‘The Scheme is to Give WBank to Jordan, Gaza to Egypt’

‘The Scheme is to Give WBank to Jordan, Gaza to Egypt’

Mohamad Shmaysani

07/01/2009 After taking part in the Ashura procession in Beirut’s southern suburb to mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussein peace be upon him, hundreds of thousands of participants gathered to listen to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s speech through a large screen.

Sayyed Nasrallah reminded at the beginning of his speech of the main phases of the Karabala battle and the position of Imam Hussein and his household, companions and his sister Sayyida Zeinab who preferred to die than to give legitimacy to Yazid, a “criminal who distanced himself from the teachings of Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him.”

Sayyed Nasrallah lashed out at some Arab leaders who are still having normal ties with Israel at a time more than 680 people killed in Gaza and advised them to follow the path of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who expelled the Israeli Ambassador in protest at the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

“In front of the Zionist entity that is based on spilling the blood of the innocent and committing massacres, the least thing to do is not to give legitimacy to this entity regardless of the sacrifices. The guardians of the Zionist entity want us to give Israel legitimacy, but the vast majority rejects this. What is taking place today in Gaza, should be a strong motive to reject giving legitimacy to this entity. Not acknowledging Israel, rejecting normalization with it is the least than can be done. Yesterday Chavez expelled the Israeli Ambassador and he set an example for all those who are still receiving Israeli Ambassadors. Some Arab leaders are requested to learn how to reject normalization with this entity. I assure you that the peoples of our nation will punish those leaders for their crimes. They ought to help the resistance instead of pressuring it.”

His eminence criticized the Egyptian regime for keeping the Rafah crossing closed in the face of the dying people of Gaza. “Yesterday, an Egyptian official asked: does the UN need 600 martyrs and 1500 injured people to take action? Today I ask him, do you need that much victims to open the Rafah crossing?”

Sayyed Nasrallah also commented on the action taken by some Egyptian lawyers against him personally. “A group of Egyptian lawyers close to the governing regime filed a suit against me personally at the International Criminal Court because of my speech nine days ago, when I called for the opening of the Rafah crossing. They considered my call as a call for a coup d’état. I consider this suit, especially in front of those whose consciousness have not yet awaken to the gravity of the massacres, a medal of honor that I will be proud with even after I die. I openly say that we have never antagonized anyone and we will not antagonize those who colluded on us. However we will antagonize those who collude on Gaza.”

The Hezbollah chief addressed the “real US scheme” that was reflected by former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. “What we heard yesterday from Bolton clearly indicates the real aim of the US and Israel is to end the Palestinian issue by concretizing the state of Israel, giving Gaza to Egypt and giving the rest to Jordan.”
His eminence added that “this necessitates a renewal to our call for all Palestinian factions to unite because the aim is to liquidate their cause, all of their cause, not just Hamas or Fatah.”

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 and what is currently happening in Gaza and the steadfastness there, “should put an end to any dispute on the question of a defensive strategy. This mighty army stands helpless and incapable of fulfilling its goals in front of a resistance with modest capabilities yet with a great will and this confirms that the choice of armed resistance based on faith and determination is the best and most effective way to confront the most tyrannical armies in this world. This makes thing crystal clear for us and further illustrates our viewpoint. Even the international community is incapable of condemning a massacre in a UN institution in Gaza just like it failed to condemn the Israeli massacre in a UN base in Qana in 1996. If this is the case, how will this international community be fair to any cause?”

His eminence told the angry participants that “the world is looking at you in Lebanon. We do not know how big is the scheme neither do we know the magnitude of collusion, therefore we have take all probabilities into consideration.”

The leader of the resistance warned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he will not succeed in crushing the resistance in Lebanon or in Palestine. “Olmert told Sarkozy: today Hamas and tomorrow Hezbollah. I tell the defeated and failing Olmert that you will not succeed in crushing Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon.

One says they’ll destroy us within days, others say that within hours… and I say: We are not afraid of your planes or your threats we and are ready for any aggression. If they came to our towns and homes, the Zionist will discover that their war in July 2006 was a picnic compared to we have prepared for them.”

Sayyed Nasrallah vowed the resistance will not abandon its arms and will not leave the battlefield. “Our resistance will remain a title for our history and our sacrifices. I was hoping that the voices that emerged recently in Lebanon to reassure Israel about the border with Lebanon would have responded to Israel’s threats to the resistance and Hezbollah. What drives to rush and give free assurances to Israel at a time this entity is killing-massacre our people in Gaza?”

His eminence concluded his speech saying: “On the tenth day of Muharram, and looking at all these sacrifices, we are in dire need for the spirit, wisdom, love of martyrdom and patience of Imam Hussein peace be upon him. Throughout the past decades, we have been with Imam Hussein at every stage and ready to sacrifice ourselves for what we believe in. After all these years and experiences that proved that our sincerity, path and convictions are right, our people, generation after generation, will not be overcome and will not fear any threat as long as their slogan remains: At your service Imam Hussein. Israel is our enemy and the enemy of our nation. It will remain as such even if some make peace with it. The US administration fosters Israel and protects it, so this administration will remain our enemy and the enemy of our nation if some make peace with it.”

I Thank you for your sincere and kind participation. Let our enemy hear our voice to know that our nation will not change its position:
‘Disgrace…How Remote.”

“This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population”

Uncensored Video Report From Dr. In Gaza Hospital

“This is an all-out war against the civilian

Palestinian population”

Video and Text

January 06, 2009 “Information Clearinghouse

Dr. Mads Gilbert, Gaza,

Dr . Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor in Gaza, tells Sky News that the number of civilians injured and killed in Gaza proves that Israel is deliberately attacking the population.

“Just a little bit more than an hour ago the Israelis bombed the central fruit market in Gaza city and we had a mass influx of about 50 injured and between 10 and 15 killed. At the same time they bombed an apartment house with children playing on the roof and we had a lot of children also. So this is really like speaking from the dumps of Inferno, it’s like hell here now, and it’s been bombing all night. Until now close to 500 people have been killed and the number of casualties is getting to 2,500 of which 50% are children and women.

Are your hospitals reaching capacity? Can you deal with these people?

We have been doing surgery around the clock. I have just talked with one of my colleagues in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), he’s not been sleeping for three days and the hospital is completely overcrowded, we are running 6 – 7 Ors (Operating Rooms) and there are injuries you just don’t want to see in this world… children coming in with open abdomens and legs cut off. We just had a child that we had to amputate both legs and an arm. And their only crime is being civilians and Palestinians living in Gaza. The relief now is not more doctors and more drugs; the relief now is to stop the bombing immediately, this cannot go on, it’s a disaster.

You’ve talked about the civilians, the women, the children, the men who aren’t involved in this, but are you also getting casualties that are Hamas fighters?

To be honest, we came on New Year’s Eve in the morning. I’ve seen one military person among the tenths… I mean hundreds that we’ve seen and treated, so anybody who tries to portrait this as a totally clean war against another army are lying. This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza, and we can prove that with numbers. And you have to remember that the average age of the Gaza inhabitants is 17 years, it’s a very young population, and 80% are living below the poverty limit of the UN. So this is a poor and very young people, and they are able to escape absolutely nowhere, because they cannot flee like other populations can in war time, because they are fenced in and they are in a cage, so they’re bombing 1.5 million people in a cage… young people, poor people and, you know, you cannot separate between the civilians and the fighters in such a situation.”

Transcribed by Atenea Acevedo (Tlaxcala) and Hana Al Bayaty (IAON)

Israel’s New War Ethic

Israel’s New War Ethic


Not unlike raising animals for slaughter on a farm, the Israeli government maintains that it is providing Palestinians with assistance so that it can have a free hand in attacking them, notes Neve Gordon.
Watching Israeli public television (Channel 1) these days can be an unsettling experience, and lately I’ve abstained from the practice. But after being stuck for seventy-two hours with our two young children inside a Beer-Sheva apartment, the spouse and I decided to visit my mother, who lives up north, so that our children could play outside far away from the rockets. My mother, like most Israelis, is a devout news consumer, and last night I decided to keep her company in front of the TV.

For the most part, the broadcast was more of the same. There were the usual images and voices of suffering Israeli Jews along with the promulgation of a hyper-nationalist ethos. One story, for example, followed a Jewish mother who had lost her son in Gaza about two years ago. The audience was told that the son has been a soldier in the Golani infantry brigade and together with his company had penetrated the Gaza Strip in an attempt to save the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

“Because members of his company did not want to hurt civilians, they refrained from opening fire in every direction, which allowed Palestinian militiamen to shoot my boy,” the mother stated. When the interviewer asked her about the current assault on Gaza, she answered that, “We should pound and cut them from the air and from the sea,” but added that, “We should not kill civilians, only Hamas.” The report ended with the interviewer asking the mother what she does when she misses her son, and, as the camera zoomed in on her face, she answered: “I go into his room and hug his bed, because I can no longer hug him.”

Thus, despite the ever-increasing loss of life in the Gaza Strip, Israel remains the perpetual victim. Indeed, the last frame with the mother looking straight into the camera leaves the average compassionate viewer — myself included — a bit choked up. Over the past few years, I have, however, become a critical consumer of Israeli news, and therefore can see through the perpetuation of the image that Israel and its Jewish majority are the victims and how, regardless of what happens, we are presented as the moral players in this conflict. Therefore, this kind of reportage, where the huge death toll in Gaza is elided and Jewish suffering is underscored, no longer shocks me.

What did manage to unnerve me in the broadcast was one short sentence made by a reporter who covered the entry of a humanitarian aid convoy into the Gaza Strip on Friday.

My mother and I — like other Israeli viewers — learned that 170 trucks supplied with basic foodstuff donated by the Turkish government entered Gaza through the Carmi crossing. That the report had nothing to say about the context of this food shipment did not surprise me. Nor was I surprised that no mention was made of the fact that 80 percent of Gaza’s inhabitants are unable to support themselves and are therefore dependent on humanitarian assistance — and this figure is increasing daily. Indeed, nothing was said about the severe food crisis in Gaza, which manifests itself in shortages of flour, rice, sugar, dairy products, milk and canned foods, or about the total lack of fuel for heating houses and buildings during these cold winter months, the absence of cooking gas, and the shortage of running water. The viewer has no way of knowing that the Palestinian health system is barely functioning or that some 250,000 people in central and northern Gaza are now living without any electricity at all due to the damage caused by the air strikes.

While the fact that this information was missing from the report did not surprise me, I found myself completely taken aback by the way in which the reporter justified the convoy’s entrance into Gaza. Explaining to those viewers who might be wondering why Israel allows humanitarian assistance to the other side during times of war, he declared that if a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe were to explode among the Palestinian civilian population, the international community would pressure Israel to stop the assault.

There is something extremely cynical about how Israel explains its use of humanitarian assistance, and yet such unadulterated explanations actually help uncover an important facet of postmodern warfare. Not unlike raising animals for slaughter on a farm, the Israeli government maintains that it is providing Palestinians with assistance so that it can have a free hand in attacking them. And just as Israel provides basic foodstuff to Palestinians while it continues shooting them, it informs Palestinians — by phone, no less — that they must evacuate their homes before F-16 fighter jets begin bombing them.

One notices, then, that in addition to its remote-control, computer game-like qualities, postmodern warfare is also characterized by a bizarre new moral element. It is as if the masters of wars realized that since current wars rarely take place between two armies and are often carried out in the midst of civilian populations, a new just war theory is needed. So these masters of war gathered together philosophers and intellectuals to develop a moral theory for postmodern wars, and today, as Gaza is being destroyed, we can see quite plainly how the new theory is being transformed into praxis.

Neve Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University. His new book, Israel’s Occupation, is due out this fall from the University of California Press.

Copyright © 2009 The Nation

ADL Worried About All the Anti-Israeli/”anti-Semitic” Protests

Israel’s Action in Gaza Spurs Anti-Israel Rallies RULEIntroduction

Posted: January 5, 2009


January 2009 Demonstrations

December 30 “National Day of Action” Demonstrations

December 2008 Demonstrations

Anti-Israel groups in the United States have organized a series of demonstrations, rallies and other events in response to Israel’s military action in Gaza to staunch the barrage of Hamas rockets hurled at Israeli towns and cities.

A coalition of groups that often unite in protest against Israel has been touting the protests as a response to Israel’s “massacre of Palestinians.”  As in the past, demonstrators have used these rallies to express extreme anti-Israel and anti-Zionist messages, to engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric and offensive Holocaust imagery likening Jews and Israelis to Nazis, as well as to express support for terror.

On December 28 and 27, as Israel started bombing raids against Hamas installations in Gaza, anti-Israel demonstrations were held in cities nationwide.  More coordinated rallies were organized outside Israeli embassies and consulates, U.S. federal buildings and elsewhere in the following days.

The Anti-Defamation League, which monitors anti-Israel activity, will report on anti-Israel demonstrations and events in reaction to Israeli strikes against Hamas as the situation unfolds.


Press Release:
Holocaust and Nazi Imagery Abound at Anti-Israel Rallies in U.S.

January 2008 – Demonstrations Against Israeli Actions in Gaza

ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition
Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

Hatred for Israel Is Spreading to Sports-world

Israeli team flees to changing room in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — An Israeli basketball team fled to the changing room Tuesday as hundreds of fist-pumping, chanting Turkish fans protested the violence in Gaza.

The European Cup game between Bnei Hasharon and Turk Telekom was later postponed because the Israeli team did not return to the court. There was no word on when or where the game would be played.

The fans chanted “God is Great” and “Killer Israel.” At least one fan threw his shoe at Israeli players but police used riot shields to protect them as they left the court. The Turkish players also headed to the locker room.

A pro-Islamic group earlier set an Israeli flag on fire outside the arena.

Turkey has harshly criticized Israel over the ground offensive in Gaza and has urged an immediate cease-fire in the Palestinian territory. It has also called on the United Nations to take steps to end the violence.

Criminals vs cowards

Criminals vs cowards

The current uproar in Arab streets might not be of any direct help to Gazans but it draws battle lines between the masses and their regimes, notes Sherine Bahaa

Click to view caption
Clockwise from top left: Egyptians protest in support of Gaza outside the Press Syndicate building in Cairo; Jordanians and Palestinians demonstrate in Amman against the continuing Israeli attacks on Gaza; Lebanese demonstrators listen to the speech of Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah during a rally organised by his supporters in the southern suburbs of Beirut against the Israeli air strikes on Gaza

“Arabs are a vocal phenomenon,” said former Israeli minister of defence Moshe Dayan disdainfully shortly after the Arab defeat in 1967.

Five consecutive days of round-the-clock raids on densely populated Gaza, which has been under tough sanctions for the past 18 months, pushed the number of martyrs approximately 400 and two thousand wounded. But are these figures high enough to trigger a real reaction?

“How many shaheed are enough for Arab rulers to retaliate to the Israeli massacres,” a Syrian young man was shouting during a demonstration beside Al-Yarmouk refugee camp.

A Yemeni protester who rushed into one of the demonstrations that filled the streets of Sanaa less than two hours after the first raid said, “this is not just an invasion of Gaza; it is an invasion of all Arab states and a direct result of the defeat of Arab conscience.”

Furious words that express bitterness and a desire for vengeance — but that is all. The Arab League, where the pro-American governments are dominant, has already postponed a ministerial meeting called to take a common position on the crisis in Gaza and a proposal to hold an Arab summit is meeting some resistance, diplomats said.

Judging by past summits, Arab heads of state are unlikely to fulfil popular aspirations, especially if that would put them in conflict with Israel and Washington.

Arab popular demands sound simple: opening the border with Egypt to relieve the siege; closing the embassy; expelling the ambassador; and withdrawing the generous 2002 Saudi peace initiative agreed by the Arab League. But they are all but impossible given the present political alignment, and they fall on deaf ears.

It appears nothing will really change. The pro-US Arab regimes will continue to play the role of loyal allies, and the “radical extremist regimes” as the West refers to Syria and its non-Arab ally Iran will score more points for their continuing support of resistance groups. In short, Hizbullah and Hamas will be symbols of dignity and victory in the Arab world.

Not long ago, in 2006, during the Israeli- Hizbullah war, the moderate regimes initially hoped that the conflict would damage Hizbullah, but soon changed tack when the Israeli army failed to deliver a quick victory and Hizbullah proved it could survive.

This week, pan-Arab satellite channels have been broadcasting nearly non-stop images of bloodied Palestinian bodies, ambulances screaming and women wailing in hospital corridors. But US President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice justified Israel’s slaughter with the usual mantra that Israel has the right to “retaliate and defend itself”.

“Our intention is to totally change the rules of the game,” Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said. According to Barak, “the game” is the whole Arab-Israeli conflict, but “the score” was much higher than he actually anticipated before launching the current attack.

It was 40 years ago, on 28 December 1968, that Israeli commandos raided Beirut airport and destroyed 13 Lebanese civilian aircraft, in retaliation for a Palestinian attack against an Israeli airliner in Athens. Israel aimed to inflict a revenge so severe to shock the Arabs into preventing the Palestinians from fighting Israel.

Today, 40 years and numerous attacks and wars later, Israel is again using massive retaliatory and punitive force to cow the Palestinians of Gaza into submission.

Arabs, and above all Palestinians, knew by grim experience that the death of one Israeli citizen justifies the indiscriminate murder of a hundred Palestinians. “This is an attempt to uproot the Palestinian resistance like what they tried to do in 2006 with Hizbullah,” said Hizbullah representative Hussein Rahal in Beirut.

But this is harder said than done. The Arab and Muslim communities cannot be judged this way. “These are communities that cherish their martyrs; where violent death reinforces social cohesion and unity,” said an Arab analyst.

“What has happened in the past few hours is simply an expression of what has been going on for days and months and years: the death and fear that Gaza’s gunmen and rocket teams and bombers have inflicted upon Israel have been returned 10, 20, 30 times over once again,” the analyst added.

Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians provide the rallying point to vent anger not only against Zionist atrocities but against what the public widely call “the collaboration of their regimes” with their supreme foe for already two generations, a rogue state which opponents rightly dismiss as “the Zionist entity”.

According to one Israeli commentator in Haaretz, judging by Arab leaders’ statements and slogans shouted by demonstrators in several Arab capitals, one might have thought that Egypt, not Israel, was the one waging war on Gaza.

But to be fair, it is not only Egypt but all Arab regimes that are being condemned by the Arabs.

“This is something to be ranked with Deir Yassin. With the Sabra and Shatila massacres,” the Arab analyst quoted above reiterated.

In Yemen, tens of thousands of people gathered in and around a stadium in the capital, Sanaa, chanting anti-Israeli slogans and criticising Arab leaders for failing to act. “How long will the silence last? Arabs wake up!” read one banner.

In Lebanon, Al-Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said that people were demanding more decisive action from their leaders. “We have heard very critical remarks, not only against Israel, but also against Arab governments. Many were angry at the Egyptian government, they feel they needed to do more,” she said.

Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, who likes to play the role of conscience of the Arab nation, joined in the criticism of Arab leaders on Sunday. “These characters should be ashamed of themselves. They are trading on the name of the Palestinian cause with their cowardly, weak and defeatist stands,” he said.

At a protest in Baghdad, Palestinian Ambassador Galil Al-Qasus said: “We were waiting for action from the Arab leaders, but now we do not want anything from them. We have appealed to Arab leaders for almost 60 years, but all these efforts were in vain.”

U.S. to foil any Arab bid to push Security Council resolution for Gaza cease-fire



U.S. to foil any Arab bid to push Security Council

resolution for Gaza cease-fire

By Shlomo Shamir

The United States is determined to thwart any Arab initiative aimed at forcing the UN Security Council to assume a direct role in the Gaza crisis.

Reliable sources at the UN say that the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, has received explicit instructions from his superiors at the State Department to torpedo any initiative proposed by the Arab bloc which is designed to grant the Security Council the status of an official arbiter that will have direct involvement with disentangling the Gaza crisis.

This directive can explain Washington’s persistent opposition to even a non-binding declarative statement issued by the Council, as it did during an emergency meeting late Saturday night.

The U.S. policy means that the Arab foreign ministers who arrived in New York on Sunday in an effort to advance a Libyan cease-fire initiative can expect a diplomatic confrontation with Washington.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said on Monday Arab countries were drafting a Security Council resolution demanding an immediate end to “Israeli aggression” in Gaza.

He said Arab foreign ministers were meeting at the United Nations on Monday to discuss the draft as Israeli forces continued to pound Gaza in an offensive to halt rocket fire against its cities from the Palestinian territory.

Malki told reporters that Arab League chief Amr Moussa along with ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states would discuss the crisis with representatives of the five permanent Security Council members and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Then we will continue our deliberations in order to prepare for a draft resolution that hopefully will be … passed in the Security Council tomorrow,” Malki said.

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would be first to address Tuesday’s council meeting. Foreign ministers of some of the 15 council members might also attend, diplomats said.

Malki said the Arabs wanted “a resolution that will permit first of all ending the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and calling for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, lifting the siege, opening the crossings between Gaza and Israel, and also between Gaza and Egypt.”

“I regret that the Security Council has not been able to reach a consensus, including during its emergency session held [Saturday] evening, in order to bring about an end to the violence,” said Ban.

Ban expressed concern over the humanitarian conditions in the strip and demanded that Israel open the border crossings, including the Nahal Oz and Karni terminals, so that shipments of food, fuel, and other necessities could resume.

Ban said on Sunday he had recalled his special Mideast peace envoy to New York for briefings and convened a meeting of senior advisers on the Gaza crisis.

In a statement from his press office, Ban also said he believed the UN Security Council had “a central role to play in bringing a speedy end to the conflict,” and that he planned further talks with Council members and Arab leaders to try to end the fighting.

He also said he was concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and had asked Israeli authorities to open three border crossings to allow in grain, power plant fuel and other essential supplies.

Ban said he wants the special envoy, Robert Serry, to “brief me in New York on the situation on the ground as well as diplomatic efforts underway.”

Gaza op prompts wave of anti-Semitism in Belgium


Gaza op prompts wave of anti-Semitism

in Belgium

Protests against Israeli operation in Gaza give rise to violent attacks against Jews across country. Jews now live in fear here, says Jewish Agency envoy in Antwerp

Yael Levy

Anti-Semitism is rearing its head in Belgium as protests against the Israeli military operation in Gaza have led to violent attacks against Jews.

A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the liberal synagogue in Brussels on Monday. No injuries were reported, but the building sustained damage.

“Things are heating up here in Belgium,” said Jewish Agency and Bnei Akiva envoy in Antwerp Meir Vachotzker. “When the fighting in Gaza started, a Molotov cocktail and a rock were hurled at a synagogue in Charlois and caused damage.”

On Saturday unknown assailants attempted to torch the house of a Jewish family in Antwerp. An eyewitness who resides nearby alerted the police to the place and they managed to extinguish the flames before the house caught fire.

Saturday also saw large demonstrations by Muslims and left-wing activists against Israel and in support of Hamas. Vachotzker said that the protesters set Israeli flags aflame, burned a Chabad menorah and sprayed swastikas and hate graffiti on Jewish-owned shops. The police arrested some 50 rioters.

The Jewish community in the country is planning a large demonstration n support of Israel and the IDF this coming Wednesday. On Sunday evening some 600 people – both religious and secular – convened at Antwerp’s big synagogue to show solidarity with the soldiers in Gaza.

According to Vachotzker, Belgium’s Jews have been living in fear since the operation started. “Vandalizing stores has become a trend. Some of the public may support Israel, but they don’t show it.

There are many concerns, mainly security ones, involved in holding pro-Israel rallies. We’ve received security instructions, told to be more alert…and to watch ourselves especially after nightfall.

US troops carry out search operation in NWA

US troops carry out search operation in NWA

By Mushtaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: Two US choppers, carrying American troops, reportedly intruded into the Pakistani tribal territory and landed at the Bange Dar village of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), bordering the Khost province in Afghanistan, and abducted three nomads on Monday night.

Separately, suspected militants killed four more alleged US spies in the Taliban-controlled North Waziristan tribal region on the night between Monday and Tuesday.Tribal sources told The News that two US choppers landed at the Bange Dar village. The soldiers carried out a brief search operation in the village and detained three nomads and took them along to the neighbouring country.

The sources informed this correspondent from Miramshah, headquarters of NWA, by telephone that the US choppers landed at the border near Ghulam Khan area and searched the small village for suspected Taliban militants.

Quoting residents of Bange Dar village, the sources said after failing to find out any militants in the village, the US troops later held three ‘innocent’ men on suspicion of having links with Taliban militants involved in attacks on the US and Nato forces across the border.

However, senior government officials as well as security authorities based in Miramshah denied violation of Pakistan’s airspace by the coalition forces. “We have our troops deployed along the border with Afghanistan but none of them reported any such violation by the foreign forces,” a military officer told this scribe but wished not to be named.

The government officials said the incident might have happened across the border in Afghanistan as the Afghan nomads had set up small-tented villages inside Afghan territory. When reached by telephone, Maj-Gen Athar Abbas, Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), denied reports about violation of Pakistan’s airspace by the US choppers.

“No, I don’t have any kind of such report. I am in touch with senior military officials but none of them talked about this issue, which I am sure would not have taken place,” explained Maj-Gen Abbas.

Meanwhile, suspected militants in North Waziristan killed four more alleged US spies and threw their bodies on main roads in various parts of the restive tribal region. Two of the alleged US spies were said to be Afghan nationals and the other two were identified as local tribesmen. The tribal sources said bullet-riddled bodies of the two Afghans were found on road in Sarobi village near Spalga.

Body of one tribesman was recovered from Miramshah Bazaar and other’s body was found from the Razmak Road. The suspected militants left hand-written letters Pashto language in which four of the slain men were accused of spying on ‘Mujahideen’ in North Waziristan for the US forces in Afghanistan.

Controversy Arises Over Alleged Hamas-Iran Ties

Controversy Arises Over Alleged Hamas-Iran Ties

While moderate Arab states have been largely quiet about the conflict in the Gaza Strip, Iran has been sharply vocal in its criticism of Israel and has offered support to Hamas. Most analysts agree there are links between Iran and Hamas, but they differ about the nature and depth of those ties.

Israel has long contended that Iran backs Hamas the same way Tehran supports its primary proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israeli officials say that Iran has armed and trained Hamas fighters. But it is a controversial allegation.

Palestinians welcome to Gaza City port a boat full of pro-Palestinian activists defying an Israeli blockade, 09 Dec 2008
Palestinians welcome to Gaza City port a boat full of pro-Palestinian activists defying an Israeli blockade, 09 Dec 2008

George Joffe, a Middle East expert at Cambridge University in Britain, dismissed the claim that Iran could have penetrated the Israeli cordon around the Gaza Strip to provide arms to Hamas.

“Quite how Iran could have maintained those sorts of contacts seems to me very difficult to understand. Even inside the occupied territories, it would have been very difficult for those kinds of links to exist. They are isolated, in effect, from the rest of the Middle East, too. So again, simple logic seems to me to suggest that the close ties that are proposed really can’t exist,” he said.

But Reva Bhalla, a Middle East analyst with the private intelligence firm Stratfor, said Iran uses a sophisticated Hezbollah smuggling network to get arms to Hamas.

“Basically, you’ll have a bunch of Hezbollah agents who will procure arms through Sudan. They’ll enter Egypt under forged documents, pay off disgruntled Bedouins in the Sinai with things like light arms, cash, Lebanese hashish – which they can sell in the black market – and pay off Egyptian security guards as well so that they can travel covertly into Gaza to pass off the weapons shipments through Hamas’ pretty extensive underground tunnel network,” she said.

But most analysts agree that even if Iran is arming Hamas, it would produce little practical gain for Tehran other than to make life difficult for Israel. It is on the political front, they say, where Iran looks to benefit from the crisis in Gaza as it tries to project itself as the leader of the Islamic world.

Analyst Reva Bhalla said Iran is trying boost its standing in the region by embarrassing moderate Arab states.

Thousands of demonstrators protest against the Israeli attacks in Gaza in Amman, Jordan,  04 Jan 2009
Thousands of demonstrators in Amman, Jordan, protest against the Israeli attacks in Gaza, 04 Jan 2009

“It basically makes Iran stand apart from the Arab regimes. And note that the Arab regimes are the most silent on this issue. Most are quite happy seeing Hamas contained, [they] really have no problem with the Palestinians being contained in the region by the Israelis. It’s that huge disconnect between what you hear in the Arab street and what you see being actually discussed within these regimes. And so Iran is trying to exploit that,” she said.

There may be a domestic political dimension as well. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who frequently criticizes or threatens Israel – is up for re-election in June.

Cambridge University’s George Joffe’ said that in voicing support for Hamas, Iranian hardliners might be trying to boost their credentials as defenders of Muslims.

“The Palestinian issue is very important inside Iran; there’s no doubt about that. And to that extent, of course, what is happening in the Middle East will play a part inside the elections themselves,” he said.

But Middle East scholar Mehrzad Boroujerdi of Syracuse University said that when the economy is bad – as it is in Iran – rallying to Hamas’ cause might not necessarily translate into votes.

Iranians in Tehran wear white shrouds to indicate their willingness to die to defend Gaza as a man blesses them with a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran 01 Jan 2009
Iranians in Tehran wear white shrouds to indicate their willingness to die to defend Gaza as a man blesses them with a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran 01 Jan 2009

“I’m not sure because based on the past track record or at least surveys we have seen of the Iranian voters seem to indicate that they are moved more or less by domestic politics, particularly economic issues, rather than foreign policy issues. So whether it’s the plight of the Palestinians or the nuclear issue, it’s not necessarily going to be the ‘maker or breaker’ [pivotal issue] as far as the Iranian public is concerned,” he said.

However, Iran’s state-run news agency claimed that some 70,000 Iranian students have volunteered for suicide operations against Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip.