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‘Israeli’ navy boards Gaza-bound ship

The Estelle is now under attack — I have just had a message from them by phone,” Victoria Strand, a Stockholm-based spokeswoman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign told AFP.

Estelle is a ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists seeking to breach Israel’s crippling blockade on Gaza has come under attack shortly after being approached by Israeli vessels, a spokeswoman told AFP on Saturday.

Estelle’s media coordinator Mikael Loffgren told Al-Jazeera the soldiers who embarked the ship were masked.

“The Estelle is now under attack — I have just had a message from them by phone,” Victoria Strand, a Stockholm-based spokeswoman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign told AFP.

“Some time ago, they said that they had military ships following them, but we don’t know exactly what they mean” when they say they were attacked, she said of the vessel.

The Estelle is a part of the Free Gaza Movement, which is dedicated to breaking the Israeli blockade of Gaza, notably through sea channels with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

Last week, a declassified document revealed that Israel had put Gaza on steady diet during the most violent stages of its siege between 2005 and 2008. Ostensibly to avoid malnutrition in the strip, Israel’s Health Ministry devised a nutritional “red line”, a minimal calorie intake the Israeli army would guarantee as it cut imports to Gaza by nearly 75 percent.

In 2008, the International Committee of the Red Cross revealed a “progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza’s population,” forcing people to cut household expenditures to “survival levels”. “Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern,” said the ICRC report.

 

 

Estelle

 

The siege continues to leave the strip in economic tatters, with unemployment running rampant, and some resorting desperately to self-immolation in recent weeks to protest rapidly declining living conditions.

The Israeli military confirmed that navy vessels were in the vicinity of the MV Estelle but denied the ship had been attacked or boarded.

“The Israeli navy has attempted to make initial contact with them, but they have not answered and nothing further has happened at this stage,” a spokeswoman said.

Asked whether any attempt had been made to stop or board the Estelle, she said: “Not at the moment.”

However, an Israeli military source had previously told The Jerusalem Post that the navy was preparing to intercept the boat, and a foreign ministry spokeswoman told the newspaper Israel would not allow the vessel to reach Gaza. Israel justifies its crippling siege of the Gaza Strip as a means to prevent weapon smuggling.

The boat’s cargo, listed on the flotilla’s website, includes cement, wheel chairs, crutches, toys, musical instruments and 300 footballs.

Responding to Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor’s letter to the UN urging the world body to stop the flotilla, the activists said they welcomed further inspections of their cargo by the UN.

“What we refuse to accept is something which also the UN and the majority of the international community oppose: the illegal and in a humanitarian perspective devastating siege of the Gaza Strip,” they said in a statement.

In addition to its humanitarian cargo, the boat is also carrying a number of activists, including five European lawmakers from Spain, Sweden, Greece and Norway.

“The claim for bread, independence, freedom and democracy is not only by peoples facing military occupation or expansionism. It now concerns all of southern Europe…a red thread links Greece to other countries and people who fight,” said Dimitris Kodelas, one of the Greek politicians on board.

The passengers have undergone non-violent training in case Israel’s military boards the vessel. They have signed a pledge to act peacefully even if their lives are threatened, a statement on the group’s website says.

The first Freedom Flotilla in May 2010 ended in tragedy when nine Turkish nationals were killed by Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, the lead ship, as it tried to break through the blockade. Some were shot at point-blank range, according to Turkish investigations.

A Turkish court prosecutor called for nine life sentences for four senior Israeli commanders each over the killings. If found guilty, the court could issue arrest warrants against them.

A second attempt to break the blockade in mid-2011 with a coalition of ships setting sail from Athens failed after Greek authorities intercepted the boats, banning their departure and towing back into port those who tried to leave.

According to Amjad al-Shawwa, director of the Gaza network of NGOs, the activists are demonstrating that “the Palestinian people are not facing this Israeli blockade alone as there are free people in the world who stand by their side and support them as they demand freedom, justice and human rights.”

Muhsin Abu Ramadan, chairman of the board of Gaza NGOs, said the activists were risking their lives by confronting Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza because they opposed tyranny and oppression.

“The Gaza Strip has the right to a safe water passage and to be freed from this blockade. Those activists are the ones who expose the Israeli violations,” Abu Ramadan said.

(AFP, Ma’an, Al-Akhbar,SaebPress)

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The Beirut Explosion Investigation.

The Beirut Explosion Investigation

SaebPress

By Senior Editor Gordon Duff with Veterans Today

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US Cornered at UNSC while attempting to extend arms embargo on Iran.

Shaath ‘the US is seeking to corner China and Russia for propaganda purposes‘

US Cornered at UNSC

Washington has stepped up calls for the extension of the UN arms embargo on Iran, which will expire in October under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Trump administration has threatened that it may seek to trigger a snapback provision spelled out in the Iran nuclear deal of all sanctions on Iran if its attempts to extend the UN arms embargo fail.

UNSC

Iran, Russia and China have repeatedly said that the US has no authority to invoke the snapback mechanism as it is no more a party to the 2015 accord. “It has no right to extend an arms embargo on Iran, let alone to trigger snapback,” China’s UN mission wrote in a tweet on Thursday. “Maintaining [the] Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the only right way moving forward,” it added

The US has circulated a new anti-Iran resolution at the UN Security Council calling for an extension of the UN arms embargo on Tehran, before it expires in October. The resolution reportedly urges member states to stop all arms sales to and from Iran. It also asks them not to provide Tehran with technical training, financial resources, and other services related to weapons program.

The new draft is almost identical to the previous one Washington circulated in June, which failed to gather support. US envoy to the council, Kelly Craft, has said Russia and China are likely to veto the resolution.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also told reporters that the measure is “eminently reasonable,” alleging that “one way or another we will do the right thing.” He went on threatening Tehran with more sanctions through a mechanism embedded within the Iran nuclear deal, from which the US has unilaterally withdrawn.

Pompeo  added  “We’re deeply aware that snapback is an option that’s available to the United States, and we’re going to do everything within America’s power to ensure that that arms embargo is extended,” he claimed. “I am confident that we will be successful.”

Shaath ‘the US is seeking to corner China and Russia for propaganda purposes

Wednesday, in an Interview with Press TV with Saeb Shaath, Author and Middle East affairs expert and Michael Springmann, Author and former U.S diplomat, Shaath said, “The US strategy always is to have Russia and China abstain in that regard in the UNSC and obviously not to veto, the USA’s resolution.

Shaath, pointed out that “ But, today and right now the strategy is working maybe with other members of the Security Council, so the USA intending  from this as Pompeo hinted and Craft the US representative  in the Security Council that Russia and China are not coming round and obviously they are going to veto the resolution.”

Shaath then questioned their motives “So why are they doing this? [Pompeo & Craft] they are doing this, to try to corner China and Russia for propaganda purposes, as Craft said to pot the spot light on the Chinese and Russian.”

Shaath went on to say, “Since the Trump administration maintains that quitting the deal does not prevent it from invoking the provision of the snap back mechanism, which is sanctions according to what they envisaged in the Iran nuclear deal.”

Shaath pointed out “ Other member states, as you mentioned in your report, like  France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China are trying to negotiate a solution which might prevent the USA from taking such a step, but until now there is no clear compromise has emerged among them”.

‘U.S. seeks to blackmail UNSC member states’

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based international organizations, has said that it looks like the U.S. attempts to blackmail the UN Security Council members.

“Looks like an attempt to blackmail the UNSC Member States. US position on arms embargo against #Iran and #SnapBack is very weak not only from the viewpoint of common sense but also in legal terms,” he said in a tweet on Thursday.

‘U.S. plans to impose indefinite arms embargo on Iran have no prospects’

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that Washington’s plans to introduce an indefinite arms embargo against Iran have no prospects.

“The stubborn shattering of the JCPOA through new anti-Iranian ideas, which include the proposal to impose an indefinite arms embargo against Iran, simply does not honor the United States. It is clear that this course has no prospects,” Zakharova said at a briefing, Sputnik reported.

Those members of the JCPOA, who have maintained a genuine full commitment to the nuclear deal, will continue to fight for its preservation and sustainable implementation, she said.

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Beirut a disaster-stricken city after port’s explosion.

Declaring Beirut a “disaster-stricken” city, announcing a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.

Explosion in Beirut's port

Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council an emergency meeting in the early hours of Wednesday. Following the session, a statement by the council, said President Michel Aoun, had decided to release 100 billion Lebanese pounds in emergency allocations from the 2020 budget.

The council recommended forming a committee tasked with investigating the blast and present its findings within five days, to impose the maximum punishment for those responsible.

It further suggested declaring Beirut a “disaster-stricken” city, announcing a two-week state of emergency in the capital and handing over security responsibility to military authorities.

 The blast took place on Tuesday in port warehouses near central Beirut storing highly explosive material, specifically ammonium nitrate, commonly used in both fertiliser and bombs.

The explosion — the most powerful ever in Beirut— flattened much of the strategic port and left buildings in ruin.

Germany’s geosciences center GFZ said the explosion triggered a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, which was also felt as far away as Cyprus over 200 kilometers across the Mediterranean.

The Lebanese Red Cross said on Wednesday in a statement, ‘’until now over 4,000 people have been injured and over 100 have lost their lives. Our teams are still conducting search and rescue operations in the surrounding areas”.

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised there would be accountability for the fatal incident, “I promise that this catastrophe will not go unpunished and those responsible will be held accountable.” he said during a speech.

Hassan Diab went to say that “Beirut is grieving… All of Lebanon is disaster-torn. Lebanon is going through a quite ordeal that could only be faced with national unity and solidarity among all Lebanese from all backgrounds and regions. We are going through a disaster that could only be overcome with determination and tenacity to face this serious challenge and its destructive consequences”.

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