Flouting international demands for an independent investigation of its deadly attack on a humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formed an internal commission composed of three Israelis and two, non-voting international observers. The commission chair, retired Israeli Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel, expressed his hope that the panel would finish its work as “quickly” as possible. And Netanyahu has promised that the “Gaza flotilla probe will show the world Israel acted lawfully.” Both comments leave many observers wondering how seriously the findings of a quick, internal investigation with a seemingly pre-determined outcome can be taken. Skepticism is heightened by the way in which Israel handled evidence of the incident and by what many see as its misinformation campaign designed to discredit the flotilla’s humanitarian aid workers.
How did Israel handle evidence of its deadly raid in international waters?
According to Australian journalist and flotilla passenger Paul McGeough, “The systematic attempt and very deliberate first priority for the Israeli soldiers as they came on the ships was to shut down the story, to confiscate all cameras, to shut down satellites, to smash the CCTV cameras that were on the Mavi Marmara, to make sure that nothing was going out. They were hellbent on controlling the story.”
After seizing all recordings of the event, Israeli authorities then began releasing highly-edited footage, including footage stolen from journalists and others on board the ships. The Committee to Protect Journalists denounced Israel’s use of stolen footage. And the Foreign Press Association in Israel, representing hundreds of foreign correspondents, called the use a “clear violation of journalistic ethics and unacceptable” and warned news outlets to “treat the material with appropriate caution.”
Israel claims its heavily-armed Navy commandos were “lynched” by the flotilla passengers and acted in self-defense. Do the facts support this claim?
CLAIM #1: The violence onboard the Mavi Marmara resulted from the surprising resistance the Israeli commandos encountered when they boarded the ship. According to an Israeli military spokesman, “We had in mind a sit-down, a linking of arms.”
- Testimony from passengers confirms that Israeli commandoes began firing before boarding the ship. According to Al-Jazeera correspondent and Mavi Marmara passenger Jamal El Shayyal, “Commandos on board the choppers joined the firing, using live ammunition, before any of the soldiers had descended onto the ship. Two unarmed civilians were killed just meters away from me. Dozens of unarmed civilians were injured right before my eyes”
- An Israeli soldier’s testimony shows that “the commandos threw a number of stun grenades and fired warning shots before rappelling down onto the deck.”
- Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren acknowledged that Israel considered the Mavi Marmara to be “simply too large to stop by nonviolent means.”
- And Israel’s Maariv newspaper documented the significant planning that went into the raid, including the approval of the use of force by senior government officials well ahead of the incident.
CLAIM #2: “when IDF forces tried to quietly carry out their mission to stop the flotilla, they unfortunately met violence, including from firearms on deck of the ship that were used against IDF soldiers.” Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon
IN FACT: The IDF could provide no evidence of this claim. The boats and passengers were thoroughly searched before setting sail and were only cleared to sail because they were found to be free of weapons. IDF sources then changed their story claiming that firearms may have been thrown overboard. Mavi Marmara passengers confirm that firearms were in fact thrown overboard – firearms which passengers confiscated from the Israeli commandos in self defense. According to Swedish Mavi Marmara passenger and professor of religion Mattias Gardell, “An Uzi and a pistol were seized, emptied of ammunition and were thrown into the sea. We would by all means show that there was a peaceful campaign and that we did not have weapons….Then came the paratroopers in four helicopters and they shot sharply already from the time they were in the air.”
CLAIM #3: When Israeli soldiers boarded the ship “they were going to be killed and they had to act in self-defense” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
- As a result of the IDF’s violence, which began prior to boarding the ship, nine passengers on the Mavi Marmara were killed, having been shot a total of 30 times. Five of the nine were shot in the head, some at close range, some from the back, and one, a 19 year old American citizen named Furkan Dogan, was shot in what can only be seen as execution-style: once in the chest and four times in the head from a range of less than 45 centimeters.
- Photographs from the incident show that, once they were disarmed, IDF soldiers had their wounds treated and were given water by passengers, further disproving the claim that they were intent on killing Israelis.
- The testimony of filmmaker Iara Lee who was onboard the Mavi Marmara shows that passengers called for medical help for the injured, “but [they] were ignored, and a lot of people who were injured actually ended up bleeding to death and died.” Her testimony is supported by other eyewitness accounts.
What other claims did Israel make that were then retracted or proven false?
“GO BACK TO AUSCHWITZ”
The Israeli military released what it claimed were audio transmissions of flotilla passengers responding to radio calls from the IDF by telling the soldiers to “go back to Auschwitz” and to quot;remember 9/11.”
- Investigative journalists uncovered the fact that IDF had previously released what appeared to be identical video of the exchange between this Israeli sailor and the Mavi Marmara in which the only reply from the ship was “Negative, negative. Our destination is Gaza. Our destination is Gaza.”
- One of the individuals whose voice appears on the IDF’s tape, Huwaida Arraf, confirmed that she was not even on the Mavi Marmara, but on another ship altogether.
- The IDF then admitted that the audio transmission was edited and released what it claims was the full, unedited transmission. Though as New York Times reporter Robert Mackey points out, “since they are snippets of audio over a black screen, it is impossible to verify their authenticity.”
IHH LINKS TO TERROR
Israel claims that groups participating in the flotilla, particularly the Turkish aid group , Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH) “are non-governmental organizations that support terror and are affiliated with terror” and that the flotilla’s organizers “have close, longstanding ties with agents of international terror, international Islam, Hamas, Al-Qaeda and others.”
- The Israeli government failed to provide evidence of individual claims of terrorist affiliations or intentions.
- The Israeli government edited its own websites to remove Al-Qaeda assertions after it could not substantiate claims that flotilla passengers had connections to Al-Qaeda.
- The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a think tank with ties to Israel’s Defense Ministry, concluded that there is “no known evidence of current links between IHH and ‘global jihad elements.”
- Not only does the IHH not appear on the US State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, the group played an active role in delivering humanitarian aid to Haiti after the devastating January earthquake while the US military directed relief efforts there.
What about Israel’s claims regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza?
Israel claims that it told the flotilla that if they docked in Ashdod, the Israeli government would “transfer their aid through the existing land crossings, in accordance with established procedures.”
Did the flotilla passengers have reason to doubt that Israel would in fact let the humanitarian aid enter Gaza?
Yes. According to a guide produced by the BBC, for much of the last three years, Gaza’s “1.5 million people have relied on less than a quarter of the volume of imported supplies they received in December 2005.” This falls far short of the minimum required to avoid malnutrition, poverty, and prevent or treat a variety of illnesses. According to Amnesty International’s recently-released annual report, the siege has resulted in “mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages.”
Israel claims that “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza“
Consider the following statistics:
- 61 percent of households face food insecurity, defined as inadequate physical, social or economic access to food, and rely on assistance from aid agencies. An additional 16.2 percent are considered vulnerable to food insecurity.
- 65 percent of the food insecure are children under the age of 18.
- Unemployment is at 40 percent.
- 10 percent of children under five are stunted (low height for age, usually attributed to a chronic lack of protein and micronutrients, including iron and essential vitamins), a steadily increasing trend over recent years, according to UNICEF.
- More than 10 percent of children are chronically malnourished, according to the World Health Organization, a significant increase since siege began.
- The number of children under five suffering from acute malnutrition nearly doubled between 2006 and 2008 from 1.4 to 2.4 percent, according to UNICEF.
- 65 percent of children aged 9-12 months, and 35 percent of pregnant women are anemic.
- According to a recent poverty survey conducted by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the number of Palestinian refugees completely unable to secure access to food and lacking the means to purchase even the most basic items, such as soap, school stationery and safe drinking water (‘abject poverty’) has tripled since the imposition of the blockade in June 2007.
Israel claims that its blockade of Gaza is in response to rockets fired into Israel.
- As documented by the Israeli human rights organization Gisha, “Beginning in September 2007, Israel openly stated that it would restrict the movement of goods into and out of Gaza not in order to protect against security threats stemming from the transfer, but rather as part of a policy to apply “pressure” or “sanctions” on the Hamas regime.” This amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s civilians, and as such is a violation of international humanitarian law (Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949). Further, as an occupying power, Israel is required under Articles 55, 59 and 60 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure free, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief and is prohibited from impeding the full realization of the occupied people’s human rights. Israel’s blockade impedes Gazans’ rights to food, to an adequate standard of living, to work, and to the highest attainable standard of health.
- Further, according to Amnesty International, Hamas upheld its end of the 2008 cease-fire and halted rockets, yet Israel did not respond by lowering the blockade on Gaza. The cease-fire had been “the single most important factor in reducing civilian casualties and attacks on civilians to the lowest level since the outbreak of the uprising (intifada) more than eight years ago. The ceasefire [had] brought enormous improvements in the quality of life in Sderot… However, nearby in the Gaza Strip the Israeli blockade remains in place and the population has so far seen few dividends from the ceasefire.”
- The cease-fire was unilaterally broken by Israel on November 4th, 2008 and led to an escalation of hostility and the eventual Operation Cast Lead.
- Those “22 days of death and destruction” resulted in the deaths of roughly 1,400 Palestinians, destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, schools, and hospitals, and left its citizens in even greater humanitarian crisis than before.
- The items blockaded by the Israeli government at various times include “light bulbs, candles, matches, books, musical instruments, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, shampoo and conditioner.” These items have no connection to Hamas rocket capacity and serve only to punish Gaza’s civilian population , half of which is comprised of children.
For more information on the legal issues surrounding Israel’s blockade of Gaza and attack on the flotilla: Israel’s Siege of Gaza and Attacks on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla – Legal Background
For more information on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza: The Facts Behind Israel’s “Gourmet Gaza” Claims
BRUSSELS: A leading Israeli supplier of warplanes used to kill and maim civilians in Gaza is in the running for two new scientific research grants from the European Union.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza in late 2008 and 2009 provided its air force with an opportunity to experiment with state-of-the-art pilotless drones such as the Heron. Although human rights groups have calculated that the Heron and other drones killed at least 87 civilians during that three-week war, EU officials have tentatively approved the release of fresh finance to the Heron’s manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Two projects involving IAI have recently passed the evaluation stages of a call for proposals under the EU’s multi-annual programme for research, which has been allocated 53 billion euros (65.4 billion dollars) for the 2007-13 period.
The Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, has confirmed that IAI is one of 34 Israeli “partners” involved in 26 EU-funded projects for information technology which are under preparation.
Among the other Israeli firms being considered for such funding are Afcon, a supplier of metal detectors to military checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the Erez crossing between southern Israel and Gaza. Afcon was also awarded a contract in 2008 for installing a security system in a light rail project designed to connect illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem with the city centre.
Mark English, a Commission spokesman, said that the procedures relating to the projects have not yet been completed. But the Israeli business publication Globes reported last month that Israeli firms stand to gain 17 million euros from the latest batch of EU grants for information technology. According to Globes, this will bring the amount that Israel has drawn from the EU’s research programme since 2007 to 290 million euros.
Israel is the main foreign participant in the EU’s science programme. Officials in Tel Aviv say they expect Israeli firms and research institutes will have received around 500 million euros from the programme by the time of its conclusion.
Chris Davies, a British Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament (MEP), expressed anger at how the Commission’s research department appears willing to rubber-stamp new grants for Israeli companies. Such a “business-as-usual” approach is at odds with tacit assurances from officials handling the EU’s more general relations with Israel, he said.
In late 2008, the EU’s 27 governments agreed to an Israeli request that the relationship should be “upgraded” so that Israel could have a deeper involvement in a wide range of the Union’s activities. But work on giving formal effect to that agreement has stalled because of the subsequent invasion of Gaza.
Approving EU finance for Israel Aerospace Industries “should be regarded as utterly unacceptable, incoherent and outrageously naive,” Davies told IPS. He argued that there appears to be “no communication” between different sets of EU representatives on how Israel should be handled. “Where’s the joined-up thinking?” he asked.
While the European Commission claims that all of its scientific research cooperation with Israel is civilian in nature, the Israeli government has been eager to publicise the almost umbilical links between the country’s thriving technology sector and its military. A brochure titled ‘Communications in Israel’ published by its industry ministry earlier this year refers to a “symbiosis” between the security and technology sectors in Israel. Several technology breakthroughs – such as the invention of voice recognition devices for computers by the Israeli army in the 1980s – have resulted from this “convergence”, the brochure claims.
Other likely Israeli beneficiaries of the new round of EU funding do not conceal how they have benefited from this convergence either. The Israeli subsidiary of SAP, the software manufacturer, has issued publications about how it has provided specialist equipment for the Israeli army. And both Emza and LiveU, two “start-up” companies, are examples of the numerous makers of surveillance equipment in Israel that have seen their order books fill up since the country tried to position itself as an indispensable part of the “war on terror” declared by former U.S. president George W. Bush.
Marcel Shaton, head of the Israel-Europe Research and Development Directorate (ISERD) in Tel Aviv, said that EU citizens should not have any qualms about financing Israeli arms companies. “All research supports the arms industry,” he said. “Non-military technology is used for military purposes all over the world.”
But Yasmin Khan, a specialist on the arms trade with the anti-poverty group War on Want, said that the EU has been complicit in the occupation of Palestine through its support for Israel’s military industry.
She noted that drones made by IAI and other Israeli companies have been bought by several European countries taking part in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. “The military industry is a central point of the Israeli economy,” she said. “The equipment it makes is sold as ‘battle-tested’, which is a dark way of describing its use in the occupied (Palestinian) territories.”
There will never be a “Saudi Arabia of lithium” anywhere
Following the news Monday that geologists have found a mother lode of minerals in Afghanistan — reports argued deposits of iron, copper, gold and other goodies could collectively be worth close to $1 trillion — it’s worth asking a few extra questions.
In particular, there’s been an unusually strong focus on the lithium portion of the find. A key ingredient in high-tech batteries for laptops, smart phones, electric cars and the like, its been heralded as the future cornerstone of the world’s energy infrastructure.
But is lithium really going to save Afghanistan, as many media outlets seem to think? Nope, not even close.
In the words of Brian Jaskula, a lithium commodity expert with the United States Geological Survey, “We’ll be extracting lithium from the ocean before we’ll be extracting it from Afghanistan.” (Jaskula was not involved with the Afghanistan work.)
Extracting lithium from the ocean is a real thing, but it’s expensive. Instead, most lithium we use starts off dissolved in super-salty water underneath several feet of hard salt pan in Chile’s Salar de Atacama, one of the largest lithium producing regions on the planet. Argentina and Australia are also big producers of lithium.
Drilling for brines and then evaporating them in the arid desert air is the cheapest way to get the element, and it’s by far the most common. After that comes mining lithium-bearing minerals right out of granites. Until recently, sucking the element out of seawater, where it occurs in concentrations of just a few parts per million, was purely theoretical. But forecasts calling for steadily increasing prices have led South Korean interests to start building a factory to do just that.
According to Jaskula, South Korea’s decision is more than just a gamble on the market. “They want a steady supply of lithium, and they don’t want to have to rely on hostile countries for their supply, even if they have to pay a little more to get it,” he said.
Of course, no one anticipated the Pentagon’s recent announcement about Afghanistan; Jaskula was referring to Bolivia, whose Salar de Uyuni region contains vast stores of lithium. But the country has very little infrastructure for setting up a mining operation, not to mention a history of political unrest.
“And Afghanistan is a century behind Bolivia,” in terms of infrastructure, Jaskula said.
Then there’s the whole business of calling Afghanistan the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” Turns out that’s not right either, for a number of reasons. […]
Even if the country does turn out to have vast stores of lithium, it will be almost certainly useless. There will never be a “Saudi Arabia of lithium” anywhere, according to Jaskula.
For one thing, the term “lithium batteries” is somewhat misleading. Lithium is a crucial ingredient, but it makes up just a tiny fraction — maybe 2-3 percent — of the weight and cost of the batteries. For another, lithium prices nosedived in 2009, and are expected to drop again this year (PDF; lithium currently goes for about $5,000 per ton). Why? Mostly because of the economic downturn, producers have piles of lithium they can’t get rid of.
Even if demand recovers, electric cars take off, and all of our wildest dreams about lithium-based battery technology come true, Jaskula said current suppliers would have no trouble meeting our needs through the next ten years.
What’s more, the lithium in batteries is recyclable. It’s just not profitable to do it now. Common wisdom among industry experts is that as prices rise, recycling programs will blossom. By 2030, the need for virgin lithium will cease to exist, replaced by a self-sustaining lithium loop… Full article
Copyright © 2010 Discovery Communications, LLC.
M., a Haaretz reader from Zichron Yaakov, was disturbed by reports about the manner in which Palestinian children are arrested in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are being detained held in the middle of the night, held in conditions of fear and pain before their interrogations, and then finally interrogated without the presence of their parents or a lawyer.
On March 14, M. wrote the following to attorney Yuri Gai-Ron, the head of the Israel Bar Association: “I am appealing to you to use all of your authority to intervene and put an end to the abusive behavior and violation of the law with regard to children and youths… Any decent citizen silent – and even more so the body you have headed over the past few years – cannot remain silent in the face of the frivolity with which children are kept in detention, interrogated and even condemned.”
On April 22, attorney Linda Shafir, the director general of the bar association, sent a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador. Copies were also sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the commander of the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank (whose name she did not mention ), and the Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit, as well as to M.
Among other things, Shafir wrote: “In her appeal, Ms. M. mentions that Palestinian children and youngsters from areas of the West Bank are detained under inappropriate circumstances and are held in inappropriate conditions.
It goes without saying that the Israel Bar Association considers the holding of detainees in appropriate conditions to be of supreme importance, from both the legal point of view and on the level of human rights. I should be grateful if the appeal is transferred to all concerned parties, so that possible means of dealing with the situation are examined with a view to eradicating the phenomenon.”
Another Palestinian detainee, though not a child, is Imad Bornat of Bil’in, a photographer and film director. He was arrested in October 2006 by Border Policemen while photographing the weekly demonstration against the separation fence in his village. After being detained for 21 days, he was then kept under house arrest outside his village for a month and a half. Bornat’s trial, during which he was accused of throwing stones and attacking Border Policemen, dragged on for some three years.
This became a routine method of deterring demonstrators in the villages fighting against the separation fence – beatings and arrests, nighttime raids, and indictments based on dubious testimonies.
In April 2009, Bornat was acquitted of all the charges; no trace of anything. He never hit anyone, he never threw any stones. But despite his acquittal, from the police perspective the criminal file remains open, alongside a police order forbidding him to enter Israel (which is five kilometers from his village ). When he required medical treatment, he received some limited exit permits only thanks to the intervention of his lawyer, Gabi Lasky.
Last month Bornat was invited to participate in an event in Tel Aviv organized by CoPro, an Israeli foundation for marketing documentary films. They planned to screen part of the movie he and his partner, Israeli cinematographer Guy Davidi, are busy editing – “Five Broken Cameras.” Haaretz published a short item reporting that Bornat had been prevented from participating in the event.
On the same day, May 26, the Civil Administration issued him a permit in a particularly accelerated move, despite the police’s position. His file remains open, however, in the police computers. Lasky was told last week that she must send the court verdict, evincing Bornat’s acquittal, to the Binyamin police station, which she has already done at least four times.
‘A different aspect of Israel’
On May 27, yours truly received a letter from Amir Merom, the spokesman for the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, in which he wrote: “Your efforts on behalf of upholding human rights, which have been a guiding principle of your work as a journalist over the years, are not supposed to hold back from your readers at Haaretz journalistic facts which are not in line with one organized doctrine or another.
“We read your May 26 article about the photographer from Bil’in, and were left with the impression that your attempt to present the saga vis-a-vis the military authorities and the police was paramount, from your point of view, to the need to add objective factual parameters that would widen the scope of the story for the reader’s benefit and offer a broader spectrum of reference on an already loaded subject.
“Besides the lengthy paragraphs describing, in minute detail, the conduct between the various bodies – which attempt to present Israel in an unflattering light – you mentioned in one general sentence that ‘in November 2008, Bornat was seriously injured in a car accident and required medical treatment in Israel.’ It is most surprising to me that you chose so strange a way to mention the fact that the patient arrived on the threshold of death at Sheba Medical Center, the leading government hospital in the State of Israel, and that his life was saved thanks to the dedicated treatment he received there…
“In addition, I am certain that your readers, who possess varied points of view, will be glad to be exposed to a different aspect of Israel from that described in your article – an aspect of love for human beings, of humanity and compassion.
“As the spokesman for a hospital where Arabs, Jews and members of all faiths are treated alongside one another with the same degree of professionalism and love, I would expect that you would be wise enough to use the abovementioned facts in your upcoming articles on the subject.”
Bornat paid for his hospital treatment.
Waiting for a letter
No reader wrote a letter about the fate of Adib Abu Rahma – a resident of the same village as Bornat, a regular participant in the demonstrations against the separation fence, a 40-year-old taxi driver and a father of nine. He was arrested on July 10, 2009 on the basis of a photograph showing him holding an onion, to be used against tear gas, which a prosecution witness somehow interpreted as a megaphone.
On the basis of incriminations conducted with minors from Bil’in, who had been arrested in the dark of night and held in frightening circumstances, Abu Rahma was charged with incitement, disturbing the public order and entering a military area. Many of the “facts” illicited through these interrogations later turned out to be false.
Abu Rahma has been in jail for 333 days already. on Sunday a military judge found him guilty, as was expected.
It now seems clear that the Red Cross and, indeed, members of Israel’s parliament, are being stopped by Israeli intelligence services from finding out the location of what has been called a “secret prison”. The MP for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, Dr. Dov Hanin, has filed an enquiry to the Israeli Internal Security Minister, Yitzhak Aheronovic, regarding an unidentified prisoner at Ayalon Prison, Department 15. The prisoner, whose details were referred to on the Ynet website, and then quickly removed, has been held in total isolation and prevented from having visits or giving any information about himself to the officers who guard him. Nobody claims any knowledge of the reasons for the said prisoner to be in this situation.
Dr. Hanin wondered, in his enquiry to the minister, about the identity of the prisoner and the reason for the total information blackout and his complete isolation from the outside world. He also asked about the lack of access to rights which are guaranteed for any prisoner under Israeli law, including whether this prisoner’s family has been informed of his whereabouts. The MP refused to accept the concept of the state holding a prisoner of unknown identity.
The enquiries being made about this particular prisoner are reminiscent of recent calls in the media for a disclosure of information about “secret” prisons in Israel the existence of which has long been denied by the government, which has also sought to hide them from international observers such as the Red Cross. The calls for more transparency were made following the publication of a report by the UN Committee against Torture.
Yediot Aharonot newspaper published what looked like a prisoner identification card for “1391 secret prison”, which was a base used as an investigation office at military unit 504 associated with the Intelligence Department of the Israeli army. The task of the unit is to recruit and investigate terrorists and soldiers of hostile armies captured by the Israel Defence Forces. According to Yediot Aharonot, the secret prison was set up in an investigation section in Unit 504 in Gdera city in the south of the country. For many years, the department was a centre for investigating the perpetrators of the famous coast operation and the Palestinians who tried to blow up an El Al aircraft at Nairobi airport. In the 1980s, the secret prison was transferred to a building built for this purpose near another base for high-security intelligence operations. The newspaper said that the prison has rooms deep underground and soldiers from the military police provide all the logistics services at this facility, such as the transfer of detainees to and from the prison and from their cells to the interrogation rooms.
The most prominent case linked to this secret prison, according to the report, was the interrogation of the Lebanese former prisoner, Mustafa Dirani. Mr. Dirani was tortured severely during the interrogation, when he was beaten, forced to walk wearing an adult “nappy” and forced to swallow triangular objects; he was also anally raped. The army was forced to investigate this case as a result of which the chief investigator, a man known as George, was dismissed.
According to the newspaper report, the secret facility has another function, which is training Israeli soldiers who wish to join some specialist military units, such as CERT Mtkal, and Cedlag Haitt 13, which carried out the attack on the Freedom Flotilla. They undergo interrogation as part of their training in case they are ever captured during an operation. The officers of unit 504 expose the soldiers to serious torture to the extent that medical personnel and psychologists have joined the process to monitor such methods to ensure that no serious harm is done to the trainees.
A human rights organization known as the Centre for Defence of the Rights of Individuals has submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court against those responsible for perpetrating torture at the secret prison, and has asked for checks to be made to see if the Israeli authorities have in detention in unit 504 those Palestinians who have simply disappeared since their capture by the Israel army. The Prosecutor General Representative has refused to consider the petition, claiming that the detention unit is in a secret military base and therefore cannot be investigated or revealed. In this way, the prosecutor sought to prevent the issue of a warrant for the disclosure of the detention centre thus opening its doors to legislators who want to visit and find out what is happening inside.
The government claims that the prison has been closed but the petitioners say it cannot verify this claim because of the ban on visits. The petitioners say that detainees in the secret prison know nothing about their location of what happens outside. When they ask the guards where they are, they are told, “on the moon” or “in a spacecraft”.
The Director of the Centre which has submitted the petition, Dalia Christine, said the prison is a blatant violation of international law. The petition included sworn testimonies by former Palestinian prisoners who believe that they were detained in this prison; the rooms, they claim, had no windows, the walls were painted black and the “toilet” was a bucket placed in the corner. The ex-prisoners also claim that they did not see anyone for the length of their detention apart from the investigators and military judges. They talked about the torture they suffered in the prison, including sleep deprivation, shackling in uncomfortable positions and beating.
Following a discussion in camera at the Supreme Court, the judges rejected the petition.
A human rights report published by the Palestinian ‘Prisoner’s Forum’ has reported that since the beginning of 2010, Israeli Occupation Forces have ‘detained approximately 468 Palestinian citizens from the governorate of Hebron in the southern West Bank.
The report highlighted the fact that during the first half of this year, the Israeli forces launched a widespread campaign of arrests in various regions of Hebron. The campaign resulted in the detention of 468 individuals including 90 children, 110 students and 58 ill individuals.
The Prisoner’s Forum confirmed that the Israeli authorities had transferred 33 prisoners to administrative detention and sent 70 others to Ashkelon Central Prison. Additionally, another 50 detainees were transferred to al-Maskubiyya, al-Jamlah and Petah Tikva prisons.
The report also drew attention to the fact that Israeli military checkpoints “play a significant role in the process of targeting and detaining Palestinian citizens as they move around” and highlighted the fact that a large number of prisoners and detainees were arrested near these barriers.
A top Turkish official warns the European Union against its recent decision to tighten the screws on Iran over its nuclear program, saying the sanctions will affect the interests of the European bloc.
Speaking to reporters on Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz criticized the idea of imposing additional sanctions on Iran, saying the EU was ignoring commercial realities.
Yildiz argued that the energy sanctions on Iran were not commercially sensible as they would “ignore the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves.”
The Turkish minister went on to warn EU countries about the decision, saying the bloc is more likely to be affected by the recent sanctions than Turkey.
Yildiz also stated that the EU would likely reconsider the decision in the near future.
In addition to a resolution passed by the 15-member UN Security Council on June 9 which imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, EU foreign ministers have akso agreed to adopt tougher measures against Tehran.
The new EU sanctions, which could come into effect within weeks, include the financial, transport, and banking sectors as well as investments in or sale of equipment to Iranian oil and gas companies.
The EU decision comes as Tehran rejects Western accusations of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, arguing that the International Atomic Energy Agency in numerous reports has confirmed the non-diversion of nuclear material in the country.
Despite Israel’s Thursday decision to “ease restrictions on Gaza”, the Israeli Authorities closed all trade crossings leading to the coastal region. The closure, unless extended, will last until Sunday.
Fattouh of the Border Crossings Authority in Gaza, said that Israel declared the crossings open on Thursday and shut them down Friday, and added that Israel allowed the entry of 200 sorts of goods in recent weeks, while most goods allowed into Gaza are food products in addition to wood, aluminum and glass.
Fattouh added that the allowed goods do not fill the real need in the Gaza Strip as construction materials are still not allowed into Gaza, in addition to materials needed for factories and other basic supplies.
Israel recently agreed to allow the entry of stationary supplies for students, cooking tools, toys for children and some types of furniture.