|Hamas making $20 million a month from Gaza smuggling tunnels|
|By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent|
|Tags: Egypt, Rafah, Hamas|
Arab sources report that Hamas recently laid a pipeline for supplying the blockaded Gaza Strip with fuel from Egypt.
In a move that indicates that Hamas is trying to place the smuggling operation between Egyptian and Palestinian Rafah on an official footing, the pipeline was laid in one of several tunnels dug specifically for this purpose.
At a conference last week in Rafah to discuss the smuggling tunnels phenomenon, Hamas government officials made it clear that they mean to prevent any new tunnels from operating, and to increase oversight of some 200 tunnels already in use. Hamas wants to thwart use of the tunnels for drug smuggling, and the exploitation of child labor in digging the tunnels.
Egypt has indeed ratcheted up its anti-tunnel efforts lately, and is making impressive strides in locating tunnels and shutting them down.
Nashar demanded that a committee be appointed to supervise the materials entering Gaza through the tunnels, as well as the tunnel diggers' workload.
Yousef al-Zahar reported that his personnel had recently participated in rescue efforts at 16 collapsed tunnels, in which 19 people were killed and more than 100 injured. He said there are four reasons tunnels collapse: a fuel leak (in which case the tunnel should not be used for six months because of flammable fumes), poison gas piped in (which Hamas accuses Egypt of doing), improper digging and water flooding.
The national security commander for the border region, Ibrahim Abu al-Najar, reported that there are 200 tunnels in operation. He said that Hamas policemen are preventing new tunnels from opening, and are keeping an eye on the others to prevent drug smuggling.
One of the tunnel proprietors at the conference estimated that the industry is providing employment for some 4,000 people.
Arab sources say that children are frequently used in the digging process, and carry birds as an early-warning system to indicate a lack of oxygen. If the bird passes out, air is pumped into the tunnel.
Various estimates put Hamas' monthly profits from the tunnels at $20 million. Hamas levies a special tax on tunnel proprietors, and also collect fees for every bit of contraband - whether goods or people (wanted gunmen, people who need to go abroad for study or medical treatments, etc.) Besides explosives and metals for fashioning rockets, the array of products smuggled through the tunnels is staggering: livestock, drugs, electrical appliances, fuel, cigarettes, clothing, toys and much more.
zondag 31 augustus 2008
vrijdag 29 augustus 2008
Gepubliceerd: zondag 24 augustus 2008 22:54
dinsdag 12 augustus 2008
Israël biedt Palestijnen 93 procent Westoever"
JERUZALEM (ANP) De Israëlische premier Ehud Olmert heeft de Palestijnse Autoriteit een vredesvoorstel gedaan, waarbij de Palestijnen 93 procent van de Westelijke Jordaanoever zouden krijgen. In ruil voor de overige 7 procent zou Israël een strook land in de Negevwoestijn bij de Gazastrook voegen. Dat meldde de Israëlische krant Haaretz dinsdag.
De voorgenomen grens tussen Israël en de Westoever zou overeenkomen met het tracé van de scheidingsmuur die Israël tussen de beide gebieden heeft gebouwd.
Olmert zou de Palestijnse leiders bovendien een vrije doortocht hebben aangeboden van de Gazastrook naar de Westoever, zonder veiligheidscontroles.
Als voorwaarde stelt Olmert volgens de krant dat de Fatahbeweging van de Palestijnse president Mahmoud Abbas haar gezag over de Gazastrook moet herstellen. Momenteel is die in handen van Hamas.
|Olmert to PA: We'll quit West Bank when you retake Gaza|
|By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent|
|Tags: Abbas, Israel, Palestinians|
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has presented Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a proposal for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, to take place after Abbas' forces have retaken Gaza, as part of an agreement in principle on borders, refugees and security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Olmert, who met with Abbas this week, feels there is time to reach an agreement during his remaining time in office. He is now awaiting a decision from the Palestinians.
The centerpiece of Olmert's detailed proposal is the suggested permanent border, which would be based on an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank. In return for the land retained by Israel in the West Bank, the Palestinians would receive alternative land in the Negev, adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians would also enjoy free passage between Gaza and the West Bank without any security checks, the proposal says.
Under Olmert's offer, Israel would keep 7 percent of the West Bank, while the Palestinians would receive territory equivalent to 5.5 percent of West Bank. Israel views the passage between Gaza and the West Bank as compensating for this difference: Though it would officially remain in Israeli hands, it would connect the two halves of the Palestinian state - a connection the Palestinians did not enjoy before 1967, when the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control and the West Bank was part of Jordan.
The land to be annexed to Israel would include the large settlement blocs, and the border would be similar to the present route of the separation fence. Israel would keep Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, the settlements surrounding Jerusalem and some land in the northern West Bank adjacent to Israel.
Since Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently approved more construction in both Efrat and Ariel, two settlements relatively far from the 1949 armistice lines, it is reasonable to assume that Olmert wants to include these settlements in the territory annexed to Israel as well.
Olmert's proposal states that once a border is agreed upon, Israel would be able to build freely in the settlement blocs to be annexed.
The settlements outside the new border would be evacuated in two stages. First, after the agreement in principle is signed, the cabinet would initiate legislation to compensate settlers who voluntarily relocate within Israel or to settlement blocs slated to be annexed. Over the past few months, Olmert has approved construction of thousands of housing units in these settlement blocs, mostly around Jerusalem, and some are intended for the voluntary evacuees.
In the second stage, once the Palestinians complete a series of internal reforms and are capable of carrying out the entire agreement, Israel would remove any settlers remaining east of the new border.
Olmert will to try to sell the deal to the Israeli public based on a staged program of implementation. The present negotiations, which started with the Annapolis Summit in November 2007, are intended to reach a "shelf agreement" that would lay the foundations of a Palestinian state. However, implementation of the shelf agreement would be postponed until the Palestinian Authority is capable of carrying out its part of the deal.
Olmert's proposal for a land swap introduces a new stage in the arrangement: Israel would immediately receive the settlement blocs, but the land to be transferred to the Palestinians and the free passage between Gaza and the West Bank would only be delivered after the PA retakes control of the Gaza Strip. In this way, Olmert could tell the Israeli public that Israel is receiving 7 percent of the West Bank and an agreed-upon border, while the Israeli concessions will be postponed until Hamas rule in Gaza has ended.
Abbas, for his part, could tell his people that he has succeeded in obtaining 98 percent of the West Bank from Israel, along with a promise to remove all settlers over the border.
The Palestinians' proposal had talked about a much smaller land swap, of about 2 percent of the West Bank.
Compared to previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the Olmert proposal falls between the one then prime minister Barak presented to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000 and the one he offered at Taba in January 2001. The Palestinian proposal is similar to the ones offered during the Arafat years, which would have allowed Israel to annex only a few settlements, along with their access roads - a proposal nicknamed "balloons and strings." All these Palestinian proposals ruled out allowing Israel to retain the settlement blocs.
Since then, however, the separation fence has been built in the West Bank, and a new physical reality has been created in the areas where the fence has been completed.
Israel also presented the Palestinians with a detailed model of new security arrangements under the proposed agreement. The security proposal was drawn up by a team headed by Maj. Gen. Ido Nehoshtan, now commander of the Israel Air Force, but previously head of the army's Plans and Policy Directorate. The proposal has also been passed on to the Americans, in an effort to obtain their support for Israel's position during the negotiations.
The security proposal includes a demand that the Palestinian state be demilitarized and without an army. The Palestinians, in contrast, are demanding that their security forces be capable of defending against "outside threats," an Israeli official said.
On the refugee issue, Olmert's proposal rejects a Palestinian "right of return" and states that the refugees may only return to the Palestinian state, other than exceptional cases in which refugees would be allowed into Israel for family reunification. Nevertheless, the proposal includes a detailed and complex formula for solving the refugee problem.
Olmert has agreed with Abbas that the negotiations over Jerusalem will be postponed. In doing so, he gave in to the Shas Party's threats that it would leave the coalition if Jerusalem were put on the negotiating table.
Olmert views reaching an agreement with the Palestinians as extremely important. Such an agreement would entrench the two-state solution in the international community's consciousness, along with a detailed framework for achieving this solution. In Olmert's opinion, this is the only way Israel can rebuff challenges to its legitimacy and avoid calls for a "one-state solution." Such an agreement would show that Israel is not interested in controlling the territories, or the Palestinians, over the long run, but only until conditions arise that enable the establishment of a Palestinian state. This position has received strong support from the present U.S. administration.
Next week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the region to continue her efforts to advance the negotiations. However, Olmert opposes her proposal to publish a joint U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli announcement detailing progress in the negotiations since Annapolis. Olmert objects to publishing partial positions; he only wants to announce a complete agreement - if one can be reached
maandag 11 augustus 2008
Palestinians fire rocket from northern Gaza towards towns in southern Israel, first since Saturday evening. Sha'ar Hanegev chairman says Palestinians unable to control militias firing rockets, demands government fortify southern communities Shmulik Hadad
Published: 08.11.08, 16:36 / Israel News
A Qassam rocket fired from northern Gaza landed in an open area adjacent to a kindergarten in the town of Sderot on Monday afternoon. No injuries were reported and no damage was caused. Residents
|Just In Case|
confirmed the 'Color Red' rocket alert sirens sounded throughout the town and its neighboring communities moments before the impact.
The rocket landed at around 4:15 pm, as hundreds of Sderot residents were gathered in the town's center for a large shopping event held by a prominent retailer 'in honor' of the relative calm in the region.
Police surveying the rocket on Monday (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)
Though the area has been relatively quiet since Israel signed a ceasefire agreement with Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza in June, intermittent rocket and mortar fire has been recorded every several days. Two rockets landed in the same region last week, also causing no injuries.
Following the rocket attack on the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council on Saturday evening, council chairman Alon Shuster said: "This is not the first time that a Qassam has been fired towards Israel, while there may be two sides committed to the ceasefire, in actuality the Palestinian side is finding it very
difficult to control all the militias and the Qassam fire. The attack today serves as a reminder that the government of Israel should be working to fortify the communities in the line of fire as soon as possible."
On Wednesday a Qassam rocket landed as thousands gathered near Kibbutz Kissufim to mark the third anniversary of the disengagement from Gaza and the evacuation of Gush Katif.
Rally organizer Ohad Bart told Ynet the "escape" from Gaza had only emboldened terror organizations. Yesha Council Spokesman Yishai Hollander added to Bart's sentiment, saying that "Those who thought the disengagement would enable us to get away from terror realized that terror is chasing them," he said.
zondag 10 augustus 2008
Defense Ministry spokesman Peter Lerner said interrogations were not for the purpose of recruiting collaborators but to protect Israel's security.
"We're not talking about a friendly neighbor at the moment, and there are numerous cases of those who present security threats," Lerner said. "The government has documented at least 20 cases of Palestinians who tried to abuse their medical access to carry out terrorist attacks."
Lerner said that so far this year, 14,000 Palestinians, including patients and their escorts, have entered Israel from Gaza. In all of 2007, a total of 10,000 were allowed into Israel.
NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg takes up the issue:
Once again, unproven accusations against Israel and stripped of context made by obscure NGOs (the BBC, like other news groups, apparently did not know that PHR-I is an independent organization, and not part of the international PHR framework) were placed at the top of the news ladder. This is the power of the "halo effect", which protects NGOs that claim lofty goals (particularly if they condemn Israel) from any independent verification by journalists, diplomats and often, and academic researchers.
There are numerous problems with this report that should have given the BBC and other journalists pause, beginning with the questions of credibility and context. Human rights claims are a central part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and have accompanied Palestinian terrorism and Israeli responses for many years....
... the "evidence" is entirely based on unverifiable claims, primarily from 11 interviewees from Gaza who allegedly asked Israel for permission to cross from the territory controlled by Hamas for medical care. Some of these Palestinians may have genuine medical needs, but others may be inventing stories that sell well in an environment that is inherently hostile to Israel.
PHR-I has issued press releases declaring a Palestinian to be dead after Israel refused to allow him to cross the border, but he turned out to be alive. And in NGO reports on Palestinian suffering, Gazans who claimed to have been denied permission to study at universities in the United States were exposed as imposters. Unless the evidence can be checked or independently verified, it should be treated with the same skepticism used by professional journalists regarding other self-serving stories.
In addition, neither the BBC nor most of the other media reports on this story stated that PHR-I is a radical political organization that uses medical and other human rights claims to promote this agenda. As detailed NGO Monitor analyses show, PHR-I, officials, who are funded by misguided European governments, frequently use the rhetoric of demonization, addressing conferences that refer to Israel as a "racist" and "apartheid" state.
Read the full article on NGO Monitor's blog. Please use this information and send your considered comments where appropriate to those media outlets that have covered this story.
vrijdag 8 augustus 2008
Iran Building Secret Nuclear Reactor
Memri | 7/31/2008
On July 29, 2008, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported that, according to "highly reliable sources," Iranian authorities had begun construction of a secret nuclear reactor in the Al-Zarqan region close to the city of Ahwaz in southwest Iran, on the Iran-Iraq border.
The paper said that according to sources, Iran was working to distance its nuclear installations from international oversight. The English version of the report, published in the Kuwaiti Arab Times, said, "Disclosing [that] Tehran directed international A-bomb inspectors to other places, sources warned [that] the project poses a very serious threat to international security."
Also according to the sources, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) did not know about this site at all, since it was not included in negotiations with Iran in Geneva held in early July.
According to the report, the sources said that during 2000-2003, Iran expropriated the lands and homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region, destroying homes of thousands of Arab citizens from the Al-Zarqan region.
Destroyed homes, fields, orchards, and wells, and built a three-meter-
high wall around the project site, which allegedly measures hundreds of kilometers.
The report also said that "the construction of the reactor began with the laying of a pipeline for fresh water from the [nearby] KarounRiver to the site, and the expansion of the Al-Zarqan power station."
Also, the sources said that "the construction works seem to be routine and do not arouse attention, but the tight security around the region is what arouses suspicions regarding the nature of the work." They added that the site is guarded by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel, reflecting its importance and sensitivity.
IRGC Commander's Letter to Construction Company: Maintain Complete Secrecy
In its report, Al-Siyassa included a letter dated April 7, 2008 from the office of the assistant of IRGC commander in Al-Ahwaz city Brig. Hassan Jalaliyan, marked "highly confidential,
"From the IRGC Commander in the city of Al-Ahwas to the director in charge at the Mehab Qudus company for Construction and Supervision Mr. Mohammed Kayafir
"Re: The nuclear reactor at Al-Zarqan
"I thank you for the good services of the Mehab Qudus company, and at the same time I must remind you of the following items:
"1. All construction materials must be transported from the warehouses to the construction site in top secrecy.
"2. As part of the doctrine of caution, we reiterate yet again that during the transport of all required materials, you must ensure that this [transport] does not arouse the suspicions of any citizen in the region through which you are moving.
"3. In general, it is absolutely forbidden to hire any Arabic speakers or any citizen from Khozestan in the framework of the 'Al-Zarqan Nuclear Reactor' construction project. You must ensure that all manpower, including the driver, the accountant, the warehouse manager, the laborer, the technician, or the guard, comes from the northern provinces.
"In conclusion, we say yet again that all the construction work in this project must be carried out under absolute secrecy.
"From the aide to IRGC commander in the city of Al-Ahwaz, Hassan Jalaliyan."
An Ideal Place to Build a Nuclear Reactor - The Local Residents Can Serve as a Human Shield
Al-Siyassa also reported that the "National Society for Arabstan State took satellite pictures of the location, which looked perfect for the construction of a secret nuclear reactor..." It added, "The site is more suitable for building a nuclear reactor than Bushehr, which is close to American bases." It noted that a nuclear power plant under construction at Darkhovin is in an open area on the main road between Ahwaz and Abadan - while the "Al-Zarqan nuclear reactor is in the middle of very highly populated areas, making it a very difficult target due to a possibility that the Iranian authorities will use civilians as human shields."
On January 31, 2008, the Iran Daily wrote that Iranian Atomic Energy Organization deputy head Ahmad Fayyazbakhsh had said that the nuclear power plant at Darkhovin, in southwestern Iran, would become operational in 2016.
 Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), July 29, 2008, http://www.alseyass
 Arab Times (Kuwait), July 29, 2008, http://www.arabtime
woensdag 6 augustus 2008
marijke schreef op 31-07-2008 18:22
Hamburger: "De geschiedenis van Israël is een nog niet voltooid project om de oorspronkelijke Palestijnse bevolking maatschappelijk en fysiek te marginaliseren ten bate van de nieuwkomers."
Hamburger beweert met deze zin dat Israel gesticht is met bovengesteld doel. Dat geeft de kwade intentie van Hamburger zelf aan. Israel is met een positief doel gesticht: weer het thuisland voor alle (vervolgde) Joden te worden.
Niet de marginalisering maar de samenwerking met de (toen nog niet zo genoemde)Palestijnen was daarbij opzet. Peres heeft nooit een geheim gemaakt van de "zionistische" droom: open grenzen, samenwerking met alle buren, gebruik maken van elkaars kennis en kunde om zo tot een welvarend Midden-Oosten te komen. Ook voor de uitroeping van de staat heeft Ben Goerion de plaatselijke Palestijnen opgeroepen samen te werken en niet op de vlucht te slaan zoals ze werd aangeraden door hun Arabische broeders.
Niet alleen Hamburger negeert deze intentie, maar de hele anti-Israellobby hanteert een geschiedverdraaiing om Israel te delegitimeren zoals An van den Burg hier op dit forum demonstreert. Met George Knight 31-07-2008 13:04 verzucht ik:
"Wat is in hemelsnaam de oplossing volgens Hamburger?" En ik voeg daaraan toe: waarom verdraait Hamburger de geschiedenis?
Met George zeg ik:
"Het lijkt me weinig zinvol om de strijd uit het Midden Oosten naar Nederland te importeren. Hoe graag betrokkenen dat ook willen met hun lobbyen op afstand."
En ik voeg toe: Wat is de reden om dit conflict in Nederland uit te willen vechten op de agressieve manier als door de anti-Israellobby gebruikt. Aandacht vragen voor verdrukten is prima, maar doe dat op een eerlijke manier zonder verdraaiingen.
Wouter Brassé schreef op 01-08-2008 09:27
Uit de 'grondbeginselen' van Een Ander Joods Geluid:
"Een Ander Joods Geluid is een actiegroep, die zich - juist uit verbondenheid met het lot en het voortbestaan van Israël - het politieke debat en de kritische meningsvorming over Israël en de bezette gebieden ten doel stelt. Dit zonder te tornen aan het bestaansrecht van de staat Israël."
In bovenstaand opiniestuk van voorzitter Jaap Hamburger druipt de afkeer voor de staat Israël er weer eens vanaf, zoals in elk en ieder opiniestuk van deze Joodse lobbygroep. Schriller kan het contrast tussen zeggen en doen nauwelijks zijn. Die huichelarij maakt de schrijfsels van Hamburger, Meijer en De Winter echt onverteerbaar.
En dan is er weer de routineuze zwartmakerij met 'apologeten' en 'verlengstuk van de Israëlische overheidspropaganda' die iedereen ten deel valt die het voor Israël durft op te nemen. Denigrerend en beneden alle peil.
In weerwil van hun pretentieuze 'beginselen' zijn het juist de lieden van EAJG die van een tomeloze 'gefocuste eenzijdigheid' blijk geven.
Wouter Brassé schreef op 01-08-2008 09:27
Ratna schreef op 03-08-2008 :
De manier waarop mensen die het voor Israel opnemen door de anti-Israellobby continu worden neergezet als verlengstuk van de Israelische regering is werkelijk misselijkmakend. In mijn stuk over waarom Israel geen apartheidsstaat is (waar Hamburger op reageerde), heb ik puur en alleen mijn eigen mening verkondigd, en was ik vooral gemotiveerd door mijn groeiende ergernis over het eenzijdige anti-Israel klimaat. Geen enkel ander land wordt geregeld met het apartheidsregime vergeleken, of zelfs met de nazi's. Iedere uitspraak die een Israelische politicus ooit heeft gedaan wordt mogelijk gebruikt om Israel en het zionisme in een kwaad daglicht te stellen. (@ Arjan Fernhout 03-08-2008 02:14) Ja, Barak heeft ooit gezegd dat hij zich als Palestijn bij een terroristische organisatie zou aansluiten. So what? Dat zegt niks over de oorzaken van dit terrorisme. Misschien bedoelde hij wel dat hij dacht als Palestijn vanwege het beroerde leiderschap en de opruiing tegen Israel en de Joden inderdaad tot dergelijke daden te komen.
Ik zie zeker dat er in Israel het nodige mis is, maar een genuanceerd debat daarover lijkt in Nederland niet meer mogelijk. Iedere uitspraak, maatregel of gebeurtenis in Israel wordt gebruikt om Israel als de grootste schurkenstaat neer te zetten, die uit is op etnische zuivering van de Palestijnen (wat vreemd, dat het aantal Palestijnen in Israel en de Palestijnse gebieden sinds Israels stichting is verviervoudigd, en Palestijnen in Israel meer rechten hebben dan de Arabieren in de meeste Arabische landen, laat staan minderheden in Arabische landen).
Wat mij steeds weer verbaast is hoe normaal we het met zijn allen vinden dat in iedere discussie over Israel de meest walgelijke en extreme uitspraken worden gedaan, het recht van het Joodse volk op zelfbeschikking wordt ontkend en de Joden worden beticht van superioriteitsgevoelens, duistere lobbies, en allerlei andere slechte zaken. Maar waag het niet om het a-woord te gebruiken! Als niet-Jood wil ik mijn walging uiten over dit soort discussies, waarin, nu de holocaust meer dan 60 jaar geleden is, iedere gêne lijkt te zijn verdwenen. Wie de schoen past trekke hem aan.
Voor mijn reactie op Jaap Hamburger zie: De Apartheid van Een Ander Joods Geluid