Talk Nation Radio for March 26, 2009
Iran attack in offing?
3-27 2nd UPDATE: Israel has now admitted the Sudan attack, they claim it was to destroy an Iranian convoy carrying weapons to be shipped into Gaza via Egypt. There has been no confirmation from any source that has been named, that would identify which particular weapons they ‘destroyed’. Anywhere from 39 to 100 people may have been killed.
Here is a February piece from PressTV that claims: “Israel has supplied a rebel group involved in the Darfur conflict in Sudan with a considerable amount of weaponry.”
Unnamed sources have been cited in the Sudan attack story in one story after the next. What we do know is that the attack supposedly took place in January. Earlier reports on CBS indicated the US hit an Iranian convoy in Sudan, however, Israel actually carried out the attack.
Here fhttp://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/27/africa/sudan.php for example is a story about two unnamed US sources. It states: ” Two American officials who are privy to classified intelligence assessments said that Iran had been involved in the effort to smuggle weapons to Gaza. They also noted that there had been intelligence reports that an operative with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had gone to Sudan to coordinate the effort.” Also, “But one former official said that the exact provenance of the arms that were being smuggled via Sudan was unclear.”
This story by Arron Klein also cites unnamed sources, this time claiming Hamas has confirmed the supposed weapons delivery.. “A source within Hamas,” he says, “has admitted a weapons convoy in Sudan meant for his Islamist organization was struck by a missile in January.”
–The story mentions all of the same sources used in previous stories beginning early on the 26th.
Haaretz has had the most comprehensive coverage, though their reports too seem incomplete when it comes to documentation, facts.. A Ynet story
Published 3/26 finally names a Hamas source who denies that there were weapons being smuggled to them via Sudan. See: “A senior Hamas official denied reports that a convoy of trucks allegedly attacked by Israeli planes in January was bearing weapons for Gaza. Salah al-Bardawil told the Quds Faras news agency that these were false reports meant to justify an attack on Sudan.”
The early sources on this story cite information from Sudanese officials. Thus far statements from the Bashir government in Khartoum to the international press have been viewed as largely rhetoric, not credible, particularly with regard to statements made by Bashir himself on the question of the ICC, International Criminal Court, and their issuance of a warrant for his arrest for war crimes in Darfur.
“Luxembourg FM at EU summit: Israel must know that it’s not allowed to walk away from peace process.”
The outgoing Israeli PM Ehud Omert has claimed, “Israel hits every place it can in order to stop terror, near and far.” His adoption of the style and manner of former US President George W. Bush sounding ominous for two reasons. First, the Obama administration, President Obama himself, has stressed diplomacy in his dealings with Iran. Second, as we’ve said previously, Israeli forces are in Iran on a covert operation. There is no way to know the stage of this operation, or whether or not Israeli leaders intend on expanding it. What we can know is that US intelligence sources have said that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, yet newly powerful Israeli leaders keep suggesting they have one.
Where would an Israeli attack on Iran take US forces in the region? Unclear, but what is clear is that an Israeli attack on Iran would likely cause civilian deaths and right now it seems the US under President Barack Obama is not embracing the idea that war with Iran is necessary or a good idea. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has in fact said it is a bad idea.
Meanwhile in the interview below you will hear a comment from Ran Yaron, Director of the Palestine Division, PHR Israel, that the EU would be the best entity to investigate Israel’s actions in Gaza. Here is a recent Reuters story reprinted in Haaretz about the EU’s message to the Israeli leadership.
“Asked how a failure to commit to the goal would affect EU-Israel ties, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said: “Relations would become very difficult indeed. At one of our next ministerial meetings we would have to discuss what consequences the EU would draw from that.” ”
The piece also notes, “Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn said a long-mooted upgrading of EU-Israeli trade and political ties depended on Israel achieving a peace deal with the Palestinians.”
The EU had been in the process of working out an upgrade of Israel’s standing, but has put that on hold.
2-26 UPDATE: It appears that while some are reporting a US Air Force attacked Iranian convoy in Sudan, (CBS) here is seems that Israel and Olmert may be taking credit for the attack. See: Israel sends message to Iran, By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent and here for threat from Olmert at Herzliya conference.
Listen to this week’s show here.
Ran Yaron, Director of the Palestine Division, PHR Israel, Physicians for Human rights group documents Israeli violations of medical ethics and war crimes.
Over the past few months we have been reporting on Gaza and the hundreds of civilians who have born the brunt of massive air and ground attacks by the Israeli IDF, Israeli Defense Force. Our decision to cover Gaza this extensively springs from an awareness that the US corporate press, FOX, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, NBC, have offered little intensive coverage of this war that has taken 1450 lives already, most of them civilians, and left at least 5,000 wounded.
Ran Yaron of Physicians for Human Rights Israel joins us for the half hour. He is an Israeli and director of the division on the Palestinian Occupied Territories, as we begin to discuss the painful subject of Israeli war crimes, and PHR’s reports that Israel also targeted medical personnel as they tried to help the wounded.
While the US press may not have covered Gaza extensively, the European press has, particularly in London. The Guardian’s Clancy Chassay spent a month in Gaza investigating war crimes and he and Julian Borger produced three short documentary films for the Guardian UK web site March 25th. (More from Guardian’s Peter Beaumont here. (See: The international criminal court is considering whether the Palestinian Authority is “enough like a state” for it to bring a case alleging that Israeli troops committed war crimes in the recent assault on Gaza: here and here and Haaretz story on Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur to Palestine, asks UN Security Council to investigate Israeli actions in Gaza here and here Falk seeks ICC investigation.) * more below.
In the Guardian films we hear Palestinian medics explain that they were fired upon by snipers, by IDF soldiers in helicopter gun ships, and by IDF air crews dropping fleschette laden rockets.
Fleschettes are small nails, and one shocking report describes the scene as an ambulance driver tries to load a man whose legs have been blown off into the ambulance, but the medic dies, his body filled with nails. There is report after report that the Israeli soldiers shot directly at ambulances and ambulance drivers trying to collect wounded civilians.
The Israeli Military commented to them as follows in a written message that indicates that the Palestinians took risks upon themselves when they went out in ambulances to try to save civilians, this due to the “special conditions of urban warfare” in Gaza.
In fact, Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians have relatively few personal weapons and no air force, no artillery, no ground force, no standing arming. They have been occupied over 60 years, and if you look at the map of Gaza you will see how Israeli settlements have eaten away at the land that was once farmed by Palestinians.
Over the years various Israeli leaders have exaggerated the threat posed by Palestinians, according to political analysts. Israel was also charged with exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
See Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, story by By Richard H. Curtiss, where he says an “Israeli legislator Yossi Sarid, now a member of the pro-peace opposition Meretz Party,” [called] “for a parliamentary inquiry on the performance of Israeli intelligence services. In addition, Curtiss notes, Peter Enav pf Salon Magazine reported, that “the article proved that Israeli intelligence assessments on Iraq caused Israel considerable damage by compelling it to prepare for ‘threats that did not exist.’” ”
In 2005, a US Government report by Sherifa Zuhur, of the Strategic Studies Institute states: “HAMAS? Its forces were estimated in Gaza at only 5,000 to 6,000 fighters, which were just a fraction of the 168,000 of the IDF.”
Moreover the report notes:
In March 2005, “Shaul Mofaz accused HAMAS of
obtaining Strela (SA-7) shoulder-fired anti-aircraft
missiles. Charges that HAMAS is gaining and
stockpiling weapons in Gaza, including anti-aircraft
missiles, are periodically reprinted in the Israeli press,
with no ascertainable accuracy. However, the Qassam
rockets that fell periodically on Sderot and surrounding
Negev towns were real. Some American analysts also
support the idea of an Israel reconquest of Gaza, with
the justification that the group was building its strength
and weapons capacity. –This argument makes sense
only if one would also call for a new Israeli invasion
of Lebanon, or for requiring an action by a UN force
to disarm Hizbullah. None of these actions will lead
to peace or security, and will not result in an end to
HAMAS or Hizbullah.”
Numerous calls for investigations of Israeli War Crimes:
A series of reports have come out documenting Israeli war crimes in Gaza, there are international demands for independent investigations. Israel has been moving to the hard right. The 2008 election swept in the hard right Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman, along with new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The coalition forming with Netanyahu will have support from the Labor Party, but it is support organized by Defense Minister Ehud Barack, who has been controversial in Israel’s labor Party as a militant. The Labor Party has been fracturing as a result.
Many political analysts we have been interviewing over the past few weeks have warned that Israeli leaders seem determined to attack Iran, regardless of new US intelligence reports confirming that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, does not have a nuclear weapon or rockets to carry one, and has no present plans for one. The Obama administration has been set back in it’s own efforts toward negotiations as the Israel Lobby, AIPAC, has pushed to eliminate moderate Obama appointees like Charles W. Freeman. A story in Haaretz today offers allegations that are becoming common in the Israeli press as one newly powerful leader after another accuses Iran of having a nuclear weapon anyway. Israel today is in short much like America in late 2002 as the Bush/Cheney administration used propaganda to convince Americans that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to 9/11. In fact, Al Qaeda was not welcome in Hussein’s Iraq.
But regardless of the politics, the details of civilian deaths in Gaza speaks for itself about the trend Israel’s military is moving in. Over 1400 deaths, most of them civilians, including many children, killed in air strikes, burned by White Phosphorus dropped by Israel, an illegal weapon, or shot at point blank range by Israeli soldiers. Israeli soldiers have in fact come forward to talk about the shootings, the targeting of civilians, and have revealed that there was an undercurrent of racism to the attacks on Palestinians civilians. Certain orders were also given that are now being reviewed as compelling soldiers to carry out war crimes.
The international pictures have not been shown by corporate US press but they are in fact very difficult to look at. There is two year old Amal, her sweet face framed in a lovely red blanket, still charming enough to invite kisses and hugs, but Amal os dead. She died in an Israeli rocket attack in Gaza in early January. There are many like her. At massive demonstrations in London, protesters including some famous artists like Annie Lennox, held up these types of photographs as they called for investigations into the IDF’s actions.
On Friday March 27, 2009 we will air a one hour special, an interview with Ellen Brown on her book, Web of Debt. In this dramatic discussion we learn more details on what derivatives are, who controls the international banking system, and why the failure occurred plus advice on what the Obama administration can do to really straighten things out. Investors take note that we will also hear Ellen Brown’s assessment of the current status of Wall Street.
When President Obama criticized Israel’s blockade preventing even food getting into Gaza, the outgoing Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, gave in and lifted the blockade against all food. Israel is now under pressure to allow medical supplies in.
In the coming weeks we will outline some of the risks to Israeli and US security. Anti-American sentiment has swelled dramatically after the Gaza War. US President Barack Obama recently commented on CBS that Bush and Cheney policies on things like torture also turned many people against the US. However, Obama has now been criticized for not speaking out about the brutality exacted against civilians in Gaza. We will be looking at where things stand as Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition takes power in Israel, and newly powerful Israeli hard liners talk about an attack on Iran.
** Haaretz has reported Richard Falk’s allegations as follows: Israel’s alleged “targeting of schools, mosques and ambulances” during the December 27-January 18 offensive and its use of weapons including white phosphorus, as well as Hamas firing of rockets at civilian targets in southern Israel. He also charged Israel with further violations of the Geneva Conventions due to the 20 month long blockade of the coastal strip of 1.5 million people.
According to Haaretz, the UN’s Richard Falk has also alleged that the: “aggression was not legally justified and may represent a “crime against peace” – a principle established at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi criminals, according to the American law professor who serves as the Human Rights Council’s independent investigator.”
See Israel admits killing 189 children according to The Telegraph of London, rights groups like Human Rights Watch report illegal use of White Phosphorus. And there are differences over how Israel reports statistics on civilian casualties.