Spokesman for Hamas Movement Sami Abu Zuhri
GAZA – Spokesman for Hamas Movement Sami Abu Zuhri said Monday that Israel’s Army Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent threats to assassinate senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyah prove his government’s “terrorist nature”.
Abu Zuhri called in his Twitter account on all the free people around the world to unite their efforts in the face of “Israeli terrorism” and in support of the Palestinian people.
Earlier on Sunday, Lieberman renewed his earlier threats to assassinate Haniyyah before he leaves office.
In a live chat, Lieberman was asked about his promise before he was appointed Army Minister to eliminate senior Hamas leader Ismail Haneyyah. “It is wise to progress responsibly,” he answered.
“Speak with me about Haneyyah at the end of my term as Defense Minister,” he proclaimed.
Lieberman’s statements came only few days after the assassination of al-Qassam commander Mazen Fuqaha outside his house in Gaza city by six bullets to the head.
This weekend, the annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Convention takes place where 15,000 of this diabolical Jewish lobby’s best and brightest meet to mix and mingle, celebrate the successes of the past year and more importantly, strategize for the coming year how best to maintain Israel’s strength. The claim is that it’s in America’s best interest, as well, but the truth is American citizens get zero from this one-sided relationship. Sure, a few American companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin make boatloads of cash through the sales of Apache helicopters and weapons to Israel, but for American tax payers, the return on investment is nothing more than our share of the guilt of mass slaughter of Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, and whomever challenges Israel’s dominance in the region.
This lobby is powerful. Some consider it to be a lobby like any other, but the truth is it differs in a few crucial ways. To start with, no other lobby forks over millions of dollars in campaign donations, on local and federal levels to push the agenda of and back a foreign government. Whether one supports or opposes the existence of the Jewish state, it cannot be denied it is, in fact, a foreign government. And no other lobby makes EVERY member of Congress sign an agreement that they will fully and unconditionally support the state of Israel economically, politically, militarily and diplomatically. On the rare occasion someone has refused to sign it, the AIPAC campaign to get them removed from Congress goes into full-force. Ask Cynthia McKinney how refusing to sign this agreement worked out for her.
Counter to this annual event is a protest of AIPAC. I’ve attended this protest four times. Different groups organize to meet at the Convention Center to denounce AIPAC’s hideous agenda and the impact it has on our government, the Palestinians and beyond. The protests are always peaceful with a diverse group of people and one can always count on seeing familiar faces including Orthodox Torah Jews, Neturei Karta. They adamantly oppose Zionism and the existence of the Jewish state. I attend independently, not as a member of any group.
This year I made the choice to forego the protest and attend the fourth annual conference, ‘The Israel Lobby And American Foreign Policy’ hosted by The American Educational Trust who publishes Washington Report On Middle East Affairs and The Institute For Research: Middle Eastern Policy. I only learned of the conference just last year and missed an impressive lineup. This year I got lucky as a friend had an extra ticket and was generous enough to let me have it. The presenters and keynote speakers were, again, impressive. The standouts for me were Palestinian legislator and scholar Hanan Ashrawi, Ilan Pappé, documentary filmmaker (Two Blue Lines, Native Sons), Tom Hayes, and American Journalist and author, Clayton Swisher, who managed the six-month undercover investigation that produced Al-Jazeera’s 4-part series, “The Lobby”, about AIPAC’s activities in the U.K. It’s stellar and you can watch it on YouTube.
Hanan Ashrawi is a powerhouse, just as I expected. She is monumentally clever, charismatic and a force to be reckoned with. Her main focus was the Israel Lobby and the duplicity of the “peace process”. Ilan Pappé geared his presentation towards seeing Palestine through the prism of settler-colonialism (a term I’ve grown disgusted with due to its inaccuracy of what’s really taken place, therefore it’s been adopted by controlled opposition groups. It invokes a romantic, pastoral image rather than the reality of the more accurate terms of genocide, ethnic cleansing, land theft, etc.), the lobby’s participation in forming/maintaining Zionist myths, and accurately identifying and exposing the myths so that efforts to end the conflict are based in reality.
While most of the speakers had interesting perspectives and personal experiences with the Israel lobby, I had a nagging, frustrating feeling that something was missing. Speaker after speaker, I continued to be underwhelmed. No one went far enough. No one drew the parallels between Gaza, Detroit, Athens, and Berlin. In the world in which we currently live, we are all Palestinians. There was quite a lot of focus on the impact in Palestine and to Palestinians and non-Palestinian supporters of this struggle, we are always elated to hear anyone acknowledge the injustice and continuing horrors inflicted upon them since 1948, but is the acknowledgement of what we already know all we can expect? Have we been so well trained by the oppressor to not expect more?
About an hour or so after the conference ended, I had an epiphany. AIPAC is convening to determine our future while pro Palestinians convened to reflect on the past. Over the course of 8.5 hours, it was evident what is AIPAC’s agenda, how duplicitous and ruthless are its methods, how it manipulates Congress and further exacerbates the suffering of the Palestinians and how it strong-arm’s our government out of billions of tax-payer dollars to support the foreign government of the Jewish state of Israel. The conference was a culmination of the past and the present. But, what about the future? Where is the strategic plan for the future? When AIPAC has their convention on Sunday, March 26, 2017, they will spend some time celebrating the successes of this past year, but the vast majority of their 8 hour day will be spent strategizing about the future, both immediate and long term. They will present the road map, step by step no doubt, with crystal clarity of what are their goals and exactly what steps need to be taken to bring them to fruition, so that next year’s celebration will be bigger than this year, followed by a whole new strategy for the coming year.
If there is anything we can learn from AIPAC, indeed this is it.
Iran has announced retaliatory sanctions on 15 American companies over their support for Israeli crimes and terrorism two days after Washington imposed bans on nearly a dozen foreign companies or individuals for aiding the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that these companies have directly and/or indirectly collaborated with the Israeli regime in committing its savage crimes in occupied Palestine, thrown their weight behind the regime’s terrorist acts or contributed to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334.
Therefore, any transactions with these companies and businesses shall be prohibited, their assets shall be subject to freezing, and no visas shall be issued for individuals holding positions in or associated with these corporations, the statement further noted.
The ministry also said Washington’s unilateral bans were imposed on Tehran “under fabricated pretexts,” censuring the restrictive measures as a violation of “international law” as well as the spirit and text of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
On Friday, the US State Department said Washington had sanctioned 30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to Iran for its missile program or violating export controls on Iran, North Korea and Syria.
The statement further emphasized Iran’s resolve to develop its peaceful missile power as part of the nation’s “inalienable” right to enhance its deterrence and defense might in the face of threats.
The US sanctions targeted 11 companies or individuals from China, North Korea or the United Arab Emirates for transferring technology to Iran that it claimed could boost the country’s ballistic missile program.
Here is the list of the sanctioned US corporations:
– Beni Tal security company has collaborated with the Israeli military in the suppression of Palestinian people.
– United Technologies has sold Black Hawk military helicopters to the Israeli regime which have been used to bomb occupied territories and Palestinian refugee camps.
– Raytheon has supplied Israel with technologically advanced military weapons that have been used against Palestinian people during the Gaza war.
– ITT Corporation has provided the Israeli military with equipment it has used to stage nightly raids in Palestinian villages and refugee camps.
– Re/Max has been involved in illegal real estate transactions in Israeli settlements across occupied Palestinian territories.
– Oshkosh Corporation has been supplying the Israeli military with parts for armored vehicles used to restrain the Palestinian population.
– Magnum Research Inc. has collaborated with Israeli military industries in the manufacturing of firearms and military equipment.
– Kahr Arms has provided spare parts and developed light weapons used by the Israeli army in cooperation with the regime’s military industry.
– M7 Aerospace LP, purchased by US subsidiary of the Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems, has been active in the production and development of Israeli radar and missile systems.
– Military Armament Corporation has provided services and equipment linked to the weapons used by Israeli police.
– Lewis Machine and Tool Company has provided weapons spare parts and services to the Israeli military’s arms industry.
– Daniel Defense has provided the Israeli military’s arms industry with spare parts and services for weapons manufacturing.
– Bushmaster Firearms International has provided the Israeli military’s arms industry with spare parts and services for weapons manufacturing.
– O.F. Mossberg & Sons has supplied Israel with weapons, which are used by the regime’s military and police forces in the crackdown on Palestinian civilians.
– H-S Precision, Inc. has provided the Israeli regime with weapons manufacturing technology.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry stated that the list could expand to include more entities.
BETHLEHEM – Israeli police have refused to grant a permit for the annual March of Return this year organized by Palestinians to commemorate the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” alongside Israeli independence day, Israeli media reported on Thursday.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli police claimed that the event was refused due to their inability to provide police presence necessary for a march expected to be attended by 25,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters, saying that “it’s unfortunate that the organizers decided to conduct the march exactly on the day of Independence Day, when there are hundreds of approved events throughout the country.”
The march, which has been held for 18 consecutive years, is aimed at highlighting the internationally-recognized right of Palestinians who remain refugees or internally displaced to return to their homes and villages in Israel, a right which is upheld in United Nations Resolution 194.
Each year, the march is launched from a site of a Palestinian village destroyed by Israeli forces in 1948.
Muhammad Bassam, an attorney from the Israeli rights group Adalah, reportedly said that if the permit for the march was not granted by Israeli police, the group would appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. “The police decision is very strange and raises concerns that the refusal to approve the event is politically motivated,” he said.
Others pointed out to Haaretz that the organizers had already discussed the march with local police in the Israeli coastal city of Nahariya in order to launch the march from the destroyed Palestinian village of al-Kabri.
The Nahariya police had toured the planned route of the march two weeks prior, Haaretz reported, with the police already setting the police requirements for the march, leading some to suspect that the permit rejection was politically motivated.
The March of Return is usually held on Israel’s independence day to commemorate the Nakba, referring to the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and villages during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that established the state of Israel.
The official commemoration of the Nakba is held on May 15 and is observed by millions of Palestinians and rights activists around the world.
Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands in 1948 and were scattered across refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Today, there are over five million Palestinian refugees who remain displaced from their original homes and villages following the mass expulsion that occurred almost 70 years ago.
Former Palestinian prisoner, released in the 2011 Wafa al-Ahrar prsoner exchange, Mazen Fuquha, was assassinated with four shots to the head with a silenced gun yesterday evening, 24 March, outside his home in Tal al-Hawa, south of Gaza City in the Gaza Strip, Palestine. Fuquha, 38, is from Tubas in the West Bank, and was forcibly displaced to Gaza after the prisoner exchange.
Fuquha was well-known as a leader in Hamas, and was sentenced to nine life sentences before his release, accused of participation in the armed Palestinian resistance. His father spoke with Asra Voice radio station, and said that the Israeli occupation army had broken into the family home in Tubas on multiple occasions and threatened his son, demanding the father tell his son to stop his activity.
Palestinian political parties and resistance factions condemned the killing of Fuquha and placed responsibility for the crime with the Israeli occupation forces. Internal security police in Gaza are investigating the killing and seeking evidence as to how the assassination was carried out.
Khalil al-Hayya of Hamas said that “the only beneficiary of this assassination is the occupation; the martyr Fuquha had no quarrels with anyone.” The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced the killing as a “cowardly crime” of the occupation that attempts to target Palestinian resistance, emphasizing the importance of protecting Palestinian fighters. The Islamic Jihad movement said in a statement that the assassination is a “treacherous crime on the agenda of the occupation and carrying the fingerprints of its terror.”
Fuquha grew up in Tubas before attending An-Najah National University in Nablus, where he became involved with the Islamic Bloc and later the Hamas movement. He was arrested three times by Palestinian Authority security and by the Israeli occupation army on 5 August 2002 after a siege that lasted six hours. He was accused of organizing Palestinian armed actions and was sentenced to nine life sentences, and was one of the high-profile prisoners released in the Wafa al-Ahrar exchange. Nearly 60 prisoners released in the exchange, including the longest-serving prisoner Nael Barghouthi, have been targeted for re-arrest and the reimposition of their former sentences by Israeli occupation forces.
Hundreds of Jordanians have staged a protest rally to voice their outrage at Amman’s gas agreements with the Israeli regime, calling on the government to scrap the ‘deals of shame.’
The protesters took to the streets of the capital, Amman, on Friday, carrying national flags and holding signs to decry Israel-Jordan gas deals, the latest of which was inked in September last year.
During the march, the Jordanian demonstrators chanted slogans such as “Our dignity is dropping from deals of shame,” with some holding posters that read, “USA stop commissioning on our blood.”
The Jordanian National Campaign also joined voices with the protesters, calling on the government to drop the 2016 deal as it represents an obstacle to the country’s independence and economic development.
Besides the dependency aspect, activists argue that the money, which will be paid to Israel by Amman under such accords, will be used to finance Tel Aviv’s military and its occupation of Palestinian lands.
In September 2016, a deal was struck between an Israeli gas consortium and the Jordan Electric Power Company, valued at $10 billion (€9.25 billion).
Under the deal, the US-based Noble Energy company and other investors in Israel’s largest gas field will supply Jordan’s national electric company with 8.5 million cubic meters of gas over 15 years.
The agreement was quickly met with widespread popular opposition in Jordan, promoting thousands of people to fill the streets and slam the government over “gas imports from the Zionist enemy.”
The new turnout on Friday came weeks after Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the regime in Tel Aviv has been quietly exporting natural gas to Jordan through an American intermediary firm.
According to the report, gas deliveries to two Jordanian companies, the state-owned Arab Potash and Jordan Bromine, started in January. The firms had signed a 500-million-dollar, 15-year deal three years ago to purchase gas from Israel’s Tamar partners. The US State Department had acted as a mediator to forge the deal.
Over the past months, Jordan has been rocked by separate rallies held in protest at high living expenses and unemployment.
The Jordanian government is one of the only two Arab regimes that have open, diplomatic relations with Israel — the other being Egypt.
Tel Aviv and Amman signed a peace agreement in 1994, but many Jordanians are firmly opposed to normalization of ties with the occupying regime of Israel.
The Americans and Israelis said yesterday that Donald Trump’s administration has reiterated its concerns regarding Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The comment came after a series of talks which failed to agree on a settlement freeze in the territories within which the Palestinians want to establish an independent state.
The meetings were held at the highest level for four days in Washington and are the most recent step by Trump’s advisors to open the way to diplomatic efforts to achieve peace between Israel and Palestine. They went ahead despite deep doubts on the part of the US and Middle East states regarding the chances of success.
Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, who returned recently from a visit to the region, led the US delegation in the talks that were described as “intensive discussions”. The Israeli team was led by Yoav Horowitz, the Israeli prime minister’s chief of staff, and foreign policy adviser Jonathan Schachter.
Despite his more positive attitude towards Israel than his predecessor Barack Obama, President Trump urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit” during his visit to the White House last month. The two leaders agreed to allow their aides to agree on the limits of how much Israel can build and where.
“The Israeli delegation made clear that Israel’s intent going forward is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes [US] concerns into consideration,” said a joint statement issued by the White House at the end of the latest meetings. “The talks were serious and constructive, and they are ongoing.”
JORDAN VALLEY – The Israeli Civil Administration delegation visited the Jordan Valley Regional Council, compromising of 21 illegal settlements, on Friday to discuss ways to establish new development projects in the Jordan Valley settlements, Israeli media sources said.
The delegation included David El Hayani, mayor of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, and Aravot HaYarden, chairman of the council.
The delegation discussed ways to develop agriculture, tourism, and other economic sectors in the settlements.
Nearly one million tourists arrived last year in the Jordan Valley, half of whom came to visit the religious sites in the area, which were recently developed by the Civil Administration, Hayarden said.
For his part, El Hayani revealed plans to establish new tourism projects in the area including restaurants and parking.
The new projects came as part of the Israeli settlement expansion policy which has been notably escalated over the few months.
Earlier on Thursday, Haaretz (Hebrew) newspaper revealed that US President Donald Trump gave a green light for Israeli settlement construction in occupied Jerusalem.
Two British universities have cancelled lectures by international law professor Richard Falk after he co-authored a UN report which concludes that Israel is an “apartheid” regime.
Falk said Middlesex University called off his speech, citing “health and safety” concerns, while University of East London cancelled his lecture, claiming that the approval for the speech had not followed proper procedures.
“As far as I can tell, there is a growing kind of feeling that the educational establishment in Britain, specifically in England, has been kind of intimidated in dealing with those who are seen as critics of Israel,” Falk told the Middle East Eye news portal.
Falk denounced the cancellations as the “intensification” of a trend of restricting academic freedom on university campuses, warning that depriving students of delving into controversial issues restricts their experience for becoming engaged citizens.
Falk said he has experienced similar assaults on his character after serving as UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights from 2008 to 2014.
Since the UN report was published, the Princeton University professor has faced attacks and accusations of bias and anti-Semitism.
He dismissed such criticism as being far from reality and said that Zionist NGOs are trying to “shoot the messenger, rather than address the issues raised in the message.”
“It has been used against a variety of other people – playing the anti-Semitic card rather than dealing with the substance of Palestinian grievances or Israeli violations of international law,” Falk said.
The prominent law professor noted that supporters of Israel will be on weak grounds to discuss the realities in the occupied Palestinian territories, as Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has fallen below the level of acceptable moral behavior and international legal standards.
Falk’s co-authored report, which was reviewed by three “internationally renowned” jurists before it was published, was withdrawn from the UN website after prompting international uproar.
It documents “apartheid” patterns of discrimination that fragment Palestinian society through “distinct laws, policies and practices.”
“It appears to be an instance where the new UN Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] gave way to pressure coming particularly from Washington, but also from Israel,” Falk said.
Last week, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary for UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Rima Khalaf resigned in protest after Guterres ordered the study to be removed from the UN website.
Falk said the controversy over the report gave it an international visibility that it may not have enjoyed had it been just “one more UN report.”
U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East reportedly asked, during last week’s meeting, for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement construction in Jerusalem and outside the large settlement blocs. According to Al Ray, Netanyahu expressed reservations at an official freeze.
Channel 2 News reported, on Wednesday, that Jason Greenblatt, who visited Israel last week, asked Netanyahu to freeze construction in isolated settlements and restrict it to East Jerusalem and outside the large settlement blocs.
In addition, Washington also reportedly asked to set a fixed number of houses that can be built each year.
The Israeli security cabinet has rejected these requests, demanding that Israel has the right to build in any part of the West Bank.
TULKAREM – Israeli forces raided and sacked two Palestinian print shops in the northern occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem at dawn on Thursday and confiscated equipment.
Ali Abu Saleh, the owner of the two print shops, told Ma’an that large numbers of Israeli troops raided his home in the Shweika neighborhood and demanded that he let them access his stores.
Abu Saleh said that Israeli soldiers searched his shop in the Shweika area, where they confiscated equipment, printed materials, and destroyed security camera footage.
Israeli forces also raided Abu Saleh’s other print shop in central Tulkarem, breaking the front door and also confiscating equipment and materials.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that Israeli forces had raided the shops because they printed “inciting material.”
However, Abu Saleh rejected the army’s claims, calling them baseless, adding that 20 people were out of work following the raids.
Israeli forces had also aided another Tulkarem print shop earlier this month.
Israeli forces have previously targeted printing shops where posters commemorating Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were manufactured.
Since the beginning of the year, one Palestinian from Tulkarem was killed and another from the city succumbed to fatal injuries, after being shot by Israeli forces for allegedly attempting to commit attacks.
In the past year, Israel has targeted Palestinian media institutions and civilians, including activists and journalists, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015 was encouraged largely by “incitement.”..
A 19-year-old US-Israeli citizen has been arrested in southern Israel on suspicion of carrying out a wave of telephone bomb threats targeting Jewish centers and communities around the world.
The months-long, multi-agency investigation led Israel Police’s International Crime Investigations Unit to the city of Ashkelon, where the suspect and his father were arrested, and a search of their home was conducted on Thursday, local media reports.
“This specific investigation was complex in terms of the suspect and its nature,” Micky Rosenfeld, foreign press spokesman for the Israel Police, told the Jerusalem Post.
“There was a significant breakthrough in the investigation which led us to make the arrest of the suspect who lives in Southern Israel.”
“He was the main suspect behind the numerous amount of threats which were made to different Jewish communities and organizations around the world,” Rosenfeld added.
“I commend the FBI and Israeli National Police for their outstanding work on this case,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Thursday, as quoted by Reuters. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, and we will not tolerate the targeting of any community in this country on the basis of their religious beliefs.”
The suspect employed a variety of advanced masking technologies to disguise his identity, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed police spokesperson. His motives remain unclear.
Police seized a range of equipment during the search of the suspect’s home in southern Israel, which could potentially have disguised his physical location and IP address from authorities, frustrating the months-long investigation, Haaretz reports.
The FBI has been investigating a spate of bomb threats made to Jewish centers in Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and North Carolina, as well as similar threats to Delta Airlines.
The main break in the case came following a 2016 bomb threat to a Jewish center in New Zealand, after which authorities were able to trace the origin of the IP address to Israel.
The FBI, in coordination with the US Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies also traced the origin of the calls to the US back to an IP address in Israel and coordinated their efforts with Israeli authorities, handing over all relevant data to help with the investigation.