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‘Blinding the truth’: Israeli snipers target Gaza protesters in the eyes

By Tareq Hajjaj and Pam Bailey | The New Arab | December 20, 2019

Media coverage and social media posts went wild when Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh was blinded in his left eye after he was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in the West Bank.

However, Amarneh was far from unique; Israeli snipers targeting participants in Gaza’s weekly Great Return March protests have aimed for the legs – and eyes. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye since the demonstrations began March 30, 2018 – leaving them permanently blind.

“Some of these protesters and journalists were hit in the eye with teargas canisters, but most were targeted directly with what is commonly called a ‘rubber bullet,’ giving the impression they are somehow benign,” says Ashraf Alqedra, MD, a treating physician at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“But there is still steel at the core, and although these bullets don’t usually kill, they do grave damage. It is impossible to save an eye hit directly by a rubber-coated steel bullet.”

However, he adds, due to the Israeli blockade, there are no artificial, glass eyes in Gaza – only a cosmetic improvement, but one that can be a significant psychological aid. These are available only by travelling out of Gaza for treatment and permits for such journeys are often not granted.

According to data released by the World Health Organization, Gaza residents submitted 25,897 applications to travel via Erez Crossing to receive medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel; an average of 2,158 were submitted each month. However, the Israeli government only approved 61 percent.

Mai Abu Rwedah: the most recent victim

Mai Abu Rwedah, 20, grew up in north Gaza’s al-Bureij Refugee Camp in a family of nine children supported by a father who works as a janitor for a UN school. She just graduated from university, hoping to start her professional life as a medical secretary and contribute her income.

But that dream was dealt a severe blow December 6, when she became the most recent Gazan to lose an eye to an Israeli bullet.

Abu Rwedah believes in using peaceful, but active, resistance to reclaim Palestinians’ right to return to their ancestral homeland. So, she has joined participants in the Great Return March protest since its launch on March 30, 2018.

On September 21 of that year, she was shot by a rubber-coated bullet in one of her legs, but that didn’t stop her from participating; she kept on going.

Doctors had to extract Mai’s right eye and the bullet damaged her jaw as well

Earlier this month, stood with a few friends about 100 metres from the fence that marks the border between Gaza and Israel. She glimpsed an Israeli soldier waving and pointing his finger to his eye.

“He was trying to intimidate me, but I was not afraid because I was doing nothing wrong. I wasn’t even throwing stones,” Abu Rwedeh recalls.

The soldiers fired tear gas then, and Mai and her friends ran away, but still were in sight of the young man who had threatened her.

“He was watching me; wherever I moved he kept watching. Then, suddenly, he raised his gun and pointed it at me. I was about to flee but he was too fast. He shot me in my eye.”

The bullet damaged her jaw as well. Doctors had to extract her right eye, since it was destroyed, Her determination, however, is intact. Abu Rwedeh continues to protest.

The youngest victim

Mohammed Al-Najar, 12, is the second-oldest son among four children, supported by a father who works in a wedding hall in Khan Younis.

In January, during the mid-year vacation from school, Mohammed begged his parents to allow him to watch the Friday protest with his cousins and other relatives, thinking it would give him an exciting story to share with classmates.

He was given permission to ride one of the government buses that collected people from the various neighbourhoods, taking them to the protest sites. When he disembarked, teargas bombs were flying, and he shouted to warn those around him. Then next one hit him directly in his right eye.

When Mohammad learned later that his eye could not be saved, he locked himself in his room and stopped going to school. When he did go back, he struggled.

“At first his marks at school dropped and he isolated himself. He tried to hide his missing eye,” says his mother, Um Edress.

She took to him an organisation that provided psychotherapy, but he refused to speak. Today, he is socialising, but goes quiet when asked about his injury.

The journalist

According to Dr Alqedra, most people with eye injuries from the Great Return March are journalists or photographers.

One of them is Sami Musran 35, a photographer who works for Al-Aqsa TV. On July 19, he was shot several times – first in his hand, the next two times in his shoulders and the fourth time in the chest. (Fortunately, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, so it did not harm him.) The last time cost him his left eye.

Sami says he had received several calls from Israeli officers warning him not to take photos at the Great Return March. His mother also received calls, saying her son might be killed.

“Forty times, my Facebook account was hacked or deleted for me, and I received death threats as well,” he says. “But I decided to keep on with my work to reveal the Israeli crimes against unarmed Palestinians who participate in the march.”

The night before Musran was shot, his wife tried to insist he stay home, but he refused.

“Minutes before I was hit, my mother called me twice, saying she was very worried about me. But I said that nothing happens that isn’t God’s plan,” he recalls.

He was about 250 metres away from of the Israeli fence when two women and a child were shot. Musran was taking photos of them and went in close. That’s when a rubber-coated bullet hit his eye and he lost consciousness. Two days later, he woke up in the intensive care unit to find out he had a skull fracture and an injured eye. The bullet had damaged the iris, retina and cornea and his vision was gone.

Today, it is hard for him to continue with his job; his depth perception is off, he gets headaches and the sight in his remaining eye “fades” at night. But he will keep trying.

“Israel wants to blind the eyes of the truth by sending messages to photographers saying we will hit your eyes to make you stop taking photos,” he says. “But we do not surrender.”

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Japan to send helicopter-carrying destroyer & spy planes to ensure ‘safe passage’ of oil from increasingly crowded Middle East

RT | December 27, 2019

Japan’s cabinet has approved a plan to send its warship and surveillance planes to the Middle East, framing the controversial mission as “study and research activities” totally separate from the US initiative to contain Iran.

Tokyo is expected to send a destroyer with 200 crew and carrying up to two patrol helicopters alongside two P-3C anti-submarine patrol airplanes to the Gulf of Oman sometime in February, for a year-long mission.

The deployment is styled as a “study and research” mission to ensure “safe passage” for Japanese vessels through the region from which Tokyo receives some 90% of its oil imports. Yet in case of “unexpected developments,” local media report, a special order might be issued by the Japanese defence minister to allow the ‘Self-Defense Force’ to use weapons.

The possibility of Japanese deployment to the region was first voiced soon after a Japanese oil tanker came under a totally not suspicious attack back in June that by pure coincidence occurred just as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

Washington blamed Tehran for that and other attacks, pitching the idea of a maritime ‘policing’ mission but finding little enthusiasm among its allies. Besides Bahrain and the UAE, only the UK agreed to send a couple of destroyers after an embarrassing incident when it tried to seize an Iranian tanker under a bogus pretext only to get its own vessel impounded in a tit-for-tat response. Saudi Arabia joined the naval alliance after a drone attack – that was also pinned on Iran – targeted a major oil facility in the country. In addition, Australia promised to join sometime next year and the US says it’s only a “matter of time” until Qatar and Kuwait also join.

France in the meantime is spearheading a European-led mission independent of the US-led maritime initiative, as the US failed to convince European allies that its gunboat diplomacy was indeed only aimed at ‘protecting’ crucial waterways rather than enforcing Washington’s unilateral sanctions on Iran.

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

Maccabee Task Force covertly funded 3,200 pro-Israel events on US campuses

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | December 26, 2019

David Brog, executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, emailed supporters on December 26th: “In the spirit of Hanukkah, donate to help us create modern day Maccabees.” (Maccabees are sometimes seen as violent extremists; see below).

The Maccabee Task Force funds free, propaganda trips for campus leaders to Israel, while obscuring its role and objective in the trips.

In his email solicitation for donations, Brog acknowledged his organization’s covert tactics:

“Many groups like to talk about what they’re doing on campus. We rarely do. You will never see our name on the events we sponsor. You will never see our logo on the buses we send to Israel.”

His email continued:

“But if we hope to continue to raise the funds we need to support these extensive efforts, then we do need to share ‘what we’re doing about it’ on occasion.

“By the time this academic year is over, we will have funded over 3,200 pro-Israel events on 112 campuses across the country and around the world.  And we will have brought over 2,300 leaders from these campuses on transformative trips to Israel.

“And these efforts are working!  Last year, BDS passed on only one of the 80 campuses on which we were active.  And we intentionally go to the campuses with the most active anti-Israel efforts.

“These efforts are extremely effective — and extremely expensive.  If we’re going to be able to keep growing at this pace, we need your help.  Together, we can ensure that we bring more strategies and support to even more pro-Israel students next year.”

Brog, who is Jewish, is also the founding executive director of “Christians United for Israel (CUFI).” In 2007, the Forward listed Brog in its “Forward 50” most influential Jews in America.

According to Charisma News, “Brog is the powerhouse behind the Christian organization, yet he’s also a conservative (non-Messianic) Jew.” The article reports: “Brog, who was chief of staff to liberal Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania for seven years, is said to run CUFI like a political campaign. He has talking points, stays focused and rallies his constituency.”

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is Brog’s cousin.

The Maccabee Task Force is funded by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who once said he regretted serving in the US Army instead of the Israeli military. Adelson and others are trying to counter the growing support for Palestinian human rights in the U.S.

The  2015 “Campus Maccabees Summit,” co-hosted by Adelson and Haim Saban, an Israeli-American billionaire who funds Democrats, brought together 50 Jewish organizations from both the left and the right.

The Forward reports: “Adelson and his fellow conference organizers limited participation in the event to donors willing to pledge at least $1 million over the next two years.”

Maccabees, past & present

The Maccabee revolt is at the core of the Hanukkah story. However, some writers dispute the current interpretation. Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of New York Jewish week, writes:

“In our warm and fuzzy packaging of Chanukah in the 21st century, a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar has taken on added significance as our very own antidote to the pervasiveness of Christmas in America. We prefer to emphasize the miracle of the small cruse of oil in the Temple that miraculously lasted eight days, a symbol of hope, faith and the triumph of the few over the mighty.

“But a reading of The Book of Maccabees reveals a bloody struggle, that of a small band of zealots, led by Matathias and his Maccabee sons, who decried the Hellenistic culture of the conquering Greeks and the prohibitions against Jewish religious practice. They waged war against the Greeks, and, some say, against their wayward brethren as well. The Maccabees, for instance, forced uncircumcised Jews to have a brit milah.”

Rosenblatt states: “I have no doubt that if the Maccabees, heroes of the Chanukah story, were around today, they would be leading the West Bank settlers’ current protests, decrying the Jerusalem government for abandoning its Zionist and religious imperative to claim.”

Brog has a long history of advocating for Israel and working to suppress efforts around the U.S. on behalf of Palestinian rights.

On March 28, 2017, Brog addressed the Nevada State legislature in support of an anti-BDS bill, SB.26. BDS, is an international, nonviolent boycott of Israel over its systemic human rights violations. It is based on the principle that “Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.”

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

Colombia: Farmers Leader Shot to Death in Front of His Family

Social leader Reinaldo Carrillo in Pitalito, Department of Huila, Colombia. 2019. | Photo: Twitter / @ENGmateocastroe
teleSUR | December 26, 2019

The National Association of Farmer Users (ANUC) activist Reinaldo Carrillo was killed at dawn on Wednesday by hitmen who entered his house and shot him in front of his family in Pitalito town, Department of Huila, Colombia.

“We reject the murder of Reinaldo Carrillo. He was a member of a group of people which expected the government to grant them the ownership title of a vacant land called La Conaca,” said the ANUC, an organization legally recognized as “victim of the armed conflict” and “subject of reparation.”

“Reinaldo is the fifth ANUC leader killed in Huila over the last year… we demand that the authorities’ actions bring about results so that these cases are not added to the long list of impunities.”

A few minutes after the event, local Caracol Radio reported that the attack was perpetrated by three subjects aboard a motorcycle.

Although the 34-year-old social leader was immediately taken to the Pitalito hospital, he died due to the seriousness of his injuries.

“Infinite sadness. My solidarity with Reinaldo’s family, friends, and colleagues. Land ownership remains at the center of the armed conflict,” environmental activist Tatiana Roa said and added that the ‘Lords of The Land” continue to dispose of the life of Colombian farmers at will.

“Lucy Villareal, the mother of two girls, belonged to that extraordinary group of women who work and also take care of their children with love so that we can have a better country. Her cause does not die with her vile murder. We need a government capable of defending the life of every Colombian.”

Less than 24 hours before, the folk artist and social activist Lucy Villareal was also killed after participating in a workshop with children in the department of Nariño.

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of human rights defenders and social leaders killed increased by 13 percent in Colombia, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).​​​​​​​

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

Impeachment Is a Distraction: Heavily Scripted Vote Demonstrates That Democracy Really Is Dead

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | December 26, 2019

Watching the impeachment “vote” was hard work. With only a few exceptions, each Congressman rose for roughly 90 seconds and provided a prearranged, almost completely scripted-along-party-lines explanation of how he or she was casting one’s ballot. After four grueling hours of hearing self-serving lies like “no one is above the law,” I was hoping that one of them would either fall off the podium and fracture a leg or actually go mad and break out into a song and dance routine. The entire performance was the strongest possible argument for term limits that is possible to make.

However, one of the more truly interesting aspects of the proceedings was the Democratic Party view of Russia, which was cited constantly. According to most of the Democrats, Russian meddling was the decisive element in getting Donald Trump elected, and many of them also believe that there was collusion between the GOP candidate and President Vladimir Putin. It is a viewpoint that is totally at odds with the facts, even if one actually believes that there was a meeting in the Kremlin at which a malevolent Putin instructed his myrmidons to “get Hillary.” Slippery Adam Schiff, he of the intelligence committee, carefully referred to Russia as an adversary but many other Democrats kept using the word “enemy.”

Regarding Ukraine, it was also interesting to note bipartisan support for supplying lethal weapons to the puppet regime in Kiev so they can kill Russian soldiers. No one, as far as I could discern, made the point that the United States had no real interest in regime change in Ukraine in the first place as it was a dangerous move that was responsive to no actual American interest. After that, funding and arming the locals to confront Moscow also would not seem to be in the US interest. That so many congress critters seem to be hard wired in their Russo-phobia would seem to suggest that they are willfully ignorant on the subject and inclined to take the path of least resistance, which is to blame the Kremlin rather than the horrific US policy that preceded and brought about Moscow’s intervention.

One also has to conclude that while the Republicans continue to mostly quietly support an aggressive foreign policy, the real war party in Congress is now the Democrats. They have incorporated Russia as the enemy so completely into their sense of identity that it has become the fallback position whenever they feel compelled to say something to distance themselves from the GOP. For them Russia and Vladimir Putin are together the real enemy that is out to destroy what remains of American democracy. To put it bluntly, such an argument is ridiculous, but it is clearly believed by many in the House of Representatives and Senate.

While all of that was going on in high definition, there were other things taking place. A week before the “trial” in the House of Representatives, the White House ordered a new round of sanctions directed against Iran. The sanctions in part target the country’s largest private airline Mahan Air, which was accused of “weapons of mass destruction proliferation” and transportation of lethal aid to Yemen. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin issued a statement claiming that “The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen.”

Mahan Air has been targeted by the Treasury Department since 2011, when it was claimed that the planes were being used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to move troops and military hardware around the Middle East region. The airline has 55 planes and flies to 40 international and domestic destinations.

The airline is now sanctioned under the Executive Order 13382 as a “proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters.” Apart from the appalling English usage, one might well question the designation itself as Iran is not the party responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. That honor goes to America’s good friend Saudi Arabia. And blaming the situation in Syria on Iran is also a bit of a misdirection as it is the United States that has prolonged the carnage in that country. And what weapons of mass destruction are involved in both cases is by no means clear. Iran has no nukes and there have been no credible reports of the use of chemical or biological weapons in Yemen, while the stories about Syrian government employment of such weapons have turned out to be fabrications.

The Treasury Department sanctions targeted three general ticket sales agents of Mahan Air, as well as dozens of aircraft belonging to or operated by it. The new sanctions might be viewed as the latest step in the US government campaign to apply “maximum pressure” against Iran. The move will mean that other countries in Europe and the Middle East will stop permitting Mahan Air flights from landing or otherwise using their facilities. The Treasury is clearly willing to use what are referred to as “secondary sanctions” on other countries if the ban on Mahan Air is not supported. It is economic warfare pure and simple and the intent might well be to shut down the airline.

The timing and targeting of the White House move suggest that pressure is being directed against Iran’s transportation links with the rest of the world, thereby isolating it and bringing it that much closer to economic collapse. How Iran will react to the new sanctions is not known, but if it is pushed hard enough it might choose to strike back.

There is also some concern over a bill before Congress that was originally introduced three years ago but which now appears to have sufficient support to pass into law. It would authorize additional sanctions by the US Treasury Department directed against “the Syrian regime, Russia and Iran for past and ongoing war crimes” that it has been claimed took place during the Syrian war. As many of the alleged atrocities in the Syrian war have been exposed as fabrications by groups like the White Helmets, it is by no means clear how Washington will verify its list of “war crimes.” At least one report suggests that the White House now supports the bill and is likely to enforce any sanctions that are put in place.

And, of course, it just might be Israel that will pull the trigger and start a war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, struggling for his political survival, continuously claims that Iran is planning to attack, requiring his continued strong leadership. Last month, Israel carried out a “very intense” attack on Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, killing 23 soldiers and civilians. Earlier, the Israeli Air Force claimed that it had destroyed an Iranian weapons depot in Iraq and also used drones to hit alleged Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. Some believe that the Israeli actions are intended to provoke an Iranian response that will bring the US into the fight.

So, Congress continues to whine pointlessly about Russiagate while the pot is boiling over in the Middle East. It will be interesting to see if it will be possible to make it through the year without something very unpleasant happening.

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia, Wars for Israel | , , | 2 Comments

Nobody Is Touching US-Occupied Syrian Oil With a 6 Foot Pole — Saudi Aramco Denies Sending Experts

By Marko Marjanović | Checkpoint Asia | December 26, 2019

Claims emerged last week that Saudi Aramco was looking to get US-occupied oil fields in eastern Syria back to capacity:






December 26, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , | 2 Comments

German politician: “Ami go home!”

By Alexandra Kamyshanova | December 26, 2019

In Germany, discontent is growing over unequal relations with the United States Oskar Lafontaine is a German politician, candidate for Chancellor in the German federal election of 1990, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 1995 to 1999, Minister of Finance from 1998 to 1999, leader of The Left in Saarland since 2010.

The United States of America is waging bloody economic wars against the entire world, and now against us Germans. The German government is talking interference with our sovereignty. What a fallacy! We have never been a sovereign state. After the end of the World War II, it is the Americans who have been handling issues of war and peace in Germany.

In 1963, Charles de Gaulle said: “Having allies… is a matter of course for us in the historical era in which we find ourselves. But to have your own free choice… is also a categorical imperative, because alliances have no absolute virtue, no matter what feelings they are based on. And if you give up control over yourself, you run the risk of never regaining it.”

Later, Francois Mitterrand would add: “You can’t hand the solution over to others when life or death is at stake.”

American military bases in Germany imperil us instead of protecting. The United States is pushing us to a war with its aggressive policy of encircling Russia and China, with allocating huge amounts of $738 billion for military purposes, by means of withdrawing from the INF Treaty and placing short-range missiles next to the Russian borders. It is in our interest to liberate the German soil from US military bases.

“Ami go home!” the students chanted in 1968, when the United States killed millions of people in Vietnam, using its military bases in Germany. “Ami go home!” the Germans urged when the United States, under the guise of lying about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, unleashed the war in Iraq using its military facilities in Germany – a war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. “Ami go home!” – this appeal should become the motto of German politics today, when the greatest military power in the world is obviously violating international law and terrorizing all of the world.

This has been taken from Oscar Lafontaine’s Facebook and distributed by the German Nachdenk Seiten run by another “heavyweight” of German politics – Albrecht Müller, a long-term ally of German Chancellor Willy Brandt, Bundestag member from 1987 to 1994.

“People like Oscar Lafontaine,” Albrecht Müller writes in his commentary, “able to get across their ideas, are a must-have in politics. The demand [on the US to leave Germany] is by no means radical. It’s appropriate. Many Germans believe so, but not those who shape today’s politics in Berlin. The German establishment and representatives of the major news outlets are either associated with the United States and dependent on them, or serve the interests of the military establishment. There are also people who simply lack courage and consider the ‘Ami go home’ demand unduly radical. What else should happen? Sanctions have been imposed against us Germans. The weaponization process is at our expense. We are involved in maneuvers next to the Russian borders. Convoys with military equipment block our railways. What is finally going to make the cup run over.”

December 26, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments