Archive | August 20th, 2011

IOF Continue Their Offensive on the Gaza Strip; 6 Palestinians Killed and 9 Others Wounded

PDate: 20 August 2011alestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Release

Time: 12:20 GMT


 IOF Continue Their Offensive on the Gaza Strip; 6 Palestinians Killed and 9 Others Wounded


Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued their offensive on the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive day.  They have escalated attacks against civilian targets and have targeted a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance.  As a result of attacks by IOF in the past 24 hours, 6 Palestinians, including a physician and a child, have been killed, and 8 civilians, including two children and a woman, and a resistance activist have been wounded.  Thus, the number of Palestinians who have been killed by IOF since Thursday evening, 18 August 2011, have mounted to 12, while 32 others, including 8 women, 9 children and 3 police officers, have been wounded.  Some civilian property and facilities have been also heavily damaged.


According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR):


At approximately 12:35 on Friday, 19 August 2011, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired two missiles at a training site of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), known as Bader site, in the northwest of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.  It fired a third missile at the beach.  It then fired a fourth missile at a car in al-Shamali area in al-Shati refugee camp in the west of Gaza City, but it went astray and the passenger were able to flee out of the car.  No casualties were reported.


At approximately 15:50 on the same day, an Israeli drone attacked two activists of Nasser Saladin Brigades (the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committee), who were traveling on a 3-wheel motorcycle near Malaka intersection in the east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  One of the activists, Mohammed Fayez Mahmoud ‘Enaya, 22, from Gaza City, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body, while the other one was seriously wounded. 


At approximately 17:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance near al-Wafa Hospital in the east of Gaza City.  As a result, two children living in the area were seriously wounded by shrapnel throughout their bodies: Ibrahim ‘Adnan al-Zaza, 14; and Mohammed ‘Aatef al- Zaza.      


Also at approximately 17:30, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a space area near Hassanain brick factory in al-Sourani Mount area in al-Tuffah neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.


At approximately 18:00, an Israeli drone fired a missile at an activist of the Palestinian resistance who was riding a motorcycle in Quliabo Hill area to the east of Sheikh Zayed town in the northern Gaza Strip.  The activists was instantly killed by shrapnel throughout the body.  He was identified as Samed ‘Abdul Mo’ti ‘Aabed, 25, from the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya.


At approximately 19:00, an Israeli drone attacked a number of Palestinians near Dr. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al-Rantissi Hospital in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.


At approximately 19:10, IOF positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east of Gaza City fired an artillery shell at a number of Palestinians in al-Mansoura Street in al-Shoja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.


At approximately 20:30, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance in the east of ‘Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis.  No casualties were reported.


At approximately 20:45, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at two activists of the Palestinian resistance who were traveling on a motorcycle on the road linking between al-Boreij and al-Maghazi refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip.  The two activists were instantly killed.  They were identified as: Anwar Hassan Saleem, 23; and ‘Emad Fareed Abu ‘Aabda, 23, both from al-Boreij refugee camp.


At approximately 21:55, Israeli tanks positioned at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Khan Yunis, fired 4 shells at ‘Abassan village.  The shells landed on agricultural areas, but no casualties were reported.


At approximately 22:45, an Israeli warplane bombarded a training site of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  No casualties were reported.


At approximately 22:50, an Israeli drone attacked 3 Palestinians, including a child, who were traveling on a motorcycle in Jamal Abdul Nasser Street in the west of Gaza City.  The three Palestinians were killed: Munther Bassem Hamdan Quraiqe’, 32, a physician; Mo’taz Bassem Quraiqe’, 29, a leader of al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad); and Islam, 2, the latter’s child.  The victims are all from al-Shoja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.  They were on their way back home when they were attacked.  Additionally, 5 bystanders, including a woman, were wounded, and a car was damaged.   


At approximately 23:00, Israeli warplanes bombarded a 150-square-meter barrack belonging to Najia Mohammed Abu Zarifa at ‘Abassan road in the east of Khan Yunis.  The barrack was destroyed and a nearby carwash shop belonging to ‘Ammar ‘Ali Abu Daqqa and a house were damaged, 


At approximately 00:00 on Saturday, 20 August 2011, Hussein Mahmoud al-Najjar received a phone call from the Israeli intelligence, in which he was ordered to vacate his 130-square-meter, two-storey house in the east of Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis.  Al-Najjar and his family immediately vacated the house.  Five minutes later, Israeli warplanes fired a missile at the house.  The missile hit the western part of the basement, but did not explode.  Ten minutes later, Israeli warplanes fired another missile, which hit a nearby sheep farm belonging to Suleiman Mohammed Shnainu and damaged a nearby house.  It is worth noting that al-Najjar’s house was attacked by an Israeli drone on 24 March 2011.


At approximately 00:20, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a space area in al-Shouka village, east of Rafah.  As a result, Anwas Younis al-Sheikh ‘Eid, 26, was wounded by shrapnel throughout the body. 


At approximately 03:35, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of activists of the Palestinian resistance in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis.  No casualties were reported. 


PCHR strongly condemns these crimes, and:


1)   Stresses that targeting houses, densely-populated areas and civilian targets reflects IOF’s disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, and warns of more escalation of crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property in light of statements and threats launched by Israeli political and military leaders, which will bring about more victims in the Gaza Strip;


2)   Points out that crimes committed by IOF constitutes acts or reprisal and collective punishment in violation of Article 33 of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War; and

3)   Believes that the failure of the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to effectively act to stop crimes committed by IOF serves to encourage Israel and IOF to commit more crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property.  The legal protection provided by the United States to Israel, and deliberate obstruction of the application of international humanitarian law, in addition to the conspiracy of silence practiced by European States towards crimes committed against Palestinian civilians do not only place Israel above the international humanitarian law, but also encourage it to unrestrictedly commit more crimes against Palestinian civilians. 




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Nazi Terrorist in Gaza


Graphic image! This is what Zio-Nazi did to 5 year old Palestinain child, Islam, yesterday when he was targeted by Nazi drones while on the back of his father’s motorcyle! Is his the face of a terrorist?! No, but his charred corpse IS the result of an act of terrorism! Zio-Nazi terrorism! Nazi Zionist is out of control. It acts without impunity and without a shred of humanity.

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Be with the people of Palestine and all innocents world wide.

reported from Gaza by a resident:

The IsraHell strikes were launched just hours after a series of deadly attacks near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, which killed eight Israelis in an operation Israel blamed on the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees.

Shortly after the attacks on a desert road, IsraHell attacked targets in southern Gaza, killing six — including four top PRC militants and a two-year-old boy.

The group vowed bitter revenge and on Friday claimed responsibility for firing two Grad rockets toward the port city of Ashkelon and seven mortars at an army post near the southernmost point of the IsraHell-Gaza border, close to Egypt.

On Friday, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also vowed that IsraHell’s attacks would not pass without “punishment and revenge.”

The Abu Ali Mustapha brigades called for unity and resolve in the face of the attacks in a statement received by Ma’an.

Overnight, the Israeli air force staged seven raids, hitting two training camps for the armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, as well as Palestinian security posts, medics said.

Nazi military confirmed the raids, saying it had targeted a weapons manufacturing site, two smuggling tunnels, a “terror tunnel” and several other sites in the wake of the desert attacks and the rocket fire on southern Israel.

“The Israeli Defense Forces will not tolerate any malicious attempt to harm Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers, and will not hesitate to respond with strength and determination to any element that uses terror against the State of Israel and until calm is restored,” it said in a statement.

It also blamed the bloodshed on Gaza’s Hamas rulers, who had on Thursday denied any connection to the coordinated attacks near Eilat.

“The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organisation solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip.”

Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported, meanwhile, that two Egyptian policemen were killed on Thursday when an IsraHell plane fired a rocket near the border at militants it was tracking after the deadly desert attacks.

The incident took place near the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, the agency quoted a military official as saying.

“An Israeli plane was pursuing infiltrators on the other side of the border until they reached Rafah and fired at them. There were several Central Security members there and they were hit by the gunfire,” the official told MENA.

State television reported that the two police conscripts were killed southwards from Rafah near Taba, roughly 12 kilometers from the IsraHell town of Eilat close to the site of the attacks.

The IsraHell military has not immediately commented on the reports.


Video showing #Palestinians moving bodies in #Gaza – warning graphic images

Palestine is Still the Issue : The projection bias of Zio-Nazi war crime apologism

Protests outside Zio-Nazi Embassy in Cairo -stating Zio-Nazi Ambassador has to leave.

Victims of Nazi Bombardment

Ab-A$$ calls from emergency UNSC session over Gaza strikes.

Breaking news : Palestinian Ministry of Interior asked Palestinians not to answer phone calls from unknown telephone numbers! The ministry said that Gazans were blackmailed on phone by Zio-Nazi security agents and were asked to choose either to work as Nazi collaborators or bombing their houses…

An activist reported : Actually, during Gaza Holocust they had indeed obtained many phone numbers from Paltel and almost all phones had received SMS text messages telling them to turn in people to spare themselves.

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Egypt withdraws ambassador from IsraHell



The Egyptian Cabinet says it has decided to withdraw its ambassador from Israel over the deaths of Egyptian security forces in fighting after an ambush targeting Israelis near the border between the two countries.

The Cabinet statement issued early Saturday says the ambassador will be withdrawn until Israel investigates the shooting deaths of five Egyptian security forces.

The decision comes after Egypt’s official news agency blamed the Israelis for shooting and killing the five while chasing militants who killed eight Israelis in Thursday’s ambush across the border in southern Israel.

The Israeli military promised to investigate.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt registered an official complaint with Israel Friday over the deaths of five of its soldiers in fighting after an ambush targeting Israelis near the border between the two countries as tensions spiked between the two formerly staunch allies.

Retaliatory violence between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas also escalated Friday in the aftermath of the deadliest attack against Israelis in three years. Israeli airstrikes killed at least 12 Palestinians, most of them militants, in the Gaza Strip, and six Israelis were wounded when Palestinians fired rockets into southern Israel.

Egypt’s official news agency blamed an Israeli fighter jet for shooting and killing four Egyptian soldiers and one policeman while chasing militants who killed eight Israelis in Thursday’s ambush in southern Israel.

An Israeli military officer said a suicide bomber, not Israeli soldiers, killed the Egyptian security forces. He said the attacker had fled back across the border into Egypt and detonated his explosives among the Egyptian troops. He spoke on condition of anonymity according to military regulations. Israeli media reported that some of the sniper fire directed at the Israeli motorists Thursday came from near Egyptian army posts and speculated that the Egyptian troops were killed in the cross fire.

It was not possible to reconcile the different versions.

“There was an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and terrorists on the Egyptian border following the deadly terror attack Thursday morning. We are investigating this matter thoroughly and will update the Egyptians,” the Israeli military said.

Thursday’s attack signaled a new danger for Israel from its border with the Sinai Peninsula, an area that has always been restive but was kept largely under control by former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. The desert area has become increasingly lawless since Mubarak was ousted on Feb. 11 following a popular uprising.

The violence also threatened to further damage ties between the two countries if Egypt’s political upheaval and a resulting power vacuum in Sinai allows Gaza militants, who had been pummeled by a punishing Israeli three-week war 2½ years ago, to open a new front against Israel in the frontier area.

Relations between the two countries have been chilly since they made peace in 1979, but Israel valued Mubarak as a source of stability with shared interests in containing Iran and its radical Islamic proxies in the region.

Anger rose after Egyptian officials said Thursday’s gunbattles killed five Egyptian security personnel. An Egyptian security official said three died Thursday and two others died of wounds on Friday.

Egyptian protesters staged demonstrations after Friday prayers in front of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, and politicians echoed the populist line.

“Israel and any other (country) must understand that the day our sons get killed without a strong and an appropriate response, is gone and will not come back,” wrote Amr Moussa, former Arab League chief and now a presidential hopeful. He tweeted his statement along with, “the blood of our martyrs which was spilled while carrying out their duties, will not be shed in vain.”

Gunmen crossed the border from Egypt on Thursday and set up an ambush along a 300-yard (meter) strip, armed with automatic weapons, grenades and suicide bomb belts, the Israeli military said.

They opened fire on a civilian bus heading toward the Red Sea resort city of Eilat, hitting a number of passengers, then riddled another passing bus and two cars with bullets and rigged a roadside bomb that detonated under an army jeep rushing to the scene. At the same time, Palestinian mortar gunners in Gaza opened fire at soldiers along the Gaza-Israel border fence.

The assailants killed eight people, six civilians and two Israeli troops responding to the incursion. Israel said it killed seven assailants.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, praised the attacks but denied any involvement. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence coming from the Palestinian territory and retaliated by striking the group.

“This is a response to the terror attacks executed against Israel in the last 24 hours,” the military said.

Israeli aircraft struck several targets in Gaza, killing five Palestinian militants late Thursday and five more on Friday, including a senior member of the Islamic Jihad, according to Palestinian hospital officials. Two civilians were also reported dead.

One of the rockets launched from Gaza Friday smashed through a roof of a Jewish seminary, damaging a synagogue in the port city of Ashdod and wounding six Israelis who were standing outside, Israeli emergency services said. Another hit an empty school while a third, aimed at the city of Ashkelon, was intercepted by the new Israeli anti-missile system known as Iron Dome.

A senior Israeli military officer who briefed reporters by phone said at least 15 Palestinians from Gaza took part in the assault. He also spoke on condition of anonymity according to military regulations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited some of the wounded in the hospital Friday. “We killed the head of the group that sent the terrorists, but this is just an initial response,” he said. “We have a policy to extract a very heavy price from those that attack us and that policy is being implemented in the field.”

Israel said the attackers had come from Gaza and made their way into neighboring Sinai and from there into Israel. The attack was the deadliest for Israel since a Palestinian gunman killed eight people in a Jerusalem religious seminary in 2008.

Israeli aircraft hit multiple targets in Gaza, the military said. Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Adham Abu Salmia said at least four militants were killed and a dozen injured Friday.

One strike hit a motorcycle carrying senior militants from the Palestinian group Israel says is behind Thursday’s violence. Another five militants including the group’s leader were killed Thursday night.

At the United Nations, diplomats said that Lebanon blocked the Security Council during a closed meeting on Friday from condemning the terrorist attacks in southern Israel. The United States had circulated a draft press statement to the council, which requires the support of all 15 council nations.

“We think the council needs to speak out on this issue,” said the U.S. deputy ambassador, Rosemary DiCarlo. “We find it regrettable that because of one delegation we couldn’t issue that in a timely way.”

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, told reporters he wanted the council to take a more balanced approach by condemning the Israeli retaliatory strikes against Gaza that not only caused casualties but also destroyed an electrical generator plunging Gaza into darkness during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“It is very unfortunate that the Security Council was unable to reach a common understanding in a balanced way to condemn the killing of all innocent civilians, including those in the Gaza Strip, and to call for the immediate cessation of the intensification of attacks against our people in Gaza,” he said.

Posted in Egypt1 Comment

Get ready for more stupid Mideast violence


If memory serves, one of the lessons of Roger Fisher’s little book International Conflict for Beginnerswas “settle conflicts early and often.” This isn’t always possible, of course, but his basic insight was that unresolved conflicts are dangerous precisely because they provide opportunities that extremists can exploit, they harden perceptions and images on both sides, and most importantly, they can always get worse. So when a promising opportunity to settle a conflict arises, wise leaders should pursue them energetically.

I thought of that insight when I heard about the attack in Israel yesterday, which  left eight Israelis dead and some thirty wounded. The perpetrators are reportedly Gazans who took advantage of Egypt’s present turmoil to cross the lightly guarded Egyptian-Israeli border, and the killings themselves are a reprehensible act that will bring no good to anyone. Just as Operation Cast Lead was both immoral and strategically foolish, this latest act of violence — though on a smaller scale — was equally misguided and morally bankrupt.

However one sees this situation, a key point to keep in mind is that this sort of thing isn’t going to stop as long as the occupation and the siege of Gaza persists, and as long as one people has a state of their own and the other does not. If the situation were magically reversed and a million-plus Israelis were being kept in the same condition as the Gazans, I’d be astonished if some of them didn’t try to take up arms against whomever was oppressing them. And I’ll bet Commentary magazine would think that such actions would be perfectly okay. That thought-experiment doesn’t justify the murder of innocents, mind you, but it may help us understand where such deplorable actions come from.

The usual response by partisans of each side is to blame the other for all the trouble, but in reality there is plenty of blame to go around. Israel’s occupation is illegal, unjustified, and relies on brutal coercion to continue, and its current government is more interested in expanding settlements than in pursuing reasonable opportunities for genuine peace. The Palestinian people have been repeatedly betrayed by their own leaders’ blunders, by supposedly sympathetic Arab states that have frequently sought to exploit their plight (or worse), and by extremists who seem to think killing a few more Israelis will somehow advance their quest for statehood. In truth, both sides have done a good job of “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” which is one reason why the conflict remains unresolved to this day.

In such a situation, one might hope that outside powers would use their influence to bring the conflict to a close, out of their own self-interest. It is hardly good for the United States to be perennially distracted by this issue, or to have its regional image tarnished and its diplomacy complicated by its one-sided position. Nearly twenty years ago, the Oslo agreements seemed to provide an opportunity to end the conflict once-and-for-all, except that the United States proved to be a hopelessly inept steward of the “peace process.” And as Fisher might have warned, it’s just gotten worse. Remember that Hamas did not have a lot of popular support when the Oslo process began, but its popularity increased when Oslo failed to deliver and Fatah’s corruption became more apparent. Meanwhile, Israeli politics has drifted steadily rightward, making any sort of territorial compromise less and less likely. Given where we are today, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a “do-over” of the 1990s? Alas, that sort of replay is a mere fantasy.

To repeat: yesterday’s attack was morally wrong and strategically foolish. But until more people start thinking outside the box on this one — and demanding that political leaders think differently too — you can be confident that we’ll see more of the same — by both sides — in the future. And the danger of a larger explosion will grow.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Get ready for more stupid Mideast violence

Palestinians say Gaza under major Nazi assault


Air Force strikes numerous sites in Strip overnight, Palestinian sources say; Hamas targets hit, casualties reported. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority warns Israel to act ‘responsibly’ in wake of terror offensive that left eight Israelis dead

Gaza under attack: The Air Force launched a wave of assaults in Gaza early Friday according to Palestinian sources, targeting numerous sites within the Strip in the wake of a terror offensive in southern Israel that left eight people dead Thursday.

Earlier, Israeli aircraft killed the terror masterminds behind the multipronged offensive that targeted a bus, civilian cars and IDF soldiers near Eilat.

According to Palestinian reports early Friday, the Air force struck a home in Gaza City located near the former Palestinian intelligence headquarters. The attack reportedly caused a large fire in the area, leaving one boy dead and wounding up to 17 people.

Elsewhere, Israeli aircraft reportedly fired three missiles at a Hamas security forces building in Gaza City. In a third strike, at least one missile was fired at an open area in a town located in the southern part of the Strip. No casualties were reported in the strike.

According to the reports pouring in from Gaza, the Air Force also struck several targets in the northern Strip, including a Hamas military wing building.

Palestinian sources added that the Air Force bombed yet another outpost belonging to Hamas’ military wing in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. Eyewitnesses reported loud explosions at the site of the attack,

Later at night, the Palestinians said that the Air Force struck several more targets around the Philadelphi route. The army was believed to have targeted smuggling tunnels in the strike.

The explosions in Gaza were clearly heard in southern Israel communities as well, with many local residents reporting the blasts to Ynet via the Red Email. Southern resident Shani wrote: “I just heard three explosions reminiscent of what we hear when mortar shells land here…I don’t know what’s going on.”

Palestinians warn Israel

Senior Fatah official Saeb Erekat warned Israel Thursday night against ‘irresponsible’ retaliation in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the terror offensive in southern Israel earlier in the day.

“We are warning Israel not to launch an offensive or impose collective punishment against the civilian population,” the senior Palestinian official said.

Erekat added that the Palestinian Authority objects to any kind of violence, which he said does not serve the Palestinian interest or the Palestinian people’s aspiration for freedom and independence.

The top PA official also stressed that the Palestinians will not accept an Israeli attempt to use the terror offensive in the south in order to undertake belligerent acts against the Gaza Strip.

Earlier Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that “Israel will exact a heavy price from terror chiefs” in the wake of the terror offensive.

“I have decided on a principle – when you hurt Israeli citizens we respond immediately and with force. This principle was implemented today,” he said in a televised address. “The people who gave the orders to murder our citizens and then hid in Gaza are no longer among us.”

Netanyahu commended the IDF and Shin Bet for a Gaza strike carried out earlier, which killed six people in Rafah, among them two top leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees.

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D-Day for Damascus?



Call for regime change signals Libya replay

Justin Raimundo

Amid the outcry over the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters, and now President Obama’sdemand that dictator Bashar al-Assad step down, the “world community” is not in the mood for nuance. Yet nuance is precisely what is needed in what has to be one of the most delicate – and complex – socio-political landscapes in the Middle East.

The media narrative, as always, pits Good Guys (the protesters) against Bad Guys (the regime), but reality is rarely so simple and clear-cut, and in this case that caveat needs to be doubly emphasized. We are told all the violence is being visited by one side (the regime) against the other (the protesters), but the International Crisis Group – no friend of the regime, and hardly a principled opponent of US intervention – has a different perspective in their report on the crisis:

“Protesters claim they are entirely peaceful, but that assertion is hard to reconcile with witness testimony and with the vicious murder of several security officers. More plausibly, criminal networks, some armed Islamist groups, elements supported from outside and some demonstrators acting in self defense have taken up arms.”

The report goes on to say “but that is a marginal piece of the story,” telling us that “the vast majority of casualties have been peaceful protesters, and the vast majority of the violence has been perpetrated by the security services.” Yet this doesn’t tell us anything about the character of the violence on the part of the “Good Guys”: is it organized violence, or random incidents? Are the protesters engaged in a campaign of organized provocation, seeking to incite the regime to higher levels of violence in order to justify foreign intervention? 

In understanding what is going on in Syria, the reporting of Joshua Landis, who blogs at “Syria Comment,” is invaluable. Landis is director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, where he is an associate professor, currently living in Syria. While the Western media glosses over reports of violence by the protesters, Landis is in a position to report the actual facts, and he hasdone so:

This controversy arose in April during the protests in Banyas, when nine soldiers were killed while traveling down the main highway in two transport vehicles outside of the city. Activists claimed that soldiers in Banyas were executed by fellow soldiers for refusing to shoot at demonstrators.

“This story turned out to be fictional, but was carried by most of the Western Press and never corrected. I wrote about this controversy on April 14 under the title: Western Press Misled – Who Shot the Nine Soldiers in Banyas? Not Syrian Security Forces. The reason I took an interest in this story is because my wife’s cousin, Lt. Col. Yasir Qash`ur, was one of the nine soldiers killed on April 10. We know him well. We spoke with Yasir’s brother-in-law, Colonel `Uday Ahmad, who was sitting in the back seat of the truck in which Yasir and several of the nine soldiers were killed.

“Uday told us that two military trucks were ambushed as they crossed a highway bridge by well armed men who were hiding behind the median of the highway and on the tops of buildings at the edge of the road. They raked the two trucks with automatic fire, killing nine. The incident had nothing to do with soldiers refusing orders. His description of what happened so contradicted the reports I was reading in the press that I began to dig around. Later video footage of the shooting surfaced and was shown on Syrian TV. It corroborated Uday’s story.”

Prof. Landis goes on to say that “Western press and analysts did not want to recognize that armed elements were becoming active. They preferred to tell a simple story of good people fighting bad people.” He reiterates the ICG’s evaluation that the majority of protesters were peaceful, and adds: “One only wonders why that story could not have been told without also covering the reality – that armed elements, whose agenda was not peaceful, were also playing a role.”

We don’t need to wonder. Reality is the enemy of the Western media, which insists on presenting its preconceived narrative as fact: and, of course, it’s just a coincidence this narrative fits in rather neatly with US government objectives and propaganda. 

Who are these armed groups, who is arming them, and what is their agenda? These are questions the “international community” is not at all interested in asking, let alone answering – perhaps because some of the governments now condemning the violence in Syria had a hand in provoking it.

Again, claims by the opposition and their Western supporters that some 100 Syrian military were killed in Jisr ash-Shaghour for refusing to fire on their fellow Syrians were repeated uncritically by Western media. As it turns out, however, those soldiers were killed by “armed gangs,” as the Syrian government calls them: Landis claims videos here and here seem to confirm this. One Syrian opposition activist, interviewed by CNN, admitted the truth:

One prominent anti-government activist, who asked not to be named because of the dangers that could arise from the release of the information, told CNN the state TV account was correct. The bodies are those of Syrian secret police killed by Syrian fighters from Iraq who have joined the anti-government fight, said the activist, who gets information about the goings-on in Syria from an extensive network of informants.”

Could these Syrians from Iraq conceivably be the very same fighters who were killing US soldiers, and have now turned their guns on the Syrian Ba’athists? This is a replay of the Libyan scenario, where the US/NATO-supported rebel faction contains strong Islamist elements, some of whom were actually involved in the Iraq fighting. 

This time, however, the stakes are much higher. What is happening to Syria is far more serious for the region than anything that could occur in Libya. I have written before about the horrific consequences if Syria should come apart at the seams: the horror would be quite bloody as far as the country’s religious minorities – Christians and members of the idiosyncratic Alawite sect – are concerned. Worse, a full-scale civil war in the geographic center of the Middle East’s most volatile sore spot – the “frontline” state of Syria, where the Israeli-Arab conflict is most explosive – has the potential for igniting a regional war, and even a world war if the conflict spirals out of control.

The timing of the present crisis, as it ratchets up to a climax with Obama’s call for regime change, poses a particular danger. With the Palestinians about to declare their independent state, and the UN ready to endorse it, the temptation to create some kind of diversion is likely to take hold of the Israeli leadership. Indeed, I would speculate it already has. Those “armed gangs” didn’t come out of nowhere, and it wouldn’t be the first time the Israelis demonstrated how far their reach extends inside Syria.

Syria’s ally, Iran, is the real target of what looks to me like a coordinated effort to sow chaos in the region: the idea is to draw the Iranians into a proxy war in support of the regime, and lay the groundwork for an all-out US-Israeli attack on Tehran. The encirclement of the Iranians is proceeding apace, with the Israelis on the front line, the Americans in IraqAfghanistan and, increasingly, Pakistan. With Israel’s powerful lobby in the US relentlessly demanding that Washington “do something” about the Iranians, and the growing deluge of phony “intelligence” supposedly proving they have an active nuclear weapons program, it seems like just a matter of time before the fuse is lit and the region explodes. Obama’s demand that Assad step down is a giant step forward on this road.

With typical mendacity, the President’s statement avers:

“The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community.”

Note, first of all, that the statement doesn’t pledge not to intervene – the author only claims to have “heard” about this “strong desire” for non-intervention on the part of the Syrian people. As to whether the Emperor will grant them their wish – or whether US covert action in the country has already rendered the point  moot – remains to be seen.

Secondly, the Americans know their call for Assad to step down, and the accompanying economic and diplomatic sanctions, will strengthen the Ba’athist position inside the country. The President’s statement isn’t aimed at the Syrian people, however, but at the other imperialist powers, the Brits and the French, our “multilateral” partners-in-crime who will be asked, when push comes to shove, to share in the responsibilities of policing their former colonies in Syria, and Libya.

The similarity of these two theaters of conflict is striking: Both are former European colonies saddled with secular dictatorships that claim to be “socialist,” and both feature an Islamist “democratic” opposition supported by the NATO/EU powers.

That the Assad forces hardly constitute an army of saints goes without saying: what needs to be said, however, is that the “democratic” rebels, so sympathetically portrayed in the Western media are not exactly the angels they’ve been made out to be. Yet even if they were, this is a judgement that only the Syrians can make: an Alawite or Christian Syrian can be understood, if not forgiven, for supporting a brutal regime out of fear of an Islamist takeover. 

The outbreak of civil war in Syria would be sure to bring in the “international community,” initially in the visible form of air support to the opposition, conceivably taking out the Syrian navy that shelledrebellious Latakia.   This will culminate in air   strikes against key military installations, including sites that supposedly harbor “weapons of mass destruction.” Indeed, there is enough cobbled-together “evidence,” of dubious provenance, to “prove” Syria tried to build a nuke to justify a US/NATO strike on that pretext. Or else they could declare another “humanitarian emergency,” as they did in Libya, claiming Assad is about to massacre 100,000 people. Perhaps it’s too soon to pull that one again.

In any case, the idea is to draw US/NATO forces into the very epicenter of the Middle East’s sectarian conflicts, where the religious passions of the three great world religions have clashed for thousands of years. There the “peacekeepers” will sit, policing the roughest neighborhood on earth, ensuring that each faction is properly mollified and controlled, and – not so incidentally – standing between the Israeli Sparta and the rising fury of its Palestinian helots.

Israel is the biggest beneficiary of this policy: a Lebanonized Syria is precisely what they want, producing as it will plenty of opportunities for expansionist incursions – in the name of their “war on terrorism.” A “Greater Israel” will emerge from the ashes of World War III, as if to confirm the “end times” prophecies in the Bible, hopping up the evangelicals-for-Israel crowd into a frenzy of war hysteria.

The Rev. John  Hagee and his fellow Christian heretics may be praying for the Apocalypse, but what about the rest of us?

Again, timing is everything in these matters: it’s no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that our new policy of Syrian regime change has been announced at this particular moment. That, after all, has been the real policy since day one of the protests. There may have been a change of administrations in Washington, but there was no change in practically nonexistent US-Syrian relations when Barack Obama came to town. Sanctions were increased, and the Syrian ambassador was ridiculed as a pariah among diplomats. Syria, one of the original “Axis of Evil,” has long been in Washington’s sights: regime change in Syria is yet another project of the Bush administration that has been taken up with renewed enthusiasm by the Obama-ites.

As I noted shortly after the 9/11 attacks:

“The dust had not yet cleared from the battered Manhattan skyline when Bill Kristol and his ‘Project for a New American Century’ sponsored a full-page newspaper ad in the form of a letter to the President, demanding that Bush invade not only Iraq, but also Syria and Iran if they don’t comply with all our demands. The letter is signed by every neoconservative known to man.”

In the years to come, PNAC would push for US intervention is virtually every nation in the Middle East, including Libya. This “liberal” Democratic president may yet completely fulfill PNAC’s agenda: right now he’s nearly halfway there. Given a second term, he’ll have ample opportunity to go all the way. There’s nothing like a world war to distract attention away from an economic depression – and provide somegood old Keynesian “stimulus” in the bargain.


I received a couple of letters complaining about my recent column on Paul Krugman and his deluded conception of war as an economic “stimulus.” To refresh your memory: according to Krugman, if the government perpetrated a hoax about an imminent invasion from outer space, and we built up an enormous defensive system against this nonexistent threat, it would lead us out of the depths of depression. I disputed this in my column, and received exactly two letters complaining that I hadn’t mentioned Krugman’s personal opposition to the war in Iraq, for example, and instead branded him a “warmonger.”

I’m glad this came up, because I should have mentioned it – in order to make the case that this is far worse than being an honest warmonger. For it inoculates Krugman against the charge while paving the way for the “real” warmongers to have their way: after all, they’ll say, even the “progressive” Krugman, who opposes the war on old-fashioned “moral” grounds, knows it will be good for the country. And that kind of message beamed at suffering Americans is much more insidious and dangerous than the usual neocon blather about “exporting democracy,” which nobody ever really believed anyway. If you can persuade people they can materially benefit from a war, you already have half the population – and it’s only a matter of time, in this frightening downturn, before the other half drops its moral pretensions and climbs on board the war-wagon.

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter


Fisk on Assad’s real worry (and it isn’t poor little Obama)

Posted: 19 Aug 2011


Obama roars. World trembles. If only.

Obama says Assad must “step aside”. Do we really think Damascus trembles? Or is going to? Indeed, the titan of the White House only dared to go this far after condemnation of Bashar al-Assad by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the EU and Uncle Tom Cobley and all (except, of course, Israel – another story). The terrible triplets – Cameron, Sarkozy and Merkel – did their mimicking act a few minutes later.

But truly, are new sanctions against Assad “and his cronies” – I enjoyed the “cronies” bit, a good old 1665 word as I’m sure Madame Clinton realised, although she was principally referring to Bashar’s businessman cousin Rami Makhlouf – anything more than the usual Obama hogwash? If “strong economic sanctions” mean a mere freeze on petroleum products of Syrian origin, the fact remains that Syria can scarcely produce enough oil for itself, let alone for export. A Swedish government agency recently concluded that Syria was largely unaffected by the world economic crisis – because it didn’t really have an economy.

Of course, in the fantasy of Damascus – where Bashar appears to live in the same “sea of quietness” in which the Egyptian writer Mohamed Heikel believes all dictators breathe – the world goes on as usual. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon – another earth-trembler if ever there was one – no sooner demands an “immediate” end to “all military operations and mass arrests”, than dear old Bashar tells him that “military and police action” has stopped.

Well, blow me down, as the Syrian population must now be saying. So what were all those reports coming in yesterday from Syria, of widespread gunfire in Latakia, of troops looting private property in the city, of a man arrested in his hospital bed in Zabadani, of snipers still on the rooftops of government buildings in Deir el-Zour? Crimes against humanity? Needless to say, the Syrian government knows nothing about this.

The real fear for Bashar is not oil sanctions but banks – especially the £12bn in foreign reserves that existed in Syria’s Central Bank in February, a sum which is now being depleted by around £50m a week. In May, Syria’s foreign minister – the mighty (physically) Walid Moallem – asked Baghdad for cheap Iraqi oil. Nearly 10 per cent of Syria’s banking deposits disappeared in the first four months of 2011; £1.8bn was withdrawn, some of it ending up in Lebanese banks.

Murdoch press success; discuss Palestine and BDS and ignore occupation

Posted: 19 Aug 2011

Yet another skillful effort today in Murdoch’s Australian. It ain’t easy being so clueless on the Middle East but the paper strives for a moral blindspot and achieves an own goal:

What concerns many people about the Max Brenner campaign, apart from the shadow of history, is that it is directed against something that, although foreign owned, is a legitimate legal business in this country. That it is a chocolate shop only underlines the tenuous nature of claims that it bears some responsibility for Israel’s military and human rights policies in the occupied territories.

“In a democratic society anybody should be allowed to protest, but I find it really distasteful that a Jewish business is being targeted in this way,” Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes says. “If people are upset about the handling of the Middle East process then fine, but why don’t they protest outside the Israeli embassy and direct their protest to the Israeli state rather than a Jewish business? If people do not like the policies of the Australian government, I wouldn’t expect there to be a protest outside the RM Williams store.”

But Samah Sabawi, spokeswoman for the advocacy group Australians for Palestine, defends the targeting of Max Brenner because it makes a greater impact than traditional protests.

“Standing outside an embassy is not always the most effective form of protest,” she says. “We live in a democratic society and we have a choice of different types of campaigns.”

The Max Brenner campaign in Australia is part of the global campaign known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, which seeks in part to boycott Israeli businesses as a means of pressuring Israel to improve its human rights record. The campaign in Australia involves a loose alliance of the radical Left, including greens, unions, socialists and Marxists, in addition to at least 14 separate pro-Palestinian groups.

Says Ted Lapkin, a conservative commentator and former employee of the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council: “What is wrong with providing care packages to Israeli soldiers who are defending their country against terrorists?”

The BDS movement likens itself to the boycott movement against the apartheid South African regime in the 1970s and 80s.

Veteran pro-Palestinian campaigner and former Palestinian envoy in Australia Ali Kazak says that during the anti-apartheid struggle, boycotts on South African businesses were considered to be legitimate weapon of protest. “South African Airways and other businesses were targeted, so if it was OK for the apartheid regime, why not for Israel?” It’s a connection deeply offensive to many in Australia’s Jewish community.

“The Israel-Palestinian conflict is a struggle between two nations, not a struggle for equality within one nation,” the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s executive director Peter Wertheim says.

“Within Israel all citizens, including Jews, Arabs and Druze, have the same voting and legal rights . . . Jews and Arabs use the same public transport, eat at the same restaurants, shop at the same malls and play in the same sports teams.

“The BDS [Max Brenner] campaign in Australia is not really about economic pressure, it’s about demonising and vilifying Israel.”

Union leader Howes says: “If they [anti-Israeli protesters] are trying to equate the campaign against apartheid in South Africa with a campaign against a Jewish chocolate shop, they’ve got rocks in their head.”

Wertheim says the common link between the anti-Jewish Nazi boycotts in the 30s and the present Max Brenner campaign in Australia is that “both are based on the calculated orchestration of hate”.

It is the historical echoes of the Nazi era and the refusal of the protest groups to recognise this, that makes the Max Brenner campaign so abhorrent not only to the Jewish community but also to many in the wider community.

A news article in The Weekend Australian last week, which outlined the positions of each side of the debate, was attacked by one BDS supporter, anti-Israeli Jewish blogger Antony Loewenstein, as being typical of “a paper that loves the smell of bombed Muslims in the morning”.

The organisers of the Max Brenner campaign maintain that it is political, not racist.

“We stress that the BDS movement is an anti-racist movement that rejects all forms of racism including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia . . . they do not target any particular religious or ethnic group,” says the coalition of pro-Palestinian groups.

It takes effort to discuss Israel/Palestine and ignore the reason BDS is taking off around the world. Political hacks can whinge in Australia as much as they want – mostly people who have enjoyed the largesse of Zionist lobby hospitality in Israel itself – but nobody wants to talk about what Israel is doing in Palestine; suppressing dissent and crushing Palestinian self-determination.That’s why civil disobedience is vital and soaring globally.

But not to worry; a few media whores can enjoy a hot chocolate at a shop that backs Israeli soldiers complicit in war crimes in the occupied territories.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



If 1.5 million Jews were locked up in Gaza, where would ‘Commentary’ be on violent resistance?

Aug 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

Steve Walt at Foreign Policy, “Get ready for more stupid Mideast violence.” Some great points, beginning with the idea that when leaders kick the can down the road on a difficult problem, it becomes intractable/terrifying. Think, American slavery, 1830-1861… Or, a Palestinian state, promised in 1947, undelivered for 8 decades, amidst ethnic cleansing… Walt:

If memory serves, one of the lessons of Roger Fisher’s little book International Conflict for Beginners was “settle conflicts early and often.” This isn’t always possible, of course, but his basic insight was that unresolved conflicts are dangerous precisely because they provide opportunities that extremists can exploit, they harden perceptions and images on both sides, and most importantly, they can always get worse...

However one sees this situation, a key point to keep in mind is that this sort of thing isn’t going to stop as long as the occupation and the siege of Gaza persists, and as long as one people has a state of their own and the other does not. If the situation were magically reversed and a million-plus Israelis were being kept in the same condition as the Gazans, I’d be astonished if some of them didn’t try to take up arms against whomever was oppressing them. And I’ll betCommentary magazine would think that such actions would be perfectly okay. That thought-experiment doesn’t justify the murder of innocents, mind you, but it may help us understand where such deplorable actions come from.

Here’s hoping that rightwing crazies’ support for Israel– Rick Perry!– will make liberal Jews do a reality check

Aug 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

I feel as if Rick Perry is the best thing that ever happened to the American Jewish relationship since the salad days of Paul Newman and Herman Wouk. The guy is so scary, who wants to be on his team? Ben Smith at Politico is jaundiced:

State Rep. Alan Clemmons… reports on Perry’s remarks today:

“If you’re our friend, we are with you. I’m talking about Israel. Come Hell or high water, we will be standing with you!” he said.

He said something similar on the stump at the Iowa State Fair, and it’s remarkable the degree to which this has become a standard Republican candidate line, and sometimes the only foreign policy line, to GOP audiences.

Glenn Beck’s pal and the ‘synagogue of Satan’

Aug 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

Eli Clifton reports on David Barton, the man funding much of the travel to Glenn Beck’s hoedown in Jerusalem, with tax-deductible donations (At the link, you can see a photo of Beck wearing a yarmulke.):

The travel will be paid for by WallBuilders, an organization founded by David Barton, a pseudo-historian and frequent Glenn Beck guest. Barton has a history of anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric, has spoken at events sponsored by anti-Semitic organizations, and promotes a revisionist history of the U.S. claiming that the “Church-state separation is a liberal myth.”

Beck’s partnership with WallBuilders is listed on the rally’s front page by clicking the “Donate” button which takes visitors to WallBuilders website. The site accepts contributions to the “Restoring Courage — Israel”…

David Barton’s record of intolerance and historical revisionism should offer some insights into who is funding Beck’s Jerusalem rally and which individuals have Beck’s ear. Back in 1994, the Anti-Defamation League had harsh words for Barton’s decision to appear at events hosted by the Christian Identity movement, a group the ADL said:

“Asserts that Jews are ‘the synagogue of Satan’; that Blacks and other people of color are subhuman; and that northern European whites and their American descendants are the ‘chosen people’ of scriptural prophesy.”

Barton denied knowing anything about the Christian Identity movement before his decision to speak at the group’s events.

White male pity pot

Aug 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

Gov. Haley Barbour, on Gov Rick Perry, at the Hill:

“I think Rick Perry has to get prepared for the fact that he’s gonna be nitpicked by the liberal media elite for everything he says and that he has to be very careful because everything that he says that can be taken out of context, will be taken out of context,” Barbour said Friday on MSNBC.

“When you are a conservative Christian Southerner Republican you have to expect that.” “My point is that Rick Perry, as a candidate for president, or Haley Barbour if I had run, or Mike Huckabee if he had run, every one of us has to be prepared to be nitpicked by the mainstream media, and so you’ve gotta run your campaign learning to avoid that,” Barbour continued.

Another Congressman uses attacks to say US must block Palestinian statehood

Aug 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

Robert Dold is a Republican congressman in suburban Chicago, in Senator Mark Kirk’s former seat. Here’s a report on his statement on the Eilat killings. There seems to be one sentence about the two-state solution. But not a word about Palestinian freedom or occupation. And what is he saying we need to be vigilant about– a two-state solution imposed by the UN? What is clear is that he’s focused on Israeli control and not thinking about Palestinian self-determination as a significant concern. Dold:

Congressman Robert Dold issued a statement saying the attacks “lay bare the tragic reality that our ally Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors who continue to target Israel’s innocent men, women, and children for murder.”(

 Rep. Dold recently completed his first trip to Israel as seated Congressman for the 10th congressional district in Chicago’s northern suburbs. The trip was sponsored by the JUF[Jewish Federation] of Metropolitan Chicago….

Regarding Hamas, Rep. Dold told the JUF News, “Hamas is a terrorist organization; we must assure that the Obama administration vetoes any United Nations vote on Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood. We know we have a problem with the U.N., which has been on a steady course to delegitimize the state of Israel for a long time.  We have to continue to be vigilant…There is not going to be a two state solution without Israel at the table.  It is not going to be imposed by the UN or anyone else.”

Help complete the documentary film ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’

Aug 19, 2011

Alice Walker

There is no better way to contribute to a change in what is happening today, between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, and what has been happening for decades,than bysupporting the documentary film ROADMAP TO APARTHEID. It is a vivid, powerful, beautifully documented testament to an evil we had hoped was behind us: that of treating people as if they are merely objects, to be dispossessed, moved about, destroyed, and at all times subjected to the whim of “rulers” whose only justification is that they possess the greater military and political force, and the most brutal, compassionless will.

Our governments have failed all of us on this issue, as on many others. It is up to us, average citizens of the planet, to do everything in our power to non-violently resolve it. The longer it drags on the more humanity is threatened. We do not wish our children to learn all over again that they must live in a world where apartheid and its practitioners are considered normal, and even applauded; as if apartheid, the treatment of humans as if their existence means nothing, is right. It is not right. ROADMAP TO APARTHEID teaches us exactly why.

Here’s more on the film:

Roadmap to Apartheid
A documentary film by Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson

Narrated by Alice Walker, Roadmap to Apartheid is promising to be the definitive documentary that compares and contrasts South African apartheid with Israeli policies and practices. As much an historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa, the film shows us why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today, and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them.

Featuring interviews with South Africans, Israelis and Palestinians, Roadmap to Apartheid winds its way through the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel moving from town to town and issue to issue to show why the apartheid analogy is being used with increasing potency. It analyzes the similar historical narratives of the Jewish people and the Afrikaaners to the tight relationship the two governments shared during the apartheid years, and everything in between. The effectiveness of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that helped end apartheid in South Africa is also compared to its effectiveness in the Israeli context to end the occupation. The film promises to be an incredibly important and useful tool for Palestine solidarity organizing and education campaigns, helping to spark hot debates, sorely needed discussion, and most importantly, action.

Roadmap to Apartheid has been four years in the making and now just needs a final push to make it to the end. Unfortunately a lack of funds for the last bits of post-production is delaying its release….There is, among other things, an archival footage bill to pay before that can happen.

Rather than spend another year working, fundraising and grant writing to release the film, the producers are turning to a democratic and grassroots way to get the film out now! They have launched a “Kickstarter” campaign, which is a great way for independent projects to get funded if and only if enough people want to see it happen.

Over 220 people have already donated more than $17,000. But with less than three weeks to go before the kickstarter deadline, none of that money will come through unless another $6,500 is raised by Sept 7th. So please consider donating today. In exchange for your donation, the producers are offering a myriad of rewards, including a copy of the film for any donation above $30. And what you can get for giving just gets better from there.

In Gaza, Israelis kill disabled child and 2-year-old, while Hamas prevents 8 students from accepting US scholarships

Aug 19, 2011


and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land, property, resources theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

UN OCHA: Settlements expand, while Area C is bulldozed
RAMALLAH (IRIN) 17 Aug — Each year, hundreds of Palestinians in Area C have their homes demolished by the Israeli authorities because they are unable to obtain permits for their buildings, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Area C covers 60 percent of the West Bank with a Palestinian population of about 150,000. Israel retains military authority and full control over building and planning in Area C: as much as 70 percent of it is inaccessible to Palestinians, classified as Israeli settlement areas, firing zones, or nature reserves.  In the remaining 30 percent there are a number of other restrictions that reduce the possibility for Palestinians to obtain a building permit, reports OCHA. In practice, Palestinian construction is normally permitted only within the boundaries of a plan approved by the Israeli Civil Administration, which covers less than 1 percent of Area C, much of which is already built-up, according to OCHA. Many Palestinians living in Area C are left with no choice other than to build without a permit.
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Neve Daniel municipality secretly expanding settlement by night
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Aug — The municipal council of the Israeli Neve Daniel settlement west of Bethlehem has been taking advantage of the Ramadan season to expand the illegal settlement founded on the land of the nearby Palestinian village of Al-Khadr. As Palestinian Muslims break fast at sunset, the municipality brings out its bulldozers to carry out wide-ranging excavations on a 300-dunum (1 Dunum= 1000 square meters) area known as Ayn al-Qissis throughout the night. The night digging has been going on for four days in an area barren of a Palestinian population, said Ahmed Salah, the coordinator for the local anti-settlement committee. He added that a number of local farmers related that when they go to tend to their farms, they have spotted damage caused by bulldozers. They said they have not seen related activity during the daytime.Salah confirmed that a delegation from the anti-settlement committee later investigated and found that digging was actually taking place, and that roads were being etched bridging between the area and Neve Daniel. The bulldozers dug in a way that blocked farmers from having access to their land
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EU condemns ongoing closure of East Jerusalem institutions
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — The EU released a statement Wednesday condemning a decision by Israel to extend the closure of the Orient House and Chamber of Commerce in East Jerusalem. “The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah deeply regret the recent Israeli decision extending once again the closure order against the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce of East Jerusalem,” a statement said. “These institutions have now been closed for ten years. The EU firmly believes that these institutions should be allowed to re-open and resume their operations as focal points for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, as required under the Roadmap.”
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Israel-Palestinian conflict writ large on road signs
BBC 16 Aug — The increasingly heated dispute over place names in Israel underlies a much greater political struggle, the BBC’s Yolande Knell explains from Jerusalem — “Where are you going?” asked the friendly, but slightly over-familiar, Jewish-Israeli boy sitting next to me on the plane from London. “I work in Jerusalem,” I replied. His smile instantly turned to a scowl. “It’s not Jerusalem,” he said. “It’s Yerushalayim” … Ms Hotovely has introduced a bill that would require different neighbourhoods to be identified by their Hebrew names only – on signposts, official documents and in state media. She sees it as part of the wider battle for Jerusalem – which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital. Names are “very powerful symbols” she tells me.
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IOF troops deploy in Silwan to search for weapons, find nothing
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Aug — Israeli troops and special forces backed by choppers stormed the Silwan town, south of occupied Jerusalem, on Wednesday and were deployed in Batn Al-Hawa and Ein Bir Ayub suburbs, local sources said. They said that tension ran high in the town as they feared a wave of demolition of local homes in the process. Fakhri Abu Diab, a member of the committee defending the land of Silwan, said that Israeli soldiers occupied rooftops of Palestinian homes in Silwan and deployed large numbers of forces at the entrances to the town and inside its suburbs. The Israeli army command claimed that the operation was meant to search for weapons but did not declare finding any. Local sources in Bustan suburb reported that the soldiers barged into the sit-in tent pitched to protest land and property confiscation on part of the Israeli occupation authority and used hounds in searching homes in the company of intelligence elements.
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PA condemns conference hosted by hard-line rabbi
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — The Palestinian Authority condemned the Israeli government on Wednesday for allowing a conference hosted by a hard-line Rabbi to take place Tuesday in the Pisgat Zeev settlement in East Jerusalem. “The Israeli authorities’ ongoing and consistent tolerance towards hate speech and incitement against Palestinians leads to actions,” director of the PA’s media center Ghassan Khatib said Wednesday.  The conference was hosted by Rabbi Yitzshak Shapiro, a co-author of the notoriously racist “King’s Torah”, and called for halting construction of a Palestinian school in between Pisgat Zeev and Nabi Taakov settlements in East Jerusalem, as well as preventing Jewish girls from dating Arab men. In addition, the conference demanded that the Jerusalem light railway project should be banned from passing through Palestinian neighborhoods, a PA statement said.
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Jerusalem’s long-awaited light railway splits opinion / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 17 Aug — Some critics say project’s completion is latest example of tightening Israeli grip on Arab east of city — After a decade of disruption, missed deadlines, bust budgets and a clamour of criticism, the first passengers will on Friday step aboard the sleek silver carriages ofJerusalem‘s long-awaited light railway. The project’s many critics include those who believe that, in a city with a long history of bombings, the new light railway is vulnerable to attack. There are others who claim it is the latest example of the tightening Israeli grip on the Arab east of the city, part of an attempt to create an indivisible Jerusalem.
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I watch as Jewish settlements engulf East Jerusalem / Anees of Jerusalem

Israel threatens 384 Jerusalemite figures with exile
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 Aug — Palestinian lawmakers and activists in the occupied city of Jerusalem revealed Israeli intents to exile 384 Jerusalemite figures at the pretext of their activities against the occupation in the holy city. The Israeli intelligence summoned lately those figures at different times and threatened them with expulsion from Jerusalem next September if they did not change their positions and stop their political activities against the occupation. Foreign diplomats and human rights activists in the holy city affirmed that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) prepared a list of 384 noted names from Jerusalem.
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One man’s stand against an Israeli settlement / Matthew Kalman
Independent 18 Aug — Matthew Kalman reports from Jerusalem on a Palestinian farmer’s extraordinary story — Said Ayid was born under the British Mandate, grew up in Jordan, raised his eight children under Israeli occupation and now lives on the edge of a sprawling new Israeli neighbourhood under the token protection of the Palestinian Authority. But throughout those 73 years he has not moved an inch. Two weeks ago, the Israeli government announced the addition of 930 new units in Har Homa, the new neighbourhood built in the past decade on the adjacent hillside south of Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. That number might have been higher, but Mr Ayid’s tiny farm is the next parcel in line and he refuses to sell.

Occupy, colonize, exploit: the economic uses of the separation barrier
Occ. Pal. 19 Aug — In the occupied territories people are divided into two groups — masters and natives. The masters in the settlements have a certain law, Israeli, and they are subject to Israeli courts — outside of Israel. They are an enclave floating over the occupied West Bank. So what happens when the Palestinian natives work for the masters in the settlements? Ostensibly, Israeli labor laws — such as they are — should apply to them: they must pay the minimum wage and respect some rights. But the employing masters in the settlements don’t want that: a native is a native, and his price — the price of a native. 90 NIS (=$25) a day, 120 NIS ($34) a day: that’s how much is paid for hard work in the Solor gas industries factory. And the natives work. They work with hazardous materials – they work with bromide but without gas masks; in the paint department they work without ventilation and with deafening noise — and they pay for this with serious damage to their health. All this has been documented by our friends in “Kav L’Oved”who have been accompanying the worker’s struggles for their rights here and in other settlements in the West Bankfor years. On October 19, 2010, the workers went on strike.

Israeli forces

PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory 11-17 August
18 Aug — IOF killed two Palestinians, including a mentally disabled child in the Gaza Strip.
4 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded by IOF in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian child was injured by the explosion of a suspicious object in the West Bank.  Israeli warplanes bombarded a number of targets in the Gaza Strip. IOF continued to attack Palestinian fishermen and fishing boats in the Gaza Strip. A Palestinian fisherman was wounded in the northern Gaza Strip. IOF continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. Dozens of demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation. IOF conducted 27 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. IOF arrested 10 Palestinian civilians.
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Al Khalil (Hebron): Two goats killed after Israeli soldiers attack Palestinian shepherd in Bani Na‘im
[photos] Christian Peacemaker Teams 15 Aug — At 6:30 p.m. on 14 August 2011, Israeli soldiers attacked a Palestinian shepherd and his two sons in Bani Na‘im, east of Hebron, chasing the shepherd off his land and causing the death of two goats. Noah Al-Rajabi, the shepherd, told international observers from Christian Peacemaker Teams that he was milking his goats with his nine and eleven-year-old sons when six Israeli army jeeps pulled over on the nearby road.  Soldiers exited the Jeeps and ordered Al-Rajabi to come speak with them.  When Al-Rajabi replied that he was unable to do so because he was busy milking his goats, the soldiers approached him, yelling threats and firing live ammunition. Al-Rajabi fled the area to safety.  However, the soldiers’ aggressive actions caused Al-Rajabi’s goats to panic and run towards their pen. In the confusion, two goats were trampled and killed. After Al-Rajabi escaped, the soldiers approached his two sons and asked where their father was.  When the children replied that their father had left the area, the soldiers threatened to come back in the night to arrest their father. Israeli settlers and soldiers frequently harass the Al-Rajabi family.  Earlier on 14 August, the Israeli military erected a new tent near the family’s property.  One week earlier, settlers stole a goat and a horse from the family.  The animals were later returned, but the thieves had painted the horse.
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IOF launches arrest sweep, burns farmland in Jenin vicinity
JENIN (PIC) 17 Aug — Israeli occupation forces launched wide-ranging arrest sweeps around the West Bank city of Jenin, and burned dozens of dunams of farmland west of the city. Witnesses said several patrols raided Kafr Rai village south of Jenin and deployed throughout the streets. The home of 16-year-old Bilal Nabil Jawabira, 16, was searched in the operation. The sources added the soldiers set up ambushes in the local cemetery, in the olive groves, and on the rooftops of nearby homes. IOF troops raided several other villages in the area with patrols that went on until early morning without report of arrest.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers set fire to dozens of dunums (1 Dunum= 1000 square meters, 1/4 acre) of olive groves and almond fields causing heavy damage in the village of East Barta‘a in the southern region of Jenin governorate. Locals said troops posted at the Barta‘a checkpoint stopped fire vehicles from Jenin’s civil defense service from arriving to fight the blaze.
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Israeli guards fire at Palestinian farmers in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 17 Aug — Israeli guards at Beit Ein settlement, constructed on Palestinian land belonging to Beit Ummar, a village north of Hebron, Wednesday shot at Palestinian farmers to drive them out of their land adjacent to the settlement. Spokesman of the National Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Mohammad Awad, said that Beit Ein security guards fired at Palestinian farmers who were working in their land near to the settlement. In a related matter, witnesses said that Israeli soldiers stationed at Beit Ummar’s entrance destroyed Palestinians’ vehicles which were present at the site.
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75-year-old woman shot in Johr al-Dik
ISM 16 Aug — Selma Al Sawarka, or Um Ahmad, is an active woman, a mother of seven, and a grandmother of 35, who has never quit working.  August 10, 2011 dawned like most days do for her; she went out to graze her family’s goats.  She took her neighbor with her, 15 year old Keefa Al Bahabsa. They went to the same land they usually go to. At 9:30 that morning they saw an Israeli tank and an Israeli jeep near the border.  Not an uncommon sight.  The tank and jeep left.  About 30 minutes later, the jeep returned, three soldiers got out, and opened fire on Um Ahmed and Keefa.  Um Ahmed was shot in the leg, Keefa fled to get help.  The soldiers also shot ten of the families’ goats. Um Ahmed is used to being shot at by the Israelis as her land is only 600 meters from the border. Usually, she says, the soldiers shoot around her, or into the air, trying to drive her from her land; she doesn’t know why today was different, why they shot directly at her, why they shot her in the leg.  Her scarf also has bullet holes in it; only through the grace of God is she still here.
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Palestinian hit by Israel police jeep dies
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 Aug — A Palestinian pedestrian was killed overnight when an Israeli border police jeep hit him in an East Jerusalem suburb, the man’s family and a border police spokesman told AFP on Wednesday. The victim, 38-year-old Amin Talab Dabash, was hit by the jeep as it drove through an area near the Jewish settlement neighborhood of Har Homa in annexed East Jerusalem. Border police spokesman Shai Hachimi told AFP that Dabash died in a traffic accident in a badly-lit area … Hachimi said an investigation had been opened. The Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds said an ambulance rushed to the scene but Dabash died almost immediately. At his funeral, which was held overnight in the Arab neighborhood of Sur Baher, Dabash’s relatives accused the border police of having deliberately killed him, though they gave no specific details. Around 1,000 people attended the funeral, chanting slogans against Israel and waving Palestinian flags and the yellow banner of Fatah, the political movement headed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas
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Amid row over IDF funding, military to redirect budget to weapons development
Haaretz 17 Aug — The wave of social protests sweeping Israel pushed the treasury into a clash with the military over spending this week. The Finance Ministry demanded cuts to career army staffing levels. The Defense Ministry on Tuesday published an unusually harsh response to these demands. The statement reads “Treasury officials have proved that they don’t understand economics, society or defense … The statement adds that the IDF five-year plan, now in the approval process, already includes reducing the number of career army personnel by 5 percent. The goal is not to reduce defense spending, but to use the savings for other purposes, particularly developing and acquiring new weapons, as the 2007 Brodet Commission on defense spending recommended.
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Eilat and Gaza attacks

Coordinated attacks in south kill 8
[good summary of events so far and more — an Israeli point of view of course] Haaretz 19 Aug 00:50 — Eight Israelis were killed and 30 more wounded during a well-planned terror attack along the Israeli-Egyptian border Thursday. The attack was planned in the Gaza Strip by the Popular Resistance Committees and perpetrated by terrorists who crossed from Gaza into Sinai via smuggling tunnels. They then traveled some 200 kilometers to reach an area of the border protected only by a tattered wire fence, about 15 kilometers north of Eilat. Israeli forces killed five of the terrorists, and Egyptian soldiers reportedly killed two more. But the Israel Defense Forces estimates that 15 to 20 participated in the attack, meaning most escaped. IDF officials believe the goal of the attack was to kidnap a soldier. The IDF had previously responded to warnings of a planned attack, beefing up its forces in the area.
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Hamas denies responsibility for attack near Eilat
GAZA (PIC) 18 Aug 18:55 — Hamas denied responsibility for the attack on two Israeli buses, carrying soldiers, near Eilat on Thursday morning that left seven killed and 20 others wounded. The movement said in a statement that it was not her policy to use lands of other countries to launch attacks on Israeli targets. Israel said that the attackers came from Gaza via the Egyptian territory. Hamas, however, said that it would be at the forefront of defenders of Gaza in the event Israel ventured to attack it as threatened by its war minister Ehud Barak.
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Egypt closes Rafah crossing
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Aug 18:58 — The interior ministry in the Gaza Strip said Thursday that Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah crossing amid a sharp increase in violence in Gaza and southern Israel. [End]
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Army bombards Rafah killing six Palestinians; child killed in Gaza City
IMEMC 18 Aug 20:51 — Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Thursday evening that six Palestinians, including a senior resistance leader, and a child, were killed when the Israeli Air Force fired missiles into a home in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. A child was also killed and five residents were injured when the army bombarded Gaza City. The sources stated that the Israeli Air Force fired a missile at the house of one of the leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees in Al Sho’outh neighborhood in Rafah, killing six Palestinians.  Three of them are leaders of the Popular Resistance committees, while one of the three was identified as Awad An-Nairab, the Secretary-General of the Committees. Adham Abu Salmiyya, spokesperson of the Emergency and Medical Services in Gaza, reported that the bodies of four of the slain residents were severely mutilated due to the blast, and that one of them is a 2-year-old child. Besides An-Nairab, the slain residents were identified as Imad Hammad, leader of the Salah Ed-Deen Brigades, Khaled Shaath, and his son Malak, 2 years old, Imad Nassr, and Khaled Al Masry. In another Israeli military escalation, a 13-year-old child was killed, and 18 other civilians were injured when the army bombarded several areas in northern Gaza and in Gaza City. The child was identified as Mahmoud Abu Samra. [Photo of Mahmoud in school] Children and women were among the wounded; they were all moved to the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza.
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Video of Gazans carrying victims to ambulances amid fire and wreckage from bombing 18 Aug
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Initial photos of the bombing in Gaza tonight
uploaded about 5am 19 Aug — Muaz Khaled — These photos of the Israeli bombing of civilian homes in the Gaza Strip — 1 child was killed more than 15 injured

Victims of Israeli strike on Gaza – in pictures
[WARNING: graphic!]  Uruknet 18 Aug — Six Palestinians were killed and two injured on Thursday in an Israeli airstrike, targeting a house in Al- Shauth, a neighborhood in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, according to witnesses. Medical sources said that six Palestinians arrived to Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospital dead; bodies of four of them were torn into pieces.
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Egypt: Israeli rocket kills 3 policemen
EILAT, Israel (AFP) 19 Aug 03:52 — Three Egyptian policemen have been killed after an Israeli plane fired a rocket near the border at militants it was tracking following earlier attacks, security officials said Thursday. Egypt’s official MENA news agency quoted a military official as saying that two policemen were killed when the Israeli aircraft opened fire near the Rafah border town with the Palestinian Gaza Strip. Security officials said the incident took place south of Rafah, along the border with Israel. They identified the Israeli aircraft as an Apache gunship that had been tracking the militants who attacked two buses, a civilian car and a military jeep in the coastal city of Eilat hours earlier.
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Israeli airstrikes kill 7 across Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Aug 05:08 — Renewed airstrikes across the Gaza Strip late Thursday killed a Palestinian teenager and injured more than a dozen others amid an escalation in violence that left some 20 people dead throughout the day.  Just after midnight Friday, Israeli warplanes launched a series of raids targeting Gaza City, the northern towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, and Khan Younis in the south … A Palestinian was also missing in the Rafah tunnel area, medics said. Elsewhere, Apache helicopters fired at least two missiles toward a Palestinian military site in the town of Beit Lahiya and a missile near Khan Younis landed in an open area and caused no injuries or damage. A Ma‘an correspondent described a “state of panic” across Gaza as Israel renewed bombings just hours after an airstrike killed six Palestinians in Rafah, near Egypt’s border.
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Israel knew attack coming up, expected kidnapping attempt
IMEMC 19 Aug 07:46 — An initial investigation carried out by the Israeli army on the armed attack that targeting a bus loaded with Israeli soldiers, close to the border with Egypt, in the Israeli coastal city of Eilat, revealed that information regarding an attack was available before it took place, but pointed out a possible kidnapping attempt, not a shooting. Seven Palestinians, including children, and seven Egyptian officers were killed by Israeli bombardment.
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One Israeli seriously hurt as Gaza rocket hits Ashdod
JERUSALEM (AFP) 19 Aug 09:35 — Two Israelis were injured, one seriously, when a Grad rocket fired by militants in Gaza slammed into the coastal town of Ashdod in southern Israel early on Friday, police said. “One person was seriously wounded in the attack, and another person was lightly hurt,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, saying two rockets had hit the town. The second caused no damage or injuries, she said. The Israeli military confirmed the strike saying a school and a synagogue had been damaged in the attack. “Two rockets fired at the city of Ashdod caused damage and injuries at a synagogue and school,” a statement said. The latest firings raised to 12 the total number of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel since midnight, the military said.
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Who is the Palestinian group blamed for the attacks?
Reuters 19 Aug 07:45 — The PRC is an umbrella group that draws together former armed activists of different factions. It was formed in the Gaza Strip in 2000 at start of a Palestinian uprising for statehood. It counted numerous former security men from the Palestinian Authority’s various security agencies among its ranks, including many disaffected members of Fatah, which has since renounced violence against Israel. It operates independently from the Islamist rulers of Gaza, Hamas.
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Legendary anti-terror sniper killed
Ynet 18 Aug — Most veteran sniper in police’s elite anti-terror unit killed in Thursday’s terror offensive in south; Pascal Avrahami, 49-year-old father of three who moved to Israel from France in 1977, hit by terrorist fire near border
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Egypt military crackdown nets Sinai ‘Islamist militants’
CAIRO (AFP) 18 Aug — An Egyptian security chief said on Thursday a military operation in Sinai against militants uncovered a bomb-making factory and netted 20 wanted men, including Palestinians and radical Islamists … An Israeli army commander said Thursday that four of the men behind the attacks in Israel were killed by Israeli and Egyptian fire in Egypt’s territory, but the Egyptians have denied the attack was staged from Sinai.
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Israeli social justice campaigners cancel weekend protests after attacks in south
Reuters 18 Aug — Israel’s student union on Thursday called off planned weekend demonstrations against the high cost of living after a series of terror attacks in the south left seven people dead. “There were meant to be protests throughout the country, with a central rally in Jerusalem, and we decided given the events to cancel them,” union head Itzik Shmueli told Army Radio following the attacks near Israel’s border with Egypt.
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Why Israel ought not to attack Gaza / Yossi Gurvitz
972mag 18 Aug — A terrorist attack in Israel has claimed seven victims. Barak plans a large-scale attack on Gaza. We shouldn’t do it — Seven Israelis were killed earlier today in a terror attack in the south of Israel, near Eilat. As these words are written, IAF fighters are circling in the skies of Gaza, and reports just came in of an airstrike in Rafah that claimed three lives. We still don’t know who is responsible for the attack, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak has already found the guilty parties, the residents of the Gaza Strip. Borrowing the language of the settler pogromchiks, he actually promised a ‘price tag’ operation (Hebrew). In Gaza, people are already huddling in shelters, and following the tweets from there, you can feel the despair, the terror, the feeling of ‘not again’. We are all familiar with this circle: Attack, terrorist attack, attack, terrorist attack, attack, major terrorist attack, major operation, terrorist attack, attack and so on and so forth. Maybe we should, for once, break the circle? Here are a few reasons why:
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Other Gaza

IOF kills disabled teen in central Gaza
IMEMC 18 Aug — On Tuesday evening, 16 August 2011, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian child from al-Nussairat refugee camp, who was 400 meters from the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. The victim’s family told a PCHR field worker that their child had a mental disability. The victim was in an area that had not been explicitly declared as prohibited. According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 18:00 on Tuesday, 16 August 2011, Israeli soldiers stationed at the border northeast of Deir al-Balah opened fire at a Palestinian, who was nearly 400 meters from the border. As a result, he was wounded by 10 bullets in his head and chest.  He was left wounded without being offered any first aid. After coordination was made with IOF, at approximately 19:20, medical crews were able to retrieve the body, which was then transferred to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah. After four hours later, the child was identified as Sa’d Abdul Rahim Mahmoud al-Majdalwai, 17, from al-Nussairat refugee camp. He was hit by 10 live bullets mostly to the head.
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Fuel, medicine ‘crisis’ in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Aug — Muhammad Al-Kashef, a health ministry official in Gaza, warned Tuesday of a crisis hitting the sector as medicine shortages have plagued the enclave for two months. Al-Kashef said the ministry of health in Ramallah is largely responsible for the crisis after excluding Gaza from its legal share or 40 percent of supplies like medications and other consumables. In the past three years, he said, Gaza has received about 30 percent of the overall budget for health services. In 2011, however, the crisis reached a peak despite advanced warning.
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Hamas official: Party not moving headquarters to Cairo
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A senior Hamas leader said Wednesday that the party has no intention of moving its headquarters in exile from Damascus to Cairo. Salah Bardaweil rubbished reports that the recent visit to Egypt by exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal was to discuss moving the party’s offices to Cairo.
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Hamas imposes new restrictions on aid workers
JERUSALEM (AP) 16 Aug — Palestinian rights groups are condemning new orders by Gaza’s Hamas rulers that employees of civil society groups register with authorities before traveling for work outside the Gaza Strip. Gaza rights activist Hamdi Shakoura says the move is meant to restrict the freedoms of non-governmental groups. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights also issued a statement Tuesday criticizing the new orders after meeting with a network of aid groups in Gaza. Hamas’ Deputy Interior Minister Kamel Abu Madi says employees must register with authorities two weeks before leaving and explain why they are traveling. They must also identify their hosts and list the names and details of all participants in any program they will attend.
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Al-Qassam field leader ‘dies of accident injuries’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A field leader of Hamas’ armed wing died on Wednesday, the group said in a statement, noting he succumbed to wounds sustained in an unspecified accident days earlier. A statement from the Al-Qassam Brigades named the man as Mahmoud As-Safadi, from the Ad-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza City, but did not give details as to the nature of the activity he had been involved with when he was injured. On Tuesday, several people were injured as Israeli forces fired at a group of people in the Az-Zaitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources said. One week earlier an Al-Qassam fighter was killed in an unexplained Rafah explosion.
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Gaza gov’t: Israel raids intentionally heighten tensions
GAZA (PIC) 17 Aug — The Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip has said that it was interested in maintaining calm in the Strip, charging Israel with deliberately escalating military attacks. The foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday evening that it exerted strenuous efforts and reached national consensus on maintaining calm and stability in the Strip. However, the continued Israeli raids, which focus on civilians, display that Israel was not interested in calm and was fueling tension, the statement said.
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Gaza man killed in Libya
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 15 Aug — A 26-year-old man from Khan Younis was killed early Monday during clashes between the Libyan military and opposition groups in the Libyan city of Sabha. Haytham Zayed Hussein Isleih was living as an immigrant in Benghazi, his relatives told Ma‘an … The Palestinian general consul in Alexandria said Tuesday that over 2,000 Palestinians have returned to the Gaza Strip from Libya as a consequence of the unrest there. The number of Palestinians living in Libya before the uprising was estimated at between 25,000 and 40,000 with most having lived there for decades, according to the Palestinian government in Ramallah.
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Designation of Army of Islam leader Mumtaz Dughmush
US Dept of State 16 Aug — The Secretary of State has designated Gaza-based Army of Islam leader Mumtaz Dughmush under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. As a result of the designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Dughmush has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him. This action will help stem the flow of financial and other assistance to this terrorist. This past May the Secretary of State designated the Army of Islam as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
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Gaza’s lifeguards fight sea and siege / Eva Bartlett
InGaza 17 Aug — In the face of the siege, Gaza’s lifeguards have created their own rescue equipment — …”Most people don’t have the chance to take swimming lessons here. If they had money, they could learn, but most don’t have enough money to feed their families, let alone spend on swimming lessons,” says Basha. This, says Abu Assam Masharawi, another lifeguard at Basha’s station, is the main cause of swimming accidents in Gaza. “When we see people who obviously can’t swim, we call them in close to the shore. No one has drowned this year during life guard hours.” However there have been at least three drowning incidents in the Gaza Strip this year. “The danger is swimming after hours. Some people prefer to swim at night, like women who come together to swim when men aren’t around, or people who swim after work,” says Masharawi.
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VIDEO: In Gaza, poverty forces children to choose between survival and school
17 Aug — UNICEF correspondent Catherine Weibel reports on children in Gaza who risk their lives to feed their families and help them survive.
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JTA and the IDF: Making men out of boys in Gaza / Yousef Munayyer
18 Aug — Before the attacks in Eilat refocused the mainstream media’s attention on the Gaza Strip (negatively of course) Gaza continued to face the regular violence inherent in siege and occupation. One incident occurring this week involved a Palestinian who was shot 10 times in the chest and head in by Israeli soldiers for entering an Israeli declared ‘buffer zone’ … After an investigation, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza found thefollowing: … In short, Israeli soldiers shot a defenseless 17 year old mentally disabled refugee boy. If anyone was paying attention, this highlights the cruel nature of occupation and siege. The JTA had a, well, slightly different take (emphasis mine): …The man, 22, approached the border on Tuesday night between Israel and Gaza where,according to the Israel Defense Forces, terrorists often plant bombs or attack Israeli patrols … JTA referenced the IDF, added 5 years to the boy’s age, made no mention of the absurd number of times he was shot and instead used language to insinuate he was likely a threat to armed soldiers on the other side of a border. Were any Palestinian sources checked with? Does it even matter? Boys made into men. Victims made into perpetrators. Truth is the first casualty. Another day in Gaza.

Repression by PA / Hamas

PA takes satirical TV series off the air
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A Ramadan TV series that became notorious for its criticism of Palestinian Authority officials has been discontinued on the PA-run Palestine TV, Attorney General Ahmad Al-Mughni said Tuesday evening. Al-Mughni told Ma‘an that the decision had been made to stop broadcasts of Watan Ala Watar [Homeland on a Thread] after Tuesday’s episode because “it is full of mistakes, is meaningless and is a waste of time for people to watch.” The serial, aired during the holy month of Ramadan when broadcasters compete for captive audiences with soap operas and special series, had been praised the year earlier as an emblem of PA’s ability to tolerate self-criticism.
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Ban on Palestinian show condemned as blow to freedom
RAMALLAH (Reuters) 18 Aug — A decision by the Palestinian prosecutor general to ban a comedy TV show because of complaints from people targeted by its jokes jeopardizes basic freedoms, the show’s producer and broadcaster said on Wednesday. The order to halt the broadcast of “A Nation on a String” was based on a complaint lodged by the chief of the Palestinian police, the head of an anti-corruption authority and the president of the doctors’ union. They said the show, in its third season, belittled the security forces, judiciary and the medical profession, was defamatory and “did not deliver constructive messages,” according to the text of the complaint printed in local media. “This is shameful for Palestinian democracy,” said Emad Farrajine, who wrote the show and performs in it.
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Hamas disperses anti-Assad protest in Gaza
Haaretz 17 Aug –Protest was meant to show solidarity with Palestinian refugees who have fled their homes due to Syrian government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators — Hamas police forces in the Gaza Strip dispersed a protest on Tuesday night against the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown on protesters. Hamas’ official justification for dispersing the protest, which was attended by 150 people, was that organizers had not received a permit to hold it.

Assad puts Hamas in a corner over Syrian assault
by Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) 17 Aug — Syria’s crackdown on government opponents has deeply embarrassed the Palestinian group Hamas, which is anxious not to anger its backers in Damascus while at the same time hoping not to alienate its supporters at home. President Bashar al-Assad’s five-month purge of protesters has gathered pace since the start of August, causing thousands of Palestinians to flee a refugee camp in the city of Latakia this week as Syrian security forces attacked the area. Ordinary Palestinians watching from a distance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been swift to denounce the violence, but the Islamist group Hamas has itself said nothing and tried to prevent public displays of anti-Syrian sentiment.
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Hamas bans Gaza students from studying in US
Haaretz 17 Aug — Hamas has banned eight teenage students with scholarships to study in the United States -from leaving the territory, a Palestinian rights group said Wednesday. The move appeared to be part of an intensified Hamas campaign against independent groups that they view as a challenge to their rule and against activities that believe promote a Western lifestyle. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the eight students were granted AMIDEAST scholarships, a program that educates talented teenagers from the Middle East and North Africa for a year in the Unites States. At the end of the year, students return to their home countries to finish their education … Hamas would not confirm the order, much as it has in the past with similar orders travel bans on Gaza residents.
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Rights group: Hamas ban on study abroad students ‘illegal’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights denounced Wednesday the decision by Hamas to ban Gaza scholarship students from studying in the United States … “This Decision means also that a number of our best students will be deprived of benefiting from scholarships to study abroad while we are in a dire need to communicate with the outside world, break the isolation and blockade imposed on our people and develop our capacities,” PCHR added.
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Detention / Court actions

Detainees ministry: Israel threatens ‘mistreatment’ in prisons
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Palestinians in Israeli jails have been threatened with worsening prison conditions, beginning at the start of September, the Ministry of Detainees in Ramallah said Wednesday. The Israeli Prison Administration informed Palestinian representatives in jail that “mistreatment” would begin at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, according to the PA ministry’s description of a letter received from the prisoners. Palestinian detainees minister Issa Qaraqe said Israel’s prison authority told the detainees that a new set of procedures would be introduced to “exacerbate their miserable conditions.”
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Israeli authority isolates lawmaker Marwan Barghouti in solitary confinement for indefinite period
BETHELEHEM (WAFA) 17 Aug — The Israeli authority Wednesday informed the jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti of its decision to isolate him in solitary confinement for an undetermined period, according to Issa Qaraqi, Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs. Qaraqi told WAFA that this decision was made responding to high-level Israeli officials’ request, under the pretext of “Marwan’s latest statements,” in which he called for massive rallies to support the Palestinian move … Marwan Barghouti, who is a member of Fatah Central Council and the Legislative Council, was arrested in 2002 and two years later was sentenced to five life terms for his role in several deadly anti-Israeli attacks, although he denied all the charges against him and said he never supported attacks on civilians inside Israel. But even from his prison cell, Barghouti has remained an important Palestinian political figure.
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Detainees ministry: Israel targeting relatives of prisoners
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Israeli authorities are targeting the families of Palestinian detainees in order to deter them from visiting, the Ministry of Detainees in Gaza said Wednesday. In recent months there has been an increase in procedures such as searching female relatives, confiscating goods brought to detainees, verbal insults and destroying visit permits, detainees ministry spokesman Riyad Al-Ashqar told Ma‘an. The wife of one detainee was also detained on suspicion of smuggling mobile phones into the prison. Suha Abu Munshar was transferred to trial on Thursday, Al-Ashqar said.
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Shin Bet accused of exceeding its authority in Mer-Khamis murder / Amira Hass
Haaretz 18 Aug — Lawyers: Murder not classified as security crime, therefore Shin Bet has, by law, no authority to investigate … The Shin Bet began investigating almost four months after the murder, once it became clear that the Palestinian Authority was making no progress. Though Mer-Khamis worked in Jenin and the murder took place there, he was an Israeli citizen … Relatives and friends of Mer-Khamis said they are pleased that efforts are being made to find the murderer, but deplore the methods being used by the Shin Bet, which violate the suspects’ rights. For instance, Saadi and Naghnaghiye have been barred from meeting their lawyers ever since they were arrested two weeks ago. Ben-Natan said such draconian measures are rarely taken in ordinary criminal investigations
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Israel arrests Hamas leader in West Bank
NABLUS (PIC) 18 Aug — Israel occupation forces arrested Wednesday Hamas leader Awadullah Ishtyeh, 44, at a random checkpoint between the West Bank cities of Qalqilya and Nablus. An Israeli army patrol stopped Ishtyeh’s car at a checkpoint near Kedumim settlement as he was returning from one of his in-laws’ houses in Qalqilya to break fast, Ishtyeh’s family told our correspondent in Nablus,
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IOA extends detention of Hamas spokesman for seventh time
NABLUS (PIC) 16 Aug — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has extended the administrative detention, without charge, of Hamas leader Adnan Asfoor, 47, for the seventh consecutive time on Monday. The Israeli military court in Ofer could not file an indictment against Asfoor, who has been held in the Negev desert prison for the past 30 months. Asfoor was the spokesman for Hamas in Nablus and was previously arrested on more than one occasion. He also worked as a coordinator of inter-Palestinian dialog.
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PA security arrests 10 Hamas supporters in West Bank
NABLUS (PIC) 18 Aug — Some ten of Hamas’s supporters in the West Bank have been arrested in the past few days as the Palestinian Authority security forces continue to breach the unity deal signed by parties governing the mending Palestinian territories. On Sunday, PA intelligence in Nablus governorate arrested three men in Aqraba and one in Awarta after they refused to respond to inconvenient summonses. Another man who served time in Israeli custody was also nabbed in Tulkarem. In Ramallah governorate, the security agencies arrested the son of Palestinian legislator Mahmoud Musleh as well as one other man. In addition, two men were nabbed in Al-Khalil just a week after they were released from Israeli custody. The arrests also targeted local reporters. Reporter and director of a local television network Ahmed Mohammed al-Halayka, 25, was released on Wednesday after he was arrested and one of the channel’s crews were banned from filming a day earlier.
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PA preventive security detains son of Hamas MP
RAMALLAH (PIC) 17 Aug — Elements of PA preventive security apparatus in the West Bank detained Mustafa the son of Hamas MP Mahmoud Musleh on Wednesday, eyewitnesses reported. They said that the security agents took Mustafa from his mini market in El-Bireh and detained him in their Ramallah headquarters
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Hamas slams claims of Fatah’s inability to release political prisoners
GAZA (PIC) 18 Aug — The Hamas Movement deplored Amin Maqboul, the secretary-general of Fatah’s revolutionary council, for his remarks about his movement’s inability release the political prisoners from Hamas as “unacceptable and surprising.” Maqboul had stated that Fatah faction, which signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas a few months ago, was not able to release Hamas cadres from West Bank jails as it was agreed upon between the two sides in Cairo, claiming that this issue is up to Mahmoud Abbas and his security apparatuses.
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Islamic Jihad: Gaza govt seized operative
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — The military wing of Islamic Jihad said on Thursday that one of its members had been detained by Gaza’s internal security forces. The Al-Quds Brigades demanded the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip release their affiliate
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Bethlehem mother dies without seeing jailed son
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 18 Aug – The mother of a Palestinian detainee died Wednesday without seeing her son, who is jailed in Israel. Amjad Taqatqa’s son Amjad from the Beit Fajjar village near Bethlehem is serving six life terms in an Israeli detention center. [End]
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Samaritan marks 8th year in Israeli prison
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — A Samaritan detainee from the West Bank marked his eighth year in Israel jail on Wednesday. Nader Mamdouh, 32, from Nablus, is being treated as a Palestinian and not a Samaritan, his parents told Ma‘an. Samaritans, who number just 700 in two communities in the West Bank and Israel, and derive from an ancient branch of Judaism, have historically received special status from Israeli authorities. Mamdouh’s parents told Ma‘an that Nader had been transferred between a number of Israeli jails and was suffering immensely. He was living in Al-Ain refugee camp in Nablus when he was detained in 2004. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for affiliation with the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and for taking part in operations against Israeli troops. The Palestinian detainees center said Mamdouh’s parents, who live in the Samaritan community on Jerzim mountain overlooking Nablus, are frequently harassed by Israeli forces.
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Israeli forces arrest ex-prisoner from Jenin
JENIN (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — The Israeli army arrested a man on Tuesday night in the village of Kafr Rai, west of Jenin. Belal Nabil Saed Theyab was arrested as Israeli forces raided his home and searched the property, his family told Ma‘an. Thayab had spent seven years in Israeli jails for being affiliated with militant organization Islamic Jihad.
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Prisoner seeks freedom ahead of four-month death sentence
NABLUS (PIC) 16 Aug — Palestinian prisoner Zakariyya Dawud Issa, 43, has been informed that his 16-year prison sentence would end earlier than he had expected, but unless serious action is taken, he would never live to see the outside world again. Doctors in the Israeli Soroka Medical Center say Issa would not live to see more than four more months because of cancer, a legal expert from the International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights reported. As described by doctors, Issa’s condition is “hopeless”, and there is no hope for treatment, as the cancer has spread throughout his body … Because the cancer has reached his brain, he has trouble speaking and has forgotten everything apart from his first name. The ISFHR lawyer said it was the worst condition he has seen in his life … The ISFHR said it would contact rights groups as well as Arab members of the Israeli Knesset in an endeavor to unify efforts to see that Issa gets released and is able to once again see his family before he dies.
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Deportation appeal should end in Salah’s favor in coming weeks
LONDON (PIC) 17 Aug — Supporters of Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic movement in Israel, have become more and more confident that his deportation case would end in his favor within the next few weeks. “After being reassured on the developments of the case, we have become more confident that it would soon end in Sheikh Salah’s favor, and that will be in the next few weeks,” said Mohammed Hamdan, chairman of the European network to support the Palestinian prisoners (UFree), during a recent visit to Salah. The organization, based in Oslo, has taken on the Salah case, since he was first arrested in London in June under what was claimed to be a travel ban.
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Woman found guilty of stabbing soldier
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an)17 Aug — Israel’s Ofer military court handed down a 20-year sentence to a Ramallah woman on Wednesday, who was accused of stabbing an Israeli guard at a Ramallah military checkpoint three years earlier. Sumoud Hasan Karaja, now 23, from the Ramallah-area village of Saffa, was detained during a home raid two days after a guard at Israel’s Qalandiya military checkpoint was found moderately wounded by stab wounds to the abdomen. According the Ramallah Palestinian Prisoners organisation, the court will not take into account the three years Karaja has already spent in custody.
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Al Jazeera demands Israel free bureau chief
DOHA (AFP) 17 Aug — Al-Jazeera television demanded Wednesday that Israel “immediately” release the Palestinian head of its Kabul bureau, who was arrested on charges of belonging to the militant Hamas. “Al-Jazeera network reiterates its demand that Israeli authorities immediately release our journalist Samer Allawi,” the Qatar-based broadcaster said in a statement. It said that Israeli authorities had arrested Allawi on August 10 “without reason while on vacation with his family” in the West Bank, where it said he regularly spent his annual vacation in his hometown.
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Hamas chief’s visit to Cairo could signal imminent decision on Shalit deal
Haaretz 17 Aug — Hamas’ political chief Khaled Meshal left Cairo last night following a visit thought to be connected to indirect talks on a deal for the release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit … Earlier yesterday the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported that the purpose of Meshal’s Cairo visit was the talks with Israel. Meshal’s appearance on the stage may point to some measure of progress in the negotiations and perhaps even an imminent decision over a prisoner-swap deal. Up until now Hamas’ military chief Ahmed al-Ja’abari had led the negotiating team for the organization
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Shalit deal stalled
PNN 18 Aug — An Egyptian official involved in negotiations between Israel and Hamas, has declared that a thrd round of talks has ended with no conclusions found. Speaking to al-Hayat, the official stated that both sides were too insistent on their demands and had a refusal to make compromises. Thus the talks stalled and broke down and a new date for renewal of talks was not set.
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Video: Racism rampant within Israeli society / Antony Loewenstein
19 Aug — anti-Arab sentiment in Israel
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Video: The sorrows of Ni‘lin: Five shot dead in resisting the apartheid wall
Ni‘lin Sons 17 Aug — Ni‘lin is paying a heavy price for its fight against the Israeli occupation. Since July 2008, Ni‘lin is mourning its dead. Yousef Ahmad Younis Amera (17) andAhmed Husam Yusef Mousa (10) were assassinated by the armed forces of occupation. Arafat Rateb Kawaje (22), was shot in the back
 and killed on December 28th while taking part in a demonstration in solidarity with Gaza. Mohammed Kasim Khawaje (18), Akil Yousef Srour (36) was shot in the chest with 0.22 caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital. Today, Saeed Amireh and Muhammed Amireh who were eyewitnesses at that time talk on behalf of Ni‘lin popular committee and explain how exactly the brutal murdering of the five martyrs happened on the ground.
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Syria: Palestinian refugees flee port city camp
TEL AVIV (IRIN) 17 Aug — Syria should allow humanitarian access to Palestinian refugees living in the Mediterranean port city of Latakia following reports that violence has forced thousands of them to flee a camp in the area. “It is almost impossible to get information out of Syria at the moment. We have no idea where these people are,” said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency which helps Palestinian refugees across the Middle East (UNRWA). “A forgotten population has now become a disappeared population,” Gunness told IRIN on 16 August. “We have no idea where the women and children have gone. This is why we are pushing the Syrian government for immediate access to the camp to assess the situation there and resume services.” At least 5,000 Palestinian refugees have fled their camp situated in Latakia’s El Ramel district, according to UNRWA.
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Fatah official: Syrian violence to Palestinians ‘unacceptable’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — Syrian authorities’ targeting of a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia is “unacceptable and unethical,” Fatah central committee member Tawfik At-Tirawi said Tuesday. Thousand of refugees from the Ramel camp were reported to have fled from their homes on Monday after Syrian started heavy shelling of the area, drawing widespread condemnation from Palestinian officials and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.  Activists listed Palestinians among those killed in the violence.
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Palestinian groups denounce UNRWA statement
DAMASCUS (Xinhua) 16 Aug — Damascus-based Palestinian groups denounced a statement issued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) claiming that a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria’s Mediterranean city of Latakia was shelled by gunboats. In a statement obtained by Xinhua, the groups said the UNRWA account came in the context of present attempts aiming at “encroaching upon the Syrian and Palestinian stands.” The groups urged the UN body “not to indulge the Palestinians in the regretful events in Syria,” stressing that all the Palestinian people and its institutions “confirm their keenness about Syria’s security and stability.”  [clearly they are fearful for their precarious position in Syria]
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Aid efforts begin for Palestinians pushed from Syria refugee camp/ Ali Abunimah
EI blog 18 Aug — Aid efforts have begun for some of the thousands of Palestinians forced to flee from a refugee camp in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia earlier this week.On Monday, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees,reported that about half of the 10,000 residents had left the camp and that several had been killed. Today, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness confirmed that some of the displaced had now been located and aid efforts are under way, but the whereabouts of thousands more were still known. Gunness said: UNRWA has mobilized a small team from staff living in Latakia, has established a temporary office outside the camp, and started to provide assistance to approximately 400 displaced families (roughly 2000 individuals), but it expects these numbers to increase in the next day or two. The Syrian authorities are cooperating link to

The ‘forgotten population’ needs a solution / Joharah Baker
Palestine, (Pal Telegraph) 17 Aug — Whenever I discuss politics, I am always sure to insist that the Palestinians still and always will retain the right of return for its refugees. Never has this feeling been stronger than this week, as the Palestinian refugee population in Al Ramel, Syria were made to relive the horrors of 60 years ago, displaced and forgotten … This is not the first, and it will probably not be the last non-Palestinian conflict that Palestinians are forced into. Lebanon and Libya are just two countries where Palestinians have been thrust into the center of strife that is not necessarily theirs. The reason for this is simple: they are not home and for their host countries, they are not wanted.
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Political / Diplomatic / International

World powers condemn Israeli settlement move
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) 17 Aug — The United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations attacked on Tuesday, Israel’s move to expand a West Bank settlement, calling it a threat to peace efforts. The latest public condemnation of Israel came amid intense efforts by Tony Blair, the envoy of the diplomatic Quartet, to get Palestinians and Israelis back into direct talks, diplomats reported.
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Israel to recruit 70 countries to vote against recognizing Palestine, says Israeli official
TEL AVIV (WAFA) 17 Aug — Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, said Wednesday that Israel is working on recruiting 60-70 important countries to vote against the Palestinian quest to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian independent state based on the 1967 borders. In a speech addressing 150 Jewish leaders worldwide to recruit them to support the Israeli efforts to prevent the recognition of the Palestinian state, Ayalon, who is also a member of the Knesset for Yisrael Beiteinu, said “the Palestinians are a majority in the United Nations (UN) and we are trying to recruit the most important countries so that they do not vote according to their conscience, but for the security and stability in the Middle East.”
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Nine Security Council members support Palestine’s UN bid, says Abbas
BEIRUT (WAFA) 18 Aug — President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday said Palestine was able to get the support of nine out of 15 United Nations Security Council members for the Palestinian move to get UN recognition in September. Abbas told reporters before leaving Lebanon that he rejected an offer to get an observer status similar to the Vatican at the UN, saying “we want to obtain full membership.”
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Bosnian Serbs oppose Palestinian UN bid
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Bosnian Serb representatives announced Wednesday that they oppose Sarajevo’s decision to support the PA in seeking UN recognition for a Palestinian state. President Mahmoud Abbas visited Bosnia last week to seek its support in recognizing a Palestinian state at the UN in September … Bosnia is one of 10 non-permanent current members of the Security Council. The tripartite presidency of Bosnia controls the country’s foreign policy and any decision relating to the UN needs the approval of the three parties of Bosnia which are Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. The Bosnian and Croatian members have announced their support for a Palestinian state.
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Lebanon upgrades Palestinian delegation to embassy
BEIRUT (AFP) 17 Aug — Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas hoisted the flag of “the state of Palestine” in Beirut on Wednesday as he inaugurated the Palestinian embassy in Beirut. The ceremony, which saw the Palestinian delegation upgraded to an embassy, was attended by Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and top Palestinian officials, including top PA official Saeb Erekat and intelligence chief Maged Faraj.
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Hamas divided on UN bid for recognition
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hamas leader Ismail Radwan sees the Palestinian Authority’s decision to go to the UN in September to seek recognition of statehood as just the latest in a series of unilateral decisions [by Fatah]. … Izzat Resheq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, meanwhile, saw the move as aimed to mobilize support and international recognition of the Palestinians’ rights to freedom and statehood. He stressed, however, that such moves should be part of an agreed upon national strategy that guarantees Palestinian rights, according to a report by the Palestinian Information Center.
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Ashrawi: UN responsible for Palestinian state
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Aug — PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Tuesday that the United Nations was the proper place for questions of Palestinian self-determination, following a meeting with the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. “As the body charged with upholding international law,” Palestinians hold the UN responsible for the establishment of their state, Ashrawi said in a statement.
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Shaath: Netanyahu wants to kill Palestinian UN bid by military escalations
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 18 Aug — Fatah Commissioner of International Relations Nabil Shaath, said on Thursday that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to abort the Palestinians’ efforts to gain UN recognition and export Israel’s internal crisis, by the military escalations.
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Palestine to chair next Arab League session
CAIRO (WAFA) 18 Aug – Palestine will chair the next Arab League session, scheduled for September 13 and 14 and which will meet at the level of foreign ministers, said an Arab League statement Thursday.
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Turkey ‘plans diplomatic assault’ after Israel refuses apology
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 18 Aug — Turkey plans to launch a diplomatic and legal assault on Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to apologize for the 2010 raid on the Gaza aid flotilla, Israeli media said. Israel’s Haaretz newspaper says Turkey now intends to implement “Plan B”, which will include a campaign in UN institutions, with an emphasis on the International Court of Justice. Turkey also plans to encourage the families of the nine victims to file suits against senior Israeli figures in European courts and reduce the level of ties with Israel, according to the report citing foreign ministry sources.
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Gaza factional fighting scars taint reconciliation efforts
GAZA CITY (AFP) 18 Aug — Palestinian Musa Abu Jarrad shrugs off any notion of reconciling with the Hamas group he blames for the death of his son, a Fatah member, in 2007 factional fighting in Gaza … Abu Jarrad lost his son Bahaa, 36, in fighting that erupted between members of the rival political groups a year after Hamas won a surprise electoral victory. His anger and wish for revenge is shared by many grieving families, even as Hamas and Fatah seek to implement a unity deal.
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Palestinian power broker fighting for his political life
The National 18 Aug — JERUSALEM // Some view him as a ruthless opportunist, others a convenient scapegoat for his superiors. But one thing is certain: Mohammed Dahlan, once considered the charismatic odds-on-favourite to succeed Yasser Arafat as leader of the Palestinians, is fighting for his political life. Colleagues in the Fatah faction that now runs the West Bank expelled him from the group in June. They have accused him of everything from corruption to building his own private militia … Majid Shihade, a professor at the Abu-Lughod Institute for International Studies at the West Bank’s Birzeit University, believes Mr Dahlan’s undoing represents a significant victory for Mr Abbas after years of his Fatah colleagues jockeying against him. “It’s a consolidation of Abbas’s power within Fatah and the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “Dahlan went too far and started operating outside the PA.
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Israel’s embassy in Turkey might not have new ambassador
Ynet 17 Aug — Turkey-Israel ties reach new low: As Israeli Ambassador to Turkey Gabby Levy prepares to complete his term in two weeks, Jerusalem is concerned that Turkey will refuse to approve a replacement ambassador due to theongoing diplomatic crisis between the two nations. The timing proves problematic as well, as Levy’s term ends only a week after the UN’s Palmer Report on the 2010 Gaza-boundflotilla incident is set to be released. The findings of the report are expected to support some of Israel’s positions.
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Report: Israel PM ‘snubs Clinton’ over Turkey apology
JERUSALEM (AFP) 17 Aug — Israel has rejected a US request to apologize to Turkey over its 2010 commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish activists, Israeli media reported on Wednesday. Unsourced reports by Israel’s two main radio stations said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday with a direct request that he make an apology — but he turned her down.
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Other news

Umm al-Fahm protest: ‘Barak a war criminal’
Ynet 17 Aug — Surprise visit by defense minister prompts outrage among Arab city’s residents who hold him accountable for deaths of 13 Arab-Israelis in October 2000
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Video: Palestinian workers strike
AIC 18 Aug — 35 Palestinian workers in the Salit quarry in Mishor Adumim in the West Bank are on strike since June 16, 2011, demanding a collective bargaining agreement. The workers are organized by the Maan workers organized by the Workers Advice Center (WAC-MAAN). If signed, this will be the first collective agreement between Palestinian workers and an Israeli employer.
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Japan donates $7.7 million in aid to Palestinian refugees
dpa 17 Aug — Japanese ambassador to Jordan signs agreement with UNRWA, says donation to be utilized for purchase of urgently-needed staple foods.
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Judge stays deportation of 4-year-old born to foreign workers
The 4-year-old child born to foreign workers in Israel who was set to be deported last night was removed from the plane with her mother just moments before it took off, after the child’s father rushed to the airport with a court order staying the deportation. Judge Shaul Manheim issued the temporary order, staying the deportation until a special hearing can be held on Thursday.
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Iron Dome sees Israel ramp up, Raytheon partnership for US market
Defense Industry Daily 17 Aug — On August 16, 2011, Rafael and Raytheon announced a partnership to market the Iron Dome system in the United States. This rocket interception system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is now deployed in Israel to protect civilian population from rockets, mortar and 155 mm artillery fired by Hamas. It has an all-weather range of up to 70 km (43.5 miles).
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Analysis / Opinion

When it comes to Israel and Turkey, stupidity is also a strategic asset / Zvi Bar’el
Haaretz 17 Aug —  Israel is set on showing the world that it will not surrender to Turkey’s demand for an apology, but is simultaneously foiling the opportunity to use it as an ally in face of Syria and Iran — “Honor is a strategic asset,” so went the explanation Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon gave as to why Israel must not apologize to Turkey. More than anything, Ya’alon fears that an Israeli apology will cause the Turkish prime minister to declare before the entire Middle East that Turkey brought Israel to its knees. Honor is indeed a strategic asset, but it is also an asset that can be offset by stupidity.
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Palestine reflection: the clarity of 13-year-olds / Mel Southworth
Christian Peacemaker Teams 18 Aug — A couple months ago, I gave a presentation to a grade eight English class, on the work of CPT and the Israel/Palestine conflict.  I tried to describe the situation there in a way they could relate to using the following scenario: One year ago, a boy brought a knife to school and immediately after the incident, the principal released a statement to the media that he would increase security measures at the school.  Days later, the school administration decreed that all boys must go through a newly installed metal detector before they could enter the school building. Today, the screening process can take up to three hours; school starts at eight o’clock.  Girls do not have to go through the detector; they can enter through the back.  The administration also mandated that boys and girls must attend separate classes and if a girl is suspicious of a boy, she is allowed to request that a teacher search him for weapons. During the discussion time that followed the role-play, all the students agreed that it was unfair for the school administration to make all boys go through a metal detector because of one incident.  One boy said that penalizing all boys was stereotyping. Another boy said that he probably wouldn’t go to school anymore if he had to get up three hours early….
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‘Price tag’ campaign a pattern more than a phenomenon
ISM 15 Aug — The so called ‘price tag’ campaign is regarded to be a product of the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, yet the price tag to Israeli occupation and fanatical land grabbing is much more a general concept, aligned with the policy and practice of Israel let alone its illegal settlements. The ‘price tag’ campaign, after all, is the settler pursuit to claim as much indigenous land while terrorizing Palestinians with arson, gunfire, vandalizing, and other forms of harassment resulting in even death. While Israelis may domestically see a difference between illegal settlers and the State, the Palestinian who loses self-autonomy and land ownership by military or by fanatical settlers never was able to tell the difference between what seems to be a mutual sharing of a national agenda.
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Al Khalil (Hebron): Vacations from the Occupation / Paulette Schroeder
When an unexpected surprise — like a small, fragile flower pushing itself through a cement block — occurs,  I feel a certain bliss, a moment of awe, an instant vacation.  For a moment, all is well.  Some such moments I have felt working in Hebron for the last three years include the following:  A Palestinian hearing the call to prayer, unfolding his prayer rug on the street, kneeling to pray; An Israeli soldier offering coffee to the Palestinian street cleaner; A full-grown sheep managing to go successfully through the checkpoint turnstile; A ‘flotilla’ of kites flying overhead, one of them dressed in a Palestinian flag;. A sick camel coming into my neighborhood to receive medicine; A day at the checkpoints with no ID checks; A shopkeeper leaving his shop unattended to take me to another shop to find what I need; A small child kissing my hand, and then raising my hand to his/her forehead as a sign of honor; Two young men after an hour of detention coming back to thank us for our presence at the checkpoint;  A shepherd offering hospitality after settlers stole his donkey.
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Analysis: Solution for Jerusalem / Daoud Kuttab
Ma‘an 11 Aug — Chambers of commerce in some Palestinian cities held elections over the past few weeks and municipal elections are planned for October. One Palestinian city that will not see any local elections just happens to be Palestine’s capital in waiting. For the past 44 years, East Jerusalem has been prevented from carrying out any activity that might represent any sort of local government. Israel’s unilateral annexation of occupied East Jerusalem and the forced municipal unity with Israeli West Jerusalem has left the holy city in limbo. Palestinians rejected the annexation and unification of the city, and have boycotted municipal elections since 1967. A number of US-Israeli-Palestinian agreements give the PLO permission to hold offices in East Jerusalem and stipulate that Israel should not close down existing Palestinian organizations and institutions. But Israel has been ignoring these understandings and effectively ensured that Palestinians in the city remain leaderless. In addition to banning East Jerusalem municipal elections, Israel closed down the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce, the Orient House and many other Palestinian institutions. Any public event Palestinians consider holding in East Jerusalem is quickly dubbed a ‘Palestinian Authority’ event and therefore illegal, according to Israel’s draconian emergency laws.
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Jerusalem Old City restoration shows gateway to the past
Ynet 17 Aug — Project reveals hidden secrets at Jaffa, Damascus gates, puts new spin on an old legend … Israel Antiquities Authority architect Avi Mashiah, who led the project together with architects Tamar Nativ and Yuval Avraham, said: “There are two stories here. On the one hand, there is the most magnificent of the gates, and on the other, signs of changes over the years. When you strengthen one story you weaken another. In the end, we decided there was no reason to preserve mistakes and to try to restore the [Damascus] gate to its appearance in 1538.” That decision required the production of reconstructed elements closely resembling the originals. “Auditions” were held to choose the right stonemason. The winner was a Palestinian stonemason from the village of Hizma, north of Jerusalem, who did the best job of copying the Ottoman originals.
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Israel’s former Soviet immigrants transform adopted country / Harriet Sherwood
Guardian 17 Aug — Russian-speaking Jews who arrived over the past 20 years have integrated little, but influenced everything from culture to politics — … “It was a very different type of immigration,” said Lily Galili, an Israeli journalist writing a book about the impact of the tidal wave from the former Soviet Union. “They didn’t want to integrate. They wanted to lead. They changed the nature of the country.”Nowhere is this more apparent than in Israeli politics, particularly in the rise of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Moldova-born foreign minister, and his far-right party, Yisrael Beiteinu.
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Attacks lead Israel to condemn the Arab Spring

Aug 19, 2011

Paul Mutter

Following yesterday’s terrorist attacks near Eilat, the Israeli Defense Forces launched air strikes at Rafah, Gaza, killing at least six Palestinians (including members of the Popular Resistance Committees, who Israel alleges are behind the attacks). Further IDF action in Gaza, apparently directed at Hamas targets, began in the early morning hours today.

Though Israel also says it knows the ultimate point of origin of the attacks: Tahrir Square, Cairo!

Yes, Tahrir Square. “It is clear that the Egyptian revolution that began in Tahrir Square and spread through other Arab states has now made its way into Israel,” states a Haaretzanalysis of the attacks. Ynet says, that “Sinai turns into terror hotbed – and Israel is first to pay [the] price.”

The official Israeli response clearly intimates the unreliability of the “new” Egypt in maintaining Israel’s security (even though, the military response is focused on Gaza). Defense Minister Ehud Barak told reporters that “the incident shows the weakening Egyptian grip on Sinai and the widening operation of terrorists there…”

CNN chimes in that the Egyptians now “have something else to worry about: the use of Egyptian soil by Islamist extremists to recruit, train, acquire arms and take the fight to Israel.” And U.S. officials have also stated that “the attacks reinforce concerns about the ability and willingness of the Egyptian government to safeguard its borders against the passage of militants and weapons” (Egypt, as a major U.S.-aid recipient, ought to be worried over these Beltway rumblings, especially since popular demonstrations are still going on Egypt ).

While all of these individuals have a point – the Sinai hasbecome a greater security issue in 2011, for both Israel and Egypt – the Israeli government (and American neoconservatives) has been questioning Egyptian “reliability” for months, and not just over the Sinai. Egypt’s reliability is being questioned because Israel’s long-time ally, Mubarak, is now on trial after being deposed by the army and demonstrations. The new situation in the region unnerves the government: Better the devils you know – Mubarak and Assad – than the ones you don’t.

Haaretz’s military analyst Amir Oren had this to say:

“Israel has lost a cold but tough partner. Mubarak also had difficulty imposing authority on Sinai, but his deposers and heirs aren’t even trying… Egypt is a hostile state that enables Israel’s enemies [the popular resistance committees and Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Iran] to attack it.”

Oren evinced the growing sense of siege that the Israeli security establishment feels today:

“Without Mubarak, and with Hamas in Gaza, with a Jordanian king fearing for his throne and an American administration that doesn’t believe in Israel’s judgment, what comes next could be even worse.”

This is very much in line with statements made by the Netanyahu government, particularly Foreign Minister Lieberman. Lieberman regards the seizure of power by pro-Iranian Islamists in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya as very real possibilities. Last may he concluded that the “Arab Spring” will end in an “Iranian Winter,” a view echoed in the U.S. as well.

My understanding of the damage is different. The attacks coincide with ongoing Egyptian military operations against Islamist groups in the Sinai Peninsula (a move Israel endorsed). Since the fall of Mubarak, anti-government fighters in the Sinai have been attacking Egyptian military outposts, infiltrating into towns and blowing up gas pipelines between Egypt and Israel. Since Mubarak’s fall, the Israeli government has asserted that Hamas has redoubled its efforts to ship weapons into Gaza through the tunnels (indeed, the Egyptian Army’s control of the region slackened during the anti-regime protests; the resulting campaign is an effort to reassert control over the strategic peninsula).

In choosing to target Eilat, the attackers may have sought to influence Egypt’s position towards Israel by stoking the fires of anti-Israeli sentiment in the region. Remember that one of the first things the transitional government that replaced Israel’s long-time ally Mubarak promised to do was uphold the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, a treaty which at the time was regarded as an act of capitulation by then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. The transitional government had absolutely no desire to test Israeli will or American largess by repudiating that treaty, or the agreements that followed it. By attacking targets on the Israeli-Egyptian border, the insurgents may hope to win accolades for so brazenly “sticking it” to the two main regional powers.

For the Israeli government, of course, the latest attacks present an oppotunity to have the country “rally ’round the flag.” With the Palestinian statehood initiative at the UN pending and a series of social protests among Israelis of all political colors, this event takes some of the pressure off the latter and allows Israel to refocus debate on the UN initiative. The Knesset is already closing ranks behind the PM, and the J14 demonstrators will be giving their weekend protests over to solidarity rallies with the Israeli victims of the attack.

Assertions that the “Arab Spring” is undermining Israeli security are exactly what the attackers, whether Palestinian, Egyptian or even members of al Qaeda, want to hear: Israel condemning the “Arab Spring” because it poses a threat to Israeli security (never mind what Egypt’s army does to Egyptians; just keep the borders sealed).

Israeli security concerns are valid: terrorists, possibly working to destabilize both Egypt and Israel, have invaded Israeli territory and killed Israeli civilians. But Israeli denunciations of the “Arab Spring” are counterproductive; they only reinforce the perception that Israel supports dictatorial rule in the region. No one’s security is being served by Netanyahu’s response – including Israel’s.

Barghouti: The tent protests ‘[are] the epitome of hysterical denial of the colonial reality’

Aug 19, 2011

Kiera Feldman

Kiera Feldman conducted the following interview with Omar Barghouti over email in early August:

Kiera Feldman: How will the boycott law affect you personally? Are you changing your actions or speech in any way?

Omar Barghouti: We are all determined to carry on what we have been doing for years now: BDS. Far from deterring us, this law will only strengthen our resolve to continue to expose Israel’s occupation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid and to demand accountability for them in accordance with international law.

The Israeli establishment is increasingly, though unwittingly, helping our campaign to spread by revealing Israel’s true face as a rogue state that denies Palestinians their basic rights and freedoms with complicity from Western governments and international corporations. This law is among the very last veneers of democracy that Israel is now dropping, thus risking full exposure to, and dire consequences from international public opinion.

KF: As a prominent leader in the BDS movement, do you worry that you’ll be targeted?

OB: This is not about any individual activist; it is targeting the whole BDS movement as a global, Palestinian led campaign that raises the compelling slogan of freedom, justice and equality and that has broken through the barriers of the western mainstream, winning allies in trade unions, academia, cultural circles, faith groups, and, crucially, liberal Jewish groups. Israel’s nuclear weapons and massive military might are deemed largely ineffective in countering this morally-consistent, nonviolent movement that is anchored in international law and universal human rights.

We are all concerned about Israel’s intensifying repression, but we are determined to counter it with our own intensification of BDS, with the wonderful support of our principled, anti-colonial Israeli partners and our allies worldwide.

KF: What impact do you think the boycott law will have on BDS organizing within Israel? And outside of Israel?

OB: At first, BDS, like any Palestinian led resistance and international solidarity with it, is bound to enhance Israel’s already tribal, paranoid consensus in support of apartheid and settler colonialism. But Israel is not unique in this; all colonial regimes, from South African apartheid to the French colonial rule in Algeria, go through this initial phase of “circling the wagons” when faced with resilient, rights-based and effective resistance. But as soon as this resistance starts exacting a heavy price from the colonial community, cracks start appearing in the wall of complicity and dissent takes off. We are not there yet, but we are headed without doubt in that direction.

BDS is clearly growing at an impressive rate, raising the cost of Israel’s occupation and apartheid. The cultural boycott, in particular, has started biting in a very significant way, making more and more Israelis see their state’s naked image in the mirror, and it is an ugly scene of war crimes, siege, militarism, vile colonial hubris, and power drunkenness that many cannot bear. Many do not like it and are already questioning whether this is the future they would want for their children.

These tendencies have not yet translated into a flood of support for BDS in Israel, but they have been reflected in the encroaching process of mainstreaming the idea of boycott in Israeli society. Hundreds of leading cultural figures, academics, so-called “peace” groups, among others, have already adopted partial boycotts against colonies, for the first time ever. This is a slippery slope, though. They start with a selective boycott first, largely to “save Israel,” essentially as an apartheid state, but by doing so they inadvertently legitimate the tactic of boycott, thus opening the door for BDS to grow.

As the BDS campaign spreads steadily from Europe to Canada to the US to Asia, Latin America, Australia and Africa, we are witnessing a corresponding, gradual but steady erosion of Israel’s standing in world public opinion and in its impunity as a state above the law. It will increasingly be seen as a world pariah, and that will eventually repel investments, joint projects and visits. A South Africa moment is reaching Israel, gradually but surely. The establishment establishment is keenly aware of this and is panicking, as a result, as its weapons of choice — intimidation, vilification, racist incitement and blunt repression — prove pathetically inadequate in its fight against BDS.

Two main corporate targets of the global BDS campaign, Agrexco and Veolia, just to give a concrete example, have suffered massive losses lately. While both corporations are desperately trying to hide or dismiss the impact of BDS on their bottom line, there is absolutely no doubt that the billions of dollars wroth of contracts that Veolia has lost in the last couple of years and the closing of markets in Europe and elsewhere in the face of Agrexco were to a large extent, but not exclusively, a result of BDS campaigns. Other management and financial factors have played a role as well, clearly. This will be a lesson to many corporations that are still profiting from Israel’s occupation and apartheid. As in South Africa, when their profits start dwindling and their brands are sullied as partners in Israeli apartheid, these international profit-maximizing corporations will start abandoning ship much more rapidly.

KF: Within Israel, the boycott law has stirred up support for settlement boycotts among liberals. I wonder if it’s maybe less-than-helpful to have a renewed drive among liberal Zionists to keep fantasizing, “If only the Occupation were over, then everything would be better.” What do you make of this focus on settlement boycotts over the full call?

OB: This was mostly answered above but I’ll add we welcome every partial boycott of Israel and its complicit institutions, despite the intentions of some of its initiators. Those calling now for a boycott of colonial settlements, after decades of silence in the face of a brutal system of occupation and apartheid, are obviously doing so to undermine or circumvent the wider, more principled, and by far more morally consistent BDS campaign. Rather than weakening BDS, though, they are really contributing to making the ground more fertile for its future growth.

Soft Zionists have always tried to maintain a gate-keeping role in channeling solidarity with Palestinians, specifically with a small subset of Palestinian rights, while suppressing any attempt to develop an independent Palestinian resistance strategy based on self determination and justice.

With BDS, this Zionist gate-keeper hegemony is largely in tatters, and soft Zionists are taking it quite harshly, acting out and throwing media tantrums here and there, accusing Palestinian civil society of “betraying” them and hurting in the process its own interests. In their twisted, self-centered world view, typical of apologists for colonialism anywhere, they think that if they withdraw their support, Palestinians would lose their only hope for emancipation. This racist colonial discourse, though, has been largely discredited and soft Zionists have increasingly been revealed to many as a fraud, purely interested in egotistic self preservation and in safeguarding Israeli apartheid.

The litmus test for any Israeli group claiming to support human rights and a sustainable peace based on justice and international law is whether it is ready to support the most basic right to full equality for the indigenous Palestinians. If they do, this which would automatically translate to embracing the right of return for Palestinian refugees systematically and brutally ethnically cleansed during the Nakba and ever since. Calling for an end to the occupation alone, as if that would end Israel’s multi-tiered system of colonial oppression, ignores the basic human rights of two thirds of the indigenous people of Palestine. No conscientious human rights advocate can be so selective, hence racist.

KF: The rights-based approach is, of course, a hallmark of the BDS movement. In a recent speech, you noted, “It is not a Jewish issue. It’s an Israeli colonial apartheid issue, and it should remain within those parameters.” At the same time, American BDS supporters (e.g. Jewish Voice for Peace) often invoke Jewish values and traditions in their organizing. In the BDS movement, what are the positives and negatives of the mobilization of Jewish identity?

OB: There is no contradiction between evoking the best in Jewish heritage to support the Palestinian struggle for justice and self determination on the one hand and the statement that BDS and Palestinian resistance in general should not be reduced to a Jewish issue or an intra-Jewish debate, as J Street has consciously — yet abortively — tried to make BDS, most recently, on the other. Universal human rights should be upheld for all humans and by all humans, regardless of ethnic, religious, national or any other identity attribute. The Palestinian civil society leadership of the BDS campaign, the BDS National Committee (BNC), has strongly endorsed the JVP-led campaign to pressure TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that are complicit in Israel’s violations of international law. We see JVP as an important ally in the US. We also have partners in the US Jewish community that fully endorse BDS, such as such as the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, American Jews for a Just Peace, etc.

The fact the JVP, among other Jewish groups, resorts partially to the bright side of Jewish ethics is first up to them and second is something that they should be praised for. They do not attempt to privilege this dimension over human rights and international law. In other words, they do not endorse or try to impose what I call in this US context “Jewish privilege,” whereby you cannot criticize or act against Israel and its policies unless you are Jewish, for fear of being labelled as anti-Semitic. We respect diversity and context-sensitive strategizing by our allies and partners. Our main concern is respect for the three basic rights listed in the BDS Call: ending occupation and colonization of the 1967 territory; ending the system of racial discrimination within Israel by establishing full equality; and the right of return for our refugees in accordance with UN resolution 194. JVP endorses these rights, clarity of language or lack of it notwithstanding, and this is the main foundation of our strong and strengthening relationship with them.

By putting tribal allegiance to Israel over fundamental commitment to universal human rights, however, Zionist Jewish organizations in the US and the West in general consciously abet in propagating the racist, indeed anti-Semitic, myth that Israel speaks on behalf of the entire world Jewry and that it is entitled to do so. Reducing Jews to a monolithic group that thinks alike and that is automatically expected to ignore suffering by other humans when the oppressors are themselves Jewish is not only anti-semitic; it is categorically false and deceptive. There is rich diversity among Jews worldwide; many in the leadership of BDS groups in the West as well as in South Africa and elsewhere are Jewish. Many leading cultural figures that have endorsed and advocated BDS are Jewish. All these insist that their humanity comes first and that no oppressor state like Israel can appropriate their wills or speak on their behalf.

KF: A few Jewish Israeli BDS supporters have told me that the tent protests feel like a game changer—that there is a kind of revolutionary feeling in the air. What do you think the tent protests might mean for the BDS movement? Do the demands of the BDS call feel any closer at hand or any more attainable?

OB: My overall assessment of this new Israeli initiative is that it is little more than a creative whitewashing, copycat movement with shallow roots and shallower commitment to real social-political transformation which must be based on justice and human rights. This whole reformist effort is largely led by middle class Ashkenazi Jews who prefer to polish the chains of Israeli apartheid, to borrow from Desmond Tutu, rather than breaking them altogether.

Demanding lower rents and affordable housing is a legitimate and justified demand in any normal country; the problem is, Israel is anything but. Diverting attention from the huge elephant in the room, Israel’s occupation, colonialism and apartheid, to the narrow concerns of the Jewish-Israeli, colonial middle class cannot but be seen as an ill-conceived effort, at a minimum, or a downright racist and complicit effort that aims at perpetuating Israel’s regime of oppression against the indigenous Palestinians, whether in Israel, in the shatat (exile) or in the occupied Palestinian territory. A struggle to maintain colonial privileges for the Jewish population of Israel at the expense of basic justice for the Palestinians is immoral and colonial to the boot.

Even if we put moral and legal considerations aside, you would think that an honest and rational social movement (if we can even call this movement in Israel that) that is trying to imitate the spreading Arab Spring, would figure out that Israel’s military spending added to the overall cost of the occupation, the colonies, their infrastructure, the wall, etc. are the main reason behind the massive inequalities in Israel and the extremely unjust distribution of wealth (one of the highest in the developed world).

It is equivalent to Afrikaaners, say, demonstrating in Cape Town in the 1980s for better housing for the middle class (read: all white), while completely ignoring apartheid and its crimes. It would have been a joke then. It is a joke now–a nasty one. Most Arabs are watching this copycat Israeli attempt in amusement and a good deal of disgust. It is the epitome of hysterical denial of the colonial reality.

Weprin ought to read Hamlet

Aug 19, 2011

Philip Weiss

It’s striking that David Weprin, Democratic candidate for congress in Brooklyn, said of the attacks yesterday in Israel, “This highlights the fact that giving up land for peace is never a good idea.” As a friend notes, That’s astonishingly ignorant talk. What’s he suggesting, permanent colonization?

Weprin ought to see Hamlet.

Last week, I saw this production. I was completely focused on the Palestinian angle. Of course it is a revenge story, but one element of the revenge is irredentist: about the recovery of land. In the first act we learn that young Fortinbras of Norway is threatening Denmark because Fortinbras’s father was killed by Hamlet’s father, the king, some 25 or 30 years before, when Denmark took a lot of Norway’s territory. And then at the end of the play, Fortinbras comes on the stage. He’s conquered, and he says, “I have some rights of memory in this kingdom, Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.” And Hamlet, whose own revenge story has concluded at this point with a bunch of bodies piled on stage, says, “He has my dying voice.” So he endorses Fortinbras’s recovery of lands– surely in defiance of his own father’s wishes…

Irredentism is a powerful and often destructive force. Hundreds of thousands were killed along the India-Pakistan border during irredentist struggles following Partition. The Serbs don’t recognize Kosovo, they have some rights of memory in that kingdom… And yet it is an everlasting force, as Hamlet proves, and the best answer to the violent impulse to recover lost property is international law: UN resolutions on the right of return and the end of the occupation, long ignored by Israel and its friends who believe they can have security without fairness…

[Tangential P.S. I have to say that the performance of Hamlet by Matthew Amendt was stunning. Remember that name. To see a young man make Hamlet his own– adolescent, passionate, over-intellectual, punklike– as if he were the first person playing the role– I was standing with everyone else at the end.]

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Michael Rubin says Obama/Khalidi will support Palestinian statehood so as to wreak ‘Israel’s demise’


I kept one eye on former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin during the Iraq War drumming because he was young and red-cheeked and not as smooth as the grownup monsters (Abrams/Perle/Feith) and I thought he was trying to sound halfway-reasonable. But it turns out that under the gloss of International Relations he’s… gosh, a pro-Israel zealot like so many of the rest.  This piece at Commentary is nutty in a very entertaining way, and lends further latter-day support to the Walt and Mearsheimer thesis that the Iraq war couldn’t have happened without the Israel lobby.

In Rubin’s view, Samantha Power is an anti-Israel intellectual (a thoughtful, careful woman who praised Marty Peretz and Leon Wieseltier, the “wisest man in Washington,” in her breakout book). The Palestinian statehood initiative would spell “Israel’s demise.” And Rashid Khalidi is still a close adviser of Barack Obama. On what evidence?

Though I like Rubin’s Truman analogy: Truman defied the establishment to recognize Israel; Obama would have to defy it to OK a Palestinian state. True. And why did the establishment change? Because the nature of American leadership culture changed, because Jews were at last permitted into the power structure. Robert Kaplan, ushering out the Arabists, could state that the recognition of Israel was a great “liberal” advance, and Michael Beschloss and Walter Russell Mead and everyone else agreed, for the time being anyway…  Rubin (thanks to Jim Lobe):

Rashid Khalidi, a current adviser to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, remains a close Obama confidante. While The Los Angeles Times continues to withhold the tape of Obama’s toast to Khalidi prior to the professor’s departure for a post at Columbia University, Obama’s speech perhaps gave an inkling of his sympathy toward the Palestine Liberation Organization and his antipathy toward Israel.

Obama entered office with strong opinions. His understanding of the real reasons for the lack of peace in the Middle East was shoddy, shaped as it was by a former PLO activist and an Ivy League bubble. He reportedly still remains enthralled by anti-Israel intellectual Samantha Power.  Intellectual arrogance, however, appears to prevent Obama from reconsidering his assumptions. Rather, he digs in his heels.

That the State Department has come out against unilateral recognition is irrelevant. After all, Secretary of State Clinton also came out against any demands that Syrian President Bashar Assad step aside just days before Obama demanded that Assad step aside. In his speech about the Middle East last May, Obama appears to have left himself too much wiggle room for comfort. Certainly, a US vote in favor of unilateral Palestinian statehood would unleash chaos. The question is whether when the smoke cleared, President Obama thought he might be remembered positively for the fait accompli.

Harry Truman defied the establishment to recognize Israel. We should not discount the possibility that Obama might defy the establishment to advance Israel’s demise. Beware the September surprise.

Actually, I think this piece is hysterical. Israel exists; no one is going to destroy it. The Palestinians are powerless. Before too long, the society will likely be transformed– and if you take Omar Barghouti’s Algerian analogy, which is an outcome I don’t pray for, many Israelis will leave the place. But what everyone on this site actually seeks is a transformation that honors equal rights…

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AEI Middle East expert


A person who wishes to remain anonymous sent me this:  The American Enterprise Institute’s Middle East “expert” Michael Rubin quotes “a Syrian Muslim Brotherhood activist” in a blog post, also published in Commentary Magazine:

“Syrian Muslim Brotherhood activist” is in fact sheikh Mohammed Said Ramadan al-Bouti, possibly the best known pro-Assad cleric in all of Damascus. Now, that’s solid scholarship, isn’t it?  (If you want to quote this on your blog, feel free —

What Lies Beneath the Surface in Syria?

By Michael Rubin

Several years ago, Farid Ghadry​–a Syrian exile activist–published a piece in the Middle East Quarterly looking at what political trends lay beneath the surface of Syria’s Baathist dictatorship.

While Ghadry himself does not have any following in Syria or among Syrians, his analysis is nonetheless apt: He identified the discussions groups that arose during the short-lived “Damascus Spring” and hypothesized that they represented the proto-political parties which might develop.

The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is perhaps the best organized opposition movement in Syria. Their rise would be inimical to American interests.

  • Among the best-known discussion circles is the Al-Kawakibi Forum, named after Abdul Rahman al-Kawakibi (1849-1902), an intellectual who advocated an Arab renaissance modeled after the eighteenth century European enlightenment. Led by Majid Manjouneh, an intellectual from Aleppo, the Kawakibi Forum gained an immediate following…

  • Another forum that simultaneously rose to prominence was … named after Jamal Atassi, a Nasserite intellectual who died in 2000. The Atassi Forum supported 1950s-style Arab nationalism and was both vocal in its support of Palestinian statehood and its rejection of Israel…

  • The Syrian parliamentarian Riad Sa’if, since jailed for his anti-corruption activities, formed the National Dialogue Forum (Muntada al-Hiwar al-Watani), which, as a result of its discussions, issued the Manifesto of Social Peace (Wathiqat as-Sulm al-Ijtima’i), which called for transparency and accountability in the government.

  • Separately, Ma’amoun al-Homsi, another member of parliament, issued his famous August 7, 2001 declaration in which he asked Assad to respect human rights and begin lifting the emergency laws.

Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood​ may dominate a post-Assad Syria for the same reason which it might rise to dominate Egypt. Even if most non-Alawi Syrians do not support it, the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is perhaps the best organized opposition movement in Syria. Their rise would be inimical to American interests. Here is what one Syrian Muslim Brotherhood activist wrotein 2001:

The verse [Qur. 9:5] does not leave any room in the mind to conjecture about what is called defensive war. This verse asserts that holy war, which is demanded in Islamic law, is not a defensive war because it could legitimately be an offensive war. That is the apex and most honorable of all holy wars. Its goal is the exaltation of the word of God, the construction of Islamic society, and the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth regardless of the means. It is legal to carry on an offensive holy war.

Make no mistake: The Western educated eye-doctor should go and quickly. The endless parade of Congressmen and Senators who paid homage to Assad in Damascus was truly shameful. Let’s hope, though, that the White House and the State Department have given some thought about what comes next, and how they might maximize leverage to influence the outcome on the day after.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI.

but please leave my name and nationality out.)”

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