Syrian security forces have fired live bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of people demonstrating in areas across the country. Witnesses say at least five people have been wounded. Shootings were reported on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, and in the central city of Homs.
The protesters on the outskirts of Damascus on Friday chanted: "The people want the downfall of the regime." It's the same rallying cry that was heard during the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
Thousands in Syria call for 'overthrow' of Assad regime
AMMAN - Syrian security forces fired tear gas on Friday to disperse a pro-democracy protest in the historic Midan district of Damascus while thousands demonstrated in the southern city of Deraa and called for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad's regime.
The protests, in the city which saw the outbreak of Syria's five-week-old popular demonstrations, came a day after Assad lifted a draconian state of emergency which had been in place for nearly 50 years -- one of the key demands of the protesters
More than 50 killed as protests spread to 25 Syrian towns
The pro-democracy, anti-Assad days of rage spread dramatically across Syria Friday, April 8, flaring in 25 cities and seriously shaking Bashar Assad's 11-year old grip on power for the first time since the movement began three weeks ago. At least 50 people were killed – 30 demonstrators and 20 security officers - and hundreds injured - many of them in the southern town of Daraa, the epicenter of the opposition movement.
The disturbances Friday did not reach the center of Damascus or Aleppo, a Sunni city of 2.8 million inhabitants which is Syria's economic hub. Major outbreaks there would drive a big crack in Assad's hold on power..
Hezbollah might attack Israel target to help Iran
Tehran could activate Hezbollah forces to attack Israel along the northern border in an effort to stave off domestic pressures within Iran, according to assessments in the IDF’s Northern Command.
The concern within the army is that if the regime in Tehran feels under pressure due to anti-government demonstrations it will try to initiate an attack on an Israeli target – either overseas or near the border – to divert attention from its own troubles.
France: EU may recognize Palestinian statehood
France said Thursday that European nations were considering unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.
“Recognition of the state of Palestine is one of the options which France is considering, with its European partners, in a bid to relaunch the peace process,” AFP quoted French Ambassador Gerard Araud as telling a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East.
UN urges Israel and PA to take 'bold steps'
The United Nations called on Thursday for “bold and decisive steps” to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as the region awaits a possible new initiative by US President Barack Obama.
UN political chief Lynn Pascoe and ambassadors of key Security Council countries said it was important to break the deadlock soon as a proclaimed September deadline for reaching an agreement draws closer.
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is different from what the Security Council envisions:
Israeli Ambassador Meron Reuben cited terrorists and extremists pursuing “the same destructive agendas” as springboards for disaster in the region.
Recent events in the Gaza Strip, Reuben said, “provide another clear example of the destabilizing threat posed by these terrorists and their patrons, bringing to light, once again, the depth of their callousness in carrying out violent attacks that deliberately target innocent civilians: men, women, and children.”
Reuben noted that since the beginning of March, Hamas and other terror groups have launched 92 rockets and 141 mortars at civilians throughout southern Israel, calling it “the most serious escalation of projectile fire emanating from Gaza in more than two years.”
“There is no question about the intended targets of these attacks,” Reuben said, highlighting the clear intent to strike at a civilian population. He referenced the April 7 Hamas attack on a school bus in southern Israel which fatally wounded 16-year-old Daniel Raphael Viflic.
“I ask my colleagues sitting around this table: Can you imagine how you would feel if an anti-tank missile was deliberately fired at such a bus in Manhattan or Brooklyn?” Reuben asked the Security Council.
“This is the reality facing many Israelis today. This is also the reality facing the Israeli government as it seeks to pursue the terrorists that carry out these horrific attacks – terrorists who consistently demonstrate their disregard for any considerations of human life and basic precepts of international law.
You won't believe who al-Qaida is fighting now
The group representing al-Qaida in the Gaza Strip is far larger and more organized than most security officials here previously thought.
WND has obtained an internal report prepared this week by the Egyptian government, with input from Hamas, that puts the numbers of al-Qaida terrorists in Gaza at between 2,600 and 3,000 armed men.
Unlike other radical Islamic organizations such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which have demonstrated pragmatism in some aspects of political life while still holding an Islamist worldview, the new al-Qaida organization in question believes in a strict interpretation of the Quran and that only the Quran can dictate how to act.
The Islamist group believes jihad is the primary way to spread Islam around the world, including jihad against secular Muslim states.
Report: Obama's Diplomatic Plan - PA State
United States President Barack Obama has created his own diplomatic plan for talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to rival that of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to the New York Times.
Obama's plan is reportedly based on principles including: the creation of a PA state in Judea and Samaria, with borders based on the 1948 armistice line, the split of Jerusalem, Israel's capital city, the negation of the PA “right of return” for descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948, and a focus on Israel's security needs.
Reports that Obama is concocting his own plan for the establishment of a new Arab state in Judea and Samaria angered land of Israel activists. “Nobody has the right to steal parts of the land of Israel,” said Women for Israel's Future in response.
“Obama's Middle East policy is creating waves of terrorism, and chaos. The 'peace' initiatives veil a deep enmity and the desire to see Israel fall,” the group continued.
“There is no doubt that the failed military intervention in Libya was meant to create a precedent for a similar process against Israel.”