Saturday, April 19, 2008

The March to War: Israel Prepares for War against Lebanon and Syria

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, April 19, 2008

"......It is now 2008 and the spectre of war has remerged in the Middle East. Syrian President Basher Al-Assad revealed that his country is uneasy and prepared for the worst once again. Despite Tehran’s position that the U.S. would not dare launch a war against Iran, the Iranian military is on standby. The Lebanese military and Hezbollah have also been placed on alert.

“While war is not a preferable option, if Israel declares war on Syria and Lebanon or if America declares war on Iran, Syria would be prepared,” the Syrian President told a gathering of Arab intellectuals according to Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper, on April 16, 2008. [5] “We should analyze the situation from the perspective of American interests, because the last war in Lebanon has shown that at some point Israel wanted to stop the fighting, but was forced by the [Bush Jr. Administration] to pursue it further,” Basher Al-Assad continued. [6] Thus the threat of war lives on in the Middle East in 2008......

“Miscalculations” in the Levant: Setting the Stage for War?....

Tel Aviv’s Orwellian talk of Peace......

De-linking Syria from Iran: Israel’s Real Condition for Peace with Syria......

Neutralizing Syria: Prerequisite for Neutralizing Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran......

Operation Orchard: Fabricating a Syria-Iran-North Korea Nuclear Axis.......

The Assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus: Antecedent to War?......

Creating Pretexts for War in Lebanon......

The Mediterranean Front

Al-Jazeera Video: Hamas suicide attack in Gaza - 19 April 08

"The military wing of Hamas has launched a rare suicide attack on Gaza's border with Israel.

It came as a controversial meeting between Hamas officials and Jimmy Carter, the former US president, was concluding in Syria.

At least 13 Israeli soldiers were wounded, and three Palestinian fighters were reported to be killed.

Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Gaza. "

In the Morgue: The "Arab Street;" The "Peace Process;" and, of Course, The Palestinians

By Emad Hajjaj

Must read

From Missing Links

".....Here are a couple of paragraphs from that:

The tactics that Washington is pursuing in Iraq appear to be exacerbating several long-term trends that risk destabilizing Iraq even further and may well also undermine U.S. influence.

Washington’s militant intervention into intra-Shi’ite factional politics is pouring gasoline on that dispute, fomenting civil war between the two most powerful Shi’ite militias in Iraq by encouraging (or ordering?) Maliki to suppress Moqtada’s Mahdi Army. Washington is simultaneously laying the groundwork for a civil war between Iraqi Shi’a and Sunni by funding the organization of numerous local Sunni military units (e.g., the Awakening groups), which could evolve rapidly into a Sunni militia that would challenge the Shi’a since these units are gaining power without a commensurate move toward satisfaction of Sunni grievances. Washington is also fighting Iran’s war in Iraq by intervening in Shi’ite factional disputes on the side of the pro-Iranian Badr faction that constitutes Maliki’s main support. And finally, since Moqtada represents the poor urban Shi’ite underclass beyond the reach of government services, Washington is making war on the poor, a bad foundation indeed for building democracy.

A policy of marginalizing the poor by emphasizing the use of force to suppress their representatives, not to mention collective punishment against the poor themselves through both neglecting to provide services and turning Sadr City into a blockaded ghetto, sets up society for a long period of conflict. (For parallels, check out the impact of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which provoked the formation of Hezbollah; the half century-long civil war against the rural poor in Colombia; and of course the endless sad saga

Who Owns Passover?

By Tony Karon

"Passover is a time of asking questions, and I have a few. This year, though, the furor that surrounded Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and his sermons that dared to suggest that this Christian nation may actually be earning God’s wrath and damnation for some of its behavior, reminded me of an issue I’d first encountered in South Africa: The idea that the Passover/Exodus narrative of the Hebrews’ flight from Pharaoh and slavery doesn’t belong exclusively to any tribe, but is a universal tale of freedom into which suffering people everywhere are able to insert themselves. And also that even if your forebears were victims of injustice, you’re quite capable of being a perpetrator of injustice.

It was easy to see how little our Jewish genetic lineage did to make us really Jewish in the South Africa of my youth, where every Passover, we sat around seder tables singing, in a barely understood Hebrew, of the days when we were slaves, while the black women who lived in our backyards under domestic labor system not that far removed from slavery, carried in steaming tureens of matzoh ball soup and tzimmes. We may have convinced ourselves that our DNA entitled us to claim this story as our own, but it was abundantly clear that in the South African context, most Jews had thrown in their lot with Pharoah, while the Israelites were working in their kitchens.

The mantle of justice associated with the Toarah prophets, it seemed to me later, was nobody’s birthright; it had to be earned....."

Thieves in uniform

By Gideon Levy

".....When Mohammed thought the soldiers had left, he opened the door and went outside. Together with his wife they rushed to their house, which is right next to Rami's, where they had been held. The household items were scattered on the floor. The television and the computer were shattered, as were several kitchen items and vases. Lubna hurried to the box with her gold jewelry, where she keeps the gifts she received from Mohammed for their marriage, four years ago. There is such a box in every Palestinian home. The box was thrown on the floor. Lubna's cheap jewelry was scattered, but the gold jewelry had disappeared. Necklaces and bracelets that had been saved from the wedding - their most important assets - were not found. The family searched and searched and didn't find them.....

The barber from Wadi al-Shajneh is not alone. In the offices of B'Tselem, about a dozen different accounts have accumulated in recent months, by Palestinians who complained about the theft of gold or cash from their homes in the course of searches conducted by IDF soldiers and in one case, a Shin Bet security service investigator. Ronen Shimoni, data coordination director of B'Tselem, sent several of the accounts to Haaretz: Members of the Zarkat family from Kafr Tapuah; members of the Rehal family from Silat al-Dahr; members of the Antar family from Barqin; Dendis from Halhoul; Demieri from Hawara; Adaili from Beita; Asus from Jenin; and members of the Ziadat family from Bene Naim. They and others complained about the disappearance of jewelry and cash. In some cases a Military Police or police investigation was begun.

Here, for example, is the testimony of Sayel Ziadat, a resident of Bene Naim, which is also in the South Hebron Hills, about what happened in his home on March 5, two weeks before the search in the Abu Arkub home, and the description is strikingly similar......"

Real News Video: Carter meets with Assad, Mashaal in Damascus

"Israeli deputy PM asked former US president to arrange a meeting with Hamas about prisoner exchange

Saturday April 19th, 2008

Despite condemning former US president Jimmy Carter's meetings with Hamas officials this week, a high-ranking member of Israel's government asked Carter to arrange a meeting with Hamas to discuss a prisoner exchange. Both the US and Israeli governments have officially distanced themselves from Carter's visit."

A New Struggle is Beginning in Iraq

Shia Schism


"The old war was primarily between the Sunni community -- which contested the American occupation -- and an Iraqi government dominated by the Shia in alliance with the Kurds. That conflict has not ended. But the most important battles likely to be waged in Iraq this year will be within the Shia community. They pit the US-backed Iraqi government against the supporters of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who represents the impoverished Shia masses of Iraq. ‘The Shia are the majority in Iraq and the Sadrists are a majority of this majority,’ a former Shia minister told me. ‘They make up 30 to 40 per cent of the total Iraqi population.’ The population of Iraq is 27 million: on this ex-minister’s calculation, up to ten million of them support Muqtada......"

EGYPT: Election Brings Victory Without Votes

Analysis by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Apr 18 (IPS) - The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of long-time president Hosni Mubarak swept Egypt's nationwide municipal council elections last week. But while NDP officials lauded the contest as "fair and transparent", opposition groups say their candidates never stood a chance.

"What happened can't even be called an 'election' since most opposition candidates weren't even allowed to run," Essam al-Arian, prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement -- which boycotted the contest -- told IPS.

On Apr. 8, elections were held countrywide for 52,000 municipal council seats in some 4,500 towns and cities throughout Egypt. While government spokesmen claimed a high turnout, most independent observers estimate that fewer than 3 percent of the country's registered voters cast their vote......"

Can the U.S. and Iran Share the Middle East?

Analysis by Trita Parsi

"WASHINGTON, Apr 18 (IPS) - By negotiating a Shiite truce, Tehran embarrassed Washington last week and arguably proved itself to be a more potent stabiliser of southern Iraq.

Iran's role in Iraq came as a sharp reminder that the George W. Bush administration's accusations of Iranian mischief notwithstanding, Iranian influence in Iraq is both undeniable and multifaceted. As Washington starts to come to terms with this reality, the Middle East inches closer to its moment of truth: Is the United States ready to share the region with Iran?.......

Though both of these components may be necessary to put U.S.-Iran relations on a different footing, they are likely not sufficient. The notion that the U.S.-Iran standoff can be resolved solely through economic incentives and limited security guarantees is premised on the realities of yesteryear's Middle East. Current facts on the ground are quite different -- Iran's regional influence is unquestionable and rolling Iran back out of Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps even Gaza may no longer be realistic.

The question is no longer -- if it ever was -- what economic incentives are required to change Iranian behaviour. Rather, to reach a settlement with Iran that could help stabilise Iraq, prevent a Taliban resurrection in Afghanistan, reach a political deal in Lebanon and create a better climate to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. must arguably grant Iran a role in the region and begin focusing on how to influence Iranian behaviour rather than how to roll back Iranian influence.

Neither Washington nor Tehran can wish the other away. While the United States' days in Iraq may be numbered, it is not likely to leave the entire Middle East anytime soon. Nor can Washington continue to design policies and arrangements in the region based on the notion that Iran can be neglected and excluded. Sooner or later, Iran and the U.S. must learn how to share the region [and the Arabs, by their own subservience and stupidity, will be mere spectators and on the receiving end]........"

The US Palestine-Israel Fairytale

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"A memorable quote in Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894) still carries a wealth of relevance. He writes, "They own the [holy] land, just the mere land, and that's all they do own; but it was our folks, our Jews and Christians, that made it holy, and so they haven't any business to be there defiling it. It's a shame and we ought not to stand it a minute. We ought to march against them and take it away from them."

Recently an influential pastor, John Hagee of the Dallas's Cornerstone mega-church, followed his endorsement of Republican presidential candidate John McCain with some telling remarks. "What Senator McCain, I feel, needs to do to bring evangelicals into his camp is to make it very clear that he is a strong defender of Israel and that he has a strong 24 years of being pro-life. And I think on those two issues they will get on common ground and have a common understanding."

Such are the views of a man who has ever- growing influence among an ever-swelling culture in the US -- the evangelical Christian bloc. No mention was made of the well being of Palestinians, even Christian Palestinians, many of who are descendants of the early church......"

Probe Sought of Whether Israel Targeted Media Crew

"NEW YORK - A leading human rights group called on Friday for an independent investigation into the death of a Reuters cameraman and other civilians in Gaza this week, saying Israeli forces may have targeted the media.

Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, a 23-year-old Palestinian, was killed in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday while covering events in the enclave for the international news agency. He had been filming an Israeli tank dug in about 1,000 yards away.

Human Rights Watch’s investigations at the site found evidence suggesting that an Israeli tank crew fired recklessly or deliberately at the journalist’s team,” the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

Local doctors said on Thursday that tiny darts sprayed from a controversial missile used by Israel killed Shana, although Israeli forces would not say whether one of their tanks fired the fatal shot.

The last few seconds of video shot on Shana’s tripod-mounted camera show the tank firing, then a midair explosion consistent with the burst of a missile......."

Painters love martyrs and prophets

Saint Sebastian's death – arrows puncturing skin – is straight out of Shia martyrology

By Robert Fisk

"....Indeed, it was only when I began to examine the provenance of Hizbollah "martyr" portraits in Lebanon that I discovered the same principle applied. The top painter of Hizbollah's dead – those young men invariably shot, blown up or bombed to death by Israel – is a man called Shelala......

Yet I had forgotten the degree to which these two men – along with their "schools" and countless other minor artists across Italy – focused their attention on martyrs and anchorites, lonely old hermits who live out their days in grim contemplation of God's goodness and cruelty.

The martyrs are familiar enough. Christ's body and blood are set pieces, the red fountains always pouring from identical wounds, the feet bleeding into little piles of gore where miniature but obsessive monks can be seen staring at the stuff with unbecoming enthusiasm.

The violence of the age marries perfectly into the Shia martyrology of the imams Ali and Hussein, whose blood-boltered features dominate the posters beside the great mosques of Najaf and Kufa and Kerbala. Indeed, St Sebastian's death – all arrows puncturing white skin – is straight out of Shia martyrology.

One altarpiece I came across in Perugia this week showed a remarkably pristine version of the crucifixion, with scarcely a sign of holy wounds, until, at the bottom right-hand corner, I espied the head of St Peter with what looked like a meat cleaver in the top of his skull, from which rained the inevitable blood. His face, eyes squinting in pain, bore the expression of a man who, well, who has just been bashed over the head with a meat cleaver. A violent time, the Renaissance......"

Mission Accomplished! Ethnic Cleansing A Success!

Mario Vargas Llosa: How Arabs have been driven out of Hebron

Contributed by Anonymous

(Translated by Elizabeth Nash. This is an edited extract of an article that appeared in El Pais)

"Hebron is the image of desolation and pain. I'm talking of the H-2 sector, the oldest part of this ancient city, which is under Israeli military control and where some 500 colonos – settlers – live in four settlements. It is one of the holiest places of Judaism and Islam, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where in February 1994, the settler Baruch Goldstein machine-gunned Muslims at prayer, killing 29 and wounding dozens.

To protect these settlers, the zone bristles with barriers, camps and military posts, and is overrun by Israeli patrols. But such mobilisation will soon be unnecessary because this part of Hebron, subject to ethnic and religious cleansing, will soon have no Arab residents.......

No one told me this: I saw it with my own eyes and heard with my own ears from the victims themselves. I have a video of the hair-raising scene of children from Tel Rumeida settlement stoning and kicking Arab schoolchildren and their teachers who, to protect themselves, returned home in groups instead of individually.

Our reign of terror, by the Israeli army

In shocking testimonies that reveal abductions, beatings and torture, Israeli soldiers confess the horror they have visited on Hebron

Contributed by Anonymous

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
The Independent

".....The birds are singing as he describes in detail some of what he did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron. And they are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten "to a pulp" when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed. And worse......

......The older ex-soldier is Yehuda Shaul, who does indeed "know how it is in Hebron", having served in the city in a combat unit at the peak of the intifada, and is a founder of Shovrim Shtika, or Breaking the Silence, which will publish tomorrow the disturbing testimonies of 39 Israelis – including this young man – who served in the army in Hebron between 2005 and 2007. They cover a range of experiences, from anger and powerlessness in the face of often violent abuse of Arabs by hardline Jewish settlers, through petty harassment by soldiers, to soldiers beating up Palestinian residents without provocation, looting homes and shops, and opening fire on unarmed demonstrators......

As one said: "We did all kinds of experiments to see who could do the best split in Abu Snena. We would put [Palestinians] against the wall, make like we were checking them, and ask them to spread their legs. Spread, spread, spread, it was a game to see who could do it best. Or we would check who can hold his breath for longest.

"Choke them. One guy would come, make like he was checking them, and suddenly start yelling like they said something and choke them ... Block their airways; you have to press the adams apple. It's not pleasant. Look at the watch as you're doing it, until he passes out. The one who takes longest to faint wins."

And theft as well as violence. "There's this car accessory shop there. Every time, soldiers would take a tape-disc player, other stuff. This guy, if you go ask him, will tell you plenty of things that soldiers did to him.

"A whole scroll-full ... They would raid his shop regularly. 'Listen, if you tell on us, we'll confiscate your whole store, we'll break everything.' You know, he was afraid to tell. He was already making deals, 'Listen guys, you're damaging me financially.' I personally never took a thing, but I'm telling you, people used to take speakers from him, whole sound systems......

In its introduction to the testimonies, Breaking the Silence says: "The soldiers' determination to fulfil their mission yields tragic results: the proper-normative becomes despicable, the inconceivable becomes routine ... [The] testimonies are to illustrate the manner in which they are swept into the brutal reality reigning on the ground, a reality whereby the lives of many thousands of Palestinian families are at the questionable mercy of youths. Hebron turns a focused, flagrant lens at the reality to which Israel's young representatives are constantly sent."....."

Saving the US from Israel

While not the thinking person's only concern, Israel's continued hegemony over US foreign policy formulation is the greatest threat to world peace

Contributed by Fatima

By Hassan Nafaa
Al-Ahram Weekly

".......It is impossible for anyone now to mistake America's international bearing. The beast has shed all remnants of sheep's clothing and run rampant, and the ravages in Iraq and Palestine, in particular, testify to a mode of ferocity next to which even the brutal ages of colonialism pale. A power that devastates a country with an ancient civilisation, such as Iraq, causing the death of more than a million of its people and the displacement of a quarter of its population; that permits a blockade intended to starve a defenceless people into submission; that commits horrifically brutal human rights violations in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the CIA's secret prisons around the world, can not by any stretch of the imagination be called democratic or civilised.......

.....Surely the only possible explanation is that there is something wrong with American society and that the George W Bush phenomenon is not a passing anomaly but rather a reflection of a deep and powerful current of opinion and interests in that society......

It would not surprise me if this scenario, which appears to mirror a deep and disturbing facet of US society, comes to pass. But why has this voracious power drive singled out the Middle East and the Arab and Muslim peoples, in particular, for its most brutal forms of aggression?

The Israel or Zionist factor is surely one of the most obvious keys, and it would be naïve to disregard it. Although I am not among those inclined to attribute US policy orientation in the Middle East to the Zionist lobby alone, there is no denying its influence......."

Love and resistance

Serene Assir attended Marcel Khalifa's concert in Cairo
Al-Ahram Weekly

"By his own admission in Cairo on Tuesday night, composer, oud player and singer Marcel Khalifa's timing is perfect. His concert, after all, was being performed as Egypt witnessed multi-faceted acts of protest and against the backdrop of mass detentions of Muslim Brotherhood members as well as of supporters of the planned general strike of 6 April.

Beyond Egypt's borders, with nearly a quarter of the population displaced, the people of Iraq continue their five- year-old resistance to the US-led occupation of their country while the Palestinian residents of Gaza, against all odds, remain resilient against the impermeable Israeli siege in force since June 2007.

Khalifa is fully aware of the way his music feeds into core Arab causes. At his press conference in Cairo he spoke out on both Mahala and Gaza and during the performance itself told his eager audience that, "it seems appropriate we should be meeting on 15 April," a month before the 60th commemoration of the Nakba.

Among the various political currents Khalifa unites with his warmth and commitment to the Arab cause is that of the left. Hussein Abdel-Razeq, founding editor-in-chief of Tagammu's mouthpiece Al-Ahali, is in no doubt as to the symbolism of Khalifa performing in Cairo on the 30th anniversary of the paper's launch. "As the first Egyptian leftist newspaper associated with a registered political party we felt it important to mark the launch," Abdel-Razeq said. "We are especially keen to celebrate since we have seen a surge in left-leaning media over recent years."

Other prominent -- and more radical -- activists also described with emotion their dedication to the spirit of Khalifa's music. "What Marcel's music does for us all is to allow us to continue struggling," veteran leftist activist and director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre in Cairo Ahmed Seif El-Islam told Al-Ahram Weekly. The centre is perhaps best known for its active support of torture victims and Egyptians subject to arbitrary detention.......

The secret of Khalifa's music appears to be that it reflects the secrets of the Arab world itself. It accommodates variety and individual identities and does so in a way that refuses to be tied down by ideology. The composer's music reaches beyond politics, and Khalifa has always refused to sacrifice his dignity as an Arab, one reason he commands so much respect from old and young alike. "Apart from the sheer beauty of his music, we are also united by a common purpose," says Abdel-Razeq.

The performance itself was as his recordings promised and more. Bordering on a spiritual journey, the concert trod a path between the passion of struggle, the pain of loss and the sensuousness of new love......

The settings of love poetry by Palestine's Mahmoud Darwish were transporting -- and political. Emphasising the importance of honouring love, Khalifa addressed the audience playfully while expressing his disillusion with the current state of music in the Arab world. "You wonder why I sing about love?" he asked. "It's the most beautiful thing in the world. Or maybe you've forgotten? We will remind you." "

Cheerleading genocide

Israel is gearing up to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its birth; six decades of destruction for the Palestinians

By Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Last year, Richard Falk, a renowned American Jewish professor of international law and practice, wrote an article entitled "Slouching toward a Palestinian holocaust," in which he warned that Israel was moving towards the perpetration of a holocaust against the Palestinians. "Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalised Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not," said Falk.

Justifying the Israel-equals-Nazi analogy, Falk argued that developments in Gaza (the blockade against its estimated 1.5 million inhabitants), were especially disturbing because they expressed vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its backers to subject an entire human community to life- endangering conditions of maximal cruelty. "The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating into a collective tragedy," Falk wrote.

In sum, from the standpoint of fascism, Israel has much to celebrate in terms of political and military achievements. But in terms of justice, morality and humanity, one struggles to name a country on earth that so openly practices oppression and racism. As such Israel, on its 60th birthday, remains what it was when born six decades ago: a state built on blood, murder, theft and lies.

Is Israel about to change its ways? Don't hold your breath, Israeli leaders might say. Unless, that is, you're Palestinian in Ramallah."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you expect that food crises in the world will lead to wars and regime changes?

With over 1,000 responding so far, 87% said yes.

Carter to meet Hamas, an increasingly formidable challenge for Israel

Contributed by Anonymous

"Tel Aviv - Traditionally known as an underground organization that specialized in suicide bombings and crude homemade rockets, Hamas has refashioned itself into a more formidable military outfit since taking over the Gaza Strip last summer.

Repeated infiltration attempts into Israeli territory, including the Wednesday ambush that killed three Israeli soldiers, increasingly suggest that Hamas is emulating the tactics of Hizbullah – adding a new dimension to the conflict with Israel. The border ambush helped push the casualty toll this year of Israeli soldiers killed inside Gaza to eight, on pace with the annual death rate inflicted by Hizbullah in southern Lebanon in the late 1990s.

"They have a new tactic now," says Michael Oren, a military historian and author of the recent book, "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present."

"Rocket fire was popular with the Palestinian public but frowned upon by the international community, whereas drawing soldiers into Gaza and getting them into ambushes, they get the credit for killing Israel soldiers and they don't get the animus of world.... This is the next challenge for Israel."......

"[Gazans] feel that this is a serious resistance movement, not just the game of boys," says Eyad Sarraj, director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. "People think that Israel will think one hundred times before they dare to come into Gaza.... Everything that happens now, people are reminded of Hizbullah tactics.".......

To be sure, Hamas still has a ways to go before it attains the fighting sophistication and weapons stockpile of Hizbullah.

"In many ways they remind us of Hizbullah, but they're not Hizbullah yet," says Amos Harel, the military correspondent for Ha'aretz who co-authored a book on the Lebanon war. "You shouldn't exaggerate the proportion, but there is a change."

At the same time, the Israel-Hamas standoff in Gaza involves a different geopolitical terrain than Lebanon.

Israeli hawks like Likud lawmaker Yuval Steinitz have called on the government to order an all-out invasion of the Gaza Strip to strike at Hamas before it becomes "Hizbullah II."......"

IOF officer killed, 13 soldiers wounded in Qassam attack

Contributed by Anonymous

"GAZA, (PIC)-- An Israeli officer was killed and 13 others were wounded in a daring attack launched by fighters of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, on the Israeli occupation forces' position in Karm Abu Salem near to the south of the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Hebrew media acknowledged the casualties in the Qassam's attack on the IOF base in Karm Abu Salem crossing east of Rafah, south of the Strip.

They said that army choppers carried the casualties to Soroka hospital, and added that most of the injured soldiers were either slightly or moderately wounded. Israeli hospital sources said that the injuries were a result of blasts, adding that the soldiers sustained penetrating wounds and burns.

For his part, Abu Obaida, the Qassam spokesman, described the raid as "qualitative", and stressed that the Israeli casualties were bigger than announced by the Israelis.

IOF command asked all settlers near to the scene of the attack to remain indoors fearing a possible Palestinian commando infiltration.

Meanwhile, a Hamas operative was killed and another wounded while confronting an invading IOF unit east of Gaza city at dawn Saturday.

The QB said in a communiqué that Ihab Abu Amre, 21, was killed in an Israeli aerial bombing that targeted a group of fighters who spotted the IOF advance and engaged the advancing soldiers.

It said that the fighters fired an RPG and 45 mortar shells at the IOF unit in addition to machinegun fire.

The Hebrew radio also reported that a number of Palestinian locally made resistance missiles were fired at Sderot on Friday night one of which damaged a building and started fire in it but no casualties.

A report for the Palestinian center for human rights said that Israel killed 29 Palestinians in the course of one week including ten children and a cameraman all in the Gaza Strip while 81 others were wounded most of them civilians including 41 children, three women and a journalist.

The same center registered 48 IOF incursions in the West Bank in one week (10/4-16/4/2008) during which breaking into dozens of buildings were recorded along with indiscriminate firing at citizens and their homes.

The weekly report noted that 52 Palestinians were rounded up during those incursions bringing the number of Palestinians kidnapped since the start of 2008 to 927 citizens."

Israel's war on orphans

Contributed by Anonymous

By Khaled Amayreh in Occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron)

"The fate of hundreds of orphans is in the balance after Israel's army attacked their schools and residence. Israel has of late been waging a dirty war against established Islamic institutions in this southern West Bank town of nearly 200,000, the largest in the West Bank, Hebron.

Under the rubric of fighting Hamas, Israeli troops and agents of the Shin Bet, Israel's notorious domestic security agency, have been raiding and vandalising charities, orphanages, boarding schools and affiliated businesses.

The unprecedented campaign began mid-February when Israeli troops stormed two orphanages run by the Islamic Charitable Society (ISC), one of the oldest charities in Palestine, and the local Muslim Youth Association building. Having thoroughly terrorised hundreds of sleeping children, the soldiers moved to one building after the other, confiscating furniture, smashing glass, looting valuable items and leaving a trail of destruction.......

Earlier this week, a representative of the Palestinian Interior Minister summoned an official from the Muslim Youth Association to propose a "deal" whereby Israel would cancel the closure and confiscation in exchange for the ISC administration agreeing to place the entire association under the authority of the PA Waqf (Religious Endowments) Ministry.

The Muslim Youth Association official dismissed the proposed deal as a "cheap conspiracy", arguing that the charitable institutions targeted by Israel were licensed and regularly overseen by the PA's interior and education ministries. One charity official intimated that donors in general don't trust the PA and wouldn't donate money to institutions run by Fatah operatives.

"If they [the PA] take over the ISC, the society will collapse in a few months. This is why we would prefer that the Israelis close it down rather than see Fatah run it."

PA officials in Hebron dismissed "these strange charges" as "fictional". Hussein Al-Araj, Hebron's PA-appointed governor, said the Palestinian government was trying to solve the problem quietly and away from the media."

Between games and propaganda: the removal of checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank

Erected in the morning, removed in the afternoon......

Contributed by Palestine Monitor

"......Misleading propaganda
The Israeli military or the Defence Ministry regularly announce the removal of roadblocks or checkpoints to “make life easier for Palestinians”, or as a “gesture of goodwill towards the Palestinians”. These announcements are always well covered in international media, serving as a perfect propaganda tool for Israel.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has become a specialist in proudly announcing these removals. But careful research on the ground reveals that the Israeli claims are consistently misleading or even downright lies. Each time the same techniques are used: removing checkpoints that had been abandoned years ago or that had been replaced by other checkpoints nearby, erecting new roadblocks and removing them on the same day, removing roadblocks in the middle of open fields or just claiming to have removed certain roadblocks that did not actually exist in the first place.

At Annapolis, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had promised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the number of roadblocks would be reduced. However data from OCHA, B’Tselem and Machsom Watch proves that the numbers have increased, from 563 to 580.

Checkpoints, roadblocks and segregated roads, have all become a grim part of daily life for Palestinians living in the West Bank, where the Israeli occupation has evolved into a fully fledged Apartheid system. Soldiers play their games with impunity while everybody knows who will be the winners and the losers."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Amnesty calls for investigation into killing of cameraman and other civilians

"London, (PIC)-- Amnesty International has called on the Israeli government to immediately order a full and independent investigation into the killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.

At least 18 Palestinians, including children and other unarmed civilians, were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. More than 30 others were injured in attacks by Israeli planes and by ground forces using tanks in the Gaza Strip.

Those killed included Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, who was struck by fire from an Israeli tank. He had travelled to the scene in a car clearly marked "TV-Press". He was killed as he started to film the tank.

"Yesterday’s strikes, which the Israeli army launched after the killing of three soldiers in combat, appear to have been carried out with disregard for civilian life,” said Amnesty International in a press release on Thursaday. "There seems to be a culture of impunity within the Israeli forces which is contributing to routine use of reckless and disproportionate force."

Fadel Shana’s autopsy report and an investigation on the site of Fadel Shana’s death carried out by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem showed that Fadel Shana had been killed by a flechette shell fired from a tank.

In 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition calling for a ban on their use in the Gaza Strip. "Amnesty International believes that flechette shells, which are filled with up to 5,000 five-centimetre-long steel darts or flechettes, each one potentially lethal, should never be used in populated areas."

"Fadel Shana appears to have been killed deliberately although he was a civilian taking no part in attacks on Israel’s forces," said Amnesty International.

"We condemn all attacks on civilians, including that by Islamic Jihad which killed two Israeli civilians at the Nahal Oz fuel terminal on 9 April. The continuing conflict between Israeli and Palestinian forces is having a disproportionate – and totally unacceptable – impact on civilians, in particular Palestinians in the Gaza Strip."

Since the beginning of this year, 312 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Most of them have been in the Gaza Strip. In the same period, 21 Israelis were killed by Palestinian armed groups, according the human rights group. "

لفني في الدوحة...أم دور الُقطريات العربية في إقامة إسرائيل؟

نحو ثورة ثقافية عربية في إعادة التربية والتثقيف

A Very Good Article (Arabic)

By Dr. Adel Samara in Occupied Ramallah

Eight children, journalist among yesterday's Gaza dead

Report, PCHR, 17 April 2008

"In the past 24 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have escalated attacks against the Gaza Strip, while they maintained the tightened siege imposed on Strip. On Wednesday evening, 16 April 2008, and in less than half an hour, IOF killed 13 Palestinian civilians, including a journalist, eight children and two brothers, and wounded 32 others, including 17 children and a woman, in Juhor al-Dik village in the central Gaza Strip. They also razed large areas of agricultural land and demolished a number of houses during an incursion into the village. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights's (PCHR) investigations strongly indicate that IOF used excessive force and willfully targeted journalists in spite of the clear markings on their suits and vehicles......."

Venezuela : Democracy, Socialism and Imperialism

by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, April 17, 2008

"......Socially the Chavez government retains the support of over 65% of the electorate and nearly 50% of the people were in favor of an overtly socialist agenda in the referendum of December 2, 2007. If the communal councils take off, and the militias gain substance and organization and if the PSUV develops mass roots and the popular nationalization accelerates, the government could consolidate its mass support into a formidable organized force to secure a huge majority in a new referendum and to counter the US-backed counter-revolution.

A lot will depend on the government’s deepening and extending its social-economic transformation – increasing new public housing from 40,000 to 100,000 a year; reducing the informal labor sector to single digits and encouraging the trade unions to organize the 80% of the unorganized labor force into class unions with the help of new labor legislation.

Given the availability of mass social support, given the high export earnings, given the positive social changes, which have occurred, the objective basis for the successful organization of a powerful pro-socialist, pro-Chavez movement exists today.

The challenge is the subjective factor: The shortages of well trained cadres, political education linked to local organizing, the elaboration of a socialist political-ideological framework and the elimination of personality-based liberal patronage officials in leading administrative and party offices. Within the mass Chavista base, the struggle for a socialist consciousness is the central challenge in Venezuela today."

Afghanistan moves to center stage

By M K Bhadrakumar
Asia Times

"The United States' monopoly of the Afghan war is coming under serious public challenge. Iran and Turkey have been vocal in their criticism of the way things are going - or not going. At the same time, erstwhile bitter enemies of the Taliban from the former Northern Alliance are now involved in direct talks with "important people" from the Taliban. Simultaneously, the geopolitics of energy are inextricably drawing China, Russia and Iran towards Afghanistan....."

A birthday present for Mubarak

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

"Eighty-year-old President Hosni Mubarak faces trouble as never before in his 26 years at Egypt's helm. For myriad reasons, people are angry, which alarms "Big sister Egypt's" neighbors, and particularly Cairo's ally, the United States. The beleaguered president could well recall the events leading to the demise of the last king of Egypt in 1952......"

Real News Video: Latest Iraq bombing strikes at heart of US efforts

"Pepe Escobar: Al-Qaeda in Iraq plans to target "Awakening Councils" and make deals with Sunni tribes

Friday April 18th, 2008

At least 50 people were killed and 20 injured when a suicide bomber struck the funeral of two brothers who belonged to the Sunni Awakening Council, an organization whose purpose is to turn Sunni fighters against al-Qaeda.

In Brussels, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pleaded with NATO to provide more training and equipment to the Iraqi army, a request that The Real News analyst Pepe Escobar calls an "absolutely ludicrous proposition."

Escobar also reports on a new statement from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which suggests that the group plans to target the Awakening Council that is siphoning away their support."

Hamas: Gaza explosion is imminent if siege not lifted soon

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Hamas Movement has made it clear and sound on Thursday that neither she nor the Palestinian people would accept the crushing Israeli siege on Gaza Strip to continue longer; warning all concerned parties that the zero hour for the popular explosion in Gaza was fast approaching.

In a statement it issued in this regard, Hamas called on the Arab rulers to stop mortgaging themselves [to foreign parties], and to immediately stand up in support of the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza.

"There is no excuse for the Egyptian leadership and the Arab rulers in retaining the Rafah crossing point sealed off", the Movement asserted in the statement, urging Arab and Muslim peoples around the world to go on massive demonstrations against the siege, and in support of the Palestinian people.

The Movement also underlined that the Israeli threats of disabling the Movement, and of targeting its senior political and military leaders don’t shake it, emphasizing that the Israeli occupation government will never succeed in subjugating the Palestinian people to its will despite the pain it inflicts on them.

"The vicious, criminal, and ugly Israeli aggression against our Palestinian people continues with the aim to subdue them and to push them into accepting its dictates to abandon our national constants and to compromise our legal rights", the Movement underscores, highlighting that the latest IOF carnage in Gaza city was part of that Israeli scheme.

More than 20 Palestinians, including children, women, and a journalist among others were murdered in the IOF troops' onslaught on the area on Wednesday.

Finally, the Movement marked that the ongoing IOF atrocities in Gaza Strip were committed in parallel with the wing-clipping Israeli economic sanctions imposed on Gaza Strip since June of last year; vowing "not to allow such condition to continue"."


Why is there no protest when a former US President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate is denied entry to Gaza?

Vice President of the European Parliament

"Rome, 17th April 2008

"While the Israeli Government continues its policy of isolation and collective punishment towards the Palestinian civil population in Gaza, it has also prevented to a former Head of State to visit the Gaza Strip. This unprecedented decision was adopted in the case of Jimmy Carter, former US President and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Carter has always declared himself a sincere supporter of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, based on the creation of two people and two states, and has denounced the policies of Apartheid......

The International Community and the European Union have no more excuses: they must intervene immediately, in a stronger and more effective way, for the immediate opening of all of Gaza's border crossings (according to the obligations of an occupying army under International Law), and for an immediate cease-fire by both sides."

Carter: Gaza residents 'starving to death'

"Former US president defends meetings with Hamas terrorists, tells university students in Egypt sanctions imposed on Gaza Strip are 'criminal atrocity' after meeting in private with Hamas leaders. 'For every Israeli killed,' says Carter, 'between 30 to 40 Palestinians are killed because of the extreme military capability of Israel'......"

Just The Place To Be, And Not To Be

By Mohammed Omer

"GAZA CITY, Apr 18 (IPS) - Fadel Shana just had to go to the scene of the Israeli bombing. As a Reuters cameraman, that was his job. He wasn't the only one killed, but through his pursuit of attacks as they happen, he was always more at risk than most others.

Fadel Shana was killed Wednesday because he was in the firing line, but also because, eyewitnesses said, he had begun to film the tanks that were firing. A barrage of metal shrapnel pierced his body as a tank missile landed close to him.

Fadel Shana, 23, had been injured in August 2006 in the north of the Gaza Strip in an Israeli missile attack. This time he wasn't lucky enough to survive.

After the first missile that killed Fadel, a second tank missile directly hit the Reuters vehicle in which Fadel had been travelling, killing two children and another civilian close by, and injuring 12 others, including five children. Wafa Abu Mezyed, 25, a Reuters sound man, was injured......."

Ah....The Birth Pangs of The New Middle East: From the West Bank and Gaza to Fallujah, Baghdad and Now Sadr City, Within Baghdad, The USraeli Gulags

U.S. Begins Erecting Wall in Sadr City

"BAGHDAD — Trying to stem the infiltration of militia fighters, American forces have begun to build a massive concrete wall that will partition Sadr City, the densely populated Shiite neighborhood in the Iraqi capital.

The construction, which began Tuesday night, is intended to turn the southern quarter of Sadr City near the international Green Zone into a protected enclave, secured by Iraqi and American forces, where the Iraqi government can undertake reconstruction efforts........"

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Carter to meet Hamas - 17 April 08

Part 1

Part 2

Netanyahu says 9/11 was a good thing…for Israel

From Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem

"Likud Leader and former Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has once again described the 9/11 terrorist attacks as “very good for Israel.

We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” the Ma’ariv newspaper reported this week. “These events swung American public opinion in our favor.” Netanyahu made the comments recently during a conference at Bar-Ilan University on the future of Occupied Jerusalem. This is not the first time Netanyahu makes such remarks.

In a televised interview soon after the landmark terrorist attack, Netanyahu remarked that “this is good for Israel,’ But prevaricated when asked by the interviewer how he could describe a horrible act as being good. Netanyahu apparently didn’t think that his remarks would undermine Israel’s image in the US due to Israel’s overwhelming influence over US politics and media.

In 2001, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was rumored to have said that “the Jewish people control America and the Americans knew it.” "I want to tell you something very clear," Sharon reportedly told his foreign Minister Shimon Peres in October, 2001 "don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it."

Netanyahu is accustomed to using Nazi epithets to describe the Palestinians and Iran while he himself often makes manifestly racist and Nazi-like remarks advocating ethnic cleansing of non-Jews. In 1989, Netanyahu told students, also at Bar Ilan University, that “Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations at the Tiananmen Square in China where world attention was focused on that country to carry out mass expulsion among the Arabs of the territories.”

There have been wide speculations that Israel played a certain part in the 9/11 events, given the fact that the Jewish state has been the main beneficiary of the terrorist attacks........

Other reports suggested the far-right Israeli politician Eifi Eitam may have been the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks."

Palestinian prisoners: No more than bargaining chips for Israel

Contributed by Palestinemonitor

"Women and children carrying pictures of their loved ones imprisoned in Israeli jails filled the streets of Palestinian towns and cities today as they marked Palestinian Prisoners Day. The question of prisoners is a burning issue that touches the hearts and lives of all Palestinian families, who have at least one member that has been arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli military.

Since the beginning of its occupation of Palestine in 1967, Israel has detained more than 700,000 Palestinians. This is over 24% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, making Palestinians one of the populations most subjected to incarceration in the world.

The launching of the Annapolis peace process in November 2007 represented a small glimmer of hope for prisoners and their families that their situation may start to improve. Yet since Israel declared its ’good intentions’ at the Annapolis meeting, a further 2,437 Palestinians have been arrested – three times more than the number released in the same time period.......

There are now 327 Palestinian children in Israeli jails. The number of children arrested in 2007 and in the first three months of 2008 has brought the total number of Palestinian children arrested by the Israeli military since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000 to over 6,000........

For the Israeli government, releasing prisoners is a win-win decision, making them look committed to peace whilst never addressing the core issues of the conflict.

But just like the farce of removing non-existent checkpoints, these empty gestures mislead world public opinion because of the dominant Israeli narrative which overplays any Israeli act while never confronting it with reality.

It is time to put a stop to this sham, and to deal with the question of Palestinian prisoners from the perspective of human rights and international law, with an aim to bring about a just and lasting peace for all, not cheap political haggling and short-lived media stunts."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Full Investigation Needed into Israeli Army Killings

By Amnesty International

"The Israeli government should immediately order a full and independent investigation into yesterday’s killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, Amnesty International said today.

Yesterday’s strikes, which the Israeli army launched after the killing of its soldiers in combat, appear to have been carried out with disregard for civilian life,” said Amnesty International. “There seems to be a culture of impunity within the Israeli forces which is contributing to routine use of reckless and disproportionate force.”

At least 18 Palestinians, including children and other unarmed civilians, were killed. More than 30 others were injured in attacks by Israeli planes and by ground forces using tanks in the Gaza Strip yesterday. Three Israeli soldiers were killed in confrontation with Palestinian militants during an Israeli army attack within the Gaza Strip.

Those killed included Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, who was struck by fire from an Israeli tank which he was filming. He had travelled to the scene in a car clearly marked “TV-Press”. He was killed as he started to film the tank.

Fadel Shana appears to have been killed deliberately although he was a civilian taking no part in attacks on Israel’s forces,” said Amnesty International......"

German delegation: We were threatened by Hebron settlers, IDF did nothing

"German lawmakers touring the West Bank city of Hebron said Thursday they were threatened by Jewish settlers and broke off the visit after Israel Defense Forces troops refused to step in.

The IDF declined comment. In Berlin, the Israeli embassy apologized for the incident.

Seven members of the German parliament's law committee toured Hebron, the West Bank's largest city, on Wednesday. Israeli forces control the center of the Palestinian city to protect several hundred Jewish settlers there.

At the start of the visit, the legislators were cursed, insulted and threatened by a small group of settlers, the visitors said in a statement......"

Rights group: IDF must ban shell that killed cameraman in Gaza

"An investigation into the death of a Palestinian cameraman who was killed Wednesday in the Gaza Strip revealed that he had been hit by a Flechette shell fired from an Israel Defense Forces tank, prompting the human rights group B'Tselem to reiterate their demand to discontinue the use of this fatal type of munition.

The Flechette shell explodes in the air and releases thousands of metal darts which disperse in a conical arch three hundred meters long and some ninety meters wide. The use of this type of shell increases the likelihood that someone other than the target will be hit by the shell's darts, thus endangering innocent civilians.

Fadel Shana, 23, was working for the news agency Reuters filming Israeli tanks when he was killed. Two other Palestinian civilians were also killed in the same incident.

In a statement, B'Tselem demanded Thursday that the Military Advocate General "immediately issue instructions to suspend the use of this deplorable form of munition in the Gaza Strip, and launch a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident." The human rights organization maintains that over the past seven years, at least 18 Palestinians were killed by Flechette shells in the Gaza Strip, and at least 11 of them were civilians. ........"

The Latest Convert to Pan-Arabism? It is Condoleezza, Of Course!

Rice says Arabs must shield Iraq from Iran's sway

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she would press Iraq's Arab neighbors hard next week to do more to support Baghdad's government and shield it from Iran's "nefarious influences."

Rice, set to attend a conference of Iraq's neighbors in Kuwait Tuesday, said her message would be for Arab states to fulfill their promises to increase diplomatic, economic, social and cultural ties with Baghdad's government.

"What Iraq now needs most and what I will push for in Kuwait is greater support from its neighbors," Rice said. "That includes establishing embassies in Baghdad and exchanging ambassadors."......"

Tank shell that sprays deadly darts killed cameraman in Gaza, say doctors

By Donald Macintyre in central Gaza
Friday, 18 April 2008
The Independent

"Bordered by lemon trees on one side and an olive grove on the other, the country lane leading to Joher Al Dik, where Fadel Shana was killed doing his job, was all but deserted yesterday afternoon. But two teenage boys from the Nusseirat refugee camp displayed half a dozen of the dull, black, inch-long darts which they said they had found among the cactus growing along the verge opposite where Mr Shana had parked his unarmoured SUV to film a tank on Wednesday afternoon.

According to doctors who examined the body of the 23 -year-old Palestinian Reuters cameraman at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, it was controversial darts like those, flechettes, fired from an Israeli tank shell that explodes in the air, that caused his death. X-rays displayed to Reuters showed several of the flechettes embedded in the dead man's chest and legs, and more were found in his flak jacket, clearly emblazoned, like his vehicle, with "TV" and "Press" signs......."

A Confirming Moment in Basra

Teeth in the Jellyfish


"When Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kerensky sent his "army" to fight the Mahdi Army in Basra, President Bush called it "a defining moment." It turned out instead to be a confirming moment. It confirmed that there is no state in Mesopotamia.

One of the most common signs that America's leadership is clueless about 4GW is the language they use. Fourth Generation war has few if any defining moments. Nor does it have "turning points," another common Bushism. In his testimony on Tuesday, General David Petraeus revealed the limits on his own grasp of 4GW when he said, "We've got to continue. We have our teeth into the jugular, and we need to keep it (sic) there." 4GW opponents have no jugular. 4GW is war of the capillaries. What we have our teeth into in Iraq is a jellyfish.......

American policy proved even more reckless than that of Mr. al-Maliki. To win in Iraq, we must see a state re-emerge. That means we should stay out of the way of anyone with the potential to recreate a state. Muqtada al-Sadr is at or near the head of the list. The al-Maliki "government" isn't even on it.

So what did we do? Why, we went to war against al-Sadr on behalf of al-Maliki, of course. Our leadership cannot grasp one of the most basic facts about 4GW, namely that the splintering of factions makes it more difficult to generate a state. Should we have the bad luck to "win" this latest fight and destroy the Mahdi Army, we will move not toward but further away from that goal......"
Al-Jazeera Video: Reuters cameraman talks to Al Jazeera - 17 April 08

"Fadl Shanaa, who was killed by an Israeli missile on April 16, spoke to Al Jazeera in February.

He was interviewed as part of a series called 'Shoot the Messenger' that focuses on the increased dangers that journalists are facing in covering the story. He had survived an Israeli air raid in 2006."

Al-Jazeera Video: Deadly day in Gaza - 17 Apr 2008

"Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Gaza where a Reuters cameraman, Fadl Shanaa, was killed by Israeli troops.

Shanaa was covering the most recent of clashes that resulted in 17 other Palestinian deaths. "

By Emad Hajjaj

Israeli forces in Gaza "willfully kill" journalist

Report, PCHR, 17 April 2008

"The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the crime committed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Wednesday evening, which took the life of Fadel Shana'a, a Palestinian journalist, when he carrying out his job in Gaza. PCHR expresses utmost concern over continued crimes committed by IOF against journalists and media professionals, which is a reflection of excessive use of force against civilians, and systematic targeting of journalists to prevent them from covering crimes committed against civilians.

According to information obtained by PCHR, and the testimony of Wafa Abu Mezyed, a Reuters soundman who was wounded in the attack, at approximately 17:00 on Wednesday, 16 April 2008, Fadel Subhi Shana'a, 23, a cameraman, and Wafa Younsi Abu Mezyed, 25, a soundman, both working for Reuters, were near al-Ihasn Mosque in Juhor al-Dik village, southeast of Gaza City, documenting crimes committed by IOF in the area. When they finished their work, Shana'a and Abu Mezyed traveled in their sport utility vehicle bearing "TV" and "Press" markings towards Salah al-Din Street to leave the village. Abu Mezyed Sated:

"When we were traveling towards Salah al-Din Street, Israeli military vehicles were nearly 700 meters away from us. We stopped and got out of the vehicle and Shana'a started to [document] the military vehicles. We were wearing bulletproof suits and carrying cameras. When I was driving a number of children away from us, I was surprised by a shell falling near Shana'a who was standing near the vehicle. I saw him falling on the ground and I was wounded by shrapnel to the left hand. Another shell hit the back of the vehicle, and I was wounded by shrapnel to the pelvis and the right foot. I cried and ran towards ambulances to save us."

Immediately, ambulances evacuated Shana'a and Abu Mezyed to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Deir al-Balah. According to medical sources, Shana'a was brought the hospital dead.

Reuters stated on its web site that "Shana'a was covering events in the Gaza Strip for Reuters on a day of intense violence." "He had stepped from his car to film an Israeli tank dug in several hundred meters [yards] away, when an explosion killed him and two youth passing by. Video from Shana's camera showed the tank opening fire. Two seconds after the shot raises dust around its gun, the tape goes blank -- seemingly at the moment Shana was hit," the statement added.

PCHR strongly condemns this latest crime, which is part of systematic targeting of journalists by IOF. Since the beginning of the current intifada in late September 2000, IOF have killed nine journalists, including an Italian journalist and a British one, and have wounded at least 170 others.

PCHR reiterates its calls for the international community and the High Contracting Parties of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War to fulfill their obligation to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and to immediately intervene to stop grave breaches of the Convention perpetrated by IOF."

My militia is more untouchable than yours

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

".....Washington keeps spinning the success of a "war on terror" narrative in northern Iraq against "al-Qaeda". This is false. The US is basically fighting indigenous Sunni Arab guerrilla groups - some with Islamic overtones, some neo-Ba'athists. These are no terrorists. Their agenda is unmistakable: occupation out.....

More complex are the recent bombings in 80% Sunni Arab Mosul, where slow-motion ethnic cleansing of Sunni Arabs is being conducted by Kurdish police and Peshmerga forces helped by the US. After four car bombings that killed five civilians and wounded 37, another car bomb killed 12 Peshmergas in the explosive province of Ninevah, near the border town of Rabia, in west Mosul. Rabia is highly strategic: a key link between majority Sunni Arab villages and Kurdistan, as well as a gateway to Syria. This could be retaliation by Sunni Arab guerrillas against the Kurdish and US offensive.

Which brings one to the key point: none of this has absolutely anything to do with Iran.

Crackdown, sort of

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been very vocal on an ongoing government crackdown on "militias". But some militias are more untouchable than others. Maliki and Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have agreed this past weekend to keep intact the "semi-autonomous" status of the Kurdish Peshmerga. Why? Because they are "organized forces", according to Maliki, part of two Iraqi army divisions with 25,000 to 30,000 troops.

There's ample controversy on whether other Peshmerga operating outside of Kurdistan's three provinces will be disbanded. They certainly won't; they will morph into "Iraqi" police and "Iraqi" army - under the benign eyes of US commanders.......

Once again, this has nothing to do with Iran. Or does it? The battle of Sadr City is useful for the Bush administration spin machine to keep imprinting on the American public the narrative that Iran gives weapons to terrorists to kill American soldiers in Iraq (even though these weapons are sold by Gulf smugglers unconnected with Tehran). According to the narrative, if Iran is the new al-Qaeda, the Sadrists are their surrogates in Iraq.

Oil-drenched Peshmergas

It's not only the Peshmerga that remain free to roam. According to the Az-Zaman newspaper, Maliki's government, in a hush-hush manner, has also agreed to accept all of the KRG's 20-plus dodgy oil deals and their decentralized version of the new, proposed Iraqi oil law. Most members of parliament in Baghdad - aware of the explosive social backlash - are essentially against foreign Big Oil sinking their teeth into Iraq's nationalized oil industry. ....."

Real News Video: Pressure mounts for talks with Hamas

"Aijaz Ahmad: Carter speaks for Israeli majority when he urges US, Israel to talk to Gaza's leadership

Thursday April 17th, 2008

Against the backdrop of former US president Jimmy Carter's visit to the Middle East, 19 Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers were killed on Wednesday in a fresh round of violence in Gaza.

Carter's comment that ignoring Hamas is "counterproductive" is right on the money, says The Real News analyst Aijaz Ahmad. Ahmad points out that Hamas won a majority of votes in legitimate elections, and--unlike the Fatah government that now controls the West Bank--speaks for a majority of Palestinians."

Israel Mulls Broad-Scale Gaza War After Bush Visit


There is a heightened sense in the security establishment that a broad-scale ground incursion inside the Gaza Strip is necessary this summer to deal a severe blow to Hamas's infrastructure, sources in Jerusalem told the Jerusalem Post.

According to the sources, the incursion - similar but more difficult than Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in 2002 - would not take place until about a month or a month-and-a-half after US President George W. Bush's planned visit in mid-May. The timing would also place the operation in the middle of summer, considered an optimal time for this type of operation, according to the Post.

The sources said there was recognition that such an operation would be extremely costly, both in terms of soldiers and Palestinians killed. Nevertheless, the operation is being considered out of a widespread sense that the current situation in the Gaza Strip cannot continue festering indefinitely.

In recent days, significant changes in the nature of fighting in the Gaza Strip have been noticed by the Israeli military command, Yediot Aharonot said Thursday. Hamas and the organizations that are inspired by it and operate under its wing scaled back the rocket fire and are now focusing on firing and attacking along the border fence around the Strip.

Machinegun and sniper fire, mortar shells, as well as attacks and clashes initiated along the fence by the Palestinians also grant the terrorists a blatant military advantage: They are able to determine the timing, location, and circumstances of their clashes with Israeli troops. Wednesday morning’s clash that left three soldiers dead was further testament to this fact, Yediot's Ron Ben-Yishai said.

"It is very possible that the clash and its grave outcome are a direct result of the fact that Gaza’s terrorists drew lessons from the Nahal Oz attack. They learned the IDF’s response patterns and the unequivocal orders issued to troops urging them to aspire for contact," he added. "Therefore, two terrorists approached the fence in order to plant explosive devices. Meanwhile, the bulk of the Palestinian force remained well-hidden and was lying in wait. Once the relatively small IDF force entered, the terrorists directed lethal fire at it and immediately left the area. This modus operandi is virtually identical to the one adopted by Hezbollah in Lebanon until the Second Lebanon War," Ron Ben Yishai concluded.

He also said that there is no reason for amazement or surprise on the Israeli part. What has been happening in the Gaza Strip is a process that is particularly typical to an ongoing confrontation where two sides are engaged in an undecided war of attrition along a static frontline. "

No Peace Without Hamas

By Mahmoud al-Zahar

The Washington Post

"GAZA -- President Jimmy Carter's sensible plan to visit the Hamas leadership this week brings honesty and pragmatism to the Middle East while underscoring the fact that American policy has reached its dead end. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acts as if a few alterations here and there would make the hideous straitjacket of apartheid fit better. While Rice persuades Israeli occupation forces to cut a few dozen meaningless roadblocks from among the more than 500 West Bank control points, these forces simultaneously choke off fuel supplies to Gaza; blockade its 1.5 million people; approve illegal housing projects on West Bank land; and attack Gaza City with F-16s, killing men, women and children. Sadly, this is "business as usual" for the Palestinians.

Last week's attack on the Nahal Oz fuel depot should not surprise critics in the West. Palestinians are fighting a total war waged on us by a nation that mobilizes against our people with every means at its disposal -- from its high-tech military to its economic stranglehold, from its falsified history to its judiciary that "legalizes" the infrastructure of apartheid. Resistance remains our only option. Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world's largest open-air prison, can do no less. ........"

EGYPT: Opposition Finds Renewed Strength

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Apr 17 (IPS) - What was planned as a workers' strike at a major textiles company turned into a nationwide protest against skyrocketing food prices Apr 6. Over the days following, the opposition has found renewed strength.

"April 6 was a watershed in the history of Egypt," Magdi Hussein, secretary-general of the Socialist Labour Party told IPS. "It will be studied by future students of political science."

Labour leaders from the state-owned Misr Company for Spinning and Weaving located in Mahalla town in Egypt's Nile Delta planned the strike against the soaring cost of living. The company's roughly 25,000 employees were seeking higher salaries and improved working conditions.

It would not be Mahalla's first serious labour action: in December 2006, workers staged a major strike over unpaid bonuses. The action -- after which company officials acceded to workers' demands -- encouraged a series of similar labour strikes throughout the course of last year in a number of industries.

The recent wave of labour unrest can be largely attributed to the rising cost of basic commodities, particularly food. According to recent estimates by the UN, expenditures on basic foodstuffs and services for the average Egyptian household have risen by some 50 percent since January.

But the Mahalla strike was destined to become something much greater in scope than originally intended......

As for the strike's principal supporters, several have since been detained by police on charges of instigating riots. These include several leaders of the Labour Party and the Kefaya movement, as well as a handful of the Facebook group's founding members.

Nevertheless, a second nationwide strike has been declared for May 4 to coincide with Mubarak's 80th birthday.

"The call for another strike, which we have endorsed, originated from supporters on the Internet," said Hussein. "It's becoming obvious that, in the absence of free and fair elections, political change cannot be realised without popular action.

"Fortunately, a new, politically-aware generation appears ready to lead it
," he added."

Is it A Genocide Yet?
Photo contributed by Fatima

Killing in the West Bank Exposes a Furtive War

Hamas Cleric Apparently Tortured to Death in Custody of Rival Palestinian Authority

By Griff Witte
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, April 17, 2008

"KOBAR, West Bank -- When the preacher's body arrived at the hospital, his back was scarlet where he had been whipped with pipes. His legs were black with bruises. His wrists were sliced open and bloodied.

The Palestinian Authority, which had been holding Majd Barghouti in an intelligence-service prison for the previous week, soon declared that the popular Hamas imam, or prayer leader, had died of a heart attack.

But eyewitness accounts, photographs, video and an independent Palestinian investigation released this month suggested that he was tortured to death during his February detention.

"They wanted the sheik to admit something he wasn't going to admit," said Midhat Amriyeh, a 27-year-old laborer who said he witnessed Barghouti's death from a nearby cell. "There was no way out."

Barghouti's killing offers a rare glimpse into a subterranean war that plays out daily in the West Bank, where two Palestinian factions vie for power. Fatah, which dominates the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority, uses its power in the West Bank to keep Hamas at a disadvantage -- banning Hamas newspapers, breaking up Hamas demonstrations and shutting down Hamas-affiliated social services groups. It has also arrested hundreds of Hamas activists in the West Bank......

Friends and family of Barghouti deny that he was ever involved in violence, though they readily acknowledge that he was a fervent member of Hamas. He was, they said, heavily involved in the organization's social services network, distributing food and clothing to Kobar's poorer families.

He was also a charismatic speaker, leading the sermons in the largest of three mosques in this tiny village in the central West Bank. He had a habit of speaking out against the Palestinian Authority's crackdowns on Hamas, and his followers say that probably brought him unwanted attention from the intelligence service's informants.....

Barghouti, 44 and the father of eight, had finished leading evening prayers Feb. 14 when two cars full of plainclothes Palestinian Authority intelligence officers pulled up in front of the mosque. As rain poured down, they grabbed him, hustled him into the car and sped off, according to Omar Barghouti, a friend who witnessed the arrest.

At first, Omar Barghouti thought the imam had been taken by the Israelis. But then he noticed that one of the officers was a Palestinian with whom he had served 22 years in an Israeli jail. "Why are you doing this?" Omar Barghouti said he shouted as the cars pulled away. "This is why you were kicked out of Gaza. Haven't you learned?"......

Barghouti was denied the chance to see a lawyer and was never formally charged with a crime, according to the investigation.

After less than a week, guards had to help him to the bathroom, according to witnesses. "He was in a very bad state," said Azzam Fahal, 35, who was in a cell a few feet away from Barghouti. "He was like a small boy walking for the first time."

On his eighth night in custody, Barghouti called out in a faint voice that he was vomiting blood. He died the next day......"