Middle East Monitor - Creating New Perspectives Bringing you the latest and up-to-date news from the Middle East. We go one step further, facilitating a better understanding of the issues facing the Middle East. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/component/content/frontpage Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:18:37 +0000 MEMO en-gb Israel disperses pro-Gaza rally in West Bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13087-israel-disperses-pro-gaza-rally-in-west-bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13087-israel-disperses-pro-gaza-rally-in-west-bank File photo of Israeli forces firing tear gas at Palestinian protestorsIsraeli forces on Monday dispersed Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, who gathered to show support for the embattled Gaza Strip, which has been reeling under unabated Israeli attacks for three weeks now.

Israeli forces fired teargas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators in the western Bil'in village following the Eid al-Fitr prayers to condemn ongoing Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Three protesters were injured and scores suffered temporary asphyxiation, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter.

A Palestinian protester was also detained by Israeli forces.

The West Bank has seen several pro-Gaza protests following the Eid prayers on Monday as the embattled territory has been pounded by Israeli attacks since July 7, leaving at least 1035 Palestinians dead and more than 6000 injured.

Israel claims that the military offensive aims at undermining the ability of Gaza's resistance movements to launch rocket attacks.

At least 46 Israelis – 43 soldiers and three civilians – have also been killed since the hostilities began.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:09:42 +0000
91 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza war: Hamas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13086-91-israeli-soldiers-killed-in-gaza-war-hamas https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13086-91-israeli-soldiers-killed-in-gaza-war-hamas Israeli soldiers mourn during the funeral ceremony for Israeli soldier Moshe MalkoAt least 91 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the launch of a deadly Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, Hamas's armed wing has claimed.

In a Monday statement, the Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades said that its fighters had killed 91 Israeli officers and soldiers in battles in the Gaza Strip.

According to the statement, hundreds of Israeli soldiers have also been injured in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli authorities say that 43 soldiers and three civilians have been killed since July 7 when Israel launched a military offensive in the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of halting rocket fire.

At least 1035 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6000 others injured in relentless Israeli attacks since the onslaught began almost three weeks ago.

The Israeli offensive – codenamed "Protective Edge" - is the self-proclaimed Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely populated Gaza Strip - home to 1.8 million Palestinians - within the last six years.

Report by Ola Attalah for Anadolu Agency

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:02:26 +0000
We do not fear being broken, for victory will come https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13085-we-do-not-fear-being-broken-for-victory-will-come https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13085-we-do-not-fear-being-broken-for-victory-will-come Dr Ahmad YousefOn the fourteenth night of Israel's Operation Protective Edge, the spokesperson for the Qassam Brigades announced that Israeli soldier Shaul Aaron had been captured. Gaza's streets echoed with cheering and joy. People shot bullets in the air to express their happiness and their counterparts in the West Bank filled the squares as they rejoiced in God's promise to bring a sense of ease to the believers.

The news of the captured soldier was like a bandage covering the wound caused by the Shujaiyeh massacre whose bloody scenes reminded us of other examples of Israeli aggression in Jenin, Qana and the schools in Fakhoura. The Israeli military unleashed its artillery and aircraft on the people, killing and wounding thousands. Thousands more have fled their homes, in the midst of the difficult living conditions in the Gaza Strip caused by the occupation and siege.

People in many Arab countries expressed their sense of happiness, chanting to the rhythm of "Oh Gaza" as a response to the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier. It just so happens that on that Ramadan night, millions of Muslims across the world were engaged in their nightly prayers and the asked God to protect the people of Gaza and for victory: "Oh Gaza, the home of true believers, we ask for victory against your oppressors and the highest level of paradise for those who have died and will die."

The holy month of Ramadan, throughout our Islamic history, has always been a time of victories, and Palestine, as a location and a symbol, has served as the place where many of them took place. Just as the Tatars and the Crusaders faced defeat and fell in Palestine, Gaza too is our source of pride in this operation. Victory will be written in the pages of our history and the heroes will be the likes of the Ezzedine Al-Qassam and the Aqsa Brigades. They will fight the battle against the Zionist aggressors and shake the pillars of the Israeli entity. Our flag will rise once again as a beacon between the two worlds.

The Palestinian people have always embodied qualities of sacrifice and redemption in their battle with their occupiers. Although our history reveals shocking defeats in 1948, 1956 and 1967, it is important to note that they came as a result of weak Arab attitudes. Over the years our struggle has been suffocated and limited in order to suit wider Arab agendas.

The Palestinians began their road of resistance and their struggle during the honourable Intifada of 1987 and continued on the same route during the Aqsa Intifada in 2000. Subsequent manifestations of victory began with the end of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and continued in Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012.

Today, we say to all those who are trying to demonise our honourable struggle, particularly those who are Zionist media personalities who gloat at Gaza's pain and sorrow; to those who demonise our fighters and side with Netanyahu and the Israeli aggressors; to those journalists we say, die in your anger and frustration, for Gaza is the home of honour. It will be victorious and the Palestinians will regain their prestige and honour. And all of the people who betrayed Palestine and the Ummah's promise to protect it, in order to stand with Netanyahu and his soldiers, will be so ashamed that they will not know where to hide their faces due to their sense of shame.

During this battle, the Palestinian people have regained their valiant resistance and huge sense of pride and confidence in the Almighty. This confrontation with the Zionists is one of the promises of the Hereafter where, if God wills it, the aggressors will be tormented. The time for victories and fractures has come after the Palestinians decided to take their resistance into their own hands and, if God is willing, soon we will be victorious in our fight against our Zionist enemies.

The Arab's defeats during their previous confrontations with Israel distanced us from our dream of liberation and return. However, today we are determined in our steadfastness. We have made many sacrifices as our youth and fighters demonstrated their bravery on the streets. Our people have been patient and they have learnt to anticipate all possibilities. They have learnt that it is important to keep their morale high and to work to ensure the safety of the community. Many people have learnt the art of living frugally, saving food and other supplies in order to help those who have been displaced from their homes. It is in this way that the Palestinians demonstrate their high morals and manners.

The prevailing atmosphere of today, one that is filled with brotherhood and mutual love between the people, reminds us of the first Intifada, which began on 8 December 1987 and continued until 1994. This time of need intensified the people's willingness to help one another. People lent a hand to those in more need and did not ask much about money; instead they chose the path of dignity by helping the needy.

The Palestinians today are writing a new legendary chapter, one that exemplifies exchange, sacrifice and giving as they are also recording moments of pride and prestige in the pages of our nation's history and the history of our Ummah. These histories have been damaged by some of the humiliating concessions made by certain political groups in the Palestinian arena.

Today, we are using this foundation of resistance, which has been punctured by Israel's bombs and bullets, to redirect the compass of the conflict. This foundation will take us to the path of unbelievable victories while our heads are held high. We will regain the pride of our nation without allowing an often humiliating past to haunt us.

The credit for the victory that we are achieving is largely due to God alone. Secondary credit is due to the fighters of the Qassam, Al-Quds and Nasser Saladin Brigades as well as their brothers from other groups and factions who are engaged heavily in the fight. One must not forget to credit the steadfastness of this amazing people, who have struggled to protect the sanctities of the Islamic world for more than six decades.

The political reality that will follow the battle to regain Palestinian dignity will not resemble the meek political attitudes of surrender that have been exercised in the past. The Zionists who have practiced continued aggression towards us, our land and our holy sites will pay for what they have done. They will have no choice but to retreat and they will feel the shame that comes with defeat.

If the Palestinians embark on this battle alone with honour and glory, they will be distinguished among their Arab counterparts. After all, the current attitudes of the Arab political elite evoke the following Arabic saying, "I am no longer a fighter for I am now merely a spectator." History will record this Palestinian victory just as the FLN in Algeria, who sacrificed more than a million fighters for their liberation from France, regained Algeria's sense of honour. The Palestinians will be remembered like the Mujahideen in Afghanistan who forced the great Soviet Red Army to retreat. Another great example that one must not forget is the victory of the Viet Cong against the Americans in Vietnam. These are the scenes we have to look forward to in the history of freedom struggles. He who is deserving of justice will always be victorious. The vast amount of blood that is shed and the great sacrifices that are made for the sake of freedom from oppression are what mark a country's greatness among nations and people.

Today, among the scenes of struggle and humanity, we in Gaza draw a heroic picture marked by Palestinian dignity and glory due to the sacrifices made by the resistance groups. Our message to the international, Islamic and Arab community is simple: In Gaza there is a sense of pride and we will continue to dig underground and around the walls, and through this we will either find a way to let the light in or a path to salvation that forces the occupation to hit the ground running. Or we will die as heroes on the border or in the face of the wall. Whatever happens, do not despair; we do not fear being broken. Fortomorrow victory will come; indeed, tomorrow victory will come.

Translated from Samanews, 23 July 2014

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Dr Ahmad Yousef) frontpage Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:59:39 +0000
A different Arab-Israeli war but will it end differently? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13084-a-different-arab-israeli-war-but-will-it-end-differently https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13084-a-different-arab-israeli-war-but-will-it-end-differently Jamal KhashogjiDespite all the rhetoric about the Palestinian issue, such as it being "the Arab's first cause"; the central, principal, existential and mother of causes; the initiator of revolutions and coups; and the justification for astronomical military spending, and so on; despite all of this, we, as Arabs and for more than 70 years, have never seriously fought against Israel. Our wars with it were always brief and we always deployed in them more propaganda and speeches than dedicated military planning. We never prepared long or well for them and we never showed patience or endurance. Most of those wars were waged against us rather than us waging a jihad. Even the 1948 and 1973 wars, which were initiated by the Arabs, were brief, confused and with limited political objectives; they were nowhere near decisive liberation wars.

In order for the picture to be clearer, let us compare the Bosnian war (1992-1995) with the entire canon of Arab-Israeli wars. The Bosnians fought with the determination of a full "independence war"; they had to either win completely or be defeated completely. They dedicated all their effort, sacrifices, men and women for that war. They did not consider the problem of the balance of power nor did they pay much attention to the unfavourable international or regional circumstances. They suffered bitterly due to being let down and being conspired against. Yet, they made use of what was available to them, whether it was a little or a lot. They dealt with whoever was prepared to help them irrespective of motives and irrespective of sincerity or insincerity. Diverse parties that rarely converge rallied around them: the Saudis, the Turks, the Iranians and even the Malaysians from the far end of the globe all played a role. What mattered for them was victory. Had they hesitated or had they given priority to the "wisdom" of those who advised them to "accept whatever little your Serbian enemy was willing to throw to you and then negotiate with it", they would have today become an oppressed minority that negotiates with a racist Serbian entity that hates their guts.

This is what the Divine has ordained would happen with any people who seek "full freedom": Algeria, Vietnam, Ireland and Nazi-occupied Europe are all examples. Freedom comes at a cost; its price involves blood and death. This is not mere rhetoric but a recurrent political and historical analysis.

The Palestinian is the only one who has not fought a long war for freedom since his historic revolution in 1936, which was almost decisive; until the war raging in Gaza right now. This is because the Palestinian handed over his cause to the Arabs and the Arabs have their own reckonings and rulers and their rulers have their own interests and priorities. Whenever they lost a war with Israel they would abandon Palestine and its people to their own fate and return to their own countries to renovate them and protect whatever remained in order to continue ruling. They would be content with sending the Palestinians promises, speeches and poems. What mattered for them was for the party to survive and for the leader to survive and for whatever remained of the homeland to survive so that the regime would stay in power.

The Ramadan 1435 (2014 CE) War is a different type of war. It is a purely Palestinian war from start to finish. This is something we have not seen before. The Arabs are standing completely aloof. In fact, most of them have shown displeasure and impatience. However, the Palestinian has been able to impose his decisions on all. This is how Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh appeared, taking pride as they spoke confidentially, spelling-out new conditions and describing a new reality. They have revived the Palestinian issue.

Everything in this war is new, including the weapons that entered Gaza; how did they enter despite the siege? Thousands of rockets entered a small country that is besieged from the land, sea and air. This fact alone is a miracle. Some people thought the tunnels were for bringing in rice, sugar and diesel as well as a few machine-guns and some explosives. They were closed, destroyed and filled with water. Yet, tons of explosives came through and so did hundreds of rockets. Smuggling 7 metre-long Grad rockets was a miracle. How did they pass through? Did they come through the tunnels or by sea? Hamas possesses hundreds of them; how did they do it? No one can believe that it benefited from the year that deposed President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were in power in Cairo. Is it possible that Egypt lowered its gaze during that time allowing the rockets to cross the border? Really? Everyone knows that Morsi did not have a free hand in terms of military and intelligence affairs. Israel and its intelligence must be busy trying to resolve the riddle in order to prevent it from recurring. However, if Hamas under siege was able to smuggle all these weapons, something that the late President Yasser Arafat was unable to do and was punished severely for merely trying despite heading an organisation with extensive international contacts and resources, then the movement can do it again.

The distinguished combat performance of its men and the huge network of tunnels that extends for miles under Gaza and the borders with Israel and Egypt were used brilliantly to inflict unprecedented losses on the enemy; they will be used and reused whenever the enemy invades. All of this proves that the movement wasted no time while ruling in Gaza. The Israelis acknowledge this performance and are apprehensive. This could be the biggest deterrent that will prevent Israel from invading the Strip and reoccupying it. Perhaps Hamas wants Israel to do just this in order to engage in a long war of liberation, a war that will inevitably spill over into the West Bank which is also boiling and might end up overturning everything established post-Oslo.

Another significant accomplishment made by this stubborn Palestinian combatant has been the national unity shown by the people of Gaza and their readiness to sacrifice; their readiness to die rather than return to a humiliating life under an inhumane siege. The Israelis are left with nothing but the complete destruction of the whole of Gaza. However, who can finish off a million Palestinians?

The other new and important thing is that the Palestinian today is, unlike in previous Arab wars, the one imposing ceasefire conditions. He has nothing left to lose. He is not concerned about an Israeli threat to bomb or occupy Cairo, Amman or Damascus. At one time that was the weak point of the Arab armies when they were defeated. With the stubborn Palestinian combatant Israel has lost that sharp edge, for he has been under occupation, anyway, whether in Ramallah or in Gaza. In the meantime the Israeli moves freely and does what he wills across the West Bank. Direct occupation is not in the Israeli interest and the Palestinian combatant knows this very well and is using it for his own good. This is truly a new fact.

The new thing, above all, is that the Palestinian is ready for a long, long fight. This is a strategic transformation. If he could maintain this solid fighting doctrine, he will change the rules of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He will be a stronger negotiator and will gain the respect of the world, which respects only the strong and despises the weak.

Had the late Bosnian leader Alia Izetbegovic surrendered earlier, having been wounded severely and having seen his people die in their thousands in massacres perpetrated in front of the entire world, even under formal European protection, then US President Bill Clinton would not have moved in August 1995 against Europe's wishes and led NATO to bomb the Serbs and force them to come to the negotiating table to accept the independence of Bosnia Hercegovina.

No one will bomb Israel. But should the Palestinian hold fast this time, the peace negotiations, which failed several months ago despite the eagerness and optimism shown by US Secretary of State John Kerry, will get more serious and will cover the real causes of the of the war in Gaza; and will cover the occupation and the siege not only in Gaza but in the West Bank too. At that moment, the Arabs would have to join the stubborn Palestinian combatant, aiding and supporting him, and should forget everything they said and did or did not do during this time of Arab decline.

Translated from Al Hayat newspaper, 27 July 2014

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Jamal Khashogji) frontpage Mon, 28 Jul 2014 06:55:07 +0000
Morsi supporters commemorate anniversary of 'Memorial Statue Massacre' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13083-morsi-supporters-commemorate-anniversary-of-memorial-statue-massacre https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13083-morsi-supporters-commemorate-anniversary-of-memorial-statue-massacre File photo from the unrest that followed the coup last summerDozens of supporters of the ousted president Mohamed Morsi held a brief protest in front of the Memorial Statue in Nasr City neighborhood in Cairo on Saturday to commemorate a massacre that occurred in the same place last year.

The protest only lasted for 15 minutes to avoid police crackdown, Anadolu reported.

The protesters called for retribution for the victims of the massacre, at least 80, and demanded an end to military rule.

On July 27 2013, police forces killed at least 80 protesters and injured 300 others in its attempt to break up a sit-in by anti-coup protesters.

The Anti-Coup National Alliance has called for protests during the Eid break, which it dubbed as "the Eid of martyrs", in preparation for the "August 14 Uprising" on the first anniversary of the August 14 Rabaa Massacre.

Since the army's overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi last summer, his supporters have been staging daily protests calling for his reinstatement and an end to military rule.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:03:45 +0000
Hamas says ceasefire initiative must reflect Palestinian sacrifices https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13082-hamas-says-ceasefire-initiative-must-reflect-palestinian-sacrifices https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13082-hamas-says-ceasefire-initiative-must-reflect-palestinian-sacrifices Mahmoud Al-ZaharA member of the Hamas political bureau, Mahmoud Zahar, said in a statement on Saturday that any international initiative for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip "must be commensurate with the sacrifices of the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian resistance groups' outstanding capabilities", the Anadolu news agency has reported.

The twelve hours humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions ended at 20:00 local time. Both parties agreed to a UN request to halt fighting for twelve hours to allow delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the Strip. According to Haaretz newspaper, political sources said that the Israeli government decided to extend the humanitarian ceasefire for another 24 hours ending at midnight on Sunday.

The Israeli army has been waging a war against the Gaza Strip which has killed 1,047 Palestinians and injured nearly 5,900 more, Palestinian medical sources revealed. Most of the victims are civilians.

Israel's intensive and brutal raids against the people of Gaza have destroyed almost 2,000 homes and damaged 22,600 others. The Ministry of Public Works said that 1,680 housing units are now totally uninhabitable.

Sources in Israel also claim that 42 soldiers and three civilians have been killed and 463 wounded, most of whom are also civilians. The armed wing of Hamas, Al-Qassam Brigades, claims that 80 Israeli soldiers have been killed in action. One soldier has been captured by the resistance group.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:02:15 +0000
Davutoglu: We support Hamas because it embraces the Palestinian cause https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13081-davutoglu-we-support-hamas-because-it-embraces-the-palestinian-cause https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13081-davutoglu-we-support-hamas-because-it-embraces-the-palestinian-cause Ahmet DovutogluTurkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that his government supports the positions of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, "because it embraces the Palestinian cause and struggles for its people." In an interview with a local TV channel on Saturday, Davutoglu stressed that his government supports any organisation or individuals who serve the interests of Palestinians.

"Those who criticise Turkey's support for Hamas are not aware of the balance of power in the Middle East," he said. Hamas should not be discarded from any ceasefire efforts, he added. Excluding Hamas from discussions, he claimed, is the reason for the delay in reaching a ceasefire. "The will of Palestinians should not be ignored," he insisted.

Stressing the importance of Egypt's role in the Palestinian cause, the minister pointed out that the most essential party to any ceasefire agreement is the people of Palestine, including Hamas and other resistance groups.

"Hamas is not an authoritarian movement as some claim," said Davutoglu. "There are diverse thoughts and opinions within Hamas, and it's not controlled by one individual. It's based on consultation."

Furthermore, Davutoglu pointed out that Hamas is not an international movement, but rather a national resistance movement that struggles for the defence of its land against occupation. "There are no foreign fighters in Hamas," he noted.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:59:49 +0000
Kidnap Briton released in Yemen https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13080-kidnap-briton-released-in-yemen https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13080-kidnap-briton-released-in-yemen Yemen Flag

A British man who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in the Yemeni capital Sanaa was freed on Saturday, the Anadolu news agency has reported.

An anonymous Yemeni security source said that mediation efforts by the governor of Al-Jouf, Mohammed Bin Abboud, led to the release of Michael Harvey, an English teacher working in the country.

The source did not provide details of the kidnappers' identity, their demands or the mechanism that led to Harvey's release. However, local media said that a ransom of fifty million Yemeni riyals ($233,000) was paid.

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped Harvey, who works at a language institute in Sanaa. He was returning from work in mid-February when he was taken.

Gunmen in Yemen use kidnapping as a tool to put pressure on the authorities to meet their demands including the release of prisoners, or simply to collect ransom money.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:55:41 +0000
Mauritania breaks diplomatic stalemate with Morocco https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13079-mauritania-breaks-diplomatic-stalemate-with-morocco https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13079-mauritania-breaks-diplomatic-stalemate-with-morocco Mohamed Ould Abdel AzizKing Mohammed VI of Morocco has received a letter from the president of Mauritania in a move seen by many observers that could restore diplomatic relations between Rabat and Nouakchott. The relationship has been described as rigid and cold over the past few years.

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz sent the letter via his foreign minister, Ahmed Ould Teguedi on Saturday. He wished Morocco "continued progress and prosperity"; no further details of the content were revealed.

Bilateral relations between Morocco and Mauritania have been stalled in recent years, despite denials from both countries. The Mauritanian president has visited all of the Maghreb countries, except Morocco, since he took power in 2009. He declined an invitation in 2012 and in January this year the government in Nouakchott refused to accept a new Moroccan consul. The position of Mauritanian ambassador to Rabat has been vacant for two years.

Morocco is unhappy at Mauritania's recognition of the Polisario Front and accuses Nouakchott of clear and unprecedented bias towards Algeria's position, which also supports the organisation. The Polisario Front is demanding independence for the Western Sahara from Morocco.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:46:41 +0000
Saudi poll shows massive support for Palestinian resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13078-saudi-poll-shows-massive-support-for-palestinian-resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13078-saudi-poll-shows-massive-support-for-palestinian-resistance Photo of smoke rising from Gaza city, as Israel continues shellingA poll conducted by Rakin Saudi pollsters has disclosed that 95 per cent of the Saudi people support the continuation of Palestinian resistance factions. Only 3 per cent of those questioned disagreed with the groups.

The poll, which included 2,000 Saudis and was published by the country's leading pollster, showed that 82 per cent of the sample supported the firing of rockets against Israel; only 14 per cent opposed it.

While 97 per cent of the sample believed that the Israeli onslaught on Gaza was unjustified, 3 per cent said that it was in self-defence. More than two-thirds of those questioned supported military action against Israel, with just under one-fifth opposing it.

When asked about Hamas, 86 per cent of the respondents identified it correctly as a resistance movement. Four per cent noted that it is an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood "and is there to serve its agenda". Two per cent believe that it is an Iranian organisation, with 1 per cent said that Hamas is an "Israeli tool".

A majority, 51 Per cent, of those asked by the Saudi poll held the Arab regimes responsible for what is going on in Gaza; 40 per cent said that Israel has the greatest responsibility. Just 3 per cent blamed Hamas; 5 per cent put the blame on the West.

Almost three-quarters of the Saudis polled said that they would volunteer to fight in Palestine. One-fifth couldn't say what they would do.

In order to achieve justice, said 86 per cent, the occupation must end. Almost 10 per cent thought that a single state solution would be best. Just 4 per cent supported the two-state solution.

As reported by Arabi 21

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:27:58 +0000
Egypt's Sisi blocks Gaza ceasefire to appease his American allies, expert https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13077-egypts-sisi-blocks-gaza-ceasefire-to-appease-his-american-allies-expert https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13077-egypts-sisi-blocks-gaza-ceasefire-to-appease-his-american-allies-expert Abdel Fattah Al-SisiEgyptian president and ex-army chief Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi insists to hinder any ceasefire in Gaza to please the Americans, an expert said.

Durham University political scientist Dr Ahmed Tohamy accused "the coup authorities", led by Sisi, of seeking to abort any Gaza ceasefire efforts "in a bid to monopolise the ceasefire file in a manner that appeases their allies in the US administration."

He cited the recent statements by the Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, who said that the Egyptian initiative is the only way to stop bloodshed, and the government's refusal to incorporate the demands of Palestinians in the initiative.

"When the resistance looks for an honest broker away from the biased Egyptian authorities, the latter selfishly attempts to hinder these efforts at the expense of the blood of innocent Palestinians," he said in a Facebook post.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:26:33 +0000
Lieberman calls Gaza devastation a 'good thing' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13076-lieberman-calls-gaza-devastation-a-good-thing https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13076-lieberman-calls-gaza-devastation-a-good-thing Avigdor LiebermanIsraeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that the Israeli army will continue its military operations in the Gaza Strip after the end of the ceasefire, and described the images of devastation in Gaza as a "good thing".

Speaking to Yedioth Ahranoth newspaper, the far-right politician said that Israel must ensure the security of Israeli citizens, no matter how many hours and days it takes. "The truce will end at midnight and I have no doubt that the army will continue its operations with full force, and then we'll see results."

When asked about scenes of massive destruction that have been broadcast from the Gaza Strip, he said "our soldiers did a good job." The military, he added, has "full authority" to achieve the goals set by the Israeli cabinet.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said that he would obstruct any agreement for a ceasefire, adding that the goal of the military campaign is to dismantle Hamas rockets and destroy the tunnels. He stressed that pressure should be increased until those goals are realised. "It will take a month to destroy Hamas tunnels completely, not two or three days," Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon claimed last week.

Israeli ministers and Knesset members of the Likud Party have expressed their opposition to any ceasefire agreement with the Palestinian factions in Gaza. According to Minister of Internal Affairs Gideon Sa'ar, "Israel should reject any pressure to extend the ceasefire and must continue the military campaign and expand it to undermine Hamas infrastructure." His views were shared by a number of his colleagues.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:19:40 +0000
Iraq's Maliki to run for third term https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13075-iraqs-maliki-to-run-for-third-term https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13075-iraqs-maliki-to-run-for-third-term Nouri Al-MalikiThe outgoing Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki will run for a third term in office following the Eid break, a leader in Maliki's coalition said Sunday.

According to Khaled Al-Asady, a leading member of the State of Law Coalition led by Maliki, the coalition will nominate the latter as its candidate for prime minister if the Shiite National Alliance fails to name a candidate by the end of Eid.

In statements to Anadolu news agency, Asady said: "The National Alliance has ample time until the end of the Eid break to agree on a candidate for the prime minister's position. In case it doesn't name a candidate, the State of Law coalition will have to nominate Nouri al-Maliki as a candidate, in its capacity as the largest coalition in the parliament."

He pointed out that the constitutional process will proceed regardless of the result of nominating Maliki. "All parties should respect constitutional procedures," he said.

If Maliki succeeds in forming a government and gaining the parliament's confidence, he will continue to lead it. Otherwise, the president of the republic should assign another candidate to form a government, Asady said.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:36:43 +0000
Is this about Gaza and Hamas or the Palestinian cause and nation? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13073-is-this-about-gaza-and-hamas-or-the-palestinian-cause-and-nation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13073-is-this-about-gaza-and-hamas-or-the-palestinian-cause-and-nation Yassir Al ZaataraIs the current conflict about Gaza and Hamas or is it about the Palestinian cause and nation? This is an extremely important question, because some people are too hasty and connect the on-going Israeli aggression against Hamas only, or the Gaza Strip, as if the enclave is not part of Palestine and what is happening there is not related to what is going on across the entire region.

If this was accepted in the past, before the "Palestinian reconciliation", or the unity government, things have changed, although the reality is that it's never been any different. Shaikh Ahmed Yasin did not establish the Hamas movement to liberate the Gaza Strip and make a state out of it; the movement was established for Palestine as a whole. The Fatah-Hamas split in 2007 was not calculated by Hamas in advance; it was dragged into it by Fatah rebel Mohamed Dahlan's underhand plotting.

There is no doubt that this is part of the Zionist enemy's agenda, and not linked to other, complementary, agendas even though they share the same broad aims and objectives. They include the destruction of the Arab Spring and teaching the people a severe lesson for rebelling against the established orders. The aim is to deter others from thinking that they can demand political reform.

This is the agenda of the counter-revolutions based on destroying the Arab Spring and creating a stage for chaos and suffering. Regimes have made this a priority for their policies. Islamists are targeted not as an independent ideologically-founded state but as pioneers for change and reform. However, if the Arab Spring revolutions had been led by other groups, the Islamists would still be the main target of the counter-revolutionaries, for there are those who have more enmity towards them due to competition for religious legitimacy.

Political priorities make it natural for the counter-revolution regimes to seek common ground with the Zionist entity and perhaps other deals under the table about which we don't know. A few weeks ago, Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told a "security" conference, "We've had enough secret meetings with Arab politicians, and we want meetings to be in the open."

In working with the Israelis, counter- and anti-revolution regimes target the Islamists indirectly because the conflict with the Zionist state has always been a priority for the Muslim political movements. They have stood up to it and know that its leaders have the ears of the world's politicians.

Anyone who wants to target his own people must first make peace with his enemy; this has been seen historically with the Muslim kings of the "taifas" in Spain who used to run to their enemies to help them face their brothers in religion. Today, we see leaders of the regimes opposed to the headache of democracy and pluralism, which the West adopts theoretically, seeking to reconcile with the most influential entity in the region.

In this regard, we have seen how Netanyahu was the most supportive of the coup in Egypt, and he's the one who secured American and Western support for Al-Sisi. Hence, it was necessary that Al-Sisi would pay the price by targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip, enforcing the Israeli blockade, and by supporting the absurd path taken by Mahmoud Abbas which provides safety and security for the Zionist state.

Let us remember that the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative was announced through an interview with American journalist Thomas L Freidman at a time when those behind it were suffering from western pressures pushing them towards democracy. The lack of democracy in the major Arab states was said by the West to be a reason for Muslims to get involved in the 9/11 attacks on the US. The initiative was both interesting and rather exciting for it contained concessions and promises of normalisation with Israel, which were not really appreciated by the Zionists, who regarded it as one of many stages in the "peace process". It was exciting for it to be announced while Ariel Sharon's tanks were invading the West Bank in what was known then as Operation Defensive Shield. The situation of Hamas today is almost the same as far as the conspiracy and siege against the movement are concerned; they resemble the situation of besieged Yasser Arafat, who was dismayed that none of the Arab leaders were even answering his telephone calls.

History repeats itself, and so we see those who want to get rid of the obsession with revolutions and democracy turn to Israel again to provide them with protection against the democratic winds on one side and Hamas on the other. The fact that the Islamic movement refuses to reject resistance against Israel's occupation, or surrender, is a thorn in the Arab regimes' collective side. It is also one of the most important levers for the Islamic trend in the Middle East.

The price that Netanyahu wants in exchange for supporting the destruction of the Arab Spring is cover for his attack on the Islamists not only in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank. Even if he decides to re-occupy the Strip physically, he will not stay there; it will be handed over to Abbas's Palestinian Authority, or to Mohamed Dahlan. Either way, he wants to bury Hamas in a maze of disfigured compromises.

The Gaza Strip is not part of "Israel" and the Zionist leaders do not want it; if the Egyptians agreed to take it they would get it. However, Netanyahu et al see Gaza as a Hamas base for resistance on behalf of the whole of Palestine and not as an independent statelet. Had the movement accepted that it could have a separate entity and did not arm itself, it wouldn't have been targeted.

Right now, Netanyahu's eye is on using the conditions in the whole region in order to impose what he wants in his conflict with the Palestinians and he has no one else but Mahmoud Abbas as a "partner". Abbas has proven to be the best when it comes to policies that serve the occupation, and there is no use for the principles to which he claims to adhere as long as he offers everything that the occupation authorities want, especially in terms of security.

They want to wipe out Hamas and all of its weapons not only to get rid of the headache that the movement and the Gaza Strip are causing, but also so that it can no longer be a hindrance to the path chosen by Abbas. If it agrees, Hamas would have to accept that it would be the opposition group in an entity called a state, but which has only 12 per cent of historic Palestine and no control over its borders or skies.

This is the reality of the current attack on Gaza and the reality of the conspiracy against Hamas and the Palestinian nation. The Zionists want to use the exceptional circumstances in the region to impose a political solution, or at least a political path, in Palestine that would relieve them of a burden for a long time. As such, it is clear that Hamas is not fighting for the Gaza Strip alone or for the movement itself; it is trying to keep the entire Palestinian cause alive, which insists on freedom and justice and continues its struggle no matter what price it has to pay.

Translated from Al Jazeera net, 21 July 2014

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Yassir Al Zaatara) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:27:20 +0000
Egypt: 20 per cent rise in meat prices ahead of Eid https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13072-egypt-20-per-cent-rise-in-meat-prices-ahead-of-eid https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13072-egypt-20-per-cent-rise-in-meat-prices-ahead-of-eid Egyptian flagPrices of meat and poultry have dramatically risen by 20 per cent compared to the previous month ahead of the Eid feast in Egypt, Masr Al-Arabiya reported.

A report by the Chambers of Commerce Union early this month indicated that the rise in meat prices was due to the drop in meat supply in the market compared to the same period last year.

The vice president of the butchers division at the CCU, Haitham Abdelbaset, said that prices have risen due to the reluctance by farmers to establish livestock farms, which led to the lack of livestock supply in the market.

Simultaneously, the increase in demand in Ramadan and the approaching Eid Al Fitr has contributed to the price hikes, he said.

He pointed out that citizens are refraining from cattle breeding due to the high cost of production inputs, as well as the high feed prices and poor veterinary care. He expects that the rise in fuel prices will lead to a subsequent rise in meat prices by the upcoming Eid al Adha, probably reaching 30 per cent.

Similarly, poultry prices have witnessed a 20 per cent increase in Ramadan. According to Abdulaziz Alsayed, the chairman of the poultry division in the CCU, the price rise is due to the impact of the hot summer weather in Egypt which has led to the death of a large number of poultry in farms.

Alsayed held the government responsible for the high mortality rates in Egyptian farms, accusing it of being unable to protect the poultry market investments in the country.

The poor care and the high mortality rates has decreased the market supply, and accordingly led to a rise in poultry prices, he said.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:23:41 +0000
Resistance shows the way to reclaim historical liberation struggle https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13071-resistance-shows-the-way-to-reclaim-historical-liberation-struggle https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13071-resistance-shows-the-way-to-reclaim-historical-liberation-struggle Al-Qassam Bridgade soldiersSupport for Palestinian armed resistance against the latest colonial massacre labelled by Israel as "Operation Protective Edge" has been endorsed internationally. This signifies a departure from decades of compromise in the form of the imperialist usurpation entitled the "two-state solution". Protests against Israel have erupted worldwide, creating a pronounced difference between internationalist solidarity from the masses and the predictable bias shared by Israel's allies.

Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah have been particularly vociferous about support for the Palestinian armed struggle which, in turn, elicits a deeper reflection of the extent to which resistance is endorsed and advocated. Political concessions over the original struggle against Zionist settler-colonisation resulted in varying levels of support, with many world leaders expressing compromised support for Palestine in order to retain the benefits of dealing with the fabricated Israeli state recognised by the UN. The trend remains evident even within the context of the latest massacre, prosecuted deceitfully upon the alleged involvement of Hamas in the deaths of the three teenage settlers, a premise which Israel has now admitted was unfounded.

Reports regarding the latest Human Rights Council Special Session in Geneva illustrate the recurring trend of attempting to achieve balance, with several countries "condemning equally" Hamas rockets in a bid to appease Israel. In perfect synchronisation, such countries also referred to international law as a plausible and impartial solution to "hostilities", conveniently disregarding the interpretations which have allowed Israel to germinate an aura of impunity; the main culprits are the US, UK and UN. For them, the murder of Palestinian civilians remains nothing more than rhetorical embellishment, bequeathed with an interpretation divested of settler-colonial impact.

Statements by the Iranian Foreign Ministry have been explicit in their support for Palestinian resistance. According to reports on Press TV, the ministry stated, "At a time that the Zionist entity is concentrating its mind on the annihilation of the basic rights of the Palestinian people, the only way to confront the Zionists' bullying will be resistance." The "ferocious massacre of defenceless Palestinian women and children" since the start of the holy [fasting] month of Ramadan, added the statement, "puts the seal of approval on the savagery and the barbaric nature of a regime which resorts to every tool to reach its objectives."

The Tehran Times also reported about protests organised in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The rallies, in which Iranian officials participated, were marked by adamant criticism of reliance on imperialists for justice. "The Palestinian people will not acquire their rights through reliance on international organisations," declared Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

According to Aljazeera America, the Brigadier General and Commander of the Revolutionary Guard Air Force, Amir Ali Hajizadel, called for the Palestinians to be armed, regardless of their location. "We believe that the West Bank, too, should be armed just like Gaza," he argued, "and those who are interested in the fate of the Palestinians must work in this respect so that the pains and miseries of the Palestinian people will be lessened." Iran's Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani also emphasised Iran's role in Palestinian resistance by stating that the country aided Hamas through the provision of technology to manufacture better weapons.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called Hamas's resistance an "emerging triumphant force". In a speech in Beirut, Nasrallah declared: "Hamas, relying on armed resistance, has emerged the victor in Gaza. Israel and the rest of the world have failed to achieve their targets." Nasrallah reserved harsh criticism for Arab leaders' complicity with Israel and vowed continuous support for all Palestinian resistance factions. According to Lebanon's Daily Star, he insisted that Hezbollah stands beside the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance without exception. Commenting on the shift in resistance strategy, Nasrallah added, "With this formula, the resistance succeeded in imposing new methods on the enemy, and that's not easy for someone like Netanyahu to admit."

In order to be authentic, support for Palestinian armed struggle must reflect unity between the land and the people, identified historically by the main Palestinian factions as absolute, as well as a proper recognition of what constitutes "the enemy". This approach was studied meticulously by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), whose manifesto "Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine" emphasises the importance of political thought as the means of defining Palestine's enemies. The PFLP manifesto defines four entities: Israel, the World Zionist Movement, world imperialism and Arab reaction represented by feudalism and capitalism.

Prior to the corrosion of resistance through negotiations and concessions, Palestinian factions engaged in ideological strategy combined with armed resistance. Hence, the provision of a proper focus upon the necessity of eliminating settler-colonialism in Palestine, as evidenced in the original charters pertaining to resistance groups.

The Palestinian National Charter, endorsed in 1964, affirmed armed struggle as the only means to achieve liberation. Besides refusing recognition of the UN's 1947 partition resolution explicitly, the charter recognised the liberation of Palestine from an internationalist perspective, as "a defensive act necessitated by the requirements of self-defence". Article 22 of the charter affirmed Zionism as an extension of world imperialism, a concept since eliminated through decades of negotiations resulting in the consolidation of Israel's settler-colonial project. "Israel is the tool of the Zionist movement and is a human and geographic base for world imperialism," insisted the text.

The Hamas Covenant of 1988 recognises the historical links of the Palestinian resistance by positioning the movement as a continuation of the struggle against Zionist colonial invasion since 1948. It also rejected the spuriousness of international conferences as a means of "solving the Palestinian question", declaring such initiatives as detrimental to Palestinian liberation. Isolation is mentioned explicitly: "World Zionism, together with imperialistic powers, tries through a studied plan and an intelligent strategy to remove one Arab state after another from the circle of struggle against Zionism, in order to have it finally face the Palestinian people only." (Article 32)

What the Palestinian resistance will achieve following the renewed embrace of legitimate armed resistance depends upon interpretation and subsequent political agenda. The main Palestinian factions, Hamas and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority, have both relinquished the objective of the total liberation of Palestine in previous years. This tragedy was cemented by the formation of the Palestinian unity government which requires absolute acquiescence towards implementing the hypothetical and hypocritical two-state solution. The unity government seems to have faded from centre stage following the massacres perpetrated by Israel in Gaza over the month of Ramadan, which have succeeded in uniting the Palestinian people irrespective of location, experience or political affiliation. If focus shifts from political compromise to unified resistance, Israel would face an authentic challenge, one that does not simply call for an end to military occupation without reinforcing the fight against the historical process of settler-colonialism. If, as many are arguing vociferously, liberation is the aim of the current resistance, with an end to settler-colonialism and the restoration of the land to the rightful indigenous population in its entirety, Israel should be coming to terms with its own demise in terms of structure, demography and the fragmentation of its own myths.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Ramona Wadi) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 10:54:16 +0000
Killing Palestine - When will enough be enough? https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13070-killing-palestine-when-will-enough-be-enough https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13070-killing-palestine-when-will-enough-be-enough Ayelet ShakedIn yet another gruesome display of violence and bloodshed, Israel has declared war on the Gaza strip, its prime minister having announced that an example would have to be made out of Hamas for peace to ever have a chance to flourish.

Under PM Benjamin Netanyahu's impetus, Israel's peace will be negotiated with hard iron, guns pressed onto women and children's neck, since all Palestinians have been labelled terrorists.

But this new war on Gaza has little to do with peace and even less to do with terrorism, unless of course one would be willing to admit that killing and maiming innocent civilian populations would actually qualify, in which case the award would go to Israel.

Israel is not the victim western media have quite clumsily and desperately attempted to portray; the horrors which have unfolded before the world's communities, the ever mounting death toll, the images of wounded children, dead children, orphaned children should suffice as testament to Israel's barbaric streak.

But Israel, the apartheid state, the terror state, the racist state, the police state wants the world to empathize and sympathize with its people. It wants to project onto the world this idea that its people, the so-called "Chosen People" have, because of their inherent superiority the right, and to an extent the duty to annihilate whoever and whatever they perceive as a threat to their existence.

Waving the guilt of the holocaust as a protective cloak, Israel has perpetuated this idea that its people can bear no critic and face no opposition. Forever the victim, forever the martyr of the world, Israel feels the world ought to bow before its will, never to challenge its actions as its very existence has been ordained by God.

It is such a narrative which has driven the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since 1948. Because Nazi Germany committed genocide against the Jews, Israel was given a licence to kill on Palestine. Because the world felt too guilty to argue with Zionits' calls for a state of Israel, Palestine was made to burn and cry.

Because the world has been blinded by lies, Palestine has stood to suffer decades of humiliation and injustice. A perfectly well-oiled terror machine, Israel has committed more crimes against humanity than any so-called democracy.

Israel cannot claim moral high ground against Palestine, it has lost the right to ever be granted the luxury of a tear as its land is still soaked with the blood of the innocent.

Israel's buildings have been erected on stolen lands, its fields bear the stolen fruits of Palestine, its people claimed ownership of a land which was never theirs to have.

Israel's hatred

Because Israel has been driving the propaganda bus, always pushing for the demonization of Palestine, its people, its politicians, it is often too easy to forget that it is Palestinians who are paying with their lives for Israel's aggression.

Driven into a crazed trance by Prime Minister Netanyahu over the death of three young settlers, whose death it is important to note was exploited by the government to sell yet another war on Gaza, Israelis have spit their venom at Palestinians in the most horrific manner, revealing to the world the extent of their hatred, the blackness of their hearts.

Israel is the monster not Palestine.

In a detailed report Electronic Intifada clearly outlined Netanyahu's deceit, detailing how his cabinet chose to stage a revenge campaign against Hamas to revert into a state of war and thus refocus Israel's attention toward the cause which has been feeding its very life force – the destruction of Palestine.

Israel's June rescue show, the calls for the return of Israel's three youth after their disappearance, was all but an elaborated plan set in place to legitimize another war, another bloodshed on Gaza.

"Max Blumenthal has documented it was all a shameful and cynical political show. The Israeli leadership knew within the first day of their disappearance that the youths were dead; bullet holes, blood samples and a telephone recording provided evidence of what happened. But the ever-receptive Jewish-Israeli public demanded revenge and by the time the extent of the sham was revealed, the Israelis had killed nine people in the West Bank and three more in the Gaza Strip through missiles they fired in "retaliation" for the West Bank murders," wrote Ahmed Moor.

But Israel' sickening gist would not end at the unwarranted and illegal brutalization of an entire people. Israel pushed the envelope further yet, revealing the true nature of its essence.

Following weeks of what can only be described as a vicious, racist campaign against Palestinians Netanyahu has quite overwhelmingly convinced his people that Palestinians are lesser human beings destined to die under the mighty boot of Israel.

Regardless of officials claims before the international community that Israel is a moral people, a good people; Israel has shown its true colours too many times for the world to care to ignore.

When officials have felt so bold as to openly call for the massacre of all Palestinians – women, children and the elderly - there is little moral ground to be had.

Earlier this week Israeli politician, Ayelet Shaked, wrote in a controversial Facebook post, "all Palestinians are our enemies...Israel should declare war on the entire [Palestinian] people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure."

Many Israeli Facebook users have posted violent and disturbing content on their personal accounts. Talya Shilok Edry, who has more than one thousand followers, posted the following "status": "What an orgasm to see the Israeli Defense Forces bomb buildings in Gaza with children and families at the same time. Boom boom."

Edry's Facebook timeline shows a pattern of calls for bloodshed against Palestinians. Writing about the murdered sixteen-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair, who was kidnapped and burned alive by Israeli youth, she stated: "Sweet settlers, next time you kidnap an Arab boy, call me and let me torture him!! Why do you get to have all the fun?"

And yet, Palestinians are made to bear the blame.

While Israel rains death and terror onto Palestine much of the world has looked onto Palestine and in a perfect paradox called on its people to look for peace. But how can there be peace when Israel continues to deny Palestinians the right to exist?

Where else on earth is there a system where a government tolerates and condones its citizen to infringe on another people' sovereignty – illegal settlements – while arguing it is legitimate?

Is there ever a justification for the targeting of children? Is it ever legitimate to brutalize and terrorize children on account of their ethnicity? Is it ever moral to impeded on another's most basic human rights and yet pretend to righteousness?

Israel is the monster not Palestine.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Catherine Shakdam) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:01:15 +0000
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon commemorate Gaza massacre victims with balloon release https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/lifestyle/13069-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon-commemorate-gaza-massacre-victims-with-balloon-release https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/lifestyle/13069-palestinian-refugees-in-lebanon-commemorate-gaza-massacre-victims-with-balloon-release Community members gather on the beach for the balloon release.IMAGES

Dozens of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and their supporters commemorated the Palestinian victims of Israel's indiscriminate campaign of violence in Shujaiya, Gaza by releasing balloons symbolising those Palestinians who had been killed.

Convoys of youths and community members departed from several community centres at the Burj Shemali and Rashidieh refugee camps, near Tyre (Sur) in Southern Lebanon, to a local beach. Upon arrival, a Palestinian student band played various national songs as students tied nametags for the dead to red, black, white, and green balloons.

The community members held signs calling on the world to stop Israel's mass slaughter in Gaza and emphasising the genocidal nature of the Israeli offensive. They also proudly embraced their right to resist the Israeli occupation, as well as their legal right to return to Palestine.

The on-going Israeli assault on Gaza has so far claimed more than 1,000 Palestinian lives, most of whom are civilians. Israel killed over one hundred people during a single night of bombardment in the east Gaza neighbourhood of Shujaiya. Journalists and international volunteers observing the Shujaiya massacre have risked death themselves to report the indiscriminate shelling by Israeli forces, the bombardment of ambulances and the killing of medical staff and journalists, as well as morgues overflowing with bodies.

Amith Gupta is a US-based Palestine solidarity activist. He is currently volunteering as a teacher at the Rashidieh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, where he teaches Palestinian and Syrian refugees. Yeou-Shiuh Hsu contributed some photos for this article.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Amith Gupta) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 01:42:30 +0000
EU must acknowledge the reality of Iraqi divisions https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13068-eu-must-acknowledge-the-reality-of-iraqi-divisions https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13068-eu-must-acknowledge-the-reality-of-iraqi-divisions Iraq ISIS MilitantsAs Iraq's delicate sectarian make-up has been gradually ripped open and existential battles have ignited, the West has so far passed resolutions blindly. These are based on the supposed "unity" of the state and "territorial integrity" as essentials for stability and economic development.

At least, though, members of the European parliament (MEPs) met in Brussels to discuss the crisis in Iraq and decided to act on the reality of the Kurdish situation. Dellawar Ajgeiy, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) representative expressed great joy over this recognition at long last.

"We feel that the reversal means that they had to take account of the new realities," he said. "It is very positive, because one cannot dictate to Iraqis and Kurds something that is not in their interest."

So, although the symptomatic issues of independence are highlighted internationally, the root of the cause as well as the structure in which it swelled, persists; and so does the frail practical reality for Kurdish independence. Despite this European "realisation", deep-seated and bloody divisions continue to erode Iraqi and Kurdish land as the US-nominated Maliki discriminates brutally against both Kurds and Iraqi Sunnis, and other minorities, leaving them vulnerable in the country's unstable and historically corrupt political system.

Susceptible and deprived of resources, Sunni tribes and militia have been rehabilitated under the so-called Islamic State's (IS/ISIS) extremist patronage, despite disagreeing with its mission statement of creating a Caliphate.

Last week, the Carnegie think tank held a conference on Iraq's future. Reflecting on the history of Iraqi politics, Maria Fanatappie, Iraq researcher at the ICG (International Crisis Group) found a number of "chronic issues" of Iraqi politics causing the erosion of the state, thus enabling IS/ISIS to take over Iraq. It was a combination of historical and structural breakdown. "The state has reached a stage where it is evaporating," Fanatappie argued.

Building the enemy

Historically, Iraq has seen a major and increasing personalisation of politics affecting not just one area of the political domain but the central government and Kurdistan. This tendency, where agencies are meant to represent citizens, has come to embody political personalities and hinges on the facts of the 2010 Iraqi collision. Along with this, such personalisation has been in alignment with the Iraqi army rather than associated with the state, but more with key political personalities, making it disintegrated and pseudo self-determining in terms of protecting civilians. In this respect, Fanatappie reasoned, it is not a nominated Iraqi army but fractured with no clear command.

Another major issue is the principle of regulating the state function by twisting the constitution to fit and justify personal political gains. "These trends of total legitimacy and control of constitutional interpretation are often combined with another trend, that of security apparatus as the only law-enforcing institution," Fanatappie explained. The army relies on defeating its own political enemies amongst the Iraqis, by using the "security" forces. In this way, political disagreements become military issues in the blink of an eye.

At a time when Sunnis are stigmatised as "associated" terrorists, conflict has become the engine of political Iraq. A clear discourse and rhetoric to identify and build an enemy was created with, for example, the Kurd-Arab confrontation. Two years later, the enemy became the Sunnis and now we have the Islamic State (IS/ISIS).

The international community is completely frozen on the issue of Iraq; its continued support for the Iraqi government is steady because the threat of IS/ISIS would not just be towards Iraq but, potentially, the international community. This convergence of enemies has immobilised the world.

Islamic State acceptance

The Islamic State is accepted more in Syria than in Iraq as the latter does not face "chaos or IS"; the group is more resourceful and multinational than other Islamist groups, taking members from other such movements as existential battles have seen IS/ISIS gaining ground. This is making the international community passive against the group. Lina Khatib of Carnegie has just returned from a meeting with the British government, which has no intention of engaging with its violence.

For tribal groups in Iraq, with no means of forming alliances, the only possible way to liberate themselves from central government would be by opting-in with the Islamic State. They cannot be independent and they need IS/ISIS as it is militarily stronger than the tribes. They want to rely on IS/ISIS but share no ideological goals. "Their goal is to reach Baghdad, not a Maliki Baghdad, but one that has a state and not a person," Khatib explained. In this way, the tribes start compromising whilst hoping to succeed in pressurising the Maliki administration to save Iraq from radicalisation and ensure equality between Sunnis and the Shia.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Henriette Johansen) frontpage Sun, 27 Jul 2014 01:27:05 +0000
Turkey suspends diplomatic mission in Libya over security concerns https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13067-turkey-suspends-diplomatic-mission-in-libya-over-security-concerns https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13067-turkey-suspends-diplomatic-mission-in-libya-over-security-concerns Turkish FlagThe Turkish foreign ministry announced on Friday that it has suspended its diplomatic mission in the Libyan capital Tripoli for security reasons. More than 500 Turkish nationals left Libya on Thursday via the border with Tunisia by specially arranged buses.

A ministry statement pointed out that it had issued an alert for Turkish citizens to leave the country due to the intensification of clashes in the vicinity of Tripoli airport. Turkish nationals were told to leave via the land crossing with Tunisia and then proceed to Turkey.

The Turkish consulate in Misrata will continue to operate to serve those Turks who chose to stay in the country. The primary team of the Tripoli mission will work from Tunisia until the stabilisation of the situation in Libya, the statement added.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:54:14 +0000
Shia supreme leader in Iraq urges Maliki to step down https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13066-shia-supreme-leader-in-iraq-urges-maliki-to-step-down https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13066-shia-supreme-leader-in-iraq-urges-maliki-to-step-down Ayatullah Ali Al-SistaniThe supreme Shia cleric in Iraq, Ayatullah Ali Al-Sistani, implicitly urged prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki to resign from his post.

In a letter read by one of his aides on Friday in Karbala, Sistani said that political leaders should not cling to their posts, implicitly referring to Maliki who defies international and domestic calls to resign.

Sistani urged leaders to exhibit flexibility in order to end the state of political deadlock in the country.

Maliki's critics accuse him of being a divisive figure, and hold him responsible for marginalising the Sunni minority and fueling sectarian strife, which led to the rise of extremist Sunni militants.

"It's time for politicians to think about the interests of Iraq, rather than their own interests," Sistani said.

Maliki has been serving as acting prime minister since April, after the end of his term. He rejects calls by Sunnis and Kurds for him to step down. Some Shia leaders also oppose his election for a third term.

Despite pressures from the US, UN and Iran, Iraqi politicians have failed to form a government that would unite Iraqis. The Iraqi parliament elected a Kurdish MP as president of the country on Thursday. The appointment of a new prime minister, however, remains elusive due to Maliki's refusal to step down.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:09:31 +0000
Don't be fooled: 'media watchdogs' are Israeli propaganda tools https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/13065-dont-be-fooled-media-watchdogs-are-israeli-propaganda-tools https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/europe/13065-dont-be-fooled-media-watchdogs-are-israeli-propaganda-tools Alastair SloanConsider yourself very lucky if you have never heard of "Comment is Free Watch" (CiF Watch), "BBC Watch", "HonestReporting" and "Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America" (CAMERA).

Statistics collected by the Institute for Internet Nonsense suggest that these four blogs account for "ninety per cent of web-based pedantry" and have been awarded "Most Boring Analysis" in the I Don't Care This Isn't Journalism awards, sponsored by Valium.

These blogs claim to be all about ensuring balance in the media. As such, they think, and tell their legion of pro-Israel supporters, that Western liberal editors are anti-Semitic and that criticising Israel online means that you hate Jews. They also scare-monger on their own websites that Western journalists are conspiring to paint Israel in a bad light. They impose this nonsense on the world through writing pedantic blog posts, sending mass emails to editors and celebrating every time they get one word changed in an "errant" newspaper article.

Unless a journalist has a Star of David tattooed on his or her forehead and has declared undying love for Zionism, she or he can become a target. However, all of these watchdogs are riddled with hypocrisy, deliberate falsehood, bullying and shoddy journalism. In fact, they're not about maintaining "balance" at all; they are propaganda tools, part of Israel's incredibly well-funded "hasbara" programme.

HonestReporting.com once boasted that it brought down CNN's email servers by sending six thousand emails per day to executives. In October 2004, the group co-ordinated around a thousand emails being sent to the British Medical Journal, which had published a critical piece about the Israeli army based on an academic study.

An analysis of the emails received by the BMJ showed that about a third of them issued blanket denials, without offering any contrary evidence; twenty-two per cent showed direct evidence of being derived from the HonestReporting.com website; and roughly half could not be published by the BMJ because they failed to meet the webmasters' criteria for public comments left underneath academic studies (which outlaw personal attacks and racial abuse).

Adam Levick, the managing editor and mastermind of these bullying strategies, has no professional background in journalism. He has spent his career working for various pro-Israeli think tanks, including NGO Monitor, a group that criticises charities which dare to speak out about Israel's human rights abuses.

A favourite moan of Levick and his friends concerns readers' comments beneath online Guardian articles, especially those which take an anti-Israel stance. They have a legitimate gripe as there are some genuinely nasty comments left on the Guardian's website, but HonestReporting [sic] always pushes for anti-Israel comments to be removed by site moderators.

Under my own published articles, I've been called a "well known crypto lefto fascist" (a title I'm secretly quite proud of), told that I have "blood on my hands" and that "judgement day is coming," (a bit more ominous). And finally that I'm "retarded". Did I ask for these comments to be removed from the website in question? No; I'm not nine years old and I can tell the difference between a lunatic with a keyboard and a lunatic with a gun.

Preachy CiF Watch mixes factual analysis and opinion on its own website, a practice known as "editorialising" and something which professional journalists frown upon. For example, its writers often use the term "radical" or "pro-terrorist" without any explanation; they are simply euphemisms to be deployed against any group or individual who is pro-Palestinian.

When they talk about award-winning journalist Robert Fisk, a figure who raises their digital hackles more than most, the bloggers use inverted commas around "award-winning" as if his awards for journalism are alleged or made up. The truth is that Fisk has won awards, but because CiF Watch resents this (and it hasn't won any), it sneaks in some snide punctuation.

CAMERA is the American parent organisation of CiF Watch (as well as the similar BBC Watch), but it focuses on the US media, something that it has done since the eighties. Fox News is an interesting case study regarding CAMERA's view of media "accuracy". Instead of having dirt thrown at them, Fox producers have been singled out for praise from the "watchdogs".

In fact, Fox is so good at producing balanced coverage, according to CAMERA, that they've never had to correct any of its content, something that cannot be claimed by almost every other major news outlet in America. That seems strange given that there have been at least seven academic studies looking at Fox News output and concluding that its audience is the most misinformed in America, presumably because of the fact-free reporting rather than them being stupid viewers.

At the time of writing, Fox is the subject of CAMERA's latest fawning post, being credited for inviting comments from two "refreshingly honest guests". Ex-mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg was one of them. In his interview with Fox, Bloomberg called for a disproportionate response to Hamas rockets and endorsed the high levels of civilian casualties. He also proclaimed that, "As Israel goes so will America."

"This is the only democracy in this part of the world," claimed Bloomberg. "This is an ally; we need them and they need us."

Bugling after him was Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters, reportedly one of the best qualified and most admired strategic thinkers at the Pentagon. "The global media... Let's be honest about this," he said. "The socially acceptable form of anti-Semitism, of old fashioned, fourteenth century Jew-hatred, is to be anti-Israel, to criticise Israel. That's safe."

Yes, CAMERA targets, you naughty journalists are all "Jew haters". Such extreme views were reviewed positively on the CAMERA website: "remarkable", it purred.

CAMERA is disputing the veracity of the massacre at Al-Shifa Hospital, arguing that it was a Hamas stronghold so over sixty civilian casualties were justified. Its only source for this is an IDF spokesperson.

Five editors from CAMERA have already been sanctioned formally by Wikipedia for putting biased entries secretly onto the public website. An investigation into their dishonesty was published by Electronic Intifada in 2008 and was followed by an exposé in Harpers Magazine later that year. The reports led to an investigation by Wikipedia's management. Commenting on the incident, Gershom Gorenberg, of The American Prospect, stated: "CAMERA is ready to exempt itself from the demands for accuracy that it aims at the media. And like others engaged in the narrative wars, it does not understand the difference between advocacy and accuracy." His piece was called "The Middle East Editing Wars."

Co-ordinators at CAMERA had even advised their members not to edit articles about Israel for a set period to evade suspicious site administrators, then bombard the site with pro-Israel edits. Even the Daily Telegraph in London, which is broadly pro-Israel in its editorial stance, covered the embarrassing incident.

In a YouTube interview with the blog "Elders of Ziyon" last year, the Chief Executive Officer of HonestReporting.com, British-born Boston resident Joe Hyams, tells viewers that he is trying to "raise journalistic standards." That's an interesting piece of condescending prattle, because Hyams has no professional background in journalism. He came from advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi, where he was a "strategic planner".

According to the official website of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, which maintains a profile page for Mr Hyams and sends him frequently on speaking engagements, he "trains Israel supporters in the planning of campaign strategy and evaluation." The managing editor of HonestReporting.com is Simon Plosker; he has spent time working in the Israel Defence Force's Spokesperson Unit, and continues as a reservist, presumably in the same role.

Why would ex-advertising executives and reservists in the IDF's Spokesperson Unit be appropriate guardians of media balance? Simple; this isn't about balance, it's about a "media war", as Hyams himself puts it, which explains HonestReporting.com's close alliance with the Israeli government. These watchdogs are simply another cog in the Israeli war machine.

In November 2012, during the eight-day Israeli offensive against the people of the Gaza Strip, CNN anchors interviewed forty-five Israeli officials, more than twice the number of Palestinian officials. Between 30th June and 9th July this year, CNNinterviewed seventeen Israeli officials and just one Palestinian.

In a study published by academic Mohammed El Masry in 2009, he found that the New York Times and Chicago Tribune coverage of the second Palestinian intifada was highly skewed in Israel's favour. Similarly, a 2003 study by academic Matt Viser published in the International Journal of Press/Politics found that the New York Times personalised Israeli deaths, largely ignored Palestinian deaths and relied heavily on Israeli sources. A 2001 study by academic Seth Ackerman showed that National Public Radio covered 89 per cent of Israeli child deaths and only 20 per cent of Palestinian child deaths.

Far from defending Israel valiantly from anti-Semitic attacks or anti-Israel editorial bias, which these groups like to pretend is widespread, HonestReporting, CAMERA and their ilk are aggressors on the media scene, determined to push a skewed version of events taking place in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to the audience and readership in America and Britain. The poor record of CNN and other media outlets is quite possibly a successful result of their efforts.

General awareness of these groups, and their activities to influence media coverage, is relatively low other than amongst the super-engaged minority who focus on Israel-Palestine issues. Although there's some cynical amusement to be gained from picking apart their pedantry, ultimately their role mirrors that of the Israeli military in pretending that Israelis are in mortal danger as a pretext for attacks on civilians, while spinning propaganda that distorts reality and supports Israel's war crimes.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Alastair Sloan) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 13:30:31 +0000
Mahmoud Abbas' epiphany over Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13064-mahmoud-abbas-epiphany-over-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13064-mahmoud-abbas-epiphany-over-gaza David HearstMahmoud Abbas is having something of an epiphany. Only two short months ago, the Palestinian president said security co-operation with Israel in the West Bank was "sacred." Now Abbas is quoting a Koranic verse which says" Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory."

What has happened to him since he said in a speech in Jeddah, shortly after the kidnap and murder of three young settlers: "The security coordination with the Israelis is for our own benefit, to protect our own people?" What indeed has happened to the PLO which issued a statement after an emergency meeting in Ramallah chaired by Abbas which praised: "the resolute stand of the great Palestinian people and the forces of resistance that are fighting heroically against the occupying army that is committing crimes and slaughtering our compatriots?"

What conversion has Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Chief Negotiator, miraculously undergone? He now says that every Palestinian is a target of Israel. Could this be the same Erekat who, according to the Palestine Papers, offered his counterpart Tzipi Livni , the " biggest Yerushalayim" in history?

Strange things are happening in that part of the West Bank, which Erekat has not bequeathed Israel as another fact on the ground. Hamas flags were seen in the 30,000 strong march which converged on Qalandiya checkpoint on Thursday night. The loudspeakers of mosques called Palestinians to the demonstration. Those lines of Palestinian Authority riot police seemed less willing to stand between the demonstrators and the lines of Israeli police and border guards.

Abbas himself has come under a torrent of Internet abuse from the ranks of his own constituency since his Jeddah speech. Amira Hass quoted in Haaretz a Fatah member who is a resident of a refugee camp and a former prisoner as saying that only 10 percent of Palestinians now support the aging president. There has even been reports that his wife and grandchildren have fled Ramallah for Amman.

What is happening to Abbas is a political earthquake. The veteran PLO fighter may spin the new pro-Hamas line from Ramallah as an attempt to strengthen himself as a negotiator. This, too, is a difficult space for Abbas to inhabit. His closest Arab partner Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is behaving even worse than Netanyahu is - not only by holding up aid on the Egyptian side of the border, but by urging the Israeli prime minister to finish Hamas off militarily once and for all. Without Sisi's and King Abdullah's daily voices in his ear, it is doubtful that Netanyahu would have acted so decisively in Gaza. Abbas's allies damn him with the people who matter, the Palestinian street, because they are an essential part of the Israeli assault on Gaza. Sisi is the prison warder who keeps the door closed as Israeli guests beat the inmates up. Be it as president or negotiator, Abbas's stock is plummeting as each day passes.

As the death toll in Gaza gallops towards the four figure mark, few have stopped to think of the effect the operation will have on the unity deal which the military operation tried to smash.

When the unity deal was signed, Azzam al-Ahmed member of Fatah's Central Committee whispered that "Hamas had taken off all their clothes," meaning that Hamas had surrendered too much, and certainly all authority over Gaza. Initially, Khaled Meshaal was thought to be have paid too high a price. The deal was unpopular in his own movement (particularly in the West Bank) and that discontent crescendoed when Abbas refused to pay the 50,000 government workers in Gaza who stayed loyal to Hamas.

Hamas seemed to have emerged from the deal the weaker partner, betrayed once again, in their eyes, by Abbas's lack of faith. Today, the position is reversed for two reasons.

The unity government broke the psychological barrier between Hamas and the PLO, and presented the fleeting vision of a unified nation. The all out war that Israel's army has declared on Gaza has only cemented that unity. If disunity had been one of the reasons preventing a third intifada from starting, that obstacle is no longer there. It still may not materialize, but after this week's scenes in the West Bank, no one can dismiss it as peremptorily as they once did. It is now a real possibility.

If this unity does now exist, who stands to gain? In war, that role falls now to Hamas for their response to the Israeli operation. In peace, Abbas and the PLO may now have to make way for a new leader capable of representing all factions.

Abbas can make a series of feints like pressing ahead with membership of UN institutions, and taking Israel to the International Criminal Court. But the margin of error for the arch political survivor is narrowing. When the ceasefire comes, Hamas be naked no more. It will be fully clothed in military fatigues, as Abbas himself once was.

This article was first published by The Huffington Post

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (David Hearst) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 13:05:32 +0000
Erdogan: 'Sisi is a tyrant, not a president' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13063-erdogan-sisi-is-a-tyrant-not-a-president https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13063-erdogan-sisi-is-a-tyrant-not-a-president Recep Tayyip ErdoganTurkey's prime minister and presidential candidate Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his condemnation of Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, describing him as a "tyrant".

In an interview with CNN, Erdogan said: "I do not consider Al-Sisi a democrat, as he alleges. I also don't view him as a president. He is a tyrant, and I have no doubts about this."

Erdogan added that Egypt has no genuine role in the Palestinian issue and the peace process.

"If Israel's goal is to occupy Palestinian lands, Turkey will stand against it, and of course Egypt should also stand against this," he said.

Last week, the Egyptian foreign ministry summoned the Turkish chargé d'affaires to convey Egypt's rejection of Erdogan's remarks in which he accused Al-Sisi of being a "tyrant," and of lacking legitimacy.

Relations between Egypt and Turkey have worsened since the military coup against democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi last summer, as Turkey has been among the staunchest opponents of the army's move, led by Al-Sisi. Turkey was not invited to Al-Sisi's inauguration, and diplomatic representation has been downgraded between the two countries since November, each of them considering the other's ambassador as persona-non-grata.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:59:37 +0000
Congress bill calls for designating Muslim Brotherhood as 'terrorist organisation' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13062-congress-bill-calls-for-designating-muslim-brotherhood-as-terrorist-organisation https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13062-congress-bill-calls-for-designating-muslim-brotherhood-as-terrorist-organisation Michele BachmannA number of republicans in the US Congress have submitted a bill that designates the Muslim Brotherhood as a "foreign terrorist organisation" (FTO), Anadolu reported.

The bill, submitted on Thursday by republican congresswoman Michele Bachmann and supported by seven other republicans, outlaws and criminalises any financial support for the group, and proposes the closure of any organisation that cooperates with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the US.

In April, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron called for a probe into the ideology and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain. The results of the probe are expected to be announced by the end of July.

The Congress bill called for denying visas for MB supporters and deporting those who work for the MB from the US.

Supporters of the bill argue that the essence of MB ideology advocates international Jihad and extremism, citing the group's motto: "Allah is our goal; Quran is our constitution; the prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and dying for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of our wishes."

The bill has been submitted to the judicial, foreign affairs, and finance committees in congress. The committees are yet to schedule a date for discussing the bill.

The Egyptian and Saudi governments have labelled the Brotherhood a "terrorist group" on the heels of the July 3 military coup in Egypt.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:49:55 +0000
UN aid convoy enters Syria for first time without government approval https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13061-un-aid-convoy-enters-syria-for-first-time-without-government-approval https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13061-un-aid-convoy-enters-syria-for-first-time-without-government-approval UNHCR tent is SyriaA humanitarian aid convoy entered Syria without a permit from the Syrian government on Thursday, the United Nations said.

According to the spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Amanda Pitt, nine trucks have entered Syria via the borders with Turkey. The trucks were carrying food supplies, water purification tablets and shelter materials, and crossed into Syria via the Bab El-Salam crossing following authorisation from the UN.

"It is, I believe, the first convoy going into Syria through one of the four border crossings under the U.N. Security Council resolution," Pitt said.

On 14 July, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing cross-border delivery of aid to embattled areas in Syria without government approval through four crossings - two in Turkey, one in Jordan and one in Iraq.

In his monthly report to the Security Council, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged all parties to comply with the resolution and allow free access for aid to civilians.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:28:11 +0000
Palestinian medics uncover 85 Gazans, death toll soars to 985 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13060-palestinian-medics-uncover-85-gazans-death-toll-soars-to-985 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13060-palestinian-medics-uncover-85-gazans-death-toll-soars-to-985 Since July 7, Israel has pummelled the Gaza Strip – from air, land and sea – with the ostensible aim of halting Palestinian rocket firePalestinian medics recovered 85 bodies from under the rubble of homes in the Gaza Strip as a 12-hour humanitarian truce took effect on Saturday.

"Eighty-five bodies were retrieved from under the rubble of homes in the Gaza Strip," Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra told Anadolu Agency.

He said 31 bodies were uncovered in the southern Khan Younis city, 29 in eastern border areas and 25 in northern border areas.

The new fatalities bring to 985 the number of Palestinians killed in relentless Israeli attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip since July 7. At least 5900 Palestinians have also been injured.

Palestinian resistance factions and Israel on Saturday began a 12-hour humanitarian pause in Israel's 20-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The short lull was declared after US Secretary of State John Kerry failed to reach a week-long humanitarian ceasefire in the Palestinian territory.

Since July 7, Israel has pummelled the Gaza Strip – from air, land and sea – with the ostensible aim of halting Palestinian rocket fire.

According to official Israeli figures, 40 Israelis – 37 soldiers and three civilians – have been killed since hostilities began.

Israel's operation "Protective Edge" is the self-proclaimed Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely-populated Gaza Strip, which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, within the last six years.

In 2008/9, over 1500 Palestinians were killed – the vast majority of them civilians – during Israel's three-week-long "Operation Cast Lead."

Report by Ola Attalah for Anadolu Agency

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:09:10 +0000
Turkey to send another Freedom Flotilla to Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13059-turkey-to-send-another-freedom-flotilla-to-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13059-turkey-to-send-another-freedom-flotilla-to-gaza Mavi MarmaraThe Turkish humanitarian relief organisation (IHH) is currently organising a "Freedom Flotilla II" which will carry humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, IHH chairman Bulent Yildrim said Thursday.

In statements to Gulf Online, Yildrim said that his organisation has embarked on legal procedures and paperwork required to obtain a permit for the trip. As soon as a final permit is issued, the IHH along with other international organisations will immediately set up the convoy.

The chairman of IHH, a major organiser of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla I, said that Turkish army troops will accompany the ships to protect it from any potential attack, pointing out that his organisation demanded the government to provide protection for them as Turkish citizens.

Maze Keheil, the president of the European Campaign for Lifting the Siege on Gaza, confirmed his campaign's intention to take part in the new flotilla, as it did in first one in 2010.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Sat, 26 Jul 2014 11:53:38 +0000
Atef Abu Saif on the war in Gaza, literature and orange orchards https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/resources/interviews/13058-atef-abu-saif-on-the-war-in-gaza-literature-and-orange-orchards https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/resources/interviews/13058-atef-abu-saif-on-the-war-in-gaza-literature-and-orange-orchards

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

"In the end when you see those kids dying every day and old men and women killed, you want to survive. You think life is very cheap. Human life, which is the most precious, doesn't mean anything and this is very dangerous. Earth was made for human beings, not for anything else. Allah made the universe for us as human beings and now we are the cheapest of God's creations."


Atef Abu Saif was born in Jabaia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in 1973. He attended school in Gaza. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Birzeit and a masters' degree from Bradford. Recently, he received his Ph.D. in political and social sciences from the European University Institute in Florence. He is the author of four novels: Shadows in the Memory (1997), The Tale of the Harvest Night (1999), Snowball (2000), and The Salty Grape of Paradise (2003 & 2006). He also published a collection of short stories entitled Everything is Normal. Abu Saif is also the author of Civil Society and the State: Theoretical Perspective with Particular Reference to Palestine, published in Amman in 2005. He is a regular contributor to several Palestinian and other Arabic language newspapers, journal and literary supplements.

Wednesday was the seventeenth day of the war in Gaza; the seventeenth day of the bombing, shelling, constant ambulance sirens, loss of loved ones and the widespread infliction of injuries. For Atef Abu Saif it was the seventeenth day of waking up not knowing which houses in his neighbourhood had been reduced to rubble.

The Israeli army has already bombarded the street where he lives; the aftershock blew out all the glass in his windows. Tanks surround the neighbourhood yet he says it is drones and F16s which are the main enemy. Last night a shell killed his elderly neighbour and left one of her grandchildren critically injured.

Saif, who is both a writer and a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip, is now living at his father-in-law's house along with 17 others. Most Palestinians are taking shelter in UNRWA's schools. Each building is now home to some 4,000 men, women, children and elderly, with 40 to a classroom.

"The main question everybody is asking in Gaza now, is when is this truce coming? When is this war ending?" says Saif. "The window I am standing in front of now is overlooking one of these schools in Jabalia camp. People are spending all their days in these schools, waiting for the war to end."

Just 11 days before the attacks started The Book of Gaza was published. Edited by Saif, published by Comma Press, it draws together contemporary short stories set against the backdrop of one of the most talked about cities in the world. The stories consider oppression, anxiety, violence and hope; the latest bombardment proves that these themes are timeless, or at least ongoing in the Strip.

Saif's contribution, "A journey in the opposite direction" is filled with descriptions of fruit - orange fields, date palms and cherries. He explains his childhood was filled with orange orchards and flowers. The north of the Strip, where his aunt lives, was once abundant in strawberries. "The Gaza strawberry is very sweet," he says. "Gaza was a kind of garden."

Much of this fruit has been lost in the last 15 years of war and destruction, the Intifada and the increase in population. "We had to cut down the orchards because Gaza is not made for having two million people living in it," he says. The vast number of refugees makes Gaza one of the most densely populated parts of the world.

As for the current crisis, where a kilogramme of tomatoes was once one shekel it now sells for eight 8 and the quality is low. Said explains, these days it's hard to even buy vegetables in a shop given that grocery stores are only open a few hours at a time.

"One of the things that is going to foreshadow the human crisis, if this war continues, is that there aren't going to be any vegetables in Gaza in a few days. Most of the people who were displaced and are in the schools now come from the rural areas, the areas full of orchards. Nobody is taking care of their tomatoes, their aubergines, and their fruit."

The supply of newspapers has also suffered. Printed in Ramallah, during times of war they are not allowed into the Strip. It's a Palestinian habit, says Saif, particularly amongst the older generations, to listen to the news and a characteristic which often finds its way into his novels. With electricity for four hours a day and very limited access to the internet, Palestinians in Gaza now rely on the radio.

"You're listening, changing from one channel to another, trying to pick up what is going on. You are helpless and unable to know what's going on around you. You can just hear the sounds, the bombing, but you don't know where it is or who has been killed, who is injured, whose house was destroyed. The radio connects you to the world outside."

After iftar (the meal to break the fast in Ramdan) Saif sits with his friends, smokes nargelah and listens to the broadcasts. "Sometimes talking helps you understand what's going on, even if you lie to yourself. We try to exchange ideas, such as 'what is the purpose of this?' In the end when you see those kids dying every day and old men and women killed, you want to survive. You think life is very cheap. Human life, which is the most precious, doesn't mean anything and this is very dangerous. Earth was made for human beings, not for anything else. Allah made the universe for us as human beings and now we are the cheapest of God's creations. We kill each other."

Saif is writing his own personal narrative of the war by recording events of the day and personal reflections. Because of the electricity shortage he has reverted to writing by hand to save the battery on his laptop. Still, he manages to write every day. "Through writing you can say 'I don't want to forget the war', 'this should end'.

"You write because you believe that through writing you can exist. Through writing you can capture moments, that nobody else can, only you. Like when you're looking at this school in front of me where the boys are playing football in the playground. They're trying to make sense out of this chaos. You, as a writer, you are re-ordering things out of the disorder. You are trying to make something beautiful out of this ugliness.

"You want to tell the next generation that there was this event where human beings existed, where an old woman was killed and where people are queueing to go to the bathroom as they are now. More than 20 women are queueing to go to the bathroom," he says, reflecting again on his view from the window.

When he was young Saif spent five months in jail during of the first Intifada and has been shot at twice by the Israeli army. When he was eight years old he was arrested for throwing stones. He recalls him mother asking the Israeli captain to let him go – "he doesn't understand politics," she said, "He's only a boy."

"Even the donkeys in Gaza understand politics," the captain replied.

Whilst the situation in Gaza is highly politicised, Saif believes literature shouldn't be. "I know all the chapters and the pains of the Middle East issue, but at the same time I believe that this cannot continue forever. It's only literature which can." It's on this basis he decided he did not want writers "who talk politics" for the Book of Gaza.

Palestine has the highest number of politicians per person in the Arab world. It has 17 political parties and two governments for a nation of around 10 million, and the largest political issue in the twentieth century until now. "We don't need more of this," he continues, "We need literature. We need human beings to survive. We need to see what people look like. At the same time, the search for freedom is not only politics. It can be social as well."

He also wanted to present an alternative view of Gaza, not the one which frequents the news. "In the Strip, which is 300 kilometres long with eight refugee camps, you will find stories that you find in London and Tokyo and Berlin. There is life, there are people who love and hate, there are people who feel jealous, and there is an old woman who takes care of her grandson. It's not only about struggle and fighting. In Gaza there are people who aspire for freedom and different forms of freedom – social freedom, political freedom – we wanted to say this is the different Gaza that you don't see in the news.

"I think as an author sometimes you feel you are given this power to keep the soul of the people around you. I describe myself as the watch keeper of darkness. You look in this darkness – it's very dark, believe me in the night nobody sees what's going on even if they open their eyes. You have to go deep inside this darkness and paint the reality. I think it's a very hard mission if you want to be a good author. But it's very necessary."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Amelia Smith) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:53:28 +0000
Pakistan observes day of mourning for Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/48-asia/13057-pakistan-observes-day-of-mourning-for-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/48-asia/13057-pakistan-observes-day-of-mourning-for-gaza Pakistanis on Friday observed a day of mourning across the country to express solidarity with the victims of Israeli aggression on Gaza in line with an announcement made earlier by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The national flag flew at half-mast at the parliament, the presidential residence, the prime minister's residence, and at other government buildings.

Some political and religious parties observed the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as "Al-Quds Day," and "Solidarity Day" to express solidarity with the families of Palestinians killed and injured in Israeli ground and air attacks in over last two weeks.

Religious scholars used their Friday sermons to highlight the issue in thousands of Mosques across the country.

Pakistan's Shiite organizations traditionally observe the last Friday of Ramadan as "Youm-ul-Quds," with countrywide rallies and protests. Thousands of activists of Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimin, a conglomerate of various Shiite groups in Pakistan, marched on the roads in southern port city of Karachi.

"War will continue till the liberation of Bait-ul-Muqqadis," " End siege of Gaza," "Long Live Hamas," "Long Live Hezbollah," were the slogans raised by protesters who carried banners and placards inscribed with slogans supporting the Palestinians' struggle.

The protesters set Israeli and American flags on fire.

Jamat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamic party, which observed the day as a "solidarity day with Gaza," held countrywide protests and rallies denouncing the Israeli aggression and the silence of the international community, especially from Muslim countries.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:35:49 +0000
Protesters in Italy condemn Israeli aggression on Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13056-protesters-in-italy-condemn-israeli-aggression-on-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13056-protesters-in-italy-condemn-israeli-aggression-on-gaza IMAGES

Thousands of protesters demonstrated in the Italian capital Rome yesterday to denounce the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip which entered its third week and led to the killing of hundreds of civilians, the Anadolu news agency reported.

The protest was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Association as well as other civil society groups.

The protesters gathered in the Vittorio Square and marched towards the Tiburtina Square amid tight security measures to prevent any clashes.

The protesters chanted slogans against the Israeli aggression, including "stop the killing of innocent children", "free Palestine", "freedom for Gaza" and "stop the bombing of Gaza".

Organisers said the number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip since 2009 has is nearly 2,000 and demanded the international community take immediate action to stop the Israeli aggression against the enclave.

They also said that they intend to organise a similar protests tomorrow at 6pm local time, in front of the Roman amphitheatre.

Israel began an intense assault on the Gaza Strip 18 days ago which led to the killing of 828 Palestinians and wounded over 5,300 others.

Protests condemning the Israeli aggression have swept cities around the world.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:18:36 +0000
Crashed Air Algerie plane was ‘old and rotten’ https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/lifestyle/13055-crashed-air-algerie-plane-was-old-and-rotten https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/blogs/lifestyle/13055-crashed-air-algerie-plane-was-old-and-rotten The plane which crashed in the Sahara Desert with the loss of 118 lives was described as "old and rotten" by a passenger just a fortnight ago.

A French-Algerian student named only as Fares, who is in his 20s, posted a video on YouTube attacking Air Algerie, which had chartered the plane from Spanish firm Swiftair.

Not only was the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 18 years old, but many considered it to be obsolete as far as transporting ordinary members of the public is concerned.

There were 54 French deaths in the tragedy, including 10 members of a single family, and five members of another.

It came as the first pictures of the "disintegrated wreckage" of Flight AH5017 were released.
It was found by a French Army MQ9 Reaper drone bought from the US to hunt down Al-Qaeda terrorists in Mali's portion of the Sahara Desert.

Fares was on board the plane on July 9, when the same plane flew from Paris to Batna – a distance of some 1,500 miles.

In the video he said: "It's an old rotten plane which can barely reach the airport terminals," adding: "Air Algerie makes us travel in a plane without a logo, the crew speaks Spanish and they tell us nothing."

At the end of the complaint, Fares added: 'Please Air Algerie – do your job, we pay a fortune for your tickets."

Both Swiftair and Air Algerie have insisted that the plane was in "good condition" and flightworthy. Mechanical failures are high on the list of probable causes of the accident, which has been described as a "national tragedy" by French President Francois Hollande.

French troops have secured the crash site, in the region of Gossi, in north-eastern Mali.

While flight AH5017 changed direction due to bad weather, experts doubted a storm could have caused a crash.

There were 51 French nationals on board the plane, many of them expatriates on their way back to Paris and Marseille for the summer holidays.

The Spanish pilots union said the pilots and crew were Spanish, and Hollande said the aircraft carried passanger from 14 other nationalities.

Kara Terki, from Air Algerie, said these included 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, four Algerians, two nationals of Luxembourg, one Belgian, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian, one Ukrainian and one Romanian. Bernard Reynaud, from Lorette, in the Loire department of France, died alongside his ex-wife, Michelle, who lived in Lyon. With them were their sons Franck and Eric, and their respective wives Laure and Estelle. The Reynaud's grandchildren, Nathan, Julie, Alexi and Zoe were also killed.

All were on holiday in Burkina Faso, where they had friends in Ouagadougou – the country's capital from where the flight took off on Thursday morning.

Also aboard were five member of the same family, including Bertrand Gineste, a 55-year-old chemist from the town of Gueret. Gineste and his wife Veronique, and their three children, aged between 14 and 19, were all members of a development organisation in Burkina Faso.

Jean-Jacques Dupre, a friend of Reynaud's, said: "It's difficult, very difficult, he was an exceptional friend. We worked together for 20 years, and we've been friends for 40, we studied together."

Gineste employed 23 people at his Marche pharmacy in Gueret.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Nabila Ramdani) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:50:11 +0000
Washington: Turkey is key to Gaza ceasefire efforts https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13054-washington-turkey-is-key-to-gaza-ceasefire-efforts https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/americas/13054-washington-turkey-is-key-to-gaza-ceasefire-efforts Turkey is playing a key role in arranging a ceasefire in Gaza, US State Department spokeswoman Mary Harf said yesterday.

Speaking at the daily press briefing, Harf said that US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu three times yesterday.

Asked why Kerry called Davutoglu three times despite the fact that Washington is unhappy about Turkish prime minister's anti-Israel remarks, Harf said that Turkey has a role to play due to their relationship with Hamas.

"They have a relationship with Hamas. I mean, they can, you know, have conversations that we can't," she said, pointing out that "the Turkish foreign minister is a key player in the region and has some leverage he can bring to bear on the situation."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:17:06 +0000
The Siyam family: Fled the bombing of their area only to be massacred by Israel elsewhere https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13053-the-siyam-family-fled-the-bombing-of-their-area-only-to-be-massacred-by-israel-elsewhere https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13053-the-siyam-family-fled-the-bombing-of-their-area-only-to-be-massacred-by-israel-elsewhere "I don't want anything, except to see Israeli army commanders on trial as war criminals," says Palestinian Zakariya Siyam, 37, referring to the killers of his wife and a large number of his relatives in the current Israeli offensive on Gaza.

At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Siyam is staying with his three sons who have been injured in the Israeli bombing of the Qassas family home in southern Gaza. Overwhelmed with sorrow, Siyam moves between the hospital's departments to check up on his children, each being treated in different units.

Recalling the details of the incident, Siyam, who is based in the neighbourhood of Zaytoun adjacent to the embattled Shujaya district, says that he had to leave his home seeking shelter at the Qassas family home, along with his wife Aliaa, 31, and his three sons Odai, 12, Mohamed, 11, and Loai, 10. Feeling relatively safe, the family accompanied children who were playing on the roof of the building, only to be bombed moments later by an Israeli drone, which killed nine members of the family, including four children.

Siyam, who was away at the time of the attack, says he spoke on the phone with his wife on the second day of her arrival at the Qassas home, and agreed with her that he would pick her up along with her three children and go back to their home in Zaytoun.

"Ten minutes later, their cell phones were off and I learned from news reports that the Qassas home had been bombed."

It was an enormous tragedy for Siyam, who was informed once he arrived at the hospital that his mother, wife, sister and nephews were killed, and his sons were seriously injured.

"Why have drones bombed them?" Siyam asks, while holding his son's hands, worried about his fate. "Everyone has become a target in Gaza... We fled bombs but were met with others... Where are Arab countries? Where are human rights?"

Siyam went on to say that his sons do not know that their mother was killed. "I don't know how I will tell them after they recover," he says.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:09:41 +0000
Resistance unites Palestine: Hamas will emerge stronger from Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/inquiry/13052-resistance-unites-palestine-hamas-will-emerge-stronger-from-gaza- https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/inquiry/13052-resistance-unites-palestine-hamas-will-emerge-stronger-from-gaza- Palestinians have as diverse political differences as any other nation. In many rural parts, the conservative values of Hamas, Palestine's Islamic resistance movement, have a lot of influence, as well as in more traditionally religious towns like Hebron. In other areas, the more nationalist appeal of Fatah holds sway, or the remnant leftism of the Popular Front.

But this is not the time for such differences.

Right now, as Israel's blood-thirsty assault deliberately batters the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, there is one value that unifies the entire Palestinian people: resistance, by any means necessary.

With so many Palestinians slaughtered by Israel in Gaza, some 73 percent of whom are civilians, it has been difficult to see any bright spot.

But the resistance, led by the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has provided just the morale boost the Palestinian people have needed.

Palestinian defence forces have put up a tenacious and stiff resistance in Gaza, to an extent the enemy was not expecting.

Israel did not expect such a high death toll from its ground invasion. But at the time of writing, its army propagandists admit that the resistance has killed 35 Israeli soldiers, with Hamas claiming far more. As Palestinian political analyst Marwan Bishara put it on Al Jazeera Monday, Hamas is stunning and shocking its friends and its enemies.

On Sunday night, the spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas announced that it had captured an Israeli soldier, naming him and giving his ID number (although he did not clarify whether the soldier is alive or died of his wounds after being captured). There were instant celebrations on Palestinian streets in the West Bank, with the families of 5,271 Palestinian prisoners hoping for an exchange deal.

At first, Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor denied it had even happened. It took Israel two whole days to lift a gag order on the press and admit Hamas was right all along - Oron Shaul was classified as "missing" in Gaza.

Israel did not expect the humble rockets to make much impact on them, but resistance fire towards Tel Aviv airport forced it to shut down for a time, with international airlines cancelling their flights, and leaving many tourists and Israelis stranded. Poor them! Maybe they know now how Palestinian travellers have felt for more than 66 years.

As American journalist and historian Mark Perry put it, this was a "major strategic defeat for Israel". Those western liberals who constantly argue against the rudimentary Palestinian right to armed self-defence should take note and update their propaganda lines: there is no credible way you can ever make the argument again that the rockets are "ineffective."

Mahmoud Abbas should take note too, since he initially criticized the rocket fire. He is noticeably silent now, in the face of overwhelming Palestinian public support for the resistance. Even his own ambassador in London, Manuel Hassassian, admitted on the BBC that the rockets were being fired in "self defence" and should not stop until Israel halts its aggression in Gaza.

Over the past few weeks, talking to Palestinians I know, I have not found a single one who does not support the resistance in Gaza. They have provided an inspiring and uplifting example to their people.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, at his press conference in Doha Wednesday, said it well: the political wing of the movement, which he represents, is now in the background and the armed wing holds sway. The Palestinian people are united, not around Hamas's conservative values (around which there are legitimate differences) but around its example of resistance.

As Meshaal also made clear, Palestinian defence forces in Gaza have proven far and away more of a moral force than Israel – a bloodthirsty enemy which deliberately targets Palestinian babies sheltering in UN schools which their families were compelled to seek shelter in.

The body-count alone tells the story: as of Thursday night, Israel has killed 797 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 July (as reported by the health ministry in Gaza). According to the UN, at least 73 percent of the Palestinian casualties have been civilians. At least 185 of the dead are Palestinian children.

It is clear that Israel is overwhelmingly and deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure – war crimes under international law.

Palestinian resistance factions, on the other hand (contrary to the media propaganda which slavishly follows Israeli army talking points) stress that they systematically target Israeli military sites.

So far, according to the same UN figures, 37 Israelis have been killed, 35 of whom were soldiers actively involved in the invasion of Gaza. Thanks to its unwavering American and European allies, Israel has sophisticated high-tech weaponry: good for wiping out whole civilian families. But when it comes to the battle field, the Palestinian resistance has the upper hand. They have no other option but to defend their homes and families in Gaza. They have nowhere else to go.

The resistance has given Israel a bloody nose: a shock the enemy will not forget in a hurry. It is true that Israel has butchered hundreds of Palestinian civilians: but it does that in Gaza periodically anyway, without global media attention. Western media only notices Gaza when Gaza starts fighting back.

Hamas is in the process of inflicting a historic defeat on the Israeli army in Gaza. It may not be on the same scale as the defeat that Hezballah inflicted on Israel in 2006, but its repercussions are likely to be felt for just as long.

An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Asa Winstanley) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:01:42 +0000
Kurdistan president: Kurds have the power and authority to determine their own destiny https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13051-kurdistan-president-kurds-have-the-power-and-authority-to-determine-their-own-destiny https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13051-kurdistan-president-kurds-have-the-power-and-authority-to-determine-their-own-destiny President of Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani said the Kurdish people have the power and authority to decide their own fate, stressing that the Kurdish leadership will not support any status that does not guarantee a clear future, Anadolu news agency reported.

Barzani's remarks came during a joint press conference with the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, after their meeting in Erbil on Thursday.

Barzani said he discussed with the UN chief the aid provided to the Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the Kurdish region, stressing that the political parties in Iraq should use the UN chief's visit to develop a roadmap to solve the country's problems in the shortest possible time.

Meanwhile, the news agency quoted Ki-moon as saying that: "[The UN is] deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Iraq. Violence in the country has forced nearly a million people to flee their homes, and the UN is following with great concern the current situation."

He stressed that Iraq is currently facing great challenges, adding that all political parties in Iraq should solve the security problems as dozens of innocents are being killed on a daily basis, including women and children.

Commenting on the minorities in Iraq and the threats posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the UN official said, "We are very worried about them, especially the minorities in Mosul who are exposed to a significant risk to their lives."

He described the ISIS threats against Christians in Mosul, ordering them to either convert to Islam, pay taxes or face death, as "extremely disturbing".

Ki-moon concluded by congratulating Fuad Masum, who was elected by the Iraqi parliament on Thursday as the country's next president, succeeding President Jalal Talabani.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:26:00 +0000
Israel killed 118 Palestinians on Thursday, mostly civilians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13050-israel-killed-118-palestinians-on-thursday-mostly-civilians https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13050-israel-killed-118-palestinians-on-thursday-mostly-civilians The Palestinian health ministry said Israeli air and artillery raids on the Gaza Strip on Thursday killed 118 Palestinians and injured 631 others, Anadolu news agency reported.

Most of the casualties are women and children, the health ministry spokesperson, Dr Ashraf Al-Qudra, told Anadolu.

Thursday's toll raises the number of Palestinian casualties since the start of the Israeli onslaught last 7 July to more than 800 fatalities and 5,150 injuries.

The fatalities include at least 190 children, 95 women, and 47 elderly people, while those injured include 1,561 children, 1,012 women and 203 elderly.

According to Rami Abdou, the chairperson of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Israel completely destroyed at least 49 homes on Thursday, while partially destroying 477 other homes when shelling adjacent areas.

Israeli raids on adjacent buildings hit at least three mosques, while the Mohamed Al-Dorra Hospital in central Gaza was damaged by Israeli rockets fired nearby.

In total, Israel fired at least 900 strikes against Gaza on Thursday, Abdou said.

The Israeli offensive has led to the complete destruction of 1,675 Palestinian homes and the partial destruction of 21,890 others, the ministry of housing said.

On the Israeli side, at least 32 soldiers and two civilians have been killed, while 435 have been wounded, most of them were reportedly cases of "panic".

Hamas says it killed 68 soldiers and is holding one as hostage.

Over 1.8 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, besieged by Israel since Hamas's victory in the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:56:46 +0000
Hamas: Netanyahu's statement signals 'victory for the resistance' https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13049-hamas-netanyahus-statement-signals-victory-for-the-resistance https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13049-hamas-netanyahus-statement-signals-victory-for-the-resistance British Foreign Secretary Philip HammondThe Islamic resistance movement Hamas called the statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he cannot guarantee the success of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip "a tacit acknowledgment of defeat", Anadolu news agency reported.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesperson for the movement, said in a brief statement that Netanyahu's remarks about not being able to guarantee the achievement of a complete victory in Gaza is a tacit acknowledgment of defeat in face of the resistance.

Despite the increasing international outcry over the number of Palestinian civilian casualties, Netanyahu declared that Israel "will continue its military operations in the Gaza Strip".

Following his meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Jerusalem on Thursday, Netanyahu said: "We have started the ground operation in order to deal with the tunnels system, and it is actually being handled. It is true that there are no 100 per cent guarantees for our victory, but the [Israeli occupation army] has achieved concrete achievements on the ground and we will continue with this operation."

Hammond had told Sky News earlier on Thursday that, "the West is losing sympathy for Israel as civilian [Palestinian] deaths mount during its offensive in Gaza," adding that he would be communicating this message to the Israelis.

Israel's war on the Gaza Strip started on 7 July under the name "Operation Protective Edge". Since the military assault began, Israel has killed more than 800 Palestinians and injured more than 5,000, mostly civilians.

On the other side, 32 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians were reported dead, as well as more than 435 wounded by accidents in response to warning sirens and rocket attacks.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:51:49 +0000
Official: Lack of fuel and electricity may cause humanitarian catastrophe at Gaza hospitals https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13048-official-lack-of-fuel-and-electricity-may-cause-humanitarian-catastrophe-at-gaza-hospitals https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13048-official-lack-of-fuel-and-electricity-may-cause-humanitarian-catastrophe-at-gaza-hospitals A Palestinian Health Ministry official warned that the continued blackouts and acute shortage of fuel in the Gaza Strip are threatening to cause a human catastrophe in Gaza hospitals, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Bassam Hamadeen, the head of the ministry's maintenance department, said: "The enclave's hospitals suffer from an acute shortage of fuel and electricity, which threatens the lives of the patients."

He explained that over the past few days, some hospitals, including Abu Yousef Al-Najjar Hospital and the European Hospital in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, have been forced to depend on generators for power. He warned these generators could stop soon because of the lack of fuel.

"The Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza is working with one electric generator after the backup generator crashed when the Israeli army bombed the hospital a few days ago," Hamdeen said.

He noted that four hospitals have been without electricity for four days including Beit Hanoun hospital, Mohammed Al-Dura hospital, Kamal Adwan hospital, and Shifa hospital.

"Relying entirely on electric generators has depleted the hospitals' fuel reserves, which means that these generators could stop working any time soon and consequently stop the hospitals' medical units including the intensive care units, the operating rooms, the laboratories, X-ray equipment and the emergency units."

Hamadeen pointed out that "the hospitals need 300 litres of fuel per day on a normal day, but now they consume twice this amount because of the influx of hundreds of injured who arrive at the hospitals on a daily basis as a result of the Israeli war."

The Israeli forces closed the Karam Abu Salem crossing, the only commercial portal to supply the Strip with fuel from Israel, on July 17 for "security reasons".

According to Hamdeen "the ministry is now operating only 35 out of its 75 ambulances due to the lack of fuel".

Gaza's Electricity Distribution Company said Friday that Israel has stopped supplying the Strip with electricity, raising the electricity deficit to 90 percent.

The company's director of public relations, Jamal Dardasawi said in a statement "the Israeli army gradually suspended electrical power supplies to the Gaza Strip from Israel and Egypt by intentionally targeting the power lines", adding that Israel destroyed 13 electrical power lines which supply the Strip with power.

Dardasawi pointed out that the Israeli authorities refused to repair the damaged power lines, threatening that this could drown the Strip into total darkness. He added "the Gaza sole power station suffers from a major crisis, as a result of the Israeli repeated targeting of the power lines".

The Gaza Strip needs at least 360 megawatts of power to generate electricity and fill the needs of the sector's 1.8 million people, of which only 200 megawatts is available.

Gaza receives electricity from three sources, the first is Israel which provides the sector with 120 megawatts and the second is Egypt which provides the sector with 28 megawatts, while the strip's sole plant produces between 40 to 60 megawatts.

At least 797 Palestinians were killed and 5130 others were injured during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli assault caused the destruction of 1090 housing units and partially damaged 18, 070 housing units, including 994 housing units that have become uninhabitable, according to preliminary information released by the Ministry of Public Works.

Meanwhile, 32 Israeli soldiers and two civilians were killed and 435 others were wounded, the majority of them were civilians.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:38:06 +0000
Fatah: Israel forced us to resist https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13047-fatah-israel-forced-us-to-resist https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13047-fatah-israel-forced-us-to-resist Israel's actions in Gaza have forced Palestinians and the Fatah movement to resist the occupation in the West Bank, the movement's spokesperson Osama Al-Qawasmi said.

"The West Bank and Gaza are one inseparable entity against Israeli crimes imposed on us," Al-Qawasmi told Al-Resalah Net, adding: "We have one destiny. We will put our differences aside and defend our cause as brothers against the Israeli occupation."

The spokesperson pointed out that Israeli occupation "conspired to break the will of the Palestinian people," but that Palestinians "will not raise the white flag".

He added that the Palestinian cause is about having a Palestinian state. "Our people want freedom and will not surrender," he said.

Asked about his expectation regarding the Israeli reaction to clashes in the West Bank, Al-Qawasmi said: "What should we expect from a government lead by settlers, one which bombed civilians in Gaza after its failure to achieve its goals there?"

He stressed that Israel has two options: "Either to uphold the law and international conventions, or things will get worse."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:34:57 +0000
First Israeli soldier killed in Gaza assault was of Belgian descent https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13046-first-israeli-soldier-killed-in-gaza-assault-was-of-belgian-descent- https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13046-first-israeli-soldier-killed-in-gaza-assault-was-of-belgian-descent- The Belgian newspaper, La Capital, reported on Thursday that the first Israeli soldier killed in the assault on Gaza, which started on 7 July, was a young man of Belgian origin.

According to the newspaper, soldier Eitan Barak was shot dead by friendly fire on 17 July during the ground operation in Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza, when an army tank mistakenly hit him, causing serious injuries. He was then taken to the hospital, but the military authorities officially declared him dead shortly after his arrival.

The newspaper quoted Henry Gutman, head of the secular Jewish community centre in Brussels, as saying: "The young man is Belgian-Israeli. His mother is from Brussels and moved to Israel. I know his family; his grandmother and uncle still live in Brussels."

The paper reported that Barak is one of about 50 soldiers in Israel who have Belgian origin.

Israel's war on Gaza, called "Operation Protective Edge", has cost the lives of many people, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian civilians.

Since Israel began its assault on the Gaza Strip, more than 800 Palestinians have been killed, with more than 5,000 injured.

On the other side, 32 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians were reported dead, as well as more than 435 wounded, mostly civilians suffering from "panic" due to the sirens that respond to Palestinian rockets. The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, claims that it has killed 76 Israeli soldiers and captured one.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:27:15 +0000
Erdogan to inaugurate Ankara-Istanbul high speed train line https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13045-erdogan-to-inaugurate-ankara-istanbul-high-speed-train-line- https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13045-erdogan-to-inaugurate-ankara-istanbul-high-speed-train-line- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to inaugurate the high speed train line connecting Istanbul and Ankara today, the two largest cities in the country.

The ceremonies are due to take place at the first station Eskisehir at 2:30pm (local time), while Erdogan is expected to participate in the official opening of the rail line at the Pendik station in Istanbul, at 6:30pm.

The train line stretches 533 kilometres and a trip using the service takes three hours and 30 minutes. Some 7.5 million passengers are expected to use the high speed link every year.

The line consists of nine stations, including Gebzespor, Izmit, Eskisehir and Polatli. A section of track was laid down using an EU grant of €150 million, while the entire project cost $4 billion; the Ankara government obtained a loan of $2 billion to fund part of the development.

The service is due to run six return journeys every day in the first phase, and will be expanded in 2015 to link the Marmaray tunnel which connects the two sides of Istanbul under the waters of the Bosphorus.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:02:58 +0000
Saudi, Egypt and Israel work together in Gaza attack https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13044-saudi-egypt-and-israel-work-together-in-gaza-attack- https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13044-saudi-egypt-and-israel-work-together-in-gaza-attack-

The war on Gaza is planned and orchestrated by Israel, Saudi and Egypt, a report by DEBKA-Net-Weekly said yesterday.

According to DEBKA the three-way cooperation has set up the following guidelines for the operation in Gaza:

  1. Israel and the IDF will fight to smash Hamas' military might and downgrade its political influence.
  2. The military operation will come to a close only when all its objectives are achieved.
  3. The three leaders will not permit any outside party, including the US, to interfere in their direction of the war.
  4. The oil-rich Saudi kingdom will cover a portion of the war costs incurred by Israel.
  5. When the war is over, Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf emirates, led by the UAE and Kuwait, will pay for repairing the damage caused by the fighting in the Gaza Strip.
  6. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel are of the same mind about the absolute necessity to dismantle Hamas' military strength, including its arsenal of rockets and network of assault bunkers.
  7. Once the IDF has destroyed Hamas as a terrorist power, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority will get down to installing a new government and security mechanisms in Gaza City to fill the void left by Hamas' defeat.

"Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, Egyptian President Fatah Al-Sisi and Netanyahu... [are] in constant communication on the war's progress and confers on its next steps. Our sources reveal daily conferences, and sometimes more, between King Abdullah and President Sisi over a secure phone line," the newsletter said.

DEBKA, thought to have close ties with Israeli intelligence agencies, said the world leaders go to great lengths to ensure their alliance remains undiscovered "given the political and religious sensitivities of their relationship". Fearful of having even their secure lines intercepted, they prefer to send secret missions to visit each other and discuss the ongoing conflict.

"Israel keeps a special plane parked at Cairo's military airport ready to lift off whenever top-secret messages between Sisi and Netanyahu need to be delivered by hand. The distance between Cairo and Tel Aviv is covered in less than an hour and a half," DEBKA explained.

Since the beginning of the Israeli operation which they have dubbed "Protective Edge" Israel has killed 808 Palestinians, and wounded over 5,000, mostly women, children and elderly, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Israeli sources said that the operation has resulted in the killing of 32 Israeli soldiers and three civilians, while 435 people were wounded, mostly suffering from panic attacks, in addition to 90 soldiers.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:55:49 +0000
The UAE is playing the security song https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13043-the-uae-is-playing-the-security-song https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/13043-the-uae-is-playing-the-security-song In his superb study Dubai: The Story of the World's Fastest City, American author and Gulf analyst Jim Krane has two photographs of the highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The first taken in 1990 shows a scattering of buildings sitting on either side of a road that slashes through the empty desert that seems to run on forever.

The second photo, taken from the same vantage point in 2009, looks like a futuristic, intergalactic city from the set of a Star Wars movie. The empty desert has disappeared completely, replaced by phalanxes of towering skyscrapers and, in the distance, the tallest building in the world, the 170-storey Burj Dubai.

The photographs are startling, almost disturbing. They serve as a powerful testament to the extraordinary transition of a group of sleepy Gulf statelets into a unified global powerhouse in an astonishingly short period of time.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a tight federation of seven ruling families. Its federal capital is the city of Abu Dhabi which, along with its sister city of Dubai, serves as the commercial heart of the UAE.

These two are the big players in the federation and rather like Germany and France in the European Union, Abu Dhabi and Dubai pretty much call the shots, though an argument could be made that Sharjah, the third largest emirate, plays a quiet second fiddle.

Abu Dhabi, geographically by far the biggest of the emirates, was the first to discover oil in 1962 and it remains the source of almost all of the UAE's vast hydrocarbon wealth. Dubai struck oil ten years later but recognised very early on that its reserves would not last long and the income generated from oil must be used to create an investment and tourism based economy. Which is exactly what Dubai has done, becoming both a world financial centre and the most popular tourist destination in the region.

The Emir of Sharjah has ruled since 1972, and the emirate mirrors his interests in theatre and history, with a focus on cultural pursuits and academic enterprises. As for the other four northern emirates - Ras Al-Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm Al-Quwain and Ajman - their profile is so low you could be excused for thinking that they are not part of the orchestra at all; but they are there in the background, following assiduously the parts assigned to them.

The song that the ruling families have played has by and large been a pleasing one for their subjects, for the UAE has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Its citizens live a life of subsidised comfort, from education through to electricity bills.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, told the BBC earlier this year that anyone can pick up their phone and call him should they have a concern. "There is a real deference within the ruling families to public opinion," says Jim Krane. "They really do care what their subjects think of them."

Apparently that works, as long as what their subjects think of them doesn't have anything to do with politics or direct criticism of the ruling families. As Shaikh Mohammed put it in that BBC interview, "my vision is to have Dubai as number one and (for it) to be the happiest nation."

And happy, Dubai and the other emirates appear to be, with good relations with the rest of their Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partners, except Qatar, which stands accused of harbouring the Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier this year the UAE joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in withdrawing their ambassador from Doha.

Even worrisome Iran seems to cause the UAE less anxiety than it does their Saudi neighbours, due in no small part to excellent bilateral trade arrangements that have existed for decades.

While it is true that the UAE, like the rest of the Gulf, is watching with unease the splintering of Iraq, its leaders have, as with the Israel-Palestine conflict, kept their heads below the ramparts and their views mostly to themselves. All of which appears fine with most Emiratis who seem happy with the way things are, although the UAE song turns much darker when it comes to political Islam.

In a campaign, largely driven by the Abu Dhabi ruler Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyen, the Islamist organisation Al-Islah, often seen as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been declared a terrorist group intent on overthrowing the government.

Dozens of its members were arrested in 2012, subjected to enforced disappearances, denied access to lawyers, allegedly forced to sign confessions under torture and then convicted and given long jail terms.

The resultant outcry from international human rights organisations may have dinted the UAE global brand but it has done nothing to deter the authorities from continuing their clampdown. Although Abu Dhabi led the charge none of the other emirates has challenged the central narrative that Al-Islah poses a real and present danger.

Ironically, the ruling families themselves were not averse to using the organisation in the 1980s when oil prices were flat and there was not as much largesse to dole out to their subjects. According to Krane, "the families made concessions to political Islam." He described the policy as a "safety valve that allowed people to express their frustration."

The UAE government enabled Al-Islah, which espouses traditional, conservative Islamic values, to dominate the ministry of education and the school system. In the northern emirates, impoverished in comparison to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Al-Islah made significant gains.

However, by the middle of the 1990s growing unease with Al-Islah caused a rethink. Attitudes that were already increasingly negative crystallised into deep hostility, some would say paranoia, with the emergence of a democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt in 2012.

It was then that the mass arrests of Al-Islah members began in earnest. Many of those arrested were from the northern emirates whose governments offered nary a dissenting public murmur to what was happening to their citizens.

Al-Islah members in exile have denied repeatedly that their organisation has any intention of forcing out the ruling families, but most Emiratis have accepted the government version of events.

Human rights activists in the country are isolated, few in number and fearful of arrest if they are not already in jail. It is a simple fact that, for the vast majority of Emiratis, questioning authority is not an option; either they are not interested or the risks and the consequences for them and their families are too severe.

In that sense the crackdown has served a broader strategic aim, one that the leading members of the Emirati orchestra have played with harsh precision. The theme is unmistakable: dissent will not be tolerated. As security concerns continue to dominate the Gulf and the wider Middle East agenda, it is unlikely that the UAE will change its tune.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Bill Law) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:36:19 +0000
Two Palestinians killed during clashes with Israeli occupation forces in West Bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13042-two-palestinians-killed-during-clashes-with-israeli-occupation-forces-in-west-bank https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13042-two-palestinians-killed-during-clashes-with-israeli-occupation-forces-in-west-bank IMAGES

At least two Palestinians were killed on Thursday evening during clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli occupation forces near the Qalandiya checkpoint, just north of occupied Jerusalem, Palestinian security sources said.

Media are reporting that Israeli occupation forces shot and killed Mohammed Al-Araj, 25 years old, and Majd Sufyan, 27 years old. Both were participating in a mass protest staged by at least 10,000 Palestinians when violent clashes broke out between them and Israeli occupation forces at the checkpoint that separates Jerusalem from the West Bank.

Hundreds were reportedly injured during the clashes, some of whom were shot with live ammunition.

In response to the killings, Palestinians have called for a "day of rage" with popular protests.

The Israeli army spokesperson told Agence France Presse that: "There are thousands of rioters there. They are rolling burning tyres and throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks at soldiers and border police."

She said that the occupation forces were only using "riot disposal means" to control the protests, but witnesses confirmed to Al-Ghad newspaper that the soldiers fired live ammunition, tear gas bombs and rubber bullets at the protestors.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:25:21 +0000
50 French nationals on board missing Algeria plane https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13041-50-french-nationals-on-board-missing-algeria-plane https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/europe/13041-50-french-nationals-on-board-missing-algeria-plane Algeria's national airline, Air Algerie, has released the nationalities of passengers on its plane that went missing over Mali on Thursday, saying that at least 50 were French.

Twelve Algerians, including six crew members, were on board the MD-83 aircraft, which had been flying from Ouagadougou to Algiers when it went missing on Thursday morning, the airline said in a statement.

Passengers also included 24 people from Burkina Faso; eight from Lebanon; six from Spain; five from Canada; four from Germany; and two from Luxembourg.

There were also individual passengers from Mali, Belgium, Niger, Cameroon, Egypt, Ukraine, Romania and Switzerland, along with three others whose nationalities remain unknown, the press release added.

Air Algerie says it lost contact with Flight AH 5017 – which took off on Thursday from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso bound for Algiers – in the early hours of Thursday.

The MD-83 plane, with 116 passengers and six crew members on board, was chartered by Spain's Swiftair, which has confirmed that the plane never arrived to its destination.

The flight departed from Ouagadougou shortly after 1:55am (local time) and was scheduled to land at 5:10am (Algerian time) in the Algerian capital.

Air controllers say their last contact with the plane took place some 50 minutes after takeoff.

According to the Weather Channel, Flight AH 5017 entered a stormy area shortly after takeoff that featured "gusts of strong winds and high electrical activity."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:41:14 +0000
A Zionist Egypt has emerged under Al-Sisi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/13040-a-zionist-egypt-has-emerged-under-al-sisi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/13040-a-zionist-egypt-has-emerged-under-al-sisi It was once the heart of the Arab world, playing a central role in Middle Eastern politics. The largest Arab country, populated by 86 million people, and with a record of being at the forefront in playing the role of mediator in conflicts within the region, particularly those relating to Palestine. In Egypt today, there is little of the traditional Arab solidarity towards Palestinians to be found; there is, though, the emergence of anti-Hamas, anti-Palestinian sentiments among Egyptians.

The Gaza Strip, whose almost 2 million people live in less than 360 square kilometres, affects Egypt, but is affected more by the internal affairs of its mighty neighbour. This is primarily due to the fact that Gaza's leadership, Hamas, is part of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation which was overthrown in Cairo by a bloody coup one year ago.

Relationship issues

Whilst struggling under a siege which has been imposed by Israel and Egypt, Gaza is now also being attacked by the world's fourth largest army, the so-called Israel Defence Forces; Cairo remains silent. Gaza has experienced different relationships with Egypt over the past four years, from absolute hostility, to neutrality, to absolute support. Currently, the besieged land gets no help from the government in Cairo; it gets only unequivocal hostility.

It was in Cairo in 2008 that Israel's Tzipi Livni announced the start of "Operation Cast Lead" against Gaza, one year after the siege was put in place, helped by the Mubarak regime.

When the 25 January Revolution came along in 2011, Mubarak's regime claimed that it was Hamas which was responsible for killing protesters in Tahrir Square. Following Mubarak's overthrow, things took a turn for the better under the interim SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) government; the blockade on Gaza was eased, with the Rafah crossing, the only border not controlled by Israel, allowing Palestinian women, children and men aged over 40 to pass into Egypt.

During SCAF rule, Egypt mediated the deal between Israel and Hamas for the release of Sergeant Gilad Shalit in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

After the first post-revolution elections, Egypt had its first democratically-elected civilian president, Dr Mohamed Morsi, a candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood. He supported Hamas.

When Israel launched its attack on Gaza in November 2012 – "Operation Pillar of Defence" – Egypt gave Gaza it's full support. Prime Minister Dr Hisham Qandeel went to visit Gaza during the onslaught. Egypt also managed to broker a ceasefire and truce between the Israelis and Palestinians which ended the offensive.

Incitement of hatred

Following the military coup in July 2013, and in the footsteps of Mubarak's regime, Egypt went back to having a completely hostile attitude towards Gaza, at an unprecedented level. It closed the Rafah crossing once again and destroyed the tunnels which were considered a life-line for the Palestinians in the Strip.

With the current heinous Israeli military offensive on Gaza which has claimed the lives of over 740 Palestinians to-date, with more than 5,000 injured (the figures are rising by the minute), Egypt is playing the role of spectator and refers to the offensive as an exchange of fire by both sides. Al-Sisi's government ignores the fact that Israel's army is attacking a densely populated strip of land whose people possess no army, navy or air force. In the new Egypt, the aggressor and the victim are the same, equating the Palestinian resistance and Israel. This is a position that not even Mubarak took.

Whilst the children of Gaza are bidding farewell to their childhood and their lives, and homes are obliterated and entire families annihilated, the Arab world is silent. Even Gaza's closest, once intimate, neighbour; the neighbour that was always looked to for comfort and support, if not from its leaders, then at least from its people, has made no condemnation of Israeli brutality.

The incitement of hatred in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi was elected led to the bloody coup and the largest massacre seen in Egypt against his supporters. This has been redirected over the past year against Hamas on a governmental, military, judicial and media level.

As a result, Egyptian fervour for the Palestinian cause has subsided. The Egyptian viewer is constantly told that Hamas is a terrorist group; it is the Muslim Brotherhood: "We must not forget that Hamas is the armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist movement," Egyptian TV presenter Amany Al-Khayat told viewers.

"The support for Palestinians has waned dramatically," said one Egyptian journalist. "The Egyptian silence in the face of Israel's latest offensive is expected amid an unprecedented and coordinated media smear campaign against Hamas."

The emergence of Egyptian Zionists

The dehumanisation and gloating seen amongst the Egyptian people when peaceful anti-coup protesters were annihilated, is the same now being witnessed towards Gaza, with several television presenters praising and supporting the Israeli military operation against Hamas. Some salute Israel and encourages it to wipe out Hamas and the people of Gaza.

"Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more people like you to destroy Hamas!" tweeted Azza Sami of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram. Another Egyptian wrote: "May God make the State of Israel victorious in its war against the terrorist movement Hamas during this holy month of Ramadan."

Hamas and the Palestinians are shocked by this reaction to the Israeli military operation. One Hamas spokesman said: "It's disgraceful to see that some Egyptians are publicly supporting the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip while Westerners are expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and condemning Israel." Since the Israeli offensive, there has been an immense worldwide public uproar with many countries seeing tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets to condemn the atrocities and call on their governments to put pressure on Israel to stop its crimes.

This sort of incitement towards Palestinians has never been seen before in Egypt; some of the state mouthpieces go so far as to claim, ridiculously, that what is happening is not a war, but an agreement between Israel and Hamas to embarrass Egypt. According to presenter and staunch mouthpiece of the Al-Sisi regime, Tawfik Okasha, "Hamas has made an agreement with Israeli intelligence and planned for the firing of Hamas rockets into Tel Aviv." Another, obviously ignorant, TV personality claimed that the people of Gaza were better off under the Israeli occupation than under the Hamas-led government.

The forgotten child

In May during his presidential campaign, Al-Sisi said that should any Arab nation be threatened in its national security, then Egypt would be there straight away and that Egypt will "not accept any threat to any Arab country." Gaza appears to be exempt from this promise. Not only is the onslaught against Gaza taking place with the blessing of the new coup government in Egypt, but it has also been co-ordinating with Israel in Sinai to destroy the tunnels and close the Rafah crossing.

Wounded Palestinians have been refused entry, and convoys carrying much-needed medical aid have been turned away, strengthening the siege on this open-air prison and putting more pressure on Hamas on behalf of Israel. Atallah Eid, a 24 year old Palestinian who managed to make it through Rafah was among the very few wounded allowed to do so. "I was so happy when I was told that I was going to Egypt to complete my treatment, but what I heard with my ears and saw with my own eyes made me wish I had died in Gaza and never come to Egypt," he said.

Another injured Palestinian said that he wants to return to Gaza as soon as possible. "I don't want to finish the treatment. I wish they didn't bring me to Egypt... Its image would've stayed rosy in my eyes."

Mutual enemy

Israel has not publically admitted its alliance with Egypt over its operation against Gaza. However, Israeli journalist and political analyst Danny Rubenstein, speaking on Al-Jazeera, admitted that there is some kind of understanding between the two countries on the Gaza onslaught agenda and that both have mutual interests in attacking Hamas.

Operation Protective Edge was the first test for Al-Sisi on foreign affairs since officially taking the presidency, and he has failed miserably. While the attack on neighbouring Gaza was making headlines worldwide, Al-Sisi failed to mention anything in the speech he made to the Egyptians on 10 Ramadan, corresponding to the second day of the onslaught. The Rafah border has remained largely closed in the face of the wounded and injured Palestinians, and not a word of condemnation has been made by the president of the largest country of the Arab world. If Egypt was once known as the "mother of the world", this mother seems to have disowned its closest child as the killings next door continue unabated.

Loyalty from behind bars

In a country where over 1,000 of its own people were massacred in one day - shot, beaten, burnt and gassed - and the perpetrators were praised and saluted, it doesn't seem so surprising that the same people would allow more massacres to occur in a neighbouring country.

Without doubt there are still many Egyptians and Arabs who sympathise with Gaza and are outraged. Indeed Egypt has seen many protests under banners proclaiming, "To you we come Gaza!" though they do not receive airtime and the calls for Gaza are drowned by the new Egyptian Zionist voices.

The Arab world is largely silent, with no condemnation from any leaders, apart from the ousted democratic President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, from his prison cell: "To you we come Gaza! To you we come Gaza! To you we come Gaza!" And he means it.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Dr Walaa Ramadan) frontpage Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:44:13 +0000
Economic expert: Five reasons why the Gulf stopped funding Al-Sisi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13039-economic-expert-5-reasons-why-the-gulf-stopped-funding-al-sisi https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13039-economic-expert-5-reasons-why-the-gulf-stopped-funding-al-sisi An Egyptian economic expert said that five reasons caused the friends of Egypt conference to fail and made the Gulf States reluctant to provide more loans and grants to President Abdel Fatah Al- Sisi despite his victory in the presidential election.

Nasser Banhawy said the coup regime is falling apart and these countries fear that its failure will lead to losing their funds; especially as the pro-legitimacy alliance announced several times that it does not recognise any loans or contracts provided to the coup regime.

Banhawy pointed out that these countries fear the escalating anger of their people from funding the Egyptian killing machine despite the widespread poverty and unemployment in their countries. He said that the unemployment rate among Saudi males stands at six per cent and at 33 per cent among females and that these countries fear that the Arab Spring will spread to their countries while they try to fight it in Egypt.

Among the other reasons, Banhawy explained the countries fear losing previous grants, estimated to value $20 billion, due to corruption, lack of control, lack of planning and vision for economic development. He said: "These fears are also due to Al-Sisi's failure to fight corruption which devours tens of billions annually and his turning a blind eye to tax evasion and his lack of seriousness in imposing a maximum salary law for judges and employees in the fields of energy, army and the police."

Banhawy pointed out that the salaries of these sectors' employees exceed their counterparts in the Gulf States which support the coup and noted that a large segment of the Gulf people believe it is foolish that their states grant free gas shipments to support a military regime which sold gas to Israel at subsidised prices.

He concluded that these countries' preoccupation with supporting Libya's renegade General Khalifa Haftar, fighting the Palestinian resistance in Gaza and monitoring the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)'s advancement in Iraq have interrupted their plans which compelled Al-Sisi to demand more loans from the International Monetary Fund to finance the state militarisation, including building new prisons, increasing the army Generals' salaries and financing new arms deals.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:12:06 +0000
15 Gazans killed in Israeli attack on UNRWA school https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13038-15-gazans-die-in-israeli-attack-on-unrwa-school https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/13038-15-gazans-die-in-israeli-attack-on-unrwa-school IMAGES

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More than 15 Palestinian civilians were killed on Thursday when the Israeli army shelled a school run by the U.N.'s Palestinian refugees agency (UNRWA) in the northern Gaza Strip, a Palestinian Health Ministry official has said.

"More than 15 people were killed and nearly 100 others, mostly women and children, were injured when Israel shelled the Beit Hanoun school," ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra told Anadolu Agency.

"Body parts of children and women were scattered about inside the school," he said.

Al-Qodra said scores of Palestinian families displaced by fierce Israeli bombardments across the Gaza Strip – which continued unabated on Thursday – had taken refugee inside the ill-fated school.

Israeli officials have yet to comment on the incident.

Palestinian resistance faction Hamas, for its part, described the Israeli attack as a "massacre."

"Israel has committed a grisly war crime," the group said in a statement, going on to vow that the Israeli attacks would not go unpunished.

Since July 7, Israel has pummeled the Gaza Strip – from air, sea and land – with the ostensible aim of halting Palestinian rocket fire.

One week ago, Israel stepped up its devastating offensive to include ground operations, sending thousands of troops into the embattled coastal enclave.

At least 745 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, and more than 4500 injured in unrelenting Israeli attacks.

Thirty-two Israelis – 30 soldiers and two civilians – have also been confirmed killed by Palestinian resistance fighters since hostilities began on July 7.

Israel's operation "Protective Edge" is the self-proclaimed Jewish state's third major offensive against the densely-populated Gaza Strip – home to some 1.8 million Palestinians – within the last six years.

In 2008/9, over 1500 Palestinians were killed – the vast majority of them civilians – during Israel's three-week-long "Operation Cast Lead."

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:02:49 +0000
Egyptian media praises the Israeli aggression on Gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13037-egyptian-media-praises-the-israeli-aggression-on-gaza https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/13037-egyptian-media-praises-the-israeli-aggression-on-gaza Many readers and viewers of the Egyptian media seem perplexed by its coverage of the Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip especially as it praises its aerial raids against innocent civilians and describe it as a "war on terrorism".

The strangest incident occurred when Israel's Channel Two praised an Egyptian TV host who called on the Egyptian Army to explicitly help the Israeli army to eliminate Hamas for supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The host and her channel's position reflect the incitement campaign waged by the major Egyptian newspapers and TV channels against Hamas, calling it an "internal occupier, not less dangerous than a foreign occupier".

A group of Egyptian journalists and writers gloated over targeting Hamas and condemned its reaction to the Israeli aggression by firing missiles at Israeli cities, claiming it was "an attempt to embarrass Egypt and President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi".

CBC TV station described the Israeli targets in Gaza as terrorist targets.

Imad Eddin Adeed Adib, who is known for his close ties with the regime, said, in an article published in Al-Watan newspaper, that "the last thing Egypt needs now is to drag its armed forces into military operations outside its borders", stressing that the Egyptian media "does not target the Palestinian resistance, but refuses Hamas' random actions."

Adib said: "Hamas would be delusional to believe that Egypt would play the same role played by President Morsi during the aggression in 2012; because the great relationship between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood no longer exists, and Hamas does not deserve the Egyptian support after all the crimes it committed by killing rebels in Tahrir Square and storming prisons.

"We should not leave the Palestinian people in Gaza victims of the Israeli aggression and prey to the aggressive policies of Hamas towards its neighbours."

A member of the Journalists Against the Coup Mujahid Melegi criticised the Egyptian media's incitement against Hamas and the Gaza Strip saying "it will lead to inciting the Egyptian public opinion against the Palestinians and brings more atrocities to the Gaza Strip."

Melegi described those who incite against the Palestinian resistance in the Egyptian and Arab media as "traitors who destroy the Arab conscience and side with the occupation against their brothers in religion and language".

He pointed out that "the Egyptian regime is a key partner in the aggression on Gaza, especially as Israel considers Al-Sisi its national hero. Therefore the pro-regime media distorts the image of the resistance and reduces its military capabilities to undermine Al-Sisi's betrayal."

Head of the Electronic Media Union, Abubakar Khallaf said: "The Egyptian leaders try to justify their failures by using the media as a tool which blames Hamas and justifies closing the Rafah crossing and the Israeli attack as a reaction to Hamas' foolish actions.

"Since the coup against President Morsi, the media links the Muslim Brotherhood to Hamas and terrorism; and therefore Egypt cannot show the world that it defends Hamas, while it accuses it of terrorism."

Khallaf reminded those journalists of their duty to professionalism, and the press charter, and that his union measures media performance, although it realises that all of these moves will not work in light of the insistence by some to mislead the public and manipulate their minds for funds.

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noreply@memonitor.org.uk (Middle East Monitor) frontpage Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:55:23 +0000