Gaza speaks: This is what the decade-long siege has done to us

By Ramzy Baroud

Palestinian children play amid the rubble of their house, on May 11, 2015, destroyed during the 50-day war in the summer of 2014, in the Shujaiya neighbourhood

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story.

Whenever Mariam Aljamal’s children hear the sound of thunder at night, they wet their beds. Their reaction is almost instinctive, and is shared by a large number of children throughout the Gaza Strip.Mariam’s three children — Jamal, Lina and Sarah — were all born a few years after the Gaza siege was first imposed in 2006, and all of them have experienced at least one Israeli war.“My kids feel scared when the electricity goes off, which is most of the time,” says the 33-year-old mother from Nuseirat refugee camp, who has a degree in communication and is currently pursuing her MA. “They are still living the trauma of the 2014 offensive. War is still haunting my family, and life has become so hard for us.”Indeed, after years of trying, Mariam is yet to find work. Unemployment in Gaza is the highest in the world, according to the World Bank.The siege on Gaza was imposed in stages, starting January 2006, when the Hamas movement won the legislative elections in the Occupied Territories. Donors’ money was immediately withheld, so the new government could not pay the salaries of its employees. The conventional wisdom, then, was the new government would soon collapse, and Hamas’ rival, Fatah, would quickly resume its control over the Palestinian Authority (PA).The Israeli hope, which was reinforced by the US and also shared by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and many in his party, never came to fruition. To speed up the projected collapse, Israel began sporadic bombardment of Gaza and carried out a sweeping campaign to arrest many of its elected MPs, coupled with a Fatah and Hamas dispute, which eventually turned into street battles in the summer of 2007.It was then that the siege became complete, now ongoing for ten years. During this time, Fatah resumed its control over the PA in the West Bank, reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah largely failed, the Rafah border has been mostly sealed, and Israel has launched three major wars that have killed thousands.The destruction in Gaza as a result of three consecutive wars (2008-9, 12 and 14) has been so severe, it has affected almost every aspect of the Strip’s already dilapidated infrastructure. Power outages, for example, have become part of life in Gaza. If all goes according to plan, Palestinians here have only 8-10 hours, per day, to utilize electricity, and for the rest of the day they suffer in darkness. The UN had already declared that life in Gaza will become ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020.But there are aspects of this drama that do not receive a fair share of attention, such as how the siege is hindering human development for an entire generation.When the siege was imposed, Ahmad Ghazal was only 13 years old. Now, he is 23 and works at a local library in Gaza City. “Life here is not pleasant,” he says. “In the last ten years my family has suffered the lack of food, clean water, proper medical care and the most basic of human needs. But what frustrates me most is the fact that I am not able to move freely. The Israeli-Egyptian shut down of border crossings has brought our life to a standstill. I feel trapped.”Maher Azzam is 21 years of age and he, too, feels imprisoned. He teaches English at Smart International Centre for Languages and Development and aspires to be a writer. However, he sees life in Gaza as a slow death.“The number of martyrs in the Strip over the course of 10 years has exceeded 4,000, but those innocent people only died once,” he says. “People who are still alive in Gaza, have been dying every day for a whole decade. But we must stay optimistic and hopeful. We have learned to be creative to survive, to express ourselves and to carry on without submitting, despite Israel’s ongoing crimes and the silence of the international community.”Heba Zaher, a 21-year-old graduate from the Islamic University, also understands the centrality of hope to the Gaza narrative. She says, “We have survived all of these years without losing hope, we certainly can’t lose it now. Ten years of hardship have taught us to be stronger, to cope with life and to defeat the siege.”But defeating the siege is not an easy endeavor, as it has “affected all aspects of our life,” according to Heba. “Many students have lost their opportunities of studying abroad. Many patients have died, waiting for the crossings to open so that they may get proper treatment. Construction is tied to the crossings, and life is now more expensive than ever.”The consequences of the siege are far-reaching to the extent that Anas Almassri, a student-intern at the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor in Deir al Balah, says that whatever remained of Gaza’s middle class is now dwindling. “The middle class in Gaza continues to shrink as a result of the diminishing economic opportunities, and this affects the income of families terribly, who cannot send their kids to universities and, therefore, cannot maintain their standard of living.”For Ghada Abu Msabeh, 20, also from Deir Al-Balah, the siege has now become so rooted in the collective psyche of Gazans that it has grown to become the new norm. “I think that we have come to the point that the siege has become a part of our daily life and routine,” she argues. “I honestly cannot imagine what life would be if we are able to move freely or even go for an entire day without power outage. It is honestly difficult to remember how life used to be before the siege.”Hana Salah, 25, a writer and humanitarian worker with Oxfam Italy, tried to seek an opportunity outside Gaza, but she was not successful. “I didn’t try again because seeing others’ attempt and fail was enough to depress me,” she says. “I feel that we are living in a cage and have no idea what is transpiring outside this cage. I don’t know what will happen, but can only hope and pray for God’s mercy.”Some of those who were able to leave to pursue their education outside Gaza, were stuck when they attempted to return for a visit. Rafaat Alareer, a writer and lecturer, embarked on his PhD studies at Universiti Purra Malaysia in 2012, but has been trapped in Gaza since 2014. He came to visit his family as the 2014 offensive destroyed their home and killed his brother. “It’s been a year and a half now, and I cannot go back because of the siege and the closure of the Rafah crossing,” which has beenpractically shut down for a year.The same was experienced by Belal Dabour, a young doctor at the Shifa Hospital, who is unable to leave Gaza to gain more experience and attend conferences, which he had hoped could bolster his academic qualifications. “I had just graduated when the 2014 war started,” he says. “It was very traumatic. What I have experienced in one month at Al-Shifa is more than what other doctors would experience in many years of their practice. But now I have no job and like many of my colleagues have no source of income.”Walaa Al-Ghussein, a 23-year-old student at Al-Azhar University, concludes that, although more people now acknowledge the existence of a cruel siege on Gaza, life for Gazans remains the same. “We need more than just protests; real pressure needs to be exerted on Israel so that this siege ends. Hundreds of patients are dying, students are losing their opportunities of studying abroad and a whole people are stranded.”

(Source / 26.01.2016)

France gives €1 billion aid to Tunisia in bid to halt mass protests over jobs

After last week’s mass protests against unemployment and poverty throughout Tunisia, the French government has announced €1 billion aid over the next five years to its former colony.

President François Hollande’s Socialist Party government, which is imposing tens of billions of euros in social cuts against workers at home, did not take this measure to address the basic social needs of Tunisian workers and unemployed. Rather, it feared that—as in 2011, when the uprising in Tunisia sparked revolution in Egypt—this was the only way to prevent an uncontrollable social explosion internationally.

Last week, Tunisia saw a wave of mass protests over unemployment, which broke out in Kasserine province after a youth, Ridha Yahyaoui, was electrocuted on January 16. He was protesting the removal of his name from the list of people to be recruited by a local education committee. Protests erupted and rapidly spread across the country as the workers and unemployed joined the movement demanding jobs.

The Tunisian government has sent army and riot police against protesters, firing tear gas and water cannon as the unemployed gathered outside government offices to demand jobs. On Saturday, the interior ministry announced that 423 people had been arrested across the country for alleged acts of violence. The government also slandered the protests as the work of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terror group in nearby Libya.

The mass protests underscored that none of the issues driving the revolutionary uprisings of 2011 have been solved. Imperialism avoided the coming to power of the working class, working with the Tunisian bourgeoisie, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), and various pseudo-left parties, which insisted that the uprising should end so they could set up “democracy.” The ruling party, Nidaa Tounes, is a thinly disguised rebranding of Ben Ali’s old party.

As the Tunisian government deployed armed forces and imposed a curfew to clamp down on protests on Friday, Hollande and other French officials met with Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid in Paris.

After meeting with Essid, Hollande announced, “France will set up a plan to support Tunisia with one billion euros over the next five years. … A major axis of this plan aims to assist underprivileged regions and youth, with an emphasis on jobs.”

An Elysée Presidential Palace statement declared, “Five years after the revolution, Tunisia has succeeded in its democratic transition but still faces important economic, social, and security challenges.” It insisted that the regime in Tunis can count on “France’s support.”

France has broad economic ties with Tunisia. In particular, French and European transnationals seek to use high unemployment to exploit workers in France’s former colonies at rock-bottom wages, effectively using the Tunisian capitalist class and union bureaucracy as cheap-labour contractors.

During his visit, Essid spoke to Prime Minister Manuel Valls and French Senate President Gérard Larcher, as well as with representatives of the French employers’ organisation, the Movement of the French Enterprises (Medef), to examine how to boost French investment in Tunisia.

Essid and Valls signed an agreement to convert a part of Tunisia’s debt to France in investment. Larcher announced that the Senate would also seek to boost investment in Tunisia in the coming period. He said, “Essid informed me of Tunisia’s strategy aimed to develop several economic sectors, such as auto, which will help create jobs for youths.”

What is emerging is not prosperity for Tunisia, however, but a vast expansion of imperialist influence in the former French colony. While seeking to extract more profits from Tunisia, the imperialist powers are also developing their military influence there under cover of the “war on terror.”

According to the Elysée statement, “Tunisia, like France, is threatened and has been grievously hit by terrorism, because it chose democracy. Our two countries confront the same threat, and it is together that we must win the struggle against this scourge, respecting the rule of law.”

The Elysée’s talk of “democracy” and the respect of “rule of law” reek of hypocrisy. Indeed, the most important recent development is that the French government is moving to treat metropolitan France in ways it had previously reserved for its colonies.

After the November 13 terror attack in Paris, the Hollande administration has placed France in a state of emergency—under legislation created and first used during the failed attempt to crush the Algerian independence struggle—and plans to extend it indefinitely. This amounts to a repudiation of the rule of law, scrapping basic democratic rights, banning protests, controlling the press, and giving police broad extrajudicial powers to detain people without charge.

The common fear of the Tunisian proletariat and of social anger in the working class in Europe and America, particularly in French urban estates with large North African immigrant populations, is prompting a joint political response of the capitalist classes.

Already, during the initial uprising in Tunisia in 2011, then-French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie proposed to reinforce the Ben Ali dictatorship with French riot police units.

Now, during a visit to Tunis in October, French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian signalled a broad escalation of Franco-Tunisian ties. Declaring that “Tunisia’s security is also that of France,” Le Drian announced that France would provide €20 million in military aid to Tunisia in the 2016-2017 period. This is a quadrupling of French military spending in Tunisia from its current level of €2.5 million per year.

Washington is also more than doubling its military aid to Tunisia, from $40 million a year to $99 million, largely spent on equipment, whereas the French concentrate on training.

These measures underscore growing concern among imperialist powers over the intensification of social opposition in the working class.

The imperialist powers and their Tunisian bourgeois allies have proven incapable of resolving any of the basic social and democratic questions that led to the 2011 uprising. Since the 2011 uprising, unemployment has increased from 12 to 15 percent among adults, whereas among youth the figure is 32 percent, rising to 40 percent in rural areas. These problems will intensify as Tunisia’s economy is set to contract amidst the worsening global slump.

(Source / 26.01.2016)

Female Israeli soldier succumbs to her wounds

Israeli media denied that fact that she was a soldier in the army, which kills Palestinians just for entertainment

Female Israeli soldier, wounded on Monday evening inside an illegal settlement in occupied West Bank, died on Tuesday morning, Israeli medical sources said.

In fact, Shlomit Kringman was a soldier and served in the Israeli occupation army and she might have killed many of the Palestinian children

Days of Palestine, West Bank –Female Israeli soldier, wounded on Monday evening inside an illegal settlement in occupied West Bank, died on Tuesday morning, Israeli medical sources said.

Officials in the Israeli Hadassah Medical Centre in occupied Jerusalem said that the female Israeli soldier Shlomit Kringman, who was wounded on Monday evening, died of her wounds.

Kringman, 24, who lived in the illegal Israeli Jewish settlement Beit Horon, which is built on the lands of the occupied West Bank.

She was wounded alongside with another soldier when a Palestinian youth was reportedly attempted to kill them.

Trying to demonise the Palestinians, the Israeli media reported that he was a mom, denying she was a soldier and she held an M16 automatic rifle during the claimed attack.

In fact, she was a soldier and served in the Israeli occupation army and she might have killed many of the Palestinian children.

A number of Israeli soldiers have acknowledged killing Palestinians just for amusement.

(Source / 26.01.2016)

Fatah vows to punish those who criticise it

Palestinians outraged as Fatah leader reveals that hundreds of anti-Israel attacks were thwarted

Mourners shout slogans and wave national and Fatah party flags in the southern West Bank village of Yatta, south of Hebron during the funeral of Roqaya Abu-Eid, a Palestinian teenager who was shot dead following a stabbing attack.

Ramallah: Masked gunmen from Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement have paraded through the streets in several West Bank cities threatening to use decisive force against Palestinians who criticise or defame their leadership.

The Palestinian public outrage came on the heels of a statement made by the powerful Maj Gen Majed Faraj who heads the Palestinian General Intelligence Service and a potential successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Defense News in which he said that Palestinian security forces have prevented 200 attacks against Israelis, confiscated weapons and arrested about 100 Palestinians since October.

Faraj views the Palestinian security coordination with Israel as a bridge that can sustain stability until politicians return to negotiations with the Israeli occupation authorities. “We are sure that violence will hurt us. It won’t bring us closer to achieving our dream of a Palestinian state,” he said.

Faraj’s dramatic statements shocked many Palestinians, who have taken to social media to vent their anger.

Fatah Information and Culture Commission did not deny the statement but suggested that Israel may have been behind them. The commission urged the Palestinian public in a statement to be wary of Israeli attempts to defame members of the Palestinian leadership.

Palestinian security coordination is a controversial policy locally and has become a source of tension as Israel has killed over a hundred Palestinians in recent months. Given the lack of popularity of the policy on the Palestinian street, Abbas has repeatedly threatened to end coordination with the Israelis but has not delivered on the threat. The security coordination involves Palestinian security services preventing attacks by Palestinians on Israeli occupation forces, a policy that has led many critics to label the Palestinian National Authority as Israel’s “policeman” in the West Bank. Critics of the coordination are often labelled as traitors by the authorities.

Masked gunmen from Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades read a statement in Nablus and another statement in Jenin warning that targeting Faraj with negative comments will not go unpunished, stressing that defaming Palestinian leaders will not be tolerated. “Inciting against Faraj will be confronted with all means at our disposal. Faraj is a key leader and a nationalist patriot and he will not be targeted by collaborators with Israel,” read the statement. “Palestinians currently live under extremely tough conditions and there is no need to pour oil on the already raging fire.”

(Source / 26.01.2016)

The truth about the Saudi executions

Saudi Shiite men hold placards bearing portraits of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr during a protest against his execution in the eastern coastal city of Qatif, Jan. 8, 2016

Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 accused terrorists on Jan. 2 drew extensive condemnation in the United States. Further, because four of the men executed were Shiites, including in particular Shiite religious leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and consulate general in Mashhad were stormed the same day and set ablaze by rioting Iranian Basij and others. In response to these incidents, Saudi Arabia and many of its Arab allies severed diplomatic relations with Iran. Yet, in the face of criticism by US officials and pundits trying to twist the executions into an example of the state-sanctioned killing of innocent people, or a case of Sunni sectarian actions against a Shiite minority, the truth needs to be told: The 47 men executed were proven terrorists and criminals, all of whom had committed or inspired murder, and many of whom had direct links to al-Qaeda or the terrorist Shiite group Hezbollah al-Hejaz (Saudi Hezbollah).

The al-Qaeda links were established legal fact. Indeed, 43 of those executed were tied to the men who carried out 9/11. They had been fighters, recruiters, senior commanders and theologians in the terrorist group behind the horrors of the attacks on the World Trade Center, United Flight 93 and the Pentagon. Furthermore, they had been part of the localSaudi branch of al-Qaeda that carried out a series of terrorist attacks between 2003 and 2006 in the kingdom in an attempt to foment mass murder on a scale equal to or beyond 9/11. Although these attempts ultimately failed, they nevertheless led to the deaths of numerous civilians, including many Americans.

As noted, some critics have characterized the Saudi executions as an act of Sunni sectarian violence against members of a Shiite minority primarily because one of those executed, Nimr, was a renowned cleric in the Shiite enclave of Qatif. Leaving aside that only 4 of the 47 men killed were Shiites, thus totally debunking the accusations of sectarian violence, a closer look at Nimr suggests that he was nothing like the peaceful activist campaigning against an authoritarian monarchy and discrimination depicted in the press by certain White House officials. He was in fact a political extremist linked to a known terrorist group and numerous killings. In the words of Tawfiq al-Sayf, a prominent Shiite activist in Saudi Arabia, Nimr was fomenting a “Shi‘a equivalent of ISIS.”

In his public life, Nimr had been closely tied to Hezbollah al-Hejaz, the armed, avowedly Khomeinist group established in Qatif and active in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, Kuwait and Bahrain. As a leadership figure in the organization, Nimr consistently preached that the Sunni ruling dynasties in the three countries were illegitimate and called for armed struggle against the Saudi government. Hezbollah al-Hejaz carried out the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 20 US service personnel and injured 498 people of various nationalities. The four senior members who led the attack, and who are on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list, subsequently fled to Iran and continue to live there in hiding with the support of the mullahs in Tehran. The plot recently thickened.

On Aug. 26, 2015, it was announced that Saudi intelligence officers had apprehended Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mughassil, leader of the Hezbollah al-Hejaz cell that carried out the Khobar Towers bombing, in a sting operation in Beirut. Since being whisked away under the eyes of Lebanese Hezbollah, Mughassil has been in Saudi custody divulging details about who carried out the Khobar bombings and how they did it. According to a Saudi security official who spoke on condition of anonymity, Mughassil has provided information on the structure of the organization, its funders, its members and its covert links to the current Iranian leadership. Mughassil fingered Nimr as a leading fundraiser, recruiter and facilitator for Hezbollah al-Hejaz in Qatif and Bahrain.

Prior to his execution, Nimr had been directly implicated in the shooting deaths of several Saudi police officers in late 2011, early 2012. Three of his young followers admitted that they had been inspired by Nimr’s teachings and directly encouraged by him when they attended a “diwaniya” (gathering) in his home village of Awamiya, in Qatif. Nimr and the three accused killers were subsequently arrested. Convicted of several acts of murder by Saudi courts, they are the four Shiites the kingdom executed.

Perhaps Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan best summed up the mood in Saudi Arabia and most of the Muslim world when he said, “The same people who keep silent during mass killings are now trying to stir up the world over the execution of one person. Four hundred thousand [Syrian] people have been killed … You can never justify yourselves.” Executions like those carried out Jan. 2 will continue as Saudi Arabia attempts to defend itself against terrorists. Mughassil, whose horrific crimes will eventually be made public, will most likely be among those executed. In time, such revelations may come as an embarrassment to the Barack Obama administration, which given the Iranian nuclear deal, seems much more concerned about legacy building than prosecuting Tehran-backed terrorists who have taken countless American lives.

(Source / 26.01.2016)

Fighting jihad for Israel

Article of 22 Jul 2014

Foreign fighters drawn from Europe and the US contribute to Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Around 5,000 Jews carry the title "Lone Soldier" given to volunteers from abroad, writes Hanine Hassan [EPA]

Around 5,000 Jews carry the title “Lone Soldier” given to volunteers from abroad, writes Hanine Hassan

Her name is Katie. She is from the Netherlands, and chose to serve in the Israeli navy instead of remaining in her country.

Will her government label her and the rest of the hundreds of Dutch youth serving in the Israeli military as jihadstrijders (jihad fighters), the name given to the hundred or so that went to Syria? Katie, a Dutch-
Israeli dual citizen, is after all a jihadist in occupied Palestinian lands.

Israel’s genocidal campaign in the Gaza Strip is entering its second week. The death toll has risen to more than 600, with thousands more injured and displaced – alongside arbitrary arrests, the demolition of family homes and a policy of apartheid towards Palestinians both in the West Bank and within the state of Israel. What’s more, these war crimes are directly supported by the recruits from Europe and the United States that land at Ben Gurion airport throughout the year.

The notion of Europeans and Americans serving in the Israeli army isn’t new.

Before the creation of the state of Israel, thousands of western volunteers were recruited by the Zionist movement – in a process named Mahal or volunteers from abroad to take part in Zionist military operations in Palestine during the British Mandate.

In the 1948 war, as many as 4,000 World War II veterans from the US, Canada and Europe carried out military operations against Palestinians, serving the Zionist project with their expertise in warfare, artillery, naval and aerial combat.

A bigger role than fighting

Within the historical context of western support for the Zionist project, it wasn’t the number of Mahal combatants that was significant. The role of foreign recruits was to be found in the political and demographic transformation of Palestine.

The late Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, later attributed the successful outcome of the war to the support of foreign fighters: “They came to us when we most needed them, during those hard and uncertain days of our 1948 war of independence.”

In supporting and developing Israel’s military power, these western recruits deliberately contributed to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian towns, the dispossession and depopulation of Palestinian communities, and the massacres inflicted on them.

But Mahal recruitment did not end with the creation of the Israeli state. It continues to this day.

Thousands of volunteers, from more than 40 countries, stream to Israel  to serve in all branches of the Israeli military – many in combat units. The online Mahal recruitment programme ostensibly aims to “defend” Israel and strengthen the connection of these volunteers to the Israeli military. Non-Israeli nationals of Jewish descent can join the ranks of the armed forces for an 18-month tour and be in the same front-line combat units as Israeli conscripts, including those operating in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Support groups

Around 100 British nationals are currently serving in the Israeli army. It’s a significant number. British mothers even have support groups to exchange experiences of having a child serving in the Israeli military.

In 2009, Baron Ahmed of Rotherham asked Britain’s House of Lords, the UK parliament’s upper chamber, whether any British citizens were serving in the Israeli military or its reserves.

Lord Malloch-Brown, minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,responded, “Other than press reports, the UK government does not possess information about whom the Israeli government have called up to serve in the Israel Defense Forces or the Israeli Defense Reserves, including any dual nationals. Only the Israeli government would have this information… Anybody who has broken the fourth protocol of the Geneva Convention deserves to meet justice in some court or another.” So much for the oversight of the British intelligence and security services.

In April 2014, a British parliamentary report outlined – in 246 pages – counterterrorism approaches towards British Muslims fighting in Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan. Nowhere did it mention the threat of indoctrinated British citizens returning home from serving in the Israeli military. Nor did it mention that serving in an occupying army remains a crime in violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870, which criminalises British citizens who serve in the armed forces of another country.

Recruitment

The Mahal network spans the globe. Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli were two US citizens enlisted in the Israeli military. They were taking part in the Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip which resulted in the deaths of at least 70 Palestinian civilians in Shujayea when they came under fire. The US State Department announced their deaths on July 20. And yet recruitment continues.

In May 2014, the Israeli embassy in Paris informed the local Jewish community of the arrival of a representative of the military who would give a lecture on their recruitment policies, “followed by a question and answer session”.

In November 2013, a Ukrainian citizen that had served for six years in the Israeli army stated nonchalantly on a Ukrainian television show that she had killed Palestinian children with full immunity from European and Ukrainian law – since Israeli law does not apply when Palestinian children are killed.

Approximately 5,000 Jews carry the title “Lone Soldier” – given in Israel to volunteers from abroad, new immigrants or orphans who have served in the Israeli army. Lone soldiers receive special rights and benefits, such as financial assistance, help with housing and time to visit family abroad.

In May 2014, the Tel Aviv Lone Soldier Center, where lone soldiers can relax and unwind together, was opened thanks to funding from a Dutch NGO named Israel Actie, which is affiliated to the Amsterdam Sar-El branch. Sar-El are civilian volunteer groups who undertake non-combat work for the Israeli military. Jews, non-Jews, and non-Israelis – eligible from the age of 16 – can volunteer their time, money and efforts, wearing army uniforms, to reinforce the Israeli military.

It is represented in more than 30 countries and hundreds of volunteers join each year.

Israel is applying outright treachery in its recruitment of young Jews worldwide, through tens of programmes. Israel Experience is a Zionist project that aims to create new allies for Israel. It targets western youngsters from the age of 13, recruiting them for what appears at first to be a programme of fun and amusement. But these children end up in a simulation, spending between one and six weeks exposed to guns, reproducing military manoeuvres and receiving “educational” classes on Zionism and the Israeli military.

Entertainment also features on the side. These indoctrinated children are then sent back to their parents and countries as advocates to justify occupation, apartheid and the defence of Israel at all costs. Israeli recruitment programmes have different dimensions but one and the same goal: the strengthening of the Israeli army and the networks of the state’s mindless supporters.

Complicit in war crimes

The power dynamics of European countries is a game of constant duplicity. Western intelligence services turn a blind eye to citizens that decide to wear the Israeli military’s uniforms and occupy Palestinian lands and resources, and commit war crimes in violation of international law.

Apparently, in the eyes of Israel and its western allies, having Jewish roots is adequate justification to defend an illegal occupation of territories – while it is unacceptable for Palestinians to resist the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements and theft of land and water resources. In its recent offensive on Gaza, Israeli troops have shown no respect for human lives and have breached the laws of armed conflict, indiscriminately attacking civilians and targeting civilian homes and institutions.

There are many faces to the Israeli occupation, some of which are well-known, and some of which are hidden. The indirect reinforcement of the Israeli army with European and American soldiers is one such opaque form of complicity.

If European leaders are serious about preventing international fighters crossing their borders, or returning home with weapons training and a grudge to bear, they should pay equal attention to all European fighters taking part in conflicts across the Middle East. European governments have a moral duty towards Palestinians. They have to stop the flow of European killers deliberately involved in crimes against humanity.

Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into an experimental laboratory for its high-tech weapon industry and chemicals. It is the obligation of the international community to sanction Israel, and enforce a military embargo in light of the Israeli violations of human rights.

(Source / 26.01.2016)

Israeli official: War on Gaza is a ‘matter of time’

Yair Lapid, head of the Israeli party Yesh Atid

Yair Lapid, head of the Israeli party Yesh Atid

Yair Lapid, head of the Israeli party Yesh Atid, warned yesterday that the deteriorating situation on the Gaza front would lead to a new “confrontation”, QudsNet reported.

“The upcoming confrontation with Gaza is a matter of time, not more,” he said, noting that Hamas and Hezbollah are preparing for this “battle” .

“At the time we are sitting here, there are a 1,000 people digging tunnels in Gaza. Some of them crossed the underground border towards Israel.”

“In Lebanon,” Lapid claimed, “there are 100,000 rockets pointed towards us. When the war starts, the world will say: why? The world has to remember that Hamas and Hezbollah are the aggressors, not us.”

(Source / 26.01.2016)

Army Kidnaps Three Palestinians In Ramallah And Jerusalem

The Israeli army has kidnapped, Tuesday, three Palestinians, including a former political prisoner, in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Kidnapping 260116

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers installed a sudden roadblock, near the main entrance of Beit Rima town, northwest of Ramallah, stopped and searched many cars, and kidnapped one Palestinian, identified as Bassam Mteir Rimawi, 33.

Rimawi is a former political prisoner, who was held by Israel for more than two years.

In addition, the soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian, identified as Ahmad Manasra, in the Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem, the soldiers kidnapped Shadi Ghorab, in Bab al-‘Amoud area, and took him to an interrogation facility.

On Tuesday at dawn, the soldiers invaded Azzoun and Kafr Thulth villages, east of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, and kidnapped two Palestinians.

(Source / 26.01.2016)

Israeli PM accuses UN’s top official of encouraging terro

Netanyahu criticises Ban Ki Moon after the UN Secretary General said it was ‘human nature’ for oppressed people to react to occupation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday accused the UN chief of “encouraging terror” after Ban Ki-moon said he could understand Palestinian frustration at Israel’s occupation and that it was natural to resist.

“The comments of the UN Secretary General encourage terror,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “There is no justification for terror.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Ban told the Security Council of the “profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people” in the upsurge of violent attacks against Israelis since the start of October, according to a UN statement.

“Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process,” he said.

“As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.”

Violence since 1 October has killed 159 Palestinians and 25 Israelis, as well as an American and an Eritrean, according to an AFP count.

Most of the Palestinians killed since October have been attackers, while others have been shot dead by Israeli forces during protests and clashes.

In his comments, Ban condemned the Palestinian attacks, but said Israeli settlement building cast doubt on Israel’s commitment to the goal of an independent Palestine alongside Israel.

“Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community,” he said. “They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu responded that the Palestinians themselves were not working for two states.

“The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state, they want to destroy a state and they say it out loud,” he said.

“They want to murder Jews wherever they are and they say so out loud. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.”

(Source / 26.01.2016)

Syrian Coalition: De Mistura Diluting Expectations for Political Process by Insisting on Talks, Not Negotiations in Geneva

Member of the Syrian Coalition Burhan Ghalioun said that UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura is diluting expectations from the Geneva conference by insisting the UN will be hosting talks rather than negotiations.

“Clearly there will be no negotiations between the opposition and the Assad regime to achieve a specific goal, but rather a Syrian forum under the auspices of the UN envoy will convene at the expense of the main issue. Thus, there will be neither accountability nor transition towards democracy but talks and endless discussions,” Ghalioun added.

“The sole goal of the upcoming Geneva meeting is to brief Mr. De Mistura so that he can re-draft specific points bearing in mind with international pressure exerted by various powers before submitting these points to the UN Security Council. De Mistura’s only guidelines in this mission are the four points proposed earlier by the Iranians, which are aimed at preserving the Assad regime and their influence in Syria,” he stressed.

Ghalioun went on to say that “the informal talks that De Mistura will host in Geneva assume that the problem is not in the Assad regime, but between Syrians themselves. This approach will not only exempt the Assad regime from responsibility for the crisis, but will also present the regime as the only salvation for a community that is fragmented and divided. Likewise, Tehran will appear as a guarantor of Syria’s unity after it was the dynamite that blew it apart.”

“We live in a time where things are turned upside down; a criminal becomes the victim and the victim becomes the executioner, all this behind takes place a veneer of affable but false talk about a political solution, peace and reconciliation,” Ghalioun added.

Vice-president Hisham Marwa stressed that “Russian allegations that there are “terrorists” in the opposition’s negotiating delegation aim to discredit the delegation and disrupt the political process. Russia, meanwhile, has not interfered or even commented on the regime’s negotiating delegation.”

“The ball is now in the court of the Assad regime, its allies and Mr. de Mistura, who is expected to pressure them to implement the commitments they have made. This represents the most basic duty de Mistura has as an intermediary for the negotiation process and also as an international envoy. Wriggling out of the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the relevant international resolutions will not resolve the bloody Syrian conflict,” Marwa added.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 26.01.2016)