Burning sulphur near Mosul sends hundreds to hospital, U.S. troops don masks

Nearly 1,000 people have been treated for breathing problems linked to fumes from a burning sulphur plant set ablaze during fighting with Islamic State near Mosul and U.S. officials say U.S. forces at a nearby airfield are wearing protective masks.

The Qayyara West airfield is the main U.S. hub to support Iraqi-led operations to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State. There are about 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq but the U.S. military has not disclosed the number of personnel at the airfield.

“The winds have actually shifted south, so, as a precautionary measure, the troops at Qayyara West have donned their personal protective equipment – continuing their operations at this point in time,” an official said on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear if the troops had been ordered to wear the protective gear or if they had elected to, a second official said.

A Reuters reporter in Qayyara saw Iraqi soldiers wearing gas masks on top of their heads, ready to pull them down

Nearly 1,000 people have been treated for breathing problems linked to the toxic gases, sources at the hospital in Qayyara said, reporting no death at the medical facility itself.

A cloud of white smoke blanketed the region to the north, where the factory is located, mingling with black fumes from oil wells that the militants torched to cover their moves.

Air samples from Qayyara West were sent to the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency for analysis as to “what, if any concerns, may result,” another U.S. official said.

The U.S officials said Islamic State set the sulphur plant ablaze on Thursday during fighting around al-Mishraq, which is south of Mosul. Iraqi state TV said it the fire has been put out Saturday.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the official name of the U.S-led anti-Islamic State coalition, said it in a statement on Saturday it had provided more than 24,000 protective chemical masks to the Iraqi security forces and the allied Kurdish Peshmerga fighters during the training for the Mosul offensive.

Separately, the coalition said it the airfield of Qayyara started receiving on Friday fixed wing cargo aircraft, a U.S. Air Force engineers with the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group repaired it.

(Source / 22.10.2016)

Israeli MK calls for revoking citizenship of B’tselem director


B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad speaking before the United Nations Security Council

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A right-wing member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, called for revoking the citizenship of Hagai El-Ad, the director of Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, in response to El-Ad’s recent criticism of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territory before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, MK David Bitan, who serves as the Knesset’s coalition chair and as the whip for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, stated “I examined whether, legally speaking, if I can ask the interior minister to revoke the citizenship of B’Tselem’s executive director.”“I checked, and there’s no legal avenue for doing so today,” Bitan continued, “but we must strip his citizenship.”Referring to El-Ad’s appearance at a special meeting at the UNSC — when he slammed numerous Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank, particularly illegal settlement building — Bitan called El-Ad’s actions a “blatant breach of trust by an Israeli citizen to the state,” saying that “as such, he should find another nationality.”In response to Bitan’s comments, B’Tselem released a statement saying that “for nearly 50 years Palestinians have not had citizenship or rights. Now the coalition chairman, the messenger of the Prime Minister, wants to cancel of the citizenship of those who speak out against this reality.”
The statement added that the MK’s threats would not deter B’Tselem’s work, nor the “hundreds of thousands of Israelis who oppose the occupation.”
According to Israel National News, MK Zehava Galon of the left-wing Meretz party blasted Bitan for his comments, calling them “dangerous,” adding that “in a democratic country, citizenship is a basic right. It is not a gift granted to those who are favorable in the eyes of the chairman of the coalition.”In his speech to the UNSC, El-Ad highlighted that 2016 has been the worst year on record for the demolition of Palestinian homes, saying that “Israel has systematically legalized human rights violations in the occupied territories through the establishment of permanent settlements, punitive home demolitions, a biased building and planning mechanism, taking over Palestinian land and much, much more.”Following El-Ad’s speech, Netanyahu accused the group of “denying Jews our rights, spreading lies, and distorting history to recognize and condemn the actual barriers to peace,” and said he would act to prohibit national service volunteers from working with B’Tselem. However, the group was only ever allotted one such volunteer, and said that the position was not currently filled by anyone.Despite Netanyahu’s verbal assault on B’Tselem, the US came out in defense of the group, saying it was “troubled” by the attacks on the human rights organization, and that the US administration values the information published by the group about the situation in the West Bank.While the some 196 Israeli settlements in the occupied territory are considered illegal under international law, Netanyahu went on to say that the UN’s stance against settlements “only makes sense if you ignore thousands of years of Jewish history” and if “you accept the anti-Semitic Palestinian demand for a state free of Jews as somehow essential for peace.”
He continued his attack on B’Tselem by reiterating a previous claim arguing that since “over a million and a half Arabs live in Israel as full citizens,” then Jews residing in the West Bank’s illegal settlements could not be considered an obstacle to peace.
The last time Netanyahu made this comparison, Israeli parliament member Ayman Odeh said it was “an absurd equation between a native minority that has lived on this land for generations — a people on whose backs the state of Israel was founded — to the settlers, who moved into an occupied territory against international law and ignoring and violating the rights of the people of the West Bank and Gaza.”
Netanyahu insisted that “the real barrier to peace is not the settlements but the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundaries,” in spite of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) recognition of a state in Israel in 1993.There are an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Israeli settlers residing in 196 illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and a further 232 settler outposts considered illegal both by international law and Israeli domestic law, according to the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ).While members of the international community have rested the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the discontinuation of illegal Israeli settlements and the establishment of a two-state solution, Israeli leaders have instead shifted further to the right.
A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a binational state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
(Source / 22.10.2016)

Syrian refugee on trial in Germany for war crimes

A verdict is not expected before April 2017. (AFP/File)

A verdict is not expected before April 2017

A Syrian refugee has gone on trial on charges of working with a terrorist organization and participating in the kidnapping of a U.N. peacekeeper in Damascus in 2013 in what prosecutors call a “war crime”.

The 25-year-old, named only as Suliman A.-S., appeared in court in the southwestern city of Stuttgart with a plaster on his face.

Police said the plaster was covering a wound that was caused by another inmate when he assaulted him with a knife a day before the start of the trial.

The suspect allegedly participated in the abduction on February 17, 2013 and was “involved in guarding the kidnapped victim (a Canadian lawyer) between March and June 2013”.

He is “suspected of an attack during Syria’s civil war against a person, who was involved in a peacekeeping mission under the United Nations Charter, and was therefore entitled to protection,” the federal prosecutor’s office said when he was arrested in January.

A verdict is not expected before April 2017.

Germany has so far been spared large-scale extremist attacks.

But Europe’s biggest economic power has been shaken by two assaults claimed by Daesh and carried out by Syrian asylum seekers — an axe rampage on a train in Wuerzburg that injured five, and a suicide bombing in Ansbach in which 15 people were hurt.

Police last week said they had foiled an alleged plot by a Syrian refugee to bomb one of Berlin’s airports.

The cases have fueled anxiety over Germany’s record influx of nearly 900,000 asylum seekers in 2015.

Meanwhile, German lawmakers on Friday approved a law the government says will tighten oversight of the BND spy agency.

The most controversial section of the law is a clause allowing the Bundesnachrichtendienst to intercept communications of foreign entities and individuals on German soil and abroad which pass through a major internet exchange point in Frankfurt.

The government says this is necessary to detect possible militants planning attacks in Germany or Europe.

(Source / 22.10.2016)

Supreme Court of Russia Issues International Arrest Warrant For Netanyahu

On Septembre 12,Supreme Court of Russia ordered the state security and law enforcement authorities to include the names of Benjamin Netanyahu and two other Israeli leaders in the police’s national database, so he could be immediately informed should they enter or attempt to enter Russia.

The Israeli officials named in the order are under investigation for their alleged involvement in the military attack on Gaza.The implication of this order is that if any of these three Israeli officials sets a foot on Russian soil,Supreme Court of Russia could summon them as suspects in the criminal investigation and even order their detention.

(Source / 22.10.2016)

Sit-ins in Gaza, Ramallah calling for an end to the division


Hundreds of Palestinian citizens participated Saturday evening in a sit-in in Gaza Strip calling for ending the internal division and achieving a real national unity.

The sit-in was organized in Gaza city by patriots to end the division and restore national unity group.

The participants held Palestinian flags and chanted slogans calling for an end to the internal division.

During the event, member of the group Ahmed Youssef stressed the importance of national unity for the establishment of a national political partnership.

Meanwhile, a similar event was organized in Ramallah amid the participation of dozens of people.

The participants called for the implementation of the previous agreements that were signed during national reconciliation talks.

(Source / 22.10.2016)

Clashes erupt in Jenin camp following PA forces’ break-in


Violent clashes broke out at dawn Saturday in Jenin refugee camp when PA security forces stormed the camp amid heavy fire of live ammunition and tear gas bombs.

Local sources told PIC reporter that teargas bombs have been extensively used during the raid, which led to the outbreak of the clashes.

Local youths closed the entrance to the camp in an attempt to prevent any planned arrests, the sources added.

Similar clashes broke out more than once over the past week as PA forces tried to carry out arrest campaigns.

(Source / 22.10.2016)

Sexist Attacks against Pro-Palestine Women

There is a direct connection between Zionist racism and violence towards women. Recently, during the Gaza war, it became quite evident:

Sexist Attacks against Pro-Palestine Women

  1. Any woman who dared to express any level of objection to the war was answered with a barrage of sexist remarks and sexual harassment, unlike any male objector. Right-wing Zionists commented on her looks and many wished for her to be raped.

For example, Hanin Zoabi, a Palestinian MP, who defended the people of Gaza, was accused of being a terrorist by right-wing Zionist MPs and their supporters. Many explained her non-conformist views as resulting from sexual frustration, since she is 45 and single, unattractive, etc. They called upon men to have sex and even rape her to “calm her down.”

Another example from a different angle would be Israeli actress and model, Orly Weinerman. Orly also came to the defense of the people of Gaza and voiced harsh criticism of the Israeli government and army, however this time her views were dismissed for being a “whore” whose list of sexual partners include, god forbid, the son of Libyan dictator Mu’ammar Qaddhafi, Sayf Al-Islam.

So, according to right-wing Zionists, having too little or too much sex clouds women’s judgment and renders their views illegitimate. This caused one left-Zionist publicist to ask in one of her articles: “exactly how much sex must a woman have for her views to be respected”?

Again, men who opposed the war or even dared to mildly criticize the government or army were attacked verbally and physically, including prominent left-center Zionist journalists, pundits, artists and politicians. But no one felt the need to address neither their sexuality nor their sexual habits.

As for myself, I have also been threatened and sexually harassed for my position against the war. I’ve been called a “whore”, people wished I would be raped by Arabs or serve as one of the 72 virgins waiting in heaven for Muslim terrorists. Some of them came to where I live one night, demonstrated against me hurling obscenities.

The “Patriotic” Israeli Women…!

  1. During the war a new Facebook page, “Standing with IDF”, was opened which called upon young women to send full/half-naked pictures of themselves to boost IDF soldiers’ moral. On naked parts of their body, hundreds of Israeli women wrote “I *heart* IDF” and sent the pictures to be posted on this Page, which received more than 30,000 likes.

And if this disgusting willingness of young women to take part in the objectification of the female body wasn’t enough, some young women posted their contact info and offered sexual favors for combat soldiers as a way to help the war effort. Many men posted comments on this page supporting the view that satisfying soldiers’ sexual needs during a war is an obligation of patriotic women.

Rise of Sexual Violence during Gaza War!

  1. Statistics show that sexual and physical violence against women increased during the war on Gaza. Women’s organization in the underprivileged south of Israel report of a 60% rise in sexual violence in July 2014 compared to July 2013. A center for battered women reports of a 20% rise in women seeking refuge resulting domestic violence. Some of them claimed that they became used to a certain degree of violence by now, but during the war it became much worse.

The war on Gaza clearly shows how Zionist racism and verbal as well as physical sexual violence go hand in hand.

The oppression of women will end only when oppression in general ends. In Palestine this means, in the first place, to fight against the imperialist Zionist regime, which politically, military and ideologically justifies every step to fight against the just Palestinian struggle for freedom. As women we have to see, that there will be no end of oppression of us, until there is no end of oppression of Palestine.

We must unite to end the oppression of us! If we do not enlarge the struggle for a free, red Palestine, we will never be free. Join us!

(Source / 22.10.2016)

Syria: ‘Another Yarmouk’ feared as Palestinian death toll rises

Syria: 'Another Yarmouk' feared as Palestinian death toll rises

The rising casualty rate at Khan Eshieh camp has drawn comparisons with Yarmouk

The UN Palestinian refugee agency fears beseiged Khan al-Sheikh camp near Damascus risks becoming “another Yarmouk” as the civilian death toll continues to rise

A Palestinian refugee camp in Syria risks being “another Yarmouk” after four people were killed – among them a one-year-old baby.

UNWRA, the UN relief agency for displaced Palestinians, has condemned the October 18 attack in which a car was shelled as it attempted to leave the besieged Khan al-Sheikh camp, south of the capital.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation of Palestine refugees in Khan al-Sheikh and the real risk of it becoming another Yarmouk, the refugee camp in Damascus devastated by years of fighting and terrifying violence,” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said.

“Camp residents face grave risks when attempting to leave Khan al-Sheikh,” he added.

Nofeh Mohammed Jarad, who was in her 60s, her daughter Ibaa Saeed al-Nader, 22, their driver, and a one-year-old baby were killed in the attack.

The mother of the baby, a Syrian citizen, also died in the late-night incident.

The camp, home to about 8,000 Palestine refugees, has suffered intensified armed conflict since May, resulting in a rising number of civilian casualties and at least 31 deaths.

Earlier this month, two aid workers were killed by barrel bombs dropped on the area.

“Access to humanitarian assistance has been constrained since 2013 and UNRWA is particularly concerned about a lack of medicines and the impact this will have on children, chronic disease patients and the elderly,” Gunness said.

“UNRWA calls on the parties to allow civilians, who wish to leave the area, to do so in safety.”

At least 3,191 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in March 2011, including hundreds who have died making the perilous journey across sea to Europe.

(Source / 22.10.2016)

UN Human Rights Council Demands Immediate End to Aerial Bombardment of Aleppo, Calls for Probe

The UN Human Rights Council agreed on Friday to launch an “independent special inquiry” into the situation in Aleppo, where the top UN rights official said air strikes constituted war crimes.

The 47-member state Geneva forum adopted a resolution, submitted by the UK along with Western and Arab allies, by a vote of 24 states in favor, 7 against with 16 abstentions. Russia, China, Algeria, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Burundi voted against the resolution.

The Council asked the existing UN commission of inquiry on Syria to “conduct a comprehensive independent special inquiry into the events in Aleppo” to identify those responsible for violations and to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the siege and aerial bombing of Aleppo constituted “crimes of historic proportions” that have caused heavy civilian casualties amounting to war crimes.

In the resolution, the Council urged the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement, and demanded that the regime and its allies put an immediate end to all aerial bombardment and military flights over Aleppo city.

The Council also demanded that all parties, in particular the Assad regime and its supporters, promptly allow rapid, safe, unhindered and sustained humanitarian access, including across conflict lines and borders.

Hussein stressed that “indiscriminate air strikes across the eastern part of the city by Assad regime forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.” He said that Aleppo “is today a slaughterhouse – a gruesome locus of pain and fear.”

The UN human rights chief told the Geneva-based Council that hospitals, schools, marketplaces, water facilities and neighborhood bakeries have been deliberately and repeatedly attacked and millions have been denied life-saving aid.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said that around 414 people have been killed by Russian and Assad regime airstrikes on the besieged neighborhoods of Aleppo in the past month. The Russian attacks accounted for 338 of the victims, who included 104 children and 54 women. Attacks by the Assad regime forces were responsible for the death of 76 civilians, including 14 children and 9 women, according to a report by the rights group released on Thursday.

The Network pointed out that it has documented six attacks in which incendiary weapons were used by the Russian forces, adding that Assad regime helicopters dropped at least 15 barrel bombs on the besieged neighborhoods of Aleppo in the same period.

The Russian forces have committed 16 massacres in the past month and launched 30 attacks on vital civilian centers, the report added. The Assad regime forces have carried out three massacres and bombed four assault vital civilian facilities.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Coalition and the Free Syrian Army said that it is time for the United Nations to make “a thorough and real reconsideration of its positions and performance on Syria after the election of a new secretary-general.”

In a joint statement released on Friday, the Coalition and the FSA said that the “UN has been treating the executioner and the victim as equals, and its positions on Syria has helped the Assad regime and the Iranian-backed terrorist militia to execute their plans and provided a cover for Russia’s war crimes for which there has been so far no condemnation.”

The statement stressed that the UN has a responsibility of to stop the serious military escalation by Russia in Aleppo as well as other parts of Syria and its use of internationally banned weapons, including bunker-buster bombs, napalm, incendiary bombs, and chemical weapons. “Crimes of genocide and war crimes against Syrian women and children must no longer be tolerated and its perpetrators must be punished.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 22.10.2016)

Egyptian court confirms 20-year prison sentence on Mursi

An Egyptian court confirmed a 20-year prison sentence against former president Mohamed Mursi on Saturday, judicial sources told Reuters.

The sentence was for a conviction arising from the killings of protesters during demonstrations in 2012. It is the first of Mursi’s four convictions to reach the end of the judicial process, and he cannot appeal further against it.

Twenty-year jail sentences were also confirmed against other senior figures from the then-ruling Muslim Brotherhood, including Mohamed el-Beltagy and Essam el-Erian.

The men were convicted in April 2015 on charges including kidnapping, torture and the killings of protesters during unrest in 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood denies responsibility and says that most of those killed were from its own ranks.

Mursi has been sentenced in three other cases, including a death penalty for a mass jailbreak of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners during the 2011 uprising against longtime president Hosni Mubarak and a life sentence for spying on behalf of the Palestinian group Hamas.


FILE PHOTO: Deposed President Mohamed Mursi greets his lawyers and people from behind bars at a court wearing the red uniform of a prisoner sentenced to death, during his court appearance with Muslim Brotherhood members on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, June 21, 2015

The Islamist Mursi became Egypt’s first freely elected president in June 2012. An army takeover stripped Mursi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. Hundreds of Islamists have since been killed and thousands arrested.

(Source / 22.10.2016)