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Cluster bombs

Middle East and North Africa: US Cuts Cluster Bomb Supply

US Export Ban Should Spur Countries to Sign Treaty Banning the Weapon

(New York) – A new US law permanently banning nearly all cluster bomb exports by the United States will end a long period of transfers of the weapon to Israel and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Human Rights Watch said today. The measure should spur the countries in the region as well as the US to join the international treaty prohibiting cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch said.

The US export ban was included in an omnibus budget bill (HR 1105) that President Barack Obama signed into law on March 11, 2009. Under the law, the US can only export cluster munitions that leave behind less than 1 percent of their submunitions as duds. These duds act like landmines on the ground, exploding when touched by unwitting civilians. The legislation also requires the receiving country to agree that cluster munitions “will not be used where civilians are known to be present.” Only a tiny fraction of the cluster munitions in the US arsenal meet the 1-percent standard.

“US-supplied cluster munitions have caused great harm to civilians in Lebanon, Iraq, Western Sahara and elsewhere in the region,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “These countries should consider the export ban a first step toward ridding the region of this unreliable and inaccurate weapon that claims civilian lives and limbs for years following its use.”

The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions, and provides strict deadlines for clearance of affected areas and destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions. A total of 95 countries have signed the convention, including Lebanon and Tunisia from the Middle East and North Africa.

The United States has transferred cluster munitions to at least eight countries in the region, including Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Israel has been a major recipient of US cluster munitions and used the weapons extensively in its 2006 armed conflict in Lebanon (http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2008/02/16/flooding-south-lebanon ).

The US export ban was first enacted in a budget bill in December 2007, but that law mandated it for only one year.

“The permanent US export ban will prevent the potential transfer of millions of cluster submunitions to Israel and other states in the region,” said Whitson. “But unless governments in the region join the international treaty banning the use as well as transfer of cluster munitions, the threat will remain.”

In December 2008, the Obama transition team said that the president-elect would “carefully review” the new treaty and “work closely [with] our friends and allies to ensure that the United States is doing everything feasible to promote protection of civilians.”

US policy on cluster munitions was last articulated in a three-page policy directive issued by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in July 2008. The directive described cluster munitions as “legitimate weapons with clear military utility” and said that the US will continue to use cluster munitions and, after 2018, will use only munitions with a tested failure rate of less than 1 percent.

Human Rights Watch co-chairs the Cluster Munition Coalition, which it helped found in November 2003. Human Rights Watch and others stepped up pressure for an international treaty to deal with cluster munitions after Israel’s massive use of these weapons in southern Lebanon in July and August 2006. These weapons left large swaths of Lebanon contaminated by the deadly, unexploded submunitions.

Cluster munitions can be fired by artillery and rocket systems or dropped by aircraft, and typically explode in the air and send dozens, even hundreds, of tiny submunitions or bomblets over an area the size of a football field. Cluster munitions cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians, so their humanitarian impact can be extreme when they are used in or near populated areas. Cluster submunitions often fail to explode on initial impact, leaving the duds that act like landmines and pose danger to civilians.

This is what zionist failure and defeat look like: part of Reuters headline: Israel’s toilet-paper rules for Gaza

If this is what zionist “victory” and “achievements” look like, I don’t know what their defeat would look like…. Read on to get a sense of how close the liquidation of the terrorist neo-nazi state of ‘israel’ is to becoming a reality.

U.S. queries Israel’s toilet-paper rules for Gaza

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The United States is protesting to Israel over seemingly random restrictions on deliveries to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip of harmless goods such as soap and toilet paper, diplomats said Wednesday.

Diplomats fear day-to-day crisis management on Gaza was diverting the United States and other Western governments from bigger issues like the goal of restarting peace negotiations for a Palestinian state.

In one case, Israel blocked for weeks a World Food Program (WFP) shipment of chickpeas, used to make the Palestinian food staple hummus, the U.N. food agency said.

“We’re certainly asking the Israelis questions about this,” a U.S. official said of the restrictions on what is allowed into Gaza.

A Western official said: “The Americans and international NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are raising their concerns… We’re protesting.”

Israel says it has opened Gaza’s border crossings to larger amounts of food and medicine since a January military offensive that killed about 1,300 Palestinians, destroyed 5,000 homes and left large swathes of the coastal enclave in ruins.

But U.S. and Western officials complain the limited list of humanitarian goods that Israel allows into Gaza changes almost daily, creating major logistical problems for aid groups and donor governments which are unable to plan ahead.

Protests have been made to Israel via diplomatic channels, and have increased since last week’s visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. and Western officials said.

“It is totally surreal,” one European diplomat said of Israeli decision-making. “One day we had 600 kg (1,300 pounds) of pasta at the Kerem Shalom crossing but they said, ‘Today, pasta can’t go in’.”

Another Western diplomat said: “It’s ever-changing. One week jam is okay and the next week it’s not.”

In addition to soap and toilet paper, the officials cited restrictions that come and go on imports of certain types of cheeses, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Israeli defense official Peter Lerner said in response: “I’m not aware of any problems with toilet paper, toothpaste, dairy products … and other food stuffs. Basic necessities are being met and are going in on a daily basis.”

TRANSITIONAL STALL?

Diplomats said the current political transition in Israel was part of the problem, with many decisions on access to Gaza and demolitions in Arab East Jerusalem of Palestinian homes being taken by relatively low level bureaucrats that are slow to change and hard to influence.

The Jewish state held a parliamentary election on Feb 10 but rightist prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is still in the process of forming a coalition government.

In addition to pushing for expanded humanitarian access to Gaza, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has protested the East Jerusalem demolition plans.

The European Union have also protested to Israel about access to Gaza and its actions in Jerusalem.

In a letter of response, obtained by Reuters, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel was cooperating with international organizations and would keep Gaza’s border crossings open to humanitarian assistance “for exclusively civilian needs.”

Israel has long banned military equipment and most commercial goods from entering Gaza, and those restrictions may hinder a multibillion-dollar reconstruction plan backed by Western and Arab governments.

Chas Freeman on the zionist lobby

“The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic. I am my own man, no one else’s, and with my return to private life, I will once again – to my pleasure – serve no master other than myself. I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.”

At last, a courageous American: Chas Freeman slams parasitical zionazi control of the U.S.

Except that only those who have resigned their posts or withdrawn their candidacy are ever allowed or dare to speak the truth about the zionazi tentacles that stretch deep into every aspect of American foreign (and domestic) policy-making. But, at least there are still a few independent and brave minds left in america that dare speak out against zionazi agitation, agitation being one of the many tactics utilized by the zionazis in their quest to maintain their domination of the U.S and the whole world.

U.S. official slams Israel ‘lobby’ after withdrawing from post

Ha’aretz

Charles (Chas) Freeman, who was slated to be picked as the new chairman of the National Intelligence Council, slammed the Israel ‘Lobby’ Wednesday after withdrawing his candidacy for the post the previous day.

“I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government,” Freeman said in a statement to Foreign Policy.

Freeman’s withdrawal was announced in Washington by Dennis Blair, the director of National Intelligence. Since news of Freeman’s nomination, Jewish organizations have leveled criticism at the pick due to his history of opposition to Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories.

He added that, “The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues.”

Some lawmakers protested about remarks he made in the past on Israeli “oppression” of Palestinians, and about China.

Freeman’s withdrawal came just hours after Blair defended him in Congress as a man of “strong views, of an inventive mind and the analytical point of view.”

“I think I can do a better job if I’m getting strong analytical viewpoints to sort out and pass on to you and to the president than if I am getting pre-cooked pablum judgments that don’t really challenge,” Blair told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier on Tuesday.

The intelligence council that Freeman had been picked to head prepares the formal assessments by U.S. intelligence agencies of major issues such as Iran’s nuclear capability.

The council also produced a controversial, and inaccurate, prewar assessment in 2002 that Iraq was continuing its weapons of mass destruction programs. Former President George W. Bush’s main justification for the U.S.-led war he launched in 2003 was the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The National Intelligence Council position does not require Senate confirmation.

But Freeman’s past remarks on Israel and a comment seen as condoning China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown, have stirred controversy. He is quoted as saying in 2007 that “The brutal oppression of the Palestinians by Israeli occupation shows no sign of ending,” and “American identification with Israel has become total.”

Freeman’s professional ties had also come under scrutiny from critics. He had served on the board of the China National Offshore Oil Co. and as president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank funded at least in part by Saudi Arabia.

Freeman is a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assistant secretary of defense for international security. He was also a senior U.S. diplomat in China in the 1980s.