House arrest for Jewish minors held over killing of Palestinian

Palestinians carry the body of 48-year-old mother of eight, Aisha Rabi, who died of her wounds after the car she was travelling in with her husband was hit by stones, during her funeral in the West Bank village of Bidya, near Salfit. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019
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House arrest for Jewish minors held over killing of Palestinian

  • Authorities did not confirm their detention until Sunday due to a gag order on details of the case while the investigation continued
  • The remand of the fifth suspect has been extended by another six days

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities on Thursday released to house arrest four of five Jewish minors held on suspicion of involvement in a fatal stone-throwing attack on a Palestinian woman, lawyers and officials said.
The arrests on December 30 were in connection with the killing of Aisha Rabi, who died after stones were thrown at the car she was traveling in with her family in the occupied West Bank on October 12.
Authorities did not confirm their detention until Sunday due to a gag order on details of the case while the investigation continued.
The remand of the fifth suspect has been extended by another six days, Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet said.
The lawyers representing the minors argued that their release proved they were innocent.
“These youths, who had absolutely nothing to do with the event, should not have been arrested,” said attorney Adi Kedar of Honenu, a right-wing legal aid organization, vowing to work to have the fifth suspect released.
The Shin Bet, which on Sunday announced an unspecified number of arrests for “serious terrorist offenses, including murder,” rejected claims the youths were mistreated during their investigation.
The five, students at the Pri Haaretz religious seminary in the Rechelim settlement in the West Bank, were arrested “after intelligence efforts connecting them to the death of Rabi,” a mother of nine, the Shin Bet said Thursday.
The Shin Bet noted the four were released after it was decided “the investigation could continue while they were under house arrest and other limiting conditions.”
It also warned of “ongoing efforts” to obstruct the course of the investigation, “including by disseminating information about the probe while slandering the Shin Bet.”
The fatal stoning took place near Rechelim, close to Rabi’s village of Bidiya in the Israeli-occupied northern West Bank.
Rabi was struck on the head in the attack and died later at a hospital in the city of Nablus. Her husband, who was driving the car at the time, escaped with minor injuries.
Palestinian witnesses and security sources cited by official Palestinian news agency WAFA said the stones were thrown by Israeli settlers.
Israeli investigations into “Jewish terrorism” — as such cases are often referred to by Israeli media — are highly sensitive.
Israeli authorities have been accused by rights activists of dragging their feet in such cases in comparison to investigations into Palestinian attacks, while far-right Israelis say suspects have undergone coercement and torture.


From tourism to terrorism: How the revolution changed Iran

Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi with his third wife Farah and their son Reza (left). Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (right). (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019
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From tourism to terrorism: How the revolution changed Iran

  • Forty years ago on Wednesday, the shah went into exile and less than a month later, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini assumed power
  • His departure paved the way for the establishment of an Islamic republic hostile to Arab Gulf states

DUBAI: Forty years ago today, Iran’s then-shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, fled the country after a 37-year reign, in the first stage of a revolution that would replace 2,500 years of monarchy with an Islamic republic.

Prior to the revolution, Iran very much resembled Western countries, with a flourishing economy and tourists flocking to the country for its breath-taking landscapes, beaches and various activities, including hiking and skiing. 

The shah’s departure, prompted by mass protests, paved the way for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to return from exile in France, assuming power on Feb. 11, 1979. 

It was “a genuine social revolution against tyranny, domestic and foreign — the first represented by the shah and the second by… the US,” said Dr. Albadr Al-Shateri, politics professor at the National Defence College in Abu Dhabi.

“The revolution went awry when religious leaders dominated the government, imposed its version of Islam and eliminated their partners in the revolution, including Iranian nationalists.”

Not long after Khomeini took over, the world got a taste of the new regime. Fifty-two American diplomats and citizens were taken hostage on Nov. 4, 1979, and were held for 444 days, after a group of Iranian students who supported the revolution took over the US Embassy in Tehran. 

The Iran-Iraq war, which began in 1980 and lasted for eight years, contributed to the deterioration of Iran’s situation. 

“Fear of the new regime’s attempt to export the revolution to a Shiite-majority neighbor led Iraq to initiate the war,” Al-Shateri said. 

“However, Iran’s insistence on continuing the war until the toppling of the regime of Saddam Hussein exacted a heavy cost on both countries in human and economic terms,” he added. 

“Iran had legitimate grievances against the US, but the way it tried to redress these gripes was counterproductive.”

The shah was considered one of the best customers of the US defense industry. But his Western-inspired reforms sparked turbulent social change that aggravated the clergy, while his consolidation of power and the secret police gave him the reputation of a dictator.

Opposition to his reign and corruption among Tehran’s elite created an influential alliance of radical Islamists. 

Although Pahlavi tried to modernize Iran, driving up oil prices in the early 1970s and implementing reforms in education and health care, he became alienated among Iranians and angered the conservative clergy, who helped drive his exile. 

“Iran changed significantly from before the revolution to after, from a more civil, open and decent Iran to a closed, aggressive and sectarian one,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences. 

“Post-1979 Iran is deeply sectarian, and is not only responsible for sharpening the Sunni-Shiite divide, but also wholly responsible for politicizing and militarizing it,” he added.

Iran “has funded and armed Shiite militias, and has done everything possible to strengthen them so they can challenge the nation-state, Lebanon being a clear example.” 

Post-1979 Iran does not “play by the rules of the game,” Abdulla added. “It became radical, revolutionary and sectarian, and was about to become nuclear, which is deeply destabilizing.”

He said: “Gulf states have lived with Iran for thousands of years, and they knew how to deal with it all along. They had the best possible neighborly relationship, but it has always been a difficult Iran, whether under the shah or Khomeini.”

Abdulla added: “We’ve never seen an Iran that has become the number-one terrorist country in the world except in the last 40 years.”

Mark Katz, professor of government and politics at the Schar School of Police and Government at George Mason University in the US, said: “Unlike the shah’s Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran sought to export its revolution to other Muslim countries, especially the Arab Gulf ones.” He added: “Still, it must be remembered that the shah’s Iran was also fairly aggressive. It seized Abu Musa and the Tunbs (islands) right when the British were leaving the Trucial States and the UAE was being formed. It had also laid claim to Bahrain.” 

Furthermore, while the shah’s troops helped defend Oman against a South Yemeni-backed Marxist insurgency in the 1970s, Katz said the presence of those Iranian troops in Oman was unsettling to Saudi Arabia in particular. 

“The shah had also got the best of Iraq in their border rivalry — something that Saddam Hussein sought to reverse after the Iranian revolution,” he added. 

Before the revolution, the shah’s Iran often behaved “aggressively toward its Arab neighbors, but its close cooperation with the US against the Soviet Union, which Iran bordered and the Gulf Arab states didn’t, meant that Washington wasn’t willing to act against the shah for doing so,” Katz said. By contrast, the rise of an anti-American government after the revolution led to the US working with Arab Gulf states against Iran. 

“Because the Islamic Republic behaved in such a hostile manner, both toward the Gulf Arabs as well as the US, the 1979 revolution led to the isolation and containment of Iran for many years,” Katz said. 

“Although it may seem counterintuitive, Iran may have posed a far greater problem for the Gulf Arabs if the… revolution hadn’t taken place, because if it hadn’t and Western investment in Iran continued or even grew, there would’ve been a tendency for Tehran to assert — and the US to value — an Iranian effort to be the leader in the Gulf in collaboration with the US.”