Saturday, October 4, 2008

Palestinian Authority fears Hamas takeover attempt in West Bank

 Palestinian Authority fears Hamas takeover attempt in West Bank
Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank have taken measures to prevent killings of leaders of the Palestinian Authority and its political power base, Fatah party, by the Islamic group Hamas, according to the London-based daily al-Sharq al-Awsat. The paper quoted Hamas members in the West Bank as saying,  "The oppression that the security services put on us will not last for long,"  The source added that the security forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "have not learned their lesson from what happened in Gaza," and intimated that a similar putsch is planned in the  West Bank. 

A senior Hamas leader in Gaza said the crackdown by pro-Abbas forces against Hamas members in the West Bank "will backfire."

Tuks battle PKU in Iraq, 15 Turks, 23 Kurds killed

How strange that nobody protests about the territorial integrity of Iraq, or the legitimate right of resistance of the Kurdish people.

Battle kills 15 Turkish soldiers, 23 rebels

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Fighting between Kurdish rebels and Turkey's army and air force in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq killed 15 soldiers and at least 23 insurgents, the military said Saturday, in the deadliest battle between them in eight months.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 20 soldiers also were wounded in the fighting, and the battle prompted him to cut short an official visit to Turkmenistan and return home Saturday.

President Abdullah Gul also canceled an official visit to France, scheduled for Sunday. "Whatever the cost, the fight will go on full force," Gul told reporters before meeting with Gen. Ilker Basbug, the chief of the military.

Friday's fighting involved a rebel attack on soldiers near a military outpost in southeastern Turkey, and Turkish warplanes, helicopters and artillery units pounding insurgent positions in northern Iraq, said Brig. Gen. Metin Gurak, a military spokesman.

Gurak said the Turkish forces were reacting to Kurdish rebel movements they had detected in northern Iraq and the rebel attack near the outpost in Aktutun, Turkey, about six miles north of the Iraqi border.

Gurak's statement said most of the 15 Turkish fatalities occurred near the outpost and were the result of heavy rebel fire from northern Iraq. He did not identify the weapons used by the insurgents, but the pro-Kurdish Firat news agency's Web site quoted Kurdish rebels as saying they used rocket launchers and assault rifles in the attack.

Turkish forces killed at least 23 Kurdish rebels, but more may have died during the artillery and air force attacks in northern Iraq, Gurak said.

He did not say whether soldiers crossed the border into Iraq during the fighting.

In addition to the 15 soldiers killed, two were missing, Gurak said. The Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, insurgents have kidnapped Turkish soldiers in the past during similar attacks.

Iraq's government, the European Union and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued statements Saturday condemning the rebels and supporting Turkey.

"We mourn with the citizens of Turkey and extend our condolences to the families of the soldiers who lost their lives," the embassy said. "President Georgia W. Bush has labeled the PKK a common enemy of the United States, Turkey and Iraq, and we reiterate our long-standing call for the PKK to lay down its arms and cease its violence once and for all."

Friday's fighting was the deadliest battle between Kurdish rebels and Turkish forces since February, when Turkey staged a weeklong ground offensive against guerrillas based in northern Iraq and claimed to have killed hundreds of them. Friday's rebel attack also came two weeks after Gen. Basbug said the insurgents were "withering" under the military's operations.

Next week, Turkey's Parliament is scheduled to vote on a proposal to extend for another year a mandate giving its military authorization for cross-border operations against Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq. The current authority which expires on Oct. 17.

The military has said its cross-border offensives have destroyed several rebel hideouts, but the PKK insurgents have denied that. The rebels, based in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, have been fighting for autonomy since 1984, alleging a history of discrimination and human rights abuses against the Kurds.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Internet posters blame Jews for financial crash

The anti-Semitic ideology behind the these attacks is based on ignorance of how the banking system works. People believe, for example, that "Jews" own the Federal Reserve bank. An Internet film called Zeitgeist claims that the Federal Reserve system was created by international bankers (mentioning Morgenthau and Rothschild of course) in order to allow banks to charge interest and bilk innocent Americans.
Last update - 23:16 02/10/2008   
By Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondent
The Anti-Defamation League reported Thursday a major upsurge in the number of anti-Semitic postings on the internet relating to the financial crisis engulfing the United States.
The Jewish-American organization cited hundreds of posts regarding the bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers and other institutions affected by the subprime mortgage crisis. The messages railed against Jews in general, with some charging that Jews control the U.S. government and finance as part of a "Jew world order" and therefore are to blame for the economic turmoil.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said: "We know from modern history that whenever there is a downturn in the global economy, there will be an upturn in the level of anti-Semitism and bigotry, and that is what we are seeing now." 
The ADL reported that Anti-Jewish invective had also surfaced on a wide variety of blogs and conspiracy Web sites.
It said similar messages have also appeared on neo-Nazi and white supremacist Web sites and Internet forums, adding that such groups frequently seek to exploit current issues in an effort to spread anti-Semitism to potential recruits.
The organization monitors anti-Semitism on the Internet through its Center on Extremism.

Too good to be true? Iran official: We may halt enrichment for nuclear fuel guarantees

If this is a real offer, it is very important. However, it is doubtful that a minor official would be relegated to making an important offer like this one, after Iran has repeatedly declared it would never give up its enrichment program.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 22:03 02/10/2008   
By Reuters
Iran would consider stopping sensitive uranium enrichment if guaranteed a supply of nuclear fuel from abroad, an Iranian official suggested on Thursday.
For that to happen, United Nations inspectors would have to verify Iran's disputed nuclear program is wholly peaceful and a range of international sanctions against Tehran be lifted. There is little prospect of either on the horizon.
Iran has previously brushed off big power offers of an assured foreign fuel supply, possibly via a production centre under the impartial control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), if it renounced enrichment.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog, said the reason why the Islamic Republic was enriching uranium was the lack of an legally binding international accord on security of fuel supply.
Asked if with such a deal Iran would shelve enrichment, he said that arrangement would be a first step but it would have to be implemented, and Iran would need to retain some enrichment as a contingency in case supplies were cut.
"This is a first step ..., then the next step is to see it really implemented," he told reporters at a Brussels conference.
If this were carried out, "then Iran would be able to reconsider the position that we have now. The situation would be different, we would have to see", Soltanieh said.
"Plus every country has to be cautious to have as a contingency plan a fuel reserve in case of interruption."
Iran is trying to master nuclear fuel-cycle technology that could yield electricity - its stated goal - or give it the capability to make atom bombs if the process is adjusted, which Israel and Western powers suspect is Tehran's underlying purpose.
On Wednesday, the former head of the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq said Iran is two years to five years away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.
Tehran has defied UN resolutions demanding it suspend enrichment and withheld cooperation needed to resolve a UN nuclear watchdog probe into whether it researched ways to build bombs. Iran denies the charges but not given backup evidence.
Soltanieh also said the West was trying to humiliate Iran by seeking to prevent it doing nuclear research and development.
Speaking at a think-tank in New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran would not be dragged down an "unending road" in dealings with the IAEA, adding Washington was perpetuating a "huge lie" about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"For the United States, it is difficult to accept the peaceful nature of Iran's programme because once it accepts, it can no longer oppose," Mottaki told the Asia Society.
Iran says it has no intention of making atom bombs, noting its commitment to continued IAEA inspections of nuclear sites.
It also denies blocking the IAEA inquiry but says that inspectors, egged on Iran's arch-foe the United States, are seeking unacceptable access to purely conventional military sites whose exposure would jeopardise its security.
The IAEA and Western nations say Iran must grant such access to clear up intelligence allegations of military involvement in the nuclear program. More generally, Iran should stop limiting inspector movements to declared nuclear sites, they say.
"Iran [should] implement all transparency measures... required to build confidence... This will be good for Iran, good for the Middle East region and good for the world," IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei told the annual 145-nation assembly of the UN watchdog in Vienna this week.

American technology may be closing down Hamas tunnels

The same technology might be useful for finding escape tunnels and underground bunkers.
US and Egyptian soldiers pair up in recent weeks in a project to uncover Palestinian weapons' smuggling tunnels; 42 tunnels discovered in less than a month
Alex Fishman
American soldiers have teamed up with Egyptian troops in the Sinai in recent weeks for an operation designed to uncover Palestinian weapons' smuggling tunnels underneath the Philadelphi Route, along the Egypt-Gaza border.
The operation has already yielded important fruits: Thanks to new, secret American-developed technology, the US Army's Corps of Engineers uncovered 42 tunnels running between Egypt and Gaza in less than a month, an unprecedented number in such a time span.

The joint American-Egyptian initiative was agreed upon half a year ago, during Defense Minister Ehud Barak's visit to Egypt. American experts arrived in the region a few weeks ago, making an effort to keep a low profile by using civilian dress.
The machinery that they brought with them, which probably relies on sonar in some way to identify underground tunnels, seems to be one of a kind. To date, it appears that Israel does not possess similar technology.
The recent rash of tunnel discoveries has appears to have Hamas worried. The Palestinian organization has taken to "nationalizing" certain "private" tunnels that were previously run by Rafah families. At this point in time, Hamas controls all underground activity in Gaza.
Additionally, the tunnel exposure project has led to heightened tension between Hamas and Egypt. An explosion in a Rafah tunnel, earlier this week, led to the deaths of five Palestinians from the same family who were inside it. Three Palestinians who were able to escape into Egypt through the tunnel were subsequently arrested.
The event led to mutual mud-slinging between Egypt and Hamas. The latter blamed the Egyptians for deliberately detonating the tunnel, a claim Egypt denies.
Despite the recent successes of the joint project, Hamas has managed to smuggle hundreds of explosives, RPGs and rifles into the Gaza strip.

Amnesty International: Unfair to Israel

Sad but true.

Amnesty persistently condemns Israel while ignoring suffering elsewhere
Yael Beck, Merav Fima

Even in a month when war raged in Georgia, Amnesty International continued to focus on the Gaza Strip, persistently blaming Israel for ongoing Palestinian hardship.


Amnesty, in fact, issued harsher condemnations of Israel than of any party to the Georgian conflict. With a ceasefire holding between Israel and Hamas, resulting in a period of calm, Amnesty stubbornly continued to spew hollow publications repeating outdated allegations.


Moreover, Amnesty took pride in its relentless criticism of Israel, while the rest of the world rightly concerned itself with the unfolding crisis in Georgia. In a press release, the organization boasted: "With the ceasefire holding, the suffering in Gaza has fallen off the international news agenda. However, Amnesty International members continue to campaign." This "explanation" merely highlights Amnesty's obsession with Israel, regardless of the reality on the ground.


Regular readers of Amnesty's material are not fooled by their non-stop publications condemning Israel and can easily discern that they seldom reveal anything new. Many of its press releases are identical, except for minor alterations. Amnesty's ulterior motive appears to be to maintain a constant production rate of material denouncing Israel, regardless of actual developments.


For example, Amnesty's distasteful decision to continue issuing condemnations of Israel during a period of intense intra-Palestinian fighting clearly illustrates the point. Unsurprisingly, Amnesty failed to mention, let alone praise, Israel's commendable acceptance of Fatah members fleeing from Hamas.


While devoting so many of its resources to Gaza, at a time of acute suffering and human rights abuses in Georgia, Amnesty International failed to provide effective coverage of the Georgian conflict. Although one would reasonably expect Amnesty to immediately respond with urgency to such a crisis, raising awareness for its victims, Amnesty preferred to focus on its usual target: Israel.


For instance, on August 12, 2008, the organization released a statement headlined "Trapped – collective punishment in Gaza." An expanded version was re-issued on August 27, 2008. As NGO Monitor analysis has demonstrated, the report lacks evidence and credibility, largely ignores the context of terrorism, exploits international legal terminology, and presents data in a highly selective and distorted manner.


Concurrently, Amnesty released a series of vague and neutral statements calling on all sides of the conflict in the Caucuses to avoid harming civilians, without assuming a clear stance, nor providing comprehensive reporting on the events.


Lame response to Georgian conflict

Amnesty's scarce coverage of the war in Georgia is not the result of inaccessibility. Human Rights Watch managed to provide ongoing and insightful coverage, based on its delegation's observations. Such limp statements on Amnesty's part betray its commitment to the defense of every individual's human rights.


Disappointingly, Amnesty expressed less concern regarding the events in Georgia, despite the fact that a greater number of civilians were killed during that conflict than over the course of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. On that occasion, Amnesty rushed to condemn Israel in almost-daily publications. It did not hesitate to portray Israel as an aggressor and largely ignored the fact that civilians in northern Israel suffered a constant barrage of rockets launched by the Hizbullah terrorist organization.


Amnesty's lame response to the recent Georgian conflict, overshadowed by its focus on Israel, indicates that the Second Lebanon War simply served as an incentive for Amnesty to pursue its shameless Israel-bashing. Had its aversion to war been genuine, Amnesty would have responded as forcefully or even more vocally to the Georgian conflict.


Were it truly concerned with the universality of human rights, Amnesty would apply the same standards to all countries. Hence, Amnesty's aim appears clear: to persistently condemn Israel, even if it means neglecting those suffering in other, more pressing conflicts across the world.


The authors are researchers at NGO Monitor,