Aletho News


Israel Demolishes Bedouin Village for Eleventh Time

Tania Kepler for the Alternative Information Center, 31 January 2011

The Israeli Land Authority (ILA) demolished the Bedouin village of El Araqib for the 11th time today, 31 January.

Previous demolition of the Bedouin village of El Araqib (Photo courtesy of the Negev Coexistence Forum)

The ILA along with Israeli police entered the village this morning with bulldozers and destroyed the tents and makeshift structures the villagers had erected since the last demolition, less than two weeks ago on 19 January.

During the demolition, the villagers moved from their land to the neighboring cemetery, where the women and children waited inside the mosque and the men were forced to stand outside in the rain.

Palestinian and Israeli activists will hold a protest demonstration on Tuesday (1 February) afternoon in front of the Jewish National Fund office in Jerusalem, demanding justice for the residents of El Araqib and all the Bedouin citizens of Israel.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), which has been trying to build a “peace forest” on the site of El Araqib, began working on the site. They terraced the land and damned the area in order to drain water. When the JNF workers left, the villagers were still waiting in the rain in the cemetery, homeless. It is likely that the JNF will return tomorrow to continue the work.

The Israel Land Authority and particularly the Jewish National Fund are at the heart of the wave of demolitions in Bedouin areas like El Araqib. The ILA is the branch of the Israel government responsible for managing the 93% of the land in Israel which the country considers public domain, though much of the land is actually unrecognized Arab villages and land.

In recent months the JNF and the Israel Land Authority (ILA) have been working to “encourage” the remaining nomadic Bedouin communities to settle in cities and stay off the land. The encouragement has come in the form of regular demolitions of Bedouin villages.

Israeli authorities have demolished thousands of Bedouin homes in unrecognized villages since the 1970s, many of them comprising no more than tents or shacks. In 2010 alone Israeli officials demolished hundreds of Bedouin structures. The government’s goal is that people will move from rural areas to new Bedouin cities.

One such city is Rahat, located in the Negev and founded in 1972. The city currently has a population around 52,000, but numbers are growing as the Jewish National Fund, the Israeli Land Administration, and the government increase harsh treatment of the villagers nearby. A growing number of families from El Araqib are moving to Rahat, in an attempt to provide stability and a better life to their traumatized children.

The ILA has a history of uprooting olive trees in Palestinian villages and is trying to plant forests as part of a plan to “green” the Negev desert, while making the nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin impossible and pushing them to cities like Rahat, where employment is low and their traditional way of life impossible.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Israel Demolishes Bedouin Village for Eleventh Time

Palestinian Minister Condemns Ongoing Destruction of West Bank Water Cisterns

PNN – 31.01.11

Ramallah – Dr. Shaddad Attili, Minister of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), issued on Monday a press statement condemning Israel’s ongoing destruction of Palestinian water cisterns in the West Bank, saying they are vital to the survival of Palestinian communities with little access to water.

Israel has recently intensified its campaign targeting Palestinian water cisterns, Dr. Attili said. His comments coincided with the 10th anniversary of the 2001 Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee’s “Joint Declaration to Keep the Water Infrastructure Out of the Cycle of Violence.”

“The Government of Israel uses water to target some of the most vulnerable and marginalized Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank,” said Dr. Attili. “This includes Israel’s destruction of household and community water cisterns used by Palestinians to capture rainwater runoff. Some of these cisterns are centuries old, and many are vital to the survival of Palestinian communities who have little access to water.”

“In addition to preventing the rehabilitation of Palestinian water cisterns, particularly in Area C,” he continued, “the Government of Israel has recently intensified its campaign of destroying these same cisterns. The rehabilitation of water cisterns does not require prior approval from the Joint Water Committee (JWC), nor does it require a construction permit from the Israeli Civil Administration.”

He added, “The destruction of Palestinian water-related infrastructure is in clear violation of the 2001 Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee ‘Joint Declaration for Keeping the Water Infrastructure out of the Cycle of Violence.’”

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Joint Declaration, signed by both parties at the Erez Crossing on January 31, 2001. The declaration is intended to protect water infrastructure and the welfare and rights of civilians who need it.

According to the Palestinian Water Authority, many Palestinian communities in Area C, under Israeli army control, are not connected to a water network due to severe infrastructure development restrictions imposed by Israel. For most, water cisterns serve as the only available source of water alongside tankard water, which remains prohibitively expensive. The most marginalized communities rely on this water for their livelihoods, since it is primarily used for livestock and agriculture.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 2 Comments

Huckabee Calls Settlement Freeze ‘ Irrational’

IMEMC News – February 01, 2011

Mike Huckabee, Republican Party US presidential frontrunner, visited the Israeli Knesset on Monday as part of a tour of Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Huckabee took part in a special session of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, centering on the challenges of anti-Semitism that face Israel and the Diaspora

Addressing a group of MKs he said that, “Good Israeli-U.S. relations are not just an option, they are rather a necessity for both sides, and an obligation upon all of us in the American government.”

With reference to the now-defunct freeze on settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land, Huckabee told his audience, “I don’t see why bedrooms for their children built by Jews on a hilltop in Samaria pose a threat to world peace. It’s the lack of construction that is irrational, not the opposite… Those who aim their rifles at Jewish babies are irrational; the danger is not the weapons, but the hatred behind the weapons. Why should Israel give any territory to people who don’t recognize its right to exist?.”

He went on to say he would continue to work to preserve the Nation of Israel’s historic right to live in the Land of Israel.

MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovitz (Israel Our Home) praised Huckabee for having spoken “very Zionistically,” adding that there are some Israelis who could learn from him.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 2 Comments

Israel announces new land seizure near Bethlehem

Ma’an – 01/02/2011

HEBRON — Israel’s Civil Administration announced in the newspapers on Tuesday plans to seize some 600 dunums of lands southwest of Bethlehem, in the southern West Bank.

Residents of Wadi An-Nis and Beit Ummar, locals said, could produce ownership documents for at least 400 dunums of the land.

According to an announcement made in the Arabic papers, “agricultural land will be used for an educational institution according to article 20/24 of construction law number 79 of the year 1966.”

The announcement gave residents 60 days to contest the seizure in Israeli court.

Beit Ummar resident Mahmoud Awwad said his family owned 400 dunums near the site identified in the newspaper, and said he was told that the land would be used to build a school for Ultra-Orthodox Jewish students.

Awwad said he believed the other 200 dunums belonged to the Ikhleil and Sabarna families. His own family, he said, had been working the land near Wadi An-Nis for more than 200 years.

Ownership certificates for the land, he explained, were registered in the Ottoman, British Mandate and Jordanian eras of rule over the area.

Representatives from the Civil Administration did not answer calls for comment.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 1 Comment

Egyptians feel economic pinch of protest

By Fatima El-Bacha | Middle East Online | February 1, 2011

CAIRO – There is no money at the banks. Fuel is scarce. Tourism is evaporating.

As a popular uprising to oust President Hosni Mubark enters its second week, Egyptians are feeling the economic pinch.

Banks have been shut since Sunday, and they remained so on Tuesday, the day that protesters hope will see a million-strong demonstration in Cairo to demand an end to Mubarak’s regime.

Many automatic teller machines (ATM) in the teeming capital have run out of cash, and those still working were dispensing only a limited number of banknotes.

“I scoured the city in search of an automatic teller and I found only one place — in a neighbourhood where people do not normally use ATMs,” said Mohamed, a driver.

In Cairo, supermarkets that usually accepted credit cards insisted on cash instead, while crowds flocked to grocery stores in several neighbourhoods to stock up on essentials.

Many gas stations were closed, with long lines at those that were still open. The Chamber of Commerce in Cairo appealed to shopkeepers on Monday to reopen, but most ignored the call.

Some kiosks complained of an early shortage of cigarettes, in a country with a large number of smokers and relatively cheap tobacco. Top-up cards for mobile phones were also running short.

Responding to growing fears of shortages, the authorities said Egypt still had sufficient stocks of food, including wheat reserves, to feed itself until June.

Tourism, a crucial source of foreign revenue, has been hit hard by the uprising in which at least 125 people have died and thousands injured since it began last Tuesday.

This is high season for the tourist industry, with Europeans escaping their winter for sunshine by the Red Sea and the River Nile, but many tour operators have suspended departures and leisure bookings have dried up.

With 14.7 million visitors in 2010 and revenues estimated at about 13 billion dollars, tourism is an important source of income for Egypt, a developing nation with an estimated 20 percent living under the poverty line.

Some foreign firms have suspended their activities, such as the Danish shipping and oil concern A.P. Moeller-Maersk, the French cement manufacturer Lafarge and Japanese automaker Nissan.

Egyptair cancelled all domestic and international flights between 3 p.m. and 8 a.m. — the hours of a government-imposed curfew — starting Monday. Other flight times are to be modified.

Air freight is off sharply as well, said Ayman Nasr, head of Egyptair’s cargo department.

He said foreign trade had been affected by “the inability to pay for imports due to lack of liquidity resulting from the closure of banks or, the inability to arrive at the airport (to collect shipments) due to the curfew.”

The Cairo stock exchange had been shut since Thursday, after more than 10 percent of its value or 70 billion Egyptian pounds (about 12 billion dollars) was wiped out over its last two days of trading.

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Egyptians feel economic pinch of protest

Self-defense or Spy Mission went Awry

By Abdul-Majid Jaffry | Media Monitors | January 31, 2011

Soon after Pakistan appeared on the world map as a sovereign country, it was placed in the US sphere of influence. From the signing of the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the United States in 1954 to Musharraf’s blind subservience to the US, the incompetent Pakistani rulers have effectively turned Pakistan and US relations into the relationship between the vassal and suzerain state; with Pakistani rulers’ abject submissiveness, Pakistan’s sovereignty has been very much reduced to flag waving and singing the national anthem.

General Musharraf during ten years of his rule pushed Pakistan to a new low in subservience to the US In his constant bid to prove his unwavering loyalty, Musharraf, in his docile act of obedience, sold Pakistani and foreign citizens to the US for a bounty of $5,000 to 5 million per head. These people were kidnapped and hunted in flagrant contravention of Pakistani and international laws, handed over to the US without any charge, concrete evidence or due judicial process, and then they were thrown in the torture pit of Guantanamo Bay. Musharraf, without feeling a single iota of guilt, says in his memoir, “We have captured 689 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totaling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse us of ‘not doing enough’ in the war on terror should simply ask the CIA how much prize money it has paid to the government of Pakistan. Here, I will tell the stories of just a few of the most significant man-hunts…” This is perhaps the first instance in civilized history that a head of state abducted and sold his own people for prize money and was proud of it and unabashedly mentioned it in his memoirs.

Among the many ills that Musharraf inflicted on Pakistan, he allowed the personnel of the US intelligence agencies and mercenaries from American private military companies (Blackwater, Halliburton, DynCorp, etc) to operate all over Pakistan in search of Al Qaeda leaders. Today, it is well known, that hundreds of US armed operatives freely roam on the streets of Pakistani cities. Whether as a mistake or unintentional utterance, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an interview admitted Blackwater’s presence in Pakistan. Not only did the Musharraf regime allow American mercenary presence in the country but he also waived the visa requirement for them; they come and go as they please, without visa or traveling documents. Often, they are escorted off the plane into a waiting car on the tarmac.

Pakistan’s newspaper Nawa-e Waqt in its editorial writes, “The Blackwater operatives, who committed heinous and inhuman crimes in Iraq, come wherever they please in Pakistan without visa or travel document. They keep on roaming around in vehicles with fake number plates with dangerous weapons. These U.S. officials point guns at the security people if asked to reveal their identity. During a few minutes debate, there is a series of phone calls from the high officials, and they, who consider Pakistan as their playground, are allowed to go with honor (How Much Dignity is Left?”, Nawa-e Waqt, January 18, 2010, translated from Urdu). It is also claimed by many and cannot be dismissed easily that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was abducted independently by Americans mercenaries from Karachi and then transferred to Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s government, Musharraf’s and the present PPP regime, has turned a blind eye and keeps mum to US mercenaries violating the country’s sovereignty and assassinating its citizens. However, the recent murder of two Pakistanis by a U.S. “diplomat” Raymond Davis on a busy street of Lahore in full view of the public forced the Pakistani government to arrest the American suspect. After the shooting and killing Davis called the consulate for help, a Land Cruiser, came to the scene. The driver of the Land Cruiser went the wrong way down a one-way street and ran over a man on a motorcycle, killing a third person. The driver of the get-away vehicle and four passengers who came to rescue Davis fled the scene and are still at large. Despite repeated requests the US Consulate is not revealing any information about the driver who killed a motorcyclist. The murder incident and the aborted attempt to rescue and help the suspect flee has, once again, brought to the forefront the presence and criminal activities of secretly fielded American mercenaries in Pakistan.

The US authorities claim that the name of the man arrested for the double murder is not Raymond Davis. The US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “We have not released the identity of our employee at this point”; however, he denied the man’s name is Raymond Davis. The US Embassy in Pakistan says that the man in Pakistan’s custody is a diplomat with a valid US diplomat passport and visa. But the copies of passport and visa of Davis obtained by Dawn News show that his name is Raymond Alan Davis, his passport is not of a diplomat and he was not on diplomatic visa but he came to Pakistan on a business visa. The US first claimed that Davis is a “Technical Adviser” and “Counselor”. Later his designation is changed to “functionary” of the US Consulate. However, ABC News says, Davis is an employee of Hyperion Protective Consultants LLC, a private security company based in Orlando, Florida.

Davis’ claim that he killed the two men in self-defense is spoiled when one considers that all the bullet wounds were found in the back of the dead bodies. Also, no shot was fired from the guns recovered on the bodies of the dead Pakistanis. His other claim that he is immune from arrest and prosecution by the virtue of his diplomatic status is also proven empty, as neither his passport nor the visa is diplomatic. If indeed Davis is a diplomat and enjoys diplomatic immunity, the US, on ethical grounds, should waive the immunity and let the judicial process take its course. It would only raise US prestige. If Davis truly acted in self-defense, he would be acquitted.

The Washington Post in its report of January 27 puts a new twist to the already complicated storyline, and even adds a dose of suspense. Here is what the Post says, “A senior former U.S. diplomatic security agent suggested Thursday that the American involved in a fatal shootout in Lahore, Pakistan, was the victim of a spy meeting gone awry, not the target of a robbery or car-jacking attempt.” The Post quoted Fred Burton, a former deputy chief of the US Diplomatic Security Service’s counter-terrorism division who worked on several major terrorism cases in the 1980s and 1990s, as saying: “It looks like an informant meet gone bad more than a car-jacking attempt.”

If we consider what a diplomat fluent in Urdu with automatic weapons and a large sum of money in a rented car was doing in the part of town that has been scene of terror bombing, Burton’s theory of “an informant meet gone bad” appears highly credible. Diplomats do not travel in a locally rented car and go cruising with large sums of money and automatic weapons in the not so desirable part of the town. It is very plausible that Davis was on a mission and the mission went awry. Pakistanis strongly suspects U.S. hands in the terror bombings in their country.

At the end of the day, the US will get its way; Pakistan’s servile administration under US pressure will let Davis go free. There will be some clamor in the press and anti US demonstrations on the streets but all will be forgotten and forgiven soon. The other likely scenario: to appease the Pakistani public, the US may release Dr. Aafia Siddique; a Pakistani neuroscientist who the US says has ties to Al Qaeda members, sentenced in the US to 86 years in prison for attempted murder, in exchange for the release of Raymond Davis. It is highly unlikely, rather unimaginable, that the trial will go to its end, and if Davis is found guilty that he will serve the full sentence in a Pakistani jail. The US is not Pakistan, and Raymond Davis is not Pakistani Aafia Siddique, who was sold and forgotten and abandoned by her Pakistani rulers.

If Raymond Davis goes free, after murdering two Pakistanis in broad daylight, without judicial process, it would be yet another abject surrender by the Pakistani government to the will of the US.

© 2011 Abdul-Majid Jaffry

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment