Israeli forces clash with Palestinian protesters in al-Khalil

An Israeli soldier chases two Palestinian youths during clashes in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil on September 23, 2013.

An Israeli soldier chases two Palestinian youths during clashes in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil on September 23, 2013.
The Israeli regime forces have clashed with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) as troops hunted for the suspected killer of an Israeli soldier.

On Monday, Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinians who were protesting against the fierce Israeli clampdown on the city.

The soldier, named as Sergeant Gabriel Kobi, 20, was struck on Sunday by gunfire at a checkpoint near the Cave of Patriarchs, which is known by Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The shooting prompted a massive manhunt for the gunman, with emergency road blocks being set up and security forces fanning across the area.

Sunday’s shooting came a day after another Israeli soldier, Tomer Hazan, 20, was found dead in a shallow well in a remote spot near the West Bank city of Qalqilyah.

Israeli officials claimed a Palestinian from Beit Amin south of Qalqiliya, carried out the killing in the hope that he could trade the body in exchange for the release of his brother, jailed by Israel since 2003.

According to human rights group B’Tselem, more than 4,700 Palestinian prisoners, including about 170 administrative detainees, are currently being held in Israeli prisons.

Administrative detention is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The detention order can be renewed for indefinite periods of time.

The West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

Israel has hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank which have made life difficult for the Palestinians in the territory.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

Settlers set to re-occupy Palestinian home as army raids terrorize Hebron

Israeli occupation forces detain a Palestinian youth during protests against roadblocks and checkpoints in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, 22 September.

Eyewitnesses in Hebron say that Israeli settlers may be preparing to seize the home of the Abu Rajab family which they first invaded and occupied for several days in April 2012.

At that time, an Israeli court ordered the settlers out of the house, but never allowed the Abu Rajab family who had lived in it to return.

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the settlers to move back into the three-story building, in response to the killing of an Israeli occupation soldier in the city by an unknown shooter on Sunday.

Meanwhile, thousands of Israeli occupation soldiers have been staging raids and mass arrests of Palestinians in Hebron, subjecting residents young and old to abusive treatment, according to witnesses.

Settlers set up temporary shelters


Israeli settlers in Hebron set up a protest tent on 24 September next to the Abu Rajab home, which they seized for several days in April 2012 and plan to reoccupy.

On Tuesday, Israeli judicial authorities said that Netanyahu’s call had been his personal opinion, and that the settlers would have to await a court order before they would be allowed to occupy the Abu Rajab home.

However, there are signs that the settlers may already be preparing to seize the property.

A member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) (, reached by telephone in Hebron, told The Electronic Intifada:

This morning we were there at about 7:00 doing our school patrol at checkpoint 209, right next to the Abu Rajab house. We could see there were a lot of settlers about. One or two of them were armed. They had put up one or two of those temporary shelters directly outside the building. And we saw some people inside the building. We’re not sure if they were soldiers or settlers.

This evening when we went past the lights in the building were all on. We didn’t see anyone moving around inside, but the lights were all on.

CPT, which has been present in Hebron since 1995, monitors checkpoints in the morning as Palestinian teachers and students walk through, often facing violence and harassment from soldiers and settlers.

Settlers seized home from Abu Rajab family

Settlers violently occupied the Abu Rajab house in April 2012, apparently assisted by Israeli occupation forces.

But they were evicted a week later after an Israeli court ruled that the house should be sealed until it decided who owned it.

Settlers claim to have purchased the Abu Rajab house, which they’ve dubbed “Beit Hamachpela,” but this is contested by members of the Abu Rajab family, who have lived in it for generations.

As the Guardian reported in April 2012:

Hazem Abu Rajab, 25, a member of the extended Palestinian family living in the large three-storey property, said they were woken at 1am by Israeli soldiers, armed and wearing black, who broke down three doors. “Within five minutes, 100 to 150 settlers were inside,” he said. The family insisted it had the deeds and other documentation, and pointed out that anyone legitimately purchasing a property would use keys rather than break down doors in the middle of the night.

The house had been successively inherited by the original owner’s sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, said Abu Rajab. “If the settlers did buy, it was from one owner out of many. This house belongs to the whole family.”

Settlers often claim to have “purchased” Palestinian properties as a pretext to violently seize them from their owners.

The video above, posted on YouTube on 6 April 2012, shows Palestinians in Hebron attempting to visit members of the Abu Rajab family still in the house, but being turned away by occupation forces.

Risk to Palestinian schoolchildren

Early on Tuesday, CPT sent out an email release stating:

The resettlement of the Abu Rajab house is a significant risk directly to the community of Hebron, international law and human rights, as settlements are illegal under international law and impede the on going peace process.

In addition to the legality of the settlement, the location of the [Abu Rajab house] will constitute a severe threat to the freedom of movement for Palestinians. The house sits between two Palestinian schools and the 209 Israeli military checkpoint. If the settlement remains, it will be in the middle of an area hundreds of Palestinian children must pass in order to attend early morning classes.

At the mercy of settlers

A few hundred Israeli settlers, among the most extreme and racist in the West Bank, have steadily been taking over the heart of Hebron – a Palestinian city of more than 160,000 – with the protection and assistance of Israeli occupation forces.

Under a 1997 agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hebron was partitioned into two zones: “H1” and “H2.”

H1 is nominally administered by the Palestinian Authority and is home to more than 120,000 Palestinians.

H2, under full Israeli military rule, includes Hebron’s historic Old City as well as the Ibrahimi Mosque in which the settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinian men and boys in February 1994.

Israeli occupation forces severely restrict the movement of more than 30,000 Palestinians in H2 while Israeli settlers move about freely under army protection.

Ghost town

This has left much of the city center a ghost town as severe restrictions and harassment keep Palestinians out of the area.

A 2006 survey by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem found that at least 1,014 Palestinian homes in the Old City of Hebron had been vacated by their occupants and more than 1,800 businesses had shuttered due to the Israeli takeover.

This represented 42 percent of the housing units in the district and more than three-quarters of the businesses.

Mass arrests and raids

Israel has intensified its assault on Palestinian in Hebron since Sunday’s shooting of the occupation soldier.

Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer condemned Israel’s mass arrests and raids

Quoting eyewitnesses, the group said that approximately 5,000 Israeli soldiers had been deployed in several areas of the city.

The witnesses said that the soldiers raided homes and patrolled the streets with megaphones demanding that all residents over the age of 18 report to the main squares.

There, witnesses said, the occupation forces “made them put their hands above their heads and sit in stressful positions in parallel lines, then shackled their hands behind their backs and interrogated them.”

Tensions have been rising in Hebron ever since Israeli occupation forces tightened their stranglehold on the Old City last week so that Israeli settlers from outside the city could visiten masse during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

Israeli provocations, including roadblocks and additional checkpoints severely hampering the lives of Palestinians, led to clashes in which the occupation forces fired tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel balls at youths resisting with stones.

Seventeen Palestinians were injured by occupation forces firing tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets and in one case live ammunition on Tuesday as well, according to Ma’an News Agency.

Frequent attacks by soldiers and settlers

Palestinians in Hebron face frequent harassment and violence at the hands of soldiers and settlers. Children have faced violent arrest on the way to school.

Children and youths are led from their homes in the middle of the night blindfolded.

Settlers stage racist parades mocking the Palestinians who live under their and the army’s tyranny.

Last December, on his seventeenth birthday, Muhammad al-Salaymeh, a Palestinian high schooler, was arbitrarily shot dead by Nofar Mizrahi, an Israeli occupation soldier stationed at a checkpoint near the boy’s home.

Mizrahi gave Israeli media a version of the circumstances around the killing contradicted by video evidence.

The killing, like thousands of others by Israeli occupation forces, has never been independently and credibly investigated.

A year before his murder, al-Salaymeh had spoken on Palestinian television about the situation in Hebron:

“There are always closures, but we are steadfast. We will never leave our house in which we were raised for years and generations, because we will be steadfast to our last breath, until we die.”

(Source / 24.09.2013)

Palestine: Give democracy a chance, a response to Danny Danon

It is not a “Palestinian problem” but a “Zionism problem”, and peace requires an intellectual transformation.

“Perhaps what Mr. Danon (pictured) himself called the “umpteenth round of negotiations” will be the last gasp of the fruitless pursuit of a separationist solution for those who live… in the “Holy Land”, writes Whitbeck
In an opinion article entitled “Israel Should Annul the Oslo Accords” which was published on September 21 in the New York Times, Danny Danon, Israel’s deputy defence minister, offered his own vision (presumably not radically inconsistent with that of his prime minister) for “creating a long-term solution” to what he called, significantly, “the Palestinian problem” – annulling the “Oslo Accords” and abandoning any pretence of seeking a “two-state solution” so as to “have the opportunity to rethink the current paradigm and hopefully lay the foundations for a more realistic modus vivendi between the Jews and Arabs of this region.”

Since the “Oslo Accords”, which, as a strictly legal matter, should have expired at the end of their defined “interim period” in 1999, have proven a spectacular success for Israel and a catastrophic failure for Palestine, many Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinian cause who have nothing else in common with Mr. Danon share his desire to escape from the “Oslo” cage and to “rethink” the best way forward.

However, if the problem of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence is ever to be solved, it must be redefined and clearly understood. Those who truly seek justice and peace in the Middle East must dare to speak openly and honestly of the “Zionism problem” and then to draw the moral, ethical and practical conclusions which follow.

When South Africa was under a racial-supremicist, settler-colonial regime, the world recognized that the problem was the ideology and political system of the state. Anyone outside the country who referred to the “black problem” or the “native problem” (or, for that matter, to the “white problem”) would instantly have been branded a racist.

The world also recognised that the solution to that problem could not be found either in “separation” (apartheid in Afrikaans) and scattered native reservations (called “independent states” by the South African regime and “Bantustans” by the rest of the world) or in driving the settler-colonial group in power into the sea. Rather, the solution had to be found — and, to almost universal satisfaction and relief, was found — in democracy, in white South Africans growing out of their racial-supremicist ideology and political system and accepting that their interests and their children’s futures would be best served in a democratic, non-racist state with equal rights for all who live there.

The solution for the land which, until it was literally wiped off the map in 1948, was called Palestine is the same. It can only be democracy.

The ever-receding “political horizon” for a decent “two-state solution”, which, on the ground, becomes less practical with each passing year of expanding settlements (now home to some 600,000 Israelis), bypass roads and walls, is weighed down by a multitude of excruciatingly difficult “final status” issues which Israeli governments have consistently refused to discuss seriously, preferring to postpone them to the end of a road which is never reached and which, almost certainly, is intended never to be reached.

Just as marriage is vastly less complicated than divorce, democracy is vastly less complicated than partition. A democratic post-Zionist solution would not require any borders to be agreed, any division of Jerusalem, anyone to move from his current home or any assets to be evaluated and apportioned. Full rights of citizenship would simply be extended to all the surviving natives still living in the country, as happened in the United States in the early 20th century and in South Africa in the late 20th century.

The obstacle to such a simple, morally unimpeachable solution is, of course, intellectual and psychological. Traumatised by the Holocaust and perceived insecurity as a Jewish island in an Arab sea, Israelis have immense psychological problems in coming to grips with the practical impossibility of sustaining eternally what most of mankind, composed as it is of peoples who have themselves been victims of colonialism and racism, view as an abomination — a racial-supremicist, settler-colonial regime founded upon the ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population.

Indeed, Israelis have placed themselves in a virtually impossible situation. To taste its bitter essence, Americans might try to imagine what life in their country would be like if the European settlers had not virtually exterminated the indigenous population and put the few survivors out of sight and out of mind and if half of today’s American population were Indians, without basic human rights, impoverished, smouldering with resentment and visible every day as the inescapable living evidence of the injustice inflicted on their ancestors.

Americans might try to imagine further that Canada and Mexico were independent Indian states, still unreconciled to the European conquest and colonisation of the land between them and with populations much larger than that of the United States. This would not be a pleasant society in which to live. Both colonisers and colonised would be progressively degraded and dehumanised. The colonisers could, rationally, conclude that they could never be forgiven by those they had dispossessed and that no “solution” was imaginable. So it has been, and continues to be, in the lands under Israeli rule.

The overwhelming vote of the UN General Assembly on November 29, 2012, to confirm Palestine’s status as a state, within its full pre-1967 borders, has created, notwithstanding the continuing occupation, a two-state legality, but the situation on the ground since 1967 has been an effective one-state reality, and there is no sign that any other state is willing or able to change that reality.

Perhaps what Mr. Danon himself called the “umpteenth round of negotiations” will be the last gasp of the fruitless pursuit of a separationist solution for those who live, and will continue to live, in the “Holy Land”. Perhaps those who care about justice and peace and believe in democracy can then find ways to stimulate Israelis to move beyond Zionist ideology and attitudes toward a more humanistic, humane, hopeful and democratic view of present realities and future possibilities.

No one would suggest that the moral, ethical and intellectual transformation necessary to achieve a democratic “one-state solution” will be easy. However, more and more people now recognise that a decent “two-state solution” has become impossible.

It is surely time for concerned people everywhere — and particularly for Americans, with their passionate attachment to democracy — to imagine a better way, to encourage Israelis to imagine a better way and to help both Israelis and Palestinians to achieve it. It is surely time to seriously consider democracy and to give it a chance.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

Hamas, choked by blockade, seeks to avoid Egypt clash

Hamas security guard the border between Egypt and Gaza Strip, in Rafah, on Sept. 11, 2013
GAZA CITY (AFP) — The Hamas rulers of Gaza, where an Israeli blockade worsened after a friendly government in Cairo was overthrown, is doing all it can to avoid a confrontation with Egypt’s army, experts say.

In July, an army coup ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a close Hamas ally.

During Morsi’s year in power, Cairo had eased up on movement between Egyptian territory and Gaza, which had been more tightly controlled under ex-president Hosni Mubarak and the military regime that temporarily took power after he was toppled.

But after the July coup, the new military-installed authorities started turning the screws again.

They have repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing and destroyed hundreds of tunnels running under the town that Hamas used for years to import fuel, building materials and other goods.

Hamas strongly condemned the Egyptian army after it subsequently drove the Brotherhood underground in a sweeping crackdown, saying it had committed “terrible massacres.”

But Hamas has since sought to downplay any tensions.

Adnan Abu Amr of Umma University in Gaza, said: “Hamas faces a crisis and strangulation that is forcing it to step back and minimise the chances of a clash with Egypt. (They hope) this will stop any unexpected Egyptian moves,” he said.

The situation “requires that Hamas appear flexible. Standing up to the Egyptian army is not in their interest.”

And Hamas officials have made clear that this is their policy.

Spokesman Fawzi Barhum insisted in remarks to AFP that “Gaza does not pose a threat to Egypt’s security and will not do so,” urging Egypt to “open Rafah permanently.”

Egypt says it has closed the Rafah crossing for “security reasons” as it seeks to cleanse the Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza, of Islamist militants.

Earlier this month, Gaza’s Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya condemned “attempts to draw the resistance (Hamas) into sideline battles away from the (real) enemy (Israel).”

“The government is not steering the people towards fighting Egypt or towards aggression against any state, regardless of the unprecedented pressure and circumstances the Palestinian people are under,” he said.

Political analyst Akram Ataallah said Hamas was “sending a message of detente to the Egyptian army and government — that it does not want a clash, and that the army is the sole authority that geographically controls Hamas’s life.” dissolution

In the latest show of force from Egypt, a military court sentenced five Palestinian fishermen to a year each in jail last Wednesday for illegally entering the country’s territorial waters.

Hamas is also suffering because Egypt controls who goes in and out through Rafah, Ataallah said.

Under Morsi, Cairo welcomed Hamas’ leaders — many of whom are based in exile, including its Qatar-based head Khaled Meshaal — to discuss security and economic cooperation with senior officials.

Mussa Abu Marzuq, head of Hamas’s political office, asked on his public Facebook page this week: “Is there any sensible person who believes that the people of Gaza would label Egypt the enemy when it’s the only one (controlling) their living standards and contact with the outside world?”

Gaza has struggled financially since Egypt destroyed the Rafah tunnels, with a fuel shortage that threatens to shut down its sole power station, the Hamas energy authority says.

And the government has announced that it would have to underpay its 40,000 employees for the third month in a row.

Haniya reiterated that there was no reason for a “struggle against Egypt, whether it’s the government, army or its people and parties, and we shan’t interfere in the internal affairs of any country.”

His comments came after accusations in the Egyptian press that Hamas was aiding the Brotherhood militarily, with the aim of attacking Egypt’s army.

Abu Marzuq, who is based in Egypt, appeared on an Egyptian television programme apologising for the reaction of its military wing to the Brotherhood crackdown.

Military vehicles of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, carrying masked militiamen, had paraded in Gaza’s streets in what was considered a threat to Egypt’s army.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

Savage settlers assault 13 year old child in Hebron and left while bleeding all over his body

HEBRON (Ma’an) – A group of Israeli settlers assaulted a Palestinian teenager in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the southern West Bank Monday evening beating him viciously.

Locals told Ma’an that 13-year-old Awni Imad Abu Shamsiyya was evacuated by an Israeli military ambulance, then a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance took him to a public hospital in Hebron.

They highlighted that settlers attacked the teenager violently and he was left bleeding all over his body.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

Aid group: Syrian children at risk of malnutrition


BEIRUT (AP) — As Syria’s civil war rages into its third year, millions of children in the country are at risk of malnutrition and face severe food shortages, an international aid organization has warned.

Save the Children said four million Syrians — more than half of them children — are unable to produce or buy enough food.

Thousands are trapped in battle zones in and around Syria’s major cities, such as Aleppo in the north and in the central city of Homs, cut off from access to all but the bare minimum foodstuffs needed to survive, the U.S.-based group said in a dramatic report released Monday.

Food shortages are compounded by an explosion in prices of basic staples, the group said, adding that one in 20 children in areas around the capital of Damascus is severely malnourished.

Ever since the conflict erupted in March 2011, leading aid groups have demanded that the warring sides — Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and the rebels fighting to overthrow his regime — enable access to civilians trapped in the fighting. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict and millions have been uprooted from their homes.

But their calls have consistently met obstacles.

“The world has stood and watched as the children of Syria have been shot, shelled and traumatized by the horror of war,” said Roger Hearn, Save the Children’s regional director for the Middle East. “The conflict has already left thousands of children dead, and is now threatening their means of staying alive.”

The United States and Russia brokered an agreement for Syria to give up its chemical weapons but U.N. diplomats say they are at odds on details of a Security Council resolution spelling out how it should be done and the possible consequences if Syria doesn’t comply.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday that U.N. chemical weapons inspectors would return to Syria as soon as Wednesday.

In Damascus, however, a government official said the issue of the inspectors’ return to Syria and its timing was “still under discussion.” The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

On their previous trip to the country, the U.N. team led by Swedish expert Ake Sellstrom complied a report that said nerve agent sarin was used in the Aug. 21 attack near Damascus. The U.S. and its allies say Assad’s regime was behind the attack, which according to Washington killed 1,400 people. Activist groups say the death toll was significantly lower, but still in the hundreds.

Damascus blames the rebels for the attack, and Russia, a close ally of Assad, said the U.N. report does not provide enough evidence to blame the Syrian government. It has also demanded that U.N. inspectors probe other attacks that allegedly included chemical agents.

“We are pleased that our call for U.N. inspectors to return to Syria to investigate other episodes has brought results,” Ryabkov told the Russian parliament Tuesday, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. He did not elaborate.

On Monday, the opposition Syrian National Coalition accused government forces of tightening their months-long siege in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, where the August attack took place.

“Assad’s forces are starving people to death in those areas,” the coalition claimed. “Famine looms in the horizon as more than two million people remain under siege.”

At the U.N., the head of the organization’s World Food Program demanded Monday that a potential cease-fire agreement include access for aid workers.

Ertharin Cousin told The Associated Press that an agreement, which will be discussed at the start of the annual U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, envisions a cessation of hostilities so chemical experts trying to bring Syria’s stockpile under international control can travel across the country, including to many conflict areas where WFP and other humanitarian workers have been unable to bring in desperately needed aid.

WFP is currently feeding 3 million people inside Syria and 1.2 million in neighboring countries. Cousin said the goal is to step up supplies so that 4 million internally displaced people and 1.5 million refugees are getting food by the end of October.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

5 injured in clashes in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Five Palestinians were injured on Tuesday in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem.

A Ma’an reporter said clashes started when Palestinians marched to protest a demonstration arranged by Israelis for the Sukkot holiday near Damascus Gate.

The area near the gate was declared a closed zone.

Five people were hit with stun grenade shrapnel, and two others were arrested.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

At Least 25 Palestinians Injured In Hebron

Tuesday evening [September 24, 2013] Palestinian medical sources have reported that at least 25 Palestinians have been injured during renewed clashes that took place in Bab Az-Zawiya and Shallala Street, in the center of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Hebron Clashes - File Palinfo
Hebron Clashes

Eyewitnesses said that the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades leading to more than 25 injuries.

They added that Palestinian security officers in the city tried to prevent dozens of residents from reaching the clashes area, but the residents pushed through.

Furthermore, several soldiers occupied rooftops of high buildings in the city, used them as monitoring towers, and fired rounds of live ammunition at the protesters.

In addition, clashes took place near the main entrance of the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, while the soldiers also installed several roadblocks in several areas in the city, and around it, closing the entrances of several villages and towns.

The soldiers stopped and searched hundreds of vehicles, and interrogated the residents, especially near Ath-Thaheriyya town, the main road leading to the Shajna Valley, Karma area, and the As-Sammoa’ village.

According to eyewitness accounts in the Al-Fawwar refugee camp, soldiers fired dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets, and gas bombs, at dozens of protesters in the area, while dozens of soldiers were deployed in Palestinian farmlands and streets in the area.

Israeli military sources said that the army is operating in the occupied city in an attempt to locate the Palestinian sharpshooter who shot and killed an Israeli soldier in the city on Sunday.

Following the fatal shooting of the soldiers, the army carried out a large search campaign, kidnapped dozens of residents, and interrogated them, before releasing some of them later on.

According to Israeli reports, the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) believes that the sharpshooter is still somewhere in Hebron, while Givati and Nahal units of the army are searching hundreds of homes in an attempt to locate him.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

World powers wrangle over Syria resolution at UN

Rebels secure a heavily damaged street in Deir Ezzor on Sept. 23, 2013 following fighting with government forces
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — US President Barack Obama demanded Tuesday the United Nations take tough action against Syria, as Russia wrangled with the West over how to strip Bashar Assad of his chemical arsenal.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the United Nations General Assembly leaders’ debate by calling on outside powers not to fuel the conflict, but Obama warned he remains ready to use force in Syria and the wider Middle East.

The annual summit of world powers came as Moscow signaled it may allow a US-Russian plan to collect and destroy Assad’s poison gas arsenal to be enshrined in international law.

But Russia remains strongly opposed to allowing the Security Council to bolster such a resolution by permitting member states to use sanctions or force to enforce the deal.

In his own UN speech, Obama warned the United States was ready to defend its interests in the Middle East, by ensuring oil supplies and eradicating weapons of mass destruction.

“The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure these core interests in the region,” he told world leaders.

And he insisted that the world’s credibility was at stake after Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons on his own people.

Russia and the United States have drawn up a draft plan to put Syrian chemical weapons under international control.

“There must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments, and there must be consequences if they fail to do so,” Obama said.

“If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the UN is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws.”

Obama criticized those, such as the Kremlin, which question whether Assad carried out the August 21 sarin attack near Damascus, which US intelligence says killed 1,400 people.

“It is an insult to human reason — and to the legitimacy of this institution — to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack,” Obama said.

The US leader was elected in part thanks to his track record as a critic of the Iraq war and has been reluctant to intervene in Syria, but was prodded to act by the Aug. 21 attack.

He threatened to launch a punitive strike on Assad’s regime — at one point last month US officials briefed reporters that the region was just days from a cruise missile strike.

But Russia stepped in with a plan for Assad to voluntarily surrender its arsenal, and Obama suspended the threat of strikes while the world waits to see if it will work.

In order to give the plan teeth, Western and Arab powers want a UN Security Council resolution to enshrine it in law.

Russia, however, is at loggerheads with US, French and British envoys over the wording of the draft — refusing to allow anything that would permit a recourse to force or sanctions.

On Tuesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stressed that Chapter VII of the UN Charter could be invoked only if the accord is violated by either side in the Syrian conflict.

Chapter VII of the UN charter has dozens of articles, and Western negotiators are not yet seeking to invoke Article 42, which permits military action.

Russia opposes any suggestion of sanctions under Chapter VII.

“There can be no discussing the adoption of a resolution under Chapter VII about the automatic implementation of sanctions or, all the more, the use of force,” Ryabkov told the State Duma lower house of parliament.

He emphasized that the resolution should be aimed at bolstering the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees the treaty banning such arms.

Ryabkov dubbed the threat of military action “illogical” and complained that “contacts with the Americans are, unfortunately, not going as smoothly as we would like.”

In his speech, Obama said the United States would provide another $340 million in humanitarian aid for the Syrian crisis, which has produced some two million refugees.

The State Department said the aid brings the US contribution to nearly $1.4 billion and includes support for food, clean water and shelter.

But the US and its Arab allies are also providing equipment for the Syrian rebels — just as Moscow remains Damascus’ main armorer.

Without singling countries out, Ban declared: “I appeal to all states to stop fuelling the bloodshed and to end the arms flows to all parties.”

The UN chief urged Assad, his opponents and “all those in this hall with influence over them” to press for a peace conference to end a war that has left more than 100,000 dead.

“I look forward to the imminent adoption of an enforceable Security Council resolution on chemical weapons,” Ban said.

“This should be followed immediately by humanitarian action,” he said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later in the day to discuss a UN resolution and the Russia-US disarmament plan.

French President Francois Hollande nevertheless insisted that any resolution needed to “foresee coercive measures” in order to ensure accountability.

Earlier, Ryabkov said he hoped the resolution could be agreed next week, although there was no “100 percent guarantee”.

Ryabkov expressed satisfaction that UN chemical weapons experts would return to Damascus “tomorrow, Sept. 25” to investigate the Aug. 21.

(Source / 24.09.2013)

Palestinian Resistance: The Political, Social and Human Right of Self-​Defense


Once again the bombs are fall­ing on the Gaza Strip, a stretch of ter­rit­ory excised from Palestine proper as a res­ult of con­tinu­ing illegal and ille­git­im­ate actions by Israel. In fact, Gaza has become a closed ghetto, first cut off from Palestine in viol­a­tion of the par­ti­tion plans and polit­ical pro­grams and then turned into a sealed ghetto, fol­low­ing the demo­cratic elec­tions which brought the Islamic Res­ist­ance Party ­­— Hamas — into power. Cat­egor­ized as a ter­ror­ist organ­iz­a­tion in the United States, with some of its lead­ing sup­port­ers there imprisoned for over twenty years for send­ing human­it­arian aid to Palestini­ans in Gaza, it can come as no sur­prise that the Israeli and West­ern media accuse Hamas for attack­ing Israel with rock­ets, rather than report­ing that Hamas sent off the rock­ets as a response to an Israeli attack!

This method of report­ing is part of con­tin­ued efforts of de-​legitimization of the Palestinian struggle for free­dom from the yoke of Zion­ist gen­o­cidal oppres­sion and viol­ence. Fur­ther­more, the con­dem­na­tions have not been accom­pan­ied by ref­er­ence to the his­tor­ical record: that the Zion­ist war, both cold and hot, against the Palestini­ans has not stopped for even one day since 1948, and that it went into relent­less high gear since 1967 and con­tin­ues unabated. This con­tinu­ous aggres­sion — admin­is­trat­ive and mil­it­ary — is never brought into the West­ern vis­ion or under­stand­ing, although a quick per­usal of the web­sites of thePalestine Cen­ter for Human Rights loc­ated in Gaza City, Mah­som Watch and Betselemprovide chilling and detailed inform­a­tion of this con­tinu­ing quo­tidian warfare.

For any­one who has not suc­cumbed to Zion­ist pro­pa­ganda, it is a known fact that when rock­ets are fired from Gaza it is always in response to an Israeli attack, espe­cially when this attack is a blatant and poin­ted act of viol­ence given high vis­ib­il­ity by the Israelis. Although Israel had begun pound­ing Gaza on 13 Novem­ber 2012, which appar­ently led to a truce agree­ment being for­mu­lated, the assas­sin­a­tion of Ahmed Jabari on 14 Novem­ber 2012, the head of the Palestinian res­ist­ance forces, was executed in order to jus­tify full-​scale Israeli war­fare. High vis­ib­il­ity in this case was the cre­ation of a video of the event uploaded on the web­sites of the Israeli news out­lets so that the view­ers could enjoy a repeat per­form­ance! The reason for this latest attack is given on the Israel Defense Forces [sic] web blog:

On Novem­ber 14, the IDF embarked on Oper­a­tion Pil­lar of Defense[sic], meant to defend Israel’s civil­ians from the incess­ant rocket fire they’ve suffered dur­ing the past 12 years, and cripple the ter­ror organ­iz­a­tions in the Gaza Strip.

Their Eng­lish trans­la­tion of the name of the mil­it­ary oper­a­tion is inac­cur­ate, and I sus­pect that this is delib­er­ate. The name in Hebrew is ‘Amud Ashan —  Pil­lar of Smoke — a meta­phor cre­ated to eli­cit delib­er­ate com­par­ison in the Israeli mind with the pil­lar of fire and the pil­lar of clouds from the bib­lical story of the Exodus accord­ing to which God led the Chil­dren of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt on their jour­ney to free­dom in the Prom­ised Land! Of neces­sity, this name and this image brings about an inver­sion of the roles of the Israelis and the Palestini­ans: the Israeli aggressor once again becomes the per­se­cuted vic­tim, as per the Exodus story, while the Palestini­ans, immob­il­ized and strangled in the ghetto-​prison of Gaza, enclosed within elec­tri­fied walls and fences, are trans­mog­ri­fied into the pharaonic ter­ror­ists relent­lessly and heart­lessly per­se­cut­ing the inno­cent Israeli vic­tims. This inver­sion involves more than labels: besides invert­ing the moral order and the facts of real­ity, it serves, once again, to rein­force the image of the Palestinian as enemy, as demon, as sub-​human, an entity not entitled to any respect or con­sid­er­a­tion! It is a tried and tested for­mula for dis­tract­ing atten­tion and blame from the real per­pet­rat­ors of death and destruc­tion on to the vic­tims of those acts of aggressions.

Polit­ical assas­sin­a­tion is the spe­cialty du jour of Israel, a praxis adop­ted whole­heartedly by Pres­id­ent Obama and his own per­sonal drone “kill list”. Using murder to delib­er­ately under­mine the polit­ical ech­elon in the hope of weak­en­ing it with respect to the pos­sib­il­ity of polit­ical recu­per­a­tion after a war is an act which viol­ates the third prin­ciple of legit­im­acy of the laws of war — the prin­ciple of chiv­alry — a prin­ciple recog­niz­ing the human­ity of the enemy. The enemy must be treated with respect in order for nor­mal social life to be com­menced or resumed at the end of hostilities.

Clause­witz’ aph­or­ism — that war is a con­tinu­ation of polit­ics — is not descript­ive but pre­script­ive. Nego­ti­ations lead­ing to peace must be the pur­pose of a legit­im­ate war of defense. It is in this light that one should under­stand the inform­a­tion released by Ger­s­hon Baskin, an Israeli polit­ical act­iv­ist, that the Palestinian lead­er­ship in Gaza, includ­ing Ahmed Jabari, had received a draft for a truce agree­ment just hours before his assas­sin­a­tion. It is there­fore obvi­ous that the assas­sin­a­tion was executed for the spe­cific pur­pose of pre­vent­ing such a truce. What this indic­ates, at the very least, is flag­rant bad faith on the part of the Israelis, but more import­antly, it is another instance of pro­voc­at­ive treach­ery, a sub­ject which deserves a sep­ar­ate ana­lysis.

The right to pro­tect human life is abso­lute, even if the means used are con­di­tioned. There­fore, accord­ing to all human norms, nat­ural law, legal norms and inter­na­tional law and jur­is­pru­dence, the Palestini­ans have a legit­im­ate right of response. It must be remembered how­ever, that the Palestini­ans have been denied a state and an accom­pa­ny­ing army by Israel and the United States. There­fore the response avail­able to the Palestini­ans in Gaza is extremely lim­ited and is con­fined to rock­ets fired into Israel. These rock­ets are prim­it­ive weapons and not extremely accur­ate which is why they have been defined as fire­works. But that is all that the Palestini­ans have for their defense. This response is the only avenue open for a soci­ety under mil­it­ary attack to try and force the ces­sa­tion of such an attack when the aggressor will not nego­ti­ate with you in good faith.

The Israelis are proud of the fact that their army is the fourth largest in the world, and as far as they are con­cerned, also the best, the most effect­ive and the most moral! Because of the expo­nen­tially huge dis­pro­por­tion in power between Israel and the Palestini­ans, the Palestini­ans simply can­not afford to react to each and every attack against them. They have to care­fully and pruden­tially weigh their pos­sib­il­it­ies of response which is the reason why the Israelis never have to cease their relent­less attacks of vary­ing intens­ity. But it is also the dis­pro­por­tion­ate attacks by the Israeli army that viol­ate the prin­ciple of pro­por­tion­al­ity under­ly­ing legit­im­ate warfare.

The Right of Res­ist­ance is the Right of Self-​Defense

It can be argued cogently that since the right to self-​determination was delib­er­ately and expli­citly denied the Palestinian people fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the Otto­man Empire, with no right or jus­ti­fic­a­tion what­so­ever in the cir­cum­stances, the Palestini­ans are still entitled to demand and fight for such rights. (see endnote).

Instead of free­dom, they were faced with a real­ity of the col­on­iz­a­tion of Palestine by for­eign­ers against the wishes of the local pop­u­la­tion, a col­on­iz­a­tion which ulti­mately led to an expul­sion of nearly 90% of the indi­gen­ous Palestinian pop­u­la­tion cre­at­ing a long-​festering and long-​suffering Palestinian refugee prob­lem. A struggle for self-​determination is legit­im­ate in inter­na­tional law, as it expresses a struggle for free­dom, the basic qual­ity of life neces­sary in order for human beings to be able to ful­fill their poten­tial as indi­vidual per­sons and as social beings. Those who deny such self-​determination are guilty of viol­at­ing that same inter­na­tional law. That this denial of such a right is the case with respect to Palestini­ans can be found in sev­eral let­ters of cor­res­pond­ence of Brit­ish min­is­ters. In a let­ter to the Prime Min­is­ter by Lord Arthur Balfour dated 19th Feb­ru­ary [1919 LB] he states:

… The weak point of our pos­i­tion of course is that in the case of Palestine we delib­er­ately and rightly [sic LB] decline to accept the prin­ciple of self-​determination. If the present inhab­it­ants were con­sul­ted they would unques­tion­ably give an anti-​Jewish ver­dict. Our jus­ti­fic­a­tion for our policy is that we regard Palestine as being abso­lutely excep­tional; that we con­sider the ques­tion of the Jews out­side Palestine as one of world import­ance and that we con­ceive the Jews to have an his­toric claim to a home in their ancient land; provided that home can be given them without either dis­pos­sess­ing or oppress­ing the present inhabitants…

In a later memor­andum addressed to Lord Curzon by Lord Balfour on 11 August 1919 a sim­ilar notion is repeated:

… The con­tra­dic­tion between the let­ters of the Cov­en­ant [League of Nations Cov­en­ant LB] and the Policy of the Allies is even more flag­rant in the case of the ‘inde­pend­ent nation’ of Palestine than in that of the ‘inde­pend­ent nation’ of Syria. For in Palestine we do not pro­pose even to go through the form of con­sult­ing the wishes of the present inhab­it­ants of the coun­try, though the Amer­ican Com­mis­sion has been going through the form of ask­ing what they are.

The Four Great Powers are com­mit­ted to Zion­ism. And Zion­ism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-​long tra­di­tions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far pro­founder import than the desires and pre­ju­dices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.

In my opin­ion that is right. What I have never been able to under­stand is how it can be har­mon­ized with the declar­a­tion [Anglo-​French of Novem­ber 1918], the Cov­en­ant or the instruc­tions to the Com­mis­sion of Enquiry.

I do not think that Zion­ism will hurt the Arabs, but they will never say they want it. Whatever be the future of Palestine it is not now an ‘inde­pend­ent nation,’ nor is it yet on the way to become one. Whatever defer­ence should be paid to the views of those liv­ing there, the Powers in their selec­tion of a man­dat­ory do not pro­pose, as I under­stand the mat­ter, to con­sult them. In short, so far as Palestine is con­cerned, the Powers have made no declar­a­tion of policy which, at least in the let­ter, they have not always inten­ded to violate…

(Doreen Ingrams, Palestine Papers 1917 – 1922 Seeds of Con­flict [Lon­don 1972] pp. 61 and 73).

Des­pite the Great Powers flag­rant denial of Palestinian rights at the time, such denial did not and does not give rise to either their loss or their fall­ing into desu­et­ude. As long as a people wish to real­ize such rights, they have the right to demand their real­iz­a­tion. The Palestini­ans never relin­quished these rights, although they have made innu­mer­able attempts to reach a modus vivendi with the Zion­ist state. Their accom­mod­a­tion has been rejec­ted for the very reason that a com­prom­ise and shared con­domin­ium in Palestine is not part of the Zion­ist pro­gram and never was.

We could there­fore come to the fol­low­ing con­clu­sion at this point. The Palestini­ans have the right to res­ist on sev­eral grounds. Firstly in response to the Israeli pro­voca­tion in the form of the assas­sin­a­tion of Ahmed Jabari . (We can ima­gine an Israeli response to an assas­sin­a­tion of Ehud Barak or any other min­is­ter). Secondly they have the right of res­ist­ance to the actual dec­ades long Israeli gen­o­cidal con­trol over Gaza which is bring­ing about the actual phys­ical demise of the pop­u­la­tion which exhib­its a gen­eral level of ill-​health attrib­ut­able dir­ectly to the Israeli strangle­hold over the ter­rit­ory. Thirdly, they have the right of res­ist­ance against the con­tinu­ing incur­sions, raids, arrests, impris­on­ments, and sup­pres­sion of eco­nomic activ­ity in the West Bank/​East Jer­u­s­alem. And fourthly, the actual fact of their being for­cibly denied their polit­ical rights jus­ti­fies resistance.

So why are the Palestini­ans in gen­eral, and Hamas in par­tic­u­lar, depic­ted as Terrorists?

The term ‘ter­ror­ist’ is not a legal term and has no legal ref­er­ence. It has been man­u­fac­tured in order to bypass the lim­it­a­tions that inter­na­tional law imposes with respect to the man­ner of deal­ing with an adversary. It is used to demon­ize those people who do not agree with the US/​Israel/​European hege­monic demand and rule of the world and it is espe­cially used in order to deny such people the right of res­ist­ance, the right to struggle as free­dom fight­ers. It is this ter­min­o­logy which has cre­ated such con­fu­sion and dis­crep­ancy in the gen­eral public’s under­stand­ing with respect to the real­ity in Palestine and the actual state of affairs that pre­vails there. But we may ask the fur­ther ques­tion as to why Palestini­ans are seen in the West as “ter­ror­ists” and intransigent mur­der­ers, a people who under­stand only viol­ence and not peace.

In order to under­stand this conun­drum, it is neces­sary to under­stand the nature of Amer­ican soci­ety in par­tic­u­lar, and its mech­an­isms of con­trol. The United States is a cap­it­al­ist soci­ety in which power is exer­cised by the financial-​media-​military-​industrial com­plex. A main source of cap­it­al­ist exploit­a­tion is the oil depos­its in the Middle East, its refine­ment and dis­tri­bu­tion to the rest of the world. It is a sine qua non for the con­trolling cap­it­al­ist elite that it con­trols these resources and their dis­pos­i­tion. Such con­trol is not in the interests of the local pop­u­la­tions of the ter­rit­or­ies in which the oil is depos­ited, who are nearly all Muslims.

In order to min­im­ize, if not elim­in­ate, the crit­ics and cri­tiques of cap­it­al­ist exploit­a­tion, the United States uses the media to manip­u­late the minds of its pop­u­la­tion, as Pro­fess­ors Noam Chom­sky and Edward Her­man explained in their book Man­u­fac­tur­ing Con­sent. How­ever, since the second Bush admin­is­tra­tion, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secur­ity (DHS) — a title straight out of George Orwell’s 1984 — was formed to exer­cise fur­ther con­trol over the pop­u­la­tion through the use of poli­cing power. The events of 9/​11 have been exploited expo­nen­tially by both the media and the DHS towards the demon­iz­a­tion of Islam and Muslims, and Palestini­ans auto­mat­ic­ally fall into this cat­egory. All are deemed to be ter­ror­ists or poten­tial ter­ror­ists, and there­fore they are, by defin­i­tion, the enemy. The level of pro­pa­ganda gen­er­ated by the media branch of this com­plex, to which the pop­u­la­tions in the West are sub­ject, in par­tic­u­lar in the United States and Israel, has brain­washed the pop­u­la­tion into an auto­matic neg­at­ive response to all Muslims, Palestini­ans included.

The Muslims as ter­ror­ist, Islam as a reli­gion of viol­ence and hatred, the Jew as eternal vic­tim, the Holo­caust as a unique his­tor­ical event, the unique­ness of which is echoed in the polit­ical mani­festo of ‘mani­fest des­tiny’ and ‘excep­tion­al­ism’ of the United States of Amer­ica, the ‘good guys” of World Wars I and II, con­sti­tutes the cur­rent pro­pa­ganda pas­tiche determ­in­ing the lim­its of polit­ic­ally cor­rect dis­course. Any cri­ti­cism against Israel is auto­mat­ic­ally trans­lated into anti-​Semitism and cri­ti­cism of the United States is unpat­ri­otic or even treason.

The Palestinian polit­ical party of Hamas is on the ter­ror­ist list in the US and sev­eral Muslims have been con­victed and imprisoned for exten­ded peri­ods, in one case for more than twenty years, for the crime of aid­ing and abet­ting ter­ror­ists by send­ing human­it­arian aid to Palestine. Israel has never ceased to refer to Palestini­ans as ter­ror­ists and treats them as such accord­ingly. As men­tioned earlier, it has broken and/​or under­mined all its agree­ments with the Palestini­ans, the most egre­gious viol­a­tion being the con­tinu­ation of the build­ing of Jew­ish set­tle­ments in the West Bank conquered in 1967, becom­ing a col­on­iz­ing power, which is in dir­ect viol­a­tion of inter­na­tional law. In addi­tion, Israel has viol­ated all United Nations Res­ol­u­tions but is pro­tec­ted by the US veto, thus provid­ing it with a long leash to do what it wants in Palestine. The real­ity of Israeli force, the real­ity of its illeg­al­it­ies con­sti­tutes a viol­a­tion of both the moral and the legal order. It is known by both Israel and the US and there­fore there is such vicious con­tinu­ing pro­pa­ganda against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians.

There can be little doubt that there is no easy solu­tion for the Palestini­ans. Des­pite their rights de iure as well as de facto and their legit­im­ate res­ist­ance and struggle and the use of weapons that do not come up to the min­imum stand­ards of a mod­ern army, it is only the vic­tim­ized people of the world who under­stand their plight together with those com­ing from the West who are termed rad­ic­als. At this junc­ture in his­tory the people have no power, but it behooves us to con­tinue the struggle for free­dom and justice in any way we can, without des­troy­ing the planet, as our friends the cap­it­al­ists are doing. If, how­ever, there is one iron law of life and exist­ence, which must sus­tain our hope and energy, it is that all insti­tu­tions, all powers, ulti­mately col­lapse because everything is chan­ging and tem­por­ary in our con­tin­gent world. Situ­ations can­not help but change. When such a change comes in the dis­tri­bu­tion of power, we should be ready to insti­tute a reign of justice and peace for the well-​being of all of mankind.

End note

The entire enter­prise of a Jew­ish state in Palestine is built upon an express rejec­tion of inter­na­tional law.

The only legit­im­ate grounds for polit­ical sov­er­eignty of an indi­gen­ous people are the laws ofius soli or ius san­guine as recog­nized in inter­na­tional law, which trans­lates into a right of sov­er­eignty based upon hab­it­a­tion in a par­tic­u­lar ter­rit­ory or being a des­cend­ent of someone in a par­tic­u­lar ter­rit­ory. The third option grant­ing a right to sov­er­eignty would be the dis­cov­ery of a terra nul­lius that is an unin­hab­ited ter­rit­ory. Palestine was never a terra nul­lius, and its inhab­it­ants were entitled to a sov­er­eign state in Palestine as part of Greater Syria, if they so chose, accord­ing to the ius soli fol­low­ing the demise of the Otto­man Empire at the end of World War I in 1917 and 1918. If their chil­dren were out of the coun­try at the time of its estab­lish­ment at a par­tic­u­lar time, then they would be gran­ted cit­izen­ship on the grounds of the ius san­guine if they had not been born in Palestine or Greater Syria.

European Jewry did not ful­fill either of these qual­i­fic­a­tions in 1917, when the Balfour Declar­a­tion, a doc­u­ment pre­pared by inter­na­tional Jew­ish lead­er­ship, and addressed by Lord Arthur Balfour, the United Kingdom’s For­eign sec­ret­ary at the time, to Lord Wal­ter Roth­schild, a scion of the lead­ing Jew­ish bank­ing fam­ily in the world, res­id­ent in Eng­land, was writ­ten sup­port­ing a Jew­ish home­land [sic] in Palestine.

The carving up of his­tor­ical Palestine to excise the bulk of its ter­rit­ory for an impor­ted unequi­voc­ally for­eign pop­u­la­tion at the expense of the indi­gen­ous soci­ety was recog­nized not to be a polit­ic­ally legit­im­ate action. Its destruct­ive con­sequences should have been obvi­ous a pri­ori,and his­tory has proved such expect­a­tion accur­ate. Such an excision has harmed the indi­gen­ous pop­u­la­tion in every and all aspects of its life: polit­ical, eco­nomic, social, edu­ca­tional, cul­tural, reli­gious, his­tor­ical and geo­graph­ical. The destruc­tion of Palestine, the expul­sion of the over­whelm­ing major­ity of its pop­u­la­tion and the delib­er­ate and con­tinu­ing gen­o­cidal attacks on the remain­ing pop­u­la­tion liv­ing under Jew­ish con­quest, only high­lights the ille­git­im­acy of the Jew­ish pres­ence and its con­tinu­ing aggres­sion against the Palestinians.

(Source / 24.09.2013)