Planned museum hopes to shed light on islam

AUSTRALIA’S first Islamic museum is to be built in Thornbury and will work to dispel stereotypes of the often misunderstood religious minority.

The project is spearheaded by a group of Melbourne Muslims, including prominent business figures Ahmed and Moustafa Fahour, and will seek to showcase the community’s cultural contribution in a mainstream museum setting.

Modelled on ventures such as the Chinese Museum, the Museo Italiano in Carlton and the Jewish Museum in St Kilda, the idea for a precinct emphasising heritage and art drawn from the more than 60 ethnicities who identify as Muslim here was developed by Macquarie banker Moustafa Fahour and his wife Maysaa.

“I am a very proud Australian Muslim,” says Moustafa Fahour, 29, one of eight children born to Lebanese migrant parents who settled in Melbourne in the 1960s.

Maysaa Fahour, 27, a teacher who has assumed the chairmanship of the board that will oversee the museum and raise funds for the construction, approached her brother-in-law, Australia Post chief Ahmed Fahour, at a family barbecue and he agreed to become the museum’s patron.

The venture has recently been granted charity status by the Australian Tax Office and has the personal endorsement of Victoria’s Multicultural Affairs Minister Nick Kotsiras.

Land has already been acquired at a Thornbury industrial site. While plans to refit the former factory will have to go through council approval processes, the Darebin Council had signalled that an Islamic museum would be welcome in the neighbourhood, Moustafa Fahour said.

The museum will include a permanent exhibition featuring basic information about Muslims’ religious beliefs provided in a digestible form to the public.

School groups are also expected to tour on a daily basis.

”As a mother, I love the NGV and Scienceworks and have my kids participate in knowledgeable activities. Nowhere was there something about Islam … It struck me as something to really strive for,” said Mrs Fahour, who settled here as a child-migrant from Lebanon.

Apart from a six-member board, which has been collaborating on the idea for about two years, an advisory committee includes SBS board member Hass Dellal, Immigration Museum manager Padmini Sebastian and ABC personality and politics lecturer Waleed Aly. Islamic art expert Phillip George is among the arts advisers.

At the 2006 census there were more than 340,000 Muslims in Australia, of whom 128,904 were born here.

( / 02.05.2011)

The Death of Bin Laden: Suspicions and Questions

It can be of no doubt that many around the world are relieved, some even ecstatic, by the death of Osama bin Laden. Reports from all over the world following US President Obama’s announcement that US military personnel had killed bin Laden show scenes of jubilation in America, Europe, and even expressions of relief from many Muslim organisations around the world. However, there are many unanswered questions and even details that can be drawn out and analysed following the killing of bin Laden.
Bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been the US governments scapegoats and raison d’être for a number of wars and even technically illegal drone attacks in areas like North Western Pakistan for a very long time now. Whenever something violent happens in the news, one can be certain that buzzwords and terms such as “terrorists”, “Islamists”, “Jihadists”, and “al-Qaeda” will be bandied about and sensationalised in the mainstream media before any significant evidence has even been provided, and without a real intellectual understanding of what these terms really define and mean. It has become very convenient for governments around the world to declare many threats posed to them as representative of elements of al-Qaeda. Witness the crazed despot, Muammar al-Gaddafi, who insisted that the recent uprisings in Libya are a result of al-Qaeda dosing impressionable young men with hallucinogens. Clearly, that is one extreme example, but it is not hard to find others all over the world.

The most pertinent question is this; has the US known about bin Laden’s whereabouts for a long time and done nothing because it served their interests to have an international bogeyman? If the above is true, then it is clear that bin Laden had outlived his usefulness.

What is instantly striking about this US operation is that bin Laden was purported to be living in a compound worth millions of dollars in the city of Abbottabad, north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad by some 100km. A CIA official was reported on Aljazeera as saying; “We were shocked by what we saw, an extraordinarily unique compound. It has 12-to-18-foot walls, topped with barbed wire; internal walls sectioned off different areas of the compound; access was restricted by two security gates”. In addition to all of this, it also had its own waste burning facility. If we compare bin Laden’s “hideout” with a previous fugitive hunted by the US, we can see instant oddities. When Saddam Hussein went on the run, he significantly changed his appearance, fled from place to place, and eventually was found hiding underground in what was dubbed a “spider hole”. Saddam, as we have been led to believe, was far less a wanted man than bin Laden, yet he went out of his way to travel discreetly and not stay in one place for too long. Bin Laden on the other hand lived in a fortified compound; hardly low profile. The waste disposal facility located inside would indicate that a large amount of people lived within, or at least transited through, this compound. The barbed wire walls and two security gates make this seem more like a military base than a hideout. How did the US find Saddam in an underground hole but could not find bin Laden in a suspicious complex? Also, surely bin Laden is not stupid enough to seek refuge in an eyesore like that unless he had some sort of assurances, and this leads to our next point.

President Obama’s administration was keen to distance itself from any link between their operation and collusion with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). According to one US official, “An operation like this has the utmost operational security attached to it. No other country was informed, and a small circle of people within the United States new about it”. Considering that bin Laden’s compound has been shown to have been significantly brazen, and that according to Aljazeera it was not far from a Pakistani military academy, then it might be safe to conclude that Pakistan certainly was not informed by the US. Indeed, perhaps Pakistani ISI did the informing, as the CIA are apparently adept at finding targets to illegally send drones after but not good  or even competent enough to find a blatant compound and investigate via easily bribed Pakistani sources who are known for their corruption. It might be interesting to view US-Pakistani relations in the coming months to see if Pakistan gains anything. If relations improve, then it hints at ISI knowledge of bin Laden’s whereabouts and also that they were seemingly just waiting for the right indication from the US so that they could let the cat out of the bag. If relations degenerate, then it is a possibility that Pakistan intended to hold onto bin Laden to maybe bargain with the US, but were coerced by Washington into handing bin Laden over or else suffering consequences. As it stands, the Pakistani foreign minister has declared this operation a “great victory” while Obama has said that Pakistan needs to do more in the fight against terrorism which perhaps indicates Pakistan’s desire to ingratiate themselves with the US, but their overtures are receiving a lukewarm response at best.

Finally, the decision to kill bin Laden is interesting in itself. Although Washington has said that US forces tried to capture bin Laden but were forced to kill him after he resisted, this can probably be discounted as hogwash. US forces brought in combat helicopters and enough firepower to devastate the compound, as images show fires amidst the wreckage. Going back to Saddam, he was captured easily enough without significant infrastructure damage and reportedly via the use of gas to render him unconscious. Saddam was hiding in a rural farm where gas use can potentially be dissipated depending on wind conditions and relative density of the gas compared to the air. Could similar tactics not have been used for bin Laden? After all, he was in a compound that was enclosed by high walls which meant that the area could have been saturated with less risk. Perhaps he was killed to make sure that he was never able to divulge information. As is well known, bin Laden had a relationship with the CIA when they used to provide him with arms and expertise. The fact that the ISI appeared to have been hosting bin Laden – and also that it is difficult to believe that the CIA did not know this – perhaps indicates that his relationship with the US extended beyond what has been commonly reported. Saddam Hussein was put on a trial that can largely be considered a sham. Whenever he was about to reveal something interesting, audio and video would be cut under the weak excuse of Iraqi national security. As bin Laden is not a head of state like Saddam, this excuse cannot be recycled and he could potentially reveal many embarrassing details about US activities so therefore he had to be killed.

Did bin Laden outlive his usefulness because he was no longer really taken as a serious threat? After all, al-Qaeda is about as collected and organised as thin air, and do not operate from any known bases (evidently excluding bin Laden himself). Additionally, the new Arab revolutions show that many across the Arab world do not care about al-Qaeda’s ideological leadership, and instead cherish the idea of freedom and democracy. If Arabs appear to be more democratic in the public eye, demonising them and some of their leaders via scare-mongering and the threat of al-Qaeda becomes less credible and less workable. Saddam’s Iraq was accused of harbouring al-Qaeda, but it would have been difficult to believe that if Iraq had a leader who was considered to be democratically elected and who also engaged with other international democracies. Now, however, Obama can claim a major domestic political victory and will likely use it in his next election campaign. In terms of real gain, nothing has really been achieved with the death of bin Laden. As US military analyst Mark Kimmet said, bin Laden has not directly led al-Qaeda for many years and was more of a figurehead. This analysis is apt, though obvious, and shows that the “War on Terror” will likely continue unabated.

( / 02.05.2011)

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Outlines Political Ambitions

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest Islamic group, today announced that it will not enter a candidate in the presidential election but will contend for as many as half of the seats in parliament.

The group earlier said it would contend for only one-third of parliament’s 508 seats.

Mahmoud Mosri, head of the group’s newly formed Freedom and Justice party, told reporters today that they are open to Muslim, Christian, and women candidates because, as he said, it is “not a religious party, not a theocratic party.”

The Muslim Brotherhood is seen as one of the best-organized political parties in Egypt and its dominance has raised fears that political Islam will become a powerful force in Egyptian politics.

The formerly banned group is also believed to have played a leading role in the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Egypt’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for September.

( / 02.05.2011)

Israeli jets prepare in Iraq to strike Iran

Israeli F-15 fighter jets
Israeli jet fighters have reportedly conducted drills at a military base in Iraq in order to strike targets inside Iran.

A considerable number of Israeli warplanes were seen at al-Asad base in Iraq, reported a source close to prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sader’s group.

The aircraft reportedly included F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, and KC-10 jet fighters.

The warplanes carried out their week-long exercises at nights, the same source added.

The drills were reportedly aimed at preparing to strike Iran’s air defense systems, disrupt Iran’s radars and attack targets deep inside Iran.

Iraqi officials had not been notified of the exercises, which were conducted in collaboration with the US military.

The United States maintains numerous bases in Iraq, and the Baghdad government is not involved in any of the military deployments taking place there.

( / 02.05.2011)

Official: Israeli troops block villagers from crops

TUBAS (Ma’an) — Israeli troops blocked villagers from collecting their crops in the area of Al-Malih village on Monday, a local official said.

The village council head, Aref Daraghmeh, told Ma’an that Israeli military vehicles barred villagers from accessing their land to collect their produce, and damaged a large quantity of crops in the area, which lies in the northern West Bank district of Tubas.

Daraghmeh said that crops had also been damaged by Israeli troops last year, and appealed to the Palestinian Authority to intervene and help the villagers.

( 02.05.2011)

An Irishman has been kidnapped

An Irish writer and activist, Patrick MacManus, has been kidnapped in Palestine by the Israelis without warrant or explanation, and his location is currently unknown.

Patrick is a veteran activist with experience in just about every corner of the globe where oppression exists. A native of Ireland, he was chairman of the Danish Anti-arpethied committee in the 80’s, and was a spokesperson for the group Rebellion, which was formed to oppose the EU’s “Anti-Terror Laws” and to support the FARC and the PFLP. In 2009, he was arrested by the Danish Political Police (yes, that’s their name) and charged with sending 10,000 euros to the FARC. The local Danish court acquitted him, saying that in context of the Israeli and Colombian regimes, resistance was legitimate.

The prosecution refused to relent, and took their cases to two higher courts. In 2010, After a four day trial that was drawn out over six months, Patrick was found guilty of aiding terrorism and sentenced to 6 months in prison. Had he not been over 60 years old and in ill health, the sentence could have been up to ten years. During the trial, veterans of the Danish Resistance during World War 2 protested in favor of Macmanus and his supporters hoisted resistance flags.

(It is important to note that the prosecutions 2 main witnesses were a member of Israeli intelligence and an American “security contractor”)

Upon his release, Patrick immediately went back to Palestine where he campaigned for his primary cause, that of the Palestinian people, and wrote extensively before his disappearance.

What set Patrick apart from other activists was not just the variety of places he helped, but his approach: he was a poet. He loved poetry, and saw it in resistance and risen masses. Of poets he wrote:

“The story of resistance is the story of defeat, of years and years silenced by the force of power….but poets find a way…of giving life to things that seemed to have gone. A world of word which seems far away, on themes and history which to power seems irrelevant in its oppression of the day. An then, on another day, it will all be said again, in voices clear and fearless”

He wrote a lot about the Kurdish poets of the 20th century (Kurdistan was another spot for him), particularly Abdul Gora. who helped define much of the Kurdish literary identity. Before his disappearance he was working on a compilation of poetry of resistance from around the world.

He also wrote extensively via a blog, (the newspapers of today’s revolutions) in which he talked about everything from the Japanese working class and the tsunami, to poets, to Palestine, and the history of his own homeland, Ireland. His articles were marked by a particular scholarliness and attention that is lacking in the works of many of his contemporaries. It is important to note that not once in any article was violence advocated over peaceful methods. Patrick believed firmly that oppression demanded resistance, but violence was always the last, but legitimate, resort.

His widespread activism (Palestine, Denmark, Kurdistan, Swaziland, Columbia, the Philippines, and South Africa to name the primary countries) would seem to give the impression that he was an internationalist whose own homeland was forgotten to him, but nothing is further from the truth. He loved Ireland deeply, traveled it extensively, and regretted that his commitments to Palestine prevented him from doing more. To this end he encouraged Irishman to be involved in the cause of their country. “He changed my life” one Irish American, now a well-accomplished activist, recalled. “He was like a mentor, he taught me to stand up and to speak out.”

Patrick’s life shows the impact one person can make Like a pebble thrown in water, each person’s life creates ripples that spread and expand. Patrick created many ripples in his life. It is only fitting that his concern is repaid with ours. We should be thankful that we are given the chance to create ripples that spread in the lives of others as he did.

What you can do:

-Contact the Israeli prison department and police and demand his release and an explanation.
-Pass the word around about his case.

His blog:
“9 Theses: the Right of Resistance”

(Facebook / 02.05.2011)

The UN Security Council Has Failed To Stop Massive Israeli War Crimes In Gaza

By Brussells Tribunal

10 January, 2009

After almost two weeks of impotence, during which an estimated 790 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, including 230 children, a further 1080 children among the 3300 injured, the UN Security Council passed — with US abstention — a weak and indeterminate resolution that has failed to force the State of Israel to halt its criminal onslaught on the occupied people of Gaza, encircled and unable to avoid being massacred.

Today, the security cabinet of the Israeli government, proving again its contempt for its obligations as a member state of the UN, rejected this resolution in no uncertain terms, saying that the State of Israel has never agreed that “any outside body” would determine its military policy, deeming the resolution “not practical” — this a resolution that was even biased towards it, failing to mention Hamas, the elected government in Palestine. In other words, the slaughter will continue whether the Security Council demands that it end or not.

Israeli impunity, UNSC complicity

This outcome is proof that Israel acts with systematic impunity. It is also proof, as recognized by President of the UN General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto-Brockmann, that the Security Council is “dysfunctional”, excusing by omission massive and grave human rights abuses when perpetrated by one of its permanent members or their allies.

In doing so, and in the face of overwhelming evidence — much televised — of Israel war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, amounting to substantive evidence of the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people, the Security Council has effectively shown that it cannot — or is not willing to — maintain international peace and security and satisfy the Palestinian people’s national right to live peacefully, free on its land.

Uniting for peace resolution

The world need not endure this horror. A mechanism exists that can take the protection of international peace and security, and the Palestinian people, out of the hands of the Security Council and give it to the world community as a whole, represented by the General Assembly.[1] General Assembly President d’Escoto-Brockmann supports this mechanism and Malaysia already fulfilled the procedural obligation that one UN member state proposes it.

Hours before the Security Council voted on a resolution made so weak and bereft of mechanisms of enforcement that Israel could dismiss it, a General Assembly emergency session was due to be held. There is evidence that this prospect alone forced the Security Council to act, largely to block invocation of Resolution 377. Given the result, and given Israel’s rejection of Security Council authority, it is urgent that this session convenes and imposes upon Israel an immediate ceasefire, according to the overwhelming will of the international community and people everywhere, or face international ostracism.

Israel fears Resolution 377

According to UN General Assembly Resolution 377, emergency special sessions of the General Assembly are warranted to act when the Security Council “fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”[2] The government of Israel itself has ensured the failure of the Security Council to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

That Israel’s violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Gaza are so flagrant, and that Israel rejects the authority of the Security Council prime facie, suggests as the only route possible — a last resort for the Palestinian people in Gaza — the convening of an emergency session of the General Assembly where no veto could be invoked, to impose on Israel an immediate ceasefire backed by credible collective measures.

Urgent call for action

As stated by the Palestinian human rights community in their 30 December call to invoke Resolution 377[3]: “The civilian population of the occupied Gaza Strip will inevitably continue to suffer heavy losses without the external intervention of the international community.”

In renewing the call to invoke Resolution 377, we support Special Rapporteur Richard Falk’s demand on “all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel’s serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.”

Only the General Assembly can impose, where the Security Council fails, an immediate ceasefire on Israel.

We call upon human rights groups, lawyers and legal organizations, trade unions, intellectuals, the anti-war movement and all people of conscience to support President d’Escoto-Brockmann, demand that an emergency session of the General Assembly be convened under authority of Resolution 377, and to participate in the growing international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

We call upon the UN human rights system to authorize an effective investigation of Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, including its wilful killings, use of internationally prohibited weapons, destruction of civilian infrastructure, targeting of schools, higher education institutions, mosques and civilian shelters, and even international humanitarian aid workers. The UN Human Rights Council has an obligation to investigate these elements of genocide and in doing so contribute to ending it.

As a signal to Israel, we call upon all states to cut diplomatic relations with Israel forthwith and for the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions to hold an immediate conference to re-establish respect for international humanitarian law. On the basis of its past and present impunity, Israel should be expelled from the United Nations.

All should demand an immediate Israeli ceasefire, the immediate withdrawal of all belligerent Israeli military forces, and the end of the blockade. Upon realization, collective measures should be taken at all levels to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine and to oblige Israeli society to respect the equality of human rights. Until the occupation of Palestine ends, we underline the legal and guaranteed right of the Palestinian people to resist Israeli aggression by all means.

The BRussells Tribunal Committee

9 January 2009

Please sign and circulate this statement widely.

For individual and organizational endorsements:

[1] “Uniting for Peace Resolution”, UN General Assembly Resolution 377 (V) A 1950, 3 November 1950,

[2] Letter from Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev to UN General Assembly President Manuel d’Escoto-Brockmann, 8 January 2009,

[3] “Gross Human Rights Violations and War Crimes in the Gaza Strip”, 30 December 2008,

( / 01.05.2011)

Gaza is een taboe voor Nederland

Het is heel erg gesteld met de Westerse media en die van Nederland in het bijzonder. Gaza komt en mag niet in het nieuws, niet in de geschreven media, gesproken media of op tv. Want we moeten ‘onze’ relatie met Israel versterken (uit het partijprogramma van het kabinet). Deze week was er dan misschien even een “opleving” … Sterker nog, 28 april was er een spoeddebat en werd een motie aangenomen van de PVV met de tekst: “uit te spreken dat deze flotilla een provocatie is en terroristische organisaties tot nut strekt of kan strekken”. En wat gebeurde er? De motie werd aangenomen met steun van de VVD, CDA. PVV, CU en SGP. Drie christelijke partijen die kiezen voor zo’n tekst en zich niet bekommeren over ‘hun naasten’ in Palestina. In het hele debat werd niet gesproken over de bezetting van de Palestijnse gebieden, werd er niet gesproken over het leed dat de Palestijnse bevolking elke dag ondervindt, werd niet gesproken over de goederen die niet het land mogen binnenkomen, werd niet gesproken over de verschrikkelijke aanvallen van Israel op Palestijnse kinderen en zo kan ik nog wel doorgaan. Neen, er werd gesproken over het feit dat mensen die mee zouden varen op de flotilla mogelijk weleens terroristen konden zijn  en wapens zouden leveren aan mensen in Gaza. Waar heb ik die onzin meer gehoord?

Maar ‘verder’ komt Gaza niet in de media, want het mag niet; er rust een taboe op. We hebben een rechts kabinet en dat is verbonden met Israel, de een sterker dan de ander, maar het ligt er duimen dik bovenop.

In Nederland wordt er niet gesproken over Palestina of over Gaza; zelfs als het onderwerp bij een Islamitisch getinte omroep behandeld wordt, zit er een oerpessimist, die enig positief geluid meteen de grond inboort. Een persbericht dat bv. door de organisatie Nederland-Gaza is geschreven (“Zonder blokkade zou Gazavloot niet nodig zijn”) , kom je alleen maar tegen in de sociale media, maar niet in de geschreven media. De media wil gewoon niets schrijven over Palestina, alleen als het over vechten gaat, alleen als men iets negatiefs kan schrijven over Hamas, alleen als men de mensen kan wegzetten als terroristen al dan niet moslimterroristen, en ga zo maar door.

In een westerse wereld vol met moderne technieken, moet de gewone man op straat, het nieuws over Gaza halen van de Engelstalige, Franstalige en Arabischtalige media, waar volop nieuws te vinden is. In een eerder opiniestuk heb ik al gewezen (“Wat is er aan de hand met de Nederlandse media”) op het bovenstaande, ook dat alleen aandacht wordt gegeven aan oudere mensen, die weggezet worden als halve malloten als men positief spreekt over Gaza, zoals met de heer Van Agt is gedaan. Maar daarna mogen ze niets meer zeggen, de heer Van Agt niet, mevrouw Duisenberg niet en anderen niet. Doe me een lol en reken mij ook tot die oudere malloten, want ik blijf praten over Gaza; het is mijn plicht om dat te doen, daar de media het niet uit zichzelf doet.

De laatste weken heeft u niets kunnen lezen in de media over het feit

* dat Israel de Palestijnse identiteit op scholen probeert te onderdrukken (30 april)
* dat Israel 4 mensen in Gaza heeft verwond  (28 april)
* dat een 13-jarige jongen gewond is geraakt door Israëlische kolonisten (26 april)
* dat onbemande vliegtuigen (zgn. drones) al een tijd boven Gaza vliegen (25 april)
* dat de VS voor miljoenen aan wapens naar Israel verscheept hebben (24 april)
* dat het Rode Kruis durft te zeggen dat er geen humane crisis in Gaza zou zijn (24 april)
* dat een jong meisje, 10 jaar oud, Abeer Skafe, gestorven is aan een attack omdat ze haar gevangen genomen vader niet mocht bezoeken ( 23 april)
* dat Israel heeft aangegeven dat de nieuwe flotilla banden zou hebben met Hamas, dus voor het spoeddebat in de Tweede Kamer, toeval??? (23 april)
* dat Israel verschillende industriële faciliteiten in Gaza heeft vernietigd (21 april)

En zo kan de lijst nog verder gaan; indien u wilt weten, kunt u het een en het ander vinden op Dit is dezelfde site die ik ook al doorgegeven heb aan de Nederlandse media, maar waar geen gebruik van wordt gemaakt, want de media mag niet schrijven over Gaza, mag niet schrijven over het Palestijnse volk, mag niet schrijven over de bezetting van de Palestijnse gebieden. De media is niet onafhankelijk, maar loopt als een gemuilkorfde hond achter de regering aan om te werken aan een verbeterde band met Israel. En dit mag wel gaan over Palestijnse lijken, want dit is zgn. “bijkomende schade”.

Wordt het niet tijd dat u eens gaat zeggen, tot hier en niet verder? Gaat u nu eens zeggen, wij willen weten wat er gebeurd in Palestina? Gaat u eens zeggen, waarom altijd Israel en waarom niet eens nieuws uit Palestina?

Ik ben benieuwd of u durft te staan voor eerlijkheid, democratie (ook als het niet het westerse gezicht heeft) en onafhankelijke media.

Heated clashes erupt in several West Bank towns 1May11

Intense clashes flared in the West Bank districts of Al-Khalil and Nablus on Sunday morning, but no injuries have been reported.

Locals reported that Jewish settlers seeped into the Iraq and Burin villages southwest of Nablus city in northern West Bank in a bid to provoke and terrorize Palestinian residents.

Clashes broke out after locals addressed the attacks backed by the Israeli army.

The same morning, the Israeli army stormed the Abu Ishnineh district in southern Al-Khalil in search of youths suspected of throwing stones at them.

Locals told PIC correspondent that violent clashes ensued between the soldiers and dozens of youth amid a shower of rubber-coated bullets and gas and stun grenades.

Youth responded with stones and bottles without report of injury.

Earlier on Saturday, heated clashes ignited in the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Jerusalem’s Arab Silwan district.

Locals said youth hurled molotov cocktails on the roof of a Palestinian structure occupied by the Israeli army in order to protect nearby Jewish settlers and their armed militias.

Locals sustained breathing difficulties after the soldiers showered the community with gas grenades in pursuit of the youths.

( / 01.05.2011)

Deutsche Bahn stapt uit spoorproject Israël

Het Duitse spoorbedrijf Deutsche Bahn trekt zich terug uit een omstreden spoorproject in Israël. Dat heeft een woordvoerder van Deutsche Bahn zondag bevestigd naar aanleiding van berichtgeving in het blad Der Spiegel. Het project leidde tot veel protesten van pro-Palestijnse actiegroeperingen. Een dochterbedrijf van Deutsche Bahn trad op als adviseur bij de bouw van een nieuwe hogesnelheidsverbinding tussen Jeruzalem en Tel Aviv. Een deel van het spoortraject loopt over een lengte van 6 kilometer via de Westelijke Jordaanoever. Het 1,2 miljard euro kostende project moet uiterlijk in 2017 af zijn en verbindt de twee steden in een reistijd van 28 minuten. De rit over het bestaande traject duurt anderhalf uur.

Een groot deel van het spoortraject op de Westelijke Jordaanoever loopt via tunnels onder de grond. Actiegroepen vinden echter dat daardoor toch land van de Palestijnen wordt afgepakt en internationale regels worden geschonden. Deutsche Bahn gaf geen reden voor het besluit zich uit het project terug te trekken.

Israël heeft altijd aangegeven dat ook de Palestijnen zullen profiteren van het spoorproject. Er zou al begonnen zijn met de planning van de bouw van een spooruitbreiding die de stad Ramallah op de Westelijke Jordaanoever verbindt met de Gazastrook.

( / 01.05.2011)