Gaza Despair, israel’s Culpability, Unfit to Print in The Jew York Times (NYT)

Gaza Despair, Israeli Culpability, Unfit to Print in The NY Times

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | May 23, 2016


By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | May 23, 2016

Gaza made the front page of The New York Times recently, with an article highlighting the fears of residents who suspect Hamas of building tunnels under and near their homes. The topic was ready-made for the newspaper, fitting perfectly into the Israeli (and Times) spin on the besieged enclave.

According to the accepted narrative, the problems in Gaza are due to Hamas, and Israel is free from blame. Thus we find the tunnel story played prominently on the front page under the headline “As Hamas Tunnels Back Into Israel, Palestinians Are Afraid, Too.”

There is much cause for despair in Gaza—fishermen and farmers come under attack, drinking water is ever more scarce, patients are desperate for adequate medical care—but the Times has failed to highlight any of these issues, which are so clearly due to Israeli actions and policies.

The official Israeli line is that Hamas oppresses the residents under its control, and Israeli political leaders use this charge to help justify their airstrikes on Hamas sites and other actions, such as restrictions on the delivery of building materials to Gaza. The Times has been a willing partner in this effort.

So it is no surprise when the newspaper informs us that Hamas has rebuilt many of the tunnels it used during the assaults on Gaza in the summer of 2014, and this is causing anxiety for some Gaza residents who live near signs of underground construction work. They fear that Israel will bomb their neighborhoods to destroy the tunnels.

The story is just what the Israeli army press office ordered, and the Times willingly promotes this propaganda effort even as it shows little interest in even more urgent concerns that plague the residents of the strip. It had nothing to say, for instance, when Israel arrested 20 Gaza fishermen over less than a week this month and confiscated seven of their boats (here and here) even though they were fishing within the approved limit set by Israel.

Israeli harassment of the beleaguered fishermen has been a constant over the years: According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Israeli forces detained 71 fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats in 2015, firing on fishing boats at least 139 times, wounding 24 fishermen and damaging 16 boats. The attacks have continued without letup this year.

The Times, however, has almost totally ignored the subject. The paper took notice briefly last month, when Israel announced new rules allowing Gaza boats to sail farther out to sea, and the story most certainly made the grade because it was a chance to show Israel in a benevolent light. The Times has been silent on the issue ever since.

Farmers with land near the border fence also face frequent attacks by Israeli soldiers who fire live ammunition at workers tending their fields, and Israel has destroyed crops and farm buildings, spraying fields of spinach and peas with herbicides and leveling land with bulldozers.

The Times has failed to report these incursions as well, although the United Nations documents them in weekly reports, and other news sources routinely tell of the assaults.

According to the UN, as of May 16, the Israeli military had made 30 incursions into Gaza this year. Its forces entered the enclave at least 56 times during 2015. These mini invasions—which include tanks, bulldozers and live fire—are breaches of the truce agreement made to end hostilities in 2014, but the Times has not seen fit to report them.

Instead, the newspaper prefers to raise the alarm about possible attacks from Gaza via the tunnels, ignoring the relevant context: the frequent shootings and other assaults by Israeli forces and the nine-year blockade, which finds not a single mention in the tunnel article.

Israel blocks the entry of needed medical supplies into Gaza, denies doctors the right to upgrade their skills in foreign countries and prevents many patients from leaving the enclave to receive the treatment they need. It has destroyed electrical equipment, wells and water treatment plants, and the lack of potable water has reached such a critical stage that only some 5 percent of the water in Gaza is safe to drink.

The Times, however, has shown no interest in exploring these crucial issues. It follows a prescribed narrative in deflecting blame from Israel and demonizing Hamas. The tunnel story fit this bill and thus merited a prime placement on page 1 above the fold.


Hamas does not call for war, but won’t tolerate israel’s incursions into Gaza

Hamas does not call for war, but won’t tolerate Israeli incursions into Gaza 

GAZA (Ma’an) — Deputy head of Hamas’ politburo Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday that while the movement is not calling for a new war in the Gaza Strip, it will not tolerate incursions by Israel or accept a buffer zone.

Haniyeh said during Friday prayers at the Abu Salim mosque in the central Gaza Strip district of Deir al-Balah that Israel’s recent incursions into the border areas in search of tunnels are responsible for the latest escalation of violence in the besieged coastal enclave.
“We do not call for a new war, but we will not allow these incursions or for new realities to be imposed on our people in Gaza. We call for lifting the siege. Enough of this historical injustice suffered by 2 million of our people.”
Israeli military incursions inside the besieged Gaza Strip and near the “buffer zone” have long been a near-daily occurrence, marked by Israeli bulldozers leveling lands inside Gaza territory while accompanied by Israeli military vehicles. Haniyeh said incursions inside Gaza territory are a grave violation of the Egypt-sponsored ceasefire reached in the summer of 2014.
Haniyah highlighted that the efforts underway by Egypt, Qatar, UN envoy Nikolay Mladenov, and Turkey to curb the aggression in the Gaza Strip.
“I hope that statements by the PA (Palestinian Authority) regarding limiting relations with the (Israeli) occupation are implemented on the ground, and that security coordination with occupation must be stopped,” Haniyeh added.
The PA has repeatedly threatened to put an end to the security coordination with Israel over the years. However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his commitment to security coordination with Israel in an interview in March, arguing that it was a major factor in curbing Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) military wing also released a statement Friday regarding the recent Israeli hostilities, saying it “will not stand idly by while Israel continues its crimes against Palestinian people.”“We affirm that this escalation by the (Israeli) occupation in Gaza is an attempt to test the patience of resistance. […] They have two choices: either to die or leave our lands.”
Israeli airstrikes continued Friday morning for third consecutive day, in response to alleged mortar rounds being fired by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups on Israeli army targets.
Israeli shelling east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip reportedly killed a Palestinian woman on Wednesday.
The Israeli army accused Palestinian resistance groups of launching mortar attacks in an attempt to disrupt the army’s “operational activity” in search for Hamas-built tunnels leading into Israel.
Israeli outlet Haaretz quoted Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon as saying: “We will not be deterred by these threats by Hamas and will continue operations in light of the violation of our sovereignty, until we find and expose every last tunnel.”
One such tunnel was allegedly discovered Thursday, the second of its kind to be uncovered since Israel’s devastating 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel for decade. The blockade was imposed following the victory of Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections and the subsequent 2007 clashes between Fatah and Hamas, which left Hamas in control of the Gaze Strip and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.

Time for the civilised world to step in and save Gaza from israel’s illegal “Collective punishment”

Collective punishment of Gaza

Arab Digest Summary: Gaza still shattered following the last war in 2014. Pledges of aid not honoured. Another war? A cry for help from behind the blockade.

The situation in Gaza remains dire. The population is 1.8 million living in an area of 141 square miles (365 square kilometres), 25 miles long and 3.5 to 7.5 miles deep, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. According to a World Bank fact sheet (apparently dated from just after the war in 2014) unemployment is 45%; economic activity is almost entirely dependent on aid and remittances, and a dynamic private sector is impeded by restrictions imposed by Israel. War damage is put at roughly $3 billion, with severe consequences for water, sanitation, energy, housing, health, education and food.

According to a World Bank report of 18 April the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza after Hamas seized power in 2007, “continues to weigh on the economy” and Egypt’s closure of its border crossing with Gaza, the main gateway for people moving in and out of the territory, has “further exacerbated the situation.”

Only 40% of aid pledged after the war has been disbursed. “20 months after the war, only 9 percent of totally damaged houses and 45 percent of partially damaged houses have been repaired. Over 14,800 families continue to be displaced. For these people in Gaza, there is no escape.”

Arab donors have proved particularly bad payers: Qatar pledged $1 billion and has delivered 15%, Saudi Arabia pledged $500 million and has delivered 10%, the UAE pledged $200 million and has delivered 15%, Kuwait pledged $200 million and has delivered nothing (but Palestinian sources reported on 18 April that the Palestinian authority had received funding from Kuwait to build three hundred homes in Gaza, and 12,000 other Gazans whose homes were damaged in the war would receive cash compensation). The USA, the EU, individual European nations and Turkey have delivered all or most of their pledges.

The Palestinian Authority is losing about $285 million each year due from taxes collected by Israel on their behalf under various agreements dating from the nineteen nineties, and Israel is also holding about $669 million, mostly pension contributions collected from Palestinians working in Israel and their employers.

A UN report of 11 April describes the “fraught conditions” of life in Gaza and concludes that without a lifting of the blockade and progress towards Palestinian reconciliation “coping capacities of exhausted and vulnerable households risk being depleted altogether.” According to another report of 4 April Israel has suspended cement deliveries following allegations that cement had been diverted “from its intended legitimate beneficiaries”.

The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports that the Palestinian authority is considering holding a Cabinet meeting in Gaza. Earlier this month senior delegations from Fatah and Hamas met in Gaza “in the most high-ranking gathering to convene since a new round of reconciliation talks began in Qatar earlier this year.”

The newly issued annual report by the US State Department on “Human Rights Practices for 2015” includes a long section on the occupied territories; Gaza is included, concentrating almost exclusively on abuse by Hamas including disappearances and torture. According to the executive summary “The most significant human rights abuses were restrictions on civil liberties, particularly by Hamas in Gaza; excessive use of force by Israeli Security Forces (ISF) in a number of their interactions with Palestinian civilians, and arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse, often with impunity by multiple actors in the region… The IDF and the Egyptian government maintained severe restrictions on movement into and out of the Gaza Strip and largely limited the travel of Palestinians out of Gaza to humanitarian cases and some business travelers.”

The IDF announced on 18 April the discovery of a tunnel from Gaza into Israel, the first found since the 2014 war, 100 feet underground and several hundreds of yards long. According to Reuters Israel has, with US help, stepped up work on technologies for spotting the secret passages. Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was investing considerable capital in countering tunnels and would respond strongly to any attempt to attack it.

Hamas reportedly said

What the enemy has discovered is only a drop in the sea from what the resistance has prepared to defend its people, to liberate the holy places, its prisoners and land.

The IDF said the tunnel was new, but Hamas said it was old. The Times of Israel comments that “the public mood veers between ‘we need a war’ to ‘we must avoid war at all cost’ (depending on whom you ask) in the pressure cooker known as the Gaza Strip.”

Not all is gloom; two separate Reuters reports yesterday 19 April cover a graffiti artist  who uses Arabic calligraphic design which “adds a certain beauty” and a semi-professional circus school which trains in a garage and performs in schools, hospitals and the streets.

The article below is published on the Consortium News website, “the first investigative news magazine on the Internet”. It is an emotional appeal for help addressed to President Obama by a journalist resident in Gaza.

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Gaza city in 2015. Photo by Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

 Obama’s Failed ‘Hope’ in Gaza

Eight years ago, President Obama offered “hope” for change in the world, but politics and pressures won out, with his failure nowhere more obvious than in Gaza, as Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer explains in this open letter.

By Mohammed Omer, Consortium News 
April 17, 2016

To President Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

As president of the most powerful country on the planet; the loving and protective father of two children; and a man fully aware of the human struggles of so many in the down-trodden communities of many lands, including your own, your eyes must have been opened during the last three — of many — Israeli assaults on besieged Gaza, where I live with my wife and young son.

I recall being in the Netherlands when you were first elected president. Like so many millions around the world, I cheered loudly for you, believing that a fresh wind was blowing through the narrow halls of U.S. politics. I dared to hope that a brave man — a champion of good people who were neglected and abused — had arrived to stand up and ease the pain and injustice inflicted on so many, including my people in Palestine, long tormented and driven from their ancient land, deprived of their human dignity.

Children play on the ruins of demolished homes in Shejayeh, an area which was heavily hit by Israeli cannon shells and F-16 missiles during Israel’s 51-day war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, when more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed and around 100,000 became homeless. Photo by M. Omer

Sadly, however, I perhaps dared to believe too much. As I look around Gaza today and see only the aftermath of more Israeli cruelty and evidence of ever more bloodshed, pain, sadness and destruction, the words “Yes, we can” now drift away with the dust, carried by the winds of despair.

This despair has hung over our heads for at least the past 10 years, the result of Israel’s harsh collective punishment of the 1.9 million human beings who struggle to survive in Gaza. Half of them are children younger than your Sasha and Malia; many are babies, like mine, held in their parents’ arms.

Perhaps, being so far removed from it, you cannot empathize with the effects of collective punishment. Having studied law and worked closely in community projects, however, you surely have an intellectual and historical understanding. I think you know that Israel’s intentions extend beyond removing Hamas — or any other group that would resist an occupier’s expansion and invasion of their homes and leaders.

The U.S. Constitution does not call for the punishment of an entire population simply for voting for the “wrong party.” It and the Bill of Rights guarantee Americans the freedom to express themselves freely and the right to struggle and defend their inalienable rights. The American Revolution was an act of rebellion against oppression and the denial of “self-evident” rights and freedoms.

In Gaza, we are struggling against similar oppression. Israel increasingly confines and punishes us for our struggle, as we use whatever meager means we have to attain the same freedom and human dignity your forbearers fought for.

“Do Americans like us? Does Obama like us?”

What is the bond that binds U.S. politics and power to Israel’s ongoing cruel oppression? How can the U.S. justify its unconditional patronage of Israel escalating infliction of pain upon innocent others? What satisfaction and reward does Israel gain for punishing every aspect of human life for nearly two million good Palestinian people in Gaza, who just want their freedom again?

Three recent wars have whipped, beaten and left homeless many families who are still waiting for short- and long-term protection from cruelty. I met with Ahmed Al Kafarneh, an elderly man of dignity, living with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Before the 51-day war in 2014, he, like 100,000 other Palestinians, had built a beautiful home after 20 years of working in Israel — no easy task indeed. Now everything is gone, and he lives with his extended family in a rusty metal shipping container.

Mr. President, it is a cold and wet winter here — the coldest in years. Try to imagine yourself, Michelle, Sasha and Malia sitting on cold metal floors with rain dripping in from more holes in the container roof than you can count.

Are you not the same president who, when proclaiming Israel’s right to defend itself, vowed that you would do everything to protect your children? Does that same determination to protect not apply to our Palestinian children?

It seems you have forgotten our right — not only as Palestinians, but as human beings — to exist in freedom and safety from oppression and disproportionately heavy attacks from the Israeli military. In Gaza, our youngest generation knows only war, displacement, loss, trauma and pain. It faces even more obstacles in the path of “Yes we can” in the form of massive unemployment, repression and isolation caused by Israel’s U.S.-sanctioned economic blockade, denying an entire people free movement and a normal life of choices.

Does that not sound like slavery, Mr. President?

We are locked behind walls, contained like cattle, spied on by armed drones, with Israeli-army snipers patrolling barbed-wire fences, and placed on a “diet” meted out by occupiers and thieves. Is that not extremism? Would you not resist it?

A few days ago, I met with 13 brave and dedicated U.S. doctors who came here to assist the local hospitals — a rare occasion when American doctors get to meet face to face with our own courageous doctors and Hippocratic Oath colleagues. A 24-year-old Palestinian fine arts student paused when she heard of the delegation and asked, “Do Americans like us? Does Obama like us?”

This is why I am writing this open letter to you, Mr. President.

Human beings, of all generations, live here in Gaza, waiting for your replies to these questions. “Change we can believe in,” Mr.President — but it must include our freedom of choice.

Gaza is the size of Manhattan Island. We are human beings like you and your fellow Americans — but we are trapped behind walls and fences we have never lived behind before and don’t want to wake up to tomorrow. Our southern borders are now fenced off by Egypt, locking down Rafah crossing. To the west, our beaches — frequented by children, families and fishermen — are threatened by Israeli naval vessels armed with missiles and water cannons. They confine our fishing boats to 6 nautical miles offshore instead of the designated 20 nautical miles.

Are you aware that 73 Palestinian fishermen were fired upon and arrested in 2015? Or that 55 percent of Gazans suffer from clinical depression, that 43 percent are unemployed, 40 percent fall below the poverty line, and 60 percent are food insecure? Do you know how few hours of electricity we are allowed in 24 hours, with no power for 12 to 16 hours?

The same shortage applies to water, cooking gas and many other basic essentials. As you are served your meal this evening, remember we have half a million gas cylinders waiting to be filled before we can cook or boil water for washing and drinking (a human right).

This is all the more tragic because Gaza could be the perfect neighbor for Israel, living in peace and harmony and sharing mutually beneficial economic and trade relationships. We have many skilled workers and a well-educated young generation. Palestine has always been progressive. The only thing we need is a chance to grow, develop and contribute with dignity and equality.

We want to build bridges of understanding, instead of separation walls of bigotry and hatred. We don’t want Israel experimenting with its new hi-tech weapons on the children of Gaza. Your American-made missiles have been used to attack U.N. schools and shelters — the very schools which offer quality education and steer our children away from extremism. This is usually something to be applauded, not targeted.

You have not seen Khuza’a and the massive destruction that Israel’s war machine left behind. Its children’s feet are cold this frigid winter because water continues to drip from their shell-pocked ceilings onto their beds. You are welcome to visit us at any time, should you choose to place humanitarian considerations over political ones.

It is time for you, Mr. President, to provide the children and youth of Gaza with hope they can believe in. You can do it before you leave office, and all your promises, behind. You can reignite the enthusiasm we felt when you stepped up to address the world, and strengthen your legacy for promoting peace after you leave the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, you are among the very few people on earth who could influence Israel and Egypt to open borders and end the collective blockade. Is not a decade enough? Especially when we know that the ones who suffer from the siege are ordinary people, not political groups such as Hamas. If the aim is for people to look beyond Hamas, they must be given options for the future.

The children and parents of Gaza are waiting for a solution, and you can revitalize the positive energy that came with you and your speeches early in your presidency. Make all people proud — including Americans — of your long-lasting achievements.

Stand up for Gaza, as you always do for Israel, regardless of how badly they treat their fellow man (including yourself). We don’t want or need extremism in any form. We want stability, peace and to live in our homes without drones and tanks threatening us day and night. The young people of Gaza are seeking a better future.

Can we do this? Yes, we can! Step up Mr. President—please.


Arab days of shame (MUST READ!)

March 07, 2016

by Ghassan Kadi – Via The Saker

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has finally had it its way. A meeting held last month of GCC and other Arab Foreign Ministers has condemned Iran for the attack on the Saudi Embassy incident, and the Lebanese Foreign Minister Basil; from the 8th of March Coalition pro-Hezbollah camp, abstained from voting. As a result, Lebanon was punished by Saudi Arabia as the latter decided to renege on the $4bn aid promise to the Lebanese Army and Internal Security.

And then just a few weeks later, the Arab Interior Ministers convened in Tunis and declared Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terror organization (1&2). Lebanon’s Interior Minister Mashnouk, a 14th of March Hariri man, also abstained from voting.

The debauched Saudi royals, the same lazy criminals who die from obesity and self-inflicted diabetes whilst they are starving and bombing Yemen, the same people who poured billions upon billions of dollars to kill Syrians in an attempt to create an Islamic state in lieu of its secular government, that scourge of a family that rules with an iron fist wreaking havoc and creating wars between Arabs and Muslims and never once fired a single bullet at Israel, they actually had the audacity to call the shots and had Hezbollah declared as a terrorist organization. Strange days indeed.

What is of significance here is the almost utter silence about this development in Western media. Try to Google this milestone event using any key words, and you will not find any references in the well-established highly-read mainstream Western news agencies. Interesting indeed.

What is even more interesting here as an observer is that quite often Western media go abuzz with what they believe is taking the Arab World by storm, but in reality, no one in the Arab World would be talking about it or least concerned.

The issues of Saudi military land intervention in Syria and their alleged ownership of nuclear weapons for example, are hardly ever discussed in the Levant and the whole Middle East. They are seen as some kind of bad-taste jokes. Such topics seem to only make news headlines in the West.

Back to the Tunis decision. The Arab states that did not vote in favour of the motion are Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria and Iraq. I wonder if the readers are missing something here….Palestine, as represented by Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA), has in fact voted for declaring Hezbollah as a terror organization.

Whilst Hamas is not acknowledged as a representative of the Palestinian people, Ismail Haniyye, who is entirely in Qatar’s pocket, would probably also vote in favour had he been asked to vote. Mahmoud Zahhar, a prominent Hamas leader, has however condemned the decision. This is not surprising given that Zahar went against his rank when Hamas leaders went cahoots with Qatar against Syria. Zahhar had always been the voice of reason in Hamas. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the PFLP General Command have also condemned the decision, but Mahmoud Abbas is quite silent. He is probably feeling too sheepish to make any comments. Even if his heart is with Hezbollah, he cannot go against the Saudi dictates.

The Palestinian position is not taking keen observers by surprise. After all, earlier on, Hezbollah pioneered the tunnel technology and passed on the information to Hamas leaders in order to help with their fight against the Israelis in Gaza. When the “War On Syria” started and Hamas decided to align itself with Qatar against Syria and her people, Hamas passed on this technology to the terrorists. All the tunnels around greater Damascus, and especially in the Jobar region, were built by technology and information that was passed on to the terrorists by Hamas. So for Hamas a would-be vote against Hezbollah is not impossible to imagine.

Hezbollah is receiving quite a bit of support from progressive Arab parties, especially, and whilst its officials made quite a few verbal responses to the Saudis, it seems that Hezbollah is not trying to escalate the situation with the PA. In an Arabic article published on Al-Manar of the 3rd of March 2016 (3) and titled: “The Palestinian Authority And The “Terrorist”

Decision Against Hezbollah), the author (Islam Al-Rawashda) opens his article by saying that it is not surprising to see the Saudis go after Hezbollah. In his next paragraph however, he is questioning how did the PA allow itself to join the “gang” and endorsed the decision against Hezbollah. Isn’t Hezbollah engaged in fighting Israel? Did it not liberate Arab land from occupation? Does is not support Palestine? These are the kind of questions he asked. But the official Hezbollah spokespeople seem to unwilling to engage in making anti-PA statements. Clearly, they don’t want to give their adversaries more ammunition and do not want to be seen standing against Palestinians; not even their corrupt pro-Saudi authority.

The schism inside the Arab World is reaching unprecedented levels. The pro-Western camp represented by Saudi Arabia and its followers has stooped to levels previously seen as unimaginable.

Even as Saudi Arabia is down on its knees financially, bogged down in a war it cannot win in Yemen and losing all control over the “War On Syria”, it still has a few billions stashed here and there to draw from and use to continue to buy friends.

And whilst it continues to spend billions on its terror campaigns and on destabilizing the region, whilst it is supporting all the fundamentalist Madrasas all over the globe, it withheld its promised gift to the Lebanese Army under the pretext that the Lebanese Government and Lebanese Army have become tools in the hand of Hezbollah and Iran.

As the Arab Saudi camp is becoming more audacious, audacious enough for the PA to vote against Hezbollah; the only army that disturbs Israel’s security, the only Arab organization that has taken back land from Israel militarily, the only Arab army that has actually threatened the depth of Israel, then no one should expect any good from other Arab pro-Saudi states that are distant geographically from Palestine. If the Palestinians themselves do not know who their enemies and friends are in standing up against Israel, why should the Moroccans?

And if the Palestinian people did not like what their government has done, why did they not take to the streets in protest? There are some reports of minor dissent, but nothing serious.

There is one word to describe the Palestinian reaction, and the word is “disgusting”, but in this literary context, I shall stick to the word “appalling”.

If we wind the clock back a bit, just a few years earlier, we can clearly remember how both the PA and Hamas have sided against the Syrian government. Here we ought to remember that had it not been for the Syrian government and its support to the different Palestinian organizations in the 1970’s onwards, they would have vanished.

After all, the official Hamas HQ was actually in Damascus for many years, and it was in Syria where Khaled Mashaal operated until he moved to the Five Star Hotels of Qatar and Istanbul.

Palestinians have a great cause, but for a major part, their leaders have been nothing but rascals, ungrateful rascals. And how can we forget what happened to Lebanon?

It was because virtually half of the Lebanese have supported the Palestinian cause that the already existing political/religious division in Lebanon expanded and took the country to Civil War in 1975. The Palestinians played a huge part in pouring oil over fire, and their only objectives were what they could get out of it, and did not give a damn about the destruction that was inflicted upon Lebanon as a result.

And the whole breakdown between Arafat and Assad father in 1976 onwards was based on Arafat’s insistence on the so-called “Palestinian Decision”. Assad tried in vain to convince him that the Arab-Israeli conflict is much bigger than what the Palestinians can handle. He tried to convince him that this matter is as important for Syria as it is for Palestine.

He reminded him that Palestine is the southern region of Syria, but to no avail. Arafat wanted to be the master of his decisions even if this screwed up the entire Arab World around him.

Half a century or so later, Palestinian leaders are not so much as dogmatic and indoctrinated as Arafat was. They are simply up for sale. The PA leaders have grown to love Saudi and other oil money, and Hamas leaders are up for sale and rent by any Sunni Muslim money. There is no difference between the two.

But as the Arab Saudi camp continues to stoop lower and lower, the resistance camp is growing more organized, more powerful, more successful and closer to victory.

Which day in history has marked the biggest day of shame for the Arabs? Arguably, it has always been said that Arab states reached their lowest point in history on June the 5th 1967 during the Six-Days War. The 3rd of March 2016 decree of the Arab interior ministers in Tunis is by far a much lower point, and one wonders if they are poised to stoop even lower. Shame on them.


2. \




Egypt collaborating with israel in trying to starve Gaza into submission

Israeli minister embarrassed after revealing security co-operation with Egypt

Close security ties usually kept quiet to spare Arab regime criticism from its people

An Israeli minister has broken one of the Middle East’s key unwritten rules by publicly praising his country’s close security co-operation with Egypt, most of whose citizens fiercely resent its ties to the “Zionist state”.

Yuval Steinitz, the energy minister, revealed on Saturday that Egypt’s decision to flood the underground supply tunnels run by Hamas from the Egyptian Sinai into Gaza had been to a “certain extent at Israel’s request”. Security co-operation with Egypt was “better than ever”, he added.

A Palestinian smuggles a sheep into the Gaza Strip through a tunnel Gaza’s network of tunnels is used to transport anything from donkeys to RPG’s  Photo: AFP/Getty

His words were met with an immediate outcry from commentators and former ambassadors. “He said something that shouldn’t be said in so many words,” Eli Shaked, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt, told The Daily Telegraph.

Mr Steinitz was forced to retract his comments and apologise for the “unintended impression” his words had given, though by then the damage was done.

His comments followed news reports that Egypt flooded ten of Hamas’s tunnels near the border last Friday, the latest in a long series of moves against the group, with which Cairo has had fluctuating relations.

Israel says it has unearthed 'longest-ever' Gaza  'terror' tunnel This 65 foot deep tunnel was designed to smuggle Palestinian militants into Israel  Photo: AP

Since the coup led by current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013, the Egyptian authorities have turned on it, cracking down on its supply lines and increasing security co-operation along the Israeli border to unprecedented levels.

This is no secret to the outside world, but it is a potential source of instability inside Egypt, where the Arab world’s hatred of Israel is widely shared.

“The security coordination between the two countries is one of the most sensitive issues there is for the security establishment,” the Israeli commentator Yossi Melman wrote in the Ma’ariv daily, adding that the comments reflected “the serious disease of uncontrollable talking” by Israeli officials.

Last week, a screening of an Israeli film in Cairo was cancelled by the Egyptian culture ministry in order to “prevent normalisation,” while this week, an Egyptian parliamentarian is demanding an investigation into how a book penned by an Israeli author on modern Arab society was allowed to feature in an international book fair in Cairo, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

Mr Shaked said: “The relationship between Israel and Egypt is going very well. It may be words like these that can embarrass the Egyptian regime and el-Sisi in the eyes of the rest of the Arab world, and the Egyptian public opinion. It can put him under pressure.”

Gaza: Egypt Poisons the Water, Israel Does the Massacres


Tortilla Con Sal

It seems as though almost the whole world is determined to turn its back on the Palestinians and behave as though the piecemeal, slow-motion destruction of Palestine is not just inevitable, but in fact of no importance. This is particularly obvious in Gaza. In complete violation of the U.N. Charter, the world’s great powers look on complacently while both Egypt and Israel enforce the illegal blockade against Gaza’s people. Under President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, Egypt has used its very real fight against terrorism to justify its role in the blockade. But Egypt is now going far beyond merely sealing its frontier with Gaza by engaging in terrorism of its own – environmental terrorism – to attack the civilian population of Gaza by destroying the aquifer that provides much of Gaza with fresh water for drinking and irrigation.

After Israel’s military campaigns against the civilian population of Gaza it seemed impossible to imagine anything worse than that genocidal armed aggression. But President Al-Sisi’s government has taken up attacking Gaza’s water supply where even the Israeli government has refrained from acting. Egypt is implementing a plan to flood with contaminated seawater the few remaining tunnels that have been Gaza’s economic lifeline for a decade or more. By systematically flooding the frontier area in question, the Egyptian government will poison Gaza’s water supply by irreversibly salinating it. That same aquifer network provides water to Egypt’s own territory and population in the affected area, many of whom have been displaced to make way for the Egyptian government’s plan to flood Gaza’s tunnels.

This plan to destroy Gaza’s tunnels is far from new. Nizar al Wahidi, Director for Extension Projects of Palestine’s Ministry of Agriculture, told our contact, New Zealand writer Huda Julie Webb Pullman, currently in Gaza, that the plan had been proposed seven years ago under President Mubarak who was himself reviving an old Israeli plan to flood Gaza’s tunnels. Back then Palestinian officials suggested that if Egypt wanted to flood the tunnels they should at least do so with fresh water. President Mubarak’s government decided the plan was too expensive and abandoned it. Now President el-Sisi’s government is proceeding with plans to pump a million gallons of seawater a month into its frontier area with southern Gaza for a whole year. The sea water will be pumped from a marine area already contaminated with sewage, creating a grave potential public health risk on both sides of the frontier.

According to Nizar al Wahidi, no Environmental Impact Assessment has been done taking into account the geophysics, hydrology and soil structure. The aquifer is Gaza’s main fresh water resource. Egypt’s plan will render many thousands of hectares of agricultural land permanently unproductive, because the rate of salination will make it impossible to recover the land for agricultural use. Al Wahidi says that for Gaza the plan means the loss of 3,000 water wells in the first year after pumping begins. The water supply to Rafah city located on the frontier will be affected immediately. Right now, the Egyptian authorities have dug the moat that will channel the contaminated seawater to and along the frontier area and also laid the pipes that will inject the water into the tunnels, thus poisoning the aquifer. The last phase of the engineering work to begin implementing the plan is to complete the pumping installation and its intake pipeline from the sea.

The Palestinian authorities have already discovered sinkholes appearing as a result of test flooding by the Egyptian engineers. Mazen Samir al Banna of the Palestinian Water Authority told Webb Pullman he fears full scale pumping may begin within a couple of weeks. Just as the economic blockade of Gaza is illegal so are Egypt’s plans to deny fresh water to people in Gaza. Egypt is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversitywhich came into force on Dec. 29, 1993. That Convention itself is supplemented by other conventions that give more precision to the applicable principles in various relevant areas. In the case of international water management, the U.N. Watercourses Convention is the relevant U.N. instrument. Egypt has not signed that Convention, but the United Nations General Assembly adopted it as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses on May 21, 1997 and the Convention came into force in Aug. 2014. Earlier, in 2008, the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 63/124 on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers.

Even without being party to the U.N. Watercourses Convention, Egypt is obliged to follow basic norms of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Article 3 of the Convention states that parties have “the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction”. Article 5 of the Convention states that parties will “cooperate with other Contracting Parties, directly or, where appropriate, through competent international organizations, in respect of areas beyond national jurisdiction and on other matters of mutual interest, for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.” Article 14 of the Convention binds parties to minimize damage to neighboring States.

Egypt’s obligations under Articles 3 and 14 of the Convention on Biological Diversity are spelled out more precisely in the UN Watercourses Convention and the Law of Transboundary Aquifers, particularly the obligation not to cause transboundary impact. Article 27 of the Convention on Biological Diversity provides the procedure to be followed to resolve disputes. In this case Egypt is flagrantly violating its obligation to seek a negotiated settlement to Palestinian objections to its plan to destroy Gaza’s sources of fresh water. Egypt’s government has made clear it has every intention of maximizing the damage to Gaza’s aquifer in categorical violation of its obligation to avoid adverse impact on Palestine, which while still not quite a full State thanks to support for the colonialist arguments of the Israeli government from the United States and its allies, is an independent territory beyond Egypt’s own jurisdiction.

In an email interview this week, we were able to ask Mazen al Banna of Palestine’s Water Authority his view of the Egyptian plan to flood Gaza’s tunnels.

Tortilla con Sal: Is Egypt making any arguments to justify this environmental terrorism?

Mazen al Banna: I do not know the Egyptian argument for this project, but I know that this project will double the siege of Gaza and kill the both the humans and the environment in the southern area of Gaza and it will have indirect consequences on all sectors in Gaza Strip, the existing water crisis, the agricultural, the food security, the economy, the social and at the end the national security of Palestinians .

TcS: Surely such action is completely illegal? What are the relevant international laws? If Egypt’s action affects its own population, presumably they are violating their own laws too, is that true?

Mazen al Banna: In 2009, the U.N. Assembly issued a Resolution I think 63/124. If I am correct the Resolution talks about the law of transboundary groundwater aquifers, it talks about the principles and rules that should govern the relation between the countries that share the same aquifer, one of these is the obligation not to make a major harm even if the activities are done inside the sovereignty of any of these countries .

TcS: Do you think this action is being carried out in coordination with the Israeli authorities? What other political considerations would influence Egypt to take such extreme illegal action?

Mazen al Banna: In history, this project was going to be implemented by the Israeli Occupation in 2003, in the corridor of Philadelphia south of Gaza strip to prevent weapons smuggling as the occupation declared at that time. Then in 2009-2010, Mubarak, the preceding Egyptian President, started to construct the metallic wall and so on, but the Arab Spring caused him not to complete that project. Now the present Egyptian President el-Sisi is doing that, this project is done to double the siege on Gaza’s people.

TcS: If the remaining tunnels are flooded how soon would the population in Gaza begin to suffer the consequences? What would be the immediate effects? What would be the medium and long term effects on Gaza?

Mazen al Banna: The immediate consequences are the collapse of nearby buildings, roads, water and waste water infrastructure, waste water treatment plant in Rafah City in the vicinity of the borders, six municipal wells exist near the borders, they will be affected very soon, agricultural wells near the borders will be affected, so the agricultural sector will be affected and economic and social impacts will result. The medium and long term consequences will be the destruction of agricultural soil, the groundwater aquifer; the drinking water sector (the groundwater desalination plants in the area will not be able to produce desalinated drinking water, so the Palestinian citizen will be thirsty); the agricultural sector and the economical sector – no jobs, poverty increase, high levels of prices regarding agricultural products, we may need to import such products from outside; the social impacts, immigration to outside or to north of Gaza. This will result in putting pressures on the existing natural resources and other resources like lands, high levels of living, on water resources in north of Gaza etc.

The Palestinian authorities are calling on international governments and non-governmental human rights and environmental organizations as well as regional Arab and Islamic organizations to urge the Egyptian government and the Egyptian army to cancel this catastrophic project which will destroy the environment in both Gaza and Egypt as well as devastate both Palestinian and Egyptian lives. As usual, the governments of North America and Europe and their enormous media and human rights apparatus do little more than observe complacently while a foreign government, in this case Egypt, proceeds with the destruction of the Palestinian people’s land and lives.

For more information contact:

Nizar Al Wahidi – Telephone: +970 59 8936 625 / E-mail :

Mazen Al Banna – Telephone: +970 59 8858 662 / E-mail :


“Tortilla con Sal is an anti-imperialist collective based in Nicaragua producing information in various media on national, regional and international affairs. In Nicaragua, we work closely with grass roots community organizations and cooperatives. We strongly support the policies of sovereign national development and regional integration based on peace and solidarity promoted by the member countries of ALBA.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Jewish Terrorists

Jewish Terrorists  

Some of my best friends demand that I write an article condemning unconditionally the “administrative detention” of Jewish terrorists.

Three suspected terrorists have already been arrested under this procedure.

They are members of a group following the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (the leader is actually his grandson). Kahane was an American Rabbi who came to this country and founded a group branded by the Supreme Court as racist and antidemocratic. It was outlawed. He was later assassinated by an Arab in the US. An underground group of his followers is now active in Israel.

This is one of the groups which belong to a clandestine movement, generally called “Price Tag” or “Hilltop Youth”, that has conducted various acts of terrorism, setting fire to Christian churches and Muslim mosques, attacking Arab farmers and destroying their olive trees. None of the perpetrators has ever been apprehended, either by the army, which acts as a police force in the occupied territories, nor by the police in Israel proper. Many army officers are themselves residents of settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

The Israeli public has paid little attention to these outrages, but lately things have happened that shocked even complacent Israelis. One was the firebombing of an Arab dwelling in the small village of Douma in the West Bank. Under cover of darkness, a fire bomb was thrown into the home of a poor Arab family. An 18-month-old baby was burned to death, his father, mother and brother were seriously injured. The father later died in hospital.

Such acts of firebombing are quite usual, though until now the Arab families succeeded in saving themselves.

Another outrage was committed in Jerusalem – against Jews. An ultra-orthodox Jew attacked the annual gay pride march in the center of the city. He succeeded in stabbing several marchers, one of whom – a 16 year-old girl – later died of her wounds. The perpetrator had done exactly the same 10 years ago. He served a long prison term, was released a few weeks ago and did it again. He is an ultra-orthodox Jew, but seemingly has no connection with the Kahanist gang.

This was too much. For years, no one was ever indicted for acts of Jewish terrorism. Many believe that the acts were committed in collusion with the occupation army and the Shin Bet, the interior security service. Now, however, there is a public outcry, and the authorities have come to the conclusion that they must do something.

Hence, the administrative detention orders.

Administrative arrests are a legacy of the British colonial regime that ruled Palestine until May 1948. The Israeli state took it over, changing only some minor aspects.

This form of arrest allows a military commander to put a person in prison without trial. The warrant is in force for six months, but can be renewed without limit. Every few months the prisoner must be brought before a regular judge, but judges interfere only on rare occasions. Mentally, Israeli judges stand at attention when a military officer testifies.

The prisoners have no right to see the evidence against them and confront their accusers, nor are they allowed to be represented by attorney. The official reason is that they cannot be put on trial without “burning” informants and other sources of valuable information that are vital to effectively combat terrorism and save lives.

This instrument is used all the time against Arab suspects. At this moment, many hundreds of Arab administrative prisoners fill the prisons, some of them have been in custody for many years. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been incarcerated under this act. For young Palestinians, this is almost a badge of honor.

Hardly any Jew has ever been held in administrative detention. For many years now, this means has not been used against Jews at all. The three Kahanists who were sent to prison this week are the first for a very long time.

Military and civilian officials explain this kind of detention as an essential and irreplaceable means to combat Jewish terrorism. All the Kahanists and other fascist perpetrators are trained to be silent under interrogation. Since they are sure that they will not be tortured, they have no reason to talk. They laugh in the faces of their interrogators.

Arab prisoners, of course, enjoy no such privilege. They know that if they don’t talk, they may be tortured. Under Israeli law, torture is forbidden, but the court allows something called “moderate physical pressure”, which achieves quick results.

Yet even so, many Arabs languish under unlimited administrative detention, because there is not enough legally admissible evidence to indict them in court, without endangering “sources”.

At present, the three Jews held in administrative detention are held in three different prisons, with more to join them soon, the Shin Bet promises.

Many years ago, when I was the editor-in-chief of the Haolam Hazeh news magazine, we published for a time an Arab-language edition. One day, one of my Arab employees – let’s call him Ahmed – was put in administrative detention.

When I started to raise hell, I got a surprise call from the Shin Bet. The relations between this organization and me were strained from the first day of the state. This may be an understatement, since their chief once officially defined me as the “No. 1 enemy of the regime”.

To my utmost surprise, a high-ranking Shin Bet officer invited me for a talk. “I am going to trust you with top secret information,” he said, “because I want you to understand our problems.”

He then told me that his people had caught a messenger who was sent to Israel by one of the major terrorist organizations to contact local collaborators. One of these was our Ahmed.

“What do you want us to do? We cannot put him on trial, because we have no proof that he is member of the organization. But leaving him free could result in deadly terrorist acts. Administrative detention is the only safe option.”

I did not believe that Ahmed was a terrorist. I was still thinking what to do, when I was saved from the dilemma. The Shin Bet agreed to release Ahmed, on condition the he leave the country. He went to the US and obtained a Green Card (perhaps with the help of Shin Bet). At one of my lectures there I saw him sitting in the front row. We embraced.

I am telling this story for the first time in order to illustrate the dilemma. Letting these Jewish fascists roam freely could cost more Arab and Jewish lives, and perhaps a catastrophe, for example if they set fire to the holy Muslim shrines. There seems to be no solid evidence against them. If there are Shin Bet informers in this group, their testimony at a trial would “burn” them.

The Shin Bet and the police are accused by many of us of utter incompetence when confronted with Jewish terrorists, while being extremely efficient when confronted with Arab ones. Worse, we suspect the Shin Bet of being infiltrated by the settlers and of collaborating with them. Depriving the Shin Bet of the means of administrative detention may weaken them even more, or at least provide them with a pretext for total failure.

In my late childhood I witnessed the breakdown of the democratic “Weimar Republic” in Germany. The Nazi hoodlums were roaming the streets, beating up people who looked Jewish, exchanging fire with Communists. The government was ineffective. Police and army were infiltrated by Adolf Hitler’s party. Judges punished the communists severely, but often let the Nazi “patriots” off the hook.

Years later, when Germany lay in ashes, the Weimar Republic (so called, because its constitution was written in Weimar) was accused of cowardice, because it did not dare to use the instruments it had at its disposal – including non-democratic emergency powers – to fight the Nazis in time. Does the Israeli Republic want to risk the same fate?

It is a real dilemma. It demands real answers. Not the easy answers derived from the liberal handbook. Responsible answers. Answers which are relevant to the real world.

I believe that the Kahanists and the other fascist groups in today’s Israel are far more dangerous than most people believe. This is not a handful of wild weeds as we are led to believe. This is a national cancer that can spread quickly in our national body.

I have seen it before.

It is a difficult dilemma. For me, in any case.

Do we approve of administrative detention, detention without trial and democratic safeguards, perhaps saving thereby the lives of Arabs and Jews, perhaps preventing worse disasters?

Or do we uphold strict democratic principles, release all people held in administrative detention, Arabs and Jews alike, knowing that some of them will go on a killing spree?

After much soul-searching, I vote for the second option. Both for moral and pragmatic reasons.

Morally, I do not believe that one can fight the plague with cholera. Administrative detention is a fascist instrument, even when applied to fascists.

Practically, because it will not help. The detainees will be replaced by others, perhaps even worse ones.

There is also the danger that the arrest of a few will serve as an excuse for doing nothing against the many.

To fight this plague, we need better doctors. The Shin Bet, police and army must be cleansed of fascist sympathizers, officers loyal to the Israeli Republic must take their place. Jews and Arabs must receive the same treatment.

As the Bible commanded: “Let your camp be clean!”

Uri Avnery is a peace activist, journalist, writer, and former member of the Israeli Knesset. Read other articles by Uri, or visit Uri’s website.

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