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ISSUE: #. 29. April 14, 2002


By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent

1. Powell Meets Arafat in Occupied Ramallah
2. Mass Graves Reported in Jenin
3. Desperate Resistance in Jenin
4. Nablus: Casbah in Ruins
5. Bethlehem Stand-Off Continues
6. B'Tselem Documents IDF Abuses
7. Human Rights Groups: "Operation Defensive Wall" Illegal
8. Press Protests Restrictions
9. Medical Aid for Besieged West Bank
10. Hezbollah Attacks Keep Powell From Lebanon Border
11. Hardliners Demand Forced "Transfer"
12. Affirmative Action for Suicide Bombers
13. Israel's "Smoking Gun" a "Damp Firecracker"?
14. Media Watchdog Documents NYT Double-Standard
15. Edward Said: Sharon's Logic Reflects Bush's
16. ...Which is Just Fine with Thomas Friedman
17. Protests in London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt
18. De Facto European Arms Embargo?
19. Cyber-Censorship of Palestinian Authority
20. Peace Through Transplantation?

1. Terror Attack in Tunisia?
2. Terror Attack in Yemen?

1. Opening Shots of New Opium War
2. Violence Widespread as King Prepares Return
3. US Soldier Killed, "Peacekeeper" Wounded
4. Shattered Afghan Families Demand US Compensation
5. Four Dead in Assassination Attempt on Defense Minister
6. Dostum Proposes Ethnic Division of Afghanistan
7. Rebellion on Iran Border
8. No Central Authority in Afghanistan
9. Technocrats Optimistic
10. Afghan Leader Pleads: Send Money!
11. Mullah Omar Ready for Comeback
12. Osama "Safe and Well," to "Resume Activities"

1. French Military Aid to Kyrgyzstan
2. Uighur Militants Sentenced in Kyrgyzstan
3. Expanding Gobi Desert: Harbinger of Ecological Cataclysm

1. Activist Attorney Lynne Stewart Arrested by Feds in NYC
2. FBI Harassment of Palestinian Activist in NYC
3. FBI Harassment of Colombia Solidarity Activist in Chicago

1. Rep. McKinney Demands Investigation of Bush-9-11 Links


US Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat in besieged Ramallah April 15--much to the chagrin of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Meanwhile, Israel's "Operation Defensive Shield" continued, with a disputed Palestinian death toll in the hundreds, as well as 25 Israeli troops dead. The meeting, also attended by US envoy Anthony Zinni, was portrayed as Arafat's reward for a statement denouncing the suicide bombings (AP, CNN, April 15). 40 international peace activists holed up in Arafat's compound hoped to witness the meeting, but were herded by Powell's US diplomatic security bodyguards into one room and told to stay out of sight. Netta Golan, the only Israeli in the group, said, "Everyone here has taken into consideration that there is a high probability we might die." Water and electricity has not been restored to the compound, and much of it has been destroyed. (NY Daily News, April 15)

Arafat's statement read in part:

"The Palestinian leadership and His Excellency President Arafat express their deep condemnation for all terrorist activities, whether it is state terrorism, terrorism by a group or individual terrorism. This position comes from our steady principle that rejects using violence and terror against civilians as a way to achieve political goals. We declared this position beginning in 1988 and also when we signed the Oslo accords at the White House, and we have repeated it several times before, including our declaration on Dec. 16 last year. After that, we did not find any Israeli response but more Israeli escalation, a tighter siege, further occupation of our people, refugee camps, cities, villages, and more destruction of our infrastructure. We strongly condemn all the attacks targeting civilians from both sides, and especially the attack that took place against Israeli citizens yesterday in Jerusalem. We also condemn very strongly the massacre that was committed by the Israeli occupation troops against our refugees in Jenin and against our people in Ramallah, Nablus and Tulkarem and also the brutal aggression against the church in Bethlehem during the last two weeks. We call on the international community, the UN Security Council and Mr. Colin Powell to undertake an international peace mission in the region to investigate these massacres against our people... On behalf of the Palestinian people, we once again emphasize our full commitment to a fair and just peace between the two peoples and two states as a strategic choice--peace that could provide security for the Israelis and liberty and freedom in an independent state for the Palestinian people..." (AP, April 13)

A front-page New York Times analysis April 14 said US and Israeli officials agree "the Israeli operation on the West Bank is a sweeping counterinsurgency that given enough time could reduce but not end Palestinian bombing attacks... Israeli officials acknowledge that military action alone cannot halt bombings if the Palestinians are determined to resist. To stop the attacks, some sort of political accommodation is needed, they say." On page 14, it said Palestinians are angered by "what they perceive as a double-standard from Washington": constant pressure to condemn the suicide bombings, yet no condemnation from Washington of the hundreds of Palestinian casualties of Operation Defensive Shield--"which the Palestinians refer to as state terrorism."

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) boast of breaking up Islamic Jihad and al-Aksa Brigades hide-outs on the West Bank, and claims to have arrested an accomplice in the Netanya Passover bombing. Sharon still says he needs several weeks to finish the operation, and proposed a defensive buffer zone around Palestinian-controlled areas. The Times says military experts see the "asymmetric warfare" between the "well-trained and well-equipped" IDF and "bands of militants" with home-made explosives "represents a new type of Arab-Israeli conflict." (NYT, April 14) [top]

Palestinians accused the IDF of bulldozing dozens of bodies into a mass grave at the Jenin refugee camp. The Palestinians have informed international organizations about the claims, including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps oversee the camp. The IDF denied the allegations. The Palestinian Authority expressed fears Israel is trying to hide the large number of dead. The IDF has blocked medical teams from evacuating the dead and wounded from the camp during the past week. (Haaretz, April 14)

Palestinians also say there were extra-judicial executions in the camp--an accusation likewise denied by the IDF. There are also widespread reports of homes occupied by Israeli troops, with the males all rounded up, apart from very young boys. The Jenin camp is home to 13,000, and Ariel Sharon has called it "a hornets' nest" of terrorism. UNRWA estimates that 2,000 to 3,000 have fled their homes at the camp. (BBC, April 12)

Reports Palestine Monitor: "It has now been confirmed that Israeli troops have committed a massacre in Jenin. The Israeli army admits several hundred people have been killed, but Palestinians fear the numbers are much higher. Israel is now attempting to cover up its crime by removing the bodies of the dead from the camp and burying them in the northern part of the Jordan Valley, in a secret location. For ten days not a single journalist, nurse, doctor, international Red Cross team or observer has been able to reach the site of the massacre. No representative from UNWRA, the UN body responsible for the camp, has been permitted to visit the area... Most of the 15,000 residents of the camp have been killed, injured or completely dispossessed of their homes and shelter. The camp has been destroyed." ( April 12) The deputy governor of Jenin, Haider Rashid, confirmed that Israeli troops are bulldozing houses. He put the number of dead at 200 and the homeless and displaced at 3,000 minimum. (ibid, April 10) Palestine Chronicle also reports of mass summary executions and people buried alive by bulldozers in Jenin. ( April 12)

The New York Times reported the IDF intended to bury Palestinian gunmen in an "enemy's cemetery" in the Jordan Valley, with Palestinians charging an attempt to cover up a "massacre." Member of the Knesset Ahmed Tibi said removing the bodies was a violation of international law. The Israeli High Court has issued an injunction halting removal of the bodies pending a hearing. The court also ordered state prosecutors to investigate charges of a mass grave at Jenin. (NYT, April 14)

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is said to be concerned about international reaction when the world learns the details of what happened at Jenin, and is said to have privately referred to the battle as a "massacre." (Haartez, April 9)

Ariel Sharon dismissed the massacre accounts as "lies" of the "Palestinian empire of falsehood." Said Sharon of the Palestinians: "They look you in the eye and lie." . He said that not a single body has been buried. Sharon said reports of a massacre are "ridiculous." Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told the cabinet the number of Palestinians killed in Jenin was in the dozens, not the hundreds. (Jerusalem Post, April 15) [top]

In a coordinated combination ambush/suicide attack, 13 Israeli reservists of the elite Golani brigade died in a battle at the Jenin refugee camp on April 9. The bomber was chased by soldiers into an alley, where he set off his explosives-laden belt, killing three immediately. The rest died when mines placed on the walls of the surrounding buildings brought them down on the troops, or were killed by snipers who opened fire from a nearby rooftop. The approximately 20 snipers escaped. The IDF commander watched the whole incident helplessly as an unmanned drone flying overhead filmed it. The ambush brought the Israeli toll in the Jenin fighting to 23, by far the bloodiest day for the IDF in Operation Defensive Shield. The suicide bomber was evidently quite young. Former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu initially reported he was only ten: "You know how they were killed? A 10-year-old boy was strapped with explosives and sent by Arafat's goons to explode. This is the kind of monstrosity we're dealing with." Netanyahu later said the boy could have been as old as fourteen. (Jerusalem Post, Daily News, April 10) (David Bloom) [top]

In Nablus, the ancient Casbah is in ruins after a bloody battle between IDF forces and Palestinian militants who had taken refuge there. Reported the UK Guardian April 9: "The stench of blood and rotting corpses carried far beyond the green mosque where the bodies were laid out, tightly wedged together like firewood: young men, perhaps Palestinian fighters, and those with the sagging paunch of middle age. At last, after five ferocious days of fighting in the vaulted stone alleyways of the old town, the Israeli army yesterday allowed Palestinian medical workers to take the 62 wounded to hospital and carry away the dead. Twenty-six corpses awaited them; five had bled their lives away into the stained mattresses strewn beneath the chandeliers of the Jamal Bek mosque, which has been converted into a makeshift hospital and morgue." The Guardian reported April 11 that hundreds of Palestinians surrendered at al-Ayn refugee camp near Nablus after five straight hours of ground-fire from tanks, and missile-fire from helicopter gunships. [top]

Israel says the standoff at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity could be resolved if the gunmen inside agree to a face trial in Israel--or accept permanent exile. A Palestinian police officer in the church denounced the proposal. "We will never accept being refugees in another country or surrendering to the Israelis," said officer Mazan Hussein. "Our options are to die or to return safely to our homes." The IDF, meanwhile, is attempting to put psychological pressure on the gunmen, playing the sound of screaming sirens from a large truck-mounted speaker just outside the church. A Palestinian was shot dead April 13 in a hostel within the church compound. IDF troops entered the hostel and fired several shots, reportedly hitting Hassan Nasmam, a Palestinian civilian, in the neck. About 250 people are inside the church, including gunmen, Palestinian police officers and clergy. (AP, April 14)

The Franciscan order has asked Israel to allow some of the 200 armed Palestinians sheltering in the church to leave unharmed. The Roman Catholic order in the Holy Land also called for water and electricity to be urgently supplied to the complex, which has been besieged since April 2. An Armenian monk at the complex was seriously wounded by an Israeli bullet April 10. An IDF spokesman admitted responsibility, saying the monk, now in a Jerusalem hospital, had been dressed in civilian clothes and "looked armed." (BBC, April 12) [top]

A report by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem documents massive abuses by the IDF in Operation Defensive Wall, including:

Mass detention and torture: "Since the beginning of operation 'Defensive Wall,' the IDF has detained thousands of Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories. In many cases, mass detentions were conducted according to broad criteria of age and gender, thus many Palestinians were detained simply because they were present where detentions were being carried out and not because they were under suspicion. On April 5, 2002, B'Tselem received information from an Israeli source about difficult conditions and the use of torture during interrogations in the Ofer military camp located near Ramallah. The army has issued a sweeping order denying detainees the right to meet with lawyers... B'Tselem, together with three other Israeli human rights organizations, filed an urgent petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice demanding that detainees be allowed to meet with lawyers and that the court forbid the use of physical force against the detainees during interrogation. Following a short court hearing on April 7, 2002, the court rejected the petition."

Use of civilians as human shields, and obstruction of medical treatment: "On March 8, at approximately 1:00 PM, six IDF soldiers entered the al-Baq Mosque in the old city of Nablus, where an emergency clinic had been established. According to the information provided to B'Tselem by Dr. Zahara el-Wawi, a doctor at the clinic, the soldiers entered the mosque with their guns resting on the shoulders of Palestinian civilians who were forced to march in front of the soldiers as 'human shields.' The soldiers separated the medical staff from the patients, searched the dead bodies, and checked the identities of the injured patients."

Overcrowding and humiliating treatment of detainees: "There are 1,000 detainees held in Ofer military camp, between 1,000 and 1,500 at Megiddo military prison, 100 in the detention facility in Salem, opened near Jenin and several dozens in permanent detention facilities in the West Bank. Detainees released from Ofer reported harsh holding conditions. Among other things, they reported insufficient food, overcrowding, being cold, humiliation and beatings. Some of the detainees are forced to sleep on wooden planks and thin mattresses. With the increase in the number of detainees, each one has a 40-centimeter wide space to sleep in, and some do not even have that... On Sunday [April 7], the High Court of Justice rejected a petition of four human rights organizations which demanded to be allowed into the Ofer military camp." The report also cited numerous accounts of civilians killed in indiscriminate fire, often by missiles fired from helicopters. (B'Tselem ) [top]

Three prominent international human rights groups released the following joint statement April 7 : "Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists want to send a clear, unambiguous message to all parties to this conflict, and to the international community. Stop the deliberate targeting of civilians and other persons protected by international humanitarian law. Stop actions that harm them. Immediately deploy international monitors to protect the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis. As a fully-fledged State and as an Occupying Power, Israel has clear obligations under international law, and in particular under the Fourth Geneva Convention. This Convention provides for security measures that can be taken to protect itself, but these do not include the excesses now undertaken by the Israeli government. We strongly deplore actions by the state of Israel that harm persons protected by international humanitarian law. These include prolonged curfews with severe restrictions on the movement of people and access for medical personnel; intensified collective punishments; wanton damage to homes, cars and civilian property; looting and theft; and the coerced use of civilians to assist military operations. Such actions violate international standards and transcend any justification of military necessity... Even in the face of this situation, we are appalled by an increase in the use of suicide bombers by armed Palestinian groups to attack Israeli civilians. Such deliberate attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited by international humanitarian law. These actions tarnish the Palestinian cause and will not at all help the situation... Over the past week there have also been increasing signs of a breakdown in law and order within Palestinian territories as well, including the street-killing of alleged collaborators with Israel." [top]

International media watchdog organizations lambasted Israel for barring reporters from occupied towns and cities in the West Bank. A statement by the International Press Institute (IPI), co-signed by six media groups, said Israel's "prolonged attempt to seal off entire cities, where hundreds of thousands of people live, has been excessive, unjustifiable and utterly counterproductive." The Foreign Press Association in Israel, the World Association of Newspapers (Paris), and Reporters without Borders (Paris) were among the groups signing the statement. Reporters without Borders accused Israeli authorities of "treating many journalists as 'enemies'" and "doing everything they can to hide their military operations and accompanying abuses from the world media." The statement also called on "Palestinian factions" to cease intimidating journalists and attempting to confiscate media footage. (Haaretz, April 10) [top]

The newly-formed National Medical Aid Committee for the Palestinian People is working with the Red Cross, Red Crescent, local hospitals and the United Palestinian Medical Relief Committees to coordinate collecting medical supplies--and defying the siege to deliver them to Ramallah, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, other occupied towns. For donations, make wire transfer to:

National Medical Relief Committee
Bank Mercantile Discount Branch #620, Shefa-Amr.
Account # 52914
Swift Code: BARDILITA [top]

Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerillas fired more anti-tank missiles and mortars at IDF bases on Mount Hermon and Mount Dov in northern Israel. There were no casualties reported, but an IDF tank was damaged. On April 5, US Secretary of State Colin Powell was visiting the Northern Command's base in Safed at the time of a Hezbollah attack, and Powell canceled a scheduled visit to the Lebanese border. Powell called on "all states that can influence Hezbollah, especially Syria, to do what is in their power to restrain Hezbollah, and stop these actions, before the conflict expands, and has destructive consequences for the whole region." (Haaretz, April 7) [top]

Signs reading "Only Transfer!" and "No Arabs, No Attacks" are popular at right-wing demonstrations in Israel. One recent poll indicated 46% of Jewish Israelis favor expulsion of the Palestinians living in the territories through force or coercion. (Haaretz, April 8) At one right-wing demonstration in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, on March 11, the popular slogan was "We want war"--which the daily Haaretz says "has become the general sentiment of the Israeli public." (Haaretz, April 7) [top]

There were two suicide bombings in Israel this week, the first since March 31, the day before Operation Defensive Shield began. On April 10, a suicide bomber killed himself and 8 others on a bus in the Haifa suburbs. Hamas claimed responsibility. (NYT, BBC, April 10) On April 12, a suicide bomber struck a market in Jerusalem, killing six. This was the fourth female suicide bomber, all sent by the al-Aksa Martyr's Brigade, a branch of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction (see WW3REPORT#26). The first, Wafa Idris, 26, of Ramallah, killed one in Jerusalem on Jan. 27. According to AFP, it is now believed she was delivering a bomb to someone else that went off prematurely, but she is seen as the first in this trend (AFP, April 12). The second, Dareen Abu Ish, 21, a student in Nablus, killed a border policeman at a checkpoint near Jerusalem on Feb. 27. She had asked Hamas to send her, but turned to al-Aksa when she was refused (Newsweek, April 15). The third, Ayat al-Akras, 18, from Dehieshe refugee camp, killed two at a Jerusalem market March 29. The fourth is Andaleb Tataqah, 20, from Beit Fahar. (NYT, April 14). Al-Akras' father said: "May God forgive her for what she has done." (Newsweek, April 15) In addition, Israel claims there have been two foiled female suicide bombers, Shera Kudasi, 26, in Tulkarm, sent by "Fatah's armed branch" (AFP, April 12), and a 30-year-old woman from Azoun apprehended near Kfar Saba. Officials say the woman, who was not carrying explosives at the time, was headed to carry out a suicide mission inside Israel. (Jerusalem Post, April 15)

The nationalist al-Aksa Bridages began using suicide bombers this winter, taking their cue from their fundamentalist rivals in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas spiritual leader Shiek Yassin has been quoted as saying, "we will start using women when we run out of men" (Newsweek April 15). The al-Aksa Brigades have reportedly set up a bureau to process female recruits for suicide missions (Newsweek, April 15). This Ramallah-based bureau was reportedly shut down by the Israeli army during Operation Defensive Shield. The IDF said it found a list of "several dozen young women [who] had signed up." The woman said to be in charge of the bureau is being sought by Israel's Shin Bet internal security service. (NYT, April 14)

170 Israelis have been killed by over 60 suicide bombers since the Intifada began in Sept. 2000 (not counting this week's attacks). While a 1995 poll found that only 20 % of Palestinians supported suicide bombing, a recent poll suggests the figure now stands at 80%. (Newsweek, April 15) (David Bloom) [top]

Nigel Parry writes for The Electronic Intifada that Israel's "smoking gun" supposedly linking Arafat to the suicide attacks is "not even a damp firecracker." A summary of the April 4 investigation of the document reportedly taken from Arafat's besieged Ramallah compound states:

"There are two problems with the document that undermine Israeli claims that it links the Palestinian Authority/Arafat to terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians:

"1) The list of people in the document are not suicide bombers as claimed. We have verified 4 out of the 7 mentioned are people Israel in fact assassinated. This is easily verifiable with Lexis-Nexis and Internet searches. Variation in spellings of names and limited time are our biggest obstacle to finding out the status of the last 3.

"2) The explosives are 'dual use.' While suicide bombings are clearly one possibility, this document was dated 16 September 2001. At that time, according to the IDF's own website, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades was not committing suicide bombings. Rather they were blowing up Israeli tanks as they entered their refugee camps... [M]ilitary vehicles attacking the camps are universally considered under international law to be legitimate targets for people resisting military occupation." [top]

The New York-based media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) continues to document the New York Times' double standard on Israeli and Palestinian violence. Reads the group's latest missive, dated April 12:

"How many Palestinian lives equal one Israeli life, according to the editors of the New York Times? The main headline on the front page of the New York Times' April 10 final edition was 'At Least 8 Killed In Suicide Bombing On A Bus In Israel.' The late edition, which is available to more readers, had '13 Israeli Troops Killed in Ambush; Bus Bomb Kills 10,' in the 36-point headline size that the paper reserves for what it considers major events. Six paragraphs into the story, the paper provided this additional information: 'More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in Jenin, the Palestinian town that has brought the stiffest resistance to the broad Israeli sweep through the West Bank. Many of the Palestinian dead still lie where they fell.' By its headline choice, the Times suggested that the deaths of 23 Israelis (or eight, in the final edition) are more important than the deaths of 100 Palestinians. But even those ratios may understate the greater weight that the editors place on Israeli casualties. Beneath the main headline in the late edition were two subheads: 'Worst Army Toll' and 'A 14th Soldier Is Killed in Separate Attack at a Refugee Camp.' The Times might have used one of the subheads to acknowledge the deaths of more than a hundred Palestinians, but evidently noting the death of a single additional Israeli soldier was considered more newsworthy.

"One might suggest, in the New York Times' defense, that large numbers of Palestinian deaths have been a constant since Israel's military invasion of the West Bank began on April 1, whereas the deaths on April 9 were the first time since the offensive began that Israelis--civilians or combatants-- had seen casualties on that scale. But when were the hundreds of Palestinians killed considered to be major, front-page news by the New York Times? A review of the page A1 headlines used by the Times since the March 29 start of the invasion reveals a striking lack of references to the Palestinians killed in the Israeli operations. Generally the headlines were antiseptic: 'Israelis Broaden West Bank Raids as Arabs Protest' (4/2/02); 'US Envoy Meets Arafat as Israel Steps Up Its Sweep' (4/6/02). When an April 5 headline used the word 'carnage,' it was not a reference to the scores of Palestinians dying in the ongoing Israeli attack, but to a suicide bombing that had killed three (including the bomber) a week earlier. One April 4 front-page subhead, 'Bleeding to Death,' did allude to Israeli killing of Palestinians--under the 'balanced' headline, 'Arabs' Grief in Bethlehem, Bombers' Gloating in Gaza'-- but this was an exception to the general trend. There's more to news than front-page headlines, of course, and the Times has done some valuable reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on its inside pages. Front-page headlines are, however, a clear indicator of what a paper's editors consider to be the most important events of the day. In the case of the powerful and prestigious New York Times, these headlines can set news agendas around the world. The Times should not use its front page to send the message that some lives matter more than others." (FAIR ) [top]

Ariel Sharon told Haaretz on March 5: "The PA is behind the terror... Arafat is behind the terror. Our pressure is aimed at ending the terror. Don't expect Arafat to act against the terror. We have to cause them heavy casualties and then they'll know they can't keep using terror and win political achievements."

Responded Palestinian commentator Edward Said: "...Sharon's words indicate the failures of reason and criticism loosed on the world since last September. Yes, there was a terrorist outrage, but there's more to the world than terror. There is politics, and struggle, and history, and injustice, and resistance and yes, state terror as well. With scarcely a peep from the American professorate or intelligentsia, we have all succumbed to the promiscuous misuse of language and sense, by which everything we don't like has become terror and what we do is pure and simple good--fighting terror, no matter how much wealth, and lives, and destruction is involved." (Edward Said in Counterpunch, March 24) [top]

New York Times war propagandist Thomas Friedman wrote in his column March 31: "Israel needs to deliver a blow that clearly shows that terror will not pay." [top]

Thousands attended protests in European cities April 13 to express solidarity with the Palestinians and denounce Operation Defensive Shield. 15,000 marched through central London, some carrying posters depicting Ariel Sharon behind bars and comparing him to Adolf Hitler. A rally of 10,000 in Amsterdam's main square turned violent, as protesters smashed store windows and battled police in riot gear and shields, some on horseback, who waded into the crowd swinging batons. 10,000 attended demonstrations in Germany, with the largest gathering in Frankfurt. (Haaretz, April 14) [top]

Britain has imposed a de facto arms embargo on Israel for the first time in 20 years, official sources told the Guardian 13. The ban applies to military equipment that could be used in Israel's continuing operations in the Palestinian territories. France has also quietly suspended sales of certain arms, according to another source. The moves by European powers emphasize Israel's growing isolation from its allies and make it more dependent on US largesse. Speaking to reporters in London, the German defense minister, Rudolf Scharping, confirmed reports that his country was refusing export licenses for tank parts and other equipment for Israel. While insisting Germany was not imposing a formal arms embargo, he said Berlin has delayed shipments at "this crucial time." The Guardian also cited a report in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that Germany had embargoed 120 parts necessary for the construction of Merkava tanks. Britain formally embargoed arms to Israel following its invasion of Lebanon in 1982. [top]

The Palestinian Authority web page web page is down. Logging on, one finds the following "IMPORTANT NOTICE":

"Due to disruptions of Palestine-based web-servers as a result of the Israeli invasion of Palestinian towns, you may have arrived here while trying to access a different website. The hard-working technical staff maintaining webs-servers on the ground are dealing with shoot-to-kill curfews, no electricity thanks to Israeli military cut-offs of the power, and other severe obstacles. Until these issues are resolved some sites are temporarily redirecting their URLs here, where you can find information from a Palestinian point of view. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. In the meantime, welcome to The Electronic Intifada..." [top]

Last week, WW3 REPORT cited a glimmer of hope: the transplant of a kidney from Zeev Vieder, an Israeli killed in the Passover suicide attack, to Aisha Abu, a Palestinian woman. An article currently posted on the website About Transplantation cited the recent case of an Israeli man, near death due to heart failure, who received the heart of a Palestinian killed in the West Bank fighting. Writes About Transplantation: "Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims--at least if one is to believe the religions of their ancestors--come from a common ancestor, the patriarch Abraham... This...ought to make life a little easier for transplant surgeons due to the common genetic heritage (and therefore similar tissues) of these two distinct cultures...." ( [top]


Local Jews held a solemn sabbath service amid the blackened interior of their historic Tunisian synagogue April 13, two days after a gas-laden truck exploded, killing 16 people--4 Tunisians and 12 German and French tourists, including an 11-year-old boy and an 18-month-old baby. Leaders of Tunisia's Jewish community are perplexed about the April 11 blast at the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Jerba. German Interior Minister Otto Schily told ZDF TV: "The latest information and indications we have been getting from both inside the country and outside have pointed increasingly towards an attack." Schily said German federal police officials were on the case and denied suggestions the Tunisian government was sticking to initial claims that the blast was accidental. "The situation on both sides is that this was more than likely a deliberate attack," said Schily. He added that a senior official of Germany's Federal Crime Office had coincidentally been in Tunisia when the attack took place, and assisted in the investigation. Tourism Minister Mondher Zenaidi visited the synagogue April 13, the highest ranking government official to do so, and reiterated the official line of a "tragic accident." "Until the investigation is finished, there should be no speculation," he said in response to reporters' questions. "Tunisia is a country of tolerance, respect for differences and respect for religions." Regional Governor Mohamed Ben Salem said the tanker was stopped by synagogue guards as it approached the grounds and was ordered to turn around, but hit the outer wall and exploded. Rene Trabelsi, son of the synagogue's president, said witnesses, including four rabbis praying at the time, spoke of hearing three separate blasts. The only recollection of an anti-Jewish attack in Jerba was the Oct. 8, 1985, killing of three people in the island's business district by a Tunisian policeman--apparently to avenge the Israeli raid a week earlier on PLO headquarters, then housed outside Tunis. The raid by six Israeli planes left at least 61 Palestinians and 12 Tunisians dead. (AP, April 14)

Eyewitnesses quoted by the Tunisian News Agency (TAP) said the driver of the truck in the April 11 incident seemed to ignore a security officer's order to stop, instead speeding up to hit the synagogue. A tourist bus took much of the force of the explosion. Ghriba's foundations are said to date from 586 BC, making it one of Africa's oldest synagogues. It attracts several thousand visitors for an annual spring festival. Djerba, off Tunisia's southeast coast, a popular vacation spot, is home to around 1,000 of Tunisia's 3,000 Jews. The Jews of Djerba have lived quietly on the island for nearly 2,000 years in two small villages. By tradition, their forefathers fled Jerusalem following the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. Many Jews left Tunisia following the creation of Israel in 1948; others followed when the synagogue in Tunis was burned down during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. (BBC, April 12)

A May 17, 2001 Panafrican News Agency report on the website Islam for Today said that the annual Djerba festival, known as El Ghriba, drew 1,300 pilgrims from throughout North Africa--down from 2000's 7,000 as a result of tensions over the Israel/Palestine crisis. [top]

On April 12, a small bomb exploded near the home of a Yemeni security official involved in the hunt for supposed al-Qaeda terrorists in the country's remote interior mountains. Local residents said they heard a loud blast in the Sheraton district of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. Officials said no one was injured and no damage was reported. A previously unknown group calling itself al-Qaeda Sympathizers said it had planted another explosive device outside the house of the official, Mohammed Rizq al-Hamadani, a week earlier. The group did not claim responsibility for the April 12 explosion, but released a statement saying it had planted explosives near state security buildings "to send a message for 173 of our brothers jailed in the basement of state security headquarters who have not been charged with anything except belonging to al-Qaeda." The group also threatened to target high-level officials if the issue is not resolved within a month.

Security has been stepped up in the district, which also contains the US Embassy. The blast comes a month after an explosion outside the US embassy, itself a day after US Vice President Dick Cheney visited the country. No one was hurt in that incident, when two objects thrown at the building exploded, according to US officials. Yemen has been a White House security concern since an explosive-laden boat rammed the USS Cole in Aden harbor in October 2000, killing 17 sailors--an attack blamed on Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda. US military advisers have been dispatched to Yemen to help combat the alleged al-Qaeda presence. (BBC, April 12) [top]


Opium farmers in eastern Afghanistan opened fire on provincial officials surveying their fields as a government program to eradicate opium poppies began April 8 (see WW3 REPORT #28). At least one official was reported killed. Shenwari tribesmen also blocked the main highway to Kabul, pelting vehicles with rocks. The official in charge of security on the Pakistan-Afghan Highway was reported killed in the shooting in Marco. Four others were reported wounded. The new Afghan government is offering opium farmers about $500 an acre to destroy their crops. Farmers pledge to resist the eradication program because the sum falls far short of comparable market value for opium. There were also reports of violence at a protest against the program in southern Helmand province, with one farmer reportedly killed and two wounded when security forces opened fire. (AP, April 8)

The following day, protests escalated to gun-battles, as opium farmers fired on security forces, leaving dozens dead or injured. Protests outside the governor's office in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province, turned into stone-throwing attacks on security forces, and shops were burned, according to local authorities. Farmers claim fertilizer, seeds, tractor rental, water pumps, fuel and laborers cost them $800 an acre, and that opium eradication equals economic doom. (UK Guardian, April 10)

Meanwhile in Washington, in a message issued on Drug Abuse Resistance Education Day April 10, President George Bush declared, "When we fight the war on drugs, we also fight the war on terror." The UN Drug Control Program estimates Afghanistan produced over 70% of the world's supply of illicit opium in 2000. The latest US Justice Department report describes opium as the largest source of income in Afghanistan. (UPI, April 10) [top]

Tank, mortar and rifle fire echoed through a barren valley April 13 as a turf battle raged for a second day just west of the Afghan capital. In Kabul itself, British peacekeepers traded fire with gunmen, and in the south a rocket just missed the offices of the Kandahar governor. The unrest comes just days before Afghanistan's exiled king Zahir Shah is scheduled to return from Italy to help establish a permanent government for the devastated nation.

The fighting in Khoja Kotkai valley, 30 miles west of Kabul, pitted two Pashtun warlords, Gen. Zafar Uddin and Commander Nangiala, for control of a valley in Wardak province. The battle for Khoja Kotkai appears to reflect divisions within the interim government, with the defense and interior ministries (mostly filled by Northern Alliance commanders) supporting Uddin and interim prime minister Hamid Karzai supporting Nangialai.

In the capital, about 30 gunmen fired AK-47 assault rifles at a British contingent of international peacekeepers April 12, sparking a firefight, said Lt. Col. Neal Peckham, spokesman for the force. No casualties were reported. Peacekeepers said the armed men fled but 7 were later arrested and handed over to the interim government. Five were reportedly wearing Afghan police uniforms. In the southern city of Kandahar that night, a rocket missed the office of Gov. Gul Agha, exploding on the grounds of a nearby mosque, local authorities said. There were apparently no casualties. US Special Forces troops are housed in the governor's compound. (AP, April 13) [top]

Afghan officials reported a US soldier was killed in a grenade attack by suspected al-Qaeda militants near Gardez. Seven US troops were also injured when the assailants hurled grenades at a military post near the governor's office in Paktia province. There were reportedly at least two attackers--one Arab and one possibly Pakistani.

In a separate incident, the UK "peacekeeping" contingent in Kabul sustained its first casualty when a soldieer was shot and seriously injured while patrolling a crime-ridden area. Lt-Col. Neal Peckham, the military spokesman for the UK-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said a gun went off accidentally and the incident "did not involve any party outside of ISAF." In recent weeks, there have been numerous shooting incidents in Kabul. On April 7, two rockets were fired at a barracks used by the peacekeeping troops on the eastern edge of the city. No one was hurt. The wave of armed robberies in the area is blamed on demobilized Northern Alliance troops who took the capital in November. (BBC, April 9) [top]

Survivors of the US bombardment in Afghanistan handed in petitions from 400 families to the US Embassy in Kabul, part of a growing movement to demand compensation for the loss of their homes and kin. Dozens of families traveled to Kabul from throughout Afghanistan to tell stories of children maimed and whole households wiped out in the bombing. An 8-year-old girl named Amina, who lost 16 relatives in the bombing--her entire family except her father--handed the thick folder of petitions to consular official Michael Metrinko. The San Francisco-based group Global Exchange, which is supporting the victims in their claims, estimates some 2,000 families have suffered losses in the bombing. "It is the responsibility of the US government to do a survey and to help the innocent victims impacted by the air campaign," said Global Exchange's Marla Ruzicka. But the petitioners got only a brief meeting outside the embassy with Metrinko--and no promise of assistance. "I am telling them that we are trying, we hope we can help," he said. "But I cannot make a commitment." Juma Khan, Amina's father, a cobbler who borrowed money to travel from Khanabad, said he feared the trip was in vain. "He said he would try to help, but I don't know when," he said of Metrinko. (NYT, April 7) [top]

An explosion ripped through the convoy of Defense Minister Mohammed Qassim Fahim April 8, injuring many and killing at least 4 bystanders. Fahim was not injured. The motorcade was en route to Jalalabad on a scheduled visit to promote Afghan unity. Fahim was to meet with various local warlords to persuade them to incorporate their militias into a national Afghan army. A truckload of people covered in blood were taken to the nearest hospital. (AP, CNN, April 8) The remote-control bomb was reportedly placed in a kiosk where people were lined up along the road to greet Fahim, an ethnic Tajik, on his first visit to largely Pashtun Jalalabad since the interim administration took office in December. 15 were subsequently arrested in connection with the incident. (Reuters, April 10) [top]

Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum--a top Northern Alliance commander and now deputy defense minister--has released a draft program calling for the division of Afghanistan along ethnic lines. The document is officially authored by Dostum's party/militia, the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan (NIMA), a coalition partner in the ruling United Front, based mainly in the country's northeastern provinces. The Uzbek NIMA was widely perceived to have been snubbed at last year's Bonn conference which saw the formation of an interim government of ethnic-based factions after the fall of the Pashtun-dominated Taliban regime. Many of the key posts in the new authority headed by Hamid Karzai--a Pashtun--were handed out ethnic Tajik representatives who hold the dominant position in the Northern Alliance. Only later was Dostum appointed deputy defense minister and representative for Afghanistan's northern Uzbek enclave.

Now, just two months before the scheduled Loya Jirga, or tribal summit, to decide the shape of the new government, observers say Dostum's latest plan is an attempt to solidify his northern power base. The pan calls for a federal system for Afghanistan, with highly autonomous local divisions defined by ethnicity. Dr. Habib Mangal, a former Afghan ambassador to Moscow under the pro-Soviet regime, believes federalism could actually create more problems than it solves, as ethnic groups are not united nor evenly distributed across the country. In the five provinces controlled by the NIMA (Balkh, Saripul, Jawzejan, Fariab, Samangan) there are Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks and a minority of Pashtuns--who were encouraged to migrate from their eastern and southern strongholds in the early part of the twentieth century. While accepting the need for elected regional governments, Mangal states that only the "deepening of democracy, economic and social developments of the country can guarantee the right of nationalities to the political power." (Yasin Bidar for the Institue for War and Peace Reporting, April 11) [top]

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reports rebel commanders Abdul Rahman and Abdul Jalil launched an attack in southwestern Nimroz province April 8, and seized Guldana, near the Iranian border. Four militiamen loyal to Nimroz Governor Abdul Karim Barohi, a interim regime loyalist, were injured in the fighting. Some 300 reinforcements have been sent to put down the fighting. Control over a key trade route with Iran is at issue. (Dawn, April 11) [top]

Writes Wali Jan for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting: "A stroll through the center of Kabul might leave the observer wondering who is really running Afghanistan. The black, white and green flag of the Mujahedin flutters over the ministry of foreign affairs, while 50 meters down the road, the ministry of tribal affairs flies the flag of the former King Zahir Shah. It's a graphic illustration of how power in the country has yet to be centralized under the Interim Authority." The interim regime is dominated by Burhanuddin Rabbani's Tajik faction of the Northern Alliance, Jamiat-i-Islami, which had control before the Taliban took over in 1996. They are opposed by Pashtun militias in the south, as well as by rivals within the shaky Northern Alliance--Uzbeks in the north, Hazaras in the Hindu Kush. The regime had to intervene in early Jan, when the governor of the Paktia province, Pacha Khan Zadran, was driven out by the forces of Pashtun tribal leader Commander Saifullah. In the north, Jamiat-i-Islami Commander Atta has mixed it up with the Uzbek Islamic Movement of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum--deputy defense minister in the interim government. Neighboring countries are dividing up Afghanistan's turf. Nangarhar governor Haji Qadeer is said to be close to Pakistan; Herat's reigning warlord Ismael Khan has close links with Iran. "In most parts of Afghanistan, moneyraised in taxes is spent by commanders and influential people for their own benefit and does not reach the central bank," says Abdul Kader Fetrat, acting central bank governor.

A recent conference in Kabul to address the issue of centralism brought regional governors together for the first time in over 20 years. Karzai gave a keynote address at the gathering, which was also addressed by Ismael Qasimyar, in charge of convening the Loya Jirga. Delegates from the provinces drew a picture of local chaos. "We don't even know who our governor is," complained Mohammad Alam Mir Khail, from Wardak province. "Government employees haven't received any salaries for months and while some district chiefs are elected by the people, they have no budget to run their day-to-day affairs." (IWPR, April 11) [top]

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) issued a report on Afghanistan's economic prospects. The report found: "A daunting range of constraints must be overcome to sustain a long-run development drive." Most skilled professionals are either dead or in exile. Roads and airports are damaged, telephone and telegraph networks destroyed. Millions of people live in refugee camps outside Afghanistan. Agriculture has been devastated by three years of drought. Unexploded ordnance scatters the land. But the report predicted that "Afghanistan could experience a rapid economic revival." A total of $4.5 billion has already been promised by the international community, and the ADB projects "rapid growth over the next few years." But the ADB "warned that a system of internal governance and a financial system need to be quickly established to use the aid effectively." (BBC, April 9) [top]

Most of the $4.5 billion pledged to Afghanistan in reconstruction aid has yet to arrive, and officials are desperately seeking funds for the army, police and infrastructure. At a Kabul meeting on reconstruction, interim prime minister Hamid Karzai called on the world community to make good on promises. Lakhdar Brahimi, UN envoy to Afghanistan, called for donors to start coughing up or the chance for stability would be lost.. "The establishment of a well-trained, properly equipped national security force is an absolute priority right now," Brahimi said. (LAT, April 11) [top]

Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is apparently alive and delivering anti-US tirades on the Internet. The one-eyed cleric has not been heard of since shortly after the Taliban's rout last year. But Pakistan's Frontier Post ran an e-mailed communique from Omar charging that the US "entered our lands by stepping on the skulls and bones of women and children...used the strongest and ugliest tools of destruction--from immense bombs to weapons of mass destruction, which America banned all other countries from owning." (AFP, April 9) The communique is on-line at [top]

Terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is "safe and well"--and planning new attacks, according to a report in the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat picked up by the ANSA news agency. "Al-Qaeda's leader has gone abroad safely. Bin Laden is safe and well. He is preparing to work with his brothers," the letter said. The letter was addressed "to our Islamic state and to the heroic Palestinian people." It said "God has given permission to resume activities." The letter was dated March 26. Al Hayat, based in Lebanon and printed in London, circulates throughout the Middle East. (Times of India, April 10) [top]


French Defense Minister Alain Richard met with Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev and Defense Minister Esen Topoev in Bishkek, the capital, and promised an unspecified sum in aid for military training and drug enforcement. Richard also visited the French military contingent in the US-led forces for the Afghanistan campaign. The US-led coalition has established a major base at Manas airport near Bishkek (see WW3 REPORT #17). (RFE Newsline, April, 9) [top]

A lawyer for a Uighur activist from Turkey who was sentenced in Kyrgyzstan last December on charges of murder, kidnapping, and belonging to a terrorist organization said his client and three Uighurs sentenced with him will appeal their sentences. One Uighur from Uzbekistan was sentenced to death; three others--one from Turkey and two from China--received terms ranging from 16 to 25 years. The presiding judge said in December he was confident the sentences would not be overturned by a higher court. (RFE Newsline, April 9) The four were charged in the March 2000 murder in Bishkek, Kyryzstan's capital, of the head of the local Uighur organization, and in the May 2000 slaying of three visiting Uighur officials from China's neighboring Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The men were also accused of kidnapping a Chinese businessman in Osh and of belonging to a separatist Uighur organization based in China. (RFE Newsline, Jan. 3) China's Uighur minority, a Turkic and predominantly Muslim people, have been waging a sporadic separatist struggle against Beijing, and are accused of using the post-Soviet republics--particularly Kyrgyzstan--as a rearguard base of operations. Kyrgyzstan's crackdown on the Uighur militants is seen as a US-inspired move aimed at buying China's cooperation in the War on Terrorism. (See WW3 REPORT # 5, WW3 REPORT #13, WW3 REPORT #17). [top]

Schools were closed and flights cancelled due to poor visibility in Seoul, South Korea, as the city was engulfed in a vast cloud of what locals call "yellow dust," blown in off the fast-spreading Gobi and Taklimakan deserts in northwest China, nearly 800 miles away. An all-time record 2,070 micrograms of dust hit Seoul in the fourth storm of the season. Scientists say the dust storms, clearly visible as giant yellow blobs in satellite photos, are the result of rapid desertification in China's interior. China's Environmental Protection Agency documented that the Gobi advanced by 20,000 square miles between 1994 and 1999. With drought in its third year, the Gobi now starts just 150 miles north of Beijing. The dust blowing in off the deserts also binds with toxic pollutants as it passes through China's industrial heartland--including arsenic, cadmium and lead. Some of the dust has even been blown across the Pacific to California and Oregon--resulting in spectacular sunsets. Earth system scientist Charles Zender of UC Irvine said: "The puzzle of the Asian dust is a huge question in weather science right now, and if human activity is proven to be the cause, it stands to reason that this problem is going to keep getting worse." (NYT, April 14) [top]


Activist attorney Lynne Stewart and three others were indicted and arrested April 9 on charges of helping an Islamic militant imprisoned in Minnesota communicate with his followers in Egypt. The indictment accuses the defendants of supporting the Egyptian-based "Islamic Group" by passing messages "to and from the imprisoned Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman." It charges the communications with the sheik took place during prison visits and telephone calls involving Stewart and Mohammed Yousry, an Arabic translator who was also charged. Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a news conference announcing the indictments that the Islamic Group has "a message of hate that is now tragically familiar to Americans." Ashcroft identified the others charged as Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a Staten Island man called a "surrogate" for Abdel-Rahman; and Yassir Al-Sirri, former head of the London-based Islamic Observation Center. Al-Sirri was charged with "facilitating communications among Islamic Group members and providing financing for their activities." Ashcroft announced that the Justice Department had, for the first time, invoked the authority to monitor communications between Abdel-Rahman and his attorneys. "The sheik is a person whose leadership is substantial in the community of terrorists," he said. He admitted the indictment didn't allege any conversations concerning the 9-11 attacks. The indictment does charge "the Blind Shiek" Abdel-Rahman with issuing a 200 "Fatwah Mandating the Bloodshed of Israelis Everywhere." Abdel-Rahman, 63, is serving a life sentence for conspiring to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and blow up five New York City landmarks in the 1990s. (AP, April 9)

Released on $500,000 bail, Stewart--a 62-year-old veteran activist known for unpopular causes and despised clients--called the case against her an unconstitutional attack on attorney-client privilege, and pledged to make that the centerpiece of her defense. She suggested the Justice Department has no evidence. "I'm going to continue to be a lawyer, hopefully, until they carry me out," Stewart told the press. "I'm sincerely hoping it won't be the US government doing the carrying. (CBS News, April 11) [top]

Faruk Abdel-Muhti of the Palestine National Congress, a local New York City group, was being interviewed by Amy Goodman on WBAI Radio the morning of April 9, when FBI agents arrived at his home in Queens and attempted to carry out a search. BAI reported the harassment in a special noon update. [top]

Heather Truskowski, a member of Colombia Solidarity Committee (CSC), was visited by two FBI agents at her home in Chicago April 8. The agents, dressed in casual clothes, asked about Heather's activism in support of peace and justice in Colombia. She reported one agent said, "Because of increased security, we have to investigate individuals who are potentially associated with terrorist groups." The agent asked if she had traveled to Colombia, who she met with, how she raised funds for the trip, etc. The other agent acted as silent witness. Heather warns other activists to prepare for such a visit. "Don't be rude, but be firm. Refuse to speak with FBI agents. Give them your name and your lawyer's phone number. That is all." Heather's lawyer, Jim Fennerty concurred: "In thirty years of practice, only one FBI agent has ever made a follow up call to my office. Talking to the FBI will only create trouble for you. Even answering a seemingly safe question changes your legal relationship." (Fight Back News Service). [top]


Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) charged that Bush administration officials may have ignored advance warning of the Sept. 11 attacks, and their political allies have profited from the War on Terrorism. Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) called her statement "loony," as well as "dangerous and irresponsible." McKinney said the Afghanistan campaign has benefited investment firms specializing in defense contracts, and particularly singled out the Carlyle Group, where the president's father is an adviser (see WW3 REPORT # 2, WW3 REPORT # 21). (AP, April 13) Calling for an investigation, McKinney told KPFA Radio in Berkeley: "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on Sept. 11.. What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of Sept. 11? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?... What do they have to hide?" Retorted Bush spokesperson Scott McLellan: "The American people know the facts, and they dismiss such ludicrous, baseless views." (Washington Post, April 12) [top]





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