Thursday, February 18, 2010


My Travels

It is 11:10 AM in London Heathrow Airport. My plane from JFK landed at 7:30 AM, but my next flight to Johannesburg, South Africa takes off at 5:40 PM. I will have yet another (2.5 hour) lay-over in Johannesburg before taking off to Maputo, Mozambique. I will be traveling in Mozambique and South Africa until March 11, when I will head to Israel on an open-ended stay.

With all this lay-over time, I am reading travel guides and warnings about potential dangers in Mozambique. In addition to the risk of Malaria, some 2 to 3 million landmines were left in the ground after the civil war ended in 1992. This has been a major impediment to the development of the country's economy, since much of the arable land was covered in mines. According to a UN report (which seems to be from around 1997) about 20 people were victims of landmines in Mozambique every month. De-mining operations are slow and costly, but it seems that after many years of removal efforts there were still several hundred thousand landmines left in the ground as of 2000. A recent report indicates that the Mozambique government hopes to have the country landmine-free by 2014.

Last week in Israel, two children were injured by a landmine while hiking in the Golan heights: an 11 year old boy had his leg amputated and his 12 year old sister was injured by shrapnel from the explosion. Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu called the boy to wish him well. During a Birthright trip to the Golan Heights in Israel, I remember taking a Jeep ride along a road on a hill spotted with what were formerly Syrian bunkers overlooking the Galilee. Along the sides of the road was a wire fence with a sign warning of landmines in the poppy fields beside the road (a twisted joke goes: the Arabic text reads "picnic area").

In other news (on the TV here in Heathrow), the BBC shows the Israeli Ambassador in London, Ron Prosor summoned to the Foreign Office over the recent assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. The Dubai police recently revealed that the assassins used forged British passports with the names of six British ex-pats.

Israel, of course, does not confirm or deny anything, but this wouldn't be the first time Israeli spies used forged passports in an assassination. In 1997, two Mossad agents with orders from Netanyahu, entered Jordan with forged Canadian passports and were caught after injecting a neuro-toxin into the ear of Khaled Mashal. After the botched attack, Canada recalled its Israeli ambassador.

In order to secure the release of the two captured Mossad Agents, Israel released Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin from prison. In 2003, after Yassin survived a F-16 bombing he made a statement: "Days will prove that the assassination policy will not finish the Hamas. Hamas leaders wish to be martyrs and are not scared of death. Jihad will continue and the resistance will continue until we have victory, or we will be martyrs."

Yassin was assassinated by a helicopter attack in 2004.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?