August 2012

August 28, 2012

EDITOR:Israeli justice is a sham

Shame on Israel! Shame for murdering Rachel, then for hiding the facts, tailoring the ‘investigation’, and now for producing a legal travesty justifying the murder while removing itself from the realm of responsibilities. Israel has shed blood of tens of thousands, from Beirut to Gaza and beyond, and never considers itself responsible for a single death. Can there be a higher degree of hypocrisy and pretense? History will judge those who cannot judge themselves! The Israeli system of justice exists in order to exonerate war crimes, this is quite clear.

We will not allow Rachel’s name to be forgotten, or her callous murder to be forgiven, like the thousands of Palestinians murdered all the time, which she tried to protect, paying with her life. Damn the murderers, and damn their coverup and corrupt ‘justice’!

Rachel Corrie lawsuit result ‘dangerous precedent’ say human rights groups: Guardian

Concern ruling will allow Israel to exploit ‘legal black hole’ and avoid responsibility for its actions

Human rights organisations have warned of a “dangerous precedent” following an Israeli court’s dismissal of a civil lawsuit over the death of US activist Rachel Corrie, which stated that Israel could not be held responsible because its army was engaged in a combat operation.

Corrie “was accidentally killed in the framework of a ‘war-related activity’ … [and] the state bears no responsibility for the damages inflicted on the plaintiffs resulting from a war-related action,” said Judge Oded Gershon at Haifa district court.

The 23-year-old activist was crushed by a military bulldozer which she believed was intent on demolishing a Palestinian home in Rafah, southern Gaza, in March 2003. Gershon ruled that it was a “regrettable accident” that Corrie had brought upon herself. There had been no fault in the internal Israeli military investigation, which cleared the bulldozer driver of any blame, the court found. “The deceased was in a blind spot – the operator didn’t see her,” said Gershon.

Corrie had “put herself in a dangerous situation” and could have saved herself by moving out of the zone of danger, he said. The area was “the site of daily warfare” and a closed military zone, and the US government had warned its citizens not to go there.

Hussein Abu Hussein, the Corrie family’s lawyer, said the ruling sent “a very dangerous message and precedent that there are no restrictions on Israeli military behaviour in Gaza and the West Bank”. The ruling would “close the doors of justice to civilian victims”, including foreigners, and “expand a legal black hole” in which Israel seeks to evade responsibility for its actions.

The verdict, he said, was “yet another example of where impunity has prevailed over accountability and fairness. We knew from the beginning that we had an uphill battle to get truthful answers and justice, but we are convinced that this verdict distorts the strong evidence presented in court, and contradicts fundamental principles of international law with regard to protection of human rights defenders. In denying justice in Rachel Corrie’s killing, this verdict speaks to the systemic failure to hold the Israeli military accountable for continuing violations of basic human rights.”

Human Rights Watch said the ruling contravened international law, which is intended to protect non-combatants in war zones, and set “a dangerous precedent”. “The idea that there can be no fault for killing civilians in a combat operation flatly contradicts Israel’s international legal obligations to spare civilians from harm during armed conflict and to credibly investigate and punish violations by its forces,” said Bill van Esveld, a senior Middle East researcher at HRW.

Shawan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights organisation, Al Haq, said: “Israel has claimed that it is not responsible for the death of a civilian in armed conflict. However, this flatly ignores international law, which stipulates that Israel is under an obligation to take all measures to ensure that no civilians will be harmed during hostilities, and must at all times distinguish between military targets and civilians.

“The presence of a civilian in a combat zone does in any way not affect their right to protection. Instead, their protected status applies regardless of their location in a conflict, and international law clearly states that they must be protected against acts of violence in all circumstances.”

Corrie’s parents, Cindy and Craig, of Olympia, Washington State, sued the state of Israel, accusing it of the unlawful or intentional killing of their daughter or of gross negligence.

The family was “deeply saddened and deeply troubled” by the ruling, Cindy Corrie said afterwards. “I believe this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel.” The state, she said, “has worked extremely hard to make sure that the truth about what happened to my daughter is not known and those responsible will not be held accountable”. The family will appeal to the supreme court.

The Israeli justice ministry described Corrie’s death as “a tragic accident”. The bulldozer driver and his commander were “exonerated of any blame for negligence”, it said in a statement.

At the time of Corrie’s death, house demolitions were common; part of an increasing cycle of violence from both sides. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said the homes it targeted were harbouring militants or weapons or being used to conceal arms-smuggling tunnels under the border. Human rights groups said the demolitions were collective punishment. Between 2000 and 2004, the Israeli military demolished 1,700 homes in Rafah, leaving about 17,000 people homeless, according to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem.

Corrie was one of a group of around eight international activists acting as human shields against the demolitions. Fellow activists said she was clearly within the line of sight of the bulldozer driver, who drove straight at her.

Israel promised a “thorough, credible and transparent” investigation into her death. Within a month, an IDF internal inquiry had concluded that the driver of the bulldozer had not seen the activist and that no charges would be brought.

During the Corries’ civil lawsuit, which lasted almost two and a half years, the bulldozer driver testified anonymously from behind a screen for “security reasons”. He insisted that the first time he saw the activist was when he “saw people pulling the body out from under the earth”.

His commanding officer, Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz, told the court that Rafah was a war zone in 2003 and said that “reasonable people would not be there unless they had aims of attacking our forces”.

How the US and Israeli justice systems whitewash state crimes: Guardian CiF

Courts are supposed to check the abuse of executive power, not cravenly serve it. But in the US and Israel, that is now the case

US Marines allegedly urinating on dead Taliban soldiers bodies

A YouTube video still showing US marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. Photograph: Reuters

The US military announced on Monday that no criminal charges would be brought against the US marines in Afghanistan who videotaped themselves urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. Nor, the military announced, would any criminal charges be filed against the US troops who “tried to burn about 500 copies of the Qur’an as part of a badly bungled security sweep at an Afghan prison in February, despite repeated warnings from Afghan soldiers that they were making a colossal mistake”.

In doing so, the US militaryas usual, brushed aside demands of Afghan officials for legal accountability for the destructive acts of foreign soldiers in their country. The US instead imposed “disciplinary measures” in both cases, ones that “could include letters of reprimand, a reduction in rank, forfeit of some pay, physical restriction to a military base, extra duties or some combination of those measures”. Both incidents triggered intense protests and rioting that left dozens dead, back in February this year.

Parallel to that, an Israeli judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against the Israeli government brought by the family of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American student and pro-Palestinian activist who was killed by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested the demolition of a house in Gaza whose family she had come to befriend. Upon learning of the suit’s dismissal, Corrie’s mother, Cindy, said:

“I believe this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel.”

Despite Corrie’s wearing a bright orange vest, Judge Oded Gershon, in a 62-page decision, ruled that the bulldozer driver did not see her and her death was thus an accident. He went on to heap blame on Corrie for her own killing, arguing that, contrary to what “any reasonable person would have done”, she “chose to put herself in danger” by trying to impede “a military activity meant to prevent terrorist activity”.

The commonality in all three of these episodes is self-evident: the perversion of the justice system and rule of law as nothing more than a weapon to legitimize even the most destructive state actions, while severely punishing those who oppose them. The US and its loyal thinktank scholars have long demanded that other states maintain an “independent judiciary” as one of the key ingredients for living under the rule of law. But these latest episodes demonstrate, yet again, that the judiciary in the US, along with the one in its prime Middle East client state, is anything but “independent”: its primary function is to shield government actors from accountability.

The US military has continuously imposed pitifully light “punishments” on its soldiers even for the most heinous atrocities. The wanton slaughter of two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq and the severe and even lethal torture of Afghan detainees generated, at worst, shockingly short jail time for the killers and, usually, little more than letters of reprimand.

Contrast this tepid, reluctant wrist-slapping for the brutal crimes of occupying soldiers with what a UN investigation found was the US government’s “cruel and inhuman treatment” of Bradley Manning before he was convicted of anything. Manning has been imprisoned for more than two years now without having been found guilty of any crimes – already longer than any of the perpetrators of these fatal abuses in Iraqand Afghanistan. He faces life in prison at the age of 23 for the alleged “crime” of disclosing to the world overwhelming evidence of corruption, deceit and illegality on the part of the world’s most powerful factions: disclosures that helped thwart the Obama administration’s efforts to keep US troops in Iraq, and which, as even WikiLeaks‘ harshest criticsacknowledge, played some substantial role in helping to spark the Arab spring.

Notably, the first disclosure for which Manning was allegedly responsible – the videotape of an Apache helicopter gunning down unarmed Reuters journalists and then the rescuers who came to help the wounded, including two young children – resulted in zero accountability: the US military exonerated everyone involved. Instead, it is Manning, the person accused of exposing these crimes, who is punished as the real criminal.

And herein lies the real function of the American justice system, clearly revealed time and again. It is to protect high-level actors from accountability even for the most egregious of crimes, while severely punishing those who reveal or take a stand against those crimes, thus deterring and intimidating any future opposition.

That is the mentality that has led the Obama department of justice to aggressively shield all Bush officials from any and all accountability for their torture and surveillance crimes, while launching an unprecedented persecution campaign against whistleblowers. As always in US justice, the “real” criminals are those who alert the world to high-level crimes, not those who commit them. That is why the only person to suffer any repercussions from the Bush NSA eavesdropping scandal was Thomas Tamm: the mid-level DOJ lawyer who learned of the illegal program and alerted the New York Times about it. Those who authorized those crimes have been fully shielded from any form of punishment.

It is this same mentality that has led the US federal judiciary to produce the most disgraceful political fact of the last decade. Not a single victim of America’s “war on terror” abuses – even those now acknowledged by the US government to have been completely innocent – have been allowed even to have their cases heard in an American court on the merits. They’ve all had the courthouse doors slammed shut in the facesby courts that have accepted the US government’s claims that its own secrecy powers and immunity rights bar any such justice. Crimes committed by the state or in advancement of its agenda are simply immune from the rule of law in the US.

The same exploitation of the justice system is glaringly evident in the Rachel Corrie travesty. As the Guardian’s former Israel (and now Washington) correspondent Chris McGreal writes, the dismissal of this suit is simply a by-product of the “virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances”. That’s because Israeli courts, like American courts, have submissively accepted the supreme fiction of both governments: anyone impeding government actions is a terrorist or terrorist-enabler who gets what they deserve, while the actions of the state, no matter how savage, can never be anything other than legitimate.

Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said after the verdict that Israel “employed a ‘well-heeled system’ to protect its soldiers and provide them with immunity”. Indeed, the Israeli “investigation” into Corrie’s death has been such a laughable whitewash that even the US ambassador to Israel last week told the Corrie family that he “did not believe the Israeli military investigation had been ‘thorough, credible and transparent’, as had been promised by Israel.” All of this, writes McGreal, shows how “covering up the truth about the killings of innocents, including Corrie, became an important part of the survival strategy because of the damage the truth could do to the military’s standing, not only in the rest of the world but also among Israelis.”

As I noted on Sunday, it is expected, inevitable, that those who wield political power will abuse it for corrupt and self-serving ends. That is why there are institutions designed to check and combat that abuse. The rule of law, and an independent judiciary applying it, is ostensibly one of those institutions. But – like establishment media outlets and most academics – this justice system now does the opposite: it is merely another weapon used to legitimize crimes by the powerful and crush those who oppose them.

All three of this week’s travesties, in the US and in Israel, are hardly surprising. To the contrary, they are the inevitable by-products of societies that recruit every institution in service of defending even the most wanton abuses by the state.

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August 27, 2012

EDITOR: The Silent war

While in Israel and the US the war drums are sounding, the EU and the rest of the west seem blind or disinterested – the coming war seems to be invisible in these countries. It is of course this very attitude of denial which enables the Israeli aggression and makes it more likely. By treating this as an ‘Israeli’ business, Europe aids and abets the atrocities to come. The Iranian attempts to drum up support in the non-aligned nations will of course never stop the planned Israeli strike!

Iran calls upon non-aligned nations to support its nuclear program: Haaretz

At Tehran conference, official says Syria expresses supports for Iranian-brokered peace plan.

By DPA | Aug.27, 2012 | 10:55 AM |  2

Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran

An expert-level meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, takes place in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.Photo by AP

Members of the Non-Aligned Movement states continue to support Iran in its attempt to develop a nuclear program and stand behind Iran in ongoing negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Iranian government said Monday.

“The support of NAM members (for) Iran’s peaceful nuclear program could be a springboard for reflecting and supporting the Iranian standpoints at the IAEA,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said, in comments reported by the Fars news agency.

He said NAM members at the IAEA had in 2003 opposed the forwarding of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council.
Despite those objections, the UN Security Council has, in the meantime, issued five resolutions against the Islamic state over its uncompromising stance in the nuclear dispute, including financial sanctions.

Salehi on Sunday called on summit attendees to reject the international sanctions and confront the Security Council for imposing them. Security Council members insist the sanctions are necessary, out of fears that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear weapon.

Also on Monday, an Iranian lawmaker was quoted as saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad has given his support to Iran’s effort on to come up with a new peace plan for Syria, an Iranian lawmaker was quoted as saying Monday.
“We have consulted with the Syrian president how Iran’s efforts could be realized at the NAM summit,” Alaeddin Boroujerdi was quoted by the ISNA news agency.

EDITOR: Israeli lies fail to persuade anyone

Rachel Corrie death: struggle for justice culminates in Israeli court: Guardian

Nine years after she was killed protesting in the Gaza Strip, the verdict in a lawsuit brought by her family is about to be heard

 

American Peace Activist Killed By Israeli Bulldozer

Rachel Corrie in an interview with Saudi Arabian television on 14 March 2003, two days before she was killed. Photograph: Lorenzo Scaraggi/Getty Images

Her blonde hair, megaphone and orange fluorescent jacket with reflective stripes made 23-year-old Rachel Corrie easily identifiable as an international activist on the overcast spring afternoon in 2003 when she tried to stop an advancing Israeli military bulldozer.

The young American’s intention was to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Rafah refugee camp, close to the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Scores of homes had already been crushed; Corrie was one of eight American and British volunteers acting as human shields for local families.

“She was standing on top of a pile of earth,” said fellow activist and eyewitness Richard Purssell, from Brighton, at the time. “The driver cannot have failed to see her. As the blade pushed the pile, the earth rose up. Rachel slid down the pile. It looks as if her foot got caught. The driver didn’t slow down; he just ran over her. Then he reversed the bulldozer back over her again.”

The question of whether the driver of the Caterpillar D9R bulldozer saw the young woman in the orange jacket, and drove deliberately at and over her, has been at the centre of the Corrie family’s decade-long battle for accountability and justice.

On Tuesday that struggle is set to culminate when an Israeli court gives its verdict in a civil lawsuit that the family have brought against the state of Israel.

An Israeli Defence Forces investigation has already found that its forces were not to blame and that the bulldozer driver had not seen the activist. No charges were brought and the case was closed. The IDF report concluded: “Rachel Corrie was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved.” Corrie and other International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists were accused by the investigators of “illegal, irresponsible and dangerous” behaviour.

But witness accounts gathered in Rafah in the aftermath of Corrie’s death on 16 March 2003 suggest little doubt as to what happened. According to Tom Dale, from Lichfield in Staffordshire: “the bulldozer went towards her very slowly, she was fully in clear view, straight in front of them”.

Corrie tried to scramble on top of the earth being pushed into a mound by the bulldozer blades. “Unfortunately she couldn’t keep her grip there and she started to slip down. You could see she was in serious trouble, there was panic in her face as she was turning around. All the activists there were screaming, running towards the bulldozer, trying to get them to stop. But they just kept on going,” Dale said. The incident lasted around six or seven seconds.

Corrie was taken by a Red Crescent ambulance to the Najar hospital, arriving at the emergency room at 5.05pm. She was still alive – just. At 5.20pm she was declared dead. It was, the Israeli military said later that day, a “very regrettable accident”.

Rachel Corrie had arrived in the Holy Land on January 22, a young woman brimming with idealism, anger at injustice, and a determination to make a difference, however small.

She had volunteered for the ISM, an organisation of pro-Palestinian activists who engage in direct action against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

After two days of training workshops, Corrie headed for Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. In early 2003, Israeli troops, tanks and armoured vehicles were a daily presence in Rafah and other cities. Snipers were stationed in watchtowers; helicopters and military planes buzzed in the skies.

The second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, had begun more than two years before, and suicide bombers were being regularly despatched from Gaza and the West Bank to cause death and destruction in Israel.

Death and destruction was also a feature of life in Gaza. Corrie was shocked by what she saw. “No amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just cannot imagine it unless you see it,” she wrote in one of her many emails to family and friends at home in Olympia, Washington state, on 7 February.

Three weeks later, she told her mother, Cindy, in an email: “I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it’s a good idea for all of us to drop everything and devote our lives to making it stop… Disbelief and horror is what I feel.”

Corrie and other ISM activists in Rafah were mainly engaged in trying to obstruct house demolitions being carried out by the IDF, which said the targeted homes were suspected of sheltering militants or concealing the entrances to tunnels dug under the border with Egypt to facilitate the smuggling of weapons and explosives. The activists said the demolitions were collective punishment for the actions of a minority of militants.

The presence of international activists was a nuisance for the IDF, but the military was not to be deterred. “During war there are no civilians,” an IDF training officer later told Haifa district court during a hearing into the Corrie family’s civil lawsuit, implying that militants, Palestinian civilians and international activists were all legitimate targets.

A Israeli military spokesman described ISM activists as “a group of protesters who were acting very irresponsibly, putting everyone in danger — the Palestinians, themselves and our forces — by intentionally placing themselves in a combat zone.”

But Corrie’s death caused an outcry far greater than that of any Palestinian. According to the Observer, nine Palestinians, including a girl, 4, and 90-year-old man, were killed on the same day. But inevitably the death of young American woman made headlines around the world and caused serious diplomatic reverberations.

The next day, Israel’s then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, promised US president George W Bush that Israel would conduct a “thorough, credible and transparent” investigation into the incident.

Corrie’s body was taken by the Israeli authorities to the National Centre of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv, where an autopsy was conducted. No report was published but, according to Human Rights Watch, the conclusion was that death was caused by “pressure on the chest … with fractures of the ribs and vertebrae … and tear wounds in the right lung with haemorrhaging of the pleural cavities”.

The Corrie family was not satisfied with the IDF report. Seven years after their daughter’s death, in March 2010, they launched a civil case against the state of Israel, accusing its military of either unlawfully or intentionally killing Corrie or of gross negligence. It was, said the family, “absolutely our last resort”.

Sporadic hearings dragged on for 18 months. The court heard testimony from four ISM activists who witnessed the incident, but a Gaza doctor who examined Corrie’s wounds was refused an entry permit to Israel to give evidence.

The driver of the bulldozer, whose identity has not been made public, testified from behind a screen for “security reasons”. He repeatedly insisted that the first time he saw the activist was when she was already dying: “I didn’t see her before the incident. I saw people pulling the body out from under the earth.”

When the hearings ended in July last year, Corrie’s mother Cindy said the family was “at this moment in much the same place as we were when they began – up against a wall of Israeli officials determined to protect the state at all costs, including at the expense of truth.”

Last week, back in Israel for the verdict in the civil lawsuit, Cindy told the Guardian the ruling would be “a milestone” in the family’s long battle for justice and accountability. “The lawsuit is only one part of what we’ve done. There has still been no ‘thorough, credible and transparent’ investigation into Rachel’s death. Whatever happens, this is not the end.”

EDITOR: The Guardian veering right in an attempt to garner US readership comes unstuck…

The saga surrounding Joshua Treviño is an incredible object lesson to the opportunists at the Guardian, who are trying to build up US readership by employing right wing hacks of the worst kind. This specific attempt has gone haywire, as it also seems that the Guardian did not do a proper check on its new acquisition… as a result, they had to climb down in an unedifying fashion, abandoning their newly-discovered talent… it won’t stop them from trying again, though. Their chosen voice of freedom in the US was not just an ardent Zionist, supporting the murdering of people on the Flotilla in 2010, but an aggressive right-winger all round, not the typical candidate for a Guardian contract? But there again, the Guardian is changing, looking for new and exciting voices. Rush Limbaugh, maybe?

The readers’ editor on… the bruising fallout from a writer’s offensive tweet: Guardian

The Guardian has received almost 200 complaints regarding Joshua Treviño, whose freelance contract has now been ended by mutual agreement

Joshua Treviño is an unashamed American rightwing and Republican polemicist whose role as a commentator for the Guardian US websitewas announced on 15 August 2012. Nine days later, in a joint statement by Treviño and the Guardian, it was announced that his freelance contract had been ended by mutual agreement.

Between those two dates there was an extremely powerful campaign on the web attacking his role, which, as a former speech writer for the George W Bush administration, was envisaged by the Guardian as someone who would give insight into the Republican campaign.

The attacks were led chiefly by the Electronic Intifada website and heavily supported by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and its members. The Guardian readers’ editor’s office had received almost 200 complaints by the end of last week. In the first 24 hours the complaints turned on a tweet posted by Treviño on 25 June 2011: “Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.” This was seen by the complainants as an incitement to shoot Americans taking part in a flotilla of boats that planned to break the blockade of Gaza in 2011. An attempt in 2010 to break the blockade ended with the interception of the boats by the Israelis and the deaths of nine protesters.

While the remit of the Guardian’s readers’ editor is wide ranging, I did not feel that a tweet from a private account before he was contracted to the Guardian fell within it.

However, as a result of the first flush of complaints, Treviño wrote a blogpost for the Guardian’s US site on 16 August, which he described as a clarification. In it he recognised that this particular tweet might lead people to believe he was inciting the IDF to shoot Americans but he strongly denied this – three times – in the article. He wrote: “I urged no such thing. I intended no such thing. But sufficient numbers believe I did, and in cases of widespread misapprehension of meaning, the fault always lies with the writer.” He also apologised for giving “the impression that I welcome killing”.

This triggered a further complaint from Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, that this latest Treviño article was inaccurate because there was ample evidence from other tweets to show that Treviño did mean to encourage the shooting of Americans in that flotilla. As this complaint relates to a current piece of journalism on the Guardian website, this falls within the readers’ editor’s remit.

I have reviewed Abunimah’s complaint. While I think it likely that a reasonable person might well believe this was the intent of the tweet, I don’t think it is possible to make an objective finding of inaccuracy about his denial. The tweet states clearly that he would be “cool” ie relaxed about them being shot. In the article he denies absolutely that he meant this to be taken as an encouragement to the IDF to kill Americans. I believe the complaint would require a judgment on Treviño’s sincerity: a matter of opinion, not a decision based on factual accuracy.

There was a second complaint on Thursday 23 August received by senior editorial staff in the US and referred to the readers’ editor. This concerns another blogpost Treviño had written as a contributor to the Guardian’s US site – before he was on contract – on 28 February 2011 about a Republican congressman’s inquiry into Islamic radicalisation, which quoted the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

Until shortly before this blogpost, the author had been a consultant for an agency retained by Malaysian business interests and ran a website called Malaysia Matters, which should have led to a footnote disclosing the relationship. Failure to declare a potential conflict of interest is a breach of the Guardian’s editorial code. This relationship will now be footnoted on the blogpost and, as the article was not in print, a correction included in the Guardian’s online corrections and clarifications. A Guardian spokesperson said that following this disclosure, both Treviño and the Guardian agreed to end the contract.

This has been a bruising 10 days for the Guardian that could have been handled better. Some of the issues were already in the public domain and could have been addressed earlier.

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Guardian US, said: “We didn’t know about the tweet. Trevino has a combative and prolific Twitter presence – there are something like 81,000 tweets. When it was drawn to our attention, we too were horrified and asked for an explanation. He assured us that it was a casual and horrendous use of language on social media.

“Sharing that explanation with our readers, while never going to change anyone’s mind, was the most open way, we felt, of acknowledging what was a reprehensible tweet and allowing us to focus on what we had engaged him to do, which was, on the eve of the Republican convention and in the middle of an already vicious and highly partisan election campaign, explain and analyse the politics of the US Republican party.

“This has been an eye-opening week. We knew that there are dangers inherent in attempting to be fair minded and allow our opponents as well as our friends a voice and we have learned several lessons. But I hope we will continue to try and find ways to engage with honestly held philosophies and opinions.”

“Phantom Control”: Israel’s Secret Service and the Occupation: RealNewsNewtwork

Yael Berda’s new book The Bureaucracy of Occupation sheds light on Israel’s more invisible control over the Palestinians

Precis
In recent years Israel’s control over the Palestinian people in the occupied territories has changed. While the presence of the Israeli army has been greatly reduced, the occupation has taken a more invisible form. In her new book The Bureaucracy of Occupation, attorney Yael Berda sheds light on how the Israeli secret service (the Shabak) exploits every point of contact with Palestinians, especially the imposed permit system, to recruit informants to further its control over the population. Activist Anan Quzmar of Birzeit University’s Rights to Education campaign tells The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky how this form of “phantom control” makes political involvement and activism nearly impossible.

EDITOR: From the Horse’s Mouth…

Every now and then, one of the people involves in the criminal occupation and its iniquities discovers his humanity and speaks up, revealing what Israel is trying so hard to cover up.

Former Israeli soldiers disclose routine mistreatment of Palestinian children: Guardian

Booklet of testimonies of former Israeli soldiers describes beatings, intimidation and humiliation of children

Israeli veteran reflects on everyday abuse of Palestinians – video Link to this video

Live URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/aug/25/breaking-silence-israeli-abuse-palestinians-video

More than 30 former Israeli soldiers have disclosed their experiences of the treatment of Palestinian children during military operations and arrests, pointing to a pattern of abuse.

A booklet of testimonies, published by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former Israeli soldiers dedicated to publicising the day-to-day actions of the army in the occupied territories, contains descriptions of beatings, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse, night-time arrests and injury. Most of the children had been suspected of stone-throwing.

The witness statements were gathered to show the “common reality” of acts of violence by soldiers towards Palestinians, including children, in the West Bank, said Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence. “Sadly enough this is the moral consequence of prolonged occupation of the Palestinian people,” he said.

One former soldier describes serving in Hebron in 2010: “You never know their names, you never talk with them, they always cry, shit in their pants … There are those annoying moments when you’re on an arrest mission, and there’s no room in the police station, so you just take the kid back with you, blindfold him, put him in a room and wait for the police to come and pick him up in the morning. He sits there like a dog …”

Children frequently soiled themselves, according to the testimonies. “I remember hearing him shitting his pants … I also remember some other time when someone pissed in his pants. I just became so indifferent to it, I couldn’t care less. I heard him do it, I witnessed his embarrassment. I also smelled it. But I didn’t care,” said another.

Another soldier describes an incident in Qalqiliya in 2007 in which a boy was arrested for throwing stones. “At the end of the day, something has to make these kids stop throwing stones on the road because they can kill,” he said.

“That specific kid who actually lay there on the ground, begging for his life, was actually nine years oldI mean, a kid has to beg for his life? A loaded gun is pointed at him and he has to plead for mercy? This is something that scars him for life. But I think if we hadn’t entered the village at that point, then stones would be thrown the next day and perhaps the next time someone would be wounded or killed as a result.”

Some of the statements illustrate the disjunction between the Israeli military and Palestinians. One soldier said: “You put up a checkpoint out of boredom, sit there for a few hours and then continue on. Once I saw kids passing, and one of the guys, a reservist who spoke Arabic, wanted to ask them what they study. He didn’t mean it in any bad way. Then I saw how the kid nearly peed his pants as the guy tried to kid with him, how the two worlds are simply disconnected. The guy was kidding and the kid was scared to death.”

Most of the soldiers have given testimonies anonymously. One, who spoke to the Guardian, said he had been given no guidance during his training for military service on how to deal with minors. He said children were sometimes arrested and interrogated, not because they were suspected of an offence, but to try to elicit information about older family members or neighbours.

He had given a witness statement to Breaking the Silence because “I thought that people who don’t see this on an everyday basis should know what’s going on.” He said many Israelis were unwilling to acknowledge the reality of the military occupation in the West Bank. “It’s very easy [for the Israeli public] to be completely detached. It’s a hard thing to handle – stuff like that being done in your name.”

According to Gerard Horton of Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI) the testimonies confirm a pattern of behaviour uncovered by his organisation’s research into the treatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli security forces.

DCI and other human rights organisations say Palestinian children are routinely arrested at night, handcuffed, blindfolded, mistreated and denied access to their parents or a lawyer.

“For years credible reports of human rights abuses against children living under Israeli military occupation have emerged,” he said. “These latest testimonies from young soldiers given the task of enforcing the occupation provide further evidence of its deeply corrosive effects on all. The testimonies lay bare the day-to-day reality of the occupation. These are not isolated incidents or a question of ‘a few bad apples’. This is the natural and foreseeable consequence of government policy.”

A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces said that Breaking the Silence had declined to provide the IDF with testimonies ahead of publication so they could be verified and investigated.

He said its true intention was “to generate negative publicity regarding the IDF and its soldiers. The IDF has in the past, and continues to, call upon the organisation to immediately convey complaints or suspicions of improper conduct to the relevant authorities. In line with the IDF’s ethical commitments, any such incidents will be thoroughly investigated.”

Pro-Palestinians prepare new mission for Palestinian children: PressTV

Mon Aug 20, 2012

Over 100 Pro-Palestinians in Europe and North America are organizing a fresh trip to Palestine in order to deliver stationery to the children of Palestine. This time, their mission is based on an official invitation from the Palestine Authority.

These pro-Palestinian French are ready to return to meet Palestinians on their soil.

This time, it is upon the official invitation of the Palestinian Authority who has requested safe passage to the French Foreign Minister for the French visitors.

In the past, Western visitors to Palestine were refused entry. Their names were blacklisted and they were not allowed boarding by airlines. Israeli authorities stated they were hooligans. But the organizers say they think otherwise.

This time the organizers say that beyond their right to visit their Palestinian friends, they are also accomplishing a second goal, which is, the right of Palestinian children to education.

Books, pencils, notebooks and other stationary are being collected. Palestinian children have suffered a severe shortage of essential items due to the long running Israeli blockade.

Organizers say, despite the odds, they are determined to reach Palestine.

MONDAY 27 AUGUST 2012

An influential Israeli Rabbi has called for prayers for Iran’s destruction, a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to court his support for a possible attack on a nuclear programme Israel sees as an existential threat.

The sermon by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef added to a flurry of recent rhetoric from Israeli officials that has raised international concern that Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s only atomic power, might attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. “[When] we ask God to ‘bring an end to our enemies’, we should be thinking about Iran, those evil ones who threaten Israel. May the Lord destroy them,” Yosef was quoted as saying by Israeli media yesterday.

Last week, Mr Netanyahu sent his national security adviser to brief the 91-year-old Rabbi on Iran’s nuclear activities in what was widely seen as an effort to win his backing for any future military strike, possibly before the US presidential vote in November.

The Rabbi is the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, a key member of Mr Netanyahu’s governing coalition. Mr Netanyahu is frustrated that Western diplomacy to try to force Iran to rein in its programme has been fruitless. He said that Iran, whose leaders have threatened Israel’s destruction, had made “accelerated progress towards achieving nuclear weapons”.

Rabbi Yosef issued his call in a sermon on Saturday in which he said Iran should be included in a traditional Jewish New Year blessing next month in which God is asked to strike down Israel’s enemies.

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August 18, 2012

EDITOR: The war won’t hurt, really…

Below are the Israelis trying persuade everyone that actually, we won’t feel a thing, and the war will be over before it started! Sounds exactly like the twenty years they spent in Lebanon, the almost fifty years of the occupation in Palestine, and two wars which were over very quickly – Iraq and Afghanistan. For war mongers, wars are the easiest thing to start, and then they leave it for the politicians to end them. What is worrying, is the seemingly logical and quiet arguments used to start the destruction of untold horror. The west never learns, and in the process, destroys country after country. That this is not an issue for large demonstrations in Europe and the US isa mark of Cain that shall brand these societies, as they have bought into Israeli logic, led by the US.

Sounds like Israeli president, Shimon Peres, the man who started more wars than anybody dead or alive in the Middle East, is himself worried about the Israeli government plans… but they will no doubt shut him up, as the report below suggests!

Israeli could attack Iran without causing a major war in the region: Guardian CoF

While it is likely Israel will attack Iran in the near future, it is not in either party’s interest to allow retaliation to escalate

 

Barack Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu

‘It is now clear that Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu disagree on Iran.’ Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Over the last few days, Israeli newspapers have been consumed by reports that the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has decided to launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities some time this autumn. Although Netanyahu has an obvious interest in increasing pressure on Iran, it would be an error to regard these reports as simple rhetorical sensationalism. In my opinion, whether this year or next, Israel is likely to use its airforce to attack Iran.

While it is impossible to know for sure whether Netanyahu will act, it is possible to consider the likely repercussions that would follow an Israeli attack. While it is likely that Iran would retaliate against Israel and possibly the US in response to any attack, it is unlikely that Iran will instigate a major war. Albeit for different reasons, Iran, Israel and the US all understand that a war would not serve their interests.

First, the Israeli policy angle. If Netanyahu decides to order an attack on Iran, his focus will be on maximising the success of that action and minimising any negative consequences that might follow. In terms of Iranian retaliation, Israel would expect Iran’s core non-state allies Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah to launch rocket attacks into Israeli territory.

However, present success with advanced defence systems has helped increase Israeli confidence in their ability to absorb this method of retaliation. Beyond rocket attacks, the Israeli leadership also understands that a likely mechanism for Iranian retaliation is via attacks against Israeli interests internationally. Whether carried out by the Iranian Quds Force or Hezbollah, or a combination of both, various incidents this year have shown Israel that Iran continues to regard covert action as a powerful weapon.

The key for Israel is that, while these Iranian capabilities are seen as credible, they are not seen to pose intolerable threats to Israel. Faced with rocket strikes or limited attacks abroad – to which the likely response would be air strikes or short-duration ground operations (not a repeat of 2006) in Lebanon and Gaza – Israel would be unlikely to pursue major secondary retaliation against Iran. Certainly, Israel would not want to encourage intervention by Syria’s Assad alongside Iran (an outcome that might follow major retaliatory Israeli action).

If Netanyahu does decide to take action, Israeli objectives would be clearly limited. The intent would be to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability while minimising escalation towards war. Israel has no interest in a major conflict that would risk serious damage to the Israeli state.

Though holding opposite objectives, Iran’s attitude concerning a major war is similar to Israel’s.

While Iran regards nuclear capability as prospectively guaranteeing the survival of its Islamic revolution, clerical leaders also understand that initiating a major war would make American intervention likely. Such intervention would pose an existential threat to the theocratic project that underpins the Islamic Republic.

Thus, in the event of an Israeli attack, Iran’s response would be finely calibrated towards achieving three objectives:

• First, punishing Israel for its attack.

• Second, deterring further Israeli strikes and so creating space for a reconstituted Iranian nuclear programme.

• Finally, weakening US/international support for Israel so as to increase Israeli isolation and vulnerability.

Hezbollah, Hamas and other non-state allies would play a major role in effecting Iranian retaliation. Iran may also attempt to launch a number of its new Sajjil-2 medium-range missiles against Israel. Again, however, using these missiles would risk major retaliation if many Israeli citizens were killed.

As a preference, Iran would probably perceive that utilising Hamas and Hezbollah would allow retaliation without forcing Netanyahu into a massive counter-response. Crucially, I believe Iran regards that balancing its response would enable it to buy time for a reconstituted, hardened nuclear programme. In contrast to the relatively open current structure, sites would be deeper underground and far less vulnerable to a future attack. The nuclear ambition would not be lost, simply delayed.

As a final objective for retaliation, Iran would wish to weaken Israel’s relationship with the US and the international community. This desire might encourage Iran to take action against US navy assets in the Gulf and/or attempt to mine the Strait of Hormuz, so as to cause a price spike in global oil markets and increased international discomfort.

However, beyond their rhetoric, the Iranian leadership understand that they cannot win a military contest against the US, nor hold the strait for longer than a few days. For Iran then, as with Israel, regional war is far from desirable.

Finally, consider the US. It is now clear that Obama and Netanyahu disagree on Iran. In my opinion, Netanyahu does not believe Obama will ever be willing to take pre-emptive military action against Iran’s nuclear programme. Conversely, Obama believes Netanyahu’s diplomatic expectations are too hasty and excessively restrictive.

The policy distance between these two leaders appears increasingly irreconcilable. If Netanyahu decides to go it alone and attack Iran, the US president will face the unpleasant scenario of having to protect American interests while avoiding an escalation dynamic that might spin out of control towards war. This difficulty is accentuated by Obama’s re-election race and his fear of the domestic economic fallout that may come from the decisions that he might have to make. Again, the simple point is that the US government has no interest in a war with Iran.

If Netanyahu decides to take military action, he will do so in a strategic environment in which Israel, Iran and the US have no preference for a major war. Each state views the prospect of a war as counter to their particular long-term ambitions.

Because of this, while serious, Iranian retaliation would be unlikely to produce an escalatory dynamic leading to war. The leadership of each of these states will restrain their respective actions in the pursuit of differing long-term objectives but common short-term ones.

U.S. administration official: Israeli leaks are damaging efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program: Haaretz

Former chief of Israeli intelligence Amos Yadlin writes in the Washington Post that Obama must visit Jerusalem and convince the Knesset and the Israeli public that the U.S. is committed to preventing the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon.

By Barak Ravid  Aug.18, 2012

An Iranian woman with an effigy of Netanyahu

An Iranian woman points at an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tehran on August 17, 2012.Photo by AFP
Alon Ron

U.S. officials say Israeli leaders are sincere about the need to act quickly on Iran, but they do not think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made the decision to strike. Rather, the Israeli leader is trying to pressure the United States. “They are deadly serious, as is the president, about the need to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” a senior U.S. official told the Washington Post. “But there has been far too much talking — background leaks and fabrications — that hurt the cause.”

On Saturday, Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence,called in a Washington Post article for President Barack Obama to visit Jerusalem in order to convey to the Israeli public that he is committed to halting Iran’s nuclear program, including with military means.

“This message,” he added, “delivered by the president of the United States to the Israeli Knesset, would be far more effective than U.S. officials’ attempts to convey the same sentiment behind closed doors.”

Yadlin, who today heads Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, still maintains ties with Netanyahu and his advisers, as well as with top security officials. His Saturday article echoes the words of newly-appointed Home Front Defense Minister Uzi Dayan in the New York Times on Thursday. Dayan, who spoke to the Times after meeting with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, claimed that if Obama will publically expresses a commitment to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, Israel may shelf its attack plans for a few more months.

In his article, titled “For peace with Iran, prepare for war,” Yadlin wrote that Israel will decide and act on its own regarding the Iranian issue on an attack on Iran. He stressed, however, that “what Israeli leaders may not fully grasp is that while they can attack alone, Israel will need the United States both the day after and the decade after a strike to ensure that Iran does not reconstitute its program.” He added that “disregarding U.S. requests to delay would not encourage such support.”

Yadlin went on to say that the only way Obama can convince the Israeli leadership to delay a military attack on Iran is to persuade Israel, the Gulf states and Iran itself that “a U.S. military option is credible and effective.”

According to Yadlin, Obama must visit Israel and tell its leadership and public that preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb is a U.S. interest, and that if military action is necessary – it will be taken. “This message,” he writes, “delivered by the president of the United States to the Israeli Knesset, would be far more effective than U.S. officials’ attempts to convey the same sentiment behind closed doors.”

With a growing sense in the West that Israel is seriously considering an attack in the coming weeks, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is scheduled to speak with secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, who headed the Iranian delegation at the talks with the six power.

Three rounds of talks between Iran and the Western powers ended in a deadlock. Blogger Laura Rozen wrote in the Al-Monitor website that Ashton, who represents the six powers in talks with Iran, is expected to meet with senior diplomats from the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany in the coming days in Brussels, in order to update them on her talks with Jalili.

Binyamin Netanyahu’s aide launches stinging rebuke to Israeli president: Guardian

Prime minister’s office says Shimon Peres should not speak out on Iran as he is too prone to mistakes

Israeli president Shimon Peres

Israeli president Shimon Peres has been told not to step out of his role. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The faultlines among Israel‘s leaders over whether to take unilateral military action against Iran‘s nuclear capability have deepened, with a prime ministerial aide launching a stinging public rebuke to President Shimon Peres after he said that the country should not act alone.

“Shimon Peres forgets what the role of the president of Israel is,” an official from Binyamin Netanyahu‘s office was quoted in the Israeli media as saying.

The row – a stark example of the sharp disagreements at the heart of Israel’s political, military and intelligence establishment over the issue – came as Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Israel’s existence was “an insult to all humanity“.

In a speech to mark al-Quds Day on the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Ahmadinejad told a rally in Tehran that “the Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour” and warned against “one cell of them [being] left in one inch of [Palestinian] land in the future”.

He added: “The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land … A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists.”

The Iranian president has traditionally used al-Quds Day, on which rallies in support of the Palestinian people are held in many Muslim countries, to deliver invective against Israel.

His words will inevitably be used to bolster arguments in favour of military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Speculation has intensified recently that Netanyahu and defence minister Ehud Barak are considering launching action this autumn, before the US presidential election.

In an interview on Israeli television, Peres said: “It is clear to us we cannot do it on our own. We can only delay [Iran’s progress]. Thus it’s clear to us that we need to go together with America. There are questions of co-operation and timetables, but as severe as the danger is, at least this time we’re not alone.”

He said he was confident that the US would take action, but added: “My estimate is that they will not do this before the elections, which are more than 80 days away.”

Following the remarks, Netanyahu’s office openly attacked the president’s judgment, suggesting three previous occasions when it had been wrong. The first, according to an aide quoted in the Israeli media, was after the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, when Peres “thought there would be a new Middle East”. The second was following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 when “he thought there would be peace … but in reality we got missiles”.

The aide continued: “But Peres’s biggest mistake was in 1981 when he opposed [Israel’s] bombing of the Iraqi reactor. Luckily, prime minister Menachem Begin ignored him.”

Peres later stood by his comments, saying: “I say what is in my heart with a loud and clear voice.”

The president’s views echoed those of many former and current military, intelligence and political figures in Israel. US officials have also made repeated efforts to dissuade Netanyahu and Barak from unilateral action.

Earlier this week, the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Martin Dempsey, said that Israel did not have the capacity to eliminate Iran’s nuclear programme. “I may not know about all of their capabilities. But I think it’s a fair characterisation to say that they could delay but not destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities,” he told reporters.

Some observers believe that the current frenzied speculation about a possible Israeli strike this autumn is aimed at forcing an unequivocal public statement in the coming weeks from President Barack Obama on America’s willingness to take military action against Iran, should diplomacy and sanctions fail.

According to an opinion poll by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, 60% of Israeli Jews are against a strike on Iran without US co-operation. Eleven per cent strongly support unilateral action by Israel.

Petition calls for IDF combat pilots to refuse Iran attack orders: Haaretz

15 AUGUST 2012

By Tomer Zarchin and Dan Even, Haaretz – 16 Aug 2012

More than 400 Israelis, including Tel Aviv University law professors Menachem Mautner and Chaim Gans, have recently signed an online petition calling on Israel Defense Forces pilots to refuse to obey if ordered to bomb Iran.

The petition calls a decision to launch a strike against Iran a “highly mistaken gamble” that would only delay Iran’s nuclear program, without stopping it, and would come “at an exorbitant price.”

You have the option of saying “No,” the petition addressed to the pilots reads. “Certainly, this is not a simple option. It involves profound professional and moral dilemmas, and carries the risk of losing a career which is important to you and also the possibility of being prosecuted. Nevertheless, it is your duty to consider most carefully and seriously the possibility that by saying the little word ‘No,’ you will be rendering an important and vital service to the State of Israel and all who live here. This service would be infinitely more important than blind obedience to this particular order.”

The petition cautioned that in the event an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities caused the dispersal of radioactive materials among civilian populations “Israel as a country, as well as those carrying out the bombing might be charged with war crimes.”

Mautner said that he thought the petition should be addressed to the government rather than the pilots, but added that he signed it because sometimes, “One is asked to sign a petition whose intentions and main points you agree with, but not its entirety and not its wording.”

He also said that according to his understanding of the law of war, “There is no legal problem with striking Iran.” But Mautner said he agreed with many of the points made in the petition, especially with regard to the possibility of “very serious and far-reaching consequences” for Israel if it attacks Iran without U.S. cooperation.

Gans, in contrast to his colleague, believes an order to strike Iran without first having exhausted all other options to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons would be illegal and unjustified. “It is clear that the consequences of such a war would be destructive in every possible way,” Gans said.

Vardit Shalfi, who was one of the main figures behind the performers’ petition in 2010 against appearing in Ariel, and Ofer Neiman, a left-wing activist and an editor of the online magazine The Occupation, initiated the petition.

Shalfi said that while there are many campaigns against war with Iran, “none of them appealed to the executive level, the pilots.”

Meanwhile, members of the board of directors of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, including senior doctors in Israel’s health establishment, have sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak in which they expressed their fears about the consequences of a potential Israeli attack on Iran.

“If we liken the state to a ship, you are the captains gripping the wheel of power who are heading this ship and its passengers into an enormous iceberg,” the physicians’ letter said.

In suspected Jerusalem lynch, dozens of Jewish youths attack 3 Palestinians: Haaretz

One of the Palestinians was seriously wounded and hospitalized in intensive care; eyewitness: Today I saw a lynch with my own eyes.
By Nir Hasson     Aug.17, 2012

 

Jerusalem’s Zion Square. Photo by Emil Salman

Dozens of Jewish youths attacked three young Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Zion Square early on Friday morning, in what one witness described as “a lynch” on Facebook.

One of the Palestinians was seriously wounded and hospitalized in intensive care in Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem. Acting Jerusalem police chief General Menachem Yitzhaki has set up a special team to investigate the incident and detain the suspects.

The three were allegedly attacked by youths shouting “Death to the Arabs” at them, as well as other racial slurs. One of them fell on the floor, and his attackers continued to beat him until he lost consciousness. They subsequently fled from the scene.

Within a short period of time rescue volunteers and Magen David Adom rescue services arrived on the scene and found the victim with no pulse and not breathing. After a lengthy resuscitation attempt, he was transferred to the hospital.

Writing on her Facebook page, one eye witness decribed the attack as a lynch: “It’s late at night, and I can’t sleep. My eyes are full of tears for a good few hours now and my stomach is turning inside out with the question of the loss of humanity, the image of God in mankind, a loss that I am not willing to accept.”

“But today I saw a lynch with my own eyes, in Zion Square, the center of the city of Jerusalem ….. and shouts of ‘A Jew is a soul and Arab is a son of a –,’ were shouted loudly and dozens (!!) of youths ran and gathered and started to really beat to death three Arab youths who were walking quietly in the Ben Yehuda street,” the witness wrote.

“When one of the Palestinian youths fell to the floor, the youths continued to hit him in the head, he lost consciousness, his eyes rolled, his angled head twitched, and then those who were kicking him fled and the rest gathered in a circle around, with some still shouting with hate in their eyes.”

“When two volunteers [from local charities] went into the circle, they tried to perform CPR and the mass of youths standing around started to say resentfully that we are resuscitating an Arab, and when they passed near us and saw that the rest of the volunteers were shocked, they asked why we were so in shock, he is an Arab. When we returned to the area after some time had passed, and the site was marked as a murder scene, and police were there with the cousin of the victim who tried to reenact what happened, two youths stood there who did not understand why we wanted to give a bottle of water to the cousin of the victim who was transferred to hospital in critical condition, he is an Arab, and they don’t need to walk around in the center of the city, and they deserve it, because this way they will finally be afraid,” she added.

“Children aged 15-18 are killing a child their own age with their own hands. Really with their own hands. Children who’s hearts were unmoved when they beat to death a boy their age who lay writhing on the floor,” she wrote.

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August 11, 2012

EDITOR: Haaretz noticed it…

I have been writing on this topic for over two years, and now even Haaretz has noticed the facts – no one in the west cares if Iran is attacked! They have bought into the US arguments, whose script was written in Jerusalem many months ago. So, with no one caring, this mad and criminal war is coming – nothing seems to be there to stop it right now!

The world doesn’t seem worried by Netanyahu’s threats to strike Iran: Haaretz

Europe is keeping quiet, and Obama’s policy is vague. It looks like the international community has reconciled itself with the possibility of war – or does the world simply not believe that Netanyahu will act on his words?

By Aluf Benn | Aug.11, 2012 | 2:00 PM

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand next to a burnt armoured vehicle near the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Photo by AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are threatening to attack Iran, and the world does not seem concerned. Israel warns that its face is turned in the direction of a war that will bump up the price of oil and cause many deaths and much damage, and the world does nothing to prevent the tragedy. No emergency meetings of the UN Security Council, no dramatic diplomatic delegations, no live coverage on CNN and Al-Jazeera. There aren’t even any sharp fluctuations in the price of oil and natural gas. Or in Israel’s credit rating. The scene is quiet. Even Iranian counter-threats to hit Israel don’t seem to worry anybody.

What’s happening here? All the signs show that the “international community,” meaning the western powers and the U.S. in the lead, seem to have reconciled themselves with Israel’s talk of a military strike – and now they are pushing Netanyahu to stand by his rhetoric and send his bombers to their targets in Iran. In general terms, the market has already accounted for the Israeli strike in its assessment of the risk of the undertaking, and it is now waiting for the expectation to be realized.

The international community created the ideological grounds for an Israeli operation against Iran. It has ceased to bother Netanyahu about issues related to the occupation, the settlements and the Palestinian state, which has made it possible for Netanyahu to focus on preparing the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli public opinion for a war with Iran. The “nuclear talks” between the powers and Iran were the epitome of diplomatic impotence. Economic sanctions on Iran did not stop the nuclear project, and maybe even caused its acceleration, but they are likely to limit Iran in a long-term war against Israel.

U.S. President Barack Obama is considered a sharp opponent to the idea of an Israeli strike against Iran. But his actions say the opposite. Obama once again is leading from behind, as he did in Libya and Syria. This is his doctrine: Instead of complicating America with a new Mideast war, he is outsourcing the fighting to an external agent. In Libya, it was the French, the British and the anti-Gadhafi rebels. In Syria, it is the Free Syrian Army. In Iran, it is the IDF.

If Israel does strike, the planes and the arms will be made in the U.S.A. The Home Front Command will receive early warnings of missile landings from the American radar in the Negev in southern Israel. The financial aid and state support for the day after the strike will probably also come from Washington.

The public position of the U.S. regime is vague. Officials talk about the “unity of the international community,” “tough sanctions” and say things that they will use all available options to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons (as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did on his recent visit to Israel). There is no warning here against an Israeli strike. No one is saying, “If you strike, you will put Israel-U.S. relations at risk, and you will remain isolated.”

Obama was much more aggressive when he asked Netanyahu to freeze settlement construction – something that has no effect whatsoever on the well-being of Americans. And now, when regional stability and the fate of the world economy are at stake, the Obama administration makes do with a feeble request that Israel wait.

There is logic behind this apparent American weakness: Obama needs the support of America’s Jews in the upcoming presidential elections, hence his reluctance to enter into a diplomatic confrontation with the Israeli Prime Minister. According to this explanation, Obama must catch up with Republican rival Mitt Romney, who came to be photographed next to Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Obama despises Netanyahu, but he has put aside his feelings at least until the elections are over in November. This is one of the reasons that Netanyahu and Barak want to attack in the coming weeks, when Obama will be forced to support Israel, because of his political needs at home.

But even if Obama is held back by the campaign, his restraints do not put his European peers under any kind of obligation. Angel Merkel, David Cameron, and Francoise Hollande dislike Netanyahu as much as Obama does, but in Germany, Britain and France there is no strong lobby for Israel. And even so, the Europeans are silent. During Netanyahu’s first term as Prime Minister, European leaders visited Israel often in order to protest the stalemate in the peace process and settlement expansion. And now? The two most important guests that have visited Jerusalem in the last two weeks were the Australian foreign minister and the prime minister of Tonga. Friendly nations, but ones that lack influence in matters of war and peace. European leaders and foreign ministers are busy with the Economic crisis and vacance.

For Americans and Europeans who are leading a hard line against Iran, it is difficult to present a position that will be interpreted as a defense of the Iranian nuclear program in the face of an Israeli strike. But they can demonstrate diplomatic activity, flood Israel and Iran with visits, brief the press, and maybe even posit creative solutions to calm the crisis. Their reluctance and their silence imply their support for an attack by Netanyahu. If a war breaks out, they will do everything to minimize any ensuing damage, to reach a cease-fire, and to calm the oil market.

And maybe they just think that Netanyahu is bluffing. Maybe, much as they did not believe his pronouncements over a future Palestinian state, they think that his talk of a strike is nothing more than empty words.

Rights groups: IDF catching African migrants inside Egyptian territory: Haaretz

According to a report released by Israeli human-rights organizations, IDF soldiers have been intercepting migrants before they reach the border, then turning them over to Egyptian forces.
By The Associated Press     and Gili Cohen, Aug.10, 2012

Egyptian border guards patrol near the border with Israel in Rafah, Egypt, Augusts 2012. Photo by AP

Israel has been sending soldiers into Egypt’s Sinai desert to stop African migrants before they reach the border, handing them over to Egyptian forces, human rights groups charged in a report released Friday.

The report, published by Amnesty International and several Israeli groups, including Hotline for Migrant Workers and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said that Israeli soldiers have entered several hundred meters into Egyptian territory to catch migrants and hand them over to Egyptian police.

The report cited an Israeli soldier and several migrants whose relatives were seized by Israeli soldiers inside Egyptian territory.

In an affidavit included in the report, the Israeli reserve soldier said his unit was posted in June several hundred meters inside Egypt to stop African migrants. The soldier described three incidents in which his unit dealt with African migrants on the Egyptian side. On two occasions Israeli soldiers marched the groups several kilometers along the border on the Egyptian side and handed them over to Egyptian police.

In the other, he wrote that soldiers guarded a group of about 40 migrants, including women and a baby, for two days before the migrants “dispersed,” and most of them crossed into Israel.

The soldier’s name is blacked out. A Tel Aviv attorney countersigned the statement.

The report also cites migrants who succeeded in making it to Israel but say their relatives were in groups that were intercepted and handed over by force to Egyptian authorities.

The three rights group called on Israel to stop the practice, saying it was aimed at preventing migrants from entering Israel, where the government would then have to consider their claims of asylum. The groups said repatriating asylum seekers who might be in danger in their home countries is a violation of international law.

“Israel is responsible for the action or omissions of its soldiers, whether they are located in Israeli or Egyptian territory,” the report said. It added that they fear that “victims of physical and sexual abuse by traffickers in the Sinai desert may be among those returned.”

Asked about the report, the IDF Spokesman’s Office confirmed that it was detaining Africans attempting to enter the country, but did not specify on which side of the border its activities took place.

“The IDF operates in the area of the border in a place where the fence’s construction has not been completed, in order to prevent penetration of hostile terrorist activity, as well as criminal smuggling and illegal border infiltration,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.

“In recent weeks IDF forces have been forced, a number of times, to prevent entrance of infiltrators, during attempts to illegally enter the State of Israel’s territory, until the arrival of Egyptian forces which took the infiltrators. IDF forces’ activities are conducted according to the law,” it added.

A senior Egyptian military official in Sinai denied that any Israeli soldiers had entered Egypt to chase migrants. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The use of Israeli soldiers just inside Egyptian territory, with apparent Egyptian consent, would be a startling move, given widespread anti-Israeli sentiment among Egyptians and the strong sensitivities over Sinai, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and returned after the 1979 peace deal between the two countries.

The report came as tension rose over the security situation in the lawless desert, where Islamic militants recently killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, stole armored vehicles and drove into Israel, apparently to carry out a further attack until they were struck by Israeli forces. Egypt has deployed additional troops in the peninsula near the borders with Israel and Gaza in an operation to stamp out militant groups.

Israel believes that most of the migrants are seeking work, not asylum, and has recently begun deporting migrants from South Sudan, giving financial incentives to those who agree to leave voluntarily. South Sudan, which gained independence a year ago, has friendly relations with Israel.

The rights groups’ report coincides with a sharp drop in the number of migrants crossing the border. In July, Israel said 248 migrants entered, less than half the average. The report quotes Egyptian newspapers saying that 514 migrants were caught in July, several hundred more than usual.

Most African migrants reaching Israel come from Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. About 60,000 migrants are already in Israel, and some Israelis have expressed concern that the influx could harm the Jewish character of the state.

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August 9, 2012

 


boycott-israel-anim2

47 years to the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights!

1996 Days to the Israeli Blockade of Gaza:

End Israeli Apartheid Now!

Support Palestinian universities – it is what people under the Israeli jackboot ask you to do

Any army fighting against children, has already lost the war!

Israeli War Criminals and Pirates – to the International Criminal Court, NOW!

Make Zionism History!

 

Demand the destruction of Israeli WMDs NOW!

EDITOR: The invisible war, coming at us

In Europe and the US, the war being prepared by Netanyahu and Obama is invisible; it is hardly being mentioned, and never widely discussed or questioned – the NY Times, the Guardian, the BBC, Le Mond – they are all silent. By making it invisible, western media is colluding with their governments in making this war more likely. They have done so before, numerous times, and recently in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, so the routine is well-honed. In preparing for this war,  the most regressive forces come together against Iran – US with its late imperial projections, Israel with its mini-imperial plans of a Middle East under its thumb, and the Gulf autocracies with their Wahbbi reactionary agenda – a very odd but sinister alliance indeed. By keeping mum about this Europe plays a questionable role, enabling another disaster to unfold before our very eyes. None of this is inevitable, none of this is justified, none of it is necessary for the peace and progress of people in the Middle East. Thus, the 21st century proves to be not much of an improvement on mediaevalist regimes with their short term, limited view of human interests. That the international community, whatever is meant by this phrase, is again unable to stop the machinations of the powerful from dragging this pained region into another terrifying conflict, is a sign that maybe there is no international community, really.

The stories about Iran’s nuclear capabilities are so similar to the buildup before the Iraq War, with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and ’45 minutes to nuclear missiles’ being fired at the west, and the rest of the lies and subterfuges which were used on the unsuspecting public, with full collusion by the mainstream media. So now we again hear the foreplay for another illegal war of the west and its allies in crime.

In Israel, the war is indeed real – with discussions of how many Israelis might die in it, small demonstrations against it, and pundits telling the public it must come now, and preparing them for the shock. Still, most Israelis have not been persuaded, despite all the media play, but that, of course, will not stop it. If the demonstrations included hundreds of thousands, instead of hundreds, it may have made a difference.

Obama gets new U.S. NIE: Iran making surprising progress toward military nuclear capability: Haaretz

National Intelligence Estimate backs Israel’s view of surprising, significant progress; 2007 NIE report claimed Iran had suspended nuclear program.

By Barak Ravid | Aug.09, 2012 | 1:29 AM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - AP

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, is escorted by technicians during a tour of Tehran’s research reactor center in northern Tehran, Iran, on Feb. 15, 2012. Photo by AP

President Barack Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel’s view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability, Western diplomats and Israeli officials have informed Haaretz.

This NIE report on Iran was supposed to have been submitted to Obama a few weeks ago, but it was revised to include new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran’s nuclear program. Haaretz has learned that the report’s conclusions are quite similar to those drawn by Israel’s intelligence community.

The NIE report contends that Iran has made surprising, notable progress in the research and development of key components of its military nuclear program.

The NIE reports are the most important assessments compiled by the U.S. intelligence community and are submitted to the president and other top governmental officials. This NIE report was compiled by an inter-departmental team headed by director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Its contents articulate the views of American intelligence agencies.

In 2007, the NIE report on the Iranian issue included a non-classified abstract, but this time the White House decided to keep the new report’s contents under wraps. There has been no clear disclosure of the very existence of the report and its submission to Obama.

The 2007 NIE report on Iran stunned Israel, many Western countries and even some White House officials. The report maintained that Iran suspended its military nuclear program in 2003, and that there was no conclusive proof of its revival.

Serious blow

The report’s conclusions delivered a serious blow to the international campaign waged by Israel against the Iranian nuclear program. Israeli officials reasoned at the time that the NIE report’s conclusions were influenced by the failure of the U.S. intelligence community with regard to rumors of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq’s arsenal. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American intelligence analysts concluded that Saddam Hussein had continued his efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction; that assessment spurred President George W. Bush’s war plans.

But after American forces occupied Iraq, it became clear that Saddam had suspended his nuclear program, as well as his chemical weapons program. This intelligence failure sparked public criticism in the U.S.

Israeli officials reasoned in 2007 that American intelligence and defense officials were concerned that Bush would launch a war against Iran, concurrent to U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so these U.S. intelligence experts concluded in the 2007 document that a drive by Tehran to develop nuclear weapons could not be conclusively demonstrated.

In response to inquiries, Tommy Vietor, the Spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House said that he “is not going to comment on intelligence matters like this.”

Israeli Facebook campaign against an Iran strike asks: How much is 300, really?: Haaretz

The new campaign tries to make more than a number out of 300 – the Defense Ministry’s estimation of Israeli victims in an Iranian retaliation.

By Oded Yaron | Aug.09, 2012 | 9:39 AM

Just how many is 300 dead? 150 couples.

One of the Facebook campaign’s ads. Just how many is 300 dead? 150 couples.
Just how many is 300 dead? 150 couples.

Israel Defense Forces officials recently told the Knesset that roughly 300 Israelis would die as a the result of a concentrated Iranian missile attack. The number is lower than Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s estimation of 500. It was high, however, enough to spark a Facebook campaign.

The new campaign, launched by the strategic communication firm Blue Collar, is aimed at reminding people that 300 is not only a number.

“We have decided on a daily post which exemplifies exactly how much is 300 dead,” Shahar Cotani, a campaigner and designer at Blue Collar wrote. “No matter which way you turn it, we are left with too many,” he added. “300 killed are 150 couples. 300 killed are 9 kindergartens.”

The image they have posted on Wednesday illustrates the calculation that 300 people killed are 2.5 people per member of Knesset, or nine people for every member of the Israeli cabinet.

The objection to an Israeli strike on Iran is considered almost ancient in the history of the World Wide Web. The webpage armagadon.org.il was founded in 2008, demanding that such a strike be avoided.

In 2012, Roni Edry and Michal Tamir’s Facebook campaign under the slogan “Iranians, we love you,” created a stir across the world, and even Iranians responded to the initiative, which inspired numerous other Facebook pages.

One of the largest groups on Facebook against striking Iran, “The people say no to striking Iran,” has over 2,600 members.

The idea, Cotani told Haaretz, was going around in his head for a few days after hearing the Defense Ministry’s estimate. “The numbers seem imaginary, but they are real. So I sat down and started investigating what three hundred is in terms my friends and I can grasp.”

Cotani said that this is not a commercial campaign, but a private initiative which the company has decided to endorse.

When asked about the alternative and whether the possibility of war should be considered when faced with a much greater potential damage in case a nuclear bomb would hit Israel, Cotani said that he and his friends feel that this estimation is unrealistic and baseless.

“I don’t have much to say. It’s true that in a nuclear strike there will be more [people killed]. The thing is that I don’t believe that any country today, and North Korea is an example, has any interest in starting a nuclear war. I don’t believe that even the madman from Tehran had any desire to go into such a place… It’s clear to all of the sides that a war is the worst option.”

Asked if the attempt to give the numbers a face might make it hard to have a rational discussion, Cotani answered those 300, or even thousands of victims of nuclear wars have names and faces. “They are human beings, flesh and blood, so the rational thing is to take it under consideration. The main reason for the campaign is the feeling today that the current leadership has forgotten that,” Cotani explained.

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August 5, 2012

EDITOR: While waiting for the attack on Iran, the pogroms go on…

The war on Iran is now a fact – what remains is just to enact it, as far as Israel and the US are concerned. It is clear that the western states will do nothing whatsoever when it starts, and Israel will get away with even a larger and more criminal act than the destruction of South Lebanon in 2006. An interesting question is: Is there something which Israel cannot get away with? Like being the first nation to use nuclear weapons since 1945, during conflict? With the US so firmly behind it, and Obama in such dire need of the Jewish votes in November, it seems that nothing which Israel will do will get it real censure. This is exceptionalism of the highest order. Knowing they have no worry about consequences, they are sure to strike against Iran. What is so shocking is the international apathy about this thunder which is about to hit the Middle East, and the rest of us.

In the meantime, Israeli setters are not wasting time, it seems. Knowing, that like Israel, they are totally immune to any law or procedure, they continue their hate and destruction campaign against Palestine. Their project is to get every Palestinian out of Palestine, and nobody seems to be around to stop them.

Lambs to the settlers’ slaughter, screaming and unheard: Haaretz

There were more than 50 reports of Israelis assaulting Palestinians in the West Bank last month. In the start of a regular series, Haaretz details one particularly violent attack

By Amira Hass | Aug.05, 2012 | 1:25 AM |  4

A torched car Palestinians in the West Bank - AP

An elderly Palestinian man gestures as he stands next to a torched car Palestinians say was set on fire by Jewish extremists, in the West Bank village of Hares near Nablus, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011. Photo by AP

Amira Hass

‘Don’t touch my land. Price Tag’ is sprayed on a wall in the West Bank village of Sinjal. Photo by Amira Hass

There is still a bruise under Ibrahim Bani Jaber’s left eye. The blows his brother Jawdat received to his right ear didn’t leave any marks, but they still make his head feel heavy. During our meeting at their home in the West Bank village of Akraba last week, they did not spend much time describing the fear and pain they felt when they were attacked. Instead, they spoke about the family’s sheep, that they had rushed to try and save that day, July 7, when they heard that settlers were attacking them.

The violent confrontation – between settlers from Itamar and Giva 777, and Palestinian residents of Akraba – was the worst such incident last month. But it was, nevertheless, merely part of the daily routine of assaults, attacks and incursions. It is only on rare occasions that these incidents become news. In most cases, if there is an investigation there is no indictment.

The map presented here shows the various assaults from last month alone, but it is not complete because it does not include Jerusalem. It is based on reports that have been cross-checked, and eyewitness testimonies from the Ta’ayush Arab Jewish partnership, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Haaretz will continue to follow events on a regular basis and the way they are handled by the authorities.

On Saturday July 7, when the Bani Jaber brothers were working in a wheat field, their brother Jihad – who was tending the sheep – telephoned them in a panic. “Settlers have arrived at the spring and they are slaughtering the sheep,” he shouted. The two brothers were some three kilometers from the spring and orchard, east of the village of Yanun. Jawdat, 44, went to speak with the soldiers who had accompanied the Palestinian farmers to their fields.

About six months ago, the Israel Defense Forces began revisiting plans for its dormant firing range there – which contains farmers’ fields, orchards and a number of homes belonging to families from Akraba. When it was decided to use the firing range again, the IDF began forbidding the Palestinians from going to their lands there. Giva 777, an offshoot of the Itamar settlement, is in that same firing range (known as 904A ). Dror Etkes, who has been tracking the way the settlers are gaining control of lands in the West Bank, states that most of Giva 777’s tended fields are on private Palestinian lands and in the firing range.

In the past few months, Rashed Fahmi – the head of the Yanun local council; the Israeli-Palestinian group Lohamim Leshalom (Fighting for Peace ); and Rabbis for Human Rights have been waging an exhausting and prolonged campaign to get the authorities to uphold the Palestinians’ rights to work their lands. The efforts bore bitter fruit: the Palestinians were permitted to go to their fields accompanied by soldiers for one week, between July 3 and July 10. Most of the wheat had already dried up by then.

Awaiting his death

Two military jeeps joined around 40 farmers who went to their fields that Saturday. After Jihad telephoned, at around 2 P.M., Jawdat told a soldier who spoke Arabic that something bad was happening at the spring. His impression was that the soldier brushed him off contemptuously. Meanwhile, Ibrahim, 42, hurried down the hill toward the spring. He was carrying a walking stick that he uses when tending the sheep. Jihad had already fled from the scene. Some of the sheep had wandered off. The settlers were standing among the sheep that remained and, according to Ibrahim, were hitting them. There were perhaps 10 or 20 settlers. “What have the sheep done to you?” Ibrahim shouted to them in Arabic.

At this point, other family members joined him. In the meantime, three or four soldiers arrived at the scene and prevented them from approaching the sheep. The number of settlers increased. Most of them were wearing white shirts. Two of them were, apparently, armed.

Ibrahim says he waved his stick to chase a settler away from a sheep. A soldier grabbed him, he says, and hit him with the butt of his rifle, below the eye. He fell and got up, bleeding. He saw the soldier taking out plastic handcuffs to detain him. Ibrahim ran away, “out of fear they would leave me to the settlers, who would beat me” – as had happened the previous month in Orif. There were shots, he says, as he began walking toward the south, bleeding.

The soldiers who prevented Jawdat from going to his brother handcuffed him and sat him forcibly on the ground. One soldier hit him with a baton on his ear, he says. Another soldier kicked him in the same place. As he was sitting with his hands secured behind his back, he saw some of the settlers approaching him and had the impression that one was holding an ax. At that point, he says, he shut his eyes and awaited his death.

Jawdat believes he was hit with the blunt edge of the ax and lost consciousness. Eyewitnesses say that some two hours elapsed before the soldiers would allow the residents to rescue him. He remembers waking when he was transferred from an Israeli ambulance to a Palestinian one, on his way to a hospital in Nablus.

The confrontation took place in a number of spaces. No one saw the entire picture. The Akraba residents who were being attacked had the feeling that the number of settlers was constantly growing, and that there were many dozens of them. The two sides began throwing stones at each other. The soldiers fired into the air, and stun grenades and tear gas were employed against the villagers who wanted to help their fellow residents. A fire broke out in the fields, either through arson or because of the stun and tear-gas grenades. One of the villagers was wounded by a tear-gas canister. Another was hit in the arm by a rubber-coated bullet, which left a deep wound and required hospitalization.

Another relative, Adwan Bani Jaber, 58, was also in the fields. “At a distance of some 800 meters from the orchard, I came across soldiers and a settler,” he says. “A soldier began shooting and I asked him, ‘Why are you shooting? This is my home.’ And he shouted, ‘Go back!’ I asked him: ‘Where should I go? This is my home.’ The soldier then told me there was no problem, and that there were no injured.”

Adwan says he suddenly felt a blow to his head. It was a stone which, he says, was thrown by a settler, in the presence of the soldiers.

The IDF spokesman said that the army had no reports about the injuries to the three family members. He says that on July 7, “a confrontation developed between a number of settlers and a number of Palestinians. A large number of Palestinians continued to arrive at the scene of the confrontation and there was stone throwing from both sides. The Palestinians started some conflagrations. The security forces began acting to disperse the confrontation and used means for the dispersal of demonstrations. During the incident, one settler and two Palestinians were lightly injured. The injured were treated by army medical personnel at the scene, and they then evacuated the Palestinians to hospital for further treatment. The event was investigated by senior officers and the required lessons were learned.”

Jihad reported that 14 sheep were killed – four died that day and the remainder in the next few days. He no longer takes the sheep to drink at the spring.

The entire agricultural area was once again closed to residents of Akraba and Yanun. From afar, they can see the settlers who live in firing range 904A, tending their fields.

Israel delays entry of foreign dignitaries to West Bank, puts PA meeting in peril: Haaretz

Palestinian leaders due to meet ministers representing states of the Non-Aligned Movement, discuss renewed attempts to gain Palestinian statehood.

By Amira Hass | Aug.05, 2012 | 12:36 PM

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi,  Mahmoud Abbas, and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.

Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi (R) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki. Photo by Reuters

A meeting in Ramallah between Palestinian leaders and ministers representing states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) that was scheduled for Sunday evening may not take place since Israel has yet authorized the foreign delegates’ entry into the West Bank.

The meeting was announced on Saturday by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, who said that the purpose of the session was to introduce NAM members to the Palestinian situation and to ask for their support, should they ask to become a non-member state in the United Nations General Assembly.

“The meeting aims to stress the right of our people and leadership to hold conferences on our land and to support our struggle to end the occupation and settlements and establish our independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” said al-Malki.

However, Haaretz has learned that preparations for the meeting have been halted, and that the session could ultimately be cancelled since Israel is delaying the required transit passes into the West Bank.

The report has not yet been confirmed by either Israeli or Palestinian officials.

The meeting in Ramallah was meant to be participated by the foreign ministers of 12 NAM members, including Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr, South African Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant, as well as ministers from states with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Cuba.

Some of the ministers were supposed to enter the West Bank through the Allenby Bridge in the Jordan Valley, while others were due to be carried into the territory using helicopters.

Israeli envoy: Palestinians have ‘guaranteed majority’ in bid for UN membership: Haaretz

Ron Prosor tells local radio stations that Palestinian Authority will likely receive non-member observer status, but says: ‘Nothing will change on the ground’.

By Reuters | Aug.05, 2012 | 10:03 AM |  8

Prosor - David Bachar - February 2011

Isreali Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, in February 2011. Photo by David Bachar
By Amira Hass | Aug.05,2012 | 10:03 AM

The Palestinians’ bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations would find majority support there but would not bring them closer to statehood and peace with Israel, Israel’s UN envoy said on Sunday.

Citing stalled peacemaking and Israeli settlement-building on occupied West Bank land where they seek sovereign independence, the Palestinians said on Saturday they would renew a bid to win UN.recognition as a state.

Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, accused the Palestinians of trying to recapture international attention that has shifted to crises in Iran, Egypt and Syria.

“There is an attempt [by the Palestinians] to make unilateral moves in order to internationalize the conflict,” Prosor told Israel Radio in a telephone interview.

“But beyond what are perhaps the feelings of frustration, it is important to remember that the path to peace really is through the negotiating table with Israel.”

The Palestinians want to found a state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. Though Israel quit Gaza in 2005, it claims East Jerusalem as its capital – a move not recognized abroad – and says it would keep swathes of West Bank settlements under any peace deal. The United Nations deems the settlements illegal.

Full UN membership for Palestine would require approval by the Security Council, where Israel’s ally, the United States, would likely wield its veto given its demand the Palestinians set up their state in agreement with the Jewish state.

So the Palestinians, in what they describe as an interim move, plan to ask the UN General Assembly next month to accord them non-member observer status, which would allow them to join a number of UN agencies and the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinians are currently a UN observer “entity” with no voting rights. A similar statehood upgrade drive last year proved short-lived amid financial sanctions and diplomatic counter-lobbying by Israel and the United States.

Prosor said the Palestinians have a “guaranteed majority” in the 193-member General Assembly – enough to bestow non-member observer status, which the envoy predicted would be used “to hurt us (Israel)” in various international forums.

Israel has accused Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of going to the United Nations to evade negotiations that would entail both territorial compromise and that he reassert control over Gaza, which he lost in a 2007 civil war to Hamas Islamists hostile to Israel.

“In essence, Abu Mazen [Abbas] today has zero control in Gaza,” Prosor said in separate remarks to Israel’s Army Radio, adding that the Palestinians’ UN campaign “will change nothing on the ground”.

Palestinians have made a freeze on Israeli settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem a condition for returning to peace talks. Israel cites biblical and historical ties to the areas and says the settlement issue should be decided in negotiations.

Documents: Israel used Waqf land to build settlements, separation fence: Haaretz

Palestinian Authority and Waqf are trying to back get lands that were transferred over the decades to settlements and the separation fence, a PA official tells Haaretz.

By Akiva Eldar | Aug.05, 2012 | 1:25 AM |  7

A date field at the edge of Jericho.

A date field at the edge of Jericho. Photo by Daniel Bar-On

Land belonging to the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust, has been transferred over the decades to settlements and the separation fence, according to Waqf documents and maps compiled by the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration.

The Palestinian Authority and Waqf are trying to get these lands back, an official from the PA’s Interior Ministry has told Haaretz. The plots in question were transferred between 1967 and 2008 and are located mostly in the Jericho area.

The Civil Administration’s maps have been obtained by settlements researcher Dror Etkes following a long legal battle. They show that the Waqf area within land under full Israeli control near Jericho totals 37,000 dunams.

Jewish homes and public facilities have been built on some of this land. The land was registered under proper land-registry procedures before the Six-Day War.

55,000 dunams in question

The Waqf says the land in the Jericho area that Israel appropriated for settlement and military purposes actually totals 55,000 dunams. The largest area, north of a village 10 kilometers north of Jericho, contains the entire area of the Na’aran and Yitav settlements, and most of the area claimed by the Nativ Hagdud settlement.

In this area, there is also a quarry used by Jewish settlements. The Good Samaritan Archaeological Museum, run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority east of Ma’aleh Adumim, is also located on Waqf lands.

A document obtained by Haaretz reveals that months before the Six-Day War, Jordanian authorities ordered that one tract of land in the region be removed from the state registry and registered in the Waqf’s name. Ibrahim Za’atra, a Waqf official in Jerusalem, told Haaretz that he has documents proving that lands were registered with the Waqf as early as 1955.

Responding to the Waqf’s appeals, officials responsible for abandoned property in the West Bank have said the state has no definite intention at this stage to use the property. The officials promised that if the state puts together a plan to use the land, it will properly notify the Waqf.

“There is a reasonable chance that land in this area does not belong to the state,” Uri Mendes, head of the Civil Administration’s infrastructure department, wrote to the secretary of Kibbutz Na’aran.

“This clarification follows claims by Waqf representatives regarding Jordanian land registration shortly before the Six-Day War, and Jordanian directives that the land be registered in the Waqf’s name and not as belonging to Jordan. The implications of this fact are extensive, and ramifications for the kibbutz are clear and decisive. I am surprised you are not aware of this issue.”

The Civil Administration says the Waqf lands lie within private land in the West Bank, so information about them cannot be disclosed.

Etkes, the settlements researcher, called such explanations “another despicable attempt by the Civil Administration to conceal from the public another chapter in the story of land appropriation in the West Bank, and its transfer to settlers.”

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August 2, 2012

EDITOR: A lone voice in the wilderness of Israeli politics

Despite the evidence that the IDF leadership are against the bombing of Iran, Israel and the US are preparing for the criminal and insane action to go ahead, in the full light of world media, and no great uproar from any country against this rash and dangerous move. It seems Obama is watching the polls more than thinking on a rational basis about US goals in the Middle East, and what Netanyahu is thinking about is also quite clear – he is down in the Israeli polls as the financial crisis is at last also affecting the Israeli economy,  and the shit is about to hit the fan. The seeds of the social protest of last year seem to be germinating at last, after a period in which Netanyahu seemed to be the Teflon Man – unaffected by the massive protest rallies and tent cities. Obama is also seeking a new enemy to make war with, now that he is out of Iraq, and prepares to get out of Afghanistan, once that country it is also totally destroyed. There is a clear need for another Islamic country which can be destroyed and Iran fits the bill to a dot.

It is also clear that Obama feels pressurised by the Mitt Romney speeches in Israel, where he presented himself as the real supporter of Israel, the one who listens and agrees with whatever Israel needs or says, so Obama is on a roll to prove he is the real one, and sends Panetta to negotiate the exact details of the attack on Iran before the elections really get under way, in October. So, due to the internal elction policies of the US, and the growing political pressure on Netanyahu, we are likely to see the beginning of anew, murderous war in the Middle East, and probably beyond.

So, after the 9/11 the US has managed well in its war against Al Qaeda: it brought it into Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and some countries in Africa, were it never had a foothold before, it has managed to reduce Iraq and Afghanistan into war ravaged and violent caricatures of western democracy, and has made Al Qaeda a force to reckon with across the Arab and Muslim world, as well as strengthening the political expression of Muslim extremism, such as the Salafis in many Arab countries. Not a bad record for a world power in decline, with an economy which is teetering on the brink, and a society which is governed by bigotry and ignorance, as well as deep Xenophobia.

So, as usual, the only sane voice in the Israeli public/media, that of Gideon Levy, is again crying out against that which is already a forgone conclusion, mainly because of the  servility shown by most governments towards US decisions, and by extension, to the servility of US politicians to the Zionist aggressive agenda. Whata sign of human progress in the 21st century… We should all be proud.

Stopping the crazed Israeli desire to bomb: Haaretz

The challenge currently resting on the shoulders of the world’s strongest man would seem to be as light as a feather. Israel’s level of dependence on the U.S. is absolute; it is more dependent on America than ever before.
By Gideon Levy      Aug.02, 2012

Amos Harel’s fervent prayer for the well-being of Benny Gantz (Haaretz, August 1) isn’t enough: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already, with haughty vehemence, announced that only the political leadership will decide. Nor will the visit of America’s Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, turn the tables: Netanyahu, with the same haughty vehemence, has announced that only Israel will decide.

Of course, saying prayers for the well-being of Gantz and Panetta is nice. But the main object of concern right now should be the well-being and, more particularly, the level of determination of U.S. President Barack Obama. He carries the brunt of responsibility on his shoulders, and apparently is the last person on earth who has the wherewithal to dissuade Israel from continuing with its misadventures.

This is the last opportunity he has during his current term to demonstrate friendship and genuine concern for Israel. This is his last chance to do something for the Middle East.

The challenge currently resting on the shoulders of the world’s strongest man would seem to be as light as a feather. Israel’s level of dependence on the U.S. is absolute; it is more dependent on America than ever before, just as it has never been so isolated in the world. Measures that can be taken to stop Israel are numerous and diverse: They include giving Israel a cold shoulder politically, and putting a partial freeze on economic or security aid. And the goal is worthy. Possibly one tough, clear phone call will suffice.

Well, that’s the picture. Anyone looking at this game from the sidelines would wonder which country here is the superpower and which is the satellite proxy, if not what here is the truth and what is duplicity. Yet apparently there is no time to clarify these questions. Nor is there time to wonder about how Israel is daring to act this way in August.

Messianic ruminators long ago noted that August is the fateful month, as perhaps September also is. And so now is the time to send one last appeal to the president-savior, calling on him to do something right now.

Sheldon Adelson is not likely to like this. Mitt Romney could object, and AIPAC will go nuts. Some synagogue sages will call on congregations to vote Republican, though that will hardly suffice to stop Obama’s reelection. At stake here is a national rescue mission. And when it comes to rescue, everything else has to be put aside. The president who disappointed could become the president who offers deliverance. The president who vowed, “Yes, we can,” can, at long last, prove that he can, in this part of the world as well.

There’s no point in explaining why – it’s all been said and written. The coming weeks are liable to bring a catastrophe to Israel. Apparently, the defense system’s opposition no longer suffices to stop it. And the public’s outrageous apathy doesn’t help.

One might try to remind Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, and perhaps also Obama, that the era of war heroes has dropped out of history forever. Since the end of World War II, no person has entered the history books thanks to a war or a bombing. The era’s heroes are peacemakers or national liberators, from Gandhi to Mandela, from Gorbachev to Walesa. Apart from David Ben-Gurion, the only leaders of Israel who will be remembered in history were peacemakers – Begin, thanks to the peace with Egypt, and Rabin due to his attempts in the peace process with the Palestinians. The warmongers are forgotten. That’s a fact that might be kept in mind by those who want to launch an attack “to leave a mark” in history.

Of course, possibly this is a false alarm – but by the time we can verify whether it is or not, it might be too late. It’s no less probable that this is a true crisis. And so all eyes should now be peeled to Washington: Be strong, please, Obama. Stop the crazed Israeli desire to bomb; derail the messianic bellicosity and bring an end to this attack obsession. Surely one tough phone call from you would do the trick.

Poll: Support for Netanyahu plummets following economic edicts: Haaretz

Survey reflects a negativity toward the Netanyahu-Steinitz duo; government’s socioeconomic agenda could be an electoral disaster.

By Yossi Verter  Aug.02, 2012

Prime Minister Netanyahu, left, and Finance Minister Steinitz.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, left, and Finance Minister Steinitz. Photo by Emil Salman
Info-Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with Netanyahu?

Support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has plunged to an all-time low due to the economic diktats the government announced this week.

For the first time since Netanyahu set up his second government in April 2009, the proportion of survey respondents satisfied with his performance has fallen to just 31 percent, while 60 percent expressed dissatisfaction.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz fared even worse in the Dialog survey, which was held in mid-week under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs. Over two-thirds of those interviewed – 67 percent – said they were not satisfied with his performance, compared to 19 percent who said the opposite.

The survey reflects a negative, angry state of mind toward the Netanyahu-Steinitz duo and leads to the conclusion that the government’s socioeconomic agenda is an electoral disaster for Likud. Netanyahu is still seen as a candidate without rivals, but his position has weakened considerably.

In this atmosphere it is clear that Netanyahu has no interest in holding an early election. On the contrary, he will strive to put an election off as much as possible and change the government’s agenda, so it focuses on strategic security-related issues ahead of an election.

The survey also implies that Netanyahu and Steinitz have failed miserably in marketing their economic policy. The public simply does not believe them and does not buy what they are selling regarding responsibility, leadership and balanced, necessary measures.

Until recently, the lowest grade of dissatisfaction with Netayahu registered in Haaretz-Dialog polls over the past three and a half years was 54 percent. The balance has been in Netanyahu’s favor most of the time, peaking after Gilad Shalit’s release and the Carmel fire.

Public support for Netanyahu started plummeting a few weeks ago, due to his treatment of the Tal Law issue and his siding with the ultra-Orthodox. A Haaretz survey conducted on July 8, less than a month ago, showed Netanyahu had lost 11 percent of the public support compared to the previous survey, and the satisfaction with his performance had plunged from 51 to 41 percent.

In this survey he continues to dive, losing 10 more percentage points in public support while the dissatisfaction with his performance rises steeply.

Netanyahu says US warnings not enough to stop Iran: BBC

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta in Jerusalem 1 August 2012 US defence secretary Leon Panetta said the US and Israel were working to “preserve peace in the future”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said US assurances about military options are not enough to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Mr Netanyahu said the Iranians believe the international community “does not have the will” to stop Iran.

He spoke after visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta reiterated Washington’s line that military action was an option against Iran.

Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is for civilian energy uses.

“Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear programme,” Mr Netanyahu said at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.

He told the Pentagon chief: “You yourself said a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act. But these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their programme.

Analysis

Joan SoleyBBC News, Jerusalem

The Obama administration continues to publicly push for financial and diplomatic pressure to force Iran to change its modus operandi. Further sanctions were laid out by the White House yesterday, the timing perfectly synchronised for Mr Panetta’s arrival in Israel.

But shortly after the visit to the Iron Dome site, Mr Panetta heard Mr Netanyahu’s carefully worded scepticism towards sanctions.

Should Israel’s hard talk turn to action, the Israeli Defense Forces do not have the same military capabilities as the US. They are thought to have only nine or 10 tankers that permit refuelling of planes in the air, and Iran is not exactly ‘next door’.

But Yaakov Katz, co-author of Israel vs Iran: The Shadow War, says the Israeli military has the capability to do “just enough” damage, setting the Iranian nuclear programme back by one to three years.

“This must change, and it must change quickly because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out.”

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama ordered new economic sanctions against Iran’s energy sector and some financial firms.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Panetta toured Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket defence shield south of Tel Aviv with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

Mr Barak also said he thought there was an “extremely low” probability that international economic sanctions would prove enough to stop Iran.

Mr Panetta said repeatedly on Wednesday that “all options” including military force were on the table to stop Iran, should sanctions and diplomacy fail.

But he also said: “[Israel’s] effort to decide what is in their national security interest is something that must be left up to the Israelis.”

The US has cautioned Israel against taking unilateral action against Iran, and Israel’s current army chief has expressed reservations.

Speaking to an Israeli television station on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu hinted that Israel might act alone despite American misgivings.

“With our very existence, we do not put our faith in the hands of others, even our best of friends,” he said.

The visit by Mr Panetta comes as the Obama administration announced $70m (£45m) in new military aid to help Israel expand its Iron Dome system.

Presidential challenger Mitt Romney visited Israeli at the weekend and met top officials. He has accused the Obama administration of not being supportive enough of Israel.

Panetta tells Israel force is option on Iran: Al Jazeera English

US defence chief says “all options”, including military force, on table to stop Iran, should sanctions ultimately fail.
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2012
 
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that Iran must either negotiate acceptable limits on its nuclear programme or face the possibility of US military action to stop it from getting the bomb.Panetta made his remarks Wednesday outside a city in southern Israel, with an “Iron Dome” anti-rocket defence system as a backdrop.Panetta said repeatedly that “all options”, including military force, are on the table to stop Iran, should sanctions and diplomacy, the preferred means of persuasion, ultimately fail.Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, standing beside Panetta, said he sees an “extremely low” probability that sanctions will ever compel Iran to give up its nuclear activities.

Panetta arrived in Israel on Tuesday after meeting in Cairo with Egypt’s new president and its military chief.

Speaking before the talks, Panetta said Wednesday’s discussion with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak will be “more about what is the threat we are confronting” in Iran’s nuclear programme and about sharing intelligence information.

‘Military option’

In Cairo, Panetta denied Israeli press reports that he planned to share with the Israelis any US plans for military action against Iran.

Iran says its nuclear work is for civilian energy uses, but suspicions that the Islamic republic will use enriched uranium for nuclear weapons has resulted in international sanctions and sabre-rattling from Israel, which perceives a nuclear Iran as an existential threat.

The United States has discouraged Israel from a unilateral, pre-emptive military strike on Iran, but has said it would keep all options available.

“What we are discussing are various contingencies and how we would respond,” Panetta said. Asked whether any such contingencies include plans for potential military action against Iran, he said, “We obviously continue to work on a number of options in that area.”

Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry, reporting from Jerusalem, said Panetta was reluctant to discuss military options.

“Normally, what he would do is walk that fine line, saying Israel had the right to defend itself without talking about military options, but Israel officials are trying to push that line of discussion.”

Stronger than ever

The Panetta visit comes just days after US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney met with top Israeli officials about Iran and other issues. Romney has accused the Obama administration of being too soft on Iran and not providing sufficient support to Israel.

Greeting Panetta on Wednesday at Israeli defence headquarters, Barak said, “The defence ties between Israel and the United States are stronger and tighter than they have ever been and the credit now has to go, most of it, to you, Leon.”

Panetta responded: “We are a friend, we are a partner, we have, as the defence minister has pointed out, probably the strongest US-Israel defence relationship that we have had in history. What we are doing, working together, is an indication not only of our friendship but of our alliance to work together to try to preserve peace in the future.”

Netanyahu told Israeli Channel 2 TV on Tuesday that despite reservations about an Iranian attack among former Israeli security officials and Israel’s current army chief, the country’s political leadership would make the final decision on any attack.

“I see an ayatollah regime that declares what it has championed: to destroy us,” Netanyahu said. “It’s working to destroy us, it’s preparing nuclear weapons to destroy us. … If it is up to me, I won’t let that happen.”

With “matters that have to do with our destiny, with our very existence, we do not put our faith in the hands of others, even our best of friends,” Netanyahu said, hinting that Israel might act alone despite American misgivings.

Netanyahu said both Romney and Obama have said “Israel has the right to defend itself”.

Former Mossad chief: Iran should be very fearful over next 12 weeks: Haaretz

Ephraim Halevy quoted by New York Times amid speculation of Israeli plans to attack Iran, and just following U.S. Defense Secretary’s visit to Israel.

By Haaretz | Aug.02, 2012 | 1:22 PM |  4

Ephraim Halevy

Ephraim Halevy Photo by Yotam Fro

AP

A reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on August 21, 2010. Photo by AP

Former Mossad chief and national security adviser Ephraim Halevy was quoted by the New York Times on Thursday saying that if he were Iranian he “would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks”.

Halevy also told Israel Radio on Thursday that if the Iranians “continue to play their games” in nuclear talks with world powers, they would be underestimating Israel’s resolve.

“[The Iranians’] math is off if they think they have open-ended immunity” in these talks, he said.

His remarks came just after U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s visit to Israel, and amid circulating speculations of possible Israeli plans to strike Iran over its contentious nuclear program.

Panetta’s visit coincided with an executive order by U.S. President Barack Obama to increase sanctions against Iran, targeting foreign banks that help Tehran sell its oil.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Israel had not yet decided whether to strike Iran.  After meeting with Panetta, he said Wednesday that U.S. statements of solidarity with Israel and its assurances that military strikes are still an option aren’t working to convince Iran that the West is “serious about stopping” the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons.

Standing with the U.S. defense secretary, Netanyahu said, “Neither sanctions nor diplomacy have yet had any impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.”

“America and Israel have also made clear that all options are on the table. You yourself said a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act. But these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program,” he added.

“However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them. Right now the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program. This must change and it must change quickly, because time to resolve this issue peacefully is running out,” the prime minster said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also told Panetta that he sees an “extremely low” probability that sanctions will ever compel Iran to give up its nuclear activities.

Panetta, meanwhile, denied reports Tuesday  that he was to discuss with Israeli leaders plans for attacking the Islamic Republic: “I think it’s the wrong characterization to say we are going to be discussing potential attack plans. What we are discussing are various contingencies and how we would respond,” he said.

Asked whether these included military options, he said: “We obviously continue to work on a number of options in that area, but the discussions that I hope to have with Israel are going to be more about what is the threat that we’re confronting and to try to share both information and intelligence on that.”

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