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11-year-old seized from playground by undercover officers is now ‘under investigation’

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11 year old taken from playground by undercover officers for “investigation”
Undercover Israeli forces, known as the Musta’rivem , kidnapped a young child from Ras Elamoud in Silwan yesterday, 8 June. Muhammad Ashour,11, was taken by Musta’rivem officers from the playground in Silwan . Ashour remains in custody, with police stating that he is “under investigation”. A relative of Ashour told Silwanic that when they asked the Musta’rivem officers to reveal their identity, the officer replied that he is not bound by law to do so. Police kidnapping of children and minors is an increasing worry for parents in East Jerusalem, with undercover units on regular patrol Undercover Forces kidnapping a Palestinian child in Silwan.

 Land Theft & Destruction / Refugees / Apartheid

“For decades Israel has pursued a policy that has led to the debilitation of East Jerusalem in every respect,” says new report.

Israel plans to move West Bank Bedouin
Khan Al Ahmar, West Bank // Until last October, the Bedouin of the West Bank seldom drew any notice. Travellers on the busy four-lane highway that tumbles from the heights of Jerusalem, east to the Dead Sea, might have noticed through car windows the dilapidated Bedouin encampments of metal and plastic sheeting that dot the steep, usually bone-dry hills. Most, however, paid no attention at all. Eight months ago, the roar of an Israeli armoured bulldozer signalled an end to Bedouin anonymity. The tractor razed five homes at the edge of Khan Al Ahmar, one of 20 West Bank hamlets inhabited by Bedouin of the Jahalin clan. 

Soldiers Prevent The Reconstruction Of A Mosque Demolished Last Year
Israeli soldiers prevented, Saturday, residents of khirbit Al-Mafqara, a small village near the southern West bank city of Hebron, from rebuilding a mosque that was demolished by the army in late December last year.

Settlers cut down over 30 trees in Hebron, activist says
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Settlers chopped down dozens of olive trees in the district of Hebron on Friday, a local activist said. Rateb al-Jabour, from the popular committee against the wall and settlements, said the trees belonged to Ali al-Arda from Yatta. Jabour appealed to international organizations to help remove the “settlement cancer” which is eating Palestinian land. Israeli forces were present during the incident, Jabour said. Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is systematic in the West Bank. Over 90 percent of villages which have experienced multiple attacks by settlers are under Israeli security control, The Palestine Center says, meaning local Palestinians only have the official protection of an army which they claim ignores settler violence.

IOF confiscates water tank, causes water crisis in village
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) confiscated a water tank in Khirbat Farsiya in the northern Jordan Valley that carries water to the inhabitants.

JERUSALEM — In the fraught atmosphere of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an approaching decision on whether to award coveted university status to a college has taken on powerful political overtones. For critics of Israel’s policy of settling Jews in the West Bank, the upgrade of the “Ariel University Center of Samaria” into a permanent university would be a strong signal of what they say is creeping annexation of the hilly territory.
Israel plans to legalize 13 contentious West Bank outposts
The government has announced that it plans to legalize 13 of the 18 settlement outposts against which petitions to the High Court of Justice have been filed.Because the 13 outposts are not built on privately-owned Palestinian land, the legalization process could presumably make the petitions against them moot.The remaining five outposts cannot be legalized, because they are located on privately-owned Palestinian land, and so are slated for evacuation.

Yerushalayim: Billionaire Mashkevitch to build 350 housing units in Abu Dis

The weekly newspaper Yerushalayim said the Jewish billionaire Irving Mashkevitch intends to build 350 settlement units in occupied Jerusalem near the Knesset building in Abu Dis area.

Israel to build more West Bank homes

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has approved the construction of more than 800 settler homes in the West Bank.   The announcement came just hours after parliament rejected an attempt to save five illegal apartment buildings in Beit El in the Occupied West Bank.   The issue of settlement construction in Palestinian territory has been the major stalling point for peace talks.   Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba reports.

Peace Now: Gilad society to build a tourist center in Silwan district
The Peace Now movement revealed an Israeli plan to build a tourist center in Ein Silwan district south of the Aqsa Mosque.

Netanyahu vows to reinforce settlements in “the fatherland”
srael’s Prime Minister has vowed to continue the construction of Jewish settlements in all occupied Palestinian territory. Benjamin Netanyahu was responding to the angry reactions of settlers and far-right parties at the Knesset’s refusal to ratify a law that would have legitimised the construction of settlements on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
PLO office blasts ‘stupefying inaction’ on settlements
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The General Delegation of the PLO in Washington said Thursday it was dismayed by the Israeli government’s latest “egregious violation” of signed agreements. “Settlements are illegal under international law, their expansion contradicts agreements signed by Israel and the PLO, and their continuation gravely prejudices the final status issues,” the PLO office said in a statement. Israel has dismissed criticism of the plan to erect 851 more settler homes, projects that appeared aimed at placating settlers angry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

UN envoy: All settlements contrary to international law
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process on Thursday reiterated the international community’s view that settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are illegitimate. In a statement, Robert Serry said that Israel’s settlements were contrary to international law “whether on private Palestinian land or elsewhere in occupied Palestinian territory.” The latest announcements, including adding 300 units in Beit El, deep inside the occupied West Bank, are “deeply troubling,” the statement from the special coordinator said.

BRUSSELS, June 9, 2012 (WAFA) – European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Friday said Israel’s settlement activity is detrimental to peace efforts. Ashton was reacting to Israeli government plans to build hundreds of housing units in illegal West Bank settlements as well as relocate settlers from outposts to regular settlement, also within the occupied West Bank. In a statement issued in Brussels, Ashton said she “deplores Israeli government plans to build over 800 additional settlement housing units as well as the plan to relocate some of the settlers from Ulpana within the occupied Palestinian territory.”

British Foreign Secretary condemns Israeli building of more housing units in WB
The British Foreign Office considered that “continued systematic settlement activity, and repeated breaches by the Israeli government of international law, is provocative”.

BERLIN, June 9, 2012 (WAFA) – Germany expressed concern about Israeli plans to build 851 housing units in West Bank settlements saying this step is counter to efforts to re-launch stalled peace talks, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said Thursday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he has approved the construction of these housing units in a step to appease fanatic Jewish settlers who are supposed to be evicted from five houses built on private Palestinian land in the Ramallah-area illegal settlement of Beit El, which was also built on private Palestinian land. “The German government is very concerned about the Israeli announcement to build 851 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” he said. “It shares the opinion that such steps run counter all efforts to re-launch peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians,” he added.
Turkey: Israel violating international law
The Turkish foreign ministry issued a statement on Friday lashing out at the Israeli decision to build 851 new housing units in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu reportedly did not respond when the experts warned the construction of 850 apartments he pledged could spark violence.
Knesset vote reveals how weak the settlers truly are
How come a decision by the government to built 850 housing units in the West Bank is praised as a move toward peace? The answer has to do with the political theater taking place for decades.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinians removed a military barrier from the largest refugee camp in Lebanon on Friday, a prominent leader in one of the factions said.  Bassam Abu Sharif said the decision to remove the barricade at the northern entrance to Ein el-Hilweh was reached after an agreement between rival national and Islamic factions. ”We will be together for the sake of return and liberation and we will work with all Lebanese forces as long as they are pro Palestine, which is the core issue in the Arab world,” Abu Sharif said.
Siege on Gaza

Gaza medicine shortages ‘worst since siege began’

A spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip said Saturday the enclave was facing the worst shortage of medications since the enclave was first placed under blockade., Ashraf al-Qudra told Ma’an of “a real problem” in Nasr Children’s Hospital due to the lack of special injections for patients with immune disorders, and in all medical centers for children and adults. 

Gaza City, June 9 (Petra) — The Health Ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Saturday warned that 253 types of medicine and 211 other medical items are alarmingly running out from hospitals in the Israeli-blockaded territory. Al Nasr Pediatrics Hospital Director Nabil Barkouni said in a statement that many children and adults with blood, cardiac and other diseases were threatened with death because of the lack of medicines. ”It is the worst crisis the Gaza health sector is witnessing as it reached a peak, posing a real threat to the health system that offers service to about 1.7 million Palestinians,” added Director of the Gaza General Administration for Pharmaceuticals, Munir Al-Barsh. Barsh said the pharmaceutical sector is on the verge of collapse due to the fast depleting medicines which had reached an extremely critical point and would hit large health service sectors. He said kidney, heart and cancer patients were particularly at risk after a large number of medicines ran out, warning of “a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza hospitals as result.” 
Tantawi orders 20,000 tons of diesel oil transferred to Gaza
The head of the ruling military council has ordered the transfer of 20,000 tons of diesel oil to the Gaza Strip to help it generate electricity. The oil will be transferred Thursday from the General Petroleum Authority’s stocks in the Suez seaport to the Ouga terminal connecting Egypt to Gaza, then to the strip. Military head Hussein Tantawi also instructed the armed forces and police to protect the transfer, which he said would help end the electricity crisis and suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. He mentioned that the authority has had difficulty providing vehicles to transfer the diesel oil in light of a local fuel shortage.

Erdogan: Relations with Israel will not be restored until Gaza siege is lifted
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country will not looking at restoring relations with Israel unless it ends the unfair siege imposed on Gaza and implements Turkish conditions.

Gaza live blog
The Guardian reports on and about Gaza throughout the day, digging beneath the headlines to find out what impact Hamas’s rule and economic and political isolation from Israel has had on Gaza’s 1.7m inhabitants.

Gaza live: a snapshot of life amid blockades and daily gunfire
The Guardian launches a 12-hour project to document life in Gaza, featuring families, fishermen and business people. The crossing from Israel into Gaza is always an unsettling experience. In a few hundred metres, you pass from an advanced hi-tech western state complete with generously watered municipal flower beds and lawns into an impoverished dusty enclave where the once-thriving economy has been thrust into reverse and where up to 80% of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid. The vast Israeli border terminal at Erez echoes to the footsteps of a handful of people monitored by cameras and Israeli security personnel, protected by bullet-proof glass. The numerous metal turnstiles clang, breaking the silence.

We Palestinians are reclaiming our destiny, Ismail Haniyeh
As a new spirit of unity sweeps the Arab world, Palestine must also speak with one voice. Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away. This is what is happening in the Middle East today. Political reality returns, and all that is contingent – all that is not rooted in the history of the region’s people whose civilisation dates back thousands of years – falls away.

Gaza’s young unemployed find link to jobs through technology
For an economy like Gaza, where movement is restricted, ICT presents unique opportunities for a jobless generation. Five years ago, Abdulrahman Dallou found himself out of a job and with time on his hands. The Israeli blockade of Gaza had brought his work as an electronics technician to a sudden end and months of unemployment followed.

Gaza beach: ‘We suffocate in the city. Here we can breathe’ – video
Away from the claustrophobia of a city under siege, bathers and surfers enjoy the peace and open space offered by Gaza’s seaside.

Gaza fishermen: ‘We are no longer fishermen, we’ve become traders’ – video
Fishermen explain how they have resorted to buying fish smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, unable to fish in their own waters.

Gaza’s schoolchildren: ‘The good things about Gaza are the weather and the sea’ – video
Pupils from three schools in Gaza City discuss their hopes for the future and for the Palestinian people. The children talk candidly about everyday life in Gaza, their favourite subjects at school and how things differ for boys and girls. ‘When I see my friends and play, I forget all of the terrible things that happen in Gaza,’ one says.

Welcome to Gaza’s zoo, where stuffed animals are the main attraction – video
The South Forest zoo opened three months after Israel tightened its blockade of Gaza in 2007. Most of the zoo’s creatures – which range from hyenas to wolves, ostriches and chimpanzees – came through the tunnels with Egypt, but all is not as it first seems. Zookeeper Mohamed Owida explains how he has been forced to resort to taxidermy to preserve his lion and tigress, apparently killed by white phosphorus in an Israeli attack.

Gazan artist Maha al-Daya: ‘I paint what I feel. I have nothing to do with politics’ – video
The artist discusses the effect of the blockade on her work, and says she tries to paint what she encounters in Gaza.

Segregating Gazans has made them easier to demonise, Amira Hass
Separating Israelis and Palestinians has broken the bonds between us, making Gazans easier to target in the Israeli press. A stout sense of humour and self-irony is the least most Israelis expect of Gazans. It is certainly true today, when they are spoken of almost solely through the hyperbole of military commentators who jump frantically from discussing the Iranian threat to the danger that the tiny, overcrowded, impoverished and besieged enclave poses to the state of Israel, a global military power. But that sense of humour is also lost in the victim-oriented Palestinian media reports or the militant statements of anonymous veiled speakers and lower-tier Hamas politicians of which the meagre Israeli media diet ordinarily consists.

Israeli Violence and Aggression

Protection of Civilians Weekly Report 30 May – 5 June 2012
Gaza: Clashes between Palestinian factions and Israeli forces, as well as Israeli airstrikes, resume after one month of relative calm; three armed Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were killed and eight Palestinian civilians were injured. Thirty-two Bedouin families residing in a closed military area in the northern Jordan Valley were ordered to leave to enable Israeli forces to conduct military training; structures were demolished during the forced eviction of four of the families. On 6 June, all the families returned to their original site. Power cuts throughout the Gaza Strip remain as high as 12 hours per day, disrupting delivery of basic services and daily life in Gaza. As of 6 June, the Power Plant had completely shut down due to lack of fuel, triggering power cuts of up to 16 hours per day throughout the Gaza Strip. Fuel contributed by the Qatari government entered Israel from Egypt via the Nitzana Crossing on 7 June. The same day, around 151,700 liters of fuel entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing, enabling the plant to resume operating one turbine.


Soldiers Attack Beit Ummar’s Weekly Protest
Israeli soldiers attacked, on Saturday afternoon, the weekly nonviolent protest against the Wall and settlements, in Beit Ummar town, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped a resident and an international peace activist.


The Israeli occupation forces suppressed the weekly peaceful marches against settlement in Masarah village and Kafr Qaddum village in the West Bank and wounded many Palestinian and foreign protesters.

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces raided a village east of Yatta in the Hebron district on Saturday, Palestinians who were reconstructing a mosque demolished by a few months ago said.  Over a dozen military vehicles entered the al-Mafkara village and surrounded a group of Palestinians. A fist fight broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian police, but the activists broke it up, they said.  Fadel Rubae of the local popular committee in Yatta was one of the activists who intervened to break up the clash, said activist Rateb al-Jbour. He condemned the raid on the town.  An Israeli military spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.

Past Israeli Terrorism: USS Liberty – Dead in the Water
During the Six-Day War, Israel attacked and nearly sank the USS Liberty belonging to its closest ally, the USA. Thirty-four American servicemen were killed in the two-hour assault by Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats.

Most Recent Illegal Arrests / Detainees

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) violently quelled the weekly peaceful anti settlement march in Beit Ummar village, north of Al-Khalil, on Saturday, local sources said.


11 year old taken from playground by undercover officers for “investigation”
Undercover Israeli forces, known as the Musta’rivem , kidnapped a young child from Ras Elamoud in Silwan yesterday, 8 June. Muhammad Ashour,11, was taken by Musta’rivem officers from the playground in Silwan  . Ashour remains in custody, with police stating that he is “under invesatigation”. A relative of Ashour told Silwanic that when they asked the Musta’rivem officers to reveal their identity, the officer replied that he is not bound by law to do so. Police kidnapping of children and minors is an increasing worry for parents in East Jerusalem, with undercover units on regular patrol Undercover Forces  kidnapping a Palestinian child in Silwan.

Israeli forces break in to Bir Ayyub factory, youth arrested
Israeli forces broke on last Thursday  into a factory in Bir Ayyub neighborhood of Silwan near al-Bustan. Israeli forces arretsed Ahmad al-Damiri, 20 years old, who is working in the factory of Bir Ayyub , on charges that have not been revealed by authorities.

Detention of Silwan youth extended again; brother of detained arrested inside courtroom
The detention of three youth from Silwan was extended by Israeli judiciary for the third time on 7 June. Muhannad al-Kawasmi (18), Ahmad Basboos (20) and Alaa al-Kaimari (20) were ordered to be held for a further period as requested by the prosecution. Muhammad Kawasmi ,brother of Muhannad, was arrested by Israeli forces inside the courtroom. Authorities have not revealed the reason for Muhammad’s arrest, as he was attending the trial as an observer in support of his brother.

IOF soldiers storm Jenin villages, arrest youth
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed a number of villages in the Jenin province on Thursday and rounded up a youth and interrogated a liberated prisoner.

Imprisoned for civil disobedience against Israel’s new “apartheid” light rail system
Local youth Mosa Muhammad Abu Khder has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by the dsitrict Court of Jerusalem, following a lengthy trial and 9 months house arrest. Khder faced charges of throwing stones at the new light rail system in Jerusalem that exclusively connects Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem with predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem, serving no Palestinian neighborhoods. The rail system has come under heavy criticism by human rights groups and foreign governments, and has been the successful target of a divestment campaign led by Palestine solidarity activists. Khder’s family have denounced the sentence as both disproportionate and unexpected, saying that it is likely the judge sought to make an example of their son. “It is an exaggerated ruling – no humans were injured, it was only a train doing a test run. The only damage caused was to a window.”

One prominent figure caught up in the sweep was Zakaria Zubeidi, known for his role in the second Intifada against Israeli occupation. He led the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group dormant in the West Bank since the party disavowed armed conflict with Israel. ”Jericho has become like Guantanamo,” Zakaria’s brother Abed told Reuters last week, referring a notorious Palestinian Authority jail near the Dead Sea.  ”The idea of being sent there is being used to terrify us,” he added.

Hunger Strikers / Other Prisoner News

Palestinian prisoners refuse to be strip searched
Mohannad Shraim, a member of the hunger strike leadership committee, confirmed that the captives in Israeli Ramon prison have refused to be strip searched.

Negev prison administration refuses to treat hunger striker

The Negev prison administration has refused to extend necessary medical treatment for Palestinian prisoner Aysar Al-Atrash, who has been suffering pain for several days due to his hunger strike.


Free Mahmoud Sarsak: An Open Letter to Alistair Burt

Palestinian National Soccer Player on 81st Day of Hunger Strike
While Thaer Halahleh was released earlier this week after his 77-day hunger strike succeeded in pushing Israel to make a deal with more than 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners who were also on hunger strike, both Mahmoud Sarsak and Akram Rikhawi refused to end their strikes and face imminent threats to their lives.

Hunger striking Palestine national team footballer at risk of death
Mahmoud Sarsak, midfielder for the Palestinian national football team, has been on hunger strike for 82 days in protest of his detention without trial. Physicians for Human Rights has expressed “grave concern for his life.”

Mahmoud Sarsak continues his hunger strike for the 85th day running
The Palestinian detainee Mahmoud Sarsak, 28, has entered the 85th day of his grueling hunger strike which is considered the longest hunger strike in Palestinian history.

Political detainee transferred to hospital
Political detainee Abdullah Aker, who is on hunger strike in Palestinian Authority jails, was rushed to hospital on Wednesday after deterioration in his health condition.

Jailed Palestinians to stage hunger strike
Prisoners to stage action next week in support of three other striking detainees, as Israel accused of violating deal.
Tough rulings on local activists Sheikh Musa, Zayed Zidani and Ibrahim Abu Ziyab
Musa Ouda the Imam of  Bir Ayyub Mosque and Al-Bustan Popular Committee was sentenced to 5 months in prison by an Israeli court on Thursday, 7 June. Local activist Zayed Zidani was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment to commence on 1 August during the holy month of Ramadan, while activist Ibrahim Abu- Thiab was issued a fine of  5,000 NIS and sentenced 50 days jail, which he has already served in prison and under house arrest more than one year. The three men were arrested on 24 January 2011 and faced charges of attempting obstruct police work during a confrontation between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces in Bir Ayyub, with Israeli forces firing heavy amounts of tear gas at unarmed residents in the built-up residential area. Such clashes have become a near-daily event in Silwan as a result of armed Israeli settlers’ provocations, the threat of Municipality-sanctioned home demolitions, harassment from settlers’ private security guards and regular arrests and attacks by Israeli forces. Residents and human rights organizations have denounced the rulings on Ouda, Zidani and Abu-Thiyab, three local activists dedicated to their community, as a clear attempt to target Palestinian community leaders.

Six Palestinian prisoners spent 20 years or more in Israeli prisons
Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights stated that six Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons complete 20 or more years in Israeli prisons during the current month.

The detainee Rizq Salah starts his 20th year in Israeli jails
The Prisoners’ Centre for Studies reported that the detainee Rizq Ali Khedr Salah, 49, from the town of Al-Khedr on the outskirts of Bethlehem, has entered his 20th year in Israeli jails continuously.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS

The Islamic bloc in the Open Quds University has announced that its members would go on an open sit-in starting Saturday to protest the PA arrest of a student from his home.

Students from We Are All Hana Shalabi campaign join protest for Mahmoud Sarsak
A protest was held today outside Ramle prison where Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, on his 82nd day of hunger strike, remains imprisoned without charge. Activists from Haifa and Jaffa were joined by students from the We Are All Hana Shalabi campaign in Scotland as they demanded Sarsak’s immediate release from jail and freedom for all Palestinian prisoners held in the occupation jails. Around 50 protestor gathered outside the prison with pictures of Sarsak, chanting for his release.

Prisoners in Parallel, Ismail Khalidi
There was something fitting about the preview screened before a recent New York showing of 5 Broken Cameras, the new documentary that tells the story of several individuals in the Palestinian village of Bil’in and its nonviolent struggle against the Israeli occupation. The preview was for an upcoming screening of The Battle of Algiers, the classic 1966  film about the Algerian revolution against the French occupation.

5 Broken Cameras: Home Videos Evolve into Stirring Film on Palestinian Resistance to Israeli Wall
The award-winning new documentary, “5 Broken Cameras,” tells the story of a Palestinian farmer who got a video camera to record his son’s childhood, but ended up documenting the growth of the resistance movement to the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in. The film shows the nonviolent tactics used by residents of Bil’in as they join with international and Israeli activists to protest the wall’s construction and confront Israeli soldiers. We speak with the film’s directors, Emad Burnat, a Palestinian, and Guy Davidi, an Israeli.

Part 2: Acclaimed New Film “5 Broken Cameras” Captures Palestinian Village’s Nonviolent Resistance
The new documentary film, “5 Broken Cameras,” tells the story of Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who got his first video camera to film his son growing up, but he went on to document the residents of his village Bil’in resisting the Israeli separation wall. Over the course of the film, one camera after another is smashed or shot as Burnat films his village’s resistance movement. Focused largely on the experience of Burnat and his family, the film explores the intersection of their life with Palestinian and Israeli politics. Emad Burnat and the film’s co-director, Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, join us for part two of our look at the film. Click here to watch part one of the interview.

London Olympics security contractor’s role in occupation is giving BDS ‘traction and respect’, Phil Weiss and Annie Robbins
Haaretz has an important story, the mounting political heat in London over the fact that security at the Olympics has been contracted to G4S, whose Israeli subsidiary enforces the occupation. The attention is giving BDS “respect and traction,” the Israeli government sense.

B’nai Brith Canada wants to ban utterance of words ‘Israeli apartheid’ at publicly-funded events
In Toronto, the City Council has navigated an annual political clash by agreeing to help fund this year’s gay pride parade, but condemning the use of the term “Israeli apartheid” by the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

Pro-Palestinian protests mar Israel celebration in Melbourne
Attendees at Tuesday night’s high-profile celebration of Israel’s independence were forced to walk past pro-Palestinian protesters with posters calling Israel an ‘apartheid state.’

Anti-normalization group condemns Zionist participation in youth conference
Youth and Students Gathering to Confront Normalization in Jordan denounced the organization of a conference for three days in Amman by a Foundation called “Fellowship of Zulia”

Censorship in Egypt?, As’ad AbuKhalil
I was asked by several readers whether I posted this item in support or in condemnation.  The answer:  in support, of course.  Any support for Israeli terrorism or normalization with Israeli terrorism should be banned for the preservation of security and safety of Arabs.  It is common sense, if not ideology.  Israel casually censors any manifestation of Palestinian nationalism, while the US (rightly) does not allow any promotion of Al-Qa`idah terrorism.  The same applies for Israel and its terrorism in the Arab world: you see, for Arabs, Israel is like Al-Qa`idah to Americans, times ten.  So yes, Al-Qa`idh and Israel should not be allowed to promote their heinous and deadly ideology.

Celebrate Stolen Beauty Campaign!
Our member group CODEPINK is celebrating the three-year anniversary of its Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign.  Although Ahva labels it beauty products as “Made in Israel,” the ugly truth is that the products actually come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the occupied West Bank and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. This mislabeling has been in the news recently as both South Africa and Denmark recently decided to clearly label settlement goods.

An Economic Argument for Ending US Military Aid to Israel
In his recent article in The National Interest (“The Case for Ending Aid to Israel“), Doug Bandow lays out an economic argument as to why the US should not provide Israel with military aid. According to Bandow, the US can ill afford the $30 billion dollars in military aid promised to Israel over 10 years, particularly in light of America’s continuing economic troubles. Moreover, he questions whether US military aid effectively supports Israel, “a wealthy nation with a booming hi-tech sector” as well as a regionally dominant military.  He notes that “Israeli producers lose government contracts and consequent economies of scale” because the US stipulates a large portion of arms bought with aid money must be sourced from the United States and suggests that “U.S. “assistance” further inflates Israel’s already bloated government.” Thereby, US aid prevents Israel from becoming an efficient, independent power.

Racism / Discrimination

Leader of Palestinian political party in Israel routinely harassed and detained at Ben Gurion airport, Adam Horowitz
The latest incident occurred last month, when Awad Abdel Fattah, the NDP’s secretary-general, returned from a speaking tour in Europe. Among his engagements, he met Finland’s Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, and leaders of political parties in Belgium and Sweden to discuss the increasingly repressive political atmosphere in Israel towards the country’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens. When Mr Abdel Fattah exited the plane in the early hours of May 3 he was pulled aside for interrogation and detained for more than two hours without his passport. When repeated requests for its return were ignored, and he was not given a reason for his detention, he told the security staff to keep the passport and headed towards baggage reclaim. It was the third time in a month that he had suffered such treatment at Ben Gurion airport. At baggage reclaim, Mr Abdel Fattah was surrounded by security staff and threatened with arrest. Only when Mr Abdel Fattah caused a scene in the baggage reclaim area, in front of other passengers, was he told that the decision to detain him been “an order from higher-up”.This was confirmed a short time later by a senior member of the security police who arrived to speak to Mr Abdel Fattah privately. Mr Abdel Fattah recounted: “He told me that the matter was not in the hands of the police but had come from the intelligence services. He suggested that members of my party in the Knesset should call the Minister of Internal Security. “Minutes later, apparently because of the embarrassment I had caused them, they returned my passport and let me go. At this point, at 6am, I had been detained for three hours.”

Most Israeli Jews agree: African migrants are ‘a cancer’
Peace Index finds 33% condone anti-migrant violence, establishes a direct correlation between racist attitudes and religiosity

Israel announces plan to erect 20,000 tents for African migrants
Defense Ministry says tents cities will be erected at various detention centers throughout Israel’s south in order to prevent migrants from entering Israeli cities.

Attacks on Israel’s fast-growing population of African asylum-seekers, mainly from South Sudan and Eritrea, are rising. Hundreds of Jews led by settlers from the West Bank, where Palestinians hope to create their state, recently marched through districts of south Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital, where black immigrants proliferate, chanting “Africans Out!” Pumped up with angry excitement, the middle-aged chef of a fast-food shop, in HaTikva, a working-class district where migrants are also settling in large numbers, offers passers-by “grilled kushi”, provocatively meaning “grilled blacks”, and suggests getting rid of the immigrants by throwing grenades at their tenements. In recent weeks, several homes and a kindergarten for Africans have been firebombed. 

Developments and Other News

Mysterious light over Middle East identified as Russian missile test
A mysterious light reported in Iran, Lebanon, Armenia, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Israel on Thursday has been later identified as a Russian ballistic missile test. The new missile, which is reportedly capable of evading defense systems, debuted at Plesetsk launch pad in northern Russia,

NEW YORK (Ma’an) — The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN participated in the 22nd meeting of parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea despite the objections of Canada, the US and Israel. The Palestinian delegation sat in their place according to the legal measures. The Permanent Observer Mission said in a statement that it was an important achievement toward enjoying full membership in the UN.  The meetings were held in early June at the UN headquarters, according to the statement.

Senior Hamas leader says Israel could be isolated by Egypt vote
GAZA CITY — A presidential victory for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt would leave Israel isolated and vulnerable in the Middle East, according to senior Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad, who serves as the Palestinian militant group’s deputy foreign minister.,0,2790362.story

Palestinian MPs condemn Abbas’s statement on returning to negotiations
Palestinian MPs denounced president Mahmoud Abbas for declaring readiness to resume negotiations with Israel in a statement on Friday.


The PA will return to the negotiating for weapons to use against Palestinians: Abbas offers Israel dialogue for amnesty, arms
PARIS (Reuters) — President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday he was ready to hold dialogue with Israel if it freed prisoners and re-armed his police, but there could be no full peace talks without a freeze on West Bank settlements. “We recently told them that if Israel accepted to free prisoners and allow us to re-arm the police then we would again sit at the same table as Netanyahu,” Abbas said, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian Authority security forces require regular armaments and supplies in order to keep peace and order in the West Bank, a Fatah official said Friday. Jamal Muheisin told Ma’an that weapons used by security forces naturally wear out after a period of time and, like police forces in other countries, need to be replaced. A large portion of arms used by Palestinian security forces were destroyed in the second Intifada during Israeli incursions into the West Bank, Muheisin said.
The PA will settle for a few new villas, BMW’s and machine guns: Palestine to settle for second-rate UN membership
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has admitted Palestine may have to settle for getting non-member state status at the United Nations, after the US threatened to veto any bid for full membership. Abbas told reporters on Friday during a Paris visit that if Israel did not resume peace negotiations, “we will of course go to the (UN) General Assembly to obtain non-member status, as was the case for Switzerland and the Vatican.”
Abbas: We need to live alongside Israel, not to isolate it
De facto president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that his authority wants to live with Israel side by side and not to isolate it internationally or delegitimize it.
Top Israeli official delivers personal message from Netanyahu to French president
Word of the meeting between National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and President Hollande was published in a special announcement that expressed France’s desire to ‘deepen ties’ between the two nations.
After three years of utter disconnect, Jerusalem and Ramallah are starting to talk. Both sides stress, however, that the talks cannot yet be considered peace negotiations.
Palestinian officials said Saturday that statements made by PA President Mahmoud Abbas a day earlier in Paris did not signal he was willing to return to negotiations. 

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel free Palestinian prisoners taken before the 1993 Oslo peace accord before any new negotiations start. Speaking aboard a plane after talks in Paris, Abbas laid out his requirements to resume the comprehensive peace talks which stalled in September 2010: an end to Jewish settlement building in the Palestinian territories, and the recognition of the 1967 borders as a starting point. He said he had urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to free all 123 Palestinians detained by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo accord, adding that their release had been agreed “but Israel has not honored its commitment.”
According to Pentagon, Admiral Paul Bushong, who currently serves as a commander in Guam, will be responsible for building the security infrastructure of the PA.

Hamas slams PA for accepting new US coordinator for its forces
Hamas strongly denounced the PA for accepting the appointment of a new US security coordinator for its forces, saying this act contravenes the principles of the Palestinian reconciliation.

Analysis / Op-ed

Palestinian political prisoner Ameer Makhoul provides an insider’s take on the historic mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
American Jews are extremely sensitive to the charge of dual loyalty.  That is, that they might see their loyalty to Israel as equally or superseding their loyalty of the United States.  This charge makes me uncomfortable as well for obvious reasons. But I have to say that Israel advocacy groups like The Israel Project and StandWithUs practically invited these charges since they not only support Israel, they act as extensions of the Israeli government in this country.  And yes, in effect, they are acting as agents of Israel.   Presumably these groups are smart enough not to violate U.S. law and accept actual funding from the Israeli government.  That would force them to register as Israeli agents.  But they do everything short of this. n fact, deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, in acknowledging that the Israeli government officially supported StandWithUs’ lawsuit against the Olympia food coop, which was dismissed in Superior Court recently, called StandWithUs and other advocacy groups, Israeli “force multipliers.”

‘The cartoonish inner thoughts of a young brown man’: Husam Zakharia’s comics on the Palestinian hunger strikers, Allison Deger
My friend Husam Zakharia is a Palestinian comic artist living in California. Through his website ”the cartoonish inner thoughts of a young brown man,” Husam takes on Israeli and American policies, as well as the Arab Spring and consumerism. His online collection includes a few pieces themed around Palestinian hunger strikers. And with Mahmoud Sarsak and Akram Rekhawi carrying on the plight for detainee rights through 81 and 57 days of fast, respectively, I thought it relevant to post a few.

Avraham Burg: World must tell Israel it can’t be treated as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ while it’s the last colonial occupier in the Western world, Matthew Taylor
[The world must] tell Israel that it is impossible to be treated as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, while it is also the last colonial occupier in the Western world. It is not anti-Semitic and not anti-Israel to convey these messages. On the contrary: the settlers, the conquerors and their political allies – including Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel – are the real enemies of Israel’s future….  I have decided to not buy any product that comes from the settlements. I do not cross the Green Line, not to promote public causes and not for family events.

US Campaign Endorses Russell Tribunal on Palestine
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is proud to endorse the upcoming New York Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, October 5-7. This is the fourth international session of the Russell Tribunal. During its 2010 London Session, I was privileged to testify at the tribunal about U.S. governmental complicity in providing the Israeli military with Caterpillar bulldozers. You can watch my testimony  by clicking here or on the picture to the left. Check out the third video “The Security Industry and the War Industry Part 2” beginning at 41:00.  But watch as many of the videos as you can.  All the testimonies were such powerful statements about corporate complicity in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians.

Palestine: a History of Nonviolence
The recent hunger strikes of almost 1,600 Palestinian prisoners represent a watershed juncture in nonviolent resistance in Palestine. While Palestinians have long utilized methods of nonviolence—dating back to Mandatory Palestine of the thirties and epitomized by the First Intifada of the eighties—only recently has a truly international effort appeared. In the midst of the Arab uprisings, the international attention on the region provides a moment of focus for civil resistance, and the nascent coalition of actors utilizing these methods is growing. While the groups have different agendas and tactics, their notable successes in recent months show that, regardless of divisions among them, strategic nonviolence is gaining powerful momentum in Palestine.
West must recognize peaceful Palestinian resistance movement
The West has been largely silent on Palestinian nonviolent resistance, which is unifying groups like Fatah and Hamas. Unless the West recognizes these peaceful initiatives, some Palestinians may question whether civil protest is any better than its violent alternative.

Real Story of the Six-Day War
Last Tuesday was the 45th anniversary of the outbreak of a war between Egypt and Israel that would reshape the Middle East. At 7.30am, on June 5, 1967, 200 Israeli fighter jets took off in a massive surprise attack, neutralizing Egypt’s air force before advancing ground troops to occupy Sinai, Golan Heights and the West Bank. Drumming up the pilots, Israeli Air Force Commander Mott Hod proclaimed: “The spirit of Israel’s heroes accompany us to battle… From Joshua Bin-Nun, King David and Maccabees… scatter him [the enemy] throughout the desert…”

Not on the Other Side of the Wall
About a third of the city’s residents are excluded from the celebrations, speeches and promises that speak of: “(Jerusalem) forever and always…freedom of religion… equality…” and other such hollow catchphrases. In addition, and much more importantly, those same residents aren’t granted their civil rights. Ever since the creation of the metropolis sphere called: “Greater Jerusalem”, which is the result of the intention to annex as much territory as possible with as few residents as possible, the basic rights of three hundred and sixty thousand Palestinians living in it, are not recognized. The city that had stretched its body like a spring up to the end of its reach, extending to the outskirts of Ramallah, has left the Palestinians who reside within it discriminated against by the actual classification given to them. Their blue identity card doesn’t provide them with citizenship (due to the ideology to preserve the Jewish majority), but only permanent residency, which in spite of the title doesn’t ensure them permanence as it might be removed through biased legislation or whim of the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Peled: Israel Chose to Fight in 1967, Laid Foundations of One State
In his op-ed in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times (6 Days in Israel, 45 Years Ago), Israeli-American activist Miko Peled contradicts common wisdom regarding the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.  Drawing on the experiences of his father, General Matti Peled, Mr. Peled asserts that Israel was not forced to preemptively strike due to an immediate, existential threat from its Arab neighbors.  Instead, he suggests that the Egyptian military was far from ready to attack Israel in 1967 and that Israel instigated the war based on the logic of “opportunity.”

Why Obama Will Free Jonathan Pollard, Grant Smith
The US Department of Justice has released new files about convicted spy Jonathan Pollard’s bid for presidential clemency.  Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 after passing more than a million highly classified documents to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy.  Documents in the Freedom of Information Act response (PDF) reference 32 pages of government agency deliberative communications and 37 pages of new communications between Pardon Attorney Ronald Rogers and Pollard’s legal team — all produced since July of 2011. While the contents have been withheld, their existence signals that the Pollard commutation request may be nearing a conclusion within the Obama administration.  June 18 could mark the culmination of a massive lobbying campaign for release.  Obama’s dismal record on Israeli accountability suggests Pollard will soon walk free.


Exposing Arab Bodies
In an exhibition than will run until 15 July, the Arab World Institute in Paris is tackling the stereotypical portrayal of Arab society in Western art, mobilizing the works of more than 200 Arab artists from the nineteenth century up until today.


Bahraini police wounded several people on Saturday morning when they fired sound bombs, tear gas and bird shot to disperse dozens who protested across several areas, witnesses said. ”Down Hamad,” chanted dozens of supporters of the youth group of the “Revolution of February 14,” referring to Bahrain’s monarch. “The people want to overthrow the regime.” ”We have the right to choose our destiny,” they chanted, waving the kingdom’s red and white flag. An exact toll of those hurt cannot be obtained, as wounded protesters are treated in homes from fear of being arrested in hospital.
Bahrain police forcefully disperse Shiite rally
Bahraini police wounded several people on Saturday morning when they fired sound bombs, tear gas and bird shot to disperse dozens who protested across several Shiite areas, witnesses said.
Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights is back in prison, only days after his release. The reason is his refusal to abandon his right to free speech and expression of opinion. Since his release he has been calling for more peaceful action by the people to continue the revolution and force the much-needed political change. Despite the regime’s repression, Mr Rajab has been un-repentant especially with his colleagues and hundreds of other citizens languishing in Al khalifa torture dungeons. His second arrest will only intensify the struggle and confirm the image of savagery, repression and authoritarianism of one of the West “staunchest” stooges. The prominent lawyer, Mohammad Al Tajir, who was detained and tortured last year has also been targeted by the dictator’s security apparatus. They circulated a video of his private life which was secretly filmed as he slept with his wife at their private chalet. This is one of the most despicable act any regime would commit.
Since anti-Al-Khalifa protests began early last year, Al-Tajer was persecuted for defending human rights and denouncing Bahraini repression publicly. Founded in 1922, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is the oldest international human rights organization. It represents 164 member organizations in over 100 countries. On April 18, 2011, it reported Al-Tajer’s arrest. Twenty “masked and armed (Bahraini) plainclothes men” stormed his house, ransacked it, arrested him, and detained him at an unknown location. His wife and children were terrorized. His computers, cell phones, and documents were confiscated. His bank account was frozen. He was forced to turn over keys to his law office. 

Media on Bahrain: An Interview with Alaa Shehabi, Adel Iskandar
Bahrain’s protracted and intransigent political deadlock remains one of the paradoxes of the Arab uprisings. At the nexus of regional influence, global political power, and economic interests, the human rights and democracy movement there face colossal challenges to realizing its goals. Not the least of these is a complicated network of media that both advantages and disadvantages the regime and its adversaries. In this video interview, we speak with Alaa Shehabi, a British-born Bahraini who is an economics lecturer, activist and writer on the varied aspects of media in this ongoing conflict. From the hyperbolic narratives of pro-government state media and the deafening silence of the Arabic media such as Al-Jazeera, to the growing dominion of cyberactivism and the increasing rhetoric of sectarianism. Shehabi explores the global media’s attention to the F-1 Formula race offering a chilling account of her arrest alongside a British journalist who was reporting on protests that coincided with the race. She gives a deeply unsettling description of what is effectively a media blackout on the small island kingdom and the struggle of a small population to break out of a soundproof enclosure. Shehabi is a human rights activist whose husband is a political prisoner in Bahrain. She holds a PhD from Imperial College London.


Jerusalem to become Egypt’s capital under Mursi’s rule, says Muslim cleric
If Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi became president, Egypt’s new capital will no more be Cairo, but the new capital will be Jerusalem, a prominent Egyptian cleric said at a presidential campaign rally, which was aired by an Egyptian private TV channel.

Egyptian TV warns against Israeli spies
Egyptians on FB and Twitter are going wild in circulating this.  Egyptian TV ran this clip warning of Israeli spies in Egypt.  


The Lede Blog: Egyptians Warned Not to Talk to Foreigners, ROBERT MACKEY
An advertisement on Egyptian television this week warned a talkative public not to open up to foreign visitors, in case their new friends turn out to be spies.


Future Egyptian president is sure to review Camp David accord, Philip Weiss

For many years, the Egyptian regime allowed Israel to have it both ways: to enjoy the benefits of peace with the most important Arab country while perpetrating a reality in the occupied territories that even the United States, Israel’s closest ally, believes to be illegal. The Israeli leaders adopted Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s perception that the Palestinian chapter in the Camp David Accords was just a fig leaf for the Egyptians. The Al Jazeera TV network will bring into the living rooms of millions of Egyptians the next images of Israeli soldiers chasing Palestinian demonstrators. And the Egyptian populace isn’t likely to let its leaders keep business as usual vis-à-vis the Jewish State.
Update: Tahrir protest grows as marchers reach the square
Protesters marching from mosques in Giza arrived in Tahrir Square on Friday afternoon carrying a 6-meter long banner bearing photos of the 25 January revolution martyrs. The number of participants in the protest has reached the thousands, Al-Masry Al-Youm estimated. Two marches, one from Istiqamah Mosque in Giza and one from Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen, had merged in Dokki. Marchers carried banners with sarcastic statements, such as “Urgent: Mubarak acquitted in retrial.” They also chanted for the fall of military rule and handed out flyers criticizing Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister who will compete in the upcoming presidential runoff. Earlier, dozens staged a march from Fatah Mosque in Ramses Square to Tahrir after Friday prayers to join a protest calling for the retrial of former regime members and the application of the Political Isolation Law, which would disqualify Shafiq from the election.

Hundreds protest Shafik candidacy in Egypt poll
Hundreds of people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday to demand that Hosni Mubarak’s last premier be banned from standing in a run-off election to replace the ousted president. The crowd also protested against what they consider lenient verdicts in the trial of Mubarak, his ex-interior minister and six police chiefs charged over the murder of demonstrators in the 2011 uprising that forced the president to resign.

A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment Friday, with the attackers overwhelming the male guardians and groping and molesting several of the female marchers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. From the ferocity of the assault, some of the victims said it appeared to have been an organized attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample on the pro-democracy protest movement. The attack follows smaller scale assaults on women this week in Tahrir, the epicenter of the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down last year. Thousands have been gathering in the square this week in protests over a variety of issues — mainly over worries that presidential elections this month will secure the continued rule by elements of Mubarak’s regime backed by the ruling military.

Blood money: Saudi Arabia approves $430 million in new aid to Egypt
Saudi Arabia said on Friday it had approved $430 million in project aid to Egypt and would allow Cairo to use a $750 million line of credit to import oil products.

Egypt Transition on Brink of Collapse, Sharif Abdel Kouddous
As Egypt enters the final days of its so-called “transition,” the entire political process is on the verge of collapse. The essential foundations of a post-Mubarak government that were supposed to have been lain over the past 16 months – the legislature, the presidency, the constitution – each suffer a crisis of legitimacy, the result of a military-managed transitional process so deformed that it barely make sense anymore. Meanwhile, the lack of any semblance of reform within key state institutions – most notably the security forces, the judiciary and the media – was reconfirmed in the most dramatic of ways this month with the verdict in the trial of Hosni Mubarak, his sons and other top regime officials.

The Mubarak Verdict and Its Discontents
With all eyes on the highly contentious Egyptian elections over the past several weeks, last week’s verdict in the trial of ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, and Habib al-Adly, Mubarak’s former Interior Minister, seemed to come almost out of the blue. The verdict against Mubarak and Adly: guilty. The sentence: life imprisonment.

Protests in Tahrir; Drones in Turkey’s Skies
This week we talk to Egyptian journalist Ahmad Shokr about the political landscape in his country after the pivotal verdict on Hosni Mubarak and members of his regime announced on Saturday, 2 June 2012. We’ll also discuss Turkey’s plans to purchase US armed drones with University of Indiana researcher, Burhan Althuran. Last year, the United States had moved four of its Predator drones from Iraq to Turkey, and now that country is trying to acquire armed drones of its own—the kind used by the US in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.;-drones-in-turkeys-skies-


Attacks in Iraq kill four: officials
Shootings and bombings in Iraq on Friday killed four people, including a parliamentary official and a senior emergency officer, officials said.

Iraq: Kurdish Politician Predicts No Regime Change: 11 Killed in Attacks
Qadir Aziz, general secretary of the Kurdistan Future Party, said that he doubts a no-confidence vote will take place because of disunity and lack of support from the U.S. Meanwhile, at least 11 Iraqis were killed and 7 more were wounded in the latest violence. Also, a series of bomb and mortar attacks against oil pipelines failed to stop the flow.        
Amnesty condemns ‘alarming’ Iraq execution rate
Amnesty International on Friday condemned the “alarming” increase in executions in Iraq, which has put at least 70 people to death this year, and urged Baghdad to stop using the death penalty.

Critics say politics tainting trial of Iraqi VP
Iraq’s first major trial dealing with the country’s savage Sunni-Shiite sectarian killings is tainted by politics, critics say — an ominous sign for those hoping for justice for tens of thousands of victims of street executions, bombings and kidnappings.

The veteran politician fears heightened political and sectarian tensions, intra-Shia rivalry, and external meddling could combine to “detonate the situation.” 
Iraqi Oil: The Tug-of-War Continues
As the Iraqi government announced the winners of a series of new contracts for oil and gas exploration and extraction in the country last week (May 30-31), a new clause was quietly inserted into all deals. It stipulated that all contracts offered would bind the winning parties to recognize Baghdad as Iraq’s sole oil authority. It might as well be dubbed the “Exxon clause,” as it was a reaction to a deal made between the US oil giant and the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). To say the deal — which granted Exxon access to Kurdistan’s oil without the agreement of the central government — infuriated Baghdad is an understatement of the highest variety.

Lebanon / Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels

Lebanese man killed in Tripoli gunfire
One person was killed on Friday and three others were wounded when gunfire hit an Alawi neighborhood of the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, a security official said. He said the man who died was killed by sniper fire in the port city’s mainly Alawi district of Jabal Mohsen, which faces the majority Sunni neighborhood of Bab al-Tebbaneh. The security official said gunfire between the two neighborhoods erupted after the shooting, prompting the army to intervene. Three people were wounded in the shootout. There were conflicting reports on how the shooting started.

Qabalan asks Turkey to intensify efforts in Lebanese kidnapping case
BEIRUT: Vice President of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Abdul-Amir Qabalan urged Turkey Wednesday to intensify efforts to release 11 Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria last month.

Syrian rebels holding 11 Lebanese Shia pilgrims hostage said they would release the men when their country had established a new “civil state” but left room for negotiations, a video obtained by Al Jazeera television showed. Some of the hostages in Syria’s north Aleppo province said in a video they were healthy and were treated like guests. ”The guests will be released by the Syrian civil state when their case is reviewed by a new democratic parliament,” said a written statement in the video shown on Al Jazeera, referring to rebel aims to topple President Bashar Assad. 
New video (in Arabic) of Lebanese hostages released by kidnappers, men are coerced to say that they are “guests” of the kidnappers.
The story did not matter. It did not get much coverage in the Western press – if at all. Western press has daily section about developments in Syria, but the story that innocent Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by Free Syrian Army (FSA) thugs did not warrant a story. No correspondent was assigned to the story (except in some Lebanese media). Western human rights organizations have been silent about the matter. If the innocent hostages had been kidnapped by the Syrian regime, the UN Security Council would have met in an emergency session. 

Syrian cities endure intense shelling
Activists report severe bombardments in Homs and Deraa as Russia says situation in country is becoming “more alarming”.
Rebels battle in Assad stronghold of Damascus
Bullets and shrapnel shells smashed into homes in the Syrian capital of Damascus overnight as troops battled rebels in the streets, a show of boldness for rebels taking their fight against President Bashar Assad to the center of his power.
More than 20 killed in Syria: NGO
Rebels and regime troops clashed in a district of the Syrian capital as scores of protests were held across the strife-torn country and more than 20 people killed on Friday, monitors said.

Video reportedly leaked from Syrian Army in Idlib
A Video posted online by an activist is said to show Syrian soldiers mocking the dead. They appear to be piling up corpses in a building in the town of al-Hammama in Idlib. Activists say it was shot on March 21 this year. Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught reports.

Dozens of Kuwaitis are fighting with the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) after crossing from Turkey, the Gulf emirate’s Al-Qabas newspaper reported on Sunday, citing the fighters’ relatives. The daily said that “dozens of Kuwaitis have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border with the aim of fighting alongside the FSA against Syrian regime forces.” Relatives of the fighters said they were in contact with them and that “there are large groups from Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Pakistan” ready to join the armed uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime that broke out in March last year.
Video uploaded to a social media website purports to show a bomb being detonated by Free Syrian Army rebels in Damascus on Friday. The target was a bus carrying Syrian army soldiers.
Reporter Accuses Syrian Rebels of Luring Him Into Death Trap
A British television journalist attempting to gain access to the site of a reported massacre in Syria accused rebel fighters on Friday of trying to get him and his colleagues killed by the Syrian military in an effort to draw condemnation against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. “I’m quite clear the rebels deliberately set us up to be shot by the Syrian Army,” the reporter, Alex Thomson, wrote in a first person account. “Dead journos are bad for Damascus.”

Set up to be shot in Syria’s no man’s land?
I’m quite clear the rebels deliberately set us up to be shot by the Syrian Army. Dead journos are bad for Damascus. That conviction only strengthened half an hour later when our four friends in the same beaten-up black car suddenly pulled out of a side-street, blocking us from the UN vehicles ahead. The UN duly drove back past us, witnessed us surrounded by shouting militia, and left town. Eventually we got out too and on the right route, back to Damascus.


UN mission ‘can’t say who to blame’ in Hama massacre

After dozens were reported slaughtered in the Syrian village of al-Qubair, UN observers have been seeking to establish the truth on the events. Yet as the government and opposition accuse each other, the team admits it can’t say who was to blame.

Syrian National Council elects Kurd as its new leader
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council, elected Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida as its leader at a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, a council statement said. Sida, who has been living in exile in Sweden for many years, was the only candidate for the three-month presidency of the SNC at a meeting of 33 members of the councils’ general secretariat. The 56-year-old succeeds Burhan Ghalioun, a liberal opposition figure who had presided over the council since it was formed in August of last year. 
Free Syrian Army steps up training
Many of the opposition fighters in Syria are part of the so-called Free Syrian Army, which was founded last July when a group of military officers deserted.   And as Al Jazeera’s Tarek Bazley reports, the army is growing in strength.

Ban: UN monitors shot at trying to reach massacre
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says U.N. monitors were shot at trying to get to the scene of the latest Syrian massacre.

UN monitors in Syria reach ‘massacre site’
Observers arrive in Mazraat al-Qubayr as activists say Syrian forces are preparing to storm rebel-held district of Homs.

Red Cross: Syria “extremely tense”
The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose relief workers are on the ground in Syria, on Friday described the situation as “extremely tense” in many parts of the country. The ICRC said it was attempting to bring humanitarian aid to 1.5 million people affected directly or indirectly by the bloodshed. “Currently the situation is extremely tense, not only in Houla and in Hama but in many, many places around the country,” spokesman Hicham Hassan told journalists.

Syria peace plan not working, U.N. envoy Kofi Annan says
Kofi Annan tells the United Nations that Syria is headed toward civil war. Diplomats consider involving Iran in negotiations with Bashar Assad’s government.,0,2547845.story

China against ‘outside armed intervention’ in Syria
China said Thursday it was firmly opposed to “outside armed intervention” in Syria or “any attempt to forcibly promote regime change” amid mounting violence in the country, Xinhua reported.

Russia: Syrians must decide Assad’s fate
Russia would accept a Yemen-style power transition in Syria if it were decided by the people, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Thursday, deflecting Western calls for President Bashar Assad to yield power. The United States is seeking Russia’s support in getting Assad to step aside, but Mikhail Bogdanov said the president’s fate was “not a question for us” but for the Syrian people. “Application of the so-called Yemen scenario to resolve the conflict in Syria is possible only if the Syrians themselves agree to it,” Bogdanov said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Sadr says his followers not fighting in Syria
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday insisted that claims his supporters were involved in fighting in Syria were false, but said members of “splinter” groups could be involved in the violence.

Saudi religious authority forbids ‘jihad’ in Syria
A member of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority prohibited on Thursday any acts of jihad in Syria. Sheikh Ali al-Hikmi of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars issued a fatwa forbidding jihad after calls for such action have increased in recent months. Al-Hikmi warned, in a statement to the Saudi daily Alsharq, against the calls for jihad in Syria on online social networks, adding that different methods can be used to support Syrian people.

Syrian woman blogger gets human rights award
Syrian woman blogger Razan Ghazzawi has been honoured with this year’s Human Rights Defenders at Risk award by the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders foundation, the group announced on Friday.

Syria’s Creative Resistance, Layla Al-Zubaidi
Bashar al-Assad snores, his head twitching on a large white pillow. Suddenly, he wakes up. “The people want to overthrow me!” he screams, the pompom on his nightcap bouncing.  A military officer approaches, pats him on the head and whispers gently, as if comforting a toddler: “Don’t worry, my dear Mr. President, nobody wants to bring you down. Go back to sleep.” “But I dreamed that the people don’t love me anymore!” “We all love you, Mr. President”, says the officer, “but you have to rest. Tomorrow is Friday and we have a lot of work to do!” Bashar lies back on his pillow and dozes off. “Sleep…sleep…let nothing disturb your dreams”, the officer croons: “You will see how we deal with terrorists, Salafis and conspirators. We’ll get rid of them for you…”

Spare Us the Western Morality on Syria, Antoun Issa
As news of yet another massacre in Syria surfaces – this time in the farm village of Al-Kubeir near Hama – we can only imagine the moral outrage expressed by Western governments that will soon inundate media outlets. Much of Western identity centers on a pillar of high civility, and by extension, high morality. It is a lingering legacy from colonialism where the West re-invokes its perception of the current world, where it is the civilized, and those beyond, hapless barbarians. It re-invoked that perception after the Houla massacre, where it once again reminded the world of its high moral authority and self-righteousness in lecturing others on their inhumane ways.

Syria Crisis: Less Lebanon, More Turkey
As diplomatic deadlock ensures that the conflict in Syria is set to drag on, officials say the US wants to see opposition enclaves established on the borders with Turkey rather than Lebanon.

The Euro crisis will look like a walk in the park if Syria explodes
If the violence in Syria escalates, with or without Assad, and outsiders intervene, it will be almost impossible to confine the turmoil within that country’s borders.

Other World News

NATO apologizes for killing Afghan civilians
The US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan has apologized over the deaths of civilians in an air strike this week, a spokesman said Friday. General John Allen flew to Logar province “to see local leaders and the population to apologize and offer condolences to the families”, Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson told AFP. This is the first public acknowledgement by NATO that civilians died in the air strike on a home in the province in the early hours of Wednesday. Afghan officials said 18 civilians, including women and children, were killed.

“Private”: Bradley Manning’s Story, From Difficult Childhood to Alleged Whistleblower on World Stage
The new book, “Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History,” tracks Manning’s trajectory from growing up as a gay teen in small-town Oklahoma to joining the U.S. Army, where he found success as an intelligence analyst before being charged with the largest U.S. intelligence breach on record. We speak with the book’s author, Denver Nicks. “In many ways Bradley Manning’s story is the story of the United States in the post-9/11 era,” Nicks says. “[His] life is sort of quintessentially American, in that he’s gay at a time when gay rights goes mainstream. He joins the Army — and as an intelligence analyst, no less — at a time when the national security state really starts to metastasize into something that we have never seen before. … We have more people with more access to more secret information than ever before, while we are living in the post-9/11 era of foreign policy conducted, as Dick Cheney said, in the shadows. We are more dependent than ever on leaks to know what our government is doing. Leaks are not only inevitable, but necessary. … Bradley Manning had access to an extraordinary amount of classified information — more, in fact, than he leaked.”

Ahead of September Trial, Bradley Manning Seeks Withheld Gov’t Evidence and Dismissal of 10 Charges
For just the third time since he was arrested over two years ago, alleged Army whistleblower Bradley Manning was seen by the public this week at a pretrial hearing in a military court at Fort Meade, Maryland. The 24-year-old private is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, including secret files on the Iraq and Afghan wars. Manning’s attorneys are seeking the dismissal of 10 of the counts against Manning as well as the release of hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the alleged leak. We speak with Kevin Gosztola, a civil liberties blogger at who has been attending Manning’s pretrial hearing.

Muslim Group Files Landmark Suit Challenging NYPD Surveillance in Northeast
Eight American Muslims from New Jersey have filed a federal lawsuit calling on the New York City Police Department to stop its surveillance and intelligence-gathering program that targets Muslim and Arab communities. Under the controversial program, New York City police officers monitored the daily life of Muslims in the tri-city area and across the Northeast — including where people ate, prayed and even where they got their hair cut. We speak to Glenn Katon, legal director at Muslim Advocates, the group that filed the lawsuit. “When the NYPD says basically all Muslims are suspect, it seems clear to us that that violates equal protection of the law,” Katon says.

Sanctions-hit Iran on Saturday blasted fellow OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates as oil quota “violators,” accusing them of depressing global crude prices by over-pumping. Iran’s OPEC representative, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, said Tehran had officially protested to the cartel that Saudi Arabia was “saturating the market” under pressure from the United States and the European Union, according to the official IRNA news agency. 

Australian officials were on Sunday seeking access to an Australian lawyer detained in Libya as she was arranging the defense for slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam, a government spokesman said. Melinda Taylor was one of four International Criminal Court staff detained and sources in Libya have said she was arrested after trying to pass documents to Seif. A commander with the Zintan brigade, the former rebel fighters who captured Seif and are still holding him, said one of the lawyers with the group had been trying to pass “dangerous” documents to him.

7 Responses

  1. Linda J
    Linda J
    June 10, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Statistics [shocking graphic] —
    Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons 2011-2012

    from 1948 Lest We Forget

  2. American
    June 10, 2012, 6:06 pm

    Kidnapping the children is likely the Israeli way of terrorizing and threatening the parents and families.

    • annie
      June 10, 2012, 7:51 pm

      of course, stealing the children can be particularly effective. palestinians have demonstrated repeatedly to have an attachment to their own children.

      • seafoid
        June 11, 2012, 11:08 am

        Palestinians should apologise to Israel for making it kill their children. Isn’t that more or less what Golda Meir said ?

    • Sumud
      June 10, 2012, 8:03 pm

      That, but also they need to terrorise the kids at an early age to permanently traumatise them – and plant the seeds of hatred.

      Israel is threatened by peace, not war.

      For Israel, the second intifadah were good times, because they could spin it their way. You’ll notice the sad lot pushing hasbara still refer to suicide bombings despite it being some years since they stopped…

  3. chocopie
    June 10, 2012, 7:17 pm

    Just saw a puff piece about the youngest Obama turning 11. I wish someone at a press conference would congratulate Obama on his daughter’s birthday and then ask if he’s aware Israel just seized an 11-year-old. And ask Obama how he thinks an 11-year-old will hold up under Israeli interrogation.

    Israel is threatened by theater groups and fifth-graders.

  4. Taxi
    June 11, 2012, 5:13 am

    I’m beginning to think that arresting Palestinian children is a turn-on for members of the idf.

    Oh the thrill of seeing the climax of terror on little faces!

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