Amid a growing international boycott campaign against Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has labeled boycotters as anti-Semites.
“In the past anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of” Israel, Netanyahu said on Monday.
The Palestinian-led movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has generated increasing concerns in Israel. The boycott has been growing recently, mainly in Europe, where some businesses and pension funds have cut investments or trade with Israeli firms they say are connected to the West Bank settlements, Ynetnews, the website for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, reported.
Earlier in the month, US Secretary of State John Kerry pointed to “an increasing de-legitimization” campaign building up against Israel internationally and “talk of boycotts” if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not end.
The Israeli prime minister also said, “I think that it is important that the boycotters be exposed for what they are, they are classical anti-Semites in modern garb.”
source:The Electronic Intifada
Eyewitnesses in Hebron say that Israeli settlers may be preparing to seize the home of the Abu Rajab family which they first invaded and occupied for several days in April 2012.
At that time, an Israeli court ordered the settlers out of the house, but never allowed the Abu Rajab family who had lived in it to return.
Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the settlers to move back into the three-story building, in response to the killing of an Israeli occupation soldier in the city by an unknown shooter on Sunday.
Meanwhile, thousands of Israeli occupation soldiers have been staging raids and mass arrests of Palestinians in Hebron, subjecting residents young and old to abusive treatment, according to witnesses.
Settlers set up temporary shelters
Israeli settlers in Hebron set up a protest tent on 24 September next to the Abu Rajab home, which they seized for several days in April 2012 and plan to reoccupy.
(Mamoun Wazwaz / APA images)
On Tuesday, Israeli judicial authorities said that Netanyahu’s call had been his personal opinion, and that the settlers would have to await a court order before they would be allowed to occupy the Abu Rajab home.
However, there are signs that the settlers may already be preparing to seize the property.
A member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) (cpt.org), reached by telephone in Hebron, told The Electronic Intifada:
This morning we were there at about 7:00 doing our school patrol at checkpoint 209, right next to the Abu Rajab house. We could see there were a lot of settlers about. One or two of them were armed. They had put up one or two of those temporary shelters directly outside the building. And we saw some people inside the building. We’re not sure if they were soldiers or settlers.
This evening when we went past the lights in the building were all on. We didn’t see anyone moving around inside, but the lights were all on.
CPT, which has been present in Hebron since 1995, monitors checkpoints in the morning as Palestinian teachers and students walk through, often facing violence and harassment from soldiers and settlers.
Settlers seized home from Abu Rajab family
Settlers violently occupied the Abu Rajab house in April 2012, apparently assisted by Israeli occupation forces.
But they were evicted a week later after an Israeli court ruled that the house should be sealed until it decided who owned it.
Settlers claim to have purchased the Abu Rajab house, which they’ve dubbed “Beit Hamachpela,” but this is contested by members of the Abu Rajab family, who have lived in it for generations.
As the Guardian reported in April 2012:
Hazem Abu Rajab, 25, a member of the extended Palestinian family living in the large three-storey property, said they were woken at 1am by Israeli soldiers, armed and wearing black, who broke down three doors. “Within five minutes, 100 to 150 settlers were inside,” he said. The family insisted it had the deeds and other documentation, and pointed out that anyone legitimately purchasing a property would use keys rather than break down doors in the middle of the night.
The house had been successively inherited by the original owner’s sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, said Abu Rajab. “If the settlers did buy, it was from one owner out of many. This house belongs to the whole family.”
Settlers often claim to have “purchased” Palestinian properties as a pretext to violently seize them from their owners.
The video above, posted on YouTube on 6 April 2012, shows Palestinians in Hebron attempting to visit members of the Abu Rajab family still in the house, but being turned away by occupation forces.
Risk to Palestinian schoolchildren
Early on Tuesday, CPT sent out an email release stating:
The resettlement of the Abu Rajab house is a significant risk directly to the community of Hebron, international law and human rights, as settlements are illegal under international law and impede the on going peace process.
In addition to the legality of the settlement, the location of the [Abu Rajab house] will constitute a severe threat to the freedom of movement for Palestinians. The house sits between two Palestinian schools and the 209 Israeli military checkpoint. If the settlement remains, it will be in the middle of an area hundreds of Palestinian children must pass in order to attend early morning classes.
At the mercy of settlers
A few hundred Israeli settlers, among the most extreme and racist in the West Bank, have steadily been taking over the heart of Hebron – a Palestinian city of more than 160,000 – with the protection and assistance of Israeli occupation forces.
Under a 1997 agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hebron was partitioned into two zones: “H1” and “H2.”
H1 is nominally administered by the Palestinian Authority and is home to more than 120,000 Palestinians.
H2, under full Israeli military rule, includes Hebron’s historic Old City as well as the Ibrahimi Mosque in which the settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinian men and boys in February 1994.
Israeli occupation forces severely restrict the movement of more than 30,000 Palestinians in H2 while Israeli settlers move about freely under army protection.
This has left much of the city center a ghost town as severe restrictions and harassment keep Palestinians out of the area.
A 2006 survey by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem found that at least 1,014 Palestinian homes in the Old City of Hebron had been vacated by their occupants and more than 1,800 businesses had shuttered due to the Israeli takeover.
This represented 42 percent of the housing units in the district and more than three-quarters of the businesses.
Mass arrests and raids
Israel has intensified its assault on Palestinian in Hebron since Sunday’s shooting of the occupation soldier.
Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer condemned Israel’s mass arrests and raids
Quoting eyewitnesses, the group said that approximately 5,000 Israeli soldiers had been deployed in several areas of the city.
The witnesses said that the soldiers raided homes and patrolled the streets with megaphones demanding that all residents over the age of 18 report to the main squares.
There, witnesses said, the occupation forces “made them put their hands above their heads and sit in stressful positions in parallel lines, then shackled their hands behind their backs and interrogated them.”
Tensions have been rising in Hebron ever since Israeli occupation forces tightened their stranglehold on the Old City last week so that Israeli settlers from outside the city could visit en masse during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Israeli provocations, including roadblocks and additional checkpoints severely hampering the lives of Palestinians, led to clashes in which the occupation forces fired tear gas, sound bombs and rubber-coated steel balls at youths resisting with stones.
Seventeen Palestinians were injured by occupation forces firing tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets and in one case live ammunition on Tuesday as well, according to Ma’an News Agency.
Frequent attacks by soldiers and settlers
Palestinians in Hebron face frequent harassment and violence at the hands of soldiers and settlers. Children have faced violent arrest on the way to school.
Children and youths are led from their homes in the middle of the night blindfolded.
Settlers stage racist parades mocking the Palestinians who live under their and the army’s tyranny.
Last December, on his seventeenth birthday, Muhammad al-Salaymeh, a Palestinian high schooler, was arbitrarily shot dead by Nofar Mizrahi, an Israeli occupation soldier stationed at a checkpoint near the boy’s home.
Mizrahi gave Israeli media a version of the circumstances around the killing contradicted by video evidence.
The killing, like thousands of others by Israeli occupation forces, has never been independently and credibly investigated.
A year before his murder, al-Salaymeh had spoken on Palestinian television about the situation in Hebron:
“There are always closures, but we are steadfast. We will never leave our house in which we were raised for years and generations, because we will be steadfast to our last breath, until we die.”
What has the record of 2011’s Arab uprisings taught us so far? One could list many things, but to me, the most striking reality is the now open nature of the alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel. This alliance represents a permanent counter-revolution which together dominates the region – fully backed by the imperial hegemony run out of Washington DC. The two regimes are both military dictatorships in very different ways. The two regimes are also theocracies, each in their own way. The extreme Wahhabist religious vision of the sprawling Saudi royal family which dominates the country may lead you to think it would hate the so-called “Jewish state”. Not so. While Saudi regime media does indeed regularly spew anti-Semitism, the Zionist movement has never really cared about anti-Semitism, except as a bludgeon with which to smear its enemies. No: in fact, in the Israeli press it is typical to see Saudi Arabia referred to as a “moderate” regime. This “moderate” regime is in fact a ruthless, absolutest monarchy which does not even bother with the the pretence of sham 99-percent elections – the royal family, with its thousands of ageing princes simply rules the country with an iron fist, jailing all dissenters. After the 2011 popular uprising which ousted the Tunisian dictator Zein eldin Ben Ali from power where did he flee? Saudi Arabia, where he was welcomed by the king with open arms. Since then, the kingdom has refused all extradition requests from Tunisia. The Saudis, drawing on their seemingly limitless oil wealth, are exporting death and destruction all over the region. In Syria, the Saudis lead the push for war, and are in fact fighting a proxy war there. In Lebanon, the Saudis are one of the most likely culprits behind a recent space of car bombs seemingly aimed at inciting sectarian clashes. Saudi money fairly sloshes around the region, into the pockets of court-stenographer “journalists” who use their platforms to parrot Saudi foreign policy goals and and spread hatred and sectarianism. Speaking to the New York times recently Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York, summed up current Israeli policy in Syria: “Let them both [sides] bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this [civil war] lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.” The outgoing Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren this week claimed Israeli thinking was more equivocal, however: “we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” This would align more fully with Saudi Arabia’s policy goal to overthrow Assad – despite a brief entente in 2009 when King Abdullah paid an official visit to Damascus. Whatever the prevailing strategic thinking at the top in Israel, the once-tacit Saudi-Israeli alliance is now fairly open. Oren made it clear: “in the last 64 years there has probably never been a greater confluence of interest between us and several Gulf States. With these Gulf States we have agreements on Syria, on Egypt, on the Palestinian issue. We certainly have agreements on Iran. This is one of those opportunities presented by the Arab Spring.” In Egypt, the Saudis actually led the counter-revolution – with Israel’s diplomatic backing – encouraging American leaders to strongly back dictator Hosni Mubarak when he was most under pressure in 2011. The Saudis seem resentful that the Obama administration was caught on the back-foot and did not quite know how to respond to the Arab uprisings. Since then, a counter-revolution has dominated in Egypt. General Sisi military coup regime, which seized power in July, is fully backed by the Saudis. The royals have pledged billions in aid to the regime should US military aid be cut (a highly unlikely prospect). Writing in the Jewish Chronicle last month, Haaretz’s London correspondent Anshel Pfeffer said that Israeli officials are quietly satisfied with the coup. “We know al-Sisi and we can do business with him,” he claims one senior Israeli security official told him. In Bahrain, another popular uprising in 2011 was crushed more directly – with Saudi troops. The Saudi role in funding counter-revolution and political violence has a long history – and not only in the region. This is another aspect where Israel and the Saudi royals see eye-to-eye. In the 1980s, the US Congress for a time blocked the Reagan administration’s efforts to fund and arm the Contras – the death squads the CIA was using to fight left wing government in Nicaragua (all the while pretending in the US media they were “revolutionaries” and “freedom fighters”). Who did the CIA turn to to fill the gap? Saudi Arabia and Israel. In fact the very same Saudi prince who was in charge of arming the Contras then is now running guns into Syria — Prince Bandar bin Sultan – once again with the help of the CIA (and also British spooks). Until the despotic Saudi regime is no long able to export its oil wealth and political violence throughout the region, the prospects for genuine democratic change in the Arab world seem dim — and democracy in the Arab world is what Israel fears the most. Despite the rash of civil wars, near-civil wars or virtually collapsed states throughout the region right now, one thing seems certain: when the dust settles, Israel will still be unpopular. An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. – See more at: http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/inquiry/7447-israel-and-saudi-arabia-the-permanent-counter-revolution?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+middleeastmonitor%2Ffeed+%28Middle+East+Monitor+News%29#sthash.uvbiePIK.dpuf
By Batsheva Sobelman
JERUSALEM– Israel has 80 nuclear warheads and the potential to double that number, according to a new report by U.S. experts.
In the Global Nuclear Weapons Inventories, recently published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, proliferation experts Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris write that Israel stopped production of nuclear warheads in 2004.
But the country has enough fissile material for an additional 115 to 190 warheads, according to the report, meaning it could as much as double its arsenal.
Previous estimates have been higher but the new figures agree with the 2013 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute yearbook on armament and international security. The yearbook estimated 50 of Israel’s nuclear warheads were for medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 were for for bombs carried by aircraft, according to a report in the Guardian.
Although widely assumed a nuclear power, Israel has never acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons or capabilities and continues to maintain its decades-old “strategic ambiguity” policy on the matter, neither confirming nor denying foreign reports on the issue.
In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician, leaked the country’s alleged nuclear secrets to a British newspaper, and said Israel had at least 100 nuclear weapons. Vanunu was later convicted of espionage and treason and was released from jail in 2004 after serving 17 years.
Israel continued to adhere to its vagueness policy after comments made by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2006 were interpreted by many as an inadvertent confirmation that Israel had nuclear weapons.
Following Sunday’s reports, Israeli defense analyst Amir Oren wrote that the ambiguity policy has done “its duty honorably and can now retire.” In the current regional conditions, Israel could benefit from giving up the vagueness, he wrote in Haaretz.
Founded in 1952, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, is nearly as old as the state. It acknowledges two “nuclear research centers,” one in central Israel, the other in the Negev desert.
The facility at Soreq is under supervision of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors routinely ensure it is being used for research purposes only.
Earlier this year, an IAEA team inspected the facility at Israel’s request for a first-ever comprehensive safety review, a concern after the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.
The 40-year-old facility at Soreq is expected to be phased out by the end of the decade and replaced with a particle accelerator, according to Israeli media.
But the nuclear facility in Dimona, a location in Israel’s southern Negev desert, is off-limits for the IAEA and not under its supervision. According to foreign reports, that is where the nuclear warheads have been produced since 1967.
Of the many multilateral agreements on nuclear issues the IAEA offers, Israel has signed a few and ratified fewer, mostly relating to nuclear safety issues. But it is not a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In 2010, Israel dismissed a demand from the parties to join.
(A letter from Henry Kissinger to President Nixon in 1969 describes U.S. concerns that Israel “make no visible introduction of nuclear weapons” or “undertake a nuclear test program”. According to the letter, the Israeli government told the U.S. it “would not become a nuclear power.”)
The NSA regularly shares raw US intelligence data with Israel without even removing information about American citizens, according to the latest revelation published by the Guardian. The report is based on a document leaked by Edward Snowden.
On Tuesday, September 11, the Guardian published a previously undisclosed document which revealed top-secret policies in place since 2009 that are used to share personal phone and Internet data pertaining to United States citizens with American ally Israel.
The document, a five-page memorandum authorized by the National Security Agency near the beginning of US President Barack Obama’s first administration, outlines a deal between the NSA and Israel’s SIGINT National Unit, or ISNU.
“This agreement,” the memo begins, “prescribes procedures and responsibilities for ensuring” privacy safeguards are implemented to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of US citizens with regards to the direct sharing of raw intelligence collected by the NSA with its Israeli counterpart.
That data, the document later explains, includes raw traffic picked up by the American spy office such as “unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence (DNI) metadata and content” which is never necessarily scrutinized by US officials before sent to Israeli agents.
“Seems the only info actually being ‘minimized’ is the info #NSA shares with the American public,” American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer tweeted following publication of the Guardian piece. “NSA is really good at minimizing that.”
But while the contents of emails and phone calls involving most US persons are fair game to be collected by Israeli intelligence, a select group of Americans are sparred from international surveillance: elected officials. The memo mandates that the Israelis must “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government.” That pool of exempt persons is defined as “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the Supreme Court).”
The Guardian notes, however, that other leaked documents uncovered as of late indicate that the US intelligence community may have reservations nonetheless with sharing info with even an ally as tried and true as Israel.
“On the one hand, the Israelis are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems,” a senior NSA official says in a 2008 NSA document seen by the Guardian but not published in Wednesday’s piece. “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”
A newly-discovered document of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency revealed Monday by Foreign Policy magazine shows that the U.S. agency had decisive evidence dating back to at least the 1980s that Israel had a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.
The revelation comes in the midst of reports about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on August 21st, although there is still no clarity as to whether the regime or the rebels carried out the attack, or whether it was an accident.
Israeli nuclear and chemical weapons manufacturing facility at Dimona (image by sodahead.com)
While U.S. President Barack Obama threatened to go to war with Syria over the attack, the Syrian government has denied responsibility, and has agreed to a proposal by the Russian government to open its stores of chemical weapons to international inspection and destruction.
The document revealed by Foreign Policy magazine on Monday shows that, in addition to building up a nuclear stockpile of an estimated three hundred nuclear weapons during the 1960s and 70s, the Israeli military also developed an extensive stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.
The 1983 document stated that U.S. spy satellites had identified “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.”
“While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents,” the document adds, “several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems.”
The single page of a larger CIA report was discovered at the Ronald Reagan Library in California in its unredacted form – the report had been released several years ago to the National Archives, but was heavily censored.
According to the Foreign Policy report, “Israeli historian Avner Cohen, in his 1988 book Israel and the Bomb, wrote that Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion secretly ordered that a stockpile of chemical weapons be built at about the time of the 1956 war between Israel and Egypt. The CIA, on the other hand, believed that Israel did not begin work on chemical weapons until either the late 1960s or the early 1970s.
The article included the following assessment from the 1983 CIA report: “Israel, finding itself surrounded by frontline Arab states with budding CW [chemical weapons] capabilities, became increasingly conscious of its vulnerability to chemical attack. Its sensitivities were galvanized by the capture of large quantities of Soviet CW-related equipment during both the 1967 Arab-Israeli and the 1973 Yom Kippur wars. As a result, Israel undertook a program of chemical warfare preparations in both offensive and protective areas.”
The Israeli government has harshly criticized the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons three weeks ago, and has encouraged President Obama’s pledge to respond militarily.
Israel did sign the Convention to Ban Chemical Weapons, but the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) never ratified the treaty. Israel has never opened its nuclear facility or its chemical weapons stockpile to international inspections.
Israel must give Palestinians gas masks: official
Israel must provide Palestinians living in the occupied territories with gas masks, a Palestinian official has said, in the event of a spillover of violence from Syria. Israel has been distributing gas masks to its citizens over the last two weeks amid…
September 3, 2013 |
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Editor’s note: What is the driving force in the building U.S. campaign to launch attacks on Syria? Max Blumenthal below argues that Israel’s military intelligence and political leadership are forcing the issue, and a recent New York Times article described the Israel lobby as a powerful presence in the White House’s deliberations. Other journalists, like the Guardian’s Nafeez Ahmed have suggested that the impetus for attacking Syria is part of a larger regional multi-year project to sustain control over the production of oil and gas by Western oil companies. Noam Chomsky, long-time scholar and commentator on the Mideast has argued persuasively that the Israel lobby’s influence in the United States is overstated; essentially arguing that Israel is a satellite of US power, and that its priorities are addressed to the extent that the US is in agreement with its wishes.
How Israel Is driving the US to War in Syria by Max Blumenthal
President Barack Obama’s August 31 announcement that he would seek congressional authorization to strike Syria has complicated an aggressive Israeli campaign to render a US attack inevitable. While the Israelis are far from the only force in bringing the US to the brink of war – obviously Assad’s own actions are the driving factor – their dubious intelligence assessments have proven pivotal.
On April 25, the head of the Israeli army’s Military Intelligence research and analysis division, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, delivered a high profile lecture at the military-linked Institute for National Security Studies. “To the best of our professional understanding, the [Syrian] regime has used lethal chemical weapons,” Brun declared, referring to March 19 attacks near Damascus and Aleppo.
“The very fact that they have used chemical weapons without any appropriate reaction,” Brun said, “is a very worrying development, because it might signal that this is legitimate.”
The stunning statement by the Israeli army’s top intelligence analyst was significantly stronger than suspicions expressed days before by the UK and France about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons. It was clearly aimed at Obama, who had declared in the summer of 2012 that chemical weapons attacks on civilian targets would transgress a “red line” and trigger US military action. But the White House pushed back against the Israeli ploy, dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to demand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supply more conclusive evidence.
“I don’t know yet what the facts are,” Kerry said after a phone call with Netanyahu, “I don’t think anybody knows what they are.”
Specious intelligence brightens the red line
Flash forward to the August 21 Ghouta massacre, where over 1000 Syrian civilians died without any sign of external wounds in a series of attacks. As in April, Israel has come forward with intelligence supposedly proving that the victims of the attacks died from nerve gas deployed by units from Assad’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
On August 24, Israel’s Channel 2 broadcast a report claiming that the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armored Division of Assad’s SAA fired the nerve gas shells on Ghouta. Channel 2 added that Israel was relaying its concerns to Washington, suggesting an urgent demand for US action. The report was echoed by an August 30 article in Germany’s Focus magazine claiming that Israeli army’s Unit 8200 — a cyber-warfare division that functions much like the American NSA — had intercepted communications of top Syrian officials ordering the chemical attack.
Oddly, neither outlet was able to reproduce audio or any quotes of the conversation between the Syrian officials. Channel 2 did not appear to cite any source at all – it referred only to “the assessment in Israel” – while Focus relied on an unnamed former Mossad official for its supposed bombshell. The definitive nature of the Israeli intelligence on Ghouta stood in stark contrast to the kind introduced by other US allies, which was entirely circumstantial in nature. At the same time, it relied on murky sources and consisted of vague assertions.
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