UN urged to act over Gaza hostilities

Medics say at least 18 Palestinians killed and many more injured by ongoing Israeli air raids on the territory.
Smoke rises from an explosion following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, 10 March 2012.

The Palestinians and Israelis have made rival calls for the UN Security Council to act as Israel hit back against rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip with deadly air strikes that left at least 18 people killed, according to medics in Gaza.

Tensions have mounted as the international Quartet on the Middle East – the US, Russia, EU and UN – holds its first top-level meeting in six months on Monday.

The deadlock in the Israel-Palestinian peace process will be discussed at the UN headquarters by the US secretary of state, Russia’s foreign Minister and the UN secretary-seneral. Catherine Ashton, EU foreign affairs chief, was expected to take part via videoconference.

Hostilities appeared to have eased, at least temporarily, on Monday morning, Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reported from Gaza City.

“We had a lull in the firing, outward bound from Gaza, yesterday afternoon, after a real flurry at about lunchtime, coinciding most likely with the funerals of those … people who were killed in the early hours of Sunday morning,” he said.

The Palestinian UN mission said a 12-year-old boy was among 18 people killed in Israeli air attacks since Friday. It accused Israel of committing “crimes of aggression against the Palestinian people”.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said the Security Council must “act with urgency to address this crisis” accusing Israel of staging an “escalation of deadly violence and terror”.

He said women and children were among “dozens” of wounded and the dead also included a farmer killed while working in his field.

Mansour said that if Israel was not held accountable “this will only ensure the bolstering of its impunity and the further escalation of its crimes against the Palestinian people with far-reaching consequences for the future of our people and the prospects for peace and stability to ever be realised”.

In return, Israel criticised the international community’s “silence” over rocket attacks from Gaza, and said in a letter to the Security Council that it would take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians against the renewed barrage.

“For the sake of security and stability in our region, the Security Council and all responsible members of the international community must immediately and unequivocally condemn and do everything in their power to stop the rocket fire that continues to rain down on Israeli civilians,” Haim Waxman, Israel’s deputy UN ambassador, said in the letter.

He said more than 150 rockets had been fired in the previous 48 hours.

Israel “will take all necessary measures to protect its citizens”, Waxman said.

Al Jazeera and agencies

Army Sergeant Accused of Slaying 16 in Afghan Villages

Residents sat with the bodies of shooting victims in the Panjwai district of southern Afghanistan.Mustafa Khan/European Pressphoto AgencyResidents sat with the bodies of shooting victims in the Panjwai district of southern Afghanistan.

A United States service member methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in southern Afghanistan early Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, officials said. From the Times report by Taimoor Shah and Graham Bowley:

Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. At the first, the man gathered 11 bodies, including those of four girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said.

Read the full post.

US soldier opens fire on Afghan civilians

A US soldier has killed more than a dozen civilians in a shooting spree in southern Afghanistan before being detained, officials say.

A member of the Kandahar provincial council who visited the site of the shooting in Panjwai district told Al Jazeera that at least 17 civilians were killed when the soldier left his base early on Sunday morning and opened fire.

Captain Justin Brockhoff, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) could not confirm any fatalities in the incident.

“This is a horrific incident, and our thoughts are with the families of the affected. Our initial reports indicate multiple civilians – between four and six- are wounded. Those civilians are receiving care at coalition medical facilities,” he told Al Jazeera.

“At this point we do not have an indication – we can not speculate about the individual’s motives.”

Sediq Seddiqi, the spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, told Al Jazeera the incident was under investigation. He could not confirm any reports of casualties.

FBI wouldn’t exclude extrajudicial killings in the US

United States Attorney General Eric Holder recently explained how the president can order the assassination of his own citizens abroad. But did his rationalization justify executions within the US? Apparently, the FBI wouldn’t exclude it.
Responding to a congressional inquiry this week on the rationale of assassinating Americans, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller affirmed that he himself isn’t too clear on the what Holder explained.
The attorney general addressed an audience at Northwestern University in Chicago this week with an explanation for US President Barack Obama’s killing of three American citizens overseas last year. Alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki and two other US-born citizens were executed in a drone strike last year in Yemen, a kill that the White House has been reluctant to discuss in detail until just recently. Speaking from Northwestern this week, Holder insisted, however, that the details the president acted on were “sufficient under the Constitution for the United States to use lethal force against a US citizen abroad.”
Following up on Wednesday, US Congressman Tom Graves, a Republican from Georgia, asked the FBI’s Mueller if Holder’s qualifications for an ordered kill could be applied domestically.
“I have to go back. Uh, I’m not certain whether that was addressed or not,” responded an unsure Mueller.
Rep. Graves from there rephrased his inquiry, asking if, “from a historical perspective,” the federal government has “the ability to kill a US citizen on United States soil or just overseas.” Mueller once again suspended an explanation.
“I’m going to defer that to others in the Department of Justice,” responded the director.
When prompted by Fox News to extrapolate on Mueller’s deferral, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department defaulted to Holder’s earlier address, simply repeating the attorney general’s insistence that US citizens outside of the US are fair-game for an Executive Branch-ordered assassination. Under Holder’s explanation offered at Northwestern, however, it could be inferred that even those on American soil aren’t excluded. Congress wants to know if that is the case and with the feds unsure themselves, it might mean President Obama himself has to put in his two cents so Americans know if they are eligible for one of his personalized assassination orders too.

Mossad, CIA and Blackwater operate in Syria

A security operation in Homs reveals Mossad, CIA and Blackwater are involved in the military violence in this part of Syria, as over 700 Arab and Western gunmen and Israeli, American and European-made weapons were detained in Baba Amr district.
Syrian security forces got yet further proof of Western powers’ military involvement in Syria’s internal conflict, reports Al-Manar, a news agency, affiliated with Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group and political party.
Around 700 gunmen were recently arrested in the former rebel stronghold of Babar Amr.
“The captured gunmen held Arab nationalities, including Gulf, Iraqi, and Lebanese. Among them were also Qatari intelligence agents and non-Arab fighters from Afghanistan, Turkey, and some European countries like France,” the agency quotes Syrian expert in strategic affairs Salim Harba as saying.
Harba also confirmed to the agency that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf – specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia – intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”
The Syrian expert also added the security forces have also seized Israeli-, European- and American-made weapons.

Death toll climbs in Israel strikes on Gaza

At least 11 Palestinians have been killed and a dozen others wounded, including children, in a series of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, medical sources have said.

The latest airstrike late on Friday struck down three Palestinians after an apache fired rockets that hit a house and a car, medics told Al Jazeera.

An earlier strike targeted the leader of Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair Al-Qaissi, and his military escort Mahmoud Al-Hannani, a Palestinian prisoner released from Israeli jails five years ago.

Witnesses said Israeli drones were seen hovering above just moments before al-Qaissi’s vehicle burst into flames. The intensity of the blast was so fierce that al-Qaissi’s head detached as a result, they said.

Islamic Jihad said that the three of those killed belonged to its military wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, looking to end Israel’s occupation of annexed Palestinian lands.

The Al Quds Brigades, part of Islamic Jihad group, said that strikes on the east side of the city had killed its members Obeid al-Gharabli, Mohammed Harara, Hazem Qoureqa and Shadi Seqali. It said that another two of its members, Fayeq Saad and Moatasem Hajaj, were also killed in other strikes.

In addition to the high profile strike, Israeli war jets carried out series of attacks at empty military training camps all over Gaza Strip.

The Israeli attacks came after Palestinians fired dozens of rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel, wounding four people, one seriously, Israeli military sources claimed.

Holder: U.S. Government May Kill American Citizens Without Trial

Published: March 5, 201

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asserted on Monday that it is lawful for the government to kill American citizens if officials deem them to be operational leaders of Al Qaeda who are planning attacks on the United States and if capturing them alive is not feasible.

“Given the nature of how terrorists act and where they tend to hide, it may not always be feasible to capture a United States citizen terrorist who presents an imminent threat of violent attack,” Mr. Holder said in a speech at Northwestern University’s law school. “In that case, our government has the clear authority to defend the United States with lethal force.”

While Mr. Holder is not the first administration official to address the targeted killing of citizens — the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, did so last month at Yale Law School, for example — it was notable for the nation’s top law enforcement official to declare that it is constitutional for the government to kill citizens without any judicial review under certain circumstances. Mr. Holder’s remarks about the targeted killing of United States citizens were a centerpiece of a speech describing legal principles behind the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies.

“Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces,” Mr. Holder said. “This is simply not accurate. ‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

Oakland Police More Worried About 50 Protestors Than Murder Call

We know this may just sound like the Chron hating on Occupy again, but police dispatch tapes from Berkeley on February 18 — the evening that 67-year-old Peter Cukor was (allegedly) bludgeoned to death outside his home by unmedicated schizophrenic Daniel DeWitt — reveal that officers in the vicinity were aware of the non-emergency call Cukor placed, and were instructed not to respond because an Occupy Oakland march was headed to the UC Berkeley campus.

A few minutes before the fatal attack, Berkeley police officer Jerome Cobert noticed the report of the intruder at Cukor’s address on his police-cruiser computer, but he was told by a dispatcher not to respond to anything that was not a life-threatening emergency or a felony in progress, because the protest was on the move.

Perhaps this was also Cukor’s error for calling the non-emergency line and not just calling 911 to begin with, but just a few minutes after Cobert was instructed not to respond, Cukor’s wife called 911, at about 9 p.m., to report that DeWitt was now attacking her husband. At 9:04 p.m. she reports having locked herself in her home, and says she can see her husband’s body lying in the driveway. At 9:08 p.m. an officer arrived and found Cukor, who had been bludgeoned with a flower pot, and only had a faint pulse. He died later in the hospital. Dewitt was arrested near the scene.

The Occupy protest that the Berkeley police were worried about only numbered 50 people.


Hypnotized into an endless dirty war

America has decided it has the right to kill whoever it wants, whenever it wants.


If in the year 2000 the U.S. president had told the American people that the government would soon begin using robot planes to track people, including U.S. citizens, all over the world, and would reserve to itself the right to kill them without trial, it is safe to say there would have been an enormous uproar. But that is exactly what is happening today, and nobody cares. The majority of Americans, including those who were opposed to the war in Iraq, have no problems with their government killing at will, so long as the killing is done in the name of “national security.”

How did this happen? In retrospect, the war in Afghanistan was the prime culprit. That endless, Sisyphean war was the thin end of the wedge. In that murky, shifting struggle, it was normal for the U.S. to arrogate to itself the right to kill the Taliban wherever they were in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Once that precedent was established, it was an small step to killing bad guys in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. And so, by imperceptible steps we arrived at the place we are now, where 77 percent of liberals support President Obama’s vastly expanded killer drone campaign, where an American citizen can be remotely vaporized at the touch of a button and no one cares. The war on Afghanistan set the precedent that shaped the entire “war on terror” paradigm. The chimera of “safety from terrorism” led us by easy stages to begin waging dirty war across the globe — changing the definition of war, eroding moral and legal standards and greatly increasing the likelihood of ugly future consequences.

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Yemen: Security Forces Kill 4 Protesters

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: January 13, 2012

Security forces opened fired with bullets and tear gas on protesters in the southern city of Aden on Friday, killing at least four people, a medic and a witness said. The protesters were demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has agreed to step down, be tried for killing protesters. The witness said some armed men in the demonstration returned fire. A security official said three of the forces were wounded, including an officer.