A group of fundamentalist Israeli settlers installed a new illegal settlement outpost, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on Friday while another group of armed settlers invaded areas in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron.
Rateb Jabbour, coordinator of the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, reported that approximately 250 settlers, accompanied by Israeli Border Police officers, invaded that Al-Carmel village, and installed six new caravans in Um Ash-Shuqhan area, near the Maoun illegal outpost that was installed on privately-owned Palestinian lands.
In related news, Yousef Abu Maria, media spokesperson of the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar, stated that approximately 150 settlers attacked Palestinian farmlands in Za’ta area, east of Beit Ummar, and blocked the Jerusalem-Hebron road in front of Palestinian traffic.
According to Abdul-Hadi Hantash, a Palestinian expert on Maps and Settlements, that recent escalation is part of a larger plan that aims at installing more outposts, and expanding existing ones, by stealing more Palestinian lands.
Hantash added that settlers are stealing Palestinian lands in Um Ash-Shuqhan area, and installing new outposts, so that they can create a geographical contiguity by linking the new outposts with the settlements of Ma’oun, Karmiel, Havat Yair, Avigayil, and Susyia. All are illegal outposts built on privately-owned Palestinian lands.
The official further stated that Israel is implementing an agenda that aims at isolating the Palestinians in Hebron by the illegal Annexation Wall and the chain of settlements and outposts built on the hills of the Hebron district.
“Israel wants to force the Palestinians out of their homes and lands, wants them to leave”, Hantash added, “But the residents are determined to remain steadfast in their homes, lands”.
- Official: Israeli settlers tour Beit Ummar (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Settlers torch cars in Beit Ummar (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- An exclusive corner of Hebron (arunwithaview.wordpress.com)
- Demanding justice for Yousef, a quiet boy killed by Israeli settlers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestine: Even Sheep Are Not Safe from Jewish Settlers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Burqin and Kufr Ad-Dik face daily obstructions in justice as nearby illegal Zionist settlements encroach on the livelihood of local Palestinians. The villages are surrounded by several hilltop illegal settlements and industrial sites with polluting factories and an army base.
“This is a microcosm of Palestinian suffering” stated a resident upon the arrival of International Solidarity Movement volunteers.
Burqin and Kufr Ad-Dik are under siege by settlers and soldiers. The villages are situated in Areas B and C as stipulated by the Oslo Agreement and sit dangerously close to the 1948 Green Line. Burqin has approximately 4000 residents which include many refugees from Al Nakba, or the Catastrophe, known to Palestinians when they faced exile from their villages in 1948 at the creation of Israel.
The village relies on small scale agriculture for its existence. The Israelis from the illegal settlements know this and routinely destroy Palestinian crops often by burning olive trees as part of the extremist “Price Tag Campaign.” They have also released wild boars from their settlements which eat Palestinian crops and are very dangerous, especially to the young of the villages. In an act of callousness the settlers destroyed a newly bought piece of farm machinery about two weeks ago. During this attack they also burned a car and unsuccessfully firebombed the local mosque, leaving threatening graffiti that they will be back.
While a local place of worship, graffiti, and vandalism seem like small offenses, one must keep in mind that these are systematically done to pressure the villages into abandoning what is left of their homes.
As with many of the Palestinian villages who have suffered the injustice of having their lands stolen by Israel in order to build illegal settlements, which continue to expand, Burqin and Kufr Ad-Dik are forced to endure regular attacks from the illegal occupants of their land as well as harassment by the Israeli military. The settlers, soldiers and Israeli government, which is benefiting from and funding the existence of these illegal settlements work cooperatively to forcibly remove Palestinians from their land.
There is an industrial estate, situated on top of a hill, which houses several severely polluting factories. These factories could not gain a license to be constructed inside of Israel due to the pollution that will be created, but they were granted permission by the Israeli government to be built within the West Bank illegally under international law. The waste from these factories is channeled in an open sewer through the villages.
Since the factories began polluting there has been a sharp rise in health problems within the village including an anomaly in cancer cases. A German charity volunteered to pay for the sewer to be covered and managed.
Permission to build this cover was flatly denied by the Israelis. The pollution from the factories has severely affected the surrounding land causing trees to die, crops to fail, and the meat from animals grazed on the land cannot be sold due to fear of contamination.
According to an article published by the Baheth Center for Strategic and Palestinian Studies, information on the size and power of these factories is not available to local Palestinians. In an article published by the Baheth center, they describe the extent of the factory waste:
The waste water and solid waste these industries produce, provide important clues about the type and extent of industrial activity… Clear evidence that Israeli factories operating in the Occupied Territories do not follow pollution prevention measures is provided by the Barqan industrial zone, which houses factories producing aluminum, fiberglass, plastic, electroplating, and military items. Industrial waste water from this zone flows untreated to the nearby valley, damaging agricultural land belonging to the Palestinian villages of Sarta, Kufr Al-Deek, and Burqin, and polluting the groundwater with heavy metals.
Unemployment is now very high in the villages since much of the land has been taken by settlers and the military. To add insult to the pollution inflicted on the villages, the Palestinians are banned from working the factories surrounding them. With more land being taken away every day, unemployment and poverty continue to rise. Yesterday an army order was issued to take another 60 dunums (1000m squared = 1 dunum) for “military purposes.” Farmers are now collating deeds to their lands in an attempt to argue their case in court.
Burqin has lost over 8000 dunums to the illegal occupation, most of which was stolen in the last 10 years. The land theft is sharply on the increase. The farm land that is left is still extremely dangerous to farm due to settler attacks and the threat of wild boars.
Not satisfied with attacking the food production, the Israelis have destroyed several wells, which are vital to the well-being of the villagers. The illegal settlers have commandeered most of the water supply leaving the Palestinians with critically low access to clean water. A recent study found that the average settler uses 18 times that of one Palestinian villager.
In addition to the destruction of wells several homes have been demolished including a home that the owner worked for 30 years to save enough to build.
Leaving or reentering the villages is high risk as settlers will often throw rocks at Palestinian cars. If the villagers successfully run the gauntlet they then have to pass through harassing Israeli Army checkpoints.
The villages have just started a weekly protest against their oppression in Kufr Ad-Dik. This was met last week with tear gas and steel bullets thinly coated with rubber leaving 10 villagers wounded.
The protest will continue every Friday.
- West Bank village steps up protests against Israel’s theft of land (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 13 injured in Nabi Saleh demonstration (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Anata falls victim to militarized, illegal settlement once again (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Finally, India is getting its act together in its Iran policy. The ‘breaking news’ that India proposes to robustly explore expanding its trade with Iran signals a new approach to stepping up oil imports from Iran while at the same time rectifying the imbalance in trade, which heavily favours Iran traditionally, and to make this happen within a paradigm that resolves the current problem over the payment mechanism.
The new thinking is an acknowledgement of Iran’s importance as a strategic partner. That is where the rub lies. Delhi has lumped far too long the blackmail tactic by Washington with the malicious intention to erode India’s ties with Iran. Indeed, as result, for no real fault of Tehran, the India-Iran relationship suffered needless setbacks in the recent years.
Delhi should never accept that this is a zero sum game – India’s relationships with the US and Iran respectively. Iran is far too important a regional power in India’s extended neighbourhood to be neglected. There is no need to dilate on this thought.
Other Asian countries like Japan, South Korea or Malaysia have successfully managed to have positive relationships with both Iran and the GCC states. Also, GCC states themselves have maintained highly nuanced relationships with Iran. In a long term perspective, it is far from inevitable that Iran’s rise is an irreconcilable eventuality for the GCC states.
Much of the present-day tensions in the Persian Gulf is also to be attributed to the imperial policy of ‘divide-and-rule’ that the West continues to pursue in the region for the sake of perpetuating their hegemony. Finally, the US-Iran standoff itself is increasingly becoming unsustainable if Washington is to optimally develop a regional strategy. The point is, Iran has already bolted away.
China sees all these trends very clearly and is successfully developing a multi-tiered regional strategy that creates space for pursuing fruitful relations with Iran and GCC – and even Israel – alike.
Indeed, it is also best for a healthy US-India partnership that it is an equal relationship where neither side takes undue advantage or tries to browbeat or resorts to prescriptive approaches and arm-twisting. In this case, the US policy toward Iran also happens to be vacuous, lacking sincerity of purpose; it is opaque and brittle – and increasingly, US comes to realise that even its European allies are reluctant to follow its lead. Therefore, it is simply appalling that US has chosen to harbour expectations of dictating to Delhi the directions and content of its Iran policy.
Of course, the American side is not to bear the entire blame, either. Somehow, the Indian elites (including bureaucrats) and strategic pundits have come to develop an atavistic fear that US-Indian partnership is highly perishable unless Delhi keeps harmonising its policies with the US global strategies even by sacrificing its interests. This sort of inferiority complex is completely unwarranted.
The heart of the matter is that the US is a highly experienced practitioner of diplomacy. If it began abandoning its historic cussedness toward India sometime during Bill Clinton administration’s second term, it was because Washington saw the growth potential of India and the great possibilities that would arise for a beneficial relationship.
Even today, that consideration is the prime mover of the US polices toward India. It is a well-known fact that after being grumpy for a few weeks after India spurned the US offer for the 10-billion dollar multi-purpose aircraft tender, Washington moved on.
We could also learn from the Americans – how doggedly they keep pursuing their regional strategies through the Afghan endgame, no matter what Delhi thinks of it. Suffice to say, the high probability is that India’s Iran policy may displease Washington for a while and then life will move on. As for the fear complex of the Indian elites or pundits, it is borne more out of their own insecurities vis-a-vis the US establishment and it should remain their private affair.
- Washington Wages War of Sanctions against Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- India won’t scale down petroleum imports from Iran: Pranab (thehindu.com)
In the latest example of mainstream media warmongering, in today’s Washington Post David Ignatius writes,
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a lot on his mind these days, from cutting the defense budget to managing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But his biggest worry is the growing possibility that Israel will attack Iran over the next few months.
Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon — and only the United States could then stop them militarily.
When reading reports like the one Ignatius has filed here, it should always be remembered that what is being so nonchalantly discussed as a point of perturbation for a beleaguered Leon Panetta is, without doubt, the willful and active commission of a war crime. Not only that, but – in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal – initiating a war of aggression, as Israel would undoubtedly be doing by unilaterally and illegally bombing Iran, is “the supreme international crime.”
Ignatius, despite his clear intent of beating war drums under the guise of disinterested journalism, acknowledges repeatedly that Iran is not building nuclear weapons and has no nuclear weapons program. While the bogus Israeli claim of Iran reaching a “zone of immunity” (the new Barakian term for what until recently was ominously called the “point of no return“) is noted by Ignatius, it’s followed by the claim that this spooky “zone” would enable Iran to “commence building a nuclear bomb.” Which means it’s not currently doing that. Ignatius even reiterates the fact that – per U.S. (and Israeli and IAEA) intelligence – Iran is not building a bomb. Which means this is all speculative. Which means any potential attack would be “preventative” and not based on any immediate threat. Which means it would be totally illegal under any possible reading of international law.
Ignatius writes that “Netanyahu doesn’t want to leave the fate of Israel dependent on American action.” There’s that “existential threat” again! Y’know, the one that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, former Mossad chiefs Meir Dagan and Ephraim Halevy, current Mossad chief Tamir Pardo say doesn’t actually exist. Just today, Ynet reported that former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz also repeated the assessment that Iran poses no such threat to Israel. “The use of this terminology is misleading. If it is intended to encourage a strike on Iran, it’s a mistake,” he said.
Nevertheless, Ignatius repeats this absurdity as if it’s an uncontroversial fact. It appears that, for Beltway reportage, “If Netanyahu says it, it must be true!”
Ignatius goes on, “Administration officials caution that Tehran shouldn’t misunderstand: The United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israel’s population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defense.”
Does that refer to an aggressive, first-strike on Israel by Iran? If so, this is a fabricated premise that no one actually considers to be a danger (Iran’s “defensive military doctrine” is well-documented and consistently reaffirmed by U.S. intelligence) and is an action Iran has repeatedly said it would never commit. Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s head of state and commander-in-chief, has stated unequivocally that “the Islamic Republic has never threatened and will never threaten any country.” Meanwhile, just the mere threat of military attack by Israel is a clear violation of Article 2 of the UN Charter.
So, essentially, Ignatius is crafting a strawman in order to beat the American warrior chest much like Hillary Clinton did in 2008 when she declared that, if Iran attacked Israel and she were president, she would order the U.S. military to “totally obliterate” Iran. How’s that for a genocidal, “wipe off the map” fantasy?
Ignatius also suggests there are currently only two ways out of the current crisis: Iran could “finally open serious negotiations for a formula to verifiably guarantee that its nuclear program will remain a civilian one; or the United States could step up its covert actions.”
Anyone familiar with the 2007 Work Plan that Iran and the IAEA agreed to, knows that this has already happened and that the IAEA consistently confirms that Iran’s nuclear program is not militarized. The “verifiable guarantee” is the presence of IAEA cameras and inspectors at Iran’s safeguarded facilities. What would make Iran’s program even more “verifiably” civilian in nature would be for the international community – including the U.S. – to accept Iran’s numerous offers to invest in and partner with its program, thereby making it virtually impossible for Iran to weaponize. These overtures have been consistently rebuffed or ignored.
The other option, of course, is more “covert actions” – in other words: drone surveillance and industrial sabotage. Those pesky little murders and explosions that leave widows and orphans and which, in any other context – if any other country’s citizens were the victims of such summary executions – would be unconditionally and unequivocally condemned as terrorism.
Sure, Ignatius ends with the off-hand comment that Netanyahu is vacillating and that “top Israeli intelligence officials remain skeptical of the project” – the “project” of course being shorthand for an act of aggressive war (again, “the supreme international crime”).
Concluding with requisite Beltway fear-mongering, Ignatius warns that “senior Americans doubt that the Israelis are bluffing” and are “worrying about the guns of spring — and the unintended consequences.”
At this point, with three decades of war threats, devastating sanctions that amount to the collective punishment of the Iranian people for the crime of overthrowing the Shah, and propaganda about Iran’s ever-imminent hell-bending drive for atomic weaponry with which to evaporate poor little (nuclear-armed and super-power funded) Israel, how can any of the “consequences” honestly be referred to as “unintended”?
I suppose it would be lovely for Israel (and its many cheerleaders here in Congress and the media) if it were able to bomb whomever they want whenever they want, killing thousands upon thousands, with impunity and without any repercussions – that’s what it’s been doing in Gaza and Lebanon for years. But Iran is not ghettoized and occupied, demilitarized and defenseless, blockaded and besieged. Iran, unlike the usual victims of Israeli and American bullets and bombs, can actually fight back if it’s attacked.
That’s what frustrates warmongers from Foggy Bottom to Herzliya so much.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — The Jerusalem occupation municipality announced a plan to build a new shopping centre with a car park on a piece of land that is owned by the Armenian Church in the old city.
The municipality further banned residents of the Armenian quarter in the old city from parking their cars on the land which is owned by the church.
Residents of the Armenian quarter demonstrated on Thursday to protest the steps taken by the municipality, but the demonstration was dispersed by the Israeli occupation police.
The land which is about 4000 square meters and which is owned by the Armenian Church was used by local residents as a free car park, but the locals were surprised when the so called Jewish quarters committee started collecting parking fees, and now barred them altogether from parking their cars there.
- Zionist plan to build 60,000 settlement units in Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A French national sustained an injury from a tear-gas canister, activists said. She was taken to a hospital in Ramallah and her injury was described as moderate, they said.
Maj. Peter Lerner of the Israeli army suggested the injury was actually caused by a Palestinian stone-thrower. Israeli border police were injured at the same “riot,” he wrote on Twitter.
Palestinian residents of Nabi Saleh and their local and international supporters demonstrate each week against a nearby settlement’s encroachment toward lands owned by the village.
In December 2011, a tear-gas canister killed Mustafa Tamimi, a resident of the village.
- We Are Nabi Saleh, a new film capturing people’s struggle, Mustafa Tamimi (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Protester seriously hurt by gas canister (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian protester severely injured in Nabi Saleh (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Live sniper-fire injures protester in Nabi Saleh (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Confronting Occupiers in Nabi Saleh (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nabi Saleh Protest Organizer Shot in Face at Weekly Protest (alethonews.wordpress.com)
On March 24, Canada’s New Democratic Party will do more than elect a new leader; it will face a test of character.
As it stands, the NDP is the only major national party not led by an avowed zionist. Stephen Harper leads a cabal of governing “Likudniks,” who value subservience to Israel above all else, and the interim leader of the “Labour-Zionist” Liberals Bob Rae, is on the board of the Jewish National Fund, an organization so criminal that it has been condemned in Israel as racist.
The NDP, therefore, is the only apparently Canadian governing choice that voters have, but even this modest fig leaf will be blown away if the blatant Israel-firster Thomas Mulcair becomes party leader. On May 1, 2008, he told Canadian Jewish News: “I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances.” [my emphasis]
Does Mulcair mean to say that he “ardently supports” Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians, which includes torturing children, bulldozing homes, and keeping Palestinians near starvation levels as a matter of national policy? Do these constitute morally defensible “situations and circumstances?” Based on his abject endorsement of Israel, the answer is clearly, “yes.” The fact that all of the preceding are contrary to Canadian and international law, to say nothing of basic humanity, doesn’t faze Mulcair one bit. What a mensch!
How this walking advertisement for sedition found a home in a left-of-centre, social-democratic party is bizarre. The NDP, after all, still cleaves to the quaint notions that the federal government should defend the Constitution, uphold the rule of law, oppose military aggression, stand up for victims of human rights abuses, and generally serve the public good. Such high-minded ethical standards clearly distinguish it from both “Likud” and “Labour,” which are financially and politically indentured to the Israel Lobby.
So, why would the NDP even allow someone like Mulcair in the front door? This question takes on added significance when we recall that Mulcair had first considered joining Harper’s Likudniks, and was even said to have been tempted by a cabinet appointment. That would at least have made sense. When questioned last July about the earlier offer, though, the NDP’s newly minted interim leader Nycole Turmel seemed curiously unconcerned: “[Mulcair] was contacted by a number of people, a number of political parties and he chose to come work with us. He chose the NDP and I’m proud of that. He’s a great candidate.”
When looked at a bit more closely, however, Turmel’s praise for this crypto-Likudnik comes across more as a perfunctory platitude than a genuine endorsement; in this case the riding, not the MP, is the prize.
Mulcair represents Outremont, a small, wealthy riding on the Island of Montreal, which he won in a 2007 by-election, thus making him the NDP’s (ta-da!) first MP from Quebec. Outremont has a substantial Jewish population, more than 20%; in the larger Labour riding of Mount Royal just to the south, represented by Israel-firster extraordinaire Irwin Cotler, it is 36%. If the NDP expects to make inroads into Quebec it is logical for it to compete for the Jewish vote, but how far is the NDP prepared to go to mortgage its principles for electoral advantage?
As party leader, Mulcair would be expected to protect his caucus colleagues from harassment and abuse from other parties, but in 2010 he sided with Labour and Likud to call for the resignation of fellow MP Libby Davies as NDP House Leader. Davies’s “crime” was to state that Israel’s occupation of Palestine began in 1948, not 1967. Her statement is a fact supported by historical documents that include admissions from leading political and military Israelis like David Ben Gurion and Gen. Moshe Dayan.
Mulcair’s contemptible attack on Davies’s basic freedom of expression, to say nothing of historical honesty, showed Mulcair’s true allegiance, and the threat he poses to this country. It doesn’t matter if he believes the zionist bilge he spews or whether he’s merely pandering to the Jewish community. By rights, he should have been expelled from the party for his misconduct.
If you are reading this and are a member of the federal NDP who plans to cast a vote at the leadership convention, ask yourself these questions before you vote:
1) Can Mulcair be trusted to put loyalty to Canada and the NDP ahead of his loyalty to Israel?
2) Would Mulcair stifle his MPs’ freedom of expression in the name of being an “ardent supporter”of Israel?
3) Would Mulcair’s overt zionism irreparably debase the NDP’s reputation as a party of law and justice?
If you answered 1) no; 2) yes; and 3) yes, then you can proudly claim to be a member in good standing of a national, Canadian political party. You know what not to do on March 24. No matter how much you may like Mulcair’s position on the environment or any other issue, anyone who bullies his own people, betrays his party’s principles, and sells out his country is unfit to lead the NDP, much less sit in the House of Commons.
As I said earlier, the NDP appears to many voters to be the only viable Canadian governing option left in this country. Don’t force them into a no-win scenario among Likud, Labour and Meretz!
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program is reaching an immunity stage when no armed intervention could stop it, the Guardian reported.
According to the British daily, Barak indicated that the Zionist state is closer than ever to authorizing a military action, but said there is an “extent of debate and disagreement within Israel’s political and military echelons over the merits of a military strike.”
Speaking at the Herzliya conference Thursday, Barak said that “the world today has no doubt that the Iranian military nuclear program … will enter the immunity stage, from which point the Iranian regime will be able to complete the program without any effective intervention and at its convenience.”
“Dealing with a nuclearised Iran will be far more complex, far more dangerous and far more costly in blood and money than stopping it today. In other words, those who say later may find that later is too late…” he added.
The Zionist Defense Minister further called upon the international community to intensify sanctions on the Islamic Republic so that it stops its nuclear program, and noted that if these did not achieve the desired effect, a different kind of action must be considered.