And other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property & resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Islamic movement delegation visits Jerusalemite officials facing exile
5 Dec (PIC)– A delegation from the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands visited the protest tent at the Red Cross headquarters to check on the Jerusalemite officials threatened with eviction from the holy city. Former Palestinian minister Khaled Abu Arafa, one of the Jerusalemite officials facing expulsion, denied there was an agreement with the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) on their issue or the release of MP Mohamed Abu Tir. Abu Arafa affirmed that he and his colleagues would continue to protest at the Red Cross headquarters until the IOA backtracks on its decision to expel them from their native city.
Israeli official: Collapse of Aqsa Mosque is imminent
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Col. Yoram Lev-Ran, the Commander of the Jerusalem district of the Home Front Command, has warned that a disaster might befall the holy Aqsa Mosque and that the old Marwani Mosque might collapse soon. He told an Israeli weekly published on Friday that a collapse would happen, but the only “question is when? And how many will be killed and injured?” Lev-Ran said that an emergency plan is always present when prayers in Ramadan are offered, adding the Home Front Command and the police are always on the alert. Observers believe that Lev-Ran’s statement is only a test balloon to check the Arab reaction,
Incursions / Violence
Israeli army raids Hebron, Nablus
5 Dec – Israeli soldiers with two military vehicles raided Asai town in Hebron and notified number of Palestinian citizens to visit the Israeli intelligence for questioning, local sources said. The sources added that IOF raided some neighborhoods in Hebron. Israeli soldiers erected military checkpoints at the entrance of Halhoul, another near the crossroad of Al-Laya near Ezna town and a third at the crossroad of Kharsa. In Nablus, IOF raided the city, but no detentions were reported.
Israeli army raids Bethlehem, erects checkpoints
Bethlehem, Dec 4, — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) erected Saturday military checkpoints in crossroads in Bethlehem city, in the West Bank and raided number of neighborhoods. Israeli soldiers erected military checkpoints at the crossroads of Al-Asakra village, local sources said. The sources added that IOF roamed Takoa town and raided Al-Douha towm in south Bethlehem. Eyewitnesses said to SAFA news agency that Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinian boys in Ayda refugee camp under the pretext of throwing stones at them.
Israeli soldiers storm Al Farisiya and arrest a Palestinian man
Israeli army stormed Al Farisiya, located in the northern Jordan Valley, accompanied by settlers from Rotem settlement — Tuesday [30 Nov], in the late morning, Israeli army expelled people from their homes and kept them for hours outside and checked everybody’s shoe leathers. Indeed, settlers accused people from Farisiya of stealing some of the settlement sheep. They didn’t find any of the animals they were looking for but they arrested a man, the head of the village council Aref Daraghmeh, who tried to call human right organizations to ask for help. He was beaten, arrested and detained till the evening. Farisiya is surrounded by 5 Israeli settlements and face number of aggressions from settlers and soldiers.
Shepherd loses 3 fingers in explosion
BETHLEHEM 5 Dec – A shepherd in Bethlehem lost three fingers on Sunday after an ordnance exploded in his hand, police said. The shepherd was herding sheep east of the West Bank city and picked up the explosive device, a police report said, adding that unexploded ordnance had caused several injuries and one death in the area. Police spokesman Ahmad Abu Fadda said the devices were left behind by Israeli soldiers who used the area as a military drill zone.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Weekend of confrontations in East Jerusalem’s Issawiya
5 Dec – Confrontations broke out in the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya on Friday (3 December) at the end of a demonstration organized by activists from Solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah. According to Issawiya residents, Israeli police began to fire tear gas into the area of the village closest to the nearby settlement of French Hill immediately following the demonstration. Through this area passes the only street which permits Issawiya residents from entering Jerusalem, after the entrance to the village closest to the nearby Hebrew University was recently blocked off by Israel … At 2p.m. on the same day, some 600 activists responded to the call from Solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah to participate in a demonstration against the Jerusalem Municipality’s ongoing neglect of the village, home demolitions, roadblocks in the entrance to the village and random fines imposed on the residents. According to local activists who participated in the demonstration, Israeli police raids are accompanied by intensive firing of tear gas amongst the crowded homes of the village
Night clashes in Eisawiye
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Violent clashes took place in Eisawiye [al-`Isawiya] in occupied Jerusalem on Saturday night between Israeli border police and citizens, local sources said on Sunday
Demonstrators place flag atop wall in Ni`ilin; army responds with tear gas
The weekly demonstration against the Separation Wall in Ni’ilin took place Friday afternoon with a smaller than normal group of Palestinians and a handful of Israeli supporters. After afternoon prayers, roughly thirty people walked to the gate of the wall under the banner of “The Intifada Continues, No Peace with the Occupation.
Israelis and Palestinians march together against demolitions
(special video) 3 Dec (ISM) Friday, hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians marched together in the Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem against recent brutality toward the village by the Israeli government: house demolitions by Israeli authorities, a siege on entrances to the neighborhood, and police misconduct with local residents. This is the first joint protest to be held in Issawiya, a neighborhood that has experienced much turmoil in recent years … Despite that the protest was nonviolent, after it had ended and Israeli and International activists had left, Israeli border police entered the neighborhood and fired tear gas grenades. Once again, Occupation forces brutally punished any form of resistance by the residents.
Bil`in weekly demonstration attacked with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets
(video) …Parts of the demonstration reached the barrier that separates the village from half of its land, where soldiers were waiting on the other side. Some protesters managed to open the gate leading to yet another fence, and were then met with tear-gas fired by the soldiers. The gas that lingered in the air forced the majority of the crowd to disperse, and small-scale clashes began between the soldiers and local youth provoked by the attack.
Federal subpoenas hit more Palestine solidarity activists
3 Dec – Grand-jury subpoenas Friday afternoon may signal that the federal government is expanding a probe of Midwest antiwar activists. Attorney Jim Fennerty said the FBI served subpoenas to at least two Chicago-area women who visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank this summer. Fennerty represents some antiwar activists who defied an order to appear before a grand jury in Chicago this October. Fennerty said at least one new subpoena requires the recipient to appear before a grand jury on January 25. He declined to name the recipients but said they’re both young and frightened. “They’re widening the scope of this investigation,” Fennerty said. “They’re trying to squeeze anybody they can. This is an attack about people who do solidarity work around Palestine.” Subpoenas served to 14 Midwest activists in September suggest an investigation relates to foreign groups the federal government calls terrorist.
Official intervention helps activists enter Pakistan
5 Dec – The intervention by senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs ensured that a group of peace activists seeking to take humanitarian aid to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip through several countries entered Pakistan on foot on Sunday.
Siege / Restriction on movement / Rights violations
Four more workers shot in Gaza buffer zone: an ordinary day in Gaza
5 Dec (ISM) – On Tuesday, the 30th of November 2010, four different individuals were wounded by Israeli gunshots while trying to make their living in the only way they could given the desperation in Gaza’s current economy … Tuesday wasn’t an exceptional day. This is an ordinary excerpt from the life of Gaza’s workers in the buffer zone: routine violations of human rights, and brutal crimes committed against Gazan civilians. Ismael, Bayan, Ameen and Gassan will be commemorated only as statistics in the bloody record of the Israeli occupation. But one of them will go on living without three toes, one with a smashed shinbone, and one will go without work for half a year until he can walk again.
Human rights and humanitarian relief groups urge rebuilding plan for Gaza
WASHINGTON – 3 Dec – With the blockade and resulting crisis in Gaza continuing with no end in sight, a group of international human rights and humanitarian relief organizations is urging a major home-repair initiative that will enable victims to reclaim their right to live in dignity. In a report entitled “Gaza Repair Strategies,” the nongovernmental organizations propose a concerted effort of small-scale home repairs that offers viable, safe, and dignified repair options. The strategy is designed to enable Gaza residents to move toward regaining their lives and livelihoods until a permanent political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be reached.
On Egypt’s border with Gaza, little has changed
RAFAH, Egypt 5 Dec — An old woman stood quietly crying in front of the heavy steel gate at the entrance to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on a hot summer day. She and her sister had been waiting in the beating sun for hours to enter Gaza, she told the officer in charge, who sat inside an air conditioned guard house with his bare feet propped on his desk. The heat was too much for her sister, said the old woman, her body leaning into the officer’s window. She said her sister collapsed and was taken away in an ambulance. “I just need to know where they took her,” she said, wiping a tear from her cheek.”“I am sorry, sir, but can someone tell me where the ambulances take people from here?” The officer looked at her, expressionless, and then screamed. “I am not the ambulance!” … Palestinians from Gaza seeking to re-enter their homeland through Egypt say they are routinely met with abuse, mockery and demands for bribes by Egyptian border officials who seem more interested in keeping people out than in letting them in.
Médecins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders protests Israeli, Hamas obstacles to Gaza work (AFP)
JERUSALEM 5 Dec – In the past two years, Israel has granted entry to only one Palestinian staff member from the territories to take part in training and supervision courses, Jean-Luc Lambert, the MSF head for the West Bank and Gaza, told AFP. Palestinians account for 90 percent of the Gaza staff of the France-based MSF, which has for the past decade been running programs in mental health, physiotherapy and post-operative care for burns victims. Lambert said Israel also bars entry to the blockaded Gaza Strip for Palestinian technicians from occupied East Jerusalem, despite the need for maintenance of medical equipment in the impoverished territory. “Our requests for crossing permits for Palestinians come up against a systematic refusal on security grounds,” he said.
Gaza to export 6 truckloads of strawberries
5 Dec – Israeli authorities partly opened the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip for limited deliveries of goods and fuel as well as exports of strawberries on Sunday.
Report: 280 Palestinians, including 43 children and three women, kidnapped last month
5 Dec …Two of the kidnapped residents are elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. The two are Nayef Rajoub from Hebron, and Mahmoud Al Ramahi from Ramallah. The Committee stated that soldiers kidnapped a 55-year-old woman identified as Shaheera Borqan, from Hebron. It considered the kidnapping of Borqan as an Israeli illegal policy meant to blackmail her two detained sons. Furthermore, soldiers kidnapped Abdul-Qader Masalma, 45, from Hebron, despite the fact the he is paralyzed due to extreme torture practiced by Israeli interrogators during a previous arrest; he spent seven years in prison.
PFLP activist sentenced to 26 years
NABLUS 4 Dec — A Palestinian activist affiliated to Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was sentenced on Friday to 26 years in Israeli prison. Ibrahim Salem from the Ein Beit Elma refugee camp in the northern West Bank district of Nablus was sentenced at the Israeli military court at Salem. Attorney Muyassar Atiyany, with the Palestinian higher committee for prisoners affairs, said Salem, detained on 15 January 2009, had been wanted for actions committed against the Israeli occupation during the Second Intifada.
Mother of detained journalist appeals for his release
5 Dec – NABLUS – The mother of Moaz Mishaal, a journalist in Nablus, denounced the continued detention of her son in Abbas’s jails for the 100th day running. She said that the detention was threatening future of his academic studies in addition to deteriorating his health. The mother said in a statement on Saturday that her son had joined the information faculty in Najah University in 2002 and did not graduate until now due to the repeated arrests and detention in Israeli occupation jails.
Islamic Jihad says PA detained member
JENIN 5 Dec — Islamic Jihad accused Palestinian Authority security forces of detaining one of its members in the West Bank city of Jenin on Saturday. The movement said PA intelligence services had issued several summons to Mansour Hafeth Melhem, 27, prior to his arrest. Melham spent six years in Israeli jails, accused of affiliation with Islamic Jihad, the party said in a statement calling for his immediate release. The group said it held the chief of intelligence in Jenin fully responsible for Melhem’s life.
MP Attal: All Hamas cadres detained by PA in Jericho jail in isolation cells
4 Dec – AL-KHALIL [Hebron], (PIC)– Palestinian lawmaker Mohamed Attal said that the Hamas-affiliated detainees imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Jericho prison are separated from each other in very small solitary cells. MP Attal added in a press release on Friday that the incarceration conditions in this PA jail are much worse than Israeli prisons, and appealed to human rights organizations to intervene to end the suffering of Hamas prisoners there.
In a separate incident, the PA security militias stormed on Friday the Mosque of Abrar in Al-Khalil city and kidnapped Sheikh Jibril Al-Jiyawi and his son Muntaser from inside the mosque as they were performing their evening prayers.
Fatah says Hamas escalating arrests of Gaza affiliates
RAMALLAH 4 Dec – Fatah on Saturday accused Hamas of arresting more than 30 party affiliates across Gaza in recent days. In a statement, Fatah said Hamas security forces raided the home of Fatah Revolutionary Council member Abdullah Abu Samhadana and arrested Fatah official Ibrahim At-Tahrawi … On Friday, Hamas accused Palestinian Authority forces of arresting five of its members in the West Bank, in a statement issued by regional leaders. Those detained were from Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Salfit, the statement said.
Abbas expecting US proposal for resumption of direct talks
5 Dec – Amman – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he was expecting a proposal from the US in the next few days to resume deadlocked talks with Israel.He made the remarks to reporters after talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, which tackled the “latest efforts to remove the obstacles” impeding resumption of the talks, according to a royal court statement.
Netanyahu tries to warm up to Turkey after getting aid for Carmel fire
5 Dec – As Turkey helps Israel put out the Carmel fire, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched an effort to end the diplomatic crisis with Ankara. Netanyahu sent the Israeli representative on the United Nations committee investigating the Gaza flotilla incident, Yosef Ciechanover, to Geneva to meet with Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, an undersecretary at the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Abbas visits Turkey (AFP)
ANKARA 5 Dec – President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Turkey Sunday for a two-day visit to discuss troubled efforts to end the Middle East conflict, Anatolia news agency reported. He was scheduled to meet behind closed doors with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later Sunday, before talks Monday with President Abdullah Gul, officials said earlier.
Abbas: Last resort — I’ll ask Israel to take over (AP)
RAMALLAH, West Bank 4 Dec – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has warned he may dissolve his self-rule government and ask Israel to resume full control of the West Bank if troubled peace talks fail.
Taha: Abbas is confused
4 Dec GAZA, (PIC) — Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader, has described Fatah leader and de facto Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as confused after his last statement that he was thinking of dissolving the Palestinian Authority. Taha told the PIC on Saturday night that Hamas had warned of the seriousness of going ahead in the settlement project since its very start .. As long as Abbas is acknowledging that there is no real Palestinian authority then why doesn’t he adopt practical steps and boost the internal Palestinian front, stop prosecuting resistance fighters and release all those detained, Taha elaborated.
Fire victim buried in non-Jewish plot
5 Dec – Sad ending — Tania Lansky, 23, from Ashkelon was laid to rest on Sunday at the city’s military cemetery. Tania was on board the trapped bus that caught fire on Thursday while making its way to Damon Prison in order to help evacuate prisoners. She died along with 41 of her friends. However, even in her death Tania had to struggle — The rabbinate refused to bury her in the cemetery’s main plot, because her mom is not Jewish.
Carmel wildfire contained
5 Dec – More than three days after initial blaze began near Druze village of Usfiya, firefighting authorities declare they have managed to gain control of biggest fire in Israel’s history. Extinguishing operations to continue in coming days in bid to prevent fire from re-erupting … The fire has destroyed more than 50,000 dunam (12,300 acres) of land and damaged three communities.
Palestinian firefighters help battle Carmel blaze
Head of Palestinian team says assistance is a ‘humanitarian gesture’ that has nothing to do with Israel-PA relations — Twenty-one Palestinian firefighters arrived at the Mount Carmel region on Sunday to assist Israel in its battle against the huge wildfire which has claimed the lives of 41 people. ”I’ve dreamed of visiting Haifa for a long time,” Ibrahim Ayash, the head of the Palestinian rescue team told Ynet, “But unfortunately I came at a very sad time.”
Usfiya residents: Don’t blame us for fire
5 Dec – “We lost the most beautiful forest in the country,” an Usfiya resident said Sunday following the huge fire which broke out in the Druze village and destroyed dozens of acres of land and millions of trees on Mount Carmel … According to Nissim Mansour, Usfiya’s residents have been suffering for years from the garbage site in which the fire started. “The garbage site in Usfiya was burned several times, and firefighters were dispatched to the area to put it out … “There is a serious problem here, which must be overcome. The firefighters don’t know the names of the burnt places. For instance, when we call them to report a fire in area X, they go to Area Y and let the fire spread.”
Fire suspects’ father: They were framed
5 Dec – Usfiya brothers arrive in court for hearing on extension of their remand; father says they were ‘snatched from home as if they were terrorists’ … Police suspect the brothers did not put out a fire that sparked the huge blaze in the Carmel region. Their father accused police of “snatching” the brothers “as if they were terrorists and not two youngsters who are about to enlist in the army. “They had nothing to do with the fire; they didn’t even know it erupted. One of them was sleeping and the other was in school,” the father claimed.
Carmel wildfire punishment from God?
5 Dec - Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef implied on Saturday night that the fire raging on Mount Carmel in northern Israel was a punishment from God for religious offenses committed by the area’s residents. During his weekly sermon, the rabbi read a section from the Babylonian Talmud, which states that “the fire only exists in a place where Shabbat is desecrated.”
Gaza Hamas leader: Carmel fires are Israel’s divine punishment (dpa)
5 Dec – The de-facto Palestinian prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the massive forest fires in northern Israel served as a “strike from Allah [God].”
Union head: Palestinians need alternatives to settlement jobs
BETHLEHEM 5 Dec — Palestinians employed in settlements will not give up their jobs until the Palestinian Authority provides alternative work, Palestinian trade union official Shahir Sa’d said Sunday. The PA issued a ban prohibiting Palestinians from working in West Bank settlements as part of a wider campaign which included a national boycott of settlement produce.
Protests, arrests in Gaza over closure of youth organization
GAZA CITY 5 Dec — Palestinian police detained at least 13 young people who were protesting Hamas authorities’ closure of the Sharek Youth Forum, a large independent NGO in Gaza Sunday … The Gaza government shut down Sharek last Tuesday citing an ongoing criminal investigation into the group’s activities and members. Sharek officials say the shutdown is a nakedly political attempt to crack down a liberal-minded institution.
Former Fatah star Mohammed Dahlan falls from favor
2 Dec – JERUSALEM // Where is Mohammed Dahlan? For days rumours have swirled of a falling out between the one-time heir apparent to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian Authority officials will not confirm the reports, but what is certain is that Mr Dahlan, 49, Fatah’s former security chief in the Gaza Strip, has dropped out of sight. The Palestinian daily Al Quds Al Arabi recently reported that Mr Dahlan had openly criticised the Palestinian president and his family’s business dealings. As a result, Palestinian political observers said yesterday, Mr Dahlan has been stripped of his bodyguards and threatened with imprisonment.
Dutch MP Wilders to Haaretz: There is a witch hunt against my party
THE HAGUE – Geert Wilders’ umpteenth visit to Israel on Sunday will offer him refuge not only from the cold gripping Holland, but also from the worst political storm to hit this famous and controversial Dutch politician so far. For Wilders, this will be the first visit to Israel since reaching real power for the first time. And it will also be the first time he is greeted in Israel with protests by people who oppose his views.
Analysis / Opinion
NGO Monitor targets truth for Israel / Stephen Lendman
3 Dec – Its web site (ngo-monitor.org) says it “was founded to promote accountability, and advance a vigorous discussion on the reports and activities of NGOs claiming to promote moral agendas, such as humanitarian aid and human rights.” In fact, it’s a Jerusalem-based pro-Israeli front group, disseminating propaganda and hate, debasing legitimate human rights organizations, independent journalism, and other advocates for truth, equity and justice.
The Native American analogy doesn’t work / Ali Abunimah
Earlier today Weiss did a post mentioning Native Americans and the argument that American historical sins immunize the Israelis from the Palestinian right of return.Citing the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans as a way to justify not recognizing the Palestinian right of return, as I’ve often heard people do, is usually disingenuous. The situation is comparable up to a point and then breaks down. Native Americans were ethnically cleansed as Palestinians were and are being ethnically cleansed. As a percentage of the US population today, Native Americans constitute less than one percent … The main reason people can flippantly say “well if you support the Palestinian right of return then you should support Native Americans returning to their land” in order to justify Israel not recognizing the Palestinian right is that there are simply so few Native Americans that the question does not really arise.
Will Turkey’s aid to Israel in Carmel fire revive foundering ties? / Zvi Bar’el
5 Dec – Turkey is still as strategically important for Israel as it ever was and it would be a major diplomatic blunder to miss the opportunity to repair ties with Ankara.
Netanyahu’s Katrina / Amir Oren
5 Dec – Israel needs a prime minister, not a spokesman … The government spokesman, Benjamin Netanyahu, served throughout the past decade and a half in roles as prime minister, finance minister and, again, prime minister. Against the background of the raging fires on the Carmel, it appears that the offices he headed didn’t do anything. And if they did something, they made matters worse.
London is the hub of justice, not hate
3 Dec – At long last, the wool which was pulled so tightly over the eyes of the British public has now been removed and their capital has become a hub of the quest for justice. The Israel lobby has organized hundreds of visits to the Zionist state for parliamentarians and journalists, who couldn’t have failed to be shocked by the contradictions and inhumanity they unearthed behind the façade of democracy, once they had been able to prise themselves away from their Israeli hosts’ lavish hospitality. This week, one newly-elected Labour MP, Grahame Morris, described before a special briefing the sickening horror he felt when he witnessed 13 year-old Palestinian kids being brought into court in leg chains, handcuffed and hooded; their only crime was throwing stones. “This is incredible; what civilised country would treat children this way?” he asked.
The Mossad’s new mission: Mideast peace / Gideon Levy
5 Dec – The main problem at the Mossad is that its activity is mainly focused on dangers, both real and imagined, rather than opportunities.
Damascus brushes off IAEA probe, urges scrutiny of Israel
4 Dec – VIENNA: Syria dismissed Friday calls to grant UN nuclear inspectors prompt access to the remains of a suspected nuclear site bombed to rubble by Israel, saying they should focus their investigation on the Jewish state instead. Damascus’ envoy to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Washington’s suggestion that the IAEA could seek broader inspection powers to enable it to examine sites in Syria was “nonsense” and he did not believe it was likely.
Experts: Israeli exit from Ghajar spells trouble for Lebanon (AFP)
BEIRUT 5 Dec — Israel’s plan to pull its troops out of northern Ghajar, a disputed village on the flashpoint border with Lebanon, is likely to prove more of a headache than a political victory for Beirut, experts say. “The people of Ghajar do not want to be part of Lebanon,” said Timur Goksel, former senior adviser of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), of the village’s 2,200 residents — none of whom is Lebanese.
Iraq, other Mideast
9 Iraqis, 9 Iranians killed, 89 Iraqis, 45 Iranians wounded
4 Dec – Many of today’s casualties were Iranian pilgrims visiting Shi’ite religious sites. The attacks, which also struck at Iraqi Shi’ite neighborhoods, came soon after it was discovered that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s may have been placing inexperienced Shi’ite loyalists into security positions. About seven Iranians were killed and 45 more were wounded in these attacks. About 11 Iraqis were also killed and 88 more were wounded. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made a brief, unannounced visit to Iraq.
Baghdad bombing renews a family’s fears / Raheem Salman
5 Dec – The market blast that killed 14 has an Iraqi journalist thinking again about leaving for the U.S. For now, his wife and son will rarely leave the house … I have survived several bombings in the last seven years. But this time, I was shopping with my family and I was feeling peaceful. Everything was quiet. It was the weekend and many people were at the market. We were looking for clothes for my son, who’s 12. Bayaa is a small neighborhood where you can find anything: clinics, pharmacies, banks — all the things for ordinary life. My wife and son say they will never go back to the market there.
Iran ‘dominant player’ in Iraq politics: leaked memo (AFP)
PARIS 5 Dec — Tehran is a “dominant player” in Iraq using “all means of diplomacy, intelligence and economy” to get a pro-Iranian regime there, leaked US diplomatic cables published by Le Monde newspaper Sunday said.
Egypt vote to usher in virtual single-party parliament (AFP)
CAIRO 5 Dec — President Hosni Mubarak’s party was poised to win almost every seat in a parliamentary election runoff Sunday boycotted by Egypt’s main opposition parties over fraud and intimidation allegations.
Copt candidate blames NDP ‘Islamists’ for Egypt poll defeat (AFP)
CAIRO 4 Dec — A Coptic opposition candidate defeated in a parliamentary election accused “extremist” Islamic elements in the ruling party Friday of trying to further marginalize Egypt’s beleaguered Christian minority.
WikiLeaks: US frustrated by continued Mideast funding of terrorists (Reuters)
5 Dec – ‘Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,’ according to classified memo — Top U.S. officials have grown frustrated over the resistance of allies in the Middle East to help shut the financial pipeline of terrorists, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing secret diplomatic dispatches.
African migrants dying in Yemen border town (Reuters)
4 Dec — Refugees from East Africa attempt to enter Saudi Arabia, but are being expelled and left to starve.
Iran declares nuclear ‘self-sufficiency’ ahead of talks (AFP)
TEHRAN 5 Dec — Iran said Sunday it has produced a first batch of uranium yellowcake, the raw material for enrichment, insisting the new step “strengthens” its position in upcoming nuclear talks with world powers. Atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that having previously been obliged to import yellowcake from abroad, Iran was now “self-sufficient” in the entire nuclear fuel cycle.
Iran says UN watchdog sending spies as inspectors (WaPo)
TEHRAN 4 Dec – Iran’s top intelligence official on Saturday accused the International Atomic Energy Agency of sending spies disguised as inspectors to the Islamic Republic’s most sensitive atomic sites.
U.S. and other world news
United Nations silent as NATO destroys potentially thousands of Afghan homes / Matthew Nasuti
4 Dec – NATO officials confirmed to this reporter that they routinely destroy Afghan homes, businesses and other structures that may be linked to the Taliban, but they refuse to provide any statistics as to how many have been destroyed. The Washington Post and The New York Times indicate that the practice is widespread and they have confirmed that whole villages have been leveled. (These field reports are referenced at the end of this article.)
Mosque infiltration feeds Muslims’ distrust of FBI (WaPo)
5 Dec – IRVINE, CALIF. – Before the sun rose, the informant donned a white Islamic robe. A tiny camera was sewn into a button, and a microphone was buried in a device attached to his keys. “This is Farouk al-Aziz, code name Oracle,” he said into the keys as he sat in his parked car in this quiet community south of Los Angeles. “It’s November 13th, 4:30 a.m. And we’re hot.” The undercover FBI informant – a convicted forger named Craig Monteilh – then drove off for 5 a.m. prayers at the Islamic Center of Irvine, where he says he spied on dozens of worshipers in a quest for potential terrorists.
WikiLeaks reveals diplomatic cables on Aafia Siddiqui / Stephen Lendman
4 Dec – On September 23 in federal court, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison, though committed no crime. It’s a gross miscarriage of justice, compounding what’s she’s already endured, following her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture, prosecution, and conviction on spurious charges. Through sentencing she was in New York City solitary confinement and may still be there, pending transfer to Federal Medical Center (FMC) Carswell in Fort Worth, TX, a hellhole described as a facility “provid(ing) specialized medical and mental health services to female prisoners.” If she’s there long-term, it’ll be a death sentence, its harshness precipitating it sooner, not later.
How the mirror effect keeps WikiLeaks online (AFP)
PARIS — Mirror sites are keeping WikiLeaks up and running despite the loss of its original wikileaks.org address, shut down by an American provider: welcome to the Barbra Streisand Effect. The elusive, intangible nature of the Internet has allowed the whistle-blowing website to keep a step ahead of its enemies … the mirror sites are just that: a replica of the contents of the original site, ensuring that the thousands of US diplomatic cables WikiLeaks has been leaking since last Sunday remain available for inspection.