Thursday, 9 April 2009

Jewish settler terrorists rampage at Arab village, casualties reported

The Beit Ayn settlement outpost near Hebron

WRITTEN BY Khalid Amayreh in al-Khalil

8 April, 2009

Religious Jewish terrorists on Thursday attacked a small Arab village north of al Khalil (Hebron), shooting randomly on civilians and vandalizing homes and businesses.

Eyewitnesses said as many as a hundred settler terrorists descended on the small village of Safa, 10 kilometers north west of al-Khalil, with the purpose of carrying out a pogrom against local inhabitants.

The terrorists were escorted by several Israeli army soldiers who reportedly made no effort to stop the terrorists who were shouting “death to the Arabs.”

The Palestinians, fearing for their lives, hurled stones at the rampaging settlers to prevent them from setting fire to Palestinian property, prompting Israeli soldiers to open fire at the Palestinians.

At least 28 people were reportedly wounded with live ammunition, including a boy who was shot in the chest.

Medical sources said Thaer Nasser Adi, 17, was in serious but stable condition at the Ahli hospital in al–Khalil.

The mayor of the nearby town of Beit Ummar, Nasri Sabarna, described the settler rampage as “an unprovoked criminal act against innocent and peaceable people.”

Sabarna said the settlers wanted to terrorize the Palestinian villagers in order to take over their land and property.

He accused the right-wing Israeli government of giving Jewish terrorists a green light to attack Palestinians and vandalize their property.

“The present government is a government of settlers, by the settlers, for the settlers. I believe there is a full coordination between the settlers and the army.”

Muhammed, a local villager, called the settlers “savages and Nazis.”

“These people go to their religious Talmudic schools in the morning, and in the afternoon they come here to attack us, terrorize our women and children and sabotage our property. What kind of religion are they following?”

Muhammed called on the international community to provide protection against “these barbarians who want to kill us and expel us from our land.”

He lashed out at the Israeli army for its “connivance and collusion” with the settlers, saying that the army and the settlers were “two sides of the same coin.”

Al-Khalil Governor Hussein al Araj, who arrived at the village soon after the disturbances, accused the Israeli army of failing to protect Palestinians from the settlers.

“I believe the settlers wouldn’t dare attack the village without at least a tacit approval from the Israeli army.”

Al-Araj held the Israeli army fully responsible for this “pogrom,” saying that Palestinians in the occupied territories needed international protection.

He added that settler attacks and terror would continue as long as “these criminal squatters remain here.”

The small settlement outpost, known as Beit Ayn, is home to extremist settlers who are indoctrinated in Jewish supremacy.

A few years ago, some of the settlers from Beit Ayn were caught implanting a large explosive charge at a Palestinian school near Jerusalem.

The explosion would have killed and injured dozens of Palestinian children.

Last week, a settler was killed, ostensibly in retaliation for the murder of Palestinians by settler terrorists.

Normally, the Israeli justice system deals extremely lightly with settlers who murder Palestinians.

During the al-Qsa intifada, the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish terrorists killed thousands of Palestinians, the vast majority of whom innocent civilians, to suppress Palestinian aspirations for freedom from decades of the Nazi-like Israeli military occupation.

According to an Israeli human rights organization, only a handful of cases of murder were investigated.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Israel to deny prisoners their rights

Israel has approved legislation to deny Palestinian prisoners their rights as a last ditch effort to free captured soldier Gilad Shalit.

The cabinet voted for proposals presented by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann calling for cutting back on Palestinian prisoners' visitation rights, academic studies and means of communication, The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

In addition to sanctions on entertainment media, the prisoners will be subject to stricter guidelines regarding the transfer of money for use at the prison canteen.

The recommendations were made during the weekly cabinet meeting which was the final meeting of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government.

Friedmann briefed the cabinet on legislature that would have to be instituted in order to take further steps.

"It is true that we are the only democracy in the Middle East, but we can't let ourselves become the only suckers and we mustn't show weakness," he claimed.

The Prisons service announced that the recommendations will go into effect in the near future.

The move is expected to raise strong criticism among the human rights groups, which have been increasing mounting pressure on Tel Aviv over its disregard for human rights during the war on Gaza.

Israeli forces targeted numerous civilian buildings including homes, mosques, media centers and even UN schools, during three weeks of non-stop fire on the Gaza Strip.

There is also evidence proving that Tel Aviv has resorted to unconventional weapons - including depleted uranium and white phosphorus -- during the onslaught.

Following the war on Gaza Hamas and Israel engaged in negotiations but failed to reach a prisoner swap deal in Egypt earlier this month.

The two sides have been negotiating an agreement under which hundreds of Palestinian prisoners would be released in exchange for the release of Shalit -- captured in a cross border operation by Palestinian fighters in 2006.

Israel has been insisting that high profile prisoners must be expelled from Palestinian territories upon their release - a request strongly opposed to by Hamas.


Israel soldiers tear gas al-Khalil demo

Israeli soldiers use tear gas and shock grenades to disperse demonstrators protesting against Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers dispersed the Palestinian and Israeli protesters in al-Khalil's (Hebron) Old City on Saturday after they disturbed public order in an area under Israeli control.

A video footage from the scene showed Israeli soldiers pushing demonstrators, including Israeli Arab lawmaker Mohammad Barakeh. A number of foreign peace activists were also present at the protest, Reuters reported.

Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators said the protest was part of several events aimed at marking Land Day, the annual commemoration of protests in 1976 against Israel's occupation of Arab-owned land in al-Jaleel (Galilee).

The demonstrators were also demanding that Palestinians be allowed to use a road in the old town of al-Khalil after they were denied access by the Israeli military for what it called 'security reasons'.

Some 600 illegal settlers live under Israeli military protection in the heart of the West Bank city of al-Khalil that is inhabited by 180,000 Palestinians.


France calls Gaza 'open-air prison'

France has warned that the Gaza Strip cannot remain an 'open-air prison' forever, urging Israel to lift the blockade on the territory.

Tel Aviv should 'permanently' open Gaza's border-crossings, said French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Eric Chevallier, IRNA repored.

The lifting of the Gaza blockade is a fundamental key to a long-lasting ceasefire and ending the crisis in the territory, he went on to say.

The French spokesman further urged Israel to permit the entry of humanitarian aid and merchandise so that the Gaza inhabitants could lead a normal life.

According to Chevallier, the European Union and France have been in contact with the Israeli authorities to convince them to open Gaza to humanitarian aid.

Israel has enforced a 20-month blockade on the Gaza Strip and has managed to cripple the costal strip's economy with its recent war that inflicted over USD 1.6 billion in damage on the Gazans.

On December 27, Tel Aviv launched an all-out military strike on Gaza. Three weeks of constant air strikes and a ground incursion left over 1,350 Palestinians -- mostly civilians -- dead and around 5,450 people injured.


Cartoon of the Day.

US Army Confirms Israeli Nukes; Israeli Aid At Stake

The Army has let slip one of the worst-kept secrets in the world — that Israel has the bomb.

Officially, the United States has a policy of “ambiguity” regarding Israel’s nuclear capability. Essentially, it has played a game by which it neither acknowledges nor denies that Israel is a nuclear power.

But a Defense Department study completed last year offers what may be the first time in a unclassified report that Israel is a nuclear power. On page 37 of the U.S. Joint Forces Command report, the Army includes Israel within "a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east."

The single reference is far more than the U.S. usually would state publicly about Israel, even though the world knew Israel to be a nuclear power years before former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu went public with facts on its weapons program in 1986.

Several years later investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published "The Samson Option," detailing Israel’s strategy of massive nuclear retaliation against Arab states in the event it felt its very existence was threatened. Israel’s nuclear arsenal has been estimated to range from 200 to 400 warheads.

Yet Israel has refused to confirm or deny it’s nuclear capabilities, and the U.S. has gone along with the charade.

As recently as Feb. 9 President Barack Obama ducked the question when asked pointedly by White House correspondent Helen Thomas whether he knew of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons. Keeping the blinders on is necessary politically in order to avoid a policy confrontation with Israel.

By law, the U.S. would have to cease providing billions of dollars in foreign aid to Israel if it determined the country had a nuclear weapons program. That’s because the so-called Symington Amendment, passed in 1976, bars assistance to countries developing technology for nuclear weapons proliferation.

Given the U.S.’s long history of selective blindness when it comes to Israeli nukes, it’s unlikely that the Joint Operating Environment 2008 report compiled by the Army amount to much more than a minor faux pas.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in a March 8 article on the report, observed: "It is virtually unheard of for a senior military commander, while in office, to refer to Israel’s nuclear status. In December 2006, during his confirmation hearings as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates referred to Israel as one of the powers seen by Iran as surrounding it with nuclear weapons. But once in office, Gates refused to repeat this allusion to Israel, noting that when he used it he was 'a private citizen.'"

– Bryant Jordan


Sunday, 29 March 2009

Devouring Jerusalem

Khalid Amayreh

In its increasingly rabid efforts to consolidate control of traditionally Arab-East Jerusalem, Israel this week moved to suppress Palestinian cultural activities associated with the city being declared the capital of Arab culture for 2009.

On 19 March heavily armed paramilitary police violently dispersed a meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem, confiscating posters, leaflets, placards and computers.

Israeli police also raided schools, social clubs and community centres to foil activities celebrating Arab culture in the occupied city which Israel considers its "united and undivided capital".

Several organisers, including East Jerusalem lawmaker Hatem Abdel-Qader, were arrested on charges of disturbing peace.

Israeli security forces cordoned off East Jerusalem by deploying soldiers at all entrances to the city. They turned back visitors, including several delegations from Arabian Gulf states, including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Frustrated by the draconian Israeli measures the Palestinian Authority, the main organiser of the festivities, decided to transfer the main event to Bethlehem, a few kilometres south of Jerusalem. Hundreds of PA officials, foreign dignitaries, religious leaders and diplomats arrived on 21 March to listen to a speech by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas reasserted his commitment to establishing a viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, on all Palestinian land Israel occupied in 1967.

"We will continue to reject the Israeli policy of Judaising Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem]. And we will not hold peace talks with any Israeli government that rejects the two-state solution," said Abbas, alluding to Israeli designate-Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian leader, who recited a few verses of the Quran pertaining to the status of Jerusalem in Islam, pointed out that Jerusalem was the key to peace in the region and the world, saying that peace will not prevail unless and until the Israeli occupation ends completely.

Addressing the Arab-Muslim world, Abbas said: "I urge our Arab and Muslim brothers to come to the rescue of Jerusalem, protect Jerusalem from the act of rape to which the city is being subjected… Jerusalem is being Judaised by force, its Arab identity is being obliterated, its history is being falsified, its people are being oppressed and tormented. Its homes are being demolished. Jerusalem is the beginning and the end, it is the ultimate address of peace. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine."

Addressing Israel, Abbas said: "Peace can't be made through the building and expansion of settlements, brute force and military insolence. What happened in Gaza recently reflects the Israeli mindset, and with such a mindset, it is clear there can be no peace."

Abbas's desperate but defiant words epitomised the situation across the occupied Palestinian territories but especially in Jerusalem, where Israel is planning to destroy hundreds of Palestinian homes.

The planned destruction of the Silwan neighbourhood in the heart of the city has been described by PA officials as "demographic decapitation".

"They are indulging in ethnic cleansing in broad daylight. They are chasing Palestinians out of their homes. They are trying to decapitate Arab existence in East Jerusalem, step by step, home by home, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, while they continue to lie about their desire for peace," said Rafiq Al-Husseini, a senior aide to Abbas.

Asked by Al-Ahram Weekly what the PA was going to do to prevent Israel from carrying out the wholesale destruction of the Silwan neighbourhood [the goal is to build a park and recreational facilities for Jewish settlers in the surrounding areas], Al-Husseini said the PA would try to mobilise the international community to stop Israeli crimes.

During her recent visit to the occupied territories US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the planned demolitions as "unhelpful" and "incompatible with Israeli commitments under the roadmap".

Israeli officials were unimpressed by Clinton's warnings. Jerusalem's Jewish mayor, Nir Barkat, described her words as "a lot of air", claiming she had been misled by the Palestinians.

Barkat, an extreme right-winger, vowed to destroy Arab homes en masse, saying that "what we do in our capital is none of America's business".

Israeli efforts to obliterate the Arab-Islamic-Christian identity of Jerusalem began immediately after 1967. Four days after seizing the city Israeli army bulldozers razed the Maghariba and Sharaf neighbourhoods. The Palestinian inhabitants of the two neighbourhoods were expelled at gunpoint. Two mosques, two religious schools or Zawiyas and 135 houses were destroyed.

Several months later Israel seized the Harat Al-Maghariba for "public use" and built a large plaza in front of the Buraq — the Wailing or Western — Wall. The heart of Al-Maghariba and the adjacent, smaller Harat Al-Sharaf were both Islamic Waqf (religious endowment) properties dating back to the time of Salaheddin Al-Ayoubi (Saladin).

According to Palestinian sources Israel has demolished as many as 700 homes in the old town alone, forcing many inhabitants to seek shelter outside the boundaries of the city, e.g. in the West Bank.

Since 1967 Israel has confiscated 34 per cent of East Jerusalem for "public benefit" and designated 44 per cent of the occupied Arab town as "green space". Nine per cent of the city was confiscated for the purpose of building settlements, leaving only 13 per cent of the original, built up Arab area, for the Palestinians.

In addition Israel has adopted a number of aggressive measures aimed at forcing the town's Arab inhabitants to leave. These include imposing excessive taxes on real estate, including homes, withholding vital municipal services from Jerusalem's Arabs in order to force them to relocate and denying residency rights to as many as 20,000 Arabs living in the city.

The Israeli authorities have continued to deny Arabs building licences, exacerbating a housing crisis in the Old Town and surrounding Arab neighbourhoods.

The systematic destruction by Israeli municipal authority of "illegally-built" homes pushed thousands of Jerusalemites to the brink of despair.

Adnan Al-Husseini, the nominal Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, described Israeli measures in Jerusalem as a "full fledged demographic war".

"The Israeli goal is very clear. It is to force as many Palestinians as possible to leave the city and sell their property to Jewish interests."

Al-Husseini said Israel was following a variety of tactics to achieve its strategy, including psychological and economic pressure, heavy taxation, physical coercion and harassment and financial incentives to force Arabs to sell their properties. Jerusalemite Arabs were clinging to their city, he said, despite Israeli efforts to curtail Arab demographic growth.

The Palestinian population of Jerusalem has grown extensively since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. Today, the total population of Jerusalem (East and West) is estimated at 720,000, including 475,000 Jews (66 per cent) and 245,000 Arabs (34 per cent).

As many as 260,000 of the Jewish population of the city (54.7 per cent) are living in 34 colonies established in and around East Jerusalem since 1967.

Maali Adomim, Pisgat Zeev, Har Homa and Gush Itzion are among the largest of these settlements.

Israeli demographic experts predict the Palestinian population will make up 40 per cent of the town's total population by the 2020. It is to forestall this possibility that Israel has been making frantic efforts to confiscate more Arab land in order to build Jewish settler units.

According Israeli sources tenders for building more than 25,000 settler units have been issued since the Annapolis conference in 2007.

Earlier this month the Israeli group Peace Now revealed that the Israeli government was planning to build more than 73,000 units in the occupied West Bank, most of them in existing settlements surrounding East Jerusalem.

The group, which monitors settlement expansion in the West Bank, said the new plans would lead to the doubling of the Israeli settler population and scuttle any prospects for the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

Among the most dangerous and explosive aspects of Israel's efforts to Judaise East Jerusalem is the ongoing excavation and digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine.

According to Waqf officials, digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque is seriously undermining the foundations of Islamic shrine and the nearby Dome of the Rock.

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem, warned that it was only a matter of time before a "major disaster" occurred as a result of Israeli diggings in the vicinity of the Haram Al-Sharif (Al-Aqsa Mosque) esplanade. He accused the Israeli authorities of constructing subterranean tunnels beneath Islamic holy places without any consideration for the safety of Islamic shrines. "I can say without the slightest exaggeration that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing the danger of collapse as a result of these excavations."

Islamic Palestinian leader Raed Salah was even more dramatic in voicing his concerns. "The Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing urgent danger. A medium earthquake could cause the collapse of the mosque."

Salah was arrested by Israeli police on Monday, 23 March, charged with "disturbing the peace" and "inciting against Israel".

In recent years the Israeli security authorities have allowed extremist Jews to enter the Haram esplanade and perform Jewish prayers and other rituals.

In 1967 the Israeli army chief rabbi, General Shlomo Goren, tried to convince a commander of the conquering forces, Uzi Narkis, to blow up the mosque "once and for all".

The story was told by Narkis shortly before his death in 1997 and quoted by Avi Shlaim, an Israeli historian, in The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.

"There was an atmosphere of spiritual elation. Paratroopers were milling around in a daze. Narkis was standing for a moment on his own, deep in thought, when Goren went up to him and said 'Uzi, this is the time to put a hundred kilograms of explosives in the Mosque of Omar and that's it, we'll get rid of it once and for all.' Narkis said 'Rabbi, stop it." Goren then said to him, 'Uzi, you'll enter the history books by virtue of this deed.' Narkis replied, 'I have already recorded my name in the pages of the history of Jerusalem.' Goren walked away without saying another word."

Two weeks later the Israeli occupation army seized the key to one of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Moroccan Gate).

Numerous efforts by Jewish extremists to destroy the Islamic shrine have been reported over the years.