PCHR Weekly Report: 17 civilians wounded, including 12 children, by Israeli troops this week

In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 16 – 22 May 2013, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded during incursions in the West Bank. In addition,14 protesters, including 12 children, were wounded during peaceful protests at the entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah.

Abu Sneina home destroyed in Jabal al-Masharef neighborhood in Jerusalem (Silwan IC image)
Abu Sneina home destroyed in Jabal al-Masharef neighborhood in Jerusalem

Israeli attacks in the West Bank:

During the last week, Israeli forces conducted 65 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. 32 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and 2 women, were abducted in the West Bank.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 17 Palestinian civilians, including 12 children. 3 civilians were wounded during incursions in the Palestinian communities, while 14 others, including 12 children, were wounded in peaceful protests in al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah.

On 17 May 2012, 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded. The first one was wounded when Israeli forces moved into Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, while the other two ones were wounded by the newly-employed Tutu bullets when Israeli forces moved into al-Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, as Israeli forces have recently resumed using snipers to disperse Palestinian demonstrations using Tutu rifles, which are sniper rifles with a small barrel.

Israel continued its efforts to create Jewish majority in the occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli forces demolished 8 houses, a man was obliged to demolish his own house and 84 civilians became homeless.

On Saturday, 17 May 2013, Nader al-Sherif destroyed his own house, in the occupied East Jerusalem, in order to avoid being sent to jail or paying the destruction fees and other fines that the Israeli Municipality in Jerusalem would impose on him. The house, made of bricks and tin, is of 45 square metres and is occupied by a family of 11 members.

On Monday, 20 May 2013, Israeli forces demolished a part of Taiser Abdul-Rahman Sabbah Abu-Snaina’s (53) house, located in al-Masharef mountain in the northern side of the occupied East Jerusalem, in Karm Louis area near Sho’fat military checkpoint. The house is of 27 square metres in area, established in 1963, and it was occupied by a family of 12. On the same day, Israeli forces bulldozed the al-Joulani car showroom in al-Shaikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

On Tuesday, 21 May 2013, Israeli forces bulldozed 3 residential buildings and 61 civilians became homeless.

Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank. 3 Palestinian civilians were abducted at checkpoints in the West Bank.

On Thursday, 16 February 2013, Israeli forces razed more than 40 dunums of farmlands which are planted with approximately 700 olive, fig and grape seedlings that are between 1 – 3 years in ‘Aqraba village, southeast of Nablus. They also demolished a water well of 200 cubic metres, used to irrigate the crops, and destroyed the fence surrounding the plot of land, which is the property of Ayham Seirya. Israeli forces claimed that these lands are closed military areas.

On Monday, 20 May 2013, Israeli forces moved into al-Buq’a area, east of Hebron, imposed a curfew on Palestinian civilians and opened a dirt road leading to the farmlands of al-Jaber family, uprooted a water irrigation system and confiscated it. The bulldozed lands are property of Mohammed Aref Darwish al-Rajbi and Badawi Fawaz Arief al-Rajbi.

Also on Monday, 20 May 2013, Israeli forces, accompanied by a number of military vehicles and two bulldozers, moved into the eastern Bart’a village, which is isolated from its surroundings because of the annexation wall in the west of Jenin, and destroyed 5 shops. The destroyed shops are 5 barracks used by their owners for business, and they were destroyed under the pretext of being in area (C).

On Monday, Israeli forces, accompanied by 3 military vehicles and a vehicle of the Israeli Civil Administration, moved into Arab al-Hathaleen area, which is adjacent to the Khurbat Uml-Khair, in the east of Yatta, in the south of Hebron and placed notices to halt construction work for 7 establishments.

Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli navy forces continued to pursue the Palestinian fishermen in the sea. On 19 May 2013, Israeli forces abducted 2 fishermen and confiscated their fishing boat off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia, in the north of the Gaza Strip. On 20 and 22 May 2013, Israeli gunboats opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing within the 6 nautical mile limit off al-Waha resort, in the north of the Gaza Strip. Neither casualties nor material damage were reported.

On 21 March 2013, the Israeli authorities allowed the Palestinian fishermen to sail up to 6 nautical miles instead of 3 as had been enforced since 21 March 2013 as a form punishment against the Palestinian civilians. This decrease constitutes a violation of the agreement between Hamas and the Israeli authorities following the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.

Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

Israeli navy forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip sea. 2 fishermen were abducted and their boat was confiscated in the north of the Gaza Strip.

Fishermen were pursued and their fishing equipment was confiscated off Deir al-Balah shore.

Israeli settlement activities:

Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

On Thursday, 17 May 2013, engineering teams coming from “Kiryat Arba” settlement, established on Palestinian civilians’ lands in the east of Hebron, under the protection of Israeli forces, surveyed a dirt road that Palestinians use to access their lands in al-Husaine valley area, in the east of the city, to pave the way for establishing a new road for settlers that leads to the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the center of the old city of Hebron.

On Saturday, 18 May 2013, a group of settlers from “Beit El” settlement, in the north of Ramallah, threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Palestinian vehicles while passing through the main road to al-Jazloun refugee camp, which is adjacent to the afore-mentioned settlement. As a result, a 2001 Mercedes taxi burnt out after it was hit by a Molotov cocktail.

On Monday, 21 May 2013, a group of settlers from “Havat Gilad” settlement, north of Qalqilya, set fire to lands which belong to Palestinians from Tal village, southwest of Nablus, near Amateen and Far’ta villages in the north of Qalqilya. Israeli forces also abducted 18-year-old Nash’at Emad Sowan, from Amateen village, while standing near his house and took him to an unknown destination.

Israeli attacks on non-violent demonstrations:

Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, dozens of protesters suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were attacked by Israeli soldiers. Of the wounded was Rasila Mahmoud Awad (60), who fainted and was taken to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.

In the same context, the Palestinian civilians organized many peaceful protests in support with the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails, especially those on hunger strike. Israeli forces used excessive force to disperse these protests. As a result, 14 civilians, including 12 children, were wounded.

On 17 May 2013, 9 civilians, including 8 children, were wounded in protests at the southern entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah.

On 19 May 2013, 3 others, including 2 children, in protests in the same area.

On 21 May 2013, 2 children were wounded during a peaceful protest in the abovementioned area. According to Maariv newspaper, the Israeli army has recently resumed using snipers to disperse Palestinian demonstrations; this technique was used at the end of last week near the settlement of Beit El in eastern Ramallah, using Tutu rifles, which are sniper rifles with a small barrel (0.22 inch caliber bullets).

Recommendations to the international community:

Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the UN General Assembly transfer the Goldstone Report to the UN Security Council in order to refer it to the International Criminal Court in accordance with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute.

In addition, the PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights and victims.

For the full text of the report, click on the link below:

(Source / 24.05.2013)

How to rig an election

THE election landscape in Iran is becoming increasingly clear. According to state-run Press TV, a whopping 686 candidates registered to run in the presidential poll. However, only eight men remain on the ballot for the first round on June 14 after candidates were vetted by the Guardian Council, which consists of 12 members – half of whom were appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Most are seen as loyalists to Khamenei, while those rejected included former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close aide to outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Testing the waters before the Guardian Council’s decision, Iran’s national deputy police commander Esmael Moghaddam sounded a warning last week in the Shargh newspaper for Mashaei to stop challenging the Supreme Leader by claiming to take orders from a higher authority – namely Al Mahdi, the 12th Shi’ite Imam.

There was also an editorial by Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the state-run newspaper Kayhan and an appointee of Khamenei, declaring the “Ahmadinejad government is over” and predicting “Rafsanjani will undoubtedly face defeat”.

These were the first indications that the current president’s candidate could be purged and a clear sign of how election cards would be stacked to defeat Rafsanjani.

Pundits in the West have argued for years that the method of choosing candidates in Iran’s election is the least democratic.

It is far from being a representation of plural democracy, but neither is the filtered democratic process in the West – where backdoor dealings, not a popular vote, determine which party’s candidate wins a general election.

To the chagrin of the West, the final candidates in Iran might quarrel over many issues, but they all support Iran’s right to develop a “peaceful” nuclear programme.

Other than the new president forming a new negotiating team, there will be little change at the negotiation table once Ahmadinejad is replaced.

Some might take a more pragmatic approach in dealing with world powers, while others are poised to take a more assertive position. Among the candidates still in the race is Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who said in an interview with the Financial Times that “Western powers will be forced to make compromises only when they are confronted with fierce resistance”.

In past Iranian elections, voters have been more inclined to opt for the nominee who registers lowest on the corruption barometer and has the highest levels of nationalistic demagoguery. Taking a hardline position with the 5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, would likely improve the presidential candidate’s chances of winning votes.

The irony, which many have forgotten, is that more than five decades ago some of the 5+1 countries introduced nuclear military technology to the Middle East.

France built Israel’s nuclear reactor in the late 1950s and Britain provided the heavy water to start up the plant in 1959.

The highly enriched uranium to make Israel’s first nuclear bomb was purportedly stolen from the US Navy in the mid-1960s.

The West’s inability to reach an agreement with Iran today can’t be separated from its failure in dealing with the crisis in Syria or its submissiveness to Israel when it comes to Palestine.

To succeed, the West must first stop viewing the Middle East through an Israeli prism. Next, it should take bold steps to rectify past sins by promoting a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

Otherwise, and as we have learnt from the Iraq experience, Iran will not be the last of the problems.

(Source / 24.05.2013)

Oog om oog, tand om tand!

By Marianna Laarif

Twee jonge mannen kwamen altijd bijeen om te zondigen. De sjaitaan had hen volledig in zijn macht. En dit allemaal terwijl zij getrouwd waren. Op een dag begon één van hen aan zijn zoveelste avontuur. Hij beloofde een vrouw, die hij had leren kennen, een leuke avond. Hij moest alleen nog even van zijn eigen vrouw zien af te komen. Hij wist zijn vrouw ervan te overtuigen dat hij moest overwerken en dat zij maar beter naar haar ouders kon gaan en vertrok vervolgens naar zijn afspraakje.

Toen hij aankwam werden zijn wildste fantasieën hem reeds in het vooruitzicht gesteld. De vrouw stelde voor om eerst gezellig in het park te gaan zitten en daarna naar zijn huis te gaan. Thuis aangekomen vroeg de vrouw aan hem of hij niet wat te eten en drinken in huis had. Dit had hij echter niet, maar hij liet zich daardoor niet stoppen. Hij stapte in zijn auto en reed naar het dichtstbijzijnde restaurant. Toen hij alle benodigdheden had gekocht en terug naar huis reed werd zijn pret al snel verstoord door een agent die hem tot stoppen dwong. Hij had een aantal stopborden genegeerd en moest meekomen naar het bureau.

Eenmaal aangekomen op het politiebureau belde hij zijn goede vriend op met de mededeling dat een ‘lekker wijf’ op hem thuis zat te wachten en dat hij vast zat op het politiebureau en voorlopig nog niet weg kon. Hij bood dit buitenkansje aan zijn enige echte vriend. “Je moet naar mijn huis gaan om het werk af te maken! En vergeet niet, nadat je klaar bent, die sloerie thuis af te zetten….…en een beetje tempo, want ik ben bang dat mijn vrouw straks thuiskomt en haar daar treft.”, zei hij door de telefoon. Zijn vriend stelde hem gerust en bedankte hem voor dit fantastische aanbod.

En zo vertrok de trouwhartige kameraad naar het huis van zijn goede vriend die vast zat op het politiebureau. Hij maakte de deur open en keek naar binnen en kon geen stap verder zetten, hij kon zijn ogen niet geloven….Ben jij dat!? Dit bestaat niet!!” Het was zijn eigen vrouw in het huis van zijn beste vriend. Hij ging tekeer als een gek, en bleef maar schreeuwen: “Jij bent mijn vrouw niet meer, Jij bent mijn vrouw niet meer!”

Dit doet mij denken aan de volgende woorden van imam es-Shaafi’ie:

“Overspel is te vergelijken met een schuld die je aangaat. Weet dat het aflossen ervan gebeurt doordat anderen (weer) overspel plegen met jouw familie. En wie voor een bedrag van 2000 dirham overspel pleegt met andermans familie, hiervoor zullen anderen voor het luttele bedrag van een kwart dirham overspel plegen met zijn familie.”

$35 million funding for Gaza Strip municipalities

The Gulf Cooperation Council program to reconstruct Gaza continues to fund street and road rehabilitation and maintenance projects in the Gaza Strip and has granted $35.7 million to Gaza municipalities through the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah.

The Director General of the department of coordination and facilitation of aid in PECDAR, Wael Salah, has made a statement explaining that the projects funded included a number of roads and streets in need of repair and maintenance in order for them to be suitable for traffic and to prevent accidents.

He also added that most municipalities in the Strip will benefit from these projects, and stressed the program’s interest in the road sector as it significantly impacts people’s lives and the mobility of the residents.

He also pointed out that the project funded five bundles of road and street maintenance and rehabilitation projects, such as the Coastal Road, which is 6 km long, the expansion of Gamal Abdel Nasser Street between Rafah and Khan Younis, the completion of the Al-Tufah Street in Khan Younis, as well as the Coastal Road.

The bundles also included the maintenance and completion of Al-Mughrabi Street, the streets in Al-Sheikh Radwan and Al-Manara neighbourhoods in Gaza, Al-Rasheed and Abu Baker Al-Sidiq Streets in Rafah, the main road in Beit Lahia, Al-Bahar Street in Jabaliya, Abu Baker Al-Sidiq Street in Al-Nuseirat, Al-Sultan and Number 5 Street in Khan Younis, and various other streets and roads.

In regards to funding the municipalities in the Strip and enabling them to perform their various duties, the program funded the reconstruction of the destroyed municipality office buildings (Bani Suhaila municipal building), Gaza municipal building, The Centre for Children’s Happiness, the destroyed municipal buildings in Jabaliya, and a destroyed slaughterhouse in northern Gaza.

The program also funds the supply and maintenance of equipment for municipal and refugee camps solid waste services. It also funded the construction of a waste transfer station in Khan Younis, the transfer of waste to the main stations and the construction of the western side of the Wadi Gaza Bridge.

The GCC reconstruction of Gaza program continues to execute projects and allocated funds have reached $367.1 million through the six bundles covering all the sectors damaged by the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in late 2008.

(Source / 24.05.2013)

Hezbollah and the Syrian Pit

Why Washington and Tel Aviv Want Hezbollah to Keep Fighting in al-Qusayr

During a tour of some of the neighborhoods in Homs, Syria’s third largest city after Aleppo and Damascus, with a pre-conflict population of approximately 800,000 (nearly half  Homs residents have fled over the past two years) located maybe about 22 miles NE of the current hot-spot of al-Qusayr, this observer engaged is a few interesting conversations.  More accurately labeled diatribes–with some long bearded Sunni fundamentalists who claimed they came from Jabhat al Nusra, aka Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-Ahl ash-Shām, “Front of Defense for the People of Greater Syria”), and were preparing to return to al Qusayr to fight “the deniers of Allah”!

It is the strategic crossroads town of al-Qusayr, and its environs, which whoever controls, can block supplies and reinforcements to and from Damascus and locations north and east.  For those seeking the ouster of Syria’s government, including NATO countries led by Washington,  were their “allies”  to lose  control of al-Qusayr it would mean the cutting off of supplies from along the Lebanese border, from which most of the local opposition’s weapons flow and fighters have been smuggled over the past 26 months. If the Assad regime forces regain control of the city, Washington believes they will move north and conquer current opposition positions in Homs and Rastan, both areas being dependent on support from Lebanon and al-Qusayr. Some analysts are saying this morning, with perhaps a bit of hyperbole that as al-Qusayr goes so goes Syria and the National Lebanese Resistance, led by Hezbollah.

If government forces can retake the city it will  put an end to the  Saudi-Qatari green light, in exchange for controlling al-Qusayr, of the setting up a Salafist emirate in the area which would constitute a threat to the nearly two dozen Shia Lebanese inhabited villages of the Hermel region. If the Syrian army re-takes al-Qusayr, it would also avoid the likelihood of a full-fledged sectarian war on both sides of the border.

Meeting with a few self-proclaimed al Nusra Front militiaman last week, in Homs, one who spoke excellent British English they had plenty to say  to this observer about current events in al Qusayr to which they planned to return the next day to fight enemies “by all means Allah gives us”.  One added, when asked if they had confronted Hezbollah: “Of course but Hezbollah can’t defeat us. Eventually they will withdraw from Syria on orders from Tehran.  But first enshallah we will bleed Hezbollah with thousands of cut throats”, he boasted raucously as nearby kids  cheered and gave V for victory signs, smiles, giggles and cackling all around.

Such Jihadist rants are music to more than a few US congressional and White House ears these days, as once more in this region,  a major US-Israeli carefully calibrated regime change project,  appears to be falling short.

This week, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted overwhelmingly to arm elements of the Syrian opposition with a recommendation to “provide defense articles, defense services, and military training” directly to the opposition throughout Syria, who naturally, will “have been properly and fully vetted and share common values and interests with the United States”.  History teaches that the vetting part would not happen if the scheme is implemented, despite only a few in Congress objecting.

Perhaps lacking some of his father Ron Paul’s insights into US hegemonic plans for this region, Senator Rand Paul did object to the measure and he fumed at his colleagues: ”This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.”

According to the Hill Rag weekly, veteran war-hawks Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, flashed a knowing smile but gave no rebuttal, perhaps realizing that Senator Paul is a bit untutored on the reality of current Obama Administration policy in Syria generally, and for al-Qusayr, in particular.

Contrary to the shock and anger expressed by Senator Paul, American policy in Syria is  to de facto  assist allies of al Qaeda including the US  “Terrorist-listed”  Al-Nusra Front as well as anti-Iran, anti-Shia and anti-Hezbollah groups gathering near al-Qusayr. These groups currently include, but not limited to,   Ahl al-Athr Brigade, Ahrar al-Sham,  Basha’ir al-Nasr Brigades, Commandos Brigades, Fajr al-Islam Brigades, Independent Farouq Brigades, Khalid bin al-Waleed Brigade, Liwa al-Haq, Liwa al-Sadiq, Al-Nour Brigade, Al-Qusayr Brigade, Suqur al-Fatah, Al-Wadi Brigades, Al-Waleed Brigades and the 77th Brigade among the scores  of other Jihadist cells currently operating in, near, or rushing to, al-Qusayr.

Their victory according to US Senate sources would be a severe blow and  challenge to Iran’s rising influence in the region and Iran’s  leadership of the increasing regional and global resistance to the Zionist occupiers of Palestine in favor of the full right to return of every ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugee.

While Congress was considering what else to do to help the “rebels”, on 5/22/13,  no fewer than 11 so-called “World powers” foreign ministers, including Turkey and Jordan, met in Amman to condem,  with straight faces, even, tongues in cheek, the “flagrant intervention” in Syria by Hezbollah and Iranian fighters.”  They urged their immediate withdrawal from the war-torn country. In a joint statement, the “Friends of Syria” group called “for the immediate withdrawal of Hezbollah and Iranian fighters, and other regime allied foreign fighters from Syrian territory.”

Not one peep of course, about the Salafist-Jihadist-Takfuri fighters from more than 30 countries now ravaging Syria’s population. The truth of the matter is that the governments represented by their foreign ministers this week in Amman, will follow the US lead which means they will assist, despite some cautionary public words, virtually any ally of al-Qaeda whose fighting in Syria may be seen as weakening the Assad government and its supporters in Iran and Lebanon.

According to one long-term Congressional aid to a prominent Democratic Senator from the West Coast, while the Amman gathering described Hezbollah’s armed presence in Syria as “a threat to regional stability”, the White House could not be more pleased that Hezbollah is in al-Qusayr.”  When pressed via email for elaboration, the Middle East specialist offered the view that the White House agrees with Israel that al-Qusayr may become Hezbollah’s Dien Bein Phu and the Syrian conflict could well turn into Iran’s “Vietnam”. ..Quite a few folks around here (Capitol Hill) think al-Qusayr will remove Hezbollah from the list of current threats to Israel.  And the longer they keep themselves bogged down in quick-sand over there the better for Washington and Tel Aviv. Hopefully they will remain in al-Qusayr for a long hot summer and gut their ranks in South Lebanon via battle field attrition and Israel can make its move and administer a coup de grace.”

The staffer followed up with another email with only one short sentence and a smiley face:

“Of course the White House and its concrete wall-solid ally might be wrong!”

The dangers for Hezbollah are obvious – that it may be drawn ever deeper into a bottomless pit of conflict in Syria that could leave it severely depleted and prey to a hoped for death-blow from Israel.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and other party officials have dismissed that possibility.

(Source / 24.05.2013)

Why aren’t Israeli F-16s over Beirut headline news?

UN soldier atop armored vehicle overlooks Lebanon-Israel border

Israel’s daily violations of Lebanese sovereignty are ignored in the Western press.

Recently there has been a sound coming from the skies over Beirut triggering unpleasant recollections: the distant roar of Israeli fighter jets as one lies in bed at night.

This noise brings with it images and memories from the last war Israel waged on Lebanon, the 33-day war during the summer of 2006. Even as I write this from my office near the center of the city, the ominous rumbling of Israeli fighter jets, announcing their illegal incursions into Lebanese airspace, can be heard over the capital.

But this threatening behavior above Lebanon is non-existent, or so the Western media corporations would have us believe. While information-sharing web tools have broken the mainstream media’s monopoly over covering and analyzing world developments, there is still a long way to go. The Israeli politics of dispossession enjoy near unconditional support in the editorial rooms of New York, London and Paris, a bias still undetected by most of the Western audience they claim to serve.

On 25 April, these editors saw to it that one story dominated the front pages: reports of an alleged unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, that flew from Lebanon to historic Palestine, with accompanying reportage and commentary treating information given by Israeli government and military sources as the definitive truth of the incident.

The Israeli Air Force said it shot down a UAV several miles off the coast of the northern city of Haifa after it entered Israeli airspace from Lebanon. Israel’s deputy defense ministerDanny Danon accused Hizballah of sending the drone: “We’re talking about another attempt by Hizballah to send an unmanned drone into Israeli territory,” he told army radio (“Israel shoots down Lebanese drone,” DefenseNews, 25 April 2013).

Shortly after the Israeli announcement, Hizballah issued a statement denying this was the case (“Hezbollah denies responsibility for drone shot down by Israel,” Al-Akhbar English, 26 April 2013).

This is in contrast to October last year, when Israel said it had shot down a drone over theNegev (Naqab). In that case, Hizballah proudly claimed the drone as its own and celebrated this demonstration of its technological prowess (“Hezbollah admits launching drone over Israel,” BBC).

For its part, a spokesperson with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) announced after the Israeli statement on 25 April: “We learned from the media that the Israeli Air Force has shot down a drone and we’re investigating these reports.”

As part of its peacekeeping mandate, UNIFIL has radars along the coast to monitor Lebanon’s entire airspace, and a few hours later UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said the UN force could not confirm that a drone had flown from its area of operations in southern Lebanon (“Israel shoots down drone off Haifa, Hizbullah denies responsibility,” Naharnet, 25 April 2013).

Inconvenient facts

So Hizballah denied responsibility and the UNIFIL couldn’t confirm that a drone flew over south Lebanon into Israeli-controlled airspace, but far be it for these inconvenient facts to get in the way of a good story. This newest threat to Israel burned like wildfire across the pages of major Western media outlets like The Los Angeles TimesThe Washington Post, France 24, The Daily Telegraph and the BBC, which dutifully reported the worries over Israel’s security being breached.

Poor Israel: one of the strongest armies in the world, sitting on a nuclear arsenal.

These news reports demonstrate the systematic bias of Western corporate media when it comes to Israel. While the reports all spoke of Hizballah’s violation of Israel’s “borders” and sovereignty and the threat this posed to Israeli civilians, none mentioned the daily Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty and the threat this poses to Lebanese citizens. Without this, a reader might easily mistake the aggressor for the victim.

Then there was the one-sided sourcing of “facts” to back up the story and the rush to judgment. On 26 April — the day after the alleged drone was downed — the Israeli government itself began to shift its narrative to more ambiguous finger-pointing at Iran, rather than directly blaming Hizballah (“Israel points finger at Iran over drone from Lebanon,” The Daily Telegraph, 27 April 2013).

Meanwhile, a 8 May story in Lebanon’s daily As-Safir newspaper claims it was actually anIsraeli drone that had been intercepted by resistance fighters en route to Lebanon.

According to unnamed sources close to Hizballah and Western diplomatic circles cited by the paper, when the Israeli Air Force noticed that its UAV was out of its control, it shot it down over the Mediterranean. This suggestion seems at least plausible when stacked next to the UNIFIL report and Hizballah’s denial.

But taking this into account or following up on it would have required understanding Arabic, which few foreign journalists do.

Daily terror

Israel inflicts different methods of terror on Lebanon daily: F-16s and F-15s stage mock raids and drones stalk our skies — all in violation of UN resolution 1701. Lebanese citizens are kidnapped near the border, Israeli landmines and cluster bombs continue to await their victims on Lebanese soil, not to mention the Israeli army’s continued occupation of parts of Lebanon.

While the UN occasionally condemns these acts of Israeli aggression, the fact that they continue unabated reminds us in Lebanon that accountability and international law end at our southern border. So too does objective journalism, it seems, given that in the past month Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace have heavily intensified, but none of this has made it into the Western press.

As a journalist, I’ve tried to pitch stories to mainstream media outlets on the constant Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty and have been lucky enough, from time to time, for an editor to bother to reply, if only to say that the story is irrelevant.

The adage goes that real journalism is publishing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations. By publishing Israel’s claims as fact, and ignoring the reality on the ground in Beirut and Palestine, mainstream journalists show how well practiced they are in the art of PR.

(Source / 24.05.2013)

Turkey builds wall at Syria border crossing after bombs

(Reuters) – Turkey is constructing 2.5-km-long (1.5 mile) twin walls at a border crossing with Syria to increase security at the frontier following three deadly bombings this year.

The concrete walls will be built on either side of the road leading from the Turkish side of the crossing at Cilvegozu to the Syrian border gate and will be topped with barbed wire, the Turkish Customs Ministry said in a statement.

Cilvegozu was the scene of a bombing in February which killed 14 people and this month 51 people died when twin car bombs ripped through the nearby town of Reyhanli.

Since July, Turkish vehicles have not been allowed to cross at the Cilvegozu gate for security reasons, but it has remained open to allow in Syrian refugees and for humanitarian aid from Turkey to be carried across.

Approved Turkish vehicles are currently allowed into the unoccupied buffer area between the Turkish and Syrian gates to unload goods before turning back.

The Bab al-Hawa gate on the Syrian side fell under the control of rebels fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last year. February’s bomb struck inside the buffer area very close to the Turkish gate.

Vehicle screening equipment and x-ray machines as well as wire fencing and extra lighting and security cameras will also be installed, the ministry said.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will visit Reyhanli on Saturday, the first time since the bombings.

(Source / 24.05.2013)

65 jaar Nakba Vriendschappelijke relaties met Israël afbouwen

65 jaar Nakba

Vriendschappelijke relaties met Israël afbouwen

Op 15 mei, de dag nadat Ben Goerion in 1948 de staat Israël uitriep, gedenken Palestijnen de Nakba, de ramp. Palestijnen gedenken de etnische zuivering van meer dan 750.000 Palestijnen. In de officiële Israëlische geschiedschrijving wordt deze gebeurtenis verdonkeremaand. De actualiteit van deze gebeurtenis is dat Israël tot op de dag van vandaag doorgegaan is met zijn politiek van discriminatie en annexatie. Om die reden moeten België en Europa hun vriendschappelijke relaties met Israël afbouwen.

Op 16 april sprak Shimon Peres op de viering van de Israëlische onafhankelijkheid (volgens de joodse kalender) met geen woord over het leed dat de staat Israël Palestijnen heeft aangedaan. De officiële joodse versie van de gebeurtenissen in 1948/49 is dat Israël na 14 mei 1948 werd aangevallen door de omringende Arabische landen. Ondergronds was echter vanaf december 1947 een andere operatie aan de gang: de etnische zuivering van het grondgebied van Palestijnen. Palestijnen werden uit hun huizen verdreven. Daarna werden hun huizen vaak vernietigd en werd hun land in beslaggenomen. Op deze manier werden 531 Palestijnse dorpen en 11 stadswijken verwoest. Palestijnen mochten van Israël niet naar hun land terugkeren. De staat Israël is dus met een grootschalige etnische zuivering begonnen. Dit is een misdaad tegen de menselijkheid.

In 1949 had de staat Israël na het beëindigen van de oorlog 78% van de grond in handen, in plaats van de door het VN-verdeelplan toebedeelde 56%. Palestijnse landbouwgronden, fabrieken en onroerend goed – er werd bijzonder veel in beslag genomen zonder enige compensatie.

Na 1949 zijn Palestijnen in Israël tweederangs burgers geworden. Ze hebben gezien hoe allochtonen uit Europa in korte tijd toestroomden in hun land en vervolgens na 1948 de macht kregen. Met de etnische zuivering voltrok zich het rampenscenario: Palestijnen werden vreemdeling in hun eigen land.

Hoewel in de begintijd met het gedwongen vertrek van het Palestijnse volksdeel er te veel land was om door joden te laten bewerken, is de hebzucht nog niet volledig bevredigd. In 1967 werd de Golanhoogte veroverd op Syrië en met uitzondering van een paar dorpen volledig etnisch gezuiverd. Het motief: water. In dezelfde Zesdaagse oorlog veroverde Israël de Westbank en begon het zijn nederzettingenpolitiek. Door het misbruik van de Oslo-kkoorden in 1993 heeft Israël in de zogenaamde C-zones nu zeggenschap over meer dan de helft van de Westbank.

De Nakba, de ramp van 1948/49 is dus niet een gebeurtenis is uit het verleden, maar een gebeurtenis, die nog steeds actueel is.

Palestijnen worden door Israël op alle niveau´s gediscrimineerd.

Er is een grote discriminatie in het toekennen van bouwvergunningen. Vele Palestijnen zijn er niet zeker van of hun huis het volgende jaar er nog staat. Bij grote woningbouwprojecten komen de Palestijnen er niet aan bod, omdat de staat dit uitbesteedt aan joodse organisaties, die alleen voor joden werken. Sinds 1948 waren er in Israël 700 grote woningbouwprojecten – niet een daarvan was toegankelijk voor Palestijnen. In de diefstal van land en het vernietigen van woningen laat Israël zich van zijn misdadige kant zien. In de Westbank staan hele dorpen op de slooplijst. Israël afficheert zich als moderne technologische staat, maar weigert nutsvoorzieningen aan Palestijnse dorpen. De nieuwe wegen op de Westbank mogen niet door Palestijnen gebruikt worden. Er is ernstige discriminatie in tewerkstelling door de Israëlische overheid. Onderwijsvoorzieningen zijn zeer ongelijk verdeeld. Israël controleert en beperkt het handelsverkeer van de Westbank met de omringende landen. In de Gazastrook is de situatie nog veel erger.

Palestijnen die voor hun rechten opkomen en zich politiek engageren kunnen er zeker van zijn, dat ze eens in de gevangenis zullen komen. Op het ogenblik telt 4900 politieke gevangenen. Gearresteerde Palestijnen hebben niet dezelfde rechten als joodse.

Hoe komt het dat Israël Palestijnen niet behandelt als gelijke burgers?

Dat heeft te maken met de grondslag van de staat Israël. De doelstelling van de staat Israël is een ´tehuis te zijn voor joden´. Israël heeft staatkundig heel andere uitgangspunten dan andere Westerse landen. Israël heeft geen grondwet, waarin de rechten van alle burgers gelijk gesteld zijn. De staat Israël dient dus vooral de joodse belangen. Met die grondslag kunnen we Israël moeilijk een democratie noemen.

Veel van het bovenstaande is in de politiek en de media bekend. Toch is er een grote reserve om deze kennis om te zetten in veranderde politieke verhoudingen.

Op 23 oktober vorig jaar keurde het Europees Parlement de vernieuwing van het handelsverdrag met Israël goed.

Begin maart ontving eerste minister Di Rupo de Israëlische president Shimon Peres. Hij bleef beleefd en sprak zijn bezorgdheid uit over de voortgaande politiek van kolonisatie en drong erop aan om het vredesoverleg te hervatten. Deze opstelling is kenmerkend voor Europa  en de VS: wel kritiek, maar daar geen consequenties uit trekken.

Het is dringend noodzakelijk dat België en Europa hun vriendschappelijke relaties met de staat Israël afbouwen. Democratische landen hebben niets gemeenschappelijk met een land dat op alle niveaus een groot deel van zijn eigen bevolking structureel discrimineert.

Alleen toenemende druk zal de situatie daar ter plekke kunnen veranderen. Het is een morele plicht voor politici om daaraan bij te dragen.

Palestina Solidariteit

Jart Voortman

(Source / 24.05.2013)

Russia: Syria agrees to take part in talks

Foreign ministry says Assad government has agreed “in principle” to attend US-Russia brokered proposed peace conference.


Russia says the Syrian government has agreed, “in principle”, to attend an international peace conference proposed by Russia and the US, and criticised what it called attempts to undermine peace efforts.

The summit has been suggested by the US and Russia and could take place in the Swiss city of Geneva.

“We note with satisfaction that we have received an agreement in principle from Damascus to attend the international conference, in the interest of Syrians themselves finding a political path to resolve the conflict, which is ruinous for the nation and region,” Alexander Lukashevich, Russian foreign ministry spokesman, said on Friday.

The statement was followed by an announcement of a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris on Monday, where they will continue discussions about the peace conference.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is also expected to join that meeting.

Faisal Mekdad, Syrian deputy foreign minister, said after talks in Moscow on Wednesday the government would soon decide whether to take part in the conference aimed at bringing government and opposition representatives together for talks.

Lukashevich said international action including a May 15 UN General Assembly resolution that praised the opposition and condemned President Bashar al-Assad’s forces has “essentially pushed [the opposition]to reject negotiations”.

Some European media have reported that the conference has been tentatively scheduled to be held on June 10.

But Lukashevich said such reports “cannot be taken seriously” because the ranks of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s foes remain so divided.

“Demands to immediately name a specific date for the conference without having clarity about who, and with what authority, will speak in the name of the opposition, cannot be taken seriously,” Lukashevich said.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition, which is currently meeting in Istanbul to discuss an interim government, has said it will only go to “Geneva II” if Assad steps down as president.

Louai Safi, a senior member of Syria’s main opposition, told Al Jazeera, “The fact that it has been announced in Moscow, rather than in Damascus, is a worrying point, as we want to hear the spokesperson of the Syrian government making that statement with clarity.”

“There is alot of ambiguity. What does it mean, ‘in principle’?,” he said.

“We want to hear definitive answers….We want to see a clarity of the purpose of Geneva.”

Failed first meeting

The Syrian National Coalition, which is main opposition group based outside the country, entered a second day of talks on Friday aimed at finding an approach to the joint Russian-US peace push.

The first Geneva meeting in June last year ended in a broad agreement aimed at forming a transition government in Syria and introducing a long-lasting truce.

But the deal was never implemented because of disagreements over Assad’s role in the new government and neither side’s decision to lay down their arms.

Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from the United Nations. said: “The conference is likely to last three days and comes ahead of the G8 meeting in Ireland. If there are any failures at the Syria peace conference, [world leaders] can pick up the pieces there.”

He also said increased violence in Syria seen recently is “partly because of the talk of peace talks. The government side is trying to make a land grab before the meeting.”

(Source / 24.05.2013)

Palestinian injured in clashes near Qalqiliya

QALQILIYA (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man was injured in the head in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Kafr Qaddum near Qalqiliya, a Ma’an reporter said.

Ayman Nazzal, a driver for the Palestinian Broadcast Corp., was taken to a hospital in Nablus after being struck at close range by a tear-gas canister. Dozens of others including a 10-year-old suffered tear-gas inhalation.

Some 20 olive trees also burned after a fire erupted in the same area.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately return calls late Friday.

(Source / 24.05.2013)