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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Children killed in Israeli firing

Sara Ghazal, 10, was critically wounded
and died later in hospital [AFP]

Three Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli gunfire after soldiers shot at them near a rocket-launching site in the northern Gaza strip.
A doctor at the Palestinian health ministry said cousins Mahmoud Ghazal, 10, and Yehiya Ghazal, 12, were killed on Wednesday. Their cousin, Sara Ghazal, 10, was injured and died later in hospital.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops hit unidentified figures spotted near rocket launchers that were aimed at Israel. She voiced regret at the deaths of children.

The children lived in the area and were members of the same extended family.

Witnesses said they were playing and collecting scrap metal in the area, which could have included rocket launchers left by armed Palestinian groups.

A relative of the children, Wasfi Ghazal, said he heard the sound of an explosion and then children screaming. He held both Israel and the militant rocket squads responsible.

"We are victims of the occupation and victims of the misbehaviour of some of the fighters who are randomly choosing our area to target Israel," he said.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, also an adviser to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said the killing of children is unjustifiable, and condemned it in the "strongest possible terms".

"I think violence breads more violence, and hatred. This will add to the complexities and feed the fire," he said.

In Gaza, Taher Nunu, a Hamas spokesman, called the Israeli attack a "war crime" and called on Abbas to halt his meetings with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister. The two met on Tuesday.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blackout in most of Gaza City

An Israeli army spokesman said that deliveries of fuel had been
stopped for security reasons [AFP]

The electricity company said earlier on Friday that it will cut production by 6:00 pm (1500 GMT).

"We are forced to stop three out of the station's four generators," Rafiq Maliha, the director of the electricity company, said.

Gaza has a single 140-megawatt power plant that provides some three quarters of the territory's needs. All of the fuel for the plant comes from Israel.

The rest of Gaza's electricity needs is supplied by Israel, Egypt and private electricity generators.

Several districts in Gaza City and in the north of the strip lost their power after 6:00 pm, but witnesses said the current continued to flow in the south.

"We have not received fuel since Thursday morning," Maliha said. "We didn't receive any today and tomorrow is Shabat [Saturday] for the Israelis, so there won't be any. The situation is difficult."

He warned that if fuel was not delivered to the impoverished territory before Sunday morning, "electricity production will stop entirely".

Security conditions

Maliha said Israel had stopped fuel deliveries because of security conditions at the Nahal Oz crossing between the coastal strip and the Jewish state.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed to AFP that deliveries of fuel had been stopped "for security reasons".

"More than 1.4 million litres of fuel crossed from Israel into the Gaza Strip through Nahal Oz" between Sunday and Wednesday, the spokesman said.

Maliha urged "the European Union and the Palestinian Authority to intervene quickly as this will have negative consequences for Gaza, especially for hospitals."

Home to some 1.5 million people, Gaza is one of the world's most densely populated cities.

Israeli raids

Israeli troops killed two Palestinians and wounded six others during a raid near the West Bank city of Jenin on Friday, Palestinian sources said.

Palestinian security officials said that a gun battle broke out between Israeli troops and local gunmen in the village of Kafr Dan. Nour Marey, a 16-year-old boy and one gunman were killed in the attack.

An Israeli army spokesman said that "several gunmen were identified during an activity against terror infrastructure. The troops fired at them and identified hitting them."

The Abu Amar Brigades, an armed group linked to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President's Fatah faction, said that the gunman killed was one of its leaders.

Meanwhile and in a separate raid, Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at Palestinian rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas forces said on Friday.

The missiles missed the launching squad that was on its way back from firing rockets toward Israel and caused no injuries, the forces said.

The army confirmed that aircraft had fired at Palestinian fighters who launched rockets.

More than 15 rockets and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on Friday, some from the area of the air strike, the army said.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

US and Israel agree $30 billion arms deal


The US has agreed to provide Israel with $30bn in defence grants over the next decade, a 25 per cent boost aimed at countering a "resurgent" Iran and its allies.
At a signing ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday, Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state, said the US would help Israel to maintain a military advantage over its enemies.

Burns said these enemies include Iran and Syria to groups within Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.
He added that the "Middle East is a more dangerous region now even than it was 10 or 20 years ago and that Israel is facing a growing threat."

"The United States faces many of the same threats from the same organisations and countries as Israel does, and so we felt this was the right level of assistance."
A statement from the office of Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, who met the US envoy on Wednesday, said the deal "illustrates the depth of the relationship between the two countries."
The agreement represented "the commitment of the United States to the defence of Israel and preserving its qualitative superiority," the statement said.
Gulf arms deal
The aid deal will raise the US defence aid given to Israel from $2.4 billion to $3 billion a year over 10 years.
Israel has pledged to stop Iran developing
nucelar weapons [AFP]
The Bush administration said last month that it would also offer weapons worth $20 billion to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Egypt stands to get $13 billion in defence assistance over the next decade, similar to present levels.
The package - which awaits approval in the US Congress - is designed to reassure Israel and Gulf nations of Washington's commitment to the Middle East despite its problems in Iraq.
It will also well as to strengthen them in the face of the growing power of Iran and its nuclear programme.
Israel has been overhauling its armed forces since it suffered setbacks in last year's war against Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.
It is the only recipient of US defence aid allowed to spent some of the money - 26.3 per cent - on its domestic arms industries.
The rest must spent using US defence suppliers.
Israeli officials say the funds are vital for developing technologies that are used to upgrade US-supplied military hardware and guarantee a "qualitative edge".
Iranian 'threat'
Assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, Israel has vowed to prevent Iran acquiring the bomb.
Iran denies its nuclear programme has military aims. "We have an exceptionally heavy defence burden," said Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, Burns's co-signatory.
"The fact that the United States is willing to share a significant part of that burden ... is a critical element in the budget."
Burns and Fischer said the sides had not finalised details on what weaponry would be supplied to Israel under the new deal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Six killed in Israeli raids on Gaza

The Israeli army said the raid was to find a suspected tunnel network [AFP]
Israeli forces have killed six Palestinians during clashes with Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip, after Israel's army launched a raid on the Hamas-controlled area.
Hospital officials said on Tuesday that two Hamas fighters and a 40-year-old bystander were killed during the raid on the southern villages of Qarara and Abassan.

Hamas said another of its fighters and his mother were shot dead as they emerged from their home in the area.
Islamic Jihad, an armed Palestinian group, also said one of its fighters was killed during the Israeli raids.

At least 16 Palestinians were wounded in the fighting, which pitched Palestinian fighters against Israeli troops backed by attack aircraft.
Palestinians arrested
Hamas said its fighters fired rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at the Israeli troops in the largely residential area, while Israeli snipers fired at Palestinian fighters.
Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's Gaza correspondent, said that up to 80 Palestinians have also been detained by the Israeli army.

An Israeli army spokesman had said the operation was carried out to try to find a suspected tunnel network and prevent cross-border Palestinian rocket fire.
The spokesman said: "During the operation, our forces encountered gunmen and fired on them, hitting at least four."
He did not say whether any tunnels were found during the operation.
The Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed wing, said in a statement that they would fight against Israel "until either victory or martyrdom".
Israel has tried to isolate Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which the group seized by force in June in fighting with Fatah, the secular faction led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

US soldiers cleared in Haditha case

Marines cleared in Haditha massacre

Lance Corporal Sharrat will not face a court-martial in connection with the events in Haditha [Reuters]

A US marine general in Los Angeles has dropped all charges against two marines in the shooting deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha, scene of what Iraqi witnesses said was a massacre by American troops.

The dismissal on Thursday of the charges means neither Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt nor Captain Randy Stone will face a court-martial in connection with the events at Haditha, which have brought international condemnation of US troops.

Five marines still face charges in the November 19, 2005, shooting of two dozen unarmed men, women and children in Haditha, which prosecutors say came in retaliation for the death of a comrade, Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, who was killed by a roadside bomb.
Sharratt, 22, had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and Stone, 35, with dereliction of duty for failing to properly report the civilian deaths.

Chaotic clashes
Defence attorneys conceded that civilians were killed at Haditha but said they died during chaotic clashes with anti-government fighters after the roadside blast.

Captain Stone and Sharrat were among eight
marines originally charged [Reuters]

In dismissing the charges against Sharratt and Stone after what he said was an exhaustive review, Lieutenant-Genereal James Mattis cited the difficult battle conditions and a "shadowy enemy" whose forces hid among civilians.
Sharratt and Stone were among eight US marines originally charged in the Haditha case in December 2006.
Four of the defendants were charged with murder and four others with dereliction of duty.
Murder charges were dismissed in April against Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz, who has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony in the case.
Dela Cruz told a military court in May that he watched his squad leader, Sergeant Frank Wuterich, shoot down five Iraqi civilians who were trying to surrender.
Later this month Wuterich, the accused ringleader in Haditha, will face a hearing to determine if he should face a court-martial.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Israel ejects Hebron settlers

Israeli security forces have removed about two dozen Jewish settlers and supporters from two Palestinian properties they took over last year in an abandoned Palestinian market in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Hundreds of Israeli border guards moved in at dawn on Tuesday to evict the settlers from the buildings they had been occupying.

A police spokesman said 14 police officers and 12 settlers were injured during scuffles, with settlers throwing stones and showering soldiers with urine.
Five people were arrested during the operation, police said.

Settler leaders said the eviction was a criminal act and insisted that their protest was peaceful.
"This is a crime against justice and against Jewish history," said Noam Arnon, a spokesman for the Hebron settlers.
"I am sure we will return. Hebron has a long history and we will return."

Settlers as victims?

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's Jerusalem correspondent, said: "The settlers are defying the authorities and they are keen to portray themselves as the victims.
"Within a matter of weeks, the settlers will probably find a way to reoccupy the houses."
The two settler families that took over the structures said they were once owned by Jews.
About 650 Israelis live illegally in heavily guarded enclaves in Hebron, home to about 180,000 Palestinians, and have long sought to expand the Jewish presence in the biblical city.
Settlers in Hebron are among the most militant in the West Bank, territory Israel has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war.

Soldiers sentenced

The Israeli army said on Monday it sentenced several soldiers to one month's imprisonment for refusing to take part in the forced removal of the settlers.
"Of the dozen soldiers - 10 ordinary ranks and two officers - tried for 'refusing to obey orders', several were sentenced to four weeks in military prison," a military spokesman said.
The soldiers, most of them religious, told their commanding officers that they would refuse to join in the operation to evacuate the Hebron market, an army spokesman said.
"A number of soldiers from the Kfir regiment training base protested before their commanders this (Monday) morning over the task they had been given," the army said.
General Gadi Shamni, the head of the central army command, ordered the court martial of "two company commanders and some 10 soldiers, who will be removed from their unit", the army said in another statement.
Zvi Handel, an ultra-nationalist opposition legislator, expressed support for the insubordinate soldiers.
"I am proud that we have soldiers who think before obeying illegal orders and refuse to be part of a political game," he said.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Soldier Sentenced to 110 Years in Prison

Spielman received the longest sentence of four soldiers who have been convicted in the attack

A US soldier convicted of taking part in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her family has been sentenced to 110 years in prison.

Private Jesse Spielman was jailed on Saturday after he was found guilty of rape, conspiracy to commit rape, housebreaking with the intent to rape and four counts of felony murder.

The military court in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, said that Spielman was among a group of soldiers who assaulted Abeer Kassem al-Janabi, murdered her parents and sister and set fire to the family home in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.

Prosecutors did not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders, but said he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout.

"I hate the government," Paige Gerlach, Spielman's sister, screamed as the sentence was announced. "You people put him [in Iraq] and now, this happened."

Spielman, 23, received the longest sentence of any of the four soldiers who have been convicted of the attack.

He also received a dishonorable discharge, lost all pay and allowances and was demoted to the rank of enlisted man.

Plea bargain

The three other soldiers pleaded guilty under agreements with prosecutors and were given sentences ranging from five to 100 years.

The 110-year sentence was part of a plea bargain Spielman's defence had made with prosecutors restricting the number of years Spielman could serve in prison regardless of the jury's verdict.

He had pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.

Steven Green, the alleged leader of the group during the attack, will face a civilian court because he was discharged from the army before the crime came to light.

Federal prosecutors have said they will be seeking the death penalty in Green's case.

Earlier this year, Sergeant Paul Cortez and Specialist James Barker received life sentences after pleading guilty to raping al-Janabi.

Private Bryan Howard, who stood on guard during the attack, was sentenced to 27 months in jail for acting as an accessory as a lookout and obstructing justice.

Document challenged

Prosecutors rested their case against Spielman on Thursday to address Barker's story that Spielman acted as a lookout during the attack.

He had earlier testified that he had allowed investigators to draft sworn statements for him that implicated Spielman in the crime.

On Wednesday, Barker testified that parts of the document were untrue, including references to Spielman's role in the conspiracy to attack the family and his knowledge of plans to rape al-Janabi.

However, Cortez testified that Spielman stood guard as his fellow soldiers raped the girl a few feet away, and did nothing to stop the assault.

During their courts-martial, Barker and Cortez testified that they took turns raping the girl while Green shot and killed her mother, father and younger sister.

Green shot the girl in the head after raping her, they said. Her body was set on fire with kerosene to destroy any evidence, according to previous testimony.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hundreds dead by NATO air raids.

'Civilians dead' in Nato air raids

Officials and aid agencies say that about 350 Afghan civilians have been killed in air strikes this year [AFP]

Many civilians are said to be among hundreds of civilians reportedly killed in air raids by Western forces in the Afghan southern province of Helmand.
Residents told journalists women and children were among up to 300 people killed in the raids on Thursday in the remote district of Baghran, which lies to the north of Lashkar Gah.

Afghan authorities said on Friday they were checking the reports and Mohammad Hussein Andiwal, Helmand's police chief, said that at least 20 wounded civilians had been brought to a main hospital in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

"I can confirm there were heavy bombardments," Andiwal told Reuters by phone from Helmand.

"We have heard of heavy casualties too and have sent a team to investigate this."

Dan Nolan, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kabul, said: "It does appear there were a large amount of civilians killed and injured."

'Public execution'

He said Afghan government sources had said a public execution of a suspected spy carried out by the Taliban had been taking place when the aircraft struck.

Haji Hakim Jan, 27, said he lost four of his brothers in the attack.

"I had another brother of mine and an eight-year-old sister wounded in the bombing," he said

He said he believed the deaths would alienate civilians from Western troops and make people join the Taliban.

If confirmed, the deaths would be the highest civilian casualties caused by foreign troops since the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001.

'Precision' raid

The US military said in a statement late on Thursday that coalition forces had conducted a "precision" air raid against two "notorious Taliban commanders" conducting a leadership meeting in a remote area of the Baghran district on Thursday.

It said the fate of the pair was unknown.

Residents and an official said the bombings occurred as a huge crowd of people had gathered to watch the execution by Taliban fighters.

A Taliban spokesman said there was no public execution and those killed were all civilians attending a ceremony at a shrine.

There was no independent verification of the reported accounts from either side.

More than 350 civilians have been killed in operations by foreign forces this year in Afghanistan, according to government officials and aid workers.

Bridge Collapse

The Bridge had..."Cracks"

Many cars remain submerged under giant concrete slabs in the Mississippi river [GALLO/GETTY]

A collapsed bridge in the US city of Minneapolis was rated "structurally deficient" twice, in 1990 and 2005, federal officials have said, adding that the warnings were ignored by the state, which relied on a strategy of patchwork fixes instead.

Wednesday's collapse of the bridge in Minnesota state over the Mississippi river has led to orders by the government to inspect more than 70,000 bridges across the country previously found with a variety of structural defects.

The US congress is working on a $250m federal aid package for the disaster which happened on the Interstate 35W bridge during rush hour on Wednesday.

The official toll stands at four, with 79 injuries.

Current News.

Sorry everybody, I'll post some news now. I've been posting about issues that exist and were never resolved, but now, I'll post current news.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

How to Create a Terrorist

1. Take a happily married man with a couple of kids, a comfortable house, and a reasonable job.
2. Drop a bomb on his house while he is at work.
3. Tell this man his wife and kids are dead.
4. Let him see what remains of his house and family.
5. Bomb his workplace.
6. Destroy the infrastructure around him.
7. Give him some time to contemplate the circumstances of his life.

“Terrorist” created.

The “War on Terror”, by its design, will exponentially create “terrorists”.

What media can do ~ George Galloway