By Rafiu Oriyomi | IslamOnline.net | September 10, 2009
LAGOS — Nigerian police have been accused of indiscriminate arrest and harassment against Muslims across the country since clashes with the militant Boko Haram group killed at least 600 people…
In July, Boko Haram, a militant group opposed to anything modeled after the West, went on rampage in three north-western states attacking police stations and other facilities.
A massive security operation resulted in the killing of hundreds of militants including their leader Mohammed Yusuf and alleged financiers.
There have since been reports of constant police harassment of Muslims on the streets across the country.
“What qualified me for this wicked charge is my beard and attire,” fumed Saleh, 29, who met a number of other Muslims at the police station, arrested on the same charge.
“What this means is that all Muslims are members of the Boko Haram,” he stressed.
“And if that is the case, then there is a danger lurking around because we won’t take this from the government.”
The harassment is not limited to Borno or Yobe. Earlier this week, at least 11 bearded Muslims were rounded up by policemen at Ijaiye, a suburb of Lagos, on charges that they are members of Boko Haram.
Sulaiman Idris, one of the detainees who police said will be charged on illegal association and terrorism related charges, told IOL he was going to work when arrested.
“I can’t remember doing anything contrary to the law,” a tearful Idris sobbed, alleging torture.
He said others are going through the same ordeal.
“I have known Idris as a peace-loving Muslim who keeps beard and wears short trousers. His arrest is a slap on fundamental human rights,” said Shakirat Adedo, a work colleague.
“I’m told 11 of them were arrested. I think this is getting out of hand.”
When contacted, Lagos Police spokesman Frank Mba denied knowledge of the arrests and pledged to investigate the matter.
Two Muslim journalists working for the Lagos-based Islamic publication Al-Minbar were arrested last week and are still being detained in Yaba.
The arrest is linked to publishing an article entitled “Every Muslim Is A Boko Haram,” in response to police action.
Money for Justice
What adds insult to injury is that Muslims have to buy their freedom from police custody.
Asked how he regained his freedom, Saleh said his relatives “had to pay through their noses to get me released.”
“This means the Nigerian police want to hide under the Boko Haram incidence to feed fat on us,” he charged.
Mallam Zakari Adamu, Chairman of the Movement of Justice in Nigeria (MOJIN) Yobe chapter, confirmed the ugly trend.
“Our great problem is that if your innocent relation is detained for alleged involvement in Boko Haram, if you don’t have money to give him, you then sacrifice him or her to remain in cell,” he told IOL.
“Even when they have finished their interrogation and find him not guilty, you still have to bribe for him to regain his freedom,” contended the rights activist.
“I know of a boy who was shot; he is an innocent businessman. His father told us that he has spent N240,000 yet he could not even see the face of his son, this is unjust.”
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a countrywide network of Islamic activists, is raising the issue with the government, warning that the clampdown could trigger another bout of violence…
Update – Press TV – December 29, 2009
Thirty-eight members of the Boko Haram extremist group, including their leader, have been killed in clashes with a joint military-police force in the city of Bauchi in northern Nigeria.
Bauchi Police Chief Atikur Kafur told reporters on Monday that one soldier and two innocent people were among the dead in the Zango district of the city. He added that 14 people were also injured.
Twenty suspected militants were arrested, including nine adults and 11 juveniles.
The police chief identified the Boko Haram leader as Malam Badamasi.
By Gareth Porter*
WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (IPS) – U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a “neutron initiator” for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official.
Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say that the United States had nothing to do with forging the document, and that Israel is the primary suspect. The sources do not rule out a British role in the fabrication, however.
The Times of London story published Dec. 14 did not identify the source of the document. But it quoted “an Asian intelligence source” – a term some news media have used for Israeli intelligence officials – as confirming that his government believes Iran was working on a neutron initiator as recently as 2007.
The story of the purported Iranian document prompted a new round of expressions of U.S. and European support for tougher sanctions against Iran and reminders of Israel’s threats to attack Iranian nuclear programme targets if diplomacy fails.
U.S. news media reporting has left the impression that U.S. intelligence analysts have not made up their mind about the document’s authenticity, although it has been widely reported that they have now had a full year to assess the issue.
Giraldi’s intelligence sources did not reveal all the reasons that led analysts to conclude that the purported Iran document had been fabricated by a foreign intelligence agency. But their suspicions of fraud were prompted in part by the source of the story, according to Giraldi.
“The Rupert Murdoch chain has been used extensively to publish false intelligence from the Israelis and occasionally from the British government,” Giraldi said.
The Times is part of a Murdoch publishing empire that includes the Sunday Times, Fox News and the New York Post. All Murdoch-owned news media report on Iran with an aggressively pro-Israeli slant.
The document itself also had a number of red flags suggesting possible or likely fraud.
The subject of the two-page document which the Times published in English translation would be highly classified under any state’s security system. Yet there is no confidentiality marking on the document, as can be seen from the photograph of the Farsi-language original published by the Times.
The absence of security markings has been cited by the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as evidence that the “alleged studies” documents, which were supposedly purloined from an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons-related programme early in this decade, are forgeries.
The document also lacks any information identifying either the issuing office or the intended recipients. The document refers cryptically to “the Centre”, “the Institute”, “the Committee”, and the “neutron group”.
The document’s extreme vagueness about the institutions does not appear to match the concreteness of the plans, which call for hiring eight individuals for different tasks for very specific numbers of hours for a four-year time frame.
Including security markings and such identifying information in a document increases the likelihood of errors that would give the fraud away.
The absence of any date on the document also conflicts with the specificity of much of the information. The Times reported that unidentified “foreign intelligence agencies” had dated the document to early 2007, but gave no reason for that judgment.
An obvious motive for suggesting the early 2007 date is that it would discredit the U.S. intelligence community’s November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Iran had discontinued unidentified work on nuclear weapons and had not resumed it as of the time of the estimate.
Discrediting the NIE has been a major objective of the Israeli government for the past two years, and the British and French governments have supported the Israeli effort.
The biggest reason for suspecting that the document is a fraud is its obvious effort to suggest past Iranian experiments related to a neutron initiator. After proposing experiments on detecting pulsed neutrons, the document refers to “locations where such experiments used to be conducted”.
That reference plays to the widespread assumption, which has been embraced by the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Iran had carried out experiments with Polonium-210 in the late 1980s, indicating an interest in neutron initiators. The IAEA referred in reports from 2004 through 2007 to its belief that the experiment with Polonium-210 had potential relevance to making “a neutron initiator in some designs of nuclear weapons”.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political arm of the terrorist organisation Mujahedeen-e Khalq, claimed in February 2005 that Iran’s research with Polonium-210 was continuing and that it was now close to producing a neutron initiator for a nuclear weapon.
Sanger and Broad were so convinced that the Polonium-210 experiments proved Iran’s interest in a neutron initiator that they referred in their story on the leaked document to both the IAEA reports on the experiments in the late 1980s and the claim by NCRI of continuing Iranian work on such a nuclear trigger.
What Sanger and Broad failed to report, however, is that the IAEA has acknowledged that it was mistaken in its earlier assessment that the Polonium-210 experiments were related to a neutron initiator.
After seeing the complete documentation on the original project, including complete copies of the reactor logbook for the entire period, the IAEA concluded in its Feb. 22, 2008 report that Iran’s explanations that the Polonium-210 project was fundamental research with the eventual aim of possible application to radio isotope batteries was “consistent with the Agency’s findings and with other information available to it”.
The IAEA report said the issue of Polonium-210 – and thus the earlier suspicion of an Iranian interest in using it as a neutron initiator for a nuclear weapon – was now considered “no longer outstanding”.
New York Times reporters David Sanger and William J. Broad reported U.S. intelligence officials as saying the intelligence analysts “have yet to authenticate the document”. Sanger and Broad explained the failure to do so, however, as a result of excessive caution left over from the CIA’s having failed to brand as a fabrication the document purporting to show an Iraqi effort to buy uranium in Niger.
The Washington Post’s Joby Warrick dismissed the possibility that the document might be found to be fraudulent. “There is no way to establish the authenticity or original source of the document…,” wrote Warrick.
But the line that the intelligence community had authenticated it evidently reflected the Barack Obama administration’s desire to avoid undercutting a story that supports its efforts to get Russian and Chinese support for tougher sanctions against Iran.
This is not the first time that Giraldi has been tipped off by his intelligence sources on forged documents. Giraldi identified the individual or office responsible for creating the two most notorious forged documents in recent U.S. intelligence history.
In 2005, Giraldi identified Michael Ledeen, the extreme right-wing former consultant to the National Security Council and the Pentagon, as an author of the fabricated letter purporting to show Iraqi interest in purchasing uranium from Niger. That letter was used by the George W. Bush administration to bolster its false case that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons programme.
Giraldi also identified officials in the “Office of Special Plans” who worked under Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith as having forged a letter purportedly written by Hussein’s intelligence director, Tahir Jalail Habbush al-Tikriti, to Hussein himself referring to an Iraqi intelligence operation to arrange for an unidentified shipment from Niger.
*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.
December 28, 2009
Bethlehem – Ma’an – An estimated 300 Palestinians were killed in the first 48 hours of Israel’s winter assault on the Gaza Strip, which entered its second day one year ago today.
With an increased focus on Rafah, Israeli warplanes bombarded around 100 more targets on 28 December 2008, leaving about 70 more Palestinians dead, and raising the child death toll to 22 and the civilian toll to 60, including nine women.
Israeli jets struck Islamic University in Gaza City, the offices of de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and the Saraya prison, ironically killing four members of Hamas’ domestic rival Fatah, as well as three mosques and 11 homes and apartments.
Fires engulfed Rafah after Israeli missiles hit underground fuel pipelines in some 40 sorties on the Strip’s tunnel network. Fleeing the flames, terrified residents of Gaza’s south attempted by the hundreds to escape to Egypt, but were prevented from leaving by Egyptian security forces. A Palestinian and an Egyptian policeman were killed in the ensuring chaos; at least 10 others were hurt.
West Bank protest
Palestinians in the West Bank, horrified by the numbers of dead and more than 1,000 injured, protested against the operation on its second day. Palestinian Authority security forces broke up a demonstration in Ramallah when activists urged support for Hamas, while Israeli forces shot dead three demonstrators nearby.
“There was a significant increase in the use of force by Israeli security forces during demonstrations in the West Bank after the start of the Israeli operations in Gaza,” according to the final report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. “The degree of force used against protests during the previous year had already been high … New tactics and weapons used by the Israeli security forces aimed at suppressing the popular movement have resulted in deaths and injuries.”
In July 2009, two witnesses, Mohamed Srour and Jonathan Pollak, described to the UN investigators in Geneva the fatal shooting of the two young men from the West Bank village of Ni’lin during a demonstration against the Gaza operation. Srour, elected mayor in 2005, was himself shot in the leg during the same protest.
“This demonstration was like any other demonstration. These demonstrations always took place and were peaceful demonstrations,” Srour explained. “And there was the presence of Israeli and foreign supporters and very high-level MPs. So it was very clear that this demonstration was a peaceful one.”
As the protest was winding down, Israeli forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The two young men who died were part of a small group of demonstrators, some of whom had thrown stones at the soldiers. In video footage, four or five soldiers appeared to be casually walking around and not seemingly threatened. Dozens of rounds of live ammunition were fired in the direction of the group of young men, hitting three of them within minutes of each other.
“Unfortunately, I have experienced, and it’s very easy to distinguish between, the shooting of rubber bullets and tear gas and between live ammunition,” recounted Pollak, an Israeli activist. “When I told them that it’s live ammunition, they didn’t believe me. They said, ‘No, it’s just blanks that they’re shooting. And they’re not going to shoot us.'”
Mohamed Khawaja was shot in the forehead; Arafat Khawaja, who had turned to run away, was shot in the back, and Srour was shot in the leg. Subsequently, an ambulance was prevented from reaching the victims, who had to be carried some distance and were eventually put onto a pick-up truck, at which the army fired tear gas.
“There were shouts that another person was shot. People said, ‘Call the medics. There’s another person wounded.’ And we put Mohamed on the ground. Some people stayed with him and I ran back immediately.
“And then I saw Arafat Khawaja being carried. And there weren’t enough people carrying him. His head was slinging back, and I grabbed his head and my hand was covered with his blood. He was shot in the back. … I got to him and I looked back. And I saw Mohamed being shot – I saw Mohamed fall down. And people were shouting that another person was shot.
“We dropped Arafat on the floor by mistake. And we weren’t far at all from Mohamed. And people grabbing him ran before, like ran and passed up. And I could see that his face was all bloody. And the wound was in the vicinity of his eye. I mean, I would say, at the moment, I thought that the bullet went through is eye. I’m not sure if that’s true. …
“There was no ambulance there because it was prevented from entering the village at the entrance, at the roadblock in the entrance. His blood kept gushing from this back and his legs were a bit higher so it, it dripped, through the back of his head. He was shot in the back, which, I mean, I would tend to say murder because he was with his back to the soldiers and absolutely not endangering anyone. But, I assume, legally it can not be called murder because we can’t prove intent. But in the least, it’s willful killing.”
Added Srour, “There was no care, whatsoever, for human life.”
According to South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s final report, “The Mission has asked the Government of Israel to explain the increased use of live ammunitions during demonstrations in the West Bank, but has received no reply.”
Both Srour and Pollak said that by the second day of the war, the atmosphere encountered with soldiers and border police had already become markedly different from the situation before the operations in Gaza.
“The atmosphere of the incident, and during and after the start of the war generally, was that all checks and balances had been removed. The soldiers were saying things related to the Gaza war, taunting things like, ‘It’s a shame we’re not in Gaza killing Arabs,'” Pollak said. “They were taunting us. They were cursing at us. They were laughing about what was happening in Gaza at the same time. This was the second day of the war, of the assault. And people were unbelievably angry.”
Israeli forces arrested Srour at the Allenby crossing upon his return to the West Bank on 20 July. He was subsequently released on bail. Israel’s Permanent Representative to Geneva said the arrest was unrelated to his appearance at the public hearing days earlier.
During his testimony, however, Srour had expressed fear Israel would retaliate for his remarks at the UN. “I know full well that I will pay the price for this testimony when I return at Israeli crossing points in my journey of return after this hearing,” he said.
At least 800 Israeli protesters, most of them of Palestinian descent, were arrested during the Gaza war.
Among the UN report’s final recommendations is “that the Government of Israel should cease actions aimed at limiting the expression of criticism by civil society and members of the public concerning Israel’s policies and conduct during the military operations in the Gaza Strip. The Mission also recommends that Israel should set up an independent inquiry to assess whether the treatment by Israeli judicial authorities of Palestinian and Jewish Israelis expressing dissent in connection with the offensive was discriminatory, in terms of both charges and detention pending trial. The results of the inquiry should be made public and, subject to the findings, appropriate remedial action should be taken;
“The Mission recommends that the Government of Israel should refrain from any action of reprisal against Palestinian and Israeli individuals and organizations that have cooperated with the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, in particular individuals who have appeared at the public hearings held by the Mission in Gaza and Geneva and expressed criticism of actions by Israel.”
By Yusuf Fernandez | Al Manar | December 28, 2009
Israel has become a mortal threat for Lebanon since its creation on the Palestinian lands. In an article entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s”, which appeared in the World Zionist Organization’s periodical Kivunim in February 1982, Oded Yinon, a journalist and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs and former senior Foreign Ministry official, told of “…the total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional, localized governments as the precedent for the entire Arab world…”. Therefore, the existence of a strong and independent Lebanon was considered as a main obstacle for Zionist plans for hegemony in the region.
There is no doubt that Israel is now the same threat for Lebanon that it has been for decades. Some weeks ago, Israel announced that it would continue to carry out espionage activities in Lebanese territory. The announcement came after the Lebanese found an Israeli espionage device, which was later destroyed by Israeli aircraft, near the southern village of Houla. The incident was the latest in a long list of Israeli violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was designed to end the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Previously, Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF), undoubtedly with Hezbollah’s assistance, uncovered 11 Israeli espionage networks made up of 15 suspects involved in these activities.
“Every single Israeli overflight of Lebanon is a violation (of the Resolution 1701),” said the UN special envoy for Lebanon, Michael Williams. “To the best of my knowledge, there is probably no other country in the world which is subject to such an intrusive regime of aerial surveillance.”
The 10th UN report published in June witnessed 388 Israeli airspace violations, 48 territorial violations and 77 sea violations. According to analysts, Israel’s continued violations of Lebanese territory, sea and airspace have rendered the UN Resolution irrelevant.
Israeli media outlets claim that Hezbollah have strengthened its military power and now has more and more advanced missiles than it had before Israeli assault on Lebanon in July 2006. According to Israeli military analysts, any move against Lebanon would require a move first against Hezbollah’s capability to disrupt life in Israel with its rockets and missiles.
Actually, Hezbollah has become an icon of the resistance of the Arab and Muslim world due to its two victories over Israel in 2000 and 2006. With only some thousands of fighters Hezbollah defeated a much larger army equipped with US-supplied state-of-art weapons.
For his part, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has pointed out that the resistance will continue to boost its capacities in order to fulfill its role in liberating the Lebanese territory remaining in the hands of Israeli occupiers. The statement acknowledges the right of “the Lebanese people, army and the resistance to liberate the Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shuba hills and the northern part of the village of Al-Ghajar, as well as to defend Lebanon and its territorial waters in the face of any enemy by all available means.”
Hezbollah’s military role will be implemented by cooperating with the Lebanese army. In its new manifesto, Hezbollah says “The Israeli threat calls for Lebanon to have a defence strategy built on a marriage between a popular resistance that helps to defend the country against Israeli aggression and a national army that protects the country and its stability.” In this sense, Hezbollah has called on the Lebanese state to strengthen the capacity of the regular army and to acquire advanced weapons for it. A strong Lebanese army has been always a basic point in Hezbollah’s project for Lebanon.
Military analysts in the West agree that Hezbollah’s defensive strategy -the cooperation between a regular army and a highly motivated guerrilla army- is the most successful formula for Lebanon to confront a new Israeli aggression. There have been other examples of such type of cooperation in history. In Vietnam, the National Liberation Front or Vietcong cooperated during the anti-imperialist war with the North Vietnamese army in order to develop a successful war strategy against US invaders. In China, Mao Zedong created a guerrilla army that was able to defeat the regular army of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949. The same thing happened in Cuba in 1959 and in other places.
History shows that a highly-motivated and ideologically united irregular army can fight a powerful enemy army better than a regular army due to several reasons, including its capacity to mobilize the population in a people’s war against an invader. In this sense, no military analyst considers that the Lebanese regular army is able play the same role as Hezbollah in a conflict.
Therefore, Hezbollah and its arms have become a critical deterrent against Israel’s ambitions and aggressiveness. A strongly armed Hezbollah will persuade any Israeli leader to have second thoughts before launching any war on Lebanon, Syria or another country in the region. This is why Hezbollah has become the main obstacle for the US-Zionist project in the Middle East.
Knowing that Israel is unable to defeat Hezbollah, US lawmakers, many of whom are bribed by US pro-Israeli organizations, want Hezbollah to be stripped of its deterrence ability against Israel. A few days before the visit of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to Washington due on 12 December, US lawmakers urged the Obama administration to condition the military assistance for the Lebanese army on the agreement of Hezbollah to hand in its arms. “We must seek to support stronger multilateral efforts to disarm Hezbollah and clear southern Lebanon of Iranian weapons,” 31 lawmakers wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
US President Barack Obama has also called on Lebanon to crack down on arms smuggling into the country, saying the weapons posed a potential threat to neighboring Israel. Obama did not explain why Lebanon should become defenceless just to please its mortal enemy. Actually, the US, which gives billions of dollars in military aid to Israel each year, has denounced any foreign military aid to the Lebanese Resistance, especially that coming from Syria or Iran. “What we see is absolute American commitment to Israeli interests, Israeli conditions, and Israeli security … while disregarding the dignity or feelings of the Arab and Muslims people and their nations and governments,” Sayyed Nasrallah said in a recent speech broadcast to tens of thousands of supporters in a southern Beirut suburb.
The United States has long provided military assistance to Lebanon — including 410 million dollars to the army and the police. But Washington has not handed over any sophisticated arms for fear they could end up being used against Israel. No one can think seriously that US aid is aimed at protecting Lebanon against an Israeli aggression. Actually, the purpose of this aid is only to “strengthen” the Lebanese army enough so that it could be used by a hypothetical pro-West government in Lebanon, willing to do the “dirty work” for the US and Israel, against the Resistance. However, the US will only give Lebanon second-class weapons in order to prevent this country from developing an effective defense against the Israeli enemy.
No serious politician in Lebanon can trust the US. Washington’s ultimate plan for Lebanon is to have a Western controlled government ready to sacrifice Lebanese and Arab interests, force the Resistance to disarm and transform the country into a launching pad against Damascus, an Israeli and US puppet. However, in order to implement this scheme, Washington needs “partners” inside Lebanon.
Christian 14 March forces, backed by Maronite Patriarch Sfeir, share the US and Israeli view about the disarmament of the Resistance. However, the influence of these groups is not large in Lebanon, particularly after the strengthening of relations between Syria and Lebanon, which has isolated those parties and their hidden or public anti-Syrian views. Although these groups have shown their reservations or objections to the Sixth Article of the Ministerial Statement, which has been overwhelmingly passed recently by the Lebanese Parliament, few people in Lebanon agree with them. Most Lebanese understand what the reality is and this is why the largest and most important Lebanese parties agree on supporting the Resistance’s right to confront Israeli occupation and threats.
Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 28 December 2009
In October, EPAL, Portugal’s state water company, announced a deal with Mekorot, Israel’s state water company. An intern who responded to the news by informing colleagues of Mekorot’s role in Israel’s discriminatory water policies and assistance in its violation of international law was immediately sacked. News of the firing has inspired Palestine solidarity activists to campaign to end the deal. Similarly, the EPAL workers’ committee has denounced management’s decision.
EPAL’s actions have also drawn the attention of the influential Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias. In an article published on 20 November, EPAL’s public relations director Jose Zenha admitted that the intern would only have been warned for using the internal communication system for circulating information if her message would have [been considered to be] favorable for the company.
Following the intern’s dismissal, the Portuguese Solidarity Committee on Palestine (PSCP) has jumped into action by sending a letter to EPAL on Mekorot’s actions in Palestine, calling on the company to end the deal. EPAL replied, stating that it did not want to get involved in politics.
Meanwhile, PSCP has formed a coalition to fight the contract, including the local chapter of Amnesty International, anti-war groups and the Portuguese Campaign Against the Privatization of Water. On 27 November, the coalition dispatched a letter to EPAL stating that the collaboration between the company and Mekorot is not only contrary to international and European law, but also to EPAL’s social responsibility policies. The coalition has also requested a meeting with EPAL’s Zenha to discuss the matter, which Zenha refused. He only stated that EPAL intends “to strictly adhere to Portuguese, European and international law in all its activities.”
The PSCP has been actively reaching out to government ministers and members of parliament. Since EPAL is a subsidiary of the state water company Agua de Portugal, the PSCP asked Dulce Passaro, the Minister of Environment, for clarification on the deal. The PSCP’s request received spontaneous support from three political parties and coalition activists also met with concerned parliamentarians who were supportive of their efforts to end the Mekorot deal. Parliamentarians and the coalition are currently awaiting clarification from Minister Passaro.
On 18 December, the coalition also obtained support from the Sindicato Nacional des Trabalhadores da Administracao Local (STAL), the trade union of workers in local government. In a letter to Prime Minister Jose Socrates and Passaro, STAL explained that the EPAL-Mekorot contract is “not a purely commercial agreement.” Citing international reports, STAL asserted that Israeli water policy as implemented by Mekorot is contributing to systematic violations of international law and prevents the Palestinian people’s access to sufficient water by force and through imposition of various discriminatory practices. STAL expressed its support for the campaign to end the deal stating that it is “an agreement that is immoral and should end immediately” and demanded that the government take the necessary steps to terminate that agreement.
Building on these efforts over the past two months, the Portuguese coalition began raising international support for its campaign, including the publication of an international call for action to oppose the Portuguese water deal with Mekorot. Among the organizations in support of the call is Amnesty International, whose central office responded by sending a protest letter to EPAL.
Adri Nieuwhof is an independent consultant based in Switzerland.
By Thomas C. Mountain
December 28, 2009
The United Nations via its proxies in the African Union supplied Ugandan and Burundi military have been randomly shelling civilian neighborhoods in Mogadishu in retaliation for guerilla attacks carried out by the Somali resistance.
The UN/AU has occupied a small “green zone” in Mogadishu after the expulsion of the Ethiopian military by the Somali armed resistance and claims to represent a “democratically elected” Somali government. In reality, this UN/AU band of “peacekeepers” is there to prop up the Western imposed puppet regime of allegedly Al -Queda linked “terrorist” Sheik Sharif.
The Somali resistance, an increasingly fractured bunch, has one thing in common, hatred for this Western imposed band of quislings. Small squads of fighters regularly attack the dug in UN/AU occupation forces and occasionally do some really significant damage. For many months now, the UN/AU army in Mogadishu has begun retaliation shelling of civilian neighborhoods after particularly effective attacks by the resistance.
Using hit and run mortar bombardment, as well as manned explosive attacks there is really no target for the UN/AU forces to respond to. In their frustration (along with not being paid their salaries for some six months now) the UN/AU occupation army randomly bombards the surrounding neighborhoods in Mogadishu. The following is a report from a well-known Somali web site.
“In the last three months alone the United Nations forces in Mogadishu have killed more than 160 civilians and have injured more than 400. On December 20, 2009, UN indiscriminate shelling killed 14 civilians and 33 wounded in Bakara Market and Elasha Biyaha districts. October 28, 2009, UN shelling killed 4 civilians and 11 were wounded in Wardhiigley district. On October 26, 2009, UN shelling killed 5 civilians and wounded 20 in Yaaqshiid district. On October 22, 2009, UN shelling killed 17 civilians and 60 wounded in Holwadag and Hodan districts. 29 September, 2009 UN shells landed busy Bakara market killing 12 people and wounding 30 people. These numbers are conservative numbers but the real toll is higher as many of victims die on the spot and are not carried to the hospital to be officially reported.”
It would seem that the UN/AU forces are little more than hired thugs doing the dirty work on the behalf of the USA and its European allies whose main goal is to see Somalia in a state of continued conflict and chaos. Peacekeepers or Peacekillers? You be the judge.
Thomas C. Mountain, residing in Eritrea, was in a former life an educator, activist and alternative medicine practitioner in the USA. Email thomascmountain at yahoo.com.
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By Stephen Lendman | December 28, 2009
On June 6, 1967, when Israeli forces invaded Gaza and the West Bank, on the second day of the so-called Six-Day War (June 5 – 10, 1967), they entered three Palestinian villages in the Latroun salient – Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba, forcibly expelling the residents, numbering over 10,000 at the time. By the next day, most were gone while Israel began razing village lands and erasing their memory in an area well-known for its water resources and fertility, located northwest of Jerusalem along the Green Line. One soldier at the time explained that they:
“were told to take up positions around the approaches to the villages in order to prevent those villagers – who had heard the Israeli assurances over the radio that they could return to their homes in peace – from returning to their homes. The order was – shoot over their heads and tell them there is no access to the village,” even though Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 states:
“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” Doing so is a “grave breach,” and those responsible are criminally liable.
Forty-two years later, their former homes gone and land expropriated, the survivors remain displaced, unable to return in violation of international law and Article 11 of UN Resolution 194:
“Resolv(ing) that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
Israel never complied even though its admission to the UN was conditional on accepting this and other relevant UN resolutions.
Established in 1979, Al-Haq is a Ramallah, West Bank-based independent Palestinian human rights NGO dedicated to protecting and promoting these rights and the rule of law in Occupied Palestine. In December 2007, it published a report still relevant titled, “Where Villages Stood: Israel’s Continuing Violations of International Law in Occupied Latroun, 1967 – 2007,” and dedicated it “To the people of Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba, and to all Palestinians who remain displaced from their homes, their villages, their land.”
Focusing on the Latroun villages, it highlights the plight of all Palestinians – denied their rights by forced displacements, prevented from returning, and in the Occupied Territories still living under an oppressive 42-year military occupation. Al Haq’s purpose was to document an international crime, disclose the policy behind it, provide victims the evidence they need to seek justice, and the world community ample reason to demand it. After 42 repressive years, Israel’s occupation “has acquired some of the (worst) characteristics of colonialism and apartheid” with no redress in sight to end it.
Following the Six-Day War, Israel expropriated 400 square km from displaced persons and refugees, and threatened Palestinians along the Green Line with more, especially in the three Latroun villages, targeted for annexation prior to the occupation by establishing irreversible “facts on the ground” when completed.
Al-Haq’s study uncovered official Israeli political and military documents and compiled firsthand accounts from interviews with former soldiers who participated in the operation and were willing to discuss it freely. Thankfully so because their truths must be told.
The Story of the Latroun Villages: Their Destruction and Displacement
In Israel’s 1948 “War of Independence,” the Old City of Jerusalem (in East Jerusalem) and Latroun salient were key targets fought hard for, lost, and thereafter “engrained in the collective psyche of the Israeli military.” As a result, Latroun remained a West Bank enclave along the Green Line, separated from Israel by a “No Man’s Land” buffer zone.
The Six-Day War achieved the earlier loss, erased a “bitter memory” according to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, and provided an opportunity for more land and its valuable resources by expelling Palestinian residents and denying their right to return.
From the start, no resistance was met because the Jordanian military withdrew the night before, knowing it would be outnumbered so prioritized its defense of Jerusalem. As a result, Palestinian residents began fleeing as soon as Israeli tanks approached, and those remaining were forcibly expelled, in many cases with no time to take essentials, including food and water for a 20 km walk to Ramallah (in intense heat), their only way to get there not knowing their fate, yet believing at the time they’d be allowed to return.
Unknown to them then:
— expulsion meant permanent displacement;
— Latroun was to be part of Israel and all traces of their former land destroyed, except in their collective memories;
— village destruction was a punitive land grab accomplished by bulldozing and blasting with explosives, not the result of war; reportedly, some residents who remained were buried under their homes, a willful act of murder;
— destruction was complete, including homes, schools, mosques, archaeological landmarks, a medical clinic, wells, an agricultural association, and a police station – everything leveled to Judaize it.
One participating soldier said it was “the blackest hour of my life. Things were done here which should not have been done, and I participated in an action that I shouldn’t have been part of.” Others felt the same way as they witnessed innocent civilians, including the sick and elderly, persecuted and displaced. Those too frail to leave were buried alive, an act too horrifying for some to bear.
Dr. Moussa Abu Ghosh remembered his cousin, Hasan Shukri, buried beneath his home:
He “was nineteen, an invalid, paralyzed from polio. They found his wheelchair outside and found his body underneath the house.” Others recalled similar incidents, but how many is unknown, perhaps dozens of civilians willfully murdered, guilty of being Arabs on land Israel wanted and took.
After the war, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol told Israeli ministers:
“For the first time since the establishment of the state, the security threat to Israel from the West Bank has been removed, and here I am reminded particularly of Latroun, which for us was a worry, as (in 1948) the territory in that area cost us much blood even though in the end it remained on the other side.”
No security threat existed, but Israel got its revenge and the territory it sought. The major Western media was silent, much like today, so most people accept the mythology of a beleaguered Israel surrounded by hostile Arabs, acting heroically in self-defense.
Israel’s Use of the Latroun Land
After the Six-Day War, Israeli Defence Forces and Defence Ministry Archive (IDFA) Military Organising Orders, June 1967 IDFA 901/2/281, section 4 stipulated that the GOC Central Command would be in charge of the area west of the Green Line, including Latroun, to secure it permanently for Israel. Judaizing followed in violation of international law, amounting to what former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, John Dugard, called:
a “form of colonialism of the kind declared to be a denial of fundamental human rights and contrary to the Charter of the United Nations as recalled in the General Assembly’s Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.”
It “solemnly proclaims the necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end (of) colonialism in all its forms and manifestations” because it’s fundamentally contrary to international law and the very notion of human rights.
Not for Israel, however, acting outside the law thereafter to colonize the Territories (focusing on the West Bank) and incorporate them into greater Israel, with borders yet to be determined because land seizures keep expanding them for new settlements and enlarging established ones.
In 1970, Mevo Horon was built on Beit Nouba land, initially for ideologically religious settlers in prefabricated buildings, now greatly expanded in more permanent form. “The settlement contains a Jewish religious school and it exploits the surrounding land, to which Palestinian access is banned, for agricultural purposes.” The entire settlement, of course, is built on Palestinian land, stolen to provide new homes for Jews.
In 1973, Bernard Bloomfield, president of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Canada, led a campaign to raise $15 million for a recreational park for Israelis. His vision was realized where Imwas and Yalo once stood:
“a proud tribute to Canada,” in his words, “and to the Canadian Jewish community whose vision and foresight helped transform a barren stretch of land into a major national recreational area for the people of Israel.”
Unmentioned was that it was on stolen, occupied land, the village names now erased, forgotten, and forbidden to be mentioned until the JNF and Civil Administration agreed under pressure, in March 2006, to erect two signs acknowledging its former existence. It was short-lived, however, as within weeks the signs were vandalized, uprooted and stolen to preserve the new name – Ayalon Park or Ayalon/Canada Park under the administration of the Canada JNF.
It’s a recreational area solely for Jews on former Palestinian land, where its former owners can’t enter. Canada’s JNF calls it “Israel’s Central Park.” Knowing their history, Palestinians are justifiably outraged.
The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Railway
Israel Railways Ltd. is the independent state-owned company running the nation’s rail network, and since March 2003 began building a high-speed line connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, via Modi’in. By early 2008, trains were to be operating between Tel Aviv and Modi’in Central Station, but the entire line to Jerusalem won’t be in service until 2016, according to current estimates.
The final portion from Modi’in to Jerusalem will go through Latroun between Canada Park, Mevo Horon, and Beit Sourik. As a result in May 2006, the Civil Administration issued military orders to seize Palestinian land, the way the Separation Wall is expropriating about 12% of the West Bank. The rail line is taking more.
Denying Latroun Residents Their Right to Return
Before the Six-Day War, Israel planned to expel Latroun residents and prevent their return, although at the time there was debate on how and whether to do it. On June 25, 1967, disagreement arose between the military and government ministers over whether destruction and displacement was justified and about how to deal with refugees post-conflict, mainly from Qalqiliya and Latroun. At issue was Israel’s image, a matter of less concern to the military that wanted full control over a strategic area, the position that finally prevailed.
In the end, a compromise let Qalqiliya residents return but not Latroun ones on the premise that showing some concern would be diplomatically beneficial. Former Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba residents in Jordan were forced to stay while a grossly inadequate resettlement proposal was offered others in the West Bank, one they never accepted.
Thereafter on October 23, 1967, Military Order No. 146 barred them from returning and declared Latroun a “closed area,” effectively confiscating their land and declaring that “persons using the road will not delay their travel nor will they leave the road” in order to prevent their return to Latroun. The order is still in force.
Nonetheless, village residents kept petitioning for their rights, each time without response, most recently in November 2007, but as time passes, the more embedded facts on the ground become.
Fourth Geneva Convention’s relevance affected Article 35 of Israel’s Military Proclamation No. 3 stating that its military courts “must apply (its) provisions….In case of conflict between this Order and the said Convention, the Convention shall prevail.” So why hasn’t it?
Because the ruling was subsequently reversed despite the international community’s firmness that it applies universally and Israel has no right to disregard it. In its 2004 ruling on the Separation Wall, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) affirmed this interpretation, and so did the 1907 Hague Regulations.
In addition, international humanitarian and human rights laws apply, according to the UN General Assembly, ICRC, and independent judicial bodies. “Israel’s claim that customary and conventional human rights laws do not apply to the OPT as the Palestinian population is not within its sovereign territory has been almost universally refuted.”
Under Fourth Geneva’s Article 4, Latroun villagers were protected persons prohibited from being forcibly displaced, yet they were and prevented from returning.
This principle goes back to the 1863 Lieber Code that says “private citizens are no longer (to be) carried off to distant parts,” and the Hague Regulations state that “the practice of deporting persons was regarded at the beginning of (the 20th) century as having fallen into abeyance,” stopping just short of prohibition but inferring that interning or expelling civilians falls below minimal civilized standards and are hence unacceptable and effectively illegal.
Israel is bound under international law but disregards it nonetheless. Yet two weeks after the Six-Day War ended, serious cabinet debate considered compliance because keeping legitimate residents displaced served no military or security purpose. Nonetheless, Latroun ones lost everything, so for them the consequences were grim. Families were separated and unprotected, and accounts reported road side deaths from exhaustion and exposure.
The ICRC’s Appeals Chamber (ICTY) emphasized the link between prohibiting deportation, forced transfer, and residents’ right to their property stating:
The “protection interests underlying the prohibition against deportation include the right of the victim to stay in his or her home and community and the right not to be deprived of his or her property by being forcibly displaced to another location.” Latroun villagers lost everything. For some, including their lives.
Property Destruction and Appropriation
Article 23(g) of the 1907 Hague Regulations affirms a well-established international law principle that it’s “especially forbidden (to) destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.” This applies to property owned privately, publicly, and by institutions related to religions, charities, education, and the arts and science.
According to Article 6(b) of the Nuremberg Charter:
War crimes include “violations of the laws or customs of war (including) plunder of private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”
Under Fourth Geneva’s Article 53:
“Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”
These provisions apply to occupied territory, and thus relate to Israel’s wanton looting and destruction of Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba. No military necessity warranted it. After fighting ended and Israeli forces occupied the area, it was done solely to displace the residents and seize their land for Jews only use.
“That the villages were destroyed in the context of occupying forces exercising effective control over the area as opposed to in the course of battle between two armies is significant in rendering Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention applicable to all property destroyed in Latroun.”
The 1868 Petersburg Declaration first recognized the principle, stating that:
“the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy.”
Thereafter, the concept was interpreted to mean acts of war must be warranted by “absolute military necessity.” An authoritative ICRC study also prohibits property destruction “unless required by imperative military necessity.”
The post-WWII Hostages Trial of Wilhelm List and Others (United States Military Tribunal, Nuremberg) established that the:
“destruction of property to be lawful must be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war…. Destruction as an end in itself is a violation of international law. There must be some reasonable connection between the destruction of property and the overcoming of the enemy forces.”
This was “patently not the case in Imwas, Yalo or Beit Nouba.” The IDF brazenly violated established international law. Fighting had ceased. There was no resistance. Those displaced were non-combatants, and the property destroyed served no military objective.
According to IDF chief of staff, Uzi Narkiss (1925 – 1997), destroying the Latroun villages was done for “revenge” after failure to capture the area in 1948. For Defense Minister Moshe Dayan (1915 – 1981), it was done “not as a result of battle, but of punitive action.” It led Israeli writer Amos Kenan (1927 – 2009) to question “this idiotic approach (of) collective punishment,” forbidden under Fourth Geneva’s Article 33 stating:
“No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”
Destroying Latroun continued what began during Israel’s War of Independence that expelled about 800,000 Palestinians, slaughtered many others, and destroyed 531 villages, crops and agricultural land, and 11 urban neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and elsewhere.
After expelling 650 Palestinians on June 11, 1967, Israeli forces destroyed the entire Mughrabi Quarter of East Jerusalem’s Old City, and thereafter continued a state policy of displacement and demolition:
— for punitive reasons;
— to build and expand settlements;
— establish military zones; and to
— create public areas solely for Jews and tourism.
According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, an estimated 24,145 homes have been demolished in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza from 1967 – July 2009 – 4,247, according to the UN, during Operation Cast Lead alone.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under Article 49(6) unequivocally stating:
“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
However, according to Israeli authorities, this provision only prohibits “forcible” transferring of the occupying power’s population from its territory unrelated to “voluntary or induced migration.” Not so, however, as is clear and unequivocal. Again, Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 states:
“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
In addition, the International Criminal Court (ICJ) affirmed that Article 49:
“prohibits not only deportations or forced transfers of population….but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory.” As a result, “the Israeli settlements in the OPT (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”
They represent a calculated scheme to displace Palestinians and expropriate as much of their land as possible. From 1967 – 2007, Israel established 121 settlements, 106 outposts, and a dozen (de facto settlement) neighborhoods, now home to about 500,000 Jews. As of summer 2009, construction continues. No settlement freeze exists, and official state policy is to keep expanding them, seize all of East Jerusalem, and all valued West Bank land, expelling Palestinians in the process.
Grave Breaches and Individual Criminal Responsibility
The Nuremberg Tribunal established the principle of individual responsibility for committing international crimes directly or by “order(ing), solicit(ing) or induc(ing) the commission of such a crime (as well as) aid(ing), abet(ting) or otherwise assist(ing) in its commission.”
These are “grave breaches” under Fourth Geneva’s Article 147 and are considered among the most serious war crimes requiring “effective penal sanctions” against persons committing them or ordering them to be committed. As such, all High Contracting Parties are obligated to seek justice by arresting and bringing those responsible before a domestic or foreign court. In other words, for crimes this heinous and others as severe, the well-established universal jurisdiction principle applies.
For Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba, at issue are protected persons and property rights under Fourth Geneva and other long-standing international law provisions. As explained above, they’re unambiguous so parties in violation must be fully held accountable.
However, in prosecuting war crimes, it’s often challenging to establish a clear link between senior commanders and civilian authorities on the one hand and acts committed by their subordinates. Yet the highest authorities can be held responsible if they knew, should have known, and/or failed to take all necessary measures to assure no laws of war were broken.
“In the case of the Latroun villages, evidence of the direct responsibility and complicity of figures (at) the (highest levels of the) political and military leadership presents itself,” including the prime minister, members of his cabinet, IDF chief of staff, and his top commanders. They ordered and agreed to actions on the ground by a 10 – 3 cabinet vote.
In addition, “the forcible expulsion and continuing displacement of the Latroun residents was not a once-off occurrence, never to be repeated elsewhere in the OPT.” The policy continues unabated and is ongoing through home demolitions, land seizures, settlement expansions, daily harassment, house searches, arrests, killings, torture, cutting off water and power, restricting free movement, curtailing economic activity, denying farmers access to their land, and more in grave violation of international law.
The Right of Return
Besides being established under numerous UN Resolutions, including UN Resolution 194, Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 requires that persons forcibly displaced “shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.”
In addition, Principle 28 of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement says it’s the:
“primary duty and responsibility (of combatants and/or occupiers) to establish conditions, as well as provide the means, which allow internally displaced persons to return voluntarily, in safety and with dignity, to their homes or places of habitual residence.”
Latroun villagers “hold an inalienable right to return to the OPT under instruments of international human right law….This right is held not only by those who fled to Jordan in 1967, but also their descendants, once they have maintained genuine links with the territory of origin.” In addition, those unable to return or whose homes have been destroyed, are legally entitled to compensation for their loss and suffering.
Businesses benefit prominently from the spoils of war and occupation, yet their responsibility has “yet to be clearly defined or regulated by international law.” However, “precedents….have arisen….primarily in the context of reparations for victims of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.”
The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor’s finding is pertinent to Latroun and other occupied territories. It held that:
“Indonesian business companies, including State Owned Enterprises, and other international and multinational corporations and businesses (that) benefited from the occupation” must contribute to reparations to compensate East Timorese occupation victims.
According to the ICRC, international humanitarian law obligates states, soldiers, other armed groups, and corporations, whose activities were involved in a war or military occupation. In other words, war profiteering has a price, but who will enforce payment.
After 42 years of military occupation, Israeli policy remains defined by its:
— lawlessness and belligerency;
— ruthless incivility and suppression of human and civil rights;
— “voracious desire” (for) permanent control over as much of the West Bank as possible, including East Jerusalem,”
— refusal to seek an equitable durable peace; and
— determination to fragment the population into powerless, servile, isolated cantons under an oppressive Kafkaesque “matrix of control.”
No easy solutions exist. None are proposed, nor will there be any from the top down. With their growing grassroots support, it’s for committed Palestinians to achieve their long-denied equity, justice and self-determination. That’s how change always comes.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
A poll shows that the German public now has less faith in their political system than at any other time since World War II, mainly due to the financial crisis.
The survey conducted by Bertelsmann Foundation found on Sunday that about 70 percent of those questioned did not feel that they could count on their political and business leaders, or the education system and the social welfare network.
Nearly fifty percent of respondents said they have reservations about representative democracy as a political system.
“Even the social market economy is far from being seen as positively as it once was,” opinion researcher Peter Kruse said of Germany’s system of free markets with a strong social safety net.
The loss of faith is believed to be mainly due to what Germans see as their government’s inadequate attempt to revive the slumping economy.
The poll also shows that the EUR 8.5 billion (USD12.2 billion) tax relief package passed by parliament this month has unsettled Germans at a time of record public debt.