Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Not You! You!!!"

By Uri Avnery

""Hey! Take your hands off Tibet!" the international chorus is crying out, "But not from Chechnya! Not from the Basque homeland! And certainly not from Palestine!" And that is not a joke......

I support the Tibetans in spite of it being obvious that the Americans are exploiting the struggle for their own purposes. Clearly, the CIA has planned and organized the riots, and the American media are leading the world-wide campaign. It is a part of the hidden struggle between the US, the reigning super-power, and China, the rising super-power......

No, what is really bugging me is the hypocrisy of the world media. They storm and thunder about Tibet. In thousands of editorials and talk-shows they heap curses and invective on the evil China. It seems as if the Tibetans are the only people on earth whose right to independence is being denied by brutal force, that if only Beijing would take its dirty hands off the saffron-robed monks, everything would be alright in this, the best of all possible worlds.......

THIS LEADS us, of course, to the Palestinian issue.

In the competition for the sympathy of the world media, the Palestinians are unlucky. According to all the objective standards, they have a right to full independence, exactly like the Tibetans. They inhabit a defined territory, they are a specific nation, a clear border exists between them and Israel. One must really have a crooked mind to deny these facts.

But the Palestinians are suffering from several cruel strokes of fate: The people that oppress them claim for themselves the crown of ultimate victimhood. The whole world sympathizes with the Israelis because the Jews were the victims of the most horrific crime of the Western world. That creates a strange situation: the oppressor is more popular than the victim. Anyone who supports the Palestinians is automatically suspected of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.......

The world media are shedding tears for the Tibetan people, whose land is taken from them by Chinese settlers. Who cares about the Palestinians, whose land is taken from them by our settlers?

In the world-wide tumult about Tibet, the Israeli spokespersons compare themselves - strange as it sounds - to the poor Tibetans, not to the evil Chinese. Many think this quite logical.

If Kant were dug up tomorrow and asked about the Palestinians, he would probably answer: "Give them what you think should be given to everybody, and don't wake me up again to ask silly questions.""

Gaza Running on Near Empty

By Mohammed Omer

"GAZA CITY, Apr 5 (IPS) - Ayman Eid stands as motionless as his orange Hyundai taxi. Never mind taking a passenger somewhere, Ayman has no idea how he will ever get home.

The queue at the petrol station seems endless. Drivers have run out of petrol even to queue up in their cars; they just queue up themselves, empty cans in hand. Only the lucky leave with a full can by the end of a day.......

"We met with the Israelis, and they said that Gaza is a hostile entity," said al-Khozendar. He said that his organisation told Israeli officials that their fuel embargo policy is a violation of the Geneva Convention (in which Article 4 guarantees the rights of a people living under occupation). He said he was reminded that they are better off than are Iraqis under U.S. occupation.......

Not many miss the irony of this situation. And certainly not a man who walks up to join Ayman Eid in his idleness. "Israel takes Arab oil," he says. "And then refuses to sell it to Arabs." "

This is How Dayton's Palestinian Puppet Forces Are Created

U.S. supervising training of elite PA unit in Jordan

"About three weeks ago, the Palestinian interior minister, General Abdel Razak al-Yahya, arrived in the Jordanian village of Giftlik to visit the training camp of the "special second battalion" of the Palestinian National Security force. Yahya gathered all 620 soldiers and officers belonging to the first PNS battalion to undergo training under an American program and Jordanian guidance - the first supposedly elite unit of what used to be viewed as the Palestinian Authority's army. "Your duty is not to any organization or party, but only to the Palestinian Authority," Yahya told them.

The old general, a veteran of numerous battles and wars with Israel as a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's military wing, the Palestinian Liberation Army, and even the Syrian army, did not hide his opinion about clashing with Israel.

"You are not here to confront the Israeli side, and the conflict with it has led until now only to suffering and not to positive results. You must prove to the Israelis that you are capable of performing and succeeding."

He told the young officers, most of them in their 20s, that their objective, first and foremost, is to aid their people to contend with the threats of crime, terror and other problems.......

It is not just a matter of the American training program, but also and mainly the motivation and "fighting spirit" of those soldiers, "the cream of Palestinian youth." They were sent to Jordan only in late January, for a four-month course, as part of the plan drawn up by the U.S. Security Coordinator for the Israel-Palestinian Authority, Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, to rebuild the PA security services and particularly the PNS.

Potential recruits were subjected to quadruple vetting. First the PA rejected candidates who were unsuitable because of past involvement in crime or terror organizations. Then the Israeli Shin Bet, the Americans and Jordanians considered each candidate separately. Only 20 names were struck off the list by the Israelis.

The training the Palestinian troops are receiving at the camp in Giftlik is very diverse: using guns and rifles, taking control of houses and clearing them out, conducting arrests, crowd control, using force and even lessons about human rights and military ethics. They are being trained to deal also with hostage situations.......

"Dayton's baby," as some senior PA officials have dubbed the battalion, made the news recently after Israel agreed to have the soldiers deploy to Jenin on completing their training, but there is still no certainty regarding their first assignment.

This is the first battalion to undergo American training, but Dayton's plan calls for training another four battalions of similar size. Palestinian Interior Ministry officials say a second group will be able to leave for training in Jordan in early August.

Dayton and his team have accompanied the battalion since its inception. It was also they who presented the Defense Ministry this past February with the lists of equipment transfers that Israel will have to approve for the new PNS forces: cars (just recently, Israel okayed equipping PA security services with 148 pickup trucks for moving troops), uniforms, shoes, first-aid equipment and more).

Contrary to media reports until now, the Palestinians were pleasantly surprised by the Israeli defense establishment's willingness to help make the new forces' training and equipment a success, perhaps out of a desire to avoid friction with the U.S. administration.......

Dayton's team is also involved in setting up a strategic planning group at Yahya's Interior Ministry, which is responsible for all security services. The group is meant to draw up a budget and strategic guidelines for PA forces. In addition, the American team is planning infrastructure projects such as rebuilding bases and training facilities for PA troops. "

Manufacturing Consent For Attacking Iran: Iran joined militias in battle for Basra

Times Online

"IRANIAN forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to tell Congress this week.

Military and intelligence sources believe Iranians were operating at a tactical command level with the Shi’ite militias fighting Iraqi security forces; some were directing operations on the ground, they think.

Petraeus intends to use the evidence of Iranian involvement to argue against any reductions in US forces.

Dr Daniel Goure, a defence analyst at the Lexington Institute in Virginia, said: “There is no question that Petraeus will be tough on Iran. It is one thing to withdraw troops when there is purely sectarian fighting but it is another thing if it leaves the Iranians to move in.”......"

What we must do

In his third instalment on Israel's historic options, Azmi Bishara argues that Arab democratisation and development are at the heart of resisting Israel's strategic choice of permanent war against the Arab nation

Al-Ahram Weekly

"......It is useful, here, to consider why Yasser Arafat turned down such an offer at Camp David. His rejection has less to do with his commitment to "fixed principles" than it does with his grasp of how that solution would play in Palestinian and Arab opinion: it would have no legitimacy. Arafat had linked his personal and political career to negotiations.....

If the Palestinian people agreed on a solution, that would be sufficient to settle any questions about its legitimacy at the regional level. The problem with the proposal at hand is that it is being pushed by means of an outside alliance with one Palestinian faction against another Palestinian faction, one of which that swept the last legislative elections. Meanwhile, to Palestinians in the Diaspora, a solution that by definition excludes the refugees is automatically out of the question. The solution, thus, has no basis of legitimacy among the Palestinian people. But to aggravate the problem, it has become a cause of fierce infighting, with the result that part of the solution's ripening process is to bombard and starve a part of the Palestinian people until they buckle before the inevitable. This is not a sign of legitimacy.......

.....Neither the settlement nor the process that led to it is legitimate in the public eye. Also, the brutality that Israel has unleashed to drive the Palestinian people away from resistance into bowing to Israeli conditions has fed popular rancour and fuelled the tendency to hurl accusations of treachery at Arab parties lending themselves to the settlement process......

The Arab region has encountered a very similar situation in the past. It took the form of the crusader state that, too, lived in permanent conflict with its environment. I will not enumerate the similarities, because that is not the point here. Suffice it to say that, in spite of the obviously different historical contexts, the crusader state contracted numerous pacts and alliances with Arab rulers against other Arab rulers, and it is not difficult to identify contemporary parallels......
Indeed, we could bring up any number of such similarities, but at every turn we'd find someone who would counter -- correctly -- that the current international order is completely different from that which prevailed in the days of the crusader knights and Arab princedoms. To be sure, the permanence and stability of the modern Arab and Jewish state is of a radically different quality.......

More significantly, we can counter that it is also obvious that the Arabs today are not the Arabs of the past. The Arabs today have a totally different mindset in terms of national and pan-Arab consciousness, common interests and concerns, as well as an understanding of colonialism and the cause of national expression. Therefore, we are not so naïve to draw analogies. But we do have a paradigm: an alien state in the region implanted by colonialist military expeditions, establishing itself in opposition to its environment and dependent for its continuity on its fortifications and knights and on the exploitation of the animosities extant between the political entities around it.......

There is very little hope on the horizon that Israel will come around to either the one-state or the two-state solution, which means that the Palestinians and the Arabs can anticipate a situation that is not conducive to the fulfilment of their rights. But this does not mean that they should renounce their rights. Rather, they should reject all unfair solutions and, at the same time, develop a fixed democratic alternative to present to both Jews and Arabs within a framework of safeguarding for future welfare of the Arab region as a whole.

This is the course of the pursuit of life and development while sustaining the means of subsistence in Palestine and resistance against the de facto realities Israel is creating on the ground. Resistance can accomplish important partial gains while forestalling the normalisation of a colonialist condition. However, the major challenge to Israel is at the regional level and resides in the cumulative progress the Arabs can achieve towards building their capacities to withstand Israel, through the modernisation of their states and societies, through the performance of such essential tasks as building their deterrent powers, economic development and democratisation. The struggle is a long one, but it must be conducted, and at a proper pace. Time is not in favour of Israel; it is in favour of whoever uses it astutely. That is one of the most important lessons of the past 60 years."

Grab more hills, expand the territory

By Henry Siegman
London Review of Books

"The title of Gershom Gorenberg’s book is somewhat misleading in its suggestion that the establishment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza was ‘accidental’. While Gorenberg, an American-born Israeli journalist, notes that no Israeli government ever made a formal decision about the future of the West Bank, his account of the first decade of Israel’s occupation leaves no doubt that the settlements were deliberately founded, and were intended to create a permanent Israeli presence in as much of the Occupied Territories as possible (indeed, the hope was for them to cover all of the Occupied Territories, if the international community would allow it). No Israeli government has ever supported the establishment of a Palestinian state east of the 1949 armistice line that constituted the pre-1967 border. At the very least, the settlements were designed to make a return to that border impossible.......

The claim that it is only Palestinian violence and rejectionism that compelled Israel to remain in the territories is a fabrication. As I argued in the LRB (16 August 2007), the assiduously promoted story of Israel’s pursuit of peace and its search for a Palestinian ‘partner for peace’ was fashioned to buy time to establish ‘facts on the ground’: settlements that would so completely shatter the territorial and demographic contiguity and integrity of Palestinian land and life as to make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible. In this, Israel’s leaders have succeeded so well that Olmert, who claims finally to have realised that without a two-state solution Israel will become an apartheid entity that cannot survive, has not been able to implement even the smallest of the changes he promised in Annapolis. The expansion of the settlements and of a Jews-only highway system in the West Bank continues without interruption. The price that Israel and Jews everywhere – not to speak of the Palestinian people – may yet have to pay for this ‘success’ is painful to contemplate. "

Bomber Crash Site = Air Force Hub for Mid East

"The B-1 that crashed today was just one of roughly 10 currently deployed to Al Udeid in Qatar to provide air cover for coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Al Udeid is the major forward base for big airplanes supporting the U.S. war operation. In this Google Maps snapshot you can see B-1s, RC-135 spy planes, E-8 radar planes and tankers. C-130s, C-17s and other "iron" are visible elsewhere on the sprawling base. Check it out."

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestinian Refugees return to Nahr al-Bared - 05 Apr 08

The fearful lives in a land of the free

Westerners assume that anyone with a Canadian passport is safe

By Robert Fisk

".....but that I wanted to know why I so rarely heard them condemn the vicious police states in the Middle East and other areas of south-west Asia from which they originally came, I was greeted with silence......

"Mr Robert, you have to understand something," the driver suddenly said. "They have their 'mukhabarat' agents here in Canada. Whenever there is even a dispute between families, anyone who's angry can report back that his antagonist is anti-regime. We have to remember that we have families still in our Arab countries. They can be arrested. Or we can be arrested when we go back to visit them."

Of course. Only a Westerner – only someone who automatically assumes that anyone with a Canadian passport is safe – could have failed to spot the flaw in the country's brave multiethnic society: not that Canada's vast communities from every part of the world live in the land of the free – which they do – but that their freedom is frighteningly circumscribed by the ruthlessness and lack of freedom in the countries from which they came.

And so I began to learn what it is like to be an Arab Canadian. It takes only a local argument to have an email winging its way back to Tripoli or Cairo or Damascus or the Gulf, informing the local despots that their dual citizen – Mohamed or Hassan or Abdulrahman or whatever – is a potential subversive and, ergo, a terrorist. And, so great is the co-operation between our beloved Western intelligence agencies and the torturers of these repulsive dictatorships that this "intelligence" is shared.

So only days after the original message has gone off to the Arab world, the "mukhabarat" privately tell the Canadian intelligence service – a truly silly institution called CSIS – that Mohamed or Hassan or Abdulrahman is a "terrorist". At which point, Mohamed or Hassan or Abdulrahman come under observation from CSIS as potentially dangerous terrorists in Canada.

At which point I realised exactly why my remarks in the Ottawa banqueting hall were greeted with a frozen silence. It isn't long ago, for example, that Maher Arar, who lives in Canada, was picked up by the FBI's goons while in transit at JFK airport and "renditioned" to an underground prison and torture in Syria, courtesy of information provided by CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Canadian government subsequently awarded Arar $10m for this outrageous experience. But who wants to speak out against one's country of origin if it's going to end in the company of a well-trained torturer?

Just as Tariq Ali revealed the darkness behind the Bhutto legend in the London Review of Books last year, so my favourite lawyer, Gareth Peirce – she of In the Name of the Father fame – has now shone her crimson torch upon the British version of these iniquitous goings on.

In the same publication, she has given the most detailed account so far of the fraudulent British promises given to Arabs who chose to return to their savage homelands – rather than languish under a form of house arrest in the UK – that they would be neither tortured nor imprisoned after they went home.

When Benaissa Taleb and Rida Dendani were packed off back to Algeria, for instance, a British diplomat had promised that they would be detained for only a few hours. But they were both interrogated and beaten for 12 days in Algiers before being sentenced to years in prison. When Dendani appealed desperately to the British Special Immigration Appeals Commission, the SIAC didn't even bother to reply. And there was no reason why they should.

As Peirce has now revealed from court papers, private memoranda between the Home Office and Anthony Blair (I am truly sorry that I must mention this wretched man's name again), a caution from civil servants about the probable torture to which deported Egyptians might be subjected if sent to Cairo, was greeted by our former prime minister with the words: "Get them back." In reference to the Home Office's concern that Egyptian assurances could not be trusted, Blair wrote: "This is a bit much. Why do we need all these things?"

Am I the only one to react to the preachy, hypocritical sermon by this detestable man at Westminster Cathedral on Thursday with something more than disgust? Because it is his callous, immoral reaction to that deportation case – and the response of countless political leaders like him – towards Muslims in Europe and North America that led to that cold, hollow, frightening silence in the Ottawa banqueting hall. If I had been among the audience, I now realise, I would have remained silent too."

The Petraeus and Crocker Show

Will They Signal an Iran Attack?


"April 5, 2008. Today the London Telegraph [posted here yesterday] reported that "British officials gave warning yesterday that America's commander in Iraq will declare that Iran is waging war against the US-backed Baghdad government. A strong statement from General David Petraeus about Iran's intervention in Iraq could set the stage for a US attack on Iranian militiary facilities, according to a Whitehall assessment."

The neocon lacky Petraeus has had his script written for him by Cheney, and Petraeus together with neocon warmonger Ryan Crocker, the US governor of the Green Zone in Baghdad, will present Congress next Tuesday and Wednesday with the lies, for which the road has been well paved by neocon propagandists such as Kimberly Kagan, that "the US must recognize that Iran is engaged in a full-up proxy war against it in Iraq."

Don't expect Congress to do anything except to egg on the attack......

Perhaps the British government has derailed the plot to attack Iran by leaking in advance to the London Telegraph the disinformation Cheney has prepared for Petraeus and Crocker to deliver to the complicit US Congress next Tuesday and Wednesday. On the other hand, the US puppet media is likely to bury the real story and to trumpet Petraeus claims that Iran has, in effect, already declared war on the US by sending weapons to kill US troops in Iraq.

By next Thursday we will know from how the Petraeus-Crocker dog and pony show plays in the US Congress and media whether the Bush Regime will commit yet another war crime by attacking Iran."

Barghouthi: Israeli violations and assaults increased since Annapolis

"RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- MP Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi, the secretary-general of the Palestinian national initiative, called on the PA leadership to stop negotiations with the Israeli occupation immediately, pointing out that the Israeli violations and assaults had surged in an unprecedented manner since the Annapolis conference.

Dr. Barghouthi warned the PA of propagating the idea of a solution on the basis of a state within temporary borders or partial transitional solutions and tuning the final solution idea into a mere declaration of principles again, adding such solutions would torpedo the national rights of the Palestinian people and would provide Israel with a cover up to continue judaization and settlement activities.

The MP underlined that since Annapolis until today, the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians had increased by 300 percent, pointing out that the Israeli assaults in the West Bank alone surged by 46 percent which confirms that these assaults have nothing to do with the rocket attacks carried out by Palestinian resistance in Gaza.

He added that since the talk started about the Israeli goodwill gestures towards the PA, the IOA released 788 Palestinians prisoners and arrested in turn since Annapolis 2,175, three times as many as those released

Regarding the Israeli settlement activities, the lawmaker underscored that the settlement expansion had increased eleven fold since Annapolis compared to the period prior to the conference, pointing out that 9,432 new settlement units have been built in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank in addition to 1,900 other units which were announced during the last week.

Barghouthi said that the number of the Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank increased from 521 to 580 barriers after Annapolis, adding that the expansion of the apartheid wall is going fast.

Regarding the Israeli allegation about the removal of 50 barriers in the West Bank in the wake of the American secretary of state's visit to the region, the MP explained that the Israeli decision to remove barriers was "theatrical and misleading" because they only removed one roadblock in the Jordan valley and some sand barriers including new ones that were deployed recently by the IOF troops in order to remove them before the media cameras."

Human Rights Watch: Palestinian Authority: Punish Imam’s Death in Custody

Implement Recommendations of Legislative Commission

"Jerusalem, April 4, 2008) – The Palestinian Authority should promptly implement the recommendations of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s investigation into the recent torture and death in custody of Majid al-Barghuti, Human Rights Watch said today. The Palestinian Authority should hold accountable members of the security services who violated Palestinian or international law in his death.

Al-Barghuti, the 42-year-old imam of a mosque in the village of Kobar, outside Ramallah, was arrested by the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) on February 14, 2008, and pronounced dead on February 22.

The family retrieved al-Barghuti’s body on February 24. Photos taken of the body that day, viewed by Human Rights Watch, show deep and extensive bruising on the legs, feet and back, consistent with marks caused from beatings. Both wrists had lacerations, apparently from handcuffs.

In response to al-Barghuti’s killing, the Palestinian Legislative Council formed an ad hoc committee to investigate his death. The committee released its report on April 3, concluding that al-Barghuti had been tortured and the Palestinian Authority was responsible for his death. The committee called on the Palestinian Authority to hold the responsible members of the GIS legally accountable and to ensure that torture in Palestinian Authority custody comes to an end.

The evidence collected by Human Rights Watch and the PLC committee strongly suggests that al-Barghuti died from torture,” said Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope President Abbas will help end torture by bringing to justice those who apparently killed Majid al-Barghuti.”......

On February 25, Human Rights Watch interviewed two men who said they had witnessed GIS members maltreating al-Barghuti in custody. Both men were in custody at the GIS headquarters at the time. They said they heard and saw al-Barghuti being beaten and then denied medical care.

One of the men, who claimed GIS officers also beat him extensively while he was hung from a hook on the wall, said he saw al-Barghuti in custody and then heard the security forces threatening and beating him. “We know you are with Hamas, where are the weapons?” they reportedly said. He said he also saw al-Barghuti at various times over a few days handcuffed to a wall with his hands behind his back. Human Rights Watch saw lacerations on both wrists of the witness, which he said were from metal handcuffs digging into his skin.

The other witness, interviewed separately, said he saw al-Barghuti in a variety of stress positions, known in Arabic as shabah. In one position, Al-Barghuti had his hands tied behind his back and was hanging from the wall with his toes just touching the ground. In another position, his arms were tied behind his back and he was forced to stand with one leg in the air. The man said he also heard sounds of al-Barghuti getting beaten with a plastic pipe. “He kept yelling ‘God help me!’” the man said.

After three days in detention, both men said, they heard al-Barghuti telling the guards that he was vomiting blood. GIS officers took him to the hospital for a few hours and then brought him back. “I saw him,” one of the witnesses said. “His feet and hands were black and blue. He was shivering and his eyes were rolled back. He was being held up by two guys.”......

In addition to the credible allegations of torture, Palestinian Authority security forces committed other violations of Palestinian and international law in their handling of the case, Human Rights Watch said. Al-Barghuti, as well as the other two men in custody at the same time, were not informed of the reasons for their arrest, allowed to see a lawyer, or brought before an investigative judge, as Palestinian law requires after 24 hours in detention. Al-Barghuti also seems to have been denied prompt medical care.

Since June 2007, when Hamas routed Fatah forces in Gaza and took control there, Palestinian Authority security forces have arrested hundreds of people in the West Bank, mostly men, without charge. Most of the victims have been members, supporters, or suspected supporters of the Palestinian group Hamas. Lawyers and local human rights groups say that due process violations are the norm, as is physical maltreatment, especially the stress positions known as shabah......

Human Rights Watch urged the Palestinian Authority to:

• Duly implement the recommendations of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s ad hoc committee investigating al-Barghuti’s death;

• Commence proceedings by the attorney general, including any necessary further investigation, with a view to holding accountable those persons found to have violated Palestinian or international law;

• Have the attorney general regularly monitor all detention facilities run by GIS, Preventive Security, and the police; and

• Allow Palestinian human rights organizations access to monitor detention facilities. The only organization currently allowed to monitor such facilities is the Palestinian Authority’s human rights commission, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights (PICCR), and its visits are sometimes blocked. "

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you believe the recently concluded Arab agreement to regulate satellite channel broadcasts to be in the interest of Arab informational media?

With about 6,000 responding so far, 85% said no.

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Dave Brown, The Independent

Real News Video: Thousands protest Iraqi government raids

"Pepe Escobar: Sadr calls for massive demonstrations against occupation on April 9th

Saturday April 5th, 2008"

Muqtada out of step in Shi'ite dance

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

".......One theory says that Imad Mughniya, the Hezbollah commander who was assassinated in Damascus in February, had been charged by Iran to restructure the Mahdi Army. He had been one of the architects of Hezbollah in 1982 and was asked to do the same to professionalize the Sadrists. While all of this was being done, Muqtada was asked to return to his religious studies so he could rise to the rank of ayatollah and therefore gain a much stronger role in Shi'ite domestics. He would then be authorized to issue religious decrees and answer religious questions related to politics - just like Hakim.

Then suddenly something went wrong, and last week Maliki (who is now equally close to the Iranians) went to war against the Sadrists. Some claim that an under-the-table deal was hammered out in Baghdad in March between the Americans, Maliki and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian leader would let the Americans have their way - and crush the Sadrists - in exchange for softening pressure on the Iranian regime. In return, Ahmadinejad would help them bring better security to Iraq through a variety of methods stemming from Iranian cooperation.

This would please the Americans, Maliki and the Iranians, who in exchange for Muqtada's head would enter a new relationship with the Americans. This might explain why the only people who have been lobbying heavily with Maliki - to stop the war on Muqtada - have been those opposed to Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs, mainly Sunni tribes, ex-prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (who refused sanctuary in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war) and the Sunni speaker of parliament, Mahmud Mashadani.

Other Shi'ite heavyweights in the Arab world, like Hasan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri, who are both very close to Iran, have been relatively silent over the ordeal. Syria, which is a traditional friend of Iran and has good relations with Muqtada, has also refused to comment. Are all Shi'ites two sides of the same coin, or has this long-held belief been shattered by the war - and mutiny - in Basra? "

Lebanon raises military alert fearing imminent IDF attack

"Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora on Friday called on the Lebanese army to raise its alert level, fearing that Israel may exploit an upcoming major military exercise to violate his country's sovereignty, Israel Radio reported Saturday.

A widespread, week-long civil defense drill will begin in Israel on Sunday, starting at the weekly cabinet meeting with a briefing by the commander of the exercise, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai.......

Siniora asked United Nations peacekeepers tasked with monitoring the border, "to be careful" that Israel will not utilize its large-scale civil defense drill "to launch operations capable of increasing tension," a statement from his office said.

He also urged the Lebanese army to "be extremely vigilant and take the necessary measures to protect Lebanese civilians and face up to any Israeli violation [ just like they did in 2006, Mr. Siniora?]."

Lebanese Army commander General Michel Suleiman also said that he had ordered his troops to raise alert and preparation levels in all army units until the end of the Israeli military drill......"


This can only mean one thing: The Lebanese "army" must have started large scale drills in.....yes you guessed it, how to serve tea to the IOF!

Nelson Barghouti Needed to Rescue the "Peace Process" Now! Move Over Abbas Israel Needs a New, "More Capable," Puppet.

Minister Ben-Eliezer: Israel-PA peace process is virtual

"Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Saturday cast doubt over the negotiations Israel is conducting with the Palestinian Authority and called for the release of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.

Speaking to a cultural forum in Haifa, Ben-Eliezer said "the negotiations being conducted today are virtual. Only the release of Barghouti can change the situation. I respect (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas and (Prime Minister Salam) Fayyad); they are good people? But what happened to the 60,000 weapons that we handed over to them? Everything is under Hamas' control now. I'm looking for someone with whom we can seal a deal."

The Labor Party minister warned that Hamas may seize control of the West Bank in the near future, adding that if a peace agreement is not reached, "a third nationalistic Arab movement will be established that will lead to a bi-national state in Israel.

"At this rate, Hamas will soon take over the West Bank as well," he said, "I believe the only one who can stop this from happening is Barghouti."......"

(Graphic courtesy of Dakaken)

Jibril: IOF invasion of Gaza within weeks in coordination with Abbas

"DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Israel is planning a large scale incursion into the Gaza Strip in coordination with the PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Jibril, the secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, asserted.

Jibril speaking to Quds Press quoted western sources as saying that Israel would invade the Strip within the coming few weeks and would assassinate senior political and military leaders of Hamas. He added that Abbas would be allowed to condemn the incursion.

The western sources, which refused to disclose their identity, said that the aggression would take place within 20 days at the most, the PFLP-GC leader underlined.

He said that Egyptian and international forces would then enter Gaza to protect Abbas, and added that the Israelis hope that such an act would terrorize Syria and Hizbullah.

Jibril warned the Israelis that Gaza would turn into a graveyard for their soldiers."

Friday, April 4, 2008

زكريا الزبيدي: قادتنا في "فتح" يسيرون بنا نحو الدمار وأولويتهم أمن الاحتلال

توقع أن يطرد الفلسطينيون سلطة عباس من الضفة

"رام الله - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام
كال أحد الناشطين المعروفين من "كتائب شهداء الأقصى" في الضفة الغربية، نعوتاً حادة وشديدة اللهجة إلى قيادة حركة "فتح" (يحجم "المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام" عن نشر بعضها)، معرباً عن خيبة أمله العميقة من ما آلت إليه تجربة الكتائب، ومشيراً إلى أنّ عمله في "شهداء الأقصى" انتهى ولم يعد يمارس أية نشاطات ضد قوات الاحتلال الصهيوني.

"كـذبوا عليـنـا .."

وأوضح الناشط زكريا الزبيدي، المعروف بكونه من قادة "كتائب الأقصى"، في حديث له لصحيفة "هآرتس" العبرية، أنّ كلاً من سلطة عباس وسلطات الاحتلال "كذابون"، وقال "لقد كذبوا علينا، السلطة و(إسرائيل)، السلطة وعدتنا بأننا بعد ثلاثة أشهر نبقى خلالها داخل مقراتها ولا نتدخل في أي عمل سنتلقى العفو، وانتهت الأشهر الثلاثة ولم يحدث شيء".
وعلّق الزبيدي على خطاب أحد قادة "فتح" في أحد المهرجانات قائلاً "حينها جاء أحد قادة فتح وقال: نحن سائرون على درب الشهداء وسنواصل المقاومة، فاقتربت منه وقلت له: أنت كذاب، لا تكذب على الناس"، وزاد "لقد شعرت بأنهم تركونا، أنا كنت أحد نشطاء الأقصى، إننا نسير بلا اتجاه ونحو اللامكان أو نحو الدمار الكامل"، وفق تعبيره.

ومضى الزبيدي إلى القول "لقد تعبت، حين تخسر ماذا تستطيع أن تعمل؟ نحن النشطاء دفعنا الثمن الكبير، قُتل بعض أبناء عائلاتنا، وأصدقائنا، هدموا منازلنا، ولا يوجد لنا مصدر دخل، وما هي النتيجة؟ صفر، ببساطة، صفر، حين تكون هذه هي النتيجة فأنك لا تعود راغباً بالبقاء في هذا الأمر، الكثير من الأشخاص الآخرين بسبب الإحباط وعدم وجود ذراع عسكري لحركة فتح انضموا إلى الجهاد الإسلامي، هؤلاء النشطاء لا زالوا على استعداد لدفع الثمن"، حسب توضيحه.
وأضاف الزبيدي "ماذا تفعل السلطة لمن يقرِّر الاستمرار، إذا قُتل أحد رجال السلطة خلال اشتباك مع الإسرائيليين؛ فإنّ المخصص الذي ستتلقاه عائلته لا يتجاوز 250 شيكل شهرياً، رغم أنّ راتبه كان 2000 شيكل، لماذا؟ حتى لا يفكر أحد منهم في تنفيذ عمليات، هذه هي الخطة الوحيدة لدى السلطة، الأمن الإسرائيلي، أمن الاحتلال يسبق أمن المواطنين".

وروى زكريا الزبيدي شاهداً نموذجياً على ما يحدث، قائلاً "حين يدخل جيب لقوات الاحتلال إلى أحد المخيمات؛ فإنّ السلطة لا تفعل شيئاً، وإذا أطلق أحد ما النار باتجاه الجيب فإنها تذهب وتعتقله فوراً، اليوم ضابط الشعب الفلسطيني هو الجنرال دايتون، جميعهم يعملون عنده، وهو صاحب البيت، المعلِّم"، وأكد أنّ "السلطة لم تعد قائمة".
واختتم الزبيدي حديثه قائلاً "إنّ خطأ أبو مازن أنه يراهن فقط على جولة المفاوضات، لكن ماذا يحدث لو فشلت؟ ما هي خطته حينها؟ أنا أقول إذا لم تقم دولة فلسطينية حتى نهاية 2008، ستكون هنا حرب، ليس ضد "إسرائيل" أو بين فتح وحماس؛ وإنما ضد السلطة الفلسطينية (سلطة عباس)، سوف يطرد الفلسطينيون السلطة من هنا".

وحذّر الزبيدي من أنه "اليوم تفعل السلطة ما يقول لها (الجنرال) دايتون، ولكن في نهاية العام، حين لن تمنح "إسرائيل" الفلسطينيين دولة، ستُطرَد السلطة، وستكون حرب الجميع ضد الجميع للسيطرة على الضفة"، وفق توقعاته. "

No Checkpoints in Heaven

A Touching Piece

By Ramzy Baroud

Palestine Chronicle

" still vividly remember my father’s face - wrinkled, apprehensive, warm - as he last wished me farewell fourteen years ago. He stood outside the rusty door of my family’s home in a Gaza refugee camp wearing old yellow pyjamas and a seemingly ancient robe. As I hauled my one small suitcase into a taxi that would take me to an Israeli airport an hour away, my father stood still. I wished he would go back inside; it was cold and the soldiers could pop up at any moment. As my car moved on, my father eventually faded into the distance, along with the graveyard, the water tower and the camp. It never occurred to me that I would never see him again.

I think of my father now as he was that day. His tears and his frantic last words: “Do you have your money? Your passport? A jacket? Call me the moment you get there. Are you sure you have your passport? Just check, one last time…”

My father was a man who always defied the notion that one can only be the outcome of his circumstance. Expelled from his village at the age of 10, running barefoot behind his parents, he was instantly transferred from the son of a landowning farmer to a penniless refugee in a blue tent provided by the United Nations in Gaza. Thus, his life of hunger, pain, homelessness, freedom-fighting, love, marriage and loss commenced......

It’s been fourteen years since I last saw my father. As none of his children had access to isolated Gaza, he was left alone to fend for himself. We tried to help as much as we could, but what use is money without access to medicine? In our last talk he said he feared he would die before seeing my children, but I promised that I would find a way. I failed.

Since the siege on Gaza, my father’s life became impossible. His ailments were not ‘serious’ enough for hospitals crowded with limbless youth. During the most recent Israeli onslaught, most hospital spaces were converted to surgery wards, and there was no place for an old man like my dad. All attempts to transfer him to the better equipped West Bank hospitals failed as Israeli authorities repeatedly denied him the required permit.

I am sick, son, I am sick,” my father cried when I spoke to him two days before his death. He died alone on March 18, waiting to be reunited with my brothers in the West Bank. He died a refugee, but a proud man nonetheless.

My father’s struggle began 60 years ago, and it ended a few days ago. Thousands of people descended to his funeral from throughout Gaza, oppressed people that shared his plight, hopes and struggles, accompanying him to the graveyard where he was laid to rest. Even a resilient fighter deserves a moment of peace."

British fear US commander is beating the drum for Iran strikes

British officials gave warning yesterday that America's commander in Iraq will declare that Iran is waging war against the US-backed Baghdad government.

"A strong statement from General David Petraeus about Iran's intervention in Iraq could set the stage for a US attack on Iranian military facilities, according to a Whitehall assessment. In closely watched testimony in Washington next week, Gen Petraeus will state that the Iranian threat has risen as Tehran has supplied and directed attacks by militia fighters against the Iraqi state and its US allies.

The outbreak of Iraq's worst violence in 18 months last week with fighting in Basra and the daily bombardment of the Green Zone diplomatic enclave, demonstrated that although the Sunni Muslim insurgency is dramatically diminished, Shia forces remain in a strong position to destabilise the country.

"Petraeus is going to go very hard on Iran as the source of attacks on the American effort in Iraq," a British official said. "Iran is waging a war in Iraq. The idea that America can't fight a war on two fronts is wrong, there can be airstrikes and other moves," he said.

"Petraeus has put emphasis on America having to fight the battle on behalf of Iraq. In his report he can frame it in terms of our soldiers killed and diplomats dead in attacks on the Green Zone."......."

Palestinian American National Conference

Palestinian American National Conference

COMMENT: I am neither sponsoring nor endorsing this conference or any of the speakers. I have posted this in the interest of information only.

"The convening of a Palestinian American National conference that is inclusive of every Palestinian living in America is long overdue.

We are coming together as American Palestinians to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Al-Nakba (forced eviction of our people from our ancient homeland).

The American Palestinian people are an important and integral part of American Society and as such should be empowered to become an effective force in US policy towards a free Palestine. Therefore, as responsible American citizens we have a duty and a right to convince our government that “there will be no peace in the Middle East without the Palestinian Right of return”.

On May 23rd, 24th, and 25th of 2008, we are planning this conference to be held in Chicago at the Crowne Plaza Hotel with recognized International and American speakers, panel discussions and a full range of activities. This conference will be held to appeal to a wide audience to help rescue our people from the slums of the refugee camps and the brutality of the Israeli Military Occupation"

Rabbi Eliyahu: Life of one yeshiva boy worth more than 1,000 Arabs

"Some 1,000 people attended a memorial service at the Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary Thursday, marking the one-month anniversary of the murderous attack which claimed the lives of eight young men.

Also attending the service were many prominent rabbis of the Religious Zionist Movement, who were not shy about expressing their rage against the government's policy.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, head of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, chose to explain the attack by saying that "the Torah and the land of Israel are acquired only through agony."

Former Sephardi chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu called on the government to decree that for every life lost in the attack another yeshiva and township will be formed.

"Even when we seek revenge, it is important to make one thing clear – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.

"The Talmud states that if gentiles rob Israel of silver they will pay it back in gold, and all that is taken will be paid back in folds, but in cases like these there is nothing to pay back, since as I said – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs," added Rabbi Eliyahu......"

Egypt criminalises protests in places of worship

"CAIRO • Egypt’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday that criminalises holding protests in places of worship, a move opponents said was a bid to place further limits on free expression.

The law mandates jail sentences of up to one year and fines as punishment for anyone found guilty of inciting, participating or organising such a protest.

Speaker of parliament Fathi Surour said the law was passed by a majority of the ruling National Democratic Party-dominated parliament. He said 59 lawmakers had submitted a bill protesting the draft, citing it was a violation of the constitution in that it “restrains liberties and the freedom of expression”.

Members of parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s most powerful opposition group and which controls a fifth of the seats in parliament, opposed the law.

The government has touted the law as a bid to protect the sanctity of places of worship. In practice such places, especially mosques, are among the only venues protestors can assemble without incurring swift, sometimes violent police intervention, as protests are illegal without government approval. Such approval is granted only on very rare occasions and usually only to government-backed or -sponsored demonstrations.......

A member of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc, Mohamed el-Beltagui said the law was part of a raft of laws “to jail political opponents, gag mouths and constrain liberties.” ....."

Petraeus' Grand Delusions

By Tom Engelhardt

"Yes, their defensive zone is the planet and they patrol it regularly. As ever, their planes and drones have been in the skies these last weeks. They struck a village in Somalia, tribal areas in Pakistan, rural areas in Afghanistan, and urban neighborhoods in Iraq. Their troops are training and advising the Iraqi army and police as well as the new Afghan army, while their Special Operations forces are planning to train Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps in that country's wild, mountainous borderlands.

Their Vice President arrived in Baghdad not long before the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched its recent (failed) offensive against cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia in the southern oil city of Basra. To "discuss" their needs in their President's eternal War on Terror, two of their top diplomats, a deputy secretary of state and an assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, arrived in Pakistan – to the helpless outrage of the local press – on the very day newly elected Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was being given the oath of office. ("I don't think it is a good idea for them to be here on this particular day, right here in Islamabad, meeting with senior politicians in the new government, trying to dictate terms..." was the way Zaffar Abbas, editor of the newspaper Dawn, put it.)......

Whatever General Petraeus says before Congress next week, however sane and pragmatic he sounds, however impressive looking his charts and graphs, it's worth keeping in mind that his testimony cannot help but be delusional, because it stems from delusional premises and it can lead only to further disaster for Americans and Iraqis.

Yes, of course, American planes and drones will continue to cruise the skies of the globe "taking out" enemies (or missing them and taking out citizens elsewhere whom we could care less about); American diplomats and high military officials will continue to travel the planet in packs, indicating, however politely, what politicians, military men, and diplomats elsewhere "must" do; and American military men will continue to train the Iraqi army in the hopes that, in 2018 if not sooner, it will stand up.

And yet, as long as we mistake ourselves for "the natives," as long as we are convinced that our interests are paramount everywhere, and feel that we must be part of the solution to every problem, our problems – and the world's – will only multiply."

Israel's Tehran connection

Israel, while supposedly observing an ironclad boycott of all things Iranian, is happily buying Iranian oil

By Richard Silverstein
The Guardian

"If you've ever wondered about the definition of hypocrisy you'll find the answer right here.

Last month the Swiss foreign minister visited Iran and, together with President Ahmadinejad, attended the signing of a multi-billion euro contract for Iran to supply Switzerland with large amounts of natural gas over the next 25 years.

The US State Department immediately condemned the deal and said it would be investigating whether it breached the Iran Sanctions Act. Israel complained too, describing the Swiss minister's visit to Tehran as an "act unfriendly to Israel". Various Jewish groups also joined in the protests, including the World Jewish Congress.

This righteous indignation was entirely predictable but more than a little odd nevertheless. On March 30, the Swiss newspaper Sonntag retaliated with the revelation that Israel, supposedly observing an ironclad boycott of all things Iranian, has been buying Iranian oil for years.

The story is in German but Israeli journalist Shraga Elam has provided me with a translation which I'll quote from here.

"Israel imports Iranian oil on a large scale even though contacts with Iran and purchasing of its products are officially boycotted by Israel. Israel gets around the boycott by having the oil delivered via Europe. A reliable Israeli energy newsletter, EnergiaNews, reported this last week [March 18] ...

"EnergiaNews got the information about the Iran trade from sources with ties to the management of Israeli Oil Refineries Ltd ... According to EnergiaNews the Iranian oil is liked in Israel because its quality is better than other crude oils.

"The report by EnergiaNews editor Moshe Shalev states that the Iranian oil reaches various European ports, mainly in Rotterdam. It is bought by Israelis and the necessary European bill of lading and insurance papers are supplied. Then it is transported to Haifa in Israel. The importer is the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline Co (EAPC), which keeps its oil sources secret." .....

It's interesting to note from a discussion (in Hebrew) on the Kedma website that Israel does not formally define Iran as an "enemy nation" and therefore in a strictly legal sense such trade is permissible. Ironically, Iran too has a boycott against Israel in place and is violating its own measures in that regard. Furthermore, the same commenter notes that Israel last week dismissed attempts to engage Syria in a diplomatic process as a failure because Syria refuses to renounce its ties with Iran. Do I hear the word "hypocrisy"?"

In backing the Basra assault, the US has only helped Sadr

The tacit promotion of Shia civil war has left the militias stronger and fuelled scepticism about the much-hyped surge

By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, Friday April 4 2008

"......Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki - who ordered the assault and put his prestige on the line by supervising it in person - has emerged with his authority severely weakened. His army and police took a battering and failed to capture any ground, with several commanders and units going over to the Sadrist militias they were meant to be defeating. And the Bush administration's effort to portray Iraq as a place that is gradually calming down thanks to the "surge" of an extra 30,000 US troops looks far less convincing to an increasingly sceptical US public.......

President Bush described last week's fighting as a "positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law". In reality, it amounted to US support for the promotion of a Shia civil war. There are depressing similarities with US policy in Palestine, where the US is arming and financing Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement against Hamas instead of working for Palestinian unity......

The most likely explanation is that the Americans approved the assault, confidently expecting it would succeed within a few days. The hardline US vice-president, Dick Cheney, was in Baghdad two weeks earlier and may well have urged Maliki to go ahead. They hoped for a triumph to boast about in Congress. Now they must explain a disaster......

That is why last week's assault on Basra was particularly foolish. Instead of using Sadr's original ceasefire constructively to engage him in political dialogue, American officials joined Maliki in trying to break Sadr's movement. The lesson of the past few days must be that this policy is doomed. Sadr is a major player who cannot be marginalised or defeated. He has widespread popular support, not just because of his socially conservative Islamist message, but because of his nationalist credentials. These have been strengthened by last week's failed assault. It should not be repeated."

The Drugs Don't Work

By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Bush loses out in Bucharest

By Marwan Bishara in Bucharest, Romania

"As the Nato conference in Bucharest comes to a close, it is clear George Bush did not get much of what he bargained for.

There was no big bang as Nato postponed its membership action plan for Georgia and the Ukraine and approved an already agreed upon missile system.

Sceptical West Europeans have not turned their back on the Bush administration, but neither did they behave as generously or acquiescently as they have at previous summits.

Bush's adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq have hurt Washington's standing within the alliance, even if it remains its only prospective leader.

The US might get hundreds more troops for Afghanistan, but not a real and effective European commitment for the long term.......

It has become clear that the more Nato expands the less effective it has become.

If Washington is to expect more European help, it will have to accept more European autonomy in defense and decision making.

And even then, the Europeans remain generally reluctant to increase their military budget to four per cent of their GDP as Washington would want them to do in order to share the burden of its adventures."

Israeli aide hit by Gaza gunfire


"An aide to Israel's internal security minister has been shot and wounded by a Palestinian fighter as he and the minister toured an observation point overlooking the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said that one person was moderately injured after shots were fired from Gaza on Friday, but did not identify the victim. Witnesses identified the injured man as Matti Gil, the chief aide to Avi Dichter, the internal security minister. Mazal Baba, a hospital spokeswoman, said he was shot in the groin and was in a stable condition.....

A member of the group told Israel Radio that while Dichter was speaking, a volley of gunfire burst forth for about 30 seconds, wounding Gil. Israeli troops immediately returned fire and army radio reported that tanks and bulldozers entered Gaza after the shooting.

This was the second time in recent weeks that an aide to Dichter has been hurt in a Palestinian attack. In late February, a Dichter bodyguard was lightly wounded in a rocket attack on southern Israel as he prepared for the minister to visit."

Neutral inquiry committee : PA Mukhabarat tortured Majd Barghouthi to death

From Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

"An independent inquiry commission made up of Palestinian parliamentarians not affiliated with either Fatah or Hamas has held the Palestinian Authority (PA), especially its General Intelligence or “Mukhabarat, ” fully responsible for the death of a Palestinian detainee in PA custody in mid February.

Declaring committee findings during a press conference in Ramallah Thursday, 3 April, the committee head, independent lawmaker Hasan Khreishe said “we have reached the conclusion that the Palestinian General Intelligence is fully responsible for the death of Majd al Bargouthi

“The committee holds the General Intelligence Service and its chief ( Tawfiq Tirawi) fully legally and morally responsible for the death of the Palestinian citizen Majd al Barghouthi.”

Khreishe said the committee was demanding that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas punish all those involved, directly or indirectly, in the death of Barghouthi.

We demand that everyone who ordered, participated, or observed or sought to cover up acts of torture be prosecuted according to the law.”

The committee also urged the PA to put an end to all forms of physical and psychological torture against detainees in conformity with Palestinian as well as international laws and norms......

Barghouthi, a 43-year-old imam or prayer-leader, died while under interrogation in the custody of the General Intelligence in Ramallah on 23 February. He had been violently arrested at a local mosque near Ramallah by masked members of the Mukhabrat. Mukhabarat officials denied any wrong doing, claiming that Barghouthi died of natural causes and that he was suffering from a chronic illness in the heart......

The parliamentarian committee report “stressed that clear signs of torture were found all over the victim’s body, including the forehands, thighs, knees, legs, and along his back.”

The report described the forensic report produced by the Mukhabarat as “unconvincing.” “The medical history of Majd al Barghouthi two days prior to his death showed no evidence of any cardiac illness or any other illness” .......

Hamas: PA is a lying entity

Reacting to the findings of the inquiry committee, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said the findings vindicated Hamas’s initial account of the incident and underscored PA lies. “The findings of the committee show that the forensic doctors who issued the concocted report were operating under the influence of the PA security agencies and that they lied knowingly and deliberately and that they breached the trust invested in them.”

Moreover, Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman of Hamas, lashed out at the Ramallah-based regime, calling the PA “a team of liars and cheats and thugs.” “We are speaking of a team that lies to the Palestinian people, a team that employs every conceivable immoral tactic to deceive the people in order to protect their own interests and the interests of the Zionist regime.”

Abu Zuhri said the “murder” of Barghouthi was one incident out of many, adding that there were dozens of political activists now languishing in PA jails and dungeons, whose lives were in real danger.

PA political and security officials have so far refused to comment on the report, saying they will study it first before making any comments on it."

Dahalan's preventive security spied on Hizbullah for Israel

(Click on document to enlarge)

"GAZA, PIC-- Authenticated documents seized from the defunct infamous PA preventive security apparatus under Fatah's man Mohammed Dahalan affirmed that the said apparatus spied on the military preparations of the Lebanese Hizbullah party in favor of Israel.

Furthermore, the documents which were seized from the offices of the said apparatuses that were abolished after Hamas Movement took control of security in Gaza Strip in the middle of June of last year revealed that elements and agents of the said apparatus gathered intelligence information on the military movements of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, and on the volume of weapons the party has before passing such information to the Israeli intelligence departments.

Moreover, the documents revealed that the Dahalan's defunct apparatus informed the Israeli spying agencies on the whereabouts of Hizbullah's weaponry depots and the routes the Lebanese party was using in transporting their weapons in Lebanon.

The seized documents that were signed by the director of the apparatus's "external stations", also alleged that Hizbullah was recruiting and financing a number of military organizations loyal to it inside Lebanon, including groups in the Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon.

One of the seized documents also alleged that Syria had, for the first time ever, supplied the Lebanese Amal Movement with missile and anti-aircraft missiles batteries.

A fourth document of the seized documents claimed that the security department of Hizbullah was preparing a list of suspected names with connection to the Jordanian, Egyptian, and US intelligence departments with the aim to "liquidate" them, adding that the Lebanese internal security department was furnishing Hizbullah with copies of foreign and Arab passports entering into Lebanon to Hizbullah's concerned agencies in order to check the identities of those passports' holders, especially the European passports.

The Israeli external intelligence apparatus, the Mossad, used to supply its agents with forged passports in order to get into certain countries and carryout spying or assassination missions as they did against Hamas's supreme political leader Khaled Mishaal in 1997 in the Jordanian capital Amman. The attempt against Mishaal was botched by one of his bodyguards.

Prior to taking over security control of the Strip, the Hamas Movement had repeatedly warned that the said apparatus was working for foreign agenda and not in the national interests of the Palestinian people."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Once Again, What Hamas Said Turns Out to Be the Truth

Independent PA panel: Hamas man 'tortured to death' in custody

Comment: It has now become a regular occurrence. Hamas presents the facts of an event; the Western media and the official press of the Arab regimes either deny the Hamas version of the event, ignore it, or just claim the opposite to be true.

We had the detailed account of the US conspiring with Jordan and Egypt to topple the democratically elected Hamas, which was published by Vanity Fair. Basically the US was arming and training Palestinian contras under the command of Abbas to mount a coup against Hamas. Hamas has been saying this for over a year, and that Hamas was forced to act and abort this coup as any legitimate government would do. Yet the Western media and the official Arab press kept parroting the puppet Abbas in saying that Hamas is the one who staged a coup and took control of Gaza by force. Up is down and black is white.

This story deals with the torture to death of a Hamas supporter in the West Bank at the hands of Abbas' terror police, in one of his Abu Ghraibs in the West Bank. Initially the PA and official Arab media claimed that the man died a natural death, after only a week in the PA torture center. This despite witness accounts and a video of the victim's body (posted here) showing the evidence of brutal torture.

This independent investigation corroborates what Hamas has been saying. Now, the PA and Abbas can't keep denying and lying. The evidence is clear: the man was brutally tortured to death under the direction of Abbas' head of intelligence services, Tirawi. Not only that, but scores (if not hundreds) of Hamas supporters are being held and tortured in a similar way in Abbas' jails, only for their political views. This is the police state without a state, known as the PA, which is supported by the US and the EU.

Being honest and truthful with the people has been one of Hamas' traits. This is only one of the reasons for its increased support among Palestinians, simultaneous with the trashing of Abbas and what he stands for.


"Palestinian lawmakers probing the death in custody of a preacher from the
Islamist Hamas movement said on Thursday he had been "tortured to death" by security men loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.

A self-appointed investigation team comprising six independent lawmakers determined that Majd al-Barghouthi died as a result of torture and said the head of the Fatah-run intelligence services, Tawfiq Tirawi, should be held to account. Another commission which Abbas appointed in late February to investigate the matter has not yet delivered its verdict, although a pathologist working on behalf of Fatah said he had not found signs of torture on Barghouthi's body.
Independent lawmaker Hassan Khreisheh, a member of the investigating commission, said it had observed "torture marks" on the legs, back and arms of the 45-year-old father of nine, who had been detained for a week before his death.
He said witnesses had told the commission that Barghouthi had been tortured in a "mad manner". "We demand that this incident close the chapter of political detention once and for all," Khreisheh told Reuters.

He said the lawmakers had demanded that Abbas punish anyone who participated in, ordered or oversaw the torture of Barghouthi.
In February, Hamas officials accused security agents from Abbas's secular Fatah faction of torturing Barghouthi to death but security officials said he had died of a stroke. ......."

All men are not equal

By Linda S. Heard

"Here's a scenario. A Russian cargo ship fires at an approaching small boat flying the Union Jack in the British Channel with the result one man dies and others are injured. The captain of the cargo ship initially denies the fatal incident and is allowed to sail on unencumbered towards his scheduled destination. No one is arrested; no one is questioned; no one is held accountable. An unlikely story you might think. What cargo ship crew would have the audacity to shoot at unarmed boatmen in their own waters and continue merrily on their way without fear of repercussions? Answer: an American one......."

A Teachable Moment in Basra

By Tony Karon

"It should come as no surprise that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s disastrous offensive against the Mahdi Army of Moqtada Sadr in Basra has had the exact opposite effect of that intended — strengthening rather than weakening Sadr, and making clear that he, and the Iranians, have far greater influence of Iraq’s future than does the Iraqi government or the U.S. That’s because Maliki’s shared the fate of pretty much every similar initiative by the Bush Administration and its allies and proxies since the onset of the “war on terror.”

The pattern is all too common: The U.S. or an ally or proxy launches a military offensive against a politically popular “enemy” group; Bush and his minions welcome the violence as “clarifying” matters, demonstrating “resolve”, or, in the most grotesque rhetorical flourish of all, the “birth pangs” of a brave new world. Each time, the “enemy” proves far more resilient than expected, largely because Bush and his allies have failed to recognize that each adversary’s power should be measured in political support rather than firepower; and the net effect of the offensive invariably leaves the enemy strengthened and the U.S. and its allies even weaker than before they launched the offensive......."

Israeli settlement drive in WB the highest in a decade

"OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli construction plan of new settlements units in the occupied West Bank has registered a new boost not witnessed in the past decade, according to the Hebrew press.

'Yediot Ahronot' newspaper said on Wednesday that the Israeli occupation government was planning the construction of 1,908 settlement units in the West Bank in 2008, and added that all the units would be built in the major settlement blocs, which Tel Aviv said it would retain in any final peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The units would be built in the settlement blocs near to Bethlehem, Ramallah, Al-Khalil and Salfit cities.

Hebrew statistics revealed that the number of new settlements units was not witnessed since the early nineties of the past century.

The occupation government in 2007 built only 45 new settlement units in the West Bank."

Manufacturing the Next Palestinian "President," Nelson Barghouti

Peretz to Begin 'Free Barghouti' Drive

"03/04/2008 Former Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz will begin a campaign after Pessah, which celebrates freedom, to bring about the release of Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti was convicted of murder and sentenced to five life sentences in prison for killing Israelis during the second Intifada. But he is also a rising star in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah and his likely successor.

In a speech for Labor activists loyal to him, Peretz said that after the holiday, he would visit “the families of those killed by Barghouti” and ask them to publicly press for Barghouti's release.

"I will tell them there is a leader respected by the Palestinian people and we need him out of jail, so he could run the PA together with Abu Mazen," Peretz said. "With all the pain I feel for the blood that [they] shed, we need this move to prevent further bloodshed."

Peretz also called for talks with Hamas," because we need to make peace with all the Palestinians and not just some of them."

The event was intended to allow Peretz to flex his muscles amid his ongoing rivalry with his successor, Ehud Barak. Hundreds of supporters packed the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv's Hatikva quarter.

Peretz used the event to call for reconciliation with Barak, while at the same time warning him that he and other Labor officials could bypass him to make the key decisions needed for the party's future."

Who Is Committed to the Security and Defense of the Palestinians?

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Palestine Chronicle

"......The present conditions of the Palestinians are rooted in the post-Oslo agreements that left Israel in control of their lives. The agreements have already prejudiced the likely outcome because they did not treat Israel as an occupier and left the core of the issues to be considered at the final stage. Three reasons weaken the Palestinians as negotiators to day. Arab nations are too weak or unwilling to extract concessions from Israel. The Palestinians enter the final negotiations as two tribes at odds with each other rather than one people, and the negotiating tribe is beholden to Israel. And the third reason is the negotiators are the same people who proved their incompetence when they negotiated the Oslo agreements.

A new strategy is necessary to improve the chances of any semblance of success. The Palestinians have to reconcile their differences and act as one people, and Arab nations must stop the rhetoric and get serious about their support to the Palestinians. And a new negotiating team stocked with experts and facts should be assembled to deal with the complexities of negotiating with the Israelis who have been preparing to absorb most of the occupied land into Israel since 1967 and may be before. .

The Palestinians and the Arabs may think about the realist theorist Kenneth Waltz statement that “those who do not help themselves, or who do so less effectively than others, will fail to prosper, will lay themselves open to dangers, will suffer”."

Silver Platter

By Mike Luckovich

Beirut to Bosnia: Muslims and the West

Highly recommended Robert Fisk documentary

A Personal Journey by Robert Fisk of The Independent
Produced by Robert Fisk & the Discovery Channel

"Why have so many Muslims come to hate the West? In this controversial three-part series filmed in Lebanon, Gaza, Israel, Egypt, and Bosnia, Robert Fisk—award-winning Middle East and Balkans correspondent for the London Independent—reports on Muslim unrest as ideology, religion, history, and geography come into conflict.

Robert Fisk travels to Lebanon to investigate why have so many Muslims came to hate the West? In doing so he introduces us to a perspective of history we rarely see."

Episode 1: The Martyr's Smile

Episode 2: The Road to Palestine

Episode 3: To The Ends of the Earth

Pressure mounts on companies involved with illegal tramway

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 3 April 2008

"Recently the French engineering and consulting company Egis Rail joined European companies Veolia Transport and Alstom in their tramway project being built on Palestinian land in Jerusalem. Alstom won the construction bid in 2000 and two years later Veolia Transport obtained the operating rights. The tramway will connect the ring of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank with Jerusalem, for which Palestinian land is being confiscated, on top of other violations of international law.......

It is clear that the pressure on Veolia to withdraw from the tramway in East Jerusalem is building up. The effect will not be lost on the management of Veolia. The image that it meets the needs of people and sustainable development is at the heart of the company. The tramway in East Jerusalem is a hindrance to the basic need of the indigenous Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination. A key value of Veolia is supposed to be responsibility. Veolia states on its website, "We are aware of the impact our everyday actions have in improving the living conditions of people worldwide. We never forget how our business affects our employees and society as a whole and base our actions on our understanding of the general public interest." Being Israel's partner in crime, however, reveals a completely different image of Veolia."

This 'bombshell' took a year falling

A Good Article
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, The Electronic Intifada, 2 April 2008

"CAIRO, 2 April (IPS) - A recent article in Vanity Fair magazine "exposing" a US-planned coup attempt against Palestinian resistance movement Hamas last year has ignited a storm of debate about Washington's Middle East policies. Yet for more than nine months, details of the plot were reported in the independent Arabic press -- and elsewhere -- leading some observers to ask: where was the mainstream media?

"From the very beginning, Hamas has publicly insisted that what happened in Gaza last year came in reaction to plans being hatched against it," Tarek Abd al-Gaber, former news correspondent for Egyptian state television covering Israel and the Palestinian territories, told IPS.

Hamas has been widely blamed in much of the mainstream media for carrying out a "violent coup" against the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Gaza Strip last summer. After six days of heavy fighting, Hamas wrested control of the territory from the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the US-backed Fatah movement, in mid-June.......

Most western capitals, led by Washington, quickly condemned the takeover, placing blame for the dangerous turn of events squarely on Hamas. The refrain was taken up by much of the western media, which consistently portrayed the dispute as one between "extremist" Hamas in the Gaza Strip and "moderate" Fatah in the West Bank.

Many Arab capitals, too, denounced Hamas's seizure of the volatile territory. The day after the upset, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was quoted in the state press as describing what happened as "the overthrow of Palestinian legitimacy."......

Yet in its April issue, the US leisure magazine Vanity Fair makes a startling claim: that Hamas's takeover of the territory was prompted by a secret US plan aimed at extirpating the Islamist group's leadership in Gaza.

In an article entitled "The Gaza Bombshell," the magazine purports to "lay bare a covert initiative" approved by the White House and implemented by the US State Department "to provoke a Palestinian civil war."

Relying on confidential documents and former administration officials, author David Rose writes that after Hamas's unexpected victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, the US administration drew up a plan to arm Fatah cadres with the aim of forcefully removing Hamas from power in Gaza. Under the terms of the arrangement, Rose writes, Fatah received arms and financing through a handful of Washington's Arab allies, including Egypt and Jordan........

Instead of driving the Islamist group from power, Vanity Fair writes, "US-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza."

White House and State Department officials have strenuously denied the article's claims. Nevertheless, the Gaza "bombshell" has received wide coverage in the western news media, with several commentators comparing the magazine's "revelations" to the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, which also involved the covert -- and illegal -- supply of arms to the Middle East.

Yet according to many local observers, the existence of the so-called "Dayton Plan" has been fairly well known since the upset in Gaza more than nine months ago.

"Hamas has consistently and publicly stated that what happened in June came in reaction to the Dayton Plan, which aimed at the group's destruction," said Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of independent daily al-Dustour, which published Hamas's allegations last summer.......

Abd al-Gaber agreed that Egyptian state media wholly neglected to convey Hamas's point of view regarding the reasons for the Gaza seizure.

"The official press took the US line and simply blamed Hamas for everything," he said. "The White House insisted on calling Hamas's actions a 'coup' regardless of the circumstances, and official media -- in the west and in the Arab world -- repeated this mantra.".......

According to Eissa, Egypt's official press has yet to mention the contentious Vanity Fair report.

"Even now, the state press hasn't reported on the Vanity Fair story," he said, noting that al-Dustour, by contrast, had published translated selections from the article in the first week of March.

Eissa added: "Like much of the western media, the official Arab press would rather ignore Hamas than publish stories that might serve to justify the resistance group's actions.""