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[Transcript]  Mosaic News - 08/18/11: World News From The Middle East [VIDEO]

Israel pounds Gaza in retaliation for unclaimed attacks on Eilat

BBC Arabic, UK
Presenter, Male #1
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers the attack in southern Israel an encroachment on Israel's sovereignty. He said this in a statement issued from his office, commenting on the three attacks that killed at least six Israelis today near Eilat city. The following report has the details.

Reporter, Male #2
The military operations that targeted a bus and military and civilian vehicles shocked Israel. According to Israeli military sources, the bus carrying civilians and members of the military was on its way to Eilat city in southern Israel. Thirty kilometers from the city, a civilian car stopped nearby and three people emerged and began opening fire on the bus with automatic weapons, killing and wounding a number of people, then fled the scene. After the attack, the bus rushed to a military base to request that ambulances and helicopters be dispatched to the site and evacuate the passengers to Eilat Hospital.

Guest, Female #1
I was talking with a friend on the bus, then suddenly we heard gunfire and we saw fragments flying around. At that moment we realized that we were attacked by gunmen.

Reporter, Male #2
The story does not end here. According to military sources, the gunmen opened fire on an Israeli military vehicle several kilometers from the first site and shot several soldiers. The army believes that the civilian car used by the gunmen entered Israel from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula adjacent to the site of the attacks. Seconds after the first two attacks, more gunfire was targeted at an Israeli civilian car.

Guest, Female #2
My husband and I were driving in our car when we saw a soldier getting down on his knees. So I said to my husband, "Look, what is that soldier doing?" I thought he was praying. A few seconds later, we heard and felt consecutive shots at our car. I told my children to get down on the floor of the car then we escaped.

Reporter, Male #2
In a helicopter, the Israeli Special Forces combed the desert area and clashed with the gunmen. They managed to stop them from escaping. In this operation, dozens of Israeli civilians and military members were killed and wounded.

Guest, Male #3
The medical crews in Yoseftal Hospital of Eilat are preparing to receive the wounded. In addition, a medical team is on its way to the city and a helicopter carrying seven of the wounded will soon land.

Reporter, Male #2
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak pointed an accusing finger at the Gaza Strip. He threatened to strike what he referred to as "terrorist strongholds" with an iron fist. For its part, Hamas considered the operation a natural response to Israel's repeated attacks, saying that it welcomes any attack on Zionist targets. Ehud Barak said that the operation reflects the weakening Egyptian hold on Sinai and the expansion of terrorist activities in the area. All attention now will be focused on the Gaza Strip. It appears that the Israeli threats will lead to escalated military attacks on the Gaza Strip. Ahmed al-Budairi, BBC, Jerusalem.

Once-safe Egyptian border becomes threat for Israel

IBA, Israel
Joining us now in the studio is Dr. Nahman Shai, Kadima member of Knesset and former IDF spokesman. Was the response time of the security forces adequate in this incident? Shai: Well, as you all know, this was the quietest border of Israel in over 30 years. So obviously there were no troops waiting on the borderline to take care of such an attack and it took some time, maybe too long. But I'm not sure, now is the time to check whether it was short or long, or whatever. The very problem is that now we face a real threat from Sinai into Israel, and it was materialized today, probably not for the last time. Sinai is not fully controlled by the Egyptian army.

Israel quick to blame Gaza for Eilat attacks

Press TV, Iran
Joining us is human rights lawyer, Amjad al-Salfiti, who joins us from London; professor of political science at al-Azahr University, Mukhaimar Abu Sada, who joins us from Gaza; and rounding out the list from the executive intelligence review, Bill Jones, joins us from Washington. After the attack, Israel was quick to conclude first that the planning had occurred in Gaza, no reference to Hamas, and then saying that gunmen came from Gaza via Egypt. Why do you think Israel made that conclusion? Mukhaimar Abu Sada: Well as you just mentioned, it is very early to decide whether the attackers came from the Gaza Strip to go all this way, about 250 kilometers from the borders of Gaza, all the way to the city of Eilat. Still, the Palestinian government here in Gaza has denied any responsibility for the attack on the Israelis, on Eilat and denied any relationship with this attack. But Israel was very quick to blame the Palestinians.

Libyan opposition fears bloodbath as rebels claim Tripoli advance

Al Jazeera, Qatar
Presenter, Female #1
Sources from the Libyan revolutionaries told al-Jazeera they are advancing from Misurata to the east, towards the city of Sirte, the birthplace of Colonel Gaddafi where his battalions are massing.

Presenter, Male #1
This development on the ground comes as the revolutionaries continue their advance to the Tripoli front. Head of the Libyan Transitional Council Mustafa Abdul Jalil spoke of fear that a scorched earth policy could be pursued in Tripoli.

Presenter, Female #1
Some reports indicated a major operation is to be expected within days to end Gaddafi's reign.

Presenter, Male #1
The city of Brega is still the stage for seesaw battles between the battalions and the revolutionaries who achieved progress in parts of the city, especially the area of al-Arqub.
Reporter, Male #2
Libya's decisive days take time, as predicted by the developments on the ground. The revolutionaries continue to prepare for the great battle in the western city of Tripoli, where a scorched earth policy could be pursued according to Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the head of the Transitional Council. And even though Benghazi is no longer a battleground, it remains a center for training and equipping the fighters.

Guest, Male #3
Now this is the Omar Mukhtar Battalion, the battalion of Libya's free. The third batch of mujahideen is graduating, God willing, they will participate in the battle on the frontlines. As you can see, they are some of the best youth in the country. Some of them are engineers, and some of them are doctors.

Reporter, Male #2
As the battle in Libya enters its sixth month, developments suggest the countdown has begun, especially after the revolutionaries took control of Sabratha in western Libya. In the eastern city of Brega, battles are raging between Gaddafi's battalions and the revolutionaries who now control al-Arqub, the city's main entrance after removing landmines. The fierce fighting there led to a high death toll in the ranks of both sides. And heading east from Misurata towards Sirte, the revolutionaries' military operations have begun toward the coastal city, the birthplace of the Libyan colonel, where al Gaddafi's battalions are massing. Clashes have erupted near the town of Tawergha. In az-Zawiyah, the revolutionaries took control of most of the city after liberating its last pockets from al-Gaddafi's battalions, including its refineries and oil facilities. Sources say these facilities could be operational again within a few days. In the south, the revolutionaries liberated the city of Merzouk following fierce confrontations that led the revolutionaries to capture a number of al-Gaddafi's men, including a brigadier-general. In addition, they destroyed military vehicles belonging to al-Gaddafi's battalions. The Ghout Asha'al area in the capital Tripoli is witnessing operations against the battalions as electricity and communication is being sporadically cut off. The living conditions in the Libyan capital are deteriorating and its residents are complaining of a lack of food and essential goods.

Guest, Male #4
There's a lack of supplies, people are missing, everything…we're in a state of war.

Reporter, Male #2
Neither are these night demonstrations in support of the colonel nor is the shooting into the air lifting the morale of the city. The revolutionaries are controlling over half the country and, here they are, celebrating their continuous victories despite the magnitude of their sacrifices.

Obama calls on Syria's Assad to step down

Future TV, Lebanon
Presenter, Male #1
Reactions condemning the massacres being committed by the Syrian regime are gaining momentum. For the first time, US President Barack Obama has called on Syrian President Assad to step down, condemning the heinous acts by the Syrian forces against civilians. Britain, France, and Germany also called on Assad to step down. The three countries believe that Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer rule the country.

Reporter, Male #2
Mass international pressure is mounting on the regime of President Bashar Assad, who continues to crackdown on Syrian protestors calling for an end to the nearly four-decade totalitarian rule under his and his late father Hafez's reign. For the first time, US President Barack Obama has called on President Assad to step down and described his calls for dialogue and reforms as "hollow." In addition, he strongly condemned the brutal attacks of the Syrian forces, including the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians in cities like Hama and Deir ez-Zor. Obama also condemned the arrests of opposition figures who have been denied justice and subjected to torture at the hands of the regime. The Obama administration also imposed fresh sanctions on Syria's government, freezing its assets in the US as well as banning petroleum products of Syrian origin. The latest round of sanctions against Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government prohibit US entities, wherever they may be located, from engaging in any transactions or dealings with Syrian petroleum products. The Obama administration also blacklisted a new round of Syrian companies, including the state-owned General Petroleum Corporation, which controls the country's oil and gas industries. The new sanctions also prohibit American citizens from dealing or investing in Syria. In another related development, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US sanctions "strike at the heart of the Syrian regime."

Guest Female #1 (Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State)
The people of Syria deserve a government that respects their dignity, protects their rights, and lives up to their aspirations. Assad is standing in their way. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for him to step aside and leave this transition to the Syrians themselves.

Reporter, Male #1
The European Union also called on the Syrian President to step down, saying that his regime has lost any form of legitimacy and credibility. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that the European Union notes the complete loss of Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside. In addition, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, and David Cameron issued a joint statement calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and for imposing new firm sanctions against his regime. The French President, the German Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister urged the Syrian regime to immediately end all violence, release 'prisoners of conscience,' and allow the UN to send a mission to Syria to assess the situation. The three countries believe that Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer rule the country. Canada also joined the countries demanding the resignation of Assad and imposing sanctions on his regime, despite its oil interests in Syria. Switzerland recalled its ambassador in Damascus, and condemned the violence of Syrian forces against civilians.

Additional opposition groups to boycott Bahrain's parliamentary elections

Al-Alam, Iran
Presenter, Male # 1
Supporters of Bahrain's February 14 Revolution called for a mass demonstration in the village of Krana to confirm their right to self-determination and to force the regime to meet the people's demands.

Reporter, Male # 2
It seems the Manama government's policies, enacted in response to the popular mobilization in Bahrain, have deepened the division between the two sides and increased the government's isolation. An isolation made clear everyday as major political groups in the country are boycotting the parliamentary elections. These supplementary elections are set to be held in September to fill the seats of opposition ministers who resigned. After al-Wefaq Islamic Society, the National Democratic Action, al-Menbar, the Democratic National Rally announced their boycott of the elections, the Nationalist Democratic Rally confirmed its boycott of the elections as well. The society said the elections come amid difficult political and social conditions after the imposed state of emergency led to the arrest of hundreds and the dismissals of thousands of employees for their participation in peaceful demonstrations. For its part, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights expressed concern over the involvement of members of the ruling Khalifa family in the torture of protestors. The center received testimonies of detainees who reported about their torture by members of the ruling family. The Islamic Action Party called on the families of martyrs, detainees, and fired workers, to protest in front of the fact-finding committee in solidarity with all those oppressed and to demand the release of detainees. The hardship of many Bahrainis is not limited to physical torture and arrests; they are also at risk of losing their livelihood. Bahraini newspaper al-Wasat reported on the employees who were fired from a bank with no real reason justifying their termination. The reason for the dismissals is said to have been their unacceptable behavior and conduct. Meanwhile, night marches and peaceful demonstrations continue across different towns and villages, starting with the island of Sitra, and reaching Sar, Kura, and al-Diraz, southern al-Sahla, Ma'ameer, and the list goes on. Residents across all age groups took to the streets to confirm their commitment to their just demands of reform and change. In addition, they condemned the government's policies and demanded the release of the detainees and the downfall of the regime. And even though the protests have been peaceful, they have been met with violence by the security forces that have used a wide range of weapons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

Media's new role after Egyptian revolution

Nile TV, Egypt
Presenter, Female #1
Joining us today to discuss the media's role before and after the January 25 Revolution is Mr. Gamal Zaida, managing editor of Ahram newspaper's political section. Welcome to our show Mr. Zaida.

Guest, Male #1
Thank you very much.

Presenter, Female #1
Let's watch the following clip then start our conversation on the media. We have seen substantial changes in the media since the revolution. Unfortunately, the press, and especially the state-run media, used to serve the authorities and if you allow me to say so, it used to clearly serve the authorities. The post-revolution change has been radical, as some are saying, and even al-Ahram newspaper issued a supplement in the name of the youth of Tahrir.

Guest, Male #1 (Gamal Zaida, Managing Editor at Ahram Newspaper)
You are right. It is clear that the post-January 25 change has been tangible, just as you said. In Egypt, we used to live in a police state, which means that the security controls many aspects of life. A university professor could not be hired until receiving approval by the security apparatus; to form a local association, approval by the security was also needed; any activity within society needed to get the approval of the security first. So this apparatus used to control all activities in Egypt including the media and there was no difference between independent media and state-run media. On the contrary, the editor-in-chief of the state-run press used to receive instructions from the government or government institutions. However, the majority of journalists are free journalists and have no relation to the issue. Former editors-in-chief used to make over 1.5 million every month, meaning they were drawing in money. In turn, that editor-in-chief would immediately carry out any request that was submitted. It was a period of hypocrisy and insincerity. The president would be praised as if he was Egypt's pharaoh and the ruler who could never do wrong. It was obvious for the editor-in-chief but a large number of journalists had no connection to this issue. The opinion section in al-Ahram didn't have any connection to this issue. The opinion section in al-Ahram has always welcomed writers affiliated to various political parties, from the most rightist to the most leftist.

Presenter, Female #1
But newspapers impose a certain policy that defines the paper's character; it decides who its writers are.

Guest, Male #1
The headlines and the editor-in-chief are decided on but that's it. There has been noticeable change. The range of subjects and the freedom that was found after January 25 greatly expanded. Today, everyone can be subjected to criticism, including the president of the country. At the moment we don't have a head of state so criticism is even directed at the Military Council. The Military Council is being criticized by al-Ahram newspaper and some state newspapers as well. The independent newspapers used to play the same game.


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