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Category Archives: Palestine

Palestine: Policewoman attacks woman, snatches her veil & Israeli runs over a family

Israeli policewoman attacks Palestinian woman, snatches her veil

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Fistfights were reported between worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque and Israeli police forces on Thursday after a policewoman attacked a Palestinian woman and snatched her veil.

Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that Israeli police blocked entry of worshipers less than 50 years old into the holy site while allowing hoards of settlers free access at the pretext of Jewish feasts.

They said that friction occurred as a result at Bab El-Nadher, one of the Aqsa gates, and the policewoman assaulted the Palestinian woman leading to the fistfight.

Israeli occupation forces usually allow Muslim worshipers to enter the Aqsa only after handing over their IDs at the gates.

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IOF raze commercial structures in Barta’a town

JENIN, (PIC)– the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) demolished on Thursday morning a commercial complex and two garages in the industrial zone of Barta’a town after declaring it a closed military zone.

Eyewitnesses told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that a number of Israeli bulldozers and military vehicles stormed at about 05:30 in the morning the town, which is located behind the segregation wall to the southwest of Jenin.

They added that the invading troops declared the town a closed military zone and prevented all Palestinian cars from going in or out.

They also said that the bulldozers headed under military protection to the commercial zone north of the town and embarked on razing a commercial center of seven stores belonging to a Palestinian citizen.

The bulldozers also knocked down two auto repair garages owned by two Palestinian citizens from the town, according to them.

Consequently, the demolition campaign in the town triggered violent clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian citizens.

During the events, the invading troops fired a hail of tear gas grenades at the angry citizens, which led to severe suffocation cases among them and caused one of the garages to catch fire.

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Israeli settler runs over a Palestinian family in Bethlehem

BETHLEHHEM, (PIC)– An Israeli settler has deliberately run over a Palestinian family, consisting of man and two ladies, in Bethlehem, where they were transferred immediately to hospital.

Spokesman for emergency services in Bethlehem said that three Palestinians have been injured after an Israeli settler run them over in Umm Salamuna village near Gush Etzion settlement.

Palestinian medical sources confirmed that the Israeli ambulance crews have transferred the wounded to hospital in occupied territories in 1948. Two of them were seriously injured while the third is in a stable condition.

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50 settlers storm al-Aqsa mosque

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Dozens of extremist settlers broke into the sanctuary yards of Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday morning, while the IOF prevented Palestinian worshipers under 50 years from entering the mosque.

Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said that the Israeli soldiers have prevented Palestinians, under 50 years, from performing Fajr (dawn) prayers, forcing them to pray outside the mosque.

Meanwhile, 50 Jewish settlers stormed al-Aqsa mosque through al-Magharbeh Gate and wandered through its yards under military protection.

The Foundation pointed that the Palestinian worshipers protested the Israeli heavy security measures on the mosque’s gates, chanting Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest).

Jewish organizations gathering under the name of “the Coalition for the Temple” have called on settlers to storm the Mosque next Saturday. They called upon the police to allow them to celebrate the Yom Kippur holiday in al-Aqsa mosque.

Israeli police spokesman Yohanna Danino has announced that Israeli police have agreed to give permission for Jews to enter into the Mosque on Saturday, considering it a part of the so-called “Jewish Temple”. He said, “That is an undisputed right for Jews.”

NSA shares raw data about US citizens with ’Israel’

Al Ahed news

A top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed Thursday that the National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with “Israel” without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its “Israeli” counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the “Israelis”.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the “Israelis” would be in its pre-minimized state.

The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing.

The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the US and “Israeli” intelligence agencies “pertaining to the protection of US persons”, repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for “Israeli” intelligence staff to respect these rights.

But this is undermined by the disclosure that “Israel” is allowed to receive “raw Sigint” – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: “Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content.”

According to the agreement, the intelligence being shared would not be filtered in advance by NSA analysts to remove US communications. “NSA routinely sends ISNU the so-called “Israeli” Sigint National Unit] minimized and unminimized raw collection”, it says.

“This agreement is not intended to create any legally enforceable rights and shall not be construed to be either an international agreement or a legally binding instrument according to international law,” the document says.

In a statement to the Guardian, an NSA spokesperson did not deny that personal data about Americans was included in raw intelligence data shared with the Israelis. But the agency insisted that the shared intelligence complied with all rules governing privacy.

“Any US person information that is acquired as a result of NSA’s surveillance activities is handled under procedures that are designed to protect privacy rights,” the spokesperson said.

The NSA declined to answer specific questions about the agreement, including whether permission had been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court for handing over such material.

The memorandum of understanding, which the Guardian published in full, allows Tel Aviv to retain “any files containing the identities of US persons” for up to a year. The agreement requests only that the “Israelis” should consult the NSA’s special liaison adviser when such data is found.

Notably, a much stricter rule was set for US government communications found in the raw intelligence. The “Israelis” were required to “destroy upon recognition” any communication “that is either to or from an official of the US government”. Such communications included those of “officials of the executive branch (including the White House, cabinet departments, and independent agencies), the US House of Representatives and Senate (member and staff) and the US federal court system (including, but not limited to, the supreme court)”.

It is not clear whether any communications involving members of US Congress or the federal courts have been included in the raw data provided by the NSA, nor is it clear how or why the NSA would be in possession of such communications. In 2009, however, the New York Times reported on “the agency’s attempt to wiretap a member of Congress, without court approval, on an overseas trip”.

The NSA is required by law to target only non-US persons without an individual warrant, but it can collect the content and metadata of Americans’ emails and calls without a warrant when such communication is with a foreign target. US persons are defined in surveillance legislation as US citizens, permanent residents and anyone located on US soil at the time of the interception, unless it has been positively established that they are not a citizen or permanent resident.

Moreover, with much of the world’s internet traffic passing through US networks, large numbers of purely domestic communications also get scooped up incidentally by the agency’s surveillance programs.

The document mentions only one check carried out by the NSA on the raw intelligence, saying the agency will “regularly review a sample of files transferred to ISNU to validate the absence of US persons’ identities”. It also requests that the “Israelis” limit access only to personnel with a “strict need to know”.

“Israeli” intelligence is allowed “to disseminate foreign intelligence information concerning US persons derived from raw Sigint by NSA” on condition that it does so “in a manner that does not identify the US person”. The agreement also allows “Israel” to release US person identities to “outside parties, including all INSU customers” with the NSA’s written permission.

“Balancing the Sigint exchange equally between US and “Israeli” needs has been a constant challenge,” states the report, titled ‘History of the US – “Israel” Sigint Relationship, Post-1992′. “In the last decade, it arguably tilted heavily in favor of Israeli security concerns. 9/11 came, and went, with NSA’s only true Third Party [counter-terrorism] relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner.”

In another top-secret document seen by the Guardian, dated 2008, a senior NSA official points out that “Israe”l aggressively spies on the US. “On the one hand, the “Israelis” are extraordinarily good Sigint partners for us, but on the other, they target us to learn our positions on Middle East problems,” the official says. “A NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] ranked them as the third most aggressive intelligence service against the US.”

Later in the document, the official is quoted as saying: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like “Israel”. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”

The memorandum of understanding also contains hints that there had been tensions in the intelligence-sharing relationship with “Israel”. At a meeting in March 2009 between the two agencies, according to the document, it was agreed that the sharing of raw data required a new framework and further training for “Israeli” personnel to protect US person information.

However, an earlier US document obtained by Snowden, which discusses co-operating on a military intelligence program, bluntly lists under the cons: “Trust issues which revolve around previous ISR ["Israel"] operations.

The Guardian asked the Obama administration how many times US data had been found in the raw intelligence, either by the “Israelis” or when the NSA reviewed a sample of the files, but officials declined to provide this information. Nor would they disclose how many other countries the NSA shared raw data with, or whether the Fisa court, which is meant to oversee NSA surveillance programs and the procedures to handle US information, had signed off the agreement with “Israel”.

In its statement, the NSA said: “We are not going to comment on any specific information sharing arrangements, or the authority under which any such information is collected. The fact that intelligence services work together under specific and regulated conditions mutually strengthens the security of both nations.”

WMD double standards: CIA documents reveal Israeli stockpile of chemical weapons

by Saed Bannoura, source

A newly-discovered document of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency revealed Monday by Foreign Policy magazine shows that the U.S. agency had decisive evidence dating back to at least the 1980s that Israel had a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

The revelation comes in the midst of the reported use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on August 21st.

The document revealed by Foreign Policy magazine on Monday shows that, in addition to building up a nuclear stockpile of an estimated three hundred nuclear weapons during the 1960s and 70s, the Israeli military also developed an extensive stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

The 1983 document stated that U.S. spy satellites had identified “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve agent production facility and a storage facility… at the Dimona Sensitive Storage Area in the Negev Desert. Other CW production is believed to exist within a well-developed Israeli chemical industry.”

“While we cannot confirm whether the Israelis possess lethal chemical agents,” the document adds, “several indicators lead us to believe that they have available to them at least persistent and nonpersistent nerve agents, a mustard agent, and several riot-control agents, marched with suitable delivery systems.”

The single page of a larger CIA report was discovered at the Ronald Reagan Library in California in its unredacted form – the report had been released several years ago to the National Archives, but was heavily censored.

According to the Foreign Policy report, “Israeli historian Avner Cohen, in his 1988 book Israel and the Bomb, wrote that Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion secretly ordered that a stockpile of chemical weapons be built at about the time of the 1956 war between Israel and Egypt. The CIA, on the other hand, believed that Israel did not begin work on chemical weapons until either the late 1960s or the early 1970s.

The article included the following assessment from the 1983 CIA report: “Israel, finding itself surrounded by frontline Arab states with budding CW [chemical weapons] capabilities, became increasingly conscious of its vulnerability to chemical attack. Its sensitivities were galvanized by the capture of large quantities of Soviet CW-related equipment during both the 1967 Arab-Israeli and the 1973 Yom Kippur wars. As a result, Israel undertook a program of chemical warfare preparations in both offensive and protective areas.”

The Israeli government has harshly criticized the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons three weeks ago, and has encouraged President Obama’s pledge to respond militarily.

Israel did sign the Convention to Ban Chemical Weapons, but the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) never ratified the treaty. Israel has never opened its nuclear facility or its chemical weapons stockpile to international inspections.

Palestine: Usual Israeli rampage in several areas & ’Prisoner X’ family given $1M

Maan Images

Maan Images

Jewish extremists from price tag vandalize public buses in Silwan

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Members of the terrorist Jewish group known as the price tag gang punctured tires of three big public buses and spray-painted anti-Arab slurs on them in Thawri neighborhood of Silwan district, south of the Aqsa Mosque.

Local sources reported that the sabotaged buses are owned by a Palestinian company and used to transport passengers from the district to Bethlehem and vice versa.

They added that the Israeli police did not even come to the scene to investigate the incident, noting that the owners of the bus company would lodge a complaint in this regard with the Israeli complaint center Mahesh.

Since its emergence, the price tag gang had carried out many different attacks against Palestinian property and religious sites, including arson attacks on mosques and churches.

Their attacks take the form of not only graffiti and vandalism at religious sites, but also attempted murders, burning crops, killing livestock, terrorizing villagers, and poisoning water sources.

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Hundreds of trees in Nablus on fire after settlers’ attack

NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish settlers started a huge fire in lands of Deir Hatab village, Nablus province, on Wednesday morning that destroyed hundreds of trees.

Abdulkarim Suleiman, the village’s municipality chairman, said that the settlers started fire in dozens of dunums, adding that the fire was still raging in the land to which Palestinians are banned from entering without prior coordination.

He charged the Israeli occupation forces with blocking arrival of Palestinian fire brigades to the scene to extinguish the blaze that destroyed hundreds of trees.

Suleiman said that the land is 1500 meters away from the village, adding that it was not the first time that settlers started fire in it.

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Aqsa foundation warns of new Israeli attempt to falsify Arab identity of J’lem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage said that the latest Israeli claims about finding historical stone engravings near the Aqsa Mosque is another attempt to liquidate the Arab and Islamic civilization of the holy city of Jerusalem and promote the Jewish temple lie.

The foundation stated on Tuesday that the new Zionist allegations in this regard are aimed to change the reality on the ground and cement the Jewish lies about the alleged temple.

The foundation stressed that the fraud campaigns that are led by Israeli archeologists are politicized and aimed at proving the existence of Jewish heritage in Jerusalem, especially in the Umayyad Palaces area near the southern wall of the Aqsa Mosque.

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150 settlers storm al-Aqsa mosque this morning

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Nearly 150 Jewish settlers stormed al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday led by rabbis telling them about the alleged temple.

A state of tension has prevailed among the Muslim worshipers who protested the presence of the Jewish settlers in the Islamic holy site.

The Aqsa Association for Religious Endowments (Waqf) and Heritage called on the Arab and Islamic world to take firm positions to protect al-Aqsa mosque from the Israeli serious schemes. The foundation also stressed the need to intensify the Muslim presence in al-Aqsa mosque.

The settlers’ raid into al-Aqsa mosque came in light of the Israeli Coalition for the Temple’s calls to open the mosque for Jews on Saturday to perform their rituals as they mark Yom Kippur (Day of Repentance). An Israeli parliament committee has approved in an unprecedented move the opening of al-Aqsa Mosque yards for Jews to perform their rituals inside it during this month.

The foundation stated that such measure came in an attempt to impose a status quo on the mosque and to divide it.

For its part, Hamas movement strongly condemned the Israeli decision to allow Jewish settlers to perform their rituals in al-Aqsa mosque.

The Israeli decision came in total provocation to Muslims’ religious feelings, the spokesman of the movement said.

The movement called on the Arab and Islamic nation to bear its responsibility towards al-Aqsa mosque in light of the Israeli escalated schemes.

Hamas stated that PA decision to resume talks provides a cover to the Israeli crimes through the securing coordination and the prosecution of resistance leaders in West Bank.

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25 Jerusalemite students injured in clashes with IOF soldiers

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli border police assaulted students of Abu Dis university in occupied Jerusalem while on their way home on Monday night wounding 25 of them.

A Jerusalemite activist said in a press release on Tuesday that ten students were injured with rubber bullets while 15 others were treated for breathing problems.

He said that the students could only find stones to defend themselves, adding that the wounded students were taken to a medical emergency center in Abu Dis.

Young men of nearby villages joined the students in defending themselves and clashes spread to areas near the university. The varsity guards managed to evacuate the entire campus.

Israeli occupation forces (IOA) had launched a similar assault a couple of days earlier in which 78 students were injured. IOF soldiers twice attacked the university students over the past week.

Deputy executive manager of the university Emad Abu Kishek said that the Israeli attacks, which coincide with the start of the new academic year, aim at destabilizing the university and frustrating students wishing to join it in future years.

The same practice by the Israeli military was made last year at the start of the 2012-2013 academic year.

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Aqsa Brigades: Resistance Attacks against Israel to Begin Friday

Al Manar

Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades called on all units to consider next Friday as the “first day of popular resistance against the Israeli occupation in the well-known places of confrontation.”Aqsa Martyrs Brigades

A statement released by the Brigades, which is Fatah’s military wing, called on all units and sleeper cells to prepare for a confrontation with the Israeli occupation beginning on Friday. The statement further added there will be a “green light” to carry out attacks.

The statement also referred to the events that take place at the al-Aqsa Mosque on a daily basis by the occupation. “We are all witnessing the invasion by herds of settlers to the compound and (they) harm the worshippers without any intervention from the international community,” the statement read.

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“Israel” to Give ’Prisoner X’ family $1M Payout

Al Ahed news

“Israel” is to pay more than $1 million to the family of a Mossad spy who hanged himself in prison in 2010.

“After negotiations, the two parties ["Israel" and the family] have reached an agreement whereby the state will pay 4 million shekels [$1.1 million or 842,000 euros] to the deceased’s family,” the so-called “Israeli” “justice” ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The family of Ben Zygier, an Australian-“Israeli” known as “Prisoner X,” had accused the Zionist entity of negligence in dealing with his case, according to the statement.

Zygier was found hanged in his isolation cell in Ayalon prison near Tel Aviv in December 2010 – a case “Israel” went to extreme lengths to cover up.

A court document released on April 25 this year said “Israel’s” prison service had caused Zygier’s death by failing to prevent him from committing suicide.

The document revealed details about his background and imprisonment, indicating he was suicidal and had an emotionally-charged exchange with his wife the day he was found hanged.

It also said that his cell was not properly watched by prison guards.

The justice ministry statement stressed that the deal with Zygier’s family was not an “admission of alleged wrongdoing”.

It was instead “to avoid the affair going to court, which would lead to the publication of numerous details of the case which could cause serious harm to “Israeli” security.”

The reasons for Zygier’s detention were unclear, but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said in a report in May that the 34-year-old, who was working for “Israel’s” foreign spy service Mossad, had unwittingly sabotaged a top secret spy operation in Lebanon.

Palestine: Warnings about storming AlAqsa & fishing boats seized

Mufti of Jerusalem warns of the seriousness of Jewish calls for storming Al-Aqsa

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine Sheikh Mohammad Hussein warned of the growing Israeli calls for storming Al-Aqsa Mosque and tightening the Jewish control over it.

The last of these calls was by the occupation Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino in which he falsely claimed the right of Jews to pray inside Al-Aqsa considering it one of the yards the alleged temple.

Sheikh Hussein said in a statement on Tuesday: “The remarks and practices by the occupation authorities against the holy sites, particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque, represent serious violations.”

He warned of the consequences of the attitude of silence regarding these calls that carry serious intentions against the holy sites, as he said.

Hussein pointed out that the calls for storming Al-Aqsa Mosque comes after similar calls by the Jewish rabbis to demolish the Aqsa and build the alleged temple on its ruins, which refers to the “imminent danger faced by the Islamic Mosque that must be protected by all Muslims.”

The preacher of Al-Aqsa mosque appealed to Palestinian citizens in the city of Jerusalem and the 1948 territories to flock to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and defend it against the Jewish attacks.

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Israeli navy seizes two Palestinian fishing boats

GAZA, (PIC)– Israeli navy forces seized two Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah south of Gaza Strip at dawn Tuesday.

Security sources told the PIC reporter that the Israeli navy towed the two boats with their fishing nets after shooting at them.

Palestinian fishermen are constant targets for the Israeli navy in line with the daily harassment of Palestinians in the Strip and means of earning their living.

Palestine: Dozens of olive trees uprooted & demolition notifications

(Palestine, file photo)

Settlers uproot dozens of olive trees in Yatta

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– A number of settlers uprooted on Sunday evening more than forty olive trees in Yatta, south of al-Khalil in the southern West Bank.

Activist Rateb Jabour told PIC that the settlers stormed Khirbet Homra to the east of Yatta, and started uprooting more than 40 olive trees under the protection of the occupation forces.

Dozens of settlers carried out similar attacks in areas south of al-Khalil. They prevented farmers from entering their lands and threatened to open fire at them.

Meanwhile, the settlers broke the windows of a number of Palestinian vehicles in Nablus.

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IOA notifies the demolition of 2 buildings in Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) notified on Sunday the demolition of two buildings in Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank.

The so-called Israeli Civil Administration stormed Khader town in Bethlehem and handed a notification for the demolition of a house and agricultural barn under the pretext of being built without a permit, local sources confirmed.

The sources said that elements of the Civil Administration handed over the Palestinian citizen Nader Salah notifications to demolish his house and an agricultural barn under the pretext of being built without a permit and next to the Apartheid Wall.

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Occupation notifies demolition of commercial structures in Silwan

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Jerusalem Municipality handed out on Sunday afternoon administrative demolition orders against a number of commercial structures, and a sports stadium in the town of Silwan in Jerusalem, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

The Information Center in Wadi Hilwa reported that the Israeli municipal teams and forces raided the town and notified the demolition of the Stadium of Wadi Hilweh.

It added the stadium is set up on an area of 850 square meters and includes 4 huts, 3 of which for horses and one for sports equipment.

Residents of Wadi Hilweh neighborhood transferred the land into a playground in late 2010, however after several months the occupation authorities demolished a hut set up in the stadium, in addition to bulldozing the land.

The Municipal teams also handed out demolition orders to the owners of 3 shops built 20 years ago in the neighborhood of Wadi Hilweh, under the pretext of unlicensed construction.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that the occupation Municipal teams also notified the demolition of 3 shops for selling birds, built since 2001.

Palestine: Soldiers burn down ancient olive trees, break gate of monastery & workers wounded

IOF soldiers burn down ancient olive trees, break gate of monastery

BETHLEHEM, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) burned down a number of olive trees, some of which are one thousand years old, and broke the gate of a monastery south of Bethlehem on Saturday evening.

Ahmed Salah, the coordinator of anti-wall and settlement committees in Al-Khader village, said that IOF soldiers fired teargas and stun grenades at areas belonging to the Mar Jeriess monastery in the Old City of Al-Khader.

The resultant fire burned down ancient olive trees, Salah said, adding that the soldiers attacked the monastery and destroyed its main gate. He said that the soldiers warned against rebuilding the gate.

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Jewish settlers attack, damage Palestinian vehicles

NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian vehicles passing along the Nablus-Ramallah road and damaged 25 cars.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of settlement activity north of the West Bank, said that Israeli occupation forces closed the Hawara roadblock, south of Nablus, after the attack. The settlers threw rocks and empty bottles on the passing cars.

In another incident, IOF patrols set up roadblocks in various areas of Salfit province and searched buses.

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IOF soldiers shoot, wound Palestinian workers

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) shot at and wounded two Palestinian workers for trying to cross the separation wall near Daheriya town in Al-Khalil province.

Quds Press quoted local sources as saying that an IOF patrol chased a vehicle carrying the workers on Saturday and shot at them wounding two of the workers in their feet.

The sources said that both workers are from Yatta town in Al-Khalil, describing the injuries of one of them as moderate.

They said that one of the workers was taken to a hospital in Al-Khalil while the other was taken to an Israeli hospital.

IOF soldiers have been increasing their chase of Palestinian workers trying to enter the Green Line over the past week especially on Friday and Saturday.

Palestine: More than 40 Palestinians kidnapped in Aroub refugee camp raids

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Saturday kidnapped more than 40 Palestinians from their homes in Aroub refugee camp, north of Al-Khalil city.

Local sources told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that scores of Israeli troops accompanied by intelligence officers stormed the camp and carried out violent raids on homes, which caused widespread panic among children and women.

They added that more than 40 Palestinian young men and children, mostly students, were taken prisoners under different pretexts during the campaign.

They noted that the IOF handcuffed and blindfolded the detainees and dealt with them together with their families violently and without any mercy.

In an earlier incident on Thursday afternoon, fierce clashes broke out between dozens of Palestinian young men and invading troops in Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Al-Khalil.

Eyewitnesses told the PIC that the clashes happened after the IOF stormed the camp and embarked on firing tear gas grenades at a group of Palestinian young men.

They added that tear gas grenades fell onto some Palestinian homes causing children and women to suffer severe suffocation.

On the evening of the same day, the IOF established a checkpoint on the bypass road known as Route 60, north of Al-Khalil, and intercepted cars for search.

Eyewitnesses told the PIC that the IOF at this checkpoint detained a 20-year-old university student identified as Subhi Jawabra for one and a half hours before taking him in chain to Etzion detention center.

The IOF also set up a checkpoint near Tarama area, south of Al-Khalil, and embarked on searching Palestinian cars without any reported detentions.

Palestine: IOF stormed Aqsa & report-Gaza blockade, “slow death” and “collective punishment”

IOF storms Aqsa Mosque after Friday prayers and fire tear gas grenades

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque after Friday prayers and fired tear gas and stun grenades.

Eyewitnesses said that large forces of Israeli police raided the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa mosque and started firing tear gas and stun grenades while the young men responded by throwing stones at the occupation forces.

Many worshipers suffered suffocation due to gas inhalation.

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Due to the Jewish holidays, Palestinian freedom of movement restricted

JENIN, (PIC)– Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have prevented residents, living in Barta’a, Um Rayhan, and Daher Maleh villages in Jenin isolated behind the Apartheid Wall, from leaving their villages.

The Israeli authority has informed the residents of its decision to restrict their movement out of these villages located behind the Apartheid Wall till next Sunday under the pretext of Yom Kippur Jewish holiday.

Following the Israeli decision, 13,000 Palestinians including students, workers, and farmers have been isolated in their villages.

Head of Barta’a village council urged the international human rights organizations to stand by the villagers who suffer from the continued and escalated Israeli violations.

In another context, the Israeli forces detained a Palestinian citizen for several hours at a military checkpoint under the pretext that he raised the Palestinian flag on his vehicle.

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International Report: Gaza Blockade, “Slow Death” and “Collective Punishment”

GENEVA, (PIC)– The EuroMid Observer for Human Rights has issued a field report documenting the social, economic, and humanitarian crisis that engulfed Gaza over the past few years since the imposition of the siege by Israeli authorities back in 2006 especially in light of the political “change” in Egypt which negatively affected Gaza.

According to International law, Israel bears great responsibility as well as Egypt for caging over 1.6 million people in an open air prison, where the basic food and fuel commodities have become scarce as Egypt closed great majority of the tunnels used in smuggling these needs, the report said.

The field report, issued in cooperation with the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London and Malaysian Organization (MAPIM), stated that over a third (35.5%) of those able and willing to work are unemployed (PCBS) – one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Economists expect that the continuous closure of the tunnels will lead to a sharp increase in the unemployment level (43% by the end of 2013 compared with 32% in June 2013).

Meanwhile, the construction sector is working with less than 15% of its previous capacity leading to more than 30,000 losses in job opportunities since July 2013, the report added.

The economy has endured severe losses worth of $460 million in all economic sectors within the past two months, while the incessant closure of the tunnels will lead to a 3% decline in the growth by the end of 2013 compared with 15% as of June 2013, the field report revealed.

Raw materials make up the majority of imports volumes from the Egyptian tunnels. Prior to the new measures, Gaza’s businesses received more than 45% of the needed row materials via the tunnels leading to noticeable increase in the operating businesses. Currently and due to Egyptian measures more than 60% of industrial businesses are shut down and the rest operate at partial capacity. The sector is currently employing 7,500 workers down from 27,000 prior to June 30, 2013 (35,000 prior to 2006).

A longstanding electricity deficit, compounded by shortages in fuel needed to run Gaza’s power plant, results in power outages of up to 12 hours a day.

Only a quarter of households receive running water every day, during several hours only, while over 90% of the water extracted from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption. Some 90 million liters of untreated and partially treated sewage are dumped in the sea off the Gaza coast each day, creating public health hazards.

The Egyptian authorities have lately tightened controls on the Rafah passenger crossing, Gaza’s main access to the outside world. The Gaza-Egypt relation has been strained over the blockade of Gaza and the Egyptian campaign in the past year to shut down the tunnels. By the end of July 2013, the Egyptian army had destroyed all the tunnels, leading to a stern crisis in fuel supplies that threatens to close almost 137 petrol stations in the besieged territory upon which most Palestinians rely.

In July 2013, 27% (128 types) of essential medicines were at zero stock in the Central Drug Store in Gaza and 16% (78 types) were at low stock (between 1-3 months’ supply), the report documented.

In the entire month of July, Egyptian Authorities allowed 6,236 Palestinians to cross into Egypt. This is 30% less than those who crossed monthly in June. During the entire month of August 2013, 3,340 Palestinians have crossed into Egypt, this is 25% of those who crossed before June 2013.

The EuroMid Observer for Human Rights therefore urgently demands the International Community to help alleviate immediately the blockade on the Gaza Strip. The report also called on the Israeli authorities to dismantle the blockade and to end the targeting of innocent people, which is in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention.

The Geneva based organization also called on the Egyptian government to open the Rafah Crossing for passengers and goods, without any restrictions.

It urged the International community, and the EU and the US in particular, to initiate and support the need for a seaport in Gaza that guarantees the free import and export of goods and private international travel. Commitments for the seaport in Gaza not only address a priority and need of the Palestinians, but also serve as political support for their desire to gain independence.

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Ofer sentences a Palestinian child to 14 years

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli Ofer Military Court sentenced Palestinian boy Mohammed Omar Rashid, 17 from the town of Yatta south of al-Khalil, to 14 years imprisonment, in addition to paying a fine of six thousand shekels.

Rashid was arrested on March 8, 2012 by the Israeli army during a raid on the town of Yatta. He was shot and wounded by several bullets in his back.

Human rights organizations condemned the trial of the Palestinian children. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in the Palestinian territories, issued a statement after the trial of Rashid denouncing the trial and considering it void and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Israeli occupation authorities issued a law that allows trial of Palestinian children at the age of 12.

Palestine: Rabbis in temple costume storm the Aqsa Mosque

(Al Quds, Palestine-file photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Rabbis in temple costume stormed the holy Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Thursday morning in the company of Jewish settlers. Workers in the Aqsa Mosque said that the rabbis, who were wearing the special costume for the temple, gave lectures and training on future prayers inside their alleged temple. They said that heavy police presence was witnessed throughout the tour, describing the rabbis’ act as a very serious precedence as no rabbi in this costume had entered the Aqsa before. Worshipers and scholars present in the Mosque were irritated at the site and chanted Allahu Akbar. The rabbis and settlers toured its various plazas as police and special forces surrounded them.

Palestine: ’Israeli’ Minister: ‘Al-Aqsa ours’, 30 children are still in jail & fierce clashed at Al Aqsa

(Al Quds, Palestine-file photo)

’Israeli’ Minister: Al-Aqsa Ours, must be Opened for Jews At All Times

Al Ahed news

“Israeli” Settling Minister Uri Ariel viewed that “Israelis” “must be able to pray on the “Temple Mount” [AL-Quds Holy Mosque] whenever they want.”

As he led the Wednesday’s desecration to the Islamic Holy site, Ariel claimed that al-Aqsa “is the holiest place for the Jewish people, and must be open for prayer at every hour to every Jew.”

Ariel invaded into al-Quds Holy Mosque Wednesday, and hoped that the “Israelis” would be able to do the same.

Meanwhile, “Israeli” police closed all gates leading to the mosque and prevented worshipers under 50 from entering. They also stopped dozens of buses in Occupied al-Quds carrying Palestinian worshipers to the mosque and told them to turn around.

Five people were detained by “Israel”.

The “Israeli” minister further revealed that he “plans to continue to go up and strengthen “Israel’s” sovereignty in the site.”

“The “Temple Mount” is ours, and it cannot be argued about or negotiated,” Ariel emphasized.

Earlier this year, Ariel launched virtual, online tours to the Islamic site.
Al-Aqsa compound, containing the mosque and the Dome of the Rock, is the third holiest site in Islam and “Israelis” claim that is the place of the ancient Second Temple stood.

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Report: 30 Palestinian children from Qalqiliya are still in Israeli jails

QALQILIYA, (PIC)– The Palestinian prisoner society said that the number of Palestinian children from Qalqiliya city who are detained in Israeli jails rose to 30 prisoners after the Israeli occupation forces kidnapped seven kids in last August.

In a report, the society outlined some of the violations that were committed by the IOF against the detained children, confirming that most of the children were kidnapped from their homes during violent night raids.

It added that these children and their families were exposed during the detention process to humiliation and physical abuse, noting that the children were taken handcuffed and blindfolded to interrogation centers without the presence of their parents.

The center appealed to human rights groups, especially the ones concerned with the rights of children, to necessarily move to have all Palestinian children released, affirming that they were detained extrajudicially and without evidence.

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27 Palestinian buildings demolished during August

NABLUS, (PIC)– The Israeli authorities have continued demolition policy against Palestinian houses during August under the pretext of being built without permits, Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights said.

The researcher at the Foundation, Ahmed Betawi, said that 27 Palestinian buildings were demolished mainly in Jerusalem during August by Israeli bulldozers.

Betawi stated that the Israeli forces demolished on August 17 a Palestinian house in Negev, while they forced another Palestinian citizen to demolish his house in Jerusalem.

On August 19, the Israeli bulldozers demolished 11 Palestinian residential buildings in Beit Hanina in occupied Jerusalem, in addition to three agricultural facilities in Nablus and another facility in the Jordan Valley.

On August 21, the center reported that a 60-square-neter room was demolished in Silwan neighborhood in Jerusalem, and three other facilities were demolished in Abbaseya neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem.

On August 26, the Israeli bulldozers demolished 2 houses in Tur neighborhood and an agricultural facility in Issawiya village.

Betawi pointed out that the Israeli demolition orders were carried out against the Palestinian houses under the pretext that they were built without permits. The Israeli authorities deliberately refuse to grant building permits to Palestinians as part of Israeli policy to deport Palestinians and confiscate their houses.

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Fierce clashes at Aqsa Mosque after attempt to defile it by Jewish settlers

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Violent clashes broke out on Wednesday morning at the Aqsa Mosque after dozens of extremist Jewish settlers escorted by Israeli policemen and soldiers desecrated the Aqsa Mosque’s courtyard.

The Jewish settlers were not able to stay long at the Mosque after they were forced quickly to leave it under police protection by dozens of angry Palestinian young worshipers who were already there to protect it.

According to eyewitnesses, young men and women threw stones and shoes at the settlers and their police guards, as they were chanting “Allahu Akbar.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli army and police have turned east Jerusalem, especially its Old City, to a military base and established barriers and checkpoints throughout the holy city.

This led hundreds of Palestinians to perform their dawn prayers on the streets and roads that are adjacent to the walls of the Old Cty of Jerusalem after the Israeli occupation forces prevented those under the age of 50 from having access to the Old City and the Aqsa Mosque.

The Israeli army and police started last night to impose strict measures on the movement of the Palestinians in preparation for the mass entry of Jews in the morning to the Aqsa Mosque at the pretext of the Hebrew new year.

The intended mass desecration of the Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday morning, which was called for by fanatic Jewish figures and groups, prompted more than 50 Jerusalemite young men and women to spend their night inside the buildings of the Aqsa Mosque to defend them against possible Jewish break-ins.

The Israeli police, for their part, asked the guards of the Mosque compound to get the youths out of the buildings, but the guards refused to comply and confirmed their right to stay inside an Islamic holy site because they are Muslims despite the police threat to use violence to expel them from the Mosque.

One of the Mosque’s servants reported the intensive presence of special police forces inside its courtyard and at its gates following the clashes in an attempt to prevent more Palestinians from coming to back up the young people.

As a result of the Israeli procedures against the Aqsa Mosque, there is possibility of more confrontations between the Palestinian natives and the Israeli occupation forces during the coming hours as more Palestinian worshipers keep flocking to the Mosque.

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Sewage of Ariel settlement flood houses of Bruqin in Salfit

SALFIT, (PIC)– The sewage of Ariel settlement flooded the Palestinian houses in the village of Bruqin near Salfit, which led to large numbers of rodents, mosquitoes and pigs inside the town.

Locals said on Tuesday that the sewage caused to citizens allergy and scars due to the spread of mosquitos.

The villagers expressed their deep concern regarding the health problems caused by the sewage of Ariel settlement and which have been exacerbated in recent days.

The settlers’ sewage polluted the environment, including the air and soil in addition to the three springs of water of Bruqin. It is also threatening the springs of the nearby town of Kafr al-Dik

Palestine: More homes, lands being confiscated & soldiers beat women resisting home demolition

(Palestine-file photo)

Press conference opens despite detention of Sheikh Salah

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The press conference on Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque opened in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday despite the Israeli detention of Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, leader of the Islamic movement in 1948 occupied Palestine.

The press conference, which was supposed to be addressed by Sheikh Salah, is held to deal with latest developments and threats against Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque.

Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the head of the higher Islamic authority in Jerusalem, said that the detention of Sheikh Salah was in violation of the freedom of opinion.

He said that freedom of movement and speech should be respected, opining that Sheikh Salah was arrested to block his call for massive marches to the Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday.

For his part, Zahi Nujaidat, the Islamic movement’s spokesman, expressed utter dismay at the detention of Sheikh Salah, charging that the step was an attempt to disrupt pro-Aqsa activities and to terrorize citizens against participation in such activities.

Fuad Al-Khuffash, the director of Ahrar center for human rights, denounced the Israeli act, adding that it was meant to silence any voice defending the Aqsa and exposing Israeli occupation’s practices against it.

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Israeli soldiers beat women resisting home demolition

Al Akhbar

Israeli soldiers used rifle butts to beat five Palestinian women who refused orders to leave their West Bank home ahead of a demolition on Monday, local media reported.

Occupation forces raided a home in the Jericho village of Fasayel early Monday and ordered the 12 residents to collect their things, and get out.

When five of the women refused to budge, troops attacked them with their rifle butts, homeowner Deifallah Rashaydeh told Ma’an news agency.

State news agency Wafa cited local activist Hamza Zbeidat as saying that the forces also fired tear gas and sound grenades at residents who had formed a human chain around the home.

Medics rushed the injured to a hospital for treatment, the reports said.

Bulldozers then demolished the family’s 10-year-old home and a shack that housed cattle.

Jericho governor Majid al-Fityani was quoted by Ma’an as calling the demolition a “slap in the face for those who advocate the resumption of peace negotiations,” during a visit to a hospital where the women were being treated.

Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes and other structures in the occupied West Bank occur almost daily under the pretext of building without a permit in a policy that has drawn widespread condemnation from rights groups.

Roughly 94 percent of Palestinian applications for building permits are rejected, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

The group estimates that Israeli authorities have demolished about 27,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank since 1967.

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Israeli court rejects petition to cancel resolution to evacuate 8 villages

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– An Israeli court in Jerusalem rejected a petition submitted by residents of Msafer Yatta, south of al-Khalil in occupied West Bank, in which they appealed for cancelling the Israeli occupation army’s decision to confiscate, demolish and evacuate 8 villages for military purposes.

Haj Ziad Mkhamra, aged 59, told PIC’s correspondent that the court rejected the petition demanding cancelling the decision of the Defense Minister Ehud Barak to confiscate and evacuate 8 villages in Msafer Yatta.

Mkhamra said the President of the Israeli Supreme Court suggested that the residents choose a retired judge to mediate between them and the prosecutor in an attempt to reach a solution regarding the petition.

He added that the military prosecutor strongly rejected the suggestion of the chief judge and insisted on the implementation of the resolution, claiming that the cancellation of the eviction order means that the forces in the region will have to restart training in another far place which will cost money and time.

The residents stressed on their adherence to their land and their determination to defend it until the decision of the prosecution and the army is cancelled.

The area of Msafer Yatta is inhabited by more than 500 people living on agriculture and grazing sheep. The occupation former Defense Minister Ehud Barak had decided in 2012 to evacuate eight villages to be used for military purposes and training.

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IOA expands Bzjat Ze’ev settlement in Jerusalem

OCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Israeli Occupation continued its confiscation policy against Palestinian territories where the Israeli bulldozers have begun recently expanding Bzjat Ze’ev settlement, built on Beit Hanina lands in occupied Jerusalem.

Nearly 620 housing units are planned to be added to the settlement.

Settlement expert researcher Ahmed Sab Laban stated that the Israeli authorities started the process of building infrastructure networks in the area including electricity transmission and distribution networks, water and sewage utilities as a prelude to establish 620 new housing units to Bzjat Ze’ev settlement.

The establishment of the new housing units would isolate 50 Palestinian families living in a Jerusalemite neighborhood from Beit Hanina town, he said.

Sab Laban said that the new housing units will be established in high rise residential towers ranging from 9 to 13 storeys, while the Jerusalemite residents are prevented to obtain building permits to establish high rise buildings.

The Israeli occupation authority has surveyed the area to expand Bzjat Ze’evin in order to finish with the building of street no. 20 that will connect the settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev, Prophet Jacob, Anatot, Shuafat and Beit Hanina, Sab Laban stated.

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IOF soldiers raze house in JV

JORDAN VALLEY, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) razed a shed and a house in Fasayel Al-Fuqa village in the Jordan Valley on Monday.

Local sources said that IOF soldiers stormed the village and razed the shed then tried to destroy a house but were confronted by citizens.

The sources pointed out that the soldiers used teargas and stun grenades to disperse the protestors then demolished the house, adding that two women were injured in the scuffle.

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New Israeli plan to attract thousands of Jewish settlers to Negev and Galilee

NAZARETH, (PIC)– The Israeli government approved a plan at a cost of 10 million shekels to bring about 300,000 Jewish settlers from other occupied areas to live in settlement outposts in Negev and Galilee.

According to the Hebrew radio, the government intends to help Jewish young couples with this project to pay the rents of the apartments they would buy, and to build affordable public housing units.

The Israeli mini-cabinet led by minister of finance Yair Lapid also decided to repair abandoned public buildings in these areas and turn them into cheap houses.

The Israeli Knesset had approved last June the plan submitted in 2011 by Benjamin Netanyahu’s director of planning Ehud Prawer to forcibly evacuate the Palestinian Bedouin villages in the Negev region and gather its population in other areas.

The Palestinians consider this plan as a new chapter of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) because Israel intends to seize more than 800,000 dunums of their land in the Negev.

The Prawer plan would lead to the displacement of 40,000 Negev Bedouins and the destruction of 38 villages and hamlets.

Expert: Firing rockets message for military, Congress, Syria and allies & related news

Lebanese Expert: Firing Rockets Message for Military, Congress, Syria and Allies

Al Manar

The Lebanese military expert and strategist retired Brigadier General Amin Hoteit said Tuesday that the joint Israel-American military force that has been formed on the sidelines of the NATO Navy forces.

A Zionist navy piece was attached to these forces without being the so-called ‘Israel’ a member of NATO,” Hotiet told Al-Manar website.

“This new attached force has tested today the rocket systems (Tomahawk and cruise missiles, as well as interceptors platform for missiles),” he added.

As for the regional and international messages behind firing the rockets, Hoteit believed that the operation holds a certain message to the military force that it is mobilized for a serious and imminent war.

“There is also a message to the U.S. Congress that the forces are ready and wait for the war approval.”

“Another message to Syria and its allies in the framework of intimidation and psychological warfare to say that the war is coming, the threat is serious and that there is no retreat from aggression,” he added.

In the final evaluation, the Lebanese expert said the rockets will not change the landscape and the balance of power, but if the United States wants to attack, it must prepare with its agents in the region for an open war.

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Israeli Army Launched Med Missiles as Part of Joint US-Israeli Drill

Al Manar

Missiles that Russia reported were launched in the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday were part of a joint American-Israeli military exercise, Israeli media said.

A missile launch early Tuesday in the Mediterranean Sea was part of joint American-Israeli military exercises, Israel’s defence ministry said.

“The Israeli defence ministry and the American MDA (Missile Defence Agency) Tuesday morning at 9:15 (0615 GMT) successfully launched an Ankor-type radar missile,” it said in a statement.

The Zionist army said it was “not familiar” with any missiles being fired in the Mediterranean. It said it didn’t detected signs missiles were launched into Syria or had exploded in Damascus.

Russia on Tuesday announced that its missile early warning system had detected the launch of two missiles from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea fired towards the Sea’s eastern coastline.

The launches took place at 10:16 am Moscow time (0616 GMT) and were detected by the early warning system in Armavir in southern Russia, the defense ministry said in a statement quoted by Russian news agencies.

It said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had already reported to President Vladimir Putin about the event, which comes amid growing expectations of Western military action in Syria.

“The launch was detected by the early warning radar in Armavir,” the Interfax news agency quoted the defense ministry as saying. “The trajectory of the targets in question was from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern part of the Mediterranean coastline,” it added.

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Miqdad to al-Manar: Saudi Arabia Wants to Eliminate Syria by Every Means

Al Manar

Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Miqdad stressed on Monday his country’s readiness to confront any aggression waged against it, underlying that any attack on Syria will set the whole region ablaze.

“We all know that the West cannot be trusted, because of this we are ready for confrontation and for anything that might happen,” Miqdad said.

“Any attack on Syria will set this region ablaze. When the first rocket got fired, no one can predict the resulted repercussions,” he added.

During an exclusive interview with Al-Manar TV, the Syrian deputy FM criticized Riyadh position of Syria, and pointed out that the Saudi regime wants to end Syria by every means, to serve the American and Zionist interests.

“The Saudi regime is fallen since long in its people’s eye, as well as in the Arab nation’s eye. They are facing now the battle of challenge and last downfall.”

Fielding a question about the Saudi hastening to attack Syria, Miqdad justified it as spite, hatred:
“This is the attitude of the salve who seeks to pacify his master and to present more services which have not been requested.”

Addressing the Lebanese file, the Syrian politician expressed beliefs that Lebanon is strong due to its will and diplomats.

“Lebanon is strong because it has the will and the foreign ministers who are able to be united and defend the Lebanese interest,” Miqdad stressed.

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Lawmakers Blast Obama’s Syria War Draft

Al Manar

American lawmakers have criticized the draft of President Barack Obama’s authorization for military action in Syria, saying it could open the door to attacks on other countries.US

Obama and other White House officials pressed lawmakers on Monday to approve military force against Syria.

However, there is deep disagreement on how to proceed, with some lawmakers saying the draft authorization is too broad in scope and duration.

The lawmakers are worried that the draft could let Obama attack other countries as well. They say although the authorization’s focus is on the use of chemicals in Syria, it has not set a time limit on military action, and has not confined it only to Syria.

The proposal authorizes the president to use the armed forces “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in connection with the use of chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in the conflict in Syria,” Reuters reported.

The proposal also explicitly allows military action to deter or prevent the transfer of those weapons into or out of Syria.

Congressional hesitancy reflects the overall weariness of war among Americans who oppose getting involved in Syria.

“People have become, it’s more than just war-weary, they’ve become skeptical of the effectiveness of these military involvements,” said Rep. James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

“The resolution that they are presenting right now is so open-ended, I think even people who are sympathetic to the administration might have trouble supporting it,” he added.

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Human Shields Campaign: To Protect Syria from Potential Attack

by Ali Abdallah, Syria, Al Ahed news

A group of Syrians from all walks of life, including young artists and athletes, participated in the campaign called “Over our Dead Bodies” on Monday, to help protect the country from potential foreign military action.

The participants are shielding key facilities in the capital, Damascus, pledging to stand their ground until the US military threats are stopped or they are killed. The organizers of the campaign said they have received calls from all over the world asking for permission to join the movement. The campaign comes as amid threats of foreign military intervention in Syria.

The campaign was launched at Damascus’s Sheraton hotel through a press conference, in which Syrian artist Laura abu Asaad, Journalist Ogarit Dandash, and Swimmer Firas Maala took part. The campaign was welcomed by a vast audience, and the number of volunteers increased after a facebook page was established for the campaign.

Ghassan Najjar, the media coordinator of the campaign said “The goal of this campaign is to deliver a message to the world that says: The Syrians will not stand still before the US possible attack to be launched against their country. They will rather stand in face [of this attack] to protect Syria and its facilities with their bare bodies.”

In a statement to al-Ahed news, Najjar stated “The initiative started in Qasyoun Mount in Damascus, as it stands symbol to the capital Damascus and to all Syria. Tens of young men, women, and even children gathered in the tents that were set up for the campaign, while more volunteers arrive day after day.”

For her part, well-known Lebanese journalist Ogarit Dandash accentuated “Syrian expatriates, also some Arabs [Egyptians, Jordanians, Morrocan] and Westerners from Germany and the US have a strong desire to participate in the campaign, therefore they contact the organizers and ask about how they can support the movement, and what to do to contribute in prevent a military strike.”

According to the organizers, some young Syrians who do not belong to any party or political side have already started to execute the idea of human shields in other Syrian provinces. Also, striking it is that the campaign is not funded by any group or party.

The idea of human shields, according to Dandash, is not a similar to protests and rallies. Being a human shield means presenting oneself as armor to protect the civil and military facilities, and risk their safety.
On August 21, terrorist militants and the foreign-backed opposition in Syria claimed that 1,300 people had been killed in a chemical attack the Syrian government launched on militant strongholds in the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar.

A number of Western countries, including the US, France, and the UK, were quick to adopt the rhetoric of war against Syria despite the fact that Damascus categorically rejected having had any role in the chemical attack.

The Syrian government announced later that the chemical attack had actually been carried out by the militants themselves as a false flag operation.

On August 29, the British parliament voted against participation by Britain, the United States’ closest ally, in any potential military intervention in Syria. While the British government had primarily sought a second vote in the parliament as well, it ruled out any such vote on September 2, saying that the parliament “has spoken,” and that the government “has absolutely no plans to go back to parliament.”

On Friday, August 30, NATO also distanced itself from participating in any military intervention in Syria, with the chief of the Western military coalition, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying he did not “foresee any NATO role” in a war on Syria.

Syrian armed groups in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

In a report published on Friday, the armed groups revealed that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by militants mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.

“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the deadly gas attack,” wrote Gavlak.

Despite warnings from the UN, as well as Iran, Russia, and China against war, Washington has remained defiant, saying that it is willing to go ahead with its plans for a strike on Syria without the approval of the United Nations or even the support of its allies. However, US President Barack Obama said on Saturday, August 31 that his administration will first seek authorization from the Congress.

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Vatican renews calls against Syria strike

Source

A top Vatican official on Monday warned the war in Syria could escalate into a global conflict, a day after Pope Francis made an impassioned call for peace.

“The Syria conflict has all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions,” Monsignor Mario Toso, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Vatican radio.

“The solution to Syria’s problems is not in armed intervention. Violence will not decrease and there is a risk of a conflagration that extends to other countries,” he said…

Francis called for a day of fasting and prayer on Saturday for peace in Syria, calling on Christians, believers of other religions and non-believers to take part.

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Two Thirds of British People Oppose Strikes on Syria

Al Ahed news

A poll published by The Independent British daily showed that “the Iraq War has turned the British public against any military intervention in the Middle East.”

According to a ComRes survey for the daily, “By a margin of two-to-one, the British people oppose President Barack Obama’s plan for military strikes against Syria and say that the UK should keep out of all conflicts in the region for the foreseeable future.”

The ComRes survey suggests that MPs were right, at least according to public opinion, to veto air strikes by Britain last Thursday.

It found that only 29 per cent of people agree that the US, without Britain, should launch air strikes against the Syrian regime, while 57 per cent disagree.

Four out of five people believe that any military strikes against Syria should first be sanctioned by the United Nations, while 15 per cent disagree with this statement.

Asked whether the experience of the 2003 Iraq war means that Britain should keep out of military conflicts in the Middle East for the foreseeable future, 62 per cent agree and 31 per cent disagree.

A majority of supporters of every party agree with this statement, with Labor and UK Independence Party voters more likely to believe Britain should “keep out” than Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters.

After his Commons rebuff, a majority of people 54 per cent agree that David Cameron showed he is “out of touch with Britain” in his handling of the Syria crisis, while 34 per cent disagree. Worryingly for the Prime Minister, a third of current Tory supporters (33 per cent) and almost half of voters overall (42 per cent) believe Cameron showed he is out of touch, as do 76 per cent of Ukip supporters.

Andrew Mitchell, the Tory former International Development Secretary, said: “It may be, after lengthy and careful consideration, [the US] Congress affirms its support for the President’s plans and, in the light of that, our Parliament may want to consider this matter further.”

But Cameron’s spokesman said: “Parliament has spoken and that is why the Government has absolutely no plans to go back to Parliament.”

Downing Street indicated that Britain does not expect its military bases – such as RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus, less than 200 miles from Syria – to be used in any air strikes.

Palestine: 61 arrested in one week, new tunnels under Al-Aqsa exposed & citizens ordered to stop building

(Palestine-file photo)

IOF soldiers nabbed 61 Palestinians in one week

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) nabbed 61 Palestinians in various West Bank areas over the past week, Hamas statistics said on Monday.

The statistics report mentioned names of all those detained, adding that one third of the detainees were taken from Al-Khalil.

The report said that four of the detainees were liberated prisoners and three of them were detained by PA security agencies on past occasions.

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New tunnels under Al-Aqsa Mosque exposed

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage revealed that the Israeli authorities led by the Antiquities Authority have dug two new tunnels under al-Aqsa mosque.

In its statement issued on Sunday, the Foundation said that one of the two tunnels extends from Ein Silwan to settlements in the city of Dawoud passing through Al-Aqsa Mosque, while the second tunnel starts from al-Aqsa mosque heading north.

The foundation has exposed photos documenting the digging of tunnels under the holy mosque. The statement warned of the continued excavations that disclosed the mosque’s substructures.

Al-Aqsa Foundation said that the Israeli authorities aim at linking the new main tunnel with the tunnels network in Silwan neighborhood and the Buraq square area and the old city.

These new excavations constitute a real threat to al-Aqsa mosque, the Foundation pointed out.

Israel is currently digging under the mosque in order to topple it aiming at replacing it with the alleged Temple.

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Dozens of settlers storm Aqsa esplanades

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Dozens of Jewish settlers stormed the Aqsa Mosque’s esplanades on Sunday morning amidst tight Israeli police measures.

The Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said in a statement that around 65 settlers broke into the holy site via the Maghareba gate in two groups.

It said that both groups toured the Mosque’s various walkways and sites and one of them offered Talmudic rituals at the eastern area of the Mosque.

AFEH said that policemen restricted movement of students who tried to confront the settlers and block their tour, adding that the settlers badmouthed the students.

The foundation revealed an Israeli security plan mainly stipulating the deployment of special forces in the vicinity of the Aqsa Mosque during the Jewish feasts that start next Wednesday to provide security measures for settlers who had announced plans to storm the holy site on that day.

AFEH appealed to the Palestinian, Arab, and Islamic masses to take urgent and effective moves to protect the occupied Aqsa Mosque and not to be content with statements of condemnation in such a critical stage.

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IOA orders Palestinian citizens to stop building their homes

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) ordered four Palestinians in Daheriya town in Al-Khalil on Monday to stop building their homes.

The land research institute said in a statement that the IOA served notices to four Palestinians to the east of Daheriya in addition to the owner of a tin house used for agricultural purposes.

The notifications said that an IOA inspection committee would hold a session on 30/9/2013 to discuss means of razing what was newly added to those houses.

The IOA had served similar notices in the same neighborhood of Muala last week.

Treaty obligations, war crimes, and accountability: A study in American hypocrisy

by Martin Rowson

by Nima Shirazi, source

“I have no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable,” President Barack Obama said in a PBS interview earlier this week.

With allegations of a horrific chemical weapons attack outside Damascus and new reports of a “napalm” bomb being dropped on a school playground in northern Syria, this statement, made by an American Commander-in-Chief, would certainly come as a surprise to many of Obama’s predecessors, considering the use of chemical weapons has been standard U.S. military procedure for decades.

Napalm, which is classified as an incendiary, rather than chemical, weapon, is composed of a gel that sticks to the skin and can burn down to the bone. Used extensively by the U.S. military during the last years of World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters, the napalm bombing of Japan killed at least 330,000 people. Twice the amount of napalm as was dropped on Japan in 1945 was used by American forces over three years during the Korean War: 32,357 tons as compared to 16,500 tons.

Between 1963 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped nearly 400,000 tons of napalm on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In 1980, the United Nations declared the use of napalm gel in densely-populated civilian areas to be a war crime.

Agent Orange, a chemical weapon derived from herbicides, was also used by Americans during the Vietnam War. Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand.

A 2008 Globe and Mail article reported that “Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the defoliants, 500,000 children have been born with defects from retardation to spina bifida and a further two million people have suffered cancers or other illnesses. Yet they have received no compensation from those who produced the chemicals and those who made them a weapon of war.”

According to the the United Nations, Agent Orange is “one of the most toxic compounds known to human,” and the Vietnamese Red Cross has estimatedthat “as many as one million people in Vietnam have disabilities or other health problems associated with Agent Orange.”

A recently published report in Foreign Policy revealed that, during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988, “America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen.” Among the findings, the report stated that, in 1988, “U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent,” and that “Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence.”

More:

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

Even more recently, the U.S. military used white phosphorus, a chemical compound whose use in civilian areas constitutes a war crime, during its 2004 attacks on Fallujah in Iraq, just as America’s best friend in the region, Israel, dropped white phosphorus on civilian areas in its 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza.

It should be noted that, while the United States is a party to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which bans the use of napalm against civilians, it has never signed Protocol III on the convention, the statute that specifically bans the use of all incendiary weaponry. Nevertheless, even without signing it, this protocol came into force for the U.S. on July 21, 2009.

Furthermore, Israel is one of only seven nations on the planet – along with Syria, Angola, South Sudan, Egypt, North Vietnam, and Myanmar – to refuse to abide by the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

However, despite this, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said this week that state non-compliance with treaty obligations recognized by the vast majority of the international community — even by non-signatories to such treaties – should not absolve those states from accountability.

During a press briefing on August 27, spokesperson Marie Harf described the CWC as a “multilateral disarmament agreement” that “provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control and prohibits the use of chemical weapons. Currently, 189 nations, which represent about 98 percent of the global population, have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.” As such, she continued, even though there are a few nations that have not yet acceded to the convention, “clearly that should not enable them to escape responsibility for their actions.”

Harf added, “There is a reason that the overwhelming majority of the international community – again, that agrees on little else – has stood against the use of these weapons, and Syria should not be able to flout the clearly expressed view of the international community here.”

The following day, Harf reiterated this position:

[T]he indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians is a violation of international law. I also talked a little bit about international norms and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they are obviously not a party to, but which clearly laid out that a majority – a vast majority of the world spoke up and said that we are taking a stand against chemical weapons and the world has spoken on chemical weapons. And we’re not going back, and they have to be held accountable.

To suggest that the United States does not go back on its word when it comes to commonly-accepted mandates of international law is laughable. In 1998, the vast majority of the world’s nations voted to adopted the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) and granting it authority to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” The United Statesvoted against it.

When the statute was officially adopted by the international community in 2002, the United States, Israel and Sudan all signed it, but formally refused to present it for ratification. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General on May 6, 2002, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, stated, “in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000.”  While the Obama administration has walked back this Bush era rejection, it has still refused to ratify the treaty and accept the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Of course, the language of international law and accountability is also never leveled at Israel when it commits war crimes or develops an undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of nuclear weapons in defiance of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Israel – along with only three other countries on Earth – is not a signatory.

In fact, in May 2010, after the 189 signatories of the NPT — including Iran and Syria called for an international conference in 2012 with the goal of establishing “a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction,” Israel denounced the accord, describing it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.”

At the time, President Obama also decried the resolution for what he claimed was an unfair focus on Israel – the only nuclear-armed state in the region – and promised to “oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”

When the time of the proposed conference rolled around in December 2012, the United States prevented it from taking place.

It is clear that the United States is not considering military strikes on Syria out of any deference to the obligations of international law or concern for innocent civilians. As Omar Dahi notes in Jadaliyya, “The fact that the United States is threatening to strike now has nothing to do with the welfare of Syrians, and everything to do with the United States maintaining its own ‘credibility,’ its position as a hegemonic power.”

Even taking the U.S. government at its word – a dubious thing to do in light of past experiences – presents problems of its own, namely that anypurportedly punitive military action against Syria would itself be a violation of the very laws the United States is claiming to defend.

Recall, for instance, what then-Senator Barack said back on December 20, 2007:  “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.”

International relations professor Charli Carpenter has just addressed these factors in Foreign Affairs:

The Obama administration has already confirmed that itsprimary concern is with protecting the norm and punishing its violators. Given that goal, the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it. The United States claims that it has “no doubt” that Syria was behind last week’s chemical attack, but that remains an open question until the UN inspectors have completed their investigation. Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force. As Article36.org, a nongovernmental organization notes, thesemight include condemnation, an arms embargo, sanctions, or any of the other bilateral and multilateral measures that are typically used to respond to violations of weapons norms (and which might be at least as effective than air strikes, if not more so). Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat.

It is thus worrying that the proposed military strikes against Syria rely on Tomahawk missiles, which are capable of carrying cluster munitions and which have been decried on humanitarian grounds by numerous governments and civil society groups. Equally alarming is that the planned strikes would likely involve the use of explosives in populated areas, which is in violation of emerging international concernsabout such behavior. Although there is historical precedent for the legitimacy of violating the UN Charter in order to enforce global humanitarian norms, it would be seen as hypocritical to violate those very norms in the service of their affirmation.

As always, with a potentially imminent military strike on the horizon, the American government has once again affirmed its belief that – unlike the rest of the world – when the United States or its friends abrogate international law and commit war crimes, they should not be held to account.

*****UPDATE:

MSNBC‘s resident loudmouth Chris Matthews – who fancies himself somewhat of an historian – is apparently wholly unaware of the U.S. military’s past use of chemical weapons. Speaking on Morning Joe earlier this week, Matthews bellowed:

If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades. Don’t use chemical weapons. We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them, we don’t use chemical weapons, that’s no deal. Although we do know that Assad’s father did. Then he goes ahead and does it.

Let alone Matthews’ ignorance of our own actions, even more surreal is the statement that “Hitler didn’t use them.” Matthews seems to be forgetting about that whole Holocaust thing, when the Nazis committed genocide by gassing millions of Jews in death camps.

Since no allusion to either Syria or Nazi Germany is allowed to pass in themainstream media without making erroneous comparisons with Iran, Matthews added that, based on Assad’s alleged use of weapons of mass destruction, “It makes you wonder what the mullahs will do if they have a couple of nuclear weapons, just a couple.”

Well, first off, Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons and, even according to U.S. intelligence assessments, hasn’t even made a decision to do so. It has alsoroutinely denounced the acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons for the past three decades.

Moreover, that Matthews would think Iranian leaders would instigate atomic Armageddon for absolutely no reason is bizarre. But then, again, with a history of promoting misinformation and demonstrating utter ignoranceabout the Iranian nuclear program, it is no surprise Matthews is pushing such shameless propaganda.

Second, Matthews fails to point out here that, in fact, only one single solitary nation in world history has ever actually used nuclear weapons: the United States of America, which dropped them on a civilians, slaughtering hundreds of thousands.

As Robert McNamara recounted to filmmaker Errol Morris in The Fog of War, “[U.S. Air Force General Curtis] LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

McNamara wondered, “Was there a rule then that said you shouldn’t bomb, shouldn’t kill, shouldn’t burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?”

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