Gazzetta del Sud | January 11, 2013
Palermo The region of Sicily on Friday moved to suspend US defense plans to construct a satellite communications system on the Italian island after activists blocked construction crews. The move, announced by Sicily Governor Rosario Crocetta, came after protestors blocked trucks and cranes overnight in the town of Niscemi and later clashed with police near an American military base.
Builders at the site, which is part of a global satellite defense network called the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), had allegedly rushed construction in recent days, according to the Sicily governor. “The regional government finds this sudden rush to complete the project truly extraordinary,” said Crocetta. Opponents to the project say it will be an environmental nuisance and threatens world peace. Other bases participating in MUOS are in Australia, Hawaii and Virginia.
During the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza, 182 Palestinians were killed, according to the World Health Organization’s Dec 2012 report, among whom 47 were children, including 16 under 5 years old. Another 1399 Palestinians were injured, most of them with multiple injuries.
It is only four years after Israel’s last major assault on Gaza, which killed over 1450 including those who died of their injuries, and injured over 5000. Then there are the random Israeli attacks throughout the years, leaving injured suffering even years later.
And there were the under-reported attacks in the week preceding the Nov 14 attacks: the Nov 8 killing of 13 year old Ahmed Abu Daqqa as he played football, the Nov 10 killing of Mohammed Harara (16) and Ahmed Harara (17) as they played football, the subsequent killings of Ahmed Al- Dirdissawi (18) and Matar Abu al-‘Ata (19) when they rushed to the scene of the Harara killings (source: PCHR).
Every December and January, I remember the victims of the 2008-2009 massacre, particularly some of the harder incidents of burning to death from white phosphorous bombing, or point blank shootings of loved ones. All ages suffered, although we tend to pick up on the children. Somehow their murders, their maimings, their imprisonment strikes us more.
Two cases from the November 2012 attacks struck me and stay with me: the killing of 4 year old Reham as she stood a few metres from the door of her Nusseirat camp home, outside of which an Israeli bomb exploded…and the murder of Nader, 14, killed by a precision drone missile as he walked to get food for his siblings… just two hours before the ceasefire.
Below are follow-up photos, the families and loved ones of Reham and Nader. Allah yerhamhum (Allah, God, bless them).
Mourning area for Reham Nabaheen, killed by an Israeli bombing outside her Nusseirat camp home.
Abu Reham looks to where the Israeli bomb struck, the shrapnel of which blasted into his home and struck his daughter in the temple, killing her.
Um Reham sits with other women, mourning her daughter.
Fatoum, Reham’s neighbour and close friend, stopped speaking after her friend’s killing. Also four years old, she is in shock from knowing her friend is dead. Abu Reham: “I love her like I loved my daughter.”
Roa’a, Reham’s infant cousin. Reham used to play with her and bring her treats.
In the days following Reham’s murder, we visit the family in the simple Nusseirat home. Beside a mourning room set up to receive family and friends, a portrait of the girl I’d only until then seen dead in the morgue.
The home is barebones simple, the old Palestinian style of home and courtyard reconstructed with refugee camp means: cheap cement, toxic asbestos roof, chipped paint, thin walls and doors, sparse decor…no frills. A single olive tree grows in one side of the courtyard.
Um Reham sits amongst female relatives and although her daughter was killed only a few days earlier, is strong and tells me of the day. We’d seen her at al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah on Nov 21, after the shelling. Further back from where the explosion hit, Um Reham was still wounded in her face by flying shrapnel. Her other two sons suffered only minor injuries.
“We’d gone to my sister’s home in Bureij, at the beginning of the attacks. There was so much bombing in Nusseirat, we were afraid to stay here, our kids were terrified. On the last day, we heard there would soon be a cease-fire and wanted to come home. I wanted to do laundry, to change my kids clothing. My sister told me to leave Reham with her, but I said no, I couldn’t leave my daughter behind.
After we’d returned to Nusseirat, we realized the bombing was still very heavy here. We were going to return to Bureij…“
Abu Reham, who we’d seen at the hospital morgue leaning over his daughter’s lifeless body, sobbing and kissing her, stoically continues explaining what happened that day.
Although Nusseirat was still being hammered, at the moment of the Israeli shelling which killed his daughter, it was relatively calm, he says.
“There was no visible danger, our neighbour across street was sitting on a chair by his doorway just minutes before the bombing. He left to go see something at a neighbour’s home…if he had not left, he would have been killed.“
He points out the two narrow courtyard doors to the street where a pocket in the asphalt speaks to the earlier bombing.
“It was around 4pm, one of the doors was closed, we were getting the kids ready to go back to Bureij. I’d brought out some cookies, and Reham went to get them out of the bag. She was reaching into the bag when the bomb struck. She was near the door, the shrapnel went right into her head. She died soon after, there was blood all over.
The sound of drones was insane then, it could’ve been a drone strike.”
“Tank,” his brother says, “it was a tank shell.”
The brother holds a girl.
“This is my daughter, Roa’a, she’s a year and a half old. Reham used to play with her every afternoon, she’d bring Roa’a chips and snacks… Reham used to always take care of her.”
A neighbour daughter comes over with his daughter, Fatoum (Fatema), 4 years old as Reham was. She is chubby cheeked and lovely, but unsmiling and won’t say a word.
“She came to play with Reham every day. A four year old shouldn’t have to know what death is, that her friend has been killed. She said to me, ‘my friend is dead, my friend died.’“
Abu Reham, whose daughter is just days dead, is worried about Fatoum who fell ill after learning Reham was dead.
“I love her like a daughter. Every child who loved my daughter, I love them like my own child (breaks down crying). I went to the cemetery, saw children from the area there, they had brought flowers and were tending Reham’s grave. They told me ‘we will visit her, even if your family moves, we’ll continue to visit her.’“
Nader Abu Mghaseeb, 14, killed by precision Israeli drone bombing as he went to get food for his siblings.
Abu Nader tells how his son was killed by an Israeli bombing
When Nader’s siblings awoke the morning after his murder, they asked for him, only to learn he’d been killed.
Abu Nader points to the hole in the road where the Israeli bomb which killed his son struck.
Shrapnel markings from the Israeli bombing which killed his son.
Light of the small shop to which Nader was headed when murdered by the Israeli bombing.
When killed, Nader was en route to the store to buy food for his siblings.
Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.
Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.
Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.
Pieces of the Israeli precision drone bomb which targeted Nader.
Nader’s watch and the memory chip from his cell phone, which he had with him when targeted by the Israeli bomb.
On the eastern outskirts of Deir al Balah, central Gaza, we go to the home of the 14 year old whose mutilated body set me sobbing when I saw it in al-Aqsa hospital on Nov 21. The family has a number of olive trees, from which they exist. Their simple home, just over a kilometre from the border and surrounded by trees on a small plot of land, is a little oasis in the over-crowded Strip. But for Abu Nader, it is now hell.
“I look at his jeans, I remember him. I look at the house, I remember him. I look there, look there, wherever I look, I’m reminded of Nader.
I hate this house, this area. I hate life now. I started to hate life when my son was killed.
You don’t stay in a place if your dear one is no longer there.”
We’re sitting in the small, nylon-walled tent behind his home, drinking bitter coffee and listening as Abu Nader tells us how his son was killed. Nader’s six younger siblings, for whom he’d been going to get food when killed, sit beside their father. When we walked into the tent, Abu Nader ran to one corner to grab a small vial of cologne, which he rolled onto the backs of our hands. Nader’s favourite.
“I had lit a fire and we were sitting like this. Sitting like this exactly. Nader asked if I had money, said he wanted to go to the shop to get food for dinner. I didn’t want him to go, but he said the ceasefire would start in a couple of hours, he’d be okay.
There was nothing to eat in the house. These kids need to eat, we’d had nothing in the house for 5 days.
Nader told me to warm the bread over the fire. He said he’d get some yogurt, some canned meat, anything so that all the kids could eat. One of his younger brothers went with Nader, but halfway there Nader told his brother to go back home. His brother kept saying he wanted to go with Nader, but Nader insisted he go back home, told him to wait for him at home.
His brother came back here and said to me, ‘Dad, Nader told me to come back here. He wouldn’t let me go with him to the store’. While he was telling me this, we heard a loud explosion.
My wife said that the explosion was very close to here. She told me to call Nader’s cellphone to see where he was. I called Nader but he cellphone was off. I kept trying to call him, and I ran to the street to try to find Nader.
I kept running until I reached the mosque. From the mosque I saw the light of the store.
And it was night, dark, about fifteen minutes after the evening prayer.
I was looking at the store and waiting for my son to come out of it, and didn’t see that my son was on the ground near me. There was blood all over the street. I thought it was water.
They fired a missile right at him.
When I saw him, I knelt down and grabbed him. There was no one around. I tried to pick him up but couldn’t. He was dead weight, heavy, I couldn’t pick him up on my own. And his legs were shredded, falling apart.
I started screaming, for anyone to hear and help me pick up my son and take him to the hospital.
No one heard me.
I left Nader and screamed to the houses around me, then came back to Nader, but no one heard me.
I sat next to him for a minute, panicking, didn’t know what to do.
I ran to another house to yell for help, but no one heard me.
I came back and wrapped my arms around him, put my head on his head. And I woke up in the hospital.
They killed him in a horrible way. They shot the missile right at him.
In the morning, one of Nader’s brothers came to me and said, ‘Nader’s bed is empty. Where is Nader?’
I told him, the Israeli army killed him.
We are all traumatized.
I’m not angry because Allah chose to take Nader. Allah gives and Allah takes. The hardest thing is that I saw how Nader died. In pieces. How can I live seeing my son cut into pieces? He was a child. He went to get food for his siblings.”
Abu Nader, a wiry frame and the weathered face of a farmer, repeatedly breaks into sobs as he re-tells the story of Nader’s killing.
He takes out a bag of the shrapnel bits he collected from the bomb which killed Nader, a collection of circular, square and jagged pieces, some with serial numbers inscribed, some with the wiring and chips of a precisely-fired missile. He also shows us Nader’s wristwatch, something I’d honed in on at the hospital, looking away from Nader’s shredded legs and noting the watch, a bright plastic stopwatch the kind most teens love.
We walk through the darkness of the unlit village, the only lights being the mosque near which Nader was killed and the shop to which he’d been headed. Abu Nader shows us the hole in the road where the missile hit, points out shrapnel marks… The same tormented pointing out of details that Abu Reham performed.
He points out the mosque, which Nader prayed at devoutly. Nader’s mother later reiterates, “he was such a good boy, didn’t talk back to his parents, was excellent in school.”
At the small shop Nader never made it to that day, the shop owner shakes his head in regret, echoes the words of Nader’s parents about the boy’s character. Abu Nader pulls hummus, processed meat and yogurt from the fridge, waving it at us… this is why Nader was killed, because he’d wanted to bring these things to his family.
Two children, of 47 in the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks alone, killed in brutal ways their parents can never forget, on the afternoon of the impending cease-fire. Zionist aggressors know no bounds.
- PCHR Weekly Report: 7 wounded, including 3 children, by Israeli troops this week (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Gaza: Palestinian farmer ‘killed by Israeli gunfire’ (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- 49th Violation of Truce Agreement: Israeli military invades and leveled land in north Gaza (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
U.S.-Funded Fight against ‘Gangs’
San Salvador – On December 12, 2012, 12 young people were arrested in the poor community of El Progreso 3, in the northeastern part of San Salvador. Dressed all in black with their faces covered, police from the much-feared Anti-Gang Unit stormed the community in the middle of night, going home to home trampling down doors and pulling young people from a community center. The police claimed that the goal of the raid was to arrest suspected gang members, but several young community leaders were also apprehended, while their terrified families and neighbors looked on. The students were taken directly to jail, charged with illicit association, and thrown into crowded cells already filled with accused criminals awaiting trial.
Now, nearly a month after the raid, neighbors and members of the Movement of Popular Resistance-October 12 (the MPR-12), a national alliance of community organizations and unions, are demanding that the six youth leaders arrested be released from the overcrowded temporary jail where they are being held in inhumane conditions. Community members gathered in front of the downtown office of the Ombudsman of Human Right to show support for these falsely accused youth leaders and demand that the national police and specialized anti-gang units stop terrorizing the communities in and around the areas where the students were arrested.
About 50 people, including family members and neighbors of the arrested youth, addressed the Salvadoran press and held signs declaring, “Organizing to Improve our Communities is not a Crime” and, “Stop the Criminalization of Protest.” Ana Gladis Rivera, spoke about her twenty-five -year old son, Emerson Rivera, who, along with a friend and fellow youth organizer, Giovanni Aguirre, has been in hiding since the raid, fearing that to turn himself over to the authorities would land him in another overcrowded jail cell.
Like the others, Emerson’s mother was indignant at the charges of illicit association brought against her son, who has organized popular education schools, soccer tournaments and health campaigns in the community, and has worked with his neighbors on infrastructure projects in which the municipal government declined to invest. The MPR-12 alliance awarded Emerson and Giovanni scholarships in recognition of their local and national youth organizing work, and the two were expecting to start their university studies this month. Rivera believes that her son and fellow youth organizers are being targeted because of their involvement with the leftist FMLN party and their outspoken criticism of the administration of Mayor Norman Quijano of the right-wing ARENA party. Quijano, who is also ARENA’s candidate for the 2014 presidential elections, has been widely criticized for his disregard for the poorer sectors of San Salvador. In November, Quijano ordered the violent eviction of thousands of street vendors, the majority of whom are single mothers with no other source of income.
Since the young men are charged with being tied to gang or organized crime, their cases are part of a specialized court system made up of police judges trained by the U.S. run International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA). Under this specialized system, it seems that the police need very little, or even no, evidence to charge suspects with illicit association. In their first hearing in December, neither the youths nor their lawyers were able to present evidence in their defense. In 2007, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) reported on the increase in instances of police violence against young people and activists since the opening of the ILEA in 2005. These and other reports about the valuable lessons being imparted at the ILEA seem to contradict its stated goal of creating “a regional community of law enforcement professionals capable of effectively and efficiently fighting transnational crime, through the use of modern techniques and tools, with the utmost respect for human rights and the well-being of the people.” The terrorized residents of urban communities like El Progreso 3 would certainly question that description of their local police force. One of the El Progreso 3 residents told the staff of the Human Rights Office that a police officer stole $2000 from her neighbor during the December 12th raid and threatened to kill him if he reported the crime.
Community members from El Progreso 3 have been struggling under the dual pressures of police harassment and the violence of street gangs for some years. Carlos Vasquez, who works with the Catholic Church on violence prevention efforts in El Progreso 3 and surrounding communities complained that the police didn’t even investigate the murders of community members killed by gang members in past years. Their only activity was to , enter the community to collect the dead bodies. Instead of working on violence prevention, Vasquez says the police have ramped up their harassment of youth in the community, monitoring and photographing their organizing activities and movements. Residents fear that the anti-gang police will raid the community again using this information and they worry who will be taken next.
In the meantime, Emerson Rivera and his friend Giovanni Aguirre remain in hiding. Their fellow youth organizers are stuck inside an overcrowded jail and are only allowed to see their mothers once a week for three minutes when they come to deliver food. The youths were thus unable to participate in a soccer tournament they had organized and could not celebrate the holidays with their families. They are waiting for the slow process of justice to continue, since their next court hearing may not be for three or four months. Ana Gladis Rivera and her neighbors and friends, however, will continue organizing for the release of the young leaders, hoping that with the support of Salvadoran and international human rights organizations Emerson, Giovanni and the others might be able to get back to their important work of improving their community and fighting for a more just and fair El Salvador.
- Gangs Back Plan for Violence-Free Districts in El Salvador (ipsnews.net)
- El Salvador to Launch Youth Violence Prevention Program (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
Dozens of Israeli soldiers and policemen are surrounding the new Palestinian village, Bab Al-Shams, preparing to evict and remove the newly installed Palestinian outpost, set-up on Palestinian lands east of occupied East Jerusalem.
The army declared the area as a “closed military zone”, and prevented dozens of activists and residents from reaching it, before handing the Palestinians at the outpost a military order demanding them to remove their outpost and leave the area.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, an activist of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil’in village near the central West bank city of Ramallah, stated that the soldiers said that they will use force should the activists refuse to leave the area.
Abu Rahma added that dozens of Israeli soldiers and policemen were deployed in the area, and appear to be preparing to remove it.
“We have nothing but our will and determination, it will not be easy to remove us, we will use our expertise and abilities to remain steadfast”, Abu Rahma said, “It will take at least 800 soldiers to remove the 200 activists currently camping here”.
The activist spent a cold night in the new village, but remained there despite the lack of sheets and warm covers, while several activists burnt some wood to provide as much heat as possible.
One of the activists told the Maan News Agency that despite the cold, “the general atmosphere is pleasant due to the presence of committed activists and friends”.
“We are here enjoying the magnificent view of hills and mountains, close to Jerusalem”, the activist said, “It’s cold, the tents can’t prevent the cold, but we are here to stay”.
The US is looking into supporting French military intervention in its former African colony of Mali, by offering to provide “surveillance drones” as it has already declared its backing of moves against Malian militants.
US commanders were further considering other options such as “providing intelligence and aerial refueling tankers” as well as “logistical backup and boosting intelligence sharing,” involving its surveillance drones, AFP reported Friday, quoting an unnamed US official that spoke on condition of anonymity.
The report also quotes its anonymous source as saying that senior American officials held talks with their French counterparts as well as authorities from other European allies in Paris on “an action plan” against militants controlling a northern portion of the Muslim country.
The US military holds a network of major air bases in Italy, Spain and other western European countries and could back the French military intervention by providing it with refueling tankers and other logistical assistance.
Paris-backed Malian government forces, the report says, began a military offensive against militants that have seized control of the north of the West African states with aerial support from French war planes.
French President Francois Hollande has confirmed his country’s military intervention against what he has described as ‘al-Qaeda-linked radicals’ in Mali.
Previously, the US had raised alarms about the militants in Mali, blaming them for involvement in an attack against the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that led to the killing of its ambassador and three CIA operatives in the neighboring country.
The US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is also cited in the report as vowing support for French objectives in the West African country.
“We have noted that the government of Mali has asked for support, and we share the French goal of denying terrorists a safe haven in the region,” he is quoted as saying in the report.
Hollande, meanwhile, has insisted that France’s military intervention in Mali would continue “for as long as is necessary.”
- French troops begin military intervention in Mali: Hollande (alethonews.wordpress.com)