Fruit of ‘US-backed colonization’: Israel to DOUBLE Jewish population in West Bank’s Hebron

Two weeks after the US announced that it did not consider illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be in breach of international law, Israel announced a plan to double the Jewish population of Hebron.

The plan announced by Israel’s newly appointed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday will involve demolishing a wholesale market in Hebron and replacing it with a new neighborhood. At the moment, there are an estimated 200,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Jews living in the city.

The statement touted the move as ensuring “territorial continuity” between the existing Jewish Avraham Avinu neighborhood and the Tomb of the Patriarchs holy site, as well as the restoration of historic justice. The market area was owned by Jewish residents of Hebron since the early 19th century. But the deadly riot and pogroms of August 1929, in which dozens of Jewish residents were killed by Arab extremists, forced the evacuation of several Jewish neighborhoods.

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Control over the area switched hands along with the rest of the West Bank until going back to Israel after the 1967 war. The Palestinian wholesale market in Shuhada Street was constructed after that and remained a major gathering site until the 1990s. In 1994, a right-wing American-Israeli extremist opened fire at Palestinian worshipers, who had gathered to pray at a mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs compound. He killed 29 people and injured over a hundred before being overpowered and beaten to death. The incident led to Palestinian riot, to which the Israeli administration responded by shutting down Shuhada Street to Palestinians, effectively stifling business. Access has since been partially restored, but the marketplace shops were never allowed to recover due to remaining restrictions.

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The news was hailed by Jewish settlers in Hebron, who said it will bring justice “for which the Israeli nation has been waiting for 90 years.” Others were highly critical of the decision.

Dr Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and a former chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, said the Israeli move was the first tangible result of Washington’s decision “to legitimize colonization” two weeks ago. He was referring to the much-criticized announcement by the Trump administration that the US no longer considers Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be in violation of international law. Erekat called on the international community to impose sanctions against the Israeli settlements.

Criticism also came from Tamar Zandberg, a member of Knesset for the opposition Democratic Union. She branded Bennett “a messianic” and called Hebron “the capital of Israel’s apartheid,” referring to the separation of Jewish and Arab populations in the West Bank city.

The Bennett office said the redevelopment plan will respect the ownership of Palestinians to ground floor properties.

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Donald Trump administration fails to provide legal assistance for migrant children

Washington, September 10 (RHC)-- HuffPost reports the Trump administration is failing to provide legal aid for locked-up migrant children in at least three separate jails — a violation of federal law. 

Without the required legal services, migrant children are forced to navigate complicated legal proceedings alone and are more likely to be deported to potentially life-threatening situations. RAICES Executive Director Jonathan Ryan told HuffPost: “Our government is engaged in premeditated, deliberate acts of cruelty against children.  I don’t think one has to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that the government is attempting to systematically dismantle every framework of support for any immigrant in this country.”

Meanwhile, details from a lawsuit filed last month challenging the Trump administration over its termination of the Flores agreement have highlighted the dire conditions faced by locked-up migrant children.  Among the many violations, migrant girls reported being denied sufficient menstrual products and having to keep wearing soiled clothing throughout their periods.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Iran’s short-range missile can reach US fleet in Gulf – Revolutionary Guards deputy commander

The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has said that the US fleet in the Gulf is already within striking distance of his country’s short range missiles, adding that the US could not sustain a new war in the region.

“Even our short-range missiles can easily reach (US) warships in the Gulf,” Mohammad Saleh Jokar, the IRGC’s deputy for parliamentary affairs, was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying Friday. Jokar added that the US would be unable to sustain a conflict with Iran on account of financial, personnel and social reasons.

It marks the latest escalation in a war of words between the two countries as tensions mount amid renewed sanctions and political pressure from the US, along with a build-up of US forces in the region.

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“Iran is not after a conflict in the region but has always defended its interests powerfully and will do so now too,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday.

US carriers always deploy as part of a battlegroup so Iran’s large fleet of smaller fast boats would find it very difficult to get within striking distance without themselves being destroyed by US surface warships.

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The guided missile destroyers USS Gonzalez and USS McFaul recently joined the USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group on stand-by off the coast of Oman.

In recent years, Iran has developed the Khalij Fars (‘Persian Gulf’) anti-ship ballistic missile, which uses infrared guidance to slam a 1,433lb warhead into moving naval targets. Iran also unveiled the Mach 4 version of the Khalij Fars, the Hormuz -1 and -2 which is designed to seek out enemy radar systems and destroy them.

The Persian Gulf is quite narrow (ranging from 35 miles to 220 miles across in parts), for a carrier battle group and could afford the IRGC the opportunity to amass launchers within range of the US fleet with relative ease.

The consequences of any armed conflict between Iran and the US “would be literally incalculable” according to James Jatras, a former US diplomat and GOP Senate policy adviser.

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“One doesn’t really know where this goes next – let’s suppose Iran strikes the UAE or the Saudi oil fields or strikes the Israelis ... then what do those parties do next?” Jatras told, emphasizing that the conflict would quickly escalate to include US regional allies in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“Especially the Israelis who everybody knows have nuclear weapons. Although I doubt very much they would use those unless they were really down to an existential threat.”

Jatras also warned that “Moscow and Beijing would be foolish to stand back and watch the US take another piece off the chessboard” despite Pompeo’s attempts at warning the Kremlin against involvement in any potential conflict with Iran.

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Saudis can get away with anything 'as long as they bribe Washington'

The US will keep turning a blind eye to the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and other Saudi crimes, as long as Washington strikes lucrative arms deals with the kingdom, political analyst Lew Rockwell told RT.

“Questions of morality are entirely absent” from US foreign policy with regards to Saudi Arabia, Rockwell, who leads the Mises Institute, noted, adding that the White House is more interested in the kingdom’s economic assets than its human rights record.

“As long as the Saudis are willing to bribe enough Americans, or do what the US government wants in terms of oil or give big contracts to American companies, there is nothing they can do that would hurt them,” he stressed. Rockwell said that, enjoying such mutually-beneficial relations, the kingdom will likely feel confident to continue targeting dissidents and waging a bloody campaign in Yemen.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump’s approach to the Khashoggi case sparked anger, even among US senators. On Tuesday, he suggested that it “could very well be” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had known in advance of the plan to murder Khashoggi. But, nevertheless, the president refused to scrap major arms deals with the Arab nation. The Saudis pledged to invest $450 billion in the US, with $110 billion spent on buying US military gear, and it would be “foolish” to abandon those contracts, Trump stated.

In response, a bipartisan group of senators penned a letter urging the president to “determine” whether the Crown Prince bin Salman is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

The White House condemned the journalist’s murder and sanctioned 17 Saudi officials accused of masterminding and executing the crime, but fell short of criticizing the kingdom’s leadership. In a statement, titled “Standing with Saudi Arabia,” the president praised Riyadh as “great ally” in a fight against Iran and vowed that the US will remain “a steadfast partner” of the oil-rich country.

Investigative journalist Rick Sterling told RT that Trump’s statement serves as “a confession that the US foreign policy is basically driven by the military-industrial complex,” which is due to receive a large boost from dealings with Riyadh.

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Washington remains loyal to Saudi Arabia because “the US under President Trump is first and foremost a weapons and arms dealer,” the journalist argued. “It’s really not in the interest of the American people. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing like this. But for the rest, it’s a disaster.”

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