zaterdag 9 augustus 2008

Na 5 jaar begint rechtzaak Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury in Bangladesh

Over Choudhury hebben we al vaker bericht, o.a. bij een oproep om brieven te schrijven. In strijd met de Bengaalse wet heeft hij geprobeerd Israël te bezoeken, maar men probeert hem ook opruiing en zelfs landverraad aan te wrijven. Hij waarschuwde in zijn blad herhaaldelijk tegen islamitisch extremisme in Bangladesh en pleitte voor vriendschappelijke betrekkingen met Israël.

Pro-Israel editor goes on trial in Bangladesh
by Michael Freund
Aug. 8, 2008 - The Jerusalem Post

After repeated delays, the trial of a Bangladeshi Muslim editor arrested for advocating ties with Israel began in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of the Weekly Blitz, an English-language newspaper published in the Bangladeshi capital, is facing a series of charges that include sedition.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.

In November 2003, Choudhury was arrested at Dhaka's international airport just prior to boarding a flight on his way to Israel, where he was scheduled to deliver an address on promoting understanding between Muslims and Jews. His visit to Israel would have been the first by a Bangladeshi journalist.

Bangladesh does not recognize Israel's existence.

Since his arrest, Choudhury has been subjected to various forms of intimidation and harassment. Two years ago, the offices of his newspaper were the target of an attempted bombing by unknown assailants.

In the first day of testimony this week, the prosecution called Abdul Hanif, the officer in charge at the airport when Choudhury was detained.

Hanif accused Choudhury of being anti-Islamic, and said that he had "praised Jews and Christians" and defamed Bangladesh. The hearings were then adjourned.

Contacted by The Jerusalem Post, a spokeswoman for the Bangladeshi Mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the case, saying she was not familiar with the details.

Dr. Richard Benkin, an American Jewish activist who has been leading the fight on Choudhury's behalf, told the Post that while he was clearly concerned about the trial, he nonetheless remains cautiously optimistic.

"The judge conducted himself in a judicially correct and professional manner today, something we never experienced under the previous government which initiated these charges," Benkin said.

In a message sent to his supporters abroad after the conclusion of the first day of hearings, Choudhury remained upbeat, declaring: "Now my luck hangs in the balance of being either acquitted from the charges by the court or accorded capital punishment."

"But let us remain strong. Pray for me, for God is with us and we shall win," he said.

Al-Jazeera geeft toe dat berichtgeving over Kuntar journalistieke code overtrad

Misschien moet Israël vaker met een boycot dreigen om haar klachten kracht bij te zetten. Onafhankelijke en professionele media moeten ongehinderd kunnen berichten, maar Israël heeft er geen belang bij mee te werken aan propaganda voor Hezbollah of Hamas.

Last update - 17:00 07/08/2008
VIDEO / Al-Jazeera admits to 'unethical' behavior over Kuntar party
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
The Al Jazeera television station admitted Wednesday that its coverage of Israel's release of convicted Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar violated the station's own code of ethics. The admission came in response to a threat by Israel's Government Press Office to boycott the satellite channel unless it apologized.

In an official letter, a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz, Al Jazeera's director general, Khanfar Wadah, wrote that "elements of the program" broadcast in Kuntar's honor on the night of Saturday, July 19, "violated [the station's] Code of Ethics," and he "regards these violations as very serious."

He also said he had ordered the channel's programming director to take steps to ensure that such an incident does not recur.

The boycott threat was issued by the director of the GPO, Danny Seaman, in response to a program broadcast from Lebanon that covered the welcome-home festivities for Kuntar. In it, the head of Al Jazeera's Beirut office, Ghassan bin Jiddo, heaped praises on Kuntar, for instance by calling him a "pan-Arab hero."

Kuntar was convicted of the murder of four Israelis, including two children, during a terrorist attack in Nahariya in 1979. He was released last month as part of a deal with Hezbollah. In exchange, Israel received the bodies of kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Bin Jiddo is known to be sympathetic to Hezbollah, and he was even awarded Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's first interview of the Second Lebanon War. A few weeks ago, he was interviewed on a Syrian television station and said that he would never agree to interview Israelis, even though he knows that Al Jazeera's official policy is to interview Israelis.

This is not the first time Israel has protested Al Jazeera's coverage, but for its protests to result in an apology is unusual.

Er komt geen vrede zonder Palestijnse democratie

De miljarden die de internationale gemeenschap pompt in de Palestijnse Autoriteit hebben alleen effect als ook de 'civil society' wordt opgebouwd, er aan democratie en mensenrechten en een fatoenlijk juridisch systeem wordt gewerkt - en de corruptie, die overigens ook bij Hamas voorkomt, wordt bestreden. De onvoorwaardelijke steun voor een persoon - vroeger Arafat, nu Abbas - was mede de oorzaak van het mislukken van het Oslo vredesproces, en deze fout wordt momenteel herhaald. Dit betogen Nathan Sharansky, dissident uit de voormalige Sovjet-Unie, en Bassem Eid, hoofd van een Palestijnse mensenrechtenorganisatie. De volgende klacht legt de dubbele staandaard bloot waar het de mensenrechten betreft: 
When one of us [Bassem Eid] worked for Israel's Betselem cataloging Israel's human-rights violations, the international community embraced every report. But when intellectual honesty demanded that he monitor Palestinian human-rights violations according to the same standards, no one was interested. Those reports were dismissed as undermining the Palestinian leaders -- first Arafat and now Mr. Abbas -- who would make peace with Israel.
Dit is niet alleen onfair ten opzichte van Israël, maar staat vrede en de ontwikkeling van een democratische Palestijnse samenleving in de weg.

There Won't Be 'Peace' Without Democracy

August 8, 2008; Page A13


A tragic peace process turned to farce last weekend. After bloody clashes between Hamas and Fatah loyalists in the Gaza strip killed 11 Palestinians and injured 120 more, nearly 200 Palestinians associated with Fatah sought asylum in Israel. Some have been transferred to the West Bank cities of Jericho and Ramallah, where they are now under the jurisdiction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Dozens more who were considered unwelcome by Mr. Abbas's office were anxiously awaiting possible deportation back to Gaza. The only thing that saved them from this fate was an appeal by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent the government from sending the Fatah refugees back to Gaza.

The irony of the present situation boggles the mind. In 1993, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin defended the Oslo accords he signed with Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization to a somewhat skeptical Israeli public by arguing that Arafat would fight Hamas much better than Israel, since he had "no Supreme Court and no Betselem" (an Israeli human-rights organization).

Oslo proponents believed a strong Arafat, unconstrained by the inherent checks of democratic rule, would be able to fight Hamas and forge a final peace with Israel. A weak Palestinian democracy, the logic went, actually served the interest of peace by creating a stronger peace partner.

Yet 15 years later, another Israeli human-rights organization successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to save the remnants of Israel's erstwhile peace partners from being deported back into the murderous hands of Hamas. In other words, a peace process that undermined Palestinian democracy created a "peace partner" so hated by its own people that the Israeli Army must now protect them.

Israel, America and the free world share much of the blame for this fiasco. As Arafat and his Fatah party were busy hollowing out Palestinian civil society and turning control of the Palestinian economy over to corrupt cronies, the world showered them with money and diplomatic support. Hundreds of millions of dollars were transferred to Arafat's private slush fund so that he could "strengthen" his standing among the Palestinians.

But the corrupt dictatorship he built would win him and his party only the lasting scorn of his people. The Hamas victory two years ago in the Palestinian legislative elections was as much about Fatah's misrule as it was about a resurgent Islamism, or Israel's short-sighted disengagement from Gaza. Rather than link this concession to a positive change on the Palestinian side -- such as, for example, dismantling refugee camps where a fourth generation of Palestinian still shamefully reside -- Israel's unilateral concession further empowered extremists.

Last November's Annapolis "peace" conference continued this misguided approach. Once again the focus is primarily on who is ruling and not on how they rule. Mr. Abbas has replaced Arafat as the recipient of international largess, but the emphasis remains on empowering a particular leader, rather than empowering Palestinian civil society and creating democratic institutions.

Palestinians have suffered greatly for this neglect of democracy. Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, internecine violence has reached unprecedented heights. According to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, the death toll includes: 122 killed in the streets (suspected collaborators), 41 by capital punishment, 34 honor killings, 48 stabbed to death, seven beaten to death, 258 killed under mysterious circumstances and 818 cases of gunfire. So far no one has been charged let alone tried for any of these unlawful killings.

Where is the money that was supposedly spent on reforming the judicial system? Where is the international outrage as Palestinian leaders drag their own society further into the abyss?

When one of us [Bassem Eid] worked for Israel's Betselem cataloging Israel's human-rights violations, the international community embraced every report. But when intellectual honesty demanded that he monitor Palestinian human-rights violations according to the same standards, no one was interested. Those reports were dismissed as undermining the Palestinian leaders -- first Arafat and now Mr. Abbas -- who would make peace with Israel.

If Israelis and Palestinians are to pave a path toward peace, they must pursue a radically different course. The peace process must be linked to building and strengthening Palestinian civil society. In June 2002, President Bush boldly declared a vision based on such a course and took some steps to implement it -- such as refusing to deal with corrupt leaders (Arafat), and meeting Palestinian democratic dissidents. But in the final analysis, his administration did not fundamentally change direction. It is now pursuing a course that essentially resuscitates the failed policies of the past.

It is high time that Palestinian civil society be fully recognized by the international community as a prerequisite to peace, not as an obstacle to it. If Palestinian civil society is not empowered, the Fatah-controlled West Bank may soon be ruled by Hamas, and Fatah leaders there may find themselves one day having to rely on Israel's Supreme Court to save them.


Mr. Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician, is chairman of the Adelson Institute of Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. Mr. Eid is the founder of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, based in East Jerusalem, and has been its director since 1996.


Aanklacht in Ni'ilin incident met Palestijnse arrestant

Zo hoort het; hopelijk gaat het zo ook als er niet zoveel publiciteit voor een incident is.

August 7th, 2008
IDF Spokespersons Office

Indictments Served Against Participants in Ni'ilin Incident

Today, Thursday, August 7, 2008, an indictment was served against Lt. Col. Omri Borberg and Staff Sgt. L. in military court, following the incident in which a rubber bullet was used against a Palestinian detainee near Ni'lin.

The Investigative Military Police handled the case, and the results were also thoroughly examined by the military advocacy.  Following the examination, the Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, conducted hearings with Lt. Col. Borberg's and Staff Sgt. L.'s representatives.

The Military Advocate General determined that said incident reflects a severe moral failure of command, and requires that both, the officer and the soldier involved, will be tried in a military court, since an internal disciplinary trial will not be sufficient.

Since said incident is a severe case, Brig. Gen. Mendelblit considered the decision of the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, to reassign the battalion commander, effective immediately, which is significant action in itself.

Deriving from the general findings of the case, while also bearing in mind the significant actions already taken, the Military Advocate General decided to charge the participants with the offence of "unworthy conduct."

This decision is in accordance with the Israeli Supreme Court ruling, in which it was decided that that IDF command sanctions, which is a unique form of sanctioning, are sometimes more severe then their corresponding criminal sanctions.

It is also worth considering that significant actions have already been taken following the incident, and the heavy consequences that the defendants already bear.

The trial is expected to begin in the near future.

vrijdag 8 augustus 2008

Doe-het-zelf winkelketen in Israël discrimineert op etniciteit

Oké, we kunnen het niet langer ontkennen: in Israël wordt vet gediscrimineerd op basis van etniciteit!

Now at Home Center: Discounts for Arabs only
Customer accidentally stumbles upon secret 'minority discount' offered by Israeli home goods chain. 'I tried to think what would happen if it was a discount for Jews only,' he wonders
Roni Lipshitz YNET Published: 08.07.08, 19:43,7340,L-3579400,00.html

Ynet has learned that Home Center, a popular home wares chain that operates throughout Israel, has been offering preferential treatment to the Arab sector via special discounts they alone are eligible for, regardless of whether the store is situated in a mostly Jewish city.

Home Center customer Eli Chai arrived at his local branch at the Renanim Mall in Ra'anana last Tuesday, with the intent of buying a power drill, several tools and a number of other products. As the cashier began scanning his purchases at the checkout line, Chai noted that before passing each product the register computer would ask the cashier 'Minority Discount.' The cashier, said Chai, clicked 'no' and continued scanning the goods.

"I wasn't sure I had really seen what I thought I had," Chai recounted, "it was strange, I hadn't encountered anything like it before. I wanted to make sure, so I asked the cashier what the discount was, and why he was not giving it to me.

"He insisted that it wasn't a discount. But I said, cancel the purchase and scan it again. So he relented and said, 'It's a discount only for minorities'."

Chai claimed that, to his understanding, the chain offers a 10% discount on specific products for people belonging to a certain minority.

"I asked him what it meant, and he said, 'a discount only for Arabs'. I said, 'What do you mean, if I was Arab you would give me a discount?' He said yes. Definitively. It was really strange. I decided not to argue and to forgo the discount, so I paid full price for the products I had purchased.

"I didn't expect to get a discount, but I was appalled when I realized that had I been Arab I would have received one. I tried to think what would happen if it was a discount only for Jews, or Sephardim, or Ashkenazim," he concluded.

Home Center responded by stating that the controversial discount is company policy. "Home Center offers a wide range of attractive discounts throughout the year. As part of a plan to target specific communities, the chain offers different discounts for different sectors from time to time," the statement said.

Following Ynet's report, members of the far-right National Jewish Front - Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel - addressed an urgent letter to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and to State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, in which they demanded that an investigation be launched against Home Center on the grounds that the discount constitutes discrimination, and is therefore unlawful.

Geen gebaren van goede wil meer

Miki Goldwasser, de moeder van de door Hezbollah ontvoerde en gedode soldaat Ehud Goldwasser, speelt Hamas in de kaart door wel onderhandelingen over de vrijlating van Shalit te bepleiten (en zij weet ook wat de prijs daarvoor is - de vrijlating van honderden, waarschijnlijk zelfs 1.000 Palestijnse gevangenen, velen met bloed aan hun handen), maar de vrijlating van gevangenen als gebaar van goede wil tegenover Abbas af te wijzen.
Hamas heeft al gedreigd met overname van de Westoever zoals men vorig jaar in Gaza heeft gedaan, en de vrijlating van al die gevangenen in ruil voor Shalit zal de beweging zowel moreel als fysiek een enorme boost geven.
Goldwasser heeft gelijk dat Israël wat terug mag vragen voor wat men Abbas geeft, maar Hamas dient helemaal niets te krijgen. Er kan één op één geruild worden en anders niet.

No more gestures
Instead of releasing more prisoners, we need to get something for a change
Miki Goldwasser

08.07.08, 10:21

On Wednesday I met with Noam Shalit, the father of abducted IDF soldier Gilad. Yet the very same day, we heard about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' delusional request to our prime minister: As a goodwill gesture, Abbas asked that Israel release 150 prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Saadat, the man who planned Minister Rehavam Ze'evi's assassination.
A gesture for what? I was crying after I heard it. The grave of my son is still fresh. The pain is terrible. Yet despite this, I cannot but think all the time about Aviva Shalit, Gilad's mother, who needs to cope with oh-so-humanitarian Israeli gestures while her own son is held in cellars of horror.
Does PM Olmert also have Aviva Shalit on his mind? I hope that our own people will make it clear to our prime minister that we cannot make any more gestures. No more. We too want gestures.
For example, we want negotiations on Gilad Shalit's release to be accelerated. For example, we want Gilad to be handed over to the Egyptians. For example, we want Gilad to be granted the basic humanitarian right of Red Cross visits. Don't we deserve it?
We have made plenty of gestures already. Sick Gazans receive medical treatment in Israel, and Israeli doctors have been saving lives in Gaza without asking whose children they are saving. The children of Hamas men have also been treated. Yet somehow we do not get any gestures.
Therefore, Mr. Olmert, I hope that you come back to your senses and realize that even goodwill gestures must secure something in exchange. And if Mahmoud Abbas cannot give us Gilad Shalit in exchange for those gestures, then make no more gestures, Mr. Olmert.
Gilad Shalit comes first; only then you can think about Mahmoud Abbas.
Miki Goldwasser is the mother of fallen IDF reserve soldier Ehud Goldwasser

Irans kernwapenprogramma

Ondertussen hebben verschillende Europese landen onlangs weer uitgebreide handelscontracten met Iran afgesloten. Welk signaal krijgt het land op deze manier?

August 6, 2008


By Yitzhak Santis
Director, JCRC  Middle East Project

In July the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France and England) plus Germany held a multi-lateral parley on Iran's nuclear program at which Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was present.  An offer was made to Iran that if it halts its nuclear activity these powers would refrain from moving to impose more U.N. penalties.   Iran was given a two week deadline to respond.  When Iran's response came at the end of the deadline, Iran "again ignored calls to give a final answer to a package presented by world powers to end the nuclear standoff."[1]
Now, the permanent five Security Council members plus Germany have "agreed to seek new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program after the country failed to meet a weekend deadline to respond to an offer intended to defuse the dispute."[2]  
The prospect of the Islamic Republic of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and obtaining the ability to launch missiles against countries throughout the Middle East and even Europe has alarmed the international community. [3]  
The fear is Iran wants to "develop either a nuclear bomb or the ability to make one, even if it has not decided to build one right now."  Therefore, a consensus has emerged in the international community calling for Iran to stop all enrichment because the "same technology used for producing fuel for nuclear power can be used to enrich the uranium to a much higher level for producing fuel for a nuclear explosion."[4]
According to this international consensus, if Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, this will shift the balance of power in the Middle East, specifically in the oil-rich Gulf region, thereby dangerously destabilizing world oil markets.  Further, a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to Middle Eastern stability that could provoke a perilous nuclear arms race throughout the region.  
Indeed, in response to Shi'ite Persian Iran's development of nuclear weapons predominantly Sunni Muslim Arab states - specifically Saudi Arabia, [5] Egypt,[6] and Jordan[7] - have already voiced grave concern and declared that they, too, may begin their own nuclear programs.
A nuclear-armed Iran will also negatively impact prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians given Iran's strong military, financial and political support for the radical Islamist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, which both reject making any kind of peace with Israel.  Iran-sponsored terrorist networks, particularly Hezbollah, have a long history of targeting Americans and U.S. interests.  In 1983, with Iranian support, Hezbollah killed 241 Marines as they slept in their barracks in Lebanon. 
In the last several years, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has manifested increasingly threatening behavior and rhetoric toward the United States, other Western powers, Israel and the Jewish people.  Not only has Ahmadinejad repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map,[8] but his government, demonstrating its extremist character, convened in December 2006 an international Holocaust denial conference in Teheran, and staged a "Holocaust Cartoon Contest."[9]  
The National Intelligence Estimate
While there is consensus in the international community that Iran's intent is to acquire the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, there is disagreement, however, among various nations' intelligence agencies regarding the pace of nuclear weapons development.  
For instance, American intelligence agencies issued their now famous National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007 which states "with high confidence" that in 2003 Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program," but also stated that Iran "at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons" and most importantly that, "Because of intelligence gaps DOE and the NIC assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program."  The NIE also assesses that "Iran probably would use covert facilities- rather than its declared nuclear sites-for the production of highly enriched uranium for a weapon." [10]
Challenging the NIE: British and Israeli Intelligence
Other intelligence services, notably the British and Israeli, arrive at differing conclusions.  The Sunday Telegraph (UK), for instance, reports that: 
A senior British official delivered a withering assessment of US intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East and revealed that British spies shared the concerns of Israeli defense chiefs that Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons. "It's not as if the American intelligence agencies are regarded as brilliant performers in that region. They got badly burned over Iraq." [11]

More recently, the Daily Telegraph (UK), reported that Iran has resumed work on constructing highly sophisticated equipment that nuclear experts say is primarily used for building atomic weapons, according to the latest intelligence reports received by Western diplomats. 
The work is aimed at developing the blueprint provided by Dr A. Q. Khan, the "father" of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, who sold Iran details of how to build atom bombs in the early 1990s.  
Iran's Revolutionary Guard, which has overall responsibility for the country's nuclear program, has set up several civilian companies to work on the program whose activities are being deliberately concealed from the United Nations nuclear inspection teams.[12] 
Specifically, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report of May 26, 2008 "shows continued non-compliance" with UN Security Council resolutions 1737, 1747[13], and 1803 and "includes two important findings. The first is that Iran is making significant progress on developing and operating its centrifuges. The second is Iran's lack of cooperation with inspectors in addressing its alleged nuclear weapons-related work, which the IAEA calls a 'matter of serious concern.'"[14] 
Peter D. Zimmerman, a nuclear physicist and emeritus professor of science and security at King's College London, wrote in the Boston Globe[15] that the IAEA May 26, 2008 report states that Teheran refuses to answer specific questions.  Among these queries are:
a.. Why is Iran using high explosives to implode a hemispherical shell of heavy metal? The only known use for such tests is to perfect a lightweight nuclear bomb.

b.. Why is Iran developing the kinds of detonators needed in an atomic weapon?

c.. Why is Iran designing, or redesigning, a ballistic missile warhead so that it can contain a nuclear weapon
Furthermore, Zimmerman notes that, Iran announced months ago that it is installing 6,000 centrifuges in its uranium enrichment plant, in addition to the 3,000 in operation. These activities increase Iran's near-term ability to make nuclear weapons, especially since the new ones have twice the capacity of the originals.
Local Action Taken by JCRC: The California Public Divest from Iran Act
JCRC was one of the principle parties involved in successfully lobbying the California Legislature on the California Public Divest from Iran Act (AB 221), which unanimously passed the State Assembly on September 10th 2007 after already being unanimously passed by the State Senate the week before.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law on October 14, 2007, making California the third state in the country to pass such legislation.  
Introduced by Assemblyman Joel Anderson, AB 221 prohibits the state's public pension funds from investing in companies with business ties to Iran's petroleum, natural gas, nuclear, or defense sectors.  Depriving Iran of investment in these sectors of their economy will send a clear message to Tehran that they must give up their nuclear weapons program.

[1] AFP, "Iran again fails to give final nuclear reply," August 5, 2008
[2] Jerusalem Post, "Iran's response to incentives package sidesteps key issues," August 5, 2008
[3] "Q&A: Iran and the nuclear issue," BBC, (Retrieved Sept. 17, 2007)
[4] Ibid.
[5] "Saudis consider nuclear bomb," The Guardian, September 18, 2003 (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[6] "Egypt unveils nuclear power plan," BBC, September 25, 2006 (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[7] "King Abdullah to Haaretz: Jordan aims to develop nuclear power," Haaretz, January 20, 2008 (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[8] "'As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,' said Ahmadinejad, referring to the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini." Quoted in "Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map," Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Oct 26, 2005,
[9] "Iran displays Holocaust cartoons," BBC, August 15, 2007 (Retrieved July 18, 2008)
[10] "National Intelligence Estimate: Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities," National Intelligence Council, November 2007
[11] "Iran 'hoodwinked' CIA over nuclear plans," Sunday Telegraph, December 10, 2007
[12] Daily Telegraph, "Iran has resumed A-bomb project, says West," July 7, 2008,-says-West.html (Retrieved August 5, 2008)
[13] UNSC Resolution 1747, for instance, "deploring that, as indicated therein, Iran has failed to comply" with previous resolutions call therefore calls for sanctions against Iran by all member states and international financial institutions by refusing to "enter into new commitments for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes."
[14] See "May 26, 2008 IAEA Safeguards Report on Iran: Centrifuge Operation Improving and Cooperation Lacking on Weaponization Issues," by David Albright, Jacqueline Shire, and Paul Brannan, Institute for Science and International Security, May 29, 2008
[15] "Time for Iran to face more sanctions," by Peter D. Zimmerman, professor of science and security at King's College London and the former chief scientist of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Boston Globe, July 6, 2007,

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Palestijnse studenten uit Gaza strook: VS blundert (Ami Isseroff)

De VS is niet altijd een trouwe bondgenoot voor Israël, hoewel Israël dat omgekeerd wel altijd voor de VS is. En met die onvoorwaardelijke steun van de VS voor Israël valt het ook wel mee. Kan dat eindelijk, samen met die mythe van de oppermachtige Israëllobby die de media in handen heeft en haar opponenten het zwijgen oplegt, en de mythe van de Israëlische apartheid die bestaat uit de behandeling van tienduizenden Palestijnen per jaar in Israëlische ziekenhuizen, voorgoed naar het rijk der fabelen worden verwezen?

Gaza Fulbright Scholars- USA strikes out again

05.08. 2008
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center


More than once, I have expressed my anxiety about Israel's virtually total dependence on the United States (See for example The U.S. and Israel and The United States Mandate for Palestine). I am certainly not anti-American. The United States has admittedly been Israel's greatest supporter in the world arena, and has given generous aid to Israel, as it has to other countries. The support comes at a price however, and that is a price that no country should be expected to pay.

The United States is a different country from Israel, very far from here even in the jet age, and it has different priorities and internal politics. Above all, the United States has demonstrated time and again that it is woefully ignorant of Middle East politics, and apparently incompetent in dealing with security issues. That has not prevented the United States from dictating policy to Israel and others in the Middle East, sometimes in the most public, clumsiest and most harmful way. One can only imagine what imprecations about the "Israel Lobby" and the nefarious influence of the Jews would have been bandied about had the case been reversed.

The latest incident involves the Palestinian Fulbright scholars from Gaza who were denied exit permits by Israeli security agencies. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice found out about the incident and created an international scandal. Israel was made to seem a cruel and inhuman oppressor, ungrateful to the Great White Father in Washington, that denied fundamental rights to innocent Palestinians. Israeli officials quashed the objections of lower echelons and meekly rushed to comply with the dictates of the Imperial Vizier. The Palestinians got their exit permits. But now it turns out that the United States, after further considering the issue, has found that three of the four Palestinian Fulbright scholars are security risks, and has revoked their visas.

The United States has a long record of bad policies and bad "advice" in the Middle East. Those who think the Bush administration has been a great friend of Israel, should think again. At the beginning of the Palestinian violence in 2001, the Bush administration evidently denied spare parts replacements to the Israeli military because of anger over Israeli defense against terror. Pressure was also applied to prevent Israeli action to stop the terror, and the U.S. issued the "even handed" Tenet and Mitchell reports. Time and again, even after the tragedy of 9-11 had demonstrated both the urgency of the terror threat and the incompetence of U.S. policymakers and security officials, the United States urged "restraint" on Israel while Israeli civilians were being blown to bits in hotels, discotheques and cafes. By the time Israel was able to act against terrorists in 2002, hundreds of innocent people had been killed.

The U.S., it will be remembered, pressured Israel and the Palestinian Authority to allow the Hamas to participate in Palestinian elections. The results of that policy are evident in Gaza. Now U.S. officials are not very subtly leaking their opposition to Israeli military action in Iran. Iran is a threat to U.S. interests as much or more than it is a threat to Israeli interests. U.S. officials can decide U.S. policy in Iran. It is preposterous for them to dictate Israeli policy regarding Iran. Israel may or may not eventually decide that it is wise or necessary to destroy Iranian nuclear development infrastructure. But the threat of such action could be a powerful deterrent to Iran, if only incompetent and self-serving American officials did not try to make it clear, at every opportunity, that the United States will block any Israeli action. These statements and leaks must be very comforting to Mr. Ahmadinejad. How far could it go? If Iranian missiles are headed in our direction, will Israeli officials need to look to the White House to see if we have a green light, an amber light or a red light? A retired U.S. Air Force colonel named Sam Gardiner has expressed the opinion that a single nuclear weapon dropped on Israel would not be a devastating blow. He speaks for a lot of U.S. officials. Will the U.S. Ambassador, if he is still alive, crawl out of the ruins of an Iranian nuclear attack on Tel Aviv to urge "restraint" on the government of Israel? It might not be as far - fetched as you think.

United States friendship and support cannot come at the cost of Israel's vital interests, no matter how much aid the U.S. gives Israel, and no matter how often U.S. politicians proclaim the U.S. commitment to Israel. The United States never went to war for Israel, and as long as Israel has an independent foreign policy, it probably never will have to send U.S. soldiers to defend Israelis. The United States is certainly committed to defending Britain and France, and has done so on two occasions. Likewise, the United States went to war to defend Kuwait and spends many billions each year on the defense of Persian Gulf countries. It would be unthinkable for any American official to interfere in the minute details of micromanagement of security policy in any European country or in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia. Israel is another matter for some reason.

The case of the Gaza students was only a minor incident, but it illustrates a very dangerous pattern. Ms. Rice's behavior was that of an arrogant and ignorant bully, not a diplomat. She damaged the image of Israel, and forced Israel into an action that was against the best interests of both the United States and Israel. The State Department was also recently responsible for a list of US Middle East allies that didn't include Israel. So much for campaign rhetoric. It is time for U.S. officials to learn some manners and to learn to respect the independence and the interests of their supposed friends. Please express your displeasure to the U.S. State Department (Contact information and form: ) U.S. embassies around the world (a list of embassies is here: ) and to President George Bush . Perhaps we can do some "behavior modification."

Ami Isseroff

VS trekken visa in voor 3 Palestijnse studenten uit Gazastrook

Velen beweren dat de VS Israël onvoorwaardelijk en kritiekloos steunt. De realiteit is anders, en soms zelfs omgekeerd. Zo was Condoleezza Rice onlangs woedend omdat Israël enkele Palestijnse studenten uit Gaza geen toestemming wilde geven om naar Jeruzalem te reizen. Ze dwong Israël dit toch te doen, ze kregen visa's van de VS, en nadat de VS de zaak wat beter bestudeerde besloot men die visa's weer in te trekken. Waarschijnlijk had dat met dezelfde informatie te maken op grond waarvan Israël hen geen toestemming wilde verlenen de Gazastrook te verlaten.
But another official familiar with the situation said the information related to security issues that were behind the refusal by Israeli authorities to allow them to leave Gaza to be interviewed for visas at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem in May.
Dit is de arrogantie van een grootmacht, die zich schaamteloos met de binnenlandse politiek van andere landen kan bemoeien. Dit neemt echter zelden zulke absurde vormen aan als met betrekking tot Israël. Zie ook op Ami Isseroff's blog: Gaza Fulbright Scholars- USA strikes out again

Gaza Fulbright Scholars - Israel's American Friends get it wrong again

Remember this? Condoleezza Rice created an international crisis to force Israel to grant exit permits to Palestinian Fulbright scholars. Israeli officials had no choice other than to meekly obey.
The Middle East is a complex place. The US just doesn't have the expertise to operate here, and should not be telling other countries what to do. U.S. mistakes have been very costly to Israel and other countries.
Secretary Rice is always getting infuriated about something. She needs anger management courses.
Ami Isseroff
Haaretz - Last update - 05:57 05/08/2008
By The Associated Press
The United States has revoked the visas of three Palestinian Fulbright scholars whose cases were taken up personally by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after Israel refused to let them leave Gaza for interviews, U.S. officials said Monday.
Visas for the three, along with a fourth Palestinian student from Gaza who had hoped to come to the U.S. under a different program, were approved after Rice intervened in June but were rescinded last week when new information about them was received, the officials said.
"There were four Palestinians who were issued visas about whom we then received additional information," State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said.
"We decided that we needed to take a closer and harder look at them in light of the additional information we received," said Gallegos.
He also said the visas were canceled under a prudential revocation clause in immigration rules that allows them to be rescinded based on information gleaned about the holders after they were issued.
"It does not preclude the applicants from reapplying for visas in the future," he said.
Gallegos declined to comment on the nature of the new information about the four Palestinians, one of whom had actually arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington before he was told his visa had been revoked and was forced to return to Jordan.
But another official familiar with the situation said the information related to security issues that were behind the refusal by Israeli authorities to allow them to leave Gaza to be interviewed for visas at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem in May.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to privacy concerns about visa records.
The visa revocations were first reported by The New York Times.
Palestinian students cannot apply for U.S. visas in Gaza because Washington does not recognize the territory's Hamas government and has no diplomatic presence there. Israel bans all Gaza students from leaving for security reasons but has made exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Rice had been infuriated when State Department officials canceled the Fulbright scholarships of seven Palestinian students whom Israel had refused to let leave Gaza for their visa interviews.
After she took their cases to senior Israeli officials, Israel allowed four of the seven to travel to Jerusalem for interviews in June. Although Israel opposed the move, U.S. diplomats then made a rare trip to the Gaza border in July to interview the remaining three.
One official said Rice, who had been outspoken about the negative signal the original cancellations sent to Palestinians and the broader Arab world, had ordered a top-to-bottom review of the entire Fulbright scholarship vetting process in the wake of the cancellations.

donderdag 7 augustus 2008

NOVA over Irans nucleaire plannen

Zaterdag 2 augustus kwam het conflict tussen Iran en het Westen over Irans kernprogramma uitgebreid aan de orde in NOVA. Je zou verwachten dat men vooral in zou gaan op de vraag of Iran inderdaad aan een kernwapen werkt of - zoals het zelf beweert - slechts kernenergie wil kunnen produceren voor vreedzame doeleinden.
Vele, vele zaken wijzen op het eerste: Waar heeft Iran kernenergie voor nodig met al die olie? Waarom accepteert men niet het aanbod van o.a. Rusland om bij hen verrijkt uranium in te kopen? Waarom ontwikkelt men tegelijkertijd lange-afstandsraketten die speciaal bedoeld zijn voor vervoer van kernkoppen? Waarom dreigt Achmadinejad steeds met het van de kaart vegen van Israel, en wijst hij naar Israels kernwapens, en meent dat Iran er evenveel recht op heeft?
Desondanks houden de media zich meestal op de vlakte wat betreft deze vraag. Zo ook NOVA, waarin NOS en NRC correspondent Thomas Erdbrink deze vraag duidelijk niet interessant vindt, en bijna alle tijd besteedt aan het uitleggen van het Iraanse standpunt. We moeten vooral goed begrijpen hoezeer Iran zich in een hoek voelt gedrukt, en dat wat in onze oren agressief klinkt, in feite vooral een reactie is op westerse arrogantie. Daarvoor had een Iraanse hoogleraar eveneens uitgebreid Irans standpunt toegelicht, en betoogd dat als de VS een dialoog wil dat wel 'met respect voor Iran' gepaard diende te gaan. Hij zei dat Iran bereid is met alle legitieme staten te praten, dat Israel niet legitiem is, er geen ruimte is in het Midden-Oosten voor racisme (dan kun je de meeste staten daar wel opheffen lijkt me), zionisme racisme is en Israel een apartheidsstaat. Met alle respect, uiteraard.
Over deze intolerantie (om een understatement te gebruiken) was Erdbrink opvallend stil, dat deed blijkbaar niks af aan Irans oprechte behoefte aan respect van het Westen. Erdbrink meende dat de kans dat Israel als eerste aan zou vallen groter was dan dat Iran dat zou doen, en benadrukte dat een oplossing alleen mogelijk is wanneer het Westen voor een andere aanpak kiest, zodat Iran zich minder in de hoek gedrukt voelt. Je zou bijna zeggen dat de beste man door de Iraanse geheime dienst wordt betaald.
Het is waar dat er in Israel wordt gepraat over een aanval op Iraans nucleaire programma, maar dat is vooral een daad van zelfverdediging, en een gevolg van de slappe houding van het Westen. Het Westen heeft jarenlang 'respect' voor Iran getoond, en komt steeds weer met nieuwe voorstellen om het tegenmoet te komen. Ondertussen gaat Iran, tegen de afspraken in, door met het verrijken van uranium en bouwt men door aan nieuwe centrales en centrifuges. De inspecteurs van het atoomagentschap mogen de meeste lokaties niet in. Als men alleen kernenergie voor vreedzame doeleinden wil, wat heeft men dan te verbergen?
Waarom willen we de onaangename waarheid niet onder ogen zien, dat Iran niet veel goeds van plan is, en we dit niet met dialoog en 'respect' kunnen tegenhouden? Waarom is er niet meer kritiek op een zo'n partijdige correspondent?
De website Israel Facts wijst op twee alarmerende berichten die vrijwel onopgemerkt zijn gebleven in de Nederlandse media:
Het eerste is een rapport over Iraanse proeven in de Kaspische Zee, waarin een springlading op een Scud raket hoog in het luchtruim tot ontploffing is gebracht. Deze testen duiden volgens diverse betrouwbare bronnen op een Iraans programma om een EMP (electro magnetische impuls) aanval uit te voeren, mogelijk op de VS. Daarbij zou een kernwapen op een Scud of Shihab 3 raket worden gemonteerd, en afgeschoten vanaf een vrachtschip om tot ontploffing te worden gebracht hoog in het luchtruim, wat alle moderne communicatie systemen en andere electrische systemen onklaar zou maken en de VS daarmee letterlijk naar de 19e eeuw zou bombarderen.
Een ander bericht dat gisteren verspreid werd via het web was de onthulling door Koeweitse dagbladen dat Iran een tweede geheime nucleaire centrale aan het bouwen is in de streek die grenst aan Irak en Koeweit (zie MEMRI bericht hieronder).
De bron van dit bericht, Alseyassah Koeweit en haar Engelstalige tak Arabtimes, publiceerde een kopie van een brief van de assistent van de militaire commandant van de Iraanse revolutionaire garde Hassan Jalaliyan aan de directeur van de bouwfirma die de Al Zerqan centrale bouwt, Mohammed Kayafir.
Deze onthullingen werpen een iets ander licht werpen op de "vreedzame" aspiraties van Iran, waar het gaat om haar nucleaire aktiviteiten, aldus Israel Facts.
Het herhaaldelijk gepleegde bedrog door Iran zou genoeg reden moeten zijn voor een kritischere houding tegenover de verklaringen van Iraanse diplomaten. Het is de taak van de media om die goed tegen het licht te houden en ons te informeren over die zaken die Iran liever geheim houdt, en niet om het Iraanse standpunt nog eens uit te leggen. Dat kan Iran zelf wel.

Iran Building Secret Nuclear Reactor

Memri | 7/31/2008

On July 29, 2008, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported that, according to "highly reliable sources," Iranian authorities had begun construction of a secret nuclear reactor in the Al-Zarqan region close to the city of Ahwaz in southwest Iran, on the Iran-Iraq border.

The paper said that according to sources, Iran was working to distance its nuclear installations from international oversight. The English version of the report, published in the Kuwaiti Arab Times, said, "Disclosing [that] Tehran directed international A-bomb inspectors to other places, sources warned [that] the project poses a very serious threat to international security."

Also according to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not know about this site at all, since it was not included in negotiations with Iran in Geneva held in early July.

According to the report, the sources said that during 2000-2003, Iran expropriated the lands and homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region, destroying homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region.

Destroyed homes, fields, orchards, and wells, and built a three-meter-high wall around the project site, which allegedly measures hundreds of kilometers.

The report also said that "the construction of the reactor began with the laying of a pipeline for fresh water from the [nearby] KarounRiver to the site, and the expansion of the Al-Zarqan power station."

Also, the sources said that "the construction works seem to be routine and do not arouse attention, but the tight security around the region is what arouses suspicions regarding the nature of the work." They added that the site is guarded by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel, reflecting its importance and sensitivity.

Following is a summary of the Al-Siyassa report, [1] and from its English [2] version in the Kuwaiti English-language daily Arab Times, which was also published July 29, 2008.

IRGC Commander's Letter to Construction Company: Maintain Complete Secrecy

In its report, Al-Siyassa included a letter dated April 7, 2008 from the office of the assistant of IRGC commander in Al-Ahwaz city Brig. Hassan Jalaliyan, marked "highly confidential," to Mohammed Kayafir, manager of the Mehab Qudus Company for Construction and Supervision, which is building the reactor. The following is a translation of the letter:

"From the IRGC Commander in the city of Al-Ahwas to the director in charge at the Mehab Qudus company for Construction and Supervision Mr. Mohammed Kayafir

"Re: The nuclear reactor at Al-Zarqan


"I thank you for the good services of the Mehab Qudus company, and at the same time I must remind you of the following items:

"1. All construction materials must be transported from the warehouses to the construction site in top secrecy.

"2. As part of the doctrine of caution, we reiterate yet again that during the transport of all required materials, you must ensure that this [transport] does not arouse the suspicions of any citizen in the region through which you are moving.

"3. In general, it is absolutely forbidden to hire any Arabic speakers or any citizen from Khozestan in the framework of the 'Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor' construction project. You must ensure that all manpower, including the driver, the accountant, the warehouse manager, the laborer, the technician, or the guard, comes from the northern provinces.

"In conclusion, we say yet again that all the construction work in this project must be carried out under absolute secrecy.

"From the aide to IRGC commander in the city of Al-Ahwaz, Hassan Jalaliyan."


An Ideal Place to Build a Nuclear Reactor - The Local Residents Can Serve as a Human Shield

Al-Siyassa also reported that the "National Society for Arabstan State took satellite pictures of the location, which looked perfect for the construction of a secret nuclear reactor..." It added, "The site is more suitable for building a nuclear reactor than Bushehr, which is close to American bases." It noted that a nuclear power plant under construction at Darkhovin is in an open area on the main road between Ahwaz and Abadan - while the "Al-Zarqan nuclear reactor is in the middle of very highly populated areas, making it a very difficult target due to a possibility that the Iranian authorities will use civilians as human shields."

On January 31, 2008, the Iran Daily wrote that Iranian Atomic Energy Organization deputy head Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh had said that the nuclear power plant at Darkhovin, in southwestern Iran, would become operational in 2016.


[1] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), July 29, 2008,

[2] Arab Times (Kuwait), July 29, 2008, (the text has been lightly edited for clarity).

[3] Iran Daily (Iran), January 31, 2008,

Hezbollah agent uit Kalansua (Westoever) gearresteerd

Het is schandalig dat Hezbollah door de EU nog steeds niet als een terroristische organisaties wordt beschouwd, waardoor Hezbollah zich in Europa ongehinderd kan bewegen en bijvoorbeeld Arabieren met het Israëlische staatsburgerschap kan recruteren om informatie te verzamelen en aanslagen voor te bereiden. Hoe Hezbollah te werk gaat, staat uitgebreid beschreven in onderstaand bericht.

MFA Newsletter

Arrest of Hizbullah agent from Kalansua
Khaled Kashkoush, a resident of Kalansua in the West Bank, who has been studying medicine in Germany, was arrested on July 16. He was allegedly recruited in Germany by a Hizbullah handler and was instructed to carry out tasks for a sum of 13,000 Euros.
(Communicated by Israeli security sources)

Orphaned Children Project Lebanon in Germany
Khaled Kashkoush, born in 1979, single, originally from Kalansua, has been residing in recent years in Germany, studying medicine in Gottingen, Germany. He was arrested on July 16, 2008 at Ben Gurion Airport upon his arrival in Israel in a joint operation of Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police National Serious and International Crime Unit, for alleged security offenses. Following his arrest, Kashkoush was transferred for questioning, during which he revealed his ties with Hizbullah.

Initial ties with Hizbullah
In 2002 Khaled met Dr. Hisham Hassan through a family relative. Dr. Hisham is Lebanese, residing in Germany and heads the branch of Orphaned Children Project Lebanon, belonging to Hizbullah and operating to raise funds for the Lebanese Martyr Institute, which was designated in Israel. Lebanese Martyr Institute assists Hizbullah civil infrastructure in Lebanon, including assistance to families of suicide bombers in Lebanon (see appendix below).
After a few meetings, Hisham suggested that Khaled establish business relationship with a Lebanese, called Rami, who, according to Hisham, would be able to assist Khaled. In December 2005, Khaled met Rami, who later identified himself as Mazen, in Erfurt, Germany. In their first meeting Khaled was asked to buy a "clean" cell phone and set the meetings by e-mail.
In their second meeting, in December 2006, in Erfurt, Germany, the Lebanese handler, aka Mazen, revealed that he is a Hizbullah member. Afterwards, the two met in April 2007 and January 2008 in Frankfurt, Germany. The handler, who identified himself as Rami and then Mazen, is known to security elements by the name of Mohamad Hashem, about 50, originally from Lebanon, an experienced Hizbullah senior handler. Mohamad Hashem frequently visits in various countries for meetings with Hizbullah agents to give instructions and money and receive information.
Activity of Khaled Kashkush for Hizbullah
As revealed during questioning, Khaled Kashkush was asked to provide the Hizbullah handler with information on Israel, including names of Israeli citizens studying abroad aiming to recruit them to Hizbullah. In addition, Khaled attempted to get a job at one of the hospitals in Israel in order to gather information on members of the security forces or soldiers hospitalized there. In one of the meetings Khaled held with the handler, the latter showed him the map of the town of Kalansua loaded off Google Earth, and asked him to locate on the map the addresses of local residents or public buildings.
It also became clear that due to his ties to Hizbullah, Khaled underwent a basic guidance on security conduct intended to prevent his exposure.  
Khaled received 13,000 Euros for his Hizbullah activity.
When questioned about the ties of Hisham Hassan, with whom Khaled Kashkush began his activity, the activity of another Hizbullah agent was revealed - Ayman Kamel Shhade who was born in 1967 from Hebron. Ayman Shhade is known to the ISA for his association with Hizbullah. 
Since the pullout of the IDF from southern Lebanon in May 2000 the Hizbullah increased its activity vis a vis Israeli citizens, wishing to establish an intelligence and operational infrastructure to gather valuable information about Israel and execute lethal attacks on its territory. The need of Hizbullah to gather valuable information increased following the Second Lebanon War.
This investigation is another proof that Hizbullah considers Israeli Arabs an attractive target for recruitment and handling. Hizbullah wishes to benefit from their citizenship status, with no problems of movement and access to various sites in Israel. This fact assists in gathering relevant information: strategic information, such as security sites and main traffic arteries, as well as tactical information, such as information about Israeli towns. Thus, as part of Hizbullah modus operandi, Hizbullah approaches Israeli Arabs staying abroad to recruit them.
Furthermore, the fact that Hizbullah has not yet been designated as a terrorist organization in Europe and hence is considered a legitimate organization, enables the organization to act undisturbed, to recruit and handle agents, using allegedly legitimate platforms, such as charity societies and organizations. Israeli security elements are concerned over Hizbullah activity in various European countries, including attempts to recruit Israeli citizens, as was indicated in this investigation.
Appendix - Orphaned Children Project Lebanon and the Lebanese Martyr Institute
Dr. Hisham Hasan who recruited Khaled Kashkoush and introduced him to a Hizbullah handler, is the head of Orphaned Children Project Lebanon in Germany (Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon e.V). This association supports the Lebanese Martyr Institute, which was designated in Israel due to its support of Hizbullah. Thus, for example, the Orphaned Children Project Lebanon website ( explicitly states that all funds raised for the orphans' adoption project are transferred directly to the bank account of the Lebanese Martyr's Institute.
The Martyrs Foundation (Bonjad Ashahid) is originally an Iranian organization, founded to assist family members of the Iran-Iraq war victims. The Lebanese Martyr's Institute was established according to the Iranian format.
The Lebanese Martyr's Institute is known to be an organization raising funds for Hizbullah to strengthen the organization in Lebanon. This institute is part of a wide network of institutions and charity societies founded by Hizbullah in Lebanon; it operates in various fields: welfare, economics, culture and communications. One of its goals is the dissemination of Hizbullah ideology amongst Lebanese population. With the aid of these institutions Hizbullah attained a widespread influence on the Shiite population in Lebanon and other places in the world.
In 2007 the US Department of Treasury designated the Iran-based Martyrs Foundation and all its branches in Lebanon and USA (Goodwill Charitable Organization) as organizations providing support for Hizbullah, since they finance its activity.

6 Aug 2008
MFA Website

Qassam raket valt in westen Negev

Het huidige staakt-het-vuren is waarschijnlijk het best houdende tot nu toe. Sinds het ingaan ervan meldt de kalender van blogger Elder of Zion nog 'slechts' 11 gelanceerde Qassam raketten en 10 mortiergranaten. Dat is van 19 juni t/m 13 juli. (Onduidelijk of daarna niets meer was voorgevallen of de kalender niet verder is bijgehouden. In juni waren voordat het staakt-het-vuren inging 102 raketten gevallen.

Volgens Der Spiegel vuren de mensen die in de tunnels werken soms Qassams af omdat het in hun belang is als het staakt-het-vuren geen stand houdt, de grenzen weer helemaal dicht gaan en dus de prijzen van allerlei waren stijgen...
Ratna & Wouter

Qassam hits western Negev in new Gaza truce violation
By Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters
Last update - 21:29  06/08/2008

Militants in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday fired a Qassam rocket into the western Negev in another violation of the fragile truce between Israel and Hamas in the coastal territory.

The rocket struck an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council. It caused neither casualties nor property damage.

There have been several rocket launches from the coastal territory since an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas went into effect on June 19, though such attacks tapered off in recent weeks.

Israel responded to previous attacks by reclosing border crossings with Gaza.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from armed Palestinian factions in Gaza.

The truce calls on Gaza militants to halt rocket attacks in return for Israel gradually easing an embargo on the territory. Israel tightened its cordon on Gaza after Hamas took control of the territory in June 2006.

Tunnels tussen Gaza en Egypte houden Hamas in het zadel

Zonder de smokkeltunnels (zo'n 150 momenteel) zou Hamas een belangrijk deel van zijn inkomsten verliezen, en daarmee van zijn machtspositie.
Hamas handhaaft de orde, maar met harde hand: martelingen van tegenstanders, hoge belastingen op bijvoorbeeld brandstof, een verbod op alcohol en gemengd dansen bij bruiloften. Ondertussen onderneemt men niks tegen aanvallen op christelijke doelen.
Aan de corruptie is overigens geen einde gekomen, integendeel.
Der Spiegel - 08/04/2008 12:00 AM


Tunnels to Egypt Keep Hamas in Business

By Juliane von Mittelstaedt

One year after assuming total power over the Gaza Strip, Hamas is stronger then ever. Its weapons caches are overflowing and its control over daily life is secure. The Islamists can go about their business largely thanks to the supplies that get in via the tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt.

The king of the tunnel builders had given a dazzling party, with roses from Egypt and dancing into the early morning hours. Thousands of people came to the event to celebrate his wedding to his 15-year-old bride. He had chosen the girl, and her family gave her up gladly, because no one contradicts the man they call Abu Ibrahim.

He is the richest man in Rafah and is believed to be worth millions. He drives a gold-colored Jeep and has built a multistory commercial building, the only structure of its kind far and wide. He already has one wife and 10 children, and now he has this second wife, for whom he had a wedding bed, a refrigerator and two television sets brought in from Egypt through the tunnels.

Abu Ibrahim, 38, has Hamas to thank for his wealth, and Hamas owes its power in the Gaza Strip to Abu Ibrahim. A quarter century ago he dug his first tunnel under the border to Egypt. He was 13 years old at the time and one of the first to venture into the underworld of Rafah. At first he smuggled gold, cheese and cigarettes, but after the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000 his business shifted mainly to weapons. It was Ibrahim who helped arm the Islamists and provided them with the Kalashnikovs, ammunition and explosives they have used since assuming power in June of last year.

Although Hamas won a military victory over its rival, Fatah, on June 14, 2007, a second, silent civil war for lasting control over the Gaza Strip continues today, a year later. It is a conflict over who will determine law and order in the future, over bureaucracy and militias, and over who will collect taxes and who will be permitted to fire rockets at Israel.

When five Hamas members were killed in a bomb attack in front of a beach café two Fridays ago, the Hamas leadership immediately blamed the attack on its rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement. But it is also possible that the bombing was committed by elements from within Hamas's own ranks or one of its militias. The radical Islamist organization has been splintered into various factions for some time.

Lifelines for Gaza

Hamas used the bombing as an excuse to conduct its biggest series of raids since assuming power, arresting 200 supposed activists with the rival Fatah movement, searching organizations affiliated with it and banning three newspapers. In response, the Fatah-led government in the West Bank arrested 150 Hamas members. Hundreds of Fatah members have since fled to Israel and earlier this week many of them were subsequently transferred to the West Bank.

The two unconnected parts of a future Palestine are drifting apart like separating continental plates. Meanwhile, the new masters of Gaza are continually expanding their control over the narrow Mediterranean coastal strip, and their most important helpers are the tunnel people of Rafah.

According to the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, 175 tons of explosives have been smuggled into the region since June 2007, along with 10 million rounds of ammunition, tens of thousands of machine guns, grenades, land mines and precision-guided missiles. The Islamists are now believed to have turned to smuggling weapons through their own cement-reinforced tunnels, which now include ventilation systems and a water supply. But more than weapons are passing through these tunnels.

Since Israel classified the Gaza Strip as "enemy territory" and sealed its borders, 95 percent of businesses have been forced to close and 70,000 workers and about 40,000 farmers have become unemployed. This has helped turn the tunnels into lifelines for Gaza's 1.5 million residents. From clothing to Coca-Cola to cement, almost all goods reach this coastal strip underground.

Five thousand people work in the tunnels, of which there are now believed to be about 150 -- up from 15 a year ago. By now, anyone who can afford a few shovels, a generator and an electric winch is digging new tunnels, and there are deaths almost weekly, because the tunnels are poorly reinforced or because the Egyptians have blown them up.

A Game of Cat and Mouse

The new gold diggers of Rafah have staked their claims directly in the sand on one side of the border, and land prices here are higher than anywhere else in the Gaza Strip. The tunnels begin in huts made of wooden slats, surrounded by plants barely masquerading as gardens. The shafts are 10 meters (33 feet) deep, and at the bottom of each shaft a passageway leads to the southwest. The tunnels are 60 centimeters (2 feet) wide and one meter (3.3 feet) tall, and extend for up to one kilometer (0.6 miles). Sometimes up to four tunnels are crowded into the same vertical space, separated only by planks.

Each tunnel has several exits on the Egyptian side, so that when one is discovered and destroyed, another one can be opened. It is a cat-and-mouse game, but one in which the Egyptians are reluctant to pursue the smugglers. The Israelis, for their part, claim that no one knows exactly where the tunnels are and that they are not keen on bombing civilians. But according to Abu Yakub, "it's fine with the Israelis for Hamas to remain strong in Gaza, because it means that no one forces them to seriously negotiate a peace plan."

Abu Yakub is the assistant of weapons smuggler Abu Ibrahim, who now fears for his life and prefers to remain hidden. The two men went into the underworld together as children, and although Abu Yakub never became as wealthy as his friend, he has managed to earn enough to afford an attractive villa. And what if the tunnels were closed tomorrow? Abu Yakub claps his hands, and says: "Well, then I'll just stop working."

But now he squats next to a new shaft, where his men are in the process of digging a new tunnel. They are only 200 meters (656 feet) from their goal. Using satellite images from Google Earth, they install power cables, oxygen tubes and intercom systems underground. It takes six months and costs $40,000 (€26,000) to build such a tunnel, and those who are discovered will lose everything. Those who succeed, on the other hand, can make a fortune.

Ceasefire Proves Bad for Business

At the height of the embargo, prices quadrupled and, for a time, cement in Gaza cost 10 times as much as it did in Egypt. But now the cease-fire of June 19 has thwarted the smugglers' plans. For the past few weeks, about 90 trucks have been allowed to pass through the Israeli border crossings every day. Though only a fraction of the 400 trucks that made it through daily before the embargo, it was enough to cause prices to go down immediately in Rafah. Two weeks ago, a few dealers fired a homemade rocket in the direction of the Israeli city of Sderot, hoping that it would prompt the government in Jerusalem to seal off the borders again. "The ceasefire may be good for the people of Gaza, but not for us," says Abu Yakub.

The ceasefire has also been detrimental to Hamas, because the underground border traffic is one of its key revenue sources. The Islamists are believed to collect about $10,000 (€6,450) a day from the tunnel owners in the form of "usage fees," as well as "value-added taxes" -- all payable in cash to armed money collectors who wait at the tunnel exits. If a pack of cigarettes costs 74 cents in Egypt, it goes for €1.85 ($2.87) in Gaza, with half of the profits going to Hamas. And a lot of people smoke in the Gaza Strip.

The Islamists also control the distribution of gasoline. Anyone who wishes to buy gas must first buy an "insurance policy" from Hamas, for about €170 ($264), in return for a coupon that entitles its holder to buy 20 liters (5.3 gallons) once every two weeks -- even now, with Israel allowing 1 million liters (264,000 gallons) of fuel for cars into the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, many residents still drive with a mixture of vegetable and used deep-frying grease. As a result, the Gaza Strip smells like a French-fry stand.

But for the Islamists, the issue is not just money, but justice and the question of whose justice. After the Hamas coup, Abbas called upon the judges in the Gaza Strip not to report to work. This prompted Hamas to take over the courts last November and appoint new judges amenable to their cause. Some people, however, would even like to see these courts abolished.

One of them, and perhaps the most influential, is Marwan Abu Ras, known as "Hamas' mufti." The organization's political leaders prefer not to be mentioned in the same breath with Abu Ras and describe him as "peculiar." But Gaza's top administrator, Ismail Haniya, and Mahmoud Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas, like to discuss religious matters with Abu Ras, who studied in Medina. The religious scholar wears a floor-length jalabiya robe, and his stomach is pressed against the edge of his desk, where a Koran rests on a mat made of red imitation crocodile leather. His bear and the Palestinian flags on his desk flutter in the breeze coming from his office fan. He looks more sleepy than dangerous, and yet it was no coincidence that a bomb also exploded in front of his house two Fridays ago. In his case, the attempted bombing was presumably an act of revenge by Fatah.

Disappointed by the Islamists

That's because it was a fatwah, or religious edict, issued by Abu Ras that cost about 100 Fatah members their lives during and after the four-day power struggle last year. "Anyone who has committed murder must also be punished with death," says the mufti. "Before Hamas came into power, there was a lot of crime here. Now we have restored order."

Order also means torture, even if this isn't exactly something Abu Ras is willing to admit. Palestinians who have fled to the West Bank report being nailed to the wall, confined in coffins or subjected to mock executions by Hamas. "We will take the best aspects of the Iranian and the Saudi Arabian system," says Abu Ras, stressing that women, of course, can continue to attend the university, go to the market and drive. "We aren't the Taliban, after all," he says.

The Islamists' influence is becoming more and more visible. Most men now wear full beards and many women are fully veiled. New minarets are being built throughout Gaza, alcohol is no longer available, and Hamas has restricted mixed dancing at weddings and extended religious study in schools. There have been arson attacks against Christian organizations and Internet cafés, and a few months ago radical Islamists even launched a grenade in front of the Hotel Deira, because it had been said that a waiter there had served whisky in espresso cups. The terrace at the Deira is a refuge for the bourgeoisie, and extended families spend their evenings playing rummy there.

Sharhabeel Zaeem comes to the Hotel Deira every day with his wife and their four children. He owns the largest law firm in Palestine, and until two years ago he advised international non-governmental organizations and Arab investors. But since the Hamas coup investment has stopped and lawsuits are no longer being filed. Now Zaeem, together with his wife, has completed the state examination in political science and is studying to earn a master's degree in law. "I have a lot of time now," he says.

Together with like-minded Palestinians, Zaeem is building a new party, the "Palestine Forum," which is supported by Munib Masri, a multimillionaire from Nablus. "We need at least another five years before we can take on Hamas." But he is hopeful, noting that many are already disappointed by the Islamists.

Although people are venturing out into the streets again at night, because there is a police officer at every corner, says Zaeem, this is about the extent of Hamas's achievements. "Hamas is in power, but it still thinks like an opposition party," he says. It ignores the garbage piling up in the streets, does nothing about repairing traffic lights, roads and water pipes and pays no attention to the children begging at intersections.

Hamas has even reneged on its most important promise: to fight corruption. "You can buy your way out of prison, and it's even cheaper than under Fatah," says a man who prefers to remain anonymous. A traffic policeman recently asked the man for a "donation to buy breakfast." But the corruption is emanating from the top rather than the bottom of Gaza's power structure.

Gaza's de facto leader Ismail Haniya, has gained 28 kilos (62 lbs) and set up his office in the former government guesthouse -- with an ocean view, of course. In addition to Haniya, the men in charge include Tahir Nunu, the Hamas spokesman, who likes to hold court at the Hotel Deira and present visitors with his nonstop smile, framed by a carefully trimmed beard. Anyone who listens to Nunu discovers that Hamas is willing to release the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to form a unity government with Fatah, even to make peace.

Nunu smokes his water pipe. He can lean back and relax, because things are going well for Hamas. It has marginalized Fatah to such an extent that the desperate Abbas is even said to have threatened last week to dissolve the Autonomous Authority if Israel were to exchange prominent Hamas prisoners for Shalit. This is significant, because the release of Palestinians had until now consistently been considered a shared objective of all parties.

Nunu is the public face of Hamas. The other face of Hamas doesn't smile. It belongs to Ayman, a 26-year-old with an unkempt beard who dreams of becoming a martyr. "I will die sooner or later," he says. "It would be best to die in an attack on Israel." He shows a video clip on his mobile phone of him firing a Kalashnikov, then a photo of his daughter, who is only a few months old.

Ayman joined the Al-Aksa Brigades as a fighter six years ago, later becoming of member of Fatah's presidential guard. He defected to Hamas after the coup. Today he is a police officer by day and a member of the Qassam Brigades at night. He doesn't even have to change clothes from one job to the next. It's the same uniform for both.

Before the ceasefire, he transported rockets to the northern Gaza Strip and fired them from there. But now there is a ceasefire, and yet he still isn't any less busy. "On the contrary," he says, "we are training for the next major attack." This means spying on Israeli positions and depositing explosives near the border. Explosions are often heard these days, as Qassam fighters train for guerilla warfare. At the same time, Hamas is trying to reshape the brigades into an effective army with a clear chain of command, an army that, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, would be capable of resisting an Israeli invasion.

"We are disappointed, because Israel isn't opening up the borders completely, as promised. That's why we will soon end the ceasefire," says Ayman. He hopes that this will finally give him the chance to make his dream come true.

Abu Ibrahim, the tunnel king of Rafah, will also be pleased.


Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan