The Day In Israel: Tues Sept 15th, 2009

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Ha’aretz has reported that Israeli President Shimon Peres met secretly with lead palestinian negotiator Saeb “Massacre” Erekat last week in Jerusalem “in an effort to ease the way toward a tripartite meeting at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23” involving “US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”

Aussie Dave’s Rules of Middle East Diplomacy #65
: When Israeli and palestinian officials meet secretly, Israel is invariably in the process of doing something really stupid.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)



10:45PM: Tarantino in Israel.

10:22PM: A senior Hamas terrorist (or “armed military man” according to Richard Goldstone) involved in planning the 2002 suicide bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya, was arrested overnight.

9:58PM: Goldstone on Al Jazeera.

Pay special attention to Goldstone’s sarcastic response to the interviewer’s mention that Israel had dismissed the report (0:36), his trivializing of Hamas rocket fire on Israel (5:42), and his reference to palestinian terrorists as “armed military groups” (7:00).

9:35PM: Elder of Ziyon has some excellent rebuttals of the Goldstone report here.

If I find the time, I’ll endeavor to post my own. But it’s a pretty big if.

9:26PM: Judith Apter Klinghoffer on the implications of Goldstone:

International terror just received an amazing shot in the arm. A UN appointed committee has placed Israel and Hamas on the same moral/legal plain. By so doing, it has further increased the effectiveness of the terrorist strategy of using human shields.

What can be more beneficial to a Hamas, Taliban or Al Qaeda terrorist than surrounding himself/herself with captive, innocent civilians, especially women and children? Hence, the best location for a terrorist hideout is a hospital or, at least, a school. On the unlikely event that such a placement would fail to prevent a targeted killing, it would, at the very least, further his cause by undermining the moral, legal and, perhaps, even economic well being of the state seeking to defend its citizens. For such collateral damage is bound to bring down on such state (Israel, US, NATO members, etc.,) the wrath of the so called international human rights community.

In other words, Goldstone and company are insuring that terrorist organization such as Hamas no longer have a strategic interest in harming only as many Israelis as they can but also as many Palestinians as they are able.

8:10PM: Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, has called the Goldstone report’s findings even “harsher” than Israel could have imagined.

“We did not want to cooperate with the commission from the beginning, because its mandate has always been one-sided,” said Shalev. “The Human Rights Council is known as a body constantly critical of Israel.

“We knew the report would be biased and one-sided, but did not imagine that it would be so harsh,” she added.

6:50PM: The Jerusalem Post on the Goldstone report:

A UN war crimes investigation into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza has found evidence that both sides committed “war crimes,” the global body said Tuesday.

The investigation led by former South African judge Richard Goldstone concluded that “Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity,” during the Dec. 27-Jan. 18 Operation Cast Lead against Palestinian rocket squads in the Gaza Strip.

The report “concludes there is also evidence that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity,” by firing rockets at cities in southern Israel, the UN said.

Israel, which has refused to cooperate with the investigation, rejected the report’s conclusion.

“The mandate of the mission and the resolution establishing it prejudged the outcome of any investigation, gave legitimacy to the Hamas terrorist organization and disregarded the deliberate Hamas strategy of using Palestinian civilians as cover for launching terrorist attacks,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement distributed by the Israel’s mission to the UN in Geneva.

Hamas has been accused by Israel of using human shields during the conflict.

“Notwithstanding its reservations, Israel will read the report carefully,” the Foreign Ministry said, noting that the IDF had examined more than 100 allegations regarding the conduct of its forces during the Gaza operation, resulting in 23 criminal investigations.

NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg told CNN that the mission was essentially a “kangaroo court.”

The 575-page report, which was released ahead of its presentation to the UN Human Rights Council later this month, said Israel’s attacks in the Samouni neighborhood of Zeitoun, south of Gaza City, including the shelling of a house where soldiers had forced Palestinian civilians to assemble, amounted to war crimes.

It found that seven incidents where civilians were shot while leaving their homes trying to run for safety, waving white flags and sometimes even following Israeli instructions, as well as the targeting of a mosque at prayer time, killing 15 people, were also war crimes.

A “direct and intentional attack” on the Al Quds Hospital and an adjacent ambulance depot in Gaza City “may constitute war crimes,” the report said.

Several Palestinians told the mission they were used as human shields by the IDF, the report said, noting the case of Majdi Abd Rabbo, a 39-year-old intelligence officer of the Palestinian authority who was forced to walk ahead of the troops as they searched his and his neighbor’s house. Rabbo was forced to undress down to his underwear in front of the soldiers and his sons had to strip naked, the report said.

On the Palestinian side, the report found that armed groups firing rockets into southern Israel from Gaza failed to distinguish between military targets and the civilian population.

“Where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into civilian areas, they constitute a deliberate attack against the civilian population,” the report found.

“These actions would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Palestinian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

5:55PM: The Goldstone report is available here. It is 575 pages long, so knock yourselves out.

I’ll hopefully have time later to go through it, or at least the main findings. From what I’ve read so far, it is very problematic (as expected).

4:30PM: Justice Richard Goldstone, Head of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, is scheduled to give a press conference at 10AM EDT (5:00PM Israel time).

12:48PM: Introducing our latest weapon: Zionist Spiderbot of Death.TM

Even before the movie franchise existed, Spider-Man was known for his ability to scale great heights by shooting webs with his wrists that attach to buildings and allow him to swing for kilometers from one to the next.

Spider-Man’s agility recently inspired students in the robotics department at Ben-Gurion University to create a robot that can move like the superhero. The robot’s prototype, which recently took its first steps in a video posted on YouTube, is called Spiderbot.

Spiderbot is still far from matching its spiritual father’s speed: It weighs about 7 kilograms and stands at 30 centimeters tall; it is equipped with four grapplers that it can launch, detach and aim according to its path planning algorithm.

For the meantime, the prototype uses magnets that can attach to the ceiling, but the mechanism by which they attach can vary depending on the surface.

12:42PM: What took them so long?

The anti-Semitic blogosphere and many Arab and Muslim media outlets are aflutter in recent days over accusations of an international Jewish conspiracy to kidnap Algerian children and harvest their organs.

Unlike the multiple conspiracy theories about Jews circulating among radical fringe organizations online, this one seems to be gaining momentum on mainstream Arab and Muslim Web sites.

According to the story, first reported by Algeria’s Al-Khabar daily, bands of Moroccans and Algerians have allegedly been roaming the streets of Algeria’s cities kidnapping young children, who are then transported across the border into Morocco. From the Moroccan city of Oujda, the children are then purportedly sold to Israelis and American Jews, who then harvest their organs for sale in Israel and the United States. The organs are said to fetch anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000.

The source for the Al-Khabar report seems to be a Dr. Mustafa Khayatti, head of the Algerian National Committee for the Development of Health Research. Khayatti reportedly claimed that several Jews were arrested in New York in connection with the trade. He claimed Interpol knew of the situation and was leading the investigation into the abductions.

“The arrest of Jewish organ trafficking gangs does not mean that the danger has gone; top officials and specialists in this issue assert that there are other Jewish gangs who remain active in several Arab countries,” Khayatti was quoted as saying.

Picking up on the Algerian report, the official Iranian news agency PressTV claimed that the Jewish group “is said to be connected to Israeli Rabbi Levi Rosenbaum, who was recently arrested in New Jersey for the direct involvement in importing human organs.”

The report also ran without scrutiny on certain American news outlets, including the Web site of the California-based American Arab weekly Watan.

With its rapid online dissemination, the report has begun to draw fire from those worried about the ease with which such a story, lacking any evidence, can spread in the Muslim world.

The report “sounds as [though] Dr. Khayatti is well connected within the FBI and has access to Interpol documents,” but this was not the case, wrote Hassan Masiky, a reporter for the American Moroccan news service MoroccoBoard.com.

“Needless to say, neither Al-Khabar nor PressTV provided a source for their story, other than an obscure low-level Algerian bureaucrat,” Masiky complained.

“What is dangerous in this work of fantasy is the plot to package the true story of the arrest of Rabbi Levi Rosenbaum in New Jersey with the nonsense, nightmarish tale out of Algeria,” he said.

Masiky noted that the Algerian-Moroccan border was closed and carefully watched by the countries’ armies. It was therefore difficult to ascertain how such a plan could be implemented without help from the Algerian state.

“To their credit, the Algerian authorities, up until now, did not ask their Moroccan counterparts for an official investigation, as most Algerians ask themselves: Who are these kidnapped children? Where are their parents? Who conducts these organ harvesting operations? How are the children and the organs transported from Morocco to Israel? And more importantly, how can the Algerian army allow such illicit traffic to go unabated?” Masiky wrote.

The Iranian PressTV noted in its coverage that the report followed claims made in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet last month of an IDF conspiracy to harvest organs from kidnapped Palestinians.

The connection indicated “a possible link between the Israeli military and the mafia of human organs detected in the US,” the Iranian report said.

Aftonbladet, too, did not offer evidence in its article, relying on claims by a handful of Palestinians who spoke to the reporter.

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