Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is Israel partisan

JTA - "Kagan explains Barak remarks" -- U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan said her admiration for a former Israeli chief justice was rooted in her Jewishness and admiration for Israel.

She offered a similar explanation, if less passionate, for her penchant for Chinese food on Christmas.

Kagan, the U.S. solicitor general tapped by President Obama for the high court, has come under fire from conservatives for a speech she gave welcoming Aharon Barak when she was dean of the Harvard Law School. Barak was her "hero," she said...

Guess Who Wants to Kill the Internet? Joseph Lieberman

Maidhc O' Cathail
It would be hard to think of anyone who has done more to undermine American freedoms than Joseph Lieberman. Since 9/11, the Independent senator from Connecticut has introduced a raft of legislation in the name of the “global war on terror” which has steadily eroded constitutional rights. If the United States looks increasingly like a police state, Senator Lieberman has to take much of the credit for it. 

On October 11, 2001, exactly one month after 9/11, Lieberman introduced S. 1534, a bill to establish a Department of Homeland Security. Since then, he has been the main mover behind such draconian legislation as the Protect America Act of 2007, the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, and the proposed Terrorist Expatriation Act, which would revoke the citizenship of Americans suspected of terrorism. And now the senator from Connecticut wants to kill the Internet. 

According to the bill he recently proposed in the Senate, the entire global internet is to be claimed as a “national asset” of the United States. If Congress passes the bill, the US President would be given the power to “kill” the internet in the event of a “national cyber-emergency.” Supporters of the legislation say this is necessary to prevent a “cyber 9/11” – yet another myth from the fearmongers who brought us tales of “Iraqi WMD” and “Iranian nukes.”

Lieberman’s concerns about the internet are not new. The United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which Lieberman chairs, released a report in 2008 titled “Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat.” The report claimed that groups like al-Qaeda use the internet to indoctrinate and recruit members, and to communicate with each other.

Immediately after the report was published, Lieberman asked Google, the parent company of You Tube, to “immediately remove content produced by Islamist terrorist organizations.” That might sound like a reasonable request. However, as far as Lieberman is concerned, Hamas, Hezbollah and even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are terrorist organizations.

It’s hardly surprising that Lieberman’s views on what constitute terrorism parallel those of Tel Aviv. As Mark Vogel, chairman of the largest pro-Israel Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States, once said: “Joe Lieberman, without exception, no conditions … is the No. 1 pro-Israel advocate and leader in Congress. There is nobody who does more on behalf of Israel than Joe Lieberman.”

Lieberman has been well-rewarded for his patriotism – to another country. In the past six years, he has been the Senate’s top recipient of political contributions from pro-Israel PACs with a staggering $1,226,956. 

But what is it that bothers Lieberman so much about the internet? Could it be that it allows ordinary Americans access to facts which reveal exactly what kind of “friend” Israel has been to its overgenerous benefactor? Facts which they have been denied by the pro-Israel mainstream media.

How much faith would American voters have in the likes of Lieberman, who claims that the Jewish state is their greatest ally, if they knew that Israeli agents planted firebombs in American installations in Egypt in 1954 in an attempt to undermine relations between Nasser and the United States; that Israel murdered 34 American servicemen in a deliberate attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967; that Israeli espionage, most notably Jonathan Pollard’s spying, has done tremendous damage to American interests; that five Mossad agents were filming and celebrating as the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001; that Tel Aviv and its accomplices in Washington were the source of the false pre-war intelligence on Iraq; and about countless other examples of treachery? 

In his latest attempt to censor the internet, does Lieberman really want to protect the American people from imaginary cyber-terrorists? Or is he just trying to protect his treasonous cronies from the American people?

The Costs of Occupation: A Better Blockade?

CounterPunch - Nadia Hijab - After locking itself up for hours on end, Israel's security cabinet finally emerged to announce an easing of its blockade on Gaza, a move immediately welcomed by the United States. Israel and the U.S. hope to defuse world outrage over the collective punishment of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there and to prevent future flotillas from trying to break the siege.

Will they succeed? It is tempting to think that the flagrant illegality of attacking unarmed humanitarians on the open seas is bound to lead to an end to the blockade. However, Palestinian analyst Mouin Rabbani has warned against over-optimism. He notes that after the horror of Israel's 2008-9 attacks on Gaza the blockade was not only kept in place; it was tightened.

Yet America and Israel are fighting a losing battle in their efforts to devise a kinder, gentler blockade for the simple reason that there is no such thing. Activists, the United Nations, and the human rights community are saying more loudly than ever that the blockade is against the law -- international law.

Activists appear to have the upper hand at the moment, as more ships head to Gaza to try to break Israel's naval blockade. And they are being organized not only by groups in Iran, Lebanon and Turkey; European Jews for a Just Peace are also organizing a flotilla.

EJJP, an umbrella group of Jewish groups from 10 European countries, plans to deliver humanitarian aid but its purpose is primarily political. The activists want to focus attention on the "immoral" blockade. And, German organizer Edith Lutz told The Huffington Post, "We are frightened that Israeli policies will help anti-Semitism. We also want to show that these actions are not Jewish.

Meanwhile, UN organizations have lined up in the past few weeks to counter Israeli claims that there is no "humanitarian crisis." The World Health Organization has warned that the health system is on the verge of collapse. The UN's Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory has said that Gaza's agricultural sector is suffocating, noting that the "absurdity" of a situation in which Gaza's coastal population is forced to import fish through tunnels. And the UN Secretary General repeatedly says that the blockade must be completely lifted.

The most damning report in recent weeks has perhaps been that of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The ICRC rarely speaks out, but it has clearly stated that the closure constitutes collective punishment in clear violation of Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law. And, should anyone need affirmation that there is no such thing as a better blockade, the ICRC says the hardship facing Gaza's Palestinians cannot be addressed by providing more humanitarian aid: "The only sustainable solution is to lift the closure."

The way Israel plans to ease the blockade gets nowhere near lifting the closure. For example, all food will be allowed in -- but not materials that will enable Palestinians to grow their own food. And Israel's "security envelope" will remain in place, including the naval blockade.

Israeli forces seize 5 Palestinians, including 12-year-old; two women miscarry, man loses eye

Ma’an – Israeli forces seized five Palestinians, including a 12-year-old child, from Silwan in East Jerusalem at dawn on Tuesday.

Ma’an’s Jerusalem correspondent said the detentions relate to the clashes that erupted in Silwan on Saturday.

The detainees were identified as Ahmad and Nasser Abu Nab, Ahmad Awad, Ahmad Abu Thiab, and 12-year-old Baha Ar-Rajabi.

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said he was not immediately familiar with the arrests, but would look into the report.

The violent clashes in the flash point neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem began on Saturday night and continued until dawn on Monday.

Palestinian medical sources reported treating at least 52 Palestinians on the scene. Nineteen-year-old Ala Abu Nab, who was five-months pregnant, was taken to the Red Cross hospital where medics aborted her baby. Ala’s husband said she went into shock when Israeli forces attempted to enter their home, firing tear gas grenades and sound bombs.

Raja Sameren had to undergo an induced miscarriage after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli forces toward houses in Silwan. The 32-year-old mother was three-months pregnant.

Muhammad Mahmud Al-Qawasmi lost his eye when he was hit in the face by a sound grenade. 

Background on Silwan
More Info on Silwan

Human rights groups condemn Israeli decision to expel 4 Palestinian politicians

13,000 Palestinians have had their Jerusalem residency revoked since 1967
 Israeli human-rights groups and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, have condemned a decision by Israel to expel four Palestinian politicians from East Jerusalem by the end of this week.

The Israeli government revoked their residency rights in Jerusalem a few weeks ago, after claiming they were “in breach of trust” for belonging to a "foreign parliament," a reference to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

All four men belong to Hamas and were arrested a few months after taking part in the Palestinian national elections in January 2006. They remained in jail until recently as “bargaining chips” for the release of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who is being held captive by Hamas.

Observers say Israel’s move reflects its anger at Hamas’ growing hold on the political sympathies of Jerusalem’s 260,000 Palestinians and is designed to further entrench a physical separation Israel has been imposing on East Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank.

Israel has not said where the three MPs and a former cabinet minister will be expelled to. The loss of residency effectively leaves the politicians stateless, in breach of international law, according to human-rights lawyers.

Hassan Jabareen, the director of the Adalah legal center for the Palestinian minority in Israel, said a “very dangerous precedent” was being set. “It is the first time Palestinians in East Jerusalem have had their residency revoked for being ‘disloyal’ and this could be used to expel many other residents whose politics Israel does not like.

“This is a draconian measure characteristic of dark and totalitarian regimes,” he said.

The January 2006 vote for the Palestinian Legislative Council, in which Hamas won a majority of seats against its Fatah rivals, was the first time the Islamic party had participated in a national election.

Jerusalem politicians were allowed to stand only after the international community insisted that Israel honor the terms of the Oslo accords.

No World Cup in Gaza as Strip drowns in darkness

Ma’an – While football matches entertain the rest of the world, few in Gaza will enjoy the privilege, as most houses do not have electricity.

Gaza local Abu Muhammad followed the Algeria – Slovenia match on the local radio, but said he was sad that he could only hear the game and not watch it.

Although coffee shops and restaurants are showing the games, the high unemployment rate in the Strip means most residents of Gaza cannot afford to go.

Electricity is a major problem in the besieged enclave, disrupting hospitals, schools water and sewage systems.

Generators brought in through the tunnels are expensive and dangerous. Nasim Abu Jame, from Khan Younis, lost his three children when an electric generator exploded causing a fire.

Israeli forces detain PA security officer

Ma'an – Israeli forces detained a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces during an overnight raid of the Idhna village in the southern West Bank district of Hebron on Monday.

A PA security source said Nour Ad-Din Al-Kharouf, 33, was detained after Israeli forces raided his home and took him to an unknown location...

40 Bedouin Families Face Further Expulsions by Israel, 24-hour notice

IMEMC - The al-Quds Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights reported that some 40 Bedouin families in the al-Farsiyya area, in the northern Plaines of the Jordan Valley, received official notices from Israel ordering them to leave their areas.

The families have been living in the area for several decades having been previously forced out of another area, due to Israel’s illegal policies and the construction of settlements.

The center said that the orders did not give the families more than 24-hour notice; an issue that would make it practically impossible for them to present the needed ownerships documents or to appeal the decision.

The issue is similar to that which happened in al-Hadidiyya area, near the central West Bank district of Tubas ten days ago, with the Israeli army handing orders to 13 families forcing them to leave. The 13 families were the last of original 50 families that once lives in the area.

The center described the orders as an act of ethnic cleansing, as Israel wants to replace them with Jewish settlers and wants to force them to live in isolated area, similar to the actions of the white National Party regime during apartheid in South Africa.

It also said that it is trying to appeal against the decision, and appealed to other human rights and legal organizations to intervene immediately in order to prevent the expulsion of the families.

The center also called on the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, to act on the regional and international levels in order to expose the illegal Israeli measures and to save the families.

In a previous report, the center said that 21 residents living in Majdal Bani Fadel village, 9 in Yitma near Nablus, 5 in Jinsafut near Qalqilia, 9 in Kafr Ed Deek, and two from Hares village near Salfit, received similar orders this month as the army intends to demolish their homes, hothouses and barns.

The center is currently representing the families in an attempt to void the illegal Israeli decisions that target the very existence of the Palestinians in their homeland.

PMRS: “52% of Gaza Children Suffer From Malnutrition”

IMEMC - A study conducted by the Palestinian Medical Relief Association (PMRS) revealed that 52% of the children in Gaza suffer from anaemia, and severe deficiency in phosphor, calcium and zinc, while a significant number of children suffer from infections in their respiratory systems.
The statement came during a ceremony marking the end of the first phase of a project meant to evaluate the psychological conditions of children in the Gaza Strip. The project is conducted with the cooperation of a humanitarian society in Italy.

The study revealed that the sharp increase of unemployment in the Gaza Strip led to an increase in the number of children who had to do different types of work in order to help their families.

It also stated that the ongoing Israeli invasions, bombardment and attacks, especially in border areas, has a direct impact on the health and psychological conditions of Gaza children.
Adnan al-Waheedy, head of the PMRS, stated that this project is meant to prevent and stop the deterioration of health and psychological conditions of the children in Gaza living in poverty, under the ongoing Israeli siege and repeated attacks by the Israeli military.

Al-Waheedy added that this project helped nearly 4,000 children and 6,000 families, as the children were given vitamins, iron and other medications needed to treat malnutrition and anaemia.

Russia To Send 50 Armored Vehicles To The P.A.

IMEMC - Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, stated that the Palestinian Authority will soon receive 50 Russian armored vehicles that were donated by Russia several years ago but Israel opposed the delivery.

Visiting Ramallah, Lavrov said that the armored vehicles are currently in Jordan and that he hopes they will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank in the coming days.

The Russian official visited Egypt and Spain and held talks with leaders of the Quartet Committee for Middle East Peace. The Quartet Committee has representatives from Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

The vehicles were offered by Russia in 2005 and are reportedly meant to help the P.A. maintain order. [The US also has been supplying weaponry to the PA to use to repress supporters of Hamas, which won the election.]

But Israel strongly objected to the deal and said that they could fall in the hands of the Hamas movement, but later on authorized the transfer.

Referring to the Middle East peace process with Israel, Lavrov said that Russia supports all efforts that would transform proximity talks into direct negotiations, and added that Palestinian unity is essential to the success of peace talks.

He also said that Russia wants the siege on Gaza lifted, and that his country heard statements made by Israeli government officials regarding easing the siege, and is now awaiting actual implementation of such statements.

As for the Iranian issue, Lavrov urged the United States to hold talks with Iran in order to avoid the military option.

He will be holding talks with U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, in Geneva this coming Friday. The meeting is considered the first high ranking meeting between officials of Russia and the United States since Barak Obama was elected president.

Russia is urging more diplomacy with Iran, while the United States and several European countries believe that the Iranian nuclear agenda is aimed at manufacturing weapons.

Jordan Union Members Denied Entry To Gaza

IMEMC - The Egyptian Authorities denied Jordanian professional union members from crossing the Rafah Border Terminal into Gaza. Members of the Union stayed four days at the terminal but where eventually forced back. Full Story

Indonesian Parliamentarians Arrive In Gaza

IMEMC - A number of Indonesian parliamentarians arrived in the Gaza Strip, on Tuesday morning, in a visit that is only expected to last for six hours. Full Story

Yemen Islamic Activists Collect Donations To Send Ships To Gaza

IMEMC - Several Islamist activists in Yemen launched a campaign to collect donations in order to prepare a Yemeni Flotilla that would sail to Gaza to deliver humanitarian supplies. Full Story

Hizbullah Condemns Israeli Abduction of Lebanese Shepherd: When Will International Laws become Tool to Deter Aggressor?

Hizbullah condemned on Tuesday Israel's abduction of Lebanese shepherd Imad Atwi in southern Lebanon, demanding the international community to hold Israel responsible for its violations.

It said in a statement: "When will international laws become tools to deter an aggressor instead of providing it with cover to intensify its crimes under the United States' protection and its veto power that it uses to prevent the condemnation of such crimes?"

It said of the abduction: "This criminal act is a new link in an ongoing series of Zionist assaults against Lebanon and the Lebanese that are taking place under the watchful eyes of the United Nations forces that are responsible for taking tangible measures to thwart such practices."

"The crimes is an assault on Lebanon and its state, security, citizens, and sovereignty before the silence of the international community that stands helpless before Zionist violations of the borders, laws, and sovereignty of nations," the statement stressed.

6,945 Violations Since Adoption of 1701: Lebanon Urges World to Stop Israeli Threats

Lebguide - On the eve of his report on the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, the Lebanese government urged Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to pressure Israel into implementing the resolution.

In a letter to Ban, Lebanon said Israel had violated its airspace 347 times since the U.N. chief's last report. It added that the Jewish state carried out respectively 33 and 75 sea and land violations.

Total violations since the adoption of 1701 in 2006 reached 6,945, according to the letter. It referred to increased Israeli threats to Lebanon saying "they have reached a point of threatening full destruction of its (the country's) infrastructure."

In the letter, Lebanon urged the international community to make all efforts to put an end to such threats that destabilize Lebanon.

Iranian ships could join wave of flotillas to Gaza, says Hamas chief, at least 8 ships from Gulf

UK Independent - Donald Macintyre, in Gaza City
Monday, 28 June 2010
A top Hamas leader has warned Israel to expect more Gaza-bound pro-Palestinian flotillas over the next two months, including vessels "from the Gulf". Mahmoud Zahar, often seen as the dominant figure in Hamas's political leadership in Gaza, said that he had been informed by "people ... from the Gulf states" that "after the Mondial [World Cup] at least eight ships will come from the Gulf".

Dr Zahar did not name the states involved but when asked if they included Iran he replied: "Why not?" It is over four weeks since a Turkish-led flotilla was halted by a lethal Israeli commando raid which led to the deaths of nine activists and provoked an international outcry. 

In an interview with The Independent, the Hamas leader also accused the Israeli government of reneging on a prisoner swap agreement which he insisted could have led to the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. "Up to this moment, the Israeli intention is not to have an agreement," he claimed.

Dr Zahar said that those in Hamas's military wing presumed to be holding Sgt Schalit were still refusing to allow the Red Cross or any other independent humanitarian organisation to visit him, "I asked that to the people concerned and they said to me it [a visit] was impossible." Asked whether it was believable that the Red Cross would use a humanitarian visit to pass details of the abducted sergeant's whereabouts to Israel, he said: "I trust nobody."

The Hamas leader insisted that during the last negotiations, brokered by a German mediator, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had agreed to a first list of 325 Palestinian prisoners to be released and on the principle that another 125 would be nominated by the Islamic faction and approved by Israel. But "everything changed" after a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet. Dr Zahar declined to answer a question about whether the German mediator was still active.

Claiming that there would be more flotillas "than in your expectations", he said that he also expected further vessels to set out for Gaza during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, which begins this year on 11 August. On the possibility that Egypt might prevent a flotilla from the Gulf passing through the Suez Canal en route to Gaza, he said; "They have the right in international law to go as the Israelis go. Egypt will never be able to stop such a campaign." And on the possibility that Iran might sponsor a vessel or vessels, he said: "I ask you about morality. Where is your morality if Iran is going to give food and drugs? What justifies preventing that? Give me the basis [for that] from your bible."

The Hamas co-founder was bitterly critical of Western policy towards Hamas and Gaza over the four and half years since the Islamic faction won the last Palestinian elections. "Why did the Western people boycott Hamas after the election?" he asked. "Because they want a new Karzai in Palestine". He was equally contemptuous of Western support for the blockade imposed by Israel when Hamas seized control in a short but bloody civil war with its Fatah rivals and coalition partners in June 2007. He claimed the closure of Gaza conformed to Western definitions of "terrorism" by using "violence" to change the attitudes of its victims. "I am asking you, why did you accept this process four years ago?"

But he appeared to derive considerable satisfaction from recent pressure put by the international Quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russia on Israel to relax the blockade – "a big change" which he attributed to popular discontent within the Western states that he claimed was exemplified by the flotillas. Lamenting that the change of heart had followed what he said were 2,000 Palestinian deaths in "two wars" against Gaza – one after the seizure of Sgt Gilad Schalit in 2006 and the other the winter offensive of 2008-09, he said: "Everybody is fed up with this policy. The politicians in the West don't have a heart, they have a dry morality. But the people – and this was proved drastically – were ready to sacrifice their lives [to force a change of policy]."

Asked whether there had been close ties between Hamas and the main Turkish organisation involved in organising the flotilla, he replied derisively. "It's a big mistake to have such a linkage with Turkey, which is Muslim? A linkage between Turkey which is Muslim and Israel which is Jewish is honey but one between Muslim and Muslim is a mistake, a crime?"

But Dr Zahar, who survived an Israeli assassination attempt which killed his son in 2003, was as uncompromising as ever in rejecting the three pre-conditions imposed by the Quartet for ending its boycott of contacts with Hamas – recognition of Israel, adherence to past agreements with Israel and renuciation of violence. "What is the real border of Israel? What about the occupation of Jerusalem what about the occupation of the Golan Heights? I ask Israelis to renounce violence," he said. "I ask your country and then the Americans to renounce violence in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan and then we are going to speak about renouncing violence."

He also roundly blamed Fatah – which he said had a past history of "100 per cent" corruption – for the lack of progress in talks on reconciliation between the two factions. He said Fatah needed to rescind what he claimed was its "refusal" to recognise the 2006 election result.

Dr Zahar strongly defended the executions of those identified as collaborators, or "spies" for Israel, while acknowledging that "not many" ex-collaborators offered an amnesty which is due to end next month had come forward. He sought to brush aside persistent criticisms that the regime in Gaza – as well as the Fatah dominated one in the West Bank – had acted repressively against politicial opponents. He also said that Hamas had eliminated kidnapping of foreigners since its success in freeing the BBC correspondent Alan Johnston.

Israel Currently Imprisons 6,800 Palestinians, Including 300 Children, more stats

Bernama -- There are currently 6,800 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, including 300 children, 34 women, and 213 detainees in administrative detention, a Palestinian Researcher who specialised in detainees' affairs, and former detainee, Abdul-Nasser Farawna said.

According to Qatar News Agency (QNA), in a report published here Tuesday by the International Middle East Media Centre (IMEMC), Farawna said that eleven elected legislators were still imprisoned by Israel.

There are also nearly 1,500 detainees who were ill and needed urgent medical attention with dozens of them needing surgeries and constant hospitalisation.

He also said that the detainees were held in nearly twenty prisons, detention and interrogation centres, mainly in Ramon, Shatta, Galboa', Asqalan, Hadarim, Al Damoun, Be'er Sheva, Ofer, Majoddo and the Negev detention camp.

Most of the detainees (83 per cent) are from the West Bank, and 10.6 per cent from Gaza while the rest are Arab residents of Israel and other Arab nationals.

A total of 800 detainees were sentenced to at least one life-term, 590 were sentenced to more than twenty years, 472 to more than 15 years, 15 were sentenced to more than 15 and less than 20 years, while 710 were sentenced to more than 20 years and several life-terms.

There are 213 detainees who are imprisoned under administrative detention orders without charge or trial, and seven detainees from Gaza are detained under what Israel descibes as "illegal combatants".

A total of 309 detainees were arrested before the first Oslo agreement and before the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, 117 detainees were arrested more than 20 years ago and 17 detainees arrrested more than 19 years ago.

Detainees Nael Al Barghouthi, Fakhri Al Barghouthi and Akram Mansour have been imprisoned for more than 30 years.

Farawna called on Human Rights groups, related institutions and the media to highlight the issue of the detainees and to launch solidarity campaigns demanding their release.

He added that the captured prisoner-of-war, Gilad Shalit, held by the resistance in Gaza, should not be released until all detainees, especially those who have spent so many years behind bars, and those sentenced to long prison terms, are released.

Corporal Gilad Shalit is the only Israeli held by the Palestinians. He was captured on June 26, 2006, according to QNA.

Israeli Air Strike Kills One Palestinian, Wounds Another, In Gaza

IMEMC - sources reported on Monday evening that resident was killed and another was wounded when the Israeli Force bombarded al-Shujaeyya neighborhood east of City.

The attack was apparently carried out by an unmanned drone, and was immediately followed by artillery shells.

The slain resident was identified as Bassam Badwan, 29, while resident was wounded.

Badwan died of his after his legs were severed from his body and due to numerous to other parts of his body.

Medics are trying to coordinate with the Red Cross in order to be allowed to enter the area to search for residents who could have been wounded during the shelling as local sources reported that two more residents were wounded.

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said that Badwan is of its members.

Turkey Closes Airspace to Israeli Military

IMEMC - Turkey's Prime Minister announces that Turkey's airspace was closed to Israeli military flights after the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla this past May.
The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told the press in Canada that the ban came after the attack on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara. The attack left nine people dead; eight were Turkish citizens and the ninth was a Turkish-American citizen.

This comes to light as Israeli news outlets reported over the weekend that Turkish flight officials barred an Israeli flight carrying military officers from entering Turkish airspace. They were on their way to tour Auschwitz in Poland.

The diplomatic rift between Turkey and Israel continues to grow wider as Israel is being stubborn in its response to Turkey's requests following the loss of life on May 31.

Turkey has only asked that Israel apologize for its actions, return the seized ships, pay compensation to the families of the victims, and participate in a fair and international investigation of the events.

Turkey has also recalled its ambassador and ceased all military cooperation with Israel.
Relations have been strained since the catastrophic loss of life Israel inflicted on Gaza in 2009 but recent events have left them in a particularly bad state.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Council for the National Interest Names Alison Weir President

CNI - After a months-long search, the Council for the National Interest (CNI), a two-decades old Washington DC institute that advocates for “Middle East policies that serve the American national interest” has named former journalist and Executive Director of If Americans Knew Alison Weir as its new President.

Weir will replace retiring President Eugene Bird, a former Foreign Service officer who has led CNI for 17 years.

CNI, founded in 1989, was one of the first organizations created to oppose the power of the Israel Lobby; among its goals  “to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of a foreign country, namely Israel.”

Its founders and leaders read like a “who’s who” of veteran advocates of independent U.S. policies free from Israeli dominance:
  • Former Congressmen Paul Findley, an 11-term Congressman from Illinois who authored the groundbreaking book on the Israel lobby, “They Dare to Speak Out,” published 20 years before the recent volume on the same subject by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.
  • Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, a former Marine officer, Presidential contender, and one of the first Congressmen to oppose the Vietnam War. (Both Findley and McCloskey were pushed out of Congress by organized campaigns when they began to suggest different U.S. policies regarding Israel.}
  • Former foreign service officers, Ambassador Andrew Killgore, current publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Richard Curtiss, editor of the Washington Report and former U.S. Information Agency chief, and outgoing CNI President Bird, a 20-year foreign service veteran.
  • Harriet Fulbright, President of the J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center, former Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and current Chairman of CNI’s board of directors. She is the widow of Senator William Fulbright, whose Congressional hearings revealed an illicit cycle in which Israel partisans would lobby Congress for money to Israel, which would then be illegally funnel some of the money back to U.S. organizations to lobby for still more money.
  • Robert Keeley, three times Ambassador to Greece, and Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Mauritius.  He was also Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and is the Chairman of the CNI Foundation, the educational arm of CNI.
New President Alison Weir is a former California journalist who founded If Americans Knew, a think tank that focuses on providing facts on Israel-Palestine to the public and specializes in media analysis on the topic...

Lebanon arrests Israeli 'suspected spy at mobile phone network'

AFP — Lebanon has arrested a technician working for a mobile telephone network who is suspected of spying for Israel, the country's telecommunications minister said on Sunday.

"Last Thursday, a technician who works for the Alfa company was arrested by the security services," the minister, Charbel Nahhas, told AFP.

"An investigation has been opened into possible collaboration (between the person) and Israel," Nahhas said.

The minister denied the suspect was a key employee at the mobile telephone network operator, as had been reported in Lebanese media on Sunday.

Lebanon has arrested more than 70 people since launching a major crackdown in April 2009 against suspected Israeli spy networks, including security force members with equipment for monitoring communications.

Israel has not commented on the arrests.

Lebanon and Israel remain technically in a state of war, and convicted spies face life in prison with hard labour or the death penalty if found guilty of contributing to Lebanese loss of life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Israeli “Agents” Infiltrate Presbyterian General Assembly

Wallwritings - James Wall Four professors–two from Vanderbilt, one from Auburn Theological Seminary, and one from Syracuse University–have burst on the national scene as strong opponents of a Middle East Study Commission resolution which will be presented to the Presbyterian Church, USA, General Assembly in Minneapolis, MN, July 3-10. 

Between them, the four professors have produced two articles against the resolution, one in the Christian Century magazine, the other in Newsweek.
None of these academics are elected commissioners...... There is ... no evidence of practical nor scholarly wisdom regarding the current political situation in either article. 

There is only the usual interfaith request for two of the three Abrahamic traditions to continue to love one another, and, in the Christian Century article, considerable attention to biblical history, which has no actual relevance to the current reality....

Each article hides behind a smoke screen that protects the scholars from even remotely approaching the standard of pertinent scholarship one expects from four academics from such prestigious educational institutions.

Both articles ignore the harsh reality of Israel’s six decades of immoral and unethical treatment of the Palestinian people. There is nothing about the Nakba, the “security wall” or the prison-like conditions under which Palestinians are forced to live.

The article written for the Christian Century magazine is by Ted A. Smith and Amy-Jill Levine under the headline, “Habits of anti-Judaism”, Both authors teach at Vanderbilt University

Smith and Levine describe the PCUSA resolution as the latest public manifestation of an anti-semitism that has long existed in American religious life. 

The two Vanderbilt professors attack the PCUSA Middle East Study Commission with a string of innuendoes that shout “anti-semites in the room”.  They do so, however, in the polite, and deliberately misleading, language of a dusty seminar room.

PMG Daily Report: Israeli forces perpetrate 7 raids, detain 13, attack 7...

Daily Situation Report - June 25, 2010

Israeli occupation forces perpetrated:
  • Physical Assaults — 4 Injuries, 1 in Ramallah and 3 in Bethlehem 
  • Attacks — 7 During confrontations 
  • Raids — 7 Incl. 3 in Ramallah and 2 in Hebron
  • Arrests (per person) — 4 Incl. a Palestinian security officer 
  • Detentions — 13 At checkpoints and in residential locales 
  • Wall Construction — 19 Incl. Jer., Raml’h., Salfit, & Hebron 
  • Closure of Checkpoints — 10 Incl. access impeded at 6 checkpoints 
  • Flying Checkpoints — 14 Incl. 5 in Jerusalem and 3 in Nablus 
  • Closure (per District) — 9 Incl. a village and town in Ramallah 
  • Closure of Main Roads — 47 Incl. 4 in Salfit and 19 in Hebron 
  • Closure of Crossing Points — 5, 2 crossing points partially open 
Israeli settlers in Palestinian Territories:
  • Settler Violence  2 Gaining access to 2 areas in Hebron 
Palestinians  in Palestinian Territories:
  • Demonstrations — 11 Incl. against the Wall and deportation     Full report

Israeli forces injure three and detain four nonviolent protestors in "Shepherds Fields"

Ma'an - Beit Jala protesters say police used excessive force
What organizers called a peaceful rally in Beit Jala ["Shepherds Fields"] on Sunday ended with the detention of four protesters and the injury of three others.

"Soldiers used excessive force" one protester told Ma'an, firing sound bombs, tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets at the group, which marched toward the Cremisan winery, where the path of the wall continues to snake toward the monastery vineyard.

Head of the popular committee against the wall in Beit Jala, Imad Abu Nassar, said soldiers used batons against what he described as "peaceful protesters" injuring two, while a two others were injured by tear-gas canisters.

Among the three protesters detained at the rally, was Huwieda Arraf who participated in Free Gaza Flotilla, Abu Nassar told Ma'an.

Homes on Old Cremisan Street were intentionally targeted, Abu Nassar said, noting that tear-gas canisters were fired toward the residential area.

"We will continue with our peaceful struggle, of which today's actions were a clear violation. We have the right to demand the retention of our lands, and we will send a message to Israel and the international community that we will not give them up even by force," protester Elie Shahada told Ma'an.

A border police representative could not be reached by phone for comment on the allegations of excessive use of force.

Previous statements by Israeli officials have held that force is only used following violence by protesters, an accusation that Beit Jala rallies in particular have vociferously denied.

Palestinian-American entenced to 65 years for actions taken also by US AID, the Red Cross, CARE

CounterPunch - Noor Elashi - "The Holy Land Foundation Case: Defending My Father ... and the Constitution"
......... The Holy Land Foundation, or HLF, was never found guilty of giving charity to a designated terrorist organization. Rather, they were convicted of conspiring to give material support in the form of humanitarian aid to Palestinian charities called “zakat committees” that prosecutors alleged were fronts for Hamas, which was designated in 1995.

A Texas jury deadlocked in the first trial in 2007, defending the defense’s main argument: that USAID, Red Cross, the UN, CARE and many international NGOs sent money to the same zakat committees listed on the HLF indictment. But in the 2008 retrial, after essentially the same arguments, the jury returned all guilty verdicts. My father is currently being held [sentenced to 65 years] in a Communications Management Unit in Marion, Illinois, a prison that's been called "Little Guantanamo" since two-thirds of the inmate population is of Middle Eastern descent.

The Supreme Court decision is not the most optimistic news regarding the HLF case, which is now under appeal. Nevertheless, defense attorneys assert they still have strong grounds for appeal, including the prosecution’s evidentiary errors and anonymous expert from Israel who claimed he could smell Hamas and testified under a fictitious name, thereby preventing defense attorneys from effectively cross-examining him.....  Full story

TSA's War on the Bill of Rights: Losing It at the Airport Checkpoint; risk of cancer to children

CounterPunch - Ralph Nader - If you are planning to fly over the 4th of July holiday, be aware of your rights at airport security checkpoints.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has mandated that passengers can opt out of going through a whole body scanning machine in favor of a physical pat down. Unfortunately, opting for the pat down requires passengers to be assertive since TSA screeners do not tell travelers about their right to refuse a scan. Harried passengers must spot the TSA signs posted at hectic security checkpoints to inform themselves of their rights before they move to a body scanning security line.

Since the failed Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight by a passenger hiding explosives in his underwear, TSA has accelerated its program of deploying whole body scanning machines, including x-ray scanners, at airport security checkpoints throughout the United States. Scanning machines peak beneath passengers' clothing looking for concealed weapons and explosives that can elude airport metal detectors. So far, TSA has placed 111 scanners at 32 airports. They expect to have 450 scanners deployed by the end of the year at an estimated cost of $170,000 each.

Privacy, civil rights and religious groups object to whole body scanning machines as uniquely intrusive. Naked images of passengers' bodies are captured by these machines that can reveal very personal medical conditions such as prosthetics, colostomy bags and mastectomy scars. The TSA responded by setting the scanners to blur the facial features of travelers, placing TSA employees who view the images in a separate room and assuring the public that the images are deleted after initial viewing.

Yet, a successful Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uncovered documents showing that the scanning machines’ procurement specifications include the ability to store, record and transfer revealing digital images of passengers. The specifications allow TSA to disable any privacy filters permitting the exporting of raw images, contrary to TSA assurances.

It begs logic that the TSA would not retain their ability to store images particularly in the event of a terrorist getting through the scan and later attacking an aircraft. One of the first searches by the TSA would be to review images taken by the scanners to identify the attacker.

The Amsterdam airport is using a less intrusive security device called “auto detection” scanning which generates stick figures instead of the real image of the person and avoids exposing passengers to radiation. Three United States Senators recently wrote to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to consider these devices.

More pointedly, security experts, such as Edward Luttwak from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, have come forward questioning the effectiveness of whole body scanners since they can be defeated by hiding explosives in body cavities. The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, has stated that it is unclear whether scanners would have spotted the kind of explosives carried by the “Christmas Day” bomber.

About one-half of these body scanning machines use low dose x-rays to scan passengers. Last May, a group of esteemed scientists from the University of California, San Francisco wrote to John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser, voicing their concerns about the rapid roll out of scanners without a rigorous safety review by an impartial panel of experts. The scientists caution that the TSA has miscalculated the radiation dose to the skin from scanners and that there is "good reason to believe that these scanners will increase the risk of cancer to children and other vulnerable populations."

David Brenner, director of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research, has also voiced caution about x-raying millions of air travelers. He was a member of the government committee that set the safety guidelines for the x-ray scanners, and he now says he would not have signed onto the report had he known that TSA wanted to scan almost every air traveler.

Passenger complaints to TSA and newspaper accounts of passenger experiences with scanners contradict TSA assurances that checkpoint signs provide adequate notice to travelers about the scanning procedure and the pat down option. Travelers, who reported that they were not fully aware what the scanning procedure involved, said they were not made aware of alternative search options.

Many travelers complained about their privacy, and their families' privacy, being invaded. Some were concerned about the radiation risk, particularly to pregnant women and children. Some travelers felt bullied by rude TSA screeners. The Wall Street Journal reported that one woman who refused to go through the body scanner was called "unpatriotic" by the TSA screener.

Expensive state-of-the-art security technology that poses potentially serious health risks to vulnerable passengers, invades privacy, and provides questionable security is neither smart nor safe. For the White House it is a political embarrassment waiting to happen.

President Obama should suspend the body scanning program and appoint an independent panel of experts to review the issues of privacy, health and effectiveness. After such a review, should the DHS and TSA still want to deploy body scanners at airports, they should initiate a public rulemaking, which they have refused thus far, so that the public can have their say in the matter.

If you experience any push-back from TSA screeners when you assert your right to refuse to go through a whole body scanner and request a pat down security search instead, please write to

Jewish groups to send Gaza flotilla to try to break Israeli blockade

JTA -- A coalition of international Jewish organizations sympathetic to the Palestinians will send a flotilla to Gaza to try to break Israel's blockade.

The "Jewish Boat to Gaza" will sail next month from an undisclosed location carrying passengers from the United States, Germany and Britain. At least one passenger is reported to be a Holocaust survivor.

American Jews for a Just Peace announced last week that it will serve as the U.S. coordinator for the Jewish boat. The other groups participating in the flotilla include "Judische Stimme" ("Jewish Voice" for a Just Peace in the Near East) and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a British organization.

Emmanuel separation 'like what Nazis did'

Ynet - Rabbi Gadassi, the Sephardic rabbi of Beit Yaakov girls' school in Emmanuel, harshly criticized Ashkenazi rabbis Wednesday for the discrimination at the school. Dozens took part in a demonstration of support for Rabbi Yaacov Yosef, who led the struggle against the discrimination. The demonstrators and rabbis spoke against the separation of the girls, comparing it to the separation demanded by the Nazis in 1933.

Hamas official facing expulsion: I won't leave my ancestral home of 700 years; church leaders mobilizing support for him & others

Ha'aretz - Amira Hass - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in his Ramallah office on Wednesday and on Friday with two Islamist members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a former Hamas cabinet minister. This rare meeting was not related to the reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas. It was held thanks to the Israeli Interior Ministry and the Israel Police. On June 29, 2006 then-interior minister Roni Bar-On revoked the residency status of four Jerusalem residents - PLC members Mohammed Abu Tir, 60; Mohammed Totah, 41; Ahmed Atoun, 42; and Khaled Abu Arafa, 49, who served for just three months as the minister for Jerusalem affairs in the government of Ismail Haniyeh before being arrested.

In the past four years all four were jailed in Israel for between two and a half years to nearly four years. Over the past several weeks all four were summoned by the Jerusalem police and informed in writing that they were "permitted to stay in Israel" for one month from the date of the respective letter. Abu Tir was ordered to leave by June 19. The other three, including Abu Arafa, who was released from prison in September 2008, are supposed to leave by the beginning of July.

Abu Tir did not leave. On Tuesday he received a phone call from the police asking him to report to the police station. He did not. On Wednesday he was notified that he must leave within two days. A few days before the June 19 deadline he had told Haaretz, in a conversation at his home: "I will not willingly leave the place my family has lived for 500 years." 

That is also the clear position of the other three, who are the focus of a widespread mobilization of the Palestinian public that cuts across political, organizational and religious affiliations. Palestinian heads of churches in Jerusalem are drafting a position paper on the expulsions. Its subjects have been told that it will be sent to church leaders and their congregations throughout the world, as well as to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. 

The first meeting with Abbas was held shortly after a visit to Jordan, where according to sources in Abbas' office he and King Abdullah discussed Israel's plans to expel the four Jerusalem residents. Abbas called it "A grave act, one of many illegal measures carried out by Israel in Jerusalem."

Sanctioned by the High Court 
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch also played a role. Two weeks ago attorneys Fadi Qawasmi and Usama Sa'adi filed a motion for an injunction that would prevent the men from being expelled before the court hears their petition against the revocation of residency, scheduled for September 6. But last Sunday Beinisch ruled that there was no point in issuing the requested injunction because "this is not an irreversible measure." Meaning that even if deported they could appeal if the High Court of Justice strikes down the revocation of residency. But the High Court seems to be in no hurry. Only two sessions have been held since the petition was filed, in August 2006. The first discussed the request by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, to appear as amicae curiae (friends of the court ) and to submit a joint opinion against the revocation, on principle.

Beinisch's reply astonished attorney Hassan Jabareen of Adalah. "It's a central tenet not to deport before hearing [the arguments of the candidate for deportation - A.H.]. In the mass expulsion of Hamas members in 1992 they stopped the buses to allow High Court justices to hear the petitions. This is the first time a court doesn't issue an injunction before hearing a petition against expulsion," Jabareen said.

How will the expulsions actually be carried out? All of them together or each one separately, in the day, at night, how many police officers, what kind of vehicle, perhaps on the way to the grocery or the doctor? These are the questions that are not voiced. Nor is the destination discussed: Gaza? Ramallah? Jordan? The men's children pose questions that reveal their fears. One won't go to sleep until his father comes home, one calls constantly to check on his father's whereabouts. A third, aged 6, fantasizes about standing before the police officers. 

Abu Tir seems the most tired of the four. Not only is he the eldest, but he has spent a total of 30 years in Israeli prisons, going in and out repeatedly. While he was in jail his parents died, his daughters married, his grandchildren were born and grew up, "and all without firing a single shot," he told Haaretz in the conversation at his home. The last time was the hardest, he said, because of his age as well as his sense of injustice. "The whole world, led by America, demanded that Abu Mazen [Abbas] hold elections, aware that our participation was a condition for holding these elections. They didn't say in advance that the price of participation was revoking residency," Abu Tir said.

'In a safe place' 
The conversation with Abu Tir's three colleagues was held Wednesday in an East Jerusalem hotel. Telephone calls interrupted constantly. Abu Arafa, who proved to be a comedian, told one caller, "We're hiding in a safe place."

Abu Arafa related that in one meeting with Abbas, in June 2006, someone worried that the leader wouldn't understand his jokes, or barbs, to be precise. "But he laughed," Abu Arafa reassures us. At that meeting, he said, Abbas told him that he would continue to meet his obligations as spelled out in the Oslo Accords, if only to show the world the disgrace of Israel, which wasn't honoring them. "If all this at the end of the day is for the Palestinians, I'm sure that your intentions will get you into Paradise," Abu Arafa told him. In other words: You won't be judged by the outcome.

When asked to describe the Jerusalem of their childhood, Abu Arafa immediately replied, "We had no childhood." Totah, whose father's family is from the Old City while his mother's is from Katamon, echoed the sentiment, saying, "We were born adults." Atoun, who claims to have a document proving that his family has lived in Sur Baher for 700 years, and who has spent a total of 11 years in Israeli prisons, wants to make it clear: "It's not just us, it's the same for everyone." Abu Arafa does not hold back: "But some people have VIP cards."

Israeli committee to release blueprint outlining takeover of East Jerusalem, confiscation of privately owned Palestinian homes

Ha'aretz - Akiva Eldar - The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee at the Interior Ministry will publish in the coming weeks a new blueprint program for development in Jerusalem that will include plans to expand Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Most of the land earmarked for this expansion is privately owned by Arabs [Palestinians]. If the plan is approved, after objections to it are heard, it will grant official approval to an urban plan for the Israeli takeover of East Jerusalem.

Approval of the plan [which is illegal under international law, eg Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention] is expected to result in a wave of protest from Palestinians and Arab states, as well as international criticism of the government in Israel. The U.S. administration has made it clear to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it wants him to prevent all change to the status quo in Jerusalem until the completion of negotiations on a final-status settlement.

UNRWA director John Ging: Innocent children pay toll of Gaza siege

Ma’an – It is "shameful" that the international community allowed the Gaza siege to enter its fourth year as "750,000 innocent children are paying the toll," UNRWA director of Gaza operations John Ging said Sunday.

Speaking at a news conference in Gaza City, Ging added “The political focus should be translated into action rather than discussing improvements or easing the siege. This siege must end completely and immediately.”

Further, he noted that ending the blockade would not only bring peace to the Strip, but to the whole region.

UNRWA currently provides aid for around 800,000 of the 1 million refugees living in the coastal enclave.

In a statement to the Advisory Commission last week, UNRWA chief Filippo Grandi explained that the organization has reduced the support it provides to refugees “hardest hit by poverty and social marginalization” due to a lack of funding.

Grandi condemned the “inherently pathological nature” of the Gaza blockade, which he said is “causing human misery on a massive scale.”

Report: Iranian MPs to set sail for Gaza on Lebanese ship

Ma'an - An Iranian lawmaker said a parliamentary delegation is planning to travel with a Gaza-bound aid ship sailing from Lebanon, Iranian media reported Saturday.

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Beighash, a member of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told the Iranian Student News Agency that MPs preferred to set sail to Gaza as opposed to an alternative land passage via Egypt, criticizing Cairo's stance toward the coastal strip.

23 injured in Silwan clashes overnight, Israeli forces shoot Palestinian man, smash windows, stop ambulances

Ma'an - At least 20 Palestinians were injured as of Sunday morning, in clashes with Israeli forces that began Saturday night and continued through the morning in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood.

Witnesses said one Palestinian was shot with live ammunition and two others were hit by tear-gas canisters during confrontations in the Ar-Rajabi area of Silwan between Israeli border guards, settlers, and residents.

Director of the Wad Hilwa Information Center Jawad Siyam confirmed two Palestinian injuries and said several fainted after border guards fired tear-gas canisters. At least 20 Palestinians required medical attention for tear gas inhalation, Palestinian medical sources said.

The medics added that they had to treat patients in the field as Israeli forces would not allow ambulances to leave the area.

According to witnesses, Israeli border guards deliberately damaged Palestinian cars and smashed the windows of Palestinian homes. Locals said young Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails toward the Beit Al-Asal house, recently taken over by Israeli settlers, whose residents were said to have sparked clashes.

Two Israeli military patrols sustained damages after young Palestinians pelted them with stones, Israeli media reported, while a spokesman for Israel's national police said two Israeli officers were lightly injured after Palestinians through Molotov cocktails at them. The injured were taken to hospital for treatment, he said.

Troops fired tear gas and percussion grenades and Palestinians said soldiers opened fire in midair, the Israeli online news site Ynet reported.

Israeli soldiers attack protestors demanding a main road opened In Hebron

IMEMC - On Saturday evening, Israeli soldiers violently attacked dozens of protestors demanding the army to open the Al Shuhada Street, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. Israeli soldiers and settlers violently attacked the nonviolent protestors.
The Al Shuhada Street was closed by the Israeli army in 1994 after Jewish settler, Baroch Goldstein, opened fire at Muslim worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city leading to dozens of casualties.

At first Israel prevented Palestinian vehicles from using the street, but by the end of 2000 the army started preventing the Palestinians even from walking there.

Dozens of Palestinians, Israeli and international peace activists participated in the protest, chanted slogans against the illegal Israeli measures, and carrying signs written in Arabic, English and Hebrew demanding the army to open the Al Shuahada Street.

The protestors also demanded Israel to stop “stealing Palestinian waters” as Israel is using natural wells to pump water to Jewish settlements in the Hebron area while the Palestinians are left without the needed amounts of water.

Several children carried empty plastic bottles and demanded to be allowed to fill them with drinking water.

Dozens of settlers went to the rooftops of a number of occupied homes and started cursing and insulting the protestors.

As the protestors tried to march through the Al Shallala Street, soldiers and settlers violently attacked them, and prevented them from crossing......

Sharabaty added that the coalition organizes this protest on a weekly basis...

...under Israeli military orders, more than 500 shops and stores in the center of Hebron have been closed since many years while thousands of stores in other parts of the city face the same fate due to Israeli illegal measures that are only meant to allow Jewish settlers an upper hand in the city.  Full story

Palestinian detainee suffers fractured spine while in Israeli custody

IMEMC - Detainees at the Ofer Israeli detention facility demanded human rights groups to intervene and save the life of detainee Maher Rajoub, 33, from Dour south of Hebron, after he suffered a fractured spine while being transferred to court.
One of the detainees told the Maan News Agency that Rajoub suffered a fracture in his spine two weeks ago while being moved from Atzion interrogation center to an Israeli court.

He was then moved to Hadassah Israeli hospital in Jerusalem but was released shortly afterwards without receiving the needed treatment .

He is now back at the Ofer detention facility suffering extreme pain in his spine, and barely able to move his body.

Rajoub was kidnapped by the Israeli army on May 31, 2010, after the soldiers broke into his home in Doura, and searched it causing damage.

Gaza's only remaining power station shut down Saturday causing widespread blackout

IMEMC - With the besieged population of the Gaza Strip facing severe electricity shortages, the one operational power station that was not bombed by Israeli forces last year shut down early Saturday morning due to a lack of fuel.

The head of the Gaza Power Authority, Kan'an Obeid, blamed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, of the rival Fateh party, for failing to pass on a payment to Israel for a shipment of industrial fuel. Obeid said that the people of Gaza had made the payment, despite their 80% rate of unemployment, but that Israel required that the payment go through the rival government in the West Bank, which Gazans consider corrupt and inept.

Obeid warned that the ongoing humanitarian crisis could be severely exacerbated by the current shortage. The shutdown comes just days after an assessment by the Palestinian Authority (Hamas) in Gaza found that the power station was running at just 33% of capacity.

Prior to Saturday's shutdown, most people in Gaza had been facing rolling blackouts over the last several years – 12 hours on, 12 hours off.....with no control over when they could have power to their homes and businesses. Now, the reality they are facing is 24 hours off, with no end in sight.

The need for electricity has increased now that the severe heat of summer has begun, and the danger of heat stroke for elderly individuals has increased significantly due to the lack of power.

Israel has severely restricted the entry of fuel into Gaza since 2007, as part of its 'siege warfare' strategy which Palestinians say is collective punishment, and a violation of international law.

G8 leaders: Gaza situation unsustainable

IMEMC - At a meeting of the world's top sovereign economic powers in Toronto, Canada on Saturday, the 'G8' countries issued a statement saying the “ current arrangements are not sustainable and must be changed”, in reference to Israel's three-year long siege on the Gaza Strip that has imprisoned its population and caused extreme hardship.

The statement, signed by the leaders of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia, comes just days after the Council of Europe condemned the Israeli siege on Gaza, and called on the Israeli government to lift the siege completely.

The world's most powerful leaders meet each year at the 'G8', or 'Group of Eight' summit, in heavily fortified and militarized zones in different cities. These meetings have been met in recent years by growing protests of the disenfranchised, who feel that their method of decision-making is undemocratic and immoral. Protesters outside the G8 summit in Toronto included Palestinian self-determination in their demands this year, along with an end to economic colonization and exploitation of the resources of poor countries by rich ones.

G8 leaders who signed the statement also expressed 'regret' over the Israeli navy's killing of 9 international aid workers, including 8 Turks and one US citizen. They did not actually condemn the attack, but said they await the results of Israel's internal investigation of the incident. International human rights groups have called for an international investigation, given Israel's poor history of effectively investigating itself......  Full story

American family describes father/husband killed by Israeli soldiers, shot in head at close range, then kicked

IPS - Mel Frykberg - "Israelis Keep the Trigger Tight"
"Where is my daddy? Why is he not coming home? I want my daddy," sobs seven- year-old Yasmin, her big blue eyes filling with tears. She wakes up crying every night.

"My life only began when I met him. I will never meet such a wonderful man again," Yasmin's mother Moira Julani tells IPS.

While it is just another statistic for the Israelis, another Palestinian family has been torn apart. U.S. citizens, 17-year-old Hannah, 15-year-old Mirage and seven-year-old Yasmin are now fatherless. Former Texan Moira, nee Reynolds, who left the U.S. 17 years ago to start a new life with her husband in Jerusalem, has lost her soul mate.

Two weeks ago 41-year-old Ziad Julani from East Jerusalem was shot a number of times at close range in the head and abdomen by Israeli special forces as he lay wounded on his stomach on the ground. An ambulance took the critically injured man to hospital but he died shortly afterwards.

Israeli soldiers accused Ziad of deliberately trying to run over a couple of soldiers as they walked in the street.

Eyewitnesses, however, say that Julani's car accidentally swerved slightly when his windscreen was hit by a rock, after he unknowingly drove into the middle of a clash between stone-throwing Palestinian youngsters and Israeli soldiers.

Two soldiers, who were slightly injured, and two of their comrades opened fire on Julani's car, wounding him in the shoulder. The panicked Julani drove a short distance further until he reached a dead-end road.

According to testimony compiled by the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights, Julani then got out of his car. He was shot again several times by four special forces police who had pursued him, before he collapsed to the ground.

One of the policemen then came up and shot the critically wounded man again at close range in both sides of the head and in the abdomen before kicking him.

Witnesses who tried to help Julani were beaten back with clubs, with one requiring 20 stitches to his head. Other bystanders were wounded, including a five-year-old girl, when police and soldiers sprayed onlookers with rubber- coated steel bullets.

The Israeli authorities accused Ziad of attempting to perpetrate a "terrorist attack" and of having a "criminal record".

"Ziad was roughed up about a month ago by Israeli soldiers as he tried to pray at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque. He was held temporarily for a couple of hours, then released, and no charges were laid. Maybe one of these soldiers had a grudge against my husband," Julani tells IPS.

"He was not involved in politics and was not affiliated with any political group. He was a peaceful man with a cosmopolitan background who had lived in Switzerland as a child and studied pharmaceuticals in the U.S.

"On the morning he was killed he had gone to pray at Al-Aqsa and had planned to later take the family out on a trip to the Dead Sea."

Occupied East Jerusalem has become a boiling cauldron of anger and resentment as Israel's Judaisation of the eastern part of the city increasingly involves the destruction of Palestinian homes, and throwing Palestinian families on to the street to make way for illegal Israeli settlers.

In the rising tension several Palestinians have carried out attacks on Israelis in West Jerusalem using vehicles and bulldozers, killing several and wounding others.

The Israeli authorities have used these incidents to assert "self-defence" in the increasing numbers of cases where unarmed Palestinians have been shot dead by security forces at close range despite presenting no threat.

At the beginning of the year a media blackout was imposed on the house arrest of Israeli journalist Anat Kamm after she secretly copied Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) documents while she was doing her military service.

The documents outlined how Israeli hit squads were assassinating Palestinian activists, some of them unarmed, instead of arresting them, in flagrant violation of an Israeli high court ruling. Kamm has been accused of treason.

IPS has reported a number of cases in which young Palestinian men in the West Bank died after they were shot in the back and in the head. The IDF initially claimed they had used non-lethal ammunition, and had acted in "self- defence" after they were "attacked".

Later, however, IDF investigations conceded that live fire was used and that in some of the cases the soldiers involved had used "excessive force".

Turkish autopsies carried out on the nine activists shot dead on the Mavi Marmara as it tried to deliver aid to Gaza several weeks ago also indicate that a number of the dead were shot several times in the head at close range as part of Israel's "confirm kill" policy.

The Israeli security forces have become accustomed to impunity when it comes to the killing of Palestinians under dubious circumstances.

"We are asking for an independent investigation into my husband's killing. We don't want the Israeli security forces investigating themselves," says Julani.

Since the shooting of Ziad Israeli security officials have arrested witnesses who filmed the killing and confiscated their recording equipment. Street camera footage has been removed.

Video: Midnight on the Mavi Marmara

Book on Israeli attack on aid flotilla to Gaza to be released in July:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Number of millionaires in Israel grows by 42%

YNET - Israel home to 8,419 millionaires according to Merrill Lynch Capgemini World Wealth Report

The number of millionaires in Israel increased last year by 42.7%, from 5,900 in 2008 to 8,419 in 2009, according to the 14th Merrill Lynch Capgemini World Wealth Report released Tuesday.

According to the report, the number of millionaires in the world rose in 2009 by 17.1%, to some 10 million, despite the economic downturn. Israel takes third place in the increase of millionaires after Hong Kong and India, where the number of millionaires grew by 104% and 50.9% respectively.

The report defines a millionaire as anyone with at least $1 million in liquid funds, not including invested capital, and after all debts are deducted. In 2009, the world's millionaires held a total of $39 trillion – an increase of 18.9% compared to the previous year.

The number of multimillionaires (who have at least $30 million) grew by 15.4%, to some 90,000. The total wealth held by these multimillionaires grew last year by 21.5%.

Israel warplanes target 4 sites across Gaza

Ma'an - Israeli aircraft bombed four targets in the Gaza Strip before sunrise Friday.

No injuries were reported in the attack that came a day after a Palestinian faction launched seven mortar shells into Israeli territory.

Two airstrikes in the north and another two in the south caused severe structural damage to buildings in Jabaliya and Beit Hanoun, while two smuggling tunnels were destroyed near Rafah, security officials in Gaza said. F16 jet fighters hit twice in the north, outside residential areas in an industrial zone.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said three sites were targeted, two "terror tunnels" in the south and a single weapons cache in the north. The army said the strikes were in retaliation for recent projectile fire from Gaza.

Qassam Fighter Killed in Gaza

IMEMC - The al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, reported that one of its fighters was killed on Saturday morning during a mission in central Gaza.

The Brigades did not elaborate on the cause of death but stated that the fighters “was killed while performing his duty.”

He was identified as Majdi Hasan, 24, from Al Mughraqa village in central Gaza.

The Brigades stated that Hasan was one of its senior fighters and members, and reaffirmed its commitment to continue the resistance until liberation and independence.

PCHR Weekly Report: 53 abducted by Israeli forces this week

IMEMC - In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for the week of 17-23 June 2010, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that 7 civilians were wounded – three of these, including a child, were injured during non-violent demonstrations in Bil'in village in the West Bank.  Full story

Israeli forces wound 10 Protestors In Bil’in Weekly Protest

IMEMC - The Friends of Freedom and Justice (FFJ) in Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, reported Friday that at least ten protestors suffered the effects of tear-gas inhalation after Israeli soldiers fired dozens of gas bombs at them during their weekly nonviolent protest. Full Story

Israeli soldiers Attack Weekly Protest In Ni’lin

IMEMC - As Palestinian residents in Ni’lin village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, held their weekly nonviolent protest, joined by International peace activists, Israeli soldiers attacked them and fired gas bombs and rubber coated bullets. Full Story

Israel prevents delivery of oxygen machines to Gaza hospitals

Ma'an – Seven oxygen machines donated to the Palestinain Authority by a Norwegian development agency were seized by Israeli officials en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza, the Ramallah-based health ministry said.

The machines, the ministry said in a Thursday statement, were confiscated by Israeli officials who claimed that the generators attached "came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes" if they were delivered to the southern Gaza governorates.

While only one generator was bound for southern Gaza, all seven were taken, the statement said, and "all were badly needed for medical treatment."

The six others were bound for government hospitals in the northern Gaza, including the European Hospital in Gaza City, the Rafdieyah hospital in Nablus, and other facilities in Ramallah and Hebron.

The Ministry of Health made an official appeal to the Norwegian Development Agency, which had supplied the machines, asking that hey intervene and demand the release of the equipment at the soonest possible date.

"Any delay in obtaining the medical equipment will negatively affect the health of patients," the statement concluded, holding all partners responsible for the well being of Palestinians as the goods are withheld.

AIPAC victory– 85 senators agree: Israel has the right to do whatever it wants in defense of its siege of Gaza

Salon - Alex Pareen - 85 senators -- including both the majority and minority leaders -- signed an AIPAC-endorsed letter expressing unconditional support for both Israel's botched raid on an aid flotilla that killed nine and the ongoing siege of Gaza that compelled the activists to organize the flotilla in the first place.

Israeli forces conduct 35 raids into Palestinian Territory, severely beat civilian, kidnap 13

PMG Daily Situation Report: June 23, 2010

Israeli forces occupying the West Bank & Gaza perpetrated:
  • Physical Assault  — 1 A civilian severely beaten in Hebron 
  • Attacks – 6 Incl. 1 in a raid and 3 from mil. posts 
  • Raids – 35 Incl. 4 in Jerusalem and 9 in Hebron 
  • Air Patrol  — 1 Reconnaissance aircraft over Khan Yunis
  • Arrests (per person)  — 13 Incl. 2 brothers and 2 security officers 
  • Detentions — 13 Incl. a Palestinian security officer 
  • Home Demolitions  * — Notices to demolish 6 houses, Nablus  
  • Land Levelling  —  1 In the district of Khan Yunis 
  • Wall Construction — 19 Incl. Jer., Raml’h., Salfit, & Hebron 
  • Destruction of Property  — 1 Ad banners removed in Ramallah 
  • Confiscation of Property  — 1 Car spare parts in Tulkarem 
  • Closure of Checkpoints  — 9 Incl. access impeded at 5 checkpoints 
  • Flying Checkpoints  — 23 Incl. 5 in Qalqiliya and 6 in Hebron 
  • Closure (per District)  — 9 Incl. a village and town in Ramallah 
  • Closure of Main Roads  — 47 Incl. 4 in Salfit and 19 in Hebron 
  • Closure of Crossing Points —  3 Incl. construction cargo transported 
  • Settler Violence  — 1 Gaining access into village, Jerusalem 
  • Provocation of Pal. Forces —  2 security vehicles detained, Jericho 
  • Demonstration In solidarity with prisoners, Jenin Full report

A Letter Which Grew Into an Article: Why the French Hate Chomsky

Paris, June 12, 2010
Dear Noam,

"...a professor of Asian studies at the University of Lyon, merely dodged a question about the Holocaust during an interview, saying that it was an issue for experts. The case against him was finally dismissed on appeal to the highest court in France, but meanwhile he had been suspended for five years from his university position..."

AIPAC victory: Congress Overwhelmingly Passes New Iran Sanctions even though intelligence agencies say Iran does not have nuclear program - Jason Ditz  - ...Following a unanimous vote in the Senate earlier today, the House of Representatives tonight voted 408-8 to approve the massive new sanctions against Iran earlier this week, which center on forcing non-US companies to participate in the US embargo on Iran’s energy industry.

[Sanctions were pushed by the American Israel Public Affairs Council (Aipac), the Anti-Defmation League (ADL),  the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and virtually ever major national Jewish organization in the United States.]

In the House of Representatives only two Republicans, Reps. Ron Paul (R – TX) and Jeff Flake (R – AZ), and six Democrats, Rep.s John Conyers (D – MI), Pete Stark (D – CA), Brian Baird (D – WA), Tammy Baldwin (D – WI), Earl Blumenauer (D – OR) and Dennis Kucinich (D – OH) opposed the bill.

Beyond punishing companies that do business with Iran’s oil and gas sector, the new sanctions will also expand the list of Iranian goods that are not allowed to enter the United States, and would encourage state and local governments to ‘divest’ from companies that flaunt the restrictions.

The sanctions are in addition to the sanctions announced last week by the Treasury Department, and the sanctions which the United Nations Security Council announced a week before that. Supporters say the sanctions are meant to “punish” Iran for an attempt to produce a nuclear weapon, though even America’s most recent National Intelligence Estimate says Iran doesn’t have any such program, and Iran is confirmed to not be enriching uranium beyond the level for civilian use.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Intimidating Supporters of Palestine: US Fear Factory Kills Free Speech

CounterPunch - By YVONNE RIDLEY
..........Sadly, the Salem-style witch hunts have returned, but the new villains are no longer communists. The Red Scare has been replaced by those who shout Viva Palestina!

......There are some politicians who want to see the heroic Americans who boarded the Free Gaza Movement boats, joined the Viva Palestina convoys and the recent Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla prosecuted as terrorists.

Today I trolled through some of the pages in the American media and there, among the column inches, are stories that perfectly illustrate the Zionist Fear Factory in operation.

The Los Angeles Times reveals that UC Irvine has told its university students that the Muslim Student Union will be suspended for one year because it dared to criticize Israel and protested during a speech given by the Israeli Ambassador. So there you have it – freedom of speech is now banned.

The unprecedented action also sends out a chilling message to students across the USA who might consider demonstrating, rallying or protesting against the Zionist state and its supporters. Free speech, it seems, is a thing of the past in Barack Obama’s America.

And should you be in any doubt, read a story about the latest decision to emerge from the US Supreme Court. In a majority 6-3 ruling it becomes virtually impossible for anyone to put food into the mouths of malnourished babies in Gaza or to give money to a charity to do the humanitarian act for you.

Insane as it sounds, it is now a crime in America to work for peace and human rights in Gaza because the day-to-day running of The Strip is carried out by the democratically-elected Hamas government. Therefore it would be virtually impossibly to bypass Hamas to operate in Gaza.

.......Be afraid, be very afraid … this is happening in the USA, here and now.

"The supreme court has ruled that human rights advocates, providing training and assistance in the nonviolent resolution of disputes, can be prosecuted as terrorists," said David Cole, a Georgetown university law professor who argued the case before the court. In the name of fighting terrorism, the court has said that the first amendment [on free speech] permits congress to make it a crime to work for peace and human rights. That is wrong."

The ruling is designed to intimidate Palestinian supporters and their fundraising activity. Some have already been prosecuted and jailed for raising cash for social groups dealing with issues such as housing and welfare in Gaza.

The government's case was enthusiastically argued in February by Elena Kagan, who is now the Obama administration's nominee to the supreme court.

Kagan argued for Supreme Court decision criminalizing nonviolent speech

NY Times - "Court Affirms Ban on Aiding Groups Tied to Terror"
... the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law that makes it a crime to provide “material support” to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts. 

........The material-support law bars not only contributions of cash, weapons and other tangible aid but also “training,” “personnel” “service” and “expert advice or assistance.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer took the unusual step of summarizing his dissent from the bench. He said the majority had drawn a false analogy between the two kinds of assistance.

“Money given for a charitable purpose might free up other money used to buy arms,” Justice Breyer said from the bench. But the same cannot be said, he continued, “where teaching human rights law is involved.”

The decision was a victory for Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who argued the case in February and whose confirmation hearings for a seat on the court are scheduled to start next week. But Chief Justice Roberts said the government had advanced a position that was too extreme and did not take adequate account of the free-speech interests at stake.

“The government is wrong,” the chief justice wrote, “that the only thing actually at issue in this litigation is conduct” and not speech protected by the First Amendment. But he went on to say that the government’s interest in combating terrorism was enough to overcome that protection.

In his written dissent, which was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, Justice Breyer said the majority had been too credulous in accepting the government’s argument that national security concerns required restrictions on the challengers’ speech and had “failed to insist upon specific evidence, rather than general assertion.”

.........The plaintiffs said they had sought to aid only the two groups’ nonviolent activities. For instance, they said, they wanted to offer training in how to use international law to resolve disputes peacefully and “how to petition various representative bodies such as the United Nations for relief.” 
That sort of help, they said, was speech protected by the First Amendment.

David D. Cole, a lawyer for the plaintiffs with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the court’s rejection of that argument was disappointing. “This decision basically says the First Amendment allows making peacemaking and human rights advocacy a crime,” Mr. Cole said... Full story

First Lebanon war, Oslo Accords missing from Israeli textbooks

Ha'aretz - The first Lebanon war and the Oslo Accords are missing from Israeli history textbooks, Haaretz has learned, while more recent events, such as the signing of the peace agreement with Jordan, are included.