Israeli officer threatens to rape Palestinian activists in custody (if this happened in Syria it would be headline news)

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Israeli police brutally arrest hunger strike demonstrators, threaten them with rape, Sawsan Khalife
Thaira Zoabi, a 27-year-old activist from Nazareth, also suffered injuries at the hands of police on 3 May. “As soon as the protest began, the Israeli Yassam and police forces first arrested the bus driver and eight protesters. That did not stop us from continuing our protest demanding to release them all,” she said. “I was first attacked by a police officer when he lifted me up the ground with my kuffiyeh [traditional checkered scarf] that was around my neck, suffocating me and making it hard for me to breathe. They arrested me and eight other protesters. There were also Israeli and foreign activists amongst us. “The Israeli forces used [taser guns] and I have bruises on my arms and legs. I saw them open a protester’s mouth by force and spit in it, and they spit in my face as well. They beat us and used massive verbal violence. They did a full body search. While being under custody, a police officer of Ramle district addressed both me and another female activist while being cuffed with verbal sexual harassment, threatening to rape us. I have to admit I burst in tears.”

Palestinian Hunger Strike

Israel: Stop Jailing People Without Charge or Trial
Israel should immediately charge or release people jailed without charge or trial under so-called administrative detention.

Israel facing major West Bank uprising over Palestinian hunger strike
Israel has been warned that it faces a major uprising in the West Bank after six Palestinian prisoners taking part in one of the largest and most protracted hunger strikes ever staged in its jails were said to be close to death. 

Reports indicate that progress in negotiations has been made, though hunger strike to continue as a number of issues remain unresolved.
Palestinian officials said on Saturday they expected a breakthrough soon on efforts to end a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israel, some of them close to death. But Amin Shoman, head of a monitoring group of Palestinian political factions, said that if Israel gave a negative response, prisoners would intensify their fast and break off further talks with prison authorities. ”The prisoners will stop taking vitamins and water and stop negotiations with the Israel Prisons Service if they get a negative answer,” he said.
Palestinian hunger strikers ‘in danger’
At least six out of 2,000 hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails at imminent risk of dying, lawyers say.

The Palestinian Center for Defending the Detainees (PCDD) issued a press release stating that, contrary to certain media reports, no agreement has been reached between the hunger-striking Palestinian detainees and the Israeli Prison Administration.
Prisoner Jamal Al-Hawr said strikers might escalate their strike soon and refrain even from drinking water if the Israeli prison authority did not respond to their just demands.

Detained MP Natshe loses 15 kilograms of his weight
MP Mohammed Jamal Al-Natshe has lost 15 kilograms of his weight in the hunger strike he has been waging along with hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation jails for 26 days.

Hunger strikers stop to take vitamins from Israeli jailers

The Palestinian center for the defense of prisoners said the hunger strikers in Israeli jails started on Wednesday to refrain from taking vitamins sent by their jail administrations.
Thaer Halahleh’s letter to his daughter: “My Beloved Lamar…Forgive me”, Linah Alsaafin
On his 75th day of hunger strike, Thaer Halahleh sends a heartbreaking message to his 2 year old daughter Lamar: “Lamar my love: I know that you are not to be blamed and that you don’t yet understand why your father is going through this battle of the hunger strike for the 75th day, but when you grow up you will understand that the battle of freedom is the battle of going back to you.”

JENIN (Ma’an) — Hunger-striker Bilal Diab has sent a will to his family in the northern West Bank on his 75th day without food, relatives said on Saturday. Diab, 27, has refused food since Feb. 29 to protest his detention without charge in Israeli jail. His family, from Jenin-district town Kufr Rai, said they received his will on Saturday detailing his wishes in case of his death.
EMOHR calls for UN human rights council’s session on hunger strikers
The Euro-Mediterranean observatory for human rights (EMOHR) called on the member states of the UN human rights council to request a special session addressing the issue of Palestinian hunger strikers.
Khudari calls for urgent Palestinian unity to support prisoners
Independent Palestinian MP Jamal Al-Khudari has championed speedy unity of Palestinian ranks to support demands of prisoners in Israeli occupation jails.

Abdullah al-Barghouti Solitary Confinement Prisoner #2
“To see my children is tastier than food, and being with other human beings is more stimulating than drink” Abdullah al-Barghouti is on hunger-strike to obtain a mere fraction the rights he is entitled to as a human being and as a father. He has been prohibited from seeing his family since he was arrested over ten years ago and has remained in solitary confinement for the same duration.

Israeli Attacks on Solidarity Protests for Hunger Strikers
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) mainly quelled Palestinian protests, organized in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, over the past week, an international report said.
Four casualties in IOF quelling of March including child, foreign activist
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) violently suppressed a rally in Beit Ummar village, to the north of Al-Khalil, on Saturday injuring four participants including a child and a foreign activist.

In Beit Ommar, Israeli soldiers entered the town in the afternoon and occupied several people’s homes, firing teargas and rubber-coated bullets at the children in the street. In the evening, villagers marched in the town.

12 Jerusalemites injured in Israeli quelling of their march
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired rubber bullets and teargas at a march for relatives of Palestinian prisoners and supporters in Abu Dis east of occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday night.

Support and Solidarity for Hunger Strikers
The Electronic Intifada Weekly Podcast – 10 May 2012
This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast: Up-to-date coverage of the ongoing hunger strike protests by thousands of Palestinian prisoners; Linah Alsaafin and Asa Winstanley report from the West Bank on prisoner solidarity actions; and much more.
The liberated captive, student Fatima Zahra Sidr, said that the occupation is unable to confront the Palestinian prisoners’ strong will and their determination to carry on their battle.
Youth protest by Red Cross, UN offices in Gaza Strip
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Dozens of Palestinian youth held demonstrations outside the offices of international organizations in Gaza City on Sunday morning, calling for a stronger stance in support of hunger-striking prisoners. Protesters blocked employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Development Programme from accessing their offices for two hours, witnesses said.
Palestinian youth lead united solidarity with hunger strikers
On the 17th of April, Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, 1500 prisoners held in Israeli jails began a open ended hunger strike  protesting the use of administrative detention, strip searches, the denial of access to education, the prevention visits, and demanding an end to solitary confinement and other human rights abuses practiced in the Israeli jails. The strike is an inspiring act of national unity against the Israeli occupation – there are representatives from all Palestinian political factions involved, with a united representative leadership.The Palestinian community has united to support the cause of the hunger strikers. There have been mass demonstrations in city centers, and at checkpoints and along the Wall, as well as demonstrations in front of the prisons on an almost daily basis.

Some 12,000 people attend rally organized by Islamic Movement in village of Qana in support of security prisoners staging hunger strike. ‘Prisoners will be triumphant,’ says deputy head of Islamic Movement’s northern branch.

Reaching a new height in protests supporting the 2,500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, thousands demonstrated in cities across the West Bank yesterday. Marches were held in Hebron, Kafr Qaddoum, Nablus, Nabi Saleh, Ni’lin, Ramallah, al-Walaja and outside of Ofer prison.


Every day the support for the Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails spreads, creating national unity in solidarity with their protest. As groups across Palestine show their support, it becomes more apparent how pivotal this strike is in terms of the wider struggle – it is becoming a rallying point, a symbol of national cohesion reminiscent of the Intifadas. Despite internal disputes, unity is being displayed by Palestinians across the country in the face of Israeli occupation and repression of all shows of support of the prisoners. Momentum is building on the back of the “War of Empty Stomachs”, a war being raged to gain the recognition of rights guaranteed by International Law, but denied by the Israeli occupier.

Protest in East Jerusalem against Judaization of the city and in support of the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners
Photos by Lazar Simeonov.   On Friday, 4 May 2012, approximately 75 demonstrators gathered outside Damascus Gate in the old city of Jerusalem to protest Israel’s occupation at large and its facilitation of home evictions and settler take-overs in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Today, May 12, 2012, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists joined together for the weekly demonstration in Beit Ommar. Today’s demonstration was in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Nakba. Khader Adnan, who was released from administrative detention on April 17th, 2012 and was on hunger strike for 66 days, also took part in the demonstration.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A group of young protesters demonstrated in Bethlehem on Thursday to show support for prisoners on hunger strike, a Ma’an correspondent said. The demonstration was a youth initiative to support prisoners in their battle for dignity and freedom, protesters told Ma’an. Demonstrators wore black clothes and carried the Palestinian flag.
On Friday, May 11, 2012, Palestinian, Israeli and international activists gathered outside Ofer prison in Ramallah to protest in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Over two hundred activists came and joined the demonstration. Israeli soldiers shot countless canisters of teargas at the demonstrators, as well as skunk water and rubber-coated and plastic-coated bullets. The activists set over a dozen tires on fire, creating a thick wall of smoke that made it difficult for the soldiers to see the demonstrators, so the soldiers shot into the crowd at random. Over 20 people were taken into the ambulances, and at least one was taken to the hospital.
AMMONNEWS – Ghalib Barghouthi, an engineer whose son Abdullah is serving 67 life sentences in an Israeli prison, on Thursday said he had not seen his son in 15 years.  “The Israeli authorities do not allow us to visit him,” Ghalib told The Jordan Times during a demonstration held by members of the Jordan Engineers Association to express solidarity with Jordanian and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who are on hunger strike. He indicated that his son was arrested because he joined his fellow Palestinians to fight Israelis when the second Intifada broke out in 2000.
Solidarity and human rights activists Elizabeth West and Domenica Bianca have initiated a new project, Fasting on Fridays (see the Fasting on Fridays website:, calling for international solidarity with the Karameh Hunger Strike by fasting on Fridays. Fasters will engage in 24-hour fasts each Friday (May 11, May 18, May 25 and June 1) or until Palestinian prisoners achieve their demands and end their hunger strike. The site provides instructions and information about conducting a 24-hour fast, as well as an opportunity to sign a Pledge to Fast. The fasting project began yesterday, Friday May 11, with eight fasters, who are updating their experiences via this blog. Fasters are encouraged to sign on from around the world and join the project.
Turkish rally supports Palestinian striking prisoners
Turkish demonstrators marched in downtown Istanbul on Friday in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for almost four weeks in Israeli occupation jails.


Malaysian support to the prisoners’ issue
The Malaysian people and the Arab and foreign communities in Malaysia showed great support for the Palestinian issue during the Palestine Week event in Kuala Lumpur.

Continuing sit-ins in London in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners
The PFB organized, on Wednesday, a sit-in outside the Israeli embassy in London as a part of continuing solidarity activities in support of Palestinian prisoners which started two weeks ago.
Hunger Strike Analysis / Op-ed
The hunger strike launched by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails created a large splash into the stagnant waters of Palestinian politics. It has forced voices to come forth from the monotonous silence, in an attempt to create a tune that is at once different and authentic. The strike in which thousands of Palestinian prisoners are now participating was initially characterized by a profound paradox. 
A critical shift in the Palestine-Israeli conflict is now underway. The shift promises an endgame for the Israeli plot in Palestine, and a possible collective response from the Palestinian people. Every Palestinian uprising in the past — from as far back as the late 1920s to the second Intifada in 2000 — has been sparked by a single event, which was a critical accumulation of numerous prior events that forced Palestinians to act en masse. Such a moment is now approaching.

Empty Stomachs, Palestinian Spring, Patrick O. Strickland
Following the examples of Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, 1,500 Palestinian prisoners have joined a mass hunger strike campaign inside Israeli military prisons. They are calling for an immediate termination of the policy of administrative detention and the excessive use of solitary confinement, and demanding humane living conditions, family visits, and reasonable access to educational materials.


Land, Property & Resource Theft & Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Restriction of Movement / Refugees

European Union to slam Israel’s actions in West Bank
Netanyahu envoy Isaac Molho delivers letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Most ministers oppose legalization of West Bank outpost
High Court of Justice gave the government until July 1 to demolish five homes built on Palestinian-owned land in the neighborhood, near Ramallah in the West Bank.


Settlers Steal Palestinian Farmlands Near Bethlehem
A group of armed extremist Israeli settlers occupied at gunpoint privately-owned Palestinian farmland that belongs to a resident of Al-Khader city, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Battir, West Bank — One of the last Palestinian farming villages that still uses irrigation systems from Roman times says its ancient way of life is in danger as Israel prepares to lay down its West Bank separation barrier. With construction possibly beginning in the coming weeks, the people of Battir hope a legal battle, backed by recent U.N. recognition of the village’s agricultural practices, will help change Israel’s mind. Battir’s 6,000 inhabitants live in limestone-faced houses built into a hillside southwest of Jerusalem. On the lands around the homes, stone retaining walls have transformed scrubby hills into orderly terraces of olive trees and vegetable gardens.

This must-see video chronicles the continued displacement of the Jahalin Bedouin community. The Palestinian-Bedouin communities live in the hills to the east of Jerusalem and have been forcibly evicted time and again. The community was issued eight eviction orders by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) last Sunday May 6th and was scheduled to be evicted today. This morning, 20 minutes before the demolition order was to go into effect, they got a notice of delay from the court. This is a temporary injunction preventing the demolition of homes.

Israel is planning to revive a controversial form of collective punishment by razing the family homes of two Palestinians convicted of murdering Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
The recent escalation of Israeli attacks on Muslim and Christian religious sites in Palestine, including Jerusalem, other cities in the occupied West Bank and the area occupied in 1948, can be viewed as part of Israel’s assault on all things Palestinian since 1967. It is a war declared by Israel and waged by the occupation authority’s military and security forces as well as the illegal Jewish settlers. The latter form the spearhead of attacks against mosques with the cooperation and support of military personnel. Although the Israeli occupation authority describes such attacks as “criminal activity”, in reality they are attacks of a religious and socio-political nature.

Islamic-Christian body calls for urgent action to deter settlement escalation
The Islamic – Christian Commission in Support of Jerusalem warned of the occupation authorities’ settlement activities that have been escalated recently, especially in Jerusalem.

Visiting the Institute for Middle East Understanding site this morning I recognize the friendly familiar face of blogger/activist Morgan Bach in this video by Haitham Katib. It’s self explanatory.  As thousands of Palestinians protested all across the region yesterday in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strikes, settlers continued their scorched earth policy this week. And so the actions of Israel’s armed forces perpetuates the toxicity of the occupation both literally and figuratively in Bil’in…
The 9th May marks the 22nd day of the Palestinian prisoners mass hunger strike. Today as with every day, the prisoners’ families and friends met at Nablus Prisoners’ tent in a show of solidarity, paying respect to their sons, brothers, daughters and sisters suffering in Israeli prisons in conditions which constantly violate international laws. Said al Kabi, 54, is just one father whose anguish is worn on his worried face. He has suffered greatly, lost many family members and both of his legs to the illegal Israeli occupation. His son, Jawad al Kabi, 26,  is sentenced to 13 years in prison and has now served six of them. Said lost both his legs in 1967. One morning whilst going out in his tractor to farm his land as usual, Said turned down a dirt road and hit a land mine left by the Israeli army. In 1984 a demonstration in Balata Refugee Camp claimed the life of Said’s mother. The demonstration was to resist the occupation but tragically Said’s mother was shot in the heart and died immediately. Ten years later, in 1994, Said’s brother was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper, also in Balata Refugee Camp.
Insight from the Palestinian Diaspora
“Eventually, nobody prevents me from returning to my country and living in a place we always dreamed of.” These are the words of Fath Hamdan, a Palestinian from the Diaspora living in Palermo, Italy. He left his hometown Tulkarem almost 30 years ago, and defines himself as an “advantaged” migrant since he became easily integrated into the new environment and he has the legal right to return and live in Palestine anytime. The following interview is a brief account of his experience as an economic migrant living in Italy and his perspective about the future in the Occupied Palestinian territories.

1948 Arabs to stage events and general strike on 64th Nakba Anniversary
The Arab political parties and popular committees in the 1948 occupied lands decided to form a committee to make outstanding preparations for the 64th anniversary of the Palestinian nakba.

Sabeel, Code Pink, the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs, and several other organizations are sponsoring a Nakba remembrance outside the White House next week. The groups are hoping for 500 to attend so as to commemorate every village extirpated.
Palestine Nakba 64 Years Later, Jamal Kanj
Each year on May 15 Palestinians commemorate the Nakba or Catastrophe. On that May Day, Palestine ceased to exist from the world’s map and 85 percent of its natives were evicted from their historical homes and villages. The expulsion of Palestinians was part of Zionism’s early obsession with creating a nation with a Jewish majority. Their increasing preoccupation with changing the population demography in Palestine was envisaged by the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in the late 1800s. In his writings in 1896 Herzl, founder of WZO foretold expelling “… the poor [native] population across the border unnoticed.”

Siege on Gaza
Minister seeks halt to Gaza gas supply over local shortage fears
Speaking ahead of the cabinet vote on preparations for summer power shortages, Minister Gilad Erdan asked ministers to support his proposal according to which any initiated power shortage in Israel would mean that Israel halts the power supply to Gaza. In a communiqué sent to the ministers Erdan said: “This isn’t a sanction against Gaza or against its residents, rather it is a basic move that is demanded when fully recognizing the truth of ‘the needy of your city come before those of another.'”,7340,L-4228200,00.html
Abd al Moti stares vaguely from the deck of his fishing trawler moored in Gaza Harbour, just at the peak of the fishing season, as the fuel crisis has all but grounded the entire Palestinian fishing fleet. ”It’s the first time in the 20 years that I’ve owned this trawler that you can find me on the dock,” Abd al Moti says. “I should be out at sea with my men. Missing the fishing season is a disaster.”
UN official: Gaza does not receive the required attention
The new Director of operations of Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees “UNRWA”, Robert Turner, said he will launch a campaign to draw attention to the difficult conditions in the Gaza Strip.
Over the past few days, the question of whether sale of goods from Gaza will be allowed has seemed more relevant than ever following the reported rise in tomato prices (Hebrew); the response of the Israeli Vegetable Growers Association that it does not oppose the marketing of tomatoes from the Gaza Strip in Israel, and; theend of the season for agricultural export from the Gaza Strip to Europe. We decided to try and provide some answer to the main questions on the topic.
Israeli Violence / Past War Crimes
A Jewish settler attacked and beat up a Palestinian Jerusalemite on Wednesday night claiming he tried to assault him.

The failure to properly investigate and punish injustices in the Samouni family case is a crime itself.
Shaul Mofaz, Netanyahu’s new partner, ordered ‘revenge’ op that killed Palestinian police in 2002, Alex Kane
Mofaz was also one of our crueler defense ministers – no less than 1,705 Palestinians were killed on his watch, including 372 children and teens and 191 targeted killings: that is no great honor, either. True, those were the days of the second intifada, but Mofaz was also one of the fathers of the doctrine of targeted killings, which has been completely forgotten. He was also the one heard whispering into a microphone that Yasser Arafat should be expelled from Ramallah, another genius idea at the time. ”I thought we should strike very hard,” he told the Winograd Commission investigating the Second Lebanon War, and in so doing said everything there was to say about his doctrine of warfare and his military-political creed. Perhaps he has changed his mind since then, but it is up to him to prove it, and he has not yet done so.

Detainees / Political Arrests
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday arrested four men in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, a security source said. Forces arrested Nizar Guadreh, Qadre Seedan, Sati Awawdeh and a fourth man, a security official told Ma’an. They were transferred to Jericho prison, he added. The official did not disclose the reason for the arrests. 

Israeli soldiers and Policemen arrested, on Thursday, two Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem under the claim that they stabbed an Israeli person several days ago, inflicting injuries.

Other Prisoner News
Haneyya: Important development in Egyptian talks with Israel on prisoners
Gaza premier Ismail Haneyya said in a statement on Saturday that important developments had occurred in the Egyptian talks with Israel over the issue of Palestinian prisoners.
Other Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Ashraf Abu Rahmeh, a leading figure in the weekly demonstration in his village of Bil’in, was released last month on 15 April  after spending six and a half months in Israeli prison. Every Friday, demonstrations in Bil’in are held to protest the Israeli illegal separation wall which is built on the lands of the villagers. The land is used to build Jewish-only settlements. Ashraf was arrested on 21 October 2011 during one of the weekly Friday protest just outside Bil’in. He was charged with participating in illegal protests (all protests inside the West Bank are illegal according to the Israeli occupying force and Military Order No. 101) and throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, despite video evidence that prove the contrary. Ashraf spent the first three months of his detention without seeing a lawyer. When he finally had access to one, Ashraf was given a further three months of administrative detention. Defiantly, Ashraf told the judge: “I don’t care how much you charge me, and for how many times because you arrest and charge people without any reason.”
UK students slam anti-Palestinian policy
More than 100 student leaders in Britain have signed a letter condemning a recent decision by Zefat Academic College that prevents Palestinians from running for the role of president in Student Union elections.

Normalizers / PA Collaborators
Abbas is upset because Israel won’t give him weapons to repress Palestinians: Mahmoud Abbas Says Israel Is Hindering West Bank Security
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority said Israel was withholding authorized weapons, and he expressed worries about a widespread prison hunger strike.

See above: PA security services take measures to prevent a third intifada
PA security services held a meeting at the beginning of this week where they discussed the solidarity activities in support of the striking prisoners for the fourth week running.
Ignoring boycott calls, Algerian author Boualem Sansal will be a “guest of honor” at Israel’s International Writers Festival in Jerusalem as Palestinians commemorate Nakba.
Former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Ekrima Sabri criticized a controversial visit by Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa to al-Aqsa Mosque, saying it was wrong both religiously and politically. “On the religious level, one should not deal with, support, or recognize the enemy,” Sheikh Sabri said in an interview with Al Arabiya’s “Noqtat Nezam” (Point of Order), scheduled to be aired on Friday. Defenders of Gomaa’s visit to Jerusalem have cited the Prophet Mohammed’s visit to Mecca while the city was under control of the tribe of Quraish , his enemy at the time. But Sheikh Sabri rejected this comparison saying: “When Prophet Mohammed went to Mecca, it was not under occupation while Jerusalem is.” Sheikh Sabri said from a political perspective Gomaa’s visit implied the recognition of Israeli’s occupation.

Zionist Racism & Bigotry
Arab-Israeli drivers denied access to Kirya canteen
After Japanese defense minister’s convoy parks in military compound, security guards instruct Arab drivers to remain in their vehicles; Jewish drivers allowed to do as they please.,7340,L-4228214,00.html
Next week, StandWithUs and the UC San Diego pro-Israel student advocacy group, Tritons for Israel, will host a rather mysterious campus event.  According to a speaker contract SWU uploaded to the web in March, it is a conference called, Rescuing Human Rights, featuring the Wall Street Journal’s leading anti-jihadi columnist,Brett Stephens, necon legal scholar Avi Bell who was one of the Goldstone Report’s harshest critics, anti-jihadi “human rights” lawyer Brooke Goldstein, and the anti-jihadi Muslim activist Zuhdi Jasser.  He was the founder of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, and featured star of several Clarion Fund Islamophobic films including Obsession and Third Jihad.
Political “Developments” / Other News

The diversion of US government weapons-grade uranium to Israel

Since the mid-1960s law enforcement and regulatory agencies suspected a small nuclear processing facility in Pennsylvania had illegally diverted U.S. government-owned weapons-grade nuclear material into Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.  The Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation received start-up capital organized by a mysterious former smuggler with deep and ongoing ties to Israeli intelligence.  FBI investigations revealed NUMEC President, Zalman Shapiro also had repeated unexplained interactions with Israeli intelligence and organized a joint venture with the primary front organization of the Israeli nuclear weapons program.  According to a 2001 US Department of Energy report, NUMEC still holds the record for the highest losses of bomb-grade material of any plant in the United States.
The U.S. House of Representatives Defense Appropriations Subcommittee approved over $948 million in funding for Israel’s various anti-missile defense programs, chief among them the Iron Dome. Approximately $679 million of the funding will go to the Iron Dome, thanks in large part to legislation initiated last month by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairwoman and ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively. The remaining $269 million will go to Israel’s other anti-missile initiatives: the short-range David’s Sling ($149.7 million), and the current long-range Arrow anti-ballistic missile system and its successor the Arrow 3 ($119.3 million).  These projects, unlike the Iron Dome, are joint Israel-US projects. While the increase in funding for the Iron Dome was expected, with the Department of Defense stating in March that it “intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity,” the funding for the other projects represents an increase of $169 million over the Obama administration’s proposed number.

UN ambassador, at Boca Raton synagogue, asserts U.S. solidarity with Israel

The Obama administration is committed to preserving the “unshakeable bond” between the U.S. and Israel and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, UN Ambassador Susan Rice told a crowd of about 500 at a synagogue west of Boca Raton.
A Palestinian official said that Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday evening in Ramallah to submit a letter regarding the possibility of substantive talks. Molcho’s letter is a response to a note that Palestinian negotiators gave to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month clarifying their positions if talks were to resume. 

Both sides issue rare joint statement, saying they are committed to achieving peace through “exchange of letters”.
Riad Malki says new Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at UN is ‘imminent’; Netanyahu envoy to deliver letter to Abbas urging renewal of peace talks.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Fatah central committee member said Friday that a new government would be announced sometime this weekend during a meeting of the party’s leadership in Ramallah. Mahmoud al-Aloul told Ma’an that he was not slated for the post of deputy premier, despite rumors, on the sidelines of a demonstration in Walaja village near the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath made a number of visits in Gaza City on Saturday, officials said. The Fatah international relations coordinator is in the Gaza Strip heading a delegation of party officials tasked with organizing party affairs, as well as meeting leaders of rival party Hamas. Shaath on Saturday visited the sister of Yasser Arafat, Khadija Al-Qudwa, and the Ata orphanage run by his wife Raja Abu Ghazaleh Shaath, officials said.  The delegation arrived in Gaza on Wednesday, after spokesman of the Hamas-run government in Gaza Tahir al-Nunu said premier Ismail Haniyeh welcomed the Fatah officials to Gaza in a phone call with Shaath.
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Saturday called for unity between Palestinian factions during the mass hunger-strikes in Israeli jails. The group said in a statement the new Israeli coalition government will not advance the cause of peace, but only increase extremism and settlement building. It condemned settlements as a “war of ethnic cleansing and apartheid,” saying the original inhabitants of Jerusalem are being silently expelled from their land. 
During former president’s rape trial, the Kiryat Malachi mayor said he hoped Katsav would be proven innocent.
Analysis / Op-ed
By once again demonstrating Congress’s bottomless cup of munificence for Israel, actions this week by the House of Representatives make painful across-the-board budget cuts more likely. U.S. taxpayers will be even more complicit than before in bankrolling Israel’s nearly 45-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Additionally, the American “generosity” will shred whatever little credibility the United States has left in attempting to portray itself as an “honest broker” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on an equitable basis. And urging new weapons systems for Israel could help facilitate an attack on Iran. 

Questioning US-Israel relations 
How are US-Israel relations affecting foreign policy in the Middle East?

American Presidents have long been criticised for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. So what happens if American Jews fall out of love with Israel? That’s what the Jewish American academic Norman Finkelstein claims is happening. He says they are now so unhappy with what Israel is doing that they want to distance themselves from the country. But then he is nothing if not controversial. He, after all, is famous for accusing Jews of exploiting the Holocaust. And his actions have so incensed Israel it’s banned him from entering the country. Could he be right and if he is what does that mean for Middle East policy?
The Red and White Bird in Gaza, Mats Svensson
The young girl from Gaza tells me how she yearns for the red and white bird. It used to come every morning to the little veranda where her mother served a breakfast of bread, tea, water and fruit when the weather was good. Each morning her father left to look for work in Gaza City, and sometimes he was successful. Most of the time he came home late at night. She used to throw out a few seeds or bread crumbs to the red and white bird. It came every morning at the same time, as if it had its own clock. They used to have breakfast together.

Bean Counting States, Sam Bahour
As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict faces hunger strikes and the threat of renewed conflict, the question being tirelessly reiterated is whether a two-state solution is beyond us. The answer is “Yes” and “No.” But counting the number of states required for bringing about a final status solution is entirely misguided.

Haaretz Publishes Pseudonymous Apologia for Torture, and They’ll Make You Pay to Read It, Richard Silverstein
Imagine you’re the op-ed page editor of the NY Times and a CIA torturer comes forward who wants to publish an anonymous op-ed not just defending torture, but arguing that any and all acts in which he engages should be retroactively approved by the State and its judicial bodies.  In other words, he’s arguing that every torturer who ever works for the security services should begin his career knowing that any act of torture he commits will automatically offer him immunity from prosecution.  All this on the grounds that the good he does for his fellow citizens and the State far outweighs any harm done.

Israeli Air Force seeks to replace pilot judgement with “ethical algorithm”, Richard Silverstein
Among the worst of Israeli journalism there’s a sort of gung-ho, testosterone-infused reporting style about military and security stories that makes my blood curdle.  It’s super-credulous about virtually anything and everything offered by security sources.  Examples of this sort of journalism can be found in the reporting of Eli Lake, Ami Issacharoff, and now Amir Mizroch.  He’s the editor of Yisrael HaYom’s (Bibiton) English edition, who does some freelancing for Wired.

On Wednesday evening, May 9, Ido Aharoni, the Israeli consul general in New York, spoke at Ansche Chesed, a Conservative synagogue on New York’s Upper West Side to which our family belongs. I attended with two aims: to see how members of our quite liberal but strongly Zionist congregation responded to the talk, and secondarily to ask a question or make a comment if the audience turned out to be too willing to swallow what I was sure would be a large dose of Israeli hasbara. I was pleasantly surprised on several counts.
On Monday, Akiva Tor, Israeli consul general of the Pacific Northwest, shed more light on the bitterness Israel feels towards the Arab Spring in a lecture at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Although the event was supposed to focus on the implications of political shifts in the region for Israel, Tor used the event to scapegoat the Palestinians for the stagnant peace process while all the audience wanted to talk about was Iran.
Thanks to Audrey Jacobs of StandWithUs, I’ve managed to confirm that the far-right Israel advocacy group is indeed sponsoring Rescuing Human Rights, and that the program will feature four controversial figures in the national anti-jihadi movement. This event is part of Israel Awareness Week on campus. This in turn is directly connected to Israel Apartheid Week held at the same time. One of SWU’s key missions is to take the pro-Israel message directly to those it considers enemies on campus. Getting in the face of campus Muslim or Palestinian groups is SWU’s stock-in-trade.
Tumultuous Israeli Politics Will Not Usher Peace, Ramzy Baroud
Israel is currently experiencing the kind of turmoil that may or may not affect its political hierarchy following the next general election. However, there is little reason to believe that any major transformations in the Israeli political landscape could be of benefit to Palestinians. Former politicians and intelligence bosses have been challenging the conventional wisdom of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through a series of charged statements and political rhetoric.

Demographic Majority: At What Cost?, Jamal Kanj
In the US, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish Human Rights organization, prescribes racial integration, equality and multiculturalism for America society. ADL and other Jewish organizations work closely at local levels with school administrators throughout the US educating young children the virtues of tolerance and multiculturalism.

Imagine a world plunged in darkness and extreme cold with the sunlight screened off by a thick pall of dust cloud. Imagine a world flung back into chaos. This is an image conceived of a world abandoned to dereliction by doomsday weapons. According to Samson Option theory, Israel reserves the option to retaliate massively with nuclear weapons when its existence is gravely endangered by the military might of another country although the regime refuses to admit to the possession of a huge nuclear arsenal.

A Tipping Point for Israel, Philip Giraldi
A tipping point is where physical momentum, inclined in one direction, reverses its course, stabilizes, and then begins to move the opposite way. Those of us who have been arguing for a sane United States foreign policy in the Middle East have well understood that the odds on shifting the prevailing narrative have been heavily against us thanks to the overwhelming resources possessed by a powerful domestic lobby. Ten years ago in America, it was impossible to place even a letter in a mainstream newspaper or magazine that was in any way critical of Israel. Apart from Pat Buchanan, no one on television provided a critique of Israel and its policies. In the U.S. media, Israel was ever the beleaguered little democracy surrounded by savage Arabs.
Israelis barely had time to absorb the news that they were heading into a summer election when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday pulled the rug from underneath the charade. Rancourous early electioneering had provided cover for a secret agreement between Netanyahu and the main opposition party, Kadima, to form a new, expanded coalition government.
Film review: Palestinians in Israel honored in debut comedy feature, Maureen Clare Murphy

The under-recognized steadfastness of Palestinians who clung onto their land in the areas of Palestine upon which the State of Israel was declared is lovingly praised in Sameh Zoabi’s lighthearted debut feature Man Without a Cell Phone.


Stephen Walt: Iraq, Iran and the Israel Lobby
Harvard Professor Stephen Walt giving his recent Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture, titled Deja Vu All Over Again?: Iraq, Iran and the Israel Lobby.

Long Live “Our” Gulf Bastards, Pepe Escobar

Life is a golden gift from Allah if you’re a certified member of the Gulf Counter-Revolution Club (GCC), also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council; Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can torture, kill, repress and demonize their own subjects – in full confidence the “master” will let you get away with it.



US resumes arms sales to Bahrain
The US partially resumes sales of weapons to Bahrain, but says it is excluding equipment that can be used to suppress protests.
Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa came to Washington this week to attend his son’s college graduation, but he left with hands full of gifts from the U.S. State Department, which announced new arms sales to Bahrain today. The crown prince’s son just graduated from American University, where the Bahraini ruling family recently shelled out millions for a new building at AU’s School of International Service. But while he was in town, the crown prince met with a slew of senior U.S. officials and congressional leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain, as well as several other Washington VIPs.

The Lede Blog: Protests Over Arms Sales to Bahrain
Activists in Bahrain denounced the measure, as demonstrators descended on the country’s capital city to protest the government’s detention of political prisoners.

In Bahrain, anti-regime protesters have once again come under attack by Saudi-backed forces across the tiny Persian Gulf Kingdom.

Bahraini security forces fires tear gas and birdshot on Saturday to disperse protests staged in Shiite villages in solidarity with jailed opposition activists, witnesses said.

Bahrain police attack protesters as crackdown continues
Bahraini police fired tear gas and birdshot during overnight clashes with protesters demanding the release of jailed activists, opposition leaders said, as an intensified month-long crackdown continued. The attacks against protesters in villages around the capital Manama started when hundreds of demonstrators flooded the streets chanting anti-regime slogans and calling on the authorities to release the prisoners, including human rights leader Nabeel Rajab.

Gulf leaders will discuss a proposal for a closer political union among them that could begin with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the Bahraini information minister said on Saturday.

Expecting, wanting or relying on Americans for anything is a mistake: Clinton must do more to support Bahrain democracy: opposition
A leading Bahraini opposition figure has called on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to do more to support the country’s pro-democracy movement, after she met with the Gulf state’s rulers amid ongoing protests. Clinton held talks with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in Washington on Wednesday and urged Bahrain to take further steps to tackle continuing human rights abuses. Mattar Ebrahim, a leading member of the opposition Al-Wefaq party, said Clinton was merely talking about human rights, but had done little to force the government to make concessions.

Bahrain delays medics’ retrial until June
A Bahraini defense lawyer says the retrial of 20 medical professionals on allegations of aiding the Gulf kingdom’s uprising has been adjourned for a month.

Watch Jordanians interrupt Bahrain’s Minister of Culture

Anti-Bahraini rally held at UK PM office

Supporters of the Bahraini uprising have rallied at British Prime Minister’s office in London condemning the Queen’s invitation of the Bahraini dictator for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

You wouldn’t think Bahrain and Syria were much linked. Both are Arabic-speaking countries, though about half of Bahrain’s residents are non-citizen guest workers who speak anything but Arabic. One is a geographically fairly large country of some 23 million abutting the eastern Mediterranean. The other is a set of tiny islands in the Mideast’s Gulf. But Bahrain and Syria are tied in destiny, since they are numbers 5 and 6 of the series of Arab Spring countries that staged major rallies against their government. (The successful such movements were Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen). Bahrain and Syria are in some ways mirror images of one another. Syria has a Shiite, secular ruling elite and a Sunni majority that is treated like a minority. Bahrain has a Sunni ruling elite and a Shiite majority that is treated like a minority. Syria is backed by Russia and Iran, and has given the Russians a naval base on the Mediterranean at Tartous. Bahrain is backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia; it has given the US a naval base as HQ for the Fifth Fleet at Manama, and has garrisoned 1,000 Saudi troops on its soil.


Egyptian paper al Aheam claims Cairo, Jerusalem to sign deal on Saturday that will see Israeli citizen Ouda Tarabin freed in exchange for 63 Egyptian prisoners held in Israel.

Egypt ends curfew around defence ministry
Egypt’s military rulers lifted on Friday a curfew around the defence ministry in Cairo that was imposed after deadly clashes ahead of this month’s presidential election, state news agency MENA reported.

Cairo contacts Tel Aviv for release of Egyptian prisoners in exchange deal
Diplomatic sources have revealed that the Egyptian government has contacted its Israeli counterpart to strike a deal for the release of its nationals being held in Israel’s prisons. At the same time, Cairo is hoping to obtain information about the health of those Egyptian prisoners who have gone on hunger strike as part of the general protest by Palestinian prisoners. Human rights reports suggest that 65 Egyptian prisoners are taking part in the hunger strike in protest against the conditions of their imprisonment.

Egyptian presidential candidates agree Israel is an enemy
The two leading candidates to become Egypt’s first democratically elected president both stated that Israel is an enemy of the country during a heated televised debate on Thursday. The country has a long-standing peace treaty with the Jewish state, but since the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last year there has been increased pressure on Egyptian leaders to abandon the pact.

U.S. urges Egypt’s candidates to respect Israel peace treaty; military rulers lift Cairo curfew
The United States on Friday welcomed Egypt’s televised presidential debate as a “good and healthy thing,” while implicitly urging the candidates to respect the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty as the country’s military rulers lifted a curfew around the defense ministry in Cairo.

Egypt’s Presidential Duel an Epic Moment (Video)
Millions of Egyptians were glued to their TV sets on Thursday evening, 10 May 2012, watching the first-ever televised debate between the two presidential candidates leading opinion polls in recent weeks. The live telecast—two weeks before the country’s first multi-candidate Presidential elections—was an opportunity for Egyptians to learn more about the two expected election front runners‘ visions for “the new Egypt” and hear their stances vis-a-vis issues like security and the relationship between religion and the state. More importantly, Egypt’s  independent media broke significant new ground in Arab media election coverage by sponsoring the debut high level face-off between liberal diplomat Amr Moussa (a former foreign minister and Arab League Secretary General) and moderate Islamist Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh. The debate was shown simultaneously on privately owned channels ONTV and Dream, in collaboration with co-sponsors El Shorouk and AlMasry AlYoum, independent dailies.

The Lede Blog: Live Updates on Egypt’s Presidential Debate
Two of the leading candidates to be Egypt’s next president square off in a televised debate on Thursday evening in Cairo, and The Lede will report on the clash between Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Amr Moussa, a former diplomat under Hosni Mubarak, as it unfolds.

Egyptian prison authorities “sexually assaulted protesters”
Women protesters and rights groups have accused Egyptian troops and prison authorities of sexual assault during the latest crackdown on demonstrations, reviving allegations they are using abuse to intimidate female detainees and protesters. The charges made on Wednesday added new tension to Egypt’s presidential election campaign, just two weeks before the voting. More than a dozen women were among more than 300 protesters detained following a protest outside the Defense Ministry in Cairo last weekend.

Women who accuse military of sexual assault seek limelight, general says
Military judicial chief Major General Adel al-Morsy dismissed as false rumors that women arrested during Abbasseya protests last week were sexually harassed by security forces or forced to undergo virginity tests. “The females were referred to the military prosecution without investigations by the authorities who arrested them while they were assaulting security forces at the Defense Ministry,” Morsy said in an interview with CBC satellite channel on Wednesday, according to state-run news agency MENA.

In prisoners’ long plea, empty stomachs raise the case
Laila Soueif, a long-time Egyptian activist in her 50s and assistant professor at Cairo University, chuckles softly and humbly at the suggestion of being interviewed as a hunger striker for a piece prompted by the mass hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails. “What I did was nothing compared to the Palestinians,” she says. Her action was taken out of prison. Nevertheless, she agrees to talk about her thoughts on and the experience of hunger striking for 22 days in response to her son and fellow activist, Alaa Abd El Fattah, being imprisoned and tried by a military court last year.

Mosireen, “Egyptian Workers Speak Out”
“What were the reasons for this revolution if not for us to have a voice, to establish our worth, our dignity, to feel like we’re humans, with the right to say yes or no?”



U.S. Vice President Biden: No options off table on Iran nuclear program
Republican Jewish Coalition blasts Biden over comments suggesting previous U.S. administration shares blame for Iran nuclear program

Biden to Israel: Bomb Away!, Nima Shirazi
Speaking to an international assembly of 1,600 conservative rabbis in Atlanta todayself-proclaimed Zionist Joe Biden said that Israel still had time to attack Iran if it so chooses. “The window has not closed in terms of the Israelis if they choose to act on their own militarily,” the Vice President told the congregation. “I would not contract out my security to anybody, even a loyal, loyal, loyal friend like the United States.”

Iran: Free Students Jailed for Speaking Out
Iranian authorities should immediately free dozens of university students currently behind bars solely for peacefully expressing political opinions, and end harassment of student activists on university campuses throughout the country. Human Rights Watch issued the call as part of a joint campaign initiated by Iranian and international student and rights groups to highlight the government’s systematic crackdown against university students for their political activism.


7 Dumped Bodies Found in Iraq
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi’s trial was postponed for a second time as his lawyers continued to argue for a venue change. At least seven bodies were discovered while four Iraqis were also wounded.
Iraq’s Maliki Forced to Reinstate His Deputy PM
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was forced to reinstate Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq after trying to sack him. Meanwhile, only two Iraqi deaths were reported.

Iraq’s fugitive VP has medical checks in Turkey
Iraq’s Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who faces trial in absentia in Baghdad on charges of running a death squad, has undergone “routine” medical checks in Turkey, his office said on Friday.

Turkey refuses to extradite wanted Iraqi vice-president
Turkey will not extradite Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tariq Hashemi, who is being tried in absentia in Baghdad accused of running a death squad, its deputy prime minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday. “We will not extradite someone whom we have supported since the very beginning,” Bekir Bozdag was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. The decision means Turkey has refused to cooperate with Interpol, which issued an international Red Notice for Hashemi’s arrest on Tuesday on suspicion of “guiding and financing terrorist attacks.”

Maliki Slams Turkish Remarks: Show No Respect
“We do not want to antagonize Turkey, or Iran, or America, or Saudi Arabia, or any other country, but what happened and the remarks issued by Turkey do not show mutual respect.”

Sayyed Nasrallah: The Time has Come when We Stay and They Disappear
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reminded Friday of Tel Aviv-Dahiyeh equation indicating that Hezbollah is capable of striking very specific targets in Tel Aviv and in every part of occupied Palestine as well. “For every building in Dahiyeh, several buildings will be destroyed in Tel Aviv in return. The time when we were displaced and they don’t has gone. The time when our homes were destroyed and theirs remain has gone,” Sayyed Nasrallah said adding that the time when “we will stay and they disappear has definitely come.” His eminence was talking in a ceremony on the occasion of the conclusion of Waed (promise) project to rebuild Beirut’s southern suburbs (Dahiyeh) which was destroyed after the Israeli July war on Lebanon.

Lebanese army exchanges fire with Islamists
Lebanese troops exchanged fire late on Saturday with a group of young Islamists protesting in Tripoli for the release of a terrorism suspect.

Lebanon: Future Movement Turns to Islam
In light of recent developments in the Syrian and Lebanese political scenes, Doha and Riyadh seek to prop up the Saad Hariri’s Future Movement with a strong ally. This ally is none other than the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.


The Lebanese Election Law Conundrum
Walid Jumblatt has opened fire on all fronts in the battle over the election law. That’s even before the start of election season, and even before being sure that parliamentary polls will be held in 2013 at all – and not encounter a domestic impediment that leads to their postponement or the extension of the current parliament’s mandate. From the very outset, Jumblatt set out his opinion of what his opponents are trying to achieve: to eliminate him and his role. He said the confrontation would be a matter of “to be or not to be”.

Review: Lebanese villagers work it out in ‘Where Do We Go Now?’
At the outset of the new film”Where Do We Go Now?”the usual constant fighting between Muslim and Christian men in a remote Lebanese village has reached a fragile peace aided by the arrival of a television set. When a series of events threatens this uneasy accord, the women of the town must band together to bring things back to an even keel with a plan that comes to involve Eastern European belly dancers and baked goods laced with hashish.,0,48884.story

Saudi Arabia

Justice Saudi-Style – Treat “Peaceful” Dissidents as Terrorists
The counter-terrorism court in Saudi Arabia is wrongly targeting people who criticise government policy and religious institutions as well as those who advocate greater respect for the rule of law – says campaign group. The Saudi justice minister Dr Muhammad al-‘Issa was in London in late April. But, at the last minute, he cancelled a meeting with interested organisations and academics that I was to attend because – we were told – he preferred to meet only with the British government.

Saudi king fires sexist adviser
Saudi King Abdullah on Friday sacked one of his advisers, an outspoken critic of the sexes mingling outside the home, something banned in the ultra-conservative kingdom. The state news agency SPA published the decree announcing the dismissal of Sheikh Abdelmohsen al-Obeikan, an adviser to the royal cabinet, without providing further details. The move comes several days after Obeikan, speaking on local radio, lashed out at the interaction of men and women in court, accusing the judges of seeking to “Westernize society.”



Saturday: Deaths in Idlib as UN expands mission
Several people reported dead in latest clashes even as number of UN monitors charged with overseeing truce reaches 145.

Friday: ‘Large blast’ hits Syrian city
A large blast has hit the Syrian city of Aleppo, opposition sources say, hours after the authorities said they had foiled a major car bomb attack.

Thursday: Desperate search for loved ones amid Damascus carnage
A hand here, a leg there, part of a crushed face, the scene in central Damascus is apocalyptic, as emergency workers fill nylon bags with what is left of dozens of people killed by two suicide bombers.

Syria says thwarts 1,200 kg car bomb in Aleppo
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian forces foiled an attempted suicide car bombing with 1,200 kg (2,640 pounds) of explosives in the northern city of Aleppo on Friday, state television said, a day after two bombs in the capital Damascus killed at least 55 people. The would-be bomber was killed in the al Shaar district of Syria’s largest city which, like Damascus, has seen increasing street protests against President Bashar al-Assad and rising levels of bloodshed after months of relative calm.

‘Arms flowing’ between Lebanon and Syria
UN special envoy says weapons are being smuggled in both directions, and warns region is “at brink of war”.

Mangled and smouldering vehicles are seen at the site of an explosion in Damascus 10 May 2012. (Photo: Reuters – SANA – Handout)
Al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group unknown before the Syrian revolt, released a video on Saturday claiming responsibility for twin suicide bombings in Damascus that killed 55 people. The video said the bombings on Thursday, the deadliest since the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime erupted in March 2011, were “in response to regime bombing of residential areas in Damascus, Idlib, Hama, Daraa provinces and others.”
In Beirut speech, Hezbollah leader also says his movement can accurately hit targets throughout Israel in case of war.

Kerry: Time to consider safe zones and arming the opposition in Syria
The United States needs to do more to protect civilians in Syria, including considering setting up safe zones inside Syria and potentially arming the opposition, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA) told The Cable in an interview Tuesday.
Five years after being jailed, beaten, and tortured by government forces as a student in Damascus, Ahed al-Hendi is a Syrian dissident in the U.S. calling for Washington to arm the opposition fighting President Bashar al-Assad and his forces.

Syrians strive to survive in ‘frontline’ town
Families face acute shortages and daily dangers in conflict-ravaged border town of al-Qusayr.

Syrian doctors smuggle in aid from Turkey
A group of expatriate Syrian doctors and volunteers have teamed up to smuggle much-needed medical supplies into Syria through Turkey. Laurence Lee reports.
Iran helps release of Turkish reporters in Syria
One Turkish journalist detained in Syria is a devout Muslim who was on a Gaza-bound aid ship targeted in an Israeli raid in 2010, and reported being wounded by American bombing on a trip to Afghanistan. His cameraman is a film school student who, ahead of his Syria trip, ducked his father’s disapproval by claiming he was headed to Italy.

Christians on Syria’s border wary of future
Syriac people in southeast Turkey have strong ties with relatives and fellow Christians across the border in Syria. In the ancient Assyrian city of Midyat, Christians say they fear their community could endure what Christians in Iraq suffered when the country fell into violence and chaos. Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught reports from Midyat.

Penetrated Opposition and Failure of Consensus in Syria: Interview with Haytham Manna`(Part 4 of 4)
On April 27th, around the Jadaliyya Co-Sponsored Conference at Lund University (“Contesting Narratives, Location Power”), I sat down for an extensive interview with Haytham Manna`, one of the icons of the independent Syrian opposition and a leading founder of the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change (in Syria). The interview was long and candid, and addressed several topics, including the current impasse in Syria, the stages and transformation of the uprising, the questions of international intervention and of resistance, the Syrian National Council and its relations with other opposition groups and the Arab Gulf States and beyond, and the relationship between Syria and Hizballah.

The U.S. is not concerned with dead Syrians, just with saving face: Syrian Opposition’s Turn to Violence Creates U.S. Dilemma
Syria’s deadliest bombing to date highlights the Obama administration’s dilemma as foes of President Bashar al-Assad increasingly adopt tactics the U.S. and its allies have condemned as terrorism.
Damascus Blasts: Are Terrorists the Wild Card in Syria’s Power Struggle?, Tony Karon
The twin suicide car bombings that reportedly killed 55 people and wounded 372 in Damascus on Thursday prompted a familiar set of responses: state television blamed unspecified “terrorists” for the atrocity, in keeping with its habit of linking all antiregime violence to jihadist extremism; opposition groups denied responsibility and instead accused the regime of staging the blasts as a propaganda exercise designed to ease international pressure to observe a U.N.-backed cease-fire. For both sides, the intended audience is the international community, playing the new political game in which both sides have publicly committed themselves to the cease-fire plan brokered by U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, but neither is actually observing it — instead, each is maneuvering to ensure that the other side is blamed for the failure of a plan deemed by Annan to be the “last chance” to avoid a full-blown civil war.

Syria: Is This an Arab Spring or a Balkan Winter?, Tony Karon
Special envoy Kofi Annan told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that his struggling peace plan is the last hope to prevent Syria from plunging into an all-out civil war.

“The Hamas-Syrian Split, a Dilemma for Iran’s Palestinian Strategy,” By Mohammad Ataie, Mohammad Ataie
Since the advent of the Iranian revolution, the Palestinian issue has been at the heart of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy. For ideological and strategic reasons, supporting the Palestinian cause and resistance against Israel has been an integral part of the Islamic Republic’s identity and international approach. However, Iran’s Palestinian policy has, to a great extent, been forged under the influence of its alliance with Syria. That is why the tensions between Damascus and Hamas, brought about by the latter’s equivocal stance on Syrian crisis, have spilled over into the Palestinian movement’s relationship with Tehran.

Starving the Syrians for Human Rights
The wing of the U.S. human rights movement which targets foreign countries can wind up as a cruel business, aiding the ruthless and violent actions of the U.S. Empire, wittingly or not. For the U.S. all too often uses human rights as a cover for taking action against countries that defy the Empire’s control. Some weeks back, I decided to look into one such group, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an organization I had long refrained from joining out of skepticism. But perhaps, I thought, PHR had sidestepped the dangers inherent in this work. So I joined to find out.

Middle East expert Fawaz Gerges discusses Syria crisis 
Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, tells Al Jazeera the regional and international variables have not been conducive to an international military intervention in Syria.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Keen for a little bit of certainty in a turbulent Arab world, Israeli leaders persuaded themselves last year that Syrian President Bashar Assad — the devil they knew next door — was finished, and something possibly better might be on the way. But it was not to be. With the Syrian uprising now into its 14th month and Assad still firmly in power, Israel has few options other than to sit the crisis out, unable to influence the outcome of an upheaval that is sure to affect it.

Other World News


NATO Admits Killing Afghan Mother, 5 Children in Air Strike

NATO has admitted it mistakenly killed an Afghan mother and five of her children in an air strike last week. Meanwhile, there are reports that as many as 14 civilians were killed in another incident in northwestern Badghis province.
Hollande’s communications director, Manuel Valls, confirmed to the Telegraph on Monday that France will “announce the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan between now and the end of the year.” The announcement will take place at the NATO summit being held in Chicago on May 20 and 21.

Turning their budget knife to domestic programs to protect the Pentagon, House Republicans on Thursday approved legislation cutting food stamps, benefits for federal workers and social services programs like day care for children and Meals on Wheels for the elderly.

US military school taught “total war” against Muslims
A senior US military official has been forced to condemn a class taught at a military college that advocated a “total war” against Muslims. The course at the Joint Forces Staff College in Virginia also suggested possible nuclear attacks on holy Islamic cities such as Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The story, originally published on’s danger room blog, risks damaging America’s already tarnished image in the Islamic world, where it maintains a heavy military presence.

Bush found guilty of war crimes
A symbolic War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia has found former US President George W. Bush and several other members of his administration guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity , Press TV reports.

UN says three Libya prisoners likely tortured to death

Several prisoners likely were tortured to death at a detention center in Libya under government control, the United Nations said on Thursday as it urged the country to make stamping out such practices a top priority. 
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From twitter:
#greenbrigade showing solidarity and support for #palhunger strikers, #yom76 for #bilal and #thaer

“While being under custody, a police officer of Ramle district addressed both me and another female activist while being cuffed with verbal sexual harassment, threatening to rape us.”

Standing with Israel includes raping with Israel.

It does happen in Syria and no one seems to care much

Peter Beinart will come to the rescue.

The only entity capable of stopping Israel’s inhumanity is the US, but that is not going to happen. The idea that the IDF or anyone else in Israel will do anything is pie in the sky. There is no global ‘morality’, people do what they can get away with and… Read more »