.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Jordanian lawsuit against Danish newspapers over Motoons

I had missed this story:
Amman - Amman's public prosecutor on Tuesday [4/22] began hearings in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of 30 Jordanian media establishments against a dozen Danish papers which reprinted controversial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, judicial sources said.

The coalition, which is waging a campaign entitled The Prophet Unites Us, is seeking 'moral and material compensation' for the damages caused by the reprinting of the pictures, the group's lawyer Tareq Hawamdeh said.

'The lawsuit is based on the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Penal Code and the Press and Printing Law,' he added.

Public prosecutor Hassan Abdullat on Tuesday heard testimonies by the anti-Denmark campaign's leader Zakariya al-Sheikh, Member of the Jordanian lower house of parliament Ali Dalaeen and head of the Foodstuffs Traders Association Khalil Haj Tawfiq.

The chairman of the Jordan Bar Association Saleh Armouti, head of the Jordan Pharmacists Association Taher Shakhshir and chairman of the Amman-based Arab Human Rights Organization Hani Dahleh are to testify Wednesday.

Firas Press' elaboration today includes these tantalizing tidbits in autotranslation:
The Commission's task is confined to the interpretation and classification of articles on the case, then to analyse their implications for the mentality of the Arab and Muslim reader, which will help the court in making its final decision.
... The Jordanian 'Petra' news agency quoted the campaign for attorney Tarek Hawamdeh as saying that the prosecution case provides the right personal claim for material and moral damages caused by abusive cartoon drawings of the Noble Prophet in Danish newspapers.

The lawyer said the lawsuit 'demand for reparations newspapers resulting from their actions' alluding at the same time, the lack of appreciation of the value of compensation due to the enormity of damage, and added:' legal bases available allows the prosecution of the media and others who participated in a campaign of abuse '.

The Jordanian weekly newspaper, Shehan, in 2006 published the insulting cartoons which raised the anger of the Jordanian street at the time.

However, the newspaper defended itself, and wrote an article entitled 'Islamic uprising against the abuse of Danish', where it invited Muslims to use reason and said: 'Which is more detrimental to Islam than a Muslim carrying a suicide bomb belt in a wedding ceremony in Oman or anywhere else? Which provides fuel for the world trying to defame Islam and Muslims: caricature drawings or realistic scene of the beheading of a hostage with a sword in front of the cameras while chanting Allahu Akbar? '

Sheikh Zakaria, chairman of the Campaign for the Support of Jordan, expressed his delight at the Prophet's acceptance issue in a Jordanian court, and pledged to lift another case for the prosecution of Dutch MP 'Gert Vilders' which was broadcast in late March the anti-Islam "Fitna" on the Internet. The Sheikh said that the coming period would witness also similar lawsuits in a number of Arab and Islamic states.

Al Jazeera and B'Tselem agree that missile didn't hit house

Apparently, Al Jazeera and B'Tselem are more concerned with the truth than most of the Western media who uncritically reported that an Israeli tank shell (or missile) went through the roof of the Abu Me'tiq home and that there were no terrorists outside. They don't quite believe the IDF version either, but it is abundantly clear that the initial Palestinian Arab reports were simply lies.

Al-Jazeera:
Reports suggest that the explosion was caused by a missile from an Israeli drone, targeting an unarmed fighter who had moved to stand outside the house.

[Al Jazeera correspondent] Chater said there appeared to have been two missiles fired from the drone.

The first missile targeted four fighters, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and carrying a bag containing rocket-propelled grenades.

He said the men had put the bag down and the grenades were later recovered, intact, by B'Tselem.

"It [the bag] did not explode. There was no secondary explosion as the Israeli military are saying.

"Three men out of the four were injured by that first missile attack ... the fourth one, unarmed, walked down the street," he said.

"He was killed by a second blast and that second blast from the drone caused the deaths of the mother and her four children."
B'Tselem:
B'Tselem’s investigation indicates that an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at three armed Palestinians standing on a street in the northern section of Beit Hanun, wounding them and a nearby civilian. About a minute later, the aircraft fired a second missile, this one at a fourth armed man, who was about fifteen meters from where the first missile landed, and about one meter from the gate of the Abu Me'tiq family’s house. This missile killed the fourth armed man and the five members of the family.

In its letter, B'Tselem states that the material it has collected, including an analysis of the area, photographs of bodies and eyewitness accounts, raise doubt about the IDF Spokesperson’s contention that a secondary explosion is what killed the family. B'Tselem called on the IDF Spokesperson’s office to publish all the material in IDF hands that documents the incident, especially the UAV photos, which could prove or refute this claim.
There are still many inconsistencies between Al Jazeera's and B'Tselem's accounts, as well as the PCHR initial report, but all agree that the Palestinian Arab version was complete fiction.

It is also curious why B'Tselem doesn't mention the bag of RPGs that Al-Jazeera claims B'Tselem recovered. I emailed B'Tselem to see if they have any more information, or, especially, photographs of the house, and asking them to release all of their information just as they demand the IDF does the same. The information can be looked at objectively; their results cannot because they might be colored by a reliance on "witnesses" who are not so interested in the truth.

Palestinian Arab nationalism and Islamism

In The New Republic, Benny Morris reviews Hillel Cohen's "Army of Shadows" (see my review here.) It is a lengthy and comprehensive review.

At the end Morris expands on a theme that Cohen only peripherally touches upon but it is an important point that needs to be examined further:
Cohen's learned book, especially its lengthy citations from Zionist intelligence reports and from Arab letters and memoranda, incidentally sheds light on a rarely illumined aspect of Palestinian nationalism (and one that indirectly "explains" at least some of the collaborators). From the first, the nationalism of Palestine's Arabs was blatantly religious. Almost all the "nationalist" statements Cohen quotes were couched in religious or semi- religious terms. We are dealing here with an Islamic nationalism. Indeed, when the Palestinian national struggle turned significantly violent, against the British in 1936-1939 and against the Zionists in 1947-1948, the struggle was defined by the movement's leaders as "a religious holy war," a jihad. And those rejecting Husseini's leadership, in peacetime as in wartime, were deemed heretics as well as traitors. The gang that murdered a collaborator in Balad al- Sheikh, a village near Haifa, hung a placard in the village square reading: "We hereby inform you that on 8 March 1939, Nimer the policeman was executed ... as he betrayed his religion and his homeland.... The supreme God revealed to those who preserve their religion and their homeland that he betrayed them, and they did to him what Muslim law commands. Because the supreme and holy God said: 'Fight the heretics and hypocrites; their dwelling-place is hell.'"

This Islamism colored the Palestinian national movement from its conception. When, in 1911, the Jaffa newspaper Filastin attacked land-sellers, it declared: "All land belongs to God, but the land on which we live belongs to the homeland [watan], at the command of God." "Islam does not forgive traitors," village mukhtars were told by urban nationalists in 1920. In 1925, the mufti of Gaza, Hajj Muhammad Said al-Husseini, issued a fatwa forbidding land sales to Jews. The Jews, he said, were no longer a protected people (as they had been in the Islamic world during the previous thirteen centuries). Muslims who helped them were to be treated as heretics, and Christians who aided them were to be deported.

A more comprehensive fatwa against land sales was issued by the ulama (the authorities on law and religion) of Palestine in January 1935. It declared that "the seller and speculator and agent in [the sale of] the land of Palestine to Jews" abetted the prevention of "the mention of Allah's name in mosques," and accepted "the Jews as rulers," and offended "Allah and his messenger and the faithful," and betrayed "Allah and his messenger and believers." These abettors were to be cast out of the community of the faithful, "even if they are parents or children or brothers or spouses." Hajj Amin alHusseini was the first signatory to this edict; and his name was followed by those of the muftis of Jenin, Beersheba, Nablus, Safed, and Tiberias. Cohen observes that this fatwa applied "the traditional [religious] concept of khiyana--betrayal--to traitors against the national cause."

A year later, the mufti and qadi (religious judge) of Nablus toured the neighboring villages and preached that anyone who killed a land-seller "would reside in paradise in the company of the righteous people of the world." Similarly, penitent collaborators made public professions of a clearly religious cast: "I call on Allah, may He be exalted, to bear witness ... I call on Allah and the angels and the prophets and the knights of Palestinian nationalism to bear witness that if I violate this oath, I will kill myself," declared Abd al-Fattah Darwish, of al-Maliha, in May 1936. The religious discourse prohibiting the sale of land to Jews was also adopted by the Christian Arab clergy of Palestine, no doubt under Muslim pressure. A congress of Christian clerics that same year ruled that "whoever sells or speculates in the sale of any portion of the homeland is considered the same as one who sells the place of Jesus' birth or his tomb and as such will be considered a heretic against the principles of Christianity and all believers are required to ban and interdict him." And finally, in 1947, Jamal al-Husseini, Hajj Amin's cousin and deputy, reportedly called for the murder of land-sellers: "Murder them, murder them. Our religion commands this and you must do as the religion commands."


The religious discourse underpinning Palestinian nationalism was not limited to the matter of land sales. The founding declaration of the Higher Arab Committee, the executive body chaired by Hajj Amin alHusseini that was to lead the Palestinians both in the 1936-1939 Revolt and in the 1947-1948 war against the Yishuv, referred to the Palestinian National movement as "the holy national jihad movement." The following year, in July 1937, those who supported the British Peel Commission recommendations--to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish states--were denounced as heretics, whereas those destroying Jewish property would be declared saints.

Ideologically, it is only a short leap from these utterances to those of the Hamas, the Islamist movement which today dominates the Palestinian political arena and Palestinian nationalism. It would appear that the secularism of Fatah, the political party led by Yasir Arafat that dominated the Palestinian national movement from the 1960s until the turn of the century, was a cultural aberration, something of an illusion, an ideological patina in part adopted by Palestinian intellectuals and politicians to win over hearts and minds in the largely secular West. And yet, when looking at footage of Arafat on his knees in a mosque at prayer, five times a day, day in, day out, and of Fatah suicide bombers on their way to destroy a bus or restaurant in downtown Tel Aviv declaiming the certainty of meeting up with virgins in paradise, one may be permitted to conclude that the secular declarations of the 1980s and 1990s were mere window dressing, and did not really reflect the spirit of Palestinian politics. And no sooner had the grand old man of Palestinian politics departed the scene than Hamas won the first--and free--Palestinian general elections in which it participated.

Cohen indirectly establishes a particular connection between collaboration and the nature of Palestinian nationalism, though he does not explicitly dwell on the matter. The ardent nationalists of the Mandate years were in large measure driven by their Islamic faith and tenets--but the collaborators often exhibited, if not outright apostasy, then at least a measure of religious (as well as nationalist-political) backsliding. Cohen relates the story of Kamel and Sharif Shanti, a leading land-selling family in Qalqilya. Tellingly, they both married Jewish women. During Ramadan 1935, Sharif reportedly broke the fast and ate during daytime in public.

In 1929, Filastin reported that the Zionist Congress had allocated one million pounds for the purchase of land, and commented that some "twenty people--a portion of the nation that should not be discounted--will [now] have all their worries dispelled ... because the bars and dance clubs will now be wide open" to them. Another newspaper reported that "the [Jewish] city of Tel Aviv, its streets and its cafes, buzz each day with large groups of fellahin and samasirah [speculators] who humiliate themselves and sell the fertile lands of the foothills."

The leaders of the Bedouin Ghazawiyya tribe, the Zeinati clan, in the Beit Shean Valley sold land to the Jews and then spent their days in "endless trips to Haifa ... [in] fancy hotels [and] ... cafes, replacing horses with automobiles, installing a radio in their tents." All this "caused a revolution in their lives and, necessarily, their religion," a member of the neighboring Kibbutz Maoz Hayyim noted. There are reports that the Zionist land-purchasing agencies took sellers and speculators on binges in Haifa and Tel Aviv and provided them with women during the deal-making negotiations. And the ostentatious samasirah behavior triggered a vicious cycle in which they were eventually forced to sell more and more land, and help in the sale of others' lands, to maintain their new lifestyle. The outcome was predictable. The head of the Zeinati clan, Emir Muhammad, "was murdered in 1946 as he came out of a barbershop in Haifa."

So there appears to have been a correlation between irreligiosity and collaboration. Or, put another way, the more ardently religious a Palestinian Arab was, the less likely he was to collaborate with the Zionists. This was demonstrated in no uncertain terms in Israel's battle with Palestinian violence decades later: While the Israeli security services thoroughly penetrated the Fatah movement before, during, and after the First Intifada, they had great difficulty in recruiting Hamas operatives (and, incidentally, fundamentalist Hezbollah men in Lebanon).


Looking beyond the religious-secular divide, what is to be learned from the phenomenon of Palestinian collaboration? Without doubt--and Cohen is mindful of this--it reveals a basic hollowness at the heart of Palestinian nationalism. Some pointed to the widespread nature of collaborationism and deduced that "there was no Palestinian people" or Palestinian national movement. Others asserted that if there was a Palestinian national movement, it was far from enjoying mass support, and that many if not most Arabs in Palestine put personal and familial and tribal interests before national interests. Or, put another way, that the "nationalism" of many of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine was only skin deep: after all, many thousands assisted the Zionists in one way or another. Cohen is correct, I think, in asserting that the widespread phenomenon of collaboration was a "constant and sharp reminder that many Palestinian Arabs did not accept the nationalist ethos, at least not as it was formulated by the Husseinis."

In their book The Palestinian People: A History, Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal wrote that Palestinian nationalism can be traced back to 1834, when a group of peasants in the Nablus area rebelled against their then-Egyptian rulers. Most historians disagree, and locate the birth of Palestinian Arab nationalism in the 1920s (and the start of general Arab nationalism only a few years before). But for years thereafter, Palestinian Arab nationalism remained the purview of middle- and upper-class families. Most peasants, and perhaps many among the urban poor as well--together, some 80 percent of the Palestine Arabs--lacked political consciousness or a "national" ideology. The masses could be periodically stirred to action by religious rhetoric (Islam certainly touched them to the quick), but this failed to bind them in a protracted political engagement, especially when the price had to be paid in blood. Cohen writes, too hesitantly in my view, that "the conduct of Palestinian society [during 1917-1948] might lead to the conclusion that ... [its] national spirit was not sufficient to the task at hand."

But of course the Palestinians were to change. Indeed, the disaster and the dispersion that befell them in 1948 was itself a major milestone in the formation of a truly "national" consciousness; and the results of the war in 1967 certainly abetted this development. By the time of the intifadas, millions of Palestinians had rallied to the cause, and many thousands were prepared to engage in political action and combat, and to pay the price in blood and imprisonment. By then it was incontrovertible that there was a Palestinian people. Palestinian nationalism may not have been during the Mandate, and may not be today, quite the secular, democratic, and open nationalism of modern Western Europe; and it may still be defined in large measure by what it wishes to destroy rather than by what it hopes to build. It is intolerant, violent, and--above all--religious. But it is most certainly a variety of nationalism.

I have touched on the religious aspects of early Palestinian Arab nationalism in the past.

While it is an important component of nationalism, I am not sure that Morris' flip-side equation of irreligiosity with collaboration (or, if you will, weaker nationalism) is as clear. I think that the weakness of their nationalism is rooted more in historical Arab cultural patterns.

Traditionally, Arab allegiance has been primarily to their clans, then to their religion, to their villages, to the Arab nation and only peripherally to their individual "nations." This is not surprising as the entire idea of nationhood is much more recent and Arab history transcends the idea of individual nations.

Palestinian Arabs in the Mandate period had only recently been introduced to the idea of nationalism, and the borders of "Palestine" were drawn by Europeans, not at all in consonance with what had been considered "Palestine" beforehand. There was no compelling reason for them to want to fight for their "nation" when their collective consciousness tilted more towards their clans and the Arab 'ummah.

In the previous centuries, Palestinian Arabs were much more clearly divided into clans. The Yaman and Qais tribes (both of whom migrated from Arabia) had battled each other in a deadly blood feud for hundreds of years. More well known was the antipathy between the Husseini and Nashashibi clans in the 1920s and subsequent decades. Beyond that, many villages were closely identified with individual families. This was where most Palestinian Arab loyalties were, and as a result entire villages and families negotiated their own peace treaties with the Zionists in 1948 based on their own self-interests and relationships.

The unity that nationalism demands - the obligation to die for your country - was close to non-existent in 1948 among Palestinian Arabs. Very few chose to fight for anything beyond their own villages. Certainly their leadership had been decimated during the 1936-9 uprising, but that doesn't explain their sheer apathy during the 1948 war. Most of the fighters were imported from other countries, or forced to fight by neighboring countries when they fled Palestine.

The Palestinian Arabs in 1948 who fled and lost their built-in village- and clan-based unity still assumed that Arab unity and pan-Arab nationalism would act as their security blanket, and that they would be able to integrate into the surrounding Arab states as Arabs had migrated freely for economic reasons between areas in the Middle East since antiquity. The hatred that they faced from their brethren as they sought shelter was such a shock that they had to sublimate their reaction into a new kind of nationalism that emerged a couple of decades later. This was all they had left, as their clan-based villages were gone. The religious component is an important one and Morris is right in pointing out that the supposedly secular nationalism represented by the PLO is a facade for Western consumption, and that Hamas-style nationalism (which is really pan-Islamism disguised as nationalism) is the mainstream and ascendant stream of nationalism that exists nowadays.

The West would be well advised to understand this history and mindset. The assumption that a Palestinian Arab state would be a democratic, secular nation willing to live in peace with Israel is horribly misguided; it would be an Islamist theocracy given the current Palestinian Arab leadership and history.

Egypt denies permission for any "Israel 60" celebrations

Palestine Press (Arabic) writes (autotranslated):
Newspaper "The Egyptians" said the Egyptian Interior Minister Major General Habib Adli issued strict instructions rejecting any request by the Israeli Embassy to obtain the approval of ceremonies to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of "Israel" on the land of Palestine, which occurs in mid-May.

Commenting on the news reported by "The Egyptians" yesterday about the desire of the Embassy of Israel hold a celebration on this occasion, Adli said "we are not in Europe or America, not the country we inadequate" and called on leaders of the ministry to attend a closed meeting to discuss making the necessary arrangements.

He asked the Director of the Giza security registration for names of any Egyptian political, diplomatic and media figures attending the ceremony at the invitation of the embassy, and noted that the Interior Ministry does not prevent any of its embassies in Egypt to establish a ceremony inside their buildings.

But the ministry has the right to object to any ceremony outside the embassy building, which made the Minister of the Interior give instructions to security leaders to refuse to approve any request from the embassy for a ceremony on this occasion at any Cairo hotel or boats on the Nile, or anywhere outside the embassy building.
The article doesn't say that the reason for denying any celebration is for security reasons; rather it is simply hostility towards Israel. Plus it obliquely threatens any Egyptian citizen who dares attend such a celebration.

Of course, the Israeli embassy had no intention of holding any large celebration outside its walls anyway. From April 26 Media Line:
“We have a problem in doing a big production like they do in the U.S. or in Europe,” says Shani Cooper, spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy in Cairo. “We have to stay limited within our boundaries, and to be honest, we don’t want to do something huge because it will touch a sore spot.”

The embassy is holding a reception for diplomatic staff and government officials, which some 400 guests are expected to attend. The backdrop of the reception will feature slides with Israeli landscapes, an Israeli singer will perform and, while Israeli wines will be served, non-alcoholic beverages will be provided for the observant Muslim guests.

“In an Arab country, with the current situation of the peace process and the media hostility in Egypt, it wouldn’t be right to do something ostentatious,” Cooper says.

Cooper is stationed in one of the toughest Israeli missions and faces many challenges as spokeswoman. Israel and Egypt signed a peace accord in 1979 and have full diplomatic relations. However, the views of Israel in the streets of Cairo, as reflected in the Egyptian media, remain very negative. The relationship is often described as a cold peace.

April 2008 Qassam Calendar

As usual, this is far from complete, and it is more to show how ignored the Qassam issue is rather than to show how many are being fired. Many Qassams never make it in the news, and the rare times that the IDF publishes statistics shows that I am usually undercounting . Also, these are Qassams that don't make it to Israel; many that are fired explode in Gaza itself, often causing damage or even deaths.

This list does not include mortars being shot from Gaza, which are usually much more numerous on any given day. It also does not count the occasional rocket from Lebanon. It does count Grad/Katyusha rockets from Gaza.

I might have missed some during Passover.

April 2008
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa


1
2
3
4
5






2
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
3 1 6
2


3
13
14
15
16
17
18
19

1
1
31
15
10
2
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
3
7
3


4

27
28
29
30
1
2
3
4
19
16
15
10
1

4
5
6
7
8
9
10
8
12
3 1
2 1

145 total

Previous calendars:

March 2008
February 2008
January
December 2007

November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saudi Vice, episode 15: The Evil Western Press


Our heroes at the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have been getting a lot of bad press recently, and it is time to put a stop to it:
Western media is deliberately trying to malign the commission for unknown reasons, said the national head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in a wide ranging interview with Arab News.

“Or else, why should a respectable institution be denigrated because a few of its officials committed some judgmental errors?” said Ibrahim Al-Ghaith, the commission president.
...
The commission chief also wondered why some sections of the media, particularly in the West, are hostile to the commission, which only aims to persuade people to adhere to their religion and prevent them from morally lapsing.

“Some people are quick to criticize the commission by betraying their ignorance about this noble institution. They are oblivious to the commission’s achievements. They purposefully highlight a few individual mistakes to portray the commission as an evil entity,” Al-Ghaith said.

He added that he disapproves of the term “religious police,” which is commonly used by the Western press to describe the commission. “The official name of the organization is the General Presidency of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” Al-Ghaith said.

“The commission is keen to see that its officials are pious, knowledgeable, wise, moderate and gentle in all situations and, above all, never rude or violent,” he said.

“The commission has been offering special training to its field workers at all of its branch offices,” he said, adding that workers are asked to be gentle and told to improve their communication skills.

He also said that psychologists, sociologists, religious scholars, legal experts, educationists, professors and high-ranking officials deliver the training. “More than 80 percent of the commission’s field workers have attended various training programs."
We mentioned these training sessions in Episode 10, The Sting.
“Only five percent of cases we’ve dealt with were passed on to the police or the courts. The commission members are fully aware that publicity would only worsen the situation and leave ineffaceable social or psychological injuries to the youths involved. The members pass the suspects to legal authorities if only they are repeating the violation or do not listen to advice,” he added.

There are situations, which we cannot condone, he added. For example, if a man and woman are caught in a situation that is clearly spelled out in the Holy Qur’an or Sunnah to be wrong, then the commission has no choice but to hand those involved to the police, he said.
Do you see what a raw deal the Commission gets in the media?

Looking back at previous episodes, one can see that every single one was just a simple misunderstanding.

The Arabs who didn't leave

As Nakba celebrations get underway, nobody is talking about the 160,000 Arabs who didn't flee Palestine in 1948.

This group of people put a lie to the "ethnic cleansing" calumny that will be tossed about like confetti over the next month. While it is undeniably true that they were not treated equally in the wake of a bruising war, they were hardly treated as subhuman. In fact, Arabs who left were jealous of their brethren who stayed to become citizens of Israel.

Contemporaneous accounts by Jews about those Arabs show that no one intended for them to move, either.

From the Palestine Post, August 5, 1948:




If Jews had wanted to get rid of all the Arabs of Palestine, some of that hate would filter through to articles like these. We see that the facts are quite the contrary - while Jews were not interested in the return of Arabs who fought to kill them all, they had no problem with those who only wanted to live in peace with them.

This is why UN Resolution 194, which the PalArabs even today erroneously claim gives them a "right to return," specifically states "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date." That clause is what Israeli Jews have wanted for sixty years, and the Arab side has been the one that has been full of hate and incitement for those same six decades.

The definition of "nakba" depends on the audience

Most Westerners would say that when Palestinian Arabs refer to the "nakba", or catastrophe, that they are referring to the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from their homes in 1948, and their defeat in the 1948 war. Certainly pro-Palestinian Arab Westerners use the term that way, and Palestinian Arabs speaking to Westerners seem to keep that definition as well.

Wikipedia:Nakba Day, meaning "Day of the catastrophe" is a annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of their displacement and dispossession as a result of their defeat in the 1948 Palestine war.

Electronic Intifada: Every year Palestinians commemorate the Nakba ("the catastrophe"): the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948.

Nakba Archive: During the 1948 war with the nascent state of Israel it is estimated that around half of the 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs were driven from their homes or fled, to neighboring Arab states. This period of Palestinian history has come to be known as al-Nakba, ‘the catastrophe’.

To the West, this makes sense - it can certainly be seen as catastrophic that a large group of people become homeless in the space of a year, no matter the circumstances.

There is another definition of Nakba, however, one that Westerners do not see nearly as much.

Palestine News Network: The Israelis are gearing up to celebrate 60 years since the inception of their state, what the Palestinians refer to as the Catastrophe, Al Nakba.

Gulf News:
Not quite two weeks from now, on May 8, Palestinians will commemorate the Nakba, when their homeland was dismembered exactly 60 years ago that day.

In other words, to Arabs, the Nakba is more associated with the establishment of Israel than with any negative events that occurred to Arabs in Palestine.

A little reflection shows that the idea that the Nakba is meant to show solidarity with Palestinian Arabs and not just antipathy to Zionist Jews is ludicrous. After all, the Palestinian Arabs have been kept in stateless limbo due to the direct actions of their Arab brethren and their own failed leaders, who cynically use them as pawns - to pressure Israel.

It is most instructive that "Nakba Day" is timed to coincide with the anniversary of Israel's independence, not with the anniversary of any notable acts of dispossession or massacres like Deir Yassin. The true catastrophe, in Arab thought, is the creation of a Jewish state and not the tragedies that happened to the Arab citizens who fled or died.

Palestinian Arabs cannot even conceive that there is a difference between the two concepts; that Israel's establishment was not meant to displace hundreds of thousands of people. They cannot imagine that the Jews at the time were far more interested in surviving and in building a viable state where they could live in peace than in hurting others - to Arabs of Palestinian descent, force-fed a steady diet of lies and propaganda, the Jews' entire purpose was destructive and not positive. (This is, of course, another aspect of their own projection of their desires vis a vis the Jews of Palestine in 1948.)

But even deeper is the idea that Jews establishing a tiny state on their historic homeland itself is what they consider their disaster - even if not one Arab had left their home they would still regard Israel's Independence Day to be their catastrophe.

And they still do.

"Davidka" shell found at Kotel archaeological dig

From YNet:
More than 60 years after it was buried, archeologists working an excavation in the Western Wall Plaza unearthed a completely intact 'Davidka' mortar shell on Tuesday afternoon.

Sappers who were alerted to the scene removed the shell from the site and documented the finding before transported it outside city limits to detonate the explosives in a controlled environment.

Largely ineffective, the locally manufactured three-inch Davidka developed by the Haganah prior to the country's inception is remembered more for the noise it made rather than the damage it inflicted.
Wikipedia adds:
The name Davidka means “Little David”, and was said to be a tribute to the tiny, fledgling state of Israel fighting against the giant Arab Legion, in reference to King David's battle against the giant Goliath. It is generally accepted, however, that the weapon was named after its designer, David Leibowitch. Leibowitch designed and developed the weapon at the Mikveh Israel agricultural school in Holon in the winter of 1947-48.

The first Davidka was fired in combat on 13 March 1948, in the attack on the Abu Kabir neighborhood of Yafo. Probably the greatest victory attributed to the Davidka was the liberation of the Citadel, a strongpoint in the center of Safed, on the night of May 9-10, 1948.[1]

Six Davidkas were manufactured in all, and two were given to each of the Palmach's three brigades (Harel, Yiftach, and HaNegev). The most famous of them were the one used by the Yiftach Brigade in the battle for Safed, which is now mounted in Davidka Square in that city, and the one mounted in Jerusalem's Davidka Square, which has a shell still attached, memorializing the Harel Brigade's participation in the battle for Jerusalem.

As with any mortar, the secret of the Davidka's operation was in its 40kg (roughly 90lb) shell. In this case, as seen in the image on the right, the gigantic shell was much larger than the mortar from which it was fired. Rather than with more conventional mortars, where the shell is inserted into the tube and the entire projectile travels through the tube to gain initial guidance at launch time, the Davidka's tail tube is the only part of the shell which fit inside the launch tube. This contributed to the weapon's notorious inaccuracy, as the shell lacked adequate guidance during the launch phase to acquire aerodynamic stability in the intended direction...

Small pieces of metal and tubes were welded onto the outside of casing, reducing the weapon's accuracy even further than its already non-aerodynamic design, but contributing greatly to the whistles and shrieks which it made when in flight. The noise was its most important effect, so that anyone near a Davidka mortar would hear the shell seeming to fall very near to them before bursting very loudly, increasing the fear factor. It is said that the Arabs against which the Davidka was deployed, having been told that many of the designers of America's atomic bomb were Jewish (e.g., Einstein and Oppenheimer,) thought that they were being attacked with atomic weapons.
The Palestine Post, in its May 23, 1949 issue, had this article about the Davidka:
A small party of former Haganah commanders met at a cafe in Tel Aviv to honour the inventor of the first heavy artillery of the Haganah. It was already a time for reminiscences and although the war was still on, and tanks and artillery rumbled through the land, the first home-made artillery was already a museum piece, like the long rifle of the American backswoodsmen in their Revolutionary War.

As the commanders raised their glasses in a toast to David Kablani, the inventor of the "Davidka," the thoughts of the inventor turned to a time so long. . . . a few months. . . . back when Tel Aviv was ringed with siege and the state of Israel was little more than a dream. Kablani, a member of Haganah for 22 years, had built a 3-inch mortar back in 1923 after a Polish model. At that time all of Haganah's heavy weapons were taken from Kablani's secret workshop, either on foot or hidden in trucks, to S'dom at the southern end of the Dead Sea, the only testing gtound they were safely out of sight of the British and the Arabs.

When the Arab attacks began, Kablani was appointed armourer for the southern area of Tel Aviv, including Manshieh, Salameh and Abu Kebir. For this entire sector of the front, he had only 200 weapons of all kinds, including 45 rifles, 150 Sten guns, and a number of automatic rifles and 2-inch mortars, and the commanders would battle for every Sten gun, which would pass from hand to hand for each engagement.

The idea for the "Davidka" was born out of the suffering and death of so many Haganah sappers who went into Arab posts under fire with loads of explosives night after night. If only a weapon could be invented which could hurl a charge of explosives into the Arab positions from a safe distance, Kablani thought. He calculated and planned , and finally presented his idea to his commanders.

The first test, with a sand-filled shell, proved a success. The night of March 13 was fixed for the first operation, against Abu Kebir. Two more models and nine live shells were prepared .

The residents of Tel Aviv were used to their nightly storm of gunfire, and went to sleep as usual in the rifle exchanges of that Saturday night. The three new mortars were taken by truck to the advanced positions, and a general attack on Abu Kebir was prepared.

At midnight a tremendous explosion woke up all Tel Aviv and Jaffa . A dead silence fell on the entire front, and the population g u e s s e d that the war had entered a new stage.

Two more booming explosions followed. When the Haganah men broke into Abu Kebir, they found the village completely deserted. The Arabs had fled the unknown weapon of the Jews, and shortly thereafter the desertion of Jaffa began.

Immediately after 12 more mortars were built and sent to Haifa, Jerusalem, and Sated. Soon the "Davidka" became as integral a part of Haganah as the slouch hat of the Australian army.

Palmach commanders, before an operation, would calculate the number of "Davidka" shells needed, figuring one shell for a small village, and as much as three for a large one. Rumours spread through the Arab population that "King David " had returned to fight with his people.

The climax in the career of the "Davidka" came in the battle for the liberation of Safed. Fighting asainst an enemy vastly superior in both numbers and arms, and one fortified in the highest point of the city, Safed had been one of the most difficult points in the country. A desperate effort was needed to liberate this strategic city before the expected Arab invasion after May 15.

The attack was begun with the firing of several "Davidka" shells, and the explosions reverberated deafeningly through the echoing hills. Immediately rumour spread among the Arabs, aided by a sudden, unseasonal rain that the Jews were using the Atom bomb. The attack found the enemy already demoralized and fleeing from the city by the thousands.

A Reuters report from Amman shortly thereafter said mysteriously, "the Jews are using a new secret weapon."

A few days later the State of Israel was proclaimed and expertly tooled weapons began to come in from abroad. The hand-made grenade and the home-made "Davidka" were quickly put aside, but the men who had used them had already turned the tide of the war.

The missing picture

I have spent a lot of time looking at the circumstances around yesterday's blast that killed much of the Me'tiq family and there is one thing missing from all of the press coverage:

Pictures of the damaged house.

Palestinian Arabs still claim that it was an Israeli tank shell that went through the roof of the house and exploded (presumably in the kitchen). Israel claims that the explosion occurred outside the house from a terrorist's munitions.

With Gaza crawling with Palestinian Arab stringers and photographers, who spare no time finding time to photograph funerals and bodies, why have we not seen any pictures of the house where a "massacre" supposedly took place? In other Israeli strikes there have been photos shown of the damage.

It would be trivial for AP or Reuters or AFP to send a photographer to Beit Hanoun to take such a picture. So why hasn't it happened?

The reason is almost certainly because the pictures would show a giant crater outside the house, and the damage radiating from that crater. The pictures would vindicate the IDF's version of events. The Palestinian Arab victimhood narrative would be once again destroyed, and the manipulated righteous indignation of the Arab world would evaporate.

Since the Gaza wire service photographers are only interested in furthering the Palestinian Arab cause, they have no incentive to document anything that makes Israel look less evil. (They also live in fear of what Hamas would do to them should they publish things not to their liking.) So they simply refuse to take pictures that does not follow the Hamas line.

Interestingly, while I have great doubts that this is legitimate, a person claiming to be an AP reporter wrote a comment to Ha'aretz:
Title:I reported all this to all news agencies, saw it with my own eyes
Name:Ali-AP Reporter
City: El-AreshState: Egypt
Good Morning to everybody,

Several of us were called by Hamas to witness an attack on the Zionist forces by men carrying a large load of explosives. However when we got close to the Abu Meatik family home the Zionist birds came from the skies and tore to pieces the Martyrs who were charged with this task. In the ensuing explosions of their loads the Abu Meatik children playing in the street in front of them died as well.

Our Jeep full of reporters like me was lucky to be 50 meters behind so it escaped the blast.

The other reporters were afraid to contact their news agencies for fear of retaliation after reporting such unpleasant truths but I was going to be back in Cairo today anyway so I reported everything.

As a matter of fact yesterday I packed my bags as soon as possible to go to Rafah to cross the border last night, just to be safe and I slept in a hotel in El-Aresh.
Probably bogus, but no less bogus than much of the reporting coming out of Gaza nowadays.

Journalism hall of shame

Here is a list of selected news articles, published well after Israel denied that its fire directly killed the Gaza family, that take the Palestinian Arab lying version to be the truth or severely downplay Israel's version:

Mirror (UK):
A mum and four children died at the breakfast table as a shell flattened their tiny home in the Gaza Strip.

It was fired from an Israeli tank in a raid aimed at militants after gun battles nearby.

Glasgow DailyRecord headline: Tank Kills Gaza Kids

Los Angeles Times - doesn't mention Israeli version until paragraph 8.

Independent(UK) headline: Israeli attack kills Palestinian mother and four children (but the second paragraph mentions Israeli denials)

I'm not even bothering to mention Arab and Iranian "news" sources which almost universally don't publish Israel's version of events at all.

Hamas stole 45,000 liters of fuel at gunpoint today

Palestine Press reports:
head of the Palestinian Petrol Agency in Gaza Mujahid Salama said that elements of the Hamas movement looted today forty five thousand litres of fuel that were in the oil depots in the Nahal Oz crossing east of Gaza City.

He added in an interview with the Voice of Palestine radio this morning that "these elements forced the officials of the Petroleum Authority to provide this amount of fuel at gunpoint."

Salama added that this fuel was allocated to fuel stations in the Gaza.

He noted that fuel prices hit record numbers in the sector, which stopped most of the means of transportation except when cars and vans of the ministers and leaders of Hamas and the militias.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Five more tunnels discovered by Egypt

Fox News reports:
An Egyptian security official says border guards have discovered five new underground smuggling tunnels north of the Rafah crossing point.

The official says two tunnels were used to pump fuel to the Gaza Strip which is facing severe energy shortages. One of the tunnels was found in a kitchen with a pump connected to hose running through it.

The tunnels were found early on Monday, added the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
And the other three tunnels? Take one guess. From Palestine Press (autotranslated:)
The Egyptian security sources said on Monday in press statements "that they found weapons and explosives in three of the tunnels detected on the Gaza border."
Weapons and explosives? Nah, not in Gaza!

AP still wrong on Beit Hanoun blast

It has been a few hours since Israel determined that the Gaza blast that killed most of a family was the result of a secondary explosion from targeted terrorists outside the house carrying munitions.

AP's Ibrahim Barzak is now reporting Israel's side of the story, but very skeptically:
In a statement, the military said explosives carried by the militants were detonated by an Israeli airstrike, and the blast from the explosives hit the house, not a tank shell, "and uninvolved civilians were hit." Palestinians said the militants were at least 400 yards from the house and none of the fighters were killed near the structure.
But the most detailed Gaza based account of the events, from PCHR which blames Israel for the explosion, show that this last sentence is a lie:
At approximately 8:15, an IOF plane fired a rocket at a group of resistance members near Abdallah Azzam Mosque, southwest of Izbit Abd Rabbou, approximately 1000 meters away from the main area of the incursion. The rocket fell 10 meters away from the house of Ahmad Eid Hassan Abu Me’tiq, seriously injuring a resistance member. Less than a minute later two rockets were fired at the same area and landed at the door of the same house, killing another resistance member: Ibrahim Salem Suliman Hajouj (20). Shrapnel from the rockets destroyed the house door and spread inside the house. Meyasar Metliq Abu Me’tiq (40) and her 6 children were eating breakfast only 2 meters away from the door. The shrapnel killed four of the children immediately. The mother was seriously injured; and the other two children were moderately injured. The mother later died of her wounds. In addition, 10 bystanders were injured, some of them sustaining moderate to serious injuries.
The AP cannot do basic fact-checks to show that their Palestinian Arab sources are, simply, liars, and by quoting them credulously they make it appear that the evidence supports the Palestinian Arab story and not the Israeli version. They are doing a better job than the thousand-odd "news" stories that don't even acknowledge Israel's claims, but they still fail basic journalism principles.

"World's Smallest Koran" not very impressive

From India's Economic Times:
DUBAI: The smallest copy of the Koran, the Islamic holy book, on display at The Bride Show here drew huge crowds at the recently concluded exhibition.

Almost one-third the size of its closest competitor, the 'miniature' Koran contains 10,000 lines engraved on sapphire measuring 58mm by 98mm which can be worn as pendant or a ring by brides and grooms on the wedding day, WAM news agency reported Monday.

The Koran has been engraved by Mir Emad Mokhtari with help of the latest advances in nanotechnology and has been officially registered as the smallest copy of the Holy Book at Astan-e Qods Razavi's Quran museum in Iran.
Is this an impressive display of Islamic nanotechnology?

This Koran fits in a space of roughly 2" x 4". This sounds more like microfiche than nanotechnology.

But last year, at Israel's Technion, they fit the entire Hebrew Bible - with diacritical marks! - in a space smaller than a pinhead:
The entire vowelled-Hebrew text of the Bible has been inscribed by Technion scientists on a gold-coated silicon surface smaller than the head of a pin.

The idea to inscribe the whole biblical text using a focussed-ion device was that of Prof. Uri Sivan, director of the Berrie Institute, and the project was carried out by Ohad Zohar, the center's physics education adviser, along with Dr. Alex Lahav, formerly lab director of the Wolfson Center for Microelectronics.

When the ions are shot at the surface, gold ions are removed from a 20-nanometer-wide spot to expose the darker silicon substrate underneath. A nanometer is equal to one billionth of meter or one millionth of a millimeter. The resulting letters can be observed only with a scanning electron microscope.

The nano-Bible will be photographed and expanded 10,000 times, and still be able to fit into a seven-by-seven-meter frame, to be hung in the Technion's physics faculty. The photograph will make it possible to read the entire Bible with the naked eye, and the height of each letter will be three millimeters.

Zohar said the original nano-Bible, the size of a crystal of sugar, would be displayed next to the photograph.
A sugar crystal (granulated, regular)is about 0.5 mm long. Which means that Technion managed to make their Hebrew Bible some 1/10000 the size of the Koran being touted here.

UPDATE: Mir Mokhtari, the inventor, clarifies things in my comments:
Hi, putting political disputes aside and sticking to the science and maths... the size is actually miss printed. It should read ten times smaller in both dimensions. The technology uses a 5nm spot size and has resolution better than 9nm around the edge of the words. We too could have made one much smaller, but you have to understand marketing and practicality. No point exhibiting something that requires a $1million SEM tool to be dragged around with. Also the value added to this art piece is the fact that it stands 1400degress heat during commissioning in jewellery and is scratch proof to extremely high impacts and can be worn on day to day basis. We managed to convince people all the words are there with a $5 handheld magnifier. Sometimes understanding people goes a longer way than understanding the technology....
Fair enough, the intent wasn't to set a technological record but to create a piece of jewelry.

Kids were killed by PalArab bomb

After reading the IDF explanation as well as the PCHR preliminary investigation into the deaths of the mother and four daughters this morning, I am convinced that the IDF version is correct - the IDF shot a missile at two terrorists who were outside the Abu Meatak home, and the explosives that at least one was carrying exploded, killing most of the family.

I would not count these as self-deaths, though, because it was a secondary explosion; it is not a "work accident" although their carrying explosives through a neighborhood and putting families at risk is clearly a war crime. (It's a judgment call but I need to be consistent in the count.)

Recent honor killing roundup

A survey of recent articles that talk about "honor killings:"

Pakistan:
Three weeks since Jagdeesh Kumar, a 22-year-old Hindu worker in a garment factory in Pakistan's largest city, was beaten to death by a mob for allegedly making blasphemous remarks about Prophet Mohammad, his murderers remain unpunished.
..."His murder may have nothing to do with blasphemy. What we saw was an honour killing, coloured as a killing for blasphemy. Most, if not all, of the cases of killing for blasphemy have a different, more mundane and criminal reason. Blasphemy provides a cover," says Nayyar. He has reason to believe that the Hindu boy was in love with a Muslim girl.

Kurdistan:
MORTALLY wounded and bleeding profusely, Pela Atroshi covered her head with her hands, pleading "please don't shoot me, please don't shoot me".

As her sister and her mother screamed, her uncle Rezkar Atroshi raised his gun and killed her. The family's honour had been cleansed.

Rezkar had already shot Pela twice in the back in the upstairs room.

Helped downstairs by her mother and her younger sister, the 19-year-old Kurdish Swede was confronted by four resolute men - her father and his three brothers. The men pulled the women apart. Her youngest uncle then finished the job, shooting Pela in the head.

The bullet went through one of her fingers and into her brain.

The decision to kill her was made by a council of male relatives, led by Pela's grandfather, Abdulmajid Atroshi - a Kurd who lived in Australia.

One of his sons, Shivan Atroshi, helped pull the women away from Pela so his younger brother could get a clean shot. Shivan, too, lived in Australia.

Pela Atroshi's murder in Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, was officially deemed an honour killing by both Iraqi and Swedish authorities.
Iraq:
A 17-year-old Iraqi girl was murdered by her father in an honour killing after falling in love with a British soldier she met while working on an aid programme in Basra, it has been claimed.

A total of 47 young women died in honour killings in the city last year, Basra Security Committee told an investigation into Ms Abdel-Qader's case by The Observer. This is believed to be the only case of an honour killing involving a British soldier.

More from Iraq:
At first glance Shawbo Ali Rauf appears to be slumbering on the grass, her pale brown curls framing her face, her summer skirt spread about her. But the awkward position of her limbs and the splattered blood reveal the true horror of the scene.

The 19-year-old Iraqi was, according to her father, murdered by her own in-laws, who took her to a picnic area in Dokan and shot her seven times. Her crime was to have an unknown number on her mobile phone. Her "honour killing" is just one in a grotesque series emerging from Iraq, where activists speak of a "genocide" against women in the name of religion.

In Basra alone, police acknowledge that 15 women a month are murdered for breaching Islamic dress codes. Campaigners insist it is a conservative figure.

Du'a Khalil Aswad, 17, from Nineveh, was executed by stoning in front of mob of 2,000 men for falling in love with a boy outside her Yazidi tribe. Mobile phone images of her broken body transmitted on the internet led to sectarian violence, international outrage and calls for reform. Her father, Khalil Aswad, speaking one year after her death in April last year, has revealed that none of those responsible had been prosecuted and his family remained "outcasts" in their own tribe.

"My daughter did nothing wrong," he said. "She fell in love with a Muslim and there is nothing wrong with that. I couldn't protect her because I got threats from my brother, the whole tribe. They insisted they were gong to kill us all, not only Du'a, if she was not killed. She was mutilated, her body dumped like rubbish."
Birmingham, UK:
Two police forces were accused today of "letting down" an honour killing victim when she told officers she feared for her life in the months before her murder.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) criticised failings in the handling of Banaz Mahmod's complaints against her family.

She asked police for help four times, even giving officers a list of men she thought would harm her, but was not taken seriously.

Miss Mahmod, 20, disappeared from her home in Mitcham, south London, in January 2006, and her body was found buried in a suitcase in a garden in Birmingham three months later.

Following an Old Bailey trial her father and uncle were jailed last July for her "barbaric" murder.
Pakistan:
A man shot dead his daughter on suspension of having illicit relations in Nishatabad Police Station precinct here Wednesday.
Sheffield, UK:
THREE Asian men were locked up this week for their part in the "mob violence" that led to the death of an Iraqi Kurd on the streets of Sheffield.
Ismail Rashid, aged 42, was the victim of an 'honour killing', beaten to death because he had been sleeping with a married Pakistani woman. A gang of up to 20 attacked him at the corner of Lifford Street and Norborough Road in Tinsley in June last year and he died in the Northern General Hospital eight days later, despite brain surgery.
Israel:
Police suspect a 19-year-old male from the village of Rama was involved in the killing of his cousin in her Haifa apartment a year and a half ago. Anan Hessin is suspected to have murdered his cousin Rim Kassem in an honor killing on January 10, 2007.
Jordan:
A Jordanian man has been charged with premeditated murder after his 35-year-old daughter was shot dead in an apparent honor killing, a judicial source said on Thursday.

"The suspect was arrested on Wednesday following a complaint by his other daughter that he killed and buried her sister several months ago in the (northern) city of Rasta," the source told AFP.

"The man was charged after he confessed to murdering his daughter to cleanse the family's honor because she frequently disappeared from home."

Jordanian authorities recorded a total of 17 so-called honor killings in 2007, slightly up on previous years.

Could these four kids have been killed by PalArab fire?

This morning a mother and four children were killed in Beit Hanoun. According to Palestinian Arab sources, they were killed by either an Israeli airstrike or tank shell, depending on who is being quoted.

While the IDF blames all civilian deaths in Gaza on terrorists operating out of crowded civilian centers, Ehud Barak's statement implies that Israel admits that it was probably its own fire that killed the family. And even Israeli newspapers are assuming that it was the IDF. Of course, wire services are also reporting that as fact.

But buried in the stories come paragraphs like these:
The IDF is looking into the incident, but has yet to obtain a full picture of what happened. Military sources noted that a group of gunmen was spotted shortly after 8 am near Givati forces operating in the area. An aircraft fired at them and hit them, while tanks fired shells towards the area.

"The area where the fighting is taking place is very crowded," a source said. "The terror organizations are knowingly operating near civilians and putting them in danger. We are thoroughly looking into the circumstances of the incident."

It is most difficult for a blogger like me to do a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the family's deaths from thousands of miles away, but it seems to me that the media needs to be cautious before making the assumption that this was Israeli fire.

First of all, Beit Hanoun has been the site of numerous Qassam rockets falling short of their targets, and they have damaged many houses and killed people as well.

Secondly, Israel did target and kill two terrorists 400 meters from the family home. While sometimes Israel makes mistakes and misses its targets (as apparently happened with the Reuters photographer) this is a pretty wide miss, especially in a populated area where Israel is much more careful.

More interesting is the fact that there were many mortars and rockets shot today from Gaza towards Israel.

Most intriguing is this paragraph from a Ma'an dispatch (that is missing some words in the beginning):

Palestinian fighters unleash barrage of projectiles and mortars at Israeli targets

responsibility on Monday afternoon for launching five homemade projectiles and three mortar shells at the Israeli towns of Sderot and Netiv Ha'asara and at Israeli forces invading Beit Hanoun.

Separately, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's (PFLP) military wing, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, said their fighters fired four homemade projectiles at Sderot. They also said they shot and injured an Israeli soldier.

Moreover, the PFLP's and Fatah's military wings said their fighters fired mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles in the northern Gaza Strip.

For their part, Islamic Jihad's military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, claimed responsibility for firing five mortar shells at Israeli military vehicles in the northern Gaza Strip.
At least four terror groups are claiming responsibility for shooting rockets and mortars in the northern Gaza Strip- which is exactly where Beit Hanoun is.

Right now, the only people claiming that this was an Israeli strike are Palestinian Arabs who are known to automatically blame Israel even when they are being killed by their own fire.

At the very least, it would seem premature to assume that this was Israel's fault at all.

UPDATE: From JPost:
The Palestinian mother and her four children who were killed Monday during IDF ops in Beit Hanun were not hit by a tank shell but rather were killed when ammunition carried by gunmen exploded, Army Radio quoted an IDF source as saying.

According to the unofficial source, the forces operating in the Gaza Strip town identified two gunmen who were carrying large bags. When the soldiers opened fire on them the bags exploded, causing the deaths of the family members.

I will wait a little for confirmation before adding this family to the self-death count, though.

UPDATE 2
:
The media made no visible effort to verify the claim, and nearly all English-language press ignored an Israeli army statement carried by Israel Radio and Army Radio explaining that there had been no artillery fire in the immediate area.

Army officials said that according to reports from the field, the civilian deaths occurred when terrorists wearing backpacks filled when ammunition used the house as cover during a firefight with Israeli troops. The ammunition exploded after being hit by Israeli fire, killing seven people and wounding six others.

10 North Koreans killed in Israeli raid on Syrian reactor

Bloomberg reports:
Ten North Koreans may have been killed in an Israeli air strike on Syria in September, NHK reported on its Web site, citing unidentified South Korean intelligence officials.

The 10 people, whose remains were cremated and returned to North Korea in October, had been helping with the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, Japan's public broadcaster said. Some North Koreans probably survived the air attack, NHK said.

The U.S. government last week accused North Korea of helping Syria build a secret nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.
Firas Press' version of the story adds a detail that some of the dead North Koreans were members of its military, which would effectively mean that there was no way the facility was meant for peaceful nuclear energy.

Hamas effectively bans any protests

From PCHR:
PCHR is extremely concerned by the decision of the Police Force of the dismissed government in Gaza stipulating the acquisition of a permit prior to holding public assemblies or celebrations. The Centre views this decision as a violation of the right to peaceful assembly that is protected by the Basic Law and the Public Assemblies Law for the Year 1998, which calls for notifying the police rather than obtain a permit.

The official web site of the Palestinian Police Force of the dismissed government in Gaza published an announcement on Saturday, 26 April 2008, titled “the Palestinian Police Call for Obtaining Permits to Hold Public Assemblies and Celebrations.” The news item stated, “Stemming from public interest, in order to maintain public order, to establish the rule of law, and based on the Law of Assemblies No. 12 for the Year 1998 and the Law’s Executive Bill issued by the Ministry of Interior in 2000, the Palestinian Police call upon any party wishing to organize a public assembly or celebration to obtain prior permission from the relevant authority in the Police Force. This is necessary in order to uphold law and order. In addition, the party will sign a commitment to respect the law and to ban the perpetration of any illegal actions, to infringe on public morals, fire in the air, or incite.”

In a related development, the Director of the Police in Beach Camp issued an order on 13 April 2008 to all owners of halls asking them to direct any person wanting to organize a celebration to go to the Police Compound to receive a permit and fill the relevant form.
What this doublespeak means is that Hamas has given itself the right to ban any public assembly that it chooses to.

Wonder what Jimmy Carter thinks about this latest assault on freedom from his peace-loving friends in Hamas?

Yet again, Gazans refuse to accept fuel

Something the UN can't quite seem to notice...From the increasingly pro-terror Ma'an:
Fuel distributors in the Gaza Strip have refused once again to accept a severely inadequate fuel shipment from Israel, despite warnings of an imminent humanitarian crisis.

The Deputy chair of the Gaza gas stations federation, Mahmoud Al-Khizindar, affirmed on Monday morning that the federation refused to receive the reduced fuel transfer from Nahal Oz terminal. "There are three benzene tankers and 14 diesel tankers at Nahal Oz terminal, and the federation refused to take that quantity because the Israelis did not fulfill their pledges to ship the needed fuel," Al-Khizindar explained.

Al-Khizindar added that no cooking gas has been allowed through the crossing since 9 April. He said that Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants use 350 tons of cooking gas every day.
That last paragraph is curious, in light of the fact that Al-Khizindar stated otherwise ten days ago:
Mahmoud Al-Khizindar, the deputy director of the Gaza federation of gas stations told journalists in Gaza on Wednesday afternoon, after a day of near-despair, that 180,000 liters of industrial fuel and 88 tons of cooking gas were being shipped to the Gaza Strip.
So if no cooking gas has been allowed through, it is because Al-Khizindar himself blocked it!

UN again shows its anti-Israel bias in Gaza

It appears that the Jerusalem Post report I quoted yesterday about the UN blaming Hamas for preventing fuel trucks from entering Gaza is not quote accurate. Here is the UN press release, not quoting any UNRWA official but someone from UNSCO:
The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) said today that he remains extremely concerned about the severe humanitarian impact that the continuing fuel shortages in the Gaza Strip are having on the civilian population and on basic public services.

“The United Nations is heavily engaged with all parties to try to bring about a resolution of this crisis and see adequate supplies of fuel restored and distributed throughout Gaza,” Robert H. Serry said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

Israel stopped all fuel supplies to Gaza after Palestinian militants attacked the Nahal Oz terminal, located close to the border with Gaza, on 9 April. On Wednesday, it told the UN it was ready to deliver 100,000 litres of diesel, but fuel was not delivered yesterday, with Nahal Oz closed and the storage facilities on the Palestinian side of the border crossing full, according to the Israeli authorities.

The implication here is that Israel has not allowed any fuel deliveries to Gaza between April 9 and April 24, and that Israel is fully at fault for breaking a promise to do so on the 24th. But Israel did deliver fuel on the 16th, the same day that three IDF soldiers were killed by Hamas. And the UN doesn't seem to believe Israeli claims that Nahal Oz' storage facilities are full.

The Gaza Petrol and Gas Station Owners Association informed the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) yesterday that it would distribute 50,000 litres of diesel to sustain the agency’s humanitarian operations, but this effort was thwarted by protests on the Palestinian side of the crossing.
Notice that the UN doesn't mention who is behind these protests, and how violent they were, giving Hamas a free pass.
UNRWA was able to make its food deliveries yesterday, but it will not be able to do so from tomorrow – the next scheduled delivery day – unless it receives fresh supplies of diesel.

“At this crucial juncture, all parties must act to avert further suffering of the civilian population,” Mr. Serry said in the statement. He called on Hamas, which controls Gaza, to ensure conditions to enable the distribution of supplies at Nahal Oz so that more supplies can enter Gaza.

“Hamas must immediately bring an end to attacks by itself or any other group against crossings in Gaza.”

The Special Coordinator also called on Israel to “restore adequate supplies of diesel and benzene for the civilian population of Gaza in accordance with international law.”

Last month, about 3.8 million litres of diesel fuel and 340,000 litres of benzene were transferred from Israel into Gaza, which Mr. Serry said was not enough to meet the requirements of Gaza, which is home to an estimated 1.4 million inhabitants. In March last year, more than 8.8 million litres of diesel fuel and 1.7 million litres of benzene were supplied.

So while the UNSCO grudgingly admits that Hamas attacks crossings, it refuses to admit Hamas hoarding fuel and stealing fuel meant for humanitarian aid.

The UNRWA is worse, as it bends over backwards to excuse any Palestinian Arabs who thwart fuel deliveries:

UNRWA's Director of Operations in Gaza, John Ging, told UN Radio today that yesterday's [Thursday's] delivery was thwarted by protests on the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz crossing.

"Desperate people protesting at the fuel terminal prevented the importation of fuel for our operations. They were farmers and fishermen, who themselves, are in desperate need for fuel and they felt that they should get it as a first priority, not the UN, but this is perfectly understandable."

No mention of Hamas at all, no mention that these protests are violent, and certainly no mention of the likely link between Hamas and the "protesters."

We see again that Palestinian Arabs are simply not responsible for any of their own suffering, according to the UN, and anything they do to increase it is simply Israel's fault somehow.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hamas attacked fuel trucks meant for UNRWA, hospitals

From JPost:
Hamas militiamen in the Gaza Strip on Sunday attacked fuel trucks headed toward the Nahal Oz border crossing, forcing them to turn back, sources in the Palestinian Petroleum Authority said.

The fuel was supposed to go to the UN Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] and hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the sources said.

"Dozens of Hamas militiamen hurled stones and opened fire at the trucks," the sources added. "The trucks were on their way to receive fuel supplied by Israel. The drivers were forced to turn back. Some of them had their windshields smashed."

The Palestinian Petroleum Authority reached an agreement with Israel over the weekend to receive 250,000 liters of fuel after UNRWA complained that it did not have enough fuel to distribute food aid to more than 500,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry also accused Hamas of blocking fuel supplies to hospitals and clinics in the Gaza Strip. The ministry said Hamas gunmen opened fire at a number of trucks that were trying to transfer fuel to the hospitals and clinics.

Eyewitnesses in Gaza City said that at least on four occasions over the past few weeks, Hamas militiamen confiscated trucks loaded with fuel shortly as they were on their way from Nahal Oz to the city.

They added that the fuel supplies were taken to Hamas-controlled security installations throughout the city.

"Hamas is taking the fuel for it the vehicles of is leaders and security forces," the eyewitnesses said. "Because of Hamas's actions, some hospitals have been forced to stop the work of ambulances and generators."

PA officials in Ramallah said Hamas's measures were aimed at creating a crisis in the Gaza Strip with the hope that the international community would intervene and force Israel to reopen the border crossings.

"As far as we know, there is enough fuel reaching the Gaza Strip," the officials said. "But Hamas's measures are aimed at creating a crisis. Hamas is either stealing or blocking most of the fuel supplies."

They pointed out that last week Hamas dispatched hundreds of its supporters to Nahal Oz to block the fuel supplies from Israel. Hamas claimed that the protest was organized by farmers and fishermen demanding an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The officials also noted that the shortage in fuel supplies has created a high-priced black market for individuals and institutions.

UNRWA workers admitted over the weekend that Hamas had prevented some fuel trucks from entering the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has also been exerting pressure on the Gaza Petrol Station Owners Association to close down their businesses so as to aggravate the crisis. Some of the station owners and workers said they were afraid to return to work after receiving death threats from Hamas militiamen and ordinary residents desperate to purchase gas and diesel for their vehicles.
The UNRWA news-page has nothing on this, so I don't know where UNRWA admitted publicly that Hamaas was stealing UNRWA supplies.

Earlier in the day, the EU blamed Hamas partially for the Gaza fuel shortage.