TEL AVIV, Sept 1, 2011 (IPS/Al Jazeera) - Speaking to the U.S. congress in May, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu boasted that his country is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, that it is the only place where Arabs "enjoy real democratic rights".
It's true that Palestinian citizens of Israel have some democratic rights, like the vote. But, as Netanyahu told congress: the "path of liberty is not paved by elections alone." And the summer months have seen an acceleration of worrisome anti-democratic trends.
First, the Knesset passed the anti-boycott law, a move that was widely condemned as a strike against free speech and democracy. Even some of Israel’s staunchest supporters expressed concern.
Now lawmakers have introduced a bill that proposes to change the definition of Israel as "Jewish and democratic" to "the national home of the Jewish people".
If passed, the legislation would become part of Israel's Basic Laws, which are used as a working constitution.
Whenever a conflict between democracy and Jewish values arises, the new definition of Israel would allow courts and legislators to favour the latter. According to Haaretz, the proposed bill will also make halacha, Jewish religious law, "a source of inspiration to the legislature and the courts". And, in the spirit of favouring the Jewish character of the state over a state for all its citizens, the legislation would also downgrade Arabic from an official language to one with "special status".
Arabic is the mother tongue of 20 per cent of Israel's citizens. It has been an official language of the land since 1924, when the British mandate set three: English, Hebrew, and Arabic.
When the state of Israel was established in 1948, English was struck from the books. While Arabic remained an official language, it has always gotten second class treatment- as have the citizens who speak it.
Many government forms - including those for Social Security and National Insurance - come in Hebrew only. Arabic-speakers are under-represented in the public sector. So if a Palestinian citizen has weak Hebrew, he or she may be deprived of services or benefits they are legally entitled to and desperately need.
The results are sometimes devastating. MORE
Haaretz:Victims of south Israel terror attacks laid to rest
Families mourn victims of Thursday's coordinated terror attack; man killed in Be'er Sheva rocket attack leaves behind two daughters, pregnant wife.
Jerusalem police raises alert level after warnings of terror attack: Roadblocks put up throughout the city, security forces carry out security checks on passing cars in fear of terror attack.
Jerusalem Post Headlines
Ynet: Barak warns enemies to be 'decapitated':Defense minister says attacks on south may last a few more days, but IDF 'hitting terrorists hard'
Ynet: Gaza groups out to challenge Hamas?Analysts say splinter terror groups firing at south to embarrass Hamas and appease Syria, Iran
Al Jazeera Liveblog: Attacks of Gaza and Israel
MIDEAST Palestinians Prepare for Massive Uprising
BEIT UMMAR, Occupied West Bank, Jul 29, 2011 (IPS) - Leading members of the Palestinian Popular Committees in the West Bank plan massive civil unrest and disobedience against the Israeli occupation authorities come September when the Palestinians take their case for statehood to the UN.
"We plan to take to the streets en masse," Musa Abu Maria, a leading member of the Popular Committee in Beit Ummar, a town 11 km north of Hebron in the southern West Bank told IPS. "We will block entire highways leading to and from Israel’s illegal settlements. We will march on settlements. But these will be non-violent and the protestors will be peaceful.
"We have worked out creative strategies to bring the occupation increasingly to the attention of the international community and the world media. We will be coordinating with our international supporters in Europe and America to increase international recognition of the Palestinian predicament as the tide turns in our favour," added Abu Maria.
The Israeli government, intelligence agencies and security forces have been preparing for an outbreak of Palestinian protests in September as they expect the UN General Assembly to overwhelmingly endorse the Palestinian bid for independence.
The country’s security forces have been holding military drills in preparation for massive clashes. Meanwhile, the political leadership has engaged on a lightning tour of Europe trying to win the support of "quality European countries", as the Israeli government put it, to vote against Palestinian statehood.
The Israeli government is hoping that the economically and politically stronger members of the UN will side with Israel as approximately 140 UN members from "developing and Third World" countries, amongst others, are expected to vote in favour of Palestine. MORE
"Quality Europeans countries? WTF????
Wave of condemnation for new law forbidding citizens from promoting academic, consumer or cultural boycotts
Israeli civil rights groups have launched legal challenges to a new law that in effect bans citizens from calling for boycotts of Israeli goods, services, businesses or cultural or academic institutions.
The passing of the law late on Monday night prompted a wave of criticism and condemnation in the Israeli press, with one eminent law professor describing it as "the blackest day in Knesset [Israeli parliament] history".
Gush Shalom, an organisation that campaigns for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, filed a petition to the supreme court, saying the new law was an attempt "to silence criticism against the government's policies in general and its policies in the occupied territories in particular, and prevent an open and productive political discourse, which is the backbone of a democratic regime".
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel filed a petition to the high court of justice, saying the new law was "unconstitutional and undemocratic" and set a precedent for limiting freedom of expression.
A coalition of four rights groups – Adalah, a legal rights organisation for Israeli-Arabs, Physicians for Human Rights, the Public Committee Against Torture and the Coalition of Women for Peace – also pledged to launch a high court challenge. The new law "gives protection to the illegal West Bank settlements in Israeli law by penalising their opponents", the coalition said.
In defiance of the law, Peace Now launched a new campaign calling for the boycott of wine and olive oil produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
EAST JERUSALEM, Jul 12, 2011 (IPS) - Widespread strikes across Palestinian civil society could be in store for East Jerusalem at the start of the next school year, as the municipality moves ahead with its current plan to implement an Israeli curriculum in Palestinian schools.
"I expect that the beginning of the new school year will not be a normal one. There will be lots of problems. There will be lots of demands, strikes," Samir Jibril, director of the East Jerusalem Education Bureau told IPS. "All (the Palestinian) institutions are going to stand hand-in-hand against this implementation. Even civil society is demanding to stop this plan by the Israelis."
In March of this year, the Jerusalem municipality sent a letter to private schools in East Jerusalem that receive allocations from the Israeli authorities. The letter stated that at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year, the schools would be obliged to purchase and only use textbooks prepared by the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), a joint body of the municipality and the Israeli Ministry of Education.
These textbooks are already in use in East Jerusalem schools managed by the JEA. According to Jibril, however, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have at all levels rejected the plan to use them in private schools, since it is viewed as being politically motivated. MORE
2010 The People Speak
GAZA CITY, Oct 31, 2010 (IPS) - The focus on people's movements in Palestine continues to gain momentum with growing non-violent demonstrations in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and with a Palestine-wide call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Years of the non-violent demonstrations throughout the occupied West Bank against Israel's separation wall have finally generated some media interest in the issue of the wall and annexation of Palestinian land. Yet the behind-the- scenes work of Palestinian unions, Palestinian and international BDS groups, video conferences bridging Palestine to the outside world, and the struggle of Palestinian students to access an education continues largely unnoticed by the cameras.
In July, 2010, the United Nations IRIN news reported that roughly 39,000 Palestinian children from Gaza would not have schools to attend, following the destruction or severe damage of some 280 schools and kindergartens during the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza, and the continued inability to repair or rebuild due to the severe Israeli-led siege on Gaza and lack of construction materials.
The UN also reports that 88 percent of UNRWA schools and 82 percent of government schools operate on a shift system as a result, still resulting in serious overcrowding. MORE
2010 Divided we Educate
Due to the endemic poverty in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, hundreds of Palestinian children are forced on to the streets by parents who are living below the poverty level in a desperate bid to eke out a few extra dollars to help their families survive.
These children should be in school securing a better future for themselves but Israel's discriminatory education policies between Jewish West Jerusalem and Palestinian East Jerusalem is driving these youngsters out of school – if they are lucky enough to be enrolled in the first place.
Knesset (Israeli parliament) member Jamal Zahalka claimed earlier in the year that "educational provision for Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is worse than anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including Gaza, or in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria."
More than 5,000 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem do not attend school at all. The dropout rate for Palestinian school students in East Jerusalem is 50 percent, compared with about 12 percent for Jewish students.
"The rate of school dropouts, and the level of poverty amongst Palestinians in East Jerusalem, is frightening," Orly Noy from the Israeli rights group Ir Amim told IPS.
"The severe neglect of the education system in East Jerusalem is brewing a catastrophe," adds Tali Nir, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).
The two Israeli human rights organisations accused the Israeli authorities of deliberate discrimination in a report titled 'Failed Grade – The State of the Education System in East Jerusalem'. MORE
2009 Textbooks Become a Dream
A chronic shortage of school supplies, and severely overcrowded classrooms are crippling Gaza's educational system as tens of thousands of children begin a new school year.
Israel's hermetic sealing of the strip, as part of its blockade against Hamas, has prevented most supplies of paper, textbooks, notebooks, ink cartridges, stationery, school uniforms, school bags, and computers and their spare parts.
"Through our education system the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is spreading the message of universal respect for human rights, peaceful coexistence and tolerance in an atmosphere that since the blockade has become increasingly desperate and radicalised," says UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness.
"The best way for Israel to prevent us spreading that message to the 200,000 Gazan children at our schools is to block us sending in educational supplies," Gunness told IPS.MORE
Egyptian Activists Gear Up For Third Intifadah
CAIRO, May 10, 2011 (IPS) - Following the February ouster of Egypt’s longstanding President Hosni Mubarak, calls have been circulating in Egypt and throughout the region for a ‘Third Intifadah’ to begin May 15.
"Unlike the first two Palestinian uprisings, the proposed Third Intifadah is meant to involve the entire Arab world," Egyptian journalist and political analyst Abdelhalim Kandil told IPS.
An Arabic-language website called the ‘Third Palestinian Intifadah’ (www.3rdintifada.com) appeared soon afterward, providing a general plan of action. The site calls for peaceful protests on Friday and Saturday (May 13 and 14) at Israeli embassies and consulates worldwide, including those in western capitals, "to express our rage about the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the expulsion of millions of Palestinians from their rightful homes".
On May 15, dubbed the "Sunday of Liberation", the site had initially called for multiple million-man marches to advance on "historical Palestine" - in reference to Israel - from starting points in Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. This was later scaled down, however, to the staging of demonstrations outside Israeli embassies in Jordan and Egypt (the two Arab states that have diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv), along with simultaneous marches near Israel’s borders in Syria, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.
According to Mounib Mohamed, 26-year-old activist from Cairo and administrator for the website’s Egypt branch, the initial plan was scrapped "because of the difficulties associated with implementing it, and in order to avoid friction with local authorities in the countries involved".
"As for Egypt, we’re calling for million-man gatherings to be held in cities countrywide on May 13," Mohamed explained. "Participants will then head to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where prominent political figures are scheduled to speak about the Palestinian cause."
Notably, Palestinian faction Hamas, which governs the strip and espouses a policy of armed resistance to Israel, has not publicly endorsed calls for a ‘Third Intifadah’. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, who heads rival Palestinian faction Fatah and supports a discredited ‘peace process’ with Israel, has voiced downright opposition to the idea.
Well then. I hope the protests go off peacefully.
Egypt Plays Best Man at Hamas-Fatah Union
CAIRO, May 4, 2011 (IPS) - Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo on Wednesday, paving the way for the formation of a Palestinian national unity government. The move, say local analysts, reflects the changing political equation in the Middle East amid the ongoing wave of Arab popular uprisings.
"The revolutions currently sweeping the region - especially the fall of Egypt's Mubarak regime - have altered the strategic balance, particularly as it pertains to the Arab-Israeli file," Mohamed Megahid al- Zayat, assistant director of the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle-East Studies, told IPS.
On Wednesday, the two factions, along with 11 other smaller Palestinian groups, officially endorsed the agreement in Cairo. A formal signing ceremony on Thursday is expected to be attended by Fatah headman and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal.
Three joint committees have reportedly been drawn up to discuss means of integrating the two factions' security forces, restructuring the Palestinian Liberation Organisation to accommodate Hamas, and establishing a system and timetable for upcoming elections. The accord also reportedly calls for a prisoner exchange between the two sides. MORE
Street battles continue in Abidjan
Heavy fighting continued on Monday in Abidjan amid an ongoing power struggle between forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, Cote d'Ivoire's incumbent president, and those backing his political rival Alassane Ouattara.
Pro-Ouattara fighters were reported to have moved into the Yopougon neighbourhood held by Gbagbo loyalists. Gun battles raged near the home of army chief of staff Phillipe Mangou who has remained loyal to Gbagbo since November's presidential elections. Ouattara is internationally recognised as the winner of that vote.
The state-run RTI television station denied local reports that Mangou's house had been attacked. A spokesman for the pro-Gbagbo army, Col. Hilaire Gohourou, confirmed that the battle in Yopougon was ongoing, but refused to give any further details.MORE
( Read more... )
Algeria: Defying a ban, protesters demonstrate in heavily policed Algiers. The demonstrations in Algeria in early January due to food shortages, but really, the poverty level in a country that is very rich in natural resources (and a long term dictator) showed it was a matter of time.
Bahrain: Bahrain mourner killed in clashes during another protester's funeral. The violence coming from the government in response to the protests has been overwhelming.
Iran: Police confirm protest death. The Reformists demonstrations never stopped, it just wasn't reported with the same fervor as when it started, but now that fire is sweeping through the region, it makes sense that the demo's are gathering greater numbers and are being suppressed with more violence.
Israel: While the region begins it's slow slog towards something resembling democratic process, we continue to dig our heels is and write out racist legislation like a Bill proposes discount in tuition fees for soldiers - meaning that higher education will become even more inaccessible than it already is to the working class - it is racist and ethnically based because the only ones drafted are Jews and the Druze (only men in this case) meaning that those who do not serve (i.e. Arabs, who also happen to be the most economically disenfranchised) will find it very hard to study at university, creating an even greater disparity between classes that (miraculously) coincide with ethnic and religious groups.
Palestine: Palestinian government resigns in hope of fresh start. Allow me to be more scathing than usual. The PA is so scared of what's happening in the region, the fact that just a few days about Saeb Ereakat resigned because of the Palestine Papers that they'll do anything to make appearnces of appeasement, while they suppress anti-PA demonstrations. Hamas, by the way, will not be running in these elections as it rejects Fatah authority. Like this schism is anything new.
Syria: Schoolgirl blogger jailed. A week after Syria opens their internet up for Twitter and Facebook. The Asad regime is in survival mode, it has been for years now.
Yemen: Yemen protests enter fifth day. The numbers are small, and there isn't a huge presence of women in Sanaa, but following reports on Twitter informs me that there was sizable female presence in Taizz.
That's what I got.
In January after the Tunisian revolt there were protests in Oman Oman protestors call for fight against corruption The headline leaves out the fact that they are also fighting against high food prices
MUSCAT - Some 200 Omanis protested on Monday against high prices and corruption, a rare phenomenon in the Arab Gulf monarchy that seems to have been touched off by the revolt in Tunisia.
"Rising prices have destroyed the dreams of ordinary citizens," read one banner carried by the crowd gathered outside the housing ministry, where police manned a security cordon but did not intervene.
The protesters, who appeared after they received emails and messages on their mobile telephones calling for the demonstration, chanted slogans against corruption and the high cost of living.
"No to corruption. No to corruption," shouted the protesters who called for "higher wages" and "fixed prices" for basic food items, the cost of which have swelled since the global financial downturn. MORE
( Read more... )
As events in Tunisia unfolded, it was evident that media - new and old - were playing a huge role. We analyse that media angle of the story in our show this week. Also, we have a report on satellite imagery and its growing role in modern journalism.
When protesters took to the streets in Tunisia back in December, the Ben Ali government cracked down hard on the media - shutting down news outlets, arresting bloggers and locking out foreign journalists. But through sites like Facebook and Twitter, pictures of the protests were able to get out and were picked up by satellite TV channels. The images spread like wildfire through the Arab world, reaching audiences across the region and binding them to the ever changing story. Western news outlets on the other hand, at least initially, failed to give the story the coverage it deserved.MORE
Meantime Egyptians ignored a No Protest order And continue to protest their government
A protester and a police officer were killed in central Cairo as anti-government demonstrators pelted security forces with rocks and firebombs for a second day, according to witnesses.
Activists had called on people to rally again on Wednesday after a "Day of Wrath" the previous day had seen thousands of people take to the streets across Egypt to complain of poverty, unemployment, corruption and repression.
A total of six people, four protesters and two policemen, have been killed so far in the largely unprecedented mass anger at the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president.
"The people want the regime to fall," protesters chanted. MORE
Also, CBS has a roundup of all the stories that we heard from Wikileaks so far:
How WikiLeaks Enlightened Us in 2010
However, WikiLeaks' revelations also have many major implications for world relations. The following is a list of the more impactful WikiLeaks revelations from 2010, grouped by region.
The United States
- The U.S. Army considered WikiLeaks a national security threat as early as 2008, according to documents obtained and posted by WikiLeaks in March, 2010.
- Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders repeatedly, knowingly lied to the American public about rising sectarian violence in Iraq beginning in 2006, according to the cross-referencing of WikiLeaks' leaked Iraq war documents and former Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Ellen Knickmeyer's recollections.
- The Secretary of State's office encouraged U.S. diplomats at the United Nations to spy on their counterparts, including collecting data about the U.N. secretary general, his team and foreign diplomats, including credit card account numbers, according to documents from WikiLeaks U.S. diplomatic cable release. Later cables reveal the CIA draws up an annual "wish-list" for the State Department, which one year included the instructions to spy on the U.N.MORE
The Palestine Papers
Al Jazeera and The Guardian continue to release interesting stuff, which include such gems like this:
( Read more... )
These documents don't so much show death of the Peace process, but its evisceration - all the guts and none of the glory.
As Israeli blogger Noam Sheizaf wrote for 972 Magazine regarding the Palestine Papers, even we who were suspicious of the whole "we offered a bunch and they rejected it", the documents are shocking.
Reading the about the leak last night shocked me, not because I was surprised (though I was), but because this completely changes the playing field regarding the relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (Gaza is still under siege and as far as I can tell not being taken into account due to Hamas).
I don't feel I have much to add when it comes to in depth analysis. I've read a few bloggers who say they haven't lost hope in the two state solution and really, ideally, I'd like there to be two co-existing sovereign nations living side by side, but the asymmetry of this so-called co-existence can't ignored, especially not on light of these leaked documents in which Israel used it's considerable strength to be the "no partner" Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of being since Camp David in 2000.
To this I'd like to say:
Ehud Barak, you dirty stinking liar.
Tsipy Livni, you dirty stinking liar.
Ehud Olmert, you dirty stinking liar.
Bibi Netanyahu, you dirty stinking liar.
Avigdor Liberman, you batshit insane fascist.
The last one was for kicks.
As my dad said the whole affair is sad.
For the Palestinians this is a blow that I'm not sure the Authority can endure. The kowtowing and corruption, who knew... well, yeah.
Mahmoud Abbas, you dirty stinking liar.
Saeb Ereakat, you dirty stinking liar.
I was actually convinced I'd wake up to an uprising in the West Bank, but the Palestinian Authority's police force are good at suppressing that sort of thing.
I've recently been called an optisemistic person - meaning, I'm a pessimist under a guise of optimism, I laugh while a tell you the bad news. A tad psychotic, but hey, whatever gets me through the day, right?
This me, laughing while I give you the news.
Those damn dirty liars. Ha ha.
Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents – memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations – date from 1999 to 2010.
The material is voluminous and detailed; it provides an unprecedented look inside the continuing negotiations involving high-level American, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials.
Al Jazeera will release the documents between January 23-26th, 2011. They will reveal new details about:
- the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, and to be “creative” about the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount;
- the compromises the Palestinian Authority was prepared to make on refugees and the right of return;
- details of the PA’s security cooperation with Israel;
- and private exchanges between Palestinian and American negotiators in late 2009, when the Goldstone Report was being discussed at the United Nations.
The Guardian: The Palestine Papers
The 1,600 or so documents in the Palestine papers were obtained by al-Jazeera and shared in advance of publication with the Guardian in an effort to ensure the wider availability of their content.
The Guardian has authenticated the bulk of the papers independently, but we have not sought or been given access to the sources of the documents.
Al-Jazeera, who are publishing the papers in full on their website, aljazeera.net, has redacted minimal parts of the papers in order to protect their sources' identity.
As part of the agreement we are publishing up to eight documents a day in full on guardian.co.uk.
In the course of working with the documents over several weeks, the Guardian has formed its own judgments about specific stories and retained full editorial control of its coverage.
Co-operation between us and al-Jazeera has been restricted to discussions of the stories and agreeing dates on which we would release the information contained in specific documents. [source]
Commentary, reactions, analysis, background information, etc.:
Guardian: What the Palestine papers tell us – video (no embedding possible) -- Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne and Middle East editor, Ian Black, discuss the leak of secret notes from years of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
Guardian: The story behind the Palestine papers
Guardian: Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process
Guardian: Israel spurned Palestinian offer of 'biggest Yerushalayim in history'
Al Jazeera: Risks for peace -- "The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over."
Al Jazeera: "Shocking revelations" on Jerusalem -- "The chief Palestinian negotiator appears disconnected from his own people and his wider Arab and Muslim constituency."
Huffington Post: Palestine Papers: Al Jazeera, Guardian Release Documents On Israeli-Palestinian Conflict -- live blogging
The Jerusalem Post: Erekat denies PA agreed to make concessions on J'lem
Anyone have any interesting Israeli sources?
On Christmas Eve, Christian pilgrims from all over the world flock to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, while millions more remember it in prayers and carols. But the Palestinian inhabitants of Bethlehem remain virtually invisible to most Christians, who treat the tiny city as an almost mythical place that somehow exists beyond the realm of the real world.
Even in 2002 when Israel besieged Bethlehem, there was little movement in the West. While Israel pounded the city and terrorised its inhabitants, Western anger was directed at the Palestinian fighters who took refuge from the Israeli army in the Church of the Nativity.
The fact that the fighters were sons of Bethlehem families, that some of them were Christian and that to the residents of the city they were defenders confronting an invading army, was lost on a West marred by its hostility towards Muslims.
In 1994, The New York Times Magazine published an article by Jeffrey Goldberg about the arrival of "Allah" in Bethlehem. Although Allah simply means God in Arabic, in the explicitly racist article about the (limited) transition of power from Israel to the predominantly Muslim Palestinian Authority (PA), the word was used to convey a warning.
Goldberg spoke of the residents of the city, Muslim and Christian alike, with disdain, and while the article was an extreme example of support for Israel and disregard for Palestinians, it merely reflects the preconceived and media-reinforced biases that continue to prevent the Western public from associating Bethlehem with the wider concept of occupation.
Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country's siege on Gaza.
At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured when troops intercepted the convoy of ships dubbed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, Israeli radio reported.
The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.
Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, confirmed that the attack took place in international waters, saying: "This happened in waters outside of Israeli territory, but we have the right to defend ourselves."
Footage from the flotilla's lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, showed armed Israeli soldiers boarding the ship and helicopters flying overhead.
The Israeli military said four soldiers had been wounded and claimed troops opened fire after "demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs".
Free Gaza Movement, the organisers of the flotilla, however, said the troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the convoy.
Our correspondent said that a white surrender flag was raised from the ship and there was no live fire coming from the passengers.
Before losing communication with our correspondent, a voice in Hebrew was clearly heard saying: "Everyone shut up".
Al Jazeera Live Coverage.
ETA: the_future_modernes just shared some more links at the comments:
Why Did Israel Attack the Gaza Flotilla?
According to the Israeli human rights group Gisha.org, items barred from Gaza by the blockade include:
“sage, cardamom, cumin, coriander, ginger, jam, halva, vinegar, nutmeg, chocolate, fruit preserves, seeds and nuts, biscuits and sweets, potato chips, gas for soft drinks, dried fruit, fresh meat, plaster, tar, wood for construction, cement, iron, glucose, industrial salt, plastic/glass/metal containers, industrial margarine, tarpaulin, sheets for huts, fabric (for clothing), flavor and smell enhancers, fishing rods, various fishing nets, buoys, ropes for fishing, nylon nets for greenhouses, hatcheries and spare parts for hatcheries, spare parts for tractors, dairies for cowsheds, irrigation pipe systems, ropes to tie greenhouses planters for saplings, heaters for chicken farms, musical instruments, size A4 paper, writing implements, notebooks, newspapers, toys, razors, sewing machines and spare parts, heaters, horses, donkeys, goats, cattle, and chicks”
Blockading Gaza is clear violation of Geneva conventions
And, borrowing the_future_modernes words: Turkey is so pissed it will be sending in more supply ships, escorted by their navy.
MENA: Rage after Israel Attacks Gaza-bound Flotilla .
Difficult Times Call for Dangerous Jobs.
And Not a Drop to Drink for Palestinians.
And an analysis on what could happen: Killings Could Boomerang on Israel.
If the purpose of the activists is indeed to further international demands for an end to Israel's siege policy on Gaza, that may be the actual outcome of the bloody confrontation aboard the Marmara.
But, should they seek to exploit the Israeli sea assault as a way of undermining Israel's legitimacy, and shift the focus away from the illegitimacy of the continued occupation of the Palestinians, that could backfire.
A new wave of bloody conflict between Israelis and Palestinians may then, regrettably, be the only tangible result.
Collateral Murder Uncut Version
April 03, 2010 — Wikileaks has obtained and decrypted this previously unreleased video footage from a US Apache helicopter in 2007. It shows Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh, and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Eastern Baghdad. They are apparently assumed to be insurgents. After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and attempts to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well. The official statement on this incident initially listed all adults as insurgents and claimed the US military did not know how the deaths ocurred. Wikileaks released this video with transcripts and a package of supporting documents on April 5th 2010 on http://collateralmurder.com
Global Vocies:Kyrgyzstan: The “Archived” Revolution
The roots of the present revolution are various: South vs. North clash (Bakiev is from the South, the rebels are from the North), corruption and suppressive government (in recent years Kyrgyz people witnessed all forms of oppression from closings of the newspapers [ENG] to independent journalists' murders [EN]), Russia's Great Game interest, Ortega-y-Gasset'ian “revolt of the masses” etc). Whatever the real reasons of the Kyrgyz revolution of 2010 are it is important to note that it was overwhelmingly immediate, furious, bloody and… well-documented.
The role of the new media changed slightly this time compared to other dramatic events (like the protests in Moldova or Iran). Blogs and Twitter didn't serve as serious means of public mobilization since the Internet penetration rate is relatively small in Kyrgyzstan ( just 15 percent in 2009). However, new media were agile enough to cover all the main events giving detailed footage of initial protests in Talas, rampage in Bishkek and looting that followed. At the same time, new media were efficiently used by the opposition attracting the attention of international community and shifting public opinion to the side of the protesters. The opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva (@otunbaeva), for instance, registered her account as soon as she became the head of the provisional government. On the other day, son of president Bakiev, Maxim opened a LiveJournal account to express the pro-government point of view.
As Gregory Asmolov concluded [RUS], it was not “journalists 2.0″ who were the most efficient in covering Kyrgyz events but the “editors 2.0″. Bloggers who both knew the region and were outside the country to see the big picture and collected the photographs, videos and Twitter confessions. Two most informed bloggers in this situation were people outside the country: US-based Yelena Skochilo (a.k.a. LJ user morrire) and Kazakhstan-based Vyacheslav Firsov (a.k.a. lord_fame). They managed to assemble the most complete collections of photos, videos and timelines
Trinidad & Tobago: Election Fever
With one action, the prorogation of Parliament, Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister thrust the country into election mode. (The constitution of the twin island republic states that from the moment Parliament is dissolved, a general election must be held in no fewer than 35 days and no more than 90). As the news broke, the blogosphere was rife with speculation that the move was made to pre-empt a no-confidence motion against Manning that had been scheduled for debate today in the House of Representatives, as well as to avoid the fallout over the report of the Uff Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Sector, which was critical of the modus operandi of the state-owned Urban Development Corporation of T&T (UDeCOTT) - which is not to say that bloggers are not asking other critical questions, some even as basic as “When?
Trinidad and Tobago girls, politics, sports, technology, carnival, and lifestyle, however, starts with the “Why?”:
Why now? Why would the Prime Minister risk losing Government with not even 3 years of his five-year term behind him?
Why? Why when the country can still call on record revenue and a commanding majority in Parliament?
The analysts are pinning it on the no-confidence motion; or Calder Hart. But as Chris Rock asked when speaking on the Columbine shootings, “Whatever happened to crazy?”
It's quite possible Manning is just a nut. A lunatic.
RIGHTS-US: Love Without Borders – Or Papers
Cuba:Old Havana reaches out to the hearing impaired
Peru: Ongoing Mining Strike
Palestinian Christians barred from Jerusalem for Easter
Our Bodies are shaking now: Rape follows Earthquake in Haiti
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Guatemala: Despite change to Penal Code, poor, indigenous Guatemalans lack resources to bring discrimination cases to trial.
South Korea insists it atomic program is for energy only
Diskin to Abbas: Defer UN vote on Goldstone or face 'second Gaza
The request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the United Nations Human Rights Council last year to postpone the vote on the Goldstone report followed a particularly tense meeting with the head of the Shin Bet security service, Haaretz has learned. At the October meeting in Ramallah, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told Abbas that if he did not ask for a deferral of the vote on the critical report on last year's military operation, Israel would turn the West Bank into a "second Gaza."MORE
Also: MIDEAST: Israel Jails Palestinian Peace Activists and MIDEAST: Sale of Land to Israel Threatens to Split Church
This is going to end well.
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Huge link list of stories about Muslim women
In the Arab world, everyone has an opinion about everything. This week we go to Cairo and with 19 million residents - thats a lot of opinions.The Arab street - Cairo - 16 Nov - Pt 2
The Arab street - Marrakesh - 23 Nov 09 - Pt 1
Terrorism, the economy and the USA's role in the Middle East all are issues that excite strong opinion and argument in Morocco's third largest city.
The Arab street - Marrakesh - 23 November 09 - Pt 2
Efforts to prosecute those who may have committed war crimes in Israel's war on Gaza have spread beyond the Middle East.
A lawyer in South Africa has identified 75 South African nationals who he says were fighting with the Israeli army in the war earlier this year.
Feroze Boda, based in Johannesburg and working on behalf of two local pro-Palestinian organisations, says the soldiers should face court action for their involvement.
Imran Garda reports from Johannesburg.
Diplomats pressure Palestinian Authority not to back UN report conclding that War Crimes were committed in Gaza
GENEVA – The Palestinian Authority, under heavy pressure from the United States, has withdrawn its support for a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on alleged war crimes in Gaza, diplomats said Thursday.( Read more... )
The resolution endorses a U.N. report that claims both Israel and Palestinian militant groups committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during their Dec. 27-Jan. 18 conflict.
Palestinian officials earlier this week welcomed the report when it was presented to the Geneva-based rights council, while Israel and the United States have strongly rejected the findings.
U.N. and European diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with reporters, said the Palestinian delegation's surprise turnaround means any resolution on the report would likely be delayed until next March.
Although the Palestinians aren't voting members of the 47-nation rights council, Arab and Muslim countries who control the body may be reluctant to press ahead with the resolution Friday without Palestinian support.
A senior U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Palestinian decision came after "intense diplomacy" by Washington to convince the Palestinian leadership that going ahead with the resolution would harm the Middle East peace process.
This did not play too well back home.
Palestinians U-turn on Gaza report
The Palestinian Authority appears to be attempting an about turn on endorsing the Goldstone report that criticises Israel's conduct in its war on Gaza.
The Palestinian representative to the United Nations in Geneva said he was in talks to convene an emergency session of the world body's human rights council to discuss the report.
Ibrahim Khreisheh's announcement on Thursday comes a day after the UN Security Council rejected Libya's request for an emergency session on the report.
Published at the end of September, the UN-sanctioned report by Richard Goldstone, a former South African judge, identifies war crimes committed during Israel's war on Gaza between last December and January.
The move by Khreisheh comes after Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, was strongly condemned for his perceived role in delaying a vote at the UN Human Rights Council last week on whether to endorse the findings of the report.
Such a vote would have been one of many steps to bring Israel before a war crimes tribunal.
OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM, Sep 7 (IPS) - In the early morning sunlight, the smoky window of the plush new apartment reflects back a golden tinge from the Dome of the Rock that stands at the heart of Islam's third holiest shrine.
Down across the valley from the walled Old City, families have already started moving into some of the 91 apartments in this new 240-family compound of Jewish settlers. On the balcony, a woman in a light blue dress and white kerchief is hanging her laundry. She waves away any attempt to strike up conversation.
This is Jabel Mukaber, an Arab neighbourhood of 25,000 Palestinians on the city's south-eastern outskirts. The area of the compound - privately built, but Israeli government-approved - has been re-named "Nof Zion" - "View of Zion".
Oddly, it's the names of the main access roads into the settlement that have created a political stir - among Israelis.
Beneath the balcony the road sign reads dryly, "Road 8070: Temporary Name".
Last week, the Israeli-controlled municipality announced that "8070" will be permanently named in memory of one of the country's most revered comic actors, Shaike Ofir.
His widow Lydia says she wasn't made aware that the new settlement lies in the heart of an existing Palestinian quarter. She was conned into believing that the street named after her late husband is located in a nearby new Jewish neighbourhood that Israel built after the start of the occupation in 1967 just beyond the old dividing line between eastern and western Jerusalem.
For Lydia, like for many Israelis, that would have been acceptable as part of the national consensus around the "United Jerusalem" they consider their capital city.
Now, Lydia is trying to retract her consent: "I'm sure Shaike would not have wanted a street in a settlement named after him," she declares. Their daughter, Karine, calls the decision "bizarre, ridiculous and pathetic."
"Pathetic" is hardly the term Palestinians living under the shadow of the compound would use to qualify their new neighbours: "We've nothing against Jews, but they are crowding us out of here," says Muhammad Hamoudi Issa.MORE