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Entries in Israel (345)


Turkey Live Coverage (2 April): After the "Friends of Syria" Left....

1545 GMT: The President of the Constitutional Court, Hasim Kilic, speaking at the International Judicial Reform Symposium, has said that politics cannot compromise the judiciary. He said that major problems in the Turkish legal system are due to problems in practice, including a lack of objectivity among judges, shortcomings in vocational education, and a distancing from universal values. Hasin continued:

Judicial practices that know no bounds and that cannot be accounted for engendered the outcome of paying heavy prices and formed the justification of amendments in the laws and the Constitution itself. Just as we objected to the aims of the judiciary in surrounding politics, we will not give permission to politics to surround the judiciary today.

The state of law is formed and developed in line with the way you use the language [of laws and rules]. Making judges free from worries, fears, ideological pressures and emotions of "friend & enem"' in his/her inner world is the sine qua non of his/her objectivity. As long as the invasions of consciences are not overcome, it is impossible to provide an independent and objective judiciary.

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Iran Feature: Muffling the Drumbeats of War? Israel, Azerbaijan, and the US

We have been following the news and analysis heralding a military attack on Iran over its nuclear programme, and more recently, we have noted the media coverage --- following an Obama Administration "red line" against a strike --- hitting back at any launch of conflict.

Now an episode which brings both sides of the political and propaganda struggle together. 

On Wednesday, journalist Mark Perry posted the dramatic revelation, "Israel's Secret Staging Ground":

Four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."

It was immediately clear, however, that the news had not been fed to Perry to encourage the Israelis. Rather...

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Bahrain, Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: No Sleep Until....

1950 GMT: Al Jazeera finds this picture, reportedly taken in the town of Dael, Daraa, a small town that is no stranger to the ferocious crackdown of the Assad regime. The protesters hold signs, in English, and wave pre-Baath party Syrian flags, the symbols of the opposition. The message echoes that of many in Syria:

1945 GMT: A bold claim by the opposition in Quriyah, Deir Ez Zor:

"The Free Syrian Army killed the Major General Mohamed Hameem, the Commander, 17th Division-Armored Vehicles."

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Palestine 1st-Hand: A Gazan's Visit to Jerusalem (Abusalama)

Due to Israel’s apartheid checkpoints, it took us a day to reach Jericho, which is roughly one hour from Allenby Bridge. I waited eagerly, imagining myself walking around the old city of Jerusalem before heading to Gaza. We wasted over four hours waiting for the Israeli soldiers to let us pass through their checkpoints. Being from Gaza made my crossing procedures even more complicated. I spent the whole trip to Jericho counting minutes and hours. The more time we wasted, the less likely it became for me to tour Jerusalem. The time limit that Israel imposed by closing Erez at 7:00 pm made me stressful.

At sunset, I finished all the crossing and security procedures. I hurried to the exit to find my taxi driver sweating, standing by his parked car next to the door waiting for us. He rushed me inside the car, saying that he had to drive me to the District Coordination Offices (DCO) right away to get a permit to leave before it was too late. People from Gaza get permits to cross through Erez back to Gaza there, and people from West Bank get permits to enter Jerusalem and other “Israeli” territory.

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The Latest from Iran (25 March): Expanding the Sanctions

Tehran University academic Seyed Mohammad Marandi presents the regime line against expanded sanctions over Iran's alleged human rights violations

See also Iran Special: The 17 Leading Officials in New EU Sanctions for Human Rights Abuses
The Latest from Iran (24 March): Putting Out the Propaganda

1925 GMT: After a report this week that it had signed a $130 million contract with Tehran for a surveillance system (see separate feature), ZTE Corp, China's second-largest telecommunications equipment maker, said it will "curtail" its business in Iran.

A spokesman said ZTE had decided "some time ago" to "shrink" its business in Iran, although he said the company had not yet decided on the details: "It's still being discussed."

1815 GMT: CyberWatch. The Next Web offers insight into the state of the Internet in Iran, by summarising how many of the top websites are blocked.

About 27% of the Top 100 sites in various categories, as measured by the Internet directory Alexa, are filtered. More than half of the Arts sites cannot be accessed, and 32% of news sites --- including BBC News, The Guardian, Fox News, The Huffington Post, and The New York Post are blocked, although CNN, Reuters, The New York Times, and Bloomberg can still be reached.

Among "Society" sites, 31% are blocked, as are 27% of those concerned with Shopping.

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Palestine Opinion: The Hunger Strike of Hana Shalabi --- "Will Anyone See It?" (Kuttab)

Hana Shalabi has been on hunger strike for over a month. Her condition has been deteriorating so badly that prison officials had to transfer her to a Haifa hospital (though she wasn't admitted to the hospital).

Shalabi is protesting being held in administrative detention. These detentions are quasi-legal action through which Israel incarcerates individuals without charge or proper trial. Israel inherited this undemocratic procedure from the British mandate, which enacted it as part of the 1945 emergency regulations.

International humanitarian law frowns on this procedure and Israel was asked by the international community on numerous occasions to end this practice. Over 300 Palestinians are presently held without charge.

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The Latest from Iran (19 March): Hunger Striker Khazali is Freed on Bail

See also The Latest from Iran (18 March): Relying on India

Mehdi Khazali2120 GMT: Drumbeats of War Watch (Backlash Edition). So is this the reason for the counter-spin by US officials against an Israeli attack on Iran (see 1325 GMT)? Is it part of the counter-spin? Or both?

From The New York Times:

A classified war simulation exercise held this month to assess the American military’s capabilities to respond to an Israeli attack on Iran forecast that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.

The officials said the so-called war game was not designed as a rehearsal for American military action — and they emphasized that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict. But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policymakers over the consequences of any possible Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those within the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.

The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, according to officials who either participated in the Central Command exercise or who were briefed on the results and spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature. When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first-strike would likely have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.

The two-week war game, called “Internal Look,” played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by launching its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years. However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program — if President Obama were to decide on a full-scale retaliation.

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Iran Feature: Pushing Back with "Intelligence" Against the Drumbeats of War (Risen)

James Risen, the intelligence correspondent of The New York Times, posts an interesting intervention in the spin and counter-spin over "war" and Iran's nuclear programme.

Risen's colleagues David Sanger and William Broad have been fed by other US officials in the White House, the Pentagon, and the CIA to push the spectre of Iran threat. Risen's contacts in the intelligence community, however, do not believe that the information --- as opposed to the spinning of that information --- point to an imminent Iranian Bomb. 

With the brake on military action applied by President Obama last week and the likely resumption of nuclear talks with Tehran, Risen gets the space in The Times to present that line muting the drumbeats of war. Note that --- as in the pieces pushing the Iranian spectre --- the actual information given is sparse; the significance here is the presentation of that supposed material:

U.S. Faces a Tricky Task in Assessment of Data on Iran
James Risen

While American spy agencies have believed that the Iranians halted efforts to build a nuclear bomb back in 2003, the difficulty in assessing the government’s ambitions was evident two years ago, when what appeared to be alarming new intelligence emerged, according to current and former United States officials.<

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Turkey Live Coverage (12 March): A Week for the Kurdish Issue?

2100 GMT: Hayrettin Ayoglu, a 75-year old Turkish citizen was killed by Syrian border soldiers' fire while himself and the driver were approaching to cross the border. The driver didn't stop and drove to Kilis province of Turkey. Ayoglu was not saved in Kilis Hospital. It is also reported that another car was targeted by Syrian soldiers in the evening but no one was hurt.

2030 GMT: George Sabra, a spokesman for the opposition Syrian National Council, told a news conference in Istanbul said that they had already decided to arm the Free Syrian Army and added that some foreign governments were helping to send weapons.

However, despite of these, Sabra called on Arab and Western governments to intervene militarily and to protect civilians through imposing a no-fly zone across all of Syria and establishing secured humanitarian corridors. Sabra continued:

The Syrian National Council has taken concrete and practical decisions to arm Free Syrian Army that is established to protect the civilians. And we invite all colonels and other military officials in the Syrian army to take sides with the people of Syria.

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Israeli Jets Kill 14 in Gaza; Rockets Fired into Southern Israel (Brulliard/Abdulkarim)

An explosion in Gaza today from an Israeli airstrike

An escalation of cross-border violence continued for the second day on Saturday, as the death toll from Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip rose to 14 militants and militant factions fired dozens more rockets into southern Israel.

Two militant groups in Gaza said those killed in at least 10 airstrikes from Friday to Saturday were their fighters, among them a top commander. Witnesses and medics said the latest airstrike, at midday Saturday, killed two militants in the crowded Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis.

Militants vowed revenge after the initial strike that killed a leading commander on Friday, and they claimed responsibility for a subsequent torrent of more than 90 rockets that the Israeli military said were launched from Gaza toward southern Israel.

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