And other news from Today in Palestine:
Israeli occupation forces severely beat an 11-year-old child while participating in a peaceful march in Ma’sara village, south of Bethlehem, on Friday in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk
Land Theft & Destruction / Refugees
Settlers uproot olive trees near Yatta
Zionist settlers uprooted, on Friday, about 100 olive trees near the town of Yatta, in al-Khalil city southern the occupied West Bank, and ejected the land's owners.
link to www.alresalah.ps
Maha Surougi and Thaer Qasem have lived their entire lives in Syria's largest Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus.
Beirut--It’s official according to the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI will visit Lebanon from the 14th to the 16th September, in just five months’ time. By coincidence or design, the Pontiff’s visit will coincide with the International commemoration of the 30thAnniversary of the Sabra-Shatila Massacre during which Christian militia, facilitated by nearby Israeli troops who had sealed the Palestinian refugee camp, slaughtered more than 3000 unarmed civilians on site—approximately 25 per cent of whom were fellow Lebanese. If the Pontiff accepts the invitation of Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai and stays during his visit in Bkerki, the seat of the Patriarchy, he may or may not be informed that he will sleep close to one of the burial pits where bodies from the 1982 massacre were trucked from Shatila camp.
Israeli troops attacked the weekly Friday protests held in six Palestinian towns and villages. In addition to dozens of demonstrators suffering the effects of tear gas inhalation, three protesters were moderately wounded by steel-coated rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.
link to www.imemc.org
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) severely beat an 11-year-old child while participating in a peaceful march in Ma’sara village, south of Bethlehem, on Friday in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.
Jewish settlers attacked a Palestinian woman to the east of Yatta, south of Al-Khalil, on Friday evening using sharp tools, her brother said.
Jewish settlers from Kiryat Arba settlement in Al-Khalil attacked an old man and his son while farming their land in Al-Khalil, the son told the PIC reporter on Saturday.
Israeli forces raid West Bank civil defense office
QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces raided the headquarters of the civil defense forces in a northern West Bank town on Friday evening, officers told Ma'an. Israeli soldiers questioned two officers in Azzun, east of Qalqiliya, over stone-throwing at Israeli vehicles near the town's main road, they said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said forces investigated two suspects in Azzun after a firebomb was hurled at a junction near the town. The Qalqiliya district command of the civil defense forces condemned the raid as violation of international treaties which protect public emergency services.
IDF failed to investigate why soldier killed Palestinian
Rashad Shwakha, 28, father of a 10-month-old girl, was fatally injured and died in a Jerusalem hospital six days later.
link to www.haaretz.com
Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, has warned of a new and unprecedented drop in the ministry’s stores of medicine.
Most of the residents on display at the Dream Park El Janoob Zoo in Gaza are stuffed animals since live ones are too costly to feed or import. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.
Mohammed Shalade has gone on hunger strike in the Palestinian Authority’s intelligence prison in Al-Khalil since Thursday protesting his incarceration, his mother said.
PA security services launched, yesterday, a wide arrest and summons campaign against dozens of Hams supporters in al-Khalil southern West Bank.
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a Palestinian young man at a roadblock between Yatta village and Al-Khalil after stopping his motorbike, eyewitnesses said.
A massive march hit the streets of Kufr Ra’ee village, south of Jenin, after the Friday congregation demanding the immediate release of hunger striker Bilal Dhiab.
Russian youth groups plan a sit-in rally in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in "Krasnopresnenskaya Zastava" square in Moscow on Saturday to mark the Palestinian prisoners' day.
The union of world Muslim scholars and Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza have called for a single day hunger strike on Monday in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.
Police say hundreds of officers are deployed at Israel's main airport to detain activists flying in to protest Israel's occupation of Palestinian areas.
Fury after Lufthansa cancels activists' flights to Israel
A German airline has been criticized after it banned dozens of activists from flying to Israel this weekend as part of a campaign to highlight the restrictions in movement to and from the occupied territories. Lufthansa canceled the tickets of tens of people scheduled to fly to Tel Aviv on Sunday as part of a mass fly-in dubbed "Welcome to Palestine," organizers said on Friday.
The Welcome to Palestine 2012 campaign has triggered a number of reactions among Jewish groups.
In letter to pro-Palestinian activists, Israel says 'You could have chosen to protest Syrian regime's daily savagery, but instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East's sole democracy'.
Pro-Palestinian activists instructed to arrive at international airports en route to Israel despite airline bans; told not to start riots.
Internal Security Minister Aharonovitch satisfied with foreign airlines that canceled tickets of pro-Palestinian activists, but expects some will arrive in Israel as early as Saturday night.
Sofiah MacLeod - Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign - at Waverley Station, Edinburgh`s main train terminal, a supportive crowd gathered along with pipers and a choir, to give a send-off to Scottish activists flying off tonight. From the exprience of those who did it before, saying the word "Palestine" at the passport control can result in being immediately put in handcuffs and leg-irons and taken to Givon Prison.
"This conversation was a great help to me in understanding the Muslim Arab mindset and culture. Facts are not really so important to them. They can be made up or even changed as needed." "It is unrealistic, in my opinion, to believe that we can turn the Arabs into a society that truly embraces western concepts and values - like facts and sticking to truth."
"How would we like it if some other nation said 'We decided to recognize New York City as your capital instead, so we will build our embassy there?'"
link to news.yahoo.com
Abbas dismisses idea of dismantling PA
In December, 2007, I said goodbye to my then fiance (now husband), and left Palestine for a trip home to the United States. I hugged him goodbye in the streets of Jerusalem, where he had entered illegally to see me off. It was the last hug I gave him for a year and a half. I, too, was in a relationship with an activist, a man committed to justice and liberation. He just happened to be Palestinian.
Why are Palestinians paying for Germany's sins?, Susan Abulhawa
While Palestinians continue to be robbed of their land, heritage and human rights to atone for Germany’s sins, Germany unreservedly supports Israel.
No matter who you are, no matter what greatness you've achieved in your life or what gifts you've given to the rest of humanity, if you criticize Israel, you must expect to become persona non grata. You should expect an utter onslaught of attacks. Otherwise rational and decent people will, one by one, genuflect and sign onto the stupid clichés and tiresome accusations that question your character, integrity and even sanity. You will be called an anti-Semite, or a self-hating Jew if you happen to be Jewish. The Holocaust will be invoked. You’ll be reminded of Hitler and Himmler and Goebbles and perhaps likened to Nazis, or Capos if you’re Jewish. You’ll be accused explicitly or implicitly of secretly supporting the genocide of Jews and having a deep seeded desire for it.
Can't say I'm crazy about the German Nobel laureate's poetry. Much is lost in translation, of course. But the sentiment expressed in 'What Must Be Said' is spot-on. And now that the dust has settled we can marvel at how the avalanche of outraged squawks and screeches sent the needle clean off the Richter Scale of Zionist paranoia. Brave Gunter Grass should wear the insults like a badge of honour. The Jewish Chronicle reported Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying: "His [Gunter's] declarations are ignorant and shameful and every honest person in this world must condemn them." What constitutes an "honest person" in Netanyahu's eyes? Does he know any?
Silence in the face of apartheid is unbearable. We can no longer remain silent nor turn our backs and pretend ignorance to a gruesome occupation of stolen land, the cruelest collective punishment in the open-air sewer prison where Palestinians once lived in peace. The situation has deteriorated as we observe Jewish settlers who spew their hate with such revulsion and racism on Palestinian families, it makes my stomach turn. The United States and Europe (by example, I insist) remain silent, thus complicit, not daring to criticize the holier than thou state of Israel for fear of being called anti-Semite.
Saudi-backed Bahraini forces have clashed with anti-government protesters after the funeral of a slain journalist outside Manama.
The Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead next week as planned, Formula One bosses declared on Friday, despite fears it could be targeted by violent anti-government demonstrations.
The governing body of Formula 1 has confirmed that the Bahrain Grand Prix will continue as planned. Continued unrest and concerns about human rights violations had led to speculation that the race scheduled for April 22 would be called off. Ala'a Shehabi speaks to Al Jazeera from Manama about his conversation with Formula 1 Chief Bernie Ecclestone and the Bahraini youth who have promised "three days of rage" during the event.
Social media users in the Arab world are urging a boycott of the Bahrain Formula 1 race - due to be held on 22 April - in anger at the ongoing crackdown on protesters in the Gulf island.
The talk of Bahrain at present is talk -- the possible renewal of dialogue between the government and the opposition -- but the reality is that street protests, after simmering in outlying villages for months, have begun to heat up in the capital of Manama.
From Angry Arab chief Bahrain correspondent: "You will notice that the Obama Administrations policy towards Bahrain is getting progressively worse. You already posted about the US embassy visiting an injured policemen. Well this week 7 policemen were attacked (wonder why) and the US embassy decided to visit the Prime Minister himself to express concern over the attack. Also look at the white house's latest statement on Bahrain.
Egypt's election commission disqualified 10 presidential hopefuls, including Hosni Mubarak's former spy chief and key Islamists, from running Saturday in a surprise decision that threatened to upend an already tumultuous race and plunge the Arab world's most populous nation into a new political crisis.
Hosni Mubarak's former spy chief said in comments published Thursday that he decided to run for president to prevent Islamists from turning Egypt into a "religious state," and warned that the country would be internationally isolated if one of them won the presidency.
Egypt's parliament voted yesterday to amend the law on political participation to ban high-ranking members of the former regime from running in the presidential elections. The amendment would disqualify Omar Suleiman and Ahmad Shafiq, but will certainly be challenged in court. Today the Muslim Brotherhood has called for a "Defending the Revolution" rally in Tahrir that is really a protest against Suleiman's candidacy. Many youth and protest groups are not participating, though -- they're holding their own rally later this month. The MB is reaping the mistrust it has sowed over the last year. They didn't seem to think the revolution needed any defending when kids were getting maimed and shot and young women dragged across the ground and jumped up and down on by soldiers earlier this year.
Iran’s ambassador to Dushanbe says the Islamic Republic is planning to export gas to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China via a new pipeline.
Istanbul meeting brings negotiators back to table more than a year since previous talks collapsed without agreement.
The Barack Obama administration has adopted a demand in the negotiations with Iran beginning Saturday that its Fordow enrichment facility must be shut down and eventually dismantled based on an understanding with Israel that risks the collapse of the negotiations.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Armed men killed seven Shi'ite pilgrims in ambushes on Friday, police and hospital sources said, in the latest attacks to highlight underlying sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq. Political tensions in the country have been high since U.S. troops withdrew in December, when Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government moved against two top Sunni officials - seeking the arrest of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and the removal of Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.
Gunmen ambushed a police patrol in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing two policemen and three civilians, while a bomb in central Iraq killed an eight-year-old girl, security officials said.
4 others wounded on Saturday when a sticky bomb exploded near a vegetable market in Iraq's mainly Sunni Salahuddin province, local security and hospital sources said. The explosion occurred in the town of Baiji, home to Iraq's biggest oil refinery, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, the sources said. A source in the Salahuddin operations command said the bomb had been attached to a vegetable cart belonging to a police officer who worked at the market when he was off duty.
Key political factions accused the premier of moving towards a dictatorship with the arrest of Iraq's electoral commission chief, a charge the prime minister denied on Saturday.
Both the Sadrists and Kurds have come out against the arrests of two election commission officials who were picked up on corruption charges this week. Meanwhile, at least 13 Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in the latest violence.
The Iraqi parliament is investigating possible corruption in preparations for the Arab summit which Baghdad hosted in March at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, an MP said Saturday.
Saad Tahr Hussein rushes me through the narrow alleyway towards Mutanabbi Street, where the concrete wall in front of the central bank hems in the pedestrians. About a thousand Iraqis briefly see – or don't notice – the sly shade of a Brit as he stumbles down the alley. Then, in the square where the statue of old Marouf al-Rasafi, poet and history-debunker under British colonial rule, glares at the crowds, we turn left into the street of books.
link to english.al-akhbar.com
Syrian troops and rebel gunmen carried out attacks across Syria on Saturday, killing at least nine people in a surge of violence that threatened a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. The bloodshed came as the U.N. Security Council considered whether to send the first wave of military observers to monitor the fragile truce between the two sides.
Syrians voiced hope that a UN-backed ceasefire that came into force Thursday would last, but expressed fear that the government and the rebels were unlikely to commit for good.
The first group of 30 United Nations monitors is expected to arrive in Syria shortly, after the security council unanimously approved their mission. Their role will be to check on the ceasefire as part of the peace plan put forward by UN envoy Kofi Annan. The fighting was supposed to stop last Thursday - but activists have reported more violence and more killing. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from the UN headquarters in New York City.
Council fails to vote on resolution to send advance observer mission into country as Russia objects to US-drafted text.
Jack Serle writes at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have published eight formal reports on Syrian human rights violations since the rebellion began. These have appeared alongside almost daily statements and calls for action over the abuses meted out on civilians. And yet the violence has continued for more than a year. Compiled from interviews with more than 30 witnesses, Human Rights Watch’s report In Cold Blood documents the summary and extrajudicial executions of at least 101 people from the end of 2011 to March this year.
Syria and the Usual Suspects
The usual suspects are at it again — doing their damnedest to escalate a war they have no intention of either fighting in or paying for themselves, and to involve you in it. US Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (of the “Connecticut for Lieberman” Party, in which the ordering of names conveys his boundless sense of personal entitlement) visited Turkey this week for a photo opp with officers of the “Free Syrian Army” and to grandstand for further US intervention in Syria’s year-long “civil” war.
link to www.counterpunch.org
Previous articles stressed Washington's longstanding regime change plans in Syria. Independent sovereign states aren't tolerated. Replacing them with pro-Western ones is policy. All means are used. They include punishing sanctions, color revolutions, violent coups, subversion, cyberwar, targeted assassinations, armed insurgencies, and war if other methods failed.
Amnesty joins calls to free Saudi 'hunger striker'
Amnesty International on Friday called for the release of a human rights activist who has reportedly been on hunger strike in a Saudi jail for five weeks.
link to news.yahoo.com
"The video of American marines urinating on the corpses of Afghan civilians has prompted worldwide outrage, condemnation from the White House and the opening of a federal investigation. CNN's Dana Loesch thinks the whole thing is pretty cool, though. Loesch, the 33-year-old CNN contributor hired last year to offer political analysis for the coming election, is already giving the network their money's worth. Speaking during her own syndicated radio program on Thursday, Loesch discussed the just-surfaced video that shows four Marines urinating on the corpses of slain Afghans, presumed to be civilians. Her own insight seems to be a bit more harsh than the commentary that others are offering. “I’d drop trou and do it too,” Loesch told listeners during the January 12 broadcast of The Dana Show. “I want a million ‘cool points’ for these guys. Is that harsh to say?” she asked. Loesch, who says she was a liberal until the September 11 terrorist attack, added that she had no problem with the act of desecration. “Come on people, this is a war,” she said. On the contrary, even those responsible for continuously waging the deadly operation in Afghanistan have condemned the act portrayed in the video and all the men involved."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of sexual assault cases reported to U.S. military authorities edged up last year, with most involving a member of the armed forces attacking another, the Pentagon said in an annual report released on Friday. The 3,192 cases in 2011 amounted to a 1 percent increase over the 3,158 reported in 2010. Some 56 percent of the cases involved one service member attacking another, 26 percent a member of the military attacking a civilian, 6 percent a civilian attacking a service member and 12 percent an unidentified person attacking a service member, the report said.