The right to return home for Palestinian exiles

“Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s arrival in the Gaza Strip ended 45 years of exile from Palestinian lands while underscoring the resurgent prowess of Palestine on the world stage. Meshaal’s presence at a mass rally to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas is believed by many to be a strong signal to the beleaguered and internationally isolated Tel Aviv. Israel tried and failed to kill Meshaal himself in 1997 in a botched Mossad mission in Jordan.”

The political head of Hamas has returned to what remains of free Palestine -albeit in name- after a forty-five year exile that began with the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

After passing through the Egyptian border crossing, Meshaal knelt on the ground to offer a prayer of thanks and was then greeted by what seemed liked the entire Gaza population.

For millions of Palestinians driven from their homes and livelihoods by Israel’s army of occupation, the emotionally-charged landmark visit held significance far, far beyond an isolated visit by an endeared Palestinian freedom fighter.

Hot on the heels of the Gaza freedom fighters’ latest successful defense of their enclave, the occupied Palestine also won a historic victory at the UN. The UN General Assembly has officially recognized as a non-member observer, a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem – lands Israel occupied in 1967. Although the vote has yet to pay dividends to the situation on the ground, the international community has effectively endorsed the Palestinian position on their proposed future borders.

Israeli leaders, clearly still living in denial, responded to the Palestinians’ UN move by cutting off a regularly scheduled 100-million dollar tax transfer to the impoverished Palestinian Authority, and announced plans to build thousands of new settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s arrival in the Gaza Strip ended 45 years of exile from Palestinian lands while underscoring the resurgent prowess of Palestine on the world stage. Meshaal’s presence at a mass rally to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas is believed by many to be a strong signal to the beleaguered and internationally isolated Tel Aviv. Israel tried and failed to kill Meshaal himself in 1997 in a botched Mossad mission in Jordan.

Israel’s allies in the US, rather like wounded animals, have meanwhile been striking out at everybody and anybody including Iran and Russia. Left completely out of sorts, Washington has announced yet another set of illegal sanctions against Iran and even snapped at Russia using a Cold War era piece of legislation with a long-obsolete 1974 provision called the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, that tied trade relations with the former Soviet Union to the emigration of Jewish people. Calling the entire exercise “absurd”, Moscow has responded with its own set of sanctions against the US figures associated with torture and war crimes, leaving Washington to ponder the possible loss of exports to Russia currently worth 11-billion dollars but forecast to double over the next five years.

The erratic actions of Washington signal desperation in the face of political changes across the world that is beyond the United States’ control with the Middle East region by and large defying Washington on just about every issue crucial to the US hegemony there.

Millions of Palestinians living aboard who were ethnically cleansed from their land by Israel’s army of occupation are watching Khaled Meshaal’s visit to Gaza with some even allowing themselves to contemplate their return home someday soon. The significance of Meshaal’s return to the occupied Palestine has not been lost on Palestinians living in exile across the world. The visit indicates that the Palestinian right of return to their lands is Palestine’s red line where Washington and Tel Aviv are concerned.

With the alarm bells ringing in the Western capitals and completely panicked and politically baffling knee-jerk reactions from the US and Israel, it is becoming clear that events in the Middle East and North Africa region are fast leaving the sphere of US influence and taking on a life of their own.

Veteran Hamas strategist Mahmoud Al-Zahar told Reuters, “All Palestinians will eventually return to their homeland”.

A historic opportunity is facing not just Palestine but the entire world of Islam to stake its claim on the international stage. But we must remember that this is not the first time opportunities for such eventuality have arisen through selfless popular sacrifices and many others before have been squandered through mainly lack of unity. Leaders within the world of Islam must remember that opportunities of this magnitude do not come about every day and should the latest achievements be taken in vein, the prospects for any number of future generations could be lost.

Faith can move mountains but paving the road ahead, once the mountains have been moved, will also require unity, foresight and logic.

( / 11.12.2012)

Israel tanks, bulldozers enter Gaza in 1st post-truce incursion

An Israeli tank (file photo)

 An Israeli tank
Israeli forces have conducted a limited incursion into the Gaza Strip’s southern city of Khan Yunis for the first time after a cease-fire agreement ended the Israeli regime’s offensive on the blockaded coastal sliver.

Local sources reported on Monday that the Israeli army tanks and bulldozers launched the brief intrusion into the eastern city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.

The Tel Aviv regime’s recent incursion of the coastal enclave comes for the first time after an Egypt-mediated cease-fire put an end to Israel’s deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip on November 21.

Israeli military has already breached the truce deal on several instances.

On November 23, Israeli forces opened fire on a group of farmers in the village of Khuzaa, east of Khan Yunis, killing a young Palestinian and injuring seven others only two days after the cease-fire entered into effect.

Over 160 Palestinians, including women and children, lost their lives and about 1,200 others were injured in the Israeli aerial raids on Gaza that were carried out during the eight-day period of November 14-21.

Palestinian resistance fighters incessantly poured rockets and missiles on the Israeli cities, killing at least five Israelis, including one soldier, in retaliation for the deadly attacks on besieged territories.

( / 11.12.2012)

“Revolutionairen” roepen het Egyptische volk om “nee” te stemmen over de grondwet van de Broederschap


Onder de naam van “revolutionairen” roept de oppositie de massa’s van het Egyptische volk op om zich te verenigen tegen het passeren van een ontwerpgrondwet en  ’nee’ te stemmen tegen  de Broederschap,  om het land te redden van de dictatuur en tirannie van de Moslim Broederschap

De algemeen coördinator van de coalitie, politieke activist “Walid Arafat, ‘de coalitie van rebellen “en enkele andere politieke krachten”  zegt nu campagne te voeren, om de grootste menigte te bereiken.

Men hoopt dat het Egyptische volk deze grondwet verwerpt en een mening vormt  hoe gevaarlijk dat de Grondwet kan zijn. Met name de overdracht van macht en sociale rechtvaardigheid is afwezig in deze Grondwet.

Arafat zei: “De campagne is een campagne tegen de promotiecampagne die gelanceerd is door de Islamitische beweging onder leiding van de Moslim Broederschap om de straat te mobiliseren om “ja” te stemmen voor de grondwet.”

(vertaald van / 11.12.2012)

Protesters shut down UNRWA offices after layoffs

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Labor leaders at Palestinian refugee camps on Tuesday shut down all UNRWA sub-offices in the West Bank in protest of the dismissal of 130 employees and reductions of services.

Munthir Amira, director of the youth center of Aida refugee camp, told Ma’an that “it is time that UNRWA’s administration realize that the plight of Palestinian refugees can’t be a political trade or an opportunity for Western employees to seek livelihood.”

In al-Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, young men closed the UNRWA office protesting the reduction of services, according to a member of the local popular committee. He highlighted that the decision to discharge 130 employees would result in more reductions.

In the southern West Bank’s al-Arrub camp, the popular committee installed a sit-in tent after they closed the local UNRWA office. “We will go on with our protests until UNRWA retracts the unjust procedures against us,” said Ahmad Abu Khayran, head of the popular committee.

In al-Amari, in the central West Bank, local popular committees also closed the UNRWA office, and similar protests were held in Balata camp in the north.

The protests came days after popular committees in the West Bank wrote a letter to the director of UNRWA operations, Felipe Sanchez, asking him to reverse the decision to discharge 130 employees, and to bring an end to what protesters say is a reduction in services.

“The UNRWA policy in the West Bank became unacceptable. Reductions affect only the services, while the high-ranking executives who receive very high salaries still enjoy privileges which ministers in rich countries do not enjoy,” said Imad Abu Sunbul, a spokesman for the West Bank refugee camps.

“If UNRWA is really having a budget deficit, let them reduce expenses on the high-ranking executives whose salaries have not been affected by the reductions which started more than 10 years ago.

“It is unbelievable that a sick refugee pays 40 percent of his healthcare costs, while foreign employees enjoy countless privileges including shopping, trips and five-star hotels across the Middle East at the expense of the refugees.”

An UNRWA spokesman in Jerusalem did not immediately return calls late Tuesday.

( / 11.12.2012)

Two Injured as Israeli Troops Invade Ni’lin

Two Palestinian youth were reported injured on Tuesday night when Israeli troops invaded the central West Bank village of Ni’lin and clashed with local youth.

Soldiers shooting tear gas at weekly protest in Ni’lin – photo by Activestills
Soldiers shooting tear gas at weekly protest in Ni’lin

Witnesses told IMEMC that two Israeli military vehicles invaded the village then local youth hurled stones and empty glass bottles at invading forces, troops then fired live rounds and rubber-coated steel bullets at unarmed youth injuring two.

The two injured were identified as Ibraheem Srour, hit with a live round in his leg, and Mohamed Al Khawaja, hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his head. Both were moved to the nearby Ramallah city hospital for treatment.

Ni’lin organizes a weekly protest against the Israeli wall built on lands taken by the military from local farmers. Every fired Israeli soldiers attack the peaceful protesters with tear gas, rubber-coated steel bu8llets and live rounds.

( / 11.12.2012)

Israel’s army yet to name target of al-Dalou family attack

A Palestinian relative of four sibling children of the al-Dalou family,  who were killed in an Israeli air strike, reacts as he stands next their  bodies at a hospital in Gaza City November 18, 2012.  (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

A Palestinian relative of four sibling children of the al-Dalou family,
who were killed in an Israeli air strike, reacts as he stands next their
bodies at a hospital in Gaza City November 18, 2012.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Accused of committing a war crime by a leading human rights group, Israel’s army will still not identify the target of an airstrike on Gaza City that killed 10 relatives and two neighbors.

Israeli planes bombed the al-Dalou family home on Nov. 18, crushing to death two men, six women and four children, whose ages ranged from one to 83.

Human Rights Watch said Friday the strike “was a clear violation of the laws of war.”

“The Israeli claim that the attack on the al-Dalou home was justified is unsupported by the facts,” said HRW’s Fred Abrahams, who investigated the case in Gaza.

HRW noted “different explanations” from army officials over the attack, which is supported by a Ma’an review of available records and interviews with an army representative.

Yehiya Rabia or Muhammad al-Dalou?

On the day of the attack, Israel’s military named the target as Yehiya Rabia, described as the head of Hamas’ rocket launching unit. “There were civilians harmed by this,” army spokesman Yoav Mordechai told Israeli TV, saying he didn’t know the outcome of the strike on Rabia.

An Israeli military spokeswoman later told Ma’an that Rabia was not targeted during the eight-day war on Gaza, and his name never appeared on Israel’s list of militants it had killed.

Later that Sunday, army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich told the New York Times the strike had been an “accident.”

A day after the strike, Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an Israeli army report saying the mistaken attack was likely a technical failure: either a bomb misfired or the target was not identified correctly.

But ten days on, Leibovich told AFP that the army had in fact targeted a family member, Muhammad al-Dalou, describing him as a Hamas militant.

“There was no mistake from the IDF. It’s tragic when a terror operative is hiding among civilians but unfortunately it is part of Hamas and Islamic Jihad tactics,” she said on Nov. 28.

Human Rights Watch, noting that Muhammad al-Dalou is described by his commander and a police spokesman as a member of a civilian force protecting VIPs, does not find the shifting rationales convincing.

“Israel’s belated effort, once it could scour the list of victims, to defend the attack by naming a civilian police officer found among the dead suggests an after-the-fact attempt to justify the unjustifiable,” Abrahams said.

‘Not everything is known’

Questioned by Ma’an twice in the past week about the strike, Leibovich denied she had identified Muhammad al-Dalou as the target.

“What I said is that the targets we picked were not innocent civilians,” she said last Sunday.

Declining to comment on whether the intended target was killed, or the target’s name, she explained: “In this large scale operation there are many sites targeted, sometimes you can’t know ahead or you don’t know the result.”

Asked again for the target’s name after Friday’s HRW report, Leibovich told Ma’an: “Not everything is known at this point.”

Meanwhile, she continued to describe the target as a Hamas militant “who used the house as a hiding place.”

Leibovich said an army investigation was ongoing, and noted the al-Dalou family home was just one of over 1,500 sites hit during the war.

When asked if the al-Dalou strike might be prioritized as an incident for investigation due to the high civilian casualties, she said “we are looking at the operation as a whole, there are different types of investigations, different areas … with the airforce, intelligence.”

Army investigations

Investigation procedures by Israel’s army have been criticized by human rights groups in the country.

In May this year, the army closed an investigation into an airstrike on the al-Samouni home in Gaza that killed 21 civilians over three years earlier, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

The Military Advocate General said there was no evidence of wrongdoing and declined to pursue disciplinary or criminal measures, a response described by Israeli group B’Tselem as “unacceptable.”

B’Tselem director Jessica Montell wrote at the time: “The al-Samouni case only illustrates the broader problem regarding the military’s ability to examine itself.”

After the al-Dalou family killing, three human rights groups, one based in Israel and two in Gaza, wrote to the Military Advocate General demanding a criminal investigation be opened. They have yet to receive a response.

Human Rights Watch said Friday the “onus is on Israel to explain why it bombed a home full of civilians killing 12 people.”

“Even if al-Dalou, a low-ranking police officer, was a legitimate military target under the laws of war, the likelihood that the attack on a civilian home would have killed large numbers of civilians made it unlawfully disproportionate,” the group said.

Avoiding civilian casualties

Leibovich insists that civilians were not the target of the strike, and blamed militants for hiding amongst civilians, but would not specify what measures were taken to avoid casualties in the al-Dalou airstrike.

In general, she said, the army drops leaflets, sends messages, and drops warning devices to avoid harming civilians.

“Even if we didn’t call them, and I’m not saying we didn’t, we conveyed messages to Gaza through Palestinian media channels,” she said.

Israel’s army took over broadcast frequencies in Gaza during the assault, describing the measure as a way to communicate to the people of Gaza.

Meanwhile, the sole survivor of the airstrike, 16-year-old Nasser Saluha, told Human Rights Watch that “he had gone to the house to play with the other children and they were about to eat lunch in an upstairs room when the house was struck without any warning.”

Nasser, whose brother Samah was killed in the strike, described the strike to HRW: “I felt a shock and pressure and something was pulling me into the ground. I found myself lying on my back with dust and sand all over my body. I managed to get out of the rubble and run into the street.”

Eight of his relatives and two neighbors were pulled out of the rubble dead that day. It took another five days to retrieve the bodies of the final two casualties, 17-year-old Yara al-Dalou, and 29-year-old Muhammad.

( / 11.12.2012)

Israeli forces raid NGO offices in Ramallah

Israeli soldiers pictured during an operation.

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided three civil society organizations in Ramallah early Tuesday, a Ma’an correspondent said.

Soldiers raided the offices of the Agricultural Work Committees, prisoners group Addameer, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, located in Qaddura refugee camp.

Four laptops, one hard disk and a video camera were taken from Addameer’s office, a statement from the group said. It is the first time the prisoners group has been raided since 2002, during the height of the second Palestinian intifada.

Israeli forces confiscated files and computer hardware from the women’s committee before ransacking the office, witnesses said.

During the raid, clashes broke out with local youths and Israeli soldiers, who responded by firing tear gas.

Military forces also raided the offices of the Palestinian NGO Network, Ma’an’s reporter said.

“This comes in the context of the UN’s decision,” Allam Jarrar of the Palestinian NGO Network told reporters on Tuesday morning.

“This a message by the Israelis to the Palestinians, saying that when they take decisions or form patriotic organizations to seek their freedom, the occupation will use aggression to try and stop us,” he said.

Palestinian National Initiative chief Mustafa Barghouti said the Israeli raids were “piracy,” adding that targeting civil society organizations that serve the Palestinian public is unacceptable.

An Israeli army spokesman said that “overnight IDF soldiers searched several offices in Ramallah which are affiliated with the Popular Front terrorist organization.”

In February, Israeli forces raided two Palestinian television networks in Ramallah and briefly detained four employees, journalists said.

Addameer office in Ramallah pictured after the raid.

( / 11.12.2012)

Whatever Rings Your Nobel

nobel peace prize 2012

It’s a busy day in Oslo today, the Nobel Foundation is hosting an award ceremony to present its 2012 Peace Prize. There is also a Peace Prize lecture, followed by a very big and glamorous banquet. The dress code dictates: “gentlemen are required to wear white tie and tails, and long evening gown for ladies”. Very posh.

In 2009, one man won the prize, the then-new President of the free world, sorry, President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. In 2010, another man won it alone, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. In 2011, three people shared it, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakel Karman, werethe victors. But in 2012, half a billion people will share the prize – yes, most readers of this article are now Nobel Laureates, but they won’t be invited to the award ceremony or the banquet, though the Nobel Foundation has been considerate enough to allow everybody to watch it online.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee (Committee) decided to award the 2012 Peace Prize to the European Union, who, “For over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” The Swiss must be kicking themselves for not joining the supranational body and UKIP have gone silent on demanding Britain leave it. (They haven’t).

The Peace Prize is probably the most controversial of all the Nobel Prizes given out. 2009 winner Barack Obama won it, “For his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” and “capturing the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.” Obama ‘celebrated’ by increasing deadly drone attacks in Pakistan and other countries and continuing to threaten Iran over its nuclear programme. China reacted badly to 2010 winner Liu Xiaobo, but quickly attracted criticism for its actions when it celebrated its citizen Mo Yan winning the Literature Prize this year.

So, what has the European Union done to deserve this Prize? Well, the Committee’s claim that the EU advanced peace and reconciliation is not untrue. The EU has kept its two biggest countries, France and Germany, from engaging in deadly wars for sixty years, the preceding sixty years (and more) were extremely violent and saw the loss of millions of lives. But what the Committee neglects to mention is some EU states’ participation in unjust and illegal wars abroad, whether directly or through organisations such as NATO, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, or of imposing strict sanctions in Iran.

The Committee also chooses to ignore the continuing unrest seen across many southern EU states, caused by recession and a faltering single currency, the Euro, and an increase in the number of suicides attributed to recession. Instead the Committee said, “The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest. The Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”

The Committee also neglects to mention entirely the increased instances of Islamophobia across the EU and the lack of a reaction in fighting it, by some states. And no mention is made of the rise of far-right parties and organisations across EU member states, which use and fuel Islamophobia.

Many thought the 2012 Peace Prize would go to ‘the Arab Spring’ or key players involved in it, but Tawakel Karman’s shared prize in 2011 ticked that box. Now there are calls from many to recognise Malala Yousafzai as the 2013 recipient.

A Peace Prize would recognise the noble struggle Malala faced, but it would smack of propaganda and injustice. Highlighting Malala’s plight, whilst forgetting the plight of the murdered victims of drone strikes (we don’t even know many of their names or how many have been killed), could serve to ‘justify by stealth’ these deadly drone strikes and even divert public attention away from them and of the innocent victims killed in them. Malala is just one victim of injustice in Pakistan, the other victims are the innocent Pakistanis, amongst them women and children, killed by deadly drone attacks perpetrated by the United States.

MPACUK wrote earlier this year that, “Children just like Malala are murdered [or maimed] every day by US drone attacks. Do they even get a mention on the news? Are they flown to the UK to receive the best medical treatment? The Bureau of Investigative Journalists reports that so far 168 children have lost their lives in Pakistan due to drone strikes.”

Highlighting and ‘rewarding’ one instance of injustice and neglecting the other is unfair and certainly not worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.

( / 11.12.2012)

Israeli prisons equipped by notorious security firm G4S hold Palestinian teens in solitary confinement

Israel has held six Palestinian boys from Nablus in solitary confinement in al-Jalame detention center near Haifa, writes Defence for Children International-Palestine Section inan urgent appeal.

The boys have spent on average 14.5 days in solitary confinement, ranging from four to 29 days. Following their detention in al-Jalame, the boys were transferred to Megiddo prison. The transfer into Israel and subsequent detention of the boys violates the Fourth Geneva Convention Articles 49 and 76.

British-Danish security giant G4S has provided security equipment to both al-Jalame and Megiddo prisons, according to a March 2011 report on the firm by Who Profits.

Solitary confinement cells in al-Jalame

Since 2008, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI) has documented 59 cases of children who report being held in solitary confinement in detention facilities in Israel, including six boys during the past five months. Interrogators used threats of prolonged solitary confinement to extract confessions.

The six boys were locked up in different cells. Their description of the cell follows below. The full story of the arrest and detention of the boys can be read by clicking on the name of each boy.

Seventeen-year-old Suleiman spent 18 days in solitary confinement, mainly Cell 36: “It is very small and has no windows. The lights were on non-stop.”

Sixteen-year-old Jamal was held for four days in solitary confinement in Cell 19. The cell had no windows and the light was left on 24 hours per day. The interrogator threatened to keep him in solitary confinement for a long time if he did not confess. “I actually believed him when he said this. My body started shaking and I felt really dizzy,” recalled Jamal. “I begged him not to put me back in the cell and I confessed to throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and grenades at military jeeps, even though I never did it.”

Seventeen-year-old Adham was held for 12 days in solitary confinement in Cell 36: “It is very small and only has room for one mattress. The mattress was very dirty. The toilet had a horrible smell and there were two holes in the ceiling that allowed freezing cold air in. The lights were dim yellow and left on the whole time. I spent 12 days in this cell. I could not tell day from night. I could not tell what time it was. I did not even see the prison guard who brought me food and passed it through a gap in the door. I did not sleep at all on the first night because I was so scared.”

Sixteen-year-old Abdullah was held for six days in solitary confinement in Cell 36: “It’s a very small cell with a mattress on the floor. There is a toilet with an awful smell, no windows and a very cold air conditioner. The lights are always on and hurt my eyes.”

Sixteen-year-old Mujahed said he was held for 29 days in solitary confinement during the 52 days detention period in al-Jalame. He was held in a number of different cells, but “all the cells looked the same but some were bigger than others. They all lacked windows. The lights were turned on the whole time. Also the toilets had a horrible smell.”

Seventeen-year-old Murad was held for 19 days in solitary confinement in three different cells. Detention Cell 1 “is miserable. It has no windows. There is a yellow dim light that is kept on all the time and hurts the eyes. I confessed on day one because I was very scared they might keep me in the cell for a long time. Cell 36 is similar to Cell 1, but is smaller and barely large enough for one person. I never saw anyone except the interrogator. The prison guard who took me to the interrogation room and back made me wear blacked-out glasses so I could not see anything. I could not tell day from night. I was in really bad shape.”

Solitary confinement inflicts mental damage

Solitary confinement inflicts severe mental damage upon prisoners, rights organizationsAddameer and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) wrote in a 2008 report. The report looked into the effect of solitary confinement on adults.

“Sleep disturbances, through depression and anxiety, to psychotic reactions, such as visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoid states, disorientation with regards to time and space, states of acute confusion, and thought disorders,” are mentioned as effects.

The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) confirmed the negative impact of solitary confinement in a 16 April 1996 report. The following quote from the IPS report is mentioned in Addameer and PHR’s report:

Research findings on the issue are unequivocal and show that imprisonment in isolation causes deep psychotic reactions. Clearly the duration of time a prisoner is held in solitary confinement has direct implications on its side effects, as holding an individual alone in a cell for one day is not the same as isolating him, as stated, for a period of three weeks, months, or years. There is no doubt that there exists a certain time limit after which most people will feel that solitary confinement is intolerable and will suffer, as a result, from long-term effects.

Addameer and PHR stress that there is no fixed time period after which mental problems will arise, because it will differ from one individual to another.

Experts assert that young people are psychologically unable to handle solitary confinement with the resilience of an adult. And, because they are still developing, traumatic experiences like solitary confinement may have a profound effect on their chance to rehabilitate and grow. Solitary confinement can exacerbate, or make more likely, short and long-term mental health problems. The most common deprivation that accompanies solitary confinement, denial of physical exercise, is physically harmful to adolescents’ health and well-being.

Solitary confinement is harmful for children

The potential damage to young people held in solitary confinement is much greater than to adults. In the report Growing Up Locked Down of 4 October, Human Rights Watchresearched the practice of solitary confinement of youth in the US. The practice harms young people in ways that are different, and more profound, than if they were adults, says the report.

Children should not be held in solitary confinement

Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the West Bankand Gaza, condemned Israel’s use of solitary confinement against Palestinian children in a 20 July 2012 press statement.

“Prison conditions are often deplorable, requiring children to sleep on the floor or on a concrete bed in a windowless cell,” said Falk. Israel’s use of solitary confinement against children “is inhumane, cruel, degrading, and unlawful, and, most worryingly, it is likely to adversely affect the mental and physical health of underage detainees.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez shares Falk’s view.

Solitary confinement should be banned as a punishment or extortion technique, Méndez told the UN General Assembly on 18 October 2011. The Israeli solitary confinement cells are “often lit with fluorescent bulbs as their only source of light, and they have no source of fresh air,” wrote Méndez in an interim report.

He recommended solitary confinements for children be abolished: “it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pretrial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles.”

( / 11.12.2012)

Israel behind IAEA leaks of Iran secret info: Western diplomats

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows an illustration to persuade tougher measures against Iran’s nuclear energy program during his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2012.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows an illustration to persuade tougher measures against Iran’s nuclear energy program during his address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2012.
Western diplomats believe that Israel is behind the leak of information from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in relation to Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Unnamed sources have been quoted by the Guardian in an article on December 10, 2012, as saying that Tel Aviv has carried out a series of leaks suggesting that Iran was allegedly involved in military nuclear experiments, in an attempt to mount international pressure against the Islamic Republic.

The latest leak, published by the Associated Press, showed an allegedly Iranian diagram depicting the physics of a nuclear blast, but scientists were quick to refute the purported evidence, citing an elementary mistake.

“This diagram does nothing more than indicating either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax,” declared an article in theBulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

The diagram, which Iran rejected as forged, raised questions about an inquiry being conducted by IAEA inspectors after it emerged as part of a file of intelligence on the Iranian nuclear activities held by the agency.

An “intelligence summary” provided to AP with the graph appeared to implicate two Iranian nuclear scientists targeted for assassination two years ago. One of them, Majid Shahriari, was killed on his way to work in Tehran in November 2010 after a motorcyclist fixed a bomb to his car and the other, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, was wounded in a similar terrorist attack the same day.

Earlier this year, veteran Israeli and American writers on intelligence published a book called Spies Against Armageddon, where they revealed the attacks were carried out by Mossad’s assassination unit known as Kidon (Bayonet).

One western source said the “intelligence summary reads like an attempt to justify the assassinations.”

European diplomats, however, noted that the principal impact of the leak would be to undermine the IAEA’s credibility, mar the agency’s ongoing investigation, and endanger its officials.

Iran has strongly rejected the allegations of involvement in non-civilian nuclear activities, emphasizing that numerous IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities have never found any evidence showing that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program has been diverted toward military objectives.

Tehran also argued that as a signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

( / 11.12.2012)