By Spero News | December 25, 2009
Just days before the first anniversary of the Israeli Cast Lead military operation which cost the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has urged the Western powers to insist that Israel immediately end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, threatening to enforce economic sanctions.
Falk also urged that the Goldstone Report’s recommendations, which suggest that Israel and Hamas have perpetrated war crimes possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, be fully and swiftly implemented. Falk said that “people having common sense, anywhere in the world, should become conscious of the dramatic situation in Gaza, where the suffering of over 1.5 million people, half of them children, has carried on without any formal objection from governments and the UN”.
In the UN annual report, published last month, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has asked Israel to end the embargo on Gaza and to cease demolitions of Palestinian homes. “In particular, the Israeli government should allow access for humanitarian (and non-humantarian) aid in Gaza, such as to allow the rebuilding of housing and infrastructure that were destroyed,” said the Secretary General.
“So far there are is no tangible evidence of a coordinated diplomatic process to end the blockade and ensure that Israeli officials, who have been suspected of perpetrating war crimes be brought to justice” said Falk, adding that “this constitutes a tragic failure of the international community and the UN”.
The Goldstone report usrged the creation of inquiry commissions to determine whether or not war crimes had been committed during the 22-day long Cast Lead offensive in Gaza in 2008, which had already been under a three year long embargo.
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“The United States government, one of their goals now, is to make sure southern Sudan in 2011 is a viable state,” Gatkuoth said. (Washington Times)
12/25/09 — CAIRO — The United States is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the pocket of South Sudan government to help it prepare for secession from the North.”The United States government, one of their goals now, is to make sure southern Sudan in 2011 is a viable state,” Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, representative of South Sudan in Washington, told The Washington Times Friday, December 25.
Washington offers $1 billion in annual aid to South Sudan.
The majority of the money is used to build roads, train police and professionalize a separate army in preparation for the Christian-majority region’s secession in 2011, said Gatkuoth, who also heads South Sudan’s mission to the UN.
Southern Sudanese will vote in a referendum in 2011 on whether to secede from the Muslim north.
The referendum is part of the 2005 north-south peace deal, which ended a two-decade civil war between the north and south.
The accord established an interim period, with a coalition government between the Muslim north and mostly Christian south and the sharing of oil wealth.
Last month, South Sudan President Salva Kiir publicly called for secession from Sudan.
Though southern officials have not concealed their intention to vote for secession, the region still lack the basics of a viable state.
The region is also plagued by tribal clashes, which have killed at least 2,500 people and displaced more than 350,000 others this year.
The International Crisis Group on Tuesday criticized South Sudan police for failing to keep security and end tribal clashes in the region.
Gatkuoth accused the Khartoum government of stumbling efforts of the South to secede.
“I do not think the North is ready to allow the South to go and have its independent state,” he said.
The southern official said that the next 12 months would be crucial in determining the fate of the country.
“In 2010, we either make it or break it,” he said.
“An election can lead to war if you feel cheated.”
The ruling Sudanese National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed Wednesday to review a disputed law on the 2011 referendum.
Parliament has passed the law even though SPLM walked out of the assembly objecting to an amendment allowing southerners living in the north to vote in the January 2011 referendum.
Gatkuoth threatened that the South will take up arms again if Khartoum government tried to postpone the 2011 referendum.
December 26th, 2009 | By Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad
Six Palestinians were killed in two separate incidents by the Israeli forces in Gaza and the West Bank. Three of the Palestinians were assassinated in Nablus at the West Bank. According to Israeli sources, Ghasan Abu Sharkh, Raed Sarkaji and Anan Suboh took part in the last attack which resulted in killing an Israeli settler in the West Bank.
The Israeli troops entered Nablus while being directed by the Israeli Intelligence Service “Shabak” in order to assassinate the three Palestinians who are known as leaders of Fatah movement in the Palestinian territories. Israel considered this operation a success since it came only 48 hours after the attack on the Israeli’s car in the West Bank. The Palestinian authority considered this operation another act made by the Israeli government in order to destroy the peace process and the efforts made by the United States and the international community in order to renew the negotiations.
In another incident Israel killed three Palestinians in Gaza who were trying to infiltrate through Erez Checkpoint into the Israeli territories. According to Aljazeera correspondent the three Palestinians were Bedwins searching for metal and building material in order to get it back for recycling and use in Gaza.
The Israeli operation in the West Bank is considered a serious development in the area since it may bring more reactions from the Palestinian side and end in a new round of violence between the two sides. Although the Palestinian security forces are applying everything which was asked from them in matters of security, Israel continues to take law in its hands and even implements public executions claiming that this is a legal punishment for those who were involved in terrorist attacks against Israelis.
In Israel’s operation in the West Bank anti tank rockets and heavy weapons were used to target buildings full of civilians. The Israeli forces stormed into Anan Suboh’s house and stayed inside it for several hours before executing him which leaves more questions about the real Israeli intentions for this operation. The mission was not to arrest the Palestinian activists but instead to investigate with them and immediately execute them no matter what. Ghasan Abu Sharkh did not show any kind of resistance and despite this he was shot at his head immediately. Raed Sarkajy’s wife was injured while she was sleeping beside him on their bed. The Israeli forces attacked the room and shot both of them although there wasn’t any kind of resistance from inside the house.
The whole operation sends one message which Israel wants the Palestinians to understand clearly: Israel is ready to execute anyone without a court or a respect for the Palestinian authority’s presence at the West Bank. The Israeli assassinations were criticized by several International organizations for its ruthlessness and illegality. Israel is not only violating the security arrangements and attacking civilian areas but it also starts such operations with a target of killing those who are considered suspects ignoring the part of court of law and justice.
The Israeli army and Intelligence may consider this operation a successful one since it proves that Israel is holding the West Bank as it wants. However, the result of such operations will prove that the Israeli policy will only bring failure and more reactions which may return the area into a new circle of violence.
These six Palestinians were killed in the day when the Palestinians remember the 1,600 victims who died in Israel’s war on Gaza. Since the war and until today Israel continues to depend on its security plans in dealing with its conflict with the Palestinians. The only result which they are bringing on the Israeli people is more anger and hatred within the Palestinians who are suffering until today.
December 26, 2009
Nablus – Ma’an – Family members of the three slain Fatah members gave testimony around the last moments of their loved ones lives on Saturday, hours after the men were assassinated by Israeli forces in their own homes in Nablus.
Home of Raed Sarakji, killed Saturday [MaanImages]
Raed Sarakji, 38
Now a widow, Tahani Ja’ara is 32 years old and seven months pregnant. “We were sleeping in our bedroom, not bigger than 6 square meters, when Israeli soldiers began yelling ‘get out…get out’. I thought I was dreaming. When I heard the Israeli soldiers and their police dogs outside the room, that was when I realized it was real.”
Tahani said her husband told soldiers he would get out of the house, so they started shooting through the door and the windows. “He fell between my hands bleeding. I started crying ‘they killed him…they killed him. Then soldiers broke the door and got in. He was already dead, but they continued to riddle his body with bullets to make sure he was killed.”
Three months before his death, Sarakji opened a used tools shop in the old city of Nablus. He had just been released from Israeli prison in January 2009 after spending seven years in jail, he was trying to re-start his life.
According to a statement from the Israeli military, Sarkaji was involved with the manufacturing of explosives and the establishment of an explosives-manufacturing laboratory in Nablus.
Ghassan Abu Sharkh, 39
Ghassan’s 16-year-old brother Diyaa Abu Sharkh saw him shot dead Saturday morning. “Everything happened very quickly… when we opened the door and saw the soldiers, two masked collaborators pointed to my brother Ghassan who was walking down the stairs. Before I knew it he was being shot. I couldn’t really make sense of what was going on at all. Then an Israeli officer asked me whether the dead man was Ghassan, and I said yes. ‘Good, then ask everybody to leave the house,’ the officer said.”
“I was stading close to Ghassan when they killed him. They could have detained him very easily. [But now he has] He passed to join my brother Nayif who was killed by Israeli forces a few years ago .”
Ghassan Abu Sharkh was a car electrician and owned a small workshop. He left behind a wife, three sons, and a daughter.
Anan Subih, 33
Farid Subih is 45, his brother Anan, was killed Saturday morning in the Ras Al-Ain neighborhood of Nablus. “At 3am, dozens of Israeli troops surrounded our four-story building. They blew open the the main gate then started shooting randomly and throwing grenades in all directions. Anan was inside, and he asked everybody to leave the building to avoid being hurt.”
He continued, “We headed to the nearby house of the Al-‘Amoudi family. Then soldiers entered the house with police dogs, and they started throwing more grenades, and a fire erupted in the warehouse full of plastic chairs and sponge material.
“My brother was not armed, but we could see soldiers continue to ransack the house. For three hours, we didn’t know what was going on. After the soldiers left, we found Anan dead…bullets tore all his body and bones. They could have detained him, and he died believing he had been granted amnesty by Israeli forces. He left behind a widow, two sons, and five daughters,” added Farid.
According to the Israeli military, Annan was killed after an exchange of fire and “found in a hiding place along with weapons and ammunition.”
Anan was an activist within Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, he was completely pardoned in an amnesty deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Press TV – December 26, 2009
As Western powers batten down the hatches and prepare sanctions against Tehran, a senior Russian official says there still is no proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
In remarks published on Friday, deputy Russian foreign minister Alexander Saltanov reiterated that Moscow is not convinced that Iran seeks to weoponize its nuclear program, and moreover he has not been shown any corroborative evidence confirming that the country has any such plans.
“Russia has no concrete information that Iran is planning to construct a weapon. It may be more like Japan, which has nuclear readiness but does not have a bomb,” Primakov told The Jerusalem Post.
In order to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear work, Washington and a number of European countries have vowed to push for new UN sanctions early next year.
But the calls for renewed pressure were once again snubbed by China and Russia.
Saltanov said while “Iran has a positive potential” to cooperate with the West on its nuclear case, it is most evident that a military solution against the Tehran government would only make matters worse.
“If Israel attacks Iran it will cause great instability and will only postpone the Iranian program, not end it,” noted the Russian official.
Israel routinely threatens to bomb Iran’s enrichment sites, arguing that the country’s nuclear work is a mortal threat to Tel Aviv, which ironically is reported to have the Middle East’s sole nuclear arsenal and 200 nuclear warheads at its disposal.
This is while Iran, unlike Tel Aviv, is a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has opened its nuclear facilities to routine inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog.
In response to Israeli war threats, Tehran warns that if Tel Aviv steps out of line, it will close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to maritime traffic, including the 15 or so supertankers that sail through on a daily basis to deliver the world’s oil supplies.
A recent report by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has confirmed that if the United States or Israel decide to bomb Tehran’s nuclear sites, Iran’s naval modernization and maritime capabilities have reached a point where it can shut down the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
“Given the importance of the Strait, disrupting traffic flow or even threatening to do so may be an effective tool for Iran,” said the intelligence report, which was revealed by Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin in November.
It notes that while Iran’s ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz may be transitory, the impact would undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for the already-fragile world economy.
“[World economies would suffer] a serious economic impact from a sustain closure of the Strait of Hormuz due to greatly reduced supplies of crude oil, petroleum supplies and (liquefied natural gas),” ONI said.