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Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch 5/22/2015
Meet the Real Israeli Defense Force: the US Congress
It started as a rather melancholy Friday afternoon in the West Bank. Nothing unusual. Just another funeral for a promising young man who died much too young. Under the implacable shadow of the Wall and in the rifle sights of Israeli soldiers, more than 200 mourners walked down the cobbled street toward the old cemetery in the village of Beit Ummar. Some shouted angrily at the soldiers, condemning Israel for yet another senseless death.
The funeral was for a college student, Jafaar Awad, who slipped into a coma and died only two months after being released from an Israeli prison, where his serious illness had festered untreated for months. Awad was only 22 when he died, as have so many other Palestinian prisoners, from medical neglect at the hands of Israeli jailers.
As his family huddled around his grave, the IDF launched a dozen tear gas canisters toward the mourners, scattering the stunned grouping. Then automatic weapons fire strafed the crowd, bullets hitting more than a dozen people, including Jafaar’s cousin Ziad Awad. Ziad was struck in the back, the bullet piercing his spine. He was rushed to the Al Ahli Hospital in Hebron, where he died of his wounds. KillingTrayvons1Ziad was only 28
A few hours after Ziad’s murder at the hands of Israeli snipers, the IDF issued a terse statement saying that Israeli soldiers fired on the crowd of mourners after people where seen throwing stones.
I’m surprised the IDF even felt compelled to issue a justification for a kind of killing that has become routine: kids were throwing stones, skipping rocks, jumping rope, blowing bubbles, tossing dirt on an open grave. They had no option but to shoot. more.. e-mail Playing with fire: IDF to use new weapon on West Bank protests
Natasha Roth, +972 Magazine 5/22/2015
A new type of sponge-tipped bullet introduced in East Jerusalem last summer has broken arms, fractured faces, destroyed eyesight and killed a teenager. Now a similar projectile is slated for use against Palestinians in the West Bank.
Following the introduction last summer of a new type of sponge-tipped bullet into the Israel Police’s arsenal, the Israeli army is now set to begin using a similar projectile in order to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank, according to Ynet [Heb]. The new bullets will be phased in during the coming weeks as a pilot, following which they will be distributed among routine army units.
The debut of the new black sponge-tipped bullets in Jerusalem brought with it facial fractures, broken arms, eye loss (predominantly among children) and at least one death. The bullets are a harder version of the blue sponge-tipped bullets previously used by police; made out of heavier material (synthetic rubber), they are far more likely to cause serious injury.
The army officer interviewed in Ynet’s report claimed that the new bullets for the IDF have been purchased from a different manufacturer to those used by the Israel Police, and have undergone more rigorous testing. The officer further asserted that their new sponge-tipped bullets are less dangerous than those deployed in East Jerusalem.
However, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has thrown this claim into doubt. ACRI attorney Anne Suciu stated that the army’s new sponge-tipped bullets will be “at least as hard as those used by the police.” Although they will be blue — the same color as the old, softer bullets — they are weapons of a different grade, as the original blue sponge-tipped bullets have been deemed “ineffective” in dispersing protests. more.. e-mail The Palestinians between reconciliation and national unity
Abdul Sattar Qassem, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) 5/21/2015
All Palestinians, on every level and front, are concerned with the issue of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. A lot is focused on the search for this elusive concord.
Many Arab states and Palestinian domestic parties have tried to mediate a reconciliation agreement in an effort to end this devastating division affecting the people of Palestine; there has not been much success. In fact, every time that such an agreement is signed, something happens to disappoint the people. They used to rejoice at the announcement of every such agreement between the various factions but their joy and celebration was short-lived because the parties would often go against the document that they had just signed.
The Palestinians have suffered from the conduct of these factions and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for many years. For this reason, much of the trust that was placed in leaders has been lost; many believe that these leaders are only concerned in advancing their own agendas at the expense of the Palestinian cause.
This is a destructive situation because a loss of trust means a loss of the ability to develop strategies that will elevate the status and the prestige of the cause. The loss of trust means the deterioration of basic values in society, namely teamwork and mutual cooperation; ultimately, this means the inability to face challenges. The Palestinian issue is a big issue, and there are many strong players, but if the Palestinian people themselves become weak then that will open the door to many outside interventions.
It will very difficult for the two main Palestinian factions to reach a reconciliation agreement for many reasons, among them the security coordination that is taking place between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation, which forces PA security agencies to ensure Israel's security. This has been the sticking point for several reconciliation efforts. more.. e-mail Analysis: Global Politics at a Turning Point – Part 1
Prem Shankar Jha, Inter Press Service 5/10/2015
"Nine months later, he found out how Israel had abused the trust the United States reposed in it, and come within a hairsbreadth of pushing it into an attack on Syria..."
NEW DELHI, (IPS) - President Barack Obama’s Nowroz greeting to the Iranian people earlier this year was the first clear indication to the world that the United States and Iran were very close to agreement on the contents of the nuclear agreement they had been working towards for the previous 16 months.
In contrast to two earlier messages which were barely veiled exhortations to Iranians to stand up to their obscurantist leaders, Obama urged “the peoples and the leaders of Iran” to avail themselves of “the best opportunity in decades to pursue a different relationship between our countries.”
This moment, he warned, “may not come again soon (for) there are people in both our countries and beyond, who oppose a diplomatic solution.”
Barely a fortnight later that deal was done. Iran had agreed to a more than two-thirds reduction in the number of centrifuges it would keep, although a question mark still hung over the timing of the lifting of sanctions against it. The agreement came in the teeth of opposition from hardliners in both Iran and the United States.
Looking back at Obama’s unprecedented overtures to Iran, his direct phone call to President Hassan Rouhani – the first of its kind in 30 years – and his letter to Ayatollah Khamenei in November last year, it is clear in retrospect that they were products of a rare meeting of minds between him and Rouhani and their foreign ministers John Kerry and Muhammad Jawad Zarif that may have occurred as early as their first meetings in September 2013. -- See also: Analysis: Global Politics at a Turning Point – Part 2 more.. e-mail
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