position:major general

  • Egypt. Regeni lawyer discloses names of Egyptian suspects in murder case | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/12/06/feature/politics/regeni-lawyer-discloses-names-of-egyptian-suspects-in-murder-case

    The lawyer representing the family of Giulio Regeni says she has compiled a list of at least 20 people suspected of involvement in the death of the Italian PhD student, who was tortured and killed in Egypt nearly three years ago.

    Alessandra Ballerini made the comments at a press conference in Rome on Wednesday alongside Regeni’s parents and their supporters. She said the list was based on an extensive investigation with a legal team in Egypt, and that most of the suspects were generals and colonels in the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency (NSA).

    “It is very unlikely that President [Abdel Fattah al-]Sisi was unaware of what was going on,” Ballerini said.

    Regeni, a PhD candidate who was researching independent trade unions in Egypt, disappeared from a metro station on January 25, 2016 — the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution — while on his way to meet a friend in downtown Cairo. His body was found several days later, bearing marks of severe torture, on the side of a highway on the outskirts of the city.

    Among the names Ballerini identified were the five Egyptian security officials Rome prosecutors placed under official investigation on Tuesday. They include Major General Tarek Saber, a senior official at the NSA at the time of Regeni’s death, who retired in 2017; Major Sherif Magdy, who also served at the NSA where he was in charge of the team that placed Regini under surveillance; Colonel Hesham Helmy, who served at a security center in charge of policing the Cairo district where Regeni lived; Colonel Asser Kamal, who was the head of a police department in charge of street works and discipline; and junior police officer Mahmoud Negm, according to the Associated Press.

    “These people should fear being arrested when they travel abroad because they murdered an Italian citizen,” Ballerini said.


  • Egypt. Regeni lawyer discloses names of Egyptian suspects in murder case | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/12/06/feature/politics/regeni-lawyer-discloses-names-of-egyptian-suspects-in-murder-case

    The lawyer representing the family of Giulio Regeni says she has compiled a list of at least 20 people suspected of involvement in the death of the Italian PhD student, who was tortured and killed in Egypt nearly three years ago.

    Alessandra Ballerini made the comments at a press conference in Rome on Wednesday alongside Regeni’s parents and their supporters. She said the list was based on an extensive investigation with a legal team in Egypt, and that most of the suspects were generals and colonels in the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency (NSA).

    “It is very unlikely that President [Abdel Fattah al-]Sisi was unaware of what was going on,” Ballerini said.

    Regeni, a PhD candidate who was researching independent trade unions in Egypt, disappeared from a metro station on January 25, 2016 — the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution — while on his way to meet a friend in downtown Cairo. His body was found several days later, bearing marks of severe torture, on the side of a highway on the outskirts of the city.

    Among the names Ballerini identified were the five Egyptian security officials Rome prosecutors placed under official investigation on Tuesday. They include Major General Tarek Saber, a senior official at the NSA at the time of Regeni’s death, who retired in 2017; Major Sherif Magdy, who also served at the NSA where he was in charge of the team that placed Regini under surveillance; Colonel Hesham Helmy, who served at a security center in charge of policing the Cairo district where Regeni lived; Colonel Asser Kamal, who was the head of a police department in charge of street works and discipline; and junior police officer Mahmoud Negm, according to the Associated Press.

    “These people should fear being arrested when they travel abroad because they murdered an Italian citizen,” Ballerini said.


  • Israel Sabotages Ceasefire Talks, Assassinating Hamas Commander, IDF Senior Commander Also Killed - Tikun Olam תיקון עולם

    https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2018/11/12/israel-sabotages-ceasefire-talks-assassinating-hamas-commander-i

    Today, IDF commandos invaded Gaza in a night-time raid and murdered seven Hamas operatives, including the commander responsible for the tunnel defense system maintained by the Islamist rulers of the enclave.  According to various media sources, the raid was exposed and Palestinian militants fought back fiercely.  In order to free the IDF forces, the Israelis had to lay down a massive drone and air attack which permitted them to withdraw back to Israel.

    Israeli senior IDF officer killed Gaza
    The Israeli military censor has prohibited domestic media naming the Israeli commando who was killed. But an Israeli source has informed me he is Lt. Col. Mahmoud Kheireddine from the Druze village of Hurfeish. Another officer who was wounded is from Isfiya.  They both served in Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s equivalent of the Navy SEALs. Kheireddine was deputy commander of the unit.  Given the death of so high-ranking an IDF officer, something went terribly wrong on this mission.

    In response, Hamas has launched missiles into southern Israel and driven hundreds of thousands into air raid shelters.  Once again, just as both sides thought they might be close to a ceasefire and/or a prisoner exchange, Israel rescued defeat from the jaws and victory and almost guaranteed a new escalation, if not war, against Gaza.

    A former IDF general has suggested that the raid was not an assassination attempt, but an attempt to capture the Hamas commander:

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Tal Russo, a former commander of the IDF Southern Command, indicated that the operation was likely an intelligence-gathering mission gone wrong, rather than an assassination.


  • Israel is indirectly cooperating with The Hague’s probe into 2014 Gaza war despite past criticism

    International Criminal Court’s criminal investigation into Israel’s actions in the Strip could lead to a wave of lawsuits against those involved and even to their arrest abroad

    Yaniv Kubovich
    Nov 11, 2018 9:49 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-is-indirectly-cooperating-with-the-hague-s-probe-into-2014-

    Over the last few months Israel has been transferring material to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is examining whether war crimes were committed in the Gaza Strip. According to defense sources, the material relates to events that took place during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Israel-Gaza war. The ICC is also looking into the demonstrations along the Gaza border fence that began on March 30.
    In the past, Israel sharply criticized the court, saying that it had no authority to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, there is concern in the political and military echelons that the court will open a criminal investigation into Israel’s actions in the Strip, a process that could lead to a wave of lawsuits against those involved and even to their arrest abroad.
    >>Rising terrorism in West Bank overshadows optimism around Gaza-Israel deal | Analysis 
    In the last few months, diplomatic, military and legal officials have held discussions, some of them attended by the prime minister, to prepare for the court’s initial findings regarding the 2014 Gaza war. Toward that end, Israel has begun using third parties to transfer documents to the court that could bolster its stance and influence the examination team, which until now has been exposed mainly to the evidence presented by the Palestinian side.

    Demonstration near the Gaza border, November 9, 2018. Adel Hana/AP
    Military advocate general Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek has presented material regarding Israel’s response to the demonstrations in Gaza, but defense sources say these have been for internal use only and have not been passed on to the ICC or to any other body.
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    The sources say Israel has made a distinction between the two subjects of the court’s examination: While Israel is not cooperating with the ICC on its probe of incidents at the Gaza fence, it is already holding indirect discussions with the court over Operation Protective Edge.

    Last April the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that violence against civilians could be considered an international crime, as might the use of civilians as a cover for military operations. She added that the situation in Palestine was under investigation. She warned that the court was following events in Gaza, and emphasized that guidelines for opening fire at demonstrators could be considered a crime under international law.

    Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, August 28, 2017. Bas Czerwinski/Pool via REUTERS
    Officials told Haaretz that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to postpone the evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar came after Israel realized that such a move could influence Bensouda, who said she would not hesitate to use her authority with regard to the village. Last month, Bensouda said she was watching with concern the plan to evacuate the West Bank Bedouin community and that a forced evacuation would lead to violence, adding that the needless destruction of property and transfer of populations in occupied territories are a war crime, based on the Treaty of Rome. She linked the planned evacuation to events in Gaza, saying she was concerned by the ongoing violence for which both sides are responsible.

    FILE Photo: The West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar, September 25, 2018. Emil Salman

    Yaniv Kubovich
    Haaretz Correspondent


  • Ashton Kutcher and Pharrell Williams among Stars and Supporters at FIDF Western Region Gala Chaired by Haim and Cheryl Saban
    https://apnews.com/1a1a0238562c4b93bd1c74b2cb5f5e4e

    For the 12 th year, FIDF National Board Member and major supporter Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, chaired the star-studded gala. Guests included prominent business, philanthropic, and political leaders and celebrated names in entertainment, fashion, sports, and technology, including Ashton Kutcher; Pharrell Williams; Gerard Butler; Andy Garcia; Fran Drescher; Ziggy Marley; David Foster; Katharine McPhee; David Draiman; A. C. Green; Ralph Sampson; Robert Horry; Josh Flag; Israeli actress and star of hit Netflix show FaudaRona-Lee Shim’on; Israeli actor Yaakov Zada Daniel, also of Fauda and an FIDF IMPACT! scholarship recipient; Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg; business magnates and philanthropists Dr.Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, Serge Azria, and Florence Azria; Managing Member of R.H. Book LLC and Chairman of Jet Support Services Inc.  Robert Book and his wife,  Amy; Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his wife, Joelle; GUESS Founders  Maurice  and  Paul Marciano; FIDF National Chairman Rabbi PeterWeintraub; FIDF National President RobertCohen; FIDF National Board Member and Western Region President Tony Rubin and his wife, Linda; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; and FIDF Western Region Executive Director Jenna Griffin.


  • ‘Criminal negligence’ or disregard to Russia-Israel ties : MoD details chronology of Il-20 downing — RT World News
    https://www.rt.com/news/439151-russia-israel-il-20-negligence

    A minute-by-minute account of the Il-20 downing shows Israel’s culpability and either its military bosses’ lack of appreciation of relations with Moscow, or their control of commanding officers, the Russian defense ministry said.

    We believe that the blame for the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force,” said spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, before revealing a detailed account of events leading to the downing of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft on September 17. The plane was shot down by the Syrian air defense units as Israeli’s F-16s effectively used it as a cover during the attack on its neighbor.

    The report featured previously undisclosed radar data and details of communications between Russian and Israeli militaries, and concluded that “the military leadership of Israel either has no appreciation for the level of relations with Russia, or has no control over individual commands or commanding officers who understood that their actions would lead to tragedy.

    On the evening of September 17, the Russian Ilyushin IL-20 with 15 crew on board was circling over the Idlib de-escalation zone on a special reconnaissance mission, when four Israeli F-16 fighter jets left their country’s airspace and flew over the neutral Mediterranean waters towards the Syrian coast. The Israeli Air Force gave the Russian side less than a minute’s warning before dropping the precision-guided glide bombs, leaving virtually no time for any safety maneuvers, Konashenkov said, calling such actions “a clear violation of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements.

    Moreover, the Israeli military failed to provide the location of their jets or properly specify their targets, claiming they were going to attack several ’industrial facilities’ in northern Syria, close to the Il-20’s area of operation. The misinformation prompted the Russian Command to order the recon plane back to the Khmeimim air base. The Israeli jets, however, instead almost immediately attacked the western Syrian Latakia province.

    • RUSSIA’S IL-20 DOWNING RESPONSE - THIS IS WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN NEXT - Fort Russ
      (article paru avant la conférence de presse du ministère de la Défense russe)
      https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/09/russias-il-20-downing-response-this-is-what-needs-to-happen-next

      It would seem that there were two significant contributory factors here: i) the Israeli ‘bad-faith’ abrogation of the proper protocols for communication between themselves and the Russian Military, in order to attain a deliberate advantage for carrying out their attack; and ii) the regrettable features of outmoded air-defence hardware which ultimately lead to the shoot-down.

      The solution to the second issue is rather straightforward: Russia had earlier proposed selling S-400 systems to Syria – a move which wound up effectively ‘veto’d’ by Israel stating in no uncertain terms that they would carry out airstrikes against any such systems before they had been fully installed, regardless of whether they were still Russian crewed at that point. Given Israeli airstrikes are presently causing Russian casualties anyway; as well as the fact that the Russians have already had their own advanced SAM systems for Russian defence set up in Syria for some time now, in the present situation of Israeli diplomatic weakness created by Monday’s events, now is the ideal time to engage in such technology-transfer directly to Syria with an explicit view to ensuring that Monday’s events do not recur thanks to half-century old hardware malfunctioning.

      The first issue is much more complex, as I would be rather surprised if Russia genuinely wanted to seriously contemplate abandoning its significantly close relationship with Israel – although it may potentially be convinced to ‘downgrade’ it somewhat, assuming that we do not see a repeat of what happened following Turkey’s downing of a Russian military aircraft in 2015 (ironically, a seeming catalyst for the two countries beginning to work more closely together than ever before). Whether Russia chooses to remain on ‘friendly’ ‘terms with Israel in a militaristic sense or not, the plain reality is that the Israelis have demonstrated that they cannot and should not be trusted to behave in an up-front manner when it comes to the communication and co-ordination protocols essential to allowing them to continue to operate with relative impunity above Syrian airspace.

      Russia should therefore suspend this facility they have provided to the Israelis forthwith – and openly state that future instances of Israeli military aircraft turning up unannounced above Syria will simply be treated as hostile, and dealt with accordingly. After all, from the perspective of that IL-20 crew, what else characterizes the Israeli conduct than this designation? Certainly not the actions of something approaching a ‘trusted’ ally! The net effect of this would be to impose a ‘no-fly zone’ of sorts over Syria – thus allowing operational freedom for Russian and Syrian air assets, and denying precious, vital air-cover to the extremist forces which theoretically everybody agrees need to be wiped out.

    • Avec, au passage, l’utile rappel de la possibilité de perte de contrôle des vieux missiles anti-aériens S-200.
      C’était il y a longtemps, le 4/10/2001 époque où il y avait encore des manœuvres communes russo-ukrainiennes.

      Vol 1812 Siberia Airlines — Wikipédia
      https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vol_1812_Siberia_Airlines

      Un rapport préliminaire russe confirma les évaluations de responsables militaires américains faites à titre privé : le missile S-200 avait dépassé sa cible téléguidée qui avait été détruite avec succès par un S-300 tiré au même moment. Au lieu de s’autodétruire, le missile S-200 prit pour cible le long courrier qui se trouvait à près de 200 kilomètres ; le projectile explosa en projetant des billes d’acier (shrapnel) 15 mètres au-dessus de l’avion.

      Les responsables militaires ukrainiens nièrent d’abord que leur missile avait abattu l’avion ; ils déclarèrent que le S-200 avait été lancé vers la mer et qu’il avait réussi à s’autodétruire. Le porte-parole du ministère de la Défense Konstantin Khivrenko affirma que « ni la direction ni la portée (des missiles) ne correspondaient à l’endroit réel ou théorique où l’avion avait explosé. » Toutefois, les responsables ukrainiens admirent par la suite que c’était bien leur armée qui avait abattu l’avion de ligne.


  • Secret Israeli Report Reveals Armed Drone Killed Four Boys Playing on Gaza Beach in 2014
    Robert Mackey | August 11 2018, 10:09 a.m.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/11/israel-palestine-drone-strike-operation-protective-edge

    A confidential report by Israeli military police investigators seen by The Intercept explains how a tragic series of mistakes by air force, naval, and intelligence officers led to an airstrike in which four Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014 were killed by missiles launched from an armed drone.

    Testimony from the officers involved in the attack, which has been concealed from the public until now, confirms for the first time that the children — four cousins ages 10 and 11 — were pursued and killed by drone operators who somehow mistook them, in broad daylight, for Hamas militants. (...)

    https://seenthis.net/messages/276558

    • 10 questions on secret Israeli report over 2014 killing of four children on Gaza beach
      Haaretz.Com
      https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-10-questions-on-secret-report-over-killing-of-four-kids-on-gaza-be
      Mordechai Kremnitzer | Aug. 13, 2018 | 10:03 PM | 3

      The secret investigation report on the killing of four Palestinian children on the Gaza beach in 2014, part of which was published on the website The Intercept and whose essentials were reported in Monday’s Haaretz, raises a lot of questions. The confidential Israeli military police report reveals that the attack on July 16, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, was carried out by a drone and stemmed from an intelligence failure.

      No one disputes that Ismail Bakr, 9, Ahad and Zakaria Bakr, both 10, and Mohammed Bakr, 11, were not involved in hostile actions against Israel. Therefore, there was no justification for firing at them twice with a drone and certainly not to kill them. The report also shows that those involved in the decisions and actions that led to the boys’ killing thought that the four were Hamas operatives and were not aware that they were children.

      Despite signs pointing to negligence, at the very least, the previous military advocate-general, Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Efroni, closed the case without taking any legal or disciplinary steps against those involved. This decision stood even after Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, petitioned the attorney general, who has yet to respond.

      The central question is whether the error that was the basis for the Israel Defense Force’s actions was reasonable or not. Based on the answer to this question, one can determine whether the military advocate-general’s decision was justified or mistaken and negligent. We cannot pass judgment on Efroni’s decision without access to the investigation file and its full conclusions. However, questions arise that require a response.

      1. Was the investigation effective and thorough? For example, shouldn’t testimony have been taken from the journalists who saw the incident from the beach? An external perspective could have been critical in assessing the nature of the compound in which the children were seen, and the issue of the firing itself.

      2. The army acted on the assumption that the jetty on which the children were seen had previously served Hamas’ naval commandos. The day before the firing incident, the compound had been bombed by the IDF. Didn’t the bombing require a reevaluation about the nature of the place and the identity of anyone found there? After the structure was bombed, there were no secondary explosions heard, casting doubt on the initial conclusion that it had been used as a weapons depot. According to witnesses, after the bombing a new situation existed. There were no guards stationed at the entrance to the compound, it’s possible that the gate that surrounded it had been destroyed, and it was clear to Hamas that the site was an IDF target. All this indicates that a reevaluation would have pointed to a reasonable possibility that those the IDF had identified on the day the drone fired weren’t Hamas operatives but civilians (not necessarily children). If this possibility wasn’t raised, wasn’t that a negligent blunder? According to the testimonies, the question if the compound was open only to Hamas operatives or whether civilians also had access was raised with intelligence in real time. It isn’t clear what happened to that question. If this possibility was not discounted, it would have been correct to examine the responsibility of the soldiers involved in the killing.

      3. After the first shooting, the drone operators who fired asked for clarification as to the borders of the compound. But around half a minute afterward, before the question was answered, there was a second round of fire that killed three of the boys. Shouldn’t the operators have waited for an answer?

      4. All those involved declared that they could not identify the figures seen in the compound as children. The conclusion of the investigation was that it was impossible to discern that these were children, although the incident occurred in broad daylight. Two days earlier, however, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office had praised the ability of drone operators to identify potential targets under surveillance as children and thus avoid attacking them at the last moment. This is puzzling. If it’s not possible to distinguish the age of those being shot at, that is, it’s possible to shoot at children without being aware of it, were those involved in the shooting being overly reliant on the means at their disposal? Would it not have been appropriate to use additional means of observation? Was the possibility that the figures were civilians, or even children, not enough of a reason to refrain from firing? Under international law, in cases of doubt one is required to assume that the people are civilians. It should be noted that the soldiers did not claim that the figures had been identified as carrying weapons or as posing a significant threat to our forces.

      5. How is it possible to reconcile the testimony of the air force officer who coordinated the attacks, who said this is a highly unusual case in which the intelligence information was completely different from the facts on the ground, and the legal conclusion that there was no fault in the actions of those involved? If the intelligence presented was inaccurate, isn’t there a flaw in the structure of the division of responsibility between different parties such that it is impossible to hold anyone personally responsible? Do the accepted standards of skill, responsibility and caution not apply to Military Intelligence? Has chalking things up to an “intelligence mistake” become a way to whitewash prohibited and unjustified killings?

      6. Have all the operational and intelligence lessons, as well as the cognitive and moral ones, been learned so as to prevent similar incidents in the future?

      7. Doesn’t this incident offer support for the concerns raised regarding the use of drones, which can dull human sensitivity?

      8. Did the legal decision-makers use the reversal test – what would we say if it had been our children and the enemy had been the one to make the decisions and carry out those actions?

      9. Were the minimal humane steps taken, like an apology and compensation, steps that even an army that was not the most moral in the world would take?

      10. Does not the thesis that anyone suspected of being a Hamas operative is a legitimate target, even when he is not carrying a weapon and does not pose a risk to our forces, border on extrajudicial execution, which is prohibited by international law? Does it not create an unreasonable risk to the lives of civilians who must be protected, a risk that was actualized in the case of these four children?


  • Two Palestinians killed during Israeli shelling in Gaza
    Aug. 7, 2018 11:55 A.M. (Updated : Aug. 7, 2018 5:02 P.M.)
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=780629

    GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Two Palestinians were killed on Tuesday morning during an Israeli shelling targeting a Hamas military post in the northern besieged Gaza Strip.

    Local witnesses confirmed that the Israeli artillery fired two shells targeting a Hamas military post in northern Gaza killing two Palestinians.

    The two Palestinians were pronounced dead on the site before being transferred to the Indonesian Hospital.

    Witnesses identified the two killed Palestinians as Ahmad Murjan and Abed al-Hafez al-Silawi.

    Sources confirmed that Murjan and al-Silawi were members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement.

    Abed al-Hafez al-Silawi
    Ahmad Murjan

    “““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

    Israeli Army Kills Two Palestinian Fighters In Gaza
    August 7, 2018 9:20 PM
    http://imemc.org/article/israeli-army-kills-two-palestinian-fighters-in-gaza

    Al-Qassam said the two fighters, Ahmad Abdullah Morjan, 23, and Abdul-Hafeth Mohammad Seelawi, 23, where killed in an Israeli bombardment in northern Gaza.

    It stated that the two fighters were part of a military training in “Asqalan” center, one of its training locations in northern Gaza, and that many Palestinians, including political leaders of Hamas, were in attendance.

    Al-Qassam said that the training including the use of sniper fire, and explosives, and the fighters were practicing techniques when the Israeli army fired a shell at them, killing the two fighters.

    “Israel is coming up with false allegations to justify its serious crime,” Al-Qassam said, “We hold the occupation fully responsible for this attack.”

    The Israeli army said the two Palestinians “opened fire at Israeli soldiers,” and published a video of the two fighters reportedly firing at soldiers, while Hamas said the allegation has no basis, as the fighters were training, and firing fixed targets.

    #Palestine_assassinée

    • Army officials say gunfire from Hamas post may not have targeted soldiers
      By TOI staff 7 August 2018, 1:49 pm
      https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-august-7-2018

      Two Hamas fighters killed in IDF retaliatory strike; but military now acknowledges Hamas fighters may have been taking part in a drill, as terror group has claimed

      8:30 pm
      IDF admits it misinterpreted gunfire from Hamas post, struck back in error
      https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/idf-admits-it-misinterpreted-gunfire-from-hamas-post-struck-back-in-e

      The IDF acknowledges that the Hamas shooting that led to a deadly IDF retaliatory strike earlier today did not target IDF troops.

      Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the head of the army’s Southern Command, concluded the IDF strike was made in error, as the snipers, part of Hamas’s naval commando unit, were not shooting — as the army believed in real-time — at a border fence patrol of the Rotem battalion of the Givati infantry brigade. The shooting was part of a drill being observed by senior Hamas leaders in the northern Gaza Strip.

      The army has sent messages to Hamas via Egypt acknowledging the error but insisting that retaliatory fire on IDF troops would not be tolerated.


  • Anonymous snipers and a lethal verdict

    We may never know the name of the soldier who killed Razan al-Najjar. But we do know the names of those who gave the order enabling him to kill her

    Amira Hass Jun 05, 2018

    Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-anonymous-snipers-and-a-lethal-verdict-1.6151967

    We know her name: Razan al-Najjar. But what’s his? What’s the name of the soldier who killed her, with direct fire to the chest last Friday? We don’t know, and we probably won’t ever know.
    In contrast to the Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis, the Israeli who killed Najjar is protected from exposure to the cameras and an in-depth breakdown of his family history, including his relatives’ participation in routine attacks on Palestinians as part of their military service or their political affiliation.
    Demanding Israeli microphones will not be pushed into his face with probing questions: Didn’t you see she was wearing a paramedic’s white robe when you aimed at her chest?
    Didn’t you see her hair covered with a head scarf? Do your rules of engagement require you to shoot at paramedics, men and women as well, and at a distance of about 100 meters (some 330 feet) from the border fence? Did you shoot at her legs (why?) and miss because you’re useless? Are you sorry? Do you sleep well at night? Did you tell your girlfriend it was you who killed a young woman the same age as her? Was Najjar your first?
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    The anonymity of our soldiers picking off and killing Palestinians is an inseparable part of the culture of Israeli impunity. We are above it all. Immune from everything. Allowing an anonymous soldier to kill a young paramedic with a bullet that hit her in the chest, exiting from her back, and continuing on with our lives.
    >> ’We die anyway, so let it be in front of the cameras’: Conversations with Gazans
    There are lots of pictures of Najjar on the internet: She stood out as one of the few women among the first aid teams operating at the “March of Return” protest sites since March 30.
    After two years’ training, she volunteered for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. She happily gave interviews, including to The New York Times’ correspondent in Gaza, speaking about the ability of women to act under difficult conditions no less so than men – and even better than them. She knew how dangerous her job was. A paramedic was killed by Israel Defense Forces fire on May 14, dozens of others were injured and suffocated as they ran to rescue the wounded.
    Najjar, 21 at the time of her death, was from the village of Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis. In interviews, she was not asked about the wars and Israeli military attacks during her childhood and later. It is hard to find their scars in her pleasant face seen on screen. In every interview, she is seen wrapped in a head scarf of a different color – and each time it is wrapped around her head stylishly, meticulously, showing an investment of time and thought. The color reveals a love for life, despite all she had gone through.
    We do not know the name of the soldier, but we do know who is in the chain of command that ordered and enabled him to kill a 21-year-old paramedic: Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, both of whom approved the wording of the rules of engagement, as the High Court justices were told before they denied petitions against the shooting at protesters along the border fence.
    Despite all the testimony about civilian fatalities and horrifying injuries, the justices chose to believe what they were told in the name of the military by Avi Milikovsky, a lawyer from the State Prosecutor’s Office: The use of potentially lethal force is taken only as a last resort, in a proportionate manner and to the minimal extent required.
    Please explain how this tallies with the death of Najjar, who was treating a man injured directly by a tear-gas canister. An eyewitness told The New York Times that while the injured man was being taken to an ambulance, her colleagues were treating her because she was suffering the effects of the tear gas. Then shots were heard and Najjar fell.
    High Court Justices Esther Hayut, Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel presented the army with an exemption from investigation and an exemption from criticism on a silver platter. In doing so, they joined the chain of command that ordered our anonymous soldier to fire at the chest of the paramedic and kill her.


  • Anonymous #Snipers and a Lethal Verdict
    https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-anonymous-snipers-and-a-lethal-verdict-1.6151967

    We do not know the name of the soldier, but we do know who is in the chain of command that ordered and enabled him to kill a 21-year-old paramedic: Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, both of whom approved the wording of the rules of engagement, as the High Court justices were told before they denied petitions against the shooting at protesters along the border fence.

    Despite all the testimony about civilian fatalities and horrifying injuries, the justices chose to believe what they were told in the name of the military by Avi Milikovsky, a lawyer from the State Prosecutor’s Office: The use of potentially lethal force is taken only as a last resort, in a proportionate manner and to the minimal extent required.

    Please explain how this tallies with the death of Najjar, who was treating a man injured directly by a tear-gas canister. An eyewitness told The New York Times that while the injured man was being taken to an ambulance, her colleagues were treating her because she was suffering the effects of the tear gas. Then shots were heard and Najjar fell.

    High Court Justices Esther Hayut, Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel presented the army with an exemption from investigation and an exemption from criticism on a silver platter. In doing so, they joined the chain of command that ordered our anonymous soldier to fire at the chest of the paramedic and kill her.

    #Israel #crimes#villa_dans_la_jungle#assassins #meurtres #impunité#nos_valeurs


  • Russia says only Syrian army should be on country’s southern border with Israel

    Israel believes Russia may agree to withdrawing Iranian forces and allied Shi’ite militias from Israel-Syria border

    Noa Landau and Reuters May 28, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/syria/russia-says-only-syrian-army-should-be-on-country-s-southern-border-1.61198

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that only Syrian government troops should have a presence on the country’s southern border which is close to Jordan and Israel, the RIA news agency reported.
    Lavrov was cited as making the comments at a joint news conference in Moscow with Jose Condungua Pacheco, his counterpart from Mozambique.
    Meanwhile, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will leave on Wednesday for a short visit to Russia. He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shvigo, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. Lieberman is expected to discuss with his hosts the recent events in the Middle East, primarily the tension between Israel and Iran over the Iranian military presence in Syria.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the Knesset Monday, saying that “there is no room for any Iranian military presence in any part of Syria.”
    Lieberman said that “these things, of course, reflect not only our position, I can safely say that they reflect the positions of others in the Middle East and beyond the Middle East.”
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    On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Israeli political and military officials believe Russia is willing to discuss a significant distancing of Iranian forces and allied Shi’ite militias from the Israel-Syria border, according to Israeli officials.
    The change in Russia’s position has become clearer since Israel’s May 10 military clash with Iran in Syria and amid Moscow’s concerns that further Israeli moves would threaten the stability of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
    Russia recently renewed efforts to try to get the United States involved in agreements that would stabilize Syria. The Russians might be willing to remove the Iranians from the Israeli border, though not necessarily remove the forces linked to them from the whole country.
    Last November, Russia and the United States, in coordination with Jordan, forged an agreement to decrease the possibility of friction in southern Syria, after the Assad regime defeated rebel groups in the center of the country. Israel sought to keep the Iranians and Shi’ite militias at least 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights, east of the Damascus-Daraa road (or, according to another version, east of the Damascus-Suwayda road, about 70 kilometers from the border).

    FILE – Iran’s Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, in Aleppo, Syria, in photo provided October 20, 2017/AP
    According to Israeli intelligence, in Syria there are now around 2,000 Iranian officers and advisers, members of the Revolutionary Guards, around 9,000 Shi’ite militiamen from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and around 7,000 Hezbollah fighters. Israel believes that the Americans are now in a good position to reach a more effective arrangement in Syria in coordination with the Russians under the slogan “Without Iran and without ISIS.”
    The United States warned Syria on Friday it would take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to ceasefire violations, saying it was concerned about reports of an impending military operation in a de-escalation zone in the country’s southwest.
    Washington also cautioned Assad against broadening the conflict.
    “As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement late on Friday.
    A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported on Wednesday that Syrian government forces fresh from their victory this week against an Islamic State pocket in south Damascus were moving into the southern province of Deraa.
    Syrian state-run media have reported that government aircraft have dropped leaflets on rebel-held areas in Deraa urging fighters to disarm.
    The U.S. warning comes weeks after a similar attack on a de-escalation zone in northeastern Syria held by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. U.S. ground and air forces repelled the more than four-hour attack, killing perhaps as many as 300 pro-Assad militia members, many of them Russian mercenaries.
    Backed by Russian warplanes, ground forces from Iran and allied militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have helped Assad drive rebels from Syria’s biggest cities, putting him in an unassailable military position.


  • L’armée israélienne montre avec fierté un F-35 survolant Beyrouth. (Je te rappelle qu’il suffit pour un Libanais d’approcher la frontière israélienne avec des moutons pour être traité de terroriste. L’armée israélienne se montrant en train de survoler la capitale du Liban, en revanche…)
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/this-is-the-israeli-army-s-photo-of-an-f-35-over-beirut-1.6114446

    Pictures of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying over Beirut were shown on the Wednesday night broadcast of Israel Television News.

    On Tuesday, Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said Israel is the first country in the world to carry out an “operational attack” with the F-35 jet. Norkin was speaking at a three-day conference organized by the IAF in Herzliya, to which senior officers from air forces from all over the world were invited.

    The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the military was not behind the release of the pictures and they were not intended for publication.

    At the conference, Norkin presented images of the F-35 in the skies over Beirut and said that the stealth fighter did not participate in the most recent strike in Syria, but did in two previous attacks.


  • ’Shoot anyone breaching the fence’: Israeli army gears up for Gaza mass protest -
    Israeli army calling up snipers and extra soldiers to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration ■ Defense officials certain army can prevent Palestinian from crossing Gaza border

    Yaniv Kubovich Mar 29, 2018 10:07 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-army-gears-up-for-gaza-mass-protest-1.5957896

    The defense establishment believes that the army will succeed in preventing Gazans from crossing the border into Israel during the March of Return scheduled for Friday, even if that means Palestinian deaths.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Defense officials said Gaza residents do not seem eager to take part in the event, but Hamas is making efforts to bring as many of them as possible to the fence on Friday. As a result, the troops may have to deal with a particularly large demonstration.
    <<This Friday, Israel’s Tear Gas and Tanks Will Confront Palestinian Marchers. But Brute Force Can’t Be Israel’s Only Answer |Opinion

    A Palestinian poster calling for people to join ’The Great March of Return’ on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, March 30 2018
    Over the last few days the Israel Defense Forces has warned that it would open fire on anyone who tries to breach the border fence and enter Israel.
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    The IDF has brought a brigade, snipers and soldiers from various courses, to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration. The snipers have been instructed to shoot demonstrators who breach the fence.
    In a ceremony marking a change of Military Intelligence commanders on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said that the situation in Gaza is “highly explosive” and “threatens to damage the sensitive life fabric and safety of the region’s residents.”

    <<Israel’s Defense Minister Says There’s No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza. Here Are the Facts<<
    Eizenkot visited the Gaza division several times this week to supervise the preparations. On Wednesday he and Shin Bet chief Argaman presented to the cabinet ministers preparations and intelligence evaluations ahead of the events, noting that stopping the Palestinians from crossing the fence and entering Israel was the troops’ main task.
    They also presented a scenario in which a large crowd comes to the tent compound on the other side of the fence. The assessment is that the army will manage to handle the event, though possibly only at the cost of Palestinian fatalities.

    ’Grandfather, we will return soon’ - Palestinian poster ahead of ’The Great Return March’
    On Wednesday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, warned the Palestinian bus companies slated to carry demonstrators to the fence that their entry permits would be revoked.
    “We contacted more than 20 bus companies in Gaza, who were paid by Hamas to take people to violent demonstrations and warned that we’ll take personal steps against their owners,” he said.
    Preparations for Friday’s event come in the wake of growing tension along the Gaza border and several attempts — some successful — to cross it.
    On Wednesday, the army struck two Hamas observation posts in the northern Gaza Strip after two Palestinians set a fire near the border fence. The suspects did not cross into Israel.
    Also Wednesday, a Palestinian from Gaza was arrested on the Zikim beach in Israel near the Gaza border and taken in for questioning. He was unarmed.
    On Tuesday, three Palestinians, armed with grenades and knives, were found and arrested after infiltrating 20 kilometers into Israeli territory. On Saturday, Israel struck Hamas targets after four Palestinians carrying bottles filled with flammable material approached the fence on foot and managed to cross the border into Israel near Kibbutz Kissufim.
    The army also said it will impose a closure on the West Bank and Gaza crossings for the duration of the Passover holiday. The closure will begin Thursday at midnight and be lifted on Saturday, April 7. The army added that passage will be allowed for humanitarian and medical cases, pending approval by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.


  • EU, Norway to convene emergency meeting of donor groups providing Palestinians financial aid - Europe -

    The conference, to be held on January 31, is being held against the backdrop of a U.S. threat to cut funding to the Palestinians and a stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

    Noa Landau Jan 10, 2018
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1.834111

    The European Union and Norway will be convening an emergency meeting of donor groups that provide funding for the Palestinians.
    >>Why a big wave of European countries recognizing Palestine is fast approaching | David Makovsky, Opinion
    The gathering is being held against the backdrop of the crisis in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the American threat to cut financial assistance to the Palestinians and the stalled reconciliation process between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The gathering will also examine the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
    Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai will be representing Israel at the conference, which will take place on January 31 at the initiative of Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
    U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding to the Palestinians if they don’t return to the negotiating table. Among the possibilities is cutting U.S. funding to UNRWA, which is more than $300 million a year – about a third of the agency’s budget.
    A senior Israeli official has told Haaretz that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only supports a gradual cut. This comes in the context of Israeli security officials’ position that a collapse of humanitarian aid in Gaza could worsen the security situation.

    Noa Landau
    Haaretz Correspondent


  • Israel sets up secret firm with top ex-generals, envoys for online ’mass awareness’ campaign ’to fight delegitimization’

    Among the shareholders are former UN ambassador Dore Gold and ex-generals Amos Yadlin and Yaakov Amidror. The new initiative will not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law

    Noa Landau Jan 09, 2018 3:26 PM
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.833817

    The Strategic Affairs Ministry has set up a public-benefit corporation to engage in what it calls “mass awareness activities” as part of “the struggle against the delegitimization campaign” against Israel internationally.
    Haaretz has obtained a list of the shareholders and directors of the company, Kella Shlomo, who include former Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations.
    The government recently allocated 128 million shekels ($37 million) to the initiative, in addition to the 128 million shekels it will raise from private donors around the world.
    The new initiative will not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law, in accordance with the secrecy policy of the ministry, which refuses to release detailed information about its activities.
    The shareholders and directors include former ministry director general Yossi Kuperwasser; former UN ambassador Dore Gold, who is also a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and former UN ambassador Ron Prosor.

    Reuven Rivlin with Amos Yadlin. Mark Neiman

    FILE PHOTO: Protestors march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, southern France, on June 13, 2015George Robert / AP
    They also include businessman Micah Avni, whose father, Richard Lakin, was killed in a 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem; Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute for National Security Studies; and Col. (res.) Miri Eisin, who served as the prime minister’s adviser on the foreign press during the Second Lebanon War.
    skip - Israel Publishes BDS Blacklist

    Also on the list are a former National Security Council chief, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, and Sagi Balasha, a former CEO of the Israeli-American Council, which has casino magnate Sheldon Adelson as a major supporter.

    Most refused to discuss the initiative and referred questions to the office of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.
    The most recent data from the Companies Authority shows that the last report the company submitted to the authority came this past October. On December 28, the cabinet approved an allocation of 128 million shekels to the company over three years. The decision to provide the funding was made by the special procedure under which a government resolution is distributed to the ministers and goes into effect automatically if no one objects or demands a discussion.
    According to the government resolution, the funding was granted “to implement part of the ministry’s activities related to the struggle against the phenomena of delegitimization and boycotts against the State of Israel.” It says the agency will work to raise its portion of the financing for the initiative (around half) from “philanthropic sources” or “pro-Israel organizations.” A steering committee will be appointed for the initiative to comprise government representatives and representatives of the other funding partners.

    Ron Prosor at the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon oath ceremony forr his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for second termShachar Ezran
    Itamar Baz of the media watchdog website The Seventh Eye has been covering the Strategic Affairs Ministry, most of whose activities are concealed from the public. He reported Monday that while ministry officials have for months been advancing legislation that would exclude the company from being subject to the Freedom of Information Law, the law in any case does not apply to this new agency so its activities will be easy to hide.
    He also revealed that Liat Glazer, the ministry’s legal adviser, wrote in a legal opinion that the activities conducted through the company would be “those that require ‘non-governmental’ discussions with various target audiences.”
    According to a ministry document, Kella Shlomo people would work via social networks because “the enemy directs most of its awareness and motivating efforts to this area.” Similarly, the document, published by The Seventh Eye, says the organization was expected to carry out “mass awareness activities” and work to “exploit the wisdom of crowds,” an activity defined as “making new ideas accessible to decision-makers and donors in the Jewish world, and developing new tools to combat the delegitimization of Israel.”
    A report in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth the day after the cabinet approved the funding described the initiative positively, saying it would “raise the level of efforts in the struggle against BDS” — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Yedioth said the new company would “provide a speedy and coordinated response to efforts to stain Israel’s image around the world,” for example, in the event of a military operation, terror attacks or UN votes against government policies.
    This would be done by launching online campaigns, lobbying, engaging organizations abroad and bringing delegations to Israel.
    The Strategic Affairs Ministry declined to clarify whether the company would act in accordance with the principles of the Freedom of Information Law.
    “This is a joint initiative that meets all the requirements of the law for this type of engagement and is similar to other government initiatives like Taglit [Birthright] and Masa,” the ministry said.
    “In the agreement with [the company] there are distinct control procedures, as defined by the Finance Ministry and the Justice Ministry during the joint work with them on setting up the project. It will be subject to auditing by the state comptroller,” it added.
    “In addition, as the ministry leading the initiative, one that attributes great importance to it as part of the campaign against the delegitimization of Israel, the ministry has allocated additional control tools and functions to what is required. Both the ministry’s legal adviser and its controller will sit on the steering committee managing the project.”
    skip - WTF is BDS?


  • Saudi Ritz Carlton prisoner dies after torture
    http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/arabic-press-review-1383981136

    One of the Saudi prisoners at the Ritz Carlton has died under torture, according to London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

    Major general Ali Alqahtani, who was detained in early November as part of an alleged anti-corruption drive, had been working in the royal guard forces.

    He was the manager of the private office of Prince Turki Bin Abdullah, the son of former king Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, according to the newspaper.

    Alqahtani died on 12 December after being tortured with electric shocks, and his family struggled to recognise him after receiving his body, according to sources, the newspaper reported.


  • The chained jailers of Gaza -

    Israelis refuse to comprehend that Gaza is a huge prison, and that we are the wardens

    Amira Hass Nov 07, 2017
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.821354

    I have seen happy Gazans. A reporter for Kan, the Israeli public broadcasting corporation, went to the Erez checkpoint a few days ago, shoved a microphone and a camera at people leaving the Gaza Strip and invited their sighs of relief. Great! The Hamas inspection point on the Gazan side has been removed and the bearded security people didn’t interrogate us.
    The impression left by the news item and by an earlier report in Haaretz is that the only stumbling block faced by those who wish to leave Gaza is Hamas, but here are some of the questions that the Gazans at the border were not asked, along with the answers that would have been forthcoming:
    Q: Now, following the removal of Hamas checkpoints, can anyone who wishes to do so leave Gaza? A: Are you kidding? Since 1991, we leave only if Israel approves.
    Q: How long is the waiting period for an Israeli exit permit? A: About 50 days. Sometimes only legal intervention by an Israeli organization such as the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement or Physicians for Human Rights can result in a permit.
    Q: What is involved in the inspection at the Israeli checkpoint? A: A revolving scanner, instructions shouted from loudspeakers, sometimes a strip search.

    Q: What are you allowed to take? A: You’re not allowed a laptop, sandwiches, a suitcase on wheels or deodorant.
    Q: Other than Islamic Jihad and Hamas, who isn’t allowed to leave? A: Most people aren’t allowed. The daughter of a neighbor of mine has been receiving medical treatment in Jerusalem for the past nine months, and he has yet to receive a permit to visit her. The same is true of three friends who have been in need of a follow-up medical exam for the past year. Young people who would like to study in the West Bank cannot do so because Israel won’t permit it. About 300 students who were accepted to study abroad are waiting for a permit, and their visa is at risk.

    Q: Were you interrogated by the Israeli Shin Bet security service? A: Not today. But sometimes we arrive at the checkpoint and they take us aside, sit us down on a chair for an entire day, and in the end ask a few questions about the neighbors, for 10 minutes, or send us home even without asking questions. That’s how we miss a hospital appointment or a work meeting.
    Israelis refuse to comprehend that Gaza is a huge prison, and that we are the wardens. That’s why they are chained by their own voluntary ignorance. Reporting on the situation is easily turned into propaganda for use by policymakers. On the other hand, the omissions and distortions in articles written by officials who carry out the policy are natural. Such as the article written by the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and two of his colleagues, which appeared last week on the Institute for National Security Studies website.
    The omissions and distortions are aimed at the general public. For example the article states: “Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip by force.” On the contrary, Israel, the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union) and Fatah worked in various aggressive ways to overturn the results of the democratic election to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, which Hamas had won.
    “Hamas has become the sovereign,” Mordechai and his colleagues wrote. The sovereign? Even when Israel controls the borders, the air and maritime space and the Palestinian population registry? “Hamas’ rule is losing strength due to its responsibility for the scope of the poverty and unemployment.” Readers who reach this point in the article may have already forgotten an earlier assertion: “The situation of the citizen in Gaza has deteriorated greatly since 2007, mainly due to the restrictions imposed on the strip by Israel (in terms of movement to and from the area and in terms of economic activity).”
    The writers from the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories are chained by their very position. COGAT scrupulously imposes these restrictions and has even made them more restrictive. The authors’ warn in their article of the prospect of a worsening of the situation there, both economically and psychologically, but that is not followed by a courageous call to policymakers to remove the prohibitions against the movement of people, raw materials and local produce.
    The writers do issue a hint to the government that it would be preferable to allow the process of internal Palestinian reconciliation to move forward. And they courageously invite the Gentiles to finance the reconstruction of what Israel has destroyed and is destroying. After all, that’s what the Gentiles have been doing since 1993 – pouring in funds to prevent an even worse deterioration and to maintain a status quo that is convenient for Israel. The time has come for the Gentiles to use those funds as political leverage that will force Israel to restore freedom of movement to the Palestinians in Gaza.


  • A top U.S. general just said 4,000 American troops are in Syria. The Pentagon says there are only 500.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/10/31/a-top-u-s-general-just-said-4000-american-troops-are-in-syria-the-pe

    Army Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard, who heads the U.S.-led Special Operations task force targeting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, offered the surprising figure while briefing Pentagon-based reporters via satellite from Baghdad.

    When asked to confirm the 4,000 figure, Jarrard appeared to be caught off guard. He then apologized and said the number is about 500. Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman facilitating the briefing, interjected moments later, insisting the number is just 503.

    “The general misspoke,” Pahon told The Washington Post after the briefing. “I don’t know what 4,000 refers to. That’s nowhere near an accurate number.”

    Yet it’s long been an open secret that the Pentagon has far more personnel involved in operations against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, than its publicly disclosed figures. Hundreds of additional American forces — including Special Operations troops, forward air controllers and artillery crews — moved into Syria to back up allied local forces as they prepared to assault Raqqa, which was the Islamic State’s self-declared capital until its fall this month.


  • Trump and Putin are the real targets of Israel’s alleged strike in Syria -

    Exceptional strike, attributed to Israel, signals Netanyahu can disrupt a ceasefire in Syria if Israel’s security interests are ignored ■ Incident comes amid anti-Hezbollah war game

    Amos Harel Sep 08, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.811078

    The weapons manufacturing plant that occurred early Thursday morning in western Syria is a site clearly identified with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The exceptional attack, which foreign media are attributing to the Israel Air Force, appears to be a message to the world powers that maintain a prominent aerial presence in the area. Over the past two years, Russia has invested huge efforts in saving and rehabilitating the Syrian president.
    The bombing is not routine, either in its target or its timing. In an interview with Haaretz last month, outgoing air force chief Amir Eshel said that over the past five years, the air force had launched attacks on the northern military theater and on other fronts.
    But most of these forays were designed to quell efforts to strengthen Hezbollah and other terrorist and guerrilla groups. This time, according to Syrian reports, the target was a government one – a missile production facility run by the Assad regime – rather than another Hezbollah weapons convoy destined for Lebanon. 
    >> Analysis: Israel Just Shot Itself in the Foot
    skip - fb
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    Over the past year, senior Israelis have highlighted their concerns following the wide steps taken by the Iranians to try and enlarge and upgrade the supply of precision missiles in Hezbollah’s possession. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi have all made reference to this in public appearances. 
    For several years now, Hezbollah has maintained a huge weapons arsenal, containing between 100,000 and 130,000 missiles and rockets (according to various estimates). If the proportion of precision missiles is increased and their precision improved, that could enable the organization to inflict more devastating damage to the Israeli home front in a war.
    Israel and Syria: Get all updates
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    In accordance with its declared policy, Israel is acting to prevent Hezbollah improving the quality of its weapons. The chaos the Syrian civil war has caused, during which serious damage has been inflicted on the capabilities of Assad’s army, has seemingly made this easier for Israel. Syria has for years been a no-man’s-land that no one has controlled. That changed with the arrival of the Russians two years ago. 
    According to foreign media, the deployment of Russian squadrons in northwest Syria since September 2015 hasn’t entirely halted the Israeli attacks. But the strategic reality has become more complicated. The prime Russian interest is the survival of the Assad regime. For Moscow, it is important to show that the regime is stable and that Russia is the party dictating what takes place in Syria. The attack on the facility – the Syrian Scientific Researchers Center – undermines that image, and could concern the Russians.
    skip - Shehab News Agency tweet

    The timing of the action attributed to Israel is sensitive. At the end of July, in a Russia-led effort, the Assad regime reached a partial cease-fire with Syrian rebel groups. Although the fighting has continued in various regions, its intensity has declined in many places. The United States, whose interest in Syria has been on the decline, acceded to the Russian initiative. 
    Washington and Moscow also failed to heed Israeli protests that the agreement to reduce friction in southern Syria failed to require Iran and allied militias to steer clear of the Golan Heights.
    Consequently, the attack attributed to Israel – the first to be reported since the agreement was reached – may be interpreted as an Israeli signal of sorts to the world powers: You still need to take our security interests into account; we’re capable of disrupting the process of a future settlement in Syria if you insist on leaving us out of the picture. 
    Since the attacks attributed to Israel began in January 2012, the Assad regime has shown restraint in the vast majority of cases, other than in one incident in March this year when missiles were fired at Israeli planes after an attack near the town of Palmyra in eastern Syria. One missile was intercepted by an Arrow missile over Israel.
    At first, the Syrian regime totally ignored most of the attacks. At later stages, it would accuse Israel and sometimes even threaten a response, but it didn’t follow through. The reason is clear: The damage sustained by the regime from the responses was marginal compared to the harm to civilians in the civil war, and the last thing President Bashar Assad wanted was to drag Israel into the war and tip the balance in the rebels’ favor.
    Israel will have to see how recent developments are received in Moscow, Washington and Tehran. The response won’t necessarily come immediately.

    Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting in Moscow, October 2015.AP
    Russia is not hostile to Israel but, above all, it looks after itself and Assad. The Russians will also take the consequences on countries in other areas into account, as well as its tangled relations with the United States – which has been acting as a present-absent party in the Middle East for a long time now.
    This comes against the backdrop, beginning Tuesday this week, of a large Israeli military exercise based on a war scenario with Hezbollah. In fact, Israel is taking pains to declare that the exercise was planned nearly a year in advance and that it has no warlike intentions. But the fact that the exercise was carried out has raised the anxiety threshold among Hezbollah’s leaders.
    Al-Manar, the Hezbollah television station, declared Wednesday that Hezbollah isn’t worried about a war. That’s very inaccurate. To a great extent, Hezbollah, like Israel, is worried about a war and would prefer to avoid one – but in the Middle East things sometimes happen when you don’t exactly intend them.
    The early morning attack came exactly 10 years and a day after the bombing of the North Korean nuclear facility in eastern Syria, which U.S. President George W. Bush and others attributed to Israel. Last time (and then too, by the way, an attack came during a major exercise by the air force) a war was averted. That’s the hope this time too.


  • Stalingrad diaries: The battlefield transcripts that Stalin deemed too true to publish -

    During the most ferocious battle in human history, in 1943, Soviet historians interviewed over 200 Red Army soldiers about the fighting that helped seal Nazi Germany’s fate. Decades later, Prof. Jochen Hellbeck became the first historian to read their stories
    By Michal Shapira Sep 06, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-1.810966

    The book is based on interviews with Red Army soldiers that you found in the archives. They describe shocking violence. Can you talk about the nature of the violence?
    The interviews were recorded in Stalingrad, during the final stage of the battle and its immediate aftermath. They resonate with the din of the battlefield, and violence is everywhere in the picture. Red Army soldiers describe how they fought their way into the city center, blowing up basements and entire buildings filled with Germans after at least some of them refused to lay down their arms. What becomes very clear is the extent to which the Soviet defenders were driven by hatred toward the Germans. In the interviews I was surprised to discover the source of this hatred.
    Take Vassily Zaitsev, the famed sniper at Stalingrad, who killed 242 enemy soldiers over the course of the battle, until he suffered an eye injury, in January 1943. Asked by the historians about what motivated him to keep fighting to the point of exhaustion and beyond, he talked about scenes he had personally witnessed: of German soldiers dragging a woman out of the rubble, presumably to rape her, while he helplessly listened to her screams for help. [Quoting Zaitsev]: “Or another time you see young girls, children hanging from trees in the park. Does that get to you? That has a tremendous impact.”
    German atrocities, which many Soviet soldiers were familiar with, certainly played an important role in mobilizing them to fight, and fight hard. There was in addition ample violence within the Red Army, perpetrated against soldiers who were unwilling to risk their lives. In his interview, Gen. Vassily Chuikov described how he shot several commanders, as their soldiers watched in line formation, for retreating from the enemy without permission.

    Maj. Gen. Ivan Burmakov and Lt. Col. Leonid Vinokur, two of the Russian officers interviewed after the Battle of Stalingrad. Museum of the Battle of Stalingrad
    Until your book came out in Russian translation, in 2015, these interviews had never been published. Why is that?
    The testimonies were too truthful and multifaceted for their times, and Stalin forbade their publication, not least because he alone claimed full credit for the victory at Stalingrad. Little changed after Stalin’s death. Yes, leading generals of the Stalingrad battle, like Chuikov, were able to publish accounts of their role in the battle, but they carefully omitted any reference to executions within the Red Army. In his memoirs, Chuikov writes that he issued “a sharp rebuke” to his cowardly officers.
    Archival documentation tells me that at least some Soviet historians read the interviews, but it seems that they were at a loss about how to integrate individual, “subjective” voices, as they called them, into a mandated “objective” (communist) history of the war, and so the documents were overlooked and forgotten. I was extraordinarily lucky to have been the first historian to fully explore the 215 interviews conducted with Soviet defenders of Stalingrad, and publish them. I found them in the archive of the Institute for Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
    ‘Edge of Europe’
    Who was conducting the interviews and why? Who were the interviewees of these “Stalingrad transcripts”?

    Josef Stalin in 1950. AP
    The interviews were conducted by historians from Moscow who responded to the German invasion in 1941 with a plan to document the Soviet war effort in its totality, and from the ground up. From 1942 to 1945, they interviewed close to 5,000 people – most of them soldiers, but also partisans, civilians who worked in the war economy or fought in the underground, and Soviet citizens who had survived Nazi occupation. These historians hoped that the published interviews would mobilize readers for the war. They also wanted to create an archival record for posterity. I was struck by how they made this decision as early as fall 1941, when the Soviet Union seemed to be teetering under the German assault. But the historians drew confidence from history, notably the War of 1812, when the Russian people had been able to defeat a technologically superior invader. Hitler, they were certain, would meet Napoleon’s end.
    Why did Stalingrad become important to the Nazis and the Soviets in 1942? In what way was it a battle that changed world history?
    When the Germans resumed their offensive, in spring 1942, their strategic target was the oil fields of the Caucasus. Only as Army Group South advanced toward Maikop and Grozny did Hitler order a separate attack on Stalingrad. He banked on the psychological blow that the fall of “Stalin’s city,” which is what Stalingrad literally means, would deliver to Stalin. It was largely because of its symbolic charge that the battle for Stalingrad turned into a decisive showdown between the two regimes.


  • How a small group of Israelis made the Western Wall Jewish again
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.792857

    On Saturday, June 10, 1967, the fifth day of the Six-Day War, Yosef Schwartz, a contractor, entered the bomb shelter in the Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood in western Jerusalem and found his daughter and grandchildren. “It was quite normal to see us and bring bread and milk,” says his daughter Zehava Fuchs. “But this time he was very tense, he hugged me and the children and he looked different than usual.”

    Schwartz, who was wearing the uniform of the old Haganah police force, left without saying where he was going. “I went up to the apartment to call my mother, she told me he didn’t want to say where he wast going,” said Fuchs.

    “The next day he came back crying. My brother was a pilot then and I was very worried something had happened, but then he told me that he had been in the Old City and touched the Kotel. He told how at night they demolished all the Mughrabi neighborhood. He was completely secular, but he said that when they worked there was a mystical feeling, they felt they were on a mission,” she added.

    Schwartz was one of 15 older contractors from the Jeruslaem contractors association who were called on by then Mayor Teddy Kollek that night to come to the Western Wall, which had just been captured. The task was to demolish the houses in the Mughrabi (Moroccan) Quarter that was built right next to the Kotel and create the Western Wall Plaza.

    Sasson Levy, one of the two contractors who is still alive, remembers the excitement very well: “I was sky-high, it was a pleasure.”

    Kollek enlisted the contractors for the work, but to this day it is still not clear who made the decision about the demolition. It is clear Kollek was involved, as well as Shlomo Lahat, who was the new military governor of East Jerusalem (and later mayor of Tel Aviv), and the head of the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Uzi Narkiss. It is clear they intentionally made the decision without asking for – or receiving permission. No written documents remain concerning the decision, except for a hand-drawn map on a piece of paper that marked the boundaries of the area to be demolished.

    The contractors association was the most readily available source of manpower, but that was not the only reason that Kollek turned to them. The fear of an international protest made it necessary to use an unofficial civilian body to take on the job. The demolition work was given to the Jerusalem contractors and builders organization to distance any involvement of official bodies in the demolition as much as possible, wrote Uzi Benziman in Haaretz Magazine last week (in Hebrew).

    Kollek explained the urgency of clearing the plaza stemmed from the Shavuot holiday in a few days, when tens of thousands of Israelis were expected to flock to the Kotel. Leaving the old buildings standing could be dangerous, said Kollek. But the contractors, who were not called up to the reserves because of their age, saw it as much more than just another engineering project: That night remained engraved in their memories as a historic moment. So much so that after the war they established the “Order of the Kotel,” a sort of imitation of an order of knights for those who “purified the Kotel plaza for the people of Israel,” as they wrote about themselves.

    A coincidence led researchers from Yad Ben Zvi, the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem named after former President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, to study the Order of the Kotel story. Next week an exhibition will go on display at the Institute about the Order and the creation of the Western Wall Plaza.

    The work began about 11 P.M. The first job was to demolish a toilet that was built up against the Western Wall. A day earlier, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion visited the Kotel and reprimanded Yaakov Yannai, the head of the National Parks Authority, about the bathroom. “You come to place like this and you see a stench in the wall, we were surprised by it,” Levy remembers. “It made us angry in all the joy. At first we worked with hoes, pickaxes, cultivators and hammers. After that Zalman [Broshi, one of the largest builders in Jerusalem] brought in the tractor.”

    Two bulldozers worked to demolish the houses. They ran into difficulties when the rooms underground collapsed suddenly under the bulldozers, but the collapse also provided them with space to bury the rubble and flatten the ground. 135 houses were demolished, and in the end the demolition exceeded the area drawn on the map.

    Levy does not remember the residents of the houses or whether anyone was evacuated from them. Fuchs says that when she asked her father about them, “he said they went with a megaphone and asked the people to gather, and they went out through the Zion Gate, because through this gat they took out the refugees of the Jewish Quarter [in 1948].”

    Bruria Shiloni, the daughter of Yosef Zaban, and who was there that night, does not remember the residents. “I didn’t have the impression that people lived there, that there was life,” says Shiloni. “Later I heard that they smuggled them out of there. The feeling was that they were demolishing empty and piled up huts, I didn’t see movement of people.”

    Benziman tells how in one case the residents refused to leave the house and left only after the bulldozer rammed the wall. In one house, an elderly woman named Haja Ali Taba’aki was found dead in her bed. In one of the pictures a bulldozer can be seen demolishing a house with furniture, curtains and a vase with flowers inside.

    Zaban was the father of Yair Tsaban, who became a member of Knesset for the left-wing Mapam party. Shiloni went to the Kotel with her father and remembers the trip and Kollek standing on a crate or step, speaking to those present. During the demolition she was not there, after two officers accompanied her to find her husband, a platoon commander who had been wounded in the fighting.

    The Order of the Western Wall was founded that same night and the members continued to meet regularly until the 1990s, when most of them passed away. In 1967 they enlisted in another task from Kollek and built the structure near the windmill in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood of the capital that housed the original carriage used by Moses Montefiore in his travels. In 1983 they published album with almost prophetic predictions by Itamar Ben-Avi, a journalist and son of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, about the creation of the Kotel Plaza. Ben-Avi died in 1943. In 1987 the members of the Oder attended a ceremony in their honor in the Knesset, and received the “Defender of the Kotel” decoration.

    The founder of the order was Baruch Barkai, who became the secretary of the group and a rather unusual figure. Barkai was born in Latvia, studied law, was a journalist, art collector and a member of the Lehi pre-state underground, also known as the Stern Gang. He was even arrested on suspicions of being involved in the murder of Chaim Arlosoroff. Barkai later wrote a number of books, two of which are etiquette guides, and founded the most polite Knesset member competition.

    “It was a difficult day for him,” says Barkai’s son Itamar, who was named after Ben-Avi, who his father admired. The 1983 album says the Order was founded on Sunday, the third day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, June 11, 1967 at 3 A.M. in the Kotel Plaza, with the 15 members who had answered the call of the engineering officer, Capt. Eitan Ben Moshe, to purify the Kotel Plaza. “In doing so they fulfilled the vision of Itamar Ben-Avi: ‘The Kotel with space on the right and space on the left too, the Kotel with a broad courtyard in front of it.”

    The Yad Ben- Zvi researchers discovered the story by accident, through a person who participated in the demolition, but not a member of the Order.

    Ze’ev Ben Gal was born to a Samaritan family, fled his parent’s home, enlisted in the Palmah and lived on Kibbuts Rosh Hanikra. During the Six-Day War he served as a bulldozer driver in the reserves and was called to the Mughrabi neighborhood. During his work he noticed a large iron lock, it seems the lock on the gate to the neighborhood, and kept it. After he died last year, the lock made its way to the kibbutz archive, where they decided to give it, and the story behind it, to Yad Ben-Zvi.

    Fuchs was photographed for the movie that was part of the “50 Faces, 50 years” project created by the Tower of David Museum in the Old City. She said about her father, Schwartz, that he was so proud of every house he built, and suddenly he was proud of demolishing houses, “but he felt that he was carrying out a great mission for the Jewish people.”

    Anyone who knew the Kotel before the demolition was amazed by the plaza that was born overnight. “I read in the newspaper that they demolished the houses and straightened the plaza in front of the Kotel, but I didn’t imagine they made a stadium,” an “elderly Yemenite” Jew was quoted in the Davar newspaper. The quote appears in an article that appeared recently by Shmuel Bahat in the journal Et-mol, published by Yad Ben Zvi. Kollek too is quoted justifying the demolitions: “It ws the greatest thing we could do and it is good we did it immediately.”


  • Israeli forces shoot, kill woman in East Jerusalem after alleged stabbing attempt
    May 7, 2017 7:17 P.M. (Updated: May 7, 2017 8:55 P.M.)
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=776917

    BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli police forces shot and killed a teenaged Palestinian girl in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem early on Sunday evening after she allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack, Israeli police said.

    Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said that the teenager was shot after she approached Israeli police officers stationed at the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City while holding a knife.

    Al-Samri later confirmed that she had been killed, identifying her as a 16-year-old Palestinian from the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank.

    The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the girl as Fatima Afif Abd al-Rahman Hjeiji , 16, from the Ramallah-area village of Qarawat Bani Zeid.

    Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement that no police officers had been injured in the alleged attack, adding that Israeli police had cordoned off the area and were investigating the incident.

    According to Ma’an documentation, Hjeiji is the 20th Palestinian to have been killed by Israelis since the beginning of the year, seven of whom were minors. Seven Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same time period.

    Though Israeli forces often claimed that Palestinians were allegedly attempting to carry out stabbing attacks when they were shot and killed, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in a number of cases.

    #Palestine_assassinée

    • Israeli Soldiers Execute Palestinian Girl in Occupied Jerusalem
      May 8, 2017
      http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=9096

      (...) According to PCHR’s investigations and testimonies by eyewitnesses to PCHR’s fieldworker in occupied Jerusalem, at approximately 19:00 on the abovementioned day, Fatmah ‘Afif ‘Abdel Rahman Hjeiji (16), from Qarawet Bani Zaid village, northwest of Ramallah, was walking 10 meters away from a police checkpoint, which is permanently established at the southern entrance to the Damascus Gate. One of the soldiers suddenly screamed out, “knife”. Immediately, the Israeli soldiers stationed there opened fire at the girl. As a result, 30 live bullets hit her body; some of them penetrated her chest and waist from the right side. Therefore, Fatmah was killed on the spot. Eyewitnesses emphasized that after the girl fell on the ground, the Israeli soldiers continued shooting at her and not only attempting to wound or arrest her.

      Following this, the Israeli police deployed in the area closed the scene and prevented anyone from approaching the girl, whose body had been on the ground for an hour. The police officers attacked and pushed dozens of civilians away. They chased Mahmoud Abu Sbeih (9) until he fell from height in the Damascus Gate area and was then taken to the hospital to receive medical treatment. (...)

    • B’Tselem denounces Israel for unjustified killing of Palestinian teen in Jerusalem
      May 10, 2017 6:15 P.M. (Updated: May 10, 2017 11:06 P.M.)
      http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776971

      B’Tselem noted that Israel’s Jerusalem District Police Commander Major General Yoram Halevy defended the shooting as lawful and appropriate. Israeli police spokespersons at the time said the officers had acted “determinedly and professionally” when they killed the teenager.

      “The District Commander’s statement completely ignores the facts of the case: Hjeiji’s youth, the fact that she stood motionless, the short distance between her and the officers, the metal barrier separating her from the officers, and the obvious conclusion — that the officers shot and killed her when she posed no threat to them,” B’Tselem wrote.

      “This statement, like similar sentiments expressed by other senior ranking officials and a mood of general hostility ever since October 2015, encourages security personnel to shoot to kill even in cases such as this, where lethal measures are unwarranted,” the human rights organization argued.

      “This is no isolated incident,” B’Tselem affirmed, echoing numerous the numerous cases in which Israeli forces have been condemned for carrying out a “shoot-to-kill” policy of Palestinians who could have easily been disarmed and detained without being shot to death by Israeli forces.

      An Israeli settler was shot and killed earlier this month at a military checkpoint, who Israeli police initially mistook for a Palestinian. About a month ago, almost at the very spot where Hjeiji was killed, and under similar circumstances, Israeli forces shot and killed 49-year-old Siham Nimr, who allegedly brandished a pair of scissors at them from the other side of the police barricade.

      “The continued policy of fatally shooting Palestinians who do not pose a mortal danger illustrates the manifest discrepancy between the recognized and accepted principle that prohibits such use of gunfire, and a reality in which shoot-to-kill incidents are a frequent occurrence and are encouraged by senior officials and wide public support,” B’Tselem concluded in their report.


  • After Trump request, Netanyahu formulating goodwill gestures toward Palestinians -

    At the meeting the security cabinet decided to curb settlement construction, Netanyahu told the ministers: We must not mislead the Americans, they are tracking every house in the settlements, including in East Jerusalem.

    Barak Ravid Apr 02, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.780952

    The Trump administration is asking Israel to carry out a series of goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the security cabinet last Thursday, when he announced plans to curb construction in the settlements. 
    These measures should have an immediate effect on the Palestinians’ economic situation, ministers and senior officials who attended the meeting told Haaretz.
    >> Get all updates on Israel, Trump and the Palestinians: Download our free App, and Subscribe >>
    During Thursday’s meeting, Netanyahu said several times that U.S. President Donald Trump is determined to advance the Israeli-Palestinian issue and for the two parties to reach an agreement, the sources said.
    >> Analysis: Israel’s most right-wing cabinet ever curbs settlement construction - but the settlers keep mum >>
    Netanyahu said he did not know exactly how Trump wants to make progress, but the prime minister stressed the importance of Israel demonstrating goodwill and not being seen as the one causing the U.S. initiative to fail.
    Three ministers and two senior government officials who participated in Thursday’s meeting, or who were updated on the details of it, briefed Haaretz on what happened behind the scenes during the nighttime discussions about contacts between the United States and Israel on the Palestinian issue.
    All five asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, and also because it was a closed meeting.
    Netanyahu said he intends to agree to the American demands for additional goodwill steps in the West Bank and Gaza, with the potential for an immediate uptick for the Palestinian economy. He did not provide details about what moves would be taken, but a number of the ministers present understood that one possible step would include granting the Palestinians permission to build in Area C (some 60 percent of the West Bank, under full Israeli civil and security control).
    Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who has blocked previous efforts by Netanyahu to take similar actions, once more presented his reservations. Bennett said he expects that any actions Israel takes on the ground, and the goodwill gestures to the Palestinians, will not expand into moves with major foreign policy implications.

    The Beit Aryeh settlement, north of Ramallah, April 1, 2017. Netanyahu has pledged to curb settlement construction.THOMAS COEX/AFP
    The leader of the far-right Habayit Hayehudi party added that if Netanyahu does consider such moves, he expects the matter to be brought back to the security cabinet for a further discussion and approval.
    Netanyahu scheduled a meeting with the Israel Defense Forces’ Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and other officials, for Sunday, when they will attempt to put together the package of goodwill gestures and other steps.
    Even though the Prime Minister’s Office stated in recent days no limitations will exist on construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem situated over the Green Line, Netanyahu sounded less emphatic in the security cabinet meeting and hinted that there would not be full normalization on this issue.
    “There are no limitations on construction in Jerusalem, but we will need to act wisely,” he told ministers, hinting it’s possible that certain limitations may be imposed on building in the capital.
    In addition, Netanyahu informed the security cabinet a decision had been made to limit the activities of the highest-level planning committee of the IDF’s Civil Administration, which approves building plans for the settlements. Instead of meeting once a week, as was customary, the committee will now meet only once every three months.
    Netanyahu told the ministers that each of the committee’s meetings – during which decisions are made and then revealed about building plans for the settlements, even if they are only minor technical decisions – leads to media reports, which then causes friction and tension with the international community. Accumulating such plans and having them brought up for discussion only four times a year will limit the amount of global protest, added Netanyahu.
    At the same time, limiting the activities of the IDF’s planning committee could also have an influence on the number of plans approved, as well as the pace at which they advance.
    A senior member on the Yesha Council of settlements in the West Bank said fewer committee meetings would mean a slowdown in the planning process. It would be enough for Netanyahu or Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to cancel just a single committee meeting for supposedly technical reasons in order to create a situation in which no plans are approved for a full six months.
    In a meeting of the heads of the coalition, Bennet turned to Netanyahu and said that the new policy on settlement construction will be tested by how it would be implemented. “I ask that after Passover a date would be set for the Supreme Planning Committee to convene in order to approve construction plans,” said the education minister. Netanyahu did not respond, but his chief of staff, Horowitz, said that he will check and will soon schedule a committee meeting.
    Netanyahu also told the ministers Thursday that stricter limitations and supervision will be imposed on construction in unauthorized outposts. It is assumed no further construction will be allowed in existing unauthorized outposts, and new ones will be removed shortly after they go up.

    Palestinian women in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 30, 2017. New goodwill gestures would aim to improve the Strip’s dire economic situation.SAID KHATIB/AFP
    Even though the new construction policy is not part of an agreement with the United States, or even part of the unofficial understandings with the White House, the Trump administration is following their implementation very closely, said Netanyahu.
    Israel must keep to its new policy of restraint and implement it strictly, without trying to deceive the Trump administration, because the Americans know about every house being built in the settlements, he added.
    At Sunday’s Likud ministerial meeting Monday morning, Horowitz, who manages communications with the White House on the issue of the settlements, said that originally the Americans had requested a complete freeze in construction. "It started from zero," Horowitz told the ministers. “The result we reached was much better.” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in response: “I won’t go into it here, but you don’t know how right he is.”

    #Israël #Palestine #Etats-Unis #colonisation


  • With Lebanon no longer hiding Hezbollah’s role, next war must hit civilians where it hurts, Israeli minister says
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.776419

    présenté comme d’habitude, et pour la énième fois, par le propagandiste Amos Harel,

    Lebanese President Michel Aoun paid an official visit to Cairo a month ago, ahead of which he gave a number of interviews to the Egyptian media. Aoun was only elected president after a long power struggle in which Iran and Hezbollah finally held sway, and he spoke about the fact that the Shi’ite organization continues to be the only Lebanese militia that refuses outright to disarm.

    Hezbollah is a significant part of the Lebanese people, Aoun explained. “As long as Israel occupies land and covets the natural resources of Lebanon, and as long as the Lebanese military lacks the power to stand up to Israel, [Hezbollah’s] arms are essential, in that they complement the actions of the army and do not contradict them,” he said, adding, “They are a major part of Lebanon’s defense.”

    Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion from the Institute for National Security Studies wrote recently that Aoun’s comments were a “lifting of the official veil and tearing off of the mask of the well-known Lebanese reality – which widely accepted Western diplomacy tends to blur. The Lebanese president abolishes the forced distinction between the ostensibly sovereign state and Hezbollah. Thus, the Lebanese president takes official responsibility for any actions by Hezbollah, including against Israel.”

    Aoun’s declaration also tallies with the facts on the ground. At a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this past week, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the Lebanese army is now “a subsidiary unit of Hezbollah.”

    What does that mean with regard to an Israeli response against Hezbollah in case another war breaks out on the northern front? This column recently discussed the basic difficulty that faces the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon: limited ability to deal with the threat of high-trajectory rockets directed against both the Israeli civilian population and the strategic infrastructure on the rear front. On the southern front, even though the air force lacks a proper offensive response to rockets, the missile intercept systems – chiefly the Iron Dome batteries – are enough to thwart most of the launches.

    In the north, with Hezbollah able to launch more than 1,000 rockets into Israel on a single day of fighting, the offensive solution seems partial and the defensive solution limited.

    The state comptroller’s report on the 2014 war in Gaza disappeared from the headlines within a few days, but the difficulties facing Israel in future conflicts in Gaza – and even more so in Lebanon – remain.

    At this point, it’s interesting to listen to security cabinet member Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), whose opinions the state comptroller accepted with regard to disagreements with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Hamas attack tunnels in the Gaza Strip.

    While in the political realm Bennett seems determined to create unilateral facts on the ground (i.e., settlements in the territories) even at the risk of a potential face-off with the Europeans and embarrassing the Trump administration, it seems his positions on military issues are more complex. More than once he has shown healthy skepticism over positions taken by top defense officials, and he refuses to accept their insights as indisputable conclusions.

    Hunting rocket launchers during a war is almost impossible, Bennett told Haaretz this week, adding that he says this “as someone who specialized in hunting rocket launchers.”

    During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when he served as a reserve officer, Bennett commanded an elite unit sent deep into southern Lebanon to find Hezbollah’s rocket-launching squads.

    “When we worked in a particular area, we did reduce the teams of rocket launchers there – but they simply moved a little farther north,” Bennett related. Since then, he said, 11 years have passed and Hezbollah has learned to deploy in a more sophisticated manner. “They moved their launchers from the nature reserves, outposts in open areas, to dense urban areas [ reconnaissance éhontée d’un mensonge passé et nouveau mensonge tout aussi éhonté ]. You can’t fight rockets with tweezers. If you can’t reach the house where the launcher is, you’re not effective, and the number of houses you have to get through is enormous,” he explained.

    “After I was released from reserve duty, I read all of the books you wrote about the war,” Bennett told me. “I understood in retrospect that the fundamental event of the war took place on its first day, in a phone call between [former Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert and Condoleezza Rice.” President George W. Bush’s secretary of state had asked the prime minister not to hit Lebanon’s infrastructure, and was given a positive response. As a result, “there was no way that Israel could win the war,” Bennett said.

    “Lebanon presented itself as a country that wants quiet, that has no influence over Hezbollah,” he continued. “Today, Hezbollah is embedded in sovereign Lebanon. It is part of the government and, according to the president, also part of its security forces. The organization has lost its ability to disguise itself as a rogue group.”

    Bennett believes this should be Israel’s official stance. “The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out. That’s what we should already be saying to them and the world now. If Hezbollah fires missiles at the Israeli home front, this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages,” he said. “Life in Lebanon today is not bad – certainly compared to what’s going on in Syria. Lebanon’s civilians, including the Shi’ite population, will understand that this is what lies in store for them if Hezbollah is entangling them for its own reasons, or even at the behest of Iran.”

    At the same time, he notes that this is not necessarily the plan for a future war, but instead an attempt to avoid one: “If we declare and market this message aggressively enough now, we might be able to prevent the next war. After all, we have no intention of attacking Lebanon.”

    According to Bennett, if war breaks out anyway, a massive attack on the civilian infrastructure – along with additional air and ground action by the IDF – will speed up international intervention and shorten the campaign. “That will lead them to stop it quickly – and we have an interest in the war being as short as possible,” he said. “I haven’t said these things publicly up until now. But it’s important that we convey the message and prepare to deal with the legal and diplomatic aspects. That is the best way to avoid a war.”

    Bennett’s approach is not entirely new. In 2008, the head of the IDF Northern Command (and today IDF chief of staff), Gadi Eisenkot, presented the “Dahiya doctrine.” He spoke of massive damage to buildings in areas identified with Hezbollah – as was done on a smaller scale in Beirut’s Shi’ite Dahiya quarter during the 2006 war – as a means of deterring the organization and shortening the war.

    That same year, Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland proposed striking at Lebanon’s state infrastructure. To this day, though, the approach has not been adopted as Israeli policy, open or covert. Bennett’s declaration reflects an attempt by a key member of the security cabinet (albeit Netanyahu’s declared political rival) to turn it into such policy.

    The fact that Israel only tied with Hamas in Gaza in 2014 only convinced Bennett that he is right. There, too, Hamas finally agreed to a cease-fire after 50 days of fighting only after the Israel Air Force systematically destroyed the high-rise apartment buildings where senior Hamas officials lived.

    #Liban #Israel #Israel #crimes #criminels #victimes_civiles #impunité


  • Amid Syrian chaos, Iran’s game plan emerges: a path to the Mediterranean | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/08/iran-iraq-syria-isis-land-corridor

    The plan has been coordinated by senior government and security officials in Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus, all of whom defer to the head of the spearhead of Iran’s foreign policy, the Quds force of the Revolutionary Guards, headed by Major General Qassem Suleimani, who has run Iran’s wars in Syria and Iraq. It involves demographic shifts, which have already taken place in central Iraq and are under way in northern Syria. And it relies heavily on the support of a range of allies, who are not necessarily aware of the entirety of the project but have a developed vested interest in securing separate legs.

    #Iran #Syria