Israeli raid showed “total disregard” for Palestinian lives, report finds

The funeral of three young men who were killed by Israeli forces in Qalandiya refugee camp, 26 August.

An investigation into a recent Israeli invasion of a Palestinian refugee camp has found there was no justification for the use of lethal force. The raid two weeks ago caused the death of a UN worker not involved in confrontations.

Ramallah-based human rights organization Al-Haq last week concluded its investigation into the killing of three and the injuring of 18 Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces inQalandiya refugee camp near Ramallah on 26 August.

Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians broke out after a unit of around 40 soldiers carried out an arrest in Qalandiya. The soldiers’ behavior in the crowded refugee camp increased the risk of injury or death for civilians.

Such raids have led in the past to the deaths of innocent civilians and reveal a total disregard for the safety of the Palestinian civilian population, according to Al-Haq.

I summarize the main findings of Al-Haq’s investigation below.

Raid into Qalandiya refugee camp

Al-Haq’s investigation found that the use of lethal force by Israeli soldiers was not justified by the camp residents’ throwing of objects at armored Israeli vehicles during the clashes in Qalandiya. The organization calls for an independent and impartial investigation into the conduct during the raid as well as the planning of the raid itself and calls for those found to be responsible to be held to account.

Around 40 Israeli soldiers raided Qalandiya refugee camp at 5:15am to arrest 24-year-old Yousef al-Katheeb on 26 August. However, Yousef escaped to the roof of his neighbor’s house.

His 27-year-old brother Omar met the soldiers at the entrance of the house, and they took him to his bedroom for questioning. The soldiers started beating Omar after he told them that Yousef isn’t in the house and that he doesn’t know where he is. The soldiers beat Omar all over his body with their hands, feet and the butts of their guns, increasing the intensity of the beating when Omar denies any knowledge of Yousef’s whereabouts.

Omar was taken to the hallway of the house where he saw four undercover soldiers changing into military uniform. The officer in charge told Omar to go with the soldiers to the second floor. Omar walked at gunpoint in front of the soldiers with his hands handcuffed behind his back. On the second floor, Omar’s 10-year-old sister Mayar was crying. Some of the soldiers searched Mayar and her sister’s room. The rest of the group took Omar to the third floor.

On the third floor, the four-year-old daughter of Omar’s brother Hatem was hysterically begging the soldiers not to shoot her. Hatem, his wife, the children and two sisters were ordered to go downstairs where they are then locked in a room on the first floor. The soldiers continued to move around the house.

Around 7:00 am, seven soldiers violently dragged a blindfolded Omar outside where they pushed and insulted him. Omar was taken to a storage room in the neighbor’s house where Yousef is held by Israeli soldiers. Yousef lay on the ground, bleeding from his nose, and seemed very exhausted. Yousef was forced to stand up, but he coul only stand on one foot. Omar noticed that Yousef sufferd from pain in the other leg. Yousef was also unable to move one of his hands. He had been harshly beaten by the soldiers.

The officer in charge asked Omar to confirm Yousef’s identity. When Omar denied it was Yousef — hoping that his brother would be released — the soldiers became angry. They pushed Omar and he fell on the ground. Before dragging Omar outside the storage room, soldiers violently hit him on his back, head and shoulders with the butts of their rifles. Omar hears the screams of his brother inside the storage room and shouts “Yousef, Yousef.”

The soldiers continued to beat Omar until he was back in his house. One soldier beat Omar with an electrical wire. Omar’s 19-year-old sister Shorouq collapses from fear and the children begin to scream. Omar sufferd from severe pain due to the beatings and the tight handcuffs around his wrists.

Around 7:10 am, Omar was taken outside, blindfolded, barefoot, and in his pajamas. A soldier beat Omar with a fire extinguisher during the ride in a military jeep to Adam Military Base opposite al-Ram town. Omar arrived back home at around 8:00 am where he found that the soldiers had vandalized the house.

Clashes after incursion

Shortly after the incursion, the camp came to life as people prepared to go to school or work. The residents were alerted to the presence of the Israeli forces inside the camp. Youth began to throw stones at the soldiers. For about half an hour, the Israeli forces respond with intermittent use of tear gas and stun grenades.

Around 6:10 am, soldiers began firing live bullets across the lanes in the camp. An initial medical report issued by Ramallah Hospital said that three people were killed and around 18 people were injured by live fire. Nineteen-year-old Ali Manasrah was shot in his leg. He arrives at Ramallah Hospital as the first person wounded during the clashes.

Mohammad Noah al-Araj is hit by a bullet in his right thigh while watching the events from the roof of his house. Youth throwing stones near the house backed away when Mohammad’s father asked them to leave the area so that he can take his injured son away. Then a military jeep arrived and stopped in front of the house, preventing the youth from leaving. One hour later — after the soldiers withdrew — Mohammad could finally be taken to the hospital.

Meanwhile, 23-year-old Younis Jamal Mohammad Abu Jahjouh could be seen on a roof about 50 meters from Qalandiya Grand Mosque. Younis was visible for the military jeeps stationed 20 meters away in the street below. Younis was part of a group throwing stones. The soldiers respond with heavy fire. At 6:15 am, Younis was hit in the chest by a bullet. Soldiers continued their heavy firing while he is carried down on a staircase. Younis was pronounced dead at around 9:30 am in Ramallah Hospital.

As more people were hurt and rumors began to circulate that people are killed, the youth of the camp react with more intensity. Many take to the roofs of their houses and start throwing stones, bricks, wooden sheets, metal and debris at the military jeeps. The soldiers, along with the military enforcement sent to the camp, responded with heavy use of live fire.

The killing of an UNRWA staff member

About 6:50 am, 34-year-old father of four Robin Abdelrahman Hussain Zayed was on his way to work as a guard for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

He turned back because of the heavy use of tear gas by the soldiers. Mohammad Mtair saw Robin and a number of workers near Yousef al-Khateeb’s house around 7:00 am. Youth tell Robin and Mohammad that Israeli snipers are in position and heavy live fire was used in the next street. Robin and others passed the information on to pupils who want to use the road.

Robin, Mohammad and some others walked towards the al-Khateeb house around 7:10 am. Thirty meters past the house, the last of the military jeeps that have stormed the house left the area. Walking at some distance in the same direction as the jeeps they reached the crossing which leads to the main road without hearing the firing. Here, at approximately 7:15 am, they heard live fire which leaves Robin hit in the chest. Eyewitnesses say that soldiers were standing out of sight from Robin, about 30 meters away. Robin was pronounced dead at Ramallah hospital shortly after his arrival.

The third Palestinian who was killed during the clashes is 19-year-old Jihad Mansour Harbi Aslan. At around 7:00 am, Jihad was injured by a bullet in the palm of his hand standing on a roof about 100 meters away from the Qalandiya Grand Mosque. He was one of a group which threws stones at soldiers and jeeps standing 20 meters away in the street below. After the youth begin to leave the area and Jihad takes a step back a bullet hits his chest. Jihad was pronounced dead at 10:30 am in Ramallah Hospital.

(Source / 09.09.2013)

New York tech university evasive about Israeli partner’s role in arms industry

Children gather on rubble of building hit in Israeli air strike

Israel’s Technion plays a key role in developing the arms technology used by Israel’s military.

Israel’s first major arms-developing educational institution on US soil recently received the green light.

New York City Council has approved a lease for Cornell University to build a major applied sciences and engineering campus in partnership with the Haifa-based Israel Institute of Technology (better known as the Technion). The 2.1-million-square-foot, taxpayer-funded project is to be located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, a strip of largely residential land between Manhattan and Queens.

According to a report in the local media, approval of the lease for the project — known asCornell NYC Tech — was pushed through by the New York City Council in July.

This occurred despite opposition from many inhabitants of Roosevelt Island, who had expressed concerns about the vagueness of clauses in the lease regarding who would be responsible for any damage caused during the construction period, which is expected to last 25 years (“Cornell clears borough board after community coalition loses bid to change of delay lease,” The Wire, 3 August 2013).

Silicon Valley in the Big Apple?

Like the lease, publicity for the new campus is replete with vague messaging. Although the ostensible goal of the project is to create a Silicon Valley-like hub in New York City, the precise nature of the technology it aims to develop has not be spelled out (“Building a better tech school,” The New York Times, 12 April 2013).

A closer look at the corporations affiliated with Technion, some of which have expressed interest in this entrepreneurial venture, indicates that the project’s aims may be more sinister. These corporations have developed weapons and surveillance technology used by Israel to deny Palestinians their fundamental human rights.

The Technion, it should be stressed, has a history of cooperating with Israel’s arms industryand of helping to develop a bulldozer designed specifically for use in demolishing Palestinian homes.

The Israeli company Verint Systems — a manufacturer of surveillance technology — is a strong supporter of Cornell NYC Tech. Verint was founded in 1994 by Dan Bodner, a Technion graduate, and is now headquartered in Melville, New York.

Bodner was present at the annual Israel Day in the New York Stock Exchange in November last year. There, he boasted, “The Cornell-Technion partnership can do for New York what Stanford University does for the Silicon Valley and MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] does for Boston … Successful technology companies depend on three ingredients: access to engineering talent, access to capital, and proximity to users.

“New York has two of those ingredients. The partnership will help establish the third ­— attract talented engineers and entrepreneurs to NYC,” he added (“Alum rings in trading day,” American Technion Society, 5 February 2013).

Under surveillance

In February of this year, Verint acquired Comverse Technology, another company founded in Israel. Counting the US Department of Defense and chain-stores like Target and Home Depot among its clients, Comverse has developed “security” systems used to direct airborne drones, monitor the Internet and record telephone calls.

Comverse is listed as an “industrial partner” on the website of the Technion’s computer science department. Other “partners” include IBM, Cisco and Qualcomm.

Technion is also affiliated with NICE, an Israel-based company that has developed surveillance systems bought by the New York City Police Department. The New York Civil Liberties Union has complained that there is no independent monitoring of how the police uses such equipment (“NYPD expands surveillance net to fight crime as well as terrorism,” Reuters, 21 June 2013).

At a meeting held with New York residents in July 2012, Cornell’s attorney Melanie Meyerswould not respond to a question about why the university was cooperating with an Israeli institute complicit in war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

This refusal to address issues of human rights and international law speaks volumes about the real aims of Cornell NYC Tech. There can be little doubt that this is an attempt to bolster Israeli apartheid disingenuously disguised as an economically and civically useful educational initiative.

(Source / 09.09.2013)

Document: WZO allocated Palestinian land to settlers in Jordan Valley

NAZARETH, (PIC)– An internal Israeli Civil Administration document revealed that the World Zionist Organization has allocated to Jewish settlers in the Jordan Valley more than 5,000 dunums of private Palestinian land.

Hebrew daily Haaretz said on Monday that the land is located east of the border fence, namely, between that fence and the actual border with Jordan.

It said, “This area between the border fence and the actual border — the Jordan River — is a closed military zone that in some places is two kilometers wide. A military order prevents the Palestinian owners from accessing their lands in this area. On the other hand, Jewish settlers are allowed to farm the lands.”

In January, Haaretz reported that under the aegis of this order, the WZO had allocated to settlers in the Jordan Valley over 5,000 dunums of private Palestinian lands.

The documents that have come into the possession of Haaretz indicate that following the June 1967 War and after the border fence was completed, Palestinians continued to farm their lands located close to the border.

In 1979, the WZO’s Settlement Division submitted a request for the cultivation of these lands “in light of the shortage of farmland in the Jordan Valley, a shortage that is preventing the expansion of existing communities and the establishment of new ones.”

The Civil Administration subsequently signed three agreements with the WZO, allocating to the latter organization some 29,000 dunums for farming purposes. An examination conducted by the Civil Administration shows that a total of 8,565 dunums are cultivated beyond the border fence.

(Facebook / 09.09.2013)

Egypt`s Tamarod founder survives assassination attempt

Mahmoud Badr, the founder of Tamarod.

Mahmoud Badr, the founder of Tamarod, the Egyptian youth movement that rallied street protests against ousted President Mohammad Mursi, survived assassination attempt on Monday: Al Arabiya correspondent reported from Cairo.

Tamarod’s official website reported that gunmen opened fire at his car and that he was not harmed.

(Source / 09.09.2013)

Tunisia reporters rally to protect press freedom

Workers at Tunisian radio network ERT are angry over partisan appointments to state-run media management posts and the government’s alleged intrusion in their editorial line.

Politicians, civil society figures and fellow journalists rallied Tuesday (September 3rd) in Tunis to support both the ERT employees and press freedom.

“This is just the first protest,” National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) chief Nejiba Hamrouni said amidst the crowd gathered outside the broadcast headquarters.

  • [Yasmine Najjar] Public radio journalists and union members protest in Tunis on September 3rd.Public radio journalists and union members protest in Tunis on September 3rd.

Her group has denounced Ennahda’s involvement in top media position appointments.

“In addition to the traditional risks faced by journalists, such as harassment, assaults and imprisonment, they now face a political, financial coalition,” she told Magharebia.

According to protestor Boutheina Guia, the ERT head “was appointed based on his loyalty to Ennahda”.

“He was loyal to Ben Ali’s party, and now he’s jumped on the new wave and joined the new ruling party,” he said.

“The workers who reject him will continue sit-ins. We’ll confront the domination attempts that threaten national media,” he vowed.

ERT General Manager Mouhamed Mouaddeb, however, denied any political intervention or partisan appointments.

“The gathering of tens of journalists doesn’t mean there is chaos and tension in the institution,” he said.

Mouaddeb also refuted rumours about his political allegiance to any given party.

“I’m independent from all political parties and ideological movements,” he said. “I’m known for my independence and credibility.”

For her part, radio station employee Faten Salhi said “All the newly-made appointments are suspicious because the new journalists were named without regard to rules and standards that must be observed.”

“There are other infringements, such as intervening in the editorial line, content during live broadcasting and in selecting guests,” she added. “It has gone as far as exercising censorship on recorded programmes.”

Kamel Labidi, former head of the National Authority for Reform of Information and Communication (INRIC), noted, “Repression is under way, and the troika government, especially Ennahda that dominates that ruling coalition, wants to control public media institutions.”

“In authoritarian regimes, the first steps involve the domestication of public media, then private media and then all other sectors,” he added.

Citizens also participated in the protest.

“I’m here to get my voice across and to reject partisan appointments to the top of a media institution, for which I pay from my own money to give me accurate and professional information,” Lobna Ameri, 32, said.

Protestor Mortadha Aibi said, “We thought these acts disappeared after the revolution, but, unfortunately, the Ennahda-led government wants to drag us backwards.”

(Source / 09.09.2013)

Dutch wholesaler UDEA boycotts Israeli settlement products

UDEA,  a wholesaler which also operates some 60 EKOPLAZA organic food stores in the Netherlands, boycotts produce from Israeli settlements.

The Dutch Palestinian solidarity group docP reports that one of its contacts corresponded  with UDEA on the question of Israeli settlement products in EKOPLAZA stores. UDEA wrote her that ” while EKOPLAZA does have a limited assortment of Israeli products, its policy is not to stock products from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For this it requires written agreements with its suppliers.”

EKOPLAZA later confirmed this in writing to docP that “The response we gave to our customer is indeed correct and we continue to carry this out. In this question we work in conformity with EU legislation.”

(Source / 09.09.2013)

Schaakgrootmeester Poetin

By Engelbert Luitsz               ©                    (


Obama, de huisneger van de zionistische meester, speelde in dit spel met wit. Hij deed de eerste zetten, zowel in het ondersteunen van de “rebellen” in Syrië als met de plotselinge “rode lijn” na twee jaar bloedvergieten. Tot nu toe bleef Rusland redelijk op de achtergrond, maar nu Obama tegen de overweldigende meerderheid van zowel de Amerikaanse bevolking als van die van de rest van de wereld in, toch een aanval op Syrië lijkt te willen doorzetten, zelfs zonder steun van het Amerikaanse Congres, begint Poetin zich te roeren.

In de Russische verdediging in het schaken speelt zwart op de tweede zet het paard naar F6, waarmee zwart direct aanvalt, in tegenstelling tot het verdedigende paard op C6. En dat lijkt hij vandaag gedaan te hebben. Garri Kasparov staat niet bekend als een vriend van Poetin, maar er is in Rusland zoals bekend geen schaarste aan briljante schakers, dus wellicht heeft een andere grootmeester Poetin de afgelopen weken op sleeptouw genomen.

Vandaag vond er een historische ontmoeting plaats tussen de ministers van Buitenlandse Zaken William Hague van Engeland en John Kerry van de Verenigde Staten. Historisch om verschillende redenen. Deelname aan een aanval tegen Syrië werd door het Britse Lagerhuis weggestemd. Daarop reageerde Kerry door Engeland niet te noemen in een lange lijst “vrienden” van Amerika en Frankrijk te promoveren tot “onze oudste bondgenoot“. Dat moet hard zijn aangekomen. Engeland heeft zich per slot van rekening met Tony Blair altijd een betrouwbare partner in crime getoond.

Dat was ruim een week geleden. Vandaag hield Hague (ironisch tussendoortje: The Hague betekent Den Haag, zetel van het Internationaal Strafhof) een nogal onduidelijk verhaal waaruit je in ieder geval kon opmaken dat de steun aan de Amerikanen absoluut geen deuk had opgelopen. Ik ben zeer benieuwd hoe daar in Engeland op gereageerd gaat worden. De Britse regering schuift daarmee de democratische besluitvorming opzij ten gunste van een illegaal en uitermate gevaarlijk avontuur. Zeer tot genoegen van Kerry kennelijk: “Our bond is bigger than one vote, bigger than one moment in history.” Het kan verkeren.

Obama heeft het erg moeilijk. Hij kan geen hard bewijs leveren voor de gifgasaanval, nog minder voor de betrokkenheid van Assad daarbij. Hij zette de Verenigde Naties buitenspel bij de inspectie en ook de Veiligheidsraad bij een aanval. En de vraag: ‘Stel dat dat allemaal wel waar zou zijn, legitimeert dat dan de kans op een oorlog waarin Rusland, Iran en Israël betrokken kunnen raken?’, wordt al helemaal niet gesteld. Mensen als Moebarak en Saddam Hoessein, evenals de bevriende natie Israël konden hun gang gaan met de meest gruwelijke wapens tegen burgers, zonder dat Amerika zich daar over opwond. De lijstjes met oorlogsmisdaden van en het gebruik van chemische wapens door de Verenigde Staten overspoelen de sociale media. Zelfs op Fox News werd Obama totaal afgebrand, waarschijnlijk een unicum.

En vandaag ging het helemaal mis. Na de verhaaltjes van Hague en Kerry was er tijd voor journalisten om vragen te stellen. Een journalist vroeg quasi terloops of er nog een mogelijkheid zou zijn voor Syrië om een aanval te ontlopen, waarop Kerry antwoordde dat Assad dan al zijn chemische wapens moest inleveren. Hij zei er nog wel achteraan dat dat niet realistisch was, maar het kwaad was reeds geschied. Uit alle macht probeerde hij de schade nog te beperken door later te verklaren dat het ultimatum aan het Syrische regime niet letterlijk opgevat moest worden. En toen kwam de geniale zet van Poetin: hij deed een oproep aan Assad om het chemische arsenaal te vernietigen! Iemand in twee zetten mat zetten kan niet in het schaken, maar dit komt er toch heel dicht bij.

Maar wat doet iemand die verloren heeft met schaken? Sommigen feliciteren hun tegenstander, sommigen lopen boos weg en een enkeling smijt het bord door de kamer. De kans dat Obama tot die laatste categorie behoort is niet meer denkbeeldig. Hij heeft gelogen over het feit dat ‘de internationale gemeenschap’ een rode lijn heeft getrokken in het geval van Syrië, dat heeft hij in eerste instantie zelf gedaan (waarschijnlijk in navolging van Netanyahu die dat voor Iran deed), later ontkende hij dat opeens en deed hij of het een algemeen aanvaarde norm was.

We hoorden al vaker dat ‘de geloofwaardigheid’ van de Verenigde Staten op het spel stond. Het zou gezichtsverlies betekenen als zij na zoveel oorlogsretoriek toch zouden afhaken. Een signaal aan alle landen die kwaad willen om maar kwistig met gifgas te gaan strooien, want Amerika durft toch niets te doen! Maar wat als Assad het spel meespeelt en ingaat op de eis van Poetin? Tellen dan die andere 100.000 doden opeens niet meer? Is het dan opeens koek en ei in Syrië?

Het was uitgerekend Poetin die Obama een lesje democratie moest bijbrengen door erop te wijzen dat er onweerlegbaar bewijs moest zijn voor de beweringen van het Pentagon en dat het onaanvaardbaar is om een soevereine staat aan te vallen zonder mandaat van de Veiligheidsraad.

Obama zit muurvast. Hij heeft zich aan het begin van zijn presidentschap geprofileerd als anti-oorlog. Hoe kan hij nu nog wegkomen met een aanval die alleen in Israël door de bevolking wordt gesteund? Hij lijkt verstrikt geraakt te zijn in het net dat de zionisten voor hem gespannen hebben: ofwel een confrontatie met Rusland, ofwel een complete afgang. De zionistenlobby AIPAC heeft honderden activisten ingezet om het Amerikaanse Congres te bewegen tot een aanval op Syrië. Israël is waarschijnlijk het enige land ter wereld dat de aanval zo openlijk steunt.

Gaat Obama eindelijk zijn Nobelprijs voor de Vrede verdienen? Houdt hij de eer aan zichzelf en wordt hij weer een veldneger die kan strijden tegen onrecht? Of smijt hij het bord door de kamer en laat hij het Midden-Oosten ontploffen? Waarschijnlijk weten we deze week meer. De internationale gemeenschap moet met morele wapens vechten tegen de kruisraketten van imperialistische schurken. Het zal niet makkelijk worden.

Update in Haaretz:
“Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said on Monday that his country welcomed Moscow’s proposal to relinquish control over its chemical arsenals, a move Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said could avert a U.S. strike.”

Rice: strike against Syria aims to send message to Iran

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks at the White House in Washington, in this Feb. 28, 2011 file photo.

A U.S. military strike on the Syrian regime is in part aimed to send a message to its ally Iran over its nuclear program, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on Monday.

Susan Rice, joining a major public effort by President Barack Obama to persuade a skeptical Congress, said the United States was morally bound to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, AFP reported.

Rice said that U.S. action on Syria was also critical for the broader influence of the United States, which has joined Israel and European nations in warning Iran against developing nuclear weapons.

“We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Rice said at the New America Foundation, a think tank.

“As the president has said, all options remain on the table. For our efforts to succeed, however, the leaders in Tehran must know that the United States means what we say,” she said.

“If we do not respond when Iran’s close ally uses weapons of mass destruction, what message does that send to Iran? It risks suggesting that the international community cannot muster the will to act when necessary,” Rice said.

Disarming Assad

Meanwhile, a U.S. official said the United States plans to “follow up” with Russia on Syrian regime’s pledge to surrender its chemical weapons stockpile to international control.

But Ben Rhodes, a U.S. deputy national security advisor, told MSNBC that Washington would not, however, ease pressure on Damascus and was wary of a “stalling” exercise.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. would consider the proposal floated by the foreign ministers of Russia and Syria with “serious skepticism” because it might be a stalling tactic, according to Associated Press.

Harf said Syria had consistently refused to destroy its chemical weapons in the past.

“We’ll have to take a hard look at the Russian statement … so we understand exactly what the Russians are proposing here,” she said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S. military strike by surrendering all his chemical weapons within a week.

When asked by a reporter in London whether there was anything Assad’s government could do or offer to stop a military strike, Kerry answered:

“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week – turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it), but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done.”

The State Department later said Kerry had been making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility of Assad turning over chemical weapons, which Assad denies his forces used in the Aug. 21 poison gas attack, according to Reuters.

(Source / 09.09.2013)


By Peter Clifford                   ©               (

The war of words and rhetoric over the proposed strike on Syria went up yet another notch over the weekend with numerous countries and commentators getting in on the act, some for, some against.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been making a whirlwind tour of Europe holding press conferences with EU leaders and also meeting with the foreign ministers of the Arab League in Paris, trying to get everyone on board and presumably by doing so, to strengthen President Obama’s hand in getting the support of Congress.

The BBC has a video overview of the Kerry “grand tour”, HERE:

Anti War Protests Infront of US Congress

Getting the majority support of the America’s legislators looks like a tough call though, or as Obama himself said, “A heavy lift”.

Polls indicate that he might just scrape a “yes” vote in a Senate vote on Wednesday, but lose heavily in a House of Representatives vote in a week or so.

Sources in Israel suggest that Obama will order the strike after the first vote in the Senate and not wait for the second vote in the House of Representatives, an act which he can legally make but which will open him to a storm of criticism at home.

This morning, Monday, has seen a “duel by press conference” with the Syrian and Russian Foreign Ministers, Walid Al-Muallem and Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, followed by John Kerry and the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague in London.

In Moscow, Muallem and Lavrov, noting poll results from around the world, played the anti-war card for all it was worth saying, “We have to salute the American people for the awareness of being against such a war. We also salute the Pope for his prayer for peace. And the European people, the majority of the European people, who are against this aggression”.

Lavrov also said that a military strike against Syria would risk creating an “outburst of terrorism” and insisted that, “The possibility for a political solution remains”, although Russia continues to block all anti-Syria resolutions at the UN Security Council.

Not taking any chances though, Russia sent another plane to Latakia yesterday to airlift Russian citizens in Syria to safety in Moscow.

In London, John Kerry said that the risks of doing nothing were greater than acting and insisted that the US and the UK remained “true friends” despite the British parliament voting against UK involvement in any Syrian strike.

(An interesting article on how the British opposition party, Labour, may have been manipulated in its “No” vote by extreme left-wing groups that were ultimately pro-Russia/Assad, HERE: )

Asked what Syria would have to do to avoid a US strike, Kerry said that Syria could hand over all its chemical weapons to international control.

According to Kerry, only President Assad, his brother and commander of the 4th Division and Republican Guard, Maher Al-Assad, and one other unnamed senior officer have the authority to issue instructions to use chemical weapons.

The Assad Brothers, Maher on Left

In reports from the German newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, yesterday, the German intelligence ship Oker, which has been parked off the Syrian coast for some considerable time, has picked up several conversations over the last four and a half months in which local Assad commanders have requested permission to use chemical weapons from the presidential palace, but this has always been denied.

Assad, in an interview broadcast today by the US station PBS, claims that he has “never given the order to use chemical weapons”, and the German conclusion is that this may be correct.

However, as commander-in-chief of Syrian forces he ultimately carries the responsibility, and in the same interview continues to deny that his Government were in any way responsible.

The finger of suspicion does point strongly though as Assad’s brother, Maher, who has not been seen in public for a year since he was seriously wounded in an Opposition bomb attack in Damascus that killed several of Assad’s Ministers.

Maher was believed to have lost part of a hand and leg in the explosion but is still in control of 2 of the elite divisions of the Syrian Army.  This Guardian article of August 24th lays out the evidence,HERE: 


In Damascus, while on the surface there appears to be an air of calm, many are nervous about what a US strike will bring, some fearing that it will give impetus to the Opposition fighters to strike harder.

According to reports from the city, “Orders have been given to stand firm. Headquarters buildings have been evacuated, infantry dispersed into small formations, hospitals stocked with emergency supplies and radar stations placed at the highest level of alert”.

A FSA fighter in Aleppo

Echoing the fears of his fellow citizens, one just known as Saleem, said, “I’m more afraid now than I was ever when we fought in Qusair or Khalidiyeh.

If a foreign strike comes and the rebels manage to intensify their operations simultaneously, that’s a whole new level of combat.

I’m still more scared of rebel mortars than U.S. cruise missiles.”

The BBC has a video report from the Syrian capital, HERE: 

A Reuters journalist based in Beirut managed to contact a number of Syrian armed forces personnel by telephone. Although senior officers spoke of unspecified plans to fight back against U.S. attacks, junior service members described the idea of actually taking on U.S. forces as “absurd”.

“Our small warships are spread around the coast on full alert, and why? To confront the U.S. destroyers? I feel like I’m living in a bad movie,” said a Syrian Navy sailor reached on a vessel in the Mediterranean.  You can read more, HERE:

This is a map, courtesy of, showing the disposition of Russian, US, British and French naval vessels around the eastern end of the Mediterranean.  For a larger version of this map, click on the picture, HERE:

Map of Naval Position Eastern Med 6.9.13

The members of the Syrian armed forces are not the only one who are nervous of a US strike apparently.

According to this article from Martin Chulov in the Guardian, the Jihadists have evacuated their bases and dispersed their fighters and weapons thinly over the countryside in northern Syria, convinced that the US will take the opportunity to eliminate them as well, HERE:


While the politicians and diplomats wrangle and battle with a million words, the real fighting in Syria continues on the ground.

In Deraa it is reported that Government forces are attacking the town of Sheik Miskin from several directions but in the same province Opposition fighters have captured Brigadier General Jaber Mehrez who commands Brigade 38 and also taken Border Post 64 on the Jordanian frontier.

In Hama the Opposition are reported to have stormed the Zilaqiat checkpoint while in the eastern Hama countryside at Al-Hamra activists say fighters have captured a T-72 tank and killed 40 regime troops.

At Hama military airport however, regime troops have been filmed loading helicopters with what appear to be barrel bombs, HERE:

In Idlib province, activists reported another regime helicopter downed by Opposition fighters yesterday near Jabal al-Zawiya and in Raqqah province to the north-east, Assad’s jets bombed within 50 metres of the Taqba dam.

A direct hit on the flood gates or barrier itself, which are controlled by the Opposition, would not only wipe out electric supplies to large parts of Syria but flood millions of acres and homes in the northern provinces.  There is a video, HERE:

Defected Assad Troops in Qalamoun

In Damascus, 5 Syrian Army officers and 5 conscripts are reported to have defected in the suburb of Qalamoun and in the northern countryside Jihadist brigades are said to have retaken the largely Christian town of Maalalou which they had previously vacated last Thursday.

The Christian population, one of the very few communities in the world that still speaks Aramaic, the language of Jesus, has fled the town and Government forces are said to be shelling Opposition positions, endangering ancient monasteries and Churches, HERE:

The Chinese built HJ-8 anti-tank missile launcher has also been filmed being used effectively in Qalamoun, HERE:

In a sinister move in Homs, it is reported this morning, Monday, that Assad’s troops attacked inmates in the central prison last night after they rioted following attempts to transfer them to facilities inside airports and military barracks that could be targeted in any US-led strikes.

Security forces fired bullets, tear gas and used tasers and a number of prisoners are said to have been injured or killed.

On the other hand, in northern Homs province, Opposition fighters are said to have carried out a mortar attack on a police headquarters, killing 11 policemen and injuring 10 more.

Lastly, as I have often given on this blog, the last word goes to the citizens of liberated Kafranbel – a message for the “Anti-War demonstrators”:

Message from Kafranbel to “Anti War” Demonstrators



I want you to remember this picture when you think of Israel’s use of chemical weapons every time someone parrots the talking points of the Israeli government.  This picture was taken in Gaza, Palestine; this is a war crime.

No this isn’t photoshopped.  If this isn’t a war crime then I don’t know what is. - See more at:

No this isn’t photoshopped. If this isn’t a war crime then I don’t know what is.

Now – when discussing Israel’s use of chemical weapons – I have heard many justifications, excuses and obfuscations to minimize the criminal element of “Operation Cast Lead” that lasted just over 3 weeks from December 28th, 2008 to January 18th, 2009. The timing of Operation Cast Lead is important since the U.S. and the world was focused on the horror of an economic downward spiral and the hope of a new way forward … President Barack Obama was waiting for his inauguration at this point. Now – many Israel advocates like to claim that this isn’t illegal and that Israel used white phosphorous (which is irrefutable and the Israeli government acknowledges) only as a smoke screen.

Under international law – white phosphorous may be used as a smoke screen but not on civilian populations. Gaza is one of the most densely populated ares in the world and Israel’s use of white phosphorous is very clearly being used over civilian areas. Operation Cast Lead resulted in between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinian and 13 Israeli deaths; 4 of them were from friendly fire. The United Nations conducted an investigation and released the now famous Goldstone report which acknowledged that Israel’s use of white phosphorous was indeed a war crime. It was after significant pressure and a couple of years later – the author retracted his report’s findings. The United Nations Human Right Council, however, still found Israel guilty of war crimes and they ordered that Israel compensate Palestinian families for the damage caused by the Israeli government. They wrote HERE:

The approval of USD 85 million worth of United Nations projects remains pending. Israel recently released 20,000 tons of construction materials for Gaza’s private sector. However, the border closures and restrictions on passage through border crossings continue to seriously negatively affect the population of the Gaza Strip. Over 75 per cent of the units needed to replace homes destroyed during Operation Cast Lead have not been constructed. Gaza’s unemployment rate remains high. This combines with the urgent demand for construction materials to reconstruct homes, schools and other infrastructure to result in thousands of people continuing to risk their lives to work in tunnels along the border with Egypt.

If another country took this kind of action – the U.S. would be invading them. Not only did the U.S. not invade Israel, we give them money to continue their human rights violations and we continue to veto any resolution to hold Israel accountable on the UN security council. And we wonder why so many other countries hate the U.S. Quite simply – we live by double standards. We support democracy only if its the result we want i.e. Gaza 2006, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Congo 1960, Dominican Republican 1961, South Vietnam 1963, Brazil 1964, and Chile 1973 (source) to name only a select few not including many attempted coup attempts like Venezuela 2002.

The double standard continues for the use of chemical weapons. President Obama is looking to attack Syria after an apparent chemical weapons attack although there are reports that these chemical weapons attack were in fact not committed by the Syrian government (source). President Obama claims that we must set a red line for those countries willing to utilize chemical weapons; he has however not taken the same stance with the Israeli government despite countless human rights violations. One of the most ironic elements of this entire situation is that the #1 force pushing for an attack on Syria is Israel and their lobbying arm AIPAC (source).

Israel’s military has said that it will not use white phosphorous “for the time being” with two exceptions that the state attorney would not disclose in a public hearing in front of the Israeli High Court; the Israeli High Court dismissed a petition to make the use of white phosphorous illegal (source). So – the Israeli military can’t be held accountable externally because the U.S. blocks any resolutions on the UN Security Council and it won’t be held accountable internally because the Israeli High Court has prioritized the promises of the military over “right and wrong”.

The Impact of White PhosphorousWhite-Phosphorus-001

_46061574_007651442-1MIDEAST-PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-GAZA-UNisrael_rees_gaza_01_11_09Smoke rises during Israeli's offensive in Gaza

Photo Fady Awan Gaza City January 8 2009

Photo Fady Awan Gaza City January 8 2009

Palestinian Mohamed Ahmed is treated for burns at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 12, 2009.

Palestinian Mohamed Ahmed is treated for burns at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 12, 2009.


Ghada Abu Halima, 21, who was gravely injured by IDF white phosphorus in Gaza. Abu Halima later died of her wounds (photo: Muhammad Sabah / B’tzelem)

Ghada Abu Halima, 21, who was gravely injured by IDF white phosphorus in Gaza. Abu Halima later died of her wounds (photo: Muhammad Sabah / B’tzelem)


Remember these images when someone tries to make excuses for Israel’s use of chemical weapons on the Palestinian people. - See more at:

Remember these images when someone tries to make excuses for Israel’s use of chemical weapons on the Palestinian people.

(Source / 09.09.2013)