Sunday, 29 March 2009

French foreigh minister calls Gaza 'open-air prison'

From Press TV

France has warned that the Gaza Strip cannot remain an 'open-air prison' forever, urging Israel to lift the blockade on the territory.

Tel Aviv should 'permanently' open Gaza's border-crossings, said French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Eric Chevallier, IRNA repored. more

Al Qassam Brigades threatens to take more IDF soldiers

The Palestinian resistance in Gaza has made it known that the Al Qassam Brigades will seize more Israeli soldiers if Israel refuses to free Palestinian prisoners.

In a statement yesterday Hamas's Ra'ed al-Attar told reporters that "if Israel does not accept the demands to free 1,450 prisoners for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, al-Qassam would imprison more soldiers."

Shalit was taken prisoner by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip in 2006. Hamas said it will free the Israeli soldier when Israel releases 1,450 Palestinian prisoners from its custody.

"Hamas movement is not intending to make any concessions concerning its demands to finalise the prisoner-exchange deal, and if this soldier (Shalit) is not enough, we would take more," al-Attar said.

Meanwhile Israel has denied that it has re-opened negotiation on the prisoner exchange.

George Galloway on Canada ban and US tour

By George Galloway - Pic Fred Chartrand

THE CANADIAN immigration minister Jason Kenney gazetted in the Sun on March 20 that I was to be excluded from his country because of my views on Afghanistan. That's the way the right-wing, last-ditch dead-enders of Bushism in Ottawa conduct their business.

Kenney is quite a card. A quick trawl establishes he's a gay-baiter, gung-ho armchair warrior, with an odd habit of exceeding his immigration brief. Three years ago, he attacked the pro-western Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora for being ungrateful to Canada for its support of Israeli bombardment of his country. Most curiously of all, in 2006 he addressed a rally of the so-called People's Mujahideen of Iran, a Waco-style cult, banned in the European Union as a terrorist organization.

On one level, being banned by such a man is like being told to sit up straight by the hunchback of Notre Dame or being lectured on due diligence by Conrad Black. On another, for a Scotsman to be excluded from Canada is like being turned away from the family home.

But what are my views on Afghanistan which the Canadian government does not want its people to hear? I've never been to Afghanistan, nor have I ever met a Taliban, but my first impression into the parliamentary vellum on the subject was more than two decades ago. At the time, the fathers of the Taliban were "freedom fighters," paraded at U.S. Republican and British Tory conferences. Who knows, maybe even the Canadian right extolled these god-fearing opponents of communism. I did not, however.

On the eve of their storming of Kabul, I told Margaret Thatcher that she "had opened the gates to the barbarians" and that "a long, dark night would now descend upon the people of Afghanistan." With the same conviction, I say to the Canadian and other NATO governments today that your policy is equally a profound mistake. From time to time and with increased regularity, it is a crime. Like the bombardment of wedding parties and even funerals or the presiding over a record opium crop, which under our noses finds its way coursing through the veins of young people from Nova Scotia to Newcastle upon Tyne. But it is worse than a crime, as Tallyrand said, it's a blunder.

The Afghans have never succumbed to foreign occupation. Heaven knows the British empire tried, tried and failed again. Not even Alexander the Great succeeded, and whoever else he is, minister Kenney is no Alexander the Great. Young Canadian soldiers are dying in significant numbers on Afghanistan's plains. Their families are entitled to know how many of us believe this adventure to be similarly doomed and that genuine support for troops--British, Canadian and other--means bringing them home and changing course.

To ban a five-times elected British MP from addressing public events or keeping appointments with television and radio programs is a serious matter. Kenney's "spokesman" told the Sun, "Galloway's not coming in...end of story." Alas for him, it's not. Canada remains a free country governed by law, and my friends are even now seeking a judicial review. And there are other ways I can address those Canadians who wish to hear me.

More than half a century ago Paul Robeson, one of the greatest men who ever lived, was forbidden to enter Canada, not by Ottawa but by Washington, which had taken away his passport. But he was still able to transfix a vast crowd of Vancouver's mill hands and miners with a 17-minute telephone concert, culminating in a rendition of the "Ballad of Joe Hill." Technology has moved on since then. And so from coast to coast, minister Kenney notwithstanding, I will be heard--one way or another.

What you can do in the US

George Galloway is on a brief speaking tour of the U.S. Look for meetings and events in the following cities and universities.

March 27

March 28
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

March 29
Muslim Link newspaper benefit, Washington, D.C.

April 5
San Jose, Calif

April 6
San Diego, Calif.

April 7
Garden Grove, Calif.

From Socialist Worker (US). The article first appeared in the Guardian

Lawyers for George Galloway are in Canadian Federal Court today hoping to overturn the ban. Organisers have prepared a Plan B in the event George is not let in to Canada, despite the fact that he will be touring the US. The first meeting of the tour in Canada is in Toronto on Monday.

Racist IDF T-shirts reveal attitudes and actions - Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera video on the racist Israeli T-shirts

Israeli drones behind air strike on Sudan

The Sunday Times is confirming from western diplomatic sources this morning that Israel did launch an air strike inside Sudan in January on what it claimed was a suspected weapons convoy headed for Gaza via Egypt.

Our report earlier in the week, spoke only of an airstrike, quoting Sudanese rebel forces, but the Sunday Times now reveals that it was in fact an Israeli drone that launched the attack.

The Sunday Times says the 'Iranian' convoy was carrying Fajr3 missiles with a range of at least 40 miles would bring Tel Aviv and Israel's nuclear facilities at Damona. It is likely that the resistance has been trying to get longer range missiles and will persist in attempting to do so - a further sign of the strategic weakness at the heart of Israeli military planning:
Israel used unmanned drones to attack secret Iranian convoys in Sudan that were trying to smuggle rockets into Gaza. The missiles have the range to strike Tel Aviv and Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona, defence sources said.

The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) attacked two convoys, killing at least 50 smugglers and their Iranian escorts. All the lorries carrying the long-range rockets were destroyed. Had the rockets been delivered to Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza, they would have dramatically raised the stakes in the conflict, enabling Palestinians to wreak terror on Tel Aviv.

According to western diplomats, Israel attacked the Iranian convoys at the end of January and in the first week of February in the remote Sudan desert, just outside Port Sudan. The convoys had been tracked down by agents from Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence agency. more
The aftermath of the bombing - from Al Jazzera