Palestinians prepare to lose the solar panels that provide a lifeline
Israel is planning to demolish ‘illegal’ solar panels that are the only source of electricity for Palestinians in West Bank villages. Two large solar panels jut out of the barren landscape near Imneizil in the Hebron hills. The hi-tech structures sit incongruously alongside the tents and rough stone buildings of the Palestinian village, but they are fundamental to life here: they provide electricity. Imneizil is not connected to the national electricity grid. Nor are the vast majority of Palestinian communities in Area C, the 62% of the West Bank controlled by Israel. The solar energy has replaced expensive and clunky oil-powered generators. According to the Israeli authorities, these solar panels – along with six others in nearby villages – are illegal and have been slated for demolition. Nihad Moor, 25, has three small children. The family live in a two-room tent kitted out with a fridge, TV and very old computer. She also has a small electric butter churn, which she uses to supplement her husband’s small income from sheep farming.
Ethnic Cleansing / Land Theft & Destruction / Restriction of Movement / Apartheid
Local official: Army uproots olive trees in Nablus village
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces uprooted olive trees in the Nablus village of Beit Dajan on Thursday, a local official said. Village council head Naser Abu Jesh told Ma’an that Israeli military jeeps accompanied by bulldozers razed 12 dunums of land in the eastern part of the village on the pretext that it is a military zone. The land is owned by Jamal Abu Kanan. Beit Dajan is located next to the illegal Israeli settlement of Hamra.
Israel Police expel Harvard students from Palestinian village
Confrontation occurs after a bus full of Harvard students began traveling along a security route inside the village of Walaja, which is intended solely for Israeli security vehicles.
Jerusalem Mufti calls for an end to ‘Israeli terrorism’ against religious sanctuaries
The Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, has drawn attention to Israel’s continued violation of freedom of worship in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories., Sheikh Hussein asserted that the Israeli government’s recent announcement that it would be closing the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslim worshippers for two days next month because of the upcoming Jewish holidays, is a gross encroachment on religious sanctuaries and the right of Muslims to worship.
Who’s afraid of a Bedouin?, Charlotte Silver
Last June, Israel’s Supreme Court reached a ruling that some saw as a compromise to a legal battle that had lasted nearly a decade. Beer Sheva’s Big Mosque that has been closed to prayer since 1948 would be converted into a museum of Islamic culture. The decision disappointed thousands of Muslim citizens who wished to re-open the Ottoman-built mosque as a place of worship, thereby fulfilling a gaping need: there is currently no public space for Muslims to worship in Beer Sheva.
War on Gaza
Airstrikes target Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israel launched airstrikes on two sites in the Gaza Strip overnight Wednesday, less than 48 hours after agreeing to an Egypt-brokered truce. Witnesses said that Israeli missiles landed on agricultural land, causing a fire and severe damage. No injuries were reported. In a statement, the Israeli army said its warplanes targeted “a rocket launching site in the northern Gaza Strip and a terror tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.”
Death of child raises toll to 26 Palestinians
The number of Palestinian victims who were killed during the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip rose to 26 martyrs after a 7-year old boy died of serious injuries on Wednesday morning.
Israeli artillery shelling targets central Gaza
The Israeli occupation forces on Tuesday night fired a number of artillery shells into the central Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported, according to local sources.
IOF troops fire at funeral in violation of calm
Three Palestinian citizens were wounded on Tuesday at the hands of Israeli occupation forces while participating in a funeral of two martyrs who fell in the Israeli air raid on Monday night.
25 killed due to Israeli attacks on Gaza
Gaza, March 13, This isn’t knew, I know but that doesn’t make it the norm and it shouldn’t be the norm in any way. Gaza survived four continuous days of Israeli attacks that left 25 dead and 80+ injured. Among those injured, some are critical, some are children and some are women. Among those dead there were elderly, women and children. If you have a heart that enables you to claim that children, women and elderly should be killed because they live in Gaza which automatically means they are terrorists, I don’t consider you a human being. Children are children; I would never celebrate the death of Israeli child, ever.
Beit Furik, Nablus: Family unable to attend funeral for son killed in recent Gaza air strikes
“We called him Nassr, but I think his real name was Mahmoud,” says Ahmed while we were on the bus from the Beit Furik municipality building. Outside the bus window, the walls of the little town just outside of Nablus are plastered with freshly printed martyr posters. The picture shows a middle aged man photoshopped between the Dome of the Rock and the Palestinian flag.
The mourning tent of a martyr
Nayif Qarmout was murdered yesterday; he was also buried yesterday, in a small cemetery in the heart of Jabalia, the refugee camp where he lived. He was only 14 years old. He was murdered by an Israeli missile while playing football with his friends. He was a handsome young man, the photo on his martyr posters make that obvious. It was something that I never would have guessed at his funeral, looking at his bloody bruised face. Today, Nayif’s family mourned. The reception line of men lining the entrance to the mourning tent was the most shattered group of men I have ever seen. Their faces were blank, dead, as though Nayif was not the only murdered yesterday. Nayif’s photo was on the wall, he looks so young, a child just turning into a man. We sat down and ate dates as a young man brought coffee around. Nayif’s uncle, Abdullah came over to talk to us.
For Three Days the Fire Blazed, Tamar Fleishman – The West Bank
Since Talat Ramia’s murder tranquility had yet to be restored to the streets of Ar-Ram. For the past three days the younger residents had been going out to the streets and protesting against the murder of their friend, while the army pushes them back with a barrage of fire and gas grenades. “He was only twenty five, from a very poor family, his brother is the one who cleans cars at the checkpoint…”, said my friend A’ who added: “Even though I didn’t know him very well, I wanted to cry when they told me the soldiers had killed him for no reason, really it was for no reason…”
Under the Rubble of Gaza, The Real Reason Israel Attacks
Joharah Baker – MIFTAH – Israel wants one thing, into which it pours all of its military, political and diplomatic efforts to achieve, which is to prevent a Palestinian state from ever coming into being. This has been the case ever since Israel’s creation in 1948 over the ashes of what was Palestine. And it is the case today; its recent invasion of Gaza is just one more piece to the quickly forming puzzle.
Other Israeli Violence
IOF troops storm West Bank areas
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Al-Khalil and Jenin provinces at dawn Thursday and rounded up three youths in Dhaheria village, local sources said.
Witnesses: Israeli troops raid Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided Tulkarem at dawn on Thursday, locals told Ma’an. Soldiers stationed themselves in a southern district of the city and checked locals’ ID cards, witnesses said. No detentions were reported. An Israeli military spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Siege of Gaza
Occupied Lives: Switching off hospitals
The reality generated by Israel’s longstanding illegal closure, the international sanctions against Gaza’s authorities, and political in-fighting between the Ministries in Gaza and Ramallah, has resulted in a fuel and electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. Consequently, water and sanitation installations, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities are facing severe difficulties in providing basic services to the people of Gaza, undermining the right to health and the right to life. Such problems have been a consistent feature of life in the Gaza Strip since the current closure was imposed in 2007.
UN expert urges Israel to free female
A United Nations human rights expert has urged the Israeli regime to free Hana Shalabi, a Palestinian female prisoner, who has been on hunger strike since being rearrested by Tel Aviv about a month ago.
A message from #HanaShalabi’s family 14 March 2012
“We call upon the Palestinian National Authority, all Palestinian national factions and all Palestinians to go to the streets and participate in the support action planned on Saturday March 17 in solidarity with our daughter Hana Al-Shalabi and all administrative detainees. We will continue supporting our daughter’s hunger strike and we want to let our daughter Hana know: we are with you in your hunger strike until you achieve your demand; your immediate release from the unjust Israeli jails. Your support to Hana is necessary to achieve Hana’s immediate release; it is also needed to support our daughter in her open hunger strike which she has started on February 16, 2012. Finally, we call upon all administrative detainees to join Hana’s hunger strike until you achieve your own immediate release and put an end to the unjust Israeli policy of administrative detention which violates human rights and International law.”
Detainees / Political Prisoners
IOF soldiers round up 12 Palestinians
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up 12 Palestinian citizens in the West Bank provinces of Ramallah, Al-Khalil, and Qalqilia at dawn Thursday, local sources said.
Israeli troops re-arrest Palestinian freed in Shalit deal
Israeli troops have re-arrested another of the Palestinians released in October under a swap deal with Israel, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said on Tuesday.
Political detainees in PA jail threaten hunger strike
Political detainees in the Palestinian Authority jail in Jericho are threatening to go on hunger strike if court orders for their release were not carried out.
Palestinian prisoners to launch open hunger strike next month
Wa’ed society for detainees and ex-detainees said the Palestinian prisoners coordinated their efforts to start the largest open hunger strike next April in all Israeli jails.
Solidarity / Actvism / BDS
“I can’t take part in these crimes”: Israeli refusenik interviewed, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
Eighteen-year-old Noam Gur, the first Israeli to reject mandatory military service this year, speaks out about refusing to partake in Israel’s ongoing crimes against humanity even if it means jail time.
“Diamonds Crafted in Israel Should be Banned”
The International diamond-regulatory system set up to end the trade in blood diamonds is under pressure to ban diamonds from Israel because human rights activists state they are funding the Israeli military.
AICinema 15.3: Screening of Film Roadmap to Apartheid
Please join us at the AICinema on Thursday 15 March at 8.00 p.m. for an Israel Apartheid Week screening of Roadmap to Apartheid, together with the film’s directors.
AIC Video: Women and Resistance
Suha Barghouti is the Chair of the Palestinian NGO network, and a long-time human rights activist.
In anticipation of the Global March to Jerusalem on Palestinian Land Day (March 30), a new album called “Jerusalem for Us All” brings together tracks donated by a score of international artists working in hip hop, jazz, rock, folk, and a variety of classical cultural traditions.
Iranian Athletes Support Global March to Jerusalem
As people from all over the world belonging to different types of religions have decided to show their support for the valiant nation of Palestine and Al-Quds, a large number of well-known Iranian athletes voiced support for the Global March to Jerusalem. Since around 65 years ago, Palestinian territories were occupied by the usurper Zionist regime and millions of innocent people were forcefully displaced from their motherland, the statement said, and added with the wave of Islamic Awakening, which has swept through the Middle East and North Africa, now it is the time for the Muslims people in the world, specially the Palestinians, to rise against the Zionist occupiers and get rid of oppression and tyranny.
South African-Palestinian music video celebrates common struggle against racial intolerance, Ali Abunimah
In a first ever musical collaboration between South Africa and Palestine, South African band, The Mavrix and Palestinian Oud player, Mohammed Omar, have released a music video called “The New Black.”
Political Developments / Diplomacy / Other News
Malaysian FM: No relations with Israel
Malaysian foreign minister Hanifa Aman has affirmed that his country’s policy would not change regarding establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.
Turkey’s Erdogan: Israel must stop ‘massacre’ of Palestinians in Gaza
Turkish PM’s comments came as Egypt mediates tense ceasefire between Israel, Gaza militants, and as Israel warns its citizens against travel to Turkey over imminent terror threat.
Turks outraged by Israel’s travel advisory
Turkish elements claim Israeli decision to warn tourists against visiting Turkey motivated by desire for revenge over Erdogan statements.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas’ leadership in the Gaza Strip is unlikely to follow through on its end of the reconciliation deal with Fatah anytime soon, a senior party official said Wednesday. The party’s external leadership agreed in Qatar to implement the deal in a joint announcement by politburo chief Khalid Mashaal and Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, disappointing the leadership in Gaza. But a top official in Hamas’ leadership in Gaza said the movement is unconvinced by Fatah’s assurances. For example, it continues to arrest Hamas members in the West Bank. This is in contrast to Gaza, he said. Mashaal is trying to persuade Hamas in Gaza to agree to implement the deal, and that is why he requested a delay from Abbas, according to the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Abed Rabbo: Unity deal may ‘fade away’
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo said Thursday that the national unity agreement will “fade away” without public pressure. Speaking to Ramallah-based Voice of Palestine radio, Abed Rabbo blamed Hamas for the failure to implement a reconciliation agreement signed last May to end years of division between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The territories have been governed by rival administrations since 2007 when Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip
Haneyya invites Clinton to Gaza to witness Israel’s atrocities
Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya called on US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to visit the Gaza Strip to see the enormity of Israel’s war crimes.
Katsav refuses to supply DNA sample to police
Former president, currently serving 7-year jail sentence for rape, declines to provide police with DNA sample for national criminal database.
Noam Schalit: If I were Palestinian I’d kidnap soldiers
Former kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit’s father Noam said Wednesday that if he was Palestinian he would try to kidnap IDF soldiers. Schalit, who is running for a Knesset seat with the Labor Party, paraphrased former Labor leader Ehud Barak, who shocked many people when he told anti-Israel activist Gideon Levy in a 1998 interview that if he were Palestinian, he would have joined a terrorist organization.
Analysis / Op-ed
‘WSJ’ runs 4 letters rebutting Oren’s claims on Palestinians, Philip Weiss
Our top story today is Fida Jiryis’s piece rebutting a Wall Street Journal article by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren bragging on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Well, amazingly, today’s Wall Street Journal features four letters, including one from Jiryis, taking sharp exception to Ambassador Oren’s op-ed.
The myth of Israel’s favorable treatment of Palestinian Christians, Fida Jiryis
Amb. Michael Oren’s article, ‘Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians,’ presents Israel as a tolerant, dove-like, and peaceful democracy. This is belied by the facts. I am one of those Palestinian Christians living inside Israel to whom Oren refers. At no time in my life have I ever felt the ‘respect and appreciation’ by the Jewish state, which Oren so glowingly references. Israel’s Christian minority is marginalized in much the same manner as its Muslim one or, at best, quietly tolerated. We suffer the same discrimination when we try to find a job, when we go to hospitals, when we apply for bank loans, and when we get on the bus — in the same way as Palestinian Muslims.
Israel’s Atom Bomb Factory in 3D, Juan Cole
An Israeli news magazine report in 3D animation on Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility, which produces enough plutonium every year to make another 10 nuclear weapons (Israel is thought to have 400 atom bombs, among the biggest stockpiles in the world). The report is based on the information given by nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, treated by Israel rather as Bradley Manning has been treated by the US.
NGO Monitor uses fake Martin Luther King Jr. quote in latest “anti-Semite” smear, Ali Abunimah
Extreme anti-Palestinian group NGO Monitor is disrespecting the late US Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. and perpetrating a fraud by disseminating a fake quote in an attempt to smear people as anti-Semites.
The killing of Zuhair al-Qaissi exposes Israel’s attitude to its supreme court, Mya Guarnieri
Did the Palestinian leader killed by Israeli forces plan an attack? Without transparency, there’s no accountability to the court. The recent escalation between Israel and Gaza began after Israeli forces assassinated Zuhair al-Qaissi, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a militant group composed of members of various Palestinian parties. Haaretz noted that the PRC was “the organisation that captured Gilad Shalit”, the Israeli soldier who was freed in October 2011. The army says that al-Qaissi was behind the August 2011 attack that took place on the Israeli-Egyptian border – even though the PRC denied involvement and it was later revealed that the militants came from Sinai, not Gaza.
‘NYT’ coverage of Gaza attacks downplays civilian suffering, Alex Kane
Ethan Bronner may be on his way out, but the New York Times’ habitual deference to the Israeli government’s line isn’t about to leave with him. The latest example: Isabel Kershner and Fares Akram’s coverage of the recent Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip.
Israeli democracy, or the lack thereof: a conversation with Alternet’s Joshua Holland, Max Blumenthal
I recently spoke to Alternet’s Joshua Holland about law and politics in Israel. Our conversation focused on the image of Israel as a Western style democracy coping with legitimate security concerns versus the reality of Israel as an ethnocratic state managing its demographic peril through authoritarian measures approved by the Jewish majority. The discussion can be heard here. Below is a transcript via Alternet.
Video: Ali Abunimah discusses Gaza attacks, Hillary Clinton, Hana Shalabi on Democracy Now, Ali Abunimah
The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah appeared on Democracy Now this morning to discuss Israel’s extrajudicial executions and attacks in Gaza and reports of a ceasefire, Hillary Clinton’s support for armed struggle, the ongoing hunger strike of Hana al-Shalabi, now in its 27th day and the Harvard One-State Conference.
A Farewell to a Purity of Arms, Richard Lightbown
In response to the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip Hillary Clinton repeated the political mantra “Israel has the right to self-defence”. The statement is absolutely true of course, but that right does not allow Israel to commit offensive strikes on its neighbours or to get its retaliation in first. Nor does it permit attacks on civilian areas, and under no circumstances does it legitimize the use of experimental weapons in civilian areas (to which I shall return later).
Silent Palestinian Warriors, Ramzy Baroud
On March 8, Palestinian women rallied in Gaza and Ramallah to mark International Women’s Day. Activities were held in various cities, villages and refugee camps. Women in Palestine are united by a shared struggle, untold hardship, and also a legendary ability to withstand, survive and flourish under the harshest of circumstances.
Motherhood Celebrated in Irish, Palestinian War Literature, Yousef M. Aljamal – Gaza
Gaza Center for Political and Development Studies (CPDS) held Tuesday, March 13 a lecture on Palestinian and Irish Women in War Literature, delivered by Dima T. Tahboub, comparative literature professor, with the presence of Palestinian activists and students. The lecture began with an opening speech by Dr. Mahmoud Alhirthani, CPDS chairman, in which he welcomed the guest and stressed the importance of the topic being discussed. The lecture quoted Chinua Achebe’s saying “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”, in reference to the history of the occupied people being defamed by their oppressors. She continued, “If we have stories, people know us. We are what we say. We are the story we tell”.
We ask you to arm Gaza too, Abdel Bari Atwan
We ask you to arm Gaza tooNews about Israel’s latest killing spree against the people of the Gaza Strip has only occupied a small amount of airtime in the news bulletins of Arab TV stations. This is a source of great anger, especially when those channels are in Arab Spring countries seeking to restore dignity and freedom for their people. It begs the question of what is going on in our region, and what is being decided for our people behind closed doors. Aren’t the Arabs supposed to be as one body? Isn’t it forbidden for anyone to shed Arab blood, especially the Israelis?
Targeted Killings: US and Israeli Specialties, Stephen Lendman
International law permits justifiable self-defense. Targeted killings are prohibited, especially premeditated ones like America and Israel repeatedly commit for reasons other than claimed. These incidents constitute cold-blooded murder. US drone killings and rampaging death squads, as well as Israel’s deplorable history and latest ritual slaughter highlight the issue. International law prohibits anticipatory self-defense. It amounts to using force to deter it.
‘Price Tag’ Transforming Israel, Jamal Kanj
‘Death to Christians’ and ‘death to Arabs’ was scrawled in Hebrew last week on an old monastery and properties of Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem. On February 20th a Baptist church was defiled with graffiti insulting Jesus’ mother. Earlier in the same month, an 11th century Greek Orthodox Monastery was desecrated. The work carried the hallmark signature of ‘Price Tag.’
Finding Hope At Occupy AIPAC, Tom Compton
How can one start to describe the events, emotions and encouragements experienced at the 2012 Occupy AIPAC event in Washington, D.C., timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the most powerful foreign lobby in the United States, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Occupy AIPAC was organized by the fearless ladies of Code Pink and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a coalition of over 350 activist organizations around the U.S., dedicated to fighting for peace and justice for Palestinians in Israel and around the world.
Mourners attacked at Bahrain funeral
Mourners at the funeral of a 22-year-old man killed by security forces were attacked shortly after they buried his body on Tuesday, activists have said. Saida Fadhel Mirza al-Obeidi died on Saturday, nine days after being hit with a canister of tear gas fired by security forces, opposition activists said. Doctors said his skull was fractured and he died later of his wounds.
Bahrainis hold anti-regime demo in Diraz
Bahraini protesters have held a demonstration against the ruling Al Khalifa regime in the northwestern village of Diraz, Press TV reports.
Bahrain nurses condemn Saudi invasion
Bahrain’s Nursing Association has begun a week of resistance against the Saudi invasion of the country on the first anniversary of the arrival of KSA troops to help Manama in its brutal crackdown on protests.
Bahrain rejects “enemy of the internet” claim
Bahrain rejected on Wednesday a new report by an international media watchdog describing the Gulf Arab state as an “enemy of the Internet” after it crushed a pro-democracy uprising last year. “Bahrain offers a perfect example of successful crackdowns, with an information blackout achieved through an impressive arsenal of repressive measures,” the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a report published this week.
Report: U.S. asked Russia to warn Iran of ‘last chance’ to avoid military strike
Clinton reportedly told her Russian counterpart to rely message to Tehran that it must engage in talks with world powers or face a military strike within months, according to Russian daily Kommersant.
Poll shows only 25% of Americans support military assistance for Israel against Iran
A poll conducted in the United States has revealed that only 25 per cent of the American people back US military support for Israel if the latter declares a military strike on Iran. The poll was carried out by the Anwar Al-Sadat Foundation for Peace and Development and the Programme on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland. It noted that half of all Americans (approximately 49 per cent) are in favour of a neutral position by the US if Tel Aviv goes ahead with a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities; 27 per cent believe that the United States should make concerted efforts to stop a war; 22 per cent think that their country does not have to get involved at all.
Maariv Reports Cabinet Favors Iran Attack, U.S. Delivers Iran ‘Final’ Ultimatum, Richard Silverstein
Just when you thought it was safe to come out from your air raid shelter after Bibi returned from his U.S. foray to stoke up war fever, Maariv raises the temperature to a boiling point. Ben Caspit reports (Hebrew) that the cabinet now has, for the first time, a majority (eight votes for, six votes against) favoring the measure. This means that theoretically Bibi can begin an attack at any time. Of course, it could mean something different: it could mean the cabinet has approved a strike at any point in future with Bibi determining the timing. So it doesn’t necessarily mean the F-16s will fly tonight or tomorrow.
Saudi protests spread to different cities
Protests have spread to a number of cities in Saudi Arabia following the suppression of a demonstration held by female students at a university last Wednesday, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said on Tuesday. The Cairo-based NGO released a statement saying the anger of students has spread and “gone beyond [the city of] Abha to larger parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” where “several protests have taken place in the cities of Riyadh, al-Namas, Ar’ar, Qatif, and al-Rabeeah.”
Saudi heir receives officials after test in US
The state media in Saudi Arabia says Crown Prince Nayef, who is heir to the aging king, has received the country’s senior officials in the United States, where he’s been undergoing medical tests.
Syria Puts On Mass Rally in Support of Assad
On the one-year anniversary of protests that marked the start of the uprising in Syria, thousands gathered in the capital of Damascus Thursday to rally for the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
2 Syrian dissidents quit opposition council
Two prominent Syrian dissidents said Wednesday they have quit the main opposition group that emerged from the year-old uprising against the regime in Damascus in protest over what one of the men described as an “autocratic” organization.
Russia says it won’t intervene militarily in Syria
Russia is providing Syria with weapons to fend off external threats but has no intention to use military force to protect Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Russian foreign minister said on Wednesday. Sergey Lavrov said that Russia isn’t supplying any arms that could be used against protesters, and issued a moderate criticism of Assad for being slow to conduct vital reforms. “We are selling weapons to Syria for its national defense, national security,” Lavrov told lawmakers in the lower house of Russian parliament.
Syrian regime gains momentum against rebels
The Syrian army has recaptured most of the northern rebel stronghold of Idlib near the Turkish border, pushing hundreds of military defectors out of a major base they had held for months even as pockets of resistance keep up their fight.
Syrian refugees flee to Turkey after Idlib recapture
Roughly 1,000 Syrian refugees, including a defecting general, have crossed into Turkey in the last 24 hours, a day after government troops retook the rebel stronghold of Idlib near the Turkish border, Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Thursday. “The number of Syrian refugees currently staying in Turkey boomed by 1,000 in a single day and climbed to 14,700 total,” ministry spokesperson Selçuk Unal told reporters in Ankara, on the one-year anniversary of the Syrian revolt. The latest wave of arrivals crossed the border to join rebel forces which have a base in Turkey’s Hatay province on the border with Syria, according to Unal. “With the Syrian general who arrived yesterday, we now host seven generals on our side of the border,” he said.
Syrian athletes on ‘war crimes’ watch
Syria could send eight athletes to the 2012 Olympics, but IOC chief Jacques Rogge has warned that if those competitors are implicated in war crimes, they will be banned from entering London.
“Assad has killed so many people that he deserves a fate worse than Kadhafi’s,” spits Ammar al-Wawi, a one-time Syrian officer now second-in-command of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
In 2008, Iraqi activist and journalist Hana Ibrahim fled her home in Baghdad to Damascus, taking her two children with her. They had grown up under sanctions and war, and had as such never enjoyed the level of security they found in Syria. But even that has become a thing of the past.
Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has repeatedly called for the Druze of Sweida in southern Syria to join the anti-Assad uprising. Jumblatt’s overtures, however, have so far fallen on deaf ears.
Lebanese Druze Clergy to Jumblatt: Not in Our Name
Walid Jumblatt’s relationship with the spiritual authorities within the Druze community is temperamental. The sheikhs are partners when they share Jumblatt’s view on a particular decision, and when the clerics defy the lord of Mukhtara, suddenly it is all about socialism and the separation of politics and religion. Today, Jumblatt and the Druze clergy are on opposing sides of the Syrian crisis.
Assad’s Frustrated Foreign Enemies, Ibrahim al-Amin
Various parties have been assessing the outlook for the crisis in Syria based on the evidence on the ground. The domestic scene is set to remain polarized for a long time. National understandings that can restore the country’s political unity and a cohesive national identity cannot be expected any time soon. The external scene has meanwhile become more complicated in light of the intensifying battle between the two camps over who will take hold of Syria, or who will wield the most influence in it.
Al-Jazeera’s Identity Crisis
Nowadays, it has become commonplace to hear comments such as these: You cannot be serious asking me about a story whose source is Al Jazeera! Is it reasonable to base your case on a news item from Al Jazeera? Do you feel comfortable within yourself working for Al Jazeera? Can you speak your mind or register your objections if you work for Al Jazeera? Do you really waste hours of your time watching Al Jazeera?
Fighting from civilian areas? Perfectly understandable– in Syria, Philip Weiss
From a story about Syrian violence on NPR Monday night: “Melissa Block speaks with Al Jazeera correspondent Anita McNaught about Syria’s governmental crackdown on Idlib. She was there over the weekend, and is now in Antakya, Turkey, on the border with Syria.”
Other Arab / World News
StratforLeaks: Google Ideas Director Involved in ‘Regime Change’
Top Google execs, including the company’s CEO and one of Barack Obama’s major presidential campaign donors Eric Schmidt, informed the intelligence agency Stratfor about Google’s activities and internal communication regarding “regime change” in the Middle East, according to Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks and obtained by Al-Akhbar. The other source was Google’s director for security and safety Marty Lev.
Jeremy Scahill: Why is President Obama Keeping Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in Prison?
The Obama administration is facing scrutiny for its role in the imprisonment of a Yemeni journalist who exposed the U.S. role in a 2009 bombing in Yemen that killed 14 women and 21 children. In January 2011, a Yemeni state security court gave the journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a five-year jail sentence on terrorism-related charges following a disputed trial that was condemned by several human rights and press freedom groups. Within a month of Shaye’s sentencing, then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he was going to pardon the journalist. But Saleh changed his mind after a phone call from President Obama. Thirteen months later, Shaye remains behind bars. We speak award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill and Mohamed Abdel Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Amnesty International to Clinton: No more aid for Egypt
The State Department is getting ready to decide if Egypt has done enough to earn its $1.5 billion in U.S. aid for this year, and one leading human rights organization is telling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the answer is no. “Amnesty International USA is deeply concerned about the ongoing repression of the Egyptian people by the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt,” the advocacy group wrote in a Wednesday letter to Clinton. “Given the human rights violations in Egypt, the US State Department cannot in good faith certify to the US Congress that the Egyptian government is protecting human rights.”
Kuwait to probe torture and corruption allegations
The Kuwaiti parliament voted on Wednesday to set up probes into allegations of corruption, smuggling and torture, the state KUNA news agency reported. Members of the new opposition-dominated parliament agreed to set up two commissions of inquiry into allegations of corruption relating to members of the previous parliament, KUNA said. Former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a member of the Gulf emirate’s ruling family, is accused of having transferred hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds into private accounts he held abroad.
Maid in Lebanon abuse video kills herself
Suicide comes days after footage emerged of Ethiopian woman being violently dragged on Beirut street by male employer.
Outrage over rape victim suicide in Morocco
Morocco’s internet activists mobilized on Wednesday in outrage over the suicide of a 16-year-old rape victim who killed herself after she was forced to marry her rapist.