the Law refers to the rules of combat. The Muslims were only allowed to fight in self-defense after the Quraish tribe had attacked them first. Allah Almighty said:

وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ

Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not love transgressors.

[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:190]

At-Tabari recorded in his Tafsir of this verse: Ibn Abbas said:

عن ابن عبـاس: لا تقتلوا النساء ولا الصبـيان ولا الشيخ الكبـير ولا من ألقـى إلـيكم السلـم وكفّ يده، فإن فعلتـم هذا فقد اعتديتـم

 

Do not kill women, or children, or old men, or whoever meets you with peace and restraining his hand (from fighting). For, indeed, if you did that, you would certainly have transgressed.

Al-Baydawi said in his Tafsir of this verse:

وَلاَ تَعْتَدُواْ بابتداء القتال، أو بقتال المعاهد، أو المفاجأة به من غير دعوة، أو المثلة، أو قتل من نهيتم عن قتله

Do not transgress by starting the fighting, or by fighting those who are protected by a peace treaty, or by ambushing those who have not been called (to Islam or a peace treaty), or by mutilation (of the enemy), or by fighting whomever it is prohibited from fighting.

These narrations demonstrate that it is unlawful in Islamic Law to initiate force, violence, aggression, and hostility against any person or nation that desires peaceful relations with the Muslims. Likewise, the Noble Quran and Authentic Sunnah have commanded us to acceptpeaceful relations even if we suspect the enemy is trying to trick us. Allah Almighty said:

وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

If they incline to peace, then incline to it and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.

[Surah Al-Anfal 8:61]

Ali ibn Abu Talib reported: The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إِنَّهُ سَيَكُونُ بَعْدِي اخْتِلَافٌ أَوْ أَمْرٌ فَإِنْ اسْتَطَعْتَ أَنْ تَكُونَ السِّلْمَ فَافْعَل

Indeed, after me there will be conflicts or affairs, so if you are able to end them in peace, then do so.

[Musnad Ahmad, Narrations of Ali ibn Abu Talib, Number 697]

Abu Umamah, the companion of the Prophet, said:

أَمَرَنَا نَبِيُّنَا صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنْ نُفْشِيَ السَّلَامَ

Our Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم commanded us to spread peace.

[Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 33, Number 3693]

In a previous article we demonstrated the libel of the so-called “verse of the sword” by which Extremists wage war against peaceful non-Muslims and Islamophobes wage war against peaceful Muslims. Here they will disagree with us again, insisting that Islam gives Muslims the right to transgress the natural human rights of another. If only they would look to what Islam – and all revealed religions and enlightened philosophies – are teaching about the common good. Thus, the allies of bigotry lead us toward the path of hate, violence, and destruction.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

(www.faithinallah.org / 09.03.2012)

Free Hana Al-Shalabi

Some tweeps are saying that #PalestinianHana was trending 3rd in the U.S.

#HanaShalabi arrested w/no charges,beaten,strip searched, assaulted and is forbidden from family visits. Demand releasing#PalestinianHana

During the hearing #HanaShalabi’s arms and legs were shackled in a very strict manner. #PalestinianHana

There’s also the fact that during this campaign, Israel was bombing Gaza. #PalestinianHana

We get a lot of support from Bahraini tweeps who were at massive protest of their own today that might be why #PalestinianHana didn’t trend

After the strip search before last court, #HanaShalabi was told that she would be punished upon her return to Hasharon#PalestinianHana

we do not tweet to trend; we tweet to raise awareness. trending is the bonus. #PalestinianHana

As I type, there’s a trend attempt to support #PalestinianHana on hunger strike & #ArabIdol is on. Which 1 do u think has all the attention?

#PalestinianHana is a human against an inhumane system

#Shalit is roaming free, but Hana has been re-arrested and another palestinian released in the deal was killed today #PalestinianHana

Again, Bless the Irish | Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign:http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/report-free-hana-shalabi-ipsc-mark-international-womens-day-2012#.T1pcgd4PRuo.twitter#palestinianHana

” #HanaShalabi should not be forced to wait 66 days before the world sits up and takes notice” #PalestinianHana

“My life collapsed after shes detained.Im distracted all day and night.I think of Hana and cry for her” #HanaShalabi‘s mom

Amnesty International’s action alert for #PalestinianHanahttp://goo.gl/JXlB8 Please retweet and join in trending for Hana Al-Shalabi!

#PalestinianHana should trend.. tweet tweet for #HanaShalaby..

Stop Administrative Detention #PalestinianHana

Israeli airstrike kills commander of Gaza militant group responsible for Schalit abduction

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Friday killed the commander of the militant group behind the abduction of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who was held captive for more than five years and freed in a prisoner swap for more than 1,000 Palestinians.

The midday attack marked the highest profile Israeli strike against the coastal strip in several months and immediately sparked retaliatory rocket attacks toward Israel _ raising the specter of a violent escalation after a period of relative calm.

The Israeli military said it targeted Zuhair al-Qaissi, the commander of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee, a large militant group closely aligned with Gaza’s Hamas rulers. The explosion tore apart al-Qaissi’s blue sedan and also killed his son-in-law, Mahmoud Hanini _ himself a top PRC field commander.

Another low ranking Gaza militant was also seriously wounded in the attack. Hours later, Israeli military killed two more militants that it said were about to launch rockets.

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli drones were seen hovering above just moments before al-Qaissi’s vehicle burst into flames. They said the blast was so fierce that al-Qaissi’s head detached as a result.

The Israeli military said al-Qaissi was plotting an infiltration attack into Israel similar to the one he orchestrated in August from the Sinai peninsula that killed eight Israelis and injured 40 more.

The armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee is responsible for dozens of deadly attacks against Israelis is recent years and its members are among the most active rocket launchers from Gaza into Israel.

The Israeli military said al-Qaissi was also in charge of transferring funds from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to other militant groups in Gaza.

But the group is mostly known for carrying out the brazen 2006 abduction of Schalit and holding on to him for more than five years until he was freed in a massive prisoner swap last year.

Israel’s agreement to release 1,027 Palestinians for Schalit was the most lopsided swap in the country’s history. Hundreds of those released have vowed to resume violence against Israel.

Israel often targets Gaza militants it says are preparing attacks, but tensions have been relatively calm in recent months with Israel mostly targeting smuggling tunnels from Egypt and refraining from targeting individuals. Al-Qaissi, who is also known as Abu Ibrahim, is the highest profile casualty in Gaza since his predecessor, Kamal Nairab, was killed seven months ago in similar fashion.

The military said Palestinian militants had fired some 50 rockets and mortar shells at Israel over the past two months, causing no casualties and little damage.

Three mortars landed in Israeli territory prior to Friday’s strike. After the strike about a half dozen rockets were fired, and Gaza militants promised many more would come.

“The coward Zionists have committed an ugly crime and they know the price that they are going to pay,” said a PRC spokesman, who goes by the pseudonym Abu Mujahid.

“We call on our fighters to respond to the Zionist enemy with all our strength,” he said. “We shall avenge our leader and the response, God willing, will be equal to the size of the heinous crime.”

The Israeli military insisted it did not want an escalation but said it was “prepared to defend the residents of Israel.”

But it appeared to be getting ready for the worst, issuing a warning to Israeli residents living within rocket range from Gaza to stay close to home Friday night and recommending that outdoor events be canceled Saturday.

Israel said Hamas was using other groups to carry out attacks in its place and warned that Gaza’s rulers “will bear the consequences of these actions” if an escalation took place.

Mere hours later, Israel struck two more Gaza militants preparing to fire rockets. Gaza Health Ministry official Adham Abu Salmiya confirmed two were killed east of Gaza City. The Islamic Jihad said the dead men were its members.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed Israel for sparking a new escalation.

“The blood of our martyrs will not go in vain,” he said.

(www.newser.com / 09.03.2012)

Protest held outside UN against Balochistan unrest

GENEVA: A large demonstration was held outside the United Nations here on the occasion of the 19th Session of UN Human Rights Council to condemn the human rights violations in Balochistan and ask for the end of military operation in the restive insurgency-hit province.The demonstration was organised and led by Mehran Baloch, Balochistan’s representative at the United Nations and Noordin Mengal. The participants traveled from London, Germany, Canada, France and Brussels to take part in the protest. World Sindhi Congress, Baloch Human Rights Council and United Kashmir People’s National Party also joined the Baloch demonstrators to support their demands.

The demonstrators stood outside the UN building for two hours and held placards calling for the accountability of the intelligence agencies and the provision of justice for the missing persons whose fate is unknown.

Addressing the demonstrators, Mehran Baloch called on the international community to take notice of the on-going military operation in the province.

He said the government had failed to address the issues of Balochistan and it was relying on gimmicks such as the Aghaz-e-Haqooq package and other superficial measures to hoodwink the Baloch people and the international community. He said there was no difference between the current government and Pervez Musharraf’s rule. “Human rights violations under the PPP government have increased manifold. The current government is involved in dividing the Baloch people and plundering their resources. This government is acting criminally with the help of some Baloch who have sold their soul and conscience for privileges and material gains,” said Mehran.

He said the military operation was focused on targeting those who are raising voice against the atrocities and injustices. He called on the international community to take notice of the growing number of extra judicial killings in the province.

Mehran Baloch said the support shown by the US Senators to the Baloch cause was a “step in the right direction” and called on the European countries to follow the suit and pressurise Pakistan into accepting the demands of the Baloch people.

Other speakers said the government had been rattled by the coverage the Balochistan issue had received on various news channels and through the ministry of information the government was trying to put curb on media to further suppress the Balochistan issue.

(www.balochjohd.com / 09.03.2012)

People of the world unite to unoccupy Jerusalem

A two-day conference of the international committee for the “Global March to Jerusalem” in Amman concluded last week – with member committees, representing more than 60 countries present. The head of the Jordanian committee taking part in the meeting, Abdullah Obeidat, said that “trade unions and opposition parties decided to support the march and participate in defence of the holy city and Palestinian families in the occupied territories.”1

On March 30th, Land Day, in the spirit of the amazing people’s movements worldwide, Palestinian refugees will march with freedom lovers and justice seekers from all over the world, to Jerusalem. The aim of participants is to draw attention to the systematic discrimination of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and make a concrete effort to end the occupation, through peaceful means.

Recent, ongoing clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at Al-Aqsa mosque have left dozens of Palestinians injured and detained, for throwing stones at police on the plaza; with no end in sight. The latest spark was caused by calls of right wing groups to ‘Occupy Al-Aqsa’2 who (in typical fashion, appropriated the name from activists from the Northern American movement to restore social and economic justice!) stormed the compound, containing the Al-Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site in Islam. Adding fuel to the fire, was an Israeli supreme court order earlier this month to allow the right of non-Muslims to pray in Al Aqsa Mosque. Finally, in a move reminiscent of Arial Sharon’s provocative visit to Al Aqsa mosque in 2000 which ignited the second intifada, far-right Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin distributed leaflets calling to remove “Israel’s enemies”, from Islam’s third holiest site.3

Meanwhile, despite criticisms by Palestinians, the US, UN and several Arab States- Israel preliminarily approved a plan to build 600 new settlements, deep inside the West Bank. Yariv Oppenheimer, director of Peace Now, an Israeli group that opposes settlement construction, called it the biggest settlement construction plan in the West Bank since Netanyahu took office three years ago.4 Yet again, the government’s unilateral policies and display of complete contempt, directly undermine ‘peace talks’ – which have been stalled for the past three years, over the issue of Jewish settlements. Unless a massive and just intervention is taken immediately, the results will be devastating, and are likely to trigger catastrophic, wide-spread violence.

To understand these ongoing policies, one can look directly to the Israeli government, which routinely publishes its plans involving the further judaization of Jerusalem. The most recent document is titled: “Demography, Geopolitics, and the Future of Israel’s Capital: Jerusalem’s Proposed Master Plan for Jerusalem-2020″ 5 . Within these pages, the Jerusalem Municipality’s District Planning and Building Committee has drawn up the blue print to completely transform the holy city for the three religions – into a Jewish city – by isolating it with a wall of settlements. In order to carry out their goals, official Israeli policies involve home demolitions, dispossession and settlement construction to solidify “the capital and spiritual center of Israel and the Jewish people”.

Since 1967, thousands of Palestinian homes have been demolished, many multiple times over and 20,000 Palestinian housing units face demolition to accommodate new settlements, Old City excavation projects and other Jewish only developments. If successfully implemented, Palestinians will be dispossessed, displaced and excluded from what remains of their city, and future capital. Palestinians comprise about one-third of the city’s population, confined to 7% of its land in mostly inadequate housing. Already, discriminatory measures exist, including encircling densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods by “green space” or “unzoned land” where building is prohibited. Applications to rezone, increase density, or build in small areas designated for residential construction are routinely denied. As a result, new housing can’t accommodate Palestinian population increases.

“Settlements built on the (city’s) outskirts also dissect the continuity between the northern and southern West Bank, jeopardizing the feasibility of a future Palestinian State. As second class residents, the right of East Jerusalem Palestinians to their increasingly occupied city keep eroding, including to their own homes.” While Israel’s Master Plan 2020 declares its goal to plan for the long term fate of East Jerusalem, “it has been prepared with no consultation of any kind with the Palestinian community.” As Stephen Lendman, in one of the few articles which discusses the plan put it, “Why? Because exclusion is eventually planned, though not explicitly stated in 2020′s language.” http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/israels-jerusalem-master-plan-2020.html

International Accountability in the Face of Israeli Aggression?

The US officially takes a position against Israeli settlement expansion and future construction projects in East Jerusalem. However, with strong ties to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Barack Obama, has also said that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel during his campaign in the Democratic primaries for the presidency and has since reiterated that there would be no limits on Jewish construction activity in a “united Jerusalem”. It is well known that right-wing Jewish groups in the US, directly finance the construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Attempts by Israeli right-wing extremists to storm the mosque, are growing by the number and frequency each week. Awqaf officials also blame Arab states’ for the emerging crisis by failing to bring the case to the international community’s attention.”

People of the world taking action, where governments have failed.

For over 64 years, the state of Israel has been obsessed with one racist goal; demographics and keeping a Jewish majority. Some call it apartheid, others ethnic cleansing, I think a more accurate term is ethnocracy or ethnocide. Yet one thing is clear, every Israeli government has created policies with one goal in mind – to get, and keep Palestinians out of their homeland – and make way for a purely Jewish state. Meanwhile Europe and the UN, who created this problem, stand idly by and watch as Palestinians endure systematic dispossession and displacement.

Today, humanity is at a crossroads–people of the world are beginning to understand that we are the 99% and have far more in common, then our so-called leaders. We have an unprecedented opportunity to choose a new path, and join the millions world wide who have decided to take their destiny into their own hands. In the absence of governmental officials to do what’s legal and moral, Palestinians are calling on global citizen’s of conscious, to take a stand – before it’s too late.

The GMJ has heeded this call, and “inspired firstly by our convictions, secondly by the justice of our cause and thirdly by the spirit of the Arab spring revolution will peacefully march from surrounding countries, to the borders” – to fulfill a dream that lies in the center of every refugees heart, to return home. What makes this journey especially meaningful is not only do Palestinians have the oldest and longest running refugee population in the world, their home is at the center of the deeply contentious struggle to liberate Jerusalem, the capital of the world’s three religions – and quite literally the conscious and soul of humanity.

For more information about the Global March to Jerusalem, see: http://www.gmj-na.org/participationoptions.html or email: right2return@gmail.com.

1. Preparations continue for the Global March to Jerusalem, February, 27, 2012 – http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/3462-preparations-continue-for-the-global-march-to-jerusalem

2. Amidst Jewish calls to ‘storm Al Aqsa’, Arabs ‘largely silent’ Jordan Times; Rafiq A. Tschannen, February 25th, 2012 – http://www.themuslimtimes.org/2012/02/countries/israel/amidst-jewish-calls-to-storm-al-aqsa-arabs-largely-silent

3. Israeli forces clash with worshipers at Al-Aqsa, Maan News, February 24, 2012 – http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=462853

4. West Bank settlement housing gets initial approval Daniel Estrin, Associated Press, February 22, 2012: http://www.chron.com/news/article/West-Bank-settlement-housing-gets-initial-approval-3349564.php
5. Demography, Geopolitics, and the Future of Israel’s Capital: Jerusalem’s Proposed Master PlanJerusalem Center for Public Affairs – 2010, http://jcpa.org/text/Jerusalem-Master-Plan.pdf

6. Jordan warns Israel over Al Aqsa as tensions reach boiling point: Jordan Times, February 20th – http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093485000

7. Israel’s Jerusalem Master Plan 2020 – by Stephen Lendman – Thursday, December 16, 2010 http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/israels-jerusalem-master-plan-2020.html

8. From the Global March to Jerusalem, int’l campaign website: http://gm2j.com/main/about/

(mondoweiss.net / 08.03.2012)

Fatah official: PA preparing message on future talks

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fatah official Azzam Ahmad said Thursday that Palestinian officials were preparing the final wording of a letter to be delivered to Israel and international actors on the status of peace talks.

Ahmad told Voice of Palestine radio that the message will be delivered next week.

Regarding progress on the stalled reconciliation deal which was signed last May, the official said a two-week period granted for Hamas to hold internal discussions had expired. They should now act, he said.

There are currently no scheduled meetings between the factions, he added.

(www.maannews.net / 08.03.2012)