Aletho News


A second Gaza war around the corner?

Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 13 January 2010

Israel is once again complaining that its “security” is being threatened by new eruptions of violence along the border with Gaza. About two dozen Qassam rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza in recent days. Although they fell in (and may have been deliberately targeted at) open areas, causing no damage or injuries, Israel took revenge with destructive air raids that did cause damage and killed several people, including a 15-year-old boy.

Before asking who should stop first, one should recall who started the latest ugly round of violence.

On 26 December, Israel carried out double attacks in the West Bank city of Nablus and in Gaza, murdering three people in each place. In Nablus, Israeli death squads carried out cold-blooded extrajudicial executions in revenge for the killing of a West Bank settler several days before. According to the wife of one of the Nablus victims, her husband was at home in his living room, completely unarmed when the death squad burst in and shot him in the face. Neither he nor the other victims of these state-sponsored terrorists had been accused, tried or convicted of any crime in a court of law.

In Gaza, the three victims were reportedly workers scavenging near the border fence to salvage building supplies from the rubble of previous destruction.
Since late December, Israeli attacks have killed more than a dozen Palestinians, routine violence which is ignored by the “international community” and for which Israel is never held accountable. On the contrary, Israel’s Western friends continue to justify this terrorism as “self-defense.”

Israel’s recent aggressions look ominously like the 4 November 2008 attack on Gaza, which killed six persons and shattered the four-month-long truce meticulously respected by Hamas. Predictably, Hamas and other factions retaliated for that Israeli provocation and then Israel used their response to justify its massacre of 1,400 people in Gaza this time last year.

It seems that whenever there is relative calm on the Gaza front, Israel is keen to destroy it. Prior to the November 2008 attack, the Gaza situation, despite the siege and the intense international pressure on Hamas, was stable — that was the last thing Israel wanted. And despite the truth that Israel sabotaged the truce and then refused to renew it even though Hamas wanted to, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, some Arab states and the so-called international community led by the United States blamed Israel’s attack on Gaza on Hamas rockets, and claimed that Hamas — not Israel — had rejected renewing the truce.

When Israel ended “Operation Cast Lead” last year, it refused to enter into a new formal truce with Hamas. Nevertheless, Hamas has observed a unilateral ceasefire, only using force occasionally in retaliation for Israeli attacks, say, on tunnels that bring vital supplies into Gaza from Egypt, circumventing the siege. Moreover, Hamas — in the face of much local criticism — has enforced the truce on other Palestinian factions.

Could Israel be following the same pattern again now with its escalating violence against Gaza? Neither last year’s war nor the tightening blockade that has prevented any meaningful reconstruction have succeeded in their clear but unstated goal of toppling Hamas.

Is Israel then preparing to do again what it does best: use wanton murder and destruction to try to achieve its political goals?

It is hard to say, but this is an alarming possibility, especially as senior Israeli officials have been dropping hints about preparations for a “second Gaza war.”

Israel, which does not act according to any normal or civilized standards, could have several motives for this; not least, another “small war” could give Israel a welcome distraction from the continuing diplomatic impasse or any threat of a renewed American-led peace initiative, no matter how timid.

Up to this point, it looks like Israel has been in the diplomatic driver’s seat. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu easily dismissed US President Barack Obama’s initial demand for a freeze on construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Obama Administration not only backed down, it also fully adopted Israeli positions and has been continuously putting pressure on the moribund Palestinian Authority to return to negotiations without “preconditions.” (Of course “without preconditions” means only that Israel is not obligated to meet any conditions; Palestinians are always presented with lengthy lists of Israeli preconditions.)

But if this seems like a diplomatic victory for Israel, it may only be temporary. If, as expected, the Palestinian Authority eventually succumbs to pressure and returns to “negotiations,” it will become instantly apparent that, given Israeli intransigence and expansionism, there is absolutely nothing to discuss and not even an infinitesimal prospect of any sort of peace deal.

It is doubtful that the bankruptcy of the Israeli and American positions can simply be covered up with more empty process, and expect the situation on the ground to remain quiet and stable. Bringing the crisis closer, on its own terms, and once again blaming Hamas, may be the “ideal” way out for Israel.

Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan at the United Nations. This essay first appeared in The Jordan Times.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on A second Gaza war around the corner?

Obama Advisor Promotes ‘Cognitive Infiltration’

Your government appointees at work: Cass Sunstein seeks “cognitive” provocateurs

By Marc Estrin | The Rag Blog | January 11, 2010

Cass Sunstein is President Obama’s Harvard Law School friend, and recently appointed Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

In a recent scholarly article, he and coauthor Adrian Vermeule take up the question of “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures.” (J. Political Philosophy, 7 (2009), 202-227). This is a man with the president’s ear. This is a man who would process information and regulate things. What does he here propose?

[W]e suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity. (Page 219.)

Read this paragraph again. Unpack it. Work your way through the language and the intent. Imagine the application. What do we learn?

  • It is “extremists” who “supply” “conspiracy theories.”
  • Their “hard core” must be “broken up” with distinctive tactics. What tactics?
  • “Infiltration” (“cognitive”) of groups with questions about official explanations or obfuscations or lies. Who is to infiltrate?
  • “Government agents or their allies,” virtually (i.e. on-line) or in “real-space” (as at meetings), and “either openly or anonymously,” though “infiltration” would imply the latter. What will these agents do?
  • Undermine “crippled epistemology” — one’s theory and technique of knowledge. How will they do this?
  • By “planting doubts” which will “circulate.” Will these doubts be beneficial?
  • Certainly. Because they will introduce “cognitive diversity.”

Put into English, what Sunstein is proposing is government infiltration of groups opposing prevailing policy. Palestinian Liberation? 9/11 Truth? Anti-nuclear power? Stop the wars? End the Fed? Support Nader? Eat the Rich?

It’s easy to destroy groups with “cognitive diversity.” You just take up meeting time with arguments to the point where people don’t come back. You make protest signs which alienate 90% of colleagues. You demand revolutionary violence from pacifist groups.

We expect such tactics from undercover cops, or FBI. There the agents are called “provocateurs” — even if only “cognitive.” One learns to smell or deal with them in a group, or recognize trolling online. But even suspicion or partial exposure can “sow uncertainty and distrust within conspiratorial groups [now conflated with conspiracy theory discussion groups] and among their members,” and “raise the costs of organization and communication” — which Sunstein applauds as “desirable.” “[N]ew recruits will be suspect and participants in the group’s virtual networks will doubt each other’s bona fides.” (p.225).

And are we now expected to applaud such tactics frankly proposed in a scholarly journal by a high-level presidential advisor?

The full text of a slightly earlier version of Sunstein’s article is available for download


January 13, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | 14 Comments

“Iron Dome”, Israel’s new rocket defense system

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth | 14 January 2010

Israel unveiled “Iron Dome” last week, a missile-defence system that is designed to strike a knock-out blow against short-range rockets of the variety fired into Israel by Hamas and Hizbullah. In the short term, Iron Dome is supposed to herald the demise of the rocket threat to Israeli communities near Gaza four years after Hamas won the Palestinian elections.

The period in-between has been marked by a series of inconclusive moves by both sides: Israel’s crippling siege of Gaza has yet to break the will of Gazans; negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas more than three years ago, have gone nowhere; reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have borne no fruit; and even the savage offensive against Gaza last year, Operation Cast Lead, achieved little in strategic gains for Israel.

Now Israel says it has a winning card in its hand. From May, the first batteries of Iron Dome – developed at a cost of 200 million US dollars – will be installed around Gaza, foiling the efforts of militant factions to continue their struggle against a policy that denies the enclave’s inhabitants all but the most essential humanitarian items.

Militant groups in Gaza have done their best to remain defiant. A spokesman for Islamic Jihad declared last week to Maan, a Palestinian news agency, that the rocket defence system “cannot stop the projectiles of the resistance”, as it launched sustained volleys of rockets and shells into Israel for the first time since Cast Lead. Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, has accused Hamas of turning a blind eye to this activity.

Certainly, several big question marks hang over the Israeli project, despite the large claims being made by Israeli officials.

Analyst Reuven Pedatzur noted today in the Haaretz newspaper that Israel was peddling “deceptions and half-truths” over Iron Dome. He pointed out that the flight time of a few seconds for rockets fired at Israeli communities close to Gaza, such as Sderot, is far shorter than the time needed by Iron Dome to calculate an interception.

Even more significantly, what economic sense does it make for Israel to try to destroy home-made rockets when each interceptor missile costs an estimated 100,000 US dollars?

Military analysts reckon that, in addition, Israel will be forced to spend 1 billion US dollars on 20 batteries needed to protect Israeli communities next to Gaza and more in the north that are currently in the line of Hizbollah’s fire from Lebanon. That cost will rise rapidly as Hamas and Hizbollah extend the reach of their arsenals. Another system, Magic Wand, can reportedly shoot down medium-range missiles, but each interception costs close to 1 million US dollars. And then there are additional costs to be factored in when groups in the West Bank begin launching rockets, too.

Israel’s siege of Gaza could quickly be matched by a war of attrition by Hamas and Hizbullah against Israel’s defence budget – at a time when Israel is pondering expensive military adventures further afield, such as in Iran.

Nonetheless, signs of unease have become apparent in Gaza over the past week. Militant groups have again risked engaging in serious clashes with Israel. On Sunday, [10 January] Israel claimed that more than 20 rockets and mortar shells had been fired out of Gaza in a few days, while Palestinian sources said at least eight Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, had been killed in Israeli air strikes.

But even if Iron Dome is little more than a new development in Israel’s programme of psychological warfare against Gaza, the pressure is most definitely building on Hamas on several fronts. Israel has significantly tightened its choke hold on the enclave over the past year.

One of Israel’s most significant moves has been forcing Palestinians to abandon productive rural land in Gaza, much of it situated just inside the fence that surrounds the Strip.

According to Palestinian officials, Gaza once produced half of its own food, with one-quarter of its 1.5 million inhabitants dependent on agriculture. Today, about half of this land is no longer usable. Some of it was destroyed by the Israeli army during Cast Lead. Other areas, according to Italian researchers last week, have been contaminated with a cocktail of toxic metals from Israeli munitions. And yet more land is off limits because it falls within a buffer zone of 300 metres Israel has declared inside the perimeter fence, as a leaflet drop last week by the Israeli air force reminded Gazans. Farmers say in practice the zone often extends much deeper into the enclave.

As Gaza’s chief means of subsistence has been steadily eroded, the lifeline provided by hundreds of smuggling tunnels from Egypt into Rafah, under the one border not controlled by Israel, has come under imminent danger of being severed, too.

Sealing the Rafah border was one of the main goals of Operation Cast Lead, but Israeli aerial bombardments only had limited success in destroying the tunnels there. Instead, Egypt is building a steel wall underground in an attempt to foil the smugglers. Although Cairo is taking the flak for the wall’s construction, and has its own interests in punishing Hamas, the driving forces behind the scheme are almost certainly Israel and the United States. US engineers are reported to be providing the technical expertise to make the wall as effective as possible.

Another wall, this one to be built by Israel along the border with Egypt immediately south of Gaza, was announced this week. Although chiefly intended to stop the flow of refugees and illegal immigrants reaching Israel, it is also aimed “to turn the screws on Hamas” by blocking the only way into Israel for terror attacks, Yaakov Katz, an analyst with the Jerusalem Post newspaper, argued yesterday.

The increasing isolation of Gaza – and the ratcheting up of pressure – is designed to send a message to Gaza: that Hamas has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, from resisting Israel’s occupation, and that ordinary Gazans should turn their back on the Islamic movement.

But there is also a message for Hamas’s rivals in the West Bank. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and his Fatah supporters are being daily reminded that their own chances of extracting significant concessions from Israel – through a policy of quietism – are even more anaemic than Hamas’s.

The hope in Israel is that sooner or later Mr Abbas, or his successor, will realize there is no choice but to sign up to whatever territorial crumbs of the West Bank Israel is prepared to concede as a Palestinian state.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest book is “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press)


January 13, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on “Iron Dome”, Israel’s new rocket defense system

Hariri: Lebanon will soon sign free-trade deal with Turkey

Premier invites Turkish private sector to step up investment

Daily Star
January 13, 2010

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said during a meeting with Turkish and Lebanese businessmen in Istanbul on Tuesday a free trade agreement between Lebanon and Turkey will soon be signed. According to Hariri, the two countries have growing markets with high potential in the private sectors, which, he said is the driving force behind the economic vision of both countries. “Turkey and Lebanon have a joint goal to achieve economic prosperity in the region,” said the premier.

Hariri was speaking during a luncheon hosted by the Turkish-Lebanese Business Council of the Foreign Economic Relations Board in Istanbul.

Hariri called on the Turkish private sector to invest in Lebanon, and invited Lebanese and Turkish businessmen and women to exchange visits.

“A lot of work remains to be done despite Lebanon’s economic progress,” Hariri said. However, he added that as stated in the Ministerial Statement, the Cabinet faces challenges related to communications, infrastructure, energy and environmental issues.

Turkish Environment and Forests Minister Veysel Eroglu, in turn, called for strengthening bilateral relations, particularly at the economic level.

He also voiced hope for stronger cooperation between Lebanon and Turkey.

Lebanon and Turkey have signed major agreements on military, agriculture and transport cooperation, including a deal to lift entry visas and a Turkish pledge to supply Lebanon with natural gas and electricity.

On Monday Hariri and his Turkish counterpart Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan witnessed the signing of six deals that also covered the areas of health and education.

Hariri arrived in Turkey on Sunday and will wrapped up his visit on Tuesday.

The agreement on visa-free travel between Turkey and Lebanon comes after similar deals between Turkey and Syria, and Turkey and Jordan. Visa requirements have already been cancelled between Syria and Lebanon and between Syria and Jordan.

Beirut newspapers on Tuesday said that the measure is similar to the Schengen visa application which has made traveling between 5 European member countries much easier and less bureaucratic.

Erdogan said Turkey will supply natural gas and electricity to help meet Lebanon’s energy needs and that the two countries planned a ferry service between their Mediterranean coasts.

Media reports Tuesday said Turkey also proposed the idea of “strategic cooperation” between the two countries similar to that of the Turkey-Syria High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. The reports said Hariri promised to consider the offer.

On Monday, Hariri and Erdogan lashed out at Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace and air strikes in Gaza, warning they were undermining prospects for peace in the region. “Attacks on Lebanon is terrorism itself … We have to stand shoulder by shoulder against the enemy’s plans … We have to stop Israel,” Hariri told a press conference.

Erdogan, whose country’s once-flourishing ties with Israel took a sharp downturn last year, said that Turkey “will never stay silent” on Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace.

He slammed the Israeli over flights as “unacceptable action that threatens global peace.”

“They the Israelis have disproportional capabilities and power and they use them … They do not abide by UN resolutions,” he added. – The Daily Star

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Economics | Comments Off on Hariri: Lebanon will soon sign free-trade deal with Turkey

Tons of flowers, strawberries piled up at closed Gaza crossing

01/08/10 – Ma’an – For the first time in years, Gazan farmers were told a semi-regular system of exports for flower and then strawberries would be put in place at Israeli crossings.

During 2009 there were four days when the export of goods was permitted from Gaza, there were zero days in 2008. During these years the carnation industry in Gaza has staggered, with most of the product going to feed livestock. Because of scarce water, in mid-2009, farmers that wanted to grow strawberries had to apply for permission from the de facto Gaza government to get the okay to use more than their quota of fresh water for the crops.

For the past month, an irregular schedule for the export of the goods was working at the Kerem Shalom crossing. There is, however, more product awaiting export than has been permitted through the crossing, and the perishable items are lined up in trucks near the border waiting for their turn to leave….

According to the Agricultural Development Society (ADS) in Gaza noted that the “more than 300 out of 750 tones of strawberries that continue to be harvested between now and mid-February, are supposed to be exported; the flower season continues until the end of may and is expected to generate more than 30 million cut flowers for export, so far only 630,000 have left the Gaza Strip.”

The nature of the industry is that if farms stop producing flowers or strawberries, re-starting the production will be difficult and costly. Goods produced but not sold or exported, however, represent an even greater danger.

“Each shipment that cannot be exported causes accumulating economic losses for farmers, and increases the burdens both farming families and the agricultural societies working to get the goods sold,” the ADS said. The society called on crossings officials to ensure the agreed upon amount of goods exit the Strip.

The exports have so far been possible because of the help of the Dutch government, which continues to help 179 farmers in Gaza who work a total of 300 dunums of land for flower farms, and another 500 dunums of strawberry fields. The products from these farms are allocated for sale abroad.

The society thanked the Dutch government, but said farmers would prefer to make a living from their crops, rather than rely on donations from the country to compensate them for the spoiled or perished crops. Full story

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Tons of flowers, strawberries piled up at closed Gaza crossing

Syria threatens retaliatory screening for US travelers

DPA | Jan 12, 2010

Damascus – Syria on Tuesday summoned a senior US diplomat in Damascus to protest new US security regulations calling for mandatory additional screening for citizens of 14 countries, including Syria.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry summoned Chuck Hunter, the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Damascus, to deliver Syria’s ‘strong protest against the discriminatory measures against citizens from certain countries who wish to travel to the United States,’ Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.

The United States imposed tighter security screening on citizens of 14 countries as part of strict measures instituted following a Nigerian man’s failed attempt to blow up an aircraft over Detroit on December 25.

Syrian Foreign Ministry officials told Hunter that Syria considers these measures ‘unfriendly’ and a ‘double-standard,’ SANA reported.

Syrian diplomats reminded Washington that no Syrian citizen was linked to the Nigerian man’s plot.

Syrian diplomats asked the United States to reconsider the measures, and said it would find itself forced to reciprocate if the United States did not.

The United States lists Syria, Iran, Cuba and Sudan as ‘state sponsors of terrorism.’

Of the four, Syria has been on the list longest, since December 1979.

The US State Department in April justified Syria’s inclusion by saying that ‘Syria provided political and material support to Hezbollah and allowed Iran to use Syrian territory as a transit point for assistance to Hezbollah.’

The United States also cited Damascus’ hosting of leaders from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

‘The Syrian government insisted these groups were confined to political and informational activities, but groups with leaders in Syria have claimed responsibility for deadly anti-Israeli terrorist attacks,’ the US State Department said.


January 13, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Syria threatens retaliatory screening for US travelers

American Journalist and Partner Denied Re-entry to Israel – Deportation Imminent

IMEMC | January 13, 2010

…The English Desk at Ma’an News Agency, the largest independent news network in the Palestinian territories, is deeply concerned that its chief editor, Jared Malsin, an American citizen [and graduate of Yale University], was detained on Tuesday afternoon upon arriving at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv. He is slated for imminent deportation.

In what can only be explained as a retaliatory measure for Malsin’s reporting on Palestine, his long-term girlfriend, Faith Rowold, a two-year, registered volunteer with the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, was also seized and placed in a holding cell pending deportation. Israeli security agents have prevented the couple from making calls, and lied to concerned American consular staff, denying that the two were even being held.

While the US Embassy is protesting both incidents, and is in constant contact with our staff on the ground, diplomatic officials say that there is little they can do when Israel cites “security reasons” for the denial of entry. Meanwhile, Israeli security officials have quietly expressed concern to Ma’an over this latest abuse of power by authorities at the Interior Ministry, skeptical that the professional journalist they know could be deemed a threat.

For its part, Israel has yet to specify any allegations against Malsin, who indicated – just before his phone was seized by airport guards – that during his hours of interrogation, security agents inexplicably questioned him over his supposed ties to international peace activists, with whom he has no relationship.

Ma’an scrupulously maintains its editorial independence and aims to promote access to information, freedom of expression, press freedom, and media pluralism in Palestine. It has no other agenda. Israel’s arbitrary detention of the head of its English Desk is an affront to professional journalists not only in Palestine, but also to journalists in Israel and abroad, who rely on Ma’an for its accuracy, impartiality, and independence…

Ma’an report:

Order of Events

Jared’s phone was confiscated by El Al security officials when he boarded a flight in the Czech Republic on 12 January 2010. He was denied the opportunity to make any calls to his consulate, his family or a lawyer between 11am (upon boarding) and 11pm (when his mobile was briefly returned).

In what can only be explained as a retaliatory measure for Malsin’s reporting on Palestine, his long-term girlfriend, Faith Rowold, a two-year, registered volunteer with the Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, was also seized and placed in a holding cell pending deportation.

At 4pm when the flight was disembarked in Tel Aviv, Faith used the phone of a fellow traveler, an Israeli national, in the restroom of the airport. She called her sister with a brief message saying she had landed but indicated that there were problems.

At 6:30pm, the office of US Citizen Services was contacted in Jerusalem. Officials called Israeli airport authorities, who assured them that there were no American citizens being held there at that time. The names of Jared and his companion, also a US national, were reportedly not flagged. The official suggested the couple were out having a good time in Tel Aviv and had simply not gotten in touch.

The official also said local police should be contacted if Jared were actually missing, but assured that his contacts at the airport were not holding him. Ma’an staff asked if the official could confirm whether or not Jared and his companion had in fact cleared immigration.

Jared used the mobile of a French traveler admitted to the detention hall at 8:30pm to call his Faith’s sister again and asked a colleague to immediately contact the US Embassy. He said he was being questioned and feared being denied entry into Israel; he provided passport numbers for himself and his fellow traveler.

The US Consulate official was contacted again with the information that Jared was not out in Tel Aviv, but had in fact been in Israeli custody since 11am that morning. The official immediately expressed concern and said he would call his contacts again at the airport.

The official called back at after 9pm and asked for more information on Jared and his fellow traveler: are they married, is she pregnant, is there a Palestinian connection, what newspaper does Jared write for, etc.

The consulate official was informed that Jared worked with Ma’an. He was also informed that while the US, EU and UK fund programs and productions with the Ma’an Network, that staff at each of the consulates consult the English Desk site daily, even hourly, the State of Israel does not recognize Ma’an as a news organization, and therefore denies its journalists press accreditation.

By 11pm, both Jared and Faith were informed that they had been denied entry. Their mobile phones were returned to them for two hours, and then confiscated just after midnight when they were transferred to holding cells.

At 8am, the US consular official was contacted, called security at the airport and was informed that Jared and Faith were set to be deported at 6am on 14 January 2010, on the next direct flight to Prague, where they had been vacationing a week before.

For further comment, please contact:

George Hale (English)

Raed Othman (Arabic)

Hakim Abdul Salah (Hebrew)

Full story

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on American Journalist and Partner Denied Re-entry to Israel – Deportation Imminent

NATO forces kill protesters

By Zainullah Stanikzai | RAWA | January 12, 2010

LASHKARGAH: Ten people were killed and 25 others wounded as NATO-led soldiers opened fire on residents protesting civilian deaths and desecration of the Holy Quran in southern Helmand province on Tuesday.

Dwellers of the restive Garmser district said International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers raided the house of a tribal elder, killing three of his family members and torching copies of Quran in a local mosque.

To protest the overnight raid on the residence of tribal elder Haji Qayyum in the Darveshan village, residents staged a demonstration that came under fire from foreign troops, eyewitness Dost Muhammad told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Agha Muhammad, another resident who had come to the provincial capital of Lashkargah, said the people — chanting slogans against international troops — had informed the district chief of their protest. Even then they were fired on by Afghan and foreign soldiers, he claimed.

“Ten protestors were killed and 25 others wounded as a result of firing by the joint force,” he alleged, saying those slightly injured were rushed to the Garmser Civil Hospital. Eleven people with serious injuries were shifted to the provincial capital, he continued.

An employee of the Lashkargah Emergency Hospital confirmed receiving 10 wounded civilians. Two of them are said to be in a critical condition.

A security official, who did not want to be named, confirmed eight deaths and injuries to13 others. The angry demonstrators reportedly turned violent against intelligence operatives, who opened fire on them, he said.

“The protestors were signaled to stop but they ignored the orders. Subsequently, they came under fire,” the source said, disclosing one intelligence agent was also killed and another two injured. He alleged Taliban commander Mullah Naeem had provoked the protestors.

In Kabul, the ISAF Joint Command (IJC) said it was aware of the protests against the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran that took place in Garmser district.

“While denying these allegations, we take them very seriously and support a combined investigation with local Afghan authorities,” said Major Gen. Michael Regner, IJC deputy chief of staff for operations.

“ISAF is an international force that includes Muslim soldiers, and we deplore such an action under any circumstances.” The allegation comes in reference to an operation against the Taliban in the district.

On Sunday, the multinational force said, Afghan forces conducted the operation, supported by coalition troops. The joint force protected the dignity of all innocent civilians during the operation, it insisted

During the protest, an insurgent sniper shot an Afghan official, the statement added. ISAF service members identified the sniper and shot him dead. There were no other injuries or shots fired.

“As partners with the Afghan people, we will thoroughly investigate allegations to determine the facts,” Regner said. “IJC remains committed to our Afghan partners and we will continue our efforts in support of a free and prosperous Afghanistan.”

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Comments Off on NATO forces kill protesters

Farmers prevented from planting trees

13/01/2010 – Hebron –Ma’an– Two Palestinians and one child were injured on Tuesday as Israeli forces prohibited farmers from tending to their land in Safa village in the northern Hebron governorate, solidarity workers said.

“While the farmers were planting olive trees, Israeli forces attacked them and clashes erupted between both sides,” said media spokesman for the Palestine Solidarity Project Mohammad Awad.

Two men sustained injuries from rubber bullets used by Israeli forces and Hisham Al-Khlayel, 5, was taken to hospital to undergo treatment for shock as a result of tear gas used by forces to disperse those present, Awwad said.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the incident, saying troops responded to the group of farmers with “riot dispersal means,” after youth threw rocks at the encroaching soldiers. He said there were no reports of injuries or damages, however.

“The IDF responded to the group of Palestinians by preventing them from approaching the area in order to avoid a scuffle,” the spokesman said.

On Monday Israeli forces reportedly prohibited Palestinian farmers from planting 1,500 olive trees in the Abu Ar-Rish area, also in Beit Ummar.

“Despite the decision by an Israeli court allowing Palestinian farmers to work on their lands, Israeli troops banned farmers today from planting [olive trees],” said Awad.

“The troops said that it is a closed military area.”

An Israeli military source said troops operating in the area had been advised that the valley between Beit Ummar and the Bay Ayin settlement was one of high tension, following a series of settler attacks on Palestinians. One Palestinian youth also snuck into the settlement in April and killed a settler youth.

The Israeli military source said the April attack gave Israeli forces a “reason to prevent” farmers from working in the area.

[MaanImages] –

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Farmers prevented from planting trees

Hariri from Turkey: Defending Lebanon is Not Terrorism

Naharnet-AFP | January 11, 2010

Turkey and Lebanon signed Monday a number of cooperation agreements including an accord on visa-free travel between the two countries and other deals envisaging cooperation in the military, agriculture and transport realms.

The signing ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan, at a joint press conference with Hariri, assured support for Lebanon at all levels.

“We are continuing to put pressure on Israel to implement international resolutions and I have asked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to visit Lebanon,” Erdogan said.

He slammed the Israeli overflights as “unacceptable action that threatens global peace.”

Erdogan said Turkey would supply natural gas and electricity to help meet Lebanon’s energy needs and that the two countries planned a ferry service between their Mediterranean coasts.

Hariri, for his part, said: “We are not advocates of war, but advocates of the return of our stolen land.”

“Defending Lebanon is not an act of terrorism, but attacks on Lebanon are terrorism itself… We have to stand shoulder by shoulder against the enemy’s plans… We have to stop Israel,” said Hariri answering a question.

Hariri hailed Turkey’s improving ties with Arab countries and increased activism in peace efforts in the Middle East.

“We hope and expect Turkey to continue playing a positive role in trying to bring peace,” he said.

Later Monday, Hariri and the accompanying delegation visited the Turkish parliament in the afternoon.

The premier crowned his talks by an evening meeting with the Turkish President Abdullah Gul in presence of Lebanese Ministers Ali al-Shami, Ziad Baroud, Jerban Bassil, Mohammed Jawad Khalifeh, Mohammed Rahhal, Salim Wardeh, and a number of top Turkish officials.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Hariri from Turkey: Defending Lebanon is Not Terrorism