Israeli Religious Services Ministry calls for collective prayers in al-Aqsa


NAZARETH, (PIC)– Israel’s deputy minister for religious services Eli Ben Dahan confirmed that he plans to allow Jewish congregational prayers in al-Aqsa mosque as a response to the Israeli police’s refusal to allow the entering of extremist settlers and Israeli political figures to the mosque.

Ben Dahan strongly condemned during an interview with Israeli TV channel 10 the police prevention of the settlers’ from entry into al-Aqsa mosque, stressing on the Jewish worshipers’ right to have access to the “Temple Mount” in light of Israel’s tolerance, freedom and equal principles as he claimed.

The Israeli police has prevented Wednesday the entry of deputy foreign minister, Zeev alkene, to al-Aqsa mosque for fear of erupting clashes with the Muslim worshipers who repelled the provocative visit to the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

(Source / 19.07.2013)

Israeli ambassador calls Al-Sisi a “national hero for all Jews”


Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi a "national hero".Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi a “national hero”.

The Israeli ambassador in Cairo has told a minister in the interim government that the people of Israel look upon General Abdul-Fattah Al-Sisi as a “national hero”. According to Israel Radio, the ambassador rang Agriculture Minister Ayman Abu-Hadid to congratulate him on his new post and said, “Al-Sisi is not a national hero for Egypt, but for all Jews in Israel and around the globe.”

Israel is looking forward to the launch of new relationships with Egypt, said Yaakov Amitai, as well as joint efforts in the war on terror. His mention of “terror” is understood to be an oblique reference to President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters protesting against the coup which removed him from office.

The two men agreed on the resumption of the work of the Supreme Egyptian-Israeli Agricultural Committee. Meetings of the committee are held alternately in Cairo and Tel Aviv every six months. They also agreed to reactivate the Egyptian branch of the Future Leaders Network, which includes Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli youths.

(Source / 19.07.2013)

Kerry announces agreement for resuming Mideast peace talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks in Ramallah.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks in Ramallah.

An agreement has been reached that “establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between” Palestinians and Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Amman, Jordan.

“This is a significant and welcome step forward,” Kerry said.

This came as Kerry visited the Middle East this week and came up with a formula for reanimating peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian territories, a source close to the talks said.

He has been working intensely with the Palestinian side to get them on board.

Earlier Friday, in a meeting in Amman, Jordan, Kerry presented the plan to Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erakat in hopes that it will entice the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

Kerry arrived in Ramallah in the West Bank on Friday afternoon and began a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas for the third time during his current trip to the Middle East.

New city offers vision of better life in West Bank

Kerry said the agreement is still in the process of being formalized, so “we are absolutely not going to talk about the elements now,” he said. If everything goes as expected, representatives for the two sides will join Kerry in Washington “for initial talks within the next week or so, and a further announcement will be made by all of us at that time.”

“Any speculation or reports you may read in the media … are conjecture … because the people who know the facts are not talking about them,” he said.

Talks based on land swaps, pre-1967 borders?

One of the reports Kerry might have been referencing was a Reuters report quoting an Israeli official who said the Jewish state agreed to a plan for peace talks based on pre-1967 borders and land swaps.

It would be in line with a decades-old United Nations resolution calling on Israel to release territories it gained during a war, a demand that Israel has historically fought. But it would help create contiguous borders for a future Palestinian state that would coexist next to a Jewish state.

Israel’s official reaction to the report has been denial. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rejected the news agency story and questioned who in the government would have made the assertions.

Kerry had set up shop in Amman, Jordan, where he has already advertised the plan to the Arab League and to Abbas. Abbas briefed politicians in Ramallah after returning from his initial meetings with Kerry.

News of the plan triggered a reaction Friday from Mustafa Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian legislator.

“We need written commitments that there are terms of reference including commitment to 1967 borders. We need affirmation or guarantees that there will be no settlement expansions,” he said. Other Palestinians would not accept negotiations as long as they continued to grow, he added.

Israel has recently announced plans to add on to West Bank settlements, drawing angry responses from Palestinians and criticism from Israel’s Western allies.

The major bones of contention in negotiations are:

• The status of Jerusalem. Israel regards the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

• Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The land is known as Judea and Samaria in Jewish history, and Israelis say they believe that territory is part of the Jewish state. The Palestinians say the West Bank is Palestinian land. They also say they’ve been mistreated in their own land for years by Israel’s government, the military and settlers.

• Security. Israel has said it wants to be assured of the safety of its citizens from attacks by Palestinian militants in any peace agreement.

• The status of the Palestinians, who mostly departed Israel during two wars: one that led to the state’s founding in 1948, and one in 1967. Palestinians say some left on their own but others were driven out.

War spoils

Israel took over East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights after it fought Arab states in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Since then, Israel has forged a peace treaty with Egypt and returned Sinai to the country. It annexed East Jerusalem from the Palestinian territories, uniting the historic city to make it the capital of the Jewish state.

But it later unilaterally departed from Gaza, now run by the Palestinian group Hamas.

Israel currently occupies the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and part of Syria’s Golan Heights.

For years, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have made attempts to negotiate, but have repeatedly failed to get the process moving.

A sporting push for peace in Israeli-Palestinian relations

(Source / 19.07.2013)


By Peter Clifford     ©    (

Fighting between the Kurdish YPG militia and Islamists from the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and the State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), has escalated and is ongoing.

Having driven them out of the border town of Ras Al-Ain in Hasaka province and away from the crossing point into Turkey, the YPG have pushed on to remove the Islamists from their base in the village of Qasrouk with losses on both sides and the destruction of 2 ANF vehicles.

Islamists Clash With Kurds in Ras Al-Ain

Further clashes between the 2 sides are now being reported in the villages of Tal A’lo, Karhouk and Agha and in the Al-Sweidiya and Rmeilan oil fields in the region.

Traditionally a Kurdish area, there have been suggestions that the Islamists have been selling oil through middlemen to the Assad regime and buying weapons with the profits, breeding resentment among local people.

Islamists in turn are often condemning of the Kurds more liberal interpretation of Islam, including the formation of female fighting units.

There is also an unconfirmed report that an Islamist brigade has kidnapped 19 Kurdish university students on the Tal Tamer – Al-Hasaka road and taken them to an unknown location.

The ANF and ISIS are addtionally being reported to be shelling Kurdish militia positions in Ras Al-ain, some rocket propelled grenades hitting a border post on the Turkish side. Turkey will be even less happy with the YPG in charge as it sees them allied to the Kurdish separatist movement in its own country and denominates them as “terrorists”.

So far the fighting between the 2 groups around Ras Al-Ain has cost the lives of at least 19 Islamists and 10 Kurds.


In Aleppo, the Opposition fighters continue to advance with reports that they have retaken the Karaj Al Sfahiyeh and Khan Al-Bersham districts of the Old City, sneaking into Government buildings and attacking the Syrian Army stationed there with rocket propelled grenades.

You can see members of the Tawheed Brigade creeping into the grounds of a Government building which still flies the Assad state flag, HERE:

In western Aleppo, the Free Syrian Army is shelling Khan Al-Asal, while the Syrian Air Force bombs Opposition positions in nearby Rashidin. There is also heavy fighting in the north-west of the city at Qadisiyah. This video shows an Opposition fighter using a formidable weapon to target Assad positions in Seif al Dawla from a high vantage point, HERE:

FSA Prepare a Mortar Shell in Idlib

Assad’s Air Force is also using heavy machine guns to try and kill fighters besieging the Aleppo International Airport, Quwaires airbase and the city of Al-Bab, injuring a number of them.

In turn the Opposition used a captured tank to shell the Mennegh airbase yesterday to the north of Aleppo, HERE:

An unconfirmed report this morning, Friday, says that 42 Opposition fighters have been killed by regime forces east of Castilo in Aleppo province. Further details awaited.

In Homs, Government shelling on Opposition held areas both in and around the countryside near the city continues, but fighters are managing to hold their ground, eliminating 12 member of Assad’s militia in fighting on the edge of Khalidiya district.

In Idlib province 5 people, including an elderly man and woman, were killed when 4 Government missiles landed on the centre of the city of Saraqeb, injuring a further 10 children and 7 women. Residents are still looking for survivors trapped under the rubble of the destroyed buildings, HERE:

One more unconfirmed report says that Opposition forces have destroyed yet another Government convoy as it tried to break through towards Aleppo on the Ariha – Latakia road. So far the Opposition have held their blockade of the main highway to Aleppo, preventing Assad from re-supplying his forces trapped in Syria’s largest city.

4 Government rockets are also reported to have exploded in the industrial area of Deir Ez -Zour and large parts of the city have now been reduced to rubble as can be seen, HERE:

Zatari Refugee Camp – 120,000 Plus

Reports from Damascus this morning say that Opposition brigades have targeted with 120 mm mortar shells, the State Security Branch 285 in Kafarsouseh and the radio and television building in the downtown Umayyad district of the capital, reputedly get direct hits on both.

They have also targeted the Scientific Research Centre in eastern Damascus with Katyusha rockets, HERE:

The regime assault on Jobar and Qaboun continues with missiles causing major destuction in both areas. This video shows an attack on Tuesday, HERE:

There is also a report that 5 Government soldiers were killed this morning when they stormed a booby-trapped house in Qaboun. Yet the worst incident was when 6 men from Barzeh seeking to move cattle through a checkpoint on the edge of Qaboun were at first given the all clear to advance and then gunned down by Government troops.

This video (EDITOR: Warning, very distressing) shows dead men and animals on the ground with live cattle wandering among them and forlorn calves sitting next to their dead mothers, HERE:


On the international front, it is depressingly clear that the United States and the United Kingdom, recently a staunch supporter of arming the rebels, are prevaricating and backing away from doing any such thing, both Governments under pressure from elected politicians.

Malik al-Kurdi, the deputy commander of the FSA, said in an interview, that the West had sent “clear messages” that arms would only be forthcoming if the FSA agreed to fight Islamist extremists.

A Woman Hangs Out Washing in Camp in Iraq

“The message has been clear that only if the FSA fights the radical groups then they will get weapons. But that’s impossible because it will only create more conflict within the armed groups,” Kurdi said in a telephone interview with the Lebanese Daily Star talking from Istanbul.

His boss, Brigadier General Salim Idriss, the FSA commander in chief, is due in the USA for a visit next week.

Senator John McCain, a strong supporter of US military action in Syria, described General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as “pirouetting” in his on/off attitude to a military solution to the conflict while questioning him in Congressional hearings on Thursday.

Similarly, Britain’s outgoing army chief, General David Richards, said that a no-fly zone was not possible without activity at ground level to take out the regime’s defences and a lack of international consensus was preventing that.

John Kerry Flies Over Zatari Refugee Camp, Jordan

Meanwhile, President Obama’s Secretary of State for Defence, John Kerry, visited the sprawling Zatari refugee camp, housing almost120,000 residents, half of them children, in Jordan yesterday.

Angry residents told him that the US should set up no-fly-zones and safe havens for the millions of displaced Syrians.

“Where is the international community? What are you waiting for?” one Syrian woman told Kerry. “The US, as a superpower, can change the equation in Syria in 30 minutes after you return to Washington.”

Al Jazeera has a video report on some of the Syrians in the camp, especially teenagers and children, who are  suffering depression and anger, HERE:

The World Bank yesterday approved a loan of $150 million to Jordan to help it cope with the supply of health care facilities and materials and basic commodities to the refugees.

Leila Zerrougui, the United Nations’ special representative for children and armed conflict, said in Beirut on Thursday after a 3 day visit to Syria, “Syria will have to face a generation of children who lost their childhood, have a lot of hate and are illiterate.

She related the story of Abdullah, a 9 year old who was orphaned by the war and was bundled into a van with strangers by his uncle whom he saw shot as they drove away. Ending up in Beirut he was put to work by a criminal gang selling flowers and gum and regularly beaten up if he did not bring in enough money.

Abdullah is now safe in a church-run shelter, the House of Hope, but there are tens of thousands like him without proper care, education or protection. Bashar Assad you have a lot to answer for. You can read more from Associated Press, HERE:

Children Stuck in Bab Al-Salam Camp, Syria

Hamas not ruling out Israeli attack under cover of situation in Egypt


A senior member of Hamas has said that the Islamic Resistance Movement does not rule out an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip under cover of the situation in Egypt. Dr Salah Al-Bardawil said that other Arab countries are also under threat as Israel seeks to demonstrate yet again its “qualitative” military power. “The threat is real, given the extreme right-wing ideology expressed by the Netanyahu government,” he added.

Communications between Hamas and the Egyptians is “ongoing”, said Dr Al-Bardawil. “However, it is limited to the situation at the Rafah Border Crossing, the treatment of Palestinians at the border and the security situation.” He noted that Hamas communicated with the Egyptian intelligence agencies regarding their responsibility for the campaign launched by media outlets to incite hatred against Hamas and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. “They have assured us several times that they are certain that Hamas is not interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs,” he explained. “The media campaign is based on ignorance of the Palestinian cause by some journalists.”

The era of liberal and Marxist trends has ended, he pointed out “so they are jealous of the rise of Islamism in the region and have nothing better to do than try to hinder our progress.” The Zionist occupation is the only entity which benefits from the media campaign against Hamas and the Palestinians, said Al-Bardawil, likening the incitement to racism and fascism.

“The Egyptian media campaign has extended to include Syrians and it might extend further to include all that is Arab,” he continued. “Egypt may yet return to its pharaonic phase entirely divorced from its Arab and Islamic roots.” He called for an end to the campaign without delay.

Hamas is trying to explain its stance on the demonisation emanating from Egypt to the media and intellectuals by communicating with them directly, as well as with Egyptian political parties and security agencies. Dr Al-Bardawil raised the spectre of legal action against those responsible because many Palestinians in Egypt fear for their lives and deny their own citizenship when, for example, seeking medical treatment.

Al-Bardawil also pointed to Fatah’s role in all of this. “The Fatah movement has contributed to the smear campaign against the Gaza Strip and Hamas,” he claimed. “It has fed the Egyptian media with false stories and forged some documents in the name of the Izzedine Al-Qassam Brigades so that they become ready material for attacking the resistance.” This, he lamented, damages all Palestinians, including Fatah members, as the Palestinian Authority leadership knows all too well. “Hence, even they are now making requests for the campaign against us to be wound down.”

(Source / 19.07.2013)