How Isis came to be

Three years ago, Islamic State did not exist – now it controls vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. How did we get here?

Islamic State flag

A gunman waves an Islamic State flag in Raqqa, Syria.

Three years ago, the Islamic State (Isis) did not exist; now it controls vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. Showing off its handiwork daily via Twitter and YouTube, Isis has repeatedly demonstrated that it is much more than a transnational terrorist organisation – rather, it is an entity with sophisticated command, control, propaganda and logistical capabilities, and one that has proven its ability to take and hold strategically critical territory at the heart of the Middle East.

But as world leaders grapple with how to respond to this unprecedented crisis, they must first understand how Isis came to exist.

Principally, Isis is the product of a genocide that continued unabated as the world stood back and watched. It is the illegitimate child born of pure hate and pure fear – the result of 200,000 murdered Syrians and of millions more displaced and divorced from their hopes and dreams. Isis’s rise is also a reminder of how Bashar al-Assad’s Machiavellian embrace of al-Qaida would come back to haunt him.

Facing Assad’s army and intelligence services, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Shia Islamist militias and their grand patron, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Syria’s initially peaceful protesters quickly became disenchanted, disillusioned and disenfranchised – and then radicalised and violently militant.

The Shia Islamist axis used chemical weapons, artillery and barrel bombs to preserve its crescent of influence. Syria’s Sunni Arab revolutionaries in turn sought international assistance, and when the world refused, they embraced a pact with the devil, al-Qaida.

With its fiercely loyal army of transnational jihadis, al-Qaida once again gained a foothold in the heart of the Middle East. Fuelled by the hate and fear engendered by images of dismembered children or women suffering from the effects of chemical weapons, disaffected youth from around the world rushed to Syria, fuelling an ever more violent race to the bottom.

Next door in Iraq, an emboldened Nouri al-Maliki waged his own sectarian campaign to consolidate power, betraying promises to his political partners to share it around. Within days of being welcomed at the White House and praised by Barack Obama for his leadership, Maliki returned to Baghdad to mastermind the arrest of his principal Sunni rival, vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi.

Supported by Iran and armed with US-made Humvees, M-16s, and M1A1 tanks, Maliki’s forces closed in on Hashimi, only to see him flee to Kurdistan. Dozens of his guards were imprisoned on terrorism charges. At least one of them died under interrogation.

Another Christmas purge followed a year later, when a second prominent Sunni rival, the finance minister Rafea al-Essawi, found his home surrounded by Maliki’s US-made tanks. He fled to the sanctuary of his tribe in Iraq’s Anbar province, and was eliminated from Iraqi politics.

Facing mass unrest, Iraq’s Sunni Arab provincial councils voted for semi-autonomous rule like that of the neighbouring Kurdistan region. Maliki blocked the implementation of a referendum through bureaucratic ploys, in contravention of Iraq’s constitution.

Demonstrations of civil disobedience erupted across the Sunni provinces, as millions of Iraqis once again saw that they had no stake in Iraq’s success – only its failure. Claiming intelligence that al-Qaida had penetrated the protest camps, Maliki crushed them with lethal force. Several dozen were killed during an Iraqi military raid in Hawija in April 2013, further inflaming what were already spiking sectarian tensions.

Despite pleas from the highest levels in Washington, Maliki’s government did virtually nothing to halt the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ flights to resupply the Assad regime with thousands of tons of military hardware and ammunition. Meanwhile, a Shia Islamist ally of Maliki privately conceded to me last year that senior officials in the Iraqi government were turning a blind eye – or even actively supporting – the dispatch ofthousands of Iraqi Shia fighters to participate in the spiralling Shia-Sunni holy war in Syria.

These militias – the Badr Corps, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Promised Day Brigades, among others – were warmly embraced by Maliki. Indeed, Badr’s commander is none other than Iraq’s incumbent transport minister, Hadi al-Ameri.

Ironically, al-Qaida’s wholesale introduction into Iraq came at the hands of Assad’s regime. From 2005 until the end of the American occupation of Iraq, Assad’s military intelligence services and their Iranian backers sought to defeat the US forces by training, financing and arming al-Qaida operatives inside Syria and dispatching them across the border to foment chaos and destruction.

General David Petraeus and other senior American officials warned Assad that he was igniting a fire that would eventually burn his house down, but Damascus did nothing to stop the flow of fighters, culminating in a crippling blow to Maliki’s government the day Iraq’s foreign and finance ministries were bombed. Maliki publicly condemned his future ally in Damascus for the attack.

And so, Syria’s unravelling spilled into Iraq, and vice versa. Powerful regional tribes such as the Shammar and Anezah, faced with countless dead and persecuted members in both countries, banded together with former Iraqi and Syrian military officers, embracing Isis jihadis as their frontline shock troops. Cash poured in from sympathetic donors around the region.

Iraq’s four Sunni Arab provinces fell within days, entire Iraqi army divisions evaporated, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advanced American military equipment was seized by Isis and its allies. Fuelled by what was increasingly a regional Sunni-Shia proxy war, Iraq and Syria had become incubators for transnational jihad and religious hate.

As world leaders now consider a military campaign to confront Isis, they should remember the lessons of America’s costly and largely fruitless engagements in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. They should understand that no amount of foreign military power can ever make up for the misrule of corrupt, failed governments like those in Damascus, Baghdad, Kabul or Saigon. Unless they want a regional holy war, leaders should especially discount the advice of some who are now calling for an alliance with Assad’s genocidal regime – perhaps the single greatest root cause of Isis’s rise.

Instead, they should embrace the lessons of Iraq’s Sunni tribal awakening, that only Syrian and Iraqi Sunnis can defeat radical militant Sunni entities like Isis. Likewise, they should understand that only the mullahs in Tehran can help quell radical militant Shia entities like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Assad’s intelligence operatives or Iraq’s militias.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

Our spring is in Gaza

The Arabs’ spring is Palestine and Palestine’s spring is Gaza and Gaza’s spring is embodied by all the victims, martyrs and the resistance heroes. Yes, I say this despite the magnitude of the massacre that has been perpetuated by the enemy against our people in the Gaza Strip and despite the enormous amounts of destruction and death that can be seen from every corner of Arab and Palestinian land.

Indeed, we are all aware of the countless sacrifices made by our people voluntarily and sometimes unwillingly. We do not know whether shelters have been built for them or not, for this has been a topic that has been brought up numerous times but has never been discussed thoroughly. This topic must be addressed in the future and we must ask our politicians why they had many shortcomings in this arena and hold them accountable when necessary.

I wrote at the beginning of the Arab Revolutions that the legitimacy of the Palestinian revolution would not be in its logos and slogans. Some chose to understand this statement as a call for the repression of our economic, social, intellectual and other issues and that all of this would somehow be sacrificed for the greater benefit of the Palestinian cause. Moreover, the oppressive nature of other Arab regimes was somehow justified by the idea that it benefited the Palestinian cause or the belief that the people of the Arab nations should somehow prepare to sacrifice their youth for the sake of a Palestine [that will not return]. Palestine is being used as a scapegoat despite the fact that we have emphasised that its strength will come from its depth and it is the moral compass that gives any popular movement its power and legitimacy.

In Palestine’s case, the national struggle/national cause is condensed to incorporate all economic, social, political and intellectual issues, among others. Of course, this fact is well known and does not need to be repeated.

The latest bout of Israeli aggression against Gaza showcased an unprecedented level of brutality, which revealed to every institution, leader and government that turned a blind eye to the cause the true reality and essence of the conflict in our country. Those who stood as spectators or as explicit supporters of the Israeli aggression on Gaza have proved their hostility towards the aspirations of the people of our nations.

The issue of freedom is not divided and he who wants freedom for his people cannot stand as an idle spectator when it comes to the Palestinian cause as it is considered by many to be a just cause against a colonial occupation. Yet, those who speak on behalf of Palestine are often the worst people to defend this “just and legitimate cause”.

Some parties, in their pragmatic approach to the situation, have by default stood in support of Israel regardless of whether they failed to denounce their biased position or whether they chose to place all the blame on the Palestinian resistance. By doing so these parties have chosen to turn their backs on the basic principles of freedom and justice because they are distracted, and have instead chosen to blame the victim.

Thus, the majority of these self-proclaimed “modernists” now claim that choosing to stand with Palestine means choosing the side of obscure Islamic parties. These allegations are a clear sign of falsifying reality because these pretexts and ways of thinking choose to ignore the fact that Israel is intellectually and politically a racist state down to its core, because it self-identifies as a “Jewish” state par excellence. How can these self-proclaimed modernist Arabs think that standing with Zionists is better for them than siding with Islam? It is truly strange!

In any case, the recent events in Gaza are unprecedented in history. As I have stated previously, the latest offensive on Gaza was a huge turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict; despite the large number of fallen and wounded, the resistance has shown the enemy that it too is capable of effective military strategy and, for the second time, Israel was defeated [in their attempt to destroy Hamas].

When looking at the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006, one could argue that Hezbollah was able to fight in an unprecedented way because it possessed exceptional weapons. The same cannot be said for the Palestinian resistance forces in the Gaza Strip as they do not possess the same calibre of weapons nor the same capabilities because Gaza is surrounded by land, sea and air. It is for these reasons that the latest victory in Gaza is considered to be a major turning point in the conflict.

Israel lost its prestige for the second time and this time it was to a force much weaker, at least militarily, than Hezbollah’s were in 2006. Israel did not achieve a victory despite its much-vaunted military invincibility and semi-divine intelligence capabilities.

It is important to note the following:

  • Israel did not succeed in breaking Gaza despite ten years of siege and the ground invasion stopped after a few metres.
  • Israel was not able to destroy all of the ground tunnels in Gaza. Zionist forces only managed to destroy a couple of tunnels on the border.
  • Israel did not succeed in demolishing a single rocket-launching pad.
  • Israel did not succeed in capturing a single prisoner of war.
  • Israel did not succeed in finding a single rocket arsenal or storage facility.
  • Israel did not succeed in finding out where the rockets are made.
  • Israel did not succeed in finding out where the rockets are launched.
  • Its American anti-missile technology proved to be more of a gel dome than an iron dome.

In addition to all of this, one must note the creativity exhibited by the Palestinian resistance who, despite the siege, was able to work beyond enemy lines and capture an Israeli soldier. It is also important to note that many Israeli military leaders are now re-evaluating their military profiles as many of them fear that they will be tried in European courts for being war criminals. More importantly, the Likud Party is now shifting its ranks and looking for a new leader to replace Netanyahu, whose neo-fascist policies are clearly not working. The party was forced to make a similar move after Ehud Olmert’s failure in Lebanon in 2006.

The facts mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg and they must be discussed and examined in great detail despite the Arab media’s current sense of embarrassment for their media blackout on the war and their bias towards the Israeli perspective.

The future Israel will be completely different to what it is today. It has lost its role in the Middle East after losing two wars and after deciding to attack civilians in an unprecedented brutal way. Not only did Israel ask for ceasefire terms at the very onset of the conflict, but many Israeli politicians also attempted to corner the Palestinian resistance and force it to relinquish the demands for the end of the siege and open borders; however, they were not successful.

Israel was defeated in 2006 and also failed to implement the current tasks assigned to it by Washington. The US and NATO have responded to the most recent defeat by saying that it will be answered to elsewhere, perhaps in Iraq or Syria (not Tel Aviv). We should know or expect these outcomes, on scientific grounds, based on the research of scholars associated with centres that focus on the Middle East.

What does isolating Israel mean? What has isolating Israel meant since 1956? It means that the Palestinian leadership (and by leadership I do not mean the one found in Ramallah) has demonstrated political, media, military and psychological willingness to fight against Israel. The fight against the occupier is not necessarily conducted through the use of violence but in a way that forces its government to relinquish Palestinian land that was occupied in 1967, without any conditions or limitations. We need only to look at how Hezbollah forced Israel to retreat from southern Lebanon in 2000 without any conditions. The Palestinian right of return and the defence of the occupied territories also need to be fought for without exception.

We are not underestimating our enemy’s capabilities in any way and we know that the battle to liberate Palestine will be long and complex. While we know that we will face many complications along the way, we remain confident in our ability to fight the glorious battle that we need to restore our country.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

Abbas, Meshaal seek UN timetable to end Israel occupation

Leaders of Fatah and Hamas meet in Qatar, stress unity government ‘represents all the Palestinian people’ as they slam Israeli ‘aggression’

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (L) meeting with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani (C) and Hamas exiled leader Khaled Meshaal (R) in Doha on August 21, 2014

The Palestinian president and Hamas’s exiled leader Friday urged the United Nations to draw up a “timetable” for the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories to end, Qatar state media said.

President Mahmud Abbas and Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal issued the appeal during talks in Doha, as fighting continues in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Qatar’s state news agency QNA said.

The two Palestinian leaders have been holding talks in Doha since Thursday, but little else has filtered out of their meetings which are hosted by the emir of Qatar, a key backer of Hamas.

Their discussions, at the palace of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, came after fighting in Gaza flared anew on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed.

Talks broke down with Israel insistent on its demand of disarming Hamas, while the Palestinian group called for an end to eight years of Israeli blockade.

QNA said that Abbas and Meshaal discussed Israel’s “aggression” on Gaza and underlined “the importance of acting at all levels in order to… lift Israel’s blockade of Gaza”.

They also agreed to request from the United Nations “a resolution that would define a timetable for the end of Israel’s occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state”.

The agency said Abbas would undertake the diplomatic steps necessary to seek such a resolution.

Hamas joined a national unity government with the president’s Fatah faction in June, sparking Israeli fury.

During their meeting, Abbas and Meshaal stressed that the unity government “represents all the Palestinian people and looks after their interests”, QNA said.

It also reported that the Qatari ruler spoke by phone Friday to UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to discuss efforts to stop “Israel’s aggression on Gaza and the lifting of the blockade”.

Netanyahu warns Hamas of ‘heavy price’ to pay

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday vowed an even stronger offensive against Hamas in Gaza, after a mortar round fired from the Palestinian territory killed an Israeli child.

“Hamas will pay a heavy price for this attack,” Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman cited the premier as saying on his Twitter account, adding that the Israeli army and Shin Bet internal security service would “intensify ops against Hamas” until the goal of Protective Edge is achieved.

“A mortar hit near a kindergarten in the Sdot Negev regional council, killing an Israeli child,” a statement from the Israeli army read.

“Netanyahu sends his condolences to the family of the 4-year-old boy that was killed this afternoon by a mortar round fired by Hamas,” Gendelman wrote.

The number of civilians killed in Israel during its 46-day military onslaught rose to four, in addition to 64 Israeli soldiers killed in and around the Gaza Strip.

At least 2,092 Palestinians have been killed since July 8, of whom the United Nations has identified 70 percent as civilians.

Israel has vowed to continue its campaign of air strikes, and Israeli security cabinet authorised the call-up of up to 10,000 army reservists in a new troop rotation, media reported.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, regarded as one of the less hawkish members of the security cabinet, threatened further deadly attacks on Hamas leaders.

“Hamas leaders need to know that we shall not stop now,” he said in remarks broadcast by public radio.

“Each and every one of them — the political wing, the military wing, abroad or in Gaza itself — needs to know that he is a legitimate target for assassination as long as they continue… to threaten Israeli citizens,” Lapid said.

On Tuesday, Israel tried to assassinate Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif, who has topped its most wanted list for more than a decade.

That attack levelled a six-storey building in Gaza City, killing two women and three children, among them Deif’s wife, his infant son and three-year-old daughter.

European initiative

On Thursday, Britain, France and Germany put forward key points of a new UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire, and the lifting of Israel’s blockade.

Diplomats said the text was aimed at advancing efforts to reach agreement within the 15-member council after a draft resolution from Jordan met with resistance, notably from the United States.

Washington has wielded its veto powers at the UN Security Council repeatedly in the past on behalf of its Israeli ally.

But relations have been strained over the breakdown of US-brokered peace efforts and concerns over the scale of the civilian death toll in Gaza.

The new resolution proposes a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire and supervise the movement of goods into Gaza to allay Israeli security concerns.

It also called for the Western-backed Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

Police: Israel dropped ‘equivalent of 6 nuclear bombs’ on Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Bomb disposal experts in Gaza on Friday said that Israel had dropped the equivalent of six nuclear bombs on the tiny coastal enclave over the course of it’s six-week assault, including many that the police say are internationally banned.

The explosives’ engineering police of the Gaza Ministry of Interior said in a statement that Israel had dropped 20,000 tons of explosives on the 139 square mile (360 sq km) territory.

“Flechette shells, fuel-air bombs (which explode twice, including after impact), dime shells, and flechette shells saturated with uranium were fired at Gaza Strip,” the statement added, stressing that the weapons “affect the environment, soil, and water and will affect the next generations by spreading diseases especially cancer.”

The statement said that areas near the border like Khuzaa, eastern Rafah, Shujaiyya, eastern al-Mughazi, al-Bureij and Juhr al-Dik were hit with “the lion’s share of Israeli shells and missiles.”

The statement said that of the total number of explosive, 8,000 were dropped from warplanes, “killing entire families and crossing them out of the Palestinian civil register.”

Drones, Apache, F15, F16 and “vertical” warplanes were used during the offensive, firing MK82, MK83 and MK84 shells.

The statement added that the Israeli artillery deployed in eastern Gaza City had fired high-explosive shells at homes and civilian property causing massive damage, especially in Rafah, Khan Younis, Shujaiyya and Beit Hanoun.

More than 60,000 artillery shells of different sizes were fired at Gaza.

During the assault, Gaza police bomb disposal experts said that engaged in 1731 different missions including treating explosive devices, suspicious devices. and vehicles, among other tasks.

Major Hazem Abu Murad, deputy head of the explosives engineering department, and Major Taysir al-Hum were killed while dismantling suspicious objects in northern Gaza Strip, the statement added.

According to the statement, Major Abu Murad was one of the most important experts and trainers in explosives engineering in Gaza.

Other engineering police members were killed or detained during the Israeli offensive on Gaza Strip, the statement added, without identifying them.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

Starve or surrender: Cut off all food and water to Gaza, says Israeli general

A Palestinian boy stands in his family’s damaged home as people inspect the remains of another house, destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the central Gaza Strip, 23 August.

Israeli Major-General Giora Eiland has urged that all food and water be cut off to Gaza’s nearly 1.8 million Palestinian residents – a major war crime and precisely the “starve or surrender” policy which the United States has condemned when used in Syria.

Eiland, the Israeli government’s former national security advisor, argues that Gaza should be considered an enemy “state.”

“Since Gaza is in fact a state in a military confrontation with us, the proper way to put pressure on them is to bring to a full stop the supplies from Israel to Gaza, not only of electricity and fuel, but also of food and water,” he wrote in a Hebrew-language op-ed onMako, a website affiliated with Israel’s Channel 2 television.

“A state cannot simultaneously attack and feed the enemy, while he is shooting at you, because this gives the other country a breathing space – and again I am referring to Gaza as a country, because the regime there is supported by its people,” Eiland adds.

Israel legally obliged to supply Gaza population

Eiland appears to believe that the fiction that Gaza is a sovereign “state” would somehow lessen culpability for what would amount to massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Under Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, “the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.”

Under international law, Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza has not ended its military occupation of the territory because Gaza remains under the “effective control” of Israel.

Yet Israel has long violated its obligation by deliberately restricting the basic needs of Gaza’s population and deliberately destroying their food sources including agricultural land, poultry and dairy farms.

While Eiland’s proposal calls to cut all food and water, strictly regulating the food intake of Palestinians in Gaza to achieve political ends, has long been the Israeli occupation’s actual policy.

Israel’s deliberate attacks on Gaza’s civilian infrastructure has created a “water disaster,” already depriving every single person of access to a safe and secure supply of water.

Israel’s brutal siege is precisely what the Palestinian resistance in Gaza is currently fighting to end.

Possible genocidal intent

Eiland recently argued in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper, that because they elected Hamas, the people of Gaza as a whole “are to blame for this situation just like Germany’s residents were to blame for electing Hitler as their leader and paid a heavy price for that, and rightfully so.”

General Eiland’s call – which may amount to incitement to genocide – as well as to war crimes and crimes against humanity – is only the latest exterminationist proposal from an Israeli leader.

Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, for instance, recently called for the population of Gaza to be moved to concentration camps and then expelled so that Gaza could be resettled with Jews.

“Starve or surrender” mirrors Syria policy

The United States government, Israel’s chief sponsor, has not expressed any criticism of Eiland’s proposals, nor done anything to end Israel’s siege. However, it views “starve or surrender” as a grave crime when used against rebel-held areas by the government in Syria.

This has been the case in several areas including Yarmouk refugee camp where, Amnesty International has said, the Syrian government is “using starvation as a weapon of war to achieve its ends.”

Last month, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that “all Syrian parties to the conflict,” including the government and rebels, “shall enable the immediate and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance directly to people throughout Syria,” immediately “removing all impediments to the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

By contrast, the so-called “international community,” led by the United States, has supported and justified Israel’s siege of Gaza for almost eight years.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

Saudi Arabia beheads 19 people for ‘black magic’

Authorities are coming down hard on drug smugglers and ‘sorcery,’ says Human Rights Watch.

President Barack Obama with the Governor of Riyadh Prince Khalid Bandar bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud (C) upon his arrival for a visit to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in March. Saudi Arabia has executed a number of people for drug smuggling and ‘Sorcery.’

At least 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia this month in a clampdown by the authorities on drug smuggling and “sorcery,” according to Human Rights Watch officials.

Four hashish smugglers were beheaded on Aug. 18, the latest in a string of executions across the country since the beginning of the month, Saudi Press Agency reported.

All four were men from the same family, reported the Independent, while another suspect, Mohammed bin Bakr al-Alawi, was beheaded for practicing black magic sorcery.

“Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious,” said Sarah Leah Watson, Middle East and North Africa Director for Human Rights Watch.

She added that there was “no excuse” for the continued use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

A mentally ill man, Hajras al-Qurey, has been sentenced to death for drug trafficking and will be killed Aug. 25, according to Amnesty International officials.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

UPDATED – Woman killed as Morsi supporters clash with security in east Cairo

Protests also took place in Alexandria in the north and Minya in the south

A 44 year-old woman, Zeinab Mahmoud, died on Friday amid clashes between supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and security forces in east Cairo`s Ain Shams district, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Prosecution has ordered an autopsy for the deceased.

Ain Shams is a known stronghold for supporters of the ousted president. The neighbourhood has witnessed many bloody clashes between Morsi supporters and security forces since the ouster of Morsi in July 2013.

Also on Friday, more than five protests took place in in different districts in Alexandria, with supporters of the ousted president calling for the “return of legitimacy” and retribution for all those who died since his ouster.

The protestors held pictures of the ousted president and chanted slogans against the military and current government such as  “Down with military rule” and “Legitimacy is a red line”.

There has also been pro-Morsi protests in Upper Egypt`s governorate of Minya and the west Delta governorate of Gharbiya.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

Israel Calls Up 10,000 Reservists, Threatens New Ground Invasion of Gaza

Following the decision by the Israeli government to pull out of negotiations for a long-term truce and renew airstrikes on Gaza, beginning Tuesday, August 19th, the Israeli military announced, Saturday, that it is prepared for another ground invasion of Gaza, and has called up 10,000 reservists to that end.

Tanks outside of Gaza (archive image - from Yes magazine)
Tanks outside of Gaza

In the ground invasion which began two weeks into the Israeli assault ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in July, 60 Israeli soldiers were killed by Palestinian resistance fighters. Several hundred Palestinian resistance fighters are estimated to be among the more than 2,000 men, women and children who have been killed since July 8th. The vast majority of the Palestinians killed are civilians who were hit by Israeli airstrikes either in their homes, on the street, or in designated United Nations shelters. Whole neighborhoods in Gaza were reduced to rubble by the Israeli airstrikes.

On Thursday night, three leaders of the armed wing of Hamas were killed by Israeli airstrikes, and thousands of people attended their funerals on Friday. Twenty-seven civilians were also killed by Israeli airstrikes on Thursday. Around the same time, the Israeli military called up 10,000 reservists and told them to prepare for a ground invasion.

Later, on Friday, following the first death of an Israeli child in the six-week long conflict (over 400 Palestinian children have been killed), a new ground invasion of Gaza was announced by Israeli authorities as a distinct possibility.

The Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated, in July, that he is planning to re-occupy a large part of the Gaza Strip, to create a ‘buffer zone’ which would essentially annex, to Israel, nearly half of the already overcrowded Gaza Strip.

In the initial ground invasion, Israeli troops were met with strong resistance, and ended up retreating back to the edges of the Gaza Strip without achieving the declared objectives of halting Palestinian resistance rockets and disarming Hamas.

Since the Israeli invasion of Gaza began on July 8th, an estimated 87,000 army reservists have been called up to participate in the attack. Israeli polls claim that 92% of all Israeli Jews are supportive of the attack on Gaza. At least a hundred Israeli reservists have refused to fight.

Fifty of them signed on to a letter published in the Washington Post, which states:

“We were soldiers in a wide variety of units and positions in the Israeli military—a fact we now regret, because, in our service, we found that troops who operate in the occupied territories aren’t the only ones enforcing the mechanisms of control over Palestinian lives. In truth, the entire military is implicated.

“Many of us served in logistical and bureaucratic support roles; there, we found that the entire military helps implement the oppression of the Palestinians.

“The military plays a central role in every action plan and proposal discussed in the national conversation, which explains the absence of any real argument about non-military solutions to the conflicts Israel has been locked in with its neighbours.

“The military enshrines an image of the ‘good Israeli,’ who in reality derives his power by subjugating others.

“By law, some of us are still registered as part of the reserved forces [others have managed to win exemptions or have been granted them upon their release], and the military keeps our names and personal information, as well as the legal option to order us to ‘service.’ But we will not participate — in any way.”

Palestinian leadership from all Palestinian political parties have been working tirelessly since the talks broke down, on Tuesday, to bring negotiators back to the table to render a long term truce, but Israeli officials have flatly refused all attempts to get them to return to Egypt to negotiate.

(Source / 23.08.2014)

Israel strikes kill 10 in Gaza

Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike on a Palestinian home in Gaza City on Saturday
GAZA CITY (AFP) — Israel pounded Gaza on Saturday with scores of airstrikes, killing 10 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and bringing down a 12-story apartment building as Egypt called for new truce talks.

Since a previous round of frantic Egyptian diplomacy collapsed last Tuesday, shattering nine days of calm, 86 Palestinians and a four-year-old Israeli boy have been killed in the violence.

Israel on Saturday sent text messages, voicemails and leaflets warning Palestinians that “every house from which militant activity is carried out, will be targeted” and to stay away from “terrorists.”

Israel has vowed no let-up until it can guarantee the safety of its civilians, while Hamas insists that Israel must end its eight-year blockade of the territory as part of any truce.

At least 2,103 Palestinians and 68 people on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers, have been killed since July 8. The UN says 70 percent of the Palestinians who have died were civilians.

(Source / 23.08.2014)