US-made tear gas used in Tahrir Square, November, 2011 (Photo: Maggie Osama)
Data obtained by Amnesty International shows that the US has repeatedly transferred ammunition to Egypt despite security forces’ violent crackdown on protesters. A shipment for the Egyptian Ministry of Interior arrived from the US on 26 November carrying at least seven tons of “ammunition smoke” – which includes chemical irritants and riot control agents such as tear gas. It was one of at least three arms deliveries to Egypt by the US company Combined Systems, Inc. since the brutal crackdown on the “25 January Revolution” protestors.
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel has approved construction of a new Jewish enclave in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem, state-owned Channel One TV reported Wednesday. The channel said the 14-home project, to be named Maale David, was approved late Wednesday by the Jerusalem city council’s planning committee and was likely to spark fresh international condemnation of Israel’s settlements policy.
Muzaini slams Israeli demolition orders against two schools in Al-Khalil
Palestinian minister of education Dr. Osama Al-Muzaini strongly denounced the IOA for issuing demolition orders against two Palestinian schools, Manezel and Susya, south of Al-Khalil city.
MP Tuteh: The Israeli intelligence told us to evacuate our tent in Red Cross
Palestinian lawmaker Mohamed Tuteh said the Israeli intelligence threatened them over the phone to evacuate their protest tent at the Red Cross headquarters within 48 hours.
Israel hands confiscation, demolition orders in Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces handed confiscation orders to ten landowners in villages near Hebron on Thursday, locals told Ma’an. The troops also handed demolition orders for 14 houses in southern Hebron village Susiya, residents said. Israeli authorities told four landowners in Surif village, which neighbors Susiya, that their land would be seized. The lands belong to Ismael Musa Othman Ighnnimat, Atef Atallah Ibrahim Ighnimat, Mohammad Abdullah Ahmad al-Qadi, and Mohammad Ibrahim al-Hour, a Ma’an reporter said.
Before the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Al Hadidiya, near the Jordan Valley villages of Tubas and Jiftlik, was inhabited by over 100 families. Today, only 14 families remain. Since 1967, the village has been demolished four times, and over 3000 dunums of land, necessary for shepherding and grazing of animals, has been stolen by the nearby settlements of Ro’I and Beqa’ot.
Troops Demolish Another Home In East Jerusalem
Palestinian sources reported that Israeli soldiers demolished, on Tuesday morning, a Palestinian home in the Al Khalayla neighborhood, north of occupied East Jerusalem. The home was the third to be demolished in just 24 hours.
The threat of imminent demolition hangs over the Palestinian village of Al-Hadidiya in the Jordan Valley.
Jerusalem: Violence feared over Mughrabi Bridge closing
Authorities in capital decide to close hazardous walkway connecting Western Wall, Temple Mount; Muslim clerics warn of protests over measure.
EU’s Ashton condemns West Bank mosque attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned the attack on a West Bank village mosque a day earlier, which local officials blamed on settlers. “The High Representative condemns the attack against the mosque of Burqin village in the West Bank on 7 December 2011, in which a flaming tyre was thrown into the entrance of the mosque and the mosque’s walls were sprayed with graffiti,” Ashton’s office said in a statement. “Accountability and the rule of law are essential. Attacks against places of worship are particularly troubling. The EU calls on the Israeli authorities to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the statement added.
Israeli Terrorism / Aggression
Two Palestinian operatives were killed in downtown Gaza city on Thursday in an Israeli aerial raid while two citizens were wounded, medical sources said.
Settlers Open Fire At Palestinian Shepherds Near Nablus
A group of extremist Israeli settlers opened fired, on Thursday, at a group of Palestinian shepherds tending their sheep in the eastern hills of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Witnesses: Israeli troops raid Ramallah villages
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A large Israeli force raided two villages near Ramallah on Thursday morning leading to clashes with locals, witnesses said. Around 300 soldiers in army jeeps, accompanied by bulldozers, entered Deir Ghassana and Beit Rima, ransacking homes and entering mosques in both villages, witnesses told Ma’an.
Israeli soldiers broke into the house of Saher Al-Sous, in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem. Al-Sous is a board member of the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, the founding organization of the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC).
Photostory: The brighter side of Gaza, Sami Kishawi
Photographs taken by The Electronic Intifada contributor Sami Kishawi this summer show the color of everyday life in Gaza.
At first glance, Jenin’s refugee camp seems different from other West Bank refugee camps. The streets are wider, the houses newer, the design of the camp is neater. The scenes of destruction from 2002–when the Israeli army invaded Jenin for 22 days, demolishing almost a third of the homes–are long gone, replaced by the light yellow three-storey houses that were erected in 2006.
Detention / Court Actions / Prisoner Exchanges
An Israeli court sentenced two Palestinian Jerusalemite youths to imprisonment for allegedly planning commando attacks and for raising money for Hamas.
Israeli forces ‘detain PFLP members in Hebron raid’
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Thursday arrested three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine during a dawn raid on Sair in Hebron, locals said. Witnesses told Ma’an that soldiers, accompanied by dogs, ransacked several homes before detaining Mohammad Sharif Abdul Ghaffar Jaradat, 23, Khalil Rateb Jabarin and Rami Shalalda.
Shin Bet Restricts Gag Orders, Detainee ‘Disappearances’, Richard Silverstein
When I first began writing this blog, a question that always nagged at me was: why? Why write a blog? Who does it impact? What does it change? Now, these questions don’t bother me as much. But if I ever needed an answer to them I’d have it now, based on an Israeli security source, who notes that the new Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, has ended (according to his/her claim) the agency’s use of gag orders and “disappearances” of detainees. The new director appears to have learned a lesson his predecessor, Yuval Diskin, did not: that when they engage in such draconian conduct, they only prove the arguments of their detractors, who say they are among the chief violators of civil liberties in Israeli society.
British students reject twinning with Israel’s Hebrew University
Students at Britain’s University of York have rejected a proposal to twin the institution with the Hebrew University in occupied Jerusalem. The vote on the issue was carried out by York University’s Student Union. According to newspaper reports, York student Jacob Campbell proposed the twinning agreement in order to defend Israel and curb what he described as “anti-Semitic” activities in British universities. York University’s Student Union asked its members to vote for or against the proposal, which sought to build links between the student unions of the two universities prior to a full twinning agreement with the Israeli university. The result was that 891 students voted against the twinning proposal, with 144 in favour; there were 127 abstentions. Student leaders said that the quorum for the vote to be carried was at least 5% of the total membership, equivalent to 784 participants. They pointed out that the relatively high turnout of voters reflected the importance of the issue to the students.
“This Is Apartheid” Poster Contest
Art has always been an important part of liberation struggles. It can inspire and convey concepts beyond words.Itisapartheid.org and its primary partner, Lajee Center, are sponsoring a competition for artists and graphic designers who are invited to submit posters on the theme of “Israeli Apartheid.” These posters should reflect the nature, realities, and/or consequences of apartheid policies in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Posters will be judged by a panel of distinguished activists and artists. The winning entries will be featured in an online poster gallery and disseminated widely on the internet and various other venues. Youth from refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank will participate in the contest.
New poster series illustrates trade-offs in sending military aid to Israel
Help us continue to shape the political landscape to end U.S. military aid to Israel by signing up today to educate and organize people in your community. When you do so, you’ll join more than 2,000 people in 49 states and more than 900 cities who have received an organizing packet with fact sheets, flyers, petitions, stickers, and more–everything you’ll need to spark conversations in your community and identify more people who agree with us that we should be funding community needs, not Israel’s misdeeds against the Palestinian people.
Activists Call on Fashion Icon to Sever Ties with Lev Leviev
In November, US Campaign coalition member groups Adalah-NY,CODEPINK, and Jewish Voice for Peace, along with human rights organizations in the UK, called on fashion icon Daphne Guinness and Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to sever ties with Israeli settlement builder and conflict diamond purveyor Lev Leviev. Leviev is a principal sponsor of Ms. Guinness’s current fashion exhibition at FIT. In an open letter to Guinness and FIT, the groups detailed Leviev’s sordid complicity in a multitude of human rights abuses that have led a number organizations and governments to distance themselves from Leviev’s companies. Citing Guinness’s own humanitarian work, the groups implored Guinness to sever all ties with Leviev:
The Dutch Foreign Minister, Uri Rosenthal, who attempted to stifle The Electronic Intifada last year by pressuring on one of its donors, and has directly threatened Dutch civil society for defying his pro-Israel policies, is now supposedly an advocate of “Internet freedom.”
The speed and seriousness with which Telemundo responded to this matter is commendable.
New legislation proposes to restrict call of Muezzin, claims that use of public address system disruptive to residents.
Palestinian journalists’ freedom of speech in Israel threatened by security forces
A new report published by the I’lam Center highlights the difficulties Palestinian journalists face inside of Israel. According to the research, such journalists, who are citizens of Israel, contend with restrictions on their freedom of speech and numerous obstacles that block their professional advancement.
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Senior Israeli army officials say the Israeli government should strengthen the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to avoid Hamas gains in elections next year, the Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv reported Thursday. Israeli officers advocate giving more permits for Palestinians in the West Bank to work in Israel, approving job creation programs and opening more roads between cities in the West Bank, the report says. Coordination between PA security forces and Israel must be preserved, army officers told Maariv, adding that PA forces contributed to the “war on terror” in addition to maintaining law and order. But officers say Israel should focus on civil programs in the West Bank in order to stop Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, gaining a foothold in the West Bank in elections next year, the report said.
Palestinians’ statehood bid part of Christmas (AP)
AP – At Christmas time the world looks to Jesus’ traditional birthplace of Bethlehem, and this year the Palestinians hope to use some of that attention to boost their quest for independence.
Palestinian Authority: Bid for statehood is continuing
Representatives of the Palestinian Authority have announced that they will continue with their attempt to achieve recognition as a state by the United Nations, despite the Security Council’s inability to reach a consensus on Palestinian statehood last month.
Human rights Monitor calls for bringing Obama and Netanyahu to int’l justice
The Palestinian human rights foundation (Monitor)on Tuesday called for prosecuting US president Barack Obama and Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in an international court as war criminals.
Muslim charity leaders lose appeal in Hamas case (Reuters)
Reuters – A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of five leaders of an Islamic charity on charges of funneling money and supplies to Hamas, designated a “terrorist” group following a 1995 executive order by President Bill Clinton.
Palestinian mission considers legal action over ASA censure
Further to my posting yesterday, Palestinian mission breached ASA code by wiping Israel off the map, a spokesman for Palestinian Diplomatic Mission to the UK has been in touch. It followed the censure on the mission by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for carrying an online map promoting tourism that described Israel as Palestine. A mission spokesman emailed me to say: “We are disappointed with the findings of the ASA and are currently seeking legal advice in respect of the decision… The issue will be dealt with legally.”
Netanyahu woos Arab world on Facebook
PM to chat with Arab web surfers on social networks, answer questions about Israel’s policy.
Zionist Rabbi Faces Sexual Charges In Israel
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that a prominent Zionist Rabbi was sent to the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem, on Wednesday, facing charges of sexual assaults against two students who sought his spiritual support.
Political sources in Israel have revealed that the government in Tel Aviv is engaged in discussions with Egypt’s military rulers about reopening it’s embassy in Cairo. According to reports on Israel Radio, it is hoped that new ambassador Yaakov Amitai will be able to start work soon and present his credentials to Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council in Egypt. The embassy was closed after protestors stormed the building in September, after which all diplomatic staff and their families returned to Israel.
General from ruling military says new parliament not representative and will not draft new constitution on its own.
Fox Viewers think Mubarak Still runs Egypt, Juan Cole
A study by Fairleigh Dickenson University researchers has found that frequent viewers of Fox Cable News are worse informed than people who watch no news at all! It is not that Republicans (more likely to watch Fox) are less informed. The researchers took that possible source of bias into account in their finding. No, it is watching Fox itself that makes people more ignorant. The discrepancy showed up in a question on whether the Egyptian protests last February managed to unseat Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Among respondents over all, 21% said that the movement had failed, and 26% said they just don’t know! I don’t know whether it is more unsettling that a fifth of Americans may think Mubarak is still president of Egypt or that a fourth of Americans has no idea whether he is or not!
Hezbollah’s Nasrallah: Our weapons are increasing
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah is well-armed, despite increasing pressure on Syria, a key conduit for weapons to the Shiite militant movement next door in Lebanon.
Analyzing Sayyed Nasrallah’s Speech: Things Moving against Israel’s Wishes
Israeli analysts have considered that Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s stances on the 10th day of Muharram reveal that things are not moving as Israel wants. “Syria will never become an agent to the United States and Israel, and the opposition has failed in toppling the regime; While Hezbollah is still expanding its military power despite the Syrian crisis,” Israeli analysts say.
Australian sentenced to 500 lashes in Saudi Arabia for blasphemy
Mansor Almaribe, 45, of southern Victoria state jailed for a year for ‘insulting prophet Muhammad’ on Muslim pilgrimage. An Australian man has been sentenced to 500 lashes and a year in a Saudi Arabian jail after being convicted of blasphemy, according to officials. The 45-year-old man, identified by family members as Mansor Almaribe of southern Victoria state, was detained in the holy city of Medina last month while making the Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj. Family members told Australian media that Saudi officials accused him of insulting the companions of the prophet Muhammad, a violation of Saudi Arabia’s blasphemy laws.
Saudi Arabians have been shocked and embarrassed by the release of a negative and misogynistic report on women drivers. Women driving has been a controversial issue in Saudi Arabia since 1990 when 47 women got into 14 cars and drove on to a main street in Riyadh. They were stopped, suspended from work for two years and condemned for years in religious sermons and social circles. The last public assault was when Sheikh Mohammed Al Arefe in 2003 objected to the fact that these women were allowed to go back to teaching because he was worried that they would encourage their students to follow in their footsteps.
Saudi Arabia commissions gold-leaf train
Lavish royal locomotive being built for royal family – but 35 public trains will help ease pressure on transport during hajj. It may have been a tough year for Arab regimes facing unprecedented popular demands for change. But King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has signalled serene royal continuity by ordering the construction of a specially equipped private train to whisk him and his entourage between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The luxurious VIP train is being built by the Saudi-Spanish al-Shoula consortium as part of the $9.4bn (£6bn) high-speed Haramain rail project to connect the two cities, revered by Muslims, and Jeddah, the entry point for hajj pilgrims.
Injuries as Bahrain police ‘attack’ protest
Protesters say security forces fired rubber bullets at demonstrators attempting to take back site of Pearl roundabout.
Bahrain drops charges, halts trials of athletes (AP)
AP – Bahrain has halted trial proceedings for over 100 athletes and dropped all charges related to their participation in street protests against the island’s Sunni monarchy.
A massive explosion hit a major Syrian pipeline carrying crude oil to Homs, activists and government news agencies reported on Thursday. “This is the main pipeline that feeds the Homs refinery,” said Rami Abdulrahman an activist in the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Bashar al-Assad Denies Ordering Crackdown in Interview
A defiant President Bashar al-Assad of Syria spoke in a rare television interview to be broadcast on Wednesday.
Syrian blogger arrested as crackdown continues
The arrest of a prominent Syrian-American blogger apparently for her peaceful pro-reform activities is another step backwards for the Syrian regime, Amnesty International said today. Razan Ghazzawi, aged 31, was arrested by Syrian immigration police at the Syrian-Jordanian border on Sunday. She was on her way to the Jordanian capital, Amman, to attend a workshop on media freedom in the Arab world. Born in the United States, but brought up in Saudi Arabia and Damascus, Razan Ghazzawi has campaigned for the release of imprisoned bloggers and activists in Syria during the ongoing popular pro-reform protests and ensuing violent crackdown by Syrian security forces.
Syrian opposition calls for nationwide strike
The Syrian opposition group, the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), has called for a nationwide strike starting Sunday in an attempt to cripple the Syrian regime. The LCC issued a statement on Thursday outlining the details for the “Dignity Strike”, aimed at bringing a “sudden death to this tyrant regime.” “The Syrian revolution is a dignified one, a revolution where every human being seeks his own decent life and free choice,” the statement read. Banners for the strike will be erected in Syria on Friday in a bid to spread the news to villages across the country.
Hamas remains in Syria and has not altered its position
The Vice-Chairman of the Political Bureau of Hamas has questioned the veracity of reports which claim that the Islamic Resistance Movement has changed some of its political stances, is withdrawing from Syria, and is disengaging from links with Iran. Dr Musa Abu Marzouk described such statements as “media reports with no validity on the ground”. He was, he pointed out to Quds Press, “speaking to you right now from Syria”. This was reiterated by Hamas Political Bureau member Izzat al-Rishq, who added that while media analyses are to be expected, rightly or wrongly, the Hamas leadership continues to operate from Syria.
Joe Biden: US is ready to help Syria after fall of Asad
Let us see. We can take the clue from your help to Iraq after the fall of Saddam. We can expect this: shooting at civilians at US-manned checkpoints; incineration of a whole area, like Fallujah; the bombardment from the air of sea of civilian areas; the importation of Al-Qa`idah into Syria; the invasion of US multinational corporations to steal the wealth of the Syrian people; the sectarian manipulation of the the country’s population; the imposition of a regime of terror and torture by US troops; the installation of a cleric as the chief decision maker in the whole of Syria; the dismantlement of the military power of the state to reassure Israel; and most importantly the introduction of the culture of daily car bombs in the life of Syrian people. All that you can expect and more from American offer of help to the Syrian people.
The Plot Thickens: Ghalyoun’s “Ill-Conceived” Statements in the WSJ Interview, Bassam Haddad
[For the text of the interview that the Wall Street Journal conducted with the head of the Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalyoun, click here] Leaving the problematic statements about Iran and Hizballah aside, in whose interest is it for the head of the Syrian National Council (SNC) to talk about how the (possible) future Syrian leadership will or will not pursue its right to restore the occupied Golan Heights territory from Israel? Is this what occupies the minds of protesters who are being shot daily by the Syrian regime? Is this something that will give them an edge in their pursuit of their basic political and other rights inside Syria? Even if statements about the Golan are appropriate, why should such declarations let aggressors off the hook so prematurely, so unnecessarily, so irresponsibly, and so recklessly, by emphasizing ill-conceived “liberal” and “feel-good” language? And where did all this positivity suddenly emerge about Syrian-Western relations?
11 Iraqis Killed, Insurgents Targeting Electrical Grid
At least 11 Iraqis were killed and 17 more were wounded in new violence. Insurgents are now targeting power lines importing electricity into Iraq from Iran. Despite great oil wealth, Iraq has little ability to produce its own electricity, and this had lead to riots, particularly in the summertime.
UN says more than 4,000 people were killed in the 9 month crackdown, but Assad says only a ‘crazy’ leader kills his own people and that most of those killed were government supporters.
US admits losing stealth drone held in Iran
Washington says it fears Tehran may obtain classified information from stealth aircraft that Iran says it shot down.
On Saturday I posted on AEI’s Danielle Pletka surprising admission that a nuclear armed Iran’s threat to Israel wasn’t that it would launch an attack but rather that it could upset the “balance of power” in the region. Mark Wauck responded to the post by emailing me a useful article, The Root of All Fears: Why is Israel so Afraid of Iranian Nukes, by Ariel Ilan Roth, published by the Council in Foreign Relations two years ago; and Roth came to the same conclusion…
Crippling Iran: Questions for Mr. Hague
Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague has written a widely acclaimed 576-page biography of William Pitt the Younger, who became prime minister in 1783 at the tender age of 24. Pitt was the war leader during Britain’s running battles with Napoleon, but it is said that he was uncomfortable in such a role and considered war got in the way of trade and prosperity.
A Response to Cpl, Jeffrey Goldberg on Greenberg, Israel and Torture, Max Blumenthal
After Al Akhbar English published my report, ”The Israelification of American domestic security,” the usual group of anonymous ultra-Zionist trolls began attacking me on Twitter. They didn’t challenge any of the facts I brought forth in my piece — they couldn’t because they were all true — but instead questioned whether Karen Greenberg, who I quoted, would have said such things to me about Israeli influence on American torture policy.
Cynthia McKinney, Former US Presidential candidate, blames the pro-Israel Lobby for ruining her political career, Dr. Hanan Chehata
From the moment that she refused to sign the pro-Israel pledge, claims McKinney, “war was declared on me”. She did not realise the extent to which that was going to resound in her life. “I would get phone calls from people saying they wanted to throw a fundraiser for me and then I’d say fantastic and we’d start planning it and then the question would be asked ‘did you sign the pledge?’” She’d say no and then it was, “well then I can’t do a fundraiser for you.” And that was the way it went. “A lawsuit was filed against the district that elected me. It went all the way up to the Supreme Court.” Later she found out that the Anti-Defamation League, a notoriously pro-Israel group, had been involved in filing the brief: “Clearly, the ADL didn’t forget that I hadn’t signed the pledge.” It was a malicious case, she says, but they won and the district she represented was dismantled and she had to find another place to represent. She was targeted from day one and “even after I left I continued to be targeted”. She feels that part of the reason for this may be because she started her political career so young and therefore her opponents want to make sure that she does not go back into mainstream politics with her outspoken views. She clearly blames the pro-Israel Lobby for ruining her political career; even Ariel Sharon bragged about her political demise when he visited her home state of Georgia. Her opponent was given $100,000 in a single day and Cynthia “ended up getting kicked out of congress for the second time”. The ability of the Lobby to co-opt both Democrat and Republican parties “is significant”, she says.
Fanon appears more current than ever, writes Mireille Fanon Mendès-France. Thanks to his thought, many people have learnt that the fight for liberty, democracy and human rights is led against local despots and against the tenets of the neo-colonial order which they protect.