Monday, December 31, 2007

Pastor Manuel and PCAS Chairman call for Pope Benedict XVI to end siege

Muslims and Christians of Gaza Strip make an appeal to the Pope

Urgent appeal to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI

"From the land of prophets, peace and blessings and from the besieged Gaza we send you our heartfelt greetings as well as toward all Christians around the globe. On behalf of the besieged, poor and simple people of the Gaza Strip, we pass on our greetings on the occasion of Christmas. We aspire from our only God to bring security and peace to all nations in this world.

To His Holiness the Pope,

We address His Holiness in honour of your vital religious roles, effective actions and echoing sermons. We address and urge His Holiness on behalf of Palestinians, especially the besieged Gazans who live under a devilish siege imposed by Israelis, to intervene without delay. Israeli occupation has imposed comprehensive siege in which all crossing points and terminals are closed, preventing people from moving in and outside the Gaza Strip.

Serious ramifications have resulted from this illegal siege and flagrant violations of human rights laws have been committed. People are not allowed to obtain medicine or travel abroad for treatment! Basic medical devices are out of order now and Israelis have forbidden the entry of spare parts into Gaza, causing more health complications for patients. So far, 51 patients have died due to Israeli closure and medications shortage. Additionally, more than 1,500 are about to encounter imminent death for the same reason and other patients are exposed to further deterioration of their health, including people who suffer from chronic illness, infants and the elderly.

In addition to that, projects of infrastructure, building and development have been stopped! All raw materials needed in these projects are prevented from entering the Gaza Strip. Moreover, more than 3,900 factories and industrial enterprises have shut down, which resulted in leaving 140,000 unemployed! Poverty rates have reached incredible levels pushing more people under the poverty line and towards misery and bringing about a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Thus, we appeal to His Holiness to hear and eases off our pains, sufferings and ordeals caused by occupation. We appeal to you to intervene by your sermons that touch hearts and consciences and call for ending this siege. This siege is an obvious violation against human rights laws, Geneva conventions and all international human charters.

We aspire in God and You, a just word of wisdom and support for our just Palestinian cause.

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas.

With all respect,

Pastor of Latin sect in the Gaza Strip,

Manuel Musalam &

Popular Committee Against Siege Chairman,

Independent Parliamentarian in Gaza Strip,

Jamal N. El Khoudary"

Stranded pilgrims riot in Egypt

"Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims have rioted in temporary camps set up to house them until a dispute over their return to the Gaza Strip has been resolved.

Israel has insisted that the pilgrims returning from Hajj must all pass through Israeli crossing points from Egypt, saying that some may be carrying arms or money for Hamas. The pilgrims have refused to comply, saying Israel could arrest some of them. They are insisting they be allowed to return to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

"There were massive protests today by hundreds of angry Palestinian pilgrims inside the shelter set up by Egyptian authorities," a security source told Reuters news agency. Media reports said that windows were smashed and fires started in the camps in the town of El-Arish in Siani as the Palestinians rioted.

An elderly woman died of heart attack as she was caught up in the violence, according to local medical officials.

During Monday's riots, the pilgrims shouted angry slogans against Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, and his government for not allowing them to cross into Gaza through Rafah, where Israel has no control.

'Egypt pressured'

Al Jazeera's Amr el-Kahky in El-Arish said that Egypt was under pressure from Israel not to let the pilgrims through the Rafah crossing......

Egyptian authorities had tried to persuade them to spend the night in shelters in a sports complex or at a youth hostel in El-Arish until a decision was reached on their return. But hundreds of them refused to stay in the shelters, spending the night outside before Monday's violence.

After Egyptian security brought the rioting under control, many of the pilgrims continued their protest by refusing to accept meals provided by the government.

Gaza protest

Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah crossing has angered Hamas officials and supporters in Gaza, who say Cairo has a moral obligation to allow the pilgrims to return as quickly as possible.

About 7,000 demonstrators gathered at the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing on Saturday, waving Palestinian and Hamas flags and demanding that the pilgrims be allowed to cross......."

The Beilin Syndrome

Paving the Road to Hell



"....Yossi Beilin, who resigned this week as chairman of the Meretz party, is Mephisto's opposite: he always wants the good and all too often creates the bad.

THE "SETTLEMENT BLOCS" provide a glaring example. It was Beilin who invented this term a dozen years ago. It was included in the unofficial understanding that became known as the "Beilin-Abu-Mazen agreement".

The intention was good. Beilin believed that if most settlers were concentrated in several limited areas near the Green Line, the settlers as a whole would agree to a withdrawal from the rest of the West Bank.

The actual result was disastrous. The government and the settlers jumped at the opportunity. The permit of the "Zionist peace movement" was displayed like a Kosher certificate on the wall of a butcher shop selling pork chops. The settlement blocs were enlarged at a frantic pace and became veritable towns, like Ma'aleh Adumim, the Etzion Bloc and Modi'in Illit......

His input to Oslo was certainly significant. But he did not prevent two black holes in the agreement: the omission of the crucial words "Palestinian state" and the absence of an unequivocal ban on the continuation of settlement activity.

These two faults have buried the agreement. The negotiations for a permanent peace agreement, which were to be concluded in 1999, did not even start. The settlements were being enlarged rapidly while everybody was talking about peace......

BEILIN'S PROBLEMS go beyond his personal story. They symbolize the tragedy of the camp which calls itself the "Zionist Left". Probably the appellation itself already contains the problem.

This camp was born a hundred years ago, and it seems that it never once engaged in real self-criticism. In his last interview, Beilin uses all the terminology of the Zionist establishment. Like everybody else he calls the Palestinian fighters in the Gaza strip "terrorists". In his scale of values, "it is important that a boy attains the rank of an outstanding soldier". And, of course, "If Israel ceases to be a Jewish state, I will have no more interest in it."

With such views, the Zionist peace camp cannot become a political fighting force, engage in a real opposition struggle, bring about change in the country. And that is more than just one of Yossi Beilin's personal problems."

Palestinian Hamas security force officers pull razor-wire in front of demonstrators during a protest supporting Hajj pilgrims stranded in Egypt in front of the Egyptian border crossing with Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. Thousands of Hamas supporters and relatives of Palestinians stuck in Egypt after a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia rallied at the Gaza-Egypt border on Monday to demand the stranded pilgrims' return.
(AP Photo)

Women hold up placards during a demonstration in Amman December 31, 2007. The protesters urged Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing so as to allow Palestinian haj pilgrims to return home. The placards read: "To our Arab regimes, end the Gaza blockade".

Palestinian pilgrims rest at a temporary shelter on a street outside the Mediterranean coastal city of el-Arish, Egypt, December 31, 2007. Stranded Palestinian haj pilgrims protesting at Egypt's refusal to allow them to return to Gaza through a Hamas-controlled crossing, smashed furniture and windows at a shelter on Monday, a security source said.

THIS IS WHAT THE PHARAOH'S ARMY IS FOR: Egyptian anti-riot soldiers surround Palestinian pilgrims at one of their temporary camps in the Sinai outside the Mediterranean coastal city of el-Arish, Egypt, Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. More than a thousand Palestinian pilgrims set fire on Monday to temporary camps set up by the Egyptian government to house them until a dispute over how they will return to the Gaza Strip is resolved and protesting Egypt's attempts to have them return to Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Aouja border crossing.
(AP Photo)

Knesset war report: IDF failed to eliminate Hizbullah rocket threat

Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee reveals findings of independent probe into Second Lebanon War, but refrains from making personal recommendations, citing 'that's what the Winograd Commission is for'

"......"The IDF was supposed to eliminate the threat of Hizbullah's short-range rockets, but in the 34 days of fighting failed to do so… nevertheless, the committee has learned that the lessons derived from the war have been properly assimilated and implemented."......"

After Bhutto: a Nuclear Pakistan?

An Interview with Adrian Levy


"In the wake of Bhutto's tragic assassination, renewed international attention focuses itself on Pakistan's political instability and nuclear capabilities. The United States and President Musharraf adamantly state that the Pakistani military represents the only stable safeguard against potential radical extremists and Al Qaeda sympathizers taking over Islamabad and controlling Pakistan's nuclear weapons and technology. Playwright Wajahat Ali received an exclusive interview with Guardian journalist Adrian Levy, author of the explosive new book, "Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons," to discuss Pakistan's political past, present, and future regarding nuclear proliferation and its volatile relationship with the United States.

ALI: Adrian Levy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. All around the world, Benazir Bhutto's assassination tops the headlines. You've done extensive and exhaustive research on Pakistan's international and domestic policies. What are the repercussions of this tragedy in relation to Pakistan's current political stability?........

First, please explain the relationship of Musharraf and Bush post 9-11 and specifically how it relates to Pakistan's nuclear capability and ambitions? Second, one argument is that Musharraf's military dictatorship, although it is hardly labeled as such by the White House, must be supported out of necessity to ensure nuclear technology does not fall in the hands of extremists and Al Qaeda. Basically, the line goes: if no Musharraf, then Al Qaeda has a nuclear bomb. How legitimate is this threat and assertion?

It's completely false, a completely false assertion put forward by two groups of people: a circle of neo-conservatives from the Vice President's office and the Pentagon. They didn't want to get involved in the messy business of building a democracy, and they did want to get involved with dealing with a dictatorship, because it is easier to talk down on the phone to a General than it was to talk about a messy democratic system. They were on the verge, before 9-11, in proclaiming Pakistan a terrorist state for supporting Al-Qaeda, for nuclear proliferation. In fact, if we look at all the facts, we had a military regime that was suppressing human rights, that was proliferating, that was supporting terrorism, that had a threatening link to 9-11. That was not Iraq. It wasn't Iraq. There was only one country that ticked all of those boxes: Pakistan. And yet, a group of neo-cons around the President had an agenda that went back to 1992 and that agenda was Iraq. They thought Saddam should be the next suitable target. Consequently, all information on Pakistan were downscaled. Quite honestly, the greatest threat was instability in Pakistan, and yet that's something American didn't want to get involved with........"

Pakistan: the Aftermath

The Dark Night is Far From Over


".....Why were Bush, Negroponte and their British acolytes so determined to fix the crisis in Pakistan in this fashion? What did they think it would achieve? What brave new world did they envisage?

Virtually all their assumptions are based on facts that are systematically and selectively pruned, distorted or overstated. The aim is to avoid all Western responsibility for the present crisis. Since all this is endlessly repeated with minor variations by the global media networks, it is worth treating each major theme in turn......

It's worth remembering that Pakistan perfected its nuclear device during the Eighties under the dictatorship of General Zia-ul Haq, a valued ally of the West and central to its then war against the Evil Empire (the Soviet Union) in Afghanistan. The United States was so obsessed with punishing the Russians that it did so by both organising a global jihadi network to recruit militants to fight the holy war in Afghanistan and turning a blind eye to Pakistan's hardly secret construction of a nuclear facility.....

....But as the Pentagon and the DIA know full well, the Pakistani military command structure has never been broken and that the generals are heavily dependent on US funds and weaponry. The Pakistan Army invoices Centcom in Florida each month for its activities on the Pak-Afghan border. It is the military as an institution that delivers the goods, not individual generals......

Pakistan is not a 'failed state' in the sense of the Congo or Rwanda. It is a dysfunctional state and has been in this situation for almost four decades. Sometimes the situation is better and sometimes worse. At the heart of this dysfunctionality is the country's domination by the Army and each successive period of military rule has made things worse. It is this that has prevented political stability and the emergence of stable institutions. Here the United States bears direct responsibility since it has always regarded the military as the only institution in the country it can do business with and this is still the case. This is the rock that has diverted admittedly choppy waters into a headlong torrent. Economically the country is lop-sided with a corrupt and ultra-rich elite, but surely this is perfect for the Washington Consensus. And the World Bank has been full of praise for the economic policies of Musharraf.

The latest crisis is a direct result of the NATO occupation and war in Afghanistan which has destabilised Pakistan's North-West frontier and created a crisis of conscience inside the Army. There is much unhappiness at being paid to kill fellow Muslims in the tribal areas that border both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The arrogant behaviour of NATO soldiers has hardly helped matters in either country. Sending US troops to train the Pakistan military in counter-insurgency is likely to inflame passions further. Afghanistan can only be stabilised via a regional agreement involving India, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, coupled with the total withdrawal of all NATO troops. It is US attempts to avoid this that enhance the crisis in both countries......."

Israeli Intelligence: Hezbollah Stronger Than Before


"31/12/2007 An Israeli TV channel claims Hezbollah has deployed its forces again along the southern border of Lebanon despite the previous reports.

Several members of Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) including Silvan Shalom, Yuval Steinitz and Tzahi Hanegbi toured the northern border of the occupied Palestinian territory to witness 'the presence of Hezbollah there firsthand', Channel 1's evening news alleged on Sunday.

Shalom slammed the United Nations Interim Forces in South Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Armed Forces for allowing Hezbollah to deploy its forces in the region, the report added.

Meanwhile, a military official told the TV channel that Hezbollah has managed to increase its arsenal since the end of the Lebanon war.

After the end of the 33-day Israeli aggression against Lebanon, Israeli officials claimed that they managed to force the resistance group to withdraw its forces from southern Lebanon and destroyed 'about half of the group's military strength'. However, several probes launched into the performance of the Israeli military during the war indicated that the Zionist regime had suffered a crushing defeat. "

While Palestinian Pilgrims Continue to Suffer and Die in the Sinai.......

While Palestinian Pilgrims Continue to Suffer and Die in the Sinai.......

The Jackass Says, "'Humar, 'Humar, Bas A'ish!"
Jackass, Jackass, But Let Me Live!

Panic Over Pakistan

Why precipitous intervention is not the answer

By Justin Raimondo

"The drumbeat to "do something" about Pakistan – preferably of a military nature – has been going on for some time, and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is the perfect catalyst for such an enormous blunder. As far back as this last summer, the administration has been sending out signals that a direct assault on Waziristan, where Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants are reputed to be holed up, is not out of the question. It was almost embarrassing to hear the pleading tone in Pakistani Foreign Minister Kurshid Kasuri's voice, as he questioned the rationale for intervention and warned CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the U.S. had better not go there.....

As in Iraq, and across much of Africa, we are left in Pakistan with the legacy of British imperialism, which imposed on the region national boundaries that bear little if any correspondence to real political, ethnic, and religious allegiances. Pakistan never was a genuine unitary state, and today, as the country comes apart at the seams, al-Qaeda is creeping into the cracks and crevices. While bin Laden's minions are not even close to coming to power, the mere prospect of U.S. military intervention makes the jihadists salivate with anticipation: their ranks are already swelling, and the Islamist parties are gaining. The idea that a sudden infusion of "democracy" is going to solve Pakistan's problems is a Western delusion that should have died a quick death in the sands of Iraq, and didn't......

Will the Clintons stop at nothing in their bid to establish their dynastic claim to the Oval Office – not even the destabilization of a nuclear-armed Pakistan? A more disgusting opportunism would be hard to imagine – and talk about unpresidential! If this is the voice of experience, I'll take a greenhorn any time......."

My heart bleeds for Pakistan. It deserves better than this grotesque feudal charade

By Tariq Ali
The Independent

"......A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in three European courts) and two ciphers will run the party till Benazir's 19-year-old son, Bilawal, comes of age. He will then become chairperson-for-life and, no doubt, pass it on to his children. The fact that this is now official does not make it any less grotesque. The Pakistan People's Party is being treated as a family heirloom, a property to be disposed of at the will of its leader.

Nothing more, nothing less. Poor Pakistan. Poor People's Party supporters. Both deserve better than this disgusting, medieval charade......

How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future......

.....Dynastic politics is a sign of weakness, not strength. Benazir was fond of comparing her family to the Kennedys, but chose to ignore that the Democratic Party, despite an addiction to big money, was not the instrument of any one family.....

Meanwhile there is a country in crisis. Having succeeded in saving his own political skin by imposing a state of emergency, Mr Musharraf still lacks legitimacy. Even a rigged election is no longer possible on 8 January despite the stern admonitions of President George Bush and his unconvincing Downing Street adjutant. What is clear is that the official consensus on who killed Benazir is breaking down, except on BBC television. It has now been made public that, when Benazir asked the US for a Karzai-style phalanx of privately contracted former US Marine bodyguards, the suggestion was contemptuously rejected by the Pakistan government, which saw it as a breach of sovereignty......."

B'Tselem: 373 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2007

Report, B'Tselem, 31 December 2007

"B'Tselem today releases its year-end report. According to B'Tselem data, the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in clashes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip dropped. However, there has been deterioration in many other measures of the human rights situation in the occupied territories. The primary one is the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which has declined to an all time low, following Israel's siege on the area.

Other highlights include:

* In 2007, there was an increase of 13 percent in the number of Palestinians held in administrative detention without trial, which averaged 830 people.
* Sixty-six staffed checkpoints and 459 physical roadblocks on average controlled movement inside the West Bank. There was little improvement in Palestinians' freedom of movement, despite the promised easing of restrictions.
* Israeli settlement population grew by 4.5 percent (compared with 1.5 percent population growth inside Israel), a more moderate increase than the previous year.
* Israel continues the freeze policy on family unification, denying tens of thousands of Palestinians the right to a family life. However, in what was termed a one-time gesture, Israel approved family unification for some 3,500 Palestinian families.
* The number of houses demolished in East Jerusalem rose by 38 percent, to 69 homes.
* Palestinians continue to face severe discrimination in the allocation of water in the West Bank, causing serious hardship in the summer.
* The number of Palestinians killed in intra-Palestinian clashes was the highest throughout the intifada.

According to B'Tselem, two themes clearly emerge from examination of the spectrum of human rights concerns in 2007. The first is the use of security justifications for virtually every Israeli action in the occupied territories. There is no doubt that Israel faces serious security threats, and is entitled and even obligated to do its utmost to protect its population. However, far too often, Israel fails to appropriately balance its security needs with equally important values, including protecting the rights of Palestinians under its control. In addition, Israeli authorities often exploit security threats in order to advance prohibited political interests, such as perpetuating settlements and effectively annexing them to Israel.

The second theme arising from the report is the lack of accountability of Israeli security forces, in all matters relating to human rights. This can be seen clearly in the reluctance of the state to thoroughly investigate violations and to prosecute those responsible for them. The lack of accountability can also be seen in the denial of most Palestinians' right to compensation when they are injured through no fault of their own by Israeli forces......."

Sunday, December 30, 2007

This is What Happens When the Pilgrims Go Through Israel: IDF kills Gazan en route from hajj

Contributed by Emanuel

"At least one Palestinian was killed and four others were wounded by gunfire while crossing from Israel into the Gaza Strip on Sunday after completing the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Palestinian medics said.

The medical workers said the pilgrims had been hit by Israel Defense Forces gunfire at the Erez crossing on the northern Gaza border. Witnesses said soldiers first fired into the air and then at the crowd of pilgrims......

Palestinian officials said about 700 pilgrims had crossed back into Gaza on Sunday, having returned from Saudi Arabia via Jordan.

Earlier this month, Israel agreed to let about 900 Gaza pilgrims travel through Israeli territory en route to Mecca......."


A point of clarification

This group of pilgrims has nothing to do with the much larger group (over 2,200) whom Egypt is refusing re-entry to Gaza via the Rafah crossing. The group fired on by the IOF went by way of Israel and Jordan, and their passage was arranged by the traitor Abbas.

مصر ومهزلة حجاج غزة

مصر ومهزلة حجاج غزة

عبد الباري عطوان

"الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك ابدي انزعاجه من تركيز الفضائيات علي قضية الحجاج الفلسطينيين العائدين الي قطاع غزة، واعترف ان بلاده في حالة حرج كبير بسبب هذه القضية، ولكنه لم يقل ان ضعف نظامه امام الحكومتين الامريكية والاسرائيلية، وخضوعه الكامل لاملاءاتهما هو الذي يضعه، ومصر الدولة الاقليمية الاكبر، في هذا الوضع المحرج دون اي سبب او مبرر.
امتدحنا في هذا المكان موقف الحكومة المصرية في ممارسة سيادتها علي حدودها وسماحها لحجاج قطاع غزة بالمرور عبر معبر رفح، دون أخذ اذن من الاسرائيليين، وطالبنا بتضامن عربي معها في مواجهة حملة الابتزاز التي تتعرض لها، بسبب هذه المواقف الوطنية التي تجسد تطلعات الشعب المصري وكرامته وتراثه الوطني العريق، وتمثلت في استخدام اللوبي اليهودي للكونغرس ودفعه للتلويح باقتطاع مئة مليون دولار من المساعدات السنوية لها، ولكن النظام المصري اصر علي تخييب ظننا كعادته دائما، وبادر بسرعة قياسية للتراجع عن هذه المواقف، وبطريقة مخجلة، والاكثر من ذلك الدفاع عنها، والاستماتة في تبريرها.
هذا التراجع المؤسف جاء بعد الزيارة التي قام بها ايهود باراك وزير الدفاع الاسرائيلي الي شرم الشيخ ولقاءاته مع الرئيس مبارك، ونظيره المصري المشير طنطاوي، علاوة علي اللواء عمر سليمان رئيس جهاز المخابرات العامة، ولا نعرف ما هي التهديدات، او الاغراءات، التي لوح بها باراك ودفعت اركان النظام المصري لتغيير رأيهم مئة وثمانين درجة بشأن عودة هؤلاء الحجاج من حيث اتوا، ومطالبتهم بتوقيع تعهدات، وهم في عرض البحر، بالقبول بالعودة الي سجنهم في القطاع عبر المعابر الاسرائيلية.

الرئيس مبارك القي علينا محاضرة في المؤتمر الصحافي الذي عقده مع الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي حول معبر رفح، والاتفاقات المتعلقة به، مثل ضرورة وجود ممثل للجنة الرباعية، وآخر عن السلطة الفلسطينية في رام الله، كشرط لاعادة تشغيله، ولكن الرئيس مبارك نسي، وهذه ليست المرة الاولي، انه عندما سمح لهؤلاء الحجاج بالمغادرة عبر المعبر نفسه الي الاماكن المقدسة في انتفاضة كرامة نادرة الحدوث، لم يكن اي من هؤلاء الممثلين متواجدين علي المعبر.
الارجح ان اسرائيل ابتزت النظام المصري بالايعاز لانصارها في الكونغرس باستخدام ورقة المساعدات للضغط علي الحكومة المصرية لبذل جهود اكبر لمكافحة ظاهرة الانفاق علي الحدود المصرية مع قطاع غزة، واستخدامها في تهريب اسلحة لحركات المقاومة، فقرر هذا النظام الرد علي هذا الابتزاز باستخدام ورقة الحجاج هذه، وعندما توصل الي اتفاق مع الحكومة الاسرائيلية عبر باراك، و تصافت القلوب، عادت حليمة الي عادتها القديمة وتم التراجع عن وقفة العز القصيرة جدا هذه، وبدأت عملية التنكيل بالحجاج والزج بهم في العراء، ومطالبتهم بالعودة الي اهلهم وذويهم عبر المعابر التي تسيطر عليها اسرائيل بالكامل.
الذريعة التي استخدمتها اسرائيل في معارضتها لعودة هؤلاء عبر معبر رفح، تتلخص في مزاعمها بان بعض هؤلاء خرجوا من اجل تلقي دورات تدريبية علي اعمال الارهاب ، ومن المؤسف ان الحكومة المصرية صدقت هذه المزاعم، دون ان تسأل نفسها كيف سيتدرب هؤلاء علي اعمال الارهاب وهم الذاهبون الي الحج، ولفترة زمنية لا تزيد عن عشرة ايام.

والسؤال الأهم هو، هل توجد معسكرات تدريب علي الارهاب في ادغال مكة المكرمة والمدينة المنورة، وفي منحنيات جبل عرفات او وديان منطقة مني، علي حد علمنا ان المملكة العربية السعودية هي احدي اكثر دول العالم حماسة في مكافحة الارهاب ، وزجت بأكثر من عشرين الف شرطي ورجل امن لتأمين موسم الحج من اي اعمال عنف. ويبدو ان المسؤولين الاسرائيليين والذين اطلقوا هذه الذرائع، وسلم بها نظراؤهم المصريون، يتحدثون عن حج في تورا بورا، او منطقة وزيرستان الحدودية بين باكستان وافغانستان، وليس حجيجا الي مكة المكرمة الذي نعرفه.
اسرائيل تتعمد اهانة النظام المصري، وتدمير ما تبقي له من مصداقية، وبدلا من ان يتصدي هذا النظام لهذا الاذلال بما يتناسب مع حجم مصر، ومكانتها، وكرامة شعبها، وتضحياته المشرفة وإرثه الوطني والتاريخي، يستأسد علي حجاج فلسطينيين مرضي وطاعنين في السن، ويتعمد اذلالهم واهانتهم حتي يثبت للاسرائيليين والامريكان انه ينفذ مطالبهم واملاءاتهم علي الوجه الاكمل.
ماذا ستفعل اسرائيل وامريكا عقابا لمصر اذا ما سمحت لحجاج غزة بالعودة عبر معبر رفح، هل ستنفذ تهديداتها باقتطاع مئة مليون دولار من المساعدات، وهل ستنهار مصر اذا ما اقتطع هذا المبلغ؟

مصر لن تنهار، وهذا المبلغ لن يؤدي الي تجويع شعبها اذا ما توقف، فملياردير واحد من هؤلاء المنتفعين من النظام، والملتفين حوله، يستطيع ان يسدد هذا المبلغ الذي يعتبر فكة بالنسبة لشخص مثل ملك الحديد، احد ابرز اعمدة النظام والكثيرين من امثاله، واعفونا من ذكر الاسماء.
النظام المصري يملك اسلحة قوية يستطيع، لو استخدم بعضها، ان يركع اسرائيل وامريكا، خاصة ان سياسات الاخيرة الخارجية تنتقل من فشل الي آخر في العراق وافغانستان واخيرا في باكستان، وباتت بحاجة الي مصر اكثر من حاجة مصر اليها.
ماذا لو غضت الحكومة المصرية النظر عن هجرة الافارقة الي اسرائيل عبر سيناء، او لو ادارت ظهرها لعمليات تهريب الاسلحة الي المقاومة في قطاع غزة؟ ونحن هنا لا نتحدث عن فتح الحدود المصرية لملايين المتطوعين المصريين الذين يريدون الاستشهاد دفاعا عن كرامة الأمة والعقيدة علي ارض فلسطين المغتصبة.
النظام المصري يملك الكثير من اوراق القوة ضد اسرائيل وامريكا، ولكنه اختار المسكنة و التذلل والتخلي عن دوره القيادي في المنطقة، من اجل حفنة من الفضة الامريكية وهو وضع لا يستحقه الشعب المصري المشهود له بالوطنية وعزة النفس والتضحية من اجل كرامة بلاده وأمته، ومن المؤكد ان صبره ليس بلا حدود.
الخطر الذي لا يدركه مستشارو هذا النظام ان هذه السياسات التي تخدم الامن الاسرائيلي، ربما تؤدي الي نتائج عكسية علي الامن المصري نفسه، فأنفاق رفح هي طريق في اتجاهين، واذلال شعب والمشاركة في حصاره وتجويعه واذلاله بالطريقة التي نراها ربما تدفع بعض المتطرفين في اوساطه للتصرف بطريقة لا تتسم بالحكمة والعقل، وأحداث طابا وشرم الشيخ الاخيرة هي خير مثال علي النتائج التي ترتبت علي اذلال مواطني سيناء وتهميشهم ومعاملتهم كمواطنين من الدرجة العاشرة."


Painting by Palestinian artist Ismael Shammout


"There's no other way to put it.... Egypt is literally under the control of its zionist neighbours. Over a thousand observant Muslims are being punished for going on a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca.

The joint excuses of both the Israeli and Egyptian governments show the disregard for the very lives of the Palestinian people, a people who for 60 years have literally been at the mercy of both Israel and the Arab world......

They just want to go home and be with their families... a crime?
The want to return to their jobs... a crime?
There is a crime involved in all of this, it's called silence and complicity... where are the protests from the rest of the world? Doesn't anybody give a damn??...... "

The Destabilization of Pakistan

An Important Article

by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, December 30, 2007

"The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has created conditions which contribute to the ongoing destabilization and fragmentation of Pakistan as a Nation.

The process of US sponsored "regime change", which normally consists in the re-formation of a fresh proxy government under new leaders has been broken. Discredited in the eyes of Pakistani public opinion, General Pervez Musharaf cannot remain in the seat of political power. But at the same time, the fake elections supported by the "international community" scheduled for January 2008, even if they were to be carried out, would not be accepted as legitimate, thereby creating a political impasse.

There are indications that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was anticipated by US officials......

Regime change with a view to ensuring continuity under military rule is no longer the main thrust of US foreign policy. The regime of Pervez Musharraf cannot prevail.

The present US foreign policy course is to actively promote the political fragmentation and balkanization of Pakistan as a nation.....

The Balkanization of Pakistan

Already in 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a "Yugoslav-like fate" for Pakistan "in a decade with the country riven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries, as seen recently in Balochistan." (Energy Compass, 2 March 2005). According to the 2005 NIC-CIA report Pakistan is slated to become a "failed state" by 2015, "as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons"......

Covert Support to Balochistan Separatists......

"Strong Economic Medicine": Weakening Pakistan's Central Government.....

What these interpretations do not mention is that the ISI continues to play a key role in overseeing Al Qaeda on behalf of US intelligence. The press reports fail to mention two important and well documented facts:

1) the ISI maintains close ties to the CIA. The ISI is virtually an appendage of the CIA.

2) Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA. The ISI provides covert support to Al Qaeda, acting on behalf of US intelligence.

The involvement of either Al Qaeda and/or the ISI would suggest that US intelligence was cognizant and/or implicated in the assassination plot."

Hamas wants pilgrims pass through Rafah, says temporary camps unacceptable

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas Movement on Sunday urged the Egyptian authorities to allow 2,400 Palestinian pilgrims cross into Gaza Strip through the Rafah terminal, asserting that sheltering those pilgrims in temporary camps would aggravate their suffering further.

The Movement also condemned what it described as "negative stands" of the illegitimate PA government under Salam Fayadh and the PA leadership on the pilgrims' crisis, calling on the Egyptian government not to be blackmailed by Israel and the USA on this issue.

"All parties, including human rights and legal organization must understand the urgent need of those pilgrims to return to their relatives safely as US and Israeli pressures on Egypt to find political and security solutions to this humanitarian issue is categorically rejected by Hamas", affirmed Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman of Hamas Movement in Gaza Strip, in a statement he issued and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

Barhoum also highlighted the relentless efforts exerted by the legitimate PA government under Premier Ismael Haneyya with the aim to ensure the safe return of those pilgrims to their country in honor and dignity.

He also warned that any further delay in allowing those pilgrims to go home would expose their lives to serious danger, explaining that "majority of them (pilgrims) are elderly people and women with many of them suffering of chronic diseases".

Similar remarks were uttered by Khaled Abdul Majeed, the secretary general of the Jabhat Al-Nedal Al-Shaabi (Popular struggle front) which is one of the PLO factions.

Describing the pilgrims' crises as "Big humanitarian tragedy", Majeed affirmed that the PA leadership in Ramallah city, the Israeli occupation government, and Egypt are to be blamed for the suffering of those pious pilgrims.

According to Majeed, stranding those pilgrims for this long time constitutes big insult to the Arab world, and to the Egypt's popular role in the region, urging Egypt not to be extorted by the Israeli dictates.

Majeed also appreciated the efforts exerted by the leadership of Hamas Movement, in occupied Palestine and abroad, with the Egyptian authorities and other Arab parties to solve the pilgrims' dilemma.

Disgraceful stands:

In the same context, Majeed deprecated the "unpatriotic stands" of the illegitimate PA premier Salam Fayyadh who lamented the death of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of Palestinian resistance fighters in Al-Khalil city on Friday, describing such stands of Fayadh as "dangerous to the Palestinian issue".

"We wished he (Fayadh) expressed such sorrow over innocent Palestinian citizens who are being murdered at the hands of the IOF soldiers [in Gaza Strip and the West Bank] on daily basis," said Majeed.

He also warned that the Fayyadh government would face serious problems with the Palestinian resistance as a result of those "unwarranted" stands, citing the threats uttered by the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to target and chase Fayyadh's government.

Another PLO faction, the PFLP-GC, under the command of Ahmad Jibril condemned the "unexplained" denial of the Gaza pilgrims to go home, describing such denial as "flagrant violation of human and religious values and ethics".

"What indeed makes matters more tragic and disgusting is to know that it was the PA leadership that incites against those pilgrims and demands not to allow them enter into Gaza through the Rafah terminal", Anwar Raja, the information officer in the Front asserted.

One of the stranded pilgrims identified as Shafika Al-Buhaisi had died a couple of days ago. "

Mubarak: 'Humar, 'Humar, Bas A'ish!

There is an expression in Egypt, "'Humar, 'Humar Bas A'ish." Which is translated as, "Donkey, Donkey, but let me live."

In Arabic culture, the donkey is a symbol of stupidity, blind obedience with no free will or dignity.

I think that this expression correctly describes the Pharaoh today and the shameful state to which he has reduced Egypt.

Outcomes and Statistics of Siege imposed on Gaza Strip

"52 Patients killed by Israeli Occupation due to Closure!

96% of factories are closed

67 thousand factories employee become out of work

25 thousand of textile workers became jobless

100% of textile factories are closed

$58 million are the losses of wooden industries

570 thousand of wooden industries workshop are closed

20-30 food lorries inter Gaza Strip instead of 300 in the past

85% of citizens are under poverty line

650$ is the rate of annual income per capita

65% of stores works are decreased

$55 million are the wastage of the agricultural sector

$120 million are the wastage of the industrial sector

$52 million are the losses of the fiber sector

470 cancer patients are likely to die

4500 strawberry farmers become out of work

$14 million are the wastage of strawberry and flowers season

$370 millions are the costs of stalled construction projects

3000 fishermen become out of work due to siege

160 thousand workers are out of work

6 months, Gaza with closed crossings and borders

136 medical instrument are stopped or our of order

97 sorts of medicines on the verge of depletion

107 class of basic medicines are depleted from Gaza Strip

22 money holistic are suspended from work due to the siege

322 patients are in serious danger and in need of urgent treatment

1562 patients in need of treatment outside Gaza Strip"

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Khalil Bendib

The Planned Killing of Benazir Bhutto

By Ramtanu Maitra
Executive Intelligence Review

"The gruesome killing of Benazir Bhutto in the evening hours of Dec. 27 in Pakistan's garrison town of Rawalpindi is yet another step in the process of weakening, and eventual break-up, of Pakistan.

Despite the crocodile tears shed in Washington and London over Bhutto's assassination, it was a disaster waiting to happen and therefore, was altogether expected. Those who believed, naively, that Bhutto's mission was to reinstate democracy in Pakistan and put its usurpers, the Pakistani military, in the background, do not realize why she was inserted into the scene, which was already rife with violence. The truth is that the British imperial circles, with their stooges in Washington, set up Bhutto's execution, to advance their scheme to break up Pakistan, and create chaos throughout this strategic region......"

Israel denies Italian delegation entry into Gaza

"A delegation of renowned Italians was denied entry into the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces on Friday. The delegation had been promoted by members of the Italian Parliament, academics and Christian dignitaries. Several members of Parliament were among those who traveled to Gaza on the delegation, but were denied entry at the Israeli-controlled border by Israeli troops.

The group had planned to meet with Palestinian officials and humanitarian organizations, to help raise awareness worldwide of the plight of the Palestinian population in Gaza. They called Gaza a 'concentration camp', in which the Palestinian population is completely imprisoned with no way in or out, under a total siege by Israeli forces that control every part of the border.

In response to the Israeli denial of entry to the Italian delegation, the Popular Committee Against the Siege, based in Gaza, issued a statement addressed to the Italian delegation: “The Popular Committee against Siege (PCAS) is very sorry for what happened to you, but this is an indication of the false claims of our oppressors. Israelis claim that they are democratic, but you have seen that they are barbarous by denying your entry to Gaza strip. This shows how Israeli democracy is false.”

The Gaza Strip remains under complete closure for the fourth straight month, with its population of 1.4 million Palestinians trapped inside, unable to move or carry out commerce with the rest of the world.

The Italian delegation also requested an audience with the Israeli Foreign Ministry to discuss the Gaza closure, but the Israeli officials refused to meet with them."

Further Confirmation: The Pharaoh Has No Balls!!

Israeli official to Israel's radio: Cairo's policy is being shifted

"Israel considered Cairo's position towards underway Palestinian pilgrims' standoff, a shift in Egyptian policy with respect to Israeli-Egyptian relations, Israel's radio reported.

The radio quoted 'unnamed' Israeli political source as stating that Cairo will soon dispatch a security delegation in order to coordinate Israeli-Egyptian security activity along the Philadelphia route, on Gaza-Egypt border line.

The sources cited ' mounting weapons smuggling operations' from Egyptian territories onto the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The official regarded Cairo's decision to disallow entry of more than 2000 Gaza pilgrims back to Gaza from the Rafah crossing terminal ' a shift in Cairo's policy'.

The pilgrims are to be transferred in buses from the Egyptian red sea port of Nwaiba' to the border Egyptian town of aL-Arish, on their way back to Gaza, yet the passage they will take remained unknown.

The Egyptian authorities have demanded the pilgrims to sign papers, agreeing to enter through the Israeli-controlled crossing of Kerem Shalom or Karem Abu Salim, which would mean potential questioning of these pilgrims, who include some leaders of the Hamas movement and other Palestinian groups.

Cairo has recently prevented entry of such pilgrims through the Rafah crossing terminal, the route they crossed on their way to the Saudi Arabia, to attend one of the five main rituals of Islam 'pilgrimage season'.

The Rafah crossing terminal has been closed by Israel since June, after Hamas took over the coastal region amidst a power struggle with Fatah and since then Israel has repeatedly raised concerns of what it says 'weapons smuggling from Egypt'."

Finkelstein in Lebanon

(Click on to enlarge)

Canaan Fair Trade

"A Warm Hello from Jenin, Palestine

Based in Jenin, Palestine, Canaan Fair Trade sells the delicacies produced by over 1,700 small farmers organized in informal cooperatives and represented by the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA). We supply bulk as well as finished and packaged goods to Europe, North America and the Middle East. All of our products are offered with a Palestinian Certificate of Origin. A large and growing portion of them are certified Organic.

We Create Opportunity For Farmers and Communities

Canaan Fair Trade uses the fair trade concept to empower marginalized Palestinian rural communities caught in conflict so they can sustain their livelihoods and culture. To that end, we have built direct working relationships with these communities, paying sustainable prices for their agricultural products to ensure fair wages for labor along the supply chain.

We support farmers in enhancing production procedures and product quality, building their capacities to work collectively, and to sell to international markets.

We educate farmers about sustainable practices and support conversion to certified organic production. We ensure sterling quality standards, while implementing social and economic empowerment programs.

Canaan promotes cross-cultural, interfaith, and multi-ethnic connection of all participants in the production and trade processes:€” workers, farmers, processors, traders, exporters, importers, distributors, and consumers. The idea is to create one community connected by the fair exchange of goods in a cross-cultural setting.

The Reestablishment of Traditional Sustainable Farming In Palestine

By giving incentives to produce a high quality product, Canaan and its partners hope to reestablish traditional sustainable farming as an avenue for Palestinian farmers earning a livelihood. Fair trade provides a vehicle for alternative cultural expression and the opportunity for communities caught in conflict to connect with the outside world.

From our fields to your table.

For generations, our farms have given us some of the most delicately flavorful olives, almonds, tomatoes and other treasures of the earth.

In the tradition of Palestinian hospitality and in the spirit of fair trade, we invite you to experience these pleasures."

Bardawil: One day Fayyad, Maleki will stand trial before people and history

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman of the Hamas-affiliated change and reform parliamentary bloc, has said that one day Salam Fayyad, premier of the illegal government in Ramallah, and his information minister Riyadh Al-Maleki would be tried before the people and history for betraying resistance.

He told PIC on Saturday evening that Fayyad's statements in which he denounced the Palestinian resistance's raid in Al-Khalil do not reflect the opinion of the Palestinian people, who are suffering daily at the hands of Zionist occupiers.

If Fayyad really belonged to this people then he would have denounced the IOF massacres in the Gaza Strip over the past period, Bardawil elaborated.

"Fayyad and Maleki and their likes have apparently lost their sense of humanity, which realizes by instinct the difference between Zionist terrorism and Palestinian resistance", the spokesman underlined.

He added that Maleki's description of Al-Khalil operation as "homicide" constituted an insult to the martyr, who launched the attack, and his family and his father, who is imprisoned in occupation jails, and his brothers, who have been arrested after the operation.

Meanwhile, the AMB, the armed wing of Fatah faction, has asked its members in the West Bank to liquidate Fayyad for his declared cooperation with Israeli security apparatuses.

The AMB, in a statement on Sunday, also advised interior minister Abdul Razak Al-Yeha, in the illegal government of Fayyad, to resign immediately so as not to be the second target of its fighters.

It called on PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the "illegitimate government" of Fayyad because it crossed all red lines and announced before the entire world that it was an agent of the occupation."

Sky News: Bhutto's Killing Caught On Camera

Video: A face in the crowd: Benazir Bhutto's assassin

The Sunday Telegraph

""Long live Bhutto," Benazir Bhutto shouted, waving to the crowd surging around her car. They were her last words before three gunshots rang out and she slumped back on to her seat.

"She did not say anything more," said Safdar Abbassi, her chief political adviser, who was sitting behind her.

In the first eyewitness account from inside the car, Dr Abbassi told The Sunday Telegraph: "All of a sudden there was the sound of firing. I heard the sound of a bullet.

"I saw her: she looked as though she ducked in when she heard the firing. We did not realise that she had been hit by a bullet."

He had looked up to see Miss Bhutto sliding back through the aperture in the roof of the white Land Cruiser. Moments later, the car was rocked by a huge explosion.

There was no sound from the fallen leader. Dr Abbassi leant forward to see what was wrong. At first glance, she appeared to have escaped injury. Then he noticed the blood. It was seeping from a deep wound on the left side of her neck....."

Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

On the anniversary of Saddam's execution, do you believe that he was a mistreated hero or a ruthless dictator?

With over 700 responding so far, 71% believe that he was a mistreated hero.

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

The Gaza Strip, Crucified

Blogger behind bars

The Saudi authorities are holding blogger Fouad Farhan in detention - but without giving any reason for his arrest

By Iman al-Qahtani
The Guardian

"......A few weeks before the end of the year, Saudi blogger Fouad Farhan was also held in a mysterious way. Information about the circumstances of his arrest has been very limited, despite my personal attempt to find out from security sources why he was arrested.....

But a statement by his wife to Global Voices Website has now removed much of the mystery:

Fouad's arrest was directly linked to his blogging activities. He may remain in custody for a one-month investigation period. After that his family will be allowed to visit him and be informed about his case and the possible charges that might be brought against him. Fouad is apparently being held, without charge or trial, at the ministry of interior's security service (al-Mabahith al-'Amma) headquarter in Jeddah. He has been arrested at his office in Jeddah and had been led to his home where police confiscated his laptop computer......

Farhan didn't hide his fear about this arrest. Days before he was held he sent a message to fellow bloggers. He explained that he had received a phone call from the Saudi interior ministry instructing him to prepare himself "to be picked up in the coming two weeks" for an investigation by a high-ranking official.

"The issue that caused all of this is because I wrote about the political prisoners here in Saudi Arabia and they think I'm running an online campaign promoting their issue," al-Farhan wrote in the email, which is currently posted on his blog. He wrote that the agent promised to detain him for only a short period if he agreed to sign a letter of apology. "I am not sure if I am ready to do that. Apology for what?" he asked in the email, adding that he does not want "to be forgotten in jail"......

Why don't the security authorities give us a valid justification? Such an arrest is a dangerous indicator about the low level of personal freedoms and freedom of expression this year. "

Democracy: an existential threat?

A single state in historic Palestine, based on equality, is the most promising alternative to the already dead two-state dogma

A Very Good Comment
By Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti
The Guardian

"As two of the authors of a recent document advocating a one-state solution to the Arab-Israeli colonial conflict, we intended to generate debate. Predictably, Zionists decried the proclamation as yet another proof of the unwavering devotion of Palestinian - and some radical Israeli - intellectuals to the "destruction of Israel". Some pro-Palestinian activists accused us of forsaking immediate and critical Palestinian rights in the quest of a "utopian" dream......

It is precisely this basic insistence on equality that is perceived by Zionists as an existential threat to Israel, undermining its inherently discriminatory foundations which privilege its Jewish citizens over all others. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was refreshingly frank when he recently admitted that Israel was "finished" if it faced a struggle for equal rights by Palestinians.

But whereas transforming a regime of institutionalised racism, or apartheid, into a democracy was viewed as a triumph for human rights and international law in South Africa and Northern Ireland, it is rejected out of hand in the Israeli case as a breach of what is essentially a sacred right to ethno-religious supremacy (euphemistically rendered as Israel's "right to be a Jewish state").

Palestinians are urged by an endless parade of western envoys and political hucksters - the latest among them Tony Blair - to make do with what the African National Congress rightly rejected when offered it by South Africa's apartheid regime: a patchwork Bantustan made up of isolated ghettoes that falls far below the minimum requirements of justice.......

This "peace process", not peace or justice, has become an end in itself -- because as long as it continues Israel faces no pressure to actually change its behaviour. The political fiction that a two-state solution lies always just around the corner but never within reach is essential to perpetuate the charade and preserve indefinitely the status quo of Israeli colonial hegemony......

Hand in hand with this struggle it is absolutely necessary to begin to lay out and debate visions for a post-conflict future. It is not coincidental that Palestinian citizens of Israel, refugees and those in the diaspora, the groups long disfranchised by the "peace process" and whose fundamental rights are violated by the two-state solution have played a key role in setting forward new ideas to escape the impasse......"

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Plight of Elderly Palestinian Pilgrims Denied Re-entry to Gaza, Because of Israeli Blackmail of the Spineless Mubarak; Egypt Has No Sovereignty!

Egypt Has Considered Placing The Pilgrims in a Refugee Camp in The Sinai Temporarily!
Why Not Let Them Go Home Through the Rafah Crossing, The Same Way They Left??
Oh, The Pharaoh Does Not Want to Lose $100 Million in U.S. Handout.

CHALLENGES 2007-2008: Iraq Progresses To Some Of Its Worst

Analysis by Dahr Jamail

"WASHINGTON, Dec 29 (IPS) - Despite all the claims of improvements, 2007 has been the worst year yet in Iraq.....

During the surge, the number of Iraqis displaced from their homes quadrupled, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent. By the end of 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there are over 2.3 million internally displaced persons within Iraq, and over 2.3 million Iraqis who have fled the country. Iraq has a population around 25 million.....

One reason for a decrease in the level of violence is that most of Baghdad has essentially been divided along sectarian lines. Entire neighbourhoods are now surrounded by concrete blast walls several metres high, with strict security checkpoints. Normal life has all but vanished.

The Iraqi Red Crescent estimates that eight out of ten refugees are from Baghdad....

Nearly 10 million people depend on the fragile rationing system. In December, the Iraqi government announced it would cut the number of items in the food ration from ten to five due to "insufficient funds and spiralling inflation." The inflation rate is officially said to be around 70 percent.

The cuts are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, and have led to warnings of social unrest if measures are not taken to address rising poverty and unemployment.....

This year has also been one of the bloodiest of the entire occupation. The group Just Foreign Policy, "an independent and non-partisan mass membership organisation dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy," estimates the total number of Iraqis killed so far due to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation to be 1,139,602.

This year 894 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, making 2007 the deadliest year of the entire occupation for the U.S. military, according to

To date, at least 3,896 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of Defence......

Underscoring another failure of the so-called surge is the fact that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad remains more divided than ever, and hopes of reconciliation have vanished......"

Gaza pilgrims stranded off Egypt

"More than 2,000 Palestinians returning from the annual Hajj pilgrimage have been left stranded on boats off the Egyptian coast after Cairo denied them permission to return to Gaza.

Egypt has demanded the Palestinians return to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip via Israel, but many fear they will be detained by the authorities if they do. On Saturday, Hamas called on Egypt to open its border with the Gaza Strip to let the Palestinians return home from the in Mecca.

The Palestinians have been stranded for two days on the two ferryboats on the Egyptian coast after sailing on Friday from Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, said Israel and the US were pressuring Egypt not to allow the pilgrims to return to Gaza.

Abu Zuhri said: "We are aware of the Israeli and American pressures on Egypt, and we urge Egypt to reject these pressures and to allow the pilgrims a safe return through Rafah."

Hamas officials said that 2,200 Gaza pilgrims were stranded on the ships and said a 62-year-old woman had died aboard one of the ships after falling ill.

The group fears Israel will arrest some of the pilgrims.....

Earlier, a Jordanian foreign ministry official said in Amman that the pilgrims sailed from Aqaba to Nuweiba after a promise that they could re-enter Gaza from Rafah. "The foreign ministry contacted the Egyptian authorities and secured permission for the Palestinian pilgrims to go back to Gaza via Rafah," Jordan's state-run Petra news agency quoted the official as saying.

According to Petra, the pilgrims refused to go back to Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Karm Salem crossing "because many of them are relatives or families of martyrs and other people are wanted by Israeli authorities."

About 7,000 people waving Palestinian and Hamas flags gathered on the Gaza side of the border with Egypt on Saturday and demanded the pilgrims be allowed to enter.

"We won't accept any excuse for preventing the pilgrims from returning," read a banner carried by one of the protestors.

About 100 Egyptian riot police mounted a machine gun on a building overlooking the corridor separating Egypt from Gaza.

Hamas security positioned themselves between the protesters and the border gate, and the crowd eventually dispersed."


Ilan Pappe: the peace process means what piece of Palestine Israel is supposed to annex and what Bantustan is supposed to be given to the Arabs

Emanuela Irace, il manifesto - Translated by Diego Traversa, Peacepalestine

Italian Version:

"Ilan Pappe arrived in Italy without causing any sensational uproar. He is IEMASVO’s guest [1], at the ISIAO’s Roman venue [2], for a conference over Israel-Palestine. Title: "One land, two peoples".

After having denounced in recent months the impossibility of working peacefully in a hostile milieu, namely at Haifa University, Pappe moved to Britain where he now teaches at Exeter University. Historian of dissent, "revisionist", born in 1954 in Israel, son of Jews who fled from the Germany of the '30s, he has published a half dozen books. Amongst the most recent works there is "The ethnic cleansing of Palestine", not yet translated into Italian. The core of the exploration by the great historian is the Zionist policy comprised of deportations and compulsory expulsions carried out against the Palestinians during and after the 1948 war, when some 400 villages were evacuated, razed and destroyed in the space of five years.

Professor Pappe, you write of ethnic cleansing, in 1948, as the foundational moment of Israel. In this way you shatter the "topos" of the voluntary exile of the Palestinians......."

Traitor Fayyad: We mourn deaths of Israeli soldiers

Palestinian prime minister meets with Israeli President Peres, expresses sorrow over deadly shooting attack near Hebron on Friday, says PA security forces have apprehended men suspected of involved in the attack

""We mourn the deaths of the two soldiers. Every death is a senseless one," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said on Saturday evening in a meeting with President Shimon Peres in Herzliya.....

Fayyad announced that Palestinian security forces have already apprehended several suspects in connection to the attack. "These are not just empty words, there are actions behind them. We are working in conjunction with the Israeli security forces and we will see this matter through till the end," said the prime minister.

Peres stressed the importance of Fayyad's statements and praised the work being done by PA forces to combat terror in the West Bank......"

Abbas's troops hand IOF three armed settlers

What a Bastard! The Worst Traitor in Palestinian History.

"BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- PA chief Mahmoud Abbas's security apparatuses in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday handed IOF troops three armed Israeli settlers who entered the city and were apparently planning an attack near the Church of Nativity.

The website of Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth said that the three settlers, including a woman, were caught with arms in their possession in the Nativity plaza where Christmas and New Year celebrations are underway.

It said that Abbas's policemen contacted the so-called civil administration department, affiliated with the IOF, to take delivery of the three.

The paper said that one of them was a soldier, who was armed with an M-16 rifle, and added that he was taken for interrogation by the Israeli military police.

Two days ago the same Palestinian police force delivered eight kilograms of explosives to the IOF troops, claiming they were found in Bethlehem and are believed to be used by Palestinian resistance factions.

IOF sappers blasted the explosives, the Hebrew radio reported, adding that delivering the explosives was meant to boost confidence building measures between the two parties."

Palestinian police arrest three Israelis in Bethlehem

"The Palestinian police arrested three Israelis who were in Manger square just outside the Nativity church located in the center of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Saturday morning.

Security sources told IMEMC that the three Israelis were armed but wearing civilian clothes. The sources added that the three were arrested by the police forces that were guarding the church of Nativity then were handed over to the Israeli army at an Israeli military checkpoint at the western entrance to Bethlehem......"

The key question is what kind of false flag operation were these Israeli undercover agents planning against the Church of the Nativity? Most likely the plan was to blame whatever killing, destruction and mayhem that resulted on "Islamic extremists" of Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Al-Qa'eda.

The other question is why no investigation was conducted by the puppet PA police, before handing them back to the IOF? Knowing the mission of those stooges, the answer is obvious.

Latuff's Latest Cartoon

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan

An Important Article

by Larry Chin
Global Research, December 29, 2007

"It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies have been maneuvering to strengthen their political control over Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto does not change this agenda. In fact, it simplifies Bush-Cheney’s options.

Seeding chaos with a pretext

“Delivering democracy to the Muslim world” has been the Orwellian rhetoric used to mask Bush-Cheney’s application of pressure and force, its dramatic attempt at reshaping of the Pakistani government (into a joint Bhutto/Sharif-Musharraf) coalition, and backdoor plans for a military intervention. Various American destabilization plans, known for months by officials and analysts, proposed the toppling of Pakistan's military.

The assassination of Bhutto appears to have been anticipated. There were even reports of “chatter” among US officials about the possible assassinations of either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, well before the actual attempts took place.

As succinctly summarized in Jeremy Page’s article, "Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? The Main Suspects", the main suspects are

1) “Pakistani and foreign Islamist militants who saw her as a heretic and an American stooge”, and

2) the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, a virtual branch of the CIA. Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari directly accused the ISI of being involved in the October attack.

The assassination of Bhutto has predictably been blamed on “Al-Qaeda”, without mention of fact that Al-Qaeda itself is an Anglo-American military-intelligence operation......

Mehsud’s profile, and the reporting of it, echoes the propaganda treatment of all post-9/11 “terrorists”. This in turn raises familiar questions about Anglo-American intelligence agency propaganda involvement. Is Mehsud connected to the ISI or the CIA? What did the ISI and the CIA know about Mehsud? More importantly, does Mehsud, or the manipulation of the propaganda surrounding him provide Bush-Cheney with a pretext for future aggression in the region?......

In fact, the openly criminal Bush-Cheney administration has only supported and promoted the antithesis of democracy: chaos, fascism, and the installation of Anglo-American-friendly puppet regimes.

In fact, the central and consistent geostrategy of Bush-Cheney, and their elite counterparts around the world, is the continued imposition and expansion of the manufactured “war on terrorism”; the continuation of war across the Eurasian subcontinent, with events triggered by false flag operations and manufactured pretexts.

In fact, the main tools used in the “war on terrorism” remain Islamist militants, working on behalf of Anglo-American military intelligence agencies---among them, “Al-Qaeda”, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI. Mehsud fits this the same profile.....

What exactly were John Negroponte and Condoleeza Rice really setting up the past few months?

Who benefits from Bhutto’s murder? The “war on terrorism” geostrategy and propaganda milieu, the blueprint that has been used by elite interests since 9/11 to impose a continuing world war, is the clear beneficiary of the Bhutto assassination. Bush/Cheney and their equally complicit pro-war/pro-occupation counterparts in the Democratic Party enthusiastically support the routine use of “terror” pretexts to impose continued war policies. True to form, fear, “terrorism”, “security” and military force, are once again, the focuses of Washington political rhetoric, and the around-the-clock media barrage......

The likely involvement of the ISI behind the Bhutto hit cannot be overstated. ISI’s role behind every major act of “terrorism” since 9/11 remains the central unspoken truth behind current geopolitical realities......

The “war on terrorism” resparked Every major Anglo-American geostrategic crime has been preceded by a convenient pretext, orchestrated and carried out by “terror” proxies directly or indirectly connected to US military-intelligence, or manipulated into performing as intelligence assets. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is simply one more brutal example.

This was Pakistan’s 9/11; Pakistan’s JFK assassination, and its impact will resonate for years.

Contrary to mainstream corporate news reporting, chaos benefits Bush-Cheney’s “war on terrorism”. Calls for “increased worldwide security” will pave the way for a muscular US reaction, US-led force and other forms of “crack down” from Bush-Cheney across the region. In other words, the assassination helps ensure that the US will not only never leave, but also increase its presence.....

While the success of Bush-Cheney’s 9/11 agenda has met with mixed results, and it has met with a wide array of resistance (“terroristic” as well as political), there is no doubt that the propaganda foundation of the “war on terrorism” has remained firm, unshaken and routinely reinforced......"

حجاج غزة: تراجع مصري مخجل

حجاج غزة: تراجع مصري مخجل

"يبدو ان الزيارة التي قام بها ايهود باراك وزير الدفاع الاسرائيلي الي مصر، والتقي خلالها الرئيس حسني مبارك ومدير مخابراته العامة عمر سليمان بدأت تعطي ثمارها بشكل اسرع مما توقعه الكثيرون الذين اعتقدوا، ونحن منهم، ان الحكومة المصرية ستصمد في مواجهة الضغوط الابتزازية الاسرائيلية، وتتمسك بمواقفها الرافضة لها، خاصة تلك المتعلقة بالوضع الراهن في قطاع غزة المحتل.
فبعد ان مارست الحكومة المصرية حقها السيادي في السماح لحجاج قطاع غزة بالعبور من خلال معبر رفح لاداء فريضة الحج، ودون الاذعان للاملاءات الاسرائيلية برفض هذه الخطوة، ها هي تتراجع وبشكل مخجل، وتطالب هؤلاء الحجاج البالغ عددهم حوالي ثلاثة آلاف ان يوقعوا تعهدا بالعودة الي قطاع غزة عبر معبر كرم سالم الذي تريد الحكومة الاسرائيلية فرضه كبديل عن معبر رفح، ويخضع لسيطرتها بالكامل.
محافظ سيناء السيد احمد عبد الحميد اعلن يوم الجمعة انه تم اعداد مخيمات لايواء هؤلاء فور وصولهم الي العريش في اطار الاستعدادات المتخذة من جانب الحكومة المصرية، وهذا يعني ان اقامة هؤلاء قد تطول طالما انهم يرفضون العودة عبر المعابر الاسرائيلية، سواء معبر كرم سالم او معبر العوجة.
هذا التراجع المؤسف من قبل الحكومة المصرية يؤكد النظرية الاسرائيلية التي تقول بان الضغط والتهديد والوعيد هي الاسلوب الانجع في التعامل مع القاهرة، لان مواقف الحكومة المصرية قابلة للتغيير والتبديل بسرعة فائقة، اذا ما لوحت لها نظيرتها الاسرائيلية بورقة اللوبي اليهودي في واشنطن، واستخدامه الكونغرس لاشهار سيف المساعدات الامريكية لمصر والتهديد بتخفيضها.
فاللوبي اليهودي نجح في استصدار قرار من الكونغرس الامريكي ينص علي تخفيض المساعدات المالية لمصر بمقدار مئة مليون دولار، طالما لا تبذل الجهود المطلوبة والكافية لمنع تهريب الاسلحة من خلال الانفاق الي حركة المقاومة الاسلامية حماس التي تسيطر حاليا علي قطاع غزة.
هذا القرار أرعب الحكومة المصرية، وجعلها تتجاوب كليا مع الاملاءات الاسرائيلية فيما يبدو، واولها التضييق علي الحجاج الفلسطينيين والزج بهم في العراء، ومنعهم من العودة الي قطاع غزة بالطريقة نفسها التي غادروه بها اي عبر معبر رفح.
الحكومة الاسرائيلية تمارس ابشع انواع الابتزاز علي نظيرتها المصرية، والثانية لا تتردد في ابتزاز الحجاج الفلسطينيين، واستخدام معاناتهم كورقة لاثبات حسن نواياها تجاه واشنطن واسرائيل.
كنا نعتقد ان مصر الدولة الاقليمية العظمي لا يمكن ان تخضع للابتزاز الاسرائيلي، وتتقبل الاملاءات الاسرائيلية المهينة بشأن معبر رفح والمشاركة في حصار مليون ونصف المليون فلسطيني ومفاقمة معاناتهم الانسانية، خاصة ان باراك رفض رفضا مطلقا التجاوب مع المطالب المصرية في تعديل اتفاقات كامب ديفيد، بما يسمح بزيادة القوات المصرية في سيناء، ولكن يبدو ان اعتقادنا لم يكن في محله مطلقا، وثبت مرة اخري ان الحكومة المصرية اضعف من ان تصمد في وجه محاولات الابتزاز هذه، وتتمسك بابسط قراراتها السيادية التي تخدم مصالحها الاستراتيجية وامنها القومي."

Confirmation!! The Pharaoh Has No Balls!

Close to two thousand pilgrims from Gaza trapped in Egypt

"Close to two thousand Palestinian pilgrims who arrived in Egypt on Saturday protested Egyptian demands that they return to the Gaza Strip through an Israel Defense Forces-controlled border crossing, security officials and pilgrims said.

Senior Hamas officials among the pilgrims have resisted Egyptian attempts to have them enter through the Israeli-controlled Aouja crossing, the Egyptian security official said.

Al-Jazeera television aired interviews with the pilgrims before they left Jordan in which they showed a paper Egypt allegedly asked them to sign saying they would to return to Gaza through Aouja.

Israeli officials have said the Egyptians agreed to have the pilgrims use the Aouja crossing after Defense Minister Ehud Barak's recent visit to Egypt......

Hamas government spokesman Taher Nunu said Saturday that 1,900 pilgrims are caught in limbo at sea and urged Egypt to urgently end their plight.

"We in the government and the people refuse to use (the Israeli) crossing. The pilgrims have the right to return the same way they exited," he said......

The standoff angered Hamas, who said Egypt has a responsibility to bring the pilgrims back to Gaza as quickly as possible.

In Gaza late Friday, angry Hamas loyalists fired their guns in the air and lobbed sound bombs in protest of Egypt's actions. The rioting was quickly quelled by Hamas security.

Hamas lawmaker Yehia Moussa said Egypt has a moral obligation to bring the pilgrims back home. "We demand an immediate end to the situation before we get to popular reactions with undesired consequences," he said.

Moussa said that his words did not constitute a threat, but that the public has the right to protest and revolt against the policy."

Official says PA dismantling Al-Aqsa and other militant groups

"The top Palestinian security official said on Saturday his government was dismantling militant groups, including those connected to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction.

Officials said Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades largely agreed to go along with the government's security plan in the West Bank without putting up a fight.

"There is no Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades any more," Interior Minister Abdel-Razak al-Yahya told Voice of Palestine radio, referring to Fatah's largest armed group......

He said Abbas's Western-backed government has started "working to dismantle" other militant groups, though he did not spell out how that would be accomplished. He stopped short of threatening to deploy his forces against those who resist the security clampdown, but he said: "We will impose law and order.".....

But the diplomats questioned the government's ability to disarm Fatah militants on a larger scale, noting al-Aqsa's decentralized command and control structure.

A unit of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the Gaza Strip issued a statement in the Gaza Strip accusing Yahya of being a "collaborator" who follows "American and Zionist masters."

"We will pursue Jihad and resistance until we liberate Palestine from the Zionists," the statement said. "

PA minister vows 'harsh measures' against killers of 2 Israelis

"Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki on Friday vowed a "harsh" response to a West Bank shooting attack that killed two Israeli hikers earlier in the day.

"As we condemn all Israeli assassination operations... in Gaza and West Bank, we cannot accept such operations carried out by armed groups," said al-Malki.

He said the aim of the group who carried out the attack was to disrupt peace talks and Palestinian security plans, and promised "to take harsh measures" against them......

Both Rubin and Amihai were in elite units of the IDF, with Rubin serving as a sergeant in the Israeli Naval commandos and Amihai as a corporal in the Israel Air Force's equivalent unit......."

Is this the beginning of the end in Iraq?

By Patrick Cockburn

"Some 19 US soldiers have been killed so far in December, the lowest number of American military fatalities in a single month since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. As recently as May this year, 135 US soldiers were shot dead or blown up by Iraqi guerrillas.

The fall in US casualties is one of the most surprising events of 2007. At the beginning of the year, the American army in Iraq seemed to be clinging on by its fingertips as more and more of the country came under the control of Sunni and Shia warlords. Twelve months later, US units are peaceably patrolling districts of Baghdad where once they faced ambushes at every street corner......

Significant changes have taken place in Iraq this year. The most important is that part of the Sunni Arab community, the core of the insurgency against the US occupation, has changed sides and is now fighting al-Qa'ida in alliance with the US military. This dramatic switch in allegiance occurred primarily because the Sunni Arabs, only 20 per cent of Iraq's population, were being overwhelmed by the Shia, the branch of Islam to which 60 per cent of Iraqis belong.......

.....The US has effectively raised a Sunni militia force which may soon total 100,000 men, many of them former insurgents. They are armed and paid for by the US, but regard the Shia-Kurdish government with deep suspicion. Many Sunni commanders speak of taking on the Shia militia, the Mehdi army, which has been stood down by its leader, Muqtada al-Sadr.

It is a bizarre situation. One experienced Iraqi politician told me that al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which never had much connection with Osama bin Laden's organisation, had effectively split last year. A sign of this was when somebody betrayed the location of its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to the US military, which bombed his hideout and killed him. Some of the so-called "Concerned Citizens" militiamen now on the US payroll are former al-Qa'ida fighters.....

Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are very different countries, but they are the terrain in which President Bush chose to test America's status as a superpower. They are also countries where it is difficult to win a decisive victory because power is so fragmented. Successes often turn out to be illusory or exaggerated....."

They don't blame al-Qa'ida. They blame Musharraf

By Robert Fisk

"Weird, isn't it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People's Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi – attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives – and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were "extremists" and "terrorists".......

Only a few days ago – in one of the most remarkable (but typically unrecognised) scoops of the year – Tariq Ali published a brilliant dissection of Pakistan (and Bhutto) corruption in the London Review of Books, focusing on Benazir and headlined: "Daughter of the West". In fact, the article was on my desk to photocopy as its subject was being murdered in Rawalpindi.

Towards the end of this report, Tariq Ali dwelt at length on the subsequent murder of Murtaza Bhutto by police close to his home at a time when Benazir was prime minister – and at a time when Benazir was enraged at Murtaza for demanding a return to PPP values and for condemning Benazir's appointment of her own husband as minister for industry, a highly lucrative post.

In a passage which may yet be applied to the aftermath of Benazir's murder, the report continues: "The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but, as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police log-books, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated – a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister's brother had been taken at a very high level."

When Murtaza's 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, rang her aunt Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested – rather than her father's killers – she says Benazir told her: "Look, you're very young. You don't understand things." Or so Tariq Ali's exposé would have us believe. Over all this, however, looms the shocking power of Pakistan's ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence.

This vast institution – corrupt, venal and brutal – works for Musharraf. But it also worked – and still works – for the Taliban. It also works for the Americans. In fact, it works for everybody......

It doesn't, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.

So let's run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman's notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir's supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a "murderer" were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her."