Saturday, January 2, 2010

People of Iran have moved beyond the pro- system opposition

This Message originates with the Iran Solidarity Group.

Subject: People of Iran have moved beyond the pro- system opposition

The 27 December 2009 protest in Iran was a powerful blow to the totality of the Islamic regime. This was a blow not only to Khamanie's faction and his cronies, but also a blow to Mosavi's faction in opposition; it was a powerful response to the faction that advocates protecting of the system from opposition.

They – the pro-system oppositions.*- have tried to project the movement of the people of Iran as a movement for reform within the framework of the Islamic system. Of course people have time and again shown that they do not want to go back to the Khomanie's era. This was clear for everyone to see earlier in October and November protests, however the 27th was a landmark in this regard which openly and clearly showed that the people in Iran do not believe in any of the factions of the Islamic regime.

This was clear by choice of methods and forms of struggle and slogans that aimed at both factions and whole lot of the Islamic regime.

Khamenie's faction in power had been preparing the military forces and bajisi groups for months and had rounded up thousands of people before last Sunday. The Mosavie faction in opposition before the 27th had tried to confine the protest within the framework of the religious ceremonies, tried their luck, once more, to limit the people's protest to defending of the Islam, Khomeini's era and advocated peaceful protest, religious slogan etc; One other event that was used was death of Montazerie seven days earlier. The Mosavi Faction – the pro-system opposition– had called Montazeri, "the father of human rights in Iran" and were to use 27th as day of commemorating Montazeri.

What actually happened was to upset this strategy. Men and Women, side by side, took to the streets with a clear political agenda of anti-government slogans and with confronting the military forces such as Pasdaran and Basiji's and on many occasions arrested these thugs and burnt their vehicles. The protesters also attacked the government thugs who were organised in religious groups for the ceremonies. There were no evidence that people were using the religious ceremonies and religious pretext to say what they wanted. They talked in their own clear language of anti-Khamanie, against the dictatorship and against they totality of the system of Velayat faghih.

This was a revolt with a clear political slogan without any reliance on the slogans and methods of "the pro-system opposition."

This was a defeat for the Mosavie as they had always advocated peaceful protests; people not only responded to the oppressive forces of the regime by chasing them and made them on occasions to give up and run away; the people also in reality faced off "the pro-system opposition" faction.

When we examine the last Sunday's events, we see a classic urban revolt against a dictatorship. The video clips of the day show how every street have been barricaded as in classic street battle formation with a more confident masses confronting the oppressive forces.

This situation forced the figure heads of "the pro-system opposition" both n Iran and abroad on many occasions to condemn violence and asked people to keep the protests peaceful. They actually coached their policy in stating that the government forces attacked the dignity of the religious ceremonies of the people by their violence. The same is of course is said by the other faction in power that it was the people who undermined the dignity of Ashura ceremonies.

As far as the people were concerned the question was not about upholding the dignity of religious ceremonies. The issue for people was to confront a brutal Islamic dictatorship and bring it down with all of its military and religious machinery. The Islamic government in Iran realises this; of course the faction in power wants to save the system by naked suppression and brute force, and the other faction wants to lead the movement in the dark alleys of working within the framework of the Islamic system.

The 27th December replied to both of these policies. People know what they want; they know their enemy well and are determined to overthrow this regime completely. This movement can only end with the victory of the people's revolution against Islamic republic and that day is now not too far away.


This is a translation by Fariborz Pooya of the transcript of daily "10 minutes with Hamid Taghvaie" which is a TV program broadcast daily on New Channel satellite TV to Iran and Europe. This episode was broadcast on 30 December 2009.

*Mosavie and Kahroubi and their supporters call themselves protectors of the ststem of the Islamic regime and advocate return to the time of ayatollah Khomeini and early days of the Islamic government – when Mosavi himself was in power.

**Montazeri was one of the main architects of the Islamic system of Velayat fagheh which was the foundation for the government established by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 which was the basis of the relationship between Islam and the state as codified in his work Velayat-e Faqih of the government of the Islamic Jurists,"

به فارسي (ويديو)۔;


PA, Abbas Bless Rabbi's Murderers as 'Martyrs'
by Hana Levi Julian
Published: 12/30/09, 5:22 PM / Last Update: 12/30/09, 5:38 PM

( Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas publicly proclaimed three terrorists who murdered a Jewish father of seven children to be "shaheeds" – holy martyrs, according to a report by the PA media watchdog, Palestinian Media Watch.

Abbas declared the killers – all members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades -- to be shaheeds and sent his personal emissary to visit their families following last Thursday's attack. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is part of the Fatah faction, which is headed by Abbas. PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad personally visited the families, along with a number of top PA officials, and condemned the IDF operation.

Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, a 40-year-old Israeli resident of the Samaria Jewish community of Shavei Shomron, was murdered in a hail of bullets fired by four terrorists in car that overtook him as he drove home from a nearby community. On Friday night, IDF soldiers tracked down three of the terrorists and killed them after they opened fire during an attempt to arrest them. The fourth surrendered to PA police, who have not turned him over to Israeli authorities.

The response of the PA government has been one of unequivocal support for the terror attack, with statements by its leadership and that of the Fatah faction referring to the terrorists as Palestinian heroes and shahids. One member of the faction's central committee described the terrorists as "[military] commanders, brave heroes, and fighters," according to a news report in the daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida translated by PMW.

PA government-controlled media, meanwhile, has described Israel's killing of the rabbi's murderers as an "assassination" and "murder in cold blood."

Abbas: 'Not Me - Won't Turn to Violence'

Abbas claimed in an English-language interview posted this week on the Palestine Media Center web site, and clearly intended for international readership, that he is opposed to violence and terrorism, regardless of circumstance. The PMC is the media outlet and "general secretariat" for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of which Fatah is a member.

The statement was made in response to a question regarding his views on whether the PA would agree to a single-state solution or insist on the establishment of an independent PA country, as stated in the Road Map plan.

"I will not turn to violence," he replied. "No matter where you drag us, I will not return to violence."

"And if violence forces itself upon you?" he was asked.

"Not me. I am against this," he claimed. "I will not accept violence, terrorism, gunfire or a military intifada. Absolutely not."

A lie can travel halfway around the world
while the truth is putting its shoes on
                                        Mark Twain

Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy on the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, and Iran, and why Israel is indestructible


Maclean's Interview: Efraim Halevy
by Yoni Goldstein
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 1:00pm

Efraim Halevy is the former head of the Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, where he worked closely with five Israeli prime ministers—Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. He is the author of Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis With a Man Who Led the Mossad.

Q: What are the real chances of peace between Israel and the Palestinians?

A: I think peace between Israel and the Palestinians hinges on the Palestinians proving the capability of nationhood. I don't think that nationhood can be thrust upon the Palestinians from without. A nation has to be built from within—and it has to be purely Palestinians who create and build their own nation. The way things are at the moment, the Palestinians are not creating their own nation. The nation is being created from without. The United States is training their military forces; Tony Blair is chaperoning them and helping them build their economic and political institutions; the European Union is helping in other fields. In other words, what is being done is the Palestinian nation is being built with outside help. This, I think, cannot succeed. Whether the Palestinians have it within their capacity to transform what they have into a nation that has an in-built hierarchy, that has an in-built structure of discipline and orderly conduct—this is something that we don't know yet.

Q: Do you have a sense whether they'll be able to do it?

A: I don't know. I think that if it is not the case, then they're in for a lot of trouble. I think it is in Israel's interest that there should be a Palestinian state—I think it is in Israel's interest that there should be a Palestinian people that is capable of sustaining a Palestinian state. But what has been going on in recent years is not very encouraging.

Q: Should Israel negotiate with Hamas?

A: I believe Israel should try to work toward a situation where Hamas would be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. Hamas is not a movement with a religious leadership. It is a secular movement. It will take time, but Hamas has already moved from its original positions. What we should be intent on doing is not to beat Hamas ideologically—they will not beat us and we cannot beat them. If we resort to an ideological confrontation, it will go on forever. What we need to do is to bring Hamas to a point where it will understand that it is in its interest to reach an accommodation with Israel. And I believe that they are on the way. I would remind you that when Gorbachev concluded it was in the interest of the Soviet Union to bring an end to the Cold War, it was in the end the Soviets who took care of the Communist party, and actually sent it into opposition.

Q: What signs do you see that would indicate Hamas is moving from its stated goals?

A: First of all, Hamas's leader, Khaled Meshal, is on the record as saying that he is willing to accept the borders of 1967 as the provisional borders of a Palestinian state. He is not relinquishing the ultimate dream that he will control the whole of Palestine. But he says that, for the moment, he will accept the 1967 borders. This brings him toward the position where he is accepting the reality of Israel. This is the beginning of his understanding, and the understanding of others, that it is not within the capability of Hamas to bring about the extinction of the state of Israel. They understand that Israel is indestructible—they aren't saying it, but they understand it. And I think this is something we have to encourage and develop.

Q: Is the proposed prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel good news for peace?

A: If there is a prisoner swap, what is clear is that neither side will achieve all its aims. Each side will have to make very painful concessions—Israel is going to certainly make a painful concession if it goes through with the swap, and Hamas will also make painful concessions because it will not get the release of all the people it wants. When you make painful concessions, you begin your march on the road to making an accommodation. Once you make mutual painful concessions, then the parties begin on the path that will bring a degree of conciliation. It will not be a full conciliation at the beginning; the conciliation will take much longer. Maybe more than a generation, maybe two. But the conciliation process will have been launched.

Q: What sort of threat does Iran pose to Israel?

A: Israel and Iran do not have conflicting interests. The conflicting interest is between Israel and the regime in Iran. And the regime in Iran has unfortunately painted itself into a corner. What they have done is, for 30 years or more, they have acted to obtain a direct channel of negotiations with the U.S.—and for decades the U.S. rejected them. When the U.S. changed its policy and decided to engage Iran, Iran announced it had certain demands. It wants to be recognized as a regional power, and it wants to pursue the target of bringing an end to the state of Israel. By its own doing, Iran has created a situation whereby it cannot reach an ultimate accommodation with the U.S. without relinquishing its active pursuit of the destruction of Israel—because the U.S. would never permit this to happen. So, figuratively speaking, by their own doing, the road from Tehran to Washington goes through Jerusalem, which from their point of view, I don't think is such a wise thing to do.

Q: But what about the nuclear threat?

A It is a serious threat. It is not an existential threat. It is not within the power of Iran to destroy the state of Israel—at best it can cause Israel grievous damage. Israel is indestructible. I believe that Israel has a sufficient capability, both offensive and defensive, to take care of any threat, including the Iranian threat.

Q: Is there a potential diplomatic solution to the conflict?

A: There should be a dialogue between the Iranians and the U.S. Up till now, the dialogue has not produced results—the Iranians are being very obstructive. The U.S. is now launching an effort to bring about a new wave of sanctions against Iran, and the Iranians are retaliating very arrogantly. I believe that the U.S. will pursue these sanctions and will also pursue negotiations at the same time. If the Iranians are foolish enough to reject the outstretched hand of the U.S., and of the entire world, then they will have to pay a very, very severe penalty. There are also elements of last resort, but I don't want to go into those. My take is that it could well be that the Iranians will make a last-minute decision to not test the last resorts of the other side. The Iranians have changed course before when they felt they were in real peril. I don't think they feel that way yet.

Q: What is the state of Canada-Israel relations in the wake of Mossad agents being found with stolen Canadian passports?

A: I have more than reason to believe that all the difficulties that were characteristic of the past have been removed. And I believe that there are strong ties and co-operation, at diplomatic and other levels, between Canada and Israel. I think relations have developed in a very substantive manner.

Q: But was there a period of wariness when the passport scandal was revealed?

A: I think we went through a period in which relations were—how should I say?—at bay. But both sides reached the conclusion that it was in their mutual interest to find a solution.

Q: George W. Bush was a strong supporter of Israel. How does Obama compare?

A: In the relationship between Israel and the U.S., we've had ups and downs. We had 16 years of Clinton and Bush Jr., which was a sort of golden period. Obama is a different person, with a different style, and I think we have to accommodate those styles. We can't always believe that there is someone in the White House who is going to be as friendly as some others. But I am sure that President Obama recognizes—and I know that he recognizes—that Israel is a very valuable and important partner in most of the endeavours that the U.S. is involved in globally. And I know for a fact that there are people surrounding him—and I know some of them personally—that would advise him that when it comes to the nitty-gritty the position of Israel as a pivot in the Middle East is of extreme importance to the U.S. Israel is the focal point of the Middle East, at least geographically, and you must assume that being where we are, we perform a very important and unique role. We are a point of sanity, of democracy, of capability, of devotion. We have common values and aims that transcend one kind of an administration or another. And I know Obama respects this.

Q: Do you see another war on the horizon for Israel?

A: I would prefer not to answer the question for two reasons: because Israel has a record of having to go to war in circumstances that have a surprise—the '67 war was a surprise, the '73 war was a surprise, the '96 war was a surprise. The Middle East has this characteristic of suddenly producing a catalytic turn of events. You get up in the morning, you suddenly see shifting sands, and within a very short space of time one thing leads to another and you have a war on your hands. Secondly, in Jewish religion, prophecy is given to fools—and I prefer to not be any more foolish than is absolutely necessary. Having said this, I cannot rule out the possibility of another confrontation. The situation in Lebanon—where Hezbollah is a state within a state, and has amassed an enormous new arsenal of missiles—cannot last for a very long time, and is pregnant with the possibility of a confrontation. And Israel is preparing for it.

Q: You discount the term "occupation" as it references the West Bank and Gaza. Why?

A: In 1947, the UN passed a resolution setting up two states in Palestine. Israel accepted it; the Arab states rejected it. In 1948, there was a war, and at the end of the war Israel occupied a certain part of the territory that was formerly Palestine and the rest was occupied by Jordan and Egypt. In 1967, the Jordanians launched an attack against Israel. We had to move against an attack against us and we took over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But the status of these territories is questionable: if you say we occupy them, then we occupy them from an occupier. There was never a Palestinian independent state, so technically speaking we occupied British-mandated territory. But this is absurd. Legally speaking, we are not an occupying force.

Q: What about the fact that Israel is controlling land on which another people, culture and language are prevalent?

A: Israel is not occupying those areas. It is maintaining them. It has not annexed the territories, or declared them part of Israel. We are administering the territories, because they had to be administered when they fell into our hands as the result of a war we did not initiate. We suddenly found ourselves with two territories. We could have handed them back to the Egyptians and the Jordanians, but we didn't. We could have handed them back to the occupiers—would that have been better?

A lie can travel halfway around the world
while the truth is putting its shoes on
                                        Mark Twain

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 'Israelification' of airports: A light unto the nations...


The 'Israelification' of airports: High security, little bother
Cathal Kelly, Toronto Star, 30 December 2009.

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

"It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He's worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

That, in a nutshell is "Israelification" - a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate — what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?

"I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is 'Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, 'What would you do?' And he said, 'Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, 'Oh. My. God.'

"Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, 'Two days.'"

A screener at Ben-Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain 'bomb boxes'. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

That's the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

This doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Abdulmutallab would not have gotten past Ben Gurion Airport's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

"Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody," Sela said. "But they say, 'So far, so good'. Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you've spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable

"But, what can you do? Americans and Canadians are nice people and they will do anything because they were told to do so and because they don't know any different."



A lie can travel halfway around the world
while the truth is putting its shoes on
                                        Mark Twain

Israel's Right to the 'Disputed' Territories , not "occupied"

The recent statements by the European Union's new foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton criticizing Israel have once again brought international attention to Jerusalem and the settlements. However, little appears to be truly understood about Israel's rights to what are generally called the "occupied territories" but what really are "disputed territories."

That's because the land now known as the West Bank cannot be considered "occupied" in the legal sense of the word as it had not attained recognized sovereignty before Israel's conquest. Contrary to some beliefs there has never been a Palestinian state, and no other nation has ever established Jerusalem as its capital despite it being under Islamic control for hundreds of years.

The name "West Bank" was first used in 1950 by the Jordanians when they annexed the land to differentiate it from the rest of the country, which is on the east bank of the river Jordan. The boundaries of this territory were set only one year before during the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan that ended the war that began in 1948 when five Arab armies invaded the nascent Jewish State. It was at Jordan's insistence that the 1949 armistice line became not a recognized international border but only a line separating armies. The Armistice Agreement specifically stated: "No provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations." (Italics added.) This boundary became the famous "Green Line," so named because the military officials during the armistice talks used a green pen to draw the line on the map.

After the Six Day War, when once again Arab armies sought to destroy Israel and the Jewish state subsequently captured the West Bank and other territory, the United Nations sought to create an enduring solution to the conflict. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is probably one of the most misunderstood documents in the international arena. While many, especially the Palestinians, push the idea that the document demands that Israel return everything captured over the Green Line, nothing could be further from the truth. The resolution calls for "peace within secure and recognized boundaries," but nowhere does it mention where those boundaries should be.

It is best to understand the intentions of the drafters of the resolution before considering other interpretations. Eugene V. Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in 1967 and a drafter of the resolution, stated in 1990: "Security Council Resolution 242 and (subsequent U.N. Security Council Resolution) 338... rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to "secure and recognized borders," which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 194."

Lord Caradon, the British U.N. Ambassador at the time and the resolution's main drafter who introduced it to the Council, said in 1974 unequivocally that, "It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial."

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, made the issue even clearer when he stated in 1973 that, "the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal." This would encompass "less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel's prior frontiers had proven to be notably insecure."

Even the Soviet delegate to the U.N., Vasily Kuznetsov, who fought against the final text, conceded that the resolution gave Israel the right to "withdraw its forces only to those lines it considers appropriate."

After the war in 1967, when Jews started returning to their historic heartland in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, as the territory had been known around the world for 2,000 years until the Jordanians renamed it, the issue of settlements arose. However, Rostow found no legal impediment to Jewish settlement in these territories. He maintained that the original British Mandate of Palestine still applies to the West Bank. He said "the Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan River, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors." There is no internationally binding document pertaining to this territory that has nullified this right of Jewish settlement since.

And yet, there is this perception that Israel is occupying stolen land and that the Palestinians are the only party with national, legal and historic rights to it. Not only is this morally and factually incorrect, but the more this narrative is being accepted, the less likely the Palestinians feel the need to come to the negotiating table. Statements like those of Lady Ashton's are not only incorrect; they push a negotiated solution further away.

—Mr. Ayalon is the deputy foreign minister of IsraelPrinted in The Wall Street Journal Europe, page 13

Israel arrests teenager for West Bank mosque attack


JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli police say a teenager has been arrested in connection with the torching of a West Bank mosque earlier this month.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed on Thursday that a minor was being questioned in the attack, believed to have been the work of Jewish extremists.

Rosenfeld says undercover agents arrested the teen at a West Bank junction. He says it was the first arrest since the December 11 blaze, but had no further details.

Authorities suspect Jewish extremists carried out the attack in retaliation for a government-ordered slowdown in West Bank settlement construction.

The attackers burned prayer carpets and a book stand with Muslim holy texts, leaving Hebrew graffiti on the floor.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Iraqis will have a blast (or two or three) for New Year

Iraq has become invisible to most of the world - a hole in the map of foreign offices, especially the US State Department. But people live there, and they are getting killed pretty regularly.
Hey Barack, are you listening? USA will make peace between Israelis and Palestinians just like they did in Iraq.
Barack Obama may not be listening, but America's allies are. Iraq is an object lesson in what happens to places that Americans get tired of.
Say, what's the latest on Tiger Woods?
Ami Isseroff
Bombs Kill 21 in Iraq's Western Anbar Province
Officials: Bombs kill 21 in Iraq's western Anbar province
The Associated Press
Iraqi police officials say most of the 21 people killed in a pair of bombings in western Iraq were policemen.
Lt. Col. Imad al-Fahdawi said the deputy provincial commander was among the 13 policemen killed by Wednesday's blasts in Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad. Another police official says the provincial police commander was wounded.
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Al-Fahdawi said many of the policemen were killed by a car bomb at a checkpoint near the local provincial government headquarters. Others died after a suicide bomber detonated his vest as they rushed to respond to the initial explosion.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Staggered explosions killed 21 people Wednesday and injured the governor of Anbar, Iraqi officials said, in the latest violence to roil a turbulent province that is still struggling to stamp out the remnants of the al-Qaida insurgency.
The western province of Anbar is strategically important because it was once the heartland of support for al-Qaida linked militants before American officials paid Iraqi fighters to join a pro-government force.
Police official Lt. Col. Imad al-Fahdawi said two bombs exploded in Anbar's capital of Ramadi, 70 miles (115 kilometers) west of Baghdad. He says a suicide bomber in a car caused the first blast on the main road near the provincial administration buildings.
Gov. Qassim al-Fahdawi, the deputy police chief and other officials came to inspect the damage, the police official said, when a suicide bomber on foot detonated a vest full of explosives nearby.
The deputy police chief was killed and the governor and other officials wounded, al-Fahdawi said. Police have put a curfew in place, he added.
Dr. Ahmed Abid Mohammed said 21 people had been killed and 48 injured. He said the governor had suffered burns on his face, injuries to his abdomen and other areas.
"The leadership in the province have requested support from U.S. forces in response to the attacks near the provincial government center in Ramadi," said military spokesman Lt. Col. Curtis Hill. He said American forces were helping evacuate casualties, establish security and forensic investigation.
There are 18 provincial governors in Iraq. Anbar is primarily Sunni, the same sect of Islam as former dictator Saddam Hussein. The province was the former stronghold of the insurgency before the U.S. military began paying fighters to participate in the pro-government Sons of Iraq program, also known as the Awakening Council.
The Sons of Iraq are widely credited with stabilizing the country after joining up with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the anti-al-Qaida drive about three years ago. But they have been hit by a steady barrage of revenge attacks since then and five of them were killed at a checkpoint Tuesday in central Iraq.
The Sunni fighters have expressed fears that they will be sidelined by the mainly Shiite government after the American forces leave. Shiites are the majority in Iraq, and insurgents have repeatedly bombed Shiite religious processions in an effort to re-ignite the sectarian violence that dragged Iraq to the brink of civil war two years ago.

Egypt: Magdi Hamdi Saqr, denied medical care in prison, life in danger

The State of Emergency law is often used by the Egyptian security services as a pretext for arbitrary arrests of dissident groups or those believed to be members of such groups. In such cases, the victims are detained without legal justification and held for long periods of time without trials based on the assumption that they are a threat to national security. Within the prison themselves, many of these political prisoners are exposed to ill-treatment, humiliation and torture, especially those who require medical care are often denied this basic privilege and in some cases die. On 17 October 2009, the Egyptian authorities arrested Magdi Hamdi Saqr, who suffers from serious health difficulties, and is now detained in Damanhour prison, northern Egypt.
Mr Saqr suffers from several medical conditions, including the hardening of the arteries, failure to the coronary artery and frequent chest pains. Before his arrest, doctors advised him to avoid strenuous activity and to take rest as much as possible. His current state of health is dire, and the living conditions at Damanhour prison have only worsened his condition. Doctors, who are also his inmates, have tried to help; however, they have been unable to do so due to a lack of medical resources. Current fears are that could die if he does not urgently receive medical attention.
A request for his release was last submitted on 5 November 2009, however, the authorities unequivocally refused. Alkarama submitted his case as an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions (SUMX) today, 8 December 2009.
Alkarama calls upon the Egyptian authorities to release Magdi Hamdi Saqr and therefore reminds the authorities that Mr Saqr may die inside Damahour prison due to lack of proper medical care.

Rights Group: Syrian prisoner under arbitrary detention for two years

16 December 2009

Alkarama has received an important update regarding Ziad Wasef Ramadan, a Syrian arrested in 2005. Following Ziad Ramadan's first family-visit in over two years on 23 August 2009, reports now confirm that Mr Ramadan's health has severely deteriorated after being subjected to continuous solitary confinement since September 2007. Ziad Ramadan's family had previously visited him on 22 September 2007, after he was transferred to the Palestinian Branch of Damascus prison, in September 2007. Up until their most recent visit, all visitation requests had been refused.
Mr Ramadan, a native of Homs, Syria, was originally arrested on 20 September 2005 as a suspect in the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri, former Lebanese prime minister. Alkarama had sent his case to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on 14 September 2009, asking them to render an Opinion recognising his detention as arbitrary.
Alkarama is currently working with the UN special procedures as well as other human rights NGOs to ensure that the Syrian authorities respect their obligations under international law with regards to Mr Ramadan.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Intelligence: Iran smuggling 1,350 tons of purified uranium pre

Report: Iran Seeking to Smuggle Raw Uranium

Inteligence Report Says Iran Is Seeking to Smuggle 1,350 Tons of Uranium From Kazakhstan
The Associated Press
Diplomats are concerned about an intelligence report that says Iran is trying to import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan in violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Such a deal would be significant because Tehran appears to be running out of that material, which it needs to feed its uranium enrichment program.
A summary of the report obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday said the deal could be completed within weeks. It said Tehran was willing to pay $450 million, or close to 315 million euros, for the shipment.
An official from the country that drew up the report said Kazakh government employees acting on their own were behind the deal. The official demanded anonymity in exchange for discussing intelligence matters.
After-hours calls put in to offices of Kazatomprom, the Kazak state uranium company, in Kazakhstan and Moscow, were not answered. There was no immediate reaction from Tehran.
Iran is under three sets of Security Council sanctions for refusing to freeze its enrichment program and related activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons. Tehran denies such aspirations.

Monday, December 28, 2009

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at the Knesset Special Session

PM Netanyahu's Speech at the Knesset Special Session

Mr. Speaker,

We're here today because 40 Members of Knesset have called for this special session to discuss the Government's foreign policy so I'd like to address the principles that guide our actions in the realm of foreign affairs and defense.

There are three primary threats facing us today: the nuclear threat, the missile threat and what I call the Goldstone threat.  This is all on top of our mission to resume and then accelerate the peace process with the Palestinians, with the goal of reaching a settlement.  These are our main tasks.  I want to discuss each of them briefly and then say a few words to the Opposition.

2009 ends in just one week, and we're engaged in dialogue with our many friends in the international community about what is happening in Iran.  People are looking differently at Iran now, because of the sequence of recent events – starting with the elections, but even before that, when the Iranian president started to make his goals clear.  And the secret nuclear facility at Qom.  All these things have led to the increased delegitimization of the Iranian regime, its desire to develop nuclear weapons and its stated goal to erase Israel from the map.

That's why there's now a possibility that the international community will impose tight sanctions against Iran.  We're working hard to achieve this goal; not everything can be revealed, but we're working intensely in the international arena to ensure that harsh sanctions are imposed on Iran.  Time will tell if these sanctions will be enough to halt the Iranian nuclear program, but they're a critical and even essential condition.  In my estimate, decisions will be made at beginning of the 2010.  I think in February – at least by the United Nations.

I can't say what the outcome of these efforts will be.   I can only say that I think all Members of Knesset are all united on this issue.  We're making every effort to guarantee a positive outcome.  But of course, the decision will ultimately be made by the members of the Security Council, where even a single member can tip the scales the wrong way.

The threat of missiles and rockets is intensifying.  We're also working here to develop a solution, and to protect those living in the line of fire.  We're working together with the United States on a number of projects – ones that are familiar to you, or certainly to the members of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, as well as some other projects.  But my government has adopted a very simple policy: we won't tolerate any trickle or drizzle of rockets that later turns into rainfall and then a full-fledged storm.

Any metal cylinder loaded with TNT that's fired, even if it lands in an open field – which thankfully has been the case so far – will result in a response.  Maybe not the next minute or even hour, but it will come quickly and it could be pretty painful.

Finally, Goldstone has become code for a much broader phenomenon: the attempt to negate the legitimacy of our right to self-defense.  It didn't just start now.  The international campaign against Israel has gone on since the Durban Conference in 2000 and since the attempt in 2003 to condemn the security fence that has protected Israeli children – but is condemned just the same – in The Hague.

I know a young man who tried to explain the role of this "awful" fence to a critic.  He said: "There was a girl in my class who didn't come to school one day.  We went looking for her, but didn't have any luck.  Later, we learned that she was killed on a bus by a suicide bomber who crossed the border at a point where he wouldn't have been able to cross today.  Because of the fence."

The fence hasn't been finished yet.  But in 2003, it came before The Hague.  Israel built a fence – only one small section was an actual wall – and was brought before The Hague to answer for this terrible, international crime.  Later, in 2005, General Doron Almog couldn't even travel to London because he would have been arrested for war crimes.  This was in 2005, even before the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in 2008, which I'll talk about in a minute.  We all have a real problem here.

Ehud Olmert speaks on campuses in the United States, and he's denounced as a war criminal.  Defense Minister Ehud Barak – they want to arrest him in London.  And there's a warrant out against Tzipi Livni, the Opposition leader.  This is the sequence.  You all know the truth in your hearts.  This is an all-out offensive, not just against one Israeli government or another.  And we are taking action to confront it.

Some of the more problematic things derive from our genuine and just struggle to defend ourselves against a new form of warfare: terrorists who attack us while hiding behind their own civilians.  It requires tremendous domestic cohesion.  It takes doing what I did – when I stood here, as leader of the Opposition, and I said that I supported you.  I gave dozens of interviews to the media.  So did my colleagues, who also participated in Knesset delegations that defended our cause.  Nobody looked to point fingers or criticize a government that mobilized to defend the citizens of Israel.  We didn't say that it was all "your fault" just because of the international pressure or response.  Our internal cohesion is so important for our international standing and we shouldn't look for opportunities or cracks to challenge a sitting government.  Both the Government and the Opposition have to act with dignity and responsibility.

This brings me to the Palestinian issue, which is just as clear-cut as the Goldstone matter.  I spelled out two principles that almost everyone in the Knesset can rally around.

The first one is the demand that the State of Israel be recognized as a Jewish state.  This includes relinquishing any claim to a right of return – code for the destruction of the State of Israel – and an end to all other claims.  This will guarantee that peace is genuine and not just a tactic to continue fighting.

The second principle – which comes along with our recognition of the Palestinians' desire for a state of their own – is a demand for full demilitarization, so that things don't go back to the way they were.  Full demilitarization is not a piece of paper.  It's not just an agreement.  And it's not just about some Security Council resolution.  Our problem is that we'll be withdrawing from territory and the void will be immediately filled by Iran or its proxies, or by Iranian and Syrian weapons.

Our problem isn't Hezbollah or our border with Lebanon.  It's the border between Syria and Lebanon.  That's where the weapons are coming from.  And our problem with Hamas isn't a border or a seam between Israel and Gaza.  It's those 12 kilometers between Gaza and Egypt because, again, that's where the weapons are coming from.  That's why the demilitarization problem is a real one, not just about paper.  There will be talk about Security Council Resolution 1701, or about some kind of multi-lateral agreement.  But Gaza has proven that this is indeed a serious problem because most of the weapons aren't manufactured in Gaza, they're imported.  At least the effective ones are.  And they're getting even more so.

That's why we need a real solution to guarantee demilitarization.  I know what the minimal conditions need to be – and we'll discuss them too when the time comes – but were going to have to insist on more than just words.  We can't talk about a solution without talking about these two things, recognition and demilitarization, as fundamental conditions.  What I said at Bar-Ilan University, and what I've said on other occasions, represents a broad consensus that had to be forged and will gives us great strength.

But we didn't settle for mere statements.  Words are important, but actions are even more important.  We said what had to be said, but we also took action.  Member of Knesset Sarsur said the first thing we did was "promise that Judea and Samaria would be a paradise".  Well, I didn't promise it would be paradise, but I did promise economic prosperity.

Hamas turned Gaza into hell on Earth, but Judea and Samaria can be transformed.  Maybe not into paradise, but into one of the world's most prosperous economies.  In absolute terms, and not just relative growth rates.

How?  Why is the Palestinian economy, in today's global economic environment, experiencing growth of 7%, 8%, 9%, or maybe even higher?  How much would it have grown if we hadn't removed those checkpoints and barriers?  I know, we all know that there is more work ahead of us

And we did something else.  From day one, we told the Palestinians, the Americans, the Europeans, the Russians and the entire world that negotiations have to start right away.  From day one.  I think a call was even issued from right here, on the Knesset podium, to the Palestinian Authority.  And it would be an understatement to say that we've never received a response. 

We also took other steps just recently.  The US Secretary of State said they were unprecedented.  It's true.  But in your hearts, you all know the truth that from day one, we demonstrated a real willingness – reflecting the unified will of the people – to jumpstart the peace negotiations.  And I tell you that, even if not everyone agrees, we still have a real desire to complete those negotiations based on the principles I talked about earlier.

What have we gotten from the other side?  The Goldstone Report, complaints about building in Gilo and all kinds of unprecedented and unjustified preconditions.  Let me tell you where it all came from.  From expectations that this government could be branded and blamed for everything, despite these facts that I've shared with you and that you know are true.  And from the belief that conflict and criticism can take the place of the full agreement that we really need.

I'm here to tell you that internal cohesion is the most important thing that will allow us to achieve two tasks: defending ourselves against attacks on our right to self-defense and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority comes to the negotiating table, because we all know the facts.

Mr. Speaker,

This is why I say that we need to fight side-by-side, to counter the false allegations against the State of Israel, just like we've done in the past.  When we take real, unprecedented measures to resume the political process, we have to work together.  Even though we're doing some things that nobody's ever done before, I know that our desire for peace has always been shared by everyone and so, we need to work together on this.

The only real choice before you is to criticize or support.  I'm not asking Members of Knesset for any more than I asked my fellow Opposition members, when I was Opposition leader just a short while ago.  When it comes to the major issues concerning the security and foreign policy of the State of Israel, you really have just one choice.  Not to criticize for the sake of criticizing, or to find all kinds of excuses why you don't support a policy that you know is just and right for Israel at the present time.  You have only one real, responsible choice, and that's to support the Israeli government at this time.

Israeli officials: Iran close to A-Bomb

Israel Says Iran Close to Nuclear Capability
Israel also alarmed by Iran's recent test firing of its longest-range missile, previous threats by Iran's president
Robert Berger | Jerusalem 28 December 2009
Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Iran is moving quickly toward the "point of no return."  Speaking behind closed doors to the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Barak said Iran will have the technology to build a nuclear bomb by early next year and could produce one in 2011.
Cabinet Minister Yuval Steinitz is a former chairman of the committee.
"Iran is trying to gain nuclear weapons.  And if nothing serious, nothing dramatic will be done by the West, it will get there in a year or two," he said.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Steinitz says Israel has proof that the Islamic Republic is building the atom bomb.
"There are good, I would say even excellent evidence and intelligence showing that this is the case.  And this is crystal clear to all Western intelligence services," he added.
Israel is alarmed by Iran's recent test firing of its longest-range missile and previous threats by its president to wipe the Jewish state "off the map."  So Israeli leaders are calling for tougher international sanctions on Iran before it is too late.
But Israel has warned time and again that if diplomacy fails, it might launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Gazan Child Healed in Haifa

A build up of fluid causing pressure within the eyeball is called glaucoma and it's not "Good News". When that condition is present at birth then the baby is blind and requires very intricate surgery.

This is what happened to Halla a little girl from the Gaza Strip who was brought to Carmel Medical Center in Haifa (just 5 mins down the road from where I live) at the age of ten months and blind from birth. Ophthalmologists at the hospital performed two operations one after the other, the first, to drain the fluid and the second and more complicated procedure, to implant microscopic tubes to maintain the drainage process.

The fairy tale ending – Halla can see, she reacts to her surroundings, she smiles, she laughs, she's putting on weight and doing all the things that a ten month old baby should be doing. With all the expenses being met by the Peres Peace Center all her overjoyed parents need to do is take her back home.

This beats all the negative ideology being spewed out on the Gazans radio, TV and newspapers

(Some) Iranians finally understand Mullahs are worse than Shah; Reuters fantasizes

It took Iranians a long time to figure out that a regime that murders people, dictates how they dress, hangs Bahai and homosexuals and risks military confrontation with the US just might be worse than the regime of the Shah.
Latest reports claim as many as ten were killed in the recent demonstrations.
Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency has their own axe to grind. Quoth Reuters:
The post-election turmoil has also made Iranian officials unable to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs.
Reuters has no evidence at all for any role of the "post-election turmoil" in the Iranian nuclear dispute. The Iranian government has been absolutely consistent, before and after the election, in insisting on its legitimate right to hide nuclear installations from the IAEA and continue with its uranium enrichment program. They never even hinted that they would stop this program.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 10:34 28/12/2009       
Iran opposition leader: Tehran regime worse than the Shah
By Reuters
Reformist Iranian cleric Mehdi Karoubi condemned the killing of eight protesters during Shiite Islam's most important observance a day earlier, saying the government was even more brutal than the cruel regime that was ousted by the Islamic Revolution three decades ago.
Iranian police confirmed that five people died in Tehran and at least another three in the city of Tabriz when pro-reform protesters fought security forces on Sunday, the most violent clashes since a contested June 12 presidential vote sparked political turmoil across the Islamic Republic.
"What has happened to this religious system that it orders the killing of innocent people during the holy day of Ashura?" moderate cleric Karoubi, who came fourth in the election, said in a statement, the Jaras website reported.
The shah, who was overthrown in 1979, was widely hated, and comparing a rival to him is a serious, though common, insult in Iranian politics.
Opposition websites said police opened fire on protesters in central Tehran. Eight people were killed in the capital and other Iranian cities when tens of thousands of opposition backers took to the streets, they said.
The deaths were the first in street protests since the immediate aftermath of the disputed June election.
Among the dead was opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew, whose death was described as a "martyrdom" by a Mousavi ally. State television said "unknown assailants" killed Ali Habibi Mousavi Khamene.
Police said investigations were under way into the suspicious deaths and that 300 protesters were arrested, adding that dozens of members of the security forces were injured.
State television said in a headline that "police deny involvement in killings", and said that those detained included members of a an exiled opposition group, Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (MKO). It quoted a senior police official as saying security forces had not used weapons.
Jaras said opposition politician Ebrahim Yazdi, leader of the banned Freedom Movement and foreign minister in Iran's first government after the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed shah, was detained early on Monday at his home.
Yazdi, who was also detained after the June presidential poll, is an important opposition voice in Iran but has no influence on state policy and limited popular support.
Jaras said police shot and killed four protesters in central Tehran on Sunday and that unrest had spread to other parts of Iran, including the holy city of Qom, Shiraz, Isfahan, Najafabad, Mashhad and Babol.
The reports could not be independently verified because foreign media are banned from covering protests.
The White House condemned the "unjust suppression" of civilians by the Iranian government and said the United States was on the side of protesters.
The killings showed that the confrontation between the opposition and the clerical and political establishment had entered a volatile phase, in which the security forces appeared determined to stamp out the reformist movement.
A hardline clerical group in Qom condemned the "sedition by rioters" during the Shi'ite Muslim religious ritual of Ashura, the official IRNA news agency said.
"The association of Qom theologians ... ask officials to identify those behind yesterday's events and take appropriate measures to firmly encounter and punish them according to legal and religious standards," a statement said.
The disputed re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has plunged Iran into its biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, exposing deepening divisions in its ruling elite and setting off a wave of protests that the opposition says left over 70 people dead.
Officials say the death toll was half that number, including members of a pro-government Islamic militia.
The post-election turmoil has also made Iranian officials unable to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, which the West fears is a cover to build bombs. Iran denies this.
(Editing by Jon Boyle)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reports: 9 dead in Iran protests, Khatami Speech stopped

Quite a day in Iran. New York Times reports that Basiji militia stopped a speech by former President Khatam, and Guardian reports that nine people in total were killed in protests in Tehran and other cities.
Opposition leader Mousavi's nephew 'among the fatalities' as Tehran and other cities erupt in protest and violence on holy day
 Robert Tait, Sunday 27 December 2009 16.18 GMT
The nephew of Iran's reformist opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was reported to be among at least nine people killed after the streets of Tehran and other cities erupted in violent clashes between security forces and protesters.
Ali Mousavi, 35 and a father of two, was reportedly shot through the heart after police opened fire during disturbances in Tehran's Enghelab Square.
The authorities tonight tried to assert control over Tehran by reportedly declaring a 7pm curfew and outlawing all gatherings of more than three people, a source inside the capital told the Guardian.
The move followed announcements by opposition supporters of plans to meet in some of the city's main squares and parks to mark Sham-e Ghariban, which is part of the Ashura ceremonies.
News of Mousavi's nephew's death, reported by the reformist website Parlemannews, was certain to send shock waves through Iran's opposition Green Movement.
There were reports of at least four other fatalities in Tehran and four more in Tabriz as tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered for the Shia Ashura ceremonies and to voice anger against the government.
Parlemannews reported that Mousavi had gone to Ebn-e Sina Hospital, where the body of his nephew had been taken. He was accompanied by the dead man's parents and fellow reformist politicians.
Rah-e Sabz, another reformist website, reported large crowds of people moving towards Ebn-e Sina Hospital in a show of solidarity with Mousavi after the death.
Rah-e Sabz also reported at least four other people were killed in the capital, including an elderly man who was shot through the forehead at a crossroads in Tehran city centre. Two others were said to have been shot nearby at Kalej bridge, in Enghelab Street. Rah-e Sabz, citing witnesses, said crowds held up the elderly man and started chanting slogans against Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Another person was reportedly killed after being beaten on the head with a baton, according to Rah-e Sabz.
Meanwhile, Rouydad News, another opposition site, reported that four people were killed in the northern city of Tabriz.
Crowds prevented security forces from taking away those wounded in the Tehran shootings. According to other eyewitness reports, members of the hardline Basij militia attacked demonstrators with daggers and knives.
Disturbances were also reported in Isfahan, Shiraz, Masshad, Arak and Najafabad, where the Rah-e Sabz described the situation as "severe".
Najafabad, birthplace of the dissident Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died last Sunday, has witnessed several outbreaks of unrest in the past week.
Today's religious ceremonies – marking the 7th-century death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Imam Hossein – coincides with the ritual seven-day mourning ceremonies for Montazeri, who had repeatedly criticised the government and denounced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election last summer as invalid.
Ashura ceremonies commonly feature vast crowds of people marching and beating their chests in memory of Imam Hossein, who is seen as a martyr against oppressive government. This year the opposition pledged to use the holy day to voice continued opposition to the government.
The authorities responded by warning of a huge crackdown. Hospitals and emergency services were put on alert to expect large-scale casualties.
The authorities are taking a risk in using lethal force against protesters during the Islamic month of Moharram, during which war and bloodshed is deemed to be religiously haram, or forbidden. It raises the likelihood of a series of mourning cycles, as required by Shia tradition. It was such a mourning cycle that fatally undermined the Shah's regime when it tried to suppress demonstrations in 1978.