ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

First, Home To Bomb-Grade Uranium Plant, Now Nuclear Dump?–My Town, “Cancer Capital of Ohio”

‘Worse than what the public knows’

By Tom Corrigan – tcorrigan@aimmediamidwest.com

 


Former workers at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon claim the sickness they are now experiencing is a direct result of their employment at what is commonly referred to as the A-Plant.

Former workers at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon claim the sickness they are now experiencing is a direct result of their employment at what is commonly referred to as the A-Plant.

PIKETON — An outcry of opposition from local governments and residents may or may not be enough to stop construction of a permanent on-site waste disposal facility – or radioactive trash dump, it’s proper title depending on your point of view – at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon.

But there is another battle being fought over the plant, a battle that has been going on for far longer and likely could be considered more intense and certainly more personal than any argument over the waste facility.

On a recent Tuesday, about 25 to 30 persons on the frontlines of that second battle gathered as they do once a month at Ritchie’s Marketplace Grocery and Restaurant in Piketon. All claim they are sick. Sadly, some claim they are dying. They all claim their sickness is a direct result of their employment at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, also commonly referred to as the A-Plant.

Among the visitors is “Julia,” not her real name. Julia complains of COPD, skin cancer and other issues. Her complaints are not unusual. “Henry,” again, not his real name, talks about hearing loss, COPD and possibly Parkinson’s disease. Henry says the hearing loss is due not to any loud noise inside of the plant, the same type of noise one might encounter in any industrial setting, but blames his hearing loss directly on chemicals to which Portsmouth workers were exposed, allegedly without their knowledge.

Vina Colley is becoming well-known as the leader of Portsmouth-Piketon Residents for Safety and Security (PRESS.) She says, while the government has denied some of Henry’s health claims, they have approved some payment for his hearing loss, supposedly specifically allowing that loss was due to some type of exposure other than noise in the plant.

As you might expect, Colley and the others have numerous complaints against the government and, specifically, the program that governs compensation for persons who worked in nuclear facilities of some type or another. “It’s worse than what the public knows,” Colley says. She and the others allege the government shredded, along with other documents, badges workers were required to wear. The badges were supposed to measure levels of exposure to radiation or chemicals. In the opinion of the workers, having access to those badges, or at least the records of what those badges measured, obviously would be extremely helpful in proving their health claims.

About halfway through an interview, Julia claims she isn’t doing well and needs to leave the restaurant. As the conversation continues among those still present, one major topic on the minds of some of the former workers, including Colley, is whether plutonium was present at the Piketon plant. Colley admits the government, specifically the Department of Energy (DOE), now readily acknowledges there was plutonium in the plant. But she also insists they lied about it for some time, and still claims any plutonium present was diluted. She produces a letter sent to the DOE from the offices of then-senators Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, which alleged the plant’s own records showed there was undiluted plutonium in the plant.

In terms of any compensation due to workers, whether there was plutonium in the plant or not, may be a moot point. Energy worker compensation for health problems is governed by the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA.) Under the act, the Department of Labor (DOL) uses a site metric system (known as the SEM) which is intended to spell out what substances were present at various DOE sites and what site work processes might have caused workers to be exposed to those substances. The SEM also lists health problems potentially resulting from any exposure. The Portsmouth plant SEM lists numerous specific buildings at the site where plutonium was present along with over a dozen different jobs which may have exposed workers to the substance.

Under the heading “specific health effects,” the SEM lists none, stating the National Institute of Health hazard map “has not identified any occupational disease related to exposure to the substance.”

A DOL spokesperson did not respond in time for the deadline for this issue to questions about how the DOL can claim occupational exposure to plutonium carries no risk for disease. As you might expect, the SEM is not very popular with Colley and her cohorts.

“As you know, the database was set up to help identify workers exposures, yet in practice is being leveraged to deny compensation,” Colley said during her April 26, 2016, testimony to a Washington, D.C. committee.

According to the DOL website, 5,646 workers have made claims connected to their work at the diffusion plant. The compensation act divides claims into a couple of different categories. For what are called Part B filings, 3,013 claims have been approved, while 3,059 were denied. For Part E claims, 3,079 were approved; 3,817 denied. Again, according to the DOL, of the top 20 DOE sites nationwide where workers are eligible for compensation, the Portsmouth plant ranks 15th in terms of the number of claims submitted. Total compensation paid reaches more than $865 million. Despite what might seem like a large dollar amount in payouts, Colley and her group argue the government stacks the deck against workers. Colley flat out claims the government tries to delay compensation until a former worker dies, since survivor payments are cheaper than medical bills.

Tiffanee Moyer is a nurse for Critical Nurse Staffing, Inc., which works directly with local former energy workers. She said the government does indeed make workers jump through a lot of hoops to earn compensation.

“It takes a very long time for people to win approvals,” said Sydney Ehmke, outreach coordinator for the Atomic Resource Coalition (ARC), a national nonprofit which works to help former energy workers.

In the end, Colley and the others may never be satisfied. For every claim one side makes, the other side has a counterclaim. Colley swears there is a pipe pumping contaminated water from the Portsmouth plant directly into the Scioto River, something officials overseeing the dismantling of the plant flatly denied. (Colley even provided a photo of an open pipe with water flowing out of it, though there is no way to tell where that pipe sits from the photo alone.) Colley and the others also worry rank-and-file workers helping to take down the plant and build the waste disposal site are exposed to hazards of which they are not being told. A request for a response from current plant management was not recieved in time for this story. It is unclear if current workers would be eligible for compensation should problems arise.

As for the opposition to the storage facility, which would house debris from the plant and other sources on the grounds of the plant, a DOE spokesperson recently said her department would need to see a “fatal flaw” in the plans for the storage facility to reopen the record of decision approving construction of the storage site. In an email sent to The Daily Times, Piketon Mayor Billy Spencer said the fatal flaw is that the DOE lied to the public about the porous nature of the bed rock beneath the site of the proposed storage facility. Spencer did not respond to several requests for further comment. Piketon, Portsmouth and several other surrounding communities all have passed resolutions opposing construction of the storage site.

“Our federal government continues to ignore the people of southern Ohio, who are very clearly requesting the record of decision be reopened. We didn’t know they lied to us until after they made this decision,” Spencer said in his email.

Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931

STATEMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN ON U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM THE JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION

MIN. FOREIGN AFFAIRS ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

STATEMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN ON U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM THE JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION


STATEMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

ON U.S. GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWAL FROM THE JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION

TEHRAN, 10 MAY  2018

 

 

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

 

The unlawful withdrawal of the U.S. President from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) is but the final of long and persistent violations of this accord on the part of the United States, and especially since the coming into office of its new extremist Administration. Mr. Trump’s absurd insults against the great Iranian nation indicates the extent of his ignorance and folly. Moreover, his baseless charges against the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in fact befits a regime which has through its interventions dragged the Middle East into chaos and ignited terrorism and extremism; whose Zionist ally is engaged in unprecedented cruelty, violations of human rights and aggression; and whose regional clients gave birth to and nurtured terrorist groups, which Mr. Trump in a ridiculous claim linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is regrettable that this kind of individual now governs the civilized and peaceful American people.

Ever since his election campaign, Mr. Trump has declared his hatred of the JCPOA, an accord recognized as a victory of diplomacy by the international community. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has not only made explicit and official statements against the agreement in violation of its provisions, but has in practice also failed to implement U.S. practical – and not merely formal commitments under the JCPOA. The Islamic Republic of Iran has recorded these violations in numerous letters to the Joint Commission convened under the JCPOA, outlining the current U.S. Administration’s bad faith and continuous violations of the accord. Thus Mr. Trump’s latest action is not a new development but simply means the end of the obstructionist presence of the United States as a participant in the JCPOA.

The JCPOA is a multilateral accord adopted unanimously in a United Nations Security Council resolution, which in contrast with the claims of Mr. Trump, is not merely an agreement of his predecessor whose implementation can be ignored by a succeeding U.S. Administration.

This action on the part of the U.S. President is not limited to the JCPOA. Indeed, violations of law and breaking of commitments have become a pattern under the current U.S. Administration, going from the Paris Climate Accord to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was only due to the global consensus on the JCPOA and the accord’s inner strength that it took the United States Government sixteen months to explicitly and officially pull out.

Beyond further damaging the credibility of the United States on the world stage, the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA has put into question the foundation of international relations in today’s world, the credibility of accords entered into with the U.S. – whether bilaterally or multilaterally – and also put the present system of international law in serious danger.

Unlike the U.S., the Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its international obligations and sees the upholding of such commitments as a fundamental religious principle and an incontrovertible norm which underpins international law. So far, Iran’s fulfilment of all its commitments under the JCPOA has been verified by the only  internationally recognized authority, namely the International Atomic Energy Agency, and repeatedly acknowledged by all parties to the JCPOA, including the U.S. As such, unfounded claims and ludicrous propaganda shows have no value or credibility within the JCPOA, especially since the International Atomic Energy Agency, following the accusations made by Trump and his accomplices, has again reiterated that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the accord.

Iran, as a country that has remained committed to its legal obligations, will pursue the U.S. Government’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA as provided by the mechanisms and provisions of the accord, and if the U.S. withdrawal is not fully compensated and the full interests of the Iranian people are not met and guaranteed – as stated in the accord and as outlined by Iran’s Leader on 9 May  – it will exercise its legal right to take whatever reciprocal measures it deems expedient. Other parties to the JCPOA, and especially its three European signatories, must take necessary action to safeguard the accord and to implement their commitments – which they proved incapable of fully performing even while the U.S. was nominally a party to the deal, due to the obstructions by the Trump Administration – and to proceed from giving pledges to taking practical action without any preconditions.

None of the provisions or timeframes within the JCPOA, which were the subject of twelve years of negotiations, are negotiable in any manner. The U.S., which has through its meddling and erroneous policies ignited extremism, terrorism, destruction, war and child killing in our region, is in no position to issue any diktat about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s lawful presence within its own region nor its effective support for the peoples of Syria and Iraq in their endeavor to fight extremists. The U.S. and its allies, which through their support for the regime of Saddam Hussein, including equipping it with chemical weapons and the most advanced military equipment while blocking Iran’s access to any means of defense victimized the Iranian people for eight years, and currently turning our region into a powder keg through their sale of hundreds of billions of dollars of useless advanced weaponry  devouring the financial resources of the region, are in no position to impose restrictions on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s lawful means of defense, including defensive ballistic missiles which have been designed to carry conventional weapons based on the bitter experiences of the war with the regime of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, such efforts explicitly violate the principles of international law, and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s legitimate right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

 

As announced by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 8 May, the Foreign Minister has been tasked with the duty of taking the necessary measures to obtain required guarantees from the remaining parties to the JCPOA as well as Iran’s other economic partners, and to immediately report the results of this mission. Meanwhile, the President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has been tasked with taking all necessary steps in preparation for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions, using the results of the latest research and development of Iran’s brave nuclear scientists.

 

The people of Iran will with calm and confidence continue their path towards progress and development and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has foreseen all necessary measures to facilitate this under any circumstance.

 

The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a secure and powerful state, which derives its security and economic development from within, relying on the prudent participation and resilience of its brave and civilized people, seeks constructive and dignified engagement with the world, and as shown by its implementation of the JCPOA despite the United States’ continuous violations, is a trustworthy and committed partner for all who are prepared to cooperate on the basis of shared interests and mutual respect.


09:52 – 11/05/2018    /    Number : 514000    /    Show Count : 1177

Obama’s/Trump’s Syrian Kurds Guard Syrian Oil Assets Until Westerners Take Over

U.S. Builds Military Garrison At Largest Syrian Oil Field
The Battle for Palmyra, the Gem of Syrian Oil and Gas Industry
Syrian Oil Ministry Announces Huge Oil and Gas find offshore, the Next Day Obama Signs Ex. Order Freezing Syrian Assets
Rothschild’s Syria Oil Play
United States strongly helped Daesh in attempt to gain control over Syria’s oil
Today’s Drama Centers Around the Syrian Al-Tabiya Gas Field, 100 Syrian Soldiers Killed For Gas
Pentagon’s War Crimes Grow, They Just Laid Claim To Central Syria, Where Syria’s Oil Is

Syrian Kurds build on a ramshackle oil industry


This April 6, 2018 photo shows former farmer at a primitive refinery in a village controlled by a U.S-backed Kurdish group, in Rmeilan, Hassakeh province, Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

RMEILAN, Syria: Driving along the roads of northeastern Syria, one would imagine there is a massive economic boom in the war-ravaged area. Convoys of oil trucks, as many as 50 trucks in each, line the highways. They haul oil extracted from fields held by the Kurds, transporting it across the territory they control since driving out Daesh (ISIS).

But the oil industry is in shambles. After seven years of war, infrastructure is broken down and antiquated, there is no investment in the fields and the fight over control of oil resources is far from over.

Along the roads, old-style pump jacks bob up and down on wells. Kilometers away on the landscape, dark pillars of smoke rise from primitive, ramshackle refineries that look like giant piles of scrap metal. At one, workers covered in sludge operated burners to separate oil components. Large puddles of leaked crude dot the area.

The workers are locals, many of them farmers who can no longer earn a living from their fields. Kurdish authorities sell crude to private refiners, who then sell fuel and diesel back to them.

For maintenance, workers use spare parts that often date back to the ’60s, piled up in nearby warehouses. No new exploration is possible, so old wells are drying up, they say.

The Kurdish self-rule administration seized control of these oil fields in northeastern Hassakeh province after the government pulled out of most of the Kurdish-majority regions in 2012 to fight rebels elsewhere.

Abdel-Karim Malak, the Kurdish oil minister, said oil and gas are the self-rule administration’s main revenue source, though he wouldn’t divulge figures.

The Syrian government has vowed to eventually retake all the oil fields, but for the time being there is a quiet arrangement between it and the Kurds. Damascus buys much of the surplus oil that the Kurdish-run areas don’t use. Also, many employees of the government oil company have returned to work, still receiving their salaries from Damascus.

But the two sides have been in fierce competition further down the Euphrates River in Eastern Syria. Over the past months, the Kurds and government forces raced to capture Daesh territory, both aiming for the country’s biggest oil fields, in Deir al-Zor province.

The Kurds got there first, seizing the fields from Daesh. But they haven’t been able to operate them, because they are still battling Daesh remnants and have come under attack from government forces just across the Euphrates.

The Kurds eventually may try to keep oil fields or use them as a bargaining chip in negotiations. In the meantime, they are exploiting them as best they can.

Malak pointed to the lack of investment. Without modern refineries, “we are polluting the air here, we are polluting the environment,” he said. “But we are forced to do this.” If developed, he said, oil fields they control can produce more than half of Syria’s needs.

He said discussions with the Americans about future investment are ongoing, adding, “Our contracts will go to those who support us politically.”

Iran has another plan: a war of attrition that could be costly in human life to America and Israel

Is War at Hand Yet Again in the Middle East?

 

Hundreds of Protesters Wounded Amid Fresh Protests on Gaza-Israel Border

Rabat- Iran has probably lied about its nuclear program. But hasn’t Israel also?

It seems that the geographical name the Middle East is truly inappropriate for the region that has been unstable for over seven decades, experiencing many regional wars between Arabs and Israelis, between Iraqi Arabs and Americans, between Arabs and Iranians, and of course, Arab civil wars in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The region should probably be renamed the Warring East instead of the Middle East.

As a matter of fact, many Arab political analysts have tongue in cheek changed the name Middle East in Arabic (sharq al-awsat) into the humiliating name (sharq al-awsakh), meaning “the dirty east.”

The Middle East is, yet again, gearing up for another war, but this time it will probably be more destructive. A new war could last longer than protagonists’ plans on paper because, once ignited, nobody will be able to stop it unilaterally. The risks are very high and the gains are probably very low.

The drumbeat of war sounds again

On April 30, 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented to the Israeli people, and by extension to the world, what he called evidence that Iran is lying. The media exercise was well-orchestrated to come just before the American campaign to disengage from the nuclear agreement with Iran and to engage in a potential war with it afterwards. The war-to-be will  be waged by America, Israel and all Saudi Arabia-allied Arab Sunnis in the region.

The conclusion was foreshadowed by an article in the British paper The Guardian, February 23, 2015, titled Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad,” written masterfully by Seumas Milne, Ewen MacAskill and Clayton Swisher.

In the past, the Obama administration  was willing to give Iran a regional leadership role just short of becoming a nuclear power, but the current administration has other plans for the country: an Iran without nuclear capabilities and mullahs, a secular Iran that will not export its revolution or religion to neighboring countries and thereby threaten their stability.

The play within the play

In reality, Netanyahu did not come up with anything new; the whole world knows that Iran is working hard to become a nuclear power. It is no secret. It is an old dream that started with the Shah of Iran in the 1960s and continues today with open support from Russia, which wants to build an eastern coalition to counter American hegemony.

Nevertheless, it seems the coming war is fully scripted by Washington, and especially by the Trump administration. The main actors in the play are Trump himself in the leading role with Mohamed Ben Salman (MBS)  and Benjamin Netanyahu in support roles.

Since arriving in the Oval Office, Trump has been demonizing Iran and expressing willingness to pull the US out of the nuclear agreement. MBS, who recognized Israel’s statehood, joined Trump on stage to make the American-Israeli-Saudi alliance legitimate and official. In an interview with the Atlantic newsmagazine, he called the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Hitler, imitating President Bush’s actions before declaring war on Saddam’s Iraq. And last, but not least, Netanyahu who, “brought to light” Iran’s hidden game, appears on stage.

Now that every actor has pronounced his faith, action will probably ensue after the holy month of Ramadan. The war will be executed by America and Israel, but Saudi Arabia’s role will be to finance the effort (or, if you will, produce the play). What else can Saudi Arabia do, anyway?

Netanyahu’s speech and the previous actions of MBS in recognizing Israel and demonizing Iran is similar to “the play within the play” in Shakespeare’s  Hamlet. Hamlet’s instruction on proper delivery to the actors could be seen as Trump coaching Netanyahu and MBS.

How is the war going to unfold?

America and Israel are hoping to conduct an aerial war, short and sweet. They will bombard the strategic locations where the nuclear installations are and destroy military targets to cripple Iran’s potential to respond adequately in the initial stages of the military operation.  America and Israel are not planning to commit ground forces to avoid colossal troop losses. They are banking on crippling the enemy with a massive initial blow that will probably lead to a popular uprising in the major cities of Iran that will finish off the regime.

But Iran has another plan: a war of attrition that could be costly in human life to America and Israel, and an uprising of Shiites in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. Iran will wage a total war. Attacks will come from Syria and Lebanon where Hezbollah will play a major role. Indeed Hezbollah’s missiles will rain on northern Israel and aim to maximize casualties.

If America and Israel are planning on a short war, Iran is planning a long and costly attrition war, which will reduce the Middle East to an inferno for a long period of time. There will be no navigation of the Persian Sea, no security in the air and no peace on land.

Iran’s strengths are:

1- Geographical depth

2- Shiite sense of sacrifice

3- Religious fervor and discipline

4- Military discipline and combat-readiness

Iran’s weaknesses are:

1- Aerial power weakness

2- Land encirclement

3- Lack of active alliances

Iranians are planning to wreak havoc on the Arab world, whom they suspect to be aligned with America and Israel. The Iranians will activate their dormant cells in the Arab world, and probably also in the West, to punish those who support the war. If Iran  has to go down the drain, they will incur as much damage as possible a la après moi le deluge.

Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of Foreign Policy and senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy and Energy Security and Climate Initiative, wrote in an article titled “After dumping the nuclear deal, Trump has no strategy for Iran” in Brookings:

“The premeditated American dismantling of an agreement that was the product of more than a decade of intense diplomacy and economic pressure marks a staggeringly counterproductive step. That it was undertaken over the vocal objections of Washington’s closest allies and without a clear strategy of mitigating the newly heightened risks of Iranian proliferation and conventional retaliation represents an abdication of American leadership on the international stage that is unparalleled in recent history.”

Expectations

The war might be destructive for Iran but that alone will not end the regime of the mullahs because they can rely on the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij to protect them from any internal uprising. So, the onslaught might diminish the mullahs’ power but it will not put an end to the theocracy at the country’s helm.

However, a weak Iran in the Middle East will be good news for Israel and its Arab allies, because it will lead to the probable downfall of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Alawites in Syria and the Houthis  in Yemen, ultimately destroying the Shiite Crescent in the Middle East and ending Iran’s expansionist dreams once and for all.

Consequently,  Israel will come out of the painful war as the only power in the region and even as a co-protector of Arab countries alongside America. The demise of Iran will foretell the demise of Hamas in Gaza, and Abbas will take over the strip and sign, under gentle pressure, a peace agreement  with Israel. Saudi Arabia will regain its leadership of the Muslim world, but will be totally broken.

All in all, if everyone plays his cards right, Israel will probably pay the biggest price in human casualties but will undoubtedly win big, destroying Hamas, reining in Abbas and emasculating the Arabs, gaining peace in the Middle East and a huge market for its exports.

A make-believe scenario

America, Israel and Saudi Arabia are probably heading to war for fear of destabilizing a region that already has so many problems: the Palestinian problem, the Syrian conflict, the Yemeni war, etc. What if these three countries are only putting pressure on Iran to make it abandon its nuclear program entirely, without firing a single shot?

These countries are attempting to create a North Korean scenario, whereby the Americans used tremendous pressure on North Korea to make it accept talks, first with South Korea, and later with the US, in order to arrange future denuclearization.

Will such pressure bring the mullahs to their senses and make them abandon their threats towards Israel and destabilization schemes vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and the Sunni world?

The mullahs have always been practical and sensible in politics, and chances are they will choose moderation and negotiation to avoid annihilation. If they do so, Trump will have won a political gamble, adding to his apparent present success on the Korean peninsula. These two political breakthroughs will probably ensure his reelection against the odds and will prove him right by making America great again.

The war on Iran will, probably, be costly as all wars are anyway, but in the end it will probably be worthwhile if it brings peace to the region and a new era of much-needed cooperation and goodwill.

Will the war, if it ever happens, bring democracy to the Arab world, at long last? Or will Arabs continue to prefer bread over a political system of representation and full accountability? It is difficult to see the outcome because the horizon is very hazy. Only time can tell.

You can follow Professor Mohamed Chtatou on Twitter:@Ayurinu

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.

Which side lies about Israel’s May 9th missiles-invasion of Syria?

Which side lies about Israel’s May 9th missiles-invasion of Syria?

Eric Zuesse

 

By

On the night of May 9th, Ynetnews, which is the online English-language website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-widely read newspaper, headlined an “Analysis” article, “A Preemptive Strike in Syria” and opened:

Even if Iran had no intention of launching missiles at Israel on Tuesday, the alleged Israeli strike came along and conveyed the following message to the Iranians: You raised the likelihood of an attack on Israel, so we’re raising the threat level, despite the tensions.

Their reporter said that the issue now would be, “We’re waiting to see what the Iranians will do: Will they continue the preparations for an attack” or stand down?

Also late on May 9th, Russian Television bannered, “Israel Launches Massive Missile Strikes in Syria” and opened:

Syrian air defenses have been deployed to thwart an attack by the Israeli rockets, Syria’s state SANA news agency reported. The bombing is reportedly being carried out by Israeli warplanes from Lebanese airspace. …

SANA has released footage of Syrian air defense systems responding to incoming missiles.

The Israeli strikes are seen as a continued retaliation to what Israel claims were some 20 rockets launched by Iran’s Quds Force from Syrian territory into the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights earlier in the night. The Israel Defense Forces said its Iron Dome systems intercepted some of the projectiles and the reported attack resulted in no injuries.

Also late on May 9th, the New York Times reported that,

A missile strike, apparently by Israel, south of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Tuesday

[May 8th], an hour after Mr. Trump’s announcement about the nuclear deal, killed 15 people, at least eight of them Iranians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

That strike, on the area of Al Kiswa, targeted facilities for the Syrian military and their Iranian allies. Israeli news media said that one of the targets was a convoy of missiles taken out of storage and heading to a launching site, and that the strike was pre-emptive.

That alleged Israeli “missile strike” against Damascus on Tuesday — which Israel did not deny — could have been the provocation for the alleged retaliation against Israel by Iranians in Syria late on Wednesday May 9th, which could have provoked Israel’s claimed “massive” missiles-retaliation soon thereafter.

The following day, May 10th, the BBC reported that, “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, confirmed that rockets were fired towards the occupied Golan. But it said the attack came after Israeli forces bombarded Baath, a town in the demilitarised zone.”

Also on May 10th, the Times of Israel newspaper bannered “Iranian military official denies firing rockets at Israel” and reported that Iran’s Government said it didn’t know anything about any missiles that might have been fired from Syrian territory into any Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights. Presumably if that rocket-firing had actually happened, Iran’s Government would have known about it, but they said they knew nothing about any such thing.

Also on May 10th, CNN reported, “Israel said more than 20 rockets were launched by Iranian forces in Syria in the direction of Israel late Wednesday, often criss-crossing in the clear night skies.” This allegation suggests that, if, as Israel alleged, 20 Iranian rockets were being fired from Syria into the Golan Heights on the night of May 9th, then simultaneously the Syrian anti-missiles were being fired against Israel’s missiles that were attacking Syria. In that scenario, during at least a portion of those exchanges, simultaneously both Syria’s anti-missiles and Israel’s (“Golden Dome”) anti-missiles would have been firing, in opposite directions.

However, as of yet, no evidence has been presented by Israel that any attack from Syria against any Israeli facility on the Golan happened. Israel says that it happened and that this alleged Iranian missiles-hit against an Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights caused Israel’s massive missiles-attack against Syria on May 9th.

So, thus far, that alleged Iranian hit by 20 missiles against Israel on the Golan is a ghost attack, which Israel cites to justify its massive ‘response’ — which no one disputes. Was it instead simply Israel’s unprovoked provocation, Israel’s sudden and unannounced and unjustified missiles-invasion against Syria, late on May 9th? Syria’s Government claims to have fired anti-missiles against the incoming Israeli missiles, but nothing else.

Neither side is yet presenting key evidence regarding which side fired first, and which side was the actual aggressor. Are both sides lying? However, during what seems to have been the beginning of the missile-exchanges, Israel’s leading newspaper did run the headline “A Preemptive Strike in Syria”. “Preemptive” means like George W.Bush’s 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq was. That Israeli newspaper believes in ‘preemptive’ invasion now, and so did Americans believe in it in 2003. Today’s Israelis seem to be like Americans were in 2003 — and during America’s invasion of Libya in 2011, and invasion of Syria in 2012-, and invasion of Yemen in 2015-.

Momentous, Potentially Catastrophic Upcoming Weekend In Palestine–Remember the Nakba

Embassies, Nakba, Ramadan: All You Need to Know About Israel’s Roller-coaster Week

Now that the shooting has subsided with Iran in Syria, the focus is on a possible mass storming of the Gaza border on Nakba Day, just hours after the United States moves its embassy to Jerusalem

 

Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians.
Israeli firefighters try to extinguish a fire near Gaza on May 8, 2018 after it was caused by incendiaries tied to kites flown by Palestinians. Menahem Kahana / AFP

Israelis are no strangers to short stretches packed with historic and transformative events. But even for a country that has experienced turbulent times, the potential highs and lows of the upcoming week feel unprecedented.

Much of what will happen has been planned carefully, though surely no one behind the planning expected that the festivities and commemorations would follow the first significant exchanges of fire across the Syrian border in 40 years — which also marked the first military aggression on Israel directly attributable to Iran.

The drama on Israel’s border has yet to play out fully — neither has the previous week’s figurative bombshell — President Donald Trump’s announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and the reestablishment of economic sanctions.

The next chapter in this eventful week — and month — begins when the Jewish Sabbath ends Saturday evening and continues through Sunday: Jerusalem Day, the holiday marking the victory in the 1967 Six-Day War in which Israel gained territory including the Old City of Jerusalem and the rest of East Jerusalem.

Increasingly, Jerusalem Day events have become a rallying point for the religious-Zionist community. In the Flag March, thousands pass through the Old City, entering from the Damascus Gate and Jaffa Gate and gathering at the Western Wall. The growth of the event has been accompanied by unrest between the marchers and Palestinian residents of the Old City, including racist chants and physical harassment by the marchers as well as stone-throwing and scuffling between the two sides.

Last year’s event drew a record 60,000 participants — as well as hundreds of leftist activists and Palestinians who clashed with marchers and whose demonstration was violently dispersed by the police.

On Sunday evening, Jerusalem Day will transition into the celebration of the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The guest list for the Foreign Ministry reception includes Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other U.S. officials.

Israeli attendees will include the cabinet, the heads of Knesset committees, members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and members of the governing coalition. Also on hand will be some 30 foreign diplomats — out of 86 who were invited. Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy there drew sharp criticism from the Arab world and U.S. allies, who said the unilateral step could spark violence and damage peace prospects.

Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy.
Men gather at the Western Wall on May 11, 2018 after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and to celebrate the moving of the embassy. Thomas Coex / AFP

Peace Now prepares

The embassy move is slated for Monday at 4 P.M. Israel time; 800 guests received gold-edged invitations from U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and his wife Tammy. The event marks the relocation of a limited number of offices from the Tel Aviv embassy, including Friedman’s office. The event will be attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Ivanka Trump, Kushner and Mnuchin. Other attendees include Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, and members of Congress.

At least one major demonstration is expected. Peace Now plans to gather outside the dedication ceremony for the new embassy, protesting the move and warning that it may harm Israeli security and chances for peace, given that the Palestinians want their future capital in Jerusalem as well.

On Tuesday, Nakba Day events begin. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe; the Palestinians mark Nakba Day every year on May 15 — Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948. The embassy move was deliberately set for this 70th anniversary. Israel celebrates its Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, so its festivities took place on April 18, leaving May 14 free for the embassy fest.

For Palestinians, Nakba Day is a day of mourning and anger, lamenting the more than 700,000 Arabs who fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1947-49 war. Nakba Day commemorations locally and internationally often call for a full return of the refugees, and in some cases, Israel’s destruction.

Hamas threatens the border

Events are scheduled to take place across the West Bank and Israel itself, including a large march in Nablus, several events in Ramallah and a ceremony in front of Tel Aviv University. But this year the spotlight will be on Gaza, where Hamas’ leaders have threatened a mass storming of the border to destroy the border fence, symbolizing the suffering in Gaza and the Palestinian refugees’ claim to a right of return to Israel. Israel is bracing for a mass event that day that could lead to more deaths; more than 40 people have been killed in clashes with the Israeli army since March 30.

The announcement in February that the United States had chosen the day before Nakba Day for the embassy move angered Palestinians.

A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.
A demonstrator uses a racket to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops at the border in southern Gaza, May 11, 2018.Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

“They deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, the Nakba, as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury,” tweeted a Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, when the date was first announced. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has said it would “provoke the feelings of the Palestinian people, as well as of all Arabs, Muslims and Christians around the globe.”

As if the scheduling weren’t potentially explosive enough, the evening of Nakba Day — Tuesday — also marks the beginning of the month-long observance of Ramadan, when Muslims embark on a month of intense prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting and nightly feasts. In recent years, encouraged by calls from the Islamic State to show devotion to religion through violent action, Ramadan has seen an increase in Islamist-inspired terrorist incidents around the world.

Last year’s Ramadan, while starting peacefully in Israel and the West Bank, was marred by an attack that killed a woman in the Border Police, Hadas Malka, and wounded a number of others. Israel then revoked permits letting Palestinians visit Israel for the holiday. Normally, during the month-long observance, Israel gives thousands of Palestinians special permission to enter Israel to visit family on weekdays, allowing them greater access to the Temple Mount.

Finally, following Nakba Day, there will be another embassy move to mark. Although technically Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem’s Malha Technology Park last week, the ceremony celebrating the event is set for Wednesday — two days after the U.S. ceremony. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is expected to be on hand.

Paraguay also announced plans last week to move its embassy to Jerusalem. President Horacio Cartes will attend the ceremony, which the country says will take place by the end of May — though presumably not during the already action-packed upcoming week.