Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Settlers being armed by military for attacks on West Bank protesters supporting UN statehood bid

(This Palestinian construction worker was attacked by masked settlers armed with iron bars and pepper spray - Maan Images)

Israeli settlers living in violation of international law in the West Bank have been issued stun grenades and tear gas by the Israeli military, in preparation for anticipated protests by Palestinians following the UN statehood declaration later this month.

The Israeli military has codenamed the planned attack on Palestinians "Operation Summer Seeds", which sounds much like the 2006 "Operation Summer Rains" in which 40,000 sound grenades and live missiles were dropped on the Gaza Strip over the course of the summer.

According to an internal Israeli government document leaked to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Israeli troops distributed maps with red lines drawn on them around Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with instructions to soldiers that if Palestinian protesters get too close to the settlements, they should be shot in the legs.

The instructions do not differentiate between non-violent demonstrations by Palestinians and violent attacks by Palestinians, instead implying that non-violent demonstrators would be subjected to being shot in the legs if they cross a 'line' whose location has not been shared with any Palestinians. more

Israel sends two warships to patrol Red Sea as Egypt hunts Sinai militants

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Tuesday it had sent two extra warships to patrol the Red Sea but it downplayed reports that they were connected to an Egyptian sweep of the Sinai peninsula for militants.

A military official said the deployment was routine but declined to say what operational duties the ships were performing.

"I can confirm that there are two naval craft in the Red Sea. This is not unusual," the official told Reuters.

Homefront Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Israeli security forces were on very high alert in the country's south and that Egyptian troops were acting against gunmen in the Sinai.

"There is a very specific alert that an Islamic Jihad organization wants to carry out an attack on the Egyptian border and we are taking this alert very seriously. It should be emphasized that the Egyptians are also acting," he said...

...Israeli warships are regularly stationed at a naval port in the resort city of Eilat at the northern tip of the Red Sea and patrol the area to the south as part of routine procedure to secure its borders.

The two ships were thought to have passed through the Suez Canal on their way to the Red Sea, although the Israeli military declined to confirm this. The only other way to get to the Red Sea would have been around Africa, a weeks-long voyage. more