organization:defense ministry

  • Israeli cyber firm negotiated advanced attack capabilities sale with Saudis, Haaretz reveals

    Just months before crown prince launched a purge against his opponents, NSO offered Saudi intelligence officials a system to hack into cellular phones ■ NSO: We abide the law, our products are used to combat crime and terrorism

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-company-negotiated-to-sell-advanced-cybertech-to-the-saudi

    The Israeli company NSO Group Technologies offered Saudi Arabia a system that hacks cellphones, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began his purge of regime opponents, according to a complaint to the Israel Police now under investigation.
    But NSO, whose development headquarters is in Herzliya, says that it has acted according to the law and its products are used in the fight against crime and terror.
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    Either way, a Haaretz investigation based on testimony and photos, as well as travel and legal documents, reveals the Saudis’ behind-the-scenes attempts to buy Israeli technology.
    In June 2017, a diverse group gathered in a hotel room in Vienna, a city between East and West that for decades has been a center for espionage, defense-procurement contacts and unofficial diplomatic meetings.
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    Arriving at the hotel were Abdullah al-Malihi, a close associate of Prince Turki al-Faisal – a former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services – and another senior Saudi official, Nasser al-Qahtani, who presented himself as the deputy of the current intelligence chief. Their interlocutors were two Israeli businessmen, representatives of NSO, who presented to the Saudis highly advanced technology.

    >> Israel’s cyber-spy industry helps world dictators hunt dissidents and gays | Revealed
    In 2017, NSO was avidly promoting its new technology, its Pegasus 3 software, an espionage tool so sophisticated that it does not depend on the victim clicking on a link before the phone is breached.
    During the June 2017 meeting, NSO officials showed a PowerPoint presentation of the system’s capabilities. To demonstrate it, they asked Qahtani to go to a nearby mall, buy an iPhone and give them its number. During that meeting they showed how this was enough to hack into the new phone and record and photograph the participants in the meeting.
    The meeting in Vienna wasn’t the first one between the two sides. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently expressed pride in the tightening ties with Gulf states, with Israel’s strength its technology. The message is clear: Israel is willing to sell these countries security-related technologies, and they forge closer ties with Israel in the strategic battle against Iran.
    >> $6 billion of Iranian money: Why Israeli firm Black Cube really went after Obama’s team
    According to the complaint, the affair began with a phone call received by a man identified as a European businessman with connections in the Gulf states. On the line was W., an Israeli dealing in defense-related technologies and who operates through Cyprus-based companies. (Many defense-related companies do business in Cyprus because of its favorable tax laws.) W. asked his European interlocutor to help him do business in the Gulf.

    FILE Photo: Two of the founders of NSO, Shalev Julio and Omri Lavi.
    Among the European businessman’s acquaintances were the two senior Saudi officials, Malihi and Qahtani.
    On February 1, 2017, W. and the businessman met for the first time. The main topic was the marketing of cyberattack software. Unlike ordinary weapons systems, the price depends only on a customer’s eagerness to buy the system.
    The following month, the European businessman traveled to a weapons exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, where a friend introduced him to Malihi, the Saudi businessman.
    In April 2017, a meeting was arranged in Vienna between Malihi, Qahtani and representatives of Israeli companies. Two more meetings subsequently took place with officials of Israeli companies in which other Israelis were present. These meetings took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus, where Israeli cybercompanies often meet with foreign clients.
    >> Snowden: Israeli firm’s spyware was used to track Khashoggi
    The meetings were attended by W. and his son. They were apparently friendly: In photographs documenting one of them, W. and Qahtani are shown after a hunting trip, with the Saudi aiming a rifle at a dead animal.
    In the Vienna meeting of April 2017, the Saudis presented a list of 23 systems they sought to acquire. Their main interest was cybersystems. For a few dozens of millions of dollars, they would be able to hack into the phones of regime opponents in Saudi Arabia and around the world and collect classified information about them.
    According to the European businessman, the Saudis, already at the first meeting, passed along to the representatives of one of the companies details of a Twitter account of a person who had tweeted against the regime. They wanted to know who was behind the account, but the Israeli company refused to say.

    Offices of Israeli NSO Group company in Herzliya, Israel, Aug. 25, 2016Daniella Cheslow/AP
    In the June 2017 meeting, the Saudis expressed interest in NSO’s technology.
    According to the European businessman, in July 2017 another meeting was held between the parties, the first at W.’s home in Cyprus. W. proposed selling Pegasus 3 software to the Saudis for $208 million.
    Malihi subsequently contacted W. and invited him to Riyadh to present the software to members of the royal family. The department that oversees defense exports in Israel’s Defense Ministry and the ministry’s department for defense assistance, responsible for encouraging exports, refused to approve W.’s trip.
    Using the initials for the defense assistance department, W. reportedly said “screw the D.A.” and chartered a small plane, taking with him NSO’s founder, Shalev Hulio, to the meetings in the Gulf. According to the European businessman, the pair were there for three days, beginning on July 18, 2017.
    At these meetings, the European businessman said, an agreement was made to sell the Pegasus 3 to the Saudis for $55 million.
    According to the European businessman, the details of the deal became known to him only through his contacts in the defense assistance department. He said he had agreed orally with W. that his commission in the deal would be 5 percent – $2.75 million.
    But W. and his son stopped answering the European businessman’s phone calls. Later, the businessman told the police, he received an email from W.’s lawyer that contained a fake contract in which the company would agree to pay only his expenses and to consider whether to pay him a bonus if the deal went through.
    The European businessman, assisted by an Israeli lawyer, filed a complaint in April 2018. He was questioned by the police’s national fraud squad and was told that the affair had been transferred to another unit specializing in such matters. Since then he has been contacted by the income tax authorities, who are apparently checking whether there has been any unreported income from the deal.
    The European businessman’s claims seem to be substantiated by correspondence Haaretz has obtained between Cem Koksal, a Turkish businessman living in the UAE, and W.’s lawyers in Israel. The European businessman said in his complaint that Koksal was involved in mediating the deal.
    In a letter sent by Koksal’s lawyer in February of this year, he demanded his portion from W. In a response letter, sent in early March, W.’s attorney denied the existence of the deal. The deal had not been signed, the letter claimed, due to Koksal’s negligence, therefore he was due no commission or compensation of any kind.
    These issues have a wider context. From the claims by the European businessman and Koksal’s letter, it emerges that the deal was signed in the summer of 2017, a few months before Crown Prince Mohammed began his purge of regime opponents. During that purge, the Saudi regime arrested and tortured members of the royal family and Saudi businessmen accused of corruption. The Saudis also held Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri for a few days in a Riyadh hotel.
    In the following months the Saudis continued their hunt for regime opponents living abroad, which raised international attention only when the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul came to light in October.
    It has recently been claimed that NSO helped the Saudi regime surveil its opponents. According to an article in Forbes magazine and reports from the Canadian cyber-related think tank Citizen Lab, among the surveillance targets were the satirist Ghanem Almasrir and human rights activist Yahya Asiri, who live in London, and Omar Abdulaziz, who lives in exile in Canada.
    These three men were in contact with Khashoggi. Last month, Edward Snowden, who uncovered the classified surveillance program of the U.S. National Security Agency, claimed that Pegasus had been used by the Saudi authorities to surveil Khashoggi.
    “They are the worst of the worst,” Snowden said of NSO, whose people he accused of aiding and abetting human rights violations.
    NSO’s founders and chief executives are Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. The company is registered in Cyprus but its development headquarters is in Herzliya. In 2014 the company was sold to private equity firm Francisco Partners based on a valuation of $250 million.
    Francisco Partners did not respond to Haaretz’s request for comment.
    In May, Verint Systems offered to buy NSO for $1 billion, but the offer was rejected. The company is awash in cash. Earlier this month all its employees went on vacation in Phuket, Thailand. Netta Barzilai, Lior Suchard, the Ma Kashur Trio and the band Infected Mushroom were also flown there to entertain them.
    The Pegasus system developed by NSO was a “one-click system,” meaning that the victim had to press on a link sent to him through phishing. The new system no longer requires this. Only the number of the SIM card is needed to hack into the phone. It’s unknown how Pegasus does this.
    Technology sources believe that the technology either exploits breaches in the cellphone’s modem, the part that receives messages from the antenna, or security breaches in the apps installed on a phone. As soon as a phone is hacked, the speaker and camera can be used for recording conversations. Even encoded apps such as WhatsApp can be monitored.
    NSO’s operations are extremely profitable.
    The company, which conceals its client list, has been linked to countries that violate human rights. NSO says its products are used in the fight against crime and terror, but in certain countries the authorities identify anti-regime activists and journalists as terrorists and subject them to surveillance.
    In 2012, NSO sold an earlier version of Pegasus to Mexico to help it combat the drug cartel in that country. According to the company, all its contracts include a clause specifically permitting the use of its software only to “investigate and prevent crime or acts of terror.” But The New York Times reported in 2016 that the Mexican authorities also surveilled journalists and lawyers.
    Following that report, Mexican victims of the surveillance filed a lawsuit in Israel against NSO last September. This year, The New York Times reported that the software had been sold to the UAE, where it helped the authorities track leaders of neighboring countries as well as a London newspaper editor.
    In response to these reports, NSO said it “operated and operates solely in compliance with defense export laws and under the guidelines and close oversight of all elements of the defense establishment, including all matters relating to export policies and licenses.
    “The information presented by Haaretz about the company and its products and their use is wrong, based on partial rumors and gossip. The presentation distorts reality.
    “The company has an independent, external ethics committee such as no other company like it has. It includes experts in legal affairs and international relations. The committee examines every deal so that the use of the system will take place only according to permitted objectives of investigating and preventing terror and crime.
    “The company’s products assist law enforcement agencies in protecting people around the world from terror attacks, drug cartels, child kidnappers for ransom, pedophiles, and other criminals and terrorists.
    “In contrast to newspaper reports, the company does not sell its products or allow their use in many countries. Moreover, the company greatly limits the extent to which its customers use its products and is not involved in the operation of the systems by customers.”
    A statement on W.’s behalf said: “This is a false and completely baseless complaint, leverage for an act of extortion by the complainants, knowing that there is no basis for their claims and that if they would turn to the relevant courts they would be immediately rejected.”


  • Netanyahu likely to extend secrecy of some 1948 war documents 20 more years

    Defense establishment asked to lengthen classification period to 90 years, from 70, for material on Deir Yassin massacre, among other events

    Jonathan Lis and Ofer Aderet Oct 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-netanyahu-likely-to-extend-secrecy-of-some-1948-war-documents-20-m

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to sign regulations extending the period of confidentiality for information in the defense archives from 70 years to 90 years. The Defense Ministry and other organization requested the extension to prevent the release this year of some materials relating to the period of the War of Independence in 1948.
    The extension is intended to prevent the exposure of intelligence sources and methods that are still in use today by security forces. The archives also include information that was received from foreign sources under the condition that it would not be released, say defense officials. The draft regulations state that even after 70 years have passed, exposure of some of the archival materials could harm national security. In 2010, Netanyahu extended the period of confidentiality for security archives from 50 years to 70 years.
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    The legal adviser to the Israel State Archives, Naomi Aldubi, circulated a draft of the new regulations to the relevant government ministries Wednesday. The document states that the new regulations will apply to materials held by the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad and the archives of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear research centers and the Israel Institute for Biological Research. The new rules would also prevent the publication of raw intelligence from Military Intelligence as well as information concerning intelligence gathering for materials classified as secret and higher, along with materials concerning certain Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry units.
    The decision is expected to make life much more difficult for historians, other researchers and journalists and would also limit the public’s access to valuable historical information of public interest. For example, the new regulations would prevent the release of certain materials concerning the massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948.
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    In practice, the government will be able to prevent the release of any document related to the War of Independence that it wishes to keep secret. The new rules also contradict the recommendations of the supreme advisory council overseeing the Israel State Archives, which recommended extending the confidentiality of only some of the documents for five years.

    The Archives Law states that any person has the right to examine documents stored in the state archives, but also grants the government authority to restrict access according to the level of classification — for example, materials classified as “secret” — and according to the amount of time that has passed since the materials were created. This period ranges between 15 and 75 years, in accordance with the materials’ source and contents. For example, the classification period for the minutes of classified sessions of Knesset committees is limited to 20 years; for foreign policy documents the period is 25 years; for police archives, 30 years and for minutes of the security cabinet 50 years. Intelligence materials, including those of the Shin Bet, Mossad, Atomic Energy Commission and Biological Institute, remain classified for 70 years.
    Even after this period expires, the state archives and other archives, such as the IDF Archives, have not acted on their own initiative to release the materials. In practice, the end of the classification period alone is not sufficient for automatic declassification of the material. First, the chief archivist must examine the materials. After that, a special ministerial committee, headed by the justice minister, has the right to apply additional restrictions on access to them.
    The committee used its power to prohibit access to the so-called Riftin report on extrajudicial executions carried out by the Haganah pre-independence army. In 1998, half a century after the report was written, its confidentiality period expired, after which it should have been unsealed. In the 20 years that have passed since then, two state archivists requested, and received, extensions of the classification period from the ministerial committee.
    The draft proposal does stipulate that the relevant organizations must draw up new protocols that would enable the unsealing of classified materials after 50 years, on their own initiative. In addition, they would be instructed to conduct an annual review of their classified documents in order to determine whether they can be declassified.


  • With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel will have to think twice about the next strike
    The new missile system provided by Russia is not a total barrier to airstrikes, but Israeli jets’ freedom of action will be significantly curbed

    Amos Harel SendSend me email alerts
    Sep 25, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-with-russia-s-s-300-in-syria-israel-will-have-to-think-twice-about

    The two latest developments in Moscow – the Defense Ministry’s report that placed full responsibility for last week’s downing of a Russian plane over Syria on Israel, and the announcement of the transfer of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to the Assad regime – shouldn’t surprise anyone in Israel except maybe a few foolish supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu can’t make the problem disappear.
    Russia suffered an embarrassing blow when Assad’s anti-aircraft fire shot down the plane, and it still has widespread interests to promote in Syria. It was quite clear that the affair would lead to a Russian condemnation of Israel and to demands of Israel. The bottom line still depends on Putin, who initially sufficed with a cautiously worded statement the day after the incident. For the time being it seems the result of the Russian steps will be a significant restriction of Israel’s freedom of action over Syria.
    >> Netanyahu warned Putin: S-300 air defense system in irresponsible hands will endanger region
    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Monday that his country would supply Syria with S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Russia, he said, would also use electronic warfare systems to prevent the activation of satellite tracking systems along Syria’s coast, making it harder for Israel to conduct airstrikes. And Russia will equip Syrian anti-aircraft units with Russian tracking and guidance systems to prevent mishaps in which Syria downs Russian aircraft.

    S-300 Air Defense System infographicHaaretz


  • The missing reports on herbicides in Gaza
    Amira Hass Jul 09, 2018 1:05 AM | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-the-missing-reports-on-herbicides-in-gaza-1.6248503

    So we’re destroying Palestinian crops with our spraying? What’s new here, shrugs the average Israeli and clicks to another channel

    As I was working on my article about Israeli herbicide spraying in Gaza, I learned that 1948 refugees from the village of Salama are living in the village of Khuza’a. They are farmers, much as their parents and grandparents were. Back then, they grew citrus fruit, bananas and grains, and sold their crops in Jaffa as well as in Jewish communities.

    We tend to associate Palestinian refugees with the refugee camps. But sometimes you get to meet some who, even in exile from their village, have managed to maintain the same type of life and livelihood – that is, to work and live off the land in the West Bank and even Gaza. The Al-Najjar family in Khuza’a is one such family.

    Together with his father, Saleh al-Najjar, 53, works 60 dunams (about 15 acres) of land that they are leasing in Khuza’a. They employ three laborers, and Saleh says the five of them work 12 hours a day.

    By working the land they maintain continuity, despite being refugees and having lost the lands of Salama – where Israel built Kfar Shalem. Israel, meanwhile, maintains the continuity by damaging their sources of income and their health. When people say the Nakba never ended, the Najjar family can be cited as another example. One of the millions.

    Over the past four years, the Najjars – like hundreds of other farming families in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip – have learned to fear also small civilian aircraft.

    In spring and fall, and sometimes in winter too, for several days the planes appear in the mornings, flying above the separation fence. But the contrails they emit are borne westward with the wind, cross the border and reach the Gazan fields. From seeing their wilted crops, the farmers have understood that the planes are spraying herbicides.

    The fear of these crop dusters is even greater than of the Israeli armored vehicles that every so often trample all the vegetation west of the separation fence – because the herbicides reach further, seep into the soil and pollute the water. Crops up to 2,200 meters (7,220 feet) west of the border fence are affected by the spraying, says the Red Cross. The crops 100 to 900 meters away were totally destroyed. The irrigation pools located a kilometer away were contaminated.

    The Palestinian reports about Israeli crop spraying destroying Gaza agriculture were first heard in late 2014. A figment of the imagination? In late 2015, the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson confirmed to the 972 website that crop spraying was taking place. The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, an organization in Gaza, sent soil samples for laboratory testing. The army did not tell it what was being sprayed.

    Spraying of herbicides intended to destroy crops is not the sort of thing the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit or the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories is happy to talk about or volunteer information on. Nor is it the kind of report that concerns Israelis much, not on social media or as a common subject of conversation in Israeli homes.

    “So we’re destroying Palestinian crops with herbicide spraying – what else is new? We did the same thing to the Bedouin crops in the Negev (before the High Court of Justice outlawed it following a petition by Adala) and with the lands of Akraba in the 1970s. If our fine young men have decided to do it, it must be necessary,” shrugs the ordinary Israeli before clicking to the next channel. That is why I’m trying to return to the previous channel.

    The IDF’s Gaza Division decides; the Defense Ministry pays the civil aviation companies to do it. The seared spinach fields and the withered parsley plants prey on my mind. Also, I think about the children of these pilots: Do they know the wind carries the chemicals their daddy sprayed, and that another daddy can’t buy his kids shoes and other things because of the crops that were destroyed due to it?

    Asked to comment, the Defense Ministry says: “The spraying is carried out by properly authorized companies in accordance with the 1956 law regarding the protection of plants.” It’s true that the two civilian companies that fly crop dusters above the border fence – Chim-Nir and Telem Aviation – are recognized professionals in the field. The Defense Ministry also says: “The crop dusting is identical to that which is done throughout Israel.”

    Whoever wrote that sentence is either demeaning the intelligence of his Israeli readers, or confident that they will take his word for it and not be concerned. Both are correct.

    The Defense Ministry only revealed what the “identical” herbicides being used are in response to an inquiry from Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, based on the freedom of information law. The chemicals are glyphosate, oxyfluorfen and diuron.

    Despite the numerous findings about the environmental and health hazards posed by glyphosate, it is still in use in Israel. But the Defense Ministry spokesperson ignores the fact that even with all the debate about how harmful these substances are to the environment and to people’s health, their purpose is to help safeguard farmers’ livelihoods – not to destroy their crops, as we are doing in Gaza.

    The IDF and the Defense Ministry know these sprayed chemicals don’t recognize borders. The systematic damage to Palestinian crops through spraying is not an accident. It is deliberate. Another form of warfare against the health and welfare of Palestinians, and all under the worn-out blanket of security.

    #GAZA #herbicides

    • La guerre agricole ou comment Israël se sert de substances chimiques pour tuer les récoltes à Gaza
      Amira Hass | Publié le 6/7/2018 sur Haaretz | Traduction : Jean-Marie Flémal
      http://www.pourlapalestine.be/la-guerre-agricole-ou-comment-israel-se-sert-de-substances-chimiques

      Les photographies de véhicules blindés de l’armée déracinant et broyant arbres et végétation dans la bande de Gaza ne sont pas étrangères, aux yeux des Israéliens, mais ce qu’ils savent beaucoup moins, c’est que, depuis 2014, des champs palestiniens sont également détruits via l’usage d’herbicides déversés depuis les airs – comme cela a d’abord été publié sur le site internet 972. Officiellement, la pulvérisation ne se fait que du côté israélien de la clôture mais, comme en ont témoigné des fermiers palestiniens de l’autre côté, avec confirmation de la Croix-Rouge, les dégâts qui en résultent peuvent être perçus très loin dans le territoire palestinien même.

      « La pulvérisation par les airs n’est effectuée que sur le territoire de l’État d’Israël, le long de l’obstacle sécuritaire à la frontière de la bande de Gaza », a fait savoir le ministère de la Défense à Haaretz. « Elle est effectuée par des sociétés d’épandage munies d’une autorisation légale, en conformité avec les dispositions de la Loi sur la protection des plantes (5716-1956) et les réglementations qui en découlent, et elle est identique à la pulvérisation aérienne effectuée partout dans l’État d’Israël. »

      Le porte-parole des FDI 1 a déclaré : « L’épandage est réalisé à l’aide du matériel standard utilisé en Israël et dans d’autres pays ; cela provoque un dépérissement de la végétation existante et empêche les mauvaises herbes de pousser. L’épandage s’effectue près de la clôture et ne pénètre pas dans la bande de Gaza. »

      Toutefois, le matériel standard utilisé en Israël a pour but d’aider les fermiers à faire pousser leurs cultures de rapport. À Gaza, il les détruit.


  • After killing Razan al-Najjar, IDF assassinates her character Haaretz.com - Gideon Levy | Jun. 10, 2018 | 12:47 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-israeli-army-doesn-t-believe-in-its-own-cause-1.6158727

    A few short words – “Razan al-Najjar isn’t an angel of mercy” – sum up the depths of Israeli propaganda. Avichay Edraee, the Israeli army’s Arabic-language spokesman, who also speaks in my name, is a representative of an army of mercy that has also now appointed itself the judge of the measure of mercy in a medic treating Palestinian wounded on Gaza’s border with Israel, and who Israeli army soldiers mercilessly killed. After killing her, it was also necessary to assassinate her character.

    Propaganda is a tool that serves many countries. The less just their policies are, the more they expand their propaganda efforts. Sweden doesn’t need propaganda. North Korea does. In Israel, it’s called hasbara – public diplomacy – because why would it need propaganda? Recently its propaganda has sunk to such despicable lows that nothing can better prove that its justifications have run out, its excuses gone, that truth is the enemy and that all that’s left are lies and slander.

    It is directed mostly for domestic consumption. Around the world, few gaza people would buy it in any event. But as part of the desperate effort to persist in the psychological repression and denial, in the failure to tell ourselves the truth and the evasion of any responsibility – everything is acceptable when it comes to these efforts.

    A medic in a nursing uniform has been shot to death by Israeli army snipers – as have journalists with press vests and an amputee in a wheelchair. If we rely on Israeli army snipers to know what they are doing, counting on them to be the most accurate in the world, then these people have been shot deliberately. Surely if the army had believed in the justice of the military campaign that it is waging in Gaza, it would have taken responsibility for these killings, apologizing, expressing regret and offering compensation.

    But when the earth is burning under our feet, when we know the truth and understand that shooting at demonstrators and killing more than 120 of them and rendering hundreds of others disabled is more akin to a massacre, one cannot apologize or express regret. And then the army spokesman’s aggressive, clumsy, embarrassing and shameful propaganda machine springs into action – a thunderous voice from the Defense Ministry that only compounds what has been done.

    Maj. Edraee released a video on Thursday in which a nurse, perhaps Najjar, is seen from the back, flinging away a smoke grenade that soldiers had thrown at her. Edraee would have done the same himself, but when it comes to desperate propaganda, it’s a smoking gun: Najjar is a terrorist. She had also said that she was a human shield. Certainly a medic is a human defender.

    An Israeli army investigation, based only on the testimony of the soldiers of course, showed that she had not been deliberately shot. Clearly. The propaganda machine went further and hinted that she may have been killed by Palestinian weapons fire, which has rarely been used over the past two months.

    Maybe she shot herself? Anything is possible. And do we remember any Israeli army investigation showing otherwise? Israel’s ambassador in London, Mark Regev, who is another top, polished propagandist, was quick to tweet about the “medical volunteer” in quotation marks, as if a Palestinian could be a medical volunteer. Instead, he wrote, her death is “yet another reminder of Hamas’ brutality.”

    The Israeli army kills a medic in a white uniform, in an outrageous violation of international law, which provides protection for medical personnel in combat zones. And that’s despite the fact that the Gaza border does not constitute a combat zone. But it’s Hamas that is the brutal one.

    Kill me, Mr. Ambassador, but who could possibly follow this twisted, sick logic? And who would buy such cheap propaganda other than some of the members of the Board of Deputies of British Jews — the largest representative organization of U.K. Jewry – along with Merav Ben Ari, the Knesset member who was quick to take advantage of the opportunity and state: “It turns out that the medic, yes that one, wasn’t just a medic, as you see.” Yes, that one. As you see.

    Israel should have been shocked by the killing of the medic. Najjar’s innocent face should have touched every Israeli’s heart. Medical organizations should have spoken out. Israelis should have hidden their faces in embarrassment. But that only could have happened if Israel had believed in the justice of its cause. When fairness is gone, all that is left is propaganda. And from that standpoint, maybe this new low is a herald of good news.


  • Putin suggested to develop a new Russian Atlas of the World

    RTW May 6, 2018 | MEMRI

    « Today we are facing attempts to gradually remove from the world map Russian names given by our explorers and travellers in past centuries and decades. »

    https://www.memri.org/reports/russia-week-%E2%80%93-may-6-2018

    Putin: ’We Do Not Have The Right To Condone Or Ignore The Distortion Of Historical And Geographical Truth’

    Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired the tenth anniversary meeting of the Russian Geographical Society Board of Trustees. During the meeting, Putin complained of the “distortion” of the geographical truth on the world maps, and suggested to develop a new Russian Atlas of the World.

    Putin: "… In general, toponymics – names of geographical and other places – require special attention. Today we are facing attempts to gradually remove from the world map Russian names given by our explorers and travellers in past centuries and decades. Let me emphasize that this erases the memory of Russia’s contribution to the exploration of the planet and developments in science. This s particularly striking in the Antarctic where the names given by the discoverers of the continent Lazarev and Bellinshausen have almost ceased to exist.

    "Today very few people know that Borodino is the primordial, historical name of the island of Smith, that Snow is Maly Yaroslavets, Livingstone is Smolensk and so on. Meanwhile, we will celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of the Antarctic in 2020. This is the achievement of Russian seafarers. Examples of name substitution are not limited to the remote Antarctic, some are closer, but I will not dwell on them now.

    "All this is the result, among other things, of the lack of modern domestically made maps. Only foreign ones are in the public domain, and they generally provide secondary names of geographical sites. As such, it is proposed to develop a new Russian Atlas of the World involving the Russian Geographical Society, so that all such cases will be addressed properly.

    "We do not intend to impose anything on anyone, it is not necessary, but we do not have the right to condone or ignore the distortion of historical and geographical truth and justice in this case.

    “I would ask Rosreestr (Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography) to develop the atlas together with the Russian Geographical Society and the Defense Ministry, which – provided all necessary procedures are followed – should provide access to its cartographic materials for the atlas developers and for travellers, tourists and motorists, including via modern computer technologies. The classification label on many maps is clearly outdated and looks simply archaic.”

    #russie #poutine #géographie #toponymie #identité_nationale


  • ’We look at them like donkeys’: What Israel’s first ruling party thought about Palestinian citizens -

    Quand Ben Gourion et le parti travailliste israélien (la “gauche”) qualifiaient des Palestiniens d’Israël d’ “ânes” et réfléchissait sur la manière de les expulser

    Israel’s first ruling party, Mapai, was torn about the status of Arabs who remained in the country after the War of Independence; almost 70 years later, the ’Arab question’ has yet to be answered
    By Adam Raz Jan 13, 2018
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.834355

    “The Arab question in Israel” was the term used in the top ranks of Mapai, the ruling party in the young State of Israel – and forerunner of Labor – to encapsulate the complex issue that arose after the War of Independence of 1948-49. In the wake of the fighting, and the armistice agreements that concluded the war, about 156,000 Arabs remained within Israel (out of an estimated 700,000 before the war), accounting for 14 percent of the nascent state’s population. So it was with some justification that Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett stated in a meeting of Mapai Knesset members and the party’s senior leadership, on June 18, 1950, that “this is one of the fundamental questions of our policy and of the future of our country.” He added that the issue was one “that will determine the direction of the country’s morality,” for “our entire moral stature depends on this test – on whether we pass it or not.”
    Almost 70 years later, the “Arab question in Israel” continues to pose a conundrum for politicians when they address the issue of the status of Palestinian citizens of Israel (or, as they are often imprecisely called, “Israeli Arabs”).
    The minutes of the meetings held by Mapai, which are stored in the Labor Party Archive in Beit Berl, outside Kfar Sava, attest to the deep dispute in the party over two conflicting approaches concerning the Arabs in Israel. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and his associates – Moshe Dayan (Israel Defense Forces chief of staff 1953-1958) and Shimon Peres, at the time a senior official in the Defense Ministry – urged a policy of segregation and a hard hand against what he argued was a communal threat to national security; while Sharett and other Mapai leaders – Pinhas Lavon, Zalman Aran, David Hacohen and others – promoted a policy of integration.

    The disagreement between Ben-Gurion and Sharett mirrored the respective approaches held by the two regarding the Arab world in general. Sharett was critical of Ben-Gurion’s policy, which he said, held that “the only language the Arabs understand is force,” and called for an approach that preferred the “matter of peace.” Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, then a Knesset member, and later Israel’s second president (1952-1963), summed up succinctly the alternatives in a meeting of the Mapai MKs several weeks later, on July 9, 1950: “The question is the attitude the state takes toward the minorities. Do we want them to remain in the country, to be integrated in the country, or to get out of the country We declared civic equality irrespective of race difference. Does this refer to a time when there will be no Arabs in the country? If so, it’s fraud.”
    ’Transfer’ option
    The discussions within the party were quite freewheeling, even if speakers frequently expressed concern of leaks to the press, which could have lead to international pressure on Israel to improve the treatment of its Arab citizens. Indeed, the future of the relations between the peoples who inhabited the country demanded weighty political decisions. Among the issues in question: the right to vote, the Absentees’ Property Law, the status of the Arab education system, membership of Arab workers in the Mapai-affiliated Histadrut federation of labor, and more.

    One proposition that arose frequently in the discussions was that of a “transfer” – the expulsion of the Arabs who continued to reside in Israel – a term that some found grating already then. In the June 1950 meeting, Sharett took issue with the allegation, voiced by Ben-Gurion and his supporters, that the Arabs in Israel were a “fifth column.” That was a simplistic assumption, Sharett said, “which needs to be examined.” As he saw it, the fate of the relations between the two peoples depended overwhelmingly on the Jews. “Will we continue to fan the flames?” Sharett asked, or try to douse them? Even though a high-school education was not yet mandatory under law (and the state was not obligated to offer one), a large number of the Jewish youth in the country attended high school, and Sharett thought that the state should establish high schools for the Arabs as well. Israel needs “to guarantee them their cultural minimum,” he added.
    For political reasons, the segregationists tended to ignore the difference between the Arabs living in Israel and those who were left on the other side of the border following the war, many of whom made attempts to “infiltrate” and return to their homes. Sharett took the opposite view: “A distinction must be made between vigorous action against Arab infiltration” and “discrimination against Arabs within the country.”

    David Ben-Gurion. Fritz Cohen / GPO
    Ranking figures such as Sharett and Lavon, who was defense minister in 1954-55, viewed positively a further exodus of Arabs from the country, but only “by peaceful means.” Sharett vehemently objected to the position taken by Dayan, who not only wanted to bring about a situation in which there would be fewer Arabs in Israel, but sought to achieve this through active expulsion. In Sharett’s view, “We must not strive to do this by a wholesale policy of persecution and discrimination.” Sharett spoke of “distinctly unnecessary forms of cruelty, which are tantamount to an indescribable desecration of God’s name.”
    Dayan, notwithstanding the fact that he was serving in the army at the time – as head of Southern Command – participated in Mapai’s political meetings and helped set public policy. He was one of the leaders of the aggressive stance against the country’s Arabs and was against a proposal that they should serve in the army (an idea that came up but was shelved). He opposed granting the Arabs “permanent-citizenship certificates,” opposed compensating those who had been dispossessed of their land, and in fact opposed every constructive action that could contribute to bridge-building between the peoples. “Let’s say that we help them live in the situation they are in today” and no more, he proposed.
    Dayan’s approach remained consistent over the years, and conflicted with the view taken by Sharett and the stream in Mapai that he represented. Speaking in the same June 1950 meeting, Dayan asserted, “I want to say that in my opinion, the policy of this party should be geared to see this public, of 170,000 Arabs, as though their fate has not yet been sealed. I hope that in the years to come there will perhaps be another possibility to implement a transfer of these Arabs from the Land of Israel, and as long as a possibility of this sort is feasible, we should not do anything that conflicts with this.”
    Dayan also objected to Sharett’s proposals to improve the level of education among the country’s Arabs. “It is not in our interest to do that,” he said. “This is not the only question on which the time for a final solution has not yet arrived.”
    Zalman Aran, a future education minister, objected to the military government that had been imposed on Israel’s Arabs at the time of statehood and remained in effect until 1966. Under its terms, Arabs had to be equipped with permits both to work and to travel outside their hometowns, which were also under curfew at night. “As long as we keep them in ghettos,” Aran said, no constructive activity will help. Lavon, too, urged the dismantlement of the military government. In 1955, a few months after resigning as defense minister, he savaged the concept at a meeting in Beit Berl. “The State of Israel cannot solve the question of the Arabs who are in the country by Nazi means,” he stated, adding, “Nazism is Nazism, even if carried out by Jews.”
    Even earlier, Lavon was a sharp critic of the line taken by Dayan and other advocates of transfer. At a meeting of another Mapai leadership forum, on May 21, 1949, he said acidly, “It’s well known that we socialists are the best in the world even when we rob Arabs.” A few months later, on January 1, 1950, in another meeting, he warned, “It is impossible to take action among the Arabs when the policy is one of transfer. It is impossible to work among them if the policy is to oppress Arabs – that prevents concrete action. What is being carried out is a dramatic and brutal suppression of the Arabs in Israel... Transfer is not on the cards. If there is not a war, they will not go. Two-hundred thousand Arabs will be citizens in terms of voting... As the state party, we must set for ourselves a constructive policy in the Arab realm.”
    Back in December 1948, during the discussions on granting the right to vote for the Constituent Assembly – Israel’s first parliamentary institution, which was elected in January 1949, and a month later became the “Israel Knesset” – Ben-Gurion agreed to grant the right to vote to the Arabs who had been in the country when a census was taken, a month earlier. About 37,000 Arabs were registered in the census. The decision to enfranchise them apparently stemmed from party-political considerations. The thinking was that most of them would vote for Mapai.
    This assessment was voiced in the discussions on the Citizenship Law in early 1951, when Ben-Gurion expressed the most assertive opinion. He refused to grant the right to vote to the Arabs who were living in the country lawfully (as Sharett demanded) but who had been elsewhere during the census (because they had fled or had been expelled in the wake of the war); or to those Arabs who resided in the “Triangle” (an area of Arab towns and villages on the Sharon plain), which was annexed to Israel only in April 1949, under the armistice agreement with Jordan. “Is there no country in the world that has two types of citizens in elections [meaning voting and non-voting],” Ben-Gurion asked rhetorically in a meeting of Mapai MKs on February 20, 1951.

    Moshe Dayan. Fritz Cohen / GPO
    In the view of Sharett, who submitted a conflicting draft resolution, it would not be possible to defend “this situation in regard to ourselves and in regard to these Arabs, and in regard to the Arabs in Israel as a whole and in terms of world public opinion. Accordingly, I suggest granting them the right to vote... Discriminate only against the Arabs who entered Israel without permission.”
    Sharett maintained that Ben-Gurion had not given consideration to the root of the problem. “Terrible things” were being done against Arabs in the country, he warned. “Until a Jew is hanged for murdering an Arab for no reason, in cold blood, the Jews will not understand that Arabs are not dogs but human beings.” Sharett’s view carried the day in the vote, and the Arabs in the Triangle voted in the elections.
    In the July 9, 1950, meeting, MK David Hacohen disputed the argument that discrimination against the Arabs and the institution of the military government were essential for the country’s security. Assailing the Absentees’ Property Law – a series of measures that allowed the state to expropriate land and homes abandoned by Palestinians who were displaced during the war, even if they subsequently returned to the country – he said, “I don’t know whether it was clear to us all, when we voted, how grave it is.” He noted that, “According to the law, when an Arab dies, his property does not go to his wife but to the Custodian of Absentees’ Property It is inconceivable for us to declare equality of all citizens and at the same time have a law like this on the books.”
    Apparently, no one took issue with the next comparison Hacohen drew: “These laws that we are coming up with in regard to Israel’s Arab residents cannot even be likened to the laws that were promulgated against the Jews in the Middle Ages, when they were deprived of all rights. After all, this is a total contrast between our declarations and our deeds.”
    A similar approach was voiced during the same meeting by Zalman Aran, who viewed Mapai’s handling of the Arabs as a “process of despair” that must be rejected instead of finding excuses for it.
    “Morally, if we are a movement that does not lie, and we do not want to lie, we are here living a total lie,” he said. “All the books and articles that have been written, and the speeches made internally and for external consumption, are groundless when it comes to implementation. I am not talking about the attitude of individuals in the country toward the Arabs. I am talking about a [policy] line. I reject this line, which has emerged within society and has a thousand-and-one manifestations. I do not accept all the excuses that have been put forward.”
    Taking issue with Dayan’s approach, Aran compared the situation of the Arabs in Israel with the situation of Jews in other countries. “On the basis of what we are doing here to the Arabs, there is no justification for demanding a different attitude toward Jewish minorities in other countries I would be contemptuous of Arabs who would want to form ties with us on the basis of this policy. We would be lying in the [Socialist] Internationale, we are lying to ourselves and we are lying to the nations of the world.”
    Dayan – still an officer in uniform, it must be remembered – objected to the opinions voiced by Hacohen and Aran, and saw no reason to draw a distinction between the Arab public in Israel and Arabs in enemy countries. “I am far more pessimistic about the prospect of viewing these Arabs as loyal,” he countered.

    Moshe Sharett. Frank Scherschel
    Flawed democracy
    During the same period of a decade-plus when Ben-Gurion was premier, a political battle raged in Mapai over the continued existence of the military government. Ben-Gurion persistently defended the military government, which he saw as a “deterrent force” against the Arabs in Israel. In a meeting of the Mapai Secretariat on January 1, 1962, he railed against the “dominant naivete” of those, such as Sharett and Aran, who do not understand the Arabs, and warned of the possible consequences: “There are people living under the illusion that we are like all the nations, that the Arabs are loyal to Israel and that what happened in Algeria cannot happen here.”
    He added, “We view them like donkeys. They don’t care. They accept it with love...” To loosen the reins on the Arabs would be a great danger, he added: “You and your ilk” – those who support the abolition of the military government or making it less stringent – “will be responsible for the perdition of Israel.” A decade earlier, on January 15, 1951, Shmuel Dayan, Moshe Dayan’s father, a Mapai leader and longtime Knesset member, had voiced similar sentiments in a meeting of Mapai MKs. The Arabs, he said, “could be good citizens, but it’s clear that at the moment they become an obstacle, they will constitute a terrible danger.”
    A decade later, Aran offered an opposite assessment of the situation. Speaking at a meeting of the Mapai Secretariat in January 1962, he maintained that it was the military government that “is exacerbating the situation.” He also rejected the Algeria analogy. On the contrary, he thought, the existence of the military government would not delay an Arab uprising but would only spur it. He reiterated his critique of the early 1950s a decade later. He was against a situation in which the Arabs are “second-class” citizens who lack rights like the Jews, and he was critical of both himself and his colleagues: “We accepted this thing, we became accustomed to it... We took it in stride... It’s hard to swallow... No Arab in the State of Israel is able, needs to, is capable of – whatever you give him economically, educationally – accepting that he is a second-class citizen in this country. I think that the world does not know the true situation. If it did, it would not let us keep going on this way.”
    Already then, Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, under whose term as prime minister the military government would be abolished, foresaw the dire consequences: “It would not surprise me if something new suddenly emerges, that people will not want to rent a stable – or a room – to an Arab in some locale, which is the [logical] continuation of this situation. Will we be able to bear that?”
    One person who was not impressed by such arguments was the deputy defense minister, Shimon Peres. In a Mapai Secretariat meeting on January 5, 1962, he maintained that in practice, the military government “is not a strain on the Arabs.” The military government, he added, was [effectively] created by the Arabs, “who endanger Israel and as long as that danger exists, we must meet it with understanding.” In contrast, Isser Harel, head of the Shin Bet security service (1948-1952) and the Mossad (1952-1963), stated in 1966, days after resigning as Eshkol’s adviser for intelligence and security, that “the military government is not a security necessity, and therefore there is no need for its existence. The army should not be dealing with the Arab citizens. That is a flaw in terms of our democracy” (quoted in the daily Maariv, July 10, 1966). That had been the view of the security hawks, including Yigal Allon, since the early 1950s.
    Over the years, it was claimed that the military government had served as a tool in Mapai’s hands for reinforcing its rule, both by giving out jobs and by distributing benefits, and also by intervening in election campaigns through the creation of Arab factions within existing parties that were convenient for the ruling party (and suppressing opponents on the other side). This is not the venue to discuss that allegation – for which evidence exists – but it’s worth noting one of the motifs of the hard-hand policy, which preserved the segregation between Arabs and Jews, as expressed candidly by Ben-Gurion in the meeting of the Mapai Secretariat on January 5, 1962: “The moment that the difference between Jews and Arabs is eliminated, and they are at the same level If on that day there does not exist a regime in a world where there are no more wars, I do not have the shadow of a doubt that Israel will be eradicated and no trace will remain of the Jewish people.”

    Adam Raz
    Haaretz Contributor


  • As violence intensifies, Israel continues to arm Myanmar’s military junta
    Responding to a petition filed by human rights activists, Defense Ministry says matter is ’clearly diplomatic’
    By John Brown Sep. 3, 2017 | 5:58 PM
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.810390

    The violence directed at Myanmar’s Rohingya minority by the country’s regime has intensified. United Nations data show that about 60,000 members of the minority group have recently fled Myanmar’s Rahine state, driven out by the increasing violence and the burning of their villages, information that has been confirmed by satellite images. But none of this has led to a change in the policy of the Israeli Defense Ministry, which is refusing to halt weapons sales to the regime in Myanmar, the southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma.

    On Thursday, the bodies of 26 refugees, including 12 children, were removed from the Naf River, which runs along the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Of the refugees who managed to reach Bangladesh, many had been shot. There were also reports of rapes, shootings and fatal beatings directed at the Rohingya minority, which is denied human rights in Myanmar. The country’s army has been in the middle of a military campaign since October that intensified following the recent killing of 12 Myanmar soldiers by Muslim rebels.

    Since Burma received its independence from Britain in 1948, civil war has been waged continuously in various parts of the country. In November 2015, democratic elections were held in the country that were won by Nobel Prize-winning human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi. But her government doesn’t exert real control over the country’s security forces, since private militias are beholden to the junta that controlled Myanmar prior to the election.

    Militia members continue to commit crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of human rights around the country, particularly against minority groups that are not even accorded citizenship. Since Myanmar’s military launched operations in Rahine last October, a number of sources have described scenes of slaughter of civilians, unexplained disappearances, and the rape of women and girls, as well as entire villages going up in flames. The military has continued to commit war crimes and violations of international law up to the present.

    Advanced Israeli weapons

    Despite what is known at this point from the report of the United Nations envoy to the country and a report by Harvard University researchers that said the commission of crimes of this kind is continuing, the Israeli government persists in supplying weapons to the regime there.

    One of the heads of the junta, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, visited Israel in September 2015 on a “shopping trip” of Israeli military manufacturers. His delegation met with President Reuven Rivlin as well as military officials including the army’s chief of staff. It visited military bases and defense contractors Elbit Systems and Elta Systems.

    The head of the Defense Ministry’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate — better known by its Hebrew acronym, SIBAT — is Michel Ben-Baruch, who went to Myanmar in the summer of 2015. In the course of the visit, which attracted little media coverage, the heads of the junta disclosed that they purchased Super Dvora patrol boats from Israel, and there was talk of additional purchases.

    In August 2016, images were posted on the website of TAR Ideal Concepts, an Israeli company that specializes in providing military training and equipment, showing training with Israeli-made Corner Shot rifles, along with the statement that Myanmar had begun operational use of the weapons. The website said the company was headed by former Israel Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishki. Currently the site makes no specific reference to Myanmar, referring only more generally to Asia.

    Who will supervise the supervisors?

    Israel’s High Court of Justice is scheduled to hear, in late September, a petition from human rights activists against the continued arms sales to Myanmar.

    In a preliminary response issued in March, the Defense Ministry argued that the court has no standing in the matter, which it called “clearly diplomatic.”

    On June 5, in answer to a parliamentary question by Knesset member Tamar Zandberg on weapons sales to Myanmar, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel “subordinates [itself] to the entire enlightened world, that is the Western states, and first of all the United States, the largest arms exporter. We subordinate ourselves to them and maintain the same policy.”

    He said the Knesset plenum may not be the appropriate forum for a detailed discussion of the matter and reiterated that Israel complies with “all the accepted guidelines in the enlightened world.”

    Lieberman statement was incorrect. The United States and the European Union have imposed an arms embargo on Myanmar. It’s unclear whether the cause was ignorance, and Lieberman is not fully informed about Israel’s arms exports (even though he must approve them), or an attempt at whitewashing.

    In terms of history, as well, Lieberman’s claim is incorrect. Israel supported war crimes in Argentina, for example, even when the country was under a U.S. embargo, and it armed the Serbian forces committing massacres in Bosnia despite a United Nations embargo.

    #Israël_Birmanie


  • Testimony from the censored massacre
    A young fellow tied to a tree and set on fire. A woman and an old man shot in back. Girls lined up against a wall and shot with a submachine gun. The testimonies Neta Shoshani collected about the massacre in Deir Yassin make for difficult reading even 70 years after the fact. Some of them will be shown in her new film ’Born in Deir Yassin’ and others are being published here for the first time. To this day, the state is censoring the photographs from the massacre
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.801307

    For two years now a document that makes for difficult reading has been lying in the archives of the association to commemorate the heritage of Lehi – the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel pre-state underground militia. It was written by a member of the underground about 70 years ago. Reading it could reopen a bleeding wound from the days of the War of Independence that to this day stirs a great deal of emotion in Israeli society.
    “Last Friday together with Etzel” – the acronym for the National Military Organization, also known as the Irgun, another pre-state underground militia, led by Menachem Begin – “our movement carried out a tremendous operation to occupy the Arab village on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road – Deir Yassin. I participated in this operation in the most active way,” wrote Yehuda Feder, whose nom de guerre in Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) was “Giora.”
    Further along in the letter, he describes in detail his part in the massacre that took place there. “This was the first time in my life that at my hands and before my eyes Arabs fell. In the village I killed an armed Arab man and two Arab girls of 16 or 17 who were helping the Arab who was shooting. I stood them against a wall and blasted them with two rounds from the Tommy gun,” he wrote, describing how he carried out the execution of the girls with a submachine gun.
    Along with that, he tells about looting in the village with his buddies after it was occupied. “We confiscated a lot of money and silver and gold jewelry fell into our hands,” he wrote. He concludes the letter with the words: “This was a really tremendous operation and it is with reason that the left is vilifying us again.”

    Pictures of the occupation of Deir Yassin. Most researchers state that 110 inhabitants of the village were killed there. IDF archive / Defense Ministry
    This letter is one of the historical documents revealed in a new documentary film entitled “Born in Deir Yassin” by director Neta Shoshani, who devoted the past several years to comprehensive historical research on the Deir Yassin massacre, one of the constitutive incidents of the War of Independence, which has remained a blot on Israel to this day.
    In advance of the premiere screening of the film at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Shoshani showed Haaretz the testimonies she has gathered about the incident, the result of extensive digging in archives along with in-depth interviews with the last living participants in the action. Some of them broke a silence of decades when they spoke to her, often for the first time in front of a camera.


  • Suspected N.Korea #drone photographed US missile defense site
    https://www.apnews.com/1e6f8781b9be424baacf521a2932d304

    A suspected North Korean drone photographed a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea before it crashed near the border where it was found last week, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

    The finding came four days after North Korea tested new anti-ship missiles in a continuation of weapons launches that have complicated new South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s push to improve ties frayed over the North’s nuclear ambitions.

    Meanwhile, South Korea’s military said a North Korean soldier walked across the heavily mined border between the countries and defected to the South. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the soldier was being questioned about the reasons for his defection.

    The drone was found in a South Korean border town last Friday and South Korean investigators have discovered hundreds of photos in its Sony-made camera, a Defense Ministry official said, requesting anonymity because of department rules.

    Ten of the photos were of U.S. missile launchers and a radar system installed in the southeastern town of Seongju earlier this year, while the rest were mostly of residential areas, agricultural fields and other less-sensitive areas in South Korea, the official said.

    Under a deal with Moon’s conservative predecessor, the United States deployed key components of the so-called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system this spring to cope with a potential North Korean nuclear threat. North Korea called the system a provocation aimed at bolstering U.S. military hegemony in the region. China also opposes the deployment because it worries that THAAD’s powerful radar system can peer into its own territory.

    The drone was believed to have crashed because it ran short of fuel while returning to North Korea. The official said more analysis was being conducted, including trying to determine if the drone had already transmitted the 10 photos of the #THAAD site.


  • Israel’s masters of war set their sights on Gaza - again -
    Gideon Levy Feb 12, 2017 12:30 PM
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.771142

    Gaza cries out, but the warmongers don’t listen. For them, the Strip is just an opportunity to advance their careers.

    “Come you masters of war, … I can see through your masks… You lie and deceive, a world war can be won, you want me to believe, but I see through your eyes, and I see through your brain. … You’ve thrown the worst fear that can ever be hurled, fear to bring children in to the world.” (From Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”)

    And look, they’re back, our masters of war. Here they come, those warmongers. They don’t pass up a single chance to grab a microphone and threaten to push toward another war. Yet no one asks them: Why? What for? The north is quiet, as is the south, relatively speaking.

    But it’s been two and a half years since the last war in Gaza and the Israeli DNA demands another round of bloodshed. And their current jobs – construction minister or education minister – are also boring for those with a mind for it. Encouraging high school students to take advanced math or building new public housing is deadly dull. They need another war, after which they may get the positions they covet.

    The Gaza Strip is dying. Its inhabitants have just three years to live, according to a United Nations report that predicted that in 2020, Gaza will cease to be a place fit for human life. It has long ago become a cage unfit for life. But when they’re not shooting at Israel from Gaza, no one takes an interest in its fate. Hamas is holding its fire, but it’s enough for two rebel rockets to be fired to prompt 19 (!) Israeli aerial attacks and to extract all of our warmongers from their holes.

    Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant’s eyes lit up and the color seemed to return to his face when he talked about Gaza. “I believe we should be prepared by spring,” determines this master of war, who dreams of returning to Gaza and killing more, as he did so well in Operation Cast Lead eight year ago. Why in the spring? Don’t ask. There’s a reason you don’t know. Maybe it’s because Charles Aznavour sang about returning in the spring.

    Last week, Galant didn’t pass up a single media opportunity anywhere but on the Kol Hamusica classical music station to fan the flames and push for a war. And who would bother interviewing this failing, boring construction minister whose party colleague Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon also detests him if it were not about Gaza? Since he has not chalked up accomplishments in building, Galant, a former military man is trying to get back to destroying. The Likud party is waiting for him.

    The Defense Ministry is also coveted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Getting there, however, requires fanning the flames. No official report about the failure to deal with Hamas tunnels in Gaza will suffice, so Bennett is also dreaming about another war. “The next round of war is approaching,” he said, making a prediction that always comes true in Israel. He hasn’t concealed the extent to which he is in a hurry to return to the killing fields of Shujaiyeh and the confidential briefings with army officers.

    And then, of course, there is the current defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who even in his new temporary role as a moderate, also won’t pass up a chance. “Until the other side cries gevalt, we’re not stopping,” said the minister of arrogance. Again came the hollow promises of decisive victory that will never come about and yet again everyone is willing to buy the argument. Again everyone is waiting for the next war, as if it were fate handed down by the almighty when it isn’t even handed down from Gaza.

    Gaza actually is crying gevalt, but none of the warmongers are listening. Gaza for them is an opportunity to advance their careers, to get the forces moving and to conceptualize a war against an enemy that is nothing but an army of hooligans, nothing but an assault on the powerless. Gaza would bring the warmongers back into the headlines, back into their glory, the return of the good old days of combat jackets. Otherwise, there would be no reason to embark on another attack on Gaza.

    The deterioration could be quick. Just another few declarations of war, another few disproportionate responses by the Israel Defense Forces for every cap gun or kite fired from Gaza and we’re there. Israel also pushed for the wars in Gaza in 2008 and 2014 more than Gaza did. Before you can say “cigars and champagne,” the IDF is in Gaza.

    And there is no one to yell “stop,” no one to say that those who don’t want war in Gaza should open it rather than destroy it a third, fourth and fifth time. But saying so requires courage, which is the quality most lacking among our masters of war, whom, as Dylan’s lyrics state, will never be forgiven.

    #GAZA



  • Turkey sealing Syrian border with giant wall

    The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) has undertaken the construction of the remaining 700 kilometers of the wall being built on Turkey’s border with war-torn Syria, after the construction of the initial 200-kilometer-long concrete wall on the border was completed jointly by the Defense Ministry and neighboring provinces governor’s offices.


    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-public-housing-body-undertakes-syria-border-wall-construc
    #murs #barrières_frontalières #frontières #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Turquie #Syrie
    cc @daphne @albertocampiphoto @marty


  • Turkey’s public housing body undertakes Syria border wall construction
    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-public-housing-body-undertakes-syria-border-wall-construc

    The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) has undertaken the construction of the remaining 700 kilometers of the wall being built on Turkey’s border with war-torn Syria, after the construction of the initial 200-kilometer-long concrete wall on the border was completed jointly by the Defense Ministry and neighboring provinces governor’s offices.
    After completing the tender process for a 200-kilometer-long section of the to-be built wall and preparing works for the remaining section, TOKİ was expecting to finish the “security wall” in five months, its head, Ergün Turan, said. The wall is expected to block uncontrolled human passage across the border.


  • Secret 1970 document confirms first West Bank settlements built on a lie
    In minutes of meeting in then-defense minister Moshe Dayan’s office, top Israeli officials discussed how to violate international law in building settlement of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron.
    By Yotam Berger | Jul. 28, 2016 | 10:17 AM

    1973 map of West Bank settlement Kiryat Arba credit:Peace Now
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.733746

    It has long been an open secret that the settlement enterprise was launched under false pretenses, involving the expropriation of Palestinian land for ostensibly military purposes when the true intent was to build civilian settlements, which is a violation of international law.

    Now a secret document from 1970 has surfaced confirming this long-held assumption. The document, a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz, details a meeting in the office of then-defense minister Moshe Dayan at which government and military leaders spoke explicitly about how to carry out this deception in the building of Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron.

    The document is titled “The method for establishing Kiryat Arba.” It contains minutes of a meeting held in July 1970 in Dayan’s office, and describes how the land on which the settlement was to be built would be confiscated by military order, ostensibly for security purposes, and that the first buildings on it would be falsely presented as being strictly for military use.

    Aside from Dayan, the participants include the director general of the Housing Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces’ commander in the West Bank and the coordinator of government activities in the territories.

    ’Construction will be presented as ...’

    According to the minutes, these officials decided to build “250 housing units in Kiryat Arba within the perimeter of the area specified for the military unit’s use. All the building will be done by the Defense Ministry and will be presented as construction for the IDF’s needs.”

    A “few days” after Base 14 had “completed its activities,” the document continued, “the commander of the Hebron district will summon the mayor of Hebron, and in the course of raising other issues, will inform him that we’ve started to build houses on the military base in preparation for winter.” In other words, the participants agreed to mislead the mayor into thinking the construction was indeed for military purposes, when in fact, they planned to let settlers move in – the same settlers who on Passover 1968 moved into Hebron’s Park Hotel, which was the embryo of the settler enterprise.

    2015 map of West Bank settlement Kiryat Arba credit:Peace Now

    The system of confiscating land by military order for the purpose of establishing settlements was an open secret in Israel throughout the 1970s, according to people involved in creating and implementing the system. Its goal was to present an appearance of complying with international law, which forbids construction for civilian purposes on occupied land. In practice, everyone involved, from settlers to defense officials, knew the assertion that the land was meant for military rather than civilian use was false.

    This system was used to set up several settlements, until the High Court of Justice outlawed it in a 1979 ruling on a petition against the establishment of the settlement of Elon Moreh.

    Participant: We all knew the score

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit, who was coordinator of government activities in the territories at the time of the 1970 meeting in Dayan’s office about Kiryat Arba, told Haaretz it was clear to all the meeting’s participants that settlers would move into those buildings. He said that to the best of his recollection, this constituted the first use of the system of annexing land to a military base for the purpose of civilian settlement in the West Bank. He also recalled Dayan as the one who proposed this system, because he didn’t like any of the alternative locations proposed for Kiryat Arba.

    Nevertheless, and despite what the document advocated, Gazit said, army officers told the mayor of Hebron explicitly that a civilian settlement would be established next to his city, rather than telling him the construction was for military purposes.

    Hagit Ofran, head of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch project, also said this appears to be the first use of the system of using military orders to seize land for civilian settlement. And while this system is no longer in use, she said, “Today, too, the state uses tricks to build and expand settlements. We don’t need to wait decades for the revelation of another internal document to realize that the current system for taking over land – wholesale declarations of it as state land – also violates the essence of the law.”

    Gazit said that in retrospect, the system was wrong, but that he was just “a bureaucrat, in quotation marks; I carried out the government’s orders, in quotation marks.”

    “I think this pretense has continued until today,” he added. “Throughout my seven years as coordinator of government activities in the territories, we didn’t establish settlements anywhere by any other system.”

    But government officials had no idea Kiryat Arba (pop. 8,000) would become so big, Gazit insisted. They only sought to provide a solution for the squatters in the Park Hotel, who “weren’t more than 50 families.”

    Today, even Kiryat Arba residents admit that this system was a deception. Settler ideologue Elyakim Haetzni, one of Kiryat Arba’s original residents, noted that during a Knesset debate at the time, cabinet minister Yigal Allon said clearly that this would be a civilian settlement.

    “It’s clear why this game ended; after all, how long could it go on? This performance had no connection whatsoever to Herut (the predecessor to Likud); it was all within Mapai,” Haetzni added, referring to the ruling party at the time, a precursor of today’s Labor Party.


  • The Poem That Exposed Israeli War Crimes in 1948 - Israel News - Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.709439

    On November 19, 1948, Natan Alterman, whose influential “Seventh Column” – an op-ed in poetry form – appeared every Friday in the daily Davar, the mouthpiece of Israel’s ruling Mapai party (forerunner of Labor), published a poem titled “About This.” Excerpts:
    Across the vanquished city in a jeep he did speed –
    A lad bold and armed, a young lion of a lad!
    And an old man and a woman on that very street
    Cowered against a wall, in fear of him clad.
    Said the lad smiling, milk teeth shining:
    “I’ll try the machine gun”… and put it into play!
    To hide his face in his hands the old man barely had time
    When his blood on the wall was sprayed.

    We shall sing, then, about “delicate incidents”
    Whose name, don’t you know, is murder.
    Sing of conversations with sympathetic listeners,
    Of snickers of forgiveness that are slurred.

    For those in combat gear, and we who impinge,
    Whether by action or agreement subliminal,
    Are thrust, muttering “necessity” and “revenge,”
    Into the realm of the war criminal.
    (translation by Ralph Mandel)
    Extremely moved by the verses, David Ben-Gurion, then chairman of the Provisional State Council in the nascent Jewish state, wrote Alterman: “Congratulations on the moral validity and the powerful expressiveness of your latest column in Davar… You are a pure and faithful mouthpiece of the human conscience, which, if it does not act and beat in our hearts in times like these, will render us unworthy of the great wonders vouchsafed to us until now.
    “I ask your permission to have 100,000 copies of the article – which no armored column in our army exceeds in combat strength – printed by the Defense Ministry for distribution to every army person in Israel.”
    What were the war crimes referred to in the poem?

    Natan Alterman.Moshe Milner / GPO
    The massacres perpetrated by Israeli forces in Lydda (Lod) and in the village of Al-Dawayima, west of Hebron, were among the worst mass killings of the entire War of Independence. In an interview in Haaretz in 2004, historian Benny Morris (author of “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”) declared that the most egregious massacres “occurred at Saliha, in Upper Galilee (70-80 victims), Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem (100-110), Lod (50), Dawamiya (hundreds) and perhaps Abu Shusha (70).”
    Lod was conquered in Operation Dani (July 9-19, 1948), which also targeted nearby Ramle. The political and military leadership viewed the capture of those two towns as crucial, because the concentration of Arab forces there threatened Tel Aviv and its surroundings. Specifically, the aim was for the fledgling Israel Defense Forces to clear the roads and allow access to the Jewish communities on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road – which remained under Arab control – and to take control of the hilly areas stretching from Latrun to the outskirts of Ramallah. This would mean a clash with units of Jordan’s Arab Legion, which were deployed – or supposedly deployed – in the area.
    Another goal of Operation Dani, which was led by Yigal Allon with Yitzhak Rabin as his deputy, was to expand the territories of the young Jewish state beyond the boundaries delineated by the UN partition plan.
    On July 10, Lod was bombed by the Israeli air force, the first such attack in the War of Independence. A large ground force had also been assembled, including three brigades and 30 artillery batteries, based on the army’s assessment that large Jordanian forces were in the area.
    To their surprise, the IDF units encountered little or no resistance. Even so, there are Palestinian and other Arab sources that allege that 250 people were massacred after Lod was taken. Claims about the scale of the massacre gain credence from Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, who maintains that the army killed 426 men, women and children in a local mosque and the surrounding streets. According to him, 176 bodies were found in the mosque, and the rest outside. Testimony of a Palestinian from Lod lends support to these estimates: “The [Israeli troops], violating all the conventions, shelled the mosque, killing everyone who was inside. I heard from friends who helped remove the dead from the mosque that they carried out 93 bodies; others said there were many more than a hundred.” Clearly, though, there are no agreed-upon, precise figures, and the estimates from both sides are tendentious.
    Israeli troops went from house to house, expelling the remaining inhabitants to the West Bank. In some cases, soldiers looted abandoned houses and stole from the refugees.
    Ben-Gurion’s intentions with respect to Lod remain a subject of debate. Years later, Rabin related how in a meeting with him and Allon, Ben-Gurion, when asked what to do with the residents of Ramle and Lod, gestured with his hand and said, “Expel them.” This version of events was to have been included in Rabin’s memoirs but was banned for publication in Israel, in 1979. His account did appear in The New York Times at the time, and caused a furor. Allon, who also took part in the meeting with Ben-Gurion, vehemently denied Rabin’s account.On July 12, an order was issued by the Yiftah Brigade “to remove the residents from Lod speedily … They are to be directed to Beit Naballah [near Ramle].” .


  • Don’t Shoot Down Breaking the Silence, It’s Just the Messenger - Israel News - Haaretz -
    Amos Harel Dec 19, 2015
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.692603

    Breaking the Silence was founded in the spring of 2004. Four freshly released soldiers from the Nahal Brigade, who served long tours in Hebron during the height of the second intifada, organized an exhibition that documented their experiences, which was displayed at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Although some people were outraged by the exhibition, the discussion about the soldiers’ claims was conducted far more calmly than it is today – despite the fact that, back then, suicide bombers were still blowing themselves up on buses in Israeli cities.

    The current Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, was the commander of all IDF forces in the West Bank at the time, and he raised a concern: Why did the founders of the organization not oppose the army actions while they were serving, or at least report on them in real time? His argument was unconvincing. In most cases, a corporal will have a hard time going before the company or battalion commander in real time and saying, “That’s not allowed.” They are not equals. Few soldiers – particularly during regular service – have the ability to make such complaints, especially at a time when military casualties are high and the atmosphere is charged.

    As the years went on, the IDF made two other, more substantial claims. The first regarded the difficulty in translating the soldiers’ testimonies into legal or disciplinary proceedings. Breaking the Silence has always maintained the testifiers’ anonymity, in order to protect them. And during cases where the military prosecutor was interested in investigating, such probes generally ended without results. IDF officials got the impression that publishing the testimonies was more important to Breaking the Silence than any legal proceedings. The IDF’s second claim pertains to the organization’s activities abroad. One can assume that this activity is mostly done for fundraising purposes, but holding exhibitions abroad and making claims about Israeli war crimes certainly offended many.

    This week, there was a new low point in the public campaign against the organization. This combined two trends, only one of which was open and obvious. The first is the direct attack on Breaking the Silence by the right, comprised mostly of McCarthyesque attempts to silence it. These attacks have a sanctimonious air to them. In the eyes of the attackers, the international community is ganging up on Israel, and Breaking the Silence is the source of all our troubles – everything would be fine if it weren’t for this group of despicable liars slandering Israel’s reputation.

    It is hard to shake the suspicion that the attacks against Breaking the Silence aren’t the act of an extensive network operating with at least a degree of coordination. What began as some accusations on Channel 20 continued with a venomous video published by the Im Tirtzu movement, which was immediately followed by demands from the My Israel group (founded by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked) to prohibit Breaking the Silence representatives from visiting schools. Somehow, Education Minister Bennett succumbed to their demands within a day. In the background, there was also a blatant attack on President Reuven Rivlin. At first, they tried to link him to Breaking the Silence. That failed, because the president made sure to defend the IDF’s moral standing at the HaaretzQ conference in New York. And then the “flag affair” happened, involving Rivlin, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and the Israeli flag.

    As usual, Im Tirtzu delivered the most extreme elements of the assault. Its ubiquitous video showed the word “Shtulim” – Hebrew for implanted, or mole – above pictures of four left-wing activists who looked like they’d been plucked from a “Wanted” list. The video didn’t leave much room for the imagination: “Shtulim” is another way of saying “traitors.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02u_J2C-Lso


    Im Tirtzu accuses leftist activists of being foreign agents. YouTube/Im Tirtzu

    When one of the four featured activists, Dr. Ishai Menuchin – executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel – says he felt as if the spilling of his blood was being permitted, you can understand why he reached that conclusion. (By the way, Menuchin did reserve duty until an advanced age – in the Givati Brigade, of all places.) The claims that these four organizations are “collaborating with the enemy” have been rejected by the two previous military advocate generals, Avichai Mendelblit and Danny Efroni. Indeed, the two told Haaretz that they are often assisted by these human rights organizations.

    The mainstream media has provided the complementary side of the trend by airing Im Tirtzu’s videos. As journalists, they cluck their tongues and mock the style of the videos, but reap higher ratings. This approach works well in conjunction with media coverage of the current terror outbreak, which is treated relatively superficially and is often an attempt to tackle these issues without providing any broader context. Here, the goal is not to damage the left-wing organizations, but rather marketing a slant on the current reality for Israelis – as if we have the exclusive capability to both maintain the occupation indefinitely and remain the most moral army in the world. But the truth is, it’s impossible to do both. Also, there’s no empirical proof that the IDF is the most moral army in the world (a cliché Rivlin himself employed earlier this week).

    In many cases, the IDF makes an effort – and sometimes a tremendous effort. But it is still a giant war machine. When it is forced to act to defend Israeli civilians and advance into crowded, urban Palestinian territory – as it did last year in Gaza – it causes lots of casualties, which will include innocent civilians. And its control of the occupied territories involves, by its very nature, many unjust acts: limiting movement, entering civilians’ homes, making arrests and humiliating people.

    It is a reality that every combat solider in the West Bank, regular or reservist, rightist or leftist, is aware of. I can attest to it myself: For more than 10 years I was called up to serve in the West Bank many times, as a junior commander in a reserve infantry battalion – before and during the second intifada. I didn’t witness anything I considered to be a war crime. And more than once, I saw commanders going to great lengths to maintain human dignity while carrying out complex missions, which they saw as essential for security. Even so, many aspects of our operations seemed to me, and to many others, to fall into some kind of gray area, morally speaking. In my battalion, there were also cases of inhuman treatment and abuse of Palestinian civilians.

    Those who believe, like I do, that much of the blame for the lack of a peace agreement in recent years stems from Palestinian unwillingness to compromise; and those who think, like I do, that at the moment there is no horizon for an arrangement that guarantees safety for Israelis in exchange for most of the West Bank, because of the possibility that the arrangement would collapse and the vacuum be filled by Hamas or even ISIS, must admit: There is no such thing as a rose-tinted occupation.

    Breaking the Silence offers an unpleasant voice to many Israeli ears, but it speaks a lot of truth. I’ve interviewed many of its testifiers over the years. What they told me wasn’t the stuff of fantasy but rather, descriptions from below – from the perspective of the corporal or lieutenant, voices that are important and should be heard, even if they don’t present the whole picture. There is a price that comes with maintaining this abnormal situation for 48 years. Covering your ears or blaming the messenger won’t achieve anything.

    The interesting thing is that when you meet high-ranking IDF officers, you don’t hear about illusions or clichés. The senior officers don’t like Breaking the Silence, but they also don’t attack it with righteous indignation (although it’s possible that sentiments for the organization are harsher among lower ranks). In recent months, I’ve been privy to closed talks with most of the chain of command in the West Bank: The chief of staff, head of Central Command, IDF commander in the West Bank, and nine brigade chiefs. As I’ve written here numerous times recently, these officers speak in similar tones. They don’t get worked up, they aren’t trying to get their subordinates to kill Palestinians when there is no essential security need, and they aren’t looking for traitors in every corner.

    Last Tuesday, when Im Tirtzu’s despicable campaign was launched, I had a prescheduled meeting with the commander of a regular infantry brigade. In a few weeks, some of his soldiers will be stationed in the West Bank. Last year, he fought with them in Gaza. What troubles him now, he says, is how to sufficiently prepare his soldiers for their task, to ensure that they’ll protect themselves and Israeli civilians from the knife attacks, but also to ensure that they won’t recklessly shoot innocent people, or kill someone lying on the ground after the threat has been nullified.

    The picture painted by the brigade commander is entirely different to the one painted by Channel 20 (which posted on Facebook this week that “the presidency has lost its shame” following Rivlin’s appearance in New York). But it is also much more complex than the daily dose of drama being supplied by the mainstream media.

    Another victory for Ya’alon

    Last Sunday, the cabinet approved the appointment of Nir Ben Moshe as director of security for the defense establishment. The appointment was another bureaucratic victory for Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, part of a series of such appointments over the past year. The pattern remains the same: Ya’alon consults with Eisenkot; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reservations, delays the process or even opposes outright; Ya’alon insists, but takes care not to let the rift become public; and in the end Ya’alon gets what he wants.

    Ya’alon isn’t generally considered a sophisticated bureaucrat. His political power is also rather limited. He has almost no sources of power within the Likud Central Committee. The fact that he remains in his position, despite the close coordination with Netanyahu and the joint positions they held during the war in Gaza last year and during the current strife in the West Bank, seems to hinge only upon Netanyahu’s complex political considerations. Still, through great patience it seems the defense minister ultimately gets what he desires.

    Ben Moshe’s appointment was first approved by a committee within the Defense Ministry last month. Ya’alon asked that the appointment be immediately submitted to the cabinet for approval, but Netanyahu postponed the decision for weeks before ultimately accepting it. This is partly because of the prime minister’s tendency to procrastinate, which also played a part in the late appointment of Yossi Cohen as the next Mossad chief. But in many cases, there are other considerations behind such hesitations, with the appointment of the current IDF chief of staff a prime example: Ya’alon formulated his position on Eisenkot months before the decision was announced. Eisenkot’s appointment was brought before Netanyahu numerous times, but the prime minister constantly examined other candidates and postponed the decision until last December – only two and a half months before Benny Gantz’s term was set to end.

    Even the appointment of the new military advocate general, Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek, which had been agreed by Ya’alon and Eisenkot, was delayed for months by Netanyahu’s reservations – which, formally speaking, should not be part of the process. Here, it seems the stalling was due to claims from settlers about Afek’s “left-leaning” tendencies, not to mention the incriminating fact that Afek’s cousin is Michal Herzog – the wife of opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

    Over the next month, numerous other appointments to the IDF’s General Staff are expected, but Eisenkot will call the shots and Ya’alon needs to approve his nominations. The chief of staff is expected to appoint a new naval commander; a new ground forces commander; new head of the technology and logistics directorate; new head of the communications directorate; and new military attaché to Washington. In most cases, generals will make way for younger brigadier generals. Eisenkot will likely want to see a more seasoned general assume command of the ground forces, though, and could give it to a current general as a second position under that rank. However, this creates another problem – any general given this job would see it as being denied a regional command post, which is considered an essential stop for any budding chief of staff.

    #Breaking_the_Silence #Briser_le_silence


  • Poland Considers Asking for Access to NATO Nuclear Weapons - The New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/12/06/world/europe/ap-eu-poland-nuclear-weapons.html

    A Polish official says that the Defense Ministry is considering asking for access to nuclear weapons through a NATO program under which the United States places them on the territory of certain allied states.

    Tomasz Szatkowski, the deputy defense minister, said that the ministry is currently discussing whether to ask to take part in NATO’s so-called nuclear sharing program to improve the country’s defenses.

    The idea comes as Poland is worried about a resurgent Russia to its east.

    Polish media say Szatkowski’s comments Saturday to the private broadcaster Polsat mark the first time a Polish official has said the country wants to become part of the program.

    The 28-member NATO has three nuclear powers, the U.S., France and Britain, but only the U.S. has provided weapons to allies for nuclear sharing. Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey have hosted nuclear weapons as part of the program.

    (intégralité de la dépêche AP)

    pour ajouter à l’optimisme ambiant…



  • War machines arise from Kyiv’s ’tank cemetery’
    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/war-machines-arise-from-kyivs-tank-cemetery-399967.html


    Surplus armored personnel carriers lie stacked alongside rusting T-64 tanks at the storage yard of Kyiv Armored Vehicles Plant.
    © Pavlo Podufalov

    Ukraine had approximately 5,000 to 7,000 tanks left after the breakup of Soviet Union,” military expert and director of consulting firm Defense Express Serhiy Zhurets told the Kyiv Post. “But I doubt that the government has allocated any funds for tank maintenance at all for the last 25 years. About 10 tanks could have been kept in good condition, but no more.
    […]
    What is known is that hundreds, perhaps thousands, have ended up in outdoor storage sites dotted around the country, like the Kyiv Armored Vehicles Plant. The plant, which was designed to produce new tanks and armored personnel carriers, as well as repair them, has mostly been used as a storage site for Defense Ministry’s property since Ukraine became independent.
    […]
    There are at least 350 tank hulks in the plant’s outdoor storage area – equal to perhaps a third of Ukraine’s present tank force.

    Avec une galerie de 17 photos prises sur le site
    http://www.kyivpost.com/multimedia/photo/ukroboronprom-tank-cemetery-399944.html


  • Teaching Kafka to Gazans: Israel’s Bureaucratic War of Attrition - The process directed at the Abu Saids is not some bizarre harassment of one family. It is one of Israel’s standard operating Catch-22’s for residents of the Strip.

    Amira Hass Aug 25, 2015
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.672935 - Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.672935

    Someone wants to prosecute the state after one of its agencies hurt him and his family, but the state – the accused party – refuses to let him see a lawyer so he can sign a power of attorney and hand over his documentation. This conflict of interest is objectionable, unreasonable and unacceptable.
    However, it’s perfectly acceptable when speaking of a family in Gaza, one in which the mother was killed and three other family members were injured during the IDF’s routine incursions. The Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration, which deals with Gaza, is barring the plaintiffs, members of the Abu Said family, from meeting their lawyer from the Abu Hussein law office in Umm al-Fahm. The Abu Saids may not meet their lawyer in Gaza, nor in Israel, nor at the Erez checkpoint on the northern Gaza Strip border, a heavily protected Israeli compound.
    In all the drawn-out correspondence between the bureaucrats of the liaison administration (a hybrid of IDF and Defense Ministry officials) and the lawyers, then later with Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, which tried to get exit permits for the family, the prohibition on the family’s meeting with their lawyer was not explained away with the routine excuse of “security considerations.” In other words, no one claimed that members of the Abu Said family were a threat to Israel’s security.
    Likewise, they didn’t pose a risk to Israel’s security when IDF soldiers shelled an area close to their home while they were sitting outside on the hot summer’s day of July 13, 2010. There were 17 of them there, watching TV. The first shell injured two women and everyone hurried inside. An ambulance was late in arriving. Na’ama Abu Said went out to look for her young son and was hit by another shell, apparently a flechette, which sprays lethal iron nails across a wide area. She was killed instantly and another family member was injured.
    The state claimed that the shelling targeted people suspected of carrying out hostile activity against the soldiers, thus defining the incident as an “act of war.”
    Damage claims were filed in 2012. In May 2014 a Be’er Sheva court announced it would declare the suit void unless an order of probate and a power of attorney were presented to it. Since then, Gisha has been handling the exhaustive bureaucratic battle to obtain an exit permit from Gaza for the Abu Saids so they can arrange those documents with their lawyer.
    The latest reply Gisha received from the liaison administration states that the Abu Said family’s request doesn’t meet the requirements for an exit permit from Gaza for legal purposes. The applicant for such a permit must show “exceptional humanitarian circumstances pertaining to the procedure and its consequences,” according to the liaison administration.
    This procedure was set down in 2013, following a legal battle by human rights groups against the tricks employed by the state to prevent courts from hearing damage claims filed by Gazan residents. The procedure requires proof of unusual humanitarian circumstances before an exit permit from Gaza for legal purposes will be granted, and empowers the liaison administration – in other words, the state, which is being sued – to determine whether unusual humanitarian circumstances have been proven by the plaintiff. The procedure fails to mention the signing of a power of attorney as a valid reason for granting an exit permit from Gaza.
    The State Prosecution applauded the 2013 procedure (which allows it to argue at international forums that Gazan residents have free access to Israeli courts). In December 2014 the High Court of Justice recommended that the state be given an opportunity to show that the process works, and rejected a petition arguing that this procedure effectively bars people from leaving Gaza. Last month Gisha filed an administrative petition to the district court, asking that the state allow members of the Abu Said family to sign a power of attorney for their lawyer at the Erez checkpoint.
    The bureaucratic war of attrition directed at the Abu Said family is not some bizarre harassment of one family. It is, rather, one of the ways the state pretends to uphold the law and human rights, while in fact deterring and intimidating potential Gazan plaintiffs who were injured in the past or who may be injured in the future by IDF attacks.


  • Mobilization wave comes up 13,000 men short
    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/mobilization-wave-comes-up-13000-men-short-396028.html

    Ukraine wound up the sixth part of its partial mobilization campaign on Aug. 17, and experts say it’s been the least successful one so far.

    Starting on June 19, the two-month long mobilization drafted only 60 percent of the targeted number of men into the Ukrainian army, or 13,000 out of a planned 25,000.

    The mobilization was not aimed at increasing the size of Ukraine’s army. Instead, paratroopers, tankmen and artillerymen who were called up for military service last year were to have been demobbed and replaced by fresh draftees.

    Experts blamed a fall in patriotism in Ukraine for the failure of the sixth mobilization.

    By the end of the six wave (of mobilization), the government had managed to call up only 13,000 out of 25,000 people,” said Mykola Sungurovsky, Director of Military Programs at the Razumkova Center non-governmental think tank. “If the government doesn’t want to take charge of the war, there’s no use asking the people to do it instead.


  • ’Israel Would Be Embarrassed if It Were Known It’s Selling Arms to These Countries’
    Itay Mack, a Jerusalem-based human rights lawyer and activist, seeks greater transparency and public oversight of Israel’s military exports.

    Ayelett Shani Aug 07, 2015
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.669852 Haaretz Daily Newspaper Israel News
    http://www.haaretz.com/beta/.premium-1.669852

    Analysis Who does Israel sell arms to? The Defense Ministry won’t tell
    Sisters in arms: The burgeoning defense trade between Israel and India
    Israeli arms exports down $1 billion in 2014
    Israel is known to be a powerhouse in military exports, but what does “military exports” actually mean?
    It’s a very broad term, encompassing arms and security equipment, as well as know-how, such as that involving combat doctrines or the training of militias and regular forces.
    As I understand it, we’re among the top 10 in the world in this regard.
    All countries engage in military exports. The problem is that Israel is involved in places that the United States and Europe decided to avoid exporting weapons to. We know Israel is selling arms to Azerbaijan, South Sudan and Rwanda. Israel is training units guarding presidential regimes in African states. According to reports, this is happening in Cameroon, Togo and Equatorial Guinea – nondemocratic states, some of them dictatorships, that kill, plunder and oppress their citizens.
    What is clear is that military exports are perhaps identified with Israel, but it’s not just government companies that are involved.

    Itay Mack.Gali Eytan
    There are a few huge government corporations that are active in this field, such as Rafael [Advanced Defense Systems]. The others are completely private companies, created to make money. There are more than 1,000 firms and more than 300 individuals licensed to deal with sales. All the companies are under the umbrella of the Defense Ministry, which must authorize their activity.
    I understand that there are several types of permits.
    There’s a budget “pie” that’s made up of states and others that want to buy arms. The Defense Ministry decides who gets the permits and how to divide the pie. Naturally, that’s done in accordance with its interests and those of its cronies. There’s concern about partiality here, as some of those involved [in requesting permits] are [former] senior Israel Defense Forces officers, former Defense Ministry employees and ex-politicians, or politicians who are taking a break from politics. In the end, the pie is divided among the old-boy network.
    So we can assume that supervision and enforcement are not strict.
    Out of a staff of some 30 employees at the Defense Export Controls Agency, there are only people in charge of examining the 400,000 annual permits. They are also responsible for ensuring that the recipients of the permits do not violate the terms. They are also supposed to oversee real-time developments on the ground, such as violent conflicts that might require the annulment or suspension of permits.
    So, does anyone know if there are violations?
    The state comptroller found that most of the enforcement of the terms is the result of companies informing on one another. There are about 160 violations [reported by the Defense Ministry] each year, of which only a few are investigated. There is administrative enforcement with negligible fines imposed. Criminal sanctions are not imposed and permits are not revoked – according to the information the ministry delivered to the Knesset. Effectively, DECA is customer service for exporters.
    For the same exclusive club.
    Right. Who has the courage to stand up to any of these former generals? And even if someone were to do this, the general would simply call someone higher up in the Defense Ministry and arrange things. Besides which, you can make money from arms exports without a permit, by being a go-between, as [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert claimed was done by [former Prime Minister] Ehud Barak. That’s where the really big money is.


  • Armed US Soldiers Arrested in Vienna Airport on Their Way to Ukraine
    http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150730/1025209858.html

    A few days ago, a group of American soldiers caused a security alert at Vienna’s Schwechat airport. The men were stopped while trying to travel with army weapons to Ukraine without any necessary permits, the newspaper wrote.

    The Austrian police had to intervene and remove the weapons. An investigation into the case was launched.

    The nine US soldiers were on their way from Washington to Ukraine, where they were to be deployed.

    “However, since there were problems with their connecting flight after a stopover in Schwechat, they had to rebook their flight and, therefore, leave the transit area,” Colonel Michael Bauer, Defense Ministry spokesman said.

    M16 assault rifles and pistols were discovered in the luggage of the American soldiers at a security checkpoint. The incident caused huge shock, because the weapons were not declared and registered and, thus, carried illegally.

    (Si l’Autriche fonctionne comme la France, le chef de l’État autrichien va téléphoner au Président américain pour s’excuser de la gêne occasionnée.)


  • Israel, Greece sign status of forces agreement - Israel News - Jerusalem Post
    http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-Greece-sign-status-of-forces-agreement-409492
    http://www.jpost.com/HttpHandlers/ShowImage.ashx?ID=293301

    Israel and Greece signed a status of forces accord in Tel Aviv on Sunday that offers legal defense to both militaries while training in the other’s country.

    Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos visited his Israeli counterpart Moshe Ya’alon at the Defense Ministry, where the accord was signed. Israel has only ever signed a similar accord with the US.

    #Big_Fat_Gros_Connards