YEMEN’S NAVY CAPTURES FRENCH VESSEL LADEN WITH FOREIGN MERCENARIES

South Front

 Written by Ahmed Abdulkareem; Originally appeared on Mint Press

Yemen’s Navy, loyal to the Houthi government, captured a French naval vessel, the M/Y Jehol ll, off of the coast of Hodeidah on Saturday, according to statements made by senior military officials to MintPress News. The vessel, which was carrying foreign fighters, was engaged in a military landing operation near the port, according to Houthi officials, who gave no further details.

Mohammed al-Houthi, leader of the Houthi movement, tweeted:

“Thanks to the Yemeni Coast Guard in Hodeida, a French or American boat was seized.”

He confirmed in a later tweet that a French naval vessel named the M/Y Jehol ll was captured by Yemen’s Coast Guard near Hodeidah.

محمد علي الحوثي@Moh_Alhouthi

شكرا رجال خفر السواحل اليمنية بالحديدة
تم القبض على زورق فرنسي او أمريكي المهم اجنبي
بفضل الله

محمد علي الحوثي@Moh_Alhouthi

العملية التي قام بها خفر السواحل اليمنية بالحديدة
وتم القبض فيها على الزورق الاجنبي
بفضل الله
كان يحمل اسم (M/Y_jehol_ll)

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam accused France and Britain of being involved in the recent attack on Hodeidah. Abdulsalam told a local television station on Saturday that

“British and French warships are on standby on Yemen’s western coast to launch missile and aerial attacks.”

The French newspaper Le Figaro confirmed that France’s Special Forces are present on the ground in Yemen supporting the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign on Hodeidah. A French military source later confirmed to Reuters that French special forces are operating in Yemen.

On Friday, the French defense ministry said France was studying the possibility of carrying out a mine-sweeping operation to provide access to Hodeidah once Saudi Arabia and the UAE wrap up their military operations

A Houthi military source said in a statement to MintPress that Yemeni forces would target French, or any other foreign military vessel participating in the attack on Hodeidah, adding that

“Yemen’s forces can handle any challenge posed by invading forces.”

Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is visiting Sana’a to attempt to negotiate a Houthi transfer of the port of Hodeidah to the Saudi-UAE Coalition, a high-ranking government official told MintPress.

Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam noted,

“the UN envoy’s measures are only meant to cover up the continuation of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.”

Abdulsalam, who has served as the lead negotiator to Kuwait and Geneva over the past two years, stressed that if Griffiths follows his predecessor’s lead, he would fail to find a settlement to the conflict. UN envoys to Yemen have been criticized for having a heavily pro-Saudi bias. In 2017, then-UN Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, tried to convince the Houthis to cede control of Hodeidah, their only source of imported goods – including food — in exchange for paid salaries.

Despite warnings over the potentially devastating humanitarian consequences, the Saudi-led coalition is trying to capture the port city in what is shaping up to be the biggest battle of the now-three-year-old war, causing an acute shortage of vital supplies and putting millions of Yemenis at risk.

On Saturday, World Food Programme (WFP) director for Yemen, Stephen Anderson, called for a free food flow of goods through the port city, saying “the basic needs of Hodeidah’s civilians are not being satisfied.”

Approximately 500 households have been displaced from their homes in Hodeidahsince June 1, according to the UN, and at least 36 displaced families have lost their livelihoods as their farms were damaged in airstrikes by Saudi-led coalition earlier this month.

Top Photo | A Houthi fighter walks through the Red Sea port of Hodeidah on May 10, 2017. Abdul Jabbar Zeyad | Reuters

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

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IRGC Chief Says Yemen Close to Victory

June 19, 2018

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad-Ali Jaafari

Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said Tue. that the Saudi-led coalition war against Yemen is turning in favor of victory for the Yemenis.

Major General Mohammad Ali Jaafari made the remark on Tuesday, referring to the recent clashes in Hudaida, Yemen’s principal port on the Red Sea, between Yemeni forces and the “big coalition of Americans and Europeans formed with reactionary states in region.”

The UAE, as part of the Saudi-led coalition waging war on Yemen since 2015, launched the Hudaida assault on Wednesday, which culminated in clashes that, according to a Yemeni military source, left 50 Saudi-backed forces dead and destroyed 13 of their armored vehicles.

Yemeni forces also confiscated a French ship off Hudaida’s coast, according to Mohammad al-Bakhiti, a member of political bureau of Ansarullah movement.

Elsewhere, the IRGC commander censured the US for its lack of commitment to the nuclear deal, and leveled criticism at those inside Iran who were calling for negotiations between Iran and US president Trump.

He said the North Korean leader is a ‘communist’ revolutionary that would accept compromises in the face of US pressure, but Iran’s policy is based on an ‘Islamic’ revolutionary spirit that does not allow any room for compromises.

He further maintained that Iran has the capability to boost its missile range to more than 2,000km, but the measure is currently not on the country’s agenda, as the enemies’ strategic targets all fall within the 2,000km distance of Iran.

SourceMehr News Agency

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BATTLE FOR YEMEN’S AL-HUDAYDAH ON JUNE 19, 2018 (VIDEOS, MAPS, PHOTOS)

South Front

19.06.2018

Battle For Yemen’s al-Hudaydah On June 19, 2018 (Videos, Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size image

The Saudi-led coalition and its proxies have faced a new series of attacks by the Houthis on their logistical lines along the western Yemeni coast.

The main attacks took place in the areas of Durayhimi Taif, Jan al-Asfal and al-Fazzah. Pro-Houthi sources claimed that the entire logistical line of the coalition was interrupted. However, these areas were not captured. So, the coalition’s forces will soon be able to restore supplies to its group involved in the battle for al-Hudaydah.

Battle For Yemen’s al-Hudaydah On June 19, 2018 (Videos, Maps, Photos)

Click to see the full-size image

At the same time, the coalition’s forces continued clashing with the Houthis in the area of the al-Hudaydah airport and south of the port city itself. A few days ago, pro-coalition sources claimed that the al-Hudaydah airport was captured by the coalition. However, clashes in the area continued.

According to pro-Houthi sources, up to 30 vehicles of the coalition-led forces were destroyed and up to 200 fighters of the coalition-led forces were killed in the clashes during the past few days. These claims are partly confirmed by released videos and photos.

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israeli jets strike 9 targets in Gaza in response to ‘explosive kites & balloons’

Israeli jets bombard Gaza in response to ‘explosive kites & balloons’

israel air force palestine kites cartoon

Israeli Air Force jets have carried out a series of strikes on Gaza, reportedly destroying several Hamas military targets in retaliation to alleged arson attempts and “explosive kites and balloons” being launched at Israel.

 

Greenwashing the Nakba: The Real Story Behind israel’s “Blooming Desert”

Whitney Webb | MintNews
Though the official narrative of the state of Israel claims that it has turned the land it occupies from an empty desert into a lush, agricultural wonder, the actual fate of the land following Israel’s establishment in 1948 tells a very different story.

In this Monday, Sept. 7, 2009 file photo, an Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim on the outskirts of Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

It has often been said that Israel, since its establishment in 1948, has presided over the “miracle” of making the country’s “desert bloom.” That heavily promoted narrative — which asserts that the Palestinians have long lacked the capacity, knowledge or desire to properly develop agriculture in the region — has often been used as a legitimizing factor in Israel’s establishment. As former Israel Prime Minister Shimon Peres once said, “The country [Palestine] was mostly an empty desert, with only a few islands of Arab settlement; and Israel’s [cultivated] land today was indeed redeemed from swamp and wilderness.”

Were it not for Israel, the desert would have remained unproductive and fallow – or so the story goes.

There is, however, another side to this story, one that shows that the “blooming desert” of Israel is a convenient disguise for the degradation and destruction of Palestine’s natural resources, a means of obfuscating the worst of occupation by wrapping it in the cloak of Zionist mythology. While a central theme of Zionist mythology has long been the need for the Jewish Diaspora community to re-establish itself by returning to agricultural labor, the truth of Israel’s agricultural “success” involves the unsustainable use of occupied resources and the deliberate destruction of the land and water still used by Palestinians today.

Erasing a rich history
Though the official narrative of the state of Israel claims that it has turned the land it occupies from an empty desert into a lush, agricultural wonder, the actual fate of the land following Israel’s establishment in 1948 tells a very different story. Indeed, prior to 1948, the historical record demonstrates that Palestinian farms were very productive and that both Palestinian Arabs and Jewish settlers were successful farmers. For example, a UN report on agriculture in Palestine between 1945 and 1946 recorded that Palestinian-grown crops accounted for nearly 80 percent of Palestine’s total agricultural yield that season, with Palestinian farms producing over 244,000 tons of vegetables, 73,000 tons of fruit, 78,000 tons of olives, and 5 million liters of wine.

Two years later, when the majority of Palestinians were forced from their land during the “Nakba” that founded the state of Israel, the farms and orchards that had previously been tended by Palestinians were left abandoned, as their owners fled under the threat of death at the hands of Zionist militias.

As Israeli historian and journalist Meron Benvenisti detailed in his book Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948:
By April 1948 Jewish farmers had already begun harvesting the crops that had ripened in the abandoned fields and picking the citrus fruit in Arab groves. […] by mid-1949 two-thirds of all land sown with grain in Israel was abandoned Arab land.”
Thus, it was land theft that was largely responsible for Israel’s initial agricultural production, not the labor or agricultural expertise of Zionist settlers.

In addition, the claim that Israel turned an undeveloped desert into an agricultural wonder seems to be – in part – projection on the part of the Israeli state. Indeed, as Benvenisti noted, following the removal of Palestinians, the vast majority of centuries-old fruit orchards that had long been maintained by the native inhabitants of the land were untended, neglected and, in some cases, bulldozed to make room for ever-expanding settlements.

According to Benvenisti’s research, that neglect led to a situation in which “entire tracts of productive citrus trees, especially in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa area, were earmarked for the construction of housing developments,” as was the case for Palestine olive groves and pomegranate orchards that the land’s new occupants considered “an annoyance.” Part of the reason for the destruction of the land was that it would weaken Palestinian claims to return to the land, as keeping agricultural infrastructure intact “might have made possible the absorption of the returning refugees.”

Current Israeli government policy, particularly its support for the construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, is the continuation of this effort to erase Palestine’s history by targeting its agricultural heritage as well as its natural wonders. Indeed, Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted back in 2011 that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s steady push for Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory had been coupled with “his insistence on seeing nature and landscape as no more than an obstacle to the realization of his settlement vision.”

Covering a crime with water-sucking pines
Another project central to the “desert bloom” mythology is Israel’s “afforestation” of the desert, which has helped “turn the desert green” through the planting of non-native pine trees. These forests, largely planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), have been touted as a “miracle.” Yet, the pine stands, much like Israel’s treatment of Palestine’s agricultural legacy, have been motivated by a need to cover up the events that led to the creation of the Israeli state.

Indeed, more than two-thirds of all JNF forests and sites lie on top of the ruins of Palestinian villages demolished during and after the founding of Israel, and the group’s continuing afforestation efforts are aimed at acquiring land in the occupied West Bank to prevent “trespassing” and “conceal” Palestinian villages in order to prevent the return of Palestinian refugees.

Moreover, the effort to maintain a forest of non-native trees – regardless of whether its chief aim is to cover up the true history of Palestine or “green” a desert — has come at a great cost to the natural environment. As journalist Max Blumenthal has noted:
Most of the saplings the JNF plants at a site near Jerusalem simply do not survive, and require frequent replanting. Elsewhere, needles from the pine trees have killed native plant species and wreaked havoc on the ecosystem.”
They also become fodder for forest fires that have caused major damage and mass evacuations throughout Israel over the years.

Another ecological consequence of JNF forests is their likely effect on Israel’s horrendous drought, considered to be the worst the region has faced in over 900 years. As studies have shown in other countries where non-native pine plantations have been introduced in vast numbers, pines consume a significant amount of water – leading to droughts and even the disappearance of entire rivers – as well as fundamentally alter and degrade the soil. While these forests have been presented as an ecological miracle, they are instead destroying the environment and degrading the land’s resources, suggesting that the main driver behind the long-standing project is aimed at covering up the ruins of Palestine.

Continuing the attack on Palestinian agriculture
Today, the stark difference in agricultural development in the land tended by Israelis and Palestinians derives from policies that often receive little coverage in the media and are largely absent from the “desert bloom” narrative. Indeed, much of the coverage the issue has received paints Palestinian agricultural successes as either the work of foreigners offering aid or resulting from the “theft” of Israeli-settlement agricultural infrastructure.

Such reports fail to acknowledge the realities of the issue, such as the illegal blockade of Gaza that has crippled its economy and agricultural sector, as well as Israel’s destruction of agricultural infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank. Gazan agricultural infrastructure was ravaged by Israel in times of war and, in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers regularly demolish rain cisterns, pipelines and irrigation systems installed by Palestinians, citing as a reason that such structures lacked the “proper authorization” from Israel. Farmers themselves, mainly in Gaza, are often targeted directly by Israeli soldiers if they come too close to the border fence.

A Palestinian elderly woman collects olives from broken olive tree branches in the village of Qusra, northern West Bank, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. Palestinian farmers say Jewish settlers from the nearby settlement of Eli cut more than 70 olive trees overnight. Olives are the backbone of Palestinian agriculture. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

The Israeli government has also targeted Palestinian agriculture through chemical warfare. The use of white phosphorus as a weapon against Gaza, for example, has had major consequences for the area’s farmers. In addition to the chemical weapon’s often deadly effects on the human body, it has destructive effects on the environment and plants, as its incendiary nature often leads to the spontaneous ignition and burning of trees, forests and farmland. It also lingers in the environment for several years.

Beyond the use of chemical weapons, Israel has also directly targeted Gazan farmland with herbicide. In 2015, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) admitted to using herbicides and germination inhibitors to kill off vegetation along the Palestinian side of the border, damaging over 420 acres of land. A year later, tactic was repeated, this time destroying around 400 acres of farmland. The IDF has stated that it sprays the chemicals over the vaguely defined “no-go zone” it has established along the border “in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations.” However, the area accounts for a third of Gaza’s arable land and 17 percent of the entire territory.

Furthermore, the herbicides, like white phosphorus, have consequences for the environment long after they are sprayed. As Anwar Abu Assi, manager of the chemical laboratory at Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture, told Al Jazeera in 2016:
Herbicides are sprayed in high concentrations. Thus, they remain embedded in the soil, and then find their way to the water basin. This constitutes a real hazard for the population.”
The targeting of Palestinian agriculture in the present and its treatment by the Israeli and American press suggest another and nefarious way in which Israel’s “desert bloom” mythology has manifested. In order for Israel’s agricultural “superiority” to remain unchallenged, Palestinian agriculture must also be suppressed. Were Palestinian agriculture able to develop unimpeded and flourish, it would call into question the idea that the land was barren before the Zionists, threatening the latter’s legitimacy.

The cover-story for all conquerors and colonizers 
The myth of Israel “making the desert bloom” has its basis in neo-colonial narratives that have long been used in other settler states such as Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Australia. In the cases of the latter countries, the native inhabitants and their culture have also inaccurately been depicted as “primitive” and incompetent, a narrative that suggests that the land would have remained “wild” and undeveloped were it not for the “fortunate” appearance of European settlers. Such narratives cast the settlers as both superior and normal while the natives become inferior and abnormal, thus obfuscating the settler’s status as foreigner and conqueror.

Zionist mythology reinforces similar themes. For example, as in the United States Native Americans were considered as uncivilized and wild as the natural environment, Zionist mythology reinforces the idea that all Arabs are “sons of the desert” while the desert similarly represents a barbaric obstacle to “progress” and development.

Another historical analogue is the 19th century concept of “manifest destiny” — the idea that the expansion of the United States had been preordained by God himself, which led the U.S. to break many of its numerous treaties with indigenous tribes and even go to war with Mexico in order to acquire the land it coveted. The Israeli government similarly sees its expansion and control of all of Palestine as a matter of fulfilling prophecy and “redeeming” the Holy Land. This effort of redemption continues to feed Israel’s expansion. As Netanyahu has said, Israel is “obligated to develop all parts of the country – the Galilee and the Negev [the West Bank].”

Living the myth and the lie
Yet, no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary, Israel will never tell the real story behind the “miracle” of making “the desert bloom.” It will never tell the real story precisely because it can’t – to do so would mean demolishing the neo-colonial narrative at the center of the settler state, a narrative that is the pillar of its legitimacy.

Indeed, if Israel has not actually improved the land by making “the desert bloom” but instead degraded the land, the legitimacy of the state of Israel itself becomes questionable, as it suggests that its native inhabitants – the Palestinians – were better caretakers of the land than the current occupiers. For this reason, Israel must continue to propagate the myth regardless of the facts, and continue to deny Palestine’s rich cultural history and agricultural legacy.

With Israel now facing the consequences of its mistreatment of the land and its resources, the historical revisionism once used to sell the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian agricultural prowess has become ineffective. For that reason, Israel must now use other tactics — chemical warfare through toxic agrochemicals, the physical destruction of Palestinian agricultural infrastructure, and illegal blockades – in order to keep the artificial narrative alive, creating the illusion of primitivism and scarcity where none exists.


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The fallacy of israel’s human shields claims in Gaza

The Fallacy of Israel’s Human Shields Claims in Gaza

Desperately trying to justify the killing of unarmed protesters, Israel once again uses its ‘human shields’ mantra.

by &
Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, who was killed by an Israeli sniper, was featured in an Israel propaganda video claiming she was used as a 'human shield' by Hamas [Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa]
Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, who was killed by an Israeli sniper, was featured in an Israel propaganda video claiming she was used as a ‘human shield’ by Hamas [Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa]
It has become part of a macabre ritual. Each week, thousands of Palestinians stride towards the fence surrounding the small swath of land in which they have been imprisoned for years, as Israeli snipers pick their victims and shoot.

Since March 30, 132 Palestinians have been killed and over 13,000 have been injured as they have courageously protested the effects of Israel’s ongoing military siege on Gaza.

To some, the Palestinian march might look suicidal, but to Palestinians, it is the ultimate act of peaceful resistance. Malnutrition, lack of drinking water, daily electricity outages, massive unemployment, and extreme poverty are not abstract slogans for the civilians who have participated in these demonstrations.

So, week in and week out, they march towards the fence in the hope that the world will hear their anguish and that some country, some leader, or even some movement will support their cause and help them break the siege.

But each week, Israel is trying hard to push a different narrative. The Israeli military has been disseminating on social media images and videos of young children at protests. One short clip plays a lullaby interrupted by the sound of gunfire and rhetorically asks: “Where are the children of Gaza today?” After showing children amid the protesters, it then displays the word “here” in all caps across the screen.

Such videos are used as “the ultimate proof” that Palestinians are deploying children as human shields.

Israel’s “human shield” propaganda has also been applied on civilian adults. Following international outrage at the slaying of 21-year-old Razan Al-Najjar, who was killed while treating an injured protester, the Israeli army circulated an edited clip entitled “Hamas uses Paramedics as Human Shields”.

The video is based on an interview with Al Mayadeen TV in which Razan described her work as a medic: “My name is Razan Al-Najjar. I’m here on the front lines as a human shield to protect and save the wounded on the front lines.”

The Israeli army’s media unit conveniently edited the interview, omitting Razan’s claim that, for her, shielding the wounded is part of her responsibility as a medical worker. They also artfully ignored another clip posted on the New York Times website, where she describes the protests as an attempt “to send a message to the world: without weapons, we can do anything”.

Israel justifies its violent attacks by continuously accusing Hamas of using human shields, desperately hoping to stir moral indignation while also trying to muster a legal defence for the indefencible.

Morally, the charge intimates that the Palestinians are savages. Not unlike imagined barbaric pagans who offered their children to the gods, it suggests that the Palestinians of Gaza have no problem sending their sons and daughters to the front lines. The subtext is that civilised people protect their children while Palestinians sacrifice them.

Legally, a human shield is a civilian who is used in order to render a legitimate military target immune from attack. By accusing Hamas of deploying human shields, Israel hopes to shift the blame from the hunter to the prey, since, according to international law, the party responsible for the death of human shields is not the one killing them but the one using them.

This is precisely the message Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations conveyed in a letter he sent to the Security Council: “[the] terrorists continue to hide behind innocent children to ensure their own survival”.

With this statement, Danon not only shifts the blame but, in effect, also categorises anyone who participates in the March of Return as a military target. 

Exactly because human shields, by definition, defend legitimate military targets, the seemingly endless accusation that Palestinians use human shields to protect demonstrators reveals that for Israel all Palestinian protesters are fair game.

But despite Israel’s best efforts, the “human shield” argument is increasingly failing to convince. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of perpetrating war crimes in its efforts to suppress Palestinian demands for liberation.

Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution with overwhelming majority condemning Israel’s use of “indiscriminate force”, while UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for an investigation.

What is even more frightening, however, is that Gaza is not particularly unique.

From Venezuela, where priests defended anti-government activists from the lethal violence of riot police, to South Africa, where white students shielded black students as they rallied against unaffordable tuition fees, to the United States, where veterans tried to protect peaceful Native Americans who were being brutally attacked by security dogs, blasted with water cannons in subzero temperatures, and fired on with rubber bullets at Standing Rock Reservation, more and more people are either being framed as human shields or are actually serving as human shields.

In spite of the differences between these contexts, the figure of the human shield – whether used to justify colonial violence or to protect demonstrators – has become omnipresent in our contemporary political landscape.

This, in turn, suggests that protesters are increasingly conceived as lawful targets and that the repertoires of violence as well as the legal justifications used in war have entered the realm of civilian life and are being normalised

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