Archive for July, 2011

Israel detains Islamic Jihad leader without charge or trial

Monday 16/05/2011

JENIN (Ma’an) — Israeli military authorities on Monday sentenced an Islamic Jihad leader to six months in prison without charge or trial, a detainees’ center said.

Sheikh Bassam Al-Sadi will be held at Ofer military prison near Ramallah under administrative detention, the center said.

Al-Sadi was detained immediately after Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo, the center noted, adding that he was detained only two months after finishing an 8-year sentence in Israeli prisons.

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has recorded thousands of cases of administrative detention in which Palestinians have been detained “for prolonged periods of time, without prosecuting them, without informing them of the charges against them, and without allowing them or their attorneys to study the evidence.”

Israeli military officials can hold detainees in administrative detention for up to six months, but the term is indefinitely renewable.

Detainees can spend years in Israeli prisons without ever knowing what they are accused of. Their lawyers are not told what the charges are, undermining their ability to defend their clients.

“In practice, Israel breaches international law, while misusing the powers given to military commanders in the Administrative Detention Order,” B’Tselem says.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.
Link: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=388301.

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Al-Nakba in Jordan – Shame has a new name

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

By Julie Webb for Scoop

Following Friday’s peaceful event, over a thousand people on Sunday commemorated Al-Nakba by traveling from Amman to the Square of the Unknown Soldier, outside the town of Karameh, in the Jordan valley, several kilometers from the border with Israel.

Al-Nakba, or ‘catastrophe’, is the term describing the mass deportation of a million Palestinians from their cities and villages in 1948, including massacres of civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages, to establish the State of
Israel.

Not much has changed in the intervening years – except, perhaps, for the identity of the persecutors.

Sunday’s event at the Square of the Unknown Soldier, some eight kilometers from the King Hussein Bridge border crossing, was attended by hundreds of women and children, as well as young Palestinians who have never set foot in their own country.

But on Sunday it was not Israeli forces shooting them, beating them, throwing rocks at them, and trying to drive them away, it was Jordanians.

Jordanian police, Jordanian security forces, Jordanian gendarme, Jordanian hired thugs viciously attacking unarmed and peaceful Palestinians gathering to mark this significant day, in this significant location.

Karameh, where in 1968 Jordanian forces successfully fought alongside the Palestine Liberation Organization to repel the invading Israeli army. Karameh, whose name means “Dignity.”

To what will surely be their eternal shame, Jordanian forces brutalized Palestinians for their dignified reminder to the world of their continued oppression by Israel.

The actions of the Jordanian security forces are incomprehensible – there was no attempt to cross the border – the crossing is some 8km away.

The accompanying photos show the Palestinian gathering, calm and peaceful, with young Palestinians joining hands in front of the police line to keep the families at a respectful distance. This video shows what I saw happening shortly afterwards, when three men walked down the road to leave, shortly after those photos were taken.

I had to hide the camera when we were surrounded by police and goons pursuing them, who ripped stakes out of the ground to use as weapons. Minutes later, more men armed with sticks and rocks attacked the crowd, aided and abetted by the uniformed thugs. This was but the first of several unprovoked, and completely unjustifiable, attacks with rocks, pieces of wood, teargas, and live fire over the next few hours on the unarmed Palestinians, the media, and a few foreigners there in support.

Scores were injured, with at least 19 requiring hospital treatment – one person shot in the stomach is now in a satisfactory condition.

The insult of Jordan’s unprovoked attacks on Palestinian dignity – and in the town of that name – and its apparent protecting of Israeli interests, will, like Al-Nakba itself, undoubtedly resonate throughout Jordan and beyond.

Shame, Jordan, SHAME.

Source: Scoop.
Link: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1105/S00153/al-nakba-in-jordan-shame-has-a-new-name.htm.

Iran helped Damascus suppress rebellion?

AHVAZ, Iran, May 16 (UPI) — Iranian military forces are training Syrian troops to help put down a wave of deadly demonstrations across the country, an Iranian opposition leader said.

Syrian troops are roaming the streets of the country to curb anti-government demonstrations that have raged throughout the country. Hundreds of people have been killed or injured in the protests.

Ammar al-Qurabi, the head of Syria’s National Organization of Human Rights, told Asharq al-Awsat during the weekend that Syrian authorities have turned the country into a “huge prison.”

Nasir Jabr, a spokesman for the opposition Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz in western Iran, told the pan-Arab daily newspaper that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps have been training Syrian forces since 2009.

“The Revolutionary Guards Corps currently provides the latest military training for the forces of (Syrian President) Bashar Assad and helps them with tactics to bring the protests in Syrian cities under control,” he was quoted as saying.

Some regional observers note the Syrian upheaval is reminiscent of the Iranian response to the political unrest that greeted the 2009 re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The opposition leader said Tehran was anxious to see the Syrian regime remain intact.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2011/05/16/Iran-helped-Damascus-suppress-rebellion/UPI-15221305556269/.

Italy upgrades Palestine’s diplomatic status

Monday 16/05/2011

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said Monday that Rome would upgrade Palestine’s representation to a full diplomatic mission.

During a visit to Bethlehem, Napolitano said the head of the mission would have the status of an ambassador.

At a joint press conference, President Mahmoud Abbas thanked his Italian counterpart for upgrading Palestinian diplomatic status and for Rome’s commitment to a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

France, Portugal, Norway, Greece, Spain and Ireland have all elevated Palestine’s diplomatic representation in their capitals.

Following his meeting with Napolitano, Abbas said that 63 years after Palestinians were forced from their homes in what is now Israel, there was still an opportunity for a historic solution.

But Palestinians could not return to negotiations while Israel continued to build illegal Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land, Abbas said.

The president said that Israel deepened the occupation by building settlements on land which would be a Palestinian state in a peace agreement.

The Palestinian leadership accepted the 2002 Road Map, which called on Israel to stop building settlements, and tried to move on after the Annapolis conference in 2007, reaching understandings with the previous Israeli government, Abbas said.

However, the current Israeli administration was “putting everything on hold,” he said.

Abbas said the Israeli government was launching a media campaign to discredit the recent reconciliation of Palestinian factions in Cairo. He noted that Israeli leaders had previously said that peace was impossible because of Palestinians’ division.

Israel must realize that “our people will not fade away,” even after decades of occupation, the president said.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.
Link: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=388321.

Hezbollah Chief Says Hariri Court Has Ties with Western Intelligence Agencies

2011-07-03

The leader of Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah on Saturday described as “unjust” accusations traded against four members of his party of involvement in the assassination on Lebanese Sunni former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, adding that a prominent CIA agent was part of the team of investigators looking into the 2005 killing.

In his first reaction to the indictment, Hassan Nasrallah said the accusations will not stir Sunni-Shiite tension or another civil war in Lebanon.

“I tell the Lebanese…there is nothing to worry about,” he said in a televised speech.

Nasrallah said it would be impossible to arrest the alleged suspects, “not in 30 days nor in 30 years.”

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing the Hariri assassination, submitted to the Lebanese authorities this week a sealed indictment. Judicial leaks said the indictment named four Hezbollah members, confirming earlier reports that the U.N.- backed court was bracing to point the finger at members of the powerful Lebanese group.

“This court is politicized and serves a specific purpose, which is to deal a blow to resistance movements against Israel,” said the Hezbollah secretary general, reiterating that the STL was an American-Israeli project.

“We are not concerned with this court or anything that comes out from it,” said Nasrallah, “We will not allow this court to drag Lebanon into civil strife.”

Nasrallah revealed that one of the advisers to STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare was a top CIA agent that was tasked with tracking Hezbollah’s slain top military commander Imad Mughniyeh.

Nasrallah also described investigators looking into the Hariri assassination and some of the STL staff as “biased and corrupted.”

Nasrallah also showed footage of Gerhard Lehmann, top investigator in the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) to inspect the Hariri assassination, receiving a sum of money for information on the investigation he divulged.

The black-turbaned cleric questioned the reason why the UNIIIC shipped 97 computers to The Hague from Israel rather than regular routes such as the Lebanese port and airport. He also showed a voucher issued from the Israeli Customs to that effect.

Source: CRIEnglish.
Link: http://english.cri.cn/6966/2011/07/03/2724s646004.htm.

Jordan King Approves Cabinet Reshuffle

2011-07-03

King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday approved a cabinet reshuffle led by Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, the state-run Petra news agency reported.

The reshuffle, the first since Bakhit took office in February this year, saw the entry of new eleven ministers, including ministers of interior, social development, state for media affairs and communications, health, culture, among others.

On Friday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets demanding the sacking of Bakhit and his government.

Early February, King Abdullah II named Marouf Bakhit as the new prime minister, succeeding Prime Minister Samir Rifai.

Bakhit was born on 1947. In 1999, he retired from the army as a major general. He also served as the head of National Security and acting director of the king’s office. He served as a prime minister from 2005 till 2007.

Source: CRIEnglish.
Link: http://english.cri.cn/6966/2011/07/03/2724s645999.htm.

Greece arrests Gaza-bound boat captain

Sunday, July 3, 2011

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities have arrested the captain of a boat that is part of a Gaza-bound flotilla trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, officials said.

The 60-year-old captain, John Klusmire, was being held at Piraeus police headquarters and will remain there until a court hearing Tuesday.

“The conditions of his detention are terrible,” vessel spokeswoman Jane Hirschmann told The Associated Press on Saturday. “There is no bed. He is sitting on a bench.” Police weren’t immediately available for comment.

Greece’s coast guard said Klusmire, captain of “The Audacity of Hope,” faces charges of trying to leave port without permission and of endangering the lives of the boat’s passengers. The latter charge is a felony.

The boat was carrying 36 passengers, four crew and about 10 members of the media. Its attempt to sail Friday night from the port of Perama, near Athens, was thwarted by coast guard speedboats. On the same day, Greece had announced it was banning vessels heading to Gaza from leaving Greek ports.

The “Audacity of Hope” has been moored at a Greek naval station. Its crew of four, two British and two American citizens, was forbidden to leave the boat. The British Embassy intervened and while they were then allowed to leave the boat, the crew and the passengers chose to stay on board, Hirschmann said.

“Where is the American embassy in all this?” she said, adding that U.S. authorities had not responded to passengers’ calls for assistance. The U.S. Embassy wasn’t immediately available for comment.

In Jerusalem, Israel has denied claims it sabotaged ships trying to breach its sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Activists have accused Israel of damaging two ships docked in Turkey and Greece that were part of a flotilla attempting to reach the Palestinian territory.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the sabotage charges as “ridiculous,” calling them “sad conspiracy theories.”

Selcuk Unal, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said authorities had determined that there was no act of sabotage on an Irish vessel in the flotilla that docked in the Turkish port of Gocek on the Aegean Sea.

Israel says it imposed the blockade in 2007 to stop weapons reaching the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza. Activists describe the blockade as a form of incarceration for the Palestinians.

Nine activists on a Turkish boat were killed last year in an Israeli raid on a similar flotilla.

In a statement, the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia — said it remained concerned about the difficult conditions facing Palestinians in Gaza, but noted “a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials” entering Gaza over the last year.

It urged those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza to do so through “established channels,” which include Israeli and Egyptian crossings.

The Quartet “urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation,” the statement said.

Christopher Torchia in Athens, Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

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