Aletho News


Two killed in sport club bombing

25 August 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza

At about 1:30 A.M. on August 25, 2011 Israeli warplanes bombed the Salama Sports Club in Beit Lahia. The building was empty at the time. The sports club, however, is in the middle of a residential area. Two people from a neighboring house were killed in the bombing, Salama Abdul Rahman al-Masri, 18, the son of the house’s owner, who died immediately; and Alaa ‘Adnan Mohammed al-Jakhbeer, 22, from Jabalya. Twenty five other people were injured in the bombing, including eleven children and seven women. The bombing also caused heavy damage to the Dar Al Huda School and several surrounding buildings.

Salama was sitting with seven friends of his in the back yard of his family’s house. After evening prayers they often sat there. This evening, Salama had went shopping for gifts for Eid before joining his friends. Fourteen people lived in Salama’s house, his parents, three of his brothers, five of his sisters, and the wife and baby of one of his brothers. Salama was a hardworking young man. He wanted to help his family have a better life. He worked two jobs, one in a store that sells chickens, and another at a falafel stand. He did this while he studied to retake the Tawjihi, the exam to enter university. Ambulances arrived quickly, only ten minutes after the bombing, but it was too late for Salama, he was killed instantly when a piece of shrapnel from the bombing struck the back of his head. His brother wants the international community to “stop pretending that giving aid is enough, the people who were killed here were civilians, we are treated unfairly, to support us in our quest for our rights, not just provide food. Our problem isn’t food, it is that we are refugees expelled from our land and denied our rights.”

His friend Alaa was not so lucky. He died from his wounds two hours later. He and Salama had met through Salama’s older brother, they had become close friends. Despite the fact that Alaa wasn’t from Beit Lahia he often came to Beit Lahia to spend time with Salama. He had recently finished his degree in Islamic Law from a center run by the Waqf in Beit Lahia.

The Salama Sport Club is a large building. Three floors, the top floor was used as area to play sports, basketball, volleyball, football, the middle floor was used for practicing karate and other sports, the lower floor was devoted to weight lifting. The entire building is now destroyed. The bomb penetrated the top floor and exploded in the middle floor. The roof has collapsed onto the lower levels. Equipment lies scattered around the rubble. Thankfully the Israeli’s did not choose to bomb the club a day earlier, it was full of people having a celebration. The club opened in 2005 and served hundreds of local residents, providing much needed recreational possibilities in an area that lacks many choices. Employees don’t understand why the club was bombed, it was a public club, it was not affiliated with any political party, it was only a place for local young people to exercise and play games.

Next to the Salama Sport Club is the Dar Al Huda School. Unlike the Salama Sport Club the school wasn’t empty when the bomb struck. Workers were inside painting it, getting it ready for the new school year which starts soon. Two of them were injured. One of them is in the hospital now, in critical condition.

The Dar Al Huda School serves about three hundred and twenty students. Two hundred students in a kindergarten and 120 students through the sixth grade. When we arrived children were collecting books from the rubble, piling them up, trying to salvage what they could. The building is heavily damaged, the wall on the side facing the sport club is totally destroyed. Rubble fills the classrooms. The walls are still adorned with murals of cartoon characters, Bambi and Snow White seem to be the most popular. Dar Al Huda is a private school. It attracted students from all over North Gaza, families of refugees, from Haifa, from Lod, from Ashdod, from Beersheba. They came for the art programs, for the small classes. Now, the children’s paints lie scattered in the rubble, their art projects hang from the ceiling covered in dust. The walls of the kindergarten are still covered in posters of fruits and animals, but no students will be studying there any time soon. The front of the school is covered in plaques thanking donors who helped to build the school. The Canadian International Development Agency has wasted its money, they built a school, but Israel has destroyed it. No more students will be learning to paint in their building. We walk around the school with its director, he asks us why Israel would destroy a kindergarten, did the children learning to paint threaten them? Did the children learning to read threaten it? In truth, the existence of the children is a threat to Israel, they are a living reminder of the Nakba, of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. If only the children would disappear Israel might be able to convince the world that its crimes are all in the past, that they are somehow less real. The children exist though, now they live in Gaza, not in their homes in Ashdod, Beersheba, and Lod.

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on Two killed in sport club bombing

The Ghosts of Empire Are Returning To Haunt Britain – and the US

By Johann Hari – May 28, 2009

In a few weeks, a group of quiet, dignified elderly men and women will arrive in London to explain how the forces of the British state crushed their testicles or breasts with pliers. It was part of a deliberate policy of breaking a civilian population who we regarded as “baboons”, “barbarians” and “terrorists.” They will come bearing the story of how Britain invaded a country, stole its land, and imprisoned an entire civilian population in detention camps – and they ask only for justice, after all this time.

As a small symbol of how we as a country have not come to terms with our history, compare the bemused reaction to the arrival of these Kenyan survivors of Britain’s gulags to the recent campaign supporting the Gurkhas. We have all waxed lyrical over the Nepalese mercenaries who were, for two centuries, hired by the British Empire to fight its least savory battles. Sometimes they were used in great causes, like the defeat of Nazism. Sometimes they were used to viciously crush democratic movements in India or Malaya or Pakistan. But they obediently did the bidding of the Empire – so they are a rare bunch of foreigners who the right will turn moist over and welcome to our island.

I too strongly supported their rights to reside in Britain, out of simple humanity – if they’re good enough to die for us, they’re good enough to live with us. But isn’t it revealing that even in 2009, we can cheer the servants of Empire but blank the people mutilated and murdered by it? There will be no press campaigns or celebrity endorsements for the survivors of the Kenyan suppression when they issue a reparations claim in London next month. They will be met with a bemused shrug. Yet their story tells us far more.

The British arrived in Kenya in the 1880s, at a time when our economic dominance was waning and new colonies were needed. The Colonial Office sent in waves of white settlers to seize the land from the local “apes” and mark it with the Union Jack. Francis Hall was the officer of the East India Company tasked with mounting armed raids against the Kikuyu – the most populous local tribe – to break their resistance. He said: “There is only one way of improving the [Kikuyu] and that is to wipe them out; I would only be too delighted to do so but we have to depend on them for food supplies.”

The British troops stole over sixty thousand acres from the Kikuyu, and renamed the area “the White Highlands.” But the white settlers were aristocratic dilettantes with little experience of farming, and they were soon outraged to discover that the “primitives” were growing food far more efficiently on the reserves they had been driven into. So they forced the local black population to work “their” land, and passed a law banning the local Africans from independently growing the most profitable cash crops – tea, coffee, and sisal.

The people of Kenya objected, and tried to repel the invaders. They called for “ithaka na wiyathi” – land and freedom. After peaceful protests were met with violence, they formed a group, dubbed the Mau Mau, to stop the suppression any way they could. They started killing the leaders appointed by the British, and some of the settlers too. As a result, the London press described them as “evil savages” and “terrorists” motivated by hatred of Christianity and civilization. They had been “brainwashed” by “Mau Mau cult leaders”, the reports shrieked.

The 1.5 million Kikuya overwhelmingly supported the Mau Mau and independence – so the British declared war on them all. A State of Emergency was announced, and it began with forced removals of all Kikuyu. Anybody living outside the reserves – in any of the cities, for example – was rounded up at gunpoint, packed into lorries, and sent to “transit camps”. There, they were “screened” to see if they were Mau Mau supporters. One of the people locked up this way for months was Barack Obama’s grandfather.

Professor Caroline Elkins, who studied the detention camps for five years for her remarkable book ‘Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya’, explains the tactics adopted by the British to snuffle out Mau Mau. “Electric shock was widely used, as well as cigarettes and fire,” she writes. “Bottles (often broken), gun barrels, knives, snakes, vermin and hot eggs were thrust up men’s rectums and women’s vaginas. The screening teams whipped, shot, burned, and mutilated Mau Mau suspects.”

The people judged to be guilty of Mau Mau sympathies were transferred to torture camps. There, each detainee was given a number which they had to wear on a band on their wrist. They were then stripped naked and sent through a cattle dip, before the torture would begin again. “Detainees were frog-marched around the compound and beaten until blood ran from their ears,” Elkins writes.

The Kikuyu survivor Pascasio Macharia describes some of the tortures he witnessed: “The askaris [guards[ brought in fire buckets full of water, and the detainees were called on by one, [my friend] Peterson first. The asakaris then put his head in the bucket of water and lifted his legs high in the air so he was upside down. That’s when [one of the camp commandants] started cramming sand in Peterson’s anus and stuffed it in with a stick. The other askari would put water in, and then more sand. They kept doing this back and forth… Eventually they finished with Peterson and carried him off, only to start on the next detainee in the compound.”

Another favoured torment was to roll a man in barbed wire and kick him around until he bled to death. Typhoid, dysentery and lice sycthed through the population. Castration was common. At least 80,000 people were locked away and tortured like this. When I reported from Kenya earlier this year, I met elderly people who still shake with fear as they talk about the gulags. William Baldwin, a British member of the Kenya Police Reserve, wrote a memoir in which he cheerfully admits to murdering Kikuya “baboons” in cold blood. He bragged about how he gutted them with knives while other suspects watched. Another British officer, Tony Cross, proudly called their tactics “Gestapo stuff.”

For the civilians outside, life was only slightly better. Women and children were trapped in eight hundred “sealed villages” throughout the countryside. They were surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, and forced at gunpoint to dig trenches that sealed them off from the world.
There was always another, honorable Britain who fought against these crimes. The Labour left – especially Barbra Castle and Nye Bevan – fought for the camps to be exposed and shut. They didn’t succeed until the British imperialists were finally forced to scuttle away from the country entirely. We will never know how many people they murdered, because the colonial administration built a bonfire of all the paperwork on their way out the door. Elkins calculates it is far more than the 11,000 claimed by the British government, and could be as many as 300,000.

Yet in Britain today, there is a blood-encrusted blank spot about Empire. On the reality show The Apprentice, the contestants recently had to pick a name for their team, and they said they wanted “something that represented the best of British” – so they settled on “Empire.” Nobody objected. Imagine young Germans blithely naming a team “Reich”: it’s unthinkable, because they have had to study what their fathers and grandfathers did, and expunge these barbarous instincts from their national DNA.

This failure to absorb the lessons of Empire is not only unjust to the victims; it leads us to repeat horrifying mistakes. Today, we are – with the Americans – using unmanned drones to bomb the Pakistan-Afghan borderland, as we did a few years ago in Iraq. Nobody here seems to remember that the British invented aerial counter-insurgency in this very spot – with disastrous consequences. In 1924, Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris bragged that all rebellion could be stopped with this tactic. We have shown them “what real bombing means, in casualties and damage: they know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed,” he said. Yet instead of “pacifying” them, it radically alienated the population and lead to an uprising. If we knew our history, we would not be running the same script and expecting a different ending.

Gordon Brown said last year (in India, of all places) that “the days of Britain having to apologise for its colonial history are over.” The survivors of England’s blanked-out torture camps are entitled to ask: when did we start?

To read my series of articles criticizing the imperialist historians Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts, click here, here and here.

Johann Hari is an award-winning journalist who writes twice-weekly for the Independent, one of Britain’s leading newspapers.

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 3 Comments

Locals can own land now in Sinai according to new law

Ahram Online | 23 August 2011

The Egyptian Cabinet has issued a new law that permits the locals in Sinai to own land there, after years of denying them this right for security reasons. The cabinet also decided in a meeting to set up the Special Supreme Council for Developing Sinai, with an independent budget and jurisdiction, dedicated to the integrated development of the peninsula.

The new council’s headquarters will be in Sinai and its chairman will report directly to the prime minister.

The government has also decided to set up a new public university in North Sinai, and to issue a license for a private university in South Sinai. Moreover, the government will develop major roads in Sinai to improve tourism in the peninsula.

The government has decided to issue a quota for the employment of Sinai’s locals in public and private companies and projects.

It is also considering setting up a new governorate in the middle of the Sinai peninsula, as this zone in particular suffers from poverty.

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Economics | Comments Off on Locals can own land now in Sinai according to new law

Silwan committee unveils Israeli scheme to take over Al-Bustan zone

Palestine Information Center – 25/08/2011

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Spokesman for Silwan defense committee Abdulkarim Abu Sunaina revealed an Israeli Judaization scheme to encroach into Silwan district and wipe out Al-Bustan neighborhood using different excuses such as the establishment of sewerage systems.

Abu Sunaina, in a press release on Tuesday, reported that the Israeli municipal council in occupied Jerusalem closed the street near the sit-in tent in Al-Bustan area and started under military protection to carry out excavations allegedly for the establishment of a sewerage system.

The spokesman affirmed that these excavations are aimed at encroaching upon Al-Bustan neighborhood under different pretexts and then faking archeological findings as a prelude to extending day by day these excavations further into the neighborhood.

He added that such excavations are also intended to undermine the movement of Palestinian residents in the neighborhoods in order to make it easy for the Israeli occupation authority to pounce on them in case it issued demolition orders against their homes in the coming days.

The spokesman noted that the Israeli municipal council dared to take such step only after it was able to jail lately a large number of young Palestinians from Silwan.

In another incident, Wadi Hilwa information center said on Tuesday that a new settlement outpost consisting of eight housing units and four floors will be built in Ras Al-Amud neighborhood in Silwan district near the old police station that was seized by the Zionist settlement society Elad.

The center added that the Jewish settlers are trying to take hold of a building of seven floors in Al-Farouk neighborhood located between Silwan and Jabal Al-Mukkaber.

It noted that Elad society seized months ago a Palestinian apartment building in the same neighborhood.

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Israel kills six Gazans in 24 hours

Press TV – August 25, 2011

Medical sources in the Gaza Strip say at least six people have been killed in Israeli attacks against the coastal sliver in the past 24 hours.

Five people were killed and 30 others wounded in a series of pre-dawn Israeli attacks that continued into the early hours of Thursday, AFP Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for Gaza’s emergency services, as saying.

Among the killed were two members of the Islamic Jihad Movement identified as Ismail al-Asmar, 34, and Ismail Amum, 65.

Asmar was killed when his vehicle was targeted by an Israeli missile on Wednesday morning in the southern city of Rafah. Amum’s body was also found after he was killed in an earlier strike near Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

Another Jihad activist, 20-year-old Atiya Muqat also lost his life in an Israeli attack on Wednesday evening and a separate attack on Rafah killed a civilian working inside Gaza’s underground tunnels across the Egyptian border.

Israel continued its attacks on the beleaguered Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, when its warplanes pounded a sports hall in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, killing a civilian and wounding another 20.

Hours later, a civilian critically wounded in Beit Lahiya died due to the severity of his injuries.

Tel Aviv has threatened more attacks on the Gaza Strip, which has been under an all-out Israeli siege tightened since 2007.

Israel has stepped up its airstrikes against the besieged Gaza Strip over the past few days, killing more than 20 people in the Palestinian coastal sliver and leaving scores more injured.

August 25, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Comments Off on Israel kills six Gazans in 24 hours