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Russia, China to sign new 30 year gas deal via 2nd route

The BRICS Post | September 18, 2014

Russia plans to sign a 30-year gas supply contract with China via the western route, Russian energy giant Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller told President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. The route to supply gas to China via western Siberia may be implemented faster than the eastern route, through which Moscow has agreed to ship the fuel to its Asian neighbor in May.

“Gazprom plans to sign a contract to supply China with 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas via western route over thirty years,” Miller said.

The China-Russia West Route natural gas pipeline project connects gas deposits in Western Siberia and the northwestern part of China via Russia’s Altai region, securing the world’s top energy user a major source of cleaner fuel.

The potential of this route is “enormous”, the Gazprom CEO told the Russian President.

“It is even greater than in Eastern Siberia and, without a doubt, we can increase the volume of gas supplies very quickly via the western route, depending on the growth in demand in the Chinese market,” said Miller. … continue

Sanctions against Russia ‘violate’ core principles of WTO – Putin

RT | September 18, 2014

President Vladimir Putin has said that sanctions against Russia directly violate World Trade Organization (WTO) principles, and that Russia will continue to defend its economy with protective measures.

The sanctions violate the main principles of equal access for all WTO members to economic activity and access to goods and services in the market, Putin said at a meeting with advisers in the Kremlin on Thursday.

“The limitations introduced against our country are nothing but a violation by some of our partners of the basic principles of the WTO,” the President said, adding that sanctions “undermine free enterprise competition.”

On September 12, the US and EU expanded sanctions against Russia aimed at hurting Russia’s main industry – oil. … continue

EU court rescinds Iran central bank sanctions

Press TV – September 18, 2014

A top European court has struck down restrictions imposed by the European Union against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) on an alleged charge of circumventing US-led sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In a judgment on Thursday, the Luxembourg-based EU’s Court of Justice said it “annuls… the EU March 23, 2012 [ruling] concerning restrictive measures against Iran in so far as it listed Central Bank of Iran.”

“The reasons relied on are so vague and lacking in detail that the only possible response was in the form of a general denial,” the court ruled on Thursday, adding that “those reasons therefore do not comply with the requirements of the case-law.”

It said the charge leveled against the CBI is “insufficient in the sense that it does not enable either the applicant or the Court to understand the circumstances which led the [European] Council to consider…to adopt the contested act.” … continue

Remembering the Turkey-Brazil nuclear deal with Iran, and how Obama killed it

By Cyrus Safdari | Iran Affairs | September 17, 2014

If ever there was any need to prove that the US — not just under Bush but also under Obama — is using the “Iranian nuclear threat” as a manufactured pretext and cover for an entirely different policy of imposing regime-change on Iran, one only need remember the Turkey/Brazil nuclear deal with Iran, and how Obama pulled the rug out from under its own allies after they had gotten a “Yes” from Iran to  terms that the Obama administration itself had endorsed in a letter just 1 week earlier — thus again moving the goalpost to ensure that the nuclear threat pretext would be kept alive.

This is what IAEA director Elbaradei wrote about that deal in his book, Age of Deceptioncontinue

U.S. Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

A Fusion Center for United Against Nuclear Iran & Foundation for Defense of Democracies?

By John Stanton | Dissident Voice | September 17, 2014

… Americans have a network of Israel-First organizations in the United States that are “bent on influencing our politics”. They constitute a Deep State that has no remorse in sacrificing American lives and security for the benefit of Israel.  Two of these non-profits are United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). They are part of the local, state and federal matrix of Israel-First non-profits in the U.S.

UANI has managed to get 40 American state legislatures to pass, nearly unopposed, draconian sanctions on Iran which clearly are meant to instigate the general populace to revolt. UANI claims credit for many pieces of federal legislation designed to strangle the Iranians and inflict damage of the type that sanctions leveled on the Iraqi civilian populace caused. … Read full article

Ambassador: Syrian rebels seize UN weapons in the Golan

Ma’an – 18/09/2014

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — Syrian rebels linked to al-Qaeda have seized UN weapons, uniforms and vehicles from peacekeepers in the Golan and set up a “safe zone” to wage attacks, the Syrian ambassador said Tuesday.

The United Nations on Monday was forced to pull back hundreds of peacekeepers to the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan after Syrian rebels advanced on their positions.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said fighters from al-Nusra “had succeeded in occupying all of the Syrian side” of the Golan, driving out the troops from the UN Disengagement Observer Force.

“The terrorists are now using United Nations cars, which hold the emblem of the United Nations forces in the Golan. They are using the uniform of the UNDOF, the weapons of UNDOF, the positions of UNDOR to shell on the Syrian army as well as on the civilians in villages,” Jaafari told reporters. … Full article

Stop Postulating the Clash of Civilizations

By Dr. Mahathir Mohamid | CounterPunch | September 17, 2014

The British are mystified by their Muslim citizens becoming “jihadists” and joining the so-called Islamic State. They are horrified by the beheading of an American journalist by “John” a British citizen and member of the IS.

I must admit that I, too am horrified. It is not Islamic at all. Islam does not advocate violence and terror. The people who were defeated by the Prophet were not even converted to Islam, much less executed. The Quran says, “There is no compulsion in Islam.”

But we are seeing more and more violence and atrocities committed by Muslims. And now we have the Islamic State “Jihadists”, some of whom come from countries where they had migrated to because life is good there. Having enjoyed the good life, why are these people opting to join revolutionary movements and live dangerous lives, fighting against the very people who are their hosts. Could it be, as some people suggest, that they have been reading books such as “Islam for Dummies?”

Why? Recently we saw the mass killings of Muslims and destruction of their homes and towns by Israelis in Gaza. More than 2000 Muslims have been killed. They include little children and old people, non-combatants all. Thousands more have been seriously wounded, many losing arms and legs.

No concern or sympathy has been shown by the Europeans and Americans. In fact the Americans gave money and arms for Israelis to kill more Muslims and destroy their homes and towns. … continue

Strange logic of the ISIS war

By Nat Parry · Essential Opinion · September 15, 2014

Officials in Washington are inadvertently providing some insight into the strange logic of their nebulous war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in contradictory and puerile statements about whether the military action should be called a war, or perhaps something else. … continue

Human Rights Require a Secure Internet

By Danny O’Brien | EFF |September 18, 2014

The ease by which mass surveillance can be conducted is not a feature of digital networks; it’s a bug in our current infrastructure caused by a lack of pervasive encryption. It’s a bug we have to fix. Having the data of our lives sent across the world in such a way that distant strangers can (inexpensively and undetectably) collect, inspect and interfere with it, undermines the trust any of us can have in any of our communications. It breaks our faith not only with the organizations that carry that data for us, but the trust we have with each other. On a spied-upon network, we hold back from speaking, reading, trading and organizing together. The more we learn about the level of surveillance institutions like the NSA impose on the Net, the more we lose trust in the technology, protocols, institutions and opportunities of the Net. … Full article

US shares Arab citizen’s ‘private’ information with Israel

MEMO | September 18, 2014

The US routinely shares private information about its citizens of Arab and Palestinian descent with Israel, the New York Times revealed yesterday.

In an Op-Ed in the newspaper, James Bamford said that the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden told him that the US “routinely passed private, unedited communications to Israel”.

Documents leaked by Snowden reveal that the US passes on “unevaluated and unminimised transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content,” to Unit 8200, an elite Israeli intelligence department.

He said the intercepts included communications of Arab and Palestinian-Americans, whose relatives in Israel and the Palestinian territories could become targets based on the information.

Whistleblower Snowden said this is ”one of the biggest abuses we’ve seen”, Bamford reported.

Bamford cited a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and Unit 8200 outlining transfers that have occurred since 2009. … Full article

Israeli High Court Upholds Law Permitting Jewish Housing Developments to Exclude Arabs

Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights | September 18, 2014

The High Court of Israel, on Wednesday, decided to continue to allow Israeli Jewish communities to discriminate against Arabs and forbid them from living there.

The Israeli Attorney General defended the law, which allows ‘admissions panels’ to screen potential residents, with the aim of keeping Arabs out.

According to the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, which filed the initial claim, the ruling “gives the green light for 434 communities to exist, based on the principle of segregated housing. This law is one of the most racist pieces of legislation enacted in recent years, the primary objective of which is to marginalize Arab citizens and prevent them from accessing housing on ‘state land’ in many communities. The court’s decision upholds one of the most dangerous laws in Israel.” … Full article

Victims of deadly shipwreck driven out of Gaza by war, unemployment

Al-Akhbar | September 18, 2014

Unemployed and shattered by the 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza, Yasser decided to seek a better life elsewhere, boarding a boat to Europe that sank off Malta last week.

In one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks on record, the boat, with 500 people on board, was intentionally capsized by traffickers as it made its way from Egypt to Italy.

Only 10 people are known to have survived, among them four Palestinians from the 100 Gazans believed to have been on board. Yasser, a 23-year-old unemployed graduate, was not one of them.

Yasser’s story is far from unusual and explains why some Palestinians in Gaza are ready to risk everything to flee war and poverty in the coastal enclave, which was battered by a devastating seven-week Israeli aggression that ended late last month. … continue

Hamas: Immigration shameful, anti-patriotic venture

Palestine Information Center – 18/09/2014

GAZA – Hamas spoke out on Wednesday against Palestinians’ mass-departure to Europe, dubbing it a “shameful, anti-patriotic, and anti-religious” venture that has to be ceased by all means.

Hamas voiced its deep sorrow over the tragic fate wrought on the shipwrecked Palestinians killed en route to Italy.

Hamas held the Israeli occupation fully responsible for the tragedy, which is a direct upshot of the 51-day long offensive. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were forced to embark on a journey fraught with much danger and run the risk of death in search for better humanitarian conditions. … Full article

Elderly Palestinian fisherman wounded in Israeli navy shooting

Palestine Information Center – 18/09/2014

GAZA – A 70-year-old Palestinian fisherman was injured by Israeli navy fire while waiting for the return of his sons from sea on the shores of Sudaniya in northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday night.

Local sources said that Yousef Zayed, 70, suffered bullet injuries, which were described as “moderate” by medical staff.

The incident is the latest in the series of Israeli violations of the ceasefire agreement signed on August 26 with Egyptian mediation.

US refuses Abbas’ initiative to end occupation

MEMO | September 18, 2014

The US has rejected an initiative set out by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to set a time frame to end the Israeli occupation, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported diplomatic sources as saying today.

The sources said the US’ Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Bauer informed the group that her country “does not welcome the initiative”.

Representatives of Abbas’ government are in the process of conducting consultations on the initiative as a prelude to the formulation of a draft resolution to the UN Security Council for a vote after listening to the feedback of all the states prior to the annual session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York this month.

The sources added that permanent members of the Security Council lead by the United States “told us that they do not support the idea. Some permanent members also said they are undecided about the initiative, especially after the US’ refusal of it.”

Abbas’ initiative set out plans to resume negotiations with Israel within nine months and for the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories in no more than three years.

Israeli occupation forces destroy water networks and launch assault on farmers

MEMO | September 18, 2014

Israeli occupation forces issued on Wednesday a decree banning farmers from irrigating agriculture on their stepped lands in Atov, located in eastern Tubas city in the occupied West Bank, threatening to arrest any citizen who cultivates his or her land.

Palestine’s Safa news agency reported that occupation forces destroyed the water system three days ago that the farmers of the area had connected to their lands, in continuation of a policy that deprives the Atov area of all kinds of infrastructure.

The president of the Atov Council told Safa that, “Arresting and threatening the farmers today is the second step following the destruction of the water network,” pointing out that the goal of the occupation forces is to exercise full control over Atov and Al-Bakya’a.

He added that dozens of people were taken to Tyaseer camp today after their identity cards had been confiscated merely because they were working in the agricultural lands of the region. … Full article

Israeli Army Seizes Agricultural Equipment Near Tubas

IMEMC News & Agencies | September 17, 2014

According to local sources, the Israeli army, on Wednesday, seized privately-owned Palestinian tractors and agricultural equipment in ar-Ras al-Ahmar, a small village to the east of Tubas in northern West Bank.

WAFA reports that soldiers stormed the village in the early morning hours, ordering farmers to produce their identity cards for them. The soldiers then seized their tractors and other equipment, and took them to a nearby military outpost.

Rabih Khendagji, the governor of Tubas, reportedly condemned the Israeli crackdown on the village and its farmers, describing it as an attempt to devastate the agricultural sector in favor of settlement expansion purposes.

Just a few days ago, the army seized water lines and irrigation networks in the area, according to village mayor, Bashar Bani Odeh, who stressed that residents will remain steadfast in their land despite all Israeli attempts to force them to leave their land.

RelatedWest Bank: Israeli Forces Close Agricultural Roads, Confiscate Water Pipes

Israeli FM Refusing to Cooperate with UN Fact-finding Mission

20140803_001-7e651f6d5fIMEMC News & Agencies | September 17, 2014

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has expressed a refusal to cooperate with the fact-finding mission with regard to the recent Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip coordinated by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, say Israeli reports.

According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the Ministry recently made recommendations not to cooperate with the UN mission.

Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that the Israeli Foreign Ministry wonders if it should cooperate with a fact finding mission which relies on an “anti-Israeli majority”.

The sources said that “Israel did not cooperate with Goldstone. As a result, his report was disappeared.” … continue

Indictment in case of US citizen beaten by Israeli soldiers an anomaly

By Jessica Purkiss | MEMO | September 16, 2014

Last Wednesday Israeli Police filed an indictment against an officer who was filmed beating Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15 year old Palestinian-American teenager from Florida. He was beaten and arrested during a demonstration to protest the brutal murder of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir. On 2nd July 16 year old Mohammed was abducted and burned alive by Israeli extremists in supposed revenge for the killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Tariq’s bruised face caused outrage in the United States and the State Department called for a “speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force” used against the American teen. As a result of mounting pressure from the US, Tariq was released and able to fly home just under two weeks after the ordeal.

Speaking at a press conference following the news of the charges filed, Abu Khdeir and his mother called it “groundbreaking.” Suha Abu Khdeir, the boy’s mother, said it was “a shame that in order for [Israeli authorities] to take action it had to be an American citizen that this happened to.” They believe that the charges were only filed because the incident was recorded and because Tariq is a citizen of the United States.

In sharp contrast, at the time US pressure was mounting for the soldiers behind Tariq’s beating to be held accountable, Israeli General Danny Efrni, closed the investigation into the killing of Yousef Sami Shawamreh. … continue

Forget Pinkwashing; Israel Has a Lavender Scare

By Corey Robin | September 17, 2014

Speaking of McCarthyism, 43 veterans of an elite Israeli intelligence unit have not only come out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians but declared that they will no longer “take part in the state’s actions against Palestinians.” The intelligence on Palestinians that they gathered, they claim, “is used for political persecution,” which “does not allow for people to lead normal lives, and fuels more violence, further distancing us from the end of the conflict.” According to the Times:

In the testimony and in interviews, though, the Unit 8200 veterans described exploitative activities focused on innocents whom Israel hoped to enlist as collaborators. They said information about medical conditions and sexual orientation were among the tidbits collected. They said that Palestinians lacked legal protections from harassment, extortion and injury.

One of the hallmarks of a repressive state, particularly in the twentieth century, is the use of blackmail against gays and lesbians in order to get them to collaborate and inform on their friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and other potential or actual dissidents. The Stasi was notorious for turning gays and lesbians into collaborators (see pp. 567ff); one of the key figures in Timothy Garton Ash’s The File—Schuldt—is just such an informant. So pervasive was the use of this type of blackmail during the Cold War that it also figured prominently on the US side: one of the main justifications proffered for drumming out gays and lesbians from the federal government during the McCarthy era was that they were susceptible to being blackmailed by the Soviets. Though no one ever found a single instance of that.

Now here comes news that the Israeli state is doing the same thing among Palestinians. It will be interesting to see how the people who were so rightly appalled by the Stasi’s recruitment of gays and lesbians to a repressive state apparatus—including Israel defenders like James Kirchick—and who routinely hold up Israel’s record on gays and lesbians as a measure of its freedom and democracy (critics of Israel call that “pinkwashing”) will rationalize this away.

Occupy group abolishes nearly $4 million in student loan debt

RT | September 17, 2014

On the third anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, an offshoot group announced that it has erased $3.8 million worth of private student loan debt.

The group, Strike Debt, said in a press release issued on Wednesday this week that its Rolling Jubilee initiative has purchased nearly $4 million in private student debt owed by former attendees of Everest College — an institution run by the massive for-profit education company Corinthian Colleges — in turn freeing those former students from a huge chunk of the burdensome loan bills.

“Jubilant Greetings!” the group wrote to 2,700 former Everest students. “We are writing to you with good news: We just got rid of some of your Everest College debt!”

“Everest College is committing widespread fraud,” the letter continues. “It targets lower-income students and students of color, offers low quality education and — with the help of the federal government — buries students under a lifetime of crushing debt, all to profit the one percent. No one should be forced to mortgage their future for an education.” … continue

Venezuela ranks fifth in the world in the number of university students

teleSUR | September 17, 2014

This Monday 2,630,000 Venezuelan students resumed their studies in public or private universities. The total number of students at the highest level shows a striking 294 percent rise in the last 14 years, from 894,418 students in the year 2000.

Venezuela now ranks fifth in the world in the number of students studying at the university level, thanks to the educational expansion and democratization achieved in the process known as the Bolivarian Revolution, say educational authorities. … Full article

Spanish Government Threatens to Suspend Catalonia’s Autonomy

Prensa Latina | September 16, 2014

Madrid – The Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, threatened today to suspend Catalonia”s autonomy if its President, Artur Mas, continues preparations to hold a sovereignty referendum.
Responding to questions from the press on the possible application of the article 155 of the Constitution concerning the withdrawal of autonomy, Margallo acknowledged that whichever means necessary will be applied to prevent a referendum in Catalonia.

“The government will use all legal means in its power to prevent a secession referendum. All the law and only the law”, stressed the head of the Spanish diplomacy, quoted in the newspaper El País. … Full article

Reported US-Syrian Accord on Air Strikes

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 17, 2014

The Obama administration, working through the Russian government, has secured an agreement from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to permit U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State targets in parts of Syria, according to a source briefed on the secret arrangements.

The reported agreement would clear away one of the chief obstacles to President Barack Obama’s plan to authorize U.S. warplanes to cross into Syria to attack Islamic State forces – the concern that entering Syrian territory might prompt anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian government’s missile batteries. … continue

Who’s Your Daddy, ISIS?

By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Radio | September 17, 2014

Let us be clear, if that is possible, about President Obama’s plan to deal with ISIS, the boogeyman of America’s own making. The president last week swore that he would “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State, after having spent three years providing weapons and money to jihadists fighters, including ISIS, in hopes that they would “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Syrian state of president Bashar Assad. So, the Americans set out to destroy one state, in Syria, whose government had never presented any danger to the U.S., and wind up creating another state, a caliphate astride the borders of Syria and Iraq, that openly declares its intention to do battle with the U.S.

Obama assures us that he is assembling a new coalition of the willing to join him in smashing ISIS. It turns out that every prospective member of the coalition was a co-conspirator with the United States in giving birth to ISIS – Britain and France and other Europeans, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates… ISIS has many, many fathers, all of whom now deny patrimony. … continue

US-led airstrike leaves 8 people dead in east Afghanistan

Press TV – September 17, 2014

At least eight people have been killed in a fresh airstrike by US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Laghman. [...]

The development comes amid an intensified campaign of airstrikes by US-led foreign forces mainly in eastern Afghanistan.

On September 14, an airstrike by a US assassination drone claimed the lives of at least two people in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar. … Full article

Obama’s Ebola military operation raises concern in Africa

Press TV – September 17, 2014

The decision by US President Barack Obama to dispatch 3,000 troops to West Africa to fight the Ebola epidemic has sparked reactions in Liberia.

“We don’t need guns to protect us for now. What we need now is drugs. We need vaccine to curtail the spread of this virus. So it is unfortunate to hear that America is sending over 3,000 troops,” one Liberian citizen said.

“If it is an armed troop then I will start to question myself whether this virus can be fought by guns or so,” said another Liberian.

On Tuesday, Obama described the Ebola epidemic in West Africa as a threat to the entire world. … continue

Obama’s Lonely Climate Summit – world leaders are staying home

Watts Up With That? | September 16, 2014

Eric Worrall writes: The imminent climate summit in New York is rapidly turning into an utter embarrassment for President Obama and UN Secretary General Bank Ki-Moon, in addition to becoming a bit of a punishment round for national deputy leaders.

obama-fallsAussie PM Tony Abbott today defended his decision not to hop on an earlier flight to America, so he could attend the UN climate conference in New York, because he has more important matters to attend to, such as running the country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they likely won’t attend the summit.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated he will not be attending.

Even Angela Merkel, President of über green Germany, will not be attending the UN climate summit.

Missouri Cops Tases Teen, Son of Cop, for Recording, Leaving him in Critical Condition

By Carlos Miller | Photography is Not a Crime | September 16, 2014

A Missouri cop tased a teenager who was recording him during a traffic stop before yanking him out of the car, handcuffing him, then dropping him on his face on a sidewalk, sending the young man into bloody convulsions where he is now hospitalized in a coma.

Independence police officer Tim Runnels was upset that Bryce Masters, a son of a Kansas City cop, was sitting in the passenger seat of a car but had refused to roll down his window.

Masters told him the window was broken, but that, of course, angered the cop, who then ordered the teen out of the car.

That is when Masters began recording, according to a friend and witness who heard him ask, “what am I being arrested for?”.

Bryce-MastersWithin seconds, the cop pulled him out of the car, tased, handcuffed and dropped him on his face where blood came out of his mouth. A friend and witness captured on video the tail end of the incident where he plopped a handcuffed Masters down, then placed his foot on top of his body.

It is reported that he stopped breathing for five minutes.

Several witnesses say the cop abused his power, but Independence police started up the Police PR Spin Machine and insisted that Masters was fighting them viciously, making them all fear for their lives, which is why they had to tase him.

The answer probably lies in Master’s camera, but what are the odds that the footage will even be protected?

Cops had pulled the car over for a minor traffic warrant. … Full article

Who is Behind the Islamic State Beheadings? Probing the SITE Intelligence Group

By James F. Tracy | Global Research | September 15, 2014

Since mid-August 2014 major news organizations have conveyed videos allegedly found online by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Unsurprisingly the same media have failed to closely interrogate what the private company actually is and whether the material it promotes should be accepted as genuine. … continue

‘French anti-terror law may target innocent people and websites’

Abbas’ spurious charges

By Nicola Nasser | Al-Ahram | September 11, 2014

The campaign launched by Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah movement against Hamas amounts to a betrayal not only of Palestinian public opinion, but Palestinian national interests, writes Nicola Nasser … continue

Netanyahu seeks military budget hike after costly war in Gaza

PCHR: Gaza detainees underwent ‘torture’ in Israeli custody

Ma’an – 16/09/2014

image006The Palestinian Center for Human rights said Tuesday that its lawyers confirmed that at least four Palestinians who were arrested during Israel’s assault on Gaza were subjected to “torture” during their detention period.

PCHR lawyers visited four detainees in Ashkelon prison, and said they had undergone beatings or had been shackled between two chairs for long hours in a method known as “Shabeh,” a statement said.

It said Israeli forces detained dozens of Palestinian civilians during the seven-week Gaza offensive, 31 of whom were transferred to Israeli prisons.

Four of the imprisoned detainees were released while 26 remain in custody and are accused of being members of armed groups.

One of them was charged with being an “illegitimate combatant.”

According to international law, members of armed resistance groups are considered prisoners of war, and bills of indictment cannot be presented against them, the statement added.

The recently dissolved Ministry of Prisoner Affairs said in August that 200 Palestinians had been detained in Gaza while Israeli forces conducted a land invasion in Gaza, but that some of them had been released. … continue

Poll: Only 10 percent of Gazans would vote for Abbas in presidential election

Al-Akhbar | September 16, 2014

Only 10 percent of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would vote for current President Mahmoud Abbas if presidential elections were held today, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Gaza-based House of Wisdom Institute, indicates that 29.8 percent of Gazans would vote for senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh, while 28 percent would vote for jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.

Interestingly, 32.4 percent would choose a different candidate.

The majority of those surveyed thought the Israeli assault unified Palestinians, but expected Hamas-Fatah disputes to continue in the aftermath of the war.

Regarding the Israeli assault on Gaza, 73.6 percent were satisfied with the performance of the different resistance groups. … continue

After the Ceasefire

By Omar Robert Hamilton | London Review of Books | September 12, 2014

On 26 August a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was agreed, bringing a fragile end to a war that killed 2150 Palestinians (mostly civilians) and 73 Israelis (mostly soldiers). Since then Hamas has not fired a single rocket, attacked an Israeli target, or done anything to break the terms of the ceasefire. Israel has done the following… continue

UN: Rebuilding Syria, Iraq and Gaza will cost $750bn

man-overlooks-destruction-and-rubble-of-buildings-and-homes-in-gazaMEMO | September 16, 2014

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said yesterday that rebuilding war-torn Syria, Iraq and Gaza will cost around $750 billion.

The war in Syria has caused the destruction of a great deal of residential, educational and industrial facilities. In Iraq, clashes with the Islamic State (ISIS) damaged hundreds of buildings in the north and east of the country.

Meanwhile, Israel destroyed more than 60,000 residential, educational and industrial facilities during 51 days of massive strikes on civilians in Gaza. … Full article

UN troops withdraw from Syrian Golan

Ma’an – 16/09/2014

GOLAN HEIGHTS (AFP) — Hundreds of UN troops withdrew from the Syrian to the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan on Monday, an AFP correspondent said, two weeks after al-Qaeda-linked rebels kidnapped dozens of peacekeepers.

They crossed in a UN convoy in the afternoon into the Israeli-occupied sector, the correspondent said.

The peacekeepers in the Golan Heights withdrew to the Israeli side after Syrian fighters advanced near their positions, a UN spokesman said. … Full article

Ukraine and EU ratify landmark Association Agreement

RT | September 16, 2014

​Ukraine and the EU parliaments simultaneously ratified the economic and political parts of the Association Agreement that will strengthen ties between Kiev and Brussels. Economic integration is postponed until the end of 2015.

The document was approved at 1:00pm in Kiev and there was a synchronous signing session in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Ukraine’s Rada voted 355 votes in favor out of 381 total, and the European Parliament supported the ratification with 535 ‘yes’ votes and 127 against, with 26 abstaining. … continue

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