14 Dead, 225 Hurt as Israeli Troops Fire on Naksa Day Protesters in Golan

14 Dead, 225 Hurt as Israeli Troops Fire on Naksa Day Protesters in Golan

by Naharnet Newsdesk


Israeli gunfire killed 14 people and wounded about 225 others on Sunday as demonstrators on the Syrian side tried to cross the ceasefire line on the annexed Golan Heights, Syrian state television reported.

“Fourteen people were killed, including a woman and a child, and 225 others were wounded by Israeli gunfire near the Golan,” the report said.

“The protesters, hundreds strong, were both Syrian and Palestinian,” state news agency SANA said.

The protesters rushed towards the ceasefire line, attempting to cut through a line of barbed wire and head into the Golan Heights in a repeat of demonstrations last month, which saw thousands mass along Israel’s north.

Similar protests were held in the West Bank, where hundreds demonstrated at the Qalandia checkpoint near Ramallah, and in Gaza, where several hundred gathered in the north of the coastal enclave.

In Majdal Shams, on the occupied Golan, Israeli troops opened fire as demonstrators sought to push through the mined ceasefire line, which has been reinforced with two lines of curled barbed wire blocking access to a fence.

“Despite numerous warnings, both verbal and later warning shots in the air, dozens of Syrians continue to approach the border and IDF (Israel Defense Forces) forces were left with no choice but to open fire towards the feet of protesters in efforts to deter further actions,” an Israeli army spokesman told Agence France Presse.

Israeli public radio reported that several protesters were injured when a landmine exploded near Quneitra, which lies in no-man’s land between Israel and Syria, but there was no immediate confirmation from either side.

Updating an earlier toll, Syrian state media reported that 14 people were killed and 225 wounded.

An AFP photographer saw at least 20 people with injuries, some soaked in blood as they were evacuated from the scene, while the Israeli military said it was aware of 12 casualties.

Syrian television showed footage of protesters trying to scale the barbed wire as Israeli soldiers atop a tank opened fire.

“Our aim is to plant the Syrian flag on the occupied land,” one of the protesters, Mohammed Shaiber, said in the television report.

On the Israeli side, Majdal Shams locals pleaded with soldiers to stop firing as troops used loudspeakers to warn demonstrators in Arabic that “anyone who comes close to the fence will be responsible for their own blood.”

Israel forces were placed on high alert after activists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in Arab nations bordering the Jewish state, called for protesters to march on Israeli checkpoints and border areas.

Israeli military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovitz accused Syria of orchestrating the latest Golan protest to deflect attention from deadly anti-regime demonstrations in the Arab country.

“We believe that the Syrian regime is focusing the world’s attention on the border with Israel instead of what is happening there,” she said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also commented on the protests, calling demonstrators “extremist elements” who “are trying to break through our borders and threaten our communities and our citizens.”

In the West Bank on Sunday, hundreds of demonstrators marched to the Qalandia checkpoint by Ramallah, and threw stones at Israeli troops who fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

Ten demonstrators were taken to hospital with light wounds from rubber bullets, while another 20 were treated at the scene for tear gas inhalation.

Elsewhere, around 100 people demonstrated in central Hebron in the southern West Bank, while dozens of protesters tried to march from the northern West Bank village of Deir al-Hatab to the Elon Moreh settlement nearby.

In Gaza, several hundred demonstrators gathered at the entrance of the northern town of Beit Hanun, with Hamas police preventing them from marching on the Erez border crossing with Israel.

Tens of demonstrators who tried to break away and march north clashed with Hamas police, who detained at least a dozen.

Sunday’s protests, timed to coincide with the 44th anniversary of the Six-Day War when Israel captured the Golan from Syria as well as the West Bank and Gaza Strip, were intended to be a repeat of massive demonstrations last month.

On May 15, thousands of protesters massed on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, trying to force their way across on the anniversary of Israel’s creation.

Israeli troops opened fire on demonstrators as they stormed the borders from Syria and Lebanon, leaving six dead on the Lebanese side of the border and four dead on Syria’s side.

In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees on Sunday staged a day of mourning but the Lebanese army banned any gatherings at the border with Israel to avoid a repeat of the violence.

Chemical Suppression of Bad Memories

Metyrapone (Trade Name: Metopirone) Novartis

At the University of Montreal, researchers have found a drug that seems able to decrease a person’s recall of a bad memory. It’s not exactly Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but it’s a pretty remarkable step down the road to active memory modification. And it worked out so well in the movie, right? I haven’t watched the whole thing but it really did seem like Jim Carrey was going to be happy with his new memories.

The drug is actually not a new creation: Metyrapone is often used to diagnose adrenal insufficiency, but these researchers found that its effect on stress hormones might be its most useful attribute. Metyrapone decreases the levels of cortisol, which is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. These early trials suggest that by messing around with the levels of cortisol in a person’s body at the time of a stressful event, memories of that event might be impaired–possibly permanently. It’s a very different technique than the neurological manipulations we explored a few years back. There is a sort of reverse of this process that’s used to increase memory–at least, in elderly mice.

The researchers conducted a trial in which men were given a dosage of metyrapone and taught a story with both neutral and negative elements. The subjects were then asked to remember as much of the story as possible at two separate occasions: immediately after they learned it, and four days later. They found that the men who received a dose of metyrapone were unable to remember the negative elements of the story in as much detail as the neutral elements, while the placebo group could remember both neutral and negative elements equally well.

While these tests are certainly in the very early stages, the research shows serious promise, especially as they might provide the ability to treat post-traumatic stress syndrome–though with metyrapone no longer being manufactured, it may be tricky to continue the research.

[PsychCentral via Daily Intel]

Gates Hints At Continued US Expansion In Asia

Gates sees wider US military presence in Asia

By Robert Burn, Associated Press

In a parting pitch to Asian allies, retiring US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today that the Pentagon is considering steps to widen its military presence across the Pacific Rim. He said budget woes won’t interfere.

“America is, as the expression goes, putting our money where our mouth is with respect to this part of the world — and will continue to do so,” Gates told Asia’s premier security conference, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

On his final overseas trip before stepping down June 30 — and his seventh to Asia in the last 18 months — Gates insisted that Americans’ war weariness and debt worries should not be seen as setting the stage for a shrinking of US commitments in Asia. On the leading sources of US security concerns in Asia — North Korea and China — he made only brief mention.

But he did highlight a Pentagon commitment to developing ways of countering “anti-access” technologies of the kind that the US says China is working on — advanced anti-ship missiles, for example, that could make it harder for US aircraft carriers and other warships to operate in Asia seas.

Yesterday evening, Gates met with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Liang Guanglie. Gates told Liang that he believes the military-to-military relationship is “on a positive trajectory,” after a series of setbacks in recent years.

Liang said he agreed that defence ties are getting better and that they deserve still more attention.

The main elements of friction remain, however. China still claims control of waters the US considers international. Chinese ambition for influence in Southeast Asia and elsewhere still makes smaller nations uneasy, while Beijing dislikes the heavy US naval presence in Asian waters and builds up its military with weaponry only logically intended for use against the US.

A new irritant was introduced this week, with allegations that computer hackers in China had compromised the personal Gmail accounts of several hundred people, including US government officials, military personnel and political activists.

The Chinese military tried to direct the spotlight off those allegations, with accusations that the US is launching a global “Internet war” to bring down Arab and other governments.

The FBI said it was investigating Google’s allegations, but no official government email accounts have been compromised. Google said all the hacking victims have been notified and their accounts have been secured.

US officials said the Google matter did not arise in Gates’ meeting with Liang .

Facebook/”Arab Spring” Moves To Vietnam and China–[updated]

Facebook Call Spurs Vietnam Marches Over Dispute With China


June 5 (Bloomberg) — Hundreds of young Vietnamese, spurred by calls on Facebook and other social media, staged a march through Hanoi to protest China’s recent actions in disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Holding signs that read “Stop Chinese Invasion of Vietnam Lands” and singing the national anthem, a crowd of mostly Vietnamese college students demonstrated on Hanoi’s streets today after police blocked their path to the Chinese embassy.

The protests, announced last week on Facebook, blogs and chat forums highlight growing tensions in the South China Sea as Vietnam, the Philippines and China are unable to reach a consensus on renewing a joint exploration agreement in the disputed area.

For the Vietnamese demonstrators, it was an unusual public opportunity to engage politically. Most said they heard about the protest on Facebook, which is routinely blocked in Vietnam. The marchers were often flanked by security police.

“I’m marching for peace,” said Nguyen Ly Hien Nga–[correction, editor NoSunglasses], a 21 year-old university student. “If we allow China to continue its bullying behavior, it will upset world peace. This dispute needs to be solved through foreign affairs channels not with Chinese boats provoking us.”

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week formally protested a recent incident in which Chinese naval ships used weapons to threaten Vietnamese fishermen in the area of the Spratly Islands, according to a statement on the government website. Vietnam also protested Chinese ships cutting survey cables of a boat operated by Vietnam Oil & Gas Group, or PetroVietnam, last month.

Chinese Embassy

Messages this week on the Internet also called for simultaneous protests in Ho Chi Minh City. In 2007, hundreds of people demonstrated outside the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi over the Spratly and Paracel islands.

Vietnam and China have verbally sparred over the disputed territories in recent weeks ahead of the annual IISS Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, that took place yesterday and today in Singapore.

The Spratly Islands group are claimed all or in part by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

–K. Oanh Ha in Hanoi. Editors: Paul Tighe, Lily Nonomiya

The American Co-Opting of India

India-U.S. partnership to help stability in South Asia: Robert Gates

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivers an opening address on the Emerging Security Challenges In the Asia-Pacific at the IISS Shangri-la Security Summit, in Singapore, on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates delivers an opening address on the Emerging Security Challenges In the Asia-Pacific at the IISS Shangri-la Security Summit, in Singapore, on Saturday.


The India — U.S. partnership, which is based on shared democratic values and vital economic and security interests, will be an indispensable pillar of stability in South Asia and beyond, American Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.

“The United States and India are working more closely together than ever before. During the Cold War there was an uneasy co-existence between the world’s largest democracy and the world’s oldest,” Mr. Gates said in his speech to the Shangri—La Dialogue in Singapore.

Now, there is a partnership based on shared democratic values and vital economic and security interests, he noted.

“A partnership that will be an indispensable pillar of stability in South Asia and beyond whether countering piracy, increasing participation in multilateral venues, or aiding the development of Afghanistan, our partnership is playing a vital role,” Mr. Gates said in his speech in which he emphasised on the need to have engagement with top Asian countries.

He said the U.S. is a Pacific nation, and that requires it to sustain its allies while maintaining a robust military engagement and deterrent posture across the Pacific Rim.

“Indeed, one of the most striking — and surprising — changes I’ve observed during my travels to Asia is the widespread desire across the region for stronger military-to-military relationships with the United States — much more so than during my last time in government 20 years ago,” he said.

The U.S. engagement in Asia has been guided by a set of enduring principles that have fostered the economic growth and stability of the region, Mr. Gates said.

These principles, supported by both major political parties in the U.S., include free and open commerce; a just international order that highlights rights and responsibilities of nations and fidelity to the rule of law; and open access by all to the global commons of sea, air, space, and now, cyberspace.

“I believe our work in Asia is laying the groundwork for continued prosperity and security for the United States and for the region,” he said.

The U.S. will do more and expand into other areas in non-traditional ways, he added.

“We’ve taken a number of steps towards establishing a defence posture across the Asia-Pacific that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable,” Mr. Gates said.

The military posture proposed will maintain American presence in northeast Asia while enhancing U.S. presence in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean area, he noted.

Egypt Fails To Keep Rafah Crossing Open

Hamas shuts Egyptian border crossing

 The Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The ruling Hamas militant group has closed the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt to protest what it says are repeated delays at the crossing since Egypt permanently opened it last week.

Ayoub Abu Shaer, director of the Rafah terminal, says the Palestinians are upset over what he calls the Egyptian “mechanism” at the crossing.

With great fanfare, Egypt last week said it was permanently opening the crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world. But the number of travelers has been limited, and on Saturday, Egypt closed the crossing without notice.

Egypt’s new government has promised to reopen the crossing since the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak in February. Mubarak cooperated with Israel during a four-year blockade of Gaza meant to weaken Hamas.

Looking To Kill the Next Nasser

[If another Arab Nasser-type rises-up and unites all the anti-monarchy protestors, then the Saudis are toast.]

Gamel Abdel Nasser









Arabs see Yemen as turning point for uprisings

* Party official says Saleh will return to duties

* Tunisia, Egypt presidents already tossed out by protests

* Other rulers turned to military to quash demonstrations

By Yasmine Saleh and Edmund Blair

CAIRO, June 5 (Reuters) – Many ordinary Arabs claimed another scalp on Sunday in their quest to oust the region’s autocrats and dismissed the idea that Yemen’s president would ever return to power after treatment in Saudi Arabia.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, wounded in an attack on his palace in the Yemeni capital last week, underwent surgery to remove shrapnel on Sunday. A party official said he would return to Sanaa to resume his duties. Few believe he will.

“This signifies the fall of the third Arab authoritarian regime and will give a massive boost to those fighting in Syria and Libya,” said 27-year-old Egyptian banker, Hussein Khalil, who was among protesters who brought down Egypt’s president.

In January, Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after stepping down. About a month later, on Feb. 11, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak quit amid protests. He vowed not to leave Egypt and now faces graft and murder charges.

Protests have spread, notably to Yemen, Syria, Libya and Bahrain, where other Arab rulers have been in power for decades. But protesters in these states have come up against rulers determined to hold on and ready to use military might.

Some now hope that could change.

“The departure of Saleh is a turning point not just for the Yemeni revolution but also is a huge push for the current changes in the Arab region and is the start of the real victory,” said Zaki Bani Rusheid, a leading figure in Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Saleh was wounded when shells struck his palace in Sanaa, killing seven people and wounding the president, the prime minister, his deputy and the parliament speaker. He left for Riyadh on Saturday to receive treatment.

“This is a face-saving move to let him abandon power. Maybe he realised that in the next attack he will not be able to save his life,” said Alfred Samaan, the head of Iraqi Writers Union.


Saudi Arabia has headed off restiveness in its own population with huge cash handouts. But it has been involved in the ‘Arab Spring’ in other ways: providing a haven for Ben Ali, sending troops to support Bahrain’s rulers and now treating Saleh.

“If they want to get Saleh an exit based on his injuries, they have to first address the issues of demonstrators and opposing tribes,” said Sami Alfaraj, president of Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies.

Yemen, a mountainous country where possessing a gun is commonplace, is riven by tribal rivalries that Saleh had for 33 years proved adept at juggling to stay in power. That changed as protesters rallied against him, inspired by the ‘Arab Spring’.

“It is in Saudi Arabia’s interest to end the events in Yemen because it does not want the trouble spilling across the borders,” said Abdel-Rahman Hussein, 30, an Egyptian journalist.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, shares a 1,500-km (1,000-mile) border with Yemen. Until recently, with the United States, it had backed Saleh as an ally against a Yemen-based arm of al Qaeda.

Egyptian political scientist Hassan Nafaa said Saudi Arabia would not face criticism from Arab people for giving refuge to ousted leaders provided the deposed rulers did not use the kingdom “to interfere in their countries from there.”

“The ‘Arab Spring’ will continue, Arab people are in a state of total rejection of their current ruling systems … The only challenge is what the new rulers and political systems will be like,” he added. (Additional reporting by Amran Abocar in Dubai, Suleiman Khalidi in Amman and Waleed Ibrahim in Baghdad; Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Myra MacDonald)