Israeli plan for Jewish Negev town ‘racist’

JERUSALEM (AFP) — An Israeli human rights organization on Monday accused the government of promoting “racist” policies in its decision to establish a Jewish town in the place of a Bedouin village.

The cabinet on Sunday approved the establishment of “two new communities in the Negev” in southern Israel, naming them as Kesif and Hiran.

But according to Suhad Bishara, director of the land and planning unit at Israeli Arab rights group Adalah, “in order to build Hiran it will accelerate the demolition of the unrecognised Umm el-Hieran village in the Negev and evict its residents.”

Bishara said this reflected a “racist policy,” noting “it is a residential area but the state is telling the Bedouins that they are unfit for this land and will bring in Jewish residents instead.”

She said the government had previously announced its intention to evict the Bedouin and build a town at the site in 2002, a decision being challenged in court with a hearing scheduled for Nov. 20.

Bishara charged that establishing new Jewish towns in the Negev while evicting the incumbent Bedouin residents showed that the government was motivated primarily by “racist policies” against Arab Bedouin citizens.

She called on the authorities to engage in dialogue.

The Israeli housing and construction ministry, which is responsible for implementing the programme, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

A bill calling for the relocation of 30,000-40,000 Bedouin, the demolition of about 40 villages and confiscation of more than 700,000 dunams of Negev land was approved by the government in January and by parliament in a first reading in June.

But it has to pass two more readings in parliament before becoming law.

(Source / 11.11.2013)

RoR conference in final statement: No substitute homeland for Palestinians



AMMAN, (PIC)– The second conference on the Palestinian refugees right of return (RoR) held in Amman, Jordan, has declared that there will be no substitute homeland for the Palestinian people.

The conference issued a final statement on Sunday evening lashing out at all agreements and initiatives that infringed or might infringe on the right of return.

The statement called for confronting Israeli attempts to enforce more Palestinian emigration out of the homeland.

It defended the Palestinian people’s right to resist occupation of their land and called for supporting them in protecting the Aqsa Mosque and all Islamic and Christian holy shrines in occupied Jerusalem.

The statement asked all Palestinian factions to shun differences and to unite on one national program that adopts resistance.

The statement finally called for providing Palestinian refugees in all host countries with their basic civil and humanitarian rights.

The second Conference of Return was organized by the Jordanian Engineers Association in cooperation with the Jordanian Society for the return of refugees

(Source / 11.11.2013)

Massive ‘Question of Palestine’ mural unveiled in Nablus

NABLUS (Ma’an) – A giant mural measuring about 1,000 square meters was unveiled in Nablus in the northern West Bank Monday. Gov.

Jibril al-Bakri inaugurated the piece of art, which was painted on the outer wall of Nablus stadium and represents main landmarks in the history of the question of Palestine.

Majdi Muhsin, spokesman of “Athens”, the group which produced the mural, told Ma’an that it was the biggest in the Arab world, and the fourth biggest in the world. He highlighted that it measured 130 by 7 meters.

Muhsin added that 25 Palestinian artists had been working on the painting for over a month. The complete version, he said, will be ready in two weeks. He highlighted that the team included painters from Jerusalem.

The overall cost of the project including the official inauguration ceremony will reach about 250,000 shekels (about $70,000), according to the group’s spokesperson. Local donors covered all costs, he added.

Suha Jarrar, one of the painters working on the mural, says she and other painters have been working on the painting on a daily basis for as much as eight hours a day in the afternoon.

Jarrar is a teacher at a public school and she has been working on the mural after work.

“This is a distinguished nationalistic project, and for that reason I have been working hard on it. It embodies the history of the question of Palestine and Palestinian women. It is simply a story of a nation.”

The project’s coordinator Wael Dweikat confirmed that the project was not completed, but the group decided to unveil it Monday commemorating the ninth anniversary of late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat’s death.

The section related to Arafat has been completed, he added.

The mural, according to Dweikat, represents the history of the question of Palestine including revolution, Nakba, prisoners and martyrs.

(Source / 11.11.2013)

Fact Sheet – Syrian National Coalition

Syrian National Coalition

Mission of the Syrian Coalition

  1. The mission of the Syrian Coalition is to support the Syrian people who are struggling to change their country into a democratic, inclusive and pluralistic civil state.
  2. To fulfill that mission, we work to achieve five core goals, as outlined in our declaration of principles:
    • to bring an end to all violence in Syria;
    • to ensure a lawful, inclusive and democratic political transition;
    • to maintain the continuity and preservation of functional state institutions and structures within a democratic and rule-of-law abiding state;
    • to ensure the unity of the Syrian people and territorial integrity and sovereignty of our state;
    • to bring all those responsible for war crimes to account in accordance with international law.
  3. The Coalition fulfills this mission by voicing the concerns and aspirations of the Syrian people and by intensifying pressure on the international community to provide assistance on their behalf.

About the Syrian Coalition

  1. The Syrian Coalition was formed in November 2012. It brings together the main Syrian opposition groups committed to ending the Syrian conflict and assisting Syria’s democratic transition.
  2. The Coalition reflects the ethnic and religious diversity that is a fundamental part of Syrian heritage. Coalition members include Shia and Sunni Muslims, Alawites, Christians, Kurds, Druze, Armenians, Assyrians, and Circassians.
  3. Coalition headquarters are based in Cairo, Egypt. We also have offices in France, Germany, Qatar, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  4. The Coalition is comprised of a 114-member Parliamentary Assembly led by President Ahmad al-Jarba, Vice Presidents Suheir Atassi, Salem Maslat and Mohamed Tayfur, as well as Secretary-General Bader Jamous.
  5. Members of the Coalition’s Parliamentary Assembly include all major groups and individuals committed to a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic Syria, such as the Supreme Military Council representing the Free Syrian Army, Syrian National Council, the Democratic Bloc, the Revolutionary Movement, Syrian Revolution General Commission, Local Coordination Committees of Syria, and the Local Administrative Councils of Syria. We welcome everyone who is committed to the realization of a democratic Syria.
  6. The Coalition is recognized as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people by 120 states and organizations. This includes the United States, the European Union, the Arab League, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.


  • The Coalition is united by three core principles: inclusivity, accountability and consensus. These principles will guide the transition process as well as the formation of an interim government.

Political Solution

  1. The Coalition’s vision is that of a democratic Syria free from Assad’s tyranny. The Coalition fully supports all political initiatives to end the conflict in Syria that will enable a democratic transition process to begin, as outlined in our framework for future political solutions.
  2. The Coalition is committed to a political solution to the Syrian conflict built on the transition processes outlined in the Geneva Communiqué of June 2012, which stipulates that any future transitional governing body must be decided on the basis of mutual consent between parties to the conflict.
  3. As Coalition President Ahmad al-Assi stated upon assuming office in July 2013, the Coalition will participate in the proposed Geneva II conference when the military balance has changed and the regime has demonstrated a willingness to transfer power to a transitional government with full executive powers.

The Interim Government

  1. To ensure the continuation of public services, legal duties, and basic services in liberated territories, the Coalition will form an interim government to serve as a temporary executive branch.
  2. The Coalition plans to announce 11 ministers and 3 commissions as part of this administration. Each Ministry will have a 50 member team based in Syria’s liberated territories.
  3. The interim government will be dissolved with the appointment of a democratic transitional government.

The Transitional Government

  1. As was outlined in the Geneva Communiqué, the Coalition expects any negotiation aimed at ending the Syrian conflict to discuss the establishment of a transitional government with “full executive powers”.
  2. Once a transitional government is formed, it will need to convene a national dialogue to formulate a new Syrian constitution, on the basis of which Syria should hold its first free and democratic elections.

The Free Syrian Army

  1. The Coalition works to prevent the destruction of Syria through the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The FSA is committed to ensuring the protection of civilians and their legitimate right to self-defense, in conformity with international law.
  2. To systematize collaboration among its units, in December the FSA founded the Supreme Joint Military Command Council, a 30-member command structure that coordinates FSA operations and strategic planning. The Supreme Military Council is led by Chief of Staff, Salim Idriss, and will be under the command of a civil ministry, pending the formation of the Coalition’s interim government.
  3. The FSA acts in accordance with international law. It holds its members accountable for any violations of such law.
  4. The FSA rejects all acts of extremism committed by terrorist groups. It condemns the use of chemical weapons, as stipulated in its Proclamation of Principles. The FSA welcomes all UN investigations into the use of such weapons.

(Source / 11.11.2013)

A Statement by the Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly

Press Statement
Syrian Coalition
Istanbul, Turkey
November 11, 2013

The General Assembly of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (GA) convened in Istanbul on November 9-11 to discuss, amongst other issues, the participation in “Geneva II” conference.

The GA endorsed the Syrian Coalition’s readiness to participate in a Geneva conference based on the transfer of power to a transitional governing body (TGB). This body should include full executive powers including presidential powers with control over military and security apparatus.  Furthermore, the Assad Regime and those associated with him will have no role in the transitional period and future Syria.

The Syrian Coalition stipulates that prior to the conference access for relief convoys, including the Red Cross and the Red Crescent IFRC and other international relief agencies, to all besieged areas must be ensured, and prisoners, especially women and children, must be released.

The Syrian Coalition stresses that in any international conference aimed to achieve a political transition, the Assad regime should commit to resolutions and principles set out by the international community, primarily the UN Resolution No. 67/262, May 15, 2013, the UNSC Resolution No. 2118, September 27, 2013, the UNSC presidential statement No. 739, October 02, 2013, the London 11 final communiqué, October 22, 2013, and the Arab League Resolution No. 7716, November 04, 2013.

Furthermore, the GA has commissioned a committee of members from the Syrian Coalition to hold necessary consultations and liaise with the Revolutionary Forces inside and outside Syria.

(Source / 11.11.2013)

We willen het niet weten

By Engelbert Luitsz                   ©                  (


Het plezier van de jacht.

Het is niet altijd makkelijk een onderwerp te kiezen. Er gebeurt zoveel dat het je soms doet duizelen. Daarom deze keer maar een paar losse feitjes over de zionistische terreur die niet alleen Palestina, maar het gehele Midden-Oosten bedreigt. En daarmee de rest van de wereld.

Het Suezkanaal, de oorzaak van Israël

De Suezcrisis van 1956 was een van de vele doortrapte pogingen van Israël om z’n invloed over de regio uit te breiden. Er werd een afspraak gemaakt dat Israël Egypte zou aanvallen, waarna Frankrijk en Engeland “tussenbeide” zouden komen. Uiteraard betekende dat een aanval op Egypte door drie landen. Deze geheime afspraak schoot bij de president van de Verenigde Staten, Eisenhower, in het verkeerde keelgat. Eisenhower was de laatste Amerikaanse president die openlijk het zionisme aanviel, maar, zoals we nu weten, tevergeefs. In de deal, waarbij Israël de rol van agressor op zich zou nemen, zorgde de bij ons onlangs nog bejubelde Shimon Peres voor de Franse belofte dat zij een kleine kerncentrale zouden leveren. Dat was het begin van het Israëlische atoomprogramma. De gevolgen daarvan zijn nog niet te overzien, maar de huidige reactie van premier Netanyahu op de besprekingen in Genève, waarbij de Verenigde Staten proberen tot een vreedzame oplossing met Iran te komen, is ronduit griezelig.


Er is op dit moment geen sprake meer van “dubbele loyaliteit” waar Eisenhower het over had. De Amerikaanse joden die onderdeel uitmaken van de zionistische lobby staan pal achter Israël en dat zien we ook bij het CIDI of Likoed Nederland alhier. Het land waar ze wonen is van ondergeschikt belang. Alle energie gaat naar het goedpraten van de zionistische misdaden en het verdacht maken van elke vorm van kritiek, zoals Tom Struick van Bemmelen onlangs nog mooi aantoonde. Daarbij krijgen ze steun van Nederlandse godsdienstwaanzinnigen als Joël Voordewind, die maar al te graag liegt als het om Israël gaat. In de Verenigde Staten wordt dat perverse verlangen naar het Laatste Oordeel gesteund door tientallen miljoenen evangelische christenen. Hun profeet, John Hagee, schijnt wel 100 miljoen Amerikanen te bereiken met zijn boeken en televisie-uitzendingen. Kennelijk kan het ze niets schelen dat zij slechts “nuttige idioten” zijn in het zionistische plan. Hun geld is welkom, maar hun aanwezigheid in Israël zal niet worden getolereerd.

Prawer Plan

Het Prawer Plan voorziet in het etnisch zuiveren van Bedoeïenen in de Negev-woestijn. Dit zou tot 100.000 mensen kunnen treffen. Israël wil daar een hightech campus gaan bouwen en de grootste legerbasis voor de IDF (het Israëlische leger). De mensen die niet passen in dat plan en ook nog eens niet joods zijn worden daar het slachtoffer van.


Zionisten beperken zich niet tot het kalken van racistische graffiti op muren. Vandaag werden een school en een kleuterschool beschoten met traangas door het Israëlische leger in Beit Ommar, ten noorden van Hebron. Terreur zaaien is het enige dat ze nog kunnen doen bij gebrek aan gewapend verzet. Ook werden er vandaag weer een aantal tieners gearresteerd in de buurt van Nablus. Samen met de dagelijkse nachtelijke raids heeft dit als doel de gehele Palestijnse bevolking angst aan te jagen, zodat ze zelf zullen vertrekken.

Een van de sterkste legers ter wereld is bijna fulltime bezig met oppakken en terroriseren van kinderen. En Europa laat het allemaal gebeuren.


Kritiek de mond snoeren

Ben White is een Britse schrijver die twee compacte boekjes over Israël heeft geschreven. ZowelIsraeli Apartheid, A Beginner’s Guide als Palestinians in Israel, Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy is een aanrader voor wie snel inzicht wil krijgen in wat er nu eigenlijk gebeurt in dat land. De medewerking van de NOS en onze kranten aan de propaganda die de zionisten verspreiden geeft een zeer verkeerd beeld van de werkelijke gebeurtenissen en intenties van het zionisme.

White begint aan een serie lezingen in Amerika en Canada en werd dus direct onder vuur genomen door de zionistische lobby. In het zionistische wereldbeeld geldt vrijheid van meningsuiting alleen voor mensen die het hartgrondig eens zijn met de fascistoïde praktijken van deze rampzalige ideologie.

De Britse filosoof Brian Klug werd scherp aangevallen toen hij werd uitgenodigd om te spreken tijdens een Kristallnachtherdenking in Berlijn. De kritiek was dat hij had beweerd dat zionisme het joden onmogelijk maakt een normale visie op hun eigen leven te hebben. Voor eenieder die daar van buitenaf naar kijkt is dat helemaal niet schokkend. Alle kleinzielige nationalistische bewegingen krijgen het voor elkaar hun onderdanen door middel van propaganda en selectief onderwijs een wereldbeeld aan te praten dat elk contact met de realiteit mist.

Klugs essay The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism uit 2004 is zeer de moeite waard. Ik ben het maar op één punt oneens, maar daar kom ik een andere keer wel op terug.


Er zijn minstens drie argumenten waarom de EU Israël nooit als “preferred partner” had moeten accepteren, los van de oorlogsmisdaden en het racisme.

  1. Israël weigert zijn grenzen vast te leggen.
  2. Israël weigert een grondwet aan te nemen.
  3. Israël weigert de Israëlische nationaliteit vast te stellen.

Nu Israël de illegale Apartheidsmuur schijnt aan te bieden als de grens voor een Palestijnse staat is het helemaal duidelijk. De muur zelf reduceert het Palestijnse grondgebied tot een aantal onmogelijke eilandjes en daarnaast wil Israël de controle houden over de Jordaanoever aan de andere kant. Maar het belangrijkste is wel dat Israël het niet over de eigen grenzen heeft, die blijven vaag. Zoals we de afgelopen 65 hebben gezien trekt Israël zich niets aan van wat anderen als hun grenzen beschouwen, het gaat om de gevaarlijke waanzin van een Groter Israël.


Groot Israël

Het Koenig Memorandum

In 1976 lekte er een rapport uit dat eigenlijk slechts een van de vele was in de geschiedenis van het zionisme, waarin de verdrijving van Palestijnen werd voorgesteld als een goede zaak. Een joodse samenleving zou niet kunnen bestaan zonder het uitbannen van elementen die het karakter van de staat zouden aantasten. Een visie die we nog steeds verwoord horen door premier Netanyahu en anderen in de Israëlische regering. Het Koenig Memorandum was echter publiek gemaakt door een krant, in tegenstelling tot de rapporten van zionistische organisaties.

Het rapport vertelde eigenlijk al in 1976 dat het “vredesproces” dat 15 jaar later zou beginnen niets anders was dan een farce. De plannen voor onteigening, discriminatie en zuivering lagen vast. Het ging er alleen nog maar om op welke manier de doelen bereikt zouden kunnen worden, zonder de steun van Europa en de Verenigde Staten te verliezen.


Met terugwerkende kracht zijn zoveel mensen verbaasd over wat er in de jaren dertig van de vorige eeuw kon gebeuren, zonder dat de bevolking in opstand kwam. Nu we het in real time voor onze ogen zien gebeuren is het niet anders. De mens leeft in het hier en nu. We hebben niets geleerd en zullen ook nooit iets leren van de geschiedenis. Het enige verschil met de jaren dertig is dat we nu zullen zeggen: Wir haben es gewusst. Maar so what?

Al Qaeda: The Database

Al Qaeda: The Database.

Global Research Editor’s Note

This article originally published by Global Research in 2005 sheds light on the nature of Al Qaeda, an intelligence construct used by Washington to destabilize and destroy sovereign countries, while sustaining the illusion of  an outside enemy, which threatens the security of the Western World.

*       *       *

Shortly before his untimely death, former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons that “Al Qaeda” is not really a terrorist group but a database of international mujaheddin and arms smugglers used by the CIA and Saudis to funnel guerrillas, arms, and money into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Courtesy of World Affairs, a journal based in New Delhi, WMR can bring you an important excerpt from an Apr.-Jun. 2004 article by Pierre-Henry Bunel, a former agent for French military intelligence.

“I first heard about Al-Qaida while I was attending the Command and Staff course in Jordan. I was a French officer at that time and the French Armed Forces had close contacts and cooperation with Jordan . . .

“Two of my Jordanian colleagues were experts in computers. They were air defense officers. Using computer science slang, they introduced a series of jokes about students’ punishment.

“For example, when one of us was late at the bus stop to leave the Staff College, the two officers used to tell us: ‘You’ll be noted in ‘Q eidat il-Maaloomaat’ which meant ‘You’ll be logged in the information database.’ Meaning ‘You will receive a warning . . .’ If the case was more severe, they would used to talk about ‘Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.’ Meaning ‘the decision database.’ It meant ‘you will be punished.’ For the worst cases they used to speak of logging in ‘Al Qaida.’

“In the early 1980s the Islamic Bank for Development, which is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, like the Permanent Secretariat of the Islamic Conference Organization, bought a new computerized system to cope with its accounting and communication requirements. At the time the system was more sophisticated than necessary for their actual needs.

“It was decided to use a part of the system’s memory to host the Islamic Conference’s database. It was possible for the countries attending to access the database by telephone: an Intranet, in modern language. The governments of the member-countries as well as some of their embassies in the world were connected to that network.

“[According to a Pakistani major] the database was divided into two parts, the information file where the participants in the meetings could pick up and send information they needed, and the decision file where the decisions made during the previous sessions were recorded and stored. In Arabic, the files were called, ‘Q eidat il-Maaloomaat’ and ‘Q eidat i-Taaleemaat.’ Those two files were kept in one file called in Arabic ‘Q eidat ilmu’ti’aat’ which is the exact translation of the English word database. But the Arabs commonly used the short word Al Qaida which is the Arabic word for “base.” The military air base of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is called ‘q eidat ‘riyadh al ‘askariya.’ Q eida means “a base” and “Al Qaida” means “the base.”

“In the mid-1980s, Al Qaida was a database located in computer and dedicated to the communications of the Islamic Conference’s secretariat.

“In the early 1990s, I was a military intelligence officer in the Headquarters of the French Rapid Action Force. Because of my skills in Arabic my job was also to translate a lot of faxes and letters seized or intercepted by our intelligence services . . . We often got intercepted material sent by Islamic networks operating from the UK or from Belgium.

“These documents contained directions sent to Islamic armed groups in Algeria or in France. The messages quoted the sources of statements to be exploited in the redaction of the tracts or leaflets, or to be introduced in video or tapes to be sent to the media. The most commonly quoted sources were the United Nations, the non-aligned countries, the UNHCR and . . . Al Qaida.

“Al Qaida remained the data base of the Islamic Conference. Not all member countries of the Islamic Conference are ‘rogue states’ and many Islamic groups could pick up information from the databases. It was but natural for Osama Bin Laden to be connected to this network. He is a member of an important family in the banking and business world.

“Because of the presence of ‘rogue states,’ it became easy for terrorist groups to use the email of the database. Hence, the email of Al Qaida was used, with some interface system, providing secrecy, for the families of the mujaheddin to keep links with their children undergoing training in Afghanistan, or in Libya or in the Beqaa valley, Lebanon. Or in action anywhere in the battlefields where the extremists sponsored by all the ‘rogue states’ used to fight. And the ‘rogue states’ included Saudi Arabia. When Osama bin Laden was an American agent in Afghanistan, the Al Qaida Intranet was a good communication system through coded or covert messages.

Meet “Al Qaeda”

“Al Qaida was neither a terrorist group nor Osama bin Laden’s personal property . . . The terrorist actions in Turkey in 2003 were carried out by Turks and the motives were local and not international, unified, or joint. These crimes put the Turkish government in a difficult position vis-a-vis the British and the Israelis. But the attacks certainly intended to ‘punish’ Prime Minister Erdogan for being a ‘toot tepid’ Islamic politician.

” . . . In the Third World the general opinion is that the countries using weapons of mass destruction for economic purposes in the service of imperialism are in fact ‘rogue states,” specially the US and other NATO countries.

” Some Islamic economic lobbies are conducting a war against the ‘liberal” economic lobbies. They use local terrorist groups claiming to act on behalf of Al Qaida. On the other hand, national armies invade independent countries under the aegis of the UN Security Council and carry out pre-emptive wars. And the real sponsors of these wars are not governments but the lobbies concealed behind them.

“The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the ‘devil’ only in order to drive the ‘TV watcher’ to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money.”

In yet another example of what happens to those who challenge the system, in December 2001, Maj. Pierre-Henri Bunel was convicted by a secret French military court of passing classified documents that identified potential NATO bombing targets in Serbia to a Serbian agent during the Kosovo war in 1998. Bunel’s case was transferred from a civilian court to keep the details of the case classified. Bunel’s character witnesses and psychologists notwithstanding, the system “got him” for telling the truth about Al Qaeda and who has actually been behind the terrorist attacks commonly blamed on that group.

It is noteworthy that that Yugoslav government, the government with whom Bunel was asserted by the French government to have shared information, claimed that Albanian and Bosnian guerrillas in the Balkans were being backed by elements of “Al Qaeda.” We now know that these guerrillas were being backed by money provided by the Bosnian Defense Fund, an entity established as a special fund at Bush-influenced Riggs Bank and directed by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.

French officer Maj. Pierre-Henri Bunel, who knew the truth about “Al Qaeda” — Another target of the neo-cons.

(Source / 11.11.2013)

Prison or death? Egypt coup regime forces grim choice on Palestine refugees

Two men participate in a 21 October ceremony in San Leone, Sicily, to honor hundreds of refugees who died in two shipwrecks near Italy earlier that month.

“Egypt is the main supporter of the Palestinian cause, as well as the Palestinian people’s rights, so we believe their government will continue supporting us in every way” a Palestinian Authority “diplomatic source” said said on the eve of Mahmoud Abbas’ present visit to Egypt.

Abbas, de facto leader of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, is holding meetings with leaders of the Egyptian military regime that overthrew elected President Mohammad Morsi in a 3 July coup.

But Palestinian refugees from Syria, suffering horrifying abuses at the hands of the Egyptian coup regime might not recognize the rosy description of Egypt’s role offered by the PA diplomat.

Horrifying abuses

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch released a report, “Egypt: Syria Refugees Detained, Coerced to Return ,” detailing the systematic abuses of Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Egypt:

Egypt has detained over 1,500 refugees from Syria, including at least 400 Palestinians and 250 children as young as two months old, for weeks and sometimes months. Security officials have acknowledged that the refugees will be held indefinitely until they leave the country.

Palestinian refugees from Syria are especially vulnerable because Egyptian policy prevents them from seeking protection from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), contrary to UNHCR’s mandate under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Egyptian authorities tell detained Palestinians that their only alternative to indefinite detention is to go to Lebanon, where they are only permitted to legally enter on a 48-hour transit visa, or to return to war-torn Syria.

“Egypt is leaving hundreds of Palestinians from Syria with no protection from Syria’s killing fields except indefinite detention in miserable conditions,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Egypt should immediately release those being held and allow UNHCR to give them the protection they are due under international law.”

“Like the Titanic”

The report goes on to detail several instances of the life-and-death choices Palestinians face in Egypt, including embarking on rickety boats in the hope of reaching a country that would give them shelter.

A Palestinian father who had set sail with his 3-year-old son, a brother, and 4-year-old niece, told Human Rights Watch that, “We faced a tough choice: go on the boat and risk our lives for dignity or return to Syria to die.”

Dozens of Palestinians and Syrians have died or gone missing on such journeys, including in two sinkings near the shores of Italy in October. Many whose bodies were recovered were buried in nameless graves.

In another incident on 17 September, Egyptian forces opened fire on a boat carrying some 200 refugees, killing two: Fadwa Ali, a Palestinian refugee from Syria, and Omar Dalool, a Syrian man traveling with his pregnant wife and young daughter.

A survivor of the 11 October sinking gave this harrowing account to Human Rights Watch:

A young woman from the Damascus area with a 7-month-old son said, “I don’t know how to swim, so, when the boat flipped, I held the person next to me and told him not to let go. It was just like the Titanic, a movie I used to watch all the time. We used to say insh’Allah [God willing] it will not happen to us, but now we have become Titanic part 2.”

“We could not stay in Syria. I could not send the children to school, because [both sides] ask which side you support and, if you answer wrongly, they will kill you … bullets showered down, there were planes that dropped bombs,” said a mother of two who also survived the 11 October sinking.

Other survivors said they watched helplessly as other passengers “including the elderly and children, drown[ed] in front of their eyes.”

Plight of thousands

According to Human Rights Watch, some 300,000 Syrians are in Egypt, of whom 125,000 have been registered as refugees by UNHCR. Shortly after the July coup, Egypt began requiring Syrians to gain visas and security clearance to enter the country.

An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria are also in Egypt. WhileUNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, does not operate in Egypt, the coup regime is prohibiting UNHCR from providing protection to the Palestinians, a violation of international law, according to Human Rights Watch.

Detained in squalor

While not granting them protection, Egypt is also punishing those who try to escape, as Human Rights Watch reports:

Egyptian authorities apprehended the majority of the 1,500 detained refugees from Syria at sea, in a harbor, or in some cases at locations near the coast on suspicion that they were preparing to leave illegally, according to lawyers who work with refugees and spoke to Human Rights Watch.

Refugees face charges of violating articles 2 and 3 of the Law of Entry and Residence of Aliens in the Territories of the United Arab Republic and their Departure (1960), which prohibits foreigners from entering or leaving Egypt without valid documentation and at other than official border crossings. The law was passed when Syrians and Egyptians were citizens of the United Arab Republic.

Even when prosecutors have dropped the charges, police have continued to hold the refugees in squalid, overcrowded police cells under orders from Egypt’s National Security agency.

The human rights group documented the desperate conditions in which the refugees, including survivors of shipwrecks, are held.

In once instance – more than 24 hours after the 11 October sinking, Human Rights Watch found – dozens of women and children who survived were held, still wearing the “wet clothes they had nearly drowned in.”


Amid so many disturbing revelations, the plight of children is perhaps the most striking in the Human Rights Watch report:

Since August, Egyptian authorities have detained over 250 Syrian and Palestinian children, some very young, in overcrowded and unsanitary facilities without providing for their basic needs. Human Rights Watch documented cases of detained small children as young as 2 months old, held with family members in squalid conditions, without access to recreation or outdoor facilities.

Detainees do not have consistent access to basic children’s provisions, including baby formula, diapers and nutritionally appropriate food. Detaining children solely because of their immigration status – or their parents’ – violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Call for action

Human Rights Watch urged Egypt to end these abuses and abide by its international legal obligation to protect refugees.

Yet hopes for international pressure on Egypt must be slim with the coup regime enjoying solid support and cover from the United States and its allies.

Last month, the Obama administration imposed purely cosmetic sanctions on Egypt, while reassuring it of solid political support.

The coup regime has also hired a high-power Washington lobby firm with close ties to Obama’s Democratic Party and to the Israel lobby to burnish its image. It seems to be working.

Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry made the extraordinary claim that the coup regime was sticking to its so-called “road map” to democracy.

“The road map is being carried out to the best of our perception,” Kerry stated.

Today’s Human Rights Watch report is an additional piece of evidence that nothing could be further from the truth.

(Source / 11.11.2013)

Clashes in Jerusalem as Israeli forces shut down Arafat event

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces and intelligence officers stormed sports club in Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem and dispersed Palestinians who were commemorating the ninth anniversary of late president Yasser Arafat’s death.

Witnesses told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli officers stormed the club and forced commemorators to leave immediately. The forces presented an order signed by the Israeli minister of interior banning the commemoration.

“After I was notified that on Nov. 11, 2013, the Palestinian Authority was sponsoring a celebration at Silwan club commemorating Yasser Arafat’s anniversary, without a license or a written permission, I hereby ban the activity in the club or any other location in Jerusalem,” the order read.

Fatah’s secretary-general in Jerusalem Omar Shalabi denounced the ban and highlighted that Israeli soldiers handed summons to Maamoon Abbasi, Anas Abbasi, Muhammad Abu Swayy and Ghadyan Qemary.

Clashes broke near the club between Israeli forces and young Palestinian men. The Israelis fired stun grenades at the commemorators and as a result a motorcyclist, who was driving nearby, was injured by shrapnel.

Israel police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an that police officers responding to a “banned event” in Silwan came under attack from Palestinian rock-throwers.

He said Israeli forces responded using stun grenades but denied anyone was injured.

Jerusalem activists launched balloons shaped as Palestinian flags as well as photos of Arafat.

(Source / 11.11.2013)

Libyan Berbers shut gas pipeline to Italy

A view of the Mellitah Oil and Gas blocked by members of the Berber minority demanding more rights complex, 100 km west of Tripoli November 7, 2013. REUTERS photo

 A view of the Mellitah Oil and Gas blocked by members of the Berber minority demanding more rights complex, 100 km west of Tripoli November 7, 2013.

Protestors have shut Libya’s gas export pipeline to Italy, its only customer, demanding more rights for the Amazigh, or Berber, minority.

Although the closure on Monday of the Greenstream pipeline will take several hours to register at the other end, it adds to Italy’s energy headaches after Ukraine halted gas imports from Russia, which could also impact supplies. Italy depends heavily on Russian gas.

Amazigh protesters last month seized the port at the Mellitah complex, some 100 km west of Tripoli, and have already shut down oil exports from there.

The port is operated by Libya’s National Oil Corp and Italian energy company Eni.

“We tried to convince them not to close the pipeline, but it’s closed now,” Munir Abu Saud, head of the local oil workers’ union, told Reuters. “Sadly, its true,” said a senior official at the Libyan oil ministry. Tripoli has seen its authority crumbling over its restive regions and fears an exodus of foreign oil companies and investment.

The Amazigh minority in September shut a pipeline feeding gas from Eni’s Wafa field to export facilities at Mellitah. Although this squeezed exports, much of the gas Libya sends to Italy comes from offshore fields.

Gas flows on Greenstream were at 15.9 million cubic metres on Monday – for now the same amount requested by operators, data from gas grid operator Snam showed.

“At the moment we do not see supply problems for Italy,” said Eni, the biggest oil and gas operator in Libya, in an email response.

Exports from Africa’s fourth-largest gas reserve holder to Italy have fallen since last year as production rates lag pre-civil war levels.

Libya’s 9.9 billion cubic metre/year Greenstream can meet up to 12.2 percent of Italy’s annual gas demand, although last year it accounted for just nine percent of imports, a share that has continued to drop this year.

Italy is 90.4 percent dependent on imports for its gas needs, with a clear majority coming from Russia – of 31 percent in 2012, though that share has likely grown this year.

A spokesman for the protesters camped out at the Mellitah complex said they had ordered the closure because Libya’s parliament and the government had not met their demands by Sunday.

“This time it is for real because the General National Congress did not meet our demands,” the spokesman said.

The Amazigh protesters want their language guaranteed under Libya’s planned new constitution and a bigger say in a committee to be elected to draft the constitution.

The GNC debated the issue on Sunday but has not yet found a solution, said GNC Spokesman Omar Humeidan.

Two years on from the 2011 overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi the country remains beset by violence, strikes and protests over political rights, jobs, and how its oil wealth is to be shared.

Most ports in eastern Libya are shut though the government had managed to end blockages of western ports in September.

(Source / 11.11.2013)