LCCC ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Bible Quotation for today/Law or Faith
Galatians 03/01-14/"You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross! Tell me this one thing: did you receive God's Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it? How can you be so foolish! You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power? Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something! Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it? Consider the experience of Abraham; as the scripture says, “He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.” You should realize, then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith. The scripture predicted that God would put the Gentiles right with himself through faith. And so the scripture announced the Good News to Abraham: “Through you God will bless all people.” Abraham believed and was blessed; so all who believe are blessed as he was. Those who depend on obeying the Law live under a curse. For the scripture says, “Whoever does not always obey everything that is written in the book of the Law is under God's curse!” Now, it is clear that no one is put right with God by means of the Law, because the scripture says, “Only the person who is put right with God through faith shall live.” But the Law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, as the scripture says, “Whoever does everything the Law requires will live.” But by becoming a curse for us Christ has redeemed us from the curse that the Law brings; for the scripture says, “Anyone who is hanged on a tree is under God's curse.” Christ did this in order that the blessing which God promised to Abraham might be given to the Gentiles by means of Christ Jesus, so that through faith we might receive the Spirit promised by God.
Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources published on August 02/14
What Happens When the Fighting Stops/By: Bakir Oweida/Asharq Alawsat/August 02/14
Fuad Masoum, A Man of Calm Strength/By:
Amir Taheri /Asharq Alawsat/August
Iran tries to sweep its domestic crackdown under the Persian rug/By: Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya/ August 02/14
Israel and Hamas break each other’s bones, but who will cry first/By: Abdel Monem Said/AlArabiya/August 02/14
Lebanese Related News published on August 02/14
Saniora Meets al-Rahi: No Issues Take Precedence over Electing President
Qahwaji on Army Day: Coexistence, National Unity Distinguished the Military
Traditional Army Day Ceremony Canceled Due to Presidential Vacuum
Syrian Refugee Women Tell Stories about Sexual Exploitation in Lebanon
Syrian Warplanes Stage Raid on Arsal, Several Wounded
Suspect behind Firing Rockets against Israel Released
Lebanon supplies DNA samples in Air Algerie case
Hariri hails King Abdullah's 'historic speech'
Lebanon supplies DNA samples in Air Algerie case
Kahwagi: Salvation of Lebanon on Army shoulders
Lebanon on full alert over Ebola risk
Qabbani Refuses to Budge an Inch, Rejects Election of Sheikh Daryan as his Successor
Fugitive Fadel Shaker to release new song
Three explosive belts confiscated in north Lebanon
Jumblatt: Christians, Druze facing extinction
Rocket fire suspect set for release
Housing institute receives cash from treasury
Lebanon’s Blom Bank says net profit climbs
Pro Axis Of Evil, Alsafir: Vatican Says Lebanon's Maronites 'Lost their Minds' over Pursuit of Power
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 02/14
Two soldiers killed in Hamas attack in which officer
feared captured. Gaza 72-hour truce folds
US seeks Qatari, Turkish help to free reportedly abducted IDF soldier
Netanyahu: Hamas Will 'Bear the Consequences' for
Breaking Ceasefire, Hamas Abducts Soldier, Kills Two Others
Israeli soldier feared kidnapped as IDF names 2 others killed
Weakened, but not down for the count: Hamas may resurface stronger than before
Netanyahu reprimands cabinet ministers for politicking during war
Ban demands immediate release of captured Israeli soldier
Fighting in Gaza continues as truce collapses
Gaza cease-fire crumbles as US blames Hamas
IDF chief Gantz briefs Rivlin on Gaza operation
5 soldiers killed on the Gaza border
Violence mars protest in West Bank city of Tulkarem
Truce crumbles as 40 killed in Gaza, rockets hit Israel
Kerry seeks Qatari, Turkish help to find Israeli soldier
Saudi King labels Israeli offensive against Gaza “war crime”
Elite Iranian force enters Iraq via Kurdistan: official
Egypt’s Salafist Nour party says “no” to electoral alliances
Putin and Obama agree standoff not in their interest: Kremlin
Three explosive belts confiscated in
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Security forces Friday detained the wife of a terror suspect after confiscating three explosive belts from their house in north Lebanon, a security source told The Daily Star. Interrogation with the suspect, identified by his last name Awad and held on terror charges, prompted security forces to raid his home in the village of Ayrouneye. There they discovered the explosive belts stashed in a closet, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. Security personnel also apprehended his wife, Nabila Awad. Media reports had originally reported that the woman was arrested wearing an explosive belt.
Lebanon supplies DNA samples in Air
Agence France Presse
BEIRUT: Lebanon has handed over DNA samples from relatives of 20 citizens killed in a July 24 Air Algerie plane crash in Mali, a foreign ministry source told AFP on Friday. France is leading the investigation into the crash in which 118 people were killed when their plane went down in a remote area on the southern edge of the Sahara. The Lebanese foreign ministry source said pathologist Fouad Ayub had taken DNA samples from the relatives of the Lebanese believed to have died in the crash to France, after visiting Mali with a Lebanese delegation following up on the crash. The delegation arrived in Mali on Sunday, with Ayub then going on to France with the samples, the source said. Efforts to recover and identify those killed are proving tough, with French experts at the scene saying they had yet to find "intact bodies". The wait is agonising for Lebanese relatives, including 23-year-old Fatima Basma, whose sister Randa and her three children were killed. "A great disaster has happened to us. They (Lebanese officials) have told us that the French are looking for the body parts. I hope that they will find my sister's body so I can bury her," she told AFP. Basma is dressed in black, and at her modest home in Srifa in southern Lebanon verses of the Muslim holy book were being recited as the family waits for news of the investigation. In the southern Lebanese village of Haris, the family of Manji Hassan is still accepting condolences after his death, along with his wife and four children, in the crash.
- Waiting for news -
The loss is all too familiar for the extended family: Manji Hassan's brother-in-law -- his sister's husband Saeed Zahawi -- was among those killed in a 2010 Ethiopian Air crash. Hassan's brother Ahmed, 41, weeps as he describes waiting for news from the investigation. "We hope that the French authorities help find the remains of my brother Manji and his family so we can lay them to rest next to Saeed," he said.
"We want to be able to visit" their graves, he adds. Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil pledged Thursday that the government would do everything possible to ensure the remains of the Lebanese killed in the crash were returned to their families. Flight AH5017, which took off early on the morning of July 24 from Ouagadougou in neighbouring Burkina Faso bound for Algiers, went missing amid reports of heavy storms. Many of the Lebanese on the flight were dual nationals living in Burkina Faso, where many Lebanese live and work. There were also 54 French citizens on the jet, alongside 23 Burkinabe, and nationals of Algeria, Spain, Canada, Germany and Luxembourg. An international team of investigators is backed up by several hundred soldiers -- French, Malians and troops in MINUSMA, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali -- who have secured the site.But investigators have cautioned that the search is proving difficult and the heat is also degrading the crash site.
Kahwagi: Salvation of Lebanon on Army shoulders
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi marked Army Day with a pledge to defend the country from all threats, while blaming the cancellation of the annual celebrations on the presidential vacuum. “Fellow soldiers, in a country that is confronting terrorism and Israeli threats alongside internal and external wars, the military institution stood firm against any attempt aimed at tampering with its coexistence. On Aug. 1, we feel deeply proud that the Army is the symbol of this experience, for the salvation of Lebanon rests solely on its shoulders,” he said in his Order of the Day on the 69th anniversary of the Lebanese Army's creation. Kahwagi pointed out that “the critical circumstances that we are facing with respect to the vacancy in the presidential post made it incumbent upon us to cancel Army Day celebrations.”He said the presidential void also denied graduating officers the chance to receive celebratory swords, since the ceremony could only be organized under the patronage of the president of the Republic. “The first of August is a date engraved in our memory, and we have previously gone through this experience when the war was devastating the country and prevented us from graduating officers,” he said. Despite the lack of ceremony, Kahwagi stressed that “The [Army’s] anniversary will survive,” pledging that the Army “will keep the promise of defending Lebanon against all threatening dangers weather internal or external.” The Army commander recollected the bitter experiences that Lebanon had faced in the past, vowing to keep the “Army as a symbol of national unity, diversity and coexistence which constitute the basic principles of Lebanese civilization.” “The military institution has proven, despite encountered ordeals and repeated attempts at damaging [the country], that coexistence is a deeply engraved truth and conviction,” Kahwagi said, stressing that through its intrinsic structure, "the Army interprets the truth [of coexistence] day after day and endeavors to implement it on the ground." Prime Minister Tammam Salam called Defense Minister Samir Moqbel and Kahwagi, greeting them and praising the Army’s efforts in “safeguarding the nation’s security and stability and enhancing unity among its people.” He also expressed regret that the Army's day was not accompanied by a celebration this year, which took away some of the day’s symbolism. Referring the lack of a ceremony due to the presidential void, Salam called on all political parties to “put the nation’s interest above all considerations and to proceed to elect a president as soon as possible.” In an interview Friday, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea praised Salam’s decision to avoid organizing an Army Day ceremony in light of the presidential void, stressing however that the “Army’s day exists in the heart of each one of us.” Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri saluted the Army’s leadership and members, expressing respect to the martyrs who had fallen performing their duties. Berri hailed “the Army’s handling of both the security and the defense responsibilities at this special political moment.” He stressed that safe-guarding security stability in Lebanon is the key tool to confront Israeli aggression and the “takfiri attacks threatening to divide the region.”Defense Minister Moqbel also greeted the Army in a statement Friday, calling for “preserving its unity” and praising its sacrifices. He described the institution as the “hope of all Lebanese and the bridge of salvation toward civil peace.” The Lebanese Army was created on Aug. 1 when the the Special Troops of the Levant, an armed unit under French Mandate control, was handed over in 1945 to the government of Lebanon after it gained its independence.
Hariri hails King Abdullah's 'historic speech'
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri described Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah’s speech to the Arab world as “historic and very important” Friday, lauding the kingdom's head for warning of the painful reality in the region and urging an international response to Israeli war crimes committed in Gaza. Hariri hailed the speech “because it accurately reflects the painful reality that has ravaged the Arab region - the growing phenomenon of terrorism disguised under the cloak of Islam,” adding that terrorism’s “sole purpose is to tear communities apart, and bring hatred and conflict instead of brotherhood to the sons of the nation.” According to a statement released by Hariri’s press office, the Future head expressed his belief that terrorism, in all its forms, constitutes a threat to international peace and hailed King Abdullah for shedding light on the serious consequences that resulted from Israeli terrorism. Hariri stressed that Israeli crimes represented the pinnacle of terrorism and aggression against Palestinian’s basic human rights, which should not be condoned or justified under any circumstances. "Our historic responsibility urges us to interact positively with the call of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah, and unite Arab efforts to do whatever it takes to confront terrorism and its dangerous repercussions,” he concluded. King Abdullah Friday criticized international inaction over Israel's offensive in Gaza, which he described as involving mass slaughter and "war crimes against humanity," in a speech read out on his behalf on Saudi state television. He also slammed militants who he said were killing innocent people and mutilating their bodies in contravention of Islamic teachings, and called on the region's leaders and religious scholars to prevent Islam from being hijacked by militants.
Traditional Army Day Ceremony Canceled Due to Presidential Vacuum
Naharnet/A ceremony will be held at the Fayadieh Military Academy to mark the 69th anniversary of the Lebanese army's founding instead of the traditional ceremony due to the ongoing presidential vacuum.
The traditional military parade held to mark the Army Day will not be held this year because of the failure of the political arch-foes to agree on a presidential candidate. The central ceremony will also see the graduation of around 280 officers and their promotion to the rank of lieutenant. The head of the military academy is expected to hand over certificates on Friday to the graduating officers until a new head of state is elected. The new president will distribute swords to graduating cadets in a small ceremony soon after his elections. Conventionally the president hands in swords to graduating cadets but the vacuum threatens the holding of the usual ceremony, prompting the cabinet to only grant the officers their certificates in a smaller social occasion. The army command broadcast a televised ad under the slogan “We are Right and the People's Hope” to express its disappointment with this year's Army Day, which falls on August 1. The ad shows officers cleaning their swords but never taking them. “Due to the presidential vacuum, the traditional ceremony was canceled,” the ad says.
Report: Vatican Says Lebanon's Maronites 'Lost their Minds' over Pursuit of Power
Naharnet/The Vatican has expressed its disappointment and anger with Maronites in Lebanon given the ongoing failure to elect a president, saying that they have become embroiled in Sunni-Shiite disputes rather than cater to their own interests, reported As Safir newspaper on Friday. Circles from the Vatican told the daily: “The Maronites' obsession with the pursuit of power has made them lose their minds.”“All Maronite officials in Lebanon are not seeking the interests of their sect,” especially in light of the dangers raging in the region, they added. “The fragmentation of the Maronites and the Christians between the Sunnis and the Shiites will cost them their role in Lebanon and the region,” they warned. Moreover, As Safir reported that Vatican officials “are fed up with the Maronites who are not seeing matters clearly.”“The Maronites still retain control of major positions in Lebanon, such as the presidency and army command, but their spite and obsession with power has made them lose their minds,” they continued. “The Maronites are not assuming their responsibilities and they have turned a deaf ear to advise, forcing the Vatican to refrain from proposing an initiative to end the dispute over the presidency,” explained the circles. “There will be no initiative because the Maronite leaders refuse to listen,” they stressed.
In addition, they said that Lebanon's Christians should help bridge political divides in the country and the region, instead of taking sides.“They should not be dragged into Sunni-Shiite strife and consequently forget themselves and the interests of their people and nation,” they stated.“Such actions by the Maronites harm their role in the region and the Christians in the area as well,” noted the Vatican circles.
“What is the purpose of the Christians if they will only serve the plans of others?” they wondered. “The Vatican's voice has gone hoarse from constantly repeating, since the end of the Lebanese civil war, the role of the Christians in the region,” they remarked. “Why should the Maronites act as slaves of regional projects?” they asked. “They are better off leaving the region if they cannot contribute to facilitating the functioning of state institutions,” they added. The source of the Vatican's frustration is not limited to the failure to elect a new president, but to “the ongoing irresponsible Maronite practices on various levels and their blind bias to agendas that do not serve local ones, said the circles.The solution to deadlock, according to the Vatican, lies in reaching a Christian agreement over a president who enjoys the support of all Lebanese figures.” The president should enjoy strong representation at parliament and be capable of reaching an understanding among Christian and Muslim lawmakers, explained the circles. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. The ongoing dispute between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances over a consensual president has prolonged the vacuum. The Change and Reform bloc of Christian leader MP Michel Aoun, as well as the bloc of Hizbullah, has been boycotting the presidential elections sessions due to the dispute. The MP has repeatedly said that he would be willing to run for the presidency if there is consensus over his nomination. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, a presidential candidate himself, has repeatedly accused Aoun and his bloc of obstructing the elections.
Syrian Warplanes Stage Raid on Arsal, Several Wounded
Naharnet/Syrian warplanes raided on Friday several areas on the outskirts of the eastern border town of Arsal, the state-run National News Agency reported. According to NNA, the jet planes targeted the areas of al-Ajram and al-Zamurani. Ambulances rushed to the scene to transfer those who were wounded to hospitals, the news agency said. Arsal, a predominantly Sunni area, backs the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad. The town lies 12 kilometers from the border with Syria and has been used as a conduit for weapons and rebels to enter Syria, while also serving as a refuge for people fleeing the conflict. The town has seen a massive influx of refugees as a result of the heavy fighting in Qalamoun.
Saniora Meets al-Rahi: No Issues Take Precedence over Electing President
Naharnet/ Saniora lamented on Friday the parliamentary blocs' failure to elect a new president given the boycott some powers are practicing over the elections sessions. He said: “No other issues take precedence over the election of a president.”He made his remarks after holding talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi at Bkirki. “The presidential vacuum is fatal to Lebanon,” he stated, while rejecting attempts to link the elections to regional developments. “No legislative or executive authority in Lebanon is capable of functioning properly due to the vacuum,” noted Saniora after meeting al-Rahi at the head of a delegation. “We should hold the presidential elections as soon as possible,” stressed the former premier to reporters. Moreover, he noted that the vacuum is having negative repercussions on various fields in Lebanon, revealing that the talks with the patriarch tackled efforts to end the obstruction of elections sessions. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended. The ongoing dispute between the rival March 8 and 14 alliances over a consensual president has prolonged the vacuum. The Change and Reform bloc of MP Michel Aoun, as well as the bloc of Hizbullah, has been boycotting the presidential elections sessions due to the dispute. The MP has repeatedly said that he would be willing to run for the presidency if there is consensus over his nomination. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, a presidential candidate himself, has repeatedly accused Aoun and his bloc of obstructing the elections.
Qahwaji on Army Day: Coexistence, National Unity Distinguished the Military
Naharnet/Army chief General Jean Qahwaji stressed on Friday during the marking of the Army Day that the military is the guardian of national unity, diversity and coexistence. “The military institution has proven, despite all the adversity and the continued attempts to assault it, that coexistence is a fact and a conviction,” Qahwaji said in his Order of the Day to mark the 69th anniversary of the Lebanese army's founding. He pointed out that the army is seeking to become a model for the Lebanese in safeguarding the “unique experience” of coexistence. “On August 1, we are proud to be a symbol for this model that is Lebanon's only salvation.”A ceremony was held at the Fayadieh Military Academy to mark the Army Day instead of the traditional ceremony due to the ongoing presidential vacuum. Two hundred and eighty officers, who were promoted to the rank of lieutenant, only received certificates instead of their swords. “The difficult situation that the country is passing through and the presidential vacuum compelled us to cancel the traditional ceremony,” Qahwaji said.
Suspect behind Firing Rockets against Israel Released
Naharnet /A suspect who was arrested on suspicion of firing rockets against Israel was released from custody on Friday, reported the National News Agency.
It said that Sheikh Hussein Atweh was released on Friday, but will be prevented from traveling from Lebanon due to his health condition. He was severely wounded while firing a rocket towards Israel during the incident that took place on July 11. Another suspect, identified as Samir Hussein Abou Qais, who hails from the town of al-Habariya, was also arrested at the time. On July 11, several rockets were fired on northern Israel from the outskirts of the town of Mari in Hasbaya, drawing retaliatory Israeli artillery fire. The Lebanese army said that a number of militants fired three rockets against Israel. Israeli military officials said they believed the rockets were fired by a small Palestinian group in an act of solidarity with militants from Gaza's Islamist Hamas movement who are engaged in a major confrontation with the Israeli army.They said it was unlikely the rockets were fired by Hizbullah.
Qabbani Refuses to Budge an Inch, Rejects Election of Sheikh Daryan as his Successor
Naharnet/Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani rejects the election of head of the Sunni Sharia Supreme Court of Lebanon Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan as his successor. “I am sure that Daryan might be forced despite my rejection, but I will not give my blessing despite all the guarantees,” As Safir newspaper quoted Qabbani as saying on Friday. The controversial Grand Mufti expressed surprise over the insistence to elect Daryan “although he doesn't fit the profile.”“The Grand Mufti should be entrusted with the Islamic religion.”Qabbani denied putting any conditions on negotiators, saying: “I only had two requests.” “The elected Mufti should be acceptable, and a new Higher Islamic Council should be formed after the two existing bodies are dissolved.”The dispute between the HIC led by Qabbani and that of his deputy Sheikh Omar Misqawi is the result of political interference. According to As Safir, Qabbani is certain that Prime Minister Tammam Salam will call for the election of a new Grand Mufti on August 10. However, he refuses to withdraw his call for elections on August 31. “The elections date is still on and I will not back down from it,” Qabbani said. The Higher Islamic Council -- which elects the Mufti and organizes Dar al-Fatwa's affairs – became the center of controversy in 2012 after 21 of its members, who are close to al-Mustaqbal movement, extended its term until 2015 despite Qabbani's objection. The Mufti later held elections for the Council, which were deemed illegal by ex-PMs Fouad Saniora and Najib Miqati, and the group led by Misqawi, who argued that the polls violated Shura Council decisions and did not enjoy a legal quorum. In June, head of Dar al-Fatwa's Islamic Endowments Sheikh Hisham Khalifeh called for electing a new Grand Mufti in August, but this announcement was met with the opposition of the council led by Misqawi, who demanded the elections to be held as soon as possible. Qabbani's term ends on September 15. Qabbani recently blamed Saniora for the ongoing division as he seeks to cancel several powers granted to the Mufti.
Syrian Refugee Women Tell Stories about Sexual Exploitation in Lebanon
Naharnet /The Syrian refugee woman huddled in the latest room she calls home, a peeling, run-down place outside a north Lebanese village. The mother of six doesn't know how she'll pay the rent. She's gotten by over the past year by taking a series of lovers who would pay for her housing. But then a few months ago she was arrested for prostitution. That put a scare in her — that and threatening mobile messages from a former lover — so she's trying to go it alone. "I could never imagine that I'd reach this point," said 38-year-old Samar, who lived a middle-class life back in Syria with a husband who has disappeared since his arrest by Syrian troops. Syrian women and girls are growing more vulnerable to sexual exploitation in Lebanon as their exile drags out and poverty increases, relief workers say. Some women are driven into outright prostitution. Others like Samar engage in what relief workers call survival sex, striking up sexual relationships with men who can provide rent or food. With Syrian women seen as vulnerable, they face sexual harassment in the streets and exploitation by bosses, landlords and charity workers on whom they rely, as described by more than a dozen refugee women interviewed by The Associated Press.
Some mothers push daughters in their early teens into marriage, either because they can't afford to care for them or because they hope a husband will protect them, only to have the girls abused by their much older husbands. Women and children make up 80 percent of the 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They are crammed into cheap apartments, garages and unfinished buildings in towns around the country. The poorest live in informal tent encampments that dot the countryside.
Measures of the extent of sexual exploitation are difficult to come by since women are reluctant to come forward with complaints of abuse for fear of stigma.
But in one sign of their vulnerability and desperation, prostitution has increased significantly in Lebanon, said a police officer in the country's vice squad. As of July, 255 people, mostly Syrian women, have been arrested this year on prostitution charges, more than the 205 who were arrested during all of 2013, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with police regulations.
Women typically charge $7 to $10 for sex — a sign that it's out of desperation, the officer said. "Most of them have children, and they say, 'It's to survive, it's to feed my children.'"
Saba Zariv, of the International Rescue Committee, which runs centers advising women of their rights, said the organization is hearing "more and more" accounts of sexual violence as its workers establish themselves in the refugee community. She said economic insecurity, lack of shelter and broken social networks "are all contributing factors for a woman's vulnerability and are risk factors for sexual violence."
One factor several relief workers pointed to was that rent aid which many refugees once received — usually about $200 a month — had dried up. That has left many women more vulnerable to exploitation as they seek housing and try to cover costs. At a center run by the International Rescue Committee, a group of 12 refugee women described how sexual harassment is a constant in their lives, on multiple levels — from tiny gestures in the street to outright exploitation. They spoke on condition they remain anonymous or be identified only by their first names because of the stigma connected to the abuse.
It begins in the encampments, where men sometimes peer into tents to see if women are alone. Two of the women who live in a camp in eastern Lebanon said a teen was raped in a field near her tent.
Several said that men — after realizing they are Syrian — had offered them money like prostitutes, as they waited for a bus. One woman said her friend fled the dentist after he kept sliding his hand down her shirt. He still charged her for the visit. A landowner ordered refugee women working on his land to wear tighter clothes, said one woman. Eight women, earning $2.60 a day, were fired when they refused, she said. "They all have children to feed," she sighed. Many of the women said they were sexually harassed by men distributing aid from charities. One of the women said she so feared for her 14-year-old daughter's safety that she pushed her into marriage, hoping a husband would protect her.
"What can I do?" the woman wept. "It's hard, but I can't protect her." But such marriages often turn abusive. Manal, a refugee girl in northern Lebanon, told the AP she was married at 15 to a 23-year-old man. Her impoverished family of seven lives in a single room in a building crammed with refugees. Her parents couldn't care for her, and she wanted to marry, she said. Her husband began beating her soon after — once because she was using a mobile phone.
Manal was reluctant to talk about the reasons for other beatings, saying only: "I was afraid, I didn't know him and I had never sat in the same corner with a man before." But a social worker present at the interview said Manal was beaten after refusing to do sexual acts that she saw as degrading. The social worker requested anonymity, because identification would affect her ability to work with sexual violence victims.
A month later, after another beating, Manal ran away. Her husband snatched back the gold he had given her as a wedding gift and burned her clothes.
"He left me with nothing," Manal said. Many of the women complained of the reputation Syrian refugee women are burdened with in Lebanon. Umm Jamil, a 44-year-old widow living in the northern Lebanese village of Halba, said she was falsely accused of prostitution when police confused her for another woman they were searching for. She was arrested but quickly released without charge. But she said the humiliation gives her constant nightmares. "I was dragged like a criminal, like a woman who is —" she burst into tears before finishing her sentence.
Samar, the 38-year-old woman living in another northern Lebanese town, described her ordeals with the series of men who paid her rent. Though released after her arrest, she could still face prosecution on prostitution charges. She's now living in the apartment of a friend, after severing contact with her last lover. She fears another former lover who has been sending her threatening texts will harm her.
"I did all this to keep the standards that I was used to," Samar said. "Now I just want to care for my children."
Days after Samar was interviewed, her social worker told the AP that Samar had been thrown out of her friend's apartment after the landlord demanded more rent.
Samar had since moved in with a new male friend.Source/Associated Press
Lebanon on full alert over Ebola risk
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Lebanese officials sought to assure the public Friday that the government was proactively addressing the risk of Ebola virus, as the World Health Organization warned that an African outbreak of the deadly virus was moving faster than efforts to control it. "Measures carried out by the Health Ministry at the airport are more than enough, and if airlines cooperate in the required manner, then the Lebanese have nothing to fear,” Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said while at Beirut's airport to meet with the facility's medical team. The health minister expressed his sympathy for the concerns of the Lebanese with regards to a local spread of the virus but assured the public that the proactive measures in place “sometimes even exceed requirements suggested by the World Health Organization."
bu Faour said the airport was requiring airlines transporting travelers from countries such as Liberia and New Guinea that have high prevalence rates to report any passenger displaying Ebola symptoms to the Lebanese authorities. If a passenger displays vomiting or high temperatures, the passenger will be quarantined at the airport before handing him over to the Health Ministry’s team in the facility. The passenger will also be screened using thermal cameras, Abu Faour said. The health minister said that most of the travelers coming from high prevalence countries did not come directly to Lebanon and were therefore subject to health inspections in other airports prior to their arrival. “This does not relieve us of our responsibilities at all,” he added, stressing that the ministry’s airport team had been strengthened since the corona virus scare at the airport earlier this year. “The team founded by the Health Ministry has about 18 people including doctors, health monitors and nurses. ... The medical team still exists and procedures have been in place for more than five months and now there is an increase in procedures and instructions,” Abu Faour added. He called on the Lebanese citizens to "trust the state and procedures employed by the Health Ministry because these procedures are prone to revision and continuous development." The health minister noted that there had not yet been any discovery of the Ebola virus in Lebanon.
Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry instructed its diplomatic missions in the four Ebola-hit countries to provide citizens with all needed help as well as preventative means to combat the virus. It also asked them to facilitate travel procedures for those seeking to leave. The ministry also referred guidelines and recommendations it had received from WHO to the health and Labor ministries.
The World Health Organization warned that the spread of Ebola was advancing beyond the efforts to check it in West Africa. WHO Margaret Chan said that demands from the crisis were far outstripping the capacity of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to respond, according to Reuters. The WHO is to meet on Aug. 6-7 to decide whether to declare an international health crisis over the outbreak, which has already killed more than 700 people in the three West African nations and raised concerns over possible spreading since a traveler in Nigeria died from the virus.
Lebanon’s Labor Ministry said Friday that it would suspend work permits for citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, part of the government’s measures to prevent a possible spread of the deadly virus.
"In order to preserve the general safety and in accordance with the measures that need to be taken to prevent an Ebola outbreak, the Labor Ministry will stop receiving [labor] requests or proceed with requests for citizens of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia,” a statement by the ministry said. The ministry said it made the decision in consultation with the Health Ministry.
Fugitive Fadel Shaker to release new
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Pop singer-turned-Salafist militant Fadel Shaker is set to release a new song for Eid al-Fitr, despite arrest warrants issued against him for his assault on the military in Abra. Rotana Record Label announced that it was in the process of issuing a new song from the wanted Lebanese singer, who still remains at large. The record label confirmed on Facebook that the song would be launched for Eid al-Fitr, noting that Shaker had recorded the song before retiring. Rotana did not say if the singer had approved the release. Fadel Shamandour – known by his stage name Fadel Shaker – has repeatedly affirmed his retirement, asking audiences not to listen to his songs so as not to increase his religious immorality. Shaker had previously addressed his fans in an interview, urging them "not to dream of becoming singers, because [singer’s] hearts are filled with delusions and pain," adding that "the singer manufactures happiness [for others] but is [personally] sad inside because of distance from God."Shaker, alongside firebrand Ahmad al-Assir and the preacher's militias, fought pitched battles with the Lebanese Army in the summer of 2013 that killed more than 20 soldiers along with 28 gunmen loyal to Assir. Assir’s most notorious protégé, Shaker alleged that he personally murdered two members of the Army during the 2013 attacks. First Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda issued indictments, requesting the death penalty for 57 individuals, including Shaker and Assir, who also remains at large. Shaker is thought to be hiding out somewhere in the Taamir neighborhood outside Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in the Sidon suburbs.
Jumblatt: Christians, Druze facing
The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt said that Druze and Christians were on the way toward extinction, while expressing concern over the discrepancy between the Future Movement’s moderation and Sunni communities’ extremism. “We are on the edge of extinction,” Jumblatt told As-Safir in an interview published Friday, answering a question about the Druze and Christian roles in Lebanese politics.“Each side has played a role at some moment,” he added. “The Druze played their role in the era of Prince Fakhreddine, and the Christians played a significant role in Lebanon’s history. “But [Christians] have not drawn the right conclusions,” he continued, calling on Christian parties to gather under the umbrella of the Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and adopt a consensus presidential candidate.As for the Druze, he stressed that they are “Lebanese and Arab,” and that any idea of a Druze project separate from the Lebanese entity is “crazy and suicidal.”
Separately, the PSP leader said the Sunni leadership’s moderation did not change the fact that the Sunni grass-roots were slipping into extremism.
“The speeches of Sheikh Saad Hariri and our friend Fouad [Siniora] in the iftars joining the elite of the Lebanese society are important,” Jumblatt said. “But the Sunni base is in a completely different place.”He stressed that the biggest threat was not that the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria actually reaching Lebanese soil, but the group’s ideology reaching Lebanese Sunni minds.
“The speeches made by those claiming to represent moderate Islam are important,” he explained. “But the ground is changing and we are touching this and seeing it well in Roumieh prison, Tripoli, Western Bekaa and Arsal.” Jumblatt dismissed that idea the Future Movement officials’ moderate behavior was solving the extremism problem among the Sunni community.
“The security treatment is very good,” he said. “But there is a need for political, social, economic and ideological treatment. There was a young man who went to the Iranian Embassy [in Beirut] and blew himself up. Where was he brainwashed?”Jumblatt said the fact that the Iranian Embassy suicide bomber was living in Sweden meant that there is “a whole new generation that we will lose control of.”
He praised the coordination between different security sources but called on the Lebanese authorities to proceed with the trials of Roumieh’s prisoners.“Why do we keep this time bomb?” he asked.
Two soldiers killed in Hamas
attack in which officer feared captured. Gaza 72-hour truce folds
DEBKAfile Special Report August 1, 2014/Israel has withdrawn from the 72-hour truce in the Gaza Strip in the wake of gross Hamas violations just two hours after the lull went into effect Friday at 8 a.m. The IDF spokesmen said that an Israeli soldier was feared kidnapped by Hamas while dealing with a tunnel in Rafah. He has been identified as Givati officer, 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba. Deputy head of the Hamas politburo Mussa Abu Marzuk claimed in Cairo that “an Israeli officer was taken prisoner.” Military sources said later the abduction was not certain, placing the Hamas claim in doubt in the absence of evidence. His family has been informed. Israel forces are scouring the area for the missing officer. The apparent abducton occurred when a team of Israeli soldiers working on a terror tunnel in Rafah came under Hamas and Islamic Jihad fire and a suicide terrorist jumped out of the tunnel and blew himself up. Firday, southern Israel was back on high alert from the early hours of the ceasefire as Hamas let loose with more than a score of rockets and mortar shells. IDF tanks, artillery, air force and special forces retaliated with heavy artillery fire and air strikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Rafah sector of southern Gaza. The Palestinians report many dead and casualties. Israel has informed the US, UN and Egypt it is suspending its consent to the 72-hour truce in the Gaza Strip and participation in the Cairo talks in the wake of gross Hamas violations just two hours after the lull went into effect Friday at 8 a.m. They peaked in an attack on an IDF tunnel team in Rafah in which two soldiers were killed and Israeli Givati officer, 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba, was abducted. The IDF reported two Israeli soldiers killed in the same Hamas attack in which an Israeli soldier was feared captured while disarming a tunnel in Rafah. The missing officer was identified as Givati officer, 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba. Deputy head of the Hamas politburo Mussa Abu Marzuk confirmed in Cairo that “an Israeli officer was taken prisoner.” Military sources said later the abduction was not certain, placing the Hamas claim in doubt. His family has been informed that the officer is missing. The two soldiers were killed when Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacked the IDF team working on the terror tunnel, after the truce went into effect. A suicide terrorist jumped out of the tunnel and blew himself up. Southern Israel is back on high alert since in the early hours of the ceasefire, since when Hamas has let loose a score of rockets and mortar shells.IDF tanks, artillery, air force and special forces retaliated with heavy fire against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in the Rafah sector of southern Gaza. The Palestinians report 90 dead and many wounded.
A senior Israeli officer warned that the on-again off-again truces place Israeli servicemen in harm’s way..
The Israeli cabinet has scheduled a special session for 5.30 p.m. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu briefed US Secretary of State John Kerry on the violations of the humanitarian ceasefire by Hamas and other terrorist organizations and vowed they would pay dear for their actions. The White House condemned the Hamas attack in the course of an agreed truce as “barbaric.”
debkafile reported Thursday night:
The 72-hour hour unconditional, humanitarian ceasefire announced by the US and UN, was scheduled to begin at 8 pm local time Friday. The US State Department said that military forces will stay in place. The US and UN said they had assurances that all parties to the conflict had agreed to an unconditional cease-fire during which there would be negotiations on a more durable truce.
This was confirmed early Friday by a source in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The Paletinian Hamas and Jihad Islami also confirmed acceptance of the ceasefire, following which they fired two rockets into Israel. Israeli and Palestinian delegations will "immediately" be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Egyptian government to try at reach a more permanent cease-fire, the State Department said. "During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period." During the cease-fire, Israel will be able to continue its defense operations to destroy tunnels that are behind its territorial lines. "We hope this moment can be grabbed by both parties, but no one can force them to do that," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The Palestinian delegation is expected to include members of Hamas, which the United States and Israel consider a terrorist organization and cannot be negotiated with directly. So if the Israelis and Palestinians meet face to face, the Hamas members will not participate in those talks. The Egyptians will be the go-between for all of this and will help coordinate, a senior State Department official said,
What Happens When the Fighting Stops?
By: Bakir Oweida/Asharq Alawsat
Friday, 1 Aug, 2014
As mourners comfort each other over the passing of their loved ones, they often wish that the loss will be “the last of sad times.” But they are not aware that, in doing this, they unintentionally overlook the fact that sadness at the calamity of death only ends when life itself does. They are not aware, either, that the countdown to the end of someone’s life starts from the moment of their gestation. Such mutual consolation over the shock of death seems to be a way of trying to cope with this painful reality, whether this is realistic or not.
Persistent intransigence often causes more tragedies for people already facing danger and pain, as is the case with the continuing inferno of the Gaza war, where helpless people are enduring enormous torments. But, I must say here that the space for opinion should be wide enough to accommodate all opposite and different views, regardless of what is being discussed. For a long time, many issues have led to a disagreement between pundits and commentators in the Arab media. The past four years have witnessed a proliferation of events which have spilled over regional borders: from Tunisia to Egypt, to Libya, and from Iraq to Syria, through Lebanon, also reaching Yemen and Bahrain, and now Gaza, where war is raging. The expression of opinion about these developments has become so fiery that it has gone beyond all reasonable bounds. Words such as “accusation of betrayal” or “outbidding” are now in common use. But the question is: Is there any cause for this? No. Each party should respect the acceptable bounds of difference in opinion. The Palestinians critical of the policies of Hamas, or any other Palestinian group, should not flout the legitimate right of a people on any land to resist foreign occupation.
On the other hand, the proponents of Hamas, or other parties, should not go too far in trying to belittle those who hold opposite opinions, or go even further and accuse others of betrayal while praising themselves. It would be better for them to think twice and remind themselves that Palestine is a homeland to all Palestinians, irrespective of their different views or stances, as long as the basis of their difference is their loyalty to the homeland and keenness to make a better future for succeeding generations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing his people for a prolonged ground war, with air and sea support. What is the reason for this? It is to dismantle the infrastructure of Hamas’s weapons and rockets, namely the destruction of what is left of a network of tunnels stretching from eastern and northern Gaza toward Israel and westwards toward the sea.
I was surprised during the first week of the war by this talk about the tunnels. The most likely reasons for it is that the Israeli media machine has been blowing the issue of the tunnels out of proportion, as part of the propaganda war. It has long been said that truth is the first casualty of war, a rule with no exceptions.
Israel has now stepped up its ground offensive, turning a deaf ear to criticisms from the rest of the world over the gruesome scenes of killing and the rising death toll in Gaza, particularly among children. Tel Aviv’s attempts to justify its barbarism caught my attention. It claimed that both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launch their rockets from these tunnels.When I investigated the matter further, I was surprised to be told that many Gazans were themselves surprised by the presence of these tunnels. Someone told me: “There may be a tunnel under my house that I am not aware of.” Another told me that Israeli military analysts claim there are 3,000 well-built tunnels linking Gaza to Israel, but up until a week ago Israel had only been able to destroy 35 of them.When I asked my interlocutor if this was an exaggeration, a part of the propaganda war, he answered in the positive. But I told him that if it was true that Hamas, within seven harsh years of ruling besieged Gaza, could build half this number of tunnels without Israel being able to stop them, this in itself would be a success. It would be a success that the movement, and every Palestinian, would have the right to be proud of, given the injustice done to them, which goes so far as to deny them the opportunities to fulfil their potential like other human beings. The argument that the resources used to build these tunnels could be far better utilized over, not under, the ground is also a sound argument. But I would not wade into its details on this occasion.
The question now, in brief, is: Where is this prolonged war going? For a start, former and current Israeli politicians are aware that, by prolonging the duration of wars, they give credence to the political doctrine of the Hamas movement. But now they would even bolster its principle which says, in a nutshell, that the conflict is not one over borders, but an existential one.
It is clear that the ferocity of Tel Aviv’s assault this time carries a message to a “fierce” adversary, as Netanyahu described Hamas. I will take a risk and offer my analysis of this message, which I admit is based mostly on speculation.
The message, in brief, is that if the adversary has exceeded the limits of its role, it will pay a heavy price. The price, this time, is nothing less than getting Hamas, with its weapons and sister organizations, completely out of the tunnels of Gaza. What follows after that is either a possible agreement between the two Palestinian and Israeli right-wing camps, or the return of the authority expelled from Gaza, which has been silent about this expulsion for seven years, in order to rule over the debris that remains of the territory. What about the reconstruction? There would be no problem. In either scenario, there would a long line of contractors. As southern Lebanon and Beirut were reconstructed after the 2006 war, Gaza can be rebuilt when the dust of the 2014 war has settled. In the interim, Gazans would have no option but to persevere, endure the pain, and exchange condolences.
But I hope some people will not be overoptimistic and believe that it is the last of sad times, or even the last war. I am sorry to say that it is the destiny of this region to bear witness to the pain of lengthy wars that have erupted during different periods since the time of the Old Testament. But this story too has many details. Maybe I will be able to discuss them at a later point.
Fuad Masoum, A Man of Calm Strength
By: Amir Taheri /Asharq Alawsat
Friday, 1 Aug, 2014
Iraqis certainly know how to surprise themselves, and everyone else. Just when many pundits claimed that the democratic experience had failed, Iraqis set the constitutional process in motion to form a new government. Last week they elected the speaker of their new parliament, and then they chose their new president. In both cases, divisive figures failed to make waves as the newly elected parliamentarians went instead for consensual figures—“healers, not wielders of knives”—as one Iraqi parliamentarian put it. The biggest surprise was the election of Fuad Masoum, a Kurdish scholar and politician who was almost the last of 50 candidates to throw his hat into the ring. “I decided to put my name forward because I felt there was a desire for Iraqis to come together,” he told me in a telephone conversation an hour after his victory. “I am confident that Iraqis can come together to meet the challenge they face.”
Masoum’s ambition to act as “a president for all Iraqis” is no vain hope. He is an atypical figure for a number of reasons. First, he entered the race as an individual against a number of powerful figures fielded by major political blocs. He won with 211 votes against his sole rival’s 17 in the second round of voting in the parliament.
Next, he offered the parliament, and through it the wider Iraqi public thanks to a live TV broadcast, a very American-style presentation of himself and his view of things. For a people used to haughty politicians talking down to them, this was a pleasant surprise—someone talking to you as a fellow citizen and not a “Ra’is ” (ruler).
Those who know Masoum know he was not playing political theatre . A trained philosopher, he wrote his PhD thesis about the “Brethren of Purity” (Ikhwan Al-Safa), a group of scholars and mystics who in the 9th century compiled what became the first encyclopedia in history. Heavily influenced by Mutazilite philosophy, the group wanted to “reconcile faith with reason” through an analysis of religion based on reason. Two centuries later, the Italian theologian and philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, used the same method to reconcile Christianity with Greek philosophy. Masoum’s election is a powerful signal that, at a time when Iraq faces a serious threat from Islamist terrorists in three of its provinces, a majority of Iraqis reject the reduction of Islam to a political ideology. “Masoum has not only united the Kurdish blocs, but drawn strong support from both Sunni and Shi’ite Arab communities,” a parliamentarian in Baghdad said.
Born in Erbil in 1938, Masoum hails from the town of Koy-Sanjaq in the autonomous Kurdistan Region, and has a long record of struggle against successive despotic regimes in Baghdad.
After a stint as professor of philosophy at Basra University in southern Iraq, Masoum joined the leadership of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan alongside Jalal Talabani. Over the years, Kurds came to regard him as the voice of moderation and wisdom. The father of five daughters, Masoum has always paid special attention to promoting equal rights and opportunities for women.
Thanks to his studies at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the chief center of learning for Sunni Muslims, Masoum appeals to traditionalists who believe Islam must continue to have a leading role in Iraqi life without dominating the public space. “Our immediate task is to show the world that democracy works in Iraq,” Masoum told me. “We now face the challenge of choosing a new prime minister and helping form a new government.”
Throughout our conversation, Masoum gave the impression of calm strength that befits a man at peace with himself. That may be the key quality likely to help him put national reconciliation at the top of Iraq’s national agenda. Though it has been a surprise to most, Masoum’s election has been greeted with a great deal of warmth in many world capitals. It is not every day that the US, European, Arab, Turkish and Iranian media sing from the same hymn-sheet on a major issue. And, yet, they have all welcomed Masoum’s election. This means that Masoum starts his presidential term with a significant capital of goodwill both inside and outside Iraq. “Iraq needs all its friends, he told me. “A stable and democratic Iraq would be good news for everyone.”Bargaining among political blocs over a new prime minister is expected to start after the feast of Eid Al-Fitr this week, marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Four years ago, it took Iraqi politicians several months to form a new government. This time, however, they hope to reach a consensus within a week or two. Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the principal religious leader of the Shi’ites, has called on all parties to form a new coalition government before the end of August. Masoum does not want to fix a specific date, but believes that a general awareness that Iraq needs to come together and defeat the Islamists is a powerful impetus for the formation of a coalition with a strong popular mandate. Iraq is certainly not out of the woods yet. However, it is the only Arab country where there is a consensus that governments should be chosen and changed through elections and in the context of legal political competition.
Iran tries to sweep its domestic
crackdown under the Persian rug
Friday, 1 August 2014
Majid Rafizadeh/Al Arabiya
History appears to be repeating itself in the Islamic Republic. Whenever Iranians believe that there will be more socio-political, individual and socio-economic freedoms due to the rule of a moderate or reformist president, the domestic crackdown and human rights violations mount. Three institutions play a crucial role in setting the boundaries of social justice, freedom of speech, press, assembly, the use of social media, and privacy rights. The first is the judiciary, the second is the intelligence, and the third is the security forces. To enforce the law, these three branches of the government also utilize voluntary and paid paramilitaries and militias, such as the Basij. It is crucial to point out that these apparatuses operate quasi-independently or totally independently from the office of the president. The president is mostly a political figurehead, wielding some power domestically - such as partially managing the economy - and more fundamentally setting the tone for Iran’s foreign policy for international and regional meetings and conferences. “While Rowhani appears to be changing Iran’s relationships with the West, the domestic crackdown on internet users and the media continues”
Although when domestic repression increases the president can speak up in favor of the oppressed, reformist presidents (such as Muhammad Khatami) , pragmatist ones (such as Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani) and moderate and realist ones (such as Hassan Rowhani) have chosen to remain predominantly silent. The reason for this is to safeguard their own political and social position, power and interests.
The crackdown on social media increased after the emergence of the Green movement and the widespread protests in several cities in 2009. The authorities have increased their technological capabilities with regard to monitoring social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. When it comes to cracking down on internet users, the Cyber Unit of the Revolutionary Guard, and the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Court, have ratcheted up their censorship. In March 2012, the Supreme Council for Cyberspace was set up in order to centralize and more efficiently monitor internet users. These restrictions have been legalized through the judiciary. The reasons for the legality are justified by factors such as insulting government officials, endangering national security, spreading propaganda, insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and offending the official state religion. In the last few weeks, the crackdown on social media has surged.
For example, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency, eight Facebook users were recently sentenced to a total of 127 years in prison. Their crimes included insulting government officials and Islam, as well as endangering national security. In another case, the Persian website Kalame reported that eight Facebook users were sentenced to a combined 123 years in prison.
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the ruling in the second case, “which is harsher than what the law allows, is clearly intended to spread fear among Internet users in Iran, and dissuade Iranians from stepping outside strict state controls on cyberspace.” Iran has been labeled an enemy of the internet by Reporters Without Borders. RBW and the Committee to Protect Journalists have also labeled it one of the worst enemies of press freedom. Four journalists, three of them American, were recently detained. Iranian journalists have also been arrested this year.
While Rowhani appears to be changing Iran’s relationships with the West, the domestic crackdown on internet users and the media continues.
Israel and Hamas break each other’s
bones, but who will cry first?
Friday, 1 August 2014
Abdel Monem Said/AlArabiya
As I was writing this article, the war in Gaza had escalated into a war of bone breaking between Hamas and its Palestinian allies on one hand and Israel on another. War is no longer an Israeli walk in the park in which jets roam Gaza and turn its people’s lives into hell by killing them, destroying their houses and intimidating them into continuously fleeing their homes to take refuge inside cramped schools. We can imagine this fear, panic and grief as more people die and get injured. Now that the Israeli army launched its ground assault on Gaza, Israeli souls have come closer to the Palestinian fire. The number of Israelis killed was no more than two when the war began. By the time I wrote this article, it reached 33. It’s true that the number of Palestinians killed is more than 1,000 and that the number of those injured has reached into thousands but all this has a price now.
The price Israel is paying does not just include the fall of tens of its soldiers but it also includes the suspension of flights to Ben-Gurion airport. Israel now knows the meaning of war, perhaps not as much as Palestinians do. But Palestinian blood no longer comes at a price it seems. The war is still in its first phase because both parties are no longer capable of accepting a ceasefire since this would mean losing the entire war.
“When Israel’s aim is to search for and destroy tunnels and arms’ factories, its troops must enter the Strips’ streets, allies and camps. In these narrow allies, fighters are all equal”
Regardless of the path which led Palestinians and Israelis towards this war, it began with a series of surprises. The first one is on the Israeli level as the Iron Dome’s efficiency in protecting major Israeli cities has been revealed. At one point, it seemed like Israel could co-exist with danger. However, domestic pressures quickly forced the Israeli government to deal with this state of fear which affected life in Israel. A series of Palestinian surprises also surfaced. It began with the intensity of Palestinian missiles which suggested that they have a large stockpile that, in my mind, could not have been collected through smuggling operations.
In my view, this must mean that the Palestinians have been making these missiles. Although these missiles may be homemade and their navigation systems may be inaccurate, they did reach certain areas. No matter how random the shelling is, the narrowness of Israeli space means that these missiles will reach some sort of target. The other surprise is that these Palestinian missiles reached unexpected ranges. As we say in Egypt, “the bullet that doesn’t harm, intimidates.” The third surprise is the emergence of Palestinians inside Israel itself via a network of tunnels which Israel and its intelligence apparatuses knew nothing about, it seems.
Israeli decision making circles
Put these Palestinian surprises together and take a look at the conclusion Israeli decision making circles have reached. They reached the conclusion that there’s a lot they don’t know inside, and under, Gaza, I believe. Therefore it will be impossible to devise and understand calculations of power in the area. This, I believe, is what led the government towards the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. The issue has become an Israeli surprise in which Israel takes a decision which it knows well will change the nature of the strategic relationship between itself and Gaza. The nature of war before the invasion was based on uneven relations of power. Israel could shell the Strip with little material losses, but with huge dents to morale. The ground invasion and the entrance of Israeli troops into the Strip morphed this uneven or unbalanced war. When Israel’s aim is to search for and destroy tunnels and arms’ factories, its troops must enter the Strips’ streets, allies and camps. In these narrow allies, fighters are all equal.
So, both parties are in a dilemma. Israel, which entered the war perhaps thinking it would be a walk in the park, found itself to be confronting a bigger danger as well as the threats of missiles, many of which have been neutralized thanks to the Iron Dome.
Despite that, these missiles have unexpected effects. These missiles, in addition to tunnels, have faced the Israeli population with a grave threat. I don’t think Israel has a plan to deal with this crisis because now, it cannot stay inside Gaza and bear continuous and escalating operations against it. The Israeli government will face pressure to attain a victory similar to what it attained following the ground invasion of South Lebanon. Meanwhile, Hamas is also in a dilemma as it seems to have decided it won the war since it launched its first set of missiles and of course after capturing an Israeli soldier. Now that the number of dead Israelis has reached into the dozens, the banners of victory scream out loud regardless of the situation in Gaza. Hamas cannot reach this level of victory (review Khalid Mashal’s speech on Wednesday) and then allow the situation in destroyed Gaza to return to how it was. The Palestinian aim now must be to lift the siege of Gaza and open all borders around it. This aim could have been achieved if these border crossings had been handed over to the Palestinian authority but it seems as though Hamas wants the border crossings and the tunnels under its complete control.
Demanding more than they can achieve
The result is that both parties are demanding more than they can achieve. Israel and Hamas would have to break each other’s’ bones until one of them cries out.
Israel’s problem, in my view, is that it cannot achieve what it wants until it reoccupies Gaza. This is a nightmare the Israelis no longer desire, I feel. There’s also nothing that makes this a viable solution to the Israeli crisis. Hamas’ problem is that the long duration of war will not only increase Palestinian sacrifices but will also lead to questions over the Palestinians aims achieved regarding liberation, independence, the return of refugees to the land of Palestine and a sovereign state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Does the situation seem impossible? The world does not think so, at least up until the time I wrote this article. International and regional efforts are still active. There are initiatives and counter initiatives and both parties may suddenly realize that one of these initiatives is enough to send them back to the stance they held before the fighting. If this fails, then perhaps I will have to write another article about the new Gaza war.
Netanyahu: Hamas Will 'Bear the
Consequences' for Abduction
By Hezki Ezra/Arutz Sheva/PM says Israel will 'take all necessary steps' after Hamas breaks ceasefire to kill two soldiers, take another hostage
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry following Friday, after Hamas terrorists breached a 72-hour ceasefire to attack an IDF force in Gaza, killing two soldiers and taking another hostage. A statement from the prime minister's office said that Netanyahu confirmed to Kerry "that despite his joint statement with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, according to which assurances had been received from Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip regarding a ceasefire from 08:00 this morning, the Palestinians had unilaterally and grossly violated the humanitarian ceasefire and attacked our soldiers after 09:00. "Prime Minister Netanyahu told US Secretary of State Kerry that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip will bear the consequences of their actions and that Israel would take all necessary steps against those who call for our destruction and perpetrate terrorism against our citizens