Category Archives: Israel

The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce

Francesca Albanese writes for Mondoweiss:

‘During its first 14 days, the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip has left a toll of over 500 dead, the vast majority of whom civilians, and many more injured. Thousands of houses were targeted and destroyed together with other essential civilian infrastructures. Over one hundred thousand civilians have been displaced. By the time you will read this article the numbers will have grown higher and, despicably, no real truce seems in sight. When I say real, I mean practicable, agreeable to both sides and sustainable for some time.

The Israeli government, followed suit by Western media and governments, was quick to put the blame on Hamas for that. Hamas – they claim – had an opportunity to accept a truce brokered by Egypt – and refused it. Others have already explained at length why this proposal crafted without any consultations with Hamas, was hard to accept by Hamas.

Much less noticed by the Western media was that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had meanwhile proposed a 10 year truce on the basis of 10 – very reasonable – conditions. While Israel was too busy preparing for the ground invasion, why didn’t anyone in the diplomatic community spend a word about this proposal? The question is all the more poignant as this proposal was in essence in line with what many international experts as well as the United Nations have asked for years now, and included some aspects that Israel had already considered as feasible requests in the past.’

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Israel’s security cabinet discusses both expanding Gaza operation, cease-fire efforts

The Jerusalem Post reports:

‘As Hamas head Khaled Mashaal indicated in Doha Wednesday night that Hamas was ready for a “humanitarian cease-fire,” the security cabinet met to discuss the direction of the military action inside Gaza, as well as the diplomatic efforts to stop it.

Mashaal continued to lay down conditions for the cease-fire, calling for lifting the blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007 and reopening the border crossings. He said Hamas would not accept any cease-fire that bypasses the demands of the movement and other resistance groups in the Gaza Strip.’

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Hug A Terrorist

Gaza Resident: I’m Called a Human Shield for Refusing to Leave My Home

Abby Martin speaks with Suha Najjar, a resident of Gaza City, discussing the horrors of daily life on the ground in Gaza since the Israel’s latest offensive and debunks the ‘human shield’ rhetoric often heard from the IDF when justifying indiscriminate killings of civilians.’ (Breaking the Set)

Israel’s military by the numbers

War tourism: Tour operators taking advantage of growing interest in travel to conflict zones

Moshe Gilad reports for Haaretz:

‘It’s a thin line between morbid curiosity about the catastrophes of others and a genuine desire to understand the world’s most sensitive areas. It’s what separates war tourism from deep journeying into a region in conflict. Nicholas Wood, a former New York Times Balkans correspondent who founded the study-tour company Political Tours five years ago, insists that his firm’s activities fall into the latter group. You want to get a nuanced and complex understanding of the situations we see on the television news, he said, adding, that the idea is not to be voyeuristic, but rather to gain a deeper understanding.

[...] Political Tours’s list of destinations is long and varied. It includes North Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, South Africa, Russia, Georgia, Libya, Northern Ireland and Scotland, where the focus is on the referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. A tour of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is planned for October.’

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Netanyahu said to have offered Lewinsky tapes for Pollard

Rebecca Shimoni Stoil reports for the Times of Israel:

‘Israel attempted to use tapes of former US president Bill Clinton’s steamy conversations with intern Monica Lewinsky to leverage the release of Jonathan Pollard, a new book on the Clinton family’s political enterprises has claimed. In the book, titled “Clinton Inc: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine,” author Daniel Halper relies on on-the-record interviews with former officials together with a close analysis of documents termed “the Monica Files” to paint a salacious – and uncomplimentary – picture of one of the most prominent political families in the United States

Halper reviewed hundreds of pages of documents compiled as a contingency to use in case the former intern ever was involved in legal action against Clinton. According to the author, the documents indicate that during the Wye Plantation talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, held in Maryland in 1998, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled Bill Clinton aside to press for Pollard’s release. Halper said that Israel had found new leverage to push for Pollard’s release.’

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UN Human Rights Council voting on investigation into Israel’s war on Gaza

Israel and the Psychological Dynamics of Totalitarianism

Normal Pollack writes for CounterPunch:

‘Silence, in the face of extreme moral provocation, is not golden; it is cowardice, in this case, for a Jewish person deeply respectful of Judaism for its ethical principles and writings, its “home” to much of modern radicalism and social protest across religious, racial, ethnic lines in struggles on behalf of all humankind, the seat of devotion for his parents, to be silent NOW, is to be complicit in the degradation of one’s faith as Israel taking the name of the Jewish State and claiming to represent world Jewry commits wanton war crimes and atrocities—and has for some time—on a helpless, desperate, defenseless people who have been under the Iron Heel of occupation for decades. Palestinians face subjugation on a daily basis; I, and my fellow Jews, face the long-term desecration of our faith and, ultimately, separation from God. For what purpose? To what end?’

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Cabinet ministers: IDF may have to reconquer all or part of Gaza to ensure security

Lahav Harkov reports for the Jerusalem Post:

Security Cabinet members said Thursday that the IDF may need to re-conquer all or part of Gaza to ensure Hamas does not continue to attack Israel. Communications Minister Gilad Erdan said during a visit to Ashkelon Monday that the IDF must continue fighting until it ensures long-term calm.

“We cannot stop the operation while it is still unclear whether the Gaza Strip will be demilitarized or not. If that means the IDF needs to stay in the northern Gaza Strip to ensure quiet, then we will have to reconquer the area near its northern border,” Erdan said.

The cabinet member added that he hopes there will not be a ceasefire in the coming days, until the threat of terror tunnels, with which Israel cannot live, is removed. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, visited Ashkelon, as well. “The fighting will continue for a long time and could include more expansions,” Steinitz said. “If we need to, we will take over the whole [Gaza] Strip.”‘

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Alexei Sayle: “Israel is the Jimmy Savile of nation states”

From the Belfast Telegraph:

‘Alexei Sayle has fiercely condemned Israel’s air strikes in the Gaza Strip, by comparing the nation’s behaviour to that of prolific sex offender Jimmy Savile. The comedian’s comments were released after Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip – killing one Palestinian civilian – after Hamas rejected a ceasefire plan and continued rocket attacks. 166 people in Gaza have died in the week-long offensive, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“Israel is the Jimmy Savile of nation states,” Sayle said on Tuesday [July 15th] during an interview with Caabu (Council for Arab-British Understanding). “It clearly doesn’t care about damaging the lives of children,” he added, referring to the late entertainer.

Sayle also described Israel as a “teenager that’s never been given any boundaries. [Israel] is endlessly indulged by its doting parents, the West, and has become a psychopath as a result. It thinks that everybody else is in the wrong and it is in the right,” he said.’

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Ukraine and Gaza: Spot the difference in the value of civilian lives killed by war

Lindsey German writes for Stop the War:

‘The fear Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow’s expressed on Twitter has turned out to be all too prophetic: “Awful danger that the shooting down of flight MH17 will provide cover for an intensification of Israel’s ground war in Gaza”. Yet the coverage of both events in the western media shows a quite shocking disproportion of standards between the two. While new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond argued the case for more sanctions on Russia as a result of the shooting, David Cameron, writing in the Sunday Times, went even further:

“This is a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them. We must turn this moment of outrage into a moment of action.”

The wording is uncannily reminiscent of Tony Blair’s call for action after 9/11, which has created much of the horror we are now seeing in the world. The media refer to Putin as a ‘terrorist’, there are calls to brand the Ukrainian separatist organisations as terrorist, and there are demands from the Dutch and other governments to take even stronger strong action against Russia.

It is hardly worth recording that attitudes to Israeli bombing and ground invasion are completely different in tone, let alone in trying to apply serious sanctions to a government which has repeatedly attacked Palestinians and who used the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish students on the West Bank to launch another attack on Gaza. When Philip Hammond was asked, by the BBC’s Andrew Marr, whether Israel was acting disproportionately in Gaza, he three times refused to answer, but blamed Hamas.’

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US Weaponizes Nearly Every Major World Conflict

Abby Martin reports on the militant group ISIS seizing 52 US-made heavy artillery cannons, going over several other examples of US weapons playing a role in almost every major global conflict.’ (Breaking the Set)

Gaza: Israel’s $4 billion gas grab

Nafeez Ahmed writes for The Ecologist:

‘Israel’s defence minister is on record confirming that military plans to uproot Hamas’ are about securing control of Gaza’s gas reserves. The conquest of Gaza is accelerating. Israel has now launched its ground invasion… Last Tuesday, Israeli defence minister and former Israeli Defence Force (IDF) chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon announced that Operation Protective Edge marks the beginning of a protracted assault on Hamas. The operation “won’t end in just a few days”, he said, adding that “we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas.”

The following morning, he went on: “We continue with strikes that draw a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying weapons, terror infrastructures, command and control systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, the houses of terrorists, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command … The campaign against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very heavy.” But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Ya’alon’s concerns focused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion.

Ya’alon dismissed the notion that “Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state” as “misguided”. The problem, he said is that “Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel’s past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel … A gas transaction with the Palestinian Authority will, by definition, involve Hamas. Hamas will either benefit from the royalties or it will sabotage the project and launch attacks against Fatah, the gas installations, Israel – or all three … It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”‘

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Israel Bombs Gaza’s Only Rehab Hospital: Staff Forced to Evacuate Paralyzed Patients After Shelling

‘Al-Wafa Hospital, the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza and the West Bank, was shelled by Israel on Thursday. At the time of the attack, the hospital was filled with patients who were paralyzed, unconscious and unable to move. We speak with the hospital’s executive director, Basman Alashi, who says the hospital received a warning call ahead of the assault. “I don’t understand why they hit us,” Alashi says. “We’ve been in this place since 1996, we are known to the Israeli government.” Alashi says no one was injured but the building was heavily damaged.’ (Democracy Now!)

Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow tears into Israeli PM’s chief spokesperson Mark Regev

NBC News Reverses Decision, Will Put Ayman Mohyeldin Back in Gaza

Matt Wilstein writes for Mediate:

‘On Thursday, NBC News reportedly pulled correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin out of the Gaza Strip citing “security concerns.” Meanwhile, NBC News correspondent Richard Engel was allowed to stay in the region. But now, it appears the network has reversed its decision and will be sending the reporter back to Gaza to continue his coverage as soon as possible.’

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CNN Removes Reporter Diana Magnay From Israel-Gaza After ‘Scum’ Tweet

Michael Calderone reports for The Huffington Post:

‘CNN has removed correspondent Diana Magnay from covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after she tweeted that Israelis who were cheering the bombing of Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”

“After being threatened and harassed before and during a liveshot, Diana reacted angrily on Twitter,” a CNN spokeswoman said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew,” the spokeswoman continued. “She certainly meant no offense to anyone beyond that group, and she and CNN apologize for any offense that may have been taken.”

The spokeswoman said Magnay has been assigned to Moscow.’

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Why Opposing the Israel Lobby Is No Longer Political Suicide

Phyllis Bennis writes for The Nation:

Palestinian woman‘[...] Something is different this time. And not only that the assault is different, and worse. The difference is the political environment in which this attack is happening, especially the political environment here in the United States. For those of us who’ve been working on changing US policy in the Middle East for decades, the bad news is in front of us every day: that policy hasn’t changed, and billions of dollars in aid money and uncritical political, diplomatic and military support for Israel remains constant.

But there is some good news. It’s only obvious when you can back up for a moment to look past the daily bad-news reality. The good news is that the discourse has shifted dramatically—in mainstream news coverage, punditry, pop culture and more. It’s much better than ever. They don’t get it right, still, but things are changing. Twelve years ago, during the siege of Yasir Arafat’s compound in Ramallah and the surrounding of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, we didn’t hear many Palestinian voices in the mainstream press. In 2006, during Israel’s attack on Gaza,The New York Times and NPR didn’t send their reporters to the Khan Younis refugee camp or to Gaza City.

But the coverage had already begun to shift during Cast Lead, the three-week Israeli war against Gaza in 2008–09, and we realized then how much the media changes reflected the overall discourse shift. Despite Israeli efforts to exclude the international press, Al Jazeera and other Arabic channels were broadcasting live out of Gaza. The Times had a terrific young stringer, Taghreed el-Khodary, filing hour by hour. Israel probably wouldn’t have allowed her into the Strip, but they couldn’t stop her, she was already there—born and raised in Gaza and living with her family.’

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Be Wary of Stories Quoting One “Israeli Official”

Joshua Keating writes for Slate:

‘This morning, a number of outlets including the BBC, AFP, and Reuters quoted claims by an unnamed Israel official who said that the Israeli government and Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire due to take effect tomorrow morning. The reports were quickly denied by both Hamas and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman though there are apparently ongoing talks facilitated by the Egyptian government in Cairo.

It’s not unusual for conflict statements to come out of a government during combat and high-pressure negotiations. The quick reversal struck me only because the New York Times led its front page this morning with an article declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza is “increasingly likely” according to a “senior Israeli military official.” The official “spoke on the condition of anonymity under military protocol” and “said that his assessment was based on “the signals I get””.’

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Report: Hamas, Islamic Jihad offer 10-year truce

Ma’an reports:

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have submitted a list of 10 demands to Egypt to establish a 10-year truce with Israel, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Wednesday. Maariv quoted a “high-profile” Palestinian source as confirming that Hamas and Islamic Jihad were willing to sign a truce if their 10 conditions were met.

The first demand, according to Maariv, is the withdrawal of Israeli military tanks from the border fence area to a distance that enables Gaza farmers to access their fields and tend them freely. In addition, Israel must free all Palestinian prisoners detained after the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the southern West Bank including those who were freed as part of Gilad Shalit prisoner swap. This precondition also includes softening procedures against all prisoners in Israeli custody.’

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US Taxes Pay for Israeli War Crimes

Ida Audeh writes for Antiwar:

With numbing regularity, Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, from the air, land, and sea, and the excuse is always the same: Hamas “terrorists” don’t accept Israel’s “right to exist.” The specific trigger this time: the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Hamas has publicly stated that it was not responsible for the deaths, and the claim is credible. Increasingly isolated, it had just concluded reconciliation talks with Fatah, a popular move with the Palestinian public, which it was not likely to jeopardize.

Bombing Gaza is convenient for Israel for many reasons: It ends further progress on Palestinian unity talks. It ends focus on the failure of the Kerry peace talks during which Israel continued to announce illegal settlement construction. It reminds all Palestinians that they will suffer a similar fate if they have the temerity to defy Israel. And it unites Israelis like nothing else.’

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Senate panel votes to double U.S. funding for Israel’s Iron Dome system

Donna Cassata reports for the Associated Press:

‘Congress is showing tangible support for longtime ally Israel as Gaza militants fire rockets, backing a measure that would double the amount of money for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee approved a defense spending bill on Tuesday that would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defense, including $351 million for the Iron Dome system that intercepts short-range rockets and mortars. In the latest hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Iron Dome has been successful in shooting down rockets and preventing Israeli deaths.

“It works,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the subcommittee.’

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Israel’s far-right spreads from the fringes

Bettina Marx writes for DW:

Demonstrators have gathered in Jerusalem’s city center, close to the former border between east and west. They carry Israeli flags and signs, and shout “Mavet la aravim” (Death to Arabs). They flag down taxi drivers, so they can check if they are Jews or Palestinians. The atmosphere is tense. Many Palestinian taxi drivers from occupied East Jerusalem work in the city. One young protester shouts an invective at Palestinians, while another replies: “Give it to them.”

The uproar was sparked by the deaths of three Israeli yeshiva students who were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. Their bodies were discovered buried beneath a pile of rubble near Hebron at the end of June. Hamas has been blamed for the deaths, although the group denies responsibility. Speaking at the youths’ funeral, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “A deep and wide chasm separates us from our enemies. They sanctify death; we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty, and we sanctify mercy. That is the secret and the foundation of our unity.”‘

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After Palestinian Unity Deal, Did Israel Spark Violence to Prevent a New “Peace Offensive”?

‘It is widely thought that the flare-up in Israel and the Occupied Territories began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the West Bank just more than a month ago. But our guests — author Norman Finkelstein and Palestinian political analyst Mouin Rabbani — argue that such a narrative ignores the broader context of decades of occupation, and recent events highlighting the expansionist goals of the Israeli government in the Palestinian land under its control. “Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict — which the [Fatah-Hamas] unity government was — at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction, in this case from Hamas, break up the unity government, and then Israel has its pretext,” Finkelstein says. Rabbani and Finkelstein are co-authors of the forthcoming book, “How to Solve the Israel-Palestine Conflict.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

Four out of every five Palestinians killed in Gaza have been civilians, UN reports

Robert Tait reports for The Telegraph:

‘Four out of every five Palestinians killed during Israel’s ongoing military offensive in Gaza have been civilians, including dozens of women and children, the United Nations said Monday.

The statistic was disclosed by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) amid mounting international concern over non-combatant casualties during an operation Israeli officials have said is aimed solely at rooting out militants and stopping rockets being fired into Israel.’

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FM Lieberman: Ending Gaza operation now will only mean more fighting in future

Attila Somfalvi reports for Ynet News:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Ynet on Monday that Israel must press on with its military operation in the Gaza Strip, or it will find itself in the same situation in the near future.

“If this operation ends now, it is clear to all that it would be just a break before the fourth operation – and that’s not worth a thing,” Lieberman said in an exclusive video interview as Operation Protective Edge went into its seventh day.

Lieberman also alluded to the possibility of an IDF ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, something which senior Israeli officials have long warned could happen if the rocket fire on Israeli communities did not cease.’

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Mainstream Media Manipulates Truth to Fit Pro-Israel Bias

John Pilger: On Israel, Ukraine and Truth

John Pilger writes for CounterPunch:

‘The other night, I saw George Orwells’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”

Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. “What a mindfuck,” said the young woman, lighting up her phone.

As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. “Democracy” is now a rhetorical device.  Peace is “perpetual war”. “Global” is imperial. The once hopeful concept of “reform” now means regression, even destruction. “Austerity” is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.

In the arts, hostility to political truth-telling is an article of bourgeois faith.  “Picasso’s red period,” says an Observer headline, “and why politics don’t make good art.” Consider this in a newspaper that promoted the bloodbath in Iraq as a liberal crusade. Picasso’s lifelong opposition to fascism is a footnote, just as Orwell’s radicalism has faded from the prize that appropriated his name.

A few years ago, Terry Eagleton, then professor of English literature at Manchester University, reckoned that “for the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life”. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake for utopian dreams, no Byron damns the corruption of the ruling class, no Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin reveal the moral disaster of capitalism. William Morris, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw have no equivalents today. Harold Pinter was the last to raise his voice.  Among the insistent voices of consumer- feminism, none echoes Virginia Woolf, who described “the arts of dominating other people … of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital”.’

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Israel ready to help Jordan fend off Iraq insurgents, minister says

Dan Williams reports for Reuters:

‘Israel is ready to meet any Jordanian request to help fight off Islamist insurgents who have overrun part of neighboring Iraq, an Israeli minister said on Friday, although he believed Jordan was capable of defending itself.

Jordan is one of two Arab countries – along with Egypt – to have full peace treaties with Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised Amman’s stability while echoing Western powers in pledging support to safeguard it.

Asked to elaborate on the statement, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said potential Israeli assistance could include sending troops or arms, though he saw that as unlikely. “We have an interest in ensuring that Jordan does not fall to, or be penetrated by, groups like Al-Qaida or Hamas or ISIS,” he told Reuters.’

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