COVID-19 second wave in Israel, Palestine


This 24 March 2020 video is called Israel’s COVID-19 patient #65 speaks to i2NEWS from hospital: “It is not a joke“.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Israel recorded the highest number of new infections yesterday since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. 1107 new cases were added, the Ministry of Health in Jerusalem reports. The day before, there were 967. The previous record was April 3, when 819 new cases were counted.

This is why stricter rules have been in force since 08:00 this morning. Eg, up to fifty people may gather at event locations, in restaurants and in places of worship. For other indoor occasions, including at home, a maximum number of twenty people applies. …

In the West Bank, a five-day lockdown begins today. The Palestinian Authority announced this on Wednesday, also in view of the increasing number of infections. All shops are closed for the time being, except supermarkets and pharmacies.

Israeli demonstration against Trump’s ‘peace’ plan


This 30 January 2020 video from the USA is called Trump’s Middle East “peace plan” is a plan for apartheid.

From the Gush Shalom peace movement in Israel today:

This is the time for action, the time to stand up and be counted. Tomorrow night, February 1, we will meet at 19:00 at the Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv. From there we will embark on an emergency march through the streets of Tel Aviv, to demand the one thing that will ensure a life of security for us, our families, our children: negotiations to end the occupation and a peace between two free and sovereign states, Israel and Palestine.

The Trump-Netanyahu Plan is dangerous for all of us, Israelis and Palestinians – to the future of both peoples. A peace agreement is something which both sides share and agree on, which will bring justice and resolution to the conflict.

The Trump-Netanyahu Plan is nothing of the kind. It is a one-sided annexation deal that is forced upon us from afar. It gives the Government of Israel licence to acts of infamy – annexations on the West Bank, fulfilling the dictates of the most extreme settlers, and depriving Israeli citizenship from hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens who live in the Wadi Ara and Triangle regions.

This is a moment of trial, a red alert. Trump and Netanyahu have placed all of us on the path to a future of endless violence, bloodshed and grief. In the future that they are trying to force upon us, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to suffer and no one will live in security. They called it “a peace plan” but it is a scam – it is the same harsh occupation we have known for decades, reinforced by annexation. Our actions over the next few days will determine whether they will succeed in their scheme. We will not sit aside – and we need each and every one of you with us!

See you tomorrow night on the Dizengoff Square – this is the time to stand up and be counted!

See also here.

Trump bans Congresswomen from Palestine


This 15 August 2019 Bloomberg news agency video from the USA says about itself:

Israel Bans Entry to Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar After Trump’s Tweet …

Shortly before the decision [by the Israeli government] was announced, Trump had tweeted that “it would show great weakness” if Israel allowed them to visit.

Last month, however, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer had said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress. …

Tlaib and Omar have also been the target of repeated attacks by President Donald Trump in recent months, including a series of racist tweets on July 14 in which he said they should “go back” to the “broken” countries they came from. Both are U.S. citizens and Tlaib was born in the United States. The two are members of the so-called “Squad” of newly-elected left-wing Democrats, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. …

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro wrote on Twitter that the decision to bar their entry “harms Israel’s standing in the U.S., boosts BDS.”

Israeli lawmaker Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties, criticized the move, writing that “Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a U.S. Congresswoman.”

Arthur Lenk, formerly Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, said barring Omar and Tlaib “would be sinking us deeper into U.S. domestic political quagmire.”

It is the job of members of the United States Congress to monitor the foreign policy of the president.

Two congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib of the left wing of the Democratic party, wanted to do just that by going to Israel and the Palestine territories.

The right-wing Israeli government of Netanyahu gave them permission for that.

However, then President Donald Trump of the USA pressured them to annul that permission. And Netanyahu’s government showed that they are slavish puppets …, sorry, I forgot that I have to use euphemisms … reliable allies of Donald Trump.

Jewish daily The Forward in the USA writes about it today:

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were supposed to travel to the West Bank this weekend. Now Israel won’t let them in. Why?

After all, even American Jewish groups and politicians like AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – none of them fans of Omar and Tlaib – said Thursday that Israel had made the wrong decision. Forward Opinion writer Emma Goldberg said it doesn’t bode well for Israeli democracy.

Some background: Omar and Tlaib are the only two representatives to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Israel has a law on the books that it uses to turn away BDS supporters, even Jewish ones. Yet last month, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said the Jewish state would allow the duo in.

Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, has been trying for months to organize a congressional delegation to the area. Only Omar signed up. More than 40 other Democrats went on AIPAC’s annual Israel trip, where they met with Israeli and Palestinian government officials.

Omar and Tlaib were planning to meet with activists, and with American diplomats. They were planning on staying in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, which Israel controls and Palestinians claim as their state. They called the trip a visit to “Palestine”; neither Israel nor the U.S. recognizes such a place.

Still, the trip was moving forward until Thursday. That was when President [no; Prime Minister] Netanyahu stopped the trip, because “the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.” What changed?

Well, President Trump tweeted that letting Omar and Tlaib into Israel would “show great weakness”.

Netanyahu is a few weeks away from elections, and he’s staked his reputation on two things: toughness, and close ties with the White House.

Omar responded saying:

“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.”

The Forward will continue to monitor the situation.

Thank you for reading

Aiden Pink
Deputy news editor

The Israeli government’s decision Thursday to bar a visit to Israel and the West Bank by US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar is an authoritarian attack on democratic rights, carried out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the direction of US President Donald Trump against two critics in the legislative branch, in violation of US constitutional norms. … The Israeli media has already noted the brazen hypocrisy of Netanyahu denying entry to Omar and Tlaib when he has effusively welcomed right-wing anti-Semites like Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and Italian Deputy Prime Minister—and would-be Mussolini—Matteo Salvini. The chain of events has ominous implications. The president of the United States has no authority over members of Congress, which under the Constitution is a co-equal branch of government. No US president has ever before sought to bar travel by senators or representatives.: here.

UPDATE: after this letter, Ms Tlaib admitted after all.

FLORIDA GOP CANDIDATE CALLS FOR OMAR AND OTHERS TO BE HANGED A Republican congressional candidate in Florida sent a fundraising letter last week that called for the hanging of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other Democrats, reported The Tampa Bay Times. [HuffPost]

International Women’s Day is today


This video says about itself:

International Women’s Day | Women lead Demonstration against Trump in Palestine

8 March 2018

Palestinian women gathered in the West Bank and Gaza City on Wednesday to voice their anger at US President Donald Trump for his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The protests were called ahead of International Women’s Day.

The origins of International Women’s Day. All those who are celebrating IWD should not forget its socialist feminist roots, says MARY DAVIS.

International Women’s Day is for all women. Black women are too often objectified, demonised and face threats to our lives just for speaking out. Our voices must be lifted, says ZITA HOLBOURNE.

A woman’s place is in the international strike. The global grassroots movement is fighting for an anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, all-inclusive feminism for the 99 per cent, write DOREEN DENSKY and DANA MILLS.

Britain: Income inequality: Women’s pay begins today. International Women’s Day marks the first day of the year female workers ‘start getting paid’: here.

Britain: Income inequality: A third of women earn less than the living wage: here.

The jobs being hardest hit by automation are in occupations dominated by women, says SHARON GRAHAM.

Taking a stand and calling out sexism is just too risky for most women – and employers know this. Workplace misogyny and belittling of women is rife, but liberal notions of ‘leaning in’ do little to help, says JO BARTOSCH.

Sexual harassment is a form of violence against women and it’s happening in our workplaces all the time. Unions and their members still have much to do to ensure dignity at work for women, writes FRANCES O’GRADY.

Britain: Time is up to end the indignities, inequalities and injustices women face in the workplace and beyond
Unison will be building on its successes in championing the rights of women, says GLORIA MILLS.

Britain: Spycops’ crimes against women must be exposed. ANDREA, who was tricked into a relationship with notorious spycop ‘Carlo Neri’, has little faith that the Mitting inquiry will bring justice for the female victims of state agents: here.

Britain: Sexism is widespread in our society – and tackling it begins in our schools. The increasingly macho nature of the education regime is modelling oppressive behaviour, says KIRI TUNKS.

Britain: Too many women facing blatant pregnancy discrimination. Mums to be deserve much better protection under the law, writes GAIL CARTMAIL.

PROTESTS took place across Britain today in support of women prisoners on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire: here.

Women have made great progress, but the struggle against our oppression goes on. In a year of many milestone anniversaries for women, VICKY KNIGHT reminds us that our liberation has still yet to be won: here.

Britain: The march of the women – militancy beyond the myths. It’s widely believed that the [early 20th century] suffragette campaign was violent – the truth is that the only untrammelled violence seen during the campaign came from the state, says LOUISE RAW.

IT IS understandable that, on International Women’s Day this year, organisations will focus on the issue of the women’s franchise. The centenary of the vote for women [in Britain] is being celebrated and, as many people point out, it was only a partial franchise. It wasn’t until 1922 in the Republic of Ireland and 1928 in the UK that the universal franchise was introduced for all women over the age of 21. All this is becoming common knowledge as women take more interest in their own hidden history, but how women benefited from voting is something that also needs to become more widely known: here.

The legacy of the suffragettes lies with today’s working-class women. There is a massive gap between well-off women who seeks to promote their books, their businesses and brands as ‘feminists’ and the real inheritors of suffragism and radical politics, says BERNADETTE HYLAND.

Working-class women’s progress is far too slow. The abuse of the voiceless, the broken, the abused, the working-class women in our communities must end now or #MeToo is simply an empty soundbite in a moneyed echo chamber, argues BERNADETTE HORTON.

From BirdLife:

We interview the amazing women leading BirdLife’s work across the world

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we interview some of the key women of the BirdLife Partnership. They tell their fascinating stories, and give their advice to other women aiming to embark on careers like theirs.

Palestine lesser kestrel conservation


This is a lesser kestrel video from Quintanar de la Serena, Extremadura, Spain.

From BirdLife:

Lesser Kestrel shot for preservation

By Djamila Le Pair, 19 Jan 2017

Armed with telescopic lenses, 24 West Bank photographers took to the Jerusalem wilderness for a two day photoshoot, zooming in on Palestine’s Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni. Sponsored by the Middle Eastern HIMA Fund, these passionate paparazzi snapped over a thousand pictures, framing the small falcon for future generations to admire.

This photogenic initiative was part of a creative conservation package put together by Imad Atrash, Executive Director of the Palestine Wildlife Society (PWLS, BirdLife Partner) and his team. An artisan and agriculture event, breeding surveys and educational and conservation awareness activities were among a spectrum of initiatives that made up the initial kestrel conservation kit.

Serendipity triggered the photoshoot. This snappy idea was the brainchild of two men who, independently of each other, searched for novel ways to further their cause. While Atrash was contemplating ways to draw attention to the plight of the Lesser Kestrel. Firas Jarrar, Chairman of the group of Palestinian Assembly for Photography and Exploration (PAPE), was exploring ways to enrich the portfolio of the group’s members. Nature photography, he concluded, was still an underdeveloped skillset of many of its members and it was time to boost this expertise.

And so, one fine Friday afternoon last Spring, Atrash, a keen amateur photographer himself, invited the group to a workshop. Consisting of Palestine West Bank professionals (doctors, engineers, students), the group was taught every birdwatcher’s ABC (how to observe, which bird to look out for, how to distinguish it from others and where to find it) and told how their work would help support the falcon’s recent population growth.

Although positive, the Lesser Kestrel’s recent population climb is humble compared to the species’ previous steep decline. As is the reality for many birds, habitat loss and degradation due to increased agricultural activity, afforestation (the establishment of forest where previously there was none) and urbanisation can cause rapid reduction of numbers. To halt this kestrel’s downfall,close monitoring and management of some of its sites and habitats on an international level have been stepped up. And not in vain: recent years have seen an increase, however slight, of numbers, a trend that has also been observed in Palestine itself.

“With the help of 120 students and an innovative birdwatching app, we observed around 30 pairs, this year,” says Atrash. While still small, the numbers are a huge improvement on the all-time low of a mere four pairs in the region, recorded several decades ago. The good news is relative, though, as this year’s cast totals less than 10% of population numbers pre-dating the 1950s. There is still every reason to monitor this grey and rusty plumaged bird closely. The upward trend must be sustained, an urgency Imad Atrash impressed all too well on the PAPE members in April.

The Judean desert, hostile and seemingly otherworldly to the average human, is the perfect breeding haven for the Lesser Kestrel. Against a backdrop of Mar Saba, a sand-coloured Greek Orthodox sanctuary and one of the oldest monasteries in the world, the high cliffs of this wilderness provide safe and secluded nesting sites. Just a plateau or niche is all the Lesser Kestrel requires – no need for tedious fiddling with twigs and leaves.

Contradictory as it may sound, even this arid Middle Eastern landscape is slowly being lost to agricultural expansion. As welcome as the growing number of newly planted fruit trees may be, their arrival is instantly followed by an intensified use of pesticides, killing off part of the Lesser Kestrel’s own diet as well as that of some of the bird’s other prey. Moreover, prey that feeds on sprayed vegetation will become poisonous to the next species up the foodchain. Whether instantly poisonous or accumulatively, insecticides can drastically alter food supplies and chains, an effect which is seen all over the world.

Meanwhile, underneath the expanding olive orchards, herds of cattle now roam freely and strip the wilderness of its skimpy greens. This, too, is bad news for the Lesser Kestrel, for the modest foliage provides food and shelter for reptiles, rodents and small birds. These animals coincidentally make up the healthy diet the falcon hunts down to feed its offspring. No easy feat, when your three to six chicks have an insatiable appetite.

On top of these threats, Palestine’s Lesser Kestrel has a more direct enemy to ward off: ravens not far from the kestrels’ steep cliffs. “Ravens are very much part of the Lesser Kestrel’s habitat and are its greatest threat”, Atrash explains. “They attack the much smaller falcon, but we are not sure if they are after the falcon’s eggs, are defending their own, or if their battles are merely territorial.”

A controversial landfill site bordering the reserve provides a permanent buffet for these intelligent black omnivores. They presently outnumber the Lesser Kestrel more than tenfold. Ravens have few natural predators, but their eggs are savoured by owls, martens and eagles. “Perhaps they classify the Lesser Kestrel among those”, Atrash ponders. “We are considering ways to limit the ravens’ numbers, for example by replacing their eggs with fake ones, but we haven’t explored all options yet.”

“Interestingly, although the abundance of food has increased their numbers significantly, it appears to make the ravens slightly less aggressive, too. Whatever the reason, we find that the kestrels are increasing their wins in air battle.”

Equipped with Ashad’s briefing and their own state-of-the-art apparatus, the group entered the wilderness, eternalising the already roosting kestrels with their cameras until darkness fell. They zoomed in again the next day at 6am, capturing the elegant bird in action.

“It was excellent,” says Rasheed Livdawe, one of the co-founders of PAPE. “It was my first time photographing birds in the wild and I quickly learned that the early morning hours and late afternoon work best for bird photography in terms of natural light. For two full days I watched and followed this bird. It was difficult, but very spectacular.”

Of the thousand pictures, one hundred were entered for PWLS’s photo competition. Judged on use of shadow, captured movement and animal behaviour, money prizes were awarded to the first three winning photographers. The sharpshooters’ collection forms excellent PR material that will greatly help to promote the Lesser Kestrel’s cause.

PWLS’s conservation project is one to follow, with a documentary currently in production. The West Bank in Palestine is a relatively small place and resources are limited. But proving that targeted cross-border collaboration and the exchange of expertise can trigger low-cost, effective campaigns and mutual enrichment, PWLS is given the struggling kestrel its very best shot.

‘Che Guevara’ protests against Palestinian electricity problems


This video from Palestine says about itself:

‘Electricity cuts mean death!’: Thousands rally in Gaza over worst power shortage in years

13 January 2017

Thousands protest in Gaza over continious power outages.

From AFP news agency:

19 January 2017 – 07H39

Hamas halts electricity protests, but anger remains

JABALIA (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES)

by Mike Smith

The 25-year-old nicknamed Guevara because of his admiration for the Latin American revolutionary had returned to his home in Gaza after days of hiding, but was not giving up.

He had avoided home after a warning that Hamas security forces were looking for him due to his role as an organiser of recent protests over severe electricity shortages.

In a mock army jacket and with a Che Guevara-like beard, Mohammed Al-Taluli was being greeted by dozens of supporters from his neighbourhood of Jabalia, a crowded, overgrown refugee camp north of Gaza City.

“We are going to continue asking for our humanitarian demands,” he said while seated at a plastic table in a room in his home he called his office.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, has managed to end a recent series of protests over the electricity crisis with a security crackdown and aid from Qatar used to purchase more fuel.

But frustration in places like Jabalia remains, and there are once again warnings that deteriorating conditions in the Palestinian enclave of two million people may be leading to a larger eruption of anger.

Gazans face electricity shortages all year, but the problem is exacerbated in winter and mid-summer, when power usage spikes.

The Hamas authorities in the coastal enclave usually provide electricity in eight-hour intervals, but supply was reduced to four hours this month.

‘No security solution’

Protests began modestly, with dozens of people holding candles, before culminating on January 12 with thousands marching in Jabalia towards the electricity company.

Hamas security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, carried out arrests and hit an AFP photographer who required stitches to his face.

Further protests were prevented by a show of force by Hamas security.

Perhaps sensing the urgency, Hamas sought help, including from Turkey and Qatar, which agreed to donate $12 million for fuel purchases.

On Monday, Hamas said it was returning to eight-hour electricity — and was releasing all those arrested in connection with the protests.

A Gaza government spokesman argued that Jabalia protesters were attacking security forces and public buildings, but also said that Hamas was responding to demands by working to improve electricity supply.

“There is no security solution,” Salama Maroof told AFP.

Che Guevara admirer Taluli felt safe enough to return home after the announcement that those arrested would be released, but for him and others, the electricity shortages are only one in a series of frustrations.

Many young people feel trapped between Hamas’s strict rule and Israel’s blockade of the enclave, which has been in place for about a decade and prevents them from leaving.

Egypt’s border with Gaza has also remained largely closed, and unemployment is around 42 percent.

Three wars since 2008 between Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel have left behind death and destruction, not to mention psychological scars.

Even those with longtime businesses have suffered.

“I need electricity for more than eight hours to complete my work for the customers,” said 29-year-old Mohamed Abu Sharaf, whose family has had a print shop in Gaza City for 40 years.

As he spoke, the electricity cut again.

‘Strong message’

The reasons for the electricity shortages are multi-layered, with the first simply a lack of capacity.

Gaza has one power plant that runs on diesel fuel and which has been previously bombed by Israel.

It also imports electricity from Israel and Egypt, but it is not nearly enough.

Ageing power lines and theft add to the problem, with Gaza losing up to 20 percent of electricity that makes its way onto the grid, Maroof said.

The recent shortages were complicated by a dispute with the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank and dominated by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas‘s Fatah party.

Fatah and Hamas remain divided despite repeated attempts at reconciliation.

The Palestinian Authority handles fuel purchases from Israel since the Israeli authorities do not deal directly with Hamas, which they consider a terrorist organisation.

The PA then requires Hamas to reimburse it for bills and taxes, but Gaza’s electricity company faces cash shortages because many customers do not pay.

Maroof said the company should collect some $13 million per month, but only manages around $6 million.

He blamed it on poverty and simple reluctance to pay, while calling the PA’s taxes excessive.

Many Gaza residents are well aware of the complications, but have become fed up.

Those who know the situation well say Hamas must be seen as responding to their frustrations.

“This is for them a strong message that you can’t count on your stick or your gun to undermine the people and to silence the people,” Ahmed Yousef, a senior Hamas member and former government official, told AFP.

Wildlife and eco-tourism in Palestine


This video says about itself:

21 February 2012

Close-ups of foraging Palestine Sunbird (Cinnyris osea). Song & call – Judean Desert.

By the Palestine Wildlife Society, 10 November 2016:

Navigating a sustainable path to eco-tourism in Palestine

Palestine’s first-ever eco-tourism conference which took place yesterday focus on finding ways to protect Palestine’s unique natural heritage while sustainably tapping its economic and social benefits.

The varying geography and climate are represented by the Mediterranean Sea, the long shoreline of Gaza, the Jerusalem mountains, the eastern slopes and the Rift “Jericho and El-Gour” Valley. Within a small area the biodiversity is truly astounding: more than 2,720 plant species “Flora Palaestina” and around 520 bird species reside or migrate through this compact ecological area. Many avian species journey all the way from Africa to Europe through small land bridges in the south and centre of Palestine. In addition, more than 70 species of mammals and thousands of other insects, reptiles and amphibians are represented in this compact but diverse stretch of land. Palestine is a land of immense natural beauty and diversity. However, conflict, climate change and environmental stress has placed Palestine’s natural heritage under enormous threat.

This requires the redoubling of conservation and protection efforts, as encompassed in Palestine’s commitments to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In this regard, eco-tourism can help conserve Palestine’s unique natural environment while creating economic and social opportunities. “Palestine Wildlife Society – Birdlife Palestine PWLS is a pioneer in the ecotourism work as they trained around 40 tour guides and community based tour guides and now they are organizing the first ecotourism conference in Palestine. Furthermore, they look forward to initiate a diploma program for teaching ecotourism,” said Imad Atrash Executive Director of the PWLS.

Under the auspices of Palestine’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rula Ma’ayaa, the first-ever Palestinian Eco-Tourism Conference took place yesteday at the Ush Ghurab Garden in Beit Sahour. “Eco-tourism has a deep impact on the outreach to villages and towns، usually off the traditional tourism track, and is a primordial leverage tool in the vast array of tourism diversification” said Rola Maayah Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.

National and international experts, Palestinian government officials, academics, and civil society actors discussed, in a number of dedicated sessions, the various aspects of Palestine’s evolving capacities in eco-tourism and how this can be accomplished while protecting Palestine’s rich but fragile natural heritage.

It has been agreed that ecotourism is a vital sector and has to be dealt with on a national scale. Some local and global organizations have focused their activities on this topic. Some sites in Palestine have been selected to be models for these new concepts that combine cultural heritage and nature, such as the Jerusalem wilderness, St. Saba Monastery (Bethlehem), Masafer Bani Naeem (Hebron), Wadi Qilt and the Monastery of St. George and the city of Jericho.

Through ecotourism, the Palestine Wildlife Society aims to promote the sustainable use of natural and cultural values of Palestine’s heritage sites, to help in the conservation and monitoring of these sites, to build up the local capacity for conservation and ecotourism nationally and regionally and to promote ecotourism and other sustainable development programmes in Palestine through local communities and travel agencies.

CIA-funded Syrian ‘moderate rebels’ behead 12-year-old sick child


This video from the USA says about itself:

CIA And Pentagon Arming Opposite Sides In Syria

1 May 2016

Syria is an unbelievable mess, and the US military-industrial complex is only making it messier. The CIA is arming one faction, the Pentagon is arming another, and they’re now fighting each other. Who’s side are we on? Do we even know? Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter five-year-old civil war.

The fighting has intensified over the last two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other while maneuvering through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.

In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.”

Read more here.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

21 July 2016

A horrific video circulated on social media records an incident in the Syrian city of Aleppo in which so-called “rebels” of the Nour al-Dine Zinki Islamist militia cut off the head of a young boy they had captured on Tuesday. The executioner is seen holding the boy down on the bed of a pickup truck, sawing away at his neck with a small, dull knife and then holding the severed head in the air in triumph after the deed is done.

… Those who carried out this savage killing either are, or at least were until recently, armed by and on the payroll of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

The murdered child, identified as Abdullah Issa, was just 12 years old. His captors claimed that he was a fighter with Liwa al-Quds (Al Quds Brigade), a Palestinian militia fighting on the side of the Syrian government.

Liwa al-Quds, however, issued a report saying that he was not one of their fighters but rather the child of a poor refugee family, who was taken hostage in the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp in northern Aleppo. The boy, who appears dazed, had apparently been taken while receiving medical treatment, as an intravenous drip attached to his arm is visible in the video.

In the video, one of the child’s tormentors can be heard shouting, “We’ll leave no one in Handarat!” This is apparently a threat by the militia to “ethnically cleanse” the camp of its Palestinian population. Liwa al-Quds described the grisly execution of the child as “cheap and despicable revenge” by the jihadists for losing a battle for control of the area.

In a statement, Nour al-Dine al-Zinki’s leadership formally condemned the barbaric murder of the child, while claiming it represented “individual errors that represent neither our typical practices nor our general policies.”

The video itself, however, shows a number of the group’s fighters cheering on the beheading and recording the tormenting of the boy and his execution on their cell phones.

Moreover, the incident comes just two weeks after Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, issued a report titled “Armed opposition groups committing war crimes in Aleppo city.” In addition to Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, and three other Islamist militias, the report accuses Nour al-Dine Zinki (named first in the report) of having “carried out a chilling wave of abductions, torture and summary killings” in Aleppo and elsewhere in northern Syria. It further charges the US and its regional allies with arming and supporting these groups, which operate with impunity.

The Obama administration’s response to this atrocity has been ambivalent at best. Asked whether the execution of the child “would affect assistance” to the group responsible, State Department spokesman Mark Toner responded that “if we can prove that this was indeed what happened and this group was involved in it, I think it would certainly give us pause.”

Pressed as to what consequences it would have in terms of US support, Toner sidestepped the question: “I can’t say what that consequence will be, but it will certainly give us, as I said, serious pause.”

According to a December 2014 report by the McClatchy news organization, Nour al-Dine Zinki was one of the only CIA-backed groups not to be cut off as the al-Nusra Front began making serious gains, either absorbing these militias or seizing their weapons.

According to McClatchy, the CIA was paying the salaries of the Nour al-Dine Zinki fighters at the rate of $150 a month. The militia was also the recipient of US TOW anti-tank missiles manufactured by the Raytheon Company, in addition to so-called “non-lethal” supplies.

The savage murder of young Abdullah Issa is a grim exposure of the real character of the forces described by the Obama administration as the “moderate opposition”—and by its pseudo-left apologists as Syrian “revolutionaries.”

Like Al Qaeda before them, they are a Frankenstein’s monster created by US and Western imperialism and unleashed upon the people of Syria and the broader region to achieve definite strategic aims by means of regime-change.

See also here.

Britain: Channel 4 News promoted known war criminals [Zinki] in Syria, and is now hiding its own report: here.

Don’t be fooled by reports that al-Qaeda and Nusra have split for the good of the suffering Syrian people. Turn it into a respectable army of “moderates”, give it a spanking new name, and then the Americans and Russians will stop bombing the daylights out of it and Qatar’s loyal militia will destroy the Assad regime and… Well, if that happened, Qatar would control the future of Syria: here.

War against Isis: US-led coalition accused of killing civilians using ‘scorched earth policy’ in Syria: here.

Washington escalates covert backing for Al Qaeda militias in Aleppo: here.

The Nusra Front’s adoption of the new name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and claim that it has separated itself from al-Qaeda was designed to influence US policy, not to make the group any more independent of al-Qaeda: here.

Fifteen years after launching a “global war on terror” in the name of wiping out Al Qaeda, Washington is arming and funding its associates in Syria to counter Russia: here.

Our sons-of-bitches: western media and the Syrian rebels – here.

“Human rights” propaganda campaign paves way for military escalation in Syria: here.

Disabled Palestinian refugee from ISIS now in Dutch ex-prison


Rafiq in the Haarlem prison building, photo: NOS

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Man on crutches in ISIS area, nearly drowns, but makes it to the Netherlands

Today, 18:24

In late August of this year we got to know him, Rafiq, a 65-year-old Palestinian from Syria, sweaty and exhausted, breathing heavily and inching, using crutches, crossing the border between Serbia and Hungary. He wanted only one thing: to go to the Netherlands. Correspondent Marcel van der Steen saw him disappear into the night.

Van der Steen decided to keep in touch with Rafiq and recently received notice that he had managed to reach the Netherlands. Rafiq is now staying in the Panopticon Prison in Haarlem, which is now an emergency shelter. Reporter Nicole le Fever met him there.

Rafiq’s journey is hard to summarize. To flee Syria he had to cross ISIS territory. A Chechen stopped him and asked why he had no beard. “That does not grow with me,” he replied. But the young man thought that was not a good excuse and Rafiq received twenty lashes.

When asked if he smoked, he lied, because he had heard that he should never admit it. Fortunately, the cigarette pack that he had was not found on him. Finally, the legs of his trousers above his ankles were cut off because Muslim men, according to tradition, must not wear clothing over their ankles.

Once in Turkey, it turned out that as a Palestinian he was not allowed to stay because he had no papers. “Stateless”, therefore, says the new card which he received from the Dutch authorities.

Nearly drowned

So the only way was to try to reach a Greek island by boat. The first attempt failed. The boat made water and Rafiq would have drowned if he would not have been saved by an Iraqi friend. The second attempt succeeded though.

Late August Marcel van der Steen saw him stumble in the dark towards the Hungarian border. He managed to enter the country and for 1000 euros he took a taxi to Germany. The last stage, to Amsterdam Central Station, was by train. There he got a ticket for the train and bus to Ter Apel refugee camp to report there.

Rafiq is grateful that he has arrived safely in the Netherlands. Syria and his problems with the government he won’t talk about much because he is worried about his wife, who stayed behind in Syria. However, he talks about his old life, including in Dubai and Eastern Europe, where he used to own electronics stores and a furniture store.

Will he still see his wife?

His greatest wish is that his wife may come to the Netherlands, but he is concerned about the length of the procedure. First he was told he would hear something within 5 to 12 months, but that is now a year. And then it takes another year before family members can come. Rafiq is afraid that he will not live that long.

All is not well with his health. He has many problems with his legs and kidneys. He also has to follow a special diet. Fortunately, he gets help from two Syrians in the cell next to him. They help him out of bed and with cleaning. For one of his neighbours bad news came today. One of his sons was killed in Syria and his 16-year-old daughter has remained all alone. The man is desperate.

“So, we all have our stories and problems.” says Rafiq.

Benedict Cumberbatch condemns UK government’s inhumane refugee policy: here.

While thousands of refugees risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean each day to commence an arduous journey through the Balkans, the governing coalition in Berlin is fighting over the most effective way to send them back: here.

Pro-peace rallies in Israel, Tel Aviv Saturday, Haifa Sunday


This video says about itself:

21 October 2015

Israeli cafe offers discounts for Jews and Arabs who sit together

A hummus cafe in Israel is seeking to foster understanding amid a series of violent incidents by offering a discount for Jews and Arabs who sit together.

From the Gush Shalom peace movement in Israel:

Stop the Madness! Protest march in Tel Aviv, rally in Haifa

Saturday, October 24, 7:30 pm – marching from the Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm – rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa.

At 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 24 the march will set off from Rabin Square to the Defense Ministry gate on Kaplan St., Tel Aviv. The march was initiated by Peace Now and joined by various other peace and human rights groups.

These difficult times – days of violence, fear and pain – are only reinforcing our understanding that there will not be real security here until there’s peace through a negotiated solution.

Only a political process that will lead to the end of our control over millions of Palestinians will end the bloody conflict between the two peoples and allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and quiet. The only way to prevent further deterioration is through a two state solution.

Join us this Saturday – *To protest the government actions that are pushing us away from a solution. *To protest extreme right-wing provocations. *To call upon Israeli society to choose a different path.

Transportation: If enough people register, there will be buses from Jerusalem, Haifa and Be’er Sheba – register here.

Contact: maya@peacenow.org

Haifa – Jews and Arabs stand together for a common future. Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm – rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa

We, Jews and Arabs, Arabs and Jews, will not give in to fear and despair. On Sunday, we will stand together in the city of Haifa – a city that can and must lead the way towards a shared life in complete equality. Standing together, we will call for a peace based on independence and justice to both peoples, for full equality in all spheres of life, for an end to racism and discrimination.

Arabs and Jews, Jews and Arabs, we all want to live in security. True security can only be security without occupation and without bloodshed. Only with an end to occupation and a move towards a just peace can we put an end to the killing and hatred, build an different reality and ensure security to all of us.

The terrible violence and fear on the streets did not come out of the blue. The time has come to address the root cause of the cycle of bloodshed: the system of control and separation which denies to millions of Palestinians their right to independence and a life of dignity. Instead of dealing with this root cause, the government goes on pouring ever more gasoline on the fires of incitement and violence.

On Sunday, October 25, at 7:30 pm we will hold a rally at the Cinematheque Square, Haifa (Merkaz HaCarmel, 142 HaNasi Avenue).

Starting at 5:30 pm, there will be in the same location a creativity workshop for children, in Hebrew and Arabic. Bring your entire family, to take part in a manifestation of shared life!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1481267028845995/

FRIDAY PRAYERS at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque ended peacefully yesterday after Israel relaxed restrictions, allowing Palestinian men of all ages to enter: here.