ISRAHELL 2DAY: Settlers blamed for mosque blaze

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Israeli settlers are reported to have set fire to a mosque in a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank, damaging prayer rugs and a large number of copies of the Quran, as well as spraying anti-Arab graffiti on the walls.According to witnesses, five Jewish settlers broke into a mosque in Beit Fajjar in the early hours of Monday and set it alight before the morning prayers, Ahmad Thawabteh, the town’s mayor, told Al Jazeera.

The Israeli military told Al Jazeera that primary investigations showed Hebrew graffiti and burnt carpets at the mosque, located south of Bethlehem.

Avital Leibovitch, a spokeswoman for Israel’s military, said Israeli authorities will bring the guilty parties to justice.

“The Israeli police … have opened a very widespread investigation; the other security forces in Israel will be a part of [it], as well as Palestinian information that has some contribution to this investigation,” she told Al Jazeera.

“We see this incident in a very severe manner. We will do the utmost to find these lawbreakers and bring them to court.”

Emotions running high

Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh, reporting from the mosque, said emotions are quite high in the town.

“It was a little before three in the morning when residents saw smoke coming out of the mosque, that they rushed in to put out the fire,” she said.

“We heard residents [break] into chants about revenge. Much of the talk here is [calling this a] religious type of attack rather than a politically motivated one.”

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from Jerusalem, said: “Certainly this is something that is ratcheting up tensions at a time when the Israeli cabinet are meeting to decide on extending the settlement freeze.

“A mosque was burned in the West Bank earlier this year by settlers who say it was on their land – land that they claim and occupy.

“There is certainly a pattern here. There will be a settler demonstration north of the West Bank today which is also linked to a mosque that the settlers want destroyed.”

Illegal settlements

Vandals occasionally spray-paint the words “price tag” on buildings and cars, suggesting that the attacks are the “price” for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb the growth of illegal settlements.

Human-rights groups say the Israeli government does not take the attacks seriously enough.

A report by Amnesty International, the London-based rights group, found that “impunity remains the norm” for settlers accused of vandalism and physical attacks on Palestinians.

The incident in Beit Fajjar comes as Israeli and Palestinian officials prepare to resume indirect negotiations.

Palestinian leaders are pushing for a complete freeze in new Israeli construction in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, approved last year a temporary halt in West Bank settlement growth – but it does not apply to East Jerusalem.

Many communities in the West Bank have ignored the order and continued new construction.

Source:
Al Jazeera

GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA: Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea

Even America’s major media can’t duck a crime this grave – attacking and slaughtering up to 20 Gaza Freedom Flotilla activists and injuring dozens more.

New York Times writer Isabel Kershner headlined “At Least 10 Killed as Israel Intercepts Aid Flotilla, saying:

“The Israeli Navy raided a flotilla carrying thousands of tons of supplies for Gaza in international waters on Monday morning….The incident drew widespread international condemnation, with Israeli envoys summoned to explain their country’s actions in several European countries….The killings also coincided with preparations for a planned visit to Washington on Tuesday (June 1) by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Late word is it’s postponed.

Read more at SteveLendmanBlog

LOWKEY – TERRORIST? (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)

VIDEO: Israel vs Israhell

Documentary about Israeli peace activists. For more information – join on Facebook > http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134111073300491

ISRAHELL BANALITY UPDATE: Not guilty. The Israeli captain who emptied his rifle into a Palestinian schoolgirl

An Israeli army officer who fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then said he would have done the same even if she had been three years old was acquitted on all charges by a military court yesterday.

The soldier, who has only been identified as “Captain R”, was charged with relatively minor offences for the killing of Iman al-Hams who was shot 17 times as she ventured near an Israeli army post near Rafah refugee camp in Gaza a year ago.

The manner of Iman’s killing, and the revelation of a tape recording in which the captain is warned that she was just a child who was “scared to death”, made the shooting one of the most controversial since the Palestinian intifada erupted five years ago even though hundreds of other children have also died.

After the verdict, Iman’s father, Samir al-Hams, said the army never intended to hold the soldier accountable.

“They did not charge him with Iman’s murder, only with small offences, and now they say he is innocent of those even though he shot my daughter so many times,” he said. “This was the cold-blooded murder of a girl. The soldier murdered her once and the court has murdered her again. What is the message? They are telling their soldiers to kill Palestinian children.”

The military court cleared the soldier of illegal use of his weapon, conduct unbecoming an officer and perverting the course of justice by asking soldiers under his command to alter their accounts of the incident.

Capt R’s lawyers argued that the “confirmation of the kill” after a suspect is shot was a standard Israeli military practice to eliminate terrorist threats.

Following the verdict, Capt R burst into tears, turned to the public benches and said: “I told you I was innocent.”

The army’s official account said that Iman was shot for crossing into a security zone carrying her schoolbag which soldiers feared might contain a bomb. It is still not known why the girl ventured into the area but witnesses described her as at least 100 yards from the military post which was in any case well protected.

A recording of radio exchanges between Capt R and his troops obtained by Israeli television revealed that from the beginning soldiers identified Iman as a child.

In the recording, a soldier in a watchtower radioed a colleague in the army post’s operations room and describes Iman as “a little girl” who was “scared to death”. After soldiers first opened fire, she dropped her schoolbag which was then hit by several bullets establishing that it did not contain explosive. At that point she was no longer carrying the bag and, the tape revealed, was heading away from the army post when she was shot.

Although the military speculated that Iman might have been trying to “lure” the soldiers out of their base so they could be attacked by accomplices, Capt R made the decision to lead some of his troops into the open. Shortly afterwards he can be heard on the recording saying that he has shot the girl and, believing her dead, then “confirmed the kill”.

“I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over,” he said.

Palestinian witnesses said they saw the captain shoot Iman twice in the head, walk away, turn back and fire a stream of bullets into her body.

On the tape, Capt R then “clarifies” to the soldiers under his command why he killed Iman: “This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the [security] zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed.”

At no point did the Israeli troops come under attack.

The prosecution case was damaged when a soldier who initially said he had seen Capt R point his weapon at the girl’s body and open fire later told the court he had fabricated the story.

Capt R claimed that he had not fired the shots at the girl but near her. However, Dr Mohammed al-Hams, who inspected the child’s body at Rafah hospital, counted numerous wounds. “She has at least 17 bullets in several parts of the body, all along the chest, hands, arms, legs,” he told the Guardian shortly afterwards. “The bullets were large and shot from a close distance. The most serious injuries were to her head. She had three bullets in the head. One bullet was shot from the right side of the face beside the ear. It had a big impact on the whole face.”

The army’s initial investigation concluded that the captain had “not acted unethically”. But after some of the soldiers under his command went to the Israeli press to give a different version, the military police launched a separate investigation after which he was charged.

Capt R claimed that the soldiers under his command were out to get him because they are Jewish and he is Druze.

The transcript

The following is a recording of a three-way conversation that took place between a soldier in a watchtower, an army operations room and Capt R, who shot the girl

From the watchtower [three-way conversation between watchtower soldier, the operations room in another location, and finally, Captain R, the officer on the ground near watchtower “It’s a little girl. She’s running defensively eastward.” “Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?” “A girl about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.” “I think that one of the positions took her out.” “I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over.”

From the operations room “Are we talking about a girl under the age of 10?”

Watchtower “A girl about 10, she’s behind the embankment, scared to death.”

A few minutes later, Iman is shot from one of the army posts

Watchtower “I think that one of the positions took her out.”

Captain R “I and another soldier … are going in a little nearer, forward, to confirm the kill … Receive a situation report. We fired and killed her … I also confirmed the kill. Over.”

Capt R then “clarifies” why he killed Iman

“This is commander. Anything that’s mobile, that moves in the zone, even if it’s a three-year-old, needs to be killed. Over.”

• This article was amended on 1 September 2010, to make explicit that the opening watchtower conversation is between three participants.

SHIP 2 GAZA: As Turkish photographer is buried, other journalists aboard flotilla speak out

Journalists who were aboard the humanitarian flotilla that was intercepted by Israeli naval commandoes on 31 May have been recounting their experiences. At the same time, Turkish journalist Cevdet Kiliçlar, who was fatally shot at the start of the assault of the Mavi Marmara, one of vessels in the flotilla, was buried in Istanbul on 4 June. A news photographer who graduated from Marmara University’s Faculty of Communication, Kiliçlar had worked in the past for such Islamist newspapers as Selam (Salute), Vakit (Time) and Milli Gazete (National Newspaper) and had applied for an official press card while working for Milli Gazete.

For the past year he had worked for the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a Turkish NGO, as press officer and website editor. He was killed by a single shot to the head fired at close range by an Israeli soldier.

The Turkish Union of Journalists (TGS) has protested against Kiliçlar’s death, which it says should be treated as a murder, and has called for an investigation to establish the exact circumstances in which he was killed.

All the journalists who were detained by the Israeli authorities have now been deported from Israel and many of them have been talking about what they went through.

Mediha Olgun (Turkish woman journalist with the daily Sabah):

“I was released 72 hours after the start of the military operation. I was forced to go back into my cabin where they gave me a full search. They cut into the heels of my shoes to see if I had hidden anything there. That is how they found the copies of the photos we had kept. They seized my laptop, my camera and mobile phone. They only thing I was able to hold on to was my passport. They also took our photos.”

Ayse Sarioglu (Turkish woman journalist with the daily Taraf):

“I was terrified when I saw Kiliçlar on the ground. That is when I cried… They searched absolutely everything. From the boat, they took us to a large shed in the port of Ashdod, where we were interrogated. I was humiliated by a policeman, although there was a woman officer there who was very polite. While interrogating me, he spat on me and called me an idiot. He even pulled my tongue. I could not believe my eyes, it was so inhuman!

“They accused us of being within 10 miles of Israeli territory. I replied that we were 70 miles away and in international waters. ‘You knew that Gaza was forbidden.’ I replied: ‘Yes, but I did not come here because I wanted to. I am a journalist and it is my job.’ ‘It is of little importance that you are a journalist. You have broken a rule.’ They asked me to sign a statement but I refused, asking for a translator from the Turkish embassy. ‘Whether you sign or not, you will be deported.’ We were searched meticulously, between our toes, in our hair, under our gums, under the tongue and so on. They took us to Beer Sheva prison. I was questioned again. They asked me if I was a member of Hamas or Al Qaeda. They also asked me if there were Palestinians in my family.

“I was able to call and talk to my family for just one minute and in English. On the afternoon of the next day, I was put in contact with Turkish embassy officials. We spent a second night in a prison cell. The next morning, they woke us at 6 a.m., gave us our passports and took us by bus to Ben Gurion airport.”

Erhan Sevenler (Turkish journalist with the semi-official news agency Anatolia-AA):

“When we learned of the presence of military boats and a submarine nearby, we began to take measures. All the journalists gathered at the stern of the boat to be able to film what was going to happen. At around 4 a.m., 15 to 20 zodiacs surrounded the ship. Very quickly, a helicopter lowered commandoes to the bridge. As I rushed towards the bridge, people aboard our ship grabbed a soldier. Until that moment, I thought they were firing rubber bullets. That is when I realised they were firing live rounds. The windows of the bridge exploded under the impact of the bullets. The journalists then sought refuge in the office reserved for the press.”

Yücel Velioglu (Turkish journalist with the AA news agency):

“There were three doors to the journalists’ office, two of which were locked. The soldiers knew how to enter the office because we had given them a clear explanation. But they deliberately broke down one of the locked doors. We had a cameras round our necks and our press cards in our hands, but the soldiers kept aiming the lasers of their guns at our eyes in order to intimidate us… That lasted about 45 minutes.”

Marcello Faraggi, an Italian journalist who heads a media production company in Brussels, was aboard the Eleftheri Mesogeios (“Free Mediterranean Sea), one of cargo boats in the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla, reporting for the TV station Euronews. He described what he experienced to Reporters Without Borders:

“When we left Athens, I was on the passenger ship, the Sfendoni. Once we reached Rhodes, I switched to the freighter carrying humanitarian aid, the Eleftheri Mesogeios, which was flying the Greek and Swedish flags. There were 29 of us aboard it, including two other journalists, Mario Damolin, who was working for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Maria Psara, a Greek journalist working for a newspaper that supports the Greek socialist party. There were also some well-known people from Greece and Sweden, including the novelist Henning Mankel.

“The Israeli army intervened at 4:30 a.m. on 31 May, when we were still in international waters. Two helicopters dropped smoke bombs. Several zodiac boats without lights began to circulate among the boats in the flotilla. It seemed like something in a movie but it was real. Real as in war. I heard someone shout: ‘They are firing real bullets. Not just smoke bombs! Real bullets!’ Meanwhile the Marmara just continued on the same course.

“At 6:30 a.m., as the sun was rising, an Israeli army boat circled us. Loudspeakers screamed that we should surrender, that we were putting the boat’s safety in danger. The zodiacs did not stop circling around us. Soldiers climbed on to the cargo. We had gathered in the captain’s cabin. They asked us to surrender. Most of us complied. Those who refused were hit by the soldiers, targeted by the rifle lasers and handcuffed with plastic straps.

“I kept filming all this while. When the soldiers saw me, they grabbed the camera out of my hands, they confiscated it along with the cassettes I had on me. ‘We will give them back to you at the port,’ they said. I told them I was a journalist and showed my international press card but to no avail. It made no difference. After being briefly interrogated in the captain’s office, we three journalists joined the other passengers, who were assembled on the deck. The boat set course for Ashdod. But in we took nearly 10 hours to arrive and in the meantime we were all on the deck like animals.

“When we arrived at the port of Ashdod at around 3:30 p.m. there were masses of people there. Lots of soldiers filmed us as we got off the boat. We felt like animals in a zoo. When I showed my press card, a cassette was returned to me. We were put in a bus and driven to a space where they were lots of tents. Soldiers asked me to undress. They confiscated other material from me. There were five or six or us who had to undress at the same time. It was humiliating. I refused to submit to a medical inspection. I was then asked to sign a document in English. As an Italian, I asked if I could have an Italian translation. They laughed in my face.

“Then they put us in a truck used for transferring prisoners. We waited for more than an hour squeezed against each other inside the truck, under the sun, without air conditioning. Only when night fell did the army transfer us to Beer Sheva, where we were again searched on our arrival. They gave us a few raw vegetables, some water to drink, pieces of soap and shampoo in sachets. We were given no chance to call a lawyer or contact our embassies.

“Embassy representative came on Tuesday afternoon. But that was when we were about to be taken before a judge. Everyone was in the same room, a sort of big hanger. It was really noisy! We were transferred to Ben Gurion airport on Wednesday morning. In the bus, a Czech journalist wanted to go to the toilet. A soldier laughed at him. I tried to intervene because I had my international press card on me, but in vain.

“On the plane, they made us sign a statement in English recognising that we had entered Israeli territory illegally. Then my passport was returned to me. I saw that some people were given only a photocopy of their passport. Although we had boarded the plane at 1:30 p.m., we did not take off until about midnight. Rumours circulated all this while, including one about an Italian journalist being beaten by soldiers. We were finally flown to Istanbul.

“On our arrival at about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, they told us our bags had arrived. I found that my camera bag was sealed, so I asked airport officials to open it so that they could witness what I found inside. The bag was full of old clothes and rubbish. My camera was not there.

“Yesterday, 8 June, I went to the Brussels police to report that I had been the victim of armed robbery. I lost more than 20,000 euros of equipment on this job. I was aboard that boat as a journalist, not an activist. The Israeli soldiers are guilty of an act of piracy.”

“Today the chief of police called to say that it was wrong on the part of the police officer to have registered my complaint yesterday inasmuch as the Belgian authorities could not do anything. He nonetheless added that, since I had been given a copy of my statement, with a registration number, the police would transfer their report to the prosecutor’s office ‘for information’.”

Photos by Marcello Faraggi:

Ref: Reporters without borders

ISRAHELL GAZA HASBARA: spoof video mocking activists (WARNING RACIST!!!) This is another piece of handicrafted Israhell goods in the framing of the murders it committed on int waters!

“But the most recent video distributed on Friday by the Israeli government press office (which belongs to the Israeli prime minister’s office and is responsible for accrediting foreign journalists) is distasteful and insulting to those killed and injured on the Freedom Flotilla, and quite frankly disturbing – especially since it was made by the Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor, Caroline Glick, who also moonlights for the American Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC. (Read more about Caroline Glick and her dual role as a pro-Israeli advocate and “credible journalist” in mainstream American and Israeli media here.)

On Friday afternoon, the Israeli Government issued the following email:

Due to a misunderstanding on our part, earlier today we inadvertently issued a video link that had been sent for our perusal.  It was not intended for general release.  The contents of the video in no way represent the official policy of either the Government Press Office or of the State of Israel.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you for your patients and understanding.

Efraim Roseman

Ref: Al Jazeera

Israel forced to apologise for YouTube spoof of Gaza flotilla

Israeli government press office distributed video link featuring Arabs and activists singing

The Israeli government has been forced to apologise for circulating a spoof video mocking activists aboard the Gaza flotilla, nine of who were shot dead by Israeli forces last week.

The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: “We con the world, we con the people. We’ll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper.”

It continues: “There’s no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the biggest bluff of all.”

The Israeli government press office distributed the video link to foreign journalists at the weekend, but within hours emailed them an apology, saying it had been an error. Press office director Danny Seaman said the video did not reflect official state opinion, but in his personal capacity he thought it was “fantastic”.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said the video reflected how Israelis felt about the incident. “I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny,” he said. “It is what Israelis feel. But the government has nothing to do with it.”

The clip features a group led by the Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, wearing keffiyehs and calling themselves the Flotilla Choir. The footage is interspersed with clips from the recent Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid ship, the Mavi Marmara.

The clip has been praised in Israel, where the mass-circulation daily Yediot Aharonot said the singers “defended Israel better than any of the experts”.

But Didi Remez, an Israeli who runs the liberal-left news analysis blog Coteret, said the clip was “repulsive” and reflected how out of touch Israeli opinion was with the rest of the world. “It shows a complete lack of understanding of how the incident is being perceived abroad,” she said. Award-winning Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport said the clip demonstrated prejudice against Muslims. “It’s roughly done, not very sophisticated, anti-Muslim – and childish for the government to be behind such a clip,” he said.

A similar press office email was sent to foreign journalists two weeks ago, recommending a gourmet restaurant and Olympic-sized swimming pool in Gaza to highlight Israel’s claim there is no humanitarian crisis there. Journalists who complained the email was in poor taste were told they had “no sense of humour”.

Last week, the Israel Defence Force had to issue a retraction over an audio clip it had claimed was a conversation between Israeli naval officials and people on the Mavi Marmara, in which an activist told soldiers to “go back to Auschwitz”. The clip was carried by Israeli and international press, but today the army released a “clarification/correction”, explaining that it had edited the footage and that it was not clear who had made the comment.

The Israeli army also backed down last week from an earlier claim that soldiers were attacked by al-Qaida “mercenaries” aboard the Gaza flotilla. An article appearing on the IDF spokesperson’s website with the headline: “Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be al-Qaida mercenaries”, was later changed to “Attackers of the IDF Soldiers found without identification papers,” with the information about al-Qaida removed from the main article. An army spokesperson told the Guardian there was no evidence proving such a link to the terror organisation.

While the debate over accounts of the flotilla raid continues, Israel is facing more boycotting. In the past week, three international acts, including the US rock band the Pixies, have cancelled concerts in Tel Aviv.

Best-settling authors Alice Walker and Iain Banks have backed the boycott campaign, with Banks announcing his books won’t be translated into Hebrew. Dockworker unions in Sweden and South Africa have refused to handle Israeli ships, while the UK’s Unite union just passed a motion to boycott Israeli companies.

Ref: Guardian

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