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The Gaza tunnels 14, October 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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For some months or years now I have read various articles about the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. I’ve read that they are needed if not essential to help the Palestinians affected by the Isreali blockade which is causing massive and lethal shortages in the territories. Yet when i read these sorts of articles, i brought with me – as always – my own particular cultural baggage. In this example, unwittingly, I assumed that the tunnels would be like the resistance tunnel in occupied France, some of which I’ve seen. Such tunnels were, for example, dug under houses so that the resistance could disappear there should the Germans come to the house looking for them. They could fit one or two people in side by side, perhaps, in the largest examples and were generally quite short. This was my assumption. Yet, a recent article goes to show just how careful one needs to be with assumptions. Indeed, as the saying goes, they make an ass out of you and me.

For the tunnels, or at least some of them, across the Gaza-Egypt border are somewhat bigger than the resistance’s tunnels. According to Al Sharq Al Awsat some are as deep as 18 metres and as long as 1km. A further revelation (for me, at least) in the article was that there are apparently some 1100 tunnels traversing the border. Needless to say, with this number of tunnels operation, there are a whole raft of concerns from child labour to the real and evidenced danger of tunnels collapsing. So much so that supporters have begun a charity to help those killed by working in the tunnels.

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Saudi execution rate up to two per day 14, October 2008

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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A new amnesty report states that Saudi Arabia are executing prisoners at a rate of more than two per day. The Kingdom does not release official figures but Amnesty themselves have recorded 1695 executions between 1985 and May 2008. As if this is not bad enough, it transpires that foreigners make up a disproportionately large number of these executions. Despite being only 25% of the population, 830 of those executed were foreigners, nearly 50% of the total.

Amnesty further charge that the trials are held in secret and the defendants are not necessarily provided with a lawyer and might not even be able to understand the proceedings. Additionally, whilst pardons are granted on some occasions, Saudi nationals are eight times more likely to get away with it through the paying of blood money. There are, as ever, the usual protestations regarding the use of torture in Saudi police stations to obtain confessions to top off a thoroughly depressing report.