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UN report accuses Syria of ‘gross human rights violations’
A United Nations inquire committee announced today that the Syrian government is guilty of human rights violations, reported the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot. The UN agency listed murder, torture and rape among the things it claims have occurred under the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Torture was applied equally to adults and children … Numerous testimonies indicated that boys were subjected to sexual torture in places of detention in front of adult men,” the report stated among other things.
The agency came to the conclusion after interviewing 223 victims, witnesses and even defectors. The UN is calling on the Syrian government to stop mass arrests, allow the media to freely cover the country as well as allow human rights workers and aid staff to enter.
—JointMedia News Service
‘150,000 missiles will be fired at Israel if it attacks,’ Iran official says
If Iran is attacked, 150,000 missiles will be launched at Israel, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Sunday in his most recent tirade against Israel.
During a speech to army volunteers in the southwestern city of Bushehr, Vahidi said, “Israel should be punished for its actions against Muslims in ‘Palestine’ and Lebanon,” in reference to what the Iranian regime calls the “massacres” in Sabra and Shatila and Gaza.
“The Zionist regime has not yet paid the price” for these incidents, Vahidi was quoted by the Tehran Times as saying. He added that if Israel attacks Iran, the Islamic Republic will take revenge.
In his speech, the Iranian defense minister also directed his threats at the U.S.
“Iran is not like Iraq or Afghanistan,” he said, and “if the Americans make a mistake with Iran, we'll teach them how to fight.”
—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service
PA condemns Balfour declaration with school-girl letters
The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information and its Ministry of Culture organized a workshop for high school girls in Tulkarem, a city in the West Bank, in which girls wrote letters to the British government and the royal family condemning the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinian Media Watch reported.
The Balfour Declaration was issued by the British government in 1917 and expressed support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. One of the girls wrote that Great Britain gave in to the Balfour promise in 1948 in order to get rid of the Jews in Europe and reward them for “the genocidal weapons which they had invented, which helped Britain to annihilate more people."
According to the Palestinian Media Watch, the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper also quoted a PLO Executive Committee member as demanding that "Britain assumes its responsibility towards the Palestinian people and make amends for its mistakes…and to admit its grave mistake against it in allowing the Jews, by means of the cursed promise, to seize control of the Palestinian land and to establish their state on the Arab ruins and the Palestinian villages which were destroyed in 1948."
-JointMedia News Service
Cairo cleric declares Bin Laden martyr and threatens Jews
Egyptian cleric Sheikh Tawfiq Al-Afni gave a speech at Tahrir Square in Cairo calling Osama bin Laden “a man who waged Jihad for the sake of Allah” and threatened Jews, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported.
Al-Afni, who is a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), said “we pray that Allah will unite us with him and the martyrs in Paradise…" Al-Afni was imprisoned in Egypt for 18 years until he was released due to the Egyptian revolution. In his speech he also emphasized that the return of Islam is inevitable. He asked the crowd why they fear Islam, since it rules “justice, compassion, and goodness will prevail.”
The entire video of his speech is available to view at http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3208.htm. "I say to the Jews,” Al-Afni added, “if you contemplate harming Egypt or its Muslim people, you will encounter men who seek death more than you seek life…” In return the crowd chanted "Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad is here."
—JointMedia News Service
Arab Spring Updates: Tunisia rejects Israel, Syria faces increased pressure
Egypt- Under the heavy security of thousands of soldiers and police officers, tens of millions of Egyptians were headed to the polls on Monday to vote in the first of three rounds of parliamentary elections, scheduled to end in late January 2012.
Dozens of independent parties, both religious and secular, are vying for more than 800 parliamentary seats. The "National Democratic Alliance for Egypt" bloc, headed by the religious Muslim Brotherhood party, is projected to win more than half the seats.
"We are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood. But we lived for 30 years under Mubarak, we will live with them, too," said 50-year-old Iris Nawar, a first-time voter.
Tunisia - The new Tunisian government is gearing up to ratify a new constitution, and its language includes a section condemning Zionism and ruling out any friendly ties with Israel.
Aviva Raz-Schechter, deputy director-general of the Middle East Division of the Foreign Ministry of Israel, held a meeting on Sunday to discuss strategies for keeping the anti-Israel clause out of the Tunisian constitution. Raz-Schechter said that if the clause was inserted, "It will inevitably affect other Middle Eastern countries as well."
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials were reportedly considering recruiting the help of other Western countries, to offer and apply economic sanctions and incentives to pressure Tunisia to drop the anti-Israel clause. One channel being considered is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, of which Tunisia is a member.
Syria - In an unprecedented move against an Arab nation, the Arab League has approved economic sanctions on Syria to pressure Damascus to end its deadly suppression of an eight-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad. Sanctions include cutting off transactions with the Syrian central bank, halting Arab government funding for projects in Syria and freezing government assets. Those sanctions are to take effect immediately.
Other steps, including halting flights and imposing travel bans on some, as-yet unnamed Syrian officials, will come later after a committee reviews them.
But even as world leaders abandon Assad, the regime has refused to ease a military assault on dissent that already has killed more than 3,500 people. On Sunday, Damascus slammed the sanctions as a betrayal of Arab solidarity and insisted a foreign conspiracy was behind the revolt, all but assuring that more bloodshed will follow.
Iraq and Lebanon — important trading partners for Syria — abstained from the vote, which came after Damascus missed an Arab League deadline to agree to allow hundreds of observers into the country as part of a peace deal Syria agreed to early this month to end the crisis.
--Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service
Germany approves one-time grant for survivors of Nazi ghettos
Germany will pay Holocaust survivors who worked in ghettos during World War II a one-time payment of 2,000 euros, in addition to the regular monthly stipends they receive from the German Ghetto Fund. The two payments were previously mutually exclusive, and the German pension system intends to review claims from 56,000 survivors that had previously been rejected.
The decision comes in the wake of negotiations between the German government and the Claims Conference, which works to get financial compensation and restitution for Holocaust survivors.
The German government recently eased the criteria for compensation, making additional ghetto survivors – including those who did not work under forced labor conditions – eligible. Under the new agreement, Jews who worked in ghettos will be eligible for payments from German social security, as well as a one-time payment of 2,000 euros.
In 2007, after pressure spearheaded by the Claims Conference, the German government established a compensation fund for Holocaust victims who worked “without force” during their internment in a Nazi-era ghetto. The fund’s one-time payment of 2,000 euros was intended for ghetto survivors who had been rejected for German Social Security payments.
--Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service