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Daily Archives: 06/02/2010

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at a Special Press Conference Regarding the Continued Efforts to Release Kidnapped Soldier Gilad Shalit


July 1, 2010

(PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE)  Four years have passed since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and the people of Israel are united in their desire to see him return safe and sound to his family, to his home, to his country.

We all want his return. We all have a strong desire to see Gilad return to his parents, Aviva and Noam; to his grandfather, Tzvi; to his sister, Hadas; to his brother, Yoel.

Anyone who has met the members of the Shalit family cannot help but think to themselves: this could have been my son, my brother or my grandson.  Therefore, the family’s reaction is natural, as is the desire to help them, to support them, to make your voice heard are also natural and understandable to all of us, including myself.

The State of Israel has always been prepared to pay a heavy price for the release of its hostages.  I know this price firsthand.  I lost my brother Yoni, of blessed memory, during the operation to free the hostages of the Air France airplane in Entebbe. I myself was wounded during the operation to free the Sabena airplane hostages at Ben-Gurion airport.

In circumstances such as these, and in other circumstances such as in the attempt to rescue the kidnapped soldier, Nachshon Wachsman of blessed memory, there was an operational possibility – and the State of Israel did not hesitate to endanger its finest sons to rescue its prisoners and hostages.

In other circumstances, the State of Israel decided on several occasions to release terrorists and murderers in exchange for releasing Israelis.

The most famous deal was the Jibril deal of 1985, in the framework of which 1,150 terrorists were released.  Almost half of them returned to engage in terror and to murder dozens of Israelis at their own hands.

Moreover, those released in the Jibril deal constituted the solid nucleus of the leadership of the first intifada, during which hundreds of Israelis lost their lives in suicide and terror attacks.

We should be able to say: “It was over 25 years ago, times have changed”, but  there were more instances, for instance, the Tannenbaum deal in January 2004, in the framework of which 400 terrorists were released.

Photo : Gilad Shalit
Here is what happened as a result of that deal:-

On January 27, 2004, Hamas activist Musaab Hashalmun was released as part of the Tannenbaum deal.  On August 31, 2004, only half a year after his release, he was involved in a simultaneous terror attack on two buses in Beersheba. sixteen Israeli citizens were murdered and more than 100 wounded in these terror attacks.

Others released in the Tannenbaum deal led to the murder of:

– Two young girls and three men in the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv in February 2005;
– Two sixteen year-old girls, a soldier in mandatory service and two women in the Sharon mall in Netanya in July 2005;
– And another woman who was murdered in a terror attack in Dimona in February 2008.

Overall those released in the Tannenbaum deal murdered 27 Israelis since their release in 2004. We can say this today with the benefit of hindsight.

Therefore, the decision to release terrorists is a difficult and complex one for any government. We are not only talking about saving lives but also about endangering many lives:

– By encouraging further kidnappings;
– By additional murders by those released;
– By creating a nucleus of terror leadership against Israeli citizens in the future.

It is no coincidence that the United States, Britain and other countries steadfastly refuse to negotiate with terrorists over releasing hostages.

As a result of the complexity of this decision and the general national responsibility resting on the shoulders of every Prime Minister in Israel, when I was leader of the opposition, I refused to criticize the Olmert government on the issue of Gilad Shalit.

I also instructed the members of my faction not to apply any pressure on this topic, and I must say that they behaved accordingly. I said that we were not allowed to turn the issue of Gilad Shalit into a political hatchet, and I personally adhered to this.

I said that public pressure and demands needs to be directed towards Hamas rather than towards the Israeli government. Towards this cruel, murderous terror organization that has not allowed the Red Cross to visit Gilad Shalit even once during his years of captivity.  I said this and did this.

Upon becoming Prime Minister over a year ago, I took the four following steps:

1. I appointed Hagai Hadas to be the Government’s Special Representative on the matter of Gilad Shalit.

2. I agreed to include the German mediator in the negotiations, as he is a man of proven experience in conducting such negotiations.

3. We received an important video where Gilad Shalit is shown speaking, walking and being in possession of his physical and cognitive functions.

My aim was to clarify Gilad’s state and also to affix firmly in the international consciousness Hamas’ direct responsibility for his well-being and his release.

4. After arduous negotiations, I responded favorably to the German mediator’s proposal to return Gilad Shalit home while simultaneously preserving the security of the citizens of Israel.

Now I would like to explain what this deal does and does not include:

The previous government agreed to the general proposal to release 450 terrorists to Hamas. The deal was not completed because no agreement was reached about which names would be included. The previous government also agreed to release 550 security prisoners as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority under Egypt’s auspices.

I had the option of rejecting the entire deal, something that would have placed a huge question mark on the issue of Gilad being released in the foreseeable future, or to attempt to complete it in such a way that would not harm the security of our citizens. I chose to proceed in this manner and to accept the German mediator’s new proposal.

It should be clear that this is a difficult proposal. It includes the release of 450 terrorists, whose names, by the way, were all supplied by Hamas, which provided a larger list and we chose names from among them to reach 450.

The German mediator’s proposal that we decided to accept requires the release of 1,000 terrorists. This is a price that I am prepared to pay in order to bring Gilad home.

I agreed to the deal and it can be carried out immediately.  However, there are prices that I am not prepared to pay that are not included in the proposed deal.  I stand firm on two basic principles:

1. The first principle is that dangerous terrorists will not return to the areas of Judea and Samaria where they will be able to continue harming Israeli citizens. Terrorists that the security forces define as dangerous, such as several of those released in the Tannenbaum deal, can be released to Gaza, Tunis or anywhere else – but they will not be able to return to Judea or Samaria from where they can reach all our cities.  They can go anywhere, not just Judea and Samaria. Through the breaks, the passageways and the gaps in the fence, they can reach Raanana, Petach Tikva, Kfar Saba, Netanya, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and everywhere.

This is exactly the reason that Hamas insists on being able to return to Judea and Samaria.  I am not prepared to return to policies that with the test of time led to the murder of dozens of Israelis.

2. The second principle is to prevent the release of mass murderers, because upon leaving jail they will vastly strengthen the Hamas leadership and greatly inspire new waves of terror.

We are referring to arch-murderers who planned and carried out the most shocking and horrendous terror attacks in which an extremely large number of innocent Israeli citizens were murdered.

With a heavy heart, while adhering to these two principles, I agreed to the German mediator’s proposal.  Hamas has still not responded to the German mediator’s proposal and during the last few days several of its spokesmen have even increased their demands. I think that Hamas is making a mistake but the ball is in their court.

We all want Gilad to return. I want Gilad to return.  I am working to bring about his return in various ways, both openly and discretely.  But I also have to take into consideration the general national responsibility.

I look into the pained eyes of the Shalit family, and I ache with you – the Shalit family.  I also look into the pained eyes of hundreds of family members of terror victims, and I feel their pain.  In the same breath, I am also thinking about those families whose loved ones will be murdered in further terror attacks if we break Israel’s principles regarding the release of murderers.

As Prime Minister, I am obligated to consider all these factors.  An act of haste or lack of consideration are likely to return us to the mistakes of the past and be very dangerous for us.

The call to pay any price is a natural cry from the heart of any father, mother, grandfather, sister or brother.  As a brother and son, I understand this cry from the bottom of my heart.  But before me and before every Prime Minister in Israel, must also be the security of all the citizens of the state.

The State of Israel is prepared to pay a heavy price for the release of Gilad Shalit but is unable to say “at any price”.  This is the truth and I state it here.

We will continue to exert every effort, from up close and far away, both in and out of the public eye, in order to quickly return Gilad who is beloved to us all. We will do this while steadfastly preserving the security of the citizens of Israel.

G-d willing, we will continue to have the restraint and strength of spirit to make the right decisions for the entire people of Israel.

Al Gore, wife Tipper, to separate



WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US vice president and anti-global warming campaigner Al Gore and his wife Tipper have told friends that they will separate after four decades of marriage, an aide said Tuesday.

“They’ve asked for privacy during this time, for them and their family,” said Kalee Kreider, of the Office of Al and Tipper Gore.

Kreider confirmed that the Gores — whose affection for each other was evident at social gatherings in Washington for 40 years, notably during his failed 2000 White House run — had let friends know of their plans by email.

“We are announcing today that after a great deal of thought and discussion, we have decided to separate,” they said in the message, first reported by the online publication Politico.


June 1, 2010

“This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration. We ask for respect for our privacy and that of our family, and we do not intend to comment further,” they said.

Al Gore, 62, won the Nobel peace prize in 2007 for his work on raising awareness of climate change, and an Oscar that same year for his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” sounding the alarm over global warming.

Mary Elizabeth “Tipper” Gore, 61, is a photographer who chronicled her life as the vice president’s spouse as well as Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and has won praise for her work as an advocate for mental health issues.

The two met at his senior prom dance in 1965, married in May 1970, and have four children.

At the August 2000 Democratic presidential convention, the two had made headlines by sharing a long kiss on the stage after she introduced him and he prepared to accept the party’s nomination.

The embrace, though derided by some as choreographed, helped bring home Gore’s message that he was “my own man” at a time when then-president Bill Clinton’s tawdry affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky loomed over the campaign.

Al Gore was Clinton’s vice president from January 1993 to January 2001, and fought a bitter battle over disputed November 2000 election results in Florida before conceding to George W. Bush, who served two terms and left office in January 2009.

The former vice president left the political limelight and said he was no longer interested in holding elected office, instead pursuing a range of projects including his worldwide climate change work.

Tipper Gore is also known for co-founding the Parents Music Resource Center to combat offensive lyrics in pop music, a campaign that resulted in record labels attaching “Parental Advisory” stickers to music with adult language.

The effort drew widespread criticism from musicians and civil liberties activists, who decried what they saw as censorship.

Taliban claim suicide attack on peace conference in Kabul



June 2, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan – Security forces battled insurgents including at least one suicide bomber outside a national peace conference just as President Hamid Karzai opened the three-day meeting Wednesday in the Afghan capital.

A NATO spokesman said several insurgents were shot near the venue, and Afghan police said a suicide bomber detonated explosives, killing himself. There were no immediate reports of other casualties in the fighting, including among participants of the conference.

The multi-pronged attack started within minutes of Karzai beginning his opening address to some 1,600 dignitaries gathered for the conference, known as a peace jirga, in a huge tent pitched on a university compound in the city.

The Taliban, which had earlier threatened to kill anyone who took part, claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to The Associated Press.

Karzai was hoping that the jirga would bolster him politically by supporting his strategy of offering incentives to individual Taliban fighters and reaching out to the insurgent leadership, despite skepticism in Washington on whether the time is right for an overture to militant leaders.

About 10 minutes into his speech, Karzai was briefly interrupted by an explosion outside, which police said was a rocket fired from the west of the Afghan capital. Karzai heard the thud, but dismissed it, telling delegates, “Don’t worry. We’ve heard this kind of thing before.”

Soon afterward, an AP reporter nearby heard a loud explosion and saw smoke rising from a second apparent rocket attack that struck about 100 meters (yards) from the venue.

AP reporters gathered at a hotel near the venue to cover the conference via video link heard bursts of gunfire to the south of the venue.

Police officer Kamaluddin said a suicide bomber detonated explosives a few hundred yards (meters) from the tent, and that shooting between insurgents and Afghan forces was being reported. The only reported casualty was the bomber.

Security forces were rushing through the area and helicopters were flying overhead.

Some insurgents were shot, but reports were unclear as to how many, said a spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Joseph T. Breasseale.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Wednesday that a group of four suicide attackers disguised in Afghan army uniforms had opened fire in an attempt “to sabotage and destroy this peace jirga.”

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said Afghan forces were surrounding a house about 500 yards (meters) from the conference venue where militants were apparently holed up.

PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Security Cabinet Meeting


June 2, 2010

(YOUTUBE) Statement by PM Netanyahu Regarding Gaza Flotilla Clash

Gaza flotilla: Statement by PM Netanyahu

Photos : PM Netanyahu Visits Wounded Soldiers at The Hospital

(PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE)   “This was no peace flotilla but a violent and planned force.  We have film and pictures that underscore what our soldiers faced and the last thing that could possibly be said about that ship is that it was a peace ship.  Today, I visited the wounded fighters at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and I heard from them waiting for them on the deck of the ship were terrorists armed with cold weapons such as axes, knives, clubs, bars and the like, and it is likely that they also snatched weapons.  Our soldiers acted against them with equanimity and heroism.  We regret the loss of life – but give full backing to the soldiers and to the IDF regarding this action.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu explained why it is necessary to check ships transporting equipment and people to Gaza:

“We know from the experience of Operation Cast Lead, and from before it, that war materiel which enters Gaza is directed against our citizens.  In Gaza is an Iranian-sponsored terrorist state; therefore, we try to prevent the entry of war materiel into Gaza, whether by land, sea or air.  True, they smuggle war materiel through tunnels but smuggling via the sea is completely different, quantitatively.  On the Francop alone, we captured approximately 200 tons of war materiel smuggled from Iran to Hezbollah.  Opening a sea route into Gaza would constitute a great danger to the security of our citizens.  Therefore, we persist with a naval blockade and check the ships.  There is no possibility of maintaining this policy without checking ships’ cargoes.  True, there is international pressure and criticism of this policy but we must understand that it is vital in order to maintain Israel’s security and Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Obama In Crisis: Zzzzzzzzzzzz


Daily News-Record Home

June 2, 2o10

PRESIDENT BUSH’S HARSHEST critics often described his look during moments of crisis as “deer in the headlights.” After two years of Hope and Change, America has grown accustomed to President Obama’s crisis face: eyes glazed over.

At his first press conference in 308 days, Obama fielded questions about the Gulf oil spill, immigration, the war in Afghanistan and the mounting outrage over Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak’s job-trading allegations with a sluggishness bordering on geriatric. His aplomb was a bomb.

The commander-in-chief’s mumbling, diffident tone contradicted the “I CARE” message of urgency that drifted across the teleprompter screen and rolled languidly off his tongue.

“I am angry and frustrated,” he heaved. Rather unconvincingly. He was “singularly focused,” he asserted. Rather distractedly. The president did manage to work up enough energy to condemn BP and then turned to a moment of obligatory self-aggrandizement: “I’m confident that people are going to look back and say that this administration was on top of what was an unprecedented crisis.”

How “on top” was he? Well, not enough to take the time on Thursday morning before his much-hyped appearance to nail down the details of how and why his Interior Department Chief of the Minerals Management Service Liz Birnbaum was no longer in office. “You’re assuming it was a firing,” Obama told reporters. “I don’t yet know the circumstances.” He explained that he was preoccupied with other matters and couldn’t get ahold of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

When pressed to elaborate, he heaved again: “I don’t know.”

Then, addressing all the ignorant Americans who have failed to appreciate his rescue efforts, Obama mustered up a semblance of indignation: “Those who think we were either slow in our response or lacked urgency don’t know the facts. This has been our highest priority since this crisis occurred.”

And this is the Obama definition of accountability: blaming everyone else for lacking the Ivy League-honed comprehension skills to see the greatness of his fortitude and foresight.

How high of a priority did his administration really make the post-spill cleanup? After droning on haltingly about the federal failure to form an “oil … tracking … flow … group,” Obama admitted with a shrug: “There was a lag of several weeks that shouldn’t have happened.”

With more self-pity than compassion, Obama wrapped up the rare press conference with a disjointed, off-script ramble:

“But look, we’ve gone through a difficult year and a half. This is just one more bit of difficulty. And this is going to be hard, not just right now; it’s going to be hard for months to come. …

“You know, when I woke up this morning, and I’m shaving, and Malia knocks on my bathroom door, and she peeks in her head, and she says, ‘Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?’ — (soft laughter) — because I think everybody understands that, you know, when we are fouling the Earth like this, it has concrete implications not just for this generation but for future generations. …

“And in case anybody wonders — in any of your reporting, in case you’re wondering who’s responsible, I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down.

“That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away or the way I’d like it to happen. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to make mistakes. But there shouldn’t be any confusion here. The federal government is fully engaged, and I’m fully engaged, all right?”

Not waiting for an answer (or for any more nettlesome questions), he hurried off for a quick photo-op pit stop in the Gulf on Friday before jetting to Chicago to keep a high-priority promise to be back in his hometown for Memorial Day weekend.

Rough men stand ready to keep and defend our well-being and safety. Someone wake President Obama when it’s over.

Black boxes in Poland crash reveal pilots warned


Flight recorders of the Tu-154 that crashed on April 10 killing Poland’s president and 95 others are on display at Russian Interstate Aviation Committee in Moscow, Monday, May 31, 2010.



June 2, 2010


WARSAW: Poland has published cockpit conversations of the final minutes before the April plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski, revealing that pilots decided to land in heavy fog despite warnings from air traffic controllers about poor visibility.

A transcript of the last 39 minutes of the flight also shows that a Foreign Ministry official, Mariusz Kazana, entered the cockpit and made remarks indicating that the president was involved in deciding whether or not to make the difficult landing.

There have been suspicions in Poland that Kaczynski might have pressured the pilot and co-pilot to risk a dangerous landing to keep from being late to a memorial ceremony for Poles massacred by the Soviet Union 70 years ago.



A flight recorder tape from the crashed TU-154 Polish military plane is displayed at a laboratory of the Intergovernmental Aircraft Committee in Moscow May 31, 2010.



The black boxes, which contain some indecipherable information, do not settle that matter definitively, but they do suggest that the pilots might have been distracted by the presence in the cockpit of non-crew members.

According to the transcript published on Tuesday, the dangers became clear about 25 minutes before landing, when an air traffic official told the Polish crew: “The conditions for landing do not exist.”

Later, Kazana, the chief of diplomatic protocol, entered the cockpit and Capt. Arkadiusz Protasiuk told him: “Sir, the fog is increasing. At the moment, under these conditions that we have now, we will not manage to land.”

Kazana is quoted as answering: “Well, then we have a problem.” “We can hover around for half an hour and then fly off to a backup” airport, the captain replies, later naming Minsk and Vitebsk, two cities in Belarus, as backup options. The crew was also told by the Russian control tower that a Russian Ilyushin plane had abandoned two landing attempts and had flown to another airport.



Flight recorders of the Tu-154 that crashed on April 10 killing Poland’s president and 95 others are on display at Russian Interstate Aviation Committee in Moscow, Monday, May 31, 2010.


It’s not clear if Kazana left the cockpit and then returned, but a few minutes later he says: “There isn’t a decision from the president yet about what to do next.”

Polish and Russian investigators have not yet drawn final conclusions about what caused the crash that killed Kaczynski and 95 others, many of them top civilian and military leaders, but evidence has so far pointed to pilot error and bad weather conditions, and the black box recordings seem to further support that theory.

The government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk was eager to publish the report in order to quell suspicions about the cause of the crash and conspiracy theories that have surfaced in the tabloids. Some Polish tabloids have suggested that Russia has something to hide, even though Polish officials have repeatedly praised how Russians have responded and helped investigate the tragedy.

The 40-page transcript, released in Russian and Polish, showed that the plane’s warning system told pilots in the two minutes before the crash outside the western Russian city of Smolensk that terrain was ahead and urged them eight times in the final 16 seconds of the flight to “pull up, pull up” — instructions the pilots did not heed until it was too late.

When one wing clipped a tree, which caused the plane to flip and crash, voices in the cockpit screamed and cursed. That was the last information recorded on the black boxes, which then fall silent.

The pilots were warned several times by air traffic control officials that visibility in the fog was limited to about 1,300 feet (400 meters).

The transcript also shows that the pilots were communicating with the crew of a plane carrying Polish journalists that landed at the airport earlier that morning. They mainly discussed the thick fog, with the crew that landed earlier saying that that situation has worsened, but also saying the plane carrying the president could try to land.

Edmund Klich, Poland’s envoy to the investigation, confirmed last week that one of two voices in the cockpit not belonging to a crew member was that of the Polish Air Force commander, Gen. Andrzej Blasik. The transcript refers to the presence of Blasik in the cockpit, but does not attribute any words to him.

Klich said that Blasik spent a few minutes in the cockpit and remained there until the end. “He wanted to know what the situation was,” Klich said.

Klich said that psychologists were trying to determine if Blasik’s presence in the cockpit pressured the pilots to attempt a risky landing.

Rocket attack as Karzai launches Afghan peace bid



June 2, 2010


KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai launched an ambitious peace plan on Wednesday that he hopes will persuade Taliban fighters to lay down their arms, but the insurgents demonstrated their disdain by firing a rocket as he addressed a traditional gathering in the capital.

Unpopular at home despite an election victory last year that was mired in controversy, Karzai called a “jirga” of tribal leaders, elders and other notables to forge national consensus for overtures to the Taliban.

But minutes after he began unveiling his plans, a rocket landed in an open field near the giant marquee where the event was being held. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

“Sit down, nothing will happen,” Karzai told nervous delegates as some stood to leave. “I have become used to this,” said Karzai, who has survived at least three assassination attempts. “Everyone is used to this.”

The sound of gunfire could also be heard around the venue as Karzai finished his speech and left in a convoy of armored vehicles.

The peace jirga, as the centuries-old gathering is known in Pashto, has drawn 1,300 delegates, but noticeably absent will be representatives of the insurgents — although there will certainly be sympathizers.

With the insurgency at its most intense since their U.S.-led overthrow in 2001, the Taliban remain confident they can outlast the latest foreign invasion in Afghanistan’s long history of conflict.

“Obviously, the jirga will provide yet another pretext for America to continue the war in Afghanistan, rather than bringing about peace in the country,” the Taliban said in a statement on the eve of a gathering to which they had not been invited, but would not attend if asked.

Their confidence comes despite a surge in U.S. forces that will push the size of the foreign military to around 150,000, with an offensive planned in coming weeks to tackle the Taliban in their southern heartland of Kandahar.

But following its rapid disengagement from Iraq, the United States is keen, too, to get out of Afghanistan, and President Barack Obama has said he wants to start withdrawing troops from July 2011.

Washington is also stressing an accompanying hearts-and-minds operation that it hopes will see better Afghan security and governance put in place. Corruption and incompetence by some officials have caused open friction with Karzai at times.

As a result, some diplomats and analysts are paying lip service to the jirga’s noble aims while doubting its effectiveness. Competing interests from Pakistan, India, Iran and even Russia further poison the atmosphere.

“This is a big week for Afghanistan,” said Mark Sedwill, NATO’s top diplomat in the country.

The man Karzai beat for the presidency last year, Abdullah Abdullah, dismissed the jirga out of hand, although he said he would not call for a boycott.

“The outcome of the jirga will not take us anywhere toward peace, even not close to it,” Abdullah said.

“The agenda is not known to people, the norms are not known, people invited to the jirga do not represent the people. This event sounds to me like a PR exercise.”

The key points of Karzai’s plan call for an amnesty for rank-and-file Taliban who renounce the insurgency and agree to the constitution. To encourage them, they would be offered training and jobs on development projects in their home areas.

He also wants the names of certain Taliban officials removed from a United Nations blacklist and for others to be allowed to seek sanctuary in a friendly Muslim country. This would allow him to seek a more direct approach to the leadership.

IDF: Flotilla supplies unecessary

 IDF: Flotilla supplies unecessary
June 2, 2010


Twenty-four hours after the last ship from the Gaza protest flotilla entered Ashdod Port under the watchful eye of the Israel Navy, all of the equipment on board was examined, and a majority had been loaded onto trucks headed to the Kerem Shalom border crossing.

The flotilla’s flagship, the Mavi Marmara, where the battle between Israeli commandos and activists took place and which held the participants’ personal belongings, had yet to be fully inspected.

In a statement to reporters at the port on Tuesday, Col. Moshe Levi, commander of the IDF’s Gaza Strip Coordination and Liaison Administration, said that none of the equipment found on board the three cargo ships was in shortage in Gaza.

“We have been working non-stop for the last 24 hours, examining the cargo holds of the three large cargo ships, and I can say with great assurance that none of the equipment on board is needed in Gaza. The equipment that we found is all equipment that we have regularly allowed into the Strip over the past year,” Levi said.

“This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole premise of the voyage was for propaganda and provocation and not for humanitarian purposes.”

Maj. David Elmaliach, also from the Coordination and Liaison Administration, said that no guns, rockets or explosives were found on any of the ships.

The three cargo ships were docked in Ashdod Port, guarded by soldiers and port security personnel.

Among the equipment that the IDF agreed to show reporters were medical supplies, including electric vehicles for handicapped people, wheelchairs, stretchers, hospital beds and boxes of medicine. The army also showed crates full of dry food products and toys.

Levi said that eight trucks full of equipment from the ships had already crossed into Gaza and that 20 more trucks would be transferred throughout the night and the following day.

The soldiers also found construction equipment, including sacks of concrete and metal rods. Levi said that Israel did not allow those products to enter the Gaza Strip for fear that they would be used to build fortifications for terrorists and to make weapons.

Gidi Gofer, head of the Defense Ministry’s international transport division, said the equipment in the cargo ships did not have proper transport manifests or any of the paperwork required to legally ship cargo by sea.

“The cargo did not meet international safety or operational standards,” he said.

Gofer explained that his job was to oversee the security inspection of the cargo and that his team was doing this with the aid of bomb squads, explosive-detecting dogs and X-ray machines.

“We are currently liaising with the Palestinian Authority so that they will receive the approved equipment according to the agreed upon procedures,” he said. “The illegal construction materials were removed from the ships and will be held by us awaiting further instructions.”

Ashdod Port CEO Shuki Sagis said the port authorities had prepared to accept the ships in advance of their arrival, and that under the military’s supervision, they began unloading it on Monday evening.

“The cargo ships were loaded haphazardly, with all of the equipment mixed up in the large holds. Ships loaded in this way would not be accepted in any port. We are loading the equipment onto the trucks far more carefully than it was loaded onto the ships,” Sagis said.

IDF: Global Jihad links on flotilla

 IDF: Global Jihad links on flotilla



June 1, 2010

Dozens of passengers who were aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship are suspected of having connections with global jihad-affiliated terrorist organizations, defense officials said on Tuesday, amid growing concerns that Turkish warships would accompany a future flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

According to the defense officials, the IDF has identified about 50 passengers on the ship who could have terrorist connections with global jihad-affiliated groups.

During its searches of the Mavi Marmara on Tuesday, the military also discovered a cache of bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, as well as gas masks. On Monday morning, at least nine foreign activists were killed during the navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The group of over 50 passengers with possible terror connections have refused to identify themselves and were not carrying passports. Many of them were carrying envelopes packed with thousands of dollars in cash.

The military is working to identify the passengers and is looking into the possibility that some of them have been involved in terror attacks. Some of them are apparently known Islamic extremists.

“This is the group that was behind the violent lynch against the naval commandos,” a defense official said. “They came on board the ship prepared and after they had trained for the expected navy takeover.”

Late Tuesday, there were reports that Issam al-Budur, Jordan’s consul in Israel, reached an agreement with Israel according to which another group of 124 detained flotilla activists would be taken by bus to Jordan and sent from there to their home countries. The detainees are Jordanian, Mauritanian, Moroccan, Kuwaiti, Pakistani, Indonesian and Syrian.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Israel not to test Ankara’s patience.

“Turkey’s hostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable,” he said. “Israel in no way can legitimize this murder, it cannot wash its hand of this blood.”

This comment, officials said, could signify a change in Turkish military posture in the event that another flotilla is dispatched to the Gaza Strip. One official said that the chances that Turkey would send navy ships were slim – due to its membership in NATO – but that the issue was of great concern.

“This is a definite possibility that we need to prepare for,” a senior defense official said.

The flotilla that arrived late on Sunday night comprised six ships, and another two ships, including the Rachel Corrie, are expected to attempt to enter Israeli waters in the coming days.

Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the flotilla, said that two vessels, one a cargo ship and another carrying about three dozen passengers, would arrive in the region late this week or early next week.

“This initiative is not going to stop,” she said from the group’s base in Cyprus. “We think eventually Israel will get some kind of common sense. They’re going to have to stop the blockade of Gaza, and one of the ways to do this is for us to continue to send the boats.”

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen described the Rachel Corrie as Irish-owned and said it should be allowed to finish its mission, according to Reuters. The ship was carrying 15 activists, including a northern Irish Nobel Peace laureate.

“The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allow the Irish-owned ship… to be allowed to complete its journey unimpeded and discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza,” Cowen told members of parliament in Dublin.

Navy sources said that the ships sailing toward Gaza would be intercepted the same way the flotilla was stopped on Monday morning, although it had yet to be decided if the operation would be carried out by Shayetet 13, the navy’s commando unit.

“We are tracking the ships and are under orders to stop them,” a top navy officer said.

According to the sources, in a future operation, the navy would use more force.

“We boarded the ship [the Mavi Marmara] and were attacked as if it were a war,” one officer said. “That will mean that we will have to come prepared in the future as if it were a war.”

124 Gaza aid flotilla activists arrive in Jordan

An Israeli soldier stands guard as a bus carrying ...
An Israeli soldier stands guard as a bus carrying activists crosses the Allenby Bridge crossing point between Israel and Jordan, early Wednesday, June 2, 2010.
June 2, 2010


ALLENBY BRIDGE, Jordan – Dozens of pro-Palestinian activists detained in the Israeli raid on the Gaza aid flotilla said upon arriving in Jordan Wednesday that they were roughed up and humiliated before Israel deported them.

The 124 activists from 12 Muslim nations — most of them without diplomatic ties with Israel — crossed the Allenby Bridge aboard five Jordanian buses. The bridge across the Jordan River, which is under Israeli control, links Jordan with the West Bank.

“The Israelis roughed up and humiliated all of us — women, men and children,” said Kuwaiti lawmaker Walid al-Tabtabai, who was on board one of the ships with other activists from Muslim countries.

“They were brutal and arrogant, but our message reached every corner of the world that the blockade on Gaza is unfair and should be lifted immediately,” he added.

The bearded lawmaker said there “was not a single weapon with the passengers aboard all the ships.”

Algerian Izzeddine Zahrour said Israeli authorities “deprived us of food, water and sleep and we weren’t allowed to use the toilet.”

“It was an ugly kidnapping and subsequently bad treatment in Israeli jail,” he said. “They handcuffed us, pushed us around and humiliated us.”

Mauritanian Mohammed Gholam said Israel “wanted us to sign documents saying that we entered Israel illegally.”

“We refused to sign anything and told our captors that we didn’t wish to go to Israel, but to Gaza and that their commandos kidnapped us from international waters,” he added.

An Algerian activist, who only gave her first name as Sabrina, accused Israeli commandos of taking a 1-year-old child “hostage.”

“They point a gun to his head in front of his Turkish parents to force the captain of our ship to stop sailing,” she said.

Jordanian government spokesman Nabil Al-Sharif said there were 30 Jordanians in the group. Jordan is one of two Arab nations with a signed peace treaty with Israel.

The bridge’s Jordanian chief, Brig. Mahmoud Abu Jumaa, said Jordan will help repatriate the activists — who also include journalists — to their respective countries in coordination with their governments.

Kuwaiti ambassador Sheik Faisal Al Sabah said there were 16 Kuwaitis aboard the buses. “They will be flown home aboard a Kuwaiti government-chartered plane later Wednesday,” Al Sabah said.

He said the other activists came from Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Yemen, Oman and Bahrain.

Dozens of other activists remain in Israeli detention, but most are expected to be deported in the coming days.

Worldwide condemnation has poured on Israel since its naval commandos halted the aid flotilla in international waters overnight Monday, setting off a melee that left nine activists dead and dozens wounded. Turkey, an unofficial backer of the flotilla, has led the criticism, accusing Israel of committing a “massacre,” and the U.N. Security Council demanded an impartial investigation.



Japan PM Hatoyama intends to resign: report


June 1, 2010

(Reuters) – Unpopular Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama intends to resign, public broadcaster NHK said on Wednesday, after a slide in the polls threatened his party’s chances in an upcoming election.

Calls have built up in Hatoyama’s Democratic Party for him to step down to revive the party’s fortunes ahead of an election for the upper house of parliament expected on July 11 that it must win to smooth policymaking.

Analysts have tipped outspoken Finance Minister Naoto Kan as the likely successor if Hatoyama quits after just eight months on the job.

Kan has in the past pressed the Bank of Japan to do more to fight deflation and has sounded more positive than Hatoyama about raising the 5 percent sales tax in the future to fund bulging social welfare costs.

That stance would be welcomed by investors worried about Japan‘s huge public debt, which is nearly 200 percent of GDP.

Political confusion, including the recent departure of a tiny leftist party from the ruling coalition, has distracted the government as it thrashes out a plan to cut huge public debt and a strategy to engineer growth despite a fast-aging population.

If Hatoyama resigns, he will be Japan‘s fourth straight leader to quit after a year or less in office.

Sarah Ferguson on Oprah: the duchess, the debts and the TV diva

Sarah Ferguson on Oprah


June 2, 2010


Oprah Winfrey, it is fair to say, is not easily fazed: she has made a multi-billion dollar empire out of engaging with extremes of human behaviour, whether talking to mass murderers or exploring sexual peccadilloes. But for a moment at the start of her interview with the Duchess of York she looked genuinely out of her depth.

“I can go into hyperventilation and a panic attack right now,” said Sarah Ferguson.

“Right now?” Winfrey replied, sounding alarmed.

“Yes, right now.”

“Well, try not to,” Winfrey shot back, evidently thinking that if she didn’t get a grip on this interview from the beginning she never would.

In the end, there were no panic attacks or hyperventilations during the hour-long Oprah Winfrey show broadcast by ABC today. But a picture of the duchess emerged from the conversation in the hotel room in Los Angeles that will no doubt reinforce some of the negative images that have built up.

By her own admission, Ferguson is broke, desperate, self-loathing, self- abusing, stupid, idiotic, naïve and, frankly, rather kooky.

Winfrey opened by playing Ferguson the footage secretly filmed by the News of the World of her accepting $500,000 in return for her securing its undercover reporter access to her former husband, Prince Andrew. She had never watched the whole film before, she said, other than seeing snippets in airport lounges.

“I feel sorry for her, bless her. I feel really sorry,” Ferguson said as she watched the video, her face in her hand. “She looks exhausted. Sad really.”

It became clear, with a little teasing out from Winfrey, that Ferguson was referring to herself. Why was she talking about herself in the third person, Winfrey wanted to know. Was it, she might have added, the “royal we”?

No, it seemed to be rather the over-elaboration of a woman who has indulged in too much therapy. “I suffered from self-hatred and chronic abuse of myself from an early age. I’d tried to be perfect for 25 years or even longer, I tried to do everything right and little Sarah got lost along the way.”

Little Sarah said she fell into the trap of the News of the World’s entrapment supremo, the so-called Fake Sheikh, when she wanted to secure $40,000 on behalf “of a friend”. The reporter had assumed the identity of a friend of a friend of hers who is living in India and going through a painful divorce.

The duchess insisted that at their first meeting on 13 May she had been convinced the man was a reporter and vowed to have nothing to do with him. Yet, a week later, she met him a second time and, being somewhat “the worse for wear” from wine, had come up with the idea of adding on an extra $500,000 for herself to ease her financial straits.

“I think I was so out of my mind, beyond the point of desperation. This had been building up,” she said.

How much was she in debt, Winfrey demanded. Millions?

“I think I have a huge uphill battle,” came the politician’s answer, adding that she had moved into a room in Prince Andrew’s house because she could not afford rent and that she was now looking at bankruptcy.

Why wasn’t she given enough money in her divorce settlement to live the life to which she had been accustomed, Winfrey asked, evidently flabbergasted that a former royal was unable to live to the same royal standards that she, a TV billionaire, enjoys. “I chose friendship with the boss,” Ferguson replied.

“I think I’ve been a huge over-trusting idiotic stupid woman,” she concluded. Winfrey all but nodded.  (*)