Ismail Abu Judah, Shahir Abu Shanab, and Abd al-Shafi Muammar.
GAZA CITY – An Israeli airstrike killed three Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, an official said.
Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an that three Palestinian resistance fighters were killed by the airstrike in southeast Khan Younis near the Sufa crossing.
Al-Qidra identified the victims as Ismail Abu Judah, 23, Shahir Abu Shanab, 24, and 33-year-old Abd al-Shafi Muammar.
The bodies were taken to the European Hospital in Khan Younis, al-Qidra said.
Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, said in a statement that the victims were militants affiliated to the group.
“They were in confrontation with the occupation trying to stop the progress of Israeli military vehicles which were approaching the area,” the statement said.
The Israeli army said in a statement that “terrorists affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the southern Gaza Strip fired a mortar shell at IDF forces.”
“An IAF aircraft responded immediately in order to prevent further attacks on Israeli civilians and targeted the terrorist squad. Direct hits were confirmed, the army statement said.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, an Israeli drone fell in the area of the attack.
The airstrikes came just hours after Palestinian security sources said a man died after Israeli soldiers fired at him while he was driving near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.
The Israeli army also killed two Palestinians in the West Bank on Monday.
Israeli soldiers shot and killed 18-year-old Saji Darwish near Ramallah late Monday, after he allegedly threw stones at Israeli vehicles.
Earlier, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian-Jordanian judge at the Allenby Bridge crossing with Jordan.
By Friends of Al-Aqsa November 7, 2013
The need to boycott Israel is growing
The call for boycotting Israel has grown significantly in recent years. The main purpose of this global campaign is to bring Israel to account for its human rights violations against Palestinians. The reason such civil action is necessary is because governments around the world with the power to intervene have repeatedly failed to utilise international legal apparatus in to hold Israel to account for its crimes.
However, successful boycott campaigns have revealed that ordinary people do have the power to act and respond to Palestinian calls for intervention. The destruction of Palestinian infrastructure through Israeli military assaults, routine demolitions of essential resources such as water wells, and blocking access to farmlands; means that Palestinians are unable to freely harvest their lands and bring their produce onto the markets. It is well documented that farmers are attacked by extremist settlers, and shot at by army personnel. Entire initiatives such as the Olive Cooperative have been built in response to these attacks, so that international solidarity activists can go to Palestine simply to help farmers harvest their crops and document the violent assaults some face on a daily basis.
Fishermen off the coast of Gaza face similar deadly assaults, this time from Israel’s naval vessels. Thus, peaceful farming or fishing is now a luxury for Palestinians, yet Israel is exporting its own produce globally and reaping the financial rewards for it. Its exploitation of stolen Palestinian lands in the West Bank should not be allowed to enter European markets and the boycott campaigns seek to highlight this.
The boycott of illegal settlement produce is becoming established. However, there is now also a move to boycott Israeli produce too, as Israeli companies have been found to breach EU food labelling regulations by labelling settlements goods as ‘produce of Israel’. By doing this, they mislead consumers into believing that the goods are legitimately farmed in Israel, instead of illegitimately farmed on stolen Palestinian land, often exploiting Palestinian labour.
Recent statistics reveal that illegal settlements profit from exporting their produce to Europe to the tune of 230 million Euros a year. When compared to Palestinian exports, this is fifteen times greater in value. Thus, the EU imports 100 times more produce per illegal Israeli settler than it does per legitimate Palestinian resident of the West Bank.
The success of the boycott campaigns reflects the feeling on the ground. Ordinary Brits do not want to be a part of Israel’s racist and illegal occupation policies, and they do not wish to support the illegal settlements by buying their produce.
British Politicians Oppose Boycott
Both the Conservatives and the Labour Party have both come out against boycott of Israel.
David Cameron stated in October 2012:
In a speech by David Cameron at the annual dinner of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, Cameron said on boycotting:
“And to those in Britain’s universities and trades unions who want to boycott Israel and consign it to an international ghetto, I say not only will this Government never allow you to shut down 60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership that does so much to make both our countries stronger but I also say this: we know what you are doing – trying to delegitimise the State of Israel – and we will not have it.”
The Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, recently stated ”it is not Labour policy to support boycotts. We would like to see even stronger economic ties with Israel’. His comments were reported on twitter following a London meeting on 7 February 2013.
European Consumer Labelling laws
The EU is considering making it illegal for Israel to sell produce from the illegal settlements labelled as ‘produce of Israel’. This would be a marked step towards obstructing settlements from profiting from the land they have stolen.
Produce to Boycott
Products to look out for are: dates, citrus fruits and herbs, and manufactured products including cosmetics, carbonation devices, plastics, textile products and toys.
Recently, Morrisons supermarket was found to be selling medjoul dates labelled as ‘Produce of Israel’ but which were in fact from illegal settlements.
1) Every time you go shopping, ‘Check the Label’ on the produce you buy. Ensure they are not from Israel, West Bank or Jordan Valley. If you do see produce from these places, take a photo and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org detailing the store and location.
2) If you find produce from Israel, West Bank or Jordan Valley ask to speak to the store Manager and explain that the produce are from illegal Israeli Settlements as they are grown on land that has been stolen from Palestinians. Ask for them to be removed from the shelves and for them not to be stocked again. Please also ask for the suppliers name if it is not clear as this is useful information. Email your experience to email@example.com
3) If you do not want to approach the Manager whilst you are shopping, contact the stores Head office on their customer service number/email explaining your concern.
Tesco Customer Service Centre, Baird Avenue, Dundee, DD1 9NF
08457 22 55 33
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT
0800 636 262
0800 188 884
Customer service enquiries – 0845 611 6111
General or corporate enquiries – 0845 611 5000
By Post: Customer Service Department, Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC, Hilmore House, Gain Lane, Bradford, BD3 7DL
General Enquiries: 0800 952 0101
Write to: Customer Service, ASDA House, Southbank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds LS11 5AD
Holly Lane, Atherstone, Warwickshire CV9 2SQ
0844 406 8800
0870 444 1234
|Cultural Boycott as a Political Tool; Impact and Importance|
By Reham Alhelsi • April 18, 2009
Every year, on April 17, Palestinians commemorate the Palestinian Political Prisoners Day. On 17.4.1974 the first Palestinian political prisoner, Mahmoud Baker Hijazi, was released from Israeli prisons in the first prisoner exchange deal with Israel. That same year, the Palestinian National Council declared the 17th of April a day of solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners, to be commemorated every year. In Occupied Palestine prison and imprisonment are as common as sunrise and sunset. There is almost no family that had not been subjected to Israeli imprisonment one way or the other. Palestinians are being detained on a daily basis, making them the most imprisoned people on earth. It is difficult to estimate their number, but several sources put the number of Palestinians detained or imprisoned by Israel since 1967 at over 750,000 Palestinians, making 20% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories, and approximately 40% of the total Palestinian male population. With the outbreak of the 2nd Intifada in September 2000 until September 2008 some 65,000 men, 750 women and 7,500 children were arrested by Israel. According to the ICRC, in October 2008 there were 10,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Addammeer puts the number at 9,493, 750 of which are administrative detainees, 349 aged 18 and under, and 75 are females. Among those detained are political figures and some 47 Palestinians parliamentarians.
The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) can arrest anyone and anywhere, without giving a reason. Palestinians are arrested at home, on the way to school or work, at universities, in hospitals, at checkpoints. Mass arrests, as form of collective punishment, are also very common. Curfews would be imposed on villages, towns or refugees camps, houses would be raided and Palestinians arrested. I have witnesses a number of these mass arrests, but never did the IOF bother to tell the residents why they were forced to leave their homes in the middle of the night and stand in the cold and the darkness for long hours. Under the cover of darkness and the curfew, the IOF would demand with loudspeakers that all men, usually those between 16 and 45, gather in the school yard or on the main street. We used to sit in the darkness at the windows and try and recognize the men standing in line and questioned by the IOF; relatives, friends and neighbours. Sometimes the men are blindfolded and handcuffed. They would wait for this to end, while being harassed, shouted at and kicked by the Israeli soldiers. We would wait with them, behind windows, hoping that they would all be released soon and come home safe. Sometimes, they are all sent back home after a night of harassment, but often this ends with mass arrest for no given reason.
Another form of collective punishment is house arrests. I have witnessed so many house arrests, and all were accompanied by violence and harassment and the wilful destruction of property by the IOF. They would turn the house over, destroying the furniture and even the food, as if the person they are searching for would be hiding in the wheat or the sugar, and if there was any money or valuables in the house, it was sure they would never be found again after the IOF had left the house. Family members trying to protect their home or their children are beaten. We would tell them that the person they are looking for is not in the house, we would try and reason with them, but it is all useless. They come on a mission to harass, destroy and arrest. Often I thought they knew they wouldn’t find what or who they are looking for, and that the whole operation of house raid is purely to punish the family and pressure it to hand over their son. During such house searches, the IOF would push us against the wall, kick us with their boots and beat us with the butts of their rifles. They didn’t care that they were beating children and elderly.
Upon arrest, detainees are often blindfolded and handcuffed. Not only is the detainee physically abused and humiliated, but other members of the family as well. Also, it is common practice by the IOF to use family members as human shields during such raids. The detainee is taken without informing the family about where he is taken to. Usually it takes days, if not more, before the family finds out where a detainee is. There are many incidents where families realized that their sons were in a certain prison months after they were arrested, and only after another detainee was released and informed that family about their son. One summer afternoon, my uncle and I were playing football in the garden. He was on the IOF list of wanted persons and was staying in our house. Nearby, there was a huge fruit tree, and when I was a child my father told me as way of a joke that a soldier was buried under that tree. At nights, when the leaves of the tree would move with the wind, I used to imagine the sound they made the murmuring of that soldier, and with all the Russian books we had in our library, I gave that imaginary soldier the name Yuri. My uncle and I made bets as to who would win the football game, we joked and laughed and I remember telling my uncle that Yuri would come and take him. After I explained to him what I was talking about, he said: I think you mean Uri and not Yuri, meaning that if any soldier came to take him away, it would be an Israeli soldier, not a Russian. That night at 2 in the morning, I was awakened by hurrying footsteps outside the window. The minute I fully woke up and stood, there was loud knocking on the front door. My father asked who it was, and removed the side of the curtain to see who stood outside. Standing near him, I could see the face of my grandfather and behind him nothing but darkness, complete darkness. The minute my grandfather said it was him, my father opened the door immediately, only to see grandfather practically thrown inside the house. In a matter of seconds, the house was full of IOF soldiers, some in army uniform, others in civil uniform. They had finally figured out were my uncle was hiding and had come to arrest him. They brought my grandfather, an old man, in the middle of the night as a human shield, in case anything happened. My uncle was still in bed, and the minute the Bethlehem area commander saw him, he jumped on the bed and held his throat in his arms, wanting to strangle him, shouting repeatedly: you were here the whole time. My mother tried to get them off my uncle, but the commander pushed her away. And while my uncle was putting on his clothes and shoes, the commander was slapping him and kicking him. The other area commander, responsible for Sawahreh and the surroundings, told his colleague not to do any beating in his area, meaning that since the prisoner was from the Bethlehem area, the beating was okay once they reached that area. I remember we had a huge poster on the wall, one of “Guevara Gaza”, and the commander asked my sister if she knew who it was. The name was written on the poster for all to see, so when she replied yes, he ordered her to remove the poster. When they left, we realized that they had surrounded the whole area around our house. IOF vehicles had blocked the way in case anyone thought of escaping, and I am sure that if an ant moved in the darkness that night, it would have been shot dead immediately. My uncle was taken to interrogation and tortured to confess to things he never did, and when they failed to get a confession from him, he was held in administrative detention, which is a detention without trial or charge, often used by Israel. When he was finally released, he told us that they couldn’t wait for the interrogation to start the torture, and that he was beaten by the soldiers all the way from Sawahreh till they reached the Israeli detention facility.
Sometimes, injured or sick prisoners are taken from their homes, from hospitals, or after being wounded in a demonstration. They rarely get the needed medical help, and often get Aspirin as treatment for everything. Health examinations are conducted through a fence and additional medical treatment or hospital transfers are often postponed for long periods of time. Withholding medical treatment is one method used to pressure detainees into collaboration. There are more than 800 Palestinian detainees who suffer from bad health conditions, much of which as a result of the arrest or the interrogation. According to Palestinian researcher Abdul-Naser Farawna, 196 Palestinian detainees have died in Israeli prisons since 1967 due to medical negligence and torture, 49 of whom died due to medical negligence. Alone last year, 2 detainees died because they were not given the needed medical assistance. During the 2nd Intifada 72 Palestinian detainees have died in detention, 17 due to medical negligence, 3 as a result of torture, 51 were executed by the IOF after being arrested and 1 prisoner was killed during prison protests.
Often Palestinians are arrested for breaking one of the over 2,000 military orders governing the Occupied Palestinian Territories, some of which they have never heard of before their arrest. Women and children are often arrested to pressure detained family members into confessing or pressure other family members wanted by Israel to hand themselves in. The Palestinian Prisoners Society reports that between September 2000 and September 2008 some 750 women and 7,500 Palestinian children were arrested by Israel. In September 2008 there were 69 Palestinian female political prisoners held in Israeli prisons, 2 of them in solitary confinement and 5 in administrative detention. There are 6 female child prisoners and 4 detainees imprisoned as well as their husbands. One detainee has her baby with her who was born in prison. Palestinian female prisoners are placed in 2 Israeli prisons: Hasharon-Telmond and Neve Tertza prison, where they are detained in the same section as Israeli female criminals accused of murder, drug use and prostitution. Like Palestinian male prisoners, Palestinian female prisoners face torture and humiliation. Strip search, brutal body searches and sexual harassment are frequent.
Contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines a child as being under 18, Israeli military orders consider a child over 16 an adult, to be treated, tried and sentenced as such. In practice, Palestinian children as young as 12 may be arrested, charged and sentenced in Israeli military courts, since there are no juvenile courts. According to several reports, there are over 400 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons today, including 7 girls and 6 administrative detainees. These child detainees are aged between 13 and 18, more than 54 of whom are not older than 16. They are detained in Israeli prisons together with adults. 50 of these child prisoners are held in Ofer, 100 in Magiddo, 7 in Atzion, 22 in the Negev, 105 in Hasharon-Telmond and the rest in other prison facilities. Today, more than 450 Palestinian adult prisoners were children upon arrest and turned 18 in Israeli prisons. Like adult prisoners, Palestinian child prisoners are subjected to physical and psychological torture to extract confessions from them. During interrogation, they are not allowed to have any family member or a lawyer attending. Although I was practically a child when arrested, I was placed in a small empty room. I had been separated from my sister, and didn’t know where they had taken her. I stood waiting for a life sign from anyone, and I didn’t know how long I stood there, but I remember well how tired I was of standing and how thirsty I was. After some time, I could hear the cries of a boy in the room next to where I was. I thought, they were either torturing him or someone was making these noises to make me scared before it was my turn to be interrogated. I kept thinking of everything I ever heard, of how to keep still, stay brave and remember that they are only playing games with us to scare us into confessing to things we didn’t do. When I was finally led into a room with a number of IOF soldiers, all males, the soldier in charge checked my school bag and found my biology textbook. He looked through the book and saw a drawing of the anatomy of a human tooth. He showed it to me and asked smirking in a disgusting way if I knew what it was. I knew what it was and knew what he thought it was and what his plan was by asking me about it. At that moment I didn’t feel scared anymore, because I realized how stupid they are. Not only didn’t he know it was a tooth, the textbook was in English and it was written below the drawing what it was, but most probably he didn’t know a word of English and was acting so superior. I looked at him and said: yes, this is a tooth. My suspicions were confirmed when, upon not believing me, he asked one of the other soldiers in the room and the other confirmed what I said.
Child prisoners are held up in overcrowded cells, face torture and solitary confinement and don’t receive the needed medical treatment. In the last couple of months there has been an increase in the number of Palestinian children arrested. They are either arrested at home, at checkpoints or in streets, and are often accused of throwing stones without any proof. DCI-Palestine reports that the number of children brought before Israeli military courts in pre-trial hearing in the first two weeks of January was twice as high as in 2008. It added that its legal department receives a monthly average of 10 to 15 new cases of children for legal representation in Military courts, and that alone for the first two weeks of January 2009 it received 10 new cases. In one incident, 7 children were arrested in Toura Al Gharbieh in Jenin on 20.1.2009 and were detained at the Salim detention and interrogation centre. Two of the children were 12, two 13, two were 15 and the last 17 years old. Under pressure and with no lawyer present, the children confessed they had thrown stones at the Apartheid Wall. In another incident, during an invasion of Hares in the West Bank on the night of 12/13.3.2009, the IOF arrested a 17 year old boy suffering from kidney malfunction.
Palestinians prisoners are held in facilities run by the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) or the IDF. There are 30 detention centres that include 21 prisons and military camps, 5 detention and holding centres and 4 interrogation centres. Also, there is at least one known secret prison, Facility 1391, which is renowned for its severe torture methods. The exact location of this prison is unknown and lawyers and the ICRC have no access to it. The majority of these facilities are located outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and transferring Palestinian prisoners to these facilities constitutes a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, and making family visits almost impossible. Some of these facilities are buildings while others are tents within military camps like the Ketzion Military prison camp in the Negev, exposing detainees to harsh weather conditions. They are all overcrowded, with little hygiene, prisoners have to sleep on wooden planks and covers are often provided by the families or human rights organizations. The food provided is insufficient and of poor quality. Palestinian detainees have to live in appalling conditions in these facilities, are humiliated and subjected to inhuman treatment. In some cases, detainees are deported, either abroad or to the Gaza Strip. After the siege of the Nativity Church in 2003, Israel deported 13 Palestinian detainees to Europe and 26 to the Gaza Strip. During the Gaza war, hundreds of Palestinian civilians were arrested, including minors. They were handcuffed and blindfolded, and had nothing to shelter them from the harsh weather. Many held for days in pits dug in the ground. Reports added that some of the detainees were held near tanks and in combat area, making them human shields for the IOF.
Prison visits usually take the whole day, although the visit itself lasts less than an hour. We would set off in the very early morning, when it was dark outside and everyone else was still sleeping. The bus of the ICRC would be full with Palestinians from everywhere, mostly elderly women and children, all anxious to see their relatives. And before we would finally be able to see our loved ones, we would undergo one checkpoint after the other and one search after the other. I remember during one visit, when we were finally allowed into the visit room, I walked quickly looking for my uncle. I hadn’t seen him in years, and after I finally sat opposite him, we started talking through the barbed wire. We were both so happy. It was after a few minutes that someone from my family came and told me to come and say hello to my uncle. I was talking to the wrong person, and I was so embarrassed I didn’t even say goodbye or look back to see if that prisoner had any visitors that day. Later, I thought he too might have not seen his family since so long that he too mistook me for a relative, or maybe he was just anxious to speak to someone. During another visit, I remember sitting and talking to my uncle and at the same time trying to ignore the rain drops that were seeping through the roof and hitting me on the head and running down my face. My uncle must have found it amusing, because every time a raindrop would hit me in the face he would smile, but I would ignore it and continue talking, and by the end of the visit my hair was totally soaked and I was freezing. There was no possibility of kissing or hugging a relative, and the only thing we could do in way of shaking hands was to stretch our fingers through the barbed net separating us. Saying goodbye was always difficult, because we knew we were going back to our homes, to the relatively bigger prison, while leaving them behind in the small overcrowded cells. And when we finally reached home, it would be dark again and most people would be sleeping, a day spent between checkpoints and searches for a 45 minute visit of loved ones.
One time, on the way to my aunt’s house in Dheisheh, a friend of mine and I passed a young man, who was walking up and down one narrow alley of the refugee camp. The man was most probably mid twenty and was good looking. He was walking that alley and was arguing with someone. I looked around and saw no one in the whole area. I looked up to see if he was addressing someone sitting at a window or on the roof, but could see no one. I pointed the man to my friend, who told me not to worry. She said the young man had been recently released from an Israeli prison, where he was tortured. Since then he had been roaming the streets of Dheisheh, arguing with an invisible friend. As I listened closer, I realized he was talking politics with himself, discussing the occupation and life in prison. They had not released him, for he was still in that Israeli cell, being tortured every minute. Last winter when I was in Palestine, I wanted to take some photos of old UNRWA rooms, built for the Palestinians in 1949. Most old UNRWA rooms were being destroyed to build new houses, and I wanted to keep a record of the last remaining rooms that are a synonym to the Nakba and refugee camps. The wife of one of my uncles accompanied me in my search since she was born and grew up in Dheisheh and knew where to find a few old rooms. Most of these tiny rooms are deserted now, standing empty near larger family houses. I would take photos from the outside and if the room had no door or the door was open, I would take photos from the inside. As we came to inspect one room, we were surprised to find an old man lying on the ground, wrapped in a torn out winter coat. The old man opened his eyes as he saw us, he made a move as if to stand up, but my uncle’s wife told him not to leave and apologized for disturbing him, since we thought the room was deserted. A few minutes later, my mother’s aunt saw us invited us for some tea. Inside, we told her about the old man, and as she and my uncle’s wife talked about the old man and giving him something to eat and warm himself, since they knew who he was, I realized it must be the young man I saw long time ago. He was still imprisoned in that cell, a whole life wasted, and all I could do was to shake my head at the injustice of it all.
Under international humanitarian law, torture is strictly forbidden. The world was shocked when the torture in Abu Ghreib came to light, there were condemnations from everywhere and demands were made to close that prison. But the Zionist state, which conducts one war crime after the other, never hesitates in using torture. The forms of torture used in Abu Ghreib were not new to Palestinians, because they have been used since decades by the IPS against Palestinians. Was it not revealed that Israeli IOF and Shin Bet interrogators were hired by the Pentagon to brutally interrogate prisoners in Abu Ghreib? Was it not revealed that the American interrogates implicated in the torture had attended an “anti terror” training camp in Israel, and that many of the torture methods used in Abu Ghreib resembled those applied by Israel against Palestinian detainees? Much is documented about torture in Israeli prisons, but we rarely hear of any condemnation or demand to close these torture facilities. According to B’Tselem, 85% of the Palestinian detainees have been subjected to torture, adding that “Since 1987, the GSS (Israeli General Security Service) interrogated at least 850 Palestinians a year by means of torture …. (a)ll governmental authorities – from the Israeli army to the Supreme court – take part in approving torture, in developing new methods, and in supervising them.” In 1999 the Israeli High Court superficially outlawed the use of arbitrary torture as an interrogation method, but in reality it did not ban it and till today torture is still used by Israel. Physical ill treatment combined with humiliation begins with the arrest, whether at home or in the street. Palestinian detainees can be interrogated for 180 days, and can be denied a lawyer for a period of 60 days. During interrogation, torture is used and has led to the death of the detainee in some cases and confessions extracted under torture are admissible in Israeli courts.
Palestinians may be held for days without being brought before a judge or informed of the reason for the arrest, during which they are interrogated, which can last up to 180 days, or are administratively detained. Administrative detention is a detention without trial or charge or the continuation of imprisonment after the completion of a sentence. It is often used by Israel and is authorized by an administrative order of the IOF rather than by a judicial decree. Israeli Military Order 1229 of 1988 empowers IOF military commanders to detain Palestinians for up to 6 months, which can be extended indefinitely. Over the years, thousands of Palestinians, men and women and of all ages, have been held in administrative detention for periods ranging from 6 months to over 8 years, without being tried or charged. Families of detainees are not informed of a person’s arrest or the arrest location. Theoretically, detainees can appeal, but in reality neither they nor their lawyers are informed of the reason for the detention or examine the evidence, which makes defending their clients very difficult. The Orders governing administrative detention were also modified in 1999. MO 1466 – Temporary Order, Modification 13 states that a detainee must be brought before a military judge within 10 days of his arrest, and authorizing the military judge to approve, cancel or decrease the time of administrative detention order. This modification is also superficial, since the judges are military personnel who give legal legitimacy to the illegal actions of the IOF and the IPS. In reality, Palestinians are tried by Israeli military courts consisting of a panel of 3 judges appointed by the IOF. These judges often have no legal background and thus don’t fulfill international standards of a fair trial. Since the beginning of the 2nd intifada in September 2000 some 20,000 Palestinians were held in administrative detention. By April 2009 there were more than 560 Palestinian administrative detainees, held in Israeli prisons without trial. 372 of these detainees have been held without trial or charge for at least two consecutive periods, 47 of them for over two years, and 23 for over two and a half years including two who have been imprisoned for over four and a half years.
While a Palestinian may be held in custody for 18 days before being brought to a judge, an Israeli can be held in custody for a maximum of 48 hours before being brought before a judge. While a Palestinian can be held for 30 days without charges which can be extended indefinitely, an Israeli can be held for 15 days without a charge which can be extended for only another 15 days. Palestinians brought to court on accusation of murder are always convicted, even without evidence, and are always sentenced to life imprisonment. Most cases against Israeli soldiers or illegal Jewish settlers accused of murdering Palestinians are closed without any charges, even with the existence of evidence or witnesses. The few who do get sentenced are imprisoned for short periods ranging from 6 months to 7 and a half years or to community service. Palestinian Prisoners have been used by Israel at politically convenient moments, whereby Palestinians who had already served out their sentences with only a few days remaining would be released as “gestures of good will”. At the same time hundreds others would be arrested. For example, on 25.8.2008 Israel released 198 prisoners as a “gesture of good will”, however statistics for August 2008 show that another 338 Palestinians were arrested. Today there are some 81 “old detainees” i.e., detainees who are in continuous imprisonment since over 20 years, 2 of whom since over 30 years, and some 290 prisoners who have been in prison since over 15 years.
Although they have modern deadly weapons, are top recipients of military assistance, have their war crimes justified by a biased western media, and their interests protected by Zionist lobbies all over the world, the Zionists still fear us because they know we are the rightful owners of the land and that alone by existing we are defying them and their power and countering the myths and lies on which their state is built. Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman said on the release of Palestinian prisoners: “It would be better to drown these prisoners, in the Dead Sea if possible, since that’s the lowest point in the world.” They not only deny us our rights and our freedom, they want to kill our spirit and see us dead. What they haven’t understood by now is that the more they humiliate us, harass us, imprison us, take away our freedom from us, the more we value that freedom and the stronger becomes our belief in our just cause and our will to be free.
The agreement with MEKOROT in La Plata has been suspended! Now we continue, in the rest of Argentina…
CTA, ATE, Federación de Entidades Argentino-Palestinas (Federation of Argentinian-Palestinian Entities) and Stop the Wall announced the suspension of the shady business with Mekorot, a water treatment plant that would have fuelled Israeli apartheid in Palestine and sought to export it to La Plata in Argentina.
On January 11 2011, the governor of Buenos Aires province, Daniel Scioli, announced, after visiting Israel, that they would tender the building of a regional water treatment plant in La Plata. The contract worth US$170 million was awarded to a consortium of business conformed by the Israeli Water Company MEKOROT, ASHTROM BV (Spanish-Israeli firm) and the Argentinian “5 de Septiembre SA”, a company in which members of the Sindicato de Obras Sanitarias de Buenos Aires (SOSBA), which owns the 10% of the national and provincial Aguas de Buenos Aires (ABSA), participate.
Since 2011, Palestinian organizations, ATE-CTA unions, other civil society organizations and MPs mobilized against this contact. During more than 3 years, they informed the public about Mekorot’s criminal actions in Palestine and investigated the consequences that Mekorot would cause in Argentina.
In a joint effort, they denounced that public Argentinian money would benefit Mekorot and, through this, finance Israeli apartheid in Palestine. The accusations that Mekorot implements apartheid in Palestine are based on reports by Palestinian organizations, the United Nations, and Amnesty International.
Mekorot has been responsible for water right violations and discrimination since the 1950s, when the national water carrier was built which is diverting the Jordan river from the West Bank and Jordan to serve Israeli communities. At the same time, Mekorot deprives the Palestinian communities from access to water. The average consumption in the occupied Palestinian territories is about 70 liters per capita per day – well below the 100 liters per capita per day recommended by the World Health Organization -, while the Israeli consumption per capita per day is around 300 liters. Mekorot has refused to supply water to Palestinian communities inside Israel, despite a decision by the Supreme Court of Israel recognized their right to water. Mekorot is a proud partner of the Jewish National Fund “Blueprint Negev” plan, which will expel 40,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel uprooting them from their homes and forcibly moving them to reserves while their lands will be used for Jewish-only settlements in the Naqab/Negev.
Mekorot’s support for illegal settlements is vital and has continued since 1967 when the company took monopoly control over all water sources in the occupied Palestinian territories and caters to the Jewish settlements to the detriment of Palestinian communities. Mekorot participates in the international crime of pillage of natural resources operating about 42 wells in the West Bank, which mostly cater to Israeli settlements. Mekorot also works closely with the Israeli army in the confiscation of irrigation pipes from Palestinian farmers and destruction of sources of water supply for Palestinian communities.
Beyond the street protests and work in the media, the more than 1000 pages of research and technical details compiled by ATE-CTA, served to substantiate questions in the provincial parliament and allow interventions in front of federal human rights organizations. In late 2012, the construction of Mekorot water plant was suspended.
The organizations insisted that Mekorot intended to export its model of discrimination, squandering of water and illegitimate profits developed in Palestine, now to the detriment of the population of Buenos Aires.
To start with, the entire bid was based on a work plan that had previously been designed by Mekorot, which expectably proposed the lowest price.
The expenditure of public money for water treatment plant and the consequent debt of the city with multinationals is unnecessary as the province of Buenos Aires has excellent aquifers. Puelches Aquifer is saturated and to stop drinking its water – as the Mekorot project envisaged – would have produced the elevation of the water table, bacterial contamination, basement flooding and damage to housing foundations. Reports from the ABSA state that the main problem of drinking water lies in the distribution network for which Mekorot wouldn’t have provided a solution.
For the installation in the region, Mekorot required an increase in water tariffs, until almost tripling the costs. The construction of the plant, also implied a further increase of service that would have exceeded 30% and would be paid by all the users in the region.
In terms of water quality, it would have been below the standards determined by the Argentine Food Code. Only part of the population would have had access to safe drinking water while poorer people would have received only tap water posing a risk to their health.
CTA, ATE, Federación de las Entidades Argentina-Palestinos and Stop the Wall thank to all social and political organizations, experts and individuals who contributed to the campaign ‘Mekorot Out of Argentina’. Together we won an important victory for justice in Palestine and the right to water! We continue to fight for our sovereignty over water, against the violence of multinationals and in solidarity with the Palestinian people for freedom, justice and the return of refugees to their homes.
We ask everyone to continue supporting the global movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and to fight and prevent other Mekorot contracts in Argentina.
We ask everyone to join the International Week against Mekorot – from 22 to 30 March: “No to water apartheid, Yes for water justice!”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he did not commit to freezing settlement construction during his meeting with US President Barack Obama and that he will reject any agreement with the Palestinians that does not meet Israel’s security needs.
Israel Radio quoted Netanyahu on Friday, on his way back to Israel, telling Israeli journalists that he considered extending the negotiating period between the Israelis and Palestinians in US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework agreement unlikely to make a difference for the Israeli coalition government, as most of its members reject the idea of establishing a Palestinian state.
He added that he will reject any agreement with the Palestinians that “does not meet Israel’s needs and poses a threat to its security, even if there are attempts to impose such an agreement on Israel.”
Netanyahu refused the possibility of unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank territories if the negotiations fail, stating that he does not prefer this possibility and that “the unilateral withdrawals (from south Lebanon and the Gaza Strip) have not justified themselves nor did they provide security stability for Israel”.
Netanyahu returned to Israel today following his visit to the US which started on Sunday in which he met with Obama in the White House and gave a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Tuesday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced, while receiving a delegation from the Israeli left-wing party Meretz a few days ago, that he is not opposed to extending the negotiations period, but demands that settlement construction is suspended and prisoners are released.
Yedioth Ahronoth said the European delegation had hoped to evaluate the prisoners’ conditions.
The paper reported that Elmar Brok, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament, had asked Israel’s ambassador to the EU to arrange a visit for the delegation.
But Lieberman responded by saying Israel would only allow such a visit if the EU would let an Israeli delegation visit prisons in Europe.
The report cited sources inside Israel’s foreign affairs ministry that the European request had been made in coordination Palestinian and international activists working to highlight the poor conditions inside Israeli prisons.
The news came one day after Israel refused to allow Palestinian refugees from Syria to return to the Palestinians territories, according to Palestinian Authority official cited by Ma’an news agency.
Fatah central committee member Mohammed Ishtayyeh told diplomats at a meeting organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation – a group affiliated with Germany’s Green Party – that they have been trying to help Palestinians in Syria escape the three-year-long war, but Israeli officials have rejected their pleas.
Around 1,500 Palestinian were killed during the Syria conflict, and 250,000 others have been forced to leave their homes, according to Ma’an.
Housing demolitions carried out under the pretext of unlicensed construction are a common occurrence in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians are rarely granted permits by the Israeli authorities to build houses in the city. Apartments prices have risen drastically in Jerusalem — 120 m apartment would cost approximately $350,000. As a result, they are forced to build without a permit, which often results in the Israeli authorities issuing demolition orders on unlicensed buildings.
In 2013, 82 houses owned by Palestinians in Jerusalem were demolished, effecting 281 people. In recent years, self-demolition of houses has become common in East Jerusalem as the Palestinian owners of “unlicensed” houses are forced to choose between demolishing the houses themselves or paying the Jerusalem municipality to do so for them.
In this video Muhammad ‘Amireh speaks of his experience of having to demolish his own house.
An Israeli military contractor, whose surveillance technology is used along Israel’s apartheid wall constructed in the Palestinian West Bank, has been chosen by the United States to provide similar services on the southern border with Mexico, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.
Elbit Systems announced on Sunday that the US Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had awarded its subsidiary a $145 million contract to deploy border surveillance technology in southern Arizona, Reuters reported.
But according to Bloomberg analyst Brian Friel, quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the one-year contract could expand to a broader $1 billion deal if the US Congress passes stringent immigration legislation.
Elbit Systems is set to install watch towers along the border with sensors for spotting, tracking, and classifying data, along with command and control centers.
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona hailed the deal as a “step in the right direction.”
“Arizonans have been waiting more than a decade for the Department of Homeland Security to place the needed technology along our border to support the Border Patrol and fully secure our southern border,” he said in a statement.
“If this technology is developed, integrated and fielded correctly, these Integrated Fixed Towers in southern Arizona, coupled with the tremendous work of the Border Patrol, will give our agents the ability to detect, evaluate, and respond to all illegal entries crossing our border.”
A government contractor said the choice of an Israeli firm was justified by of its “advanced” experience in maintaining separation barriers.
“It is odd to go offshore for this work, but in extraordinary circumstances, one really wants to employ the best,” Haaretz quoted Mark Amtower, a partner at Amtower & Co, as saying.
Elbit Systems is one of the primary military suppliers of the Israel’s occupation forces. Its Hermes 450 attack drone has been used extensively in the besieged Gaza Strip, as well as in Lebanon during the 2006 war.
The company is also responsible for surveillance technology along the apartheid wall erected by Israel within the West Bank. Only 15 percent of the separation barrier is built along the so-called 1949 Green Line, which is recognized by the international community as the border of Israel proper, UN figures show, with most of it jutting into the occupied West Bank.
The 440-kilometer long barrier is considered illegal under international law.
Among its many international contracts, Elbit contributed in 2013 to a $40 million expansive Internet surveillance program for the Nigerian government.
Elbit Systems has officially pledged on its website to “contribute to the enhancement of quality of life and the environment of the communities in which we live and work.”
But this contribution mainly consists of supporting Israeli occupation forces through the “Adopt a Combat Unit” program.
Elbit is targeted by the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for “directly contribut[ing] to violations of international humanitarian law.”
The Stop the Wall campaign has called Elbit a “symbol” which“thrives on and fuels war, repression and control in Palestine and around the globe.”
“Elbit offers its experience in ghettoizing and killing Palestinians to repress other people,” the campaign wrote of the company’s international projects.
“Because Elbit Systems is knowingly participating in and aiding Israeli war crimes and Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people, investors in and partners of the security firm are, by extension, accessories to Israel’s many violations of international law and human rights standards.”
Progress in Iran Nuclear Talks Depends on the Israeli Government Coming Clean on its Nuclear Disinformation Campaigns
One of the sticking points in the on-going Iran nuclear negotiations is the fate of the so-called “Possible Military Dimensions” (aka “Alleged Studies”) file. This is a compendium of allegations against Iran’s nuclear program – largely gathered by third-party intelligence agencies – that the IAEA would like Iran to respond to. Not only are the allegations largely outside the IAEA legal authority and expertise (because they do not directly deal with nuclear material diversion), but Iran has not been allowed to see much of this secret evidence that is being used against it. Such a process is, of course, not consistent with normal Western legal practice. Iran has responded to what little it has been shown of the PMD file by saying that the evidence thus far shown is fabricated.
Though this Iranian response is often cast as Iran “not cooperating with the IAEA” (or “refusing to discuss the matter”), another possibility must be considered: that Iran is correct. That is, that at least some the evidence has indeed been cooked-up by an adversarial Intelligence service (or by an agent recruited by such an Intelligence service).
A wonderful new book by Gudrun Harrer on the IAEA inspections in Iraq sheds some light on which countries could be involved in fabricating and planting such fake nuclear “evidence”. On p. 185 of the book, it is confirmed that Israel provided the IAEA with false information on Laser Isotope Separation activities in Iraq. The reference for this information is the author’s interview with David Albright of ISIS (see at this insert the relevant scanned pages from the book):
Israel has, of course, long been suspected of being behind some of the forged and suspect evidence against Iran: the neutron initiators, AP graphs, etc., but until now it was hard to definitely pin the blame on that country. Thanks to David Albright at ISIS, we now know that Israel has been guilty of planting disinformation with the IAEA in the past.
The German intelligence agency has also discredited much of the secret evidence against Iran.
Having myself analyzed some of what is (evidently) in this PMD file – with Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies – I can say that the evidence is certainly of poor quality and/or an amateurish forgery. It does not look like anything a state-level research scientist would produce. There are large and conspicuous mathematical and physical errors in the material.
Similarly, Robert Kelley has assessed that at least some of the evidence purporting to show weaponization research work continuing past 2004 is less than compelling:
[The] evidence, according to the IAEA, tells us Iran embarked on a four-year program, starting around 2006, to validate the design of a device to produce a burst of neutrons that could initiate a fission chain reaction. Though I cannot say for sure what source the agency is relying on, I can say for certain that this project was earlier at the center of what appeared to be a misinformation campaign…. Mohamed ElBaradei, who was then the agency’s director general, rejected the information because there was no chain of custody for the paper, no clear source, document markings, date of issue or anything else that could establish its authenticity…
David Albright’s confirmation of Israeli nuclear disinformation goes hand-in-glove with statements from former IAEA director, and Nobel Prize winner, Mohammed ElBaradei. In his biography, ElBaradei says that the documents that the IAEA had about the alleged neutron initiators in Iran circa 2008 were given to the Agency by Israel. He further states that Israel gave him permission to show the evidence to Iran.
So the question is, why has the IAEA not cooperated with Iran in evaluating material like they did with Iraq circa 1995, in the incident mentioned by Harrer?
Iran could be genuinely helpful if they were allowed to see the original evidence and comment on it. When the IAEA worked with Iraq to evaluate documents, the Iraqis helpfully pointed out mistakes that the IAEA could independently confirm. Isn’t that the example we would like to see with Iran?
Being charged with secret evidence also goes against every notion of Western justice. The IAEA either needs to drop the PMD file, or amend their procedures.
Unfortunately, it is quite likely that the Israeli government is once again carrying out nuclear disinformation, possibly in collaboration with the MEK, an Iranian terrorist – in some nations, formerly terrorist – organization opposed to the current Iranian regime.
Over the past weekend, it was also confirmed that Israel masterminded the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. These assassinations, too, perhaps were carried out with local MEK collaboration. If the Israeli government is capable of assassinating civilian Iranian scientists, would fabricating nuclear intel on Iran trouble their consciences? Presumably not. Especially as they have done it in the past, according to David Albright at ISIS.
Before further pursuing Iran on the PMD file – which may contain substantial forged evidence – it would make sense to ask Israel to come clean about any fabricated intelligence it may have planted with the IAEA. It is quite possible that some of the PMD file is not fake. Israel’s assistance and cooperation in identifying what is fake and what is not would be most helpful. If David Albright of ISIS has further insight into this – as he did in the Iraqi case – his involvement would also, of course, be very welcome.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to give credibility to hyperbolic Israeli statements about Iran’s underhandedness in pursuing its nuclear program, when Israel itself has been underhanded in pursuing clandestine disinformation campaigns against NPT states, while itself remaining resolutely outside the NPT.
There are several points for the IAEA to consider in light of these recent developments:
1. Should the IAEA reject all evidence from Israel against Iran and other adversarial states now?
2. Should the IAEA, generally, not accept intelligence from non-NPT states?
3. The IAEA should show Iran any evidence it wants an Iranian response on. Anything less is not consistent with Western notions of justice. Furthermore such cooperation could unveil the origin of any possible forgeries in the PMD file.
4. The IAEA and the US should ask Israel to come clean on any fabricated “evidence” it may have inserted into the PMD file.
5. As I have suggested previously, it would be best to simply drop the PMD file as it relates to decade old unauthenticated allegations of possible research. It is not even clear that what is in the PMD file – even if true – would be a violation of the NPT or the safeguards agreement.
6. If the IAEA really wants to pursue the content of the PMD in a legal way they can initiate special inspections or undertake arbitration as provided for in the CSA. The IAEA does not even have the technical expertise in-house to undertake investigations of missiles, warheads etc. which are mentioned in the PMD file.
7. Since Iran is now in compliance with its safeguards agreement, Iran’s nuclear file – currently hung-up in the Security Council – should return to the IAEA. The referral to the Security Council was unorthodox and politicized to begin with, and there is no rationale for Iran’s nuclear file to remain there post-2008. (Footnote 38 of the latest IAEA report on Iran makes clear that the remaining issues are not IAEA safeguards issues but extraneous UNSC ones).
8. This also means that the UNSC nuclear-related sanctions on Iran should now be dropped. In fact, they ought to have been dropped in 2008.
David Albright must be commended for his helpful insight into fabricated Israeli intelligence in Iraq, and hopefully can assist in tracking down similar disinformation in the case of Iran.
Relatedly, we must thank him and ISIS also for showing the international community expensive satellite pictures of Parchin, in which one can see that west of the paving activity, the site is untouched, and so the IAEA could get environmental samples there (if they even needed those). This undercuts ISIS’ own conclusion that the site has been magically “sanitized” by paving. Normally, of course, the IAEA would take such swipe samples from within the buildings where any suspect U naturally collects: in the corners and at the places where the walls meet the floor.
The technical weaknesses in ISIS’ and IAEA’s approach to Parchin were previously commented on.
The IAEA’s technically unsound obsession with environmental sampling at Parchin may also mean they are confusing the site at Marivan (where open-air implosion tests may have taken place) with the site at Parchin (where implosions in a chamber are alleged).
From the May 2008 Board report, referring to the Marivan site:
A.2. High Explosives Testing
Document 3: Five page document in English describing experimentation undertaken with a complex multipoint initiation system to detonate a substantial amount of high explosive in hemispherical geometry and to monitor the development of the detonation wave in that high explosive using a considerable number of diagnostic probes.
And the alleged weapons’ studies annex Nov 2011:
43. Information provided to the Agency by the same Member State referred to in the previous paragraph describes the multipoint initiation concept referred to above as being used by Iran in at least one large scale experiment in 2003 to initiate a high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell. […...] Further information provided to the Agency by the same Member State indicates that the large scale high explosive experiments were conducted by Iran in the region of Marivan.
So what is the point of carrying out environmental sampling at Parchin (where chamber experiments are alleged) and not at Marivan where open-air experiments were allegedly done? Is the IAEA – and ISIS – confused between Marivan and Parchin?
The IAEA’s unprofessionalism in vetting the content of the PMD file, and in the obsession over Parchin (which the IAEA visited twice already) vs. Marivan smacks of an agenda to target Iran rather than any sound technical analysis. It is likely to blow up the Iran nuclear deal for no good reason. Iran has cooperated with the IAEA on the PMD file by saying that the material it was shown was fabricated – this may be true. Now Israel should also cooperate and come clean about what forged material – or material from compromised sources like “Curveball” – may be within this file. David Albright, with his past knowledge and evident expertise in fabricated Israeli intelligence should also step up to the plate.
And, certainly, Iran should be shown any evidence it is being asked to answer to by the IAEA. The Agency should also spend about half an hour and check whether the site it is interested in for environmental sampling is Marivan or Parchin. Environmental sampling at Parchin makes little sense. At Parchin, swipes would be taken from within the buildings since chamber-based implosions are alleged. While it is at it, the IAEA should also review the technical basis of their conclusions on Syria.
It is hard to take the Agency seriously when it persists in being blatantly unprofessional.
Dr Jim Walsh, a research associate at MIT, has an excellent suggestion about what to do with Iran’s “PMD” file – as paraphrased by Mark Hibbs: “If the nuclear activities were in the past, I don’t care. It’s dead, and it’s regretful, but let’s do a deal with Iran that moves forward.”
But before we do that, the IAEA should ask Israel to come clean about its potential role in fabricating some of the “evidence” within the PMD file.
Dr. Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, is Director of the Emerging Technologies Program at the Cultural Intelligence Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting fact-based cultural awareness among individuals, institutions, and governments. The views expressed here are his own.
The self-proclaimed government in Kiev has appointed two of Ukraine’s richest men to govern large industrial regions in the defiant east. One of the reasons for the Maidan protest was the influence the rich have on politics in the country.
The appointments of new governors of Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk Regions are among 18 made on Sunday by Kiev, which is struggling to consolidate power after the coup which ousted President Yanukovich last month.
The newly-appointed Dnepropetrovsk governor is Igor Kolomoysky, Ukraine’s third-wealthiest man, with an estimated fortune of $2.4 billion. He co-owns the informal commercial group Privat, which includes Ukraine’s largest bank Privatbank, which Kolomoysky heads, as well as assets in the oil, ferroalloys and food industries, agriculture and transport.
A former ally of Yulia Tymoshenko, Kolomoysky reportedly had a falling out with her and refused to finance her election campaign in 2010, which the ex-prime minister subsequently lost to Yanukovich. Kolomoysky was reported to be a principal sponsor of the UDAR party, which is one of the three fueling the street campaign to oust Yanukovich. Kolomoysky has a dual Ukrainian-Israeli citizenship and controls his business empire from Switzerland.
The new governor of Donetsk Region is Sergey Taruta, who is estimated to worth around $2 billion, putting him among the top-10 wealthiest people in Ukraine. He heads ISD, one of the biggest mining and smelting companies in the world, and also own Donetsk-based Metallurg Football Club.
Not a stranger to politics, he used to sponsor Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power in Ukraine after the Orange Revolution of 2004. Among his personal habits is a reputed love for luxurious jewelry and ostentatious gold statues, reports RT’s Peter Oliver.
The appointments will have “a positive effect on the regional aspect,” believes Vladimir Groisman, who was appointed vice-president for regional development in the self-installed government.
“They are well-known and wealthy people. They had a choice – they could buy a plane ticket or fly their own plane and go to another country and wait for the developments there. Or they could take responsibility. I respect their choice,” he said.
Among the accusations mounted on Yanukovich by protesting crowds in Kiev was the charge that he used his presidential power to take over assets of Ukrainian businessmen and make an illegal fortune for himself and his allies. Some Ukraine observers suggested that the oligarchs, threatened by presidential greed, financed the Maidan protests, seeing them as leverage on the government.
After his ouster, photos from Yanukovich’s opulent residence of gilded furniture and a private zoo in suburban Kiev made headlines worldwide. There is little doubt that many of those who sought to topple him for being corruptly enriched would eye the appointment of affluent businessmen to offices of power with a deal of suspicion.
The feeling is palpable in many comments in Ukrainian media.
“That’s good news. I’m tired of those businessmen in power,” said one sarcastic commenter at the site of the Ukrainskaya Pravda a leading online news service.
“It’s OK. The oligarchs have been controlling the regions anyway. I think they will provide order, because only they have the authority, unlike some middle-rank appointees,” soothes another one.
“Are they handing out fiefs? I’m sick of it. Is that what the people died for at the Maidan?” another commenter says.
There is also the regional aspect, which Groisman mentioned. The better-developed industrial east of Ukraine depends on business ties with Russia and would be hurt badly by the EU association agreement, which the new government wants to sign as soon as possible. Mistrust towards Kiev is growing in the east, with several regions already declaring they would not be taking orders from the capital.
The defiant regions seek greater autonomy from the central authorities. Having the right to elect their own governors, as opposed to have them appointed in Kiev, is one of the demands regularly voiced at the protest rallies in eastern and southern Ukraine.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has rejected Israel’s demand to release an alleged report about the Iranian nuclear energy work, saying there is no report that may indicate any diversion in Tehran’s program.
“The IAEA has not prepared any report containing new information relating to possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program,” spokeswoman Gill Tudor said on Friday.
The remarks came after Israel demanded that the UN nuclear watchdog agency go public with all information it has regarding the Iranian nuclear energy work.
The demand was made following a Thursday report by Reuters alleging that the agency had held off an update over the Iranian nuclear energy program last year due to concerns that it may undermine nuclear talks with Tehran.
“The agency’s reports on Iran to its Board of Governors are factual and impartial. Their content is not influenced by political considerations,” Tudor added.
Iran has repeatedly emphasized that its nuclear energy program is meant for civilian purposes.
Officials in Tehran have already called on the IAEA to come clean on anything it has regarding the suspicions over the diversion of the Iranian nuclear energy program.
However, the agency has so far found no diversion in Iran’s nuclear program to publicize it.
Iran is in talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia, China, France, the UK and the US — plus Germany to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
The two sides inked an interim nuclear deal in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 24, 2013. The Geneva deal took effect on January 20. The two sides are now in pursuit of a final comprehensive deal.
Israel’s allegations against Iran come as the Tel Aviv regime, which is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East, reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads.
Furthermore, the Israeli regime has never allowed any inspection of its nuclear facilities and continues to defy international calls to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Barack Obama administration has demanded that Iran resolve “past and present concerns” about the “possible military dimensions” of its nuclear program as a condition for signing a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Administration officials have suggested that Iran must satisfy the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the allegations in the agency’s report that it has had a covert nuclear weapons program in the past.
But the record of negotiations between Iran and the IAEA shows Tehran has been ready for the past two years to provide detailed responses to all the charges of an Iranian nuclear weapons work, and that the problem has been the refusal of the IAEA to share with Iran the documentary evidence on which those allegations have been based.
The real obstacle to providing those documents, however, has long been a U.S. policy of refusing to share the documents on the assumption that Iran must confess to having had a weaponization program.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi, declared February 12, “The authenticity of each allegation should be proven first, then the person who submitted it to the agency should give us the genuine document. When we are assured of the authenticity, then we can talk to the agency.”
Neither the IAEA nor the Obama administration has responded publicly to Salehi’s statement. In response to a query from IPS, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, said the NSC officials would have no comment on the Iranian demand for access to the documents.
The spokesperson for IAEA Director Yukiya Amano did not answer a request from IPS Thursday for the agency’s comment.
But a draft text of an agreement being negotiated between the IAEA and Iran dated February 20, 2012, shows that the only difference between the two sides on resolving issues about allegations of Iranian nuclear weapons work was Iran’s demand to have the documents on which the allegations are based.
The draft text, which was later published on the website of the Arms Control Association, reflects Iran’s deletions and additions to the original IAEA proposal. It calls for Iran to provide a “conclusive technical assessment” of a set of six “topics”, which included 12 distinct charges in the report in a particular order that the IAEA desired.
Iran and the IAEA agreed that Iran would provide a “conclusive technical assessment” on a list of 10 issues in a particular order. The only topics that Iran proposed to delete from the list were “management structure” and “Procurement activities”, which did not involve charges of specifically nuclear weapons work.
The two sides had agreed in the draft that the IAEA would provide a “detailed explanation of its concerns”. But they had failed to agree on provision of documents to Iran by the IAEA. The IAEA had proposed language that the agency would provide Iran with the relevant documents only “where appropriate”. Iran was insisting on deletion of that qualifying phrase from the draft.
The first priority on the list of topics to which both sides had agreed in the draft was “Parchin” – referring to the claim of intelligence from an unnamed state that Iran had installed a large cylinder at the Parchin military reservation.
A November 2011 IAEA report suggested the cylinder was intended for testing nuclear weapons designs and had been built with the assistance of a “foreign expert”. Iran also agreed to respond in detail on the issue of the “foreign expert”, who has been identified as Vyacheslav Danilenko, a Ukrainian specialist on nanodiamonds.
The evidence associated with that claim and others published in the 2011 report shows that they were based on intelligence reports and documents given to the IAEA by Israel in 2008-09. Former IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei referred to a series of documents provided by Israel in his 2012 memoirs.
Iran also agreed to respond in detail to allegations that Iran had sought to integrate a nuclear weapon into the reentry vehicle of the Shahab-3 missile, and that it had developed high explosives as a “detonator” for a nuclear weapon.
Both alleged activities had been depicted or described in documents reported in the U.S. news media in 2005-06 as having come from a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Those documents, about whose authenticity ElBaradei and other senior IAEA officials have publicly expressed serious doubts, have now been revealed as having been given to Western intelligence by an anti-regime Iranian terrorist organization.
Former senior German foreign office official Karsten Voigt revealed in an interview last year for a newly published book by this writer that senior officials of the German intelligence agency BND had told him in November 2004 that the BND had gotten the entire collection of documents from a member of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) who had been one of their sources, and that they did not consider the source to be reliable.
The MEK, considered by the United States and European states as a terrorist organization, had been used by Saddam Hussein’s regime to support the war against Iran and by Israel to issue intelligence and propaganda that Mossad did not want attributed to it.
ElBaradei, who retired from the IAEA in November 2009, had declared repeatedly that sharing the documents was necessary to ensure “due process” in resolving the issue, but the United States had prevented him from doing so.
In his final statement to the Board of Governors on September 7, 2009 he appealed to “those who provided the information related to the alleged weaponization studies to share with Iran as much information as possible.”
A former IAEA official, who asked not to be identified, told IPS that the United States had allowed only a very limited number of documents to be shown to Iran in the form of Power Point slides projected on a screen.
A May 2008 IAEA report described a number of documents purported to be from the Iranian weapons program but said that the IAEA “was not in possession of the documents and was therefore unfortunately unable to make them available to Iran.”
Around 100 pages of documents were given by the United States to the agency to share with Iran, the former official said, but none of the documents described in the report were among them.
The U.S. policy of denying Iranian access to the documents continued during the Obama administration, as shown by a U.S. diplomatic cable from Vienna dated April 29, 2009 and released by WikiLeaks. At a P5+1 technical meeting, both U.S. and IAEA officials were quoted as implying that the objective of the policy was to press Iran to confess to the activities portrayed in the papers.
U.S. officials said that a failure by Iran to “disclose any past weaponization-related work” would “suggest Iran wishes to hide and pursue its past work, perhaps to keep a future weapons option”.
IAEA Safeguards Chief Olli Heinonen made it clear that no copies of the relevant documents charging Iran with weaponization would be provided to Iran and complained that Iran had continued to claim that the documents were fabricated.
In its report of November 14, 2013, the IAEA said it had received more information – presumably from Israel – that “corroborates the analysis” in its 2011 report.
The past unwillingness of the Obama administration to entertain the possibility that the documents provided by the MEK were fabricated or to allow Iran the opportunity to prove that through close analysis of the documents, and the IAEA’s continued commitment to the weaponization information it has published suggest that the issue of past claims will be just as contentious as the technical issues to be negotiated, if not more so.
Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book “Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare”, was published Feb. 14.