An American Century of Carnage

Global Research, March 31, 2017
TomDispatch.com 28 March 2017

[This essay is adapted from “Measuring Violence,” the first chapter of John Dower’s new book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two.]

On February 17, 1941, almost 10 months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Life magazine carried a lengthy essay by its publisher, Henry Luce, entitled “The American Century.” The son of Presbyterian missionaries, born in China in 1898 and raised there until the age of 15, Luce essentially transposed the certainty of religious dogma into the certainty of a nationalistic mission couched in the name of internationalism.

Luce acknowledged that the United States could not police the whole world or attempt to impose democratic institutions on all of mankind. Nonetheless, “the world of the 20th Century,” he wrote,

“if it is to come to life in any nobility of health and vigor, must be to a significant degree an American Century.” The essay called on all Americans “to accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such measures as we see fit.”

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the United States wholeheartedly onto the international stage Luce believed it was destined to dominate, and the ringing title of his cri de coeur became a staple of patriotic Cold War and post-Cold War rhetoric. Central to this appeal was the affirmation of a virtuous calling. Luce’s essay singled out almost every professed ideal that would become a staple of wartime and Cold War propaganda: freedom, democracy, equality of opportunity, self-reliance and independence, cooperation, justice, charity — all coupled with a vision of economic abundance inspired by “our magnificent industrial products, our technical skills.” In present-day patriotic incantations, this is referred to as “American exceptionalism.”

The other, harder side of America’s manifest destiny was, of course, muscularity. Power. Possessing absolute and never-ending superiority in developing and deploying the world’s most advanced and destructive arsenal of war. Luce did not dwell on this dimension of “internationalism” in his famous essay, but once the world war had been entered and won, he became its fervent apostle — an outspoken advocate of “liberating” China from its new communist rulers, taking over from the beleaguered French colonial military in Vietnam, turning both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts from “limited wars” into opportunities for a wider virtuous war against and in China, and pursuing the rollback of the Iron Curtain with “tactical atomic weapons.” As Luce’s incisive biographer Alan Brinkley documents, at one point Luce even mulled the possibility of “plastering Russia with 500 (or 1,000) A bombs” — a terrifying scenario, but one that the keepers of the U.S. nuclear arsenal actually mapped out in expansive and appalling detail in the 1950s and 1960s, before Luce’s death in 1967.

The “American Century” catchphrase is hyperbole, the slogan never more than a myth, a fantasy, a delusion. Military victory in any traditional sense was largely a chimera after World War II. The so-called Pax Americana itself was riddled with conflict and oppression and egregious betrayals of the professed catechism of American values. At the same time, postwar U.S. hegemony obviously never extended to more than a portion of the globe. Much that took place in the world, including disorder and mayhem, was beyond America’s control.

Yet, not unreasonably, Luce’s catchphrase persists. The twenty-first-century world may be chaotic, with violence erupting from innumerable sources and causes, but the United States does remain the planet’s “sole superpower.” The myth of exceptionalism still holds most Americans in its thrall. U.S. hegemony, however frayed at the edges, continues to be taken for granted in ruling circles, and not only in Washington. And Pentagon planners still emphatically define their mission as “full-spectrum dominance” globally.

Washington’s commitment to modernizing its nuclear arsenal rather than focusing on achieving the thoroughgoing abolition of nuclear weapons has proven unshakable. So has the country’s almost religious devotion to leading the way in developing and deploying ever more “smart” and sophisticated conventional weapons of mass destruction.

Welcome to Henry Luce’s — and America’s — violent century, even if thus far it’s lasted only 75 years. The question is just what to make of it these days.

Counting the Dead

We live in times of bewildering violence. In 2013, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Senate committee that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” Statisticians, however, tell a different story: that war and lethal conflict have declined steadily, significantly, even precipitously since World War II.

Much mainstream scholarship now endorses the declinists. In his influential 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker adopted the labels “the Long Peace” for the four-plus decades of the Cold War (1945-1991), and “the New Peace” for the post-Cold War years to the present. In that book, as well as in post-publication articles, postings, and interviews, he has taken the doomsayers to task. The statistics suggest, he declares, that “today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’s existence.”

Clearly, the number and deadliness of global conflicts have indeed declined since World War II. This so-called postwar peace was, and still is, however, saturated in blood and wracked with suffering.

It is reasonable to argue that total war-related fatalities during the Cold War decades were lower than in the six years of World War II (1939–1945) and certainly far less than the toll for the twentieth century’s two world wars combined. It is also undeniable that overall death tolls have declined further since then. The five most devastating intrastate or interstate conflicts of the postwar decades — in China, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and between Iran and Iraq — took place during the Cold War. So did a majority of the most deadly politicides, or political mass killings, and genocides: in the Soviet Union, China (again), Yugoslavia, North Korea, North Vietnam, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan/Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, and Cambodia, among other countries. The end of the Cold War certainly did not signal the end of such atrocities (as witness Rwanda, the Congo, and the implosion of Syria). As with major wars, however, the trajectory has been downward.

Unsurprisingly, the declinist argument celebrates the Cold War as less violent than the global conflicts that preceded it, and the decades that followed as statistically less violent than the Cold War. But what motivates the sanitizing of these years, now amounting to three-quarters of a century, with the label “peace”? The answer lies largely in a fixation on major powers. The great Cold War antagonists, the United States and the Soviet Union, bristling with their nuclear arsenals, never came to blows. Indeed, wars between major powers or developed states have become (in Pinker’s words) “all but obsolete.” There has been no World War III, nor is there likely to be.

Such upbeat quantification invites complacent forms of self-congratulation. (How comparatively virtuous we mortals have become!) In the United States, where we-won-the-Cold-War sentiment still runs strong, the relative decline in global violence after 1945 is commonly attributed to the wisdom, virtue, and firepower of U.S. “peacekeeping.” In hawkish circles, nuclear deterrence — the Cold War’s MAD (mutually assured destruction) doctrine that was described early on as a “delicate balance of terror” — is still canonized as an enlightened policy that prevented catastrophic global conflict.

What Doesn’t Get Counted

Branding the long postwar era as an epoch of relative peace is disingenuous, and not just because it deflects attention from the significant death and agony that actually did occur and still does. It also obscures the degree to which the United States bears responsibility for contributing to, rather than impeding, militarization and mayhem after 1945. Ceaseless U.S.-led transformations of the instruments of mass destruction — and the provocative global impact of this technological obsession — are by and large ignored.

Continuities in American-style “warfighting” (a popular Pentagon word) such as heavy reliance on airpower and other forms of brute force are downplayed. So is U.S. support for repressive foreign regimes, as well as the destabilizing impact of many of the nation’s overt and covert overseas interventions. The more subtle and insidious dimension of postwar U.S. militarization — namely, the violence done to civil society by funneling resources into a gargantuan, intrusive, and ever-expanding national security state — goes largely unaddressed in arguments fixated on numerical declines in violence since World War II.

Beyond this, trying to quantify war, conflict, and devastation poses daunting methodological challenges. Data advanced in support of the decline-of-violence argument is dense and often compelling, and derives from a range of respectable sources. Still, it must be kept in mind that the precise quantification of death and violence is almost always impossible. When a source offers fairly exact estimates of something like “war-related excess deaths,” you usually are dealing with investigators deficient in humility and imagination.

Take, for example, World War II, about which countless tens of thousands of studies have been written. Estimates of total “war-related” deaths from that global conflict range from roughly 50 million to more than 80 million. One explanation for such variation is the sheer chaos of armed violence. Another is what the counters choose to count and how they count it. Battle deaths of uniformed combatants are easiest to determine, especially on the winning side. Military bureaucrats can be relied upon to keep careful records of their own killed-in-action — but not, of course, of the enemy they kill. War-related civilian fatalities are even more difficult to assess, although — as in World War II — they commonly are far greater than deaths in combat.

Does the data source go beyond so-called battle-related collateral damage to include deaths caused by war-related famine and disease? Does it take into account deaths that may have occurred long after the conflict itself was over (as from radiation poisoning after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or from the U.S. use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War)? The difficulty of assessing the toll of civil, tribal, ethnic, and religious conflicts with any exactitude is obvious.

Concentrating on fatalities and their averred downward trajectory also draws attention away from broader humanitarian catastrophes. In mid-2015, for instance, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that the number of individuals “forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations” had surpassed 60 million and was the highest level recorded since World War II and its immediate aftermath. Roughly two-thirds of these men, women, and children were displaced inside their own countries. The remainder were refugees, and over half of these refugees were children.

Here, then, is a trend line intimately connected to global violence that is not heading downward. In 1996, the U.N.’s estimate was that there were 37.3 million forcibly displaced individuals on the planet. Twenty years later, as 2015 ended, this had risen to 65.3 million — a 75% increase over the last two post-Cold War decades that the declinist literature refers to as the “new peace.”

Other disasters inflicted on civilians are less visible than uprooted populations. Harsh conflict-related economic sanctions, which often cripple hygiene and health-care systems and may precipitate a sharp spike in infant mortality, usually do not find a place in itemizations of military violence. U.S.-led U.N. sanctions imposed against Iraq for 13 years beginning in 1990 in conjunction with the first Gulf War are a stark example of this. An account published in the New York Times Magazine in July 2003 accepted the fact that “at least several hundred thousand children who could reasonably have been expected to live died before their fifth birthday.” And after all-out wars, who counts the maimed, or the orphans and widows, or those the Japanese in the wake of World War II referred to as the “elderly orphaned” — parents bereft of their children?

Figures and tables, moreover, can only hint at the psychological and social violence suffered by combatants and noncombatants alike. It has been suggested, for instance, that one in six people in areas afflicted by war may suffer from mental disorder (as opposed to one in ten in normal times). Even where American military personnel are concerned, trauma did not become a serious focus of concern until 1980, seven years after the U.S. retreat from Vietnam, when post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was officially recognized as a mental-health issue.

In 2008, a massive sampling study of 1.64 million U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between October 2001 and October 2007 estimated “that approximately 300,000 individuals currently suffer from PTSD or major depression and that 320,000 individuals experienced a probable TBI [traumatic brain injury] during deployment.” As these wars dragged on, the numbers naturally increased. To extend the ramifications of such data to wider circles of family and community — or, indeed, to populations traumatized by violence worldwide — defies statistical enumeration.

Terror Counts and Terror Fears

Largely unmeasurable, too, is violence in a different register: the damage that war, conflict, militarization, and plain existential fear inflict upon civil society and democratic practice. This is true everywhere but has been especially conspicuous in the United States since Washington launched its “global war on terror” in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here, numbers are perversely provocative, for the lives claimed in twenty-first-century terrorist incidents can be interpreted as confirming the decline-in-violence argument. From 2000 through 2014, according to the widely cited Global Terrorism Index, “more than 61,000 incidents of terrorism claiming over 140,000 lives have been recorded.” Including September 11th, countries in the West experienced less than 5% of these incidents and 3% of the deaths. The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, another minutely documented tabulation based on combing global media reports in many languages, puts the number of suicide bombings from 2000 through 2015 at 4,787 attacks in more than 40 countries, resulting in 47,274 deaths.

These atrocities are incontestably horrendous and alarming. Grim as they are, however, the numbers themselves are comparatively low when set against earlier conflicts. For specialists in World War II, the “140,000 lives” estimate carries an almost eerie resonance, since this is the rough figure usually accepted for the death toll from a single act of terror bombing, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The tally is also low compared to contemporary deaths from other causes. Globally, for example, more than 400,000 people are murdered annually. In the United States, the danger of being killed by falling objects or lightning is at least as great as the threat from Islamist militants.

This leaves us with a perplexing question: If the overall incidence of violence, including twenty-first-century terrorism, is relatively low compared to earlier global threats and conflicts, why has the United States responded by becoming an increasingly militarized, secretive, unaccountable, and intrusive “national security state”? Is it really possible that a patchwork of non-state adversaries that do not possess massive firepower or follow traditional rules of engagement has, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared in 2013, made the world more threatening than ever?

For those who do not believe this to be the case, possible explanations for the accelerating militarization of the United States come from many directions. Paranoia may be part of the American DNA — or, indeed, hardwired into the human species. Or perhaps the anticommunist hysteria of the Cold War simply metastasized into a post-9/11 pathological fear of terrorism. Machiavellian fear-mongering certainly enters the picture, led by conservative and neoconservative civilian and military officials of the national security state, along with opportunistic politicians and war profiteers of the usual sort. Cultural critics predictably point an accusing finger as well at the mass media’s addiction to sensationalism and catastrophe, now intensified by the proliferation of digital social media.

To all this must be added the peculiar psychological burden of being a “superpower” and, from the 1990s on, the planet’s “sole superpower” — a situation in which “credibility” is measured mainly in terms of massive cutting-edge military might. It might be argued that this mindset helped “contain Communism” during the Cold War and provides a sense of security to U.S. allies. What it has not done is ensure victory in actual war, although not for want of trying. With some exceptions (Grenada, Panama, the brief 1991 Gulf War, and the Balkans), the U.S. military has not tasted victory since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, and recent and current conflicts in the Greater Middle East being boldface examples of this failure. This, however, has had no impact on the hubris attached to superpower status. Brute force remains the ultimate measure of credibility.

The traditional American way of war has tended to emphasize the “three Ds” (defeat, destroy, devastate). Since 1996, the Pentagon’s proclaimed mission is to maintain “full-spectrum dominance” in every domain (land, sea, air, space, and information) and, in practice, in every accessible part of the world. The Air Force Global Strike Command, activated in 2009 and responsible for managing two-thirds of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, typically publicizes its readiness for “Global Strike… Any Target, Any Time.”

In 2015, the Department of Defense acknowledged maintaining 4,855 physical “sites” — meaning bases ranging in size from huge contained communities to tiny installations — of which 587 were located overseas in 42 foreign countries. An unofficial investigation that includes small and sometimes impermanent facilities puts the number at around 800 in 80 countries. Over the course of 2015, to cite yet another example of the overwhelming nature of America’s global presence, elite U.S. special operations forces were deployed to around 150 countries, and Washington provided assistance in arming and training security forces in an even larger number of nations.

America’s overseas bases reflect, in part, an enduring inheritance from World War II and the Korean War. The majority of these sites are located in Germany (181), Japan (122), and South Korea (83) and were retained after their original mission of containing communism disappeared with the end of the Cold War. Deployment of elite special operations forces is also a Cold War legacy (exemplified most famously by the Army’s “Green Berets” in Vietnam) that expanded after the demise of the Soviet Union. Dispatching covert missions to three-quarters of the world’s nations, however, is largely a product of the war on terror.

Many of these present-day undertakings require maintaining overseas “lily pad” facilities that are small, temporary, and unpublicized. And many, moreover, are integrated with covert CIA “black operations.” Combating terror involves practicing terror — including, since 2002, an expanding campaign of targeted assassinations by unmanned drones. For the moment, this latest mode of killing remains dominated by the CIA and the U.S. military (with the United Kingdom and Israel following some distance behind).

Counting Nukes

The “delicate balance of terror” that characterized nuclear strategy during the Cold War has not disappeared. Rather, it has been reconfigured. The U.S. and Soviet arsenals that reached a peak of insanity in the 1980s have been reduced by about two-thirds — a praiseworthy accomplishment but one that still leaves the world with around 15,400 nuclear weapons as of January 2016, 93% of them in U.S. and Russian hands. Close to two thousand of the latter on each side are still actively deployed on missiles or at bases with operational forces.

This downsizing, in other words, has not removed the wherewithal to destroy the Earth as we know it many times over. Such destruction could come about indirectly as well as directly, with even a relatively “modest” nuclear exchange between, say, India and Pakistan triggering a cataclysmic climate shift — a “nuclear winter” — that could result in massive global starvation and death. Nor does the fact that seven additional nations now possess nuclear weapons (and more than 40 others are deemed “nuclear weapons capable”) mean that “deterrence” has been enhanced. The future use of nuclear weapons, whether by deliberate decision or by accident, remains an ominous possibility. That threat is intensified by the possibility that nonstate terrorists may somehow obtain and use nuclear devices.

What is striking at this moment in history is that paranoia couched as strategic realism continues to guide U.S. nuclear policy and, following America’s lead, that of the other nuclear powers. As announced by the Obama administration in 2014, the potential for nuclear violence is to be “modernized.” In concrete terms, this translates as a 30-year project that will cost the United States an estimated $1 trillion (not including the usual future cost overruns for producing such weapons), perfect a new arsenal of “smart” and smaller nuclear weapons, and extensively refurbish the existing delivery “triad” of long-range manned bombers, nuclear-armed submarines, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

Nuclear modernization, of course, is but a small portion of the full spectrum of American might — a military machine so massive that it inspired President Obama to speak with unusual emphasis in his State of the Union address in January 2016.

“The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth,” he declared. “Period. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”

Official budgetary expenditures and projections provide a snapshot of this enormous military machine, but here again numbers can be misleading. Thus, the “base budget” for defense announced in early 2016 for fiscal year 2017 amounts to roughly $600 billion, but this falls far short of what the actual outlay will be. When all other discretionary military- and defense-related costs are taken into account — nuclear maintenance and modernization, the “war budget” that pays for so-called overseas contingency operations like military engagements in the Greater Middle East, “black budgets” that fund intelligence operations by agencies including the CIA and the National Security Agency, appropriations for secret high-tech military activities, “veterans affairs” costs (including disability payments), military aid to other countries, huge interest costs on the military-related part of the national debt, and so on — the actual total annual expenditure is close to $1 trillion.

Such stratospheric numbers defy easy comprehension, but one does not need training in statistics to bring them closer to home. Simple arithmetic suffices. The projected bill for just the 30-year nuclear modernization agenda comes to over $90 million a day, or almost $4 million an hour. The $1 trillion price tag for maintaining the nation’s status as “the most powerful nation on Earth” for a single year amounts to roughly $2.74 billion a day, over $114 million an hour.

Creating a capacity for violence greater than the world has ever seen is costly — and remunerative.
So an era of a “new peace”? Think again. We’re only three quarters of the way through America’s violent century and there’s more to come.

John W. Dower is professor emeritus of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is the author of the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning War Without Mercy and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Embracing Defeat. His new book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two (Dispatch Books), has just been published. This essay is adapted from chapter one of that densely annotated book. (Sources for the information above appear in the footnotes in that book.)

Amazon Book Burning

Wasn’t it the Nazis who supposedly were the world’s foremost book burners? For more on the Amazon book ban, see article here. Readers might also be interested in a commentary by Gilad Atzmon. Suffice to say, freedom of thought, the right to question history, the right to call for a boycott against Israel–all of these freedoms are under attack now. Something to keep in mind as we head into day two of the the AIPAC conference.

The memorandum of the former Presidents makes them subject to trial مذكرة الرؤساء السابقين تعرّضهم للمحاكمة – انتهكوا الدستور لخدمة غبّ الطلب بلا قيمة سياسية

The memorandum of the former Presidents makes them subject to trial

 They violated the Constitution to serve their demand without political value

مارس 30, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The message sent by the former Presidents of the Republic and the government Amin Gemayel, Michael Suleiman, Fouad Al Siniora, Tamam Salam, and Najib Miqati makes them subject to trial for violating the constitution, knowing that two of them have sworn to preserve and to maintain it, as they have sworn that the President of the Republic is the President of the country, the symbol of its unity, and the one who negotiates on the foreign treaties, this item cannot be restricted with the contractual financial, military, and the political mono or multiple parties-understandings, because the political statements which are issued by the Arab, Islamic, and the international summits are foreign treaties signed by Lebanon, it undertakes to abide by their content. Lebanon starts its negotiating on them through the words recited by its President at the summit. The memorandum of the five former Presidents is a negotiation on behalf of the President of the Republic, and a desire of its owners to affect what the president will negotiate through the content of his words.

It is not important to talk about the political framework of the behavior of the former presidents because it is clear, as a Saudi bullying attempt against the Lebanese President in the name of the former presidents and in the light of the inability of Saudi Arabia to enlist a position that targets Hezbollah according to the balances of the summit in which there is an Iraqi- Egyptian-Algerian axis that seeks for calm and mobilizing the capacities and the Arab and the international relationships to confront the danger of the terrorism, and the fed up with the absurd Saudi wars against Syria,  Hezbollah, and Yemen. This will mean that the memorandum is without any political value because it will not benefit Saudi Arabia; however it will affect its launchers. The President of the Republic will not be hurt after he was notified that previous formers have addressed the summit by a memorandum that says things and things to say that do you accept if I have messages from the opposing groups in your countries and recite them at the summit, the place of the oppositions are inside the constitutional institutions of their country and within the concept of sovereignty not outside it. There is no justification to falter in the words of those who bother themselves and wrote the memorandum to be read during the summit,  otherwise there will be who can read the message of the Yemeni former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. So O his Majesty the King, do you agree to ask us to support you in your war in Yemen which killed, destroyed and ruined just under the slogan of supporting the constitutional legitimacy which is short deficient?

The issue is pure Lebanese and it is so serious, so it is enough to imagine its size to wonder whether the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will send to the European Summit a memorandum in which he precedes the words of the French President Francois Hollande  in order to affect the decision of the summit in an unfavorable way to what the constitutional and the legitimate President will ask, or if the former US President Barack Obama will send to the Twentieth Summit a message that contradicts and confuses what the legitimate constitutional President Donald Trump will ask, this is not a heresy or a  political silliness only, and it is not only constitutional and political chaos, but it is also a contravention of the concept of the sovereignty, the concept of legitimacy and democracy, and the meaning of the existence of the country and the constitution.

It is understood that that the Kings do not understand the meaning of the constitutions which they do not experience in their country, but the presidents who have known, read, and those who have sworn to protect it and those who did not know the magnitude of the crime which they are committing by making the judge between them and their President a foreign institution. They know the meaning that they are announcing a coup against the country, selling the sovereignty and violating the constitution. There is no suspicion in this issue, a complaint against the constitutional President to the Arab League as an alternative institution of the Lebanese country and its constitution which organizes the principles and the rules of the political life for those who agree and oppose, defining the mechanisms of the expression and change, so any violation of its rules or resorting to an alternative is a coup, and when the alternative is a foreign one then it is a violation of the sovereignty, and when it is an overbidding on what the president is going to negotiate upon as the foreign treaty entitled a statement of the Arab League, and if it is an attempt to negotiate instead of him, then it is a constitutional crime that worth the trial.

Hurry up to the birth of the Supreme Council to institute legal proceedings against those presidents and ministers; it seems that those are proceeding toward the dock

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 مذكرة الرؤساء السابقين تعرّضهم للمحاكمة – انتهكوا الدستور لخدمة غبّ الطلب بلا قيمة سياسية

مارس 29, 2017

ناصر قنديل
– الرسالة التي وجّهها الرؤساء السابقون للجمهورية والحكومة أمين الجميّل وميشال سليمان وفؤاد السنيورة وتمام سلام ونجيب ميقاتي تعرّضهم للمحاكمة بتهمة خرق الدستور، وقد أقسم اثنان منهما على الحفاظ عليه وصيانته، كما أقسما على أنّ رئيس الجمهورية رئيس الدولة ورمز وحدة البلاد، وعلى كونه من يفاوض على المعاهدات الخارجية، وهنا بند لا يمكن حصره بالتفاهمات التعاقدية المالية والعسكرية والسياسية الثنائية او المتعددة الأطراف. فالبيانات السياسية التي تصدر عن القمم العربية والإسلامية والدولية هي معاهدة خارجية يوقعها لبنان، ويتعهّد بالالتزام بمضمونها، ويبدأ لبنان مفاوضته عليها بالكلمة التي يلقيها رئيسه في القمة، ومذكرة الرؤساء السابقين الخمسة هي مفاوضة بالنيابة عن رئيس الدولة، بل وفقاً لرغبة أصحابها تخريباً على ما سيتولى المفاوضة عليه، في مضمون الكلمة التي سيلقيها.

– ليس مهماً بعد الحديث عن الإطار السياسي لخطوة الرؤساء السابقين فهي واضحة، كمحاولة استقواء سعودية على الرئيس اللبناني بما كتب باسم الرؤساء السابقين، في ظلّ عجز سعودي عن تمرير موقف يستهدف حزب الله وفقاً لتوازنات القمة التي تبلور فيها محور عراقي مصري جزائري يسعى للتهدئة وحشد الطاقات والعلاقات العربية والدولية لمواجهة خطر الإرهاب، وسئم الحروب السعودية العبثية ضدّ سورية وحزب الله وفي اليمن. وهذا سيعني أنّ المذكرة بلا قيمة سياسية لأنها لن تنفع السعودية بل ستلحق الضرر بأصحابها، فلن يضير رئيس الجمهورية أن يُقال له إنّ رؤساء سابقين خاطبوا القمة بمذكرة تقول أشياء وأشياء ليقول لهم، هل ترضون أن أحضر معي رسائل من معارضين في بلادكم وأتلوها في القمة، فمكان المعارضات داخل المؤسسات الدستورية لبلدها وضمن مفهوم السيادة، وليس خارجها، ولا يوجد ايّ مبرّر للتعثر بكلمات الذين عذبوا أنفسهم وكتبوا المذكرة وتلاوتها في القمة وإلا جاء من يتلو رسالة من الرئيس اليمني السابق علي عبد الله صالح فهل ترضى يا جلالة الملك وقد جئت تطلب منا دعم حربك في اليمن التي قتلت ودمّرت وخرّبت، فقط تحت شعار دعم الشرعية الدستورية على ما فيها من نواقص وعلات؟

– القضية لبنانية صرف اليوم وهي قضية على درجة من الخطورة يكفي لتخيّل حجمها التساؤل عما لو توجّه الرئيس الفرنسي السابق نيكولاي ساركوزي للقمة الأوروبية بمذكرة للقمة الأوروبية يستبق فيها كلمة الرئيس الفرنسي فرنسوا هولاند، وبهدف التأثير على قرار القمة بصورة معاكسة لما جاء يطلبه الرئيس الدستوري والشرعي، أو أن يوجه الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما إلى قمة العشرين برسالة تناقض وتشوّش على ما جاء يطلبه منها الرئيس الشرعي والدستوري دونالد ترامب، هذه ليست هرطقة وسخافة سياسية وحسب، ولا مجرد فوضى دستورية وسياسية وحسب، بل نقض لمفهوم السيادة ومفهوم الشرعية والديمقراطية، واستطراداً معنى وجود الدولة والدستور.

– من المفهوم أن لا يفقه الملوك بمعنى الدساتير التي لم يختبروها في بلادهم، لكن الرؤساء الذين عرفوا وقرأوا ومَن أقسم منهم ومَن لم يقسم على حمايته، يعرفون حجم الجريمة التي يرتكبونها بجعل الحكم بينهم وبين رئيس دولتهم مؤسسة خارجية، ويعرفون معنى أنهم يعلنون انقلاباً على الدولة ويبيعون السيادة وينتهكون الدستور. فالقضية لا التباس فيها، شكوى على الرئيس الدستوري للقمة العربية كمؤسسة بديلة عن الدولة اللبنانية ودستورها الذي ينظم أصول وقواعد الحياة السياسية لمن يوافق ومن يعترض، محدّداً آليات التعبير والتغيير، وكلّ خروج عن قواعده والتجاء لبديل عنها هو انقلاب وعندما يكون البديل خارجيا يكون انتهاكاً للسيادة، وعندما يكون مضاربة على ما ذهب الرئيس ليفاوض عليه من معاهدة خارجية إسمها بيان القمة العربية، ومحاولة للمفاوضة بدلاً منه، يصير جريمة دستورية تستحق المحاكمة.

– عجلوا بولادة المجلس الأعلى لمحاكمة الرؤساء والوزراء فيبدو أنّ هناك من يزحف بقدميه إلى قفص الاتهام أمامه.

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Weekly report on israel’s terrorism against the State of Palestine (23-29 March 2017)

Source

Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

 

  • Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child in al-Jalazone refugee camp and a woman in occupied Jerusalem.
  • 9 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were wounded.
  • Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported
  • Israeli forces conducted 51 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
  • 57 civilians, including 14 children and 3 young women, were arrested in the West Bank.
  • 25 of them, including 8 children and two young women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs.
  • Among those arrested were 10 of al-Aqsa guards.
  • Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.
  • Israeli forces forced a civilian to self-demolish his house roof in Beit Hanina, north of the city.
  • Two under-construction houses in al-Issawiyah were demolished in addition to two inhabited ones in al-Mukaber Mount, rendering 14 persons homeless, including 10 children.
  • Israeli forces continued their settlement activities in the West Bank.
  • A mobile house (caravan) was confiscated from the Northern Jordan Valley, and a metal workshop was demolished in al-Jaftalak village, north of Jericho.
  • Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea.
  • Israeli forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 10th
  • Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians.
  • 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at military checkpoints in the West Bank.

 

 

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (23-29 March 2017).

Shooting:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child and woman.  Meanwhile, they wounded 9 other civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank.  In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the sea and open fire at the farmers in the border areas.

In the West Bank, in a new crime of using excessive force, on 23 March 2017, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 4 others, including 2 children.  All of them were from al-Jalazone refugee camp, north of Ramallah.  Israeli forces claimed that Palestinians in a car traveling near Beit Eil Settlement threw Molotov Cocktails at the settlement fence.  The Israeli soldiers fortified in a watchtower opened fire at a car.  As a result, a child was killed and 4 other civilians were wounded.  According to information available at PCHR, if the Israeli forces’ claims were true, they could have used less lethal forces against the abovementioned civilians and arrested them.

In a new crime of wilful killings, on 29 March 2017, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian identified as Siham Rateb Nemer (49) after opening fire at her when she was entering the Damascus Gate (Bab al-‘Amoud) in occupied Jerusalem.  Israeli forces claimed as usual that the abovementioned woman attempted to stab an Israeli soldier.  However, PCHR’s investigations refuted those claims.  It should be mentioned that Siham is the mother of Mustafa Nemer, who was shot dead by Israeli soldiers on 05 September 2016 when he was driving a car along with his relative on ‘Anata Street in Sho’afat refugee camp, northeast of occupied Jerusalem.  As a result, he was killed and his relative was wounded.

On 24 March 2017, 5 Palestinian civilians were wounded while participating in a demonstration in al-Qaboun area near al-Mugheir village, northeast of Ramallah.  This demonstration was in protest against the establishment of a sheep barn by a settler in an attempt to establish a settlement outpost on the Palestinian lands.

In the Gaza Strip, as part of targeting the border areas, on 25 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip opened fire at the agricultural lands, east of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.  No casualties were reported.

On 28 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed inside watchtowers along the eastern borders of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at the border area opposite to al-Ahmar area.  No casualties were reported.

In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen, on 25 March 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boat sailing there.  However, no casualties were reported.  The shooting recurred in the same area on 29 March 2017.

Incursions:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 51 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 57 Palestinian civilians, including 14 children and 3 young women. Twenty-five of them, including 8 children and 2 young sisters, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Among those arrested were 10 of al-Aqsa guards.

Creating Jewish Majority in Occupied East Jerusalem:

In the context of house demolitions, on 25 March 2017, Yousif Bakhtan self-demolished a house roof in al-Ashqariyah neighborhood in Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of occupied Jerusalem, to avoid the Israeli Municipality’s high demolition costs .

On 28 March 2017, Israeli forces demolished an under-construction house belonging to Ahmed Abu al-Homos and an under-construction building belonging to Mheisen family in al-Issawiyah village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem.

On 29 March 2017, Israeli forces demolished two houses belonging to Islam and Imam Mousa al-‘Abasi in al-Mukaber Mount villagem, southeast of occupied Jerusalem.  The two houses were built in 2014 on an area of 160 square meters.  the first house sheltered Islam al-‘Abasi and his 8-member family, including 6 children, while the second houses sheltered his brother Imam and his family comprised of 6 members, including 4 children.

Settlement Activities and settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property:

On 27 March 2017, Israeli forces demolished a barrack used as a metal workshop in al-Jaftalak village, north of Jericho.  The 144-square-meter barrack roofed and built of tin plates belongs to Anwar Abu Joudah, whose family is comprised of 10 members, including 8 children, and he is the sole breadwinner of his family.

On 28 March 2017, Israeli forces confiscated a mobile house (caravan) in al-Hammah area in the Northern Jordan Valley, east of tubas.  The caravan belongs to Mahmoud ‘Awwad Ayoub and donated from ACTED Foundation.

In the same context, on 27 March 2017, a group of settlers from Gel’ad settlement established on the Palestinian lands of Jeet village, northeast of Qalqilya, attacked farmers from the abovementioned village while ploughing their land there.

Restrictions on movement:

Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

The illegal closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007 has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.  The Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 2 million people.  The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy.  They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 65%. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 47% and youth constitutes 65% of the unemployed persons.  Moreover, 80% of the Gaza Strip population depends on international aid to secure their minimum daily needs. These rates indicate the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued to suffocate the Palestinian cities and village by imposing military checkpoints around and/or between them. This created “cantons” isolated from each other that hinders the movement of civilians. Moreover, the Palestinian civilians suffering aggravated because of the annexation wall and checkpoints erected on daily basis to catch Palestinians.

Details

 

  1. Incursions into Palestinian Areas, and Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

 

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Deir Netham village, northwest of Ramallah, and patrolled in the village streets. They arrested Ragheb Mohammed Abdul Rahman (14) and released him few hours later.
  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Nablus, and stationed in al-Ma’ajin area, west of the city. They raided and searched a house belonging to Baraa’ Mohammed Abu al-Nawas (24) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into ‘Atil village, north of Tulkarm. They raided and searched a number of houses, after which they arrested Mothanna Abdullah Mohammed Sadlah (26).
  • At approximately 16:00, Israeli forces moved into Kufur al-Deek village, west of Salfit, and patrolled in the streets. They then arrested 3 children namely Mahmoud Ghassan Fasoul (17), Anas Abdul Jabbar Hadrous (17) and Mo’taz Ahmed Isam’il al-Deek (14). At approximately 18:00, the Israeli forces released them.
  • In a new crime of excessive use of lethal force, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child and wounded 4 others, including 2 children. All of them are from al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 20:00 on the same day, the Israeli soldiers stationed in the military watchtowers established at the western outskirts of “Beit Eil” settlement, north of Ramallah, adjacent to al-Jalazoun refugee camp from the eastern side, opened fire at a civilian car traveled by 5 civilians, including 3 children from the abovementioned camp. As a result, Mohammed Mahmoud Ibrahim Hattab (17) was hit with 2 live bullets to the chest and shoulder and died after short time. Four other civilians, including 2 children, were hit with live bullets, seriously wounding 3 of them. The first of those wounded was an 18-year-old civilian who sustained 2 live bullet wounds to the chest and abdomen, while the second is an 18-year-old civilian who was hit with 2 live bullets to the head and right thigh. The third was a 15-year-old civilian who sustained a live bullet wound to the chest.  Their wounds were classified as serious. Moreover, a 17-year civilian sustained shrapnel wounds to the head. The Israeli forces claimed that while those Palestinian civilians were driving a private car near “Beit Eil” settlement, they threw Molotov Cocktails at the settlement fence. The soldiers, who were in the watchtower, opened fire at the car. As a result, Hattab was killed and four others were wounded. PCHR’s fieldworker could not find a local eyewitness to approve or deny the Israeli claims due to the closure of the shops near the area. According to information available at PCHR and even if the Israeli claims were true, the Israeli forces could have used less lethal force against those civilians and arrested them.

(PCHR keeps the names of the wounded civilians).

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Beit Wazan village, west of Nablus; Sa’ir, Taffouh and Karmah villages in Hebron.

Friday, 24 March 2017

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into the southern area in Hebron. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Osama Nayef ‘Abbas Abu Suneinah (20) and Hazem Eshaq Abdul Fattah Wahdan (21) and then arrested them.
  • At approximately 17:30, Israeli forces moved into Silwad village, northeast of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ahmed Fathi Qadri (33) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 20:20, Israeli forces moved into ‘Ourta village, southeast of Nablus. They raided and searched a house belonging to Thaer ‘Arabi ‘Awad (28) and then arrested him.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Beit Furiq village, east of Nablus; Surif and Beit Awa villages in Hebron.

 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

 

  • At approximately 07:00, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. The shooting sporadically recurred until at approximately 10:00. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee for fear of their lives, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (4) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Hebron, Halhoul, Beit Awla villages and al-‘Aroub refugee camp in Hebron.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Taffouh village, west of Hebron. The soldiers surrounded al-Reda Building while a number of them raided and searched a house belonging to Ref’at Sarhan Tarwah and then arrested him. They confiscated a drone with camera.
  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Jalamah village, northeast of Jenin. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested 3 civilians namely Rami Hesham Nader Abu Farhah (21), Manaf Ahmed Abdullah Abu Farhah (21) and Tareq Khalil Sha’ban (32).
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Zeta village, south of Tulkarm. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Ayham Roumal ‘Ali Abu Hamdi (17).
  • At approximately 11:00, Israeli forces stationed in military watchtowers along the eastern side of the al-Shuhada Cemetery, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands adjacent to the border area. As a result, the farmers were forced to leave the area for fear of their lives, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Yasouf village, east of Salfit; Emrish and Surif villages in Hebron.

Monday, 27 March 2017

 

  •  At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Sa’ir village, east of Hebron, and patrolled in the streets. A number of young men threw stones at the Israeli jeeps. An Israeli soldier then stepped out of a jeep and randomly opened fire at the young men, but no casualties were reported. Following that, about 30 military jeeps arrived at the centre of the village as the soldiers deployed in the area. Later, the Israeli forces withdrew, but neither arrests nor raids were reported.
  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Rantees village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched houses belonging to Jehad Sari Wahdan (30), Mo’taz Samih Wahdan (30) and Zaid Samhan Wahdan (24) and then arrested them.
  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Nour Shams refugee camp, east of Tulkarm. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested ‘Alaa’ Khaled Mahmoud Ismail (23) and Emad Ahmed Yusuf Abu Harb (34).
  •  Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Tulkarm. They raided and searched several houses then arrested Ra’fat Jamil Mohammed Basif (50) and Hamzah Yahiya (24). It should be noted that Nasif is a Hamas leader in Tulkarm.
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Abu Romman neighbourhood in the south-eastern area in Hebron and stationed near al-Tamimi family Divan. They raided and searched a house belonging to ‘Adnan Fanoun al-Tamimi and then handed his son Ahmed (22) a summons to refer to the Israeli Intelligence “Shin Bet” in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem.

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (5) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Qalqiliyah, Yatta, Bani Na’im, al-Shoyoukh villages and Farsh al-Hawa area in Hebron.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

  • At approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Bani Na’im village, east of Hebron. They patrolled in Wadi al-Jawz, Muthalath Abu Hleil and al-Babour neighborhoods. They raided and searched several houses, but no arrests were reported. In al-Babour neighborhood, the Israeli soldiers raided and searched a house belonging to Qamar al-Anbiyaa’ Ismail Mousa ID’eis (37), broke a wooden door and ruined the contents of a goods store near his house. The soldiers verbally informed ID’eis to refer to the Israeli Intelligence Service in “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of Bethlehem. In the central village, the soldiers raided and searched 2 houses belonging to 2 brothers; Hesham (50) and Hashem (52) Mohammed Ibrahim Ermilat. The soldiers held their families’ members outside for an hour before moving them to the ground floor and detaining them for 4 hours. During which, the soldiers searched the 2 houses, destroyed the contents and tore wooden seats in Hashems’ apartment. As for Wadi al-Jawz area, the Israeli forces raided and searched houses belonging to Mohammed ‘Obaid Harashah, Ziyad ‘Obaid Harashah and Khalil Yusuf Malas, whose house was photographed. Hashem Ermilat said to PCHR’s fieldworker that:

“My brother and I along with our families in addition to my son Husain’s family (25) and his baby (6 months) were held outside the house for half an hour despite the cold weather. The soldiers then moved us to an under-construction room in the ground floor for 4 hours while 3 soldiers were pointing their weapons at us. My daughter Ahlam panicked and then fainted.”

  • At approximately 01:30, Israeli forces moved into Tal village, southwest of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses, after which they arrested Sojoud ‘As’ad Rihan (25), an engineering student in Najah National University.
  • Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah. They raided and searched a house belonging to Mohammed Khalil Sorour (18) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 02:00, Israeli forces moved into Tubas. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Saif Mohammed Hamad Daraghmah (18), a student at Tubas Secondary School.
  • Around the same time, Israeli forces accompanied with a number of military jeeps moved into Beit Awa village, southwest of Dura, southwest of Hebron. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Mahmoud Raed Masalmah (16) and Ahmed Khaled Abu al-Jamal (17) and then arrested them.
  • At approximately 02:30, Israeli forces moved into al-Salam and al-Jalaah neighbourhoods in Hebron. They raided and searched a house belonging to Abdul Rahim ‘Omran al-Atrash (28) and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces moved into Jenin. They raided and searched a number of houses and then arrested Sultan Bassam Hamdan (31).
  • At approximately 09:00, Israeli forces stationed in military watchtowers along the eastern borders of Beit Hanoun village in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at the border area adjacent to al-Ahmer area. As a result, farmers and a number of bird hunters and shepherds were forced to flee for fear of their lives, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.

 

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Sa’ir village and al-‘Aroub refugee camp in Hebron and Howarah village, south of Nablus.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

  • At approximately 01:35, Israeli forces moved into ‘Aqraba village, southwest of Nablus. They raided and searched a number of houses then arrested Huthaifah Jamal Khater (26).
  • At approximately 03:00, Israeli forces accompanied with several military jeeps and a truck with a crane moved into the southern area in Hebron. They raided and searched a workshop belonging to Tayseer Abu Sbaih (55) and then confiscated the workshop contents. The Israeli authorities claimed that the workshop is used for manufacturing ammunition explosives. The Israeli forces later withdrew, but no arrests were reported.
  • At approximately 23:45, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee for fear of their lives, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.

Note: During the aforementioned day, Israeli forces conducted (3) incursions in the following areas and no arrests were reported: Jabaa’ village, south of Jenin, Bani Na’im village, and al-Fawar refugee camp in Hebron.

 

  • Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall

West Bank:

  • At approximately 10:00, on Friday, 24 March 2017, dozens of Palestinian civilians organized a demonstration in al-Qabboun area near al-Moghir village, northeast of Ramallah, in protest against a sheep barn built by a settler in an attempt to establish a settlement outpost on the Palestinian lands. The Israeli forces immediately fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the protestors. As a result, 5 civilians sustained wounds. The first civilian (29) sustained a live bullet wound to the lower limbs, the second (23) was hit with a live bullet to the lower limbs, the third (19) was hit with a tear gas canister to the head, the fourth one (19) was hit with a bullet to the thigh and the fifth (31) was hit with a tear gas canister to the head.

(PCHR keeps the names of the wounded civilians).

  • Following the Friday prayer, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized demonstrations in Bil’in and Nil’in villages, west of Ramallah and in Kafer Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, protesting against the annexation wall and settlement activities. Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the protests, firing live and metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. They also chased the protesters into olive fields and between houses. As a result, many of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises due to being beaten up by the Israeli soldiers.

 

  1. Continued closure of the oPt

Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.

Gaza Strip

Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets.

Israeli forces have continued to apply the policy, which is aimed to tighten the closure on all commercial crossings, by imposing total control over the flow of imports and exports.

Israeli forces have continued to impose a total ban on the delivery of raw materials to the Gaza Strip, except for very limited items and quantities. The limited quantities of raw materials allowed into Gaza do not meet the minimal needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces also continued to impose an almost total ban on the Gaza Strip exports, including agricultural and industrial products, except for light-weighted products such as flowers, strawberries, and spices. However, they lately allowed the exportation of some vegetables such as cucumber and tomatoes, furniture and fish.

Israel has continued to close the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the majority of Palestinian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel only allows the movement of a limited number of groups, with many hours of waiting in the majority of cases. Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at reducing the number of Palestinian patients allowed to move via the Beit Hanoun crossing to receive medical treatment in hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also continued applying the policy of making certain civilian traveling via the crossing interviewed by the Israeli intelligence service to be questioned, blackmailed or arrested.

Movement at Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing, southeast of Rafah, is designated for the movement of goods

(20 – 27 March 2017)

Date Imports
Category Amount
Tons Number Liters
20 March Various goods 4228
Humanitarian aid 21823
Cooking gas 252,080
Benzene 187,004
DieselDiesel for UNRWA 743,93338,020
Construction aggregates 169,620
Cement 3560
Construction steel 600
21 March Various goods 3,966
Humanitarian aid 19, 592
Cooking gas 248,520
Benzene 224,020
DieselDiesel for UNRWA 375,94176,000
Construction aggregates 14,400
Cement 4160
Construction steel 930
22 March

 

Various goods 2,082
Humanitarian aid 17,756
Cooking gas 253,490
Benzene 117,993
DieselDiesel for UNRWA 475,94838,000
Industrial Diesel 511,436
Construction aggregates 3,920
Cement 324
Construction steel 13,040
23 March Various goods 4,566
Humanitarian aid 18,982
Cooking gas 254,800
Benzene 228,043
DieselDiesel for UNRWA 554,95476,016
Industrial Diesel 1,011,358
Construction aggregates 14,520
Cement 3760
Construction steel 550
26 March

 

Various goods 3,813
Humanitarian aid 18,484
Cooking gas 227,260
Benzene 76,020
DieselDiesel for UNRWA 408,94038,000
Industrial Diesel 488,956
Construction aggregates 3,560
Cement 299
Construction steel 14,240
27 March Various goods 4,369
Humanitarian aid 4,091
Cooking gas 249,580
Benzene 192,028
DieselDiesel for UNRWA 594,91138,000
Industrial Diesel 489,958
Construction aggregates 3,477
Construction steel 614

 

Note:

 

On Monday, 20 March 2017, the Israeli authorities allowed the exportation of 9 truckloads of tomatoes; 4 truckloads of cucumbers; a truckload of eggplants; a truckload of hot pepper; 1.4 tons of bill pepper; 11.5 tons of squash and 2.5 tons of cauliflower.

On Tuesday, 21 March 2017, the Israeli authorities allowed the exportation of 20 tons of lemon.

On Wednesday, 22 March 2017, the Israeli authorities allowed the exportation of 10 truckloads of tomatoes; 7 truckloads of cucumbers; a truckload of eggplants; a truckload of pepper; 0.9 tons of bill pepper; 14.08 tons of squash; a truckload of cabbages; 2 tons of cauliflowers; 4 tons of clothes; 0.09 tons of mint and 0.45 tons of garlic.

On Thursday, 23 March 2017, the Israeli authorities allowed the exportation of 8 truckloads of tomatoes; 6 truckloads of cucumbers; 3.2 tons of eggplants; a truckload of pepper; 2 tons of bill peppers; 7a truckload of squash; and 0.5 tons of cabbages.

On Sunday, 26 March 2017, Israeli authorities allowed the exportation of a truckload of lemon; truckload of fish and 15 truckloads of vegetables.

On Monday, 27 March 2017, the Israeli authorities allowed the exportation of 38 tons of aluminum scrap and 9 truckloads of vegetables.

 

 

Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing, in the north of the Gaza Strip, is designated for the movement of individuals, and links the Gaza Strip with the West Bank.

 

Movement at Beit Hanoun (“Erez”) crossing

(21-27 March 2017)

Category 21 March 22 March 23 March 24 March   25 March  26 March 27 March
Patients 71 58 47 1 36
Companions 65 50 42 1 34
Personal needs 34 61 53 2 6
Familiesof prisoners 15
Arabs fromIsrael 10 6 7 10 3
Diplomats 8 19 6 1
International journalists
International workers 49 28 81 9
TravelersAbroad 42 1 2
Business people 128 123 118 1
Business meetings 1
Security interviews 4 4 1
VIPs 1 1 1
Ambulances to Israel 2 7 1 2 2
Patients’ Companions 2 6 1 2 2

Israel has imposed a tightened closure on the West Bank. During the reporting period, Israeli forces imposed additional restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians:

  • Hebron: Israeli forces established (16) checkpoints all over the city.

On Thursday, 23 March 2017, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints at the eastern entrance to Dura village and at the entrances to Samou’a and Raboud villages.

On Friday, 24 March 2017, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints at the entrances to al-Fawar and al-‘Aroub refugee camps and at the entrance to al-Ramadeen village.

On Saturday, 25 March 2017, Israeli forces established 2checkpoints at the entrances to Kharras and Sa’ir villages.

On Sunday, 26 March 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the entrances to Sa’ir and Beit Ummer villages.

On Monday, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the entrance to Raboud village and at the northern entrance to Halhoul village.

On Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Israeli forces established 4 checkpoints at the entrances to Ethna, al-Shayyoukh and Samou’a village and at the western entrance to Hebron.

Ramallah and al-Bireh:  Israeli forces established (16) checkpoints all over the city.

On Thursday, 23 March 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the entrance to al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah and in ‘Atara village’s bridge, north of the city.

On Saturday, 25 March 2017, Israeli forces established 6 checkpoints in ‘Atara village’s bridge, north of the city; at al-Taiba villge’s intersection (al-Mo’arajat raod between Ramallah and Jericho); at the entrances to al-Nabi Saleh , Deir Abu Mish’al and ‘Aboud villages, northwest of the city; and between Selwad and ‘Ain Yabroud villages, northeast of the city.

On Sunday, 26 March 2017, Israeli forces established 6 checkpoints in ‘Atara village’s bridge, north of the city; at the entrances to al-Nabi Saleh , Deir Abu Mish’al and ‘Aboud villages, northwest of the city; at the intersections of  Selwad, Deir Jareer and al-Tiba villges, northeast of Ramallah.

On Monday, 27 March 2017, a similar checkpoint was established at the entrance to ‘Aboud village, west of Ramllah.

On Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Israeli forces established 2 checkpoints at the entrance to ‘Aboud village, northwest of the city and in ‘Ain Yabroud village, northeast of the city.

 

Salfit:

On Thursday, 23 March 2017, Israeli forces established 3 checkpoints at the entrance to Kafur al-Deek village, west of Salfit; between Kafur al-Deek and Burqeen villages, west of the city; and at the eastern entrance to Yasouf villge, east of the city.

Qalqiliyia:

At approximately 16:50 on Friday, 24 March 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the eastern entrance to Qalqilyia. At approximately 23:00 on Saturday, 25 March 2017, a similar checkpoint was established near al-Fondouq village on the main street between Nablus and Qalqilyia.

Bethlehem:

On Thursday, 23 March 2017, Israeli forces closed the entrances to western countryside of Bethlehem, which include Hosan, Nahleen and Wad Fokeen villages. As a result, civilians were denied access to their houses and work. Eyewitness stated that the Israeli forces closed with sand and cement barriers in addition to rocks the entrances leading to the western countryside villages , so vehicles and buses were denied access to the villages while the villages’ residents were forced to access the villages on foot. It should be noted that the checkpoints are established until now.

Nablus:

 

At approximately 10:30 on Saturday, 25 March 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the western entrance to ‘Aqraba village, southeast of Nablus. The Israeli forces stopped Palestinian vehicles and checked their IDs. No arrests were reported.

Arrests at military checkpoints:

 

  • At approximately 14:00 on Thursday, 23 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed at the entrance to Beit ‘Aynoun village, east of Hebron, arrested Mohamed ‘Emad Jaradat (17), from Sa’ir village, while passing through the checkpoint. Mohamed was then taken to a police station in “Gush Etzion” settlement, south of Bethlehem. It should be noted that in the morning, the Israeli authorities closed the abovementioned entrance with an iron gate. They also forced civilians to pass through a bumpy road in order to reach their houses. The Israeli forces claimed that the closure came as a result of throwing stones at the Israeli vehicles.

 

  • At approximately 16:30 on Friday, 24 March 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint on ‘Atara village’s bridge at the northern entrance to Birzeit, north of Ramallah. The Israeli forces searched Palestinian vehicles and checked their IDs. During this, they arrested Ahmed Hasan al-Barghothi (23), from ‘Aboud village, northwest of the city.

 

  • At approximately 16:30 on Saturday, 25 March 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the intersection of Eastern Mazra’ah village, northeast of Ramallah. The Israeli forces searched Palestinian vehicles and checked their IDs. During this, they arrested Ahmed Saleh Suliman Ghawanmah (26), from Kafur Malek village, northeast of the city.
  • At approximately 12:20 on Sunday, 26 March 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the entrance to Emateen village, northeast of Qalqiliya. The Israeli forces searched Palestinian vehicles and checked their IDs. During this, they arrested Ayoub Ma’zouz Sowan (20).
  • At approximately 18:30 on Monday, 27 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed at Za’atara checkpoint, southeast of Nablus, arrested Ameer Khalid Sweilem (21), from Balata refugee camp, east of the city. Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli forces stopped a vehicle carrying Sweilem, checked the passengers’ IDs and then arrested him.
  • At approximately 17:00 on Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint near ‘Atara village’s bridge, north of Ramallah. The Israeli forces searched Palestinian vehicles and checked their During this, they arrested Hamza Foad Jameel Abu al-Haj (23), from Deir al-Sodan village, northwest of Ramallah.
  • At approximately 18:30 on Wednesday, 29 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed at al-Hamrah checkpoint, southeast of Tubas village, arrested Mohamed Husain Yousef ‘Ayidah (25), from Tubas. Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli forces stopped a vehicle carrying Mohamed, checked the passengers’ IDs and then arrested him.

 

  • Efforts to Create Jewish majority

 

Israeli forces escalated their attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property. They have also continued their raids on al-Aqsa Mosque and denied the Palestinians access to it:

Shooting Incidents:

 

  • In a new crime of wilful killing, on Wednesday, 29 March 2016, Israeli forces shot dead Siham Ratib Nimer (49) at Damascus “al-‘Amoud” Gate in occupied Jerusalem. According to eyewitnesses, Siham was on her way along with her two daughters, Zahra (20) and Manar ( 22), to Jerusalem’s Old City through al-‘Amoud Gate. As they were walking, a verbal altercation happened between the Israeli soldiers and Siham’s daughters. When Siham attempted to intervene, an Israeli soldier opened fire at her. As a result, Siham was hit with live bullets to the chest and limbs and died. Eyewitnesses added that the Israeli forces moved into the area, completely surrounded it, and denied access to it. A paramedic, who was passing by the area and wearing his uniform, tried to offer first aid to her, but the Israeli forces prevented him. Furthermore, the Israeli Intelligence Service arrested Siham’s two daughters and summoned her husband Talal Nimer for interrogation. The Israeli forces claimed that Siham attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against the Israeli soldiers. It should be noted that, the victim was the mother of Mustafa Nimer, who was killed on 05/9/2016, when the Israeli forces opened fire at a vehicle traveling by Mustafa and his relative on ‘Anata Street in Shu’fat refugee camp, northeast of Jerusalem. As a result, Mustafa was killed while his relative was wounded.

Arrests and Incursions:

 

  • On Thursday, 23 March 2017, Israeli officers attacked Palestinian civilians in Jerusalem. Those civilians were identified as Mazen Ra’fat Showeiki (50) and Ahmed al-Taweel (26). Al-Showeiki said to PCHR’s fieldworker that he headed to his truck, which was in the Ministry of Interior parking, in Wad al-Jouz neighborhood, but was surprised with an Israeli officer coming, pulling him out of the truck and insulting him. The Israeli officer said to him, “Why did you hit my car parked there?” Mazen told him that he will repair the car and give him all the necessary papers. In spite of this, the Israeli officer hit Mazen at his chest and head. Mazen said that he hit the officer’s car on Tuesday, 31 March 2017, in the Ministry of Interior parking and on that day he could not know the car’s owner, so he left the area after waiting for over half an hour. Mazen added that a group of Palestinian young men attempted to prevent the attack, but they were exposed to beating as well. Furthermore, Ahmed al-Taweel said that a group of Palestinian young men attempted to prevent the attack, but were beaten and threatened with the officer’s firearm. The officer also said that three officer of the Israeli special forces along with guards, who work in the Ministry of Interior, severely beat the abovementioned Palestinian young men as shown in a video. As a result, al-Showeiki suffered from dyspnea and sustained bruises wounds, while al-Taweel suffered bruises in his eyes.

 

  • On Friday, 24 March 2016, Israeli forces raided and searched a house belonging to the activist, Mohamed Shalabi (35), in occupied Jerusalem’s Old City, and then arrested him.

 

  • In dawn, Israeli forces raided and searched houses belonging to ‘Alaa al-Deen al- Natsha (22), Mohamed Abu Shosha (21) and Hamza Milhes (21). All of the abovementioned persons were arrested.
  • Following the Friday’s prayer, dozens of Palestinian young men organized a protest in al-Aqsa Mosque yards demanding for the killed victims’ bodies under the Israeli custody. When the protesters got out of the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Israeli forces arrested 3 children and then took them to detention centres for interrogation. The arrested children were identified as ‘Isaa Mohamed al-Ja’bari (17), Yazan Hisham al-Ja’bari (16) amd Siraj al-Deen Mireesh (14).
  • On Saturday, 25 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-Sawanah neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ameer Waleed al-Bilbasi and arrested him.

 

  • On Saturday, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Amoud neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched a house belonging to ‘Abed al-Raheem Barbar and arrested him.

 

  • On Monday, 27 March 2017, Israeli forces arrested 4 of al-Aqsa Mosque guards while confronting an Israeli archaeologist, who attempted to steal one of the mosque stones. The Islamic Endowments (Awqaf) Department stated that an Israeli archaeologist attempted to steal one of the mosque stones, but the guards confronted him. In addition, when the archaeologist got out of the mosque, he attempted to raid Al-Marwani Mosque, but the guards confronted him as well. In the meantime, the Israeli forces arrested Loai Abu al-Sa’ad and Salman Abu Mayalah. Moreover they arrested two guards, Hamza Nimer and ‘Arafat Najeeb. In the evening, ‘Ahed Jouda and Mohanad Idrees, al-Aqsa Mosque guards, turned themselves in to al-Silsilah Gate police station for interrogation. Furthermore, the Israeli forces arrested 4 other al-Aqsa Mosque guards after raiding their houses in the Old City’s neighbourhoods and al-Sawana neighbourhood. The arrested guards were identified as Samer al-Qabani, Qasem Kamal, Osama Siyam and Khalil al-Tarhouni.

 

  • Houses Demolition:

 

  • On Saturday, 25 March 2017, a Palestinian civilian, Yousef Bakhtan, self-demolished his house roof in al-Ashqariyah neighbourhood in Beit Haninah neighbourhood, north of occupied Jerusalem to avoid the Israeli Municipality’s high demolition costs. Yousef said that he demolished his under-construction house roof to avoid the demolition costs. The Israeli Municipality gave Yoused until 29 March 2017, to self-demolish his house roof, which was built on an area of 60 square meters, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • On Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with the Israeli Municipality crews and a bulldozer moved into al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. The bulldozer demolished an under-construction house belonging to Ahmed Abu al-Humus under the pretext of non-licensing. The house was comprised of one floor and built on an area of 150 square meters. In the meanwhile, the Israeli forces headed to an under-construction residential building belonging to Muheisin family and then demolished the first floor built a year ago. The family stopped the house construction due to the Israeli Municipality decision. It should be noted that the family attempted to get a license, but the house was demolished without a prior warning.

 

  • Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property

 

  • Israeli Settlers:

 

  • At approximately 09:00 on Monday, 27 March 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with Civil Administration crews and military bulldozers moved into al-Jeftalik village, north of Jericho. They demolished a barrack built of tin plates on an area of 144 square meters under the pretext of non-licensing. The barrack belongs to Anwar Mohamed Mahmoud Abu Jouda, whose family is comprised of 10 members, including 8 children.

 

  • At approximately 12:30 on Tuesday, 28 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-Humma area in the northern Jordan Valley, east of Tubas. They confiscated a mobile house (caravan) belonging to Mahmoud ‘Awwad Ayoub. After that, they dismantled and moved it by a truck with a crane to an unknown destination. It should be noted that the caravan was donated by the ACTED Foundation.
  • At approximately 13:00 on Monday, 27 March 2017, a group of Israeli settlers from “Gilad settlement in Jeet village, northeast of Qalqiliya, attacked the village farmers while ploughing their land. Tamer Tayseer Mahmoud Yameen (38), said to a PCHR’s fieldworker that:

“While the farmers were ploughing the land as we got a permit from the Israeli forces, an Israeli female settler came and started shouting at us. In the meantime, five other Israeli settlers approached and insulted us.  One of the settlers threatened us with a firearm, while another one threw stones at the tractor driver namely Qasem Rushdi Ahmed Sedah (48).  As a result, the stone fell in the exhaust, but fortunately the driver was not wounded.  There were 2 Israeli soldiers, female soldier and officer but they did not do anything.  Even when we tried to defend ourselves by throwing stones back at the settler, the female soldiers did not allow us and immediately expelled us from the land.”

 

Recommendations to the International Community

 

PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.

In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest 51-day offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:

  1. PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
  2. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
  3. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
  4. PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
  5. PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligations to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed;
  6. PCHR calls upon States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
  7. PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
  8. PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals accountable in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
  9. PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
  10. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the UN, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
  11. PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
  12. PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians

Syrian War Report – March 30, 2017: Syrian Army Regaining Ground In Northern Hama

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the 5th Legion, and the Tiger Forces successfully counter-attacked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Izzah, and Abnaa al-Sham in northern Hama, recapturing the Samsam hill, the nearby points north of Qumhana, and the al-Sheha hill south of Arzah. If government forces are able to retake Khattab from HTS-led forces, this will mean that they retake the initiative in the area.

Pro-government sources reported that the militants had suffered major casualties in the recent clashes but didn’t provide numbers. Meanwhile, about 20 Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed by HTS-led forces in the area of Majdal.

On March 29th, the SAA’s Tiger Forces entered the important town of Deir Hafer in the province of Aleppo. ISIS terrorists withdrew from Deir Hafer earlier this month, but the Syrian army and the National Defense Forces were not able to enter the town because of a high number of IEDs in the area.

Since then, government forces have been waiting for engineer units (most likely Russian) which will be able to demine the town.

The SAA and its local allies also continued developing an advance southeast of Deir Hafer, aiming for the ISIS-held Jirah Military Airbase.

As soon as the military airbase is back under SAA control, government forces will likely advance further in the Maskaneh Plain east of the Jabbul Lake. The important ISIS-held town of Masakah will be the target of this advance.

In the province of Homs, government forces advanced against ISIS in the countryside of Palmyra. Government troops recaptured the Antar Mount and the Afghans hill from ISIS.

If the SAA continues its advance in the direction of the Uqayrabat crossroad, this will mean that government forces are going to advance along the road heading to Palmyra.

Another option is to shift the direction of the anti-ISIS advance to Arak. However, large-scale operations in the area are unlikely due to the complicated situation in northern Hama.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) further tightened the siege over the ISIS-controlled town of Tabqa after capturing the nearby areas, including the Tabqa-Raqqah road and de-facto encircled the town.

The operation in Tabqa and at the Tabqa dam will take some additional time for the SDF and its US backers, but the Kurdish leadership already has a view toward the fate of Raqqah when the city is liberated from ISIS.

According to a statement by co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Saleh Muslim, the Kurds are going to add Arab-dominated regions, which have been seized by Kurdish forces, to their self-proclaimed autonomous region in northern Syria.

 

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Militants and civilians evacuated from last militant-held district in Homs

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The Western roots of “Middle-Eastern” terrorism

The Western roots of “Middle-Eastern” terrorism

 

Did you ever wonder why, prior to the birth of Al Qaeda, the terrorist outfit that grew from the U.S. arming of mujahideen against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s – and prior to that, in a less conspicuous way, from the US-backed training and arming of so-called « Muslim freedom fighters » in Yugoslavia in the early nineties – you had barely ever heard of « islamic terrorism »? Why the responsibility for alleged « centuries of jihad » nobody had witnessed was abruptly slapped onto the Koran (hence all the Muslims wordlwide), and why all of a sudden, the « islamic threat » was all over the news? Amir Nour, an Algerian scholar and researcher, lays out his analysis of so-called « islamic » terrorism, a phenomenon that entirely belongs to modernity.

We add a link to a piece on the 18th century roots and the expansionism of Wahhabism, a specifically Saudi puritanical and radical sect the oil kingdom is peddling all over the world as the « only true Islam », but for the time being, here is Amir Nour’s politically incorrect take.

This article was first published on The Saker

Convinced that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and unjustifiable, member States of the United Nations were finally able to adopt, on September 8, 2006, a common approach within the framework of the “United Nations global counter-terrorism strategy ». But, ten years later, the “international community” has yet to agree on a consensus definition of the common enemy, which continues to grow and expand, thus inflicting devastation and untold misery, mainly to the States and the peoples of the Arab and Muslim world.

However, in a bitter irony, and in total defiance of established historical truths, these very victims and their majority religion -Islam- are accused by some of the crime of sponsoring transnational terrorism, hence jeopardizing international peace and security.

But who is really to be held liable for the birth and expansion of the phenomenon of violence in modern times, against the consequences of which a number of visionary thinkers like Malek Bennabi and Eric E. Hobsbawm had yet forewarned the world a century ago already?

The opinions exposed in this paper on this burning topic aren’t expressed by Muslim officials or thinkers. They are those of Westerners, at different levels of authority and moral and political responsibility, representing the obverse and the reverse of the terrorism medal, and pointing out the historical responsibility of some Western governments They are representative of a “politically incorrect” voice whose echo is barely audible in the middle of the media tumult skillfully orchestrated by the new “self-righteous”.

Terrorism, Islam and treason of the clerks

Recently, magistrate Vincent Sizaire, author of the book titled “L’Imposture sécuritaire”, explained [2] that the characterization of terrorism is more about political calculation than legal hermeneutics, since it is necessarily the result of a process of balance of power and political assessment, at the end of which the powers to be tend to apply it in a more or less discretionary manner to a particular criminal rather than another. Sizaire highlights how it is problematic, today, to use the same term to refer to activities undertaken by fanatical and obscurantist groups, and to actions of political opponents of authoritarian regimes.

Therefore, there can obviously be no question for the need to put forward a new definition of this concept, one less equivocal. Indeed, it should be pointed out that, to date, no one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman identify 109 different definitions[3]. The United Nations still can’t find an agreed upon definition among its member States since December 17, 1996, date of adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 51/210, by which it was decided to create a special Committee to develop a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It’s so controversial a debate that, according to Oliver Libaw, even in the United States -where the “Global War on Terror” was launched in 2001- “it turns out that no one is all that sure just what ‘terrorism’ is”[4].

Thus, the future still looks bright for the famous and often-cited claim that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”[5]. Never mind! For one school of thought in the West, terrorism, barbarity and intolerance are consubstantial to Islam as a religion. Consequently, in the face of the “crazy Muslim zealots” who “see progress as an evil, tolerance as a weakness and pacifism as a sin”, and “call for murder and destruction”, resistance and relentless struggle are to be opposed within a “long Fourth World War”[6], akin to those waged by the “Free World” against fascism and nazism during the First and Second World Wars, and against communism during the third world war, presumably completed with the end of the cold war in 1989.

Nothing seems to shake the certainties of the proponents of this “dominant thought” often described as neoconservative, mainly conveyed by Western and Israeli think tanks, and relayed by their powerful mainstream media. And it would be pointless to remind them, for instance, that in the absence of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism-a result of the lack of a consensus definition that should be distinguished from the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination and which should include “State terrorism”- Arab and Muslim States have developed their own legal instruments within their regional groups; that in the 1990s, a country like Algeria fought alone against terrorism -before a suspicious international silence- that cost her more than 200,000 deaths and economic losses estimated at more than $ 30 billion; that 95% of lives lost to “terrorist barbarity” are to be found among Muslims[7]; that the highest official authorities of Islam have condemned without appeal both the ideology and actions of terrorist groups; and that the overwhelming majority of Muslim populations reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as confirmed by statistics provided by Western survey institutes and agencies themselves.

In his time, Julien Benda denounced the “betrayal of the clerks”. More recently, Pascal Boniface pin the “intellectual counterfeiters” who bear a heavy responsibility in “the place occupied by lies in the public debate”. He targets in particular those who tend to equate Islam and terrorism by referring to “fascislamism” and contribute to nurture a neoconservative approach that thrives in the West since the 9/11 attacks.

We have already addressed this issue of Islam as a mobilizing and unifying scarecrow in the West[8]. We have reported “a dangerous semantic shift that we constantly observe since the fall of the Berlin Wall: from ‘counter-terrorism’ actions, we jumped to war against ‘Islamic terrorism’, and then to the fight against ‘Islamic extremism’ “. And we have, inevitably, raised the following question: “Are we soon going to abandon superfluous adjectives and hypocritical euphemisms to openly claim the war against Islam itself ?”. Since then, time and events seem to have proved us right…

Responsibility of the West regarding transnational terrorism

Some people believe that radical Islamism and jihadism are not an exclusive “creation” of the West. To think otherwise, they argue, would be to overestimate the Western influence in areas where many other local and international factors have contributed to their development over a long period of time. That is certainly right, and so is the fact that certain misguided policies pursued by Western powers, particularly by Anglo-Saxon countries, have greatly contributed to the emergence and expansion of these phenomena, especially since the iconic events of 9/11 and their disastrous ‘by-products’: the Afghan and Iraqi military expeditions.

Britain’s role

This view is shared by Mark Curtis, who documented in a book[9] the collusion of the United Kingdom with Islamism since the last century. Based on reliable documentation and government archives, he dissects an aspect of British foreign policy, which has remained curiously ignored or deliberately obscured by the mainstream media. This collusion, he says, has “a long history which has contributed not only to the rise of radical Islam itself, but also to that of international terrorism, which the new strategy of national security of the UK Government has designated as the biggest threat to the country”, and that the highest ranking officer of the British army has identified as “the fight of our generation, maybe our Thirty Years’ War”.

Curtis says that the share of responsibility of London in the emergence of the terrorist threat goes well beyond the impact its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had on a few individuals. The most important fact in this story is, according to him, that the successive labour and conservative governments have, for decades, connived with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organizations. They have, sometimes, trained and financed them in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives, with a view to desperately preserving what was left of British power and influence internationally, mainly in areas considered as sensitive but where it was no longer possible to impose their will and interests unilaterally or by relying on other local allies.

The role of the United States of America

In his book[10] published in 2005, Robert Dreyfuss meticulously documents the American role in this “Devil’s Game”. Drawing on archival research and interviews with policymakers and officials of the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, he analyzes the consequences of “sixty years of misguided efforts” on the part of the United States in order to dominate the economically and strategically vital Middle East region. Dreyfuss argues that America’s historic alliance with the Islamic right is greatly to blame for the emergence of Islamist terrorism. He concludes by stating that “far from promoting democracy and security”, this policy, which continues to this day, “ensures a future of blunders and blowback”.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of the late U.S. President J.F. Kennedy, also considered the long history of the violent interventions of his country in the region. He explains in a long article[11] in “Politico” magazine why we should look beyond convenient explanations of religion and ideology and examine instead the more complex rationales of history and oil “and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores”. He also describes how “over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors that have literally made a killing from these conflicts”.

Moreover, a Foreign Policy Journal article[12] tells us that the White House had made the decision to support the armed radical Jihadists in Syria (that would later emerge as ISIL and Jabhat Al-Nusra) despite the warnings of the intelligence agencies, which provided for the advent of the Islamic State. This amazing information was confirmed by former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Michael Flynn –after he resigned from his post in April 2014, much to everyone’s surprise- who was previously the Director of information for the Center of command of special operations and, in that capacity, had the main mission to hunt down Usama Bin Laden and dismantle Al-Qaeda.

It is worth noting that this piece of information and other related revelations have been reported in a documentary film[13] broadcast by ARTE-TV channel, which explains “how, from Bush to Obama, America has left prosper the blind terror that Daesh took over”. In this film, former members of the intelligence community, representatives of U.S. forces in Iraq, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and terrorism experts trace, with supporting evidence and archives, the thirteen years of “the lost war on terror”.

Last but not least, during the 2016 presidential campaign, the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, said[14] that he meant exactly what he had declared previously in Florida, when he called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS”. And when the conservative radio show host, Hugh Hewitt, tried to clarify Trump’s position by saying he understood him to mean “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace”, D. Trump objected, declaring “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton”.

France’s role

In his latest book[15], French philosopher Michel Onfray states that “terrorist Islam” was partially created by the bellicose West. Denouncing what he calls “contemporary colonial wars” conducted by some Western countries including France, he argues that Islamic regimes only started to threaten the West once, and only once the latter had indeed threatened them by brutal force.

For his part, Pierre Conesa, former senior official in the Ministry of defense, said[16] that his country “is paying a high price for a war that is not its own”. In this regard, he cites the example of the intervention in Libya where France has “done on its own account what Bush did in Iraq, which is destroying a regime and leaving behind chaos it has no ability to manage”.

In Syria, especially during the period when Laurent Fabius was the head of the Quai d’Orsay, this dubious interventionist policy resulted in total support to the rebels fighting against Al-Assad regime. Believing that the departure of the latter “is only a matter of weeks”, Fabius said in August 2012 “Bashar Al-Assad would not deserve to be on Earth”. And in December of the same year, reacting to Washington’s decision to place Jabhat Al-Nusra on its list of terrorist organizations, he declared: “All Arabs were fiercely against” the American position “because, on the ground, they (the elements of Al-Nusra) do a good job”[17].

In conclusion, we would like to invite the public to ponder the wisdom of a thinker who once said that in the past weapons were manufactured to wage wars, but today wars are manufactured to sell weapons.

Yet unfortunately, it has to be recognized that the rhetoric on the “clash of civilizations”, constantly and tirelessly repeated by some since the end of the cold war and the subsequent disappearance of the “indispensable enemy”, seems to have achieved the objective assigned to it, chiefly by those who benefit from and pull the strings of the perpetuation of conflicts all over the world. This rhetoric has thus produced a dangerous “clash of fundamentalisms’, which is updating the notions of “revenge of God”, “Crusades” and “Jihad”, and adding new ones such as “islamofascism”. The consequence of this dramatic turn of events is illustrated, on the sought and obtained ground of confrontation, by a “clash of barbarities”.

In today’s increasing international turmoil, nobody should be blind to the fact that the biggest danger associated with this change is that since the end of the second world war, the world has entered the age of the “supreme weapon” –the atomic bomb- and other weapons of mass destruction, and that extremists on all sides are promising and fervently promoting a “Cosmic War” for “the triumph of Good over Evil”. For some of them, it is a religious war, the ultimate war prior to the Apocalypse or the end of the world, whose theatre of operations one party sets in “Armageddon” and the other in “Dabiq”, both places situated in the Levant, comprising Syria which is being today put to fire and sword…

Isn’t it insane to believe that our civilized world is unable to find a path other than the one leading toward Mutually Agreed Destruction?

Amir Nour

* * *

1. Algerian researcher in international relations, author of the book “L’Orient et l’Occident à l’heure d’un nouveau Sykes-Picot” (East and West in time of a new Sykes-Picot”, Alem El Afkar, 2014.

2. In Le MONDE Diplomatique, “Une notion piégée: quand parler de terrorisme ?” (A Tricky notion: When to talk about terrorism?), August 2016.

3. A. Schmid & A. Jongman, “Political Terrorism“, 1988.

4. O. Libaw, “How Do You Define Terrorism ?“, ABC News Network, October 11, 2015.

5. C. Friedersdorf, “Is One Man’s Terrorist Another Man’s Freedom Fighter ?”, The Atlantic, May 16, 2012.

6. Norman Podhoretz, “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”, Doubleday, 2007.

7. 2015 Global Terrorism Index report shows that terrorist attacks are concentrated in just five countries with a Muslim majority: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, totalling 78% of all deaths and 57% of all attacks; the West is remarkably safe from terrorism as 2.6% ‘only’ of terrorist deaths occurred there since the beginning of the 21st century (excluding the 3,000 deaths from September 11, 2001, this proportion falls to 0.5%).

8. In our book “L’Orient et l’Occident…”, op. cit.

9. M. Curtis, “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion With Radical Islam“, Serpent’s Tail, 2010.

10. R. Dreyfuss, “Devil’s Game: How The United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam“, Metropolitan Books, 2005.

11. http://www.politico.eu/article/why-the-arabs-dont-want-us-in-syria-mideast-conflict-oil-intervention/

12.B. Hoff, “Rise of Islamic State Was a Willful Decision“, 7 August 2015.

13. Titled “Du 11 septembre au Califat: l’histoire secrète de Daesh” (From 9/11 to the Caliphate: The Secret History of ISIS), August 30, 2016.

14. Tal Kopan, “Donald Trump: I meant that Obama founded ISIS, literally”, CNN, August 12, 2016.

15. M. Onfray, “Penser l’Islam” (Thinking Islam), éditions Bernard Grasset, Paris, 2016.

16. See: “Les attentats sont la suite logique des bombardements” (Attacks are the logical result of the bombings”, Le Temps, July 16, 2016.

17. See B. Collombat and J. Monin’s investigation: “Daesh: Autopsie d’un monstre” (ISIS: Autopsy of a Monster), November 20, 2015.

Wishful thinking: israel’s UN rep Danny Danon ‘We’ll eliminate BDS completely’

Israeli UN rep: ‘We’ll eliminate BDS completely’

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Wednesday that Israel would “keep fighting” until it “eliminates BDS completely.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Wednesday that Israel would “keep fighting” until it “eliminates BDS completely.”

“There is a new approach [to fight BDS] and it is being heard in the halls of the UN Indeed,” Danon told 2,000 attendees at a pro-Israel UN event.

“We have seen a lot of legislation since the first conference; 17 states have enacted anti-BDS legislation and we are seeing more groups fighting back against BDS,” he added.

Danon’s remarks echoed stronger remarks about the issue by the US Ambassador to the international boyd Niki Haley.

Haley said at the same event: “The effort to delegitimise the state of Israel being waged on college campuses and the anti-Israel obsession at the UN are one in the same. They both seek to deny Israel’s right to exist.”

She continued: “They are both efforts to intimidate US friends and embolden her enemies. They are both extensions of an ancient hatred.”.

The ambassador added: “And how tragic is it that of all countries in the world to condemn for human rights violations, these voices choose to single out Israel.

“We should boycott North Korea. We should sanction Iran. We should divest from Syria. Not Israel. It makes absolutely no sense. And it has no connection to any reasonable definition of justice. You can let the BDS know that the United States has Israel’s back.”

 

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