It was 70,000 two hours ago, then it started to rise and its still going strong. Israel Rail is asking people to step off the trains as more people are trying to get to the demonstrations. People have had enough. Tired of the political side stepping the injustice, tired of the 16% VAT, tired of carrying on their backs the orthodox organizations that leach on the rest of the population. Not being able to get to a home because of the cost of living. Tired of funding the pathetic excuse for government ministers whose only concern is stuffing their own pockets with complete disregard to the public, and office they are supposed to uphold. The public is demanding social justice. This can’t be ignored. This will not go away.
Over 200,000 in Tel Aviv
Who is missing in this demonstration? The orthodox groups and political representatives are not here. They are not here because they are partly to blame for the fleecing of the country and its people.
Israel has had a tradition of quite acceptance to what its leaders have dictated. Constantly playing on the fear of a lower defense budget. This is a time of change. This time the spell is broken. Empty promises by Benjamin Netanyahu and his finance minister, Yuval Steinitz and constant under estimation of this uprising is turning into the ideal climate for this fire to burn. Tonight it’s burning bright, and can no longer be ignored.
We may not place Bibi in a steel cage and put him on trial but in an advanced, civilized society, this is as close as his going to get.
On Friday, more than 500 Jordanians demonstrated outside the prime minister’s office in Amman, pleading for a government free of corruption and other particular. At the same time, some 600 Hashmoneans held pro-reform protests in the southern cities of Tafileh, Karak and Thieban as well as the Northern city of Irbid.
“The people want to reform the regime. Speed up democratic reforms now. We want our stolen money backâ€¦We demand an incorruptible national salvation governmentâ€¦”
One banner read:
“Democracy means an independent judiciary, honest MP’s and an elected governmentâ€¦”
In Karak, protestors hailed former information minister Taher Adwan who was forced to resign on Tuesday after accusing the government of introducing “restrictive” legislation, he described as a “blow to the reform drive” and “martial laws.”
Heavy protesting in Jordan actually began in January, as Arab citizens throughout the Middle East have demanded political and economic reforms and an end to corruption.
In Jordan, unlike other Arab countries, the protests have usually passed without serious violence.
Meanwhile, the Jordanian Transport Ministry said it was following up with Egyptian authorities on re-opening the maritime line between Aqab and Taba for tourism. These hot resort towns were closed by Egypt.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated story, Jerusalem and Washington held meetings with Cairo on June 13, to release 27-year-old Ilan Grapel, the dual US/Israeli citizen arrested on charges of Mossad affiliated espionage. Israel announced on Monday, Grapel had no connection to Israeli intelligence, whatsoever. Furthermore, the Israeli foreign ministry insisted Cairo had not informed Jerusalem of the arrest.
Meanwhile, Egyptian officials renewed his detention. Grapel will spend 15 more days in an Egyptian jail pending further investigation.
Three weeks after he staged the first mass border sortie on the Jewish State, Syria’s Assad paid each Molotov cocktail hurling demonstrator, Syrian and Palestinian, $1,000 for cutting a piece of razor wire on Israel’s border fence, as well as $10,000 for the families of volunteers shot by Israeli troops. Assad wished to detract attention from the more than 1200 Syrian rebels that have been killed in the crackdowns.
The U.S. State department issued the following statement:
“We are deeply troubled by events that took place earlier today in the Golan Heights resulting in injuries and the loss of lifeâ€¦We call for all sides to exercise restraint. Provocative actions like this should be avoided. Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itselfâ€¦”
While Syrian police prevented another protest on Monday, Assad’s purpose for staging these bloody media spectacles.
In other news, a Dahaf Institute poll commissioned by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, of 500 Israelis representing a sample of the population was taken last week.
According to the poll, 77% of Israelis oppose returning to pre-1967 lines.
The large majority 85% respectively recognized the importance of maintaining a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty within the framework of any kind of finalized peace deal and opposed transferring the Temple Mount to Palestinian control even if the Western Wall remains in Israeli handsâ€¦as for the the Jordan Valley, 84% believe Israel must maintain control of the strategic border with Jordan even in the framework of a finalpeace agreement.
Good for Lebanon. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Beirut on Sunday to protest their country’s sectarian political system.
Copping a sentiment ubiquitous now throughout the Middle East, protesters chanted, “the people want to bring down the regime!”
According to Reuters:
“Lebanon is governed by a delicate power-sharing system to maintain the balance between the country’s many sects. It is unlike many other Arab countries where protests have been against rulers who have governed for decades.”
Actually, you’d have to say Lebanon’s government is still a work in progress. Backed by Iranian proxy, the Shia group, Hezbollah, Najib Migati has taken his place at the helm of the Cedar Republic â€“ so we know who really wears the pants in that family.
The country suffered a 15-year civil war ending in 1990 and killing 150,000 people. Then in 2008, after Israel crushed the Lebanese infrastructure as a reaction to Hezbollah terror on the Jewish State, sectarian violence broke out anew.
The organizers of the recent protest handed out a leaflet explaining their demand “secular, civil, democratic, socially just and equal state” and calling for an increase in the minimum wage, as well for price slashes on basic goods.
As protests continue throughout the Middle East, such uprisings have unseated the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia â€“ with Libya teetering on Civil War if Muammar el-Qhadaffi does not step down.
A few months ago, a WikiLeaks cable divulged that Lebanon defense minister gave advice to Israel back in 2008 on how it will be possible to defeat Hezbollah.
The memo quoted Elias Murr telling US officials that areas under Hezbollah control would not be defended by Lebanese forces:
“If Israel has to bomb all of these places in the Shia areas as a matter of operational concern, that is Hezbollah’s problemâ€¦”
The minister also warned that an Israeli drone on Lebanon should avoid hitting Christian areas:
“Murr told us that Israel would do well to avoid two things when it comes for Hezbollahâ€¦One, it must not touch the Blue Line or the UNSCR 1701 areas as this will keep Hezbollah out of these areas…Two, Israel cannot bomb bridges and infrastructure in the Christian areasâ€¦”
On Tuesday, Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi promised â€œTo fight to the last drop of bloodâ€ as clashes intensified between loyalists and rebels in Tripoli. The latter claimed they consolidated their clutch over a chain of cities across half of the country’s 1,000 mile Mediterranean coast. The fiercest fighting happened in Tripoli. Qaddafi-loyal forces drove through the streets shooting at will from the backs of pickup trucks.
As a result, 62 were confirmed dead in the capitol, and 500 people killed elsewhere, mostly in the eastern city of Benghazi, the geographic flashpoint for the uprising.
The Colonel appeared twice on state television, speaking from his Tripoli residence on the grounds of an army barracks. In his address, he said all who challenge the government â€œdeserved to die.â€ He blamed the situation on â€œforeign hands,â€ brainwashing, people distributing pills, and the naivety of youngsters to imitate the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Speaking in third-person, his rhetoric showed delusions of grandeur:
â€œMuammar Qaddafi is history, resistance, liberty, glory, revolution…”
Similar situations have swept across the Middle East in recent weeks, toppling autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and challenging those in Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere.
Born in 1942, Muammar el-Gaddafi has been in power in Libya for forty years. He funded Black September, the terrorist organization who murdered the eleven Israeli athletes during the Munich Summer Olympics in1972.
According to the New York Times he is:
“The financier of an eclectic array of guerrilla groups around the globe, he was responsible, according to Western intelligence, for many of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the mid-80s, including the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270.”
A tricky politician, though, the New York Times says:
“In an about-face to the West, Colonel Gaddafi has re-established diplomatic and economic ties throughout Europe. He has also changed with regard to Israel. The man who once called for pushing the ”Zionists” into the sea advocates the forming of one nation where Jews and Palestinians would live together in peace.”
Colonel Gaddafi founded a pan-African confederation modeled by the European Union. On February 2, 2009, he was named chairman of the African Union. However, in August 2009, the Colonel drew criticism from the American government with his exultant reaction to the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi from prison, the one man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Mr. Megrahi was given a hero’s welcome upon arriving in Libya, and Gaddafi thanked Scottish and British officials for releasing him. The Britons looked dumb to the West.
As mayhem continues throughout the Middle East, journalists are in danger, and consequently, so is revelation of truth. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has been accused by the Committee to Protect Journalists for “an unprecedented and systematic attack” on international reporters.
The committee’s executive director, Joel Simon, said:
“This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalismâ€¦With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world’s worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cubaâ€¦We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented actionâ€¦and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately.”
Incognito agents have gone so far as to enter hotels and confiscate equipment. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday 101 direct attacks on news facilities and journalists. Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of the newspaper Al-Ta’awun, was shot and killed by sniper fire while filming demonstrations in central Cairo’s Qasr al-Aini, adjacent to Tahrir Square.
Al-Jazzera, BBC, Al-Arabiya, ABC News, the Washington Post, Fox News, and CNN all said they have staff members who’ve been attacked. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also reported that staffers were detained.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, despite the ongoing Internet black-out said:
“There have been no instructions to hinder the coverage of the media in the Tahrir areaâ€¦I made clear that they have full freedom to do anything they want.”
Egyptian and American sources told the New York Times that Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, who nearly escaped an assassination attempt in recent days that took the lives of two of his body guards, met with army leaders to discuss steps to weaken President Hosni Mubarak’s authority and possibly have him removed him from the presidential palace.
The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, is another city where waves of protests became violent. On Saturday morning, 12 journalists were kidnapped.
Along with similar demonstrations in Syria, Turkey, Malaysia and Iraq, hundreds of Jordanian protesters marched toward the Egyptian embassy in Ankara, calling Mubarak a puppet of Israel. Jordan’s main Muslim opposition, however, said it wants to give their new leader an opportunity to carry out the political reforms promised.
Among reforms that the Jordanian population would like to see are financial. According to a wire by the latest WikiLeaks release, more than 80% of the Hashmonean Kingdom’s budget is spent on “bloated” civil service and a military “patronage system” â€“ including supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The Jordanian government told U.S. diplomats that:
In spite of increased calls by opposition groups and non-governmental figures to explain its Afghanistan assistance and end its security cooper with the United States … Mashâ€™al Al Zaben, Chief of Staff for Strategy, stated that Jordan would stay in Afghanistan until the last U.S. soldier came home.”
Jordanâ€™s deficit hit a record $2 billion this year, while inflation rose six percent and unemployment figures hit 12.9 percent.
The WikiLeaks documents also told of Jordanâ€™s military support to NATOâ€™s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. According to the ambassador:
â€œJordan has already made a significant contribution of forces in Afghanistan (ref B), currently numbered at 850 troops, which includes an infantry battalion, a special operations company, and a field hospitalâ€¦Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistan. Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistanâ€¦”
Monday night, residents of Gaza shot a volley of powerful mortar shells and Grad rockets at the western Negev. One rocket hit Ofakim and one landed in Netivot, almost hitting a Jewish wedding celebration, where a “Color Red” rocket alert system sounded. Four were treated for shock and one vehicle was damaged.
The Eshkol Regional Council reported a mortar attack originating from Gaza â€“ the shell, thank God, landed in an open area.
This attack on Israel is impressive given the fact that Hamas police were busy trying to prevent their own from demonstrating in solidarity with the Egyptian pandemonium.
Gazan activist, Asma al-Ghoul, said she and a small group of protesters gathered in central Gaza City Tuesday when police stopped their peace demonstration. Police detained and beat some demonstrators. Al-Ghoul was accused by female police of being a “bad Muslim” because she did not cover her hair.
The New York-based Human Rights watch called on Hamas to “stop arbitrarily interfering with peaceful demonstrations about Egypt or anything else.”
The PA in the West Bank also put the lid on a protest to buttress the chaotic civilian-operation to oust Mubarak. The police out-numbered the Palestinian civilians, 3-to-1. Protesters were shoved and were threatened with clubs. Police, in classic Fatah fashion, prevented journalists from filming or photographing the action.
Mahmoud Abbas canceled local elections in 2009 when it appeared Fatah would lose to independents.
The Palestinian Authority has not actually held elections since 2006; PM Salam Fayyad, however, said he will set the date for a vote next week.
Jordan’s King Abdullah after weeks of opposition protests inspired by regime ouster in Tunisia and turmoil in Egypt, names his former ex-military advisor Marouf Bakhit as new prime minister with orders to carry out ‘true political reforms.
As much-needed rain began to pour down on poor old Israel, rumbling thunder sent vibrations through the desert â€“ right down to old Egypt, on the heels of the Tunisian shakedown, causing many Egyptians to decide suddenly that 30 years of autocratic rule means pull the hose out of old Hosni Mubarak. Chaos ensued. Cries of “Allahu Achbar!” Car windows shattering, rubber bullets firing, car alarms and emergency sirens sounded in the streets throughout the country. The scene was like something out of Watts.
Actually, trouble began exactly one week ago. Hundreds are dead. Thousands gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo to commend Mohamed ElBaradei â€“ once head of the U.N. nuclear agency, Egyptian masses want him to lead the transition to democracy.
PM of the JS, Binyamin Netanyahu spoke Saturday evening with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and on Sunday, DM Ehud Barak spoke on the phone with DS Robert Gates.
In a statement, the White House said:
â€œThe president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint, supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association, and speech, and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian peopleâ€¦”