Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

Irish Republican Information Service 

In this issue: 6/10/12

1. Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown
2. The fight for a New Ireland goes on
3. Republican Sinn Féin to protest against visit of British Queen to Ireland
4. Compassionate parole punishment must be challenged
5. Protest at Olympic torch arrival in Newry in support of POWs
6. Kerry turf-cutters defy Brussels ruling
7. RUC harassment continues in Derry
8. Wife of Republican accuses RUC of 'heavy-handedness'
9. ‘A lady I really admire on this royal jubilee” ’
10. Halt to funding of respite care services being considered
11. Support the fight for the withdrawal of the Greek memorandum (austerity plan)
12. Derry teenager speaks of life-changing Gaza trip
13. Shannon Airport vigil June 10
14. Save the lives of Mahmoud Sarsak and Akram Rikhawi!
15. German submarines sold to Israel can fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles
16. No closure in killing of 21 Gaza family members
17. Israel returned the remains of Palestinian bodies

1. Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown

Republican Sinn Féin will be holding its annual Theobald Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown churchyard, Co Kildare on Sunday June 10. Those taking part will assemble in Sallins at 2.30pm. The oration will be given by Ard Chomhairle member Cáit Trainor, Co Armagh.

2. The fight for a New Ireland goes on

IN A statement by the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton on June 1 said:

“The result of the 26-County referendum on the Austerity Treaty marks a battle lost but the war remains to be won on the road to a New Ireland. The voting patterns tell us much about the breakdown of Irish society and the increasing divide between rich and poor. Those who have suffered most from the slash and burn economics of the political and financial elites recorded the highest percentage of No votes. Like millions of working people across Europe, working people in the 26 Counties have given out a strong signal of their determination to oppose the neo-liberal economic agenda which is at the heart of the entire EU project.

“The coming years will see an increase in grass-roots opposition as we see with the various campaigns against the household charge, the septic tank charge, turf cutting, health and education cuts. The need for unity between urban and rural, employed and unemployed, young and old, the public and private sector has never been greater. People must set about the essential task of building a mass movement that is capable of acting as a vehicle for radical political, social and economic change. That is the only means by which we will create the New Ireland set out in the 1916 Proclamation. We believe that our programme for a federal Ireland Éire Nua along with our social and economic policy Saol Nua provide the basis for such a New Ireland.”

Bhí seacht Dáilcheantar i mBÁC go han-mhaith ó thaobh “NÍL” sa reifreann (cúig cinn go dona). Bhí an bua ag "Níl" i trí dháilcheantar i mBÁC, bhí 50% ar an dá thaobh (bhuaidh “sea” le cúig vóta), agus bhí trí dháilcheantar eile a raibh 41%, 40% agus 42% den phobal ar sin “Níl”. Ceapaim go b'shin comhartha láidir gur chaith formhór lucht oibre BhÁC vóta ar son “Níl”. Coinnigh bhur misneach.

Seven constituencies in Dublin voted well on the “No” side in the recent referendum (five did badly). The “No” side won in three constituencies in Dublin, there was a 50% tie in one (won by “yes” with five votes), and three other constituencies had 41%, 40% and 42% votes on “No” side. This shows that a good many working people in Dublin voted strongly on the “No” side. Keep your courage !

3. Republican Sinn Féin to protest against visit of British Queen to Ireland

A SPOKESPERSON for Comhairle Uladh, the Ulster Executive of Republican Sinn Féin, said on June 2 that Republican Sinn Féin will oppose the impending visit of the British Queen to Ireland.

Speaking after details of her visit were confirmed for June 26 and 27 to Enniskillen and Belfast, Cáit Trainor said: “Republican Sinn Féin totally opposes this visit and reject the ongoing normalisation policy by the British state to their occupation. British occupation is not normal and never can be, generations of Irish men and women have fought to remove British rule in Ireland and that struggle continues to this day.”

Referring to the protests that took place in May 2011 when the British Queen visited Dublin, Kildare and Cork, Cáit continued: “This visit will be opposed as vigorously as her last visit to Ireland.” Details of planned protests by Republican Sinn Féin will be published next week and we call on all Irish Republicans to protest against the visit of the head of the British State and armed forces to any part of Ireland while Ireland remains occupied.

On June 3 Geraldine McNamara PRO, Republican Sinn Fein stated that the British Queen was not welcome in the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland no more than she was welcome in the 26 Counties by Republicans last year

“This attempt to make the world believe that it is acceptable by the Irish people to have two divided states must be resisted and highlighted.

”As we approach the centenary of the 1916 rising when Irishmen and women gave their lives for a united Ireland free from British rule Republican Sinn Féin will continue to totally oppose this visit and reject the ongoing normalisation policy by the British state to their occupation.

”British occupation is not normal and never can be. Generations of Irish men and women have fought to remove British rule in Ireland and that struggle continues to this day.

”The hidden Ireland of internment and oppression continues while the Stormont and Leinster house administrations attempt to portray their acceptability of England’s rule as normal.

”One hundred years ago when a previous British monarch visited Ireland Republicans stated that ‘We serve neither King nor Kaiser’. Today we state that ‘We serve neither Queen nor Chancellor’.

”The media will no doubt attempt to portray this as a visit by a monarch to greet her subjects, in response we must take to the streets once more in opposition, we must make the international community aware that Ireland is still under foreign occupation and that we are subjects to foreign Queen.

”We live by the Republic that was declared in 1916 and will live under no other law.

4. Compassionate parole punishment must be challenged

IN A statement on June 1 the PRO of the Charlie Agnew Cumann, Republican Sinn Féin, Armagh City said:

“Republican Prisoners have a long history of honouring their word when on compassionate leave. The current British administration seems intent on punishing Republican prisoners during the most difficult and vulnerable time they can go through.

Republican prisoners who are currently incarcerated in Maghaberry prison are enduring the most horrendous conditions and barbarity at the hands of the British administration, propped up by all the politicos in Stormont. The prisoners have to go through invasive strip searching; controlled movement is imposed on Republican landings and free association completely removed.

“Life as a Republican prisoner is one of hardship and daily challenges. Due to the inhumane conditions, the Republican prisoners have been on a no wash protest to try and end the unacceptable conditions. Now it would seem Republican prisoners are facing the refusal of compassionate parole as a means to punish them for their political beliefs and protest.

“In January 2012, protesting POW Damien McKenna was refused compassionate parole to attend his father’s funeral with no recourse to appeal the decision. The decision was engineered to be made after 4pm which meant the High court was finished for the day meaning the prison authorities decision was final. This Machiavellian behaviour in itself is unjust and must be challenged.

“In May 2012, Political Hostage Martin Corey applied for compassionate parole only to be passed from pillar to post for two full days before a decision was made. Finally a decision to allow release for one and a half hours was given 15 minutes before the funeral was due to start for his brother who had died.

“His conditions where deplorable. He was only allowed to the funeral Mass, he arrived at 1pm and had to be back in Jail for 3pm, the jail being more than a half and hours drive, in total he was only allowed with his family to grief for a short period.

“The issue of compassionate parole is an emotive one. Republican prisoners have always
honoured their word and the British state, at various times, have always denied leave as a form of punishment.

“We the Republican people must now take this issue to our hearts, we must campaign for better compassionate parole conditions for prisoners and for the refusal of compassionate parole to cease.

“Along with this we must continue in our fight to secure Political status for prisoners and demand that Political hostages Martin Corey and Marian Price are released immediately,” the statement concluded.

5. Protest at Olympic torch arrival in Newry in support of POWs

IN A statement on June 6 the Joe Conway/Brendan Watters Cumann, Republican Sinn Féin, Newry and South Armagh said that a protest against the torture and ill treatment of political prisoners incarcerated in Maghaberry jail and in Hydebank Women's prison took place on Tuesday, June 5 at the GAA grounds in Newry, another blemish on the reputation of the Down County Board who have proved to be supporters of the British occupation in Ireland, only last year Down was on the only County in Ulster to meet with, and welcome the Queen of England to Ireland.

“The protest facilitated by Republican Sinn Féin was well attended with more than 70 supporters who braved the inclement weather. The decidedly peaceful protest was called to coincide with the arrival of the Olympic torch from London as part of its journey around the ‘UK’. Republican Sinn Féin does not recognise that any area of Ireland is part of the ‘UK’.’

“The Olympic torch which was carried in the name of sport is nothing more than a cynical attempt by the British establishment to normalise their presence in our Country. As a symbol of protest against the British Olympic torch Republicans lit their own torches of freedom as a symbolic gesture. Whilst there is no objection to the Olympics per say it is the host nation and their human rights record in Ireland with which Republican's take issue.

“The assembled crowd carried banners and placards calling for the restoration of Political status to republican prisoners currently incarcerated in Maghaberry and Hydebank. Currently POWs find themselves living in squalid conditions and having their human rights contravened with forced strip-searching and controlled movement within the jails, they have been forced on to a no wash protest as a result to the Prison authorities reneging on the August agreement of 2010.

“Martin Corey is currently being held in Maghaberry without charge or trial. He has previously served 19 years. Two years ago his licence was ‘revoked’. Martin refused to sign a licence for his release after 17 years and was subsequently held for a further two years, so to say his licence has been revoked is a misnomer.

“Well-known Republican activist Marian Price is also suffering internment and at present is seriously ill. It is most disturbing that a delegation of doctors from the United Nations have been refused permission to see her, this coupled with the torture endured by the rest of the prisoners needs to become a matter of urgent public attention and concern.

“Republican Sinn Féin call on all Republicans and those concerned with human rights to unite and support the POWs.”

6. Kerry turf-cutters defy Brussels ruling

ON May 28 the Brendan Doherty Cumann, Republican Sinn Féin, Castleisland, Co Kerry said in a statement:

“Despite the presence of Free State helicopters hovering overhead and both Gardai and Rangers from the Parks and Wildlife Service heavily present, turf-cutters in Moanveanlagh bog in north Kerry remained defiant in their pursuit to heat their homes this coming winter using the age-old tradition of cutting turf.

”While intimidation was being used by the Blueshirt minister Jimmy Deenihan who is acting as a puppet for the bureaucrats in Brussels, one must ask, what is the agenda of the powers that be in both Leister House and Europe? Will it come to pass that turf-cutting will be banned in all bogs in Ireland eventually, to make way for the cornering and monopolisation of the Irish market by oil and gas companies? If this is so, then the sneaky tactics employed by the political establishment, backed of course by the energy industry with its powerful lobby at European level, could be attempting to bring about the gradual implementation of banning turf-cutting on one bog at a time which could be equivocated to chipping away at an old block, gradually eroding the will and ancient practice of one section of the turf-cutting community at a time in order to create as little opposition as possible to their devious plan.

”Republican Sinn Féin, Kerry salute the defiant north Kerry turf-cutters who, despite EU and Free State bully-boy tactics, have come through this traditional season for turf-cutting victorious and have proclaimed that they will not be dictated to or pressured from either Brussels or Dublin when it comes to rightfully carrying on local traditions that stretch back into antiquity.

“Europe and their Free State puppets must realise that the rural people of Ireland will not be moved from their ancient practices which have been passed on from generation to generation and no amount of money will force these people to turn their back on their working culture. The battle for the bog has been won this year round but the war against the EU and their Free State representatives regarding the right to cut turf will continue on until the EU and the Blueshirts realise that the rural Irish people will not have their rights stripped from them by impractical bureaucrats.”

7. RUC harassment continues in Derry

A BLAST bomb was thrown at the RUC in the Rathmore Park area of Derry on Saturday, June 2.

Significant blast damage was caused to the jeep; no one was injured. Stones were also thrown at the RUC in the area by a number of youths.

The RUC/PSNI said they carried out several “planned” search operations in the estate over the weekend of June 1-3. Local residents believed the raids, which the British police said were the result of investigations into “serious crime and dissident Republican terrorism”, were nothing more than “community punishment”.

A spokesperson for the RUC/PSNI said that members were attacked with petrol bombs, paint bombs, bricks and bottles. Several residents of Creggan contacted the Derry Journal alleging there was “baton-charging of innocent onlookers.”

RUC in riot gear had been called to the scene in the vicinity of St. Mary’s Church, Creggan in the early hours of Thursday, May 24 over a suspected device. Residents criticised what they claimed was “heavy-handed tactics” by the RUC/PSNI and “eagerness” to use their batons. Some residents, all of whom wished to remain anonymous, accused the police of “baton-charging” onlookers.

Another resident added: “There was no trouble, everyone here knew it was a dud device, the children had been kicking it about the place all day. You could clearly see it was a bottle of sand. While there was some stone and paint bombs thrown at police, they were thrown from a different place and group than those the police baton-charged.”

Another asked: “Why would ten jeeps full of police in riot gear turn up when there was no riot? They provoked people to be honest. They drove into the crowd, shouted and swore at residents. The entire operation just made no sense.”

8. Wife of Republican accuses RUC of 'heavy-handedness'

THE wife of a Derry Republican, who was arrested in Creggan on Sunday, June 3, on suspicion of “Republican activity”, accused the RUC of “heavy-handedness”. She was speaking to Newswire before a rally was held in Creggan organised to highlight local people's anger at police raids in the area.

The rally, entitled Creggan Under Siege, was organised after Gabrielle Lancaster's house in Circular Road was raided and her 50-year-old husband, who is a member of the 32CSM, was arrested. Mrs Lancaster claimed her 20-year-old daughter and 22-year-old son were 'man-handled' by the RUC during the house raid.

She alleged that a member grabbed her daughter by the wrist as she made to open the living-room door and that her son was pinned to the sofa by another. She also alleged that the RUC/PSNI was drilling in her attic during the raid.

9. ‘A lady I really admire on this royal jubilee”

A SPOKESMAN for the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry said on June 4: “Listening to the sycophantic BBC coverage of the [British] Queen's Jubilee this evening I was struck by one of the many contradictions of the past few days. Apparently the Guards Regiments of the British army marched past Buckingham Palace. They are of course the dedicated regiments charged with protecting the British Royal family.

“Did ALL of the Irish Guards take part? If so then this means that the soldier convicted of the murder of Belfast teenager Peter Mc Bride in 1992 also polished his boots this morning, proudly donned his uniform and did his bit for Queen and country. It is to the eternal shame of the British Army that soldiers convicted of murdering Irish citizens were released early from life sentences and allowed to rejoin their regiments.

“While in prison the Scots Guards composed a special tune on the bagpipes demanding the release of their 'boys'. One of those convicted of the murder has since left the Army and the other was transferred to the Irish Guards.

“In this year of anniversaries I remember September 4 1992, 20 years ago, when Peter Mc Bride was murdered. And there is a lady I really admire on this anniversary - his mother Jean! See for background.” Paul/PFC

10. Halt to funding of respite care services being considered

THE 26-County Administration is examining controversial plans to cease funding respite care services that benefit thousands of families with disabled children each year, according to a report in the Irish Times, June 4, 2012.

Disability service providers have until now received State funding to provide respite care. These services allow people with disabilities to continue living with their families and in their communities.

However, families also receive a respite care grant from the Department of Social Protection of ?1,700 a year. Carers are free to spend this money in whatever way they wish. This grant costs the State about ?130 million a year.

Senior political sources say increasing pressure on public finances means the Administration can no longer afford to “pay twice” for respite services.

As a result, plans are being drawn up to cease funding disability services providers for respite care. Instead, families would be required to pay for respite care out of their annual grant.

“It forms part of what we’re looking at in providing individualised payments for people with disabilities and their families to buy the kind of services they really need,” according to a spokesperson from the Department of Social Protection

At present, the Dublin Administration gives about ?1.5 billion to health authorities and voluntary bodies to provide a range of residential, respite and day services for people with disabilities. The new plans would allow them to cut back significantly on the money provided.

Deirdre Carroll, former chief executive of Inclusion Ireland, an umbrella group of people with disabilities, said such plans would likely receive a hostile reaction.

“I think a move like this would be received very badly. The needs of individuals and their families vary greatly. Unless there is a system to ensure people’s individual needs are met, many families may not be able to afford respite care, she said.

11. Support the fight for the withdrawal of the Greek memorandum (austerity plan)

“WORKERS, political and trade union activists gathered in Nauplia [Nafplio], Greece, on May 17. We have discussed the situation. Many of us voted for Syriza on the May 6, others for other candidates, but all of us are united to say that what gathers us together -- we and the immense majority of the workers and the people of Greece -- and what has been expressed in the strikes and mobilisations for over a year-and-a-half now, as was expressed in the May 6 elections is this central demand:


Cancelling the memorandum means opening the possibility for the unemployed to find employment; it means opening the possibility for the employed and the retired who can no longer feed their families to win back their salaries and their retirement pensions, at the level of before the memorandum. Cancelling the memorandum means opening the way to cancelling the privatisation of energy, water and railways; it means winning back the means for ensuring public education for the young, and the means for the hospitals to re-establish the right to healthcare for the ill. It is the first step towards the cancellation of all the austerity measures, including the undermining of collective bargaining agreements and minimum wages.

Cancelling the memorandum means opening the way to the re-establishment of the democracy and sovereignty that the Troika has been violating for months now, in our country as in all of Europe. For over a week, the leaders of IMF, the European Union, the ECB, the ‘financial markets’, the bankers of New York, London, Paris, Frankfort -- the Merkels, the Barrosos, the Junkers -- have been posturing, sounding the alarm, threatening and blackmailing… because Alexis Tsipras, of SYRIZA, dared to declare that the MEMORANDUM MUST BE CANCELLED, while also refusing to put together a coalition government in order to pursue the implementation of the barbaric Memorandum.

Whatever our political and trade union affiliations, we say this: ALEXIS TSIPRAS IS RIGHT WHEN HE SAYS: CANCELLATION OF THE MEMORANDUM!

Because for us, for all the workers, the unemployed, the young, the retired, the peasants … CANCELLING THE MEMORANDUM is a question of survival! Shouldn't all parties claiming to defend the workers unite around this elementary demand?

At their joint press conference on Tuesday May 15, Angela Merkel and François Hollande sent out “a call to the people of Greece”. It was no surprise to hear Merkel declare that, whatever the result of the elections, "the Memorandum must be respected". As for François Hollande, he contributed: "I have no answer that would be different from the chancellor's".

But weren't those ‘commitments’ to implement the Memorandum -- made to the Troika by the PASOK, the ND and LAOS -- rejected by the vote of the Greek people on May 6?

This rejection is the rejection by all the workers in all of Europe of the parties and governments that implement the Troika's policy of austerity. Whether it be in elections, as was recently the case in France, in Italy and in the German Lânder of Rhenania North-Westphalia, or in the mobilization of the workers with their trade unions in strikes and demonstrations, as in the strike of 10 million workers on March 29 in Spain against the Labour Law reform, or in the demonstrations in January-February in Romania against the healthcare reform, the workers' and peoples' rejection is overwhelming against these counter-reforms which are the direct consequences of the demands of the European Union and the IMF.

Nauplia, Greece -- May 17, 2012

12. Derry teenager speaks of life-changing Gaza trip

DERRY teenager, Ruairi McLaughlin, returned from Gaza in April as part of an Irish delegation to establish student links with the region. Here he speaks of his experiences:

“We travelled from Ireland to Cairo and spent eight hours on a bus to Rafah. We had an armed escort the entire way.

“We were granted permission to enter Gaza as 'negotiators'. When we entered we were mobbed by the media and a press conference was immediately held. After this we were taken to meet the Mayor of Khanyounis which is Derry's sister city.

“I was delighted and honoured to have been asked to represent Ireland on this delegation to Palestine. Although I was excited about what was in store for us prior to the trip, nothing could have prepared me for what I was to experience in what was to turn in to a week of intense contrasting emotions.

“On our first night there we could hear the Israeli F16 bombers overhead.
Over the next few days we held meetings with the ministries of education, sport, detainees and social development. We met with Fatah and Hamas.

“We visited mothers, fathers, children in their homes as well as families in refugee camps. We met with the president of the Palestinian Legislative Council. We also teamed up with the English to play football against some of Palestine's national beach footballers. “We met with the presidents of Al Aqsa uni, Islamic uni & Palestinian Technical college. We met with the families of detainees. We met with a range of NGO's and are currently rolling out a work plan to assist with their work. I addressed University lectures.

“I spoke to a child who told me of how his brother had been killed by a rocket right in front of him 14 days earlier. I went to see the home and family of three children who died in a fire as an indirect result of the illegal blockade on Gaza. If the conditions created by the blockade were the result of a natural disaster, the governments of the world would unite to help the people who are suffering to a level which I cannot even begin to articulate.

“But what I will always remember is the smiles of the children as we came to see them in the schools, in the refugee camps, in their homes. People were dying around them, but they always had incredible beaming smiles when they seen us. It wasn't because they didn't care about what was happening around them, it was because they were just children. They were just purely innocent. The challenge is now for us to do our best to make sure that those children grow up in a normal society and feeling the safety that all children of the world deserve

13. Shannon Airport vigil June 10

SHANNONWATCH have organised a vigil at Shannon Airport vigil on June 10 at

A spokesperson said: On average every day 600 US troops land in Shannon Airport. After the terrible wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the US and their allies have at least learned one thing. WAR IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS.

“So they are planning not only other wars on Syria and Iran but are planning another against China as their massive military build up to encircle China begins.

“What have the Irish political elite of Fine Gael, Fiánna Fail and Labour learned? They have learned to touch the forelock.

“What have the people of Ireland learned? They have learned that all they are offered by the political elite is perpetual war and perpetual austerity.

“The only way these wars can be ended and a decent society created is by standing up and opposing this motley collection of born-again Redmondites, and one way of doing it is supporting the Shannonwatch vigil.”

14. Save the lives of Mahmoud Sarsak and Akram Rikhawi!

ON the 81st day of his Hunger Strike, Mahmoud Sarsak’s life is in immediate danger. Yet the Israeli racist regime is building on our fatigue after the latest mass Hunger Strike and the successful solidarity campaign and is deliberately trying to drive Mahmoud to his death.

Unlike Khader Adnan, who was transferred to the Safad Hospital, Mahmoud and Akram Rikhawi, who is on his 57th day of strike, are intentionally denied proper medical care. On May 30, the Israeli court gave the prison authorities a long period, till June 10, until they should even allow the two striking prisoners access to independent doctors, in spite of the immediate danger to their lives!

The mass hunger strike achieved a promise to release most Palestinian prisoners that are held without charge under administrative detention and to tighten the criteria for such detention. But Mahmoud Sarsak is held under another clause, “Illegal Enemy Combatant” without charge and without trial and with even less legal supervision.

After almost three years in detention all that we know about Mahmoud Sarsak from Rafah, in the Gaza strip, is that he was a football player for the Palestinian National Team. He was not caught in battle or hiding. On July 22, 2009, he arrived at the Erez checkpoint on his way to the West Bank after getting an Israeli permission to join the team in a match in Balata. Upon his arrival he was arrested, interrogated for 30 days and since then he is held without charge or trial.

It is not so hard for Israel to charge Palestinians and sentence them to long periods in prison for the flimsiest of charges. In fact, in Israel’s military courts the rights of Palestinian defendants are not protected in any way. Israeli civilian courts “believe” any lie that is told by the Shabak and tend to give Palestinians that are accused of breaching “state security” even harsher verdicts than their military counterparts. In fact, when somebody gets two-four years of imprisonment all the people around him will say: “You see, we knew all along that they have nothing against him!”

So, as Mahmoud Sarsak is held without charge or trial, it is only because Israel wants to show that it can do it. When they try to drive him to his death now, it is in order to break the new protest movement and show that the lives, like the freedom, of Palestinians have no value and no protection.

There is a lot that you can do about it:

* You can organise or participate in a demonstration.
* You can make a protest vigil.
* You can publish or share on Facebook or other media.
* You can write graffiti.
* You can design a poster.
* You can put Mahmoud’s images and posters in public places.
* You write letters, fax or petition to ask for Mahmoud’s immediate release.
* You can demand local, national or international football or sport bodies to boycott Israeli sports as long as Israel oppresses the Palestinians and especially prevents them from freely practicing sports.
* You can organise BDS activities and dedicate them to the cause of Mahmoud Sarsak and all Palestinian Prisoners.
* You can talk with your friends and ask them to do something to save Mahmoud’s life.
If enough of us will do just something of all these, we can save Mahmoud’s life. Because Israel has nothing real against him. It can go on with this ruthless violation of Human Rights only as long as the world keeps silent.

Please act now!

For additional details on Mahmoud Sarsak’s case see:
Electronic intifada: Interview with Mahmoud’s father in the BBC.
Appeal from Addameer and other human rights organizations.
From: Yoav Haifawi
Sent: 03/06/12

15. German submarines sold to Israel can fire nuclear-tipped cruise missiles

SUBMARINES produced by Germany and supplied to Israel as part of an extensive arms deal are equipped to enable the launch of nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported on June 3, 2012.

Last month, Israel received its fourth Dolphin-class submarine from Germany,[called Tanin] which is expected to become operational in 2013.

According to a senior Israel Navy officer, the "submarine has a range for everything," adding that it needs to refuel and charge its batteries only occasionally.

"This submarine can stay underwater for longer," he added, saying it had both "visible and invisible" abilities and was meant to operate in the Mediterranean.

In a ceremony in Germany, attended by senior members of Israel's Defense Ministry and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), including the Defence Ministry director general Udi Shani, Israel Navy commander Ram Rotberg and German authorities the officials inaugurated the

The first three submarines were given to Israel by Germany in the late 1990s, with the German government footing most of the bill.

According to foreign reports, they are equipped with cruise missiles that have a range of 1,500 kilometres and can carry nuclear warheads. These reports say the submarines enable Israel to deliver a "second strike" in the event of a nuclear attack.

In its report on Sunday, June 3, Der Spiegel, citing a months-long probe, confirmed that the submarines supplied by Germany were indeed fitted to enable nuclear-warhead carrying cruise missiles.

Under the headline “Secret Operation: Samson” the German weekly indicated that “after years of speculations as to the technical armament of the submarines Germany exports to Israel,” experts in “Germany and in Jerusalem now confirm: They are armed with nuclear warheads.”

“Berlin has known this for quite some time,” the article added.

In his column opening Sunday's Der Spiegel, Editor in Chief Georg Mascolo wrote that “months-long research proves that the submarines Germany supplies the Israeli navy make use of equipment to carry nuclear weapons.”

“Now, German officials admit, since they know what the use Israel is making of German weapons,” Mascolo added.

If the information acquired by Der Spiegel is indeed correct, it could cause quite a bit of embarrassment to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government, which have been consistent in their claim that the submarines provided to Israel are not nuclear.
The German left-wing has dispensed harsh criticism over the supply of the naval crafts to Israel, claims that Merkel has thus far been able to reject.

16. No closure in killing of 21 Gaza family members

ON January 4, 2009, at the start of the ground phase of Operation Cast Lead, about 100 members of the extended al-Samouni family were huddled inside one house in the a-Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City. The next morning, an Israeli airstrike killed 21 people inside the house, including nine children and 10 women, and injured dozens of other family members.

During the next two days, the army refused access to medical teams, in spite of being informed of the terrible outcome by family members who managed to escape the bombed home and human rights and humanitarian organizations, including B’Tselem.

When medics managed to get to site, they found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses, and evacuated several wounded people. The army refused permission to evacuate the bodies and they remained in the rubble for a further two weeks.

These chilling facts are not in dispute. Yet last week the Military Advocate General (MAG) of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) informed B’Tselem that he had decided to close the Military Police investigation into this incident without taking any measures. According to the MAG, there are no grounds for criminal or disciplinary measures against any of those involved in the shelling of the al-Samouni house.

A “command sanction” was imposed on the Givati Brigade Commander, preventing him from future promotion to a command position in an operational environment.

The military’s response does not detail the findings of the investigation, nor does it provide the reasons behind the decision to close the file. Contrary to several coherent accounts given separately, in real time, by surviving al-Samouni family members, the MAG found “no grounds to the allegation that IDF forces directed civilians to gather in the house which was later struck,” but did not explain why he completely disregarded their credible testimonies.

By way of explaining this decision, the MAG Corps website states that the investigation disproved the allegations that strikes were directly and intentionally aimed at uninvolved civilians. The MAG’s statement also ruled out recklessness regarding possible harm to civilians, or criminal negligence, noting the serious challenges and complex operational circumstances of the Gaza operation.

The lack of accountability for the al-Samouni family is no aberration. Some 50 military police investigations were opened into harm to Palestinian civilians in Operation Cast Lead, yet the overwhelming majority appear to be gathering dust.

The MAG Corps has created a haze around these investigations, preventing any possibility of examining their effectiveness.

It appears that three indictments have been filed against soldiers who took part in Cast Lead: for theft of a credit card from a Palestinian civilian, for use of a nine-year-old Palestinian child as a human shield, and for “manslaughter of an anonymous person.” In three other cases, disciplinary action alone was taken. The fate of the rest of the cases is entirely unclear.

There has never been an investigation meeting international standards into the suspicions raised by B’Tselem and other organisations regarding breaches of international humanitarian law by the military during the operation. Most of B’Tselem’s demands for investigation were not met. The investigations that were opened did not, to B’Tselem’s knowledge, address issues of policy, but rather focused on the individual incidents.

The al-Samouni case only illustrates the broader problem regarding the military’s ability to examine itself. Shirking responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the widespread devastation caused by Cast Lead demonstrates yet again the need for an Israeli investigation mechanism that is external to the army.

Over three years later, the scars have barely begun to heal for the al-Samouni family. It is intolerable that we as a society can treat this incident as a sad but inevitable part of military operations. The al-Samouni family deserves answers and Israeli society deserves them as well.
--Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, writing in the Jerusalem Post on May 7, 2012 [edited].

17. Israel returned the remains of Palestinian bodies

ON May 31, Israel handed over to the Palestinian Authority the remains of 91 Palestinians who died in operations as far back as 1975.

The repatriation of the bodies forms part of a deal to end a mass hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Israeli officials say the transfer is a confidence-building gesture.

However, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has given no indication that he is willing to return to talks.

Coffins containing the remains, which had been interred in numbered graves in an Israeli military cemetery for “enemy combatants”, were handed over at dawn.

Palestinians don't have a state but the ceremony today had some of the trappings of a state funeral. Proceedings were led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
There was a military feel. A lone bugler played the Last Post and Palestinian security forces offered a salute, firing into the air.

Relatives of the dead then carried the coffins draped in red, black, white and green Palestinian flags and loaded them on to trucks. The remains will now be reburied.

For most Palestinians, these men were martyrs who died fighting for the Palestinian cause. This transfer was part of a deal earlier this month to end a mass hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Israel said it was a gesture aimed at building confidence.

Such confidence is in short supply. Direct peace talks between the two sides collapsed in 2010. Most Palestinians and Israelis would say only a fool would be optimistic about a significant breakthrough any time soon.

The head of the Palestinian general committee for civil affairs said 79 coffins were transferred to Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) has its headquarters.
The official said the other 12 were taken to Gaza, which is run by the militant Islamist Hamas movement.

President Abbas, the head of the PA, attended a ceremony at his compound, Muqataa, to receive the coffins, each of them draped in a Palestinian flag.

According to Israeli media, Hamas will hold a full military service for the remains in Gaza, with each coffin receiving a 21-gun salute. They will then be shuttled to various towns for burial.

The repatriation has long been a sensitive issue often subject to prolonged negotiations, the BBC's Jon Donnison in Ramallah says.

The dead are considered martyrs by Palestinians, but terrorists by Israelis, and their remains are used as bargaining chips, he says.

Earlier this month, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails agreed to end a mass hunger strike, which had been going on for more than two months.
More than 1,500 Palestinians had been refusing food to demand an improvement in conditions.



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