Posts Tagged ‘Hassan Nasrallah’

‘Israeli assassination of Nasrallah would set region ablaze’

May 22, 2009

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent | Haaretz/Israel, May 22, 2009

Israel is planning to assassinate the head of the southern Lebanon-based Shi’ite militia Hezbollah, a development which would “set the region ablaze,” one of the group’s deputies told an Arab language newspaper on Friday.

Nawaf al-Moussawi, who was Hezbollah’s top foreign policy official and who is now running in Lebanon’s upcoming parliamentary elections, accused Israel of plotting to assassinate the Shi’ite group’s leader, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

Al-Moussawi, who is running for a seat representing the south Lebanese town of Tyre, said that Israel’s plan was hatched in concert with Arab governments.

In an interview with the pan-Arab London-based daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, al-Moussawi spoke in detail about the elections. He also told the newspaper that Israel’s planned large-scale military drill is really a simulation of the army’s plan to liquidate Nasrallah.

Al-Moussawi said an Israeli assassination of Nasrallah would “set the region ablaze” and that Hezbollah was preparing for such a scenario.

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Destruction of Gaza and the crimes of Hosni Mubarak

February 4, 2009

Collusion, Complicity and Sheer Insanity

By Rannie Amiri | Counterpunch, Feb 2, 2009

As staggering as the statistics detailing Gaza’s destruction may be, they still do not present a complete picture of the unique travesties and tragedies suffered by individuals, families, neighborhoods and villages during Israel’s savage 22-day assault on the tiny territory. Yet, they bear repeating. From the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (www.pcbs.gov.ps) and various NGOs:

  • 1,334 killed, one-third of them children (more children than ‘militants’ were killed)
  • 5,450 injured, one-third of them children
  • 100,000 displaced, 50,000 made homeless
  • 4,100 residential homes and buildings destroyed, 17,000 damaged (together accounting for 14 percent of all buildings in Gaza)
  • 29 destroyed educational institutions, including the American International School
  • 92 destroyed or damaged mosques
  • 1,500 destroyed shops, factories and other commercial facilities
  • 20 destroyed ambulances
  • 35-60% of agricultural land ruined
  • $1.9 billion in total estimated damages

In the face of such massive devastation and hardship—and this after the crippling 18-month siege had already reduced Gazato a state of bare subsistence—the behavior and actions of the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak remain as contemptible after the war as they were before.

On Dec. 25, just two days prior to the onset of the vicious aerial bombardment of Gaza, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Mubarak in Cairo. It is understood that Egypt gave the green light for the attack in the hope that the ruling (and democratically-elected) Islamist group Hamas would be toppled and the more pliant Fatah faction, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, would supplant it.

Rafah crossing sealed

The reasons for Mubarak’s animus toward Hamas, and by extension, for his reprehensible decision to keep the vital Rafah border crossing with Gaza closed to humanitarian supplies was explained earlier.

Apologists for the dictator will say the 2005 agreement between Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the European Union (EU) that regulates movement across the border prohibits it from being opened in the absence of PA and EU observers.

It makes no mention, however, of barring critical humanitarian goods from reaching the territory, where conditions were becoming ever more desperate. Additionally, Egypt was a non-signatory to the treaty, which had already expired after one year and was never renewed.

If keeping the Rafah crossing—the only gateway to non-Israeli territory from Gaza—closed before and during the war was not a criminal act, doing so in its aftermath must surely be.

Preventing Gaza’s children from obtaining medical care

Reporting for The National, Jonathan Cook details four cases of children in Gaza who required urgent, life-saving surgery in France, but were denied entry into Egypt via Rafah. As the aunt of the one of the war’s child casualties remarked, “Each morning we arrived at the crossing and the Egyptian soldiers cursed us and told us to go away.”

Doctors accompanying the children were allowed to pass into Egypt, but the ambulances carrying them were not. Their exclusion was attributed to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah who did not authorize their exit, stating there was “no more reason to refer any more children for treatment abroad.” Egyptian authorities abided by their ruling, not wanting to create diplomatic trouble.

But that is no excuse.

First, Hamas, democratically elected to power in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, is the legitimate governing authority. Second, the term of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the PA expired on Jan. 9. Finally, emergency medical situations always take precedent over (alleged) bureaucratic considerations. Those in control of the Rafah crossing must be held directly responsible.

Feeding Israeli soldiers, not Gaza’s people

In light of catastrophic circumstances due to lack of basic foodstuffs (75 percent of Gaza’s children are thought to be malnourished and 30 percent are stunted in growth), a recent report by the popular Egyptian weekly Al-Osboa was all the more shocking. It revealed that an Egyptian company was allowed to provide Israel Defense Force soldiers with food during the war while Gazans were starving.

Iranian Red Crescent ship kept offshore

An Iranian ship sent by the country’s Red Crescent Society carrying 2,000 tons of medical supplies and other humanitarian aid for Gaza continues to be anchored 15 miles off Gaza’s shore. It had already been intercepted and prevented by the Israeli navy from reaching Gaza. Now, it awaits permission to dock in the Egyptian port of Al-Areesh to unload its cargo. To date, permission has not been grated.

In light of the above, blistering criticism of the Egyptian regime’s behavior has come from Hezbollah leader Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah:

“[Egypt] told the Arab and Islamic world that the Rafah border was opened and it was not … The opening of the Rafah crossing is crucial to the Palestinian people, the Resistance and the living conditions there … its closure is one of the biggest crimes in history.”

The reply from the Egyptian government was all too predictable:

“Hassan Nasrallah’s criticism of Egypt confirms once more that he is nothing more than an agent of the Iranian regime and takes his orders from Tehran.”

Irrespective of whether Nasrallah takes orders from Tehran or Tokyo, there were no substantive answers to his accusations. Instead, Egypt reverted to parroting tired anti-Iranian rhetoric which increasingly is falling on deaf ears.

Abetting the siege of Gaza, giving sanction to the Israeli onslaught and its crimes against humanity, and afterward, preventing aid from getting into the territory and the injured from getting out, are all egregious offenses.

Just as many call for Olmert, Barak, Livni and the generals and soldiers who participated in this war to be prosecuted for violating international law and committing war crimes, Mubarak’s own complicity makes him equally liable in facing similar charges.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on the Middle East. He may be reached at: rbamiri at yahoo dot com.

In the Arab Press, Multiple Targets For Scorn

December 30, 2008

The Lede, The New York Times, December 29, 2008

A review of Arabic and English-language Web sites from the Arab world on Monday shows that gory images of destruction from the air attacks in Gaza are dominating news reports, as you would expect. The term being used nearly universally by Arab media outlets to describe the Gaza attacks is “massacre,” according to Marc Lynch, a blogger and media analyst who writes Abu Aardvark.

But there is much more to the Arab media’s reaction to the news from Gaza than just the reflexive denunciations of Israel for mounting the attacks.

Considerable attention is being paid to comments by Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah. In a speech Sunday night, Mr. Nasrallah condemned Israel’s attack on Gaza in the harshest terms, but then pointed his finger at the governments of Egypt, Jordan and other Arab regimes that he said were conspiring with Israel against residents of Gaza.

“There is true and full collaboration between certain Arab regimes, especially those who have already signed peace deals with Israel, to crush any form of resistance,” he told thousands of Hezbollah supporters in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Mr. Nasrallah’s comments were the main story on the Arabic-language Web site of the satellite television channel Al Arabiya and the London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, among others, early on Monday afternoon. (Al Arabiya’s English-language Web site also featured the comments, but gave them less prominence in English than in Arabic.)

The comments fed into Hezbollah’s ongoing narrative that it is the truest friend of the Palestinian cause, not the American-aligned governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, who have shown themselves once again to be unable to stop Israeli aggression.

Throughout the Arab world, in fact, the Gaza attacks are being received as a gift-wrapped package by opponents of the American-allied regimes, regardless of where the opponents fall on the political spectrum, said Steven Cook, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Al Dostor, one of the most outspoken opposition newspapers in Egypt, ran on its home page a photo-montage, with images of the bloodshed in Gaza placed on top of a picture taken in Cairo last week of the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Abu Gheit, and his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni. The central photo, which shows the two diplomats hand in hand, apparently was chosen to convey the idea that Israeli the attacks on Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that controls Gaza, were mounted with at least tacit Egyptian support, a charge the Egyptian regime has denied.

By contrast, the official state-run Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram, after calling for an end to “the Israeli killing machine,” concentrated on reporting that the Egyptian government had allowed 17 aid trucks to pass through the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.

The official Jordanian press took a similar approach of looking for hopeful developments. Al Rai, for example, reported that in Cairo, Mr. Abul Gheit and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, met to discuss a plan for a Palestinian-Israeli cease-fire followed by an agreement for calm.

There is no love lost on Hamas in many Arab capitals, in large part because it is an ally of other Islamic opposition movements in the region, like the Muslim Brotherhood, that threaten the ruling regimes. But because the general Arab public is solidly behind the Palestinian cause, criticism of Hamas during a time of crisis is being kept to a minimum, even in state-run newspapers, according to Nathan Brown, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

While Hamas remains locked in a frequently bloody rivalry with Fatah, Mr. Abbas’s political party, which governs the West Bank, the Gaza air attacks have been treated as a time for solidarity in the Palestinian press. Al-Ayaam, the main Palestinian newspaper in Ramallah, devoted its coverage to details of the chaos in Gaza and news about a population in shock and crisis, rather than political recriminations.

Even so, though, there were signs of mounting frustration with Hamas among some Arab commentators — along with a sense of despair that after the dust settles, Israel and Palestine will be no closer to solving the region’s woes. Hassan Haidar, on the English-language Web site of Al-Hayat, wrote that while Israel had been looking for a pretext to attack Gaza, “Hamas’s decision to suspend the truce was offered to Israel on a silver plate, with the movement falling in the Israeli trap.”

And in the Daily Star, a Beirut-based English-language publication that includes a wider range of opinions than is usually seen in the Arab press, editorials blasted Israel’s “wanton disregard for innocent life,” but also said that the strife between Fatah and Hamas, once again, had been shown not to be in the interest of Palestinians.

It is no secret that the period of Hamas’ rule in Gaza since 2007 has been one of little or no accomplishment and of supremely unimaginative leadership. The Islamist movement has provided its enemy with a pretext to bring ruin on the very people whose rights a resistance group is supposed to defend. It is not just the rival Fatah faction that recognizes this: Even some long-time supporters of Hamas’ tougher line have now retreated to a more pragmatic middle ground from which the obvious conclusion is that flipping makeshift rockets at a regional superpower will never liberate occupied land, only expose the dispossessed to further hardship.

After saying that Israel seemed “poised to embark on a course of even greater folly,” the Star editorial continued:

The Israelis have been down this road before, and it has never worked. Sure, churning up Gaza and scattering Hamas’s forces would be easier than the failed attempt to accomplish something similar against Hizbollah here in Lebanon in 2006. It might even help some members of the Israeli military to regain a measure of the confidence lost in places like Aita al-Shaab and Maroun al-Ras. But once the Israelis have had their way with Gaza, what then? Will the citizens of Israel be any closer to being accepted by their neighbors? Will those Palestinians and other Arabs willing to negotiate a peace — not a surrender — have any more credibility with their respective publics?


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